Right action at the wrong time

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

Granting without admitting that the suspension of Mayor Michael Rama is the correct decision (of course, it enjoys the legal presumption of regularity), the jugular question that every fair-minded Filipino is asking today simply is: Was the timing of its implementation truly appropriate, considering the incoming elections in May 2016? Was it a matter of life and death that it becomes extremely necessary to remove a duly-elected mayor from his post and, unwittingly, give aid and comfort to those who wish him ousted unceremoniously? Does the continued presence of Rama in his post pose a grave and imminent danger to the life of anyone or to the properties of the government?

If we are all Rotarians, we would be asking the four questions: First, is the suspension based on the truth? Second, is it fair to all concerned? Third, is it beneficial to all concerned? And fourth, would the suspension promote goodwill and good friendship? Under Article 19 of the Civil Code, "every person, in the exercise of his rights, and in the performance of his duties, must act with justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good faith." Did the government act with justice? Did the government give Rama what is due him? Did the government observe honesty and good faith? If so, why should the suspension be promulgated at a time when the mayor was on official travel abroad? Why wait after too long a time from the happening of the cause for such suspension, and then, all of a sudden, it could not wait a few days for the arrival of the respondent mayor?

Why is it that the former suspensions of former governor now Representative Gwendolyn Garcia was implemented at the crucial months prior to the elections of 2013? Why was a suspension also slapped at Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia also implemented at a year immediately following the elections of 2016? And now, this suspension of a mayor who is on official travel? We have no comments on the substantive aspects of the case because it might be alleged to be "sub judice" and we do not have any personal knowledge on the truth or falsity of the factual basis of such suspension. We are only raising the issue of timing. Why now, after too long from the supposed occurrence of the alleged cause of action?

Assuming that everything is in order, is it by accident, or could we really call it a mere coincidence that Rama, Gwen Garcia and Nelson Garcia are all members of the opposition? If there indeed were ample basis for such suspensions, why was the timing such that their implementation happened to occur at dates quite proximate to the elections? We have the highest respect for the government and it is not our intention to undermine the peoples' faith in the administration of justice. But we, like any other men and women of reason and of fairness, are left quite dazed and confused why all the bad luck should befall the opposition bets at the most critical points of the preparations for May 2016.

As a member of the Bar, we should be the last one to cast any cloud of doubt on the impartiality of our duly-constituted authorities. Most of our judicial and quasi-judicial officials and personnel are men and women of truth, of justice, and of reason. They may be in good faith, honest and faithful to the public trust. But it is not enough, to paraphrase the Good Book, that one is honest. He must live a life beyond reproach. Public officials should be very careful that their actions, no matter how intrinsically valid, should not open themselves to reasonable suspicions of prejudice. Moreover, as a Christian, a Catholic, a lawyer, a citizen and a human being, we humbly believe that it is our right, nay, our duty to raise questions that those who are unduly afraid cannot dare to raise. For evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

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