Thursday, November 30, 2006

A New Solution to the Conundrum of Voting Separately or Voting Jointly

Update: ABSCBN ANC reports that former President Fidel V. Ramos has just called upon backers of Charter Change should "MOVE ON" because the elections must now go on as scheduled by law in May, 2007. (Oh to be fly on the wall right now within the bickering Inner Circle!)

The silence of the Constitution is for the Congress to fill.

I'm having a nice lil laugh with myself now that I think I've found a really powerful way to think of the "voting separately" or "voting jointly" conundrum allegedly posed by the ambiguities in Article XVII Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution:
Any amendment to, or revision of this Constitution, may be proposed by (1) the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) a Constitutional Convention.
It's very simple really.

The ambiguity is for the Congress to resolve by adopting its "Implementing Rules and Regulations" for whenever the Congress works on amendments to, or revision of the Constitution. I think it is beyond the ability, the power and the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to decide for the Congress in an "advisory opinion" which rule is "Constitutional" because either rule could be constitutional. It is to the Congress, not the Supreme Court, that the Constitution gives the power to propose changes to the Constitution. "Voting separately" or "voting jointly" are merely two different modes of implementing the required three fourths majority rule.

When the Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly, adopts its Rules for the purpose of creating, deliberating, refining and proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution, both Houses of the Congress must concur in what those Rules are, even if one of those Rules is that they will vote jointly when it comes to debating and approving proposed amendments and revisions. But metaphysically speaking, there is no way, for the Congress to adopt the Rules by which they will operate as a Constituent Assembly other than with the concurrence of both Houses voting separately to adopt such Rules.

Just as any Constitutional Convention would be expected to remedy the obvious and complete silence of the Constitution on its operations by adopting its Rules for the purpose of deliberating and voting upon proposed amendments or revision, so too, the Congress can and should remedy the silence and ambiguity of the Constitution on the matter of voting separately or voting jointly.

The matter of "voting separately" or "voting jointly" does not have to be settled by the Supreme Court. In fact, it should NOT be settled by the Supreme Court, but by the Congress. Since the Constitution indubitably endows the Congress with the power to propose amendments to or revision of the Constitution, it also empowers the Congress to do all things necessary and sufficient in the exercise of this power, including the adoption of the Rules that govern the Congress when it does exercise this power. Notice that even the Supreme Court does not have this power!

I assert that the Congress can decide, as a matter of its Rules, HOW the Congress shall exercise this power which is explicitly granted to it by the Constitution, including whether both Houses of the Congress should vote separately or jointly when approving the same, as long as the Congress complies with the three-fourths majority rule.

To prove this assertion, merely consider two questions:

Q1: Would it be unconstitutional if both the House and the Senate passed Joint and Concurrent Resolutions adopting the rule "voting jointly" when it proposed amendment or revision?

Q2: Would it be unconstitutional if both the House and the Senate passed Joint and Concurrent Resolutions adopting the rule "voting separately" when it proposed amendment or revision?

The answer to both Questions is indubitably NO since the Constitution is completely silent on which way the Congress should vote, separately or jointly. Even if the Constitution requires that the arithmetic requirement of three-fourths majority rule must apply, the Congress can comply with this numerical requirement of the Constitution whether it votes separately OR jointly.

ERGO, it would be a grave abuse of the Supreme Court's discretion, amounting to an unconstitutional excess and/or lack of jurisdiction, for it to dictate to the Congress a priori whether it is jointly or separately. That choice, in my opinion, is purely the prerogative of the Congress. The most I think that the Supreme Court can do, if and when a real case and controversy should arise, is to decide whether or not the Congress has complied with the Constitution.

For example, if a mere House Resolution is submitted to the Comelec for plebiscite, such a Resolution is obviously and trivially insufficient in form to qualify as an Act of the Congress proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution. Even if a House Resolution is signed unanimously by all the Members of the Lower House, it will only ever be an ACT of the Lower House and not an ACT of the Congress.

The ACT of proposing amendments to or revision of the Constitution for ratification at plebiscite is granted to only two very specific entities whose Members or Delegates are all democratically elected representatives of the people --- the Congress or a Constitutional Convention.

It is not for the Supreme Court to tell the Congress what Rules it must adopt since the Constitution actually allows either voting rule -- voting jointly or separately, to be adopted by the Congress.

Now it may not seem equally remarkable, but there is an even muter Constitutional silence and ambiguity in the matter of how a Constitutional Convention is supposed to approve proposed amendments or revision. But no one worries about this other ambiguity because we assume, if a ConCon is ever elected and convened, that the elected Delegates of the Convention will organize themselves as a collegial body and adopt RULES by which they agree to operate. Since all the Delegates are equal upon election to the ConCon, the principle of "One Delegate, One Vote" means that the Rules of the Convention will themselves first be approved by a simple majority rule of 50% plus one Delegate. Note that the contents of the Rules themselves are entirely up to the Convention. It can adopt a rule which says that the Convention will approve amendments or revisions only upon a simple majority vote, or two-thirds majority, or three-fourths, or four-fifths of all its Delegates. Or the Convention can decide that all votes must be unanimous. Since the Constitution empowers ConCon to amend or revise the Constitution, it certainly also grants the ConCon the power to adopt such Rules and operating policies and procedures as are necessary for it to exercise such power.

In other words, the Constitution expects a Constitutional Convention to resolve the total ambiguity which exists in the Constitution itself as regards to the ConCon's workings.

I think the same principle applies exactly to the controversial ambiguity over voting separately or jointly in Section 1(1) when the Congress proposes amendments or revisions. It is the Congress itself, acting as a Constituent Assembly (ConAss), which can swiftly, easily and completely resolve and remove the AMBIGUITY in the provision, simply by adopting the Rules to be enforced when the Congress proposes amendments to or revision of the Constitution.

It is entirely conceivable and permissible that the Senate and the House would both CONCUR on "voting jointly" as the rule to approve amendments or revisions. It is equally conceivable and permissible that they would adopt the very different rule of "voting separately."

But it is inconceivable and impermissible that EITHER rule could be adopted by the Congress for the exercise of its right to amend or revise the Constitution, without both Houses of the Congress concurring to adopt such Rule.

In other words, there is no possible exception to "voting separately" when the Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly, adopts its Rules for the purpose, even if one of those Rules is that they will vote jointly when it comes to approving proposed amendments and revisions!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Even Lemmings Have the Numbers

The Judicial and Bar Council is holding a public interview of the six candidates for Chief Justice today: Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago; Senior Associate Justice Reynato Puno; Associate Justices Leonardo Quisumbing, Antonio Carpio, Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, and Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez. An eight man panel of the JBC headed by Sen. Kiko Pangilinan will nominate between three and six of these candidates from which list the President will make a final choice. The majority of pundits seem to think Reynato Puno is a shoe-in because of his dissenting opinion on People's Initiative. Former Sen. Rene Saguisag, "is sure" the President will appoint Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. My guess: ANTONIO CARPIO.

RICKY CARANDANG has the big story from resigned Defense Secretary Nonong Cruz about the sudden visit to Manila of John Negroponte, US Director of National Intelligence last December. Turns out he was here to register strong US opposition to a plan by the Palace to impose martial law late last year. Cruz cites Don Rumsfeld's admonition that the Philippines should uphold democracy and not return to dictatorship. Nonong Cruz declared his own firm opposition to such a plan or intention.

Manolo Quezon scared me last night with a scenario that could unfold as follows...

(1) Jose de Venecia and at least 195 Members of the House of Representatives ("the Lower House") will constitute themselves into an assembly and sign a Piece of Paper proposing amendment and revision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution of Government from Bicameral-Presidential to Unicameral-Parliamentary. (This assumes that the House Speaker can actually assemble a Quorum of at least that many Members of the Lower House.)

(2) Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban retires. The President appoints "Mr. or Ms. XYZ" as Chief Justice, but does not appoint a fifteenth Justice, leaving fourteen (14) incumbent Justices of the Supreme Court.

