Issue of August 5, 2018
Mt. Province

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Actors vs clowns

Our good friend and mentor, Fr. Ranhillo Calangan Aquino, is not a lawyer. But when it comes to the law, he is more knowledgeable than many lawyers. He holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Columbia Pacific University.

His range of knowledge and proficiency is not limited to law. Apparently, law is not even his first love. It is Philosophy. He is a Doctor of Philosophy (summa cum laude), Master in Philosophy (summa cum laude), and Bachelor in Philosophy (summa cum laude) holder.

Our Supreme Court did not hesitate to make him head of the Academic Affairs Office and chair of the Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy of the Philippine Judicial Academy.

It is no wonder also that even as a non-lawyer, Fr. Rannie is the Dean of the Graduate School of Law of San Beda.

Recently, he was appointed as a member of the Duterte Consultative Committee that was tasked with drafting a proposed new constitution. That he is qualified is beyond question.

But we had misgivings about his appointment. We feared that his skills, knowledge, and talent would only be wasted by a regime that may not appreciate his vision, commitment, and abilities. We felt that he would only be used as window dressing in a highly charged political game. But then we were confident that the extremely intelligent man that he is, would not allow that he be relegated in that manner.

He accepted the position, then seriously and enthusiastically devoted his time to the given task. He is responsible for many contributions and interventions on the draft constitution.

He kept us abreast of developments by continuously posting them on social media. We disagree with many of his positions, especially on federalism. But that is not the point. His views could be well studied and considered than ours.

After the Consultative Committee completed its draft and submitted it to President Rodrigo Duterte, the committee expectedly ceased to exist (functus oficio). But Fr. Rannie took it upon himself to continue to publicly explain the finished draft by writing and posting Internet “primers” with the obvious intention of enlightening our people.

That was before a problem presented itself. He has since decided to stop publishing primers. In his own words:

“I will stop writing my primer on the ConCom draft because I have been told that Mocha Uson will explain it to the nation for us.” Now, I know how bad things really are.

You use actors, actresses, and Mocha when you want something raved about. That’s called finagling. But when you want people to understand and to discern, you get serious and you ask the clowns to return for the intermission.

It looks like my initial misgivings about the value of Fr. Rannie’s role in the drafting of a constitution under a Duterte regime may be coming true. Even former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who was the chair of the Consultative Committee, seemed to be having misgivings about the fate of the draft they prepared. He has warned that he will withdraw support for the draft he helped prepare, if the “anti-dynasty” provision is removed. He says that position is “beyond compromise.”

Between Fr. Rannie or CJ Puno on one hand, and Mocha Uson on the other, who can explain a constitution better? Is that even a question? But perhaps we misread the vagaries of the times. The Duterte administration may well be correct. The people may rave and listen to Mocha more.

And it will help that the Presidential Communications and Operations Office, where Mocha is an assistant secretary, is asking for a P1.351-billion budget. That will go a long way in making the people rave some more. Sen. Nancy Binay has already asked that Mocha first delivers a lecture on federalism before the senators.

Proponents of Cordillera autonomy should learn from this episode. Instead of fielding Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Rep. Mark Go, and other Cordillera officials, politicians, and other “clowns” for “intermission” purposes (to borrow the description of Fr. Rannie), maybe their cause would be better served if they looked for a Mocha counterpart. Like Fr. Rannie says, this is a game of actors and clowns, and it would seem that for the Filipino people, actors can communicate better. The others are just “clowns.”

After all, as Fr. Rannie also says, “finagling” (manipulating, tricking, cheating, and wheedling) is the name of the game.

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