Saturday, June 30, 2007

Trillanes On Day One

NTONIO TRILLANES IV wasted no time at all on niceties and pleasantries. Moments after taking his oath yesterday, he fired off a sharp salvo at Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri's end-run on the Senate winning circle. He said Migz must "know deep in his heart" that he "was part of, or benefitted from cheating" [in Maguindanao and elsewhere]:

I'm all for self-restraint myself, but I'm putting myself in his shoes just for today, and feeling the vertigo of the last four years! I'm thinking of what Trillanes has gone through to get to the Senate, compared to Migz and really, everybody else. His candidacy is probably the really big story of these elections. For now, people just can't help but cheer this guy on, because he is living proof that Democracy is a potent and powerful force of which we ought to be respectful, even awed.

There is still a mystery about the Oakwood Mutiny and the people have put him in the Senate for a reason.

Trillanes is not lacking for substantial arguments against the political etiquette of politeness and prudence, at least for now. Here is his reasoning on the matter of "being impartial in case you become a Senator-Judge":

Migz was mad, at one point even blurting out that he "was not afraid of Trillanes, just because he is a PMA'er" (in reference to the elite Philippine Military Academy from which Trillanes graduated) and seemed ready to challenge the other to fisticuffs. But Migz lost his cool too, and his voice was shrieking shrill when he was saying "..too much! too much!..."

Comelec is in a quandary, given the severe irregularites that have accompanied the process of canvassing the Maguindanao vote.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Maguindanao's Bitter Lessons

Team Unity's Juan Miguel Zubiri was quick to claim noble victory yesterday, saying, "I’m just happy and delighted and thank God and this country that democracy will prevail.” -- after the Supreme Court denied Koko Pimentel's petition for Temporary Restraining Order against the canvassing of Maguindanao province by the Commission on Elections.

COMELEC's James Jimenez was full of brio, declaring, “It looks like if there is no TRO, I guess we have every right to proceed!” By which I do believe he means that the Comelec en banc will convene itself as a National Board of Canvassers today, Friday, June 29, do some simple arithmetic and with the alacrity of a rat proclaim Juan Miguel Zubiri Senator of the Republic. In a sound bite that should resonate all the way back to the 2004 "Noted" Canvassing, Jimenez also intoned that the canvassing of votes is a "mere ministerial process" at this point.

The Maguindanao recanvassing yielded 195,823 votes for Zubiri and 67,111 for Pimentel. Pending the Maguindanao votes, the COMELEC en banc, which sits as the NBC, has already tallied 10,861,888 votes for Zubiri. Pimentel, on the other hand, had 10,746,298.

The Palace has cunningly used the clock after realizing that Koko's prayer could not possibly be granted for being premature. Now take a look at this provision in the 1987 Constitution on the Senate:
Art VI Section 4. The term of office of the Senators shall be six years and shall commence, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election. No Senator shall serve for more than two consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term of which he was elected.
That's tomorrow (Saturday of this week) that the Constitution says the six year term of the Senators elected in the May 14, 2007 elections "shall commence." Citing this provision and riding high on the Supreme Court decision not to grant a TRO, Chairman Ben Abalos can seem to justify an immediate proclamation of Zubiri as the 12th winning senator and let the next charades be enacted in the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

The lessons are brief but stern and stunning:

(1) Comelec can do anything it wants to up until proclamation because Comelec IS the election system under the 1987 Constitution. It is a Constitutionally independent body whose jurisdiction over elections is overpowering and unassailable. In the hands of such as its present stewards, Democracy becomes a Whore. However, the eternal moralizing over an inherently flawed system is largely futile.

(2) All the watchdogs in the world can howl at the moon and pat themselves on the back, but here at the very end of our infamous manual canvassing process, Comelec quietly reigns supreme. I am afraid that by letting the Media and the electoral watchdogs have a field day with expose and self-congratulation, the Comelec has transferred the moral responsibility for a clean and honest elections to the Watchdogs themselves. The Watchmen, after all, are busy with "ministerial duties." The strategy all along has been to use the watchdogs and media and Church as the moral cover for monkey business as usual. The bitter lesson here is that even heroic vigilance and world-class investigative journalism are not enough to stop the brazenly and inexorably corrupt institution called Comelec. It is rotten wood that ought to be razed from root to branch and replaced with a modern election system, like the ATM network used by the banking system.

(3) The real power of the Supreme Court lies in what it chooses not to do. Even Bar TopNotchers should not therefore lightly appeal to it for redress of grievances. Losing a case before the Supreme Court may amount to a moral victory but it is a public relations disaster that can be exploited so easily and cunningly by the other side.

Ricky Carandang on Mornings on ANC was hard on Koko Pimentel, quoting that old saw that "A person who represents himself before the Court has fool for a lawyer." This, because Koko argued the case for the TRO himself yesterday, but failed to convince the Court. The most devastating quote from him yesterday was the admission that he has only circumstantial evidence that the Maguindanao elections were marred with fraud.

What? After all that has happened in Maguindanao?

"Hey Rizalist, you're getting scary with posts like this from last Friday:" Maguindanao will determine the Senate President.

AUTOMATION is not a technical problem. It is a moral and political imperative. Else, let the Filipino people bear their chains in abashed silence!

Sing! Musa Dimasidsing!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Extrajudicial Activism

Former Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. has left a terrible legacy for the Philippine Judiciary even as he enjoys a nice retirement and sinecure in New York and the United Nations far from the scene of his destruction. For when the history of our epoch is written, the vast audience of the future will see the legal and moral chaos wrought by his most unwise acts on 20 January 2001 (Edsa 2 coup d'etat disguised as "people power"). His, is an accursed and misbegotten example of judicial activism that goes far beyond anything that other jurisdictions normally call by this term, (which is pejorative though often ill-defined). Indeed, I am coining a new term to describe the especial deviltry of Davide that has been loosed on the Judiciary: extradjudicial activism.

Why be fair when you can be famous?

It is necessary to invent such a new term for application to the modern Philippine Judiciary because the ordinary term, judicial activism, does not encompass the central new role being carved out for the Judiciary by Davide and several of his successors on the High Bench, like the current Chief Justice, Reynato Puno, who appears to be likewise gunning for a nice appointment abroad, perhaps to one of those Kangaroo Courts in The Hague. Moreover, the ordinary term usually applies only to actual DECISIONS or RULINGS that judges make within the context of justiciable cases brought before their Courts.

My new term extrajudicial activism however, covers also the illegitimate POLITICAL ACTS of of these unelected judges OUTSIDE of the normal realm of decision-making and adjudication. The prototytpe and worst transgression was of course Davide's overthrow of the Joseph Estrada in 2001, which he did in the Black Robe costume of the Chief Justice, but which was outside of ANY case before him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His duty on 20 January 2001 was to continue the Impeachment Trial of the President, of which he was the presiding judge. Instead he went to a religious shrine, and in an ACT of extraordinary destructive power, set aside the explicit requirements of the Constitution on Presidential succession and established the present regime of moral and legal chaos. (See the Comment Thread on MLQ3's recent post for an extensive discussion of Edsa Dos.)

"Ordinary" JUDICIAL ACTIVISM has various definitions:
The Harper Collins Dictionary of American Government And Politics depicts judicial activism as the "making of new public policies through the decisions of judges."

Black's Law Dictionary defines it as a "judical philosophy which motivates judges to depart from strict adherence to judicial precedent in favor of progressive and new social policies which are not always consistent with the restraint expected of appellate judges."

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy says it is synonymous with the term "broad construction" - which, according to the dictionary, is a "theory of interpretation of the Constitution that hold that the spirit of the times, the values of the justices, and the needs of the nation may legitimately influence the decisions of a court, particularly the Supreme Court."

When broadly describing the work of American judiciary, the Oxford Companion to American Law, explains that judges have been struggling since the nation's founding "to reconcile their role as impartial legal actors, whose rulings much rely on established principles of law, with their place in the political sphere."
According to this Comment for the California Law Review by Keenan Kmiec the term
judicial activism was first popularized in the United States jurisdiction by Arthur M. Schlesinger in a seminal 1947 essay categorizing the Supreme Court's members at that time, as "activist" or "self-restrained" or "in the middle" of these two. He identifies five core types of judicial activism: (1) invalidation of the arguably constitutional actions of other branches, (2) failure to adhere to precedent, (3) judicial "legislation," (4) departures from accepted interpretive methodology, and (5) result-oriented judging.

