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Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Not A Lawyer

Watching the impeachment trial a little more closely this week than when it began, one question began to dawn on me: are lawyers there just to complicate things?

It may seem rhetorical, and even funny. But seeing some senator judges and lawyers act this past week, I gather they enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices just a little too much, almost as much as dazzling (in their minds, at least) the audience both in the halls where the trial is taking place as well as those watching them through other media.

On the cab ride home last night, the AM radio was turned on, and at that very moment, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was reacting - with extreme irritation evident - to reports that the trial has become a spectacle of technicalities, with no one getting any clarification about anything. She then expounded on how the law is all about technicalities, that lawyers had to go through how many years of studying to weather the intricacies of the legal labyrinth, and that those who know nothing about law or have not studied it enough should essentially just butt out, and called people who criticized her as nagdudunung-dunungan.

(Photo courtesy of

The cab driver caught my eye, and said it plainly: "Di naman ako abogado."

It brought home a singular point: it is we, the people, who are after the truth. We, the overwhelming majority, the ones who did not go to law school. The ones who voted these senators into power. The ones who are now demanding something basic and something very simple.

The truth.



Much of what we have seen from the tactics of the defense team has been subterfuge, confoundment, endless objections, even the ability to make up unfounded rumors of bribing on the part of the executive department, with the impeachment court practically doing nothing about it, aided in no small part by the perception that senators like Santiago and Arroyo have been taking their cues from the defense panel as to what they will "make manifest".

I remember Chief Justice Corona saying he has nothing to hide, that he will gladly prove to everyone that he is innocent of all the charges hurled against him in the impeachment trial. Then his team proceeds to block every possible avenue to verify his innocence. This smacks to me of the Bart Simpson defense: No one saw me do anything, you can't prove it.

The cab driver helped me distill this trial into a simple question, and a simple quest. We are not lawyers. We are citizens of a democratic country, whose public officials, whether elected or appointed - and I would say especially those who are appointed - should be made accountable, especially since WE pay their salaries. We have the RIGHT to know.

Save your legal doublespeak somersaults for your annual lawyers' convention. The truth is always at its most elegant at its simplest.

At the end of the day, a particular saying should guide us always, something I find to be applicable whether you are a student, a lawyer, a priest, even a senator.

People may not always believe what you say, but they'll always believe what you do.

Or in the case of the Chief Justice, what he doesn't do.


  1. Oh, I'm sure that each time the cameras are trained on them, they play to the audience as well. I just wish they could drop all the legalese sometimes and make the issues understandable to ordinary folk like us. As you put it, "Save your legal doublespeak somersaults for your annual lawyers' convention. The truth is always at its most elegant at its simplest."

    1. As always, the Observer's Paradox is at work: When there are cameras, suddenly everyone's an actor. Kulang nalang maglupasay.

      I guess no one wants to heed Occam's Razor.

  2. I beg to differ. We can not really have our cake and eat it too. If the defense shed their legalese, what is their use to the impeachment court, a mere decoration? I think people have just to be informed that they have to live with the litigious nature of the proceeding and no to pander to their inane desire to simplify things to their level. The lawyers may get circumlocutory in their assiverations but just the same they have to use all the tactics and gambits at their disposal.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      While we obviously do not see eye to eye on this issue, I think we can agree that this is a question of which to value more, an age-old question: Form (your stance) or Substance (My stance). The legal terms they use to say the same thing is that this is a battle between the Procedural (Form) versus Substantive (Substance).

      And, of course, it is highly personal, what we value more.

  3. The lawyer professionals may get circumlocutory in their asseveration but just the same they have to use all the methods and gambits at their convenience.

    one call that's all