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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.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Wall

With the opposition now holding fort in churches near the Palace, the administration has been convincing the fencesitters among us that the church must maintain the wall of separation between church and state. That is a constitutional prescription that must be observed by both church and state.

Not necessarily so.

The Wall of Separation between church and state is not so much for the church to obey as a constitutional requirement for good citizenship. The church abides by the separation because its main province is the spiritual and moral well being of its flock. If she chooses to knock one or two pegs off the government, it is because the Church is concerned beyond the temporalities which the state seems incapable of addressing. Even then, it would be foolhardy for the State to accuse the Church of meddling or sleeping with the enemy. No such accusation can stick against the Cross and none will. After all, Jesus promised the church its teflon powers: the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

It is however a legal, mandatory and constitutional stricture imposed upon the State to be color blind when it comes to religion. No religious tests, preference, bias, discrimination should be allowed or even passively tolerated by the State in all things secular that involves the conduct of government. That is the clear import of Section 5 of the Bill of Rights:

"No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights."

The separation was meant to shield the state from the church, as the past history of the West has cruelly shown, and not to protect the church from the state. After all, the power of the church comes from somewhere divine, its soldiers ready to be martyred while the might of the state is dependent on the sufferance of the governed and its players do not necessarily put king and country first before their own vested interests.

Thus, whenever the government reminds the church to observe the wall, the church should in turn remind the government to mind its own business. The church is not a gathering of like-minded people, it is a haven for men of opposing persuasions and beliefs, it is a refuge for saints and sinners, a sanctuary for scoundrels and scums. The government may detest what some in the Church do now but if and when the tables are turned and the administration finds itself seeking sanctuary, the church will be more than willing to welcome them into her altar.

That is the universality of the Church. She extends her charity to all and offers malice towards none but with the supreme caveat to those who usurp and defy divine justice that God can change not only the hearts of men but kings and governments as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

St. Jude & Malacañang

I studied in St. Jude Catholic School, a school which is probably the most militarized academic institution in the whole Philippines, notwithstanding the fact that with the exception of the mandatory Citizen’s Army Training, not one single subject is devoted to military science.

On the other hand, St. Jude Catholic Church is the most visited church on a Thursday, next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baclaran on a Wednesady and the Quiapo Church on a Friday. It is named after and host to the novenas of St. Jude Thaddeus, a disciple of Jesus and reputedly the patron saint of hopeless cases. It is also the nearest church to Malacañang Palace.

St. Jude Catholic School or St. Jude was established by the Chinese priests of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) to escape persecution from Communist China. Primarily to cater to children of Chinese descent, it has expanded its reach and is reputedly one of the best secondary schools in the country today. It was here where I learned to understand and speak Mandarin and Hokkien, the dialect of most Tsinoys. The Chinese priests are gone but their progressive Filipino brother-priests continue to maintain the high academic standards.

Over the years, both the St. Jude school and church were silent participants to the power struggle of its neighbor, Malacañang Palace.

During the height of the pre-martial law rallies, St. Jude Catholic Church was an unwilling recipient of molotov cocktails, tear gas and other storm trooper paraphernalia. Its stained glass windows and jalousies were repeatedly destroyed. One thing nice though for an uncaring grade school student like me then was the announcement of no classes.

When martial law was declared, J. P. Laurel St. where both the church and the palace were neighborly situated became a ghost town. The first few days when school normalized, a constant sight to behold in the Malacañang grounds were tanks although I am not sure if there were Armored Personnel Carriers then.

Also, for the first time, jeepneys were no longer allowed to ply all the way to Gate 7 or to J. P. Laurel St. Wooden barricades were set up by President Marcos on several points, J. P. Laurel St. coming from Nagtahan, J. P. Laurel St. coming from Gen. Solana St., another one in San Rafael St. and the last one in Mendiola. To get to school, one either had to alight from these checkpoints if one was taking public transport or one had to secure a vehicle gate pass from the Presidential Security Group. My calf muscles grew strong through all those years of walking from the San Rafael checkpoint to school.

Inside our school, sentries were set up on the 6th floor of our school building. The sight of soldiers walking in two’s with their M-16s was a common sight for us. In fact, they were quite nice and there was never any instance of conduct unbecoming from these soldiers. They were part of the everyday fabric of a student in St. Jude. That is why it was the most militarized school in the country.

For that reason, when I stepped into college, I could not initially comprehend why my classmates were mad at the sight of soldiers until they started narrating all those horror stories of human rights abuses committed by soldiers and the Philippine Constabulary. I never saw one abusive soldier in high school. It was really a rude awakening.

When Cory took over, I was already in law school then but not much changed with respect to the perimeter defenses of Malacañang. Until this month.

My high school classmates informed me that in the Mendiola checkpoint, there are now double layered containers permanently placed. The containers have been previously placed there because of EDSA Tres but they have been doubled after the implementation of the Calibrated Preemptive Response of the present administration. There are more metal barbed wire barricades than the wooden ones I grew up with. More fatigued-uniformed soldiers ring the palace than during the Marcos' heydays.

Whereas before, one can walk the length and breadth of J. P. Laurel and see the inside of the Malacañang compound, flat galvanized sheets have covered up the entire fence within the compound. Barbed wires were likewise placed and the worst of all, pink structures like those in EDSA have likewise invaded J. P. Laurel St. The beauty and grandeur of the Malacañang compound gave way and is now Fortress Malacañang, a fortress of solitude. All the Spanish governor-generals who lived in the Palace and all the previous presidents and their women would have shuddered at the sight of an armory, pretending to be a palace. For a pictorial appreciation of Fortress Malacanang, Jove's blog is illustrative.

Marcos may have been an evil dictator but at the very least, he did not convert the Palace grounds into a dreadful garrison. The entire nation may be operating at a business-as-usual environment but all pretenses to normalcy stop at the steps leading to Malacañang Palace.

And now, they are desecrating a house of worship. They have infiltrated the novena goers to St. Jude Catholic Church on Thursdays making sure that no member of the opposition or civil society can attend the church in silent worship lest they turn a church service into a political assembly. But since St. Jude Thaddeus is the patron saint of hopeless cases, is it not valid to ask for his intercession considering that we live in hopeless times?

Times have really changed. Marcos or the PSG then never defiled St. Jude Catholic Church. Now, GMA, her minions and the PSG demand that SVD priests observe the wall of separation. I hope the SVD order, the recipient of the Peypoch Award, presently known as the Bukas Palad Award, will stand its ground and hold high the dazzling might of the Cross over the dull blade of the Sword.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

4 Way Test

The Rotary Club claims to promote high ethical standards in the professional lives of its members. They call it the Four Way Test, to wit:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Now, dear Rotarians who read this blog, do you think Rotarian Joc Joc Bolante deserves to be a Rotarian in your midst? Let me prick your consciences with some questions:

1. What is the TRUTH that Joc Joc Bolante is hiding?

2. Is his knowledge of the Fertilizer Funds not FAIR to all concerned if he discloses to the Senate whom he disbursed it to?

3. Will his disclosure not build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS among the Filipino people who have lost their trust in government?

4. Will not the truth be BENEFICIAL to all concerned if he discloses it?

If you think that he does not live up to the 4 Way Test, what do you intend to do about it?

