• Joker, Jimmy, Leni, Lei and Tatti



    LAST November 30, looking at the names of the latest additions in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani roster, I was incredulous at, and could not believe, the absence of Joker Arroyo’s name. He passed away on October 5, 2015.

    I dunno, but it must have been his wish not to be nominated, in the same manner that he did not want Senate recognition and honors; none of the traditional necro rites when he died last year.

    Recall or contrast him with the insecure Marcoses whose patriarch must divide us even from the grave.

    For Joker, who may have handled the highest number of human rights cases in our history, starting even before martial law, public service is its own recognition and reward. Amen. My guru. That was why it was easy for me to decline, very quickly, in minutes, a signed appointment to the Supreme Court he handed to me in late January1987 (and so many other offers of Prez Cory). Many elders were more deserving. I was 47 then.

    After FVR won, he called at dawn–whatta work ethic–and offered me a position (chairmanship of the Human Rights Commission). I also quickly declined. Being once an Accidental Public Servant, for six years, sufficed, in my view.

    I was among Erap’s election lawyers in 1998. However, we quickly parted ways when he let it be known that he was for moving Macoy from the Ilocos to the Libingan (and for kicking out Dick Gordon in the SBMA; Dick was ready to give up the post after some trivial token ceremony sana).

    The predictable continuing outcry against the recent Marcosian move must have convinced the scheming Marcoses to do their thing on the sly last month. So, unlike the way Fidel Castro is being “waked” before burial, open and public (if controversial, to some).

    During our time in the Cabinet, when we were the government (no Congress yet), Joker had spirited debates with another member who I also regarded very highly, Jimmy V. Ongpin, who left us the way he did (on Dec. 7, 1986), validating, as we see now, the truism of Mark Twain’s observation that there is only one distinctly American criminal class–Congress, seeing the way it conducts inquiries in aid of something we cannot fathom. Forgetting purposes is the most common form of stupidity, said Nietszche (who considered a day lost when he didn’t dance at least once).

    There was creative tension in our 1986 Cabinet, which to me was not bad; democracy it was, not just Utos ni Meyor. LikeMeyorDigong may not have outgrown his parochial alcalde mentality. He may not want decriminalized medical marijuana use discussed, for instance.

    California made it legal for individuals to grow and use marijuana for personal use last November 9. Here, Mary Jane can mean a long stretch in Muntinlupa, to the delight of extortionists. California is the state of the Golden State Warriors, whose successful coach, Steve Kerr, has just acknowledged his use of it to kill pain. Colombia recently legalized medical marijuana and looks to exporting it north of the border. Cong. Rudito Albano’s bill deserves support, for less pain and more jobs. But, Meyor Digs may find it hard to reconsider and instead his boys may EJK our Steve Kerrs.

    Speaker Bebot Alvarez of the House should welcome creative tension, instead of blasting Veep Leni Robredo’s resignation from the Cabinet, to me, a class act. She remains Veep, of course.

    Fired by text? When Prez Cory fired Manong JPE on a Sunday afternoon, amid discombobulating coup talks, she had the decency to ask him to go to the Palace on November 23, 1986 and politely told him at 2 p.m. to look for another job. The conversation took 15 minutes. At 3 p.m., after having done the right thing, in the right way, at the right time and for the right reason, she stood up to go to the main building to address the nation on radio-TV. We had hailed the Chief and clapped, and clapped and clapped. Mga sipsip? We had all submitted our courtesy resignations earlier. Baka tanggapin, ha, ha.

    The case of TattiLicuanan, a dear friend and Most Outstanding Student of 1962, will see her stopping attending Cabinet meets but will commendably continue to be CHEd head. But, of course. “To the victors belong the spoils” would damage and even wreck the civil service. Jurassic. The best thinking of long, long ago.

    She was supposed to be replaced by one who visited Digong in Davao at a time when I feared that should I have gone down there, an appointment to some position may be like the French Legion of Honor, a distinction impossible to escape. It was also possible some of Digong’s tutas may EJK me though.

    If I don’t agree to be arrested, that is not resisting arrest as a justification to dispatch me where Digs might probably tell me to go, aside from telling me what he thinks of me and my mother (I think very highly of his, a fellow marcher against Macoy). It is only when I, 77 years old, with a cane, attack someone credibly with some weapon that legit self-defense claim may hold. Not much I can do with my HurryCane save blind one with its flashlight; I may be disabled, but not killed. Dead Men Tell No Tales? But what tales would I have? I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t take drugs. No minor vice.

    Of course, one can remain in the Cabinet without being a tuta, not Digong’s preference though. Tuition fee increase not stopped by Tatti? Sad, but government, the wealthy in business, and among the alums, should be more generous. I wonder where Harvard would be were it subjected to tuition fee limits. I recall I was able to roam the sacred precincts of Harvard Yard, thanks to the Ford Foundation, and to go there, thanks to Fulbright and Asia Foundation travel grants.

