Saturday, October 27, 2007

Either PDI Is Lying Or Four Anonymous Sources Violated Senate Rules

A commentary on the limits of Press Freedom in a democratic society.

Downloadable MP3 from ZTE Senate hearing

The first half of Thursday's Senate hearing on ZTE, Romulo Neri and Executive Privilege, was taken up by above heated discussion of the conundrum created by the Philippine Daily Inquirer's unrepudiated claims that four Senate sources revealed to reporter Juliet Labog Javellana what happened during a September 26 Senate Executive Session. The joint Senate committees went into Executive Session to hear Romulo Neri explain the assertion of executive privilege over his report to President Gloria Arroyo, of a 200 million peso bribe offer from Comelec Chair Ben Abalos.

In a front page article, two editorials and subsequent statements on television by a PDI senior editor, the Manila newspaper resolutely stuck to its claims, based on information allegedly received from those sources, that Senator Joker Arroyo had somehow prevented Romulo Neri from dropping a bombshell in the Senate's executive session, about his conversations with the President about the ZTE National Broadband Network deal.

But, whatever actually transpired in the Executive Session, has now been totally eclipsed by the possibility that the Philippine Daily Inquirer is telling the truth and that if so, there are in fact four persons who violated the strict confidentiality rules of the Senate and cannot be trusted to keep such sessions a state secret. If they are Senators, they could be expelled for such violation. If they are Senate staff members they could be dismissed. And since the only other person known to be in the executive session was Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, there are at least three possible "talkative" Senators or staff members facing heavy sanctions, IF the newspaper is in fact, telling the truth that it had four anonymous sources and is not engaging in its habitual and common practice of the art of the kuryente.

At one dramatic point in the Thursday hearing, Senator Joker Arroyo named each of the Senators present and asked each one directly to confirm or deny PDI's claim that one or more of them were the aforesaid unnamed sources that violated the Senate's rules on executive sessions. Only Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson responded to this challenge by categorically denying that he spoke to any reporter about the session. Everyone else kept quiet, though my DVD recording of the session shows a few of them looking like they had swallowed a canary.

There is now the following inescapable logical conclusion.

Either the Philippine Daily Inquirer is lying and it never had four Senate sources of information about what happened in the executive session, OR it is telling the truth and the Senate actually has a big problem with four rule-breakers whose continued anonymity has effectively compromised the security, confidentiality and hence the essential utility of the executive session as a tool of Congressional investigations in aid of legislation.

On ABSCBN's award winning program, Media in Focus with Cheche Lazaro, first aired a week ago last Thursday, Senior PDI editor John Nery (no relation to Romulo Neri) and the New York Times Int'l Herald Tribune Manila correspondent Carlos H. Conde, both defended the right of the press to use anonymous sources, as enunciated in Republic Act No. 1477, also known as the Press Freedom Act, whose entire substance is contained in the following provision:

Sec. 1. Without prejudice to his liability under the civil and criminal laws, the publisher, editor columnist or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news-report or information appearing in said publication which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter unless the Court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State.
I was also a guest on that show and it seemed to me both John and Caloy were missing an essential point, because the main issue is not the freedom of the press to use anonymous sources as a general rule, but whether in this particular instance the editors of Inquirer abused their discretion to do so and had indeed violated the very law that protects such freedom. Throughout the show, I could not escape the impression that both these gentlemen believe the phrase in the law which reads "cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news report or information" means they have a virtually unlimited right to publish such information if they believe it to be true or the source is considered by them to be reliable. Yet it is manifestly clear from a plain reading of the Press Freedom Law as quoted above, that there are definite limits to that freedom of the Press from being compelled to reveal such anonymous sources. In fact there are two explicit limits mentioned in the law. First the freedom to use anonymous sources is granted "without prejudice" to the publisher's "liability under civil and criminal laws," for example the laws against libel, blackmail, and oral or written defamation, character assasination and the like. Second, if "the Court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State," the Press can indeed be compelled to reveal such sources, under pain of contempt, fine, imprisonment, etc., as befits the violation of this Press Freedom Law.

I think this incident, however it is now resolved, is an important watershed in our understanding of the very concept of Press Freedom and its limitations. Press freedom is limited as much by the Law as it is by moderation in the exercise of its rights and privileges, and ought to be informed by wise discretion. Editors, publishers and ordinary citizen journalists (bloggers) have the obligation to recognize these limitations in their avowedly hot pursuit of the Truth. Such pursuits do not trump any and all rights, privileges and powers of other institutions as important to Democracy as the free Press, like the Senate of the Republic, without whose viable and secure investigations and hearings, the Press would have neither stories nor sources.

Let me say that I stand four square behind the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its normally sagacious and perspicacious investigation of corruption and malfeasance in government, most of time without relying on anonymous sources, which always demands due diligence and discretion to avoid trouble. The abuse of Freedom of the Press however, can be just as dangerous and destructive when such abuse is carried out by the Press itself, as by fascists and authoritarians.

I hope PDI will now have the wisdom and maturity to come clean on this matter, not necessarily by revealing who those four sources are, but by at least admitting that they recognize the real limitations on Press Freedom which are essential to defending democracy and enhancing everybody's freedom, especially when it comes to matters of national and state security. I was aghast on the answer that John Nery gave on Media in Focus to my request for an example of what PDI would not publish in the course of their work because it might endanger state or national security. He said they would never publish the identities of persons in the Witness Protection Program. Maybe he didn't have enough time to think but this hardly reflects a good appreciation of what constitutes national or state security, since this example clearly refers to the security of a certain class of individuals, and not necessarily the security of the state.

Many individuals and institutions, including me, are keenly interested in discovering the truth about ZTE and what Romulo Neri knows about it. I also strongly dislike the manner in which Joker Arroyo seems to be trying to keep the Truth from coming out. But what PDI did has not helped, it has only hindered the Senate's investigation by throwing into that rambunction bunch four apples of doubt and discord.

John Marzan of Philippine Politics '04 reviews what happened to the New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the United States when she refused to reveal an anonymous source, who turned out to be Karl Rove.

Senate Rule XLVII on Executive Session
Senate Rules of Procedure on Executive Session and Public Hearing
Lovers Quarrel: Looks Who's After Joker Arroyo Now
Joker Spars With Philippine Daily Innuendo
Reporter's Omerta and the Art of the Kuryente
Dissing the Senate
Spying on Senate Session on Presidential Executive Privilege Was A Violation of National Security
PDI Leak Has Destroyed Senate Executive Session as a Tool of Congressional Investigations in Aid of Legislation
King Solomon Just Cut The Baby In Half
Philippine Commentaries on Executive Privilege
Philippine Commentaries on the Public's Right to Know


MLQ3 said...

the only problem is a simple one. joker knows the president has enough votes in the senate, so that the senate can't muster enough votes to authorize making what actually transpired public. he's playing poker knowing no one can call his bluff, because the president stacked the deck.

under the rules the senate always has the option to hold an executive session and then change its mind and make what transpired public, but the rules assumes a senate which would value letting the chips fall where they may.

Amadeo said...

“..Senior PDI editor John Nery (no relation to Romulo Neri)..”

First a little trivia, there is a remote possibility that they may be related. Oral accounts have it that the Nerys of Camiguin changed the spelling of their original names, Neri, to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Neris, which had then grown to great numbers. John’s parents stayed in Cagayan de Oro for a long time. Romy Neri’s family is closely related to the family of the late Maning Pelaez, whose mother was a Neri who originally came from Bohol and migrated to Misamis Oriental.

“..under the rules the senate always has the option to hold an executive session and then change its mind and make what transpired public..”

I know squat about Senate rules and Executive Sessions in the Senate as defined and practiced in the old homeland. So what is the protection and assurance of any witness to any executive session that his testimony will not be publicly divulged? Especially under the fiat that the senate body changed its mind, without first taking recource to judgment of third impartial parties like the judiciary? Is testimony in executive session under oath?

viking said...


The committee has in fact agreed to lift the 'veil of confidentiality' in regard to that executive session, although no stories have been written yet on the notes which were supposed to have been released.

This means Joker is confident that the PDI is lying.

I don't think there was anything remotely related to national security in that session.

I'm less concerned about the abuses of the press than its sloppiness in reporting news and the lack of logic and circumspection in opinion-making.

AdB said...

Read very carefully what you wrote Dean and I agree.

viking said...


What happened to the MBW site? It was mysteriously replaced by minority loans... in my rss reader.

DJB Rizalist said...

this was the main point i presented in the show, which is not even addressed here: the Senate itself has as great if not a greater need than the press for information, for example from whistleblowers like Nery or Joey de venecia. Now if you were such a whistleblower, how much confidence do you now have that the executive session you blow your whistle in won't end up in the front page of the inquirer.

remember that the press jealously guards its right to keep sources of information confidential because without it, their info sources would dry.

but that is precisely what juliet and pdi have just destroyed: the willingness of people to testify before the senate with any kind of assurance that they won't get revealed by some enterprising pursuer of the truth!

DJB Rizalist said...

I don't agree that gma has the numbers to sustain a vote against nery. in fact it is obvious from the smugness of the opposition at thursday's hearing that THEY have the numbers to sanction nery. it is joker who has no numbers to hold juliet and pdi in contempt much less to expel the law breaking senators.

don't you see? the shoe is now on the other foot. but it is the security of the senate itself that is now in jeopardy.

DJB Rizalist said...

another important and crucial point. it doesn't matter what they were talking about in the executive session. the rule on confidentiality doesn't depend on the discussion being about national security at all. read the rules, you will see that is only one reason for confidentiality. this is like the antiwiretapping situation. the need for security and secrecy of the executive session is actually content neutral! it is the need for a secure executive session itself that the rule of secrecy is imposed. without that the executive session is useless for all purposes, whether national security or not.

moreover it is not for us, the pdi, the public or anybody else but the senate to decide whether the discussed topics is about national security or not.

i hope this is crystal clear: whether or not they discuss national security matters, the secrecy and confidentiality of the senate executive session may not be violated without destroying its usefulness.

whether or not the matter being discussed is related to national security is only important if the senate decides it will not accept the claim of executive privilege.

this is a key distinction and i encourage you to keep asking questions until you are clear on my answer. thanks

DJB Rizalist said...

mlq3, the senate does have the discretion to reveal what transpired in an executive session, but NOT whether it WAS an executive session or not. It cannot decide to hold an executive session, then decide later that it was not an executive session. thus if someone reveals what happened in an executive session BEFORE the senate itself decides to reveal what happened, then the rule on secrecy and confidentiality will have already been broken and the member subject of expulsion. but i doubt there are now 2/3 of the members of the senate ready to expel anybody. the opposition has the numbers now. it is a Hanging Senate as I said, but not for each other.

i am mad that these tattle tellers don't see that and they are squandering a golden opportunity to re-establish the senate as a check and balance to the President and that rogue Surpeme Court.

DJB Rizalist said...

adb, i knew you would get these points right away. thanks.

viking said...


1. you missed my first point. the members have in fact agreed to make the proceedings of that session public. this was joker's way of proving his point. I wonder why this wasn't even a headline.
2. i watched cheche's program. it is the leakers who should be punished, not the reporter who felt duty-bound to report the information.
3. the subject of the proceedings is inextricably linked to the need for an executive session in the first place. otherwise, for quite arbitrary reasons, resource persons and legislators might invoke the need for executive sessions to the detriment of our right to know.
4. i'm sure such leaks have transpired in the U.S. congress, I just don't know how they deal with such violations.

DJB Rizalist said...

that is correct, they have agreed to make the proceedings public now, but joker and enrile insist it WAS an executive session and that fact cannot be changed post facto. therefore joker is proving also that the accusations against him are false, for example that he was the one who allegedly brought andaya in. it was ping who said that when he confirmed that joker did not do so.

but the violation of the executive session's rules cannot be erased by this decision to now reveal what transpired. all that has happened is that all the senators have in effect denied that there were any sources at all (since that could result in their expulsion).

In effect, the PDI lied! that is the categorical choice that the senate is making, and in my opinion it should make that choice if the executive sessions are to have any credibility in the future. And of course, it has now been firmly established that there is a limit to press freedom: it may not publish information that is illegally acquired, or which violates the security of the state's main branch called the senate.

let me say also that "national security" is not the same as "security of the state". The former is the highest national interest because it involves the security of the nation, ie. the people AND the government. Security of the state refers to the security of the govt and its main branches.

Thus the Sotto Law or Press Freedom Act refers to a "lower" priority item--security of the state (and of course its branches)--and not national security per se.

