'You can’t prove a thing'
"I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me do it. You can’t prove a thing." So goes the line Bart Simpson, that cute little, yellow boy from the cartoon The Simpson’s is known for. It’s cute when Bart says it but not when its politicians and contractors who claim to be friends and acquaintances of a certain politicians’ spouse. Please. Spare us. Filipinos have already seen and heard too much of this “plea for innocence via the technical rules of evidence and criminal law” (and now for a lie detector test?) from the clowns that hold public office and those who drop their names. Just because something is not technically a crime, (e.g. name dropping), that does not make it ethical. And just because allegations of possible criminal acts by public officials involving transactions impressed with public interest have not been proven before a criminal court yet, it does not mean that it cannot and should not be a cause for concern for the public or lending institutions. We have all heard this before. We have seen it before. We have even heard a public apology for an act, which in no way meant that the one apologizing admitted to the wrongdoing. Excuse me but what the heck? She even moved her minions in Congress to prevent those recorded conversations from being played (even if millions of Filipinos already had their own CDs downloaded from the PCIJ website). We even had ring tones of it. Admittedly, the rules of criminal procedure are not ideal (a lot has changed). But one of the principles behind procedural due process and the standards of evidence in criminal law is the protection of the accused before an often all too powerful state which can deprive citizens of life, liberty and what most concerns FG’s pals, property. That is true when you are charged in a court of law. Innocent until proven guilty is the standard for criminal justice. But just because they have not been charged or sentenced for committing a crime YET, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot be excluded from public works projects. The rules of ethical behavior in public office and in public transactions do not require full-scale criminal cases and final sentences before they can apply. They have got to be kidding if they are suggesting that. Even if they painted their faces yellow like Bart while saying that, it can’t be and won’t be funny. Ethical rules of behavior apply to all of us but there is a reason for holding the behavior of public officials and those who deal with public transactions and projects to such high standards and that is because their actions have a huge impact on the common good. All of this of course is lost on members of Congress, who like many others in Philippine politics, would not know what ethical behavior looked like even if it sat on their faces. What is the world coming to? Children are being subjected to heightened state surveillance via random drug testing and sly politicians and their friends get off on every conceivable technical argument they can muster against reported unethical behavior. We treat children like criminals and politicos play innocent. Carolina Ruiz, Senior Lecturer, UP College of Law, via e-mail
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