(3) The Congress submits the Piece of Paper to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for ratification or rejection by plebiscite of the people under the following provisions of the Constitution--
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 1.

Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.
(4) The Comelec will rule that a plain reading of the 1987 provisions does not allow the Comelec to question the power of the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of the all its Members, to propose any change to the Constitution. Noting also that there is no precedent or prohibition against Comelec approving such petitions, Comelec will indeed schedule a Plebiscite sixty days thence. (And throw the country into a nice little Christmas Turmoil!)

(5) A large contingent of oppositors, led by the Senate and One Voice will immediately file a motion with the Supreme Court for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop the Comelec and the Lower House.

(6) But with only fourteen Justices sitting in the High Court, a TRO is not granted because of a 7-7 TIE, leaving the door open for a Plebiscite and the possibility that by Valentines Day 2007, we shall have a newly ratified Unicameral Parliamentary Government. Now what was it they said in Javellana? That the greatest power of the Supreme Court lies in choosing what NOT to do!

Most important of all, the 2007 Midterm Elections will have to be postponed ...


That I suppose is the point of the whole CON-ASS exercise: to junk the 2007 Midterm Elections which looks for all the world like the Palace's worst Nightmare coming to life. But the nice thing about the above scenario is that is about to be put to the test by the inexorable logic and unfolding of real events.

I still think they are out of time. Simple as that. There is not a moment to lose for the Con-Ass pushers however because they pretty much have to have a ratified new Constitution before February 13, 2007, when the campaign period for Senate and party list groups begins. That date is sixty days and less than two weeks away. The Constitution requires a minimum of sixty days before a plebiscite after the Comelec finds a proposal for amendment or revision to be sufficient in form and substance.

Too much to pull off, too little time to do it in before the election fever sets it.

I have been disdainful of the Lower House's pathetic attempts to unilaterally amend and revise the Constitution without the concurrence of the Senate. My view is that even if unanimously signed by all the Members of the Lower House, a House Resolution submitted to the Comelec is obviously Insufficient In Form to qualify as an Act of the Congress, for it is clearly an Act of the Lower House, which is a different animal all together. This point is so clear in my mind, that any Comelec or Supreme Court that would ignore it will suffer history's opprobrium.

I think people like Constantino Jaraula and Luis Villafuerte and even Jose de Venecia probably know this, which is why they have not yet filed such a proposal to amend or revise the charter. What after all, has stopped them from doing so thus far, if not the knowledge that such a House Resolution masquerading as an Act of the Congress will only the suffer the same fate of Pirma and Sigaw: insufficient in form!

By the way, I don't buy the idea that the Supreme Court's 8-7 decision in both People's Initiative cases necessarily reflects the division that would obtain should a Con-Ass resolution reach the High Court. I think the jurisprudence both here and abroad would make it difficult to rule peremptorily that the Senate had a built in disadvantage relative to the House when it comes to charter change proposals. Accepting the idea that it is "voting jointly" means that the Senate is largely irrelevant because of its numerical inferiority.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Only the Paranoid Survive?

WHY has Mike Arroyo, with seeming loss of coolant, charged 43 of his biggest media critics with libel? This is just pure speculation but...I think that after the Garci scandal over a year and half ago, the FG realized a virulent media campaign against him was gathering force and it reminded him of how he himself had worked with Big Media and many of the same people now attacking him, to bring down Erap in 2000-2001 using every trick in the book against a culpable and vulnerable target. The FG's motto? Only the Paranoid Survive. I guess he figures that even if he doesn't win the criminal cases, he will have headed off the Bum's Rush the Media had planned for him. But he may only have set up a more cataclysmic collision yet to come. Thus does familiarity breed contempt. And catastrophe.

DONG PUNO (All Purpose vs. Vortex Public Figures) does a masterful job of summarizing the central legal issues involved in the libel suits filed by First Gentleman Juan Miguel "Mike" Arroyo against some 43 editors, reporters, columnists and broadcast journalists. He was talking to lawyers of the First Gent this week, as well as Prof. Harry Roque of the UP Law School who is filing a class action suit against Mike Arroyo for "abuse of right" under the Civil Code. Reading Dong's piece, one easily catches the suggestion that the First Gentleman is at least a "vortex public figure" for having thrust himself into the cat-and-dog fight ("the vortex") over cheating during the 2004 elections. The issue is over whether the FG is a public figure or a private figure because the latter category of maligned persons can prove an accusation of libel using a lower quantum of evidence than a public figure. Read it all from Dong Puno to get the fine distinctions.

CAVEAT However, I think that there is more to the issue than this. At bottom is the eternal struggle between the Mass Media and the Government over Press Freedom and what journalists can or cannot say in the practice of their profession -- which is the incessant and persistent endeavour to discover and make bold headlines of the deepest and most embarrassing secrets held by the most powerful persons in the Republic.

Not only incessant and persistent, the Media is also self-righteous and jealously guards its Rights to do all things it deems necessary in "the Search for the Truth". The Mass Media, in one particularly radical view, may mix truths and falsehoods much as police interrogators do with criminal suspects -- to catch them in some damning or revealing lie and pry loose that elusive Truth. As long as they call it Opinion or Commentary and liberally use the word "alleged" and quote someone else who is only doing the same thing, the defenders of Press Freedom aver there is nothing unethical even in a little published white lying, all for the sake of getting at the Bigger Truth, of course.

They point to something called the Public's Right to Know as the touchstone of Press Freedom, perhaps its entire raison d'etre.

It is undoubtedly a fine, fine end, that the Public come to know about its leaders and their secrets, if any, through a Responsible Media. But what limits are there to this impressive right, this press freedom?

I think the answer is contained in the following dictum--
The right of the public to know ends where the private right against self-incrimination begins.

Therefore, Journalism cannot set itself up as a permanent Moral Inquisition. Much as it sometimes imagines itself in that role, Mass Media are NOT the official guardians of our public morals and have no primacy over the merest barbero or tricycle driver, nor better insight into such matters as imperialism, rape, chacha, election cheating or even poverty and hunger. In fact, since much of Mass Media is in the control of Filipinos, and not exposed to international media competition, I am eternally suspicious of their motives. skeptical of their methods, and aghast at how low the Media will stoop for a scoop or a sensation.

Journalists and columnists loudly demand that every person in which they take an interest -- whether he or she is a public figure or not -- must dignify with a defense any arbitrary charge or accusation just because it is made in the form of a stunning front page news headline or a niggling opinion column.

It is certainly beyond the realm of Press Freedom, and Common Sense, to expect that even public figures must incriminate themselves. Yet that seems to be part of the hand-wringing that goes on when it comes to complaints of a Chilling Effect due to the First Gentleman's libel suit barrage.

But one might ask, what chilling effect? Surely the atmosphere and the weather come with the turf. But Paranoia can be self-fulfilling, it turns out, because now the Media ARE busily sharpening their knives and battle-axes in the red-hot forges of the Presses and incandescent Broadcast Stations. He has lost the benefit of the Doubt and cannot claim any Margin of Error.

NOW, Mike should be paranoid.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Fine Art of the Loaded Question--by Social Weather Stations

Or, How a Survey Question Becomes Unscientific

To be called "scientific" a public opinion poll should have all scientific parts: (1) the random sampling technique must be used to select the respondents, no matter how few or many; (2) valid logic and reasoning must be used to arrive at the generalization from the random sample to the total population that will become headlines in the media; and (3) the survey question itself must be scientific. Huh? What does it mean for a survey question to be "scientific"? It must be well posed, unambiguously answerable, ideally with a Yes or No, with few if any modifying clauses, adjectives or adverbs that may introduce bias or color to the respondents' appreciation of the question being asked.

