IF you accept that Noynoy Aquino got due process when, for planning and implementing the Mamasapano Massacre, he was charged with mere usurpation of authority, you cannot cry that Kerwin Espinosa is being absolved because the drug charges filed against him are weak. Or can you?
It’s so easy to say, as many of the Yellow persuasion already have, that a self-confessed drug lord like Espinosa cannot be acquitted on narcotics charges while someone like Sen. Leila de Lima languishes in detention on similar accusations. But it would also be the height of irresponsibility that is the hallmark of the hypocrites who believe that only their partisan interpretation of ideas like due process should be allowed.
Here’s the thing: I believe that the authorities do us a disservice if they file charges that they know will be thrown out of court against people like Espinosa.
It’s way better to file charges in court like those lodged against De Lima, with multiple corroborating testimony and solid evidence, than to go after Espinosa with no testimony or proof, only to have cases filed against them dismissed. Because that is the key difference between these two cases — the sole witness against Espinosa has recanted, while those against the senator are still very much convinced that De Lima was involved in the Bilibid-based conspiracy to form a drug cartel and to profit handsomely from it.
In fact, the charges against De Lima have already been filed in a Muntinlupa court, where they can presumably be expected to hold up against the attempts of the senator’s lawyers to dismiss them. It’s all about the confidence level of the prosecution, which decides if there is a likely and forthcoming conviction, based on the strength of both witnesses’ testimony and hard, actual evidence.
That confidence is obviously wanting in the case against Espinosa, alleged Cebu-based and reported Duterte campaign contributor Peter Lim (if that is even his real name) and the rest. And if the half-assed charges against Espinosa, Lim and the rest are lodged in court right now, the prosecutors know that they cannot file the same charges later on, since due process protects people from prosecution twice after they have been absolved.
Unless you are a total, unthinking Yellow tool, you would know that the “double jeopardy” rule does not apply to prosecutors when they seek to determine probable cause, as the savvy legal analyst Trixie Cruz Angeles points out. Better to not elevate the charges right now, when probable cause is all but absent, than to let a court rule in the same way, thus permanently absolving Espinosa, Lim and the rest.
And because I subscribe to this strategy, I cannot agree with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre that he may use his power to automatically review all decisions of the prosecutorial service as head of the justice department and cause a reversal. I know Aguirre was merely playing to the crowd when he said that because he is a seasoned litigator.
In fine, a weak case is still a weak case that will be thrown out by a proper court, regardless of whether a lowly, wet-behind-the-ears assistant prosecutor or the mighty justice secretary brings it.
The real remedy here is to find charges against Espinosa and company that can be made to stick and make them rot in jail. And if the police and the prosecutors really want these perps in jail badly enough, these charges will be found.
What all of this boils down to, ultimately, is that the anti-Duterte forces will never allow the dispensation of justice if it does not further their partisan agenda. It is the same thinking that allows them to cry to the heavens that their favorite magistrate, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, cannot be removed for not filing her required statement of assets and liabilities, when errors in the filing of Sereno’s predecessor, Renato Corona, were enough to convict him.
Oh, and yes: his fans say Noynoy only got the justice that he deserved when he was charged in court with the silly rap sheet that claimed he usurped power that he already had. Now let’s see if he can dodge other bullets like the Dengvaxia scandal, especially since the cases will now no longer be rigged in his favor.
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On a purely personal note, I would like to thank everyone who condoled with my family after the death of my mother Juliana early last Saturday. The loss of my mother was a terrible blow to us, never mind if by most measures she had already lived a long and fruitful life when she died at the age of 88.
To those who, in ways big or small, helped ease the pain of my mother’s departure, my family is eternally grateful.