Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Is Justice Sandoval telling us something?

Sun Tzu says,

Those who are skilled in warfare will always bring the enemy where they want to fight and are not brought there by the enemy.

There is a joke among Filipino lawyers that to win a case, you don't need to know the law, you only need to know the judge. So if you apply Sun Tzu in trial practice, the first principle is to bring the case to a judge who will make you win. And if the other side brings it to its judge, find a way to convert the judge or try to get the judge to resign.

Today, the Establishment carries the story of the resignation of Sandiganyan Justice Edilberto Sandoval, who is part of the special division trying former President Erap Estrada. It appears that Justice Sandoval is the only justice who dissented from the controverial rulings of the Court, which rulings granted Estrada special concessions while in jail, including the grant for a trip to Hongkong for a knee operation. Officially, Justice Sandoval cited health reasons for his resignation, but unofficially, the Establishment says it's because of the "flip-flopping of (his) colleagues".

I'm trying to read between the lines. Is he saying that he could not trust his colleagues anymore, and that he wouldn't want to continue lending his name to this process? Is he saying that the three-man special body is already Estrada's battleground? Is he saying that this three-man special body is disposed on letting Erap free?

Or is he saying that the division is doing its job well and that they should carry on with what they're doing -- he he he like one plus one equals three.

Well, the law is the law but Sun Tzu rules.

UPDATE: 1-12-05

The Establishment reports that the Supreme Court has rejected the resignation of Justice Sandoval, citing the fact that Sandoval did not adequately show that his medical condition will prevent him from pursuing his role as member of the special division. The story is found here.

UPDATE 1-13-05

Erap is coming home on Saturday to, ehem, lead the opposition. The story is found here. He is unfazed by threats to sanction him for violating his "hospital arrest" while in Hongkong. Ha ha ha what can they do, jail him?

UPDATE 1-14-05

Justice Sandoval said he will comply with the Supreme Court resolution rejecting his resignation from the Sandiganbayan Special Division. He also said he will submit proof that he is suffering from vertigo and asthma. Full story here. Just imagine how these justices will act when they huddle back in the chambers. I wonder what Justice Sandoval is thinking. Does he have regrets for starting this whole thing? And the fellow justices (frankly, I don't remember their names) what are they thinking?

Justice Sandoval could pretend that nothing happened, and go about his business as usual, or he could call the whole thing off and give up his robes for good. This is what I call the Sun Tzu moment, akin to that precise moment when the archer has stretched the bow to its maximum potential. The aim is good. He should release the arrow now to hit its target. If Justice Sandoval wants a lasting place in history, he should know what to do now. If he bungles it or tarries too long, he will become another Erap joke.

Think Legolas.


rolly said...

If Justice Sandoval resigned because of defeat, that's not good for the country. But then, medyo sanay na yata tayo with the justice system.

marvin said...

Really, the Estrada case is all about power more than justice. The way he was booted out, the events leading to his arrest, and his incarceration -- pure politics. The legal system was used -- or is it abused? -- to justify some people's political action. As with all the Marcos cases filed after 1986 of which nothing substantial has happened -- when I say substantial, I mean somebody going to jail -- I have given up hope on the Estrada case. Moreso, with the looming political comeback of the Estrada family -- Senators Loi and Jinggoy are just a few breathes from the Presidency -- we are certain that the tables will be turned on the Arroyos, sooner or later.

Interesting times we live in.

rolly said...

You seem to have forgotten the Marcoses. More than anybody else, they have a take on the crown, so to speak. Bongbong and Imee will soon be a major player. Let's not talk about Imelda anymore although she still has some following.

Interesting times, indeed.

bayibhyap said...

Even as we read this post and write our comments, I am sure a lot of political drama is being planned from Manila to Hong Kong. Indeed, as Marvin says, we live in interesting times. Erap cannot be flaunting his "freedom" if he is not powerful enough. Perhaps one day we will get to know whether Justice Sandoval had resigned out of frustration or whether he did so to bring the attention of the country to the impossible conditions within the Sandiganbayan that kept giving Erap seemingly impossible concessions and leeway. Each new concession appeared to break new grounds.

So far I see Erap winning the war. His camp practices Sun Tzu's principles well. Let's see how this drama is going to unfold later. It's getting very interesting indeed.

bayibhyap said...

You are really good at relating the events to Sun Tzu's principles, Marvin. Your analogies are excellent to the point of being picturesque. I fully agree with your interpretations, both about Erap and about Justice Sandoval. You know, you should seriously think about giving a business seminar on Sun Tzu's Art of War in the business and political context. It's done in Malaysia and the speakers rake in the mollah!! :)

marvin said...

Thanks Bahibyap. I actually lectured on political campaign strategies and Sun Tzu last year before the elections. The response was good.

bayibhyap said...

"bayi" would do, marvin, for ease of addressing. that's what everyone calls me.

in malaysia, we have people specialising in the art of war strategies and making a living out of it. why don't you write a book on it?

Major Tom said...

I believe the Supreme Court should let Justice Sandoval go upon the principle of prior notice and apparent prejudice. Judges are supposed to abastain themselves from cases that are familiar to them either by having a relative involved or by having had prior knowledge about the facts thereof.

Along this line, it must be apparent that Justice Sandoval has already shown some leanings or inhibitions about the case that he wouldn't be able to absolutely maintain his objectiveness when the time to resolve the case must finally come.

Rejecting resignations is somehow a standard procedure in many organizations, especially in government, as a means of cordiality and politeness. But whenever a judge resigns himself, either from the service or from a certain case or cases, the resignation or inhibition must be accepted most of the time for to reaccept him would mean the acceptance of the absence of absolute objectiveness that is required of every judge in this part of town.

Jet said...

Why? Why can't we seem to rid ourselves of Estrada? Why do we seem to keep playing by his rules? I just don't understand! It's just gotten so tiresome.

marvin said...

Cool it Jet. Erap and his myth will be around for sometime. But like the Marcos myth, it will slowly fade away and leave us in peace.