But if you think he is living up to the 4 Way Test, how do you prove to the public that Joc Joc Bolante is worthy to be called a Rotarian and not a wealthy flight risk?

Are you part of the truth or living a lie? I would like to see an answer.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Tired? Pray!

In the comments section of my last article, an anonymous fellow wondered if I was a theocrat masquerading as an intellectual. In another comment, a fellow politely cursed me for creating a traffic snarl during the Black & White Mendiola Walk.

Well, Messrs. Anonymous, I am no theocrat even if I do believe in God and thank you for regarding me as an intellectual. Quite frankly, the thought never crossed my mind, only an observer with an avenue to pen.

Also, last Saturday, I had an interesting reunion with my Ateneo Law peer group. One of our barkada came home from Singapore and she was one of speakers in the Lingkod ng Panginoon National Leadership Training Conference.

Our group is a mixed bag of 6 men and women. One is the young and handsome president of a high-end European car company which I understand has bested Mercedes Benz and BMW in sales. Another one is the in-house legal head of the holding company of one of our nation’s taipans. Two are practicing lawyers and one holds a position in the Court of Appeals. The cause of our reunion who came from Singapore is a majority stockholder of CD Asia, the leading online provider of legal information in the country today.

In terms of religion, 3 of us belong to the Ligaya ng Panginoon Community, a Catholic lay group, one is a born again Christian, a member of Christ Commission Fellowship, and the two others while not affiliated are good and faithful Catholics.

While we were discussing the current political situation, most of them advanced the typical response that they are tired of all the politicking and all the rallies, they are asking who is the better alternative and that the opposition is unpalatable. Like Behn Cervantes, they are not going to march in step with Jamby, Imee, JV or Jinggoy.

Being lawyers, it was not hard to realize the illegitimacy of the president except for one of us whose mother was a campaign manager of GMA in the North. We agreed to disagree without being disagreeable. That’s what friends are for, warts and all.

Our other friend who was a born again Christian took a different tack. God ordained GMA to be head of this country and therefore, obeying God means we obey GMA. She even hazarded the proposition that we ought to obey the leaders ordained by God even if they be tyrants! She justified that EDSA 1 and 2 are manifestations of God’s will in action because we were able to overthrow the leaders. Since GMA survived last July 8, it was God’s will is that she be our ordained leader.

Well, that is the typical understanding of born again Christians of Romans 13. I, of course, disagreed and laid out my Catholic and biblical understanding of Romans 13 vis-à-vis Exodus. I was telling myself, this is déjà vu. Way back in my first year, second semester law school of school year 1985 – 1986, I had the same arguments, again, with a born again Christian. This was right after the CBCP issued their pastoral statement on the Marcos-rigged elections.

I responded that her understanding was disingenuous. It was an analysis made in hindsight. You don’t say it is God’s will only after looking at the results or at the speed by which a leader is overthrown. The process is still on-going. Too, just because the process is taking longer does not mean that God is frustrating the will of the people meaning to remove her. The jury is still out on that one. If at all, it only means that our president is not a dumb oaf as her predecessor was and has learned not to commit the same follies as the Arthritic One.

Obeying tyrants as a will of God is just way too left field to dignify even an answer. I always believed that my mere lawyer’s oath is sufficient to answer any ill justification for the existence of tyrants and the divine right of kings.

We dwelt on that argument for some time because it is difficult to reason with one who argues from authority, in this case, from God Himself, despite the slew of evidence of wrongdoing. I do not know if the born again community even acknowledged those evidences. I am unsettled by their argument because for them, the end justifies the means. It convinced me what I previously said whimsically that Bro. Eddie Villanueva has become an anomaly within the born again community and is developing a Catholic understanding of justice. Anyway, I have always been at odds with my born again friends politically and theologically. Still, friendship conquers all.

In the end, I wanted to tell my other friends that if you tire of the rallies, tire of the traffic, then your calling as thinking and praying Christians is not to remain indifferent but to pray to God and discern God’s will for our nation. Storm the gates of heaven and hasten the coming of the kingdom for our country, if that is the only contribution you can make for now. More things are wrought by prayer than this world ever dreamed of.

And if during the discernment process, one is moved by God to action, then by all means, respond to that grace and act on it. What we cannot be is to remain inert and allow evil to triumph. If the poor and the lowly are willing to die for their principles and their beliefs, how much more the educated and the enlightened among us? To much is given, much is required.

Let us not grow tired and weary. Instead of getting tired at all the rallies you see, all the traffic you are in, channel that apathy. Instead of getting angry and frustrated, say a little prayer to God for His will, for His peace and for His justice to prevail in our land.

In the end, it may be better to light a candle than to curse the rallies.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Letter To Modmon

My high school classmate who is just as concerned as I with the present political crisis asked me in our Yahoogroup why I joined the rally at Mendiola Bridge, and are not the rallies causing so much anxiety and traffic. Also, he asked who is going to handle the EVAT, the oil price increases, etc. with rallies abounding. I responded to my good friend and with some corrections, reproduced my answer here:

You know, it's funny you mentioned that. While we were at the Mendiola, other rallyists were just as concerned with the EVAT,the rising prices, etc. Leah Navarro had to answer some business calls right there at the foot of the Mendiola bridge, Gerry Kaimo's car was in the car shop and he was being asked whether to replace the engine bolt or something. Life goes on even in the midst of rallies. Everyday concerns do not stop while one marches and fights for truth and justice.

The usual complaints about rallies are it causes traffic and gives the impression that the country is unstable. You can look at it from that point of view.

But in thinking in that manner, we are covering up the fact that GMA who claims to possess the solution to our country is not, I belatedly realized, the lesser of two evils. Desune [our classmate] was far more advanced in his political outlook. For that, I am thankful to him. She is, in fact, far worse.

She is not the lesser of two evils because she prostituted our electoral process, appointed people who were easily corrupted,manipulated the process to fashion a false and hollow victory. In short, she violated our sacred right to vote and the electoral process. If my child was violated by criminals, will I not be enraged and demand justice? GMA raped our electoral process and violated our rights. Should we not likewise demand justice?

Granted that evil was done and she committed that evil, why do we still ask ourselves, what is the alternative? Isn't the answer obvious? Whether one likes it or not, Noli de Castro is our Vice-President and until such time that there is proof that he likewise cheated in the election, we have to follow the constitutional process. Noli's ascension may be unpalatable to many of us but Rome will not be destroyed with his ascendancy. At the very least, it will bring stability to the political equation. Unless of course, one prefers a military take-over which will likely happen with GMA's continued stay as their commander-in-chief. According to Newsbreak magazine, a military interviewee claimed that 70% of the military thinks she is an illegitimate president.

Our economy will move along with or without rallies because our country no longer relies on the manufacturing sector. It is practically dead or soon to be one. We thrive on the service industries and overseas remittances. The latter is our number one dollar generating industry. 8 billion dollars more or less. So, whether we rally or not, the rain will still fall on the just and the unjust.

But the point of the rallies is that these are the people who stand on the wall everyday making sure that the government will not further desecrate and diminish our civil and political rights. Our government is slowly boiling the water and we do not realize that we are being slowly suffocated. There is no limit to the government's imagination to perpetuate itself in power and limit our rights. Wait till you have the anti-terrorism law in place.

