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The Certain Loser of the Corona Impeachment Trial

I do not have a clue why the ongoing impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona is being conducted in English. Alright; so admittedly, the Queen’s language is purportedly among the country’s ‘official’ languages. But, as the Senator Judges, members of the prosecution and members of the defence all like to periodically cite, the proceedings are being held for the bayan to understand what is going on in government.

Am I missing something here? One media reporter, in a lame attempt at an explanation, told an interviewee, “Eh pa’no naman ang hindî Tagalog?” There is a point to this, fair enough; but what advantage, pray tell, will using English have over not Tagalog but Filipino? Unless what is being implicitly stated is that the teaching of the Filipino in schools both public and private is an abject failure; and, in that case, why don’t we do away with it altogether?

However, on the contrary, travel around the country and you will find that non-Tagalogs are quite comfortable with carrying on a conversation in Filipino. In fact, when my father visited his birthplace of Tigbauan just outside of Iloilo City after having been away for about five decades, he could not but notice the irony that the younger generations were sometimes even more inclined to talk to him in Filipino than his native Karay-á!

This is not to say that non-Tagalogs are incapable of learning English. The educated will be comfortable in either language, whatever his or her ethnicity. However, the less educated will probably tend to understand less of the proceedings because English is not really a language that they are frequently obligated to use on the streets. Filipino – or, Tagalog – is. So, as long as the impeachment trial is conducted in English, there is only limited validity to the claim that it is being held partly to educate the bayan.

To those who do not care, of course, it does not matter either way. But there are those who do care, even among those who might not have had the privilege of education. In another news clip showing a reporter asking a line of tricycle drivers if they were watching the trial on television, not just a few stated that they would like to follow the it. However, they could not understand most of what was being said because the trial is being held in English.

Of course, there is every possibility that some of the Senator Judges may actually prefer English for the simple reason that they are not Tagalogs and actually struggle with formal Filipino. Then again, things are also simplified for court recorders because Filipino – with its repetitive syllables – is so much more difficult to type.

Personally, my main issue with the use of English really revolves around the dictions of the trial lawyers. I have no issues with the senators; most who stand up to be recognized and speak publicly can talk in decent English. It is not for me a case of expecting fellow Filipinos to talk like Americans or Englishmen. It is a case of respecting a language enough to speak it passably and recognizably.

Those who are following the trial will know what I mean; and that is why I would rather hear their arguments in Filipino rather than having to cock my ear towards the TV speakers just to make sure I am able to understand what is being said.

Consider these:

da income op da chip justice… (the income of the chief justice)

…Corona payld income tax returns… (Corona filed income tax returns)

…a rigistered taxpayer… (a registered taxpayer)

…local employee or ingidged in business… (local employee or engaged in business)

da only ting dat will prebent da witness prom identipaying…(the only thing that will prevent the witness from identifying)

…let me be iben more specipik iben wid respek… (let me be even more specific with respect)

…it is our humble submission and manipistation… (it is our humble submission and manifestation)

…wer da seller is his wipe… (where the seller is his wife)

…we bilib your honour it is admisibol… (we believe your honour it is admissible)

kintopol ep das 9… (quintuple F-9)

I wonder if there is an Englishman in this world who can listen in to what is being said everyday and understand a word. Shakespeare must be spinning in his grave!

This early, there is already one loser to this much-publicized impeachment trial: the English language. It is being mahrdered!

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