Finally, a USC Carolinian makes it to the SC

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 5, 2019 - 12:00am

With Typhoon “Tisoy” gone, we can all go back to cheer what is left with our hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG). But I really have some good news to report to our readers and it is not related to SEAG… It is the appointment by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte of two Appellate Justices to the Supreme Court (SC) notably Justice Edgardo Delos Santos and Justice Mario Lopez to replace Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who retired on Sept. 26 and Oct. 26, respectively. Both were sworn by Pres. Duterte last Tuesday.

These appointments are very crucial in the sense that they are Pres. Duterte’s 7th and 8th, appointments respectively, out of the current 15-member composition of the high court, a clear majority who will decide on pending crucial cases involving the administration. This comes at a time when the SC is getting petitions challenging the legality of the anti-drug operation Oplan Tokhang, and the Philippines’ withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) are before the highest judicial body. In my book, I don’t think that there are legalities that the SC has to look into these two cases, as they are clearly decisions done by the Philippine government.

Meanwhile Justice Edgardo Delos Santos is a graduate of the University of San Carlos in Cebu where he earned his bachelor of laws degree. He is the first Carolinian in the SC. Carolinians are what students of the University of San Carlos (USC) are called and it ironically comes quite timely in the sense that USC has already topped the bar with 10 bar topnotchers getting the top in 2016 and 2017. Justice Delos Santos initially served as a municipal trial court judge in Dumaguete and later became regional trial court judge in Bacolod before his appointment to the appellate court.

These are indeed proud days for Carolinians. After graduating in USC Boy’s High School (BHS) years later, I took up law in USC and on my third year, my father passed away on Nov. 27, 1979. During his long wake, when I returned to my class, Dean Fulvio Pelaez told me that I had to go back to third year since I was absent three straight days. But my father’s wake took seven days and I told the dean that he was a friend of my father. Unfortunately, he denied my petition so it ended my ambition to become a lawyer. So Sir Max Soliven discovered me and turned me into a journalist, and God gave me a son-in-law Atty. Jennoh Tequillo to marry my eldest daughter. Whatever doors God closes, he opens a new door in our lives.

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At long last, Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after vandals for disregarding the law and defacing government properties. The DILG Secretary also gave the arrest order for four members of Panday Sining, including a minor for painting over an LRT post last Bonifacio Day “just and lawful.” Finally, the government has put an end to nosy activists who deface our public walls to send the message of their ideology on the streets. They are no different from those who paint graffiti on our walls.

The DILG chief pointed out that authorities already gave the group a warning when it painted Lagusnilad overpass last month, but the group went on with their protest art in different places in Manila. “Instead of stopping, they went on defacing their surroundings. They are not listening to the authorities. This is too much. Enough.” Vandalism is prohibited in the City of Manila under Ordinance No. 7971, which penalizes any person who defaces public and private property.

Of course, Panday Sining said the protest was done in the context of “de facto martial law” and the government’s operations against legal activist groups in its “whole of nation approach” against communist rebels. They also say that “Protest art in the time of narrowing space for free and critical thinking is not only just but necessary.” To be totally blunt about it… there was no art in defacing the Lagusnilad.

Meanwhile, the DILG Chief stressed that while the government “respects their groups’ freedom of expression, such as freedom is bounded by rules and regulations in order to ensure law and order.” DILG Chief Año also added, “Don’t make Metro Manila a big drawing board or canvass. There are a lot of ways to express your insights and your incessant painting over the walls of Manila is not included in them.”

To be totally frank about it… defacing public walls has always been the way that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Demographic Front (NDF) way of sending their message to the Filipino people. But government has never stopped them until finally the DILF under Gen. Eduardo Año has put a stop into this!

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