Angara: Truth Commission has 'identity crisis'

by Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2010 04:07 PM | Updated as of Oct 22 2010 12:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A senator believes the Malacañang-created Truth Commission may be having a hard time getting the nod of the Supreme Court on its constitutionality, noting the long time it is taking for the tribunal to rule on the matter.

Usually, matters of legality or constitutionality are decided with urgency, Senator Edgardo Angara said.

"Ito mukhang natatagalan eh," he said in a news forum on Thursday. "The longer it takes, that means the more intense the debate internally is and the harder it is for them to resolve it quickly," he said.

Angara thinks the Truth Commission, which is tasked to investigate corruption cases committed during the Arroyo administration, was created for the wrong reasons and is having an "identity crisis."

He said a truth commission is not the right instrument to investigate corruption.

Historically, truth commissions were created mainly to probe human rights abuses, such as the apartheid in South Africa, he said.

"There's not so much outrage in the case of graft and corruption as much as outrage over the commission of violation of human rights," he said.

"In the case of graft and corruption, medyo general and ambiguous ang victim. All the people are victims. The Filipino people were victimized," he added. "But who are they?"

He lamented the creation of the commission also reinforces the public’s distrust of an existing institution tasked to battle corruption: the Office of the Ombudsman.

"What kind of attitude is that? If I don't trust an existing institution, I'll create an alternative one which is immature, untested," he said. "I might get into a worse situation than before."

Angara said Filipinos must begin trusting the country's institutions, lest they create a recipe for rebellion.

"If that's the attitude…we'll never build up institutions. We'll never strengthen institutions. We'll never get a chance for people and institutions to change,” he said.

Even as the Court has yet to rule on its constitutionality, the Truth Commission has buckled down to work, with its officials saying they are making the most out of the time it has before it expires in 2012.

Angara said members of the commission must not be too enthusiastic about their job because the Court has not yet decided on the body's legality.

There is a pending petition before the Supreme Court filed by Arroyo-ally Rep. Edcel Lagman questioning the constitutionality of Executive Order 1, which created the Philippine Truth Commission.