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Hearts and minds

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Prof. Winnie Monsod opined: “The untimely death of Gen. Angelo Reyes should be separate and distinct from the subject matter of the Senate inquiry.”

Filipinos that we are, we have the tendency to look at events from the heart. We are sentimental people, superstitious, and respectful of the dead.

The question is asked: “Should the Senate inquiry continue?” This is when reason and the minds should prevail because these are matters of public concern.

“…The Senate investigating an area on which it may potentially legislate. It is not required that legislative hearing must result in legislation. The fact that the subject of the investigation may be undergoing trial does not restrict the power to investigate. The legislative purpose is different from the judicial purpose.” (Bengzon vs. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, 203 SCRA 767).

Sorrow and grief follows the death of the late General Reyes, but this should not distract the purpose of the legislative inquiry into the AFP fund mess. These are two separate issues.

As to the conduct of the Senators, probably they could improve on their language, technique, and demeanor, but this is why we have elected Senators.

Some of them may have been acting from their hearts not their minds. However, they have oversight function, they have to check the actions of those in the executive departments. It has to be understood and be clear that once a person occupies a public position and uses public funds, he is accountable to the public.

In a perfect world, “sovereignty resides in the people and all power emanates from them!” These are not empty words, but in fact, are embodied in the Constitution, the fundamental law of the land.

Each and every elective and appointive government official, upon taking his Oath of Office swears to “obey all the laws and uphold the Constitution”.

Can the media be blamed for the publicity of the Senate investigations? Was there trial by publicity? In the first place, that was no trial! It is a legislative inquiry.

The public has the right to know about how public funds are spent, and if people are onion-skinned, and cannot withstand the glare of public scrutiny, they should not hold public office. They get the perks of a public position, they should accept the consequences of the inquiry into their official acts.

As Atty. Hayde Acuna of ABS-CBN quipped: “Ayaw mo ug pabuyag para wala mi ireport!” (Do not commit any irregularities so we will not have anything to report!)

Media as the Fourth Estate has the duty to inform and publicize, and this is the strength of a democracy. It can mold the hearts and minds of the people.

Listen to the message with you minds, not with you hearts!

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