Issue of April 15, 2018

Panagbenga Flower Festival
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Sereno is "ignorante," "bobo" and "torpe"

One cannot help but admire the fighting spirit, spunk, and courage of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Besieged from virtually all sides, even from within her own court, the lady has continued to tenaciously hold her ground.

Maybe that is because her struggle is anchored not in the conviction that she is fighting for herself, but for the judiciary as an independent institution and for basic principles of decency and democracy. If the present generation, especially Duterte lovers, do not approve of what she is doing, we predict that the judgment of history will be kinder.

Despite initial advice from some, that she should not attend the quo warrant hearing before the Supreme Court, and save herself from the embarrassment of being grilled by justices who had already indubitably demonstrated hostility toward her, she walked into the lion’s den and bravely argued her case.

To her credit, during all the previous days and months of her ordeal, Sereno had calmly and elegantly argued on the basis of the law, jurisprudence, logic, reason and basic tenets of our democratic system and history.

As soon as Duterte arrived from China, he also argued against Sereno.

His arguments? Sereno is “ignorante,” “bobo” and “torpe.” And his followers love it.

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Another feisty lady of recent history is Madeleine Albright. She was the first woman to become Secretary of State of the United States and served from 1997 to 2001.

Last week, Albright released her new book entitled: “Fascism: A Warning.”

Starting to read the opening chapters, we were struck by some of her thoughts. For example, she wrote: “The United States has had flawed presidents before; in fact, we have never had any other kind, but we have not had a chief executive in the modern era whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals.” Replace the words “United States” and write “Philippines” instead, it may also be a perfect fit.

More directly, Albright further writes: “If Trump insists that judges are biased and calls the American criminal system a “laughingstock,” what is to stop an autocratic leader like Duterte of the Philippines from discrediting his own judiciary?”

If Duterte reads the words of Albright, we suspect he will also call her “ignorante,” “bobo” and “torpe.” And say: Pu…..ina!

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To dispel speculations that he closed Boracay to pave the way for the entry of a huge Chinese casino-hotel complex, Duterte immediately claimed there will be no casino. He asserted that he will give Boracay to farmers.

Farmers? Boracay residents immediately wondered what farmers will farm when there are no farms or adequate agricultural lands in Boracay.

Well, farms are not only for planting rice or corn. Perhaps we can also make Boracay a troll farm, or marijuana farm and make money if we can export our produce to China.

Actually, Boracay was an agricultural community before it was discovered by the tourist trade. Local residents then depended on copra and fishing for their income and livelihood. It was basically a hand to mouth existence. After it became a world-class tourist spot, it became hugely lucrative. In 2017, alone it brought in P56 billion in terms of income.

Can we earn the same amount if we went back to agriculture, even if our produce is marijuana? But perhaps we should not think of money alone. If tourism has destroyed Boracay and made it decay, it is only right that it should be fixed.

And maybe the same can be said about Baguio.

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