Friday, October 30, 2009

You Are Not Alone

NOYNOY AQUINO has released a campaign MTV featuring a "stellar cast" (via Leah Navarro)--

Slick and professionally done, it probably passes muster against "early campaigning" legalities which Atty. Sixto Brillantes says can actually occur only AFTER a candidate files his Certificate of Candidacy and BEFORE the official campaign period. ALL CANDIDATES from Manny Villar to Ronnie Puno to Joseph Estrada, and now also NOYNOY AQUINO appear to subscribe to this bit of legal sophistry. I wonder if they are after the colegiala vote of Chiz Escudero with this one? I'm sure they will get to workers, peasants, soldiers, tricycle and jeepney drivers, sex workers, fisherfolks!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Richard Dawkins finally falls off his trolley!

The English have it as "falling of the trolley". Professor Richard Dawkins, scientistic atheist par excellence finally has to defend the Established Church of England against the spiritual "poaching" of Pope Benedict XVI.

The last two weeks saw the Pope offering a chance for disgruntled traditionalist Anglicans who much agree to Roman teaching to join the Church whilst keeping their Anglican traditions including married priests. These Anglicans have petitioned Rome in the last 30 years or so when Anglicans started ordaining female priests. It is only now that Rome decided to allow them to get on board by offering them their own church structure within Catholicism. But Rome and Canterbury's reaction is simply not about science. It is about theology which Dawkins despises.

I have always strongly suspected that Dawkins is an Evangelical Atheist that carries a medieval and superstitious strain of "No Popery" in his theology. In this latest tirade, our suspicions of Dawkins are confirmed. He is nothing but a Protestant atheist. Take for example the latest rehash of Protestant libel

"The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast'

Dawkins conveniently forgets the Anglican Protestant dotty idea that some people are saved even before they were conceived! This is the Calvinist belief in predestination (Article XVII of the Anglican Articles of Religion)

"Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity"

Dawkins has valid criticisms on certain Vatican positions on gender equality, birth control, role of women etc. Since he is atheistic, he should use SECULAR arguments and not religious dogma.

Evangelical Protestantism, Catholicism, and Atheism have been responsible for the greatest evils the world has seen (with Atheism winning in the numbers of people murdered). The histories of these faith systems have their wondrous and hideous sides. But medieval Dawkins really is, he simple doesn't get it. Dawkins in this latest rant would fit in well with the Medieval Inquisition of the Catholics and the Witch burning courts of the Protestant Reformation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Banking on stupidity and forgetfulness

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.—George W. Bush, Washington, DC, March 31, 2001

LAST week a rheumy-eyed, wheezing and bulol (stuttering) Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada swore to his loyalists that he was going to run for president again—for their sake, of course.

“This is the last performance of my life and I will not fail you…. Sumusumpa ako, si Joseph Ejercito Estrada, na lalahok ako sa susunod na halalan upang muling maglingkod sa masang Pilipino bilang pangulo ng Pilipinas [I, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, swear to run in the coming elections so I can serve the masses again, as president of the Philippines.]”

Estrada spoke for about 40 minutes. Struggled was more like it. He looked weak, weary and unfocused. I was afraid he would not finish his speech.

But Erap, 72, debunked concerns about his health, claiming he felt like he was only 40. Well, he looks 40 going on 90 if you ask me.

Is there no one among his different families, no one among his friends, cohorts and political advisers who will dare tell him the stress of campaigning could kill him?

Erap played the victim at the Tondo rally.

“I was demonized then unconstitutionally removed.”

He claimed he did not commit any crime.

“If I had sinned against you, I would not have the nerve to stand before you.”

The crowd believed him, so I was reminded of a quip by the American social commentator Will Rogers.

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Erap’s hopes for winning the presidency are riding on those with burnt genitalia.

His loyal followers don’t care that he turned Malacañang into jueteng (illegal numbers game) central, that he earned a commission for arm-twisting the Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System into buying stocks in a company owned by his crony, that he opened a dummy bank account for a “friend.” They place more value on his dole-outs.

“He has never forgotten us. Even when he was in jail, his wife and children still sent us canned goods,” said a slum dweller to a reporter from a daily paper.

Erap’s fans won’t accept any suggestion that he screwed up. They won’t admit that if he had only lived up to the promise he made in his inaugural speech—that his presidency would be “the greatest performance” of his life—there would have been no impeachment trial, no Edsa Dos, no Gloria Arroyo, no Garci and everything else that followed.

They don’t realize they have Erap to thank for Gloria Arroyo. And they may be thanking him again in the near future.

If Erap is allowed to run, it will be a precedent for Gloria Arroyo to run again in 2016. Maybe that’s why Malacañang strategists said they were not going to file a disqualification case against Erap.

The Palace, like Erap, banks on a public that never learns, that easily forgets what it’s like to pee on an electric fence.

In an interesting turn of events, the Palace now supports the idea that Erap should be allowed to run.

Cerge Remonde said, "I’d rather not ... be technical about the candidacy of former President Estrada. I would adhere to the principle of salus populi suprema lex—the voice of the people is the supreme law,”

Is that proof the Palace really wants Erap to set a precedent for Gloria Arroyo to make a comeback or what?
Source: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom

Monday, October 26, 2009

If God plays dice with the universe......he'll win!

Albert Einstein is believed to have quipped "God does not play dice with the universe" in a letter to Max Born. The famous quote is a declarative paraphrase. The perceptive scientist he was, Einstein really had it as

"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice"

Of course quantum mechanics is as "dogma" today as Darwin's evolution. Even an arts major taking a "physics for pedestrians" course need to understand what it is. Without quantum theory, then digital cameras and LCD TVs should not make sense (or had been invented!).

Nonetheless I bring up this subject since the blurbs have it that Typhoon Ramil (Lupit) zipped out of Aparri since people prayed. Some think it is a miracle and a good friend of mine insists it is.... Perhaps.

However the statistical models predicted with increasing probability that the typhoon will go along the NE track as the high pressure steering ridge moved along the China coast. In fact the probability that that would happen reached 0.5 or a 50% chance.

The problem with us scientists is that we have to put the effects of prayer in the backseat for the effects of nature in explaining things of the natural world. In a real sense we are killjoys.

But Einstein had the zinger.....

"I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious"

By that he meant
that God leads people to believe they understand things that they actually are far from understanding

However I won't blame God. I blame people for sleeping through their science class!

God has a penchant for at least two things

1) an inordinate fondness for beetles
2) playing dice

In any case He wins!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Erap's renewed bid for the Presidency: Can he overcome the media bias?

Defamed and deposed former Philippine President Joseph Ejercito "Erap" Estrada recently announced his bid to seek anew the country's top elective post. Predominantly "masa" supporters numbering around 10,000, as based on police estimates, flocked to the Plaza Amado Hernandez in the capital's urban poor area of Tondo for the nomination of Estrada and his running-mate in the Pwersa ng Masa and PDP-Laban coalition, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay.

Erap had long indicated his desire to obtain vindication against his ouster in January 2001, done via a veiled conspiracy described by the New York Times as "the opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left [with] former presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos actively [encouraging] the military to take sides against a properly elected president."

Hurdles Aplenty

Standing against Estrada's "Pagbabalik" are a bevy of daunting forces and hurdles that seem reminiscent of the resolve of the old conspirators behind "Oplan Excelsis," the Erap ouster plan reported in October 2000 by the Daily Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivares. One of the hurdles he has to overcome before reaching the goal of historical redemption is the formidable mainstream media, which has been instrumental in his demonization--no matter the presence of the continuing Filipino support for him as reflected in periodic survey studies. The rather unwarranted bastos tone of the interview GMA-7 anchor Mel Tiangco gave him during the evening news right after the nomination rally should tell him to prepare well for the demonization component of Part II of the anti-Estrada movement.

The seeming train of orchestrated events targeting his 2010 candidacy began this year with the April 2009 revival of the BW Resources case against supposed Estrada crony Dante Tan, which was already dismissed in 2007. Dacer-Corbito case witness and former PAOCTF agent Cesar Mancao was brought home from the United States, although they were less successful with Glen Dumlao who eventually chose to stick to his claim that he was only tortured to implicate Lacson and Estrada in the murder case.

