Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Praise of Chip Tsao

I don't see why my good friend Manolo Quezon should find himself apologizing to Reyna Elena for correctly appreciating the literary and journalistic nature of Chip Tsao to begin with  The recent satirical piece on the Spratley Islands brouhaha between China and the Philippines by Chip Tsao in his Politically Incorrect column for Hong Kong Magazine, has "sparked outrage" according to one broadsheet's headline in part for labelling the Filipinos "a nation of servants."  

Manolo also points to Ms. Connie Veneracion's "lack of affection" for Mr. Chip Tsao:
The Spratly article is not the first time he’s taken a swipe at Filipino women either — see this.  Now, I don’t like dignifying bad taste with indignation. Writings like his probably generate enough controversy to sell newspapers and books, it ain’t my style but I don’t have to do what so many others have done in similar cases (Malu Fernandez, Desperate Housewives and Henry Enfield). My interest in Chip Tsao, his style and his article is to point out that low class and tacky journalism is not peculiar to the Philippines. It’s everywhere.
This got me really curious about what the hubbub is all about with Chip Tsao.  So I followed Connie's link. I'm glad I did.  Here is an excerpt from the piece in which Connie Veneracion says that Chip Tsao takes a swipe at Filipina women, from last October, which is actually about the very serious melamine contamination crisis in Chinese milk products last year.  
Inspired by the poisoned milk powder scandal, a friend of mine is planning to import a wet nurse from the Philippines. His wife has just given birth to a baby, and he is, most justifiably, extremely worried about anything made in China...But why from the Philippines? Why not recruit a wet nurse from China? I asked my friend who until recently had whole-heartedly loved his motherland. “No,” he explained, “How can you be sure that a Chinese wet nurse is not going to be fake, with something like a Bangkok ladyboy-style plastic bag filled with artificial milk made from poisoned powder?”

So allowing Hong Kong families to import Filipina wet nurses would be an innovation. And not only for babies. What else would be as impressive as a status symbol than when you are visiting a billionaire for lunch and you and dozens of other refined guests are offered a glass of fresh milk to toast everybody’s health, instead of a glass of Chateau Rotschild Lafitte? You would be told that the troop of in-house wet nurses all hail from remote villages in Luzon or Mindanao, instead of the polluted city of Manila, transported to Hong Kong only minutes after they gave birth to their babies, jetfresh, to guarantee the best vintage. So, loosen whatever restrictions and bring them in, Sir Donald—just a thought for your policy speech as I look forward to the milk-tasting party hosted by my friend, whom I warned it would be better for legal reasons, if his wife, the madam—instead of himself, the sir—supervises the job on the spot.
Politically incorrect indeed, figuratively speaking, and full of delicious innuendo,  but I think Mr. Chip Tsao is a Master at the genre called Tongue-in-Cheek, or in this case Lips-on-Teats, as he manages to make a pointed criticism of China's food safety policies whilst delivering fulsome praise for the purity and reliability of Filipino Nurse Maid Service.

I am linking to Chip Tsao's Politically Incorrect at Philippine Commentary.  He's a an entertaining read...

Abu Sayyaf Deadline On ICRC Workers Passes

A 2 pm (GMT+8) deadline set by the Abu Sayyaf Group of Al Bader Parad has just passed after last minute appeals from Pope Benedict XVI, the International Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger, and Senator Dick Gordon of the Philippine  National Red Cross, for the lives of three abducted ICRC workers, Swiss Andreas Notter, Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Hostages Released, ASG Demands Total Pullout

After hundreds of govt troops were pulled out of Abu Sayyaf "territory" in the hopes of saving one or more of the hostages from death-by-beheading, the ASG's Albader Parad has rejected the "partial pullout" and has not released any hostages. Going by the grim and gruesome record of Al Bader Parad, the likelihood is strong he will carry out his threat to behead one or more of the three kidnapped International Red Cross workers by Monday. (That's tomorrow as I write this post.) Unless that is, the government abandons the entire island of Jolo in Sulu province, headed by the hapless Gov. Abdusakur Tan, who has been reduced to being the emissary of Mr. Parad's merrie band of decapitating extortionists. Well now if President Arroyo and Secretary Puno give in to that demand, we shall be forced to apply the Human Security Act against them -- for being terrorist accomplices and accessories.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Please Pass Until Angela Stuart Santiago Gets It

grim appeal has been made by the International Committee of the Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger to the Abu Sayyaf Group of Al Bader Parad as a March 30 deadline approaches in the two month old terrorist kidnapping crisis that once more holds the Filipinos hostage...
Manila / Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is appealing to the Abu Sayyaf Group, which is holding Mary Jean Lacaba, Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter in the southern Philippines, to ensure that the three remain unharmed and to let them go immediately.

