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As I See It

Leila de Lima is only using her common sense

/ 09:14 PM November 15, 2011

JUAN MANUEL Marquez was robbed! He should have been declared the winner in his fight against Manny Pacquiao. The crowd at the MGM Grand had every right to boo the decision for Pacquiao. Manny himself thought he had lost and was surprised by the decision. Even Filipinos, including rabid Pacquiao fans, believe Marquez won the bout. Some even joked that maybe the judges placed bets on Pacquiao, who was an overwhelming favorite in the pre-fight betting. Even so, Pacquiao won by only one point.

Marquez landed more power punches, and Pacquiao obviously didn’t know how to pierce Marquez’s defense. Either Pacquiao did not have an effective battle plan or he was out of condition.

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“Manny has become soft,” said one of his fans, shaking his head. That comment has basis. As boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz told Pacquiao during an interview, “Marquez is a full-time boxer. You are a part-time boxer, part-time congressman, part-time entertainer, part-time television host, part-time basketball player” and part-time other things including part-time gambler, being a frequent bettor in cockpits. You can’t be good in everything. You have to concentrate on one thing. You are good in boxing, so concentrate on it or else you will lose it.

In a sense, it is also the fault of media. Members of media, especially sportswriters, have made Pacquiao into a sort of god who can do no wrong. Thinking that readers, radio listeners, and TV watchers want to hear news about their idol, media chronicled even the littlest things that he and his family did. And Pacquiao believed every praise said about him such that he has become swellheaded. Now he even wants to run for president of the Philippines!

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And it is not only Manny. His whole family has changed its lifestyle. But that’s what sudden wealth does to people. Filipinos have a term for it: “Biglang yaman.”

Well, the near-loss may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the whole family. Maybe now its members will have their feet back firmly on the ground, no longer floating in the air.

The best boxing champion the Philippines ever had was Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. He did not win as much money as Pacquiao did, but he did not become swellheaded. He did not leave boxing, which put him where he was, he put up a boxing gym to help other boxers, he never forgot where he came from, and he remained as humble as when he was just starting.

Manny Pacquiao would become a better champion if he would be loyal to boxing as The Flash was.

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Aside from the shameful decision in the Pacquiao-Marquez bout, what is being debated in the Philippines now is the ban on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to leave the country. Some lawyers say it is a violation of the individual’s right to travel as guaranteed by the Constitution. Some even urged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who imposed the ban, to resign. Others say she is allowed to do that by an order issued by then President GMA herself. Now that the order is being made to apply to her, she has run to the Supreme Court (most of whose justices were appointed by her) to nullify the order.

As I see it, Secretary De Lima is only using her common sense. Already, the justice secretary suspects that GMA may seek political asylum in some other country and not come back to face the very serious charges against her, why should she be allowed to leave the Philippines? Who would be blamed if De Lima allowed the former president to leave and GMA leaves for good? Coming in the wake of the escape of Ramona Bautista, a suspect in the murder of her own brother, letting GMA leave now would be the height of stupidity. As De Lima said in her decision, “we would be the laughingstock of the world.”

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But lawyers will always be lawyers and will try to make black look white, and white look black by invoking legal technicalities. Put two lawyers together and they would never be able to agree on any issue. Sure the Constitution guarantees a person’s right to travel, but all rights have their limits, as when they collide with the rights of others. Freedom of the press is limited by the law on libel, freedom of speech is limited by the law on slander, the freedom of workers to strike is limited by other labor laws, the freedom to gather and seek redress for grievances is limited by many other laws.

Likewise, the freedom to travel is not absolute. It is limited by the right of the government and the people to seek justice. Of all the rights, I think the right to justice is the most important. Why should a person’s right to travel be more important than a whole nation’s right to justice? Travel is supposed to be taken at one’s leisure. Are a person’s leisure and pleasure more important than justice?

Once the cases against GMA are finished and she is acquitted, she can travel all over the whole world for all she wants and nobody will stop her.

Aside from the constitutional guarantee to travel, GMA supporters say she should be allowed to seek medical treatment abroad as a humanitarian gesture. But President Aquino already said that instead of GMA going abroad to be treated by foreign doctors, these foreign specialists will be brought here, at government expense, to treat her. How more humanitarian can you get?

Besides, as Monday’s Inquirer editorial said, GMA has given different versions of her condition. And for someone who is supposed to be sick, she “has presented an itinerary abroad that would daunt even Superman… How can someone so sick have the energy to attend those meetings?”

GMA “has the right to seek medical treatment anywhere, but this should be balanced by the state’s right and duty to ensure that the justice system works credibly and effectively.”

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TAGS: featured columns, Gloria Arroyo, Juan Manuel Marquez, justice, Leila de Lima, many pacquiao, opinion, right to travel
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