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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Miriam As Terrorist

In which "terrorist" is defined as "sowing terror in other lawyers and lawmakers".

(Photo courtesy of

Who doesn't know of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago? The picture above encapsulates what I think of whenever her name is mentioned: A finger raised for emphasis of a legal point being expounded, that stern, almost constipated look, that accent which I still can't see anyone perfecting in an impersonation act (I wonder if famed impersonator Jon Santos does or can do a good one?), and the vocabulary and speech: loquacious, verbose, prone to archaic references we mortals will never understand - nor want to - and, how do I say this last one without hurting anyone's feelings...oh, yes.


You may argue that she is merely showcasing what she has spent her whole life studying. (And also teaching in the University of the Philippines, where she also earned her law degree.) Yes, but an incident this past week at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona served to remind us where she is coming from.

A pedestal.

She gave prosecutor Congressman Neil Tupas a "grade of 3", which means "I pass you, but I warn you", subjecting him to a lengthy "lecture" on foreign currency deposits in the country.

I am by no means a fan of Tupas, he and his team have been largely perceived with the following words: bumbling, neophytes, ill-prepared, tongue-tied. They must have done everything wrong already by this week of the trial. It doesn't help that they are pitted against a former Supreme Court Justice who would be one of the few lawyers who can go toe to toe with Miriam on the legal expertise front, Atty. Serafin Cuevas.

(Story here:

But for her to berate him, and to talk him down, as a senator-judge of the trial, treating him as an undergraduate in college while assuming the role of learned magistrate and professor, doesn't speak well of her character.

She could have merely pointed out what legal loopholes Tupas failed to consider that would allow Corona to withhold declaring the amounts in his bank accounts. She could have reminded him that Corona is using the law to his advantage, not an undue one, but one that is available to anyone else. She could have asked for a better argument, a stronger one, one that would render her speechless - wait, there isn't one invented yet to achieve that purpose.

Instead, she reveled in her "supposed" expertise: in the vernacular, wala ka sa kalingkingan ko. (The closest translation I can give is "You measure a mere pittance to the immense breadth of my gargantuan knowledge of the law.")

Her treatment of Tupas indicates one full of herself, one who thinks her amassing this much legal knowledge makes her a "better human" than the next lawyer, or even next layman, for that matter. Mixing this much ego with this much intelligence - can anyone say "megalomaniac"?

Many things in life are more important than an IQ score. Chief among them is how you use your intelligence - does it serve to help find meaning, and in this particular instance (impeachment trial), does it serve to illuminate, reveal, lay bare the truth? Or is this much intelligence employed to divert from the truth, do immense legal somersaults, obscure, make things muddled, to obfuscate beyond recognition?

We are in the classroom of life, Senator. There are no numeric grades to be given, because as adults, we are responsible for our actions. And there are no "repeats" or "warnings" in the real world, we take things as they come, based both on our actions and by circumstances. Not everyone is impressed with excess verbiage.

I wish all lawyers would be required to recite Occam's Razor as their oath.


  1. Hello. I stumbled to your blog via Raissa Robles' blog. Super like this entry. Nakakapikon si Miriam. Sige na Miriam, ikaw na ang magaling. Just shut up.

  2. E Brenda nga, if im not mistaken histrionic narcissistic si Miriam ang impaktum sa senadum. No doubt shes brilliant but to look down on ur colleague in public shows what kind of a personality you have and in Brendas case distorted.Di malaman kun maka CJ o maka impeachment pero sya agi ang bumabankao Di ba, di nga daw bar top notcher to kaya nga ang anak di ba nagpakamatay, maskin sinong anak ganun ang gagawin kun araw arawin ka ba naman hiyain hahaha

  3. Can't wait for that arrogant woman to pop a vein...

  4. I can't help but agree.