Governing and looking for common ground



MAY I thank Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony Gabriel La Viña for kindly appreciating our human rights lawyering efforts in his felicitous yearend Manila Standard column last Saturday. He is the son of Gabriel L. La Viña. Jr., a member of the San Beda law class of 1954, who passed the bar with a convincing 88.45 percent (!).

But, his classmate, Bobbit Sanchez, the first MABINI Boss chief and Prez Cory’s first labor minister, had an even more convincing 91.2 percent (!!). But, but, their magna classmates, Florenz D. Regalado, had 96.7percent and Bobby de la Fuente, 95.95 percent for an awesome 1-2 finish (!!!). Macoy claimed to have a higher grade but no one took his hyperbola seriously.

We just lost freedom fighter ex-Manila Hizzoner, Mel Lopez, 81, who was with us in fighting Macoy, our Ubermensch Hitler. Mel attended San Beda Grade School, 1950 when Ninoy Aquino was in San Beda Hi, 1948, which he blitzed in three years. Butz Aquino was in GS 1951. Digong Duterte, LLB 1972. All seen as Tsikboys. In Iglesia ni Duterte, several First Ladies, K na K. Were I to found Iglesia ni Saguisag, we’d compete for the Unhinged Mob. I may have to settle for crumbs.

Digong, a love-it-or-hate-it Marmite or Durian, after a rocky first semester, the bloodiest in our history following a presidential inauguration, should stop feuding and start governing as leader of 100 million plus rabbits, less governable than 1.5 million Davaoeños. It is not only Davao City he is to lead. We all need to look for common ground.

Understandably, there have been rookie errors, which might have been fewer had not Digong spent/wasted a lot of time travelling to Davao, out of the country (his new travel budget is P2.1 billion, up from P300 million!), and occasionally, out of this world. And cussing and acting on wrong info.

Did Veep Leni Robredo err in vacationing in the United States while a disaster occurred in her region? In the US, when Katrina struck, Prez Bush was hit while Veep Cheney hardly figured. The presidency is where the power is. She tried to coordinate matters from the US, given he wonders of modern communication. Our Veep is far weaker than the US’s and while Digong’s budget was raised humongously, Leni’s was even reduced. Anyway, lesson learned. The newbie is a quick study who is not entitled to Digong’s “private time?”

Digong says he kicked Robredo out of the Cabinet “for attending `ouster’ rallies” to kick him out. Huh? Joke again? When and where? Where does he get his info? Such audacious intriguing presence would have been widely reported and noted, all over the world. I have been to a number of rallies but have not seen her, save in the November 30, 2016 public gathering, in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani rites honoring those who opposed Martial Misrule. We honor in such affairs the memory of the likes of Digong’s Mom, who fearlessly led the rallies against martial misrule in Davao. The place also produced the likes of lawyers Zaf Respicio, Laurente Ilagan, Antonio Arellano, Marcos Risonar, et al., while Digong, like his Pa, was in bed with Macoy.

I see nothing wrong in a Cabinet member disagreeing openly with the Prez on such conscience issues as the death penalty and EJKs. Not even in foreign intervention or interference, or human rights.

On January 8, Sunday, there will be a late morning Mass in the Manila Cathedral co-organized by the Fazenda de Esperanza which sees in druggies valuable human material to be salvaged, not “salvaged” by EJK maniacs. I do not condemn, but commend, Italy and Brazil for the initiative.

Pre-Edsa 1986 (I do not recognize any other Edsa), I worked with Italy’s PIME (Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere or the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), an Italian religious order based in Zamboanga, as I understood it, to help prosecute the weirdo Maneros in Kidapawan, together with state prosecutor Tirso Velasco, Bishop Orlando Quevedo, and FLAG’s Greg Andolana and the late Sol Jubillan. I was in my early 40s and taking the two a.m. Bulilit flight to Davao and the two-hour bus ride to Kidapawan meant nothing to me then. (They’d matter now, and how.)

