The ‘kangaroo trial’

The long knives of Manny Villar’s political tormentors are out, of all places, inside the august hall of the Philippine Senate.

All of them belong to the majority bloc in the chamber, and they are now getting ready to “hang” Senator Villar like a “lynch mob of the American Wild West.”

That’s how Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. described the Committee of the Whole’s ethics probe against Villar. “The leadership is just looking for a rope to lynch Manny Villar, never mind the rules of due process and fair play.”

Pimentel’s words fit very, very well what’s called a “Kangaroo Trial,” a colorful piece of American slang to describe sham proceedings that deny due process rights in the name of political expediency.

[ad#philpolitics200x250]In other words, it’s a mock trial with the verdict already fixed. Oh yes, they are going through the motions of manipulated procedure, a scripted event intended to appear fair and just but the outcome has been predetermined from the start.

I now remember as what the Germans call “Schauprocess” or “show trial” with the final verdict of “guilty” fixed before.

And that’s exactly what Villar told the media when the so-called “ethics” inquiry started last week: “Pustahan tayo guilty ako dito!” This was before he declared that “I did not do anything wrong. I did not violate the law. I did not do anything unethical.”

“My only desire is to have the project (referring to C-5 extension road project appropriations in the national budget) to have this project finished which will hugely benefit the people,” he said. And then he pointed out that the probe was “all about the presidential election in 2010.”

Indeed, how in heaven’s name can Manny Villar expect a fair and just trial when the Committee of the Whole (which took the ethics probe from the Ethics Committee chaired by Villar’s political nemesis Senator Ping Lacson) has not excluded his accusers, who’ll now be among the judges, during the proceedings?
Why didn’t they inhibit themselves considering that they are known as Villar’s political foes and, like him, entertain presidential ambitions?

Yes, why did they ignore suggestions for them to do so by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who belongs to the majority bloc, too, and by the venerable former Senate President Jovito Salonga? And Santiago even warned Villar’s “hardcore rivals” to avoid public suspicion that the case is “driven not by ethics, but by politics”!

By their adamant refusal to heed pleas to be recused on grounds of partiality and conflict of political interests, they have compromised the integrity of the Senate as an institution.

Have they gone berserk? Have they not, by their irrational actions, given the word “ethics” a whole new and distorted meaning? And doesn’t it look like they can hardly tell the difference between ethics and injustice with their hypocritical and sinister plot to cause the political fall of Manny Villar, who’s considered the “best choice of the people” among others who entertain presidential ambitions?

When you’re riding high on popularity like Villar it becomes clear to see why his rivals are doing their utmost to destroy him politically.

And it’s becoming clearer that they, not Senator Manny Villar, are dismal examples of public ethics!

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