Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ritual of the Word

(On the occasion of the blessing of APVLAW’s new office at the 31st F Atlanta Center 31 Annapolis St. Greenhills, San Juan)

When the partners and I went up this building in August this year, this place was a bare shell. No walls, no ceilings, no lights, but we had a spectacular view of the sun, sea and sky. Right there and then, we made a decision: APVLAW will hold office in this place.

At that time, the partners, Noel Punzalan, Steve Vehemente, Sonny Avila, Boyet del Prado and I did not know how and where to get the resources to build on this place. But we said the word, here, in this place, we will build our office. And God made the events conspire to make this day happen.

On the birthday of Mother Mary, September 8, 2008, APVLAW assisted our friends, who helped us get started way back in 2003 when APVLAW was just Aceron Law Office, JBY and JAB, in what is perhaps the biggest settlement in Philippine f-------- history. And may I say, we did not even have to send a demand letter to get what we wanted.

Of course, it was not enough. In October, I was contemplating on calling off the construction, but then our friends who supported us as far back as 2006, when APVLAW was Guerrero and Aceron Law Office, DNT and RGM, came to our rescue with a check and helped us complete the office.

And for that, we are forever indebted to these friends, JBY, JAB. DNT, RGM as well as our other friends who have been with us all these years. Thank you for your support. I always say we designed this office around the conference room to ensure that our friends and clients will always get the best view and the best seat.

I would like to mention, our partner in charge of physical plant, Steve Vehemente who took his title seriously and took a leave of absence from law practice for eight weeks to oversee the planning and building of this beautiful place. Thank you very much Steve, our work is not complete, but so far this has been excellent.

Today, December 18, 2008, marks the partial fulfillment of the words that the partners of APVLAW made in August this year. We said the word that here in this place we will build our new office and today we are now here. On behalf of the partners, let me now express what we want to do now that we’re here, and the task is at hand for us to complete.

Here, in this place, overlooking the sun, sea, and sky, we will keep the house of truth, justice, and love.

Here, in this place, facing the city that Quezon built, we will keep the brotherhood and honor among men.

Dito, sa bayan ng San Juan, pook ng Pinaglabanan, duyan ng magigiting na bayani, ipagtatanggol namin ang mga karapatan at papandayin ang kasaysayan ng bagong Pilipinas.

Here, in this place, beneath the moon and the stars, we will reach and renew our dreams, bring prosperity to our families, friends, our nation, and the world.

Here, in this place, underneath the great mountains and the clouds, we will bring glory to our families, glory to our nation, and glory to God.

December 18, 2008
Third Thursday of Advent

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Truth Behind the the "Tell the Truth" Incident at the Senate

Sometime on November 9, 2008, I dropped by for lunch at the Department of Agriculture ("DA") to greet Secretary Arthur C. Yap a "Happy Birthday". Art, is known to his stakeholders at the DA as "SACY" and known to me and my employees as "ACY". We have been working together on various capacities many years before he became Secretary of Agriculture. He has been a good friend. In November this year on his birthday, he told me to help out the Regional Directors of the DA, as JocJoc Bolante has arrived and the Senate is bound to call them for the continuation of the Fertilizer Scam Investigation.

Art's request was simple, "Retain lawyers to help the directors." Fee arrangements could be discussed but should not be an obstacle. I told him I was ready to help.

The directors present on that occasion asked me only one question, "Are you Bolante's lawyer too?" My response is of course, "No." We exchanged phone numbers and promised to call each other before the Senate investigation.

Thereafter, weeks before the Senate hearing, I signed up Atty. Gabby Enriquez, a veteran lawyer and my law partner, Atty. Sonny Avila, former Dean of Araullo Uoversity School of Law. Both worked together at Manalo Puno Law office and were members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. They didn't ask about fees. When I mentioned the nature of the engagement, they said they were in, without asking for anything.

We didn't know how the Senate investigation would end up, but the clear strategy was make the directors comfortable and let them come up with the truth. The speculation was the directors were going to be involved in a cover-up. That is a stupid thing to do because the Commission on Audit (COA) had all the goods on Bolante and all the participants in this affair. Any attempt to cover up will only end up in a charge for "Perjury" or "Falsification".

During the Senate hearing, Senators Chiz Escudero, Alan Cayetano and Dick Gordon ganged up on Director Ric Oblena midway in the hearing. "Who ordered the change of the fund allocation for Kalibo, Aklan to an NGO?".

The manner of questioning was atrocious! It's the modern day Grand Inquisition with the Senators acting both as judge and inquisitor. In between questions, the Senators interjected threats, wisecracks, and other bullying tactics. The lawyers were helpless.

If this were a court hearing, I would have stood up to object, they were badgering the witness. But that was prohibited by the Senate rules. Then I looked at Dir. Oblena and wondered, the question appeared to be harmless. Why was he having a hard time?

I told Gabby to slip a note to remind Dir. Oblena it was pointless to withhold things. At first, Gabby didn't want to. I told him just do it. So Gabby took his business card and borrowed a pen from Dir. Roger Chio who was sitting in front. Gabby looked at me and I told him , "Tell the truth." On cue, Gabby scribbled the note, stood up, and gave it to Dir. Oblena.

Senator Gordon saw what happened and got irritated, a bit over-acting I suppose. He asked Gabby who he was. Who engaged him? He pointed to Sonny. We weren't prepared that our presence would be questioned, so I told Sonny to call me. I stood up and introduced myself.

Sen. Gordon asked who I worked for, "I'm a consultant of Secretary Yap."

"Who is paying you?"

"Nobody." I was thinking the Directors should be paying me, but I'm not billing them. But the truth is I don't care.

"That's weird" he said.

I told Senator Gordon, "I am from Ateneo, sir." He said he didn't care if I was from La Salle.

"Well, I mentioned that sir because it matters to me. My school taught me that money is not the be all and end all of my being a lawyer."

At this point, Senator Gordon said something like, "I will deal with you guys later. Let's see what's in the note."

Dir. Oblena, read the note -- a little increase in the pitch in his voice helped put some drama in the scene -- "Tell the truth."

"That's amazing!" Mister Senator Grand Inquisitor Gordon had nothing else to say.

At the end of the session, ABS-CBN gave a sinister slant to the incident by saying that Jocjoc Bolante were being primed up by the directors. "Nilalaglag na raw si Bolante." Sen. Pia Cayetano, who wasn't even there, said the directors were being told to do so in order to protect higher officials of the DA.

Another story is that at flip side of the card were the words, "Do not..." That one made me laugh.

I don't care what you guys say. But for the record, this is the true story behind the "Tell the Truth" incident.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Court of Appeqals Controversy No. 11: Second day of hearing

The inquirer reporta on the proceedings of the second day of hearing by the investigating panel on the CA controversy. Click here.

La Vida Lawyer notes these highlights:

Answering a series of questions from Callejo, she said she signed the copies of a supposedly final decision on the Meralco case that Roxas had brought to her office on July 8 even without deliberations being conducted on it. She said it was the usual practice in many divisions.

Callejo reminded her that was contrary to court rules.

Vidal justified her decision to sign, saying that she believed Roxas when he said it was “a matter of urgency.”

