• ‘Apat na Pulubi’; cost of judicial independence



    LAST Tuesday, I got an email from lawyer-friend Jojo Liangco, from San Francisco: “Just want to share this with you, . . . [Wife] Noime will get the Global Peace Prize (in Thailand this August) at Dangal ng Bayan Award [here], on March 17 dahil sa kanyang gawain at adbokasiya sa larangan ng agri-tourism, natural and sustainable agriculture, at community development sa probinsiya ng Isabela. Ang parangal ay kaloob ng Asia-Pacific Awards Council sa pamumuno ni Dr. Jonathan `Jake’ Navea.”

    Jojo ended with a kind tribute to my late wife Dulce and me. I wouldn’t state it here (please note ellipsis above) lest I feel like some lawyer or litigant displaying before the media a copy of what they have just filed, which to me is on this side of unethicality. I can only add that Jojo turned to law after reading about MABINI, our human rights lawyers group, during the Dark Years; then, odds never daunted us, and we, in FLAG and MABINI, worked, unadvertised, all over the land. A number of lawyers were harassed, with some terminated with extreme prejudice (“salvaged”). We marched and rallied, in the wind and rain, shot at, teargassed, water-cannoned, truncheoned, chased, arrested and detained.

    We, True Yellows, will be for human rights, forever.

    It is not unusual for certain KSP (kulang sa pansin) lawyers to violate Canon 13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which directs them not “to make public statements to the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party,” complete with a picture even. In self-defense, the victim understandably responds.

    Sereno already a winner
    No matter how the Senate trial of Chief Justice (CJ) Meilou Sereno ends, she’s already a winner, in my view, for risking her all for judicial independence. Had she acted and spoken in the manner of a Yes-[Wo]man, she wouldn’t be in her situation today, being martyrized. Were she not on leave, she would likely be saying now to the Boracay judges, told by the executive not to intervene, to stand their ground and call it as they see it, and be true to their oaths.

    Let the Senate trial begin; the worst that can happen in the brutal Delenda-est-Sereno (Sereno must be destroyed) campaign is for her to fall into the arms of a people pining for judicial independence, in a situation where power-obsessed Digong has nearly total control of the bureaucracy, for good or ill.

    Otherwise, a ditty I’d sing when I was very young, when not flying sarangolas or playing patintero, etc., would come to mind: “duon po sa amin, bayan ng San [ni Harry]Roque, may nagkatuwaang, apat na pulubi, nagsayaw ang pilay [ako po ‘yon, up to now, trying to dancexercise), nakinig ang bingi, nanuod ang bulag, umawit ang pipi.”

    This song (TY, fellow Bedan Danding Gimenez for reminding me of it), I find appropriate in the world we now live in, far worse than when I entered it, a noble time of fewer conejos, good manners and right conduct, human life and dignity respected, traffic moving, cost of living low, sikyus nonexistent (save for a few Bombay serenos), etc. During fiestas, even strangers would be invited in by homeowners.

    My freshman English teacher at San Beda bellowed: “None are so blind as those who will not see.” Who are blind to the answer to the question: What has not been battered in terms of our values, institutions and processes since June 30, 2016? And prices are going up. Traffic and housing problems far worse than on that date.

    The quo warranto case filed against CJ Meilou under Sec. 11 of Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, should have been lodged within a year of assumption of office, here August 2012. How many justices wouldn’t have to recuse or inhibit themselves for their perceived or pronounced bias and animosity against her? There might be forum-shopping or splitting causes of action issues. Multiple vexation.

    Now, the Palace hopes for a hometown decision it may not get in the Senate.

    When I filed a quo warranto petition for Erap in 2001, I did it promptly, after consulting with my betters. Would the Supreme Court and Meilou’s adversaries there really give due course to the case at all after she files her comment? They shouldn’t but St. Loo Cardinals star pitcher from the Dominican Republic once said, there is one word that says it all, and that one word is you-never-know.

    Non-compliance on SALN, punishable with a fine in my R.A. 6713 (“my” in that I co-authored it with Senate Prez Salonga, and sponsored it on the floor) does not rise to an impeachable level but that partly caused Corona’s being deposed (a lawyer who defends himself is said to have a fool for a client). A precedent? Allow me to doubt.

