Monday, December 29, 2008

Art Panganiban, Religious and Judicial Fascist?

Perhaps reacting to Cory's apology to Erap for Edsa Dos, and remembering his own pivotal role in those anomalous events, former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, (now a columnist for a tabloid-broadsheet) defends SCoRP and Edsa Dos with the self-serving claim that "our Constitution has mandated the Court to be “activist,” to be an “interventionist” in all gravely abusive acts."

I think it is time to challenge this interpretation of the 1987 Constitution, which is so often repeated that it is becoming public dogma. Panganiban's assertion of a Constitutionally-mandated activist-interventionist role for the Supreme Court is of dubious durability and legitimacy. In fact, I believe it to be outrageous, and if commonly held by the members of the Court, it helps to explain the pitiful failure of SCoRP to rise above the quagmire of its own embarrassing past.
1987 Art. 8 Sec. 1 The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.
As examples of how this "extraordinary Court" has discharged what he calls a "duty it cannot evade" he cites:
For example, in 1997 and 2006, it stopped imprudent efforts to revise the Constitution through a peoples’ initiative. In 2001, it defrocked Joseph Ejercito Estrada and validated Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ascent to the presidency. It has also annulled presidential issuances (like Presidential Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of national emergency), nullified acts of Congress, and voided government contracts.
I'll say SCoRP has nullified acts of Congress, alright. For example, the virtual acquittal of Joseph Estrada, the attempted impeachment of Hilario Davide, and the virtual shutdown of investigations into bribery allegations surrounding certain members of the Supreme Court itself.

He claims that SCoRP "defrocked Joseph Estrada". But I think SCoRP grievously abused its own discretion since Edsa Dos was about a case of Impeachment over which SCoRP has a total lack of jurisdiction under the Constitution.
PANGANIBAN: "It seems ironic that unelected justices are required by our Constitution to check the elected leaders of the country. This is because those lodged with political power tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law. The democratic constituency of the Supreme Court is the Constitution, which has been overwhelmingly ratified by the people. Hence, the Court’s loyalty is always to the Charter, not to the President or Congress."
There you see, it's all the fault of "those lodged with political power" who "tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law." So this is how Pundit Panganiban justifies the unjust and damnable actions of Justice Panganiban, co-conspirator of Hilario Davide, Angelo Reyes, Jaime Cardinal Sin and GMA!

Ahem. Recall that it was then Associate Justice Panganiban who came up with the idea of swearing in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on 20 Jan 2001 upon a claim that Joseph Estrada was permanently incapacitated, and even bragging about the whole thing a year later in his book, Reforming the Judiciary [sic!]. Recall further, that it was Panganiban, who together with Davide, out-argued the incomparable Cecilia Munoz Palma on that fateful Saturday morning in January, 2001, and got the Supreme Court to authorize what amounted to a judicial-miltary coup d'etat against a democratically-elected, if incorrigibly dipsomaniacal Joseph Estrada.

So, what was that about those who "tend to violate, shortcut or ignore the law??"
PANGANIBAN: "Extraordinary judicial duties. Because of our sad experience during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, our 1987 Constitution granted our judiciary both ordinary and extraordinary authority to check the abuses and excesses of the other branches of government."
Ironically and paradoxically, it is SCoRP leading us back to Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, in the diminutive but deadly guise of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Related Posts

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

While the Door of Observation Swings Open...

Is there anything journalistically wrong with this headline on the front page of our favorite newspaper this morning?

English-only bill faces tough fight?

Nothing, unless of course it is NOT true!
The bill states that:

* English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the teaching language in all subjects from pre-school to Grade 3;

* English shall be the teaching language in all academic subjects from Grades 4 to 6, and in all levels of high school;

* English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in all levels of elementary and high school;

* The current language policy prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education shall be maintained in college; and

* English shall be promoted as the language of interaction in schools.
It is important for certain people, you see, to deny that English is perhaps our most precious intellectual and cultural heritage. They cannot reconcile themselves with history as it has truly and really been lived by the Filipino people during the last one hundred years or more. They would deny that we are now part of the Western world and the Anglosphere, and irrevocably so. They would cast the nation down to the Babel of a language and ethnic apartheid composed of over 160 separate languages and barely limnable tribal affiliations. They believe in a silly set of ideas, falling under a mistaken appreciation of the "Mother Language hypothesis" that serves only one master: political correctness. At the practical level, they steadfastly refuse to see to the real needs of our global, mobile work force: the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose singular edge of acceptability and assimilability has been the English language. Likewise, they would shut our doors, xenophobically, to the vast opportunities in call centers, back office operations, software development, technical support, medical and legal transcription services, etc. in order to maintain the current education system's strange arrangement, in which more than half the teaching time is done in the vernacular instead of the global lingua anglica.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Fishy Fairy Tale

It's the kind of headline one usually finds  on the front pages of tabloids like the National Enquirer:  Dolphins and Whales Save Fisherman!    PDI reports news of an amazing rescue of a "fisherman"  adrift on a piece of styropore in Puerto Princesa Bay  by a pod of thirty spinner dolphins and a pair of pilot whales who allegedly "nudged" him to shore near Barangay Luzviminda, where he awoke the next resume his life as a whale and dolphin tourist guide for the City of Puerto Princesa. 
(PDI Southern Luzon Bureau) Dabal said he passed out while the dolphins were doing their slow chore of nudging him to shore, and woke up on the beach of Barangay (Village) Luzviminda where he was finally assisted by local residents there.
Dabal’s unique experience is made more special by the fact that aside from owning a small motorized boat which he uses mainly as his main source of livelihood catching tuna, he is a deputized dolphin warden on a part-time basis having been trained by the Palawan NGO Network and ABS CBN Bantay Kalikasan Foundation. The two groups are helping the city government in promoting dolphin and whale shark watching as a tourist attraction in Puerto Princesa.

“He is warden and a spotter, whom we tap to locate the presence of dolphins whenever there are guests on dolphin watching tours. He is also involved mainly in collecting garbage around the areas frequented by the dolphins to prevent the animals from eating them and being poisoned by plastics that float around,” Dr. Gerry Ortega of ABS CBN Foundation said.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn was so elated by Ronnie’s account that he vowed to ratchet up his administration’s support to the fishing communities around Puerto Bay that were helping promote dolphin and whales tourism by being volunteer wardens and spotters.

“Ronnie’s experience is the greatest proof that what we are doing to protect our marine environment is worth all the effort that we are putting into it. I’d like to think that this is the animals’ way of also thanking us for helping protect their habitat,” said Hagedorn.
The cynic in me suggests this fish story is really a FAIRY TALE disguised as a news story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"This Is Your Farewell Kiss, You Dog!"

MUNTADAR AL-ZEIDI, a correspondent of Bhagdadia TV, and his Size 10 shoes have made History after he hurled them (but missed) at outgoing US President George W. Bush at a surprise Press Conference in Bhagdad.  This video of the incident has apparently gone viral on the Web and has been viewed millions of times in just the last few days.  Check out Boing Boing's compendium of remixed video, animation, games, etc. that have been spawned.  I guess this video clip is destined to become iconic of the Bush Presidency and perhaps even of the Iraq War.
It would be different of course if this Iraqi journalist had been hurling grenades or IEDs, but I think this was one journalist's opinion being expressed in a radical and provocative manner, like Jews rending their garments in disgust.  Thus, even if we detest his speech, we must defend his right to express it.  That is one bit of the Democracy promised and hoped for in Iraq.  