Then around the same time, former Senate minority floor leader Nene Pimentel and former Sen. Jovito Salonga asked Erap not to run anymore in 2010 as they took turns giving their dissuading opinions that the Supreme Court wouldn't allow him to run anyway. When Erap did not listen, Salonga then appealed to the Filipino people to "respect" the Supreme Court decision, as if he's certain of what the ruling will be. Lacson came next, who asked that Erap "unite" the opposition by giving way to the candidacy of neophyte senator Noynoy Aquino. Lacson then made threats and as the ex-President refused to retreat from the race, took the Senate floor twice to try to deliver some 'bombshell' expose in order to "save the Philippines from Joseph Ejercito alias Joseph Estrada."

Media's Treatment of Estrada

Lacson's privilege speeches did not exactly turn out to be explosive--either because the statements were rehash charges or were belied by other Estrada cabinet officials. One particular point, however, caused some stir with help from the media. Lacson claimed that Estrada used "strong arm tactics" to force businessman Alfredo Yuchengco to sell his shares in the Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications back in 1998. In what appeared to be a coordinated development, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) soon ran a banner story that backs up Lacson's claims. The letter on which the story was based turned out to be unsigned.

Earlier, the PDI also towed Lacson's line when its Sept. 10 headline made it appear that Erap's refusal to give way to presidential hopeful Noynoy Aquino, the neophyte senatorial son of former President Corazon Aquino, served to 'bust' opposition unity. Daily Tribune's Cacho-Olivares had described Noynoy Aquino as the presidential candidate of the Inquirer and broadcast news entity ABS-CBN.

PDI has a seeming history of disfavor, if not animosity, towards Estrada, as seen in its almost regular description of the former President as "convicted plunderer." This, without implying in any way the questionable verdict of the special Sandiganbayan court justices, almost of whom were subsequently promoted to the Supreme Court (one is pending).

Reliable reports paint a 'kangaroo court' picture of Estrada's conviction: some two months before the verdict was handed down, veteran journalist Ellen Tordesillas had reported that religious leaders Mike Velarde and Cardinal Vidal were told by Arroyo "that she wanted the Estrada trial to end in a conviction" and the decision will be released "anytime soon," respectively. The Inquirer blames Estrada for the loss of its revenues in 1999 following the pullout by certain businessmen of their advertisements in the newspaper following a series of hard-hitting articles.

Badgering Erap

Back to the rather dissuading, if not humiliating, interview conducted by GMA-7's Tiangco with Estrada. Following is a transcript of the "24 Oras" October 21, 2009 news clip entitled "Interview with Joseph Estrada":

Mike Enriquez: Magandang gabi po Mr. President. Si Mike Enriquez po ito at Mel Tiangco.

Ex-President Joseph Estrada: Magandang gabi sa iyo din kaibigang Mike.

Enriquez: Mayroon pong mga nagsasabi na hindi daw po kayo pinapayagan ng Konstitusyon na tumakbo ulit sa pagka-Pangulo. Ano pong masasabi ninyo diyan Mr. President.

Estrada: Wala. Na-konsulta na natin iyan sa mga retired justices ng Supreme Court at mga dean ng UP law school. Sila ay... masusi nilang pinag-aralan iyan at nagkaisa sila na qualified na qualified daw akong tumakbo bilang Pangulo.

Enriquez: ok, Mr. President. Ang payo nila sa inyo hindi nyo rin nilabag iyong kondisyon noong pagpapatawad na binigay sa inyo ni, o iyong tinatawag na pardon na binigay sa inyo ni Pangulong Arroyo na hindi na kayo kakandidato sa anumang posisyon na tinatawag na elective, Mr. President.

Estrada: Wala pong nakalagay dun sa dispositive portion ng pardon. Yun pong nakalagay po doon: "restoring all civil and political rights." Ang ibig pong sabihin noon, kung pwede akong bumoto, pwede rin akong butohin.

Enriquez: Opo, Mr. President. Isang tanong na lang po ako bago po si Mel Tiangco. Bukod po kay Mayor Jejomar Binay na katambal ninyo sa pagiging kandidato sa pagiging bise-presidente, mayroon ding senatorial line up na, na buo na?

Estrada: Ah, hindi pa. Siguro mayroon na kaming walo hanggang sampu.

Enriquez: Ok, Mr. President. Salamat po. Eto po si Mel Tiangco.

Tiangco: "Sir, hindi maganda ang karanasan ninyo sa Malacanang, bakit gusto n'yo pang bumalik doon?

Estrada: Ano?

Tiangco: Bakit ho gusto nyo pang bumalik sa Malacanang, eh kayo na rin ang nagkwekwento kanina na napakapangit ng experience nyo … minsang kayo ay Pangulo ng ating bansa.

Estrada: Napakapangit dahil nagsabwatan sila at ako ay napilitang bumaba. Ang katotohanan nga ay si dating Pangulong Cory Aquino ang nagssisisi kung bakit sumali siya sa EDSA 2. At ako naman ay, iyong mga programa ko para sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap ay hindi ko nagawa kaya gusto kong ipagpatuloy.

Tiangco: Palagi ninyong nababanggit na kayo ay inosente, hindi totoo ang ang mga pinaratang sa inyo. Eh bakit po tumagal ng anim na taon Sir. Anim na taon kayong nilitis sir, di ba?

Estrada: Anim na taon nga at anim na buwan. Wala silang napatunayan na nagnakaw ako kahit na isang kusing sa kaban ng bayan. Ang totoo nga niyan ay nagtayo ng Task Force ang DOJ--lahat ng kontrata na naaprobahan sa aking administrayon ay hinimay. Himay nila at wala silang nakita na isa mang kontrata na may halong anumalya, sa ano mang kontrata.

Tiangco: Eh bakit po pardon ang naibigay sa inyo

Estrada: Ha?

Tiangco: Bakit po pardon?

Estrada: Ewan ko sa kanila.

Tiangco: Hindi po kaya sabi ng ilang diyan ay kaya nais nyo lang tumakbong muli ay para daw balikan iyong mga nagpatalsik sa inyo?

Estrada: Alam mo Mel, sa aking anim na taong ako ay nakakulong ay nalapit tayo sa panginoon. at laging pinaaalala sa akin ng panginoon iyong Lord's Prayer. Iyong ama namin. iyon mga nagkasala sa iyo ay dapat mo ring patatawarin : "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sins against us." Kaya iyan po ang malapit na malapit na parang laging pinararamdam sa atin ng ating panginoon.

Tiangco: Maraming maraming salamat po sa oras na binigay ninyo sa 24 oras. Magandang gabi po.

Estrada: Salamat, salamat Mel.

While both interviewee and interviewer remained 'polite' all throughout, vexation and put down were arguably detectable at some points in the tones of their voices or body languages.

On the point of the six-month trial and pardon, respectively, Tiangco was obviously implying that Erap was convicted and was therefore guilty of some crime and not innocent as claimed. In a politely veiled manner, the news anchor was arguing against the former President's statements.

Estrada was taken aback--as in he seemed to have been on the way to turning his back and concluding the interview were it not for another question hurled at him. Those who understand the political nature of Estrada's arrest and legal cases are aware that as far as government funds and contracts are concerned, the former President comes off clean.

The ousted leader obviously couldn't answer the "why pardon" question because to do so would be to claim that Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, and Francisco Villaruz Jr were kangaroo court justices, which would imply an ungentlemanly or unethical undermining of the pardon he accepted.

Tiangco very well knew what she was driving at because she's a veteran journalist who began with Channel 4 way back the Martial Law days. Established press figures like her are, in fact, well ahead of the news. By badgering Erap with such questions, is she saying that she is unaware of reports of Vidal/Velarde's knowledge of Arroyo's manipulation of the Plunder verdict? Is she saying that she does not even suspect the kangaroo court character of the Special Division of Sandiganbayan, with its two justices being subsequently promoted to Supreme Court positions (Villaruz is in the shortlist of SC nominees)? As news anchor and official of GMA-7, it can safely be assumed that her news objectivity, or lack of it, is representative of the network's own position.

'Star Struck' Interview of Noynoy

It is easier to see through the slant in Tiangco's interview if it is compared with the interview conducted with Sen. Noynoy Aquino, along with Sen. Mar Roxas, on September 21, 2009 right after the Liberal Party stalwarts formally announced their tandem for the 2010 presidential elections in Club Filipino.

