IT warms the cockles of my heart that the Inquirer picked four independent trial judges as its 2018 Filipinos of the Year. It helps make me proud to be a lawyer. You hear such stories as — Ives was a lawyer and yet became a saint and the people were astonished — and kinda feel like weeping.
“First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” said Shakespeare, in praise, not dispraise, of them, his paean to lawyers as the foe of tyrants. Tañada, Diokno, Concepcion, Zaldivar, Salonga, Rodrigo, Padilla, Arroyo, Teehankee, Muñoz Palma, Abad Santos, Garchitorena, Escolin, et al. raised the foolish questions during the scary years. I was scared but pretended not to be so, awed and inspired by these models.
The Senate is not only for lawyers of course but it needs them for lawmaking. “Laymen can be useful also, for the proper mix. Such as Navyman-senator Sonny Trillanes, prosecuted now for rebellion in 2007, alone; his co-rebels aren’t, absent the vital element of being critical of the administration. So, it appears to be pure politics, not rule of law, being harassed by his lonesome with an evil eye and an unequal hand. There are issues on unequal protection, double jeopardy and unreasonable delay. 2007 pa, ngayon lang ang umpisa; pamahalaan, natulog sa pansitan.
Lawyers Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay, Erin Tañada and Neri Colmenares will be productive Senate assets, fresh faces who will “fiscalize” (a quaint Filipinism), particularly with their human rights addiction, given the administration’s dismal track record in this area. We need Romy Macalintal and Glenn Chong, to edify, on election matters. They won’t be distracted, for instance, by boxing, and whose brain, and therefore, priorities, may be affected by repeated blows in the head full of money thoughts. We need women and Sam Gutoc-Tomawis qualifies, coming from a religious minority and a sex the Prez continues to make light of, if not, indeed, vilify.
To bury a child
Last Monday, a woman, we bade goodbye to — in her final “homegoing.” I was in the funeral Mass for Rissa, daughter of Ave Cruz, my Pasig townsman. To lose a parent is not easy, but it is in the natural order of things. To bury a child isn’t, and could be excruciatingly painful indeed.
In the solemn gathering sharing pain, I spotted Rudy Robles, No. 1 in the bar in 1967, as Ave was in 1961. Ave was the valedictorian of Pasig Catholic in 1955. I was in Rizal High, with Eddie Sanchez as our valedictorian. He, a brother of Bobbit, the first MABINI chair (often misunderstood and underappreciated), was also No. 1 in the board exams in chemical engineering.
Ave’s mother was the Pasig municipal librarian. One day, in the library, she told me, ever so casually, “my son will top the bar.” He did too after getting special permission from the Supreme Court, being underaged, at 20 then.
Two years of pre-law work (A.A.) sufficed then but, uncertain if I was meant for law, I went on to A.B.. Ave and I took the bus together going home after 8:30 p.m., reaching Pasig before 9 p.m.; I learned a lot from him, my senior superior.
Last Monday, at Forbes’ Santuario de San Antonio, a row of Bedans headed by Kilabot Obet de Leon, Club Filipino Bossman, scintillated, and of course the solemnity was minimized, if not gone out of the window. Looking at them, I had to wonder whether the Mass was null and void, or voidable. Obet was not the only Tsikboy there. But, Fr. Manuel Maramba, OSB, my first cousin-in-law (my late wife was Dulce Maramba-Quintans), was there, to redress the balance. Our Lord Jesus, true God and true man, is said to simmer, when a hypocrite kisses his feet in Quiapo, “Kundi lang ako nakapako dito, sinipa na kita.”
Seriously, all our sympathies go to Ave and Helen for the loss of one they loved, and always will. Also to the survivors of Tito “Hans” Acuña, gone, in Texas last Saturday. A Bedan magna in commerce, he was my campus contemporary and a tall NCAA and MICAA (Ysmael) cager we’d match with Her Highness, tall Maryknoller Gemma Cruz, in shindigs. He’d consult me in some of his legal concerns.
And then, there is Ike Bernardo, hubby of Cora S. de la Paz-Bernardo, Rizal High ‘56 honor graduates, a brilliant couple who former pblic works secretary Toto Estuar, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and I, would meet socially every quarter. Ike was low-key and reserved, a member of UHAW (Union of Husbands Adoring Wives, in my case, Union of Husbands Afraid of Wives). Super-bait Cora was No. 1 in the CPA board exams. Ike, Godspeed in your final journey home this morning at the Evergreen Memorial Garden. (I went to Forbes the other evening, only to be told he was moved out in the morning.)
