"I firmly believe that maintaining public trust in the Supreme Court’s independence and integrity is by far the most important judicial reform. What does it profit the Court to gain all the money it desires if it loses its credibility?Do tell!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
In the letter, according to the A.P. account, he wrote that “the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”
As for his fellow Jews, he said that Judaism, like all other religions, was “an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.”
He claimed a deep affinity with the Jewish people, he said, but “as far as my experience goes they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.”
"I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."
"I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."
"As purveyor nonpareil of cinematic style and substance, the Cannes Film Festival officially opened this year’s 61st edition with Blindness, Fernando Meirelles’s stylish adaptation of José Saramago’s substantive novel."As luck would have it, I just finished reading that Saramago novel about a week ago and I can certainly vouch for its being "substantive" alright [in a punishing sort of way]. So when Ms. T.M. texted me the news a few days ago about a film adaptation of the novel, I was curious as to the possible reaction to it...
The film version "stumbles" sez Esquire...
That the director succeeds more often than he fails proves the resilience of Saramago’s potent themes as well as Meirelles’s skillful visual language. But Blindness stumbles because it’s a fundamental mismatch: A visceral director better known for searing portraits of real-life injustices shouldn’t really make a parable.Well, and some parable! If you do read the book, see what you think of my caveats and questions about it:
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
(1) I've already begun with its position on Population policy, which I think bears important significance on the long-term economic prospects of the country See my recent posts under the label of population. Here I've been developing the idea that while the RCC's birth control policies are not per se the CAUSE of hunger, poverty and economic underdevelopment, (which is the disdainfully weak rhetorical position of its defenders), their undeniable consequence in the form of overpopulation, strictly limits the efficacy of any solutions to the problems that face Philippine society and vastly diminishes any gains that are achieved. Overpopulation has a structural, multiplier effect that exacerbates those problems, places pressure on natural resources such as water, land and the ability of society to feed, clothe, shelter and educate the people. As such, I've come to the conclusion that the RCC's position on birth control is essentially an issue of social justice and moral compass.
(2) In the economic realm, the Church has adopted entirely regressive policies on such key issues as mining, genetically modified organisms, nuclear power and globalization, which deserve to be examined and understood in the light of its apparent adoption of radical, fear-mongering environmentalism as a secular component of its religious tenets.
(3) In politics, it has aligned itself with the liberal fascist policies of the Arroyo administration and holds captive a large part of the electorate by acting as a de facto political party, uber alles, of which all the other parties are mere factions (think about it!). This is a situation that suits its theocratic inclinations just fine, because while it wields political power indirectly, yet effectively, it has complete deniability of responsibility in the results of the fractious multiparty system and inutile governance!
(4) In education, the Catholic Church completely dominates the private school sectors, powerfully influences the public school system (since it trains virtually all the teachers and functionaries that run it!) and sabotages science education along the lines that conform to its reactionary world view and sentimentally looks back upon Spanish Taliban times as its halcyon days of complete domination in this field.
(5) In religion and morals, the RCC is an almost complete failure, both in its teaching magisterium and in the example set by its hierarchy. It does not teach Christianity at the level of Biblical study, but rather concentrates on liturgical extravaganzas that have weekly, monthly, seasonal and holiday components, and as in the days of yore, utilizes sacraments and ceremonies as cultural artifacts that circumscribe Filipino social life. Its dominance on the educational system is founded on its captivity of the market among middle and upper classes and the inability of the public school system to deliver quality education to the masses. (Why? because every year 2 million new births long ago swamped the ability of society to provide "free universal education"--the biggest joke of all).
(6) On social issues, the Church sets the worst example on the matter of GAMBLING, where its corrupt relationship with the PAGCOR represents an entirely unhealthy and demoralizing factor for which its leaders ought to be pilloried and put to shame. (Meanwhile, a guy like Archbishop Oscar Cruz has been ordered arrested for libel while his confreres at the CBCP inaugurate and sanctify massive new enterprises for gambling and vice.)
I encourage Philippine Commentary readers to join me in a thorough re-examination of the Roman Catholic Church's role in society. In my humble opinion, they are presently an integral and essential part of the problem, when they could and should be part of the solution instead.
I speak both as a loyal citizen of the Republic as well as a member of the Catholic Church, both which I simply refuse to surrender to Men in Skirts and Funny Hats whose conceptions and positions are mostly bankrupt and backward from a moral and intellectual standpoint.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
With the generation, transmission, and now distribution (soon, maybe fuel, too!) under the exclusive control of the same greedy groups and Mafia families, this whole friggin cursed nation of syndicates and ninety million cowards should cease to exist.I would only add that as this issue moves forward, there is surely going to be a role for the Arroyo-controlled Supreme Court, which will soon be the cause for even greater fury at how the Rule of Law has been replaced by the Rule of Organized Crime masquerading as Government. Artemio V. Panganiban (former Chief Justice turned Innuendo Pundit) is acting the Innocent One in his weekend piece. As if he had nothing to do with the High Court's descent into the nether depths of intellectual dishonesty and dereliction of duty at Edsa Dos--the seminal anomalous event which demolished Constitutional Separation of Powers and laid the foundation via Judicial-Military Coup d'etat for our present Judicial-Executive conjugal dictatorship that now rules with utter impunity in an uncheckable regime of supreme Graft and Corruption.
New York Times Op/Ed features a piece entitled: Invading Myanmar For Its Own Good
I think many of the arguments apply to invading the Philippines--and not just for its own good but for the Asian region, if not the world! It's leaders are adept at foisting tragedy on their own people...even without the natural disasters, though they know how to when that sort of thing happens too. Will somebody please save us. Honestly this is worse than Burma because we know better and we just don't deserve this Hell. Most Pinoys will surely help! How about it Uncle Sam?