"Attacking a foreign dignitary" is reportedly considered to be a crime in Iraq.   But with Iraqi's hailing Muntadar a hero, it is not certain what his fate under arrest will be.

Ding Gagelonia  over at Filipino Voices discusses  various aspects of this incident.  But Blackshama notes the appearance of yet another idiotic Inquirer editorial.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Martial Law Option

ART PANGANIBAN (formerly Chief Justice of SCoRP, turned PDI Pundit) addresses Arroyo's Options in case the chacha choo choo fails to leave the House. She could (1) declare martial law; (2) assume emergency rule; (3) run for Vice President in 2010 and assume the Presidency, again, like she did in 2001; or (4) play the new Kingmaker and control the next admin.

Caveats in reverse order: Option (4) would be the conventional dismount and is probably the safest course. But it is fraught with risk because if her horse doesn't win, and stripped of Presidential immunity, Gloria Arroyo could face years of prosecution.

Option 3 is interesting for its novelty and would be legal. She could run with Noli de Castro for example, win the Vice Presidency and have Noli resign for her to have six more years. (Yippee!)

Option 2, as Panganiban points out, would be highly unpopular and even face international censure.

Option 1 -- the martial law option -- is the most important and fascinating. Long before either the writ of habeas corpus is suspended or martial law imposed, Filipinos ought to familiarize themselves with the following provision of the Constitution. Although the 1987 charter is reputed to be full of anti martial law features, the reality is, under the present provision, the Lower House, by itself, in conspiracy with the President, COULD impose martial law indefinitely.

However, I disagree with Art Panganiban that under a legislative-executive martial law regime, that they could then convene Con-Ass and switch to a unicameral Parliamentary system. The provision itself is clear--"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies..."
1987 Article 7 Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
Many people, including this writer, have become familiar with several key provisions of the 1987 Constitution as a result of President Arroyo's expert assaults and skillful utilization of them. This bitter experience continues and if anything promises to get worse as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo refuses to dismount the Tiger. I suppose that before it actually happens, people really ought to anticipate her next dire move and come to understand the provision that will surely come into play if GMA plays the Martial Law Card.

Just perusing this provision will reveal much terra incognita that ought to be threshed out now. For example, WHERE is the vote to be taken to either reject or uphold a declaration of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus? The Batasan in Quezon City or the Senate in Pasay City? Who convenes and/or presides over such a session?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carol of the Bells by Philippine Madrigal Singers

Enjoy! Christmas is just around the corner.

Here's another version by Enoch...(can you tell this is a favorite of mine?)

Carol of the Bells

Oh, I have an essay at Filipino Voices that is related to this...What WAS the Start of Bethlehem?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unicameral Con-Ass Again?

Speaking on the noon time news today, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero brings up a good point. The present chacha movement in the House may be nothing more than a rear guard action to prevent her becoming a lame duck. As long as even the faintest hope of extending her term or changing the Constitution to suit exists, the Palace may be able to forestall the inevitable abandonment as 2010 and a new dispensation approaches. Palace allies in the House are keeping up a brave front about the Villafuerte Resolution--which reportedly convenes the Congress into a Constituent Assembly without the concurrent approval of the Senate. Yesterday, the Upper House voted unanimously to reject such a "unicameral Con-Ass" -- a Constitutional abomination if there is one.
Some people want you to believe that the following statement is "ambiguous"--
Any amendment to, or revision of this Constitution, may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members;
They want you to believe that it is ambiguous because they actually want the Supreme Court to decide what the Constitution means by this simple declarative sentence--after the President gets seven more chances to populate it with willing sycophants.

But it is NOT the case that one of the two alternatives, joint or separate voting on proposed charter changes, is unconstitutional, since either mode can comply with the three fourths majority requirement. Either mode is constitutional. There is naothing for the Supreme Court to decide. It is not that kind of ambiguity. It is up to the Congress to dacecide in its own discretion, which mode to use, not for the Supreme Court to decide which is bigger, half a dozen of one or six of the other!

In my opinion there is NO ambiguity to the fact that "the Congress" (NOT the House, nor the Senate, nor the Members of the Congress) is here granted the power to propose any amendment or revision to the Charter. HOW it is to comply with the three fourths majority rule requirement for approving such proposals is, most emphatically, entirely in the discretion of the Congress. There is no deep or hidden meaning in this plain language for the Supreme Court to debate upon, or discern, or adjudicate. The Constitution simply provides "the Congress" with the power to propose charter changes as long as it obeys the three fourths majority rule.

Thus, it is indubitably Constitutional for the Congress to adopt either VOTING JOINTLY as the House Majority is suddenly insisting upon as a last desperate chachachero dance, or VOTING SEPARATELY as the House and Senate have put in their Rules until this very day! Let me repeat: voting jointly or voting separately complies with the three fourths majority rule, so either mode would be Constitutional.

The important and perhaps subtle point that lots of people have missed, is that the Constitution leaves it entirely up to the Congress HOW it will exercise "constituent power" (the power to propose changes) whilst complying with the numerical majority requirement.

Now for the coup d'grace: although "the Congress" could conceivably decide to adopt the joint voting mode and ignore the difference between Senate and House membership, it can only ever come to this decision by first voting upon it in the default mode by which the Congress does anything--by having the House and Senate separately approve the same by a simple majority vote!

There are in fact a myriad number of ways conceivable for the Congress to approve proposed charter changes whilst complying with the three fourths majority rule. But every single one of these completely Constitutional modes can only be approved by "the Congress" in its default mode: House and Senate voting separately!

So once and for all, ladies and germs: the Supreme Court has nothing to decide or adjudicate in Article 17 Sec. 1. The Constitution is not ambiguous about Charter Change. It gives to the Congress all the powers and prerogatives to decide HOW it will comply with the Constitution when it proposes changes to it.

The "laws of physics" of a Bicameral Legislature dictate the "construction" of the Constitution and cannot be repealed without self-ridicule, not even by a Supreme Court of uniform sycophancy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vivisecting Villafuerte

The Supreme Court (in a Minute Resolution) recently dismissed Kampi Rep. Adam Relson Jala's petition to have the present House Rule on charter change proposals declared unconstitutional, which Rule upholds the 1935 concept of Congress proposing charter changes with House and Senate voting separately. But Kampi President and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte is leading one last desperate chacha attempt on Gloria's behalf based on certain quaint and curious notions about bicameral legislatures and constitutional arithmetic that are here examined and vivisected. He explained his views to Pia Hontiveros on ABSCBN's Strictly Politics program last Tuesday. (MP3)

Manuel L. Quezon III mentions 1935 Constitution with some nostalgia on his blog this week, noting how well it served the Second Republic. Unlike the present charter, 1935 was certainly unambiguous on Charter amendments:
Art. 15 Section 1. The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification.
The 1987 charter in stark contrast, too tersely states:
Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.
There is an obvious ambiguity in Art. 17 Sec. 1 because it does not specify "voting separately" as in 1935, or "voting jointly" as in the Martial Law provision. But this ambiguity is not some kind of show-stopping flaw that now requires Supreme Court action. All it means is that the Congress can and must exercise its discretion in HOW it will comply with the Constitution whenever it exercises this power to propose amendments or revisions.

