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Draconian Measures

Draconian Measures
Ronald Roy

It is most comforting to know that many young voters are aware that next year’s general elections will be an opportunity to vote down a malevolent regime and install one that will respond to their ideals and dreams, not only in their generation but hopefully in all the coming ones.
Over the past few days, I interviewed twenty one of them, including Adrian Meneses, a visionary seminarian. Fifteen believed Gloria Arroyo and her gang of electoral cheats, thieves, uniformed abductors and suspected salvagers of media people and militants should be prosecuted. Four dissented, saying forgiveness was the only way to heal the political wounds of the nation, while two had no opinion. Curiously, three who called for prosecution were children of GMA’s followers. If the “survey” is any indication, it is the vote of chiefly young idealists who will chart the country’s future.
And rightfully so. Theirs is the decisive vote, along with that of the poor, that will be delivered at the tipping point of frustration and anger, one might say, over the past nine years of economic retrogression and enslavement by the repressive ways of the regime, not to mention its greed that feeds on its equally corrupt foreign accomplices. It is the youth who must rise to the challenge of confronting the conditions that continue to imperil the life of their ailing society. Nothing much can be expected from some of their elders, those old dogs who cannot learn new tricks. But the youth should be ready to take over in around fifteen years provided their zeal remains undiminished.
The 19-year-old seminarian wants to see some changes in the law that can neutralize abusive public officials, particularly the president, the ombudsman and the impeaching members of the lower house. It’s quite clear Adrian has in mind the vexing double standards of justice. Well, although I am neither a constitutionalist nor a “criminalist”, I go along with his stand that we rewrite the Charter and the Revised Penal Code, among other laws, if we wish to see the fruitful operation of at least three legal principles: A public office is a public trust, a government official or employee is the people’s servant not their master, and nobody is above the law.
There is a saying in jurisprudence that it is less immoral to exonerate ten guilty people than to convict one innocent person. Indeed, during normal times when society’s mood is one of forbearance, we see an increase of acquittals if not an exceedingly generous recognition of human rights claimed by offenders. But when society’s mood has run afoul with rank abuse by the powerful, we see in people’s eyes everything from civil disobedience to revolution. However, prudence often points to an electoral exercise as the orthodox and viable alternative, hand in hand with a rewriting of the Charter and other existing laws to produce the needed reforms.
There are numerous settled rules that need to be urgently reconsidered. But for the moment a few jugular things come to mind in respect of the constitution and some statutes. For instance, we should now consider making it easier to determine probable cause against government officials and employees undergoing an inquest or preliminary investigation, or to facilitate the conviction of these privileged mammals by changing the norm of presumption of “innocence until guilt is proven” to one of presumption of “guilt until innocence is established”, in all cases involving public funds. This reversed presumption standard should hold true as well in the case of impeachments where the impeachers’ manifest abuse is wantonly committed in the course of their so-called discretions that routinely lead to the cul-de-sac of dismissal.
Under prevailing circumstances, it has become stupid to pursue an impeachment suit where an insufficiency in the complaint’s form or substance will inevitably be the result of a so-called numbers game. A numbers game, eh? Impeachments are solemn sovereign remedies, not games! Rubbing salt into our open wounds is the impeachers’ brass boast that their verdict is constitutional, even if the official whose impeachment was sought is, by the discernment of reasonable men, guilty on merely ethical grounds. That’s why the Charter must be changed to extirpate this mockery of justice. It sucks, Adrian, and unless we put an end to this charade that pretends to be democratic, we will forever be the world’s morons who never learned to fight for their survival.
These draconian measures surely will not sit well with some reformists, because they are contrary to the human temperament fallaciously associated with religion. On the other hand, we must seriously doubt if anything less than the cited innovations can arrest the free fall of an obviously decaying society. Or would we rather go for a risky revolutionary government that may fail, even if it is an option that our sovereign welfare empowers us to take? Salus populi est suprema lex. (Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517, landline # (02)7106701)

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