Seares: Tomas, Mike as ‘due process’ victims

FORMER Cebu City mayor Mike Rama wasn’t being bitter when he reacted to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s allegation that Mayor Tomas Osmeña was a drug protector who received P7 billion bribe from a drug lord. Mike even wished Tomas would get the due process that the ex-mayor said he didn’t get.

The irony wasn’t lost though that Mayor Tomas had also accused his political rival Mike of accepting drug money from the same drug trafficker.

In a sense, they’re both victims of premature publicity of alleged crimes. In both instances, Mike and Tomas are tarred and feathered before a formal complaint could be filed.

Not enough evidence

President Duterte in at least three occasions said Mike was in his list of drug protectors. Without any evidence seeing light, even sketchy details, how Rama, as mayor from 2010 to 2016, protected drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz. Tomas also alleged, similarly without evidence, that Jaguar was angry at Rama for asking P10 million more after the first P10 million.

Tomas got the same treatment, not from Duterte but from DOJ chief Aguirre who said Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz, Jaguar’s cousin, executed an affidavit in 2016 that Jumbo handed to Tomas P2 million for hospital bills in 2013 and P5 million for the last election.

Obviously, there’s not enough evidence to start the legal work against Rama and Osmeña. There has not been any talk about suing Mike. And Aguirre is threatening to sue Tomas, not for drugs and bribery but for libel. Aguirre admitted the drug coddling and graft case against Tomas was still on “build-up” phase. Which might explain the delay in using Jumbo’s affidavit. Aguirre was scrounging barrel bottom for slime to hurl.

The shaming

Rama and Tomas are victims who are smeared even before any case can be filed against them. It goes with the territory, watchers of governance may say. But this goes beyond the usual harassment of public figures by those in power.

Until now, many Cebuanos are clueless as to the reason for Dutertes going against Rama. The Cebu is Binay country tag that Rama or his rival put up? Or Duterte may just be so absorbed in his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Aguirre’s offensive against Tomas, in contrast, is clearly driven by the city mayor’s accusation that the DOJ chief used DOJ to protect business firms that are sued by City Hall for short-changing the city on tax payments. Aguirre is hitting back, with ammo that may turn out to be a dud.

When it starts

Due process, it is said, begins to run only when a complaint is filed with prosecutors or the court. Fairness though must come with each act of governance.

Rama was capped on the knees even before any inquiry was opened. He was put to shame on national television. Now it’s Tomas’s turn to take a beating before the justice machinery can rev up.

Different tack

The difference obviously is that Tomas is unsheathing swords, not indulging in self-pity. He’s not protesting too much about the threats raining on him. Instead, he’s saying he’d fight back.

Mike, the other victim, has another tack: the typical posture of the meek who can’t inherit the earth, not even City Hall.

But then he’s up against a president who enjoys high trust ratings, not a justice secretary who’s severely battered by public opinion.
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