Gonzalez's Tortiously Criminal Mind
If there is one official that should not speak in sound bytes, it is the Justice Secretary. Also, as the official obliged to give legal opinion to the Executive Branch, his role is not to incite public anger with statements meant to assign guilt without due process and to threaten a class suit litigation.
Certainly, there was no intent on the part of ABS to foment or cause such a tragedy. A person in his right mind therefore would pause and weigh the tragic event in the series of circumstances that took place immediately before the stampede, and not put the cart before the horse by concluding hastily the culpability of ABS. An investigation must be objectively conducted to determine the proximate and remote causes of the tragedy.
Responsibility, if any, must be laid before the perpetrators of the act and that may include ABS but since the latter is the giant fish in the water, the Justice Secretary preempted the investigation and deemed it expedient to score points with the people in total disregard for an objective investigation into the tragedy.
As Justice Secretary, he ought to have exercised sobriety and called the people to wait for the investigation to play out. It is not his bounden duty to excite the people to further rage and bloodletting. Neither is it his vocation to puff himself up at the expense of others.
But as it is, he has already pre-judged the outcome and certainly, in his lawbook, ABS is already guilty of tort and reckless imprudence. It is only a matter of when, and not if, before we see Gabby Lopez, Charo Santos-Concio and Willie Revillame haled before the City Prosecutor’s Office or the Department of Justice to exact someone's pound of flesh. To bait fist withal, if it will feed nothing else, it will certainly feed this government' s revenge on ABS-CBN.
And I never realized that ABS CBN had an obligation similar to a common carrier such as boats, planes and public utility vehicles which are required to exercise extraordinary diligence. In law, a common carrier is presumed to be negligent when death occurs. When exactly did ABS CBN end as a TV station and commence life as a common carrier? And what Supreme Court jurisprudence did Mr. Gonzalez possibly unearth to justify his claim that death is proof of liability in case of a TV program.
As Justice Secretary, he should be called to task for his irresponsible statements. As a high government official, people look to his opinion as gospel truth, no matter whether his claims are unsupported by law and jurisprudence. With callous statements designed to further aggravate the people's angst and pathos, many will look to him for justification to vent their rage and now that he has prejudged ABS, he has just intensified the clone wars between the TV stations. Even Executive Secretary Ermita admirably held his tongue when asked who was to blame for the tragedy.
Would it have been better for the Justice Secretary to keep his mouth shut while an investigation is pending? Most certainly. Unfortunately, Justice Secretary Gonzalez is not known for prudence or calm. He is one who will not hesitate to fan the flames of bigotry and deceit. And for the life of me, why he is the Justice Secretary is beyond my mortal understanding.