Statement of the Dean, San Beda College Graduate School of Law
Manila, Philippines, 17 February 2008
I am the Dean of the Graduate School of Juridical Science and Justice Studies (Graduate School of Law) of San Beda College, Mendiola, but my views are mine and should not be imputed on San Beda College (Mendiola).
The averments made by Mr. Lozada before the Senate Joint Committee conducting an investigation into what has become known as the "ZTE Scam" are serious. They suggest corruption and criminality in high places. I therefore join the demand for a thorough and expeditious investigation of the case so that those in whom criminal or administrative liability is found may be dealt with as the law ordains, and those against whom no fault can be established may be cleared of all aspersions of doubt and infamy.
While Congress, according to the Supreme Court's reading of the constitutional allocation of powers, has the task of oversight, it clearly does not have the power to prosecute. It stands to reason therefore that if what we wish – and that is what I ardently wish – is that the guilty be brought to justice, then the bodies that are vested by law with prosecutorial power, such as the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice, should with due enthusiasm, transparency, efficiency and expeditiousness investigate the case, calling on Mr. Lozada perhaps as its principal witness.
I cannot however join my voice to the calls for the President's resignation – or perhaps, even forcible ouster from office. What has Mr. Lozada said that establishes the culpability of the President? I have followed the proceedings unfold before the nation through national television. I have listened intently to his testimony in answer to the questions asked, many of the latter rambling and incoherent! I have listened to Senators Defensor-Santiago, Arroyo and Enrile test the credibility of the witness. They showed themselves to be true lawyers. They had the right to ask the questions they did. I fail to see the connection between Mr. Lozada's statements and what I consider precipitous calls for the President's resignation.
Public and political will-formation takes place through discourse, the assumption being that people are willing to be persuaded by the force of the better argument. I hope that this is true of us all, including those now massed at Makati. Evicting an elective official from office – particularly the President – circumvents the demands of rational discourse. It is pure and simple strategic action. I opt for rational discourse. We should be mature; we can be mature!
I am appalled at the way Neri was badgered by one who held himself out as an advocate of truth. I applaud Neri for his calm and for his courtesy. He showed himself a true gentleman, and conducted himself in a scholarly manner. The person who forced him to "tell the truth now" never said by what right or title of office he demanded of Chairman Neri the truth.
We are capable of mature and rational conduct. In this respect, I have not lost faith.
Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino
Dean, Graduate School of Law