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03-31-2009, 10:53 AM
Dahil Pol Sci ang tinapos ko, bigyan naman natin ng sariling lugar ang usaping politika dito sa Gameface.

Kid Cubao
03-31-2009, 10:55 AM
politics is the struggle for power, and people are drawn to politics because that's where the money is ;D

03-31-2009, 10:56 AM
Dahil kapwa ko taga-UE si Mr Amando Doronila, ito ang pangbuena-mano natin sa usaping politika...

Panlilio bid new Church intervention

By Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:10:00 03/30/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Politics, Churches (organisations), Government

MANILA, Philippines—The clergy is one of the most underrepresented sectors in the formal power structure in the Philippines, although the Catholic Church has wielded considerable unofficial political power and influence in the country since Spanish rule up to the present indigenous Republic.

From this perspective, the movement to draft Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, the Catholic priest “on leave” from his priestly duties, for the presidency in the 2010 national elections represents a precedent-shattering breakthrough in the selection process for the highest office of the land.

In fact, Panlilio broke the barrier separating the exercise by a member of the Catholic clergy of acting as power behind the throne and as holder of state power in 2007 when he was elected governor of Pampanga province on a reformist program.

The public and professional politicians sat up and noticed in disbelief, and they are even more perplexed over how far this movement of installing priests in the precincts of power will go.

If memory serves us right, no Catholic priest has ever occupied elected office since the Philippine Constitution from 1935 mandated the separation of Church and State as a cardinal precept in the relationship between Caesar and God’s representatives in a secular and modern, social order.

After breaching that barrier in 2007, civil society activists have become overly ambitious in their search for alternatives to the predatory “traditional politicians,” so much so they have now scaled their quest to the heights of the presidency and have reached out to the ranks of the clergy from which to recruit presidential contenders.

CBCP warning

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has struck down the movement to draft Panlilio for president, warning that if he plans to run for president, “in view of the separation of the Church and the State, it would be best for him to seek dispensation from the priesthood … so he will be free to engage in partisan politics.”

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, CBCP president, said “dispensation from the priesthood” would mean removing Panlilio’s identity and authority as priest, making him a lay person.

Panlilio has yet to decide on whether to accept the draft from civil society groups who clamor for leadership change from the scandal-ridden current administration.

The bishops are in a quandary as well. They are acutely aware of the interventions of the Church hierarchy to curb the abuses of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos and the high-profile activist role of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin in the dictator’s overthrow in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

Vatican policy

The Vatican under the late Pope John Paul II tried to curb Cardinal Sin’s excessive political interventions. Pope John Paul II’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, has followed this policy of restraining Church intervention in state matters.

In his first encyclical, Benedict XVI amplified this policy. “The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible … She cannot and must not replace the state. Yet at the same time, she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.

“She has to play her part through rational arguments and awaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not the Church.”

Rechanneling clamor

Without appearing to quash the draft for Panlilio, the CBCP sought to rechannel the clamor for alternative leadership change to sectors other than the clergy.

Lagdameo said: “I believe that our country is not lacking in people from civil society who have the gifts of authentic, credible, moral and patriotic leadership.”

Since the installation of elections in the early 1900s as the foundation of Philippine democracy, the recruitment base for national leadership has remained narrow and limited to a small class of educated Filipinos—mostly lawyers, professionals, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, farmers and engineers.

The clergy has recently attracted attention as a recruitment base for alternative leadership because of the widespread public belief that priests hold more stringent ethical values than recruits from the secular sector and are, therefore, expected to be more honest and less abusive than recruits from the traditional sources of candidates for public office.

Panlilio’s administration in Pampanga has been somewhat compromised and tarnished by his acceptance of cash handouts from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s office to governors, congressmen and mayors distributed as assistance to provincial projects but also intended to seek the support of provincial officials against impeachment attempts against her.

Different from Sin

Panlilio’s intervention in politics is starkly different from that of Sin’s. Panlilio holds state power as an executive with powers of disposal of public funds.

Sin intervened in the opaque zone as an informal mediator between his flock in the Church and power holders, protecting the lay people from abuses of secular authorities and mobilizing the masses for political action against an oppressive government.

Sin held no official position and was not the power behind the throne, but power against the throne. This position is what made him as an effective intermediary protecting citizens during difficult relations between the government and the Catholic hierarchy.

The role sought for Panlilio is to capture the pinnacle of state power in the belief that clerics could do a better and more honest job than the so-called “trapos.”


The history of clerics given power by monarchs to fight heresy against the Catholic Church or to restore morality and religious faith and religions in medieval Europe is a frightening one.

Savonarola in Florence and Torquemada, the grand inquisitor of the Holy Spanish Inquisition, to cite a few examples, left an appalling legacy of brutality and cruelty of the risks of putting political power in the hands of holy men, including do-gooders in civil society.

04-01-2009, 09:19 AM
Hango naman mula kay Manolo Quezon ---

Brains without bodies (1)

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:23:00 03/30/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Eleksyon 2010

LAST WEEK I suggested that when confronted with people who want to be president, we should ask, Who has endorsed their candidacy? Candidates presenting themselves for the presidency are like brains, asking to be elected to steer the ship of state, but who don’t have bodies: how then, can they be expected to grasp the tiller? By telepathy?

As brains, they may be brimming over with ideas; they may have access to vast sums of cash; but for a country that expects presidents to solve problems, and with the least pain for the electorate, the whole current setup is a recipe for frustration and disillusionment.

In the case of senators, they are well and truly merely brains, bulging with good ideas and who can float around as parties of one, independent, even isolated—and receive public support for it. But a senator who dared to be a maverick isn’t necessarily the person best suited to be a chief executive who has to get both bureaucrats and politicians to work together.

In the case of non-senators, it’s even more problematic, because while a senator can point to a national mandate, others can’t: at best they can claim a provincial or city mandate; at worst, they can claim to have been given the confidence of a president (and the present dispensation has abandoned all pretenses to competence being a qualification for an appointment, since only loyalty seems to count).

The more established politicians will therefore validate their candidacies by having themselves proclaimed official candidates of whatever political party they happen to belong to by the time the official campaign period starts.

Of the two oldest parties, the Nacionalistas and the Liberals, the problem of their putative candidates, Senators Manny Villar and Mar Roxas, is that their claim to being the standard bearers of their respective parties lies more in inheritance than because of actual competition. Much-diminished because of the abolition of rules that fostered parties as electoral vehicles (such as bloc voting, which had given aspiring senatorial candidates an incentive for campaigning along party lines; without it, the Senate became a money and popularity contest fought ought by individual candidates), and martial law, they still have a kind of residual usefulness in some areas.

Remnants of the old party bailiwicks remain: consider Cavite for the NP, parts of Quezon Province and the Visayas for the LP. There still remain vestiges of the old network of these parties, and whoever claims the mantle of party leadership can say he leads an established national network of some sort.

However, both parties remain cleaved by schism: the NP has never managed to reunite with the NPC, and the Liberals remain split over the decision of some of its stalwarts to defend or reject the President.

There are other parties of equally recent vintage, but they tend to be overshadowed by the preeminence of one family, or one or two political figures, who call all the shots: PMP and Estrada; PDP-Laban with Binay and Pimentel; LDP and Angara; KBL and the Marcoses; and perhaps the most formidable of the new post-Edsa parties, the NPC.

After he failed to assume control of the Nacionalistas, Danding Cojuangco split off and founded the Nationalist People’s Coalition, today far more effective, politically, than the NP; not least because it contains much of the remnants of the old KBL, which in its own time had been meant to be like the Japanese Occupation’s Kalibapi, a movement to absorb the old parties. The KBL practically dissolved after 1986 but had its leaders re-coalesced they could have recaptured the presidency in 1992, if Cojuangco and Imelda Marcos hadn’t split the Loyalist vote; still, the ghost of the KBL animated the Estrada campaign in 1998.

In fact, Cojuangco’s and Marcos’ defeat in 1992—their victory would have been a colossal repudiation of EDSA only six years after it happened—and Ramos’ victory in that year, followed by Estrada’s victory in 1998, a repudiation of the People Power generation of leaders, all point to the way our post-EDSA political system has been more a case of politics as subtraction, and not politics as addition, which is how the late Amang Rodriguez understood it, and how most people today think of it.

Earlier than most, the military tactician in Ramos understood that the new multiparty version of our democracy actually made the creation of large national movements, and the mobilization of large national constituencies, a waste of time and resources. In a multi-candidate race where no majority is required, and where no run-off race takes place, success for a presidential candidate is not to get an overall majority, it’s merely to get slightly more than the next strongest candidate.

Ramos got a smaller percentage of the votes than almost all of the defeated presidential contenders from 1946 to 1969. Even Estrada’s percentage in 1998 was smaller than that of the only non-majority president prior to martial law: Carlos P. Garcia. And Estrada himself, elected to office in the manner of Macapagal in 1961 (he became a Liberal president with a Nacionalista-dominated House), was saddled with a Ramos-era coalition that ended up impeaching him. Macapagal’s daughter at least learned from her father and secured House support and has nurtured it since.

The most successful party of the post-EDSA years, the Lakas-CMD (itself a splinter party from the old Cory-era LDP monolith), is in the curious position of being a large, nationally entrenched party with a gigantic body but no manhood. It’s only been able to resist Kampi being artificially grafted on as its substitute gonads but that isn’t saying much. The party was methodically emasculated, by the President herself, who first sidelined Ramos, then Jose de Venecia Jr.: clip, clip. And 2010 presents it with the dilemma of a body about to lose its brain. (To be continued)

04-03-2009, 09:05 AM
Part II ng naunang sinulat ni Manolo Quezon ---

Brains without bodies (2)

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:13:00 04/01/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections

When the late Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez quipped, “Politics is addition,” he probably never thought that the day would come when politics, in this country, would be about subtraction and even division.

Democracy, we are told, is the rule of the majority (with safeguards in place, of course, to prevent the persecution of minorities, who must always be heard). The president, in particular, as head of state and head of government, is supposed to be the president of all the people. And yet when was the last time we had a president elected by a true majority of the voters?

You can pick one of two options: In 1969, Ferdinand Marcos registered the last real landslide, with 61 percent of the votes. And in 1986, Marcos, according to the Batasan Pambansa [National Legislature], garnered 54 percent of the votes, while the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections had it at a 53 percent for Corazon Aquino, and the country prepared to fight it out in defense of that verdict until the EDSA People Power Revolution overtook the planned civil disobedience campaign.

Since 1987, only one president has been able to claim a landslide win: Joseph Estrada, whose 1998 victory with 39.86 percent of the votes gave him a 2-to-1 lead over his closest opponent, Jose de Venecia Jr. (15.87 percent). And yet in percentage terms — which is the only figure that counts over time, because our population is always increasing — even Estrada’s victory was still smaller than the only plurality victory of the entire Third Republic: Carlos P. Garcia’s 1957 win, when he garnered 41.28 percent of the votes. In that election, Garcia also garnered nearly twice as many votes as his nearest rival, Jose Yulo (27.62 percent). Yet Garcia never claimed, and no one ever attributed to him, a landslide victory.

In 2004, we came close to a revival of the two-candidate presidential race. Setting aside the controversial nature of the final results, with 39.9 percent officially for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and 36.51 percent for Fernando Poe Jr., it’s interesting to speculate what might have happened if the three other candidates (Panfilo Lacson with 10.88 percent, Raul Roco with 6.45 percent, and Eddie Villanueva with 6.16 percent) had somehow united with one or the other of the main contenders. It might have been a landslide one way or another, making efforts to cheat academic, as was widely assumed to have been the case in 1998.

The only way Estrada could have been stopped in 1998 was for four or more of his rivals to unite. Put another way, the only thing that prevented an immediate repudiation of EDSA People Power Revolution just six years after the event, was that Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. (18.7 percent) and Imelda Marcos (10.32 percent) split the anti-EDSA, Marcos loyalist vote. The veterans of Marcos’ KBL party learned their lesson by 1998, uniting behind Estrada, while the EDSA People Power veterans kept on squabbling and fragmenting their votes.

You would think 2010 would be even more of a two-candidate race, with the country dividing on the basis of the current dispensation. But it seems it will be like 1992 all over again, with a swarm of presidential candidates, none of which can claim more than a sliver of the overall electorate.

None of the parties — not even the ruling Lakas-CMD, which dwarfs all the other parties in terms of size and scope — can foster unity because the political strategists have mastered the present rules, which call for the hedged bet and never the big throw of the dice. There is simply no incentive for putting together a truly broad-based, nationwide coalition that can meet the public expectation of being able to govern once elected.

The assumption of the candidates is that the powers and resources of the office are so vast that if you just manage to get the job, you can go shopping for a constituency afterwards. The only problem with this is that a president who has to shop for a constituency is stuck focusing on retail politics for the rest of his term, while a population with no historical memory but a kind of pre-programmed political consciousness instinctively rebels at the idea of a minority president.

We aren’t alone in rebelling at the idea of a president elected merely by a minority. Charles de Gaulle recognized in his countrymen the same tendency to be ungovernable unless a president was armed with a clear, majority mandate; and so, run-off elections were instituted. The Indonesians, sharing many of the same characteristics as us, are said to have taken a cue from our post-EDSA People Power experience and instituted run-off elections to prevent minority presidents being bogged down from day one of their terms. The writers of our Constitution apparently overlooked the possibility that a multiparty system is more suitable to a parliamentary government than a presidential one.

Obviously neither President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo nor Congress is interested in instituting run-off elections. The parties have no incentive to coalesce and divide along the lines of administration and opposition candidates, either. The only one who sees the dangers of this clearly is Estrada, who threatens to run unless the opposition unites: you only have one opportunity to put forward a presidential election as a referendum on the incumbent administration, and a divided opposition essentially guarantees that the administration can anoint — in public, or behind the scenes — its successor.

Everyone assumes that the President’s endorsement would be a “kiss of death” because half the country dislikes her. But beware the lesson of the past few years! A majority of the country opposing the President means nothing when she has the hardcore support of 25 percent of the public, with another 25 percent being more ambivalent but disliking the opposition more than they dislike her. Even if these two blocs fragment, in turn, on the question of the President’s successor, she has enough residual clout (government patronage and dirty tricks aside) to throw chunks of these blocs behind whomever she deems to be an appropriate successor.

04-07-2009, 08:19 AM
Mula kay Ron Nathan ng Inquirer ---

Geithner disappoints

By Ron Nathan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:25:00 02/19/2009

Filed Under: World Financial Crisis, Economic Indicators, Markets & Exchanges

I went into Olaf Pederson’s Chinese Laundry. Behind the counter sat an old man, obviously Chinese. I asked him how he managed to have a Scandinavian name. He said, “When I came to the US many years ago, I had to pass through Immigration. The man in front of me was at 6-foot-3, blond Norwegian and he gave his name as Olaf Pederson. When it came to my turn, I said, SEM TING.”

I saw a woman with a sweatshirt with GUESS on it. So I said, Implants? And she hit me.

An economist advised putting money into safe instruments. So I put mine into a violin case.

Madonna’s nude photograph sold for $37,500. Mine sells for P500.

My wife asked me for a Valentine stimulus package. I bought her a vibrator.

I was unable to write last week because of an eye infection. The eye-drops made everything blurred. Years ago, my teacher used eye-drops and could not keep control of her pupils.

Every month, the previous statistics on job losses are revised upwards, usually by 50,000 to 100,000. This time they broke all records when revising the jobs lost in 2008 from 2.6 million to 3.0 million. Including 600,000 lost in January, this brings the total to 3.6 million; by Easter, it will comfortably exceed 4.0 million. Before the stimulus plan can kick in by yearend, it will reach 4.5 million, especially if the auto industry is forced into bankruptcy. I remain bearish and just bought a solid gold Buddha.

* * *

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was introduced as the greatest mind since Einstein and his speeches were written in a hypermarket. So it was with profound excitement that people all over the world listened to his speech. He spoke eloquently and came over as a highly intelligent, dedicated head of the Treasury. But while his speech was wide-ranging, it was woefully short on details and the Dow index dropped nearly 400 points on disappointment.

Clearly, the plan is so complex that more time is needed to think it through and finalize the details.

Geithner warned that there might be mistakes and that recovery should be measured in years, not months. This warning was repeated last Saturday by President Barack Obama.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits is close to a 26-year high and another large number can be expected for February. More and more companies are laying workers off and running their inventories down. The price of oil is down from $147 a barrel last July to a mere $37. Russia and Iran are suffering and Russia has devalued the ruble by 22 percent in seven months.

Even if the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 represent the peak of the layoffs, unemployment will keep rising because nobody is going to be hiring this year. Results for the last quarter of 2008 were well below analysts’ estimates and the next two quarters are going to be worse so I don’t see any hurry to return to the market. There will always be bear rallies because volatility remains high.

The stimulus package was delayed and eventually just passed with 60 votes. The bill will be passed into law today but nobody thinks it will create 3 to 4 million jobs or provide much short-term relief: 39 percent will be spent on infrastructure and energy-related projects, 34 percent on direct spending including increased unemployment benefits and 27 percent for tax breaks, mainly for individuals. But when each individual receives $400, he or she is likely to use it to pay off credit cards or put it into the bank.

Meanwhile, nothing has been done to stop foreclosures, which are expected to reach 2 million this year. There are plans being drawn up allocating $50 billion from the TARP but it will take time to implement. Meanwhile, house prices continue to decline and the number of houses on the market far exceeds the number of new buyers. The plans may be summed up as too little-too late. There is also a scheme to form an alligator bank, which will open its jaws and swallow all the toxic mortgages. The only suggestion I agree with is to let the private sector join in. The hedge funds still have trillions and are keen to join wealth funds and large private investors in determining the price of these toxic assets. Eventually, it will get sorted out but not in the near term.

China’s initial stimulus package of $584 billion is considerably larger than the US relative to GDP. Since then, there have been additional stimulus packages for the heavy industry sector, textiles, electronics and telecommunications. The banks lent $237 billion of new local currency loans and the money supply has risen 18.8 percent, the fastest pace in more than a year. Merrill Lynch predicts that China will be the first to emerge from the current crisis and will grow 6.6 percent this quarter. China does not have to worry about exports as it has a huge domestic market to satisfy. There will be further rate cuts and a release of more bank deposits to spur the recovery. Shanghai is the best performing marker this year, up 29 percent.

* * *

Dear Readers, it is exactly five years since I joined the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and at 79 I think it is time to give way to someone younger. It has been a happy period and I have made many friends. I hope that you have benefited from my investment advice and been amused by my British humor.

If any reader wishes to contact me, my email is RNbearbull6@gmail.com.

Goodbye and God bless.

04-07-2009, 08:30 AM
Patungkol naman sa ating sistemang pang-edukasyon mula kay Nic Poblador ---

Beyond reform, beyond transformation

By Niceto Poblador
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:29:00 01/25/2009

Filed Under: Education

OVER THE PAST YEARS, there have been numerous attempts at “reforming” basic education in the Philippines.

These include proposals made by the 1991 Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom); the 2000 Presidential Commission on Education Reform (PCER); the 2000 Education for All (EFA) Assessment; the 2006 National Action Plan for Education for All, and the 2006 Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (Besra).

Private sector initiatives include programs launched by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Philippine Business for Education (PBEd). Professional organizations such as Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) also have programs focused on educational reform.

Educational institutions, such as the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines, have their own agendas for educational reform. Recognized scholars, such as former UP president Jose Abueva and UP sociologist Cynthia Bautista, also have come up with their own proposals.

There is general consensus that our educational system is in dire straits, and that it is not up to the daunting challenges of bringing our country into the New Millennium. There is widespread agitation for change.

There is no paucity of great ideas and sound proposals for making our educational system more effective in developing the country’s intellectual capital in order to enhance global competitiveness. It’s time to walk the talk.

But who will do the walking?

Ready for change?

For all the brilliant ideas that have been put forward so far, the inescapable fact is that the responsibility for implementing any reform program rests with the three government agencies responsible for administering our educational system: The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission for Higher Education (CHEd), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

Basic education is under the watch of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The question I pose is: Under present institutional arrangements, are we ready to put in place an effective change strategy for moving our dismal educational system forward?

No. Not at this time.

Sociologist Cynthia Bautista noted in her recent UP Centennial Lecture that most reform proposals that had been put forward were externally generated.

This poses a problem because, as a rule, entrenched government bureaucrats are loath to accept proposals for change, especially if they come from outside sources. Doing so is tacit admission of ineptitude and an indication that they have not been doing a good job. This will not look good on their resumés.

This is not to say that DepEd has been totally remiss in efforts at reforming basic education. For example, it has played a major role in the conceptualization of Besra, and will be its major implementing arm. It has been strongly endorsed by the government, and is enthusiastically pushed by top DepEd officials, as well as by educationists in both public and private sectors.

Strong resistance

Besra will be strongly resisted by the system, and is doomed to fail. Here’s why:

It will be strongly resisted by entrenched elements in the bureaucracy and by elements outside the system whose interests firmly lie on the status quo. Implementing a change of such magnitude will jeopardize sinecures and endanger personal (i.e., financial) interests.

Effective implementation will require empowering lower-level administrators and stakeholders within the community. While decentralization has many advantages, its downsides are easily overlooked. For one thing, it will exacerbate parochialism and turfism, which carry the danger that local issues and concerns will take precedence over the larger interests of society and of the community.

Successful implementation requires extensive networking arrangements and joint, multi-sectoral decision-making. In the past, consortium arrangements and other forms of collaboration and team effort have failed. There are many reasons for this:

1. Absence of a shared commitment to a common goal.

2. Conflicting individual interests.

3. Perceptions of inequity in the sharing of effort, costs and benefits.

4. Exaggerated self-assessment of competence (or lack of it).

5. Differences in status and authority, which hinder meaningful debates and the free flow of information.

Finally, the proposed change cannot be successfully carried out unless existing performance evaluation and compensation systems at DepEd are drastically revised. This is necessary to insure that its full-hearted implementation is seen by all as enough to satisfy their own personal and professional interests. This is a tall order considering that the immediate outcomes of Besra are in the form of investment in intellectual capital, which is largely intangible and difficult to measure.

Final solution

The DepEd is a most unlikely candidate for “transformation” in the Philippine bureaucracy.

In the many years that it has existed, it has calcified into a hidebound, monolithic- and scandal tainted-institution in the classic Weberian mould. It has gone out of synch with the real world and has become largely irrelevant in today’s knowledge-driven environment. Attempts at transforming such a system are likely to entail huge “switching costs” that society can ill afford.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the better strategy is to dismantle the present structure altogether, rebuild it from the ground up, and to nurture it (or another entity) into a more vibrant and effective institution. Like General Motors—and Enron before it—it has ceased to be “competitive” and should be allowed to “go into bankruptcy.”

(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is an active academic and a knowledge management consultant. Feedback at map@globelines.com.ph. For previous articles, please visit map.org.ph)

04-29-2009, 10:05 AM
Ito ang lumalabas na mga bigating tandem para sa halalang pampangulo sa 2010, sang-ayon sa ating mga bubwit sa daigdig ng politika ---

MANNY VILLAR for President, VILMA SANTOS for Vice President___

Ito na siguro ang pinaka-all star na tandem, parehong popular at maraming pera at suporta. Ang ayoko lang dito tiyak na sa 2016 magiging pangulo na si Ate Vi. Ok na sana 'yon, kaya lang tancha ko magiging mas malala pa na FG si Ralph Recto kaysa kay Mike Arroyo.

NOLI DE CASTRO for President, MAR ROXAS for Vice President___

Ang tandem naman na ito ay parang 'yung Erap-Angara tandem nung 1998. Ang mahalagang pagkakaiba nga lang dito ay mas may-makamasang appeal naman si Mr Palengke / Mr Pedicab kaysa kay Ed Angara. Sana lang hindi magpumilit si Roxas na tumakbong pangulo at tinitiyak ko na hindi man lang siya aabot ng pangatlo.

LOREN LEGARDA for President, CHIZ ESCUDERO for Vice President___

Ito na siguro ang tataguriang "glamor tandem" para sa 2010, gawa ng parehas may tila-star appeal lalo na sa mahalagang botong pangkabataan ang dalawang ito. Sina Legarda at Escudero na siguro ang masasabing kandidato ng henerasyon ng YouTube, Facebook at iPod.

05-15-2009, 09:30 AM
Hango sa Inquirer, akda ng dakilang Anak ni Lualhati na si Ginoong Doronila ---

Nobody got away undiminished

By Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:48:00 05/15/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

Sen. Francis Escudero, age 39, is the youngest pretender to Malacañang Palace in 2010. Asked by anchor Tina Monzon-Palma at the ANC Leadership Forum last Monday what was his strongest point in running for the presidency, he said, “Being young.” But under intense grilling in the glare of TV cameras, Escudero wilted. What’s your weakness? “Being young, according to my critics,” he said. Next to being young, what was his weakness, he was asked again. “I was not born into wealth.” So who funded his campaign for the first district of Sorsogon province? He said the biggest contributor to his campaign chest was his party, Danding Cojuangco’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). The rest came from small contributors.

Escudero was reminded that in his statement of assets and liabilities for 2007, he declared P7.5 million worth of assets. He was told that the estimated expense for Senate election was P3 billion. So where did he get the money to finance his Senate bid (he won the second highest vote in the 2007 Senate election)? He said the estimate was exaggerated. The amount “is illegal,” he noted.

The law allows spending P10 per voter (there are 40 million voters). Escudero’s reply begged the issue.

The anchor told him he is known for being fond of vintage cars. Escudero said he bought and sold vintage cars, one at a time, since there is no space for several cars in his home.

He said his wife is a music teacher, and they have two children. He claimed he represented the 18 to 40 age group who wants to have a “say in running the country.” More than half of the country’s voters belong to this generation, but do they identify with him?

While Escudero was quick to answer questions, the anchor did not focus on his record in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Little was asked about the legislation he sponsored in Congress. And this allowed him to convert the forum into a glib exchange in which nothing of substance emerged. Escudero used every opportunity to picture himself as an oppositionist, whose main achievement was to lead impeachment moves against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Is this the alternative that the young generation are looking for in the next presidency? In the end the public saw a big bubble with nothing inside except hot air.

Escudero was among five presidential pretenders who went through public scrutiny of their fitness for the exalted office. The age gap between Escudero and his seniors is rather large: Sen. Richard Gordon is 63, and Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II is 51. Both are experienced.

Gordon can’t catch his breath when recounting his achievements at Subic. Like Escudero, Roxas, Gilbert Teodoro and Ed Panlilio, he is not tainted with corruption—the main issue against the outgoing Arroyo administration. He thinks he is an agent of change and the first thing he aims to do when elected is to use the office as a “bully pulpit” for a “transformational presidency” by example.

As a former investment banker in New York, Roxas knows his economics, but he does not excite the public. In the vulgar political idiom of the day, Roxas “does not connect” with the masses. At the forum, one question asked was whether Roxas was using his engagement with TV celebrity Korina Sanchez to put some sparkle to his dull campaign. This question did not do justice to Roxas who has much expertise to offer. But the forum was a revelation. When the five were asked what contribution President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has done to the country, Roxas said, “She appointed me secretary of trade and industry and supported my policies.” Roxas can be full of himself.

The forum was flawed because the questions were not focused on common issues to mark out their differences. Sparks did not fly.

Panlilio, 55, is a priest who has not yet resigned his ministry to be a full-time public official. Asked if he is prepared for the rough and tumble of Philippine politics, he said he had entered politics because “I have the passion and heart for the country.”

He said the country needs “the best people to run government.” But he was not candid enough to recognize that a Catholic priest running for the presidency for the first time faces conflicts of interest over certain social issues. The ANC anchors did not press him for his position on the extrajudicial executions arising from the counterinsurgency campaign. The killings have generated international pressure from human rights organizations.

Teodoro got off lightly from the grilling when the forum failed to focus on this issue. Among the five, he turned out to be the apologist for the administration when he answered questions on the legacy of the Arroyo administration. He had a long list of the achievements that sounded like a summary of the President’s State of the Nation Address, including the 7.3 percent economic growth in 2007, the low level of unemployment and the infrastructure programs of the government.

Teodoro has wasted the opportunity to use the defense department as a powerful platform for reform of the Armed Forces and stopping the carnage of leftist activists. If there is a sector in which the tendencies of the presidential aspirants may be polarized and defined, it is the candidacy of Teodoro.

By failing to crystallize policy differences among the presidential aspirants, the Leadership Forum was of little help to the public in making choices for an alternative to the outgoing Arroyo administration.

No one among the five presidential aspirants emerged undiminished from the encounter. And we are still in the dark.

05-15-2009, 09:31 AM
Mukhang nagiging masungit mentras nagkaka-edad itong si Doronila. Dapat siguro iyang ANC Forum na 'yan sa UE na lang ginanap imbes na sa Ateneo... ;D

05-18-2009, 10:19 AM
Hango mula kay Manolo Quezon ng Inquirer ---

The Long View
Moral intensification

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:13:00 05/18/2009

Filed Under: Governance, Politics, Judiciary (system of justice), Religion & Belief, Churches (organisations), history

That was a term coined by the present Chief Justice, arising from his belief that the legal system is powerless to address the country’s problems, but that change can be achieved by reversing what he sees as the longstanding moral decay of the country. Religious leaders, according to him, can act as “moral forces” in “redirecting the destiny” of the country.

There is much that is admirable about our present Chief Justice, but I am troubled by a suspicion that at the heart of his public acts is a belief in the benefits of a theocratic state. To me, this is a point of view that is dangerous, because it is fundamentally incompatible with his being a jurist who is tasked with the application of secular law. Fr. Robert Reyes once quoted the Chief Justice as having told him that the “justice system is based on our morality which is based on our spirituality.” This would have shocked many, if not all, of his illustrious predecessors. Hadn’t Chief Justice Jose P. Laurel referred to “justice in its rational and objectively secular conception” in his justly famous definition of social justice?

The core values of our state, degenerate and dysfunctional as it may be, at present, are enshrined in three words from Laurel’s description above: that human progress is served by institutions that are Rational, Objective and Secular.

These core values are quite compatible with religious feeling, and in and of themselves not opposed to sectarian doctrines. It is like the late scientist Stephen Jay Gould’s description of faith and science being subject to non-overlapping magisteria, or authority. As he put it in his famous essay, “The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch clichés, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.”

Does the Chief Justice propose reconciling law and faith, or is he expressing a desire to subordinate human institutions to the dogmas of specific faiths? The Philippines is not alone in having societies in which Mysticism, Sectoral Partisanship and Theocracy are increasingly viewed as the antidotes to corruption, injustice and misery. Should this tendency be embraced? This seems, to me, the dangerous path on which the Chief Justice has embarked.

At the heart of the approach to law and government among people like Laurel, whose thinking and training were informed by the Enlightenment thinking of people like Rizal and Mabini, the conduct of human affairs was more properly approached in a manner that best approximated scientific inquiry and problem-solving, if it was to avoid the risks—of fanaticism, intolerance, inquisition and persecution—that Godliness inflicted on human society in ages past.

Recall that a lesser judge was expelled from the judiciary for believing in magical dwarves: is there any difference in a chief magistrate who preaches as from a pulpit, confusing the robes of office with the robes of priestly, even prophetic, ministry? For the great crime for which the duwende-loving judge was dismissed, was to throw the judiciary in disrepute for the eccentricity of his views, which put in doubt his capacity to render impartial justice. But if these were grounds, there must surely be those of the opinion that a Chief Justice who essentially throws in the towel, declaring the salvation of the nation lies in God and not in Law, has no business being in the courts one moment longer and should, instead, either found a church or become a partisan politician?

A couple of years ago, during a forum held by a foreign chamber of commerce, one Filipino in the audience expressed frustration over the timidity of the hierarchy. I responded by saying that perhaps this was a good thing, as reducing the political influence of the Catholic Church was better for the country in the long run.

On one hand you have the Catholic Church effectively mobilizing to block the Reproductive Health bill, and on the other, mobilizing to keep Land Reform legislation alive. Tolerating the former because of the need for a force capable of mobilizing to promote the latter is a Faustian bargain we shouldn’t even have to consider. It only serves to underline the inherent contradictions when the element of sectarian morality muscles into the political sphere.

