It was expected. My own sources told me it was inevitable. And yet when the news broke, half an hour or so ago, that the Supreme Court had removed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from office by granting the quo warranto petition against her, I was still staggered by the enormity of it all. This was eight justices deliberately turning their back on the rule of law, to spite a leader they did not like (and in the process play the witting pawns in a game of authoritarian chess). I also shared the sense of loss and confusion many members of the legal community immediately expressed, and then remembered this letter of Sen. Jose W. Diokno to his son, a month after the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.
[Update: Esquire Philippines has the complete version. I didn’t even realize my copy was incomplete!]
When you asked me about a month ago, for a list of books that you could read to start studying law, I was loathe to prepare the list because I felt that you would be wasting your time studying law in this “new society.”
I am still not sure that it would be worth your while to do so.
A few days ago, while chatting with a soldier, he asked, in all seriousness and sincerity, “Pero sir, kailangan pa ba ang mga abogado ngayon?” And in a way that perhaps he did not intend, he raised a perfectly valid question.
A lawyer lives in and by the law; and there is no law when society is ruled, not by reason, but by will—worse, by the will of one man.
A lawyer strives for justice; and there is no justice when men and women are imprisoned not only without guilt, but without trial.
A lawyer must work in freedom; and there is no freedom when conformity is extracted by fear and criticism silenced by force.
A lawyer builds on facts. He must seek truth; and there is no truth when facts are suppressed, news is manipulated and charges are fabricated.
Worse, when the Constitution is invoked to justify outrages against freedom, truth and justice, when democracy is destroyed under the pretext of saving it, law is not only denied—it is perverted.
And what need do our people have for men and women who would practice perversion? Continue reading