Monday, March 31, 2008

Holy Communion by Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz



Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop's Residence, 2400 Dagupan City


"Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls in front of pigs." (Matthew 7:6). Painful words. Strong injunction. But understandable admonition. Realistic situation. This is why in principle, the combined conclusion of moral and sacramental theology of solid and long standings is that Holy Communion may not be given to public sinners.

Thus, as consistently taught by the Catholic Church pursuant to the binding articles of Faith she professes and the standing norms of morals she adheres to, Holy Communion affirms and adheres to the following truths: First, it means nothing less than receiving the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ Himself. Second, the recipient wherefore cannot but be in the state of sanctifying grace to worthily have Holy Communion. Third, someone therefore in the publicly known state of grave or mortal sins—such as precisely public sinners—should not be given Holy Communion lest the he or she becomes even a bigger sinner by the offense of downright sacrilege.

It is the responsibility and accountability of the Minister of Holy Communion to decide whom to give Holy Communion due to presumption of the worthiness of the recipient, and whom to deny it on account of sound conviction of unworthiness by reason of publicly known serious objective moral offenses—particularly those with wide and intensive adverse social impacts. When the Minister gives Holy Communion to anybody who does not have the strong presumption of worthiness akin to moral certitude—a triple sacrilege is committed, viz., one, the profanation of the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ; two, the desecration of the Ministry of Holy Eucharist, and three, the blasphemy by the recipient.

This is why as a matter of doctrinal principle and moral norm, someone known to the public as reasonably perceived or actually known guilty not simply of one, neither only three nor merely five but more grave or mortal sins of such as gross stealing, flagrant graft and corrupt practices, and other glaring big moral misdeeds with extensive and intensive adverse effects to society, fits the reality of a public sinner. To conclude otherwise, i.e., that the person concerned is holy or saintly, is not only irrational but also futile. And to give the Most Sacred Body and Blood of Christ to the same, is not simply highly offensive to the sensitivity of the simple Christian faithful in general but also—and primarily so—means a big contempt of inherent divinity and intrinsic sanctity of Christ Himself. That is why giving Holy Communion in public to a public sinner is a public scandal.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Only the State Can Violate Separation of Church and State

OR: Why Rep. Danilo Suarez Is An Ignorant Hick From the Land of Coconuts

I think that government officials who don't understand Separation of Church and State should be disqualified from public office until they admit that it is a proper and sacred subset of Freedom of Speech--nothing more, nothing less! The Catholic Church is NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION (NGO) that is given the widest latitude to teach and believe in their religion, no matter how silly or profound it is, on which account it is further forbidden that their civil or political rights be suppressed.

Holy Communion from Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz's blog (first Bishop blogrolled on Philippine Commentary years ago, even if I disagree with him a lot, because I learn the most from those who disagree!) Today I rise in his defense. I encourage the most dedicated anti-gambling crusader in the Philippines to expose the complicity of the Pagcor in the political and financial subordination of the Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy to that Ministry of Vice and Immorality.

ABSCBN has the news on Archbishop Oscar Cruz :
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz said "public sinners" should not be given the Holy Sacrament of Communion including, he said, President Arroyo. "I would not give communion to somebody receiving communion in public whom I know is a public sinner. I am sorry. I could be wrong and may God forgive me but I cannot do it," Cruz said. "It’s like throwing the body and blood of Christ into the garbage," Cruz said.
Lawmakers want Bishop sanctioned: Arroyo loyalist Rep. Danilo Suarez (Quezon province, land of the coconuts) wants to complain to the Vatican and urges the CBCP to sanction Cruz for "lying in public" --
"The CBCP should consider that lying, especially when committed by priests or Church officials, is a grave sin that should merit Cruz the very action he threatened the President and her family with – a denial of Holy Communion, Suarez said. He lamented that Cruz has been mixing politics with religion in violation of the constitutional provision on the separation of the church and the state."
It appears that Rep. Danilo Suarez is spreading falsehoods of his own. In the first place, the Separation of Church and State is a prohibition ONLY ON THE STATE against interfering in any way with the exercise of freedom of religion, a subspecie of the freedom of speech. Separation of Church and State CANNOT be violated by Churches or Churchmen because such violation can only be committed by the State or its agents, like Danilo Suarez.

I do hereby accuse one Rep. Danilo Suarez of ignorance, and a culpable attempt to violate this sacred provision in the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution:
Bill of Rights Article III Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
Danilo Suarez and his patroness, the whole Congress, Judiciary, army and police altogether CANNOT cause the sanction of Archbishop Oscar Cruz for a plainly partisan political purpose. No more than they can cause the suppression of rallies, editorials or blogs that call them the spadeful of graft and corruption and obsequious banality that they are, in my humble frickin' opinion.

Now since we are talking about LYING IN PUBLIC, there is an important point of principle that needs clarification. It is the concept of the Public's Right to the Truth, the subject of much controversy really since Edsa Dos (the biggest LIE of all!

The word "TRUTH" is found exactly twice in the 1987 Constitution:
PREAMBLE: We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
The second occurrence of the word "TRUTH" is not in the Bill of Rights but in the special section on Social Justice and Human Rights under the powers of the Commission on Human Rights which is empowered to:
ART. XIII Sec. 17 (8) Grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession of documents or other evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth in any investigation conducted by it or under its authority.
More attention ought to be paid to the latter provision of the Philippine Constitution, which to me is actually nothing less than the most solid Constitutional basis for a comprehensive
WHISTLE-BLOWER protection law.

Previous Post: There is no right to the truth under Freedom of Religion

Today is the 35th anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court Decision, Javellana v. Executive Secretary which basically legitimated the Fascist Dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos My post in 2006 was Javellana at 33.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Justice Renato Corona Rules Philippine Senate Is MACHIAVELLIAN


In the Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Renato Corona one finds the following:
A Final Word The hands that wield the power of legislative investigations are powerful. Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution cushions the impact by providing substantive as well as procedural limitations. Unfortunately, in Machiavellian fashion, respondent Committees disregarded the procedural safeguards purportedly in the name of truth and good governance. In so doing, they dealt a devious blow not only on Neri but also on our cherished traditions of liberty.
The most perspicacious and charitable reading of Mr. Justice Renato Corona's concurring opinion does not yield a single iota of evidence or shred of logic to justify the use of such CONTUMACIOUS language against the Philippine Senate, in my own hambog opinion. I suppose it is to be expected considering Corona was a mere functionary and footstool in Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo PICC office staff in 2001 when Erap was overthrown in the Edsa Dos coup d'etat and she appointed him to the High Court on April 12, 2002, one of the youngest ever in Philippine Supreme Court history.