Kmiec cites a case that may become of crucial relevance in coming days because I believe it already foretells the rationalizations that the Philippine Supreme Court is about to employ also in justifying its recent resolve to look into the matter of alleged extrajudicial killings by the Military against Leftist activists whom they say are partisans of the CPP-NPA:
One extraordinary exchange takes place in the 1978 Second Circuit decision, Turpin v. Mailet, [FN107] which holds that cities may be held liable in damages for violations of the Fourteenth *1460 Amendment. [FN108] The case sounds much like Schlesinger's hypothetical dialogue between the Champions of Self Restraint and the Judicial Activists. A sharp dissent criticizes the majority for its conception of the judicial role. The majority justify their holding by stating that they are simply creating a "[structure] for enforcement similar to those normally fashioned by legislatures." They say that they are "[invigorating] the political process," that they are indulging in "judicial rule-making" which they liken to "legislative activity," and that they are thus opening a "dialogue with Congress." [FN109] This critique is grounded in the separation of powers, and an understanding of the role of Article III Courts. The dissent argues that the majority has stepped beyond its constitutional bounds by adopting the function of a legislature. This argument would resonate with the Frankfurterian Champions of Judicial Restraint, as Schlesinger portrayed them.

This exercise is relevant today because I think that Chief Justice, Reynato Puno and the present Supreme Court are about do Davide one better (or should I say worse!) by performing a similar coup d'etat as he did on the Presidency, but this time it is the Legislative Branch that is about to be victimized by the marauders of Padre Faura. Puno, et al, may soon lead the entire Judiciary and country into an uncharted quagmire of injudicious new "principles" that will lead to new "rules of court procedure" ostensibly to deal with the alleged political killings being conducted by the Philippine Military against militant leftists and front organizations of the underground CPP-NPA, all in the name of "human rights."

The leitmotif of this new initiative is the elevation of "command responsiblity" as a basis for imputing criminal liability to the entire chain of command for the actions of individuals within it. Here already is the beginning of this slippery slide to perdition:
MANILA, Philippines -- The doctrine of command responsibility may be used in cases involving extrajudicial killings, a Manila Regional Trial Court judge said Tuesday.

Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of Manila RTC Branch 26 said the doctrine was still “new” to the courts but that the judiciary was now exploring its use in order to hold military commanders and police officers “criminally liable” for their subordinates’ actions.

The judge sits on one of the 99 special tribunals designated by the Supreme Court to handle extrajudicial killings.

Pampilo said the summit on extrajudicial killings proposed by Chief Justice Reynato Puno would step up the judiciary’s efforts.

Supreme Court spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez said the summit was scheduled for July 16-17.

“In criminal law, a commander cannot be held liable if he is not a principal, an accomplice or an accessory. But [under] the principle of command responsibility, he may be held criminally liable if he tolerated, failed to prevent or played blind to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances committed by his subordinates,” Pampilo said.
The Supreme Court may be about to change this long-standing tenet of the law, in ways whose long term consequences may be unforeseeable. It is precisely the kind of "results-oriented judging" that Kmiec mentions in the fifth type of judicial activism.

Even though they are piously invoking the protection of HUMAN RIGHTS as their intention and Constitutional basis, there is every reason to be nervous about EXTRAJUDICIAL ACTIVISM as it is being practiced by the Philippine Judiciary.

I have perhaps been a little unkind, or even disrespectful and cynical of the High Court, in suggesting at various venues that the "hidden motivation" of Reynato Puno is the same fame and adulation that Hilario Davide has so far received for acts done not as cold impartial judges, but as political activists, plain and simple, outside their assigned role in the democratic structure.

In short, these folks are fiddling with Machinery in ways characteristic of the 1987 Charter's penchant for over-reacting to a long-dead Ferdinand Marcos.

My suspicion is that after having blessed, tolerated and acquiesced in the fascist dictatorship of that sorry carcass of a president from 1971 to 1986, the authors of the 1987 Constitution tried to make up for their lack of action as citizens over many years under Marcos by putting many brave words and over-reaching provisions in the Constitution.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Milk of Prudence

The scientific evidence is undeniable that breastfeeding of infants for at least the first six months of life is the ideal and holds outstanding benefits for both mother and child.picture of a woman and a baby The US Health and Human Services Dept. summarizes these benefits for baby:
Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.

Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.

Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
The above article gives an even longer list of benefits for breastfeeding mothers and society as a whole.

But on ANC's Crossroads program last week, Tony Velasquez was interviewing a lady representative of the breastfeeding advocacy group, Aruga. When she was asked however, what conditions in the mother makes breastfeeding NOT a good idea, she said there was only one contra-indication, and that is when the mother is undergoing radioactive treatment therapy. Yeah, like how many Filipino mothers are in that category? Two? I was curious about this claim because I'd heard a different advocates say that "the only" contraindication was if the mother was sick with HIV/AIDS.

So I've looked it up and found the following apparently authoritative post from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia:
When should a mother avoid breastfeeding?

Health professionals agree that human milk provides the most complete form of nutrition for infants, including premature and sick newborns. However, there are rare exceptions when human milk is not recommended. Under certain circumstances, a physician will need to make a case-by-case assessment to determine whether a woman’s environmental exposure or her own medical condition warrants her to interrupt or stop breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is NOT advisable if one or more of the following conditions is true:

  1. An infant diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder

  2. The infant whose mother:

    • Has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

    • Is taking antiretroviral medications

    • Has untreated, active tuberculosis

    • Is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II

    • Is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug

    • Is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, such as antimetabolites that interfere with DNA replication and cell division

    • Is undergoing radiation therapies; however, such nuclear medicine therapies require only a temporary interruption in breastfeeding

For additional information, visit American Academy of Pediatrics' Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk* or read: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs. (2001) The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics 108:776-789. Available online at

Of possible concern is that USAID reports that the Philippines ranks ninth in the world in the incidence of tuberculosis . As for galactosemia, it seems one in 7500 live births involves babies with this inherited disorder.

Then there is the question that has arisen about whether many poor Filipino mothers are themselves healthy enough to produce enough milk for their infants. I am worried that the strong campaign launched by advocates of mother's milk is really another form of "motherhood and apple pie" that will cause malnutrition and illness not from the relatively low quality of infant formulae relative to mother's milk, but to the relatively low quantity of it available if mothers follow the advice of the advocates.

Naughtily Tony Velasquez also asked if the the current campaign might not become an occasion for "shaking down" the big infant formula makers, who obviously won't go away because there is a real demand for their product, driven perhaps by those unwarranted health and nutrition claims that the Supreme Court may now strike down and disallow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

General Antonio Taguba on Abu Ghraib

The New Yorker magazine's June 27, 2007 edition carries this story by Seymour Hersh:

The General's Report (How Antonio Taguba, who investigated Abu Ghraib, became one of its victims.)

This is a sequel to the Abu Ghraib story, which has served for mighty heavy food-for-thought about the war in Iraq and its conduct while Donald Rumsfeld was in the Pentagon. But it was riveting as much for that aspect of it as the personal story of one Filipino-American's journey to the top ranks of the US Military.

It's a heart-breaking story in some respects, as well as an inspiring one. I will take only a very short excerpt from the end of Seymour Hersh's story:
“They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”

Taguba went on, “There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff”—the explicit images—“was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.” He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”
Amen to that and I can only agree with the official statement of the US Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody upon being asked about General Taguba's retirement last January, 2007, calling Taguba, "an officer, a leader and an American patriot."

One thing for sure. This Filipino-American has done his duty and served his country well. Filipinos and Americans can and will be proud of him even if he now seems to have gotten the cold shoulder from the other Top Brass of the armed forces he has faithfully served throughout his life. America can only get stronger with men like him in the armed services. He is part of America's cardinal virtue of corrigibility. Saludo, Heneral!

Read it all!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Are Baghdad-style Car Bombs Coming?

ARS are not always so obvious.

