An incongruous res ipsa loquitor!

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

Lawyers, in some cases, rely upon a rule of evidence called res ipsa loquitor to win litigations. Translated to English, this Latin term is “the thing speaks for itself”. In its simplistic application, this doctrine permits an inference or presumption that a defendant was negligent in an accident injuring the plaintiff by just looking at the physical condition of things involved.

True to the off-tangent nature of this column, I like to stretch my unfettered imagination to seemingly uncharted areas in order to apply this rule, res ipsa loquitor, in a rather different and unconventional way. In fact, I will avail of not just one thing but two. These things are actually two different and unrelated news reports carried by this paper in two separate times.

Here is the first news published about one and a half years ago. Thanks to the internet, I plainly copy and paste a December 2022 reportage which reads “Former Cebu City administrator Atty. Floro Casas Jr., seven other officials and personnel of the Cebu City government, as well as an elected official from southern Cebu and six other individuals, are facing a string of criminal and administrative charges, including plunder, over the alleged “highly anomalous” garbage collection scheme during the administration of former mayor Edgardo Labella.” The garbage deal in question allegedly resulted in the city government being over-billed or overcharged in the amount of ?239 million when the supposed obligation should have only been ?111 million.

The second news written by Iris Hazel Mascardo and reported in this paper on April 17, 2024 (or barely one month ago) read “Four regular employees yesterday came forward and held a press conference to bring to the media’s attention that the Cebu City Government allegedly did not pay them their salary for the past 10 months. They said the City did not give them their due salaries despite a favorable decision by the Civil Service Commission (CSC)-7 on their appeal over their reassignment.”

The case filed one and a half years ago speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitor. I infer that it being shrouded in ominous silence, it must probably be dead. I recall though that this indictment was filed by no less than the National Bureau of Investigation with the Office of the Ombudsman. The news report used the words “highly anomalous” as it actually mentioned criminal and administrative cases where the NBI, identified the (former) Cebu City government officials as allegedly involved. The crux WAS (should it be IS?) dishonesty. Sa binisaya pa KAWAT. By all accounts, millions of public funds were reportedly plundered by the then named respondents. Yet, while the filing of the cases reverberated throughout the city, today we hear nothing about those charges from the Ombudsman. There seems to be an impenetrable cover around the cases leading me to ask questions. It has been one and a half years already. Was there any action done by the Ombudsman? Has the graft office started to investigate? Or was the NBI totally incompetent that the cases it initiated were dismissed for utter lack of merit?

I ask those questions because the other case reported by The FREEMAN only about a month ago also speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitor! While it did not involve dishonesty as no million pesos were allegedly plundered by the respondents, the Ombudsman swiftly acted. Imagine that the supposed respondents in Atty. Michael Rama, a mayor elected by the people, and others were suspended for six months without pay! And what raises my eyebrows is the reaction of Rama that he was not even informed that a case, a personnel issue, was leveled against him. Compare this second case to the obvious inaction of the Ombudsman in the first case and you will find an incongruous application of res ipsa loquitor. Whew!


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