Consider the dilemma of the Jesuits whose past election of Romeo Intengan as their leader has enabled him to use the residual prestige of his having been a past Jesuit Provincial to provide the moral and political underpinnings for the liquidation of the Legal Left. That prestige has accorded him a prominence he has deftly used, politically, and conferred impunity because he is immune from scrutiny.

Two sides of the same coin: an Archbishop of Manila who can privately tell the President to resign but shrinks from publicly making the call; a former Jesuit Provincial who helps plot the assassination of suspected communists; both wield a power neither deserve or should even be able to wield.

And this applies to all churches. At the very least, marshaling religion for one side only permits marshaling religion for the other; it does not introduce anything new nor does it offer any real opportunity to break the impasse the country’s been in, politically, since 2005. There is no difference between a politician bragging of Lakas and Kampi’s machinery and those who proclaim the presidency can be obtained by a coalition of Catholic bishops, the Iglesia Ni Cristo and Evangelical Christians.

05-26-2009, 10:12 AM
Hango mula kay John Nery ---

The 20-percent presidency

By John Nery
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:13:00 05/26/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010

When it comes to everyone’s favorite pastime—no, not watching the latest Hayden Kho sex video but handicapping favorites in the equally rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics—everybody has an opinion. But this emphatically does not mean that one man’s guess is as good as any other’s. I say this not simply because I have a vested interest in professional commentary and political journalism; I say this because certain factors are already in play, and opinion that does not take them into account is worse than useless.

Political facts, of course, may be read differently. In the interest of greater accountability, I would like to advance the following five theses, with which I propose to frame my reading of 2010.

Thesis 1. Under our post-Marcos Constitution, we are unlikely to elect a majority president. Not impossible; just improbable. The nearest thing we had to a runaway winner since 1986 was the massively popular Joseph Estrada in 1998, and yet he received only 39 percent of the vote.

In part this is because our Constitution’s new-found conviction in pluralism encourages multiple candidates to contest the highest office—but without providing for a second, run-off election between the top two candidates, as in, say, the French system.

It is true that some presidential elections under the 1935 Constitution featured more than two viable candidates; in 1957, for instance, Jose Yulo (27 percent), Manuel Manahan (20 percent) and Claro M. Recto (8 percent) contested the presidency with Ramon Magsaysay’s successor; Carlos Garcia returned to Malacañang with 41 percent of the vote. But under the 1935 Constitution, the odds and the advantages were stacked in favor of the two dominant political parties.

Since 1986, all presidential elections have been multi-candidate races, with many candidates (all seven in 1992, seven of 10 in 1998, four of five in 2004) heavyweight political personalities. The most famous beneficiary of this pure first-past-the-post system is Fidel Ramos, who won the 1992 elections with only 23 percent of the vote.

Thesis 2. In 2010, and despite the even more prohibitive cost of a presidential campaign, more than two candidates will contest the presidency. In part this is explained by the imperatives of political positioning and the example of mid-term senators running for higher office. Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Panfilo Lacson have very little to lose by running in 2010; they still have three years left in their term, and by throwing their hat in the ring they keep their names current and their 2013 options open. (I should include Sen. Manny Villar in this privileged list, because his Senate term ends in 2013 too, but he is currently threatened with expulsion by a suddenly resolute Senate.)

In part, too, we can look forward to a multi-candidate scramble in 2010 because the system does not only allow multiple candidacies, it positively enables them. Money is the only limit.

Thesis 3. There are two kinds of presidential mandate: the 20-percent presidency and the 40-percent presidency. The inevitable multi-candidate race in 2010 will follow either of two templates: the 1992 elections, which saw four evenly matched candidacies (with two more viable enough to end up with at least 10 percent of the vote), or the 2004 elections, which were marked by two candidacies of relatively equal strength. (With a little help from Garci, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo won with 39 percent of the vote, against Fernando Poe Jr.’s 36 percent.)

It will probably take us until December this year or January next year to define, with any certainty, what kind of mandate will be at stake in the May elections.

But unless the political dynamics change, even the most popular candidate with the best-funded campaign in 2010 can look forward only to a 40-percent mandate at the most, not a majority vote.

Thesis 4. The election prospects of a johnny-come-lately like Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro hinge on a multiple-candidate scenario and a 20-percent mandate. I earlier misread Teodoro’s political affiliation; he is no longer with the Nationalist People’s Coalition but is firmly in President Arroyo’s camp. At any rate: Considering the President’s high negatives, a campaign by somebody like him (or, say, Bayani Fernando) can only succeed if the ratings of the current front-runners (Vice President Noli de Castro, Villar, Legarda, Escudero) continue to cluster together. In other words, somebody like Teodoro who has not yet figured prominently in the surveys can only, realistically, have a shot at becoming president if the threshold to Malacañang is as low as 1992—that is to say, around 20 percent. (Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago fought Ramos down to the wire, and garnered 19 percent of the vote.)

If the 2010 election resolves into an essentially two-person race, Teodoro (or Fernando) stands virtually no chance. At this late stage, a 40-percent goal is out of reach.

I would think the same limits apply to Lacson’s second presidential run, or to Sen. Richard Gordon’s first.

Thesis 5. The ambition of a consistent front-runner like De Castro or Villar posits a 40-percent mandate despite a multiple-candidate scenario. The list of preferred presidential candidates remains thick at the top—partly because survey respondents are allowed to name multiple preferences. The picture should become clearer when the survey questionnaires begin to require a single choice. But for De Castro and Villar, as well as Legarda and Escudero, and perhaps for Sen. Mar Roxas, the template to follow is 2004: convert a high-teens to mid-20’s rating into a 40-percent mandate.

06-07-2009, 02:42 AM
it's very disturbing to hear that the leader of the Sumilao Farmers was murdered last night. very worrisome indeed as it further fuels speculation that what this government really wants is to rile the people further to the point of revolt, giving them reason to declare martial law and do whatever pleases them during this period.

06-07-2009, 06:03 AM

I march with them when they went to mendiola,together with SBC Philo students, and to College of the holy spirit. Talked with them. . . .Had lunch. . . . Oh my. . . Disturbing. . .

06-07-2009, 08:51 AM
The opposition to ChaCha can snowball. Gloria and her allies will regret this and this may result in People Power 3 (or 4?). I for one will join mass demonstrations after a long, long time.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2009, 08:58 AM
Ah yes, mayhem and madness and the method behind them all...

There is an old African adage that goes "This is Africa." It is meant to explain away all of the bad things that happened, continue to happen, and will continue to happen on the Dark Continent. This includes famine, drought, revolution, genocide, tribal warfare, poverty, AIDS, etc-etc. Perhaps we should also start using "This is the Philippines" in that same context.

In Africa they democracy has no chance since Africans culturally and sociologically seem to accept that those in power will essentially look out for themselves at the expense of the ruled. To them as long as those in power still provide a semblance of governance, i.e. there are still bridges, roads, food, work, no matter how dilapidated or decrepit, they will not revolt. "The king is god and if god gives a little drizzle he can keep all the rain."

Sam Miguel
06-09-2009, 08:08 AM
From the Hawks over at the Heritage Foundation ...

Protecting the Protectors by Investing in People and Next-Generation Equipment

by Mackenzie Eaglen
Special Report #54

The U.S. government's primary job is to provide for the common defense. The most important element to protecting vital national interests is the U.S. military, which reinforces America's diplomatic initiatives, acts to deter threats, and, when necessary, fights and wins the nation's wars.

Two components determine a strong military: the quality of its servicemembers and the equipment available to them.

More Cash for Today's Forces

For the past 36 years, America's military has operated as an all-volunteer force. As the commission responsible for recommending a volunteer force observed, forced military service through the draft was "intolerable" when compared with a volunteer system that aligned more distinctly with "our basic national values." Almost four decades later, the verdict is in: The U.S. military is the most highly trained, well-disciplined, and adaptive fighting force the world has ever seen.

But an all-volunteer system doesn't come cheap: You get what you pay for. To recruit and retain the best force possible, as well as care for their families, the military has to provide a competitive array of pay and benefits. Although those who wear our country's uniform can never be fully compensated for their service, there are better ways to pay them.

Sustaining America's all-volunteer force will require new thinking to keep military service attractive to today's skilled and highly mobile workforce. Although the conventional wisdom that those in the military earn less than civilians with comparable experience remains untrue, Congress and the Pentagon must begin to restructure military compensation to be more responsive to America's youth. This should begin with an effort to shift emphasis away from non-cash and deferred benefits--such as health care and retirement--to a package that more heavily favors cash compensation. A cash-based system that places greater freedom in the hands of the individual servicemember will strengthen recruiting and retention and continue to raise the quality of the military as a whole.

Global Military Needs Superior Equipment

A citizen who chooses to become a member of the armed forces deserves the best equipment to succeed. The contract that exists between the volunteer servicemember and the U.S. government must strike a proper balance between meeting the financial and career needs of the troops while also equipping them with what they need to fulfill their missions.

This means more than rifles, ammunition, and trucks; it also includes modern fighters, bombers, helicopters, tanks, destroyers, cruisers, and submarines. When the government asks its citizens to fight and possibly sacrifice for their country, Congress must then equip the forces with whatever is needed to deter potential adversaries and to win on the battlefield. Commanders also gain from highly skilled troops, and those in uniform likewise benefit from government care and a reduced likelihood of battlefield casualties because of their world-class equipment.

Winning Today and Tomorrow

The range of potential missions facing today's military is vast. While winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remains the central mission, regional combatant commanders must also concern themselves with responding to humanitarian disasters, protecting sea lines of communication and free trade, deterring rogue states through a credible extended deterrence posture, and hedging against the future uncertainty that accompanies the rise of powers like China and Russia.

Regrettably, the tools required to sustain all of these efforts have been placed in jeopardy. The collective decisions by Congress and both Democratic and Republican Presidents over the past 15 years have left the U.S. military using equipment that is extremely old and, in many cases, outdated. The average age of major platforms today includes:

* Air Force tactical aircraft: over 20 years old;
* Navy tactical aircraft: over 15 years old;
* Army M-113 vehicles: 18 years old;
* CH-47 Chinook helicopters: nearly 20 years old;
* Ticonderoga-class cruisers: nearly 20 years old;
* P-3C Orion long-range aircraft: almost 25 years old;
* B-1 Lancer bomber: over 20 years old;
* C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft: 21 years old; and
* KC-135 tankers: 44 years old.

President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2010 defense budget ensures that the military's equipment will continue to atrophy and next-generation systems will continue to be delayed. Pledging reform, Obama has proposed to defer or cancel programs that will serve critical, multi-mission roles in the coming decades. These include the F-22 Raptor fifth-generation fighter, the Air Force's new long-range bomber and search and rescue helicopter, the Navy's next-generation cruiser, the Army's wheeled and tracked vehicles, and $1.4 million from the Missile Defense Agency's budget.

Some uniformed observers consider platforms like the F-22 to be "Cold War" systems designed for combat in a different era. It would be fair to remind such critics that, just as the F-22 will provide the U.S. with a platform capable of maintaining air dominance over the next 30 years, the F-15 and F-16 have done so for the past 30 years. During that time--a period spanning both the Cold War and post-Cold War periods and 17 years of patrolling no-fly zones over Iraq--the aircraft were used not just in combat roles, but as forward-deployed assets that could provide extended deterrence everywhere from the American homeland, to the Balkans, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.

How to Protect America's Protectors

Instead of discussing what the military can do without--sacrifices often paid for with life and limb--the real debate over hard choices should focus on how best to pay America's military and ensure that new enlistees retain the same military superiority possessed by today's forces. Assuming that one type of conflict is most likely over the next 20 years and then overinvesting in equipment to match that assumption is dangerous for a global power.

Simply patching up older systems is not enough: We have seen F-15s literally cracking up and falling out of the sky and the entire U.S. Navy surface fleet having to stop operations due to low readiness levels. Robust investment in next-generation systems is needed now so that the troops who sign up in 10 years can also reap the benefits of American military primacy.

Mackenzie M. Eaglen is Senior Policy Analyst for National Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for Inter-national Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

Glad to see that in this day and age there are still some people who do not blanch at the idea of actually improving the military capability of America.

06-18-2009, 01:39 PM
From Ambeth Ocampo...

A re-interpretation of history

By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Independence Day came and went as it does every year. Everyone looked forward to a holiday, and in this case a long weekend, except those who had to participate in June 12 events.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo chose to raise the flag in Mindanao, a welcome break from the traditional ceremonies in Rizal Park. It is unfortunate that news coverage was more focused on Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s speech in Caloocan about the social volcano threatening to erupt rather than the symbolic flag raising in Koronadal that stressed that Mindanao is an indivisible part of the Republic of the Philippines. Some people pined for the traditional parade while the President was focused on jobs, climate change, and the fact that heroism is not some 19th century antique fossilized in our textbooks.

I used to wonder why most of our major heroes come from the late 19th century: from Gomez, Burgos and Zamora in 1872 to Rizal and Bonifacio in 1896 to Aguinaldo, Mabini, Luna and others in 1898. Why was it that our heroes seemed to have known each other or were in a sense a barkada? Surely, we have many more heroes than those highlighted in textbooks, monuments, stamps, street names and the faces on our paper bills. Maybe we should look harder and be inspired by lesser known heroes from outside the capital, like Hizon, Makabulos, Maxilom, Tinio, Kudarat and Leon Kilat.

The late Adrian Cristobal stumped me once with a question: Who is Kalentong? Since I never aspired to be an Ernie Baron all I could remember was that the famous Mandaluyong street was named after General Kalentong who fought during the Philippine Revolution. I did not even know his first name! What did he look like? What battles did he fight? How come he is not in the history textbooks I used? History should be more than just random and obscure facts that figure in TV game shows and school quiz bees. Surely, history can be more relevant than the way it is presented to schoolchildren.

June 12 always reminds me of the declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain that was read from the window of Emilio Aguinaldo’s home in Kawit in 1898. It was short-lived because the United States stepped in and governed the Philippines for the next half century. It was only on July 4, 1946 that the representative of the US president read a document stating that the US “recognizes the independence of the Philippines.” Aguinaldo, who was then present, was quoted as saying, “Ibinalik lang nila ang kalayaang nakamit natin noong 1898 (They just returned the freedom we won in 1898).”

This explains why many Filipino patriots and heroes who continued to struggle for our independence from the US were branded as bandits and need to be rehabilitated in our textbooks. Our patriots were often referred to as “insurrectos” and our struggle belittled as the “Philippine Insurrection” rather than the Philippine-American War.

It was only in 1999 that the US Library of Congress changed its bibliographic classification of materials from Philippine Insurrection to Philippine-American War. This may seem like an insignificant change, but if you know the true meaning of the terms you will realize that an insurrection is merely an uprising against an established government. The Filipino struggle for freedom was downplayed as an insurrection, because to use the correct term “war” would have described a conflict between two countries.

“Philippine-American War” was not a convenient term during America’s expansion in Asia. Thus, when all the archival records of that struggle were returned to Manila from Washington, this vast archive was known as the “PIR” or the “Philippine Insurgent Records.” A decade ago this record group now in the National Library of the Philippines was renamed “PRR” or “Philippine Revolutionary Records.” Is this a simple change in name? Is it relevant?

The change from “Philippine Insurrection” to “Philippine-American War” not only acknowledges that we had freed ourselves from Spain in 1898, that we established a republic in 1899, complete with a Congress and Constitution, the first in Southeast Asia. The change in name, a change in viewpoint, a re-interpretation of our history, from a history written by foreigners to one that is written by Filipinos for Filipinos.

This also puts in context the executive order issued by President Diosdado Macapagal that moved our Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, pushing our short memories back from 1946 to 1898.

Independence Day should remind us not just of Kawit on June 12, 1898 but of other events before the declaration going maybe as far back as Lapu-Lapu’s victory in Mactan in 1521. Perhaps Independence Day should also go forward to help us remember the World War II and even Edsa 1 and Edsa 2.

I used to be guilty of commemorating June 12 by waking up late and spending the day in the mall. This year I forced myself to remember what the holiday is all about

Sam Miguel
07-16-2009, 09:45 AM
A little something from the last Pinko standing, and here I thought every one with a bleeding heart was now in the White House ...


Robert McNamara’s Second Vietnam

By Walden Bello
First Posted 20:26:00 07/10/2009

Filed Under: War, People, history

The stylized view of Robert McNamara, who passed away a few days ago, is that after serving as the chief engineer of the disastrous US war in Vietnam, he went on, in 1968, to serve as president of the World Bank, seeking to salve his troubled conscience by delivering development assistance to poor countries.

The reality is, as usual, more complex.

Development from Above?

As president of the Bank, the world’s premier channel for multilateral aid, McNamara did quadruple the institution’s lending portfolio to $12 billion. The key beneficiaries, however, were authoritarian dictatorships. Indeed, the rise to hegemony of authoritarian regimes in the developing world cannot be separated from the massive funding that the World Bank under McNamara provided them. By the late seventies, five of the top seven recipients of World Bank aid were military, presidential-military, or military-controlled regimes: Indonesia, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, and the Philippines.

Why did the Bank under McNamara feel a special affinity to military-dominated regimes? A great part of the reason stems from McNamara’s own background. He was one of the prototypes of the “technocrat,” a term coined in the early sixties to refer to the seemingly apolitical practitioner of the science of political and economic management.

As chief executive of the Ford Motor Company, then head of the Defense Department, McNamara ran organizations that were hierarchical and non-democratic in structure.

Not surprisingly, he was susceptible to the rhetoric of authoritarian regimes that promised to sanitize the political arena in order, according to them, to allow economic managers the space to modernize the country.

The Marcos Connection

One of the people who most successfully cultivated the image of being engaged in a process of bringing “development from above” was Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who imposed martial law in 1972 in order, in his words, to “break the democratic deadlock” that had become a barrier to development.

“All that people ask,” Marcos explained, “is some kind of authority that can enforce the simple law of civil society. Only an authoritarian system will be able to carry forth the mass consent and to exercise the authority necessary to implement new values, measures, and sacrifices.”

Skillfully deploying a cadre of technocrats that included Alejandro Melchor and Cesar Virata to impress him, Marcos won McNamara over to backing his regime in a major way.

The country was upgraded to what the Bank called a “country of concentration.” Between 1950 and 1972, the Philippines received a meager $326 million in bank assistance.

In contrast, between 1973 and 1981, more than $2.6 billion was funneled into the country. Whereas prior to martial law, the Philippines ranked about thirtieth among recipients of Bank loans, by 1980 it placed eighth among 113 developing countries.

In return for this massive increase in aid, the Bank was given carte blanche to forge a comprehensive economic development plan for the Philippines. The two pillars of the strategy were “rural development” and “export oriented industrialization.”

Containing the Countryside

“Rural development” was the Bank’s response to the agricultural crisis. The centerpiece of the strategy was increasing the productivity of small farmers through the delivery of “technological packages” and upgrading agricultural support services like credit systems.

Rural development, however, had implications that went beyond improved efficiency.

As McNamara explained to the Bank’s Board of Governors, the strategy would “put the emphasis not on redistribution of income and wealth – as justified as that may be in our member countries – but rather on increasing the productivity of the poor, thereby providing for an equitable sharing in the benefits of growth.”

In short, rural development was partly counterinsurgency, directed at defusing the appeal of the revolutionary movement among the restive rural masses. It was, as one development specialist close to the Bank described it, “defensive modernization” which if successful, will create a smallholder sector closely integrated with the national economy.

Bank projects will encourage subsistence farmers to become small-scale market producers. With economic ties to other sectors, the farmers will be loath to link their interests to those not yet modernized and will hesitate to disrupt the national economy for fear of losing their own markets.

Export-oriented Industrialization

When it came to industry, McNamara pushed Marcos and other World Bank clients to “turn their manufacturing enterprises away from the relatively small markets associated with import substitution toward the much larger opportunities flowing from export promotion.”

Quotas were to be eliminated and tariffs brought down to expose protected local industries to the winds of international competition; exporters were to be given incentives; export processing zones were to be set up; and wages were to be kept low to attract foreign investors.

A plan by Marcos’ more nationalistic technocrats to set up “11 big industrial projects,” including an integrated steel industry and a petrochemical complex, that would serve as the strategic industrial core was shot down by the Bank as not in line with export promotion.

As in the case with rural development, there was a social logic to export-oriented industrialization. Persisting in industrialization based on the internal market would have meant having to undertake income redistribution in order to expand the market necessary to sustain it, a move that was not welcomed by the local elite.

By hitching the industrialization process to export markets instead, the Bank broke the link between industrialization and domestic income redistribution, but at the cost of intensifying class conflict owing to the necessity of keeping wages low to make one’s exports competitive.

The World Bank vision was grand, but implementation of a project that favored foreign interests and the traditional elites met mass resistance. It was dogged as well by corruption, cronyism, incompetence, and when it came to land reform, lack of political will.

Then there was the special problem of Imelda Marcos, who wanted to corner more and more World Bank money for her projects.

“Mrs. Marcos,” one Bank bureaucrat wrote in a briefing paper for McNamara, “has identified herself with a few showcase projects that we consider ineffective and which are a bit of a joke among knowledgeable Filipinos.”

Crisis and the Advent of Structural Adjustment

By the early 1980’s, the World Bank program was floundering, prompting management to commission political risk analyst William Ascher to assess the situation.

Ascher’s findings were grim. The Marcos regime was marked by “increasing precariousness” and “the World Bank’s imprimatur on the industrial program runs the risk of drawing criticism of the Bank as the servant of multinational corporations and particularly of US economic imperialism.”

In desperate effort to salvage a deteriorating situation, the Bank forced Marcos to appoint a cabinet of technocrats headed by Prime Minister Cesar Virata, its most trusted agent in the country.

But the cure that Virata and company administered was worse than the disease.

The country was subjected, along with only four other countries, to an experimental Bank program called structural adjustment that involved the comprehensive liberalization and deregulation of the economy.

The program, one of McNamara’s last innovations before he retired in 1981, sought to fully expose developing economies to international market forces in order make them more efficient.

In the Philippines, adjustment entailed bringing down the effective rate of protection for manufacturing from 44 to 20 percent. Instead of invigorating the economy, however, this shock liberalization combined with the international recession of the early eighties to bring about deep economic contraction in 1983 to 1986.

Indeed, structural adjustment led not only to deindustrialization; according to one study, it also created so much unemployment that migration patterns changed drastically. The large migration flows to Manila declined, and most migrants could turn only to open access forests, watersheds, and artisanal fisheries. Thus the major environmental effect of the economic crisis was overexploitation of these vulnerable resources.

Adjustment led to a decade of stagnation from which the country never really recovered, even as its neighbors, who were smart enough to avoid being saddled with the program, were registering 6 to 10 per cent growth rates in 1985-1995.

Familiar Ending

Yet there was one unintended benefit for the country: the economic chaos structural adjustment provoked was one of the key factors that brought about the ouster of Marcos through a combined civil-military uprising in February 1986.

By that time, McNamara had been out of the Bank for five years. Ensconced in retirement, he must, however, have seen parallels between the last US helicopters leaving Saigon in 1975 and Marcos being transported to exile in Hawaii in a US aircraft in 1986.

The Philippines was McNamara’s second Vietnam, and like the first, it was a memory the once celebrated whiz kid of the Kennedy administration would probably have preferred to bury.

*Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines. He is also a retired professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based analysis and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South. He is the author or co-author of 15 books, including the Marcos era classic Development Debacle: the World Bank in the Philippines (San Francisco: Food First, 1982).

08-04-2009, 10:19 AM
From John Nery of the Inquirer...


How do we know she wasn’t a saint?

By John Nery
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:41:00 08/04/2009

In a balanced piece he wrote for Global Post, colleague and good friend Caloy Conde cast the extraordinary reaction to the death of Cory Aquino in religious terms. “She was the closest the Philippines ever had to a living saint. And when she died on Saturday, from colon cancer at the age of 76, Filipinos grieved as though they had just lost one.”

I can readily agree with the second assertion; the first, however, needs qualifying. Surely we have had living saints before, in the sense that Caloy described and that Cory would have understood: a person with a saintly reputation. (My own list would include two exemplary religious three centuries apart: Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, the founder of the RVM Sisters, and Benigno Dagani, a Jesuit missionary in Mindanao.)

The core assumption behind Caloy’s use of the phrase, as I understand it, is perception: Cory was perceived by many to have the qualities of a saint. This emphasis on wide reputation makes sense, in the light of an intriguing note I also read on Facebook, readily dismissing the possibility that Cory was a saint.

How do we know she wasn’t?

I am not about to begin a cause for Cory’s canonization (the new rules stipulate a waiting period of “at least five years” after the death). I am certainly no expert on saints, my perspective merely being that of an ordinary layman. But how do we know that Cory was not, in fact, a saint?

Before I answer my own question, let me introduce a passage from a column written the day Cory died by another colleague and friend, Patricia Evangelista. “I write this to celebrate a hero, not a saint. Saints are touched by the hand of God, they do no wrong, they are faultless, full of the light of heaven—but they belong behind glass cases, painted eyes lit by Christmas lights, of little use in a country where every man is a sinner because he lives. Heroes make themselves. They are human, their faults are their own, and their extraordinariness is not in their perfection, but in their struggle.”

I do not think that Pat meant to say that Cory was no saint; only that she preferred to write about her as a hero. My interest is in the assumption Pat brings to her argument: that saintliness is perfection. If the people the Catholic Church comes to canonize did “no wrong,” were “faultless” and “full of the light of heaven,” then Pat would be right: they would really be “of little use” to sinners like us. But who says saintliness is perfection?

The irrepressible Teresa of Avila, a born builder who could not keep her opinions to herself; the avid Augustine, who famously prayed for “chastity, but not yet”; the disputatious Paul, who wrestled with the demon of self-righteousness; the impulsive Peter, who in his impulsiveness denied Christ thrice—the roll of saints is a record of the very struggle that Pat sees in heroes: persons “making themselves,” who “are human,” whose “faults are their own,” and yet who are able to fashion “extraordinariness” out of their “struggle.”

In other words, she offers us a false choice, between perfect saint and struggling hero.

If saintliness were perfection, then saints would be useless to the Church. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read: “By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.” How can saints be models if their experience is (to use Pat’s rhetorical pairing) one of perfection, not of struggle? Morality is nothing if it isn’t pragmatic—that is, concerned with the nitty-gritty of real life.

Perhaps the real reason Pat considers “hero” more appropriate to describe Cory with than “saint” can be found at the start of her compelling column. Pat adverts to the Hacienda Luisita killings in 2005: “I know how many men died during the massacre in 2005, know how the Aquino administration failed to give their farmers their due, know how much can be laid at the feet of a dead President and her family. I had thought it would be difficult to write this today, knowing what I know of Hacienda Luisita, looking over old interviews with Federico Laza, the father who saw his son shot before his eyes.”

Again, I do not think that Pat meant to say that the devout Cory was only a hero; only that it was difficult to think of her as a saint.

But how much of the crisis in Luisita, exactly, can be laid at the feet of Cory? The note on Facebook I read also implied that, because there was both good and bad in Cory’s presidency, the bad mostly having to do with her perceived failure to transcend class interests, she could not be a saint.

There is a temptation to damn Cory for her wealth—as though it were impossible for the rich to become saints. That would impoverish the Church (poor pun intended), for it would then have to do without Thomas Aquinas, or Francis of Assisi, or Francis Borgia.

My point: Any talk of saintliness would have to take into account the Church’s own rules, and Cory’s interior life.

In the end, that’s what we are left with: abundant evidence of the democratic icon’s profound spiritual life—the constant prayer, the simplicity of faith that showed itself in the way she related to people, the unwavering conviction that fate was God’s own, sometimes inscrutable will.

08-04-2009, 10:29 AM
From Amando Doronila of the Inquirer...


Citizen Cory Aquino Crosses Over into History

By Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Citizen Cory Aquino crossed over into the realm of history quietly in the early hours of Saturday. Her son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, announced that his mother died “peacefully” after enduring 16 months of excruciating pain from colon cancer with great dignity.

The Aquino family declined a Malacañang offer of a state funeral. Noynoy Aquino said it was his mother’s wish to have a private funeral, adding that she had been a “private citizen since stepping down” from power in 1992.

She shed power cleanly, without any second thoughts of remaining in office any second longer than her constitutional term. The manner in which she died sent the message: “My time is up … It’s time to go quietly.”

That has not been the case with some of Cory’s successors who have schemed for ways to extend their constitutional term limits.

In death, Cory reminded the nation that the 1987 Constitution still remained the fundamental legal architecture of the democratic system that she reestablished, that transitions of power and term limits are still governed by the fundamental law of the land, and that they are under threat and have to be respected and protected.

The wish for a private funeral shafted the man whom she deposed in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution and whose family has craved for his remains to be buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani with full state honors.

But events have often played cruel jokes on men or women who have delusions of greatness by denying them their fondest wish.

Full of ironies

The spontaneous and unsolicited tributes that followed her death are full of ironies—the most sublime of which is the tribute paid by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Military camps across the country reverberated with volleys of cannon fire from sunrise to sunset on Saturday as the AFP paid their former Commander in Chief the highest military honor and memorial services.

The honors failed to mask the fact that during the first three years of Cory’s presidency, her administration was threatened by at least six coup attempts staged by rebellious soldiers who tried to dislocate the fragile democracy she had restored. They also sought to tear apart the 1987 Constitution that formally replaced the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

Greatest legacy

The universal tribute to Cory acknowledges that her greatest legacy is the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

This is best articulated by US President Barack Obama, who said Cory “played a crucial role in Philippine history,” moving the country to democratic rule through her nonviolent people power movement.

“Her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation,” Obama said.

It is not sufficiently appreciated that the most defining moment of Cory’s restoration of Philippine democracy occurred on Feb. 25, 1986, when she took her oath of office in Club Filipino, a civilian venue in Green Hills, San Juan, at the height of the People Power Revolution. The oath-taking took place hours before Marcos fled to Hawaii.

Club Filipino or Camp Crame

Before we forget the long-term importance of that oath-taking, it should never be forgotten that Cory arrived at Club Filipino two hours late for the oath-taking because of an impasse in crucial negotiations over the venue of the oath-taking with the military leaders, who had defected from the Marcos regime after the outbreak of the military mutiny at Camp Aguinaldo on Feb. 22.

The generals led by Marcos’ defense minister, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, chief of the Philippine Constabulary, were appalled by Cory’s announcement that she intended to take her oath at Club Filipino, instead of at Camp Crame, the center of the rebellion against Marcos and also the headquarters of Ramos’ Constabulary.

The military leaders, who were making their last stand at Camp Crame against Marcos’ troops, had wanted her to take her oath at Camp Crame. They claimed that Club Filipino was a security nightmare as it was within the range of mortar fire of Marcos loyalists.
The military leaders offered to fly her to the camp from her home to ensure her safety.

Supremacy of civilian rule

Cory saw in this offer an issue with a fundamental implication for the supremacy of civilian rule in a restored democracy. She emphatically rejected the offer.

She told the generals: “Camp Came was the first place where Ninoy, where every political detainee was brought. Filipinos once lived in dread of being taken there … The second thing, is, I have already told the people I would be at Club Filipino … I chose it because it is a neutral place. And I absolutely refuse to take a helicopter.”

That singular decision defined the character of the restoration of Philippine democracy. It stamped clearly her political vision of the post-Marcos democracy.

Had Cory not resisted the browbeating by the military leaders, it would have changed the character of the restored democracy. It would have laid the foundation of a military-dominated regime after Marcos.

Intuitive political instincts

In rejecting the military plan, Cory was guided by her intuitive political instincts.

As a consequence of the rejection of the Camp Crame plan, disgruntled military leaders who had felt that they had been robbed of the fruits of their rebellion by the civilian leadership, staged a number of coup attempts to seize power.

The coups introduced a period of political instability that wiped out the dramatic gains in economic growth fostered by a fresh leadership change and the advent of an honest government.


During the People Power Revolution, Cory was clear-sighted in her vision of the post-Marcos government. The goal of the People Power Revolution was restoration of democracy.

During her presidency, Cory was criticized for her unflinching devotion to democratic restoration. She has already come under growing criticism over her neglect of or indifference to social and agrarian reforms.

But that issue is not the focus of this article. It will be revisited in a comprehensive assessment of the Cory presidency.