The appeal is in response to threats made by the abductors that they will kill one of the ICRC employees on 30 March if their demand for a pull back of troops goes unmet.

"I am very concerned by the threats of the kidnappers," said the ICRC's president, Jakob Kellenberger. "I am asking for their safe, unconditional and immediate release."

"The sole purpose of Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas' work is to give help to those in need. It is impossible to understand what the kidnappers could possibly achieve by hurting them. Harming a humanitarian aid worker cannot be justified under any ideology or religious law."

Since the abduction on 15 January, the ICRC and the Philippine National Red Cross have been working vigorously to resolve this ordeal. On 27 March, Mr Kellenberger spoke with Philippine Executive Secretary, Eduardo Ermita, the country's second-highest ranking official, and asked him to ensure that the authorities do everything in their power to save the lives of the hostages, while avoiding any action that could put the ICRC staff at risk.

"The ICRC's priority is that Mary Jean, Eugenio and Andreas remain safe and that they be able to return to their families, who miss them desperately. Their children, parents, siblings, spouses, friends and colleagues will not give up hope of seeing them again soon," added Mr Kellenberger.

Please pass this post on until some utterly deluded and misguided folks, like Angela Stuart Santiago should receive it and have their eyes opened to the terrible evils and injustice they are abetting, defending, rationalizing, even glorifying.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Keeper From Baycas

Below follows a comment from contributor Baycas on the Filipino Voices post The Presumption of Innocence: which deserves archiving and prominence here at Philippine Commentary:
This will certainly go in your favor (and JCC's too). I am sick and not busy at the moment…my legal department, aka Google, was able to come up with the solution to my puzzle (based on your perspective):

Presumption of innocence – continued
Conviction – ?
Sentence – stayed (during pendency of appeal)
Appellant – confined
Outcome of trial – being reviewed

It was spelled out in Mangubat vs Sandiganbayan G.R. No. L-60613-20 August 29, 1986:

…it cannot be said that said Court acted with grave abuse of discretion, correctible by certiorari, in ruling that despite her convictions, "Preagido has still in her favor the constitutional presumption of innocence ... (and until) a promulgation of final conviction is made, this constitutional mandate prevails."

This ruling was reverberated here…

A.M. No. 06-9-545-RTC, January 31, 2008 penned by J. Nachura:

We agree with respondent's argument that since her conviction of the crime of child abuse is currently on appeal before the CA, the same has not yet attained finality. As such, she still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence. It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, proves the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until the accused's guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence continues.
And, recently, here (as you’ve mentioned the Jalosjos case)…


The Court in Jalosjos did not mention that the presumption of innocence no longer operates in favor of the accused pending the review on appeal of the judgment of conviction. The rule stands that until a promulgation of final conviction is made, the constitutional mandate of presumption of innocence prevails.
In effect, you are right and I can now fill in the blank:

Presumption of innocence – continued
Sentence – stayed (during pendency of appeal)
Appellant – confined
Outcome of trial – being reviewed

Monday, March 23, 2009

Arithmetic Problem with the Party List System

I will be guesting on The Explainer With Manolo Quezon on Tuesday, 24 March to discuss proposed legislation to increase the maximum membership of the House of Representatives to 350 from the present 250. This increase has become necessary because of population growth and the fact that there are already 220 district representatives in Congress, and 31 party list representatives according to Senate Bill 3123.

But I think there is a problem. (There is always a problem!)

