I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Article 12

Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks

Maribel Gaite’s letter reminded me that this right doesn’t just exist in my head. And we’re not just talking of Manny Gaite either. We’re talking about everyone, from the sainted Jun Lozada to the people everyone else would love to consider as being lower than pond scum.

In fact, the guarantee of the right is more essential for those who are hated by the public.


Three years after he defended the soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre, John Adams wrote in his diary:

March 5, 1773:
(The third anniversary of the Boston Massacre)

“The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.“This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies.”

Everyone knew those Preston and those soldiers had killed the civilians. All of Boston wanted to see them dead for their actions. But Adams sacrificed a burgeoning legal and political career to provide these men a legal defense – an act which he considered “disinterested service to the Country.”

Obviously, Adams knew that ‘service to the country’ did not simply mean doing what the inflamed passions of the time required. It meant looking beyond that and adhering to the highest aspirations of the country as a whole, regardless of how un-politic it was at that time. This is why I, to borrow a phrase from a noted blogger, can’t help but cast a cold eye on people who insist that this whole NBN-ZTE thing is a political thing which has moved beyond “legalism.”

In Adams’ case, the issue was the righteousness of a death penalty for soldiers everybody knew were guilty. Adams argued that death was too harsh considering the circumstances (self-defense and all that). His determination to argue even that distinction, in the face of overwhelming rage from the public, puts to shame all those who are all for throwing away legal considerations of due process for people who’s guilt have not yet been proven, and solely on the word of one man who has never even been inside an impartial courtroom.


Filed under: musings, politics, Quick Posts, ,

10 Responses

  1. Carl says:

    Check out Manolo Quezon’s column in the PDI today, where he argues that the the court of public opinion – not court of law – matters here because at stake is the president’s office, which is not a right, but a privelege accorded by the public.

    It makes me uncomfortable to fathom it but apparently democracy works like that.

    The moment you hold a public office, you become part of politics. And this NBN issue is just one example how politics can only be for those with a strong stomach. It’s surprising that Mrs. Gaite, considering she’s been married to one who has served 4 presidents, has not developed a tough stomach.

  2. Carl says:

    Bro. Armin of DLSU is ma-papel. During the Hello Garci scandal, he dragged La Salle’s reputation by calling GMA to resign. The Faculty censured him by saying that the whole university does not share his opinion and that the university must stay apolitical.

    It’s ok to call a mass in support of morality and transparency; but to call one to support efforts to topple the government, hell no. Calling a president to resign does not equal calling for honesty and transparency in the government. It’s important to make that distinction. The former is a political action based on public perception that the government has lost its mandate. But to judge the morality of a public official’s action requires more than public perception.

  3. shiro says:

    at this point, it is of paramount importance that the situation does not devolve into one of personalities, but that it remains into one of issues. are we treading down the moron’s path yet again?

  4. BrianB says:

    Hey ROM, unseating a President is not a violation of her Human Rights. You have got to be kidding me. Public office is not a right, public office is first and foremost in the service of the public. Personalities, ideally, should not count. Honor is established not through minute details but through results. I may sound sexist here, but you must be man enough to take responsibility on bad results even if technically you DID NOTHING wrong. Take a leaf from British gentlemen. No one expects the entire truth to come out but being responsible does not just mean steering clear from temptation. The duty of presidents and high-ranking officials is not limited to KEEPING THEIR NOSES clean. They are in charge of the entire institution. Kung may kurakot sa institution – let me put it in a more genteel way: kung may KURAKUTANG nagyayari, it is their duty to clean this kurakutan up. The buck stops at the hghest ranking of these officials.

    Like I said before, a reasonable amount of evidence, circumstantial even, is enough. The evidence against Arroyo is not mere hypotheses, it is not imagination. The evidence does not just make a lot of sense. The evidence points to the low-cost housing project that never pushed through. It points to Lozada’s avoiding a Senate hearing in the first place, never mind the kidnapping. This is more than enough to unseat a president.

    You are protecting the honor of public servants, ROM?