Gone in a totally different sense was a sentence in my column last week. A sentence was omitted, on the law’s delay. Here it is “. . . I represented [Aquila Legis member] Zos Mendoza who, I can tell only in April 2016, that hardworking and shabbily treated Chief Justice Meilou Sereno ended the case after 25 years.”
Diokno and the Bicol issue
Delay means the wrong time. I tell my studes the right thing must be done at the right time in the right way in the right place and for the right reason. Is Secretary Ben Diokno being treated in the wrong way? Given the right forum at the right time, Ben must clarify his role in the Bicol budget issue. Colleague Bobi Tiglao, in his “Questions Budget Secretary Diokno must answer,” last Monday, had this snippet: “The only speck in Diokno’s white track record, so to speak, was an episode when he was then President Joseph Estrada’s budget secretary, when his office’s security guard mistakenly opened a package that contained P1 million, which obviously was a bribe for someone in the office. It had not been revealed though to whom the package was addressed, and the episode was quickly forgotten.” Now is as good a time as any for Ben to give his side of the episode. The fact that no one pursued the matter may indicate that there was nothing to it. Was it seriously probed at all? I have to wish any Diokno well and I hope La Salle Law Dean Chel makes it to the Senate.
Maybe the Bicol issue is one that the questionable Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) — it should have been created by Congress, in my view — can look into, as an attack dog mainly when it comes to people not in the good graces of the Prez. He gives a wide berth to his favorites (like Trillanes’ co-rebels the administration is not prosecuting, and where obviously the constitutional “right to a speedy disposition of the case” cannot be met, as to all accused, particularly Sen. Sonny). The rebellion is said to have occurred in 2007 pa, for crying out loud.
If Ben thinks ang daya ni Andaya, where can he report? In the Senate? I once worked there, and in our back row of hard workers, to my left was Manong Bert Romulo (Universidad Central de Madrid), and across the aisle, Manang Letty Ramos-Shahani (Wellesley and Sorbonne) and to her right. Bobby Tañada (Harvard Law). The Senate Prez was Uncle Jovy Salonga, of Rizal High, UP Law, Harvard and Yale.
I harbored some kind of inferiority complex in 1987, looking at those who had preceded us as senators of the realm, like multilingual Don Claro Mayo Recto. He delivered the commencement speech at UP in 1951, where he labelled our foreign policy as one of mendicancy and concluded memorably: “Let not Macaulay’s traveler from New Zealand, exploring the spectral ruins of Manila in the course of his post-atomic peregrinations, and cautiously testing the radioactive waters of the Pasig, from the broken arches of Quezon Bridge, have cause to ponder that in those shattered tenements and poisoned fields and rivers, once lived a nation unique in the annals of mankind, free men who put their liberties on the auction block, a sacrificial race with a mysterious urge to suicide, who, being weak and weaponless, took upon themselves the quarrels of the strong and, having been warned of their abandonment, still persisted in their lonely cause, and whose brutalized and monstrously deformed survivors, scrambling with stunted limbs, in the infected debris of their liberated cities, had forgotten even the echo of the memory of the strange illusion for which their race had fought and perished.” Evergreen.
In his bases “No” vote in 1991, Kamandag Manong Johnny Ponce Enrile perorated: “Finally, I am against this treaty because its basic assumption is an insult to our race. I cannot live with a treaty that assumes that without 8,000 servicemen and some passing warships, we shall fall flat on our faces. I cannot believe that the vitality of this country will be extinguished when the last bargirl in Olongapo turns off the light in the last cabaret.” JPE I cannot debate with on bar and other girls for that matter. Another lawyer who knew lawmaking and policymaking was Sen. Strom Thurmond, the colorful elevator groper in the US Senate, who was there at 100. (When the staunch segregationist passed away, a daughter with a black woman surfaced, who he had fathered at 22, with the woman aged 16, and supported quietly.)
We should have a truly free foreign policy. China is now said to have missiles in what we claim as ours, where our fishermen can no longer fish. And all the Palace can say is, wala naman tayong magagawa.
Kundi lang po kami nakapako sa hirap at dusa, . . .