Friday, August 31, 2007

Jose Maria Sison Indicted on Suspicion of Murder by Dutch Court

Following his arrest on suspicion of ordering the murders of his former comrades (Arturo Tabara and Romulo Kintanar) CPP-NPA founder Jose Maria Sison has been indicted by a Dutch Court in The Hague, Netherlands and sent to pre-trial detention and custody for fourteen days. In a terse statement, the Dutch Openbaar Ministrie said:
31 augustus 2007

On Friday Jose Maria Sison, 68, has been brought before the examining judge at court in The Hague. The judge ordered that the communist leader shall remain in pre-trial custody for a period of 14 days. Sison has been arrested on Tuesday by the National Criminal Investigation Service of the Dutch National Police.

He is believed tot be engaged in murder cases in the Philippines. The communist leader is suspected of giving orders, from the Netherlands, to murder former political associates.

For information please contact Wim de Bruin
Under Dutch Law, the Judge can order a further 90 days in pre-trial detention for Sison at the end of the 14 day initial period. Since he was not released today, as his supporters were hoping, it looks like he will eventually be tried for the charge of, let's call it remote control murder, since I don't speak Dutch.

Mr. Sison has been designated as a foreign terrorist personality by the United States and the European Union, and the CPP NPA also are listed as foreign terrorist organizations. The arrest and now indictment of Jose Maria Sison comes because of cases filed against him by the widows of the two slain former CPP-NPA leaders who had become bitter ideological and organizational rivals of the autocratic Communist Party founder and leader. Dutch law criminalizes the ordering of murders even if the actual killings occur outside of the Netherlands.
Mr. Sison is also charged with multiple murder for ordering the execution of hundreds of CPP and NPA members in the 1980s suspected of being spies and deep penetration agents of the government, during a paranoid purge that occurred in the early 1980s. Several mass graves containing the remains of those allegedly killed on the orders of Sison and the CPP's top leadership at that time, have been uncovered by Philippine Military in Central Philippines and are the basis of the multiple murder charges against Sison here.

In Manila, the NPA has vowed retaliatory attacks, led by the media creation called Ka Roger Rosal, spokesman. The CPP=NPA's front organizations under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front (NDF) -- in their menacing half dozens--marched, rallied and demonstrated in support of their jailed leader. And co-accused Satur Ocampo together with Teddy Casino of the militant Bayan Muna party list organization, filed a House Resolution calling on the Congress to investigate the Dutch government and police for the arrest of Sison at an Utrecht police station to which he was invited, and willingly went.

Danny Buenafe, ABSCBN News European correspondent, interviewed "the victims" [his words] of the police raid on Sison's apartment building, including several Dutch "progressives" [his words] who compared the Dutch police to the Nazi Gestapo. He also interviewed the two young sons of Angie Sison, a relative of the arrested communist leader. I pity the two kids, they were obviously coached about what to say, claiming they were "terrorized" by the police.

The Hello Garci Case -- Selected Philippine Commentaries

For the benefit of all our readers that are interested in the Hello Garci Controversy, the Philippine Commentary of January 19, 2006 is reproduced verbatim below. It also contained the following links to the best of the commentaries that were published as that devastating political crisis unfolded and engulfed the Arroyo presidency, and now has reignited in the Senate.

Senate is Really Digging Into Isafp Wiretapping
[first published on January 19, 2006 shortly after the Senate hearing reported in it.]
TECHNICAL SERGEANT VIDAL DOBLE owns the voice on the Garci Tapes annotating many of the conversations including the one with the line "Will I lead by 1M?", according to sworn testimony today by his acknowledged lover and mistress, Ms. Marieta Santos before the Senate Defense Committee of Sen. Rodolfo Biazon. Two more tapes allegedly produced by Intelligence Services of the AFP (ISAFP) were played in the Senate. (Her previous testimony in the Senate was a stunning break in the Senate for the Garci tape controversy because it first established as plausible fact, the accusation that ISAFP had conducted a massive wiretapping operation on behalf of Pres. Arroyo during the 2004 elections, because she or her political machinery did not trust Virgilio Garcillano.) Ms. Santos testified that these contained the vocal annotation of another acquiantance of hers, Vidal Doble's colleague at ISAFP, a Master Sgt. Villedo. That makes them prime witnesses in a coming investigation of how and why the Philippine Military was prostituted to such a partisan and selfish political purpose in 2004 as their use to eavesdrop on public and private persons alike. ABSCBN's report on the Senate hearing focuses on the bugging of FPJ's phone lines. (over which Magdalo's most loved-hated Senator, Gringo Honasan, tried to make much during the hearing. I hope he meets Trillanes, Bumanding, Faeldon and and the rest of the Magdalo in a dark alley one of these days. I reckon he's not seeing too much of them anymore.)

The politicians will surely be up in arms now over the revelation that the wiretapping operation may have been a little wider than first supposed by many. But I have claimed in numerous previous posts however, that the violations of RA4200 involved are completely independent of the CONTENT of any of the conversations. Someone used the military intelligence service to illegally eavesdrop on the Commander in chief and dozens, perhaps hundres of others. That someone should be punished to the full extent of the national security laws, whoever that someone is, even if it is the Commander in chief herself!

The self-evident violations of Republic Act 4200, the Antiwiretapping Law, embodied in the very existence of the Garci Recordings, AS OFFENSES AGAINST NATIONAL SECURITY LAWS, are being investigated by the Senate, under the tireless and dogged efforts of SENATOR RODOLFO BIAZON, who has done more to understand the awesome implications of this angle of the Gloriagate story than anyone else. Everyone has been so fixated on the VOTERIGGING aspect of thing that no one has paid much attention to the obvious: Someone made the Garci Recordings and its many copies. That someone obviously did so illegally, since at least one of its pariticpants, Virgilio Garcillano has claimed he did not authorize such recordings. Ipso facto, they are illegally acquired recordings.

Well if you are just tuning in to this issue just now, have you got a lot of catching up to do. Lucky for you there are all these posts from PHILIPPINE COMMENTARY on this subject:

The Wire Tapping. The Wire Tapping!

Was the Adam and Eve of All Tapes Digital?

Overhearing the Palace Thinking

Rope-a-Dope Trap: Garci as Poisoned Pawn?

Fingerprinting the Human Voice

Judas Goat On Top Of Mount Pinatubo

Supreme Court Will Now Rule in Garci's Favor

Stunning Break in Gloriagate Controversy

Fourteen Soldiers Are Hostages of ISAFP

Long Live the Anti Wire Tapping Law!