    Bedans Manny Pangilinan, DandingCojuangco, Andrew Gotianun and the Villaraza Bros., to name a few, have been generous to San Beda. All of them, or their heirs, stand for certain things, like quality education.

    Does Bato de la Rosa stand for anything other than his own personal interests? He disappointed by not standing his ground in disciplining police officer Marvin Marcos who was ordered reinstated by Digong. ‘Cuz of the name, Marcos? A PNP chief we have who, if ordered by Digs to jump out of the window, would ask, “from what floor po, Meyor?” Bato seems to be, asking rhetorically who he was to question a superior order. A barnacle clinging to his post where Manny Pacquiao can give his family an all-expenses-paid trip to the US to watch him fight. ScofflawsBato and Manny ought to read PD 46 and RA 6713 and understand the meaning of the laws. And then, there is delicadeza. Of course, Digs won’t order the arrest of Manny, a candidate for BIR’s Poster Boy for unpaid taxes, a serious matter.

    I recall this administration proposing early on that Manny just pay P1 billion to settle his alleged arrears but nothing has happened and the same may now be P4billion. Natcherly, he has to continue making sipsip to avoid the treatment given bloodied but unbowed Leila de Lima. Attagirl!

    To be disbarred for immorality? Disbarment is supposed to be confidential until final judgment. And what Leila admits, Digong flaunts. Both have annulled marriages though.

    Indeed, Digs cannot order anyone like Jack Lam arrested without due process. Only a judge can, after judicial determination of probable cause following a preliminary investigation by public prosecutors. An arrest search and seizure order may work as part of the martial law apparatus. But are we under martial law now? Or a police state? Where is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines? The Philconsa? The big firms? Los abogados de campanilla?

    “It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And so, while we are concerned here with a shabby [druggie], we must deal with his case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed [in the Constitution].” United States v. Rabinowitz , 339 U.S. 56, 59 (1950). J. Frankfurter.

    Digs should try to recall why his mother fought Marcos. And analyze why Solid North billionaire veteran Bongbong, with name recall and national organization, lost to neophyte Leni Robredo, of fragmented Bicol, and would take the bus going to and from Bicol. But, thanks to the kapalmuks and the sneaky burial, millennials now know what they had not known known before November 18, when the Marcoses buried Macoy in a surreptitious, shameful and scandalous manner, as authorized by Digong. Wink, wink. Si Macoy mandarambong at walang pagpitagan sa karapatang pantao pala, they now know.

    Of course, the Supreme Court majority was right. Macoy was not a figure of pure evil. Hitler is credited for the Volkswagen. And Mussolini supposedly made the trains run on time. But, are they remembered today for such positives?

    The other day I remember as that day I left Palanan, Makati at 4-sh p.m. in an effort to catch the last quarter of the La Salle-Ateneo title game atAraneta-Smart; I had to turn around at 5-sh ‘cuz we had reached only Edsa-Ayala, crawling, and I just watched the dying minutes on TV, at home. I also read the accounts on the pro NBI coming out with findings on the Espinosa EJK. There’s hope in this rookie team of D Meyor, who said he would go to jail with Marcos. He should ameliorate, not anarchize.

    Am I Yellow? But of course, but I am also Red White and Blue. Even Polka Dot. Por Patria Adorada.


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    1. your past your prime rene, i adolized you during marcos time but when you hitched erap’s wagon i lost all respect that i have for you!

    2. what about the shortcomings of the two aquino presidencies especially of the son? if there is worse than worst pnoy administration would have been that.i’ll name just 2 that made me lost
      all my respect for this man – mamasapano & yolanda victims.problem with you is you are full of biases not seeing the evils of the 2 aquino administrations yet seeing only your perceived evil of the current administration.until you give a fair account of these administrations, past & present i’ll always consider you yellow-do not delude yourself that you are red & white & blue or even polkadot unless you are rid of your biases….

    3. “He may not want decriminalized medical marijuana use discussed, for instance.”
      How did you know? Somebody should bring it up. But no one with stature, not even you, I suppose, would openly stake himself and be known as someone who proposed to decriminalize marijuana.

    4. Normally your columns are good. But, today it rambled on about so many things. I missed the point of it all.

    5. Nope, you are just plain unadulterated yellow coryista. Cant blame you, tis hard to teach old dogs new tricks. They just lie with their master.

    6. Simple Rene, Pnoy squandered government fund and resources as well as Yolanda funds to put your naive new saint Santa Leni-loko to the pedestal of dirty politics!fair and square this Leni would not able to win…and after JPE resigned the late Joker Arroyo approched him just to tell him that Cory will let go of his hidden wealth, santa cory that is selective persecution..and before you demonised Marcos again and again and again, please put even one of his family members on jail for fairness sake!!In that way all your words will be sensible enough to read!!???