Forms of government; ship of fools



JAKE Macasaet I first met in some post-Ninoy, pre-EDSA’86 anti-Marcos gathering in Parañaque. I had a column then in Mr. & Ms. where I thought I’d also see his byline from time to time. We’d occasionally meet in recent years in the Century Park coffee shop. He seemingly never ran out of shrewd insights embellished with risqué ribald tales. Typical Batangueño, mawala na ang yaman, huwag lang ang yabang, ha, ha. But, he put himself where his mouth was. Gutsy.

In the early 1980s, he joined Joe Burgos’ We Forum, raided and closed by Macoy’s Metrocom goons in late 1981 (the sortie was invalidated by the Supreme Court)​. It quickly reemerged as Malaya which Jake eventually owned. He was taken back by the Lord last Sunday.

Goodbye and thank you, Jake. The nation owes you.

Malaya/Business Insight has Pocholo Romualdez, a senior citizen who, in my view, understands that a paper need not be objective as long as it strives to be fair. (And I appreciate his knowledge of, and passion for, major league baseball; what he does not know about it may not be worth knowing).

Seniority may have its edges and privileges.

Sagacious elders

“Senate,” in Roman times, meant a council of sagacious elders or seniors.

If the House and Senate vote separately on changing a “mere” statute naming a callejon or street, it would seem not to be illogical to expect them to vote separately in changing the Constitution.

In my time in the Senate headed by Senate Prez Jovito Salonga of UP, Harvard and Yale, I was in the last row (seating alphabetically arranged). To my left was Manong Bert Romulo, of Central Universidad de Madrid, to my right was Manang Letty Ramos-Shahani of Wellesley and the Sorbonne, and then my fellow grad school alum, Bobby Tañada, one of two Tañadas, pere et fils. who roamed the sacred precincts of Harvard Yard (as I luckily later did, by the grace of a Compassionate Providence).

Higher education should not hurt the public interest in dealing with complex issues. I would not make it a requirement though. Amang Rodriguez may not have been acclaimed for his intellectual prowess but for his awesome people skills, rough-and-ready common sense,​ and work ethic, committed, and focused on public service, which he did not treat as a mere hobby or sideline. He became a good Senate Prez, for a decade.

We as a people were significantly fewer during our 1987-1992 watch, a few years after we were damned as a nation of 40 million cowards and one SOB (and one B, I’d add). Now, we are more than 107 million rabbits.

Amang and his colleagues, and we, in our time (1987-1992) would perhaps never call a critic “gago” (which triggered one probe in the ethics committee [lupon ng kagandahang asal], which I chaired). We saw “citizens as particles of popular sovereignty” (J.P. Laurel) and treated them as bosses (not necessarily on polycentric issues such as foreign military bases here; had we been unicameral in 1991 we might today be America’s last plantation still).

On criticism of my judgment, I knew I had to live with harsh opinions; what I could or would not brook was arbitrarily questioning my integrity in the Cabinet (1986) and in the Senate (1987-1992), on which I could be balat-sibuyas. Not a single singkong-duling I pocketed in the Cabinet or the Senate. After every foreign trip, I had my reports ready on landing at the NAIA, with a detailed accounting, and I quickly returned unspent allowance. No dynasty, no nepotism

We weren’t federal, and federalism may not necessarily elevate ethical standards.

Sad that Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, 53, should improperly fight down his weight and make patol and trade insults with netizens. Senator Win is Senator Loser here, along with the Senate, from where I sit. He should be a man of fortitude, able to thrive in a hardy climate, which gift comes with age and experience.

On age today, it may be hard to tell one chamber from the other. Maybe only Dick Gordon, 72, and Frank Drilon, 72, may qualify as elders, in age, maturity and experience. I know one—or both?—of them has/have moist eyes when called Mr. President. Naluluha po. Josme! Hagulgol pa nga po yata.

Charter change by Con-Ass

On constitutional change by Con-Ass, I have my personal basis and bias for separate voting. On the general issue itself of shifting to federalism, I agree with Alexander Pope: for forms of government, let fools contest, whate’er is best administered is best.

