Vive la différence!

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RENE SAGUISAG

CORINNE Calvet may not ring a bell for my young readers, if any. She was a French actress. Voluptuous. In 1951 to 1955, I, as a Pasig Rizal Hi stude, kept hearing about her from an older Francophile classmate. With raging hormones, he just kept raving about her. In 1963, as a law grad, I saw Irma la Douce. (In 1969, I married my Dulce la Douce, my Mrs. Universe.) Today, how delightful to hear “La Vie en Rose.” My little voulez vous, etc. French connection I got from auditing, briefly, in 1967, a French class at San Beda handled by Mlle. Odile Bresolette (?), where I picked up a little French. Un peu.

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Miss France, Iris Mittenaere, tres ravissante, won as Miss Universe last Monday. Our pert bet, Maxine, was in the Top Six. Tres bien.

To France we owe liberte egalite fraternite (today, we may have to add sororite). What one law teacher taught us at San Beda was that on debating whether to give women the right to vote, in the French Parliament (Chambre des Deputes), an advocate, in peroration, supposedly boomed: “That is why, mes amis, we have to give women the right to vote, for after all, between men and women, there is but a little difference!” Whereupon, the entire male assemblage rose to its feet, and declared with effervescence, with that kind of passion that whips the blood: “Vive la difference!” The French explain why they kiss a woman’s hand, “mon ami, you’ve to start somewhere.” (Merci, Secretary George Shultz.)

Miss Universe reminds me that much of the known universe reacted negatively to Prez Trump’s ban on the entry of certain nationals. We could have just kept quiet but instead Prez Digong openly supported the bigot, not helpful and comforting to our countless TNTs. Digong made the proper gesture though of welcoming any interested alien refugee, impractical as it may be; he could have cited the way MLQ welcomed the vilified and persecuted Jews, Quirino, the White Russians, and Marcos, et al., the Viets, Cambodians and Laotians. We should not depart from our civilized human rights tradition on refugees, of providing way stations, and not highlight our support for bigot Trump’s racist interdiction, to our countrymen’s prejudice.

The Pope Digong cussed is quoted to have said, one may not reject refugees and call himself a Christian. Recall the pixes of kids crying on rejection at the borders, which can tear one’s heart by the roots.

Nice that government has moved because a SoKor was brutally victimized, but with lives of the local poor, collaterized as damaged, merely put in the back burner. It falls all over itself scrambling to give justice to an alien. Pero Pinoy, pobre, sori. So, wawa naman. Little in life, nothing in law.

But, Prez Digong, who vowed to “do justice to every man,” can better allocate his time.

He should leave it to Executive Secretary Bingbong Medialdea and Justice Secretary Vit Aguirre, if need be, to prejudge and condemn people lest a mistrial be declared by a courageous judiciary. If the Prez announces X as guilty, and orders his arrest (usurping a judicial function), he leaves himself no wiggle room which an alter ego provides, and sandbags those below. Prez Nixon prejudged Charles Manson & Co. for the grisly slaying of actress Sharon Tate & Co in 1969. Widely assailed, the White House quickly apologized; it stressed that it was not Nixon’s intent to prejudge the case. Here, our Prez prejudges all the time, as Macoy did. And the bar is so quiet, in the main, like the German lawyers in Hitler’s time.

When I was in the Senate (1987-1992), we viewed the local police and the Philippine Constablary (PC) as allowing themselves to be goons of incumbents in their fiefdoms. (Fifty-one Pinoy constables joined the Kanos in the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre. Pure Pinoy troopers burned Jolo and killed 20,000 natives on February 7 to 8, 1974.) We decided to dissolve the PC, and create a national police force, to take over in time the domestic insurgency problem. The military would take care of national defense, and protect us from alien invaders (but in the West Philippine Sea dispute, we seem to have prevented China from raping us by simply lying back to enjoy it, for economic gain. PI! High-class prostitution. Now Digong asks China to help patrol our southern waters; Trojan seahorse?). 9/11 was not even a figment in our imagination in 1987-1992. The hope was that mayors won’t have their own thugs in their turf in the way of private armies and lost commands (today, vigilantes).

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has a Special Action Force, to match the toughest of the tough in the AFP. It is not fair, it seems to me, for the Prez to blame Noynoy for allegedly sending in boys to do a man’s job. Elite SAF troopers are not boys. Not Pulis Patolas at all. Men they are.

If Mamasapano is reinvestigated, it should not be limited to the gallant 44, but also to the Muslim civvies killed or injured, beginning with Sara, 5. Why not Mamasapano 67? Not only the fabled and favored 44 whose loved ones may try to begin to understand that when any trooper goes to enemy lair, it may mean “goodnight”. The 44 have been recognized and rewarded for bagging Marwan, with $6 million on his head (did the bounty matter?). But, not the collateral damage. Nada from Manila, for Sara, et al. No audience with the Prez for her parents, both wounded in Mamasapano. By whom, it should be established.

The widows and PNoy critics may have their “alternative facts.” Whew! Before Trump, “version” or “spin” would have done. Mine is that Pinoy answers to his conscience, his God and history. JPE to help send Noynoy to jail for treason, a war crime? Did JPE and Macoy commit arson and murder in sending troops to burn Jolo on February 7 to 8, 1974 and killing 20,000, shielded by a heavily censored media (e.g., Daily Suppress, Manila Bullshitin, etc..)?

If Noynoy had not been charged by the Ombudsman, it seems to me the remedy is to go to the Supreme Court, not the press. Not to politicize and try and convict by publicity. The local superstition is that our President is immune, as if we have royalty. Mga dugong bughaw. Lese majeste. Backward USA does not share our superstition and Prez Turumpong Kangkarot is now facing more than 75 lawsuits, with one from a woman (Summer Zervos) who claimed to have been improperly touched by the cad.

