A Class in Vocabulary. Arroyo's Delicadeza & De Lima's Dilemma

inquirer leila ioMANILA - Sometimes I'm just frank; sometimes I'm just hilarious; sometimes I'm just both - sometimes I'm just accommodating. Just watch!

With her booboo on Mike Arroyo's 31 July 2011 trip to Hong Kong, it's just that Justice Secretary Leila De Lima has exhibited evidence that she is guilty of prejudging the case and, should it go to court, she should be barred from appearing as prosecutor or plaintiff. Justice Denied for Justice Denied.

Mike Arroyo is a high-profile personality, so a low-profile text apology is not enough. I'll be watching - if she resigns, she has delicadeza like Senator Migz Zubiri (see my "His rival demands it; Migz Zubiri resigns. It was not the honorable thing to do; it was." Flipinos, Flips! blogspot.com). That was one male chauvinist proud.

The male of the species has acted honorably. Is it too much to ask for a female of the species, another Government official, to also show delicadeza? (Image from inquirer.net - she should have inquired first, and then inquired some more.)

A legacy from the Spanish conquistadores, "delicadeza," says Leonor Magtolis Briones, has something to do with behavior anchored on generally accepted moral standards" (17 August 2009, abs-cbnnews.com). In the Philippines, she says, delicadeza is "associated with honor." Edgar Millan says delicadeza is "a sense of propriety or how to behave rightly in all circumstances" (06 August 2011, Zambales Forum, angelfire.com). I think both female and male are near but not quite gotten the correct sense of it. In Spanish, delicadeza literally means delicateness, tenderness, subtlety, acuteness of understanding (spanishdict.com). In the world of the Filipino, whose colonial mentality has been brought about by centuries of domination by unholy spirits, what I understand is that delicadeza has something to do with honor but it is not honor itself; it is not about being right or wrong either; rather, it has something to do with how highly acceptably you behave when your or your family's honor is at stake. Go ask resigned Senator Migz Zubiri!

Considering all that, I translate delicadeza as finesse. This is how American Heritage Dictionary defines finesse:

1. refinement and delicacy of performance, execution, or artisanship;
2. skillful, subtle handling of a situation; tactful, diplomatic maneuvering.

Does she have finesse? Now then, let us investigate Justice Secretary Leila De Lima as to her behavior regarding Mike Arroyo's trip to Hong Kong.

According to Nikko Dizon, reporting at 1416 hours Friday, 05 August 2011, De Lima ordered "an investigation into how Mike Arroyo was able to leave the country without any records at the Bureau of Immigration" (inquirer.net). (How? It was easy - he flew.)

According to Sophia M Dedace, reporting at 1725 hours Friday, 05 August 2011, Leila De Lima apologized to Mike Arroyo for "immigration fiasco" (gmanews.tv). (It was not a fiasco - it was a judicial stumble.)

She texted journalists:

Having verified from the BI about an hour ago that indeed, former FG Mike Arroyo went through the Immigration counter, I humbly apologize to him, on behalf of the BI for apparently giving me an erroneous info yesterday and/or for committing certain lapses.

Note the times reported. Now then, it appears that on the same day with a time lag of 2 hours, De Lima ordered the investigation first before verifying the truth or untruth of Mike Arroyo's French leave, his flying to Hong Kong without so much as an "Au revoir." You call that jumping to conclusion. I call it leap of feet.

As far as I can tell, Mike Arroyo did say, "Au revoir" to the BI. Now then, who is without delicadeza: Mike Arroyo or Leila De Lima?

"Earlier in the day," Dedace reported, "De Lima told reporters that Mr Arroyo's departure record could not be found and that the former First Gentleman had someone else facilitate the processing of his Immigration documents." (Mike Arroyo wouldn't have known how to process his own Immigration papers with all the bureaucratic procedures at BI, would he?)

The exact text of De Lima regarding the matter was this (Dizon as cited):

It appears that he did not pass through Immigration. Somebody facilitated the processing of his documents.

Now then, whose behavior is lacking in subtlety: Mike Arroyo or Leila De Lima?

In fact, it was Mike Arroyo's angry lawyer, Inocencio Ferrer Jr, who demanded that De Lima "issue a public apology to Mr Arroyo." Under the law, if there is no demand, there is no delay. Now then, whose behavior is lacking in nicety: Ferrer Jr or De Lima?

Still, De Lima said she wanted to know "the true case for the wrong information" and that "the matter is now under investigation, particularly the Immigration officer who processed FG's documents."

And what is to be done to the government official who previously processed the information without investigating first? But in fact, according to Dizon, "De Lima added she was informed Friday that a 'Juan Miguel Arroyo' appeared on the database but that the last name was spelled with a single 'r.'" Well, perhaps De Lima was behaving with utmost certainty that the BI database doesn't ever entertain any inputs that look like mistakes in spelling? Well then, now I'm sure some people don't know yet that the difference between the Age of the Dinosaurs (I'm referring to those monster typewriters) and the Age of Computers is that now you make mistakes and multiply them faster. De Lima seems motherly proud of the BI database; she should know better. Since the personal computer doesn’t think, the person should.

Here's the fuller statement of De Lima (quoted by Ina Reformina, 04 August 2011, abs-cbnnews.com):

Nakapagtataka, wala s'ya sa BI database. Ang ibig sabihin, hindi dumaan, apparently, sa immigration. Somebody else facilitated the processing of the documents kaya nagkaganoon. (My translation: Strange, he is not in the BI database. That means, he didn't pass, apparently, through Immigration. Somebody else facilitated the processing of (his) documents, that's why.)

Your big mouth can put you in a dilemma.

Well now, De Lima should be able to differentiate delicadeza from dilemma. "Dilemma," says the American Heritage Dictionary, is "a situation that requires a choice between options that are or seem equally unfavorable or mutually exclusive." I take that to mean that it's so much like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea!

So, class, here's a vocabulary lesson for you if you're interested:
Student: "Teacher, please use dilemma in a sentence."
Teacher: "When she said Mike Arroyo left for Hong Kong without passing through Immigration but she didn't double-check her data first, De Lima put De Lima in a dilemma:
Apologize first, which is an admission of indiscretion? 
Investigate after, which is a double admission of indiscretion?"

Elementary, my dear Watson; just because somebody else's name is not in the BI database doesn't mean (a) he did not pass Immigration and/or (b) somebody else facilitated the processing of his papers. Well, I couldn’t really blame De Lima; she was just being critical, logical - except that, of course, male or female, you could be extremely logical and extremely wrong. That's why I'll stick to being creative.

Let's have delicadeza among lawyers who make poor detectives, shall we? If not, I'm inclined to envy the other kind, as there is honor even among thieves.

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