I think the Philippines could easily become so ungovernable and descend into social chaos--say a combination of Somalia and Myanmar--that in its own interest the United States would be forced to take drastic action, much as she would not at all like to, or given her stretched-too-thin military, be unable to! The scenario under which this might happen is easily imaginable with the CPP leadership struggling with its aging kidneys and running out of time, and the Malaysians running out on the increasingly al Qaeda influenced Moro insurgents.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
For some strange reason, I doubt that Gabriela will be marching on the U.S. Embassy in support of this Filipina, after all Rep. Satur Ocampo (who claims not to be associated with the Nice People's Army anymore) has already belied Ms. Silaya's claims as "unbelievable." That should be enough for Gabriela, who also claim not to be front organizations.
Silaya v. Mukasey (9th Cir. 5/6/08)
OPINION TROTT, Circuit Judge: Rosalina Silaya ("Rosalina")1 seeks review of the BIA's decision denying her application for asylum, withholding of removal ("withholding"), and protection under the Convention Against Torture ("CAT"). We have jurisdiction pursuant to 8U.S.C. § 1252(a)(1). Because the record compels a finding that Rosalina was subjected to past persecution on account of imputed political opinion, we grant the petition with respect to the asylum claim and remand to the BIA. I BACKGROUND Rosalina is a native and citizen of the Philippines. She entered the United States in May of 1985 as a non-immigrant visitor. When she remained beyond the visa's authorized stay, she was charged with and conceded removability. Subsequently, Rosalina submitted an application for asylum, withholding, and relief under CAT.
Rosalina was born in San Mateo Sur, Philippines. Her father Estaqiou was a World War II veteran who served under General Douglas McArthur. The people of San Mateo Sur knew he was a veteran because it was a small town, and he received a pension from the government.
While she was growing up, Rosalina heard stories about the New People's Army ("NPA"). The NPA "is a violent, revolutionary Communist group which actively opposes the Philippine government" and "has a well-documented history of political violence." Borja v. INS, 175 F.3d 732, 734 (9th Cir. 1999) (en banc). Rosalina was told that the NPA were "really violent and aggressive people and that there are many members in [her] town." Rosalina testified that NPA members came to her house often and asked for food and money. She said her father gave them what they asked for because he knew that the NPA was against the government, and, because he was a World War II veteran, the NPA was against him too.... According to Rosalina's testimony, her father feared that if he didn't give the NPA food or money, they would come back and hurt him and his family. Rosalina said her family was scared of the NPA because her "father supported the government and because he was a military veteran." She said also that when the NPA came to the house and spoke to her father, "[t]hey would always make comments like `when is your daughter [Ros alina] going to grow up?' or `is she going to stay here and live with you in San Mateo Sur?' " Rosalina testified that when she was about fourteen, her older sister Salvacion was kidnaped and missing for almost a month. When Salvacion returned, "she [was] a mess. She ha[d] a lot of bruises, scars, clothes torn apart, half-way naked, people laugh[ed]. My sister was, lost her mind. She's not the same." When questioned as to whether she knew who had taken her sister, Rosalina said, "My father had the idea and he said they are NPA people." The Silayas later found out that Salvacion had been raped.
After Salvacion was kidnaped, and when Rosalina was approximately sixteen, Rosalina's father sent her to Manila to live with her sister Candelaria because it was too dangerous for her to stay in the family home. Rosalina believed her father sent her away to protect her from the NPA. She finished high school in Manila and worked in a bakery.
Around Rosalina's twenty-third birthday, she went back to San Mateo Sur to see her parents. When Rosalina's bus arrived in San Mateo Sur, several men from the NPA stopped her and asked her if she was Estaqiou's daughter. She told them she was. The men walked her to her house, telling her "they knew about [her] father." In the middle of the night, the men returned to the house.
Rosalina and her mother hid in the bedroom. The men pushed the door to the house open and asked Estaqiou where Rosalina was. Rosalina heard sounds like people were fighting in the other room and heard the men saying, "I want your daughter." The Silaya family's dog barked at the men until they cut its head off with a sword.
Eventually, the men overpowered Rosalina's father and put a sword to his throat. They came into the bedroom and punched Rosalina's mother, knocking her to the ground. Ros alina said she "heard the men yelling about [her] father being a war veteran." Although Rosalina initially fought the men, one of them hit her, and she lost consciousness.
Rosalina woke up later to find she had been blindfolded and taken away from her home. She was naked, her hands were tied behind her back, and she was hanging upside down by her feet. She could hear the men laughing at her. Over the next three days, the men repeatedly raped her, hit her, yelled at her, and forced her to perform oral sex. They cut her, poured hot thick liquid on her, and burned her, possibly with cigarettes. The men threatened to cut off her head and put her in the fire pit. They left her hanging upside down "so she will learn her lesson." After three days and three nights, the men returned Rosalina to her family home. She testified that the men carried her back home and threw her in the living room, still bound and naked. The next morning, her parents sent her back to Manila. Rosalina later found out she was pregnant as a result of the repeated rapes.
Rosalina was angry and ashamed by her pregnancy. She tried to abort the baby by drinking clorox and taking pills, but her attempts were unsuccessful. On August 29, 1983, she gave birth to her daughter, Maria Analisa. After Candelaria saw Rosalina hitting the baby, she sent the baby to live in San Mateo Sur with Mr. and Mrs. Silaya. Rosalina believes that her parents sent Maria Analisa back to Manila when she was seven to live with Candelaria because they were "still afraid that the NPA soldiers would come back." Rosalina said that although no NPA members approached her in Manila, she was still afraid. Rosalina said she "was fearful all the time. Wherever I went in the Philippines, even in Manila, I was afraid the NPA soldiers would find me and torture me again." Because of this fear, Rosalina took a job as a nanny and came to the United States in 1985.
The Immigration Judge ("IJ") found Rosalina not credible and denied her application for asylum on that ground. In the alternative, he denied her application for asylum because she did not demonstrate a nexus between the mistreatment she suffered and a protected ground. The IJ found also that the social group that Rosalina claimed to be a member of for refugee purposes was too broad. He further found that it was possible for Rosalina to relocate to Manila. He denied also her applications for withholding and CAT protection.