  5. BrianB says:

    Carl, part of public office is trusting in the people. The people, public officials have to assume, are moral and good. Kung ganito na puro onion-skinned ang public officials kagaguhan na yan. Rich people, when they are being disparaged by people poorer than they, would always hide behind the argument that poor people are simply jealous of them. When our public officials suffer from negative public opinion, they hide behind their right to privacy. Imagine this scenario in the US and Europe.

    You have to see it in its most logical sense. Being President should be more important to the people than to the president herself. Hindi property ni GMA and presidency. Winning an election is not like winning an award, it is not like getting a promotion. It is public service. Hindi sila hari. Why worry about their honor? Are you the kind of person who thinks that presidents should not be judged? Powerful people should be judged, they should be judged on a daily basis. Damn, I get judged on a daily basis and I have nothing to do with the lives of the people who judge me, president pa kaya?

  6. BrianB says:

    ROM, I sounded too aggressive above and I apologize, but I do find something wrong with the comparison of foot soldiers with presidents and cabinet members.

    I think you’re also forgetting this isn’t the first time the president was accused of an impeachable offense. I actually have nothing against her personally up until she lied on Rizal Day and ran again. Then there was the Hello Garci, which really appalled me. Then she got away unharmed, which is… Jesus Christ, unbelievable! Then Lozada and the entire cabinet being gagged by her from speaking, explaining to the legislative.

  7. rom says:

    brianb: you misunderstand me. I am not talking of unseating gloria. i was referring to the honor of people who are being mixed in with the shit storm lozada is spewing. that’s my beef. the seemingly unmitigated trust everyone is putting on this man.

    did you watch harapan? There was a point there when the guy from the MBC – otherwise a staunch supporter of Lozada – bristled when he heard Lozada mention Bertie Lim. He asked Lozada to clarify what to me also sounded like an implication of Bertie Lim in the cover-up surrounding the NBN deal. Lozada seemed to realize that he was about to lose an ally, so he quickly absolved Lim, and the MBC guy loved him again.

    The point is this: when supporters feel their friends threatened, they are quick to defend the honor and rights of their friends and so demand proof and substantiation and all the due process accessories you are just as quick to dismiss. but when their friends are cleared by lozada the oracle, they slip back into the old attitude of swallowing everything lozada says, hook, line and sinker.

    what i’m saying, bri, is that we should all adopt the same willingness to spring to defense of the honor of everyone, even if they are not our friends. even if we know squat about them or their personalities or their personal circumstances. we defend them simply because everyone, no matter how hated, deserves to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

  8. rom says:

    brianb: it’s okay, bri. 😀 by the way, I recently started up a network for bloggers who – like you and me – enjoy writing about politics. join up, wilya? I would love to see you write there. it’s at http(colon)//republicofpundits(dot)ning(dot)com

  9. BrianB says:

    But the presidents fate and wrong-doings extends to her cabinet, you know that.

  10. rom says:

    brianb: as you said, everyone’s gotta man up and accept responsibility for their own wrongdoings. or is everyone given the get-out-jail-free card simply because they cop out and say “gloria/mike made me do it?”

    which is why i’m all for dragging these cabinet men and quasi-cabinet men to court to hold them accountable. in the process, real evidence of presidential complicity can be revealed. to describe the legal maneuvering that can make that happen is quite beyond me at this point, but study the case of jeff wigand. he couldn’t go after the cigarette companies directly so he attacked their perjury when they said they didn’t know cigarettes were addictive.

    or what about erin brokovich? she brought down a big company by proving that the mother company knew that their plant was leaching deadly minerals into the ground water – poisoning people – and did nothing about it.

    that’s how you unseat gloria – you can do it before 2010, you can do it by street action, but you’d still be well justified. Even when you go beyond the process, you should do it in ways recognized by the process as an acceptable reason for doing so. That sounds contradictory, but it believe me, it isn’t. Think guns on a plane.

    A marshall on a plane carries a gun – ordinarily a big no-no. He has it, but he is not authorized to even pull it out unless a pre-defined condition sets in, say, a crazy man pulling out a bomb and a clear shot presenting itself. Unless these two conditions are present, the system (the rule governing the marshall’s use of a weapon) says “descalate the situation without force.” But once the conditions are satisfied, the system itself says “ok, the system has failed. go beyond it and use your gun.”

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