September 11 and 21 follies and fallacies

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RENE SAGUISAG

I DON’T know why we mark September 21, 1972 as the day when Marcos inflicted martial law via Proclamation 1081. It was a normal enough Thursday. But, for numerologist Macoy, the number 7 and any of its multiples, like 21, were sacred. I don’t know why we have to live with that gross historical falsification.

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Worse is the Marcoses marking last September 11 as the kleptocratic dictator’s alleged centennial. It was his 101st birth anniversary. My law studes have produced a copy of his birth certificate showing that he was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte in 1916, obtained by one Melvin dela Costa in 1998, issued by Local Civil Registrar Joan A. Duque. It would appear that ABS-CBN has published that historical fact. Normal, it seems, for the Marcoses to falsify.

Right after we ousted Marcos, Joe Mari Velez and Bob Swift filed the historic class suit against him in Hawaii, for an amalgam of reasons, such as exposing and denying a haven to gross human rights violators, to start the healing, etc. I was a Johnny come lately. Looking at the case file, I saw in the record, the testimony of Marcos, where he started by saying that he was born in 1916. Lying under oath is dealt with seriously in the US. Here, casual, no prosecution.

I asked my studes to validate that his centennial was last, not this, year. Last Sunday, it came from my resourceful San Beda Law Alabang studes. His centennial should have been last year. It may not be his fault but the anniversary rites last September 11 in the LNMB (Libingan Ng Mga Mandarambong at Berdugo?) was fake news. Somehow, I was reminded of that epitaph in Ireland: Here A Lawyer Lies Still. He probably misled his pliant family and loyalists to use 1917, 7 being a fave number of the numerologist. Or a multiple of it.

The resourceful studes I will give passing midterm marks. And anybody who can show that anyone in government filed last April proof that he has complied with Sec. 7 of RA 3019, by reporting 1) “amounts and sources of his income”; 2) “the amounts of his personal and family expenses”; and 3) “the amount of income taxes” paid the previous year, I will pass this semester. Permit me to doubt that the Prez et al. are in compliance in our scofflaw nation. He and Pulis Patola Bato de la Rosa even openly encourage duels, criminalized under Art. 261 of our Penal Code. Bato even urges arson, to burn where druggies live. “That’s the way of a clown”?

The cruelest lies
Across the water, Sen. Manny Pacquiao has a chance to correct the damning judicial characterization that he was deceitful and unscrupulous in not seasonably disclosing his odds-changing shoulder injury. LA-based Fil-Am lawyer Ed Lopez said “the Los Angeles US District Court’s decision dismissing the case, has been appealed to the US Federal 9th Circuit. Who knows, the 9th Circuit may think otherwise.” It may reverse, or sustain and clear Manny fully. Else, on his failure to disclose his injury, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote that the cruelest lies are often told in silence. Shirazi Saadi said to be silent when it is time to speak is an irrevocable mistake (as well as to speak when it is time to be silent).

But, Digong, the lawyer, is correct in saying that son Pulong, vice mayor of Davao City (not mayor of vice), has the human and constitutional right not to speak in the Senate (and even not to exhibit his tattoo; hmmm, do Pulong and Sen. Sonny Trillanes have a common talkative kulasisi or lover?). The praxis in the US is to seek immunity from some court, which routinely cooperates with a co-equal branch. There, a resource person may invoke the Fifth Amendment (right to remain silent) but if immunity for him some court grants, he must talk.

Will Digong speak on the latest hazing death? His own Lex TalionisFraternitas often understandably speaks glowingly on the bonding paradise’s perks. But, I wonder why he characterized Lex Talionis as the “law of the jungle.” Did he have in mind our Red Lions – Kings of the NCAA jungle?

Lenny Villa was killed in frat hazing on February 11, 1991. His case was finally terminated in 2016, or 25(!) years later, courtesy of hardworking Chief Justice Meilou Sereno (ending the ordeal of the innocent accused, includingthat of our client, Zos Mendoza). It seems to me the Supreme Court’s task or focus is “to decide cases,” given the horrid delay in our courts, compounded by today’s SC intramurals.

SALN non-compliance not heinous enough
SALNs are subject to a review and compliance procedure. The filer is given a chance to review and comply. The lead implementer or enforcer is the Civil Service Commission (Sec. 12), for administrative purposes, not the Office of the Ombudsman, which prosecutes, in case of recalcitrance if review and compliance would fail to correct or complete the SALN. That was my personal intent as Senate co-author and sponsor of RA 6713, which just might count for something, I would hope.

Given the light probationable penalties in RA 6713 (Sec. 11), it cannot be heinous enough to warrant the use of “the rusted blunderbuss” that is impeachment. Unfortunate CJ Rene Corona’s case was distinguishable as he was a post-midnight appointee, named by GMA who was supposed to be a mere caretaker, for a smooth transition, not an undertaker, for her successor, then known (May 17, 2010, PNoy had won). That Senate Prez JPE was bribed by PNoy to convict is for the comic page. Seventeen other senators voted to convict with him.

Were I to take a psycho test, I’d probably flunk. I may be no raving maniac but I fought martial law from pre-Day One and even some kin and friends thought my headhad not been properly and tightly screwed on. Wifey Dulce was in support which was all that mattered. In January 1987, I was handed a signed Supreme Court appointment. I was 47. I turned it down, without even telling Bosswoman Dulce. For the little I had done, I always thought that serving the people was its own reward. To some, weird, even insane.

I doubt that anyone should be humiliated by pressing on the issue of one’s sanity. To aspire to be an overworked, overcriticized, underpaid and under-appreciated public servant, and impeached at the end of the day, should not be the New Abnormal. The SC should decide cases, and not behave or be seen as a Circular Firing Squad.

The end of the beginning
September 21, 1972 was a Thursday. Ho-hum. September 22, Friday, was when JPE falsely claimed to have been ambushed; hours later, Pepe Diokno and NinoyAquino were arrested. September 23 was when the people felt the sting of martial law. No newspapers, no radio-TV, no long hair, curfew, and the long night began.

The Dioknos and Aquinos I joined at EDSA on September 23, 1972, and on February 22, 1986, JPE, FVR and Gringo crossed over from the wrong side of EDSA and joined the suffering people the military had long kicked around.

Ninoy, I met only once, in 1982, at Harvard in Cambridge and in his Newton home. We talked for about 10 hours, meaning he spoke for nine hours and 45 minutes. I spoke from time to time to remind him I was not part of the furniture, in my fascination with a consummate conversationalist. Talk of gift of gab. The first time he called me, in a Boston hotel, he made me feel like a long-lost fellow Bedan friend. “`Neeee!” The first time I saw him was when he was San Beda’s fiery riveting 1964 commencement speaker. But, I remember better Amalia Fuentes going on stage with a graduating nephew, with her even more riveting eloquent body English.

Anyway, February 15, 1986 was not the end of ML. It was the end of the beginning (Churchill), of August 21, 1983, when Ninoy was salvaged at the airport, exactly as his mother had foreseen. As Danish-American pastor Kristian Ostergaard wrote –

That cause can neither be lost nor stayed
Which takes the course of what God has made;
And is not trusting in walls and towers,
But slowly growing from seeds to flowers…

Thereby itself like a tree it shows;
That high it reaches, as deep it grows;
And when the storms are its branches shaking,
It deeper root in the soil is taking.

Be then no more by a storm dismayed,
For by it the full-grown seeds are laid;
And though the tree by its might it shatters,
What then, if thousands of seeds it scatters?

There’s a lesson for everyone, particularly the ruling class, here.

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