I am sorry to say that GMA is profoundly compromised. She is no longer fit to govern. And even as we discuss this, she is turning her back on FVR and JDV, her main patrons. And even as I write this, FVR is slowly withdrawing his support. Senator Gordon is right. What we have now is a transactional leadership where governance is decided on the basis of survival. Do you really think that she is in favor of the EVAT? Cong. Joey Salceda, her economic adviser, wants it deferred. Do you not think the president is not far behind in that thinking?

There will be no end to the rallies because there will be no end to her or the First Gentleman's illegal acts being discovered day in and day out. You have the electoral scandal in Lanao by Probe. Now, you will have Mark Jimenez, Nani Perez et al. A government that corrupts itself to maintain power cannot command the respect of the people. Even the man on the street can no longer savor her presence.

If we want the rallies to end, then we must make it plain to the president that her greatest legacy is to give up power. I came to this conclusion after the impeachment complaint was perfidiously dismissed by her henchmen in Congress. And that was no rule of law. Even the Jesuits say so. The impeachment trial would have been her saving grace. But I saw how she manipulated the entire procedure. Desune had always been right all along.

We should not be deceived into thinking that her acts are not a black and white affair. Actually, it is black and white but we do not think so only because we think she is not as malevolent as Marcos. And perhaps,that makes it even more insidious. To appear as a savior of our country when in truth, she, and not the rallies, will bring our country to ruin.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Eagles Have Landed

Finally, for the longest time, the Jesuits have been inordinately silent in the ongoing controversy. And as we say in law: “Silence means consent”. How glad that I was so wrong!

The Atenean lay community, of which I am a part of, was gravely concerned at the stingy silence of the sons of Iñigo. And so, without guidance from the Ignatian fathers, many graduates of Katipunan and Padre Faura have embarked on their own quest to seek for truth and justice in these present events. Until now.

The Jesuit Guidelines are finely worded, very pastoral in tone, as it should, and a product of much thought. While I honestly wondered why it took them so long to fashion this statement (perhaps, they should explain why only now), the Guidelines should stoke the middle class to ponder and move from an apathetic stance that the present crisis is a question of a lesser of two evils, GMA being the lesser, to a more categorical stance that an evil deed thwarting the people’s will has been committed and must be responded to accordingly. Evil must be confronted in all its forms, even if it be an Angel of Light.

To paraphrase the Jesuit guidelines, here is my layman’s take on a finely worded document which is composed of 9 paragraphs. I asked the Jesuits for their indulgence:

1. GMA has not answered the charges against her. She continues to befuddle and obfuscate. The search and struggle for truth must continue. ITULOY ANG LABAN! (Annotation: In the words of Sec. Ermita: "No one can prevent him from saying sorry, pero huli ka pa rin!")

2. To the pro-GMA congressmen who dismissed the impeachment complaint and to sycophants who believed that the rule of law triumphed in Congress, YOU DREAM!

3. E. O. 464 is illegal. The Senate must continue to be a watchdog. To the communists, the military, and ambitious politicians who seek power, LET’S NOT!

4. To the Gloria Resign movement, to the Black and White, to Cory, to Hyatt 10, to the Makati Business Club etc., you are doing the right thing but do not ally yourself with the Erap politicians, the Kampi conspirators, the Lakas lapdogs, or just about anybody who wants to grab power.

5. Dig deeper why we are always moving from one political crisis to another. Imperial Manila must listen to the cries of people who are apathetic as well as those from the countryside and address their problems.

6. People are apathetic because we live in hard times. Corruption and poverty are directly proportional to each other. The greater the corruption, the worse the poverty.

7. Government and the private sector must work hand-in-hand to address the basic needs of the people especially with the looming oil price increases.

8. To FVR, JDV, and GMA, amending the constitution, while it may have merit, is a diversionary tactic and serves to enhance your political ambitions and perpetuate yourselves in power. HINAY HINAY LANG, MGA POLITIKO.

9. Don’t forget the Martial Law years of struggle. Let us remain vigilant in the following ways:

a. Schools, religious organizations and communities must be centers of awareness and conscientization. We should discern and pray that the will of God will prevail.

b. Organize as many groups as possible to make aware to the great number of our people the roots, causes of the present crisis.

c. We should be critical and monitor the following: (1) whether the government programs are still effective; (2) the competence of the political appointees of the president; (3) the vengeful and retributive acts of the president against critical of her; (4) Pork barrel abuses by the legislators; (5) electoral reforms; (6) use of funds for the Mindanao peace agreement

d. A deeper study on the federalism and parliamentary form of government and other institutional reforms should be made by all concerned groups.

Whether one is satisfied with the distance of the Jesuit guidelines, my point is this: FINALLY, THE EAGLES HAVE LANDED.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fast Quips

Heard last Tuesday Congressman Raul I. Gonzales, Jr. in ANC’s Strictly Politics stating the reason the House dismissed the impeachment complaint: “the Senate has already prejudged the case, it is a kangaroo court” or words to that effect.

If the Senate is a kangaroo court, what then are Cong. Raul “Illogical” Gonzales, Jr. and the House? Joeys?


Executive Secretary Ermita on Sen. Jamby Madrigal’s police escort apologizing for dropping his Glock: “No one can prevent him from saying sorry, pero huli ka pa rin!”

Now, who was he exactly referring to? Jamby or GMA? Sounded just as appropriate to GMA’s “I am sorry spiel” Huli ka pa rin!

Black & White Movement- First Breach

Black & White Movement

Contact: Vicente Romano III
Cell. No.09209615610


THE members of Black & White Movement, together with the Hyatt 10 and other concerned citizens, today exercised their freedom of conscience and their right to peaceably assemble, and pray for the good of our country.

We gathered together to demonstrate that Malacanang is not the enclave of a particular administration, but instead, belongs to the people. We gathered together because any and all like-minded groups have a Constitutionally-protected right to express themselves, and invoke the Almighty for His divine protection of their cause.

Without a rally permit, the Black & White Movement challenged and overcame the CPR policy of GMA by crossing Mendiola, stopping at the Chino Roces monument for a flower-laying ceremony before proceeding to the San Beda chapel to seek divine intervention from our current political crisis.

It was clearly a moral victory for a precedent-setting active, non-violent form of protest. Henceforth, all other groups planning to organize peaceful assemblies or passage through Mendiola can claim the rule of precedence to challenge the phalanx of anti-riot forces preventing them from exercising their freedom of expression and assembly.

We continue to pray, as the entire country prays, for a peaceful resolution of the crisis of legitimacy afflicting our country. We continue to hope that the President will find enlightenment and make the supreme sacrifice for the nation. But even as we hope and pray, we shall continue to mobilize to demonstrate that concrete action is called for, so long as the will of the people is ignored, and their attempts to manifest their collective voices are thwarted.

We must be the change we wish to see - Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Death Knell

The Supreme Court victory of this government in the Expanded Value Added Tax case will ironically signal the beginning of the end of this administration.

From hereon, rallies will no longer center solely around the legitimacy of the Arroyo government, rallies and welgang bayan will be repeatedly held centering around economic hardships, the EVAT and her legitimacy, of course. The victory in the Supreme Court could not have come at a better time for this government.

