Missing the point

I think a lot of us missed something important in the events of last week. Important because what started it all was an affront to one tenet of democracy.

And no, I am not talking about Secretary Leila de Lima’s show of balls (or arrogance, according to some people.)

No, I am talking about the SC’s decision to “bend over backwards to accommodate the request of petitioners for a TRO,” to quote Justice Sereno’s dissent (PDF link). (She was being gracious; what’s on my mind for the past few days was worse: bend over and spread its legs.)

Why is this important?

First, it is instructive to quote several provisions of our Constitution.



Section 1. The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.


Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.



Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

Let me highlight Section 1, Article III, specifically “nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”


The Supreme Court, by giving cognizance to the TRO petition, and accommodating Gloria Arroyo (for example, when it extended its office hours so that it could accept the required cash bond), had inevitably shown the EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW exists as long as you are part of the 1%.

How many of you had parents, grandparents, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, relatives, and friends who spent a night in jail all because (1) the warrant of arrests were issued close to end of office hours, (2) did not have enough money to post bail (amount of which is not affordable to the 99%), and (3) when money is available, the courts had already closed (even if it wasn’t end of office hours, even for night courts)? This is an example, and I won’t be surprised if this is representative of what’s happening here.

Once we apply different standards of justice depending on one’s stature in society, the rule of law collapses. The so-called constitutional crisis did not begin with de Lima’s defiance, it began with the SC’s bending backwards and spreading its legs. This is the point that most of us missed, and continue to miss.


I’ve realized we had an Occupy Movement opportunity, but we missed it. Maybe because we have been so jaded by the injustice and inequality, but I think it’s time we take a stand and put an end to the 1% getting preferential treatment on justice.


I will not vote (again)?

Here we go again. This was a problem last 2007, and it seems it is a problem again. The Comelec must have some beef against me.

Last 2007, I was afraid I won’t be able to vote, because the Comelec’s precint finder always returned negative when I searched for my precint. However, my hopes were raised when I tried searching for my brother’s precint (as we were both registered in the same barangay). And there it was. And yes, I was able to vote that year.

This year is a bit different. We had our election registration records transferred from Manila to Caloocan last September 2009 (my oldest brother was the only one who wasn’t able to transfer). Since this year will be the first time for us to vote in Caloocan, plus the fact that the Comelec had implemented clustering of precints, I am anxious to find out where our precint will be. Just like in 2007, Comelec’s Precint Finder via Web and SMS returned negative.

Just like back in 2007, I tried locating my brother’s precint. The Precint Finder returned positive, only that the results show the 2007 precint.

Yes, come May 10, I will be joining thousands of clueless people in looking for their names at voters lists posted outside the polling precints. And I am hoping that I am on that list; I am afraid to be disenfranchised.

So, don’t blame me if I am skeptical (if not distrustful) of this automated elections. The recent actions and decisions of Comelec do nothing to lift this skepticism of mine.


I am not voting for Gibo

Too bad for Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, his “galing at talino” is not apparent during his stint as Secretary of National Defense.

I will not deny the general observation about Gibo during those debates and fora – he is articulate, he gave the best answers to difficult questions, and he has the charisma to charm even members of his own gender (and preference). The overall assessment is that Gibo is quite intelligent, knowledgeable in fields that no ordinary politician will delve into. In short,

In an ideal world (and circumstance), Gibo is the best choice in this year’s candidates for the presidency. But this is reality.

Teodoro was Secretary of National Defense (SecDef) from August 2007 (replacing Avelino Cruz, who resigned allegedly due to policy differences with Gloria Arroyo) till he resigned last year to seek the presidency. As SecDef, he had direct supervision over the Armed Forces of the Philippines. How did he fare as SecDef. Patricia Evangelista answers in her Philippine Daily Inquirer column, The guns of Gibo:

In a testimony by Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, husband and brother of many of the victims from the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, Teodoro had warned him repeatedly to curb his intention to challenge the Ampatuans for Maguindanao’s governorship. The Ampatuans, he said, were prone to violence, and Mangudadatu risked his own life by choosing to throw the electoral gauntlet. This is the same Teodoro, by his own admission, who used the Ampatuans as a buffer against the MILF in his term in national defense. His was a choice to pander to the Ampatuans’ demands, choosing to appeal to the Mangudadatus not to exercise their legal and democratic right to run for public office, asking them not to offend his guard dogs in Maguindanao.

