No to the death penalty! Digong and human rights


I HAD wanted not to oppose my fellow Bedan Digong Duterte during his so-called political honeymoon period, but his early advocacy of the anti-poor-eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth-rape-the-rapist death penalty forces my hand, sandbags me and makes me do so now. (He’s our Prez-elect; what “presumptive” Prez? Reminds me of Consumptive.)
The penalty was not restored during my Senate watch (1987-92) due to my personal “filibuster” against it, as much as anything else. It was returned in 1993 and killed again in 2006, thanks to GMA. In my last meet with Joker Arroyo, he said that in a visit to Europe his hosts could not praise us enough for discarding the penalty. Not severity, but swiftness and certainty, of punishment, deter. I doubt if any criminal carries the Revised Penal Code to see what crime he can afford based on the penalty. The Supermarket theory of the criminal law I don’t buy. Which Digong does but how does he explain it to the Pope should he go to Rome? Not “from extrajudicial killing anymore, we’ve moved on to judicial murder.”

Digong has declared war against the human rights community, which opposes executions, judicial or extrajudicial. It may signal the wrong D, Decay, not Deliverance. My pal, Tony Lopez, reports that Edsa traffic “violators will be stripped naked in front of media.” (Standard, May 17, 2016, p. A10, col. 5). I am incredulous. If true, another sign of Decay. The cycle is supposed to be Savagery, Civilization and Decay.

99.99 percent of those we have executed were poor, thanks to laws imposing death authored by wealthy lawmakers who probably deserve it, if at all, we must have it. (The House and Senate may be housed under one roof, in the Muntinlupa penitentiary, so certain members can conveniently serve two terms, one in office, the other, in jail.)
I lament the decay or death of reason by those who talk of hypotheticals. Where does it say that if Bongbong leads at the start it would not be necessary to proceed with the count?
Why slur Leni? Is she (and hubby Jesse) linked to any electoral skullduggery? I accept there was massive vote-buying last week. But, I cannot believe someone cheated for Digong. If one did, it would have been possible for others to pad Mar’s votes, for a narrower margin at least. Vox populi, vox Dei.

Serge Osmeña, a Senate jewel, has graciously accepted that he lost, fair and square. He should be returned in 2019. The VP? If there was cheating in regard to No. 2, why would Leni’s imagined cheater not cheat for others also? If only to shave margins? Correcting a minor misspelling is de minimis, from where I sit.

It is the Marcoses who have long experience in massive poll cheating.

1969 – goons, guns and gold.

1973 saw them getting the 1973 Siopao Consti. Asked in Barangay Assemblies who wanted siopao, nearly 100 percent raised their hands, which were listed as “yes” votes.

1978 – Laban, led by Ninoy, lost to Imelda and many nonentities and Kenkoys (but despite
the cheating, we won 13-8 in Pasig, thanks to Uncle Jovy and Bobbit Sanchez, my townsmen).

1980 – Massive cheating. Ask Ben Abalos and Josue San Pedro on their Mandaluyong experience, replicated all over the land.

1981 – Boycott was the response. “Pinaboto na nga kayo, gusto pa niyong bilangin. Abuso. Sobra.” FM had to trot out a token oppo candidate.

1986 – Comelec staff walked out, as the body did not know how to count (per Monching Mitra). JPE confessed on Feb. 22, 1986 that he had cheated by 300,000 votes in Cagayan alone.

Fruit never falls far from the tree. It is the Marcoses who cheat, not the squeaky-clean Robredos. Bongbong confirmed to Raissa Robles in Feb. 2012 that he had a direct hand in trying to withdraw $213 from a Swiss bank in 1986. Embroidered pa ang university credentials. Talagang anak ng Tatay at Nanay niya.

Digong could not have cheated but he must allow me to differ.

1) I read his appeal to lawmakers not to abuse resource persons. (Phil. Star, May 17, 2016, p. 2, col. 1.) We’re on the same page here. No more Jimmy Ongpin and Angie Reyes driven to suicide by the Senate.

2) Hanging? Cruel, unusual and degrading. I am unalterably opposed to the death penalty. Popular move? But, a leader is not a mere weathervane.

3. Visit to Rome? Urong-sulong. Why? The death penalty as a gift? I am sure the Pope welcomes saints and sinners. But, to bring his reported fave companion with him would present problems. Iwanan na lang? But, a background check would indicate that in the Church’s eyes, Digong is a public sinner, who has cohabited with a companion for decades without the benefit of clergy. Has anyone researched Rome’s record in this respect as to Catholics? Forgiving Rome is not a Davao City Barangay of Unforgiving Digong, a womanizer who has canceled the prematurely ballyhooed trip.

