Cancer and Anguish


    RESIGNATION is the farthest thing from his mind.

    The call of former RTC Judge Harriet Demetriou for Salvador Panelo to step down as presidential spokesman was valid, without doubt. He left President Duterte in the dark on the basic legal issue that Antonio Sanchez should not be released from prison.

    But, Panelo could not hide that Sanchez was an immensely valued client to him as a pleasurable sense of triumph showed all over his face when he first talked to reporters on the life convict’s possible release. Expect him to deny to Demetriou that he initially parlayed the story and, he did. By some accounts, he must have earned P50 million in professional fees as the head legal counsel of Sanchez in the case.

    Not all criminal respondents can pick a skillful but very expensive trial lawyer like Panelo. Still, others would be sick in their conscience and turn their backs, instead of violating their sacred craft for truthful justice and compassion.

    Atty. Rowie Morales of the UP Law Legal Center turned down P25 million in cash handed to her personally by the elder Ampatuan for her to head the defense panel in the Maguindanao massacre case. She said such sensational cases would defeat her legal advocacies and, how, in heaven’s name, would she be able to carry the five sacks of money inside a plane. They had met in a hotel room in Zamboanga City. Except for a very few like Morales, no lawyer of Panelo’s stature and experience pays attention to the plight of thousands of suspects from poor communities left to languish in jail.

    He should realize that he did the President an injustice when the latter was either misled or left uninformed on Sanchez availing of the good conduct allowance. And because of Panelo, President Duterte became the subject of mounting speculations that he silently favored the release of Sanchez. Several sectors now accuse Panelo and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra of cooking up the convoluted plot that has so painfully awaken the anguish the families of the rape and murder victims. Detained Sen. Leila de Lima said that the initial announcement of Sanchez’ release seemed “a ploy to drum up support for the revival of the death penalty.”


    Gina Lopez preached about love and gave so much of it to the distressed victims of illegal miners and other champions of environmental degradation. The people felt it, and so did the countless supporters and donors to her various and major advocacy campaigns. In the end, she took the pangs of being unloved by many officials who she thought believed in the “love” she bravely dispensed.

    Her great passion for truly nationalist pursuits was replaced by great disappointment that somehow ate her up. As DENR secretary she seemed to be hopping from one clean-up project or rescue mission to another with a frenzy and unbelievable vigor. Remarkably, she used her position of privilege in wild abandon, unlike scions of wealthy political families, persuading people endlessly to cooperate and care for one another. But, when the Commission on Appointments (CA) handily thumbed her down, she could not overcome the nightmarish rejection and ridicule. Breaking into a song after the debacle which should be owned by the CA did not help as she started to burn with outrage inside. She would slowly vanish from public view secretly nursing a palpable sense of defeat and failure that would not go away. In a moving televised interview, a younger brother thought Gina’s cancer was caused by her riveting passion to work relentlessly despite the overwhelming odds. And, according to a noted psychiatrist, it must have been the sudden and bitter end to her iconic tenure in government that worsened her condition.