Commentary PHL Vote 2022

Do we want Robin Padilla in the Senate?

Actor Robin Padilla assails political dynasties, yet he endorsed the candidacies of the Duterte children. That is not to mention that aside from being a candidate for senator himself, the “bad boy” of Philippine movies also has a brother running for congressman for the first district of Nueva Ecija.

Robin Padilla, who is a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, is the epitome of the political hypocrisy that ails the Filipino body politic. Like the politicians he wants to reform by federalism, this guy does not see the speck in his own eyes.

Padilla is, as a netizen has described him, “the perfect representation of false nationalism.”

How can someone who arrogantly evaded the law in a hit-and-run incident become a lawmaker of the land?

On the evening of 26 October 1992, Enrique Manarang and Danny Cruz were at the Manukan sa Highway restaurant in Santo Kristo, Angeles City.They were caught in a heavy downpour while riding their motorcycles and had sought temporary shelter there.

Let us give way to the Supreme Court’s narration of facts on the incident:

“Manarang noticed a vehicle, a Mitsubishi Pajero, running fast down the highway prompting him to remark that the vehicle might get into an accident considering the inclement weather. True enough, immediately after the vehicle had passed the restaurant, Manarang and Perez heard a screeching sound produced by the sudden and hard braking of a vehicle running very fast followed by a sickening sound of the vehicle hitting something.

Manarang went to the location of the accident and found out that the vehicle had hit somebody. He asked Cruz to look after the victim while he went back to the restaurant, rode on his motorcycle and chased the vehicle. During the chase he was able to make out the plate number of the vehicle as PMA 777.”

In the meantime, Manalang had sent out a radio call that was received by the Angeles City Police. Together with two police officers on mobile patrol, they intercepted the vehicle.

The Supreme Court narration of facts continues:

“The driver rolled down the window and put his head out while raising both his hands. They recognized the driver as Robin C. Padilla . . . who was wearing a short leather jacket such that when he alighted with both his hands raised, a gun tucked on the left side of his waist was revealed, its butt protruding. SPO2 Borja made the move to confiscate the gun but appellant held the former’s hand alleging that the gun was covered by legal papers. SPO2 Borja, however, insisted that if the gun really was covered by legal papers, it would have to be shown in the office. After disarming appellant, SPO2 Borja told him about the hit and run incident which was angrily denied by appellant. By that time, a crowd had formed at the place. SPO2 Borja checked the cylinder of the gun and found six (6) live bullets inside.

While SPO2 Borja and appellant were arguing, Mobile No. 7 with SPO Ruben Mercado, SPO3 Tan and SPO2 Odejar on board arrived. As the most senior police officer in the group, SPO Mercado took over the matter and informed appellant that he was being arrested for the hit and run incident. He pointed out to appellant the fact that the plate number of his vehicle was dangling and the railing and the hood were dented. Appellant, however, arrogantly denied his misdeed and, instead, played with the crowd by holding their hands with one hand and pointing to SPO3 Borja with his right hand saying ‘iyan, kinuha ang baril ko.’ Because appellant’s jacket was short, his gesture exposed a long magazine of an armalite rifle tucked in appellant’s back right pocket. SPO Mercado saw this and so when appellant turned around as he was talking and proceeding to his vehicle, Mercado confiscated the magazine from appellant. Suspecting that appellant could also be carrying a rifle inside the vehicle since he had a magazine, SPO2 Mercado prevented appellant from going back to his vehicle by opening himself the door of appellant’s vehicle. He saw a baby armalite rifle lying horizontally at the front by the driver ‘s seat. It had a long magazine filled with live bullets in a semi-automatic mode. He asked appellant for the papers covering the rifle and appellant answered angrily that they were at his home. SPO Mercado modified the arrest of appellant by including as its ground illegal possession of firearms. SPO Mercado then read to appellant his constitutional rights.

Petitioner’s defenses are as follows: (1) that his arrest was illegal and consequently, the firearms and ammunitions taken in the course thereof are inadmissible in evidence under the exclusionary rule; (2) that he is a confidential agent authorized, under a Mission Order and Memorandum Receipt, to carry the subject firearms; and (3) that the penalty for simple illegal possession constitutes excessive and cruel punishment proscribed by the 1987 Constitution.”

The Supreme Court sustained the decision of the Court of Appeals to convict Padilla and sentenced him to a maximum of 18 years in prison. When the warrant of arrest was issued, the actor fled and hid in the mountains of Bicol.

Padilla later surrendered and began serving his sentence but in 1997, he was given conditional pardon by President Fidel Ramos whose candidacy the actor supported. Some 19 years later, Duterte gave the actor absolute pardon, which allowed him to regain his civil and political rights, such as the right to travel and vote.

Most importantly, absolute pardon gave Padilla back the right to seek public office, a right he is now exercising.

A “confidential agent with a mission order.” A convicted criminal who tried to evade his court sentence. What other abuses of the law and entitlements will Padilla commit if he is elected senator?

Robin Padilla is part of the social and political ills that plague the country. We do not need him in the Senate, which is already filled with other problems such as he.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.