Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Would it Matter if Christ Were Married?

I have just completed reading Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, the international bestseller that has been in the New York Times No. 1 list for the past months. Copies abound in National Bookstore, so on the prodding of the wife, we bought a copy for seven hundred bucks. And shall I say -- I will never look at Leonardo Da Vinci's the "Last Supper" painting in the same way again.

No -- this book is not in the league of Umberto Eco, not even Tom Wolfe. Yes, my initial reaction after finishing the last chapter is the same reaction I had after I finished John Grisham's "The Firm" -- no more of this pulp. The film version will make the book superfluous. Might as well just wait for it.

The book is in the mold of the classic cat and mouse chase. But the chase is framed by a search for a religious relic with hints, clues and riddles to spice it up. It's a worn out cliche. Not a bad way to spend the waiting hours in the toilet, but still not good enough to disenfranchise billable hours.

Of course, I have to credit Dan Brown for bringing to my attention the biggest joke that Leonardo Da Vinci has managed to pull on all unknowing Catholics who consider his "Last Supper" painting or replicas thereof as standard piece on their dining rooms. Da Vinci has made a fool of us all.

Notably, in spite of the sparsity of any insight to the human condition in the main story, there is one question hovering on the side of this book that leaves me baffled. Would it matter if Christ were married? To be more specific, would it matter if Christ were married to Mary Magdalene? And Mary Magdalene bore Christ's children whose descendants are now believed to be in France?

Jees, I have to admit I am struggling with the question. The book's proposition -- the history of the church as popularly known is the history according to the winners -- is valid. It's the corollary, the history according to the losers or the alternative history of the Church, which is very difficult to accept. If Mary Magdalene was the true "beloved", what would that make of all the religious literature that was fed to us that forever labels her as the biblical prostitute? And will Christ be not God if Christ were married?

I don't have an answer. Funny, how pulp fiction has evolved. Now, I have to review my college notes on philosophy and theology to make sure I maintain my bearings.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Problem Areas in the National Food Authority

As I bring to a close my one year stint as adviser to National Food Authority Administrator Arthur C. Yap, there are a few thoughts that need to be collected in writing for whatever its worth. After all, as NVM Gonzalez National Artist for Literature used to say, even a story about tittilating men's sexual fantasies has its own crazy social relevance.

I have to admit that the problems of the agency make it almost beyond redemption. I say almost because there is a final prescription to the problem -- abolition. But assuming this is not an acceptable solution, I have here a checklist of problems in the agency that I think represents, more or less, the problems of the entire bureauracy.

1. Balancing the budget and the expenses

Originally envisioned as a price equalizer in the grains market, the NFA's chief function is to ensure two things: 1) there is rice available for the public at any point in time 2) the price of rice is affordable to most Filipinos. The NFA is able to meet its objective, to put it in simple terms, by buying or importing rice and selling it at a loss -- i.e., rice imported at a landed cost of PHP 16 per kilo is sold at PHP 13. Why is this being done? It's because there is no other way of doing it. If NFA buys and sells rice at cost, then the existence of the agency is not necessary. If the NFA tries to make a profit on the trade, then it shouldn't be a government agency. What is the cost of this exercise? PHP 26 billion debts (and growing by the billions) guaranteed by the Government. Now don't be outraged yet. This fuzzy economics concepted in the martial law era is the primary reason why we have never gotten into a rice crisis in the last 30 years.

2. Dealing with procurement syndicates

Being a nationwide agency with about 9,000 employees, the agency naturally procures goods and services to achieve its mandate. The importation of rice, for example, is one of it's biggest ticket items. Rumors have it that past administrations who negotiated importation contracts got commissions from international rice suppliers -- something like 15 USD per ton of rice. That's BIG money. A late senator once financed a winning election campaign through this scheme. (During Arthur Yap's time in the NFA, all rice importations were bidded out on orders of the President to eliminate this commission racket.) Many service providers of the agency have been able to perpetuate themselves in the business by cornering contracts with the agency at scandalous prices. The agency's hands are often tied because the web of these syndicates includes Regional Trial Court judges who dish out injunctions against the agency to prevent it from terminating these scandalous contracts. One Regional Trial Court judge has in fact managed to land cases in his sala and issue two injunctions on separate contracts against the agency on the flimsiest most outrageous grounds.

3. Dealing with militant underpaid government workers

How does one pacify an underpaid work force when they start holding rallys and issuing out white papers?We recognize their grievance for more benefits and bigger pay but we also have have the Salary Standardization Law and the National Budget to deal with. Really, insisting on fiscal discipline when it comes to workers' salaries and benefits is like shooting yourself in the head.

4. Dealing with the noisy politicos in Congress

Try just once to deny a request from a congressman and you can be sure to spend your office hours in a congressional inquiry in aid of legislation and extortion. These congressmen are rabid. They stalk you for all sorts of favors. If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you can't deliver, you might as well go back to the private sector.

On top of the above problems, these is still the problem of managing the office work. An executive official in government signs hundreds of contracts and thousands of letters a year. He does this while juggling time for thousands of hours spent on meetings, trips and conferences and making and receiving thousands of phonecalls and probably millions of text messages. How do you make sure a wayward comma in a contract is proofread and corrected before it costs the government millions of pesos? How do you make sure a letter from a complaining citizen is acted upon before the lapse of the fifteen day period as mandated by law? How do you make sure you are just in time for that diplomatic meeting from the officials from Katmandu? What about the text message from the wife? Believe you me, it takes a superman to attend to all of these.

Now, assume for the moment that I was talking about the Presidency and not just the National Food Authority. I guess mathematically this can be done by putting an exponent to the 10th power in each of these problem areas.

I don't know why anybody will like to be in government. It's a thankless job. Most of all it is very, very, very, very, very, very, very T - O - U - G - H.

Saturday, November 29, 2003


Make no mistake about it, Dolphy is a bigger star than FPJ. FPJ's films have started to flop. Look what happened to his last film Pakner's with Efren Bata Reyes. Not even the lure of the billiard's king could pack in the crowds. But Dolphy, his last flop was Anak ni Facifica Falayfay which was ages ago, and he has been able to recover since then.

Dolphy stands for good natured humor. If the guy can lead us to laughter, he sure can lead us to paradise.

Dolphy can sing. He doesn't mumble in hopeless monotone.

Dolphy can dance. Yes, all seventy-five years of him. He makes Gary Valenciano dance like a baby. You should see Dolphy do the cha-cha. Dolphy doesn't stoop like an old tree with branches a-swaying.

Dolphy can act. His face can express emotion -- anger, fear, sadness. Didn't he make us all cry in Ang Tatay kong Nanay? And he doesn't need fancy lines -- like "Pinuno muna ang salop... Dapat ka ng kalusin" -- to get by.

Dolphy is a good father. How can you explain 18 children by different women with not a single one of these kids harboring any resentments? At the very least, he has proven himself well in household(s) management.

Most of all, despite all the temptations, Dolphy has the good sense and humility to reject the crazy idea that having a successful movie career makes him qualified to be in public office. As he always says when asked about the prospects, "Eh paano kung manalo ako?" (What if I win?)

If we really think the elections is a movie festival, we might as well bring in the King of Comedy!

We need a man with common sense. We need a man who knows his limits. We need a man like Dolphy.

Dolphy for President!


My complete slate for elections 2004

Dolphy for President

Bayani Agbayani for Vice-President


Ai Ai de las Alas
Ruby Rodriguez
Willy Revillame
Allan K.
Ben Tisoy
Richie D'Horsie
Brother Eli

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


I READ THE SAD NEWS RECENTLY that former Senator Miriam Santiago's youngest son AR killed himself after getting a failing mark in constitutional law. AR was a freshman law student at the Ateneo School of Law, The same school where I studied and got my law degree in 1995. It must have been really hard for the boy. And having gone through an almost similar ordeal back in my time (I got a 76, one point above the passing mark), I must say I can understand why such a small thing for people who don't understand can be such a big thing for the former senator's son.

Of the four major subjects in freshman law class (Criminal Law, Persons and Family Relations, Labor Standards and Constitutional Law 1), Constitutional Law (or "consti" in law student speak), is the toughest. It has the most number of accompanying literature -i.e., cases dating all the way back to the turn of the century, think U.S. v. Springer . Further, the number of cases is growing everyday. The recent decision in Francisco v. House of Representatives will surely be in next year's syllabus. And for politically-inclined individuals like me, constitutional law is the subject you learn to love and to hate. You love it because it's a living history. Was the 1973 Constitution validly ratified? Read Javellana v. Executive Secretary. Should Marcos be allowed to return to the Philippines? The answer is found in the Marcos v. Manglapuz twin cases. Did GMA validly assume power? It's in Estrada v. Arroyo. You hate it because it will keep you up for many nights. Each of the leading cases I mentioned above is at least 100 pages long, and there is more. Worse, in spite of all the hardwork, you will find it hard to snare. It's a language on its own. In the universe of law, constitutional law is like an entire planet and it's either you are in it or not. In my time, my teachers, Prof. Sedfrey Candelaria (also AR's prof) and Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S. J., could only help us so much. After pointing out what's important and what's not, they left their students on their own as we tried to digest, process and apply, with fear and trembling, this body of law and thought in class recitations and exams. 76 is a low mark, even humiliating, but it was enough to keep me in class.

