💬 In Defense of Dignity

Mr. President.

I rise today on the matter of personal privilege. Even now I want to thank you and my fellow Senators for this opportunity. It is to defend my honor and dignity in the eyes of my peers – and, hopefully in your hearts.

There is no Senator today more bothered broken, and burdened than this very humble representation. I have been demonized without notice. I have been sent to hell without trial. 

I begin to wonder how the devil has organized so well his syndicate to do me in. He is virulent beyond compare. Even that is an understatement.

A former Supreme Court Justice who is now a columnist writes that I must be a really unflappable person if I am not bothered by the charges filed against me. And he is an honorable man.

If only to satisfy his former Honor, I say now that i am not bothered; in fact, I am broken. If he discovers satisfaction in my burdens, he must be an honorable man, indeed.

No, I am not putting a bold front. All the insults and innuendoes against my person continue to defy any form of remaining civility. These are thrown at me without restraint. My accusers have finally become mad.

For the past two weeks or so, I had remained silent. I thought I could stand the heat of the kitchen. I thought I could simply stand my ground in silence.

Mary Ong alias Rosebud, Angelo Mawanay alias Ador, and now Ramon Tulfo – I am sure I am not about to hear the end of it. As long as the people behind them remain insatiable in making my life miserable and broken, there will be more Rosebuds, Adors, and Tulfos coming out to vilify me.

I have decided to take the Hobson’s choice. I want them to go to court and go there with clean hands and clean mouths to answer the charges that my lawyer has prepared against them. I shall be putting not a bold front but a bold defense of my dignity and honor.

Mr. President, to defend my honor and dignity is my right. In fact, it is more than my human rights to do so. All the Tulfos and Mawanays and Ongs in the world have no power to take that right away. Not by their mouths, not by their pens. Not then, not now, not ever.

Mr. President, we must protect and preserve our criminal justice system. This is the only refuge we can offer to the innocent. It is the only revenge we can bring to the guilty.

Mr. President, without a high regard for this system, all other systems in our democracy will fail. So will fail all our most cherished institutions.

No less than Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has expressed her highest regard for our criminal justice system. In her first State of the Nation Address, she said and I quote:

“First, we must strengthen justice and the enforcement of law and order. This pertains to two levels. At the level of principle, this administration affirms its commitment to the principle that no one is above the law. Thus, our policy is to support the fair and speedy trial of all the accused involved in the cases against former President Joseph Estrada. The second level pertains to our sense that justice prevails and the rule of law prevails in our daily lives.”

I subscribe to the President’s construction of two levels, which are inseparable. The democratic principle that no one is above the law inspires equal treatment to all offenders. It makes due process an absolute right to the accused. It makes presumption of innocence as the first order of the law.

Mr. President, where such presumption is no longer observed, then the rule of law vanishes. Sooner than soon, the reign of the mob begins. And we all are done in.

Our rule of law provides for an adversarial mode under a criminal justice system. The philosophy on which this system rests, is the concept that justice is based upon the rule of law grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual and his capacity through reason for enlightened self-government.

This rule of law – according to that concept – stands on two grounds. One it is grounded in respect for the dignity of the individual. Two, in respect for the individual’s capacity through reason for enlightened self-government.

On the contrary, the rule of the mob imposes an inquisitorial mode under the old barbaric system that presumes the guilt of the accused. This rests on artificial props such as white papers and newspaper columns.

Mr. President, I have become the latest victim of that barbaric system. With your leave, may I take the floor to deny most vehemently all the false accusations so far leveled against me by Mawanay, Tulfo, and Ong and their cohorts.

One, I have been accused of destabilizing the Arroyo government by committing or attempting to commit rebellion. I deny this charge most vehemently.

The truth is, even as I speak now, there is not even a formal investigation against me at the level of the police or any law enforcement agency, as I have not received any summons or invitation for the purpose.

In every democracy, the government exists to serve and protect the People. Support to that government is effectively withdrawn only and only by the People who can do so either directly or indirectly. Without the people’s support, no group or groups can ever destabilize a democratic government.

Our history from 1986 to date proves that point. Armed adventurism – by the right, the left, or center – cannot succeed without popular support. It can only succeed as a good plot for a movie.

Let me bring home the point that adventurists – past, present, and future – know that to be a fact. That this present government cannot seem to realize this point is beyond me.

