What I don’t get about the Prez

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RENE SAGUISAG

Compañero Bryan Dennie Gabito Tiojangco had an interesting commentary of January 5, 2017 (“What lawyers don’t get about Duterte”, PDI, p. A8, col. 2), in seeming dispraise of Duterte critics, of which I am one as a member of the tiny insignificant human rights community.

Our most bloodsoaked presidential start of “only” 6,000 killed in one semester may hardly remind us of Hitler’s 6,000,000 Jews killed in the Holocaust. (Even Prez Duterte’s wet dream of six executions daily after the anti-poor death penalty returns should console Hitler fans just a bit.) Panyero Bryan seems to see nothing wrong with the carnage, if I got him correctly.

Only a handful of lawyers protested when martial law was inflicted in 1972. “What lawyers [didn’t] get about” Marcos, I didn’t, to be sure. Maybe beyond my intellectual reach. I was one uhugin who decided to join the few lawyers who chose the less travelled road. I did not give Macoy’s “constitutional authoritarianism” the benefit of the doubt.

Neither can I, to a new Police State which ended its first semester with countless poor people killed every month, indicating that the Pulis Patolas could not prevent nor solve such killings. The numbers, a hard-to-please Palace Butcher wants enhanced by at least six judicial murders daily, hanged by the neck, publicly, till dead. Again, of the poor, going by the record. No Ninoy-Aquino-type, lest everyone realize that no one is safe.


For attorneys then, we should again recall, in particular “[t]he German lawyer [who]was . . . particularly prepared to accept as law anything that called itself by that name [and], was printed at government expense . . .” (L. Fuller, Positivism and Fidelity to Law – A Reply to Professor Hart, 71 Harvard Law Review 630, 659 (1958).) “Hitler did not come to power by a violent revolution. . . . The exploitation of legal forms started cautiously and became bolder as power was consolidated. The first attacks on the established order were on ramparts which, if they were manned by anyone, were manned by lawyers and judges. These ramparts fell almost without a struggle.” Id.

What Mussolini did in 1925, Hitler, in 1933, and Macoy, in 1972, the people acquiesced in, maybe even cheered, and the lawyers and judges let the ramparts fall with hardly a struggle.

Thus Never-Again! for my part. I remain adamantine and granitic in my opposition to a bloodthirsty policy of a Prez who even leads in perverting the clenched-fist-human-rights-salute. If I am among the naive alluded to in “[w]hat lawyers don’t get about Duterte,” so be it. As in the case of Digong’s idol, Macoy, I will just have to keep asking the foolish questions of the day, in the classroom, the courtroom and the streets, in hopes of seeing a positive transformation, not a continuing transmogrification.

I am glad though that my fellow Bedan Prez tolerates our rallies (where I have not seen our fellow Bedan Veep Leni, contrary to what Digong’s Bulong Brigade tells him), without our getting shot at, teargassed, water-cannoned, truncheoned, chased, and arrested. In this limited respect, may he stay as sweet as he is.

But, no place on earth that has a bloody hardline policy against drugs succeeded. And Digong should not, in his maleficent obsession, neglect other problems like traffic (with a reported 25 percent growth sales in vehicles), raising the pay not only of cops and soldiers, improving the state of our education, setting a good example in language (by widening and refining his vocabulary), and family values (by marrying Honeylet), etcetera.

We trust that the Prez is healthy enough to discharge the conjugal debt; here we rely on the informed accounts of Kamandag Mon Tulfo whose rough-and-ready expertise on the matter is legend. We don’t want a case of a secretive Marcos all over again. (Here, for the loss on a son in his 20’s, deep condolences to the Panelos; parents should not have to bury their children.) When it comes to the Prez’s general health, Doctors Martin Andanar and Bong Go are less reliable, I fear, than say Philippine Medical Association (PMA) members. Ah, yes, the PMA.

AMA. The Australian Medical Association, after two Pinoy boxers killed two Aussies in the ring in the last couple of years (one victim, a law stude), pressed for the abolition Down Under of the Manly Art of Modified Murder (McGeehan). Australia is mentioned as the venue of Senator Manny Pacquiao’s next fight. It might be his syndicate is having trouble selling him, at 38, again in the US.