The Right to Privacy and the Public's Right to Know

Only the Opposition Can Save GMA

Dilemma of the Poisoned Fruits

Freedom and Garci's Second Petition

National Security is the Highest National Interest

GENERAL RUDOLFO CANIESO, a supporter of Sen. Panfilo Lacson's presidential candidacy in 2004 and former Director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency had an interesting point to make about the EQUIPMENT needed to undertake a CELLPHONE wiretapping operation successfully. He testified at the hearing that only GOVERNMENTS could legally purchase the sophisticated gear needed to eavesdrop on TRI-BAND FREQUENCY HOPPING cellphone conversations. Documents presented at the Senate hearing showed that typical "digital GSM cellular interceptor" systems would cost about 25 million pesos (US $420,000.00). Gen Canieso emphasized the point that a "CERTIFICATE OF END-USER" is required by all legitimate vendors, effectively restricting civilians from acqujiring such equipment. It was quite ironic that the first tape played by Sen. Biazon happened to contain a wiretap of Gen. Canieso's own cellphone. Gen. Canieso also made the very important point that cellular phone communicatins are DIGITALLY encoded by the service provider, as Philippine Commentary considered in WAS THE ADAM AND EVE OF ALL TAPES DIGITAL Interestingly, Gen. Canieso would not rule out PING LACSON being able to afford such equipment.

A Google Search for "digital cellular GSM interceptor" yields the following information
Cellular Telephone Interceptor Multi Digital Versions
(Including GSM amd TDMA)

GSM System $420,000.00

GSM Interceptor Pro
This is an advanced monitoring system designed to intercept GSM cellular traffic.
It is the most sophisticated - advanced state of the art equipment of it's kind. It is custom made to certain specifications according to the cellular system in your country

8 channels 900/1800 MHz,
(System with 1900 MHz is also available).
The system can target specific numbers or randomly screen GSM mobile Communication.
Conversations are monitored and logged simultaneously to voice and data logger for storage and retrieval..
Housed in industrial PC 19” rack mounted portable cabinet with attached keyboard and LCD monitor. Weight:12 Kg about 23 Lb.
Decodes voice codes LPT, RPE and EFR.
Works with identificators IMSI, TMSI, IMEI, and MSISDN.
Find incoming call number when call ID is available.
Intercept 1 voice duplex Channel.
Possibility to receive SNS Messages.
Working range: Forward Channel 25 KM or 15.6 Mils, Reverse Channel depends on conditions - varies from 300 to 800 meters, or up to half a mile
If unidirectional antennas are used, the range can be increased.

Encryption Modes:
A5.2 cooperation with network operator is not needed, the system works in real time.
A5.1 If cooperation with network operator is possible, the system works in real time.

If cooperation with network operator is not possible but there is an access to mobile phone, information can be extracted directly from SIM card, Extraction time – 15 Min., SIM card
scanner should be added to the system.

With special hardware and software module A5.1 Decoder the interceptor works without
Cooperation with network operator. Item: 4001-D.

TDMA System $280,000.00

TDMA Interceptor Pro
The system is an advanced monitoring system designed to intercept TDMA cellular calls.
Designed to work in networks that specifically using D-AMPS.

Scan Control Channels to locate a working base station in a given area.
Automatic adjustments in the configuring file.
Fast receivers presetting using data from the configuration files.
Store telephone conversations on the hard drive.
Monitoring the activity of phone numbers from the “list of interest”.
Listening and recording all phone conversations of the accessible base station or only from the “list of interest”.
Displaying and recording all events in the control channels.
Displaying status of all phones from the “list of interest”.

The system can control the following channels :
Forward control channels IS-S4 & IS-136 (monitoring of incoming calls in one cell)
Forward traffic channel (listening to conversations in the forward/ outgoing direction)
Reverse control channel (defines outgoing phone numbers).

Note:We may sell the unit to you only if you representing a government or law enforcement agency or you are selling it to the Government or a Law Enforcement agency in your country.
We will 100% verify it and also require a letter certifying that.

Our technician will travel to demonstrate the unit in your country, the demonstration is usually done upon 2 weeks notification.
We will send 2 people to your country For demonstration, cost for demonstration $10,000.00

Available to Law Enforcement agencies ONLY.

For inquiries: please e mail to or call our office 818-516-3583

SENATOR SERGIO OSMENA III appears to be the techie in the Senate, dropping the correct meanings of TDMA, CDMA and GSM for the education of a somewhat befuddled Juan Ponce Enrile.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Pundit Argues With Dead Soldiers

In The Pen Is Still Mightier Than The Sword Philippine Daily Innuendo's pundit Conrado de Quiros notices a sign put up by the grieving relatives and comrades-in-arms at a recent Fort Bonifacio wake for 13 young Marines slain in the successful capture of an Abu Sayyaf encampment in Basilan whilst trying trying to arrest beheaders of their fallen comrades in the July 10 ambush by the MILF that started the current round of fighting in Mindanao:
“It’s the soldier -- not the reporter -- who has given us the freedom of the press.

It’s the soldier -- not the poet -- who has given us the freedom of speech.

It’s the soldier -- not the politician -- who ensures that we live freely and peacefully.

It’s the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is eventually draped by the flag.”
Although I know Choy de Quiros to be an intellectual, he is not usually like some are--a heartless intellectual. But seeing as he has chosen to debunk the rude inscriptions we find above, on an intellectual level on his own turf, and there is no one to express what those who wrote the above inscriptions might have felt and thought in doing so, let Choy have a little tit for tat now. This Pen must joust with his own, because the Swords he disdains are yet grasped by cold, defenseless hands which though mute themselves may speak through this humble and perhaps unworthy blog.

He attacks the line about politicians by counterexample, pointing to Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo Tanada, and Jovito Salonga as politicians that he says have done more than any general or foot soldier he knows to secure our peace and freedom. Well I suppose he never heard of General Gregorio del Pilar who fought the Spaniards and commanded many nameless foot soldiers that we today call the Katipuneros, which I suppose Choy never heard of either. And what of General Vicente Lukban who led the Samarnon foot soldiers of the Katipunan in its most victorious battle against the invading American Expeditionary Forces of Gen. Arthur MacArthur-- the Battle of Balangiga? Mr. de Quiros has apparently also not heard of General Vicente Lim, beheaded by Japanese invaders during World War II, whose body never even felt the warmth of the Philippine Flag draped over his never-found body. Nor I suppose, has he heard of the foot soldiers who fought in that War to liberate the politicians!

Next Mr. de Quiros suggests that "public school teachers" do more than soldiers in a "spiritual" way, saying, "The soldier only protects the nation’s body, the public school teacher protects the nation’s mind."

I think we should honor the contributions and sacrifices of both professions instead of making such fine distinctions as metaphysical as that between "body" and "mind" so as to somehow pit them one against the other. Notice that line 4 of the Soldier's Poem does not mention public school teachers at all. It only emphasizes the fact, that soldiers, unlike all other citizens, are duty-bound and most willingly so, to give the full measure of their beings, to lay down their very lives as a downpayment for the lives and freedoms of others. Moreover, if a soldier protects your body, he also protects your mind, which cannot live outside your brain. But if a teacher gives you homework, in order to improve your mind, they are not at risk of losing their own lives thereby, and there is absolutely no guarantee that by doing so usually from error-filled textbooks, that they have protected your body at all. Perhaps it has to do, again with the logical priority that proceeds from the phrase that defines liberty as our Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, necessarily in that order!