    Mr. Wong of San Francisco went abroad on business and was away a year. On his return, he was shown by Mrs. Wong a Caucasian-looking baby and she said it was theirs. He vehemently objected saying that two Wongs don’t make a white!

    A system in disarray or decay
    Doubts as to paternity and lack of stability, coherence and predictability are marks of a system in disarray or decay, in values, institutions and processes. We have all been impoverished. Hindi lang po apat na pulubi , a song we sang when we flew sarangolas and played patintero (the youth today have their cellphones as playmates, sad).

    What institution, process and value has Digong not devalued in 20 months? Who is not scared of the police? Do we think of honoring our men in uniform the way they are deservingly cherished in the US?

    Without taking away anything from our honorable men and women remaining in government, and they are aplenty, do we have a better presidency, legislature and judiciary today? Are we more caring for, and compassionate and humane to, one another?

    Has positive pagbabago really come? Who are the new cronies? Are only Davaoeños, frat brods, the military and the police MAD (Mga Anak ng Diyos)? Not teachers and other public servants who cannot stage coups?

    Today, criticization has become a dangerous game, hence Leila and Meilou are where they are. Making sipsip is the name of the game in a nation of chameleons. Mga dyaskeng hunyango.

    Today we have a Prez who insensitively sandbags his guests to do the clenched fist Nazi salute with him, to the embarrassment of an Aussie official who got hammered for his thoughtless imitation (it is a crime in some countries, remembering Hitler). Only Pinoys, if at all, he should demean and ask to join him in the shameful fascistic stance. How many more guests will he embarrass?

    Yet, he says soldiers and cops should not allow themselves to be embarrassed and disrespected by Congress? What about the rest of us?

    But, my mantra remains, I do wish him to succeed as his success is yours and mine, everyone’s. His failure? Ditto.

    And, hope springs eternal. He cherishes his anti-dictatorship mother dearly. Good.

    The impeachment and conviction of post-midnight CJ Rene continue to be sought to be discredited by allegations that the Senate was bribed with pork a year or so later. You mean Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile was, and did Noynoy a favor? Tell me another, puh-leeze. And pork is not toxic per se and may truly be used to give our people a better life.

    How low SC has fallen
    The current spectacle of the SC supplying proof of intramurals is sad and shows how low it may have fallen from pre-Martial Law Mt. Olympus years. The justices’ job is simply “to decide cases,” as a US Supreme Court nominee, footballer Byron T. White, famously told the Senate in 1962 when asked how he envisioned his SC role to be. No seniority rule there as the focus is on deciding cases, all disposed of within the year (very rare that a case is carried over to the next term).

    Now, even our SC personnel are demoing in red instead of helping decide cases. Natcherly, they don’t cross their bosses. Where’s the professionalism?

    Again, were Meilou back, she might have advised the Boracay judges to call it as they see it, and not to give up their independence from the executive. The Prez reportedly only “cautions” judges not to issue TROs but they cannot forget who “cautions.” Some Godfather.

    So, Madame Agnes Callamard is welcome to come, and swim in our polluted Pasig River. What if she does and find herself side by side with the cadaver of a salvaging victim? The intolerant administration keeps decaying in resorting to Kanto Boy, far from mature, elegant, language, and rotting in other ways. Are we all pulubis in values now?

    Time to kill should be behind us now. Time to heal. But, if what the SolGen has just done in filing a quo warranto petition is an “act of kindness,” which I find bizarre, we may be one people divided by a common language. Killing her softly by being “quo warrantized,” as a classmate said, answering a question of Prof. Florenz Regalado, a justice who avoided familiars even in court. The spouse of another respected justice once wanted to see him and, per urban legend, was told to make an appointment. No PR? The mold has been broken and thrown away.

    How I wish we were back to the jurassic age when new judge Roberto Concepcion in the province confined himself to the casera, iglesia y juzgado (boarding house, church and court). Mt. Olympus should not be confused with Macoy’s Smokey Mountain, with all due respect.


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