But when Callejo asked what the urgency was about, Vidal replied she did not ask Roxas. She later added that it was “for Justice Roxas to answer,” eliciting laughter from the audience. Callejo was not amused.

“Do not just rely on the word of our colleagues; you must conduct your own research and study so that we can serve the people judiciously. Otherwise you’ll only be a robot,” Callejo said.


Callejo also asked why Vidal signed the copy even if a pending motion for Roxas to inhibit himself remained unresolved.

“It was improper for the court to proceed with the hearing without Justice Roxas resolving the motion,” he said.

Vidal replied that she brought the decision home, studied it and did her own research. She said she agreed with its contents. She said she gave the decision back to Roxas the next day and was hurt when she found that another division came out with a decision and that the documents she had signed were mere drafts.

It turned out that deliberations on the case were conducted by Reyes and Roxas, together with Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr. The Eighth Division eventually came out with the decision dismissing the case in favor of Meralco on July 23.

Callejo said he hoped Vidal learned her lesson and the latter also apologized for the lapses she had committed.

And then there was the question of Roxas’s traveling bag.

According to Vidal, Roxas was carrying the “voluminous” records of the case when he went to her office to personally bring her the copy of the decision that he had penned.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Court of Appeals Controversy Part 9: Businessman twits Sabio


The chismosos and brokers will inherit the world.

Court of Appeals Controvery Part 8: "I didn't ask for money"


Lopez-owned ABS-CBNNEWS video report above gets an "A" for production values. Focus will now be in De Borja on how he responds to Sabio's detailed rebuttal of De Borja's story.

Court of Appeals Controversy Part 7: Sabio rebuts De Borja


Justice Sabio presented the affivadit of Evelyn Clavano,his relative in Cagayan de Oro, whom he claims was also asked by Mr. Francis de Borja to convince to accept the PHP 10 Million.Noteworthy is Justice Sabio's comment above to Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who eventually decided the case."Kung sa akin PHP 10 Million, magkano sa yo?" Incidentally, Justice Beinvenido Reyes has not come forward to deny the allegation.

The full text of Justice Sabio's reply to the affidavit of Francis de Borja follows (thanks to Patring):


Good morning. I thank you all for coming. As you know, yesterday,
the CA en banc deliberated on and came to the agreement that we would
refer the procedural and ethical aspect of the Meralco-SEC case to the
Supreme Court to decide; and leave the validity of the decision for
the parties to file the appropriate legal proceedings. We also all
agreed that by referring this case to the SC, we would no longer
discuss this case outside of the agreement.

Let me say that as per our agreement, I had every intention of not
agreeing anymore to be interviewed on this matter. As some of you
have found out yesterday after the deliberations, I had declined any
attempts to be interviewed.

But then, at about 5 pm yesterday, I found out that Mr. Francis De
Borja had executed an affidavit alleging, in substance, that it was I
who had verbally insinuated to him that I could be bought for 50
million, and a position at the S.C.

Immediately thereafter, I called up PJ Vasquez and told him of this
new development. It is therefore with his knowledge and consent that
I called for this press conference, so I could set the record straight
and respond to the allegations made by Mr. De Borja.

At the outset, I must state that I cannot even begin to express my
anger, outrage and disgust that a person whom I had treated with civil
respect and kindness; and whom I thought respected me would impute
such a filthy lie on me. But that Mr. De Borja would have the nerve to
make these lies, under oath, is utterly disgusting when it was him who
had come to me with the offer of the bribe.

In the effort to make sure that I addressed all the allegations he
made in his affidavit, I have prepared this statement, and I will
narrate to you all my conversations with Mr. De Borja, including facts
and names, almost word for word as I remember them. Please bear with
me as I read this without allowing for interruptions, as I want to
make sure I cover all the facts and do not miss out on any details. I
will allow for questions, after I have read this statement.

Let me begin.

Paragraphs 1-2 of Mr. De Borja's affidavit relates to matters which
Mr. De Borja alone would know as these relate to how he purportedly
came to know of the Meralco/SEC case. I therefore would not know
whether he spoke the truth or not.

Paragraph 3, wherein he narrates what he does for a living is
consistent with what I have known of him: as a businessman who
facilitates and brokers land deals.

In paragraphs 4-12 of his affidavit— Mr. De Borja narrates the
circumstances under which we came to know each other. For the most
part, they are accurate. However, he has twisted the facts to
insinuate that the circumstances under which I received money from him
were highly irregular. It was not. Let me clarify.

1. I've had long years of service with the Roa family. The deceased
Patriarch Congressman Oloy Roa had personally instructed me as his
dying wish that I do not cease helping his children even if he was
already gone. In fact, the eldest daughter of this deceased
patriarch—Mrs Evelyn Roa Clavano—is the very person Francis De Borja
tried to contact to convince me to accept his ten million bribe.

2. Mrs Evelyn Roa Clavano and other children have always come to me
for help in family decisions. One of this was the sale of their huge
tract of land.

3. Mr. De Borja brokered the deal. The whole matter was protracted.
There were a lot of difficult issues and many times I had to settle
dispute and smooth things over with family members who were fighting
among each other but trusted me and listened to me.

4. Paragraph 8 therefore where he states that I "advised on legal
issues" is MISLEADING AND INACCUURATE. I was advising the family in a
personal capacity regarding what I thought to be most advantageous
offer for their land. When I accepted the P300K it was not as a judge,
but as a confidant and family adviser.

5. I did not ask for that money, nor was there any agreement between
us that he would give the same. As a matter of fact, Mr. De Borja
offered that money AFTER the conclusion of the deal, and without me
having to ask or saying anything. When I agreed to advise there was
absolutely no expectation of receiving.

6. I did not violate any law. You can check all the statute books on that.

7. As Mr. De Borja himself acknowledged, the money was given in
appreciation of my efforts in concluding the deal between the Roa
family and his principal. Mrs. Evelyn Roa Clavano knew about the money
and I had her blessing when I received it.

8. Mr. De Borja is obviously bringing up this past incident to
discredit me and insinuate from the facts that I had accepted a bribe
from him in the past. I categorically denounce the insinuations he is
maliciously trying to impute against my honor and integrity.

9. Paragraph 12 and its subparagraphs are likewise misleading. I never
initiated any communication with Mr. De Borja. It was he who would
call either me, or our mutual friend, Mrs. Evelyn Clavano to meet up.
It is not true that we had lunch two or three times a year. If we did
have lunch, it was on very rare occasions, not even three times a
year. I had no business with him.

10. In recent times, I likewise never initiated calls to contact him.
It was only on one occasion in this case when I wished to end his
pestering—which I will shortly discuss—that I decided to call him up.

11. Even now, I challenge him to produce his phone records to prove
that I ever contacted him. I can show you all my phone records to
prove the fact that he always tried to contact me, not the reverse.

12. Moving on now on to his allegations of what he narrated as "What
happened when Justice Sabio met with me on the MERALCO–SEC case."
This is another inaccurate and misleading statement. It was not I who
met with Mr. De Borja. It was he who sought me out to set an
appointment with me.

13. I specifically and vehemently deny Paragraphs 13-21 as blatant
lies. Rather than address these paragraph by paragraph, let me narrate
exactly how Mr. De Borja initated contact and what exactly transpired
in these 4 conversations: three by phone exchanges and one
face-to-face after he had sought me out at the Ateneo.

