His “resignation” letter gave the end date as “April 1, 2006 or until my replacement is appointed, whichever is earlier.” Thus ended the public life of Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo, Tribune of the People.
He is a good man in a rotten government; a good lawyer in a lawless reign.
Thrust into the thankless defense of an indefensible government and an illegitimate ruler, this good man became the public face of a government that deserved to be publicly humiliated. Before his peers in a Court he had served long and faithfully, the Tribune of the People simply could not provide the reasons for something that was totally beyond reason. And when that public humiliation did come—within the halls of the Court and in the bar of public opinion—it was all he could do to put a brave smile on his face and pretend that nothing was wrong.
Yet, it is in the character of the man who would not simply allow that brave smile and feeble pretense to be his legacy.
That he “resigned” yesterday, pending the submission of a Memorandum that would rationalize the dictator’s rule, betrayed the turmoil behind that brave smile. That an “equal” in the Secretary of Justice (I use this loosely in relation to the current Secretary of Justice because he is far from being Benipayo’s equal--in erudition, in integrity, in character) would “accept” or even “demand” his resignation is the unkindest cut of all.
Someday, perhaps, when there is no longer a reason for that brave smile and the feeble pretense, Benipayo may tell us the reasons why he would abandon the dictator at the most crucial point in its legal battle for legitimacy. As he belts Sinatra and Bennett, one day, Benipayo may tell us what everyone now “knows”—that he was fired because he could not defend the indefensible and could not legitimize the illegitimate.
In the meantime, the Tribune of the People is gone; long may he live!