A little understood aspect of SWS and Pulse Asia public opinion polls is the design and exact phrasing of the survey questions that are presented to the random sample of respondents. Generally speaking, the subject matter of survey questions are of two types: those that will be borne out by subsequent events, like an election, plebiscite or other objective, independent process (like measureable market share or popularity), and those that won't be put to such a test. Check out my previous post, Ponnuru's Puzzle, for an example on abortion polling showing how one word can drastically change a survey result. Most people do not realize that the generalizations to the entire population made by the pollsters and the Mass Media into headlines after the survey data is analysed, are based purely and rhetorically on the survey questions asked.

Third Quarter 2006 Social Weather Survey: General Vote on Cha-Cha still 67% "NO"; Opposition to Specific Amendments Grows

The Social Weather Stations Media Bureau Headline above was echoed by the Mainstream media today. It was based the following survey question in the SWS Third Quarter questionnaire presented to 1200 respondents:
In English: If a plebiscite is held today, would you vote FOR or AGAINST the Constitution that PGMA wants?

In Pilipino: Kung gaganapin po ngayon ang plebisito para sa pag-aapruba ng isang panukalang bagong Konstitusyon na gusto ni Pangulong Arroyo, kayo po ba ay boboto ng OO SA BAGONG KONSTITUSYON NA GUSTO NG PANGULO o kayo po ba ay boboto ng HINDI SA BAGONG KONSTITUSYON NA GUSTO NG PANGULO?
Please notice that in the Pilipino version of the question, the phrase "na gusto ng pangulo" ("that PGMA wants") appears three times and is ALL CAPS in the original SWS questionnaire.

I think I have to agree with Administration Congressman Constantino Jaraula that there is something wrong with this survey question. It is what I call a "loaded question."

The emphasis upon and repetition of the phrase "that the President wants" is what loads this loaded question with a sly suggestion--As Rep. Jaraula pointed out--that ONLY the President supports the proposed new charter and because of that the President must want it for some selfish, illegitimate or hidden reason. Else why don't others want it too? The proposed Constitution is not described in any other way than that the President wants it. In effect, the Survey Question as most of the respondents probably took it to mean, would read as follows:

If a plebiscite is held today, would you vote FOR or AGAINST a Constitution just because PGMA wants it?

I'm surprised only 67% disapprove of such a dastardly and monstrous proposed Constitution "that the President wants."

Was this a "scientific survey question"? NO. Because it will never be put to the test of an actual plebiscite or election. It can never be proven to be RIGHT or WRONG because we are not having a plebiscite today, nor any time in the future so far as any of the respondents knew at the time they answered this purely hypothetical but loaded survey question.

Of course the headline is not implausible, given the highly charged political atmosphere over chacha. Although it is a loaded question, its subject matter is not obscure and many people have taken definite positions on it. The single digit undecided percentage on this question is evidence of that. Never mind if it's worthless as scientific DATA. All that matters is that it makes for wonderful propaganda, or entertainment. If you think about it, this matter of not being able to ever find out if SWS was right or wrong on this, if its 67% or 51% that would vote down chacha, --is the same thing that happens with the cheapest call-in poll on AM radio, which are usually derided as "unscientific". Et tu, SWS?

Nothing makes it more crystal clear that Public Opinion Polling is Genre of Journalism.

Whenever the pollsters trot out the results of their surveys on such questions, they are actually trading on their own good reputation and credibility from when they do the good scientific work they are capable of.

As an example of the latter, here is the 2007 Senate Horse Race culled from recent surveys of Pulse Asia, Inc. which will be validated by the 2007 Midterm elections in May next year.


July, 2006

% of Voters

Nov, 2006

% of Voters







Kiko Pangilinan







Kiko Pangilinan



Manny Villar


Manny Villar



Ralph Recto












Ralph Recto





Korina Sanchez

































Joker Arroyo

















Joker Arroyo



Mike Defensor







Mike Defensor


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday School: What Was God Doing Before He Invented Man?

JAMES USSHER, the 16th Century Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland-- in a stupendous article of Faith and Science, Annales Veteris et Novi Tentamenti -- is famous for proving that God created the Universe on 23 October, 4004 BC, based on the Biblical enumeration of the generations of the ancient Israelites back to Adam and Eve and a vast erudition of Bible history. Even Jose Rizal was aware of this work and wrote about it in his epistolary from Dapitan with Pablo Pastells, SJ.

There would be numerous excommunications, book burnings, and burnings-at-the-stake, and lifetime house arrests for obstinate heliocentrists, to enforce the established religious and political correctness of Ussher's arithmetic about the age of the Universe and other related doctrines.

Ironically Ussher had actually sown the seed's of Medieval Religion's humiliation with this numerology. You see, Ussher's conclusion that God created everything all at once at some particular moment in 4004 BC, was a testable proposition about the Age of the Universe and life on earth being just a few thousand years old. It was a scientific hypothesis that could be proven to be false by observable facts.

And it was. The Earth and the Universe are undoubtedly far older than six thousand years old, a fact already suspected in the time of Ussher. Safe in the 21st Century, even here in very Roman Catholic Manila, it is of course easy for us to scoff at the good Archbishop's naive adherence to some Hebrew Creation Myth and First Century Greek Gospel writings. After all, we have had the benefit of five centuries of modern Astronomy, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Paleontology and Archaeology, whose very existence is partly due to the need of curious and persistent persons to see if Ussher was right or wrong. He was wrong.

The facts as we know them today are these. The planet Earth is about four billion years old and orbits an ordinary yellow star, one of some 250 billion stars, belonging to a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way. Life, in the form of microscopic, bacteria, has existed on Earth for at least two billion years, and more complex plant and animal life for at least 500 million years, on both land and sea, as well as the air. There were large predators, the dinosaurs by 200 million years ago. But the human species, Homo sapiens, has been around only for about 130,000 years!

So today, we ask the question:

What was God doing before Man invented Religion?

Some people may prefer to approach this question in a form that James Ussher might have appreciated after being confronted with the evidence that Man and Beasts and Stars were not contemporaneously originated as claimed in Genesis or his own works:

What was God doing during the two billion years of Life on Earth, before He created the species Homo Sapiens, 130,000 years ago?

Cosmic Log points to the NOVA Science Now series from the US Public Broadcasting Service(PBS). An episode on one of my favorite Big Topics-- Mass Extinctions --aired just a few days ago. (Click on the link and watch it for an entertaining summary of the last 250 million years.) I don't know if there will ever be another Carl Sagan on television, but astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson hosts what may be a worthy successor to the fabled Cosmos series in Science Now.

MASS EXTINCTIONS are a way of life and death on the planet Earth (this post lists the five most significant ones of the last half billion years). Even here in the far-off Philippine Archipelago, many have heard of the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago when an asteroid or comet the size of Mount Everest evidently slammed into the earth and triggered a 5000 year long Global Winter as billions of tons of the collision ejecta went into orbit and shut out the sun for a couple of millennia. Fortunately for us, the ancestor of what would become the modern mammals, and Homo Sapiens, survived that mass extinction event, mute but eloquent evidence of which is the ancient 200-mile wide Chixulub Crater in the Gulf of Mexico, discovered in the 1990s as proof of the Impact Extinction theory.
Billions upon billions of living creatures, predators, prey, living, breathing, breeding, bleeding animals, died in an unimaginably horrible Holocaust a quarter of a billion years ago.

One of the most awesome scientific graphs I've ever seen is the one below produced by David Raup and John Sepkoski of the University of Chicago, which diagrammatically shows the history of life on earth during the last 250 million years as revealed by their analysis of the geological fossil record, discussed here in a Lawrence Berkeley Lab Review. Please realize that each peak in the plot below represents a mass extinction event in which 10 to 90 per cent of all life on earth goes extinct. Shown at 65 million years ago is the event that wiped out the dinosaurs. But less known is the mass extinction event 250 million years ago (to the far left of the graph below) in which 90% of all life on earth died and many whole branches of the Tree of Life were cut off. This event, was however, not due to asteroid impact, but may have been a global warming catastrophe involving a gigantic Siberian volcano system in which the oceans lost their oxygen and bacteria took over! Various causes have now been hypothesized for these mass extinction events of the Very Distant Past.