Impeachment of the Ombudsman seems out of the question. Her error, if any, could have been corrected by the Supreme Court if a proper petition had been timely filed after Digong took his oath, given the local undemocratic non-egalitarian legend of immunity for Prezs.

No Prez can worry about any actual police or military operation; he cannot micromanage troopers on the round. He is saddled with too many other pressing simultaneous concerns and cannot confine himself to a war room, for some war game. He answers to his conscience and to history. No one becomes god as President; he remains a fallible mortal, like, say, any coach in basketball. Infallibility is expected only of a Pope, in a limited context at that. And Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human, . . .”

I do not believe in immunity for anyone in government; however, no one there, of course, can be held legally liable for any misjudgment in good faith, in the performance of his official duty or color of it, lest no one serve there anymore, if infallibility is required. The judge who erroneously convicted Hubert Webb & Co and made them stew in jail for more than 15 years, may not be sued, without more.

Secretary Vit Aguirre and I were together in the defense. I had to leave when the judge ordered four trial days a week (our small firm could not manage it) but the superb team of Vit, Mario Ongkiko and Demy Custodio, among others, simply appealed the conviction, and truth and justice prevailed, without going after her.

If this administration believes in presidential immunity, why has it not elevated the Ombudsman’s ruling clearing Noynoy beginning June 30, 2016, when he stepped down? If no one had done it, ala eh, may natulog na naman po yata sa pansitan? The new administration, instead of bellyaching on supposed past failures and neglect, may be better off saying it would build on what it has inherited from Cory, FVR, Erap, GMA and PNoy, correct lapses, and lay down its share of bricks in the national cathedral being built.

It can for instance add to the highways that have made it easier for me to go to Baguio, La Union, Laguna and Batangas. I am told the way to my maternal hometown, Mauban, Quezon, is now concrete, all the way (192 kilometers). Smooth. And we take the smooth with the rough.

Arrogance of power of rulers we have no use for though. The new governors can exercise their bragging rights without demeaning their predecessors, particularly those who did not steal. And private initiative has been helpful. When I met Joe McMicking (JM) in the summer of 1968, in the San Francisco law firm I was summer-clerking in, he told me: “Young man, Makati as it is today, I built.” Hambog, I thought. But, one may contrast Makati and Pasay (no JM). I will never forget his parting shot though (after insulting me at the start: “I don’t like your weak voice. [Ouch] Be like me, when I whisper, my voice carries across the room.” Yabang, I thought, and raised my voice, with some heat. “Better,” he said, and after some time, he concluded: “If you ever need my help anytime anywhere in the future, I am just a phone call away.” Right here. (He then sent fellow Bedan Mario Camacho to recruit me, another story.)

Generous SM, as well as the Ayalas, can rest content that it has done what JM did. Vision matters, punctuated by low-key humility.

Taguig was swampy when I had classmates from there in Rizal High (1951-1955; Nielsen Airport in Makati we’d get horse poo-poo for fertilizer when I was in Makati Elem, 1946-1951, accelerated). Private initiative made the Global City what it is today on the basis of laws we passed in our time in Congress. This administration may be most hambog but then it ain’t braggin’ when you can back it up [Reggie Jackson), so, we wish it well. (It certainly is the most bloodstained; sana di na kill pa more.) Let us see whether it can give our many who are poor a better life, extracting a fraction of what the few who are rich have,

osSadly, the cops are headed by Bato de la Rosa, who tells the world, embarrassingly, that harakiri is Korean. (Malaya Business Insight, Jan. 20, 2017, p. B3, col. 6.) He cannot even tell Korea from Japan and may not be aware of the reported continuing animus between the two great cultures, given Japan’s barbarities. Bato has to study kamikaze and seppuku and the legend of the noble samurai before making another mistake. We can tell: his lips move. Same with his idol who believes he can order the arrest of anyone. Only courts can issue warrants, which Pulis Patolas may find an inconvenience. It took Bato but a semester to make the PNP a most feared and discredited entity, disrespected by the people.

Where has the rule of law gone? In the US, “immune” Trump is facing 75 lawsuits, one filed by gutsy celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred on behalf of Summer Zervous, for unwanted sexual touching. “But wanted here,” our Prez may demur, coached by a fellow Killer, as in Lady Killer, Mon Tulfo.

We are different? If so, no “vive la difference!”

Some people around the Prez may not agree with EJKs and the return of the death penalty. If so, they should speak up, even in executive session or confidential memos, and not surrender their conscience to the state, to one who fancies himself as a 2017 Louis XIV, with his “l’Etat, c’est moi.” “I am the State.”

Trump just fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, reviving memories of defiant Antigone of ancient times and of the Saturday Night Massacre of Nixon when he let go AG Elliot Richardson and others in 1973. Those who leftgovernment landed on the right side of history.

The new elite should have realized by now that they seem to be validating, that “for every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.” (TY, Timie Lim and Malou Tiquia, for “Uncertain Justice – The Roberts Court and the Constitution,” by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz.)

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1 Comment

  1. “It is not fair… for the Prez to blame Noynoy for allegedly sending in boys to do a man’s job.”
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    You are twisting it, Sir. Duterte is not blaming Noynoy for sending them SAF to their mission per se. He was just puzzling as most of us do about why PNoy was relaying his orders to a suspended Chief, and why the SAF forces were seemingly left to die in the hands of the enemies without any effort to send rescue.