3.1. Known adulterers welcome? But, what about the youth who look at Prezes as role models? OK pala si Pangulo mag-kalaguyo. . . . Does Digong admire Clinton, FDR, JFK, et al., all the way to Jefferson? And Quezon, et al. But, “discreet” may be the key word. Erap may be sui generis.

4. On going home to Davao, do we have the government aircraft fleet to fly a presidential party, including advisers, security, medics, et al. DAILY? Pastor Quiboloy offers his aircraft and would even answer for the fuel. But, for Digong to accept would open the giver and recipient to prosecution under PD No. 46, etc. Using PAL, etc. would mean humongous expenses and logistical concerns daily. Skeds would be disrupted as wang-wang approaches. So he cannot sing to anyone in Davao every day, “you’d be so nice to come to.” How sweet but he has to sacrifice.

4.1. On using religious leader Quiboloy’s fancy aircraft, how can he direct his Cabinet, et al. to use ordinary vehicles? What if they own fancy vehicles and use the same (they pay for gas in that case)? And no OA, Digong—Bullet-Proof Digong—Mobile Pick-Up?

5. Will the Dutertes (a political dynasty in their own wrong) come clean on their alleged bank deposits? Transparency, openness.

Problems can drive one to drink. Up to 10 p.m. only? One o’clock a.m.? Two? Prohibition failed in the US. I see a human rights dimension here, the tension between seeing liquor as demon run or the oil of conversation (which I heard in Singapore in 1971).

I read this week in the Manila Bulletin’s NYT Int’l Weekly supplement: “From her apartment at the foot of the celebrated zigzags of Lombard Street, Judith Calson has twice peered out her window as thieves smashed their way into cars and snatched whatever they could. She has seen foreign tourists cry after cash and passports were stolen. She shudders when she recounts the story of the Thai tourist because he resisted thieves taking his camera. And that is her tally from the last year alone.” (May 16, 2016, p. 14, col. 3.) The above, from Dirty Harry’s very own city. No one cries “hang ‘em.”

Civilized San Fran “is known for a political tradition of empathy for the downtrodden, now divided over whether to respond with more muscular law enforcement or stick to its forgiving attitudes.” (Id.)

I am not for arresting the urchins and their parents who sleep in our Palanan sidewalks or on the Marconi bridge separating Makati and Pasay. The scene can tear away one’s heart by the roots. (Of course, the law in its majestic equality forbids the wealthy Dutertes and the truly poor, alike, from sleeping on sidewalks and bridges, to paraphrase Anatole France.)

I doubt if any San Fran candidate vows that he will end crime in months and feed the fish in the Bay with human carcass. Crime is a permanent problem of the human race. Can be reduced but not permanently eradicated. Not even in the City of Dirty Harry.

June 30 may mean continued 1) Deliverance from the dark Marcosian era, as Digong builds on what Cory, FVR, Erap and GMA have done, or 2) acceleration of Decay.

We are all pledged to help Digong succeed but at times he and his team may need to be protected from themselves. And from the Iglesia ni Cristo. Last Tuesday, I had a hearing in the Sandiganbayan. Abbreviated and aborted due to the choked traffic. Can Digong ask the INC not to hold medical missions on a working day, please? Maybe some weekend with advance notice. Sticklers for rights are a menace. There are corresponding duties. Such missions violate the human rights of many others. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Don’t bully.

My mantra is do the right thing in the right way in the right place at the right time for the right reason.

Execution is wrong. So is stripping, despite UP’s Oblation Run in our Scofflaw Society by MAD (Mga Anak ng Diyos). Speed limit at Edsa? The more common quotidian problem is how to move faster than turtles or snails.

But, we should make haste slowly, Mr. Prez-elect, Sec. Bingbong Medialdea, Sec. Vit Aguirre and Sec. Art Tugade. Digong’s win helps validate that frats take you where the power is and may make it harder for San Beda to ban the same. You may consult Gibo Teodoro, UP Law, No. 1 in the bar, and Harvard, son of admirable Bedan Gilberto Teodoro, who, as SSS honcho, could say no to “the First Lady wants this.” I must have last met Gibo when a state-of-the-art room named after his father was inaugurated in Mendiola.


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  1. Ang tagal in apply yun sinasabi nyo Mr. Saguisag – pero lumala criminalidad – Ibig sabihin lang nun hindi effective yan sinasabi nyo. Pang FAIRY TALE lang yan..

  2. Isn’t it that politicians when on a campaign panders to their listeners? And, those listeners take lightly these words, for they know the speaker doesn’t really mean to do exactly what was spoken, just the same it makes them dream of the possibilties, but don’t expect much coming out of it.