I think this graph shows what God was doing for a quarter of a billion years before he invented Homo sapiens. He was designing millions of different species and families of life forms and calling to life uncountable trillions upon trillions of living creatures--googols of them-- from trilobytes to dinosaurs to mammals to insects to bacteria, to live upon the earth. Then killing them off, as a Great Artificer might take an eraser and obliterate some drawing or sketch.

What was God doing before he invented Man? Perhaps He was just practicing to be Eternity's greatest biocidal Maniac. Or perhaps, it was really Man who created God, around the time Ussher claims vice versa.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Max Soliven, 77

Max has checked out of the Manila Hotel.

Now it seems the 20th Century really is over.
Do you miss it very much, as I do, my Precious?

No more is that atmosphere which he created
in the telling and retelling of its events.

Now his stories will be that of a dead man,
and the true test of time begins.

No more amendments or revisions to the text,
no more editions or deadlines to meet,

Save Judgment Day,
as the vast audience of History awaits.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Both People's Initiatives Were Insufficient In Form

And How the Supreme Court Has Left the Door Ajar

There have been two attempts to use the People's Initiative provision to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter. The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
(1) The first one in 1997 may be identified as the Pirma People's Initiative to lift the term limits on national officials and would have directly benefited its principal architect and sponsor, then President Fidel V. Ramos.

(2) The second one in 2006, as we know is the Sigaw ng Bayan People's Initiative to switch to a Unicameral parliamentary system from the present Bicameral presidential system, which would benefit the incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, and the aforementioned FVR.

Both were struck down by the Supreme Court for being INSUFFICIENT IN FORM after they were submitted to Comelec for ratification in a Plebiscite.

(1) Santiago v. Comelec The Pirma initiative petition contained a succinct statement of the proposed amendment, but it did not have the required number of 12% of the voters signatures upon that initiative petition. Thus the Pirma initiative had the amendments proposed by the initiative but not the signatures.

(2) Lambino v. Comelec The Sigaw initiative petition contained more than the required number of 12% of the voters signatures but the Court could not find evidence that the proponents had ever "shown to the people" the complete text of the Unicameral Parliamentary proposal. In effect, the Sigaw petition was insufficient in form because it had the signatures but not the proposed amendments!

The two Supreme Court Decisions could've stopped right here and voided each attempt just upon their self-evident noncompliance with the plain requirements of the Constitution for amending the Constitution by People's Initiative. But I guess a finding of an insufficiency in form might be criticized as a mere "technicality" so that in both cases the Supreme Court went further in its demolition of the two People's Initiative campaigns.

It found in both cases that the proposed "amendments" actually amounted to REVISIONS of the Constitution. In other words, that these proposed changes to the Constitution by People's Initiative (lifting term limits and switching to Unicameral Parliamentary) are unconstitutional because they are overly sufficient in substance, being tantamount to a wholesale revision of the 1987 Constitution. Thus the Court ruled that these changes may not be proposed by the people's initiative mode.

BUT The Supreme Court Minute Resolution denying the Sigaw ng Bayan Petition with finality ends with the following beguiling statement--
Ten (10) Members of the Court reiterate their position, as shown by their various opinions already given when the Decision herein was promulgated, that Republic Act No. 6735 is sufficient and adequate to amend the Constitution thru a people's initiative."
So, is this an Implied Reversal of --?
Santiago v. Comelec (1997)

CONCLUSION: This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments on the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.

We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution should no longer be kept in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood, energy and strength. Congress should not tarry any longer in complying with the constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people under that system.

WHEREFORE, judgment is h[e]reby rendered

a) GRANTING the instant petition;

b) DECLARING R.A. No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, and to have failed to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation;

c) DECLARING void those parts of Resolutions No. 2300 of the Commission on Elections prescribing rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution; and

d) ORDERING the Commission on Elections to forthwith DISMISS the DELFIN petition (UND-96-037).

The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made permanent as against the Commission on Elections, but is LIFTED against private respondents.

Resolution on the matter of contempt is hereby reserved.


Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo,Kapunan, Hermosisima, Jr. and Torres Jr., JJ., concur. Padilla, J., took no part; related to a co-petitioner and co-counsel of the petitioners. Melo and Mendoza, JJ., joins the separate, concurring opinions of Justices Puno, Francisco and Panganiban. Puno, Vitug, , Francisco and Panganiban, JJ., has separate opinions.
The "Ten (10) Members of the Court" who are merely "reiterating their opinion" in various separate concurring and dissenting opinions are Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago and Adolfo S. Azcuna joined their dissenting colleagues, namely, Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno and Justices Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Renato C. Corona, Dante O. Tinga, Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Cancio C. Garcia and Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.


The Reversal is not implied. The Ten Minute Resolution is a direct contradiction of Santiago v. Comelec, if you look at the red-bolded words above.

There may be a clue to the Court's apparently vacillating stance in this now suggestive passage from Santiago v. Comelec--
Even if it be conceded ex gratia that R.A. No. 6735 is a full compliance with the power of Congress to implement the right to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has validly vested upon the COMELEC the power of subordinate legislation and that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining the Delfin Petition.

Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be deemed validly initiated.
In effect, that was all there was to Santiago v. Comelec--a defective petition that did not meet the Constitution's requirements on the numbers and signatures of the petitioners that Comelec had no business entertaining. Meanwhile in Lambino v. Comelec, all there is to it is also a defective petition with the required numbers of voters and signatures, but no proper proposal attached to them.

In a some sense, the matter of "revision or amendment" and the matter of a "sufficient enabling law" are in and of themselves, superfluous matters with respect to the decision facing the Supreme Court in each case, which was whether to allow either of these to proceed to plebiscite. I, for one, don't agree that the term limits change is a Revision, fer Chrisakes!

They did not have to rule that RA 6735 was "inadequate" to implement People's Initiative in Santiago v. Comelec, and did not even address it in Lambino v. Comelec. Even if they were to reverse that dictum now, it would not reverse the practical effect of the Conclusions of either Decision, which was to stop the Pirma and Sigaw initiatives.

Perhaps, the Supreme has suddenly realized it had overstepped its bounds by ruling upon the sufficiency in substance of the enabling law of Congress on initiative and referendum.

But what a niggardly apology this one sentence is at the end of a mere Minute Resolution of the God Almighty Supreme Court!

They have left the door ajar though!

...and I am actually glad this is happening. Because there should be a People's Initiative mode for amending the Constitution. It should NOT be limited to once every five years. Instead it should be permitted when some percentage of the voters sign upon a proper initiative petition and be put up for plebiscite in regular elections as Propositions, to be ratified or rejected by the People.

The worst thing about the current provision is it is not self-executory and requires that Congress provide for the implementation of the people's initiative. How can it be the People's Initiative when the Twin Houses of the Politicians gets to define and provide for its implementation?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pulse Asia Survey: No News Is No News

OR, Why the Survey Firms Invented the Net Satisfaction Rating

PULSE ASIA reports on a year's worth of polling on the Performance and Trust ratings of the President from October 2005 to November 2006 (Ulat ng Bayan surveys)...
...President Arroyo’s overall performance ratings are not significantly different from those recorded in July 2006 ...

...There is hardly any change – positive or negative – in the President’s overall trust ratings between July and November 2006...
I must say, they try harder nowadays at the Avis of Public Opinion Pollsters. The statistical parameters of the survey are clearly laid out in the beginning of the Press Release, namely the number of respondents (1200) and the built-in statistical margins of error for national results (+/-3%) and sub-national results (NCR, Luzviminda +/-6%). Even the Confidence Level (95%) is mentioned, but let's ignore what that is for now. The beginning of the Pulse Asia Press Release reads like the label on a Medicine Bottle, which is the way it should be.