Even World Wars, in which pretty much everybody takes sides, may be in full flare or about to be, yet many otherwise intelligent and sensible people DENY they are ongoing or imminent. Take World War II, for example, in which SIXTY MILLION human beings eventually died. From the time Germany invaded Poland in 1939 it was three whole years (1942) before America joined the combat proper, even though she was helping out allies long before. During that short interregnum however, many people were hoping and praying the nation would not enter the conflict at all. In that period, war was not obvious to most.

Such a state of denial is perhaps understandable given that war IS hell.

Yesterday, I was with J.J. Disini of the U.P. Law School Internet Initiative and Mr. B. Cadiz, as we were waiting to appear on Cheche Lazaro's program Media in Focus program and fell into a discussion about the War on Terror and the Human Security Act of 2007.

I have a nasty feeling that their thinking on this subject is quite representative of many otherwise sensible people in our society, especially among the Left Liberal Establishment types:

That the anti-terror law is unnecessary because the so-called "component crimes" of terrorism as defined in the Human Security Act of 2007 are already dealt with under the Revised Penal Code and other existing laws.

I guess they do not subscribe to the notion that the WHOLE can be greater than the SUM OF THE PARTS.

But consider for example the legislation passed against organized crime families like the Mafia in the United States, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly called RICO). This US Federal law provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed as part of an ongoing RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. This legislation clearly deals with crimes that are individually dealt with already in other laws, such as those against murder, robbery, extortion, mayhem, and other violent and dastardly acts. Yet no one seriously questions the utility of regarding the criminal organizations themselves as merely employing these crimes as "tactics" in the illegal pursuit of economic wealth and control of lucrative criminal enterprises such gambling, drugs, prostitution and protection rackets.

I think this is one useful way to think of the Human Security Act of 2007. It is the equivalent of RICO except it is "Terrorist Influenced and Nihilistic Organizations Act". It is an organized crime control law. Just as with the Mafia, so too with the global terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf Group, MILF, MNLF (in their "lost command" modalities when they tend to go on these decapitation sprees of Christian students working on a road gang) and the CPP-NPA (in their miserable everyday lives.) The WHOLE of their activities are greater than the sum of their parts because they are actually waging WAR on the rest of mankind,.

Another theme mentioned by JJ Disini and Mr. Cadiz was that the Government only wants it to go after its enemies in the legitimate political opposition using the terrorist label. I think this is basically true for the real terrorists like Abu Sayyaf and the CPP-NPA. But the political opposition itself (like Ping Lacson of all people and Nene Pimentel) has abetted this really infantile and self-aggrandizing idea that THEY are the targets of the legislation. That the War on Terror may turn on them.

As you can see, lots of people are trapped in the definitional quagmire and want all further discussion and lawmaking and interdiction suspended until some definition with metaphysical compleatness is achieved to their satisfaction.

My own definition of terrorism by the way is this:

Terrorism is organized crime for political and ideological purposes.

Readers should not construe my support for an anti-terrorism law as complete approbation of the Human Security Act of 2007, which is a law that was passed with so many amendments and compromises that I am not sure we aren't actually worse off for it than without it!

First of all is the "definition of terrorism" said to be given in Section 3 of the Law:
SEC. 3. Terrorism. – Any person who commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:

1. Article 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny in the High Seas or in the Philippine Waters);
2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);
3. Article 134-a (Coup d‘Etat), including acts committed by private persons;
4. Article 248 (Murder);
5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);
6. Article 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction,

or under

1. Presidential Decree No. 1613 (The Law on Arson);
2. Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990);
3. Republic Act No. 5207, (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968);
4. Republic Act No. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);
5. Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-piracy and Anti-highway Robbery Law of 1974); and,
6. Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives)

thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall be guilty of the crime of terrorism and shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole as provided for under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.
Notice that the law first defines all the possible component crimes by enumeration, but that it identifies as the distinguishing marks of a terrorist act two conditions: (a) that it creates a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic; and (b) that some kind of unlawful demand is made on the Government.

I agree with many that this is a weak and facile definition. Some have even taken to apt reductio ad absurdum examples like what happens if a suicide bomber just runs into a Jollibee restaurant and blows it up without making any demands at all?

My own question about this definition is what if there IS no extraordinary fear and panic but lots of people are dead and exploded? What if we don't WANT the public to react with fear and panic even in the face of full-on terrorist attacks, and they respond? In other words, while it is true that fear and panic are things terrorists may want to sow, they've got bigger things in mind than just scaring people, I would think. And the failure of any particular terrorist act to sow widespread fear and panic does not minimize its other possible destructive effects as components of a terrorist nature.

This makes me suspect that our lawmakers don't really understand the phenomenon well enough to craft a law that does not only what is necessary to solve the problem, but is also sufficient to do so.

Consider the following INSANITY in the Special Effectivity Clause:
After the publication required above shall have been done, the Act shall take effect two (2) months after the elections are held in May 2007.

Thereafter, the provisions of this Act shall be automatically suspended one month before and two months after the holding of any election.
The Human Security Act of 2007 is automatically suspended for three months around every election because Juan Ponce Enrile, who professes to hate Nene Pimentel, and vice-versa nonetheless agreed to this just to get the bill through.

Consider another provision that I think actually discourages enforcement of the law itself!--
SEC. 50. Damages for Unproven Charge of Terrorism. – Upon acquittal, any person who is accused of terrorism shall be entitled to the payment of damages in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) for every day that he or she has been detained or deprived of liberty or arrested without a warrant as a result of such an accusation. The amount of damages shall be automatically charged against the appropriations of the police agency or the Anti-Terrorism Council that brought or sanctioned the filing of the charges against the accused. It shall also be released within fifteen (15) days from the date of the acquittal of the accused. The award of damages mentioned above shall be without prejudice to the right of the acquitted accused to file criminal or administrative charges against those responsible for charging him with the case of terrorism.
I think this law is really damaged goods, but for quite different reasons than the Left, who may decide to rejoice in this insight.

As for the question in my title, it looks like ABSCBN News already has the answer as the city of Davao goes on alert for a possible car-bomb attack.

Hey Rizalist, are there any laws in the Philippines against blowing up old cars? Think Dulmatin has anything to do with this? I wonder how his wife and kids are now after we shipped them back to Indonesia with Filipino taxpayers money and the loving arms of the Jihad because the anti-terror law was not yet effective.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Maguindanao Will Determine the Senate Presidency

Who will control the Senate? The Opposition or the Palace? Believe it or not, I think it literally depends on whether the Comelec proclaims Miguel Zubiri or Koko Pimentel as the 12th winning Senator in the May 14 elections! The latest word is that the Senate is deadlocked even between Pimentel and Villar.

Here why. There are exactly twenty-two Senators already incumbent or proclaimed. Since incumbent Alfredo Lim has won as Mayor of Manila, only one more member will be proclaimed, either Migz Zubiri (Team Unity) or Koko Pimentel (Genuine Opposition) to make a total of 23 Senators in the coming 14th Congress. One insider's tally has the voting split evenly between Nene Pimentel and Manny Villar, as follows:

Manny Villar, Joker Arroyo, Ed Angara, Miriam Defensor, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla
Juan Ponce Enrile, Gringo Honasan, Dick Gordon, Pia Cayetano, Kiko Pangilinan (Total: 11)

Nene Pimentel, Loren Legarda, Ping Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Jinggoy Estrada, Sonny Trillanes, Alan Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Mar Roxas, Noynoy Aquino, Rodolfo Biazon (Total: 11)

Here the dynamics are complex. The voting is being driven by two major factors: (a) There several senators who have an "anybody but..." criterion; (b) There are several senators who are running for President in 2010 or are committed to someone who is; (c) Everyone wants to be in the Majority in order to get Committee Chairmanships and other perks. It's a kind of multiplayer Prisonners Dilemma from Game Theory, in which various decisions have to be made whose consequences depend on everybody else's vote. Thus a deadlocked tie at this stage is completely understandable, even predictable, since they are all waiting for the vote that will determine the Majority.

The thought that the Warlords of Sharif Aguak and dastardly bastards like Lintang Bedol have their filthy hands on the nation's fate leaves me weak. My source fearlessly predicts the following scenario:

(1) The Supreme Court will throw out Koko Pimentel's ill-advised petition for being "premature" and in the nature of "pre-proclamation controversy" over which the Comelec has "exclusive jurisdiction" (according to the Omnibus Election Code).

(2) Weakened by such a setback, the Comelec will brazenly proclaim Migs Zubiri the twelfth winning senator and let Koko file an election protest.

