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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, March 24, 2018
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OPINIONS

Journalists and terrorists

Ninfa Leonardia

The President has expressed doubts about the proposal to abolish dynasties in the new Constitution to be drafted. I guess he is being realistic about the success of such a law. In fact, one might say that he also has a “dynasty” in that his daughter succeeded him as mayor of Davao and his son was her vice mayor until he gave up, leading his own father to tag him as a “gangster”. Now we don’t know if the President really meant that, or it was just some sort of “cariño brutal”, but there you are.

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I also heard that the proposal is to only limit the privilege of running for office or being appointed, to one in the second degree of relationship. Now what happens if the incumbent president, governor, mayor or any other official has dozens of second degree relatives? Will they all be accommodated, being eligible according to the law? With Filipino families breeding several children, could one’s six or seven siblings still be eligible for office in government? Let us wait to see what the drafters of the proposed changed charter will say about that.

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Until now, though, I, for one, am still not convinced that the drafting of the new charter or our Constitution, should be left only to a ConAss, or Constitutional Assembly. I believe that the voice of the people, should be heard and considered, which could only happen in a ConCon or Constitutional Convention. It is only after decades, that we amend the law of the land, and it does not at all seem fair to leave it all to a group of people no matter how brilliant, or close to the powers-that-be they area. Let our voices be heard, let everybody be involved. That way we can have a Constitution that represents us all.

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This we have to see. The House of Representatives is working on an act that would ban government officials and employees, soldiers and policemen from gambling in casinos. Well, I believe there is already an existing ban on that, but the proposal now is to impose a fine of P100,000 on those caught in action. Well that is a hefty sum, but if one is winning, maybe, he or she will not mind. But is it only casino gambling that is not allowed for them? What about home sessions of mahjong, black jack, monte and other betting games? One would think, though, that after the two big fires that had hit casinos in the past two years, one would have some trepidations about entering one.

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Now it a case of an accuser himself being accused. The lawyer who filed the impeachment case against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno is now facing disbarment charges from one of his colleagues who cited his “disgraceful conduct” and his “dishonesty, arrogance, and rudeness” during the proceedings at the House Justice Committee. At the same time, his accuser, a certain Wilfredo Garrido Jr. claimed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines that Lawrence Gadon, who initiated the impeachment charges, also charged him of committing perjury, among other crimes.

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Well, let the lawyers have their fun and get the exposure they want. In the meantime, Sereno seems to have become a popular campus speaker and is constantly in the news while being surrounded by people who obviously do not want the first woman to become Chief Justice of the highest Court in the land to be kicked out this way. I notice, too, that most women columnists and journalists seem to have a soft spot for her. The President has apparently washed his hands off the case. So who is behind it? Just Gadon, and some of her fellow justices?

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It should be good news for business operators in Boracay that the Palace has announced that the island resort will not be closed during summer. That means they can still take advantage of the vacationists and tourists who will surely want to visit the famous vacation place in the country. I am afraid, though, that the negative publicity it has been getting, especially that about the sewage system going to the sea, will turn off a lot of visitors. Anyway, let us hope that after news of the closure and the reason for it goes viral, the number of foreign tourists will not reduce, with most of them searching for other places they can enjoy as well.

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I laughed out loud when I read the statement of Satur Ocampo, alleged to be a top officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, quoted in the Philippine Star that “I’m a journalist, not a terrorist”. Indeed, Satur was formerly known as a journalist and I suppose, he is still one. But sometimes there seems to be little difference between the two. Some journalists could be terrorists also, in the way they pounce on the objects of their exposés. Not, of course, if they stick to the truth, but when biases get into the picture, then they could also admit to being agents of terror. But not the way Satur’ detractors regard him, of course.*

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