June 29, 2006

Silliness

The College of Cardinals is not determined by proportional representation.  So the number of Catholics there are do not determine the number of Cardinals a country gets in the College  of Cardinals.

Saints do not become so by application or, worse, by patronage—at least not in this day and age.  There must be proof that miracles have been attributed to them by people who have asked for their intercession (wait;  if this is the criteria, what does that make of Garci who pulled off a miracle in 2004?).

Where do Gloria’s people get these ideas?  

There is no other

Jessica Z said it before in her blog and I’ve been noticing it also in my own blog. The Comments section really starts to take a life of its own.  I’m starting to recognize some of the “anonymous” bloggers as well as those who have been signing their names.  I do appreciate the comments;  what I do not appreciate are personal attacks that do nothing to contribute to any debate or thought formation but debase the writer, i.e., me.

My last post on Gloria Arroyo drew a comment from someone I “met” in email—Auntie Beth;  I do appreciate her comments and I understand what she’s saying and where she’s coming from.  Auntie Beth’s comment also drew an “anonymous” post from someone I presume is (was) my student “defending” my statements on Gloria Arroyo.  I won’t pit the two against each other as that really isn’t something I would want to do.  

I do, however,  want to comment on Auntie Beth’s statement that she misses the “other Ted”, presumably referring to the posts that speak of God and my relationship with Him and my postings on my faith.

I realize that it can be disconcerting to read my blogs that speak lovingly of God and His people and harshly of Gloria Arroyo.  I, however, find no contradiction.  Those who have met me and know me well will not find it strange that I can speak lovingly of God and so harshly of Gloria.

Its easy to speak in loving terms of God and His people simply because I owe everything to God.  It is not as easy to speak in loving terms of Gloria who has done nothing but cause hardship to Filipinos in the name of staying in power at all costs.

Is it un-Christian to speak harshly of Gloria?  I do not think so.  Even Christ had harsh words for the Pharisees;  and believe me, Gloria is light years beyond the Pharisees.

Is it un-loving to call Gloria a dictator?  I do not think so.  Especially when she cheated in the last elections and enjoys no mandate whatsoever;  especially when she, only a few months ago, arrogated unto herself powers the Constitution does not give her;  especially when the Supreme Court has categorically told her that she can’t do what she did when she proclaimed CPR, Proclamation 1017 and EO 464.

Is it wrong to speak out in the face of a clearly manipulative attempt to curry favor by using every thing or person available?  I think not.  Especially when  the subject of her manipulation is no less than the Holy Father himself.  We must not forget that it is this very same Gloria Arroyo who, when she was still Vice President, declared that John Paul II had confirmed that it was perfectly alright to go ahead with her destabilization attempts against Erap;  we must not forget that it is this very same Gloria Arroyo who, upon visiting Benedict XVI, now intones through her mouthpiece Mr. Bunyi that the Pope has also given his go-signal for her government to continue doing what it is doing.

Is it wrong to speak out in the face of such utter silliness as Mike Arroyo’s statement that Gloria will “lobby” the Holy Father for more Cardinals and for the application of two more Filipino saints?  I do not think so.  

Auntie Beth, I apologize if my harsh words against the dictator turn you off but I am the same person—not two persons—who is a Christian, a human rights advocate,  a lawyer, a law professor, a Filipino.  I cannot speak lovingly of my God and lovingly of a dictator;  I believe absolutely and, wholeheartedly, in telling the truth and the truth is “Gloria must go.”  There is no “other Ted”,  what you read is what you get.

C.S. Lewis, paraphrased many times by the late Cardinal Sin, once said, “hate the sin, love the sinner.”  I believe that, with all my heart.   That is why I speak out against Gloria Arroyo, who is, like me, a sinner.  If I keep my peace in the face of all the corruption, all the killings, all the anomalies, all the irregularities, then I would not only be loving the sinner but also loving the sin.  Believe me, I do pray for Gloria Arroyo but not that she stays on because, believe me, I also pray for my country, which  I love more than Gloria, sinner and daughter of God that she is.  

And the most loving thing I can do for my country right now is to pray that Gloria goes--soon.