And that is why Cong. Joey Salceda is moving heaven and earth to suspend the implementation of the EVAT. And that is why Sec. Raul Gonzales has already prepared an Executive Order declaring a state of national emergency to take over businesses. And that is why, Secretary Ermita is heightening the tension by implementing the calibrated preemptive response to show how unruly the rallyists are.

And that is why, on the day the Supreme Court ruled that the EVAT is legal, Norberto Gonzales innocuously agreed to take a leave of absence from the National Security Agency. Having laid the groundwork for a possible declaration of martial law and/or emergency take over, he can now lie low and follow the footsteps of Garci and Bolante.

Or, maybe but highly unlikely, the Supreme Court just awarded a pyrrhic victory to GMA in the belief that while she is around, their court cases will remain super full with all and sundry filing petitions for certiorari left and right questioning the constitutionality of this and that law and this and that act of hers. As a result, they will have a Scroogey Christmas. She must go if they want to have a lighter case load. And the EVAT case is just the gift to do it.

Right. I wish!

The Shepherds Part II

I have been very vocal about the indifference of bishops.

Right after the junking of the impeachment complaint, the bishops remained inert. However, apparently, some bishops could not remain idly by while the whole country was going down the drain. Some of them could no longer stay in the sidelines while the Left and the born again community claimed the moral upper hand in the struggle for truth and justice.

EDSA 1 and 2 have by and large unleashed the potentials of the bishops as a power bloc. More so, with Cardinal Sin as their de facto leader. But in his absence, the void has largely remained unfilled.

Cardinal Vidal does not have the same charisma. Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales is timid and introspective, Bishop Bacani was stained with a sexual harassment scandal, Bishop Yalung, a compromed prelate exiled to Rome, Bishop Soc Villegas, still a young ‘un, Bishop Fortich, gone but not forgotten, Bishop Cruz, too preoccupied confronting the jueteng lords. We thought none of the bishops would answer the call to lead the flock.

Little did we know that Bishops Yñiguez, Tobias, and Labayen would lift high the banners and sound the clarion call. But even before CPR, they were already among some of the known bishops who called for GMA’s resignation. Yet, when the pastoral statement came out, they towed the party line and submitted to the authority of their brother bishops.

But maybe, they have seen enough, they will not wait for hindsight to act before it is too late, they have heard the cry of their people that compelled them to break away from the status quo. If EDSA unleashed the bishops as a power bloc, CPR unleashed in Bishops Yñiguez et al the potentials as singular power cells to lead the sheep, not to slaughter but to light the darkness.

There is no turning back for the bishops and for this administration. The bishops friendly to GMA and her administration cannot remain loyal to her while she continues to exercise a malevolent conduct towards those who are disagreeable. And now that some of their confreres have become unwilling martyrs of the water cannon, their fealty to her remains all the more untenable. The government accuses the 3 bishops as hypocrites but it is the bishops who side with her that will surface as the true hypocrites if they continue to maintain their deafening silence.

The transformation from a pro-GMA to an anti-GMA bishop is not hard to fathom. All those who seek to search the truth have been waylaid. All those who have an iota of truth to reveal have been repatriated beyond our shores. All those who question her authority have been harassed. In the face of all these underhanded tactics and in the light of the truth of the gospels, how can a bishop, successor to the apostles, remain indifferent to the ongoing perfidy and remain a loyal hound of God? There can only be one answer and it cannot be rationalized in any way, shape or argument.

Let us pray for our bishops for their enlightenment. And too, let us teach our bishops a thing or two about renouncing evil and all its ways. That should have come naturally to them as second skin. But then again, they may have been too invested in their offices and alliances that they failed to see dazzlingly, in the words of John Paul II, the Splendor of Truth.

Let us do so before we all lose faith in them and the Church.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Role of Media

ANC has brought the rallies to the living room. Watching all the ANC footages, one sees the many montage of policemen dispersing the rallyists. You see them pulling and dragging the rallyists by force, grabbing their shirts, hitting them with truncheons. These are live shots with camera men right there where the violence is occurring.

And so, we ask: What is the role of media? Is its sole role to bring the news to our salas?

In the face of endless violence that happen in front of the cameras, should the camera person continue shooting the scenes and watch haplessly while a human person is being dragged against his will or while being beaten to the pulp? Does the media person have the obligation to stop and help the poor fellow and tell the law enforcement officials to stand down?

This has been the classic dilemma of media. Are they passive observers to an event or can they shape and influence events as they are happening?

I do not know if there is ever going to be a solution to this endless debate about the role of media. I do not even know what hierarchy of values a media person has to wrestle with in the very face of the events.

Maybe, we should ask our media-bloggers and shed light on the role of media in the light of violence and fluvial “cannonization” ceremonies. I am sure there is no dearth of opinion on this matter. But we still await for some enlightenment.


With the boxing euphoria still unabated and extended with another victory by the younger Pacquiao, our country has truly established itself as the pugilistic capital of the world, outranking even Cuba!

For boxing aficionados comes even better news, Rocky VI is going to be made and Sylvester Stallone is going to reprise his role as Rocky Balboa. Amen!

And I am going to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee to the tune of Bill Conti’s Gonna Fly Now. I am going to run up the stairs in the Halls of Justice of Manila, Quezon City, Pasay City and Makati with that song in mind. And when I am chasing my paper work, I will think of myself chasing chickens in the field. And when I join the rallies, I will remind myself that I am running through the streets of Philadelphia cheered on by the crowd. Rocky! Rocky!

After all these years, I am still smitten over Rocky because it is a story of human perseverance and the triumph of grit inspite of defeat. With grim determination, a person can rise above squalor and achieve his dream against all odds. No one leaves Rocky feeling a little better, a little encouraged, and a little teary-eyed especially when Rocky calls out Adrian’s name in the ring. A little part in each of us identifies with the struggles and dedication of Rocky.

Someone should play “Gonna Fly Now” or Vangelis’ score for Chariots of Fire while confronting the intolerant policemen. After all, "music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." So says William Congreve the playwright. If beasts, rocks and trees can be moved by music, no reason why a mortal’s fury cannot be squelched.

In the meanwhile, I will watch Rocky one more time in order to draw inspiration and to steel my nerves in facing, in the words of Dean Jorge Bocobo, the gathering darkness.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Let's Test CPR

I was thinking of a way to judicially test CPR. Here is the scenario:

1. Apply for a rally permit to rally in Mendiola. Mayor Atienza will not issue the permit;

2. Rally nonetheless;

3. On that day, police will be there to block and disperse the rally;

4. But two hours or so before the rally, file a petition for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court enjoining the police from blocking the rally and dispering the rallyists. At the same time, question the constitutionality of B. P. Blg. 880 or The Public Assembly Act of 1985;

5. If CA/SC grants TRO. If they obey, rally goes on. But most likely, police will disobey;

6. Cite Generals Bulaong, Querol and Lomibao for contempt;

7. CA/SC will hear the case.

The legal basis for B. P. Blg. 880 was the precedent setting case of “Reyes versus Bagatsing” (125 SCRA 552) dealing with freedom of expression vis-à-vis the clear and present danger test. This case was subsequently invoked in “Pita v. Court of Appeals, Bagatsing et al.” And in that case, the Supreme Court quoted Reyes and stated that:

“the burden to show the existence of grave and imminent danger that would justify adverse action ... lies on the. . . authorities."

