Remember The Day

•May 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A old old man once said that we should not stick to the general rules and pay attention to the exceptions, because lawyers were meant to be exceptional–that we should stop thinking like a layman. That it is an insult to the legal profession to think like a layman.

I used to look up to this old man.. Insofar as I was concerned, I saw the legal profession as a grand and noble professiom.. Until I realized how shallow he was.

I take offense in the fact that for him, what constitutes a good lawyer is exceptional handwriting. In his words, it is never the accuracy of the answer first, but how you present them.

I realized that for him, nevermind what you know about the law. If your handwriting is not at par with his own standards, it gives him the right to call you a “moron” and an “abnormal” human being. For him, if you cannot comply with his standards, you can never become a lawyer.

And for that, I have lost all respect for this old old man.

Zero respect. And since he is fond of giving negative integers as scores, I likewise give him a negative score for respect–which means someday, he will be the one who shall pay me the respect he never deserved.. Because amidst all of his rantings on how cerebral we should be in studying the law is a deeply entrenched hypocrisy, all boiling down to the superficiality of it all.

Old man. Remember this day that you decided to fail me… For it is in that day that you have made the biggest mistake of your life, refusing to see the greatness that could have been, shattering the dreams of this human being.

Remember this day… We will be vindicated.

 

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SAYING SORRY TO THE WIND

•November 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This is a story of a guy and a girl.

Suffice it to say, everything was smooth and dandy–until he fell for her. Cliché. Typical. Undeniably stupid. A wrong move, if I may add.

The story could have just ended with the guy accepting that this girl was way out of his league. It would have been convenient if he just became content with the idea of being good friends with her.

Yes. Content. A single word, but could entail all the happiness in the world. Usually ignored, yet ironically sought.

If i can recall, back then, the way they carried themselves brought about the appearance of two people just out there to have fun. All in a span of how long each can finish a good stick of cigarette.

Content. Good friends.

No complications. No drama. Well, minus the occasional banters on how emotionally affected each one of them can be on matters affecting the heart, being blamed as a flirt, and other nonsensical matters which, at the end of the day would just another topic for a hearty laugh.

Yes. It was that laugh. It was that smile.

He will never forget those isolated moments of laughter. He can vividly recall that it was one among the many reasons that took his breath away. For him, each moment was priceless.

Insofar as the guy is concerned, the friendship was priceless.

With that being said, a question comes to mind: “Why ask for something more, when in truth and in fact, this is as far as the two of you can go?”

Unfortunately, somewhere in between, this guy did something moronic, and he lost even that distant opportunity of at least being a friend. In other words, his stupidity was record-breaking, he lost, even a shot at being stuck in the “friendzone”.

I have to say– he never really figured it out.

Well, at least, not until everything was all so messed up.

He insisted that he didn’t do anything wrong. That he was the social casualty of a love gone wrong.

How wrong he was.

He turned his back on her. He walked out on her. He was the one who stopped talking to her. He was bitter. He made a fuss of a small thing which in the first place didn’t concern him. He was the one who started it all, and the fact of the matter is, the girl never really knew what was wrong.

He became unfair. Selfish. Bitter.

It was all his fault. And everyday, he is paying the price of losing her as a friend.

It’s true what they say… “Sorry” seems to be the hardest word.

With everything he’s done, he cannot even find the words to say it. Rest assured it’s not out of pride, but mostly out of fear and shame. Funny and ironic sometimes–that which we want so much could be the hardest thing to do–the hardest thing to achieve. And right now, patching things up seems to be a herculean challenge which seems to be impossible to attain.

Well, actually, it is. You don’t be an ass to someone and expect her to just shake your hand and let bygones be bygones.

But he just can’t do it. Not now.

And all he can do as of the momet is look at her from afar and say: “THAT, is what i gave up for the sake of bitterness”.

To look at her from afar until it hurts.

Everyday and every night, how we wished he could turn back time and wish he never did what he did. Sitting. Waiting. Wishing. Hoping that he was half the man he was supposed to be and accepted the status quo with grace.

But right now, all he can do is say “i’m sorry” to the wind. Hoping that it reaches her. And someday, though not today, things would go back to the way they were.

Maybe she was right… Talk is cheap…

If only he was man enough…

EMOTIONAL CONUNDRUM

•September 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Loving (or liking) somebody too much in an unrequited context is tiresome.

More often than not, most of us who have been in the same situation insatiably looks forward to that day when it just won’t matter. That inexhorable desire to wish that pain would just be akin to another normal day where we just won’t care. Grime that can just be washed away by a cold shower or something that could just be simply erased by a power nap–waking up refreshed as if nothing happened.

But it’s just not that easy isn’t it? Well, life’s unfair that way.

What do we do? Deal with it?

If it was that easy, we won’t be having this topic right now. If it were that simple, We’d probably in our local pubs drinking our hearts out screaming “Cheers to another broken heart!”.

But it’s not.

And it’s killing us each and every day of our miserable existence to find the oh so elusive solution to this emotional conundrum that was designed to eat the core of our being, realizing in the end that we can’t resolve the situation. Resigning to the idea that we will end up helpless. Eaten up by the fact that part of us will forever be stuck in that void of pain. Eventually breaking down, hoping and praying that the day would come when we would just laugh at this particular moment, when in truth and in fact, we can never recover.

What do now?

The usual motherhood statement thrown at us is to “move on”.

Easy for them to say.

Is it really that easy to move on from something which we have already considered part of our existence? Our raison ‘d etre?

Do we really absolutely and completely move on from something which we never even found the reason therefrom?