In fact as reflected in the Rules that the House and Senate have adopted since 1987, the Congress has already decided that "upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members" means with House and Senate voting separately under three fourths majority rule to propose charter changes, just as with ordinary legislation.

Alternatively, the Congress could decide to comply with the 1987's three fourths majority rule by having House and Senate Members voting jointly and requiring a three fourths majority rule regardless of which chamber they belong too, as the unicameral Con-Ass artisans like Rep. Luis Villafuerte (Kampi, Camarines Sur) would like the Supreme Court to force it to do.

Rep. Luis Villafuerte, head of the President's party Kampi, is leading the latest chacha attempt on her behalf. He asserts that when the Members of Congress are proposing charter changes they are not acting as legislators but are exercising something he calls "constituent power" -- the power to propose changes -- and that therefore they must convene in a special joint session -- a Constituent Assembly -- for the purpose of debating and approving proposed charter changes. Moreover, he would like the SCoRP to rule that the Congress vote jointly, please. He told Pia Hontiveros of ABSCBN News Tuesday that he was trying to "trigger a justiciable case" to force the Supreme Court to decide upon what the 1987 provision means: voting jointly or voting separately on proposed charter changes.

Here is a subtle point that is however devastating to Villafuerte, and the Unicameralists. Regardless of whether the Congress decides to use "voting separately as House and Senate" or "voting jointly as a Constituent Assembly" when approving proposed charter changes, the Congress can only come to that decision itself of what chacha voting mode it will use, by an unavoidable process in which the House and Senate first separately vote to adopt such a mode or convene such a joint constituent assembly! It is the "default mode" of operation of a bicameral Congress, to which, and not to its individual Members, the thing Villafuerte calls "constituent power" is actually vested.

Recently, the good Rep. Villafuerte has been circulating a Resolution that he claims will have the "necessary number of signatures" (198, or three fourths of (238 + 24) to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly without a separate Senate approval as well as trigger a challenge in the Supreme Court.

The ineluctable fact of course is that even if every single Member of the Lower House were to sign the Villafuerte Resolution, it would remain a Resolution of the Lower House, nothing more, nothing less. As such, it cannot compel the Senate, nor therefore the Congress itself, to convene such a Con-Ass. Ironically, I believe that the House and Senate can separately, by simple majorities vote to convene such a Constituent Assembly without need of Supreme Court orders. Being within Congress' discretion, it would be an abuse of its own jurisdiction for the Supreme Court to be ordering the Congress to adopt a voting mode one way or the other.

SCoRP will probably need nothing more than a Minute Resolution to despatch Villafuerte's Resolution to the dustbin of Failed Petitions for Advisory Opinions from the Supreme Court. I predict the same ignominious end for the Villafuerte Resolution as met Adam Relson Jala's own attempt to elicit a favorable Supreme Court ruling for "unicameral con-ass".


It will be recalled that it was only by a single slim vote that the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the present charter stayed with the same basic form of government that existed before Marcos and his 1972 Martial Law constitution, which supplanted the 1935 charter. The Philippines almost became a unicameral Parliamentary form of government. Thus Fr. Joaquin Bernas has explained that it was an oversight that Art. 17 was not fleshed out for the eventual choice of a Presidential system with a bicameral legislature.

Nonetheless, the so-called ambiguity that exists in 1987 Art. 17 Sec. 1 is not such that the Supreme Court has to resolve the matter.

From the start, both the House and Senate understood that they could comply with the Constitution in one of two very different ways. First they could've decided to propose amendments or revisions while VOTING JOINTLY and ignoring the difference between membership in the Senate and membership in the House. But they did not do that. Instead they chose to adopt the same procedure they use in enacting laws in a bicameral legislature, i.e. with House and Senate VOTING SEPARATELY. Thus both House and Senate have consistently adopted Rules that obey the Constitution's three fourths majority requirement--even if that is done by voting separately.

The present attempt to bring about Charter Change before 2010, led by Rep. Luis Villafuerte (Kampi, Camarines Sur), is premised upon the assertion that because it would ALSO be Constitutional for the House and Senate to adopt Rules which would allow them to vote jointly on such proposals, he now intends to "trigger a justiciable controversy" for the Supreme Court to settle the issue and possibly wangle an interpretation that would require the Congress to vote jointly as desired by Villafuerte and company. There is a legitimate expectation that by late 2009, ALL the members of SCoRP will have been appointed by President Arroyo and handpicked for just this decision.

But there are several flies in this conceptual ointment.

In the first place, there can be no question that for the Congress to adopt the mode of voting jointly, the House and the Senate would have to vote separately to adopt that mode by repealing their present House and Senate Rules which prescribe voting separately!

Next, the Supreme Court might find it perverse to be asked to rule upon a matter that the Congress appears perfectly competent and entitled by the Constitution to decide entirely on its own, in the full and free exercise of its discretion, powers and duties. Indeed, the Congress, both House and Senate separately, have consistently adopted Rules that are natural and appropriate to a bicameral legislature and clearly obey the Constitution.

But the good Rep. Villafuerte believes that when the Members of Congress are exercising the power to propose amendments or revisions to the charter, they are not acting as legislators because it is "constituent power" they are exercising, not legislative power. Thus, he insists, that when exercising its constituent powers under the Constitution, the Congress must convene itself into a completely different entity, called a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass). And here the good Rep. Villafuerte makes a stunning leap and claim to trigger his hoped-for justiciable controversy: he asserts that three-fourths of all the Members of the Congress (even if they are all members of the House) can vote to convene Congress into such a Constitutent Assembly!

Occam would've castigated Villafuerte for an excess of appurtenances. I believe that the Congress COULD convene itself into such a Constituent Assembly if the House and the Senate voted to do so with simple majorities--but voting separately!

There are many places in the Constitution, in which it is entirely silent on HOW certain things are to be achieved or accomplished, usually leaving it up to Congress to pass "enabling legislation" for that purpose.

In reality, the Congress has already resolved the ambiguity in the chacha provision when the House and Senate each separately adopted Rules for exercising the power to propose amendments and revisions according to the procedure for enacting bills into law, but instead of simple majority votes in each of the House and Senate, they impose the Constitution's three fourths majority rule, still voting separately.

In other words, the Congress has interpreted the 1987 provision as if it were the 1935 provision, with each of the House and Senate voting separately. In my opinion this is perfectly reasonable and right, since the basic form of the government with a bicameral legislature, a strong chief executive and an independent judiciary has not changed. We still have a presidential form of government with a bicameral legislature, not a unicameral parliamentary one.

