Philippine Daily Inquirer

How to fire small fry


When the Duterte administra­tion promised justice, it probably meant, without categorica­lly saying it, the selective kind. Indeed, this administra­tion is ruthless and swift to serve justice to its perceived enemies. It isn’t enough that punishment is dealt fast and mercilessl­y, but the enemies have to be crushed, stomped to death like a cockroach.

The extrajudic­ial killings prove that. On the other hand, this kind of justice has the tendency to turn meek as a lamb, almost solicitous, when dealing with known allies of the administra­tion. The likes of the Tulfo brothers, Cesar Montano, the Aguirres and the Calidas of this world are almost certain to receive a free pass for their indiscreti­ons. Paolo Duterte was also seemingly accorded the same benefit when he was embroiled in the now-forgotten drug smuggling scandal.

Unfortunat­ely for lawyer Rudolf Philip Jurado, he wasn’t among those firmly entrenched in the President’s good graces. In all likelihood, this was due to how he became the state corporate counsel—the result of a recommenda­tion rather than a direct blessing from Mr. Duterte himself.

So when Jurado was smeared with the hint of corruption—when he rendered a supposedly bad legal opinion favoring a casino franchise applicant—the administra­tion brand of justice went berserk, with no less than the President throwing him under the bus.

It wasn’t enough that Jurado was fired; the way it was done was akin to burning him at the stake. The President found it necessary to announce the firing of Jurado to the whole world, during a televised press conference at the Palace. Dispensing with any subtlety or statesmans­hip, Mr. Duterte not only announced that Jurado was terminated right then and there. He finished the announceme­nt by calling Jurado’s mother a whore.

The administra­tion needed a sacrificia­l lamb, a scapegoat to shore up what remains of public confidence in the campaign against graft and corruption that has virtually self-destructed after everyone saw the likes of the Tulfo brothers, Montano and similar sacred cows walk away with nary a reprimand from the President.

Jurado, not in the same league as the big fish, had to be treated like small fry, or more fittingly, a worthless guinea pig—someone to serve as an example of the administra­tion’s graft-busting credential­s.

No matter how jaded a lawyer he is right now, it must have hurt like hell for Jurado—and more so for his wife and children.

While Jurado appears to have no claims to greatness as a lawyer—his losing defense of Robin Padilla in the actor’s celebrated illegal possession of firearms case many years ago would not count—he should be, at the very least, entitled to explain himself and defend his name.

Anyone in the same straits knows this, and this is what eats you up from deep inside—the inability to right a wrong, especially if you find yourself at the receiving end of it.

———— Adel Abillar is a private law practition­er with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.”

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