• The first contact happened on or about May 31. Merely days after the
Meralco-SEC case had been raffled, Mr. De Borja called me up, so
suddenly, and after having had no contact for almost a year.

• Mr. De Borja said: Mabuhay ka, Justice.

• I asked: Why did you say 'Mabuhay'?

• He said: I just want to let you know that the Makati Business Club
is happy with what you did.

• I asked: Why, what have I done?

• And he answered: Di ba isa ka sa pumirma ng TRO?

• I told him: Yes, in fact, I am the Acting chairman of the Division.

• And he said: Mabuti hindi ka na pressure.

• And I told him: I voted according to my conscience.

• Then he said: Mabuhay ka Justice.

• That was the end of that conversation.

14. The second phone call from Mr. De Borja happened on July 1,
sometime during the day.
• Mr. De Borja started the call this way. He said: Justice, pwede ba
tayong magkita? Importante lang.

• I told him: But I have classes from 6-8 o'clock tonight.

• He said: Pupuntahan na lang kita pagkatapos ng klase mo.

• Then I said: Sige, pero hindi ako magtatagal. Kasama ko and aking
asawa at anak.

15. On that same day, by the time I had finished my class at 8 p.m.,
Mr. De Borja was already waiting for me at the Lobby Lounge of the 3rd
Floor of the Ateneo Law School. His first words to me were: Alam mo
Justice kung sino ang kasama ko ngayon sa kotse? Si Manolo Lopez.

• Then he said: Noong tanungin kita at sinabi kong "Mabuhay ka
Justice," si Manolo Lopez and katabi ko noon. Papunta siyang America,
kaya ako na lang ang pumunta dito para makiusap sa 'yo. Alam mo, itong
kaso na ito is a matter of life and death for the Lopezes. And alam mo
naman what the Marcoses did to them, which is being done now by the

• At that point he mentioned the impasse between Justice Bienvenido
Reyes and myself. He said: Alam naming may problema kayo ni Justice
Reyes tungkol sa chairmanship.

• I was surprised how he came to know about it, as this was an
internal matter of the Court of Appeals which only happened fairly
recently and many associate justices of the CA were not even aware of
this. Just the same, I explained my stand and why I could not
relinquish the chairmanship to Justice Reyes.

• He then replied: Alam mo, Justice, ang opinion dito ni Nonong Cruz
ay i-challenge ang stand mo. Kaya lang, mayroon namang nagsabi na it
might become messy.

• Then he bragged to me: Ako din ang responsible sa pag-recommend at
pag-hire ng Villaraza Law Firm.

• Then he explained that he was there to offer me a win-win situation.

• He said: Justice, mayroon kaming P10 million. Ready.

16. At that point, I was shocked that he had a very low regard for me.
He was treating me like there was a price on my person. I could not
describe my feelings. I was stunned. But at the same time, hindi ko
rin magawang bastusin siya because I had known him since 1993 and this
was the first time that he had ever treated me like this, or shown
that he believed I could be bought.

• So I just told him: Francis, I cannot in conscience agree to that.

• His answer was: Sabi ko na nga sa kanila, mahirap ka talaga papayag.
Kasi may anak iyang Opus Dei. Numerary pa.

• At this point, I just wanted to leave, so I told him I could not
stay long. I told him my wife and lawyer daughter were waiting.

• Even then, he was already insistent. His parting words before I
left were: Just think about it, Justice.

17. When I went down to the car park, I told my wife and daughter
about what Mr. Francis De Borja tried to do to me. Both of them got
angry and insulted on my behalf. They likewise expressed the
sentiment that, although we did not know him well, we thought he
respected me as a person. I also told them that Mr. Francis De Borja
bragged to Manolo Lopez of his perceived closeness to me at
pinapaniwala niya siguro si Manolo Lopez na kaya niya ako.

18. At this point, I thought I had made myself clear to Mr. De Borja
that I was rejecting any offer. But Mr. De Borja would not quit. A
day or two later, I found out that Mr. De Borja called up our mutual
friend in Cagayan de Oro, Mrs. Evelyn Roa Clavano. He actually urged
Mrs. Clavano to ask me to give way to Justice Bienvenido Reyes because
they cannot be sure of me.

19. I found out about Mr. De Borja's call because a few days after
that meeting, I had called Mrs. Clavano about some personal matters.
It was during that call that I was again shocked to learn that Mr. De
Borja had called her. She told me she was also shocked that Francis
De Borja had the gall to ask her to convince me to accept the bribe.
As we speak, Mrs . Clavano is finalizing her affidavit on the phone
conversation she had with Mr. De Borja and this statement will be
faxed to me within the day.

20. Again, I was still of the opinion that since I had given a firm NO
to his offer, I thought the matter had already been settled. Mr. De
Borja, however, kept pestering me with phone calls and text messages.
On this point again, I challenge him to produce his phone records to
disprove what I am saying.

21. By this time, I had begun to feel oppressed by his pestering. I
called him up to tell him once and for all to stop pestering me. Let
me say again: I never initiated the calls to him except this single
time after he kept pestering me with his text messages.

• When he answered the call he said: Mabuti naman Justice tumawag ka,
kasi malapit na ang deadline ng submission ng memorandum.
Pinag-isipan mo bang mabuti ang offer namin? Kasi sayang din kung di
mo tatanggapin, Kasi kahit aabot itong kaso sa Supreme Court,
matatalo ka din. Sayang lang 'yung P10 million. Baka sisihin ka pa ng
mga anak mo.

• Again, I was shocked at the things he was saying, and could not
believe he would repeat an offer which I had already rejected. I
repeated my "NO." And then, because his insistence seemed to me like
he could not understand why I kept saying "NO," I tried to explain: If
I accept that, my conscience will bother me forever. How can I face my
wife and two daughters? One a lawyer and the other a Numerary member
of Opus Dei? And besides, how can I reconcile my being a member of
PHILJA's Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department; being a lecturer of
the MCLE; and being a Pre-Bar Reviewer of the Ateneo Law School on
Legal and Judicial Ethics?

• At that point, he told me: Wala naman kaming pinapagawa sa iyo na illegal, eh.

• And he added: You know Justice, after two or three weeks,
makakalimutan na ito ng mga tao.

• And he said: Meron naman diyang mga Atenista na tumatanggap.

• I told him: I don't know about them, but I am different.

• Then he said: Well, if you will not accept, we will be forced to
look for other ways.

• Then I told him: But they will have to contend with me.

• As a parting statement, he said: Justice, no matter what, saludo
talaga ako sa iyo.

22. The details I have set out are the extent of my conversation with
Mr. Francis De Borja. In no occasion did I solicit any money or favor
from him.

23. Then, as you know, on July 7, 2008, MERALCO filed a motion for
Justice Bienvenido Reyes to assume the chairmanship. The rest that
happened after that last conversation are as I narrated in my
complaint letter to Presiding Justice Conrado Vazquez.

24. Allow me to say that I would not concoct this story to put my own
integrity or my safety or the safety of my family at risk. But in
coming out with the bare facts—including names of people as they were
mentioned and events as they have happened—I may have compromised my
own safety and the safety of the people I know and love.

