Monday, November 30, 2009

A Nihilist in Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil's memoirs

I have found acclaimed political journalist, historian and writer, Mrs Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil's trilogy of memoirs (Myself Elsewhere;Legends and Adventures and Exeunt) interesting reading. Mrs Nakpil's memoirs could be made into a movie, that is if she would want to have her life made into a biopic. The first book deals with Mrs Nakpil's childhood and early womanhood and marriage to Toto Cruz (executed by the Japanese) in a colonial Ermita bajo de las campanas, as she would have it. The carnage of February 1945 put an end to this idyll and Carmen Guerrero emerged at war's end as a young widow with two children to care for.

The second installment deals with her career as a journalist cum writer which represented a clean break with her sheltered, religious and privileged youth. By then she had remarried to Architect Angel Nakpil and joined the picketline against her blurb's publisher.. A true blue nationalist, Mrs Nakpil earned the reputation of being the "most unAsian, Asian" condescending whites ever met. Also she in this installment, describes the 1950s and 1960s in its freewheeling elan, decades that could have propelled the Philippines to progress, but it was not to be.

True to her independent and non-flipping colours, she is unapologetic about her friendship with the Marcoses (having lived on the same San Juan street as they did) and the first pages of Exeunt deals with her being misktaken by Hong Kong immigration as a mistress of a well known Marcos crony general at the time of the 1986 EDSA revolt.

Mrs Nakpil served as director of the Technology Resource Center and UNESCO Philippines chair. In roles that seem to discomfit her, she had to tread the moral tightrope vis a vis those with ill designs on public office (which Mrs Nakpil believes is a public trust). Her comment on the failure of the Yellow Revolution should open reader's eyes when they choose the next President in 2010. What colour of ribbon should we choose? Mrs Nakpil wryly notes that the last two decades were a failure because these were "blighted by self serving motives". Mrs Nakpil believed that EDSA 1 was a revolution that miserably failed.

It is plainly obvious that the past two decades have brought us elected officials that have little concern for the people, save their own. It is in this sense that Mrs Nakpil describes the incumbent Palace tenant as a sort of nihilist. It is not of the Nietzsche kind but of the "I don't care as long as I get mine" kind!

Well we are going to elect more of these kinds of "nihilists" come 2010. Mrs Nakpil now in her late 80s and has penned her exeunt (meaning "get off the stage") is likely to see The End and the curtain call. The Filipino people have to make sure that the "fin" is indeed liberating.


The Ampatuan Massacre: The 'Civil Society' Connection

I cannot imagine the anguish and anger that the families of the nearly 60 victims of the Ampatuan (Maguindanao) massacre might be feeling right now. The prime suspects pointed out by former Senator and Ambassador Ernesto Maceda (and, actually, almost everybody else) are the Ampatuans, those figures "so bold, so powerful, so drunk with power, so murderous." The same figures associated with the huge electoral fraud against 2004 presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr. and the ridiculous 2007 12-0 "victory" of the administration's senate slate Team Unity in Maguindanao province. While I join in its condemnation, I see the case as just an effect, albeit extreme in its wantonness and multiple murderousness, of the undue influence of the hypocritical, undemocratic civil society forces—the same ones that installed and have sustained the Philippine's Illegitimate, a.k.a. "President" Gloria Arroyo.

Maceda calls the kidnapping and killing of the (mostly female) Mangudadatu family members, lawyers and supporters,  media persons and others  "the height of cruelty and devilishness, so unparalleled in Philippine history," with the extreme superlatives perhaps based on earlier reports that some of the victims were beheaded and/or raped. I reckon that Muslim or no Muslim, as the case with the apparent intended targets, or Christians/otherwise as applicable to the media companions, the pain over the sudden loss of loved ones, aggravated by the arbitrariness and senselessness of the killings must be unfathomable.  The anguish must be doubly felt by the families of those who only accidentally trailed the Mangudadatus convoy, or of the media persons who were merely doing their jobs.

In trying to decipher how and why the Maguindanao massacre happened, a host of ideas and theories has been floated. Dean Jorge Bocobo  remarks in Facebook how the Maguindanao/Mindanao culture is marked by  vendetta. The government seems to propound the view that the incident is nothing but simple clan warfare.

 It may well be clan warfare, but how would that explain the temerity of the perpetrators to include several dozen unintended victims that include members of the powerful media, a number of whom were connected to national press? How would such a framework account for the reported involvement of the town or local regional policemen? Drug tests done on Mayor Andal Ampatuan jr. belie any theory that the murders were done under a state of temporary insanity. How would a simplistic clan vendetta framework explain the reports that the mass grave was dug up days before, designed to be wide enough to accommodate any and  all companions of the Mangudadatus?

If the Ampatuan massacre were truly only a local, clan-based exercise, the mastermind would not have dared include media people in the crime. No warlord would dare include 22 or so innocent media people in any crime/vendetta killing--unless he is confident of political support from the national government. Fact is, the Ampatuans built their power and influence because, as the Christian Science Monitor puts it, the clan "has been nurtured by the central government for almost 20 years."

Edsa 2 Coup & 2004 Electoral Fraud Worse Crimes

The Ampatuan massacre, with all its genocidal goriness, is not the worst crime perpetrated during this illegitimate administration. The crime of the travesty of the people's electoral will, perpetuated by the civil society, notably through the 2001 "People Power" 2 coup against Estrada and the 2004 cheating of FPJ, the genuine 14th President of the Philippines, is.

To enable and sustain their travesty of the democratic process, the uncivil civil society has been relentless in imposing its undemocratic will on the Filipinos. First, it legitimized the seditious Edsa 2, a.k.a. Oplan-Excelsis manifest, with a never-before-heard "constructive resignation" ruling without resignation letter and without any real presidential incapacity. When the People Power 3 erupted in April-May 2001 in the attempt to rectify the undemocratic ouster of Estrada, the masa participants were not only dismissed and branded "the great unwashed" but, as well, machine-gunned in historic Mendiola.

Throughout all these, the 'civil society' sank into the depths of incivility and disrespect for the Constitution. As Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile put it during his September 22, 2009 privilege speech, in describing the EDSA 2 crowd that President Erap refused to disperse:
Lahat ng pagmumura at pag-aalipusta na ibinato kay Pangulong Estrada at sa amin ay naganap at pinayagan ng mga pastor, mga madre at kaparian doon mismo sa paanan ng malaking imahe ng Birheng Maria sa EDSA.

The mainstream media, by the way, has largely been very much in the continuing conspiracy to mold the Republic not according to the will of the majority but according to theirs. Despite the sacrifice of blood let from the dispersal of Edsa 3, the media generally dismissed the urban revolution of the masses. Such media snootiness (if not heartlessness) against Erap's masa supporters is perhaps best represented by veteran journalist Rowena Carranza's article with a title that says it all: "Excuse me, Please Don't call it People Power III." Even the leftist segment of the civil society did not bother to assail the violent dispersal. It's not clear how many Edsa 3 supporters were killed but I remember Sen. Edgardo Angara lamenting on TV why no investigation was made into the deadly operation.

During the 2004 elections, solons including Liberal Party stalwarts Franklin Drilon, Kiko "Noted" Pangilinan, and Noynoy Aquino, either passively watched the great cover-up or actually actively blocked the opening of the contested COCs that would have revealed whether it was really Arroyo or FPJ who won in the presidential race. This, amidst charges of poll cheating reported in The Daily Tribune and elsewhere, but which the civil society did not denounce. It was only when the "Hello Garci" wiretapped tape evidence of electoral fraud was revealed by ex-NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong and Atty. Allan Paguia--with FPJ already conveniently dead--that the civil society made some noise.

Let it not be forgotten that the Illegitimate was civil society's own making. They installed Gloria undemocratically, in wanton disrespect of the results of the 1998 elections and with absolutely no regard to the 2000 year-ender and early-January-2001 survey studies showing President Erap as still enjoying positive trust ratings while the confidence ratings of the anti-Estrada figures plummeted (See Fig. 1).

The Filipino elites, either of pockets or of prejudicial mind, may be heard denouncing Gloria every now and then but it's always in a restrained way seemingly calculated not to let pro-masa politicians regain the reins of power. No wonder that while they swiftly and unceremoniously booted Estrada out of power, they were never able to dethrone Gloria Arroyo despite her never-ending corruption scandals and Hello Garci Illegitimacy.

Civil Society Nurtured the Ampatuans

I am sorry to say but the Ampatuan massacre, gory and monstrous it might be, is merely symbolic of the extreme crimes that the civil society, distinguishable by its consuming prejudices against pro-masa politicians, is capable of. Actually, civil society bears some blame for the Ampatuan massacre! How come? By installing, sustaining, and failing to depose the Illegitimate and "Most Corrupt President in the Philippines, they only further empowered the Ampatuans' warlord-style lawless rule in Maguindanao.