Mr. de Quiros however, reserves the bulk of his pen's mighty ink to violently disagree with Dead Soldiers Poem and their dumbstruck grieving kin, over their claims of priority over poets in preserving the freedom of speech, and over reporters (including pundits) in defending the freedom of the Press. He violently disagrees and is even insulted, he says, that such a claim would be made by mere body protectors. After all, he says that "scores of reporters who have been murdered who are not being given the kind of burial the soldiers are."

But the reason is crystal clear to most us, if not the Pundit, why those scores of reporters do not get the kind of burial that soldiers do. Reporters are true enough, murdered for using the Freedoms of Speech and of the Press, often enough to defend those rights. But even more often they are killed because they abuse those rights; or they double-cross the wrong sorts of clients; or they accept bribes to write favorable stories or unfavorable stories.
It is actually a rare reporter murdered because he was defending the Freedom of the Press as such, and not merely using (or abusing) that freedom.

But "the soldier" has no such choice in the purposes and uses to which his profession may be placed. When soldiers are ambushed, murdered and beheaded, as they were in Tipo-tipo, Basilan, and Maimbung, Sulu, by the MILF-MNLF-ASG-JI-AQ, they are not merely using freedom speech and of the Press, but literally defending all of our freedoms with their very lives.

As for poets we are even lower than Pundits and even more beholden to soldiers in that we actually take liberties with the Freedom of Speech and the Press, --har har! -- and only ever write and emote about their deaths!

It is but puny compared to your sacrifices -- you dead soldiers -- but this is my humble thanks to you all for this Life, for this Liberty, and for this supreme happiness -- to salute you!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Jose Maria Sison Arrested by Dutch Govt for Murder

This is verbatim from the Dutch Justice Ministry website:

Philippine Communist Leader Apprehended to Face a Murder Charge
28 augustus 2007

Jose Maria S., 68, a Philippine Communist leader was apprehended this morning in Utrecht by the International Crime Investigation Team of the Dutch National Criminal Investigation Department to face the criminal charges for his involvement in assassinations that took place in Philippines.

Mr. S. is a founder of the Communist Party of Philippines (CPP) and its armed branch, the New People’s Army (NPA), that has been fighting for years against the consecutive governments in Manila. The Communist leader was suspected of giving orders, from the Netherlands, to murder his former political associates in Philippines, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara.

Except for the apartment in which Mr. S. lived, the Dutch National Criminal Investigation Department today combed the apartments belonging to his co-workers, seven of which were in Utrecht and one in Abcoude.

On January 23, 2003, the former leader of the New People’s Army, Romulo Kintanar, 50, was shot dead in a Japanese restaurant in Philippines. The perpetrators were at the time of murder in the restaurant as well and fired 10 shots in Mr. Kintanar. The victim bled to death as a result of the shot wounds. The assassination triggered off a huge commotion in Philippines. It was claimed by the New People’s Army, in an official publication in which the reference was made to a sentencing by the special People’s Court. A special unit of the New People’s Army allegedly punished Kintanar for his crimes against the revolution and the people.

The Dutch National Criminal Investigation Department also investigates the role of Mr. S. in the assassinations of Arturo Tabara and his son in law Stephen Ong, which took place on September 26, 2006. Both men were shot dead in a parking lot, while stepping out of their car. They died instantly as a result of being shot in the area of head, chest and stomach.
This assassination was also claimed by the CPP’s armed branch. According to one official publication Tabara was “a seasoned criminal and fanatic contra-revolutionist.“ He was killed because he and his son in law had supposedly offered resistance when a special unit of the New People’s Army tried to make the arrest.
Until the beginning of the nineties, Tabara was a member of the highest command of the New People’s Army.

Mr. S. has been living in the Netherlands since 1987. He had applied for a political asylum but he was not granted one. He could not be deported because his life would allegedly be endangered upon his arrival in Philippines. On Friday, Mr. S. will be indicted by the Examining Judge at Court in The Hague.

For information about this Press Release please contact Mr. Wim de Bruin.
GUESS who is already lawyering for Joma? Satur Ocampo, his co-accused in the paranoiac murderous purges and killing fields of their comrades inb the 1980s. But at this moment, he apparently does not realize the basis of the arrest is not those alleged crimes but the assassinations of Joma's rivals, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, both leading lights of the CPP-NPA.

JOSE MARIA SISON, founder and chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, has been arrested by Dutch authorities at his home in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on suspicion of ordering the murders of two former comrades in the Philippines, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in 2003 and 2004. He is being held in The Hague pending arraignment and trial under Dutch law for allegedly ordering the remote control assassinations, which are also the subject of murder charges against him and New People's army operatives in the Philippines.

Mr. Sison has been designated to be a foreign terrorist personality, and the CPP-NPA as foreign terrorist organizations, by both the United States and the European Union every year since 2002. It is very likely that they will also be designated as such under new landmark legislation in the Philippines Anti-Terrorism Law, the Human Security Act of 2007.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA TV News) hailed the arrest as "a giant step toward peace. A victory for justice and the rule of law."

The murders allegedly ordered by Mr. Sison in the Netherlands are part of an enduring internal struggle within the communist movement that has its roots in a paranoiac purge of suspected government spies that had infiltrated the Party and the NPA towards the end of the Marcos regime in the early eighties. Nearly a thousand cadre are said to have been murdered by their own comrades during those purges. Several of the mass burial sites used by execution teams, were discovered and investigated by the Philippine police and military authorities last year, resulting in charges of mass murder against Mr. Sison, and his associates.

The most comprehensive exposition of this aspect of Mr. Sison's history and the deadly "rejectionist-reaffirmist" struggle within the CPP that directly led to the Kintanar-Tabara assassinations may be found in this web testimonial by a former member of the CPP's Mindanao Commission who survived the deadly purges and tells a compelling story of paranoia, treachery and the long vindictive memory of the CPP's top leaders against anyone who has opposed their ideological and organizational supremacy.

The decades-long communist insurgency of the CPP-NPA has been a major thorn in the side of successive Philippine governments since their founding in the 1960s and is seen as a major stumbling block to peace and order in the country as well as its economic and social upliftment. Although the NPA has never won any significant military victories against the government, it runs the most highly organized criminal extortion operation in the country, collecting hundreds of millions of pesos annually, from local farmers, businesses and government institutions. During election time, the NPA even collects fees for the "right to campaign" in areas under their influence from political candidates. Hundreds of kidnappings, assassinations, arsons, remote-controlled land mine explosions, raids on police stations, and small-scale military engagements are the ongoing "livelihood" projects of the CPP NPA in the countrysides.

