Karlon N. Rama

Stage five

I TAKE it back.

For each of the many lame jokes I have ever mouthed and written about lawyers, I apologize.

My favorite one, the one that begins with somebody asking “What are black and brown and looks good on lawyers?” and ends with someone answering “a Doberman” is not only worn out, it’s corny.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

It’s about as pathetic as one that goes “What do you call 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean” and closes with the punch line “a good start.”

Lawyers don’t deserve all the ribbing.

After all, they are the present-day Samurai. They are warriors who do battle in behalf of others.

COMBAT. One such battle was waged by a group representing all lawyers here in Cebu City against the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The lawyers are fighting to make the poll body “restudy” its current firearm ban.

The lawyers want the Comelec to grant exemptions and, through a resolution unanimously passed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter, said the ban went against the “principle of self-preservation or self-help.”

They said that it is being imposed despite the government’s admission that it “cannot prevent all cases of aggression to its constituents or to defend those that are unjustly attacked.”

“In the words of the legal luminary, Guevarra: It cannot be conceived that a person should succumb to an unlawful aggression without offering any resistance,” read the resolution addressed to the Supreme Court (SC) en banc.

Resolution No. 02 series of 2010 came by way of Atty. Earl Bonachita and Atty. Democrito Barcenas, a human rights lawyer who was detained during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law that, incidentally, came into being at the heels of a total gun ban.

CUDGELS. The resolution does not exactly take up the fight for the entire firearm-owning community, though.

It only asks the Comelec to give particular attention to judges, prosecutors and lawyers “who are either receiving threats or are handling sensitive and high-risk cases” and that they be “duly given exemptions.”

“The judiciary, prosecution and practicing lawyers are among those prone to violent attacks as they are exposed to adversarial situations involving contending parties,” the IBP resolution pointed out.

“It is of public knowledge that there have been several assassinations involving judges, prosecutors and lawyers handling sensitive and high-risk cases,” it added.

I understand their position.

The threat of assassinations is a concern taken seriously by magistrates and the Supreme Court.

And lawyers, among them government prosecutors, given the adversarial nature of the work they do, should also take the subject of their safety seriously.

CONCERNS. But it would have been nice if the lawyers took the wider view and argued not only for themselves.

Besides, they are not the only ones who can lay claim to “the principle of self-preservation or self-help.”

In the news, its mostly ordinary people – people like you and me – who get shot over cell phones, knifed over laptops and mauled over a wallet.

Will a mother shed fewer tears for the murder of a non-lawyer son?

In their resolution, the lawyers invoked the “doctrine of self-defense” and said the State itself recognizes that it is “impossible for it to prevent all cases of aggression to its constituents or to defend those that are unjustly attacked.”

And, in quoting Guevarra, the lawyers recognized the right of persons to resist unlawful aggression.

Indeed, if we recognize as lawful the right to resist unlawful aggression, this right should apply to all, not just the lawyers

But this is at least a good way to start more level-headed discussions on the subject. And we did not have to drown 1,000 lawyers or unleash Dobermans to get there.