“Moving on” is a verb, not an adjective. It transcends beyond a mere state of mind. And insofar was we are all concerned as regards the matter, we cannot. No matter what we do to endeavor to hurdle such a herculean task, at one point in time, with a simple line of a song, with a minor referral to a particular moment, with an innocuous movie scene, we all go back to that moment remembering how shattered we were at that point in time, and history repeats itself all over again where we all get obsessed by the idea of “what could have been”, “what might have been” or any other lie we tell ourselves to make us feel marginally better, making ourselves believe that it was once worth it all.

There’s nothing wrong with that. But at one point in time, we should accept the fact that it was us who fucked it up. Not that we assume that there was future in the idea, but it was stupid if not reckless of us to believe that there was a possibility in the proposition. It was all a lie. We never had a chance. They were better off with somebody else.

Somebody else deserved to be happy, but definitely, it wasn’t me or you for that matter.

We were destined for misery.

So as we continue to search the unsearchable answer to this perennial question of the heart, I end this sporadic emotional blabbering and do what we do best in the absence of a better alternative–wallow in self pity while picturing this person whom I have succumbed to, happy in the arms of another as long as it is not me.

Til the next.

THE DAY THE RULE OF LAW DIED. THE FINAL ANALYSIS.

•May 30, 2012 • 9 Comments

Its over and done with. 20-3 voting in favor of conviction against the (now former–for the time being) Chief Justice Renato C. Corona. The chief magistrate of the land now goes down into history as the first highest official to ever be impeached and subsequently convicted. Truly a heavy burden to carry, especially if you know you were convicted for the wrong reasons.

Previously, I have aired my sentiments clamoring for his acquittal. Now that technically this topic is rendered moot and academic, I still find the verdict hard to swallow.

To the advocates of his conviction, true, and i do not disagree, today has proven to be monumental, and some, if not all of his detractors and make-believe advocates would say (but I strongly disagree) that this is the day where we start bring back the trust in “public trust”.

Now, I pose this question. Do you really think so?

Are we, even with the slightest iota of conviction, convinced that this will pave the way to a better government? To a better Judiciary? To a better legislative? To a better Executive?

Time and time again, we have tested the limits of our legal system. This day, we have tested our system of checks and balances and the will of the people prevailed. Make no mistake about it–what happened today, was not an expression of principles and belief of the Senator-Judges themselves, but an effort to appease the mob ruling. After all, most of these “distinguished” Senators are reelectionists. Some of them, if not running for reelection have relatives who will run for public office.

To my readers (if any), please do not misquote me. As I have said before, I am no fan of Corona. I am not his supporter, neither am I a loyalist of any spawn of political lineage. As I have said, I may lean for conviction, but his conviction must be based on the right reasons. What happened today may be a triumph for democracy per se, but today is obviously a failure, and possibly, death of the rule of law. When there is no law, there is chaos. And that is precisely what I expect to happen in the next few years if not the immediate future.

I implore my fellow countrymen to OPEN THEIR EYES and stop believing that what happened today was a triumph that a Filipino can proudly call his own. This is a SHAME that we will carry for the rest of our lives. Senator-Judges disregarding technicalities of law for the sake of reelection. Senator-Judges, convicting a man, whom they have prejudged even before the proceedings has ever commenced. Senator-Judges who disregarded evidence, and PRESUMED on the probability of Corona’s guilt based on public perception. Senator-Judges who are GLARINGLY INCOMPETENT to even be in their position as legislators. Senator-Judges who rambles on and on about their fathers and lineage TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to their verdict. Senator-Judges who claimed in open court of them being educationally challenged, relying on pictures, presentations, which for all we know are manufactured. And the list can go on forever.

My fellow countrymen, look at these POLITICIANS. They are the product of our own incompetence.

We voted for them–and now we are paying the price.

To paraphrase Senator Joker Arroyo, what happened here today is not a political process. This is political assassination. We supported a concept which we so valiantly oppose. We claim to remove the dishonest and the corrupt? Hypocrisy! How do we know these people well? Too well that we are actually entrusting our sovereignty to them? No. We have failed ourselves and our country.

When Ferdinand Marcos was ousted and replaced by Corazon Aquino, we earnestly believed that this will pave the way for a better Philippines. We ratified the1987 Constitution, and truly believed that it was a golden age for our democracy. How wrong we were. The Philippines went into disarray, submerging into several coup attempts, and eventually falling into economic decay. When Fidel Ramos replaced her, we were mollified with the promise of a tiger economy. True, we were considered as one of the emerging economic nations in the ASEAN at that time, but what happened after? When Joseph Estrada assumed position, we were promised of a betterment of the poor. An upliftment of sorts. But before we could say “huwag mo kong subukan”, his administration succumbed to several controversies giving birth to his own impeachment trial. Which, in the not so distant past, led to his conviction for plunder, of which he was subsequently pardoned. After all the drama and the walk outs and whatnots which led to the so-called “People Power 2”, the emergence of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, gave us hope. But not so long after her assumption in office, we were confronted with electoral controversies including the “Hello Garci” scandal. We said we will not countenance such, but then again, how easy for us to forget after a convincing “I Am Sorry..”. Now that Benigno Aquino III who sprung out of nowhere for the Presidential Elections won, we are again led to believe that we are in for one hell of a ride towards a “tuwid na daan”. So far, indeed, what a ride it has been–and I am throwing up due to nausea and motion sickness. Controversies of “Noynoying” (or slacking during work), emerging left and right, the poor farmers whose lands were deprived of them pertinent to the Hacienda Luisita issue, and this, the Impeachment, and recently, the conviction of Chief Justice Corona.