A point worth clarifying for Philippine Commentary readers is this: the Statistical Margin of Error is present even if the survey is conducted perfectly from a clerical and mechanical point of view. In other words, the Statistical Margin of Error is in addition to any "mistakes" that the survey personnel and data collectors might actually make in polling, counting, recording or otherwise processing the statistical raw data. The reason of course is that the Statistical Margin of Error is not due to "mistakes" or "sloppiness" but merely reflect the innate imprecision created by a RANDOM SAMPLE based survey.
Armed with this information, any intelligent layman can completely understand the two Tables containing, in a neat and compact format, the data from a whole year's worth of Pulse Asia's polling on the "Performance" (Table 1) and "Trust" (Table 2) Ratings of the President.

I must congratulate Pulse Asia for including a column in their Tables showing the CHANGE in the survey statistic from the last survey period. This helps the intelligent survey peruser to decide what level of significance or importance to put on result. If the change is less than or about equal to the relevant Margin of Error, then the apparent change may only be due to the expected fluctuations induced by the finite Random Sample Size. This format makes it easy to see that there is remarkable stability to the Performance and Trust Ratings as measured by the pollster.

I have very little to gripe about this time on the way Pulse Asia reported on its survey quarter. We must however bear in mind that the actual distribution of public opinion on the two Questions posed, (whether respondents approved of the President's performance and the amount of trust they put in her) are NEVER going to be measured directly and objectively in some independent process like an election or plebiscite. Therefore the results of these polls will never actually be put to some kind of verification test, unlike for example, exit polls or voter preference polls during the campaign period.

Why Net Satisfaction Rating Was Invented It may also be useful Philippine Commentary readers to see how the "Performance Ratings" such as above, are related to something called the Net Satisfaction Rating or Net Approval Rating, a calculated statistic that is equal to the DIFFERENCE between the percentage that approves and the percentage that disapproves of the President's performance. I have calculated what the Net Satisfaction Rating of the President would be based on the data in Table 1 of the Pulse Asia Survey. What happens is that a new statistic is created that looks like things are CHANGING a lot from one Quarter to the next, but it's all an illusion because it's the same data.
Pulse Asia
Ulat ng Bayan Survey
Time Series Data
Oct 2005Mar 2006Jul 2006Nov 2006

Approve Minus Disapprove
"Net Approval Rating"
"Net Satisfaction Rating"
"Net Performance Rating"


Now do you see why the survey outfits invented the Net Satisfaction Rating? It's because NO NEWS doesn't sell, whereas the NSR has more of a built in variation because it contains the variations in the two quantities being subtracted from one another. It's hard to turn the status quo into a headline, but since the pollsters don't usually tell you that the Margin of Error in the NSR is actually twice what the normal margin of error is, and the Media have refused to understand it, we get sensational reports of "plunging" ratings, or "suddenly soaring" ratings.

I bet you if you check the newspaper headlines around last July, some of them probably said something like: President's Net Performance Rating Jumps by 6% from March.

The Net Satisfaction Rating is a product of the public opinion pollsters Media Bureau, designed for the Art of Making Up Headlines even when No News is No News!

But to its credit, Pulse Asia chose not to stoop to that cheap arithmetic trick called the Net Satisfaction Rating this time and stuck to its raw data, which is illuminating in its own right, as all scientific data should be. It is a cardinal rule of Science to try as much as possible to let the data speak for itself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Even If Unanimous, a House Resolution is not an Act of The Congress

I believe Rep. Butch Pichay when he says that he and Speaker Jose de Venecia have 195 Congressmen willing to back a switch to a Unicameral Parliament under the "Con-Ass" mode of chacha. He says he already has the House Resolution proposing the change all ready to go. So why don't they?

Pichay says they are standing on firm ground with the Constitution:
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 1.

Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.
Since they have the numbers WHY NOT file the threatened House Resolution proposing a revision of the Constitution and submit it to the Comelec for Plebiscite to be synchronized with the 2007 Midterm Elections? (There are 236 House Members and 23 Senate Members there are a total of 259 Members of Congress. The smallest whole number that just exceeds three-fourths of 259 is 195, said to be the Magic Number for Unicameral Con-Ass.)

Why don't the Con-Ass proponents just file a House Resolution with Comelec if they "have the numbers" (which I believe they do)?

I think it is because even if a House Resolution proposing amendments to or revision of the charter were to be signed unanimously by ALL the Members of the Lower House, it would only still add up to an ACT of the Lower House, not an ACT of the Congress.

Without looking at the substance at all, it is therefore obvious that a House Resolution is insufficient in form to qualify as an Act of The Congress.

That is why there has been no House Resolution filed with Comelec for the purpose of proposing any amendment to or revision of the Constitution. They don't want an historic Supreme Court ruling striking down the House as an impostor of The Congress and their House Resolution as woefully insufficient in form and thus failing the Constitution's most direct and simple demand that any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by The Congress.

It is not "the three fourths of all the Members of Congress" that propose amendments or revision, it is The Congress that does so. One thing for sure, even if unanimous, a House Resolution is not an Act of The Congress. And it is certainly not the Lower House of Representatives that the Constitution empowers to amend or revise it.

Postscript on P.I.

Lawyer Marichu Lambino is the newest BLAWGER in my Blogroll. (via MLQ3)

Just in time too -- as she weighs right in on that beguiling Supreme Court Minute Resolution denying the Sigaw ng Bayan Petition with finality but ending with the following statement:
Ten (10) Members of the Court reiterate their position, as shown by their various opinions already given when the Decision herein was promulgated, that Republic Act No. 6735 is sufficient and adequate to amend the Constitution thru a people's initiative."
Like a chicken bone flung out from the sorry remains of some fowl's carcass for the dogs to chew on and possibly choke on, this little morsel has been hungrily seized upon by Raul Lambino and Butch Pichay, who are determined to read into it a glimmer of hope, a hint of possible victory. But it is of as much consequence as if the Court had solemnly declared: "On the day before yesterday, the Sun rose in the East and set in the West."

After all, what is a "Reiteration" by Ten (10) Members of the Court of certain things they said in various concurring and dissenting opinions recently? Is it a Decision or a Resolution of the Court? No. Is it a Reversal of any previous Decision or Resolution of the Court? No.

A vacillation or inconsistency perhaps, as Butch Pichay claims? Maybe. It could be seen as an admission of embarrassment over that ruling in Santiago vs. Comelec (1997) which found Republic Act No. 6735 "inadequate" to implement people's initiatives, but not "unconstitutional" or the more definite "insufficient in form and substance." Well par for the course for the Court that invented "constructive resignation" and made a euphemism for coup d'etat ("withdrawal of support") an accepted Principle of Regime Change (just get the Supreme Court Chief Justice to swear you in!)

Anyway, Welcome to the local scene online, Marichu Lambino! Move over Ed Lacierda, Fred Pamaos, Connie Veneracion. There's a new Blawger in town.


Voting Separately or Voting Jointly?

It has been publicly admitted by the Founding Father Joaquin Bernas, S.J., that the framers of the 1987 should really have put one of the two phrases "voting separately" or "voting jointly" into the provision that empowers The Congress to propose any amendment to or revision of the Constitution--that there is an unavoidable ambiguity in the provision that needs disambiguating (a Wiki word).

But WHO can actually settle this issue? Does the nation have to go through another submission to Comelec followed by a Supreme Court ruling to do so? That would be par for the course around here, which is to say, insane. But there is actually a simpler way...

The Congress itself can settle the issue by a simple Act of the Congress adopting the Rules of the Congress when it invokes Article XVII Sec.1(1) to propose amendments or revisions of the Charter.

Of course, such Rules can only be adopted in the usual manner of The Congress, by a simple majority of both Houses of the Congress (i.e., voting separately!).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Think Your Nice New Call Center Job Is Safe?

Democrats Could Put a Chill on Outsourcing The Manila Bulletin reports on the remarks of William Padfield, CEO of Datacraft Asia who worries that the anti-outsourcing policies of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party could reduce business going to call centers here and elsewhere.
"The Democrats believed in keeping the jobs in the US, while the Republicans are more pro-business. This could impact on the call center business in the Philippines, India and other countries."
The New York Sun uncovers the reason for the Democratic Party's anti-outsourcing stance: Shrinking Labor Unions Push for Protectionism.

