Reaction by Senator Saguisag

With permission, here is an e-mail sent to me by Rene Saguisag, a former Senator and Cabinet official, in reaction to my article A Legal Disobedience, which appeared in the 27 May 2011 issue of BusinessWorld. Note that it contains - to my utter frustration - the one line (that uttered by St. Thomas More) I should have logically put in the article but bizarrely forgot to do so. That alone shows why Senator Saguisag is the far better writer than I am:

Dear Jemy:

Edifying, what you wrote today on disobedience.

I applaud Manny Pacquiao for supporting our Church on RH. But, is he just being sandbagged as a polite guest? And he is unlike Muhammad Ali, who put himself where his mouth is, in conscientious objection and refused to serve in the military. Does Manny have the time and inclination to study when his handlers say to ready for the next match in the Manly Art of Modified Murder? Or concert? Study takes time - to avoid being told in effect na huwag daw pong makialam sa usapan ng mga matatanda.

We may risk prison terms to raise a moral issue. In that sense, disobedience is not in accord with a law perceived as unjust. On June 26, 2005, after Garci, the Inquirer headlined my tax revolt call. I started making amends only after PNoy was sworn in. Antigone, in ancient times, said never surrender one's conscience to the State; in burying her brother, she defied Creon's law but not the superior unwritten law.

In the early 80's, we boycotted elections. Anding Roces, who just passed away, was prosecuted. MABINI defended him. Makati municipal Judge Elo Ynares- Santiago acquitted him, at a time when the Supreme Court (SC) was so accepting. (Elo is a retired SC Justice, and could replace Mercy Gutierrez but the Consti is wise in saying at 70, no more long-term jobs, ad hoc tasks maybe.) Anding's defense: "The right to vote comes from the State. The right not to vote comes from God. Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and to God what is God's."

The Comelec, scratching its head, charged him. Elo mooted the cry of Boadbil's mother on seeing her son weep when sent to exile, last turning to look at the beloved Granada he had lost, in 1492, on the spot now known as El Ultimo Suspiro del Moro - The Last Sigh of the Moor. "Weep not like a woman," she reproved, "for the loss of a kingdom you could not defend as a man." The late Chit Estella was said to write "like a man." In my case, I say, no Rene, sans a gutsy principled Dulce, believing that life, liberty, family, security, work and comfort did matter, but there were things that mattered more, which we greatly wanted.

At a time of great want, Manny Pacquiao spends ostentatiously in his seemingly never-ending parties. It is the time he spends on lawmaking that matters, not the millions spent ostentatiously, on nation-wide TV at that. He was even honored by the House he disrespects (or at least, he does not take seriously). But is he really our anti-RH poster boy?

Peshawataro was a young Indian brave who decided that kidnapping a neighboring tribe maiden for sacrifice must end; he freed an abducted girl and returned her to her people. He rode back, submitting himself to his fellows, who did nothing. It was time to stop the folly. They had only needed an act of such courage to make that clear. Girouard v. U.S. involved an alien seeking naturalization but who had made it clear that as a pacifist, he would assume no military combat role. The U.S. SC said in 1946 that "the Bill of Rights recognizes that in the domain of conscience there is a moral power higher than the State." Nixon's first pardon was to commute a prison term of a New York neurosurgeon who, heeding his conscience, had refused to pay taxes and gave the money to blacks.

If my Church goes for Civil Disobedience, amen. The King's good servant, but God's first. Let's protect babies who cannot lobby or vote. Poverty requires RH? What might I have become as a rich kid? We seven siblings had the advantage of poverty, driving us to get a good education and develop street smarts, to help give our people a better life. The Good Lord takes care of the lilies of the field like me, even if it took the 2007 passage of my Dulce for me, as co-heir, and star boarder, to be able to sleep under the roof of a house I can call my own, for the first time in my life, ever. I live in Palanan, Makati, where there could be five simultaneous wakes, on the streets, telling the short and simple annals of the poor. They are lilies.

Have a good weekend.

Rene Saguisag UIOGD