The BIA reversed the adverse credibility finding, but otherwise affirmed the IJ. It found also that the IJ did not commit a due process violation when he denied Rosalina's motion to permit her relatives to testify by telephone.
II STANDARD OF REVIEW We review findings of fact for substantial evidence. Li v. Ashcroft, 356 F.3d 1153, 1157 (9th Cir. 2004) (en banc). To reverse the BIA's finding that Rosalina did not demonstrate a nexus between the harm she suffered and a protected ground, the evidence must "not only support[ ] that conclusion, but compel[ ] it." INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 481 n.1 (1992). Denial of relief under CAT is reviewed for substantial evidence. Bellout v. Ashcroft, 363 F.3d 975, 979 (9th Cir. 2004).
III DISCUSSION A. Past Persecution To be eligible for asylum, Rosalina must show that she is unwilling or unable to return to her country of origin "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." 8U.S.C. § 1101(a) (42)(A). "Once eligibility is established, it is within the Attorney General's discretion to grant asylum." Lopez-Galarza v. INS, 99 F.3d 954, 958 (9th Cir. 1996).
As a preliminary matter, the rape and physical abuse inflicted on Rosalina support a finding of past persecution under 8U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). See id. at 959. Consequently, the issue before us is whether the record compels a conclusion that the NPA subjected Rosalina to past persecution on account of a protected ground. We hold that the record compels a conclusion that Rosalina was persecuted on account of an imputed political opinion.
 "An imputed political opinion is a political opinion attributed to the applicant by his persecutors." Sangha v. INS, 103 F.3d 1482, 1489 (9th Cir. 1997). In order to establish imputed political opinion, Rosalina must show that the NPA actually attributed a political opinion to her. Id. "[P]ersecution on account of political opinion [cannot] be inferred merely from acts of random violence by members of a . . . political subdivision against their neighbors who may or may not have divergent religious or political views." Id. at 1487. However, evidence "[t]hat the alleged persecutor acted because of a petitioner's family's political associations is sufficient" to satisfy the motive requirement. Kebede v. Ashcroft, 366 F.3d 808, 812 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Lopez-Galarza, 99 F.3d at 960). "The plain meaning of the phrase persecution on account of the victim's political opinion, does not mean `persecution solely on account of the victim's political opinion.' " Borja, 175 F.3d at 735 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).
This is not the first time we have considered whether the NPA targeted a victim for rape on account of an imputed political opinion. In Ochave v. INS, 254 F.3d 859, 862 (9th Cir. 2001), the petitioner and her daughter, both Philippine citizens, were raped by members of the NPA while coming home from the market. The petitioner argued that the rape was on account of an imputed political opinion. Id.
 In analyzing the petitioner's imputed political opinion claim, we reviewed both her testimony and her application for asylum. Id. at 865. The petitioner testified that: 1) the rape may have been a random act of violence; 2) other people in the area were raped; and 3) she did not know the rapists before the attack. Id. at 863. In light of this testimony, we explained that the only evidence in the record supporting the petitioner's claim that she was persecuted on account of imputed political opinion was her statement in her application for asylum: My father was employed by the government in the year that the rape occurred. The two men who raped my daughter and I were members of the guerrillas who were trying to overthrow the government.
Because my father had a title, `Municipal Coun selor', my family was viewed as being reactionary in the Marxist eyes of the Communist guerrillas.
Id. at 865. Consequently, we concluded that there was no evidence that the rapists knew who petitioner and her daughter were, let alone who petitioner's father was. Id. at 865-66. We came to this conclusion because, among other things: 1) the rapists never identified the petitioner by name, nor did they mention her father or refer to politics, id. at 865; 2) the rape did not occur in a place "that would suggest that the rapists were seeking [the petitioner] and her daughter specifically"-like her home, id. at 866; 3) the NPA raped and harassed a lot of people in the area where the petitioner was raped, id.; and 4) the petitioner admitted that the NPA did not continue to harass her or attempt to communicate with her after the rape, "so as to suggest that this was a purposeful attack with a political motive, rather than a despicable act of unmotivated violence against a stranger," id. We concluded "in order to impute a political opinion to his victim on account of her family's activities, a rapist necessarily must have some idea who the victim is. That crucial fact--which is a logical predicate to [petitioner's] entire claim--is not established anywhere in this record, including her application." Id.
Although the facts in Ochave are markedly similar in many aspects to the facts in the case at bar, there are some key differences that compel a different result. First, unlike in Ochave, the NPA came to Rosalina's house long before the kidnaping and rape and asked her father when she was going to grow up, indicating that they knew who Rosalina was.
Compare Ochave, 254 F.3d at 865. Second, the NPA did not take Rosalina from a public area. Rather, after ascertaining that Estaqiou was her father, they walked her home from the bus stop and then returned to her home that night and kidnaped her, again suggesting that the rapists were seeking Rosalina specifically. Compare id. at 866. Third, unlike in Ochave, the rapists in this case mentioned Rosalina's father and referenced the fact that he was a war veteran, indicating that the NPA knew who Rosalina was, knew who her father was, and chose Rosalina as a victim because of her father's ties to the Philippine government. This is reflected in Rosalina's statements that: 1) NPA members met Rosalina at the bus stop and asked her if her father was Estaqiou; 2) the men walked Rosalina home and told her they knew about her father; and 3) Rosalina heard the men saying that her father was a veteran. Compare id. at 865-66. Finally, unlike in Ochave, Rosalina never conceded that this may have been a random act of violence. Rather, she testified that after repeatedly raping her, the men hung her upside down from a tree "so she will learn her lesson." Compare id. at 863, 866.