It has to do with the 1987 Constitutional provision that allocates 20 percent of the maximum House Membership (or 50 seats out of the present 250) to the Party List System with its enabling law RA 7941. The latter states that party list organizations getting at least 2% of the vote win a seat in Congress, two seats at 4%, up to a maximum of three seats at 6% or more. Under the present maximum of 250 House seats, it is mathematically possible to have 50 party list representatives in Congress, if for example 50 separate party list organizations garner <b>exactly</b> 2% of the party list votes each -- an outcome whose improbability of actually occurring is astronomical. But it gets worse. If the House membership is increased to 350, then there will be up to 70 House seats available to the party list system. But RA 7941 will have to be amended to accomodate them in a manner to which I must strenuously object: Congress will have to LOWER the threshold of admission to 1.42857 percent (100 divided by 70) percent thus allowing even less popular and/or deserving party list organizations to get into Congress. If the House Membership is set at 500 max, one only needs 1% of the votes to get in!

I would appreciate being shown any flaws in my logic or conclusions by Philippine Commentary readers.

The 1987 Constitution provides in Legislature Art. VI

Section 5. (1) The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.

(2) The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.
RA 7941 The Party List Law reads ...

Section 11. Number of Party-List Representatives. The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list.

For purposes of the May 1998 elections, the first five (5) major political parties on the basis of party representation in the House of Representatives at the start of the Tenth Congress of the Philippines shall not be entitled to participate in the party-list system. In determining the allocation of seats for the second vote, the following procedure shall be observed:

(a) The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.

(b) The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: Provided, That those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes : Provided, finally, That each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.

Section 12.
Procedure in Allocating Seats for Party-List Representatives. The COMELEC shall tally all the votes for the parties, organizations, or coalitions on a nationwide basis, rank them according to the number of votes received and allocate party-list representatives proportionately according to the percentage of votes obtained by each party, organization, or coalition as against the total nationwide votes cast for the party-list system.

My interpretation of these provisions is that every party list seat in Congress requires at least 2% of the total number of votes cast for a party list candidate. This means that there is an ARITHMETIC MAXIMUM of 50 seats that can be won, with up to three seats going to any one party list organization. That this is also equal to the CONSTITUTIONAL MAXIMUM of 50 seats (20% of 250) is well and good. But if the maximum number of House seats become 350, the Constitution would allocate up to 70 seats to the party lists. However, I cannot imagine any scenario under which that number of 70 seats could be filled without changing the 2% minimum percentage threshold for each such seat. The 2% threshold does not allow more than 50 party list representatives to be seated in Congress. It will have to be revised downward to 100/70 or about 1.42857%.

The party-list system is another example of the folly of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, which truly is a knee-thigh-leg-toe-jerk reaction to martial law with hideous ambiguities and such Rule of the Minority provisions as one-third to impeach the President and other Constitutional officers, and now this built in degradation imposed by a fixed percentage allocated to the party lists (20% of the House set in the Constitution) with the allocation procedure left to enabling laws.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Right To Privacy In Rape Cases

For those who've been following closely the Subic Bay Rape Case, please read this excerpt from Republic Act 8505, which was mentioned tonight on ABSCBN's Media In Focus tv show with Cheche Lazaro by the lawyers Evalyn Ursua and Katrina Legarda:
Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998.

Section 5. Protective Measures. - At any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of a complaint for rape, the police officer, the prosecutor, the court and its officers, as well as the parties to the complaint shall recognize the right to privacy of the offended party and the accused. Towards this end, the police officer, prosecutor, or the court to whom the complaint has been referred may, whenever necessary to ensure fair and impartial proceedings, and after considering all circumstances for the best interest of the parties, order a closed-door investigation, prosecution or trial and that the name and personal circumstances of the offended party and/or the accused, or any other information tending to establish their identities, and such circumstances or information on the complaint shall not be disclosed to the public.
Most disingenuously and dishonestly neither of the two Lady Lawyers bothered to mention this entirely fair and reasonable parity of rights to privacy of BOTH the "offended party" and of the "accused."

Imagine indeed that Party A is accused of raping Party B. Until trial and appeals processes are exhausted we, the public, cannot really presume to know whether the accused is guilty or not, nor whether the accuser is telling the truth or not. Therefore it only stands to reason and the essential sense of fairness that the privacy of BOTH parties out to be kept out of the public domain.

RA 8505 explicitly demands it as the solemn duty and responsibility of "the police officer, the prosecutor, the court and its officers, as well as the parties to the complaints".

