It is plain wrong to mark September 21, 1972 as the notorious Day of Infamy. For me it was just another day in the office.
As head of the San Beda Free Legal Aid Clinic, I monitored from my Mendiola office a rally in Plaza Miranda, that Thursday, just in case I’d need to rush over. Ka Pepe Diokno, Charito Planas, Bal Pinguel, et al.. spoke.
September 22, Friday, ho-hum, again, save that on my way home that night from San Beda, to our rented Sandejas, Pasay City apartment, my Beetle radio announced the spurious ambush of Manong Johnny Ponce Enrile, who admitted the falsehood on February 22, 1986.
44 Septembers ago, when Macoy (Marcos) inflicted martial law, the following describes how I felt as an uhugin lawyer and saw other panyeros/as like –
“The German lawyer [who]was . . .particularly prepared to accept as `law’ anything that called itself by that name, was printed at government expense and seemed to come `von oben herab.” L. Fuller, Positivism and Fidelity to Law – A Reply to Professor Hart, 71 Harv. L. Rev. 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.
Tañada, Diokno, Salonga, Ordoñez, Garchitorena, Arroyo, Gonzalez (Raul), Bobbit Sanchez, et al. were grossly outnumbered by the Fil-German types, as the ramparts fell with little struggle. So newbies such as the Jojo Binays, Odie Melchors, By Bocars, Ed Araullos, Boy Ellas, Jimmy Malanyaons, Jun Factorans, Boyet Fernandezes, Hessie Mallilins, and a few others, including myself, tried to fill in the breach. Macoy failed to heed the advice in Shakespeare’s Henry VI on what take-over plotters should do: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” in supreme tribute to those who would ask the foolish questions of the day, and hang the costs and consequences, and not let the ramparts fall without any struggle. (Of course St. Ives was a lawyer and yet became a saint, and the people were astonished.)
Ka Pepe organized the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), after being detained from 1972 to 1974 without being charged! I joined. In 1980, some of us who thought lawyers should take public stands aside from traditional lawyering, formed MABINI (Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism Inc.) but kept our warm ties with FLAG and iconic Ka Pepe. I am among the relics and antiques left, MD, Masamang Damo, marching again to the beat of a different drummer (Thoreau), taking the less traveled road (Frost), sailing against the wind (the Kennedys), and asking “why not?” while seeing things that never were (others may ask “why”, seeing things that are – GB Shaw).
We are now forming a new group, with new blood, while we watch what the quiet Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Philippine Bar Association, the Philconsa, the big bufetes, and others will do in the wake of the extrajudicial executions far exceeding what happened in late 1972. Population reduced violently by 3,000 in weeks!
In the late 1980s we were delighted to gain vocal support from interlopers President Jimmy Carter, State Assistant Secretary Patricia Derian, Amnesty International, atbp. Pakialameros/as.
In 1986, alien interference was capped by divine intervention. The world was shocked and awed by People Power, which saw the nearly bloodless end of the reign of a kleptocratic gross human rights violator who Digong idolizes and would now want him to rest with heroes. Digong should consult FVR, who the Marcoses put one over on, in 1993.
I am on the side of fellow Bedan Leila de Lima against fellow Bedans Vit Aguirre (our hardworking colleague in the case of Hubert Webb) and Digong Duterte (with whose courageous principled Mom I marched in Davao after Ninoy was “salvaged”). I was flabbergasted to see Vit acting like the Speaker or committee chair of the House he seemed to own last Tuesday. Usually, outside counsel is not much more than part of the furniture, while the elected lawmakers dominate and scintillate.
Of course litigators walk through with their witnesses on their testimony. And no lawyer should ask a question the answer to which he doesn’t already know, particularly on cross. Trial Technique 101.
Speaker Bebot Alvarez, who may or may not remember me, is sounding like a Certified Tuta.
Vit and Digong should stop naming and shaming people and instead just file cases against them, particularly the wealthy and well-connected. Not enough to increase the body count of the poorest of the poor who should be rehabbed, with better planning. Packed prisons depress and convert humans into brutes.
I am comfortable with underdogs. Sen. Dick Gordon took ousted Leila’s place. I trust him if only because ang hambog galit sa kapwa hambog. He can stand up to Digong, on principle. When Erap kicked Dick around so needlessly in 1998, I assisted him against my canvassing client Erap. Dick told me that some Jesuit taught him that “in this world, the world laughs with you but, you weep alone.” As a human being, Christian and lawyer, I say, “If you need me and you have no one else, you’ll never walk and weep alone. I’ll walk and weep with you,
if you will allow me.” When Erap fell from overdog to underdog, I finally heeded his request to join his legal team. I walked and wept with him, along with his friends and wives. I entered my appearance and joined his formidable battery but an accused goes to bat with two strikes against him. Like beleaguered Sen. Leila. Hang in there, Lei! I admire your moral stamina. Let’s see what Vit will do with the names you supplied as elements of the alleged Davao Death Squad.
There is no substitute for due process and no hardline bloody policy has succeeded anywhere in the world. If there is money to be made, the failed drug policy won’t erase trafficking in which Dona Josefa Marcos engaged while teaching in Arellano High School, and arrested by top cop Telesforo Tenorio, according to Tibo Mijares in the Conjugal Dictatorship. Tibo disappeared while his teenaged son, Boyet, was sadistically “salvaged.”
I see a ray of hope in Imee’s seeking forgiveness for her Pop’s abuses and am appalled by Bongbong’s insult of the human rights victims as only after money. No wonder, poor unknown Leni G. Robredo beat him, and fellow Bicolanos Alan (by marriage), Chiz, Gringo and Sonny, splitting the votes with the Oragons while billionaire BB had his Solid North. Feisty Leila is also Bicolana.
The voters could have chosen a Healing President. But a plurality preferred a Killing One, who gives the rich due process but spares few in unkind naming and shaming. Traffic, after 80 days of Digong is much worse in Metro Manila. What if he and Bato de la Rosa execute ten “resisting” scofflaw drivers? A remedy worse than the disease.
Vit Aguirre can just file charges, if he has the evidence, against Lei and others named and shamed. He should recall how our common client, Hubert Webb, was named and shamed, tried and convicted by publicity, early on, and spent more than 15 years in jail for something I then said I’d carry to my grave he did not commit. He was thousands of miles away but the hooting throng carried the day.
Obsta principiis. Resist the first encroachments.
Oh, yes, kudos to Ted Locsin, who may share with Digong a liking for the dirty finger sign, but the communications guys can always explain they only mean to say, “You are No. 1.” The spin I gave in 1986, if my memory is true.