    So why over-react on the idea that Duterte would like to use his iron-fist on the criminal elements of our society. Yet there is not the same over-reaction on how BS Cojuangco-Aquino III, mis-manage criminality in our society for the last nearly six years of mis-rule, the center of concern with regards to human rights abuse, are more for the protection of the criminal elements in our society, rather than the bonafide innocent civilians, lucky for the likes of you who might consider yourselves ‘untouchable’ because you are offered protection by association with the powers-that-be.

    Those who fear punishment, are people who hates discipline, for those who follow and abides by the law have nothing to fear of, because they know how not to break the law – Human Rights are only for those who knows and wants to abuse the law, because they knowingly have access into this organization, which would willingly provide them protection from prosecution. And, in the interest of being politically and controversially famous and popular.

  3. So if Bonget confirms that he had a direct hand in withdrawing the money, it automatically means that the provenance of the money is illegitimate? What kind of reasoning does this computerized senator have? The Marcos “money” are paper assets which Marcos in his wisdom allowed certain countries to use to have them print their Notes/currencies and use for their development. Do you think there was enough money to steal in Philippine coffers to finance, for example, Malaysia or Singapore’s development in their formative years? The “paper assets” are proceeds of trading profits (buy/sell of MTNs) using the insurance cover for those gold as the “seed capital”, which gold Mr. Marcos can not sell because he is not the “legal owner”. Pinagkakitaan na yun gold so even if they still remain physically in bunkers in the country, any proceeds from sales now are just “gravy” – altho the gravy would still amount to trillions. Hence, those people ranting “ibalik and ninakaw” do not know what they are talking about because there never was anything na “nakaw”. By the way, I believe that those gold in the bunkers are what tsay-nah is targetting with their planned invasion of the country. They are calculating that even if aremika “helped”, that help will still take six months to arrive by which time they have already escaped with their loot.

    That incident was already related in a book written during the 90s by a Marcos aide and entitled From Malacañang to Maikiki and the money was supposed to be used to finance a coup to bring back Marcos to Manila. The banker absconded the money and lied to Mr. Joe Al as if it was a “patriotic act” in order to save his life and the rest is history. That money was a portion of that which was targetted during Operation Big Bird. That banker was still lucky that his life was spared altho he was still so elusive even when he was already back in Manila selling those big bikes.

  4. Kudos, Mr. Saguisag. It is heartening and encouraging that well-known human rights lawyers such as yourself, continue to be observant, and are not cowed and silenced by the threat and intimidation being spread by the new president-elect Mayor R. Duterte and his team. Unless the Philippine military succumbs to his blandishments by bribing them with higher salaries (and thereby agreeing to martial law), I don’t think he will succeed in trampling the democratic institutions that are currently in place, no matter how “messy” they maybe. Although there are many turncoats in the new congress, most of the members are, hopefully, still endowed with a reasonable amount of intelligence and common sense that they will not meekly surrender, without a fight or amendments, to Duterte’s proposed “extermination” agenda. Ordering Congress for a return of the death penalty means “war” with the Catholic Church! No way that this country will, without resistance, return to a form of Government murder! Picking up this issue as a “line on the sand” is going to be just a waste of time, effort and resources.

    Let us wish him the new president-elect good luck. But let us keep on being watchful, alert and vigilant. Although Mayor Duterte won the presidential contest, let us not forget that a majority of the country did not vote for him. There were just too many presidential candidates in this election cycle.

  5. Lauren Cortez on

    Mr. Rene;

    On INC humanitarian activity, does helping poor people on “tuesdays” breaks any law of our land? NONE. or the Bible? NONE. Are you not helping people on weekdays? mukhang… does the INC acquired permit from the authorities before hosting such event? YES… What then is your problem? Why didn’t you interview one of those recipients of the medical mission to see the whole picture? – Hinay-hinay sa pambu-bully mo… baka bumalik sayo yan…

  6. You call the traffic jam a ”human rights violation.” but you do not consider the ”inhumanities” of this article to those who are suffering everyday. Do realize that the government of this country (Oligarchs) can barely feed the poor even with an immense budget. Your piece in criticizing the INC is outright offensive to those who came there struggling to make sure that they don’t die the next day and live for another year. Please be considerate of your less fortunate brothers and sisters.

  7. CHR is for protection of criminals caught in the act or suspected criminals arrested by authorities. Where was CHR when innocent people became victims of these criminals? Naia Laglag bala, kidapawan, mamasapano, businesswomen placed inside a drum by police scalawags?

