Sunday, June 24, 2018
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With Due Respect

Prayer amid crisis, pain; EJA remembered

Many readers, friends and relatives ask why I have not publicly commented on the elephant in the room: the quo warranto ouster of CJ Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno. Like many retired colleagues, I have also respectfully declined requests for TV, radio and other public interviews.

Family elder: The question, I think, should be restated more accurately: What does one do when one’s beloved family (or institution) is wracked by internal dissension, serious crisis and excruciating pain? Be holier than thou and sermonize? Mock and find fault? Rejoice and justify? Or grieve, listen quietly, give private counsel to those who seek it, and pray fervently?

As for me, amid crisis and pain, I turned to theologian-ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer: “Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept those I cannot, and wisdom to know the difference.”

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After answering the searching questions of some incumbent colleagues, I thought, as a family elder, that in deference to their right to privacy I should be silent while they formulated their final positions. A sense of propriety, of delicadeza, barred me from revealing private conversations. After all, by giving my best advice to them, I have tried as prudently as I could to “change the things I can.”

Even to His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, who texted me from Bangkok when news of the ouster broke on May 11, I replied only very briefly with a plea that when he returns to the country and after the dust has settled, “I could provide [him] a more extensive and balanced view…” To which he replied, “Thanks po and we pray po.”

Today, I make the same plea: I will in time and at the proper occasion answer queries. As of now, the decision is not yet final, as the Court is yet to tackle the motion for reconsideration that CJ Sereno said she would file and the Senate’s resolution on quo warranto.

Four decades of friendship. This respite gives me space to write my remembrances of former Senate president Edgardo J. Angara. I first met EJA, Ed, or Edong in 1979 when he was elected president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

I joined him when he organized and became the founding president of the Asean Law Association (or ALA) in 1980. Since then, I have continuously attended ALA activities. In fact, ALA, where I am the current chair of the Philippine chapter, is the only law organization I am still active in.

In 1982, as president of the University of the Philippines, he gave me a miniature replica of the UP Oblation, as his token of appreciation for my arranging the donation to UP of a fire truck from Japan.

Though not a UP alumnus, I treasure the Oblation because my classmates at Mapa High School and I used to go to the UP campus in the 1950s. Before the Oblation, we promised one another that we would enroll at UP for college. Though granted a UP scholarship, I unfortunately had to forego this ambition. But, though I was not a UP alumnus, Ed helped in enrolling me as an honorary member of the UP Chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society.

Caring friend. And even if I have never been a legislator, he—as conference chair — recruited me to serve as program chair of the International Conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, or Gopac, held here in January 2013.

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On June 30, 2012, he invited me, although already retired, to be the guest of honor and speaker during the three-day grand celebration of the “113th Anniversary of the Historic Siege of Baler, the 10th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day and the 200th-Year Anniversary of the Cadiz Constitution” held in Baler, Aurora. He flew in the diplomatic corps and Spanish luminaries especially for those rites.

Our latest association was at the Metrobank Foundation where he was a trustee and I am chair of the board of advisers. Many cite him as an outstanding lawyer, banker, constitution drafter, lawmaker, educator, Cabinet member, diplomat, patriot and, according to Sen. Migz Zubiri, “one of the best presidents we could have had.” Yes, he is all that, but in my case, I fondly remember him as a humble, thoughtful and caring friend.

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

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TAGS: artemio v. panganiban, Edgarda J. Angara, With Due Respect
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