Thursday, May 24, 2012

The rule of the mob and its implications for us all

Today I returned to Manila from a truly wonderful stay in Kota Kinabalu.

If I had a choice, I would have stayed on that beach instead of returning to Manila, a city where figuratively stoning a man to death in a Senate court has become a sport cheerfully participated in by supposedly educated people (and gosh, history is so full of similar cases of folly that are only understood as folly much later) and people are confusing propaganda with truth and forgetting the rules of law that were put into place by our lawmakers a long time ago precisely to protect us citizens en banc

The rule of the mob is dangerous for any society
So few people realize that this landmark case will have significance in the future for the legal rights of all citizens to be protected as innocent until proven guilty, and to be protected by laws that should not be changed or overturned at a whim to convict one man.

Our justice system follows the American system and so any person, whether justly or unjustly accused, should considered innocent until convicted -- regardless of government anger, mob rule and black propaganda promoted by media allies of the government and lapped up as truth by a populist mob. 


I'm as apolitical as you can get these days because I believe politics has become a useless exercise in an environment where money and power can overpower anything. Besides, our Senate and Congress are now heavily populated by individuals simply bent only on getting themselves in the headlines, getting into the good graces of the powers that be and getting re-elected. Who can blame them? It's very difficult to be in political and social siberia without a title of importance in this country.

But even as a distant observer, I think this poor man should be given a break until actually -- if ever -- convicted. Over six months, the entire force of a government and its allies in the media and the mob of populists has been thrown at him and his family, and every detail of their imperfect lives -- and who doesn't have an imperfect life? -- has been splashed onto the front pages of the major newspapers allied with the ruling party; and all they've have to defend themselves with is a pack of volunteers and a couple of mosquito press. Wouldn't you get sick as well?

Our laws, designed to protect all of us and not just the Chief Justice, require that anyone accused -- whether justly or unjustly -- is deemed innocent until proven guilty with solid evidence. I believe this should be followed regardless of what political persuasion you belong to, because this is more about the rights of citizens rather than just the conviction of one man. The laws should not change arbitrarily simply because one man is now on the government's hate list. Every single citizen should enjoy the protection of the law until convicted as guilty.


Besides, we've all had family arguments in our own lives, and money is always a point of contention; but we also know that there are also always two sides to a story. It really bogs the mind that the opposing side in this now very public family feud has been given so much airtime for a case only distantly related to the the impeachment.

How can private individuals have been allowed to use a government facility and public resources like the Senate hall for a press conference on an essentially private family matter? Again, this is not a matter of political sides but a question of proper usage of public resources.

It seems so many rules and standards have been bent to help paint the picture of the Chief Justice as an evil man, and the impartiality of our supposedly independent institutions against the Chief Justice is disturbing just because it shows that the government's might can crush whomever it pleases by using every instrument at its disposal. I don't think this has ever happened before in our history, especially with a case backed by so few facts that really constitute impeachable or serious offenses.


I don't know how many of these gleeful Facebook posters making jokes about illness and wheelchairs have ever made a long speech before an audience in their lives; but I can tell you that I've made 30-minute speeches a couple of times in my life and my blood pressure rose pretty high afterwards due to the stress and pressure of it all.

No one wants to fall down in public, so even I managed to finish my speech without fanfare and even answer questions as I could feel my blood pressure rise. But afterwards it was as dignified a walk as I could muster straight to the hotel clinic to lie down and get the blood pressure down. How much more after a three hour emotional speech to defend one's self? More people should put themselves in his shoes. Try having this nightmare happen to you or your loved ones.

This case is leading our beloved country into dangerous territory and dividing a nation that should be using its collective resources more productively to actually move forward and improve the state of our nation in the face of so much global uncertainty and actual poverty within its very own borders. Instead the country is at a standstill and the nation is glued to their television sets ever so distastefully cheering on a man's slow death. God help us all. Now back to regular programming.

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