Good news: We never stop believing. We never stop hoping.

Bad news: We never learn.

How many years have passed, and how many presidents came along. How many hopes have we clung onto, and how many of them have been shattered? Now, we claim that today is a day where democracy prevailed? How assuming can we be?

Friends, countrymen, today we must mourn. For today is the day that the Rule of Law DIED.

Today is the day where convicting a public official is as easy as conducting a survey. Today is the day where all of what I as a law student have been standing for has been disintegrated into ashes. To all the law students who believe my cause, today is the day where being a law student is no longer something we want to be proud of. Today was a betrayal of what is legal.

Dura lex sed lex. The law may be harsh, but it is the law.

The distinguished Senators who voted to convict Corona constrained an interpretation of the respective laws, highly inconsistent with their spirit, to appease what is moral, even if in the final analysis, it is not what is legal. The legal system has not been tested. It has been mocked. The verdict made our political system laughable. Imagine distinguished ladies and gentlemen looking at the people–people who know nothing of the law to decide on a matter which is trivial and lies only within the expertise of the legally educated. The recently concluded proceedings empowered the people to interpret the laws by themselves deciding on what is moral–in short, the floodgates of chaos has been opened. A free-for-all situation where ANYONE can interpret the law. So much for separation of powers.

The recently concluded proceedings taught us to assume, and to conceive conspiracy theories, demonizing each and every aspect of our government, saying that countenancing the actions of Corona would in turn, countenance future wrongdoings. What an absurd and presumptious observation. I urge my countrymen to stop with that kind of mentality, thinking that we can save the world with one swift movement. We cannot. It is wrong for us to preempt and it is fatal for us to do so. History has told us we cannot, I am hoping we wake up and learn from our mistakes.

In the final analysis, I am disappointed with the outcome of the recently concluded impeachment trial. I am no longer clamoring for his acquittal then. I just hoped that the rationale for his conviction could have been more legally reinforced. Most, if not all of the Senator Judges who convicted him were so rhetorical, so overly dramatic that it was more of grandstanding than fulfilling a Constitutional duty. Ironically, it was those who voted for acquittal where we saw the sound of reason, logic, and legal bases.

I do not believe that this is over.

As of now, I urge everyone to be more vigilant. Listen to and review the statements of those overly righteous and hold them up to their word.

We can always be hopeful, but at least, let us all learn.

STAYING MY GROUND: A response to a colleague.

•May 28, 2012 • 1 Comment

I respect the well substantiated view of the ALSP-NCR Chairperson Dino De Leon, who also happens to be the esteemed President of the De La Salle University College of Law Student Council (see his entry here: http://thedecipherer.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/in-response-to-art-diazs-post/). As the Regional Treasurer of ALSP-NCR myself, and having attended several meetings with him, I could say that he is a no nonsense, and straightforward individual. He is likewise an extremely persuasive individual and is admirably intelligent and charismatic. I agree with him that indeed, a proper discourse is in order. He has presented a counter-argument favoring the conviction of Chief Justice Corona, as against the stand that I have forwarded clamoring for acquittal. With all due respect to the distinguished Chairperson however, I am thoroughly unconvinced, and needless to say that I stand by my position for his acquittal.

Before I dwell into the nitty gritty of his exposition, I would like to bring back into perspective the stand which I have so steadfastly clung onto.

As I have repeatedly mentioned, I would not like my stand to be confused as a stand which is brought forward as a mere sentiment, or a mere expression of emotions. Make no mistake about it–as a matter of principle, I believe that the Chief Justice should be convicted. As we (the ALSP-NCR Board), have previously agreed upon, we have reached upon the consensus that the Chief Magistrate should be convicted. What I am disagreeable on are the legal bases on which this stand has been banked upon. This is the reason why I brought forward my stand for acquittal because as a student of law, it would be a disservice to my legal education to swallow a stand which is based on a “moral obligation” rather than a response to a legal issue. Please do not get me wrong. I am all for moral obligation, I just believe that we are bringing this in the wrong forum. In essence–if we are to base our stand on a moral standpoint, I would denounce my legal education and say with a resounding YES, the Chief Justice should be convicted. Why? True, all of us, even the average Juan Dela Cruz could say that corruption in the government, or in this case, the Judiciary is existent. Likewise, anyone of us can say that MAYBE, the Chief Justice is also a participant in this controversy. But this is a proceeding which demands legal bases. This is a proceeding which is governed by rules. In sum, we can say that this proceeding is a way of eliminating the evils of the system. HOWEVER, I am of the view that this is a discussion for another day. Why? Assuming for the sake of argument that indeed, the Chief Justice is corrupt, and has amassed ill-gotten wealth, the evidence forwarded by the Prosecution is unconvincing, and a mere argument that we have a moral obligation or an obligation to correct the errors of the system must not hold water in a court regardless of its nature, may it be quasi-political or purely political.

Moving on now to the arguments posited against my stand:

ON THE POLITICAL NATURE OF THE PROCEEDINGS

It has been pointed out by my distinguished colleague that my logic is faulty since I have analogized the proceeding as purely political, and I cited the line of questioning of the distinguished Senator-Judge Jinggoy Estrada as an example, and such (according to some) is not conclusive of my hypothesis that such has prejudiced the Chief Justice. However, I think Dino has either misrepresented me or did not understand the spirit of my argument. He (Dino) argues that my argument is faulty because such proceeding cannot be claimed to be purely political since Corona had his day in court. That he was given three hours or possibly more to air his stand. But of course! He should be given that opportunity. He had the right to address his accusers and defend himself. If my argument on this matter was closely scrutinized, I was referring to the rendering of judgment, which is still well within the ambit of the proceedings in itself. Meaning, that instead of letting the evidence and the clear language of the law to speak for itself, some Senators would venture into disregarding it and hammer on Corona on a political perspective.