And still, when bodies were being scraped out of the foothills of Sitio Masalay, Teodoro bewailed how the massacre “had laid to waste” all the good he did as defense chief, forgetting that his choices as defense chief permitted the massacre to happen. It is odd that he feels himself exempt from responsibility. When asked why he did not disarm the Ampatuans when he could, he claims it would have been difficult to disarm them “given the circumstance,” with kidnappings and tension over the Bangsamoro treaty. It can also be argued, it would have been difficult to disarm them while they remained allies of his own President.

And so fifty seven lives (at least thirty four were journalists) were gone, snuffed out by people who think they can murder people like they swat house flies. A massacre done by people who could have been disarmed by the security forces who was then headed by someone named Gibo Teodoro. He could have ordered the AFP to dismantle all private armies, but he did not. The Ampatuan massacre will stand as strong testimony on Gibo’s galing at talino.

As SecDef, he also headed the National Disaster Coordinating Council, the lead agency when it comes to disaster management and relief. The Wikipedia article for Teodoro has this curious line on the second paragraph of the entry:

He was also known for his contributions to the people after Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines.

Curious, because majority of victims of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) will dispute that assertion. Curious, because maybe that’s the point of whoever wrote that Wikipedia article – his contributions to the man-made disaster that was NDCC’s actions during Ondoy’s inundation. He was head of DND/NDCC since 2007, and Ondoy visited Luzon last year. The NDCC under better leadership could have prepared for disasters by investing in necessary rescue assets. The flooding had caught NDCC with its pants down, and the general assessment was that the NDCC just did not know what to do. In fact, the NDCC had abdicated from its role and instead contented itself spewing statistics. And the most damning testimony of Teodoro’s galing at talino was the private sector’s massive effort in disaster relief, filling in for a non-existent, Teodoro-led NDCC.

And lastly, his statement that he would not actively push for the prosecution of his patron, Gloria Arroyo, is in itself a reason why I am not voting for him. I believe that Arroyo should be prosecuted for all the crimes that she committed in all those years she spent as president. I will not vote for Teodoro precisely because he has already exonerated her.

He might be intelligent, but I cannot see him using that intelligence for the common good. Not before, not now, and not ever.

(Read Gibbs Cadiz’ take on Manny Villar, Noynoy Aquino, and Gibo Teodoro. Read his comments on Gibo; Gibbs has demolished that “galing at talino” shit much better than I could.)


A landmark decision!

The commissioners of Commission on Elections are intellectually brilliant persons who can interpret the laws with such ease, you cannot help but wonder if their brains are actually composed of 20 Intel Core i7 processors.

The Comelec Second Division, headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, with Commissioners Elias Yusoph and Lucenito Tagle as members, has just rejected for the second time the application of Ang Ladlad Party for accreditation in the next year’s party list elections because it “tolerates immorality”.

Yes, you read that right. Our intellectually brilliant commissioners disqualified Ang Ladlad, a party representing gays and lesbians, because (according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer report) the practice of homosexuality offends morals.

Absolutely brilliant! Magnificently well thought of! A decision worthy of making required reading in all law schools in the world! And every bar examinee should be tested about that groundbreaking decision! This decision will establish a lot of precedents, and debunks other precedents!

Let me explain why this decision is brilliant.

* In deciding this case, the Second Division has marvelously forgotten (intentional or not, it does not matter) that the 1987 Philippine Constitution has two provisions regarding religion.

Article II, Section 6 states “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

Article III, Section 5 states “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

By this decision, the Comelec has reaffirmed these two provisions – except that it does not apply to Filipino citizens who are gays and lesbians. Brilliant!

* The decision is based on the Second Division’s interpretation of Article II, Section 13, which states “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”

By this decision, the Second Division has explicitly defined morality as to be sexual in nature. In short, there is nothing immoral in lying! There is nothing immoral in cheating! There is no immorality in stealing! Murder is not immoral! As long as what you are doing is not sexual in nature, it is not immoral!

* This decision should give comfort to parents everywhere – yes, including parents who beat and/or rape their children with impunity – that their children will be safe from moral degradation. This should give comfort to parents who beat and/or molest their children – they are not doing anything immoral! Physical abuse is not immoral since it is not sexual in nature! Molestation is not immoral as long as they are not homosexual!

* The decision liberally quotes from the Bible and the Q’uran, establishing two facts: (1) that religious literature is part of jurisprudence, and (2) that our system of government is really theocracy in bad disguise. The decision encourages the political elite to shed this hideous disguise and be upfront about the theocratic leanings of the State. But don’t panic! As long as you are moral, the Pope will bless you seventy times seven (just make sure you don’t forget to donate)!