The Press has to recognize this if it expects its own rights and privileges to be respected.

viking said...


I raised the first point because it was not appreciated in your original post. I still wonder why this wasn't a major story. The question you pose is already answered.

You raise a fine and substantive point that should eventually reach the courts, especially section 1's without prejudice to ... Editors have that threat over their heads already so their decisions, I suppose, already consider that.

Have to go to bed.

DJB Rizalist said...

the fact that the senators have virtually decided to reveal the entire transcript record of the executive session has not made the headline because it will certainly show that PDI made a false report. simple as that.

regarding the other point you make that "the subject of the proceedings is inextricably linked to the need for an executive session in the first place. otherwise, for quite arbitrary reasons, resource persons and legislators might invoke the need for executive sessions to the detriment of our right to know."

remember that a motion for executive session by a senator must be duly seconded and only if there is no objection may it be held, otherwise they would have to vote. thus no single senator can force an executive session "to the detriment of our right to know"!

much less can a resource person force an executive session, unless he or she invokes national security privileges, like executive priv or commander in chief privilege.

in which case we have the present situation where the senate will decide for itself in executive session whether there is valid or acceptable grounds for the assertion.

But now, I bet you, executive officials will even question the validity and security of the executive sessions because the PDI has shown it is easily breached.

that is why I claim they have seriously damaged the institution and freedom of the press.

John Nery claims they are protecting press freedom by using it. I say abusing it makes him sadly, sadly mistaken about that.

i think the best national interest is served, including freedom of the press, for them to admit it was all just one big fat lie, or they may use the polite term in journalistic circles like theirs: KURYENTE

stuart-santiago said...

hey, djb, saw that anc show where you guested with nery and conde. i agree with your arguments re the limits of press freedom. the media have no business snooping into executive sessions and the like. and yes, they should not hide behind the skirts (robes?) of the supreme court.

DJB Rizalist said...

Heard yesterday that Media in Focus with Cheche Lazaro won a Catholic Mass Media award for best talk show. so it was a real honor and privilege to have been invited to guest on the show with those Big Boys of the main stream media. she's a wonderful talk show host, really top rank si Ms. Lazaro.

MLQ3 said...

i'm not talking about voting to compel neri to testify, of course they have the votes for that because it's not only the popular, but right thing to do.

i mean having enough votes to authorize the senators to reveal, in part or in whole, whether the allegations about joker acting as a palace double agent to subvert the purpose the of executive session were true or not. there, i think the palace has enough votes to make sure calling joker's bluff will never be possible.

MLQ3 said...

djb i don't know why you're blind to the fact that enrile revealed much more, in public, about what transpired in that executive session, and that the real question here is whether joker can get away with using official secrecy as a cloak to his betrayal of the senate.

DJB Rizalist said...

the audio recording of the session that is posted clearly has joker and enrile both agreeing that the transcript of the executive session and the public hearing that preceeded it is the "best or first evidence" (JPE's term) of what transpired, and that they were willing to have it made public. they know that the opposition also has the votes to do that. But it is an indication of the truthfulness of the claim they are making that Joker did nothing of the sort suggested by the PDI's report that they are not afraid of the transcript. They want the truth out not hidden, they just don't want falsehoods to be printed out as news stories based on four sources who obviously broke the rules, IF pdi is not lying.

besides i don't see how one senator like joker could have outvoted or forced his colleagues to do something they did not want to do. for example that joker brought andaya in and that this scared neri. even ping said this was not true.

what did enrile reveal in public? after they suspended for one minute they all decided to handle the whole brouhaha in caucus.

BTW, there is a big difference between the Senators discussing in a public hearing last thursday what may or may not have happened, and anonymous sources being quoted by pdi without anyone being able to check whether some, all or none of the report was true. di ba?

besides, this discussion last thursday would not have even been necessary if pdi had scrupulously obeyed the Press Freedom Law and had, with wise discretion decided not to give lawbreakers an open mike with hoods over their head.

That is the illegitimate cloak of unnamed sources that betrayed the senate.

As I said, I also want the truth out, but not at the expense of destroying the integrity of the senate executive session.

DJB Rizalist said...

Folks, take a look again at the title of this post:

Either PDI is lying or four anonymous sources violated the Senate rules.

This is not one of my usual opinionated titles.

It is a categorical statement of simple logic, not opinion, based purely on publicly known facts:

(1) PDI claims it had four sources that revealed to it certain bits of information about what happened in an Executive Session of the Senate. This claim is either true or false.

(2) It is a violation of the rules of the Senate, punishable by expulsion, to reveal ANY bit of information about what happened in an executive session unless the Senate has already given the permission to do so.

It was a pitiable and disdainful sight for some of the Senators, notably Mar Roxas, Alan Peter Cayetano, Kiko Pangilinan and Nene Pimentel to try and fudge things around by claiming that maybe they did not really hold an executive session.

Yet, the PDI never used this lame post-rationalization itself, as it was almost boastful about having once more "scooped" other newspapers by getting reports from spies wearing the hood of press freedom. Moreover, Enrile and Joker challenged them to hear the witness of the transcripts, which presumably cannot lie. No takers. Let's go into caucus, pretty please, the rationalizers whimpered.

Thus, even its allies in the Senate cannot save the PDI from the damning obloquy inherent in the title syllogism.

The big question is, will PDI have the guts and palabra de honor either not to out them, or to out themselves?

MLQ3 said...

dean, you are so fixated on your pont you miss the other possibility.

four sources leaked, obviously enough, otherwise there was no story.

but the four sources may have leaked not the entire truth, only part of the truth, or something partly true and partly false, or something entirely false.

joker's behavior shows what was leaked strongly hinted at the truth, though clever lawyer that he is, he sees his salvation in what was leaked as not being precisely what transpired. not much of a defense but all that matters for his purposes.

he knows little room for doubt is left that he's nothing more than a palace bully boy, except he's more aggressive than those who'd only leak but not take the consequences for their leaking to the papers -but then, why should they do the bully boy a favor?

viking said...

I did not quite get it correctly that the joint committees had already made the decision. I was just told by legal staff of Kiko Pangilinan that upon Pimentel's motion, the matter is to be decided in a caucus of the whole (as provided in the rules)which has yet to be scheduled. Was Joker bluffing? Why would he? He would inevitable be exposed if he were, wouldn't he? Therefore, unlikely.

I too am very disappointed with the stance of Joker. But this is a matter distinct from the veracity of the allegations contained in the Inquirer story.

But what of the argument that as nothing was revealed, the revelation of that fact did not constitute a violation?

But DJB, I must say that if I were in Javellana and the editors' position, I would have had the story published. As you yourself admit, this is a battle between two institutions vetting the situation and making their best response to serve the greater public interest. This is where I disagree with you. If the story were true, the Inquirer can very well make its case in the courts. That is also a matter distinct from the culpability of the leakers.

MLQ3 said...

a bluff is a calculated risk. it buys time, and muddles the issue. someone who makes a bluff is banking on a 50% chance the bluff won't be called, and this is a better risk to take than not making the bluff in the first place.

DJB Rizalist said...

you said, "But what of the argument that as nothing was revealed, the revelation of that fact did not constitute a violation?"

suppose i wiretap your cell phone, and tell people that you never actually make any voice calls or text messages so there is nothing to reveal about you or your telecommunications habits.

Have I not violated RA4200 nonetheless??

Regarding the truth of the story, to this day PDI claims it IS telling the truth, at least about the fact that it had sources upon which it based its news report. If they ARE telling the truth then of course four sources violated the senate rule on secrecy of executive sessions. That is entirely equivalent to the logic of my post's title, isn't it? so at least you agree with my basic position: either PDI is lying or it is telling the truth, in which case four sources have violated the rules.

Look, if getting at the truth has no limits as to method and manner of getting it, why don't we just torture every single public official we suspect of malfeasance until they confess or die?

Where would you draw the line then, if it is not at the line drawn by the Press Freedom Act itself.

let me be perfectly clear here, the sources are guilty of breaking the rule of absolute confidentiality of the executive session without prior senate approval, while the inquirer merely aided and abetted them in the commission of their crime, by giving them anonymity as well as an open mike.

But PDI is also guilty of unethical conduct that could be punishable under the Press Freedom Act, which says they have no immunity from being compelled to reveal sources if the security of the state demands it, in this case the security of the executive sessions of the senate. That however depends on whether the senate will even be able to pursue the matter. As I said, I think the opposition has the numbers and they will also play the game of numbers and allow the dishonoring of their own rules. But that is just my opinion form listening to them and reading their body language. Just watch, PDI will get away scot free because if there are four sources, they will go into an immoral pact with the devil of journalism and practice OMERTA.

DJB Rizalist said...

MLQ3, you are quite right, the information PDI got could be totally or partially correct. Further, there is no way for the public to determine whether the news report carried all or some or none of this indeterminately true or false information.

That is precisely the art of the kuryente! Its all misdirection based on anonymity.

Oh so now joker is the bully boy. And Goyiuto is a cockroach? hehe!

MLQ3 said...

two words, dean. deep throat. two additional words. pentagon papers.

and clever lawyering by a bully boy is not and should never be confused with the security of the state.

DJB Rizalist said...

Let me be crystal clear here. When I say "Either PDI is lying..." what I am referring to is the possibility that PDI is lying about having sources of information, not about what they were told or what they reported they were told.

perhaps it would sound better to some if I put it like this:

If PDI is telling the truth, then there are four violators of the senate rules--but this is an entirely equivalent syllogistic conclusion.

DJB Rizalist said...

Seven words, mlq3, the end does not justify the means.

MLQ3 said...

when was the last time a paper had four sources for a story, anonymous or not? kuryente is when you run with a story based on a single source that may be trying to play you. vetting it with another is the minimum. quadruple checking is what gives the paper the guts to stick its neck out.

whether the paper got taken for a ride by a conspiracy is another matter. and joker knows no one will call his bluff, so he gets to take down the pdi and salvage whatever's left of his reputation.

MLQ3 said...

precisely my point, dean. where you and i differ is, which is the end to which objectionable means have been used? you object to what you call a betrayal of the rules. i point to joker's betrayal of the rules. you believe the rules have been flouted for an unjustifiable purpose; i believe joker subverted the rules thinking they'd be so sacrosanct as to permanently cover up what he did.

you are after the whistleblower while exonerating the real murderer.

DJB Rizalist said...

john nery said that they only resort to this sort of "means" when there is no other way to get at the truth.

But don't you see, the opposition has the upper hand. they've even gone to the supreme court to question the whole executive privilege thing.

You even admit they have the votes to force such a showdown. That is the way we should get at the truth, by the due processes of the law.

It would be different i suppose if the senate were so obviously supine to the palace and the claim that no other means of getting at the truth were available. That is not true here.

And you've never explained how joker could possibly bully the entire senate. Even in public sessions he knows he can be outvoted.

if you look at all the troubles we've had these past six years since edsa dos, anyway, it's all about going around the Constitution and the rule of law.

so what if we "get at the truth" this time around if it means the senate executive sessions are tainted and busted.

On the show with cheche john said they would never out people in the witness protection program. well this certainly ensures that no will even bother to say anything at executive sessions because they can always claim that anything they say there could end up on the front page of PDI the next day.

Executive sessions are a kind of witness protection program, which is why "whistleblower privilege" is one of the valid grounds for going into executive session.

Well PDI saw to it that no whistleblower will ever go to the senate. They might go to PDI from now on, but one of these days even pdi may need the senate, and it just won't be there for them coz goyiuto is the real bull-y.

