Fr. BB goes home; due process for all

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RENE SAGUISAG

I ASK my studes, which is superior, a local law or a treaty, asked in the bar exam in 2008 (“II. May a treaty violate international law?”, echoing a bar query of 2003). The answer I prefer to see is, it depends on who is asked to decide: if a local court, it could be hometown, as held in the US, and as stated in various obiters here. A treaty has no “superior sanctity” over municipal law, the US doctrine.

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An international adjudicator would uphold the treaty.

The hometown bias one sees in US holdings, but not here where the language is only obiter, meaning not really necessary for the disposition of the case. Like our Prez,who talks too much. Our Supreme Court has seen more than once, no conflict, but went on to say that assuming there was, our domestic law triumphs.

Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre trivializes our treaty commitments and Articles 27 and 46 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. Maybe Digong would not lose in our Supreme Court. But, a most important word in English is said to be “you-never-know.” (Joaquin Andujar of theSt. Loo Cardinals.) A rogue state image may be too steep a price to pay for our small Third World nation, an ant among elephants.

A top leader who rushed to bow to Trump’s immigration ban is our Digong. He found nothing wrong with the arguably fascistic interdiction. He would not help Pinoy “ilegales o indocumentados” in the US despite possible “extreme family hardships,” telling them, in effect: “Pahinog kayo. Bahala kayo sa buhay nyo.”

But, he’s our Prez. We should not be insensitive when Pinoys are oppressed, persecuted and vilified anywhere.

We fall all over ourselves to soothe South Korean feelings but not the widows and orphans of non-cops and non-soldiers who cannot stage a coup. But collaterally damaged lives matter, more so if lost. I have not seen any effort to reach out to five-year old Sara’s parents, wounded in Mamasapano, where she was killed. Muslim lives don’t matter? Is that in our best interest?

It is in our best interest, I believe, to have an envoy to the US. But, apparently just to spite the Kanos and stroke the Chinese and Russkies, Digong won’t name one, again seemingly acting in his own narrow parochial interests, not the country’s. We have millions of countrymen in the US. And we certainly have no quarrel with ordinary Joes, even if we disagree with Washington. Estimable Babes Romualdez, with health issues, had to back off, but surely, he is not the only one who eminently qualifies. Pinoys in America also matter.

Now, after telling the cops, “kill-kill-kill and I have your back,” he dumps, cusses and shames them publicly. Intimidated, no one had the balls to dare ask: “With all due respect, don’t we deserve due process, Sir?” And what kind of commander is Bato? He should protect his boys and the institution.

Digong now favors the civilian PDEA and the AFP, which can deal better with local rebels and foreign invaders. Should a civilian agency (PDEA) be an armed force? No coherence. Blurred. Civilians may just shoot themselves in the foot, with all due respect.

No coherent program we see on traffic either. It has become worse than ever, after seven months of Prez Duterte. Last Saturday, for an eight a.m.law grad class in Mendiola, I left Palanan, Makati, a little after seven. I reached San Beda nearly an hour and a half later (instead of the usual half hour, max). What is his and Secretary Art Tugade’s plan for easier access to our common alma mater?

I dismissed early my Saturday 6:00 p. m. San Beda Law (Alabang) human rights class, for the announced 7:00 p. m. requiem in Mendiola for Fr. BenignoBenabarre (BB). No traffic! But, his remains did not arrive until towards 9 p.m. I had to leave to meet a visiting Fil-Am lawyer. I left Joffre Alajar, Paco Alcuaz, Joe Araullo, and His Eminence Jonas Cardinal Cabochan.

Fr. BB was born in 1915. Excuse me, I personally don’t go back that far.

Last Tuesday. Fr. Tarci Narciso officiated (with Fr. OlegarioCommeleran and younger ones whose names I didn’t know). Traffic better. Panyero Doming Buhain spoke. Then Joffre called on me, to my mild surprise.

I recognized Chito Loyzaga, “Tito Pancho” Pasicolan, Tom Apacible, Angel Arando and Boy Brillantes, among others. They should all recall the lines I tried last Tuesday to sing, which we would doevery Friday, late afternoon; we opened Benediction then with a rousing “cantemos al amor de los amores, cantemos al Señor, Dios esta aqui…” We also learned “lo cortes no quita lo valiente.” Courtesy does not detract from valor. I assume it continued to be taught but Digong must have been absent when it was, in his time, a decade or so later.

Last Saturday, across the campus, from “the most beautiful [church],” per Krip Yuson of the Star, from whom I learned about Fr. BB’s passage, was an ongoing homecoming program. Festive, the opposite of the somber mood in the church for Fr. BB’s final “home-going” (American Indian term). It was Fr. BB’s choice to end his days and rest forever in his adopted Motherland.

This leaves Fr. Commeleran as the only Español in the local Benedictine community. So different from the coño-soy-bososoy days of my Bedan college years (1955 to 1963). Some of our teachers, led by Dean Ledesma, conversed in Spanish.

