Though it is a matter still pending, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta on Friday, November 8, already handed down his verdict: the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers will win on Sunday, for the UAAP Men's Basketball semifinals.
"Wala namang laban yung UP, eh (UP doesn't stand a chance)," Peralta, an alumnus of the UST Faculty of Law, said in response to the final question of a rare hour-long press conference with the chief magistrate.
"This is the most dangerous question I will be asking today," teased Philippine News Agency's Benjamin Pulta, also a Thomasian. "Do you have a message for the UST Growling Tigers?"
The room erupted in cheers as Peralta gamely answered, ribbing UST's opponent on Sunday, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons. UST is playing UP for the semifinals, albeit a twice-to-beat handicap. The winner plays the undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles in the finals.
"Dalawang beses na natalo. Kaya lang baka may tsamba sila. 'Yun ang delikado. May tsamba eh," Peralta said.
(They lost twice. But maybe they'll get lucky, that's the risky part, if they get lucky.)
What followed were boos from justice reporters who are UP alumni. They called for backup, with someone saying, "Justice Leonen! Justice Jardeleza!"
And backup came. On Twitter.
The social-media savvy Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, a full-fledged UP alumnus and former dean of the UP College of Law, reacted to the Peralta tweet of CNN Philippines justice reporter Anjo Alimario, also from UP.
"I am confident that the true facts of this controversy will be proven without a shadow of the doubt within the next few days," said Leonen, rousing the energetic UP Twitter crowd.
But inside the Supreme Court's Centennial Building on Friday, the UP fans were outnumbered. It didn't help that Peralta was flanked by Court Administrator Midas Marquez to his left and Chief Public Information Officer Brian Keith Hosaka to his right – both Ateneans.
"I think the Ateneans are praying that the Tigers will lose. Kasi mga Ateneo takot sila sa Tigers. Sinabi ni Coach Baldwin during the first game sinabi niya ang UST dark horse ito. Tigre nga eh. Paano ang UP maroons, sa kulay lang naman yan," Peralta said.
(I think the Ateneans are praying that the Tigers will lose. Because Ateneo is scared of the Tigers. Coach Baldwin said during the first game that UST is a dark horse. Tigers, right? While the UP maroons, they're just a color.)
"Grabe, grabe!" Alimario reacted. But the Chief Justice quickly showed the CNN reporter a peace gesture.
Hosaka, the Atenean, then declared: "That concludes our program. The Chief Justice expects a UST-Ateneo finals." (READ: Mutual respect grows for Baldwin, Ayo after Ateneo-UST thriller)
"Sa championship, maglalaban ang Ateneo at UST. Sabi ko lalampasuhin ang Ateneo. Ngayon kung maglaban ang UST-UP, baka first half lang alam mo na talo ang UP eh," said Peralta.
(Ateneo and UP will play each other in the championship, and UST will floor Ateneo. But between UST and UP, you know UP will lose as early as the first half.)
The author is a Thomasian. – Rappler.com