The CPP-NPA also runs dozens of front organizations among workers, students, peasants and other "marginalized sectors". These highly militant activist organizations are also the CPP NPA's major recruiting grounds and the main base of operations for aboveground parliamentary struggles. In recent years, several of these organizations have successfully won several seats in the Philippine House of Representatives under the party-list system. Perhaps the best known of these is Rep. Satur Ocampo of the party list Bayan Muna, who also happens to be Mr. Sison's co-accused for having ordered the murderous purges of their comrades in the 80s, when both were running the CPP NPA.

The arrest of Mr.Sison in the Netherlands has long been urged upon the Dutch government, with whom the Philippines does not however have an extradition treaty. When Mr. Sison originally applied for political asylum in the Netherlands 20 years ago, the application was rejected, but the Netherlands granted him political refugee status, and allowed him to take up residence there, believing his life would be in danger in the Philippines [sic!]. The CPP's top leadership and their families moved to Utrecht with Mr. Sison and were receiving millions in financial contributions from the European Left and other international sources. From there they ran the CPP NPA's operations in the Philippine Archipelago by fax and email and in coordination with their agents and allies in the Philippines. They also resorted to the alleged assassinations to eliminate their ideological rivals, some of whom had returned to the fold of the law and were therefore considered counter-revolutionaries subject to trial, arrest and execution by the same "People's Courts" that caused the "killing fields" of the eighties.

The listing of Mr. Sison and the CPP NPA as foreign terrorists by the US and EU put a big dent in their European exile lifestyles and put pressure on the local NPAs to raise money and resources through their organized criminal activities. But it also drove a deep wedge between those in the Archipelago fighting in the hills, and those on the Continent enjoying the glamorous and relatively comfortable lifestyle of an exile in Europe.

The arrest of Mr. Sison and the end of his Dutch Treat hopefully presages the eventual total demise of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization in the Philippines. If that happens, I predict that the Philippines will have secured its century-old democratic experiment as the first and the oldest constitutional democracy in Australasia; that it will double or triple its rate of economic growth by quickly eclipsing all other tourist and foreign investment destinations, and that it will become the bulwark of the Global War on Terror in Southeast Asia.

Its ninety million freedom-loving people, who have suffered so much because of the communist insurgency look with renewed hope in the future as a result of this recent development, even as they cannot fail to see the arduous tasks still ahead of them in overcoming both the totalitarian left. There is also still the Global Islamic Jihad, which many suspect has taken over the old Moro cause in Mindanao and is responsible for the recent upsurge of terrorist bombings, ambush killings and mass beheadings in the South, where an "all-out war" has erupted. (But that is another story yet to be told!)

For now however, the Filipinos can enjoy the sight of the Red Moon's eclipse.

Chiz To Miriam: Nego Supositum!

Spicing her Ilongo-American accented Privileged Speech on the pending Garci Wiretapping investigation with bits of Latin gobbledygook, Miriam Defensor Santiago chewed her tongue to bloody shreds it seems insisting that the Senate itself would be in violation of the Anti-wiretapping law if it so much as came into possession of "illegally wiretapped materials."

But in his interpellation of the good Maid Miriam, Senator Francis Chiz Escudero made mincemeat of her ENTIRE speech with a simple and truly novel point that there is no Court of Record that has declared the Garci Recordings to BE illegally wiretapped material. In other words he simply demonstrated that Miriam's ENTIRE SUPPOSITION that the Garci recordings ARE illegally wiretapped materials has not been established because it has not even been established that they are wiretapped materials at all. In other words: NEGO SUPOSITUM!

But when Chiz asked her if the products of their own illegal wiretapping could be used as evidence to prosecute the wiretappers, Miriam peremptorily replied "NO!" insisting that RA 4200 forbids ANY use of illegally wiretapped materials.

I am surprised the following refutation of Miriam's weird reponse to that question was not mentioned. It is Section 3 of of RA 4200 The Antiwiretapping Law! --
RA 4200 SECTION (3A) Nothing contained in this Act, however, shall render it unlawful or punishable for any peace officer, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the two preceding sections in cases involving the crimes of treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security. Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and a showing: (1) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed or is being committed or is about to be committed: Provided, however, That in cases involving the offenses of rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, and inciting to sedition, such authority shall be granted only upon prior proof that a rebellion or acts of sedition, as the case may be, have actually been or are being committed; (2) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence will be obtained essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution of, or to the prevention of, any such crimes; and (3) that there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence."
Senator Rodolfo Biazon also interpellated Miriam and brought up the very important point that any investigation of the Garci recordings will focus on its NATIONAL SECURITY implications. That is the point this blog has been making almost since the first day that I read RA 4200 Anti wiretapping law.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile tried to make it seem that the Garci Recordings are not covered by Section 3 crimes against national security. But is it not a clear case of ESPIONAGE committed by Filipino citizens who are also active military service men to have wiretapped the president and compromised the communications of the Commander in Chief?

Well, so much for the Poison Fruits Argument of Miriam Defensor Santiago and Dick Gordon, who really know better than they are letting on, in my opinion!

I hope the Senate investigations will indeed lead to killing several birds with one stone:

(1) To cleanse the military of wrongdoers who have prostituted the Armed Forces of the Philippines to partisan political purposes, and have demoralized and debased the honor of the Philippine Military.

(2) To establish the NATIONAL SECURITY as the highest of national priorities by securing the highest offices of the land, such as the Presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court.

(3) To develop new legislation that will promote electoral reform and forever bar the likes of Virgilio Garcillano and his patrons from desecrating the sanctity of the ballot.


I greatly admired the legal erudition and sheer wit of Chiz Escudero in deploying his NEGO SUPOSITUM argument, and his gentlemanliness in responding to the entirely graceless statements of his colleague in refusing to take any more questions from him because she didn't like "his premises". It was this remark of Miriam's which made me realize that that was his entire rhetoric: I DENY your premises and suppositions madame! And of course he is right, for indeed where is the proof or finding or authoritative declaration that these multitude of bits and pieces of conversations, scattered in analog tapes, digital cds and internet-downloadable MP3s are in fact WIRETAPS. No one has stated categorically with proof that these recordings are indeed illegally wiretapped materials.

I think this clearly means that Chiz Escudero understands the Antiwiretapping Law just as well as Miriam does, but he intends to apply it carefully, systematically and ethically to discover who has broken that law by indeed, illegally wiretapping the President and many other private and public personalities including Virgilio Garcillano.

He makes the very persuasive point that it must first be demonstrated that these recordings are wiretapped materials before the sanctions against possessing them may be invoked as Miriam wants to do even BEFORE such demonstration. That the Garci recordings ARE wiretappings cannot just be asserted and then believed "hook line and sinker", Chiz claims, but must be tested with questions and logic when the witness Vidal Doble makes his claims and accusations. But first he must be allowed to make those claims. Putting the cart before the horse, you are, Madame. Touche!