Two, I have been accused of plotting the assassination of the Vice President and other personalities in the private sector. I deny this charge most vehemently.

The truth is, at the same time that I was supposed to have plotted that dastardly act somewhere in Marikina, I was delivering my final campaign speech in our party’s mitting de avance in Pasay City.

I have already written the “would be victims” and expressed my regrets for the inclusion of their names in the assassination list which Ador claimed to have seen and could not produce.

Three, I have been accused of masterminding the murder of several persons. I deny this most vehemently.

The truth is, save for the Kuratong Baleleng case that this administration has been trying to revive, in violation of the rules of courts and criminal procedures, I have no other pending criminal case.

Mr. President, these are very serious charges. My accusers must prove them in court. I must be allowed to confront them – also in court.

Four, I have been accused of smuggling cellular phones and peddling them to certain users. I deny this most vehemently. Ador must be hallucinating.

For, how in this world could I make a profit of P585M, as alleged, out of the sale of 65,000 Nokia cellular phones, Model 3210 costing P4,000 each in the retail market? We certainly don’t have to be rocket scientists to see this mathematical impossibility.

Five, I have been accused of re-cycling drugs confiscated in Pangasinan.

The truth is, the same quantity and quality of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu was incinerated with full media coverage and in the presence of ranking government officials under the supervision of the National Drug Law Enforcement and Prevention Center. Certainly, Mr. Tulfo and his motivators have no qualms about lying.

A verified extortionist masquerading as a journalist, Mr. Tulfo will drop everything for money.

Very recently, I have been accused of laundering illegally acquired money in the United States. First, it was $150M, then, $500M and now, $700M. Or is it $200M? Again, I deny this most vehemently.

The truth is, I am not maintaining accounts in any of the banks in Hongkong, Canada and the US, or anywhere in the world except the Philippines, mush less in the amounts as staggering as what was published in one newspaper over the weekend. I do not maintain a joint account with anyone in the same foreign banks mentioned.

On the surface, the Philippine Daily Inquirer headline story of August 5, 2001 provides good reading. A closer look, however, at the details and the figures would reveal the amateurish clumsiness of the authors. How could the routing numbers or the location codes of the bank branches in three different areas be the same, as in Citibank, Ontario, Canada (0800), Citibank, California, USA (0800), and Citibank, New York, USA (0800)? Or, could the account numbers in all but one bank end in 000? Certainly, the fabricators and liars of this administration did not conduct even little research on the characteristics of bank account numbers.

Hindi lamang sila mga tamad, mga tanga pa sila!

In fact, I have written the US department of Justice and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation as early as the first week of June 2001, after being informed that a letter-request was forwarded by our own department of Justice asking that an intelligence report on the subject, as submitted by the Intelligence Group, Philippine National Police, then headed by Sr. Supt Reynaldo Berroya be investigated. I specifically requested the US government that the matter be looked into more expeditiously in the interest of all concerned.

I have likewise written the bank officials concerned to certify whether or not the bank accounts listed in the so-called AFP-PNP post operation report to President Arroyo actually belong to the persons indicated.

Mr. President, what we have now is a Chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines who, by his own stupidity becomes a threat to national security. He has become so gullible and this is dangerous.

Mr. President, I pose this challenge in the presence of my peers- I will go straight to jail without trial if my detractors can present verified information that would show that I have $700M or $200M in any bank in the world. If there is none, I ask that they go straight to hell!

Ang hirap sa kanila, Mahal na Pangulo ng Senado, hindi na sila nagiisip. Gagawa rin lamang sila ng istorya , hindi pa nila paghusayin. Sa kasalukuyang palitan ng piso at dolyar, ang $700M ay katumbas ng mahigit P37B!

Upang kitain ang halagang ito sa pagbebenta ng shabu, na tulad ng gusto nilang palabasin , mahigit 18 tonelada ng droga ang dapat madispatsa sa presyong P2000 bawat gramo! Wala ng matutulog na Pilipino, Mr. President.

O, dili kaya 7,400 na biktima ng kidnaping ang kailangang matubos ng tig-lilimang milyon bawat biktima upang kitain ang P37B. Mauubusan tayo ng mayayamang Intsik sa Pilipinas, Mr. President.