But he's got to be qualified since he graduated from the same school as the First Gent after which look at his outstanding achievements (at the Supreme Court Website) here and abroad:
His competence in the field of law is recognized in the Philippines and abroad. In 2006, he was conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa by the University of Batangas for his “legal scholarship, professional integrity and judicial independence.” In 2007, he was again honored with another Doctor of Laws honoris causa degree, this time by the University of Cebu. He has lectured in and presented scholarly papers before several international law conferences and seminars, the latest of which were the 9th General Assembly of the Asean Law Association in Bangkok, Thailand and the interregional meeting of a multidisciplinary group of experts on the role of sanctions in ensuring better respect for international humanitarian law, sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Legal scholarship, professional integrity, judicial independence."

It's must be true, folks. Lookit. The University of Batangas and Cebu vouch for it. So do the Asean Law Assn in Bangkok , Thailand, a group of humanitarians and the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.

But here is a truly admirable fact about Justice Corona. He is still in school!
A legal scholar at heart, he served as a member of the faculty of the Ateneo Law School for 17 years, teaching Commercial Law, Taxation and Corporation Law, the same subjects that became the focus of his many articles and columns in several newspapers. He also wrote for the Ateneo Law Journal. Justice Corona is currently finishing his doctoral studies in civil law at the University of Santo Tomas where he was given the award of Most Outstanding Graduate School Student.
Now, there's true legal scholar for you. Already an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, but still avidly pursuing erudition and truth...and...Most Outstanding Graduate School Student of 2007 at the University of Sto. Tomas!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Fallacious Heart of Neri v. Senate is a False Distinction About the Powers of Legislation and Oversight

Anyone who understands English Grammar and Composition will be able to see very easily the gaping logical flaw in the just announced Supreme Court Decision on executive privilege versus the Power of Inquiry of the Congress.

The main decision and the concurring and dissenting opinions in the landmark case of Romulo Neri versus Senate Committees are here at the Supreme Court Website. From the disposing portion in the main ponencia (Justice Leonardo de Castro), I wish to identify the pure, fallacious heart of this infamous decision as the following passage in GR No. 180643 --

The false distinction in the post title is redbolded below:

We grant the petition.

At the outset, a glimpse at the landmark case of Senate v. Ermita[18] becomes imperative. Senate draws in bold strokes the distinction between the legislative and oversight powers of the Congress, as embodied under Sections 21 and 22, respectively, of Article VI of the Constitution, to wit:

SECTION 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.

SECTION 22. The heads of department may upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President, or upon the request of either House, or as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be heard by such House on any matter pertaining to their departments. Written questions shall be submitted to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives at least three days before their scheduled appearance. Interpellations shall not be limited to written questions, but may cover matters related thereto. When the security of the state or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall be conducted in executive session.

Senate cautions that while the above provisions are closely related and complementary to each other, they should not be considered as pertaining to the same power of Congress. Section 21 relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, its aim is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while Section 22 pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress’ oversight function.[19] Simply stated, while both powers allow Congress or any of its committees to conduct inquiry, their objectives are different.

This distinction gives birth to another distinction with regard to the use of compulsory process. Unlike in Section 21, Congress cannot compel the appearance of executive officials under Section 22. The Court’s pronouncement in Senate v. Ermita[20] is clear:

When Congress merely seeks to be informed on how department heads are implementing the statutes which it has issued, its right to such information is not as imperative as that of the President to whom, as Chief Executive, such department heads must give a report of their performance as a matter of duty. In such instances, Section 22, in keeping with the separation of powers, states that Congress may only request their appearance. Nonetheless, when the inquiry in which Congress requires their appearance is ‘in aid of legislation’ under Section 21, the appearance is mandatory for the same reasons stated in Arnault.

In fine, the oversight function of Congress may be facilitated by compulsory process only to the extent that it is performed in pursuit of legislation. This is consistent with the intent discerned from the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission

Ultimately, the power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive officials under section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find their basis in the principle of separation of powers. While the executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply with its demands for information. (Emphasis supplied.)

The availability of the power of judicial review to resolve the issues raised in this case has also been settled in Senate v. Ermita, when it held:

As evidenced by the American experience during the so-called “McCarthy era,” however, the right of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is, in theory, no less susceptible to abuse than executive or judicial power. It may thus be subjected to judicial review pursuant to the Court’s certiorari powers under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution.

Hence, this decision.

Definition: The Power to Legislate is the power to MAKE NEW LAWS and RE-MAKE OLD LAWS.
Example: The main piece of legislation for which the Congress is responsible is the National Budget, which it MAKES and RE-MAKES every year.

Thesis: Section 21, which mentions Congressional power to conduct "inquiries in aid of legislation" when applied to the National Budget clearly involves two functions of the Congress if it is to successfully enact the budget: (1) it must gather all information for any new items in the budget; and (2) it must perform oversight of administration, by requiring of the Executive Departments a full accounting of how they spent the last budget and why the new budget is justified. Thus Section 21, with all its enforcement processes applies to the UNITARY POWER OF LEGISLATION (to make and remake the laws) which would be frustrated if information is denied it that is necessary (1) to make new laws (inquiry in aid of NEW legislation) OR (2) to REMAKE old laws (oversight so as to remake OLD legislation) If we do not accept this, then the entire OVERSIGHT process called the Budgetary hearings becomes non-compulsory for Executive Dept. officials. Thus I claim, as the US Congressional Oversight Manual itself proclaims, that OVERSIGHT inquiries ARE inquiries in aid of legislation with equal process to enforce as inquiries in aid of new legislation.

Claim: Section 22 is an irrelevant appendix left over from when the 1986 Constitutional Commission almost established a unicameral Parliament requiring the "question hour" therein in mentioned, which question hour has NEVER been conducted by the Congress in 21 years because it is not part of the Republican Presidential system with a bicameral Congress! [Please See Update 1 below. Hat tip: MLQ3) Nothing whatsoever would be affected by completely ignoring it. The Powers of Oversight DO NOT rest in this one provision, but in DOZENS of enumerated provisions detailing the various powers of Congress to extract information of all kinds from the executive, as detailed more clear-headedly in the documents listed below which inspired this whole chain of reasoning at Philippine Commentary and is required reading for all commentators on this important issue.

Having disposed of the PREMISES of the Main Decision in Neri v. Senate, I conclude that the decision is based on a false dichotomization of the Power of Inquiry and is therefore a decision that is morally and logically NULL and VOID. The Congress must ignore it if it is to do its DUTY of making and re-making the laws.



Whistleblower Protection: A Tale of Reform versus Power

On the Constitutional Grounds For a Whistle Blower Protection Law
(A Philippine Commentary that makes the same rebuttal, only longer.)

It only remains to demonstrate that the ZTE NBN deal involves the suppression of evidence in a potential case of impeachment, in which case the SOLE and EXCLUSIVE power to initiate and to decide belongs entirely to the Congress. Although Executive Privilege covers confidential communications of the President and her men, that is only so if REGULARITY of those conversations (along with their candid nature) is unquestioned.

But I have to leave something for tomorrow...hehe!

I am so glad the Supreme IS as shallow as I feared and has no arguments that have not already been considered here at Philippine Commentarty during the last two years of considering this whole matter starting with Senate v. Ermita.

