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Opinion

The constitutional right to remain silent

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It has been a long while by now that we have not heard any word from Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. We see him on TV but he chooses not to talk. Unlike his two other colleagues, Senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada who always use their freedom of expression to the extent of even attacking not just their political enemies, but also the judicial and quasi-judicial systems that have jurisdiction over their plunder cases, JPE is mysteriously silent, so uncharacteristic of him who used to be the darling of the tri-media immediately after the historic impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

CJ Corona too has remained silent all these months even as in a lot of times, it has been mentioned that millions of DAP and PDAP were allegedly used to swing the votes of senators to the side of conviction instead of acquittal. The former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has also imposed upon herself the Code of Omerta and together with the former First Gentleman and his congressmen sons Mikee and Dato', who used to be quite talkative, especially Mikee, now,  the whole family has never been interviewed either by print or broadcast media.

The Marcoses, except the inimitable Imeldific, have chosen to keep their mouths shut. Even Manny Villar and Gibo Teodoro have been out of media circulation. In Cebu, it has been awhile too that we have neither heard nor seen the former Governor Gwen Garcia and his venerable father, Noy Pabling Garcia. We have not even heard from former Tomas Osmeña and from the illustrious Eddiegul. Even Vice President Jojo Binay, with all the ''slings and arrows of outrageous accusations,'' has been very restrained and hesitant to talk, except a few one-liners, every now and then.

The most silent are the multi-billionaires. We have never heard the richest men in the country like Henry Sy, Lucio Tan, Enrique Razon or  Jaime Zobel de Ayala,  John Gokongwei or Jon Ramon Aboitiz or Danding Cojuangco and Ramon Ang delivering speeches or being interviewed on TV. The moneyed, the influential, the powerful and those who have many things to hide from the public eye, would rather shy away from public scrutiny. It is not just a constitutional right but a smart defense mechanism.

If we really think about it very reflectively, the more we open our mouth, the more we expose ourselves and become vulnerable to the vultures of undue publicity. We become vulnerable to rumor-mongerers, to gossips and undue intruders into our privacy. Every person named above has his or her own reason for their silence. But the most generally applicable reason is: Everything that we say may be used against us in a court of law or in the court of public opinion. That is why instead of invoking our freedom of expression, we are better advised if we use our right to remain silent. It is the smarter option.

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vuukle comment

CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA

CODE OF OMERTA

DANDING COJUANGCO AND RAMON ANG

ENRIQUE RAZON

EVEN MANNY VILLAR AND GIBO TEODORO

EVEN VICE PRESIDENT JOJO BINAY

FIRST GENTLEMAN

GOVERNOR GWEN GARCIA

HENRY SY

IN CEBU

JAIME ZOBEL

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