25. My family and friends have supported my decision to do so, knowing
my desire to preserve the integrity of the Court of which I am part,
and the laws of this country which I have pledged to uphold, honor and
obey. More importantly, I only desire to tell the truth, and I swear
by these statements on my honor as a Justice of the Court of Appeals,
but most especially on my honor as a Head Servant of a Catholic
Christian Community (Fruit of the Holy Spirit of Gusa, Cagayan de Oro)
for more than 25 years.

JOSE L. SABIO, JR. (signed)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Court of Appeals Controversy part 6: Francis Roa de Borja identifies himself as the mystery man, claims Sabio asked PHP 50 M

The Inquirer reports that a certain Francis Roa de Borja identified himself as the Makati businessman who was brokering for Meralco that Justice Sabio mentioned in his controversial letter to the CA Presiding Justice. Mr. de Borja in his sworn affidavit claims that Justice Sabio asked for PHP 50 M and Justice Sabio wanted a seat in the Supreme Court. The text of the affidavit is below the commentary.


Seven questions for the mystery man.

1. Justice Sabio said in his letter that the mystery man was brokering for MERALCO. By claiming that he is the mystery man, is Mr. de Borja also claiming that he was brokering for MERALCO?

2. Is the MERALCO case a matter for brokers to meddle with?

3. Did Mr. De Borja convey the PHP 50 Million price to the owners of MERALCO?

4. If so, did the owners of MERALCO believe him?

5. Is the PHP 10 Million to inhibit the counter-offer?

6. Is the action of the lawyers of MERALCO in filing a Motion for Justice Reyes to assume the Chairmanship the rejection of the offer?

7. Does Mr. Francis Roa de Borja also admit that he pestered Justice Sabio and even asked a relative of Justice Sabio from Cagayan de Oro to convince Justice Sabio to accept the PHP 10 Million and inhibit?

More questions than answers.


The full text of the Affidavit follows:



I, FRANCIS ROA DE BORJA, Filipino, of legal age, with address at 343 G. de Borja St., Pateros, Metro Manila, after having been duly sworn in accordance with law, hereby depose and state:


1. At the 2008 annual stockholders meeting of Meralco a controversy arose regarding an SEC order to nullify the proxies which had been issued in favor of the Meralco management. I subsequently found out from the news that Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. was one of the justices who was hearing the case filed by Meralco against the GSIS and SEC (the “Meralco/GSIS/SEC case”).

2. This development struck a chord in me since I knew Justice Sabio quite well from my previous dealings in the early 1990’s with a group he had been advising in Cagayan de Oro City on a real estate transaction that I was putting together.

3. I am a businessman. Among other activities, I have been engaged in the past in the sale and purchase of real properties, manufacturing companies, brokering contracts, and in general, deal making and project packaging from which I would stand to gain a fee for my efforts.


4. My mother is a Roa. By virtue of this, I am related to the extended Roa clan whose roots are in Cagayan de Oro City.

5. One of the branches of the Roa family, the branch originating from the late Congressman Pedro “Oloy” Roa, was the previous owner of a 400 hectare property in Cagayan de Oro City located very near the city airport (the “CDO Property”).

6. Sometime in 1993, when the Pedro Roa family still owned the CDO Property, I learned of their intention to sell it. I contacted a family member to say that I could get a developer to buy it.

7. I talked to the Investment and Capital Corporation of the Philippines (ICCP) which had developed the highly successful Science Park in Laguna. ICCP forthwith expressed interest in buying the said property for development into a residential subdivision.
8. In the course of the negotiations between ICCP and the Pedro Roa family, the latter were advised on legal issues by Judge Jose Sabio Jr. who was then a Regional Trial Court Judge in Cagayan de Oro City.

9. The negotiations were protracted and took a year or so to complete. Judge Sabio and I came to know each other quite well during this time and became friends.

10. The sale of the Cagayan de Oro Property was successfully completed and the same was subsequently developed into the Pueblo de Oro Subdivision.

11. After I received my fee for the transaction, I gave Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (P300,000) to Judge Sabio in appreciation of the efforts he had undertaken towards the successful completion of the transaction. This gesture was also a way of expressing to him that I had come to value the friendship we had developed.

12. Afterwards, Judge Sabio and I continued to communicate with each other, albeit infrequently.

12.1. When Judge Sabio would come over to Manila from Cagayan de Oro City, he would call me up and we would have lunch or dinner together.

12.2. Subsequently, when Judge Sabio was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 1999 and transferred residence to Manila, he and I would meet on occasion and have lunch or dinner perhaps two or three times a year.


13. On or about May 31, 2008 and acting on my own, I called up Justice Sabio to chitchat on the Meralco/GSIS/SEC case because it was hogging the headlines, and to hear what was happening, so to speak, directly from the horse’s mouth.

13.1. During the telephone conversation, I commented to Justice Sabio to the effect that “Grabe siguro ang pressure sa iyo dito!”

13.2 In reply, Justice Sabio said “Ay Francis, you have no idea of the pressures I am undergoing from the government.”

13.3. I replied that I could well imagine his situation and after a few more words said goodbye and wished him good luck.

14. In late June, I called Justice Sabio again and suggested we get together to touch base. In response, he invited me to see him at the Ateneo Law School in Rockwell after his classes.

15. In the evening of Tuesday, July 1, 2008, I went to Ateneo Law School to see Justice Sabio. I invited him to have dinner at the nearby Rockwell Mall. However, he told me that he could meet with me only for a while since his wife would be fetching him and would be waiting in their car. Thus, we just talked at the lobby lounge.

15.1. During our conversation, we talked about the Meralco, GSIS, SEC controversy.

15.1.1 Justice Sabio confided that he was the Acting Chairman of the Division hearing the case but that he was very piqued with the regular Chairman of the Division, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who was exercising efforts to reclaim his seat.

15.1.2. Justice Sabio mentioned the following reasons why he thought he should remain the Acting Chairman of the Division hearing the Meralco/GSIS/SEC case: He had signed the temporary restraining order issued in the case. He said “hindi bale sana kung hindi ako ang pumirma.” In the last few weeks, he had conversed several times with the said regular Chairman of the Division, Justice Bienvenido Reyes, but he groused that “walang sinasabi sa akin yun pala gusto niyang bumalik. Why did he not say anything to me? Parang trinaidor ako.” Justice Sabio added that he was very suspicious of Justice Reyes’s motives. “Why does he want to come back? Siguro meron silang gustong gawin dito.” He mentioned that “Justice Cruz” who had issued a ruling on the matter to the effect that he (Justice Sabio) should give way to Justice Reyes was even “junior” in rank to him. He commented “Insulto sa akin yan.” He said that he had consulted other colleagues in the Court of Appeals and that they had told him that he was in the right and should stick to his guns. He said he had two children who are both lawyers and he had discussed this matter with them and they had likewise advised him not to give way. He vowed that he would hold on as Acting Chairman of the Division for the case even if he had to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court.

16. Justice Sabio then told me about the blandishments coming from the government side. He said that he was being offered a promotion to the Supreme Court and money to favor the GSIS position.

17. I was nonplussed by this last statement since Justice Sabio had just expressed suspicion about the motives of Justice Reyes and other Division members in their wanting Justice Reyes to resume the chairmanship of the Division. He, in effect, had just given me his motive for wanting to remain as Acting Chair of the Division.