The outrageous thing about Ursua's and Legarda's statements that were broadcast tonight was their accusation against the Philippine Daily Inquirer (and "anyone else who published the full real name and pictures of Nicole") -- that they had criminally violated this law, RA 8505 and three other similar laws, in their March 18 report on the recantation affidavit of Nicole. Yet is it not crystal clear that the principal obligation to maintain privacy of BOTH parties actually rests on the Courts and on the lawyers??

Is it not also crystal clear that the first persons to violate this law included Judge Benjamin Pozon of the Makati Regional Trial Court when the name of Nicole was broadcast on radio? Finally, is not the SCoRP itself guilty of violating such privacy in their recent 9-6 decision ruling on the challenge to the VFA's constitutionality in GR 175888?

I think Evalyn Ursua and Katrina Legarda should be disbarred for intellectual dishonesty and lying on television.

Pope Benedict Condemns Millions to Die of HIV/AIDs

This post is NOT about the existence of God, but the existence of Evil.

God, if you are there, please save Africa and the rest of the world from annihilation at the hands of Your hard-hearted Pope!

In his first public statement on HIV/AIDS and contraception since taking office, Pope Benedict XVI recently told African bishops that "The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only fail-safe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids." The Pope categorically rejected the use of condoms, even to prevent infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, because he says they contribute to a "breakdown in sexual morality".
"Even amid the greatest suffering, the Christian message always brings hope," the pope said.

But with U.N. estimates of 10% or 90 million people in Africa becoming infected with the deadly virus by 2025, unless a massive prevention and education program is undertaken, Africa cannot hope to prevent a total breakdown of African societies as limited resources are stretched to the limit by the epidemic, and break.

Instead of seeing this looming catastrophe, the Roman Pontiff has hardened his dogmatic heart and has instead been busy rationalizing the excommunication of schismatic Holocaust-denying Catholic Bishops. I was afraid that Cardinal Ratzinger, former head of the Roman Curia, would turn out like this as Pope. Despite acknowledging the worldwide furor over his decision, Benedict did not apologize or reverse the reinstatement of rabidly and openly anti-Semitic, even Neo-Nazi-like bishops.

Benedict also gives encouragement and support for the reactionary Philippine Catholic Church's own insane stand on reproductive health measures, contraception and life-saving pieces of latex.

Is there any doubt that the virus of dogmatic religion is the most lethal brain infection ever created by Man?

This post is NOT about the existence of God, but the existence of Evil. In Rome.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nicole Flees To America, Fires Activist Lawyer Ursua

ABSCBN News reports on this not unexpected, not unpredicted development. She has left the Philippines saying she could get no Justice here, has fired her grandstanding, ideologically motivated nut-case of a lawyer, Evalyn Ursua, who got her walking papers from Nicole's Mother. Well no wonder. Neither mother nor daughter nor any decent person, even after having gone through such an ordeal, wants to become the Permanent Battering Ram of the CPP-NPA_NDF Lynch Mob against "U.S. Imperialism". I would have none of a legal strategy either that involves the abrogation of a half century old Mutual Defense Treaty and its implementing agreements like the Visiting Forces Agreement. Note that Nicole went to America, not North Korea or Utrecht. Get a real lawyer who won't make radical politics her agenda, Nicole. Justice must still be done! The full news article follows...

But Where Is The Apology To Jose Rizal?

In March, 2000 the "good Pope" John Paul II sincerely and passionately apologized for over a hundred sins committed in the name of the Catholic Church throughout the ages, including:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Science is "Queerer than we can suppose"

As part of our continuing celebration of the Darwin Bicentennial here at Philippine Commentary, here is Richard Dawkins "jaw-dropping" talk at the TED conference.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Catholic Church Takes On Richard Dawkins

Saying that Evolution does not prove the non-existence of God  the Holy Roman Catholic Church has rejected the position of Richard Dawkins, Oxford University Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, during a five day conference allegedly commemorating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.  Well,  Richard Dawkins will surely reply to this.  London Times has the details...
LINK The Vatican has rejected the claim by Richard Dawkins, the biologist and campaigning atheist, that evolutionary theory proves that God does not exist, proclaiming that on the contrary Darwinian evolution and the account of Creation in Genesis are "perfectly compatible".

At a five day conference held to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species this week, Vatican theologians said while Christians believed that God "created all things", the Vatican "does not stand in the way of scientific realities".

Vatican officials joined biologists, paleontologists, molecular geneticists and philosophers for the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which ends tomorrow. Rafael Martinez, professor of the Philosophy of Science at the Santa Croce Pontifical University in Rome, said although the reaction of Catholic theologians, intellectuals and priests to Darwinian theory had been "generally negative" in the 19th century, "recent declarations by Popes have asserted the full accordance of Catholic doctrine and evolutionary biology".

He said, however, that this was not widely known, and the false impression had arisen "that the Holy See is opposed to evolution". Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which co-organised the conference with Notre Dame University in Indiana and support from the John Templeton Foundation, said there was "no a priori incompatibility between evolution and the message of the Bible".
This is a clever rhetorical position for the Catholic Church to take--and absolutely necessary if she is not to fall into total intellectual disrepute. But it also puts Creationism and Evolution on the same level of validity and will only abet the continued mental abuse of children masquerading as "early childhood religious education" -- in backward places where Damaso still controls the curriculum and continues to defy even the Papacy's rear-guard action to save itself.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chiz Escudero Stands Out In Pulse Survey

Pulse Asia's February national survey on voter preferences is out with a listing of the leading candidates for President in the coming 2010 elections. (via ABSCBN News). It's Noli, Chiz, Erap, and Manny leading the pack with Loren, Mar, Ping, Jojo and Bayani bringing up the rear, if the elections were held today, which of course they are not.

Of the four leading candidates, the youngest, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero enjoys strong popular support among younger constituencies and looks like he will pick up what I call "the Obama vote" among Filipino voters--those looking for a generational and political change.

He kinda raps, the way he talks, too.

99.995 Percent

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo told ABSCBN News that the poll body is "ready for manual elections if poll automation tests fail" -- almost as if he expects that very disappointing outcome. He also revealed the key TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION against which all bidding systems will be tested: a required 99.995 percent accuracy rating in reading and counting ballots. How exactly does one perform a Quality Control test to measure such a capability in an automated ballot reading and counting system? And what are the Constitutional implications of a formal Comelec Request for Bid from private companies whose main technical specification contemplates as acceptable the erroneous reading and counting of 5 votes out of every 100,000, or 2000 votes out of the 40 million to be cast next year for President.

Here is the basic scenario. On Election Day 2010, up to 40 million ballots could conceivably be cast for President, Vice President, 12 Senators, Congressman, Party List Representative, and provincial and local government positions. For the sake of simplicity, assume there are twenty-five candidates selected on each ballot so that a possible one billion votes must be read off 40 million ballots and accurately credited to the indicated candidate.

What 99.995 percent accuracy rating really means is that When the thousands of ballot reading and counting machines finish their work on all the ballots that are actually cast on an Election Day in which one billion votes for national and local positions are cast, they will have made ERRORS IN READING AND COUNTING not more than 0.005 percent of the one billion, or not more than 50,000 votes cast for national and local candidates. That is how many votes the 99.995 percent accuarcy rating contemplates as tolerable, spread out over all the thousands of individual positions actually available. For a single position, such as President, the specification contemplates as acceptable the erroneous reading and counting of up to 2,000 votes out of 40 million votes cast.

This appears to be an unavoidable cost of automation because of the statistical nature of error and malfunction in electromechanical devices of all kinds. Of course, it is probably a legal and constitutional fiction, that the manual counting of ballots is 100% accurate., especially where the main technical qualification is handwriting analysis. The Omnibus Election Code condones unreadable or spoilt ballots, but the present specification is being justified by the notion that these errors are small in number and that it is unlikely they would affect the final result of any election. However unlikely, there is now the possibility of some kind of constitutional crisis should it ever occur that the winning margin be comparable to the margin of error in some future very close election. For the Constitution even contemplates the notion of a tie that would be broken by Congress. But does such a provision apply to a "statistical dead heat" that could occur?

Although Comelec has not yet released the formal Bid Specs or the $20,000 Bid Documents it is widely anticipated that among the leading bidders will be systems offering Optical Mark Readers. Public testing of these machines has been promised and much speculation is being ventilated about the security of these systems. There is also the question of how to proof-test a given machine or set of machines as being capable of 99.995% accurate reading of the votes on a ballot. I sure hope the Bid Specs give not just the required level of accuracy but also the statistical confidence interval--otherwise it could be a meaningless spec!