Kid Cubao
08-04-2009, 10:51 AM
para sa akin, cory aquino's greatest achievement was holding on to power. for those too young to remember, the coup attempts were quite unnerving. because i live in the cubao area, my place was within spitting distance to camp aguinaldo, kaya dumadagundong sa bahay namin pag nagkakabombahan sa kampo. dahil dun, madalas kaming maipit sa crossfire ng RAM at government soldiers, and at the height of the bloody 1989 coup, my family seriously considered evacuating to montalban, rizal, where we had a farmhouse. good thing president aquino was able to hold on after then major general pong biazon, the commander of the philippine marines at the time, was able to rid makati of the freeloaders that occupied the intercon and helped themselves to its food and beverage section for almost half a month. the final blows, however, came when two US F-16 fighter planes swooped down on known RAM lairs in makati, manila, and quezon city in what has been called "persuasion flights."

astig si biazon nung panahong yon: he was both field commander and armed combatant.

Sam Miguel
08-05-2009, 02:08 AM
^^^ Pong Biazon eventually went on to become the first Marine Commandant and last 2-star general to be named Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

08-08-2009, 09:39 AM
From Inquirer News - - -

Morato joins Nat’l Artists Awards all-out War

By Jerry E. Esplanada, Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:45:00 08/08/2009

MANILA, Philippines — The controversy over two National Artists named by Malacañang shows that “so much falsehood, insincerity and hypocrisy have infected our culture,” former censors chief Manuel Morato said Friday.

It is “indicative of the culture of hatred that is so embedded in our society today,” Morato said in the course of lamenting the violent reactions to the Palace’s award of the title to his friends Carlo J. Caparas and Cecile Guidote Alvarez.

“Even some members of our Catholic Church are guilty of it,” said Morato, also a former chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and a defeated senatorial candidate in the 1992 and 2001 elections.

At a “necrological service” for the award—a protest action held Friday afternoon and attended by the daughters of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Imee and Irene—four National Artists “buried” their gold medallions to protest what they said was a mockery of the recognition given to exceptional Filipino artists.

National Artists for Literature Virgilio Almario and Bienvenido Lumbera vowed not to wear the medallions until President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recalls the title she conferred on Caparas, a komiks writer and film director, and Alvarez, the executive director of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), which oversees the grant of the award together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

“We want to show our disgust. We will not use our medallion until this issue is settled,” Almario told the Inquirer.

Said Lumbera: “It’s really frustrating how some people like [Ms Arroyo] disregard the real essence of the award.”

National Artists for Visual Arts Benedicto “BenCab” Cabrera and Arturo Luz also laid their medallions to rest in a symbolic funeral ceremony in front of the CCP in Pasay City.

Also in attendance were National Artists Napoleon Abueva, Salvador Bernal and Eddie Romero.

An insult

Singer Celeste Legaspi, whose father Cesar Legaspi was a National Artist for Visual Arts, said bestowing the title on Caparas was “an insult to the memory” of her father.

She pointed out that Caparas did not even know how to draw or paint.

But Caparas and Alvarez continued to lash at their critics.

At a news conference at the NCCA office in Intramuros, Manila, Caparas assailed his “elitist” critics for belittling his body of work, saying a smooth face and a high education were not necessary to be a National Artist.

He reiterated that he did not ask for the award, adding: “Those not chosen this year should wait for their turn.” Caparas’ wife, film producer Donna Villa, assailed what she called “below-the-belt criticisms by some vicious sectoral artists.”

“If it’s a member of their clique that was chosen, it’s OK by them. If not, they criticize the awardee. It’s really unfair,” Villa said.

Alvarez, Ms Arroyo’s adviser on culture, said she “did not lobby for the award,” contrary to claims by some of her critics.

She denied that the award was “a political gift” from the President. Alvarez also said that “although I’m the NCCA executive director, I’m not part of the selection process.”

“What lack of delicadeza (propriety) are they talking about?” she said.

What about the ‘masa’?

At the same news conference, NCCA Chair Vilma Labrador said both Alvarez and Caparas were “qualified to win the award,” which, she stressed, was “long overdue.”

Labrador said the award was a “validation of a lifetime dedication to the arts of Mrs. Alvarez in leading the movement for a national theater and its development to forge our cultural identity and preserve our heritage.”

She also cited Alvarez for “vigorously leading the pursuit of cultural initiatives meant to highlight the country’s depth of talent and expertise in the performing arts and showcasing through her efforts the wealth of heritage, history and language with a sensitivity to our social conditions to pursue the Millennium Development Goals.”

Labrador also denied that the NCCA had been involved in “dagdag-bawas” (padding and shaving): “The President did not abuse her powers. She studied the nominees and their qualifications carefully.”

She added: “It’s sad that this issue has divided the arts and culture sector.

“Does one need to be elitista to be a National Artist? How about those belonging to the masa who are also qualified to be National Artists?”


BenCab read a eulogy during the hour-long program at the CCP attended by some 800 artists and supporters wearing black t-shirts.

Led by eight women wearing black veils, the group laid down a funeral wreath with the National Artist Awards logo.

The assembly then proceeded to the NCCA office in a motorcade.

But the otherwise peaceful gathering of artists was marred by near fisticuffs between ardent supporters of Alvarez and some of the protesters who tried to force their way into the NCCA building at around 5:15 p.m.

At the height of the commotion, an unidentified NCCA employee tried to hit a protester with an audio speaker.

A blind man identified only as Zaldy, a member of Alvarez’s choral group, reminded the protesters that it was the President who gave “Ma’am” the award. “She’s the one you should blame,” he said.

Actress Angie Ferro shouted at the colleagues that she saw among the protesters.

“You are all elitists! Don’t bring chaos here. Johnny, why are you there?” Ferro said, apparently addressing actor Johnny Delgado, who attended the protest action along with his wife, director Laurice Guillen.

Ferro also engaged Lumbera in a shouting match.

“Why are you here, Bien? You know Cecile is not at fault here,” she said.

Retorted Lumbera: “Look at you, Angie. You’re already old and yet Cecile can still fool you.”

The protesters also assailed Alvarez for allegedly ordering the playing of folk songs from loudspeakers in front of the NCCA building.

The commotion ended when organizers told the assembly to calmly disperse and leave the area.

Sought for comment, Alvarez defended the setting up of loudspeakers outside her office.

“My people just want to have fun rather than hear people shouting and cursing,” she said.

When told of Almario’s claim that he declined the National Artist award when he was the NCCA executive director, she said: “Well, I’m not Almario.”

FPJ’s Panday

Imee Marcos surmised that the National Artist award was given to Caparas as “payment for the sale of the iconic poster of ‘Panday.’”

She claimed that Caparas had sold the rights for the poster of the legendary character he created to prevent the late Fernando Poe Jr.—who immortalized “Panday” on the silver screen—from using it when he ran against Ms Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.

“They wanted to erase FPJ’s image as Panday in the consciousness of the Filipinos. But that will never happen,” she said.

When asked if it was the first time she joined a protest action, Imee said: “No. But this is the first time I went with [my sister] Irene.”

She said her brother, Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., also wanted to attend the rally but had an earlier commitment.

“Our family is saddened by this scandal. This award was meant to recognize outstanding artists and not for political accommodation,” Imee said, adding that it was her mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, who had conceptualized the National Artist awards.

08-08-2009, 09:44 AM
^ There is a part of me that thinks there is no way the king of Philippine massacre movies, the ultimate in film garbage, should be getting a National Artist award.

Yet there is another part of me that truly believes the man who brought us PANDAY, JOAQUIN BORDADO and KAMANDAG ought to get some sort of real recognition for doing so.

What do you guys think?

08-08-2009, 10:07 AM
Caparas would've been acceptable as a National Artist for Visual Arts if he was indeed involved in creating the komiks, which includes drawing, inking, and coloring. Unfortunately, he was not involved in any of the processes -- all he did was create the characters. In this case, those who were indeed involved in drawing and inking deserve to be named National Artists more than Caparas.

I watched his interview on Channel 2 yesterday and I must say his attitude towards respected artists such as Lumbera and Almario remind me of Eminem diss-tracks: "More people read my works! Who reads Rio Alma anyway?"

08-08-2009, 04:52 PM
The opposition to ChaCha can snowball. Gloria and her allies will regret this and this may result in People Power 3 (or 4?). I for one will join mass demonstrations after a long, long time.

basta ako sama ako kay sir gfy. ;D

i doubt, though, that gloria and her congressional lapdogs will try anything of the sort at this point.

tita cory is dead, but she continues to live in our hearts. mabuhay pa rin si tita cory!

08-14-2009, 03:21 AM
^ There is a part of me that thinks there is no way the king of Philippine massacre movies, the ultimate in film garbage, should be getting a National Artist award.

Yet there is another part of me that truly believes the man who brought us PANDAY, JOAQUIN BORDADO and KAMANDAG ought to get some sort of real recognition for doing so.

What do you guys think?

Is there any Western Democracy that has a National Artist Award?

Makoy's Fascist regime started all of this based on the Soviet model. Ewan ko lang pero kund hinid makarelate and simpleng tao, dpat ang tawag National Artists of the Oligarchy Award.

Just like the Oder of the British Empire Award...anak ng teteng ano pang Empire? Delusional talaga itong Britanya!

Joke lang pero magandang pag-isipan... ;D

08-14-2009, 01:14 PM
This is one of the most pathetic statements I've heard in recent times. It's like saying "parang awa nyo na, bugbog na bugbog na kami, baka pwedeng awat muna?"

Speaker Nograles, can't you come up with something more creative?


Stop hitting Arroyo, Nograles asks critics (http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20090814-220285/Stop-hitting-Arroyo-Nograles-asks-critics)
By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 11:49:00 08/14/2009

Filed Under: Government, Travel & Commuting, Politics
MANILA, Philippines -- Speaker Prospero Nograles appealed Friday to critics to stop hitting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over her much ballyhooed lavish dinners in Washington, D.C. and New York during her trip to the US.

"I think we should stop making the President a punching bag, and let us concentrate more on the donut, not the hole. And let's look at the better things in life," he told reporters in Malacañang after the ceremonial signing into law of the Magna Carta for Women.

"Because every time we hit the government, and hit it excessively, we are destroying our own house, we are destroying our own nation. We are destroying our nation before the international community. I don't think that's what we want," he added.


Mr. Speaker, perhaps you want to rethink who has been doing the destroying?

Sam Miguel
08-17-2009, 02:49 PM
From Ateneo professor Ciel Habito - - -

No Free Lunch

Are Oil Products Overpriced?

By Cielito Habito
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:49:00 08/16/2009

NEWS OF THE RESIGNATION OF NEDA Director-General Ralph Recto last week triggered much speculation that there must be more than meets the eye behind his unexpected and sudden departure from the Arroyo Cabinet. While he publicly explains that he has decided to leave to explore his political options for next year, the natural object of people’s suspicion has been the recent public disagreement over oil prices between Recto and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes.

Neda and Recto had asserted that gasoline pump prices in the country may be up to P8 a liter higher than they should be. If true, then the oil companies have been making undue profits at the expense of the Filipino consumers.

Downward stickiness

People may not have noticed nor cared as much as they should, because fuel prices have generally been much lower this year compared to last year, when the international crude oil price had climbed to a record of more than $147 a barrel in July 2008.

The price is now hovering around $70, or less than half of what it was last year—and yet the decline in pump prices of gasoline and diesel has not been as dramatic. Economists describe the situation as a “downward stickiness” in prices; that is, it is generally easier for prices to go up than to go down with corresponding movements in actual costs.

Where there is not enough competition in an industry, businesses can control prices enough to get away with such pricing behavior.

Have the oil companies been colluding with each other to prevent fuel prices from going down to their more proper levels given current world crude prices? Neda appears to believe so. And it explains why in its website, where one can readily open a PowerPoint file detailing its calculations that led to its findings of seemingly excessive prices.

The argument is simple: The pump prices of gasoline and diesel now should approximate their observed prices in recent past instances when the prevailing crude oil price in peso terms was at the same level as they are now. However, Neda finds that prevailing current prices are much higher than they were when crude oil cost about the same.


The following summarizes the pencil-pushing that Neda did:

Last April 16, Dubai Crude Oil (DCO) cost $50 a barrel, which translated to P2,408 at the prevailing exchange rate of P48.16 a dollar. Gasoline sold then at around P40 a liter at the pump.

In February 2005, DCO price was $39.70 a barrel, which at the exchange rate then of P54.81 a dollar, amounted to P2,176.07. At that time, gasoline pump price was P27.37 a liter.

In March 2005, DCO sold for $45.84 a barrel, or P2,495.54 at the exchange rate then of P54.44 a dollar. Gasoline pump price was P29.22 a liter.

Since the April 16, 2009, DCO price of P2,408 lies between the February and March 2005 prices, pump price of gasoline would be expected to lie between the February 2005 price of P27.37 and the March 2005 price of P29.22. A straight-line interpolation would yield P28.71. Adding the 12-percent VAT which gasoline was still not subject to in 2005, the expected price comes up to P32.16. So why, then, was it selling for P40 last April?

Turf battle

Just to be sure, Neda tried other approaches to calculating the expected gasoline pump price that should have prevailed in mid-April 2009, including using the Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) gasoline price for comparison. With adequate competition, domestic gasoline prices must be tied to the price at which gasoline is internationally traded, indicated by the MOPS price, which was $60.46 a barrel.

At a dollar exchange rate of P48.19, and adding in all costs incurred leading to the pump price (including oil company margins, specific taxes, VAT and other costs), gasoline pump price should have been P32.21. Still two other estimation approaches Neda invoked led to gasoline pump prices of P30.57 to P33.69. Even at the most liberal estimate, the actual pump price observed last April was still more than P6 higher than it should have been.

This is the apparent fuel overpricing that Secretary Recto had called attention to, which led to his run-in with Secretary Reyes who apparently resented the Neda secretary’s perceived encroachment into his turf.

The introductory note on the Neda PowerPoint hints at the turf battle somewhat defensively: “As the primary economic and development planning agency of the country, Neda puts the welfare of the general public at the center of its work. We recognize that it is the Department of Energy (DOE) that is the main body which monitors oil price movements and oil companies’ behavior. Neda commented on oil pricing to underscore the effects of escalating oil prices on the general economy.”

It is indeed incumbent upon Neda to raise such questions, especially when lack of competition and lack of transparency on the part of the oil industry may be compromising the public interest.

08-17-2009, 05:52 PM
Theres The Rub
May araw din kayo

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:04:00 08/17/2009

Tatagalugin ko na nang makuha n’yo. Kahit na lingwaheng kanto lang ang alam kong Tagalog.

Tutal Buwan ng Wika naman ang Agosto. Baka sakali ’yung paboritong wika ni Balagtas ay makatulong sa pag-unawa n’yo dahil mukhang ’yung paboritong wika ni Shakespeare ay lampas sa IQ n’yo. Kung sa bagay, ang pinakamahirap gisingin ay ’yung nagtutulug-tulugan. Ang pinakamahirap padinggin ay ’yung nagbibingi-bingihan. Ang pinakamahirap paintindihin ay ’yung nagmamaangmaangan. Bueno, mahirap din paintindihin ’yung likas na tanga. Pero bahala na.

Sabi mo, Cerge Remonde, alangan naman pakanin ng hotdog ang amo mo. Bakit alangan? Hindi naman vegetarian ’yon. At public service nga ’yon, makakatulong dagdagan ng cholesterol at salitre ang dugong dumadaloy papuntang puso n’ya. Kung meron man s’yang dugo, kung meron man s’yang puso.

Bakit alangan? Malamang di ka nagbabasa ng balita, o di lang talaga nagbabasa, kung hindi ay nalaman mo ’yung ginawa ni Barack Obama at Joe Biden nitong nakaraang Mayo. Galing silang White House patungong Virginia nang magtakam sila pareho ng hamburger. Pina detour nila ang motorcade at tumuloy sa unang hamburgerang nakita nila. Ito ang Ray’s Hell Burger, isang maliit at independienteng hamburger joint.

Tumungo ang dalawa sa counter at sila mismo ang nag-order, hindi mga aides. Nagbayad sila ng cash na galing sa sariling bulsa at kagaya ng ibang customers ay pumila para sa turno nila.

Ito ay presidente at bise presidente ng pinakamakapangyarihang bansa sa buong mundo. Kung sa bagay, ’yung amo n’yo ay hindi naman talaga presidente. Di lang makita ang pagkakaiba ni Garci kay God kaya nasabing “God put me here.” Pekeng presidente, pekeng asal presidente.

Sabi mo, Anthony Golez, maliit lang ang P1 million dinner kumpara sa bilyon-bilyong pisong dinala ng amo mo sa bansa.

Ay kayo lang naman ang nagsasabing may inambag ang amo n’yo na bilyong-bilyong piso sa kaban ng bayan. Ni anino noon wala kaming nakita. Ang nakita lang namin ay yung bilyon-bilyong piso—o borjer, ayon nga sa inyong dating kakosa na si Benjamin Abalos—na inaswang ng amo n’yo sa kaban ng bayan. Executive privilege daw ang hindi n’ya sagutin ito. Kailan pa naging pribilehiyo ng isang opisyal ang di managot sa taumbayan? Kailan pa naging pribilehiyo ng isang opisyal ang magnakaw?

Maliit lang pala ang P1 million, ay bakit hindi n’yo na lang ibigay sa nagugutom? O doon sa mga sundalo sa Mindanao? Tama si Archbishop Oscar Cruz. Isipin n’yo kung gaano karaming botas man lang ang mabibili ng P1 million at karagdagang P750,000 na nilamon ng amo n’yo at mga taga bitbit ng kanyang maleta sa isa pang restawran sa New York.

Maliit lang pala ang P1 million (at P750,000), bakit hindi n’yo na lang ibigay doon sa pamilya ng mga sundalong namatay sa Mindanao? Magkano ’yung gusto n’yong ibigay sa bawat isa? P20,000? Sa halagang iyan 50 sundalo na ang maaabuluyan n’yo sa $20,000. Pasalu-saludo pa ’yang amo n’yo sa mga namatay na kala mo ay talagang may malasakit. Bumenta na ’yang dramang ’yan. At pasabi-sabi pa ng “Annihilate the Abus!” Di ba noon pa n’ya ’yan pinangako? Mahilig lang talagang mangako ’yang amo n’yo.

Bukod pa d’yan, saan ba nanggaling ’yung limpak-limpak na salapi ng mga kongresista na pinansisindi nila ng tabako? Di ba sa amin din? Tanong n’yo muna kung ayos lang na i-blowout namin ng wine at caviar ang amo n’yo habang kami ay nagdidildil ng asin—’yung magaspang na klase ha, ’di yung iodized. Ang tindi n’yo, mga p’re.

At ikaw naman, Romulo Macalintal, tapang ng apog mo. Maiisip mo tuloy na sundin na lang ang mungkahi ni Dick the Butcher sa “Henry VI” ni Shakespeare: “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” Pa ethics-ethics ka pa, pasalamat ka di nasunog ang bibig mo sa pagbigkas ng katagang ’yon.

Marami mang sugapa rin sa aming mga taga media, di naman kasing sugapa n’yo. At di naman kami sineswelduhan ng taumbayan. Wala naman kaming problemang sumakay sa PAL at kailangan pang bumili ng P1.2 billion jet. Anong sabi n’yo, kailangan ng amo n’yo sa pabyahe-byahe? E sino naman ang may sabing magbabyahe s’ya? Ngayon pang paalis na s’ya—malinaw na ayaw n’yang umalis. Bakit hindi na lang s’ya bumili ng Matchbox na eroplano? Kasya naman s’ya ro’n.

Lalo kayong nagpupumiglas, lalo lang kayong lumulubog sa kumunoy. Di n’yo malulusutan ang bulilyasong ginawa n’yo. Para n’yo na ring inagaw ang isinusubong kanin ng isang batang nagugutom. Tama si Obama at Biden: Sa panahon ng recession, kung saan nakalugmok ang mga Amerikano sa hirap, dapat makiramay ang mga pinuno sa taumbayan, di nagpapakapariwara. Sa panahon ng kagutuman, na matagal nang kalagayan ng Pinoy, at lalo pang tumindi sa paghagupit ng Typhoon Gloria, dapat siguro uminom na lang kayo ng insecticide. Gawin n’yo ’yan at mapapawi kaagad ang kagutuman ng bayan.

Sa bandang huli, buti na rin lang at ginawa n’yo ’yung magpasasa sa P1 million dinner habang lupaypay ang bayan sa kagutuman—di lang sa kawalan ng pagkain kundi sa iba pang bagay—at pagdadalamhati sa yumaong Ina ng Bayan. Binigyan n’yo ng mukha ang katakawan. Katakawang walang kabusugan. Mukhang di nakita ng masa sa usaping NBN, mukhang di nakikita ng masa sa usaping SAL. Mukhang nakita lang ng masa dito sa ginawa n’yong ito. Sa pagpapabondat sa New York habang naghihinagpis ang bayan.

At buti na rin lang mayroon tayong sariling wika. Di sapat ang Inggles para iparamdam sa inyo ang suklam na nararamdaman namin sa inyo. Di sapat ang Inggles para ipakita sa inyo ang pagkamuhi na nararamdaman namin sa inyo. Di maarok ng Inggles ang lalim ng poot na nararamdaman namin sa inyo.

Isinusuka na kayo ng taumbayan, mahirap man sumuka ang gutom.

May araw din kayo.

'Nuff said. :P

09-14-2009, 11:38 AM
It appears that former President Estrada is posturing to get into the thick of the 2010 presidential race. He has presented himself as probable candidate and if prevented to run, he may become prominent as a king maker. Abangan...

09-14-2009, 05:43 PM

Lacson links Estrada to illegal gambling

First Posted 15:47:00 09/14/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Elections, Eleksyon 2010, Dacer-Corbito murders, Crime, Casinos & Gambling

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Senator Panfilo Lacson has linked former president Joseph Estrada to “jueteng” and smuggling.

Lacson, whom Estrada appointed Philippine National Police chief, made the disclosure Monday in a privilege speech at the Senate.

Lacson said that he parried efforts by the camp of Estrada to persuade him to postpone his privilege speech about the darker side of the former leader as a government official.

A few minutes before he delivered his speech, Lacson told reporters that the Estrada camp was trying to work on him up until Sunday night.

Lacson said that since last week three men, all common friends of his and Estrada, had approached him on his privilege speech.

The last person who approached him last Sunday night asked him to postpone the speech on Monday so that Lacson and Estrada could meet and talk.

Lacson made it clear he did not know whether Estrada was aware of this overture of their common friend.

Lacson said he could no longer postpone his plan to deliver the speech because everything was all set in the Senate.

The Senate session hall was packed with people, including whistleblowers Sandra Cam, Vidal Doble, and Boy Barredo.

Cam was the one who blew the whistle on jueteng (a numbers game) against the family members of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Doble, the 2005 Hello Garci scandal; and Barredo, the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.
Christine O. Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Ping - "Better to be late than never." ;D


09-14-2009, 11:21 PM
^Raul Gonzales was eased out of his DOJ post, because allegedly, he refused to follow instructions from above to go easy on the Dacer case. It's kinda beginning to make sense now.

Sam Miguel
01-01-2010, 12:19 PM
From Scott Shane of the New York Times - - -

Shadow of 9/11 Is Cast Again

WASHINGTON — The finger-pointing began in earnest on Wednesday over who in the alphabet soup of American security agencies knew what and when about the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up an airliner.

But the harshest spotlight fell on the very agency created to make sure intelligence dots were always connected: the National Counterterrorism Center. The crown jewel of intelligence reform after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the center was the hub whose mission was to unite every scrap of data on threats and suspects, to make sure an extremist like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be bomber, would never penetrate the United States’ defenses.

“N.C.T.C. is supposed to be the nerve center,” said Amy B. Zegart, who studies intelligence at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s the fusion center of all fusion centers. So if something was missed, that’s where the blame is going to go.”

Officials at the counterterrorism center — a small agency in a modern glass building in suburban Virginia — maintained a stoic silence on Wednesday, noting that the review ordered by President Obama was still under way. But those who led the major studies of how the United States government failed to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks watched the unfolding story of the Christmas Day attack with growing dismay.

“It’s totally frustrating,” said Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the national Sept. 11 commission. “It’s almost like the words being used to describe what went wrong are exactly the same.”

Eleanor Hill, staff director of the joint Congressional inquiry into Sept. 11, called the emerging story “eerily similar to the disconnects and missteps we investigated.”

“There seems to have been the same failure to put the pieces of the puzzle together and get them to the right people in time,” Ms. Hill said.

Their dissections of the 2001 attacks came out years afterward, based on a mountain of classified records and hundreds of interviews.

By contrast, the review of how Mr. Abdulmutallab was permitted to board a Detroit-bound airliner with explosives in his underpants has barely started. A full account may show that the failures were not as egregious as they appeared on Wednesday, or as Mr. Obama has suggested.

But two critical pieces of information appear never to have been connected: National Security Agency intercepts of Qaeda operatives in Yemen talking about using a Nigerian man for an attack, and a warning from Mr. Abdulmutallab’s father to American diplomats in Nigeria about the son’s radicalization in Yemen. If the National Counterterrorism Center or any other agency had those two items and never linked them, Congress and the public will want to know why.

The echoes of Sept. 11 are obvious. Before the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the N.S.A., the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation all had gathered bits of intelligence about the future hijackers. The C.I.A. sounded the alarm about an impending attack, including the now-famous President’s Daily Brief of Aug. 6, 2001, titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

But the information that could have unraveled the plot remained at each of the three agencies and was never put together.

The remedy, proposed by the Sept. 11 commission and passed by Congress in 2004, was to place a single director of intelligence over the nation’s 16 spy agencies. At the core would be the National Counterterrorism Center.

In 2004 and since, critics of the intelligence reorganization complained that the new spy czar had too little power and merely added a cumbersome layer of bureaucracy. But even the critics applauded the counterterrorism center, which now must defend its performance.

Ms. Zegart, author of “Spying Blind: The C.I.A., the F.B.I., and the Origins of 9/11,” said she was especially disheartened that the near-miss last week was, once again, on an airplane.

“This is textbook Al Qaeda 2001,” she said. “They tried to hit the hardest target we have, the one on which the most money and attention has been spent since 2001. And yet we didn’t prevent it.”

Some observers of counterterrorism cautioned against claims that nothing had improved since 2001. Intelligence analysts from one agency now routinely serve for a time in another agency, to develop personal ties. Databases of suspected terrorists are far more complete and accessible. The ban on hoarding data is strictly enforced.

“It is the death penalty if you are not sharing threat information,” said Kip Hawley, who headed the Transportation Security Administration until January. That agency, for example, participates in daily briefings run by the counterterrorism center, and at times National Security Agency analysts visit counterparts at the T.S.A. to walk them through intercepts, he said.

Yet the flood of intelligence collected against a scattered and shadowy terrorist network continues to grow, threatening to overwhelm the system, said Matthew M. Aid, an intelligence historian whose book, “The Secret Sentry,” examines the N.S.A.

The eavesdropping agency, tracking e-mail and cellphone traffic around the world, each day collects four times the volume of information stored in the Library of Congress, Mr. Aid said.

“To pluck out the important threats is an almost impossible task,” he said.

In the case of Mr. Abdulmutallab, the N.S.A. appears to have captured critical intercepts, and his father provided the name that would have allowed American agencies to take action.

For Mr. Kean, of the Sept. 11 commission, it is the father’s role that should have moved even the most jaded bureaucracy.

“Think of what it took for the father, one of the most respected bankers in Nigeria, to walk into the American Embassy and turn in his own son,” Mr. Kean said. “The father’s a hero. His visit by itself should have been enough to set off all kinds of alarms.”

Eric Lipton contributed reporting.

Sam Miguel
02-01-2010, 10:49 AM
From Inquirer's Global Nation ___

Why make WWII Pope a Saint

By Luis H. Francia

NEW YORK, United States—Last December, the Vatican began the process by which both Pope Pius XII and John Paul II will most likely be included in the pantheon of recognized saints.

In its announcement that had Pope Benedict XVI’s blessing, the church declared both popes to have been marked by “heroic virtue,” the step that precedes beatification and ultimately canonization.

I don’t doubt that the chances of these two being officially enshrined as saints look excellent, and for reasons some of which have nothing to do with saintliness and everything to do with politics, particularly in the case of the World War II pontiff.

David Gibson, author of a biography of Benedict XVI, writing in The New York Times in late January, points out that the Vatican’s decision “renewed longstanding debate over Pius’s World War II legacy (was he silent or even complicit in the Nazi extermination of the Jews?).”

Gibson then raises a very good question, “Should any pope be made a saint?” thereby questioning the process by which the institution will most likely canonize two of its former heads, and thereby set a precedent of making every pope from hereon a saint.

Kind of like having the head of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts expect canonization as Supreme, or rather, National, Artist when done with the office (though in the case of the current NCCA head, Cecile Guidote Alvarez, she seems to have simply taken the crown and placed it on her head).

Gibson gives us some background context: Of the 264 dead popes in its two-millennium history, less than a third were elevated to sainthood, and “most were canonized by popular acclaim in the first centuries of Christianity, often because they were martyrs.”

The one who comes immediately to mind of course is St. Peter, the petras or rock upon which the church was founded. On his insistence, the former fisherman was crucified upside down. He didn’t feel worthy enough to be nailed to the cross in an upright position the way Jesus was.

Gibson, as with so many others, is bothered more by the impending sainthood of Pius XII, or Eugenio Pacelli, than by that of John Paul II, whom the Jews considered a good friend. Pacelli was the 260th successor to Peter, from 1939-1958; prior to that he was papal nuncio to Germany in the 1920s, and was named Pius XI’s Secretary of State.

In his powerful role, Pacelli was the main architect of the concordat with the Reich, signed in 1933, which significantly helped the Nazis strengthen their hold on the German government without any organized opposition from the powerful German Catholic community, leaving the latter with little leverage over Hitler and his cabal.

Fervently anti-Communist, Pacelli feared the possible triumph of the hammer and sickle more than he did that of the swastika. Once he succeeded Pius XI as pontiff, he remained complicit with how the Nazis operated. He refused, for instance, to censure the Nazi invasion and annexation of Poland in 1939, and the ensuing atrocities, but condemned the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland. He has thus been criticized as not speaking out while the Holocaust was happening even as he and the Vatican knew what was happening.

“Silence,” however, is not the term a Vatican higher-up would use. José Saraiva Cardinal Martins insists it was “prudence.” Given the conditions of World War II, this reasoning goes, the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church had no choice but to mute its criticism of Hitler, in order to protect the millions of Catholics living under the Nazi jackboot.

From this perspective, Pius XII was acting in his capacity as temporal CEO and chairman of the board, the shepherd protecting his flock. But was he serving the higher spiritual calling the church is purportedly devoted to by turning a blind eye to the genocide of the Jews?

Prudence is not a quality one associates with a saint, whose eyes are set on eternal life. Whether one agrees with the whole concept of sainthood or not, no one can deny that those who would be saints cast reasonableness aside. They are foolhardy, stubborn, and even long for death.

Those early Christians tremblingly cast prudence aside when forced by the Romans to either make sacrifices to their gods or themselves be sacrificed, to be torn apart in the Roman Colosseum by wild beasts. Was St. Joan of Arc prudent when brought before a tribunal of men convinced she was a heretic and a blasphemer? Was Saint Lorenzo Ruiz? Had this fervent Catholic Pinoy denied his faith he would have saved himself from the wrath of the Japanese. The case Cardinal Martins makes is rather pitiful.

The other related charge made against Pacelli is that he was anti-Semitic, still of the school of thought that it was the Jews who got Christ crucified, overlooking the fact that it was the Romans (Pacelli’s forebears) who decided to nail the carpenter’s son to the cross.

The irony, as so many have observed, is that this is anti-Semitism in service of a Semite. In 2003, the Greek filmmaker Costa Gavras, director of acclaimed and politically charged works like Z and Missing, came out with Amen. Based on the play, The Deputy, by Rolf Hochhuth, Amen revolves around the discovery by a German army medical officer, and devout Catholic, that the gas he has invented is being used to put inmates at concentration camps to death. He tries to warn the Vatican, aided by an idealistic young Jesuit priest who manages to get word to Pius XII, though it’s clear that the pontiff already knows about the horrific deaths. Partly fact (the German officer did exist) and partly fiction (the Jesuit), the film is well worth watching.

