Nicolas Lewis at an Anti-China rally (left photo). Filipinos demonstrate
against extrajudicial killings (right photo)
confident that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte will not declare martial law. This
confidence is based on the bountiful evidence that the Filipino people
seem entirely too willing to voluntarily surrender their fundamental
constitutional rights so there would be no need to formally declare
This conclusion is
drawn from the public reaction to a speech Pres. Duterte delivered at
the regional convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
on November 4. In that Manila Hotel speech, Duterte informed his
audience of lawyers that there will be a massive demonstration against
him in the United States next year and that the moving force behind this
protest is Filipino American Loida Nicolas-Lewis.
“Meron next year, a
certain financier, mayaman na babae who married a black and is now a
millionaire and she is planning to do massive demonstration,” he said.
An online publication,
politics.com.ph, reported Duterte’s speech in its November 4, 2016 issue
with this sensationalized banner headline: “Duterte unmasks Loida
Nicolas Lewis’ plot to launch massive protests to oust him” -
If that report is
true, is that a crime? If not, why did Duterte feel the need to “unmask”
Is organizing a
protest rally a crime?
The Philippine lawyers
at that convention, as well as Duterte himself, who was a former
government prosecutor, are all aware of Article III Section 4 of the
1987 Philippine Constitution which states that “No law shall be passed
abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government
for redress of grievances”.
The IBP members are
also familiar with the Philippine case of Jacinto vs. Court of Appeal
[346 SCRA 665 (1997)] which held that the right to peaceably assemble
and petition for redress of grievances is, together with freedom of
speech, of expression and of the press, “a right that enjoy primacy in
the realm of constitutional protection. For these rights constitute the
very basis of a functional democratic policy, without which all the
other rights would be meaningless and unprotected.”
But yet none of the
Philippine lawyers at the Manila Hotel on Nov. 4 stood up to defend
Loida Nicolas Lewis, who placed 7th in the Philippine bar exams in 1967,
and who was the first Filipina to be admitted to practice law in New
York state. None dared to assert to Pres. Duterte that Loida has every
right to call for a peaceful demonstration against Duterte even if it is
attorney stood up for Loida. In his Internet post, former senator Rene
Saguisag wrote that he has known Loida since the early 1960s when they
were both involved in the Student Catholic Action (SCA) and in the
National Union of Students (NUS) and when they “bar-reviewed” together
in San Beda in 1967 although Loida went to the University of the
Philippines School of Law.
“I know that if Loida
wants something done,” Saguisag wrote, “she will do it by the force of
reason and never by reason of force. She'll do it morally and legally…
No mean bone in a kind and gentle soul.”
concern that a few of Duterte’s followers may be “unhinged” and that
therefore “Loida needs to be more careful here, where she spends a lot
of time, doing good, or elsewhere.” The former senator wondered “how the
lawyers in that Integrated Bar of the Philippines assembly responded
when the Prez, willy-nilly, casually put lawyer Loida's safety in
jeopardy, by convicting her by publicity.”
“We have to have a
higher regard for human life and dignity,” Saguisag counseled.
There is good reason
for Saguisag to be concerned for Loida’s safety. After Duterte’s attack
against Loida appeared online, Duterte’s numerous supporters in the
social media immediately began trolling Loida in their Facebook pages.
One such Duterte
supporter, Mira Savaria Encabo, an OFW based in Bahrain, posted this
Facebook blast against Loida Nicolas Lewis:
“She is the Mouthpiece
of America but posturing a facade of Filipino patriot. How can she be a
pro-Filipino when all her businesses are in the US and all her
allegiance is to the American flag??? Can we let a Fil-Am whose only
claim to fame is her being married to a rich African-American and who
doesn't even have the guts to bring or donate even a little portion of
her wealth and money to Philippines to help the government and the
What had she done to
help the country and have the guts to organize a destabilization move
and to OUST THE BEST PRESIDENT PHILIPPINES EVER HAD IN THE RECENT
HISTORY???? ALL SHE DID IS TALKING TOO MUCH and going for TV INTERVIEWS!