But here is something quite definite for those with a good background in Statistics and especially those with Quality Control backgrounds. If I gave you 100,000 machines and told you to prove that they have 99.995% accuracy how would you go about testing them rigorously to do that? Would you test them all? Would you do a sampling test? How many ballots would you test? How many votes? You have less than a year!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Sermon on Gossip and Innuendo

This clip is from the recent movie DOUBT starring Merryl Streep and features a sermon describing the nature of gossip and innuendo...

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Unethical To Call Smith "Convicted Rapist"

The Supreme Court of the Philippines (SCoRP) recently produced three written Decisions on the custody case of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith: a 9-4 Majority Decision by Justice Rodolfo Azcuna; and two Dissenting Opinions by Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. In the Majority Decision, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is invariably referred to as "Respondent". Chief Justice Puno also uses the term "Respondent" while Justice Carpio uses the term "the Accused Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith". Nowhere in any of these written rulings is the term "convicted rapist" ever applied to Daniel Smith. I think it is unethical for journalists and bloggers to use this term because it unfairly and unjustly precludes the distinct possibility of acquittal on appeal. Moreover it violates the Code of Ethics published by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, where we find:
I. I shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. I recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

VII. I shall not, in any manner, ridicule, cast aspersions on, or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, cultural and ethnic origin.

VIII. I shall presume persons accused of crime of being innocent until proven otherwise. I shall exercise caution in publishing names of minors and women involved in criminal cases so that they may not unjustly lose their standing in society.

Notice that in Rule VIII, the matter of publishing names of minors and women was scrupulously followed by most people. To this day, despite the publication of her true identity by RTC Judge Benjamin Pozon, most people know the alleged victim of the crime only as "Nicole." This is but right and proper.

However, it is entirely undignified and lacking in self-respect that the same reporters and commentators blithely use the term "convicted rapist" on Daniel Smith. I suppose this is entirely understandable since the Regional Trial Court of Makati did find him guilty of rape beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, that does not make him a convicted rapist, yet. For after the one RTC judge, at least three out of five more justice of the Court of Appeals must agree that he is guilty as charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Assuming that happens, then at least a majority, 8 out of 15 of the Supreme Court en banc must likewise agree to both verdicts of the lower courts, upon the same quantume of evidence and moral certainty. Then and only then will Daniel Smith's PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE be entirely overcome and his conviction and sentence become final and executory.

I see this system of three levels of Courts and Judges as a kind of "Jury System" in a way, in which 1+5+15 or 20 judges are the "jurors". All three courts must vote "unanimously" on his guilt. Just like a bill does not pass into law in the Congress unless both House and Senate approve of it, a person accused of a capital crime in the Philippines is not CONVICTED of that crime until RTC, CA and SCORP agree on that guilt.

It is therefore UNETHICAL to be calling Daniel Smith a convicted rapist at this stage.

Here's My Bid To Automate The 2010 Elections

From PHYSORG comes news of a verifiable web-based election system in which the voters don't need to trust those running the elections!
The verifiable voting system, available as open-source/free software, implements advanced cryptographic techniques to maintain ballot secrecy while providing a mathematical proof that the election tally was correctly computed.

Helios relies upon public key homomorphic encryption, a method where a public key is used to encrypt a message (in this case, a vote); messages can be combined under the covers of encryption (in this case, tallying the votes); and multiple independent private keys are required to decrypt the message (in this case, the election tally).

In an election, Helios works as follows:

• first, each voter receives a tracking number for his/her vote and the vote is encrypted with the election public key before it leaves the voter's browser;
• second, with the tracking number, a voter can then verify that their ballot was correctly captured by the voting system, which publishes a list of all tracking numbers prior to tallying; and
• finally, the voter, or any observer including election watchers from outside the election, can verify that these tracking numbers (the encrypted votes) were tallied appropriately. The election results contain a mathematical proof of the tally that cannot be "faked" even with the use of powerful computers.
"Because the tallying happens under the covers of encryption, the entire verification process is done without revealing the contents of each individual vote," explained Adida "Moreover, by using Helios, voters no longer need to blindly trust those supervising the election, as officials must provide mathematical proofs that everything was done appropriately."
Primer Pangunuran is wondering about fool proof election systems over at Filipino Voices.  There's also a big huha over those masked activists running around naked yesterday posing for cell phones and giggly gaggles of tittering girls.  It's gratuitous nudity being consecrated as the latest brave blow for Freedom of Speech, what with that Terrible Ogre, Nene Pimentel being the lightning rod for the thunderous reverberations of the local Echo Chamber. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bad Start To Peace Talks With MILF

I just heard Deputy National Security Advisor Avelino Razon announcing that the Government has given up its demand that the MILF surrender three "rogue commanders" including Kumanders Bravo and Umbra Kato before starting peace talks. 

With not even a denunciation from the MILF leadership of those rogue commanders and their murderous rampages last year, the sovereign Philippine Government undertakes to begin again peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

What are the chances of anything good coming of this?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Please Don't Tell Calipjo Go About The Red, White and Yellow Bougainvillas

Please don't tell Calipjo Go
about the red, white and yellow bougainvillas.
He will claim they are errors of fact or expression,
accuse you of being a poet of illusion,
or worse, a science teacher with no religion,
and immediately correct your English. Badly.
And madly sic! his newspaper friends on you.
But ask him about the catechism textbooks
at his Marian School of Apparition.
Ask the True Crusader against Error itself:
As strong as crooked timber.
With modus operandi most ingenious.
A torpedo against what is Wrong.
Like Torquemada for hire.

Please don't tell Calipjo Go
about the red, white and yellow bougainvillas!

On the "Depopulation" of Pigs

I suppose various alternatives were considered and rejected for what is going on this week in Pandi, Bulacan: "massacre of hogs" - "mass execution" - "Death to the Pigs" - "a bonfire of bacon" but such gallows humor cannot disguise a growing sense of unease among the hairs of my neck as I watch the Philippine government dealing with an apparent outbreak of Ebola Reston Virus (ERV) infections among pigs, the first ever.  Or ignore the fact that even pigs can make people cry.  Before the slaughter, the pigs starved, but not to death.  Everyone else I know is taking this all with an admirable equanimity, so I wish I had not paid so much attention and study of that thing that happened in Merrie Ole England not too long ago called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopahty. the bitter and difficult  lessons from which have hopefully been taken notice of by our own authorities.  Mad Cow disease ended up "depopulating" 4.5 million cows in Britain and Europe and became a global problem as the disease manifested in humans as Creutzfeld Jakob Disease.   Here we had four hogs detected and reported on December 23, 2008.  Now on March 3, 2009 they are "depopulating" 6000 hogs in Pandi, Bulacan after "increased mortality rates" were noticed in 2007 and 2008 in several Luzon provinces.  The next cull may be far larger.

But whatever they do, they MUST NOT FEED the dead pigs to other pigs or any other beast. That is what drove Mad Cow Disease in the UK through a devastating positive feedback cycle. [the pun is not funny but deadly].

The Separate Justice System for Impeachable Officers

There are thirty-one very special government employees mentioned in the 1987 Constitution's Article XI on Accountability of Public Officers as subject of Impeachment Proceedings.

15 Supreme Court Justices
 7 Comelec Commissioners
 3 Audit Commissioners
 3 Civil Service Commissioners
 1 President
 1 Vice-President
 1 Ombudsman

The first thing to notice is that no Member of Congress (Senator, Congressman or Party List Rep) is listed as one of the Republic's impeachable "Constitutional Officers".   It is for that reason that IMPEACHMENT is the SOLE and EXCLUSIVE power of the Congress, as the main political branch of the government.   Impeachment is a political process, precisely because of this, but we should make no mistake that it is actually the largest and most important piece of the Judicial Power that is nonetheless invested entirely and compleatly in the Congress.  It is a demonstration of the true meaning of Separation of Powers as clear as geological formation.  For in the impeachment process one finds a completely separate JUDICIAL PROCEEDING that applies exclusively to the tenants of the above listed Constitutional offices, and to no one else among our population of 96 millions.

