In and out of context with Malacañang reporters

In and out of context with Malacañang reporters

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@Jon Joaquin

Exegesis is defined as “critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.” Its etymology is Greek: “ex” means “out of” while “hegeisthai” means “to lead, guide.” In the broader sense, it means to draw out, in this case from what has been said or written. This often means taking words, sentences, and paragraphs in the context of what is said before and after them.

It’s better understood when we look at its antonym: eisegesis, which means to draw in (“eis” is Greek for “into”). It is “the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one’s own presuppositions, agendas, or biases into and onto the text.” This is usually practiced by taking statements out of their proper context and coloring them with one’s own prejudices.

I think the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) needs a little lesson in exegesis. Today it released a statement taking exception to the statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar “accusing media of ‘misreporting’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about martial law.”

Here, read the statement in full:

Yes it’s true that Duterte made those statements before the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Inc. (DCCCII) last January 14. But as I wrote in an earlier article, there was a context for them. I think anyone who watches the video or reads the transcript can discern that Duterte was not threatening to declare martial law outright but was saying he would do it IF the drug problem becomes “virulent.” In fact one of the lines the MPC chose to quote contained that all-important two-letter word: “And I’d tell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it.”

Now regarding the Supreme Court and Congress, this is where context is key. Duterte was not saying he would disregard the two other branches of government; he was talking about the dilemma a President faces in declaring martial law and the crisis that can result from it. This can be seen in the statements before he made lines the MPC quoted (You can read the entire speech here, jumping to the 12th paragraph onward for the pertinent portion. Go ahead, read it first, then come back here.) But let me paraphrase the President:

Imagine the situation, he was saying. Let’s say I find the need to declare martial law. If I don’t finish the task within 60 days I can go to Congress to get an extension. Let’s say Congress agrees, but the 1986 Constitution allows a private citizen to go to the Supreme Court to challenge it. What if someone does that, and the SC decides there is no basis for an extension? Then we’ll have the two branches of government in conflict with each other and drawn into a stalemate. In such a case I would have to step in and make a decision on my own.

THAT was the context of the quotes the MPC used in its statement. (Again you can read the entire transcript here.)

Again, Duterte wasn’t threatening to declare martial law, and he wasn’t saying he would do it with total disregard for the Supreme Court and Congress. Don’t keep taking his statements out of context. One doesn’t need to know what “exegesis” means to do this. It’s just common sense.


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