Thursday, January 31, 2008

Media Asks Supreme Court to Make Them Immune From The Laws

The Philippine Media and Supreme Court may soon make history by proclaiming a Principle of PRIOR RESTRAINT against the POLICE. The Petition by journalists for a Writ of Prohibition against top govt officials takes especial umbrage at the following rage-bait from Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez...

They pray the Court "prohibit the enforcement" of the above advisory, thus giving journalists a virtual carte blanche to disobey lawful orders during authorized police or military operations. They want to be declared ABOVE THE LAW because they supposedly have Press Freedom. Ano, sinusuerte sila? This is not a serious legal case, but both Media and Supreme Court are determined and destined to make beautiful headlines together. Isn't that obvious?

In my opinion Manila Pen was an issue akin to that of Crowd Control. When a given situation is declared to be a crime scene by the Police, it is the legal and moral obligation of all citizens to comply with any reasonable police requests, orders or ultimata [sic!], even if they happen to be journalists. It is hardly any suppression of Press Freedom for the press to cover events from say 100 meters away instead of having to be 1 meter away from the blazing guns and swirling tear gas! Of course all the Sturm und Drang whipped up by the Press has obscured this central issue, that by disobeying the police's instructions on that day, the press unnecessarily endangered life and limb, not only theirs, but the police.

Upon close inspection the advisory merely declares the intention of the authorities to enforce the laws of the land relevant to situations like the Manila Pen standoff, in which Mass Media and Civilians with no clear chain of command and control created a complex and dangerous situation that was miraculously resolved peaceably. But it ended with the assailed arrests of some 50 media personalities who refused to vacate the hotel even after three police ultimata. Now it's them that claim aggrievement. The Public has turned a cold shoulder.

It was not our Right to Know that was endangered at the Manila Pen. It was the Right to Life, primarily of the police who did not know what they were facing in Trillanes' Little Trap at the Manila Pen. The Journalists who stayed endangered not only their lives but also that of the police. I do believe more journalists obeyed the police than disobeyed them.

THE PRIORITY OF LIBERTIES The rights of Journalism, as organized Free Speech, are actually the rights of commerce. Journalism is the right to freely buy and sell information of all kinds (”Speech”). A newspaper, tv or radio station is first and foremost a commercial enterprise for profit. Although the marketing hype usually invokes such things as serving the public’s right to know, it cannot be denied that 80% of media income comes from selling telecomm load and peddling movie tsismis. A nilpotent amount of journalism goes to such lofty activities as fueling corrupt uprisings to overthrow popular Presidents, though such sensational crusading is essential to the success of the enterprise.

Consider: a Waiter, a Journalist and a Cop.

Whose job is it to serve the famous Manila Pen halo-halo and satisfy our right to pursue happiness?

Whose job is it to report on the news event and thus satisfy our right to know by exercising the Liberty called Press Freedom?

Whose job is it to protect everyone’s Right to Life by upholding the Law and preserving public peace and order?

The Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, in that lexical order, are truths self-evident (since 1776).

But it is their PRIORITY as revealed to us by common sense that some journalists ignore.

The Right to Life of cops is most in danger of being violated by rebels and putschists. But the reason Waiters and Journalists morally ought to accept the priority of the cops doing their job rests in that ranking of rights and duties.

Freedom is a compound whose elements are rights and duties.

The duty with higher priority is the one whose corresponding right is has a higher lexical order.

Thus, although the waiter has the right to serve halo-halo, he cannot insist upon exercising it if the cops say they have a job to do involving public order and security!

The right to life trumps the right to serve happiness in a glass of Manila Pen halo halo.

Likewise the right to life (of everyone, not just the cops) trumps the right to find stuff out and sell sensational news.

WHY ARE SCOOPS IMPORTANT? Being so lucrative, journalism is a competitive industry. The need for scoops in Journalism is like the need of our shabu-addicted bus drivers on EDSA to "scoop up" passengers before the Other Guy does. Since most of the inside pages off prime time material is mundane and boring, all media needs the Front Pages and Prime Time News to have sensational eye popping news and views. Without such colorful packaging and gaudy wrappers and spicy calumnies, where would our brand of Fast Food Journalism be?

COGNOS UBER ALLES: Still there is a school of thought which believes that the Right to Know has the highest possible priority because of the honored place it holds in our Constitution and democratic traditions.
Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.
However, the absolutist interpretation of this provision favored by today's petitioners, does not sustain any vitality when one contemplates the dire abridgements of broadcast media's freedoms glaringly self-evident in their Franchise Agreements with Congress, abridgements they have willingly accepted in exchange for the lucrative privilege of commercially exploitating the electromagnetic spectrum.

Naturally, Hammers are determined to protect their right to drive Nails into hard surfaces. And there can be no possible ceiling to the altitudes of eloquence reached by the press freedom fighters of our day and age in its defense and their right to take the offensive on any and all Public Figures.

The job of journalists is deemed to be so noble and essential to the well-being of the masses that ANY interference by the Police -- such as daring to stop a bunch of rebel putschists from acting out "Edsa Next" at a luxury Makati hotel is tantamount to abridging the Freedom of the Press and detrimental to the Public's Right to Know.

Here is Maria Ressa's Statement upon filing the Petition today...

"We Have Press Freedom or We Don’t. There is No Middle Ground."

Statement delivered by Maria Ressa before the press conference on the filing of a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition before the Supreme Court 28 January 2008, Manila

Last week, 11 of our colleagues went to the Supreme Court to question the legality of their arrests after the Manila Peninsula siege and to ask for reprieve from the repeated threats and attempts to harass and intimidate journalists. Today, almost a hundred journalists from more than 15 media organizations join them. Some of us were among those arrested, without the benefit of a warrant – the largest number of journalists arrested by a democratic government while reporting on a political conflict. For those of us who were not arrested, we are just as affected by recent moves which we unanimously believe are designed to limit press freedom.

The line has been moved. For each of us, it would be easier to pretend we didn’t notice, but we know that if we do nothing, we help destroy press freedom. That is why we came to the Supreme Court today.

We take this action because we cannot allow press freedom to be confined to narrow physical bounds and narrowly interpreted principles, conveniently defined by those in authority to serve the political interests of the moment.

This is a good time to review the government policy on press freedom – after Proclamation 1017 in 2006, the arrests of more than 50 journalists after the Manila Peninsula siege last year and the continuing intimidation, threats, and warnings issued by government authorities in recent weeks and days. This is the reason why we, as journalists, have come forward to present our cases.

We reject any suggestion that we are resorting to “trial by publicity.” We are taking the legal high road because we believe we either have press freedom or we don’t. There is no middle ground.

The individual stories of the petitioners and plaintiffs in the cases filed today provide compelling facts that need to be presented before the scrutiny of the courts of the land in the interest of truth and justice. Our objective is not just relief, but for the Supreme Court to help us correct the current situation where, we believe, press freedom is being constantly redefined and constrained.

Our petition before the Supreme Court explains our reasons, and I quote:
“The arrests of the journalists who covered the hotel siege; the threats, warnings and “reminders” of re-arrest and/or criminal liability; the public denunciation of the press as coddlers of military rebels; and the treatment of the press as combatants are unconstitutional because they unduly restrict petitioners’ rights to free speech and expression, vitiate the freedom of the press, and prevent the exercise of the people’s constitutional right to information on matters of public concern.”

If our country is to remain the democracy we reclaimed in 1986, then, we, as journalists, should be allowed to exercise our professions, reporting events as they happen, when they happen. By submitting ourselves to the courts, we show our faith in the institutions of the State, regardless of how we have been treated by some of its officials.