MLQ3 said...

dean, no. the senate has the votes to compel neri to talk, because it's no guarantee he will talk, so it's a risk even administration senators (whether the obvious ones or secret ones) can take. a calculated risk.

but if the senate were to vote to make public what transpired in the executive session, it would be game over for the administration senators. that they can't afford to do. and they know they can block it which is why they can bluff. elementary politics.

and obviously the senate, as the last political institution even putting up a semblance of a fight, takes the lead in the fight but that doesn't mean we can or should assume they are in the fight whole-heartedly, as shown first by the deal to keep villar senate president and then by cayetano allowing things to deflate by going on vacation a week early, which is why the tactic of compelling neri to talk is still being discussed as a possibility, instead of the inevitability it should have become in early october.

the senate's rules can't trump the public's right to know, particularly when the right to know can only be tempered in very few and exceptional cases. you are arguing the senate rules as the end all and be all when they are and should always be subordinated to the purposes for which government exists.

how can joker bully the entire senate? precisely the way his dear leader the president has bullied the entire country by knowing there will be those screaming rule of law when the law is obviously and clearly being used to hide a crime.

i'm glad you use the witness protection program angle because this is the analogy i use myself. what transpired was, the senate wanted to shield neri but before neri could be accorded the benefits of the shield, joker's said to have made it possible for the shield to be as useful as a colander by getting a member of the cabinet to sit in, when he had no right to do so.

joker can bully his peers because they didn't even prevent it happening, and by the time it all sank in, it was too late, the senate had been foiled, neri was off the hook, the palace got what it wanted and knew it had the votes to keep things muddled.

no one will ever trust an executive session if senators use it as a means to bring in the muscle to intimidate witnesses and the senate won't even do diddly squat to accord their witnesses a chance to freely testify.

that is the true import of what took place, if witnesses will be confronted by the enforcers of the very people they're supposed to give damaging testimony against, and then the rules will be used to permanently shield the intimidators, then of course the executive session will be useless henceforth.

and your arguments just make it more likely that joker made possible the destruction of the very means you so dearly wish will be sacrosanct.

DJB Rizalist said...

just curious, so i will ask you the questions i asked john on the show: where do you think the limits of press freedom lie? And what is your understanding of "security of the state" as used in the Press Freedom Law. An example of when you think the Press ought to be prosecuted under that law (RA 1477) might be illuminating. Also, I stated that the law is fine and needs no amendment. do you agree with that?

MLQ3 said...

the limits of press freedom are the following:

first, limited by the right of aggrieved parties to sue for libel, and the caution this entails on the part of the media, knowing they can be haled to court.

second, elementary rules such as making it clear what is hearsay and what is not, and publishing anonymous accounts only if there is a larger public interest served, and basic journalistic prudence observed (cross-checking, etc.)

there are times when the interest of the state and of society compels limitations on information, whether through censorship or self-policing, for example during the coups, media refrained from broadcasting government troop movements, etc. in times of war government can censor the mail and the papers.

when the media may place individual lives in danger or be unwittingly, a party to terrorism, etc., it should exercise restraint or be restrained, but the authorities must do this with great caution.

my interpretation of the press freedom law is specifically in light of the above: in times of war or unrest, the press cannot aid and abet the enemy; and if it does, government has the right to compel media to toe the line.

the institutional integrity of the organs of government are adequately protected by libel laws in all other cases. but media, too, as part of society and with its ultimate objective of loyalty to freedom of information, must take the risk when the ultimate principles of government stand to be subverted by government itself or its officials. this is why media can and should leak classified material if it is verified and shows that government is actually breaking the law, has not been honest and transparent with the public in a manner otherwise justifiable (if media knows reporting afp movements will get soldiers killed, it cannot broadcast the movements; if it knows a classified report provides proof soldiers have cardboard instead of kevlar vests, it must expose it).

media is always in the same position ordinary citizens are, particularly when the law becomes a tool to cover up injustice. media must publish and be damned, the same way the citizenry from time to time must embark on civil disobedience when the law strays far from the principles the law's supposed to uphold.

so if editors and reporters have to go to jail to please joker, so be it. it ensures the ultimate defeat of the jokers of this world.

the law itself did not protect media during martial law, it did not protect the state from its own follies, but in terms of its objectives it remains a sound law. so no, i don't think it needs amendment, particularly upon the instigation of someone like joker. what should be revisited are the rules surrounding executive sessions, they should be made immune from joker-style subversion from within.

DJB Rizalist said...

Do you distinguish between "security of the state" and "national security" at all since all the examples you give seem to indicate you would want to change the phrase in RA1477 from the former to the latter?

And if media is "always" in the same position that ordinary citizens are, why is it called the Press Freedom Law? Are ordinary citizens covered by the law? Is journalism the same as ordinary free speech? Are John Nery's editorials the same as Jimmy Licauco's new age fairy tales or my barber's opinion-making?

MLQ3 said...

trace the law, dean. the original law was written before national security doctrine had even been dreamed up under truman. and the amendments came too soon before national security as a concept could sink in. garcia established the national security council, if im not mistaken, even after the amendment to the sotto law.

my belief is that precisely, the law envisions security of the state in the framework of the generation that drafted the law, and they did not subscribe yet to then novel notions of national security, only state security in terms of war powers, etc.

press freedom is part of the broader freedom of expression and information, is it not? it's just as the only profession dedicated to information outside of official circles, the press gets guarantees as part of the broader guarantees for the population. the idea being that when you shut down the presses, the public's ability to exercise its inherent rights is severely curtailed, since that would leave government with an unconscionable control and veto power over public opinion.

that is the broad umbrella of guarantees, and part of the cornerstone of the built-in inherent mistrust of all authority and thus, the need to firmly circumscribe government's powers.

you know that in the way of all governments, neri would be the first target of a government hell bent on mischief, that to silence neri would then be the start of accomplishing the silencing of your barber, and that precisely licauco can spout his claptrap because in general, government isn't supposed to weigh in and silence him on the basis of a value judgment licauco's readers, and not our officials, should be making.

MLQ3 said...

dean, i think you can easily determine the timeline here.

the sotto law was passed when national security had just been thought up in the usa.

national security as a doctrine was only adopted here during garcia's administration, when he established the national security council. i can;t find the official gazette right now but i know osmena was one of its first members, and don sergio died in 1961, my recollection is, the nsc was established in 1959-60.

which means both in the original law and its amendment, the sotto law had in mind a definition of state security that predates the concept of national security as formulated during the truman administration and which only gained currency in allied governments a few years later; in our case, a full decade after truman.

as someone who dislikes the national security doctrine and apparatus set up by the americans, i'm quite happy to stick to older definitions of state security.

MLQ3 said...

here you go,

so don sergio was appointed shortly before his death. i remember i had to look it up as i was still working for the president when that announcement was made re: nsc.


the law was passed in 1946 (national security law was passed in the usa in 1947) and amended in 1956, while national security as a new definition replacing more traditional notions of state security dates to 1961 in our country.

DJB Rizalist said...

Our points of view are not as different as the above discussion might suggest.

Some points of disagreement:

First, I don't think that the "institutional integrity of the organs of government are adequately protected by libel laws in all other cases" not involving war or unrest. Which is why libel falls in the "without prejudice to" clause of ra1477, while the "unless" clause safeguards the "security of the state" which I identify as what you call institutional integrity of the organs of govt.

Thus I also would not equate security of the senate with the pleasure of Joker Arroyo, nor do I give a hoot about the displeasure or incarceration of the Inquirer, which would only increase its circulation anyway.

My primary concern is truly the security of the Senate which I believe has been violated.

That concern springs from my considered diagnosis that all or most of our problems spring from a particular dysfunction in which checks and balances among the organs of the state have been disrupted by various recent events. All the imaginable evils that can arise in a democratic state I believe ought to be addressable within the compass of our constitutional system, much as most physical diseases can be held at bay if our bodily organs are in good working order. But if even one of the major organs of the body is diseased, or immuno compromised such that the action of other organs are not balanced and checked due to such deficiency, then all manner of illnesses will eventually kill the body, or by analogy the body politic.

If you look at the Arroyo epoch (it is getting THAT long in the tooth) it has been a series of one scandal, transgression, corruption, high crime and misdemeanor after another, with no end in sight or countervailing power available to correct the virulent attacks on the integrity and trustworthiness of the entire government.

I guess I am being very Oriental for a change, in believing that the "CHI" must be balanced, while you and PDI are being very Western in wanting to lance every symptomatic boil and carbuncle of corruption you see, and never mind what might be damaged in the underlying structural constitution as a result.

I think you are utilitarians philosophically, whereas, I am a contractarian.

You assume that if freedom of information is maximized and people always know the truth, that they can and will do something about it. I have less faith in the people per se than you do, and place my hope in the system of laws and contracts that guarantees fairness and consistency no matter what how good or evil the people who are part of the system happen to be.

My faith and hope are in the proven design of the Machine we have all agreed to maintain, not in the moral qualities of the Men and Women who happen to tenant and run its various components.

Yak said...

djb & mlq3
You guys are talking in parallel lines. dean's phrase, "I think you are utilitarians philosophically, whereas, I am a contractarian" pretty much sums up the idea that both of you won't see eye to eye.

There's a downtrend in the integrity and credibility of democratic institutions in the philippines. mlq3: when do you think is the right time to strengthen the system rather than get a scoop to get ahead? more than your arguments, i do understand that you are employed by the inquirer.

Whether the leak is as tiny as a pandaka pygmaea or as huge as a rhincodon typus (which are both found in the philippines btw), it is still a leak and constitutes a rule was broken. now, if we would have the habit of breaking rules then it's better to just abolish all the rules and let "searching for the truth reign." (whatever truth the press people are looking for - is it truth or scoop?)

DJB Rizalist said...

A warm welcome to Philippine Commentary, Yak!

Apropos to this topic of our conversations, I heard a rumor 2 weeks ago that chief justice reynato puno wants to become President. Laughed it off, though I've always suspected he wants a post at the ICJ or some such Court in Geneva or Europe. Then today, the leftist KME, a nationalistic "economics" group, and three Catholic Bishops (tobias, iniguez labayen) are calling for the resignation of top 4 officials to be replaced by a "caretaker government" headed by none other than CJ Puno!

They wont just lance boils of corruption, they want a head, heart, lung and stomach transplant with no anaesthesia. What in the world must they be putting in them thar communion wafers?? lysergic acid diethylamide?

MLQ3 said...

i do think there are many more scoops that are passed over, rather than scoops seized upon and used.

djb and i also disagree fundamentally in that my personal attitude to edsa dos was that it ought to have resulted in a revolutionary government, as the constitution stopped working. it's been putting the toothpaste back in the tube ever since, with messy results. yet at the same time obviously most people preferred trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

the reason i believe this is that i do believe in people power but i do believe that it is the nuclear option, in effect, when you use it it means the system has to be reset.

my loyalty to the pdi is not blind in this case, i think any paper in a similar situation ought to have done a similar thing. institutionally the paper has spoken up for keeping things within the system and resisting resetting the clock.

i can't think of a circumstance where media, presented with information of a similar nature, ought to keep the information under its hat. precisely, exposing the information helps the cause of checks and balance because checks and balances involves more than the legislative, executive and judiciary, it involves the three interacting with their very reason for being, which is the public.

in this case the inquirer was absolutely right even though there have been cases where it's editorial judgment has been flawed.

viking said...

On the science of bluffing,

The bluffer must have an expectation of the bluff not being called at 51%. In the case of Joker, he has explicitly indicated that he would match all raises. That can only mean he is cocksure and is prepared for the consequences. If the bluffees back off or down or out, whose fault would that be?


On the analogy between wiretapping and listening to leakers, there is a fine distinction and your analogy is a bit of a stretch.

On MLQ's four words and your five.

In the case of Watergate, it's actually four: deep throat and watergate tapes. In the first two, the the deputy fbi director and woodward and bernstein violated laws and were prepared for the consequences. Placed in either position, I would have done the same thing.

In regard to Watergate, the Supreme Court ordered that the tapes be published. But if before then, someone had furnished me illegally obtained copies, I would have published them just the same.

The Pentagon prosecuted both Ellsberg and the NYT and you know how they were vindicated after breaking the received wisdom on the rules. Would you have taken the side of the Pentagon?

There are extraordinary circumstances in history when the rules cry out to be broken, for otherwise there would never be any radical changes. Otherwise there might even be no US of A.

I generally follow rules but I've broken a few in what I thought were circumstances described above. ( I plead the right against self-incrimination so please don't ask me for a list). But had I been caught, I would have been prepared for the consequences.

If the rule breakers were petulant and impatient in the case of the executive session, history will be the judge. There is a role for both utilitarians and contractarians, and as I've said, I respect your adamant and original perspective.

None of the above excuses sloppy reporting, gross partisanship and illogical opinion-making.

Take this for example: "Palace fixes 190 congressmen." A head so terribly partisan it breaks more cannons than I have white hair, and I have exactly three.

disclosure: I organized the PDI Visayas bureau in 1986-1988 and I naturally have sympathies for the paper. However, its standards and performance leave much to be desired.

MLQ3 said...

zak, the story is the story, and if you have enough stories, the truth will come out, or as close an approximation of it as is humanly possible.

the alternative is simply too frightening to concentrate: trusting in a ministry of truth or a ministry of propaganda.

if there are no rats, the ferrets won't have anything to dig out.

viking said...

sorry, your seven and not five.but there should be eight:

The end does not always justify the means.