Truth is, the Ampatuan's rise to power began with the civil society personalities associated with the administration of President Cory Aquino. Tingting Cojuangco, Noynoy Aquino's aunt, sponsored the appointment of Zacarias Candao as Maguindanao OIC. Candao later on tapped the Ampatuans to control Maguindanao and manipulate election results. Nonetheless, it was after Edsa II that the clan of Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. reached its peak of power and influence. The Daily Tribune's Herman Tiu-Laurel writes:
"There is no question that Edsa II only strengthened the power of the Ampatuans even more. In sweeping aside the Constitution and justifying the illegal removal of an elected president, thereby legitimizing the illegitimate, Gloria and the rest of the Yellows had to resort to force, deception, and fraud to supplant the Rule of Law."

Hello Garci & Ampatuan Republic

Maguindanao and the Ampatuans were critical in the “election” of Gloria Arroyo as President in 2004. As revealed by the Hello Garci wiretapped evidence of  2004 electoral fraud, Arroyo spoke with former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over details of efforts to manipulate the outcome of the presidential race in her favor. In the official vote tally, Arroyo’s lead over opposition bet Fernando Poe Jr. in seven towns controlled by the Ampatuans had the incredible average ratio of 99.83% to 0.17%; in two towns, FPJ even got a near-impossible zero vote each, with all votes going to Arroyo.

The blog Philippine Revolution ventures to write that the "younger Andal knows all the secrets of that Maguindanao Hello Garci operation."  Gloria is very beholden to the Ampatuans for their role in the 2004 electoral fraud, which led to the surreptitious break-of-dawn (actually wee 3:00am of June 24, 2004) proclamation of Arroyo by ex-Senate President Drilon, ex-Speaker de Venecia, ex-Senate majority leader Noted" Pangilinan , etc.

Out of gratitude for the Ampatuan's political support (translation: poll cheating operations for Gloria & party), the government installed via the Edsa 2 coup has promoted the warlord-style lawlessness in Maguindanao. Maceda writes that he's been informed of how Gov. Ampatuan was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia back in 2003 "because he carried $6.3 million, yes million" but after three days, Gloria Arroyo was able to work for his release by interceding with the Saudi king. Further, the elder Ampatuan "is allegedly pocketing the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) released for Maguindanao."

The Ampatuans are well known to be operating a private army that includes deputized paramilitary members and have controlled the province and even the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Gloria and the civil society have long been aware of this but they're probably been only too grateful for the fraudulent votes the Ampatuans have delivered, enough to block the Fernando Poe Jr. presidency and opposition's control of Congress.

On TV, the husband of one of the intended victims, Vice-Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Ismael Mangudadatu, was appealing to "President" Gloria Arroyo for justice. It made me wonder whether he or his family took no part in legitimizing the Illegitimate Gloria via the 2004 poll fraud operations in Maguindanao.  Are the Mangudadatus not also (Muslim) members of the hypocritical 'civil society'?

The massacre of close to 60 people in the warlord's territory in Maguindanao, mostly victimizing somewhat influential individuals, is most abominable; however, it is no crime against the nation, or at least not intended to be. In contrast, the 2001 coup and the 2004 electoral fraud are direct crimes against Philippine democracy, against the people, against the masa majority of Filipinos. The mass killing in Maguindanao is but a by-product of civil society's political crimes against the Republic. The Ampatuan massacre is a gory product of the political culture of impunity bred and nurtured by the uncivil 'civil society' of the Philippines.


References at: SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Collapsing Philippines

This is a response to Professor Flor Lacanilao's letter to the Inquirer which should come out this week.

The Philippines is actually in the initial stages of collapse. A society that isn't able to feed itself is unlikely to adapt to rapid environmental change and will face political unrest followed by social breakdown. We are a "victim" of our own physical geography which is disaster prone since our high islands have narrow coastal plains and rivers tend not to lose much of their energy as they near the sea. The islands once forested were able to hold the water and regulate the flow. Now this has broken down. This is the same story for Rapa Nui which Jared Diamond uses as a textbook example.

That the country was not really able to feed itself is evident from demographic responses to pestilential events in the colonial period. We have to recall that Miguel Lopez de Legazpi gave up on Cebu and Iloilo as suitable for the colonial enterprise since these islands have little water resources. It was only when Legazpi heard about Sulayman's Maynilad (which was really a trading city) did the conquistadors rethink their options. The Philippines as composed of disaster prone island ecosystems were really on the edge. The sociological study of pestilence by Luis Camara Dery documents these environmental events and consequential pestilence, the root of many revolts and unrest.

Demographers estimate that during the start of Spanish colonialism there were 6 M Filipinos. Right after the Americans consolidated their rule, the Philippine population was 9-10 M. In three hundred years the net population growth was just about 3 M! The disasters effectively kept the population low and this was guaranteed by colonial policy. The environmental roots of the Philippine revolution is metaphorically described as a failure in the production of ilang ilang flowers. A series of droughts in the 1880s caused major agrarian unrest. Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo describes the events even if in fiction.

It is clear from ecological historical evidence that the Philippines can support at most 30 M people without damaging its environment's capacity to support the population. The 30 M mark was reached during the American colonial period. Rapid environmental deterioration can be said to have started during the Commonwealth period. The Japanese occupation made things worse. Colonialism made environmental deterioration worse since colonial policy is always to extract resources from the colony.

Since then it has been bad. The OFW phenomenon can be viewed as a environmental crash safety valve, as Larry Heaney said in a lecture at the US Embassy. The export of human labour is a symptom of environmental unsustainability and if viewed in political terms is another expression of colonialism. I agree with Prof Lacanilao our adaptation to environment change should come from local resourcefulness and not foreign aid, which in itself is symptomatic of non sustainability. We have to manage population growth or risk society's collapse.

Ben Vallejo

Journalists KIA at Ampatuan, Maguindanao Massacre

  • Ian Sublang – Gensan Newsprint
  • Lea Dalmacio – Gensan Newsprint
  • Gina Dela Cruz – Gensan Newsprint
  • Marites Cabunes – Gensan Newsprint
  • Bart Maravilla – Bombo Radyo
  • Jhoy Duhay – Peoples Tonite
  • Henry Araneta – DZRH Correspondent
  • Andy Teodoro – Mindanao Inquirer
  • Neneng Montano – Gensan Newsprint
  • Alejandro Bong Reblado – UNTV
  • Victor Nuñez – UNTV
  • Mac– mac Amola – Gensan Newsprint
  • Jimmy Cabello –  Midland Review
  •  Councilor Razul Daud – SK Newspaper
  • Joel Parcon –  Prontera News
  • Val Cachuela –  Prontera News
  • John Caniban
  • Art Baloya – Punto Periodico
  • Noel Decena – Punto Periodico
  • Rany Razon – Punto Periodico
  • Bienvenido Jun Legarta – Punto Periodico
  • Jovy Legarta – Punto Periodico
  • Rey Merisco – Punto Periodico
  • Boyet Dela Cerna – Escalera News
  • Art Mascardo – GSC

The Data Is In

In my days as an engineering student I took a course entitled Engineering Methods. One interesting lecture was on dealing with data. The professor presented us with a vernier caliper and an object of unknown length. This was in a lecture hall containing 150 or so of us. He gave a quick lecture on how to use and read the caliper and then passed the caliper, the object, and a paper upon which we were to record our measurements.

The next day he came in and presented us with copies of the raw data. He then pointed out to us some interesting facts about the data. I can not recall the length of the object but let us suppose it was found to be 16.8 cm. While scanning the raw data we all noted a few measurement recordings such as 170 cm, 1.6 cm, or 8.5 cm; whereas most readings were close to the object's 16.8 cm length. He then launched into a discussion of those fishy recordings. He went on to explain that further analysis would exclude those fishy recordings, explaining we do not need to measure the object to know it is not 8.5 cm and the other two outliers could be justified as someone misplacing a decimal point. Thus he introduced the concept of data outliers to us.

Subsequent lab classes I took (after dropping out as an engineering student and entering the physics program) always discussed the handling of outliers and the raw data. Outliers were not to be discarded from the raw data reporting and that in order to discard an outlier you had to provide justification. That is, proper experiment reporting dictated all data is to be disclosed including data we judged as being suspect.

Now, most college level experimentation replicates historical experiments with well known results. While pride may be lost in not getting the expected result the important part of the process is to learn experimentation and how to properly present the results. I did not lose any sleep when the results I calculated from some laser experimentation did not turn up as expected. However, proper scientific process demands you present the results even if you suspect flaws. Show your data good and bad, justify the included and excluded data, present your calculations and analysis, and then present your conclusions.