Ultimately, the decision that will be handed down by our courts will influence the future of democracy in our country.

In the end, our democracy is only as good as we make it. The existence of democratic institutions - a separate legislature, an independent Judiciary - a Constitutional guarantee of free expression, and a free press, do not themselves guarantee a democracy. They only make democracy possible. Making it a reality depends on the men and women who make it work.

Our action today is media’s contribution to democracy in our country. This is our commitment to upholding it and making it work for our people.
Wow! What a perfectly hyperbolic piece of emotional blackmail!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Supreme Court Praised for Prejudging Hundreds of Active Libel Cases


The newspaper which has been slapped with literally THOUSANDS of criminal libel law suits in its relatively short 20 year career as the Philippine Daily Innuendo, and has hundreds of active cases today calls the Libel Laws "a tool for repression!" The editorial gives fulsome praise to Mr. Chief Justice Reynato Puno's latest circular (PDF) virtually PREJUDGING those cases in favor of the Accused. By limiting any possible punishment to fines for the Media Mavens and Moguls that are on the dock in hundreds of still active and unresolved cases, the Supreme Court really has USURPED Congress as it did in 2001 by issuing an unethical mass advisory opinion. It's a culpable violation of the Constitution, and an impeachable offense, in my humble opinion, but the High Court has already peed all over the only Constitutional process by which they themselves can be held to Public Accountability, the impeachment process. Now with the help of Media, they will complete the legal cuckolding of the Congress by unelected Judges in Black Robes.

Although we are obliged to defend PDI's right to Press Freedom, we also have Freedom of Speech so, "Har dee har har!" While the swinging door of observation is momentarily ajar, let us see what mental illness has seized some in the Media and why they are really buttering up the Supreme Court with promises of undying glory and praise in its Front Pages yet to be...

Every Freedom is a compound composed of two basic elements: Rights and a Duties.

The Rights to Life, Liberty and the various pursuits of happiness, are well known. But what are the corresponding Duties? The answer lies in the Principle of Equal Liberty for each citizen. I think that in general the Duty that corresponds to any given democratic Right is the obligation to defend that same Right in others whenever we decide to exercise a given Freedom.

The Right to Life always comes with the Duty to defend an equal "freedom from unjust death" in others as much as for ourselves. The principle of self-defense is a natural derivative.

So too, with "Liberty" and "Pursuit of Happiness". We cannot enjoy these freedoms unless we recognize, as a matter of Social Contract and Common Sense, that an equal right to them exists in others. The preternatural assumption of a Constitutional Democracy, as a Social Contract, is that those who are agreeing to be bound by its provisions, do not know, a priori, what their social class, economic status, political position or personal circumstances are going to be in History. So that in choosing the basic principles that are to govern their association as a society, they are forced to choose principles based solely on the Principle of Equal Liberty for all.

Let us take Press Freedom. Journalism is really an organized, commercialized form of free speech, a freedom of assembly as it were, which includes and relies upon commercial rights to survive buying and selling information--all kinds of information. Thus Press Freedom covers not only the freedom to report the news, it is also the right to sell telecomm load.

The Right to Liberty is an omnibus right to an expandable list of freedoms that human societies specifically recognize as the Bill of Rights. The duty that attaches to each one is specific to that right, but all are governed by: "My Liberty Is Your Liberty!" whenever controversies arise among individuals and institutions.

What the media has now lost sight of is Father Joaquin Bernas' dictum that journalists do not have "more" freedom of speech than ordinary citizens, so that in matters of public security andorder, they should accept lawful authority and not prop themselves up above the law by standing on the shoulders of their Sacred Cow. My critique of the Mass Media in the Manila Pen controversy is based on this Principle of Equal Liberty when it comes to Freedom of Speech.

The latest escalation in the Radical Media's War on the Cops is getting a usual noisy send off over at Ellen Tordesillas blog, where I've been hanging around this week adding to the general atmosphere of Sturm und Drang.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Oh Boy, Obama!

Via Washington Post, this is the Victory Speech of Senator Barack Obama after taking the South Carolina primary 55% to 27% against Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (19%).

I think this makes the race on the Democratic side much more interesting, and gives Republicans a lot to think about in the coming months.

Who would they rather run against? And what if Hillary and Obama run together? What if they don't!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Usurper Judges Are Brazenly Making Laws

hen will we ever learn?
There is no way of reading the 1987 Constitution's Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) without being dumbstruck at the realization that even the mighty Supreme Court's judicial powers are reduced to NIL in ALL cases of impeachment. Here we see the Separation of Powers principle at work. The Congress has the sole and exclusive power under the Constitution to initiate, try and decide with finality ALL cases of impeachment. Although it is a power exercised by the Political Branch of the Govt, impeachment is essentially a judicial power given to the Legislature, an important piece of the Judiciary's power that is taken away from them and entirely given to the Congress.

The Supreme Court has absolutely zero jurisdiction in all matters involving impeachment. And of course that only makes sense since the Judiciary has the largest number of IMPEACHABLE public officers with 15 Justices, followed by Comelec with 7; the Commission on Audit and Civil Service each with 3; the President, Vice President and Ombudsman. The Congress has NO impeachable public officials. That is why it is to the Political Branch of the Government that the Judicial power is given over the removal from office of this very select group.

History's vast audience already sees how the Supreme Court usurped the JUDICIAL powers of the Senate in 2001 and thus was able to overthrow a popularly elected President after Davide single handedly aborted Erap's acquittal at impeachment trial. Our democracy is still reeling from that usurpation and now they are at it again. This time they want to steal the LEGISLATIVE powers of Congress. The High Court has issued an ADVISORY OPINION on cases of Libel, telling judges to only give fines not prison sentences -- something that is just not done by Supreme Courts with any sense of impartiality, wisdom and honor.

But this takes the cake: Chief Justice Reynato Puno says that he is willing to be impeached for issuing this circular on Libel, since he is only defending our human rights. Oh no! Another Davide in the making? Another crazed Bible toting utilitarian moralist at the helm?

The Supreme Court of the Philippines is like a demented Grandfather who who has stolen the keys to the family car and and is starting to take it out on wild joy rides. Again. It's our own fault of course, for not taking away those Keys in 2001 after the same Crazy Old Man grabbed the Wheel from the Senate and usurped the Congress' sole and exclusive Driver's License in all cases of impeachment. The High Court threw Joseph Estrada out of the Car and put Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Driver's seat. To accomplish that feat, the Supreme Court in March 2001 had to utterly destroy the Wall of Separation between the Congress and the Judiciary in an historic case of presidential impeachment and trial. It is a FACT never mentioned by Edsa Dos Die Hards, that the power to try ALL cases of impeachment lies exclusively, entirely, and with finality in the Senate. That this exclusive power was USURPED by Hilario Davide and the 2001 judges is a festering and open wound. More than that, it has become a bad habit with the Court to exercise Unelected Judges People Power.

While the Nice People's Army and its crypto-supporters would like us to believe that the Government is engaged in a spree of extajudicial killings against leftist activists and journalists, please note that the person just arrested with and charged for the murder of Davao's Fernando "Batman" Lintuan is another media man in the same radio station!

Ricky Carandang has the ominous sounds of JDV's speakership creaking, in The Night of the Long Knives. Gloria telephoned specifically to call it off.

The Equalizer has a picture pretty postcard of the BURJ AL ARAB short time motel that the President is staying in whilst visiting Arabie (for up to $10,000 a night!)

Speaking of purty pictures, Senor Enrique (2007 Best Photography Blog Award)
covers the YKL Photo gigue at Glorietta (they've cleaned out the Basement, promise!)