CLICK THE VARIOUS LABELS BELOW FOR MORE ARTICLES rebutting the SCORP's false distinctions on the Powers of Legislation.

UPDATE 1: See MLQ3's comment in the thread about Joker Arroyo's appearance at a Question Hour in the House (1988 or 1989?). Apparently the House Rule XVII covers Question Hours in the Lower House. But I could not find the phrase "Question Hour" in the Rules of the Senate or the Senate Rules on Inquiries in Aid of Legislation. I stand corrected that the Congress has "never" done a Question Hour, since the House has done it at least once.

An important question around which the validity of much in Neri v. Senate depends, is in what sense we might regard the current Senate investigation as being covered by Section 22 Question Hour provision.

UPDATE 2: Let me re-state my formulation of the FALSE DISTINCTION in Neri v. Senate, which states that:

Section 21 relates to the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, its aim is to elicit information that may be used for legislation, while Section 22 pertains to the power to conduct a question hour, the objective of which is to obtain information in pursuit of Congress’ oversight function.[19] Simply stated, while both powers allow Congress or any of its committees to conduct inquiry, their objectives are different.
The OBJECTIVES are NOT different, unless we claim that the making of new laws is in any sense different from-- the remaking of old laws. The single unitary objective of both is to gather information necessary for LEGISLATION. If we agree that legislation means making and remaking the laws, then Section 22 truly is superfluous. The further distinction the Supreme Court makes is insipid and equally vacuous: that the Congress has compulsory process only for making laws and not for conducting oversight of administration so it can remake the laws as necessitated by what information it discovers.

Supreme Court Rules 9-6 In Favor of Romulo Neri Against Philippine Senate

Both ABSCBN and GMA-TV News are reporting in Manila that the Supreme Court has ruled 9-6 in favor of Romulo Neri's petition to PROHIBIT the Senate of the Philippines from arresting him for contempt for refusing to answer three questions involving testimonial evidence he could give on President Arroyo's complicity in the scandalous ZTE NBN deal with China.

Philippine Commentary on February 6 was (modesty aside)--Supreme Court Will Rule That Executive Privilege Covers What Neri and Lozada Know

Okay, here are all fourteen of my Philippine Commentaries on Executive Privilege
since the first one reacting to Senate v. Ermita
King Solomon Just Cut the Baby in Half (April, 2006)

and the latest one just this morning before the announcement:

Judicial Review is the Wrong Fulcrum to Balance Executive Privilege and Congress Oversight of Administration (March, 2008)

My Two Centavos Worth:

The Philippine Congress should immediately pass comprehensive whistle-blower protection laws for all persons in the Civil Service in order to obsolete the Supreme Court's gag rules in Senate v. Ermita and Neri v. Senate which are brazen subjugations to Judicial Review and Executive Privilege of the Power of Inquiry of Congress in aid of legislation and the legislatures integral duty of oversight of administration. I cannot imagine a more compleat and disastrous demolition of the Separtion of Powers and a curtailment of the Public’s Very Right to Know what their government is doing than this 9-6 decision of the Supreme Court. We are now under an effective Dictatorship of Judicial and Executive Privilege in which the principle of Checks and Balances is no more. The cuckolding of the Congress which begun in 2001 has once again been affirmed and practiced by Unelected Judges appointed by an illegitimate chief executive. Forget not: the Executive has only two impeachable officials, whilst the Supreme Court has fifteen. That's a lot of Privilege!


Judicial Review is the Wrong Fulcrum to Balance Executive Privilege and Congress Oversight of Administration

Is it conceivable that the Supreme Court must rule on every single controversial question that Congress might want to pose to Executive Branch officials from here till Doomsday? Does it have the power to prevent ANY citizen from going to Congress before the fact, to speak on any matter within the Rules of the House or Senate?
I should say NOT! For that will only mean the complete CUCKOLDING of the Congress that was started by Hilario Davide Jr. in the Edsa 2 coup d'etat and be an historic blow to Freedom of Speech and Public's right to know.

It would be the placing of a bone in the throat of every whistle blower in the government if a full-blown Supreme Court ruling be required whenever some government official--Cabinet minister or lowly policeman or clerk--should want to exercise his or her sworn duty to uphold the law and expose or allege criminal wrong doing within their areas of personal knowledge and competence. Of course they are subject to all the normal restrictions against perjury, false testimony or mere innuendo. But that does not, in my opinion, empower even the Supreme Court to impose such PRIOR RESTRAINT by requiring judicial review before the testimony.

In the final analysis, the unanimous Supreme Court decision Senate v. Ermita, proclaims JUDICIAL REVIEW to be the final fulcrum for deciding whether or not Congress may ask some question, even before it actually does, or whether some person may truthfully and voluntarily answer such question with material and relevant personal knowledge even without the permission of the President.

Senate v. Ermita is the new gag rule to replace EO464 and Circular 108 that has made the Supreme Court, in effect, the Enforcer of Executive Privilege! The imposition of Judicial Review on whistle blowing is in fact a form of PRIOR RESTRAINT on freedom of speech and the Public's right to information about its own government. But the Judicial Activists of the Philippine Supreme Court have painted themselves into an entirely untenable corner with this, as has become from the instant case of Neri v. Senate, in which they are now engaged in a task that I am sure many of them realize they ought not to be undertaking at all!
I think it is the sacred right and duty of every citizen, even of government officials high and low, to divulge information that can amount to evidence about criminal wrong doing to the Congress. It degrades the Freedom of Speech of citizens for to Supreme Court to impose the necessity of judicial review upon their voluntary and honest exposure of waste, inefficiency, graft and corruption, just because they happen to be government employees who come into contact with "privileged information."

I believe that the Supreme Court deprives Filipinos in the Civil Service of the important right to WATCH OVER that government from within, and prevents them from doing their duty to blow the whistle against evil doing whenever they honestly perceive it to exist and are personally willingly to undertake the dangerous process of testifying to Congress and the Public about it.

Senate v. Ermita places the Supreme Court far above both Legislature and Executive in the matter of the validity and regularity of their exclusive prerogatives and ensures a perpetual state of gridlock between them that cannot efficiently or competently be broken by Judiciary already saddled with a MILLION CASE backlog.


Where do I get such strange ideas?

Whistleblower Protection: A Tale of Reform versus Power

Monday, March 24, 2008


Walt Whitman's supernal elegy to Abraham Lincoln is fitting now at a time when America seems ready to go to war with itself...again. I salute my fellow Americans, whose noble and dutiful blood purples the Two Rivers yet waters the flower of hope for liberty and peace throughout the world. No end but victory for our greatest principle: "One Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all." I offer with especial love to the fallen who will always be a part of this separate Archipelago, this first Iraq!

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd

The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

2010: The Second Coming of Church-Backed Fascist Dictatorship

How it feels like 1971!

