AND you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The quote is from the Good Book.
Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 drew inspiration from it, we do not know. What is known is that generations have sworn to the Biblical promise of the liberating qualities of truth.
The Truth Commission that President Noynoy Aquino’s first EO created has a clear enough mandate: investigate and find out the truth on the allegations of graft and corruption perpetrated during the past administration. Wikipedia describes a truth commission (or truth and reconciliation commission) as one that is “tasked with discovering and revealing past wrong-doing by a government in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past.” It is easy to see how EO No. 1 hews closely to this definition.
Amnesty International says that from 1974 to 2007, “at least 32 truth commissions were established in 28 countries.” One of these countries is our Southeast Asian neighbor, Indonesia, which created its Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2004.
The model of Truth Commissions, says Wikipedia, was the one established by Nelson Mandela in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. It was described as a “court-like restorative justice body.”
Witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experiences, and some were selected for public hearings.
Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from civil and criminal prosecution.”
So the Truth Commission is not an original invention of Mr. Aquino. The idea that it is necessary to discover and reveal past wrongdoing by a government has taken root and been practiced in at least 32 countries long before the first word in EO No. 1 was written.
The Truth Commission is therefore not an aberration that “(o)nly we in the Philippines will create” as claimed by Lakas-Kampi congressman Edcel Lagman. And granting for the sake of argument that it is indeed an aberration, its birth can only be traced to the condemnable failure of the prosecutorial and judicial agencies, whose constitutional mandate “to do all of this” Lagman trumpeted, to come up with a credible investigation.
The full composition of our Truth Commission isn’t known yet but already it is getting flak from all sides and for all sorts of reasons (“it has no real powers,” “it is meant to embarrass former president Arroyo,” “it is limited,” “it is illegal,” “it is unconstitutional” and so on, ad infinitum).
The Bible only said that the truth will set us free. John should have also written that finding it comes with a price.