The paramilitary Maneros had EJKed Italian Fr. Tulio Favali. (There would be two more martyrs from this group gloriously meant to pakialam in foreign missions.) The rural legend though that the Maneros ate the brains of the deceased was not true—but, that the patriarch shot to death a son who had disrespected (nilapastangan) his mother, who was then buried in the silong of their house over which was the dinner table, was.

The administration credits the less raucous New Year’s rites to the Fear of Duterte; better if it was Faith in Duterte. People should preferably not have to fear a leader nor for their safety because of the illegal, and indeed, unconstitutional, Operation Tokhang, trashing the human and constitutional rights to privacy and not to speak. Shades of the Inquisition.

Traffic Digong should now focus on, to make it bearable, in Metro Manila (and Cebu). No point in cussing the Pope. Corruption should also get some attention; it is reducible but impossible to eradicate completely. It is done by improving work conditions, better, adequate pay, with pension and health care programs, not threats, of which we hear a lot, but not of positive initiatives. We cannot just EJK scofflaw pedestrians and drivers, and petty crooks. Of course, if Bato de la Rosa’s Pulis Patolas, or vigilantes, EJK some lawmaker, Cabinet member, justice or judge, taipan, and the like from the elite, there would be an impact but it would still be wrong, a sin and a crime.

Bribery has been with mankind for more than 4,000 years, and hard to deal with today in an overworked, overcriticized, underpaid and under-appreciated bureaucracy; so unlike when we were young, when values, institutions and processes mattered, at a time when the cost of living was low and affordable. Honor was treasured.

There must be due process, of course. Of the thousands Digong has named and shamed in the past semester, how many will undergo some probe, which should include verifying if the one condemned is not dead? Such unkind unfair sloppiness, to blacken the memory of one very very dead, like a judge who can no longer defend himself (as he was assassinated nine Januarys ago).

The killing of innocents has been dismissed as collateral damage–of the poor, not worthy of being visited and condoled with personally and being compensated, a grave failure of Congress and the Prez. Sapagka’t sila’y mga dukha lamang unable to stage a coup? Senate Prez Koko Pimentel and Speaker Bebot Alvarez should look at another human rights compensation bill, entitled “An Act to indemnify collateral damage victims,” as a matter of plain and simple justice, a form of sincere poignant recantation. The Prez is pledged to do justice to everyone, including impoverished victims deprived of their right to life and dignity.

We cannot have another blood-soaked semester, traceable to cops and soldiers who will soon get higher pay, but there is no money for SSS pensioners and the rest of the bureaucracy, priority being given to the President’s travel budget, which has jumped at least seven times! It’s not the only bloated item, as the Power of Purse is apparently now with the one who wields the Power of the Sword.

As candidate and Prez-elect and Prez Cory spokesperson, what or who I could not believe in, I would have found “incredible.” This administration would use “incredulous,” as it finds Matobato’s detailed narrative. I would have preferred “incredible,” to lessen the confusion in this Reign of Terror and Error. Those in the Palace should have a passion for precision in expression, not only for kulasisis.

See you on Sunday at the Cathedral. Stand up for life and dignity. No ousting anyone! But, police intelligence may again be self-cancelling or a contradiction in terms.

Instead we will pray in particular for journalist Monica Feria, who we lost to cancer last December 30. Joker Arroyo, who would have marked another birth anniv yesterday, and I, saw in her a gutsy, professional, fair and balanced writer during the dark years. Ergo, another Freedom Fighter.


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  1. when the youth see saguisag, we think, this guy talks alot about his heroics but still, after martial law, we as a nation stinks as ever. now that the youth voted the person that we think could change that, he criticize him more than marcos. shut up!!! you have your change and you failed

  2. Yonkers, New York
    06 January 2016

    Thank you, Senator and gifted Human Rights “Abogado de Campanilla” Rene Saguisag for another entertaining

    and enlightening column and, for psychotic Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte and his sychopantic minions, another

    instructive lesson in civilized as distinguished from barbaric governance.