 Rosalina has demonstrated the facts that we said in Ochave are necessary to prove an imputed political asylum claim--the NPA members knew who she was, knew who her father was, and made comments indicating that Rosalina was chosen as a victim because of her father's ties to the Philip pine government. See also Lopez-Galarza, 99 F.3d at 960 (finding that a rape victim was eligible for asylum because evidence showed that "[h]er family's ties to the Somoza regime were well-known in her community" and she was singled out for persecution because of these ties). We therefore conclude that there is substantial evidence that compels a conclusion that Rosalina was persecuted on account of an imputed political opinion and is thus eligible for asylum.
B. Future Persecution  Because Rosalina suffered past persecution, she is entitled to a presumption of future persecution. 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1); Borja, 175 F.3d at 737-38; see also INS v. Ventura, 537 U.S. 12, 17-18 (2002). On remand, the government may rebut this presumption if it can show "by a preponderance of the evidence that conditions in the Philippines have changed to such an extent that [Rosalina] no longer has a well-founded fear that she would be persecuted, should she return there." Borja, 175 F.3d at 738. The BIA must provide an "individualized analysis of how changed conditions will affect [Rosalina's] situation." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
C. Humanitarian Asylum  Even in the absence of a well-founded fear of future persecution, because Rosalina has established past persecution, the BIA has discretion to grant her humanitarian asylum pursuant to 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1)(iii). See Kebede, 366 F.3d at 812 ("Asylum may be granted for humanitarian reasons where a petitioner has suffered atrocious forms of persecution.") (internal quotation marks omitted). Because the BIA did not determine whether Rosalina's past persecution makes her eligible for humanitarian asylum, we remand to the BIA to consider in the first instance whether it wishes to grant her this form of relief.
D. Withholding of Removal  The BIA held that Rosalina failed to prove eligibility for asylum, and consequently it assumed that she could not satisfy the higher standard for withholding. Because we hold that Rosalia is statutorily eligible for asylum because she established past persecution, we remand "so that the [BIA] may apply the law to the facts" of her withholding claim. See Mashiri v. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 1112, 1123 (9th Cir. 2004).
E. Internal Relocation  Because Rosalina has demonstrated past persecution, the government bears the burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of relocation within the Philippines. 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(1)(ii). In this case, it is not clear whether the BIA held the government to its burden or whether it put the burden of proof on Rosalina. Therefore, we remand to the BIA to apply the proper burden of proof and to consider evidence relating to the reasonableness factors listed in 8 C.F.R. § 1208.13(b)(3).
F. Relief Under CAT  We deny Rosalina's petition for relief under CAT because she has not demonstrated that, more likely than not, she will be tortured at the instigation of, or with the acquiescence of the Philippine government. See Zheng v. Ashcroft, 332 F.3d 1186, 1188 (9th Cir. 2003).
IV CONCLUSION The facts of this case compel a conclusion that members of the NPA kidnaped, raped, and abused Rosalina because her father was a World War II veteran. Because we conclude that the evidence compels a finding that Rosalina was subjected to past persecution on account of imputed political opinion, we grant the petition for review with respect to the asylum claim and remand this case to the BIA to consider future persecution, humanitarian asylum, withholding of removal, and whether internal relocation is reasonable.2 Costs are awarded to Silaya.
PETITION GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
1 We refer to petitioner and her family members by first name to avoid confusion. 2 In light of this conclusion and the BIA's reversal of the IJ's adverse credibility finding, we need not address Rosalina's plausible claim that the IJ's refusal to let her witnesses testify telephonically constituted a due process violation. However, if the BIA reaches the issue of relocation on remand, it must afford both parties the opportunity to present additional evidence.
Author Iain Murray's new book is discussed by the author himself at this remarkable seminar at the Heritage Foundation.
The story of Rachel Carson (whom Al Gore and the liberal environmental movement consider an idol and heroine) and the global malaria tragedy will cause anyone who hears it to never see environmentalism as populist cult and secular religion quite in the same way again.
Mr. Murray also exposes the role of biofuels such as corn and sugar-based ethanol in the unfolding food price crises and the wholescale destruction of the world's forests. Meanwhile, here Sen. Migz Zubiri and DOE Secretary Angelo Reyes are continuing to beat the biofuels drum as if they do not hear the ominous warnings against this entirely deluded leap. Mr. Murray calls the biofuel mandates in Europe and the US, and of course here in the Philippines, "an affront to the ideals of humanity." He notes as an example that the 450 pounds of corn needed to produce 25 gallons of ethanol could feed one person for a year. The corn burned as automobile fuel in the US alone in 2006 would've have fed 260 million people for a whole year.
Most significantly he presents the alternative to Al Gore's "decarbonization" proposals in the form of a comprehensive conservative strategy for addressing global environmental problems.
Listen to the whole thing!
Friday, May 9, 2008
I long ago conceded on this blog, indeed I have never believed, that "overpopulation is the cause of hunger and poverty in the world."
I cannot speak to Filipino agricultural land levels but I've read that there has been enough food grown worldwide to make every man, woman, and child overweight. So "overpopulation" isn't anywhere close to being the cause of food shortages in modern times. [my emphasis--DJB]
Yes poor people have more children. Its partly because children grow up to be laborers who help the family when older and also partly the shotgun approach to making sure a children survive.
For a lot of social problems I tend to look first to those wealthiest in a society as their control over resources that define how well (or badly) a society develops).
And I'm not ready to say population levels are a problem when the point I just mentioned seems to be so overpowering in comparison to everything else.
An irony is that those with the wealth may look to use population level as a scapegoat for problems that I doubt are do to it.
Indeed China and India support populations that are far larger than that of the Philippines, though no doubt ancient memories of war and famine goad them to prudential endeavours involving both production of food and the limitation of reproduction (sometimes using means unacceptable to most of us.)