Here's a construct with more. We will not torture because the means must somehow reflect the desirability of the ends.

Yak said...

Thank you for the warm welcome.

Power and ambition corrupts absolutely! although i have heard of this (kilusang makabansang ekonomiya), I don't think they even have the warm bodies to fill a gymnasium for crying out loud. Would you know who are the people behind this group?

Although i am a catholic, with due respect to the three "overzealous bishops", maybe they should do a father ed and let's see if people would vote for them. They have become more of politicians than clergymen. It makes me think, how's the state of their own dioceses? How about cleaning their own backyards first?

People want to make the democratic institutions all the more be buried in deep rut. They want the president out. They want the vice president out. They want the senate president out. They want the speaker of the house. What joke is this?

Yak said...

The moment GMA gave Erap his "walking papers," I realized that it might be the last opportunity for GMA to have regained herself.

It's better for her to just step down because what happened was not a "national reconciliation," what happened was "political accommodation."

manuelbuencamino said...


I'm sure your dvd can verify this exciting tidbit.

The only senator who revealed in public what happened in the executive session is Joan Ponce Enrile.

Sitting beside Joker at the last ZTE hearing and eager to prove the PDI story was false he said something like - I know you didn't say anything to discourage Neri from testifying. I was sitting right beside you at that executive session.

So before we gang up on PDI and go on this impossible quest of getting them to reveal their sources and getting their sources to admit they were indeed sources, maybe we should urge Joker to ask for the expulsion of Enrile from the Senate for revealing what transpired during the executive session. Moral consistency ika mo nga.

viking said...


You were there but you missed Pimentel's statement:

There are many ways to communicate, verbal and non-verbal, and Joker used neither to influence Neri. You were in the thick of it, and often those who watch TV get a more detailed view.

manuelbuencamino said...


I didn't miss Nene;s cooment. I was standing behind him, Enrile, and Joker.

All he said was there are many ways to communicate, verbal and non verbal. I didn't hear him say whether Joker used either one, one way or the other.

My point is Enrile revealed a part of what happened. You saw it on TV. I saw it live. I heard the TV camera men and members of the gallery murmur when Enrile made the revelation.

I also saw the reaction of some senators. One of them muttered that what Enrile did was precisely what they were trying to avoid happening that's why they wanted the whole issue discussed in caucus.

And now, if I remember the sequence of events correctly, Nene's remark came after joker called the roll on who heard him say anything to disourage Neri. And Nene's remark was made to make clear that there are other ways to make communicate.

Review your tapes of the hearing,if yiu have any. Or get a copy of the Senate transcripts.

By the way, the difference between what you see on TV and what you see when you are in the thick of it is what you see is determined by the TV camera crew. You only get to see what the camera focuses on. That's an editorialized view. You miss the whole show. You don't get the atmosphere. You don't get the off camera reactions. It's like watching your favorite sport on TV instead of watching it live. Next hearing is in November. Experience it yourself if you don't want to tale my word for it.

DevilsAdvc8 said...

djb, jz read 1984 by George Orwell to understand mlq3's ministry of truth or a ministry of propaganda aversion.

DJB Rizalist said...

the analogy to what happened in the garci wiretapping is quite substantial. And utilitarians, for lack of a better word, are doing exactly the same thing they did in that case. when you now start attacking enrile for discussing, unavoidably what did happen, at least tangentially, it's just like criticising the pcij and the bloggers for discussing the garci tapes AFTER they had already been revealed. yet, the seminal crime, the original sin was the wiretapping itself and the ones who created the garci tapes to begin with. PDI in this case is the ISAFP, and the four sources are the agents like mig21. The situation today is like before Doble gave tapes to the now missing NBI guy. PDI and its "sources" in effect spied on the executive session.

My point is the same: the wiretapping! the wiretapping!

i would like to express a bit of amazement however at the analogies to deep throat and the pentagon papers.

there are simply other ways that this could've and should've been handled.

if i were the pdi editor, i would NOT have published labog's story, but knowing what had happened i would have continued to do dogged journalistic work and pursue the leads, do interviews of joker without letting on i knew what happened, and find some other way to make the truth come out.

the problem we have here is that unlike the press, the senate is a devastated institution. by being "fundamentalist" about the its rights and privileges as the press, they have lost sight of their larger duty to the nation, which is to help its other institutions grow and become strong. Or if they eschew this as not their role, they should at least practice moderation and refrain from utterly destructive acts like this one, while pleading that they are only doing their job.

now that the senate, through joker and enrile, want to exercise the rights and privileges of that institution we get all sorts of ORWELLIAN analogies that just simply miss the point.

A crime was committed truly by the sources, whilst the inquirer was an accomplish. PDI "witnessed" this crime, but instead of doing its duty, it abetted the crime and assisted in its fulfillment by providing the open mike for hooded traitors to the senate. they provided the anonymity required to defame a colleague they perhaps could not handle, and now mlq3 calls joker a bully.

who is the bully but pdi and its sources?

i know we are flying off into the stratosphere with analogies and philosophies, but if you want to get down to nitty gritties, focus on the question of whether pdi did or did not in fact violate its own code of ethics.

i maintain there were wiser and in the long run more effective ways of getting the truth to come out. there was no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. two wrongs don't make a right.

the "wiretapping"! the "wiretapping!"

DJB Rizalist said...

btw, please leave "victimology" at the door. to sugges that this is in any way shape or form a call for the pdi to reveal its sources by force is simply ridiculous. like i said, i don't give a hoot about pdi and its reporter. this acting like they might have their precious press freedom taken away from them is utter victimological bull. if the senate made that mistake, they would only be helping the paper sell more load, both the telecom kind and their own load of licauco and entertainment tsismis crap.

now of course it becomes a battle of wills and egos and amor propio. the paper has thrown an apple of discord, four apples in fact, into the senate ranks. it's their habitual mischieviousness, kuryente to the max, which they call "press freedom". i call it infantilism.

manuelbuencamino said...


Just a couple of points re:

"the analogy to what happened in the garci wiretapping is quite substantial. And utilitarians, for lack of a better word, are doing exactly the same thing they did in that case. when you now start attacking enrile for discussing, unavoidably what did happen, at least tangentially, it's just like criticising the pcij and the bloggers for discussing the garci tapes AFTER they had already been revealed. yet, the seminal crime, the original sin was the wiretapping itself and the ones who created the garci tapes to begin with. PDI in this case is the ISAFP, and the four sources are the agents like mig21. "

1. It has yet to be established whether or not Labog's story is true as she claims it is or false as Joker claims it is.

So we don't know whether four senators leaked events that occured in an executive session.

2. Only one or more of the alleged leakers can corroborate Labog's claim re her source.

3. The only senator we jnow who breached the confidentiality of an executive session is Enrile, by his own actions.

So why is going after Enrile, the only senator to commit the offense, beside the point?

There was only one crime we are sure of and it was committed in full public view.

To repeat, we don't know for sure if Labog was telling the truth. It will take some doing to ferret out the truth on this one. By all means, let's get to the bottom of it..

But first things first. Let's deal with what's right under our noses. Let's get Enrile who clearly breached the confidentiality of an executive session.

That would show a little moral consistency, si ba?

viking said...


I know you were there. I read your detailed post. But it often happens many reporters miss some headlines that the 'editorialized' view provides. Your points are well taken but I stand by my story re Pimentel.

manuelbuencamino said...


And I stand by mine with Enrile. I think Joker should move for his expulsion.

On the issue of Pimentel, let's go to documentary proof. DJB says he has a dvd of the hearing maybe he can help us resolve our difficulty over Pimentel.

But yes, I agree with you copletely. There are good and bad points to both being too thick in the thick of things and being solely dependent on editorialized views.

Yak said...

So I thought journalism was about doing some "investigative and detective" work. If you bank your truth on story after another, the facts would just be thrown to the window somewhere. The truth is the truth - not an approximation of the truth, not a hit-miss thing. So do you mean to say that what PDI is doing is simply hit-and-miss and good for you if you get the facts straight?

Your "alternative analogy" is red herring. The point in fact is that, where's the "investigative aspect" of your so-called four sources? I think djb is right. It's a simple case of kuryente! Or another case of "getting the first crack at a scoop" as usual.

It's exactly the rats that eat up the very institutions that would make the philippines a more stable and credible republic.

MLQ3 said...

yak, let's explore the situation.

we know neri invoked executive privilege, and that he would not go past a certain point in his testimony.

we know that the senators felt he should be given the chance to expand his testimony behind closed doors.

we know neri never actually said anything and that the session ended almost as quickly as it began.

that would have been all we know, if not for some people leaking that something fishy transpired.

now you suggest the reporter and then the editors should have said, goodness me, we must preserve the appearance of virtue at all costs, and by so doing, institutions are enhanced when the corrosion of institutions was taking place precisely because of the circumstances neri had testified as having taken place, except he would not go whole hog, for whatever reason (to my mind, to protect the president and not do the senate any favors).

not being privy to the reporter or her sources or the actual deliberations of the editors, let me suggest how i'd have approached it.

so someone comes up to me and says hey, do you know that neri couldn't talk, because joker basically facilitated a palace enforcer being on the scene, to intimidate neri into keeping his mouth shut?

gosh, i'd say. and gosh, you say, i'd leave it at that because the last thing anyone should know is that joker sabotaged the senate's own procedures.

but after saying gosh, i'd say, why are you telling me this, isn't it not allowed?

the source might say, but look, there was no executive session because how can you have an executive session, when the secrecy was violated by joker facilitating the intrusion by a palace enforcer? neri turned pale, threw up, everyone went home, etc.?

to my mind, a good and valid point. but i'd sniff around and see if someone else was willing to divulge what took place.

someone else says, yeah, i was there, this is what happened.

someone else says, yeah i was there too, it happened this way.

and yet another person said yeah, that's it, exactly that.

the problem is, they all say, this is what happened, you can quote me, but do not identify me.

yet normally, to report something all i need is a source, then another source to validate that, and then the statement of the other side, for fairness (or at least give the other side a chance to respond which they may or may not do).

i could wait until everything falls into place, which means until a proper history is written, but then i'd have to hope i live 100 years and maybe no complete story emerges even then.

or, do i say, hmmm.... A said this, B confirms it, C denies it, with everything else I know and have seen, I think A and B are on to something and the public deserves to know?

Whose call is it to protect the precious integrity of the senate? The senators. Not mine. My job is to let the people know that I have it on pretty good authority that Joker acted like someone straight out of a scene from the Sopranos, that the senate was prepared to let neri testify in secret but he never could, because joker let in that enforcer, like many a movie or tv show in which a witness is about to spill the beans and then a goon appears in the back row of the courtroom and glares at the witness, who then recants or suddenly gets amnesia.

to be sure, the judge and the lawyers, in such a situation, are stuck trying to salvage the case in the face of such intimidation. the goon can always say hey, i was just sitting here, i said nothin, i did nothin, watchu talkin about intimidation?

and if the prosecution cries foul of course the defense will say we did nothin, you cant prove nothin, and besides the rules say you can't prove it even if you wanted to because it's all supposed to be secret...

if i were a reporter i'd at the very least report that just as the witness was going to talk, the witness froze and by the way at about the same time a notorious goon happened to take his seat in the back of the courtroom.

particulary if four attorneys for the prosecution said, hey, we cant go public with this but you know, the witness was going to spill the beans on the mafia don that goon works for. but of course the mafia don is in an innocuous line of work like sanitation and the goon clocks in as a garbageman.

you run with the story because even if circumstancial, the dots all connect and the story makes sense. it's the senate's call if they have the balls to state in public what they say in private, and whether they will call joker's bluff although things have gotten this far because joker wouldn't be where he is if he didn't know how far bluffing could take him.

the institutions have every means to take care of themselves and it's not media's role to act as their nanny. if the institutions were mature they wouldn't be in the pickle they're in, a pickle they fully deserve to be in, and which media is not supposed to bail them out of.

the attitude you're proposing would leave us with the manila bulletin proclaiming today is national mango day.

Yak said...

The very reason your line of thinking is like that because you watch too much "soap operas" about mafioso storylines. I would think that a "determined witness" would "spill the beans" no matter what the circumstances and consequences would be. Do you remember clarissa ocampo in the midst of an estrada-controlled senate on national tv? mind you, she's a woman.

