• Manifestations of creeping decay



    ON frats, the right to associate, I believe, is in Section 8 of the Bill of Rights, Article III—we, old fogies and relics and young blood, have formed Artikulo Tres, which was at the Luneta last September 21, the day of protest the Prez shrewdly hijacked—of the Constitution, which speaks of “[t]he right of the people . . . to form associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law.”

    Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre remarkably cites Section 4 on “the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances”. Huh? But, a neophyte’s dream is mundane: camaraderie and passing the bar, not to air grievances. They assemble in secrecy.

    As in a police stationhouse, the legislature must tell a guest, “you have the right to remain silent. . . .” The Bill of Rights must not be checked at its gate. The right not to speak should not be ignored in Congress.

    Anyway, recall the expensive full-page ads of Digong’s frat (Lex Talionis, which the Prezcalls “the law of the jungle” but retaliation means an eye for an eye, parity or equivalence, also where before it was 7, even 77, eyes, to one), flaunting how prosperous its members are. But, rich and poor, all await our inevitable hour.

    Those who have gone

    For Olympian Bedan cage star Bonnie Carbonnel it came, per our sports scribe, my pal, our sports columnist Jude Roque, last Monday. Bonnie will be missed by those of us treated to the distinct flavor he added, particularly during the storied San Beda-Ateneo NCAA feud in the 1960s, in full throttle by the time I entered the finest law school

    along the entire length and breadth of Mendiola. In recent years, I’d see him at San Beda games, assisting the coach in games redolent of excitement and gunpowder; and recall his monster performances, floating, pirouetting and jack-knifing.

    I also recall Bedan Olympian Eddie Lim, standing at the corner of J.P. Laurel and Concepcion Aguila on January Sundays when we marked with our traditional procession the feast of Sto. Niño. And then he was also gone.

    Olympian Caloy Loyzaga followed later. Caloy was once elected councilor in Manila at a time of more decorum.
    In one training session of San Beda one night in storied Rizal Memorial, Coach Luli Rius raised his foot while I was interviewing him. Mrs. Rius was quick to say, “baje el pie!” And the feared Prussian drillmaster considered himself told and literally put his foot down in sweet surrender: Josme! Takusa din po pala like me.

    A genteel time it was. La cortesia no quita la valentia, courtesy does not detract from valor, Justice Eduardo Caguioa taught us.

    Televised merienda

    It now disappoints to see on TV that while a formal hearing is going on, people are eating. Proper? Why not just have a short lunch break of half an hour, max? But, breaks can reduce our solons’ TV preening time, so I understand.

    Now the Senate reportedly holds hearings at six p. m., like last Monday, as Sherlock Holmeses. Would it not conflict with the usual business (lawmaking) time, which is not televised?

    And no televised merienda sana during actual hearings; eating in the course of a congressional hearing detracts from the dignity and solemnity of the process. The famished could step out of camera range. In my time, no merienda even, after Kuya Teroy Laurel raised the issue if free food would be an unconstitutional addition under Section 10 of Article VI of the Constitution, to our pay (my take-home: P14,612.50.) I had to bring my own baon. Today, in Customs, revived is the tale that a new employee, on his first pay day, would blurt: “Ibig po nyong sabihin, may sweldo pa?” Tara-ra-ra-ran.

    When I visited Indonesia at the start of this millennium, I was told that cell phones were not allowed in the legislative session hall. I don’t know if that is still the practice today.

    It used to be said that 1) in Singapore, you deal across the table; 2) in the Philippines, under the table; and 3) in Indonesia, you include the table! Now Nos. 2 and 3 have been reversed? What is Digong’s anti-corruption program other than prosecute ang mga di po ka-rancho?

    What is his program to improve working conditions, on better pay with health care and pensions?

    In Singapore, the leader is now a son of Lee Kuan Yew. Hmmmm. Maybe in 2022, it would be daughter Sara, with Alan Peter Cayetano(?), which just might be better than Manny Pacquiao-Mocha Uson? Or Sara-Mocha the way Digong is favoring the two. Susmariano!

    In our free country, I like the way the Prez allows marches and assemblies, which disrupt skeds and disturb people. But, precisely, inconveniencing them is the whole point; we’d rather have them think of what they would rather not think about. The next generation, not only the next appointment. In our poor country, his war against drugs so far has been a war against the poor.

    One point he and I are on the same page is the return of the Bells of Balangiga. Had I been in the Batasan for the last SONA, I would have stood up with Samar Rep. Raul Daza to cheer when Prez Digong mentioned the bells, emphatically, in that they belong here. A forebear of Raul, Eugenio, was one of the wily patriotic leaders of the September 28, 1901 attack on the breakfasting US soldiers which led to the move of two bells to Fort Warren just outside of Cheyenne.

    There I saw them in 1992 (one is with an army unit in South Korea). In Cheyenne, was a family from UP, which the patriarch said stood for Useless People. When I’d mention this in the presence of my wife, a UP alum, I’d see to it I was not within ear-pinching distance.

    Now, Digong says narco-politicians have been wiretapped. He has not said if judicial permission has been obtained. Now, the Palace says the Cabinet may choose what to disclose in SALN. Huh? More and more signs are emerging that not only does the Prez spit on the anti-dynasty clause in the Constitution. Like his idol, Macoy, he’s behaving like a super-legislature and a one-man continuing constitutional convention.

    Yawa! But, he can apply it to traffic. Last Tuesday, ANC’s Lynda Jumilla had her program, on Balangiga, start at 8 p. m, not the usual half an hour earlier. I came from another planet, Makati. Two hours and a half. My driver was so exhausted he could not report for work the next day.

    If graded on traffic alone, Digong is a dismal failure, as Metro Manilans know only too well.

    Rules disrespected

    My disbarment has been unsuccessfully sought more than once but it has never been publicized. Section 10 of Rule 139 of the Rules of Court says: “Confidential – Proceedings against attorneys shall be private and confidential except that the final order of the court shall be made public as in other cases coming before the court.” So, why the publicity in the disbarment cases of Andy Bautista and Nilo Divina? What will the Supreme Court do to stop the confidentiality rule from being so brazenly disrespected?

    Now I have been invited to a hearing in a Batasan Hall named after a living former speaker. This I warned about after a UP facility was illegally named after a living Macoy disciple, given RA No. 1059, forbidding naming public structures after the living.

    Now the Palace has a new view on SALNs which it calls “redacted.” From where I sit, “fake SALNs.”

    The Civil Service Commission should also implement Section 7 of RA 3019, requiring the public servant to report “the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses income earned, and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding fiscal year.” If the noncompliance is widespread, as I suspect, beginning with the Prez, then let’s have an amnesty with a warning that thereafter, violations would be strictly dealt with.

    Shall we arrest the decay, now creeping, but may soon gallop?


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