Reading that note at the rostrum, he went on talking louder. He argued even more aggressively.
That was lawyer-congressman Didagen “Digs” Dilangalen, who was then the spokesperson of former President Joseph Estrada. For refusing to shut up, he earned the moniker “Mr. Shut Up.”
After a three-year absence, “Mr. Shut Up” is back in Congress as the representative of the lone district of the province of Shariff Kabunsuan.
It is not easy to make lawyers shut up. As advocates, they will passionately argue for their clients using all means allowed by the rules. That is not only their job. That is also their sworn duty.
They are guided by ethical standards of the legal profession which provide that lawyers shall serve their clients with competence and diligence. They shall represent their clients with zeal within the bounds of the law.
Telling them to shut up is like telling them to stop lawyering. However, talking more than what is necessary is another story.
When a witness, who happens to be a lawyer, testifies in court, he tends to speak more than a plain narration of personally known facts. For respect due his colleague in the profession, the opposing counsel may be a little hesitant to request the presiding judge to direct the lawyer-witness to simply answer the questions. The judge himself may be a little more tolerant or at least understanding of the predicament of the witness, who may find it hard to temporarily set aside his usual role as an advocate and be responsive to the questions asked.
Lawyering is about debate. To shut up is normally against the nature of lawyers. They have to open their mouths, speak up and articulate their wisdom for their clients’ cases.
Speaking of wisdom, I have been bothered by my wisdom tooth since my senior year in law school. The tooth has been impacted beyond restoration. As far as I know, wisdom teeth are generally weak and must be extracted sooner or later.
Fearing that anesthesia may affect my memory, I deferred the extraction until after taking the bar examinations. I learned later that that it was a myth, because tooth extraction requires only local anesthesia. But it does not matter for those who were taking the bar would believe anything, from scientific to superstitious, to help them prepare for and pass the exam.
Finally last Saturday, I decided not to prolong my agony and get rid of that impacted wisdom tooth, which has been causing me discomfort and pain. A prior dental X-ray showed that the tooth is “misaligned,” if there is such a medical term. I am not familiar with those terms for I have yet to take up nursing. Just kidding, but who knows.
Having gone through appendectomy and two earlier tooth extractions, I was expecting that I could manage the procedure easily.
But it was not as easy as expected. I spent an hour with the dentist and another hour with the oral surgeon, who had to divide that impacted and misaligned wisdom tooth into three, before extracting the parts one by one. The whole process took at least two long hours.
For two long hours, the only thing I could do was to “thumbs up” when asked if I were okay.
Digs was given a “shut up” note. It did not stop him from opening his mouth and arguing.
The doctors neither told me nor gave me any note to shut up. With extraction and surgical instruments, I was made to open my mouth widest, as if allowed to scream at the top of my lungs.
For two long hours, my mouth was wide open, but I was not able to argue or even say a single word.
The doctors effectively shut me up.
Note: Thank you to Dr. David G. Villagomeza of Brokenshire Hospital and Dr. Wendel Obach of The Dental Point Clinic. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Danilo Balucos, the first business manager of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center, left to pursue Law school, passed the 2006 bar exams and is now a partner in a law firm in Davao City).