‘Bullet point’ is a literary device. It is described as an entry in a newspaper’s style guide. It is expressed in a phrase, a single sentence or even a paragraph that is a usually succinct, pithy, humorous and/or biting commentary of current interest.
Older folks might remember that a well-appreciated practitioner of this column-writing craft was Joe Guevara. His “Point of Order” column was a mainstay feature of the Manila Times, before Martial Law and the Manila Bulletin, thereafter. He passed on in 2008. He was 85. I remembered him because I was in search of a devise by which I could share my own attempts at forming and disseminating opinion.
Hardly any columnist in Manila writes in ‘bullet points’ anymore a la Joe Guevara. Fred Lobo, a fellow Waray-waray, retired from the Bulletin’s desk, continues the Joe-Guevara style and tradition. I think I will attempt it, too. So, here goes. Criticisms I live by and are therefore welcome.
OPRAH AND KRIS
There is now an on-going open titillation for Kris Aquino to run for public office. My Facebook community is so invaded by such rah rah incantations! How Kris will respond is most probably dreaded by her siblings and by very close family friends. But for her fans spoiling for a fight!
Coincidentally, across the Pacific in Hollywood, US politics received a jolt of enthusiasm in reaction to a “barn-burning” acceptance speech delivered by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globe Awards Night last Sunday. A clamor for her to run for the US presidency, no less.
Should Oprah take the plunge, will Kris take on the risk of political temptation?
Oprah’s speech touched upon a very raw nerve in American society: the #Me Too and the #Time’s Up twin movements. This campaign has gained an apparent unstoppable traction and shaking up matters American. Salutary changes in norms and attitudes are now in the horizon. We commented on this in our pre-Christmas piece.
With the rest of the world expressing affiliation for that cause, the Filipino feminists (of all genders) have remained quiet and in my view, disturbingly quiescent. The once aptly vigorous and even morally vociferous “Gabriela,” the once militant women’s movement hereabouts seems to have entered into compliant (even with evident complicity) servitude under the most openly misogynistic Presidency the Philippines has ever experienced.
Or are we going through calm before the onslaught of rage? Catholic Women’s League, where is thine voice? The Filipina cradle craves for a little rocking!
Oh, by the way, here is a little piece of buzz about Mrs. Emelinda Veloso Alvarez or should I say advance authentic information because I can attest to the veracity of my shy source. Remember her as the ousted chairwoman of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc.? She is the now abandoned second wife (of near 30 years duration) of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. This was before the Speaker declared his right to practice polygamy since he belongs to the Manobo indigenous tribe of Mindanao.
My “Tweety-bird” says that Emelinda is shopping around for a very good lawyer to represent her in a legal assault against Alvarez. The pursuit is presumably civil in nature. Property rights, partition, etc., you know. In view of the supposed mysterious past of the Speaker, there really is no guaranty that perhaps a forgotten felony could be fashioned out by an astute lawyer out of conjugal intimacies Emelinda is willing to expend and divulge as part of the case build-up.
Speaker Alvarez and Senate President Pimentel have agreed to convene their respective turfs into a “Constituent Assembly.” (ConAss) Alvarez is even calling for a plebiscite as early as five months from now. The overt intent is to mangle and molest the current Constitution, for no other reason, really, than that presently they are unable to unleash full throttle to their predatory malintents.
Here is something to ponder upon. If the Congressional puppets of Malacanang are able to commit evil by brute force under the 1987 Constitution as they have been predisposed to, can the Filipino imagine how much more precariously perilous our political rights would be if allowed to write their own?
JULIO GUILLEN MOMENT
Speaking of ConAss, a linchpin of the decision to call for a plebiscite hangs upon whether the House and the Senate will vote separately or jointly. Indecently, a convened joint vote of both chambers will obliterate the Senate and along with the fall of that august body, democracy in the Philippines shall have been manipulated and allowed to fail dismally.
The tyranny of numbers cannot find a better example. And since this is a constitutional interpretation issue, it is with such confident alacrity and facility that Speaker Alvarez says let the Supreme Court deal with it!
Then, there is thereby created a perception in the minds of the concerned discerning Filipinos. It is not good at all. There are among us who will refuse to be shackled by inaction. Passions can go past bloody boundaries and cause carnage, you know. Speaker Alvarez and the collaborators in the Supreme Court may be priming themselves for a repeat of a “Julio Guillen” moment, or something bloodier!
What else could emerge from the perception that our Supreme Court, after a series of despicable decisions that very obviously toed the vengeful desires of their appointing ‘padrinos,’ have already allowed themselves to be coopted by the brutal powers Malacanang has unhesitatingly began to unleash? (N.B. Julio Guillen threw a grenade at a Plaza Miranda political meeting in March of 1947 aiming for President Roxas.) Uncorrected perception morphs into the realm of reality.
The final diagnosis rendered by the Supreme Court reviewing the case en banc, under CJ Manuel Moran: Julio C. Guillen—“Not Insane: Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority, without psychosis.” And he went to trial.
I must confess it is an ugly thought and I dread it. Are there neo-Julio Guillens lurking somewhere in the body politic? For sure, should there be one or a few, a rusty World War II grenade would have had an upgrade!
MATURE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
Judges in the American judicial courts enjoy well defined tenures of office. They have the protection of their civil service system and of course, the integrity of public service is shored up by the vigor of public opinion that commands respect. The swift and severe withdrawal of a community’s approbation has always proved fatal to a career in public service gone morally awry.
Ethics in public service is pretty strong stuff and hardly ever poo-poohed in the US! That is a hallmark of maturity. In other words, it seems to me that professionalism, (what ought to be embodied in our long lost virtue of “delicadeza”) is alive, thriving and practiced in the United States. Even Presidents must respect and bow to judicial decisions promulgated by judges within the system. It is never uncommon that the appointing authorities or the sponsoring political partisans are prepared not to call upon allegiances in the adjudication of the law. Ultimately, a civilized society is indeed a nation of laws.
We are witnessing the maturity of the American judicial system with the series of rebukes and reversals President Trump has been handed by the lower district courts over as many Executive Orders that he has issued concerning immigrants and immigration. Judges in the US do not fear Presidential opprobrium and retribution for decisions they hand down not in consonance with Presidential caprice and whimsical wont.
The latest is a decision by a federal judge in San Francisco to stay the Trump-ordered deportation of individuals covered by an Obama-era decision, the DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while deeming that a challenge filed in the courts questioning the constitutionality of the Presidential issuance must first be given judicial due course, without disturbing the status quo.
So should it be, here in our Philippines, right? But is it not pitiably obvious that our judges and justices behave so differently. Complicit, complying and collaborating. Yes, collaborating in that despicable connotation of being a collaborator of WW II vintage!
I long to see professionals fighting for principles. I long to see a civil service establishment that will fight for professionalism against politicians in power who have no respect for integrity. I am unable to find an exhibit more deplorably abject than the manner by which all government participants in the case of Leila de Lima behaved in their pre-ordained, assigned roles. The trumped charges filed against Sen. Leila de Lima cannot happen in a civilized society!
Has the Philippines ever been genuinely a nation of laws?
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.