18. I concluded that this was probably the reason why he was hanging on so desperately to the Acting Chairmanship of the Division. If he would give up the said Acting Chairmanship, he would lose his chance for a Supreme Court seat and the promise of monetary consideration.

19. I had been appalled from the beginning by the way GSIS and the government were going after Meralco. I told Justice Sabio that it was obvious that the government was doing this in retaliation for the news coverage by ABS-CBN of the Administration. I then asked him “what would it take for you to resist the government’s offer?”

20. The response of Justice Sabio was “Fifty Million.”

21. I was so taken aback by the answer of Justice Sabio and the huge amount he had mentioned that I was at a loss for words to say. After regaining my composure, we made our goodbyes as his wife was already waiting for him in their car.



Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Court of Appeals Controversy Part 5: CA says respect our silence

The Inquirer reports that the Court of Appeals has issued a statement that it has referred the controversy to the Supreme Court Office of the Court Administrator. The justices also agreed to leave the ruling on the dispute between the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to the “parties concerned for appropriate action;” and refer the conflict to its standing committee on the internal rules of court.

The Inquirer further reports that the justices also appealed to everyone to respect their silence on the issue and refrain from public discussion of the case.


With the appeal of the Court of Appeals to refrain from public discussion of the case, I don't know where that leaves this blog. I will check the rules on "sub judice" and post about it later.

The Court of Appeals Controversy Part 4: Who is Justice Jose Sabio, Jr.?

The man of the hour is Justice Jose Sabio, Jr., whose letter to Justice Conrado Vasquez has stirred a controversy on how the Court of Appeals handled the resolution of the stockholder fight between GSIS and the Lopezes in the control for MERALCO.

According to the Court of Appeals website,

Justice JOSE L. SABIO, JR. is the third of the five children of the late spouses, Executive Judge Jose P. Sabio, Sr. and Ester Loyola Sabio. Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. finished his bachelor's degree in Commerce, major in Accounting, from Liceo de Cagayan University. He was first employed with Procter and Gamble, in Cebu City. To advance his professional career, he sought transfer to Manila, and then enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila University College of Law. He finished Law in 1967 and was admitted to the Bar in 1968.

Beckoned to public service, he returned home to Cagayan de Oro, worked as Secretary to the Mayor and City Assessor. He ventured in politics, becoming barangay captain of Gusa, president of the Association of Barangay Captains and member of the Sangguniang Panglungsod.

His appointment to the Court of Appeals on May 26, 1999 was preceded by a career in the judiciary that began in March 1990, as RTC Judge of Branch 16, Tangub City, Branch 27 in Gingoog City and Branch 23 in Cagayan de Oro City.

He was conferred the title, Professor Emeritus by Xavier University College of Law where he taught Political Law and Constitutional Law, Law on Public Officers, and Private Corporation for 32 years.

Today he is a professorial lecturer of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA), the UP Institute of Judicial Administration (UPIJA), and Pre-bar reviewer in Legal Ethics at the Ateneo School of Law where he also handles, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law I.


I really find it amusing that a professor of Legal Ethics at my alma mater, Ateneo de Manila School of Law, is a the center of the present controversy. Even moreso considering that today, July 31, 2008, is the feast day of St. Ignatius de Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, which owns the Ateneo and Xavier University, where Justice Sabio has found an academic career in law.
It must have been really tough agonizing over the events after the PHP 10 M bribe offer and his decision to write the letter to Justice Conrado Vasquez. Why did he prefer to speak out instead of letting the controversy die down? The easier path would have been to quietly fade into the background. Yet, instead he has chosen to speak out and spend a lot of energy writing the letter to the Court of Appeals presiding justice. Is Justice Sabio for real?

Court of Appeals Controversy Part 3: Who is the Mysterious Businessman?

Justice Sabio's letter to Presiding CA Justice Conrado Vasquez reveals a clear case of bribery. According to Justice Sabio, a Makati businessman waited until the end of his Law School class to see him. The Makati businessman was brokering for MERALCO. The Makati businessman offered PHP 10 M for Justice Sabio to give way to Justice Reyes in the MERALCO case. Justice Sabio's letter states,

Then sometime on July 1, 2008, a Makati businessman whom I knew way back then, called me up and requested for an urgent meeting. Since I had classes from 6 pm to 8 pm that said businessman waited to see me in the Law School after my class. It turned out that he was brokering for MERALCO. He started by explaining to me the problem between Justice Reyes and myself, and who should continue to handle the case. I was surprised why he came to know about this matter considering that it was an internal problem and that it only happened very recently. He then proceeded to explain to me that their lawyers wanted to directly challenge my stand but another lawyer advised them that it might become messy. So, they were talking of a win-win situation, which meant offering P10M for me to give way to Justice Reyes. I politely declined the offer and told the emissary that it was not only a matter of principle but that it will affect the integrity of the Court. Before he left, he told me that they were still hoping that I could see it their way. In their eagerness to succeed on that aspect, the emissary even called up a close family friend in Cagayan de Oro to help them convince me to accept the offer.


it will only be a matter of time before Justice Sabio is forced to reveal the identity of this mysterious businessman. With the Court of Appeals now holding a session en banc, a discussion of the bribe offer and the details surrounding will surely take place and Justice Sabio's story is going to be scrutinized to the last detail. This also brings us to the point: Why did Justice Sabio did not reveal the name of the Makati businessman who made the bribe offer? Why, instead of filing a case for bribery, did Justice Sabio choose instead to write a letter of Complaint to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals? Further, as can be seen from the narration of Justice Sabio there was a clear conspiracy to ease him out of the case. The conspiracy appears to include even the lawyers of MERALCO (Note: I don't know who they are as their names are not revealed in the papers) as shown by the fact that they filed a "Motion for Justice Reyes to Assume Chairmanship". According to Justice Sabio, he found the motion strange and stupid. As a legal practitioner myself, I would say Justice Sabio's comment appears to not unfounded.

The Court of Appeals Controversy Part 2: Justice Sabio's Telling Letter

The Inquirer links to the text of Justice Sabio's letter addressed to Justice Conrado Vasquez, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals. Scroll down to the middle portion of the letter in which Justice Sabio asked loaded questions, as it were, as follows:

I also told Justice B. Reyes of the P10M offer for me to give way to him. It was then that I confronted Justice B. Reyes with the following questions:

“If you will insist on assuming the chairmanship, after you have been told of the P10M offer, what will I think of you now? Why should MERALCO insist on you assuming the chairmanship and have me ousted?”

“Is it because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain with mine?”

“Can you blame me now if I will think that you are a part of this whole scheme or shenanigan?”

“Does not the timing alone stink of corruption? After they failed to convince me of their offer, now they will use you to oust me?”

“Why did they (MERALCO) actively participate in the hearing on the 23rd and never raised any question regarding the supposed irregularity of my presiding over the hearing?”

“Why do you insist on assuming the case? Are you not aware that several days after the issuance of the TRO, respondents (GSIS) filed a motion for inhibition and motion to lift the TRO? Who then has the right to resolve such motions?” (Sad to say that up to this time, said motions have been left unresolved.)

“Under the circumstances do you expect me to give way to you?”

