“We can’t have full knowledge all at once. We must start by believing; then afterwards we may be led on to master the evidence for ourselves.” Thomas Aquinas
By Alex P. Vidal
THE so-called “bombshell” uncorked by former Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. against several unnamed municipal mayors and police chiefs in the first district of Iloilo who supposedly “received” a regular payola or protection money from illegal gambling operators, was a dud.
Because Garin didn’t name names and failed to show the Provincial Board even a tiny piece of paper or document that contains his evidence, he only succeeded in besmirching the reputations of the municipal mayors and the police chiefs in that district.
Such a sweeping statement was uncalled for and wasn’t expected from someone of Garin’s stature.
What Garin said during the Provincial Board’s out-of-town session in Guimbal, Iloilo on January 27 can be considered as hearsay or unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one’s direct knowledge.
It can be dismissed as a saber-rattling by a powerful political personality with agenda he alone knows.
It was the kind of “information” we all regularly hear from the gossip mills.
It was the kind of gossip we regularly hear from the kapehan and barber shops.
Nothing was new.
It’s public knowledge that gambling and other illegal activities exist.
It’s common knowledge that some cops (not just their superior officers), public officials (not just municipal mayors), and even some media personalities (bogus and active) are “on the take.”
But because we lack the evidence or we don’t have sufficient information to back it up, we don’t say it in formal sessions; we can’t just slander anyone and get away with it.
Laura is a known prostituted woman because she accommodates male clients for sex for livelihood.
That’s a common knowledge in the neighborhood.
But nobody saw Laura having sex and receiving money from the male clients.
No client made a sworn statement that he went to bed with Laura.
If we announce in public that Laura is a prostitute, we’ll end up in jail if Laura files a slander or oral defamation case.
According to some lawyers, “truth is not a defense in a libel case.”
Going back to Garin, a former congressman who is the acknowledged patriarch of politics in the first district of Iloilo, his allegations were bereft of merits if presented in a formal court.
In the court of public opinion where politicians bring their cases attended usually by pomposity and blunderbuss, “crusader” Garin is a hero.
When we fight the devil, we don’t need to convince the public of our casus belli or case for war.
Municipal mayors and police chiefs who felt alluded to in the “expose” and who think they were unjustly crucified, can always run after Garin in a formal complaint (granting they have the guts to collide with this political demigod).
But still, Garin can easily wiggle out from any legal trouble because, in the first place, he didn’t name names.
No one can coerce him to confess his sources and specify his facts–unless he is being tried by the Catholic Inquisition.
A witty and grizzled politician for 30 years, Garin can easily attract media attention even if he will claim that a stray dog has bitten him.
Never mind if it was not him who bit the stray dog.
In the court of justice, Garin’s nitpicking will collapse.