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State Witness

State Witness
Ronald Roy

I start with the premise that, relative to the ongoing pork barrel scandal, I am angrier at our solons than at Janet Lim Napoles (JLN, for brevity). I am very angry especially at those whom I voted into office because I believed in them, and if, dear Reader, this does not drain you with a personal sense of let-down or, if you will, a betrayal of personal trust by those you’ve considered friends, I do not know what will.
But, because the offices to which they were elected are public trusts — following Thomas Jefferson’s definition — on the shoulders of 12 senators and 180 congressmen implicated by the Commission on Audit Report covering the 2007-2009 period will now rest the onus of showing that they did not betray the public trust in their respective cases.
Down the centuries, great words about “trust” must have come from a great number of poets, philosophers, statesmen and politicians. For me, however, most stimulating is George MacDonald’s declaration in The Marquis of Lossie that “to be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”. Would that our public servants drew great inspiration from his pronouncement lest they capitulate to the devious machinations of Mammon.
It may sound just like a metaphoric aphorism that the Executive Department wields the power of the sword, the Judiciary the power of the pen, and the Congress the power of the purse, but in a real sense they do. In the latter case, for instance, money matters are initiated in the lower house, and both chambers have a constitutional role in the preparation of the national budget.
In this light, therefore, it is not surprising that a pork barrel system would be insidiously designed for the use by legislators of their allocations, purportedly intended to benefit their constituencies, but only to end up in their pockets and those of other parties who helped to facilitate the diversions.
No wonder everybody wants to be a congressman or senator! One will even spend a hundred fifty million bucks for a senate seat because in return, if elected, he automatically gets an allocation of 200 million pesos; or in the case of lower house aspirants, an “investment” of tens of millions of pesos for an automatic allotment of 70 million pesos once elected.
On the campaign trail, these “trustworthy” keepers of the public coffers tell the crowds: “I know of your need for irrigation, a bridge here, more classrooms there, blah, blah, but do not worry. Vote for me and I promise to give them to you!”
And then, by George, betcha by golly wow, the fields are dry, the bridge is not here, the classrooms are not there, and holy macaroni, the money is missing !!! Whose crime is this?! JLN’s?! Sure, it’s probably hers! What now, do we string her up or stand her up against the wall?! Whoa, heck no!! Let’s save her so she can help us get the bigger fish: the solons!
Yes, methinks JLN can be utilized as a state witness. The solons are guiltier than her because, being public servants and constitutional trustees of the people’s money, they breached the fiduciary relationship they forged with the people who elected them.
No fiduciary vinculum, or tie or bond, exists where neither government people nor public coffers are involved. JLN, not being a government official, officer or employee, is not covered by the principle of fiduciary relationship. Accordingly, she may qualify as a state witness, not being the most guilty.
Admittedly, the foregoing treatise has yet to “test the waters” , but I am comfortable with it because it bears better logic that government people, particularly legislators who wield the power of the purse, should carry a greater burden of responsibility over the same than private parties.
I take this occasion to reply to a reader who asked me to distinguish between “state’s witness” and “state witness”.
The concept of “state’s witness” is generic, Billy (Mesina). In any criminal case, a witness for the prosecution is a witness of or for the state, and as such may be properly called the state’s witness. On the other hand, the concept of “state witness” is not generic, belonging as it does to the technical argot of lawyers, and can certainly be found in local jurisprudence, albeit not in dictionaries.
As for your other point, Billy, you are correct in finding no error, “protocol-wise or otherwise”, in Pres. Aquino’s having personally taken JLN to Camp Crame for detention. Yes, lower functionaries normally would have done it, but P-Noy went out of his way not to give her special treatment but to maximize her security.
Indeed, Billy, need the point be belabored that some solons would want her liquidated?! And if that happened, would not P-Noy be the dunce who goofed!?

(https://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy)

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