MANUEL L. QUEZON III has been right all along about how PGMA cannot possibly step down peacefully and Constitutionally in 2010. He makes bloggers and writers proud! Today he turns in an admirable essay (The Interdiction of a Witness) in which he valiantly uses the Church's own teachings to criticize Ricardo Cardinal Pidal, err, Vidal, for last week's disingenuity on the matter of his relations with the Palace. All of course, in the proper exercise of the Freedom of Speech and Religion, in which the Catholic Church, truly the country's single largest and dominant political party of which Lakas and Kampi and all the others are mere factions. In 1971, when MLQ3 was only one year old, I too wrote a piece just like his brilliant essay. Mine also had the depth of feeling but not quite the erudition and eloquence of my good friend, as I was only eighteen then, and the essay was a mere editorial in The LaSallian, De La Salle University's radically anti-Marcos student newspaper, not the country's largest daily newspaper. But the gist of the attempt was the same: to make the pious priests feel guilty over violating their own teachings and Church Law. It was futile then, I'm sorry to tell Manolo, it is probably futile now. I also made a prediction then, that within a year Marcos would declare martial law and the Catholic Church would be one of his partners in that crime. Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was the object of my ire in 1971, just as Ricardo Cardinal Pidal is MLQ3's in 2008, would go on to spend a quarter of a century, (less two weeks in February 1986), as Marcos' main sanctifier and Imelda's pet ribbon cutter for her Edifice Complex. There is no doubt that "People Power" in 1986 was genuine and spontaneous, but by 2001, the Edsa crowd was just a prop for the judicial-military coup d'etat that would sweep Erap of the democratic stage and install the current clerico-fascist regime that Edsa Dos diehards must suffer until they wake up to its reality. Gud AM, Manolo!

It is because, in the earthly realm of politics, the clerics do not feel obliged to do what mere mortals urge as the right and just thing. I discussed the relevant democratic principle in There is no Right to the Truth under Freedom of Religion. In other words, don't expect to get "the Truth" from the Men who wear Funny Hats and claim all sorts of silly miraculous powers with a straight face, even as they feed at the Pagcor trough, accept envelopes full of money like Congressmen, swill food and drink wine, even as they claim to daily handle divine Flesh and Blood. The center of stye, the boil that ought be lanced is the entirely irregular, I would say immoral feeding at the Pagcor Trough that the Bishops have had to substitute for the lack of contributions from ordinary human beings and institutions. As such, they are captives of a political Mafia and addicts to the illegal drug of easy charity. Thus the hierarchy can get its hands on resources through Politics that it can no longer manage with mere Religion.

Then there is the truly ugly matter of how they are being blackmailed over personal, uhmm, delectations and indiscretions...but I cannot yet bear to be the destroyer of merely imperfect men, whom I do not believe deserve what they are about to get now from those in the know about their deepest, darkest secrets!

UPDATE: Please see Jego's correction of my recollections in the Comment Thread.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Barack Obama Tackles Racism--America's Equal Opportunity Mental Illness

Please read the text of the speech or better yet, watch the whole video of Sen. Barack Obama delivering an historic speech on race. Between the seemingly opposed but morally congruent positions of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the yip-yapping pup terrier, Michelle Malkin, there fortunately exists a much broader and thoughtful spectrum of commentary and reaction to it all over the Western world, especially Britain and the rest of Europe. I agree with Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, who called it "A Thinking Man's Speech"--

I thought Barack Obama's speech was strong, thoughtful and important. Rather beautifully, it was a speech to think to, not clap to. It was clear that's what he wanted, and this is rare.

It seemed to me as honest a speech as one in his position could give within the limits imposed by politics. As such it was a contribution. We'll see if it was a success. The blowhard guild, proud member since 2000, praised it, and, in the biggest compliment, cable news shows came out of the speech not with jokes or jaded insiderism, but with thought. They started talking, pundits left and right, black and white, about what they'd experienced of race in America. It was kind of wonderful. I thought, Go, America, go, go.

For me racism is an equal opportunity mental illness which afflicts people of all races in America. Barack Obama's speech represents a brave diagnosis of a social mental cancer that metastasized from the virus of slavery and discrimination and spread to every cell of the American body politic. As Filipino-Americans we are familiar with such widespread illnesses, how complex they are and how difficult to uproot and destroy.

What is remarkable is that all of these people in America including us, all of these issues that divide and unite and torture the American society and psyche, all of this history and experience are genetically imprinted in the person of Barack Obama.

Perhaps because of that RACE will become, NOT the issue to be avoided or ignored in 2008, but one of the deciding factors of who gets to be America's next president.

Who can rise above the issue the highest and lead America to redemption from its Original Sin? Who can inspire a divided nation to banish the disease that has been exposed at the steps of the temple, into the sanity of the kind of society that will one day unite all of humanity in Liberty and Justice and Prosperity for all?

As Abraham Lincoln once declared, "A house divide against itself cannot long endure...for either we shall all be slaves or we shall all be free."

How will John McCain and Hillary Clinton rise to this challenge. What do THEY have to say about RACE? Can they really afford to say nothing and thus LOSE to the Thinking Man?

IDEAS -- powerful memes -- have always been American's greatest contributions to the world. As Patty Noonan say, Go America, go, go!

There Is No Right to the Truth Under Freedom of Religion

THE CATHOLIC UMMA insists to this day, in catechisms and official teachings, that it is God's absolute and holy truth that they can literally, physically and miraculously convert bread and wine into divine Flesh and Blood by uttering a few magic words, genuflecting and rolling their eyes up to Heaven. And though they call crucifixions "unhealthy," I suspect they secretly abet such practices as a poke in the eye of modernity and common sense. Now, as I would defend with my very life, the Catholic Church's RIGHT to believe such plain and utter nonsense, I am in extremis over what to make of the Catholic Bishop's recent pronouncements about their dedication to the Truth and the search for it. They are after all, the most expert liars on the largest issues of reality. What is politics to them, or democracy, but some obstacle to their superior Truth?

I suppose some would say that the see-through skirts and funny hats they wear are supposed to signal Tongue-in-Cheek only faith, but such an interpretation is contrary to the Church's own dogmatic dicta about its miraculous powers exercised daily, which would be deemed heretical if not apostatic to regard as merely symbolic. No! Any Bishop worth his mitre would insist to you that transubstantiation is a physical power granted by Holy Orders! Ask any of 'em.

From my experience with little children making up profound excuses for their dereliction of duty in the loss of a favorite toy or article of clothing (and perfervid vows to look for it) the Catholic Bishops newfound dedication to searching for "the Truth" sounds more like an evasion of the Truth even if they already know exactly what it is.

Yet, they are surely mostly good men, if a touch deluded about certain things. It is to me impossible that they are acting out of pure evil or clerico-fascism (though that has always been a fatal attraction), impossible that they do not see the President's crimes and dishonesty, impossible they do not believe the testimony and the evidence piling up in the Senate about ZTE, Spratly and a dozen other major crimes of the president and her men. Many other impossibilities about them have been eliminated by logic and reason, therefore as Sherlock Holmes said, after you have eliminated the impossible in some mystery, what is left, no matter how improbable has got to be the Truth!