Following are the questions thrown at Noynoy by Pia Arcangel and Raffy Tima based on my transcript of the "QTV: Live interview with Mar Roxas and Noynoy Aquino":

__: Kay Senador Aquino naman ho, ngayon kasado na ho ang tambalang Aquino-Roxas para sa 2010, ano sa tingin ninyo ang pagbabagong dadalhin ng inyong tandem sa election race, ika nga?

__: Hindi rin ho kayo nahirapan na kumbinsihin si Senador Roxas na maging running mate nyo, dahil sabi nga ninyo matagal na ho kayong magkaibigan ni Senador Roxas?

__: Sa tingin ninyo Senador Aquino iyong pagkakaibigan o iyong friendship malaking tulong po ito sa inyong pangangampanya at inyong pagtakbo?

__: Senador Aquino, may nakatakda po kayong pagpupulong kay dating Pangulong Estrada, di po ba? Ano po kaya ang paguusapan dito at anong changes kaya ang mangyayari kapag nagkausap kayo ni dating Pangulong Estrada?

__: Senador, may pagkakataon pa po ba kayong magkaisa ang oposisyon? Kung di man ho magkaisa sa iisang kandidato ay malimitahan yung mga kandidatong oposisyon.

__: Sen. Mar Roxas at Sen. Aquino, mapunta naman tayo sa medyo live na isyu. Eh kumusta naman po ang paghahanda sa inyong kasal, Senador Mar? Kung nagkataon eh parehong single ang pupunta sa Palasyo.

__: So next year na po si Senador Aquino?

__: Senador, mukha hong nag-eenjoy kayo sa inyong, well, friendship. At ito nga, sabi ninyo, malaking bentahe ito sa inyong pangangampanya at sa kagustuhan ninyon suportahan kayo, lalo na ng mga kabataan.

__: Senador Aquino, bukod po kay dating Pangulong Estrada, may mga balak pa po ba kayong kausapin?

__: Gaanong kalaking factor ho ngayon ang suporta ng inyong mga pamilya dito sa inyong ginawang desisyon ngayon?

Watching the Tiangco portion of the "24 Oras" interview with Erap made me cringe both from disapproval at the rather callously inappropriate line of questioning and from the discomfort of watching Erap slide from proclamation "high" into interrogation put down. Imagine the subject were not Erap but another comebacking politician who just concluded his proclamation rally--how would it sound for a news anchor to hammer on why the former public official had to run again? Wouldn't that be considered bastos by any decent journalistic standards?

Contrast the badgering Erap got with the kids' glove treatment the network gave Noynoy. Same interview format for the two presidentiables right after after their respective formal declaration of intent to run in 2010: two interviewers--female and male who hurled questions one after the other. While GMA-7 subjected ex-President Estrada to an interrogation-style interview, Sen. Aquino was accorded brattish tweetums TV time.

Is it by sheer "luck" that Noynoy was asked rather 'beautiful' questions in the tradition of "Star Struck": about his "friendship" with, and how he wooed his VP bet; and "family support" behind the decision to run? Or is it by the network's deliberate design?

Of course, the sets of interviewers were different--veterans for Erap and a little less for Noynoy--but is that an excuse for a pronounced journalistic slant? The interview with Sen. Aquino was conducted by children's program "Art Angel" host Pia Arcangel and Raffy Tima, who might be a commended news producer but is still very "soft" in interview work. It was reported by QTV, which is a television network owned by GMA Network, Inc., with the video published at the GMA News website. If the interview was not deliberately designed to be pro-Noynoy, shouldn't the network have assigned the task to the politically sharper hosts such as Tiangco and Enriquez or others?

What GMA-7 should have asked Noynoy

If the network that describes itself as "Walang Kinikilingan..." were genuinely even half as fair and non-prejudicial, it would have been as polite and tweetums in its interview with Estrada as it was with Noynoy. After all, it's hardly politically correct to turn an interview of a former leaders ousted by a conspiracy into a prosecution-style interrogation on the very occasion of the proclamation of his political comeback. Actually, such a badgering interview bordering on humiliation--given the context of the occasion--is politically incorrect regardless of who the interviewee is.

Then again, the "Kapuso" network is a proud member of the Fourth Estate tasked to serve as watchdog that ferrets out the truth and is exempted, perhaps, from the dictates of political correctness. Still, the network should have been as tough-talking and callously inquisitive in its interview with Noynoy. It would have been a lot more real and unbiased had GMA-7 asked presidentiable Noynoy questions that hewed somewhat to the following:

Host: Magandang umaga ho, Senador Aquino. Hindi po ba't humingi ng tawad ang inyong ina na si yumaong Pangulong Corazon sa kanyang naging bahagi sa pagpapatalksik kay dating Pangulong Estrada, eh bakit ho tumatakbo kaya ngayon?

Host: Hindi ho ba dapat suportahan n'yo na lang ang kandidatura ni Pangulong Erap bilang paggalang sa naging posisyon ng inyong ina?

Host: Napabalita po noon na kinausap ng inyong ina si Erap upang ipasok kayo sa line-up ng oposisyon noong 2007 elections, hindi po ba? Kinonsidera nyo ho ba ang bagay na ito sa desisyon ninyong tumakbo bilang pangulo at lumaban sa mga ibang kandidato kabilang na si dating Pangulong Estrada?

Host: Ang sabi ho ng ilan ay itinakwil ni yumaong Pangulong Aquino ang EDSA 2 nang humingi siya ng tawad kay dating Pangulong Estrada. Ano ho ang inyong posisyon? Itinatakwil nyo rin ho ba ang pangyayaring iyon sa kasaysayan ng ating bayan?

Host: Senador Aquino, bakit ho sa Club Filipino kayo nag-deklara ng inyong kahandaan tumakbo sa pagka-Pangulo sa susunod na halalan? Ginagaya ho ba natin ang nangyaring proklamasyon bilang Pangulo ng inyong ina noong 1986?

Host: Noon hong 1985 o 1986, tinanggap lamang ng inyong ina ang hamon na kumandidato laban kay Marcos nang naiprisinta na sa kanya ang isang milyong pirma na nagu-udyok sa kanyang tumakbo. Kayo ho ba ay tumatakbo dahil nakatanggap na din kayo ng kaparehong bilang ng pirma ng mga taong nais kayong lumahok sa halalan sa pagka-Pangulo sa 2010?

Host: Sinasabi ho ng ilang kritiko na hindi ho naging lubos na matagumpay and Reporma sa Lupa sa panahon ni Dating Pangulong Aquino. Ano hong ba ang gagawin ninyo tungkol sa isyung ito sakaling manalo kayo bilang Pangulo? Ano ho ang plano ninyo at ng inyong mga kamag-anak sa Hacienda Luisita?

Host: Senador Noynoy, meron pong nagsasabing hindi naman daw ho talagang maganda ang inyong legislative performance. Ano ho kaya ang magagawa ninyo bilang Pangulo sakaling mahalalal kayo?

Host: Huling tanong na laman po. Buo na ho ba ang inyong senatorial line-up?

Overcoming the Media Bias

In fairness to GMA-7, it is not the only network that has exhibited a critical tendency against Estrada. Back in 2001, it joined ABS-CBN in the demonization of the former President and the corollary celebration of the "People Power II" coup by covering the 4-day uprising practically 24/7 and running their respective 'Edsa 2 victory' video clips soon after Erap's ouster. It should be mentioned, however, that GMA-7 ran their celebratory EDSA 2 video days, if not weeks, longer than did ABS-CBN (I well took mental note of that).

Both networks can be said to be guilty of condescending treatment of the pro-Erap EDSA 3, giving it minimal coverage. It was only non-mainstream Net 25, owned by Iglesia ni Cristo," which covered "People Power 3" full time.

In other words, hindi nag-iisa ang GMA-7 in having a history of either belittling political actions of the masses or simply being biased against Estrada. Veteran journalist Rowena Carranza wrote snootily about EDSA 3, with the title saying it all: "Excuse me, Please Don't call it People Power III.' Carranza, of the print media, along with the PDI, is not alone in the tendency to negatively portray either the former President or his supporters, or both.

The TV, radio, and mainstream print media, along with the blogosphere, are littered with anti-Erap content, whether or not veiled in pretenses of objectivity. Cacho-Olivares of the Daily Tribune, a fiery but hardly mainstream media entity, laments the resurgence of the demonization of Erap in time with his renewed bid for the presidency:

"With the Erap magic still glowing, as shown by the crowd of thousands that went to Tondo to witness Erap Estrada's official declaration to run for the presidency, there went the usual elite civil socialites, once again demonizing him, and even saying that Estrada has a poor track record and a bad Cabinet.