* The case at bar is about accrediting a party for participation in the party list elections. The decision cited provisions of the Revised Penal Code in deciding to dismiss Ang Ladlad’s petition. This decision sets the precedent that the Revised Penal Code applies in accrediting party list organizations. This will have a wide repercussion going forward. But don’t panic! As long as you are moral, it should not be an issue if your party is involved in corruption!

With all these reasons, there is no doubt that this decision will withstand the test of time. It is indeed a landmark decision! Volumes will be written praising this decision! And these brilliant and intelligent commissioners will be declared saints soon!

Seriously, you might want to read the decision. Here is the PDF file of the said decision. Here it is online. Read it.



Too bad for Caparas and Alvarez, the conferment of the title is as tainted as the electoral victory of the one who conferred the title.

When the new set of National Artists were announced, I wondered who Magno Carlo J. Caparas was – I thought he was Carlo Caparas, the master of massacre films and bromance films; finding the name of Cecile Alvarez was somehow “off” to me. True enough, some people had started protesting the announcement, and then it was disclosed that four names were inserted (including Caparas’ and Alvarez’s names) in the list of recommendations by NCCA and CCP, and one name was dropped.

Amidst mounting protests by National Artists and other artists, Alvarez and Caparas mounted a defensive through a barrage of media interview and press conferences and mouthfuls and mud slinging, even reducing the discussion to a class war. Even proxies of the two had entered the fray, adding their artistically thought-off explanations and rationalizations. I will not argue anymore about what the defenders had said; the artists have spoken, and I have nothing more to add; besides, I am just a rambling old man.

But what I had learned from this issue is a reinforcement of what I have been observing since 2005 – the slow death of values that has governed our conduct as citizens of this country. To find an honest person nowadays is like playing Contra – you’d need the Konami code to find one. The problem is that being honest does not pay. Our system of values is being corrupted. It will be overthrown soon.

Only a few people can define what delicadeza is. Alvarez’ main defense is that delicadeza does not apply on her (what arrogance) since she was not part of the selection process. Not only she does not understand the concept, she saw herself as beyond it, just like the person who conferred the title – she is beyond the reach of the rule of law by supplanting it with rule by law. No amount of prohibition from applicable laws will deter these two from having what they think are theirs – for Alvarez, the title of National Artist, for Arroyo, the presidency.

There are reasons why there are rules. In this case, it is to make sure that people get the title through merit. With the exercise of presidential prerogative, Caparas’ and Alvarez’s victory is tainted with doubts of political payback. Just like how Hello Garci tainted Arroyo’s electoral victory.


One more reason why I think ours is a monarchy disguised as a republic – the exercise of presidential prerogative sounds like what a monarch will do. Long live the Queen!


Reflections on the life of a true citizen

It is hard to write a eulogy for someone you don’t know personally. That is why I have refrained from writing about Cory Aquino. What I know about her I have read in the papers and heard from people who knew her. But as a student of history, the life of Mrs. Aquino is full of good lessons for us Filipinos to learn. I caught the last part of the necrological services last night on the bus, on my way to Megamall. Two things stood out, and I want to ponder on these two. Let me ponder on the first one.

One thing that is consistently emerging from all the anecdotes, stories, and testimonies being shared by her family and friends is that she never shirked from her duty as a citizen of this country. After burying her husband, she could have retreated back in the United States, let their broken hearts heal, and live as normally as they could. It would have been easier to run away. But she chose to stay. When the clamor for her to run in the snap elections snowballed, she accepted with reluctance.

After her term, she could have chosen to live a private life, enjoying things that I am sure she had missed during her term. But when times were ambiguous and confusing, she chose to make a stand. Her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III related the story when she rushed to Fort Bonifacio during the 2006 Marine standoff. She could have chosen to stay at home and pray, but she went anyway, despite the inherent danger of the situation. When the Hello Garci scandal exploded, she could have chosen not to say anything, but instead she told Gloria Arroyo to resign. And when the NBN-ZTE scandal raged, she could have chosen to remain silent, but instead she supported Jun Lozada.

Someone said that for the former president, passivity and silence are not options for her. This is the single point that hit me, and it is stuck in my mind. I think this is the lesson that we should learn from Mrs. Aquino’s life. Because she cared for our country, she just could not stay silent and let these affront to our nation go on without opposition. She knows her duty as a citizen of this country. This is probably what we need to learn.