His feeble reply was “I am afraid that they will file a case of non-feasance against me.”

I told him that this was not a case of non-feasance and explained to him how that could not be possible, having taught the subject for some time.


I don't know why Justice Sabio and Justice Reyes were approached by litigants and both appeared to have entertained them. Also, Meralco's lawyers appear to be orchestrating Justice Sabio's removal from the division deciding the case. Indeed, Justice Sabio's question reveals a lot. Why? And as he posits, "“Is it because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain with mine?” “Can you blame me now if I will think that you are a part of this whole scheme or shenanigan?” The answer is written on the question.


The full text of Justice Sabio's letter is quoted here. Justice Sabio even appended a text message from his daughter cheering him on.

July 26, 2008

Presiding Justice
Court of Appeals
Maria Orosa St., Ermita, Manila

RE: C.A. G.R. SP No. 103692
ROSETE et al vs. SEC et al

Dear Presiding Justice Vasquez:

The attendant circumstances, the manner by which the decision in the above case was arrived at, and how the decision was promulgated behooved me to write this urgent complaint. Unless immediate and thorough investigation thereon be undertaken by this Court, both the individual and institutional integrity of the justices and of this Court will undoubtedly be tarnished. If that happens, the public’s confidence in the judicial process will be irreparably undermined and damaged.

The genesis of this complaint:

The above case was raffled to Ponente, Justice Vicente Roxas, who at that time was its Senior member, with Justice Bienvenido Reyes, chairman and Justice Myrna Vidal, Junior member of the Ninth Division. Since Justice Reyes was on leave at that time and considering that a TRO was prayed for, a raffle was made for an acting Third Member, who happened to be Justice Jose Mendoza. However, because Justice Jose Mendoza was formerly connected with Petitioner MERALCO, another raffle was conducted and I took over and acted as chairman.

On May 30, 2008, convinced of the urgency of the matter, and the merit of the prayer for the issuance of a TRO, I signed the TRO prepared by Ponente Justice Roxas who surprisingly personally brought it to my office at that time. Justice Roxas was told that we should schedule the case for hearing on oral arguments which was to be done on June 23 and 24, 2008.

Sometime on June 16 or 17, 2008, Justice Bienvenido Reyes returned from vacation. To my puzzlement, on June 20, 2008, I received a copy of a letter sent by Justice Edgardo Cruz, addressed to Justice Bienvenido Reyes, with an opinion that Justice Reyes should take over the case and for me not to continue.

Thereupon, I called you up and told you that I found it strange that Justice Reyes never told me about the matter in spite of the fact that we were seated together several times on separate occasions. If you recall, I commented then that I smelled something fishy about the move. For one, the alleged opinion was a personal opinion of Justice Edgardo Cruz, who acted in his personal capacity. I conveyed to you that I wondered why the matter was not openly and deliberately discussed with you.

You were informed then that it was my considered opinion that I was still the proper party to hear the case. On the morning of July 23, 2008, just before the scheduled hearing, I went to Justice Martin Villarama Jr., a more senior, experienced and respected member of this Court for consultation and guidance. Justice Villarama advised me that my stand was correct and therefore I should remain in this case.

Thus, the hearing as scheduled on the morning of June 23 proceeded, where I presided and all parties joined in the spirited arguments on the pros and cons of the petition. After the oral arguments, the parties were directed to submit their respective memoranda simultaneously within fifteen (15) days from that date, addressing all the issues directed by the Court. Incidentally, before the hearing, Justice Roxas requested me if he could read a prepared paper. Finding it to be a kind of scripted speech, I told him it was restrictive and not proper for an open hearing.

Then sometime on July 1, 2008, a Makati businessman whom I knew way back then, called me up and requested for an urgent meeting. Since I had classes from 6 pm to 8 pm that said businessman waited to see me in the Law School after my class. It turned out that he was brokering for MERALCO. He started by explaining to me the problem between Justice Reyes and myself, and who should continue to handle the case. I was surprised why he came to know about this matter considering that it was an internal problem and that it only happened very recently. He then proceeded to explain to me that their lawyers wanted to directly challenge my stand but another lawyer advised them that it might become messy. So, they were talking of a win-win situation, which meant offering P10M for me to give way to Justice Reyes. I politely declined the offer and told the emissary that it was not only a matter of principle but that it will affect the integrity of the Court. Before he left, he told me that they were still hoping that I could see it their way. In their eagerness to succeed on that aspect, the emissary even called up a close family friend in Cagayan de Oro to help them convince me to accept the offer.

If you recall, the morning after, I went to see you in your office and informed you of the attempt to have me ousted from the case. Justice Villarama was likewise informed by me of the said disturbing incident.

Again, sometime on July 4, the emissary frantically tried calling me. To put an end to the pestering calls, I told the emissary that to accept the offer would not only bother my conscience forever, but also that I could not possibly face my wife, my two daughters—one a lawyer and the other a Bar candidate, as well as the rest of my family. I already discussed my stand with my family and to suddenly change my stand would have definitely affected them. Besides, I told him: “How can I reconcile my being a member of Philja’s Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department, being MCLE lecturer and Ateneo’s Pre-Bar reviewer in Legal and Judicial Ethics, if I accepted the offer?” His feeble answer was, “we are not doing anything illegal since we do not ask you to decide one way or the other.” I told him, “It is a matter of principle.”

Before we ended the conversation, the emissary said that they will be forced to resort to other means to have Justice Reyes assume the chairmanship. I countered that since that would involve the integrity and reputation of the Court, they will have to contend with me.

On July 4, 2008, Justice Roxas was frantically getting in touch with me to discuss the case while I was on official leave. I told Justice Roxas that I still needed ample time to read the memoranda of the parties to intelligently discuss the case with him. Justice Roxas told me that he will have the memoranda sent to me immediately.

Surprisingly, on Monday, July 7, 2008, an urgent motion for Justice B. Reyes to assume the chairmanship was filed by Petitioner MERALCO. If you again recall, we had a discussion on the matter and you finally advised me to discuss the matter with Justice B. Reyes.

Sometime in the afternoon of July 8, 2008, Justice B. Reyes came to see me in my office, to discuss, among others, the urgent motion. I told Justice Reyes that I found the motion rather strange and even referred to it as stupid. I further told Justice Reyes that in my more than nine years in the Court, I never came across such a kind of pleading; and that the proper pleading to file should have been a motion to have me recuse or inhibit myself.

I also told Justice B. Reyes of the P10M offer for me to give way to him. It was then that I confronted Justice B. Reyes with the following questions:

“If you will insist on assuming the chairmanship, after you have been told of the P10M offer, what will I think of you now? Why should MERALCO insist on you assuming the chairmanship and have me ousted?”

“Is it because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain with mine?”

“Can you blame me now if I will think that you are a part of this whole scheme or shenanigan?”

“Does not the timing alone stink of corruption? After they failed to convince me of their offer, now they will use you to oust me?”

“Why did they (MERALCO) actively participate in the hearing on the 23rd and never raised any question regarding the supposed irregularity of my presiding over the hearing?”

“Why do you insist on assuming the case? Are you not aware that several days after the issuance of the TRO, respondents (GSIS) filed a motion for inhibition and motion to lift the TRO? Who then has the right to resolve such motions?” (Sad to say that up to this time, said motions have been left unresolved.)