John Marzan is unhappy because the new Comelec chairman is 75 years old. Dick Gordon's motto could be relevant: "What we need is not a change OF men, but a change IN men. In the case of our election system, we need a change in the system.

Manila Bulletin Online reports on the nearly $20 million donation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the International Rice Research Institute.

Patricia Evangelista manages to write a really lengthy summary of the Manila Pen Standoff without once mentioning Senator Sonny Trillanes and Capt. Danilo Lim, or the Arrest Warrants that the police were trying to serve on them for criminal contempt of Court. She is mastering the genre of journalism that deftly changes the subject and turns the tables on the authorities by invoking the victimological card: we are being oppressed by fascists. Ah, Youth is SO wasted on the Young, when talent serves not the heart but the tongue. Media made themselves the story -- now who's sorry?

The NDF demands, and the Church nods it's sheepish, tonsured head up and down, that the govt should resume peace talks without preconditions (except of course for their own demand that the Philippines first have them removed from the US and EU lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. They also consider it an unreasonable "precondition" that both sides cease firing guns at each other before holding peace talks. ARMED peace talks--that's the demand of Joma and his side-kicks, the ex-priest and ex-nun all living together in the Utrecht Space Station getting fat on Dutch Welfare.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Myth That Media Can Be Unobtrusive

Have a listen to Ellen Tordesillas and Maria Ressa talking to Cheche Lazaro about the Manila Pen incident in Part One of Media in Focus Thursday evening.

FM-Quality MP3

In Part Two, professional polemicists Luis Teodoro and Vergel Oh Santos took turns tag team wrestling Col. Nicanor Bartolome of the Philippine National Police, who surprisingly held his own and scored some good points by just saying it like it is.

FM-Quality MP3

I think Ms. Lazaro asked all the tough questions with a feather touch that elicited responses from her guests deserving to be Internet Archived. (Also the Senate hearings on the matter).

JOURNALISM AND THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE Here is one of the most basic facts of Nature that Man discovered in the 20th Century. In the material world, we cannot make physical observations of even a single atom without somehow perturbing and thus confounding its position and motion. The gravity of our mere presence, or the photons by which we can see it, or sound waves to communicate with it, all have some unavoidable physical effect. The mathematical description is called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but it's simple physical gist is that there is literally and physically no truly unobtrusive act of observation. No one can stand outside of Reality and have an omniscient view that affects nothing else. The Observer cannot avoid having a physical effect on the Observed. This is a Law of Nature that has passed every known physical test designed by the smartest people in the world to disprove it. Strangely enough, it actually agrees with "common sense."

But of course we don't need Quantum Mechanics to tell us that the same thing probably applies to Cops and Robbers, Reporters and Rebels, Photographers and Celebrity Senators, broadcast journalists and the real, physical events they cover, like standoffs at luxury hotels and attempted coup d'etats.

OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE The important question here is whether or not Manila Pen had become a CRIME SCENE, over which most reasonable citizens would insist that the Police have lawful and moral authority and ought to be obeyed even by Journalists. Lost in all the covering fire of the last few weeks however, is the simple fact that the Police were trying to serve ARREST WARRANTS for Contempt of Court on Sonny Trillanes and Danilo Lim for brazenly walking out of their scheduled hearing that day. They happened to be escorted by their armed guards and a troupe of journalists, photographers and reporters, as well as several civilian supporters. Trillanes sensed that he could pull off a Publicity Stunt and did, with the willing compliance of the media, who in varying degrees played along with him.

WHY DID THE JOURNALISTS BECOME THE STORY? I believe that once the Police had given even the first "ultimatum" for everyone to vacate the scene because they wanted to serve the Warrants, anyone left there after a reasonable period of time, would have to be treated either as SUSPECTS or MATERIAL WITNESSES, whether they were the rebels, the media employees or the waiters and hotel employees. I think the Mass Media unethically made themselves a part of the story when they decided to disobey lawful authorities who were practically begging them to leave because the Armored Personnel Carrier was coming with its 50 caliber machine gun!

It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to claim that Mass Media did not get in the way of the police on that day. They did, and they know it, but they can't admit it because that would reveal how wrong they were to stay. How guilty they were of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE!

It was entirely moral and legal and reasonable, in my opinion for the police to detain everyone and conduct a thorough investigation of all there present. Last I checked they could be detained with no charges for 36 hours. They should've been, the spoilt brats! The melodramatic description of their arrest that night is belied by video of the media men casually smoking while mugging for photo ops of their upraised wrists tied in plastic restraints. Also a fresh crime occurred at the Manila Pen, aside from criminal contempt. It was the very real flight from Justice of Nick Faeldon, possibly aided and abetted by a "lady reporter," Dana Batnag of Jiji Press.

THE PRIORITY OF LIBERTIES Vergel O. Santos does not recognize the lexical ordering of our basic rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Like Ellen Tordesillas, he seems no longer to recognize the basic government authorities and their right to maintain public order.

While Freedom of Speech is sacred, Organized Journalism's Right to Sell Telecomm Load is not higher than the Right to Life of the police, the waiters, and other innocent bystanders, or the reasonable expectation of the Public that they will maintain public order and security.

The Blog of Ellen Tordesillas is a good place to hang out and watch the fallout while getting a good dose of scream therapy. It's Bedlam over there! My pitiks: one, two, three.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Was Bill Clinton the First Black President?

Some people accuse the "rednecks" of the Republican Party of being RACIST and SEXIST. But that's before they discover how Democrats describe each other... More of Bill Clinton on the campaign trail in South Carolina (Hillary is in California!) over at the Drudge Report
NOBEL LAUREATE TONI MORRISON once created a sensation when she called Bill Clinton "the first black President of the United States," saying,
"Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."
Asked what he thought of this question during the South Carolina Democratic Primary debates with Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, seemed to agree saying that Bill Clinton certainly has some of the physical characteristics of a black brother...uhmm...he can dance! (As for the rest of his attributes being checked on and verified by her worthy opponent, a game Hillary Clinton suggested that this "could be arranged.") Haha! The gloves have come off and it's become a bare-knuckle fight in South Carolina. Barack Obama again leads Hillary Clinton by double digit margins in media polls among likely South Carolina Democrats. But then again, that's what happened too in New Hampshire, a contest taken by Hillary Clinton, coming from behind. However, the leading Democratic contender has apparently given up on South Carolina and is campaigning in California ahead of the big Super Tuesday race.

Andrew Sullivan, who is solidly in Barack Obama's camp now, complains that Bill Clinton is actually running for a third term, in violation of the 22th amendment, that he is fighting for his share of a conjugal power sharing arrangement that he also had with Hillary in 1996! He agonizes over the idea that Bill and Hillary Clinton will have four terms in power between them.

An interesting question bouncing around the GOP has to be who among the remaining Republican contenders has the best chance against either Obama or Clinton. Head to head simulation surveys indicate that candidate to be JOHN McCAIN. Unfortunately the GOP's core is "suspicious" of him, though Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani have their own imperfections. Mike Huckabee is said to be running out of money and of course Fred Thompson has dropped out.

Maybe it's like 1912: if Barack and Hillary don't run together (in either order), the GOP stands a better than even chance of keeping the White House with McCain, Romney OR Giuliani. But if they do run, say with Hillary for President and Obama for Vice President, Bill could have his third term.

In anticipation of such a Second Clinton Era, The Cunning Linguists at Boing Boing (actually Mark Frauenfelder) supply a charming vocabulary list:
Faunoiphilia (FAW-nay-FIL-ee-uh) - An abnormal desire to watch animals copulate.

Brassirothesauriast (bruh-zeer-oh-thuh-SAW-ree-ast) - A person who collects brassieres or pictures of women wearing them.