One truly wonders where they get their facts, because official records show that Estrada certainly did a better job as President than their anointed has."

In explaining the political longevity of Arroyo despite huge problems in corruption and hunger, nationalist economist and political analyst Alejandro Lichauco writes that despite obvious support of the majority of Filipinos, Erap is faced with the problem of his inability to get a considerable segment of the upper and middle classes to his side, which includes the opinion makers, along with the intellectuals and revolutionary leaders. Alejandro continues: "While that class is numerically insignificant, it holds the levers of political power."

It is clear that the media is not the only hurdle for the ousted President. Military support--not necessarily in terms of loyalty to him but to the majority of the Filipinos--is perhaps even more important. Granting that the nation is able to maintain some democratic space for 'press freedom,' however, the opinion maker that is the media remains an important tool that would make or break Joseph Ejercito Estrada's "final, final performance."



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Noynoy's Song

Manuel L. Quezon III (via Facebook) publishes the official theme song of NOYNOY AQUINO.
Listen to it at the above Tumblr Page.  Here are the lyrics in Filipino:




Hanap ko ay tunay na kalayaan

Hatid sa’ting lahat, disenteng kabuhayan

Hanap ko ang isang tunay na pinuno

Sa kahirapan, lahat tayo’y ihahango


Siya na ba? Siya na nga! Siya nawa.

Tapos na sana ang matinding pighati

Siya na ba? Siya na nga! Harinawa.

Tanggalin ang tiwali. itatama ang mali!



Babalik ang aming paniniwala

Ibibigay muli aming pagtitiwala

Hindi ka na namin pababayaan

Hinding-hindi ka namin iiwanan


Siya na nga! Walang bahid, walang duda!

Buhay muli ang pag-asang minimithi

Siya na nga! Walang bahid, walang duda

Tanggalin ang tiwali, itatama ang mali!


Gising na mahal kong bayan

Siya na nga, maari kang tumaya

Sa pagtanggol ng kalayaan, kasama ka sa

Laban na tapat, laban ng lahat.


Siya na nga! Walang bahid, walang duda

Buhay muli ang pag-asang minimithi

Siya na nga (Siya na nga!) Walang bahid, walang duda

Tanggalin ang tiwali, itatama ang mali

Siya na nga (Siya na nga!) Walang bahid, walang duda

Buhayin muli ang pag-asang minimithi

Siya na nga (Siya na nga!) Walang bahid, walang duda

Tanggalin ang tiwali, itatama ang mali

Siya na nga! Siya na nga….(REPEAT)

Translations or interpretations are in order in the Comment Thread...

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Overpopulation Elephant

In Ecology and Population  Rosa Linda G. Valenzona presents the case for regarding OVERPOPULATION as non-problem, mainly as a defense of the Catholic Church's long-standing opposition to all forms of artificial birth control and that even preventative birth control (using, pills, condoms and diaphragms) is a form of abortion.

I think that recent events brought about by Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Ramil will now refocus public attention on the problem of overpopulation as we all grapple with what ought to be done for future storms.  Inevitably, the position taken by the Church pooh-poohing the impact of runaway population growth and irresponsible parenthood will now run smack into a realization that the effects of overpopulation are really what turned mere typhoons into terrible catastrophes: urban congestion and overcrowding; massive garbage and sewage problems including clogged waterways; flimsy and substandard housing for millions of poor families living in flood-prone and otherwise dangerous locations.

In trying to define the elements of long-term disaster preparedness, whether for urban or rural communities, we cannot avoid taking explicitly into account how many human beings are involved, and where they all are living, working, existing.  We cannot honestly claim we are prepared for  disaster  if our preparations are not scaled to the actual size of the population to be served.

POPULATION SIZE is clearly a prime consideration in any long term plan.  emergency rescue,  food, shelter, clothing and all the goods of households and families whenever storms like Ondoy and Pepeng come calling.

The 1987 Constitution's entire Article XV is about the family  recognizing the family as the foundation of the nation and defining the inviolable social institution of marriage as the foundation of the family (Sections 1 and 2 below).
Section 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.

Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State.

Section 3. The State shall defend:

(1) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood;

(2) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation and other conditions prejudicial to their development;

(3) The right of the family to a family living wage and income; and

(4) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them.

Section 4. The family has the duty to care for its elderly members but the State may also do so through just programs of social security.
In Section 3, four distinct "rights" are named: of spouses, children, family and associations of families. Although the word "duty" does not appear in any provision of Section 3, and only the word "right" appears, I submit that implicit in each provision is some kind of duty or obligation to society on the part of the beneficiary of the right involved.

In other words, with each right to be defended by the State,  we can associate a definite duty as follows:

(1) In Section 3(1), we can easily see that  the "right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions"  is in fact strictly limited by "the demands of responsible parenthood".

Responsible parenthood, in my opinion, demands that every family be right sized according to its resources and disposition.  It is completely irresponsible for parents to have more children than they can feed, shelter, clothe, educate, or indeed,  prepare against disasters for, directly, themselves.  I think it is illegitimate when spouses procreate children thinking that the State or their extended family will throw them some kind of line anyway.

Strictly speaking the word "religious" in the above provision is quite superfluous, since leaving it out would not have changed the State's obligation to defend the right of spouses acting out of religious convictions, and would have included those acting simply out of their own true and heartfelt convictions, even if they themselves would not classify these convictions as "religious."

Clearly the Constitution did not intend to disqualify spouses acting out of nonreligious convictions in raising their families, from the protection of the State.

(2)  The Right of Children to assistance in food, shelter, clothing, education, protection and care, is quite naturally balanced by their duty to obey parents, caretakers, teachers.

(3) The right to a family living wage and income for all who secure jobs that pay a  family living wage.

(4) Likewise the "right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs that affect them" might profitably be regarded as a veritable  DUTY to participate in matters that affect them, such as public emergency response and disaster preparedness.

I think too it is time for all responsible mothers and fathers to accept as their DUTY the right-sizing of their families.  We must only bring into this world as many children as we can in fact decently and responsibly feed, clothe, shelter and educate.  The government then has the associated duty to provide all the knowledge and material resources to accomplish the task of building strong, healthy families that pull their own weight and not create burdens on everyone else because they do not.

Joseph Estrada Vows To Run For President in 2010

Legal Issues on Erap's Candidacy

Even before former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada's Wednesday announcement to claim the presidency again, his eligibility for the office have long been the subject of much debate. Legal scholars and laymen alike have given their two cents' worth on the issue. Once again, we will revisit the legal issues surrounding Estrada's second quest for the presidency or, as he calls it, the "performance of his life."

Let us start with a little background. Estrada was elected president in 1998, but his tenure was cut short when on January 2001 he was ousted from office during the so-called EDSA II revolution where the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented manner, made then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the president by administering to her, through then Chief Justice Hilario Davide, the oath of office for the president. The Supreme Court later on legitimized GMA's assumption of office by ruling in Estrada v. Desierto that Estrada resigned the presidency under the artful doctrines of "totality test" and "constructive resignation." In 2004, after serving about three years as president, GMA run for and was elected as president.

The constitutional provision dealing with the election and term of office of the president is Article 7, Section 4, which is pertinent to the eligibility of Estrada to run. The provision reads as follows:

Section 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.

Those who support the eligibility of Estrada raise the following positions: (1) The bar on second election to the presidency applies only to the incumbent president and (2) Estrada served as president for two and a half years only.

The first position argues that in prohibiting the election of a person to the presidency for the second time, the second sentence of Article 7, Section 4 refers only to the incumbent president as evidenced by the use of the definite article "the." Thus, in saying that "[t]he president" is not eligible for re-election the phrase simply means the sitting president, which at present is GMA. This position is further reinforced by the use of the word "re-election." The proponents claim that re-election refers to one who has been elected to an office and is seeking to be elected to the same office immediately upon the expiration of his or her term.

Since Estrada is not the incumbent president he is not covered by the prohibition on re-election to the presidency. As former Supreme Court justice and DOJ secretary Serafin Cuevas said, Estrada is not seeking re-election but a new election.

This interpretation would, of course, mean that not only will Estrada be eligible to run for president again, but also Fidel V. Ramos and others who will become president later on - after they are no longer in office. It advances the view that the prohibition on second election to the presidency is not absolute.