I suppose in my earlier example one might object that throwing out the 8.5 cm reading based on the looks of the object is improper, and it should be included in the analysis. That is not a wholly indefensible position and a lot of scientific debate goes on on such points especially in areas of debate where we have a much harder time distinguishing between good and fishy data.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Art of the Areglo: No Quick Arrests In Maguindanao Massacre

HUMAN RIGHTS CHAIR LILA DE LIMA is right. The Ampatuans are getting special treatment. Jess Dureza's obsequious visit to the Ampatuan clan seat yesterday was most irregular and smacks of a "political accomodation". He told Pia Hontiveros at noon Tuesday he got "assurances of cooperation" from the Ampatuans in the investigation of the case!

On Tuesday, Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs, met with the Ampatuans, including Ampatuan Jr., and sought their cooperation in the investigation.

Dureza said he did not directly talk about the details of the case with the Ampatuans despite the account given by Vice-Mayor Mangudadatu.

The Mangudadatus believe the killings were politically motivated because the vice-mayor will oppose Ampatuan Jr. in the gubernatorial race in 2010.

'Disturbing, unusual treatment'

Commission on Human Rights chairperson Leila de Lima told radio dzMM that the government's "unsual treatment" of Ampatuan Jr. is disturbing.

De Lima said that at this stage and with the statement from the Mangudadatus, the police should have already invited Ampatuan Jr. for questioning or at least to get his side.

“I also observed that there is an unusual treatment. If you’re an ordinary suspect and there is a lead and information [of your supposed involvement] you will be immediately invited,” she said, adding that the government should heed to the public’s clamor of swift and decisive action against the killers and the masterminds in the massacre.

She added that Dureza’s meeting with the supposed primary suspect in the brutal killings was also unusual.

She said suspects should be invited to present themselves to the police to explain their side, not visited.

“Go to our precinct. Explain your side, execute a statement if you want to. But to be visited just get an assurance [of your cooperation]?” De Lima said.

De Lima also questioned the police’s “less than decisive action.”
It reminds me of July 2007. After the Basilan RTC issued over a hundred arrest warrants against MILF/ASG suspects in the ambush and beheading of 10 Marines looking for Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, OPAPP Jess Dureza STAYED the warrants to conduct an "independent investigation". Most of the suspects got away as a result. Later it came out that he was negotiating that GRP-MILF MOA-AD and had to save his "partners in the peace process" from charges of ambush and mutilation!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Pandora's Box of Immoralities

COMELEC has opened a Pandora's Box of Trouble by declaring as IMMORAL the doctrines, emotional preferences and sexual practices of the Ang Ladlad Party of self-described lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, based on religious tests from Christian and Islamic Scripture.

Surely its own ruling obligates Comelec to ensure that NOBODY else filing a COC is guilty of the same immoral doctrines, emotional preferences and sexual practices it has condemned in Ang Ladlad's LGBTs. Moreover, I don't see how they could look the other way at heterosexual immoralities, infidelities, indiscretions of individuals and party lists.

In effect, SPP 09-228, the Resolution denying Ang Ladlad accreditation, imposes novel standards of SEXUAL MORALITY that must be met by all candidates--local, provincial and national -- to participate in the 2010 elections.

It would be grossly discriminatory to apply the new Morality Test only to Ang Ladlad. So I think the Comelec en banc will see the wisdom of reversing this Resolution and accredite Ang Ladlad.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Re: Bow Bow Barack

Regarding the bow President Obama made to the emperor of Japan. A friend of mine has a common sense take on the bow with one commentor strenuously disagreeing. Having lived overseas I believe it is important and well received to show respect for a host's culture and traditions. I do agree with my buddy that President Obama was most likely not given adequate or correct briefing on proper protocol.

Now, as to why Americans (mostly those on my side of the political divide) are upset over this is because the bow is viewed as submission to an unelected hereditary ruler. Many believe President Obama is confusing diplomacy with obsequiousness. Of course, petty partisan payback has something to do with it too.


Introducing Myself

Kumusta po kayong lahat? Ako si Marcus Auerlius sa Blogger Beer.

I want to thank Dean for inviting me to contribute as an author to Philippine Commentary. I have done so through the years as a commentor but now Dean grants me a higher visibility venue. A quick bio. Kano ako sa Wisconsin -- ako ay cheesehead talaga. I lived in the United Arab Emirates for six years where I quickly gravitated to the OFW community there and managed to learn some Tagalog, and more importantly, I met my wife who is from Cebu. I have been to the Philippines twice and am hoping to travel there again soon and am looking for a good excuse to visit regularly and make others pay for the trips!

My political tendencies are American conservative. I grew up in a Republican household, veered left in college, and at the end of my college days I returned "home". Educationally, I am a mathematician and physicist, professionally I am a software application developer, and religiously I am a Roman Catholic.

No promises, but I plan to lend my perspective to events of mutual concern to the USA and the Philippines. Expect observations of Filipino culture by an American, first hand accounts of Filipino culture in America (and the UAE), my experiences in the Philippines, my descriptions of American culture, responses to posts here, and current American events especially those of a nature that stand to impact the Philippines. I will try to keep my posts weighty, but as it is with beer sometimes light is best.

Tama na! Onto my first entry of import.

Boxing is not popular here in the US, many view boxing as brutish, corrupt, or both. In addition, the rise of alternate fighting leagues such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) League draws people away from boxing. The last problem boxing faces is most people are only interested in the the heavyweight division.

Most of you probably do not want to hear this, but the most famous Filipino here in the US is still Imelda Marcos with her gigantic shoe collection. Periodically I still hear jokes about that collection. However, among sports enthusiasts and boxing fans Manny Pacquiao is quickly replacing Imelda. Major sports periodicals (ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News) have published feature articles on Manny. In addition, Jim Rome a nationally synidcated sports talk radio show host frequently talks about Pacquiao, his fights, and with Manny's trainer Freddy Roach.

Sports and boxing fans often refer to Manny as the greatest current pound for pound fighter. Commentary after the Cotto fight has most boxing experts putting Manny in the top 20 boxers of all time! If he fights and beats Floyd Mayweather Jr. then his status moves up and could very well crack into American popular culture (search out "Manny Pacquiao and Jimmy Kimmel" on YouTube for a high profile but awkward TV appearance).

Manny Pacquiao is doing the Philippines proud and I am proud to have been a longtime fan of his!

Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bow bow Barack

Critics in the US are ballistic on President Barack Obama's bowing to His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito of Japan. One video clip shows a series of 47 stills of world leaders calling on the Emperor and none of them bowed to His Imperial Majesty but shook his hand. Of all the world leaders only Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines stood straight with no hint of deference and looked at His Imperial Majesty's eyes. That's because they are almost of the same height!

Word has it even the Japanese are embarrassed. After all the Japanese have stopped prostrating to the Emperor since Akihito's dad, the Emperor Showa divested himself of divinity after Japan's surrender on Sept 2, 1945.

Bowing is a sign of respect not too much of deference in today's Japan. It is more of a sort of greeting if anything else. Sales clerks clad in kimono usually greet the customer with an half- bow. The polite thing to do is to bow back with the same kind of bow or as a gesture of humility, bow lower.

Since I spent some time in Japan, I am quite aware of a few of the etiquette rules but not the whole thing. After all, only the Japanese know all the rules.

Some Filipinos do not get the reason why some Americans are pissed with their Head of State's bowing. Obama did a full formal bow and his host the Emperor just made a slight nod. In Asian cultures this means that Obama is an inferior and the Emperor is a superior. The Emperor should have made a deeper bow as a sign of respect and recognizing Obama as Head of State. But Emperors don't do that. Despite what Japan's Consitution says as him being a "symbol" of the Japanese people, the Emperor for all intents and purposes is Sovereign and Obama is not. To be fair to the Emperor, he seemed to have been taken for a surprise.

Someone ought to tell Barack Obama that he isn't just any politician but a President of a sovereign people and that his office has inherent dignities. But Obama may not be completely faulted. After all he grew up in a very Asian place where people bow, Indonesia.

The only other Western icon that I remember having bowed, no it was a deep curtsy to the Emperor and Empress was the newly divorced Diana, Princess of Wales. However she wasn't officially part of the Royal Family then having lost her HRH and she was definitely of lower rank than the Imperial couple.

Well President GMA may have had it right. Being vertically challenged may have protocol advantages!

Update on the platform of candidates

Gibo Teodoro’s platform is done. He’s just waiting for Gloria to approve it.

Chiz Escudero has a platform but he doesn’t know what to do with it now.

Nicky Perlas has a serious platform but he can’t get anyone to take him seriously.

Erap Estrada was supposed to release his platform but he accidentally spilled whisky on it and on Ernie Maceda’s dress.

Noynoy Aquino’s platform was ready. Unfortunately it was burned during the filming of his commercial.

Jamby Madrial thought she had a platform but Joma Sison was only kidding pala.

Bro. Eddie’s and the Kapatiran’s candidate are using similar platforms, written 2009 years ago.

