In Defense of Dignity

Manila Bulletin, August 7, 2001 | Go to article overview

In Defense of Dignity


MR. President,

I rise today on the matter of personal privilege. Even now I want to thank you and my fellow Senators for this opportunity. It is to defend my honor and dignity in the eyes of my peers - and, hopefully in your hearts.

There is no Senator today more bothered, broken, and burdened than this very humble representation. I have been demonized without notice. I have been sent to hell without trial.

I begin to wonder how the devil has organized so well his syndicate to do me in. He is virulent beyond compare. Even that is an understatement.

A former Supreme Court Justice who is now a columnist writes that I must be a really unflappable person if I am not bothered by the charges filed against me. And he is an honorable man.

If only to satisfy his former Honor, I say now that I am not bothered; in fact, I am broken. If he discovers satisfaction in my burdens, he must be an honorable man, indeed.

No, I am not putting a bold front. All the insults and innuendoes against my person continue to defy any form of remaining civility. These are thrown at me without restraint. My accusers have finally become mad.

For the past two weeks or so, I had remained silent. I thought I could stand the heat of the kitchen. I thought I could stand my ground in silence.

Mary Ong alias Rosebud, Angelo Mawanay alias Ador, and now Ramon Tulfo - I am sure I am not about to hear the end of it. As long as the people behind them remain insatiable in making my life miserable and broken, there will be more Rosebuds, Adors and Tulfos coming out to vilify me.

I have decided to take the Hobson's choice. I want them to go to court and go there with clean hands and clean mouths to answer the charges that my lawyer has prepared against them. I shall be putting not a bold front but a bold defense of my dignity and honor.

Mr. President, to defend my honor and dignity is my right. In fact, it is more than my human right to do so. All the Tulfos and Mawanays and Ongs in the world have no power to take that right away. Not by their mouths, not by their pens. Not then, not now, not ever.

Mr. President, we must protect and preserve our criminal justice system. This is the only refuge we can offer to the innocent. It is the only revenge we can bring to the guilty.

Mr. President, without a high regard for this system, all other systems in our democracy will fail. So will fail all our most cherished institutions.

No less than Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has expressed her highest regard for our criminal justice system. In her first State of the Nation Address, she said and I quote:

First, we must strengthen justice and the enforcement of law and order. This pertains to two levels. At the level of principle, this administration affirms its commitment to the principle that no one is above the law. Thus, our policy is to support the fair and speedy trial of all the accused involved in the cases against former President Joseph Estrada. The second level pertains to our sense that justice prevails and the rule of law prevails in our daily lives.

I subscribe to the President 's construction of two levels, which are inseparable. The democratic principle that no one is above the law inspires equal treatment to all offenders. It makes presumption of innocence as the first order of the law.

Mr. President, where such presumption is no longer observed, then the rule of law vanishes. Sooner than soon, the reign of the mob begins. And we all are done in.

Our rule of law provides for an adversarial mode under a criminal justice system. The philosophy of which this system rests, is the concept that justice is based upon the rule of law grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual and his capacity through reason for enlightened self-government.

This rule of law - according to that concept - stands on two grounds. …

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