Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Can the Senate jail Ignacio Arroyo for refusing to answer questions regarding the Jose Pidal accounts?

Senator Angara points to a precedent in the 1950s in the case of Arnault v. Nazareno. See the decision here.

The question, however, is this: should Arnault v. Nazareno be upheld? In this age of the individual, can we afford to affirm the lack of power of the individual against the abusive transgressions of the police state? With all its resources and might, the Philippine State has become susceptible to abuse by politicians who care not for public service but cater solely to personal and crony interest. There is no doubt that the Jose Pidal expose is motivated by political interest -- vengeance, resentment, political leveraging, what have you, but definitely not for the public interest or in "aid of legislation". The State is imperfect. Should it have the power fit only for a perfect State?

Everybody appears to disgree with the invocation of this right in this particular case. Yet, imagine for a moment, that Mr. Arroyo is not the brother-in-law of the President. Imagine that he really did this to hide his wealth from kidnappers and a former wife. Take this case in isolation of the political reality. Is it really proper for the senators to feast on his bank transactions, especially when the man who started this conundrum is just leveraging the murder cases filed against him by the administration? Is it right for the senate to pry on anybody's bank account? Is it right for the State to meddle with anybody's finances -- be it in the multi-million sums or measly change. Do we all have to explain to the Philippine State why we have that much or that little in the bank?

The Philippine State -- with all its bureaucrats and politicians -- does not know how to handle power. It should not be given too much of it.

UPDATE: October 13, 2003

Senate Committee Chair upholds Ignacio Arroyo's right to privacy. Full story here.

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