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Caviar, champagne, and other caveats


 José Abeto  Zaide

José Abeto Zaide

By José Abeto Zaide


To mark International Women’s Day last Sunday, May 13, our son Jamil chose the. restaurant at Westgate Alabang with the high falutin’ name, “Caviar Restaurant and Champagne Bar.”  It was a treat for three women to be honored – his mother Victoria, his wife Wendy, and his sister and our first-born Luisa Knöchel.

Jamil had the foresight to reserve a table for seven (including him, me, and his two roughabouts Emilio, 9, and Danilo, 7,) for our Sunday lunch.

The good news was that there were enough tables available and we had the choice from the well -ppointed settings behind the wall-to-ceiling divider of glass which encased vintage bottles arrayed horizontally . Only a half dozen tables were booked that Sunday. We would discover why.

The bad news was that because the following Monday was the Barangay election day, the 48-hour ban on agua de pataranta began that Sunday morning. The resto had a scrumptious menu and a book-bound volume of what is possibly one of the largest wine lists in Metro Manila.  My wife suggested to the maitre to temporarily rename the resto “Caviar, Champagne Barred This Dry Day.”  We may have to return another time to test the victuals. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, in vino est veritas (truth is in the wine), as Horace used to say.

* * *

Depending on which side you are on, you can cheer with the red shirts or boo with the white shirts the Supreme Court’s decision, 8-6, declaring Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serene unsuitable to assume as chief justice and declaring the position vacant.

But this lady is not for turning. Ex Chief Justice Sereno will have the right to appeal the decision. And who knows after that…?

Media has kilometric mileage in the major dailies (and more colorful interpretations in tabloids).  There are conflicting versions between pro or anti columnists, which is what we can expect of the wide divide on the issue.

Manila Bulletin editorial said that now that a decision has been made, we should move on.

Adding to the storm, someone pointed the difference between our 1943 and 1989 Constitutions, vide:

The 1943 Constitution of the Philippines, Article 5, Section 1, reads: “The President and the Justices of the Supreme Court shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, or other high crimes.”

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, Article XI, Section 2, reads: “The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment.”

The difference between “shall” and “may” gives wide discretionary power to the authority to interpretation.  Is “may” a polite form of “shall”, or was it deliberately intended to obfuscate between “yes” or “no”…or to a possible add on?

* * *

From the sublime to the ridiculous: I remember in grade school, if we asked, “Can I go out?”, the curt answer of our grade school teacher was a curt, “No.”  But if we asked politely, “May I go out?,” We were granted permission to answer to the call of nature.

But, I am afraid, in the case of verbiage at issue, it is more than syntax but meaning as conveniently intended by the framers of our 1987 Constitution. Such is the force of words and the facility of lawyers to ride on them.

* * *

TALE OF TWO CITIES?  “Duterte vows to return Boracay to natives.”  Manila Bulletin news item  PDu30 said: “You know, ang aking thinking ngayon, I will declare Boracay as a land reform area. Ibigay ko, ibalik ‘yan sa mga tatibo, Mangyans.

COMMENT.  If PDu30 makes good on this, he would top the Americans, who still have not returned the USA to the original American Redskins.

Another version:  “Duterte vows to give Marawi back to its native people” Philippine Inquirer news item.  It’s probably the same story reported in the same venue, but with a different focus.  In this version, PDu30 asked the Maranaos to be patient because the governments is determined to rebuild the city and give it back to them.

He assured the Maranaos that the city would not go to other people who are not natives here, dispelling the perception that the delay of the return of residents  was for corporations to take over the city. “I will also declare land reform and government lands will be distributed to the poor,” PDu30 added, “The targets are the poor Maranao. They will become the priority.”



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