Speaking to Pia Hontiveros (Strictly Politics, ANC) Rep. Luis Villafuerte, President of the Kampi Party of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said he wants to trigger "a justiciable controversy" to get the Supreme Court to rule definitively on the meaning of Article 17 Sec. (1). For this purpose he has drafted a resolution on which he says he only needs 198 signatures to trigger that justiciable controversy. But Rep. Villafuerte informs the audience that his resolution does not contain any specific amendment or revision of the Constitution as such, but only "establishes the mode" by which Congress is to exercise its "constituent power" to propose such changes for ratification at plebiscite.

The leitmotif of the Villafuerte mode of exercising constituent power is the concept of a "Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass)." Notice that in the 1935 provision, Congress "in joint session assembled" proposes amendments with House and Senate Members voting separately and obeying the three fourths majority rule. The Villafuerte Resolution however contemplates an entirely different entity altogether than that found in the 1935 Constitution. He envisions a Constituent Assembly whose Members are all the Members of Congress with no distinction as to whether they are Senators or House Members.

The Villafuerte Con-Ass looks an awful lot like a Constitutional Convention composed of all the Members of the Congress. But since the identity of each Members of Congress as Senator or Congressman has been obliterated, we must presume that this new body, this Con-Ass, must also elect separate leaders to run the Con-Ass, with a separate bureaucracy and funding requirements, office space, support staff and facilities, which of course, the same bunch of Members, but acting in their alter ego capacity as the Congress, must fund in the budget.

When exercising "constituent power", claims Rep. Villafuerte, the Members of Congress are not acting as legislators and therefore Congress can dispense with its normal mode of "voting separately" as it does on normal legislation, ignore the difference between Senators and Congressmen and act just like a Constitutional Convention.

All in all, Villafuerte's conception of charter change through the Congress involves the re-organization of the Members of the Congress into an entirely separate entity that is a unicameral Constituent Assembly. This is very different from the 1935 "joint session" of the Congress, since the latter unambiguously upheld the bicameral nature of the Congress even when exercising what Villafuerte calls constituent power.

There is nothing ambiguous about the 1987 provisions grant of constituent power--the power to propose charter changes--to THE CONGRESS, and not to its individual members as some kind of personal entitlement. Thus there could be nothing more contradictory of the plain language of the Constitution --that any revision or amendment may be proposed BY THE CONGRESS-- than the following statement of the good Rep. Luis Villafuerte: (MP3)

Secure in its Place (Firmly Bolted to the Titanic!)

CONGRATULATIONS are in order on the 23rd anniversary of the Philippine Daily Innuendo (PDI) whose editorial Secure In Its Place states:
The Inquirer is the No. 1 broadsheet in circulation and readership. It has a circulation of about 245,000 copies on weekdays and 260,000 Sundays. The Nielsen Media Index study last month showed that the Inquirer accounts for 49 percent of respondents who had read a broadsheet the day before. The Philippine Star ranked second, followed by the Manila Bulletin. The Media Atlas of Synovate has also shown that the Inquirer is the daily newspaper of choice of 44 percent of people who read English dailies every day in urban areas. Star ranked second and the Bulletin, third.
These numbers were a lot bigger ten or even five years ago. Yup! It's firmly bolted to the Titanic of printed newspapers, whose economic and ecological problems appear to be terminal all over the world. But PDI's biggest problem is never having figured out how to become an institution instead of a Mass Organization masquerading as a Large-Format Tabloid. And the Band played on...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What Title Would You Give This Image?

Filipino Voices blogger Cocoy (Big Mango) notes the blasphemous tempest in a teapot swirling around the above print ad by ad firm Ogilvy featuring sensational boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and entitled "Give us this day" ... apparently ordered to cease and desist on the ground that the image is "blasphemous". Aw sh*t... have we turned into Saudi Arabia or Pakistan already?!

So, please submit your best answer. What title would YOU give this image. (By the way, Manny, I'm a believer!).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Assault With a Dead Weapon

Four impeachments attempts and an bloggers intervention later, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo shines with hubris as her Press Secretary invokes God on her behalf for 2010.  The power of impeachment, used only once since 1987,  with disastrous results, has been reduced to "assault with a dead weapon".  Why?? 
[Following is part of a recent post at Filipino Voices...]

In my opinion, the One-third Minority Rule on initiating cases of impeachment is a fundamentally flawed and undemocratic concept. It is philosophically inconsistent with Majority Rule, which is at the heart of everything the Congress does, from electing its officers to passing the budget, to making laws. People only like it if they don't like the President or other impeachable officials because they think it will be easier to impeach them. But by exempting impeachment from Majority Rule we are paradoxically devaluing, degrading, or even illegitimizing the process of impeachment itself, thus defeating the stated purpose of 1987's lowered impeachment initiation threshold. I think it is the principle behind Majority Rule that legitimizes any official act or law in a representative democracy. Official acts or laws ought to be legitimate in both form and substance. For me, legitimate in substance means the act or law does all things necessary and sufficient to achieve its stated purposes. Legitimate in form means it has passed the test of Majority Rule.

When we do not require the free will and approval of the Majority in a matter as gravely political as the initiation of removal proceedings against the President, or other high officials, we invite big trouble. By not requiring the "good housekeeping seal of approval" that Majority Rule bestows, we are building a weak foundation of public trust in the process of impeachment. For how is the public to evaluate or appreciate the overall merit or wisdom of an impeachment complaint or case, without the benefit of the same level of institutional approval or discernment that the public expects of even the most mundane legislation, such as the renaming of streets?

The attempt to impeach a particular President may be legitimate in substance, but because of the One-third minority rule, we are depriving it of the primordial legitimacy of form bestowed on acts and laws approved by Majority Rule. Unless a clear Majority supported it, the impeachment case will arrive at the Senate Court dressed in the shabby garments of every rejected proposal in the House, none of which ever dark the Senate's door.

At the moment the Administration forces in the House have been able to prevent the Opposition from attaining the required one-third threshold to impeach the President. (It is a testament to Gloria Arroyo's compleat understanding and political mastery of the Members of the House.) This would be the case of "legitimate in substance" but railroaded to the dumpsite by the Majority.

But there is something far worse possible. Someday, we could easily have a very different situation. We could have a "good" President undeserving of impeachment, faced with a stronger House opposition able to regularly muster the required 33% to satisfy the Minority Rule on impeachment. Then we could see all sorts of morally or ethically illegitimate impeachments going to trial in the Senate. After all there are thirty-one targets available at least once a year, not just the President. Such a profligacy of impeachments suits could be a good or a bad thing, but both conditions would be vastly improved if all impeachments that did reach trial, had all the seals of good housekeeping bestowed by Majority Rule.