All of these raise substantial, even insurmountable, barriers to this particular pope’s being canonized. But perhaps the larger consideration is the need for saints. The church says it doesn’t make saints, but merely recognizes them, that is, it confirms that certain mortals have wound up in heaven for all eternity. But this is a distinction without a difference.

Those who pray to saints do so to those approved by the Vatican. Aside from her faithful progeny, who else would pray to anyone’s mother—the first candidate we think of when we think of saint, for having undergone the pain of bringing us into this world and enduring the limitless trials of making sure we grew up strong and healthy. And those mothers who manage to do this when mired in poverty are truly saints. (Of course, it’s mutual: Most mothers think of their sons and daughters as little divinities, in spite of evidence to the contrary.)

People in search of role models and succor pray to saints so that these can intercede on their behalf, making sure that one’s request wends its way quickly through the celestial bureaucracy and winds up in the In Box of the Ultimate Decider. It’s an anthropomorphic albeit feudal scenario that every Filipino who has had to deal with the government appreciates.

Who’s your daddy? Malakas ba? Judging by the mess our country is in and correlating that with our national custom of kneeling and praying for divine intercession for every personal and public crisis, could it be that we pray to the wrong saints? On the other hand, those held responsible for the mess the nation is in and who seem to lead for the most part charmed lives must surely have more powerful patrons. Where, pray, has prayer gotten us?

In the hamlet of San Juan Chamula, just outside San Cristobal de las Casas, the capital of Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico and home turf of the Zapatistas, one indigenous group has the right idea when it comes to saints.

In the village church, where no photographs are allowed, one sees several statues of saints. It’s impossible to identify them, however, for the simple reason that they have been beheaded. They have gone topless, though not toppled, for these heavenly beings failed to answer the villagers’ prayers.

And so as punishment, they had their noggins lopped off. Were the same cri du coeur to be adopted in the Philippines—off with their heads!—I don’t doubt that the houses of worship throughout the length and breadth of the archipelago would soon be lined with similarly bereft icons. Perhaps then we would spend more time off our knees and raising hell on the streets as a way of getting into a more secular heaven.

Copyright Luis H. Francia

Sam Miguel
02-01-2010, 11:07 AM
I response to the above post of Luis Francia, also from Global Nation ___

Your article contains so many historical inaccuracies that it would take a book to answer them all. Instead, I would like to show that your and other current writers attempt to question the integrity and heroism of Pius XII during WWII is totally misplaced.

What should be questioned is why did virtually every Jewish organization, (including the ADL), every major Jewish religious personality and Israeli leader of that era, who lived through the war, praise Pius XII unreservedly? What happened? What smoking gun? What documents were discovered to change this?

Here are some of the statements of contemporary Jewish leaders (remember, they are not armchair historians of our times. They are fellow sufferers and travelers):
The Israeli diplomat and scholar Pinchas Lapide concludes: “The Catholic Church, under the pontificate of Pius XII, was instrumental in saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands.” He went on to add that this “figure far exceeds those saved by all other Churches and rescue organizations combined.” After recounting statements of appreciation from a variety of preeminent Jewish spokespersons, he noted. “No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews.”

At the Eichmann Nazi War Crimes Trial in 1961, a Jewish scholar, Jeno Levai testified that the Bishops of the Catholic Church “intervened again and again on the instructions of the Pope.” In 1968, he wrote that “the one person (Pius XII) who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences, is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others.”
In “The Secret War Against the Jews” in 1994, Jewish writers John Loftus and Mark Aarons write that “Pope Pius XII probably rescued more Jews than all the Allies combined.”

The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, sent the Pope a personal message of thanks on February 28, 1944, in which he said: “The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of Divine Providence in this world.”

In September 1945, Dr. Joseph Nathan —who represented the Hebrew Commission —stated: “Above all, we acknowledge the Supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who, executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized the persecuted as their brothers and, with great abnegation, hastened to help them, disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed.”

Dr. A. Leo Kubowitzki, secretary general of the World Jewish Congress, came to present “to the Holy Father, in the name of the Union of Israelitic Communities, warmest thanks for the efforts of the Catholic Church on behalf of Jews throughout Europe during the war.”

In 1958, at the death of Pope Pius XII, Golda Meir, then Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered a eulogy on behalf of the nation of Israel to the United Nations, stating: “We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. During a generation of wars and dissensions, he affirmed the high ideals of peace and compassion. During the 10 years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims. The life of our time has been enriched by a voice which expressed the great moral truths above the tumults of daily conflicts. We grieve over the loss of a great defender of peace.”

Albert Einstein, who himself barely escaped annihilation at Nazi hands, stated in Time Magazine (December 23, 1940): “Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi Revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, but the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers… they too were mute. Only the Church,” Einstein concluded, “stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth… I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel great affection and admiration… and am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly.”

Israele Anton Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome during the German occupation, wrote: “Volumes could be written on the multiform works of Pius XII, and the countless priests, religious and laity who stood with him throughout the world during the war.”
So, why were these testimonies brushed aside? What is the single compelling argument/proof against Pisu XII?

The essence of all the allegations is that Pius XII did not do enough. The genius of these allegations (as it was rightly calculated by the KGB disinformation specialists, and presented in the notorious East-German play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth, 1963), is that you cannot satisfy the criteria of “enough.” It is a sliding category, dependent on the ‘appetite’ of the person who poses the demand. Furthermore, what could be considered “enough” in the light of the colossal evil and tragedy of the Nazi’s attempt to exterminate the Jews and other undesirable people? Simply, there is no factual evidence that Pius XII did not do enough. There is only wishful thinking where current armchair critics demand, why didn’t he do more.

Also, did you know that on July 20, 1942, the Dutch Bishops’ Conference issued a statement which was read in all the churches condemning Nazi racism, and thereby obviously condemning the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime. In a retaliatory response on July 26, 1942, the Nazi government of occupied Holland, Reichkommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart, accelerated the deportation of Jews and ordered the arrest of all Jewish converts who had previously been spared from deportation. Edith Stein and her sister Rosa were arrested and deported to Auschwitz on August 9, 1942, where they met their death.

Knowing this, would you have (if you were in the pope’s position) come out with flaming denunciations and sending a few more millions to a “glorious martyrdom’?
Let me pose a couple of questions, hopefully this will help to illustrate my point:
Who, of the contemporaries of Pius XII, did ‘enough’?
Who, of the contemporaries of Pius XII did more?

Sam Miguel
02-01-2010, 11:08 AM
^^^ So what is the real deal with Pope Pius XII?

Sam Miguel
02-10-2010, 09:31 AM
From the great Fr John Carrol SJ out of the Inquirer ___

Enough of Demographic Terrorism: Let’s Talk

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:57:00 02/09/2010

Picking up on the article of Fr. Gregory Gaston (“Population trends: lessons for RP,” Inquirer, 1/3/10) Rosie Brillantes-Luistro (“Population bomb theory defused,” Inquirer, 1/23/10) warns against measures to reduce population growth. She speaks of what has been called a “demographic winter,” i.e. a situation in which a society has too few young people to support the aged, which is a concern now in countries which have seen rapid drops in their birth rates. Thus the demographic terrorism of Paul R. Ehrlich in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb” is being replaced by another scenario featuring the “depopulation bomb.”

It is ironic, however, that she should argue as follows: “The Philippines is not producing more babies than necessary. The Philippine replacement rate at this moment is probably just enough to replace a work force that is necessary if the country is to grow. This work force will also be the consumer force that will drive business and industry.” Ironic because the same issue of the Inquirer noted in its editorial that in 2009 the number of jobless was 2.83 million, and underemployed 6.69 million. And this aside from the fact that almost 10 percent of the population is now abroad, driven there in great part by the lack of employment opportunities here. It does seem then, contrary to Luistro’s assertion, that Filipinos are producing more babies than the economy can profitably absorb.

For warm bodies alone do not drive business and industry. A vibrant economy requires natural resources, a healthy and educated work force and capital investment in irrigation, roads, electricity and water supplies, factories, communications, etc. On all of these measures, the Philippines unfortunately falls short. Natural resources such as forests, fishing grounds, topsoil, rivers, are gone or badly damaged; about the only one left in large quantities are minerals, and mining is a two-edged sword. Our most valuable resource, our people, is grossly underdeveloped: in education for the masses we are behind countries with incomes only a quarter of ours. Health services as measured by maternal and infant mortality rates are dismal. And the savings rate, aside from massive waste of money in corruption, is too low to support the necessary capital investment.

Admittedly, a bright spot in the economic picture is the Filipino OFWs; their remittances have kept the economy afloat, though at great personal and social cost. Here, however, the nation must ask itself whether it is content to be the maternity ward of the world, exporting often the best of its people to fill menial jobs elsewhere and retaining at home a vast army of the unemployed, willing to live in squalor and work for a pittance.

One is tempted to wonder about Filipinos who use the prospect of a demographic winter some generations ahead to argue against efforts to manage population growth now. Are they not concerned about the 24 percent of Filipino families who reported in the Social Weather Stations survey of December 2009 that they had had nothing to eat at least once in the previous three months? Can the “winter” be worse than what millions of Filipinos are now experiencing?

This is not to say that rapid population growth is the only or even the major cause of the poverty of our people, but it is surely a significant one. Data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, 1995-2000 show that in each of six survey years, the percentage of poor families increased systematically and without exception with the size of the family. Moreover, the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2003 indicates that per child expenditures on health and education decreased systematically as the number of children increased. Since health and education are tickets out of poverty for families, we can see here how poverty is passed from generation to generation.

On a more local level, a cohort study of 89 families in Payatas covering the period 2001-2007 by Marita Concepcion Castro-Guevara confirmed insights on the importance of family size for moving out of poverty. The author found that aside from health, education and various other factors, those families which had been most successful in moving out of poverty tended to be of relatively small size, with few dependents and several income earners. This finding was strikingly parallel to the theory of the “demographic bonus” brought about by a sudden drop in the national birth rate, resulting in a high proportion of working-age adults and relatively few dependents, giving a temporary but important “boost” to economic development.

Where does this leave us? Here I speak personally. I have been interested in population issues for 50 years, since I was a graduate student. I have followed the debates on Philippine population for 40 years. For 25 years I have carried on a pastoral-social apostolate in Payatas near the dump, and for seven years or so this has included natural family planning. Over these years I have become increasingly critical of both sides in the debate, where the “hard-liners” have taken control. In particular I have been disappointed in Church people who, with few exceptions, have continued to oppose government programs by political means, alienating many concerned Catholics, while offering no real alternative even in the form of natural family planning.

And yet I see reason for hope, based more on Christian faith than on objective analysis of the situation. Even with regard to the much-debated Reproductive Health Bill, once the basic problem is recognized, compromises seem possible which would assure freedom of conscience, reduce our horrendous abortion rate and provide support for natural family planning.

But for this, the hard-liners on both sides must give way to calmer voices.

Sam Miguel
02-16-2010, 01:07 AM
Here is an issue that has deep roots and even farther-reaching implications.

Here is an issue that is all-encompassing, as it is not strictly political and/or legal, but it is also social and moral.

Here is an issue that seems to keenly divide these benighted isles clear down the middle.

On the face of it, given how pervasive certain and specific given families and clans are throughout this country, it seems like spitting in the wind to be raging and ranting against political dynasties. There are many dissertations, books, theses, magazine articles, exposes, documentaries, and other such vehicles that have discussed the effects of the rule of these families over localities over the last hundred and a half years or so.

It seems Filipinos look at these political dynasties as so loathsome, that we even enshrined an "anti-dynasty" provision in our current Constitution.

Still, my question as a member of the Philippine polity is simple: what is all this in aid of?

Are we to automatically disqualify a citizen from exercising his other and, as we are told by legal luminaries, more important constitutional right to participate as a candidate in our democratic process simply be virtue of a surname?

Are we not in fact limiting through so much ad hominem argumentation the choice of our own people at the polls. After all, the people themselves may choose to send a clear message through their own vote.

Are we now so distrustful of the capacity of our fellow countrymen to make decisions for themselves that we really must have an anti-dynasty law?

To listen to those who vociferously stand for an anti-dynasty law, that seems on its face totally undemocratic. Essentially it is the state limiting the choice of the citizen. It is the state telling the citizen that their choice is only what the state says it is.

On another level, what if a person be "cursed" with a surname of political greatness such as Quezon or Osmena or even Marcos or Macapagal or Aquino? If we ever have an anti-dynasty law, would these people never ever be given any opportunity to serve our country in any elected office? By mere virtue of their surname? Can anything possibly be more absurd, never mind undemocratic?

Suppose 18 years from now someone named Manuel Luis Quezon VIII, Manolo the Eighth as it were, comes into the public view. He is brilliant, articulate, eloquent, dashing and handsome, well-educated and well-traveled, has worked overseas and in the country, is highly literate in many different languages, and above all has a deep and unconditional love for the Philippines and all Filipinos, a love he unabashedly has shown throughout his life in all of his endeavors, and he decides he wants to run for President in 2028.

Are we then to tell Manolo the Eighth, "Sorry, dude. We have an anti-dynasty law, no can do."

So it seems no matter how eminently qualified this person might be, by the accident of belonging to a given sperm pool, he will never be given his chance to lead his country. Would this not therefor actually deprive this country of many future leaders?

We keep saying that the fruit falls not far from the tree, and there is some truth to that. However, I would like to think that in this more enlightened time, we actually lend more credence to a far greater truth: a human being is a product of his or her own decisions and choices.

Whatever name he or she might carry.

03-06-2010, 01:26 AM
No law can stop political dynasties. This is another silly idea that the state apparatus, beholden to political dynasties, will put a lid on itself.

Even if there is such a law, the political dynasties that control the state apparatus will have the people's silent support. We are after all still an agrarian and mafia-type of society where benefactors like these political dynasties matter a lot. This is especially true in the provinces where benefactors are considered "padre de familia".

What we have simply reflects what we as voters believe to be applicable.

Majority rule sucks. But minority rule of enlightened middle-class like us is fascistic/socialistic.

I will take it as it is then take action when it seems appropriate. Darn, and that's being opportunistic let alone Bonapartist. ;)

In other words, bahala sila sa buhay nila. Just don't take my Liberty away. And that includes the choice of voting for political dynasties even if I never vote on the first place. ;D

Sam Miguel
04-13-2010, 03:53 PM
Gotta hand it to Ces Drillon, the lady certainly knows how to dance, ditto Maria Ressa.

About a year and a half ago she went to a secret lair to get an exclusive with the Abu Sayyaf, a group that has outright taken credit for kidnaps for ransom, extortion, multiple murder, and a whole host of other crimes.

Apparently the military asked her at the time if she wanted an escort, and of course Drillon declined, since she of course told the Abu that she'd have no military or police with her.

Her "official" reasoning is that she cannot compromise her "sources" as a journalist, and leading the military / police to said secret lair would precisely compromise that source, not to mention probably ruin her exclusive.

Maria Ressa said her network could not reveal the source of the bogus Noynoy psych report, even though they already attributed it to the Nacionalista Party. NP senatorial bet Adel Tamano put it best: Since ABS CBN already said the source was the NP, Tamano on behalf of the NP said they are waiving confidentiality. And yet Ressa did not budge, no way she was revealing the supposedly NP source.

If I had known the mainstream media was this much of an a--hole I would not have supported all of those "justice for journalists" movements. How can confidentiality be so bandied about by the media in such an a--hole manner?

Military: Tell us where they are so we can finally put a stop to them.

Media: No way, not our job, our job is to get ratings by getting exclusives. Its your job to go get them.

Military: But you guys keep saying every one should do their part. You know where they are, why not do YOUR part and tell us?

Media: Like we said, not our job, plus we have confidentiality to uphold.

Military: Even if it means the Abu are still free and can still inflict other terrorist acts on the puiblic?

Media: Not our job, sorry.

04-26-2010, 01:22 AM
Media's job is to make us all dumb especially when the status quo is profitable. They are in fact an extension of the state apparatus to keep the masses as subservient as possible. Hindi lang nagkaunawaan sa taktika ang dalawang mokong.


04-26-2010, 08:42 AM
Gotta hand it to Ces Drillon, the lady certainly knows how to dance, ditto Maria Ressa.

About a year and a half ago she went to a secret lair to get an exclusive with the Abu Sayyaf, a group that has outright taken credit for kidnaps for ransom, extortion, multiple murder, and a whole host of other crimes.

Apparently the military asked her at the time if she wanted an escort, and of course Drillon declined, since she of course told the Abu that she'd have no military or police with her.

Her "official" reasoning is that she cannot compromise her "sources" as a journalist, and leading the military / police to said secret lair would precisely compromise that source, not to mention probably ruin her exclusive.

Maria Ressa said her network could not reveal the source of the bogus Noynoy psych report, even though they already attributed it to the Nacionalista Party. NP senatorial bet Adel Tamano put it best: Since ABS CBN already said the source was the NP, Tamano on behalf of the NP said they are waiving confidentiality. And yet Ressa did not budge, no way she was revealing the supposedly NP source.

If I had known the mainstream media was this much of an a--hole I would not have supported all of those "justice for journalists" movements. How can confidentiality be so bandied about by the media in such an a--hole manner?

Military: Tell us where they are so we can finally put a stop to them.

Media: No way, not our job, our job is to get ratings by getting exclusives. Its your job to go get them.

Military: But you guys keep saying every one should do their part. You know where they are, why not do YOUR part and tell us?

Media: Like we said, not our job, plus we have confidentiality to uphold.

Military: Even if it means the Abu are still free and can still inflict other terrorist acts on the puiblic?

Media: Not our job, sorry.

I've lost my respect for ABS-CBN long ago, especially for their talents like Korina Sanchez, Ces Drilon, Ted Etong a.k.a Ted Failon, Antony Taberna (so young and so.......) and many of their ilks who often mouth the slogan "serbisyong totoo" or "public service". Mga AC-DC naman ang mga hinayupak na yan.

05-07-2010, 08:44 AM
I just have to make a comment re surveys now that the latest survey showed a 50% jump for Binay and a 100% decline for Legarda from 24% to 12% over a period of just 2 weeks! What earth-shaking things did they do resulting in such huge movements in these numbers over 2 weeks? Even if you take into account the undecideds, such result is just unbelievable! Surveys here have been wrong in the past I was told. In the U.S., they usually have a general survey and another survey of most likely voters which is more accurate. Face-to-face surveys also have disadvantages. People will sometimes tell you what you want to hear and those employed to ask the questions may be biased in favor of one candidate. Unfortunately phone surveys can't be done here because a lot of people don't have phones while calling by cellphones will be difficult because you don't know where these people are.

Kid Cubao
05-07-2010, 09:18 AM
political surveys are absolute trash. they poll the same control group over and over and over again. and i know of certain people who've been approached by certain SWS survey takers this campaign season and asked this question: "kung papipiliin ka, sino iboboto mo, si noynoy o si manny villar?" one even reacted, "teka, ba't sila lang?"

Sam Miguel
05-07-2010, 09:56 AM
Indeed. Surveys here are straight out of Isaac Asimov. It is all in the conditioning of the public mind. There is a part of me that agrees with the man named Gordon on this one: in this country, no survey should ever be published. Or at least, no survey should be published within say a week of an election. It just plain makes no sense sometimes. GFY is right, how the hell could Binay have made a gain of some 50%, and Legarda a tumble of 100% in just two weeks? That kind of math, that kind of demographic, that kind of sampling, simply makes no sense.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2010, 07:22 AM
In this whole null votes brouhaha I would have to agree PARTIALLY with that Tenefrancia fellow. By partially I mean that not all null votes should be counted, like for instance those that shaded two names for a one-name position, i.e. shading Roxas and Binay for Vice President. Same should hold true for those that had no shade at all, i.e. no oval at all was shaded for Vice President.

However, those that were not shaded enough, i.e. only half of the total area of the oval was shaded, in whatever manner, or those that were shaded beyond the border of the ovall, those I believe should be reconsidered. This should be more so since, by Tenefrancia's estimate, some three million such ballots were discarded by the machines. That is three million too many possibly disenfranchised voters.

Let us just say that one million out of that three million had the undershade or overshade mistake. Those would clearly be different from those that saw two names shaded and no names shaded at all. Those who undershaded/overshaded still clearly cast a vote for somebody. Surely those one million people did not all just get up that morning, line up for a couple of hours, and go through the whole shit of casting a vote just to deliberately undershade/overshade a choice. An undershaded/overshaded choice to me is far clearer a choice than two shaded ovals or no shaded ovals. Considering it this way makes more sense than Greg Larrazabal's logic of saying all null votes are "no votes" or "not votes".

06-03-2010, 08:00 AM
These machines should have been designed to spit out these "null" ballots and for the BEI to ascertain their acceptability. There will only be several of them per precinct or cluster precincts so it won't take a lot of time for them to do this.

Sam Miguel
06-03-2010, 09:35 AM
^^^ GFY, I believe the machines did indeed spit out or reject these ballots, which is why the lawyer Tenefrancia is so keen to have the lot of them reconsidered. My main contention here is that not all of these so-called null votes should be outright disregarded. If we disregard them all, how many voters have we disenfranchised? It is ultimately the disenfranchisement of the voters themselves that is at issue here. I am even willing to forego the numbers argument, for all we know all of those three million null votes could have gone to Dominador Chipeco or Jay Sonza. The number is not as important as the possibility that even just one voter was disenfranchised.

06-03-2010, 03:37 PM
^ Ok. I agree with you re the issue of disenfranchisement. Also in close contests like the governorship in Isabela where Padaca lost by only about 3000 votes, these "null" votes would have made a difference. Who made the bum decision from the very beginning anyway not to count these under or overshaded ovals?

06-03-2010, 11:55 PM
The null votes became an issue because of the slim difference between the 1st and 2nd placer in the VP race. So close that the estimated null votes could actually alter the outcome if counted.

Teka, mali yata ang punto kong iyan.... sorry.

This became an issue because Binay is leading. ::)

Sam Miguel
06-04-2010, 08:37 AM
^ Ok. I agree with you re the issue of disenfranchisement. Also in close contests like the governorship in Isabela where Padaca lost by only about 3000 votes, these "null" votes would have made a difference. Who made the bum decision from the very beginning anyway not to count these under- or over-shaded ovals?

GFY, the Comelec simply went by its earlier policy of counting only the ballots that the machine accepted and counted, i.e. if the machine itself rejected the ballot, then that ballot should not be canvassed anymore.

Some leeway should have been given considering that this is the first time we did computer-aided voting. Undershaded and overshaded ballots should have been counted, after all this is just a matter of configuring the machine to accept such overshading and undershading.

I know this is feasible because we used to have a PCOS-type machine in a school I used to run, and we used this machine to help grade board-exam type tests we gave at that school for all our board-taking students. We never had problems with undershading or overshading. We just set the machine to accept those inputs.

06-06-2010, 11:41 AM
A most refreshing take on this whole party list business from former Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz...

The Party List in Congress

By Isagani A. Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The report that the millionaire Mikey Arroyo, son of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had been chosen by the Commission on Elections to lead the Ang Galing Pinoy (AGP) party list in Congress was met with howls of protest that have led the office to defer its decision.

The AGP, which is a group consisting of security guards, tricycle drivers and farmers who do not even share a community of interests, was declared by the Comelec to be qualified to sit as a non-political member of the House of Representatives and participate in its deliberations.

Yet its leader is a politician of the first order deriving his roots from the highest official in the land. He was an obscure individual until he won his first political job as a member of Congress largely through his mother’s influence. He and his younger brother Dato, likewise politically obscure, have found a terrific future in his mother’s fortune.

During the waning days of Speaker Jose de Venecia, the two brothers made the decisions for the House of Representatives. When Speaker Prospero Nograles took over, he took care of the formal functions of the office, like answering the telephones and receiving formal guests. Political decisions were left to the brothers.

Now, where the question has to do with the accident involving a tricycle driver, the matter deserves the attention of Rep. Mikey Arroyo. A security guard question requires to be settled with the intervention of his friend Mikey. And if a farmer requires payment for his vegetables, it must be done with the help of the leader of the AGP.

All these tasks fall within the ambit of Mr. Mikey Arroyo’s responsibilities and should be performed with the seriousness required of a leader of the party list he is supposed to represent. And this is in addition to his legislative tasks as the head of Ang Galing Pinoy, which seems to be his principal function. This also appears to be the reason for the Comelec’s recognition of him as the political leader of the AGP.

Therein lies one difference between the regular members of the House of Representatives and the party-list member. The former are elected from the various provinces and chartered cities while the party-list representatives are supposed to possess all the qualifications of the elective members except the residence requirement. Thus, the party-list member is elected at large like the senators, although not personally. It is the party list that is directly elected, from which the candidate or candidates are chosen according to rank as previously determined by the party list.

Not all successful party lists at the polls are entitled to representation, however. The Constitution provides that the party-list representatives shall not make up more than 25 percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives. Nonetheless, those who do make it to the top echelon of party lists get to seat whomever they wish without the direct action of the individual voter.

The non-identification of the proposed choice of the entitled party list has been questioned on the ground that the candidate was not categorically elected by the voters. The practice of selecting the representative only through the recommendation of the party list inhibits the supposedly sovereign voter who otherwise has the right to freely choose all other candidates from the president of the Philippines to the members of the barangay council.

It is worth mentioning in this connection that the choice of Mike Velarde as the first nominee although he was listed only as No. 5 by Buhay, and the nomination of Angelo Reyes of 1-Utak are also up for reconsideration—in the latter’s case, probably on the ground of over-employment, as he has practically held all Cabinet posts after the presidency of President Joseph Estrada. The qualification of Mikey is also being questioned on the ground that he is under-qualified.

Several party-list groups have filed disqualification petitions against the three nominees on the ground that they already have substantial political power that violates the limitations of the marginalized groups. The Comelec seems to be confused.

In any case, I am against the Comelec adding to the already befuddled membership of the House of Representatives. The addition of party-list members has not improved, but has in fact worsened, the quality of the lowest chamber of the Congress of the Philippines. Its record during the administration of President Arroyo has been shabby, and with the help of useless party-list members at that. Their meritorious members can survive on their own and probably join legitimate parties they can even lead. Congress can exist without the unnecessary membership of party-list members.

If the government decides to amend the present Constitution, one of the changes I will propose is the abolition of the party-list system as completely unnecessary, totally useless and foolishly expensive.

06-06-2010, 11:45 AM
This party list nonsense was redundant to begin with. Giving what are essentially special interest groups legitimate seats in Congress was just plain stupid. In an ideal world no one would want to have to deal with special interest groups primarily because of their narrow, selfish and purely vested interest. Why on earth the geniuses who made the 1987 Constitution thought it ought to go against this logic, by simply saying this was for the "marginalized" sectors, is simple beyond me.

Sam Miguel
06-07-2010, 11:52 AM
I think the party list idea was a good one in the beginning, the problem is the framers of this constitution forgot how "creative" Filipino politicians can be. They thus wound up taking advantage of this party list system to get into the mainstrea of parliamentary participation. I personally have no idea who or what "marginalized" sector the likes of Joel Villanueva and Walden Bello and Liza Masa represent.

06-21-2010, 01:14 AM
Yahoooo!!!!! Fireworks at last.


Corona orders review of Luisita labor case
By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) Updated June 21, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Chief Justice Renato Corona has ordered a review of the long-standing labor dispute involving the vast estate of the family of president-elect Benigno Aquino III in Tarlac.

Aquino does not recognize Corona’s appointment.

Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said Corona has received a letter from farmers in Hacienda Luisita for him to act on the case and review the four-year-old temporary restraining order (TRO) against the distribution of the sugar plantation in accordance with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“We humbly submit to your Honorable Office our appeal asking the Supreme Court to act with dispatch and resolve the controversial agrarian case of Hacienda Luisita in favor of agrarian reform beneficiaries,” read the letter signed by leaders of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.

The farmers asked Corona to recall the TRO issued by the SC in June 2006, which stopped the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council and Department of Agrarian Reform from revoking the stock distribution option offered by the Cojuangco-Aquino family and distributing the 6,453-hectare sugar plantation to them.

“Honorable Chief Justice, the Supreme Court ruling favored the sugar barons of Hacienda Luisita and the landed aristocracy of Cojuangco-Aquino,” read the letter. “It is in the highest interest of the Filipino people and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita to end this long-running feudal reign and exploitation with the immediate, unconditional and free distribution of Hacienda Luisita to 10,000 farm worker beneficiaries...”

However, Marquez said the Luisita case has not yet been included in the SC’s agenda but will be tackled eventually because it is still a pending case.

“It should be included in the agenda of the court soon,” he said.

Marquez said the case would undergo due process like any ordinary case.

“Of course, it (case) will not receive any special treatment; it will proceed like any other case proceeds,” he said.

The farmers said the Luisita Estate Management has been disposing hectares of lands to commercial banks and foreign commercial enterprises despite the TRO issued by the SC.

Aquino owns one percent of shares in Hacienda Luisita.

Farmers in Hacienda Luisita fear they would no longer get justice once Aquino becomes president.

Lito Bais, acting president of the United Luisita Workers Union, alleged that the Luisita Estate Management has been harassing leaders and members of the Hacienda Luisita unions.

“Those who have less in life should have more in law,” he said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Joined by Anakpawis party-list group and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), members of the Hacienda Luisita unions have protested the move of the Cojuangco-Aquino family to put up fences around 170 hectares of the estate.

The Luisita Estate Management has been transferring hectares of lands to commercial banks and foreign commercial enterprises despite the TRO issued by the SC, the union members alleged.

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said Hacienda Luisita’s distribution to farmer-beneficiaries would remain “an impossible dream” under the Aquino administration.

“Another Aquino administration will provide the Cojuangcos all the political ammunition to deny farmers of their rights to the land,” he said.

Arthur Cadungon, Bayan-NCR spokesman, said Aquino should make himself accountable for the mass killing of farmers in Hacienda Luisita in November 2004.

“Like what he wants to do with the culprits of the Maguindanao massacre, we want to see how decisive Noynoy will end impunity in the country and how he will serve justice to victims of the brutal mass murder of farm workers of Hacienda Luisita,” he said.

Sam Miguel
06-29-2010, 04:15 PM

Sam Miguel
06-29-2010, 04:16 PM

Sam Miguel
06-30-2010, 10:47 AM
Why did the Inquirer fire Bel Cunanan? Because she was a staunch defender of the GMA Administration?

Why don't they fire Conrado De Quiros? De Quiros is a staunch critic of the GMA Administration.

In the interests of fairness, if Cunanan was fired for not being objective, for not sticking to the principles of journalism, for not giving "balanced news" as the Inquirer proclaims of itself, then De Quiros should go too. Both of them, if we go by the present logic, are just two sides of the same extreme.

How come Cunanan was fired and De Quiros gets to keep his job?

06-30-2010, 12:35 PM
This party list nonsense was redundant to begin with. Giving what are essentially special interest groups legitimate seats in Congress was just plain stupid. In an ideal world no one would want to have to deal with special interest groups primarily because of their narrow, selfish and purely vested interest. Why on earth the geniuses who made the 1987 Constitution thought it ought to go against this logic, by simply saying this was for the "marginalized" sectors, is simple beyond me.

I just want to react with this. Well I have been to the House of Representatives and I could say about half or so of them were sorry to use the word dumb. Not maybe for a party-list representative Risa Hontiveros (who spoke during our visit). I treat them as an irritant that could compel those lazy representatives to do their job and please these sectors have special knowledge on some aspects like gender, labor etc. Its not nonsense IMO. The problem is now it is being corrupted and their purpose also have been corrupted.

Kid Cubao
06-30-2010, 05:35 PM
^^ ano kamo?

Sam Miguel
07-02-2010, 07:57 AM
From our the Inquirer ---

Mabini’s Advice

By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

WHY, ASK SOME PEOPLE, IS JOSE RIZAL ON the one-peso coin and Ninoy Aquino on the P500 bill? Since Rizal costs less than Ninoy, does it make his sacrifice and heroism less too?

In the currencies of many countries, the most famous hero is placed on the most circulated denomination. Thus, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas placed Rizal on the one-peso coin that also happens to be the basic unit of our currency. Emilio Aguinaldo is on the five-peso coin that used to be worth, among other things, a bottle of Coke “sakto.” Then we have the P10 coin shared by Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini. Shouldn’t they be given their own coins? Bonifacio used to be on the two-peso coin whose circulation has been discontinued. Bonifacio and Mabini used to share space on the P10 bill, which is also out of circulation.

