January 27, 2006

Papa Ratzi speaks

I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift.” - Benedict XVI

Beautiful words from the Pope in his “first” encyclical on “Christian Love.” REad the entire text at http://www/vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20051225_deus-caritas-est_en.html

January 21, 2006

The Great Escape

Two of my clients escaped last week.  Apparently, they were helped by their fellow officers. I won’t dwell on the legalities and technicalities but on the experience of having someone who has trusted you with their lives escape before their cases can be terminated.

I went to the taping of Debate last week and met a particularly repulsive Congressman (I would have wanted to say, “is there any other kind?”  but my friends Erin Tanada and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel are members of Congress and they’re not repulsive and among the nicest persons you will ever meet) who greeted me by asking, “aren’t you offended that your clients escaped, that means they don’t trust you?  You should feel betrayed.”

Because he is particularly repulsive, I actually just smiled and said nothing;  but on-air, Winnie Monsod also asked me practically the same question.

That got me thinking.

After having witnessed two of my clients killed before my very eyes, I’ve now experienced something new again—to have two clients escape.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think.

January 11, 2006

And I knew envy . . .

Extinguish my eyes, I’ll go on seeing you.
Seal my eyes, I’ll go on hearing you.
And without feet, I can make my way to you,
Without a mouth I can swear your name.

Break off my arms, I’ll take hold of you
With my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I’ll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.

- from Rilke’s Book of Hours
Love Poems to God

Man, that’s beautiful. Wish I could write poetry again but my brain’s been so addled by legal stuff that rhyme and meter and free verse appear alien to it now. I envy Marlon (I know, envy's wrong but I'm sinful) and the way he writes poetry--in filipino at that.

Still, in God’s time, perhaps some day, I’ll write poetry again from the psalms that I’m singing now in my heart.

January 04, 2006

Blind and toothless

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth will leave the world blind and toothless.”  
                                                                           -  Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

For once, I agree with Raul Gonzales—arming judges will not stop the killing of judges.

It is difficult to agree with the utterly illogical statement of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban reminding judges that they can arm themselves.  This, in the wake of the killing of Judge Henrick Gingoyon, a former FLAG lawyer from cebu who had to relocate to Manila after his and his family’s safety and security were threatened by the military for his uncompromising stand against human rights abuses.

Giving a judge a gun is not the answer to the violence that sweeps the country now.   That it is the Chief Justice of the Philippines saying this bodes ill for all of us.

Neither is the reimposition of the death penalty the solution.  The il-logic behind this is that had the State continued to execute people, Henrick Gingoyon would still be alive today.  The il-logic behind this is that had the State continued to kill people after January 4, 2000, many of the victims of rape, kidnapping, drugs, murders would not have been victimized.  


When Leo Echegaray was executed on February 5, 1999 and Bobby Andan on October 26, 1999,  crime did not grind to a halt thereafter.  After the last execution (so far) on  January 4, 2000, crime was not wiped off the face of the Philippines (I write this on the 6th year since the de facto moratorium the Philippines has imposed on executions.

The death penalty is not a silver bullet for criminality.  Neither is arming judges a wonder pill for violence against judges.

What we will be doing, if we join the rabble for more guns and for more death, is consign each of us—our generation and the generations to come—to the mindless, heartless, hopeless cycle of violence and insanity that we are in.    We will be creating what Tevye prophesied—a country that is blind and toothless.

January 01, 2006

To love more and to love more often

Playing on my mp3 player as I write this: Walk on”, U2’s anthem for Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, a brave and courageous woman lady who bravely stands up against the repression in her country even at the cost of her liberty and possibly her life.

After being stopped from leading a march against repression and being placed again under house arrest, Suu Kyi finds herself in familiar surroundings—a bird in a gilded cage--Bono wails, begs, pleads with Suu Kyi to walk on against repression in her country, in great courage with great faith and with all hope that one day her country will be free and that she, and her fellow Burmese, may walk on without restraint, without borders, without danger—free.

A shining example to many, me most especially, Suu Kyi’s struggles to liberate her country men strikes a deep, deep chord in me.

It is not as if she could not walk on and out of Burma, free. The military junta that rules Burma now would want nothing better than that—so that they could be rid of her. She chose to stay. She chose to not be able to walk on, freely. She chose to be in her country, with her countrymen. She chose to suffer with them; to be bound with them; to share their burden; to struggle with them; to stand in solidarity with them.

Suu Kyi’s solidarity with her people reflects another man’s solidarity with His. Jesus, the Christ of God, chose to be born of and to man; He chose to stay with His human parents, Joseph and Mary; He chose to not be able to walk on, freely; He chose to be with His countrymen—living their lives, sharing their burdens as well as their joys; He chose to stand in solidarity with them—with Us.

Like Christ, Suu Kyi could have chosen freedom but she did not. Like Christ, Suu Kyi could have chosen to live her life for herself but she did not. Like Christ, Suu Kyi could have chosen to just walk on, but she did not.

I, who am free, often do walk on blithely, uncaring of many things around me. I, who am free, often do walk on as if my life were to be lived for myself only.

At the start of the year, 2006, I made no resolutions and I performed no rituals. I did make a decision, a conscious choice: to love more and to love more often. I choose not to just walk on if it means being uncaring; I choose not to just walk on if it means not being able to love more and love more often; I choose not to just walk on if it means not being to stand in solidarity with all those that Christ came to save.

Lord, I pray for the grace to be able to stand for You, stand for Your people, and, in so standing, to love more and love more often.

It is . . .