In pursuit of justice for Liam Madamba
This is an open letter to Dr Margarita Holmes. This was written in defense of the Senate and Mrs. Trixie Madamba, and in pursuit of truth and justice for her son, Liam Madamba. (Read Margarita Holmes' reply here)
Dear Dr Holmes,
I write on behalf of Mrs. Trixie Madamba, in response to your article “Where's the Impartiality, Sen Osmeña?" published on July 14, 2015. In the interest of fairness, I hope this may likewise be published.
I wish to remind you that the hearing of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture in the matter of Senate Bill 2147 — “An Act Recognizing The British School Manila (BSM)” — is not in the nature of an adversarial proceeding. Thus, your claim of lack of impartiality on the part of Senator Serge Osmena in presiding over the hearings as the acting Chair in the absence of Committee Chair Senator Pia Cayetano, is clearly misplaced.
The main thrust of the Senate hearing is to evaluate whether BSM is worthy to be granted a legislative franchise. While it is inevitable to discuss the death of Liam Madamba and the circumstances leading to his death, and how the same were handled by BSM, it is not for the Senate to determine the liabilities of people who may have had something to do with the death of Liam. That is the function of the courts, not the Senate. The Senate, however, may recommend the further investigation and prosecution of certain individuals whenever it deems necessary at the conclusion of the hearing.
It is easy to understand that Mrs. Trixie Madamba appeared at the Senate hearing not as an expert on the subject matter of suicide, but as mother of Liam. It is therefore irrelevant to compare Mrs. Madamba’s training and experience on suicide with that of an alleged expert. But in so far as how Liam lived his life is concerned, no expert testimony may be more important than the testimony of his own mother. Without the testimony of Mrs. Madamba, the testimony of any mental health professional would just be theoretical, rhetorical.
Everyone in his or her own right mind would understand why the testimony of Mrs. Madamba should be given importance, more than the lecture of a professional. And there is nothing wrong for Mrs. Madambato see everything that has happened in the “prism of her own sorrow,” as you have written. Experiential testimonies have greater evidentiary value than general, professional statements independent of factual circumstances.
There’s nothing more sincere and genuine than the candid statements of a grieving mother, for her only motivation is to seek the truth behind the untimely death of her son.
You have also questioned the behavior of the Senators in allegedly giving preferential treatment to Mrs. Madamba in the course of the Senate hearing. While BSM officers and administrators appeared with their respective lawyers, Mrs. Madamba attended the Senate hearing on her own. It is unclear how you would have preferred the hearing to be handled.
Would you have preferred that the Senators badger Mrs. Trixie Madamba and stop her testimony about her son, Liam?
Mrs. Madamba is a teacher, a simple mother and wife to her ordinary family. She’s no celebrity. And yet in pursuit of truth, she takes courage to endure the media attention on the death of her son while their family grieves, and risks opening the privacy of their lives to the public.
No one fears turning the Senate hearing into a “circus of partiality” and the “lack of transparency” more than Mrs. Trixie Madamba and her family. Certainly, more than you do Dr Holmes.
Mrs. Madamba and her family just wanted the truth, the one she felt they were constantly deprived from the day Liam was allegedly shamed by his teacher until he ended his young life.
How about you, Dr. Holmes, what is your motivation for criticizing Mrs. Madamba and discrediting the Senate hearing? Are you a party in interest here? Are you a BSM parent?
It also seems that you are lawyering for teacher Natalie Mann, and quick to exonerate people who appear to be responsible for Liam’s suicide. You have defended Natalie Mann against the claim of Mrs. Madamba that her behavior was the reason Liam decided to end his own life. You even had the temerity to ask, “Where is the proof of that?”
But if I may also ask, “Where is Natalie Mann?” Why did she flee the country hastily? Why was she allowed by BSM to leave even before an investigation was commenced?
The other issues you have raised will be dealt with in the proper forum, not at the Senate hearing much less in this article. But the truth will come out. It may not be soon, but it will. And all parties in interest will be given the ample opportunity to defend and clear, at the proper time, the responsibilities of people involved.
Liam was forced to end his own life. For this, people will be held responsible and accountable. To an observer, by-stander, onlooker, usisera, this may just be a case of looking for someone to blame. But for Liam’s family, this is seeking the truth and a quest for justice.
It doesn’t take an expert to understand this.
Atty Joseph Noel M. Estrada
The author is the lawyer of the Madamba family. He is a partner at Gargantiel Estrada Atanante & Ilagan. He is also the legal counsel of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, and the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations.