Where have they gone?
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - March 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Our President is not averse to unsettling us with his shock jock manner. His deliberately provocative style has its charm. But it is not immune from philosophical critique. His relaxed relation with decorum ignites firestorms of criticism. But they are getting progressively lesser with each episode. It seems that society is becoming steadily anesthetized.

Arguably, this has fostered a culture of tolerance for the irregular. The problem with this mindset is that it can lead to indifference to rules and order and a disdain for moral values, specially in the people around him. And the result can be mayhem.

We have our own Spox. Presidential Spokesman Sal Panelo was rebuked by Chinese Ambassador, Zhao Jianhua. Sec. Sal mindlessly channeled his spokesman persona to speak for the Chinese government. In trying to finesse the President’s disinclination to call out the 400,000 illegal immigrants from China, he had to drag the Chinese Ambassador into the picture and concoct a scenario where the latter threatened a “tit for tat” response should we expel those who are here illegally. This would imperil our flourishing OFW population in China.

The Chinese Ambassador promptly disavowed what was essentially an accusation of blackmail. China, he said, respects Philippine employment and immigration laws on foreign workers.

Sec. Sal may be immune to embarrassment but he could have spared the nation this latest humiliation had he been less flippant with protocol.

Kalabog en Bosyo. And then you have Christopher “Bong” Go and his comedic routine with movie star Philip Salvador on the campaign stage. Their skit uses the latter’s erstwhile partner, Kris Aquino, as a punchline. This is problematic on so many levels, however amusing it may be to the numb. Hugpong ng Pagbabago chair, Mayor and Lady Sara Duterte has assured that the indelicate ribbing would stop.

The Senate demands serious comportment from its suitors. Negotiating on the fates of hundreds of thousands of OFWs and understanding the complications of rice tariffication are just two pressing societal issues it will confront. To navigate the vast and labyrinthine channels of legislation, one would need, as a bare minimum, a familiarity with and fidelity to rules. This is an important currency in the legislative branch.  Its not a good sign if basic rules on gentlemanly conduct can’t even be observed.

Choosing paths. Good governance is a tightrope act. It’s truly a perilous crossing over the chasms of decision making. The weightier the conflicting interests, the tighter the rope. A death defying effort, if the rope were real. This is what beguiles. Inexplicably, our government is trotting out insufferable, deliberate “fall off the rope” acts.

We left the cave for illumination and enlightenment. According to Plato, this makes us philosophers. But with these antics, we are no better than pilosopos. This is regrettable for we have been led in the past by leaders to whom words like honor and delicadeza were more than just abstract concepts. They were foundations of a code they lived by as public men. No shortcuts, no cheap shots. Public service was understood to be a public trust. Hence, the respect for the office.

In Mrs. Robinson, Paul Simon wrote “where have you gone Joe Di Maggio, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” In interviews, Simon said it was his tribute to the man’s unpretentious heroic stature in a time when pop culture magnifies and distorts how heroes are perceived … we mourn for men with the grace and dignity of the baseball legend.

Where have they gone?

Flying pigs and white crows. Cocaine bricks washing ashore on our coasts. Not a joke. According to our President, this means the Colombian drug cartels have arrived. The cocaine landings are happening as far south as Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands and up north at Isabela, Quezon, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte. The cocaine’s street value approaches P5 million. First, the giant magnetic lifters getting past the Bureau of Customs stuffed with P15 billion worth of shabu. Now, this.

The unabated entry of these contraband items: (a) confirms our position as a major drug transshipment point; and (b) repudiates the argument that we are winning the war against illegal drugs. It looks like matters have gotten worse. The occasional busts and exposés involving this and that drug lord or protector actually just deals with petty hoods. The big time players continue to evade capture judging by the discovery of these monster hauls. Res ipsa loquitur.

Government has been touting the figure of a 90 percent reduction in drug supply. In truth, we are all a bit dizzy from the irreconcilables. The President says we now have eight million drug users. Didn’t he originally claim four million? Are we winning the war?

Justitia. The Ateneo School of Law honored its favorite sons last month with the unveiling of the oil portraits of its newest Supreme Court Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo at the Rockwell campus. The three join senior Ateneo magistrates Mariano Del Castillo and Estela Perlas-Bernabe on the Court. Ateneo has the largest contingent at Padre Faura with 5 Justices. UP  is second with four.

Retired Ateneo Justices Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad and the family of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona were all on hand to witness the solemn rituals. The law school has produced 15 Supreme Court justices, including two Chiefs. The first was the legendary Claudio Teehankee.

The law school has also figured prominently in the history of the legislative and executive branches. Graduates have headed both chambers of Congress. Ernesto M. Maceda, the first Ateneo Law Senator, is the only Ateneo lawyer to be elected Senate President. Prospero Nograles and Pantaleon Alvarez both became Speaker of the House. Teofisto Guingona is the first and only Vice President from Ateneo Law.

These men and women and the numerous alumni who joined them stand as eloquent tribute to a tradition of public service that is one of the hallmarks of an Ateneo Law education.

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