Guilt by picture taking
This week the Senate conducted a hearing on the death of Mayor Espinosa (allegedly a case of EJK) where the issue of De Lima’s connection to Kerwin Espinosa was discussed once more. Notably, the Senate hearing spent a good amount of time treating De Lima’s photo with Kerwin Espinosa as if it were some substantial evidence. Dick Gordon, for one, made it a point to raise several questions and his usual monologues to highlight De Lima’s alleged involvement. He succeeded in convincing Dayan to change his version of the date when De Lima supposedly met Kerwin Espinosa in Baguio.
Duterte’s supporters apparently found the “guilt-by-picture-taking” scene in the Senate very useful. A few hours after the hearing, at least one pro-Duterte YouTube account already uploaded a video with a sensational text. If you happen to be accessing YouTube from the Philippines and you regularly view politics or news-related videos, you likely have encountered this video persistently getting shown on the Recommended Videos section of YouTube.
It’s somewhat fortunate for De Lima that Senator Trillanes was there at the Senate hearing to call out the hypocrisy of the Espinosa-De Lima photo. Trillanes argued that if guilt can be proven by picture taking, Duterte himself has already been found guilty of protecting a drug lord as he was in at least two photo side by side with Peter Lim, a Cebuano businessman who Duterte once accused to be a drug lord, and confirmed by PDEA to be the same Peter Lim in their target list. Trillanes makes sense here but only when it comes to assailing the propaganda value of the photo. He scored points in trying to tone down the ability of the photo to affect the gullible.
Senator Lacson disagreed with Trillanes, arguing that the Duterte-Lim and Espinosa-De Lima photos are different because of the presence of the accusation and testimonies against De Lima. There are no allegations and testimonies that Duterte received drug money from Lim. Lacson actually makes greater sense in this assertion.
The irony is that Trillanes tried to show the irony of using a picture to prove the guilt of De Lima when Duterte himself was also in photos with an alleged drug lord. Somehow, he tried to demonstrate that De Lima could feel some degree of support or protection in a Senate hearing. In the end, he only proved that there are more senators who are not in De Lima’s favor. The Senate, like the House of Representatives, is still not a hospitable turf.
De Lima was being “brave” facing Dayan and Espinosa in the Senate, believing that she was in a place where she can somehow put up a fight. The irony is that even her fellow senators chose to play along the scheme of her adversaries. In the end, the Senate hearing showed her lack of fortitude in strongly facing her opponents. She was shown as an emotional accused public official who was trying to gain sympathy and was slightly trying to do a Miriam in trying to assert her authority over a resource person and calling out a spectator in the hearing. Manny Pacquiao also expressed his opinion that Espinosa and Dayan were lying, but his statement was not to De Lima’s favor. He actually implied that they were lying and that De Lima was being protected by the selective “truths” of the two.
Ironies in Philippine politics abound but as usual they don’t really stir a good amount of response. They can just make some people grin, smirk, or utter some sensible and not so sensible comments, but they don’t really elicit meaningful reactions. Well this post, too, is an irony. It’s hoping to make sense but most of the readers who will stumble upon it will likely just dismiss the observations above and its goal to expose irony will just to be buried amongst the dissenting comments and the tons of trolling content online.
The attempt to expose ironies here is ironically unlikely to succeed, although there’s also that ironic possibility that some will realize that this post’s pessimistic outlook over the success of this post in highlighting ironies can be appreciated.
This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) .