One more point. She was said to have exclaimed, “I thought my sacrifices have ended. There is no end to sacrifice.” As I was contemplating on that thought, I could not even imagine what would I do if I were in her situation. Those seven years of separation, seeing your loved one murdered, taking on a dictator, facing seven violent attempts to unseat her, facing the temptation of holding on to power – any weaker individual would have folded. I think I would.

What if I find myself facing such a crucial situation? God, I hope I will have the courage when that time comes.


“The State of the Kingdom is strong”

The Queen, seated on the Throne, commanded the House of Reprehensibles that it was Her Majesty’s pleasure that they attend Her immediately in the Bastusang Pambansa. She then delivered her speech. This is the transcript of the Speech from the Throne.

Our Lord Prime Syncophant (applause), the Right Honorable Lord Chancellor (applause), Our lords and members of the House of Reprehensibles (applause), the Right Honorable MisChief Magistrate (applause):

The past twelve months have seen the damage left by the global financial crisis (applause). Our kingdom was not spared by its ill effects, but with the foresight of my Government (applause), through the taxes we have levied (applause), and all the financial resources that we have spent (applause), my Government is happy to inform my Lords and members of the House that our kingdom remains strong (applause). Our kingdom has weathered the storm (applause). The state of the kingdom is strong (applause).

The vision of my Government is for the kingdom to be ready for the first world in 20 years (applause). Towards the vision, we have made key reforms (applause). My Government’s plan centers on putting people first (applause). Most of all, the plan centers on our hardworking people (applause). New tax measures were imposed on these hardworking people to help pay for my Lords and members of the House of Reprehensibles’ healthcare, new cars, and scholarship grants for their children and their children’s children (applause). Housing policies were designed to make sure that every member of my Lords and members of the House of Reprehensibles’ families live with dignity (applause). Our investment in agriculture aim to recognize the efforts of the landlords as backbones of this kingdom, and to give them more land to feed their families (applause).

Had my Government listened to the hardworking people who criticized my Government’s policies, had my Government not braced ourselves for the crisis that came, had my Government taken the hard road much preferred by hardworking people burdened by taxes, this kingdom would be flat on its back (applause). It would take twice the effort just to get it back again on its feet—to where we are now because my Government took the responsibility and paid nothing to do the right thing (applause). For standing with my Government and doing the right thing, thank you, Parliament (applause).

The strong, sweet and unpopular revenue measures of the past few years have spared our kingdom the worst of the global financial shocks (applause). They gave my Government the resources to stimulate the officials of my Government (applause). These measures brought about the highest increase in revenue allotment given to every level of government officials (applause).

Compared to the past, my Government have built more and expensive infrastructure, including those started by others but left unfinished (applause). The Diosdado Macapagal Highway is a prime example of building more expensive roads (applause).

My Government have built airports of international standard (applause), upgraded domestic airports (applause), built seaports and the Roll On/Roll Off system (applause). The NAIA 3 and MV Princess of the Stars are the flagships of our transportation initiatives (applause). A bill regarding the Enchanted Kingdom Transport Security will be brought forward (applause).

Some say that after this speech, it will be all talk (applause). Sorry, but there’s more talk (applause).

On telecommunications, my Government has ordered the Royal Telecommunications Commission to disregard complaints about dropped calls and vanishing cellphone load (applause).

Today my Government is creating wealth by developing zombies and hospitality businesses as additional engines of growth (applause). Electronics and other manufactured exports rise and fall in accordance with the state of the world economy (applause). But zombies remain resilient (applause). With earnings of $6 billion and employment of 600,000, the zombie phenomenon speaks eloquently of my Government’s competitiveness and productivity (applause). Let us have a Department of ICK (applause).

In the last four years, hospitality business almost doubled (applause). It is now a $5 billion industry (applause).

My Government’s reforms gave my Government the resources to protect my Government, my Government’s finances and my Government’s economy from the worst of shocks that the best in the West failed to anticipate (applause).

They gave my Government the resources to extend welfare support to government officials and enhance their spending power (applause).

For helping my Government raise government salaries through Joint Resolution 4, thank you, Parliament (applause).

Cash handouts give the most immediate relief and produce the widest stimulating effect. Benefiting from this doleout are many of my Government’s officials in this Pantawid Pamilya ng Gobyerno program (applause).

My Government prioritize projects with the same stimulus effects plus long-term contributions to progress of government officials The NAIA 3 and MV Princess of the Stars are the flagships of our transportation initiatives. (applause).

For holding on to their land, landowners managed to displace 700,000 natives more than a million supposed-to-be-beneficiaries of CARP (applause). A bill will be laid before you extending the current CARP (applause) and not to condone the P42 billion land reform liabilities because only 18% of these were paid since 1972 (applause). My father, the former king, emancipated the landlords (applause). Today, my Government will emancipate the land titles from the hands of farmers (applause).

