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Spiritus Legis

Spiritus Legis

Ronald Roy

Ramon Moran, a 23-year-old college junior, wants to be a lawyer and a priest. Unable to make a choice between the two callings, he seeks my advice as well as some enlightenment on the Francisco Larrañaga rape-slay case, particularly with respect to his questionable transfer to a more comfortable and more hygienic place of confinement in Spain. Mon, I’m sorry I couldn’t stay long enough at your family dinner last Friday, but I know you’re reading this article. So please read on, as you may hopefully find some answers here.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with being a lawyer and a clergyman at the same time, ‘though you would certainly benefit much more from the greater emphasis you’d give to one if you forewent the other. Your problem of choice appears to stem from your view that our country is bogged down by a deteriorating state of morality, law and order, and the concomitant deceleration of the wheels of justice, hence, your desire to become a lawyer and a priest to help quench our people’s thirst for peace and order.

The Bar and the priesthood are actually complementary to each other, if only because both are profoundly concerned with how justice is dispensed in this country. During the Renaissance period, for instance, some prelates were legal practitioners who taught, counseled and litigated with the impassioned advocacy that a just society could never be built where there was no godliness. We of course remember that a tyrant would often be around to stop such a quixotic crusader with a bribe or, failing in that, an assassination. And I fear, as you probably do yourself, that the conflict between today’s cassocks and the short slacks by the Pasig River continues–in the case of bribery anyway.

This is no naughty caveat to our very own lawyer-priest, the Rev. Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., to watch his back whenever making an anti-administration opinion; but yes, we stop and listen whenever he expounds on a constitutional issue. Let’s face it: The denial of justice is so rampant in our socio-political life that we turn to this courageous man, whose priestly robes alone portray him as a man of reason and fairness. We need more people like him, and if you, Mon, aspire to emulate him, let nobody block your way to the Bar and the priesthood.

It therefore is no surprise that you ask what can be done with our unjust society. Well, we can start becoming God-fearing and law-abiding citizens. It then becomes imperative that the similar but separate leader roles of the church and the state be reviewed with an eye for reduced separation for the sake of greater synergy. It is admittedly a daunting task to convert our three corrupt branches of government into one harmonized justice system, in union with a self-policed clergy. But it must be done for the sake of our survival as a race.

Anybody can find a role to play in the justice system. When a private individual, for instance, testifies to aid a court in search of fact and evidence, he is a participant in the system or, in the broad spectrum of the system that includes social justice, when he gives food or shelter to a mendicant in an urgent hour of need. Usually, it is not the law but the compassionate heart of the giver that throbs at the core of social justice.

In the criminal justice system, however, it is the law that lies at the center of the wheel. It is around the law that the state’s three main functions rotate in a matrix where the Legislative Department enacts the law, the Executive Department implements the law, and the Judiciary interprets the law and settles the dispute brought to it for resolution.

In respect of the 1997 rape-slaying of two sisters which saw the conviction of Francisco Larrañaga and six others, you raise the point that Larrañaga’s transfer of confinement to some penitentiary in Spain was not a miscarriage of justice because it was authorized by a law, a treaty specifically, labeled as Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement between our country and Spain. I’m sorry,Mon, but I must disagree with you.

I strongly feel there was an intentional failure to properly implement the treaty on the part of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo or a functionary acting on her behest. I believe the treaty was so literally construed as to allow the transfer that would please the powerful Osmeña clan of Mrs. Arroyo’s “Republic of Cebu”. The spiritus legis–spirit of the law that overrides its letter in case of doubt–was ignored. While Larrañaga is technically indicated by public documents as a Spanish citizen, he is nonetheless a Cebuano criminal who never lived in Spain. There can never be, therefore, any sympathetic craving by Spain for the return of one insincerely claiming to be her son.

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

Ms. Ninez Cacho-Olivarez

Publisher and editor-in-chief

Dear Ninez,

For your consideration, please.


Ronnie (Roy)

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