Capture Archival’s killers

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Thursday, February 20, 2014


SOME members of Congress have misused or abused their parliamentary immunity, or the privilege they enjoy as provided for in Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution.

The privilege has become a personal thing to some senators. They use it to defend themselves from accusations or to hit back at their foes. Or they make a circus out of it for their benefit. This is not the intent of the law.

The purpose of the privilege is to enable members of Congress, as representatives of the people, to perform their functions without fear of prosecution. The privilege is not for their personal protection or benefit.

In the case of Osmeña v. Pendatun, the Supreme Court defines the purpose of this privilege thus:

“It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the courts or any other forum outside of the Congressional hall. But it does not protect him from responsibility before the legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter as disorderly or unbecoming to a member thereof.”

Under the Rules of the Senate, a member that avails of the privilege hour may refuse interpellations, but he may be advised by the Chair not to use any improper language.

He should use a language in conformity with the decorum and dignity of the House.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, allegedly hurt by the statement of Senate blue ribbon committee chair, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, after the testimony of Ruby Tuason used his parliamentary privilege to assail Guingona’s supposed pre-judging of the pork probe.

“I feel so hurt by the parting statements made by the chairman of the blue ribbon committee. If he chooses that battle, I will give him that battle,” said Estrada. The lines didn’t speak well of a people’s representative.

Estrada even forgot that the committee only functions in aid of legislation and could not judge him. Neither could it render a decision. It merely recommends to agencies what action to take.

The senators (with due respect to the erudite ones) are supposed to know their roles as the people’s representatives. But with the kind of legislators we have in the Senate, what do we expect?

Estrada, in delivering his so-called privilege speech, only exposed his ignorance of his role as a legislator. It was not surprising that veteran legislator Juan Ponce Enrile chose to tinker with his gadget than listen to his speech.

It is about time that we tell these senators to function as the people’s representative in the Senate. Estrada should not confuse his role as senator with his profession as an actor.

***

The gangland style killing of Atty. Noel Archival and his companions on board his vehicle on Tuesday afternoon is reprehensible. We were shocked when we heard the dySS news that he was ambushed in Barangay Coro, Dalaguete, Cebu.

He was a friend and a neighbor. He may not be an angel in the practice of his law profession but I know that he helped a lot of indigent litigants. We called each other “lomon,” a term in Surigao for “agaw.” He was supposed to marry a woman from Tandag, Surigao del Sur.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) should not only issue a statement of condemnation but should also ask the police or the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to pursue the assassins and bring them to the bar of justice.

It is not for me to speculate what could have been the reason for his murder but the means that his enemies employed does not justify the end.

We have a new and strict gun law. But the police seem unable to go after those who illegally possess firearms. Instead, those who comply with the law are the ones inconvenienced.

With the murder of Attorney Archival in broad daylight, are we lawyers safe these days?

Farewell, Atty. Noel Archival. May you rest in peace.

(atty.ellieE@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 20, 2014.

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