POSTSCRIPT / August 1, 2010 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Truth Commission can’t find closure to scandals

CLOSURE: “The process of bringing a necessary closure to the allegations of official wrongdoing and impunity has begun,” President Nonoy Aquino said after signing the Executive Order creating the five-member Truth Commission.

Pardon my saying it, but that could be another extravagant promise.

At the end of its two-year deadline, the commission headed by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. is not likely to find closure to the highly politicized cases it has been tasked to investigate.

To the usual partisans (who are easily 55 percent of the adult population), the only acceptable “truth” is a TC verdict that confirms their pre-judgment of either guilt or innocence already settled in their minds.

In short, majority of our people have prejudged the cases linking the Arroyo family and their cronies to big-ticket anomalies. Anything that does not jibe with their bias is not the truth.

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PING-PONG: Davide and his panel, which will include retired justices, can be expected to start from a presumption of innocence, apply established rules of evidence and respect due process – performing almost like a court of law.

In such a formal setting, the accused assisted by topnotch legal minds have a fair chance of getting off the hook. If the TC rules that there is no case that can stand in court, how will the anti-Arroyo crowd take it?

How then will there be a closure?

On the other hand, if the Davide panel finds probable cause and recommends the filing of charges, such finding will face stiff challenge in the regular courts, all the way to the Supreme Court.

The political ping-pong game in and outside the courts will play longer than desired. How then can there be closure in two years?

The bitter debate may just fan the political fire, leading the country away from the desired closure.

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QUESTIONS: One handicap of the TC is the nature of its own commission. There are many unanswered basic questions.

Is its creation as a quasi-judicial body legal? Will its functions not overlap those of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice and the courts? May the accused facing other prosecution or judicial processes excuse himself from appearing before the TC?

Is the TC a political attack dog being unleashed only after the Arroyos and their associates? What about other personalities linked to big scandals and other anomalies before the Arroyo administration?

Before we know it, the Truth Commission might get entangled in a series of challenges in the Supreme Court before it can function.

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LET’S MEET AT ST. LUKE’S: Have you been to St. Luke’s Medical Center at Bonifacio Global City? No, not necessarily as a patient or a sick relative’s visitor.

If you are a hotel lobby habitué, try St. Luke’s with your coffee cronies or business associates and, over refreshments and live piano music in the commodious classy lobby get introduced to what is billed as one of the world’s best medical centers.

While it is not yet bursting with patients, experience this hospital that feels like a five-star hotel. From the lobby, walk around the sparkling premises.

Hidden around the corner at the lobby, there is Banco de Oro, Market on Fifth Avenue, Via Mare, Mary Grace, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Bizu, Starbucks (on a rare morning, you might chance on a certain Mike Arroyo sipping decaf) and Security Bank. On the floor above it, there is Rustan’s (waiting for the casual shopper, what else?), Feelswell, and National Book Store. One can never tell what a patient or his visitors might just need.

Rounding another corner, you might bump on unassuming Jose Ledesma, St. Luke’s president who seems to be always inspecting things to make sure everything is working as intended.

Absorb the feel-good ambience. After that introduction, when it is time for your executive checkup or a family member needs the best in medical attention, you are likely going to go to St. Luke’s.

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ONE OF WORLD’S BEST: While that non-hospital side of St. Luke’s may entice us non-patients and visitors, its core value is in the superior quality of its medical and professional services.

A European investor-friend who was rushed there recently, a serious cardiovascular case, was back at work after a week, apparently fully recovered.

He swears that St. Luke’s, with its state-of-the-art equipment and highly qualified specialists, is one of the world’s best. He found the rates reasonable, considering the procedure, the medical attention he got and the first class accommodation.

How many times do we read about patients not getting well at all, becoming much worse or meeting an untimely end in the hands of incompetent doctors and negligent personnel?

To minimize such situations, St. Luke’s has launched its Center for Quality and Patient Safety to further upgrade its very high standards. Dr. Alejandro Dizon, chief quality officer, said St. Luke’s safety track record is the envy of many hospitals here and abroad.

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AMBULANCE SERVICE: In Southern California, a Filipino medical services marketer is making waves with his all-Pinoy ambulance network.

Featured on “Kababayan LA” hosted by Janelle So, Renato “Paul” Policarpio talked about Good ShepherdAmbulance, the first and only Filipino-owned and Filipino-staffed ambulance company in the area.

Now on its third year, the firm has stations in Glendale, San Gabriel, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and soon in Paramount. It capitalizes on the renowned efficiency and caring of Filipinos in medical and nursing services.

Policarpio has been in business in the US since 1990. His first company was a cleaning outfit in Florida.

Why an ambulance company this time? Policapio said the medical and nursing business there is dominated by Filipinos. Also, most of the staff who call ambulances are Filipinos. Besides, he added, he feels more comfortable dealing with compatriots.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 1, 2010)

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