Interesting times

These are interesting times indeed. Those who enjoy reading history may have come across the phrase “interesting times” which is loaded with meaning. It implies unusual changes, drastic ones perhaps, that could bring about disorderly behavior and chaotic situations with unpredictable consequences. “Interesting times” may result in the total destruction of the existing order, or the creation of opportunities conducive to more favorable changes. That phrase was often used to describe China prior to its revolution. According to this book of quotations on my desk, it is Chinese in origin and the complete phrase is “May you live in interesting times!”

In my opinion, we are living “interesting times” because Philippine institutions, weak to begin with, are intermittently threatened by earthquakes of the political kind. To illustrate, there are interest groups that want to impeach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the list of reasons is getting longer. However, the elephant in the room is the age of CJ Ma. Lourdes Sereno. She is 52 years old, which means that if her life takes its normal course, she will be sitting in office for 18 years, until she reaches the retirement age of 70. The appointment of someone so young has definitely upset the line of succession at the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice. Anyone in her position inevitably becomes the hated obstacle to many promotions and career projections.

Fortunately or unfortunately, neither youth nor old age is a crime, so I believe that if CJ Sereno were in her late 60s, no one would bother to impeach her. Since youth is not a cause for impeachment, there must be another valid reason. So into her SALN files they dig; even her color preference, number of first-class trips she has taken on official time are questioned. If she were older, we would not even hear about her allegedly peculiar working style or personal quirks because those altercations would have been sorted out and solved amicably during a few team-building sessions. CJ Sereno would not be declared mentally sick, only eccentric.

If CJ Sereno were much older, no one would have spent sleepless nights hatching schemes to impeach her. I am glad that she will not resign, but, on the other hand, if she survives this threatened impeachment, CJ Sereno should be humble enough to forgive her tormentors and turn the other cheek.

The majority was shocked when the cases against Peter Lim, Erwin Espinosa, and other alleged drug lords were dismissed for lack of evidence. We are holding Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and the prosecutors of the Department of Justice responsible for that shocking decision that upholds this culture of impunity. Surprisingly, even Philippine National Police chief Director  General Bato de la Rosa, is blaming them for not informing the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detention Group that evidence presented was weak and insufficient.

If the above mentioned “drug lords” are not guilty, what about Sen. Leila de Lima whom they had purposefully and unjustly implicated? She should not even be in prison!

May we continue living in “interesting times!” Better “interesting” than “turbulent times.” Historians and academics use the latter phrase to describe conditions that are more extreme than just “interesting.” The phrase “turbulent times” conjures conditions of utter disorder, confusion, and chaos, similar to the civil wars, invasions, transgressions of boundaries taking place in the Middle East and some countries in Africa where drastic situations demand extreme solutions.

At this writing, we do not know what is going to happen a 100 days from now, let alone a century hence. Plans to change the presidential system to a federal one may result in the disintegration of this tenuous political unit called Philippines. The Bangsamoro Law could fragment national unity precisely when we need it to face foreign threats. Let us hope that our“interesting times” don’t usher us to more “turbulent times.”