When I took the review class with Prof. Jacinto Jimenez, I managed to get an 87 (it's a low B+ but it's still a B+). I thought I had already grasped this elusive subject then. But when I took the bar in which Constitutional Law was a three-unit exam and the bar results were released my grade was a 74! Bagsak! I could still remember the 1995 bar exams on constitutional law in which the first question was "What is social justice?" and the follow up question was "Compare the provisions of the 1935, 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions on social justice." For five minutes, I sat petrified thinking of how I was going to review for the next bar exams. All those years of toiling, photocopying cases, reading on the bus, skipping meals were all going to be lost in a question so basic, we never discussed it in class, yet so deep it cuts across generations of thought on Philippine governance and dissent. I knew I was going to flunk. It's a good thing that my other grades in the other bar subjects pulled it up and I managed to eventually pass the bar with an average in the line 8. But constitutional law sure proved to be an enigma to haunt me to this very day.

Why would a young man kill himself for flunking constitutional law? I guess he lost sight of possibilities beyond constitutional law. To a student of law, law is life and life is law and constitutional law is the law to die for. People have died for the re-establishment of the Philippine constitutional order. How many times did military adventurists try to replace it with guns, bombs and slogans? And always, this nation re-affirmed its commitment to this constitutional order. Constitutional law holds this country together and keeps it from breaking apart. Constitutional law is us. And to a young man who has dedicated himself to the study and practice of the law, the inability to grasp the essence of this rich but difficult field was a set back which could have meant the end of a promising life and career. What was left to live for? A life of mediocre existence is a life not worthy of living.

It is sad that nobody was there to console AR in his hour of need to tell him about life's possibilities beyond constitutional law or the law career. Sometimes I wonder what might have been had I received a 74 instead of 76 in my own time. For a fleeting second I could have thought of suicide, but unlike AR, I would have been able to snap out of it, guitar in tow, with a thought that I could still become a rock star, a novelist, a teacher or a farmer. It wouldn't have been a problem. But who could have known? That fleeting second could have been all that was needed to poke a gun on my head and pull the trigger. That was all it took for AR to shoot himself -- a singular moment of frustration and despair.

Who is to blame for AR's death? Is it the elitist law school system that cold-heartedly rejects those who don't make the grade? Is it the myopic Philippine society that demands that we live up to our parents' academic credentials? Is it the culture of violence that allows guns to be casually accessible to any member of the family? Or is it simply constitutional law -- the fascinating, rich, enigmatic, tough, beautiful, and elusive field of law that embodies the best and the worst of our nation's people and history?

I guess for now, it is more relevant to hope and pray that in the space and time where he is, AR, the anguished disciple, will find the possibilities that law school would not let him find in this place and in this time.

Saturday, October 25, 2003


The House of Representatives has amassed enough votes to impeach Hilario Davide, Supreme Court Chief Justice, for alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund. Full story here. Boy are we in trouble!

We've got issues. Can a second impeachment complaint prosper within one year from the filing and dismissal of the first? Can the Chief Justice be impeached for using his discretionary fund according to his discretion? Did Danding Cojuangco's lapdogs in Congress sign the impeachment complaint for truth and justice to prevail? Is 1 + 1 = 3?

It's a waste of parliament time. But nonetheless, the judiciary has been rocked. What I'm looking forward to now is the legal team who will comprise both the prosecution and the defense of this impeachment crazy country. I doubt it very much if the Makati lawyers will take the prosecution side this time considering that this impeachment move is very unpopular. So I don't expect to see the Mario Bautista types. An interesting point is that we might actually be seeing Estelito Mendoza back in action this time as a member of the prosecution. Atty. Mendoza is Danding Cojuangco's star lawyer and definitely the man has what it takes plus the seasoned experience to handle this job.

But whoever will represent the prosecution in this impeachment will find themselves up against real back-breaking lawyerly work. The evidence is going to be a pile of vouchers, receipts and audit reports. There is hardly enough excitement in there to rock a teapot. In other words. half the work is how to prevent the audience and jurors from falling asleep. The other half is how to make them understand how these vouchers and receipts can justify a conviction. The worse part is there is simply no case. It is an idiotic complaint. My forecast is no self-respecting lawyer will take up this case to the Senate. What we are going to see for the side of the prosecution is a bunch of incompetents who think they can achieve fame and fortune by defending the rich, powerful and stupid.

As for the defense, Davide practiced law in Cebu. So his legal team might be comprised of the legal eagles in the south. We may be looking at former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Arthur Lim to lead the defense. Further, I think the volunteer lawyers will all be in the defense. So this is where we might find the Mario Bautista types. To hell with the San Miguel Account. In this moment of darkness, I believe the lawyers will side with the just -- in the same way that the volunteer lawyers were all in the prosecution during the Estrada Impeachment.

But the work for the defense is not going to be easy either. Sure, this is an easy win. The prosecution cannot make a case. But the Senate will decide on the basis of political affiliation, unless there is overwhelming public settlement that Davide should be acquitted. So the task of the defense is not just to win but to win resoundingly. The people should be moved so the Senate will do its work. So what is the defense going to do? The legal defense is going to be esoteric -- i.e., the JDF is not a pie that is so static you can slice it into 10 and give the 8 to the employees. It is rather a wriggler that shrinks and expands during the year that even if you divided it 80-20 every month at the end of the year the summary is still not going to be 80-20. The reality of managing fund such as the JDF is you can't plan enough for it because you cannot tell how much money will go to it because it depends on the number and nature of cases being filed in all the courts in the entire archipelago.

The prosecution wiil counter this by showing the state of the judiciary -- i.e., awful looking courts, underpaid court employees, stinking court toilets, etc. -- and Davide's "alleged" abuse of discretion in the use of the funds for Supreme Court resthouses and cars. Then, they're going to insist to compute the 80-20 appropriations in the JDF as if the fund doesn't decrease and increase every day that a case is being filed. It's legally not enough basis to impeach the Chief Magistrate of the land. It's not even enough to dismiss the Supreme Court's chief accountant. But this should be outweighed overwhelmingly. I don't have the slightest idea how this can be done.

What is the endgame? I think the Senate will either shoot down the impeachment Complaint on day one on the basis of the constitutional prohibition against a second impeachment complaint within the same year of the first or Davide will be in clear jeopardy of being removed from office. But unlike the Estrada impeachment where he saw the best and brightest legal luminaries in action, the Davide Impeachment will send in the clowns.

The impeachment circus side bar is on. I'm preparing a blog exclusively for the impeachment so I can understand this crazy development. The blog is found here At least, I have something to be excited about.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Trust me FPJ, you don't want this aggravation.

I'm pretty sure in your youth, some girl might have trapped you in a corner and dropped her panties. She might have been your type, flawless skin, pearly white teeth, big boobs and peppermint breathe. What did you do? Did you put on the hard on and pump away? Heck, you thought it was for free. Or did you do the alternative -- pull up her panties and go home to your wife?

It takes a real man to deal with these situations.

Now that lady is back. Her name is Power. You don't know her. Hardly anybody knows her. She is offering you a moment in history. Oh, it must be really a pleasure. But there is a payback time and you don't know the price.

Its a classic situation that I never saw in your movies.
But it happens everyday in literature and real life. Sometimes, she comes in the form of money. But normally, she's only one of these things: sex, power and wealth. So how do you deal with this girl?

Take a look at your precedents:

1. The cab driver who found PHP 18,500 in his cab.

2. The waiter who found 100,000 USD in Sulu Hotel

3. Faust

4. Thomas More

5. Thomas Becket

6. Jesus Christ

What do you do now? Trust me. Learn from whatever lessons you learned when this lady first came in the form of a beautiful woman who dropped her panties. The results are guaranteed.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


Yesterday's State Visit to the Philippines by US President George W. Bush ended with much funfare and was deemed a rousing success by all the people who prepared for it.

I have always looked at US Presidents with great awe even after my political awakening, as it were, in my college days. After all, it is quite a feat to become President of the most powerful nation in the world. And I am just "some lawyer from the Philippines." But DUBYA, I still think he cheated Al Gore in Florida and he cheated the world and the UN in Iraq. Now, he's cheating everyone again to undo what he has done in Iraq. What a guy!

That's why I think the seven leftists congressmen who walked out on him as Mr. Bush addressed a Joint Session of the Philippine Congress really did us proud. See Inquirer report here. Giving him the finger would have sufficed. But. oh the guys needed to make it appear dramatic so they walked out just as people sat to hear the buffoon speak. Nonetheless, the message has been sent. Mr Bush as president of the US, with whom the Philippines has so much to thank for, will get his warm welcome and hospitality from this Third World Nation. But no way is he going to go thinking he has fooled everyone in this country. And special mention goes to Cong. JV Bautista who unfurled the peace flag before George W. could mumble his anti-terror rhetorics at the podium. Great going Bayan Muna Representatives. You did not fail this nation. You made my vote very much worth it.

Saturday, October 18, 2003


By the way, Paul Krugman sent us this note from the New York Times,

"George W. Bush is like a man who tells you that he's bought you a fancy new TV set for Christmas, but neglects to tell you that he charged it to your credit card, and that while he was at it he also used the card to buy some stuff for himself. Eventually, the bill will come due — and it will be your problem, not his."

