‘You look guilty, but I will
defend to death your right
to know why and to deny’
Many Filipinos are insisting it is not important if the right of Senator Bong Revilla to know what fellow respondents say of him was violated.
So that they say the Ombudsman’s act of not giving Bong copies of the affidavits of fellow respondents during the preliminary investigation conducted by the Ombudsman can be ignored as it is only a technical matter.
They also say that the filing by Bong Revilla of a petition for bail is deemed that he already waived his right to
question the acts of the Ombudsman in not letting him know of what his co-respondents said of him in the issue of plunder of PDAF.
Well, I disagree with them.
To me, due process or the right to know the charges is the most sacred thing why this country was born.
Let me start at the petition for bail of Senator Revilla.
The purpose of the petition for bail is to obtain temporary liberty and the issue is whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong. There is nothing in the requisites of a petition for bail that says you cannot file the same if you are not waiving your right to question the validity of the criminal information against you and you are also not waiving your right to question the preliminary investigation.
Moreover, the accused in a non-bailable case like plunder is actually having his back against the wall if the trial court has already said that the information for the crime committed is valid. Even if he does not agree with ruling of the trial court (in this case the Sandiganbayan), the accused has no choice except to face the start and the proceedings of the trial or file a petition for bail as the only way to possibly get the earliest release from detention while trial is ongoing.
Meaning to say, if the accused actually has no choice, he cannot be said to have waived his right in doing acts that could otherwise be interpreted to mean a waiver were it not to the existence of compulsive circumstances.
It is an unbreakable doctrine that acts done due to compulsion cannot be considered as a waiver on the part of the actor.
Ergo, because he was compelled to file the petition for bail, the filing by Bong Revilla of a petition for bail is not a waiver of his right to question the nullity of the preliminary investigation.
Now, the purpose of raising the issue of lack of due process in the preliminary investigation was to prove that the preliminary investigation was null and void and as such it does not exist in law. And if the SC will find that the right of Revilla to due process was violated, then the decision of the Ombudsman stating there was probable cause for plunder becomes null and void. And if the result of the preliminary investigation is void, no right can be gotten from there by the prosecution or the Ombudsman.
By the way, the acts done by the Ombudsman that are null and void are altogether a different story that must not be countenanced. It cannot be considered as a mere technical issue. As distinguished from mere defects, mere defects do not affect the validity of the acts done.
By the way, I want to point out that VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS IS NOT A MERE TECHNICAL ISSUE. It is a substantive issue. It is the meat of all decent societies.
The right to a due process is in fact THE FOUNDATION OF THE ENTIRE JUSTICE SYSTEM and the bedrock of an orderly society.
To highlight how important is due process, the Constitution puts it as THE FIRST OF ALL RIGHTS IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS. It puts it in Section 1, which states: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW..."
The indispensable importance of due process was dramatized by Voltaire who once said, "Strike! But hear!"
To repeat, violation of the right to know and the right to be heard is not a mere technical matter. Rather, technical matters are those that refer to simple procedures on how a case will be conducted and does not affect substantive rights.
After all, the concerns of those who firmly believe that Bong Revilla is guilty as a clear sky, I am with them in
However, we are not left without a remedy if we must give THE LOUDEST VOICE FOR THE RESPECT OF THE RIGHT TO KNOW. After all, if giving respect to the right to know means throwing to the waste all that was started, the case can anyway be started all over again with full respect even to those who looked as the most guilty.
I therefore ask everybody to JOIN ME IN ADVOCATING THAT THE RIGHT TO KNOW and BE HEARD MUST NOT BE COMPROMISED IN ALL OCCASIONS, that we must respect this right of even the most guilty as we see.
The weakness of this country lies in the character of the people who invoke due process when affected and throw it to the garbage when thirsting for blood of the ones invoking it.
Without exception, since the time of Marcos this has been our culture.
The dictator trampled the right to know and be heard whenever he ordered imprisonment of those who stand against him.
Cory Aquino's men rejected the enemies' claim of violation of the right to know the charge and be heard.
Ramos' men also did the same to their opponents.
Erap's men also did the same to their opponents, worst even to the point of killing some.
In Gloria's time, it was worst: her minions caused the jailing of perceived enemies, including Brig. Gen. Danny
Lim, Antonio Trillanes, et al.
In P-Noy's time, he also has shares of violations of due process: his men disrespected the right of Revilla and Estrada to know the charges contained in the affidavits of State Witnesses like Ruby Tuazon in the case of Jinggoy.
I may see you as guilty, but I will defend to death your right to know why, and right to deny.
I want to see someday a society that gives the highest respect to the right to know the charges and be heard.