(This letter was received by CJ Puno on September 8, 2008 and he did not even care to respond to the letter).
August 29, 2008
Dear Chief Justice Puno;
Our nation is in turmoil – our institutions are in constant challenge – we have always been under social strife.
Amidst this turmoil, people come to your judicial enclave to adjudicate their claim over a piece of ancestral territory, others asked that you to set them free, some asked for money to be paid by his adversary, some asked you to curb excesses of government authority, the President had asked that her executive secrets and her private tapes be forever be sealed, still others come to dishonor some members of the Bar or the Bench.
I come to you today to plea for my honor back and I write this letter for posterity.
Yesterday, August 28, I received a letter from the State Bar of California that your Office had advised the Committee of Bar Examiners “that due to a finding of misconduct, I was suspended from the practice of law in the Philippines effective August 9, 2005, and that the suspension remains in effect”. [George Solatan vs. Inocentes, et. al A.C. No. 6504. (Copy of the letter is enclosed herewith)].
Your Honor was part of the Division which penned the decision about my administrative case and despite my two Motions for Reconsideration, the Court had denied them in two minute resolutions. The last resolution affirming the finding that I was guilty of professional misconduct was dated March 22, 2006. I received copy of the Order in the first week of April and I was of the impression that 12 months after April 2006 or in April 2007, my suspension for one year to practice law has been served and thus I am free to practice my profession again.
If my suspension remains in effect despite the lapse of more than one year because I have to do some paperwork to restore my standing, such does not appear to be the tenor of the letter I have received from the Committee of the California State Bar. If ever I have to do some penance or paperwork to regain my good standing, a modicum of fairness requires that the undersigned be informed about them so compliance can be made.
Like His Honor, I was raised poor and I descend from a humble beginning. Like His Honor, I put myself through law school and for a large measure, through the help of so many good souls. My administrative case has caused me sleepless nights, pain and agony. I consider my honor my treasure and an heirloom worthy to bequeath to my children but that has been tarnished by this administrative case. To clear my name, I have brought to public consciousness the indictment against my character, which common mortal, would have otherwise keep under wrap. I am never ashamed of this case, though I ache in the idea that the Supreme Court, which I have tried to believe to be the fountain of everything that is just is otherwise unjust.
I have tried to engage the public on issues that may affect them in the future, and though I am a zealot proponent of the principle that a pending legal issue must be resolved within the confines of the court’s four walls, such issue assumed a totally different dimension when it is finally made to rest.
A final judicial decision, like the act of Congress or the Executive, can be a subject of a public debate. Public accountability and judicial responsibility demand that every court decision must not only be defended in the four walls of this Court, but even at the halls of public opinion. It was under this higher constitutional precept that I wrote my book.
If the advice by this Court to the Committee of Bar Examiners of California to derail my moral fitness qualification was an offshoot of my attempt to debate my administrative case outside the Court, your Office should at least been candid about it and must have informed the California Bar Committee accordingly.
This Court, under your watch has tried to light the torch of the ideals of democracy and liberty and you have the occasion to write:
“A government’s democratic legitimacy rests on the people’s information on government plans and progress on its initiatives, revenue and spending, among others, for that will allow the people to vote, speak, and organize around political causes meaningfully. As Thomas Jefferson said, “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and will never be.” (Dissenting Opinion, Neri vs. Senate, G.R. No. 180643).
I have exercised my right to speak because I believe I am free. I have exercised my right to dissent in the same way that you have exercised yours against the best judgment of your distinguished brethrens in the bench. Must we seek for the distinction between your dissent and mine and deny me that God-given gift as a free human being while you invoke the protection of your right to dissent without fear, without apprehension, and without expecting any reprisal or punishment? Is there fairness in such submission?
Your peroration on the writ of Habeas Data would stir us to look for the truth that will stand the test of time and not seek for shallow imageries or appearances of truth. You have intoned:
“Indeed, truth is the bedrock of all legal systems, whether the system follows the common law tradition or the civil law tradition. Justice that is not rooted in truth is injustice in disguise. That kind of justice will not stand the test of time, for it is not anchored on reality but on mere images.”
I am your disciple in that regard and so I squelch every imagery and appearance of truth and tried to seek for its true meaning beyond this imagery and found that this Court is not the only repository of good conduct and wisdom and the dispenser of everything that is just. In fact, history has led us to believe that the capacity of our institution to succeed in its sworn task is intertwined with its doom. It is doomed the moment one single innocent soul is served punishment instead of reward, condemnation instead of exaltation; and despite the monumental data of probity and wisdom in all other situations, they are all dimmed by this one slip up.
Your speech on the Writ of Habeas Data was centered on the protection of human rights from abuse of government authorities. My right to earn a decent livelihood is a basic human right that is at stake in this exercise. But where does one go if he is abused by the very institution where he expects justice from? Where do I go if this Court stood pat on its position that despite the lapse of almost two years, my suspension of one year is still in effect and thus deprive me of my right to continue to practice my profession?
Should I endear myself to the Court’s discourse on truth and justice or does that entitle me describe it as “hypocrisy?”
If in God’s grace I pass the California Bar and denied admission because this Court will not give me a clean bill of professional demeanor, I will not for the second time come back to this Court to beg for my honor. I will not beg for the restoration of my honor because I believe that in the eyes of the Lord, I am honorable. I believe I have given this Court the chance to be just when I filed my two motions and to be magnanimous when I wrote this letter. This Court may choose to validate my thesis that this Court is unjust, nay it is vindictive.
It was injustice enough that I was suspended from the practice of law for one year. It was double injustice that I continue suspended despite the lapse of my suspension period.
I write because this Court, under your watch, may be able to step down from its pedestal and provide a veneer shadow of its probity and wisdom and hear one’s plea to correct an injustice. It is up to your Office to perpetuate it or to end it.
JOSE C. CAMANO
Committee of Bar Examiners
State Bar of California
1149 South Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-2299