Will Binay have last laugh in Marcos fake hero fiasco? | Global News

Will Binay have last laugh in Marcos fake hero fiasco?

07:20 PM May 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO — The outcome of a would-be political scam is now up to Jojo Binay.

It is up to the vice president to decide whether allies of one of the most brutal dictatorships in history will be allowed to repackage Marcos as a hero worthy of the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

It’s hard to read the political games being played here. But one fact, at least, gives me hope: Binay was once a fierce opponent of the dictatorship.


In fact, the regime once took aim at him in a courtroom. His purported offense: Laughing. Or more precisely, laughing the loudest.


During the Marcos years, Binay had been a prominent member of Mabini, the fighting lawyer warriors who battled it out with the dictatorship. They were fearless, brilliant, unintimidated by the regime’s ruthlessness.

One case underscored this.

In 1982, Marcos shut down the WE Forum newspaper, and jailed members of its staff, led by the respected editor Joe Burgos. The opposition newspaper had been one of the fiercest critics of the regime. Burgos & Co. also committed an unforgiveable offense, by helping uncover one of Marcos’s shameless secrets — his war medals were fraud.

The WE Forum exposed Marcos as a fake hero. In a crowded courtroom in Quezon City, the Mabini lawyers exposed fake justice, Marcos-style.

I covered the trial as a student journalist from UP Diliman. It was quite a show.

By then, the regime routinely used military witnesses who were so shamelessly inept, a hearing typically turned into a sham, even a circus.


Binay figured in one memorable exchange. Leading the charge during one hearing was his Mabini comrade, Rene Saguisag.

The former senator recalled details of the incident for me in an e-mail.

It began when Saguisag asked that it be put on the record that the colonel testifying for the regime was reading his testimony.

The officer barked, “I’m not reading.”

In a stunning display of disrespect for what was supposed to be a court of justice, the colonel then threw a crumpled piece of paper at Saguisag.

As Saguisag recalls, Soc Rodrigo, one of the WE Forum columnists detained by the regime, then urged the judge not to be lenient to the disrespectful officer.

But apparently, the Marcos judge knew his place in the established order of the day. Saguisag relates how the judge responded in a whisper, “But I already told him not to do it again.”

“The audience roared in laughter,” Saguisag recalled. “The judge said he would clear the courtroom if the audience did not keep quiet.”

But there was “pandemonium,” Saguisag said.

Though I was just a student from U.P., and was one of the few in the courtroom not wearing a barong, I remember laughing too, gladly joining the collective act of defiance led by the fearless Mabini lawyers.

And it was then that the judge cited Binay for contempt.

“But why me, your honor,” Binay asked.

“For laughing the loudest!” was the response.

More laughter. Binay was fined by the judge. But that wasn’t really a problem — many in the courtroom quickly volunteered to pitch in.

And Binay was hardly the only target in the courtroom.

Saguisag himself was simply relentless as a defense attorney. He found himself in hot water several times.

When he complained about the courtroom being militarized with the presence of so many soldiers, the judge fined him fifty pesos, he recalled.

“I’ll gladly pay it,” he responded, pulling out a hundred peso bill from his wallet.

But Saguisag simply couldn’t resist the urge to be even more defiant, as he added, “Can I say something more for another fifty pesos.”

Eventually, the judge had enough. He threw Saguisag in jail for declaring in open court that it was Marcos who was the true subversive. In fact, the term he used was “super subversive.”

“Your honor I have been asked by my colleagues to apologize but I cannot do it,” Saguisag recalled saying. “A weekend in jail? A very low price to pay for the high privilege of sharing the suffering of our unhappy mother land.”

All right, so the guy can be full of it.

In fact, as Saguisag himself says, his speech prompted another Mabini lawyer, Joker Arroyo, to quip, “Lintik, nag-Rizal na naman.”

Four years ago, Binay, then Makati mayor, marked the 25th anniversary of the WE Forum crackdown with statement, recalling, how “press freedom came under siege from a despotic regime intent on suppressing the exercise of Constitutional rights.”

It’s been hard to read how Binay would eventually decide on Marcos at the Libingan controversy.

Saguisag has been one of the most vocal critics of the plan. He drafted a statement on behalf of Mabini, saying, “Mabini families resisted martial law from Day One. We did not fight a ‘hero,’ who left a nation bankrupt in money and values.”

The statement also lamented “the seeming indecisiveness” of Binay and P-Noy.

But when I asked him how he thought the whole matter will turn out, Saguisag said, “In the end, I feel the duo will do the right thing.”

Let’s hope so.

Let’s hope the man once fined by a judge for laughing the loudest has the last laugh on what he himself called a despotic regime.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel.

TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Jejomar Binay, Joe Burgos, Libingan ng Mga Bayani, Rene Saguisag, WE Forum

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.