Lessons from Marawi: Fake news and foolish questions

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RENE SAGUISAG

LOST to cancer last week was Panyero anti-Marcos Marcos D. Risonar, Jr., of Davao, featured in Ilagan v. Enrile, 139 SCRA 349 (1985).

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On May 10, 1985, lawyer Laurente C. Ilagan was arrested. Lawyer Antonio B. Arellano visited him in detention and was also arrested. Marc verified whether he was wanted, and was also detained. The basis of their detention comprised military mission orders against them as alleged subversives.

The IBP (not Inutil Bar of the Philippines then), FLAG and MABINI filed a petition for habeas corpus in the Supreme Court. The high court ordered them released on the recognizance of retired Justices Roberto Concepcion and JBL Reyes, which the military ignored. The trio were then charged with rebellion in the Davao Regional Trial Court, and the tuta SC dismissed our petition which it ruled mooted and academized.

Justice Dingdong Teehankee sharply dissented, decrying the blatant denial of due process (which deprives courts of jurisdiction). Fellow dissenter Justice Hermogenes Concepcion ruled that the “Rule of Law . . . is the only way to the survival of democracy in our land.”

Which Pinoy lawyers could best speak on Marawi? In Lanao del Sur, the local IBP chapter has just denounced human rights abuses that go with martial law. Comes with the territory. ldeally, the national IBP should. Silent? Robert Louis Stevenson said the cruelest lies are often told in silence.

But not its brave Lanao del Sur chapter led by chapter Prez Aminuden Macalandap. We all hail the patriotic gallant soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, more so, if above and beyond it. But, the chapter sadly said it “has been utterly shocked by the sheer magnitude of wanton disregard of the sanctity of domicile, the right against deprivation of property without due process of law, the right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and the privacy of communication and correspondence of innocent civilians committed by the AFP and the PNP…” (Manila Bulletin, June 12, 2017). Mga bantay-salakay, staining their professional organizations.

Prez Digong seems insensitive to human rights concerns. BTW, the Palace seems to say he is as strong as a horse, in an effort to allay our concerns about his health, following his inability to attend the Luneta rites last Monday, followed by a “rest day.” We aren’t aware of any horse doctor in the Palace though. Anyway, Sec. 12 of Art. VII of the Constitution provides who may have access to the Prez to verify the state of his health, which we really wish is fine, for everyone’s sake.

Who should speak about American involvement in Marawi? I think it should be our defense secretary, not the US Embassy, which did so last Friday, confirmed by our side the following day. Common-sense protocol. Not Digong either, who may start with “PI! Leche! Anong ginagawa ng mga buang diyan? Who asked them to help?”

Fortunately, no such tirade. Mellowing? Why, he even thanked the US. His signature tirades and cussing we don’t need but he could not resist shooting down Obama again. So needlessly and not in our national interest, from where I sit. There have been understandable rookie errors on the part of the ex-Davao City Mayor and his team, turned national leaders and administrators in a nation of 105 million rabbits, overnight.

Trust, but verify
Digong said he had not sought US help but appreciates it. A plus. Decent. Civilized. What about China and Russia, with whom Digong would stand against the world? We have had no similar history of military collaboration with either behemoth. China has in fact claimed or stolen part of our territory and has threatened war, while Russia seemingly cares not a whit. If China helps in Marawi, they may never leave and invoke some ancient map or other. If one shakes hands with a Kano, Russky or Chinese, should one count one’s fingers afterwards? Doveryai non proveryai. Trust, but verify, the Russkies would counsel.

Of course, as to the terrorists, inter armas, silent leges. In the midst of war, the law is silent. But, the innocent should not be victimized by either side or both.

We may have the record lowest Internet connection or speed in the region but we certainly remain the most talkative, beginning with the Prez who may now realize that unrestrained immoderate machismo braggadocio may work in Davao City but not even in Lanao del Sur, much less in the bigger national or international arenas.

And what have we heard from Mindanaoanon Manny Pacquiao? Of course, his seeming casual-don’t-care attitude may help attract tourists from Down Under where he will soon fight Wassisname. They may believe our country is safe. Australia was among those insulted by Digong early on, including the Pope, Obama and the European Union. Has the antic made us safer, more independent, more sovereign? Certainly, Manny Pacquiao’s posture has not made the case for ML stronger; does he care for the IBP Lanao del Sur’s plaints? Marawi’s burning, Manny.

We have no choice but to continue to criticize the administration constructively, and root, and pray, for popular Digong and his team to succeed in giving our people a safer, better life. You and I win thereby.

But, what would be your answer if asked: “ls life better today than a year ago?” My biased answer would be No!, beginning with traffic concerns. Far worse than a year ago, limiting my movements in a society with weaker institutions and lower values.

One of whom we cannot ask that question is Bong Lapira, “an institution in Philippine TV news,” per Boo Chanco. He wrote last Friday about Bong’s passage to where there are no traffic gridlocks. Bong was my classmate in one section in San Beda. He and l never really became close but as a promdi from Rizal High I improved my diction hearing good speakers. Thus, I pronounced “program” differently after hearing Bong use it. He had a popular radio program that a puppy love “gel-fren-gel-frenan” of mine was crazy about, in KZRH, if my fading memory is true. Bong was refined, in a manner Bal Pinguel wasn’t. Gary Olivar wrote last Tuesday that firebrand Bal is gone. Bal would have been after Digong’s own heart when it came to public cussing. On September 21, 1972, I heard Bal on radio as I was monitoring the rally in Plaza Miranda, where Ka Pepe and Charito Planas spoke. The old spice was there. Ang lulutong!

