• Joker, the teacher, remembered

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    RENE SAGUISAG

    Yesterday, October 5, was Joker P. Arroyo’s second death anniversary. How he is sorely missed by some of us in our tiny human rights community, to which quarrelsome divisive cantankerous Prez Digong gives no importance, judging by his Kill-Pa-More population reduction program. A healing unifier, he seems not.

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    From Joker we learned many things, like not standing on ceremony. He did not even want an hour or two in the Senate to observe a hallowed necrological tradition. He was a teacher in a real sense; he taught, by example, on how to stand on principle. Pleasant memories of military commissions and Supreme Court orals galore. Watching him was like peering over Juan Luna’s shoulders while the latter was painting.

    Blessed with excellent teachers

    Yesterday was also World and Philippine Teachers’ Day. Henry Brooks Adams said a teacher affects eternity. How true, in my case, from my teachers at Makati Elem in 1946-1951 (accelerated, so I am a K-9 product, blessed with excellent teachers). “Grammar is a matter of hearing,” Mrs. Flora Cenidoza would stress.

    Refined at Rizal High, where Mrs. Maria Pineda taught us discipline. In San Beda, one is told to be like a music lover, jarred by a sour note hearing some grammatical infelicity, and so on and so forth. When I applied for admission in 1967 into Harvard Law, in my rinky-dink manual typewriter, I gave it fair warning to welcome me into the sacred precincts of Harvard Yard or someday it would be, ha, ha, sorry.

    The yabang I got from the kanto, but then Reggie Jackson said, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.” Joe McMicking bragged about how he gentrified Makati when we met in 1968, in San Francisco, at the law firm I summer-clerked in. One lore is that when asked how he raised the about $10 million—remember, 1968 values—needed for a project in Spain, he sniffed: “When you have it, you don’t raise it.”

    But, I remember best his gracious parting shot, following an awkward start, that if at any time I needed help, he was just a phone call away. I am glad that the Ayalas just honored him with a McMicking Courtyard. Shall we rename Makati Avenue as McMicking Avenue next? To me, he was another teacher.
    Maestros/maestras, maraming salamat po.

    How sad that in 1978, after the Laban Metro Manila elections, pupils would have to say, “good morning, cheater,” instead of “good morning, teacher.” By marathon cheating, starting in the 1960s, the Marcoses ruined our values, processes and institutions. Digong now clears them without due process, without bothering to read what Swiss authorities say—as Raissa Robles has clearly written about more than once—of the unrepentant thieving family.

    The unrepentant

    Imee was the usual charmer when we met recently at Swiss Inn. She was with the Ilocos Six, being, from where I sit, unfairly harassed by Tsikboy Rudy Fariñas, a Corona impeachment megastar. Imee was the one asked a question by Archimedes Trajano at Mapua in 1977, in a manner which she didn’t find amusing; he was escorted out by her sikyus. Hours later, he was found very, very dead. All King Henry VI did was to ask “who would rid me of this boisterous/meddlesome priest?”; four knights considered themselves told and sent Archbishop Thomas Becket to the Promised Land.

    Imee and I met in Swiss Inn (of all places) last September 23 (of all dates). Digong should ask the Swiss authorities, particularly the Swiss Federal Court, or just ask super-journalist Raissa. And what about the tax liabilities of the Marcoses? They and Manny Pacquiao, along with Digong’s Immigration brods, and the narco-police-generals, denounced on national radio-TV, appear to be selectively sheltered and harbored.

    Back to World Teachers Day yesterday. Last Saturday I was pleasantly surprised by my brown-nosing sipsip ha, ha Alabang law studes; at the end of class, just before eight p.m., they sprang a cake. Then one of them (Tim Peralta) serenaded and played “La Vie en Rose” (Edith Piaf), on a violin, followed by “As Time Goes By” (from “Casablanca”). I requested “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” which I was to hear later again that night at Solaire, along with “La Vie en Rose,” courtesy of Hiway 54 and 88.8, two very good bands.

    Well, it was Saturday night: a client-couple, who happened to be there at Eclipse, the dance hall, picked up our tab. Merci. Earlier, I got the good news that my eldest apo, Rene Tres, 9, was home from Makati Med. Tres, Treasure when on his best behavior, and Stress, otherwise. Some days are perfect, but not too many. Last Saturday was one, for me.

    One reason the rest couldn’t be is Digong’s traffic inutility. Another is he continues to talk too much. He has no Cabinet? Now he says no presidential run for Mayor Sara in 2022. Not serious, he says.
    But how could we tell?

