Mojito flips through his planner to ascertain the exact time of his courtroom hearing. It’s 7:00 a.m. and the hearing starts at 8:30. This case, frustrated homicide, is slowly leaving a sour taste on his palate. The witnesses for the prosecution seem successful in tailoring untruthful facts in their testimonies and Mojito’s job as a defense lawyer is to unstitch these lies to snatch his client from certain wrongful conviction.
Today, Mojito will cross-examine the prosecution’s second witness. His eyes scan the police blotter report. Blotter reports are crude, cryptic, and grammatically unforgivable. You could easily imagine the environment from which they are prepared – noisy, humid Police stations with loud mouth cops re-telling the lastest x-rated dvd they watched. Mojito points at a figure in the blotter. “There, the complainant is only 1 year old” Mojito chuckles.
“Entry no: 4568
Date : 23 Oct. 2010
Time : 10:00 AM
Compalint : For record
Recorded by : P01 LUCIO S. SEMPLANG
ICOW Entry No. 4568 dated Oct. 23, 2011. Victim one LEOPOLDO T. QUOLATADO, Born on December 7, 2010, single, Farmer, Native of Brgy. Tuldok, Island Garden City of Samal, and a resident of Sitio Kawa, Brgy. Paquibato, Davao City, appeared before this office. Initial investigation conducted disclosed that on Sept. 3, 2010 about 5:00 PM at Sitio Kawa, Brgy. Paquibato, Davao City, Particular in the more or less 1Klm from the house of the victim, … Allegedly hurl a hollow block hitting the right side of the victim, resulting to the injury thereon.”
Mojito’s mind drifts. He sees P01 Semplang takes the witness stand. He looks intently at him. The Police Officer is in his late 40’s, typically fat, with a bloated belly. No one is immune in the witness stand, not even Police Officers. They appear anxious, timid, and unsure, like a caged animal cowering in the unfamiliar territory. Mojito sees P01 Semplang making circular motions with his thumbs.
“Mister witness, you’ve been a Police Officer for 25 years, correct?”
“Yes, your Honor”
“And for the last 15 years, your job consist of making blotter reports, is that correct?”
“Yes, your Honor”
Mojito looks down on his notes. He firmly holds the copy of the blotter report that P01 Semplang had made.
“You prepared a blotter report in this case, Mr. witness?”
“Yes, your Honor”
“I’m showing you this document. Could you please identify this.”
P01 Semplang studied the document, holds it with his right hand and after a second, returns it to Mojito and says, “That is a copy of the blotter report I made in this case your Honor”. Mojito takes a few steps backward. His voice is firmer and louder now.
“The contents of this blotter report are true and correct, Mr. witness?”
“Yes, your honor”
“And according to this blotter report the complainant victim is a farmer is that correct?”
“Yes, your Honor, that is correct”
Mojito slaps hard the worn out mahogany table in front of him with his right palm. The sound ricochets through the tiny courtroom. Judge Roberta, who looks like Miriam Defensor Santiago’s biological twin, blurts out a startled gurgle “aybilatsangina!” Mojito himself is taken aback by what he just did. He looks up and sees Judge Miriam holding and pointing the courtroom mallet at him and hollers,
“Don’t you dare do that again Atty. Mojito!”
“Sorry, your Honor”
“May I proceed your honor?” Mojito sheepishly says.
“Proceed. Absolutely no banging this time!”
“Yes your honor”
Mojito glances at P01 Semplang who obviously suppresses a smirk. Mojito showed him the blotter report again and asks,
“How can a 1 year old infant be a farmer, Mr. witness?”
“Huh?” P01 Semplang shows a baffled face.
“Look at this blotter again and read this line aloud”
P01 looks at the sentence pointed by Mojito and begins reading aloud. “ICOW Entry No. 4568 dated Oct. 23, 2011. Victim one LEOPOLDO T. QUOLATADO, Born on December 7, 2010, single, Farmer, Native of Brgy. Tuldok, Island Garden City of Samal,” he says.
“Could you please read again the complainant’s date of birth” Mojito demands.
“Born on December 7, 2010” P01 Semplang says.
“Why, the complainant was just born last year, isn’t that correct Mr. witness?”
“Objection your honor!” The prosecutor who remains silent up to this point angrily shouts. “Your honor, this is simply a typo mistake”
He looks old and wrinkled with a squealing, high pitch, mono-syllabic voice like that of Justice Cuevas. His crumpled hair displays the aura of a seasoned prosecutor, like a combat general standing defiantly in the battle field shouting orders to his cowering soldiers amidst the explosions and flying bullets.
“Your honor, this witness had just told this court that this blotter report which he made was accurate and true” counters Mojito.
Just then, a damp hand touches Mojito’s shoulder. He turns to see his wife standing in front of him, with an oil dripping spatula in hand and alarmedly says, “It’s already 8:00 a.m. You’ll be late for your hearing!”