Eunoterpsia (YOO-noh-TURP-see-uh) - The doctrine that pursuing sexual pleasure is the goal of life.

Typhlobasia (TIF-luh-BAY-zee-uh) - Kissing with the eyes closed.

Amychesis (AM-i-KEE-sis) - The involuntary act of scratching or clawing your partner in the heat of passion.

Mammaquatia (MAM-uh-KWAY-shee-uh) - The bobbing or jiggling of a woman's breasts when she walks, dances, or exercises.

Ozoamblyrosis (OH-zoh-AM-bli-ROH-sis) - Loss of sexual apetite because your partner has wicked B.O.

Amomaxia (AM-uh-MAX-see-uh) - Love-making in a parked car.

Colpocoquette (KAHL-puh-koh-KET) - A woman who knows she has an attractive bosom, and who makes good use of its allure.

Melolagnia (MEL-uh-LAG-nee-uh) - Amorous feelings inspired by music.

Barack Obama at Martin Luther King's Church, the Ebenezer Sermon.

Here's a fascinating review of Jonah Goldberg's new bestseller, Liberal Fascism, (via Instapundit).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Limits of Press Freedom In Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast Journalism is a highly regulated industry in the Philippines, starkly distinct from print journalism. Radio, TV and Wireless are also Big Business. You must have a Congressional franchise to operate a radio, television or telecommunications network granting you the legal and commercial privilege of beaming money-making electromagnetic signals into potentially every nook and cranny of the Archipelago. Even straight into implanted nano radios or cellphones of the future! (Strangely enough, you don't need a franchise, if your Mass Medium happens to be mass-murdered trees with toxic ink stains that become half the solid municipal waste stream!)

A typical TV/Radio Broadcast Franchise like the one below for "Interactive Broadcast Media" is pertinent to the current brouhaha over "Press Freedom" triggered by ABSCBN's decision to allow Maria Ressa and Ces Drilon to seek Amparo protection from the Supreme Court. I think this was a big mistake from a legal and public relations standpoint because the limits of Press Freedom for broadcast journalists are explicitly found in their Congressional Franchise.
August 05, 1996


SECTION 1. Nature and Scope of Franchise.
SEC. 2. Manner of Operation of Stations or Facilities.
SEC. 3. Prior Approval of the National Telecommunications Commission.

SEC. 4. Responsibility to the Public.—The grantee shall provide adequate public service time to enable the government, through the said broadcasting stations or facilities, to reach the population on important public issues; provide at all times sound and balanced programming; assist in the functions of public information and education; conform to the ethics of honest enterprise; and not use its stations or facilities for the broadcasting of obscene and indecent language, speech, act or scene, or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, to the detriment of the public interest; or to incite, encourage or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.

SEC. 5. Right of Government. - A special right is hereby reserved to the President of the Philippines, in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order, to temporarily take over and operate the stations or facilities of the grantee, to temporarily suspend the operation of any station or facility in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any agency of the government, upon due compensation to the grantee, for the use of said stations or facilities during the period when they shall be so operated. The radio spectrum is a finite resource that is a part of the national patrimony and the use thereof is a privilege conferred upon the grantee by the State and may be withdrawn anytime, after due process.
SEC. 6. Term of Franchise.
SEC. 7. Acceptance and Compliance.
SEC. 8. Bond.
SEC. 9. Tax Provisions.

SEC. 10. Self-regulation by and Undertaking of Grantee.—The grantee shall not require any previous censorship of any speech, play, act or scene, or other matter to be broadcast from its stations: Provided, That, the grantee, during any broadcast shall cut off from the air the speech, play, act or scene, or other matter being broadcast if the tendency thereof is to propose and/or incite treason, rebellion or sedition; or the language used therein or the theme thereof is indecent or immoral; and willful failure to do so shall constitute a valid cause for the cancellation of this franchise.

SEC. 11. Warranty in Favor of National and Local Governments.
SEC. 12. Sale, Lease, Transfer, Usufruct, etc.
SEC. 13. Dispersal of Ownership.
SEC. 14. General Broadcast Policy Law.— The grantee shall comply with and be subject to the provisions of a general broadcast policy law which Congress may hereafter enact.
SEC. 15. Separability Clause.
SEC. 16. Repeatability and Nonexclusivity Clause.
SEC. 17. Reportorial Requirement.
SEC. 18. Effectivity Clause.

The People and the Supreme Court itself might see this as a cynical use of the Writ of Amparo, making ABSCBN look like a millionaire checking into the Charity Ward at the public hospital and demanding the promptitude of super-service.

Luckily the Laws of Nature are not as "fascistic" as the Laws of Men...

THE FUTURE NANORADIO BROADCASTING CORPORATION? Lawrence Berkeley Lab Research News reports the successful fabrication of the world's smallest radio receiver consisting of single carbon nanotube MOLECULE:
“A single carbon nanotube molecule serves simultaneously as all essential components of a radio — antenna, tunable band-pass filter, amplifier, and demodulator,” said physicist Alex Zettl, who led the invention of the nanotube radio. “Using carrier waves in the commercially relevant 40-400 MHz range and both frequency and amplitude modulation (FM and AM), we were able to demonstrate successful music and voice reception.”
The website carries a really cool video of the teeny-tiney carbon nanotube (less than a billionth of a meter in diameter, and one millionth of a meter long) viewed through an Electron Microscope, first stationary, then wiggling to and receiving the Star Wars Theme Song.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Sabong Journalism is definitely in the air now that a major escalation has occurred in the word war between Mass Media Celebrities and the President's Men. The usual provocateurs in Holy Journalism's clothing have put the Judiciary on a dangerous collision course with the Executive.

The Supreme Court justices are now being wooed by clever Media folks with a clear promise of everlasting gratitude and the keys to fame and glory, if not high public office, in the Front Pages and Prime Time Newscasts, to use those two legal confections from South America called the Writ of Amparo and the Writ of Habeas Data against their recent tormentors. ("Fascists!")

But there isn't anything magical about these bonbons of rule-making, it turns out, and one soon discovers their potential for abuse and record of corruption in those places that have adopted them.

TIME Magazine Exposes Corrupt Amparo Glut in Mexico

hat will be the future of the Writ of Amparo in the Philippines? You only have to look at the atrocious mess they've created in Mexico, where a huge backlog in amparo cases has made it the Law Breaker's favorite Writ of Delay, as TIME Magazine reports in its December 18 issue. In Mexico the writ of Amparo has been a major money making business for corrupt judges. With a backlog of a million unresolved cases, the Philippine Judiciary needs the Writ of Amparo like a hole in the head. The new "sunrise industry" for judges is getting a mighty big boost from the Manila Pen caper fallout.

ABSCBN television network employees arrested at the Manila Pen last December during Trillanes' mischievous caper, including media heavyweight ABSCBN's Ces Drilon, and nine others, have filed for a Writ of Amparo with the Supreme Court against DILG Sec. Ronnie Puno, Sec. Raul Gonzalez and Police Chief Avelino Razon, demanding that their arrests be declared illegal. But since they've all been released and held but briefly, Serge Apostol is right, the suit should be thrown out for being moot and academic. They also pray that authorities be enjoined from issuing further threats to arrest them if they break the law or disobey lawful orders in emergency situations. Ahem, those are "threats" to enforce the law! Are journalists above the Law? Susmaryosep!

A very curious slip of the tongue came from ABSCBN's Maria Ressa today talking to Tony Velasquez and Twink Macaraeg about the case. Ms. Ressa called the new Rule on Amparo "a new law" that has never been used before in this manner. She described their filing as a "test case for the Supreme Court."