For reference, here are the relevant portions of 1987 Art. XI on Accountability of Public Officers:
Section 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. Section 2. The President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Supreme Court, the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. All other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment. Section 3. (1) The House of Representatives shall have the exclusive power to initiate all cases of impeachment. (2) A verified complaint for impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of Business within ten session days, and referred to the proper Committee within three session days thereafter. The Committee, after hearing, and by a majority vote of all its Members, shall submit its report to the House within sixty session days from such referral, together with the corresponding resolution. The resolution shall be calendared for consideration by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof. (3) A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution. The vote of each Member shall be recorded. (4) In case the verified complaint or resolution of impeachment is filed by at least one-third of all the Members of the House, the same shall constitute the Articles of Impeachment, and trial by the Senate shall forthwith proceed. (5) No impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same official more than once within a period of one year. (6) The Senate shall have the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment. When sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the Philippines is on trial, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside, but shall not vote. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate. (7) Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office and disqualification to hold any office under the Republic of the Philippines, but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to prosecution, trial, and punishment, according to law. (8) The Congress shall promulgate its rules on impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this section.

How can it be right that a far greater fraction of the people's sovereignty is required to rename a street or pass the most mundane of laws, than it is to proceed with removing the President or Chief Justice from office by putting them on impeachment trial in the Senate?

The rule makes initiating a case of impeachment easier by lowering the arithmetic threshold, yet there is an absolute once-per-year limit on the initiation of impeachment proceedings. The sum of these two opposed effects is however, not zero, because the one third minority rule has badly damaged the power of impeachment by saddling it with the essential illegitimacy of an act with threshold of approval set much lower than every other act of the House and Senate. Hilario Davide, whose handiwork this brilliant 1987 innovation is known to be, actually first proposed a ONE-FIFTH minority rule for initiating impeachment, on the theory that another Dictator Marcos could be prevented if the Congress could impeach him at the first sign of culpable violation of the Constitution.
How much better would THAT idea have been?! Disastrous results, especially for Constitutional Separation of Powers, attended the one time it was invoked to impeach Erap exactly seven years ago last week--who was removed from office not by conviction at Senate trial (which was sure to acquit him) but by the inexplicable, extrajudicial act of the Chief Justice suddenly swearing in the Vice President, who claimed the President was permanently incapacitated--a bald lie.

There is supernal irony to the fact that a deeply undemocratic principle in the one-third minority rule, underpins impeachment, over which the Congress has sole and exclusive power and jurisdiction. Not even the Supreme Court can reverse or review a decision by the Senate in a case of impeachment. Neither can even the power of the President to grant pardons and commutations change the verdict or penalty in any case of impeachment. Yet this vast power can be wielded and deployed under a Minority Rule.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Apocalyptic Obama

Cardinal James Francis Stafford, (head warden of the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See), calls Barack Obama "aggressive, disruptive, apocalyptic" over his stand on abortion. The Catholic News Agency reports...
Washington DC, Nov 17, 2008 / 02:27 pm (CNA).- Cardinal James Francis Stafford, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, delivered a lecture on Thursday saying that the future under President-elect Obama will echo Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. Criticizing Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic,” he went on to speak about a decline in respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the values of marriage and human dignity.

Delivered at the Catholic University of America, the cardinal’s lecture was titled “Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II: Being True in Body and Soul,” the student university paper The Tower reports. Hosted by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, his words focused upon Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, whose fortieth anniversary is marked this year.

Commenting on the results of the recent presidential election, Cardinal Stafford said on Election Day “America suffered a cultural earthquake.” The cardinal argued that President-elect Obama had campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform” and predicted that the near future would be a time of trial.

“If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion,” he said, contrasting the year of Humane Vitae’s promulgation with this election year.

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Cardinal Stafford told his audience. Catholics who weep the “hot, angry tears of betrayal” should try to identify with Jesus, who during his agony in the garden was “sick because of love.”

The cardinal attributed America’s decline to the Supreme Court’s decisions such as the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which imposed permissive abortion laws nationwide.

“Its scrupulous meanness has had catastrophic effects upon the unity and integrity of the American republic,” Cardinal Stafford commented, according to The Tower.

His theological remarks centered upon man’s relationship with God and man’s place in society.

“Man is a sacred element of secular life,” he said, arguing that therefore “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

Cardinal Stafford also touched on the state of the family, saying that the truest reflection of the relationship between the believer and God is the relationship between husband and wife, and that contraceptive use does not fit within that relationship.
This follows a series of comments and scoldings from priests like Fr. Jay Scott Newman of Greenville, South Carolina, who "told parishioners that those who voted for Barack Obama placed themselves under divine judgment because of his stance on abortion and should not receive Holy Communion until they've done penance."  
TIME Magazine suggests the Pope may clash with Obama on abortion.

Meanwhile, in the archipelago, the fight over the Reproductive Health Bill in the House has been fierce and ongoing for months.  Though clearly favored by the public in overwhelming numbers (according to opinion surveys), the bill is facing rough sailing, even if it has nothing to do with legalizing or decriminalizing abortion. 

From the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines website:
The Catholic bishop's hierarchy made a stern warning Friday against “misleading” surveys in favor of the controversial Reproductive Health bill. Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said it’s a “mind-conditioning” strategy of those behind the bill.
Well if anyone knows about MIND CONDITIONING it's these guys. So they're fighting back by beefing up catechism lessons where the kids can get some honest to goodness truth in proselytizing.

What I am truly waiting for from Manila's Mullahs however, is some honest reflection on the Pope's own recent apologies for clergy sexual abuse (Newsweek) of parishioners and defenseless young men and women. And look at this from Der Spiegel
The child sex abuse scandal in the US Catholic Church first came to light in 2002. Since then the church has paid out $2 billion in compensation settlements to victims.
Wow! That's a lot of PEDOPHILIA, your reverences!

Please join the lively debate and discussion on this topic over at Filipino Voices

Is the Reproductive Health Bill Unconstitutional

Resolved: That Abortion Be Decriminalized

Remove the Anti-poor Bans on Divorce and Abortion

When Does Human Life Begin?

The Catholic Magisterium on Contraception

Support the Reproductive Health Bill

Some Fallacies in the Reproductive Health Bill Debate

We'd love to hear your opinion on this crucial national issue.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whose Grave Abuse of Discretion Was It?

In the landmark case North Cotabato v. GRP the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCoRP) ruled that the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process had committed grave abuse of discretion in the design and crafting, negotiation and settlement of the GRP MILF MOA AD. But three different persons have held that position in the time since the 2001 Tripoli Agreement included Ancestral Domain as a main strand of peace negotiations: Ging Deles, Jess Dureza and Hermogenes Esperon. But SCoRP in 1999 already defined the elements of GRAVE abuse of discretion (arbitrariness, despotism, etc).
In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process, as mandated by E.O. No. 3, Republic Act No. 7160, and Republic Act No. 8371. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority, and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined. The MOA-AD cannot be reconciled with the present Constitution and laws. Not only its specific provisions but the very concept underlying them, namely, the associative relationship envisioned between the GRP and the BJE, are unconstitutional, for the concept presupposes that the associated entity is a state and implies that the same is on its way to independence.
Scheduled to sign for the Philippines at Putrajaya, Malaysia on August 5, 2008 was the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, who had just assumed the post after retiring from the Armed Forces as Chief of Staff on May 9, 2008. He took over from Press Secretary Jess Dureza who was PAPP since Ging Deles resigned in 2005 over

Although it was Esperon who was clearly in the position of PAPP when the Supreme Court promulgated its Decision on the MOA-AD last month, he was not that before the middle of May this year and the MOA-AD has been years in the making. Surely the Supreme Court did not literally mean that the person Jun Esperon, retired Garci Tapes general and former Chief of Staff of AFP was himself responsible for the "furtive nature by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted."

