CEBU

Carvajal: How a democracy dies

I WONDER how Judge Rainelda Estacio-Montessa feels about insinuated aspersions on her competence and integrity. The undisguised insinuations are made by professional media and legal personalities (Maria Ressa, Amal Clooney, Hilary Clinton, etc.); yet they are all so unprofessionally based on hearsay. I suspect they are coming from the mountain of a snooty superiority complex.

The first insinuation is she is incompetent and lacks sufficient knowledge of the law and journalism. This is hearsay as in fact Rainelda Estacio-Montessa has been a judge in a court of law for 20 years and currently is a lecturer-expert on cybercrime here and abroad.

The second is she is biased like a judge should not be. But the trial, which suspiciously and questionably Maria Ressa did not honor with attendance, took eight months to conclude after all evidence from both sides has been presented and evaluated.

The third and most insulting of all is she is a puppet on a string that President Duterte pulls from behind the curtain. Maria Ressa’s camp insists sans evidence that the verdict of guilty was an act of subservience to President Duterte’s policy (yet, another hearsay) of silencing his critics.

These are the same people who insist the Duterte government should go by the rule of law. Yet when a court rules against them, like here and in that of Senator Leila De Lima’s case, they hit the government for grave violation of the rule of law. But who decides how the rule of law is applied in a given case if not the judge? Are they saying the rule of law exists only when judges give their adopted cases a favorable ruling?

Judge Estacio-Montessa is no angel and could, of course, be wrong. But don’t we have Courts of Appeal for that? “We are appealing” is the terse but decent statement a professional like Maria Ressa could have issued. Instead, she contemptuously used the awesome power of press freedom (that curiously she claims is being suppressed) to paint herself a victim of an incompetent judge’s subservience to the President’s dictates.

This unfair demolition of a judge who was simply doing her job can only come from feeling-superior beings. It grates that these will never tolerate even a whiff of a criticism on their own legal system that, as colored minorities would attest, is not exactly made in heaven.

Maria Ressa says this is how a democracy dies. She is right but not in the way she meant it. For a democracy dies when journalists like her, instead of submitting to the decision of a legitimate court of law, abuse the freedom of the press to publicly insult that court and unmake a judge with baseless insinuations of bias, incompetence, and servile obedience to executive authority.


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