By Prince Golez
Senator Richard Gordon’s comment that Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo should stop acting like the “spokesman” of resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde does not sit well with Panelo.
“I am certain that my law schoolmate in the Senate does not want to be in the place of a resource person accused by his fellow resource persons and be adjudged guilty even prior to the termination of the proceedings,” said Panelo Thursday.
He said such actions are “antithetical to elementary legal precepts, and this is true regardless if the same were undertaken in a procedure that does not demand the application of the most stringent rules found in our law codes.”
The Palace spokesman reiterated that he would rather reserve judgment on Albayalde until the investigating bodies finish its probe into the ninja cop case.
“It is basic that a conclusion of guilt should be pronounced only after an investigation or hearing, or a senate inquiry for that matter, has been terminated, with both sides being given the opportunity to be heard – and not while it is going on,” according to him.
Panelo clarified that his remarks “cannot – and should not – be viewed as a challenge or an affront to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, its chairmanship or its present investigation.”
He said that he categorically explained on national television that it is within the Senate’s mandate, as well as its duty to conduct investigations to ferret out the truth of a controversy, in order to aid them in legislating and crafting instrumental laws of our land.
“With due respect to everyone concerned, fairness should – and must always be the hallmark of a legislative inquiry. The constitutional rights of any resource person must be respected at all times – and on all accounts. That is what due process is all about,” the spokesman added.
Panelo earlier described the testimony of former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who accused the former PNP chief of intervening in the dismissal of 13 “ninja cops” in Pampanga in 2013, against Albayalde as “hearsay.”
He also considered the testimony of retired General Rudy Lacadin weak, saying he cannot tell whether he was joking or not.