There is an oft-repeated legal maxim which goes: “He who comes to court must come with clean hands.”
This simply means that one who goes to court with a lawsuit or petition asking the court for relief must himself be innocent of any wrongdoing or unfair conduct (i.e. have “clean hands”). This doctrine can actually be used as a defense in court by a defendant on the ground that his accuser has a “lack of clean hands.”
This is true for cases brought before the courts of law. This should also be true for issues brought before the court of public opinion.
Perhaps this is the reason why many ordinary folks watching the continuing demolition of Vice President Jejomar Binay by his political detractors are asking: Are these senators coming to us with clean hands?
In the court of public opinion, the “clean hands”
requirement should equally apply to similar infractions on the part of the accusers as well as to their hidden motives and political agenda.
It is this “clean hands” requirement which the Vice President’s adversaries are finding hard to meet.
Take the case of Senator Allan Peter Cayetano. The good senator has declared that he is running for president in the 2016 elections, a move that hardly generated any buzz among Filipinos. The latest surveys merely confirmed that the general public is not interested in handing him the top political post in the country.
Cayetano has piggy-backed on the Blue Ribbon subcommittee’s investigation of Binay. Before this, he raised the “political dynasty” issue against the Vice President, apparently believing that the presidency can only be won by dragging down the reputation of his rival instead of competing based on one’s own strengths.
Cayetano’s ploy seems to have backfired as it only raised questions regarding his own family’s political dynasty. It is, of course, public knowledge that his sister is a senator, his brother is a congressman and his wife is the mayor of Taguig City.
There is also widespread public skepticism that Cayetano’s war against the Vice President had nothing to do with the long-running (and heated) feud between Makati and the Cayetano fiefdom for control of the Fort Bonifacio Global City business district, especially after the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Makati.
So, does Cayetano pass the “clean hands” test? We’re sure the thinking public knows the answer.
Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, on the other hand, may have also hoped to achieve a coup, pardon the pun, by taking the lead in the Blue Ribbon subcommittee’s war against the Vice President.
Trillanes himself is a self-confessed aspirant for a higher position in the 2016 elections. The public has long suspected that his assault on the Vice President is meant to provide him with a good excuse to remain in the public eye. His “militaristic” demeanor may have generated some hatred towards the Vice President but we doubt it will increase his chances of being elected vice president.
The latest piggy-backer on the assault against the Vice President is the Blue Ribbon committee chairman, Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd, or simply Tootsie Guingona, as he was known during his Ateneo Law School days.
Many do not understand why Tootsie Guingona allowed the Trillanes-Cayetano tandem to run the Blue Ribbon spectacle against the Vice President. The speculation is that Guingona is actually cozying up to the Binays hoping that the Vice President would take him into their slate in 2016 just in case his Liberal Party junks him due to his serious “winnability” issues. He ranks no. 15 in the latest senatorial surveys.
Guingona has recently surfaced, making a media show out of his announcement that he is “accepting the challenge of the Binay camp.”
Again, just like Cayetano and Trillanes, Guingona may have failed the “clean hands” test. The way the public will surely see Guingona’s lame piggy-back attempt is that he merely wants take back the limelight that Cayetano and Trillanes had taken away from him.
Tootsie Guingona will have to look for other piggy-back opportunities to help revive a sagging political career pockmarked by a weak presence, biased questioning and factional partisanship.
At the end of the day, the demolition efforts against the Vice President may have come too close to the 2016 elections.
Elections admittedly have a way of making political aspirants go for the jugular, hoping that the attack on the frontrunner would increase their political stock. However, the frenzy for public awareness and approval often makes them take the negative campaign route.
But what happens after this Senate circus loses its public appeal? What happens when the public’s attention turns to the accusers?
Would the accusers pass the “clean hands” test?
As far as Cayetano and Trillanes are concerned, there are doubts they would.
As for Tootsie Guingona, the public will simply say, “Guingona who?”