[My apologies to the Comment Thread for being largely absent these days. It's my week for conferences, first IBlog2 and Southeast Asia Journalists rest of the week...]
Big event in the local blogosphere today was IBLOG2, the Conference, held at the University of the Philippines Law School. (Coincidentally, it was also the 231st anniversary of the Ride of Paul Revere, MP3 on April 18, 1775.)
Rebecca MacKinnon, a Research Fellow at the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, was one of the keynote speakers. Formerly a broadcast journalist with CNN, she spent nine years in China, and is a prime mover at Global Voices Online. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese (and possibly other languages), she has observed the fragmented nature of the Asian blogosphere, which is clearly due to the language barriers, even within individual countries. But I believe there is a powerful meme that will unite and energize the Asian lingospheres despite these barriers: Democracy. This is the word that increasing will be heard from Asia, with China looming large, an ancient realm, ringed by the world's newest democracies, who are motivated, empowered by the Anglosphere and its powerful language and culture already embodied and vibrant in the World Wide Web.
Manuel L. Quezon III gave an oh-so-true survey of the blogosphere's "blogger types" and ran the political panel session.
I ran into Dean Raul Pangalangan, former Dean of UP Law, and a weekly essayist at the Philippine Daily Inquirer. His recent piece, Orwell's Double Think in Manila 2006 is destined to be classic.
At the conference, it was also a very great pleasure to meet in person, Dominique of Village Idiot Savant, Marv of La Vida Lawyer, and Punzi at the Corner Blog. We were discussing the recent speech of Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, which I notice is now available at the Supreme Court's spanking new website (in ßeta Test but sleek!). Here is "Liberty and Prosperity" (full text) and a video (WMV) so you can hear and see the Chief Justice describe his novel (and scary) ideas about the Judiciary. Here are extended portions that I want to dissect later.
These twin visions of a reformed judiciary and a revitalized legal profession are directed towards two loftier goals of safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people, while upholding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary...A never-ending saga of trials and triumphs for the judiciary and for our people is the battle for civil liberties, especially the inviolability of our persons and our homes from arbitrary searches and seizures, those guaranteeing our freedoms of abode and travel, and the so-called Miranda rights of persons accused of crimes... As I said earlier, the judiciary’s duty to protect liberty is quite well-known and well-established. What distinguishes our Supreme Court is its willingness and courage to lead other judiciaries of the world in recognizing and protecting new freedoms prompted by new technologies and sciences. I do not have the time to present here a comparative discussion of the attitude of other countries towards the right to conduct and to publish public opinion polling, but those interested in the details can refer to my book Leveling the Playing Field. To repeat, the safeguarding of liberty is a given for the judiciary, but the nurturing of prosperity is new -- something even seasoned jurists and lawyers may not all readily understand as a judicial imperative.After you read the entire speech, so full of ironic and paradoxical sayings, so full of innovative ideas, you may feel giddy and understand why I've found an event that occurred eleven score and eleven years ago today, extremely and urgently relevant.
Recent events, however, impel me to advocate a necessary – nay, indispensable -- nexus between political liberty and economic prosperity. Ladies and gentlemen, how we cope with the stark realities of poverty -- the antithesis of prosperity -- has become the litmus test for the mandate of the courts to weigh the scales of justice in favor of the downtrodden and the neglected. Amid the paradigm shift in the role of the courts in economic development are welcome moves to redefine poverty as a “deprivation of essential assets and opportunities to which every human is entitled.” Under this new definition, the right to prosperity is elevated to the level of a universal human right.