In spite of that, we've prepared a party for you. Have a nice time sir!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Al Ghozi killing overshadows Chapter III

Ping Lacson's publicists must be scratching their heads. After drum-beating the third and final chapter of the "Incredible Hulk" expose, the publicists could only find the news on the ears of Manila dailies and the full story is buried in the inner pages. Why of all the time in the world would yesterday be the same day that Fathur Rohman Al Gozi, the escaped Indonesian bomber, would be killed in a shoot-out? As a result, the newspapers today carry the triumphant GMA with the presidential declaration, "Terrorists won't get far in the Philippines." -- as if Chapter III wasn't the most awaited final edition of the Jose Pidal controversy calculated to sabotage the President's second term run. Of course, it's pure coincidence -- just like the sun rising from the east. It was bound to happen at the time when it should happen. The only question is how come these publicists didn't know? It's the end of the line for Mr. Ping. From now on, it's just Kuratong Baleleng. No more Mr. Expose. I would say though that it was -- how would we put it? -- a nice try.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Lawyerly Gadget of our Time


Back in the big firm, people wondered how come I used a Globe cellular phone when I was doing a lot of work for Smart. I used to reply in jest -- well, the only thing smart about it is it's name. What do you know? Today, I am taking everything back. As a happy user of a new and sparkling Smart Amazing Phone, I think Smart has come of age. It is now really living up to its name.

Picazo Law Office (my old firm) has been the counsel to Smart from the time that it was just a group of radio hobbyists with a weird telephone franchise until the present when it is widely-regarded as the telecom industry's multi-billion peso money maker ran by people with Ivy league MBAs. In my early years as an associate of Picazo Law Office, I handled some of Smart's cases in the far corners of the country, some as far-flung as Matalom, Leyte, a coastal town six hours away from Tacloban. But those cases were mostly nuisance suits by devious lawyers who thought they could make a giant corporation spit money at their command. Nothing major. When I left Picazo, I was liberated from these cases. You might also want to say that my career can be divided into two: the Smart and the post-Smart era. But the early years of Smart were exciting times for me and for the company.

Flashback to circa 1995

In the advent of the Philippine cellular phone industry, Smart took the "appropriate technology" gamble, as it were. Instead of getting into the expensive digital bandwagon (which Globe and Islacom touted), Smart went with the cheap analog technology. Industry naysayers said the technology was obsolete. But Doy Vea, then president and CEO of Smart, and his group of marketing wizards held on to the point -- the Filipinos didn't need a high tech phone; they needed a phone. It's like the people's need for a car. It didn't matter if it was a Mercedes. It could be a stainless Sarao so long as it rolled. And all that the Filipinos needed was to hear the voice from the other side of the line wherever in the Philippines they may be. And so, Smart went on an analog cellular roll-out program that had Globe and Islacom eating dust. In view of the fact that it was cheaper to set- up analog cell sites than digital cell sites by a ratio of about 6 to 1, Smart easily covered the entire Philippines in no time, as Globe and Islacom tried to play catch up with their capital intensive enterprise. Finally, the Filipinos had a phone. I could still remember that day when I was sitting on the terrace of our house in far away Pola, Or. Mindoro and I was barking instructions to my secretary in Makati -- something that months back was an impossibility because the nearest phone booth was 100 kilometers away.

It was boom time for Smart until Globe showed us how deaf and mute people can use the phone. The wonders of digital technology allowed text messaging. This enabled people to communicate by simply typing texts on their phone pads. Their need for a telephone already satisfied, the Filipinos soon realized that analog technology sucked. People got drop calls as often as they got drops of water from a faucet. No caller ID. You couldn't tell if the person who was calling was your girlfriend or your boss. In addition, text messaging was cheap and less invasive. People needed not to call when a simple "ok" could be relayed by typing "K" and sending it away. And their phones, oh-- they were bigger than the bananas in the grocery. That was when I decided to switch phones from Smart to Globe and I started that joke about Smart and its name because its analog phones were not text-capable.

The Erap years

Then, Smart made the big switch from analog to digital. Unfortunately, it had to deal with the text interconnection problem with Globe. Globe refused to hook up its text messaging service with Smart. Smart also couldn't get the court order to force Globe to link up. That staggering defeat of Smart when the Court of Appeals denied Smart's prayer for a mandatory injunction on texting interconnection echoed in the halls of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as one of the major upsets in the history of telecommunications law. (This case was handled by another group of lawyers and so this defeat will not appear in my resume.)

Well, as many people know by now, Smart found a political solution to the problem when Erap came into the picture. He summoned one of the Ayalas of Globe (Don Jaime Zobel, I think) to Malacanang to make peace with Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) of Smart. As Zobel entered the room, Erap, standing from his seat beside MVP, blurted, "Heto no pala eh. Tara na, ia-announce na natin sa press.", as the group proceeded to the press conference where it was announced that the interconnection problem had been solved. Erap was not going to take no for answer and just the gesture of accepting the invitation to go to Malacanang, did it in for Globe. I couldn't make out anything of the expression on the face of Mr. Zobel when the news came out in the papers the following day. It was a major lesson on Philippine business and politics.It was also one of the little things that outraged me as an anti-Erap advocate for which reason I refused to switch back to Smart, even if Smart had won the text interconnection war.

My other beef with this company during the Erap years was when it joined the other major corporations of the Philippines who refused to advertise in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a gesture of support to Erap. The Inquirer was Erap's staunchest enemy. To please him, his allies from big business orchestrated a boycott of the newspaper. Smart, with its sustained campaign for dominance, ran millions of pesos worth of print advertisements, especially on weekends. It was such a pity that Inquirer was deprived of that revenue for a period of time just to please that buffoon in Malacanang.
Along with the boycott of the other advertisers, Smart's refusal to advertise with the Inquirer seriously threatened the existence of the Inquirer and angered many freedom loving folks like me.

Oh, what this phone can do

The past is past and as I clutch my new Smart Amazing Phone, I am willing to forgive Smart for siding with Erap during his time. Big business is motivated by profit and profit guys have no balls when it comes to politics. There is nothing much I can do with that. But just look at what I can do with this phone. I can surf the web in clear and colorful html. I can read, CNN, Salon, nytimes and other favorites in the car. I can browse at Supreme Court decisions and laws without need of a bulky laptop computer. I can check out Roger Ebert's review of a Hollywood film as I stand in line for the tickets in the theater. I can read the breaking news from the Inquirer website as I sit in the barbershop. I can find out what Dean Jorge Bocobo is cooking up in his blog while sipping coffee in a restaurant. I can blog from the toilet seat. I can send and receive email with a push of a button while waiting for the roll call in court. I can shoot a picture or a video of my daughter and email it to the world. It has never been this way before. Connecting the cellular phone to the internet was a giant inventive step. The possibilities are endless. I can truly say, I now have the world's biggest repository of information in the power of my hand. Indeed, for all its political sins, Smart found its redemption in its perseverance for technological innovation. The Smart Amazing Phone is not just a phone. It's the evolution of the cellular phone: a true testament to the genius and creativity of man.

Saturday, September 27, 2003


DISCUSSING " A FAREWELL TO ARMS", Prof. Edna Manlapaz, was at a loss for words in describing the predicament of the lovers in this great Hemingway novel. She said it was something like a famous song in the 70's. Our class was silent for a moment and then Kris Aquino blurted, "Ma'am, I think I know that.. You and me against the world." and then she sang the first part of the verse, "You and me against the world," in her characteristic semi-alto and semi-soprano voice. It was a classic Kris Aquino moment. My classmates managed to smile and Prof. Manlapaz obliged Kris with the affirmation, "Yes, Kris, that's right. That's the song."

Although I was majoring in Philosophy in the Ateneo then, I took electives in English Literature, such as the Modern Novel and Creative Writing, which accounts for my "a little more than casual acquaintance" with the Philippines's controversial celebrity icon who was an English major. Her mother was still President then and Kris walked around the campus with a pair of bodyguards in well-pressed barongs. She was an "A" student and many times I wondered how she could finish three-hour exams in one hour and got those high grades. I remember once in class she told Eric Torres, the quintessential Ateneo poet-in-residence, that she was a speed-reader and it was the reason why she could finish the semester's reading list in a week.

Yet, somehow she didn't have the skill to deal with her heart's passion -- something that she herself admitted. Already a movie star back then, Kris had an affair with a married young actor. In creative writing class, she submitted a poem about a woman caught in a rivalry for
the love of a man in love with another woman. We speculated about the identity of the man, but our teacher managed to treat the poem with the same academic detachment as with the others. Being the darling of the press, her love life was often the subject of many news and magazine features, including gossips. But the nation sort of felt a catharsis from the love bubbling out of the young lady. While attending law school, I learned from a cousin of hers the hush news that she got pregnant with an action star who was many years her senior and with whom she carried out a secret affair. From then on, Kris became the the Philippine icon of illicit love -- the kind that sought acceptance and understanding.

To everyone's surprise, Philippine society appeared to be ready to accept her moral transgressions. In spite of all her publicized affairs with married men, Kris made it big as an actress (even managing to get an award), TV hostess, and commercial model. Somehow, she mirrored the Filipinos' changing view on love and sex. Gone are the days when concubines and paramours were looked upon with hatred and contempt. Moral judgments appeared to be suspended or even re-calibrated. If there were villains in society, there were no other than those who deceived people's hearts for power and money. But for people truly in love, the Philippines says welcome. It is okay to love -- even for those who are legally and morally no longer permitted to love -- for as long as it is "true love " Yes -- Kris Aquino's candor and wit somehow affirmed the Filipino's often quoted cliche "true love conquers all."