Be that as it may, I think this is a fertile ground for discourse and debate, since this will boil down to the respective interpretations and views of the commenters. Nevertheless, assuming I concede to an argumentation contrary to mine, this is not a determinative factor which should play a major role in his conviction or acquittal. The aforementioned is just an opinion which in my perspective is clearly a prejudice to the Chief Justice, because it sets a dangerous precedent that the impeachment may be used as a tool to abuse, harass, or coerce any impeachable officer to submit into the whims and caprices of the appointing authority.

Let us move on into the more substantive matters.

ON THE QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE. REASONABLE DOUBT TOO HIGH A STANDARD

Dino questions why I use guilt beyond reasonable doubt as a standard for rendering judgement for or against the Chief Justice. He goes on arguing that this is too high a standard, and is likewise misplaced since the Chief Justice is not being incarcerated or whatnot. Further, he argues, and expounds (and I paraphrase) that this is akin to an administrative proceeding which require a lesser quantum of evidence, since such only entails disciplinary and disqualificatory sanctions.

I agree with our distinguished ALSP-NCR Chairperson that nowhere in our legal literature can you find that such proceedings require the quantum of evidence that I posit. But then again, IF, we follow the argumentation that this is a sui generis proceeding, then, it must also necessarily follow that we are free to propose a quantum of evidence depending on the standard of the Senator-Judges. In other words, true, there is really no concrete standard or quantum of evidence. But suggesting one and exerting effort to substantiate why, is the least I can do. This is the reason why I am proposing such standard. I am not imposing it. I do not say it as a matter or legal truth. I am suggesting it as their basis in rendering their judgment based on my own understanding of the law. In the same manner that Dino proposes a lesser quantum of evidence required based on his own standards and understanding of the proceedings.

Why do I propose such high standard?

It is not trivial why I am proposing such high a standard. In my honest and personal opinion, the reason why I am forwarding such a standard is to eliminate all doubts when rendering the judgment. Simply put, I wish the Senator-Judges to ask himself or herself before rendering judgment whether in the mind of an ordinary and prudent human being, such decision is devoid of any after-thought or regrets. Regardless of the fact that they are given considerable time to make their verdict, such reasonable doubt is precisely offered by me as an internal mental standard for them to reach into a reasonable decision. What I want to say is, apart from taking into consideration the perception of the public, they should, in themselves say without batting an eyelash that they made the right decision. Right in the sense that it is legally acceptable. After all, Corona was long convicted in the court of public opinion, and it would be unfair albeit prejudicial for him, if our well-educated and socially prominent Senator-Judges should likewise use the same basis. If such was the case, then we might as well disregard the entire proceedings and subject him to a mob ruling.

THE EXEMPTION GRANTED BY THE FCDA (R.A. 6426) DOES NOT APPLY TO A PUBLIC OFFICIAL AND TO COUNTENANCE SUCH WOULD RUN COUNTER TO THE SPIRIT OF THE CONSTITUTION AND R.A.6713, AND PROMOTE PILFERING SND SQUANDERING OF THE PEOPLE’S MONEY.

Dino argues that to interpret R.A. 6426 as absolute and applicable even to public officials would make “pilfering and squandering of the people’s money very convenient for every corrupt public official”. Be that as it may, again, I firmly believe that this a discussion for another day. Why? Such a conclusion true or false as it may be is (as of now) nothing but a conspiracy theory of sorts which people seek to use to demonize the exemption expressly granted by law. I urge my respected colleague Dino to not hastily foresee the possible demons of this legislation. Because as of the moment, unless it is EXPRESSLY repealed, this is GOOD LAW.

Assuming for the sake of argument that such promotes more corruption, the issue at hand right now is whether Corona DID use such an exemption as a way to circumvent the law and capitalize on it for his allegedly “corrupt ways”? It is of my considered view that before being able to answer that, the question still stands–was there corruption in the first place? Assuming that the evidence presented by the prosecution on his controversial properties and bank accounts (which were later on debunked by the defense) were true, were they linked to any misfeasance or malfeasance in his (Corona) office as the Chief Justice? This I think is one of the biggest flaws in the case of the Prosecution. Nevertheless, assuming that I swallow the argument posited that such a misguided interpretation would lead to a promotion of pilferage and squandering of people’s money, I ask, what do we plan to do about it? Amend the law? Assuming that we do, it would be against the constitutional proscription to apply it retroactively to the present case which could possibly have been long concluded.

Relating all the foregoing to the next pertinent law which is R.A. 6713 that is the Ethical Standards for Public Officers and in relation to its provision on the SALN, although I agree with Dino that the spirit of the law is total disclosure, and being accountable as a public officer, it is needless to reiterate however that Corona as he have harped on and on since he appeared before the Impeachment Court, was in good faith in relying on the confidentiality rule forwarded by the FCDA. He went on further that if his reliance on such was misplaced, he was signing an unconditional waiver for the Court to scrutinize his bank accounts, and challenged the 188 Congressmen to sign the same, arguing that all of them had the same interpretation of the law. Assuming that indeed, his reliance on such an interpretation of the FCDA was faulty if not fatally erroneous, does this constitute an impeachable offense? Assuming for the sake of argument that such (as Dino argues) mistake in declaration of his SALN violated public trust, is such a violation of public trust AUTOMATICALLY a trigger for impeachment? As stated by the Defense panel, and to which I subscribe, “not all breach of public trust is an impeachable offense”. This is the reason why I felt, there was a half-baked by-product as regards the case of the prosecution, because they opted not to cross examine.

