Grades and grading


JUSTICE Florenz D. Regalado, 87, is gone. He set the bar exam record grade of 96.7, followed by classmate Bobby de la Fuente, with 95.95, in 1954. Flor’s record may stand till the end of time

There was supposed to be a funeral Mass at 9:00 a.m. today, Friday, in the Mendiola Abbey Church where his remains were brought yesterday afternoon; however, daughter Nitz told me last Tuesday in the Supreme Court (SC) necro, today’s San Beda Mass was uncertain. Last night was the necro in San Beda, where he would be from 3-9 pm. This morning, at 8:00 am, the final requiem Mass, in Arlington.

Last Tuesday, among those I reconnected in the SC was my pre-law buddy, Justice Romy Callejo (ret.). He should, I think, be among the speakers last night, along with my townsman, Pasig Catholic College high school valedictorian. Romy, Roger Panotes and Sev de Guzman were also high school valedictorians like the two.I was an ordinary Rizal Hi Sec. 1 grunt.

I played hookey in early 1955, as a Rizal Hi senior. In Quiapo, Eddie Sanchez, our would-be valedictorian, saw the results of the 1954 bar blared by the afternoon papers. He was curious about how his brother, Bobbit, had fared. Bobbit, who we got Prez Cory to name as Labor Minister, was our first MABINI Chair (her orig choice had to be replaced cuz, per the urban legend, she said, “I cannot proceed with your appointment, sorry.” “Why po, ma’m?” “I learned you have 57 children.” “Ma’m, 43 lang po.”) Bobbit got only 91.2. I decided to attend San Beda cuz of Flor, Bobby and Bobbit. Also, from Pasig to Legarda, 15 centavos. Beyond, 20. Another makeweight.

Last we talked a decade or so ago, Flor again told me his answer to a bar criminal law question on estafa was miscorrected and that eventually, he got the Justice-Examiner to concede his point. For crying out loud! I tell my studes, “you get 96.71%, breaking Flor’s record, and detect a seeming miscorrection, take it, let go, not to grouse or bitch anymore.”

Flor, named after Florenz Ziegfield, the famed Broadway impresario, told me his boyish hope and dream was to be an elevator operator.

Bobby I asked in 1986 if I could recommend him to Prez Cory as a Supreme Court Justice. He declined (as I did in January 1987 when handed a signed SC appointment I had not sought). Flor was busy as a ConCom Delegate in 1986; I suggested his elevation to the SC in 1988 and was successful, to the nation’s everlasting benefit.

In September 1967, in Tactaquin v. Palileo, Flor lost in the Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote. He moved to reconsider. On December 27, 1967 he won, unanimously. The entire Court changed its mind.

In 1967, the SC worked between Christmas and New Year. Trial courts heard motions Saturday mornings. Last Dec. 22 all our courts closed, not to reopen until January 5, 2015. Vol. 21 of SCRA carried the two Tactaquin rulings, comprising seven pages. It carried four months of decisions, today, four days of loooong decisions.

As law juniors, we made bulakbol to attend our December 8 Immaculate Conception fiesta in Pasig. He gave all of us five’s, save Jess Regalado Cornago, his nephew, who he graded with two five’s. He could be just, to a fault. He who is merely just, is severe. (Uncle Flor could be severe. Poor Jess. And “thank you, Justice Flor, for your edifying wisdom and celestial ethical standards. No one made lakad with you. Anyone wanting to see you must make an appointment through daughter, Panyera Nitz. You would call me very, very occasionally to chit-chat but we never talked about any pending case.” For “erudition“– a word ‘71 Bedan law alum SC Justice Bambit Mendoza used in his eulogy last Tuesday – and ethics, I’d grade Flor higher than his bar mark.

Retired Justice Bernie Pardo also extolled Flor.

Everyone’s grading PNoy. I give him an 80, not higher, given our differences on his Truth Commish (singling out GMA), EDCA with the U.S. (bypassing the Senate), the appointment of a police general to head the human rights compensation board (insane running an asylum but fait accompli and we can live with it; operative fact, nandyan na ‘yan), etc.

We have seen or heard the comments on last Monday’s SONA. Predictable. The bashers and the praisers merely rearranged their prejudices, on what has been minimized and degraded to a fashion show at a time of want. Macoy banned the society page early on when he inflicted martial law. A plus. It’s back with a vengeance, page one even. A minus. I cannot imagine the New York or Financial Times with such garbage, front page even; not a report about iconic public servant J. Flor, save in this paper.

Here, what we have is the State of the Nation’s Apparel.

Mamasapano, against PNoy? How often should he mention it given our regular, even daily, losses to the NPA, Muslims and criminals? JFK lost a few servicemen in the Bay of Pigs (and many Cubans) in 1961. So did Carter in Tehran in 1984 in an attempt to rescue 52 diplomats. Reagan, hundreds in Beirut in 1983. Clinton, fewer than 20 in Mogadishu, Somalia (Black Hawk Down). In all, poor intelligence by a wealthy, sophisticated country (we’re backwater). Bush, Sr. lost a few in Iraq in 1991 but his son, Dubya, lost many more in Iraq, beginning in 2003, and counting. War is hellish.

So, no US Prez has been sued for combat failures. Prezs answer to history, not to any court, on judgment calls. Not that they are immune. JFK was sued in 1962 by a Senator in a vehicular incident, affecting the latter’s ability to ride a donkey. The court rejected the plea of immunity and JFK had to pay $17,500. Nixon paid $140,000 to settle the Ernest Fitzgerald damage suit. Clinton paid Paula Jones $850,000 to buy peace in a sexual harassment suit. A busy US Prez cannot claim immunity, much less a virtually idle Veep, who only presides over the Senate and votes in case of ties in the US, where Veep Aaron Burr was prosecuted for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804.

Be it noted that Burr, JFK, Nixon and Clinton were sued for killing, traffic violation, harassment and sexual abuse, not in the job description of a Prez or Veep. Mamasapano was a judgment call that bagged Marwan and Usman. Others see the hole in the donut; I see the dough.

PNoy will answer to history as to what he has done in his watch to help rebuild the institutions, values and processes the Marcoses mangled and ruined. He gets the BBL and FOI passed, 85%.

Bantam Flor and big PNoy could be dismissed as lightweights. Ampaws. Both are in fact heavyweights as many have found out, to their grief or delight.  I am not unhappy.

I doubt if Erap or Manny could have made me happier, with all due respect.


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  1. Federico Lojo on

    Dear Atty. Saguisag,
    Pardon me for my ignorance. But what I cannot understand is why you have to compare the Mamasapano tragedy to other nation’s bungled rescue operation. To begin with, Mamasapano was never a rescue operation but an order to serve a warrant. What happened happened due to mishandling of the man on the top. I believe p-noy is responsible.
    Thank you very much.

    Federico Infante Lojo

  2. “Prezs answer to history, not to any court, on judgment calls.”

    Except for Ferdinand Marcos, Atty. Saguisag?