By DR. FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
When I gave the welcome remarks at the thanksgiving dinner hosted by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in honor of newly retired Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonio T. Carpio, I described his actions using attributes I had never used to describe anyone before – nobility, decency, “delicadeza”…. And when the others – Rappler’s Marites Vitug, who with AIJC President Mon Tuazon emceed the affair, came up with her “firsts” about Carpio, underscoring the latter’s brilliance and fierce independence; GMA Network’s Winnie Monsod’s description of him as the “last man standing,” and veteran journalist Vergel Santos who said he would like Justice Carpio to stay on as the “shaming force” in the Supreme Court, and in that same sense as its saving grace”; it was an affirmation of my belief that a consensus exists about the exemplary competence and character of the man that we were honoring.
I focused on Justice Carpio’s principal advocacies – the push for the “Truth Movement” as having been a journalist himself (he was for a year an opinion writer at the Philippine Daily Inquirer), he would know how to manage and utilize information in asserting our sovereign rights in the South China Sea. A well organized information campaign, he said, would counter the claims of the Chinese government, which since 1949 had taught the Chinese citizen, from grade school to college, that China owned the territory. It is time we teach them that this is a total falsehood.” But even with continuing silence or rebuff, Justice Carpio still believes that the Chinese people are inherently good people. It is that they had been brainwashed to believe otherwise, he says. Thus, it is important to reach their citizens who travel overseas as they could be the opinion leaders in their country. Our journalists should get together with other media people likewhat our heroes – Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar and others who formed the Propaganda Movement had done, as our kind of propaganda should be a well organized and sustained campaign. It is about time that our journalists pick up from where the legal professionals who prepared the arbitral ruling had left. The task is to popularize, translate into understandable concepts and formats using the social media as well, in communicating the issues,” he emphasized.
As Nobel laureate for economics, Amartya Sen said, in his latest book, “Collective Choice and Social Welfare,”
a lot of non-truths has been cultivated. Factual information has suffered through what is described as “alternative facts.” He noted the decline in the quality of public reasoning and social assessments and about getting information right. The consequence is that people are feeling less free and less confident to express their views. But democracy
requires public discussion and it is damaged when people are afraid to speak out.”
This Truth Movement that Justice Carpio advocates, would complement existing fact-checking initiatives and would be the most appropriate response to the rising disinformation and loss of faith in our public institutions.
During his 18-year tenure in the high court, he was confronted with formidable challenges. Of the total 935 decisions that he had rendered, 30 were concurring opinions, and 79, dissenting opinions. But his fellow justices considered his dissents as platforms that elevated discussions. His most notable contribution, they say, was during the time he served as acting Chief Justice as these were then tumultuous times and he did bring stability to the court.
Citing a survey showing that 93% say we should assert the arbitral ruling, Justice Carpio noted that his primary task now is to convince President Duterte (who is part of the 7%) to honor the ruling. In fact, when asked what he would do in retirement, he said he will continue to fight for our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, by among others, writing his second book on the issues surrounding our claim. He will also write a column for a national daily.
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