"There must be objective and convincing, not subjective or conjectural, proof of the existence of such clear and present danger."

"It is essential for the validity of ... previous restraint or censorship that the ... authority does not rely solely on his own appraisal of what the public welfare, peace or safety may require."

"To justify such a limitation, there must be proof of such weight and sufficiency to satisfy the clear and present danger test."

None of the rallies conducted so far in Mendiola even come close to posing a danger clear and present to this government. Unfortunately, the police, Mayor Atienza and the present administration have adopted a Gestapo attitude. The mayor even raised the specter of the Mendiola Massacre as fallacious basis to deny the rallies. But as pointed out by the Supreme Court, the fear of ghosts is no reason to deny freedom of expression.

It is only through filing a case can the judiciary and the Supreme Court, the last line of defense of our civil, political and constitutional rights, rightfully enter the fray and put a stop to this present lunacy. Other cases have been filed to thwart B. P. Blg. 880. That is good. For once, I can safely say that we lawyers are not such a bad bunch after all.

Let us hope that before he retires, Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. will gift our country with his wisdom and broad strokes in defense of the people’s right for redress of grievances.

To paraphrase Princess Leia: “Help us Obi Wan Davide, you’re our only hope”.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

First Call

While preparing for my work next week which involved a number of pro-bono cases, it just hit me: Why not set up a legal aid over the internet?

I thought about it and decided to give it a try. So, I put up a new blawg. It is called SAKLAWLAW. I will try to field all legal questions. Those I cannot or have been touched upon by Prof. Punzi, I will refer to his lecture series. To avoid duplication with Punzi, this blog will be entirely reactive, i.e., no topic will be written unless a question is asked.

Legal aid has been done in person, in print, in TV, in radio. Now, with the rise of blogging, it can be done over the internet.

So, if any of you or your friends have any questions, please feel free to ask. My way of paying back to society or at least to that segment that knows how to blog.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Let's Have Snap Elections

Just caught the tail end of the ANC news report where the president proclaimed to the citizens of Dumaguete City that she won the presidential elections fair and square.

Ok, so why don't we throw down the gauntlet? Snap elections.

Let's have snap elections & we will forget Garci.
Let's have snap elections & we will forego impeaching her.
Let's have snap elections & we will go for Charter change.
Let's have snap elections & we will release Bert Gonzales.
Let's have snap elections & we will stop the rallies.
Let's have snap elections & we will go for the North Rail.
Let's have snap elections & we will hail Mike & Mikey .
Let's have snap elections & we will stop the jueteng queries.
Let's have snap elections & we will stop all talk of martial law.
Let's have snap elections & we will accept her "I am sorry" spiel.

If GMA won fair and square in the last elections, it will be a cinch for her winning the snap elections.

And no talk of following the constitutional process as a way of saying no, it is observed in the breach anyway. Moreover, talk is cheap!

So, anybody from Rational Sphere or the government daring enough to pick up the gauntlet?

Is To Be Forearmed

The zero sum game is winding down. The Palace is tired of the stalemate with the Senate, fed up with the mosquito rallyists, sick to the bones with the public complaining of high gas prices. Malacañang is setting the stage for the imposition of martial law and the arbitrary exercise of emergency take-over powers. According to the Inquirer, trial balloons have been released to gauge public reaction or the lack thereof.

In anticipation of a declaration, the Senate will reconvene on October 24, much earlier than the scheduled November 4 session. The Palace is on the offense, the Senate is on the defense, the Supreme Court is prohibited by tradition from being pro-active. As an ordinary citizen, what must we do?

First, call up your congressman and register your opposition to the planned imposition of the martial law. Their phone numbers can be found at www.congress.gov.ph.

Second, start buying. The law of supply and demand will not be abrogated and will continue to hold true in spite of martial law. So, while supply lasts, buy. While demand is low, buy! But don’t be a fool, buy the basic goods and necessities. And if you are a pre-paid cell phone user, buy lots of pre-paid cards before prices become prohibitive rendering your cell phone useless.

Third, if you are a lawyer or have a friend who is one, start drafting a petition to question the sufficiency of the factual basis for declaring martial law. The Supreme Court has only 30 days to decide the case. Who knows? You may yet beat Ernesto Francisco, Jr., the fastest case filer, to the draw and end up with your name forever codified in Supreme Court jurisprudence.

Fourth, martial law will mean no classes, at least for a certain period. And you will be harangued not by soldiers but by your kids who will keep on yakking about nothing else to do. So, buy DVD's from your favorite Muslim retailer to while the children away.

Fifth, start buying bicycles and start losing weight. With martial law, cars will be fewer in the streets. Bikes will have more freedom to ply. Sa ika-uunlad ng bayan, bisikleta ang kailangan at liliit ang inyong baywang. That goes for Ariel Ureta and for all of us.

Sixth, if you are in the "wish ko lang i-arrest" list of Secretaries Raul and Norberto Gonzales, make sure you pack a brand new toothbrush, and according to my favorite and soon-to-be-arrested political commentator, Manuel Quezon III, lots and lots of toilet paper rolls.

Certainly, all these and other preparations will be for naught if martial law is not declared. But when did it ever hurt someone to be "laging handa"?

Jesting aside, martial law is no low brow fear. Eternal vigilance is the price we are now paying for compliant congressmen and insufferable fools in the Executive branch. So, let it not be said that you were not forewarned.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Strong Republic?

The Arroyo government and their subalterns must be on a death wish.

Despite the negative reaction to the calibrated preemptive response, it continues to implement the steeled policy against the Mendiola rallyists. First, the policemen pushed the rallyists back, when the rallyists pushed back, they used shields to repel them, when the rallyists resisted, the policemen trunchoned them, and when truncheons did not work, they used water cannons.

If anything, the water cannons are the vestigial symbol of martial law oppression. If martial law has not been declared yet, we are in its throes.

Then, you have Bayani Fernando’s sycophants, the MMDA storm troopers, who cleared out families of soldiers squatting on lands adjacent to C-5. One tactless MMDA fool, a certain Mr. Esquivel, crowed the purpose of removing these human rejects was to beautify C-5, sounding so much like Imelda Marcos who beautified and walled up the entire slum area lining up the entire stretch of Quirino Avenue so foreign dignitaries passing through will not see the blight that is Manila.

Then, you have the president herself squarely blaming the senators for any future terrorist blow-up that will spring with Bert Gonzales, the pseudo-sick National Security Adviser, in custody. Talk about winning friends and influencing people. More like using vinegar to attract bees.

Whatever allies she has are allies that will not stand with her till the end. They are beneficiaries of government largesse and when the well runs dry, she will find herself running on empty and with no one.

In all fronts, the more beleaguered the president, the tougher she acts. She has practically lost all options to dialogue with her foes because her enemies have adopted a “take-no-prisoner” stance. And as a result, she is mirroring Ferdinand Marcos more and more in countenance, if not in iron-fist conduct.

The vision of a Strong Republic is finally taking shape.

The Volcano

Maybe his outburst was spontaneous but Major General Emmanuel Teodosio’s unscripted outrage was very telling in that it is the first time that a high ranking military official vented in public his exasperation at the current political situation. He berates the administration and the opposition of engaging in a tug-of-war that is jeopardizing his promotion and bewails the neglect for the heroes of the republic. “This is no way to treat the heroes of the republic”, so he complained.

His remarks were so uncommon but so forthright that it demands a second look on whether his remarks were plain frustration or a veiled threat to the constituted government.

His statement seemed to confirm the nagging feeling that the military is not all too happy with the president and with the way they are being muzzled by E. O. 464.  Senator Biazon mentioned certain men in uniform willing to come forward and testify to the electoral fraud they witnessed during the last elections.  Then, you have Col. Buenaventura Pascual, AFP spokesperson, treading half-heartedly on the Gudani case unlike his announcement on the prosecution of General Garcia.  

Now, you have Major Gen. Teodosio bellowing his righteous frustration on the government like a political commentator.  It seems the left is not the only entity taunting this government, the military is just as agitated, wanting to test the mettle of the president’s iron fist directive on the men-at-arms.  One wonders whether Gen. Teodosio will also be court-martialed for giving interviews in violation of E. O. 464.  After all, he did not exactly cast the administration in a good light.  This is really getting curiouser.

This latest military tirade appears to be a Calibrated Pressure to Remind the president that if all is not well within the military, all will not be well with her tenure.  Unless the president cleans house and remedy Teodosio’s complaint, she will likely be evicted by Kuya.

With all the happenings after the Gudani episode, one can safely assume that the despite protestations to the contrary, the military is no longer one big leviathan at the beck and call of the president. Their loyalties lie elsewhere.  Even the commanders call upon their soldiers to obey not the president per se but a concept, “chain of command”, making certain not to utter the president by name,   lest they huff and they puff till they blow the house down.

Last time I check, the scientific reason a volcano erupts is to alleviate pressure from within.  Does it take a volcanologist to draw a parallel with the military?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


With the Aragoncillo case hugging the limelight, the National Bureau of Investigation (nbi.gov.ph) is once again being hounded by the news media. I do not understand why that is.

First of all, they never had a hand in conducting surveillance on Leandro Aragoncillo, the former U. S. Marine who filched confidential documents from the FBI and the White House.

But if I recall, the NBI also never had a hand in conducting surveillance on Garcillano, whose conversations with the president were surreptitiously recorded. In fact, the NBI's best efforts were to obfuscate the obvious and display the sartorial elegance of NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco. Beyond that, their work was in tatters.

Second of all, they never had a hand in apprehending Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino. It was totally an FBI effort. Yet, here in the Philippines, when Mr. Wycoco mouthed the FBI exploits, one got the distinct feeling that the apprehension was made in close coordination with the NBI considering the two fugitives were Filipinos.

But if I recall, the NBI neither had the desire nor the intelligence to apprehend the most famous local face in recent memory, Mr. Hello Garci. He, whose face has been plastered all over the country, in print and in broadcast media and whose voice has been etched in audio history as the most subservient lapdog of a supposed constitutionally independent body, even that the NBI could not find. And yet, they can find the least known fugitive. Call that sloppy work, misdirected priority, or no intelligence. In all respects with the Garci case, NBI appears to be a bunch of amateurs.

I will not be surprised that Wycoco did not even bother to send out a team to locate Mr. Garcillano. For someone who is conscious of his legacy, Mr. Wycoco is so myopic that he would rather please the present powers than set his sights on becoming the J. Edgar Hoover of this country or the Man who caught Hello Garci.

Third of all, the FBI detection, surveillance and arrest were swift and methodical. It leaves little room for doubt on the professionalism of the people working for the FBI.

And if I may further bemuse myself, the NBI is still in the process of securing an exemption on E. O. 464 to start looking for Garcillano. Meanwhile, that maleficent fellow has been shanghaied to some Latin American country enjoying the sun and the Atlantic Ocean.

It must pain the good men and women of the NBI not to have taken a crack in locating Garci. For long-time professionals of the organization and not mere appointees, hounding and apprehending Garci would have been feathers in their caps. But, alas! They stood down. They are as compromised as compromised is under their present director. The Garci case is probably in the dung heap of the X Files.

Now, their task has a burden added. The former Agriculture Undersecretary, Jocelyn Bolante appears to have followed the footsteps of Garci. He stands accused in the court of public opinion as the man who diverted fertilizer funds during the last presidential elections in favor of pro-GMA politicians. Lest they search for the wrong gender, that fellow Bolante is a man, despite his name. To date, no action has been taken. Like Garci, Bolante is close to the powers and there is,therefore, no pressing need to search for him.

In their website, NBI's motto is nobility, bravery and integrity. But given its glaring ineptness in mishandling Garci, NBI should properly be called National Big-time Incompetents.

That name will stand until GMA's term is over or Garci is caught, whichever comes first.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Shepherds

The Sinag movement is a breath of fresh air within the Church. They do not carry any political baggage. They just called spade a spade.

It is very disconcerting that the bishops could not have been more forthright in their initial and subsequent declarations. The issue that confronted them was quite simple enough: “Did the president commit immoral acts in the last presidential elections?”

Unlike lawyers, bishops are not bound by the rigid strictures of evidence. What were merely needed were a decent modicum of intelligence, a sense of justice, an ear devoid of intrigue, and an eye in search of truth. Surprisingly, in their declarations, the bishops waxed rhetoric, refused to walk the extra mile, and stopped short of condemning an obvious moral wrong.

In direct, though not admittedly, affront to the bishops, these priests, nuns, and brothers, who banded together with their fellow Protestant laborers in the field, have, after a contemplative process or in the mellifluous Tagalog word “pagninilay-nilay”, came out with a pastoral statement urging the president to cut and cut cleanly. One is constrained to ask: “Who is the real shepherd?”

This question is asked not because of preference. It is asked based on the actions and the judgment call of the so-called shepherds of the flock. If the bishops, the successors of apostles through the ages, cannot bring themselves to cleanse the temple or refuse to delve into the hardness of hearts of our leaders, what consolation can we gain from their sermons from the altar?

Couched in Christian jargon, their statements evidently fell on deaf ears but despite that, they have adamantly maintained the same inutile stance. Where is the power in their spoken word? Where is their righteous anger?

On the other hand, we see the priests and nuns, foot soldiers of Christ’s Army armed with the breastplate of righteousness, pondering the same dilemma in their hearts. Yet, they are able to divine evil and call upon the people of God to respond in righteous indignation.

Have the bishops forgotten their pastoral role? Their role is not to weigh the political consequences of their statements. Their role is to be voices in the wilderness, unafraid like their Master to accuse Pharisees and Scribes broods of vipers. Their role is not to call for appeasement especially when their subject claims to have a direct line to God.

Their role is to draw the line in the sand, to speak out as Moses did against Pharaoh, to confront the powers-that-be that leaders who have abandoned pretensions to moral fitness have no right to claim the helm of leadership. The bishops of Poland never requested the Communist government to form a truth commission when a priest was murdered. They countered evil with cries of justice from the pulpit. SOLIDARNOSC. Solidarity with the people. That is what it should be all about.

No longer can the sufferance of the governed be invoked to justify continued rule when their will have been subverted, when the entire machinery of government was employed to hollow out a victory, when the military chain of command in the South was manipulated to engineer a defeat against Mr. Poe, not the teletubby, but her favored foe.

All these, the bishops chose not to judge perhaps because they prefer the forest to the trees. But from their twin ivory towers of power and apathy, how can they see the ground cover being slowly decimated by maggots of corruption and the seeds of freedom being suffocated to death by the stench of oppression?

It is good that the church has no E. O. 464 to stifle freedom. The priests and nuns who have nothing to lose but their celibate lives have once again taken up the cudgels, hammers and tongs, to move the indifferent, the compromised, the apathetic among us. That the question to be posed is not: “What is the alternative?” but “Did she cheat, lie and steal?” And if the answer is yes, there is no reason to remain indifferent, compromised or apathetic.

It is reassuring that there are good shepherds still among us, and as the storm clouds gather and as we near the valley of the shadow of death, we shall fear no evil for our priests and nuns are with us, their rods and their staffs, they comfort us.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ala Eh!

While wandering through the National Book store at the Shangrila Mall, I browsed through the Filipiniana section (more like one bookstand) chancing upon a 1991 book on the Philippine-American War entitled “Battle For Batangas” by Professor Glenn Anthony May.

Published by Yale University Press in 1991 and reprinted with permission by New Day Publishers, the book is a detailed narrative on the last general, Miguel Malvar, the controversy on the Filipino military hierarchy, the hubris of American generals, and how Batangas, the last province to capitulate proved to be a nuisance to American might.

The Batangueño protagonists are all too familiar to students of contemporary history. One reads the surnames of the Laurels, Diocnos, Arguelleses, Luzes, Agoncillos, Catigbacs etc. From a provincial upheaval, these names have transcended Batanga politics and over time, prominently figured nationally at one point or another. And then you wonder whether the saying “all politics is local” is true.

It was written from an American perspective but with a sympathetic appraisal of the Batangueños, specifically, General Malvar’s heroic and spirited efforts to sustain the rebellion or the “insurrection” to the Americans. Added to it are nostalgic reminiscences of the “insurrectos” describing their poor marksmanship, and how their guerilla or rather, mosquito warfare meagerly affected the steeled veterans of the American Civil War. In one account, the Batanguenos were told to keep on fighting, no matter how inferior their forces were, in the hopelessly misguided belief that the Americans will tire of fighting and just leave the islands for good.

Actually, they did. More than 80 years later!

At the same time, and what is most daring in Prof. May’s study is that he posited the conclusion that the Philippine American War was the initiative of the “haves” or the “elites” of Philippine society, boldly debunking the historical analysis posited by Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino that the Philippine American War was a continuation of the revolt of the masses. His thesis is not without historical support, citing and quoting from historical letters and documents. Finishing the book, it was an afternoon read spent worthwhile.

With such a proud history, whatever happened to Batangas today? Its band of nationalists are long gone and instead, you have a Batangueno former cabinet secretary accused of receiving a 2 million dollar bribe, a governor accused of being a jueteng lord and Rectos who are not Claro. The only saving grace is the Star for all Seasons, Ms. Vilma Santos, who is mayor of Lipa City and she is not even a native of the province. Ala eh! How roll the fortunes of history.

Still, I wonder if any of our contemporary historians rose to challenge Prof. May's findings.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Where is the next Cardinal Sin?

One will not find the next Cardinal Sin in the Catholic Church. The present crop of bishops are so daunted by Jaime Sin’s larger than life presence that they will not even begin to take the first step to follow in his footsteps.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is so fractured that while they invoked the general principles of morality, truth and justice, they offer no uniform proposal in confronting this present darkness.

One would think that the solution is so evident in Scriptures that applying it would be a simple matter of confronting evil with good. But instead of the voice calling out in the desert, they rationalized and politicized, they hemmed and they hawed until their appeal for truth and caution meant nothing but capitulation and collaboration. Too much jueteng and blood money on their hands.

One will not find the next Cardinal Sin in the born again community. While they may have a presence, their theology is medievally conservative. Their reliance on Romans 13:1 - “The powers that be are ordained of God” give them pause to question civil authority. They are more at home being allies than foes of government. Truth to tell and in the words of Agent Smith, Bro. Eddie is an anomaly. He is becoming Catholic in his political approach and outlook.

One will not find the next Cardinal Sin in the politicians. They are too invested they will hesitate to walk away from power. Even Juan Ponce Enrile who is in his 80’s still clings to it. Younger ones will not speak lest they prejudice their presidential ambitions. The only one who walked away from it all and the closest to approximate Cincinnatus was Rene Saguisag.

So, where will the next Cardinal Sin come from?

He will come from a tradition that believes in civilian supremacy at all times. He believes that the constituted civilian authority’s purpose for existence is to serve the public good and not for any one man’s gain. He believes in an Honor Code that he has learned from his student days and one that shapes his profession on a daily basis.

But he is also one who has seen the abusive exercise of civilian supremacy. He is also one who has witnessed and heard not so infrequently the excesses of corruption and the subversion of the public good to private aggrandizement. He is also one who has been exposed to abject poverty in his line of work while the center of power remains callous to their plight. He is one who has killed for the State because his duty commands him to do so.

Above all, he is a man of God bothered by his conscience, seeing all of the above and grieves that his brethrens-in-arms are sacrificed and persecuted before the altar of political expediency. He has grown weary from it all. He will reach his tipping point when he can no longer reconcile Romans 13 with Yahweh’s command to Pharoah: “Let my people go.

Cardinal Sin appropriated the cry of Moses as his own. So, will the next one. Where there is grave injustice, Cardinal Sin or his shadow will not be far behind.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Raising The Bar

I am a relatively young member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP"). Membership in the IBP is conferred automatically upon one who passes the bar. Having passed the bar after the Marcos years, my exposure to the association is mostly gentle reminders of our annual dues and the annual election of chapter officers.

Either out of apathy or ignorance, I never bothered with the goings-on at the IBP. Despite being an aggrupation of lawyers, controversy is not second skin although it had on several occasions attracted negative publicity though not in the magnitude of a scandal. Shakespeare notwithstanding, we, lawyers, are an agreeable lot.

The IBP has suffered some embarrassments before the Supreme Court. What greater slap was there than for the Supreme Court, in the case of Francisco v. House of Representatives, et al., to rebuke the IBP that it had no legal standing to participate in the case. Its allegation of the duty to preserve the law was far too generic to merit the right to be heard.

But today, I felt proud. Our president, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, who I do not know from Adam, announced that he, with the IBP at his back, will take up the cudgels to protect our civil and political rights. Tomorrow, he will march with the protesters and bloody his hands, as it were.

He will face the police behemoth. He will demand from the police the right to assemble peacefully and air their grievances. He will be there to be pushed back and be shoved aside. Not a known personality, he will be truncheoned by unidentified cops who will refuse to wear their name tags in contravention of B. P. Blg. 880. He will demand their names be revealed. He will demand that cops respect the rights enshrined in the constitution. It may well all be in vain but it will be worth it.

And like any rallyist, he may be bloodied but he will be unbowed.

