• ‘All life is an experiment’


    LAST Monday, I wrote to the Senate Committee on Local Government:

    “Thank you for the kind invitation. I had to leave early because of a pressing deadline on a case. I am sorry for not being able to observe certain formalities in my departure. I did not want to interrupt the smooth flow (of the proceedings), from which I gained.

    “On the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) we xamined recently in a symposium in the graduate school of law at San Beda, various opinions swirled. To me, the BBL is an experiment, as all of life is an experiment, according to Holmes (also partly credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson). It is another attempt at solving a seemingly permanent problem. In grade school, I learned about the Madjapahit empire, which supposedly then included Sulu and Manila. Indeed, Tondo, we are told, used to be run by the ‘Moros,’ — thus, the Rajah Soliman, or Sulayman, and Lakan Dula (districts). Malacanang is supposed to have come from ‘May Lakan Diyan.’

    “In the last few centuries, the Moros have defied Imperial Manila, fighting the Spaniards, the British, the Americans, the Japanese, again the Americans, and Imperial Manila.”John Pershing supposedly had the .45 invented to deal with juramentados. Mark Twain in 1906 described the Massacre of Mt. Dajo, where 600 Moro fighters were all slain by 600 Christian soldiers from America, the land of WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants). McKinley had said, while kneeling in the White House, that God told him to Christianize our forebears. Meaning to “Protestantize” the Catholics who were baptized when they were too young to understand and object.

    “So, I agree with the surviving members of the star-studded Constitutional Commission who endorse the experiment, collectively and individually. The egg may be rotten, but who can lay a better one? We want to look for faults in any human undertaking? We’ll find it. Others may see the dark clouds, I see the silver lining; the dough, not the hole.

    “The Irish solution seems to be working and holding, ending bloody skirmishes that went as far back as the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Let us hope for a similar workable solution among our brothers and sisters. The bloodletting, banner-headlined this week, must stop.

    “I support the proposed law without being insensitive to the sentiment, say of Zamboanga (in 1899, it was for establishing its own Republic).

    “But, for me, it is united we stand, divided we fall. Amina Rasul says not to forget Sabah, which may or will present its own set of problems (Sabahan sentiment and self-determination matter). How I wish Amina and Adel Tamano were in the Senate, cross-fertilizing ideas the way their folks, Nina and Mike, did in our time, even without a formal committee hearing. I like it that the Catholic bishops, without `meddling,’ will publish a paper from the ‘ethical and moral perspectives.’

    “Opinions vary on the effects of the bloody rebel attacks and slayings in Mindanao. I don’t think the effort to pass the law should be derailed, while we work to prevent a repetition.

    “I should also be in the Senate this week for Mayor JunJun Binay, given the human rights and constitutional dimensions of his case. I have been asked for the limited purpose of assisting him in this context [I wish we would adopt the US Senate praxis]. Beyond this, and that Joker Arroyo and I are flabbergasted, my lips are sealed. But, not as to the Mass last Sunday in Manila Memorial on the 82nd birth anniversary of the iconic Cory Aquino.”

    ‘Cory-Doy’ was on our lips during the 1985-1986 snap polls. Jan 27, 2004 was when Doy Laurel passed away. He deserves the highest praise for giving way to Cory in December 1985. Had he not slid down to Vice Prez, he would have split the votes for the Opposition, and Macoy might have credibly won handily. But, Doy sacrificed for the motherland, a game changer, for which we cannot thank him enough. That ended the dictatorship. Some still questioned whether Cory had really won. The Comelec had proclaimed the Macoy-Turing duo to have won.

    When Turing Tolentino and I debated the matter on TV, I concluded that “Ka Turing, kahit po sinong sabungero ang tanongin ninyo sa saan mang tupada, pag natiope at tumakbo ang manok ni Juan, panalo ang naiwang manok ni Pedro.” Macoy, claiming that he had thought he’d be sent to Paoay, not Hawaii, had been flown away, to Hawaii. If the hooting throng caught the Marcoses in Malacanang, given the passions running high during those moments, the situation might not have been resolved the peaceful Filipino Way, for which the world admired us. Virtually bloodless, only four were killed.

    We hope a similar approach will succeed in Mindanao in regard to the current controversy that is, in fact, centuries old. When Justice Afin Cuevas administered to oath Ka Turing as Acting Prez on July 7, 1986, a General wanted to level the Manila Hotel to the ground. Cory refused. Instead, we sent word that the last to leave would pay for all the bills. The soldiers, led by Ilocano Roly Abadilla, all fled.

    Urban legend. Or myth.


