I had several topics in mind for the regular Monday article, such as the recently passed Maharlika Investment Fund by the Senate where likely half of the members of our “august” chamber voted yes without having any real understanding of what they passed, and the bicameral conference committee then adopted the Senate “improved” version without reading.
But several have beaten me to the draw, and I agree with most of their observations, particularly those that Sen. Chiz Escudero recited.
It will soon be signed into law, despite all the ministrations of the “absent” Sen. Koko Pimentel, and likely appealed to the Supreme Court by the usual “me-ma” who know that the tribunal will not favor them anyway with a declaration of nullity.
So now our president will be able to announce in his SONA the “promises” that the Fund will bring to our highly leveraged economy.
To be fair, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation that are indeed laudatory, such as the extension of the amnesty to allow many to settle their estate tax obligations, which Sen. Ralph Recto asked his former colleagues to expedite before the sine die.
Other laudable bills passed into law we can perhaps tackle in another column.
I also wanted to chime in my own analysis of the political goings-on, starting from the demotion of PGMA from a ceremonial perch to a lesser but equally ceremonial one.
That demotion has led to political repercussions that many see as prelude to the jousts of 2025, and the championship fight in 2028, unless constitutional change is effected.
More of that too in another article.
What got my dander up is the latest twist on the Governor Degamo assassination where I decided to wait for the unravelling of the case after it is filed before comments.
Meanwhile, the vice-governor who succeeded Degamo has died of natural causes, and the numero uno bokal is now the governor.
My Negros Oriental friend observed before that Roel Degamo is the first “timawa” in the political history of the province to become governor, initially also by succession.
The province had long been led by “de buena familia” members – the Perdices, Teves, Macias clans who in their time preserved the province along with its Sillimanian culture, as a haven of peace and tranquility.
Until one fourth generation offspring of the highly-regarded Teves clan began to lord it over the beautiful province which my esteemed mentor Liling Magtolis Briones waxes lyrically about.
It is probably the sign of the times.
Or how our politics has been transformed into the monstrous mess legislated by a confused Constitution and taken over by the curse of money-dictated elections where most voters choose “the least of us to lead us.”
I watched Sec. Boying Remulla announce on television that 10 pawns of the Number One mastermind (because there is a co-mastermind), have recanted their previous testimony which identified the co-mastermind and alluded to the real mastermind.
DOJ has gone on record naming the co-mastermind as Arnolfo Teves’ bodyguard Marvin Miranda who allegedly hired the hit team.
In exchange for their recantation, they were bribed to the tune of 8 million pesos each, Sec. Boying said.
And who were the bribers? Remulla pointedly named one Atty. Reynante Orceo, a former DOJ Undersecretary.
He also accused two other lawyers who mercifully had no high DOJ credentials in their curriculum vitae.
Jaded observers like this writer are not really shocked, that one in the second tier of DOJ leadership could be involved in what their profession deems most improper.
After all, some who were “fixers” in the DOJ in their stint eventually got appointed justices, so what else is new?
I hope Sec. Boying, who I know to be a straight-shooter from the time we both served in the palace beside the Pasig River, has his onions right.
Sadly though, this revelation comes as further testament to how the legal profession in this benighted land has degenerated from the lofty esteem our people placed on the likes of Quezon, Osmena, Laurel, Roxas, Quirino, Garcia, Macapagal, Diokno, Tanada, Recto, and others who mesmerized us with their intellect and ethical conduct.
Or is this the case when too many lawyers crowd their profession, and the justice system has become for sale?
How a gambling lord can be elected several times to Congress is no longer strange when first-class grafters and their contractor-bribers also populate its halls, an intended result of politics becoming a money-making business enterprise.
At least Atong Ang, a recognized gambling lord, never became a candidate for public office.
But going back to the hypothesis stated in the title of this piece, isn’t this also a case of having too many practitioners in a profession our society highly regards?
Media, then and till now, glorify bar top-notchers in front pages and star-billing, but hardly feature engineers, architects, scientists, and even medical professionals.
When I was in Taiwan, and a diplomatic row came about when one of the three POLO’s (Philippine overseas labor officer) assigned there threatened a lowly OFW-caregiver who ranted expletives against our president on her Facebook page with “deportation.”
The labor officer who happened to be a lawyer and a member of one of the highly-regarded legal fraternities, did not know, or knowing so, haughtily disregarded the fact that immigration and deportation are exclusive rights of a host government, and not a labor officer, not even the office of the foreign representative of our country.
I confronted and reprimanded the guy, recommended his recall to the department which assigned him to Taiwan, made amends with the foreign ministry there, and had verbal tussles with some of our high officials who said, even if rightly so, that the OFW was excessively rude to our president.
Later, in light-hearted conversation with some other diplomats in Taipei, someone remarked that the Philippines had too many lawyers, far more than scientists and engineers, unlike other Asian countries.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some of my closest friends are lawyers, although to my knowledge they have been exemplars of ethical norms.
But let’s go into real talk. The legal profession has long been tarred by “fixers” and “bribers” infecting many “officers of the court” including prosecutors, judges and justices.
In an intimate conversation with the late Doy Laurel even before the murder of Ninoy Aquino, I asked what he thought was the first thing a post-Marcos government should address.
After a minute of introspection, he sighed, “we have to clean up our justice system,” and added, “the legal profession is no longer what it used to be during papa’s time,” referring to the late Pres. Jose P. Laurel, who served the country with utmost distinction from the Commonwealth, through the Second World War, and the nascent Third Republic.
In the summer of 1981, in his tiny office as a fellow at Harvard, I was with Ninoy Aquino alongside a Singaporean businessman and two visiting Filipino scholars from Hawaii.
Ninoy asked us: “What do you think is the gravest fault of the Marcos martial rule?”
The legal scholars answered, “his trampling of human rights and the Constitution which he intentionally crafted to suit his authoritarian rule.”
I said, “Perhaps to my non-legal mind, and to many ordinary Filipinos, it is the increasing institutionalization of corruption which has become too pervasive.”
Ninoy’s Singaporean friend weighed in, stating, “we have a rather authoritarian rule ourselves, but our leader tolerates no corruption.”
It has been almost 40 years since Ninoy Aquino was assassinated in the tarmac of our international airport.
That event sparked the downfall of authoritarianism, and ushered in the “Constitutional democracy” led by Ninoy’s widow.
More than an entire generation has passed since February 25, 1986.
As lawyers keep declaring, “Res ipsa loquitor.”
What has happened and what is happening in worse degree to our politics, our justice system, our legal profession, could be gleaned from the conversations we had then.