IS it a case of a difficult-to-restrain sense of humor or just plain hardheadedness? Another woman was arrested Monday evening for making a bomb joke. The incident happened at the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.

Emily Baclaan is the fifth person in Cebu to fall in the police crackdown on “violators” of Presidential Decree 1727, which is mislabeled as the Anti-Bomb Joke Law. Do they ever learn?

The interpretation/application of PD 1727, issued by President Marcos during martial law, is in itself a joke. Those who have studied the law will easily see that it was never meant to apply to a joke but to something serious, in fact, willful and malicious. The police or prosecutor or judge who says otherwise is guilty of reading into the law something that is absent, both in its letter and its spirit.

Nevertheless, the prudent thing to do is to avoid making such jokes unless you want to experience how it feels being locked up in jail. Obviously, the police were not joking when they promised to arrest anyone who says “I have a bomb somewhere.”

The same advice is offered to drug pushers but with more urgency considering the far graver consequences flowing from pursuing their nefarious trade. How many people have been killed so far in President Duterte’s relentless war on drugs? More than 3,000 at the latest count, fair number of them in Cebu.

And yet, every day we continue to read about this drug pusher being arrested, if he’s lucky or, if he’s not, killed in an alleged encounter with the police or liquidated by masked vigilantes.

If they’re trying to test the resolve of government, they should have read the results by this time. Pushers will be killed, Duterte has repeatedly said that. Those who stubbornly ignore the warning and continue to peddle illegal drugs should have already realized that they already have one foot in the grave.

This is not to sanction extrajudicial killing. I believe that the death penalty is appropriate for certain crimes but the same should be imposed only by a judge after trial. We should not sacrifice due process even for the noblest reason.

But if pushers get killed, they only have themselves to blame. They cannot say that they haven’t been warned because there is no stronger, albeit perhaps not fairer, warning than the rising count of bodies of drug suspects. Don’t tempt fate. Don’t tempt the police.


It is not every day that you see a parade of convicted criminals offering their eyewitness-- and expert– testimony on national television. And in Congress yet! They were dressed for the occasion, too, their drab prison uniforms replaced by neat collared shirts. In fact, and I am ashamed to say this, some of them managed to look more dignified than some of the solons.

It was a spectacular show, regardless of whether or not you believe the things that were said by the convicts – and the congressmen-- in the House hearing on the alleged link of Sen. Leila de Lima to the illegal drugs trade.

There is a rule in evidence that says that a testimony must not only come from a credible witness but must be credible in itself. I will leave it to those who followed the hearings from the start to the end (I did not) to judge if the convict witnesses passed the two tests.

Until he became justice secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre II was well known as the lawyer who covered his ears while Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago was speaking during the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. Now, he has become more famous as the first lawyer, who is not a member of the House, to present witnesses in a congressional public hearing.

Some guys have all the luck. Sigh.