And guess who campaigned as "the Anti-Outsourcing Candidate" from Virginia: Jim Webb, with whose victory the Democratic Party took control of the US Senate 51-49. I'm pretty sure Nancy Pelosi would rather have Call Centers in San Francisco, California than San Francisco del Monte. They're anti-imperialists you see and don't want Filipino college students to be oppressed working long hours for the monopoly capitalist call center operators exploiting the Philippines cheap labor.

Strange, but the Philippine Left really hasn't heard the news and Conrado de Quiros probably doesn't read the Bulletin or the New York Sun, so he cheers --
I’m especially elated that this comes in the heels of another momentous event, which is the Democratic victory in the United States. Which bodes well for the advancement—or never mind advancement, just mere observance—of human rights across the world.
Whoa! Is that a teensy-weensy note of skepticism showing there? And check out the hyperbole...
What can I say? I wouldn’t mind wearing Gap, Polo, or Ralph Lauren shirts in days to come. I don’t know that they’ve been charged with turning a blind eye to child labor in sweatshops in Asia, like Nike, but if only for their speaking out against the horrendous atrocity that is the open, brazen and near-genocidal decimation of journalists and political activists in this country, I’m all for giving them their due.
Near genocidal decimation. I wonder if he means like Saddam Hussein? Oh and yeah those wonderful apparel makers "speaking out against the horrible atrocity..." Like Nike, like Polo, like Gap...

So, who is the Muslim Magellan? Noralyn Mustafa (Kris-Krossing Mindanao) fumes at the history books for teaching Filipinos that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines in 1521. She assures us Magellan's voyages were all a part of the West's Crusades against Islam. But I wish she would tell us who discovered the Philippines for the Muslims before Magellan. I'd really like to know, but she doesn't really say and instead reviews a thousand years of Islamic history and makes a long detour back to the year 718. (Anno Domine?)

Manny Pacquiao Stung Morales Like a Swarm of Bees
They sang three national anthems in Las Vegas: Mexico's, the United States and the Philippine National Anthem, which Sarah Geronomo performed a capella and with a grand and soaring solemnity. From the opening bell and their first "bara-bara" tussle, it must have seemed to Eric Morales that he was boxing with a swarm of bees. Manny "Pac-Man" PACQUIAO was like a mean lil dancing machine as he TKO'd "El Terrible" in the third round of their third fight in Las Vegas today. The PacMan was in awesome physical shape and completely outshined the stunned Mexican boxer in all areas: speed, strength, percentage of power punches landed, and if might add from Morales column to the PacMan's: STYLE. Manny Pacquaio has developed a confident kind of control over his own amazing speed, agility and offensive accuracy--the kind of thing you see in ballet dancer like Rudolf Nuryeyev. The first time he knocked down Eric Morales, he seemed to be off-balance from a barrage of his opponent's desperate long shots, then his left hook seemed to come out of nowhere for a roundhouse rendezvous with Morales' jaw. After that first round strike, the PacMan just seemed to be shoving El Terible around the ring, surrounding him from all sides with moves people haven't seen in a Filipino boxer since Flash Elorde, or ever. I saw the fight at the Mall of Asia with a large cheering crowd. Henry Sy did a smart thing screening the fight live on HBO at some 100 theatres in SM Malls nationwide (P500 per ticket with free Jollibee Sandwich, drink and dessert). The only Fly in the Ointment was the sudden appearance at the end of Luis Chavit Singson.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Allegiance is to God and Virtues Greater Than Nationalism

The Constitutions and Laws of both the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America are quite clear about the matter of a person's citizenship at birth:

Any human being, born anywhere in the world, whose natural mother OR natural father is a Filipino citizen, automatically becomes a natural-born Filipino citizen. This is the principle of Jus Sanguinis ("Right of the Blood") by which all natural-born Filipinos become Filipino citizens. It is a biological birthright, a matter of the composition of your DNA--at least half of it must have come from a person who was a Filipino citizen when he and or she gave it to "you."

In contrast, any human being, born within the territory of the United States of America, regardless of the citizenship(s) of natural parents, automatically becomes a natural-born American citizen. This is the principle called
Jus Soli ("Right of the Soil"), by which most Americans become natural-born citizens--they are born in America.

Notice that both citizenships are granted automatically at birth--the human being has no choice in the matter. Whether you like it or not, you are deemed a citizen based on the circumstances of your birth, over which you hardly have any control.

Now think about what happens when Filipinos come to live and work in the United States of America and have children. Notice that both principles, jus soli and jus sanguinis apply in full to such human beings born to Filipinos within the US homeland. This creates a very large class of natural born dual citizens of the Philippines and the United States. Every child born in America whose father OR mother is a Filipino citizen at the time of his or her birth is automatically BOTH an American AND a Filipino citizen. They really have NO choice in the matter. Human beings do not choose their original citizenship. Citizenship rights and duties are shoved upon them at birth by one or more countries, depending on the biological and geographic circumstances whether they like it or not.

Natural-born Filipino citizens often become citizens of the US by a process called NATURALIZATION, which of course is a conscious and purposeful act that normally follows from moving to the US to live and work, something we've been doing for centuries, if Rodel Rodis and various Filipino-American historians are to be believed. Simple logic and arithmetic shows however, that natural born dual citizens far outnumber those who have only recently re-acquired Filipino citizenship under RA 9225, the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003. Natural born citizens of both countries however, do not have to do anything to perfect their citizenships, which are rights acquired at birth. They can only lose such rights by explicitly rejecting and abjuring them.

I myself was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA when both my Filipino parents were doing Master of Laws studies at not-distant Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana. ("Go Hoosiers!"). But exactly half of the more than fifty winters on my head were also spent in the summer, spring and fall of both countries. I was less than a year old when I first returned to the Philippines, where I grew up and first lived until I was eighteen, when Ferdinand Marcos arrested, then exiled me as an undesirable teenager writing nasty editorials about him in a college newspaper (The La Sallian). But I was eventually released from the custody of one Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos and our official gaoler, Juan Ponce Enrile, and thus departed the privileged company of such as Ninoy Aquino, Chino Roces, Pepe Diokno, Haydee Yorac, and many other of martial law's earliest foes, bunkmates at the Camp Crame Officers Gym. I moved to America on the strength of a letter from the US Embassy that I was protected by the laws and Constitution of the United States. (Or perhaps it was Marcos' realization that I was the least of his worries in that august company still within his detention.) With the help of many little brown brothers and sisters--and yellow, and black, and white, and red, all the technicolors of the rainbow called Humanity--I put myself and the Mrs. through college, working full time and studying full-time which only the young can do. In time I became a Harvard Physicist and General Electric Co. Scientist and before I knew it, Marcos was gone, and it was the Nineties. I came home in 1995 and have been here in the Archipelago since--writing, mainly. Observing, mostly. Other writers, especially.

And so, it is with the same spirit of ginger trepidation with which I approach a live crustacean, like a crab or lobster bristling with pincers and a spiny exoskeleton, that I comment upon Isagani Cruz's blast at Dual Citizens with Dual Allegiance in Saturday PDI.

First, Isagani Cruz argues with the 1987 Constitution, as follows:
"Art. IV, Sec. 5 of the Constitution provides, “Dual allegiance of citizens is inimical to the national interest and shall be dealt with by law.” In Mercado v. Manzano, 307 SCRA 630, the Supreme Court, citing the debates in the Constitutional Commission of 1986, distinguished between dual allegiance and dual citizenship and held that while the former was illegal the latter was allowed.

I beg to differ. Citizenship indispensably requires allegiance and dual citizenship allows dual allegiance, which the Constitution itself says is “inimical to the national interest.” Where the national interests of the countries of the dual citizen clash, which of his two countries should he support? The loyalty of the citizen should be absolute but it must be divided and diluted if he is a dual citizen."


