When Harry met Rody

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RENE SAGUISAG

OUR newspapers should have someone like Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times, when reporting or commenting on an item with a legal dimension. Too often, for instance, local media misreport a motion for reconsideration (before the same court) as an appeal (to a higher court.)

Even legal thriller novelist John Grisham, a lawyer who writes so well, might need a tighter editor. I have enjoyed in particular his novels with a sports angle, such as Calico Joe (baseball, 2012) and Playing for Pizza (American pro football, 2007). I was incredulous to see John seemingly commit what we here often do: “The fact that [quarterback]Rick was now a fugitive added a level of daring and romance that the Italians found irresistible. In a country where laws are flaunted and those who flaunt them are often glamorized, the pursuit by the police was the dominant topic whenever two or more [Parma] Panthers got together.” (page 221, paperback.) It seems to me “flaunted,” often misused here, should be “flouted.” But, who am I to correct a native English speaker who writes so well?

“Subornation of perjury” is to induce to perjure. But, a statement attributed to a Supreme Court justice’s staff supposedly stated “subordination or perjury.” (Philippine Star, October 27, 2017, p. 2.) Susmariano po naman! Typo po malamang. I am incredulous that such a high-level staff would commit such an egregious lapse.

Marcos birth date misstated
A newspaper’s copyreader or ombudsman should also ban any further misstatement that Ferdinand E. Marcos was born on September 11, 1917. It should be 1916. I have a copy of his birth certificate, affirming what he said under oath in a Honolulu court in 1986, as I recall it. Kim Lumagbas, a San Beda Alabang Law stude of mine produced Macoy’s birth certificate, echoed by seven others. ABS-CBN should get part of the credit for publishing that fact in 1998, thanks to Melvin dela Cuesta. Indeed, if anyone can show me a Macoy birth certificate carrying 1917, I will eat it.

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The Philippine Postal Corp. has to be probed by the Ombudsman, Department of Justice and the Commission on Audit for falsifying history and wasting government funds on a commemorative stamp for the kleptocrat/human rights violator. The year 2017 is not his centennial, but his 101st birth anniversary. Next time I visit the burial ground of my late father-in-law at Libingan ng Mga Bayani, I just may consider trying to go visit Apo’s resting place and see if the epitaph says: HERE A LAWYER LIES STILL, found in an Irish cemetery.

The destruction of our values, institutions and processes that Macoy accelerated in the 1960s-1980s, following World War 2, when we still had vestiges of old-fashioned delicadeza and palabra de honor, continues full blast today. Let’s hope new presidential spokesman Harry Roque will demonstrate a better command of language than Meyor/Prez Rody himself, Martin Andanar and Sal Panelo, with their rather constipated vocabulary. Thus, the regrettable resort to kabastusan. Too bad urbane Ernesto Abella had to be let go. No room for the non-lawyer’s urbanidad. Now, a Digong, Jr., sa kahambugan? But, I hope Harry regards me as a friend; recall Napoleon advising not to disrupt an enemy making a mistake.

Harry’s hollow blocks
I was candidate, Prez-elect and Prez Cory’s echo. I would tell the Palace Brat Pack, “that is what I was told to say, I am not allowed to think here, puede ba, next question,” and we’d would move on. Brilliant creative Teddy Boy Locsin, another presidential echo, was on his own when he made the inelegant “You’re No. 1” gesture with his right middle finger. Muy pillo.

Cory had breeding and elegance, previously required or expected of our officials, particularly high ones. (I made her lose her temper only once, when I remarked in early December 1989, at the height of a coup, that Senate Prez Salonga was right: there was a perception of her double captivity, by the military and the US. When I got home, my wife at once barked, “ano yung itinawag ni Cory that between her and Uncle Jovy, atbp.”; double captivity I was in, by two women I cherished.) Mar Roxas got it when once he used “PI!” That Digong is not getting it for far cruder lingo galore suggests we may be decaying faster than seems possible. The cycle is savagery, civilization and decay.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me? But, words can hurt too, and the new presidential mouthpiece is shopping for hollow blocks, to throw at us, making us cower in fear. We are cowards pretending not to be so.

If a farmer, after failing to get justice for a daughter raped by an hacendero, throws a stone at the system, I find it hard to believe that Harry saidto throw a hollow block at the peasant. Many who join the NPA are poor, with unredressed grievances, as the law too often represents the biases of the ruling classes. I am glad that mercurial Digong could sound more conciliatory, last we heard.

