Thursday, September 27, 2007


Rewrites of Jottings: FRAYING DOCTRINES

Published Mindanao Post 3 Feb 1999
A new twist to the concept of “freedom of the press” was recently demonstrated to distaff members of the Malacañang press club. The unlikely tutors were not from academe but President Erap bodyguards who jostled and freely pressed with gusto select body parts of female reporters. Of course, all in the name of presidential protection.
Far from appreciating the groping and fondling session, the ungrateful ladies griped to Erap about the “chancing” which means, figuratively, to grab the chance, but when translated literally, to mash choice squishy portions. Two or three of the “chancers” who engaged in this boy’s prank were meted punishment befitting naughty boys. The pranksters could have been faulted for their poor timing – this country celebrates fool’s day on December 28 (Innocent’s Day) while the rest of the globe does it on April 1 (April Fool’s Day).
A novel way of creating Filipino champions was conceived by some brilliant Pinoys in Manila when Filipino debaters participated in the Metro Pacific 19th World Universities Debating Championships. According to a news report, when the last Filipino debaters lost in the quarterfinal round, the organizers formed a new contest category for English as a Second Language to allow non-English-speaking-country participants a chance to become world champions.
This report did not specify the language used for the new category. Taglish may have given Pinoys a distinct edge. (Note: Taglish is the Filipino slang that is rapidly replacing Filipino, a.k.a. Tagalog, and English as the lingua franca of the country.
Although the revisionist art is not original – Filipino tykes and their mentors in the Little League of Baseball surreptitiously tried it in the early 60’s but got caught – the technique of modifying rules “to suit” does open vistas of Filipino world champions in the Asian games, maybe even in the Olympics.
The shifting-rules doctrine is also extant in completed bids of lucrative government projects heavy with lucre. By alleging bids are rigged, an agency is given the chance to re-bid the project with slight modifications “to suit”. This turn of events sends a signal to the briber that he may lose the bid award along with the cum-shaw unless he coughs up some more.
The change-rules game is even seeping into congressional benches. According to seated party-list representatives, when the 2%minimum required by law to elect a party list member was set aside to allow more reps to fill the 20% provided for by the Constitution. But the 38 party-list hopefuls had their seats yanked aside temporarily by the Supreme Court before they could sit. This has not stopped them from demanding back wages for the seats they have yet to occupy, in parallel to anticipatory doctrine imbedded in an earlier judicial decision.
With no torrential rains or deluges lately on areas under 10º North latitude, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the vaunted ferocity of La Niña has fizzled out, at least in Philippine area of vulnerability. My fearless forecast: the normal dry season may now be upon us and we can expect weather forecasts to settle down to the trite “cloudy with isolated rain showers due to the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the northeast monsoon” followed by the time the sum will rise and set – which is really not a forecast but a certainty (it had better be or we’d all be in big, big trouble).
Some recent storm advisories are a bit puzzling. Either there has been a radical change in weather fundamentals vastly different from that taught to us in meteorology or else our weather forecasters have become overly sensitive to past criticisms. My curiosity is pricked by forecaster warnings of a depression or even a full-blown storm located several hundred miles WEST of Philippine terra firma. We were taught that such disturbances, induced by the Coriolis force, tend to move westward or northwestward, thereby would be of no consequence to the country’s weather.
Nevertheless, I agree with the general perception that our national weather forecasting system (named PAGASA somewhat euphemistically) needs modernizing almost as desperately as DECS does (never mind the AFP and PNP who can surely fend for themselves – what with copious intelligence funds – while the Agri sector needs much more than modernization as the prognosis could be terminal).
It’s time to discard the scratchy crystal ball and upgrade from sole reliance on the rudimentary barometer and anemometer coupled to a computer or two. We need to raise the level of scrutiny and analysis to heights above cumulonimbus clouds up to the jet stream, to acquire a few Doppler radars, and to link with major weather organizations and their monitor satellites, such as those in Japan, Britain, and the U.S.
And let’s stop the farcical nationalistic naming of storms into Pinoy names when they enter our territory. These storms are detected and given other names before rushing into our waters. It is time to respect our betters if we wish to be accepted as a team player.
Incidentally, was PAGASA still under holiday stupor when a storm lashed the Tawi-Tawi island group in early January 1999? The only news heard about the storm was on the relief efforts of the DSWD. Weathermen under the weather?
While the El Niño has faded away and fickle Niña dissipates, Santo Niño is vibrant in the prize-laden Sinulog extravaganza – albeit not so “extra” this year – that lures dolled-up child performers (which critics brand as child labor with parental consent and cupidity). Indeed, it is hard to imagine how the mimicking of African-American dance antics, complete with blackened bodies and war paint, could ever promote our culture or contribute to the cause of freedom of religion.
Placed as a newspaper ad is a message of concern from the Campaign Against the Death Penalty that states: “Justice is not always blind. Trials are not always fair. Lawyers are not always honest. Judges are not always just. BUT DEATH IS ALWAYS FINAL.”
Fancy rococo rhetoric, but I thought all along that these truths were self-evident and well established in our society. The thought that such widely held impressions are even advertised, at no mean cost, evokes a few intriguing questions. Was the death penalty law passed as an adjunct to state population policy? Is this policy tacitly manifested in the slow starvation of jail inmates and in the laxity of jail controls to prevent smuggling of weapons used in internecine gang feuds?
The death penalty law, rather than heading towards repeal, will instead be expanded to include plunder or economic sabotage – even if no life is taken – and car hijacking if a fatality is involved, among other crimes considered heinous and deserving capital punishment.
A head count shows 448 rapists awaiting the death syringe, and more are lining up in court. Yet still more rape cases are surfacing on TV news with the trademark kerchief shrouding the victim’s face, which makes a born skeptic wonder if any of these aren’t merely copycats fishing for media attention or perchance a film offer. A stunning fact is that rapists constitute more than half of those on death row, deviates who are in their predicament because of turpitude and a hyperactive libido, but who shunned the less risky prostitute, HIV notwithstanding, and chose instead to flirt with death by committing incest. (A curious fact is why, with so many pedophiles roaming the country, no victim of pederasty has come forward.)
The Supreme Court, as many wished, redeemed the speculatory restraint order on the Echegaray case. The executions will now proceed in earnest despite cogent pleas that death is much too extreme a penalty for the crime of aggravated rape, and that the rapist should be given a chance to rue his wickedness behind bars for the rest of his life. Still others say, in a tone dripping with sarcasm, that castration is a final and fitting punishment so that a rapist languishes in prison brooding on his lost manhood until he dies, were it not proscribed as being cruel and unusual.
It seems that the heat and passion of the life-versus-death debate will linger among us for a while. Cynics will emerge to suggest the absurd notion that the death penalty is a pragmatic means to obviate upkeep costs of life-termers, or even the ghoulish proposition to donate the body organs of executed convicts to save a life, and thus assuage the lex talionis (law of retaliation), the tit for tat doctrine.
At the moment, the general sentiment seems to favor the macabre. But, not always.

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