“Under the circumstances do you expect me to give way to you?”

His feeble reply was “I am afraid that they will file a case of non-feasance against me.”

I told him that this was not a case of non-feasance and explained to him how that could not be possible, having taught the subject for some time.

The next day, Justice B. Reyes went to see Justice Villarama to seek his advice on the impasse. According to Justice Villarama, he advised Justice Reyes to lay off the case and allow me to continue and to resolve the urgent motion for assumption of Justice Reyes.

In the morning of July 11, I prepared a resolution referring the “Urgent Motion for Justice B. Reyes to Assume the Chairmanship” to the respondents for comment. I forwarded the resolution to the office of Justice Roxas who was in possession of the rollo. Again, sadly, the said resolution died a lonely death in the office of Justice Roxas, for it was never released.

Then on July 14, before the flag-raising ceremony, I requested Justice Roxas for a meeting regarding the case, since I had already read the memoranda submitted. Initially, Justice Roxas agreed, but after our snacks at about nine o’clock he advised me that he cannot attend the meeting because he had another matter to attend to. He also said he could not be available in the afternoon. Since that time, I had been trying to get in touch with Justice Roxas for a meeting, but he could not be reached in his office and neither did he answer my text messages for a meeting. Justice Vidal had also been eagerly awaiting this meeting.

I came to know later that as early as July 11, Justice Myrna Vidal already signed the ponencia only to be advised by Justice Roxas that he needed the decision back and could not forward it to me because he still had to incorporate some 10 pages which he forgot to include in the decision. I was disturbed by the fact that even if only few days have lapsed since the memoranda were submitted, Justice Roxas could already write and prepare a more than 50-page decision.

I also learned that a corrected decision where Justice Vidal was unceremoniously ousted was signed by a new member, Justice A. Bruselas, Jr. on July 17, although promulgated on July 23, when I was on official leave. Again, why was Justice Vidal unceremoniously removed when the case was with the Special Ninth Division of which she was a regular member? A case of one blunder after another.

But the worst was yet to happen in this case. On July 21, 2008, Justice Roxas filed with you, as Presiding Justice (PJ), an interpleader petition. Justice B. Reyes also wrote you a letter on July 22, 2008, requesting you to rule on the impasse. Without waiting for your ruling on the matter—which you did on July 24, 2008—they already promulgated the decision on the 23rd. Was it because they anticipated your opinion to be adverse to their stand that they disrespected your office by promulgating the decision earlier?

Above premises considered, I urge an investigation. At stake is not only the individual integrity of the justices but also the institutional integrity of the Court. Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct clearly provides that “integrity is essential not only to the proper discharge of judicial office, but also the personal demeanor of judges.” Section I thereof provides: “Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.” In fact in one case, the Supreme Court said: “In the judiciary, moral integrity is more than a cardinal virtue. It is a necessity.” (Fernandez vs. Hamoy, 436 SCRA 186)

With the events that transpired as narrated, and in light of the high mandate imposed by the New Code of Judicial Conduct, as well as the pronouncements of the Supreme Court, there is a need for a no-nonsense investigation by this Court, if only to protect and defend its integrity and to encourage public confidence in the dispensation of justice.

Very respectfully yours,


Cc: Justice Martin Villarama, Jr.
Justice Myrna D. Vidal
Justice Apolinario Bruselas, Jr.

*My daughter’s text message after she learned that I rejected the offer: “Pa, if it’s any consolation to you, there’s the knowledge that you are giving so many people the good example of what Christian integrity means, and what it really means to be a man for others. Maybe by this example of yours, you have sown the seed of their own conversion.

I am so proud of you PAPA and grateful to God for giving me a father like you who I can really be proud of in front of God and everybody. Love you so much Pa"

(To be continued)

The Court of Appeals Controversy: PHP 10 Million to inhibit, how much to decide?

The Inquirer today banners a headline on a PHP 10 Million attempt to bribe Justice Sabio of the Court of Appeals. According to Justice Sabio, a Meralco emissary offered him the money in exchange for Justice Sabio's inhibition from the heated Meralco stockholder fight. Justice Sabio's story has the stuff of credibility written into it. The Inquirer relates the story as follows:

The emissary began by explaining the problem of who between Sabio and Reyes should preside over the Meralco case.

Sabio was surprised that the emissary knew about the matter, “an internal problem” that happened only “very recently.”

The emissary said his camp’s lawyers wanted to “directly challenge” Sabio’s insistence on presiding over the case, but that they were told it might “become messy.”

It was then that Sabio was offered P10 million, which he rejected.

“So, they were talking of a win-win situation, which meant offering P10 million for me to give way to Justice Reyes. I politely declined that offer and told the emissary that it was not only a matter of principle but that it will [also] affect the integrity of the court. Before he left, he told me that they were still hoping that I could see it their way,” Sabio said.

“In their eagerness to succeed on that aspect,” Sabio said, the emissary got in touch with a family friend in Cagayan de Oro City to convince him to accept the money.

‘Pestering’ calls

Sabio said that subsequently, he received frantic calls from the emissary.

He continued his account to Presiding Justice Vasquez thus:

In order to put an end to the “pestering” calls, Sabio told the emissary that his conscience would forever be bothered and he would be unable to face his wife and two daughters if he accepted the offer.

He also told the emissary that taking the money would be contrary to his being a member of the Philippine Judicial Academy’s Ethics and Judicial Conduct Department and Ateneo de Manila University’s pre-bar reviewer in legal and judicial ethics.

The emissary’s “feeble response” was: “We are not doing anything illegal since we do not ask you to decide one way or the other.”

His reply was that it was “a matter of principle.”

Before the conversation ended, the emissary told Sabio that his camp would be forced to employ other ways to ensure that Reyes would chair the division that would decide on the case.

Questions to Reyes

On July 7, Meralco filed an urgent motion for Reyes to assume the chairmanship of the 9th Division, which Sabio described as a “strange,” even “stupid,” motion.

Sabio also said in the letter that he had told Reyes of the P10-million offer, and asked the latter certain questions, including:

“If you will insist on assuming the chairmanship, after you have been told of the P10-million offer, what will I think of you now? Why should Meralco insist on you assuming the chairmanship and have me ousted?”

“Is it because they are certain of your loyalty and they are uncertain [of] mine?”

“Why did they (Meralco) actively participate in the hearing on the 23rd and never raised any question regarding the supposed irregularity of my presiding over the hearing?”

Sabio said Reyes’ “feeble” reply to him was: “I am afraid that they will file a case of nonfeasance against me.” (Nonfeasance means “the omission of an act that ought to have been performed.”)


If the offer was PHP 10 Million for the justices to inhibit, how much then was the offer for a justice to decide? The question cannot just be ignored, considering that Meralco subsequently won the case and the decision was penned by somebody else other than Justice Sabio, who did not inhibit from the case, yet still removed from the case by some strange circumstance.

The Court of Appeals is holding an en banc session today to resolve Justice sabio's complaint. (to be continued)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Law/Power Equation (Part 1)

'Truth', French philosopher Michel Foucault, suggests is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements.'Truth', he adds, is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. Foucault calls it a 'regime' of truth.

