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Tragedy of errors; remembering heroes

LAST Tuesday, Chief Justice Meilou Sereno was made to join, willy-nilly, the ranks of 11 million jobless Pinoys, as it were. She fell, again I say, into the arms of her people. She has more than proven her point, beyond a peradventure. The Prez bellowed he wanted her, his enemy, removed. Done.

But, the generally genuflectory Supreme Court failed to rule unanimously, unlike in the US segregation case in 1954, the ruling against Nixon in 1974 (surrender of the Watergate tapes), and the decision against Tsikboy Clinton in 1997 (no presidential immunity); unanimous, and thus gained easy acceptance. The justices there in Washington are otherwise seen as nine scorpions in a bottle.

Here, we had a close vote, 8-6, which would have been 8-7 if the CJ had not shown the class several colleagues had checked at the door. Had she voted, it would have been 8-7.

In paraphrase, may I say that doubtless, certain high feelings of the moment will be satisfied but in the sober afterglow may come the realization of the sad implications of the extra slim majority decision. History will decide. Ultimately.

For another arguable error, elsewhere, the seemingly indolent Palace apparently committed another grave error by calling Roilo Golez, now in his grave, Rogelio.

A netizen emailed me that he had gone to Roy’s wake. He said: “I went to the wake of Roilo (coined from Romblon and Iloilo) at Heritage Park” and met Vice Mayor Rico Golez, in “very ordinary clothing, a humble person.” Fruit does not fall far from the tree. I hope humble Roy’s heroism is not soon forgotten.

We may otherwise be too forgetful.

Shallow sense of history

When I was a Makati Elementary grader, we’d sing “for Rizal was born on June 19…” which seems to be hardly marked in this day and age (our paper, the best in town, did remember and front-paged a pix of a sculpture of the hero last Tuesday). It was a haunting melody but I am not aware, and doubt, that it is still sung today. We seem to have a shallow sense of history as well as shifting values.

Cory Benipayo Mojica reminded me that today, June 22, would have been the 98th birth anniversary of Ka Jovy Salonga had he lived, in a country run like heaven – or hell – depending on where one is (nakikinabang o inaaapi, or just as a citizen Juan in the middle of the road, where most accidents happen).

I was raised to call him Uncle. His mother (Lola Dinang) and my own Lola (Ka Talia) were first cousins, living in the same Barrio San Miguel, Pasig looban. As my Lola was barren of milk, Daddy had to suck from the breasts of wet-nurse Lola Dinang, so we were told.

I had known Uncle Jovy only from afar then. I had no yen for politics. But, martial law eventually drew us closer, sharing a passion for human rights and constitutionalism, out of fashion today.

Prima Cory BM echoed many others in saying that “[p]erhaps in this era of foul-mouthed, ill-mannered, uncouth government officials, columnists like [me]should take this opportunity to write about another era when this statesman, congressman, three-time topnotch senator and Senate President set the bar for being a strong Christian (not a strong man in this day’s connotation).” She added: “[I was] one of those who knew him best – at work [in the Better House]and at one-on-one interaction. Perhaps a feature on him will inspire a more gentlemanly code of conduct and integrity in true governance and public service.” Sana naman, although it may be a Sisyphean enterprise or undertaking at this time of Hitler’s Nazi salute being popularized by the Prez, all over, with uninformed or terrorized guests aping him.

A day for Bessang Pass

I note also that there was hardly any mention last week of the Battle of Bessang Pass of June 14-15, 1945, when my friend and San Beda Law faculty colleague, Desi Jurado, helped break the backbone of Japanese resistance. Desi helped free us from foreign invaders but, sadly, not from our very own dictators. When last we met in Quezon City in the 1970s or 1980s, he urged us to keep going, in MABINI, and with a wistful faraway look, wondered aloud about whatever happened to that young man who once upon a time was ready to give his all for the Motherland. He had done more than enough.

And now, his son Rudolf Philip Jurado, honest and competent, was kicked around, named, shamed and ridiculed by our current intolerant virtual dictator, who even cussed him in public, without bothering to get his side of the story. He deserved due process. Everybody does.

Father Desi had led a maneuver and lost a number of his men in Bessang Pass, and now he may be said to have lost again, rolling in his grave at the grave injustice done to a son. Today, in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani is a fake hero, Macoy, who claimed to be in Bessang Pass, when in fact he was hundreds of kilometers away. Aside from Desi, we should remember Calixto Duque, Conrado Rigor, et al.

If we must mark our defeats, like those in Bataan and Corregidor, there must be a day for Bessang Pass, to mark one great Filipino victory. I support the proposal to declare June 14, 1945 a holiday, at least regionally, if not nationally.

BTW, Uncle Jovy himself was captured in April 1942 and was tortured, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, but was pardoned on Japan’s Foundation Day in 1943, and he co-topped the bar with Ka Pepe Diokno in 1944 with 95.3 percent.

Not enough has been done either to mark the sterling sacrifice of Chief Justice Pedro Abad Santos of a worthy Supreme Court, executed in Lanao on May 2, 1942, for refusing to collaborate with the invaders. He could have gone to Australia and then the US, to be part of our government in exile, but chose to stay with his suffering people.

Did our heroes sacrifice in vain?

Right to be a bum

Today, we are a country which even sees as criminal the constitutional right to be a bum, with 11 million unemployed. Veep Leni Robredo, I see, points out that RA 10158 of 2012 decriminalized vagrancy under Art. 101 of the Revised Penal Code. But, the cops always obey the Malacañang lawgiver. And it seems they enforce local ordinances but it seems to me Congress has preempted the field of vagrancy and cannot be thwarted and sidestepped below.

I do hope, however, that we can deter our tambays from going around half-naked; fully naked may present another set of problems, depending on sex, age, etc. and the fact that UP has its annual “oblation run,” with no reported prosecution. “Tradition?” But, Art. 11 of the Civil Code states: “Customs which are contrary to law, public order or public policy shall not be countenanced.” A tradition has been defined in Spain as a social vice that has become incurable (un vicio social que se ha vuelto incurable).

One vice I see is Protectee Digong and his mouthpieces acting as China’s spokesmen. Protector China can speak for itself, surely. We should also speak up, in tribute to our heroes like Jose Rizal, Roy, Uncle Jovy, Desi, et al. who, oppressed, resisted and meant it when they sang “ang mamatay ng dahil sa ‘yo” emblazoned in their hearts.

After two years, I hope our President has acquired the security and confidence to be humble. I hope he also learns why “distinguished diplomat Delia Albert,” per Malaya Business Insight’s gutsy Ellen Tordesillas the other day “stood out because she was the only one who was not doing the idiotic fist pump which has become the signature gesture of Duterte and his sycophants.” She added: “Oh, Sen. Loren Legarda was…not doing the fist pump in the picture,” either.

Leila de Lima, Chit Carpio Morales, Meilou Sereno, Delia Albert, Loren Legarda, and other women inspire hope and help arrest our decay, as we await the wisdom of a new day.

Here, I note the wisdom and heroism now of Justice TonyCarp, who is not interested in becoming the next CJ. Revered Justice JBL Reyes never became CJ (and I may say good morning to myself; in January 1987, I myself, at 47, turned down a signed Supreme Court appointment and life went on). We can do so much more with less obsession for recognition.

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