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Res Ipsa Loquitur

September 17, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Res Ipsa Loquitur
Ronald Roy — September 17, 2008

       Justice is every person’s goal who strives to help create the conditions of peace and order.  Justice is thus only a dream when not ensconced in a system of law and its blindfolded enforcement.  The justice system therefore degenerates into a nightmare if the society within which it operates is governed by ill-willed self-seekers who are regularly cloistered in the tyrant’s perfidious workshop, where they connive for further unjust enrichment, power and political perpetuity. They comprise the tiny minority who stand atop the world while we, the vast majority, lie at its bottom. 

       We receive lashes on our backs, as it were, for breaking the silence with protesting whimpers.  Then we are brusquely told to go to their controlled agencies or courts for a redress of our grievances.  This is what Trade Secretary Peter Favila did when he accused UP Law professor Harry Roque of engaging in a demonization drive against his President and her administration, on charges against a mining exploration project involving China’s ZTE Corp.

       I pinched myself to find out if I was awake. I was. There he was, Favila, at his histrionic worst, voice trembling and hands flailing, obviously feeling desperately obligated to rescue his benefactress and himself from ignominious embarrassment when Mr. Roque exposed the deal between the ZTE International and the Philippine government as grossly violative of our Constitution.  Favila was GMA’s authorized principal signatory to the agreement – which went pfft – but which he claims did not breach the Organic Law because, as he insists, it was not an agreement, but merely a memorandum of understanding (MOU) “where a mere intention to invest was expressed.”  Ay-yay-ay, Mr. Secretary, kawawa ka naman!  What you’re saying is: it’s not a car but a sedan, not a dog but a terrier, or not an evil bitch but his President! Not an agreement but an MOU, eh?  Should I laugh or cry?

       Belaboring a point is what I hate doing as a rule, but this time I will, because of a special hurt I feel when a learned and honorable law professor is insulted in public over legal matters.  At the same time, I assure that Atty. Roque can fight in any forum his legal wars without my help.  Mr. Favila, have you ever heard of the Latin adage res ipsa loquitur? If you haven’t, I advise you to look it up so that next time you’ll know how to avoid making a public mess out of yourself.  Layman’s language is what I’ll use so that readers who are neither law students nor lawyers can easily understand a foreign maxim of the legal argot.  I therefore narrate a fictional story.

       A serial killer is on the loose in the barangay.  You have joined the hunt and are now accompanying a policeman armed with a search warrant.  Together you enter the suspect’s apartment with a picklock and start scanning his room.  You see a life-size picture of his face hanging on a wall, shabu paraphernalia inside a drawer and, under the bed: a blood-soaked white T-shirt and a blood-stained balisong. Your common sense tells you the man you’re after is most likely the serial killer.  You are right.  The ocular inspection has spoken for itself.  Res ipsa loquitur tells you the state has a strong case for his prosecution and conviction, and even it you’re not a lawyer, you’re comfortable with your assumptions.

       Mr. Favila, the document is an agreement, period.  The word “agreement” appears eleven times, and the word “agree” three times.  “Memorandum of Understanding” appears only once, the initials MOU only two times.  Obviously you’re making a ridiculous effort to establish a closure of the ZTE-NBN scandal by contriving to show there never was an agreement.  But it won’t work because the document speaks for itself.  Of course, a friendly Ombudsman or court could rule in your favor.  But even then, hasn’t it occurred to you that there has been at least a brazen impeachable attempt to prostitute the Constitution?  Felonies come in three stages: the attempted, the frustrated and consummated stages.

*                                   *                                   *

       Texter #1600 seeks my comment on Malaysian Ambassador Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi’s assurance that his country remains committed to bring peace in Mindanao. Well, Malaysia’s oft-repeated declaration of love for Filipinos is baloney.  It’s sad our notorious military unpreparedness leaves us vulnerable to the covetous strategies of Malaysia and other foreign meddlers over Mindanao’s rich natural resources.  Clannish Muslims abound around the world, and this is where Malaysia gets its added muscle.  This, my friend, is a tumor throbbing in the national brain, albeit not as large as the one grown by the American imperialists.

*                                   *                                   *

       A professional’s handling of his tools is a measure of his competence, #1229.  No, I know very little of Press Secretary Jesus Dureza’s background, so I cannot really comment on his capabilities.  But recently he was quoted as saying: the effort to upgrade the military is “a work in progress.” Now, because language is the principal tool of a press secretary, I’m afraid Dureza committed a boo-boo.  To my knowledge, the noun “work” is never modified by the indefinite article “a.”  If I am right, then Dureza’s got some work (not a work) cut out for him.  The more dismaying point here, of course, is that we’re seeing a reflection of what may be a substandard quality of the entire cabinet. 

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       Texter #3113 wishes to know how I would grade the Senate of the Philippines in light of its constitutional mandate.  I don’t think we can doubt the upper chamber’s performance of its constitutional duties.  I’ll give it a passing grade.  However, in respect of its electoral mandate, I’ll give it a failing grade. I don’t think the winners in the 2004 polls knew then what their overwhelming triumph meant, which was to serve as a check-and-balance institution to curtail the excesses of a despotic regime.  If they don’t get their act together, the 2010 elections will be a walk in the park for Gloria’s candidates.

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