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Atty. Victor dela Serna Goes Ballistic
« on: November 13, 2017, 02:11:03 PM »

Sunday Post, Jan 7, 2007 - The peace and quite of the week that was in this city was shattered by a brutal accusation from a crusading individual that all Bohol congressmen were crooks. Lawyer Victor de la Serna went to town through the city's radio stations hosting public affairs program and accused the three solons—Edgar Chatto, Roberto Cajes and Eladio Jala of dipping their fingers in the public tills.

“I have the evidence to prove that they are crooks” thundered de la Serna during the Cuentas Claras radio program over Station DYTR. He repeated the same accusation in another radio program over Station DYRD.

Just what was de la Serna up to in making the serious accusations remained a mystery up to press time but observers believed that it was all part of the election season where politicians are considered fair game of the slings and arrows of a concerned public. If elections push through, a mid-term polls is scheduled this coming May. Known for his flamboyant flair to call a spade a spade, de la Serna is being touted to run for Congress in the first district but he denied this vehemently saying that he has no money to pursue any serious electoral plan.

De la Serna is one guy who believes that money is all what it takes to win an election in Bohol . This explained why he dismissed any insinuation of his political motives in calling the lawmakers crooks as part of his election game plan. Asked what will happen if the target of his tirade will feel offended, de La Serna challenged his adversaries to go ahead and file a case in court. He said “ those who felt offended can hale him to court and prove their innocence while he is also ready to prove their guilt.” He justified that what he was saying was a statement of fact and he is ready to show proofs.


Despite the gravity of the accusations, the three Bohol solons remained cool and composed in their answer to de la Serna's bombast. For Chatto who appeared to be the one hardly hit (de la Serna also accused him of his role in the sale of PPUD to the Salcon Group, but that is another story) , he considered de la Serna's rantings as part of the hazards of the profession. The full text of Chatto's answer reads as follow: “ A large number of our people know our dedication to public service. Those who know me as a student, as a co-worker, as a friend can speak well about the kind of person I am and the Christian values I strongly adhered to. I considered attacks being hurled against me as part of the professional hazards in the political arena.”

In a separate interview, Chatto also conceded that as elections draw near, mudslinging is common fare in the political arena and that in his long years in public service no one can accuse him of retaliating with the same ferocity as his accuser was doing He said it was never his style in politics to fight mud with mud. For his part, Cong. Cajes, in an interview with Cuentas Claras, said he was not offended by the tirades of his friend de la Serna. Saying he has great respect for the lawyer-topnotcher, Cajes said it was within the rights of de la Serna to make the denunciation.

Instead, he urged his constituent in the second district not believe every word de la Serna said because his lifestyle and performance all speak for themselves. Like Chatto, Jala's best defense against de la Serna's brickbats was that it was all part of the game. Quoting Voltaire, Jala said he may not entirely agree with what de la Serna was saying but he will fight to his death of his right to say it. At this time where libel laws are more or less liberalized, Jala said as a public official he doesn't feel offended to the accusation because there was no iota of truth to it. He made another quotation in the landmark decision in US vs Bustos on thin-skinned public officials.

In US vs Bustos, Jala quoted Justice Malcolm as saying that the “interest of society and the maintenance of good government demand a full discussion of public affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may suffer under a hostile and unjust accusation; the wound may be assuaged by the balm of clear conscience. A public official must not be too thin-skinned with reference to comments upon his official acts”.

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