With the design and crafting of the MOA-AD it is certain Hermogenes Esperon had little to do. He could not have evaded or refused any duty enjoined with respect to the MOA-AD because he, Jun Esperon was busy running the AFP and did not have Dureza's job before May this year, whereas the MOA-AD is part and parcel of the wider peace process under the 2001 GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement and has been in process since

The only reasonable and logical reading of North Cotabato v. GRP's summary disposative section therefore means that where the Supreme Court refers to the "Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process" in that section, they do not actually refer to Jun Esperon, the present but very recent occupant of that position.

If not Hermogenes Esperon could they be referring then to Jess Dureza, who was its long-time, previous occupant? I am tempted to say yes, since it cannot have escaped the High Court's notice that Jess Dureza was the PAPP for most the relevant period leading up to August 5.

But then again, Jess Dureza only took over over from Ging Deles in 2005, when she resigned over the Garci Scandal. Yet negotiations with the MILF and the development of the three strands (Security, Rehabilitation and Ancestral Domain) had been ongoing since 2001, when Ms. Deles would have been principally in charge as PAPP under President Arroyo.

So, did the Supreme Court mean Ging Deles? Jess Dureza? Hermogenes Esperon? -- when it referred to the PAPP as having committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or an excess of jurisdiction in designing, crafting, negotiating and attempting to sign the MOA-AD?

REGARDING GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999:
In a special action for certiorari, the burden is on petitioner to prove not merely reversible error, but grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the public respondent. "By grave abuse of discretion is meant capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough. It must be grave abuse of discretion as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and must be so patent and so gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law."
Thus the difference between MERE abuse of discretion and GRAVE abuse of discretion apparently lies in at least two distinguishing attributes of ARBITRARINESS and DESPOTISM.

Yet, is it plausible to assign these attributes to the persons Esperon, Dureza and Deles? Considering that on the matter of the peace process all of them seemed to take strict orders from the President, none of them can hardly be accused of acting in an arbitrary manner -- not with the micromanager of a Boss they had. Likewise, whatever despotism the Court perceives in the actions of the PAPP, it has to be flowing from some truly despotic source that is definitely higher than the Springs of Deles, Dureza and Esperon. Moreover, if these three were furtive in the design, crafting, negotiation and settlement of the Ancestral Domain deal, that powerful spell of Omerta they seem to have been under could only have been cast on them by the Capo di tutti capi.

If not Deles, Dureza and/or Esperon, then who has committed a grave abuse of discretion? There is a very important clue in the part of the Decision where the Court rejects the respondent's claims that the issues surrounding the Ancestral Domain MOA:
Contrary to the assertion of respondents that the non-signing of the MOA-AD and the eventual dissolution of the GRP Peace Panel mooted the present petitions, the Court finds that the present petitions provide an exception to the “moot and academic” principle in view of (a) the grave violation of the Constitution involved; (b) the exceptional character of the situation and paramount public interest; (c) the need to formulate controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public; and (d) the fact that the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.
Neither Ging Deles nor Jess Dureza, not even Jun Esperon--of their own free will and volition--are capable of causing a repetition of the crafting, designing and settlment of a MOA on Ancestral Domain with the MILF.

On every substantive point, it would be wilfull halucination to claim that anyone but the President was guilty of more than a mere abuse of discretion.

Only President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in the full exercise of her discretion as Chief Executive has the power and the personality to be arbitrary, despotic, evasive of review and capable of doing it again. It was HER discretion that was gravely abused. But the acts of her underlings ought not to be blamed on them entirely. If anything they were only guilty of MERE abuse of discretion, but the GRAVE abuse belongs entirely to her.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bloggers Intervene To Impeach GMA for MOA-AD

CITIZENS led by bloggers Manuel L. Quezon III (The Daily Dose), Ron of the The Marocharim Experiment and FEU Law Professor Edwin Lacierda have taken the unprecedented step of "intervening" in the current impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the House of Representatives.

I support the efforts of these very upright members of Philippine society to demand that the Rule of Law be enforced, especially by those whose job and duty it is to do so. I support their efforts to fortify the impeachment complaint inspite of knowing that the cards are stacked against them in the House. Already, the House totem-factotums seem irked that the de-kahon process of burying one of these Impeachment Complaints might be needlessly prolonged or even discombobulated by an unprecedented wrinkle like this intervention.

Noting that just one day after the present complaint was filed in the House, the Supreme Court on October 14 promulgated its landmark decision (North Cotabato v. GRP) striking down as unconstitutional on multiple grounds a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain that the GRP had initialed and was preparing to sign with the rebel MILF last August 5. The agreement would've created the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE)--a proposal which I am proud to say I was one of the very first to publicly decry and criticize when Gloria first mentioned it nearly a year before BJE made bloody headlines. (See my 2007 post, Ancestral Domain Regime or Bangsamorostan?)

After reading through the Intervention, it really made my blood boil even more than before. I find merit in the prayer to include PGMA's culpability in the matter of the MOA on Ancestral Domain. I agree that the President violated her oath of office and various official duties through inept, irresponsible and ultimately reckless and destructive handling of the Mindanao peace process. Since the government's abandonment of the MOA-AD--patently to win the Supreme Court's favor of a "moot and academic" ruling -- the situation in Mindanao has degenerated into war and destruction. It is the duty of Congress to impeach the President if it determines that the President is responsible for the MOA-AD's ultra vires provisions and conceptions, such as the "associative relationship between the GRP and the BJE" -- which the Supreme Court considered particularly violative of the Constitution not only for transgressing on Philippine territorial and sovereign rights but also for usurping the prerogatives of the Congress and the people themselves in the birthing and ratification of new Constitutions.

The MOA-AD, in the Supreme Court's judgment, stipulated agreement by the Arroyo government, to simultaneously create a Bangsamoro State within the Philippine State and to grant it recognition on par with commonwealth status in preparation for full independence. The setting up of this de-facto "associative relationship" without the consent of the people was ultra vires -- not within the powers -- of the President to negotiate and agree to.

At one point, SolGen Agnes Devanadera had offered the lame defense that the President had not read the MOA-AD in its final form, a "defensive" defense that tries to fudge the idea that the President did not know what was being agreed to. But the referred to "associative relationship" between BJE and the GRP pointed out by the Supreme Court, is a central concept of the new arrangement to be adopted had the MOA been signed. As such, this associative relationship was not a detail that the President would've missed due to changing versions.

Final Complaint in Intervention MOA
Get your own at Scribd or explore others: Law Opinions

Bush Regrets

In his first television one-on-one interview on CNN since the elections, President George W. Bush expressed his regrets over certain things he has said and done during the last eight years. In particular he mentioned "Dead or Alive!", "Bring'em on!" and the incident on a US warship shortly after the Iraq invasion in which a sign became an ironic emblem for the entire progress of the war since: "Mission Accomplished."

