POSTSCRIPT / May 3, 2009 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Why exempt a Lozada from the accepted rules?

EXEMPTIONS: The usual partisans, some of them close friends, will not like this.

Some of us watching from a distance are not comfortable seeing somebody who “blew the whistle” on a controversial government transaction being exempted from arrest and detention while facing criminal charges.

We must reward witnesses exposing a crime (although it is their duty to report it, otherwise they could be obstructing justice). But is it right to bend the rules for them when they themselves are in hot waters for an entirely different infraction?

If we make exceptions, depending on the preponderance of political pressure, we might as well suspend all the rules for everybody or delete them outright from the books.

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ALL OR NONE AT ALL: The court seems to be afraid to touch “whistleblower” Jun Lozada who has been charged with perjury. A flock of angels — including VIPs and nuns — has descended to shield him from the authorities enforcing the law.

Even Mayor Fred Lim, who proclaimed when he was campaigning for votes that the law should “apply to all or (to) none at all,” wants to take Lozada under his protective wings to spare him the raw city jail experience.

Maybe what the mayor should do is mitigate his collections from mammoth City Hall contracts and divert more funds to improving jail conditions in his jurisdiction.

That way, Jun Lozada types and hizzoner’s friends will not squirm when facing the prospects of staying in jail.

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FEARFUL FOES: By the time Pacquiao takes on Mayweather (or whoever), it would be just in time for the November deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

There will be more than enough time, you know, for the ensuing Pacquiao skip-a-rope campaign for the local elections five months later.

We can imagine Sarangani’s Rep. Erwin Chiongbian and Gov. Miguel Dominguez already squirming in their corners as they await the challenger to climb the ring.

Not counting his purses from earlier fights, plus the pile of money earned from advertisments and investments, his six-minute performance at the MGM Grand had grossed him more than half-billion-pesos – enough, you know, to make any poll rival tremble.

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UNUSUAL POSTING: Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro may want to consult Luli, President Gloria Arroyo’s daughter who passed the exams for foreign affairs officers but could not be appointed without exposing her mother to nepotism charges.

Luli, or anybody steeped in protocol and diplomatic practice, will tell Teodoro that some rules appear to have been violated with his sudden announcement of the assignment of two senior generals to ambassadorial posts.

The brand-new political envoys are generals Alexander Yano, AFP chief of staff, being posted in Brunei, and Cardozo Luna, vice chief of staff, being sent to the Hague.

Unusual circumstances marked their appointment: (1) the generals were retired prematurely and their terms of office cut short to accommodate a Palace favorite, and (2) their posting was unilaterally announced without the prior agrement of the receiving state.

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NO AGREMENT: Posting of ambassadors takes the formal route of bilateral consultations. The sending state nominates, and the receiving state studies the nomination. If the latter approves of the prospective ambassador, it sends an “agrement.”

Then, and only then, will both states announce SIMULTANEOUSLY the diplomatic assignment. If attorney Teodoro does not believe this and cannot locate Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, he can call up former senator Kit Tatad.

The term “agrement” is often misspelled in Manila newspapers. It usually comes out as “agreement” or, as in that unfortunate report last Saturday, as “agremont” — probably because the reporter misheard the French pronunciation.

As ambassadors are alter egos of the sovereign sending them, the President can appointment anybody. Even her family driver or hairdresser will do, if she so desires. But there are established rules to follow, otherwise we look like rank amateurs.

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NO KIDDING: I had a good laugh Friday when a friend texted to tell me that it was not George Washington but Abraham Lincoln who delivered that famous address in 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He was referring to the “Kabataan” entry in my Thursday column listing some Party-List sectors whose names are not descriptive of their membership and advocacies. The item was:

Kabataan — Mabuhay kayo, mga ‘Hope of the Fatherland’ — as George Washington called the youth in his famous Gettysburg address.”

The late Adrian Cristobal used to tell us, his juniors, that it is useless to answer or explain to those who do not understand satire or humor.

Why should I explain nga naman that the mismatch of speech and speaker was intentional? It could have been more complicated had the texter noticed another deliberate mismatch — that it was not Washington, but Jose Rizal, who called the youth the fair Hope of the Fatherland.

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RIGHT TO REPLY: That Postscript mentioning several Party-List groups that sought House seats in the last elections illustrates how absurd and unworkable is the Right to Reply measure being pushed in Congress.

As the Party-List groups were treated rather lightly in my column — or maliciously as some who have no sense of humor might say — I may have opened myself to a deluge of demands for their side to be run with equal prominence in my space.

I wonder what ever happened to the Right to Reply bill already approved on third reading in the House and the Senate version that suddenly vanished from sight.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 3, 2009)

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