On the P10 coin Bonifacio is more prominent than Mabini, raising the question of “who is greater.” This sparks the debate on who should be the National Hero. But all the heroes on our stamps and coins are “national,” so schoolchildren should learn from all of them rather than focus attention only on Rizal.

Rizal left us with 25 volumes of writings that nobody reads, except those in search of a doctoral dissertation. I have always maintained that one of the ironies of Philippine life is that we have a National Hero who wrote a lot for a nation that does not read. There are other heroes and patriots who wrote memoirs and letters that also remain unread because their work, until recently, remained inaccessible in Spanish.

Another of the ironies of Philippine life is that we are separated from our past, cut off from our history because of language. Filipinos are said to have short memories and do not reflect on history. That is not just an issue of language and translation, but stems from the fact that after the destruction of the National Library and Archives during the Battle for Manila in 1945, many primary source materials required for the writing of our history remain in libraries, archives and other repositories abroad.

President Aquino announced during his inaugural speech that taking his oath, at noon of June 30, 2010, marked the beginning of his “Kalbaryo.” A long journey of six years started with an oath to defend the Constitution and to be true and just to every Filipino. With all these challenges facing the President, we cannot expect him to find time and read the writings of our heroes, but it is hoped that he finds time to read a short work by Mabini entitled “La revolucion Filipina” first published in 1931 and translated from the original Spanish by the late Leon Ma. Guerrero in 1969 and given the title “The Philippine Revolution.”

The Aquino campaign for the presidency made us recall the Cory Aquino funeral last year and the Ninoy Aquino funeral in 1983 as well as Edsa 1986. Maybe we should push it back to the original Philippine Revolution started by Andres Bonifacio at the tail-end of the 19th century to see that people have passed on but the situation remains the same. Mabini writes about the failure of the Philippine Revolution but when you read his painful words today, he seems to be speaking of the present:

“To sum it up: the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy. Identifying the aggrandizement of the people with his own, he judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism, but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions. Because he thus neglected the people, the people forsook him; and forsaken by the people, he was bound to fall like a waxen idol melting in the heat of adversity. God grant we do not forget such a terrible lesson, learnt at the cost of untold suffering.”

Mabini is talking about Emilio Aguinaldo but his words can also apply to later presidents of the Philippines. Long before the “Panata ng Pagbabago” was even conceived, Mabini left his people with these words:

“Only he is truly a patriot who, whatever his post, high or low, tries to do the greatest possible good to his countrymen. A little good done in an humble position is a title to honor and glory, while it is a sign of negligence or incompetence when done in high office. True honor can be discerned in the simple manifestations of an upright and honest soul, not in brilliant pomp and ornament which scarcely serve to mask the deformities of the body. True honor is attained by teaching our minds to recognize truth, and training our hearts to love it. The recognition of truth shall lead us to the recognition of our duties and of justice, and by performing our duties and doing justice, we shall be respected and honored whatever our station in life.”

These words ring true not because Mabini was psychic. These words remain relevant not because history repeats itself. Philippine society has not changed much in the past century. We have been repeating history.

Sam Miguel
07-05-2010, 07:33 AM
From the Inquirer - - -

New Admin a Challenge to RP Media

By Amando Doronila

The era of flogging to death the Arroyo administration came to an end on Wednesday with the inauguration of the hugely popular Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. The inaugural lifted the oppressive weight of belligerence that blighted the Arroyo regime.

During the past nine years, Arroyo-bashing has become a flourishing cottage industry in the Philippine media, which take pride in their passion for “investigative journalism” as a seal of being the “freest press” in Asia.

Outside the Philippines, however, the media in older and established democracies, mostly the European democracies, deride their Philippine counterpart as exuberant, too scoop-oriented, superficial and short on illumination.

Philippine-style “investigative journalism,” a pompous word for muckraking, is not the creed that drives the recognized quality journals of European journalism to excellence, such as Le Monde in Paris or the Guardian and the Times in London.

All these quality newspapers do not anchor their claim to public patronage and public trust, to be taken seriously by policy makers in government, business and industry, to influence public opinion solely on the thing called “investigative journalism,” which is somewhat a superfluous label.

If we really come down to the dynamics of journalism, the newspaper business is basically investigative and explanatory. It is about reporting of events accurately and verification of their source material.

So-called investigative journalists, often self-obsessed, are not a class by themselves or a cut above reporters, the foot soldiers of newspapers, who are required by their discipline to write about events they have witnessed as accurately and completely possible within the time frame of deadlines.

Now that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has stepped down from the presidency, the Philippine media have lost an object they loved to hate and bash almost daily as their staple.

The local media are now sharpening their old weapons, some of which have become blunt from overuse. They are facing a new situation, a new presidency that has been elected with the largest plurality since the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986.

During her tenure as the country’s leader, Arroyo was partly responsible for feeding the media frenzy with an almost perpetual supply of scandals involving corruption-tainted transactions, and of controversial cases involving abuse of power—fodder for the media’s artillery in their zeal to uncover irregularities in the government to serve what the media claim as the public’s right to know.

New set of issues

Following Arroyo’s exit, a new set of issues faces the local media covering the Aquino presidency.

The media are forced by this circumstance of change in administration to revise their terms of scrutinizing the performance of the Aquino presidency in the light of its policies, programs and priorities.

In a word, the media face a fresh slate and new agenda of reforming political and economic arrangements to replace the corruption-ridden and abusive governance of the old regime.

Unlike Arroyo, Mr. Aquino enters the presidency not only with a massive electoral mandate, but also with a legitimacy not marred by the scandal of the “Hello Garci” tapes, which plagued the Arroyo presidency during most of its term.

Mr. Aquino enjoys the political capital of a presidency that has inspired hope for national renewal driven by pledges for an honest, competent and hardworking administration.

Honeymoon duration

Already there are questions over how long will Mr. Aquino’s honeymoon with the public, in particular with the media, last.

Critics (including those from media) have been quick to note that Mr. Aquino’s well-applauded inaugural address glossed over the huge fiscal deficit, easily the most serious financial and economic problem confronting his administration.

The speech emphasized the new administration’s defining principle as embodied in the theme that “if no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.”

Mr. Aquino said this principle would serve as “the foundation of our administration.” He pledged, “Our foremost duty is to lift the nation from poverty through honest and effective governance.”

The speech, however, was lacking in specific measures on how to achieve this goal.

‘He didn’t say how’

The speech also contained scant references to the economy. It promised to revive the emergency employment program established by his mother, former President Corazon Aquino. He said this would provide jobs for local communities and help in the development of their and the national economy. He didn’t say how.

Mr. Aquino promised to strengthen collection by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and to fight corruption the Bureau of Customs in order to finance public welfare projects. But he was even more vague about steps he would take to attract foreign investment.

“We will make our country attractive to investors. We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance to business. This is the only means by which we can provide jobs for our people,” he said.

The speech is riddled with ambiguities about the measures, through which the new secretary of justice, would implement the marching orders of “to start the process of providing true and complete justice for all.”

Anticorruption drive

In his speech, Mr. Aquino said: “To those who talk about reconciliation, if they mean that they would like us to simply forget about the wrongs that they have committed in the past, we have this to say: There can be no reconciliation without justice. When we allow crimes to go unpunished, we give consent to their occurring over and over again.”

He had earlier told the press that the justice department “is very crucial in his campaign against corruption.”

The vociferous Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is unclear about her the scope and parameters of the fight against crimes, whether prosecution would be limited to the high-profile corruption cases involving the past administration or would also extend to cases related to human rights violations.

Some critics have warned that overzealous prosecution of these cases could be disruptive and divert the energy of the administration from addressing the financial and economic issues crucial to the issues on reforms set out by Mr. Aquino in his speech.

They present to the media yardsticks against which they can hold the president accountable based on his pledges. Any of these issues can spark an early confrontation with the media. It can cut short his honeymoon period to less than a hundred days.

Policy on ‘wangwang’

Simply put, the policy to ban the “wangwang” has struck popular resonance because it translated to action the principle of rule of law, that is, traffic rules have to be obeyed by the mighty, including the President himself, and the common citizen alike.
With that action, Mr Aquino started change from the lowest common denominator of an experience citizens have suffered from.

But the true value of that populist decision is that it set the mood and the tone of an administration that pledged to transform government “from one that is self-serving to one that works for the welfare of the nation.” It is no more than a mood-setting policy.

The ambient atmosphere can evaporate quickly as soon as other presidential promises meet resistance in the course of putting teeth to the measures to implement them.

There should be no illusion about this. There is only a truce.

Sam Miguel
07-07-2010, 07:09 AM
From the Star - - -

Copy what Works

CTALK By Cito Beltran

If it’s fairness they want, then so be it.

Members of the new administration are clearly puzzled and harassed with their new “relationship” with media. Just like in past administrations, the first week in office has produced the usual conflict between media and the new administration.

It’s not new but it is strange.

Strange because this administration has constantly been associated with veteran media personalities such as Maria Montelibano as well as a number of news personalities such as Ricky Carandang and Manolo Quezon, not to mention Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda.

Of course all of that is now wasted since the Presidential spokesperson and the Secretary of education both got hot under the collar, while a number of cabinet members are now confused and running scared of making mistakes or antagonizing the media.

A few things became very clear last week. First “the media” wanted fairness in access to information or interviews. Second, “the media” is also being used by critics or interested parties, to discredit several cabinet members in order to take their place or forward a very different agenda. And third and most important of all, the way President Benigno Aquino III reacts or responds to the “media” pressure will spell out if he is a leader who stands by his people or not.

After nearly two decades of news blackouts and dictations, succeeding governments got suckered into the idea that media had the right to hound, harass, demand or ambush interview government officials. From extreme wrong, past administrations went to excessive “right”.

Popularity replaced effectiveness and soon, the media was the one determining if the people should like an administration or a particular official. It has even reached a point where government officials played along with media and this has led to officials competing against each other to the detriment of past administrations.

Blame it on too much western influence but the sad truth is many of our colleagues in media are now acting more like the dreaded “paparazzi” than well-trained reporters and thinking journalists.

I personally know of several radio and TV anchors who demand that a cabinet secretary should be available for interview as early as 5 or 6 in the morning. If the government fails to comply, they childishly ridicule and insult the official on air. Can you blame officials for avoiding media? Grow up guys! Just because you want a scoop or increase your influence and rating does not give you the right to hurt others and ruin their reputation.

If it’s fairness the media wants, then give them a dose of their own medicine.

The best example of fair and equal treatment of the media would be the way PAG-ASA gives out their weather bulletins especially during typhoons. Give out all the information and summaries on fixed schedules and if anyone wants an interview, it can be viewed and quoted by all reporters present. No more “exclusives”, no more ambush interviews and no more early morning shake up interviews.

Let everything be formal, factual and restricted to actual summaries. No speculation and no questions unrelated to the summary or announcement. Let reporters in various departments and attached agencies do their job and the necessary research. NO MORE SPOONFEEDING.

All departmental communications should be handled by the designated communications officers of each department and not necessarily by the cabinet member. In this way, “beat” reporters assigned to each department are actually the first to get the news and not leftovers after three or four radio anchors have outscooped their own reporters.

“Professional communications officers” have daily working relationships with reporters assigned to their beat and would know how to do things. This system which is actually in place but not being utilized, would also partially insulate cabinet members from unnecessary mistakes, and free them up to address their priority concerns. It also reduces the temptation on cabinet members to get “pogi points”.

Follow the San Miguel Corporation philosophy, where people promote the corporation and not the other way around.

During the Arroyo Administration, a number of cabinet members told me that they were very wary of getting too popular because jealousy reigned within and outside Malacañang. So in the end, all the focus was directed to PGMA. But that backfired because there was more bad news than good and in the end, PGMA burned while those who should have taken the fire hid behind PGMA.

It is admirable that President Benigno Aquino III willingly steps into the gap and submits his cabinet members for training. But in like manner, members of media and their officers and employers should now do the President the courtesy of retraining and educating their reporters first on humility, respect and ethics.

Fair is fair.

Sam Miguel
07-16-2010, 08:50 AM
From Inquirer - - -

Greece: Same Tragedy, Different Scripts

By Walden Bello

Cafes are full in Athens, and droves of tourists still visit the Parthenon and go island-hopping in the fabled Aegean. But beneath the summery surface, there is confusion, anger, and despair as this country is plunged into its worst economic crisis in decades.

Greece, tiny Greece, has been presented by the global media as the epicenter of the second stage of the global financial crisis, much like Wall Street was portrayed as ground zero of its first stage.

Yet there is an interesting difference in the narratives surrounding these two episodes.

Two narratives in conflict

The Wall Street crash that morphed into the global financial crisis has been traced to the unregulated activities of financial institutions that created ever more complex instruments to magically multiply money.

With Greece, however, the narrative goes this way: this country piled up an unsustainable debt load to build a welfare state that it could not afford. This is a case of a spendthrift that must now be forced to tighten its belt. Brussels, Berlin, and the banks are presented as the dour Puritans that must now exact penance from the Mediterranean hedonists for living beyond their means and committing the sin of pride by hosting the costly 2004 Olympics.

Penance comes in the form of a European Union-International Monetary Fund program that will increase the value-added tax to 23 per cent, raise the retirement age to 65 for both men and women, make deep cuts in pensions and public sector wages, and eliminate practices promoting job security. The ostensible aim of the exercise is to radically slim down the welfare state and get the spoiled Greeks to live within their means.

There are certainly some nuggets of truth in the welfare state narrative, but it is fundamentally flawed. The Greek crisis essentially stems from the lack of regulation of finance capital that earlier led to the implosion of Wall Street. That is, it has been created principally by the frenzied drive of finance capital to draw profits from the indiscriminate, massive extension of credit. The Greek crisis falls into the pattern traced by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff in their book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 2009): periods of frenzied speculative lending are inexorably followed by government or sovereign debt defaults or near defaults. Like the third world debt crisis in the early eighties, like the Asian financial crisis in the late nineties, the so-called sovereign debt problem of the southern European countries is principally a supply-driven crisis, not a demand-driven one.

It is estimated that, in their drive to raise more and more profits from lending, Europe’s banks poured $2.5 trillion into what are now the most troubled European economies: Ireland, Greece, Belgium, Portugal, and Spain. German and French banks hold some 70 per cent of Greece’s $400 billion debt. German banks were great buyers of toxic subprime assets from US financial institutions, and they applied the same lack of discrimination to buying Greek government bonds. For their part, since the outbreak of the financial crisis, French banks, according to Bank of International Settlements cited by Newsweek, increased their lending to Greece by 23 per cent, to Spain by 11 per cent, and to Portugal by 26 per cent. (“Worse than Wall Street,” Newsweek, July 12, 2010)

The frenzied Greek credit scene featured not only European financial actors. Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs showed Greek financial authorities how financial instruments known as derivatives could be used to make large chunks of Greek “disappear,” thus making the national accounts look good to bankers that were always eager to lend more. Then the very same agency turned around and, engaging in derivatives trading known as “credit default swaps,” bet on the possibility that Greece would default, raising the country’s cost of borrowing from the banks but making a tidy profit for itself.

If ever there was a crisis created by global finance, it is Greece.

Hijacking the narrative

So the question is: why is the Greek story now being told not as a case of speculative frenzy by global finance capital but as the time-worn cautionary tale of people living beyond their means? There are two key reasons behind this.

The first is the financial institutions’ successful hijacking of the narrative of crisis to serve their own ends. The big banks are now truly worried about the awful state of their balance sheets, impaired as they are by the toxic subprime assets they took on and realizing that they severely overextended their lending operations. The principal way they seek to rebuild their balance sheets is to generate fresh capital by using their debtors as pawns. The centerpiece of this strategy is getting the public authorities to bail them out once more, as they did in the form of rescue funds and a low prime lending rate in the first stage of the crisis.

How will they do this? Well, the threat that Greece and the other highly indebted European countries would default was never taken seriously by the banks since the dominant Eurozone governments would never allow the collapse of the euro that this would bring about. But by having the markets bet against Greece and raising its cost of borrowing, the banks knew that the Eurozone governments would come out with a bailout package, most of which would go towards servicing the Greek debt to them. Promoted as rescuing Greece, the massive 110 billion euro package that has been put together by the dominant Eurozone governments and the IMF will largely go towards rescuing the banks from their irresponsible unregulated lending frenzy.

It’s the same old confidence game—then known as structural adjustment—that was played on developing country debtors during the Third World debt crisis of the 1980’s and on Thailand and Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis of the 1990’s, two episodes that followed lending binges from northern banks and speculators: pin the blame on the victims by characterizing them as living beyond their means, get public agencies to rescue you with money upfront, and stick the people with the terrible task of paying off the loan by committing a massive chunk of their present and future income streams as payments to the lending agencies.

It would not be surprising if similar massive multilbillion rescue packages are now being prepared for the banks that overextended themselves in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.

Shifting the blame

The second reason for promoting the living-beyond-one’s means narrative in the case of Greece and the other severely indebted countries is to deflect the pressures for tighter financial regulation that have come from citizens and governments since the start of the global crisis. The banks want to have their cake and eat it too. They secured bailout funds from governments in the first phase of the crisis, but do not want to honor what governments told their citizens was an essential part of the deal: the strengthening of financial regulation. Governments, from the US to China and Greece, had resorted to massive stimulus programs to keep the real economy from collapsing during the first phase of the financial crisis. By promoting a narrative that moves the spotlight from lack of financial regulation to this massive government spending as the key problem of the global economy, the banks seek to forestall the imposition of a tough regulatory regime.

But this is playing with fire. Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman and others have warned that if this narrative is successful in opposing new stimulus programs and halting the drive for tough banking regulations, the result will be a double-dip recession, if not a full-blown depression. Unfortunately, the message of the recent G-20 meeting in Toronto seems to be that in both Europe and the United States, governments are caving in to the short-sighted agenda of the banks, who have the backing of unreconstructed neoliberal ideologues that continue to see the activist, interventionist state as the fundamental problem. In the view of these ideologues, a deep recession and even a depression is the natural process by which an economy stabilizes itself and Keynesian spending to avert a collapse will only serve to prolong the coming of the inevitable.

Resistance: Will it make a difference?

The Greeks are not taking all this lying down. Massive protests greeted the ratification of the EU-IMF package by the Greek Parliament on Thursday, July 8. This was dwarfed, however, by an earlier protest, on May 5, when 400,000 people turned out in Athens in the biggest demonstration since the fall of the military dictatorship in July 1974. Yet, there seems to be little street protests can do to avert what many feel to be social catastrophe that will unfold with the EU-IMF program. The economy is set to contract by 4 per cent in 2010. According to Alexis Tsipras, president of the left parliamentary coalition Synapsismos, this will result in the rise in the unemployment rate from 15 to 20 per cent in two years’ time, with the rate among young people expected to hit 30 per cent.

As for poverty, a recent joint survey by Kapa Research and the London School of Economics cited by Interpress Service found that, even before the current crisis, close to a third of Greece’s 11 million people were living close to the poverty line. This figure, says the study, indicates that a “third world” is being created within the country. (“Greece: More Poverty than Meets the Eye,” IPS, Nov. 13, http://ipsnews.net) This process can only be accelerated by adherence to the Brussels-IMF adjustment program.

The irony of the situation is that the adjustment is being presided over by a Socialist government headed by George Papandreou that was voted to office last October to reverse the corruption of the previous conservative administration and the ill effects of its economic policies. There is resistance within Papandreou’s party PASOK to the EU-IMF plan, admits the party’s international secretary Paulina Lampsa, but the overwhelming sense among the party’s parliamentary contingent is, as Margaret Thatcher famously put it, “TINA-- “that there is no alternative.”

The consequences of compliance

Is there indeed no alternative? Faced with the program’s savage consequences, there are increasing numbers of Greeks who are talking about the option of adopting a strategy of threatening default or a radical unilateral reduction of debt. Such an approach could be coordinated, says Alexis Tsipras, with Europe’s other debt burdened countries, like Portugal and Spain. Here Argentina may provide a model: it gave its creditors a memorable haircut in 2003 by paying only 25 cents to every dollar it owed. Not only did Argentina get away with it, but the financial resources that would otherwise have left the country as debt service were channeled into the domestic economy, triggering an average economic growth rate of 10 per cent yearly between 2003 and 2008.

The “Argentine Solution” is certainly fraught with risk, but the consequences of surrender are painfully clear if we examine the records of countries that submitted to IMF adjustment.

Forking over 25 to 30 per cent of the government budget yearly to foreign creditors, the Philippines in the mid-eighties entered a decade of stagnation from which it has never recovered and which condemned it to a permanent poverty rate of over 30 per cent.

Squeezed by draconian adjustment measures, Mexico was sucked into two decades of continuing economic crisis, with terrible social consequences such as the pervasive narcotics traffic that have brought it to the brink of being a failed state.

The current state of virtual class war in Thailand can be traced partly to the political fallout of the economic sufferings imposed by the IMF austerity program imposed on that country a decade ago.

The Brussels-IMF adjustment of Greece shows that finance capitalism in the throes of crisis no longer respects the North-South divide. The cynics would say, welcome to the Third World, Greece. But this is not a time for cynicism but for global solidarity. We’re all in this together now.

Sam Miguel
11-26-2010, 09:37 AM
Facts are Stubborn Things
From the Inquirer - - -

By Walden Bello

My position on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, which was posted on the Philippine Daily Inquirer website, elicited a lot of comment, most of it positive, some negative. Among the responses was one from Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna that for the most part failed to engage the substantive issues I raised and turned instead into a highly charged invective against my “opportunism.”

Yes, I support Conditional Cash Transfers, but not as the key element of a strategy of poverty reduction. If only Mr. Casiño had paid attention to what I wrote in my earlier intervention in the Inquirer, my position is and has always been that poverty can only be eliminated via broad structural reforms like agrarian reform, reversal of trade liberalization, and a moratorium on the servicing of the foreign debt. In this regard, I have always pointed to the unilateral reduction of the foreign debt by the late President Nestor Kirchner, which channeled money otherwise earmarked for debt service to domestic investment, as doing far more to reduce the ranks of the poor in Argentina than any anti-poverty program.

It is in the context of a larger program of structural reform that CCTs can be useful. One can imagine CCTs as a firebreak, a very useful tool that can help pevent the spread of poverty but not significantly reduce it. CCTs, in short, are about poverty containment, not poverty elimination.

That having been said, yes, I did change my mind about CCTs. I am, by the way, in good company: Neal Cruz, the thoughtful Inquirer columnist, has also gone from opposing to supporting the CCT program.

What made Neal Cruz and me change our minds?

In my case—and I assume in the case of Mr. Cruz—it was the facts. And facts, to quote a 20th century figure revered by Rep. Casiño and his friends, “are stubborn things.”

My first reaction to the CCT program, when it was first unveiled as a key component of the Aquino administration’s anti-poverty program, was reflex suspicion of it as still another ill-conceived World Bank-supported scheme. But after a close examination of painstakingly careful empirical studies done on the record of CCTs in Mexico and Brazil, I could not follow Mr. Casiño in airily dismissing CCTs as simply a cynical effort to prettify a country’s social profile by providing money to statistically lift a large part of the population above the poverty line. I began to understand why CCTs are now in place in some 23 countries.

‘When the Facts Change, I Change…’

I found, first of all, that CCTs are not doleouts, as I initially thought. They provide cash to families but only on the condition that they keep their children in school instead of pulling them out to work and agree to regular monitoring of their health. More important, I discovered that CCTs work, in terms of their objectives of keeping children in school longer, getting girls to receive basic education, and improving the health of poor families. These conditions are critical in improving the chances of the poor in competing for better jobs and thus breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

In Brazil, the CCT program was one of the principal programs deployed by the reformist government of President Lula to address the needs of the poor. CCTs played a central role in lifting and keeping 20 million Brazilians above extreme poverty and in pushing and sustaining some 31 million others into the middle class. Some claims regarding the effects of CCTs in the program countries may be inflated but not even the most cynical observers on the extreme left or the right in Brazil, Mexico or Bangladesh have claimed that CCTs have had no significant impacts in terms of improving the lives of the poor.

So to Mr. Casiño’s charge that I have been inconsistent when it comes to CCTs, I can only repeat what the economist John Maynard Keynes said to those who criticized him of being inconsistent in his policy proposals: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Only fools and fanatics are totally consistent, and only ideologues would claim ex ante that nothing good could possibly come from a program backed by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

This is not to say that the CCT program does not have its limitations, or that it is a strategy that can simply be transplanted into any setting and work. Neal Cruz has highlighted the importance of including, in the Philippine setting, an employment or “workfare” dimension for male heads of households. I agree, though I would make doing useful work a condition for both female and male beneficiaries of CCTs.

Jonathan Swift versus Teddy Casiño

Aside from the fact that CCTs work in terms of containing poverty, the other important fact that made me change my mind is that CCTs are extremely popular with the poor, so popular that even the leadership of the MST (Landless Movement) in Brazil, which like me was initially skeptical of the CCT program, ended up officially backing it owing to pressure from the rank and file. The reelection of Lula in 2006 was said to stem largely from the popularity of the CCT, as was the recent election of his successor Dilma Roussef.

That CCTs would be immensely popular with the poor is understandable. In the Philippines, for instance, the average monthly income of the lowest 30 per cent of the population comes to about 4000 pesos a month. Not surprisingly, for the average poor family, about 100 per cent of this pitiful sum goes is allocated to food. Thus, the extra 1400 pesos per month CCT constitutes practically the only resources available to a family to invest in the schooling of three children and pay attention to their health needs, giving the parents hope that things will be better for their children. CCTs offer not only a lifeline for the present but hope for the future.

Was it Jonathan Swift who said he hated mankind but was fond of each Tom, Dick, and Teddy? Well, middle class intellectuals and politicians of the extreme left often have it the other way around. They wax eloquent about their grand schemes for saving mankind but cannot relate to the struggles of concrete individuals. Only people who possess only an abstract conceptual knowledge of the terrible realities of poverty in the burgeoning slums across the country such as Parola or Happy Land in Manila’s North Harbor, where human beings work 16 to 20 hour days at multiple jobs, could quickly and airily and cavalierly dismiss the lifeline of P1,400 as simply another “neoliberal scheme,” as Mr. Casiño does. The problem with spoiled middle class intellectuals that become leaders of the parties of the extreme left is they end up believing that mastery of Marxist dialectics and membership in a club of self-styled “professional revolutionaries” provide them with a secret password to the Eleusinian mysteries that magically endow them with a greater ability to discern what the poor need better than the poor themselves.

Changing one’s mind out of respect for the facts in the manner of Keynes is obviously not something that can be entertained in the paradigm of transactional, instrumentalist politics that Casiño and his comrades operate with. Instead, he projects the unprincipled modus operandi of Bayan Muna to us in Akbayan. Thus he attributes our changed view of CCTs to our being “bought off” by Malacanang. The bribe, he says, came in the form of a P4-billion “pork” that was realigned from the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) budget for Akbayan’s “constituents” and the appointment of Akbayan members to key positions within the executive branch.

A Page from Goebbels’ Playbook

Let us consider the first claim. Akbayan was always transparent in explaining why it sought an amendment to the provision allocating P4 billion to the “Tulay sa Pangulo” program administered by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Indeed, we even had a press release announcing it, contrary to Casiño’s portrayal of it as a backroom deal. The Tulay sa Pangulo program used to be under Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and we wanted to make sure that even as the implementation of the program passed from DAR to DPWH, the beneficiaries would remain the same: agrarian reform communities. The amendment was necessary to ensure that the DPWH’s implementation of the Tulay sa Pangulo fund would be in compliance with the Agrarian Reform Extension Law (CARPER) passed in 2009, which mandates that P150 billion must be allocated over five years for the complete implementation of agrarian reform, including land redistribution, infrastructure provision and other support services for agrarian reform beneficiaries to assist them in becoming viable producers.

The amendment was meant to benefit all agrarian reform communities throughout the country, not Akbayan “constituencies.” Casiño and Bayan Muna know this, and yet they maliciously continue to repeat the lie about the P4 billion funding being “Akbayan pork.” Obviously, Bayan Muna’s operatives have learned from Goebbels that if you repeat a lie often enough, it will be taken eventually as truth.

But there is a bigger reason for repeating the lie than simply smearing Akbayan and bringing it down in the reader’s estimation to Bayan Muna’s gutter level. Casiño and the Bayan Muna block did not support CARPER; in fact, they hated this land reform legislation backed by most peasant organizations and they allied themselves with the landlord block in trying to derail the bill in the House during the plenary deliberations in 2009. Thus, they have absolutely no interest in ensuring that the funds to support the implementation of CARPER are properly provided and allocated. Indeed, they have every interest in making CARPER fail, and painting the P4 billion for agrarian reform communities as “Akbayan pork” serves this purpose by fanning opposition to land reform among the rich, the powerful, and the gullible.

Akbayan Appointees: Why not?

In addition to the P4 billion “pork, “ the prize for Akbayan’s soul, Casiño alleges, is the appointment of party members and persons close to the party to key positions in the administration.

Unlike Bayan Muna, which allied itself to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s favored presidential candidate Manny Villar, Akbayan supported Noynoy Aquino. Indeed, Akbayan was a central part of the campaign machinery that got Aquino and proponents of the reform agenda elected. Today, we are part of the reigning reform coalition. Of course, we have tried to get members of Akbayan and other progressive individuals appointed to key positions in the new administration, and we were publicly proposing the names of our nominees way before the CCT issue came up. This is not because we believe in the spoils system--the kind of image Casiño seeks to paint, probably because this cynical modus operandi is the only kind he and his party know how to operate with--but because we want to ensure that there are people that will steadfastly push the reform agenda, including the reversal of trade liberalization, debt moratorium, and comprehensive agrarian reform that Casiño dismisses as impossible to achieve under the Aquino administration.

The individuals named by Casiño are people that are dead serious about fundamental reform, which is probably why he tries his best to portray them as party hacks.

Dr. Joel Rocamora, the lead convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), is a leading academic and civil society expert on agrarian reform and poverty issues whose five-decade commitment to progressive change is unquestionable.

The appointment of party president Ronald Llamas’ to the Development Bank of the Philippines Board (DBP) and of former congressman Mayong Aguja to the GSIS Board puts individuals of known integrity in a position to monitor and expose corruption in those notorious institutions.

Yes, Mr. Casiño, we are pushing for Risa Hontiveros to get a cabinet position for we believe that from there she will able to push the progressive program that netted her nine million votes in the May elections—more than twice, incidentally, the combined votes of the two senatorial candidates of the Bayan Muna block.

That Rep. Casiño would disapprove of Etta Rosales’ heading up the Human Rights Commission is understandable, for Rosales believes in making both the military and the New People’s Army accountable for human rights violations—a principled, evenhanded stand that drives Bayan Muna and its allied organizations mad-dog crazy.

Because it has a massive stake in the success of the reform agenda, Akbayan, in fact, assures Mr. Casiño that we will support the appointment of even more progressive reformers, whether they are allied to the party or not, to positions of responsibility. For here is where we differ fundamentally from Teddy Casiño and his allies: we have a stake in the success of the Aquino administration while he and his ideological comrades have none. Indeed, they have already labeled it “the US-Aquino regime,” which in late 1960’s Pekingese parlance stands for “strategic enemy.” The success of the CCT program and the broader reform agenda will, in their view, simply continue the “swindling of the gullible masses” and prevent them from following Mr. Casiño and the other pied pipers of Bayan Muna to the proletarian nirvana. In the eschatological mindset of Mr. Casiño and his friends, eventual revolutionary “emancipation” dictates that it is better to keep the masses wallowing in their current misery than allow reform to succeed.

One wishes, in fact, that instead of pretending that the CCT and other programs adopted by the administration are the cause of their disaffection with the fledgling Aquino administration, Mr. Casiño and the Bayan Muna block would be transparent and admit that even before he ascended to the presidency in late June, Mr. Aquino had already been essentialized as a reactionary and a “tool of US imperialism” by their handlers in…Reykjavik. Sabi nga ni Mang Pandoy, huwag na tayong maglokohan pa, baby.

Unholy Alliance

There is another political formation that would very much like Mr. Aquino to fail, and this is the faction headed up by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), the interests of which have been thrown into disarray by the ascent to power of the reform coalition. Like Mr. Casiño and his comrades, the GMA faction would lose badly with the triumph of Mr. Aquino’s reform agenda.