Based on what is known, Koko will probably win that protest...eventually...and serve one day in the Senate sometime in 2013.

If this all happens, Migs Zubiri will decide who the next Senate President will be.

Garci As Victim

BSCBN News Maven Cheche Lazaro had a sparkling discussion on the Rights of Privacy on Media in Focus last night. Her primo guest was former Senator and bona fide freedom fighter, Rene Saguisag, who is a compleat counter-example to the allegation that there is no intelligent life in the Archipelago. (Compleat for having a wicked sense of humor and a self-effacing equanimity.) His weekly email and newspaper essays make much appreciated appearances in my Inbox, as they are always quiet lightning bolts into the inanities of the unjust, the corrupt, the stupid.

Privacy is a broad subject, but the definition given by Sen. Saguisag, from a favorite classic on the subject by Warren and Brandeis (Harvard Law Review, 1890) is a memorable and pithy one: Privacy is the right to be let alone! Written at a time when the great controversy was whether a newspaper could publish the hand-drawn likeness or blurry photograph of a well known socialite, it is still relevant today in the form of the controversies which arise from the public's ceaseless curiosity about celebrities and personalities and the willingness of the paparazzi and the Media and Internet uploaders to indulge them. On the show, PDI's Rina Jimenez David, lawyer Raymond Fortun, and talk show host Mo Twister were discussing brouhaha involving a minor sexy starlet, Maui Taylor. (I am not so sure however that in this case the real subject matter is the Right of Publicity, on which showbiz thrives and would wither and die without.)

There were two main points I tried to make on last night's show:

(1) That the "right of the public to know" ends where the "right against self-incrimination begins." This is relevant to the Media, who are the focus of Cheche's show, but who don't seem to know the limits of Press Freedom in this sense. I believe that this principle is independent of the idea that "public persons" such as government officials and their spouses, celebrities and other well known personalities cannot expect the same degree of privacy (and lack of curiosity) that truly private persons have. Even a completely public person like the President or a Comelec Commissioner never loses the right to remain silent, which is the Fifth Amendment form of the right to be let alone, and can never be required to CONFESS to alleged crimes or to testify against themselves. The line against self-incrimination cannot be breached by merely being a public personality. Not understanding this was the source of the widespread frustration felt during the interrogations of Virgilio Garcillano in the Congress after he surfaced from hiding in December, 2005.

(2) The second point was that the Garci Recordings are not directly evidence of election fraud. Rather they are electronic evidence that a CRIME against national security has been committed, specifically against Republic Act No. 4200, The Antiwiretapping Law. These recordings represent evidence of a clear violation of Section 1 of that law which makes any such recording illegal without a Court Order. The fact that the voices of certain military men are not denied to be present in these recordings, as discovered in Senate Defense Committee investigations of Sgt. Vidal Doble and the ISAFP, means that the Philippine Military has been involved in violations of National Security laws at the highest levels. The wiretapping of the President, a Comelec Commissioner and dozens of private and public personalities without Court Orders are clear violations of the AntiWiretapping Law. The victim of these crimes was not only Virgilio Garcillano and the others as persons, but also their respective high offices, whose privacy of communications has evidently been breached.,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Mangun: Why Does RP Trust America?

[Philippine Commentary is pleased to publish this essay from John Mangun on a recent international public opinion poll of public attitudes towards America and its aftermath in the local scene. Mr. Mangun writes Out-of-the-box for the Business Mirror in Manila.]

Why Does RP Trust America?
By John Mangun

The recent survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and World Public Opinion dot org on national attitudes towards the United States again places the Philippines apart from conventional thinking. Our local Social Weather Stations conducted the survey on behalf of the aforementioned groups in the Philippines.

The most basic question asked in the survey was whether the United States could be trusted to act responsibly in the world, “a great deal,” “somewhat,” “not very much” or “not at all.”

Those nations who answered positively about the U.S., with the margin of statistical error included, included Australia, Israel, Poland, So. Korea, Ukraine, and the Philippines. An overwhelming 85% of Filipinos trusts America.

Although not noteworthy for the local newspapers, the results elicited some lively comments on television and on the internet. A sampling: “The picture of America's "goodness" increases with every check coming from our good FilAm OFWs”. “My takeaway from the survey is this: Filipinos' faith in America is like their faith in the Catholic Church. Unreasoning, uncritical, and unrequited.”

So it would seem from these types of comments that Filipinos are 1) mercenaries who only think about “The Money” and whose values are only financially driven or 2) are not smart or sophisticated enough to make a critical judgment.

My BusinessMirror colleague Dave Llorito came closest to my own perception of the results when he said, “There must be a way of overcoming this obsession (and higher economic growth is one huge step) but while we are still in this stage, we might as well enjoy the dollars and the Doc Martens.”

Underneath many of the comments posted on the internet was the elitist attitude sometimes so [pervasive in the Philippines. The idea is that the better educated are less inclined to view America positively while the less educated blindly fall into American subservience.

Statistically though, there was very little difference in the answers between the most and least educated.

Of those that never graduated from elementary school, 88% viewed America with trust. This compares with 83% of the respondents who were college graduates. Only 11% of the non-elementary had a negative perception with 16% of college graduates not trusting America to act responsibly.

The results comparing nation to nation are where the real enlightenment comes. One commentator wrote, “Many countries in the same survey that have lower approval ratings of the U.S. are not leftist. Also, some countries that are leftist (like China, which routinely violates democratic principles) have mixed results.” America fared most poorly in Argentina, France, Peru, and Russia. Therefore, it is apparent that political ideology has little bearing on the results.

However, economic ideology may be the factor that contributes to an individual’s perception of trust. Trust of course is a feeling that is difficult to define or qualify. However, it goes without saying that trust cannot be built without some sort of empathy, sympathy, or perhaps compatibility.

Economically speaking the United States is embodied in the idea of the “American Dream”. That “Dream” says that individual effort will be financially rewarded. That individual initiative and not government policy will ultimately determine a person’s wealth and success. Granted, this is the ideal but it is a clear concept from the alternative that the individual has little power and that the government ultimately controls a person’s future.

The list of nations viewing America positively is also where average individuals embrace this free market, free individual determination concept of wealth creation. Those on the ‘negative’ list are where reliance on government or the belief that economics is inevitably controlled by the government.

The average Filipino, I think, believes that he or she has the ability to control his or her own destiny. That Filipino knows that factors outside of his control limits his opportunities. There is great distrust of government because of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, and foolish financial policies. There is great distrust of the powerful, perceived as corrupt.

However, underneath it all is the conviction and confidence that given a break or given a chance, or simply not being held down by various external factors, they could succeed superbly by their own efforts. The government is not the path to wealth. That may be the “Filipino Dream”. And that dream may create an affinity with America far beyond balikbayan remittances, overseas employment, and American fast food.
Global Voices Online now has a post on the related matter of the medium of instruction language debate (post by Mong Palatino.)

A Jury of Eleven Million of His Peers


Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon is in a quandary over the issue of custody for the newly elected Senator Antonio Trillanes, who is charged with coup d'etat along with 30 other Magdalo officers before a Makati Regional Trial Court of Judge Oscar Pimentel. They are also being subjected to a "general court martial" for their roles in the July 27 Oakwood Mutiny--FOUR YEARS AGO IN 2003.

Now it may not seem that long ago, compared to the epic plunders for example of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, or even the six year Mental Conundrum of the Erap Case. But I think the case of Senator Antonio Trillanes is very different than either of these. For here is a case that could have easily lain in the eternal slumber of the Justice System Ooze and forgotten like the rest. Perhaps in this case Justice itself will not be denied by virtue of the habitual delay because something happened: the 2007 Midterm elections.

In these elections, the phenomenon of Senator Sonny Trillanes will more likely overshadow every other story of the election for both its short term and long term implications. His election is actually most emblematic of the indirect referendum hypothesis first proposed by Christian Monsod and One Voice long before the elections. It appears to be a signal that the people want PGMA properly impeached and convicted, since Sen. Trillanes made that a campaign position and promise. But the most significant implications are really for the Magdalo cases and the whole problem we have with the Philippine Military.

The people don't appear to believe the Oakwood Mutiny was an attempt to seize power in a coup d'etat and they want its leader, Sonny Trillanes to tell the true story of Oakwood in the Senate and to legislate the reforms that will prevent it in the future. I personally think the Oakwood Mutiny of July 2003 was the desperate act of desperate men trying to escape from the deadly consequences of a betrayal of trust by their own Commander in Chief to whom they had blown the whistle on the systemic graft and corruption in the AFP that has prevented it from becoming a proud and professional and effective fighting force against the various insurgencies, rebellions and terrorist jihads plaguing the land.

The authorities have had ample time to resolve these cases now getting long in the tooth. They cannot offer up the excuse that these detained military officers are rich and powerful Joseph Estrada and can delay their own trials because they also like staying under arrest. The Magdalo have been under military arrest and detention for significant fractions of their young lives and hitherto brilliant and brave careers as men-at-arms.

I think that there is a widespread sense that injustice is being done to these bemedalled soldiers and explains the election of Trillanes as a Senator.

Which is why it would be better for Gen. Esperson and the Palace to read clearly the lips of the people. The elections have overtaken non-events in the adjudication process that only serves the accusers, who were once accused by the defendants of rank graft and corruption.

Eleven million votes cannot be outweighed, however. Elections may be the antidote to the inexplicable delay in Justice--that it may not be denied--for has not a jury of eleven million of their peers adjudged Trillanes et al not guilty of coup d'etat? Or at least deserving of discharging the solemn duties as their duly elected representative in the august halls of the Senate, and not the Marine Brig?

He has not been convicted of any crime and neither Makati RTC nor the reported Court Martial seems to be making much headway proving the absurdity that the most valorous of the Philippine Military--its best and brightest bemedalled fighters--once tried to seize state power by capturing one floor of a luxury hotel building in Makati City. Not a single shot was fired, nor anyone hurt, as the dastardly plot of the Oakwood Mutineers seems to have been a hastily called Press Conference at the hotel lobby. It's just about as silly as the Davide Court absolving Davide of coup d'etata and declaring that Joseph Estrada voluntarily resigned and gave up Presidential immunity just four days after he was assured of acquittal at his impeachment trial. (Now there's a guy who regrets not running in 2007! For it reveals his real faithlessness in the Filipino people.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Why Is Blogger Forcing Bad Tagalog Down Our Throats????

I may be forced to move Philippine Commentary to Wordpress or some other service if this problem isn't cleared up. But other Blogspot owners in the Philippines are opening up their Blogger Dashboards with a rude and nasty surprise today. All the old familiar labels of the Dashboard, the Post Manager, the Setting Manager and Template areas, as well as the Comment Threads are now rendered in the clumsiest, most literal but senseless and idiotic Taglish you've ever seen this side of the Pacific.

This must be somebody's idea of a really bad politically correct joke, someone with a Ph.D. (piled high and deeper) who believes in cultural parity or some such nonesense and is forcing Tagalog down our throats.

There was no warning that this would be implemented. Certainly I am not aware of agreeing to such a major and substantial change to the nature and feel of this blog.

And I certainly won't acquiesce. Would someone put me out of my misery by showing me that there is a simple way to get back the old Blogger interface I and my readers have known and loved for the last five years.

This is an irreconcilable difference if I am to have NO CHOICE in what language this blog represents itself in.

Is this your goddamn evil-doing Google???? Have the National Artists gotten to you too???

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rizal Day Ought To Be June 19, Not December 30

June 19, 2007 was a red-letter day and I was especially happy this year to have celebrated the life and birth of José Rizál on tonight's episode of The Explainer with Manuel L. Quezon III, a most esteemed fellow traveler and searcher after intelligent life in the Archipelago.

But Manolo does not yet agree with my suggestion that the Filipinos ought to commemorate as Rizal Day, his birthday on June 19, 1861, and not the anniversary of that dastardly execution at the hands of the Spanish Taliban on December 30, 1896 (Accursed be the day and the hour!) Imagine! Every year we get to watch the national hero murdered anew by his enemies. Whilst we hum patriotic songs that sound oddly like Christmas carols. They shout, "Fuego!" and we sing the national anthem. It just doesn't make sense any more.

QUEZON'S ANALOGY On tonight's show Manolo presented a novel argument against moving Rizal Day to June 19 from December 30. He argues by analogy, saying that Filipinos regard José Rizál as they do Jesus Christ, as a kind of saviour of the nation; since Easter Sunday is considered the greatest holiday in Roman Catholicism, with Resurrection coming after Good Friday at Lent, Manolo favors by analogy keeping the present commemoration of the national hero's Death Anniversary on December 30 as Rizal Day.

I find this argument curious because Easter Sunday is NOT Good Friday, which would be analogous to December 30. Also which holiday is best-loved in Christendom? Is it Easter Sunday? Good Friday? Or is it Christmas? Which last, I did not fail to note in our discussion on the show, is the anniversary of Jesus Christ's Birthday! I must thank Manolo for handing me a line of reasoning that had not really occurred to me. June 19 is analogous to December 25 if José Rizál is analogous to Jesus Christ.

At the moment, José Rizál is trapped between Christmas on December 25 and New Year's Eve on December 31. I think he pales in such company, as even mere heroes cannot compete with the likes of the Infant Son Of God, Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, nor the stranger oriental gods that are targeted with high explosives a week later and the Infant New Year.

On the other hand, if Rizal Day were on June 19 every year, there would be a nice little kick-starter holiday a few weeks after the School Year starts. There would be in June a twin holiday (Independence Day on June 12 and Rizal Day on June 19) like Christmas and New Year in December! During the New Rizal Day, there could nonetheless be held declamation and dramatics contests, poetry and novel readings, and all sorts of Rizalistic things for students, teachers and parents to do in and around school and town. He already set the example in numerous fields of intellectual and literary endeavour, in science and in the practical arts which we now call technology. Every school and town could imitate the project of Crisostomo Ibarra in the Noli Me Tangere, to place a Time Capsule at the foundation stone of their local school buildings and, more importantly, for everyone to contribute to the physical construction, maintenance and continuous improvement of the local schools. Even civic leaders could create commemorations that recall his exemplary constructiveness, creativity, enterpreneurship and leadership whilst in exile in Dapitan.

On the show, I opined that Rizál is really part of language and tradition. In the long run, his contribution is as a Man of Letters, not politics. June is the month we begin Education. What better way to begin Education than with Rizál?

Let the Spanish Taliban pronounce "Fuego!" all they want in dark December.

Let the Filipinos sing and spell "Freedom!" in the bright sunshine of June!

Which Rizál Do You Like Best?

Project Gutenberg is fortunately digitizing a lot public domain Philippine material. One is the 1913 biography of José Rizál by Austin Craig, (then Assistant Professor of Oriental History at the University of the Philippines in Manila): Lineage, Life and Labors of José Rizál.

WHICH RIZÁL PORTRAIT DO YOU LIKE BEST? Unfortunately only the text is available online, but the original edition of the book which I've seen in the Ortigas Foundation Museum contains several color plates and graphic illustrations, photographs and facsimiles that are truly invaluable Filipiniana and are merely listed in the Project Gutenberg version. Among them are two portraits of José Rizál, one by Juan Luna, the other by Felix Hidalgo, both renowned Philippine painters.

RIZÁL AS HERO Craig writes in his Dedication:
The subject of Doctor Rizal's first prize-winning poem was The Philippine Youth, and its theme was "Growth." The study of the growth of free ideas, as illustrated in this book of his lineage, life and labors, may therefore fittingly be dedicated to the "fair hope of the fatherland."

Except in the case of some few men of great genius, those who are accustomed to absolutism cannot comprehend democracy. Therefore our nation is relying on its young men and young women; on the rising, instructed generation, for the secure establishment of popular self-government in the Philippines. This was Rizal's own idea, for he said, through the old philosopher in "Noli me Tangere," that he was not writing for his own generation but for a coming, instructed generation that would understand his hidden meaning.

Your public school education gives you the democratic view-point, which the genius of Rizal gave him; in the fifty-five volumes of the Blair-Robertson translation of Philippine historical material there is available today more about your country's past than the entire contents of the British Museum afforded him; and you have the guidance in the new paths that Rizal struck out, of the life of a hero who, farsightedly or providentially, as you may later decide, was the forerunner of the present regime.

