“Look around. There are no enemies here. There’s just good, old-fashioned rivalry.” BOB WELLS
By Alex P. Vidal
The acts of indiscriminately filing plunder and graft cases against incumbent public officials by losing candidates and frustrated politicians has become a fad nowadays.
Incumbent government officials who are recipients of these suits cry political harassment because the cases were filed either by their political rivals or supporters of their rivals in the most recent elections.
It is always easy for the accused to dismiss the actions of their accusers as “desperate” acts of vendetta and sour-gaping because the public is more inclined to believe this type of defense mechanism. Nobody loves a loser. Victory, as the saying goes, has many fathers and defeat is an orphan.
The most recent congressional and local elections happened just four months ago and the scorching and bitter exchange of words between warring parties during the campaign period is still fresh in the memory of the constituents.
When a combatant falls in a close contest, it is usually the crestfallen who makes alibis and shouts highway robbery.
So even if the cases filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against Senate President Frank Drilon, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, and Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas appeared to be slambang and meritorious, they would still be tainted by an iota of doubt, suspicion and pessimism.
If the cases weren’t filed by former TESDA chief Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco (against Drilon) and former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. (against Mabilog and Trenas) but by ordinary citizens with no known ax to grind, people would think that Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas were really crooks and embezzlers.
We are not preempting the investigation being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman here. Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas might be found guilty or not guilty. If Syjuco, Gonzalez, and former Provincial Administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada (against Drilon) have loaded guns and indisputable pieces of evidence, they could hack out a grand slam.
If they slapped the three highest Ilonggo public officials with Ombudsman cases only because they wanted to get even for the drubbing (except for Mejorada) they got in the May 13 polls, the cases might nosedive and won’t merit any public outcry.
Public support or opinion, however, cannot convict or acquit the accused. It’s the weight of evidence that will do all the talking during the investigation, not whether the accused are popular and “more credible in the eyes of public”; not whether Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas are the lesser evils.
It is best that the accuser goes to court with clean hands in particular, and file the cases based on strong evidence in general–not based on past political conflict and degree of hatred for someone who inflicted the accuser a swashbuckling electoral defeat his ego and conscience cannot accept.