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The Joke’s on You May 23, 2007

Posted by Janjan in All, I, Lawyer, Idiocy.
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Janjan’s Log, 2:30 PM, May 22, 2007

I’m at the Comission on Elections (“COMELEC”) Regional Office as I’m typing this entry, at the branch near the Basilica sto. Nino del Minore. Today, we are canvassing the votes for the municipality of Bogo, in the province of Cebu. The COMELEC officials have declared a recess as their packed lunch has arrived. (They are carrying the steaming styropor of cheap-grained rice and half-cooked viands. At this moment, I respect the COMELEC.)

There’s a tense and somber mood in the air, a bit like the tenseness one would find between a pack of lions squaring off with a pack of hyenas for the carcass of a fallen caribou. In this case, we have the Kampi party, representing Third District House of Representatives candidate Benhur Salimbangon, squaring off with the LAKAS-CMD party, representing Mr. Salimbangon’s opponent, Celestino Martinez III . Who are the lions and who are the hyenas? I leave that up to you to decide.

I represent Senatorial candidate Joker Arroyo, a member of Team Unity (which is a neutral third party in this affair), and the only representative of any national candidate. To take the analogy of hyenas and lions further, I guess I’m a vulture, waiting to see if there are any remnants (or additional corpses!) for me to take advantage of. Gruesome.

Kampi has brought in the big guns, with an expensive-looking Manila lawyer taking helm as lead counsel. (This guy looks like the respectable version of a dangerous Cuban drug lord. For further reference, we shall call him “Fifi”) With him are a battery of lawyers and paralegals, some of them speaking Tagalog and some of them whom I recognize as Cebuano lawyers. In particular, I spot Atty. RM, a former upperclassman when I was still in law school. We greet each other in acknowledgment. Too bad we’re both at different sides of the fence.

I’m afraid to note that I’m the only Lakas lawyer in attendance, to date. Hopefully, more lawyers from my side will be added, because I am the least prepared election lawyer in Cebu up against the well-researched and well-prepared litigation arm of an expensive-looking law firm in Manila. It would be like Frodo duelling with the army of Saruman with nothing but a stupid ring of invisibility and a gay manservant named Samwise.

The COMELEC staff and officials have finally had their lunch, and are finally in a lighter mood. Fifi and his lawyers are opening law books and studying their cases. Meanwhile, the Magnificent Atty. Perez is typing this blog entry and wondering what color of font to use when uploading this to his website. The Chairman of the Board of Canvassers has declared that session is starting, so I’m going to have to shut my laptop.

Oh shit. I have to pee.

————-

Janjan’s Log, 2:45 PM, May 22, 2007

We are on another recess. The troops have rolled out to pick up the ballot boxes at Capitol, and when I say troops, I mean TROOPS. Two large trucks filled with soldiers armed to the brim with sub-machine guns and hand grenades are guarding the ballot boxes, in case they are met with force by hot, angry, stone-wielding fanatics from both the Salimbangon and Martinez camps.

Earlier today I had befriended one of the COMELEC staff and he offered that I ride with them when they pick up the ballot boxes at Capitol. He said, “You will enter Capitol and you will tell them, ‘I represent Joker Arroyo, the Dragon. ‘Pag good kayo, okay lang, pero kung bad kayo, lagot kayo ni JOKER!'” For the sheer absurdity of that suggestion, I wanted to ride out with them. But reason and good sense took over (Demmit! I hate it when that happens!) and I decided not to go. After all, my presence as one of the legal counsels might give an appearance of impartiality. Still, I wanted to ride the big truck, wave my hands, and pretend that the angry mob of Martinez/Salimbangon fanatics waiting for our arrival was actually a contingent of my die-hard fans screaming bloody hell for me to hold an impromptu rock concert.

But here I am, at the COMELEC regional office, blogging away while the opposing counsels are busy reading law books and studying COMELEC rules and jurisprudence. For the love of my sanctity, it feels too much like being back in law school. (Where’s Ed Suson and Kelly Lim to coach my answers when I need them???) I wonder if I could tap Fifi on the back and ask him “Classmate… can I also read your notes?”

I was wrong after all. I am not the only Lakas lawyer. There are also other counsels in attendance, each representing their own candidate. Gwen Garcia has one. Benhur Salimbangon has another. Even one of the Provincial Board candidates sent a rather quirky lawyer who looks like he needs a good haircut. Come to think of it, I need a haircut too. Damn. The other lawyers must think Joker couldn’t afford a decent-looking legal counsel.

I just talked to Fifi and this other mustache-d lawyer (We shall call him Rico Suave”) and found out that they are both fraternity brothers of my deceased boss, Atty. Chito Teleron. I envy that they have this law school paralegal from Aquila Legis helping them do research and buying them mineral water. (I wonder if I can implore my old organization, The Fraternal Order of Tequila, to send me my own simpering minion as well) I envy that they have research materials and notes. I envy that they have well-trimmed beards and mustaches. Demn, they look like really expensive lawyers with fashionable facial hair. I think I should grow my own and start charging absurd rates for mustache upkeep and maintenance. I wonder if Bench Fix has a facial hair specialist for that purpose. I have to ask Junior Suave where he had his mustache done. And…. awmyged, is Fifi wearing a fanny pack over his expensive barong???? Silly silly old man.

