“Res ipsa loquitur”
“Res ipsa loquitur” is a Latin legal term which crudely means “The thing speaks for itself.”
The current situation of two top officers of the military and the police is a glaring example.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Gen. Filemon Santos, wrote the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, requesting for medicines which he will give away to friends because he was healed when he tested positive for the Covid-19.
Obviously, it was a personal matter but the problem was he used the official stationary of his office and position which made it an official act, which is a clear violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
Then of late, National Capital Region Police Office Director Debold Sinas, the same official criticized earlier as overweight and not conforming to the physical standards of the Philippine National Police chief, is caught in the same controversy.
He celebrated his birthday in violation of so many laws, rules, and regulations for the pandemic yet had the temerity to say that the pictures uploaded from the Public Information Office (PIO) of his unit were edited. In his defense, his boss says the “mañanita” is a “tradition,” as Sinas said, “It was a spontaneous gathering,” so ano ba talaga, koya?
The ordinary citizen gets a different rule for themselves while the high and mighty are over and beyond. What are we in power for – “quae autem est in potentia ad!”
An officer and a gentleman and may I say happily married, former PNP Chief Art Lomibao, who was PIO chief then at Camp Crame where veteran journalist Bobby Burgos and I with the PNP Press Corps would istambay and enjoy all day and night coffee with cognac, hit the chord right when he said through GMA 7 stringer Dave Leprozo Jr., “As a retired policeman, it pains me to know that even a general could commit such a blatant violation of the rules. As we used to say in the service, ‘You know the rules.’ What happened, Cavalier Debold? You, or was it PNP Chief Gamboa who claim it came as a surprise (as what a mañanita is supposed to be)? Even then, you should have politely dispersed the well-wishers and I’m sure they will understand. (Call it commander’s presence of mind). Have delicadeza Gen. Debold. Man up to your fault. Don’t pass the buck to the party organizer. It’s never too late to apologize. No one is perfect, even the commander-in-chief does apologize. Save the PNP sa kahihiyan.”
Lomibao likewise addressed the current Chief Gamboa: “What happened to the PNP mantra to enforce the law without fear or favor? Has it been downgraded as a footnote?”
My neighbor, Ombudsman Sam Martirez, must do something to show these officers that the term “no one is above the law” is not just a saying for a good sound bite or better still short of harakiri for honorable men in Japan. Quit their post, and show our people of the stuff they are truly made of.
My old man, who was a sage especially when inspired by kuatro kantos, said, “When you build a house get a carpenter; need to construct a road, an engineer; need to litigate, a lawyer; going to war, a soldier; cut your hair, a barber; and of course when you have health issues, get a doctor.”
“Res ipsa loquitur” says that the Covid-19 is a health issue. Lucky are we in the City of Baguio and probably Cordillera that our public doctors, nurses, and hospital staff frontliners are led by top medical honchos Dr. Ricardo B. Ruñez, medical chief of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), and Dr. Amelita M. Pangilinan, director of the Department of Health-Cordillera.
Ruñez is a Baguio boy who belongs to our Taraki ‘75 Boys High Batch and together with Doc Amy are products of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
Jun’s wife is the daughter of former ABC president Ricardo Panlilio or uncle-in-law “Kong Carding” from Mexico, Pampanga. He could have been medical chief earlier, but politics intervened and he was banished in Region II until 2017 when he took over and introduced vast improvements to the regional hospital.
Doc Amy as a public servant has a squeaky-clean record except for one discounted bidder in a DOH project who thought he could pressure her and the BAC to award a project in Ifugao. Of course, she had very good lawyers, ehem-emalaw, all the way to the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court, which threw out the case for utter lack of merit. She is married to Doc Jun who after BGH work busies himself as lay minister at Pink Sisters and other churches. They are and should be the principal actors in this stage and now that we have been declared under general community quarantine or GCQ status with more relaxed measures, we should let them know that we are indebted to them and their crew.
“Res ipsa loquitur” is also applicable to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, officially designated as Republic Act 11469, granting the President additional authority to combat the Covid-19. I have gone over the provisions of the law and public and police officials should stop using it to threaten our people of penal sanctions if only to make them comply.
Take the moratorium on rentals pursuant to Department of Trade Memorandum Circular 20-12, s. 2020 as an example. One, it is not in the law. Two, it only speaks of suspension of payment and not free rentals during the Covid-19. Three, it has no penal provisions. Thus, unless rentals are waived by the owner of the leased premises, a lessee must still pay the required rentals after May 6, of course without penalties, interest, or charges.
Final note, the Bayanihan Law is effective only for three months, thus on June 1, it can no longer be invoked. Lesson of the day, sometimes “things will speak out for themselves, obviously.” Sigh.