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Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines
April 20, 2014 issue
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We have been raised in a conservative way of observing the Holy Week. Our ascendants told us to stop working even on minor things starting on Holy Wednesday and go on fasting, except for children, on Maundy Thursdays and on Good Fridays, never take a bath. Otherwise, we will be cursed, “gabaan”. On Black Saturdays, still no work, continue the fasting and we should read the Bible and meditate. Life only comes back on Easter Sunday, when Christ is resurrected. But living in the city for quite a time now has changed our life style. We observed our friends going in an out of town adventure last Maundy Thursday and Good Friday while others spent theirs in beaches and resorts. We saw children playing in our neighborhood last Friday afternoon after we heard “siete palabras”, the last seven words of Christ. Practically, the advent of the Internet has also changed this conservativeness too. In the church last Friday afternoon, we noticed church goers on the way to kiss the crucified Christ still texting in their cell phones. We also observed pilgrims still taking a “selfie” in their “visita iglesia” last Friday. Radio and television stations went off the air at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Good Friday but yet, we still heard some households with cable connections still had their TV sets on last Friday evening until yesterday. Our ascendants would describe all these acts as that of an “irihis”, atheist.

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In our childhood, we observed that vehicles and motorcycles or even bicycles stop running on Good Fridays and Black Saturdays. Today, only Pacquiao's fight can stop vehicles, buses, tricycles and motorcycles from traversing the road. After the death of Christ on Friday afternoon, you cannot hear any sound as our Christian life is in a state of mourning. However, children were allowed to use bamboo tubes as a “pagupak” during the procession to inform the people that the “santo entiero” is coming. Now, music may not be heard but the children and the youngsters simply used their headphones to keep listening to music in their cell phones. Trips are suspended on Good Fridays and Black Saturdays. Now, passengers can take normal schedule of trips even on a Black Saturday. Sea trips to and from Cebu, planes to and from Manila as well as the local buses continue their operations starting yesterday. Well, this is Lenten life in the city.

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Exactly eight years ago today, the Supreme Court upheld the right of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials in inquiries in aid of legislation by partially voiding Executive Order 464 which was issued by then Pres. Arroyo as two officers from the military appeared during the hearings of the Senate Committee on National Defense on the so-called “Hello Garci” scandal questioning her election in Maguindanao province. To justify the constitutionality of EO 464, Arroyo invoked the constitutional guarantees of the separation of powers on the three branches of the government and cited Article VI, Section 22 of the Philippine Constitution which permits department heads, cabinet members and other officials under the executive branch to appear at congressional hearings with the consent of the President during the so-called Question Hour. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines , Bayan Muna , the late Solicitor General Frank Chavez, Alternative Law Groups Inc., 17 senators and the defunct PDP Laban petitioned before the High Tribunal to scrap the executive order.

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In the 26-page petition of the IBP lawyers, they categorized EO 464 as a "derogation of the legislative power to investigate." Furthermore, they said that the non-appearance of executive officials during congressional hearings by invoking EO 464 hampered Congress investigation in aid of legislation, thus petitioners' right to be informed of matters of public interest has been denied. On April 20, 2006, the Supreme Court nullified two sections of the EO 464 namely Sections 2(B) and 3. These sections prohibit officials under the executive branch from appearing on hearings of Congress without the consent of the President. However, the High Court ruled that Sections 1 and 2 are valid. In other words, it declared to be “valid on its face” the requirement for executive officials to secure the President's consent before appearing during the question hour.

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By the way, the NBA playoff also begins today, Easter Sunday and our Lenten reflections focused on the Eastern Conference so far. The 8-team field for the playoff shows the no. 1 seed Indiana Pacers facing the no. 8 Atlanta Haws in the first round. Then apparently, the Pacers will face the Chicago Bulls in the second round and of course, the Heat for the Eastern conference finals. This is the destination being chosen by the Pacers. Unlike the defending champions Miami Heat which took the first place earlier and then slid off to the second spot later in premeditated way to the finals. Thus, the Heat picks on the Charlotte Bobcats (no. 7) in the East standing. This is the best way for the big three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to begin their bid for a fourth straight trip to the NBA finals. The Bobcats looks to be heavily overmatched and whom the Heat swept during the regular season being highlighted by James top scoring all other NBA players this regular season with 61 points during their game last March 3. Without batting an eyelash, we predict a Heat win in five games for the first round.

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POSTSCRIPT: When we saw Juvy D. Dumayaca's picture in the photo collection of her daughter, Jojee, yesterday, apparently Juvy has not aged at all. But frankly, she is older than me by half a year. Hehehe. She will throw her birthday bash today, Easter Sunday, at Hotel La Roca along Graham Avenue this city. Happy birthday, Yob and belated also to your hubby, Epilmopo who marked his birthday during the Lenten break…There's more when we come back.

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