I then headed San Beda’s Aid Clinic.

My AB classmate, Ed Ruiz, who teaches English at the Ateneo, also emailed about mild-mannered, refined Jesse Dinglasan— San Beda Hi valedictorian in 1955, when I enrolled in San Beda being in a bad way.

For Marc, Bong, Bal and Jesse, prayers.

I trust Boo, Gary and Eddie are not dishing out fake news. Not even the Ten Commandments can prevent lying, which is different from erring. We all make mistakes. The Chicago Daily Tribune bannered in 1948 that Dewey beat Truman. The lapse has often been characterized as “famous,” instead of “infamous.” Or “fake news.”

We may tell “white lies,” or even blarney. We may charitably describe as “cute” a baby with a face only his mom could love. Lies Churchill would call “terminological inexactitudes.” Elegant.

But, for Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre to charge certain senators with crimes and then have same probed may be unforgivable premature ejaculation. Vit topped his 1971 law class at San Beda and was a formidable member of our team that defended Hubert Webb. As one who said at the start in 1995 that I’d carry to my grave that Hubert was thousands of miles away when the Vizconde tragedy occurred, I am saddened that we seem to be having another Injustice Secretary today. Pero di po likas na masama si Vit, nabarkada lang po. To link anyone to Marawi could be hazardous to the health of the one named.

Fire!-Aim!-Ready! Justice we don’t need.

“Fake news” and trial and conviction by publicity led to the imprisonment of Hubert and company for more than 15 years. Vit must realize that fake news could lead to years of torment beyond compare.

Real hero of Bessang Pass
I write this on June 14, which marks another anniversary of Bessang Pass, said to be our only victory against foreign invaders (but there is Lapu-lapu’s). There, my fellow San Beda law teacher Desi Jurado exemplified the courage and gallantry that made Churchill describe the Pinoy soldier as the finest warrior in the world. The dashing father, Vicente, Sr., of dashing Jesse Dinglasan, made the supreme sacrifice in Bataan at the hands of the Japanese Kempeitai; Jesse attended San Beda as an orphan from 1945 to 1960, when he finished AB, magna cum laude.

Bessang Pass is up north, in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, where the battle raged for months in 1945. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was hundreds of kilometers away (in Luna, La Union). Yet, FM managed to have it come out that he was the great hero there. The real top hero of Bessang Pass was Conrado Rigor, Jr., whose family in the US was upset and came out in vindication of the patriarch when Digong had his idol, a fake “hero,” moved to the Libingan ng mgaBayani last year.

Desi and I once met during Macoy’s ML. He commended us for our human rights work. And then, with a faraway look, he wistfully asked whatever happened to that young man who was once ready to lay down his life for the Motherland? I took that to mean, “keep going.”

Vit Aguirre did not originate fake news. Like corruption, it’s been with us for thousands of years; not even the Ten Commandments could stop it. We used to call it propaganda, and Mata Hari and the Tokyo Rose excelled in it. Today, we may just say, “stop spreading lies about me or I will start telling the truth about you.”

Then, a gray area. Once, the late Tony “Bote” Bautista and I met and he said “`Ne, a son of yours is a classmate of a daughter of mine and she says he’s good- looking.” Bote then looked me up and down and asked: “Why, is your wife beautiful?” Was she ever.

Still, I wonder, is there is such a thing as a “fake” question? “Foolish” should do. Per Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, my political law prof in senior law, the foolish questions are at times the hardest to answer.

Such as, “Mr. Speaker, supplemental humongous billions for Marawi, and benefits for our troops, or their widows and orphans, fine, but what do we use for money? In our few remaining trees, I have not seen a single one with money growing on it.”

Or, “Mr. Prez, isn’t your constitutional power to ‘call out [our armed]forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence’ enough without the downside of ML?” Meantime, your health comes first, for the nation’s sake.

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4 Comments

  1. Luna to Cervantes is less than 80km away sir, not hundreds of kilometers away. That’s fake info/news.

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    You said the cruelest lies are often told in silence. In 1971, you guys led by Ninoy Aquino accused Marcos of bombing Plaza Miranda. Today you never mention it anymore as if it never happened. Is it unfair to suspect that your lack of interest in what must be Marcos’ most dastardly crime (that is, if he really did it) is actually a conspiracy of silence that is meant to hide something? If so, what could that secret possibly be? Now if you don’t believe that Marcos did it, does that mean that you agree with Marcos when he called Ninoy a congenital liar?

  3. While so many self-promoting righteous supposedly ‘freedom slash human right advocates’ are filing complaints at the Supreme Court for the declaration of Martial Law — then there’s the trapped, injured, the killed soldiers and residents and their families are suffering from the invasion of the Maute group in Marawi. More reason, why the residents of Marawi and its neighboring areas feels safer that Martial Law should be declared for the whole of Mindanao.

    How about we let those who moan and complain should have the first right of entry to Marawi City and let them fight with the Maute group? I just heard Zubiri is volunteering to offer free rides there.