Manny Villar will wait for the others to publish their platforms because “We will say the same things…we will have the SAME PLATFORM. For after all, a platform… dadalawang speechwriters lang iyan tatanungin ka.Anong gusto ninyo, 3-point agenda , 10 point agenda 15 point agenda o 25 point agenda.”

SOURCE: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manny Pacquiao

All the congressmen admire and respect and envy you, why in hell would you want to lower your great status in this world by wanting to be another stupid politician in congress?

You are the only Filipino who became rich and famous not owing to lies, deception, or stealing, or by corruption, or even by being submissive or subservient to any foreign exploitation. With much self-respect and dignity - you did it with your own talents and abilities in the field of sports – boxing.

I respect and admire Manny. I have every hope he will contribute greatly to the growth and development of the sports industry of the Philippines. Indeed, more and more Filipino athletes should show the world what we Filipinos are capable of achieving without having to resort to degradation, corruption, or superstition, or even to brain exportation.

Indeed, no great achievement is possible without discipline, persistent hard work, dedication , and financial support.

In the meantime, I have every hope that Manny Pacquiao will soon drop that silly habit of his making the sign of the cross before a fight; especially against a fellow Catholic boxer. As if he is still a thoughtless little boy under the inspiration of a silly, equally thoughtless, anti-Pinoy Jewish divinity. Poch Suzara

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Whose election frame will dominate?

Slander cannot destroy an honest man—when the flood recedes the rock is there.—Chinese proverb

Pulse Asia just released its latest nationwide survey on the top choices for president. Noynoy Aquino is at 44 percent while Manuel Villar, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Joseph Estrada are at 19, 13 and 11 percent, respectively. That makes the 2009 election a race for second place.

But that’s only true if honesty and an unblemished reputation remains the horse to ride.

Pulse Asia asked their respondents why they were voting for a particular candidate. The five top reasons cited were: “Hindi kurakot/malinis” (Does not steal/is clean) (21.2 percent); “May nagawa, may magagawa” (Has done a lot/can do a lot) (14 percent); “Para sa mahirap, galing sa mahirap” (Pro-poor/comes from the poor) (12.2 percent); “Tumutulong” (Helps a lot) (12 percent); “Reputasyon ng pamilya” (Family reputation) (4.2 percent).

Looking into the components of each of those five reasons will show why the election frame is still up for grabs.

The first and fifth reasons belong to Noynoy Aquino, obviously.

The second reason,“May nagawa, may magagawa,” belongs to padrino (patron) politicos—Disaster relief (2.7 percent); Other accomplishments (6.1 percent); Nagbigay ng pabahay (Provided housing) (4.9 percent) and one other at 0.4 percent.

The third reason, “Para sa mahirap, galing sa mahirap,” is also padrino (patronage) politics—“Matulungin sa mahirap” (Helpful to the poor) (7.8 percent); “Makamahirap/pagtingin sa mahirap” (Pro-poor) (3.7 percent) and “galing sa mahirap” (Came from poverty) (0.7 percent)

The fourth reason, “Tumutulong,” is still about padrino—“Tumutulong sa OFW” (Helps overseas Filipino workers) (6.6 percent) and “Matulungin” (Helpful) (5.4 percent).

So it seems that the way to defeat Noynoy is to change the election frame from a question of character to a contest of who is the best padrino, regardless of record and reputation.

I think the Villar and Estrada camps realize that. That’s why there is a concerted campaign to knock Noynoy off his white horse.

Estrada does not attack Noynoy directly but his campaign manager, writing an article in a newspaper closely associated with him, started a rumor that was picked up by the slimiest practitioners of jukebox journalism.

As for the ethically challenged Villar, his statement that all candidates were the same was followed with an exposé by one of his loyal lieutenants.

Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla alleged that Noynoy Aquino got the SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) rerouted for his family’s benefit. He added that Noynoy’s family overpriced their land. In short, Noynoy was no different from Villar.

SCTEx was a road project between Estrada and the Japanese government. It started during Estrada’s term and was completed under the Arroyo administration. Noynoy had no hand in it.

The difference between the non-role of Noynoy in SCTEx and Villar’s hand in the cookie jar in C-5 is black and white.

The rerouting of C-5 and the overpricing of Villar’s landholdings happened while Villar was chairman of the Senate finance committee. Note that in fairness to Villar, I used “while” instead of “because.”

Noynoy neither had the political power nor the gall to do to SCTEx what Villar did to C5.

Most important of all, Noynoy, unlike Villar, will not run away from an ethics investigation. He is not afraid to testify under oath. He has nothing to hide, nothing to lie about.

The strategy of those lagging behind Noynoy is to run gimmicks and political ads selling themselves as the patron saints of the poor while spreading black lies about Noynoy, his mother and their relatives.

The American journalist Jimmy Breslin once described political campaigns as a season of “speeches and slander, of lies and libel, of life without a conscience.”

The laggards have oodles of money to finance the sort of propaganda that would do Joseph Goebbels proud.

So the question is, what will win the people’s trust and confidence this time around: the politics of honesty and cleanliness, or the politics of patronage and slander?

Slander cannot destroy an honest man—when the flood recedes the rock is there.—Chinese proverb

Pulse Asia just released its latest nationwide survey on the top choices for president. Noynoy Aquino is at 44 percent while Manuel Villar, Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Joseph Estrada are at 19, 13 and 11 percent, respectively. That makes the 2009 election a race for second place.

But that’s only true if honesty and an unblemished reputation remains the horse to ride.

Pulse Asia asked their respondents why they were voting for a particular candidate. The five top reasons cited were: “Hindi kurakot/malinis” (Does not steal/is clean) (21.2 percent); “May nagawa, may magagawa” (Has done a lot/can do a lot) (14 percent); “Para sa mahirap, galing sa mahirap” (Pro-poor/comes from the poor) (12.2 percent); “Tumutulong” (Helps a lot) (12 percent); “Reputasyon ng pamilya” (Family reputation) (4.2 percent).

Looking into the components of each of those five reasons will show why the election frame is still up for grabs.

The first and fifth reasons belong to Noynoy Aquino, obviously.

The second reason,“May nagawa, may magagawa,” belongs to padrino (patron) politicos—Disaster relief (2.7 percent); Other accomplishments (6.1 percent); Nagbigay ng pabahay (Provided housing) (4.9 percent) and one other at 0.4 percent.

The third reason, “Para sa mahirap, galing sa mahirap,” is also padrino (patronage) politics—“Matulungin sa mahirap” (Helpful to the poor) (7.8 percent); “Makamahirap/pagtingin sa mahirap” (Pro-poor) (3.7 percent) and “galing sa mahirap” (Came from poverty) (0.7 percent)

The fourth reason, “Tumutulong,” is still about padrino—“Tumutulong sa OFW” (Helps overseas Filipino workers) (6.6 percent) and “Matulungin” (Helpful) (5.4 percent).

So it seems that the way to defeat Noynoy is to change the election frame from a question of character to a contest of who is the best padrino, regardless of record and reputation.

I think the Villar and Estrada camps realize that. That’s why there is a concerted campaign to knock Noynoy off his white horse.

Estrada does not attack Noynoy directly but his campaign manager, writing an article in a newspaper closely associated with him, started a rumor that was picked up by the slimiest practitioners of jukebox journalism.

As for the ethically challenged Villar, his statement that all candidates were the same was followed with an exposé by one of his loyal lieutenants.

Rep. Crispin “Boying” Remulla alleged that Noynoy Aquino got the SCTEx (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) rerouted for his family’s benefit. He added that Noynoy’s family overpriced their land. In short, Noynoy was no different from Villar.

SCTEx was a road project between Estrada and the Japanese government. It started during Estrada’s term and was completed under the Arroyo administration. Noynoy had no hand in it.

The difference between the non-role of Noynoy in SCTEx and Villar’s hand in the cookie jar in C-5 is black and white.

The rerouting of C-5 and the overpricing of Villar’s landholdings happened while Villar was chairman of the Senate finance committee. Note that in fairness to Villar, I used “while” instead of “because.”

Noynoy neither had the political power nor the gall to do to SCTEx what Villar did to C5.

Most important of all, Noynoy, unlike Villar, will not run away from an ethics investigation. He is not afraid to testify under oath. He has nothing to hide, nothing to lie about.

The strategy of those lagging behind Noynoy is to run gimmicks and political ads selling themselves as the patron saints of the poor while spreading black lies about Noynoy, his mother and their relatives.

The American journalist Jimmy Breslin once described political campaigns as a season of “speeches and slander, of lies and libel, of life without a conscience.”

The laggards have oodles of money to finance the sort of propaganda that would do Joseph Goebbels proud.

So the question is, what will win the people’s trust and confidence this time around: the politics of honesty and cleanliness, or the politics of patronage and slander?