What is left, and it is not that improbable, is that like Romulo Neri himself, the Catholic Bishops have something about themselves that is so terrible and disgusting that they must hide behind a "continuing search for the Truth" even as they are being BLACKMAILED into complicity with a massive coverup.

So what is it? Sexual indiscretions and the fathering of children in confessionals? Homosexual orgies? Acceptance of gambling-stained Pagcor funds, rationalized into sanctity by the needs of charity? Paedophilia? What? Sherlock Holmes wants to know...
Former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, now a pundit at the Philippine Daily Innuendo, today writes "All I stand for is a determined and relentless pursuit of the Truth." What a laugh! As Cardinal Sin in Pope Davide's Church of Constitutional Dereliction of Duty, let me send him a funny hat and costume like Mike Velarde's, since they play the same role of hiding the Truth for the Catholic Umma. He proves himself the real Clerico-fascist when he abets "another People Power revolution" as long as it is done "peacefully."
Jack Nicholson was right: we can't handle the Truth! Perhaps, that is why even the Front Page must run to the mental oblivion of Marian apparitions to give propaganda aid to the Men in Funny Hats.

Democracy must tolerate these forces, even if they are among the greatest dangers to it. For only with such toleration can the Catholic and Christian and Muslim peoples themselves come to the conclusion, ultimately, that they do not need these imperial hierarchies full of hypocrites and pharisees in order to love and serve their fellow man.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Explaining Statistics With Roller Coasters

OR, What Mahar Mangahas and Ricky Carandang Don't Admit About the Poverty Statistics...

I do not consider RICKY CARANDANG or MAHAR MANGAHAS to be dishonest people. Indeed they are among the few in the Mass Media that I have any respect for, intellectually speaking. But during the last week both have made statements about poverty and hunger in the Philippines which simply do not square with the raw data as collected since 2000 by both the Social Weather Stations and the National Statistics Coordination Board.

Mahar knows better than to put out a disingenuous article with a headline like "Admitting that poverty can also rise" without inviting disdain from people like me, because as he well knows the natural statistical variations of his own data collection process and other real mechanisms produce data that naturally goes up AND down. But that doesn't mean we cannot discern an overall long term trend. In this case since 2000, there is no doubt that for both the NSCB and SWS data, the overall trend is DOWNWARD.

Ricky on the other hand, probably trusts SWS enough to just read Mahar's headline and thus feel justified in telling Nobel Laureate economist North last Thursday night on The Big Picture that (to paraphrase) despite the longest period of sustained economic growth, poverty is still increasing in the Philippines. False! Most other pundits and bloggers have followed suit without bothering to look at the raw data.

Now, I want to explain why they are confused with a very simple analogy.

Of course the measured level of poverty can rise in any given quarter (whether by examining official income/expense stats as NSCB does, or by SWS self-rated poverty and hunger surveys). But statisticians and scientists have always known that there are numerous factors that cause this which may have nothing to do with the "real level" of poverty incidence. There are many standard forms of TREND ANALYSES capable of smoothing out these variations and revealing the real overall trend.

You see it's just like a roller coaster on the way down. Along the way it goes up and down, but the trend is unmistakeable. In the case of poverty incidence in the Philippines, only the blindness of political correctness can account for those mistaken interpretations and misleading statements from two otherwise worthy commentators on the Philippine scene.

For the mathematically oriented, my trend lines on the data are POWER LAW approximations to fit the data. Email me to get my Excel files containing the data from NSCB and SWS.

Usama bin Laden Threatens Europe and Pope Benedict Over Danish Cartoons

You can listen to a reading of Benedict at Regensberg in this post.
Speaking in a newly released audio tape to "the intelligent ones" in Europe, Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden directly threatens the European Union with a "severe reckoning" over those cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands Postens. Publishing the cartoons "... came in the framework of a new Crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role," Vatican security officials are reportedly worried because of the Pope's numerous public appearances during the Christian Holy Week. Also in April, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit the United States (Homeland of the Infidels!). Filipinos will recall that in 1995 Al Qaeda plotted with the Iraqi intelligence agents Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Ramzi Youssef to kill Pope John Paul II. That plot was foiled when the two, posing as playboys and living it up in Manila's Red Light districts, burned their shawarma in the apartment across where the Pope would've stayed and Philippine intelligence discovered their entire operation including Bojinka, the precursor to 9/11. Here is an analysis and a transcript of the new audio tape:

May Our Mothers Be Bereaved Of Us
If We Fail To Help Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)
by Shaykh Usama bin Ladin
As-Sahab Production

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

To the intelligent ones in the European Union: Peace be upon he who follows the guidance.

This talk of mine is to you and concerns the insulting drawings and your negligence in spite of the opportunity presented to take the necessary measures to prevent their being repeated.

To begin, I tell you: Hostility between human beings is very old, but the intelligent ones among the nation in all eras have been keen to observe the etiquettes of dispute and morals of fighting. This is best for them, as conflict is ever changing and war has its ups and downs. However, you, in your conflict with us, have abandoned many of the morals of fighting in practice, even if you hold aloft its slogans in theory. How it saddens us that you target villages with your bombing: those modest mud villages which have collapsed onto our women and children. You do that intentionally, and I am witness to that. All of this (you do) without right and in conformity with your oppressive ally who – along with his aggressive policies - is about to depart the White House.

And it is no longer hidden from you that these savage acts haven’t ended the war, but rather, increase our determination to cling to our right, avenge our people and expel the invaders from our country. And (you also know now) that these massacres are never erased from the memory of the peoples, and the effect of this are not hidden. Although our tragedy in your killing of our women and children is a very great one, it paled when you went overboard in your unbelief and freed yourselves of the etiquettes of dispute and fighting and went to the extent of publishing these insulting drawings.

This is the greater and more serious tragedy, and reckoning for it will be more severe. And I bring your attention to a telling matter, which is that despite your publishing of the insulting drawings, you haven’t seen any reaction from the one and a half billion Muslims which includes an insult to the Prophet Allah, Jesus the son of Mary (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him). We believe in all of the Prophets (peace and prayers be upon them), and whoever detracts from or mocks any one of them is an apostate unbeliever.

And here it is worth pointing out that there is no need to use as an excuse the sacredness you accord freedom of expression and the sacredness of your laws and how you won’t change them. If so, then on what basis were American soldiers exempted from being subject to your laws on your land? And on what basis do you suppress the freedom of those who cast doubt on the statistics of an historical event?

In addition, you know that there is one man who can put an end to these drawings, if it mattered to him: the crownless king in Riydah, who ordered your legal institutions to stop their investigations into the embezzlement of billions from the al-Yamamah deal, and Blair carried this out, and he is today your representative in the quartet. To sum up, then, the laws of men which clash with the legislations of Allah the Most High are null and void, aren’t sacred, and don’t matter to us. And in addition, your practical stance towards the al-Yamamah deal requires you admit that there are some values which are greater than your values.