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    1. The question was, did Cory win the election? Your answer was Marcos fled ( was kidnapped by the Americans) to Hawaii. You are evading the real question because you guys examined the documents only two weeks after the snap elections and you found nothing to prove that Marcos victory was the result of cheating, otherwise you would have lit the world ablaze with the evidence but the fact is that you publicly displayed Imelda’s intimate belongings in public but not the evidence of Cory’s victory because Marcos won, pure and simple. Cory’s ascension was just an accident of history that the nation is still paying for up to now. By the way, since you are close to the Aquinos, sabihin mo nga kung kanino nagmana ng asal itong anak, kay Ninoy ba o kay Cory?

    2. victor m. hernandez on

      Defending Binays on their or his constitutional and human rights is alright, a a true lawyer that you are. Congratulations. As to the experiment, and the forum of law graduates of San Beda Law, the historical perspective is very enlightening. The Moros ruled the land, even Manila. When the Spaniards conquered and swindled the Philippines, they brought with them the system of Titulo Torrens, thus the landgrabbing of most of Philippine lands ensued. The encomienda sytem of the Spaniards aggravated the land grabbing situation.
      The original rulers and their followers where left to the margin. They were eventually forced to collaborate or deal with new rulers, and the new rulers term, but they remained un-subjugated with belief that they are the true owners and rulers of the land. The Sultan of Sulu is the only one left fighting for its own sultanate. The Tausugs, MNLF keep on fighting, the MILF too, and has now the upper hand over MNLF leadership of moroland. Bloody war caused by continued negligence by government who purports to govern all of Philippines. Now only a few families never have it soo good, that the multitudes are empoverished, the Muslim regions most of all, they who once ruled and won the land. If I were the President I will just give back what belongs to the Moros, the
      Bangsamoro as these un-subjugated people call themselves. BBL is ok, just keep the peace, and no more killings, and mis-encounters. Ideally they should have Sulu and Tawi-tawi, Basilan, and Palawan, all islands. They can have Sabah, too, which they owned anyway. Let them deal with the Malaysians instead. Until we, Christians, learn how to deal with Muslims or Moros, there will always be mistrust, the same goes with the Moros, they should learn how to deal with Christians. But first, correcting history requires restitution.

    3. I echo the question of Binayara. I have all the respect for Mr Saguisag, but why defend the Binays. Do you truly believe that they are innocent? You give them credibility. I am truly saddened.

    4. Bert O. Romero on

      Rene, please read Ronald Reagan’s memoirs: President Marcos requested him (President Reagan) to transport President Marcos and his party to a town ( apparently Paoay) in a province in the north ( apparently Ilocos Norte) instead of to Hawaii. That is not urban legend, Mr. Senator.

    5. Very objective naman kayo Mr Saguisag, bakit hindi ninyo kumaparahin ang peace agreement noon at ngayon. Ang ARMM ay nasa constitution na, ang BLL ay babaguhin ang constitution para sa kanila. Ano ang problema sa old peace agreement at ang areas na dapat tugonan ng pagtatama. Ang BLL ,kahit di ako abogado, ay kitang kita na ito ay labag sa constitution natin maliban lamang kung isipan ninyo ay laban sa peace agreement noon na nag umpisa kay PRESIDENT MARCOS kagaya ng Bataan Nuclear Power Station. Sumalangit nawa ang sambayanang Pilipino!

    6. Both Joker and Rene S.in backing up the Binays on their current corruption issues, is like the way the great Turing Tolentino went when he became tuta of Macoy in his twlight years. Sayang si Turing ganun din kaya si Joker at Rene?

    7. Saguisag is one of the few principled intellectuals that we have in the Philippines today. He is one of the few who was not involved in any anomalies (like corruption) of whatsoever. The only negative thing he has (which can also be the ideas of some Filipinos) or might have at the moment is defending legally the Binays (who cannot explain to the whole Philippines their amassed wealth). Saguisag, Binay Sr.and Arroyo were all in one group during the pre and martial law days. Today, the Binays wealth is so enormous that it cannot even equate the wealth (financial assets) of Saguisag and Arroyo. Mr. Saguisag, why do you help legally a questionable person who amassed wealth (unexplained wealth) when Binay Jr’s source of income is just a mayor of a city? I would appreciate very much if you can me a reply. Why don’t you just provide free legal services to thousands of Filipinos who are not financially capable of defending themselves? Please Mr. saguisag, explain your reason/s.

      • Charlie Balakubak on

        Mr. Binayaran,
        I am not defending the Binay’s for whatever accusations they are facing right now. The Binay’s maybe corrupt or maybe not but their guilt has not been proven by a court of law yet. You talk like you have evidence to prove their guilt, talk is cheap but proving a person’s guilt is another matter. Former Senator Rene Saguisag and Sen. Joker Arroyo in doing legal work for the Binay’s is I believe a matter of personal belief that their client is innocent. As for offering free legal services to Filipinos, Mr. Saguisag has in the past defended other Filipinos pro bono but a lawyer has to make a living also.