But you will do as he would have done, neither accept anything because it is written, nor reject it because it does not fall in with your prejudices--study out the truth for yourselves.
There is much to be commended about this 1913 biography of the national hero, not least is its freshness for having been written so early in our history and the memory of man was still fresh in those then still living. It documents his travels to Europe (Spain, Germany, Belgium, France) and America (cross country from San Francisco to New York) and trans-Atlantic to London and England).

RIZÁL AS EXILE: But the chapters on exile in Dapitan reveal some things that may be less familiar to most:
Next Rizal acquired a piece of property at Talisay, a little bay close to Dapitan, and at once became interested in his farm. Soon he built a house and moved into it, gathering a number of boy assistants about him, and before long he had a school. A hospital also was put up for his patients and these in time became a source of revenue, as people from a distance came to the oculist for treatment and paid liberally.

One five-hundred-peso fee from a rich Englishman was devoted by Rizal to lighting the town, and the community benefited in this way by his charity in addition to the free treatment given its poor.

The little settlement at Talisay kept growing and those who lived there were constantly improving it. When Father Obach, the Jesuit priest, fell through the bamboo stairway in the principal house, Rizal and his boys burned shells, made mortar, and soon built a fine stone stairway. They also did another piece of masonry work in the shape of a dam for storing water that was piped to the houses and poultry yard; the overflow from the dam was made to fill a swimming tank.

The school, including the house servants, numbered about twenty and was taught without books by Rizal, who conducted his recitations from a hammock. Considerable importance was given to mathematics, and in languages English was taught as well as Spanish, the entire waking period being devoted to the language allotted for the day, and whoever so far forgot as to utter a word in any other tongue was punished by having to wear a rattan handcuff. The use and meaning of this modern police device had to be explained to the boys, for Spain still tied her prisoners with rope.

Nature study consisted in helping the Doctor gather specimens of flowers, shells, insects and reptiles which were prepared and shipped to German museums. Rizal was paid for these specimens by scientific books and material. The director of the Royal Zooelogical and Anthropological Museum in Dresden, Saxony, Doctor Karl von Heller, was a great friend and admirer of Doctor Rizal. Doctor Heller's father was tutor to the late King Alfonso XII and had many friends at the Court of Spain. Evidently Doctor Heller and other of his European friends did not consider Rizal a Spanish insurrectionary, but treated him rather as a reformer seeking progress by peaceful means.

Doctor Rizal remunerated his pupils' work with gifts of clothing, books and other useful remembrances. Sometimes the rewards were cartidges, and those who had accumulated enough were permitted to accompany him in his hunting expeditions. The dignity of labor was practically inculcated by requiring everyone to make himself useful, and this was really the first school of the type, combining the use of English, nature study and industrial instruction.

On one occasion in the year 1894 some of his schoolboys secretly went into the town in a banca; a puppy which tried to follow them was eaten by a crocodile. Rizal tired to impress the evil effects of disobedience upon the youngsters by pointing out to them the sorrow which the mother-dog felt at the loss of her young one, and emphasized the lesson by modeling a statuette called "The Mother's Revenge," wherein she is represented, in revenge, as devouring the cayman. It is said to be a good likeness of the animal which was Doctor Rizal's favorite companion in his many pedestrian excursions around Dapitan.

Father Francisco Sanchez, Rizal's instructor in rhetoric in the Ateneo, made a long visit to Dapitan and brought with him some surveyor's instruments, which his former pupil was delighted to assist him in using. Together they ran the levels for a water system for the the town, which was later, with the aid of the lay Jesuit, Brother Tildot, carried to completion. This same water system is now being restored and enlarged with artesian wells by the present insular, provincial and municipal governments jointly, as part of the memorial to Rizal in this place of his exile.

RIZÁL AS OFW AND BALIKBAYAN A little known fact about José Rizál is that, like our modern day nurses and doctors, he wanted to become a medical OFW serving humanity in its greatest need. Craig tells how it came to pass in July, 1896:
Then Doctor Blumentritt wrote to him of the ravages of disease among the Spanish soldiers in Cuba and the scarcity of surgeons to attend them. Here was a labor "eminently humanitarian," to quote Rizal's words of his own profession, and it made so strong an appeal to him that, through the new governor-general, for Despujol had been replaced by Blanco, he volunteered his services. The minister of war of that time, General Azcarraga, was Philippine born. Blanco considered the time favorable for granting Rizal's petition and thus lifting the decree of deportation without the embarrassment of having the popular prisoner remain in the Islands. The thought of resuming his travels evidently inspired the following poem, which was written at about this time. The translation is by Arthur P. Ferguson:
The Song of the Traveler
By José Rizál

Like to a leaf that is fallen and withered,
Tossed by the tempest from pole unto pole;
Thus roams the pilgrim abroad without purpose,
Roams without love, without country or soul.

Following anxiously treacherous fortune,
Fortune which e'en as he grasps at it flees;
Vain though the hopes that his yearning is seeking,
Yet does the pilgrim embark on the seas!

Ever impelled by invisible power,
Destined to roam from the East to the West;
Oft he remembers the faces of loved ones,
Dreams of the day when he, too, was at rest.

Chance may assign him a tomb on the desert,
Grant him a final asylum of peace;
Soon by the world and his country forgotten,
God rest his soul when his wanderings cease!

Often the sorrowful pilgrim is envied,
Circling the globe like a sea-gull above;
Little, ah, little they know what a void
Saddens his soul by the absence of love.

Home may the pilgrim return in the future,
Back to his loved ones his footsteps he bends;
Naught will he find but the snow and the ruins,
Ashes of love and the tomb of his friends.

Pilgrim, begone! Nor return more hereafter.
Stranger thou art in the land of thy birth;
Others may sing of their love while rejoicing,
Thou once again must roam o'er the earth.

Pilgrim, begone! Nor return more hereafter,
Dry are the tears that a while for thee ran;
Pilgrim, begone! And forget thy affliction,
Loud laughs the world at the sorrows of man.

Thus the chapter on Dapitan Exile in Craig's book fittingly ends with a little known poem written by the national hero after he decides to go on his third sojourn abroad after four years in dreary Dapitan exile--to become a doctor OFW!

Oh, but why did he have to become December's balikbayan?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Survey Says: America Is In The Heart

The Big Picture with Ricky Carandang last Friday night on ABSCBN News ANC featured Dr. Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Stations (SWS); Prof. Clarita Carlos (University of the Philippines); and Manuel L. Quezon III. They were trying to make sense of a recent 18-nation survey in which SWS took part and in which Filipinos apparently rank near the top with Israel in their general support for the United States of America. A number of picquant comments have appeared in the original post so I thought some folks would benefit from having a record of their discussion. One is from Ricky Carandang himself, who says: "My takeaway from the survey is this: Filipinos' faith in America is like their faith in the Catholic Church. Unreasoning, uncritical, and unrequited."

Dave Llorito of Philippines Without Borders thinks this isn't really newsworthy, and offers that his newspaper did not cover it. I notice the Philippine Daily Inquirer has also ignored the survey. But I bet you if the survey results showed Filipinos more like some of the other countries in the survey (i.e., critical of America) that these newspapers would've HEADLINED the survey, as they often do when they AGREE with what a survey seems to indicate.

BeatrixPG is mad at me for calling Prof. Carlos a leftist ideologue and wants facts.

But everyone, please listen to the whole recording and feel free to make comments based on what was actually said. Much insight can be gained here about the Liberal Establishment and Media and the Philippine Left, and why perhaps they are so out of touch with the Filipino public and sentiment, as Manolo Quezon puzzles over. There is a truly surprising mystery here for many honest and earnest folks that deserves comprehension.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Spring Cannot Rise Higher Than The Source

SENATOR-ELECT ANTONIO TRILLANES IV was proclaimed a winner in the 2007 May 14 Midterm Elections by the Comelec this morning. There seems to have been a last-minute attempt to prevent him from attending the proclamation this morning, despite the Makati court's order allowing him to attend his acceptance of over 11 million votes giving him the 11th seat in the 2007 Senate contest. I heard AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon explaining to Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez why he had given verbal orders initially disallowing Sen. Trillanes from leaving the Marine Brig with his lawyers. He said it was merely "a procedural matter" that he wanted to establish. Gen. Esperon said that since there were two courts trying the Magdalo/Oakwook cases, the Makati RTC and a general Court Martial, he did not want a precedent set where "just because" the civilian court decides something that the military court could be "ignored." (Or words to this effect.) To which Senator Trillanes, then still detained at the Marine brig, came back with "civilian supremacy over the military" (or words to that effect) which seemed to hit home. In any case, cooler heads must've prevailed or Gen. Esperon got some better legal advice and backed off, finally allowing Senator-elect Trillanes to get to Intramuros and Comelec in time to even make the noontime news. He spoke with the divine Ms. Pinky Webb in a very relaxed mood for the first time since...the Oakwood Mutiny it seems...his hair tousled, a beard and mustache beginning to grow on his widely-acclaimed to be handsome face.

