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Democratizing the suffering?

October 18, 2019

RENE SAGUISAG

REQUIRING all public officials to take public transportation on Mondays, including elected national and cabinet officials, I don’t buy. Democratizing the suffering solves nothing, and may worsen everything. It won’t wash.

I still do a little law practice — and suffer a lot. Time of arrival in any destination? One word says it all, and that one word is “you-never-know,” to paraphrase St. Loo pitcher and World Series hero Joaquin Andujar. Judges taking public transpo may be late and everyone with court business suffers. High officials have major problems of state that will remain unsolved or unattended to due to undue delay induced by the traffic crisis, which presidential mouthpiece Sal Panelo may deny until he is blue in the face. He won last Monday? How true it is, en este mundo traidor, no hay verdad ni mentira, todo depende del color, del cristal con que se mira. It all depends on what color of glasses one wears, per Campoamor.

Now, Cebu, with the virtue of candor, has officially declared a traffic crisis after Guv Gwen Garcia had to walk to make it to last Monday’s flag ceremony.

When I became a senator in 1987, only Mike Tamano and I had no vehicle. The Senate then voted for a car plan for everyone. I had a car delivered and parked in a modest apartment we then rented along Arellano Street, Palanan, Makati. A public outcry arose and I had to return it, unused, when the Senate folded. I was to take home P14,612.50 a month and still expected to be provided a vehicle? Sobra na; abuso de confianza?

But, vehicles are a staple in private business and are essential for efficiency. I had to borrow vehicles from kith and kin to better keep vital documents and enable me to attend all Senate sessions on time, never being late, much less absent, a feat I shared with Manong Ernie Maceda. The people’s business came first.

What occupies lawmakers?

I can only eat my heart out looking at what lawmakers do today as our institutions continue sinking. What occupies them? Manny Pacquiao has added starring in a movie and yet, miraculously, he is able to squeeze in a little time for his fave diversion, sideline or hobby, the Senate, another institution going south with many others. Not all the senators for instance have voiced their view on hazing, for one thing. A cruel lie may be told in silence, per Robert Louis Stevenson.

It occupies many other lawmakers today though. “Bill seeks hazing as heinous crime” bannered the Bulletin last Sunday. At the same time, there is widespread publicity hailing the Lex Talionis of San Beda and Ateneo de Davao, with the Prez, doing the Nazi salute in a two-page spread in the Philippine Star, and elsewhere. This 50th anniv gesture is an in-your-face gesture at a time of turmoil cuz of what happened in the Philippine Maltreatment, oooops, Military Academy. What the Prez loves, the tutas won’t touch.

The severity of punishment doesn’t deter though. In the supermarket theory of criminal law, a felon is assumed to carry a copy of our penal laws to see what he can afford to buy and what to shy away from as unaffordable. I doubt that the criminal mind works that way. What deters is swiftness and certainty of conviction and incarceration.

Lenny Villa, Ateneo Aquila Legis neophyte, was killed in frat hazing on Feb. 11, 1991. As counsel for one acquitted accused, Zosimo Mendoza, we received the last Supreme Court ruling in 2016, or 25 years later. How would stiffer penalties deter then? If crooks can be convicted with finality in two or three years, even a sentence of six years and one day (not probationable) would deter.

What else occupies our lawmakers? “Nation-building through gaming,” screamed the Oct. 6, 2019 Sunday Bulletin. Would this mean more nanays, lolas, ates at titas will be gambling at midnight in Resorts World where I now dancexercise? Wotta growth industry!

We have 986 or so days to go before June 30, 2022 when we bid goodbye to PRRD.

This month, we bid goodbye to Chief Justice (CJ) Lucas Bersamin and Senior Associate Justice TonyCarp who have served long and well in the judiciary. I don’t know either all that well but I recounted here last December: “I must have appeared before RTC Judge Lucas Bersamin only once in Quezon City. Routine, ho-hum even, but when I mentioned `human rights,’ he visibly perked up, positively. I would have preferred Justice TonyCarp making it but Justices J.B.L. Reyes, like Justices Cardozo, Holmes and Brandeis, even Judge Learned Hand, are better remembered than most CJs (like our CFI Judge Jesus de Veyra, an Ateneo Ozanam awardee).”

