Winners and losers

By: Rene Saguisag (


Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin reminded court staff to observe a proper dress code, no round collar shirts, no gaudy or loud colors, no miniskirts, and no answering a phone call in a court’s public areas. He made a sentimental journey home last week to his old haunt, the Quezon City Hall of Justice, where he said judges, justices and court employees should wear decent and presentable clothes.
I do not know of any guy complaining about sweet young things wearing minis, long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be interesting, like a nice bathing suit, or a speech. (Indeed, Lady Godiva, riding naked in public, succeeded in reducing taxes.)
The CJ said court employees should not be seen using their cell phones in a court’s public areas such as corridors, lobbies, and elevators. “If a cell phone rings and you are to answer, please go inside the room, conceal yourself from the public, and respond,” he said. But they may be talking of payoffs or leaks of draft rulings, a new norm.
He, sounding like Cardinal Tagle, also reminded them to be polite. “I do not want to hear people saying that the people from the judiciary are uneducated and ill-mannered,” he added. What about the gutter language or egregious excrescence emanating from the Palace?
In UST the other day, he bewailed judicial corruption in the provinces. But, what about Metro Manila? Halos here and horns there? Susmariano po naman!

Return of old values
What the people really yearn for is an incorruptible judiciary, without leaks, for one thing. More vital then is to restore everywhere certain of our old-fashioned values, not on apparel. Aunque el mono se viste de seda, mono se queda (A monkey dressed in silk remains a monkey). What should be returned should be the professionalism of old.
How well I remember Cora, the receiving clerk at the Manila Court of First Instance, a true pro. I was a law firm messenger before I became a lawyer in 1964. A golden decade, then Macoy came and damaged, nay, ruined our values, institutions and processes.
Of the many CFI judges then in Manila, Quezon City and Pasay, there was tsismis then only about one Manila judge. Now the stink goes all the way up. What mattered then was to know the law, not the judge. And the work ethic. All toiled between Christmas and New Year. No remarkable wellness leaves or long holiday breaks (when deserving detainees could be released). Saturday mornings were for motions. Fewer cases then and no computers, cell phones and other gadgets.
The new CJ should do something about his own court in Manila leaking like a sieve. And yes, the misuse of cell phones by staff if at public expense. The insane traffic, compounded by selfies-taking, is a reason for Digong not to fear a coup anywhere in Metro Manila. No time to organize and no wiggle space for revolting in there. Unlike in the time of Prez Cory who foiled nine coup tries, we are no longer like Latin America. An Americana went to a country there and was told that bullfighting was its favorite sport. “Isn’t it revolting?” The caballero replied, “No, Señora, that is only our No. 2 sport.”
That is why Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte’s list is for the comic page. Like his pop who defamed a long-dead judge (Roberto Navidad) as a drug lord coddler, Pulong also included among the plotters one in the Promised Land, Carmelite Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, who fought Macoy’s martial law, early on, with Bishop Cisco Claver, S.J.
Pulong’s Erpat won’t take credit for the Balangiga Bells’ return; he generously spreads the credit. Professor Jerry Montemayor, a teacher nonpareil, cautioned us about false aw-shucks humility. Duterte would not only be praised for the return of the bells but also misperceived to seek further praise for humility. He in effect was denying or trying to diffuse credit for his huge feat, to fish for more praise. Others had helped but it was he who made it happen, and he should take a bow.
But, to credit him for the new Miss Universe sensation is quite a stretch. On praising Blue Eagle Thirdy Ravena, for instance, of course we should not overlook his teammates, and more particularly, coach Tab Baldwin. But, tsk, tsk, why an alien? There is an upsurge of nationalism cuz of Balangiga, and of Bicolana Catriona Elisa Gray, discounted somewhat by La Salle hiring still another foreign coach.
A nation of cage-crazy 107 million rabbits cannot find Pinoy coaches for La Salle and Ateneo? Do we need another SONA snippet or philippic from Digong to curb the trend? Is coaching rocket science? I understand the PBA bans foreign coaches. Way to go! Or to stay in.
The Americans have finally done us right with the return of the bells. But, we had the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre of a thousand Muslim men, women and children, with Pinoys accompanying the Kanos in shooting our own. Is there any way of compensating and/or at least recognizing the victims’ families for the injustice? (WW2 Holocaust victims are getting justice up to today.) The Muslims were apparently not even resisting when massacred.
But, all this may pale in comparison to the Feb. 7-8, 1974 Jolo bloodbath when Pinoys killed 20,000 Muslims, and the Palimbang massacre of 1,500 Muslim men in September 1974, with the women being raped. We Pinoys could be worse than alien invaders as the Marcoses would not even acknowledge responsibility.
No knowledge? Today, Budget Secretary Ben Diokno says he knows zero about his kins’ reported humongous Bicol businesses. (I know though the terrible ordeal one may unfairly go through in abusive congressional hearings; here, I support him.) Bong Revilla says he had no knowledge of what had been done by his chief of staff. The last ones to know, mga pindehos.
Not only there. People’s initiative (PI) is in Section 32 of Article. VI of the Constitution; I echo those who find nothing there about another PI, presidential initiative. The Jesuits should also look at this seeming presidential overreach not in accord with the original understanding.

Deeper study
We all need to study the past deeper. Of course we know that Catriona Elisa is not the first Pinay to win her title. Many lined up on her return to laud her (not in the sense that sana si Meyor ang nauna, ha?- lewd). But more than beauty queens, we need to re-show not only “Sunugin ang Samar!” starring Au-Au Pijuan but also “Sakay” starring Julio Diaz. And rewrite our history normally written by the victors in the first instance and may need correction today, in the emerging afterglow.
I heard nothing about Balangiga in Makati Elem, Rizal High and San Beda. Our curriculum should be revised. Not only on Balangiga but also the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre, the Feb. 7-8, 1974 burning of Jolo and the killing of 20,000 in the process, arguably one reason why Muslims continue to distrust Imperial Manila. Among the troopers who mercilessly assaulted Bud Dajo were Pinoys, another reason Muslims distrust us up here.
When I was young, kids with long hair were taunted “para kang si Sakay,” who I have since learned was an authentic nationalist hero, hanged by the treacherous Kanos in 1907. I saw the movie on him, portrayed by Julio Diaz, on TV, but didn’t, “Sunugin ang Samar!” starring Au Pijuan, the beauty queen who vocally fought the dictator (and with whom I visited Sen. Leila de Lima the other day).
We now have Catriona Elisa Gray, poised, graceful and with a commanding stage presence. A vision of loveliness. Discerning too, as in her stand on medical marijuana (in aid of Cong. Rudito Albano’s bill, which Senate Prez Tito Sotto says is superfluous?). A winner in every way, who can articulate trippingly on the tongue.
Happy holidays, one and all, in this season of grace and goodwill, with a magical ending of 2018, San Beda emerging as NCAA champs (ho-hum), UP’s grand UAAP run (surprise), the return of the Bells (cheers), and a fourth Miss Universe crown (cheers, cheers).
Mirabile dictu! Cheers, cheers, cheers!


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