Column: Legal ‘barok’

Published on February 3, 2009

Of the many basketball teams I have rooted for, perhaps my sentimental favorite is the Magnolia team of the 1985 Open Conference. Carrying the colors of the San Miguel franchise in the Philippine Basketball Association (at that time, there was only one), the team was probably the weakest ever on paper. Aside from playing coach and import Norman Black and Marte Saldana, once a Rookie of the Year, there were no other top-tier players (or at least none that I can remember). Oh, there was the hard-working Gerry Samlani, who flustered history one unforgettable night when he converted a rebound into two points—-in the opposing team’s goal.

And yet the team ended up dueling with the impossibly talented Great Taste team (coached by Baby Dalupan, led by sweet-shooting MVP Ricky Brown, backstopped by All-Defensive stalwart Abe King) for the conference championship. Great Taste, with its superior firepower, won in six games; Magnolia finally surrendered after Dalupan launched yet another new weapon: Jimmy Manansala’s three-pointers from nowhere. But what a ride for a team with no prospects. As a team, Black’s warriors weren’t destined for anything; they created their own fate.

I was (improbably) reminded of the team after watching the great Roger Federer lose to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open finals the other night. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps something to do with the difference between destiny and fate.
* * *

I was struck by colleague Billy Esposo’s excoriation of Sen. Loren Legarda in two recent columns. I do share his concerns about political commitment, and would agree that this intangible can sometimes be measured by party loyalty. John Osmena’s last run for the Senate, in 2004, failed signally, in large part because Osmena had jumped the political fence so often the public was confused.

Legarda’s blurring of her catalytic role in Edsa 2 with her current part as a leading lady in the opposition aligned with Joseph Estrada can only hurt her, but is she, as the estimable Esposo espouses, a clone of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

I would like to think her years in the political wilderness, after defeat in 2004 and an expensive election protest, means the answer is No. (It is Ninoy Aquino’s seven years in jail and three years in exile that prepared him to be a hero, not his interrupted stint in the Senate.)

As it is, she is now where President Arroyo was a year and a half before the 2004 elections: in striking distance of the presidency. In the December 2002 SWS survey, Ms Arroyo was already in the double-digits, and among the four leading candidates. (In contrast, in the poll of presidential preferences, Legarda had an insignificant 4 percent; respondents were ready to vote for her as vice president, but not for the presidency.) The reality is: More voters are ready for her now.

* * *

A news release from Louie “Barok” Biraogo has popped up in my inbox. I had little sympathy for his cause, if his dramatic accusation of impropriety against Chief Justice Reynato Puno can be called that. Now I have none. That is to say, I used to have doubts about what Biraogo was up to; now I am convinced.

I am convinced his principal objective is to politicize the Chief Justice’s name. His latest “legal” maneuver is political in the extreme; the “public interest advocate,” as he now styles himself, is challenging Puno’s chief of staff and the Court’s spokesman, to a debate.

“Biraogo is now challenging Supreme Court Spokesman Atty. Midas Marquez to a one-on-one public debate on whether or not the acts of the Chief Justice in relation to the handling of the Limkaichong case are legal and above board. That way, Biraogo said, the truth of the matter will be revealed to the public once and for all. Biraogo suggested that the debate be held in Square Off, a popular debate program on the ABS-CBN news channel.”
* * *

It has already been made clear, by the Supreme Court itself, that the decision to hold the draft ruling on the Limkaichong case was an act of the entire court–and that the leak of the draft was deeply damaging to the Court. If the high court cannot keep its deliberations confidential, if the exchange of views during those deliberations cannot be held with the greatest candor, if justices cannot change their mind or their vote because of new reasoning or a more forceful argument, then the Supreme Court will be reduced to a mere political council, and judging to mere politics.

What will a “one-on-one” accomplish, except give our intrepid public-interest advocate a chance to describe judicial deliberations as a numbers game?

* * *

Designing peace. The soaring Museum of Contemporary Art and Design of the College of St. Benilde, part of the sprawling De La Salle University system, hosts “Designing Peace: A Show of Imagination” starting on Feb. 5—-an exhibition “prompted by the veiled negotiations between” the MILF and the government, in the words of consulting curator Marian Pastor Roces. (The accompanying symposium is equally intriguing.)

Linguistic Society. The Society’s Bonifacio P. Sibayan annual lecture, featuring multilingual education consultant Dianne Dekker of the Summer Institute, will be on Feb. 7, at the Yuchengco Building (also in De La Salle Taft).

Foundation Day. Colleague Caloy Conde, Philippine correspondent of the New York Times, and I will take part in a Foundation Day forum on journalism at the Phinma-run Cagayan de Oro Colleges, on Feb. 6. We both trace our roots to CDO; these twigs felt the tug.


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  1. Pingback: An election lesson plan « Newsstand

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