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Solicitor General Alfredo Benipayo, a rara avis Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benipayo, by admitting what this administration

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide () - April 9, 2006 - 12:00am was denying, bungled a job. The consequence was fully expected. The
former solicitor general saw the last day of his office. His exit became
The other day was the 19th death anniversary of my old man, Napoleon. He inevitable.
was a very ordinary man who had no pretense to any worldly possession he
did not have. What he did have and which we, the family members, lament It must have taken Benipayo's sleep away for many nights before the oral
not to have inherited was his gift in languages. We remember, with argument poring on how to say what. While arguing before the Supreme
immeasurable pride, of course, that our old folk, who was educated during Court, Benipayo could have aped the body language of Former Comelec
the American regime, also spoke fluent Spanish and Latin. Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano when the latter claimed never to have left
this country at the height of the "Hello Garci" scandal. Or soon after the
To refresh my memory of him, I, also the other day, skimmed through some argument, Benipayo could have mimicked the apologetic lips of the president
faded photographs and other memorabilia. I came upon my own high school when she asked forgiveness from this country for "lapse of judgment". To
junior and senior prom. It happened, coincidentally, on April 7 and naturally, I public knowledge, he did not do either. So, he had to lose all worldly perks.
had goose bumps.
Yet, while Solgen Benipayo did not gain the whole world, he, in my humble
According to that memoir, the setting was our bequeathing legacies to the estimation, kept his soul intact. He foreclosed his expected appointment to
juniors I found, in what I apparently said in that occasion, a very touching the Supreme Court as he earned the disfavor of the president in much the
note which could have only been suggested by my father - "what does it same degree that he collected the ire of those whose actions he assailed
profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul". In all frankness, I but, more importantly, he stood firm in the belief of what was right and
could not remember having said that line but in all candidness, too, having consistent in upholding the truth. I could not ask for more and if my father
learned it to biblical, I believe it is appropriate all the time, especially today. were alive today, he would have pointed in the direction of former Solicitor
General Alfredo Benipayo as an epitome of the line "what does it profit a
Presently, it can very well be uttered by the former Solicitor General Alfredo man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul".
Benipayo.
Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2006/04/09/330732/solicitor-
I do recall that Solgen Benipayo was, to use a relatively new coinage, on general-alfredo-benipayo-rara-avis#XZVfKF6ZGiADKi5F.99
line, to become a Justice of the Supreme Court. That could have been the
noblest dream of the former solicitor as it is, the highest aspiration of a
lawyer. Benipayo was in a position to have his legal opinions heard in many
corners of the government bureaucracy and in the process expose the
profundity of his understanding of the law for all to observe. His position was
close to the powers-that-be whose fiat must, in addition to being heard, be
heeded. All pieces for his rendezvous to a magistracy of the highest tribunal
seemed ready to fall into place. Its only wanting piece was a vacancy.

Then came a definitive event. It was the oral argument on a controversial


and immensely adversarial case. In the solemn halls of the Supreme Court,
the very difficult side of the government on the questioned Presidential
Proclamation 1017 was espoused ably by the thought process of Solgen
Benipayo. His stand was, in the midst of adverse public opinion, gallant.

Solgen Benipayo was attributed to have said something like the


implementation of PP 1017 not being constitutional, or words to that effect. I
am sure he was true to his conviction and said what was in his mind. But, his
honesty did not matter. To the government of Her Excellency, President