June 27, 2006

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

“Please sign.  Now , please resign.”

That’s what I would have said to Gloria Arroyo at Malacanang last Saturday during the signing of the law repealing the death penalty.

The consummate trapo (contraction for traditional politician;  vernacular for dirty rag—whichever, it fits) that she is, she now brings the law to Pope Benedict XVI as a gift to him from the Filipinos;  never mind that when she was a senator, she voted yes (by default) to the death penalty law as a fence-sitter;  never mind that when she was Vice President, she marched with a hanky-covered “Baby” Echegaray along Ayala with the likes of Jamby Madrigal (another famous chameleon), Loi Estrada clamoring that Leo Echegaray be killed;  never mind that from 2001, when she took over from Erap, she never certified abolition bills as urgent and even went to the extent of saying that she would continue to execute kidnappers and drug dealers;  never mind that she only discovered that she was “pro-life” when she was teetering on being removed and she needed the support of the bishops; never mind that she changes her “principles” as quickly as she loses her temper or Mike Defensor changes his stands on many things.  Never mind all these things, mind only that she has repealed the death penalty law and gotten a pat on the back and a “well done” from the Pope.

People ask me if I’m happy now with Gloria that she has repealed the death penalty in the Philippines.  For my answer, scroll up to the top of this post.

June 26, 2006

Life and death

It’s finally dead.  The death penalty in the Philippines, that is.

Last Saturday, Gloria Arroyo signed into law Republic Act No. 9346 formally ending the regime of capital punishment in the Philippines.  A few weeks before the formal signing, the Chief Justice created a stir by announcing publicly that the Supreme Court had committed a grave error by ordering Leo Echegaray to be executed.

Because the death penalty is an issue that I can no longer avoid, I’ve been asked many times by many people how I feel about the repeal of capital punishment and about the Chief Justice’s comments on judicial error.

Honestly, similar to how I felt when I watched Leo Echegaray and Bobby Andan murdered in front of me, I don’t really know how I feel;  at least, I can’t really describe it.

I know I should be happy that something I (and my colleagues at FLAG and the FLAG Anti-Death Penalty Task Force) spent more than a decade fighting for has finally happened.  Strike that, I know I should be ecstatic.  But I actually am not.

Maybe its because the death penalty repeal came many, many years too late; perhaps its because the abolition came seven (7) lives too late.  I just cannot get myself to be ecstatic at the repeal because I keep remembering the 7 people whose lives were claimed at the altar of capital punishment and the more than a thousand lives who suffered due to the stigma and the burden of being sentenced to die at the hands of the State.

People ask me if I’m vindicated by the Chief Justice’s comments on the Echegaray conviction;  I actually don’t feel vindicated even if that is what we had been saying all along.  What good are his words when Leo and six (6) others have already been killed?  What good will the acknowledgement of judicial error do when so many people have already been scarred by capital punishment?

People still equate me, 8 years after Leo’s execution, with him and I don’t find that I mind at all.  It is my burden to carry his name along with mine; and, in a very strange sort of way, it is an honor.

The death penalty is dead.  Long live life.

June 22, 2006

Wearing the colors

The few games of the NBA Finals that I had gotten to watch—I was amazed at one thing (and this I noticed in the Miami games):  when Miami played, it was to a backdrop of white shirts (white being Miami’s home game colors).  Everyone was in white!  Now, that’s intimidating to an opponent who goes into the arena looking for some measure of comfort or appreciation.  And, that’s comforting to a home team that goes into the campaign looking for support.

It’s a good analogy for Christian commitment.  

Are we ready to wear our colors proudly?  Are we ready to be one with other Christians in being identified as a Christian?  Its similar to wearing  white in the Miami Heat basketball arena—you identify yourself with the home team to the extent that you would proudly display your colors.

God doesn’t ask much from us—just that we make a choice, we stand by it and we be proud of it.

For all those who have made that choice, let us stand by it and be proud of it.  Wear your colors proudly, God’s child!