Laws are statements in the context of power. I say "statement" in the logical sense, where validity, and not the metaphysical truth, is the goal. But I also say laws are statements in the context of power, because in real life legal statements can send people to or save them from jail. Foucault's proposition can be reduced to a simple equation: power = law, law = power. Power sustains law. Law sustains power. We can call this the Law/Power Equation.

In the context of a democracy, power is held by the people and is exercised during elections. The people are supposed to have aspirations and by exercising their power through elections, they are supposed to pursue these aspirations. Thus, power is but a means to an end, which end ultimately is the sum of all the aspirations of the people. In the context of the French Revolution, these aspirations are lIberty, equality and fraternity. Democracy therefor subverts the law/power equation. Law and power are not pursued for their own sake but for the sake of a metaphysical vision of man.

But the democratic subversion of the Law/Power Equation is not an automatic phenomenon. People do not naturally aspire for liberty, equality and fraternity from birth. These are learned aspirations and are handed down from generation to generation. It has happened, as a matter of fact, that instead of a regeneration of aspirations, what happens is a degeneration, and the aspirations of a people are forgotten or even corrupted.

Unfortunately, the systems and institutions that keep the Law/Power Equation subverted by the ends of democracy are often enduring, sometimes more enduring than the forgotten, corrupted, and degenerated aspirations of a people. When this happens, law and power become means and ends in themselves and are subverted by other degenerate aspirations. It is therefore important that measures are put in place to ensure that every generation experiences a repetition of circumstances that brought about the birth of a people's aspirations. A repetition of the experience should help the people remember the urgency and importance of subverting the Law/Power Equation.

How is this experience of repetition possible? That should be the ends and task of of a democratic education.

(To be continued)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The logic of dole-outs

is simply to avoid riots. It is a political solution to an economic problem. Dole-out relief is meant to convince the masses that the economic crunch is not caused by structural or governmental undoing. The economic crisis is an inevitable fate of a third world country bereft of food and oil resources. Dole-out relief is meant to mask the scarcity of management foresight.

The danger of dole-out relief happens when the masses have become dependent on it and there is nothing left to dole-out. For thereafter, rioting, which dole-outs intended to avoid, becomes a serious threat again. And thereafter, the logic of dole-outs will be judged as bad logic to begin with.

Ultimately, the logic of dole-outs is about buying time, time between the threat of the first riot and the second, and hope, that during that period somebody comes up with a logic better than dole-outs.

How about the logic of resignation?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our farmers need a new deal.

No more undercutting the farm gate prices of their produce.
No more over-priced fertilizers.
No more high interests on their loans.
No more excuse for bad weather reports.
No more ghost farm-to-market roads.
No more ghost irrigation projects.
No more looking down on his muddy feet and dirty hands.
No more of these.

The farmer is king, or
we all starve.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rizal to the Law Office Reception

Genius has no country!
Genius bursts forth everywhere!
Genius is like light and air!
Genius is everyone's patrimony!

My wife's family has began distributing personal properties of her maternal great grandfather in their old house in San Juan, Batangas. Her great grandfather from the Salud line is one of the founding fathers of the town. There is family tree that was published along with the 1990 San Juan Centennial publication and I told myself I'd help my kids figure it out for themselves where they are in the tree one of these days. But to go back to the story, my mother-in-law and my wife's cousin visited the old house a couple of times and brought home one afternoon what appears to be a stone bust of Jose Rizal.

The bust is about a foot high, three kilos, and, save for a little chip on the left cheek bone, it still bears a good likeness of Rizal's public image. I'm still trying to find out how old it is. My wife's cousin said he found it in one of the cabinets. He thought he could sell it in Ebay. But when I saw it I pled to him and to my mother-in-law to give it to me instead. I told them I have been a Rizal afficionado for quite some time. I keep a copy of the big volume Rizal In Exelcis, facsimile copies of his two famous novels in Rizal's original handwriting, Soledad Locsin's modern translations of the two novels, and probably two-thirds of Rizal's published letters. Apparently, it worked and my mother-in-law and cousin allowed me to take the Rizal bust to the office.

I asked the partners in the office to allow me to put the Rizal bust in the reception and nobody objected. Thus, for a couple of weeks now, the Rizal bust sits beside the phone and lampshade in our reception area. IN the first few days, the Rizal bust has been sort of an amusement in the office. On its first day in the office, our secretary thought it was the bust of Atty. Red Guerrero, our late founding partner, and she was frightened so to avoid the bust, she chose to use the backdoor instead. I thought that people might think that we are bunch of Rizal-crazed fanatics and was afraid that people would not take us seriously. But there is big Charlie Co painting and an Amorsolo illustration to keep Rizal company in the reception. I suppose people would figure that we are putting Rizal in the reception not for any reason but simply because he fits there. Surprisingly, no clients have yet to make a comment about it.

This brings me to the point: Was there really a time when people had Rizal's bust in their homes? Considering that the Rizal bust we have now was found in an old home in San Juan, it's really quite amusing that indeed there was such a time. Rizal's bust is a statement that we honor Rizal and we cherish his ideals. It also shows he is our universal man, our best bet for the world populated by mediocres and selfish buffoons. This brings me to another point: How come we don't see Rizal's bust in public or private offices or even in homes anymore? Have we forgotten?

Well, I hope the Rizal bust in our law office reception will help us remember.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Explaining with the Explainer

Finally, my first real post for the year, 2008.

I was asked by Manuel L. Quezon III to be the guest explainer in his show "The Explainer" in tonight's show at 6:00 pm. My task was to explain how lawyers determine the credibility of witnesses. I prepared the powerpoint presentation yesterday.

I was a nervous wreck, so I decided to arm myself with a small metal container of cognac, which my wife, Ces, bought. I wae planning to take a sip just a few minutes before showtime to calm my nerves.

When I realized it was time for it, Manolo's executive producer, Twink Macaraig, caught me taking a sip in the dressing room and said,"Do you know what that is?"

"Yes.", I said.

"It's a flask." she said.

I told myself, "Oh so that's what is called."

"People put whiskey in that." she said.

"This is brandy."I said.

"You're going on tv with that?"

I said, "No. I just needed to calm my nerves. But I normally don't get drunk."

"You want us to take that from you?"

"It's not necessary, because I am done." And then she left me with my flask. The only problem is I got more nervous instead because I didn't know it wasn't allowed.

Then, Manolo showed me the script. I realized that I wouldn't go on camera until about twenty minutes in the show, so I decided to look for the washroom.

I saw one down the hall, but it was locked. The guard told me to wait as somebody was using it. I waited for almost ten minutes, but the guy in the washroom seemed to have fallen asleep! I heard Manolo starting the show, so I decided to proceed to the studio and just prayed that I could hold my bladder until the end of the show.

So finally, it was my turn. I blanked out a couple of moments, but thank God for Manolo who helped me recover my wits and finish the show.

Youtube clips to follow later. There will be replays on Saturday, February at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, channel 26 ABS-CBN News Channel.

Just to repeat what I said earlier in the show. It's really hard to tell if Jun Lozada is credible until the persons he is accusing of committing a crime have been given a chance to cross-examine him in the proper court.

But in the meantime, putting aside my lawyer hat, I love Jun Lozada. I think he is sincere. We should support his crusade.

Monday, January 07, 2008