Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was first published in Interaksyon.com on March 6, 2012.
I no longer know what universe I’m in – Sen. Miriam Santiago after her confrontation with Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre III
The Corona impeachment trial recessed on a sour note because Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre III of the prosecution panel reacted strongly to a senator’s tirades. Atty. Aguirre should have known better than to react to anything the senator says because she will always have the last word, right or wrong, by virtue of her position as senator-judge. Now if he wants to tangle with her in a forum where they are on equal footing then that’s up to him, but most people who are in their right mind will just keep on walking.
I admire Atty. Aguirre’s courage. However, if I were in his place, I would have manifested my contempt differently. That way if one of the senator’s fellow judges were to call her attention to it I would be able to offer an explanation that would express my contempt without being disrespectful.
This is how the dialogue with the senator would have transpired if I were Atty. Aguirre.
“Explain before this Ahnorabol Court why you were pinching your nose while I was speaking!”
“Spicy pollo loco, poh, Your Honor.”
“Whaaah? Are you calling me a crazy chicken? Hmmp, ‘kala mo yata di ako maka-inchende ng Kastila. Hoy, gago ka, I am not a chicken. Matapang ako, I eat death threats for breakfast, baka hindi mo alam. ”
“Your Honor, I did not call you chicken, I know that you eat death threats for breakfast. With all due respect, Your Honor, the air became toxic while you were speaking and I began to feel bilious. I did not want to vomit on my colleague’s lap so I pinched my nose.”
“Colleague, c-o-l-l-e-a-g-u-e, poh, Your Honor.”
“That’s pronounced kah-lig! I give you a grade of three on prahnanshiyayshon. Yan ang hirap sa inyong mga abogado pa inglis-inglis pa kayo hindi naman kayo nag-aral sa Chicago katulad ko. Ang yayabang ninyo kala ninyo maganda ang inglis ninyo eh ang titigas naman ng mga dila ninyo.”
“I am sorry Your Honor. May I continue?”
“Proceed. Prastrayte yourself before this Ahnorabol Court and explain why we should not hold you in kan-temp.”
“Yun na nga poh, Your Honor, the air became toxic…”
“It’s tak-sik not toxic! I’m warning you, you are raising my blad preyshure!”
“I submit, Your Honor. The air became taksik and I did not want to throw up on my kahlig’s lap so I pinched my nose.”
“Are you are accusing me of polluting the air? Hinahamon mo ba ako?”
“Your Honor please, my kahlig sitting here beside me ate some pollo loco burritos for lunch and he let out some gas so the air turned taksik and I became nauseated. I am sorry if Your Honor thought that I held my nose in reaction to her speech. I assure you I did not. I was simply reacting to something that stank. I am also sorry if pinching my nose while you were speaking coincided with what may have been in everybody’s mind. I did not intend for that to happen. I have no control over that, Your Honor.”
Atty. Aguirre aggravated an already tense situation when he lectured the senator on judicial conduct right in her home turf. He should have waited for a press conference, forum, or fish-ball party where the two of them would be on equal footing. Then he can read to her Rule 3 sec 4 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, in a shrill tone of voice of course.
“A judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and others appearing before the court. A judge should avoid unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants are made for the courts, instead of the courts for the litigants.”
Beam her up, Scotty.