Separation of Church and State In One Sentence

If you want to understand the Principle of the Separation of Church and State, you only need to understand one profound sentence found in the 1987 Philippine Constitution's Bill of Rights:
Taken at face value "the exercise of civil and political rights" covers the entire moral universe that every citizen exists in under the present Constitution. That no religious test shall be required, for the exercise of citizen's rights, clearly defines the relationship between Religion and Government in the form of a PROHIBITION against applying any THEOLOGY to determine whether to allow the exercise of a civil or poliitcal right, such as the right to vote or be elected into office. Indeed all of our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which 1987 calls "security"), all of our civil and political rights may be exercised freely without any requirement to pass some religious test or judgment from Theology--only the Morality represented by the Constitution itself.

The Principle at the very heart of Separation of Church and State is, in my opinion, much easier to see through the lens of the No Religious Test clause, than for example through the Non-Establishment clause. ("No law shall be passed respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.")

In the No Religious Test clause we see clearly defined the relationship between Theology and Morality under the Constitution: namely: NONE.  The Constitution is all Morality but no Theology.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Religious Test Shall Be Required For The Exercise of Civil and Political Rights

The 1987 Constitution's Bill of Rights upholds Freedom of Religion
1987 Article III Section 5. (1) No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

(2) The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed.

(3) No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
The SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is concretely defined in Section 5(3) above--in the form of a clear and unequivocal PROHIBITION against the State putting the exercise of civil and political rights to religious tests.  By this is meant that the State may not appeal to religious faith or religious dogma as a means of adjudging the moral, ethical and legal worthiness of any particular citizen or group of citizens to exercise rights and privileges to be enjoyed by everyone under the Constitution.      

Note the last sentence above which constitutes a clear and unequivocal PROHIBITION against the State's application of any "RELIGIOUS TEST" as a requirement for the exercise of civil or political RIGHTS.  I think the Comelec has brazenly violated this prohibition in a recent ruling on an application to run in the Party List System.

DEAN MARVIC LEONEN (U.P. College of Law) points to Comelec Resolution 09-228 which rejects the Petition for Party List Accreditation of Ang Ladlad, a well-known association of self-described "lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgender" (LGBT)  persons who want to exercise certain civil and poliltical rights under the Party List system and the 1987 Constitution.

However, in its Resolution, the Comelec dismisses the Petition of Ang Ladlad "on moral grounds" stating that the "Petitioner tolerates immorality" in the very definition it gives of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender constituency sought to be represented--

xxx a marginalized and under-represented sector that is particularly disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation and gender identity."
and proceeded to define sexual orientation as that which:
       "xxx refer to a person's capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, andintimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different qender, of the same gender, or more than one gender."
Comelec's judgment that Petitioner tolerates immorality appears to be based on the reading and application of not ONE but TWO scriptural religious TEXTS, one Judeo-Christian and the second Islamic as the Comelec Resolution quotes from both the Christian Bible and the Quran of Islam
"For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet". [Romans 1:26]

"For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women "ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (7.81). "And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!" (7:84) "He said: "0 my Lord! Help Thou me against people who do mischief!" [Quran]

Should this matter ever come before Judicial Review, there will surely be ample reason to ask respondent Comelec to explain the following disposative declaration in its Resolution rejecting Ang Ladlad:

Furthermore, should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith.
Which faith exactly, would OUR FAITH be, the Court should ask the Comelec!

It does not take too much to see in plain view the grave abuse of discretion that the Comelec has just committed, a brazen violation of the Separation of Church and State in which we see the Comelec culpably applying not ONE but TWO religious scriptural tests to deny Ang Ladlad Party List application to run under the Party List system of representation.

Our Constitution upholds Morality, but it can never be based on any Theology or even Theologies!  I think that is the plain meaning of Separation of Church and State.

Hillary Clinton on Peace Talks and the Philippine Constitution

It is no secret that the United States played a major role in the drafting and negotiation of that ill-fated 2008 GRP-MILF Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) through high level consultants in the United States Institute of Peace. We should recall that standing by in Petrajaya, Malaysia last year for the signing of the MOA-AD was no less than Ambassador Kristie Kenney herself.  It was a diplomatic embarrassment, therefore, when the Philippine Supreme Court later rejected and invalidated that MOA-AD as brazenly unconstitutional in its landmark decision, North Cotabato v. GRP Peace Panel.

However, in her remarks at the University of Santo Tomas, Hillary Clinton acknowledged the error of that MOA-AD fiasco, reaffirming the position that whatever political arrangement is ever arrived at between the Govt and the MILF, such arrangements cannot violate the Philippine constitutional and legal framework.  Secretary Clinton also intimated that a "fresh approach" will mark the resumption of peace talks with the MILF next week.

I was quite relieved to hear the US Secretary of State say this. For a while I thought they had lost their marbles over there.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

COMELEC sends Gay politics back into the closet

I do believe that gays have a right to have their voices and concerns heard in the public sphere and not just in the beauty parlor. The latest decision of the COMELEC not to accredit Danton Remoto's Ang Ladlad gay political party sends back an honest discussion of gay rights and their role in Filipino society back into the closet.

What I object to is that the COMELEC has ruled in terms of morality, which I believe it shouldn't have done since its mandate is to protect the ballot and not people's morals. Leave that to the MTRCB, but then again the censors' rights to do that is very questionable.

The COMELEC's Second Division resolved as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer

"“Should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith"

and that Ang Ladlad's petition "must fail" because homosexuality offends the morals and goes against Christian and Muslim faiths.

If there is nothing that offends the non- Establishment of Religion clause in our Constitution, then this must be it.

Section 5 Article III of the Constitution of the Philippines says

"No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious expression and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights."

The COMELEC doesn't want to offend "our faith" Whose faith? Then they define those faiths, Christianity and Islam. In doing so they favour these religions. What about Buddhism which has adherents in the Philippines too and have no problems with gays? Why is Buddhism not being protected? Why not Atheists who don't have a problem with gays? The State must be neutral with regards to religion. That is the spirit of the non-establishment of religion clause.

Furthermore, the COMELEC Second Division ruled

"We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of our people, especially the youth”

Which leads me to ask if gays are carriers of a dangerous contagion. Are gays criminals?

If anyone says "yes" to anyone of those questions then we will have to shout "Seig Heil"

My gay friends say that they will continue with their struggle and as one gay wag remarked

"They would like to protect the youth from gays but fail to realize that many of the youth are gay. So what's there to protect? Hahahahahaha (the gay way of laughing)"

The Philippine ruling elite are indeed stuck in a medieval time warp!

But I wish Danton Remoto sees this not just an instance of discrimination against gays but an attack on the Secular principles on which our liberties lie. I do hope he lodges a test case on religious establishment in this country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Need to Manually Verify the 2010 Automated Elections

On Election Day 2010 we will want to know the answers to the following questions:
1. Did the PRECINCT COUNT OPTICAL SCAN machines count each ballot correctly and prepare accurate Election Returns for each precinct with the 99.995% accuracy required by the Automation Law and the Comelec-Smartmatic contract?

2. Did the PCOS Machines accurately transmit each Election Return to the seven destination canvassing servers?
In order to dispel any doubts in the mind of the public about the overall INTEGRITY of the Automated Election System, I believe it is critical for Comelec to accomplish a 100 percent Quality Assurance Test of all the PCOS machines actually used in the 2010 elections.

This it can do LIVE, On-the-Spot on Election Day 2010, using the Board of Election Inspectors to perform perhaps ONE LAST MANUAL COUNT that will also establish and verify the FIRST AUTOMATED COUNT.

Each Board of Election Inspectors at the Voting Precincts could and should perform a MANUAL VERIFICATION AUDIT of the Election Return produced by their Smartmatic PCOS machine -- by counting the machine's accepted valid ballots and comparing the results with the automatically tallied Election Return. Each BEI can and should also compare their manually determined and PCOS Election Return with the Transmitted ER for their precinct as found in Public Domain Servers that receive ERs from the PCOS machines.

There will be no better opportunity to capture this data on the performance accuracy of the PCOS machine after Election Day itself because only on that day do we have the BEI manpower in the form of those poor public school teachers indentured to Comelec for Election Day duties. They can now play an important and historic role in launching the new election system we are trying out in 2010.

I think it is CRITICAL to the long term CREDIBILITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS and ACCEPTABILITY of the automated election system to the general public that such a manual audit be done at least this first time around in 2010 if not in several election cycles yet to come in 2013, 2016 and beyond.


The Commission on Elections should really be gearing up to conduct such a manual audit and capture this historic data--if only to establish a benchmark of performance for automated elections systems not only for the Philippines but for the world's growing number of functional democracies. It is the only way to prove if the system contracted for, did or did not, meet the 99.995 percent accuracy rating required of it in the law authorizing the Comelec to conduct such an automated election.

