Inasmuch as this is my first attempt at book writing, the pressure to come up with something that will stand the test of the times was tremendously smothering; difficult as writer Clarence Day’s standard that good books outlast the monuments and civilizations built by men: “still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts as the hearts of men centuries dead.” This is a very difficult task indeed, but I take comfort in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s counsel that the dullest author can write an interesting book by relating the events of his own life with honesty and not disguising the feelings that accompanied them. To write about my life’s experience and be truthful about it, is a task I can do and that is not as formidable as I thought it was, but nonetheless, I forewarned the readers not to raise their expectation because this book is written bereft of any literary qualities of Shakespearean ostentation, this is rather a creation of a neophyte author who tried to be honest and fair.
TITLE FOR THIS BOOK
In choosing the appropriate title for this book, I twiddled between two choices: “Censuring Back The Supreme Court” and “Termites from Within” I cannot prefer one over the other, so I used one for a title and the other as a subtitle.
Censuring Back the Supreme Court is appropriate for two reasons: Firstly, the Court has been noted for its institutional arrogance and peremptory censures of judges, lawyers and court employees based on the complaints of some well-meaning as well as not too-well-meaning complainants. I thought it is time now that the Supreme Court should receive the dose of its own medicine which for decades it has prudently or imprudently prescribed to all the people it may have considered its docile subjects and trivial chattels. Secondly, it is time now to pierce the myth of the Supreme Court’s claim to monopoly of legal wisdom, prudence and moral superiority and the myth of it being untouchable and infallible. It is time now to censure the Supreme Court back which like the other two branches of the government had been contemptuous of the concepts of liberty and freedom and the principle of public accountability.
“Termites from Within” is also appropriate because our leaders behave like species of social insects that gnaw the very foundation of our democratic institutions; nibble our moral fiber and desecrate our freedom which our patriotic forefathers had sanctified with their blood. Centuries after we have gained our freedom from the Spaniards and decades after we have secured it from the Americans and the Japanese, our country remains poor, our economy in shambles, and our moral values shattered. President Manuel L. Quezon was prophetic enough when he said that he would rather see a nation run like hell by Filipinos than like heaven by the Americans.
The country is now run like hell by Filipinos. Should we rejoice about it now?
MY PRIVATE THOUGHTS
In the Philippines, lawyers are being looked upon for some answer in the enigma and the idiosyncrasies of the political and economic life of the nation, and therefore, they become highly opinionated. I have my opinion of the state of the nation and our leaders but I considered it one of my private thoughts. I was not about to broadcast my private thoughts because I see no reason for a public discourse of my perception of what ails the country and curse the darkness where I could have lighted a candle. But that position has changed. Cursing the darkness so the people who hold the candle and the matchstick to light it, are actually prodded upon to light it could be as patriotic act as lighting a candle itself; and viewed from another perspective, this book could serve as my own lighted candle, and hope that it brings some light in the faded vision of our leaders and light their path in the arduous travel to seek prosperity for our nation and goodwill of all others. The corruption in the Supreme Court though, was foremost of all my private thoughts.
RADIO INTERVIEW OF JUSTICE PADILLA
In 1997, I was driving home after court trial one morning when I heard Ms. Korina Sanchez and then retiring Supreme Court Associate Justice Teodoro Padilla over ABS-CBN radio program. Asked about the index of corruption in the judiciary from level 1 to 10, Justice Padilla said level 7.
Tumultuous uproar was heard from the judiciary after that interview and Justice Padilla had tried to back track from his assessment of the corruption in the judiciary.
At another time, I heard Ms. Sanchez again with the good Justice and this time he said that when he had given the level of corruption in the judiciary, he was referring to the lower courts only. I told myself, he was right because the corruption in the Supreme Court was at level 10 already!
This was my private thought then and I wish I could make this private up to my grave. There is some hyperbolic nuance in this claim because only the laws of science and physics can make an attribute of absolute quantification, but in an institution like the Supreme Court, there could be one or two magistrates who remain, despite the decay in our moral values, honorable and distinguished. The claim then that the SC is 100 per cent corrupt is only to emphasize the point that it is more corrupt than the lower courts and not the other way around, and therefore, it has lost its moral authority to censure or rebuke lower court judges, and I should add, the moral authority to censure most trial lawyers.
“I have said in my motion for reconsideration that I have high respect of the Supreme Court, but somehow its five members were able to read through my pleadings that I have only contempt of its members when I said that I was willing to be weighed in a moral scale with any one of them. I am not afraid to trade barbs with the Court if honor is the name of the game, for after all I have not held any position of power and therefore I am clean from the filth and slime of the back-door quid pro quo transactions of those who wield power.” (p. 10).