By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
At least, in the minds of people, any lawyer can be made to look like entertainment to a waiting crowd in a court hearing.
The crowd in the hearing for the issuance of the writ of amparo were ready to withstand a whole day’s court proceedings. It was not as if they suspended the actual search but more because they wanted to exhaust all means available to them. They were deep in prayer that it be granted immediately and that they could go on and search without any malicious impediments or impunity from the uniform and that maybe they have something in legalese that reduces the difficulties they have encountered in their search for James Balao.
Even if everyone is poised and engrossed in the task at hand, and ready for a long, dead serious day, it will take a Filipino, in this instance the Igorot, to find humor (Kiangan jokes, if you are lucky enough) to break down the tension, monotony and boredom or simply to make way for a breather in the environment of a formal and seriously urgent court hearing.
At this hearing, the representative for the respondents, displayed with confidence and the advantage of practice a thought-out strategy and a developed style in checking out the credibility of a witness. The “audience” kind of looked down on him with resentment as they perceived he was merely delaying the process.
As the court process dragged on with questions and answers the engrossed crowd turned their heads in unison from the inquirer to the respondent. The people were lost in the exchange, they even corrected the Ilocano interpreter together. When it seemed they got the hang of what was going on and boredom was settling in. Whispers and giggles intensified.
Outside, when the court adjourned for the day. Kiangan jokes were composed and shared to lighten whatever feelings were carried out of the court house. Here are a few I overheard, or was told and laughed at.
Q. Kasano kaadayo ti bag iti naka alaanna? (How far was the bag from where he was taken?)
A. 3-4 nga uddang. (3 to 4 big-steps)
Q. Apay a saan na nga awit ti bag na? (Why wasn’t he carrying his bag?)
A. Diak ammo, ni James ti saludsuden yo. (I do not know, go ask James.)
Q. Kasano nga ammom nga isu ti inalada? (How did you know he was the one taken?)
A. Nakitak ti rupa na idiay posters iti igid ti kalsa. (I saw his face on the posters along the road.)
Q. Sinaludsod mo ti naganna? (Did you ask for his name?)
A. Poster ngarud. (It was a poster?!)
Q. Apay ta saan mo nga in-report ti police? (Why did you not report the abduction to the police?)
A. Saanen ah ta inbaga dagidiay nangala kaniana a police da. (I did not have to because the people who took him said they were the police.)
This can go on and on. In a few days or so, it will be no surprise if one would hear a Benguet cowboy along the Mt. Trail singing to his guitar about the abductors of James Balao in the tradition of a “Bad, bad Leroy Brown.” With the star-Solgen and the hero Witness-of-the-day in one or two stanzas.
It is getting to be a realization and therefore the unfolding of a truth that the men in uniform especially when they are in civilian clothes cannot be trusted. Like any truth revealed, it is painful to know that those who draw mandate to secure the citizenship also draw that same mandate to violate basic and internationally respected human rights to life and due process.
Two days after James’ abduction, two more were reported in like manner and cause abduction in the province of Bataan. Then again Friday’s news says the labor lawyer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno is missing in similar circumstances.
Is it still useful to write our congressman how one feels about this enforced disappearances? For his silence on these incidents is showing his true colors. #