But there are indeed many causes of suffering in this world. Yet in choosing what problems any society is to solve first and what solutions to apply, we ought to have a choice in the matter -- that is my first belief. However, on the matter of birth control methods that do not involve abortion or genocide, it seems to me that whatever evil we may perceive in them cannot possibly outweigh the undeniable effects of population numbers that cannot decently be sustained by that society, even if we were to agree that other causes can and ought to be dealt with as well. In the present growing crisis, who will deny that whatever problems of want and need we suffer from, they are mightily multiplied by the fact the degrees and magnitude of them could've been avoided if only such institutions as the Roman Catholic Church and the government had discerned the wisdom of prevention and chosen it over the necessity of adopting what will surely be insufficient, if not draconian measures to now address those problems. Whatever one may think of those other causes, the problems are multiplied by overpopulation and whatever solutions and gains upon them we can imaginably make, will surely be diminished by the awesome denominator of 90 million instead of more prudent Thailand's 66 million!
How can any humane person, anxious for the welfare and well-being of his neighbors continue to urge that we hide our head in the sand and wait yet another Doubling Time, by when these terrible scourges of hunger and poverty shall have been exponentiated by such willful neglect of the obvious.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
(1) Napocor has steadfastly refused to sign long term supply contracts for its dirty coal fired power plants, insisting instead on buying coal primarily on the spot market current at over $130 / ton; and
(2) P1.46 government royalty on domestic natural gas amounting to more than a third of the P4.10 per cubic meter paid by First Gas (a Lopez-owned independent power producer).
By way of comparison, a private IPP, Quezon Power, an American owned firm, signed a long term coal contract that guarantees it coal at $60 / ton, less than half what Napocor now\ pays. Why does the government insist on buying coal on the spot market? One wonders. Maybe it's the same reason in imports rice at exorbitant rates--for the damn commissions by unscrupulous government agents and cronies of the powers that be! At the same, as Ricky's guest noted, that large royalty component on Malampaya gas levied on such IPPs as First Gas, buggers the use of much cleaner natural gas to produce electricty. Overall, the private energy generators are much more efficient and I daresay, saner than Napocor and the government. But no wonder they've dragged their feet and not carried out the mandate of the Epira law to privatize the energy sector. It's too lucrative for the bureaucrats and their cronies to just give it up to those oh so evil and imperialistic free enterprise capitalists.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Jimmy Tadeo, head of the National Rice Farmers Council, had an explosive analysis on Korina Today (ANC). He notes that the government caused rice traders to stop buying rice from local farmers (at the prevailing price of 17 pesos per kilo) after it conducted raids on warehouses that they publicized "might be hoarding rice." Then the government turns around and offers to buy 675,000 metric tons of rice from the Mekong River countries (Thailand and Vietnam mainly) at an amazing price of P48 per kilo. "WHY?" Korina asks. Because, Tadeo replies, of a $58 per ton COMMISSION going to government agents and personnel! Grrrrr! Damn this Government!
A PERFECT STORM of problems involving the rice supply, electricity bills and transportation costs is about to teach this heedless and willfully self-deluding country a painful lesson and I am afraid it will be ugly.
The unexpected failure of the government's recent attempts to import 675,000 metric tons of rice, the nasty fight over Meralco initiated by GSIS hatchetman Winston Garcia on behalf of the increasingly demented Arroyo government, and a looming jeepney "transport holiday" are all dark omens that something evil walks this way and that the Philippines is in for a very bad time, perhaps as bad as Somalia. With the "lean months" coming and the heavy typhoon season just around the corner, I cannot help but feel uncharacteristically pessimistic that something very bad is about to happen.
Even the usual bright spots are darkening. For example, while OFW repatriations have kept the more fortunate of poor families afloat, anecdotal evidence abounds that the main component of the overseas work force, the Filipino Americans in the United States, are themselves going through very bad times as the U.S. falls into recession (CNN reports that 71% of Americans now believe that happenstance). Turns out, many Fil-Ams victimized themselves by taking on too much debt and are suffering the worst fallout from the subprime lending debacle; many are losing homes and jobs and are therefore able to support folks in the Archipelago less and less. It can only get worse before it gets better for them.
Meanwhile, back home, a period of looming energy shortages and electricity-related problems are casting a heavy pall on the short and medium term prospects. The Philippines is heavily dependent on increasingly expensive foreign oil and it appears an inflation-igniting transportation fare increase and weekly pump prices are now inevitable.
The solutions that readers of Philippine Commentary have prescribed for all of these problems--including reduction of taxes and duties, elimination of graft and corruption, and the liberation of private sector initiatives to provide more food, energy and jobs all meet with my agreement and approbation. But even given that the most optimistic circumstances come together and all these solutions miraculously come to be applied in the most ideal manner, one is still faced with an ineradicable and irreducible residue: the population denominator!
By whatever metric one wants to project the various scenarios in the major problems areas of food, diesel and gasoline and cooking gas, electicity, transportation and wages, there is this common factor of having to provide for now nearly 91 million people. Here is REALITY and not THEORY staring us starkly in the face, and not even the most favorable of possible outcomes can reduce what now promises to be a major lesson in the awful game of TRUTH and CONSEQUENCES.
The truth is that for the lucky few who can afford to be philosophical, there will be some bit of inconvenience, but for the overwhelming MASSES of the Filipino people, the consequences of having ignored the overpopulation issue for decades, of giving the Catholic Bishops too much the benefit of the doubt and of their dogmatic intransigence on the crying need for education and utilization of modern birth control methods -- will be TRAGEDY on a colossal scale.
For those who think that these are all global problems and world wide crises. Of course they are right. But in every case, the SEVERITY of the disasters will be directly multiplied by the population number and any forthcoming solutions and mitigations divided by it!
I urge those who think they've properly analysed this problem as manageable because there are other causes to the crises, to please consider consider this new argument by analogy. The Philippines has been the sick man of Asia, one with all these many ailments: inefficient and corrupt government, a lack of modern infrastructure from a neglect of investment, slow job and economic growth, dependence on foreign oil, a largely mendicant agricultural policy, etc. But our chronic disease of overpopulation, the abuse of the freedom to breed resulting in multiplication like rats and rabbits all over the place, this is tantamount to serious cardiovascular disease marked by social obsesity, arterio- and athero- sclerosis, that I am afraid will now lead to multiple organ failure, strokes, heart attacks and various other manifestations of a most disturbing and devastating sort. It is a chronic condition in the sense that almost all the other problems could conceivably be solved in relatively short order. But unlike even hypertension, overpopulation has no quick fix that is morally acceptable, and like hypertension only has long-term solutions that require resolute and forthright action over decades of steady application.