Further expounding on the apparent incompatibility of R.A. 6426 and R.A. 6713, I would like to take the opportunity to ask all the readers of this entry, whether it would be proper to say that R.A. 6713 is subservient to R.A. 6426 or vice versa? It has been argued by some that the confidentiality proscribed by R.A. 6426 should yield to the concept of total disclosure, transparency, and accountability under R.A. 6713. But it is of my opinion that the two laws are highly incompatible albeit independent of each other, that a constrained reconciliation of the two is improper. Assuming that indeed, the sanctions of the FCDA (6426) is directed towards a banking institution and not towards a depositor himself who can voluntarily open his accounts to scrutiny, forcing an interpretation that the confidentiality under the FCDA does not apply to the Chief Justice who is therefore obligated to disclose such an account, is in effect coercing an individual into submission, into disclosure of a bank account with a VITIATED CONSENT which is violative of the spirit of the FCDA which is voluntary and willful disclosure of the depositor.

In retrospect, my point on this matter is that, the two mentioned legislations are highly incompatible and should be construed independent of each other. Meaning, it is of my considered view that the reliance of the Chief Justice in the confidentiality clause of the FCDA, assuming it was made in good faith, should not be taken against him as a violation of public trust equally amounting to an impeachable offense. Taking consideration of either and relating it to each other is in effect, tantamount to an implied repeal of either, and such should be looked on with disfavor, absent any legislative fiat or a judicial mandate to that effect.

ON THE ISSUE ON CROSS-EXAMINATION

I believe in this regard, I partly agree with Dino, on the argument that waiving a cross-examination is only a matter of right, and can be validly waived as a matter of strategy. No doubt. Basic Rules on Evidence can tell us that. However, I would like to clarify myself again that this is merely an observation on my part as a law student and as a spectator in the trial. It is of my considered view that the prosecution, despite having presented several (according to them) “damning evidence”, most of these, if not all,were debunked by the Defense Panel and has presented evidence to that effect. The alleged “game-changer” in the person of the honorable Ombudsman Carpio-Morales, is likewise not convincing. Assuming that her figures are correct, no matter how damning her evidence may be, the fact still remains that such should be stricken of as hearsay. Why her? Or assuming it needs to be presented by her, why was such not corroborated by the AMLC itself? This only leads us to one conclusion–the AMLC refuses to testify because it deems the action premature, if not misplaced, in the absence of any predicate crime which should be coupled with the report. In sum, the evidence presented by the prosecution on such, holds no water. How then can they say that they have an airtight case? This is again is only in my opinion. This is why I think they should have gone through the cross-examination, to be able to clarify matters.

CONCLUSION AND CAVEAT

Addressing this entry to my colleague and friend, Dino De Leon, make no mistake about it. I am all for judicial reform. I am all for eliminating corruption. Off-hand, I want the Chief Justice convicted to set an example to any unscrupulous government official out there. But I just cannot seem to bring myself to conclusively say that he deserves a fate of conviction if in the proceedings itself, there is a clear flaw, in the prejudicial attitude of the judges, the upcoming elections, the Articles of Impeachment itself, and in the evidence presented. As it seems, this proceeding has been suspiciously timed as the elections near, and I firmly believe that the integrity of the impeachment proceedings as a whole has been breached, has been compromised, and used as a tool to damn those who are against the will of the appointing power.

Trust me. I want to be convinced. I want to be swayed.

But no iota of damning evidence is pushing me to the limit. I strain my mind, and my heart for a hole where I can seek refuge and say that the Chief Magistrate must burn. As the impeachment trial has finally reached its end, I firmly put my trust and faith to whatever the final verdict may be.

To sum it all up, the view that I have posited is nothing but a mere sentiment as a law student basing his comments on his understanding of the proceedings. However, if you take all of those away from me, as a citizen, I want the Chief Justice to be convicted if I am to base it on a moral obligation. I believe that all the wrinkles in the system must be ironed out, and should start with this impeachment proceedings. However, please pardon me if i base it in technicalities since as a weakness, this is my only standard for objectivity.

I do not aim to sway the ALSP-NCR Board which has reached a conclusion favoring conviction. I do not aim to destabilize our harmonious internal structure. I respect the opinion of the Board. I admire the tenacity of Dino, our Chairperson, in trying to convince me. I write this response, because I cannot bring myself to vote to convict a possibly dishonest and corrupt man with a cloud in my mind. This may be just my own problem. A self-inflicted doubt–possibly brought about by stubbornness. If I may be eventually proven wrong, and I come to realize this fact, I would consider this charged to my experience and be a better student of law, and a future member of the legal profession.

As of now, the Impeachment Trial has concluded, and let us all brace ourselves for the final verdict.

Thank you.

ON A LAW STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE. FUNDAMENTALISM. WHY CORONA SHOULD BE ACQUITTED.

•May 27, 2012 • 3 Comments

As students of law, we are trained to analyze matters on the fundamental or grassroots level, and never presume facts unless they are readily offered or is unquestionably apparent. No amount of principle or conviction gives us the right to say that a particular judgment is warranted until and unless the law so provides. Unfortunately, this fundamental thinking has been lost in line with what has transpired in the 42 days of the impeachment trial. The basics of the rule of law and the merits of the case has been lost and drowned amidst passion and emotion.

