Seares: Did those great Cebuanos pass on or pass away? Assaulting lawyer with screwdriver. Nina Mabatid, Atty. Oaminal as whistleblowers.

Pachico A. Seares
·3 min read

‘Bayrans’ or variants

HEALTH Secretary Francisco III said last Friday, March 5 that 52 more South African and 31 United Kingdom variant cases and 42 other mutations of coronavirus have been detected among Covid-19 patients in the country.

What does it mean to the populace? The official figures by themselves don’t mean substantially to most of us, except probably to scare or cheer. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia calls it obsession with numbers. What the numbers lack is apparently their interpretation, preferably based on science and new findings about the virus, to inform policy and guide citizens.

The absence of meaning leads to jokes about government guidelines, such as “variants” being pronounced “bayrans” or the mask being the refuge of the plain-looking and ugly.

Pass on or pass away

Two prominent Cebuanos died just weeks apart recently. A news media outlet had two different headlines: One “passed on.” The other “passed away.”

Both phrases mean “died.” But language police say “passing away” is “disappearing from our midst” while “passing on” is “moving to the next stage of existence and leaving us behind.”

Both mean exit or departure from the living. But passing on conveys the sense of “changing existence, not really ending it.” “Passing on” suggests another life, an after-life. “Passing away” does not.

It occurs to me that the non-believer of a next phase of life, a kind of atheism, is the writer of the headline. The headline does not tell what the deceased believed in.

That is, if the headline writer bothered to distinguish one phrase from the other and, unlike most of us, didn’t use it interchangeably.

Assaulting lawyer with screwdriver

The latest violent physical attack on a lawyer in Iloilo City was done, not with a gun or knife, but with a screwdriver.

That indicated a sudden decision to harm the lawyer, not a planned conspiracy to kill. The lawyer was hospitalized for injuries.

Had they intended to kill the lawyer, the assailants would’ve used a more lethal weapon. As it turned out, to people who expected another killing of a lawyer, the crime was, er, a screw-up.

Still, the national IBP is demanding the elusive “justice.”

In Cebu, a group of candidates, including Atty. Vincent Isles – who lost despite their banner propaganda of “Protecting the Lawyers” in the February 27 election of Integrated Bar chapter elections – seems to say, We told you so.

Anal swab test

American diplomats and personnel in Beijing were allegedly forced to submit to anal swab test for Covid-19. The Chinese reportedly believe it is more reliable than the other tests for the infection. Whatever the merit of the method, it is the alleged compulsion that the Americans found repulsive.

No surprise that the late-night-show hosts chorused for the Biden administration to get to the bottom of it.

Whistleblowers or not

A whistleblower, standard dictionaries tell us, is one who passes on information concerning wrongdoing. He or she comes forward and shares knowledge on any wrongdoing that is happening in the whole organization or in a specific department.

Cebu City Councilor Nina Mabatid publicly condemned the presence of an “ungo” or witch at City Hall who decides on purchases and hiring and firing of employees, among others. She implied irregularities in city government transactions.

Former Dangerous Drugs Board undersecretary Clarence Paul Oaminal has kept denouncing a “Cebu City Kurakot Gang” in his Facebook posts. The book author and newspaper columnist said he had disclosed to the mayor one name, presumably that of the “gang” leader.

Do they qualify as whistleblowers? Mabatid is a member of the City Councilor and the ruling party that runs City Hall. Oaminal is an advocate against crime and corruption, for which he got the mayor’s special award in the 2015 City Charter Day.

They have prestige and credibility. What they still have to do as whistleblowers is to present the “evidence of fraud or misconduct.” Either they have it but won’t present it or they don’t have it and can’t present any.