Considering the high profile nature of this case, I really can't see how the Supreme Court can possible discharge its duties in a cold, impartial matter, since there now seems to be a conflict of interest, or at least of amor propio, between our increasingly activistic High Court and the authorities that must deal with threats to the State and public order.

I think this is significant on two counts. First, the Supreme Court is usurping the powers of Congress and wantonly violating the Constitution by creating a Rule of Court that cannot but modify, diminish or increase some body's substantive individual or institutional rights because the Media and the Govt are in a perpertual adversarial state of high polarization and their pending Decision cannot avoid that violation if it is to be substantive itself.

Second, it is becoming clear that with its "innovative writ of amparo" the Supreme Court has opened up a Pandora's Box that could further swamp and paralyze the Judiciary with useless, frivolous or malicious petitions, as well as vastly expand the opportunities for corruption by judges and other officials of the Court system.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention the year of that TIME Magazine Dec. 18 exposé. It was 1950!

Chief Justice Reynato Puno delivered a speech on the Writ of Habeas Data recently.

You know what I think about habeas data? It could threaten Press Freedom, Academic Research and the Right to Know. More on this in previous and future posts...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bernas Would Create Afghanistan in Mindanao Using Chacha

Founding Father Joaquin Bernas, SJ, writes in PDI today about how simple it would be for the Congress to enact Surgical Constitutional Change as a means of achieving peace and solving the Mindanao problem. (Yeah, right!) Never mind that it involves surgically creating a Frankenstein Unitary Federal Republic...
From what I have seen of the conflict in Mindanao and of the efforts to achieve permanent peace in the region, I have become convinced that lasting peace cannot be achieved without some significant changes in the structure of government in Mindanao... In my view, the search for a solution to the Mindanao problem can be approached through this “surgical” method. More specifically the goal can be either a reformulation of the powers that can be given to the Autonomous Region or the formation of a federated state for Mindanao. I believe that a limited constitutional change can be achieved by Congress under the present constitutional provision without disturbing the rest.
If carried out, the Congress could end up establishing a kind of Afghanistan in Mindanao. Call it the Federated State of Bangsamorostan, a kind of State-within-a-State, a single "federated" Islamic theocracy surgically carved out of the unitary Philippine Repubic. But we are assured by the good Father Bernas that such an entity can be achieved "without disturbing the rest."

Hashim Salamat, Eid Kabbalu, Nur Misuari, and the rest of the Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes in Mindanao's liberation front industry must be sharpening up their surgical axes already, while the folks that did Bali are eagerly looking forward to their new Base and Homeland in Mindanao, courtesy of the Philippine Congress and Father Bernas.

See you at Plebiscite time, Father!

A Mountain Maiden From Sagada

To the great human rights advocates sitting in their black robes and silken panties in the Supreme Court of the Philippines, I hope you will note these real cases of EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS even as you turn down the requests of the Anti Terrorism Council for you to implement the mandates of the Human Security Act and establish special courts to try terrorist crimes. Ever heard of the Rule of Law, yer Honors?

The Igorot Blogger (From the Boondocks) has not carried this item as far as I can tell, but there is a surpassingly beautiful painting on that website which I've taken the liberty of retitling with a minor modification in honor of Zennia Aguilan from Sagada, Mountain Province, who died just now from wounds she suffered in a suicide bombing attack by Taliban Al Qaeda terrorists on a five star hotel in Afghanistan last week.
GMA TV NEWS: Relatives and friends describe 31-year-old Zennia P. Aguilan as daring, adventurous, kind-hearted, and bright.

With this attitude, Zennia left her hometown in Sagada, Mountain Province after completing a course on physical therapy in 2004 to work in Taiwan.

Two years later, she moved to Dubai, then to Afghanistan in July last year.

Little did she know that her adventure in Kabul would end her life. Zennia passed away on Tuesday after sustaining serious injuries from explosions when suicide bombers attacked Monday night the only five-star Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital where she worked as a spa supervisor.

Wire reports said at least eight other persons died in the attack.

Shirley Lebeng, Zennia’s cousin residing in Baguio City, described her as modest and a very bright child since her elementary days at the Anglican-run St. Mary’s School in Sagada. “She was good and kind-hearted."

Lebeng said Zennia’s employer, a European who owns Spa Resources International at the Serena Hotel, telephoned the OFW’s mother and assured her of the repatriation of Zennia’s remains as soon as possible.

Herminia Aguilan, Zennia’s mother, is a retired school teacher in Sagada. She appealed to authorities to help bring her body home soon.
People who are calling for all sorts of "employment bans" on OFWs in dangerous places like Afghanistan and Iraq are wrong to urge such SURRENDER to foes of civilization that would just as soon place all women under a bourqa, or under ground, for daring to work in a five star hotel.

Read it all!

ABU SAYYAF STRIKES AGAIN: In the past week of terrorist activity, the Abu Sayyaf in Tawi-tawi, Mindanao killed a Catholic priest, Father Ray Roda of the Oblates of Mary, Immaculate, during a kidnapping attempt. They've taken a teacher in his mission hostage, Omar Taub.

This story is the true continuation of last year's series of MILF/MNLF/ASG atrocities beginning with another kidnapping: that of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, and not quite ending in over fifty Philippine Marines and Army personnel getting ambushed, killed and/or beheaded, with Philippine peace processors like Jess Dureza and Gen. Rodolfo Garcia getting in the way of police and military efforts to apprehend these nasty kidnap for ransom and glee cut-throats.

Father Giancarlo Bossi, who was probably ransomed to safety and then spirited out of the country last year, refused to cooperate with authorities in identifying his kidnappers and helping to apprehend them. Hmm, I guess when they find the killers of the Fr. Roda, they ought to note who might be running out of Italian liras and was trying to replenish their stock. Oh all in the name of Bangsamoro people's libertion, of course.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Edsa Dos WAS Mob Rule

EDSA DOS DIE HARDS are having a Healing Session for the hollowed out carcass of their cherished People Power ideology over at the Philippine Daily Innuendo, starting with an Editorial that announces the new politically correct incantation of what happened on 20 January 2001:
"PDI: "While the second epiphany of people power was not a revolution but a limited and direct democratic action, it is now understood by many to have been devoured at the table of history—that is to say, de-legitimated..."
But what exactly IS direct democracy if not a direct anti-thesis of representative democracy and deserving of delegitimation? I think TIME Magazine called it MOB RULE.

CONSPIRACY THEORY Veteran reporter Anthony Spaeth called it a conspiracy--
Anthony Spaeth (TIME Magazine, Jan. 29, 2001) : The more disturbing, albeit most plausible, theory of what transpired involves a conspiracy. As a macho former movie star, Estrada was held in contempt by Manila's business aristocracy. Mrs. Aquino is from landed gentry. Cardinal Sin has an understandable aversion to a President who boasts of mistresses and illegitimate offspring. In the mid-'80s, the Elite and the Church banded together to help organize Manila's masses against Marcos, a moment of triumph they have never forgotten. The fact that a high percentage of Filipinos loved Estrada was exasperating. Even more inconvenient was his grip on the Senate, which seemed to ensure that he would stay in power. The solution: to bring hundreds of thousands of Filipinos onto Manila's streets. But the Philippine polity is 77 million-strong. Was this a revolution of the Filipino people—or of a few hundred thousand Filipinos prompted by a few hundred powerful individuals?
DAVIDE'S DERELICTION OF DUTY On 20 January 2001, it all boiled down to less than half a dozen powerful individuals, most of whom are in this famous snapshot of the moment when Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. transformed the Social Contract called the Constitution into a jumble of Biblical fiddlesticks to be arranged and constructed at will "for the common good." Davide's ultimate treachery lies in his establishment of a Constitutional tradition that is rooted in the end justifying the means, a guarantee of results that Justice will always produce a good and moral outcome in every case, even if the justices have to resort to unfair and unjust process! Thus, Davide was willing to ignore the FACT that Joseph Estrada was on impeachment trial at the Senate, in which he was a non-voting Presiding Judge.

