THE last time the country entertained the idea of a truth commission was after the infamous "I am sorry" nationwide address of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005.

This was before President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III announced last June 30 that former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. has accepted the task of heading the truth commission to investigate graft charges against the Arroyo administration.

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Nothing came out of the 2005 effort to investigate Arroyo on claims that she cheated to win the May 2004 elections by one million votes or more. Arroyo admitted it was wrong for her to call a poll official about her elections lead and said she was willing to face a truth commission.

The Bishops-Businessmen's Conference then suggested the creation of the body and recommended as truth commission members former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, Isagani Cruz, Michael Mastura, Joaquin Bernas, Ramon Farolan, Randy David and Romeo Capulong. Arroyo's critics did not believe the truth commission would reach any conclusion and suspected the group was a smokescreen to allow Arroyo to continue to be president. Nothing came out of that truth commission suggestion.

With Aquino now in Malacañang, the concept of a truth commission was revisited and Davide was named as its chairman.

President Aquino's decision was immediately met with mixed reactions. Some welcomed the creation of the commission; others doubted what the group could do and questioned the impartiality of Davide, who used to be an Arroyo appointee to the United Nations. Davide resigned his United Nations position last summer to return to Cebu and campaign with his son Hilario III in the latter's bid to run for Cebu governor. Davide swore Arroyo into office in 2001 after People Power II in Edsa. He also headed the impeachment trial of former president Joseph Estrada for plunder.

Only Davide's name has been mentioned so far by President Aquino for the truth commission as he has yet to announce the other members of the group.

Those doubting Davide can find comfort in the thought that the commission will have more than one person in it. The other members still to be named may be lucky enough to not have any prior links with Arroyo or her administration.

As Liberal Party spokesman and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III said, we should give the truth commission the chance to work. He said the public can offer information or present evidence that may be used in the graft cases to be filed against officials of the former administration.

Although doubts were raised over the independence of the truth commission, the creation of the body is towards resolving the graft cases left hanging by the Arroyo administration.

President Aquino is the right person to order this and now is the right time for such an investigation to proceed.

What Tañada hopes will make this latest effort at finding the truth different will be the participation of the Filipinos, including those still in government service, in providing information to graft investigators.

(ninicab@sunstar.com.ph)