Monsod claims appellate court was bought, but she didn’t even read decision

It’s a distinct characteristic of Yellow Cultists to defy and condemn a court or a regulatory body as corrupted if it doesn’t give them what they want.

Former justice secretary Leila de Lima ignored in November 2011 a Supreme Court order to allow former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to seek crucial medical treatment abroad, to this day the most blatant, unpunished defiance of the high court. More recently, the internet-only news outfit Rappler claimed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a tool of President Duterte when it ruled that Rappler had violated the constitutional restrictions on foreign money in media.

Its president, Maria Ressa, in a twitter post capsulized the Yellow thinking: “We will follow the rule of law, if government follows the rule of law.” It didn’t arise of course in her little mind the question: Who decides whether government follows or not the rule of law?

Even an academic but pro-everything-Aquino Solita Collas-Monsod in her column has demonstrated that Yellow kind of thinking. And worse.

In a column last week entitled, “Best justice system money can buy,” Monsod effectively accused the Court of Appeals Special Division, haired by Normandie Pizarro, which ordered the dismissal of murder charges against former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, was bribed to do so. “The best system that money can buy,” Monsod said in her attempt to be witty.

Impugning our country’s justice system is bad enough. Maligning so facetiously the reputation of Court of Appeals judges who were doing their jobs is so foul.

Didn’t even read
This is especially so since Monsod obviously didn’t even read the decision of the court she condemned as corrupt. She accused the judges based on, as she herself admitted, her “numerous columns on the subject” written since 2011.

She also didn’t bother to study the more numerous rebuttals to her claims that Reyes and his brother, Mario, have made in their sworn affidavits submitted to the courts.

In her column, Monsod claimed that the sole accuser, Rodolfo Edrad testified that “on the afternoon of the slaying, he went to the house of Mayor [Mario] Reyes in Alabang to receive P500,000 as the remainder of the payment for the killing.” (Edrad, who claimed he recruited the two killers, is the only person who claims that Reyes ordered the assassination of broadcaster Dr. Jerry Ortega in 2011.)

Monsod would not have written this if she read the court decision which pointed out a “mind-boggling contradiction”: “Edrad stated that he was chased by six armed men and dropped his belt bag coming the remaining P300,000.” Monsod takes that accuser’s claims as gospel truth, not to be challenged. That is, to justify why he organized the assassination, Edrad claimed he was given P500,000 by the Reyeses.

However, when cross-examined where this huge amount of money was now, he claimed he spent the P200,000, and the remaining P300,000 was lost to a mugging. Would you believe that?

Reyes, on the other hand, testified that he asked his brother to give Edrad, a former employee, not P500,0000 but P5,000, after he got tired of his bugging him for the money he needed to pay a mortgage on his tricycle. So, with just P5,000 how we could have recruited a killer to do the vile deed? The actual gunman—who didn’t know Reyes or even Ortega—claimed he was told their target raped Edrad’s friend, and they were just serving justice.

Monsod in her column also wrote: “Why were there 41 texts sent from Reyes’ cell phone to Edrad’s cell phone from December 2010 to early February 2011 (two months), and 16 texts from Reyes to Edrad on January 24, 2011 (the day Ortega was killed), alone? This list of texts (but not the content) was provided by Globe under subpoena from the National Bureau of Investigation. “

Intellectual dishonesty
Monsod’s claims are so much a classic case of gross intellectual dishonesty. Or diabolical manipulation of facts by selective presentation.

According to Reyes’ affidavits, the cellphone to which Edrad sent his messages was a public one the former governor gave out to whoever asked for it. As result, in the period Monsod referred to, and indeed as shown in the Globe Telecom reports, Reyes sent a total of 2,415 text messages. That is, Reyes’ 41 messages to Edrad made up a minuscule 2 percent of the total messages he sent.

Still, why 15 messages to Edrad in 2010 and 27 in 2011? Because Reyes the politician would usually reply to any text he received on his public phone even if only to say “Ok lang,” to a Kamusta po kayo, gob?” Reyes also was trying to interrogate Edrad on his request for P5,000 to pay his mortgage on his tricycle.

I would believe that. When I was presidential spokesperson, I gave out at a press conference my cellphone number and said that anybody could text or call me. Big mistake I corrected later: I got that day over 300 calls and text messages.

Monsod also wrote in another instance of tricking people by presenting some but not all of the facts: “The gun that was used to kill Ortega was purchased from the provincial administrator of Joel Reyes.”

That would seem like a smoking gun for Reyes’ guilt only since Monsod doesn’t mention the other facts:

Licensed gun for a kill?
According to Edrad himself, he gave the two gunmen he recruited two unlicensed firearms. He purchased another gun from the provincial administrator for P20,000. This was a licensed gun, owned by Romeo Seratubias, Palawan’s provincial administrator even before Reyes’ term.

Didn’t the question rise in Monsod’s supposedly intelligent mind: “Why would the provincial administrator sell a gun licensed to him (and therefore very easily traceable to him) that he knows will be used for a murder?”

Edrad’s text messages to Reyes that prompted him to reply, his asking of P5,000 to pay off a debt, his purchase from the provincial administrator—don’t these indicate to a logical mind that Reyes was meticulously set up to be framed for the murder?

Monsod also wrote: “Almost immediately, by sheer serendipity, his killer, Marlon Recamata, was caught and readily confessed, naming his accomplices.”

Almost immediately indeed: Recamata was caught within several minutes of the killing, by two policemen who were not from Puerto Princesa, but San Vicente, the hometown of Reyes’ political rival Jose “Pepito” Alvarez. Witnesses testified that the two had been in the area appearing to wait for something very early in the morning, hours before Ortega was shot.

Was the capture of the killer “serendipity,” as Monsod claims—or explained less metaphysically—that he was set up, with the framers even sending policemen not from Puerto Princesa to immediately capture the killer who would identify his co-conspirators, with the one to have recruited them claiming that it was Reyes who contracted them for the hit.

Probability theory
I have been fascinated since 2011 with the Ortega assassination and its swift “solution” that fingered a powerful governor as the killer. There have been more than 1,000killings of media people since the martial law period. Only Ortega’s case has been solved, and a politician accused and captured for the deed with the motivation straight out of some movie plot?

What are the chances of that? Often, simple statistics and some knowledge of probability theory make us see through deceptions.

Really, Monsod seems to have no idea of what the rule of law means, which is a quantum leap from the justice system in medieval times when a woman would be accused of being a witch, “proofs” are presented (“she makes brews from herbs in the forest”), a fearful, religious townsfolk believe it, and the hapless, eccentric woman is burned at the stake.

In our modern rule of law, accusations are not just believed without proof. Data are presented in a rigorous process of verification and counter-verification to prove an accusation.

But that is beyond the Yellow kind of thinking.

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

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