(1) This is called ZERO-SUM thinking because Isagani Cruz studiously ignores the very reason why both the US and the Philippines and most other civilized countries allow dual citizenship, which is that the "national interests of the countries of the dual citizen" COINCIDE much more than they CLASH.

(2) Isagani Cruz also ignores the basic humanitarian motivation behind dual citizenship, which is that there are unavoidable biological, cultural and historical ties that bind persons to families and communities and places that have nothing to do with the legalities of Constitutions and the perorations of former Supreme Court Justices.

(3) Loyalty and allegiance are however not zero-sum quantities. For loyalty and allegiance are akin to the emotion called Love, which is not zero-sum quantity. The fact that I have two parents, a mother and a father, does not mean I can be loyal to, or love, only one of them. Though my Love and Loyalty ARE divided between them, neither my Love nor Loyalty is diluted by such a division!

(4) Both zero sum thinking and the disregard for the human conditions that accompany a world of international immigration and travel, are clear symptoms of CRUSTACEANITIS, that crab-like syndrome which further motivates Isagani Cruz to say things like this:
I.C.: "I am reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 16:9-15: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money.”
Cruz is actually grousing about OFWs having their cake and eating it too, perhaps after himself imbibing too much of Conrado de Quiros' bitter bile against the emigrants.
The cloying sentimentality of sob sisters in Congress now allows undeserved privileges to former Filipinos who have abandoned this country for the greener pastures of other lands. The dual citizen is like a man who abandons the wife he loves to marry another woman he needs. As “This country of ours, for all its difficulties and limitations, is like a jealous and possessive mother,” I had written earlier. “Once it is rejected, it is not quick to welcome back with open arms its prodigal and repentant children.” The dual citizens are not even repentant children.
Oh Repent Ye Disloyal Dual Citizens You!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Skinny on ACM Accuracy Rating

ABSCBN News: SC orders Ombudsman to explain ACM ruling
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Office of the Ombudsman to respond to the petition filed by opposition lawmakers seeking to nullify its decision clearing Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officials of any criminal liability over the voided P1.3-billion automated counting machines (ACMs) contract. The High Court has given Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez 10 days to answer the petition filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. Pimentel led other senators in filing the petition questioning the decision of the Ombudsman absolving the COMELEC led by its chairman Benjamin Abalos and officials of MegaPacific in connection with the purchase of the 1,991 ACMs amounting to P1.3 billion.
It certainly appears that the "Ombudsgirl" (in Sen. Joker Arroyo's colorful characterization) has plenty of explaining to do to the Supreme Court.

But one of the more interesting scientific aspects of this case is the matter of the ACCURACY RATING of the ACMs and the manner by which the Dept. of Science and Technology is alleged to have certified them.
From Ombudsman's Supplemental Resolution on MegaPacific Contract: The report shows that the failures on six (6) items, were not defects attributable to the machines. DOST after analyzing the causes of non-conforming accuracy rating using statistical analysis and investigation on the so called assignable causes of variation, concluded that the discrepancy was due to improper shading of ballots resulting to the failed marks obtained by the machines of Mega Pacific. More, in the same report of DOST, it is categorically stated that the results of the verification tests on the machines of Mega Pacific in fact yielded a one hundred percent (100%) accuracy rating for all three environment conditions.
I have previously pointed out that the ability to read shaded marks under a wide variety of conditions is surely the central point of testing an Optical Mark Reader, so the first part of above statement is beguiling and mystifying to say the least. But let me concentrate on the point about accuracy rating.

The Ombudsman's assailed Supplemental Resolution contains the following testimony in this regard from from the Science & Technology Dept. Secretary Estrella Alabastro--
From Ombudsman's Supplemental Resolution on MegaPacific Contract: "Secretary Alabastro testified that she was one of the members of the Advisory Council and the Technical Ad Hoc Evaluation Committee (TAHEC) who formulated the policies relating to the technical aspect of the automated election system. That when she was furnished with the list of twenty seven (27) key requirements to be used in the evaluation of the automated counting machines (ACMs) she noted that the accuracy rating that was required is 99.995%, whereas the Request for Proposal (RFP) had a higher accuracy rating of 99.9995%. She said however, that what was adopted in the meetings she had with the COMELEC and the Advisory Council is a 99.995% accuracy level and not the 99.9995% since the ACMs will be tested to read only 20,000 marks and not 200,000 marks."
What exactly did Sec. Alabastro mean when she said "the ACMs will be tested to read only 20,000 marks and not 200,000 marks."?

This has to do with the fact that an accuracy rating of 99.9995% given to an optical mark reader (OMR) means that it NEVER produces MORE THAN ONE erroneous reading for every 200,000 test marks fed for it to read. By the same simple decimal arithmetic, an accuracy rating of 99.995% means the OMR NEVER produces MORE THAN ONE erroneous reading for every 20,000 marks read. Sec. Alabastro was merely stating that their tests on the ACMs accuracy were based on the lower accuracy rating of 99.995%.

But suppose one feeds an ACM 20,000 test marks and it reads every single one of them (100%) correctly, does it logically follow that the ACM has been shown to have an accuracy rating of at least 99.995%?

NO! It only shows that the machine could have an accuracy rating as good as 100% or as low as 99.3%.

The 20,000 test marks fed to an ACM by DOST to estimate its Accuracy Rating, is entirely analogous to a random sample of 1200 respondents in an SWS or Pulse Asia public opinion survey, to estimate how public opinion is divided on a given question! Just as a finite random sample size of 1200 respondents results in a Margin of Error or statistical uncertainty of plus or minus 3 percent (actually 2.89%) in any generalization we care to make about the entire population, a sample size of 20,000 test marks also has an easily calculable Margin of Error of plus or minus 0.707%.

The secret formula for computing the Margin of Error in any Random Sampling process as a plus or minus percentage is simple. Just take 100 and divide it by the square root of the Number of Respondents or Test Marks.
Thus when the DOST fed a given ACM 20,000 optical test marks to read and it read all of them correctly, the DOST may only claim that the ACM has an apparent accuracy rating of 100% plus or minus 0.707%. In other words, the DOST had only tested the ACMs for an accuracy rating of 99.3% not 99.995%.

How many test marks should DOST have fed into an ACM in order to scientifically and statistically prove that it has an accuracy rating of 99.995%? This depends on what accuracy rating would cause the testing agency to reject a given ACM. Suppose Comelec decides that if a given ACM is tested by DOST and found to have an accuracy rating of 99.985% the DOST must reject the ACM. This means that the statistical precision or Margin of Error in the DOST test should be plus or minus 0.01% if the DOST will have a chance of detecting the difference between 99.995% and 99.985% accuracy rating required for such a Pass-Fail Test.

Now we can work the Secret Formula backward to get the required number of Test Marks! It is equal to 1 divided by the Square of the Margin of Error or 1/(0.01%)(0.01%) which comes out to 100 million test marks. In other words, to prove statistically that a given ACM has an accuracy rating of 99.995% it must not produce more than one error in a test involving 100 million test marks. That may seem like a lot of test marks, but there is no free lunch when it comes to statistical quality control.

But for the purposes of the intelligent layman confronted by statistical tests involving random samples, the important thing to remember is this. The size of the random sample--i.e., the number of respondents in an SWS survey or the number of optical test marks for an ACM--determines a Margin of Error in any measured statistic. This Margin of Error or Statistical Uncertainty in the data is actually the smallest real difference that can be detected by the statistical test. It is also called the statistical precision of the test. For SWS surveys of 1200 respondents the corresponding "tickmarks" are separated by 6% (Plus or Minus 3%). For 10,000 respondents or optical test marks the precision is 2% (Plus or minus 1%). For 20,000 optical test marks the statistical precision is 1.4% (Plus or Minus 0.707%).

I repeat: if you feed an ACM 20,000 ballots and it reads them all correctly, all you have proven, at 95% confidence level, is that the ACM has an accuracy rating as high as 100% or as low as 99.3% because the margin of error associated with a random sample of 20,000 is plus or minus 0.707%. The DOST needs to feed an ACM 100 million test marks and observe not more than one error to conclude that it passes the 99.995% accuracy rating.

