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Why some people are stoning Gen. Bato

  • Written by AngeloTugado
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 284

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Today being a Sunday, let me start on an inspirational note. If there’s anything action star Robin Padilla and Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda Acosta have in common, it’s the tenacity to never give up amid daunting odds that could have crushed lesser mortals.

With the struggles they went through during their darkest episodes in life, their tenacity is a shining testament to the indomitable human spirit’s capacity to conquer adversities and emerged triumphant and transformed. Their success in rising after falling shows the redeeming power of second chances, or even a third chance, to make it in life.

In the ongoing vetting of candidates for the Supreme Court, Acosta is being eyed by the Judicial and Bar Council and her entry to the list of possible nominees has raised a question: Could someone who flunked the Bar exams become a magistrate of the highest court in the land?

No one who took the Bar more than once has ever been appointed to the Supreme Court. And Acosta has failed in the exam for lawyers not only once, but twice—in 1987 and 1988—because her parents were impoverished and had a hard time helping her financially in her law studies and review.

“I did very well in class, I was valedictorian from elementary to high school and I had top honors in college and law school. I was really depressed when I failed twice and I thought of not taking it a third time,” Acosta said.
   
But her grim determination to succeed and never give up paid off tremendously in her third attempt. Not only did Acosta finally pass the Bar in 1989; she was among the top 10, landing in number four, with former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro as number one.
   
Acosta said she’s inspired by the late Claro M. Recto and other legal luminaries who took the Bar more than once and didn’t make it to the top 10, yet managed to become excellent lawyers and be among the very best.
   
As for Robin Padilla, it’s well-known that he was convicted in 1994 for illegal possession of firearms. During his life’s darkest moments, he wrote to entertainment columnist Dolly Anne Carvajal, saying: “I’m a star that is lost because of success… I am a total failure. I want to work my way back to the top and rebuild my life.”
   
Soon after he was pardoned in 1997 by then President Ramos, Padilla showed he was a transformed man. He became a model citizen even as he continued to suffer the stigma of being an ex-convict.
   
Many hope that the recent granting of absolute pardon by President Duterte restoring Padilla’s civil and political rights will help the actor become truly free and enable him to get a US visa anew so he can join wife Mariel Rodriguez and their newly-born baby girl.
   
“Kung anuman ang naging kasalanan ko sa lipunan, binayaran ko ng tatlo at kalahating taon sa loob ng kulungan… binayaran ko pa po ulit ng 23 years sa labas na ‘yung isang paa ko ay nandoon sa bilibid na kapag nagkaroon ka ng isang anumalya o krimen ay pasok ka uli,” Padilla said.
           
For being an inspiration to those striving to conquer life’s adversities, let’s hope more blessings will come their way—for Acosta to be appointed to the Supreme Court, and for Padilla to be able to travel to the US.

* * *
   
Detractors of the nation’s top cop, Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, were apparently having none of Jesus’ teaching, “Let him without sin cast the first stone,” as they lambasted the PNP chief over the lavish gift he admittedly received from Sen. Manny Pacquiao in the form of the all-expense paid US trip for the general and his family.
   
Many say gifts of free trips are common practice, so my old friends in media like Phil Star’s Jarius Bondoc, Inquirer’s Ramon Tulfo, and Itchie Cabayan of People’s Tonight have similarly asked in their opinion columns why the Ombudsman seems to have singled out Bato in its inquiry over a possible violation of the law.
   
Let me venture a guess. I think what spurred the probe was what Bato had blurted out. “Bahala na ang propriety na ‘yan,” he said in response to a media query shortly after arriving from the US. English-language newspapers translated his statement as “I don’t care about propriety” and, therefore, the Ombudsman was probably challenged to act on its mandate.
   
Bato can be admirable for being frank, honest and candid but he ought to be careful in everything he says in public. His past statements do not do him good. For instance, when asked what should be done if criminals surrender, Bato said: “Make them fight back.” In another TV interview, he was asked what rights should be given suspects. Bato’s reply: “They have the right to remain silent, forever.”
   
His statements were apparently made in jest, but those probably started the notion of state-sponsored, yet undeclared, extrajudicial killings. Being more circumspect will certainly do Bato a lot of good.
   
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