I think certain tragic disasters are what will teach our heedless religious and political leaders the lesson I was hoping could be delivered more gently and persuasively by opinion writing and the right reasoning of bloggers and thinkers.
I am afraid it is all too late for that now! All we can do now is chronicle the events that are about to unfold with sympathy clarity.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Yet the hypothesis that a federal system will bring government closer to the people is apparently controverted by an obvious architectural fact about Federalism--that it will necessarily and unavoidably lead to a vast expansion in the levels, agencies and personnel involved in government. Under the 11-state vision of a Federal Republic of the Philippines sponsored by Nene Pimentel and the Senate, for example, it is inconceivable to me that we shall end up with a smaller government if it is adopted. On the contrary, who can honestly argue that we won't end up with eleven times the government we have now. "Devolution" under the federalist fantasy is just a deceptive buzzword for multiplication as every new federal state acquires those organizational accoutrements that now litter the present Republic's government. It's all a matter of the Filipino politicians psychology, their obsession for plantilla and org charts.
Abueva himself confirms my fear and suspicion of what a disaster this will actually lead to when he mentions the effects of devolving "education" to those eleven (or whatever number) of newly enfranchised government homunculi--the adoption of multiple languages of instruction as a way of "showing respect" for local cultures. I think it will be irresistable for State Chief Executives and their political leaders not to engage in such linguistic jingoism and thus accelerate the complete Balkanization of the country.
At bottom, I think of persistent attempts to perform such radical reconfigurations of the country's Constitutional makeup as the desire of a certain people to imitate or acquire the God-like powers and actions of our former colonial masters--to found the nation in their own image and conception--rather than to engage in harder more mundane task of actually building it!
I'm for reforming the Constitution in small, concrete ways that address it's many flaws in small digestible and perhaps largely reversible steps. The Federalism proposal however strikes me as the logical fiddlesticks of Big Government fantasists like Abueva and Pimentel.
On Pia Hontiveros' show, Nene Pimentel reveals perhaps the most objectionable feature of his proposal: there will be a right to secede (by a two thirds vote of a State's population with Congressional approval). I think this is a completely hare-brained idea (and please don't bring up Canada!)
Monday, May 5, 2008
Since he is both a blogger and a columnist for PDI, one wonders how Manolo would care to describe himself. But today, let's take a look at another interesting personality who also wades in two different rivers of information wearing two different hats to whom both characterizations appear to apply: Artemio V. Panganiban (former Supreme Court Chief Justice turned professional pundit for the Philippine Daily Innuendo).
Let's take a good look at his Monday column piece, Supreme Court-Media relation.
AVP: LAST SUNDAY, I WROTE ON THE CONGRESSIONAL proposals to decriminalize libel and how the Supreme Court has protected media’s freedom of expression in relation to libel. I said that the Court appreciated the difficult plight of journalists when powerful officials use the police and the prosecutory arm of the government to harass and intimidate them.Now this is world-class INNUENDO at PDI's finest, where Pundit Panganiban is referring to the Manila Peninsula incident, tar-and-feathering the police authorities for treating almighty journalists as "common criminals" and suggesting a plight of harassment and intimidation foisted on the media people involved (after they clearly obstructed justice, got in the way of an obvious crime scene, made fools of themselves in public, and then cried like cry-babies when they got into trouble. ) AVP does not mention that the media has lost spectacularly in both the Courts of law and of public opinion trying to prove some slight to their precious freedom of expression in that incident.
Criticism without venom. Indeed, the Court winces when media professionals are unnecessarily arrested and handcuffed publicly, fingerprinted and photographed like common criminals, detained until they put up bail, and required to attend protracted hearings before prosecutors and judges who are sometimes rude and inconsiderate. And worse, when they become victims of unexplained disappearances and extra-legal killings.
But I really wonder what AVP means by "the Court winces when media professionals are unnecessarily arrested and handcuffed publicly..."
The media were not acting professionally in that incident and it was absolutely necessary that they be arrested and handcuffed for disobeying lawful authorities to clear the scene so they could implement a Court-ordered warrant of arrest against Antonio Trillanes and Danilo Lim for trying to start another Oakwood style mutiny at yet another Makati hotel. The Courts certainly did not "WINCE" when they threw out those crazy lawsuits filed by Ellen Tordesillas and company against the cops for actions that in fact led to a peaceful, if forceful conclusion to another act of conspiratorial juvenile deliquency between rebellious military officers (about six of them) and the coterie of admiring lady reporters and male photographers who later had the temerity and hubris to claim that they had prevented a bloodbath. The Court "winces" my foot!
But AVP continues...
AVP: In turn, media have generally been kind to the Court. Journalists criticize only after a careful review of the relevant facts and after double-checking their sources of information. Many of them realize that, when subjected to unwarranted attacks, the judicial institution may be permanently damaged and judicial integrity hopelessly undermined.Here it almost seems as if AVP doesn't quite know which hat he is wearing today. The "judicial institution" has always been responsible for all the permanent damage done to it, and the undermining of its integrity has been most self-inflicted. For example, in the Marcos era cases and now in Neri v. Senate. But it's just a setup for the following strange claim...
AVP: Verily, the judiciary and the media are natural partners. They are bound by the same reasons for being -- the search for truth, the protection of the people’s rights and the defense of the basic norms of society. Since both do not have direct access to government resources, or to the police and the military, they rely only on the persuasive power of reason and the core values of organized society.OIC! They are natural partners in the "search for truth". They are the cerebral and noble protectors of the people's rights and upholders of basic norms. They have no resources, no police or military force, only the power of reason and the values of organized society. (Bow, kneel and scrape your foreheads to the floor before such noble defenders of the people's rights y'all!)