THE OTHER DAY, AN OFFICEMATE KIDDED ME that my officemate was going to get married soon and asked if I could work on the marriage license. I replied in jest that yes I could do it in a day and I could make it a 'little defective" so that when the time comes she can easily squeeze out of it with an annulment. We laughed our hearts out. The joke is that nobody appears to be taking marriage seriously nowadays. Marriage, as a Philippine institution, is indeed in serious peril. With the speed that marriage is contracted and annulled through Family courts thanks (but really no thanks) to the 1987 Family Code, marriage is no longer the revered civil status that it once was. More and more people are getting their marriage annulled. In client meetings, I am often taken aback by people making comments about their ex-wives and ex-husbands. I do not have the exact figures but I am pretty sure that the 1987 Family Code allowed annulments of marriage actions to hit an all time high in the history of the Philippines.

With the legal, moral and religious duties that go with marriage, the perception that marriage should be permanent appears to be getting eroded. Indeed, how many times are we going to hear that comment, "why should people be made to suffer a loveless union?" But is marriage really that burdensome? As regards to legal duties, more often that not, married couples are governed by the property regime of absolute community, which means, everything is owned by the husband and wife together. Thus, neither one can execute a sale without the other having to sign his conformity. It is kind of difficult for couples to deal with this, especially when one is making a stake for having acquired the property solely on his efforts. There are people I know who cannot seem to buy the idea of having to share their salaries with their spouses. As far as moral duties are concerned, the issue occurs when one of the spouses go astray, as in become an alcoholic or a drug addict, and drags the other to a life of hell. The moral bonds of marriage would somehow compel the other spouse to help the other get out of the fix. But often the easiest solution is get an annulment on the ground of psychological incapacity. With respect to religion, my Theology teacher, Amy Tolosa Duremdes, managed to make it sink in my head that "marriage is a pathway to holiness." Thus, marriage is not the be all and end all of happiness. It is but a tool towards the pilgrimage to God from whom true happiness can be found. Unfortunately, it all sounds too good and hard for many Filipinos to understand. For what many Filipinos believe is the simple idea that marriage should always be a function of love. All these little obligations appear to be irrelevant when one is in love. Marry for love. But when love is gone, annul it. Otherwise, the legal, moral and religious duties of a married person will sink you in unhappiness forever.

PERHAPS THIS IS THE REASON WHY Filipinos are willing to forgive Kris Aquino for her affairs with married men. Recall that her major partners attempted to annul their previous marriages to fulfill a promise to bring Kris to the altar. And this effort to "go legit", as it were, appears to be the saving grace of these affairs. No longer is it necessary for Kris to blurt out her theme song, "You and me against the world." for the Filipinos are ready to accept illicit love for as long as it is true. They also encourage the annulment of marriage if it becomes an obstacle to love. For whatever it takes, illicit love should become legit. And Kris is the embodiment of illicit love that is pure and true that seeks nothing but acceptance and legitimacy. How could it be so wrong?

As I sit and type out these last few thoughts, I cannot help but feel squeamish about how this is all going to end for Philippine society. Just a month ago, a feature in Discovery channel talked about love and romance being a three-year cycle. It said that romance may actually be triggered by body chemicals that wear out in three years, just about the time that is needed to sire a kid or two. If indeed the view that marriage is a function of love is prevailing in this country, I can not help but imagine the huge number of children who will suffer the trauma of custody fights and the loneliness of single parents. The nuclear Filipino family is no longer going to be the simple father-mother-child trilogy, but will include a step-father, a step-mother and a step-child, whichever may be the case. And the Catholic Church will be increasingly bothered by a growing disbelief on one of its most sacred sacraments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Supreme Court nullifies commercial law bar exams

It's a very unfortunate incident. Apparently, the 50 bar questions from which the bar examiner for commercial law chose the final 15 or so questions given during the bar exams leaked to the examinees. The real tragedy, however, is that the greater majority of the examinees who probably did not get copies of the leak will have to suffer the consequences of the misdeed of a few. Instead of resting after the last Sunday of the bar exams, they have to find a second wind and be up to another week for the re-take of the commercial law exams.

The Philippine Bar exams is perhaps the most difficult licensure exams in the Philippines, if not in the world. Taken in all Sundays of September every year, the Philippine bar exams covers all 8 fields of law -- political, labor, civil, taxation, commercial, criminal, remedial and legal ethics. Each subject involves thousands of cases and pages of statutes to comprehend and remember. Yet, for all its difficulty, the true test in the bar exams is the stamina to complete the four difficult weeks, the main highlights of which are the four-hour exams in the mornings and three-hour exams in the afternoons of all Sundays of September. Mind you, the exams are all essay type. So apart from the need to have a good analytical mind to comprehend the question, the examinee also needs to have a good command of the English language and a legible penmanship. That's why of the four thousand or so who take the exams every year, only about five hundred pass the same.

When I took the bar exams of 1995, I followed a strict 7:00 am to 12:00 midnight study schedule everyday in September. There was too much material to cover, so I had to ensure that every waking hour mattered. Thus, when I took the bar, I had enough confidence that I would pass it and the only question in my mind was whether I would get high marks. Well, I would say I had decent marks, except for embarrassing grades in political and labor law, all my other six exams were in the line of 8. But true enough, I was stressed by the third week. I found the exams quite fair but the fatigue took its toll on me that I purposedly took a 30 minute nap during the commercial law exams. It was a gamble that paid off. If I had not taken that nap, I would have committed lapses in grammar and analysis and flunked it altogether.

I did not bother myself with so-called "tips", because I had enough control of the material that I was able to predict or have an educated guess on the questions that were given. One funny incident is that of civil law where three days before the exam I was so certain that a question would be asked on alien adoption under the Family Code. I told friends to memorize the circuitous provision on this aspect of civil law and memorized it myself. Before the actual exams, I even went through the text with a classmate and recited the provision verbatim. Thus, when I read the questions during the exams itself and true enough there was that 10 point question on alien adoption, I dove right into it. The trouble was, I got too excited that I got it all mixed up. I think I was able to struggle and got a large part of the question right. But after the exams, I kept on saying, "I knew it all along. But how could I have not gotten all those ten points?"

Thus, I have some misgivings on the decision to nullify the exams. While the incident is truly despicable, I do not think nullifying the commercial law exams is necessary. This is so because the rightness or wrongness of the answers to the questions are not really the object of the exams, but the manner by which the answers were given by the examinees. In other words, examinees with poor English and poor penmanship are bound to flunk even if they got copies of the exams way ahead of the others. If the questions were the matching type exams, then a leakage would definitely call for a retake. But the bar exams is essay type. Thus, even if the examinee gets the right answer for a question, he still needs to defend and explain his answer. The explanation is the real point maker. As I said earlier, a good review of the material will make it possible for the examinee to actually predict the questions -- in spite of the expanse of the coverage. But what matters is the manner of answering, leaks or no leaks. The final word, however, is out. The Supreme Court has made a decision and all the examinees can do now is take a deep breathe and pray that there is enough energy to go for another week.

UPDATE: September 30, 2003

The Supreme Court reconsidered and ordered the cancellation of the mercantile law exams. Instead, the 15% allotted for the exams will be distributed evenly to the other subjects. See full story here.

Sunday, September 14, 2003



Democracy has an anomaly. The masses are dumb. They elect buffoons in office. They are easily fooled by propaganda. Thus, criminals and airheads get elected into office. And while in public office, the criminals commit more crimes while their intellectually-challenged colleagues do nothing. It turns into a cycle of criminality and stupidity. Soon, government is dominated by the criminals and the dumbs. Yes, what once Archibald Machleish said as the only "true revolution of today" is a failure. It did not deliver on its promises. And we have no choice but to move on towards a new paradigm of power.

Thomas Kuhn is right. There is no perfect paradigm. Pretty soon as a paradigm has settled in the people's hearts and minds, it exposes its weaknesses and flaws. And remedial measures to cure the defects lead only to more and more anomalies until the system collapses.

Democracy's most recent anomaly is George W. Rising as a political star using his dad's name and political connections, George W. also made his fortune as a crony capitalist with the help of self-dealing accountants -- who ironically gut busted during his term as President. Looking for fashionable things to do, Mr. George W., took in a group of rightists in his cabinet and threw the world at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, in the process lying very much about the justifications for the action and ignoring the United Nations completely. Apparently, he isn't just doing stupid things to the world, he is also fooling around with populist economic policies in his country plunging it into budgetary deficits unheard of in years. Now, everyone in the US is shaking their head. How can the world's most powerful nation elect a buffoon in office? No thanks to this lesson, they are now even contemplating the election of a polish body-builder actor who's movie lines never go beyond "I dunno, you dunno, we dunno." It is inevitable that this other buffoon will become governor and president one day. The masses are dumb. For so long as they vote, they will vote stupid people in office.

And this will be the well spring of the new paradigm. The inherent inability of the people to think and act to their best interest, the fundamental sickness of forgetfulness of what is good for them -- this will be cause of the new paradigm. What will be its shape and form? I do not have the slightest idea. But what I do know is democracy sucks. And we are all finding out about it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Can the Senate jail Ignacio Arroyo for refusing to answer questions regarding the Jose Pidal accounts?