In closing I tell you: If there is no check on your freedom of words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions. And it is amazing to make light of others that you talk about tolerance and peace at a time when your soldiers perpetrate murder even against the weak and the oppressed in our countries. Then came your publishing of these drawings, which came in the framework of a new Crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role.

And all of that is confirmation on your part of the continuation of the war, as well as a testing of the Muslims in their religion: is the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) more beloved to them than themselves and their wealth? The answer is what you see, not what you hear, and may our mothers be bereaved of us if we fail to help the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). And peace be upon he who follows the guidance.

If anyone doubts the claim of President George W. Bush that this enemy hates us for our freedoms, those doubts are once more rigorously dispelled by Shayk Scumbag's demand for Civilization to get rid of Freedom of Expression and submit to his murderous Caliphate. And when he accuses us of murdering Muslims, let there be no doubt who in Iraq and Afghanistan kill Muslims at a rate of 100 to 1 over Coalition Forces: it's Al Qaeda of the Two Rivers and their insurgent allies.

Pope Benedict XVI had OBL's number at Regensberg in this Lecture delivered in 2006 (read by DJB Rizalist):
Pope Benedict XVI at Regensberg:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic

My father loved this prayer.
His name was Israel.
My mother loved this prayer.
Her name was Teresita.
They loved me.
That is why,
I love you all...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, 90 Orbits Around the Sun

Wired Science has this sad news about the passing of a great visionary writer of the 20th and 21st Centuries. His "Last Message to Earth" is on YouTube.

I just hope he takes this, my fond farewell in the right way: "Sir Arthur, you made Science my Religion." Or as Jose Rizal once wrote, Sic itur ad astra!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spratlys Issue: Now Nationalists Defend the Treaty of Paris of 1898

THE TREATY OF PARIS OF 1898 ended the Spanish American War. For twenty million dollars Spain sold to the the United States of America its territories and colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Today, even the most rabid anti- Western imperialists are forced to defend it against China which claims everything in the South China Pond-- not only the Spratly ("Nansha") Islands, but even a place they call the Isle of Gold: "Son Lu."

A line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45']) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4 [degree symbol] 45') north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35') east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119 [degree symbol] 35') east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40') north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7 [degree symbol] 40') north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.
It is obvious from the above map and distance legend that a good bit of the Spratley Islands is well within the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone recommended by the United Nations Law of the Sea for Archipelagic nations. ABSCBN News carries Newsbreak Magazine's three part series by Miriam Grace Go on this subject, A Policy of Betrayal: Parts One, Two and Three with lots of links to pertinent documents.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wasn't One Crucifixion Enough?

[PALM SUNDAY...This is a reprint of Philippine Commentary from Good Friday a few years ago... though the subject seems timeless...]
JESUS CHRIST was crucified many times all over the Philippine Archipelago today. The ultimate in Good Friday reality shows is to be found in places like Barangay Cutud, a depressed little barrio on the outskirts of San Fernando City, in Pampanga, the home province of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Here the re-enactment of the passion and crucifixion of Jesus Christ are taken to literal extremes and come complete with a local troupe of flagellants and multiple live crucifixions. These events are avidly covered by the European, American and Asian press for reliably sensational Easter weekend front page photos. Twice I've taken video footage and digital photos of Good Friday at Bgy Cutud, the first time in 1997, when a Belgian Nun, was crucified at Cutud's Golgotha, along with nine men, and again in 2004, when most of the photos in this post were taken. [CLICK ON ALL IMAGES TO VIEW THEM FULL SIZE]

The Programme of Events at Barangay Cutud goes like this. At dawn the chanting of the Pabasa, or reading of Biblical Passion passages greets the group of men who've chosen to participate as flagellants, who gather at an empty lot near the small Catholic Church. They are passing around familiar bottles of San Miguel gin -- (the stuff that can make you blind, called gin bulag). Their heads and faces are covered with leaves and kerchiefs to hide their true identity, though of course all the locals know who they are, especially the shy but admiring barrio lasses). The flagellants form two lines, as the barrio captain breaks a bottle on a nearby stone wall, and picking the larger shards with scythe-like edges, carefully cuts fine, shallow lines on the backs and shoulders of the men, which immediately turn a bright crimson from freely bleeding capillaries. Each flagellant carries with him a whip with wooden staves that he applies on himself with blood-splattering strokes and convincing sounds of hard matter encountering raw human flesh. Onlookers are invited to deliver their own punishing blows on the men, who will lie prostrate on the dusty streets of Cutud and demand a lashing from the many curiosity seekers and tourist on-lookers. Such encounters are often recorded by usually incredulous foreign first-timers. Throughout the morning, as the sun mounts to its zenith at noon, the crowd at Golgotha views the three crosses that will be used by up to twenty persons to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Their arrival is signalled by the most improbable sight -- a Roman centurion bearing a long spear and riding a tall white stallion with Roman cavalry headgear for the horse. But one after another, properly attired and with studied poses, the crucifixions are mounted, with time on the Cross limited to about 15 minutes per person (so as to be finished by 3:00 pm). These self-flagellations and live crucifixions are an impressive display when viewed from a distance. However, though only one Person in History has ever reputedly survived a crucifixion, none have so far succumbed to the fatal loss of blood and asphyxiation that usually accompanies a crucifixion among Barangay Cutud's penitents. There are two outstanding reasons why these Philippine crucifixions are more dramatic theatre than anything else. First, no one is actually hanging from the cross on nails, as all have a nice little horizontal foot platform to stand on, as shown. Likewise, there is the business of the nails themselves, which I like to describe as photogenic nails, designed and deployed for front page photographs -- they have very large heads, but look at the size of the piercing shaft. Doubtless, it is still an ordeal, though nothing like what the ancient Romans could do to a recalcitrant, rebellious Jew.

On top of this lil bit of fakery, Philippine crucifixion events have become tourist spectacles, attended by both locals and foreigners for their ability to fill up the usually dead hours of Holy Week, when everything shuts down and the populace is on vacation somewhere like Boracay or California. Here we have three Mary Magdalenas, complete with bloody imprints of Jesus' visage, (probably Manileños on a Good Friday visit to Calvary in Pampanga.) As with Christmas, crass commercialization has taken over even the most sombre of Christian holy days. The little burg of Cutud gets a tidy income from the large influx of ogglers and curiosity seekers.

Why does the Roman Catholic Church tolerate these sadomasochistic exploitations of the Passion? Although the institutional Church itself does not participate in, condone or encourage these Lenten week practices, neither does she speak out against them or issue Pastoral Letters condemning the idolatrous mockeries that commercializing Christ's passion and death seem to represent.

