, May 24, 2024

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A Lasting Bond in Fire and Steel


  •   2 min reads
A Lasting Bond in Fire and Steel
Derivative art based on internet sourced photograph

“A lasting bond in fire and steel was forged among the men and women lawyers who stood up to question whether we were really a country of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch, plus one bitch, as it were.” 

By Atty. Rene A. V. Saguisag

In 2006, former Senator Rene Saguisag wrote a testimonial to mark the 20th year in public service of then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. The testimonial was written in Saguisag’s inimical style, veering from serious to hilarious. Saguisag also touched on the human rights lawyer, that rare breed who fought the dictatorship in the courtrooms, defending victims of human rights, abuses, and in the streets, where they protested the state of the nation. Excerpts:

When martial law came, overnight, the hotshot de campanilla lawyers, save for a few, decided to be, well, “prudent.” Too dangerous, they said. 

Nature abhors a vacuum. Young, obscure and uninfluential lawyers moved in to fill the breach. Thus was born the animal called the human rights lawyers, a breed in the legal zoo unheard of in our law school days. Jojo (Binay) became a resplendent stalwart of Ka Pepe Diokno’s  Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and our Movement of Attorneys from Bortherhood, Integrity, and Nationalism Inc. (MABINI), with Senator Lorenzo “Tanny” Tañada as Honorary Chair. 

We stood for human rights. We stood against the dictatorship and kleptocracy. We stood against the continuing presence of the American  military bases. 

Project Gunita FB post

A lasting bond in fire and steel was forged among the men and women lawyers who stood up to question whether we were really a country of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch, plus one bitch, as it were. 

“Salvaging” entered the vocabulary. There were cases of torture and disappearances. When few dared, Jojo & Co. stepped up. This meant that even on Christmas night, when a client called, we had to leave our families. 

The bonding became closer when he, Ed Araullo, and I, started playing basketball regularly in St. Scholastica, another nest of activists, where the two taught. We wanted to keep fit for the struggle, exchange note on how to resist the dictator, and help  politicize the community.


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