AVP: Live TV coverage. The cordial relation between the judiciary and the media has not ruled out occasional face-offs. One recurring conflict started on Oct. 23, 1991 when the Court issued a resolution prohibiting live radio and television coverage of court proceedings. The controversy was revived 10 years later when then Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez asked for live coverage of the Sandiganbayan trial of former President Joseph Estrada.The moral and judicial inconsistency of their original rulings and this peculiarly self-serving explanation can easily be seen by asking how and why the ORIGINAL impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada was allowed to be broadcast live on national media, whilst the post Edsa II proceedings became a matter of secret trial and proceeding. To the vast audience of history the reasons are clear: Panganiban and Davide brazenly violated the explicit requirements of the Constitution on Presidential succession when they conspired with Angelo Reyes and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Jaime Cardinal Sin to illegally overthrow the only truly democratically elected President Joseph Estrada (such as he was!) with their so-called People Power on 20 January 2001. All the judiciary's proceedings post Edsa II were unconstitutional and immoral, and the real poisonous root of the current dispensation. Since then the Constitution has been treated with impunity and secret disdain by these men in skirts, who had achieved with great satisfaction the secular equivalent of what MLQ3 called at Iblog4 a "professional priesthood."
By a close 8-6 vote, the Court denied the petition (“Perez vs Estrada,” June 29, 2001). (I voted with the six.) Weighing the conflicting rights to information of the public and the right to a fair trial of the accused, the Court held that “the right of the accused must be preferred.” It explained that live coverage of the prosecution’s evidence would tend to create undue prejudice to Estrada.
Later, when his turn to present his side came up, Estrada himself asked for live coverage. However, the Court rejected his request. Sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Nonetheless, the Court relaxed the ban on Sep. 11, 2007 when it allowed, under certain conditions, the live coverage of the promulgation of the Sandiganbayan decision. Note, however, that the ban on live coverage of trials was not lifted and continues to be observed in all courts.
What a friggin' laugh Panganiban is when you see that his real place in history will be that of a Destroyer of Democracy from the highest perch of our Bantay Salakay Supreme Court. See much more Philippine Commentary on this vast topic here.
The judiciary and the media have been great partners in promoting the public weal. Having been a member of the Supreme Court, and now of the media, I trust that these occasional conflicts will not degenerate to a total locking of horns. In fact, it is my hope that these differences will sharpen their cooperation, in the same way that occasional disagreements strengthen the bonds of husbands and wives.So that is what the former Chief Justice thinks of such transcendental issues as Separation of Powers, Press and Religious Freedom, fealty to the Constitution, executive privilege and brazen violation of democratic principles by the institutions charged with guarding our most precious values and axioms: "occasional conflicts between husbands and wives."
Mark him! He's one of the biggest jerks in town. And I yeah, I'm packing as much venomous criticism as I can in this statement, with malice and disdain aforeblog. Compared to this Fascist in Judge's and Pundit's disguise, I actually feel warmth and sunshine for the "professional priesthood" of the Main Stream Media and the "enthusiastic amateurs" of the blogosphere, because this guy has abused and demeaned REAL POWER.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Well so sorry, Mr. & Ms. Mainstream Journalist, but in case you've only noticed now, you lost your Monopolistic Voice of Omniscience years ago and never more shall Citizen Journalism surrender to the small, narrow vested interests that have controlled newspapers, television and radio in the world! Just as the metal engraver Johannes Gutenberg's marvelous technological invention of the moveable type press once empowered the translation and wide distribution of the Bible into German, English, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and dozens of languages to break the Roman Catholic Church's monopoly on Word of God, so too has the physicist Sir Tim Berners Lee's invention of the World Wide Web with its "moveable type" hypertext transfer protocol ("http") empowered Google's Blogger, WordPress, Multiply, Facebook, and hundreds of other free blog publishing services now broken the Main Stream Media's commercial hold on information and commentary.
Here are the funniest lines from professional CPP NPA front man, Luis Teodoro, echoing the tendentious and too-frequent pontifications of his colleague Vergel O. Santos (both of the leftist Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility) at Iblog4.
"Many of those who post information online are irresponsible," he said. "Sometimes, it becomes damaging. It disrupts the democratic dialogue."AHEM! Didn't Teodoro use to edit and regularly contribute to Ang Bayan, the CPP NPA propaganda ragsheet--that paragon of democratic dialogue? Who knows, maybe he still does.
Teodoro is proposing that "there should be a means of self-regulation" in blogs. "Journalists should be models online," he said. Be it a blog on political opinion or personal lifestyle, "the principles of journalism should apply."
"There should be verification and fairness even if it’s an opinion piece. There should be an effort to get the other side no matter how little the space you allot," said Ateneo de Manila University communication professor Chay Hofileña, who agreed with Teooro that journalists can set examples online.
Hofileña stressed that journalists should be very careful because the "the standards for a news reporter is higher." She said journalists should come up with more substantial articles online .
"Ethics should show in your blogs," Teodoro said.
Next to the government itself, of which the Main Stream Media are virtually a part, I cannot think of a more corruption-ridden, unethical, unprofessional, disingenuous and commerce-driven bunch than the Philippines Main Stream Media. Hiding behind veils of objectivity to hide prejudice, ideology, selfish agendas and vested interests, using innuendo, libelous and scurrilous attacks, whilst piously defending press freedom, what right do these kettles have to call the pots black and then to charge for it.
Hahaha! At least when the bloggers use these same tactics they aren't hypocrites about it and expect everyone else to bow down before their "codes of professional ethics"--which in our Main Stream Media are followed more in the exception than in the rule.