TonyCarp has educated the nation in his views on the West Philippine Sea dispute, maybe out of turn for a justice but who could better articulate our interests (with my fellow Harvard Man Paul Reichler leading the charge)? Bar exams Top Tenners — Cool Hand Luke and Hot Hand TonyCarp — helpful, but not essential of course, to qualify for CJ, is the message.

Some of the best messages or views could be those not sent, a lesson Foreign Secretary Ted Locsin learned in tweeting in a way that could irk China, and regretting it. But Cool Hand Luke in effect says, “non, je ne regrette rien,” as songbird Edith Piaf would sing. No, I regret nothing. But Ted manned up and apologized, to his credit. Rare in our culture.

Which “no-regret” line perhaps Nene Pimentel, my pal, and my one-time national security case suki-client, can echo. He is quite ill, but rallying, I gather. Prayers. He has led a meaningful life of sacrifice for our Motherland, standing on his feet in fierce resistance (jailed four times), and not living in shame on bended knees. We hope he recovers fully, but for all of us, it is really up to the One Up There. Let’s pray he will be around for the 986 or so days left of the current regime so hostile to human rights.

The Supreme Court may have effectively amended the Constitution by making only sitting justices qualify for the top post. Contrast it with the search for CJ Rene Corona’s successor in 2012, when nearly 30 names from in and out of the judiciary surfaced. Today, no one dares, after the Sereno farce (to me, anyway).

Alien coaches

Farce last Sunday afternoon it could have been; instead I saw a spirited La Salle team do battle with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, who won a hard-fought duel. Yup, La Salle is very much still in the league. Why the two schools have alien coaches continues to bother me though. There should be some local brains to do it. Brawn, I can understand. But kukote, josme po naman. No more Silvas, Dalupans, Ouanos, Rocos, Riuses, Fajardos, Silverios, et al. today? We’re going south here also? Amazing.

Amazing is our enterprising Jomar Canlas. Those who wish to know future Supreme Court rulings may buy our paper and be discombobulated by his access to the justices — who should have no familiars — which can blow one’s mind. He is virtually the 16th justice. What will the system do with outrageous judicial leakers? Nothing, in our culture in seeming decay. South-bound also. Jomar should be commended for enterprise and his leaking sources condemned for loquacity. Ang dadadaldal! Gabby. Grabe.

To me anyway, Veep Leni Robredo has won at this point. But, Jomar may say for us to wait a minute. With the standing of the presidency, judiciary and legislature going south, I don’t look at the dark clouds but at the silver lining; her kleptocratic foe, made to return billions with his nuke family, lost, and should. An officer stealing a million may be perpetually disqualified from public office while “ill-gotteners” of billions aren’t?

But, on whether history will put PRRD on the right side, the Prez may be judged on how he handles the traffic mess. With gimmickry and lack of planning? I have a hearing in Lemery, Batangas later this month and dread the hellish prospect of a 20-kilometer crawl from Canlubang to the Skyway, which I have gone through. The life of the law has not been logic but experience (Holmes).

I remember courageous RTC Judge Lito de la Rosa — who had defied the Dictator — taking the bus from Vito Cruz to Laguna and still making it on time. Which judge today does Sal Panelo have in mind commuting to his work place and democratizing the suffering? So he is perceived.

Suffering we continue to have from the Olympic drought as to gold medals. And my campaign has sputtered in giving recognition to Victoria Manalo-Draves after whom a two-acre park in downtown San Francisco, California has been named. She was the daughter of musikero Teofilo from Orani, Bataan. She got two Olympic diving golds in 1948 in London. So, our athletes, remember Victoria na! Manalo pa!!

Trapik? Bokya tayo lahat dito, pareng Sal Patalo, oooops, Panelo. You may cry on my golden pal Ted Locsin’s shoulders. No need if you see yourself as Sal Panalo. As in the the case of the Washington Nationals, no longer described as First in War, First in Peace, and Last in the American League.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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