There he is facing lawsuits for, in effect, syndicated estafa, for allegedly hiding an injury, affecting attendance and betting odds. I have not seen any financial report on his latest bout there. That event Bato de la Rosa questionably attended with his family, as Manny’s guests, in violation of P.D. No. 46 and R.A. No. 6713, on giving and accepting gifts, and plain delicadeza. Manny and Bato should face some probe but they enjoy immunity by shrewdly making sipsip to the Prez. Wa-is.

Only gutsy critics like Sec. Leila de Lima are getting it. She has a reason to be concerned about crazies doing her harm. She and Loida Nicolas Lewis have to be extra careful. (So does Mely Nicolas but she may be more used to living dangerously. On Sept. 24, 1972, the day after martial law was inflicted, ASSOed Raul Roco, and watch-listed I, went to her place and courageous Mely welcomed us.)

I do not want Digong removed now but those who advocate his peaceful removal have a right to say so. The test anyway is “clear-and-present danger” which I do not see being met now. Incitement to sedition? But, every idea is an incitement, said Holmes.

And, we do have a right to know the state of a president’s health. A busy Prez has a right of course to “private time.” (The US Prez takes a vacation regularly.) So do other officials, beginning with the Veep. Today is a time of technological wonders in communication and transportation. Still, my colleague, Kit Tatad, was right to want to know where Digong was for a week, in the public interest. So do I.

Has Digong given husbands among us to a new excuse other than being in Baclaran to pray the Rosary? The family(ies) that pray(s) together, stay(s) together. Desaparecidos many husbands may want to be from time to time. (I was in Shang Makati last Tuesday; a lady introed herself to me in the lobby and said that she was dancexercising many years ago until knee problems came up. On learning that I would cap the night in Solaire, she in effect asked me to spy on her husband who regularly goes there to dance. What for? — I couldn’t fathom, cuz many a female DI would flirt outrageously as part of the act. On my part, ballroom only, if others, bedroom, all I can say to any mate is to remember me while he’s doing it.)

Seriously, we all have a stake in knowing where Digong spent recently his “private time.” Or one can argue, we may have no right to ask, and Digong can insist on his right not to speak, so blatantly violated by the Pulis Patolas in their shocking Operation Tokhang.

Human life and dignity matter, now, and forever, my reading of what Cardinal Tagle said last Sunday in the packed Manila Cathedral in that Fazenda da Esperanza program.

Incidentally, “pagkahabahaba man ng traslacion, sa simbahan din ang tuloy,” discombobulates jurassic me. I had not heard “traslacion,” until some years back. “Prusisyon,” yes. Times have changed.

Like we had pork in our time in the Senate. I saw nothing wrong in it then. And now. In the same way that it continues in the US. Not toxic, per se. The assumption of Sen. Ping Lacson seems to be that in Congress they all have horns and, in the Palace, halos, which I do not buy. Why should the latter have all the fun(d)s? And it’s not only the cops and soldiers who deserve better.

And Digong cannot just order the arrest of 5-6 Bombays (nor the killing of narco-mayors). Arrest is for the Judiciary to order, in proper cases. He orders SSS pensions and premiums increased. That’s for Congress, with its power of the purse, to do. I pay for the premiums of my small office and domestic staff and if they must go up, I want Congress, now with caponized cockerels, to tell me so, not the Prez alone.

But, the one with the power of the sword seems to be getting away with murder, in more ways than one. What happens to our VIPs — Values, Institutions and Processes? Again, De Gaulle said, the cemeteries are full of indispensable people.

And we are full of German lawyers, beginning with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as in the years of Martial Misrule. Or do I continue not to get it? What I do get is that the Consti is a Document of Distrust of those in power, and the Bill of Rights, with its Thou-Shalt-Nots, in particular, commands them not to play god and decide who shall live and who shall die.

It seems to be a fave game of Digong?

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3 Comments

  1. Mr. Saguisag, your writing is humorous in a wry manner and at the same time you tackle the issues with truth and clarity. Please stay healthy and continue to write your articles for the edification of the country. And yes, once in a while, do take some time off to go to Baclaran and say the Rosary. I look forward to your next article, and many, many more after that.