It is not surprising then that both groups banded together against the CCT program, with the Bayan Muna block wholeheartedly signing the manifesto criticizing all aspects of the program prepared by the GMA faction. It is not surprising that they joined forces to vote against the 2011 budget, for the cardinal rule of the corrupt transactional politics they jointly adhere to is that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” When we included GMA and the extreme left in what we called the “Coalition against the Poor,” we were not engaging in rhetorical excess. We were calling attention to a nasty political fact.

And facts, my dear Mr. Casiño, are stubborn things.

Sam Miguel
10-31-2011, 01:41 PM
From the New York Times - - -

Did You Hear the One About the Bankers?


CITIGROUP is lucky that Muammar el-Qaddafi was killed when he was. The Libyan leader’s death diverted attention from a lethal article involving Citigroup that deserved more attention because it helps to explain why many average Americans have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The news was that Citigroup had to pay a $285 million fine to settle a case in which, with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.

It doesn’t get any more immoral than this. As the Securities and Exchange Commission civil complaint noted, in 2007, Citigroup exercised “significant influence” over choosing $500 million of the $1 billion worth of assets in the deal, and the global bank deliberately chose collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s, built from mortgage loans almost sure to fail. According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. “The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

Citigroup, which is under new and better management now, settled the case without admitting or denying any wrongdoing. James Stewart, a business columnist for The Times, noted that Citigroup’s flimflam made “Goldman Sachs mortgage traders look like Boy Scouts. In settling its fraud charges for $550 million last year, Goldman was accused by the S.E.C. of being the middleman in a similar deal, allowing the hedge fund manager John Paulson to help choose the mortgages and then bet against them without disclosing this to the other parties. Citigroup dispensed with a Paulson figure altogether, grabbing those lucrative roles for itself.” (Last Thursday, the U.S. District Court judge overseeing the case demanded that the S.E.C. explain how such serious securities fraud could end with the defendant neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing.)

This gets to the core of why all the anti-Wall Street groups around the globe are resonating. I was in Tahrir Square in Cairo for the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and one of the most striking things to me about that demonstration was how apolitical it was. When I talked to Egyptians, it was clear that what animated their protest, first and foremost, was not a quest for democracy — although that was surely a huge factor. It was a quest for “justice.” Many Egyptians were convinced that they lived in a deeply unjust society where the game had been rigged by the Mubarak family and its crony capitalists. Egypt shows what happens when a country adopts free-market capitalism without developing real rule of law and institutions.

But, then, what happened to us? Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry, including real estate, spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined. Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street.

We can’t afford this any longer. We need to focus on four reforms that don’t require new bureaucracies to implement. 1) If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big and needs to be broken up. We can’t risk another trillion-dollar bailout. 2) If your bank’s deposits are federally insured by U.S. taxpayers, you can’t do any proprietary trading with those deposits — period. 3) Derivatives have to be traded on transparent exchanges where we can see if another A.I.G. is building up enormous risk. 4) Finally, an idea from the blogosphere: U.S. congressmen should have to dress like Nascar drivers and wear the logos of all the banks, investment banks, insurance companies and real estate firms that they’re taking money from. The public needs to know.

Capitalism and free markets are the best engines for generating growth and relieving poverty — provided they are balanced with meaningful transparency, regulation and oversight. We lost that balance in the last decade. If we don’t get it back — and there is now a tidal wave of money resisting that — we will have another crisis. And, if that happens, the cry for justice could turn ugly. Free advice to the financial services industry: Stick to being bulls. Stop being pigs.

Sam Miguel
10-31-2011, 01:49 PM
From the New York Times - - -

Beyond Occupy


Since I was passing through India on a reporting project, I decided to drop in on Anna Hazare, the anticorruption campaigner whose admirers speak of him as the reincarnation of Gandhi. Kisan Baburao Hazare (“Anna” is a Marathi honorific meaning “older brother”) has been a figure in provincial Indian affairs for decades, but he galvanized attention this year when his threat to fast to the death shamed the government into endorsing reforms. I wondered what Hazare, as an exemplar of a venerable style of civil pressure, made of Occupy Wall Street.

Back home, the Occupiers have been pandered to (“Love your energy!”); patronized (“Here, I’ve drafted you a list of demands ...”); co-opted by unions, celebrities and activists for various causes; demonized by the right; arrested and tear-gassed in some cities; and taken lightly by the likes of me. They have been a combination national mood ring and political Rorschach test. Perhaps by consulting someone who is a serious candidate for the pantheon of protest, I thought, I could sharpen my own understanding of what the Occupy project means.

About the time I put in my request for an interview, Hazare, exhausted by his latest hunger strike and weary of the media melodramas that have bedeviled his team, announced that he had taken an indefinite “vow of silence.” This raised questions in my mind — Was he planning to continue his protest as a mime? — but of course I had little hope of getting answers from him because ... well, you see the problem.

So I went to visit his associate, Kiran Bedi, who battled for reforms as India’s first policewoman before joining Hazare. Bedi speaks with the intense energy of a high-voltage circuit. No vow of silence for her. And it turned out the subject of Occupy Wall Street has been very much on the minds of Team Anna.

For those who haven’t been following the story, Hazare, 74, is a small landowner’s son with a seventh-grade education, a middle-class background by Indian standards of the time. He first gained some attention by using his army pension to help turn his ancestral village in Maharashtra into a model of rural development — building schools, organizing a dairy cooperative, fighting caste discrimination and alcoholism. One of his early successes as an organizer was a state law that required a vote on banning alcohol in a village if 25 percent of the women — the suffering wives of the indolent and abusive drunks — demanded it.

In his younger days he was given to vigilante tactics — smashing illegal stills, flogging drunks — but in his 60s he adopted the time-honored Indian pressure tactic of the indefinite fast, which, when it works, succeeds through a combination of public fascination and official shame. The political fast has a rich history in societies like India and Ireland that have some experience of starvation and an acute public sense of honor. I can’t imagine it catching on in America, especially if our national compassion is reflected in the likes of Ron (“Let Them Die on the Hospital Doorstep”) Paul and Herman (“If You’re Not Rich, It’s Your Own Fault”) Cain. But in India it is an effective form of coercion. One poll found 87 percent public support for Hazare’s 12-day August fast, and his hunger strikes almost always end in concessions.

Obviously, India is not America, but both countries were born in popular protest (against the same empire) and I found it instructive to examine my Occupying countrymen from this vantage point.

Like Occupy Wall Street, Hazare embodies a national frustration with broken democratic institutions. Indeed, India’s government makes our paralyzed Congress look nimble. Like Occupy, Hazare’s grand grievance is the wholesale diversion of wealth from the middle class and poor to the unworthy few — in India’s case through payoffs, patronage and thievery, in America’s through tax and regulatory policies that have expanded the gap between the richest few and everyone else.

In many telling respects, however, that’s where the similarities end.

“When we started the movement, it was like Occupy,” Bedi told me. “But we went beyond Occupy.”

For starters, while Occupy Wall Street is consensus-oriented and resolutely leaderless, Hazare is very much the center of attention. There was an anticorruption movement before Hazare, but it was fractious and weak until he supplied a core of moral authority. When he announces his intention to starve himself, he parks himself on an elevated platform in a public place, thousands gather, scores of others announce solidarity hunger strikes, and TV cameras congregate, hanging on his every word. Hazare and his entourage can seem self-important and high-handed, but he is a reminder that leadership matters.

Second, the Occupiers are a composite of idealistic causes, many of them vague. “End the Fed,” some placards demand. “End War.” “Get the money out of politics.” Much of the Occupy movement resides at the dreamy level of John Lennon lyrics. “Imagine no possessions. ...”

Hazare, in contrast, is always very explicit about his objectives: fire this corrupt minister, repeal that law bought by a special interest, open public access to official records.

His current mission is the creation of a kind of national anticorruption czar, a powerful independent ombudsman. The measure is advancing, and Team Anna hovers over the Parliament at every step, paying close attention to detail, to make sure nobody pulls the teeth out of it. Instead of a placard, Bedi has a PowerPoint presentation.

Occupy Wall Street is scornful of both parties and generally disdainful of electoral politics. Team Anna (yes, they call themselves that) likewise avoids aligning itself with any party or candidate, but it uses Indian democracy shrewdly, to target obstructionists. Recently Hazare turned a special election for a vacant parliamentary seat into a referendum, urging followers to vote against any party that refused to endorse his anticorruption bill. Hazare has also called for an amendment to the election laws to require that voters always be offered the option of “None of the Above.” When it prevails, parties would have to come up with better candidates.

“What really changes them,” Bedi said of recalcitrant politicians, “is the threat of losing an election.”

The Occupation has at least a strong undercurrent of anticapitalism. Not in India. An attempt to spark an Indian offshoot of Occupy Wall Street — a Facebook campaign branded with pictures of Che Guevara — went pretty much nowhere. Capitalism is one thing most Indians believe in; indeed, as my colleagues in the Delhi bureau have been illustrating in a fascinating series of articles this year, the entire economy is a great capitalist workaround. Hazare’s aim is to stop a political class from usurping the fruits of capitalism.

“We’re not anticapitalism,” Bedi told me. “We’re pro-integrity.”

I UNDERSTAND that it is not the job of a protest to draft legislation, to elect candidates, to agree on a 10-point plan for fixing what ails us. But that does not mean the job of fixing what ails us is any less urgent or admirable. At some point you need the unglamorous business of government, which entails not consensus but hard choices and reasoned compromise. The job of protest is to mobilize a mood — but to mobilize it with purpose.

“Occupy has been, to my mind, an engaging movement, and it’s driving home the message, to the banks, to the Wall Street circles,” Bedi said. “That’s exactly the way Anna did it. But we had a destination. I’m not aware these people — what is their destination? It’s occupy for what?”

I’m prepared to celebrate when the Occupiers — like the lone hunger artist of India — accomplish something more than organizing their own campsite cleanup, demonstrating their tolerance for tear gas, and distracting the conversation a little from the Tea Party. So far, the main achievement of Occupy Wall Street is showing up.

Sam Miguel
11-02-2011, 02:29 PM
From the New York Times - - -

A Long List of Suckers


Last week, I toured the great Mogul compound of Fatehpur Sikri, near the Taj Mahal. My Indian guide mentioned in passing that in the late 1500s, when Afghanistan was part of India and the Mogul Empire, the Iranian Persians invaded Afghanistan in an effort to “seize the towns of Herat and Kandahar” and a great battle ensued. I had to laugh to myself: “Well, add them to that long list of suckers — countries certain that controlling Afghanistan’s destiny was vital to their national security.”

There were already plenty on that list before, and there have been even more since. As America now debates how to extract itself from Iraq and Afghanistan, it is worth re-reading a little Central Asian history and recalling for how many centuries great powers — from India to Persia, from Britain to Russia, and now from America to Iran, Turkey and Pakistan — have wrestled for supremacy in this region, in different versions of what came to be called “The Great Game.” One can only weep at the thought of how much blood and treasure have been expended in this pursuit and how utterly ungreat this game has been in retrospect. No one ever wins for long, and all they win is a bill.

It is with this bias that I think about the debate following President Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq, on schedule, at the end of this year — a decision that has been greeted with much huffing and puffing from hawkish Republicans about how Obama will be remembered for losing Iraq to Iran. Iraq will now fall under Iran’s “influence,” they proclaim, and none of us will ever be able to sleep well again.

Please put me down in the camp that thinks Obama did the right thing and that Iran’s mullahs will not be the winners.

Why? Well, for starters, centuries of history teach us that Arabs and Persians do not play well together. Yes, Iraq has a Shiite Muslim majority and so does Iran. But Iraqi Arab Shiites willingly fought for eight years against Persian Iranian Shiites in the Iran-Iraq war.

Moreover, I am certain that in recent years America’s lingering troop presence in Iraq actually gave Iran greater influence in Baghdad. The U.S., however well intentioned, became a lightening rod that absorbed a lot of Iraqis’ frustrations with their government’s underperformance, and the U.S. “occupation” drew all attention away from Iran’s shenanigans inside Iraq. Iraqis are a proud people. Once our troops are gone, Iraqi Arabs will surely focus entirely on their own government’s performance and on any Iranian or other attempts to try to be the puppeteer of Iraqi politics. Any Iraqi leader seen as Tehran’s lackey will have problems.

Indeed, once we’re gone, I actually think the dominant flow of influence will be from Iraq toward Iran — if (and it is still a big if) — Iraq’s democracy holds. If it does, Iranians will have to look across the border every day at Iraqis, with their dozens of free newspapers and freedom to form any party and vote for any leader, and wonder why these “inferior” Iraqi Arab Shiites enjoy such freedoms and “superior” Iranian Persian Shiites do not.

“Iran’s interests were served by the Arab status quo ante — ideologically bankrupt regimes brutalizing disenfranchised populations,” argues Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “The more representative governments there are in the Middle East, the more it highlights the fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a salmon swimming upstream against the current of history.”

Some say Iran was the geopolitical winner of the U.S. intervention in Iraq. I’d hold off on that judgment, too. “The Iranian regime is at its lowest moment of influence in the region — 14 percent popularity in the latest Zogby poll,” remarked Abbas Milani, who teaches Iranian politics at Stanford. What you see today if you look underneath the Islamic revolutionary facade in Iran, added Milani, “is a flourishing of painting, films and music, driven by technology. It is a society seeking its own bottom-up blend of Islam and modernity. The regime has no role in this.”

Just as I don’t buy the notion that we need to keep playing The Great Game in Iraq, I also don’t buy it for Afghanistan.

“If the U.S. steps back, it will see that it has a lot more options,” argues C. Raja Mohan, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research, in New Delhi. “You let the contending regional forces play out against each other and then you can then tilt the balance.” He is referring to the India, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China and Northern Alliance tribes in Afghanistan. “At this point, you have the opposite problem. You are sitting in the middle and are everyone’s hate-object, and everyone sees some great conspiracy in whatever you do. Once you pull out, and create the capacity to alter the balance, you will have a lot more options and influence to affect outcomes — rather than being pushed around and attacked by everyone.”

America today needs much more cost-efficient ways to influence geopolitics in Asia than keeping troops there indefinitely. We need to better leverage the natural competitions in this region to our ends. There is more than one way to play The Great Game, and we need to learn it.

Sam Miguel
11-02-2011, 02:36 PM
From the New York Times - - -

Air Power’s Century of False Promises


A HUNDRED years ago today, an Italian airman named Giulio Gavotti dropped three hand grenades out of his monoplane onto a camp of Arab and Turkish troops at Ain Zara, just east of Tripoli, during the Italian-Turkish War. It was the world’s first aerial bombardment. Each grenade weighed three pounds, and it is likely that no one was hurt. “I came back really pleased with the result,” Lieutenant Gavotti wrote to his father. Italian newspapers raved about the sortie: “Terrorized Turks Scatter.”

From this modest beginning, the air raid as a style of war grew both in scale and imagination. Popular novelists like H. G. Wells had been fantasizing about war by airship and flying machine since the late 19th century. When the First World War began, these science fiction scenes recurred in the policy assessments of military planners, who assumed that victory and defeat in a bombing war would be absolute and immediate.

In 1914, Rear Adm. Paul Behncke, deputy chief of the German naval staff, noted that a raid upon the government buildings in the Whitehall section of London would “cause panic in the population which may possibly render it doubtful that the war can be continued.” In January 1915, the raids began; by the end of the war, German zeppelins had dropped 6,000 bombs on Britain — and killed 556 people. In 1917 Gen. Jan Smuts predicted, “The day may not be far off when aerial operations with their devastation of enemy lands and destruction of industrial and populous centers on a vast scale may become the principal operations of war.”

Bombing always promised to transform war. “No longer will the tedious and expensive process of wearing down the enemy’s land forces by continuous attacks be resorted to,” argued Billy Mitchell, the father of the United States Air Force, in the 1920s. He went on to insist that bombing must surely cause “the amelioration and bettering of conditions in war because it will bring quick and lasting results.”

This was an attractive alternative to the messy land-based wars of the past, and air power’s most enthusiastic proponents were haunted by the memory of the trenches of the First World War, most powerfully described by the poet Wilfred Owen, who famously wrote, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,/ Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge.” Owen had wanted to be an airman, but like so many others, he was killed as a soldier on French soil. More than 57,000 British soldiers fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme alone.

Nothing could be as horrific as that, and if you have to fight a war somewhere, you might prefer the sky to the mud. On May 30, 1942, the Royal Air Force launched its first 1,000-bomber raid on a German city, Cologne. Two weeks later, the commander in chief of Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, wrote to Winston Churchill requesting a still greater bomber force. This was the only way, he insisted, to keep British troops from massacre “in the mud of Flanders and France.” At the Casablanca conference in January 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed upon a joint bombing offensive. Between July 1944 and April 1945, this combined Anglo-American campaign dropped over a million tons of bombs upon Europe.

The wars go on, as does the bombing. Between 1950 and 1953 the United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs on Korea, in addition to 32,557 tons of napalm. According to the historian Bruce Cumings: “Korea recapitulated the air force’s mantra from World War II, that firebombing would erode enemy morale and end the war sooner.” This wishful thinking continued to determine strategy. On Feb. 13, 1965, President Johnson ordered the start of the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign. Gen. Maxwell Taylor imagined “a slow but inexorable barrage of air attacks advancing to the north, capable of convincing the Hanoi government that everything in the Hanoi area was going to be destroyed unless the leaders mended their ways.”

Perhaps the bombs sped the ends of these wars, though we can’t know for sure. But no one would claim that bombing campaigns made Vietnam a clean conflict, that they made Korea efficient. Any history of bombing must also be a history of civilian casualty, for bombing saves the lives of soldiers only at the expense of other lives. The statistics of civilian deaths by bombing are always unreliable, but perhaps 500,000 German civilians were killed by Allied air raids during the Second World War. Operation Rolling Thunder is estimated to have killed 182,000 North Vietnamese civilians.

Nonetheless, we continue to shape our wars around a utopian idea about bombing. In March of this year, French planes bombed Libyan tanks outside Benghazi, and began a NATO campaign which lasted until the death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Oct. 20. That single event is telling: an American Predator drone and a French warplane were in the skies overhead, but it was Libyan foot soldiers on the ground who captured their former leader.

Aerial bombardment is a form of warfare that was designed as an escape from the past. And yet each new conflict is only another episode in bombing’s long history of promises about “cost-free” victory and clean war. For each example of a conflict apparently made easier by air power, there is a counter-example of a war which air power has only served to complicate and intensify. While the conflict in Libya would almost certainly have been far bloodier in the absence of NATO air power, bombing raids by Predator and Reaper drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a focus for anti-American sentiment. Bombing is an unpredictable weapon, and perhaps its greatest danger is that, in suggesting an easy conflict, it draws us into wars we might otherwise have avoided. In that way, it is both the symbol of our faith in technology, and the sign of our entrapment in the past.

This summer, a NATO plane bombed Ain Zara — now a suburb of Tripoli. A century later, we’re back where we began.

11-16-2011, 09:44 AM
The drama of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo continues. My beef against her is, although some people are saying she is also corrupt starting with her DTI days, she tolerated massive corruption by her underlings. About the election sabotage, why did she call Garci in the first place? Why did she call those election officials to Malacanang? For dinner?

11-16-2011, 10:28 AM
To the lawyers out there: What happens if during the Motion for Reconsideration the oral arguments somehow persuaded two justices to switch votes (always happens di ba ;D)? And the TRO is revoked. Can they ask Gloria to return? :D

Sam Miguel
11-16-2011, 10:38 AM
^^^ Yes they can, but actually getting her to return is the problem. Joe talked about this at length last Saturday when we (with Kid Cubao) were at a friend's place drinking, the law is not a bar to common sense. Preventing a person of interest from leaving is standard law enforcement practice across the globe.

Sam Miguel
11-16-2011, 10:40 AM
From Bill Dwyre of the New York Times ___

Penn State Scandal Can't be Swept Under a Rug

Sadly, disgustingly, the enabling of an alleged pedophile should finally be the catalyst for cleaning up big-time college sports.

In a week, Joe Paterno has become old news. He has hired lawyers and public relations advisors. The ducking and weaving begins. Nothing we have heard — and we certainly would have by now — indicates that there was any rationality for what he did other than mindless jock-mentality loyalty. The good old boys club had to be maintained and protected.

Which is exactly what the NCAA has done for years.

There are two kinds of college athletes. There are the rowers and hurdlers and there is football and basketball. Don't think for one moment that Group A has the same collegiate experience as Group B. But Group A has value. It provides nice window dressing for the big lie, which is that this is all about education and character building. With Group A, it is.

If you preach education and character, you must live it. When profit and excess become the motives, rather than the mission, there is something rotten in Denmark.

The NCAA is the mothership here, the aircraft carrier of so-called amateur collegiate sport in our country. Penn State takes off and lands on its deck. So do all the other superpowers, en route to bowl games and Final Fours.

So how has the NCAA reacted to this most grievous of events, with all of its gut-wrenching imagery? As it always does, with careful posturing and statements, probably coming from lawyers. Certainly not from hearts.

Mark Emmert is the current occupant of the NCAA throne. He was interviewed by this paper last week for his reaction to Penn State, and we got parsing and careful word-choosing.

"First, of course, this is a criminal matter," Emmert said, eagerly pointing the finger elsewhere.

He added all the stuffed-shirt stuff, that the NCAA would monitor the situation and, "as the facts become established, we will conduct our own inquiry."

As the facts become established? Did he read the grand jury testimony? Has he retained that same image of a 10-year-old in a shower that the rest of us have? You can wait for Alan Dershowitz to ride into town and you can preach all the due process you want, but it's going to take five years and 100 boxcars full of deodorant to get rid of this stench.

Asked if Penn State might be sanctioned for lack of institutional control, Emmert said it was "one of the things we will look at."

Are you kidding? An alleged pedophile is enabled for years. Penn State was sure in control of that.

If you are Emmert and you are facing a controversial situation, it is usually advisable to go slow, to be cautious. But this one trumps any other conceivable situation. This is the mother lode of ugly stuff. This one cries out for crying out, for some fire and brimstone, some anger shown in public. This one pleads for assurance that it won't be handled by appointing a committee and studying recommendations until 2019.

Stand up and pound on a lectern. Say all the things you must feel. Say you don't know the specifics of what the NCAA can and will do, but you will find out fast, and, for once, let some reasonable emotion override whatever lawyers are whispering in your ear. Delivering action is important. More important is vowing that you will.

Let us see a heartbeat.

There is time to show restraint and there is time to show guts. Make Teddy Roosevelt proud. Don't let the NCAA speak crookedly and carry a soft stick. Why is it these days that the people who get mad as hell and refuse to take it anymore are only in the movies?

Put a big scare in the other big guys. Avoid the impression that the NCAA isn't doing anything to anybody else these days because it used up all its venom on USC.

The Penn State situation stands alone in the history of NCAA big-time sports ugliness. The recent others that have been big deals — Reggie Bush, Cam Newton's daddy, Notre Dame putting a student videographer at risk on a wind-blown day that cost him his life, the smarm of Jim Tressel, the football program run amok at Miami — all pale in comparison.

Those were greed and stupidity, a staple of big-time college sports. Penn State's defies descriptors.

The NCAA is the core provider and enabler — yes, there's that word again — of them all. And Penn State has shown how rotten that core is.

If you are a college president at a school with big-time sports, you have to wonder how much guilt by association this Penn State thing has brought to your campus. If the brotherhood of big-time college sports is allowed to protect and foster what happened at Penn State, what else is getting the secret wink and handshake? And where?

The worst thing that can happen in the wake of all this is that it is smothered in sealed documents, court delays and plea bargains, and our short attention spans bring us back to being horrified by some wide receiver's getting a free car.

Given the track record of the NCAA and big-time college sports, that's exactly how this will go. Unless somebody, of some authority, stands up, kicks a wastebasket and makes the kind of noise that will make a difference.

How about this for noise. The NCAA shut down the Southern Methodist football program for two years for recruiting violations. That is known as the "death penalty." Weigh that against a program of alleged pedophile-enablers and the next step is easy.

All that is needed is heart, common sense and guts, none of that currently evident at the NCAA

Sam Miguel
11-16-2011, 10:55 AM
From Sandy Banks of the New York Times ___

Vigilance is Powerful for the Parents of Teenagers

When young people are taking risks and testing boundaries, tough love is just a start.

It was a campus forum on teen suicide, for parents alarmed by the recent deaths of three students with ties to Agoura High.

The crowd was standing-room only. The questions had a tragic subtext — and desperate edge:

Could their sons and daughters — the products of carefully cultivated, privileged lives in suburbia — be harboring the kind of pain that makes a teenager want to die?

The week before, just after noon on Halloween, Agoura High senior Dan Behar had texted his friends, telling them where to find his body, then had driven off a steep embankment in nearby Malibu State Park. The popular 17-year-old was dead by the time rescue teams arrived.

The morning before that, a former Agoura High student had been found dead at a friend's home after a Saturday night party. Authorities said alcohol poisoning probably killed 18-year-old Griffen Kramer, who played football for nearby Thousand Oaks High.

And earlier that week, Agoura High graduate Josh Feinberg, home from college in Santa Barbara, jumped to his death from a cliff over Malibu Creek. He had turned 21 the week before. He had texted friends before he jumped and had left a suicide note in his car.

The string of deaths sparked an outpouring of grief among teenagers, who posted online tributes and staged candlelight vigils. The school brought in counselors for an assembly on dealing with pain, anger, depression, guilt. The students talked about painting murals, making bracelets, creating a memorial yearbook page.

The parents had different concerns: How do you tell the difference between moodiness and mental illness? When do you move from talk therapy to Prozac? How do we get our teenagers to open up and talk to us?

The counselors' answers weren't exactly what they expected to hear.

The Conejo Valley is 35 miles from gritty downtown Los Angeles — and a world away. It's a place of pastoral beauty: winding roads, horse trails and hiking paths against the backdrop of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The schools are good and the crime rate is low. In an era of shifting demographics, Agoura Hills is 78% white; more than half its adults are college grads; and more than one-quarter of its households make more than $150,000 a year.

And its parents, like parents everywhere, are often tripped up by what they don't know.

"We try to compare our children's lives to what we remember from high school. How many of you could get heroin in high school? Raise your hands," family counselor Alan Ludington said. No hands went up. "Well, your children can."

The spike in suicides is frightening, but it is also an opportunity to shine a light on other problems that pose threats to their children's lives.

"One in six teenagers will have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol before they leave high school," he said. And the most common sources in communities like theirs are homes with unlocked liquor cabinets and unused pills in the medicine chest. And parents with open wallets, closed eyes and unwitting ignorance.

The dealer supplying their children with pot, cocaine and Xanax bars isn't some scuzzy guy driving out from inner-city Los Angeles, but the kid in the back row in English class, with a marijuana card or a physician dad or a drug connection in Malibu.

There was silence while that settled, then parents began weighing in. They complained about stress from the workload at school, parents who supply liquor at teenagers' parties, the bad-apple kids in their children's cliques.

One mother, her voice slightly trembling, raised her hand and challenged them. "Probably half the parents in this room know who the kids are who are dealing the drugs, and they're still letting them in the their homes," she said.

Ludington, a counselor for 30 years and father of two college-aged sons, tried to push parents toward vigilance. Even the most innocent rituals seemed to have a hint of "reefer madness:"

After a party, don't let your kids sleep over at a friend's because you won't know what they've done. Drug test them when they come home, and warn them that you will. Bird-dog your teenagers' buddies when they visit, so they're not stealing your Vicodin.

And how do you clamp down on your kids without making them hate you for it? One father had the nerve to ask, but that was the question on all our minds.

Ludington knocked it out of the park.

"You're not trying to be popular," he said. "Your job is to make sure your kid survives adolescence."

It seemed strange to sit in that room and talk about black tar heroin and prescription cocktails and kids squirting drugs into their eyes instead of smoking or injecting them. Those are supposed to be some other community's problems. That's what these parents moved to the hinterlands to avoid.

I went home that night, grateful I'd managed to get my daughters safely through adolescence, in a world where the threats keep multiplying and the age-old advice — tough love — seems frighteningly inadequate.

I went online and looked at the tribute pages created by friends for the young men who died. Almost every shared memory referenced alcohol, partying or drugs.

He was always there to throw insane parties that will never be forgotten.

A good guy who would share his weed with anyone.

One boy had apparently spent part of his sophomore year in rehab and came back to a circle of friends willing to supply him with alcohol and drugs.

I thought back to what might have been the most important thing counselor Ludington said all night. And it's not about policing but about helping children to make good choices.

"Right now the kids are setting the standard. As a community, you've got to change that," he told the parents. "It's up to us to give our kids another outlet, besides Friday night with a bong."

Sam Miguel
11-16-2011, 01:28 PM
From the Los Angeles Times ___

Newt Gingrich and the Presidential Cauldron

In the Shakespearean comedy/tragedy that is the Republican presidential race, it's apparently time for a little eye of Newt.

The Grand Old Party has seemingly dispensed with Michele "Lady Macbeth" Bachmann, who learned it's still a man's world after all. Also Herman "Othello" Cain, brought low by sexual innuendo. And then the third candidate, uh, let me think, uh, oops -- oh right, Rick Perry, who, having posed the question "To be, or not to be," found out that the answer is the latter.

So now it's Newt Gringrich's turn to rise as the great conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

As The Times headline read Tuesday: "Newt Gingrich, rising in polls, isn't at all surprised."

And why should he be surprised? Here's the ever-humble Gingrich's honest appraisal of himself: "I have more substance than any other candidate in modern history."

Of course, he may also have as much baggage as any candidate in modern history:

Gingrich still faces a number of high hurdles -- little money, scant on-the-ground presence in the early-voting states and, because few took him seriously until recently, the likelihood of fresh scrutiny of matters such as his two divorces and acknowledged adultery, and his post-congressional work as a paid advisor to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Not to mention the question of whether the prickly Gingrich can connect with the common man. For example, at a time when many Americans are struggling just to make ends meet, he talks about how he mused about those problems while on vacation in Greece last summer.

So when he says stuff like "I'm like a lot of other Americans. I'm looking for a job" -- this from a man who lives in the tony Washington suburb of McLean, Va., not to mention one who has a million dollars in revolving credit at Tiffany and Co. -- well, let's just say it comes across a bit forced.

Even conservative Times columnist Jonah Goldberg has mixed feelings about Gingrich.

As Goldberg says in his Tuesday column:

[T]he core of his strategy has been to plant a question in the minds of Republican voters. The question he wants them to ask is, "Whom would you most like to see debate Barack Obama?"

Goldberg calls that strategy "brilliant" -- but with caveats:

The risk for Gingrich is that primary voters may eventually recognize what he's up to. After all, as a purely practical matter, the point of picking a Republican nominee isn't to find the candidate who can beat Obama in a debate but to pick the nominee who can beat Obama in an election (oh, and be a good president too, a worthy subject for another day). Winning debates is great and important -- as Perry has painfully learned -- but they are a means to an end, not an end unto themselves.

It's an open question whether Gingrich can defeat Obama in 2012.

And isn't that the Republican Party's dilemma in nutshell? Many in the party seemingly don't want Romney, so they keep auditioning alternatives, all of whom come up short.

Gingrich will probably suffer the same fate. But hey, he's already a winner. As The Times story Tuesday said, at a meet-and-greet stop in Jefferson, Iowa, on Monday, "he was introduced as a top contender for the GOP nomination for president."

"It's the first time anybody, anywhere has introduced me as the leading candidate, which is kind of neat," said a clearly pleased Gingrich.

Even the smartest guy in the room likes to be liked.

11-16-2011, 01:32 PM
^ Unless Republicans can find a better candidate, voters will return Obama to office despite economic and unemployment concerns.

Sam Miguel
11-16-2011, 01:35 PM
From the Los Angeles Times book review section ___

'Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America' by Adam Winkler

Adam Winkler's "Gunfight" is a potboiler of constitutional interpretation and is both a vital history and an intellectually satisfying, emotionally rewarding tale of a great case.

The backbone of his book is District of Columbia vs. Heller, a landmark gun-control case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008. As a contest of constitutional principles, Heller tested the question of whether the famously ambiguous 2nd Amendment ("A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed") protected militias and reached individuals only derivatively or whether it guaranteed every American the right to own a firearm. No decision of the Supreme Court had ever reached the latter conclusion, and others had tipped the other way, upholding, for instance, the right of the government to restrict machine guns.