Today, there are more stories about my alleged properties and business interests in the United States. I used to own a modest house in San Diego, California in 1996, which I sold when I could not cope with the monthly amortization. It cost $170,000 more or less at that time. I do not have anymore properties abroad. As to business interests, a forwarding company based in Los Angeles, California was put up with some friends, but has not taken off to date.

When will all these concoctions end?

I hope my enemies will not accused me of killing Gat. Jose Rizal. In their dark despair, I would not be surprised if they would.

Mr. President, in any civilized society, government remains to be the custodian of the criminal justice system – never the opinion writers and reporters and demagogues.

Mr. President, in any democratic society, government is bound to play by the strict rules of the system – never by the loose tales of celebrity seekers. Otherwise, government itself becomes democracy ’s most dangerous enemy.

Mr. President, If I am proven guilty under our criminal justice system, I am willing go to hell. If innocent, my accuser should give the devil their everlasting company under his barbaric system.

To all my accusers, I have this message to give: Go to court with clean hand and clean mouths. I will meet you there – without hesitation, without reservation.

Mr. President, the center-point of this privilege speech has been our criminal justice system. With your leave – and owing to my role and responsibility in the has in the recent past as Chief, Philippine National Police – there are certain observations that the Senate of the Republic must not allow to pass unnoticed.

The criminal justice system of our country has been devised – by law and convention – to maintain a safe place for every one, protect the law – abiding from the lawless, and punish the criminal in accordance with law. For the system to remain strong, five pillars have been erected to support it: law enforcement, prosecution, judiciary, correctional, and community.

I cannot overemphasize the high expectation that all these pillars must not be allowed to be corroded and corrupted by whatever means. Otherwise, chaos reign and terror rules.

I am afraid, Mr. President, that the system is getting corroded and corrupted. Not as a whole but in my part. The pillar of the law enforcement is giving way to graft and corruption – and helplessly at that.

Jueteng has become back to life as if there is no tomorrow. The jueteng lords’ appetite for easy money remains insatiable. It is not only they who have become greedy, the police have restored their own separate greed for jueteng money. The no-take policy I implemented during my tenure as Chief, PNP is now a dead policy under Arroyo administration.

And the kotong cops? Ask any driver or viajeros today and he will be crying to tell everyone that kotong cops have come back. And, they are back with vengeance. What they failed to collect from November 16,1999 when I assumed office to January 20, 2001 when I resigned, they are now collecting all of them – including the interest!

Mr. President, before I was Chief, PNP, one of the most corrupt units in the PNP was the firearms and Explosive Division. For a fee, even the blind could secure a license and permit to carry firearm outside residence. I terminated the graft and corruption not only in that unit but also in its sister unit of SOSIA. Today, both office stink to high heavens!

When the PNP stinks, what can we expect from its services to the public? Garbage, All garbage.

The garbage today smells in the wave of kidnappings, carnappings, and other crimes. As a result there is real fear crime. Worse, Mr. President, there is fear in the police. Both fears are not only perceived, they are real.

Kidnap for ransom more than doubled from 22 cases reported during the first six months of 2000 to 54 incidents during the same period this year. Carnapping increased by 116 incidents from 608 to 724. Bank robbery likewise more than doubled from the previous 4 reported cases to 10 in the first semester of this year. Armed robbery also increased considerably.

The PNP today complains of negative reception that has adversely affected its image. It should do well for the Arroyo administration to have a very serious look at the performance of the police organization. The agency can only be as good as its leaders and their performance now found to be severely lacking and wanting.

When I assumed the position of Chief, PNP, the organization was suffering from a net negative public perception – minus 13% to be exact. When I stepped down in January 20, 2001 we were at net positive 58%. In fact, only one out of ten Filipinos distrusted their police.

I derive no personal pleasure in showing the flaws and faults of our police organization, which I once managed and led. But I feel sorry for our people. It is they who suffer most.

Mr. President, our people deserve peace of mind in their homes and places of work, in schools and public places, in the streets and malls, day and night. And they deserve police officers – who knows better than to play golf during office hours, who know better then to take money from jueteng and other illegal activities, who know better then to maintain fat stomachs, and who know better then to live like kings and princes.

Finally, Mr. President, I humbly appeal to my peers that these allegations be immediately looked into in a formal investigation if only to protect the interest and honor of these sacred institutions.

*****