Senator Angara points to a precedent in the 1950s in the case of Arnault v. Nazareno. See the decision here.

The question, however, is this: should Arnault v. Nazareno be upheld? In this age of the individual, can we afford to affirm the lack of power of the individual against the abusive transgressions of the police state? With all its resources and might, the Philippine State has become susceptible to abuse by politicians who care not for public service but cater solely to personal and crony interest. There is no doubt that the Jose Pidal expose is motivated by political interest -- vengeance, resentment, political leveraging, what have you, but definitely not for the public interest or in "aid of legislation". The State is imperfect. Should it have the power fit only for a perfect State?

Everybody appears to disgree with the invocation of this right in this particular case. Yet, imagine for a moment, that Mr. Arroyo is not the brother-in-law of the President. Imagine that he really did this to hide his wealth from kidnappers and a former wife. Take this case in isolation of the political reality. Is it really proper for the senators to feast on his bank transactions, especially when the man who started this conundrum is just leveraging the murder cases filed against him by the administration? Is it right for the senate to pry on anybody's bank account? Is it right for the State to meddle with anybody's finances -- be it in the multi-million sums or measly change. Do we all have to explain to the Philippine State why we have that much or that little in the bank?

The Philippine State -- with all its bureaucrats and politicians -- does not know how to handle power. It should not be given too much of it.

UPDATE: October 13, 2003

Senate Committee Chair upholds Ignacio Arroyo's right to privacy. Full story here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Note: We're starting a blog on the Philippine Elections of 2004. It can be accessed at What follows is our first entry.

PING LACSON EXPOSES: What's the point?

Yesterday, we found out more about the activities of the First Gentleman from Sen. Ping Lacson. No use repeating them here. Just follow this link for details. Of course, the effort to connect the scandal to the President is there but so far the President has been successful in distancing herself from the onslaught on her husband. Yet, at the end of the day, what will Sen. Ping Lacson achieve? How do these exposes turn into votes for Sen. Ping Lacson? After Ping has dished out everything on the First Gentleman, people are not necessarily going to vote for him. He doesn't have that cathartic angst, as it were, that Joker Arroyo (no relation to the President and the First Gentleman) had when Joker was running after then President Estrada -- the primary factor why it was easy to translate anti-Erap exposes into votes. But true or not, Sen. Lacson's allegations are sure to damage every bit of goodwill that the First Gentleman has built in the two and half years that Mrs. Arroyo was President.

The word from the Sen. Ping Lacson's camp is that all that he is afraid of is the revival of the Kuratong Baleleng case and other cases purportedly filed against him by the President's men. Some of the cases appear to be unbailable, thus the worst case scenario is that Sen. Lacson may have to campaign in jail. If you have cornered a guy who has the goods on you, you can no doubt expect a fight to the end. And this appears to be the point of this hoopla.

Here then are the scenarios we can expect:

Ping Wins

The President resigns or is removed from office. The Vice President takes over or a military junta assumes power. Parokya ni Edgar sings Kuratong Baleleng and that is all we remember about it.

Arroyo wins

The President survives the attacks and a warrant of arrest is issued against Sen. Lacson for the Kuratong Baleleng case. He goes into hiding or campaigns in a cell.

Win Win Solution

Ping stops and the Kuratong Baleleng cases are dropped or archived. We will have peace to dismay of the newspapers.

Nobody wins

Arroyo is forced to resign or not to run again. Ping goes to jail. And finally, justice triumphs in the end.

No doubt the circus called "Philippine Elections" has begun.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Dean Jorge Bocobo Rocks

I have been spying on his website for the past few months. Today, I found a real gem. I'd like to quote it here so I will remember it forever.

"In my opinion, the Supreme Court is infallible because it is never final. Judicial infallibility rests on perpetual corrigibility-the habit of self-correction based on new evidence and reflection, the same mental habit of redaction demanded by the scientific method. This is the metaphysics of the Law-it can never be unmated from the jealous truth. Or else, restless will roam and rage that sympathetic conscience and penetrating intelligence in the people, which survive mere Supreme Courts. "Nothing is settled until it is right." Justice Frederick Douglass says, "Nothing is final but justice, liberty and humanity." For all and from all, I say. "

See his complete article here.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Thursday, July 24, 2003

This Lawyer is a Jock

You know you haven't been exercising for a long time when you step into a sports shop, you look around and you're shocked by the price of rubber shoes. It's PHP 4,000 (about US$75) a pop for a new pair of Nike cross training. Goodness! The last pair I bought was a Grosby First Five for a then pricey PHP 500 (at PHP 20 to US$1 about US$20). But then I realized that was three Michael Jordan retirements ago. Rubberworld, maker of Grosby shoes and the lone Philippine shoe maker to brave the multinational dominance in the industry, has gone belly up. There are no more Philippine brand rubber shoes in the market and nothing sells below PHP 2,000 (US$38).

Nonetheless, my arthritis has given me no choice but to go back to my first love. A sharp pain on the right knee has reminded me of my mortality. It has been bugging me for days and no diversions of any sort can take my attention away from the sting. As a result, I've limped my way up and down city hall and have found myself in embarassing situations. Indeed, it can be quite uncomfortable when you drag your foot around and an old lady asks and you respond "Arthritis ho. Kayo rin ba may Arthritis?" ("Arthritis. Do you have Arthritis yourself?"). Indeed, my years of physical inactivity have started to collect their dues. My excuse: too much work in the office. Looking back, the most rigorous form of exercise I've had for the last twelve years was speeding through three flights of stairs to beat Judge Raul de Leon's 8:30 am rollcall to avoid getting fined.

Pain has a way of altering behavior. Thus, I decided to go back to the activities of my youth. Before law, politics and literature, there was basketball. Atoy Co was the icon of the age. I was a shooting guard, adept at doing no-look passes, behind-the-back dribbles and devil-may-care drives. I trained with the best street thugs of our district where most basketball games ended with a bonus boxing match. I took early morning jogs and played the hoops afternoons and evenings. I pumped iron and even used improvised weights wrapped around my legs to improve my jump.

Unfortunately, my basketball career took no longer than five minutes. During the San Beda High School try-outs for the Red Cubs in 1983, I took the honor of being the first to drive against the young and towering Benjie Paras. My lay-up got blocked so hard I thought the ball exploded. Benjie Paras would later become the highest paid professional basketball player in the Philippines and I, a bit shaken by the insult, would settle to being a highly-charging notary public.

Alas, the Benjie-Paras-block-shot-of-a-lifetime is not going to deter me from going back to my jock days -- not the memories, not the state of the shoe industry and most certainly not the pile of lawyerly work on my desk. With Yoyoy Villame's CD in the background --"mag-exercise tayo tuwing umaga, tuwing umaga, tuwing umaga.." -- I'm back to being a jock.

Friday, June 13, 2003


While doing the rounds on the Filipiniana section of National Bookstore today, I chanced upon Prof. Alan Paguia's booklet "Rule of Law or Rule of Force" which to my impression is an attempt to do a scholarly study on the legitimacy of the succession of President Arroyo. The booklet contains the materials on the case and is selling for PHP 75.00

Prof. Alan Paguia argues in his little booklet that the ouster of Erap which the Philippine Supreme Court ruled as valid in the case Estrada v. Arroyo is a triumph of the Rule of Force over the Rule of Law and exhorts the people to restore the Rule of Law, presumably, by bringing back Erap to power. He doesn't say this explicitly but that's the only way you can interpret the lines that go -- the people should decide blah blah blah.

Nice try. Good politics. Bad lawyering.

Doesn't our Constitution say that the Supreme Court is the supreme interpreter of the law of the land? I can still hear Fr. Bernas, S.J., one of ONLY two living experts in Constitutional Law the other being Justice V.V. Mendoza, lecturing that judicial power is the prerogative of the Supreme Court to decide rightly or wrongly over legal issues and still be right. What does that mean? It means that in our constitutional system of government whatever the Supreme Court says over a legal issue, be it logical and lucid decision or arbitrary word salad, is the last word on the matter. The rule of law compels us to obey what the Supreme Court says. That's why some years back when Prof. Alan Paguia lost a big case in the Supreme Court, he published an advertisement appealing to God Almighty to reverse the Supreme Court. In other words, if you lose a case in the Supreme Court, there is no place to appeal anymore but Heaven. If the Supreme Court says, for example, that lunatics can be lawyers, nobody can argue against that. Not the President. Not Congress. It's the law. Hell, we have many lawyer lunatics selling little booklets of their own.

It is the Supreme Court's interpretation that Arroyo's succession is legitimate. Erap resigned, albeit constructively. It is a ruling that will probably be remembered as one of the ugliest, if not the ugliest. But the Supreme Court Justices could have just written the lyrics of "Impossible Dream" to support the decision and Fr. Bernas would have said it's the exercise of judicial power -- rightly or wrongly -- it is right. That's the law. It's final. There is no appeal to a higher court. So how can the ruling of the Supreme Court be a triumph of the rule of force?

By exhorting the "people" to restore the Rule of Law, presumably, by doing another EDSA 3, Prof. Paguia is exhorting them to use the Rule of Force. So if the little booklet succeeds in persuading the people to "restore" the Rule of Law, it would be a triumph of the Rule of Force. That's why I am saying the little booklet is good politics but bad lawyering. It is really tricky. The best among us would have fallen for it too. I guess Prof. Alan Paguia has lost a little faith because today he is not appealing to God Almighty. Instead, he is appealing to the "people".