The opposing view, on the other hand, states that the use of the definite article "the," before the word president, and the word "re-election" in Section 4 are not conclusive grounds in saying that the prohibition on second election to the presidency applies only to the incumbent president. It is argued that the adjective "any" before the word re-election dispels this. Thus, when Section 4 states that the president shall not be eligible for any re-election, it means that the president cannot be elected president again either immediately upon the expiration of his or her term or on any presidential election thereafter.

If the intention were that the ban applies only to the election upon expiration of the holder's tenure of office, the adjective "any" would clearly be out of place and useless. But the insertion of this adjective suggests that the ban on re-election is not limited to the election to be held at the end of the incumbent president's term but on any other presidential election. The phraseology of Section 4 looks forward which thus makes the ban on second election to the presidency apply now and in the future to the sitting president.

The adjective "any" clearly modifies the word "re-election" by giving it a non-restrictive meaning. In addition the dictionary defines re-election as to elect again. Thus, one can be considered re-elected to the same office even after the interval of one or more terms.

Proponents of Estrada's re-election also explain that the rationale of Section 4 in prohibiting re-election is to prevent an incumbent president from using the power and influence of his or her office to ensure electoral victory. Obviously this rationale would have no application to one who is no longer president, which argues for the non-application of the prohibition to a former president like Estrada. The contrary view, however, is that if indeed this is the rationale, then why is the same not true in the case of one who succeeded as president and has served as such for four years or less. The third sentence of Section 4 states that such person will be eligible for election to the presidency. Such person will be enjoying the same power and influence as president - as in the case of GMA after succeeding to the presidency in 2001 - and yet the Constitution does not prohibit him or her from running in the next presidential election. The incumbent's advantage, therefore, is not a very strong argument.

As regards the second point of those favoring Estrada's candidacy, they argue that Estrada did not finish his term as president since he only served two and a half years. This is, however, a long shot. The ban on re-election under Section 4 does not require that the president must complete his or her term before the prohibition is triggered.

A variant of this position is that since on the third sentence of Section 4 it prohibits second election only when one who became president has served the presidency for more than four years, Estrada would be qualified to run since he only served two and a half years as president. But the contrary view holds that said provision of Section 4 applies only to one who became president by virtue of succession, such as when the vice president becomes president because the president dies, resigns or becomes permanently incapacitated.

This claim is supported by the phraseology of Section 4's third sentence when it says that no person who has succeeded as president and has served under that capacity for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the presidency at any time. The provision uses the word "succeeded as president" instead of "elected as president" or "became president," which means that it refers to the rule of succession. Also, this interpretation is supported by the use of the word "election" on the third sentence of Section 4, to wit:

No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.

Obviously, one who became president by the rule of succession is not elected to the office he or she succeeded. In contrast, the second sentence uses the word "re-elected" because it speaks of one who has already been elected to the presidency.

There is view to the effect that if GMA was allowed to run for president in 2004, having served as president immediately prior thereto for less than four years, there is also no reason why Estrada cannot run for president, considering that he also served for less than four years. This proposition, however, ignores the fact that GMA only succeeded to the office of presidency in 2001 while Estrada was elected thereto in 1998.

One other legal obstacle being thrust into Estrada's candidacy is his conviction for plunder, which carried the accessory penalty of disqualification. It would appear, however, that the absolute nature of the pardon granted him by President Macapagal-Arroyo has eliminated this legal challenge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Who's sleeping with the enemy?

Last weekend Leslie Bassett, the US Embassy’s charge d’affaires, met with the top officials of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The meeting raises several questions.

Did the American Embassy ask the Arroyo administration for permission to meet with the MILF leadership?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Malacañang have not said anything. Military commanders in the area did not know that a meeting would take place.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the Americans simply requested him to provide security for their “routine familiarization visit.”

Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, spokesman for the Sixth Infantry Division that provided escorts for the Americans, was also clueless.

“We learned afterward from intelligence reports about the meeting. We learned that they discussed development projects and probably also the peace process.”

Now I don’t know about you but I think the US Embassy and, for that matter, all embassies, have an obligation to ask the host government for permission before sitting down with secessionists.

If the meeting was secret and held without the Arroyo administration’s permission, then the US Embassy not only breached diplomatic protocol—it also committed a subversive act.

Who initiated the meeting?

It’s not clear. The MILF was not forthcoming and the US Embassy downplayed it.

“Ms. Bassett met with various leaders and officials in Cotabato as part of a routine familiarization visit.”

What did the Americans and the secessionists discuss during their “warm and forthright” two-hour meeting?

Neither party provided details, but general statements coming from the US Embassy and the MILF make one wonder if indeed the US is taking the side of the secessionists.

The MILF web site posted Bassett’s statement and the profuse response of the MILF chieftain.

“The United States government greatly respects and supports the people’s struggle and aspiration to achieve peace in the region. Helping attain and sustain peace, security and development in Mindanao is a priority concern of our government,” said Bassett.

MILF chief Haji Murad responded, “We convey the utmost gratitude and felicitations of the MILF and the Bangsamoro people to the United States of America and His Excellency President Barack Obama for the unfaltering commitment to support the peace process and the peaceful conflict resolution between the government and MILF.”

Now, would Murad feel that way if he didn’t believe that Bassett’s statement is a message of support for the MILF’s goal of eventually seceding from the Republic?

The MILF is so confident of US support the vice chairman for MILF political affairs appealed for US intervention.

“The US government knows very well the background of the conflict both historically and legally, and we believe that the US can greatly help toward the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” said Ghazali Jaafar.

Jaafar’s statement seems innocuous enough until one sees where it’s coming from.

The MILF web site says, “Murad [the MILF chieftain] recalled that our Bangsamoro forefathers officially asked the United Sates as early as 1921 and followed up in 1924 and in 1935 to separate Bangsamoro homeland from the Filipinos of Luzon and Visayas once independence will be granted to the latter. The Moros wanted to remain under US rule rather than being annexed to the Philippine Republic.”

Is the US sleeping with the enemy?

Yes, but the US is not the only one in bed with the MILF.

Last year the Supreme Court had to step in to prevent the Arroyo administration from giving away Philippine territory to the MILF.

Source: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Did Gloria Pardon Erap?

After JOSEPH "Erap" ESTRADA  was convicted of plunder by a handpicked trio of judges in the Sandiganbayan (which had never before, or since been done) most people were surprised when President Gloria Arroyo swiftly pardoned him. 

At the time, the general concensus was that the President did not think it possible to allow the process to proceed any further, for example, for Erap to actually be jailed in Bilibid Prison. It was said to be simply unthinkable and politically untenable because of the strong support that Erap had and still does have from a very significant fraction of the population, especially but not exclusively amongst the poor.

I never quite bought this justification.  I always believed that Erap would've done what his lawyer, Rene Saguisag was saying he would do and bring the case up for review by the Supreme Court, which would've forced a full threshing out of what really happened at Edsa Dos, and specifically the actions of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide.  Years after the event, the illegal and unconstitutional nature of his acts on 20 January 2001 (swearing in GMA, aborting the impeachment trial that was sure to ACQUIT the accused, and plotting that coup d'etat with Angelo Reyes and GMA) are as clear as day to most careful observers and even supporters of Edsa Dos.  Preventing such a Supreme Court case re-examining all this to affirm the plunder conviction--I was convinced--was GMA's real reason for pardoning Erap.

I now think this was only a small part of her motivation for pardoning Erap because even by then SCoRP could've been relied upon to once more save themselves from self-incrimination.

I now think that the real reason is a more far-reaching vision of her own personal political fortunes.  I believe now that she will step down from the Presidency in 2010, but that she will run for Congress in her home district of Pampanga, and come to dominate the Congress, perhaps as its Speaker, which a former President could manage to do.

Furthermore, she will "allow" SCoRP to decide in favor of Erap and allow him to run for the Presidency in 2010, a ruling that will also automatically make her eligible for the Presidency again in 2016, when she will only be 68 years young and by then a Senior Statesman like Fidel Ramos.  If her candidate(s) don't win in 2010, she would lead the Opposition against whoever does, maybe even Erap.

Then shoot for the Presidency again in six years.   (BTW, I think her real candidate in the election next year is Manny Villar).