Although the absolute innocence or guilt of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona can never be ascertained with conviction and finality due to several circumstances seen in the not so distant past of the proceedings, we are led to the conclusion that he should be ACQUITTED.

THE SUI GENERIS CONCEPT IS GONE AND IS TRANSFORMED INTO A PURELY POLITICAL PROCEEDING.

Noble as the intentions of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile may be, it can be clearly gleaned from the actuations of some if not majority of the Senator-Judges that a prejudice exists against Chief Justice Corona. Senator Jinggoy Estrada, for one, in his line of questioning towards the Chief Magistrate offers no respect whatsoever as he uttered derogatory and suggestive questions such as, “Kayo po ba? Wala po ba kayong balak mag-resign?” Why on earth will a Senator-Judge—a supposed tabula rasa entity basing his judgment from the evidence on record ask contemptuous questions like such? Clearly, we can never expect a vote for acquittal from this distinguished Senator. In short, the proceedings can no longer claim itself to be sui generis (a class of its own) because it has transformed into a purely political proceeding. As the Chief Justice has claimed, the impeachment complaint was initiated as a political vendetta by some individuals, and no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno “Noynoy” Aguino III, was implicated. Assuming this claim to be false, we will never have any way of knowing its accuracy because the Prosecution waived its right to cross-examine—an action which, in legal contemplation implies an acceptance of such fact by prosecution team. Be that as it may, without being able to establish or debunk such a claim, we are constrained to conclude that indeed, the impeachment proceedings in itself originates from a political perspective. As such, it would seem at this juncture that whatever evidence of record that may have been offered and accepted would be futile because the cause of action is one which cannot be quantified by any amount of evidence. Nevertheless, we venture into expounding this stand for acquittal and a discussion on the related laws are still in order.

INCONSISTENCIES AND REASONABLE DOUBT

According to the 1987 Constitution, specifically Art XI. Section 2. a member of the Supreme Court among others “…may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment”.

Necessarily, this leads us to the question as to what “culpable violation of the Constitution” is. In the same vein, the concept of “betrayal of public trust” offers no clear interpretation than the latter, and is subject to interpretation by our present Impeachment Court. As such, despite the absence of any consensus as regards the quantum of evidence required to convict the Chief Justice, logically, such judgment whatever it may be must be free from any reasonable doubt in the mind of an average thinking person. With this, two other laws are pertinent in this discussion:

R.A. 6426 SECRECY OF FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSITS.

According to Section 8 of Republic Act 6426 on Foreign Currency Deposits, “All foreign currency deposits authorized under this Act, as amended by PD No. 1035, as well as foreign currency deposits authorized under PD No. 1034, are hereby declared as and considered of an absolutely confidential nature and, except upon the written permission of the depositor, in no instance shall foreign currency deposits be examined, inquired or looked into by any person, government official, bureau or office whether judicial or administrative or legislative, or any other entity whether public or private;
xxx”

R.A. 6713 ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS

As regards statements and disclosure or more popularly known as the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), Sec. 8 of R.A. 6713 enunciates that:
“Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
(A) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure. – All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households.
The two documents shall contain information on the following:
(a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value;
(b) personal property and acquisition cost;
(c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like;
(d) liabilities, and;
(e) all business interests and financial connections.
xxx”

The rule on the absolute confidentiality of foreign currency deposits is clear and unequivocal.

The law made no distinctions may it be a private entity or a government official. Therefore, no stretch of imagination can actually morph it as such that government officials in relation to their SALN’s are not covered by the confidential rule. This in effect would give rise to a violation of a vested right given to these individuals, not to mention a violation of due process.
Further, although it may be and is actually argued that such violates the spirit of R.A. 6713 pertaining to the the SALN, which is full transparency and disclosure—true, we concede that it is a glaring inconsistency between the two legislations. Then again, we are of the view that this is a discussion for another day. We are not and will never be in a position to bend the law especially when it is clear. Verba legis. It is ironic that people championing the principles of checks and balance will be same people who would bend the rules and single out the Chief Justice in their constrained and prejudiced interpretation of the law. Unless the law is repealed or the Supreme Court has promulgated a decision as regards the matter, we should stand by the status quo. With the clear inconsistencies as regards the different pertinent laws that is being the bases for the cause of action against the chief magistrate, it is evident that he must be acquitted. Although it may not be for the reason that he is absolutely innocent, we cannot convict a public officer with a cloud in our minds as to whether such interpretation of the law is warranted.

Last May 25, 2012 on the 42nd day of the Impeachment Trial, no less than the Corona himself readily admitted that indeed, he owns particular dollar accounts, and in the same manner, disclosed its amount, further explaining that such was accumulated since the early 60’s, and is co-mingled with the BGE assets. He went on explaining that he excluded such accounts from his SALN in good faith, relying on the provisions of the law pertaining to the absolute confidentiality of his dollar accounts. Nevertheless, the Chief Justice offered his unconditional waiver as a sign that he indeed is not hiding anything. We are of the view as students of law that this presents a factual and legal issue which could have been readily settled in a full-blown cross examination, were it not for the prosecution’s waiver. Now the question still stands, was the cross-examination indispensable to ascertain the veracity of these facts. Some would argue that no, such proceeding is no longer necessary since according to the “basic rule of evidence”, whatever was presented is deemed admitted, and that the defense is bound by whatever they have presented. However, we are of the view that this is faulty logic. Why? Assuming for the sake of argument that Corona and the Defense are bound by the evidence presented, and everything is deemed admitted, what if, such evidence or whatnot is favorable to them? Do we blindly adhere to it, saying that cross-examination is not necessary? Do we say that, we accept it, even without ascertaining whether such statement of disputable fact is devoid of deception? We think not. Therefore, it would be premature albeit presumptuous to say with conviction that such statement is either hogwash or verified. No amount of logic can bring us to the conclusion that he is truthful, neither can we say that he is playing with our minds. This presents reasonable doubt which should be construed in favor of the Chief Justice. A presumption of regularity, so to speak which should be resolved in favor of acquittal.

