Letter from Lulu Saguisag Santos

June 21, 2024

Following the publication of our obituary article on the death of the great freedom fighter and statesman Rene Saguisag (“Why Rene Saguisag was only a 1-term senator,” April 26, 2024), we received a letter from the late senator’s only sister Lulu Saguisag Santos.

Mrs. Santos corrected us that the article cited a quotation that was never said by the late senator. She wrote a letter to the Vera Files newsroom and to this writer’s Facebook Messenger account. I have not received that, however, as it probably found its way to a moribund account. In the interest of truth, I quote from her letter:

“The commentary on Duterte towards the end of the article did not come from my brother. Attached is the rightful source, which came out on Facebook in 2016. It has resurfaced a number of times, with wrong attribution, and the family had to issue clarificatory statements to the effect that while Rene agrees with what was said, he cannot claim credit for what is not his. Unfortunately, I can no longer trace copies of those statements.”

Mrs. Santos is right. The particular statement quoted came out virally in social media and was attributed to the late senator. The column article was of course all praises for him for giving “the most mocking commentary against Duterte for the surreptitious burial of the dictator Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” the burning issue at the time.

The following was the statement in toto attributed to Rene Saguisag:

“In the end there really is no one to blame but you Mr. Duterte. Your incorrigibility is your worst trait. You have yet to learn Philippine history.”

“To favor one family over thousands of martial law and human rights abuse victims is insulting to say the least to them and their families. You wouldn’t even listen to the leftists in your cabinet; they who likewise suffered immensely during those dark days. And for what? To curry favor with the Marcoses? To fulfill a campaign promise? Because your father served in the Marcos cabinet?”

“I believe your title is President, not King. You demand respect but seem to be incapable of giving any. We elected a leader, not a ruler, and you can’t seem to tell the difference. You took an oath to defend the Constitution but from your actuations since taking office you seem to be testing your new found powers, from your pronouncements about imposing martial law, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, to having to ‘innovate the law,’ what ever that means.”

“Be very careful about crossing the Filipino people sir. In millennial speak, Don’t Us! The Philippines is bigger than Davao; you cannot bully your way thru any decision you make and expect no consequences.”

“This is not an Aquino-Marcos thing as you so wrongly configure it to be. The former president has so far been quiet on the issue despite the goading and bashing of your hordes. If you have any decency left in you, listen to the people’s cry. Listen to reasonable men, not your inner circle of suck-ups and sycophants.”

“Words have consequences, and how you tread from hereon may have dire ones for you.”

Mrs. Santos attached a post in the Facebook group The Silent Majority, one of the social media accounts that published the statement. This particular one that she claims was the rightful source was an accompaniment to the article “Former senator: Duterte to blame for Marcos burial” published by CNN Philippines (N.B. the article appears to have been taken down but has been archived by the Reddit app).

One group, however, the Ateneo For Better Philippines (AFBP), wrote Rene Saguisag through his email and asked for clarification. He replied on November 27, 2016 in his typical signature prose, as provided by Mrs. Santos. Let me quote him in full, punctuations and all:

“I doubt that I did. ??? I’d like it sourced.

I am unhinged, no doubt, but style is the man himself. – Montaigne. Not mine.

Can’t imagine anyone telling me, “I like your style,” – on the basis of what appears below.

I agree with what is said, attributed or misattributed, to me.

I may say Mr. Prez, Digong, Digs, etc. but “sir”?

“Don’t#” Huh? I don’t know anything about this whatever.

“The privilege” is suspended, but never “the writ” itself (of habeas corpus), I tell my studes.

99.9999999% I am not the source. If I were, it was transmogrified.”

The email above did not make it virally, however, to counter the wrongly attributed statement.

So we stand by the truism that there is honor in truth: the late senator Rene Saguisag did not say such statement and we apologize to his family for using a wrong attribution in our obituary of him.

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VERA Files

VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit, independent media organization. Founded in March 2008, it is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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