Armed Forces Spokesmen insist that Senator Trillanes will have to request permission for daily furlough when the Senate is in session and he wants to attend. But I think such braggadocio won't last when they realize what it REALLY means to have been elected Senator by 11 million of your fellow voters in an open, democratic election, and you were in JAIL the whole campaign period. Senator Trillanes was very gallant with Pinky Webb, saying he doesn't even want the Senate to take custody of him as fellow Cavalier Senator Rodolfo Biazon has suggested. He wants to stay with the rest of the Magdalo in detention for the alleged mutiny of July, 2003 for which they are being charged with coup d'etat.

The lesson that must be taught however, if hardheads refuse to learn it is this:

Trillanes and his men have been accused of mutiny and coup d'etat and held for nearly four years since July, 2003 when they uprose to denounce the Armed Forces' Top Brass of graft and corruption and dereliction of duty in running the military and not supporting the fighting men in the field (them!) in the fight against Communist insurgents, Moro separatists and terrorist bandits.

This singular fact was certainly well-known to the Filipino people when Trillanes announced his candidacy for the Philippine Senate and declared his intention to pursue the agenda of Magdalo by being elected to the Senate, even vowing to pursue investigations into military involvement in election frauds, in corrupt schemes and in the spate of extrajudicial murders that have occurred under the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The electorate knew that here was an accused mutineer and coup plotter asking instead for their mandate to pursue his advocacies.

And the People gave Antonio Trillanes that mandate with over 11 million votes cast in his favor, despite having little money and campaigning from the brig.

Such an eventuality cannot be regarded lightly. It is not an ordinary event even in a democracy where the People have so clearly exercised what I like to characterize as a TRIAL BY ELECTION in which the electorate itself has set itself up as a JURY.

This is of course essentially a political or philosophical argument, not a legal one. But I think it will become very important going forward as the conditions of his service as a Senator of the Republic are settled.

It is simply inconceivable to me that Hermogenes Esperon will have his way. There are already 11 million vetos over whatever power he can claim over Trillanes. They've hgad their chance for four long years to prove their charges. Now the people have spoken.

They will not be able to ignore such a popular mandate and strong moral backing as Sonny Trillanes has received.

It all remains to be seen what this youngest of Senators will do with such golden opportunity. Will he fall to the Left? the Right? or the Just?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SWS Survey Proves the Historic Failure of the Left

Professor Clarita Carlos, Manuel L. Quezon III and Ricky Carandang (ANC, The Big Picture) were having a hard time swallowing the results of recent Social Weather Stations poll FILIPINOS RANK HIGH IN SUPPORTING THE U.S. IN WORLD AFFAIRS, ACCORDING TO 18-NATION SURVEY which SWS's Dr. Mahar Mangahas presented.
Filipinos rank high in supporting the United States in world affairs, according to recent surveys done by Social Weather Stations in cooperation with an 18-nation study of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) and (WPO).

Filipinos rank first in trusting the US to act responsibly in the world, first in disagreeing that the US is playing the role of world policeman too much, first in supporting long-term US military bases overseas, and third in feeling that the US should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems.

The survey questions were designed by CCGA and WPO, but some countries did not implement all the questions. The national polling organizations agreed to wait for the full global results before announcing their individual findings. The Philippine report, done by SWS, was one of the first to be completed.
Among the eighteen nations surveyed, the degree of "affection" for the United States and George W. Bush among Filipinos was most comparable with that of Israel. I am not surprised. Israel is a Jewish state surrounded by Arab and Islamic states. The Philippines the only Christian nation in Asia, surrounded by Muslim and Buddhist countries. Cultural and historical ties with America, as well as personal and family ties go a long way to explaining the surveys.

Professor Carlos was gritting her teeth at the end after Mahar said the survey's significance was it shows where Filipinos and other nation's publics really stand on America. She vowed to assign the survey results to her students at the University of the Philippines for them to look into "all the dimensions of surveying". She was trying really hard to insinuate that if we could just poll the intelligent or "well-informed" people in the Philippines, the results wouldn't be so embarrassing to resentful and ideological anti-Americans.

MLQ3 was more perceptive with the view that most pundits and academics are way out of step with the thinking of the Filipino people. He, I think, accepts the validity of the surveys (after all they are the same SWS surveys that we know and love or hate.)

Mahar also points out that one of out two families in Metro Manila has a direct personal or family connection with the United States; nationwide the ratio he says is one in four to one in five. He says the bases for the observed data appear to be personal and economic. We are in a favored position as a source of labor, highly skilled labor like nurses and doctors and teachers.

But the significance of the survey is clear to me: the Left has failed to win the hearts and minds of Filipinos. SWS has the quantitative proof of it! For all their domination of schools, newspapers, radio and television, for all their noisome rallying and demonstrating against US Imperialism in a host of issues ranging from Iraq to Nicole, the Left seems to have little to show for it efforts but the cold shoulder of the Filipinos.

What is Better? To Be Right or To Be Fair?

The Prosecution in the proceedings against Joseph Estrada for plunder before the Sandiganbayan make an appeal to History that sounds a little bit like making Erap pay for Marcos' sins. I think they must resort to this type of argument because their legal case is weak and in danger of failing right here to save everybody else higher up in the Judiciary the painful embarrassment of having to adjudicate it any further.

In this post however, I wish to present a novel reduction to absurdity (reductio ad absurdum) of the standard, politically correct, Civil Society approved justification rationalization of the Mobocracy that was Edsa Dos:

(1) A duly elected President of the Republic was impeached by the Lower House in November, 2000.

(2) Trial at the Senate, with the Supreme Court Chief Justice presiding, proceeded forthwith, in December, 2000.

(3) On January 16, 2001 a vote was taken by the Senator Judges on a matter known as the Second Envelope. Whatever the merits, if any, of that decision, it was perfectly in compliance with the Rules of the Senate Impeachment Trial. But it clearly demonstrated that indeed there was not then two thirds of the Senate likely to convict the accused. Indeed, the events of that Tuesday proved that the accused actually had more than enough votes to win acquittal. THAT was the real message of the Second Envelope Vote.

(4) Whereupon, reneging upon his sworn of Oath to prosecute the case of the accused on behalf of the House of Representatives, it appears that the Chief House Prosecutor and is entire team walked out on the Impeachment Trial, and the Presiding Judge in the subsequent days made absolutely no effort to reconvene said Trial.

(5) On 20 January 2001, as construed by the Supreme Court in March, 2001, then President Joseph Estrada voluntarily and constructively RESIGNED the Presidency, voluntarily and constructively SURRENDERED his immunity from all criminal and civil suits.

(6) Also on 20 January 2001, also as construed by the Supreme Court in March 2001, Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., (instead of reconvening the Senate Impeachment Trial as was his clear duty) then administered the Oath of Office as Acting President to then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

QUESTION: Because of the "Craven Eleven's" Second Envelope vote, by 16 January 2001, Erap was already sure of being acquitted. Why would he voluntarily resign, as the Supreme Court concluded, just four days later, and give up Presidential immunity?

Then for the next six years claim as a defense against plunder that he never resigned and was still immune from criminal suit. The Official, Politically Correct History makes less and less sense as the passage of time only shows how fully absurd it is. Occam's Razor produces the simplest possible explanation for all the facts as we know them. Erap did not voluntarily resign at Edsa Dos, but was overthrown and forced out upon threat of violence and death. The Presidency was vacated and filled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, without whose positive and putschistic action, the Senate impeachment trial would simply have reconvened and proceeded on to ACQUITTAL.