Please read the previous post on the novel Constitutional issues that arise from a careful consideration of ACM Accuracy Ratings: ACM Accuracy Ratings and One-Man-One-Vote Suffrage.


The short answer to Jose de Venecia on Con-Ass is this: A House Resolution is NOT an Act of the Congress. Even if it is signed by all 235 Members of the Lower House, ANY House Resolution is a mere Act of the Lower House of Congress. A mere House Resolution, even if unanimous, does not satisfy the basic requirement of the Constitution which plainly states:
Art XVII Section 1 Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or(2) A constitutional convention.
A House Resolution submitted to Comelec under this provision would be insufficient in form.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mike Arroyo--Crusin' for a Bruisin'

LIBEL was Ricky Carandang's subject on the Big Picture this week. Ricky was certainly a paragon of equanimity on ANC's Thursday night show while interviewing one of Mike Arroyo's many lawyers in the fourteen cases filed against 43 of Manila's top editors, columnists and reporters, himself among them. The Lawyer said they were filing libel charges only against persons who were wrongfully accusing the First Gentleman of crimes but not "responsible critics" like Conrado de Quiros [sic!] or even Federico Pascual, whom he said called the First Gent "juvenile." The Consigliere was saying it was OK to insult the hypocritical fat-headedness of the First Gent (I am paraphrasing!), but that anyone accusing the First Saint, err, Gent of a crime without proof would be hit with a charge of libel. Hmm, since being stupid is not a crime, some might prefer to ridicule Him for that.

Tonight Dong Puno's Viewpoint had yet a second of the First Gentleman's most eloquent consiglieri whose main point was that the suits were being mounted both for their punitive as well as deterrent effect. Ellen Tordesillas, a columnist and blogger also on the First Gent's Libel List complained to Dong Puno about the "chilling effect" of the legal offensive mounted by an obviously resource-rich plaintiff like Mike Arroyo. But were these 43 "chilled" into submission by the lawsuits? I doubt that very much. I know it's Ellen's first time to be charged with libel and I wouldn't really wish it on anyone. But I also think that Mike Arroyo has picked a fight he just cannot win short of getting his wife to declare martial law.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How PDI and SWS Put Words in the Mouths of the Undecided

PDI's Amando Doronila thinks the Opposition is being overconfident about 2007 on top of which they are fighting amongst each other, they can't get their act together, they have run out of "patronage resources" -- so he advises them to commit hari-kiri instead, by mounting a full frontal attack on the Palace's strong side (where of course they would be slaughtered) --
Doro: "If the aim of the opposition is to destroy Ms Arroyo's power base, the House should be the target of the opposition. The congressional races are the decisive battleground for a tectonic shift of power in May. It's the outcome of elections for the House seats that will decide whether the Arroyo presidency will be a dead duck after May and not just a lame duck."
That's what the Palace wants the Opposition to do. There is nothing that matters more to the Palace now than the 2007 midterms. Everything it does can be understood in relation to that, and the nightmare they are trying to prevent. The whole nexus of worry is the Senate race and a Hanging Jury of Senator Judges from the Opposition.

Here is a new theorem about impeachment under the 1987 Constitution. The Lower House will never again attempt an impeachment like Erap’s -- where the Senate would NOT have convicted the President in a trial anyway. That was the lesson of the Second Envelope. That was the lesson of 2005 and 2006 impeachment attempts.

Only the people may impeach and convict the President in this realpolitik. By first electing a Hanging Senate--16 out of the 24, the two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate, sitting as Senator Judges, required to convict the President in an Impeachment Trial. It’s the only way to remove the hanging sword of Damocles over the required eighty necks in the Lower House, where not all of them are brave or moral or foolish enough to vote impeachment in the face of certain Doom from the Palace in the event of an acquittal. Next year there will be eight incumbents ready to convict. The Opposition only needs to win 8-4 in 2007 and we shall have the 2/3 in the Senate needed for conviction at trial. When that happens in the Senate, the House will become a house of full of suddenly courageous hammers, and guess who will look like the Hangnail?

MLQ3 believes that the real message to the Opposition ought to be that they better go after the undecideds -- a constituency he estimates from doing his own analysis of several past public opinion surveys on several large issues to be as large as 25% of the electorate. It seems there are a lot of Bong Austeros out there!. MLQ3's suggested strategy of reaching out to, and winning over the "Middle Forces" is far sounder than Doronila's Charge of the Light Brigade assault on Fortress Batasang Pambansa.

But let me also say something about undecideds in a public opinion survey. Getting any double digit percentage of undecideds in a survey is a sure sign that the Question or Issue put to the respondents is either not yet ripe for decision (say because the election or plebiscite is still far away) or because the Question or Issue itself will NEVER be decided in any future objective test like a plebiscite or election. It is a readily observable fact that as Election Day approaches, most election races "tighten" or "firm up" as the undecideds indeed, begin to decide. But "unscientific" questions or issues, those that will never be put to an objective test, will always have a very different behavior in the undecideds. A classic example of this was also mentioned by MLQ3 today -- the SWS survey on whether people doubted the fairness of an upcoming Supreme Court decision. That SWS poll was unscientific and deviously tricky because its question was loaded and ambiguous; its answers were scientifically collected but the interpretation of the data and the resulting headlines were fallaciously arrived at.

The SWS Media Release and the PDI headline that a majority of Filipinos were unsure of or doubted the fairness of the Supreme Court WAS true. But it was equally true that a majority of Filipinos doubted the UNfairness of the Supreme Court, because they were undecided HOW the Court would rule and whether the decision would be fair OR unfair.

Here is what basically happened in that poll. There is a Random Sampling Crystal Bowl like we had on the Explainer. But there are Red, Blue AND White Balls. The Red Balls are those who are sure the Supreme will be fair, the Blue Balls are those who are sure the Supreme Court will be unfair, the white balls are those who are unsure if the Court will be fair OR unfair, they are UNDECIDED either way.

The claim in the SWS Media Release and PDI headlines are decidedly DECEPTIVE because even though the SWS pulled a majority of white balls (undecided), what their Media Release and the PDI headline said was:


Haha! This was a case where SWS and PDI ended up putting words in the mouths of the Undecideds! (previous post on this topic).

Thanks MLQ3--for the opportunity to explain this in such a simple and direct way.

The exact question SWS asked in the poll was:

“Recently the Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP raised their petition to the Supreme Court. Do you have much trust, are unsure, or have little trust that the Supreme Court would make a fair decision as to whether or not to grant the petition of Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP regarding people’s initiative?”

The results were: 13% (much trust); 62% (unsure); 24% (little trust)

This is equivalent to a crystal bowl with 13% red balls, 62% white balls and 24% blue balls.

Now if SWS pulls mostly white balls, it is a true statement to say that a majority of the balls are "NOT RED." But that would be deviously disingenuous, just like the question itself. This is not a proper "binary" question because the creation of a category called "unsure" as part of the question itself is a self-referential flaw. There is no way to deduce why any respondent might answer "unsure". He could be unsure the SC will be fair, or unsure it will be unfair, or unsure what the question means at all, or unsure of how much trust or distrust he has for the Supreme Court! It might even mean a respondent was unsure what Sigaw or Ulap or people's initiative was. We are simply unsure what "unsure" could possibly have meant to the respondents when the survey was taken. But one thing for sure the Media Release and PDI Headline did not properly interpret the statistical data!

The PDI headline was: “62% of Filipinos doubt fairness of SC, says poll” while the SWS Media Release misrepresented its own data with, “62% unsure if SC will rule fairly on people’s initiative.”

This was a really sneaky way of putting words in the mouth of the undecided, because it is literally also true from the data that 62% were unsure if SC would rule UNFAIRLY on people’s initiative. This is an example of a loaded ambiguous question that makes a survey unscientific and propagandistic.