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Passion and Mitigation

Passion and Mitigation
Ronald Roy

I agree, Lily (Cua-Alegre), that “it’s nice to have our streets back, clean and quiet,” but I disagree it’s because the militants have given up their cause. They’re now more fiercely committed than ever.
Political movements engaged in street mass actions are born of a shared deep-seated yearning for change; change of leaders and institutions, and of systems and laws that cannot wait for elections. The public revulsion for Gloria Arroyo’s malevolent regime—that which has stoked the burning coals of patriotism—has started to subside with the elections just around the corner. The people’s patience will hold out, and the revolutionary spirit will wane until the elections, hopefully peaceful and regular, are over. Otherwise, they will be back in the streets.
The citizens are now preoccupied with choosing and campaigning for their candidates while the passions of contenders, as our culture would have it, simmer wherever they choose to trade barbs and mud-sling one another. Violent encounters and casualties will rise as expected, and it can only be hoped they will be mitigated in number as well as in passion.
Unbridled passion, especially of the illicit variety, is not good for the health. It obfuscates and even “dements” (if I may coin a verb) whether in war or peace, or in politics or love. Romeo and Juliet destroyed themselves under hostile familial conditions—the victims of their exuberant and un-thinking youth. For this, they would be forgiven and mourned with compassion because their love was fresh and pure as the early morning dew. Indeed, Shakespeare himself might have wished them memorialized with generous fondness, if not with mitigated indifference.
But when Marlene Aguilar soulfully ululates in the melodramatic notion she would catch a thousand bullets to shield “(her) Jason from a tragedy he did not deserve”—a son she professes to have adored since birth and for whom she has nursed a love “until death would do them part,” then we must ask if such love is as fresh and pure as the early morning dew. But lest I be misunderstood, I clarify that my purpose here is not to wallow in the mire of slanderous gossip, but to study—with the critical curiosity of a legalist, assuming I had been retained by her–the criminal charges of obstruction of justice and other possible felonies she now faces.
After all, if Oedipus complex (the complex of emotions aroused in a young child by an unconscious sexual desire for its parent of the opposite gender) is a psychological disorder and therefore a mitigating circumstance (i.e., one that lowers the penalty), or even an exempting circumstance (one that absolves from criminal responsibility, depending on the extent of the defendant’s mental aberration, as in insanity) why then should not a possible complex of incestuous feelings be explored by the defense with an eye for at least mitigation?
The proposition is observable that the greater Aguilar’s psychological disorder is, if such were the case, the greater the latitude for her defense. In fine, the greater her passion is, the greater her mitigation.
One suspects that the main story about Jason Ivler is being rewritten into a mystery thriller by an overprotective mother. I think she could be an imaginative novelist in the mold of a sometimes disoriented Agatha Christie. In her work, the action is fast and furious, teeming with border-crossing secret agents in a milieu of intrigue, betrayal, and of course eternal love.
She is the comic megastar in her own screenplay, with Jason now playing a mere supporting role as a victim of gun-toting bad men. As he is pushed out of the public view, his mother earns nominations for outstanding laureate for literature and cinema. That is the cruel jest doing the rounds in media circles these days. Would that her maternal passion would be abated and her criminal accountability, if any, mitigated.
They’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Paradoxically, barristers and journalists must be opinionated in their search for truth and justice. In the process, they must step on the toes of others in the wild and wooly ways of leaving no stone unturned. As a result, for defending the Ampatuans’ right to counsel, and now for “siding with Jason and his mother”—to quote a texter among other countless critics including friends—I have become a constant target of censure and spite. I hate to have to sound didactic at this point, but I would not be true to my calling as a lawyer if I did not remind them that observance of the rights of the accused is one of the pillars of the criminal justice system in a democracy. If my detractors cannot understand this, they then do not know what our sovereign struggle has been all about.

(Email: arnydolor@yahoo.com, cell # 09186449517, landline # (02)7106701)

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