Pablito Villanueva Sanidad, Supreme Court Associate Justice
(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on Feb. 22, 2009.)
Some time ago, when I was still the city prosecutor, I called up Atty. Tita Leung, then and still the dean of the University of Baguio College of Commerce, to ask a parental favor, but I made the mistake of starting out on the wrong foot, or more precisely, with my foot in my mouth, saying to the dean, “Tita, I have this rather errant son…” and before I could finish my sentence, Tita good naturedly countered, “Ah, the errant son of an errant father.”
I do admit to being sometimes an errant person, but I take pride in the fact that I am neither an errant father nor an errant husband.
As for my errant son, thanks to Tita, he finished his Commerce studies, and when he applied for employment in a Makati firm, he was one of 17 chosen by the company out of more than 2,000 applicants.
But that’s not the real story.
The better story is that the 16 other lucky applicants were all graduates of the three leading universities in Manila – namely the Ateneo, La Salle, and the University of the Philippines, and my “errant son,” a UB graduate, was the only outsider in the chosen group.
I relate this story only because today, I write about an eminent son of an eminent father, the soon-to-be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, my fellow Baguio Midland Courier columnist Pablito V. Sanidad, son of the late congressman and Liberal Party stalwart Pablo Sanidad – both independent oppositionists, both Bar topnotchers, both legal eagles, both Perry Mason fans.
Pablito is a local boy, an A. B. graduate of Saint Louis University, where his mother was the Law librarian when I was going to Law school there.
Incidentally, Pablito’s mom, my mom, and Chavit Singson’s mom, were “internas” at the Immaculate Conception convent, an exclusive girl’s school in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, an episode in my mom’s life that she loved to tell me over and over, aside from her PWU (Philippine Women’s University) days, again as an “interna.”
But Pablito and I are not in the same league as were our moms – Pablito is brilliant while I am average, Pablito is researchful while I am easygoing, and Pablito is dedicated and responsible, while I am a lover of the good life.
I did manage to graduate from the St. Louis University Law school with honors, which is probably the equivalent of placing in the last 10 of the University of the Philippines Law school, where Pablito finished his Law studies at the top 10 of his class.
But this column is not about me or my son or our moms, it is all about Pablito, who has been nominated to be an Associate Justice in the Supreme Court, the first from this highland city to be accorded that honor.
Now, if independence were to be the sole or principal consideration, Pablito is first or tops in my list of nominees.
And that’s the funny part. It is largely because of Pablito’s independence of mind that has gotten him high up the success ladder – politics-wise anyway.
In 1987, Pablito would have been picked as one of 24 administration senatorial candidates to represent the Solid North, being in fact the only genuine son of the Ilocano nation at the time, but his independence drove him away from President Cory Aquino.
As undersecretary of Labor, he was expected to toe the administration line, but Pablito felt the Aquino government was not doing enough for the Filipino people, and many of Marcoses cronies were being allowed to wiggle themselves back into the political mainstream, some even carrying the blessings of Aquino’s top advisers, at the same time picturing Pablito as an uncontrollable, if not dangerous maverick.
And so, Pablito went back to private Law practice, and soon distanced himself from the hypocrites of the new order, who were all taking the ever trusting President Cory for a ride.
As national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, Pablito is at the forefront of defending the poor and the oppressed from the abuses of those in power, a mission that does not endear him to the “berdugos” in the military and the evil of heart.
Quite sadly, however, many mistake him as a misplaced oppositionist, if not a Don Quixote.
But aren’t all Human Rights lawyers?
So, how will Pablito make out as SC Associate Justice?
Well, Pablito has a keen legal mind that can match up to the best of them, and before he retires, I am sure Pablito shall have penned not a few landmark decisions, and written a good number of dissenting opinions that would perhaps be a better read than the majority resolution.
Pablito will make one damn good Associate Justice of the SC, and I am honored to be his friend and countryman.
That exactly is how Pablito wants things to be – for everyone all together side by side – no poor, no rich, only Filipinos standing proud and equal before the eyes of the law.
And what say you, Noe, Juris, and Eric, Sancho Panzas three.
(P. S. Pablito V. Sanidad is currently the mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.)