By Democrito C. Barcenas

ON Oct. 2, the nation commemorated the 60th death anniversary of one of the greatest statesmen of our time – Sen. Claro M. Recto.

Born on Feb. 8, 1890, he died on Oct. 2, 1960 in Rome on his way to Spain for many speaking engagements and his last words were “it is a terrible thing to die in a foreign country.”

Claro M. Recto was a true genius. He studied the same courses Rizal studied in the same school, Ateneo de Manila, and his grades were better than those of Rizal. In the three-year curriculum of grammar school (equivalent to high school), he obtained a grade of 90 percent in the first year, 100 percent in the second year and 100 percent in the last year, the Spanish equivalent of all being sobresaliente or excellent.

In college, Recto graduated at age 19 with an AB degree Maxima Cum Laude, not just Summa Cum Laude, which means with Highest Honors, but Maxima, the highest possible, an academic feat never achieved by any Filipino student.

He became President of the 1935 Constitutional Convention, then a senator, then a justice of the Supreme Court and back to the Senate. In 1957, he ran for President but lost.

In the Senate, Recto not only espoused the cause of nationalism but also successfully fought all attempts to violate the Constitution, the rule of law and civil liberties.

Senator Recto would not have allowed the rule of law being trampled upon with the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, the blatant violation of the Constitution with the removal of a chief justice through a mere quo warranto and not through the constitutional route of impeachment, the passage of the draconian Anti-Terrorism Law and our government’s wishy-washy attitude towards China regarding the latter’s illegal occupation of our islands in the West Philippine Sea.

We miss Don Claro M. Recto in these perilous and uncertain times. We long for his intellectual and moral guidance, his nationalism and courage.

Whence comes another one?