But Heller is more than a case. Dick Heller was a Washington, D.C., security guard who lived across the street from a crime-ridden abandoned housing project. He was allowed to carry a firearm at work, but when he applied for a permit to bring one home to defend himself, he was barred under district law from getting one.

Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, could certainly be forgiven if he chose to concentrate on Heller the case and ignore Heller the person. Constitutional theory is intentionally impersonal, but cases also are human stories, with suffering and conflict, drama and history. Winkler recognizes that and mines it.

As Winkler plumbs the historical record, he follows it with curiosity and intellectual honesty. Generations of court scholars have simply announced that the record is clear on whether the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. For decades, the consensus was that it did not; then, more recently, the analysis began to shift in favor of an individual rights' reading of that same frustrating language. Winkler discovers ancient British antecedents that do suggest support for an individual rights' reading and notes that in early America, federal law not only allowed for possession of individual weapons but in some cases required it — what Winkler slyly describes as "the founding fathers' version of an individual mandate."

And yet, even as he produces evidence of early recognition of gun rights, Winkler also uncovers substantial historical support for gun control restricting those rights. "The right to bear arms in the colonial era was not a libertarian license to do whatever a person wanted with a gun," Winkler writes. "When public safety demanded that gun owners do something, the government was recognized to have the authority to make them do it." Thus, gun owners were barred from selling guns to Native Americans and blacks — and to those who refused to swear allegiance to the Crown.

As American society grew, gun rights and gun control continued to coexist and produce some of our history's more remarkable bedfellows. Early supporters of gun control included the Ku Klux Klan, which saw it as a way to disarm blacks, and a later backer was California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who admired it as a way to stymie the Black Panthers, whose revolutionary identity sprung from its enthusiastic display of firearms. Many of the towns of the Wild West required residents and visitors to check their weapons; indeed, gun control laws in many of those places were more restrictive than today's statutes. Even the National Rifle Assn. supported limits on who could own guns and waiting periods for those who sought to buy handguns.

As Winkler explores this complicated and fascinating history, he dips in and out of the Heller case. That can produce frustrating reading, as Winkler loops back to the case and reminds readers of details and history, sometimes repetitively.

That annoyance is small, however, compared with the reward. His book climaxes in the Heller ruling, which he examines with the same even-handedness that characterizes the rest of "Gunfight." The majority opinion in Heller was written by Justice Antonin Scalia and was hailed as a triumph of originalism, the shady legal doctrine that has many adherents but little to show for itself as a method of constitutional interpretation. In this case, Scalia bolstered his conclusion that the 2nd Amendment did protect an individual right by scouring history; his more important triumph may have been that he coaxed the dissenters to do the same, seeming to validate the method even though the sides reached opposite conclusions.

But once the dust had settled on Heller, it was conservatives who lit upon the vacuity of Scalia's method and opinion. Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a leading conservative contender for the Supreme Court, accused Scalia of doing precisely what conservatives often accuse liberals of: importing his own values into the Constitution. Heller and Roe vs. Wade, he charged, "are guilty of the same sins."

Most damning, however, was the critique of Nelson Lund, a conservative law professor with deep knowledge of the 2nd Amendment and admiration for originalism. Lund spotted the sleight of hand in Scalia's work: The real question for originalists was not whether the 2nd Amendment protected the right to bear arms but whether the District of Columbia's ban on handguns violated that right. In answering that question, Scalia had written that handguns today "are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid."

But that's not originalism. Scalia's observation about the prevalence of handguns today may support striking down the D.C. law, but it says nothing about the founders' views. Moreover, the majority went on to allow for a number of exceptions to the individual right it was announcing. Governments still could ban guns in schools or government buildings — the Supreme Court, notably, does not allow guns inside — and they could bar the mentally ill or ex-felons from owning guns. But none of those exceptions existed when the 2nd Amendment was written, so where did Scalia discover the originalist support for them? The obvious answer is that he didn't. He wrote an opinion that supported his policy preference and then draped it in constitutional authority. In Heller, Scalia produces an opinion that, as Lund puts it, makes "originalism look as lawless and result-oriented" as the liberal activism it's intended to counter.

Winkler's analysis of all this is delivered with panache and clarity. His book is an antidote to so much in the gun debate that is one-sided and dishonest. "Gunfight" reminds us that guns are part of American culture and will continue to be. And that gun control is as well.

11-17-2011, 08:51 AM
Sa mga lawyers: Can estoppel be used against GMA?

"In its simplest sense, estoppel prevents a person from disclaiming his previous act, to the prejudice of another who relied on the representations created by such previous act.

"The logic behind the doctrine comes from the common societal value that a person must not be allowed to profit from his own wrong," the opinion read.

Hear gov't side first

Sereno said that the high court has to exercise fairness, which requires that the government must be heard.

"Petitioner Arroyo comes before this court assailing the constitutionality of the said circular (DC No. 41), which was issued by Alberto Agra, the justice secretary appointed by petitioner during her incumbency as president. This circular bears the stamp of petitioner as president ordering the consolidation of the rules governing watch list order.

"Under the doctrine of qualified political agency, the acts and issuances of Agra are acts of the president... Thus, the acts which petitioner claims to have violated her constitutional rights are the acts of her alter ego, and consequently, her own," the opinion read.


Sam Miguel
11-25-2011, 11:29 AM
Lead editorial of the LA Times today, ibang klase talaga Kano, san pa nga naman ba nagmana Pinoy - - -

Buying off Occupy L.A.

In attempting to get the protesters to leave, City Hall is willing to give away the farm — literally.

If the Occupy L.A. protesters will just leave their tent city at City Hall, officials promise to supply them with offices. And a farm. And a place to live, for the homeless demonstrators who have drifted over to the encampment from skid row. And, er, how about a pony? Would you guys leave if we gave you a pony?

Jim Lafferty, an attorney who has been negotiating with the city on behalf of the demonstrators, revealed the details of the city's offer Monday night, to wildly mixed reviews among the Occupy crowd, a leaderless group that doesn't much appreciate private backroom negotiations among people they didn't elect to represent them. Actually, we're not thrilled with that notion either. If public resources are going to be handed out, shouldn't the talks be in the open? Although details remain highly unclear, apparently the city is willing to give away 10,000 square feet of office space for $1 a year in rent and supply a plot of land to those protesters who want to farm.

This page has called, more than once, for a creative, negotiated solution to the occupation that doesn't involve police in riot gear rousting nonviolent protesters, a scene that has played out in too many cities and university campuses for our taste. But giving away taxpayer-supported goodies to placate the group — whose cause, while worthy, isn't necessarily more noble than many others in the past that haven't received such generous offers from the city — isn't quite what we had in mind. And we're troubled by the political implications for the city, which by giving office space to the Occupy movement seems to be endorsing its aims and agenda.

If the mayor and City Council do agree to give special perks to Occupy L.A., they should explain why they didn't give similar bonuses to, say, the South Central Farmers, who launched a years-long protest in 2006 to save a community garden in South L.A. that had been seized by the city but was returned to its former owner. Or to the May Day protesters who march yearly downtown to protest federal immigration policies. Or to any future group — neo-Nazis, anyone? — that holds City Hall for ransom by camping out there for a few months in the name of protest. Occupy L.A. has raised some legitimate points about income disparity, but that hardly entitles it to free office space.

We wouldn't object if the city found another plot of public land somewhere for the protesters to camp on. And there's no burning need to kick these demonstrators out immediately (the lawn is already dead, after all). But buying them off sets a bad precedent that we suspect few voters would appreciate.

11-28-2011, 09:27 PM
Alan Paguia is saying that the poll sabotage law is unconstitutional. The DOJ-Comelec panel is claimed to be also unconstitutional. Executive Orders were found to be unconstitutional. Many lower court decisions are reversed on appeal.The SC also flip-flops several times. Why are these happening?

We also have so many non-bailable offenses. A middle-aged woman sells 5 pieces of shabu and is hauled to jail without bail. 20 years or life imprisonment as mandated by law. Not proportionate to the crime. Just saw on TV that ex-PBA player Dennis Espino has a warrant of arrest for serious illegal detention and the judge ordered NO BAIL. WTF?

Government lawyers should be careful. If they oppose house arrest and Gloria is found innocent of these 2007 cheating charges (some say the government case is weak), Noynoy and his underlings would really look vindictive and incompetent.

11-29-2011, 07:15 AM
^ Alan Paguia was once "suspended indefinitely" from practicising law for getting in the face of the Supreme Court. He is the so-called authority in this country in Statutory Construction, and he probably thinks this is what gives him the authority and gravitas to tell others what the law really is and what it really means. Apart from being an apparent attention grabber that is about all he has going for him, not exactly inspiring confidence in his "legal pronouncements".

By the way, when did his suspension get lifted? I take it he is practising again?

11-29-2011, 07:56 AM
^ I know but I think it was more due to insubordination than his knowledge of the law. Wasn't he a professor at Ateneo Law School? His reason was something like the poll sabotage law was discriminatory (like the Truth Commission). Something to do about 5,000 or 10,000 votes vs. a higher number to make it non-bailable... And the right venue where to file such cases...

11-29-2011, 10:02 AM
Re Hacienda Luisita, the farmers are now asking that the land be given to them for free. This is discriminatory. How about other poor farmers tilling the land in smaller haciendas or farms? I recall the comment by our household help re the demands of squatters that they be given this or that for free before their houses are demolished. Sabi niya, kami di lumabag ng batas at di kami nag squat sa lupa na di naming pag-aari. Tumira kami sa Bacoor na malayo at nag babayad kami ng rent. Bakit special ba sila? Tumira na nga sila ng libre na matagal dyan at kung anu-ano pa ang hinihingi.

Sam Miguel
11-29-2011, 10:24 AM
^ We have the ever so stupid Lina Law foisted upon this country by the imbecile Joey Lina for this situation.

Speaking of stupid situations, I've always been intrigued by those fighting for or espousing women's rights, especially in this country.

Do we have a specific law still in effect that specifically dsicrminates against or targets women? Because to my knowledge we do not have laws that take anything away from women specifically.

Labor laws are non-gender specific, everyone gets equal pay for equal work, or at least that is what it says in the laws.

Voting is non-gender specific, all citizens regardless of gender may vote.

Public schools and a number of private schools all admit men and women.

If anything it is men who are discriminated against, I think.

The Family Code specifies that children under seven years of age are deemed to choose their mother in custody battles.

I took a survey along our street and adjacent streets and 15 out of 17 places renting rooms or apartment admit women only, not men.

Women had maternity leave long before men got paternity leave rights.

Female spouses who abandon their families, to my knowledge, do not have to pay any child support to the abandoned husband and children under our laws.

So what rights are women supposedly not getting...?

11-29-2011, 11:57 AM
^ Amen!

12-01-2011, 12:15 PM
Hoy, Binay, huwag ka na pumunta sa China para isalvar yan mga drug mules na yan. Sayang lang ang pera at di ka naman papakinggan nila. Maybe you can gain one or two months reprieve at tayo pa ang may utang na loob.Tapos iexecute din nila ang mga yan.

There are more than 70 Filipinos on death row in China. So what are you going to do? Go there every time?

Sam Miguel
12-02-2011, 07:12 AM
From the Inquirer ___

Unheralded High Achievers

By: Raul J. Palabrica Jr.

Metro Manila-based colleges and universities are no longer assured of their graduates dominating, if not topping, government licensure examinations.

Last Monday, the Inquirer reported (as front page news, mind you) that graduates of the Catanduanes State Colleges bagged the top three places in the board exams for civil engineers given earlier this month.

They bested graduates of the University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Technological Institute of the Philippines and Mapúa Institute of Technology who used to lord it over these tests.

Although this is not the first time that alumni of the lone state college in Catanduanes made good in the exams, bagging the top three slots may be considered phenomenal considering the quality of the competition.

What makes the results more interesting is, the Top 10 consisted of graduates of “promdi” (the snooty Manila-inspired description for people who come from the provinces) schools in Bulacan, Davao, Mindoro Oriental and Zambales.

The feat merited the publication of the photos of the three Catanduanes graduates in the Inquirer, a privilege often given only to topnotchers of the bar exams.

This fixation with the law profession, which dates back to the country’s colonial past, is prevalent also in other broadsheets and media outlets.


The results of government licensure tests in recent years have shown that graduates of private and public educational institutions outside Metro Manila are no longer the pushovers they were once thought to be.

The “Imperial Manila” syndrome (or the impression that anything that comes from the national capital is better than the rest of the country) has engendered the belief that only Metro Manila schools are capable of providing quality education.

Sleek publicity about graduates of these schools dominating board exams and famous personalities touting their links with so-called elite campuses have bred feelings of inferiority among students who, for financial or personal reasons, opt to study in their hometowns.

This sense of inadequacy is further reinforced when province mates studying in Metro Manila who come home for the holidays strut around with superior airs or engage in activities that tend to show that their rural counterpart have much to learn from them.

To aggravate matters, advertisements for new hires in private companies often state their preference for graduates of certain Metro Manila schools. The subliminal message is, those who got their education elsewhere are better off trying their luck in companies with less demanding academic credentials.


The prejudice for certain graduates can also be felt in companies whose key executives or human resource personnel are fanatically devoted to their alma mater.

These are the types whose rooms are lined with knickknacks that show their school logo, or who skip work to attend basketball games that involve their school teams, or who instinctively come up with petty remarks when positive statements are made about their school rival.

Thus, if the alumni of, say, UP, Ateneo or La Salle, are in positions of influence in a company, expect them to give priority to applicants whose curriculum vitae include their school.

When confronted about this discriminatory attitude, they usually give the excuse that they know what their fellow alumni went through before getting their diploma so they have more confidence in their ability to take on the jobs applied for.

Bluntly stated, the “other school” graduate is an unknown factor whose skills have yet to be tried or tested, so why take the risk.

If at all, exceptions are made from this elitist posture only when the applicant is too good to be left off to competitors, or has a backer who cannot be turned down without adverse consequences.

Unless he holds a key position in the company, his “peculiar” academic credentials will nonetheless give rise to subtle acts of discrimination or put him out of the loop when fellow alumni in the staff talk about school-related matters.


Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that provincial residents prefer to come to Metro Manila for the education that, in their mind, would assure their passing the licensure exams for their chosen professions and, in the process, be assured of gainful employment in the future.

The exemplary showing of graduates of provincial schools in these tests should spur companies that still hold traditional views about Metro Manila-acquired education to undertake a serious review of their employment policies.

Thanks to the Internet and other modern means of instruction, the quality of education in colleges and universities outside Imperial Manila has im proved tremendously.

In fact, the results of the periodic assessment examinations conducted for primary and secondary students all over the country consistently show that many of the students in the provinces outshine their Metro Manila counterpart in mathematics and science.

It helps that the provincial students are not bothered by the problems of traffic congestion, pollution and other distractions that Metro Manila residents have to bear with as part of their daily living.

The provincial students have to thank their stars that, considering their less stressful living conditions, they are able to focus on their studies better and, as a result, are able to go toe to toe with graduates of Metro Manila-based schools in government licensure examinations.

Next time the results of these tests are published, it would be interesting to find out how many graduates of provincial schools are in the Top 10.

12-02-2011, 08:08 AM
^ Yung ibang schools po kasi dinadaan na sa yabang (school pride or more of arrogance) ang galing. Was a part of one of these "provincial" state universities pero high school lang. Helped me to get to the State U.

Positive development to the country as a whole. Gawing competitive na lang sa international marker.

But as one of my friends in Singapore said, overrated ang schools sa Singapore.Techie lang daw sila. ;D

Now kung yabang lang ang pitch ng ilang schools (or students kasi sa student rin yan), well you would get is "hangin". :D

Sam Miguel
12-05-2011, 09:04 AM
From the LA Times ___

What's so Awful about the 1%?

Occupy Wall Street has said it's the 99% of 'us' against the 1% of 'them.' But many of 'them' started out like 'us' and have brought us great innovations that we embrace. The class war is on. It's the 99% of "us" versus the 1% of "them."

In the rhetoric of this war, we are fighting the 1% because they possess most of the nation's wealth, bankroll their handpicked political candidates, control the banks and get million-dollar paychecks and billion-dollar bailouts; yet they don't pay enough taxes or invest their wealth in creating American jobs. They're the "millionaires and billionaires" President Obama has called out as needing to pony up more for progressive reforms of our healthcare, banking, tax and political systems. They are the enemy of "us" — the 99% who toil at low-wage jobs, hold underwater mortgages, face foreclosures, suffer recurrent and protracted job layoffs and plant closings, and yet pay our fair share of taxes.

But there's a flaw in this strategy. The Occupy Wall Street movement envisions the 1% as a monolithic cadre of entrenched billionaires who have a firm and self-serving grip on all the levers of the economy. But a closer look at that elite group reveals how untrue that perspective is.

Forbes magazine compiles a list of the richest 400 Americans every year. To get on that list, you must have at least $1 billion of wealth. They are the creme de la creme of the 1% — indeed, the top 0.0000013% (!) of Americans. So who are these dastardly people?

The late Steve Jobs was in that elite club this year. In his earlier days, Jobs would have been camped out with the OWS crowd, probably passing around a joint. Should we count him as one of "us" or one of "them"? (And you can't use your iPhone or iPad to vote "them.")

Then there's 27-year old Mark Zuckerman (No. 14 on the Forbes list), whose Facebook innovation enables the OWS movement to communicate so easily. He and five other Facebook entrepreneurs just joined the Forbes 400 this year.

We'd also quickly recognize among "them" Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, who became billionaires developing Google. And, as they are sipping a latte to keep warm, the OWS campers should also reflect on whether Howard Schultz, Starbucks' founder and No. 330 on the Forbes list, is with "us" or "them."

Not every member of the Forbes 400 is a high-tech folk hero. There is a lot of inherited wealth on that list too (the Mars, Walton, Cargill and Ford dynasties). But 70% of the Forbes elite are self-made billionaires. Those entrepreneurial successes include not just the names behind Facebook, Google, Apple and Starbucks but also EBay (Meg Whitman, Pierre Omidyar), Yahoo (Jerry Yang), Nike (Phil Knight), AOL (Steve Case), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Subway sandwiches (Peter Buck, Fred DeLuca), "Star Wars" (George Lucas) and even Beanie Babies (Ty Warner). Does anyone doubt that these members of the reviled 1% have enriched the country in significant ways?

Even more to the point is that all of these club-400 elites were once just like "us." Jobs worked on the first Apple computer in a garage on a shoestring budget. He had vision, not wealth, to propel him to fame and fortune. Oprah Winfrey (No. 139) rose from poverty to TV queen through determination, hard work and a couple of lucky breaks. Even Warren Buffett, No. 2 on the Forbes list, started out looking very much like just another hardworking middle-class kid with good Midwestern values.

These storied rises from "rags to riches" are what make America the unique and prosperous nation it is. Some critics would have us believe that the American dream is dead. But that's a view purveyed by those without the vision, the grit, the energy or the single-mined determination to build a better mousetrap. Starry-eyed inventors and entrepreneurs have no doubts about that dream. They know it exists and that they are going to achieve it. Maybe not on the first try, but eventually. That's the entrepreneurial spirit that drives competitive markets, that not only makes the American dream come true for some (the 1%) but also improves life for the many (the 99%).

What really motivates the OWS movement is not resentment against the 1% but a sense of futility in grappling with a weak economy. With unemployment hovering around 9%, and with all the recurrent plant closings, foreclosures and cutbacks in public services, there is a lot of anger to vent. But class warfare isn't the solution.

Our frustrations are more the product of Washington than Wall Street. We have been promised a lot and received little. Obama (who made millions in book royalties the last few years) sowed the seeds of disillusionment when he overpromised what his February 2009 stimulus package could deliver. A series of policy failures and political deadlocks has left people feeling disenfranchised and forgotten. Calling out millionaires and billionaires as the culprits in this economic saga is disingenuous and ultimately self-defeating. Those 1 percenters are not an avaricious "them" but in reality the most entrepreneurial of "us." If we had more of them and fewer grandstanding politicians, we would all be better off.

Sam Miguel
12-05-2011, 09:06 AM
^^^ Is it just the American sense of entitlement that fuels the Occupy Movement then? This editorial sure sounds like that is all there is to this so-called movement...

Sam Miguel
12-08-2011, 09:46 AM
Lest we forget, from the LA Times ___

Pearl Harbor Day: Nation promises Survivors it will Never Forget

A grateful nation delivered a heartfelt message Wednesday morning to the dwindling number of survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack: Rest easy. We'll take it from here. Allow us to repay the debt by carrying your burden.

On the face of it, the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack wasn't all that different from previous commemorations. A ceremony was held overlooking the picturesque harbor. And a moment of silence was observed, as is traditional, at the precise moment that the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack by the Japanese began, at 7:55 a.m. local time.

But there was a solemn subtext to this ceremony, which was attended by about 120 survivors, some of whom struggled to their feet to accept the applause offered up by the thousands in attendance. Age is catching up with the survivors of Pearl Harbor. Fewer can make the trek to Hawaii each year for the official ceremony.

And their dwindling numbers prompted the Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn. to announce during the ceremonies that it will cease official business duties due to members' age and illness, although it will continue to be a conduit for "social interchanges and comradeship."

The reality is that in the not-so-distant future, there will be no more witnesses to the horrific attack that killed 2,400 Americans, sunk 12 ships and destroyed 188 aircraft. And there is a palpable fear on behalf of those aging survivors, and the families of those killed, that the nation might let down its guard in the face of danger or forget the sacrifices made by those both dead and still living.

As a result, Wednesday's ceremony was as much about expressing gratitude to those men and women as it was to assure survivors that the nation will never forget that momentous day that paved the way for America's entry into World War II and led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim Dec. 7 a "date which will live in infamy."

"Future generations will never forget what happened at Pearl Harbor," was the message from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. "The message of Pearl harbor will never be erased," Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz told those survivors in attendance. "We must never forget," vowed U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn. expect those promises will be kept long after they are gone. William Muehleib, who will go down in history as the last president of the official Pearl Harbor Survivors Assn., told those in attendance that he would accept nothing less: "You sitting in the audience must be the guardians of our truth."

Sam Miguel
12-12-2011, 08:42 AM
Even though this might be seen as a legal article, I think Fr Bernas is touching more on political aspects of the principle of sovereignty here, so from the Inquirer here we go ___

Sovereignty of the People

By: Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J.

Appeal has repeatedly been made to the will of the sovereign people as guide. Popular sovereignty in fact is the bedrock upon which a democratic system rests. Our Constitution begins with the assertion that “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

The sovereign people assert their sovereignty in two distinct processes. The two processes should not be confused.

The first is through their vote in a plebiscite ratifying or amending the Constitution. Through this process the people express in a permanent manner what the powers of government should be, what the limitations are, how the people who are to exercise the powers of sovereignty are to be chosen and what the extent and limits of their power are. As presently found in the Constitution, powers are divided among three departments. Succinctly, this means that the legislature makes the law, the executive implements the law and the Constitution, and the judiciary determines what the law and Constitution mean, thereby achieving orderly checks and balances.

The second is through the sovereign people’s vote in an election. This vote is not an unlimited grant of power. Nor is it a grant of power to navigate outside of the limits of the will of the sovereign people as expressed in the Constitution. To assume that an overwhelming vote of the people in an election or a high approval rating in a periodic survey is an expression of popular revision of what they have expressed in a constitutional plebiscite is an invitation to disaster.

Government officials have only so much authority as is given to them by law and the Constitution, and not what they might assume to be given to them by popular rallies. A great lawyer once said to a “reform”-minded English monarch, “This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast. If you cut them down, do you really think that you will be able to withstand the winds that will blow then?” True, the lawyer was beheaded later! But the consequences of his beheading confirmed the correctness of his warning.

In this critical moment of our constitutional history, my hope is that the justices of the Supreme Court, imperfect though they may be, will not capitulate and that others in the judiciary will not tremble in their boots and yield what is constitutionally theirs to President Aquino. If they do, it would be tragic for our nation.

Impeachment. Impeachment is very much in the air. It is a legitimate tool enshrined in the Constitution. But it is a two-edged sword. It can be an instrument of reform but it can also be an instrument of vindictive persecution carried out by blindfolded followers. For this reason the Constitution has surrounded the process with safeguards which limit the number of people subject to impeachment and which makes its success difficult to achieve.

The obvious goal of the current move toward impeachment is to scuttle the membership of the Supreme Court and remove the “obstacles to progress.” The initial target has been revealed, with more expected to follow. But there are 15 justices of the Supreme Court. I am not surprised if the Palace people do not expect impeachment, a very arduous partisan and political exercise, to achieve a pro-Palace Supreme Court. Not in the near future anyway. Hence, another impatient rallying cry is beginning to be heard: Occupy the Supreme Court!

Roosevelt tried to neutralize a Supreme Court whom he found to be a stumbling block by trying to pack it with people of his choice. He failed. In the end, Roosevelt had to wait until the retirement of the justices he disagreed with. It did not happen during his term. And to date divisions in the US Supreme Court continue. Count the continuing number of cases where the vote is 5-4.

I have been teaching constitutional law long enough to realize that there often are two or more possible sides to a constitutional argument. And the outcome of a constitutional debate often depends upon the modality of constitutional interpretation a justice might use. As one political writer has put it, describing the Supreme Court is like discussing the theories of Karl Marx—one has to indulge in half-truths correcting each other and exaggerations of important truths. This is because the Supreme Court is not just a court. It is also a political institution. Because the key provisions of the Constitution are couched in grand ambiguities and because the key provisions concern the larger issues of our life, of our liberties, and of our happiness, the Supreme Court, by the exercise of judicial review, wields tremendous political power.

Moreover, the composition of a Court at any given time in history is not just a product of chance. It is the result of a deliberate creation. One only has to look at the confirmation debates and what precedes them in the choice of US Supreme Court justices to see how personal, political and ideological considerations play a determinative role. It is just too bad that we see nothing as thorough in our process of choosing justices. If we did, the Court would now have a different face.

What is now referred to as the Arroyo Court took nine years in the making through a selection process heavily tilted in favor of an incumbent president. That tilted process remains, but I doubt that President Aquino will have time, within constitutional limits, to create an Aquino Court during his term. And since so much depends on the outcome of constitutional debates, what is required of him, if he wants the constitutional upper hand without resorting to bullying, is to build a strong, not necessarily loud, constitutional litigation team.

Sam Miguel
12-12-2011, 08:45 AM
In a separate column also today, the great Leftist Conrado De Quiros exercises the sovereignty described above by Fr Bernas, so from the Inquirer also ___

Mixed Blessings

By: Conrado de Quiros

It’s mixed blessings, Congress ruling that Justice Mariano del Castillo is impeachable after all. Congress ruled so last week, reversing an overwhelming decision by the Supreme Court at the end of last year, finding Del Castillo innocent of the charge of plagiarism.

The downside is that it’s such bad timing. It comes at a time when Renato Corona finds himself in the dock at least in the court of public opinion if not of law—but which in this country has often proved more supreme than the Supreme Court—for a variety of transgressions. At the very least, assuming his post by way of a midnight appointment, betraying the very essence of Chief Justice, which is to be the epitome of virtue. By so doing, Corona has agreed to be the mere embodiment, or extension, of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At the very most owing allegiance to his sponsor and not to the people, betraying the very essence of Chief Justice, which is, as the title professes, to be the first to practice law in the grand manner, or in a manner that promotes justice. By so doing, he is merely practicing law in the most miserable way, or in a way that thwarts justice.

Del Castillo’s impeachment takes the heat off Corona who himself faces impeachment for far more patent and grievous transgressions. It draws public attention away from him. If Del Castillo’s impeachment takes a long time—which it is likely to, as he will have the best lawyers money can buy, courtesy of the best Supreme Court money can buy—Corona can take refuge in it, burrowing himself under it, away from the glare of the spotlight. In this country, time is always on the side of monstrosity. Look at how the Ampatuan trial has gone. Two years after “the crime of the century,” the century can barely remember the crime.

From the other end, the upside is more plentiful and weighty.

One is that I don’t know what kind of politics Congress is playing—the notion that it has turned from a den of thieves to a House of Prayer overnight does not strike me as all-too-plausible—but whatever it is, it is still a welcome one. Removing one of Arroyo’s justices from the Supreme Court will go a long way in lessening the bitter irony of the one institution in this country dedicated to law being the least given to it. Del Castillo of course is one of those justices who can find nothing wrong with Arroyo, and has a voting record, alongside that of Corona, to show it. About time we put the fear of God, or justice, among Arroyo’s justices.

Two is that Del Castillo’s case proves beyond a shadow of doubt how the Court has become the last place where justice can be found. Or indeed, how it has become the new priesthood, whose interpretation of life and law, of history and Constitution, is beyond challenge or question.

Del Castillo’s case has always been wrongly depicted as plagiarism. It is not plagiarism, it is worse than plagiarism. What Del Castillo did was not just to copy word for word without attribution an opinion expressed by an American lawyer, Evan Criddle, it was to distort that opinion and make argument for the opposite of what Criddle intended. Criddle argued that jus cogens gave the “comfort women” the right to make government speak up for them before the Japanese. Del Castillo used that very principle to deny the comfort women that right. If there’s any worse display of lack of principle or moral scruple, I don’t know what it is.

What made things worse than even all this was that the Supreme Court did not just overwhelmingly clear Del Castillo of the charge, finding “no merit” in the complaint of the UP professors led by Harry Roque and Marvic Leonen, it found the professors themselves guilty of sacrilege. Or its legal equivalent: The Court demanded that the professors show cause why they should not be cited for contempt. When in fact it was the Court that most needed to show cause why the world shouldn’t find it utterly contemptible.

Again look at the Supreme Court and see if that is not the one branch of government that has arrogated unto itself all the powers of heaven and earth. Look at the Supreme Court and see if that is not the face of tyranny.

Three is that it is a blow for justice.

At the very least it is a blow for justice for the comfort women whose path to righting a wrong—age-old but one that may not be allowed to be forgotten—and getting some restitution for their ordeal, has been opened once again. The comfort women have already been doubly raped, once by the Japanese Army, twice by the Supreme Court. It’s time they got the justice that has been eluding them, before their years on earth are over.

At the very most it is a blow for justice for us who thought we had ended tyranny only to find it still lurking around in the last place we thought to find it. It shows Corona the path that lies before him if he should refuse to resign from his position the way Merceditas Gutierrez did and from mortal coil the way Angelo Reyes did. The wheels of justice may move agonizingly slowly in this country, but they grind agonizingly thoroughly those it manages to catch up with. As Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada know very well, who have seen the fury of People Power. As Arroyo knows very well who has seen the implacability of P-Noy Power.

By all means let’s impeach Mariano del Castillo. But let us do it speedily and well to assure that it propels the journey toward the daang matuwid and does not create detours in it. That is a challenge for government lawyers who have so far not shown themselves equal to rising to challenges. Here is their chance to do so. It’s all very mixed blessings.

But I for one will take my blessings where I can find them.

12-13-2011, 09:08 AM
The railroading of CJ Corona's impeachment shows the immaturity of our democracy (and our Congressmen). Mob politics and patronage at work. In America, the process is often more important than the issue itself. Fairness. Accountability. That's why perjury is punished very severely over there. And half-baked complaints which will just be thrown out by the SC if not the CA.

12-13-2011, 08:14 PM
Just watched ANC in which the IBP head and Cong. Lagman argued that the articles of impeachment have no bases nor substance. For example, the CJ was accused of flip flopping which he didn't do re some cases (it was one or two other justices who did). In America, the Democrats never thought of impeaching justices of their Supreme Court when they controlled both Houses of Congress despite the frequent 5-4 decisions of the conservative justices.

12-14-2011, 06:41 AM
Si Corona ay hindi Supreme Court.
Ang Supreme Court ay di si Corona.

Si Midas ay tagapagsalita ng Surpeme Court.
Pero bakit sa impeachement case ni Corona ay nagsasalita siya?

Tinuturing ba niyang ang kaso kay Corona ay kaso kontra sa Supreme Court mismo?
Lagi nilang bukang-bibig ang independence ng bawat isa sa miembro ng Mataas na Hukuman.

Eto ngayon may kaso ang isa, tagapagsalita ng Hukuman mismo magsasalita para sa isang yan!
Ano ba ang hindi malinaw sa trabaho niya bilang "spokesman ng Kataastaasang Hukuman"?