Flash and Zo

The Miami Heat finally won its first championship since it came into the league as an expansion team more than a decade ago.  They’re not my favorite team—Boston is, but they suck big time now (I wish Larry Bird would be hired by Red Auerbach to do in Bean town what he did for Indiana as Coach and later President of Basketball ops)—but I prefer Miami over Dallas.  I’m happy though that Miami won, for two reasons.

The first is NOT Shaq.  I don’t like Shaq—I think he’s overrated (I mean, what should you expect from someone that tall and that big?  If he doesn’t score or block in the double figures and he doesn’t make you change your shot in the lane, then you didn’t get your money’s worth—for the ticket or the contract).  He’s like Superman as against Batman—dude, no contest; even the colors are better on Batman (red underwear worn over blue tights, huh?).  

The first reason is Dwayne Wade. Now that’s the  player for me.  He’s not that tall (officially 6’4”; though NBA books tend to exaggerate a little when it comes to height) but he plays BIG!  He flies—to dunk or block or score in the lane;  he shoots from mid-range or closer;  he’s even known to take a few shots from outside the 3-point line;  he rarely shows negative emotions on the court, except directed at himself and he has an almost preternatural ability to take over the game when it counts.  He doesn’t mind being the last person to take the ball when it counts—regardless of glory or shame.  He’s being compared to Michael Jordan—unfair, definitely, to Wade.  Jordan does not compare to Wade—Jordan was largely a creation of media (fine, he dunks well and he flies but that’s probably propelled by the helium in his ego) which he manipulates quite well; also Jordan isn’t that much of a poster boy for good values.  Jordan often pointed fingers at others for losses and pointed a finger at himself for wins;  Wade hardly blames others for losses and usually credits others for wins.  Jordan v. Wade—no contest;  Wade wins, hands down—in ALL respects.

The second reason is Alonzo Mourning—Zo!  He, with the unique last name.  He, with the kidney transplant and the overwhelming desire to win a championship before he retired.  He, who was willing to take on a supporting role in a team which he had led before he fell ill.  Now, that’s character!  Zo didn’t transfer back to Miami demanding things—even if the team probably would have given in to many of these—he moved back knowing he would be the oldest player on the team and a role player;  now, that’s a bitter pill for a perennial starter (at Georgetown and at Miami) and a double-digit scorer and blocker.  But he took the pill, knowing that he would be able to help Miami win one.  And he did.  In the final game, he took over from a foul-ridden Shaq and contributed his share of points, rebounds and blocks.  In the end, all the trouble he went to paid off—he finally won one.  And I am sure this one is the sweetest in his books.

Wade and Mourning.  Two players who show good and positive values  in a league dominated by an overriding concern to look out for number one--oneself;  two players who display character in a league dominated by supersized egos.  Wade and Mourning. Refreshing gusts of fresh air in a league that parades as  its poster boy a spoiled brat like Kobe Bryant.

June 08, 2006

The Day After

It’s over-finally!

It is the day after and the death penalty is dead.  The bicameral conference committee of the Senate (led by Senator Joker Arroyo—one of my former clients) and the House (led by Representative Edcel Lagman—another of my former clients) concluded its deliberation in record time and finally ended the reign of the death penalty in the Philippines.

All that it is needed is Gloria’s signature.  And with all her political maneuverings, I have no doubt she’ll sign it—she needs the endorsement of the Catholic church and other pro-life denominations, particularly because she is currently so in love with mining (which the Church opposes).

From 1994, a few minutes after the ink dried on the Death Penalty Law, abolition has been one of my issues, one that has occupied top tier in my agenda;  it has given me so many experiences and has made me many friends as well as enemies.  It is hard to believe that it is finally over.

I won’t miss it—the death penalty, that is.


The death penalty issue has made me grow up a lot—in many ways.  

As a lawyer, I have grown up in ways that I could never imagine; from arguing my very first Supreme Court orals at the ripe old age of 30;  witnessing two executions in the same year—Leo Echegaray on February 5, 1999 and Pablito Andan on October 26, 1999;  presenting position papers and engaging experts in round-table discussions here and abroad;  learning new things (such as use of DNA forensic technology in criminal cases) and being looked upon as the savior, hero and role model (three roles that I am absolutely uncomfortable with).  