Murphy’s Law says, if something can go wrong, it will; it seems wildly endemic in our nation of scofflaws, a cause of our traffic mess, far worse than it was on June 30, 2016. No presidential mura, can-do or take-charge flamboyance we see here.

Transmogrifying into​ a federal republic may make us another Venezuela and Somalia, both basket cases, into which we should not be led by the well-meaning (assuming the present Congress is studded with Berting Concepcions, Celing Muñoz-Palmas, Ambo Padillas, Nap Ramas, Ahmad Alontos, Pepe Calderons, Yusuf Abubakar, Adolf Azcunas, Teodoro Bacanis, Pepe Bengzons, Ponciano Bennagens, Joaquin Bernases, Flor Braids, Crispino de Castros, Joe Colaycos, Jun Davides, Vic Fozs, Ed Garcias, Chito Gascons, Serafin Guingonas, Bert Jamirs, Eulogio Lerums, Pepito Laurels, Regalado Maambongs, Chris Monsods, Teddy Natividads, Teresa Nievas, Pepe Nolledos, Blas Oples, Minda Luz Quesadas, Flor Regalados, Rustico de los Reyeses, Cirilo Rigoses, Dick Romulos, Soc Rodrigos, Cosoy Rosaleses, Senseng Suarezes, Enchong Sumulongs, Jimmy Tadeos, Christine Tans, Greg Tingsons, Efrain Treñases, Lugum Ukases, Wilfrido Villacortas, Bernie Villegases and MABINI stalwarts Fely Aquino-Arroyos and Rene Sarmientos; those named framed our present Charter were not our only 1986 patriots. Dilawan? Guess what color dominated the Quiapo traslación last Tuesday).

The billions to be spent/wasted in Con-Ass to remedy an admittedly less than perfect Charter ​should go to improving working conditions—not only for armed soldiers and cops, but also for unarmed teachers such as what we had in the past. When I was a law stude and a very young lawyer, we were behind only Japan economically. Four pesos a day sufficed for ordinary folk. There was adequate pay for teachers, ​justices, judges and court personnel, et al., ​punctuated by professionalism, urbanidad, delicadeza and palabra de honor. Marcos wrecked this admirable culture and we have yet to recover. Now, for a return, encore or reprise?

A “cure” worse than the disease we should avoid.​

We forget the past, we are doomed to repeat it, Jorge Santayana warned. A criminal genius Marcos was, and his wide vocabulary did not include cussing (he could be courtly and elegant or even just a plain charming bullshitter), unlike in the case of our present Fentanyl Kill-Pa-More Prez who delights in naming, shaming and harassing foes who dare criticize his failed bloody and messy war against the poor linked to drugs (any drug lord among the thousands EJK’d who might have known too much?).

Balkanizing PH

To board the federalism ship, I need to see a constitutionally tenable, intellectually respectable and psychologically satisfying rationale or ticket. Let us see what the House and Senate will do, if Con-Ass is it.

Whatever Lolo D wants, Lolo D gets. Including a deepened balkanization of our already tribalized nation. I was a PDP-Laban orig (I now see it as Partido Hunyango of political chameleons or opportunists).

Digong’s success is yours and mine. Hence, we all root for him to triumph. Highly favorable poll survey results after 18 months?

Macoy had a tremendous year or two after September 23 (not 21), 1972, when he inflicted martial law, with sugar and copra prices soaring. A nation under collective duress cowered. And business only cared for the bottom line.
Until Ninoy Aquino was salvaged; no one was safe po pala.

We Dilawans, as cowardly slaves, are not useless. Alipins may be needed to remind Digong “you are mortal”; Marcos, unlike Marcus Aurelius, apparently had no servant tailing him and saying “memento mori.”

Not true of course that the Nazarene tells some of those who make halik His feet, including those in yellow, “kung di lang ako nakapako dito, sinipa na kita.” Jake Macasaet is not my source for this bit of apocrypha.


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