My late friend playwright Wilfrido Ma. Guerero used to say that the difference between art and propaganda is truth. Art, because it is grounded on the truth, lasts forever. Propaganda, because it is intended to support a single political persuasion, is forgotten as soon as a new order is established. The little booklet is nothing but propaganda masquerading as legal scholarship. It is a great disappointment to the people once they learn that they have just been duped into buying the center piece of Erap's press kit written by a man who goes around carrying the title "Ateneo Professor", as if he has the last word on the subject.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Introducing our Greatest Hits Page

In June 1991, the month I went to Ateneo Law School, I was dead sure I wanted to be a lawyer. But lawyering for me -- as it is now -- is always subservient to my pursuit of my passion for writing. No doubt, I've had many moments experiencing the power of the written word. What a feeling it is to find that truth lurks in legal opinions, court pleadings and legal briefs. But nothing can compare to the many "highs" I had blogging "La Vida Lawyer" for this site. My Best of Lawyerly Yours page is where I will keep these moments. There are little gems there that I treasure. I hope you find one you can like.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Blog Headers in Search of a Body

I'm a having a little difficulty writing a full essay lately. But let me list down some ideas that that's been brewing in the hope that they develop into art (nyah nyah):

The Frank Chavez on my list.

1. What no Frank Chavez in my Top Ten? I met the legendary trial lawyer yesterday and was quite impressed with his resolve. A client of mine has decided to secure his services to do the back-breaking trial work in a set of related cases (22 as of 1996) in which I serve as the chief pleading writer. Then, it occurred to me -- how can I miss him in my Top Ten? The truth is I never saw him in action before. I do remember him very well as the Solicitor General of Cory Aquino who successfully defended the government policy to pay creditors first before spending on education when the constitutionality of the policy was challenged before the Supreme Court. Recently, he pleaded the case of Fraport in the government case to annul the contract for the award of building the new airport. I hope to write about the man's antics when he enters the courtroom for these cases that have shaped my carreer in its early years.

Testing Supreme Court Logic on Computer Circuits

2. Speaking of the Fraport case, I really want to find the time to figure out the validity of the logic in that decision. My Logic teacher Fr. Tomas O'Shaughnnessy S.J., a ver pleasant Irishman, taught us how to test the validity of arguments using computer circuits.It was fun employing it on propagandists masquerading us know-it-all columnists back in college. I swear you could easily spot the non-sequiturs. The system was so simple then. If the logic was valid, the light bulb will light up. If not, it stays dead. If only I can recover my notes from way back then. But take a look at this argument from the Fraport Case decided by the Supreme Court: The winning bidder did not have money to bid on the project. Therefore, the award to the winning bidder is void. Sounds logical to me. Although I still can't understand why they were ruled as unqualified after they have already successfully completed the airport. I don't know how that will fit in Fr. O'Shaughnessy's logic computer circuits.

New Law for Small Enterpreneurs

3. I found a new law which exempts businesses with less than PHP 3 Million in assets (not counting the land and eqiuipment) from income taxes and the Minimum Wage Law. The law is called the Barangay Micro Business Enterprise Act of 2002 signed by the President on November 13, 2002. The law includes all business including professionals.What a boost for the small players like us.

Alan Paguia Strikes Again

4. Ateneo Professor Alan Paguia argues that Erap is still President. Years ago, Prof. Paguia published a full page ad in the nation's leading newspapers appealing to "God Almighty" to reverse a Supreme Court decision that extended the appeal period of fifteen (15) days in favor of an adverse party. Prof. Paguia is my new Man from La Mancha. I, however, wish that he spend his time on more relevant passions.

Solo Practice and Holidays

5. I used to love holidays. When I was an employee, holidays meant no work, but same pay. So I spent holidays doing stuff that I couldn't do because of my work. I went around the malls, bought books, watched movies, take pictures and surf the web. Now, that I am my employer, I'm beginning to hate holidays. Holidays mean less time to do work that pays. I can't go to hearings, so can't bill appearance fees. I can't meet up with clients to close deals, so I don't get commissions. I can't follow up bills of clinets. I can't ask assistants to do paperwork. The trouble is, deadlines don't admit holidays as excuses. So I end up working even harder on holidays. No mallings, no books, no movies, no pictures, no web.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

I may be one of the last few persons in the world to have seen"Chicago" the movie. Nonetheless, I take note of it here because it has given me a sort of rallying cry for my various court room predicaments.

Lawyer Billy Flyn, sings,

"Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?"

I have always maintained a court room emphasis on form and method. Substance -- it's either you have it or you don't. It takes care of itself. But form and method separates the mediocre from the great trial lawyers.The great trial lawyers have clear and entertaining ways of presenting their cases. They don't bore their audience. They work on the premise that it is all show business. They take care of the little details. Their words are precise. Their hand movements are coordinated. And because they are natural actors, they don't look like they're acting. That is why they win. So I am going to indulge a little here and post the lyrics of "Razzle Dazzle" just so I won't forget. I am a lawyer and I am in show business.

from the Movie "Chicago"

Mr. Flynn, his honor is here

Thank you. Just a moment.
You ready?

Oh Billy, I'm scared.

Roxie, you got nothing to worry about.
It's all a circus, kid. A three ring circus.
These trials- the wholeworld- all show business.
But kid, you're working with a star, the biggest!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they;ll never catch wise!

Give 'em the old

Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous

Row after row will crow vociferous

Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em

How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle
They'll never know you're just a bagel,

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more!

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle Dazzle 'em
Back since the days of old Methuselah
Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They let you get away with murder
Razzle dazzle 'em
And you've got a romance

Give 'em the old
Razzle Dazzle

Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em an act that's unassailable
They'll wait a year 'till you're available!

Give 'em the old
Double whammy

Daze and dizzy'em
Show 'em the first rate sorcerer you are

Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you got no talents?

Razzle dazzle 'em

Razzle dazzle 'em

Razzle dazzle 'em

And they'll make you a star!

Monday, April 07, 2003


Sun Tzu says,

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

In the film Philadelphia, the lawyer played by Denzel Washington had a unique way of asking his client to explain to him the case being brought to him for litigation. After a brief description of the problem, he would ask the client to repeat the story to him with a nice tag line, "Okay, now explain your story to me like a were a six year old."

Denzel's character emphasizes the importance of a thorough knowledge of the facts of the case from the point of view of the client. The lawyer should be able to draw out from the client all concepts, stories, emotions, motivations in the client's story in order for the lawyer to understand the complete picture. Otherwise, a missing fact here and there can lead to disaster in the courtroom.

Sun Tzu, however, further states that knowledge of the enemy is just as important as knowing yourself. If you only know yourself and not the enemy, then you will only mean half your battles.

My teacher of Statutory Construction, Jose Jesus Laurel, former SEC Commissioner and Dean of Lyceum School of Law, often taught us that the rules of statutory construction always marched in pairs. His best example is the rule, "Dura Lex Sed Lex" which means, " The law may be hard, but that is the law." The rule emphasizes the need for the strict obedience to the letter of the law. However, the rule has an anti-thesis in the rule which says "Ratio est legis anima; mutata legis ratione mutatur et lexatio" which means the “Reason is the soul of law; when that reason is changed, the law also changed." Thus, every time a lawyer throws me the "Dura Lex…" maxim, I throw him back the "Ratio Legis” edict and always, I know the show is not going to be over just yet. This bit of lawyerly wisdom has always kept me on my toes. For even if I know I have the best argument any lawyer can think of for my case, I know the other side can always throw back an opposing argument that can be equally as strong. It is important to know your arguments. But it is equally important to know the arguments of the other side. Sun Tzu suggests that research should always be done on both sides of the conflict to ensure complete victory.

Atty. J. J Laurel’s idea works well for legal arguments. But the law is just one side of the case. It is likewise important to know how the other side will present its case to the facts in issue. The importance of knowing the side of the enemy has been underscored by Sun Tzu’s treatment of a complete chapter on spies in the Art of War. This leads us to the point that when the facts of the case are critical to a case, it may well be of great value to hire detectives to help do research on the facts as viewed from the other side.

The matter of hiring detectives is often thought of in marital cases where evidence of adultery, for example, are presented in pictures of the respondent going inside a motel with the lover. However, detectives can also be of use in commercial litigation where a missing piece of a puzzle cannot be obtained but through vigorous intelligence work.

As an apprentice in a Makati law firm, I had a chance to handle a case involving a bank, which credited a dollar remittance to a couple in the amount of USD 100,000. Our client was the recipient bank and the crediting bank sued us because it turned out that the remittance was only for USD 1,000. The couple withdrew the amount from our bank and ran away with the money. The only issue was which bank should bear the cost of the mistake. As if to complicate things for our client, it had lost its copy of the wire transfer indicating the amount and the. bank officer handling the account killed himself before the whole thing became a major banking scandal. The partner handling the case thus hired a detective who for days rummaged through trash of the other bank and discovered to our amusement a photocopy of the wire transfer instructions to our bank for USD 100,000. The photocopy was then used as basis for a subpoena to obtain the original from the bank. Our client won the case with the Regional Trial Court and the principal basis of the appeal of the other side was whether the subpoena was issued properly.