This is not some kind of argument for a restoration of Erap to the Presidency. It isn't really even about Erap, per se, but the Justice system and our self-respect.

We are faced with a present moral dilemma:

In my own opinion it would not have been morally or poetically RIGHT that Joseph Estrada be acquitted at the Senate Impeachment Trial because I believe he was unworthy to be President and deserved to be impeached, convicted and forever banned from Public Office.

YET it would have been FAIR and in keeping with DUE PROCESS that the Trial continued, EVEN IF that meant Erap would then escape Justice, at least at that point.

As time passes, the difference between those who still support what happened at Edsa Dos and those that don't, will become more clearly the difference between what one thinks is BETTER in this case: to be RIGHT or to be FAIR.

Indeed, the question lingers over the very fate of Joseph Estrada: should we be right, or should we be fair?

(Related: The Kangaroo Court of Australia)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Song of Musa Dimasidsing

Rizal took bullets to the heart,
Ninoy took bullets to the head,
He's taken bullets to the teeth.
Musa Dimasidsing is he!

Listen now oh Maguindanao,

Hear the sound as the whistle blows.

It blows for thee, warlord zeroes.
Musa Dimasidsing is free!

In our hearts where go the heroes
Truth sings Musa Dimasidsing
Brave as Musa Dimasidsing
So shall all Filipinos be!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Would Gloria Move Christmas for Holiday Economics?

OLIDAY ECONOMICS in the form of a three-day weekend is the reason given by the President for having moved today's June 12 Philippine Independence Day holiday which falls on a Tuesday to Monday, June 11 this year. No matter what incremental economic activity is generated by the long weekend, however, it doesn't seem right to a lot of people to be commemorating historic events on the wrong day. It's a mockery of commemoration. By sheer coincidence, Christmas (December 25) will also fall on a Tuesday this year (2007) just like today--Philippine Independence Day, June 12. Yet it would be inconceivable that the President would do to Christmas (and the Infant Jesus) what she has just done to Emilio Aguinaldo (and the Infant Philippine Republic.) I suppose the President has bigger problems on her mind right now, what with the House and Senate leadership battles already fully joined and the midterm elections not yet quite concluded, but already a major debacle.

At times like this, I wish I were an Englishman, with no need for or respect for such inventions as Declarations of Independence -- given what happened in 1777 (or was it 1776?), when colonialism and imperialism got its first shove into the dustbin of history.

FYI: THE LANGUAGE WARS continue tomorrow, Wednesday as Manuel L. Quezon III Squares Off with Dean Jorge Bocobo on ANC's formal but friendly debate program with Ms. Twink Macaraeg moderating. Resolved: That English Be The Primary Medium of Instruction in the Public Schools. 8pm on ABSCBN News All News Channel (ANC).

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Cavalier Club

The Philippine Military has been at the heart of three major historical and political events of the last six years: (1) Edsa Dos and the overthrow of Joseph Estrada, made possible by then Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes whose "withdrawal of support" (really a Mutiny of the highest disloyalty to the Chain of Command) on 19 January 2001, emboldened Hilario G. Davide judicial putsch the very next day; (2) the Oakwood Mutiny, which cleaved the Chain of Command between its top brass and its young officers corps over the issue of graft and corruption in the Armed Forces; and (3) the electoral frauds of 2004, in which the Military was implicated by the Garci recordings.
On top these, the AFP's three principal arenas of military operation are deeply political in nature given the goals and methods of the CPP-NPA, the Moro separatists and the Jihadists of Al Qaeda's global terrorist network.

As much as any other time in history, the Philippines needs a professional, independent, nonpartisan armed forces. Perhaps that is why the Filipino People have seen fit to put no less than four military men in the Senate.

When the Fourteenth Congress convenes, the Senate will have four Members with singular military records and remarkable personal histories: Rodolfo Biazon, Ping Lacson, Gringo Honasan, and Sonny Trillanes. All Mistahs of the elite Philippine Military Academy, now Senators of the Republic, let's all give a warm welcome to the CAVALIER CLUB.

Each in his own unique way, has already played a major role in the military and political history of the country, by being principal players in a number of major events and controversies that have also deeply involved the Philippine Military.

Gringo Honasan
has been a significant (if not entirely beneficent) national figure since Edsa 1986 and the bona fide coup d'etats of the late eighties. I used to think his becoming a Senator in the nineties would satisfy that romantic streak of Messianism in Gringo by giving him the power and influence to Reform the Armed Forces -- for which he once organized a famous Movement, RAM. But for some reason, Democracy did not quite take with him at least not yet. Here is a classic on Gringo from PCIJ: The Soldier as Messiah. At the start of the campaign, Gringo was actually in detention, but suddenly made bail in time to campaign, probably with the help of his old patron, now a pro-Administration solon in Juan Ponce Enrile. Gringo is accused of involvement in the Oakwook Mutiny of July 2007.

Rodolfo Biazon graduated from the Philippine Military Academy as the Goat of Class '61, but went on to become Commandant of Marines, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff (1991-92). After retiring from a distinguished military Service, Pong Biazon entered politics, first becoming a Senator in 1992. Currently he is Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security. It was his committee that delved the deepest into the true origin and provenance of the Garci Tapes, revealing eye-witness testimony that the Intelligence Service of the AFP maintained wiretapping facilities during the 2004 election campaign season and post-election period.

The Garci Affair has many ironic features that have only come into view with the passage of time. For one thing the strategy employed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from the very beginning, was to claim that mere possession, reproduction and distribution of the Garci recordings were illegal under the Rep. Act 4200 The Anti-Wiretapping Act. Which of course, is literally true, because its author Lorenzo Tanada banned ALL use of wiretapped materials illegal except under Court Order (when lawful authorities seek permission to intercept and record certain communications), OR as evidence of crimes that have been committed against the national security (as for example, when unauthorized spying or surveillance is undertaken by anyone for political, military, or criminal purposes).

But what the Conversations revealed about wholesale cheating in 2004, was Knowledge that ordinary people, once having acquired it through no fault or exertion of their own, certainly felt a right to it. The famous Public's Right to Know argument made the rounds as a kind of rhetorical riposte to the Palace's concerted campaign to paint the Garci Conversations as being "Poisoned Fruits" that could not be used for any legal purpose. The Public and the Media, naturally came to see the Anti-Wiretapping Law itself as an obstacle to "getting at the truth" about the 2004 elections, since the principal physical and legal evidence of the fraud were the Garci Recordings themselves. The Palace was using the Anti-Wiretapping Law to suppress media outlets publishing the Garci Conversations or posting MP3s of the actual recordings.

What most people missed however is that someone with orders from higher up, probably Isafp, recorded those conversations illegally, in direct violation of the very same Anti Wiretapping Law. But no one was very interested in this particular crime against national security, no one cared that the Office of the President had had itself wiretapped in order to keep an ear on Virgilio Garcillano's conversations just in case he was playing both sides. No one cared that the Philippine Military's main intelligence unit had been prostituted to a despicable and partisan political purpose. No one cared because they were mesmerized by the perhaps more glamorous crime of electoral fraud of which the conversations bespoke tantalizing volumes.

Most people, except for Rodolfo Biazon, whose Senate Defense Committee conducted the investigations that revealed the involvement of Isafp with the Garci recordings. Senator Biazon promises to take up the investigation in the incoming Congress.

He will surely be ably assisted by Ping Lacson, who wants to take the Blue Ribbon Committee from Joker Arroyo whose motto there has been: "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"! As Erap's Chief of Police, Ping Lacson has some reason to be disdainful of the dispensation that replaced them, since the PNP was never in better hands recently than in his, in term of respect from the public for a demonstrated corrigibility. His strong law and order stance and solid record there is unique among the Senate candidates this year.

The last time Sonny Trillanes was in the Senate, he was testifying about that still mysterious event called the Oakwood Mutiny. I am looking forward to his term in office for a thorough explanation of the beguiling events that led up to and followed that singular event. But more than that, I have a hunch he will turn out to be most substantive Senator of the Cavalier Club, considering his Cinderella story in getting there. I like his thinking on graft and corruption not only in the Armed Forces but in society as a whole. In particular his backing for a National Infrastructure Program to absorb the Pork Barrel is a neat possible solution to that national disgrace. It will surely puzzle other polities that we accept "pork barrel" as if it was the most natural thing to do.