Speaking of which, Fifi just asked me to vacate the table while he and his team of lawyers and paralegals hold a caucus. That fanny bag-wearing mustache’d bastard who looks like a Cuban drug lord!!! I was occupying that table even before they arrived!!!! I even graciously offered to share the table with them! I left after cursing Fifi’s mustache with dandruff. I am now sitting at my vantage point from the other side of the room wondering what the heck those people are whispering about. A pretty lady lawyer soon joined them. She is dressed all in white. (For this reason, we shall call her “Blackie”)

Rico Suave just exhaled deeply and looked with much concern at his cellphone. I can imagine it is his wife telling him, “Dear, your son just ran out of the house in the nude, screaming that the ghost of Christmas Past is chasing him with a rabid purple weasel. Everything is normal in the house, good luck on your case. By the way, on your way home, please drop by the baker’s and get me a raspberry Danish.”

Mmmm. Raspberry Danish. Man, I’m hungry. I wish they would deliver us some food.

Fifi also looks very concerned as he’s talking to his cellphone. I hear the words “mustache cream” and “Bench Fix” being mentioned. He’s probably planning the next case and coming well-armed for battle.

Which reminds me, I ought to focus on the task at hand. Let’s see, I boned up on election law last night and the only thing I can remember is that my sole ground for a pre-proclamation controversy is “a showing of manifest errors on the face of the election returns.” Manifest errors, check. Wait… what the heck is a manifest error??? “Your honor, I would like to manifest that the election returns have skipped a page. From page 1, we are now on page 3.” “Your honor, I object. Using a pink colored paper for election returns violates every known rule of good color coordination. It clashes with your yellow election folder!”

Paging Ed Suson and Kelly Lim! I need you A-S-A-P!

The caucus has ended so I went back to the table and sat with Fifi, Junior Suave and Blackie. I look around.

The other lawyers on the other side of the room are yakking it up and cracking jokes. My side of the room, however, looks busy, with three lawyers reading and discussing their notes, one diligent paralegal tacking on post-its to their jurisprudence, and one rather serious Magnificent Atty. Perez, writing a rather magnificent entry on his blog. Lagot kayo ni Joker!

Okay. It’s time to get serious and work on the task at hand. But first, I need a cappucino.

—————-

Janjan’s Log, 4:30 PM, May 22, 2007

The big moment has arrived and I’m actually insanely jealous. 26 ballot boxes are getting better press coverage than ME! That’s not fair! I’M the rockstar of the legal system!

From the outside of the COMELEC Regional Office, it looks like a warzone. All you can see is a sea of soldiers running helter-skelter in a flurry of green fatigues and sub-machine guns. Yeah, right. Like a bunch of fully armed NPA Soldiers are going to burst out at any time and take over the Bogo polls. Inside, the people look a bit antsy and tired. It’s 4 p.m. and we haven’t had snacks yet. I crave for siopao.

I’ve been here at the regional office since 8 in the morning, waiting for a canvassing that occurred at 4:30pm. Demmit. That’s a lot of wasted time where I could have been at the comfort of my own office surfing for porn and updating my Friendster profile. Or writing a survey.

They finally brought the ballot boxes in, just as I lost my last joule of cellphone battery power. Demmit. With that lost power goes my last hope of calling Ed Suson and Kelly Lim for answers before I get called up before the Board of Canvassers.

The ballot boxes look like an ugly yellow taro of ube, except there’s no ube inside, just election returns and spoiled votes. I wish there was ube ensaimade instead. I’m still waiting for my siopao to arrive.

The reporters are all flocking around the Board of Canvasser’s documents like a crowd of dirty old men around an underaged stripper. I wonder what the big fuss is about. Can’t they see a rockstar when they see one? Demn election returns, always upstaging me.

I keep thinking that all this fuss would be better solved if we only had some lechon and a case of tequila. But no… the people’s mandate has to be followed. Demn you, people’s mandate!!

————–

Janjan’s Log, 2:30 AM, May 23, 2007

It has been a crazy day. I was up all night until 2 a.m. looking for manifest errors on the national candidates’ election returns. And to think I’ve been in the COMELEC office since 8 in the morning! Weird things happened when I plugged on to my iPod. Everytime a song comes up, the whole world turned into a music video in MTV. First song was “Lover Lay Down” by Dave Matthews. There’s a pretty mestiza reporter here from Sun*star and when the song played, I saw her dancing against the cabinet, grinding against it like there was no tomorrow. It was like we were in a Tagalog movie and I was chasing her around the cabinet, and we were running in slow motion, laughing like we were an on-screen tandem matched by Regal Films and Mother Lily. I caught her by the hips and twirled her around and around, while she flung her hands upward, laughed and screamed, “Oh Jack! I’m flying! I’m flying!”

The song quickly changed into “Freestyler” by Bomfunk M.C.’s… one of my favorite dance music of all time. I stood up on the big table where they display the election returns and started doing some crazy breakdance moves while everyone around me started dancing. Fifi was shaking his bonbons like a back-up dancer for Ricky Martin with a bad case of hemmorhoids. Blackie suddenly took off her all-white ensemble to reveal her dressed up like a Bellestar dancer. Rico Suave started spinning on his head.

And then my iPod started playing the heavy rock riffs of “Claire Danes Poster” by Size 14. The Chairman of the Board of Canvassers, suddenly ripped off his pink barong to reveal a huge tummy, and tattoos of skeletons, knives, and naked women. He grabbed an electric guitar and had a guitar-gasm in the heavy rift. Soldiers came in and sang along with me when I shouted the chorus. “I’m gonna drink me some beer! Stay at home! And stare at my CLAIRE DANES POSTERRR!!”

Then somebody ripped off the headset cord from my iPod.

I was standing on an election return that had my shoeprints all over it and holding a mineral water bottle in my hand and pretending it was a microphone. The whole room was staring at me in shock, wordless, and shaken out of their drowsy stupor.

At that point, I knew it was time for me to go home and get some sleep.

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