I think the remarks above are the closest George W. Bush has come to "apologizing" and his disarming candor will be noted by many, along with his genuine praise for President-elect Barack Obama. There was however, no news at all about how things actually went between Laura Bush (maroon) and Michelle Obama (flaming red)...Bush said he was sorry that "his choice" John McCain lost the 2008 presidential election but did not admit he was one of the reasons for it. (That is painfully obvious anyway.) But Bush struck absolutely the right note by hailing Barack Obama's convincing election victory as an historic moment, a day that "many people never thought they would see." Indeed the ginormity of the victors' mandate makes it absolutely honorable for the losers to concede and accept defeat with dignity and offer genuine congratulations. Bush did more than that by offering and arranging a smooth and effective transition to the incoming administration team.

Asked how the visit between George and Laura and Barack and Michelle went, Bush was firmly tightlipped about "advice on foreign and domestic issues" he might have given the President-elect, but he was quite sincere--almost in shock and awe--in praising Barack Obama as the father of two lovely daughters who was concerned during the visit about how they would take to life in the White House, their surroundings for the next four years. Bush seemed to admire and acknowledge Barack Obama's family values, and opined that this would be an important part of his Presidency.

Bush recalled how the Clintons once welcomed them to the White House in 2000 and he told Bubba, "You didn't have to do this!" In according the same graciousness to the Obamas, Dubya strengthens the American tradition of peaceful, even convivial transitions of power at the top. Moreover, I got the impression that Bush genuinely supports the president-elect and hopes he will be successful.

Martin Luther King would be smiling right about now, not crying like Jesse Jackson, now that even the cynical have seen the Promised Land, and the people have judged a leader, not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

The triumph of Barack Obama is indeed not a "black victory"--one wag even claimed it to be the victory of white supremacists over their own racism! It is in truth a triumph of the entire American people in overcoming the mental illness of racial prejudice and discrimination, a redemption of centuries-old American ideals which "hold it to be self-evident that all men are created equal."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Such Sincere Conviviality

"A good constructive relaxed and friendly meeting" is how White House spokesperson Dana Perino describes the meeting between George and Barack and Laura and Michelle today, as the Bushes hosted the Obama's at the White House. (No! It is not being renamed the Black House, silly!) The CNN coverage I first watched has Laura Bush glancing down at her watch during the first picture! picture! It was reminiscent of a move her father-in-law, George H.W. Bush once made in a presidential debate, which of course this event was not. Later clips don't contain the small and probably meaningless motion--not on this day of the such sincere conviviality imaginable... A sign of a strong and healthy democracy... Maybe the two ladies discussed the drapes with a serious mien later...President Bush was both generous and gracious in his congratulations to the President-elect...a very warm welcome is always in order to whomsoever you are handing off the Hot Potato! ...Barack himself can't bear Dubya too much umbrage...Bush being the best election argument against John McCain. I noticed a slight Texas swagger to Barack's stride as he and Bush strode past the Roses in the Garden...

Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of constitutional law at Harvard, calls Barack Obama "the most impressive student" he has ever taught (possibly next only to Michelle Obama).
Barack Obama's unique ability to explain and to motivate, coupled with his signature ability to listen and to learn, and linked with the calm that marked his nearly flawless campaign, will serve him--and all of us--well as we grapple with as daunting a set of problems as the nation has faced in three-quarters of a century. It is of course true that only time will tell just how successful this brave, brilliant and caring man will be in charting a new course for the country, something that will depend only partly on decisions that Obama will make as president.
The student exceeds the master, eh? We shall see...

Obama's victory was everyone's victory, not a "black thing," opines Elizabeth Wurtzel
Of course, Mr. Obama's election to the highest office in the nation is a particular party for the African-American community -- only a moron would miss that point -- but why leave the rest of us out? Anyone still thinking straight after this heady occasion knows that Mr. Obama is to be our next president in spite of race, not because of it. The winner of this contest may finally be Martin Luther King Jr., whose dream is at last realized: We judged Mr. Obama not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. Why minimize the wonder of that by making this into a black thing?
If anything, I guess, Obama's victory was the white majority's victory over a collective demon-- a triumph over a mental illness once pandemic in America, now hopefully on the way to extinction, like polio or malaria or some other debilitating disease. Blacks and "people of colour" should note the transformation, but remember and beware the symptoms, racism being truly an equal opportunity affliction.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Barack Obama: "A Mutt Like Me"

Video and transcripts of Barack Obama's first press conference  (courtesy of the New York Times) show that this guy is ready for the job of President of the United States.  He was confident, purposeful and optimistic in his formal remarks, yet circumspect and respectful, when he reminded everyone that we only "have one President at a time" and refused to confound diplomatic signals on Iran, repeating that a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable.

The president-elect was very relaxed with the Press during the question and answer period.  Asked what a new President could do in the first hundred days in office, he responded immediately that he would act to restore confidence as the financial crisis spills out into the rest of the economy.  He said that if the lame-duck Congress did not do it as a final act under the Bush administration, it would be his first accomplishment as President to pass a second economic stimulus package. He stressed the need to create jobs and boost consumer confidence.

Asked what books he was reading and which Presidents he has talked to, Barack Obama said he had been talking to all of the living presidents but mentioned specifically his re-reading of ABRAHAM LINCOLN speeches and writings.

Now regarding the puppy...It seems the Obama's have to get an "hypo-allergenic dog" because Melea is allergic to dogs.  Barack Obama said, he would have preferred they got a shelter dog ("a mutt like me").   Haha, oh well...movin on the East Side...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama Speaks in Chicago

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA delivers an acceptance speech in Chicago following concession and congratulations from Sen. John McCain...

The Los Angeles Times got it all quite nicely: "That's the genius of America--that America can change!"
The New York Times has transcript and video of the President elect Barack Obama's Victory Speech on Nov. 4, 2008 in Chicago.

Goodbye, Toot.

Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died of cancer today in Hawaii--where she once raised the man who is on the threshold of well, the Promised Land, (as all signs point to him winning the Presidency of the United States of America on Election Day). "Toot" (from "grandmother" in an African language) was 86. She was a World War II bomber assembly line worker and died at their "family estate" -- a fifty square foot apartment she has rented for decades in central Honolulu. Goodbye, Toot!

Something Heard on CNN...

ROSA sat, so MARTIN could march, so BARACK could run and the children, FLY.

Friday, October 31, 2008

One Big Fight!

The Opposite of Apathy (Adel Tamano et al) --on the Ateneo Faculty closing ranks.
The names of the signatories are worth listing here...