What the law prohibits after all is the knowing possession, dissemination and reproduction of illegally wiretapped materials. Chiz basically asks a question that destroy's the premises and suppositions on which are founded Miriam's entire discourse: How do we KNOW that these are illegally wiretapped materials and not, let us say, studio spliced recordings?

Miriam had no answer to this other than to assert again "the absolute prohibition against and absolutely inadmissibility of illegally wiretapped material for use in ANY legislative hearing or other proceeding."

This self-evidently a false claim on the face of it -- as if one did not know about Section 3 of the law! Surely, the products of a real spy's illegal wiretapping activities would be the best physical evidence of those criminal activities, as explicitly allowed for in Section (3) of RA 4200, which covers wiretapping cases involving National Security and kidnapping.

She chooses to ignore the simple fact that the "Anti-Wiretapping Law" does explicitly allow any or all of the acts she claims are prohibited absolutely, such as wiretapping, possession, replay and reproduction of wiretapped materials--before, during or after any crime against national security or in cases of kidnapping.

Chiz's accomplishment is to show how a proper prosecution of a crime against RA 4200 ought to be done.

I think Miriam Defensor Santiago has met her match, both in Law and in Logic in Chiz Escudero, BUT....

THE GOOD AND RIGHT IN MIRIAM'S POSITION: In the final analysis, and despite her shrill tone, I actually agree substantially with the effective position of Miriam to investigate with vigor the Garci Tapes WITHOUT REGARD TO THEIR CONTENT (the electoral fraud angle), and instead to focus on discovering who the Masterminds of Wiretapping are in the Philippines. This is also substantially the position of Rodolfo Biazon, to prosecute the crimes against national security implied by the wiretapping itself. Never mind the content.

But listen to Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago asking "Who are these Dark Forces?" who have the ability to order even mass wiretapping?

Here is Miriam's Marvelous Rant Against the Wiretapper Mastermind! (MP3)

I wonder which DARK FORCE she was thinking off as she delivered above impassioned denunciation of the criminal wiretappers and their overlord? Could it be her ancient nemesis...

The entire Privileged Speech of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on the Garci Wiretapping Scandal is here at the Internet Archive. (MP3)

Speculation: Realizing that FVR's tit could be in the ringer on this one, I think Miriam has effectively joined the Opposition on the issue. She has adopted the position that the Senate can go after the wiretappers, but with utter disregard and even suppression of the tantalizing content relative to election fraud in the conversations. I agree with her on that to the extent that it would be premature at this stage to even tackle that barrel of monkeys about the 2004 Presidential election, whose outcome we must consider a closed matter. She does not actually join with Biazon in admitting this is about national security, but I think it'll come to the same thing as the investigation gets going.

It is that aspect of national security that I believe is of paramount importance because the Isafp wiretapping opens the entire government and private citizens to blackmail, extortion and is basically ESPIONAGE. Against this we must apply Section 1 of the antiwiretapping law, armed with the letter and spirit of Section 3.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Did the "Stand Down" Orders on July 10 Come From Gen. Dolorfino?

Tony Velasquez and Pia Hontiveros interviewed Brig. General Edgardo Gurrea about the Report on the Basilan Beheading Incident (July 10) submitted by the "Independent Investigating Committee" to Jess Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Here is audio of the entire interview.

or download the MP3
Under incisive questioning by Pia Hontiveros, General Gurrea revealed an important detail that as far as I know has not yet been revealed until now. Gen. Gurrea relates how he was attending a seminar on the Human Security Act in Cagayan de Oro on July 10 last, together with othe officials. He attests to listening to several conversations between General Benjamin Dolorfino and a Major Makatuon in the staff of relieved Basilan Commander Colonel Ramiro Alivio in which he orders Major Makatuon to contact his MILF counterpart and to do everything to "de-escalate the tension" at Al Barka, Tipo-tipo.

General Benjamin Dolorfino should be investigated thoroughly for his actions and communications on July 10, because I have a feeling he is the one responsible for giving thge "Stand Down" orders that were first mentioned in the After Battle Report of Col. Alivio that resulted in no fire support from OV-10 bombers and helicopters then available, and why no artillery was deployed during the fierce 10 hour gun battle that started when MILF rebels ambushed the Marine unit searching for Father Bossi. The unwitting revelations of Gen. Gurrea seem to confirm this. But I am not convinced that Gen. Dolorfino would have done this on his own. I am fairly certain that he consulted with Gen. Rodolfo Garci and Jess Dureza also. This from a previous interview with Gen. Garcia on Cross Roads 2 weeks ago.

If this is really what happened, there will be certain bits of double talk from Gurrea today that will become part of my rogues gallery. For example, the path the Marines were taking to return back to base after a fruitless search for Father Bossi was described by Gen. Gurrea not any more as "Muslim territory" as claimed by the MILF, but an "MILF Community." Well at least he confirms the suspicion of many that if you so much as walk into an MILF community, even if you a uniformed soldier of a government having peace talks with the MILF, you could end up dead and beheaded.

The other interesting and beguiling turn of phrase from Gen. Gurrea was in his refusal to characterize the incident as an ambuscade even if the MILF itself admitted to doing the killings. He called it a ceasefire violation in which the Marines failed to coordinate with the MILF.

He also considers the murder of the 14 Marines to be a mere ceasefire violation and took up the Peace Processors line that the law should only be enforced on the Abu Sayyaf beheaders (all four of them!).

What he absolutely could not and would not explain is how the MILF can claim not to have been in cahoots with the ASG when the MILF just killed a bunch of soldiers who "didn't coordinate with them." Doesn't that mean the ASG coordinates with them about when they can come and lop off heads and limbs to steal wedding rings and cell phones of the Marines?

I sometimes wonder who the real enemy is! It almost sounds like it's guys on our side who are totally confused about their moral and constitutional duties.

The Peace Process should go on, but it must not interfere with everyday Law Enforcement, because the assumptions and time scales are all different.

Here it almost looks like the Peace Processors have special agents attached to the Ground Commanders' staffs who can literally micromanage tactical and operational aspects and interfere with the normal chain of command in critical, life-threatening situations.

That cannot be allowed to go on.


UPDATE: The best investigative journalism being done on this grave and crucial matter is being done by Ellen Tordesillas: Making Sense of the Basilan Debacle Part 1 and Part 2
I am a rank amateur compared to her!

How Father Bossi and the Religious Superiors Have Immorally Setup the NEXT Kidnapping for Ransom

I want to address a point that causes much acrimonious debate and name-calling over the "all-out war" in Mindanao which was sparked by a July 10 ambuscade and beheading by MILF rebels and ASG guerillas of 14 Philippine Marines. In the "fog of war" it has been easy for certain people to obscure the fact that those Marines were killed while returning from a fruitless search for kidnapped Italian priest Fr. Giancarlo Bossi. Some of the bigger screwheads around have actually blamed their deaths on their failure to find Fr. Bossi and when they instead blundered into what is blithely referred to as MILF territory. (Of course these leftist screwheads only cry "violations of Philippines sovereignty" when it involves America.)