It is time for the IBP to rise in the forefront of the fight against the encroachment of the basic constitutional right to air disagreeable views. The fight for truth and justice should not be limited to some left-leaning group. It should be the vocation of IBP. And Atty. Cadiz has just raised the bar of involvement among the members of the bar.

I may not know our IBP president but by tomorrow, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz shall have earned my respect.

Watching ANC Yesterday

Watching ANC is no longer watching plain news. Yesterday's features were hilarious, naturally serious and extremely poignant. If there is any reason why one should drop Destiny Cable, ANC would be it.

For starters:

Watching Ka Iggy Bunye demanding the release of Ka Bert before dialogue can start with the “imperyalistang Senado” reminded me of the CPP-NPA demanding the release of political prisoners, as a sign of good faith, before the start of peace talks.

But this was not a negotiation between the National Democratic Front and the government. It was more like a konfrontasi between the Joma and the reformist factions of CPP. Ka Iggy was a portrait of serious mien (not even smiling one bit, as his usual decorum) demanding a precondition before sitting down with Ka Frank and his gaggle of gumbahs.

What were lacking in Ka Iggy’s countenance were a green Mao cap and an El Shaddai handkerchief covering his mouth while he spoke. That would have given his appearance some gravitas. Instead, his picture was taken with a below-eye level angle superciliously begging, in the guise of a demand, for the Senate to capitulate even before the first shot is fired.

Someone should reprimand Ka Reli German or Kaka Lupita Kashiwahara for allowing Ka Iggy to be taken with a below eye level shot. It showed him weak and betrayed his tentative demand. I got that from my professor, the future National Artist, Doy del Mundo.

During lunch time, my food turned more delectable when I chanced upon Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago making an arse of herself. Not only was she a picture of amusing incoherent babble, I saw the serious male host, Ricky Carandang, broke out in laughter, not once, not twice but many times over. For making Ricky Carandang laughed, Sen. Santiago deserves the Metro Manila Film Fest Award for Best Comedian. Unfortunately, Lolit Solis belongs to another channel and could not personally rig the votes.

Incidentally, on the same show, Miriam played it fast and loose with the Latin term “res gestae”. Somebody should put her to task for making the entire Filipino community and Pinky Webb believed that what she heard from another person who heard it from another person who heard it from another person ad infinitum is admissible evidence. Yes, it is admissible in the garbage. By the way, is that what the law school in Diliman is teaching its students nowadays? Just asking.

On Miriam still, this lady who kept eating death threats for breakfast since she became a government factotum must have that as reason for her mouth and jaw being seemingly misaligned. Maybe, that also explains her sui generis Ilongchigan (Ilonggo & Michigan) accent. To remedy that, I shamelessly recommend my brother-in-law who is only one of 5 or 6 U. S. trained prosthodontists in the country today. She may yet recover her jaw dropping beauty.

Now, if only Ricky Reyes can fix her hair….

Ms. Korina Sanchez is getting better and better with her ANC show. She has already conquered the masses with her AM radio and free channel TV shows. Now, her ISYU show is convincing the elite and the intellectual class that she is no piffle.

Proof positive are the important guests from the government and the opposition who will not hesitate to guest and air their views on her show, knowing that her show is on primetime and people watched it avidly.

But the best proof that she has struck a raw nerve in the Palace was when she was not invited to interview the president after the latter’s arrival from a successful stint in the United Nations. She, who has walked with the president all the way from her first day as president up till after her “I am sorry” spiel, now finds the Palace doors closed to her.

Instead, the Palace preferred an old hand who proclaimed nothing but paeans to the president. What a waste. One of those few times that ANC made a big mistake.

Anyway, there is always hope for the flowers.

Finally, on Strictly Politics, the most poignant moment of that show was the final segment where the PMA song was played. The montage on the PMA and the graduates were something we have seen in previous years.

But the one noble moment on that show was when the 3 guests, Sen. Biazon, Atty. Mariano Santiago and Mr. Robert Lee, all graduates of PMA, together with Pia Hontiveros, stood at attention while the song was playing. It was a moving and humbling moment.

The song and the honor it got from the 3 guests somehow reminded me of a time gone by where idealism flew high, where truth was a noble pursuit, where love of country was a virtue, and where cheating, lying and stealing were vices to be avoided, not justifying circumstances to hold on to.

That cannot be strictly politics. It has to be the way of life for all Filipinos.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mexican Standoff

So, the President has grown weary of the incessant Senate posturings on the alleged shenanigans of the Executive Branch. She has adamantly maintained her stance despite pleas to break bread while the Senate has threatened to go to the Supreme Court to break the impasse.

While there is no need to belabor the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 464, its presumptive validity stands and until Davide and company rule against it, the two branches of government are locked in a Mexican standoff.

So, guess who will prevail in this epic locking of horns?

There is much going against the Senate. Unlike the Senate, the Executive Branch is a monolithic giant and the Cabinet members are, until the Hyatt 10 fiasco, loyal alter egos of the president. Generally, they are competent and intellectually prepared to tackle the business of government. Their interests are that of the president’s, their preferences subsumed to hers, they have no will but hers. In short, they serve at the pleasure, whim, and caprice of the president.

Unlike the Cabinet, the Senate is made up of parts which are smaller than the whole. Made of intellects with varying degrees, some brilliant, some asinine, but overall, mostly piddling, with loyalties ever changing like tides rising and falling with the shape of the moon, their interests transient like shifting sands.

Unlike the Cabinet, the Senate is an assembly of conspirators and traitors. They conspire in bands intent on wrestling the mace from the incumbent Senate President. One senator whispers in the shadows in accusatory tones of a senator plotting to assassinate the president. Another senator blurts in anger against the president for favoring a political nemesis. The rest are content to lay low until the right time to strike and claim their hegemony. If the palace is a snake pit, the Senate is a den of Byzantine intrigue.

In addition, the public is already exhausted with the numerous investigations going on without concrete legislative outputs. Senator Villar's investigation on the jueteng did nothing but smear people’s reputations and displayed outlandishly the boorish senators. He did nothing to conduct and end the inquiry in an honorable manner. He still does nothing. No committee report to speak of and no legislative proposal, to say the least.

Perhaps, foremost in his mind, still mulling on how to evict Senator Drilon from the Senate presidency and to prevent Lady Miriam, the adroit interloper, from ascending the throne. Indeed, having seen the Senators grandstand on television, why should the public sympathize with them? Conversely, why should the public not commisserate with Bert Gonzales?

Moreover, one would expect a Senate voice in unison howling in protest against Executive Order No. 464 as an encroachment on its legislative prerogative. None was heard. The Palace senators should realize that they are Senators of the Republic and no longer pawns of the Palace. Any attack on their powers diminishes and dishonors the Senate. If for one moment, they cannot fathom the depth of the transgression by the Executive branch, then they stand no business being in the Senate. Neither do they have the right to sit as elders of the Republic.

If wisdom and intellect are sorely lacking in the Senate, how can one expect the latter to override Executive arrogance? With a dysfunctional Senate like ours, how does one stop the chief executive bully from beating up the legislative wimps in the schoolyard?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

First They Came (Of Things To Come?)

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out.

- Martin Niemöller