  8. I’m just happy, for once today in your column, you did not malign Pacquiao. 15 million people or so voted for him.

  9. Grace Garcia on

    “…his team may need to be protected from themselves. And from the Iglesia Ni Cristo.”

    Protection from the INC? This is grossly bigoted at best. Ano po ba ang ginawang masama ng INC sa inyo o sa sambayanang Pilipino para sabihin nyo na kailangan ng proteksyon laban sa INC?

    Kumukuha po ng kaukulang permiso ang INC bago magdaos ng anumang aktibidad sa mga pampublikong lugar. Nag-aabiso rin po sa publiko ang INC bago magkakaroon ng malaking gawain tulad ng medical mission noong nakaraang Martes. Nakikipag ugnayan din po ang mga maytungkulin sa INC sa kinaukulang LGU para masiguro ang kaayusan at seguridad ng mga dadalo. Bakit hindi weekend ginawa? Higit na marami po ang gampanin ng mga kaanib ng INC tuwing weekend.

    Tanong ko po, kung ibang organisasyon ba ang nagsagawa ng ganitong aktibidad at natrapik kayo masasabi nyo pa ba kaya na kailangan ng proteksyunan laban sa kanila?

    It seems to me Mr. Saguisag, sir, you are just intolerant of the INC.

    Please be thoughtful. Be considerate. Don’t bully.

    • “Tanong ko po, kung ibang organisasyon ba ang nagsagawa ng ganitong aktibidad at natrapik kayo masasabi nyo pa ba kaya na kailangan ng proteksyunan laban sa kanila?”

      Una, ang ibang grupo hindi nag medical mission sa GITNA ng KALSADA!! B O B O!!! Pangalawa, kung may activity yung iba MAY NOTICE atleast a week, eh KAYO WALA mga B O B O!!!

    • Sabi mo kumuha kayo permiso, eh sino ba GAGONG politiko tatanggi sa inyo, takot lang nila at baka hindi nyo na sila iboto… Dapat mapigilan mga katulad nyo.. sana talaga parusahan na kayo ng Diyos kahit na alam ko mali ito. SALOT na kayo dito sa Pilipinas gaya ng AbuSayyaf at mga NPA.

    • Edgar Nuera on

      Last Tuesday, I had a hearing in the Sandiganbayan. Abbreviated and aborted due to the choked traffic…

      Understand where this old fella coming from. He feels he is entitiled of VIP treatment by the government and blames the INC for what not.

      Super bigoted indeed!

  10. Having Duterte as president is a big gamble. Our country is at time uncontrolable. I call it ANARCHY. Violators from the lowly tact drivers to the highest position in the land. Are we going to do the same o same o attitude or a big change. Pilipinos elected Doterte to bring criminals to justice or to hell. As he said, that is the language of the criminals. The language is I rob and kill you or my family will die of hunger. That is why it is a gamble. This system attracts massive corruption . Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Since he is the president elect elected my millions of Pilipinos, my prayer is his tract record in Davao. He reduced not eliminated crimes and drugs without massive corruption. There might be corruption in a minimal portions. There is always corruption in this country. The question is how massive the corruption having Marcos as the biggest and Pnoy as the smallest or is it the other way around?

    • Both are corrupt and stink to high heaven, but its impossible to compare an orange to an apple……the CHR does not raise a howl when criminal victims are garroted with a steel wires and cremated …… or when rebels decapitate civilians and soldiers and place the genitals into their mouths…

    • That is the reason we need Duterte, not mar, not Poe, not Binay not Defensor. One has to fight fire with fire. This guy is a confessed killer. We do not need an angel like Poe, a sickly person like Defensor, a master of economics like Mar or a nognog like Binay. We need a bad dude. A man of the street, a kanto boy.

  11. These are sobering thoughts. Amidst a backdrop of a soaring economy the impending realities of the new rein is contradictory and worrisome. Why the show of Rambo’s wrath and carnage? Can we not focus on the reasons why crimes are committed and start there instead of delivering executions?? We are no longer in the Dark Ages.

  12. With the way many Filipinos have abused their freedom , by ignoring the rule of Law , acting like they are above the Law , Mr Saguisag , Time has changed, your time is no longer relevant. If US has death penalty it can be done if ” many has no respect for the law. To steal is no excuse ” which is evidently being exercise by many supposedly elected politicians and elite who use their money to go unpunished. Filipinos went to cast their vote crying for decent paying job at home, but yet they vote hoping their vote will be respected but they were cheated by their own , they thought can be trusted .

  13. “Fruit never falls far from the tree.”

    How dare you imply that Ninoy Aquino is a traitor, and his son Noynoy is one as well.