Perhaps because these exotic and extreme acts are not at all limited to the peasants of Barrio Cutud, but find analogous practices among the elite, the creme de la creme of Catolico cerrado Philippine society, such as the "Christianist" Opus Dei and its rather, uhmm bizarre articles of personal clothing and accessory. ABSCBN's Ricky Carandang and Pia Hontiveros have a special on the Da Vinci Code and they got to talk to a number of priests and laymen, including Father Michaelangelo Cardenas of the Opus Dei Theological Center at the University of Asia and Pacific. Fr. Cardenas, apparently along with many senior members of Opus Dei, wears a CILICE (pronounced SILL-iss) described by Wikipedia as follows (with a picture) --
In more recent times the word has come to refer to a spiked metal belt or chain worn strapped tight around the upper thigh. This practice has existed in various parts of the Roman Catholic Church, but has become associated in the twentieth century with the Catholic personal prelature known as Opus Dei...The use of the cilice on the upper thigh is a prominent signature trait of Silas, a fictional member of Opus Dei, and one of the lead antagonists in Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.
SPECULATION: But I think the institutional hierarchy tolerate these mock crucifixions and self-flagellations because as acts of literal, physical imitation of events at the very origin of Christianity, they do proclaim an unquestioning fealty and submission to the Faith (or the Work, as the case may be) and an affirmation of its core narratives about those events. Moreover, I don't think that the Republic as such, has ever enjoyed any equivalent fanatical demonstration of loyalty and devotion to its national legends and myths as spectacular and world-renowned as our crucifixions and self-punishments at Lent (and at other times!) Maybe some Catholic Church leaders find this flattering, or comforting, in an odd sort of way.

CHRISTIANISTS AND ISLAMISTS: Andrew Sullivan produces a lethal neologism, after taking off on an incandescent article by Garry Willis (History Professor emeritus, Northwestern University and author of What Jesus Meant), entitled, Christ Among the Partisans, a passionate defense of why the Catholic Church should stand above mere politics (and fight for what I have called eternal principles --
Some people want to display and honor the Ten Commandments as a political commitment enjoined by the religion of Jesus. That very act is a violation of the First and Second Commandments. By erecting a false religion — imposing a reign of Jesus in this order — they are worshiping a false god. They commit idolatry. They also take the Lord's name in vain.

Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we took up the slogan "What would Jesus do?"

That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call him "Satan." He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts.

And I haven't even touched on the idolatry of the Filipinos in public life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Pound of Flesh Argument Against Habeas Data

The Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCORP) has just issued its first two Writs of Habeas Data based on the Rule of Court it promulgated just a month ago:

SECTION 1. Habeas Data.—The writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.
Is the Right to Privacy in Life, Liberty and Security a substantive new democratic right? The Brazilians, Colombians, Mexicans, Argentines, Peruvians, Guatemalans and others certainly seem to think so as Chief Justice Reynato Puno readily admits in a recent speech since in those and other Latin American countries AMPARO and HABEAS DATA are full Constitutional Rights popularly ratified at plebiscite. Not mere Rules of Court, one might observe!

As a judicial remedy available to any person or his blood relatives and in-laws to the 4th degree, it is plain that the Writ of Habeas Data seeks to protect from violation or threat by the acts of commission or omission of any public or private entity -- a certain right -- the right to privacy in life, liberty or security.

Honestly speaking I'd never heard of this particular formulation before. Where might it have come from? From the looks of it, SCORP pieced this right together from several components of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular:

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

SCORP's Rule on the Writ of habeas data evidently establishes a substantial new right which is a mashup of these two articles of the 1948 UN Declaration. Two new substantive rights for the price of one writ!

Then of course there is this Fly in the Ointment, which empowers the Court to make Rules:
1987 Constitution Art VIII Sec. 5(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.
Some people have even said that a culpable violation of the 1987 Constitution evidently attends the establishment by SCORP of habeas data and amparo. Here is what the SCORP has done with habeas data.
SEC. 16. Judgment.—The court shall render judgment within ten (10) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision. If the allegations in the petition are proven by substantial evidence, the court shall enjoin the act complained of, or order the deletion, destruction, or rectification of the erroneous data or information and grant other relevant reliefs as may be just and equitable; otherwise, the privilege of the writ shall be denied. Upon its finality, the judgment shall be enforced by the sheriff or any lawful officer as may be designated by the court, justice or judge within five (5) work days.
Speedy Justice is promised by a Court with a million case backlog overall and that is still sitting on thirty year old Marcos-era cases. Ten (10) days to decide upon the "deletion, destruction or rectification of erroneous data or information" in some public or private data base (Military, Press, Academe, Corporate, NGO, Government data bases, for example)? Five days for the sheriff to carry it out??

But I also have a metaphysical objection to habeas data. Like pure energy, data and information cannot really be destroyed -- only transmuted or transformed. My proof of this is the very next provision in the SCORP's habeas data Rule in which the Sheriff who has just deleted, destroyed or rectified some erroneous data or information must make a compleat return of service--
SEC. 17. Return of Service.—The officer who executed the final judgment shall, within three (3) days from its enforcement, make a verified return to the court. The return shall contain a full statement of the proceedings under the writ and a complete inventory of the database or information, or documents and articles inspected, updated, rectified, or deleted, with copies served on the petitioner and the respondent. The officer shall state in the return how the judgment was enforced and complied with by the respondent, as well as all objections of the parties regarding the manner and regularity of the service of the writ.
Above provision makes starkly clear what the BIG problem is with habeas data. In any public or private data base, the ERRONEOUS information about Petition Bill Luz for example, is inextricably MIXED IN with perhaps CORRECT information about him, or information that cannot be adjudged to be "right" or "wrong" because it may be in the nature of opinion or artistic and journalistic expression Indeed all information about him cannot be separated from all information NOT about him without looking at a complete inventory of the database or information, to which Mr. Luz, the Sheriff and the Supreme Court cannot conceivably have any right to inspect.

In a box of marbles of many colors, you cannot remove just the RED ones for example without looking at the blue, white and yellow one too. But I cannot do better than William Shakespeare who had Portia explain the same thing to the Supreme Court of the Duke of Venice and to Shylock in the Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene 1):

A pound of that same merchant's flesh is thine:
The court awards it, and the law doth give it.

Most rightful judge!

And you must cut this flesh from off his breast:
The law allows it, and the court awards it.

Most learned judge! A sentence! Come, prepare!

Tarry a little; there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are 'a pound of flesh:'
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.
How DO you cut a pound of flesh out without getting any of the blood?

The High Court is trying to solve the very real problem of human rights violations in the Philippines but utilizing certain strange and dubious ideas that are not strictly speaking, within the competence of the Court to judge because they are not strictly legal ideas, but deeply scientific and mathematical ideas concerning the nature of digitized network information.

Approached purely from the common sense understanding of the Internet, we may well ask whether or not the Philippine Judiciary is metaphysically capable of ordering or effectively causing the full disclosure, truthful evaluation, correction, suppression or destruction of data about private persons based the petitioner's say-so ("self-determination")?

