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Di po pederalismo ang problema, kundi po kayo mismo!

SEN. Ping Lacson impishly said that his chamber is ready to cremate whatever Cha-cha cadaver the Bigger House may send to the Better House, Frankfurter’s “derelict upon the waters of the law” if I may mix my metaphors.

What made the consultative committee (ConCom) spokesman tap Mocha Uson to sell its draft? That she could seduce the populace the way she apparently did candidate and now Prez Digong? Was it because there is a “cha” in her name, as in Mo-Cha for Cha-cha?

“Ginoong Pangulo at Binibining Mocha, di po sistema ng pamahalaan ang problema, di po pederalismo, kundi po, kayo mismo!”

A hard sell. She was reportedly approached to help lead the campaign to promote its draft, on the initiative of the ConCom spokesman, who may or may not have had clearance from it.

Decay in values

Permit me to doubt the wisdom of the move, validating that we are decaying in more than one front. Indeed, in what aspect of government are we better off today than we were when I was a law student and a young lawyer in the 1950s and 1960s? Are we a failed democracy?

It seems a truly serious ‘yes” campaign should be led by, among others, former chief justice (CJ) Rey Puno, former senator Nene Pimentel, and topnotch lawyers Vic de la Serna and Rudy Robles; the latter three were elected Concon delegates in 1971. Fr. Rannie Aquino is a jurisprudence scholar or pundit.

But, what about the dismal aspect of economics? Can they point to any tree with money growing on it?

In 1986-87, I, as Cory, Jr., was among those who led the campaign for the ratification of the Cory Constitution (now sought to be replaced by the Mo-Cha version). Walk in the park. But, it was the song, not the singer. Easy to sell the work of a body led by Justice Ka Celing Muñoz Palma as ConCom President, with Senator Ambo Padilla as veep, aided by Chief Justice Berting Concepcion, and many others whose patriotism and sagacity were beyond a peradventure.

Thereby was killed the 1973 Constitution. 1971 ConCon and 1986 ConCom delegate Pepe Nolledo narrated that in 1973, barangay assemblies were supposedly held. Asked who wanted siopao, the attendees raised their hands, which were then marked as “yes” votes.

Manny Pacquiao, on the other hand, is pushing for the anti-poor death penalty. All the statistics show that the rich boy flies, the poor boy fries. Extrajudicially killed, the poor may now be judicially murdered. The law represents the biases of the ruling class. Manny should consider the poor from whose ranks he came.

Snake oil salespersons we seem to see all over.

Now comes my pal, Ferdie Topacio, a celebrity lawyer with a celebrity client I chanced upon last Monday in the Sandiganbayan cafeteria. Ferdie, who flatters and flattens me by calling me Lodi, I again met the other evening in St. Luke’s at the Fort. He was accompanying his ailing mother (not necessarily buying the facility). I learned about his presence because a waiter said he had picked up the tab, for us, unbidden.

Ferdie has helped put up a bounty for the heads of Ka Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Paeng Mariano and Teddy Casiño. The latter I met over dinner last July 24. I recall that Joker P. Arroyo would advise our detained national security clients, prisoners of conscience, that their first duty is to escape.

Ka Satur, et al., ingat, I don’t know where any of you may be found; if I did, I ain’t telling. But, if Ferdie raises the ante, I just might yield; Oscar Wilde said: “I can resist everything, except temptation.”

Seriously, given that their alleged crime was supposedly committed about a dozen years ago, how I wish the Supreme Court could have found a way just to dismiss the case for the denial of the human and constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the case. So many years and not even first base we have reached, a very sad affirmation of Hamlet’s “law’s delay.” Inordinate delay indeed.

Anti-poor death penalty

Lenny Villa was killed in an Aquila Legis hazing incident on February 11, 1991. Thanks to then Associate Justice Meilou Sereno, she finally decided the case on February 1, 2012. Among those acquitted was my client, Zos Dizon. On a motion for reconsideration, it was only in April 2016, when we got the ruling denying the motion, again, thanks to hardworking CJ Meilou. Actually, Zos, convicted by a regional trial court, was acquitted twice by the Court of Appeals and twice by the Supreme Court! Multiple jeopardy and acquittals.

Going back to public hanging by the neck till dead, which the Prez prefers, what Manny Pacquiao should study is whether in its application, the death penalty has been anti-poor, the ranks from which he came. Taksil po sa kanyang kauri? The rich criminals are probably in the corridors of power. The law represents the biases of the ruling class.

Manny and Tito Sotto should study the Portuguese experience and the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs. Portugal sees druggies as sick, who should be rehabbed, not as gun-grabbing criminals to be destroyed in our horrid prison system. By decriminalizing all drugs, the syndicates would wither and die, as government would supply the drugs. No rise in drug use in Portugal. In fact, it is going south.

Public hanging represents the best thinking of centuries ago. In England pickpockets would ply their trade while a hanging went on. We should not add judicial murder to extrajudicial killings. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, rape the rapist?

Not only Manny Pacquiao has read the Bible. So also has the Pope. So have I, the Jerusalem Bible, cover to cover, from the Old Testament of Lamech, to Lex Talionis to the New, which teaches compassion and forgiveness.

Do we prefer decay in values? Certainty and swiftness of conviction deter, not the severity of the penalty. A criminal does not carry a copy of the Penal Code and looks at what he can afford, a discredited supermarket theory of the criminal law.

Last Friday night, in a birthday party, someone sang “Vincent” (Starry Starry Night). Senator Vincent Sotto should play and listen to the song with its haunting melody.

MABINI’s Alex Padilla, of La Salle and UP, sang and danced in a party of Bedans whose BoyNing Suzara was marking a birth anniversary. Bogs Bonifacio’s emailed invite had said Alex would sing “MacArthur Park.” He delivered. Bobby Mondejar, a friend of the bday boy, sang, with feeling, “Vincent” (Starry Starry Night), part of whose lyrics were emblazoned on a wreath in the wake of hero/martyr Dr. Bobby de la Paz in Malate in 1982. A few nights ago, I watched on TV a film on Vincent Van Gogh’s life. And very briefly last Tuesday early in the morning, “MacArthur,” starring Gregory Peck.

Dr. Sylvia was Dr. Bobby’s widow I got to meet after my unsayable loss of 2007. The one we suspected to have been behind Bobby’s salvaging, I got to know when my wife and I were dancexercising at Intercon. Col. F would wait in the coffee shop below and drink, while his wife also dancexercised at Bahia.

Keeping our sanity

Music and dance have the power to make us happy in this vale of tears. Like meeting top showbiz types. Celebrities.

I met Joan Baez during Prez Cory’s 1986 San Fran visit; earlier I met Sigourney Weaver in New York. In 1996, my wife and I saw Linda Ronstadt in Las Vegas and “Blue Bayou” alone was more than worth the cost of admission.

We need to relax to keep what is left of our sanity. “Now I understand what you tried to say to me, and how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set them free, they would not listen, they did not know how, perhaps they’ll listen now, starry, starry night.”

Here’s hoping Digong and Mocha will listen to the people now.

I cannot close without remarking that “pepe” I associate with Pepe and Pilar, Rizal, Nolledo and Ka Pepe Diokno, souls of decency. As a Tagalog, only now am I told that it could be linked to toxic indecency. That’s rich. Pekpek, let’s stick with, and continue to link pepe with what is edifying.

We all have a stake in arresting decay in values, institutions and processes certain administration types appear to want to continue leading us.

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