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The man who would not bribe

July 13, 2015 ·  By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Fr. Shay Cullen

By Fr. Shay Cullen

The man who would not bribe

OXFORD, ENGLAND: Here in England, I joined a discussion on the Magna Carta, a document that gave the people of England a bill of rights. The rich and powerful king was forced to sign it into law by the outcry of the people against injustice.

What greater injustice can anyone endure than to be framed, charged and convicted for a crime he or she did not commit? Hundreds of cases of false convictions have been found in the United States where police planted evidence, or prosecutors hid away evidence that would prove an accused innocent of what was charged. There is new DNA evidence available today that has proven many convicted persons are in fact innocent. President Barack Obama has moved to release hundreds of wrongfully convicted youth in US prisons who received harsh and unjust convictions for alleged possession of cannabis.

The worst kind of injustice is where the officials, judges, prosecutors and police conspire, or act alone to falsely accuse an innocent person. They select their victim, usually a foreigner or a vulnerable person, on the presumption that he or she is wealthy, or presumed to be wealthy.

Most of the accused are presumed to pay the bribe that is implicitly demanded. That is why they walk free and the charges are mysteriously dropped.

The abundance of evidence suddenly is found to be insufficient. They are, at first, pressed with great vigor, and an abundance of evidence is presented to the prosecutor or the court to scare the unfortunate into paying up.

The lawyer of the victim is supposed to make the approach to the official through an intermediary. In some cases, the lawyers may not pay the bribe and keep the money, and then that is a bad day and a dark future for the accused. It is also a black mark against the lawyers for their reputation, unfair and unfounded as that might be. They will, of course, protest any such allegations of wrongdoing.
There is no way to prove it one way or the other. But the perception is damaging. All that may happen in the United States but could it ever happen in the Catholic Christian Philippines?

The Irish media have raised these questions in radio interviews regarding the case of an Irishman, Edna O’Coughlin. Many are mounting a worldwide campaign to protest and question his arrest, trial and conviction to 12 years for the possession of two sticks of cannabis.

Edna is a retired professional psychiatric nurse. He and his wife planned to retire in Laoag, Northern Luzon. He was arrested and detained for alleged possession of two sticks of cannabis at Laoag
Airport. The man claims it was planted, a real possibility, and he
further claims and can prove that the two sticks of cannabis that was used to accuse him was not presented in court. He wisely photographed the (alleged) planted cannabis and what was presented to the court was entirely different.

The judge allegedly overlooked this important and crucial evidence.

Everyone involved vows that no bribes were paid whatsoever. Cynics say that was his biggest failure, not recognizing that he is a stubborn Irishman and when jailed after his conviction he went on a hunger strike and was ready to starve to death to protest the grave injustice and protest his innocence. Amazingly, he was granted bail for P250,000. The judge confiscated his passport.
That is the property of the Irish government and they have done nothing that I know of, to claim it back or help get justice for this brave man of principle who would not pay a bribe. He has suffered the injustice of such a harsh and unjust sentence for three years and it has caused great pain and trauma to his family.

How can one get bail after being convicted? I know of two other cases of bail and freedom for convicted foreigners. It is an interesting form of money collection for the government. If this goes on longer and his conviction is upheld by the Court of Appeals, he might go on a hunger strike again. He is silent on the matter but it is pure conjecture as to what might be the outcome.

This would be a huge embarrassment to the Irish government and the Philippine government. It may even hurt the trade relations between the two nations. There are as many as 20,000 Filipinos working in Ireland and sending back millions of dollars to the Philippines.

The sentence alone is an injustice even though the evidence and trial procedure is being examined, studied and questioned. But the campaign can only grow until it is a black eye everywhere for the beautiful innocent Filipinos who suffer so much injustice themselves and much hardship and deprivation by the corrupt officials. These are the minions of the corrupt elite who wallow in wealth and walk to their mansions on the backs of the poor.

shaycullen@preda.org

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