Saturday, 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.

Wednesday, 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.