This would represent a TRANSPARENT PUBLIC TEST of the automation system as a whole, as implemented on Election Day 2010 -- its hardware, software, firmware and actual system performance. Not some subset or demonstrator system but the whole thing LIVE. Moreover, the poll watchers of various political parties and candidates, as well as citizen and mass media watch dogs can observe the manual audit process and "exercise vigilance" as they say.

The current plan of Comelec is, I believe, a partial random sampling audit involving just a small subset of the PCOS machines, since the Comelec without the BEIs is severely limited in manpower to undertake any serious manual count and comparison with digitally stored data. This PARTIAL AUDIT PLAN of Comelec is woefully inadequate for the purpose of establishing the 99.995% accuracy rating of the AES, and its overall integrity and reliability and would only leave the agency's automated system under a cloud of some doubt and vulnerable to all sorts of criticisms.

A transparent one hundred percent manual audit of the automated election results in May 2010 is the UNAVOIDABLE FIRST STEP towards establishing the automated election system itself.

The right to know

Secrecy is the freedom tyrants dream of.—Bill Moyers

Action for Economic Reforms (AER) is a public-interest organization involved in research and reform advocacy. Last March, AER coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana III wrote a letter to Undersecretary Elmer Hernandez, managing head of the Board of Investments, requesting information that would help AER’s research on fiscal incentives. The research, according to Sta. Ana, was in connection with pending legislation “to streamline and rationalize the incentives systems.”

Sta. Ana asked Hernandez for a list of companies that received fiscal incentives, the sectors to which they belonged, and the types of and equivalent amounts of incentives given to them, specifically the following:

1. Income-tax holiday.

2. Exemption from taxes and duties on imported spare parts.

3. Exemption from wharfage dues and export tax, duty, import and fees.

4. Tax exemption on breeding stocks and genetic materials.

5. Tax credits.

6. Additional deductions from taxable income.

Hernandez replied to Sta. Ana one month later, through Lucita Reyes, executive director, Project Assessment Group.

“We regret to inform you that we cannot provide the data requested given that incentives availed by firms do not form part of general information and are, therefore, considered confidential in nature.”

Kompeeedentchal in naychor? A seeekret?

The government gives tax breaks and other fiscal incentives to certain companies and it can keep the beneficiaries, the type and amount of incentives hidden from the public? Yes!

There is no law that requires government officials to disclose information that the public has a right to know. Even the Supreme Court lamented the absence of such a law.

“It is unfortunate, however, that after almost 20 years from the birth of the 1987 Constitution, there is still no enabling law that provides the mechanics for the compulsory duty of government agencies to disclose information on government transactions.  Hopefully, the desired enabling law will finally see the light of day if and when Congress decides to approve the proposed Freedom of Access to Information Act.” (Chavez v. NFA).

The Supreme Court in Valmonte et al. v. Belmonte also said the right to information is essential to democracy.

“The cornerstone of this republican system of government is delegation of power by the people to the state. In this system, governmental agencies and institutions operate within the limits of the authority conferred by the people. Denied access to information on the inner workings of government, the citizenry can become prey to the whims and caprices of those to whom the power had been delegated.”

The right to information is a pillar of democracy because it supports other rights. Freedom of the press and of speech, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances cannot be properly exercised if the public is kept in the dark about the government’s doings.

The Freedom of Access to Information Act of 2009 (FOIA) will strengthen the principle of the accountability of public officials.

“Unless citizens have the proper information, they cannot hold public officials accountable for anything”  (Supreme Court in Chavez v. Public Estates Authority).

Lawyer Nepomuceno Malaluan, a staunch advocate of the FOIA, explained the urgent need for the law.

“The essence of the bill is to make the constitutional right to know and the policy of full disclosure of transactions involving public interest finally operable. Currently, the right is practically unenforceable. For instance, there is no standard procedure in dealing with information requests. Second, there is no clear law defining coverage. Third, although the Supreme Court said the policy of full public disclosure requires government to disclose certain transactions of public interest without need of request or demand, there is no legal mechanism to do this. Fourth, there are no effective sanctions for the unlawful denial of information so there is no disincentive against violating the right.”

The Freedom of Information Act of 2009 is pending in the Senate. This is the third time such a bill has been brought before that body. An earlier version was not taken up because the Senate was preoccupied with the Estrada impeachment. A later version was derailed when the Committee on Public Information took on the “Hello Garci” hearings. There are no distractions this year. The Senate has no excuse not to pass the law this time around.

Right to Know, Right Now!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

To Run Or Not To Run: The Curious Case of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

One of the questions hovering in the realm of Philippine politics is whether President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will run in next year’s elections.

The issue is being floated around by lawmakers loyal to her, notably Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, who was also responsible for footing the bill of one of the President’s extravagant dinners abroad. So far, he has expressed the idea that the President could either run for Congress, representing her home province Pampanga, or for Vice-President. Today, Suarez asserted that the President, given her supposed experience, would make an excellent Speaker of the House.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the President will soon issue an order for Suarez to shut up, as his sycophancy isn’t doing his patron any favors. Based on the surveys, the President is widely unpopular, and one of the reasons for this is the perception that she has been looking for ways and means in order to stay in power. By putting the spotlight on the issue, Suarez is reminding people why Arroyo shouldn’t be allowed to stay beyond her current term.

Still, some of his assertions have some merit behind them, particularly the notion that the President might run for Congress. The media has been keeping a running total of how many times the President has visited Pampanga this year, giving credence to the possibility of the President’s running there.

As for the Vice-Presidency, I’m not sure how much of an asset she will be to any presidential aspirant, although, if she did decide to throw her hat into the race, she would most likely be paired off with the administration candidate-to-be, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. Such a pair would only highlight Teodoro’s attachment to the President, and would only be a lodestone on his back; all his opponents would have to do is to focus attention on the many scandals of the Arroyo administration. Furthermore, it will strongly suggest that Teodoro is merely the puppet of the President, who will most likely act as an eye over his shoulder, thus emasculating the would-be President.

Another issue that the President will have to hurdle is, if she should run, whether she should step down from her position. If she runs concurrently with her position as President, she will never shake off the belief that she will use her position to win. While it appears clear that there is no legal barrier to this, it is still a grossly unfair advantage, and she will never live that issue down should she win.

From another point, it’s possible that all this speculation is merely a smokescreen in order to hide yet another administration scheme. What that could be escapes me at the moment.

It should be noted that, aside from the occasional pronouncements from Suarez and other loyal lawmakers, there has been little reaction from the opposition regarding Arroyo’s post-Presidential plans. It’s likely that people are taking a wait-and-see attitude to this, which is only right. The President hasn’t categorically stated that she plans to run next year, so, at this point, the whole thing is a non-issue, and will remain so until she actually files her certificate of candidacy. When that happens, we can be sure that the fireworks will go off then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Ghost of FPJ: Beware the Liberal Party?

The ghost of Fernando Poe Jr., or FPJ for short, was reportedly seen by his grave at the Manila North Cemetery on Tuesday, October 27, 2009. The 'apparition' witness asks why FPJ chose to show himself to her. The incident seems to be the first time the man deprived of the 2004 presidential victory "Hello Garci" style made himself visible by his tomb. Could it be that because we are only months away from another opportunity of presidential reckoning, FPJ wants the people to remember? Is Poe Jr., called by many as the genuine 14th President of the Philippines, asking the Filipinos not to vote for all those who conspired to cheat him, hid the real numbers and installed instead the "Hello Garci " perpetrator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Is FPJ asking the people not to vote the parties that operated at either the military/Comelec or congressional canvassing level--Lakas-Kampi and the Liberal Party  (LP) ?

Whether or not the apparition is genuine, or that the "ghost" is really that of FPJ or, for that matter, whether ghosts or spirits of dead people are real, Filipinos should well learn from the lessons of the 2004 presidential elections and proclamation fraud. If the people of the Southeast Asian islands with a blatantly colonial name, i.e., the Philippines, are to emerge not necessarily as one and united, but even just as a race dignified by basic morals of fairness and electoral honesty, they would need to learn from its recent electoral history.

As seen in the GMA-7's "24 Oras" news video footage, an apparition or figure of sorts that looked , moved and dressed like FPJ seemed to have left or passed through the late actor's image on the hanged tarpaulin poster hanging by the wall of his tomb. The incident was captured by the cellphone camera of a woman who visited Poe's tomb. A computer video expert concluded that the footage was either genuine or made by a very technologically sophisticated hoaxer.

Why FPJ could warn us of Lakas-Kampi is obvious. The coalition party is, of course, the party of Arroyo--the machinery that has assured legislative conformity with her unpatriotic agenda and, perhaps more importantly, has primarily squashed all the impeachment attempts against her. Why FPJ would warn the Filipinos about the Liberal Party may not seem so obvious but it probably has all to do with how he got cheated in 2004.

