Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Angelo Reyes and the Kangaroo 'Court'

I feel for the family of the late General Angelo Reyes. Angelo, and to some extent his family, has been portrayed unfairly by the Senate and the media. He was a victim of a vindictive Senator who cannot get over the fact that their stay in MalacaƱang was short lived.

I say Angelo Reyes was a victim because even without the benefit of a fair and just trial, he was put on the spot by the Senate whose sole purpose for conducting investigations are supposed to be in aid of legislation. The Senate has no prosecutorial power, but it has the power to destroy a person, his reputation and his dignity.

What transpired in the Senate the past two weeks was not an investigation but a lynching. Angelo Reyes was lured to the lion's den under the guise of being a resource person in the investigation of the plea bargain agreement between the government and General Carlos Garcia. Instead, he became the focus of the investigation, with Jinggoy Estrada presenting no less than Reyes' kumpadre standing as a "witness" against him. What baffles my mind is why no one in the committee bothered to point out that the focus of the investigation has deviated from its original purpose.

With media playing the witting accomplice, Reyes' dignity was shred to pieces before the eyes of the nation and the world. He became the instant kontrabida in the unfolding real-life telenovela, without having been given the right to defend himself. In the words of Mr. Oakwood, "No, no, no. You have no reputation to protect". What an arrogant little prick Mr. Oakwood is.

The senate investigation, for all intents and purposes, violated the basic rights of Angelo Reyes under the Bill of Rights of the Constitution, to wit:

Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.

(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.

Sadly, our very own Senate, using the power of investigation in aid of legislation as its personal tool of vendetta, acted as judge, jury, and in the end, executioner. The senate, particularly Jinggoy Estrada and Mister Oakwood Trillanes, have the blood of Angelo Reyes on their hands. They used and abused their powers as senators to get even with the man that is Angie Reyes.

To those who believe in their heart of hearts that Angelo Reyes is guilty of the accusations hurled against him, I tell you that guilty or not, he should have been given his day in court, a real court, and not the kangaroo court that many of our fellow citizens watched lustily in their idiot boxes within the safety of their homes, not realizing that with the deprivation of Angelo Reyes' rights (which the viewers in their hearts allowed), they have signed their own death warrants, for in truth, if a man like Angelo Reyes can be deprived of his basic rights as guaranteed under the constitution, then the same can be done to them as well.

The only consolation is that he died with the presumption of innocence, albeit a paltry one, compared to his life. And to those who still managed to cheer upon hearing of his death, cheer while you can, for when it is your turn at the receiving end of injustice, I hope that you will then realize the importance of your rights.