Maintaining knowledge of the story and of the evidence of the case is habit that pays well to cultivate. As a young lawyer, I was once asked to file a Motion for the Lifting of a Hold Departure Order against a client accused of Estafa. The client once had his cancer treated in the United States, which necessitated an annual check up. Thus, he needed to leave which can only be allowed with the Court's permission. The judge required that I present a Filipino doctor to testify that the check up should be done abroad. Our client had a difficult time obtaining an appointment with his doctor, so I asked him to answer questions writing. I later converted the response into an affidavit form and asked my client to have the doctor sign it before filing the same with the court before the hearing.

The doctor arrived just before the case was to be called. As everything was reduced to the affidavit, I asked him to prepare for cross-examination, which I surmised would be a breeze considering that he was a doctor about to testify on a medical matter of his expertise. But to my shock, just as the case was called, the doctor said, "We have a problem. It was my son who signed this affidavit."

Thinking as I rose from my seat, I decided not to have the witness identify the affidavit as a basis for the testimony. Instead, I conducted a complete direct examination using only the affidavit as a guide. I thought we were successful in presenting the case. Unfortunately, the cross-examination lingered on the affidavit and then he was asked the question that I was hoping would not be asked. "Did you sign this affidavit?" The doctor had to tell the truth and my motion was denied. It was my most embarrassing day as a lawyer.

Until the present, I keep thinking that if only I had met this doctor even for ten minutes, the disaster could not have happened. I should have interviewed the witness myself. I should have asked the witness if he was the one who signed the affidavit. I should have known a lot of things. Indeed, the very essence of preparation in litigation is knowing the facts and the law from all sides.

Saturday, March 22, 2003


The UN Charter sanctions only one kind of war: defensive war. But there is nothing which can support Bush's and Blair's thesis that this Iraqi invasion is a defensive action. As far as I can remember, when we say "defense", it means someone is on the offense. Does anyone see Saddam or Iraqis doing any "offense"? In basketball, when we say defense, it means the other team has the ball and it is going to shoot into your goal. Defense means you have to block the shot. Does anybody see Saddam even dribbling a ball? George W. Bush has thrown away all formal constraints for starting a war. No need for Congress to declare war. No need for UN resolutions. No need for the Security Council to approve.Too bad, Tony Blair's oratorical skills are being wasted in this endeavor. I shudder in the thought that these two have an ex-deal of some sorts for going into this war.

The last time the US did something like this, they got sued in the International Court of Justice. The case is a landmark decision in Public International Law, entitled "Nicaragua vs. US." Briefly, it is about the US government's logistical support to the rebels of the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua. Nicaragua claims that the US was engaging in an offensive war against Nicaragua by supporting the rebels. The ICJ said "guilty." The UN General Assembly affirmed the verdict. But no award was ever given in favor of Nicaragua and the US insisted on its lawyerly defense that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction over the case. Many years hence, "Nicaragua vs. US" is just a textbook case and the US is at it again. And the US claims it is defending democracy, yeah right.

I really wish Al Gore won that election. Too bad, he has to settle for that board seat in Apple while this George Bush is acting dictator of the world who finally found something to do.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

(work in progress)

In one of his engaging torts and damages classes, aviation lawyer, Jose Claro Tesoro once remarked that the only time that he will be handicapped to work is when he becomes insane. A lawyer can be blind, deaf, mute, and dumb, but so long as he can think, he can work. Lawyering is a thinking man's profession.

Thinking precedes any lawyerly action for any work brought to his desk. Time, effort and resources will only be put to waste if action precedes thinking. Errors abound in unplanned actions. Thus, thinking occupies ninety percent (90%) of the lawyer's time. The rest are spent reading, writing and speaking -- activities that can be delegated to somebody else after content and strategy have been developed.

Lawyerly thinking requires more than a mastery of the law. Even if one has mastered the Rules of Civil Procedure, it doesn't necessarily mean he can win a case. Mastery of the rules of chess is not mastery of the game of chess. The study of the law teaches the lawyer how to file and litigate a case. But it doesn't teach him how to win. How does one therefore become a master of the game of law?

To study litigation beyond the rules but in respect of strategy and technique is the beginning of lawyerly success. Sadly, there is no textbook for strategy available for today's lawyer. There are specific treatises on cross-examination, legal writing, and argumentation, but these only address particular tools of the profession. None provides global insights into lawyerly advocacy.

If war is a metaphor for conflict, then Sun Tzu's "Art of War" provides the best insights on strategy for any conflict, be it a game or profession. As a military text, Sun Tzu's "Art of War" provides a paradigm for warfare that has not been overthrown in its 2.400 years of existence. When read in the context of legal conflict, "Art of War" is a gold mine of ideas, which can be readily applied. Let us therefore read "Art of War" and relate its context to the lawyer and hopefully elevate our standards in the game and profession of litigation.

17. All warfare is based on deception."

Litigation is warfare. When two people sue each other, they don't sue to make love. They sue to defend their interest and destroy the interest of the other. The classic situation in any litigation is that of one party complaining and the other responding to the complaint. The judge is there to see if the complaint is valid and if the response is deficient to determine which among the parties should pay. It is a battle of wits.Words are the bullets.

If the goal is to win the war, truth should be thrown out of the window. Deception is the strategy: Deception within the bounds of the law. The law prohibits false statements in court. But the law doesn't prohibit incomplete statements. The law allows selective emphasis. The law allows silence. If a lawyer were to win a case, he should emphasize his strenghts and be silent on his weaknesses. These are all elements of persuasion, essentially deceptive, but within the bounds of the law. The truth is for the court to decide.Thus, the master of deception is the master of litigation.

"Waging War

3. Victory is the main object of war. If this is long delayed, weapons are blunted and morale depressed. When troops attack cities, their strenghts will be exhausted.

4.When the army engages in protracted campaigns, the resources of the state will not suffice.

5. When your weapons are dulled and ardour dumped, your strenght exhausted and treasure spent, neighboring rulers will take advantage of your distress to act. And even though you have consellors, none will be able to lay good plans for the future.

6. Thus, while we have heard of blundering swiftness in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged.

There is no point in engaging in a long protracted litigation. Litigation is expensive. It costs a lot of time and money. The Rules of Procedure favor delay. Thus, when commencing a suit, the lawyer should design it to achieve its objectives in the shortest possible time and with the least expense to the client. Most Filipino lawyers are not conscious about this principle and clients can hardly be expected to know better. Filipino lawyers think cases are cash cows. Thus. cases move in circles and take long to finish. As a result, litigants lose a lot of time and money and eventually lose trust in the system.

The easiest way out of a case is to compromise. A bad compromise at the beginnning of the case is often better than a winning decision 10 years later. Thus, a good lawyer will design his case to achieve the best compromise at the earliest possible time.

(More to follow)

Sunday, February 23, 2003


I recently watched Changing Lanes, a suspense thriller starring Samuel Jackson and Ben Affleck. The film's premise revolves around one morning when lawyer Ben Affleck meets a traffic accident with beleagured litigant Samuel Jackson. As a result of the incident, Asfleck inadvertently leaves a very important document with Samuel whom Affleck leaves to be in ocurt on time. Of course, Samuel was too late for his hearing. As a result, the judge hearing his family case allows his ex-wife and kids to move to another state where parental visits are impossible.The two play a little war as Affleck tries to recover the document with all his lawyerly wit and connections and Samuel tries to get even and make Affleck's life misearble by being a little murderous like removing the screws in the front tires of Affleck's BMW.

The film attempts to bring the premise to the ethical level when it is later revealed that the document appears to have been signed by a rich old man on his death bed under the influence of Affleck. The document also happens to turn over the control of multi-million dollar foundation to Affleck's bosses. So Affleck's partners suggest that the document be re-printed and the old man's signature for another document be used instead. Affleck bulks. The moral dilemna is now whether Mr. Affleck should present a forged document in court as he appears to be losing his little war with Samuel. Mr. Senior Partner gives him a little speech that it is okay to do it because in the end he does more good than bad. Of course, Affleck decides too late as the Senior Partner submits the forged document anyway without Affleck knowing it.

After watching this film, I was disturbed by this message: It is okay to do bad as long as in the end you do more good. All of a sudden, ethics has become a question of quantity; plus or minus, credit or debit, or withdrawal or deposit. This proposition, of course,
presents a world view that morality is a numbers game and ignores that fact that morality is always grounded on higher values. Nobody can play math with faith, love and hope. How would you like to tell your wife that since you only cheated her for one year and you've been faithful for four years, ultimately you love her more? Isn't the question really whether you love her or you don't? Are you good or are you evil? If you choose good, you don't choose anything else. There is a fundamental option to do good.

Changing Lanes is a well-made film. Unfortunately, people who are longing for spiritual nourishment will get a little doze of poison here.

Monday, January 13, 2003


In my seven years in the profession, I have seen hundreds of lawyers in action. I saw them negotiating, writing, appearing in court, pleading with authority, and doing everything they can to help their clients get out of bad situations. I have come to the conclusion that good lawyering is a matter of having good lawyer habits. The lawyers with the best instincts, and consequently the one who can best deliver legal service, are the ones with the best habits. They are the lawyers who have made excellence a habit of mind. They are very careful with their clients' interests and very creative. They can compete with the best lawyers of the world. I kept a tab all these years. If you are a lawyer and you are not here, it's either I haven't met you or you still haven't made the grade. Here is my Top Ten.