The LP, along with Lakas-Kampi, is thought to be responsible for the congressional dimension of the 2004 presidential poll fraud and cover-up. Making an apparition capturable by a phone camera is possibly FPJ's way of reminding of the electoral injustice done to him and the people. 'Don't vote Lakas-Kampi or LP come May 2010,' could be the message of the ghost of the man cheated of presidential victory "Hello Garci" style.

Of course, one could claim that FPJ is playing partisan politics, and probably wants his followers to give him posthomous justice by voting for Chiz Escudero, the "batang trapo" (says the democratically uncivil "civil society) who took the cudgel of being his spokesperson during the 2004 presidential polls. Then again, Poe Jr. could be campaigning for his friend, former President Joseph Estrada who was, in the first place, responsible for convincing him to run against Arroyo in 2004. These two speculations, of course, are hinged on whether the apparition is genuine and/or whether spirits are real.

Liberal Party Record

Skeptics will definitely not buy the message-of-FPJ-ghost theory. One does not need to believe in apparitions to see that the Liberal Party does not really stand for genuine change, however. The party and its stalwarts ex-Sen. Jovito Salonga and now-presidential contender  Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III have a recent history of disrespect for the Constitution and simply being tolerant, if not actually engaging in immoral or unethical politics.

In Oplan Excelsis/EDSA 2 Coup

First, these party big-names helped installed the Illegitimate, later surveyed to be the "Most Corrupt President in Philippine History." During the height of the anti-Estrada movement back in 2000-2001, Salonga was, of course in the forefront of those wanting Erap to resign or be impeached. Noynoy Aquino was then a Congressman for Tarlac. As recounted by The Daily Tribune's Ninez Cacho-Olivares, the only son of the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino and ex-President Corazon "Cory" Aquino, was among those who hailed the move of then-Speaker Manuel "Manny" Villar to transmit the impeachment complaint to the Senate-even without the benefit of plenary vote.

When things didn't work out to their liking during the Senate impeachment hearings, the LP members joined those who walked out and amassed in EDSA 2 to oust Estrada. Of course, the 2001 coup was "legitimized" by the Davide court's ruling that Joseph Estrada did "constructive resignation" even in the absence of a resignation letter or actual physical incapacity. Still, that novel , never-before-heard SC decision won't take away the fact that it was a coup, the fruition of Plan B of the Oplan Excelsis revealed in October 2000 by The Daily Tribune, which was, in turn, predated by a series of Manila Standard articles on anti-Estrada destabilization efforts during the early part of the same year.

LP's Role in 2004 Poll Cheating/Cover-up

Next, their disloyalty to the Constitution by way of the penchant for going against the people's will was manifested anew during the 2004 elections. Not only did Salonga, et al. avidly campaign for Arroyo but worse, they took part in what the "Hello Garci" tapes would later reveal to be a fraudulent proclamation of the "President-elect."

As described by Daily Tribune's Demaree Raval, this was accomplished when "the leaders of the LP railroaded the national [congressional] canvass." The LP was "in the thick of the cheating" as its leaders simply noted the objections while members of Fernando Poe's camp "were crying themselves hoarse against the fraud" during the congressional canvassing. It should be recalled that LP Sen. Francisco "Kiko" Pangilinan was the chairman of the Joint Congressional Canvassing Committee.

The opposition camp was trying to present evidence of electoral fraud before the committee but they were basically not allowed to. The lawyers, and congressional supporters of FPJ and running mate Loren Legarda were blocked from having select ballot boxes containing contested certificates of canvass or COCs opened. During the canvassing, Pangilinan earned the moniker of "Sen. Noted" because he struck down all objections and arguments to prove electoral fraud by his frequent utterances of the now-infamous word "Noted."

Raval also writes that opposition solons and lawyers were prevented by LP members from even speaking or presenting "the election returns to prove the lie of the manufactured certificates of canvass." He must be referring to the likes of Cong. Butch Abad, LP representative from Batanes, who silenced the voice of those who justly wanted Congress to look into the evidence of presidential poll fraud. Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III, then an LP congressman from Tarlac, might not have actively taken part in railroading the canvass but as journalist Ninez Cacho-Olivares notes, "kept his mouth shut even in the face of massive electoral cheating."

For the flimsy excuse that it would take a long time to study the questioned COCs, the country was deprived of knowing who really won in the 2004 presidential polls. Subsequently, Liberal Party solons led by Senate President Franklin Drilon and Pangilinan, along with other congressional cheats, sealed the canvassing charade when they surreptitiously proclaimed Gloria as the "President-elect" during the wee hours of the June 24, 2004. A break-of-dawn congressional proclamation (earlier, actually: 3:38 am) was unprecedented but it succeeded in preempting any protest or opposition action that could have derailed Arroyo's "proclamation."

In the 2004 deprivation of the Filipinos' right to clean and honest polls, the LP played a crucial role. Arroyo, and players like LP members, thought they got away with the great crime that the "Hello, Garci" expose would later unravel.

Telling "Hello Garci' Tapes

The wiretapped evidence of 2004 electoral fraud (OK, alleged) was first exposed in mid-2005. Former National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Samuel Ong later would soon present the master tapes. The wiretapped records that have come to be known as the "Hello Garci" tapes primarily show the conversations between Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and elections commissioner Virgilio "Garci" Garcillano in connection with operations surrounding the May 11 elections and vote canvassing. The operations revealed by the tapes were designed to cheat Arroyo's way towards her continued hold on power and rob FPJ of electoral victory.

The more telling of the tapes shows a woman believed to be Arroyo asking "Garci" to ensure for her a 1 million lead over FPJ. In another dated May 26, 2004, Arroyo informs Garci that she has "allies" in the Senate, which could allow them to delay "the senatorial canvassing until after the voting on the rules" that night.

Actually, even prior to May 2004, the LP seemed to have already taken the resolve to ensure the victory of Arroyo by hook or by crook. Raval writes on the role of the LP in trying to disqualify FPJ from the 2004 presidential elections:
"Even before the elections, the senators belonging to the LP prevented the report of the Angara Committee establishing the Manapat forgeries on the birth certificate of then presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. and the marriage certificate of FPJ's parents."

Raval tags the LP members responsible for the 2004 proclamation of Arroyo as perhaps the country's "worst politicians," having gone "to bed with her, who prostituted themselves for political patronage, who enjoyed the power that went with being with the lying and the cheating and the stealing, then all too suddenly turned against Gloria" when the "Hello Garci" tapes were exposed.

What the Daily Tribune columnist is basically saying is the LP members who took part in the 2004 electoral fraud are immoral political chameleons who could change color as readily as they cried "Garci!" Obviously, why the LP leaders broke off with Gloria in 2005 was the opportunity to make the people falsely believe that they took no part in cheating FPJ in favor of Arroyo.

On July 8, 2005, practically as soon as the "Hello Garci" expose hugged the headlines, Cory called for a news conference where she asked Arroyo to resign. For a time, she continued her demand for the illegitimate's resignation, with her son Noynoy joining in as a good chunk of LP members bolted out of the alliance with Gloria.

This makes one wonder, however, whether the reason why Salonga, et al joined in the "Hello Garci" condemnation was only to make it falsely appear to the late former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino that during the whole time that they went through the motions of canvassing and proclamation, they were totally unaware of Arroyo's cheating? One could even ask whether the LP did it only so that Noynoy would not be chastised by his mother for doing nothing while FPJ was cheated in the canvassing? Either one of these or Cory herself was part of, or aware of, the 2004 poll fraud and cover-up--something rather unlikely.


As early as around April 2004, this column was already aware that poll fraud will be done to ensure Gloria Arroyo's presidential victory. A person rather close to me, and within the vicinity of power no matter how low-key s/he may be, confided that "dadayain" the presidential elections. I remember him/her adding something like "I hope the country can weather the storm that is sure to come."

Salonga and this person share a rather influential organization, one breeding ground of the influential (clue: University of the Philippines). If this resource person of mine was aware of the operation to doctor the 2004 presidential elections, so were Sen. Salonga and, it should logically follow, the rest of Liberal Party biggies.

My resource person did not actually name Salonga or the Liberal Party as parties to the poll fraud plan. Neither did I ask him/her who exactly were involved because I couldn't accept his/her revelations to be true (s/he also vaguely talked of the advanced parties from Gloria's camp as distributing goodies in areas where poll-related surveys were scheduled to be held). I guess I couldn't believe that "good people" in the government would allow something as blatantly immoral as cheating to happen. Suffice it to say, however, that putting the two and two of "Hello Garci," Sen. "Noted," and my resource person's political/organizational ties and revelations together, a not unclear role of the LP in the 2004 presidential poll fraud emerges.

