Multiple jeopardy, right not to speak

Rene Saguisag

Rene Saguisag

Last June 7, I wrote in this column: “The other morning, I fell off my chair when I read Business Insight saying that Joker and I worked with Peping Cojuangco to set term limits. Not true.” Well, one has the right NOT to speak. But, what about Joker’s letter to it of June 11, 2013? There he said that he and I “did no such thing.”

So you do not have to believe everything you read in the papers, given daily deadlines.

“Mass layoffs at top-flight . . . law firm” IHT,. June 26, 2013, p. 18, col. 1. The ellipsis is for “U.S.” OK, not the top-flight Taguig Firm, crawling with topnotch UP alums not one of whom, to my knowledge, has spoken in defense of its renaming taxpayer property for Ka Cesar Virata. Only the Jesuitical jiu-jitu of my pal, layman Popoy de Vera.

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc should not discipline our enterprising Jomar Canlas in a society like ours, which leaks like a sieve. Officials feed favored journalists what should be kept in court, etc. But, life in government is living in a hardy climate. More speech, not less. And, what might have been wrong in saying “it [alleged tantrum]never happened and I am sorry to read that the SC is seen as leaking. This would discourage candor in our discussions since at times we toss out tentative views as devil’s advocates.” Not as Devils Incarnate.

Justice Marvic, I know enough of you, I think. Keep the high ground. Stand on principle. Consider journalists’ deadlines. Being misperceived as pikon will only encourage further bullying of a sort. You and the rest all have better things to do.

To illustrate: On February 1, 2012, my client, Aquila Legis member Zos Mendoza, was acquitted for the third time but today still awaits the resolution of yet another motion to reconsider in an incredible case of not double, triple, quadruple, but quintuple or multiple jeopardy, possibly because some justices are too preoccupied leaking stuff to favorites. Not in this case, but many a time your hear about a motion for consideration.

Good to see Chief Justice Sereno and Associate Justice de Castro working together to give our people a better life. Appointees were picked per an accepted institutional arrangement, which must be strengthened, not undermined. GMA may have lowered the bar but everybody can grow in office. We cannot have in Padre Faura another Circular Firing Squad. One could be a Holmes, a JBL, or a Learned Hand and be admired forever and a day.

And the Supreme Court should stop issuing unworkable rules. In an earlier life, I was a hard-nosed litigator, in court almost daily, e.g., every afternoon with Art Panganiban and Tony Abad in the Astorga-Gomez election case in 1963-67, before tough Judge Arsenio Solidum.

I sympathize with prosecutors grousing about the Judicial Affidavit (JA) rule. Not easy preparing a JA and they may not have the time to execute one. The witness, say, in a vehicular incident, may even be busier eking out a living. And all sorts of objectionable stuff creative lawyers can put in.

As to pre-trials in criminal cases, I have always objected to same as defense counsel, when I was still actively litigating, because my accused clients have the right NOT to speak. Anything misspoken, trouble.

The Senate, the House, and the judges should always tell the one whose fate is on the line: You have a right to remain silent and not condemn yourself, which these institutions honor more in the breach than in the observance. In the U.S., one can plead the Fifth (against self-incrimination or suicide), as it were, and avoid inquisitorial misadventures. We have not moved away from the Inquisition, which here has led to suicides.

But, UP may have no right not to speak and may owe the people a step-by-step account how it happened that a college is named after a living person, arguably violating R.A. No. 1059.

As regards silent Ka Cesar Emilio Aguinaldo Virata, has the good man said anything since martial law? He has had a checkered career, like Emilio Aguinaldo..

Anyway, the new JA Rule would show a lawyer’s, not a witness’s, passion for precision and conciseness but nothing of the witness’s demeanor on direct examination.

UP Law’s Malcolm Hall may be renamed after sharp cross-examiners: Enrile, Mendoza (Titong), Jojobama, and others, including Sigma Rhogues from ACCRA and The Firm.

Obstaa principiis, resist the first encroachment, by sticking to the rules, such as in identifying and naming justices.

Business Insight misspelled the surname of Justice Noel Tijam (as Tejam) when lauding him. He was a jewel in San Beda Law Class ’71. I will support him and Justice Joey Reyes to succeed good egg Bobby Abad next May. In San Beda we were taught the very quaint way to pronounce Puig, in Puig-Pena, a civil law authority. Not as spelled. UP mahirap ispelengen.

I bumped into Cong. Abby Binay last Tuesday evening in Cash N Carry here in Palanan, Makati (where I was enjoying my Apos-tolate). The Cong.LLB should have been the one made to run by Jojobama. But, it’s done and Nancy deserves a fair shot. Now that we have new members of Congress “seminared” to learn, what do we do? One thing to teach them is to be like Sen. Byrd of poor West Virginia, who improved his state with his pork barrel. Why should the thieves in the Executive have all the fun?

Another problem is Pareng Boy Brillantes of the Comelec and others being sued here. Good. That is the institutional arrangement. (Will some UP law alum question UP’s seeming violation of R.A. No. 1059 in l’affaire Virata?)

Taking the Comelec to the UN for it to decide our fate as a nation by nations from faraway places with strange-sounding names may not be the way to go. We never elected or appointed them and the UN is not in the business of overseeing national elections.

How to pronounce “august” if a solon would use it. Ah, Monica Puig in tennis. In San Beda, we were taught that Puig (as in Puig-Pena) is pronounced Pooich.

Fr. Benabarre, TY, for confirmation, and bon voyage, at his departure to attend the beatification of 28 Spanish Benedictine monks, martyrs of the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. Some Bedans are going with you on July 8 to Tarragona, you say. Is Century’s Joey Antonio going? A Bedan ’66 Commerce alum, cum laude, he has Wharton kids now in the news, for allegedly violating zoning, ethical and legal norms in ostentation at a time of want.

I hail Pope Francis for snubbing, last Saturday, a concert, the high life, and preferring to work with low-life figures in his simple Spartan way.

On norms, why should government pay for the Ampatuan Massacre victims as suggested by my good friend, Harry Roque? My late wife was telling me of a poor father of a classmate of a son of ours in San Beda. Killed by hooligans. No serious probe. No case filed.

Why should only headline-grabbing cases victims be prioritized in our poor country as we ration out justice? The press and lawyers are higher in the pecking order? And women are seemingly getting all the breaks in recent legislation. I may have started the trend,

On July 26, 1990, the Senate approved, on third reading, my Senate Bill No. 1438 to admit women into the PMA. But it took the Women in Nation-Building Act of Raul Roco & Co for me to insert in conference (the Third House, after the Bigger and Better Houses), where I simply removed the sex requirement for admission, in R.A. No. 7191 of 1991. It might not have been the right decision but in government, one’s choices could be bad, worse and worst.

Despite the lack of widespread outrage or clamor, some want a manual recount. Others want the Ampatuan victims compensated. They may speak from their bivouacs.

But as one who for a year was in the commanding heights, I felt like the widower left with a dozen kids all wanting to have a blanket each, when I could afford only four. So mamaluktot muna. All have valid competing claims but one would have to do with the reality of the situation in dealing with fellow Bedan Ado Paglinawan for a manual recount or Panyero Harry Roque’s claim for compensation..

Tita Helena Benitez is 99. Happy birth anniversary.. Not the type who will say on the witness stand that she is “of legal age.” Having been a Senator myself, ssssh, huwag nyo na lang pagsasabi, I fantasize with the Irish youth, to live to be a hundred, when I’’ll be shot to death, in bed, caught in flagrante with a kulasisi, by a jealous boyfriend.


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  1. True, GMA made a mess of our judiciary when she appointed a dollar-depositor and gun-totting Chief Justice. CJ Sereno has not even warmed her seat but after learning to wade into the Judicial shoals in due time would make a better if not the best CJ the nation had. Everyone has the right to prove himself/herself akin to giving the benefit of the doubt. Besides, one has to wear the shoes first to know where they pinch, ouch. Even a first-timer to school toddler behaves like a weaned puppy until he gets acclimatized with the new order. PCOS, after random audit of the last elections, registered a 99.97% accuracy ratio. Hooray to Chair BoyB.

  2. Sir, excuse the correction to “obstaa” (in obstaa principis): obsta (from “obstare” – to prohibit). Como se suele, me gusta mucho tus ensayos.

  3. GMA lowered the bar? C’mon, GMA’s appointees unquestionably were much much better qualified, academically, intellectually, and by reputation in legal circles than this PCOS President’s appointees. What special qualification do you think legitimately earned for Sereno her position as CJ? Cige nga?