Friday, October 16, 2009

On the proposed climate change act

Two climate change bills have been introduced in the Senate on climate change. The Loren Legarda SB (2583) and the Defensor-Santiago SB (3274) aim to establish a climate change commission. This commission will incorporate climate change climate change concepts in policy formulation, development plans in government. Both versions of the bill mandate a climate change action plan. The consoloidated version of the bill is on the President's table for signing. Because of the recent typhoon related disasters that have hit the country, the President is likely to sign the bill at the end of the month.

The bill is like any other similar bill that establishes a government agency under the Office of the President. Heads or representatives of lead agencies and departments of government are ex officio members of the commission. The commission has several offices under it and one of them is a research office.

While the aims of the bill is laudable, the effectiveness of the commission lies in getting the needed congressional appropriations. At the start the cash will come from the Palace but the commission will have to get its money from Congress. Also the provisions of having LGUs make their own climate change plans is good to read on paper but may be extremely difficult in practice. The reason is that LGUs under the local government act will have to source the money from their own revenues. Some LGUs are so cash strapped that they can't even fund their environmental departments effectively.

There is also a lack of climate change experts in the country that may hinder effective implementation of the act at all levels. The commission under the Defensor-Santiago version of the bill has the authority to seek external funding aside from congressional appropriations in order to support activities such as vulnerability assessment and mapping.

If Congress realizes the importance and magnitude of the climate change environmental issue, it will have to put a premium on appropriations for the commission.

Consider the Aquino Legacy: Should Noynoy Aquino Run for President?

Consider the Aquino Legacy: Should Noynoy Aquino Run for President?

(NOTE: This is a repost of an old Sept. 5, 2009 article that went missing, either by accidental deletion or blog template migration/software glitches)

Sen. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III is supposedly in Davao for a spiritual retreat, trying to seek "divine guidance" as to whether he should run for president in 2010. I hope that when he emerges on Monday, he would have already communed with and, thereby, been enlightened by the spirits of his father and mother. It is my ardent hope that by the end of his retreat, he would come to the right decision and continue the path of his mortal but noble parents--allow himself to be driven purely by the vision of a truly democratic Philippines, abandon partisan and elitist politics and announce to the Filipinos that he will unify the opposition by dropping his newfound presidential ambitions. He would then ask his supporters to respect the wisdom of his decision and explain that his running will only further divide the country because the obtaining conditions were unlike those in 1985 and 1986.

He would perhaps then articulately recall the famous, stirring words of his father, the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino: "I am no longer seeking the presidency of this land, I am not seeking anymore any office in this country... I shall dedicate the last drop of my blood to the restoration of freedom." His retreat, I hope, will make the senator see that his martyr father was able to unite the Filipinos by entirely letting go of his personal ambitions and offering himself not as a leader who worked to covet the presidency from strongman Ferdinand Marcos but one who offered his life, or his death, to achieve our unity.

1986 Conditions Not Found

It is true, of course, that Noynoy's mother, former President Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino, ran for the top elective post in 1986 and in a way, therefore, materialized in her person the old presidential ambitions of Ninoy. However, as practically everyone recognizes so, Cory was a reluctant presidential bet who only agreed to run in the bid to unite the opposition. The unity process went like this: following President Marcos' call for snap elections "in answer to [the opposition's] request," one million signatures petitioning for Cory's candidacy were presented her; the opposition then slowly united behind Ninoy's widow; while it took some time, her husband's friend and top presidential contender of the mainstream opposition, former Sen. Salvador "Doy" Laurel of the UNIDO party was eventually convinced to slide down as Cory's vice-presidential running mate amidst public clamor to ensure an opposition victory.

If Noynoy were any bit serious in truly carrying out the patriotic mission of his parents in ensuring that democracy lives on, he'll see that the present conditions do not warrant his bid for the presidency, at least not yet in 2010. For one, the incumbent "President" Gloria Arroyo is constitutionally barred from running for the presidency. This means that unless charter change efforts by the administration succeed, there really is no strongman or strongwoman that the opposition will face. Secondly, there appears to be no replication of the 1 M signatures happening (which today should really be around 1.8 or 2M to compensate for the country's population increase).

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there are so many presidential wannabe's from the opposition and they are generally not inclined to give way to him. Just about those who have signified the intention to shelve their own presidential ambitions for any "unity" bet are his own partymates or ex-partymates: Mar Roxas, who probably has been under pressure from ex. Sen. Jovito Salonga, and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who is only eyeing the VP slot anyhow. Gov. Panlilio has reportedly already gave way but all other top opposition contenders based on survey showings are not: Villar, Escudero, Legarda and even ex-President Joseph Estrada.

Should Noynoy Listen to Lacson and Pangilinan?

Noynoy should also question the "moral quality" of the politicians urging him to run if he really wants to be rightly guided in his decision. Sen. Panfilo Lacson is also throwing his support behind Noynoy and has even urged Estrada to do the same but the thing is that he's not even a presidential contender. Moreover, Lacson is known not only for abandoning his Jose Pidal expose but worse, also has the track record of splitting the opposition back in 2004. Had he agreed to play second fiddle to Fernando Poe Jr., Arroyo would have been long out of Malacanang and the governance problems of this country not allowed to balloon to debacle levels.

Pangilinan is another figure Noynoy should not easily heed and, instead, question for his political morality. In throwing support for Sen. Aquino, the husband of mega-actress Sharon Cuneta claimed in an interview that the only reason he wanted to run for VP was because he hoped to introduce an alternative government program. What moral right does Pangilinan have to claim he stands for reform and tell the Filipinos to support Noynoy when he is a suspect insofar as disrespect of the constitution and the people's vote is concerned. Who could really forget his role as Sen. "Noted" during the canvassing of votes for the disputed 2004 elections? Being the chairman of the Joint Congressional Canvassing body, he certainly played a notable role in the failure of Congress to open the contested provincial COCs and provide the Philippines the real victor in the presidential elections, a year before the "Hello Garci" wiretapping expose. Perhaps, his "Noted" role even gives every genuine believer in the workings of democracy the right to suspect him as one of Arroyo's minions in Congress who were tasked to delay “the senatorial canvassing until after the voting on the rules“, as revealed by the 11:25, 26 May 2004 recording in the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes.

Gov. Panlilio, on the other, does speak from a moral high ground and Noynoy can perhaps listen to him. However, it is also a fact that the governor priest is considered a minor presidential contender with negligible base of support.

If the conditions that paved the way for Cory's presidential bid in 1986 were to form the basis of Sen. Aquino's decision for 2010, the unijo hijo of Ninoy should find no reason to jump into the coming presidential race. The best possible but rather remote scenario that those pushing him to run can hope for is that the three factors be replicated today in sort of reversed order--Noynoy announces his bid, the 1 or 2 million signatures are presented to him, and all the presidential wannabe's from the opposition support him. If that happens, that would be called baiting for it; otherwise, Noynoy will only further split the opposition.

Beware What the People Really Want

Misreading of what the general public--not just a limited strata of the entire population--wants could only work against the interest and genuine advancement of the nation, and could even alienate and trample on the will of the masses. I remember that following the EDSA 2 disguised coup, I started avoiding broadcast commemorative features or documentaries of the 1986 EDSA as well as tarmac scenes of Ninoy's assassination. In fact, I even went as far as dismissing those historic scenes as events come to naught due to the EDSA 2's sacrilege of the genuine spirit of "People Power" and the destruction of the very Constitution the original EDSA brought forth. Her own mother seemed to share my cerebral processing of the pretender "People Power,” as proved no less by Cory's December 2008 apology to Erap over being "guilty to the 2001 uprising" (Amidst news na nagkasagutan sila, the spokeswoman 'clarified' that the apology was said in "jest" but later stressed that the former President is "not taking it back.")

Unless "Tita Cory" herself, before she died, was able to give even just a hint that he should seek the presidency in 2010 in order to "unite the opposition" or forge a stronger front against the totally wicked governance of the EDSA 2 "President" whose para-constitutional installation they both were themselves were party to, then Noynoy better just go the way of his noble parents. In 1992, following her task of restoring the institutions of democracy, Cory did the way of her hero husband and refused the temptation of taking another shot at the presidency. She remained vigilant in guarding the newfound democracy, figuring in the anti-Cha-Cha rallies during Ramos' time. The late former President made the "mistake" of calling for Erap's ouster in 2001, but before her death, managed to make peace with the masses of EDSA 3. This helped renew what she had long lost, the "Cory magic," to resurface in the show of ardent support and militancy during her funeral.

