Truth in action-A A +A
Monday, January 28, 2013
“JUSTICE is truth in action,” said Benjamin Disraeli, the famous British Parliamentarian. Well that we keep that mind in the search for justice for the murdered Benjamin the Bayan Muna-Negros Left activist.
At this point, no one can prejudge a guilty verdict, not even the accused suspects Private First Class Rafael Cordova aka Roger Bajon and PFC Reygine Laus, aka Ronnie, both members of the 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company of 61stInfantry Battalion.
For due process to fly, Cordova and Laus are deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law beyond reasonable doubt. The burden of proof on the determination of guilt or innocence is not on the suspects, but on the accusers.
We are a nation of laws, not a lynch mob that subscribes to vigilante justice. When a criminal case goes on trial, there is always a possibility of either an acquittal or a conviction. At this point, there is no done deal.
A guilty verdict will depend on how the prosecution has done its homework. An acquittal could mean, however, that the prosecution failed to create an air tight case against the suspects. Defense lawyers are known to focus on reasonable doubt.
I find it interesting that prosecution lawyer Senior Police Office 3 Joemarie Tuzon has testified for prosecution as a witness against the two soldiers during the hearing last week at the Himamaylan City Regional Trial Court.
Of course, I can understand why a lawyer would say that. Trained in adversarial combat, a lawyer for the complainant or for the accused would always insist that they have a winning case. But at the end of a trial, there will always be a winner or loser.
For the prosecution, that means convincing the court for a guilty verdict. A win for the defense means an acquittal. But to every client, no lawyer would say that they have a “losing case.” Otherwise, they can kiss their legal profession goodbye.
I find it disheartening that prosecution lawyer Edre Olalia made a press statement insisting that “If the military keeps on tampering with the rights of their clients and the people, this case will blow up in their faces because they were really involved in the incident.”
I find that press quip a bit funny. It’s up to the prosecution to make its case fly. But that also sounds like bait, a diversionary tactic to heap blame on an institution if they lose their case in court.
Olalia is not a judge, so we have to take his prejudgment against the military with a grain of salt. Of course, he has a right to his opinion. But that’s all there is to it, a non-binding opinion that cannot be deemed as basis for a guilty verdict not just on certain individuals but on an institution.
Besides, the Negrense military is not on trial, but two of its members out of a thousand soldiers deployed in Negros Occidental. The sins of a few cannot be the sin of the whole organization.
It’s like saying, I’m a Catholic, I belong to the Catholic Church. So does that mean I’m also guilty as hell for the sins that Pope John Paul II apologized for in behalf of Church’s injustices against the Jews, Galileo, women, people convicted by the Inquisition, Muslims killed by the Crusaders and almost everyone who had allegedly suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church over the years?
That would be a hu-uge stretch of the “truth.’ It’s like saying the Germans of today are just as guilty as their grandfathers or fathers who have been members of the SS, who killed and tortured people they labeled as untermenschen (subhumans).
No, I’m not siding either for the prosecution or the defense in the Bayles case. I side for the truth based on justice. Let us see what the criminal court of Judge Nilo Sarsaba would view the evidence. But not until then.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 28, 2013.