Father Bossi is safely sipping cappucino with Pope Benedict in Rome, and said on his way out the door, that he won't file charges against the kidnappers. His confreres in the Association of Major Religious Superiors and his own PIME are calling for the government to pull back its forces. So called peace advocates actually want the authorities to stop trying to bring rebel gunmen and terrorist beheaders to Justice on the strength of duly executed criminal Arrest Warrants issued by Basilan Judge Leo Principe. The MILF and MNLF both have killed uniformed Philippine soldiers but the all out war is focussed only on the Abu Sayyaf, who of course do not have Membership Lists.

Why are Father Bossi and the Association of Major Religious Superiors and even his own PIME not interested in the bringing his kidnappers to justice? Could it be because they in fact PAID RANSOM to get him out? On the day he was released, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno tried to make it seem that the government had used some kind of clever trick to get him released. Later, it was leaked by his own office that that trick was to kidnap a relative of the suspected mastermind of Bossi kidnapping. Since the release was effected, and the identity of this mastermind was confirmed by the success of the trick, why has the government not gone after this mastermind??

The only logical explanation is that RANSOM WAS PAID for the freedom of Giancarlo Bossi. And that why, he, his religious associates and the government itself appears to be willing to let the next kidnap for ransom victim pay for this quick fix.

This is the essential IMMORALITY of Father Bossi the Missionary and the head honchos of the so-called Filipino religious. By preferring a dubious "peace" to the enforcement of the law and the fulfillment of Justice, they give in to Evil Incarnate while piously beating their chests and calling for peace. All they have done is condemned the next victim to

Now to the point of great confusion that seems to paralyze so many people whenever violence flares up in Mindanao.

There is no doubt that the conflict there is HUNDREDS of YEARS OLD. And lest one think it is purely foreign colonialists and imperialists that have had trouble from the folks in that part of the Archipelago, we must not forget that the principal economic activity of the Maguindano Confederacy and the glorious Sulu "civilizations" was annually raiding the Visayas to capture SLAVES for sale to their wealthy clients in Borneo, the Moluccas, and all over what used to be called the Dutch East Indies.

It is this enduring conflict in Mindanao, centuries old now, which the Peace Process addresses. As such, it must be recognized by everyone involved that the TIME SCALE upon which such a process must operate to achieve its goal must necessarily be a long one. We cannot hope to undo the injustices done on both sides in some short span of time, as it is not even certain that such injustices can ever be undone. The Peace Process involves considerations of things not only historical but political and economic as well. Moreover, what the Peace Process involving the Moro National Liberation Front teaches us, is that signing a Peace Accord is absolutely not a guarantee of actual peace on the ground, because there is no one group in Mindanao that can guarantee the compliance and behavior of other groups and personalities there. Thus, there is always the danger that a peace accord with the MILF and the modern Maguindanao Confederacy of warlords and election befoulers, will only end up like the one with MNLF, i.e., in the birth of the NMLF (Next Moro Liberation Front).

In view of this complex and seemingly intractable situation in Mindanao, what can possibly be the morally consistent position of Churches and other Peace Advocates when particular incidents of terrorist crime, such as kidnap for ransom and ambush killings occur.

I think it is immoral to sweep this crime under the rug and instead loudly call for the solution of "root conditions" through peace talks. It is a travesty of justice. The Churchmen have abdicated their solemn duty to uphold the Law (both God's and Man's!) For how indeed do we expect to correct HISTORIC injustice when we cannot do justice "in the small" of such crimes as the Bossi Kidnapping and the Basilan Beheadings.

I think we must recognize as an important principle of the Peace Process itself, that because it necessarily operates on utterly different time scales, it must not interfere with the ordinary everyday operation of LAW ENFORCEMENT.

It is only by recognizing the independence of upholding the Rule of Law TODAY that we can have any hope of remediating the effects of YESTERDAY.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We Are All Sitting Ducks Now

Click to enlarge
Manila is on "Full Red Alert" as authorities announced the possibility of a "spill-over effect" from the ongoing operations in Basilan and Sulu.

"Full Red Alert" means women entering shopping malls and mass transit systems will get chopsticks poked into their handbags and men get politely felt up their backsides by embarrassed security guards. (Embarrassed becaue they know how futile and porous their procedures really are.)

Of course it is a real joke at sea ports and boarding areas for the country's thousands of inter-island vessels and maritime transport hubs, bus stations and bustling public markets, where of course, we have had a series of terrorist attacks over the years. For example, Rizal Day 2000 Bombing of the Manila LRT by JI--32 dead; the Super Ferry 14 bombing in 2004 by ASG/RSM--126 dead; and the dozens of bombings at ports, bus depots, markets, bars, and just the other day, Pershing Plaza in Zamboanga City, 14 injured, to remind everyone how conscious of History these particular terrorists are.

Please notice that none of these terrorist-induced civilian deaths and injuries should be called "collateral damage" because although a terrorist attack is generally indiscriminate the damage is always "intentional."

Intentional also was the ambuscade and killing of fourteen Philippine Marines searching for kidnapped Italian priest, Giancarlo Bossi, near Tipo-tipo, Basilan on July 10, 2007 by members and friends of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which owned up to and never has denied it carried out the deadly attack. On its website, the MILF even claimed the real number of soldiers they killed was 23 and not just 14, but the rebel group also listed accurately the arms, weapons and ammunition they took from the soldiers. The MILF denied in its post having anything to do with the subsequent torture and beheading of ten of the 14 Marines, claiming it did not know their identities but reporting one of the "field commanders" as reporting the "deep hatred" in the eyes of the beheaders as they hacked off human heads, fingers and sexual organs to get at necklaces, wedding rings and cell phones, which they then used to send taunting text to grieving wives and children of the dead Marines.

Speaking of taunting text to grieving wives and children of dead Marines, check out the kind of headlines that the Philippine Daily Innuendo and other "peace advocates" have been "texting" by the hundreds of thousands during the last few weeks (and the answer of the Marines!)

Since July 10, over fifty Philippines soldiers have been killed in action against MILF forces in Basilan, MNLF forces in Sulu, and now ASG forces in Basilan again.

In a shameless editorial this week and in big bold headlines, PDI called the slain soldiers' sacrifice a case of "WASTED LIVES." although of course they put these very words in the mouths and hide behind the skirts of "Church and political leaders, civic and women’s groups" to take such cheap potshots.

