Justice Afin Cuevas and Meralco

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Rene Saguisag

Rene Saguisag

Sen. Turing Tolentino was chosen by Macoy to be his running mate for the February 7, 1986 snap polls. Loser Ka Turing would launch a coup on July 6, 1986 declaring that since Macoy was in exile, he was constitutionally our acting Prez. Macoy allies and about 100 soldiers occupied the Manila Hotel, barricading it, and installing a rebel seat of government there. They had expected massive support, which never came. On July 8, Ka Turing agreed to disperse his civilian and military supporters, ending the failed coup attempt.

Justice Serafin Cuevas played a key role in the attempt; we had removed him from the Marcos-appointed Supreme Court (SC) following the 1986 Edsa People Power uprising. He defied, in our view, the Rule of Law by swearing in Ka Turing as the “Acting Prez.” The ceremony was a fiasco, a comical coup attempt staged by Marcos loyalists, who occupied the hotel for a few days. They ate most of the food and trashed the establishment. The urban legend we encouraged was that we had sent an emissary to the hotel to warn them that the last to leave would have to pick up the tab. The GIs, Genuine Ilocanos, led by Col. Abadilla, fled. We had rejected Gen. Rodolfo Canieso’s offer to bomb the hotel back into the stone age.

A year later, in August 1987, Ka Afin came to the rescue of then Manong JPE who was accused of instigating another coup try against Prez Cory. JPE was arrested for the crime of “rebellion complexed with murder.” Ka Afin was one of the lawyers who forcefully argued for the dropping of this charge, and won.

While the Manila Hotel coup attempt was for the comic page, the August 27-28, 1987 attempt resulted in the deaths of 53 civilians and the wounding of over 200 (among those seriously wounded was Noynoy).


In my first year of practice, one of my first cases concerned the Oracca fire in Divisoria. Hearing officer was Manila Fiscal Cuevas. Among the lawyer was Doy Quisumbing. Cross-examination was then still possible and I marvelled at how Doy would pose questions and how Fiscale Afin would preside. Later I had a case in the sala of CFI Judge Afin against a brilliant No. 1 bar topnotcher. No nonsense, Judge Afin was. Tough case where he would berate both sides but in the end ruled in our favor.

It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up. Later, while I was running San Beda Law (Dean Ledesma was busy in the ’71-72 Concon, Afin taught in San Beda, popular, as he was “effective,” and so I told him). Gentleman of the old school. Cool. Sparkling wit and sense of humor.

We were on the same side defending Erap after he had unconstitutionally lost his post. We were on opposite side in Rene Corona’s impeachment. I was then in the peanut gallery, unable to litigate after our 2007 family tragedy. The front page pix here last Wednesday did not signal my return as litigator. That was the first time for me to be back in the SC since I last argued in late 2006 on People’s Initiative. We won 8-7. Ponente: TonyCarp. Leading the Seven, Rey Puno, just shown in a pix with the Philconsa stalwarts, many of whom supported Macoy during the dark years when the Philconsa should have been defending fundamental values of integrity and human rights being ravished by the Conjugal Dictators and the military (mooting the need for FLAG-MABINI).

Anyway, not being able to attend the earlier Meralco price hike hearings, it was not easy following the numbers being floated last Tuesday. David Stockman was a controversial Reagan Budget director. Although only in his 30s, David became well known to the public during the contentious political wrangling concerning the role of the federal government in American society. His influence within the Reagan Administration decreased after the Atlantic Monthly magazine published the “Education of David Stockman,” in its December 1981 issue. He was quoted on the budget process during his first year on the job during the Reagan years: “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.” That first year, he was “taken to the woodshed by the president” for his excessive candor.

All these came to mind last Tuesday as I listened to government give its side of the story, as it were, in the Meralco price hike hearing in the SC, where, cane in hand, I stayed over a little couple of hours.

I did audit Economic Regulations in 1967 in Harvard Law under Derek Bok, who later became Harvard Law Dean. The son of Pennsylvania SC Justice, he was a former Law Dean, married to the daughter of two Nobel Prize winners.

Derek is a former president (1971-1991) and interim president (2006-2007) of Harvard. He is a gifted teacher with insights into rate-fixing. I built on what Prof. Spanky Perez taught in Transportation in San Beda but it is obvious marami pang kakanin before I really get the hang of it. However, our team of Rod Domingo, Nards de Vera, Nelson Loyola and Ronnie learn a lot from experienced Guru Pete Ilagan of NASECORE (Nat’l Ass’n of Electric Consumers for Reform), the second petitioner we represent, after the group represented by Neri Colmenares and Edre Olalia, with whom I merrily reconnected last Tuesday. They represent the original petitioners, Bayan Muna (not Bayad Muna), Gabriela, ACT Teachers and Kabataaan.

Speaking for myself, I wish the matter would be remanded to the Energy Regulatory Commission , which this time should issue a ruling that is 1) grammatically correct (last Tuesday, the oralists misused the misunderstood “herein,” the nonexistent “clarificatory” and “avail” sans “oneself, etc.”, etc., 2) legally tenable, 3) intellectually respectable; and 4) psychologically satisfying. As it is, the impression is that the regulatory body has been captured by the regulated in a captive industry.

We wish Chair Zenaida Ducut well. Here’s hoping she really understands the numbers and is noted for other than lawyering for a reputed numbers game personality.

We all need time and I support Neri’s reported plea for more of it.

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3 Comments

  1. Mr. Oraman,

    The issue which Ka Rene defended is the constitutionality of how he (Erap) lost his post to a hundred people who called it EDSA 2, not about the plunder issue.

    And you might as well research how much Ka Rene received as a compensation in defending Erap, you might end up counting cents…that is if there would be any cents…

  2. IN real life, there are people who opted to remain in the side of darkness regardless of consequence. Intelligence and wits are of no value because the devil has plenty of that too. In the end, its Wisdom and Compassion that counts.