Privilege Speech1 October 2007
I WAS HIT ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
In the accepted rules of debate, it is considered unfair and unethical to argue on the basis of personalities. The debater is only ever required to limit himself to the merits of the issue. Under the principle of sub judice
, when a matter is still pending before a judge, reporters may only report the facts, but may not even comment on the merits of the case, much less on the personalities involved.
Last Sunday, I was subjected to a personal attack by an alleged contributor, which was carried on the front page of a daily newspaper. There were several senators attacked, and there were some three senators who were praised. But in my case, it is very obvious that the writer was just engaging in character assassination. He did not refute my arguments, but concentrated on my personality, and on my personal characteristics. I was hit on a personal level, which is unethical, unfair, and implies that he is a hired gun, shooting me down for money. This is beneath despicable.
There are dead giveaways to the so-called contributor’s poison piece, which has to be part of a sustained and corrupt media blitz by a certain political group against the ZTE loan agreement, presumably so that the group could get its hands on the P1.5 billion kickback.
I suspect that this is a political group behind Jose de Venecia III, rather than Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos. De Venecia has taken an aggressive media position, while Abalos has been on the defensive. Both their allegations were substantially diminished by the point I raised during the ZTE hearing – that often, in trial, both sides could be telling half-lies and half-truths. This was also the point made by former Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz in his own opinion column in the very same issue of the same newspaper. Perhaps De Venecia felt stung, although in effect I said that this point could be true for all sides in the controversy.
Maybe this group could be temporarily allied with the political opposition. Maybe this political group is also partly funded by private service providers, who would lose billions in income, if the government stopped hiring their services, and instead government ran its own national broadband. Or maybe this political group is also partly funded by the “Oust Gloria” group. Maybe it is all of the above.
Here are the obvious detective clues:
Telltale Mark No. 1. The writer was expressing a personal opinion, but somehow it was sneaked into the Sunday front page news. This is a common tactic of black propaganda tacticians, so that the victim cannot issue a rebuttal on the same day, because offices are closed. Its proper place should have been in the opinion-editorial or op-ed page. In effect, the detractor was editorializing in a news page. Sometimes such editorials are carried on the front page, but only when they analyze issues, not disguised personal attacks on the personalities involved in the issue.
Telltale Mark No. 2. In maligning me, the critic used at least three negative and emotionally-laden adjectives in describing my personality. He was not interested in evaluating the merits of my argument, but in holding me up to ridicule, mocking my voice, my face, and my expression. Can we no longer make allowances for righteous indignation? That was a personalistic attack, which he knows full well is prohibited by the journalistic code of ethics.
Telltale Mark No. 3. The critic ended his poison piece by singing sycophantic praise for three senators, who just happened to be opposition senators who are against the ZTE loan, and are rumored to be presidential candidates. I grant that the three senators concerned may have had no connection with the media blitz, but may only have been used as a camouflage by the political group bent on a media scorched-earth campaign against those opposed to its kickbacks.
Telltale Mark No. 4. If the critic just wanted to evaluate the performance of senators during the hearing, then he should have given the plus and minus of each. Instead, he just gave a minus to all his adversaries, and then toward the end, where it could be conveniently inconspicuous, he gave a plus to all his protégés, thus betraying his political bias.
Telltale Mark No. 5. The proceedings to which he referred were widely televised, in some cases live, both here and in Filipino communities abroad. Did he hit me personally, because he could not answer my arguments, and was reduced to name-calling? Is an unseen hand paying for the media blitz, trying desperately to distract the public from the point I raised as a former RTC judge – that both sides may be telling half-lies and half-truths?
In conclusion, I call attention that when the Supreme Court is collectively or singly attacked by the media on a personal level, or when a pending case is publicly discussed on the merits, as a matter of practice under the principle of sub judice
, the court orders the writer to show cause why he should not be held in contempt. Similarly, I respectfully propose to the Committee on Rules that we should amend our Senate Rules Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. When Senate proceedings are still pending, reports and alleged observations should be limited to the facts and may even include the merits of the matter. Thus, the Senate would be adopting a more liberal rule than the sub judice principle of the judicial branch.
But if the attack is personal, the reporter should be ordered to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt of the Senate. Under Senate Rules, even a senator himself is not allowed to launch a personal attack against another senator.
I have been in national politics since I ran for president in 1992, or for over 15 years now. I was an RTC judge, and thus for some five years, applied and practiced the rules of evidence everyday. I am sick to my eyeballs of these corrupt and expensive media campaigns, always trying to destroy me personally, particularly when I have just scored a point that meets with approval by the general public.
I challenge the shadowy faces behind this corrupt media blitz. Come on you hypocrites, stop being sneaky. Be men, come out of the bushes, and reveal yourselves. Since you have chosen to engage in character assassination, let us have a showdown at the OK Corral – in full view of the TV public. I am sure my traitorous and hidden detractors will make asses of themselves.
Labels: Miriam, Philippine Daily Inquirer