    Who will police the police?

    And Digong now says he will create a commission to probe the Ombudsman. Huh? On December 7, 2010, PNoy’s EO No. 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission to probe GMA was ruled unconstitutional, by her SC appointees (10). We cannot single out anyone. And maybe rightly so. So, who then will police the police?

    In 1967, I wrote an article in the San Beda Law Journal: “Yes, Virginia, there are good government officials, but (a Filipino Ombudsman).” I there asked: “`Who will police the police?’ the ominous question supposedly ventilated thousands of years ago by Cicero… Looking at the same problem, Professor GS starts a piece with: `Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ asked Juvenal which can be translated for our purposes as, who governs the government’?”

    Digong now dares Chief Justice Meilou Sereno and Ombudsman Chit Carpio-Morales to resign with him. But, once the duo do, but not resigning himself, would he say “just joking?”—then name their replacements and keep his seat for fear of being charged with abandonment under Article 238 of the Revised Penal Code, as the resignation has not been accepted. Who accepts the resignations of such high constitutional officials anyway?

    Our 1987-1992 Congress did not act on my Senate Bill 1296 on resignation procedures. In the US, Prez Nixon submitted his resignation to the Secretary of State as provided by American law (3 US Code Sec. 20). I find no such law here. We need one amid the most quarrelsome presidency we have been cursed with, in our Circular Firing Squad society. Our wounds are mostly self-inflicted.

    DU30 has to change

    Scarred, I for one do not want Rant-Rant-Rant Digong to resign, which may create more problems than it may solve. I want him to succeed, for everyone’s sake. But, he has to change. He should not be too talkative, onion-skinned, pugnacious and quarrelsome, like some fishwife (sexist today?) picking fights regularly; let the Cabinet work for their pay and perks. It seems any day he does not pick a fight with someone, he gets sick. Sereno, Morales, Trillanes, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Yellows (I am one, and proud to be so), Reds, Polka Dots, et al.

    He should not cuss, not in public anyway, please, for the sake of the young; we try to rear them to be proper. We are not a polite considerate sensitive people; promdis, more so.

    He has to stop EJKs, his perceived population reduction program. PNP Chief Bato de la Rosa boasts his police organization is admired by the world. Huh? What country has adopted our scorched-earth policy which has not succeeded anywhere? Imitation is the best form of flattery. If he’s a hero in China, he should consider moving there as we only make him cry here. Critic Mon Tulfo and the (Atio) Castillos do not seem to realize how lucky we are to have Bato.

    I am not comfortable about Digong threatening people, like Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang. If the guy were struck by lightning, Digong might court blame. “If the Philippines goes into chaos, I will come for you first,” apostrophizing Carandang. Childish. Who’s causing the chaos by his needless confrontational behavior? Carandang must have peed in his pants and not surprisingly recanted, blaming the media. Remember what happened to Archbishop Thomas Becket.

    Ang mapikon, talo, is an ironclad kanto boy code. I was Lapiang Balat-SibuyasPrez in the Senate. I know the feeling when one’s honor is put on the line. But, Prezs should develop a thick hide, or go home. Digong can ape a tactful spokesman of his; other Cabinet members seem invisible. He who is easily piqued, and then rants and cusses, has a weak case.

    I never dissembled on my unexplained poverty. Unlike Digong I was not able to provide the family a home. All we seven siblings inherited was 161 square meters in Pasig which an aunt had given to my Daddy, and which we in turn gave to our two youngest siblings.

    Had I been asked, I would have told my banks to make a full disclosure. I would not have threatened the Carandangs of our time.

    Like I said, I expect Prez Digong to say, “I waive my bank and AMLC secrecy rights. What else can I do you?” Instead, tantrums.

    Very occasionally some people ask me to run for Prez. And I’d say “di na nga makalakad, tatakbo pa?”—to drown out the question I hear from the back of the room, “And of what country naman kaya?”

    Digong was given a gift and a burden. Use the gift and we share the pain and burden. Do not divide us. United, we are stronger.

    ****

    Yesterday morning, my son, Atty. Rebo, forwarded to me a text from Deng Bautista, a stalwart on our Vizconde Massacre defense panel, announcing that “Papa has answered the call of his heavenly Father to come home”. Condolences. American Indians call it “homegoing”.

    While in Makati Elementary, I read Red Smith writing in this paper about the paths of glory leading but to the grave. Shall we quarrel less?

    We will all go home someday.

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