Pretending to be the voice of the people!!!
What right does she
have to meddle in Philippine affairs when she lives comfortably in US,
sheltered from all the trappings of life in the Philippines while she
enjoys the luxury of her late husband's wealth????
Why can't she
concentrate campaigning against discrimination and racism which the
blacks are still experiencing in US? It would definitely make her late
husband's soul to rejoice knowing his money is being spent in something
worth fighting for rather than spending it trying to demoralize,
destabilize and throw out the government and PRESIDENCY LEGALLY ELECTED
by the PEOPLE!!!”
It is evident that the
Duterte supporter never bothered to Google search “Loida Nicolas Lewis”
and relied entirely on Duterte’s false description of her as simply
“mayaman na babae who married a black and is now a millionaire.”
The truth about
Loida Nicolas Lewis
If any of them had
bothered to do basic research, they would have learned that Loida was
already a lawyer when she met Reginald F. Lewis (not “Richard”) on a
blind date in New York City in 1968 when he graduated from Harvard Law
School, and that they were married a year later in Manila.
They lived in a condo
in Manhattan while raising their two daughters with Loida employed as a
lawyer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) while
Reginald was working for a top New York law firm. After 15 years as a
corporate lawyer, Reginald formed his own venture capital firm in 1983,
TLC Group L.P., which he then used to purchase Beatrice International
Foods in 1987 which became the first black-owned company to have more
than $1 billion in annual sales.
In 1993, Reginald
Lewis died of cerebral hemorrhage from brain cancer. A year later, Loida
was picked by the Board of Directors to be the CEO and chair of the
board of TLC Beatrice, a post she held until 2000. As CEO, she cut costs
and sold non-core and underperfoming assets, reduced liabilities and
strengthened the management team. In October 1995, Loida was named the
top US business executive by the National Foundation for Women Business
Owners and Working Woman Magazine.
Also, contrary to the
misinformation being spread on social media by Duterte supporters, Loida
has invested heavily in the Philippines including founding and operating
The Lewis College in Sorsogon which offers quality education in
accountancy and business as well as in science and technology, providing
scholarships to the poor students of her home province of Sorsogon.
As chair of US Pinoys
for Good Governance, Loida Nicolas Lewis, a dual citizen of the US and
the Philippines, has also championed the cause of Philippine sovereignty
in the West Philippine Sea leading global protests against the Chinese
invasion in Philippine territorial waters. She has called for a global
boycott of goods made in China making her “China’s Public Enemy #1”.
The malicious attacks
on Loida Nicolas Lewis by Duterte on November 4 were not aimed at just
silencing Loida but were directed at discouraging Filipino Americans
from joining protest demonstrations against his administration.
The message for
Filipinos in the Philippines
For the Filipinos in
the Philippines, the message was delivered the following day on November
5 when more than a dozen fully-armed members of the Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group of Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8) arrived
at the provincial jail cell of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa at
around 4 a.m. “to serve a search warrant” on him. They removed all the
jail guards and proceeded to shoot and kill Espinosa and his cell mate.
Monsod described the police officers’ cover story as “so flimsy it was
evident that the police were confident that they would get away with
Sure enough, a week
later, Duterte announced that he believed the version of events
presented by the police, whatever it is, as incredible as it may be.
Duterte reiterated his promise to protect cops from being charged if the
cases filed against them came while they were doing their duty.
As Rigoberto Tiglao
commented in his Manila Times column on November 13, 2016: “Duterte’s
stance means we no longer have a rule of law in this country but the
rule of a President and his police who can execute anybody they want,
and claim that their target had fought it out and the police didn’t have
any choice but to defend themselves.”
demonstrated how the police can undertake such execution with total
impunity and brazenness that we should all be outraged, not only at such
trampling of our rule of law, but at such ruthless, merciless murder
carried out by supposed agents of the law," Tiglao wrote.
So, it's good news,
bad news. The good news is that Pres. Duterte will not declare martial
law. The bad news is that no one would notice if he did.
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