My teachers at the Ateneo School of Law used to tell us stories of how their teacher, former Secretary of Justice Hernando "Nani" Perez, made their Negotiable Instruments Law class exciting. He made his students sing the provisions of the Negotiable Insturments Law, undoubtedy the most boring law in any jurisdiction, to the tune of "Lupang Hinirang". I am quite uncertain whether the story is true, but I've heard the story many times, and what it conjured in my mind was that Nani Perez had originality as a law professor.
During the impeachment trial of Erap Estrada, I watched Nani Perez conduct the direct examination of star witness Edgardo Espiritu who testified on Erap's friendship with the smugglers. I have always told my students and my associates that you can tell whether a lawyer is good by the way he conducts a direct examination. In the hands of master of direct examination, anyone who has a testimony can have a compelling testimony. When I saw Nani Perez and his direct examination of Secretary Espiritu, I knew immediately that Nani was a master. The phrasing and chronology of the questions, the manner of questioning, and the inflections in the tone of the his voice, he played them all well, and the result was a superb work I don't normally see in the courtroom. Thus, when the impeachment trial came to an abrupt end with the prosecutors walking out, I was disheartened that the good work of the prosecutors have gone to waste. No one would really know who won that Erap Impeachment case.
Subsequent events led to Erap eventually getting removed from office. Nani Perez would figure in the picture as one of the negotiators of the Gloria Macapagal camp. I heard him on TV saying how he tried to convince then Sec. Edgardo Angara for Erap to leave Malacanang peacefully because the hotheads among the people in EDSA could no longer be kept from storming the Palace where Erap was holed up.
When Gloria assumed office, and appointed Nani Perez as Secretary of Justice, I thought the it was a wise decision. Nani, with his reputation and good showing during the immpeachment of Erap, was a perfect match for the Department of Justice. He gave the office prestige and credibility.
Yet, now with the headlines screaming that the Ombudsman have found enough evidence to indict Nani Perez in court for a U$2 Million extortion case against Mark Gimenez, complete with bank documents, dummies and all, the whole thing appears to be a farce.
The worst part is the incident happened barely a month after EDSA DOS. Thus, it's no longer just about Nani Perez, Secretary of Justice-turned Accused, but the entire EDSA DOS episode in the history of this country. Nani's indictment shatters whatever is left of the myth that the people who replaced the scandal-ridden Presidency of Erap Estrada were the good guys.
I'm shaking my head as I type this entry. It can't be true. Say it isn't so Mr. Nani Perez. Say it isn't so.
It's always a sad day when myths are shattered.
But on second thought, at least, when we tell our grandchildren about the history of EDSA DOS, we could say it compares well with a John Le Carre thriller.
Happy New Year to all!