Notice that for ordinary citizens charged with a crime the process steps are:

1. A person is accused of a crime and charges are filed in Court to determine guilt or innocence.

2. A trial is held at Regional Trial Court (RTC) in which one judge decides the outcome.

3. The accused my appeal conviction at RTC to the Court of Appeals (CA).  The RTC conviction may be affirmed by a vote of at least 3 judges out of 5 that must hear the appeal and review the case.

4. If the CA upholds the RTC conviction, the accused may finally appeal to the Supreme Court (SCoRP) which will rule with finality.  Only when a conviction is final and executory at this level is the person's initial presumption of innocence is completely overcome and sentence may be carried out consisting of fines and prison.
But in the case of IMPEACHABLE OFFICERS they cannot be processed in the manner described above without first being impeached and convicted of impeachable crimes. All cases of impeachment are processed solely and exclusively by the Congress as follows:

1. An impeachment complaint is filed in the House of Representatives which has the exclusive power to INITIATE a case of impeachment.  If sustained by a vote of at least one third of the House Members, the case goes to the Senate for trial forthwith.

2. The Senate has the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment.  If convicted the accused can only be removed from office and banned forever from holding any government office.  In all cases of impeachment the Senate Impeachment Court is the Supreme Court whose decisions are final and executory and may not be review, reversed or modified in any way by the Supreme Court.  Not even the Power of Executive Clemency can reverse the decision and sentence of the Senate Impeachment Court.

[Though of course, this was not strictly (or even laxly!) followed, as it was wantonly violated by Chief Justice Hilario Davide, but that's another old story.]

For reference here is Section 3 of Article XI:

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.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Quality of Mercy Is Definitely Stained...(Updated)

Filipino Voices publishes the Impeachment Complaint filed against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez at House of Representatives today. 

Complainants led by former Senator Jovito Salonga and UP Professor Raul Pangalangan, allege a collapse of the public trust under her stewardship of the Ombudsman's Office.  Unless impeached and removed, Ms. Gutierrez would remain in office until December 2012. 

The Ombudswoman thinks it "smacks of politics."

The OFW Journalism Consortium notes Sen. Chiz Escudero's demand that Mercy produce an inventory of pending cases on her desk.

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri wants to "give her a chance."

Lito Banayo of Malaya (and a Ping Lacson guy) has the usual incisive and biting commentary on the impeachment, with a rather substantial summary of the charges, started with those damn Comelec counting machines of Ben Abalos.

Here is the list of Complainants:
Aside from former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, the complaint wase signed by (there may have been more at the time of this writing), Up law professor and former Dean Raul C. Pangalangan, Florin Hilbay and Emilio C. Capulong Jr., all of Bantay Katarungan; Former DILG and DOT Secretary Rafael M. Alunan III, former PCGG Commisssioner Quintin S. Doromal and Emigdio P. Dakanay, trustees of Kilosbayan; Bishop Antonio R. Tobias, DD of Novaliches, and other former senior government officials, civil society leaders and other citizens of the Republic, signing in their individual capacities, namely former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, former Civil Service Commissioner Karina Constantino-David former cabinet secretaries Teresita Quintos-Deles, Ernest Leung, and Corazon-Juliano Soliman, former presidential advisers Veronica Villavicencio and Jose Z. Molano Jr., former DOT Undersecretary Sostenes Campillo Jr., former DBP Chairman Vitaliano Nanagas, former NAIA general manager Guillermo G. Cunanan, UP sociology professor Randy David, former St. Scholastica College president Sister Mary John Mananzan, and civil society activists Leah Lopez Navarro, Crispino T. Aguelo, Milagros Regalado-Capistrano, Marry Anne Terrenal, Yasmin Busrah-Lao, Remy Rikken, Elizabeth Yang, Leon G. Flores III, Ramil V. Cinco, Marilou Borje, and Raul Socrates Banzuela.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What's Pimentel Really Up To?

Nene Pimentel is not stupid. He knew this would happen: that there would be a hue and cry over Press Freedom and Freedom of Speech. So why is he doing this RORB thingy? I think it’s an intentional Red Herring. He is actually setting things up for his Media Pals and prepping the ground for his own entry into Post Retirement Press Punditry ala Panganiban! He is about to champion the Decriminalization of Libel.  Which I oppose!   I propose the licensing of Journalists as professionals just like these professions.