The mere fact that neri stood his ground and said he invoked "executive privilege" means that he had no intentions to "spill any beans" in the first place. If he had the motivation then it was him who would have asked for an "executive session." And who was the proponent of the "executive session?" The opposition senators wanted to force the issue but they simply can't get out anything from neri. so, some of them resorted to some "conspiracy theories" as what happens in most sopranos and the godfather plots.

As djb said, "you cannot right a wrong with a wrong." granting, there was a "leak" as the pdi claims, that per se is an admission that some senators did break the rules. Do you mean to say, it's now okay to quote sources (without identifying them) even from illegal means?

The attitude i am proposing is for the media to be more prudent and circumspect with their reporting. If djb said "kuryente to the max," I say, good thing the pdi didn't get hit by the thunderbolt. I am an inquirer reader and you guys at the pdi have habits of what i call "misleading news reports" to capture subscription. As they say, "more readers, more advertisers, more money for the shareholders."

Let me pose this question: would you rather "curse the darkness" or "light a candle"?

manuelbuencamino said...

Bullseye, Manola!

MLQ3 said...

yak, no, the reason i think this way is that our officials run the country the way mafia dons run their families. art imitates life, politics is less neat but involves the same motivations and even actions portrayed in the movies.

what neri did was count out exactly how many beans he'd spill, and insist he'd do it in his own good time and only as far as he'd like, when what we deserve to see is the whole hill of beans.

he is not about to do anyone any favors except himself, though he will do whatever he can to limit the risks he has to take because, as you pointed out, he's no clarissa ocampo.

the senate has the power of compulsion. but it has to wield that power step by step. neri won't talk in open session? let him be accorded the chance to do so in secret, which doesn't preclude his being asked the same things again, in public. he still won't do it? detain him. he still won't do it? detain him further as he does -and go to court so that the president's can't hide behind executive privilege and use it to obstruct justice.

yes, media has not only the right, but the obligation, to put forward information the public would otherwise never get. this is not to say media should do it gratuitously, but it should do it, if in its reasonable judgment the common good is served.

this is how scams are exposed, murders unearthed, official negligence and wrongdoing brought to the light of day. the journalist's obligation is not to the authorities, it's to the public. if the authorities don't like it, they can punish the journalists and a journalist should be willing to to take the risk for the same reason people risk arrest protesting wrongs and asking for the redress of their grievances.

time will validate the judgment of the journalists or prove them wrong and the officials right: if media was too reckless eventually they will lose readers and viewers, a more direct punishment than officials who can still cheat a victory at the polls even have to face.

i think you understimate the prudence exercised on a daily basis by reporters and editors.

where we differ is, to my mind when there is complete darkness even a spark will do, because only then might someone get the courage to light a candle.

but in the absence of a spark or even a candle it's healthier to curse than to say, oh well, let's never break the law and too bad if black people are still slaves, women have no rights, and democracy doesn't exist because gosh, after all the original law was that the king was the law and the priests, too.

Yak said...

With regards to neri, either he's got the beans and won't spill it or he's got no beans at all. We wouldn't know would we because we are all spectators after all. Not unless you know neri personally and have some scoop to spare for the public?

If you read between the lines of all the statements of neri, nothing would point out that he's got this "smoking gun." All talks would still fall under the banner of gossips. It is in the gray areas of a person's statements that media feast on. I do think that journalists in the philippines are very very lucky when it comes to press freedom.

This "power to compel" by the senate. Has this power really produced something good? i remember pcgg chair camilo sabio cited in contempt but what were the results? nsa norby gonzales was cited in contempt but what were the results? down the line, "you can't squeeze anything from an unwilling witness", this is what i see in Sec. Romulo Neri.

If media people are willing to suffer the consequences of their action, why do they cry foul when they are sued in court for libel? Why don't they face the music. After all, as your own words: if the authorities don't like it, they can punish the journalists and a journalist should be willing to to take the risk for the same reason people risk arrest protesting wrongs and asking for the redress of their grievances. Are you willing to go to jail for your journalism? Or have you experienced being sued and literally being imprisoned for it?

My question involved only two actions: curse the darkness or light a candle. i'm for the latter. I won't toe the gray areas because it is in these gray areas that media abuses it power to inform people.

Now we can't whine on history can't we because it's done. What we can do is focus on matters at hand. Media is as good as it's readers and viewers. Without the readers and viewers, you are after all, nothing.

manuelbuencamino said...


How can the power to inform be abused?

Yak said...


It is when journalists like yourself succumb to "kuryente" and news with unnamed sources then it was known that it's a big fat lie.

MLQ3 said...


you miss a third possibility, that neri has the beans but has a massianic complex and wants to spill them only on his own good time, according to circumstances he and no one else dictates.

journalists in metro manila are lucky. in the provinces, they get killed.

not every witness is willing, and there are times witnesses can be compelled, which is why the rules allow for subpoeanas, etc.

media cries foul over some (not all) cases of libel, when the suits are accompanied by other forms of harrassment. not just media but any person would cry foul if charges, for example, are filed on a weekend so that someone can't post bail immediately, which is an opportunity they should be readily accorded. and that's just a minor form of harrassment. the other kind is filing a blanket suit when only one writer is really involved.

i've never been sued because either readers don't think it's worth it or i am careful to avoid inviting such suits. that's my look out.

i disagree with you on history, because it's never final, only periodically reexamined as more material comes to light or new ways to interpret it emerge. because the lessons never end.

and precisely if you want to focus on the matters at hand, you must focus with the imperfect means at your disposal as a reader, at the media's as chroniclers of whats going on, and officialdom which is using its powers for good or ill.

media is precisely only as good as its readers or viewers, which is why media is at the mercy of the audience -and subject to its own continuous self-criticism, sometimes even harsher than the public's.

but if media is nothing without the audience, the audience also stumbles in the dark if leaders are left to operate without the harsh glare of publicity.

Yak said...

Only neri would know the extent of that "possibility" you're pondering on. As I have said, gossips and rumors that were circulated by media that neri has the "smoking gun" is up until today a case of bum steer. In the first place, neri was either having second thoughts or as you say "in his own time."

An unwilling witness has its own dangers because you wouldn't know if his/her statements are true or if his/her statements are ass-saving pronouncements.

The due process of the law states that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the media has the guts to expose whatever it is they wanna expose, why cry foul? It's part and parcel of the consequences, right? again, if you're innocent why make a big fuss about it? as they say, libel cases are one of the work hazards a journalist should consider.

History is past. Either we learn from them. Either we study them. Anything new that comes out from that history is not history anymore but new evidence that's already part of the present.

The public stumbling in the dark is i might say a one-sided view. why? Is the media the only way for people to know about the truth in governance? i don't think so. Although i salute some media people, don't exalt the profession too much. Again, no readers and viewers, no media business.

MLQ3 said...

no, not just neri himself. he doesn't exist in isolation. the president would know, joker would know, others in the cabinet would know, the people neri spoke to would know, though not all of these people will do either neri or the public a favor by revealing what they know. the president and her allies, for obvious reasons, the people with whom neri has shared confidences, for professional or personal reasons.

your assumption is that everything media reports is gossip or rumor. not so. it would be correct to assume that neither media nor the public has the whole picture, which doesn't mean abandoning the effort. you smell smoke, you don't wait until you see it or have a raging inferno on your hands. to do so would be to risk everything turning to ashes.

there are consequences and there are consequences. it's the difference between accepting the consequences of the law and submitting to abuses perpetrated in the name of the law. if you say someone is innocent until proven guilty, you do not go willingly into the night in the hands of the gestapo in the hope the kangaroo court will even give you the benefit of honestly pleading your case. you point out the gestapo has come knocking at your door.

for an individual there are many ways to know what's going on. the media exists for the individual and the whole. each citizen acts not just for himself, but as part of the whole. and the entire picture has a bigger chance of being properly seen, if people operate in a community and not isolation.

might i add that a person who does not exalt their profession has no business being in that profession, because to refuse to exalt it is to abandon all hope it can be better than what it currently is.

Yak said...

These conjectures of yours, are these facts wherein your have personal knowledge? Or you have unnamed and anonymous sources to back up this statement of yours? We were only referring to neri and that his unwillingness to become a cooperative witness that would "spill the beans" is futile if the issue is forced.

I don't think i assumed that everything media reports is gossip or rumor. It was you who presumed that on by behalf. Let me pose a question to you:

Why is that when pdi (or any other daily broadsheet) gets a scoop, the banner headline is a 50-60 size font (well this is pretty obvious that's why it's called a headline). By why an erratum is put in the most inner and corner most part of the newspaper? Why not put all erratums in the front page? If you people are so courageous in exalting your profession, why not be courageous in accepting your mistakes? Tell me. Is this what you call "responsible media?"

Consequences are consequences no matter how you would want to circumvent the word. So do you mean you don't trust in the "justice system" of the philippines by stating that "abuses perpetrated in the name of the law?"

Believe me if a gestapo picks you up in the middle of the night, you're a goner. I've dealt with a kangaroo court once (they even have a lawyer wearing slippers and shorts) and mind you, these "personalities of the kangaroo court" are known in the provinces. The question is not that people are being killed. The question is nobody wants to testify.

There you go. media is not the end all and be all in knowing the truth. More than the ideals of media is at the service of the public, a media entity is first and foremost a business. No business, no newspaper.

The media of today is "arrogant and vindictive." I am not saying all but that's my observation.

DJB Rizalist said...

FACT: At the end of the public hearing on September 26 and just before the Executive Session began, I have it on a DVD recording and the transcripts will surely bear it out that Blue Ribbon Chair APC stated that Romulo Neri could bring legal counsel into the Executive Session. It is inconceivable to me therefore that in the Executive Session itself, the Committees did not get Romulo Neri's confirmation about the identity of who his legal counsel would be.

Since only Senators and their designated staff members, are allowed in the executive session, the inescapable conclusion is that only Romulo Neri could have allowed Rolando Andaya into the session, as legal counsel.

In any case, the presence of anyone other than senators cannot have been authorized without the consent of the Senators. Therefore, I knew from the very minute I read Labog's article that it was a lie, or at least an inaccuracy, to have blamed Joker Arroyo for the presence of Andaya. At the very least, he was there upon the consent of the Senators present and with Romulo's explicit affirmation that Andaya would be the "legal counsel" specifically allowed by APC as they recessed the public hearing.

I cannot imagine how Joker Arroyo could possibly have forced his colleagues to allow Andaya in, since he isn't even one of the chairmen. If Neri simply said no, he is not my legal counsel, that would be the end of it.

Now whether Labog had sources or not, it is an inescapable conclusion that the PDI's motivation in publishing this story was to blackmail Joker Arroyo with this dishonest intrigue, since his behavior during the public hearings was clearly on behalf of the Palace, for which I have complete disdain for him, but that is his right as Senator. The PDI on the other hand could now claim that this information was given to them by "sources" and act as if they don't understand what we understand about how presence in the executive session is allowed for legal counsels, since it is the same as for the public hearings.

Now let's engage in a lil speculation. WHO might these sources be, and WHY would they seek to blame Joker Arroyo for the failure to elicit some kind of bombshell from Neri? Forget about the possibility that some rogue staff members did the leaking, since only the most trusted of the senate staff would've been there, and for four of them to do so is highly improbable.

Well, Yak's observation that Romulo Neri had no intention of dropping a bombshell on GMA in thge Executive Session is spot on, based simply on the fact that it was not him who asked for the session. That he was about to drop a bombshell as PDI suggests with heavy innuendo, but was afraid to have someone like Andaya be there to witness him doing it, is utterly illogical. The executive session is a "locked room." Even if Andaya were not there and he dropped a bombshell, then the Senate decided to allow public knowledge of what transpired, which the Rules explicitly allow, would there be any doubt that he had sung like a canary bird and was the source of the bombshell? The presence of someone like Andaya would've been superfluous for this purpose.

The purpose for going into executive session was to determine if they were going to accept the assertion of executive privilege for the information that he possessed.

Judging by the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by Roxas-Aquino to force NEDA to release Annexes A and B to the Senate, I would conclude that Romulo Neri's basic statement in the Executive Session was that the "information" in his possession is covered by executive privilege because of "diplomatic secrets"--namely the allegedly proprietary nature of the ZTE design and engineering plans, which may well be in those Annexes. Roxas himself said thursday that it's just a "bill of materials" and not some marvelous invention or intellectual property that deserves to be protected by executive privilege.

Regarding his discussions with President Arroyo, there is no mention of it in the case filed by Roxas with the Supreme Court, which can only mean he invoked some right like the Fifth Amendment (since he IS culpable criminally for not reporting the bribe offer immediately), or he stuck to his story in the public session that there really was nothing more to their conversation. IN any case, the absence of it in the Roxas case means either there was no information, or the Senate accepted the assertion of executive privilege over that item, or whatever his explanation was.

In any case, the PDI's bullying/ blackmailing / intriguing of Joker Arroyo does not serve the interest of the public to know the truth of these matters.

The Senate has full power to reveal or conceal anything that happened in the session. but PDi's act compromises, damages, even destroys the credibility and utility of the Executive Session, because no one can possibly claim now that the the Senate Executive Sessions are secure as they are intended to be.

The clumsy attempt to say there was no executive session because there was no bombshell is intellectually dishonest on the part of those trying to do that last thursday, a disdainful attempt to help the sources and their accomplices in the PDI get out of a jam--that they broke the rules both of the senate and the code of ethics of journalists, and the Press Freedom law!

Breaking the secrecy of the executive session falls dead center under the "security of the senate", just like wiretapping the President is a national security violation under the anti wiretapping law.

I can't see how anyone argue against that.

btw, the analogy i mentioned several posts back bears repeating.

If I illegally eavesdrop on someone's cell phone but discover that he calls and says nothing, or texts empty messages does not make my act any less culpable under RA 4200 for wiretapping without court orders.

Likewise, when you divulge what transpired in an executive session of the senate, even if it is "nothing happened" and you do it BEFORE the Senate has granted authorization to do so, you have broken the Rules, by parity of reasoning.

The most pitiable idea is that the senate can decide it wasn't actually holding an executive session even if the transcripts and my dvd bear out, and senators all admit they went into executive session.

manuelbuencamino said...


"The media of today is "arrogant and vindictive." I am not saying all but that's my observation."

Would you consider NBN, the Manila Standard,the OPS, and the Manila Bulletin the exceptions to your sweeping statement about the media of today being arrogant and vindictive!

Would I risk becoming a victim of "kuryente" if I get my information from the above-mentioned media and their unnamed sources abd informers?

DJB Rizalist said...

You ask the interesting question, which this post intended to address directly, but has not really done so comprehensively:

How can the power to inform be abused?

We will assume of course that we are excluding all cases when the information being given is false to begin with, since that is immoral to begin with, and is not substantially about the power to inform, per se.

We shall assume that we are asking this question with regards to information that is factual, in other words, how can the power to inform be abused in those cases where the information is in fact "the truth."

I shall give a series of examples first that have to do with HOW the information was gained to begin with.

Suppose it is true that GMA is the mastermind of the ZTE deal, and persons like romulo neri know it because they were in fact accomplices in it.

If I torture Romulo Neri and get him to divulge incontrovertible facts and details proving above to be true, it would nevertheless be an abuse of the right to inform the public of such a heinous crime.

If I wiretap Romulo Neri, or GMA's cell phone and discover the same truth, I would be abusing press freedom if I now inform the public of the fact that was discovered.

If I learn of some truth, because someone committed acts of torture, wiretapping, or illegally divulging an executive session hearing's details, I would similarly be abusing the right to information.

It would be no different if I revealed who my sources of information are if I had promised to keep their identities confidential but later found it necessary to reveal such identities in order to give plausibility to my publishing of some truth revealed by them.

Should I go on?

Yes. Take a look at RA 1477 the so called Press Freedom Law. I claim that it clearly defines at least some limits to this freedom of truthful information that PDI seems to think is limited only by their high and mighty position as the number one purveyors of telecomm load and tsismis in the archipelago:

(1) whenever it incurs civil and criminal liability, as in libel; and

(2) whenever it might endanger the security of the state.

I think they both libeled Joker and endangered the security of the state.

The right of the public to know and the freedom of the press to inform them of the truth have well defined limits.

It is a matter of DISCRETION whether to use unnamed sources or not, as part of the Journalist's Privilege to use such sources.

The Law also clearly prescribes how such right and privilege are limited, and how abuse of discretion may be committed.

The difference between the four sources and Enrile, is the same difference as between ISAFP and PCIJ. One set of sources is anonymous and denies their role, while Enrile, as well as ALL the other senators were in fact, unavoidable starting to discuss the session. That is why they agreed to go into caucus.

Your keying on Enrile is just a pitiable as the Palace keying on PCIJ.

Yak said...

It includes all media entities whether state-controlled or privately-owned. why? did you assume that i would defend those state-controlled and privately-owned that's leaning towards the administration? That's what you call "kuryente." You assumed something by yourself.

viking said...


The Roxas-Aquino petition is not about Annex A and Annex B (of the contract) but the ICC minutes and NEDA project evaluation report. I have copies of two of these documents and after careful analysis concluded that in themselves these documents are damning. I don't know why the committees don't invite those who prepared the evaluation report.

DJB Rizalist said...

right. in fact they want all documents pertinent to the NBN deal.
Here is the full text of the petition

DJB Rizalist said...

just looking over the petition again, it worries me that the plaintiffs are Roxas-Aquino of the Committee on Trade and INdustry and not the entire senate and why the blue ribbon chair apc is not there with them.

the petition makes mention of neda and icc documents, which are certainly in the purview of the T&I committee, but also of criminal activities involving high govt officials like abalos, which seem to be in the purview of the Blue Ribbon.

any ideas on how this might affect the case? hope not coz it sounds good...and i note there is no mention of romulo neri directly, as far as i've gotten into the document.

MLQ3 said...


the personal knowledge argument is the ultimate argument not for the rule of law, but for tyranny disguising itself behind legalism.

the proper question is, why don't more papers publish their corrections? and then, why don't more readers demand more prominent publication of corrections? because the obligation of the publisher has been fulfilled by correcting errors when they are identified.

the alternative is to do what most others do, which is to pretend no errors were ever committed. let me add that it is precisely because of the public service part of journalism that newspapers (some of them, anyway) make space for correcting their mistakes. your question is like asking why random house doesn't publishing glossy paperbacks titled "random houses's typos and other errors for the calendar year."

i've adequately addressed your points but it is an exercise in futility if, every time i address your questions, you come up with a whole set of new ones, which guarantees nothing will ever be resolved to your satisfaction.

and djb, i find it odd you argue for law and so forth when you support dubya's war on terror, and its apparatus including rendition and gitmo and so on. i'll take your agonizing over the law at face value when you stop blathering on about the neocon jihad.

what took place was that four accounts were reported, within limits imposed by the sources. what is taking place is joker is making damned sure everyone jumps through legal hoops so that the real issue at hand is overlooked.

the torturer in your analogy isn't the media or those who leaked, it's joker. you also overlook that even if andaya wanted to act as neri's counsel, even if neri was on bended knees asking andaya to act as counsel, the constitution forbids andaya from doing so, no?

as for your obsession with wiretapping, you can go over my arguments why i felt the garci tapes should be discussed by media and in fact, played. if someone gave me the garci tapes i'd play them to the world; if someone gave me a tape of the president engaging in pillow talk with whoever, i'd destroy the tape. the difference is in the contents and the public interest served. the lookout as to how the tape was procured is that of the person who obtained the tapes, not the reporter who ends up with a copy.

in the end your assumption is the security of the state above all; my assumption is the public's right to know above all, because it is that openness that is the surest and best defense of the state as something beyond the capacity of someone like joker to subvert.

the purpose of the executive session was to give neri the benefit of the doubt and also to reduce neri's wiggle room because he was obviously weasling out. thanks to joker, and then thanks to his colleagues who keep folding every time joker makes a bluff, and thanks to other senators who let the hearings be put on hold so as to give the palace breathing room, what was meant to be accomplished then may never be accomplished at all. that's not the rule of law, it's the rule of lawyers, of whom the paragons are now joker and enrile.

face it, you cannot see the forest from the trees in this case.

viking said...


I agree vehemently. But what's worrisome is Cayetano is not a bright guy. I wish these guys hired people like you as a consultant. But then, you might be busy preparing for your tv program. Well, if you ever get your way with the network, you can hire me as a resident flamenco dancer cum comedian.

DJB Rizalist said...

well i AM looking for a sax player cum comedian. hehe.

DJB Rizalist said...

I hope you are not equating the problems we have with corruption to the extinction threat of terrorism.

It is wrong to say I support Bush's war on terrorism, as if it were purely a figment of his imagination. The country of my birth, the United States of America, was attacked without warning, without provocation at a time when Bush had as his greatest ambitions to cut taxes, promote faith based initiatives and improve the education of Americans.

His invasion of Iraq has not turned out well, but even that was done using the democratic processes of the law. Even Hillary Clinton signed that law. Indeed, it was Bill Clinton who signed the Iraq Liberation Act in December, 1998 and bombarded the Baathist Dictator Saddam Hussein with 300 cruise Tomahawk missiles to prove that even he understood the threat that existed there, even if some of us in this here Archipelago still do not. It was Saddam Hussein, who sent Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Youssef to the Philippines and the enduring poisonous fruit of their labors bedevils us to this day. It's called the Abu Sayyaf, which was initially funded by KSM along with a tall bearded gentleman whom even Maria Ressa suspects was indeed in Mindanao. Saddam was 100 times worse than Marcos, and I for one would not hesitate to war on him myself were I in Bush's place at the time.

In the next few weeks the big issue that will be tackled here at Philippine Commentary but ignored in most other blogs will be the pending grant of a Muslim Juridical Entity by GMA as her "peace legacy" to the country, largely based on a December 2000 decision of the Supreme Court regarding indigenous peoples. The lead decision was penned by Reynato Puno, a decision I've been reading and rereading, noting the Antonio Calipjegoesque errors in it that only barely hide a naive, erroneous and entirely guilt ridden view of Philippine history that is ready today to do a humongous wrong supposedly to make amends for what Spaniards and Americans did or did not do.

It will be an arduous task to expose the fallacies of the IPRA law and to oppose such high and mighty people as GMA and Reynato Puno, whom bishops want to make the head of a transition govt.

I anxiously plead with others like yourself to give my case a hearing on this crucial and historic matter, which I am sure the Inquirer will treat through the lens of their leftist and utilitarian ideology.

My views of the war on terror are contained in the very phrase. It is a war, not a fairy tale as some think it is, or an invention of W. Terrorism is the greatest single issue of our time, whose reality is not even fully acknowledged by the myopic, limited view of resentful, muddle headed people like the folks at PDI that inhabit comfy lil nooks in a nasty lil archipelago of corruption, incompetence, hubris and moonbattery.

Terrorism is an extinction level problem in my opinion, which may only seem to thrive on propaganda, but i am afraid those who think so are horribly, horribly wrong.

And yes, national security is the highest national interest, higher even than the so called right to information that you consecrate.

there would be no freedom to protect, no information to publish, no democracy to defend at all if we made PDI's interest the paramount national interest.

As a political analyst you must know that whatever else Joker may be, he is not breaking any laws, no matter how infuriating his behavior may be to you. He is only one in a collegial body. Blame the incompetence of the others and their dirty tricks when they stoop to coopting the news media as accomplishes in breaking rules of honor that cannot really be punished. I have no hope or expectation whatever that any of the four sources will ever be punished. they know that and pdi knows that, a fact obvious from the barely hidden sneering and smugness of certain senators at last thursday's hearing, like Jamby and Nene and Mar and Ping, whom I suspect of being the four sources based on watching them on this dvd recording and others i've made in the past. Each person has subliminal "lie detectors" and give away tics and behaviors that I am trying to catalogue and remember. Of course we shall never know, who they really are, nor do we have to.

It is enough that the point has been made and shot fired across their dishonorable bows, whoever they are.

MLQ3 said...

dean, it is dubya's war. because that was not the only way to react to the attack. but this blog expresses things -and the problems america faces- better than i ever could:

(and all the other entries on what dubya's doing and the futility of the war in iraq).

national security is an ideology, a cold war construct. just as executive privilege is a modern invention far different from the traditional demarcation of presidential powers. so i'd rather adhere to a more traditional notion of what represents security for the state, than the national security doctrine and its more recent mutations.

Yak said...

The personal knowledge question can be answered by a yes or no, no? It's precisely these speculations (without basis) that makes some media people really look funny. Speculation is a hairline away from fiction. And I suppose journalists deal with facts, yes?

