AS a thousand rumors flew and bounced back about his and other PNoy allies’ being named as Janet Napoles’ “mentors” in her new affidavit about the P10-billion PDAF scam, Senate President Franklin Drilon on Thursday organized a televised media briefing. What comment-makers in Facebook, Twitter and the other social media—not to mention some of the mainstream media—said about him being on Napoles’ list and the curses hurled against him must have stung so hard that he had to jump up.
The noblest essence of what he said to the TV audiences and reporters on Thursday is that everyone should be fair and just.
No one should indulge in black propaganda. The list of senators and congressmen named in Napoles’ affidavit should not be made public—unless there is “compelling documentary evidence” because that is moral and legal thing to do.
The release of the names of senators implicated by Napoles would only serve to damage the image and prestige of the Senate as an institution, he warned.
But “if the listahan is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. Pero kung listahan lang naman, eh siguro pag-ingatan naman natin ang institusyon ng Senado. [But if the list is supported and substantiated by credible documentary evidence, please go ahead. But if it just a mere list, eh, perhaps we should take care [that we don’t destroy]the Senate as an institution.],” the Senate President said.
He added, “Under the rules of court and under our rules of evidence, where the subject of the inquiry is the content of the document, the best evidence is the document. No other evidence is better than the document because documents do not lie.”
“The imputation must be supported by substantial, substantive documentary evidence.”
Whenever he talks about these things he cites his being a former secretary of justice, to raise his credibility and knowledge of the law.
Elementary sense of justice
What he has in effect been saying about the Napoles/PDAF affair is that the elementary sense of justice must reign. That is the aim of the strict application of the rules of evidence. That is why we must comply with the most basic civil requirement of making sure with proofs when assessing accusations. We must be careful when accusing persons in authority who represent honorable institutions because we must not just act morally toward these persons but also be respectful of the institutions they represent because bringing down these institutions would also shatter the foundations of our Republic.
He seems to have realized that what he did was wrong. What he did together with the other senators, the members of the House who prosecuted former Chief Justice Renato C. Corona in his impeachment trial, the media bowing to the dictates of President Benigno Cojuangco Aquino 3rd was unjust, unfair and less than legal.
They had the flimsiest of evidence or none at all to prove the House of Representatives’ charges against Mr. Corona. In the end the senator-judges found him guilty of failure to declare the correct value of property he and his wife had bought. And for that they voted to oust him.
They dishonored the Supreme Court and the other justices.
Testimonies have now emerged stating that President Aquino had to bribe the senators to find then Chief Justice Corona guilty.
Unfortunately, Senate President Drilon—at that time plain Senator Drilon because it was his political foe, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who was Senate President—did not seem as concerned as he is now about preserving the image and integrity of the Senate. For he did allow the bribery to happen.
And he did act during the trial and then voted against Chief Justice Corona without proper regard for the rules of evidence that he now invokes.
An old saw Senate President Drilon is fond of repeating is “Politics must not get in the way of finding out the truth.”
He must persuade President Aquino and the other leaders of their political alliance to take that saying to heart.