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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Aguirre: Deja Vu To Celdran's Damaso

Is there anyone who wasn't left open mouthed by yesterday's word war between Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and private prosecutor Atty. Vitiliano Aguirre?

The day started with the usual pleasantries: the lady senator, expectedly, showcasing her complete mastery of the law, berating the prosecution team, calling them GAGO, (a local cussword which I'm not sure how to translate in English...anyone?) calling them mayabang (haughty) for declaring their evidence strong enough to be able to rest their case. And, since this is Sen. Santiago, her speeches are punctuated by actual cases decided by the Supreme Court, and the reading of pertinent provisions to her current oratorical focus.

I did not know of Atty. Aguirre until I saw footage of him being led out of the impeachment trial.

We also know what sparked this verbal tussle, leading to Aguirre being cited in contempt of the (impeachment) court:

(Photo courtesy of

When asked by presiding judge Sen. Enrile to explain his actions, he readily admitted his intent:

Kung nakasakit ang actuations ko po, I really did it purposely because totoo naman po na shrill ang voice, nasasaktan ang tenga ko...Dapat po lamang na kahit senador ay judges at kami'y hamak na prosecutors, ang pinaka-importante sa isang tao ay respeto. If you demand respect dapat respetuhin mo rin ang abugadong ito sapagkat ang human dignity walang kapalit.

(More here:

After being cited in contempt by the entire impeachment court, Sen. Santiago walked over to where Atty. Aguirre was standing, while saying "Nanghahamon ka..." (You are challenging me). Unfortunately, I cannot attach the video where she is shown doing this for technical reasons, but you will find it for certain in the video footage of the news channels in their websites.

At that instance, I began looking for (world boxing champion) Rep. Manny Pacquiao. Mukhang may bakbakan na mangyayari. (It looked like the beginning of a fistfight.)

I do want to state, for the record, that I think Atty. Aguirre was wrong in acting the way he did, and for this reason: He should have shown the lady senator what it means to act with dignity in the face of the verbal lashings she has lavishly bestowed on the prosecution team since Day One. (Talk about the gift that doesn't stop giving.)

Yes, we all know that judges are gods in the courtroom - this case being no more obvious than with the current Supreme Court - and gods need no reason to explain their actions. In any of the religions and myths, humans are left to grapple - those lucky to be alive, anyway - with the question of Why after receiving seemingly random acts of cruelty from those believed to be of divine origin, whether it is the Christian God who engulfs the world with a massive flood, or Zeus practicing his aim with the famed thunderbolts.

Atty. Aguirre seems to be perfectly aware of this, and proceeded with his act of defiance, despite it.

A seemingly simple act that jolted the entire court off its feet.

Not unlike famed tour guide Carlos Celdran holding up the DAMASO placard inside a Catholic Church, protesting the continued interference of its religious leaders in the running of this country and the crafting and implementation of its laws.

(Photo courtesy of

One shot, one pose, and it captures what transpired in both of these events. Some parallels I see are the following:

1. Both were protesting against authoritative bodies: Celdran against the Catholic hierarchy, Aguirre against the impeachment court.

2. Both were accused of being disrespectful: Celdran for "offending religious feelings", and was incarcerated briefly, with a pending case; Aguirre for being "in contempt of court", punishment to be decided later.

3. Both were members of the institutions they expressed their defiance to: Celdran is a Catholic, Aguirre is a lawyer in the impeachment trial.

4. Both have commented their intended parties as shrill: Celdran for the shrill insistence of the Catholic hierarchy that this country's secular laws bend and bow before Catholic doctrine, effectively making us a theocracy; Aguirre, for the shrill voice of Sen. Santiago hurting his ears.

5. Both the Catholic hierarchy and the impeachment court perceived as valuing the wrong thing: Catholic leaders wish to protect their hold on this country by forcibly rewriting our laws, espousing (their) morality, disregarding the concepts of separation of state and church and the freedom to choose one's religion; (some) members of the impeachment court (judges) intent on upholding rules and technicalities, disregarding the search for the truth regarding the fitness of the Chief Justice to maintain his current position, which was acquired illegally, against the Constitution.

6. Both the Catholic hierarchy and the impeachment court see themselves in godlike fashion, never to be challenged, lest you be called a heretic or be held in contempt; their words are the "final authority", you cannot appeal to anyone; their actions not needing any explanation owing to their supposed stature of infallibility; they demand blanket authority; many times, they are, in fact, guilty of the very offenses they accuse us poor mortals of - sexual indiscretions on the part of the Catholic hierarchy, kabastusan (disrespectful behavior) unbecoming of one's profession in the case of some judges in the impeachment court.

7. Both the Catholic hierarchy and the impeachment court are a "select" group deciding on the fate of millions: millions of Catholic believers as to what they should practice, millions of citizens as to what passes for legally accepted.

8. Both claim "privilege" in their discussions of policies that will affect millions of lives.

9. Claiming something as  religious does not make it moral, ethical or right. Claiming something as legal does not make it moral, ethical or right.

10. Both the Catholic hierarchy and impeachment court cannot stop us from making our own informed decisions. (Interestingly enough, another parallel is that both seem to be obsessed with the restriction of information that will be made publicly available.)

And before I forget one more parallel, here it is:

In both cases, it is us, the people, who truly wield the power.


  1. Thank you for taking the time out to write this thoughtful piece.

    -Gang Badoy

    1. Thank you for reading my blogpost, Gang. Now I can say that I only have one degree of separation from you :) (through your sis, Doc Wee)