Constitutional right not to speak
A senator was quoted here last Sunday as saying “senators won’t allow suspects to invoke their right against self-incrimination without a valid reason.” Our Constitution does not work in the Senate? “Valid reason” enough for me, the human and constitutional right not to speak. It seems to me suspects can just cite the Bill of Rights (Artikulo III, name of our new lawyers’ group). Most any lawyer’s first advice to any suspect is to “shut up,” which the Constitution protects, while the defense attorney tries to build the strongest possible defense under the laws of the land.

To entice a suspect to talk, not to his own perdition, he should be offered effective immunity which only a court, I believe, can grant. The legislative committee on a proper vote should go to some court which would cooperate as a co-worker in government, the US praxis. Congress cannot usurp a judicial function in exempting one from prosecution.

Yes, where in the Constitution is Congress given the power to detain because someone is not aiding it in doing its job–legislation? What law does the Senate have in mind that they now need the aid of harassed, terrorized and bullied laymen anyway? Intimidation and terrorism our public servants should shy away from. Forgetting purposes is the most common form of innocence, to paraphrase Nietzsche. Guests or resource persons should never be identified by the Senate as “suspects,” more proper in a police stationhouse, where the mantra begins with, “you have the right to remain silent, . . .”

The justice secretary should not usurp the judicial function of a court in granting immunity, either. He can only ask some court, not impose on it, per Sec. 7 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.

Lawmakers and Cabinet members should study, instead of joining us in having to spend too much time in traffic, taking pixes/selfies and watching basketball games where we cannot be world-class and have to import players and even coaches. Josme po naman. What time is left for productive effort seen in the progressive countries?

This is 2017, not the Middle Ages or the period of the cruel Inquisition. Lawmakers should legislate for our people, and not flagellate, guests.

For instance, last week an “exclusive club” admitted me (with two others). When I asked for the check, I saw it was for P1,800. I tendered P2,000, in cash. It was rejected, along with my senior citizen’s card (only a credit card would do). Paging Romy Macalintal. Is remedial legislation needed on what is meant by “legal tender” in exclusive plutocratic enclaves where I obviously don’t belong? Congress should study my plaint.

Romy and I wish our pal, Harry Roque, well, in the bowels of labyrinthine serpentine Malacañang. We count on him having a broader vocabulary than what Digong Duterte, Sal Panelo and Mart Andanar have shown so far. Harry should say whoa, whoa to our napakadaldal na Pangulo. Be real, not plastic. Huwag magtaksil sa kanyang kauri.

I am reminded of the film “When Harry Met Sally”; there, Meg Ryan moaned and faked an orgasm in a resto, prompting another woman to tell the waiter she wanted whatever Meg had ordered. (There was a town known as Sexmoan in Pampanga, now Sasmuan.)

Tradition an incurable social vice
Teka, teka, this is a family newspaper nga pala. Our family’s Undas is on the 8th, next week, when I mark a decade of my being an Unmerry Widower. No gridlock, or less, by then, when we will troop to Manila Memorial. I believe it was Gen. Mon Farolan who more than once wisely suggested that we go on birth or death anniversaries, instead of overcrowding on November 1.

Tradition? As I recall reading in Selecciones de Reader’s Digest decades ago, a tradition is a social vice that has become incurable (la tradiciones un vicio social que se ha vuelto incurable). Undas in my youth in Pasig we associated with stealing chickens. Now, larceny could be for purloining P50 million, less a thou, for bailable graft, instead of non-bailable plunder, for Digong’s frat brods. But, of course innocence is presumed, save apparently in Congress and Malacañang, the graveyard of the Bill of Rights for critics, who should now ready themselves for Harry’s hollow blocks.

What a hollow blockhead Halloween idea for governance. But, I support Digong on the Balangiga Bells. Also, on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and here Senator Leila joins us. Kudos, Lei, for deserving the “Prize for Freedom,” a feat you share with Prez Cory, who told me in December 1989, “from now on, things won’t be hunky-dory,” and proceeded to make sumbong to my ever-loving Dulce.

See you on the 8th, my luv.

Late-breaker, your Red Sox, our apo Tres’ Indians and my Yankees, will all have to wait till next year. Just moidered, 5-1, dem Bums of Los Angeles, by Houston, in whose Astrodome I saw a game way back in 1967, which was when first we met.

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