IT was the recently departed moral paragon, crusader for the truth and the rule of law, and former Times columnist Atty. Alan F. Paguia, who told me in one of our conversations that our paper had become the “conscience of the nation.”
Many of those who knew him saw a Christlike figure in Alan. He suffered from the Supreme Court’s decision in 2003 to suspend him from practicing his profession– “indefinitely.” It was painful. For aside from his commitment to being a faithful practicing Catholic, a faith that he lived resolutely—as witnessed by members of his household, his colleagues and friends, Alan was also deeply devoted to his family, and through his profession, to the Filipino nation and our Republic. That is why his suspension of eight years was a moral torment, which he bore stoically as a good Christian should.
The SC justices had the force of law in their action. But to me he was unjustly suspended for what I think was a mere act of “lese majeste”—as if we were a monarchical realm in medieval Europe and not a modern state. Tragically, ours is a soft state, because public officials and political, financial and business leaders belong to the feudal and dynastic aristocracy. Those who have the duty are unwilling to impose the rule of law and cannot suppress their corrupt bias for self, clan, classmates, business associates, circle of friends and mistresses. As a result, there is no moral discipline in our imperfect democracy. And most of the people– being poor (some extremely so), and being miserably uneducated– accept our feudalistic society’s injustices as normal facts of life.
We in The Times are resolved, as Alan Paguia was, to help correct the malformed consciences of many of our people. Yes, each person has his or her own conscience. And each conscience has to be well formed or it will make its owner approve every self-serving immoral act as long as it doesn’t bother his or her conscience.
Then there is also the requirement for a community to develop a well-formed social conscience, or else that society will find itself unbearably oppressed by the corruption of very many of its members. That fate has, sadly, actually befallen us Filipinos.
That is why we in the Times have made it our duty to expose and lambast the hypocrisy of the B.S. Aquino regime. We harp on its having betrayed the people by unceasingly telling its biggest lie—that it is treading the “Daang Matuwid” (The Straight Path), while in fact it has abetted the shocking increase in large multiples of official and private sector graft and corruption, in criminality as many police officers team up with gangsters, in criminal negligence and criminal incompetence of very many government officials.
Alan Paguia, justly, virtuously, courageously accused some of the Supremes of committing partisan political acts during the 2001 Edsa Dos revolt. Observers in fact saw Justice Panganiban and Chief Justice Davide virtually campaign for the elevation of then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the presidency by working on the other High Court justices to join or at least approve of moves to oust the much-maligned gambler, womanizer and corrupt President Erap Estrada.
Fortunately after eight years, the High Court en banc lifted Alan’s suspension. But he was right all along. Davide and Panganiban—even if the latter thought the action was suggested to him by God in his private meditation—committed partisan politicking against Erap, which is forbidden by law and by proper legal procedure as espoused by St. Thomas Moore.
The Supreme Court even validated the ridiculous notion that President Erap had resigned, because that was what Edgardo Angara, his then Executive Secretary of two weeks, had written in his diary. Front page banner stories by Amando Doronilla quoting the Angara diary in the Inquirer gave the Yellow Army officers and hordes of true believers the license and strength to argue that wrong was right, that black was white.
The Davide Supreme Court, relying on Angara’s diary, then ruled that President Estrada had truly, in effect, resigned and that, therefore, there was a vacancy. And so it was perfectly all right for then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to fill it.
Critics of the Davide High Court’s ruling are as compelling and credible as those who favor it.
Today’s Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonio Carpio, a legal eagle in private practice at the time of the Erap ouster drama, saw what was going on. He disputed the Angara-Doronilla-Inquirer narrative. He saw that Erap did not want to resign. San Miguel’s Eduardo “Danding” Conjuangco and Ramon Ang were funding Erap’s fight to remain in power against the Yellow Camp’s impeachment and ouster machinations—and win aquittal from the senators sitting as justices in the impeachment court.
I myself saw that the Yellow commandos of lawyers and the rah-rah boys and girls had been getting ready to derail the trial Erap was most likely to win. As a newspaper columnist with a pass to the trial, I would take any empty gallery seat. I was nearly always in barong Tagalog. On the hearing day before the day of the Yellow Camp’s walkout, a similarly barong-clad lawyer, who had become familiar by sight to me, whispered, “Pañero, if not today, tomorrow. Okay?” And he began making a low buzz, “Walkout! Walkout!” which I heard others repeat in low tones. That made me realize that the walkout of prosecution lawyers, witnesses and anti-Erap people from the Senate floor was part of a plan to frustrate the Erap Camp’s efforts to win an acquittal.
The Jueting King today
The Cory Aquino Yellow Army worked actively against the reputed King of Vices Erap Estrada. He was accused of receiving the Big Boss’ share of all illegal gambling operations. Today the Yellow Army is inert against BS Aquino’s Malacañang—which these days, according to our country’s foremost and anti-gambling crusader, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, and our sources in the jueteng industry—exercises power and draws benefits from illegal gambling operators and their police partners and protectors everywhere in our archipelago.
Our being the “conscience of the nation” covers all aspects of graft and corruption—including illegal gambling. Which is why we also criticize, despite our friendship with PAGCOR, the proliferation of legal gambling in our country.
And we –The Manila Times editors in our editorials—and most of our columnists in their pieces absolutely agree with Archbishop Cruz: that the Philippines has become, under the President BS Aquino, the No. 1 Gambling Nation of the World.
ASIDE from our morally fierce and incisively truthful editorials, it is the work of our columnists that makes readers say in online comments and letters to us editors that the old Manila Times of the Roces family, specially The Times of Joaquin “Chino” Roces, is “alive again.” Some–perhaps these are young readers and unaware of the supremacy of the pre-Martial Law Manila Times–have written to say that our daily has replaced their once-admired Inquirer.
That must be because we have never become consistently friendly with any political parties, ruling coalitions and sitting presidents.
Elsewhere in this issue, our Executive Editor, company president and CEO, Dante F. “Klink” Ang 2nd, is quoted by an interviewer, Josiah Go, chairman and chief marketing strategist of Mansmith and Fielders Inc., the leading marketing and sales training company in the Philippines. Go asked Klink “What is the one word you want to own in the newspaper industry?”
Klink replied, “Modesty aside, I believe that we have the best opinion writers today. And so our strength is putting the news into context. We cater not only to those who want to follow what’s happening, but more so to those who want to know why things are happening. It’s hard to put that in one word, but if there is one, perhaps ‘opinionated’ comes close.”
Yes, our 3-page OpEd section carries deep and knowledgeable columnists who know whereof they speak, writers who do deep research before arriving at their analytical opinions and well-considered conclusions. We also run analyses of world events by the US-based Stratfor Geopolitical Intelligence, the columns of the respected Washington Post Writers Group and the forum articles, columns, editorials and analyses of the newspapers and magazines around the world associated with the US-based Tribune News Service and its Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
We in The Times also give positive—not just critical—service as “the conscience of the nation.” For example, the “Comment” essays by Juan T. Gatbonton are among the most constructive and profound analyses of national issues being written in our country these days, offering gentle and expert suggestions on how the government could better achieve our goals as seen in the particular experiences of similarly situated countries. And these essays are written in the most graceful prose, too.
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This special anniversary issue has been especially crafted to feature articles recounting how leading Philippine companies have been performing for the good of our country (See Sections F, I and L).