Because if the answer is NO, then the whole structure of the Writ of Habeas Data is built on logical quicksand.

I am sorry to say that my opinion is hardening about habeas data. It is based on the entirely dangerous notion that DATA CAN BE DESTROYED. It cannot! Not once it reaches the Global Public Domain called the Internet.

Hypothesis: Once a quantum of information is digitized and therefore created in the global public domain of the Internet, it cannot be destroyed without destroying the entire network.

This point of view comes from Information Science and not the Law, but it imposes logical and physical limits on things like the Writ of habeas data. And makes them possibly inutile, if not deluded.

Taken to its logical conclusion, habeas data imposed on societies will run afoul of Freedom of Speech. Because in point of fact, we do not OWN the data about US. It belongs to no one and it belongs to everyone. It is ineradicable by, and impervious to the Writ of habeas data!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Exploring for Oil Starts With Sounding for Oil, Not Drilling for Oil

There is a very simple reason why the whole process of oil exploration does not begin with drilling for oil but rather with sounding for oil. Drilling an undersea oil well is an expensive and tricky operation and is only done after exhaustive seismic and geological studies have pinpointed the most likely sites where test holes can be drilled to find out for sure. Exploring for oil always begins with seismic studies of the submarine, subterranean geology. Using computer-based data acquisition systems and sophisticated image reconstruction algorithms and pattern recognition systems, geologists (like Eduardo Manalac!) can make highly detailed pictures of the undersea, underground geology of an area and then to identify the most likely place to then begin test drilling to find out for sure.

So much for the Palace's claim that the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the disputed area of the Spratly Islands, between China, Philippines and Vietnam was not yet oil exploration, but only "pre-exploration."

Ricky Carandang (ABSCBN News) reports that the Chinese signatories to the Spratley deal in 2005 certainly called it exploration! He points readers of his blog to two articles in the Chinese press pertinent to the Spratly controversy, and a posting on the website of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Co.

China Daily August 28, 2005
China, Philippines Vietnam begin research in the South China Sea
The COS won the two-dimensional seismic exploration project in the bidding jointly organized by the national oil companies of China, the Philippines and Vietnam during Aug. 8-12, for its excellent market analysis and bidding strategy, the company said.
China Daily November 17, 2005
First phase of joint marine survey complete
"Since the beginning of the joint undertaking, the three governments of China, the Philippines and Viet Nam have given great support to three state-owned oil companies in the exploration partnership, and the project has proceeded smoothly," CNOOC said in a statement.
Well so much for the claim that the President did not authorize EXPLORATION contrary to the following 1987 provision on the National Patrimony:

The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.

The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution.

President Arroyo apparently never informed Congress of the exploration activity she had authorized through Eduardo Manalac and the Philippine National Oil Co.

People's Daily (via Helmholz) November 20, 2005
Next, here is a report on the celebration ceremony held in a Batangas port on the Chinese "exploration ship" [Nanhai 502]. EDUARDO MANALAC is quoted in this People's Daily article which also mentions the fact that a Chinese firm, China Oilfield Services conducted the seismic data acquisition after winning in a "competitive bidding," whilst a Vietnamese firm got the data processing and the Filipinos got the "data interpretation" contract.
China, Philippines and Vietnam conclude seismic data acquisition of South China Sea (People’s Daily, 2005-11-20)

With a Chinese exploration ship docked in Batangas, the Philippines, energy companies of China, the Philippines and Vietnam on Saturday celebrated the completion of seismic data acquisition in the South China Sea, witnessing the first milestone of international joint efforts to uncover energy resources in the region.

The seismic data acquisition, an initial work to detect geological structures of the seabed in one part of the South China Sea, was conducted by China Oilfield Services Limited (COSL) with its exploration ship codenamed Nanhai 502.

The ship accomplished the mission on Nov. 16, within only 75 days after it started the journey from Guangdong province of China, Li Xunke, vice-president of COSL told Xinhua. "Our process has been much faster than the given period of eight months," Li added.

There were 11,000 kilometers of sensor cable deployed on the seabed in this mission, covering an area of around 140,000 square kilometers, Li said, the data were collected smoothly and are ready to be processed and analyzed.

"Mutual respect and trust between the three countries guaranteed the milestone development of joint exploration in the South China Sea," said Zhu Weilin, vice- president of China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the parent company of COSL.

The CNOOC is confident for the future cooperation with its Philippine and Vietnamese counterparts, hoping to bring peace and prosperity to the South China Sea, Zhu noted in his speech at the ceremony held on a dock at PNOC energy supply base in Batangas, 130 kilometers south to Manila.

Political tensions surrounding the South China Sea in the 1990s were history, said Eduardo Manalac, president of Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) Exploration Corporation, adding that the current arrangement concerning the energy resources in the region is a win-win deal, which is a good solution to different opinions among "our Asian brothers in one family."

Meanwhile, PNOC expressed its expectation that the data collected by Nanhai 502 will be highly reliable. Manalac said the three governments' commitment to establish one team among China, the Philippines and Vietnam proved to be very successful and that open communication and discussion were seen in every stage of the joint efforts.

PetroVietnam, the Vietnamese partner in the joint exploration responsible for processing the collected data, also sent a written congratulation message to the CNOOC and PNOC at the ceremony.

The crew members onboard Nanhai 502 were praised and congratulated by the representatives from CNOOC, PNOC and PetroVietnam. Good-will toasts were everywhere during the ceremony. CNOOC, PNOC and PetroVietnam signed an agreement in March to conduct seismic work programs in part of their politically disputed area of the South China Sea, setting off explosions to monitor the shock waves to uncover data of possible oil and gas reserves. COSL won the contract for data acquisition with a competitive bid in August, thereafter Vietnamese and Philippine companies got the contracts for data processing and interpretation respectively. All three stages of the cooperation are subject to mutual supervision and consultation, according to the joint agreement.

The Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China was signed during Philippine President Arroyo's visit to China in 2004. The agreement provides for a framework for conducting cooperative research by PNOC and CNOOC in certain areas in the South China Sea. Vietnam also became a party of the joint mechanism later on.
I think the most intriguing factual mystery now would be: what exactly were the results of the seismic "study" -- what with the price of a barrel of oil at all time record highs. Since the Philippines reportedly performed the "data interpretation" what did all that 2D and 3D seismic profiling of the undersea bed beneath the Spratlys reveal?

Is there oil or gas in the Spratlys?

And what is a high level Chinese Communist Party delegation doing in Manila? Investigating charges of corruption against one of its largest telecommunications companies (ZTE)? Coordinating with Malacanang Palace to contain what could become an international cause celebre?

References: The primary documents involving the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking have been uploaded to the US Internet Archive for safekeeping in the public domain.

to a swift text response from Ricky Carandang I can point several emailers to the authoritative answer to your question Who was the Filipino Explorer who "discovered" Kalayaan Islands group in 1956. Admiral Tomas Cloma