EDITORIAL - The health excuse

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - The health excuse

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. An innocent person, wrongly accused, will want to clear his or her name as soon as possible. These are among the pieces of advice given to Mayor Alice Guo of Bamban, Tarlac, who has made herself scarce amid an ongoing Senate investigation over her nationality and suspected links to a Philippine offshore gaming operator hub in her town that was raided recently.

A helper in Guo’s farm refused to accept a Senate subpoena that was served last week, saying Guo had not been there for some time and he did not know the mayor’s supposed siblings listed in the summons. Guo has also not been seen at the Bamban municipal hall. She sent the Senate a letter, invoking poor health in explaining why she could not attend the continuation of the hearings today.

Senators said if illness is invoked in snubbing a summons, it must be backed by a medical certificate. Guo’s camp said no doctor wanted to issue such a certificate, so Senate President Francis Escudero said the chamber could send its doctor to verify the mayor’s health condition. Guo’s lawyer has said she is “traumatized” and stressed by the Senate grilling and the public bashing she has been receiving.

Anyone accused of wrongdoing will undoubtedly feel stressed. Moneyed and influential persons have invoked elevated blood pressure and cited risks of stroke, cardiac and other health problems in evading public grilling, or in requesting for “hospital arrest” in cases where bail is not allowed. To prove their claim, they get themselves photographed or recorded on video while in a wheelchair. Moneyed inmates such as convicted drug trafficker Yu Yuk Lai have used poor health as an excuse to repeatedly stay for prolonged periods in private hospitals outside jails or national prisons.

Senators have pursued their probe of Guo because of numerous inconsistencies in her statements, and her inability to answer questions that have a bearing on her qualifications for the public office that she occupies. If the mayor wants to rid herself of trauma and stress, the quickest way is to emerge from the shadows and come clean, ASAP.

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