Ninoy, the patriarch of this seeming family of patriots, showed his great love for the country by turning his back on elite politics, his Liberal Party, and his presidential ambitions. If Sen. Noynoy truly wants to offer his life to serve the Philippines, it would be wise for him to follow the examples of his parents while being his own man: rise above partisan politics and forget that he is an LP, listen less to the civil society's views of what democracy and government should be, and listen more to the politically marginalized masses. If he can do that, he'll know whether to run or not in 2010.


SOURCE: Philippine Commentary

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's Wrong With That SWS Survey?

MATHEMATICAL THEOREM: Anyone can get 100% mentions and TOP the SWS Presidential Survey ("Choose-3") yet get ZERO votes in the election. (Proof: Imagine a candidate named as the 2nd choice of 50% of the respondents and 3rd choice of the other 50%. Quod erap demonstrandum!).

I think it would be interesting if SWS would reveal HOW Noynoy Aquino got 60% of the mentions in its 3rd Quarter survey: in other words what percentage mentioned him as first, second or third on their list of names in answer to the main question posed by this survey:

"Under the present Constitution, the term of Pres. Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed Pres. Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names." 

This of course assumes that it would be the natural tendency of respondents to list down first on the list their actual preferred choice for president if the election were to be held then.  In my earlier post on this topic, I was thinking about the second and third place mentions of respondents in order to explain why the percentage reported do not add up to 300% as they should: it is because SWS does not report names mentioned by less than 0.14 percent of the respondents.  Now it turns out this is nearly half of the data in each quarterly survey, judging from the fact that for example this most recent survey adds up to 153% or so!

This does bring up another important point.  In their Table of Results, SWS places dashes ("-") in the first nine runnings of the poll in the row for NOYNOY AQUINO.  I think it would be interesting for SWS to reveal how Noynoy did in those previous polls, or was he NEVER mentioned in any of the polls since 2007.  That hardly seems likely.  But even if his numbers were less than 0.14 percent, they should report it, even if it reveals how sensitive to current events their poll actually is, like the funerals of Democracy's Icons.

I personally do not believe that Social Weather Stations is making any of this data up.  However, the Public and even the Blogosphere has not yet wrapped their minds around this SWS survey. It's a tricky little gem of public opinion polling that seems to me built to generate headlines.

Statistics truly is the Science of Innuendo. Unless we can get "under the hood" and see what is really going on, there is plenty of mischief possible because public opinion polling has become a lucrative business, a genre of propaganda.

Erap Bids For Historical Redemption

DEPOSED Philippine leader JOSEPH "ERAP" ESTRADA today announced his intention to seek the Presidency in May, 2010 in an obvious bid for historical redemption. His survival and present candidacy is testament to the historic failure of Edsa Dos, which would certainly be repudiated if he wins.  He will run along with Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay as vice-presidential running mate, and a nearly full slate of senatorial candidates including Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate Pro Tempore Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Representatives Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin Jr., Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Rodolfo Plaza, lawyer Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Jose "Joey" de Venecia III, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Edu Manzano, former chairman of the Optical Media Board. Running under the United Opposition (UNO) flag, a twelfth senate seat has been left open for a guest candidate.  It appears Erap has put together a pretty strong senatorial lineup, with members of the Senate, Congress, provincial and local government, the military, entertainment, legal and political professions.

Aquino Ally To Run With Estrada-Binay Senatorial Ticket?

But perhaps the most interesting senatorial candidate of Erap is Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin, who is among other things, well known as Cory Aquino's long time speech writer, Press Secretary,  advisor, confidante and friend.  Teddy Boy wrote her famous speech before the US Congress and one of the best eulogies  after she died.  I think it is a political minus for NOYNOY AQUINO who has nonetheless just topped the 3rd Quarter SWS survey.  I recently analyzed this Choose 3 form of the survey here. In this connection check out also the report (via Cesar Purisima and MLQ3) of the existence of a "private rider" question in the above SWS survey, wherein Noynoy and Mar both are preferred over the other candidates in their respective races in a "Pick One" situation (100% total).   


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beavis and Butthead

I was sitting all by myself, enjoying a double espresso, when I saw Phil at a table across me. I waved him over.

“Phil! What are you doing here in the Philippines?”

“2010 man, I want to be part of it,” he replied.

“You’re going to vote?”

“Yup, and campaign, too.”

“For whom?”


“He’s the one,” I said.

“Yes he is. But I ran into my friend Beavis and he told me I’m making a big mistake,” Phil said.

“So who does Beavis support, the convicted plunderer, the ethically challenged billionaire senator, or the Cabinet secretary who promises more of the same?”

“He didn’t say.  All he said was he didn’t like Noynoy. Anyway, he gave me a book he said would change my mind about Noynoy.”

“What’s in that book?”

“It’s supposed to be a well-documented account of the excesses of Cory Aquino.”

“Beavis thinks he can bring down Noynoy by promoting a book that slimes Cory?”

“He doesn’t see it that way. He says he’s doing his patriotic duty.”

“Pissing on Cory’s grave is patriotic?  Show me the book.”

The book was written by Cecil Arillo, camp follower and chronicler of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, a cabal of soldiers that holds the all-time record for staging the most number of failed coups.

“Have you finished reading it?”

“No, I haven’t started, why?”

“Some passages are marked,”

“Beavis marked them for me.”

“Ah, okay. How about I read you the marked passages?”

“Sure,” he said.

And so I read.

“In many instances, President Aquino may have been worse than Marcos. She also ruled by decree [by virtue of a revolutionary government that was suddenly in place], abolished the 1973 Constitution, violated human rights and betrayed the Filipino people.”

I saw Phil’s eyes turn into saucers before coffee went shooting out of his nose and onto my shirt.

“May I continue?” I asked, pretending I didn’t mind the coffee stains on my new shirt.

“Please do,” he said.

“Aquino built a complex of overpasses in Metro Manila that only constricted some of the major arteries.”

Phil burst out laughing, “Stop fooling around, read from the book!”

“I am reading from the book! Here’s another gem.”

“When President Aquino addressed the US Congress in 1986, she missed a historic opportunity to ask the US government to write off the $26.3-billion indebtedness that the Marcos regime had bequeathed to her administration.”

“Marcos owed the US government $26.3 billion?”

“No. The US government didn’t lend $26.3 billion to the Marcos regime. ”

“Then why slam Cory for not asking the US Congress to forgive a $26.3 billion debt not owed it?”

“The next excerpt will answer your question,” I said.

“Other similarly distressed countries such as Poland and Egypt had asked for, and were granted, a write-off.”

Phil raised his voice, “But that’s entirely different! The US government was the creditor of Poland and Egypt, it was in a position to forgive their debts!”

“Hey, it’s my voice but it’s Arillo doing the talking!” I shouted back.

“Sorry buddy.”

“Here’s something that will amuse you.”

“…her regime left a paper trail that revealed its own scandals and corruption. Remember the ‘Rela-thieves’ and ‘Kamag-anaks Inc.’ exposed by Doy Laurel, then her own vice president?”

“Really?” Phil asked.

“The question is, kaya ba niyang panindigan ang sinabi niya? Can Arillo cite any congressional investigation, any complaint lodged with the Ombudsman, or any impeachment filed as a result of graft, corruption, extortion or plunder by Cory or any of her relatives?”

I added, “Sure, some of Cory’s relatives were trapo; but they were not plunderers. Were there scandals like Centennial Expo, BW Resources or ZTE-NBN during Cory’s time?”

“Well you know what they say, where there’s smoke there’s fire,” Phil teased.

“True, but in this case the smoke you see is blowing out of Arillo’s behind.”

I read another excerpt.

“…she threw out all the worthwhile infrastructure and economic programs of Marcos and branded them all as the handiwork of the devil. She mothballed the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant [BNPP], for example.”

“Be grateful,” said Phil.


“You can argue about the safety of nuclear power plants but there is no argument over radioactive waste disposal. Every country with a nuclear power plant is faced with that unsolvable problem. What are you going to do with BNPP’s spent radioactive fuel rods?”

“The rods can be sold to Ahmadinejad and Kim,” I joked.

“Or you can stick them up your rear end,” he retorted.

“Do you want to hear more excerpts?”

“No more crap for me today, thanks.”

Before we parted, I told Phil to remind his friend Beavis that it’s okay to be against Noynoy and to campaign against him, but it’s not okay to bring him down by sliming his dead mother.

“Tell Beavis anyone who does that is beneath contempt,” I said.

Posted by Manuel Buencamino

Source: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom

Why SWS Presidential Survey Does Not Add Up To 100% But 300%

Facebook messages have proclaimed a new King of the SWS Presidential Survey:

At Midfield: Noynoy (60%), Villar (37%), Erap (18%), Chiz (15%), Gibo (5%)
TOTAL: 135% 
Juan Country (Philippine Commentary): Noynoy (60%), Villar (37%),  Estrada (18%) Esucdero (15%) Roxas (12%) Teodoro (5%) Lacson (4%) Fernando (1%) Teodoro (1%)
TOTAL:  153%

But savvy readers are already scratching their heads and wondering why these numbers don't add up to 100% as one might expect and instead exceed 100%.

This is not quite the kind of survey that people think it is, because above two bloggers have not made any kind of mathematical or arithmetical errors and have faithfully posted information found elsewhere on Twitter (@Leah Navarro) and other sources.   But the simple fact is the percentages reported by SWS should not add up to 100%. They should add up to 300%.  And therein lies a statistical tale of great and grave interest to us all...

What SWS does not emphasize however, is that in this very important survey, they appear to "throw out" or at least not report ABOUT HALF OF THE RESPONDENT DATA, which they do mention in a very tiny note on their website:  SWS does not report any candidate names by less than 0.14% of the respondents.  Confused?  Read on...

Every three months, the Social Weather Stations conducts its regular, uncommissioned Quarterly National Survey. SWS asks 1200 randomly selected voting age Filipinos, a variety of questions, including those that usually get reported as hunger and poverty statistics, social attitudes, and of course political preferences. Since September 2007, the Social Weather Stations has included the following question in its Quarterly survey as part of its public opinion polling on the 2010 national elections:
"Under the present Constitution, the term of Pres. Arroyo is up to 2010 only, and there will be an election for a new President in May 2010. Who do you think are good leaders who should succeed Pres. Arroyo as President? You may give up to three names."

SOURCE: Social Weather Stations 2nd Quarter 2009 Press Release

Above Chart summarizes over two years of SWS polling. The raw data (all of it) is contained in the Table below:

Please notice that about ONE HALF of all the data, and by far the largest percentage of the choices goes to someone named "LESS THAN THE THRESHOLD", which SWS pegs at 0.14% (if you carefully comb through the graphics in the link I supplied to SWS above you can find this!)  My take is that when the respondents get to that third possible choice, they end up naming their father, mother, wife, uncle, mayor, themselves! or some other unknown that together with everybody else's third choices usually make up to half of the SWS data!

But as it should, the data does add up to 300% in all columns.   I have a theory I cannot prove, that it is actually the second placer in these  SWS polls that represents a kind of plurality choice.  Noynoy has come out of nowhere (less than 0.14 percent!) to take a whopping --but sympathy confounded--60%.

But the claimed Margin of Error of plus or minus 2.5 percent is SPURIOUS, as one can easily verify that the reported percentages do not add up to 100%! Since there is no fixed menu of candidates given in the question, and the respondents were free to name up to three choices, this form of statistical survey cannot be conventionally analyzed and its accuracy ascertained using the methods that are applicable to more conventional surveys. 

The more realistic measure of how accurate this series of polls is likely to be can be better seen in the numbers of one particular "CANDIDATE" that is never mentioned in the SWS spin of its own data: namely that of NONE or DON'T KNOW, which an inspection of the above chart will show actually competes with the leaders of the survey, and in fact, apparently topped the First Quarter SWS survey. But this fact never made it to the headlines.

Indeed, I would submit that the REAL STATISTICAL ERROR in the SWS survey is at least equal to the  NONE or DON'T KNOW percentage.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Overpopulation Turned Typhoons Into Calamitous Catastrophes

OVERPOPULATION was a major reason for the sheer apocalyptic scale of the Ondoy-Pepeng diluvial calamity.  I don't thing this simple and straightforward fact can be denied.

At every level of discourse,  population policy has to inform any long term Reconstruction and Disaster Preparedness plans about how many people we must be prepared to serve in some future disaster. It makes a big difference if we are planning systems to protect 100 million, 125 million or 200 million people.

Overpopulation created our overcrowded cities with their teeming slums and urban sprawl.

Overpopulation filled full our waterways with our own garbage,  that later,  submerged the neighborhoods of rich and poor alike.

Overpopulation created the thousands of pockets of vulnerable millions that have suffered Ondoy and Pepeng.

Overpopulation is what forced millions into the Marikina Valley where there ought to have been one of Manila's main watersheds and parklands, cheek by jowl with La Mesa Dam and the highlands of the Sierra Madre to the east.  Overpopulation is what caused the megaslums and gated residential communities up and down the Manggahan floodway.

Overpopulated societies foster poverty and unemployment, and the widespread lack of proper food and water, since whatever is available is being diminished by an ever growing denominator of millions more mouths to feed, clothe and shelter. And rescue!

Overpopulation magnifies the woeful inadequacy of the govt to deliver emergency relief and long term reconstruction. Every reconstruction plan and every attempt to achieve a secure "preparedness" against the next Ondoy or Pepeng is forced to deal with a population that is increasing at a rate of more than 2 million people per year.

The Catholic Church will be forced to surrender its traditional opposition to artificial birth control, if the relationship between Overpopulation and Disaster Preparedness  is firmly established in the public's sphere.

Cyclone names and do we blame him/her?

I do believe that one of the main drawbacks of putting people's names on tropical cyclones is that we tend to put on human attributes on these natural phenomena. The practice of putting names on TCs started with an Australian meteorologist in the early 20th century who in true Aussie fashion, christened cyclones with the names of politicians. However long before that time especially in Spanish controlled territories, cyclones were given names based on the Roman Catholic calendar. In WWII it became practice to give cyclones feminine names partly it was believed by male meteorologists (whoever heard of a female meteorologist then?) the cyclone accurately depicts female behaviour! It was only in the 1979 when true gender equality came to the cyclone world. It was only in the 1990s that the Philippines followed suit. The new World Meteorological Organization (WMO) naming convention seems to be more gender neutral than before. But tradition is hard to dump. We tend to associate cyclones with females.

There is a need to give a cyclone a name to distinguish it from other cyclones. Also its serves as a historical record of how bad was the storm or if it had inflicted damage. Cyclone names that inflict much damage are retired from the list.

Today an editorial in the PDI says "All are to blame" This must be the blurb's way of closing the subject on Ondoy(Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) and moving on to other issues and on to Christmas. While blaming humans like us (the saints and the scumbag politicians, informal settlers, real estate developers, government bureaucrats etc in our species) is very reasonable (after all we do have free will!) the editorial falls flat on its face when it concludes

"We could go on and on, and perhaps make a list of 100 or 1,000 things that people do to degrade the environment. They forget that Nature is also governed by the physical law of action and reaction and the ethical law of karma. They should realize that in harming the Earth, they are also harming themselves, and worse, killing themselves."

Well nature is governed by physical laws that is sure, but nature governed by the "Ethical Law of Karma"?!?!?!? Perhaps the PDI editors have been confounded by the human names of our cyclones.

Nature has no will. It is coldly impersonal as Darwin reluctantly noted and Richard Dawkins' preaches.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer in the end blames nature. It is people that are governed by ethical principles.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Heliocentric Theory of Global Warming

EVER SINCE AL GORE WON THE NOBEL PRIZE, many people have "come to believe" that global warming and climate change are caused by the greenhouse effect  of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, the building of cities and large scale agricultural and industrial activity.  For most of the 20th century most of these emissions came from North America and Europe, but now, rapidly developing countries like India and China, will be responsible for most of the increases in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere this century.

But there is problem. According to this  BBC report (thanks Popi!) there appears to be solid evidence we have actually entered a period of global cooling despite the fact that CO2 emissions have steadily increased since 1998, the hottest year on record.  It does not seem possible that greenhouse gas emissions have increased but not global temperature as predicted. 
But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.

Now if greenhouse gases are not controlling global temperature, then what is?  Maybe it's the Sun. Even before the greenhouse gas theory was advanced, the Sun has always been an obvious suspect for changes in the earth's weather and climate.  That was the first thing scientists checked!  BBC continues:
Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.
But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.
The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.
And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.
He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.
He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.
If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.
 The nice thing about this Heliocentric Theory of Global Warming is that it CAN BE TESTED astronomically, since the effect ought to be observable on other planets of the Solar System.