As a person, I have become more open to many new ideas and to new ways of invigorating old ideas;  I’ve also learned what’s truly important:  a healthy acknowledgment of just how weak we all are, just how human, just how imperfect but also a healthy realization that, despite our weakness and our frailty, we are called to do extraordinary things by simpy living our ordinary lives.

As a Christian, my brushes with death on those two occasions when Leo and Pablito were executed right before my very eyes have shown me just how much love is missing in our lives right now;  when the ultimate cruelty of man can be used to justify a perfect justice that only God is capable of, the issue of life and death takes on new meaning.  My journey towards abolition has also led me back into a journey with the Lord who has given me everything, and, truly, it was only by His grace that I, and my companions on this journey, were able to accomplish so much.  To Him is the glory.

I will miss it—not the death penalty but the campaign and the many friends and comrades who have enriched my life through the years.  Through the years in the campaign, these were the lives who touched mine and I salute them: my colleagues from FLAG, Cookie, Chel, Arno, Pablito, Ed, Jun V., Milabel, Bombi, Chito, Ida, Weng, Glenda, Gilda, Leo, Domy, Ming and all the FLAG lawyers;  my colleagues from the FLAG ANTI-DEATH PENALTY TASK FORCE:  Fr. Jun Jun Borres, SJ, Fr. Roy Cosca, SJ, Fr. Robert Reyes, (Bishop) Rudy Diamante, (Cardinal) Tax Tan, Lydia and Dolly Pangilinan and everyone from Samahan ng mga Pamilya sa Death Row (SPDR), Brenda, all our clients from ALIS-DR, Maricel, Bing, Precy, Mike, Cora De Ungria and her staff at the DNA Lab;  Racquel Fortun, our friends from the PAO Appeals Division;  our volunteer lawyers who signed up for the TASK FORCE:  Karreen, Ella, Jig, Lourie, Joji, Rhon, Lezyl, Jun, Dondon, Tel, Fe and many others whose names I don’t remember at the moment.   I salute all of you and thank you.  May we have many more journeys towards the attainment of fundamental freedoms together.

June 06, 2006

sound and sight


What I'm watching on video--season 2 on bootleg DVD;



What I'm listening to now.



One more nail. . . one more House

The Senate of the Philippines just passed the abolition bill! One more chamber to go--the House, unfortunately.

One more nail in the coffin before the death penalty is dead--again (in 1987, the Constitution abolished the death penalty; in 1994, it was restored).

I pray that the majority of the members of the House can rise above themselves to vote on the abolition bill so that, finally, the death penalty can be removed from the statute books.

Sudoku

I’m addicted; to Sudoku, that is.

It’s a numbers puzzle and the object of the game is to fill in the grids provided so that every row, every column and every 3 x 3 box contains the digits 1 through 9.

I first saw it on a Newsbreak issue and wondered what it was; I went online and managed to get it downloaded into my PDA.

Now, I’m hooked. Try it, you’ll see why.

June 01, 2006

Apt Anagrams

I got these from Rocky. While some of these have been making the rounds of the various egroups, I still found them a lot of fun—especially in the wake of the Da Vinci Code controversy.

DORMITORY = DIRTY ROOM
PRESBYTERIAN = BEST IN PRAYER
ASTRONOMER = MOON STARER
THE EYES = THEY SEE
GEORGE BUSH = HE BUGS GORE (ha ha ha; he bugs me too but that’s not an anagram)
THE MORSE CODE = HERE COME DOTS
SLOT MACHINES = CASH LOST IN ME
ANIMOSITY = IS NO AMITY
ELECTION RESULTS = LIES - LET'S RECOUNT
MOTHER-IN-LAW = WOMAN HITLER (can’t relate)
SNOOZE ALARMS = ALAS! NO MORE Z'S
A DECIMAL POINT = I'M A DOT IN PLACE
THE EARTHQUAKES = THAT QUEER SHAKE
ELEVEN PLUS TWO = TWELVE PLUS ONE

I especially love “Election Results”, “The Eyes” and “The Earthquakes.”