The editorial is actually a model for all young leftist propagandists in training because of the sophisticated manner of delivering the worst possible messages about the military and the government to the detriment of the troops, whilst actually sounding Concerned with a Capital C. For example to make the downright nasty suggestion that young soldiers are being sent to their deaths on "test missions" the editorial craftily quotes an officer who speaks only on condition of anonymity.

But listen to the interview of Pia Hontiveros with Senator Rodolfo Biazon, Chairman of the Senate Defense Committee and Marine Commandant Nelson Allaga about much of the drivel 'n snivel in the editorial. They spoke at Marine HQ last Monday where 13 of 15 Marines slain in capturing an ASG encampment during a fierce gunbattle that saw 42 ASG killed.

Sen. Biazon makes the forceful point that backing down as the "peace advocates" demand would mean surrendering to the terrorists and reneging on our solemn duty to uphold the law, bring to justice murderers and beheaders, and to secure Philippine sovereignty against what may be more than local rebels altogether.

Allaga addresses the issue of "young soldiers" in battle, among many other aspects of the ongoing law enforcement operations to serve those 130 arrest warrants.

Above, the sister, wife, father and girlfriend of some of the "wasted lives" prove the simple nobility of simple folks as compared to those fancy editors at their desks of inhuman disdain.

Ellen Tordesillas has a piece on the relief of the Basilan ground commander
, Col. Romero Alivio, in which the significant and tantalizing substance is Alivio After Battle Report, which confirms the earlier suggestion that combat air support for the ambushed Marines was ordered to stand down (probably by the Peace Negotiators, Dureza and Gen. Garcia) because they were engaging "friendly forces", their partners in the peace process, the MILF.

Three weeks after the Tipo-tipo ambuscade by the MILF, Basilan Regional Trial Court Judge Leo Principe issued arrest warrants for some 130 suspects, almost all of them known MILF members and the soldati of local warlords and politicians, based on evidence and testimony gathered from locals and witnesses and his finding of probable cause.

Just as police were going to serve those arrest warrants however, here come Jess Dureza (Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process) and Gen. Rodolfo Garcia, Chief Peace Negotiator. They SET ASIDE, on the President's say so, the serving of the arrest warrants, and spend a whole week whitewashing and exonerating the MILF in public, and then blaming the whole Tipo-tipo incident on "lawless elements" of the Abu Sayyaf Group. They were clearly trying to save the MILF so that the peace deal they are cooking up, in which a Muslim Juridical Entity will be setup as a new homeland for JI and Al Qaed--err, the Bangsamoro People.

Thus when the President declared "all-out war" last week, it was "all-out war" against the Abu Sayyaf bandit group. In their "Independent Fact Finding committee report" which has not been released to the public, Dureza, Garcia and MILF's Iqbal determine that four Abu Sayyaf bandits did the beheadings while six looked on.

There is no "all out war" on either MILF or the MNLF, even though they admitted killing those fourteen Marines in Basilan and 10 more in Maimbung, Sulu, respectively.

I guess this really means we are all sitting ducks now because the MILF's Iqbal was right, when he commented recently in Malaysia after Peace Talks were postponed, that the Philippine Government lacks "coordination," smiling mysteriously and smugly.

I took that to mean that the MILF does not suffer from such a lack of "coordination" with its own Base and that they are playing everyone like a fiddle: the Government, the Media, the Military. The terrorists have almost everybody convinced that it is OUR fault there is WAR.

But I think the peace process is dead, because the Moro cause has already been hijacked by the Global Jihad, and there most certainly is not negotiation with that. This hypothesis will be tested in the level of violence and terrorist attacks in the next few months. I hope it is wrong, but signs are already pointing the other way, as in that fundraising video deployed by the ASG on YouTube and broadcast all over the Muslim World.

I wonder what Mssrs. Dulmatin, Umar Patek and Zulkifli Abdhir are doing at this very moment?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How the Supreme Court Upheld the Half of EO 464 the Palace Really Needs

Reference: Republic Act 4200 The Antiwiretapping Law
Following is a verbatim reprint of a post at Philippine Commentary on April 24, 2006, enttitled King Solomon Just Cut the Baby In Half which was an analysis of the unanimous Supreme Court decision Senate Vs. Ermita on Executive Order 464. Although it was widely praised as a victory for the Senate by all my favorite somnambulists, the Supreme Court actually upheld the President completely on the matter of executive privilege whilst giving the Senate a hollow victory over a nonexistent feature of the almost-Parliament called the Question Hour! Ed Ermita's threat to use EO 464 in order to frustrate the Senate investigations into the 2007 Garci Recordings, indeed any Senate investigation, --- that threat is not a hollow one. The Supreme Court saw to that last year...But a potentially explosive new development in the saga of the Garci Recordings is the accusation that a MAJOR TELECOM firm was involved in the alleged illegal wiretapping operation of the Intelligence Services of the AFP. Now here the Senate has a chance, because even Chief Executives like Manny Pangilinan and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala are NOT covered by EO 464. I think these telecoms could lose local and international licenses and franchises and become the subject of intense Congressional pressure if these accusations of participation in illegal wiretapping operations turn out to be true.
(PDF) SENATE versus ERMITA -- the unanimous Supreme Court decision penned by Justice Conchita Carpio Morales on Executive Order 464 -- is being hailed by some as a highly balanced decision in which, depending on one's particular sentiments, one can declare victory or defeat for Malacanang Palace. Here is the Solomonic heart of Senate v. Ermita --
In fine, Section 3 and Section 2(b) of E.O. 464 must be invalidated.

No infirmity, however, can be imputed to Section 2(a) as it merely provides guidelines, binding only on the heads of office mentioned in Section 2(b), on what is covered by executive privilege. It does not purport to be conclusive on the other branches of government. It may thus be construed as a mere expression of opinion by the President regarding the nature and scope of executive privilege.
Red-bolding in above quotation is mine -- because it is precisely between Secions 2(a) and 2(b) that King Solomon has cut the Baby in half, in my reading of Senate versus Ermita. Although J. Carpio Morales spent the first 50 pages or so of the decision to motivate the invalidation of Sections 2(b) and (3) of EO 464, there was, in fine, a far greater concession granted to the Palace than the Senate. Since no infirmity, however, can be imputed to Section 2(a), the Supreme Court, by parity of reasoning has accepted, affirmed, upheld and perfected the President's "mere expression of opinion" regarding the nature and scope of executive privilege. The Supreme Court has made every single provision of Section 2(a) Subsections i, ii, iii, iv, and v, the Law of the Land (with a special ponencia by the President as an "Associate Justice") --
SECTION. 2. Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege. –

(a) Nature and Scope. - The rule of confidentiality based on executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995). Further, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that Public Officials and Employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.

Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers covered by this executive order, including:

i. Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public official covered by this executive order (Almonte vs. Vasquez G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002);

ii. Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not be divulged (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December

iii. Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December

iv. Discussion in close-door Cabinet meetings (Chavez v. Presidential
Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December

v. Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez v. Public
Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002).
I find it ominous that by a unanimous decision the Supreme Court seems to give blanket affirmation to the above enumeration of classes of information. Though based on past cases and decisions, I hope any new assertions of executive privilege still has to be justified separately and on its own merit based on the true needs of public and private interests, which is the only true justification for the assertions of executive privilege in all the cases.

Perhaps to balance its own Sunday Editorial: They Lost It which gloated at Palace Cabinet officials engaged spin, PDI's Monday Editorial: Don't Lose It praises the Decision some more, then gives the Opposition some advice --

One distinctive feature of the Supreme Court ruling, written by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, is its persuasive approach to the legal issues at hand. It keeps an even keel all throughout, and deploys arguments in such a way that even Palace apologists can read the finding as favoring the administration. Of course, the fact that the court decided unanimously is the persuasive factor par excellence. But the decision's careful balancing act must have helped win support from other justices, and recommends it to almost everyone in the public square.

The opposition must therefore use the ruling as an opportunity to build public consensus about the way we proceed from now on. The political theater of senators browbeating witnesses must come to an end. The spectacle of senators coming in late to hearings and repeating questions already asked must no longer be inflicted on the public. Not least, the practice of senators using the coercive power of the contempt citation as a punitive measure, as in the case of the (admittedly frustrating) testimony of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, must stop. The democratic project is first about process, before it is about power.

Uh...Huh. Hmmm...


I think it will depend on whether the Senate takes such advice, or decides to put the Decision itself, and the spin that has been given to it by both the Palace's conscious supporters and those who may have inadvertently given the Decision unwarranted early praise for being "balanced" and "well-reasoned." Just because it was a UNANIMOUS decision may also turn out to be either a good or a bad thing depending on what happens in the real world.

For example, an empirical test of what this Decision really stands for and means, is whether the Senate can in fact call back Secretary Norberto Gonzales to shed light on North Rail and Venable contracts. Or whether all those witnesses originally subpoenaed by the Senate Defense Committee to answer for alleged wiretapping operations of the ISAFP and the Garci Generals' involvement in the 2004 national election cheating in Mindanao.

As time passes and more people look at both the Decision and its consequences, it's true worth will be come evident. And what is the Baby that Solomon has cut in half, if that characterization of Senate v. Ermita is accurate?

I think that Baby is Congress' Power of Inquiry which some regard as the Constitutional embodiment of the Public's Right to Know.

The work I read over the weekend to try and make sense of all this from the perspective and experience of United States Jurisprudence is here in Investigative Oversight by Morton Rosenberg of the Congressional Research Service.

THE QUESTION HOUR DOCTRINE The "balancing of interests" technique that is redolent in the Decision, really centers around a distinction that the Court has seen fit to make between the Congress power of inquiry in aid of legislation which is locates in Article VI Section 21, and the power of inquiry in the discharge of its oversight duty, in Section 22.

Following the Decision's own avowed practice of construing government issuances in a manner that makes them Constitutional, I shall hope that the following quotation from Senate v. Ermita itself will apply in the coming controversies over it. Justice Carpio Morales says of the Arnault case --
The power of inquiry, the Court therein ruled, is co-extensive with the power to legislate. The matters which may be a proper subject of legislation and those which may be a proper subject of investigation are one. It follows that the operation of government, being a legitimate subject for legislation, is a proper subject for investigation.
By making the distinction that attendance at inquiries in aid of legislation is mandatory while that at inquiries of oversight are discretionary, and then accepting Section 2(a) in toto as having "no infirmity," has not the Supreme Court merely laid the basis for future exercises of gagging government officials, especially the highest level ones. For like the "chilling effect" of Proclamation 1017 on media, the pusillanimous in the government services, or those merely vulnerable to the pressures of higher authority, have already received the signal to observe omerta in all things. Mike Defensor was right, EO 464 has already "served its purpose."
What will become crystal clear in the next few weeks, I think, is how big a victory for President Arroyo last year's unanimous Supreme Court Decision, Senate vs. Ermita actually was.

Which is why I don't understand the Palace's over-reaction to the sudden Senate re-opening of the investigation into the Garci Recordings.

The President was too quick, I think, to be playing the Terror Card, with "I have a country to run, I have terrorists to fight, I have progress to make..." calling the Senators "titans of hate."

Secretary Ermita's broadcast threat to invoke EO 464 indicates he understands the real meaning of Senate vs. Ermita, and how much power it actually gave the Executive to keep the Legislature's long nose out of their internal affairs. It is not a hollow threat.

TIT FOR TAT with the Senate is what Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez threatened with seeming relish yesterday, as he announced the intention to "re-open" an investigation into the "unindicted co-conspirators" of convicted US spy, Leandro Aragoncillo. But I think, if I were him, I would indeed let sleeping dogs lay on THAT one. It could backfire and any earnest prosecution has already been poisoned and prejudiced by Gonzalez. There could be some things there that even Raul Gonzalez might not want to come to light, such as US sentiments and evaluations of President Arroyo that might be unpleasant to bring up just now. It might even requiring bring Leandro Aragoncillo to the Philippines which could open a real Pandora's Box.

CAVEAT: I believe that the Garci Recording represent prima facie physical evidence of a crime against NATIONAL SECURITY, involving the illegal interception and recording of conversations between the President of the Republic and other high government officials, as well as private persons. The nature and content of those recorded conversations are irrelevant to the existence of this crime, which can and should be prosecuted under Section 1 of Republic Act 4200 The Antiwiretapping Law:


SECTION (1A) It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described:
On ANC's noon time Hot Seat today, Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin said that the House Committee Report on the Garci Controversy concluded that "a rogue institution"-- the Isafp -- had wiretapped the Commander in Chief.

The simple fact is that the Garci Recordings and Vidal Doble's testimony are evidence of that crime against national security. It is not widely recognized that RA 4200 the Antiwiretapping Law is explicitly a National Security Statute. Read Section 3:

SECTION (3A) Nothing contained in this Act, however, shall render it unlawful or punishable for any peace officer, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the two preceding sections in cases involving the crimes of treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act No. 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security. Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and a showing: (1) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed or is being committed or is about to be committed: Provided, however, That in cases involving the offenses of rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, and inciting to sedition, such authority shall be granted only upon prior proof that a rebellion or acts of sedition, as the case may be, have actually been or are being committed; (2) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence will be obtained essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution of, or to the prevention of, any such crimes; and (3) that there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence.
This is the most satisfying answer to the "Poisoned Fruits Dilemma" that Sen. Dick Gordon tried to use in opposing the renewed Senate probe. He says that if they even touch the Garci recordings the whole Senate could go to jail. But not if you treat the Garci Recordings as evidence in an investigation into crimes against national security, such as bugging the Commander in Chief. This crime does not depend on the detailed nature of the conversations, but merely that they were made without the required Court Orders and oversight.