Automation versus manual? No contest, but let’s improve it

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Rene Saguisag

Rene Saguisag

July 2 marks the birth anniversary of Imelda Marcos and Chief Justice Meilou Sereno. Imelda reminds me of what is said of politicians, to serve two terms, one in office, and other in jail. Having been ordered to return billions on July 15, 2003 by the Supreme Court (SC), why did it not order the prosecution of an established “ill-gottener?” The restoration has made it possible to compensate human rights victims. BTW, why has PNoy not yet named the compensation board appointees?

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Meilou will serve as CJ until 2031. I wish she would think of retiring after another decade, to strengthen the institutional arrangement premised on de Gaulle’s observation: the cemeteries are full of indispensable people. She was not my nominee for CJ last year. I recommended J. Bobby Abad and Ronnie Zamora, both 70 in 2014, to calm the stormy sea. But she was picked in a perfectly constitutional manner. I support her. No seniority in our Constitution. There is no such tradition in the U.S. which has seen many superior CJs, while those who did not rise to the very top, like Holmes, Frankfurter, Harlan, et al. are positively remembered. Indeed, even Judge Learned Hand.

I was glad to read that “Surigao del Norte’s income rose by 711.22%; poverty declined by 32%.” No thanks to PNoy but genuine People’s Initiative, no waiting for Malacanang to move, as kadunongs, pilosopos throw everything at PNoy. Hence, my advice, the one you hate the most, egg him to run for Prez of this ungovernable nation of hecklers. We columnists know all the answers save that they are contradictory prescriptions by the unelectable.

In my hometown of Pasig, there is no talk of 60-30-10 I hear. An Opposition Vice Mayor and three Councilors won. Thanks to automation, there is no more opportunity anywhere for long counts and ballot-snatching or switching. A step forward. It may not be perfect but returning to manual scares the bejesus out of me. Bloody.

Was there anything wrong with which Comelec Chair Boy Brillantes and Co. may be charged? I see that a complaint has been filed where we may go where the evidence may lead, here (and not in the UN which does not decide national elections anywhere, a remedy worse than the disease inflicted by people our own have not elected or picked, some from faraway places with strange-sounding names). Going back to manual will lead to endless disputes, and even violence, leading to deaths. No goons and guns this time, a dramatic improvement. The election period last 30 days after the elections. No guns, no alcohol.

There may be a basis to reduce to period to one week as counting is over by midnite, eliminating the costs of a long manual count. In 1992, FVR was not proclaimed winner until just one week before inauguration. There was a high hidden social cost.

Never again. Automation should stay even as we improve it, in an uncertain less than perfect world. UP ain’t perfect. Bobit Tiglao of this paper who scooped everyone on l’affaire Virata scored here again the other day on UP’s incompetence.

Whatever Harvard does in naming anything it owns is its business. It has a Lewis Int’l Law Center, where I first saw snow falling in October, 1968. (Immaculate. Our love was new.) It is today named after Reginald Lewis, of our Class of ’68 (several hundreds). I was not to meet and know him until 1991 in Harvard. He married Loida, who I had known since the early 60’s in the National Union of Students and Student Catholic Action. In May 1967, I attended UP’s graduation, because my sister, Lulu, finishing with two engineering degrees, was in that commencement rite.

New Law grad Loida I met; I was then about to leave for Harvard, and she flattered me with “sana ma-approximate namin what you have achieved.” With her in that class was another dear friend, the late Violy Calvo (later Mrs. Frank Drilon). Both from St. Theresa’s, and very kind. I last met Loida early this year, in Dusit Thani Hotel, when she again was co-leading some Fil-Am effort to give our people a better life. My late wife, Dulce, and I, would very occasionally dancexercise with her in the defunct Bykes on Chino Roces Avenue in Makati. She dances a mean swing.

Loida, thru sister Mely, arranged and financed my reunion attendance in Harvard in 1998, our class’s pearl anniversary. In 2008, our ruby anniversary, I also attended, with SocDem activist Ivan Enriquez, of Davao, doing well in Canada, subsidizing my trip.

He was badly tortured in the early 80’s. He came to see me after I got out of the hospital in late 2007 and financed the 2008 ruby reunion trip of this maralitang taga-lunsod. He would recall that when I was handling his subversion case in Pasig, I would even give him fare and cigarette money after a hearing. He was acquitted. We in MABINI could not lose ‘em all. He reconnected about a decade ago because he needed to get an NBI clearance about his subversion case, to start a business, payback time, in Davao. Fellow anti-dictatorship stalwart, GMA’s Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez, helped us get his name cleared.

I don’t know if the U.S. has the equivalent of our R.A. No. 1059 prohibiting naming any public facility after a living person. Whatever, we are no longer a colony. UP still has to tell us how it named a facility there after Cesar E.A. Virata, still in the land of the living. The nation owes Bobi for calling our attention to what he deems improper and I agree, but, as a lawyer, I focus on the illegality, which I pointed out. I had time and again criticized the naming after Marcos and Imelda in their time as Conjugal Dictators (e.g., see my Malayang Pilipinas issue of March 31-April, 1978, which I edited; there I wrote that the Supreme Court ruled: Iloilo officials could not put President Garcia Hall at the facade of the building of what used to be called Iloilo Provincial Building. Miguel v. Patricio, 16 SCRA 860, decided in 1966; Garcia served in the 1971 Con-Con).

With its array of legal talent, no UP Law alum, to my knowledge, has come out to hit UP (save Loida and Mon Esguerra). Not superlawyers Manong Johnny, Titong Mendoza, Jojobama, et al., who may dream of having Malcolm Hall renamed after them. Why not Malcolm-Esguerra-Lewis Hall? Others dream of attending the renaming in their lifetime (like Ka Cesar).

Our own Dr. Dante Ang has come out in defense of Ballsy Aquino-Cruz. I can only echo what he wrote in this paper yesterday—and more. Takot na lang makalmot ang paa niya ng Nanay niya.

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