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Opinion

Don’t ask, don’t tell?

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. - The Philippine Star

I’ve been teaching law for 30 years. At the start of each semester, I find myself envying the class for finding themselves in the middle of the great constitutional clashes of our time. When I was a freshman in law school, the Constitution in force was still the 1973 version. One could hardly expect fireworks then between the departments that would have led to the type of epochal decisions we’re seeing under the 1987 Constitution.

I did live through the EDSA revolution later on, still as a law student. With society, I sought to come to terms with the resultant centrifugal forces that sullied what were thought to be vivid constitutional principles. These hard cases ultimately made their way to the High Court. Once there, to substantiate the adage, they didn’t always make good law. But I’ve enjoyed studying them and bringing them to life for my students, relying on the dissections made by the men and women of the Court.

The decisions or ponencias of our magistrates are a trove. Of both riches and rubbish. When they’re bad, no amount of convoluted ratiocination can redeem them. But when they’re good, they’re of immense informative value aside from being satisfying reads. Truly, the Justices are our greatest teachers. Tip: whatever you do, please don’t bypass the concurring and dissenting opinions.

(Jo)...King. The passages that follow from the landmark 2006 case of Senate v. Ermita on the tension between executive privilege and the congressional power of inquiry reminds us of what’s important as we try to make sense of the present Malacañang v. Senate rigmarole on attendance at hearings (not exactly a “great constitutional clash of our time”).

“Unless the Congress possesses the right to obtain executive information, its power of oversight of administration in a system such as ours becomes a power devoid of most of its practical content, since it depends for its effectiveness solely upon information parceled out ex gratia by the executive.” (Citing Bernard Schwartz, Executive Privilege and Congressional Investigatory Power)

“[W]hat republican theory did accomplish…was to reverse the old presumption in favor of secrecy, based on the divine right of kings and nobles, and replace it with a presumption in favor of publicity, based on the doctrine of popular sovereignty.” (Citing Daniel Hoffman, Governmental Secrecy and the Founding Fathers: A study in Constitutional Controls [1981])

At long last Dimaampao. It was a long wait for Japar Dimaampao. The 191st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is one of legal academe’s acknowledged authorities in taxation, commercial and civil law. It was for this reason that he was at the top of almost all Judicial and Bar Council shortlists, even pre-PRRD.

By coincidence, he also happened to be the highest profile Muslim jurist in our Appelate Court system. For that alone, many pushed for his elevation to the High Court even before he was 50 years old. Today, he is 57. The man was a Court of Appeals Justice at 40, the youngest appointed. He is now the second Muslim ever on our Supreme Court after the equally brilliant Justice Abdulwahid Bidin of UP Law was appointed by President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987. Neither of these men will ever deserve the reference of being called the Court’s “token” Muslim.

Associate Justice Dimaampao is a proud graduate of the University of the East where he earned both his Accountancy and Law degrees.

What are the odds? The country and the world are winding down from the excitement of the “Disney Finals” of the 2021 US Open Women’s draw in tennis. When the tidy world of seeding and qualifications and their expected outcomes and permutations are upended, the result is normally a tournament less compelling for the fans. This translates to colorless matches, plummeting TV ratings and publicity nightmares. Sponsors take hits.

What happened when Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez squared off in the finals is exactly the antithesis to that paradigm. They were nobodies. But, during that week, none could dispute that they were the best in the world. Also the most charismatic. More people tuned in to their match than to the following night’s historic Djokovic effort at a calendar slam and eclipse of Federer and Nadal’s grand slam record. And he was doing this against the tournament second seed, the ultimate winner Daniil Medvedev.

The Raducanu-Fernandez fairytale final also underscored the emergence of the citizen of the world superstar, a phenomenon that Naomi Osaka had already served upon the global audience. Osaka is Japanese-Haitian with US citizenship; Raducanu, Chinese-Romanian with UK citizenship and Fernandez is Filipino-Ecuadorian with Canadian citizenship. Together, this threads Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US/North America. Their impact on the sport, sponsorships and business models, the space for understanding lines of ethnic and national identity, has roiled stakeholders into an electrifying discussion.

Easter eggs. Prior to Leylah, we were all eager for the emergence of homegrown Alexandra Eala on the women’s scene. At the US Open Junior division, Eala made it to the quarterfinals in singles and the semifinals in doubles.

But, who knew? There was, in fact, a title for the Philippines lurking. All this time, a Filipina was tearing up the mixed doubles division. The US Open mixed doubles division was won by Desirae Krawczyk with her partner Joe Salisbury of Great Britain.

Desirae carries the American flag but her mother, Maria, hails from Cagayan. Desirae is not a stranger to the local tennis scene. At 16, she won the Philippine Columbian Open in Paco. Her father is of Polish descent. We add her to the illustrious list above of citizens of the world.

Desirae also won this year’s French Open mixed doubles title with Salisbury. And, at Wimbledon, she won with Great Britain’s Neil Skupski. Before Desirae, only two women ever had won three grand slam mixed doubles titles in the same year. They were both named Martina. Yes, that’s Navratilova in 1985 and Hingis in 2015.

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