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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Arrogance Revisited

With government espousing the virtue of the unTruth Commission and the opposition bashing it as a deliberate distraction, the brouhaha over the constitutionality, legality, composition of the Commission and its unintended consequences have crowded out two strikingly similar news items that cast a bad light on the legal profession.

I am referring to the unleashed Doberman (pardon the slur on the canine) of the Arroyo administration, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales and the self-righteous Scribe, Atty. Frank Chavez. These two men have cast the first stone believing they are without sin.

Justice Secretary Gonzales had the gumption to lecture the adopted Mother of this nation. He counsels Mrs. Aquino, rather than minding the affairs of the State, to just mind Kris Aquino whose life and pursuits of true love have led her to dizzying heights of public humiliation and embarrassment. While he may not be the first person to express a rationalization of that sort, it does not behoove a government official, a Justice Secretary at that, to utter in public derogatory statements which do not in anyway rebut the arguments of Mrs. Aquino's call for GMA's resignation. His statement was unadulterated argumentum ad hominem and his abject purpose for decimating Mrs. Aquino's political capital was to show that he can be as petty and as nasty as Cristy Fermin, not to mention that Mr. Gonzales will wager his soul to the devil if only to please the President.

But we should have known better. This was not our first exposure to his arrogance. It knows no bounds and brooks no authority. After all, was this not the former Tanodbayan during the Aquino administration who disdainfully clashed with the Supreme Court and to be stripped of his license to practice law? Perhaps, the Supreme Court may be regretting or not their decision to reinstate him to the Roll of Attorneys but I am quite sure that the late Chief Justice Teehankee must be turning in his grave as we speak.

And how about Mr. Frank Chavez? He declared before all and sundry that he would rather be held in contempt by the Senate than be held in contempt of justice. Nice prose but whatever did he mean by that? If he was being true to his statement, was it not contemptuous of justice for the mother, Senator Loi Estrada, to insist repetitively on Mr. Mosqueda to disclose his bank accounts? Was it not contemptuous of justice for the son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, to badger and shout at Mr. Mosqueda even if the questions of both the madonna and son were bordering on contemptible inanity?

Mr. Chavez may be right to be indignant at the sarcastic line of questioning by Senator Gordon but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Surely, he employs the same tone when cross-examining witnesses to test their credibility. After all, we lawyers are trained to seek the truth through adversarial confrontation. Sen. Gordon will be diminished as a proud product of the Diliman law school if he did not do what he did to Ms. Sandra Cam. Atty. Chavez should have realized that not only did he insult Senator Gordon but he held in contempt the hallowed Senate even if its present members fall short of that great legacy. And for a former Solicitor General of the Republic to disregard such obvious nuance, that is indeed contemptuous!

But what of their penalties? Mr. Gonzales still heads the Justice bureaucracy but word has it that the Queen of Hearts has only but to say "Off with his head" that the president would have gladly acceded to. On the other hand, Atty. Chavez was merely given a slap on the wrist when the Senate banned him from appearing as counsel in any investigation before the Senate. Big deal! But hold on, will this prohibition apply in the coming impeachment trial where the opposition may not be allowed to avail his services as a private prosecutor? Tsk tsk tsk. If that is so, this would be the second time in impeachment history that Atty. Chavez would fail to dazzle us with his brilliance and/or baffle us with his b.s.

The ungentlemanly arrogance of these two lawyers are an unfair reflection on the legal profession. Their conduct brazenly displayed for all to see are the exceptions rather than the rule although the public may not believe it. But whether the public believes it or not, we lawyers must remember that law is a profession steeped in history, nurtured in civility and tact and sharpened through wit and sarcasm but always mindful that we are a band of brothers (and sisters) and learned gentlemen (and women) of the old school.

These two men have forgotten the nobility of our profession.

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