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Human Face

Foil to evil brothers Abinicio and Quoranto

/ 05:20 AM January 10, 2019

They are a foil to “Evil Stepbrothers Abinicio and Quoranto” (ab initio and quo warranto), if I may use a Grimmesque allusion to dark folklore or, why not, an allusion to Dostoyevsky’s characters.

In story plots, a foil is a character that is in contrast to another character, someone whose particular qualities contrasts those of another, especially the “kontrabida.”

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The foil are the four brave judges who are the Inquirer’s 2018 Filipinos of the Year. The Sunday Inquirer article’s blurb said of them: “By their decisions on certain critical cases, Regional Trial Court Judges Rodolfo Azucena Jr., Arlene Lirag Palabrica, Andres Soriano and Alexander Tamayo have fired up the despondent imagination and provided leeway for the public to think that things can possibly get better, that there might be a way out of this slough.”

“This slough” being the legal morass that many cases have sunk into, cases that shout to this woebegone nation that might is right and that impunity rules.

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Take the quo warranto case against Supreme Court Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno that led to her ouster, as decided by several of her own colleagues, no less. Take the ab initio case against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, President Duterte’s archcritic, that the former’s chief accuser is using to hark back to more than a decade ago… And so on, ad absurdum.

Last Sunday’s Inquirer article on Azucena, Palabrica, Soriano and Tamayo tells us about why they were picked and, in a side bar, how the Inquirer’s editors and subeditors chose them among the nominees, but the story bears repeating.

Still, I must note how the Inquirer did not even have a proper photo file of each of them, so that photos used in the article were “contributed photos,” with one photo from a Twitter account. None of them was in a judge’s robe, and except for Tamayo who was in a dark suit and cropped from a group photo, the rest were in casual clothes and caught in snapshots. They looked like anybody, unguarded, no frills. That said a lot, and I liked it.

This means that these four judges were not in the media limelight, so unlike most politicians, but unbeknownst to the four, the Inquirer was silently “profiling” them for consideration for 2018 Filipinos of the Year. They must have been stunned when they woke up to the news, though muttering under their morning breath that they were just doing their job, doing what was right according to their conscience.

Palabrica ordered the release on  Dec. 1, 2018, of ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Bayan Muna president Satur Ocampo and 16 others who were arrested, detained and absurdly charged with kidnapping, trafficking and abuse of “lumad” kids. Though the police balked, Palabrica insisted that, with no information filed in court and with respondents presumed innocent with bail posted, “their supreme right to liberty must be upheld.”

Tamayo presided at the trial of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and his coaccused in the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines student activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. The text of his decision narrated in blood-curdling detail how Palparan acted in relation to the “most degrading and inhumane tortures done to Karen and Sherlyn….”

After a speedy six-month trial, Azucena sentenced PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz and PO1 Jeremias Pereda to up to 40 years in prison with no possibility of parole for killing 17-year-old Kian delos Santos who, according to witness accounts, begged the cops to spare his life. Delos Santos gave a name and a face to the brutal drug war of the Duterte administration.

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Soriano ruled that Trillanes had indeed filed a proper application for amnesty and had admitted guilt for the military mutiny he led in 2003, 2006 and 2007. This was contrary to the reopening of cases filed by the Department of Justice against Trillanes, Solicitor General Jose Calida’s ab initio idea.

These were cases that people followed with keen interest but thought would go the way of most that involved government and underdogs, the powerful and the powerless.

Fiat justitia ruat caelum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.

Send feedback to cerespd@gmail.com.

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TAGS: ab initio, Alexander Tamayo, Andres Soriano, Antonio Trillanes IV, Arlene Lirag Palabrica, Human Face, Inquirer's 2018 Filipinos of the Year, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Quo warranto, Rodolfo Azucena Jr.
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