Ricardo G. Abad (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Joy G. Aceron (Department of Political Science)
Raymond B. Aguas (Department of Theology)
Liane Peña Alampay (Department of Psychology)
Fernando T. Aldaba (Department of Economics)
Raul Socrates C. Banzuela (Program for Development Studies)
Raymundo S. Baquiran, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Remmon E. Barbaza (Department of Philosophy)
Germelino M. Bautista (Department of Economics)
Edsel L. Beja, Jr. (Department of Economics)
Rofel G. Brion (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Ma. Cecilia C. Bulos (Department of Psychology)
Liberty L. Chee (Department of Modern Languages)
Sharon Ann C. Co (Department of Psychology)
Antonio Esteban G. Conejos (Department of English)
Manuel D. Cuenca, Jr., M.D. (Department of Psychology)
Gary C. Devilles (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Aleta C. Domdom (Department of Economics)
Atty. Alexander C. Dy (Ateneo Law School)
Manuel B. Dy, Jr. (Department of Philosophy)
Elizabeth Uy Eviota (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ana Marie O. Fernandez (Department of English)
Joseph H. Francia (Department of Economics)
Jamil Paolo S. Francisco (Department of Economics)
Geoffrey A. Guevara (Department of Philosophy)
Marita Castro Guevara (Department of Interdisciplinary Studies)
Roberto O. Guevara (Department of Theology)
Ma. Regina M. Hechanova (Department of Psychology)
Anne Marie A. Karaos (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Albert M. Lagliva (Department of Philosophy)
Michael J. Liberatore (Department of Theology)
Liza L. Lim (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Emma Concepcion D. Liwag (Department of Psychology)
Ada Javellana Loredo (Department of English)
Jozon A. Lorenzana (Department of Communication)
J. Ma. Arcadio Malbarosa (Department of Philosophy)
Michael Ner E. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Pamela Joy M. Mariano (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Isabel Pefianco Martin (Department of English)
Marcia Czarina Corazon M. Medina (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Isabel E. Melgar (Department of Psychology)
Luisito G. Montalbo (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)
Cristina Jayme Montiel (Department of Psychology)
Aaron Rom O. Moralina (Department of History)
Jocelyn M. Mayoralga-Nolasco (Department of Psychology)
Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo (Department of Psychology)
Glenda C. Oris (Kagawaran ng Filipino)
Josephine P. Perez (Department of Psychology)
Raul Pertierra (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Caroliza T. Peteros (Program for Development Studies)
Alicia T. Pingol (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Emma E. Porio (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Mary Racelis (Department of Sociology-Anthropology)
Ma. Margarita A. Ramos (Department of Psychology)
Mariel Vincent A. Rapisura (Program for Development Studies)
Danton R. Remoto (Department of English)
Agustin Martin G. Rodriguez (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Maria O. Salvador (Department of Political Science)
Atty. Maria Cleofe Gettie C. Sandoval (Leaders for Health Program, AGSB – Health Unit)
Joselito T. Sescon (Department of Economics)
Anton Luis C. Sevilla (Department of Philosophy)
Alma Valerie C. Soriano (Department of English)
Sherilyn T. Siy (Department of Psychology)
Mary C. Thomas (Department of English)
Jose Ma. Edito K. Tirol (Department of History)
Philip Arnold P. Tuaño (Department of Economics)
Eileen F. Tupaz (Department of Philosophy)
John Carlo P. Uy (Department of Philosophy)
Ma. Eufemia C. Yap, M.D. (Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meet Nouriel Roubini -- Dr. Doom

Times Online features Prof. Nouriel Roubini of New York University--an international economics expert who earned the monicker Dr. Doom in 2006 when he predicted the global economic and financial crisis with uncanny prescience in a speech to the International Monetary Fund. People laughed at him then, but no more. And they are likely to get grimmer as he "fears that the worst is yet to come."
What does Roubini think is going to happen next? Rather worryingly, in London last Thursday he predicted that hundreds of hedge funds will go bust and stock markets may soon have to shut – perhaps for as long as a week – in order to stem the panic selling now sweeping the world...Contacted in Madrid on Friday, Roubini said the world economy was “at a breaking point”. He believes the stock markets are now “essentially in free fall” and “we are reaching the point of sheer panic”.
If you want to stare at the abyss, go to his blog RGE Monitor.

Monday, October 27, 2008

RP Stock Market Plunges 12.3 Percent

ABSCBN News reports that the Philippine Stock Exchange closed 12.3 percent lower today.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto was upbeat during an interview with ABSCBN's Twink Macaraeg this afternoon, predicting that in a few years there would be "many millionaires" --referring to those who might be brave enough to get into equities today. Possibly trying to calm palpable fear and uncertainty as the Philippine bourse headed south and is now worth half what it was last year, Secretary Recto pointed to large blue chip firms that were buying up their own shares, saying this indicated those companies' faith in their own fundamentals. But Prof. Cayetano Paderanga of the University of the Philippines warned that they are expecting major reductions in remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The global financial meltdown shows no signs of "hitting bottom" however as regional, European and American stocks continued a dizzying slide in the face of Wall Street's troubles, which began a month ago.

The much vaunted economic wizardry of the overstaying President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (who presides over Asia's most corrupt government, according to various global corruption watchdogs), will be tested as never before, even as a fresh impeachment case has been filed against her in the Lower House by Joey de Venecia III, and endorsed by former House Speaker Jose de Venecia (his father).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Manila's Mullahs and Mind Conditioning

From the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines website:
The Catholic bishop's hierarchy made a stern warning Friday against “misleading” surveys in favor of the controversial Reproductive Health bill. Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said it’s a “mind-conditioning” strategy of those behind the bill.

Well if anyone knows about MIND CONDITIONING it's these guys. So they're fighting back by beefing up catechism lessons where the kids can get some honest to goodness truth in proselytizing.

What I am truly waiting for from Manila's Mullahs however, is some honest reflection on the Pope's own recent apologies for clergy sexual abuse (Newsweek) of parishioners and defenseless young men and women. And look at this from Der Spiegel
The child sex abuse scandal in the US Catholic Church first came to light in 2002. Since then the church has paid out $2 billion in compensation settlements to victims.
Wow! That's a lot of PEDOPHILIA, your reverences!

Please join the lively debate and discussion on this topic over at Filipino Voices

Is the Reproductive Health Bill Unconstitutional

Resolved: That Abortion Be Decriminalized

Remove the Anti-poor Bans on Divorce and Abortion

When Does Human Life Begin?

The Catholic Magisterium on Contraception

Support the Reproductive Health Bill

Some Fallacies in the Reproductive Health Bill Debate

We'd love to hear your opinion on this crucial national issue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who Does Barack Obama Look Like?

The big news today on the US Presidential election is that Barack Obama will be suspending his campaign to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii. Andrew Sullivan says in this regard, "There's a lot more Kansas in Obama than most people on the right seem to think.

Prayers for her, her family and the man who now has to deal with this emotional burden at this exposed and intense time. They are all still human, you know. It never hurts to remember that. And we all forget it sometimes."

Now at first I thought the picture that Andrew posted was Barack Obama on the left, perhaps as young man about to go to college, and his mother Anne Dunham. But if you follow the link on his post, His Last Parent to this Wikipedia article you discover that in the picture are his white grandparents from Kansas on his mother's side, Stanley Armour Dunham and Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham (his grandmother, Toot, who is reportedly in deteriorating health and may be near death.) Toot raised Obama, after his mother Anne died of cancer at age 51. But is it just me, or isn't there a strong resemblance between Barack Obama and his grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham?