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Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing

Ronald Roy

​I rubbed my eyes three, four times, and a major daily’s big bold front-page words remained constant—“SC: Webb et al. not vindicated; decision didn’t rule on their innocence..” These were the words as ascribed to Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Midas Marquez. The statement, vague if not erroneous to lawyers, makes one wonder if Marquez was speaking for the court or himself. Either way he will probably get a reprimand even if after a subsequent interview with reporters he clarified the matter before his superiors.

​I believe that an official SC spokesman, when making a public statement, should always do so in behalf of the body he represents, and not in any other capacity making a personal opinion. He should in fact refrain from making dubious interpretations of the SC’s pronouncements, most especially its final judgments. I’d rather think though Mr. Marquez was misquoted or taken out of context.

​He was not exactly tactful when he said “justice was not served” in the Vizconde case because no one was found guilty. For this ambiguity, he drew a sharp rebuke from the President who naturally rose to defend the investigative powers of the executive department– a reaction which I believe P-Noy leveled at the spokesman rather than the court he represents.

​For the benefit of the general public, when the prosecution in a criminal case fails to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the court acquits the accused, and that’s the end of it. It is as though the court has explicitly declared his innocence. It would be preposterous to tell the accused he COULD still be guilty even if the prosecution failed to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, or he’s a free man even if he may not be innocent.

​I understand there were two other sets of suspects, apart from a certain Filart and Ventura whose whereabouts remain unknown. As to them and the other suspects, by all means the search for truth and justice must continue within the few remaining months left of the prescriptive period of 20 years ending in June next year.

​In criminal cases, the quantum of proof that is required to convict is proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is on the prosecution that the burden of this proof falls, with the accused enjoying a technical advantage in that his bare denial of the charge may suffice to exonerate himself if the prosecution fails to adduce evidence that he, beyond reasonable doubt, is guilty of the crime charged.

​In the instant case, however, apart from the fact that the prosecution’s entire mass of evidence was incredibly weak, Hubert Webb’s vital testimonial and documentary pieces of evidence were so convincing that one might say Webb succeeded in establishing his innocence beyond reasonable doubt.

By the way, have you ever wondered why Jessica Alfaro is on the run? Well, the correct answer will not only completely vindicate Webb’s acquittal in the public mind, but will also unravel the mystery surrounding his frame-up. In any event, the high court’s acquittal verdict is final, and no amount of public gnashing of teeth can justify a retrial of some or all of those exonerated.

Needless to state, an acquittal in any criminal case produces the closure that is needed to uphold the integrity of the criminal justice system under the Rule of Law. At the same time, let us note that while the rule of men—as opposed to the rule of law—has no place in any civilized society, their collective voice makes for a dynamic democracy.

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​Each man in the universe is unique, and journalists and lawyers, upholders of the truth as they strive to be, are no different. It’s unfortunate though that they get into more trouble than most other people because they are essentially opinion makers. Being opinionated, they naturally often disagree among themselves.

This holds true for legalists and scribes, myself included, who have defended the legal right of the Ampatuans to counsel, and the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Webb. But my one big consolation is being jeered for being right…ha ha ha. Levity aside, my greatest satisfaction comes from making an effort, big or small, to do the right thing, and I seek no reward higher than the calming reassurance I didn’t do the wrong thing.

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​The following incident happened between a Mexican lawyer and his journalist-wife. It was a romantic full moon and Pedro said, “Hey mamacita, let’s do weeweechu. “Oh no, not now, I’m tired!” said Rosita. “Ow c’mon baby, I love you and now’s the perfect time,” Pedro begged. “But I just wanna watch the moon” replied Rosita. “Please, do weeweechu with me.” Rosita sighed. “Okay, one time only, we do weeweechu!” Pedro grabbed his guitar and together they sang: Weeweechu a Merry Christmas, weeweechu a Merry Christmas…(Anonymous)

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