Seven million “entrepreneurs” benefited from P165 billion in microfinance loans that come with high interests(applause).

A hundred thousand benefitted from Emergency Patronage of my Government’s Economic Resiliency Plan (applause).

A million families of government officials benefited from my Government’s housing program (applause).

Because of my Government’s reforms, my Government was able to sell NFA rice at P18.25 per kilo, through importation (applause). Our kingdom is now the world’s biggest importer of rice (applause).

Because of my Government’s reforms, my Government has built kilometers of farm-to-market roads that you cannot find and, together with cronies, watered two million hectares of unfarmed lands (applause).

Recorder conked out, some parts of the speech were not transcribed.

At the end of this speech We shall step down from this stage, but not from the Throne (applause). Our term does not end until We die (applause). Until then, We will fight for the Throne (applause). The Throne comes first (applause). There is much to do as Queen—to the very last day (applause).

A year is a long time (applause). There are many perils that we must still guard against (applause).

A man-made calamity is already upon us, global in scale (applause). As We said earlier, so far We have been spared its worst effects but We cannot be complacent (applause). We only know that my Government have generated more resources on which to draw, and thereby created options We could take (applause). Thank God We did not let the hardworking people stop us (applause).

Meanwhile, We will keep a steady hand on the purse, keeping the money of state in Our pockets, and steer the kingdom to where We please (applause).

Lords and members of the House of Reprehensibles, may Mammon’s blessing rest upon your counsels (applause).


Palace on Chip Tsao Issue: Move On

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tells the Filipino people to move on after the so-called Chip Tsao issue.

In a press statement, Assistant to Deputy Presidential spokesperson Arbet Bernardo said that the Filipino people should take the moral high ground and work for the betterment of the country instead of making noises and protest actions.

“These actions are unproductive and will not contribute to our march towards first world status in 2020,” Bernardo said quoting the President. “Besides, he has already said sorry, and we being Christians should be willing to forgive.”

The President has also issued the following directives:

* The Bureau of Immigration should remove Chip Tsao from the list of unwanted foreigners. “It is counterproductive and goes against our tourism industry policy,” the President says.
* The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office will convince legislators on both Houses to refrain from filing resolutions of protests, and for legislators to concentrate on important pending matters like Charter Change.
* The Department of Labor and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to intensify deployment of overseas Filipino workers, to showcase the talent and skills of Filipinos.

“We have better things to do, and let’s move on to more productive pursuits,” the President said in closing.


Flights and returns

It’s becoming a fad, coming home after running away from controversy.

It all started with the infamous Garci, Virgilio Garcillano. Right after Hello, Garci, he became scarce, and his scarcity made a farce out of our immigration and security organs. Has he ever left the country or he just knows how to hide (we’ll prolly not know, unless the fat cat sings)? Yet when the issue had somewhat been forgotten by the national consciousness (just 2 years), he surfaced, denied everything, and then made an unsuccessful run for the House in 2007. Of course, nothing came out of Hello, Garci.

Then we have Jocjoc, Jocelyn Bolante, former undersecretary of Agriculture Department, a Rotarian like Mike Arroyo. Right after the fertilizer scam was exposed, Jocjoc went scarce, evaded Senate summons and arrest warrant, and flew to the United States. Unluckily for him, the US did something with his visa, so he was detained in Chicago. He filed for asylum, claiming that his life is forfeit here. His plea was denied and was promptly deported back to the country. You saw him wheeled in a wheelchair, and brought out in a stretcher, and made several stretches at the Senate hearings. Nothing came out of it, and he is now comfortably ensconced in his Ayala Alabang home.

And now we have former associates of Senator Panfilo Lacson, Cesar Mancao and Glenn Dumlao, who are tagged in the Dacer-Corbito murder case. Both are about to be extradited from the US, they fled the country when the heat turned uncomfortable. Recent news reports state that Mancao is due to name their former boss as the brains behind the murders. Dumlao might say the same thing, too.

The difference between Garci and Jocjoc on one hand, and Mancao and Dumlao on the other, is that Dumlao and Mancao will definitely face criminal charges when they get back (why then did we have to file extradition for the two). I cannot say the same for Garci and Jocjoc.

There are lessons to be learned in this fad of flights and returns. One, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, and return when the heat has dissipated. Two, crime does not pay, unless you hold the money bag and have the law under your control.