But I hope it has become crystal clear that Davide at the Edsa Shrine on that fine Saturday morning seven years ago, had absolutely no legal, moral or juridical business being there whatsoever! In fact, since the massive demonstration ongoing at that location was clearly and indubitably a PARISAN POLITICAL ACTIVITY calling for the resignation and ouster of the incumbent and democratically elected President, Davide's mere presence could be construed as a culpabable violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct which explicitly prohibits such activity by cold, impartial and neutral judges. His clear duty was to reconvene proceed with the Senate Impeachment Trial of Joseph Estrada, starting from the Tuesday previous (January 16) when the Prosecutor Joker Arroyo abandoned his own oath to prosecute Joseph Estrada in the name of the People and their House of Representatives. But Davide did not do that. Instead he did indeed conspire with others to overthrow the President, frustrate and abort the Constitutional process of impeachment, declared Erap "permanently incapacitated just before noon", and against the remonstrations of Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma, proceeded to the Edsa Shrine to swear in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

For years PDI described Edsa Dos as a "a military backed popular uprising that overthrew a corrupt President." But now that that "corrupt President" has regained not only his liberty but his civil and political rights, and indubitably enjoys the trust and confidence of the overwhelming majority of the masses, there is a touch of real modesty, if not complete candor in downgrading Edsa Dos from People Power Revolution to Military Backed Popular Uprising to Limited and Direct Democratic Action.

Maybe next year they will finally get it right: Edsa Dos was Davide's monumental dereliction of duty--his insane demolition of wall of separation between the Supreme Court and the Congress in the matter of Accountability of Public Officers (Article XI, 1987 Constitution).

The Regime Change that occurred at Edsa Dos was highly anomalous because it was brought about by the direct self-preventable actions of the Chief Justice and subsequent decisions of the Supreme in what was a clear CASE of IMPEACHMENT.

The inexplicable and sudden swearing in of the Vice President by Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. came, as far we know, upon his own personal initiative and immoral dereliction of duty, in concert with its beneficiary, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; with Jaime Cardinal Sin, and most with Pres. Cory Aquino who later confirmed these facts publicly. A later Chief Justice, Artemio V. Panganiban claimed in 2002, in a speech to seminarians, that the idea to swear in GMA in order to force Erap out of office, came from him.

THE SECOND ENVELOPE: The massive demonstrations at the Edsa Shrine which marked Edsa Dos were touched off on Tuesday night, 16 January 2001, after the Senate impeachment court voted 11 to 10 to exclude as evidence, something called the Second Envelope.
When pro-Estrada senators engineered to block the use of potentially incriminating evidence at the impeachment trial, public outrage exploded.
What was in the Second Envelope? The Senate later opened it to discover that it contained a letter from a Mr. Jaime Dichavez claiming ownership of the Jose Velarde accounts and an offer to prove the same. It was evidence, in other words, that was helpful to Erap's Defense.

Speaking of which, Edsa Dos Die Hards never tire of distorting this aspect of that historic trial, but they never make mention of the fact Joseph Estrada never got his day in impeachment court because the Prosecutor Joker Arroyo walked out and First Gent-to-be Mike Arroyo swung into action.

The trial was aborted by Davide before the Defense could begin. He made it moot and academic by swearing in the Vice President

Was that FAIR??

Manuel L. Quezon III, seems to think it might not have been fair but it was GOOD because it prevented violence from marring the hitherto perfect record of Edsa People Power as an ideology of revolution through peaceful if forceful means. But he makes the most curious equivalence between Marcos and Joseph Estrada (which I found unbelievable), perhaps to strengthen a Constitutionally weak argument:
No one has seriously tackled what condition Joseph Ejercito Estrada was in, during the crucial days and hours his government lost the momentum and crumbled. Looking back, it happened quickly. Prior to the point Angelo Reyes convinced the military’s top brass to, as he put it, engage in mutiny, the advantage, in terms of legitimacy and brute force, lay with Estrada. Even when the defections began to gather pace, he knew, somehow, that his greatest ally was time. Up to the morning of the day he fell from power, it seemed quite possible he could counter-attack by summoning reinforcements from the provinces.
Being the dipsomaniac that he was, there is no high level mystery as to the "condition of Joseph Estrada" in his last hours at the Palace, and the published diary of Ed Angara gives further hints. But I think MLQ3 misses the obvious point that Angara must have been assuring him that the Senate would restart the Impeachment Trial, proceed to a verdict of certain acquittal, and that would be the end of it after a few more days of noisy demonstrations at the Edsa Shrine. Trying to make Erap seem capable of "counter attack" with "reinforcements from the provinces" I find singularly unconvincing and a bit of a stretcher on MLQ's part. Erap was never a fascistic or authoritarian president.

What Erap did not count on was that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Hilario G. Davide would usurp the sole and exclusive powers of the Congress to initiate all cases of impeachment, and to fairly try and remove from office or acquit such high Constitutional officers as the president. It is a little known fact that the verdict in a Senate impeachment trial can NOT be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has zero jurisdiction in all cases of impeachment.

Less than four days after it had become crystal clear that Joseph Estrada had eleven Senators ready to acquit him at the Senate Impeachment Trial, the Supreme Court wants History to believe that he validly RESIGNED the presidency, without anyone actually knowing about it for two months, not even Erap!

I believe the vast audience of History won't be fooled. Joseph Estrada was illegally removed from Office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the most stunning malfeasance of Constitutionalism imaginable.

Davide nullified the Senator Judges verdict even before they could render it, even before Erap could mount his defense in Court.

In retrospect, perhaps Rene Saguisag made a mistake in suing Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after Edsa Dos, since she was just the recipient of Stolen Goods. The true thief of constitutionalism and electoral democracy at Edsa Dos was Hilario G. Davide. Jr., the Chief Injustice of that entire sorry episode.

On a lighter heavy note, columnist Randy David gets days and dates wrong in Forgetting Edsa II

Ms Arroyo has shown us the limits of people power. We now know that as a moral force, people power will not succeed in shaming an amoral president out of office. We also now know that as a political force, people power cannot topple down a president without the consent or collaboration of the military. This realization, more than anything else, has diminished our people’s enthusiasm for mass protests. I think that what we should realize is not the futility of people power, but rather its eventual impotence if it remains unorganized and naively dependent on spontaneous sparks of moral outrage.
But Eggie Apostol has done a marvelous job of organizing People Power having converted it to the boosting of the educational system. I'm sure Randy gets invited to all the soirees and tea parties.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fischer's Last Theorem: "Pawn to King Four Wins the Game"

Bobby Fischer, 64, former World Chess Champion passed away in Iceland today. Lots of people in the Philippines, some in Manila, more in Baguio City up north, remember the many years that Bobby Fischer spent here, punctuated by periodic public harangues on AM Talk Radio stations. Filipinos know what an utterly crazy and seriously insane being was Bobby Fischer.

Of course, when it came to chess, perhaps that was the necessary attribute of the genius he evinced as a practitioner, at least at his zenith. After all, it was Fischer who singlehandedly broke the Russian Bear Hug on the world chess championship in the 20th Century.