The issue is pretty simple. When you pronounce scoops, you make it as if it's the "gospel truth" but when you realize it's wrong, you hide it somewhere inside the newspaper as if nothing happened at all. Isn't this a simple case of deception to the readers? no, I don't think the people need not to demand to make the corrections in more prominent sections of the newspapers. All along I thought your mantra was to inform the public? Why not inform the public of your scoops as well as your blunders? I sense journalistic arrogance in here.

Precisely, some corrections are not even published and pretend it didn't happen at all. Let's distinguish books that random house publish from newspapers that pdi publish which greatly affect opinions of people everyday. Get the drift? Your analogy of comparing newspapers with books is simply faulty.

I am not here to be satisfied by you. I am here to seek for answers to questions. Whether i accept them or not is for me to decide. Although some of the points raised were addressed to djb, let me comment on this statement of yours: the lookout as to how the tape was procured is that of the person who obtained the tapes, not the reporter who ends up with a copy.

Does this mean to say that journalists can wash their hands like pontius pilate just because a copy of a wiretapped conversation out of nowhere landed on their lap? i beg to disagree. What we have here is a case of sin of omission. There mere fact that a reporter holding something that was obtained illegal should be responsible for the consequences, come what may.

In this case, you cannot see the trees from the forest.

Yak said...

The threat of terrorism is very real. The 2004 madrid bombings the 2005 7/7 london bombings the 2005 amman bombings, et al. In the Philippines, a certain senator exposed a certain oplan greenbase which up until now remain unsubstantiated. This Trillanes claims that the bombings that happened were the babies of esperon and gonzales. Much is left to be desired on how the USA does its job in iraq but a war is a war no matter how we look at it. There isn't a sweet war, all wars are bitter.

In a philippines (just a scenario) if and when terrorism thrive, I don't think that even the pdi would dare publish stories against the terrorists. The usual line of these terror groups would be try us.

viking said...


for someone who appreciates statistics and its methods, you stun me, for not allowing that mortality risks from terrorism pale in comparison to many other risks. war on terrorism? seems more like a war based on hubris to me.

by the way, too bad about the program. wrong vowel.



Gimme a break -- on your accusation that Saddam trained the Abu Sayyaff. Gosh whatever these guys are gonna come up with next!

If I tell you that no less than DGSE officials had gone to Manila, spoken to authorities sometime in the 90s to tell them and submit pictures of Filipino Muslims (who became Abu Sayyaff) were training in Malaysia camps and in Afghanistan, you would reject that because there's no mention of Saddam Hussein in it, wouldn't you?

Don't know what neo-con crap they feed you from the US Dean but time you asserted a bit of autonomy, man!

Anyway, on your the portion of your comment re Bush's invasion of Iraq, i.e., "His invasion of Iraq has not turned out well, but even that was done using the democratic processes of the law."

I agree completely that Bush used the democratic processes of the law IN AMERICA after he manipulated intelligence regarding reasons for invading Iraq. Bush and Blair and the people around them were tasked to come up with pure and simple unadulterated fabricated shit spin.

If you don't believe me, believe the Downing Street Memos.



Gimme a break -- on your accusation that Saddam trained the Abu Sayyaff. Gosh whatever these guys are gonna come up with next!

If I tell you that no less than DGSE officials had gone to Manila, spoken to authorities sometime in the 90s to tell them and submit pictures of Filipino Muslims (who became Abu Sayyaff) were training in Malaysia camps and in Afghanistan, you would reject that because there's no mention of Saddam Hussein in it, wouldn't you?

Don't know what neo-con crap they feed you from the US Dean but time you asserted a bit of autonomy, man!

Anyway, on your the portion of your comment re Bush's invasion of Iraq, i.e., "His invasion of Iraq has not turned out well, but even that was done using the democratic processes of the law."

I agree completely that Bush used the democratic processes of the law IN AMERICA after he manipulated intelligence regarding reasons for invading Iraq. Bush and Blair and the people around them were tasked to come up with pure and simple unadulterated fabricated shit spin.

If you don't believe me, believe the Downing Street Memos.



Don't worry! Because Bush "invasion of Iraq has not turned out well" (not turned out well... you got a way with words when you defend Bush, heh!), he's decided to prove that he'll do "well" next time Iran.

Don't tell me you didn't know that Bush promised to do something about Iran before his term is over.

You think the jihad and 'muslim' terrorism today is already a handful? That's nothing Dean because after Bush bombs and Teheran, you will be looking at potentially hundreds of millions of muslim "terrorists"... I suggest you start befriending your next door Iranian neighbour in Manila now (there's many many Iranians in the Philippines today!)

manuelbuencamino said...


Thank you for your lengthy answer. I will give you a short response. Your premises are straw men.

In addition, may I remind you that you never criticized the US for publicizing the confessions of your favorite terrorist. Admissions or confession elicited throught torture. I don't recall you admonishing US media or the US government for an abuse of the right to inform the public of such heinous crimes. Moral consistency as you say.

It can't be alright for Bush and US media but not alright for PDI.

Keying on Enrile is logical because he breached the confidentiality of an executive sessionn. You and I along with thousands of others heard and saw.him do it. Moral consistency please.

I honestly don't understand your keying in on PDI all the time.It;s obsessive already. Was PGI always as bad as you describe it or did it become bad only after you ended your eight year relationship with them? Did you leave PDI because they suddenly changed editorial policies and practices?

viking said...

take a deep breath and don't get personal. thus far, the exchange has been civil.

manuelbuencamino said...


Yes I assumed and it was a valid assumption if you reread your comments. You were attacking the sort of news reports coming from anti-administration newspapers. I didn't see you criticize state-controlled or sympathetic outlets. Your case against abuse of the right to inform would be more credible if you used examples of such abuse committed by both pro and anti administration media outfits. It would have shown you were looking at both sides equally and nit just giving the evil eye to one side.

manuelbuencamino said...


The war has not turned out well. It is a disaster.

And how would restate "the war was based on lies", there was a slight misunderstanding over intelligence?

You either believe that the means don't justify the ends or the ends justify the means and you stick with it. You can't say argue it one way when it involves PDI and another way when it involves the war on terror. Moral consistency is based on principles not on ideology.

Follow Hillblogger's advise. Do your own thinking.

Yak said...

Your assumption is awfully wrong. why? simply because the issue in this article of djb is precisely about the "kuryente" news of pdi. Would i talk about something that's not part of the topic?

I think that the issue is not about pro-administration or anti-administration sentiments. It's about irresponsible reporting. The mere fact that either 4 senators broke senate rules or pdi peddled lies is what is being discussed not other media outlets.

Why, are you under the payroll of pdi that you defend pdi that much? I stuck to the topic, did you?

Amadeo said...

The discussion to this thread was both interesting and exemplary, until so sorry to say it segued to this:

"and djb, i find it odd you argue for law and so forth when you support dubya's war on terror, and its apparatus including rendition and gitmo and so on. i'll take your agonizing over the law at face value when you stop blathering on about the neocon jihad."
What happened? How did the Bush administration and its war on terror and Iraq get into the narrow confines of this discussion?

Anyway since the subject was brought out, is the apparent dichotomy of the above statements then that the Bush administration is or represents the anti-thesis to law and/or the rule of law?

Are the US and its arguably vaunted adherence to the rule of law then in such shambles that it cannot prosecute this alleged mad warmonger and his alleged lackeys with all the damning evidence liberally articulated by the critics?

I could be complicit too by extension since I count myself as part of that over 65% of citizens who favored the war on terror and Iraq during the run-up to the wars. Our numbers though have shrunk greatly. Reasons postulated? The Iraq War has become hyper-extended, messy, and many mistakes have been made in its prosecution. And those are the realities that have soured many of our admittedly fair-weather comrades.

What are the chances that Bush, especially after he leaves office, will be hauled off to the nearest court to answer for his alleged "crimes against humanity" and other malfeasance? If not good, why so? Is it because the system of justice around here is so bad that it cannot ably match this evil? Or what about maybe, just maybe, he has operated well within the law and/or rule of law, and has acted in his official capacities as earnestly and honestly as he could or as realistically possible?

Let me end with a little revelation I heard/read from some sources. The Democrats have always been as expected the staunchest critics of the Iraq war, though many in their numbers also voted for the war. But it is revealed that all the major Democratic presidential candidates this time around while favoring ending the war and withdrawing troops, nevertheless in their public pronouncements do not advocate complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq. For what reasons? I could guess, for regional security reasons? Or what about protecting US interests in the region? Anyway, doesn't this in some way validate the US getting into Iraq as a strategic geopolitical step; however smartly or dumbly it may have been accomplished?

manuelbuencamino said...


I'm not defending PDI. I have nothing to do with them. I have a weekly column in Business Mirror.

Reread your comments:12;07 AM, 2:44PM, and 9:46PM.

Those comments lead me to believe you are more interested in destroying the credibility of reports damaging to the administration than in seeing the free flow of information.

That's the reason why I asked if you entertain the same kind of suspicion and skepticism about the quality of reports coming from state run and pro administration outlets.

Suppose, instead of writing a story based on leaks from anonymous sources, a reporter sneaks into the executive session and reports what he saw, would that be acceptable to you? Do you think a reporter would be abusing his freedom and duty to inform the public if he witnessed a crime committed in that executive session?

DJB Rizalist said...

Ok let me refocus the discussion back to the topic at hand by quoting from MLQ3's comment above:
in the end your assumption is the security of the state above all; my assumption is the public's right to know above all, because it is that openness that is the surest and best defense of the state as something beyond the capacity of someone like joker to subvert.

The idea that priority be given to the public's right to know, in my opinion is wrong.

I have a one word proof: ERAP

Just think guys. Is there any more thoroughly exposed and journalistically debunked phenomenon than Joseph Estrada. The public knows virtually everything there really is to know about Erap as a public personality and even as a private person, at least with respect to their having to do something about it?

Yet there he is, stronger than he ever was, after the public's right to know has been feted and fed by the media -- a veritable buffet of having the right to know gorged and sated.

What is wrong with this picture?

DJB Rizalist said...

I think the fulfillment of the public's right to know is way over-rated as "the surest and best defense of the state".

Of course we want an open society, marked by a vigorous and free press.

Erap however is walking testimony against giving "the right to know" such an overblown importance.

It is a kind of journalistic jingoism. In the hands of the PDI and as defense of their worst decisions, it is a rationalization that the Erap phenomenon stunningly disproves.

"The public's right to know uber alles" is really a populist slogan
that actually means, "the PDI's right to tell tall tales."

Much like "Erap para sa mahirap."

The big question really is, what should take priority over the public's right to know?

Clearly it is a social good of the highest order, this right of the public to know.

But there are many social goods and ideals. The order of their priority is important for us all to agree upon because that is the only way we can decide what the rational and beneficial position ought to be when these goods and ideals come into conflict, as they do in the present controversy.

I have taken the position that indeed the security of the senate takes precedence over the PDI's right to use anonymous sources since these actions supposedly in pursuit of the truth has compromised the ability of the Senate to do its job.

In this case, in fact, the public's right to know is being served not just by PDI, but by the Senate as well.

The Senate's executive session, it cannot be denied was also in pursuit of the public's right to know. But identifying the PDI's right to tell its stories with the public's right to know is not really accurate, is it?

Yak said...

The keywords there are, as I quote you, "lead me to believe you are more interested in destroying the credibility of reports damaging to the administration than in seeing the free flow of information." Actually, I want gma out the soonest possible time but I don't want especially the media to use "illegal sources" to pin "illegal activities." I will repeat the issue: Either pdi lied or four senators broke the rules. Do I need to be redundant on that?

As I have said, i do not discriminate. I stick to the issue and that's it. Now give me an example of media outlets under the behest of the administration and a report which you think are based on canard and lies and we'll discuss about them.

What you want to portray is a media that would be immune from all the laws of the land as long as they report something (whether the truth or a lie). mind you, you media people are not sons and daughters of greaters gods and we, ordinary citizens sons and daughters of lesser gods. We are after all on the same footing under the law and the constitution. Don't invent your own privileges under the banner of "we want the public to know." hah! and you tell me from what industry did some of the spin doctors in malacanang come from? isn't it from the very industry you are in? media? Tell me if i am wrong.

DJB Rizalist said...

The syllogism in the title is air tight. It doesn't matter which we believe: whether PDI is lying or telling the truth. the consequences of either premise cannot be escaped. We certainly have no way of deciding whether PDI is lying or not, only the logical conclusion that follows from either premise.


cvj said...

"The idea that priority be given to the public's right to know, in my opinion is wrong.