Now, with the aforementioned glaring inconsistencies, as students of law, do we take it upon ourselves to constrain an interpretation for the sake of conviction, even if the letter of the law says otherwise? If so, then we are no different from the other non-law educated groups clamoring for the conviction of Corona. Why else did we study law, slaving on it day and night, sacrificing our waking hours to the torment of analayzing all the bits and pieces of each legislation pertinent to our future practice?

Lastly, with the above discussion in mind, we go back to Article XI, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution. In not being able to include in his (CJ) SALN the disputed dollar accounts, did it amount to a culpable violation of the Constitution? Did he betray public trust? All of these and more are matters which could have been determined, could have been ascertained, but unfortunately, these could only go as far as another distant memory like that of a lost love, since no cross-examination was conducted. Some say that the mere fact of misdeclaring his SALN is enough ground (again, even in the absence of cross-examination), to say with blinding precision that such was a clear betrayal of public trust. But the way it seems, such speedy conclusion is nothing but a betrayal of our legal education. As has already been harped, squirreled, and badgered, such concept is highly enigmatic and would depend on the supervening circumstances. In the present situation, Corona argues that he excluded such accounts because he relied in good faith in the provisions of the FCDA. Is this true? Maybe it is. Maybe. We can scream at the celestial bodies, but the answer will never come. And who are we to say that a person is lying, unless we carefully and precisely derive it from them through a skillful cross examination? We are no gods. Neither are we psychics. We are not, and will never be in a position to argue with what is uncertain. Again–reasonable doubt. Doubt. Doubt. Doubt. This leads us therefore to a lingering cloud in our minds. Another addition in our kilometric list of what-ifs, that may never see the light of day.

Therefore, it is respectfully submitted that Chief Justice Renato Corona be ACQUITTED for his guilt cannot be established beyond reasonable doubt.

VISITA IGLESIA 2012

•April 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Visita Iglesia (Spanish for “Church Visit”) is a Holy Week devotion among Filipino Roman Catholics of visiting seven or fourteen churches in order to pray and meditate on the Passion of Jesus Christ. It commences in the late afternoon or early evening of Holy Thursday after the Mass of the Last Supper when the Blessed Sacrament is already reserved at the Altar of Repose for adoration inside the Church until midnight when it is concluded without solemnity since liturgically, the day of the Lord’s Passion has already begun.

This practice which became a tradition was evidently influenced by the Spaniards who colonized the Philippines for nearly four centuries and introduced the Roman Catholic faith. It was thought that the Augustinian friars, the pioneer missionaries of the Philippines who arrived in 1565, propagated this devotion. They were inspired by their fellow Augustinian St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) who established a confraternity in 1548 to minister the needs of thousands of poor pilgrims who flock to Rome, especially during the jubilee years[2]; and established in 1559 the visitation of the seven traditional pilgrim churches in Rome as a form of penance.[3] The circuit of seven Churches is traditionally composed of St. John Lateran, St. Peter, St. Mary Major, St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Lawrence outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem, and St. Sebastian outside the Walls. Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love for the jubilee year of 2000.

Sourcez: Priest Stuff.com

Admittedly, this has only been my second Visita Iglesia in my life. Not that I never believed in the tradition, it is just that, it is only last year that I came to learn of its importance in the Catholic faith, more pointedly, during Lent–thanks to my mum and dad as well, for rearing me up in a steadfast Catholic household, literally, instilling “fear of God”. Kidding aside, apart from the spiritual journey we take in this annual tradition, this experience is likewise an opportunity to see the Hispanic legacy, that once dominated our country, and its effect in the Filipino psyche of God and Salvation.

Are you ready?

Let’s roll…

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On the road, one thing kept on running in my mind…

Where do I go first?

I rarely make any itineraries whenever I go on a roadtrip. There’s something about the spontaneity of it all which makes the whole point of travelling near or far, exciting. So even if I had a preconceived idea of the churches that I would go to, I trusted on my instincts instead…

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FIRST STOP. MINOR BASILICA OF THE BLACK NAZARENE (A.K.A QUIAPO CHURCH).

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Located at the heart of Manila, in Plaza Miranda along Quezon Boulevard, Quiapo Church is home to the life-size image of the Black Nazarene, reported to have miraculous powers. Year in and year out, devotees, flock to this place to pay their homage to the image of the Black Nazarene, and fulfill their panata or vow, in exhange for their prayers to be answered.

Do not be misled by the location of this church. Although it is located in one of the city’s middle class commercial districts, selling goods from wet markets, to Class A product imitations, Quiapo Church is one of the most revered churches in the country. Millions flock here day in and day out for their prayers, confessions, and daily devotions.

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One thing to consider though, when visiting this place. Either you commute or you are ready to pay a 30-40 peso parking fee. It depends on your stay whether it’ll be exorbitant for a parking fee. But needless to say, if you’re just passing by to for two stations of the cross, it’s a tad bit too much.

SECOND STOP. BASILICA MINORE DE SAN SEBASTIÁN. (A.K.A. SAN SEBASTIAN CHURCH)

Located just around a block or two away from Quiapo Church, I found my way to my second stop, that is the Basilica of San Sebastian, locally known as San Sebastian Church. Completed in 1891, San Sebastián Church is noted for its architectural features. An example of the revival of Gothic architecture in the Philippines, it is the only all-steel church or basilica in Asia and claimed as the only prefabricated steel church in the world. Well… According to Wikipedia.

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All steel.

Wow.

I wonder how they prevent it from rusting.

THIRD STOP. MINOR BASILICA OF ST. LORENZO RUIZ (A.K.A. BINONDO CHURCH).

Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz , is located in the District of Binondo, Manila, in the Philippines. This church was founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve their Chinese converts to Christianity. The original building was destroyed in 1762 by British bombardment. A new granite church was completed on the same site in 1852 however it was greatly damaged during the Second World War, with only the western facade and the octagonal bell tower surviving.

According to my ever so reliable friend named Wikipedia, and of course, from what we learned in Theology 101, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was born of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, trained in this church and afterwards went as a missionary to Japan and was executed there for refusing to renounce his religion. San Lorenzo Ruiz was to be the Philippines’ first saint and he was canonized in 1987. A large statue of the martyr stands in front of the church.

Masses are held in Filipino, in Chinese dialects (Mandarin, Hokkien), and in English.

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Finding a decent parking space in this area at this time of the year might prove to be a challenge. So, if you can wing it, bring a bike! It’s good for the environment too.

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FOURTH STOP. SAN AGUSTIN CHURCH.

Popularly known as the Wedding Capital of the City, San Agustin Church originally known as “inglesia de San Pablo”, founded in 1571 is the oldest stone church (built in 1589) in the Philippines. It is a administered by the Order of Saint Agustine (Augustinian Friars). Since the time of its foundation, the devotion to Nuestra Senora dela Consolacion y Cirrea is celebrated every Saturday.In this Church – tomb of “El Adelentado Miguel Lopez de Legaspi” Founder of the City of Manila is located in the eastermost chapel of the transept. Terms for the American occupation of Manila was signed in the sacristy and First Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1953 was held in the Choirloft.

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By this time, the heat of the sun is turning lethal. Since the church was jampacked, I had to pray my stations of the cross outside. Good thing, there were stations posted outside, marked by a cross, and purple fabric.

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By the way, before I forget, it would be proper to mention at this juncture, PLEASE, bring an umbrella, a bottle of cold water, and that mini fan. If you have high blood or any heat sensitive ailments, it would be nice to avoid heatstrokes. It is hot as hell out there. Pun intended.

FIFTH STOP. MALATE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

Malate Church is a church in Manila, Philippines. It is a Baroque-style church which faces a small park and beyond that Manila Bay. The church is dedicated to Nuestra Senora de Remedios (“Our Lady of Remedies”), the patroness of childbirth.

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Ironically located a stone’s throw away from Manila’s red light district, although the church appears to be misplaced at first glance, passing by its perimeter exudes that aura of holiness and solemnity, that makes you forget that in a minute or so, you might just grab a beer after going to church. Just kidding.

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SIXTH STOP. ST. PANCRATIUS’ CHAPEL-PACO PARK.

Oh-kay. This place is extra special for me. Aside from the fact that the place is simply breathtaking, giving off a Hispanic era feel, this is where my parent’s got married. My mom, would always recall how hard it was for her to walk from the bridal car to the chapel itself. But for all it is worth, my mom and dad would simply sigh everytime they talk about the place. But now that I think of it, mom, was it really that far?

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Again this is one of the edifices built during the Spanish regime completed in 1820. It is actually a former municipal cemetery for the well-heeled and established aristocratic Spanish families.

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On December 30, 1896, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, was interred in Paco Park after his execution in Bagumbayan (Luneta). In 1966, the park was converted into a national park during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal.
The church has a nice façade and an egg-shaped ceiling. It is very small and ideal for intimate weddings. The chapel is under the care of the Vincentian fathers who also manage the nearby Adamson University.

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All in all, the place was awesome. Its got that romantic vibe, what with Kenny G. playing in the background of the entire park. Unfortunately, the chapel itself was closed, but we were there anyway, so we prayed outside the chapel. It was solemn nonetheless.

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SEVENTH AND FINAL STOP. SANTISSIMO ROSARIO PARISH (A.K.A. UST CHURCH)

Oh, but of course, what a way to conclude my solemn journey, but by praying the remaining stations of the cross in the church that reared more than half of my academic life. The Santissimo Rosario Parish in the oldest Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas.

Originally, I was under the notion that people would be flocking the newly constructed Rosarium, formerly known as the Tinoko Park. Unfortunately, I think, it was closed for repairs, so I took a picture of it instead. Each pillar represent a single station, and by its sheer size, you cannot help but get overwhelmed by the aura of solemnity it exudes.

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After a quick stop at the Rosarium, I proceeded directly to the church. Flocked as usual.

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As I conclude this spiritual journey, truly, it was more than just another experience that I write down in this entry. At the end of the day, we come to a realization that this is more than church visits, and praying the stations of the cross. It is more profound, akin to soul-searching, and our perennial prayer for strength, healing, and salvation.

And as we end this phase of our tradition for the year, let us all come out as changed persons. As people, more in sync with our tradition–and faith.