FPJ Ghost or no FPJ Ghost

Whether or not the FPJ cemetery ghost story is real, the Filipino people need to be wary of the Liberal Party of today, nay, punish the party by not voting their bets. By the way, Kris Aquino reportedly is being visited by the spirit of her mom. The late Cory Aquino, it should be recalled, apologized to former President Estrada for part in the "2001 uprising." Noynoy apparently tried to save face for the Liberal Party by claiming that the apology was a joke but the only compromise he was ultimately able to wrangle from his mom was the statement that it was indeed "said in jest but she's not taking it back."

It seems fairly obvious to anyone sober enough not to be taken by the lies of EDSA 2 that Noynoy Aquino's association with LP make him a 'bad trapo'? Is it possible that Cory's ghost is telling the same message--Noynoy be wary of, rather, get out from, the seemingly politically prostituted party that is LP!?

One of my parents was an avid LP supporter. I don't exactly feel good because I never thought I'll be writing something like this about the party to which Diosdado Macapagal and Ninoy Aquino belonged. Change for the moral good, genuine good change, is what our country needs, however. Besides, isn't the need to ensure "clean and honest elections" one of the chief lessons the Philippines is supposed to have learned from the Marcos experience (when even the bird, bees and the dead supposedly voted in 1969, ultimately allowing Apo Ferdie's 1972 declaration of Martial Law)?


References & Video here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Global Warming and Overpopulation

This is a video of this week's episode of the Explainer with Manolo Quezon on ABSCBN News ANC, kindly to supplied to me (as a surprise gift) by a member of the Facebook Group, The Rizalist Press. Thanks to "La India Bravo!"--

The transcript and program graphics are available to FACEBOOK members here. Or log in on FB Connect below then go to Dean Jorge Bocobo's Profile Page.

Mass Extinction is a Way of Life on Earth

JAMES USSHER, the 16th Century Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland-- in a stupendous article of Faith and Science, Annales Veteris et Novi Tentamenti -- is famous for proving that God created the Universe on 23 October, 4004 BC, based on the Biblical enumeration of the generations of the ancient Israelites back to Adam and Eve and a vast erudition of Bible history. Even Jose Rizal was aware of this work and wrote about it in his epistolary from Dapitan with Pablo Pastells, SJ.

There would be numerous excommunications, book burnings, and burnings-at-the-stake, and lifetime house arrests for obstinate heliocentrists, to enforce the established religious and political correctness of Ussher's arithmetic about the age of the Universe and other related doctrines.

Ironically Ussher had actually sown the seed's of Medieval Religion's humiliation with this numerology. You see, Ussher's conclusion that God created everything all at once at some particular moment in 4004 BC, was a testable proposition about the Age of the Universe and life on earth being just a few thousand years old. It was a scientific hypothesis that could be proven to be false by observable facts.

And it was. The Earth and the Universe are undoubtedly far older than six thousand years old, a fact already suspected in the time of Ussher. Safe in the 21st Century, even here in very Roman Catholic Manila, it is of course easy for us to scoff at the good Archbishop's naive adherence to some Hebrew Creation Myth and First Century Greek Gospel writings. After all, we have had the benefit of five centuries of modern Astronomy, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Paleontology and Archaeology, whose very existence is partly due to the need of curious and persistent persons to see if Ussher was right or wrong. He was wrong.

The facts as we know them today are these. The planet Earth is about four billion years old and orbits an ordinary yellow star, one of some 250 billion stars, belonging to a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way. Life, in the form of microscopic, bacteria, has existed on Earth for at least two billion years, and more complex plant and animal life for at least 500 million years, on both land and sea, as well as the air. There were large predators, the dinosaurs by 200 million years ago. But the human species, Homo sapiens, has been around only for about 130,000 years!

So today, we ask the question:

What was God doing before Man invented Religion?

Some people may prefer to approach this question in a form that James Ussher might have appreciated after being confronted with the evidence that Man and Beasts and Stars were not contemporaneously originated as claimed in Genesis or his own works:

What was God doing during the two billion years of Life on Earth, before He created the species Homo Sapiens, 130,000 years ago?

Cosmic Log points to the NOVA Science Now series from the US Public Broadcasting Service(PBS). An episode on one of my favorite Big Topics-- Mass Extinctions --aired just a few days ago. (Click on the link and watch it for an entertaining summary of the last 250 million years.) I don't know if there will ever be another Carl Sagan on television, but astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson hosts what may be a worthy successor to the fabled Cosmos series in Science Now.

MASS EXTINCTIONS are a way of life and death on the planet Earth (this post lists the five most significant ones of the last half billion years). Even here in the far-off Philippine Archipelago, many have heard of the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago when an asteroid or comet the size of Mount Everest evidently slammed into the earth and triggered a 5000 year long Global Winter as billions of tons of the collision ejecta went into orbit and shut out the sun for a couple of millennia. Fortunately for us, the ancestor of what would become the modern mammals, and Homo Sapiens, survived that mass extinction event, mute but eloquent evidence of which is the ancient 200-mile wide Chixulub Crater in the Gulf of Mexico, discovered in the 1990s as proof of the Impact Extinction theory.
Billions upon billions of living creatures, predators, prey, living, breathing, breeding, bleeding animals, died in an unimaginably horrible Holocaust a quarter of a billion years ago.

One of the most awesome scientific graphs I've ever seen is the one below produced by David Raup and John Sepkoski of the University of Chicago, which diagrammatically shows the history of life on earth during the last 250 million years as revealed by their analysis of the geological fossil record, discussed here in a Lawrence Berkeley Lab Review. Please realize that each peak in the plot below represents a mass extinction event in which 10 to 90 per cent of all life on earth goes extinct. Shown at 65 million years ago is the event that wiped out the dinosaurs. But less known is the mass extinction event 250 million years ago (to the far left of the graph below) in which 90% of all life on earth died and many whole branches of the Tree of Life were cut off. This event, was however, not due to asteroid impact, but may have been a global warming catastrophe involving a gigantic Siberian volcano system in which the oceans lost their oxygen and bacteria took over! Various causes have now been hypothesized for these mass extinction events of the Very Distant Past.

I think this graph shows what God was doing for a quarter of a billion years before he invented Homo sapiens. He was designing millions of different species and families of life forms and calling to life uncountable trillions upon trillions of living creatures--googols of them-- from trilobytes to dinosaurs to mammals to insects to bacteria, to live upon the earth. Then killing them off, as a Great Artificer might take an eraser and obliterate some drawing or sketch.

What was God doing before he invented Man? Perhaps He was just practicing to be Eternity's greatest biocidal Maniac. Or perhaps, it was really Man who created God, around the time Ussher claims vice versa.

Natural selection and Chiz Escudero

“I think natural selection must have greatly rewarded the ability to reassure oneself in a crisis with complete bullshit.”—Bob Harris

Pundits said Francis “Chiz” Escudero committed political suicide when he bolted from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). He may have done that, but I doubt that was what he had in mind.

The NPC had very little to do with his popularity. In fact, it was dragging him down. That’s why many wondered why he did not leave the party sooner.

One of his former party mates explained why he left.

“There may be a simple reason there. He has no funds. The party only committed to bankroll only a fraction of his campaign.”

But Escudero forcefully denied that money had anything to do with his resignation.

“It’s not true. I’m denying it vehemently, that money was an issue, was the reason…. My resignation was a matter of principles and conviction.”

Indeed, money may not be the decisive factor in this election. Escudero believes that, in this election, a candidate who runs on new politics can rely on a huge volunteer base to make up for whatever he lacks in terms of money and party machinery.

He is betting he does not have to spend billions to advertise he is “poor in spirit,” that he does not have to dole out goodies to entice people to show up for his rallies because the voters of 2010 are looking for real change—not for loose change falling out of the pockets of crooks. Chiz is right. Now all he has to do is convince voters he is Noynoy Aquino.

And so Escudero refashioned himself as the people’s candidate, the one whose political party is the Filipino people.

“First, whoever plans to run for president should not belong to any political party. The only party he should belong to is the Philippines and his party mates the Filipino people.”

Escudero is selling a bill of goods. Party-less democracy is an oxymoron. Without political parties, individuals have no vehicle to “collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests.” A personality cult is what you will get when you do away with partisan politics. If that’s what Escudero wants, then he should change his name to Kim and move to North Korea.

Who would be a good running mate for Escudero?

Ping Lacson? But does Ping enjoy constant lecturing?

Loren Legarda? But Escudero is only 40. Loren does not partner with politicians in that age demographic.

Dick Gordon? But if Escudero will have nothing to do with a Manny, why would he partner with a Dick?

At any rate, a running mate is the least of Escudero’s worries. Right now he has to think his way through a dilemma.

If he runs and loses, he may not get a second chance. On the other hand, if he plays it safe, tells himself now is not the time to risk it all, he will disappoint his devoted followers. He will be judged as calculating instead of idealistic, and everything he has said and done to date will be attributed to his overweening ambition.

But Escudero does not have to feel too bad. He can always take refuge in the words of Bob Harris.

SOURCE:Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom