Last Monday, December 29, I wrote to the Office of the Court Administrator, Supreme Court, Manila (gist):
“I miss the days when the Supreme Court worked during the holiday season, e.g., Tactaquin v. Palileo, decided on September 29, 1967, unanimously, and motion for reconsideration, reversed, on December 29, 1967, unanimously. Lawyer, Justice Florenz Regalado (the Bedan holds the all-time bar exam record of 96.7%). Unanimous ruling, unanimous reversal, in Vol. 21 SCRA, which has four months of decisions, clear, today, only four days (or even as few as two, such as Vol. 712, Dec. 10-11, 2013), confusing pa at times (with so many separate opinions going every which way).
“A daughter, Lara, visiting from New York where she teaches, went to the POEA very early this morning [last Monday]; she was pleasantly amazed to find the head of office, Administrator Hans Cacdac, on the ball and working so early! Last week my staff could hardly verify anything anywhere because of parties in a country of party animals with the longest holiday season in the world. Last Monday, no work! Elsewhere, they take shelter from the rain, here we, mga batugan, sing and dance in it, for good or ill.
“Anyway, Juana Doe, a libel accused, has asked whether you have guidelines on penalties for defamation. She may write separately on whether no jail time being seemingly encouraged by the Supreme Court, would you have any guidelines on whether an RTC Judge may impose a travel bond of P1M, reduced to half (on a motion for reconsideration, still arguably oppressive?). This follows up a previous letter, copy enclosed.
“Thanks and happy new year, and for a better work ethic in this country of party animals, as in our Jurassic Age [the 60’s]. 75 na po ang inyong makulit na lingkod, persnickety still.
“cc: Offices of the Chief Justice
and Associate Justices, Teddy Te, Esq.
“P.S. My man just texted: “No court today, Makati.”
Susmaryosep! `Courts always open;’ Rule 135, Sec. 1.” Rules of Court.
Or supposed to be. But between Christmas and New Year in 1972, Manila CFI Judge Victoriano Savellano disposed of my first human rights case after the infliction of martial law the preceding September. The norm then. Today, no holiday hearings. Offices closed.
Do we see here the Indolence of the Filipino?
No wonder the Lenny Villa case remains hanging. He was killed in frat hazing on February 11, 1991. The case remains pending in the Supreme Court (SC), with a motion for reconsideration dated March 7, 2012 up in the air since, in People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 151258, and companion cases. Our Consolidated Comment for Zosimo Mendoza, dated July 23, 2012, we filed then.
For a decision, the SC is given two years by the Constitution. For a mere Resolution? Should be shorter, with more reason.
We said in our 2012 Comment, “. . . we must wonder whatever happened 1) to the desirable policy considerations, at the risk of possible occasional injustice, of stability, coherence and predictability in our system aching to mature, and more particularly, 2) to the multiple jeopardy Mendoza and Co. are being unfairly subjected to. Convicted by the trial court but acquitted here and in the Court of Appeals [more than a decade earlier], why is this case still pending? The poor victim [Lenny Villa], with whose kin we feel and share their unsayable pain, left for a better world on February 11, 1991, meaning this case is now on its third decade, in a dramatic demonstration of the ‘law’s delay’ of Hamlet.
“In an uncertain, imperfect world, injustice to individuals and families is unfortunate, but, to subject society at-large to endless litigation, presents its own set of trilemmas and tribulations. Mendoza deserves better, to rest, finally, in this case where again we see the validation of the Holmesian epigram that hard cases make bad law. The press has unfairly presented the accused as bad people but the welter of publicity should really be neither here nor there for we are all aware of the perils of trial and conviction by publicity.”
The Indolent Filipino must now prepare for a UN General Assembly session on decriminalizing ALL drugs, in 2016. See “It’s Time to End the Drug War – A major new report makes the case for decriminalizing illicit drugs – all of them.” Global notables like Jimmy Carter, George Shultz, Kofi Annan, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Ernesto Cedillo, Vicente Fox, Richard Branson, Mario Vargas Llosa, Felipe Gonzalez, et al., support decriminalization. Time, Sept. 29, 2014, p. 44. It may take time but there is momentum.
Some things may take forever. Like the search for the missing Malaysian aircraft, MH 370, since March 18, 2014, followed last Sunday by another airline AirAsia Indonesia QZ8501, found, at this writing. Desaparecidos do not today apply only to people, like the pasajeros, but also the eroplano pala. And where is Hermon Lagman (disappeared in the late 70’s)? Jonas Burgos (a decade or so ago)? No closure. Tough.
I lost my wife in 2007. Tough, or tougher. But, in a certain sense, there was closure. And, I see some continuum in that our four apos, eldest six, all have her lovely luxuriant long eyelashes. Bittersweet.
But, we have to let go sometime. Last Saturday, Justice Adolfo Azcuna and I were among those who eulogized Claro Mamaril in Bacoor. Claro was among the low-key Corona prosecutors. My former student, in 1971, he sold to me on very easy installment terms, his VW, with which he used to drive Adolf when the latter would go a-courting his would-be wife. In the US where he migrated, Claro quietly worked with Raul Daza and me in the anti-dictatorship struggle, before his sentimental journey home in 2009. “Home-going,” the Native American Indians would say. Now I see Samson Alcantara, also gone. Another Compañero, No. 3 in the bar exams (‘57), which Johnny Remulla also took (No. 4, ‘56).
Now, also gone. Condolences, to those who these gallant legal warriors left behind. I met both, ever so briefly and casually. Caballeros.
Have a better year, you hear. Or years.
In 2016, maybe Hans Cacdac, not an Indolent Filipino, for Senator? To join Gibo Teodoro, Alex Padilla, Leni Robredo, Joey Salceda, Tony Meloto, et al., to dilute the entry of sure Senatorial winner Manny Pacquiao, who should, I believe, run for Sarangani Guv instead. HPY, Manny. But do not dream of being PBA’s Rookie of the Year. But then, we never know. Stranger things have happened.