Bobby Fischer may yet be remembered for what I can only call Fischer's Last Theorem which has to do with perhaps the most intriguing question about the Game of Chess itself, which is this:


Bobby Fischer reportedly believed that the game of chess can forcibly be won by the side that makes the first move:

P-K4!! wins.

I wonder if he meant this literally and technically, or was just being macho? Maybe Fischer's conjecture will someday be proved, like Fermat's Last Theorem.

But who or what will prove it?

Although chess playing computers like IBM's Deep Blue and Deep Thought are defeating human grandmasters and world champions, it is a source of human pride to know that even the most powerful of these machines cannot yet CONCEIVE of such a question as, "Does chess have a winning line?"

Or know why BOTH the question and its unknown answer are intrinsically interesting, significant and meaningful to the Carbon-based units who dream of mathematics, and are already birthing the next generation of computers.

We make the rules. We invent the games. We are safe as long as they can never plug themselves in, or learn to ask hard questions!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Father Bossi, Where Are You?

THE TERRORIST ABU SAYYAF have murdered another Catholic priest (Fr. Rey Roda, OMI) in a kidnapping attempt last Tuesday and they've taken hostage a teacher in a remote Tawi-tawi convent school in Mindanao (Omar Taub). I wonder if Fr. Giancarlo Bossi ought not reconsider his refusal to aid authorities in apprehending the same bunch of kidnapp - for - ransom thugees that abducted him last year. Remember that the MILF and its ASG alter-egos could once more ambush and behead the police and military teams now searching for the unfortunate Mr. Taub, just as they did to those Marines who were looking for Fr. Bossi when they met with their gruesome end last July near Tipo-tipo, Basilan. The very least Bossi could've done was cooperate with authorities to prevent this NEXT kidnapping!

(via The Manila Times) ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf militants raided a convent in the remote southern Philippine island province of Tawi-Tawi and killed a Catholic missionary during a kidnapping attempt, officials said Wednesday.
Fr. Rey Roda of the congregation of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), was killed outside his convent at the compound of the Notre Dame High School, where he also served as its director, in the village of Likud Tabawan in South Ubian town late Tuesday.

Villagers tried to rescue the priest, but failed. Policemen who rushed to the school clashed with the militants who took one teacher hostage, Omar Taub.

“There was a firefight and Fr. Roda was resisting the kidnappers and he was shot and killed,” Fr. Rito Daquipil, head of the mission in Tawi-Tawi, told The Manila Times.

He said the priest’s hands were tied when his body was recovered slumped outside his convent. “We are all sad. Fr. Roda was a good man and loved by everybody. He was there doing missionary work with our Muslim brothers and sisters for the past 10 years,” Daquipil added.

Roda was praying when the gunmen, about 10 of them, armed with rifles and handguns, seized the priest and dragged him outside the chapel, Daquipil said, quoting a report from the village.

He said the body of the priest would be sent to the mission headquarters in Cotabato City.

The military launched a massive search on Wednesday to capture the attackers and rescue the teacher.

“We condemn the killing of Father Rey Roda. The Abu Sayyaf has no respect to religion and even an innocent priest is killed,” said Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

He said troops were searching for the hostage. “Gen. Allaga ordered troops to rescue the hostage and neutralize the terrorists,” he said, referring to the chief of the Western Mindanao Command, Lt. Gen. Nelson Allaga.

It was not the first time that the Abu Sayyaf killed a priest. In 2002, militants also kidnapped, tortured and killed Claretian priest Roel Gallardo in Basilan province, south of Zamboanga City.

In 1997, the Abu Sayyaf also assassinated a Catholic bishop, Benjamin de Jesus, in Jolo town in Sulu province. He was shot several times outside his church.

The Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the Sword,” was originally fighting for a separate Islamic state similar to Afghanistan, but resorted to banditry and kidnapping after its Libyan firebrand founder, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, was killed in 1998 in a clash with policemen in Basilan province.

By the way, thanks to Dave in Texas for sending me this great "postcard" of Vanessa Dobos, "the Real Miss America" who has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan. If my daughter or sister had to go out and defend Women's Rights and Press Freedom in this here World War, I would want her to have equipment like this, too.

Hey Vanessa, wanna come visit the Archipelago? We sure could use your help right about now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thick Black Smoke Rising Over Jatropha and Glorietta

IOFUELS were originally sold to the Public on the notion that using them is "carbon neutral" on the theory that the plant absorbs CO2 during its lifetime, that being the maximum released to the atmosphere when burned as fuel. Fossil fuels, it is reasoned, release "excess" carbon because the carbon they contain was buried with the oil aeons ago. But this ignores the environmental impact of the large scale agro-industrial projects required to produce biofuels in economic quantities and on their impact on agricultural patterns as a whole, which have not before been used to feed the SUVs! Biofuel cultivation could destroy forests and are none too friendly to human respiratory systems either. Worse, they have already caused food prices to rise. Plenty of food for thought. Are biofuels green energy or grim reaper?

FILIPINOS burn about 7 billion liters of diesel fuel oil a year, mainly in motor vehicles and power plants, all of it imported. In the age of $100 Oil, finding alternatives is urgent. But after triumphantly enacting the Biofuels Law last year along with Miriam Defensor Santiago, (who seems to be having second thoughts) Sen. Miguel Zubiri has been besieged by questions about the viability of his proposal to go into large scale cultivation of jatropha. For one thing, would not precious agricultural resources now devoted to growing food crops for human beings be diverted to what would essentially be food production for the motor vehicle population? MIGZ counters that he does not plan to use valuable agricultural lands now used for rice, corn and other staple grains and vegetables. Rather he claims, there are ONE MILLION hectares of fallow or waste land not suitable for food crop cultivation available for his jatropha plantations.

HMM...How big an area of land is a million hectares anyway? Since a square kilometer equals 100 hectares (or hectometer) Zubiri's million hectares works out neatly to 10,000 square kilometers. Wow! That's a lotta jatropha! And it's not supposed to interfere with food crop production, sez Migz.

The GEOGRAPHY of the Philippines is well known and we find that:

Total Area: 300,000 km² = 30 million hectares
Land: 298,170 km² = 29.8 million hectares
Water: 1,830 km² = 1.83 million hectares
Arable land: 19% or 6 million hectares
Permanent crops: 12% or 3.6 million hectares
Permanent pastures: 4%
Forests and woodland: 46%
Other: 19% (1993 est.)

We see that the total arable land area of the Philippines is about 60,000 square kilometers (19% of 298,000 sq km) or 6 million hectares of which 3.6 million hectares are planted to permanent crops like rice, vegetables and corn, leaving 24,000 sq km or 2.4 million hectares. These figures were as of 1993, so I am sure that a lot more of the unused 2.4 million hectares has already been converted to crop cultivation under strong population pressures, perhaps along with a good bit of that forest and woodland, with any luck, though gravity and biology might not allow it.

Maybe Migz Zubiri got his Big Idea from India because jatropha is BIG in India, and it looks like they may have a serious shot at actually making it work there, though that remains to be seen. However, consider the following points made in a comparison between India and China by Bhanoji Rao riting for the Hindu Business Line:
China has 933 million hectares of total land, a little over three times of the Indian land area of 297 million ha. Yet, the Chinese are constrained by an arable land area of 124 million ha, which is three quarters of the Indian endowment of 162 million ha. Put differently, China's arable land is just about 13 per cent of its total land, in contrast to the much better 54 per cent in the case of India.
India has 162 million hectares of arable land, of which they are committing some 14 million hectares to jatropha production.

