Of drivers and sweet lovers

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - Banat

Honestly and frankly, we do not see anything irregular or immoral when a single cabinet member happens to fall in love with his or her driver, if and when the latter is unmarried. Love, after all, knows no boundaries, respects no ranks and honors no protocol.

The late Justice Florenz Regalado once wrote in a decision he penned that "Love has its own reasons, which reason itself does not know." If it is pure love, it matters not whether one is a high-ranked dignitary and the other is a menial servant. And yes, love is a private matter, but when one is a public official, even bedroom affairs are open to public scrutiny.

Generally, there is nothing wrong when love blossoms between a woman who is superior in stature and economic status and a man who earns his livelihood by the sweats of his brows. The annals of Philippine "telenovelas" and literary classics are replete with stories of young daughters of hacienderos falling for handsome hunks among the sons of the tenant-farmers in the hacienda, or the young "señorito" taking vacation in the village getting smitten by the virginal and innocent-looking teen-age daughter of the maid in the mansion. These are the materials that make blockbuster movies and even classic literary gems.

It is not for you or me to make judgment on the propriety or impropriety of two human beings being enraptured by the raging passions of the flesh or engulfed by the overwhelming emotions of romance. But when official functions are being compromised or public interests are sacrificed in the name of private affairs, then the state and the government may inquire into the personal relationships of public officials.

Of course, it is essential that guilt should be established by competent evidence after due process. Speculations and rumors may unfairly malign character and destroy the honor and reputation of innocent persons.

This column however does believe that the president has enough facts and evidence in his hands before he made serious allegations. He is a lawyer and he is a man of dignity and decency. He is just very candid and spontaneous. He does not hide behind the cloak of eloquence and does not embroider his words with flowery English and Tagalog (unlike another president we used to hear always not too long ago). But President Duterte is not immune to hyperbole, simile and other figures of speech. He may sound too open and sometimes he utters "un-presidential" phrases which are unprintable.

What matters most is that he, the president, always says the truth. The truth may hurt or may put some people in ridicule and in very uncomfortable position. But the head of state cannot lie to his people.

He had been elected by more than sixteen million Filipinos, with more than six million plurality over his best performing opponent. He is fighting many drug syndicates, gambling syndicates, tax evaders, corrupt officials, and even foreign ambassadors who attempt to interfere with his domestic affairs. He even challenges the UN, the US ambassadors. He minces no words.

And so, the president cannot close his eyes to private affairs among alleged lovers who he believes have supposedly put personal matters over national interest. We just have to trust that he is proceeding from a premise of truth.

[email protected].

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