Francisco Ed. Lim

He pitched in for one week in my Evidence class and ran the classes like it were a military drill. We were expected to think on our feet, remember the fine points of the cases and laws, and speak out clearly. But I was more impressed when we worked with him in the multi-billion peso merger of PLDT and Smart. Precision of thought, clarity in language, a strong conviction for his advocacy -- he exhibited them all. A partner in the fabled ACCRA Law, he also runs a regular column on law in a national newspaper. His expertise appears to be corporate disputes.


Nicanor Gatmaitan

This lawyer has a client who owed my client millions. He filed a case against us and prevented us from foreclosing on his clients' property. During the trial, he seamlessly made a clear presentation of his client's case, that I myself was convinced that he had case. He had no notes and he memorized each detail of our piles of documentary evidence. I spent sleepless nights on this man, thinking just how to get my client out of this fix. Now that I've given up the case, I say hats off to this man. He has a very good reputation as a trial lawyer. By the way, he is blind.


Saklolo Leano

He is considered as one of the few experts in aviation law and is constantly battling the world's best lawyers in this field. I had the privilege of working with him in the multi-billion peso construction arbitration case against a French contractor and would forever be in awe of this great lawyer. Sak was our hitman against the French's expert witness, a lawyer-engineer with very impressive academic and professional credentials. Sak cross-examined the expert witness like a cook peeling off the skin of an onion. He was subtle, precise, organized, logical and persuasive. The French tried his best to live up to his client's expectations but he was no match. At one high point of the cross-examination, Sak, with his pleasant and clear voice told the witness, "Mr. Smith, I am very sorry to say this but you do not have the slightest respect for the Philippine courts." We won PHP 700 million in that case.



Long before the nation witnessed the prowess of this lawyer during the direct examination of the prosecution's star witness in the Erap Impeachment trial, Mario Bautista's good reputation as a litigation lawyer has been well known among business circles in the Philippines. His law firm Poblador Bautista & Reyes is the counsel of choice of the Ayalas, the Philippines most successful and enduring business empire, and many other big companies in the Philippines. In the late nineties when a group of foreign banks was contemplating on filing a class suit against SGV, the biggest accounting firm in the Philippines formerly affiliated with Andersen Consulting, Mr. Bautista was the counsel for SGV. Thus, it came as no surprise then that Mr. Bautista was given the rare privilege of presenting the most important witness in the impeachment trial before a nation in denial. In spite of the lack of time to prepare, Mr. Bautista litigation instinct served him well. Mr. Bautista weathered every objection that the prosecution raised and made a clear and convincing story.



Atty. Del Castillo is the perfect marriage of lawyerly form and substance. An expert in libel, he is the defender of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the nation's most widely circulated newspaper, in all its libel cases. Mr. Del Castillo goes to trial in great looking suits, speaks in deep baritone and is always prepared. I saw him in action in defense of Hilarion Henares, the nation's favorite columnist, against a powerful lawyer businessman, whom Mr. Henares called "a monkey of foreign interests" and "small dick Romulo". Atty. del Castillo's defense was that the description is not a personal attack but a political statement against imperialism in the Philippines. Mr. Henares also called Mr. Romulo "small dick" because he is a short guy and his nickname happens to be Dick. Alas, Mr. Henares was acquitted.



Here I should make a disclaimer. I worked for this great laywer practically my entire professional life. However, I believe this also makes my assessment credible. Atty. Picazo is the investment banking and corporate lawyer of choice of all major investment and commercial banks in the Philippines. In the days of Bancom, reportedly the first investmnet bank in the Philippines, Atty. Picazo served as senior legal counsel. After the break-up of Bancom, he subsequently headed the legal department of Unionbank and thereafter, co-founded the legendary PECABAR LAW OFFICE, together with Johnny Ponce Enrile, Renato Cayetano and Antonio Bautista. In 1987, Atty. Picazo bolted from PECABAR and founded Bautista Picazo Buyco Tan & Fider (later Atty. Bautista will build his own firm). As the managing partner of Picazolaw, he led the legal team that helped Metro Pacific purchase Fort Bonifacio, a prime real estate land in the heart of Metro Manila. The deal was worth billions of pesos and was considered the deal of the century. During the height of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) days of the Philippine Stock Market, 10 out of 15 IPO's in a year were handled by Atty. Picazo's Law Office. Atty. Picazo's good work habits, vast experience in corporate and banking law, and legal brilliance is unquestionable that rightfully earns him a place in my Top Ten.



The last big case that this great lawyer handled was the phenomenal indictment of Hubert Webb, a senator's son, in the trials involving the killing of a mother and her daughters, a teen-ager and a four-year old. Mr. Ongkiko had presented a perfect alibi -- Hubert Webb was in the United States when the killing took place. He was able to support the alibi with tons of evidence, pictures, video clips, receipts, passport stamps, and the like. The judge, however, looked at this evidence with suspicion that the senator could have had a hand in their spurious prodution. The case is now on appeal and observers believe that Mr. Ongkiko will score an upset when the case is reviewed by the higher courts. Mr. Ongkiko always taught his lawyers the maxim "assume that you will lose." Thus, his trial technique is always cautious and very careful with what goes into the record. His presentatiom is very thorough and his trial and argumentation skills beyond compare. He is hands down the best trial lawyer there is in the Philippines today.



The above lawyers belong to the most powerful law firm in the Philippines today. Individually, they can land on any one's top ten, but together, the three lawyers are best known for building a formidable private legal institution which easily puts them on a three way tie for number 3. The group's star first shone after Mr. Carpio got appointed as presidential legal counsel by Pres. Fidel V. Ramos. Villaraza and Cruz were left to mind the Firm as Tony Carpio led business to the Firm's door. In the six years that Mr. Ramos was president, Villaraza and Cruz handled many intricate and complicated legal projects. Being brilliant minds in their own right, coupled with a bevy of young and agressive associates, most of which graduated with honors from the nation's top law schools, at their disposal, Carpio Villaraza and Cruz met the challenge of being at the prime spot of the Philippine legal world. Upon the election of Joseph Estrada, the three re-gouped and re-emerged in the impeachment proceedings with their most seasoned litigator, Simeon Marcelo, leading the attack as he conducted the direct examination of the whistle blower and star witness Ilocos Governor Luis Singson. Now, in the era of Pres. Gloria Macapagal, Tony Carpio sits as the youngest member of the Supreme Court and is certain to outlive everyone in the 15-man court and to become Chief Justice one day. Avelino Cruz is the Chief Legal Counsel of the President. Simeon Marcelo is serving seven years as Ombudsman. Only Francisco Villaraza is left to hold the fort. But having a key person in the most powerful offices of the Philippines, the Firm can dare say that it can solve any legal problem endorsed to it for appropriate action.



I have always maintained that lawyers are like guns. Some guns you use for keeping your house protected. Some guns you use for big battles.In this regard, Atty. Cresicini is a bazooka.He is a veteran slugger of the court room. No flashes. No frills. Just pure legal brilliance and hard work. The fighter of hopeless causes, his most famous client is Congressman Jalosjos, the congressman who had sex with an 11 year old girl and was convicted of statutory rape. That case was tough and only Atty. Crescini had the guts to fight it out to the end. Nowadays, Atty. Crescini is the trial lawyer of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada. If Erap didn't stand a chance with his former lawyers, Atty. Crescini might just be Erap's beacon of hope. Atty. Crescini has mastered the science of of litigation, the elements of style, and the winning ways. His trial technique can be compared to Clarence Darrow. Hands down, he is the Philippines's number 2 best lawyer.



It is a testament to this lawyer's great abilities that it has been 17 years since the Marcoses were thrown out of power and the Philippine Government, with all its resources, consultants and thousands of lawyers, has yet to win a single conviction against any of the members Marcos family or cronies.His grasp of Philippine law in most areas of practice is deep, considering that he served for many years as Pres.Marcos's chief lawyer. As Pres. Joseph Estrada's impeachment lawyer, he showed very fine lawyerly habits under the most extreme pressure ever imaginable. It is also a testament to his abilites that most of his law clerks are now members of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or are occupying chief offices in the Philippine Government. In normal trials, Atty. Mendoza's presence can best be described as electric and bring people to the gallery as if trials were a boxing match. It is no wonder that Atty. Mendoza handles only the most important cases of the most important personalities in the Philippines today.


Check out The list they have of the leading practitioners in the Philippines are expanded. Some of my Top Ten not are there. They missed Nicanor Gatmaytan, Carpio, Villraza and Cruz and Prospero Crescini. But I maintain them here.

Also, the liigation group of my former law firm PICAZO BUYCO TAN FIDER & SANTOS landed on the top of Property and Construction practice areas (after all these years) and even made it to the list of Dispute Resolution practice area (after being ignored for a long time). The principal reason is the big construction arbitration case we handled last year for a property giant. Well, that's cool.

Legal500 also cited several of the partners of the firm for their excellent work such as Purisimo Buyco for dispute resolution, Alex Erlito Fider for Telecommunications, Gemma Santos for mergers and acquisition, Estrellita Gacutan for banking and Cynthia Literegalde de la Paz for capital markets. Actually, if they had investigated further, they would have realized that the other partners of the firm also deserved a spot in each of the practice areas. If I were to add a second list of Top Ten if will be filled up by partners from PICAZO. But then again, people will probably think I'm not being objective.