THE GLORIETTA BLAST I really can't blame Ayala for turning the Malaysian forensic expert AINI LING loose, (followed by Australian terrorism expert Kit Collier.) The Glorietta Blast could rock the Ayala empire with serious civil and criminal litigations for years if negligence is found and prosecuted. That's not to say she would lie, but I think it's deceptive to bill her as a pure "scientific expert" since the work that she does for her company, Forensic Services (M) Bhd. of Malaysia is mainly handling the legal and insurance problems of their clients that arise from major fires and explosions in the oil and gas industry. Aini Ling is more like a high powered lawyer with a Ph.D in chemistry.

She is retained to make any prosecution difficult or easy depending on the client. Nothing unethical about that. But when she talks to Ricky Carandang on camera and says, with a grave demeanor and meaningful tone that, "I am certain that in this particular explosion, the ignition of explosive was involved..." Huh? So, we suddenly get it in the Prime Time News that an explosions expert doubts the official investigation and that the Glorietta Blast was caused by a bomb with a high explosive like RDX.

Likewise, when Kit Collier, a researcher mainly into the communist insurgency in the Philippines from the Australian National University, parachutes into town and lands in front of Twink Macaraeg to opine that Glorietta might've been a terrorist attack, we suddenly get headlines screaming that TWO scientific experts, one forensic, one anti-terrorist, doubt the finding that Glorietta was a methane gas explosion (such as happens with greater or lesser devastation all around the world every year under quite similar physical circumstances).

I must admit, I was livid for months over the 2004 Super Ferry 14 Bombing which President Arroyo dismissed as the work of pranksters. No question that this administration's record against terrorism has been spotty and inconsistent.

But there are significant differences between Super Ferry 14 and Glorietta that Mr. Collier might not have noticed on the way down as his parachute opened. First of all, there was never a credible claim by any terrorist organization for the blast, although a great deal of mystery still enwraps that cell phone call from a Fake Sheik of the Rajah Sulaiman Movement about 48 hours after the blast. But Mr. Collier himself was never involved in the investigation and has never been to Glorietta, as far as I know. Yet he magically pops out of thin air and suddenly his opinion is called "expert" and gets aired on tv and headlined by the newspapers.

For whatever it's worth, I am personally convinced that this was not a terrorist bombing and a methane gas explanation fits the known facts best. The EXPERTS from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian National Police, the PNP Crime Lab and National Bureau of Investigation seem to agree on this. That's good enough for me, even if it ain't for Aini Ling and Kit Collier.

By the way, the traces of RDX originally reported by the head of the PNP Crime Lab, a certain Col. Ramos, a day or so after the blast, was revealed today by General Ticman, talking to Pinky Webb on ANC, to have have been collected not in the basement where the blast originated, but in a plastic bag on the floor of the outside delivery bay of the Glorietta Mall! No further RDX samples have been found except for those that Aini Ling claims to have collected in the early morning of November 2, two weeks after the blast!

Now if they could only show me a crater...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Right to Sell Telecomm Load Does Not Include Endangering Law Enforcers

But the concept of Press Freedom espoused by Rina Jimenez David and those nice clever folks at the Philippine Daily Innuendo, apparently does! In their need to scoop each other, or at least not to be scooped, the Mass Media are no different from our shabu-addicted bus drivers on Edsa, who have a similar need, attitude and behavior towards the Law...Who can deny that Journalism is a lucrative commercial enterprise that buys and sells information, entertainment, DATA of every conceivable sort, and is murderously competitive. The Media has been pouring pious holy oil all over itself and, full of hubris, won't admit they screwed the pooch at the Manila Pen!
WHAT'S THEIR BEEF (Philippine Daily Innuendo): There is no law that says journalists are obligated to follow the orders issued by law enforcers in the midst of a conflict. A warning to vacate the premises simply means that journalists who do not wish to die alongside their subjects, or inhale the painful fumes of tear gas, should leave as soon as possible.

But neither do I think that those journalists who chose to stay with Trillanes, Lim and their cohorts did anything wrong. Whatever their motivation -- to stand witness, to produce a story as the events wound down the wire, to stand as human shields against a police assault -- the media people were well within their rights and were following their reportorial instincts. If they were willing to bet big, and you can’t get any bigger than with your safety and life, then that was their and their editors’ look-out. But they did not deserve to be handcuffed and processed for doing their jobs.

And neither does the Philippine media community deserve the pre-censorship, to be held back before the fact, simply on the say-so of some paranoid old man.

Well, there you have it folks, the Mass Media are basically ABOVE THE LAW that applies to "non-journalists" who, the last I checked are ALL obligated to obey the lawful orders of competent authority in situations of public crisis and emergency. What Rina and her ilk consistently ignore in situations like this is that it is the police law enforcers who are most in danger of getting killed or injured in a situation like that which arose at the Manila Pen. (It's them that the Magdalo might have killed while hiding under your silly skirts of illogic, Rina!)

But I am pretty sure that neither paranoid old men nor big fat lady pundits are gonna be able to hold back the Media people from getting in the way of law enforcers to stand as human shields for rebellious putschists, get themselves handcuffed and gleefully photographed.

It's all part of the Edsa Envy Syndrome, a peculiar mental affliction in which the subject fantasizes of becoming a famous and esteemed hero by participating in a bloodless, peaceful, but utterly victorious Revolution, ideally as a brave journalist covering and protecting the military rebels and civilians fighting the Fascist Dictator (even if it's just the dipsomaniac Erap), and serving the ever loving Public's Right to Know by selling telecomm load and movie star gossip.

But Ms. David really comes off the rails with this:
About the only legitimate reason I can see for curtailing media coverage of a crime or violent situation is the preservation of evidence.
Really? How about the prevention or the minimization of death and destruction from violent crime so that perhaps evidence won't be so necessary? The Mass Media KNOW that they really screwed up at the Manila Pen. They overstepped their own professional and ethical bounds, but the supreme hubris that infects them means they will not admit it and will only use the incident to inflame the situation further.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Our Indispensable Grievance

Manuel L. Quezon III in PDI today writes A Colonial Rule of Law which has the canonical nationalist explanation -- in the form of someone's else's actions -- for the failures of successive Philippine leaders, major institutions, and perhaps nationalism itself. An interesting reflection on this is The End of Empire written by Englishman Denis W. Brogan in 1960. I recorded it for the Internet Archive:


Reality so mercilessly disappoints our fantasies, illusions and ideologies. There is no such thing as Freedom from Responsibility for our own actions, even imitative ones. And nations, unlike men, are NOT created equal. Accepting this is the first step on the road to freedom, and the prosperities that come with its "responsible" and wise exercise. At bottom of MLQ3'S essay I think, is really an oblique defense of the recent actions of some in the Philippine Press at the Manila Pen, and a criticism of subsequent government reactions and policies, such as Raul Gonzalez's warning to media.

But is the problem that we have a colonial Rule of Law, or are we merely unable to give up our favorite and indispensable grievance--the alibi that this is all America's fault and doing!

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice turned PDI pundit, ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN seems to be running out of the tendentious pablum he's been dishing out lately and is now reduced to calling Conrado de Quiros "My esteemed colleague" and reprinting emails on the travails of the OFW at airports, consulates, shopping malls, bureaucratic labyrinthes and strange lands. Show 'em this your honor!

Speaking of the Supreme Court, here is today's headline on PDI: SC forms green courts...designates 117 environment courts to fastrack cases Hey, Your Honors! How about starting in your own backyard down there on Padre Faura Street and Taft Avenue, both blighted miasmas choked with jeepneys, buses, tricycles, cars and pedestrians, just blocks away from the Toilet Bowl called Manila Bay. Then you can work your way up the Pasig River to the Garbage Heap called Payatas and the smoking Methane Mountains in Rizal.