I have a one word proof: ERAP" - DJB

I would've said 'BUSH'. However, whether it's Erap or Bush, the fact that the public made a mistake in the use of available information does not invalidate the democratic process or the value of transparency. After all, it's the 'slam dunk' and 'yellow cake' intelligence fabrications of the Neocon cabal that got the US into trouble in Iraq. As i recall, the latter was done in the name of National Security where more transparency would've helped.

manuelbuencamino said...


"Tell me if i am wrong."

You are wrong

Yak said...


Toting Bunye - former reporter of dzmt and daily star (from the media industry)

Cerge Remonde - radio reporter/commentor (from the media industry)

Ricardo Saludo - business editor, commentater, asst. managing editor (from the media industry)

better check on your facts next time. hah!

DJB Rizalist said...


The senate executive session is about secrecy, unashamedly so, as proclaimed in the rules. Ironically, it is precisely the secret and confidential nature of such sessions that make them a remarkable MEANS of getting transparency in govt, because the senate in executive session can get information from executive officials about things like national security, diplomatic secrets, and whistleblower information, while assuring their witnesses their identities and what transpired remain confidential. but if they cannot maintain the security of the senate executivee session, then it cannot get the information.

thanks, you just showed me another way of looking at what PDI did. They seriously damaged the ability of the senate to get transparency in govt by hampering its ability to hold executive sessions.

viking said...


The full exercise of the 'right to know' doesn't guarantee access to the correct information, and even if the info disseminated were correct, access to media and interest in subjects is uneven. Let me just say that 'right to know' is a necessary condition for democracy, whether that right is used by the press or a branch of government.

The mainstream press which depend on advertising and not circulation for survival,and which tries to minimize costs of gathering information for the benefit of the bottom line, has many limitations. Most reports we read are simply of the template 'source A said this while Source B said this,' In other words, solid and investigative reports which are based on documents and a multiplicity of sources (including experts) are rare. There is also limited specialist training in newspaper staffs, who, in the main are generalists.
In the case of Bush and the Iraq war various reputable media watchdogs have already concluded that the US press had been intimidated by the prevailing atmosphere where anyone who questioned the premises of the White House were painted with the scarlet letter U (unpatriotic). The fear-mongering had so succeeded that months after the final reports of the task force looking for WMD in Iraq had been submitted, more than half of Amercians still believed that WMD were found.

DJB Rizalist said...

viking, i agree with your observation that even the full exercise of the right to know is no guarantee of getting the correct information. What I guess is truly wrong is the idea that if we could only be allowed just a little more exercise of it, we could "get at the truth" and by making the truth come out we can get things fixed.

It is however a reaction of frustration and refusal to accept that there have to be limits to the right to know, such as in the clear limits set by the Fifth Amendment.

Recognizing limits to certain cherised Freedoms is hard for us Filipinos, long deprived of so many of the basic ones. But I think like growing up, the process is a series of compromises with reality and ideals. that we cannot have a just and fair society of men without such limits.

viking said...


I should have added that in the runup to the Iraq war, the US Congress also exercised its right to information, but failed to ferret out the truth, and the exaggerated intel.

By the way, if you have time, please verify what Pimentel actually said in regard to what Joker did or did not do in influencing the behavior of Neri.

manuelbuencamino said...

Oh. I see. You didn't get what I meant.

Okay let memake myself cleac - you are barking up the wrong tree.

Mass commercial media has to answer to the market. They don;t need to be policed. If they are liars people will stop patronizing them.

Goverment and government supported media, on the other, need to bepoliced because they are beyond the reach of consumers.

Yak said...

I think my statement was very clear. But then again, I know you would try to make your own way out of things, being a journalist that you are.

When i bark, i don't bark at trees, i bark at journalists who cry spin when they themselves are the spinners.

Media whether private or government has to be answerable for what they write, for what they say. So do you mean to say that it's perfect ly alright for private media to say what they want without being policed? Wow, isn't that journalistic anarchy? whew! You're worst than gma with that mindset of yours.

Funny thing, you want a private media that's immune from any censure whatsoever. Hah

viking said...

MLQ:"i mean having enough votes to authorize the senators to reveal, in part or in whole, whether the allegations about joker acting as a palace double agent to subvert the purpose the of executive session were true or not. there, i think the palace has enough votes to make sure calling joker's bluff will never be possible."

MLQ, this is a big wager on your part re joker's bluff. I thought you'd be more risk averse or circumspect.

you also went further:"but if the senate were to vote to make public what transpired in the executive session, it would be game over for the administration senators. that they can't afford to do. and they know they can block it which is why they can bluff. elementary politics."

I can hardly wait for the next hearing. We can never can tell, can we?


"Sitting beside Joker at the last ZTE hearing and eager to prove the PDI story was false he said something like - I know you didn't say anything to discourage Neri from testifying. I was sitting right beside you at that executive session...

By the way, the difference between what you see on TV and what you see when you are in the thick of it is what you see is determined by the TV camera crew. You only get to see what the camera focuses on. That's an editorialized view. You miss the whole show. You don't get the atmosphere. You don't get the off camera reactions. It's like watching your favorite sport on TV instead of watching it live. Next hearing is in November. Experience it yourself if you don't want to tale my word for it."

Yes I did want to go but couldn't. The last Senate hearing I attended was in 1995, as a natural resource person; but that was very boring.

I've done as you suggested and played the MP3 file posted here. In the last three minutes, Pimentel did say that he didn't see Joker 'stop' Neri from squealing, verbally or otherwise.


"When i bark, i don't bark at trees, i bark at journalists who cry spin when they themselves are the spinners.
Media whether private or government has to be answerable for what they write, for what they say. So do you mean to say that it's perfectly alright for private media to say what they want without being policed? Wow, isn't that journalistic anarchy? whew! You're worst than gma with that mindset of yours."

Yak, you might me the one putting words into Manuel's mouth and barking up the wrong tree. To say that the privately owned media does not need 'policing' in contrast to state-owned outlets which he says are beyond the reach of customers, is far from saying the private media can say and do anything without regard to consequences. In fact, he said the opposite. the survival of private media ultimately depends on their maintaining credibility unlike, generally, state-owned ones.

I am not as sanguine about market forces forcing private media to be always on their best behavior.

1. While the principle of consumer sovereignty is appealing, he or she cannot be if he or she cannot evaluate the purveyed news and opinion properly. (ex: Bulletin and Fox news). Sure, the consumer is ultimately responsible for the evaluation but there is a glaring market failure here, he invests as much into seeking the truth only up to the point where the private cost does not exceed the benefit, and truth and knowledge are public goods which redound to the benefit of society at large. This is why critics and whiners like us need to be subsidized because there are too few of us and society will be better off with more. Only a minute percentage of newspaper readers bother to point out glaring inaccuracies and biases because what's the point? Time is precious and what benefit does he get aside from the psychic satisfaction of doing a civic duty? The ones who really take issue are those whose reputations have been maligned and who can afford litigation.

2.On the supply side too, there are private mass media whose bottom line is not the financial performance of the paper or network but that of a larger business interest and media is just just a political tool (MST is just one example). (you can find books and critiques on the Philippine press with this theme). In this case, the incentive for good behavior on the part of the publisher/editors/reporters is rather weak and maybe non-existent.

Before the info explosion on the internet, the oligopolistic market structure of mass media was a great hindrance to a good competitive outcome. But now that market power is steadily being eroded and papers like PDI have had to adjust their business model.

3. About state or publicly owned media, it depends on mechanisms of accountability and institutional independence (in many cases, I find the BBC, funded by tv viewers through annual license fees, now close to &100 and the national treasury; and C-Span are more credible and informative than CNN, NBC, and ABC.

manuelbuencamino said...


you stop buying that's censure and policing. you switch channels that's censure. and policing. they go out of business they've been censured and policed.

you yak but you still buy and watch. That's barking without biting.

now govt media dont need you to stay in business.

so it's obvious you were purposely barking up the wrong tree because that's what you're there for - to discredit private media.

To repeat. the consumer can, and will, police and punish private media if they become liars, whether you bark or not. But govt media cannot be punished. So, granting both are guilty lying, why are you picking on media that is consumer dependent and therefore accountable and not govt media which does not have to answer to anybody except the president?

Both media are answerable. But both cannot be made answerable through the same means. You bark at govt media because that's about all you can do with them but you stop buying commercial media because that's what you can do. Bark at one and bite the other.

Only a Palace flunkie would fudge the difference. Hah.

DJB Rizalist said...

I think the way to see this more equitably is to imagine an Inquirer that was partisan in favor of Joker instead of against him.

Sometimes, I think you make arguments that are tailor made to the specific circumstances, rather than being "morally consistent".

As I said, I doubt you'd be as sanguine in protecting "press freedom" if our dominant paper were the Manila Standard and the main broadcaster NBN. You'd be calling them govt media and attacking these tactics of PDI instead of defending them.

For me, I see the calculus quite clearly. PDI abused their privilege and damanged the Senate institution. Executive Sessions and its secrecy are the same right to information as the Press Freedom Law. The PDI abused its discretion and probably now wishes it had not done this and just took whatever information it got and waited for the senators to either confirm or deny it.

They have no license to violatge one institution's freedom in the exercise of their own.

manuelbuencamino said...


Morally consistent to me would be to bitch about a waste of tax money on NBN and not buy Manila Standard unless it's the only material avaiable for wiping my ass.

As to damaging the Senate institution etc....

I think we will have a basic disagreement on this issue because I believe the public has the right to pry into whatever the government does. Because it owns the government.

There is no government secret so sacrosanct that I, as a stockholder of Phils. Inc, do not have the right to know about.

If any of my gov't institutions wants to keep a secret from me then that's their lookout not mine. I uphold the right of owners to look over the shoulder of their hired help.

Having said that, I agree with you when it comes to false reports. There is no excuse for that. A media organization that lies habitually needs to be destroyed, without exception and without regards to whether it is opposition or administration.

DJB Rizalist said...

There is no government secret so sacrosanct that I, as a stockholder of Phils. Inc, do not have the right to know about.

If any of my gov't institutions wants to keep a secret from me then that's their lookout not mine. I uphold the right of owners to look over the shoulder of their hired help.

I must say, this seems to be a strong vote for the priority of "the public's right to know" over all other private and public interests. But one cannot really take it too literally, unless you really mean that you, as a private citizen, stockholder and hopefully tax paying citizen, have the unlimited right to find out about such information.

You do not have a right to know "everything" about the government and its tenants in the sense for example that the government is obliged to publicize every law it passes that it expects citizens to obey. You have a right to know such information in a very common and unambiguous sense.

You only have a right to find out. And even this is an overrated entitlement, if you look hard at it MB. Because though you have a right to find out, you may not use illegal means, for example, by wiretapping all our govt officials, or stalking someone you suspect of, gasp, graft and corruption.

When you say the public has a right to pry into whatever the government does, again, this cannot literallty be true. You have no right to pry into military secrets, diplomatic secrets and other national security secrets, unless of course you want to go to jail for violating any number of strict laws.

I think you might have an erroneous conception of the legitimate domain of the right of the public to know.

The problem is MB, when we say, don't we have the right to know about wrong doing in our own govt? I am forced to sympathize with the sentiment, the problem in real life I think is that we cannot judge before we get the information whether some wrong doing is involved or not.

If the public had such a right, so would the government, eh?

Sounds like a recipe for a totalitarian state.

Yak said...

What I see in you is a "journalist" who wants to "justify all actions of press people whether they are right or wrong. And put in the hands of the spectators (readers and viewers) your fate. Oh no, pdi won't get out of business because they are very good at concocting scoops and gossips that people would want to ask for more.

How do you know if I really am a "consistent" subscriber of Mainstream Media in the Philippines. Am i under your surveillance? If there's someone who's barking at the wrong tree, it's you.

Now do i want to discredit "private media?" Is that how you make hasty generalizations. What we are talking about is a specific case that happened in pdi and now you're accusing me of discrediting private media? You really are a journalist - master of spins and all.

Yes, the consumer can police media but it does not end there. How about the (national press club) and the (kapisanan ng mga brodkaster ng pilipinas), do you mean to say you won't toe the line of these agencies simply because you want "the public" to police you even if you committed grave abuse with your power to write or broadcast for that matter? i am wowed by your way of thinking.

Would you mind sticking to the issue on pdi and whether they broke senate rules or simply lied?

Do you honestly think that private media is not as dirty even more dirty than government-run media entities? (that would be a big bad wolf laugh for me).

But of course, you will close ranks with your colleagues. It's expected.