Thursday, October 18, 2018
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With Due Respect

Manny, Andy, Bing and Bert

I am not a diehard boxing fan. I think boxing is a brutal combat reminiscent of the gladiators who dueled to their death for the ghoulish entertainment of the Romans. With due respect to Manny Pacquiao’s grandiose claims that he boxes for the Filipino, the grim reality in any professional boxing bout is “money,” as Floyd Mayweather Jr. unabashedly proclaims.

Full disclosure. Nonetheless, I expected that at the very least, the promoters and combatants would be fair to the diehard fans who paid handsomely to watch it at ringside or at pay-per-view stations, and more so, to the many who bet hard-earned dollars and pesos.

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Complete disclosure should be the unbroken rule. Manny and his handlers were unfair for not revealing his injured shoulder on time. No wonder he faces sanctions from the Nevada government and suits from irate fans and bettors.

Fortunately for him, a suit in the Philippines may not prosper because gambling is banned here, except for those specifically allowed by law, like horse racing on specific days in specific race tracks, or for “gaming” at Pagcor outlets (including Solaire and City of Dreams), or for sweepstakes lotteries.

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That he did not disclose this vital information prior to the bout is not disputed. In fact, it can even be said that he hid it because he answered “No” to the box in the official questionnaire asking if he had “any injury to [his] shoulders, elbows or hands…”

Why he concealed such vital information is the subject of much speculation, the unkindest of which is that a disclosure may have resulted in a postponement or cancellation of the bout, which may mean no (or reduced) money for Manny and the promoters.

I believe he should have accepted his defeat graciously. That would have been most honorable. True, Mayweather just danced his way to victory. But that strategy, disgusting as it may be, is allowed by the Nevada rules. Manny accepted the rules, along with the grand rewards Nevada secures for boxing, gambling, howling and hype.

It is said that no Filipino loses an election. Either he wins or is cheated. Must it be the same in boxing? Banter aside, fairness, honor and transparency should define every public endeavor, including boxing.

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Comelec appointees. Kudos to Dean Andres D. Bautista, new chair of the Commission on Elections. Only 51, Andy brings freshness, vigor, probity and integrity to the poll body at a crucial time, with just a year to the May 2016 presidential election.

Widely respected in the academe, he has pedigreed credentials worthy even of a seat in the Supreme Court: class valedictorian of Ateneo Law School, bar topnotcher, masters in law from Harvard, law dean of Far Eastern University, professor of law in several schools, lecturer at the Philippine Judicial Academy, and chair of the Philippine Association of Law Schools. He is among the 10 original holders of the “Chief Justice Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity.”

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He practiced law here and abroad and, while still a law student, clerked for then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan. Though his expertise is constitutional and commercial law, he also studied the specialized field of election law as a trustee of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

Moreover, his vast managerial experience in the private sector as a former chief executive of several large firms, and in the public sector as chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, will help him steer the giant Comelec bureaucracy. Indeed, the President could not have chosen a better Comelec chief.

Congratulations also to new Comelec Commissioner Rowena V. Guanzon. Strong-willed and fiercely independent, Bing (yes, that’s her nickname) has a formidable background: litigation lawyer with a string of landmark victories, book writer, law professor, dean’s lister at the UP College of Law, masters in public administration from Harvard, and well-regarded in the legal community, including the Supreme Court (at least when I was there), for her advocacy in gender equality.

Armed with practical experience in rough-and-tumble politics as a former mayor of Cadiz City, she mirrors the feistiness, bravado and wit of former Comelec commissioner Heidi Yorac. I expect her to team up well with Chairman Andy (and the other commissioners) to assure our people of free, honest and credible elections in 2016.

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Customs boss. I also welcome the appointment of Customs Commissioner Alberto D. Lina. I have known Bert for over 40 years since he was a lowly clerk at the auditing firm of L.C. Diaz and Associates. I tracked his rise as an innovative, driven and self-made entrepreneur. I have no doubt that his acceptance of this critical job was motivated solely by his desire to serve our country.

I do not believe media reports, many of them unverified, that he took the job to promote the financial interest of his multibillion-peso logistics business. If all he wanted were a few more billion pesos, all he needs to do is list his business in the Philippine Stock Exchange, and presto, the market value of his wealth would immediately multiply several times.

That he is willing to divest from his companies that do business with the Bureau of Customs—something I am confident he would sincerely and honestly do—speaks well of his patriotism. Let’s give him a chance to prove his worth and to show how his grit, integrity and skill can transform the most graft-prone office in our government.

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Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

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TAGS: Boxing, Comelec, Customs, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao
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