Take the much maligned case of Brian Gorrell and his lurid gay screw-n-tell blog. Heck you can tune in to the same kind of ugly salacious cryptosexual clap trap on AM radio every morning without the honest disclosures of names, dates and places, of course, the better to lure the audience back day by day. You can read the same titillating, gossipy, giggly dick-headedness in the Lifestyle and Show biz columns of the biggest newspapers (like the Philipine Daily Innuendo and dozens of smaller look-alikes and wanna-bes)
For all their pious holier-than-thou attitudes, with their "higher standards of journalism" implemented by ever-so-bribable and brow-beatable editors running pretentious, tabloidish broadsheets and tv/radio talk shows driven by show biz gossip and the latest impregnations and scandalous lifestyles of the nouveau riche and infamous, most of the Main Stream Media are actually lower than the worst of the blogosphere.
The reason for this is simple: the blogosphere is freer, more open, democratic and inclusive, so our demographics are more truly reflective of the citizenry, and less prone to be controlled by narrow vested interests pretending to be objective or neutral. The blogosphere does not have to answer to the bottom line of the craven owners or the dictates of advertising.
You can blog to your hearts content without advertisements, as Philippine Commentary proudly does and always will!
Moreover, the Blogosphere has a superior economic model (transaction costs per megabyte per second are practically nil compared to the main stream). It also has a far better ecological model than the Main Stream. We do not pollute anywhere near printed newspapers do (which constitute the other half of the municipal solid waste stream that plastic is part of, and is equally destructive of the environment -- fact they desperately need to hide and try to.) Printed newspapers will be the first to go extinct in their current form. Once they enter the electronic domain, they lose a lot of their hold on the channels of distribution and control over opinion, commentary and counter-attack.
The Blogosphere is a much more level playing field than the Main Stream. Here, as I said myself during Iblog Two, MEMES RULE. Strong, viral ideas, fit to survive because they are powerful and right can defeat weak and stupid ideas that have for so long dominated in the Main Stream because there, near exclusive access to the Medium IS the Message, instead of the Meme being the Message!
I welcome so called journalists to this brave new world of memetics called the blogosphere. Bring your ethics. Bring your standards. Bring your professionalism. Bring your Mama! But what really matters here is whether your ideas can compete with others and win! Your bandwidth is my bandwidth. My Liberty is your Liberty. Leave your stupidities and inanities at the door, or bring them along and wallow with the rest of the warthogs (which is allowed!). Here we are equals, and you've just come to the party a little late. Now, there's a place at the table for everyone, but don't expect a high place and automatic respect just coz you're so used to one way conversations and call yourself some fancy name that really means nothing to most of us.
Show us the right stuff and be a good sport or go back to the media that is going EXTINCT!
One wonders if we should believe anything at all CNN reports if they can't get such an easily verifiable and falsifiable thing right. No wonder Al-Jazeera is getting so big around here (with the help of ABSCBN.) Sheesh! Ah, but just wait, if we ever do have food riots because of the Arroyo administration's hyperbolicizing of the situation, and the willing sensationalism over it of newspapers like the Philippine Daily Innuendo, they still may not get it right.
Please pass until CNN gets the message: there are no food riots in the Philippines (not yet anyway.)
Friday, May 2, 2008
Many poor, already fragile states — where governance is difficult today — will grow rapidly. In Afghanistan, Liberia, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population is expected to triple by midcentury. The number of people in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Yemen will more than double. Furthermore, all of those countries will have large concentrations of young people. If their basic freedoms and basic needs — food, housing, education, employment and so on — are not met, they could be easily attracted to violence, civil unrest or extremism.He did not name the Philippines as one of those trouble spots where "population cluster bombs" are exploding, but it's high time Filipinos woke up to this problem. When all is said and done the blame has to be laid squarely on the Roman Catholic Bishops that the poor have no access to pills, condoms, IUDs and other non-abortive forms of modern birth control. I think that this is so obvious that those who deny it have to contort themselves into all sorts of illogical positions (not found even in the Kama Sutra) just to defend a policy that is ONE major cause of poverty, hunger and deprivation, and if the CIA chief is right of coming "violence, civil unrest and extremism." Considering that it will take decades to fix the problem, we better pull our heads out of the sand and see what greater evil has been wrought by infallible dogma.
President George W. Bush calls for more food aid to poor countries abroad for the 2009 fiscal year, but I sure hope the Philippines won't have to rely on mendicancy and charity of other nations to feed itself. As it is the government is selling cheap US rice at P25/kilo as its NFA stocks dwindle. Have we no pride? The current situation probably suits the Men in Skirts just fine while they twirl away with Pagcor and Vatican Roulette but it's time to stop listening to them and their insane dogmas.
Hippocrates, Maimonides and MesiaMd have some interesting reflections on the Perfume Canister Incident. Primum non nocere.
Jessica Zafra has uhmm, an axe to grind against Filipino's penchant for the absurd.
Abe Margallo has long commentary on the rice crisis in Man Does Not Live by Rice Alone. I hope he will follow it up with further analysis on the impact of CARP (land reform) on the long term prospects.
Angela Stuart Santiago takes Manila Standard columnist Connie Veneracion to task for her opposition to the inclusion of Amado V. Hernandez's classic anti-imperialist work, Mga Ibong Mandaragit in the Philippine public school curriculum. Given that the Filipino language subject is 20% of the curriculum, it is certainly impossible to rely entirely on such mainstays as Florante at Laura and Ang Ibong Adarna to provide content for the subject. I welcome such an inclusion only so Filipinos can not only learn some masterful poetry in Tagalog, but also to see the now defensiveness of the work. "Ka Amado" is very rough going however and would be a challenge to read even at the College level. In fact, I doubt that very many teachers at the high school level could manage to read his work, much as few can handle Shakespeare or Milton. They have a hard enough time with the fairy tale Ibong Adarna. What will probably happen is they will substitute summaries done by the CPP NPA and its surrogates in the Republic of Diliman of what the works mean. Veneracion is right that the works would be a challenge for any modern Filipino to read or appreciate at the high school level.