This is my column today.
Senator Ping Lacson finds himself in the middle of a major controversy today. And it is one that seems to have most of the requisites that would ordinarily—had it happened to an ordinary mortal and not a senator like himself—would have already merited congressional inquiry and a major dressing down and scolding from senators and congressmen.
Perhaps now the senator and his colleagues would have a better appreciation of that old truism that says everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Actually there are more truisms that come to mind as we witness the senator squirm, proclaim to high heavens his innocence, point fingers somewhere else, and invoke all kinds of conspiracy theories.
One really wishes he would stop doing all these because quite frankly, a simple “I don’t want to dignify dirty tricks” or “I am innocent so I will not react until I have been accused formally” would have done the trick. He still enjoys high credibility anyway, even despite previous insinuations of extreme Machiavellianism.
There’s that truism about how “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Incidentally, that hackneyed line was recently endorsed as a valid logical deduction by no less than Bataan Bishop Soc Villegas. The good bishop was quoted as saying that one proof that the President and her husband were guilty of grand-scale corruption was the litany of accusations that had been heaped on the first couple. I think Senator Lacson himself has used that line a couple of times in the past.
Another truism that comes to mind is best expressed in Tagalog and loses its flavor when translated to English: “Kung sino ang umaray, ’yun ang tinamaan (roughly, he who complained of pain got hit).”
And then there’s that admonition about how one who is in trouble should stop incriminating himself.
There’s even a parable that illustrates this lesson quite charmingly. A little bird was flying East to escape winter when it fell due to exhaustion. By some stroke of luck, it fell right smack into a pile of fresh cow dung. Initially, the little bird cursed its luck. But it soon noticed that the warmth given by the cow dung was thawing it out and giving it comfort. The little bird started to sing and rejoice. Thereupon a cat that just happened to be nearby, heard the ruckus the little bird was creating, pounced on the little bird and ate it. The moral is that if you are in deep s**t, shut up. In fact, come to think of it, the other moral of the story may also apply to Senator Lacson’s situation, and that is: Not everyone who dumps s**t on you is an enemy.
Let me make this clear: I am not saying that the senator is guilty. Like everyone else, he should be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise. If we are to believe conventional wisdom, probably more so because he is a senator —if someone of his stature cannot even invoke that basic right, what chances do ordinary mortals have?
The problem is that the senator seems to be reinforcing negative public perception. This is because, unfortunately, the gentleman has been protesting too much even when his name still has to be officially dragged into the controversy. Consequently, everyone I talked to is asking the same thing: Why is he making such a ruckus when he still has to be accused, formally, of the crime?
And oh, since we’re talking about truisms, there’s also that one about how offense is the best defense. It’s entirely possible that the senator, who lest we forget, used to be a military man and has expertise in intelligence work, knows something we don’t and is therefore taking matters into his own hands. Thus the senator has been quite vociferous in asserting that the whole thing is politically motivated and is a ploy to destroy his chances in 2010.
Unfortunately, we’re talking about double murder in this particular case. At the end of the day, the matter of political foul play should become irrelevant.
It is possible that Lacson’s enemies are milking the controversy to bits to advance some political agenda. It is possible that the senator is correct, this is another hatchet job from the usual suspects in Malacañang.
It is illegitimate political behavior, of course, but like I said, it is irrelevant in this particular case because the only question that needs to be answered is whether he is guilty or not of the crime he is allegedly being implicated in. So the senator’s whining about how the whole scheme is a ploy of the dirty tricks department of the Palace is really irrelevant.
The senator’s whining about how this controversy is besmirching his reputation is also not valid. He is a politician and therefore knows how to roll with the punches. Moreover, he knows that bad publicity is still publicity and in a run-up to an election, it’s name recall that matters.
Personally, I think everyone should just wait for former Senior Supt. Cesar Mancao to come back to the Philippines and reveal what he knows. All these drama and cat-and-mouse tricks to divine the contents of that affidavit is just plain grandstanding.
As yet another cliché says: It’s not over until the fat lady sings. Or in this case, until Mancao sings.