Press Release
September 8, 2017

My Insights on the Polong Duterte Hearing

The things that I saw and heard during yesterday's Senate hearing *(on the illegal smuggling of a 600kg-shipment of illegal drugs into our country from the People's Republic of China) can be categorized into three: Things that went as I expected; Things that surprised me; and Things I have been waiting to hear for a long time.

Of the things I expected, Polong Duterte and Mans Carpio's refusal to answer questions directed at them, their arrogant smirks of false bravado, and their not-at-all concealed contempt for the proceedings and its goal to ferret out the truth rank high.

Next is seeing Chair Dick Gordon handle them with kid gloves, almost lawyering for them. I guess it is only to be expected when in the presence of the "The Prince That Was Promised".

It didn't surprise me either that not a single resource person could credibly deny that the Bureau of Customs is a nest of corruption, though - suspiciously, yet unsurprisingly - not a single one admits to having personal knowledge of the "Tara System". Maybe, just like the Davao Death Squad (a term coined by the media), those who deny its existence, but are nevertheless aware of the summary killings being perpetrated by a murderous group, are merely playing on semantics: they deny the "DDS" exists because they call it by a different name. Corruption - by whatever name, shape or form it may take - is the same pestilential animal, and it must be exorcised from the ranks of our bureaucracy, whether in the BOC or PNP. The same with EJKs, summary killings and enforced disappearances.

The thing that DID surprise me, and perhaps everyone else glued to their TV monitor or radio, was the revelation that Polong Duterte might actually be "The Prince with the Dragon Tattoo" - except that, instead of being the distinguishing mark of a courageous crime-fighting heroine, it's more like the Death Eaters mark that, in this case, symbolizes membership in one of the many branches of Chinese transnational organized crime syndicates.

Polong Duterte's reaction put me back on "not surprised territory". He was apparently caught off-guard by Senator Trillanes's question because he seemed surprised enough to give a candid answer in the beginning, but suddenly backtracked and claimed his right to privacy.

I was not surprised either to see that, after the hearing, Polong Duterte's lawyer did his dirty job for him by offering to trade Polong's cooperation with an admission by Senator Trillanes that he is gay. It's amazing how shady people and their lawyers deflect pertinent and important questions by flippantly maligning the members of the LGBT community, by implying that there is anything shameful about being gay. Oh, 2017, I thought you would be a year of progress - but here we are, still at the mercy of misogynists and homophobes.

I did hear, however, things that I have longed to hear.

Senator Lacson confessed that it was hard for him to hear his son be falsely accused. Chair Dick reminded Senator Trillanes that "everybody has rights here." Senator Pacquiao went on the record to say two things: One, when someone says "Sabi nila sa akin" that is not sufficient evidence to adjudge a person guilty; and Two, hindi porke may picture ang isang public figure kasama ang isang tao, ay ibig sabihin kasama na sya sa transaksyon ng taong iyon.

Those words would have been so beautiful to hear coming especially from those three gentlemen. But they raise more questions and more cause for discomfort if we follow the implications of those statements.

Kung masakit kay Sen. Lacson na mapagbintangan ang anak nya, ano pa kaya ang nararamdaman ng mga magulang ng mga batang napatay dahil napagbintangan din? Mabuti pa ang mga Lacson at Duterte sons and son-in-law, may tagapagtanggol at makakapagpaliwanag sa harap ng buong bayan. Yung iba, sa morgue na ang tuloy.

Dito natin siguro makikita na ang tunay na "kasalanan" ni Kian ay hindi naging Senador o Presidente ang tatay nya.

Yes, Senator Gordon, everybody has rights. Not just "here" in the Senate, but even in the streets. Right? Apparently, not. While rights exist and are important if you are the son and son-in-law of the president, it appears that it's not necessarily so if you're a tokhang or EJK victim. If you happen to be the latter, the current Justice and Human Rights Committee Chair is there to tell you that you don't exist or you're a false statistic. There can be no EJK victims if there are no EJKs, right?

Senator Pacquiao, thank you for pointing out that testimonies based on "Sabi nila sa akin" should be given no credit and stricken out. Those are exactly the kind of trash "evidence" that the cases against me are based on - from the mouths of convicted felons pa, with an axe to grind and everything to gain from currying favor from the current administration that is so gung-ho on persecuting me. So is there any cause for me to expect the Honorable Manny Pacquiao to demand that hearsay evidence against me be "taken back" and stricken out as well? What about the claim of the PNP that the evidence they obtained (after-the-fact, I might add) that Kian was a drug runner came from social media. Is that enough to sentence him to a barbaric death?

And thank you, Senator Pacquiao, for pointing out what I have been saying all along. "Hindi porke may picture, kasama ka na sa transaksyon nila". How I wish you uttered the same thing about the supposed photo of mine with Kerwin Espinosa, a total stranger to me.

Still on the issue of photos, a single, impersonal photo would not have the same weight, and does not tell a story in the same way as a series of multiple photos that depict the subjects - like those in the case of Polong, Charlie Tan, Kenneth Dong and "Small" - being playful and familiar with each other. Sa dami ng litrato, at mukhang naghaharutan pa, there is cause to delve deeper into the plausibility of Senator Trillanes's theory that these men are known to and are, in fact, very familiar with one another, more than just drinking buddies.

If I had any takeaway from yesterday's hearing, it is that we are living at a time when public officials can publicly and unabashedly claim for themselves and their own the same rights that they deny other people. It's a bleak time for our nation: a nation where some citizens will have to make do with having less in life AND in law.

Even Polong Duterte's lawyer delivered some astoundingly honest lines, that his "game" is "to show [Senator Trillanes] as a propagandist" because "[h]e always resorts to intel reports hearsay, chismis everything." Atty. Madrid, the law is not a game; but I commend you for owning up to what your own "game" is. Do you realize, however, that your "game" is itself the definition of propaganda? Do you realize that "intel reports hearsay and chismis" are precisely what your client's father and his men have been using against their political enemies? As ever, there are people who cannot bear the bitter taste of their own medicine.

Another takeaway from the hearing is that if the proceedings were a game of hot/cold, Polong's and Mans's fake laugh of false bravado, insolent "i refuse to answer" responses, and presumptuous "these questions are irrelevant" non-answers are the indicators that Senator Trillanes is hot on their trail.

I pray for the good Senator's continued safety.

*I was allowed by the PNP Custodial Center authorities to watch the live coverage of the hearing via a TV installed at the reception area.

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