How times have changed in a generation and a half. San Beda is now coed, for one thing, with women no longer to be told, from afar, “I think of you my dearest, as a distant promise of beauty, untouched by the world.” Jimmy Licauco of the Inquirer said he took BB to mean Brigitte Bardot, a Lady Gaga–who shone in last Sunday’s Super Bowl–of our time. Lady Gaga occasionally publiclyand strongly defends her Catholic faith.

In February 1986, Fr. BB called me from Spain to congratulate our people for Edsa’86 (I was then Cory’s mouthpiece). Que lastima! that we had lost Spanish, which I, halting, could speak a wee bit in the 1950s and 1960s. Now I have totally lost my command of it, even if I still enjoy “preguntas a las estrellas…” As Prof. Josefina Zialcita would josh, Espanol is the language of the garden, French, the language of love, German, the language of the stable. In Spain, she said they could tell if one was from la perla del mar de oriente by blurting out “tarantado!” — not Spanish but our own–and see the reaction of the startled islander.

The Pinoy term comes to mind looking at two new presidencies, from our human rights foxholes. Digong keeps cussing. Trump called Judge John Hobart a “so-called judge” (and in turn got called a “so-called President”– he lost the popular vote by nearly three million). Digong has a clearer mandate here and continues not to harass demonstrators physically. Nice.

He has his widely publicized visits to his Mom’s tomb. He must be shedding tears, if not humahagulgol (weeping), in telling her he could not now recall his order to bury in the heroes’ cemetery, one, she and I, along with other Davao lawyers, fought. I marched with her in Davao but no sign of her son I then saw, now the new Emperor of Imperial Manila and Davao, playing with what he sees as trump cards.

I had some familiarity with playing cards with pixes of American football players on same (pitik). One I remember was that of Sid Luckman. But, the first time I saw an American football game, live, was in 1967, at Harvard. I had to ask whether LLB in a card after a player’s name meant he was in law school. My very urbane host father, Joe Bain, who was in Leyte in 1944, could hardly suppress a laugh; he said, sorry, it meant Left Line Backer.

Joe was a Harvard Business classmate of Jobo Fernandez, who attended San Beda.

BTW, Harvardman Jorge Santayana, Fr. BB’s paisano, tells us that a nation without a memory is a nation of madmen.

It was not until Broadway Joe (Namath) led the underdog Jets to victory over Baltimore, 16-9, on January 12, 1969, that I felt educated enough to appreciate and love the game. I am hardly able to follow the pro league today but the Super Bowl annually revives my love for the game at this time of year. How my Dulce and I followed Monday Night Football, in D.C., with the entertaining Howard Cosell. So, there is quarterbacking not only on Monday morning, but also on Tuesday.

The Patriots won through a riveting comeback last Sunday. Now our Catholic and other religious leaders have come back and risen from their seeming stupor, which turned out to be watchful waiting time. They have strong statements on EJKs, warning elected officials. But, even the unelected like SecretaryVit, Bato de la Rosa and many PulisPatolas, should be reminded, along with the Prez and Speaker. Digong’s bloody hardline policy has not succeeded anywhere elsewhere, and is now disfavored, where tried, e.g., Colombia, Thailand, etc. Others see the issue as health, rehab then, not crime, no prison, much less EJK.

We hailed Fr. BB. The PNP held a memorial service for a Korean victim. Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo even went to Korea and has triumphant narcissistic war stories. What about slain Muslim Sara’s folks, both wounded in Mamasapano?

Fr. BB wrote for his doctoral degree in Centro Escolar,“Public Funds for Private Schools in a Democracy.” Out of the box? Digong should rethink certain of his views. He’s national Prez now, no longer a parochial Mayor who keeps going back to insular Davao.

Fr. BB chose to come back and live the rest of his days here. Greater love hath no man for his adopted Motherland than one who chose to live and die here.

Adios y gracias, Fr. BB, and pray that our government, with the Prez, Veep and several Cabinet members, realize that we cannot ever give up on anyone. And that while we enjoy homecomings, more important is “homegoing.” Fr. BB is home, to help prepare mansions for you, dear readers, and even, with any kind of luck, unworthy sinners such as I.

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1 Comment

  1. Espanol sounds like music to the ears. Que lastima that Fidel Ramos scrapped it from the college curriculum (I lost my loads, as did the rest of Spanish teachers, due to it). From then on, OFWs to Latin America as well as to Madrid and Barcelona do extra effort (and spend money) to learn the language of Cervantes, for one, and of our national heroes: Rizal, Mabini, Jaena, Del Pilar, and Recto. Aside from being entertainingly informative, your piece takes as some time back as well as situates us where we are today re PDU30 re his struggling style of leadership. When will he stop thinking Davao and start behaving as Pres of the Philippines?