Lives well-lived; Leila’s mistrial

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RENE SAGUISAG

LAWYER Archie R. Piga was a member of our San Beda Class 1963 law class. Last Saturday, the Bulletin carried a prominent obit (not vying of course with the venerable Wash Sycip’s many deserved tributes) on his “homegoing” last Saturday. Condolences.

I saw the Archie obit when I was in a hurry to go to my Saturday classes. Barely made it to Mendiola and late for Alabang. Traffic. Worse than ever, after Digong took power, and therefore, responsibility.

Stop and smell the flowers

But, why worry? Why hurry? Golf pro Walter Hagen advised not to do either, for we are here only for a short visit, so why not stop and smell the flowers? — he asked, rhetorically (popularized by John Dean in the Watergate scandal). Indeed, what is the meaning of life? Whose life is not being well-lived?

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Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo, a Digong supporter (who I saw in QC the other afternoon), I agree with, when he, in effect said the Prez needs to stop and smell the flowers. Note that on Andy Bautista’s situation or resignation, what Digong supposedly said last Saturday, disturbed: “Nagtaka ako, it was the other day, he [filed his]resignation. Mukhang pinirmahan ko.” Mon is right. “Mukhang pinirmahan ko”? Digong needs a vacation so he will know and remember what he is doing, and saying. At 72, he cannot be senile yet. (But, I can be, at 78, in my second childhood; Digong is into his second adolescence, with what he shares with Mon, RH, for Raging Hormones. Two kamandags. But, really, has Andy submitted his resignation to the proper party? We need a law on resignations.

I filed a bill on the matter in my time in the Senate, only to lie and die there.

Like father, like daughter. Tough Davao City Mayor Sara mentions Sen. Sonny Trillanes’ “balls.” Were they subjected to autoptic proference or ocular inspection I would not be surprised if Sonny has at least three, judging by his fearless “fiscalizing” — in quotes as no dictionary I have looked at seems to carry this Filipinism—of a very popular populist Prez.

On the Duterte assets, it seems to me a good way, maybe the best way, is to execute a bank secrecy waiver, instead of dissembling. But maybe, just maybe, the lawyers of CJ Meilou Sereno are right, the statement of assets, etc. (or SALN) contains the waiver. Arguable because the Salonga Law (RA 6713, which shafted a Chief Justice (Rene Corona), and which I had sponsored on the floor, says, in its Section 8 (A): “All public official and employees required to file [SALNs] shall also execute within thirty (30) days from the date of their assumption of office, the necessary authority in favor of the Ombudsman to obtain from all appropriate government agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue, such documents as may show their liabilities, net worth, and also their business interests and financial connections in previous years, including, if possible the year when they first assumed any office in the government.”

But, private banks are not “government agencies,” so the need for a bank waiver in the case of the Dutertes, who may or may not have executed such “authority.” Indeed, who among our 1,600,000 public servants in this scofflaw nation have?

If CJ Meilou is not getting open support from the judiciary, it may be because of understandable self-interest, to avoid nightmarish prosecution/persecution by our fightingest Prez and/or enhance moving-up dreams.

Alternative universe

It may be that the Dutertes are living in their alternative universe in asking Sonny to prove his allegations that
they have accounts in Davao and Ortigas, information best known to them; veiled by legal secrecy, sans waivers.

The burden shifts when the matter is best known to a party. The Dutertes can just waive their right to secrecy to shatter into smithereens Sonny’s claim that Vice Mayor Pulong has more than a hundred million pesos in a Davao bank while Digong has billions in a BPI bank in Ortigas. In the process, destroy Sonny. Bakit po pakendeng-kendeng pa?

Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo says the allegations are based on just rumors. Precisely, all the more, what better way to show their being so by having the banks show the paper trail.

If Sonny’s allegations are false, the Dutertes can sue Sonny for defamation, who, in his defense can, however, have the bank records subpoenaed, finally. If he is charged and convicted in a libel case, there may or may not be jail time but Sonny can be crippled by humongous sums of damages extracted from him. His public life may also come to an end if the record establishes recklessness.

One million six hundred thousand waivers by public servants. Senator Gatchalian may be one of them; but as master, he now recklessly threatens to cite a fratman in contempt as reported here last Sunday. He reportedly said petulantly, “nakakainit ng ulo itong luko-loko [John Paul Solano] na ito.” What gives the servant the right to insult a master, the citizen, a particle of popular sovereignty, so casually? What does such cavalier pose tell the young?

A cop would need to say “you have a right to remain silent, . . .” Therefore, immunity must be granted a guest which in the US only a court may grant to the snitch. No Bill of Rights in our Senate? Congress is the NBI-PNP writ large which does not start with “you have a right to remain silent,” but bamboozles or terrorizes guests to sing like canaries.

Talagang bastusan na. Digong said Leila is a “prisoner of her lust,” reacting to her assertion that she is a “prisoner of conscience.” Leila deserves to be jailed, per Digong, commenting on a case which is sub judice, which concept no one seems to honor hereabouts. But, he should be above the fray. He has many attack dogs.
When Nixon said on August 3, 1970, that Charles Manson was guilty, the White House scrambled to explain and apologize—in that Nixon failed to use “alleged” and did not mean to prejudge the case—to deal with the firestorm of criticism. Here, the Prez regularly prejudges Leila and would never say what Nixon did, who said he was “misunderstood.” — “The last thing I would do is prejudice the legal rights of any person, in any circumstances.
To set the record straight, I do not now and did not intend to speculate whether the [actress Sharon]Tate defendants are guilty, in fact or not. All the facts in the case have not yet been presented. The defendants should be presumed to be innocent at this stage of the trial.”

Many opined “that if Manson was convicted, the conviction would be reversed on appeal because of Nixon’s statement.”

“[T]he next day [August 4, three female accused] stood up and said in perfect unison: `Your Honor, the President said we are guilty, so why go on with the trial?” V. Bugliosi, Helter Skelter 438-39, 444 (1974).

The case against Leila should be dismissed on the ground of mistrial to educate one and all. In a police custodial interrogation, the prober starts with “you have a right to remain silent, etc.” Why should the Bill of Rights, intact in a police stationhouse, be checked at the door of the Palace or of Congress? A frat man is threatened with contempt for not talking via an affidavit.

The Senate is not the PNP-NBI writ large.

Presumed innocent

In the US, any guest can cite the Fifth, i.e., the right to remain silent. The US Congress cannot grant immunity. It has to go to court to get it, which is routinely obtained. Only then may the guest be forced to speak.

Nowhere in the Constitution is Congress granted the right to detain one who exercises his right not to speak. The Inquisition ended centuries ago elsewhere, but continues here? Only an effectively immunized guest can be coerced to speak.

Last Sunday, this paper reported: “`America knows’: Drug charges filed against de Lima `real.’ – Duterte.” Our quarrelsome madaldal Prez should not talk on the guilt of any person, as all decision-makers want to be safe from his wrath or desirous of promotion. No one seems to observe the sub judice rule, of not talking on the guilt of anyone in a pending case (and the Supreme Court shamelessly leaks like a sieve, to the benefit of our enterprising Jomar Canlas, the 16th justice). If I say an accused is innocent, I just repeat the presumption of innocence.

Digong keeps convicting and disparaging Leila. This is for rottweiler Sal Panelo, not he, to say, if at all. Not presidential, and violates the Bill of Rights. Artikulo III, our new human rights aggrupation (another Filipinism in a country where some pronounce awry as au-ree and not as aray, and chaos as tsaos, and not as kay-os).

So, Digong, don’t hurry, don’t worry, stop and smell the flowers. And please stop misusing the human rights salute by raising a clenched fist. No need to taunt fallen enemy commanders/combatants. The Marawi victory reminds me of what was said of Ben Tre in Viet Nam, that the village was destroyed in order to save it, by Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Arnett, quoting an unnamed army officer.

And avoid wishful thinking like the UN taking over a failed bloody, messy drug war that has not succeeded anywhere. Its new SecGen, Antonio Guterres, is from Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs more than 15 years ago. It has not been destroyed. Indeed, some ballroom mates of mine have gone there for the Fatima Centennial this month. Prayers are what we need more of. Too bad Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, another hero of 1986 in ousting Macoy, is gone.

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