12-14-2011, 07:22 AM
Midas wants celebrity status and often speaks more than he should. But going back to the articles of impeachment, the issuance of TRO is a collegial decision made by 8 or so justices. Should they all be impeached too? This is going to be messy. I don't mind somebody being impeached but for better reasons than what the Congressmen came up with. I even don't agree that Justice del Castillo should be impeached as it was sufficiently explained that his assistant made the mistake. Pnoy may have overreached here and if the judiciary fights back this is not going to be good for the country. Some Senator-Judges have already spoken against Corona and they should honorably recuse themselves. Of course impeachment is a political act but our politics should be at least fair.

Sam Miguel
12-14-2011, 07:35 AM
Let us do a hypothetical: Suppose Mike Arroyo shoots a guy in the head over a parking lot altercation in the middle of the day with dozens of witnesses present and kills that guy. He is charged, tried and convicted of homicide and sentenced to life. He appeals all the way to the Supreme Court who then (of course) overturns his conviction by stunningly declaring that the Revised Penal Code did not include getting shot in a parking lot as an element to murder. The nation is stunned and livid, but the Court entertains no more appeals, declaring that as an independent Constitutional organ it has new rules which disallow any appeals after a first decision. What then is the nation supposed to do in such a case? What is the President to do? Should we still blindly follow the Court's decision, as the venerable former Ateneo university president Fr Joaquin Bernas says? Surely there are limits to the independence and powers of the Supreme Court, surely this would already constitute clear abuse of the Court's ppowers, and when those limits are breached, surely it is up to the Executive, the branch of government that wields the sword, who must stop the Court. Should the Court these limits first before we expect action from the President? That is just plainly and utterly stupid. The President and the entire nation, save perhaps Len Horn, Raul Lambino, Ferdi Topacio and Edcel Lagman, can see what the Corona Court is up to. It is time to cut off its head and just pray it is not a hydra that can grow two of the same in its place.

Sam Miguel
12-14-2011, 07:38 AM
Si Corona ay hindi Supreme Court.
Ang Supreme Court ay di si Corona.

Si Midas ay tagapagsalita ng Surpeme Court.
Pero bakit sa impeachement case ni Corona ay nagsasalita siya?

Tinuturing ba niyang ang kaso kay Corona ay kaso kontra sa Supreme Court mismo?
Lagi nilang bukang-bibig ang independence ng bawat isa sa miembro ng Mataas na Hukuman.

Eto ngayon may kaso ang isa, tagapagsalita ng Hukuman mismo magsasalita para sa isang yan!
Ano ba ang hindi malinaw sa trabaho niya bilang "spokesman ng Kataastaasang Hukuman"?

Midas is an ambitious sort who has fallen in love with his own voice and the cameras over the last several years. He has been that way since he was in the High School. One of these days it will get him in trouble so deep he'll have to leave the country.

12-14-2011, 07:41 AM
^^ We haven't reached that point yet. And I don't think we will. The Manila Standard just called Pnoy Hitler.

12-14-2011, 08:05 AM
Si Corona ay hindi Supreme Court.
Ang Supreme Court ay di si Corona.

Si Midas ay tagapagsalita ng Surpeme Court.
Pero bakit sa impeachement case ni Corona ay nagsasalita siya?

Tinuturing ba niyang ang kaso kay Corona ay kaso kontra sa Supreme Court mismo?
Lagi nilang bukang-bibig ang independence ng bawat isa sa miembro ng Mataas na Hukuman.

Eto ngayon may kaso ang isa, tagapagsalita ng Hukuman mismo magsasalita para sa isang yan!
Ano ba ang hindi malinaw sa trabaho niya bilang "spokesman ng Kataastaasang Hukuman"?

Midas is an ambitious sort who has fallen in love with his own voice and the cameras over the last several years. He has been that way since he was in the High School. One of these days it will get him in trouble so deep he'll have to leave the country.

Ganon ba! Mula nung hs si Midas pala ay parang narcistic na bakla!

;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

Sam Miguel
12-14-2011, 08:06 AM
^^^ Do we have to wait to reach that point?

Given the particular devious brilliance of the Corona Court, they may come out with many myriad decisions that never reach my eariler point but that - taken in total over the course of the second Aquino presidency - may amount to that in the end. Is that a risk our democracy and our nation are willing to take? I do not think we can afford it.

There is a reason there are three co-equal and independent branches of governement, precisely to provide a check and balance, of the others over one, or one over the other over the other. The principle of independence here is not the most important aspect. The most important aspect here is the principle of check and balance. Heaven help us if all three branches were colluding instead of checking. What the President is doing is heavy handed, but the current political - legal environment calls for it. How many more cases in favor of GMA and her cohorts should be decided with finality before we all finally see that this Corona Court will never give the nation its due?

Sam Miguel
12-14-2011, 08:13 AM
^^^ Oca, Midas is known to suddenly heave a shot from midcourt in the Ateneo alumni leagues just to see if he can make that basket and bask in the awe and adulation of the four or five people watching these games. Naturally he has never made the shot, and his teammates all want to kill him for even trying it. This probably explains why he has a hard time finding a team...

Sam Miguel
12-14-2011, 08:18 AM
Going back to this issue, the haste with which the impeachment was passed is decried by some sectors, including another old classmate of Midas's, Rep Toby Tiangco, and yet was this not the same undue haste with which the Corona Court issued its TRO on the hold departure order that had allowed GMA and company to beat a hasty retreat to some non-extradition country? If she had left to pull a Ping Lacson redux, where would that have left us?

We've seen how this Corona Court, and how the GMA camp play this game. That calls for the President and the nation to play the game just as hard. Corona made his bed. By all means let us let him lie in it.

12-14-2011, 08:34 AM
Imo, this impeachment is more than about the acts of Corona that this administration found detrimental to its own interest. This impeachment is about the corruption of institutions that was blatantly undertaken during the time of Arroyo and which must be remedied.

Damage cannot be undone. But if by doing this people who benefited from the lagress of Arroyo and are still holding positions in government, appointed purposely to cover the trail of misdeeds and abuse, if these people can be made to realize there is something within the powers of government to legally whack their heads then this impeachment should be welcomed.

Tama na yung kaugaliang "pagpapasa-Dios" ng mga maling pangyayari sa nakalipas. Dahil kung totoong naniniwala ang mga taong yun sa Dios, dapat kahit sa isip ay di nila nagawa ang mga pang-aabuso.

Ipasa-Tao na ang paghuhusga.

Mortals are more fearful of the retribution of man than of God. Diyan, lalagay na ang mga gago sa tamang lugar.

12-14-2011, 08:40 AM
Let us do a hypothetical: Suppose Mike Arroyo shoots a guy in the head over a parking lot altercation in the middle of the day with dozens of witnesses present and kills that guy. He is charged, tried and convicted of homicide and sentenced to life. He appeals all the way to the Supreme Court who then (of course) overturns his conviction by stunningly declaring that the Revised Penal Code did not include getting shot in a parking lot as an element to murder. The nation is stunned and livid, but the Court entertains no more appeals, declaring that as an independent Constitutional organ it has new rules which disallow any appeals after a first decision. What then is the nation supposed to do in such a case? What is the President to do? Should we still blindly follow the Court's decision, as the venerable former Ateneo university president Fr Joaquin Bernas says? Surely there are limits to the independence and powers of the Supreme Court, surely this would already constitute clear abuse of the Court's ppowers, and when those limits are breached, surely it is up to the Executive, the branch of government that wields the sword, who must stop the Court. Should the Court these limits first before we expect action from the President? That is just plainly and utterly stupid. The President and the entire nation, save perhaps Len Horn, Raul Lambino, Ferdi Topacio and Edcel Lagman, can see what the Corona Court is up to. It is time to cut off its head and just pray it is not a hydra that can grow two of the same in its place.

Going by this post, anyway related to Fatima Phoenix? ;)

12-14-2011, 08:44 AM
I agree with the impeachment of Ombudsman Gutierrez because she sat on many big corruption cases. But now we have a new Ombudsman who will prosecute these Arroyo shenanigans. Why don't we just wait? If the Supreme Court in the future will continue to reverse all these future convictions by the lower courts, then that's the time.

Arroyo should be made to answer for all the misdeeds by her and her cohorts. But the evidence should be there. I for one believe that Arroyo wouldn't be stupid enough to order these Mindanao election officials to cheat in an election where she's not running. So if the RTC dismisses the case, should we use People Power? This is Fr. Bernas' point. The perception is Pnoy wants Arroyo jailed before Christmas and he did everything to do this.

I also don't believe that Arroyo wouldn't come back if she was allowed to leave. Otherwise she would have had her first operation abroad two months ago.

12-14-2011, 10:17 AM
Let us do a hypothetical: Suppose Mike Arroyo shoots a guy in the head over a parking lot altercation in the middle of the day with dozens of witnesses present and kills that guy. He is charged, tried and convicted of homicide and sentenced to life. He appeals all the way to the Supreme Court who then (of course) overturns his conviction by stunningly declaring that the Revised Penal Code did not include getting shot in a parking lot as an element to murder. The nation is stunned and livid, but the Court entertains no more appeals, declaring that as an independent Constitutional organ it has new rules which disallow any appeals after a first decision. What then is the nation supposed to do in such a case? What is the President to do? Should we still blindly follow the Court's decision, as the venerable former Ateneo university president Fr Joaquin Bernas says? Surely there are limits to the independence and powers of the Supreme Court, surely this would already constitute clear abuse of the Court's ppowers, and when those limits are breached, surely it is up to the Executive, the branch of government that wields the sword, who must stop the Court. Should the Court these limits first before we expect action from the President? That is just plainly and utterly stupid. The President and the entire nation, save perhaps Len Horn, Raul Lambino, Ferdi Topacio and Edcel Lagman, can see what the Corona Court is up to. It is time to cut off its head and just pray it is not a hydra that can grow two of the same in its place.

A columnist of Standard Today commented who would now do the check and balance on Pnoy? If he replaces most of the Supreme Court justices, as he seems to be determined to do, what's gonna happen? This intimidation is also not healthy as lower justices (CA) and judges wouldn't dare incur the wrath of Pnoy. Are we so sure that Pnoy wouldn't abuse this tremendous power of the Presidency? With his own version of matuwid na daan?

12-14-2011, 10:28 AM
With congress now taking sides it is scary to even consider but when things come to the boiling point the only way to prevent chaos will be for PNoy to declare Martial Law.......which will result in more chaos.

12-14-2011, 01:33 PM
Let us do a hypothetical: Suppose Mike Arroyo shoots a guy in the head over a parking lot altercation in the middle of the day with dozens of witnesses present and kills that guy. He is charged, tried and convicted of homicide and sentenced to life. He appeals all the way to the Supreme Court who then (of course) overturns his conviction by stunningly declaring that the Revised Penal Code did not include getting shot in a parking lot as an element to murder. The nation is stunned and livid, but the Court entertains no more appeals, declaring that as an independent Constitutional organ it has new rules which disallow any appeals after a first decision. What then is the nation supposed to do in such a case? What is the President to do? Should we still blindly follow the Court's decision, as the venerable former Ateneo university president Fr Joaquin Bernas says? Surely there are limits to the independence and powers of the Supreme Court, surely this would already constitute clear abuse of the Court's ppowers, and when those limits are breached, surely it is up to the Executive, the branch of government that wields the sword, who must stop the Court. Should the Court these limits first before we expect action from the President? That is just plainly and utterly stupid. The President and the entire nation, save perhaps Len Horn, Raul Lambino, Ferdi Topacio and Edcel Lagman, can see what the Corona Court is up to. It is time to cut off its head and just pray it is not a hydra that can grow two of the same in its place.

A columnist of Standard Today commented who would now do the check and balance on Pnoy? If he replaces most of the Supreme Court justices, as he seems to be determined to do, what's gonna happen? This intimidation is also not healthy as lower justices (CA) and judges wouldn't dare incur the wrath of Pnoy. Are we so sure that Pnoy wouldn't abuse this tremendous power of the Presidency? With his own version of matuwid na daan?

Just as we have trusted those who were elected before to do good for the greater number, we do the same here.

People who ask who will check PNoy now should have asked that before on previous Presidents. If they did, what did they do when those previous President's committed abuses? Write an article about it? Galing!

On those judges at the lower courts, sa dami ng tarantadong judges na nababayaran para mag-issue ng TRO kaliwa't kanan, sa kupad ng pag-usad ng mga kaso, bakit tayo mag-aalala kung mangiling ang mga yan kay PNoy. Lumagay sila sa tama then they'll have nothing to worry.

From the start PNoy gave no inclination of becoming President, it is also clear he won't stay beyond his mandated tenure. That alone makes me trust him.

Malinaw na aalis siya sa itinakdang panahon. Alam niyang mawawala din siya sa poder. Kaya hindi siya gago para gumawa ng kahayupan at katarantaduhan dahil alam niyang tutugusin siya tulad ng ginagawa niya ngayon kay Arroyo at sa mga kampon nito.

The best way to cover your trail is just take the right steps. Arroyo did it by loading the justice system with his people. Wrong way.

12-14-2011, 01:54 PM

The reported “Oust CJ Plot” is very unsettling and once again seriously threatens our very democratic institutions. It is not an assault on the Chief Justice alone, but on the other Supreme Court Justices as well, and on the very Institution they represent.

The reports reveal this time that the House of Representatives may even amend its own rules and fast track the impeachment process against the Chief Justice by skipping the Committee on Justice stage, and by going straight to the plenary, and thereafter transmitting the articles of impeachment immediately to the Senate. Section 2, Rule II, of the current Rules of Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings, does not allow this: “Impeachment shall be initiated by the filing and subsequent referral to the Committee on Justice of: (a) a verified complaint for impeachment filed by any Member of the House of Representatives; or (b) a verified complaint filed by any citizen upon a resolution of endorsement by any Member thereof; or (c) a verified complaint or resolution of impeachment filed by at least one-third (1/3) of all Members of the House.

But can an impeachment proceeding prosper on the alleged ground that the Chief Justice is partial to the former administration?

A cursory look of the Chief Justice’s judicial record will readily show his impartiality, not only with the present administration, but likewise with the past administration. In Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines v. Office of the Executive Secretary, the Chief Justice nullified EO 46 which was issued on 26 October 2001 by the former administration. The Chief Justice also joined the majority in The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo in ruling that “[t]he ineffective investigation and protection by government agents under the secretary of defense and the AFP failed to guarantee the right of security of respondents as required by the Constitution. Again, the Chief Justice voted with the majority in Central Mindanao University v. The Honorable Executive Secretary, concerning the annulment of Presidential Proclamation 310 that took property from a state university for distribution to indigenous peoples and cultural communities. Similarly in David v. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Chief Justice, as a member of a unanimous Court, voted to nullify the warrantless arrests against petitioners David, Llamas and others, and the searches and seizures against the Tribune, under authority of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5 of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for being unconstitutional.

Some criticisms follow the decision in People v. Romualdez, where the Chief Justice concurred in the result, allegedly because the son of respondent Romualdez, Cong. Martin Romualdez, is a close ally of the former president. Plainly, views such as these are strained and myopic because they suggest that every decision favoring a party who happens to be friendly to the former president is a decision in her favor. This is certainly a ridiculous point of view.

There are other strange references to alleged pro-Arroyo decisions, such as Nicolas v. Romulo, otherwise known as the VFA case. Simply put, how can the constitutionality of the VFA and the nullification of the Kenney-Romulo Agreements be beneficial to the former president? However, just to demonstrate the level of misinformation regarding these unfounded allegations, the Chief Justice allegedly favored the former president in Gudani, but the records of Court show that the Chief Justice was on leave at that time. But even assuming this to be true, the results will show a unanimous vote. How does one come to a conclusion of improper partiality, bias or favoritism? Would a dissent from the Chief Justice alter the result? Perhaps it would do well to analyze some of these decisions in order to verify for ourselves that even if the Chief Justice voted differently, it would probably not change the result. It only goes to show that claims of favoritism, partiality or bias are mostly irrelevant and amount to nothing more than character assassination.

But let us turn to even more relevant decisions being cited by detractors of the Chief Justice. In Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of 2010, the majority simply ruled that the mandate of the Truth Commission should not be confined only to the former president because this would amount to special or unique treatment, which is unconstitutional. In other words, the defect was minor and could be remedied by a simple amendment to include all other past administrations. If there is any complaint about the Truth Commission, it lies principally in the fact that there has been no effort to rectify this aspect of the scope of work.

We wish to reassure the public that these claims being cast against the Chief Justice and the Court are pure fantasy and baseless. As a separate branch of government the Court and the Judiciary must resist all attempts and efforts to turn it into a compliant tool for any of the other branches. It is precisely in keeping with the republican system that the Court must never be seen as a mere lackey or yes man of the executive or the legislative departments. If we were allowed some leeway to speculate a little, it seems that what others want is to have enough influence to dictate the how justice should be dispensed and what the outcome of cases should be.

In his famed treatise, The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu authoritatively analyzed the nature of executive, legislative and judicial powers and with a formidable foresight counseled that “any combination of these powers would create a system with an inherent tendency towards tyrannical actions.”

These words carry much significance in these times. Reports show that Malacanang officials have confirmed a plot to destabilize the Supreme Court and oust the Chief Justice. We note with much disappointment that there seems to be a determined effort on the political front to foment public distrust and resentment for the Supreme Court. We take this occasion to denounce attempts to initiate and railroad impeachment proceedings against the members of the Court, being labeled as enemies of the President. These plans pose a direct threat to the independence of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary.

To take aim at the members of the Court, including the Chief Justice, amounts to sacrificing constitutional stability in exchange for ruthless political objectives. It is a great sacrilege to invoke the so-called mandate of the people, as a basis to abandon the Constitution in favor of political convenience. We should all bear in mind that the oath of public office requires all officials of the Republic to faithfully and conscientiously preserve and defend the Constitution. This is the principle that guides the Chief Justice and the Members of the Court.

The independence of the judiciary is not a mere slogan taken from the principle of separation of powers. It is a living and functional feature of the republican form of government, assured by the Constitution and our democracy as part and parcel of the system of checks and balances.

We are deeply concerned by the dangerous hostility reflected by the irresponsible statements of officials who are quoted as saying that what is legal is not always right. Taken together with the announcement of a secret plot against the chief justice, the legal community is understandably worried to what lengths political agendas and personal mood or whim will affect judicial independence.

The Court will stand fast and fearless to fend off a potential constitutional crisis. To yield to the political pressure being stirred up against it is to surrender the independence of the judiciary – an unacceptable situation that is worth fighting with unyielding vigilance. If the independence of the Court and is taken away, there will be nothing to stop despotic or tyrannical power. Any disregard for the rule of law, no matter how popular or fashionable, poisons our Constitution and corrupts our democracy.

interesting article

What I find amusing is the fact that pro-pnoy abs-cbn have yet to mention those cases where Corona voted against GMA.

12-14-2011, 02:29 PM
Let us do a hypothetical: Suppose Mike Arroyo shoots a guy in the head over a parking lot altercation in the middle of the day with dozens of witnesses present and kills that guy. He is charged, tried and convicted of homicide and sentenced to life. He appeals all the way to the Supreme Court who then (of course) overturns his conviction by stunningly declaring that the Revised Penal Code did not include getting shot in a parking lot as an element to murder. The nation is stunned and livid, but the Court entertains no more appeals, declaring that as an independent Constitutional organ it has new rules which disallow any appeals after a first decision. What then is the nation supposed to do in such a case? What is the President to do? Should we still blindly follow the Court's decision, as the venerable former Ateneo university president Fr Joaquin Bernas says? Surely there are limits to the independence and powers of the Supreme Court, surely this would already constitute clear abuse of the Court's ppowers, and when those limits are breached, surely it is up to the Executive, the branch of government that wields the sword, who must stop the Court. Should the Court these limits first before we expect action from the President? That is just plainly and utterly stupid. The President and the entire nation, save perhaps Len Horn, Raul Lambino, Ferdi Topacio and Edcel Lagman, can see what the Corona Court is up to. It is time to cut off its head and just pray it is not a hydra that can grow two of the same in its place.

Going by this post, anyway related to Fatima Phoenix? ;)

Ka Oca, siya din 'yon, hehe...!

12-14-2011, 02:38 PM
The unconstitutionality of the truth commission case is clear. Why only investigate the GMA administration? Why exclude that of Erap, FVR or even the late Cory administration? Corruption and irregularities were likewise prevalent during their time. Some would insist that if we argue on the basis of violation of the equal protection clause, we should probably include the first Phil. government (as far as the days of Emilio Aguinaldo perhaps?) but that would be stretching too much for others. At the end of the day, it was very clear that the Truth Commission was nothing but a vendetta and a walking epitome of double standard. E.O. no. 1 didn't comply either with the requisites for the applicability of the exception to the equal protection clause.

As for the TRO issued in order for the Arroyo spouses to travel, what's wrong with that?
The Constitution provides that;

Section 6. xxx Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.

Was there any case pending against them at the time of its issuance? Was there any threat to our national security/public safety if they were allowed to travel? Would their travel compromise the health of the people?

IMHO, they don't even have to burden themselves of proving that Mrs. Arroyo's medical condition was really bad just to be given permission to travel. The Right to Travel is a basic, fundamental right of every citizen unless one/some or all of the 3 exceptions call for its non-application. Even anti-gma lawyer Alan Paguia questions the refusal of the Aquino administration to comply with the SC order.

I would have joined in the dissents of PNOY APPOINTEES (Serreno, Reyes, and the 3rd whose name I couldn't remember) and 2 gma appointees (Carpio and Mendoza) if any of the 3 exceptions was present at the time of the TRO issuance.

As for Corona being a midnight appointee, wasn't this issue settled already? Whether or not the majority erred in the De Castro vs. JBC case is beside the point. Why is now the anti-corona people using this as a ground? Last time I checked, Art. 8 section 1 of the Constitution clearly gave the power of judicial review to the Supreme Court and neither to the Executive nor to the Legislature. Do these 2 branches have the power to interpret the Constitution or Statutes? IIIRC, PNoy already recognized Corona in numerous official functions and gatherings as the Chief Justice. Why is it now that he's singing a different tune? Because of the hacienda luisita issue? Isn't estoppel by laches available against PNoy at this point? :D

As for the flip-flopping cases (the cases of FASAP vs. PAL and the Cityhood law), was it Corona alone who ruled for the whole SC? Didn't they vote as a whole? Why single out and exclude the 14 other Associate Justices? Is Corona really that powerful he could influence the others? This is highly speculative.

Another issue is the accusation that Corona favors Pandak being appointed by the latter. If we follow that flawed logic, then we should probably conclude that the 3 PNoy appointees in the SC are likewise biased to the appointing authority. To my recollection, Serreno has been ruling in favor of the present administration in numerous instances already. Why isn't she getting the Corona treatment? Because we were brainwashed by the biased media that GMA appointees do not and cannot exercise impartiality unlike the PNoy appointees? Isn't this unfair?

Another issue alleged in the articles of impeachment is the Vizconde massacre case. Mang Lauro claims to have been told by Corona that the Webbs through SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio exerted pressure on the other magistrates in order to secure an acquittal for Webb et al. I do not claim to be a good law student but I cannot understand for the love of SCRA why the 188 TONGressmen were easily convinced that this was a ground for impeachment. Who knows if Mang Lauro was just throwing accusations left and right just to secure the symphathy of the public if not the final conviction of Webb et al. In fact, this accusation remains a mere accusation.

I joined those people seeking justice and would want nothing less but the imprisonment of whoever the culprits might be whether its the Arroyos, Marcoses, Juan de la Cruz etc. but at the expense of what? Twisting the Constitution just to satisfy the whims and caprices of the present administration? That is certainly not the definition of justice. The end doesn't justify the means as they say. As Atty. Alan Paguia said in one tv show, "Selective prosecution is not prosecution but persecution.".

12-14-2011, 02:52 PM
Arroyo did it by loading the justice system with his people. Wrong way.

You're obviously referring to Pandak's act of filling up the High Court with her appointees, right? If not, you should probably ignore my comment. ;D

Why don't we go back to the fundamentals? The Constitution states that the power to appoint the members of the SC is with the incumbent president so why are we whining about this? Was it Pandak's mistake that the Constitution states so? Was it her transgression that most of the Erap or FVR appointees reached the mandatory retirement age during her almost a decade-long tenure? While the president doesn't have the discretion as to who would be the candidates to become justices (since the JBC is the constitutional body mandated to do so), it is the prerogative of the chief executive to choose among the candidates submiited by the jbc. If you think she chose her own people, then blamed the JBC for putting these gma magistrates in the list.

12-14-2011, 02:57 PM
Arroyo did it by loading the justice system with his people. Wrong way.

You're obviously referring to Pandak's act of filling up the High Court with her appointees, right? If not, you should probably ignore my comment. ;D

Why don't we go back to the fundamentals? The Constitution states that the power to appoint the members of the SC is with the incumbent president so why are we whining about this? Was it Pandak's mistake that the Constitution states so? Was it her transgression that most of the Erap or FVR appointees reached the mandatory retirement age during her almost a decade-long tenure? While the president doesn't have the discretion as to who would be the candidates to become justices (since the JBC is the constitutional body mandated to do so), it is the prerogative of the chief executive to choose among the candidates submiited by the jbc. If you think she chose her own people, then blamed the JBC for putting these gma magistrates in the list.

Regardless, I am ignoring your comment. ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

12-14-2011, 03:02 PM
Just wanna add something on the issue of midnight appointment.

I subscribe to the view of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile that Corona's appointment as CJ was the right thing to do for GMA. Why is that so?

According to him, the incoming president cannot appoint the new CJ even if the outgoing president didn't do so. The SC CJ is the ex-officio chairman of the Judicial and Bar Council. Without a CJ, the JBC cannot convene. If the JBC cannot do so, how can they go on with the usual selection process for a vacancy in the High Court?

One may argue that Pandak should have at the very most appoint an acting CJ to temporarily replace the retiring Renato Puno but I don't think it's constitutional.

12-14-2011, 03:09 PM
Si Corona ay hindi Supreme Court.
Ang Supreme Court ay di si Corona.

Si Midas ay tagapagsalita ng Surpeme Court.
Pero bakit sa impeachement case ni Corona ay nagsasalita siya?

Tinuturing ba niyang ang kaso kay Corona ay kaso kontra sa Supreme Court mismo?
Lagi nilang bukang-bibig ang independence ng bawat isa sa miembro ng Mataas na Hukuman.

Eto ngayon may kaso ang isa, tagapagsalita ng Hukuman mismo magsasalita para sa isang yan!
Ano ba ang hindi malinaw sa trabaho niya bilang "spokesman ng Kataastaasang Hukuman"?

Midas is the spokesperson of the SC in the same way that Lacierda is with Malacanang. If we consider your logic, then Lacierda cannot comment on the Mistang issue or the numerous guns found in the car of Llamas (presidential adviser for political affairs). Si PNoy lang ang bukambibig niya at wala ng iba.

12-14-2011, 03:51 PM
Oca, I don't doubt at all Pnoy's crusade against corruption. I support it wholeheartedly. If only for that (despite the numerous problems facing the country today that remain not acted upon) I would prefer Aquino to Gloria or the other presidents. But why is he fixated on Rene Corona? He is just one vote. If Carpio replaces him but the other Arroyo appointees continue to vote not in accordance to Aquino's liking, would he also direct his Congressmen to impeach them? Where will this end? Oh two more justices have been mentioned to be impeached. For whatever reasons bwahaha. So he wants to have a Supreme Court friendly to him no matter how this is done. We are impeaching people like crazy.

Re corruption by judges and even justices of the Court of Appeals, do you think this can be totally eradicated whether Corona is there or not? Are you saying that Corona, as an appointee of GMA, is condoning this?

12-14-2011, 04:03 PM
Kapag natanggal na lahat ng "balakid" sa programa ng administrasyon na ito, wala na naman sigurong dahilan ang presidente ng 15 milyong tao na nauto at nagpauto sa 'di pag-usad ng bayan na 'to.

Wish ko lang. :D

12-14-2011, 05:37 PM
Though I am an ordinary citizen, I do not look at this impeachment as a plain and literal act of removing Corona from the SC. For if that is all there is to it, PNoy will lose this war he is waging.

To me this impeachment is intended to send a message. Bahala na ang nagmamasid ano ang basa niya, but from where I sit, ipinababatid lang ni Pnoy na gagawin niya lahat para maisakatuparan ang mga gusto niyang gawin.

Parang basketball lang yan. Pag etong isa sa kalaban niyo ay di mapigilan sa pagslaksak, ano ang gagawin mo? Simplehan mo at salyahin mo isang beses lang. Foul kung foul. Technical kung technical. Pero tinitiyak ko sa iyo, sa susunod na makita ka nung sinalya mo sa gitna, di na da-drive yan. Kung magaling sa labas, ipa-landing mo lang siya sa sapatos mo, tiyak sa sapatos mo na yan titingin tuwing tatanggap siya ng bola.

Kung ikaw naman ay binabantayan ng dikitan at di ka makaporma, minsan go for a drive at bagsakan mo ng siko. Sa susunod flop na ang gagawin niyan.

Kung foul si Pnoy dito, one is allowed 5 fouls before he is taken out of the game. Flagrant? Like an ordinary foul, judgement call yan. Judgement call din kung di tawagan. ;)

12-14-2011, 05:50 PM
With congress now taking sides it is scary to even consider but when things come to the boiling point the only way to prevent chaos will be for PNoy to declare Martial Law.......which will result in more chaos.

Any President who declares Martial Law will only demonstrate to the nation that he doesn't have absolute power.

Just read Section 18 of the Constitution:

Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

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

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

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

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

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.

Malinaw, it makes no sense para sa sino mang Pangulo na mag-declare siya ng Martial Law. He doesn't dissolve Congress. He doesn't dissolve the Courts. Ano anyare? Gumawa lang siya ng headlines for 60 days. Yun lang.

12-14-2011, 07:09 PM
Though I am an ordinary citizen, I do not look at this impeachment as a plain and literal act of removing Corona from the SC. For if that is all there is to it, PNoy will lose this war he is waging.

To me this impeachment is intended to send a message. Bahala na ang nagmamasid ano ang basa niya, but from where I sit, ipinababatid lang ni Pnoy na gagawin niya lahat para maisakatuparan ang mga gusto niyang gawin.

Parang basketball lang yan. Pag etong isa sa kalaban niyo ay di mapigilan sa pagslaksak, ano ang gagawin mo? Simplehan mo at salyahin mo isang beses lang. Foul kung foul. Technical kung technical. Pero tinitiyak ko sa iyo, sa susunod na makita ka nung sinalya mo sa gitna, di na da-drive yan. Kung magaling sa labas, ipa-landing mo lang siya sa sapatos mo, tiyak sa sapatos mo na yan titingin tuwing tatanggap siya ng bola.

Kung ikaw naman ay binabantayan ng dikitan at di ka makaporma, minsan go for a drive at bagsakan mo ng siko. Sa susunod flop na ang gagawin niyan.

Kung foul si Pnoy dito, one is allowed 5 fouls before he is taken out of the game. Flagrant? Like an ordinary foul, judgement call yan. Judgement call din kung di tawagan. ;)

That's just too steep a price to pay. Just to send a message? There are other ways to do it without causing the kaguluhan that is going to ensue. I am just wondering what exactly are the SC decisions which Pnoy is agitated about. I agree that the Truth Commission is selective in its prosecution which I think the Ombudsman and DOJ could very well handle. The AARM thing was upheld by the SC. The gerrymandering in CAMSUR, my province, was approved by Congress who are now balimbings (having an Arroyo as a congressman benefited the district hehe). The TROs - some were eventually lifted. The creation of the 16 cities was also approved by Congress - also done by the balimbings. The LGUs etc... All of these are political. And not economic which could derail Pnoy's economic program (is there one?) which I would say would be more a reason for impeachment. Are there other decisions by the SC?

12-15-2011, 12:02 AM
Here's the basis of trapo drilon's claim of "19-0"


"The current score is 19-0. Chief Justice Renato Corona consistently voted in favor of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in all 19 cases brought before the Supreme Court. He never voted against her."

This was how Senator Franklin Drilon described the "judicial record" of the incumbent Chief Justice which he noted "was untarnished by a negative vote against the ex-president." Drilon then gave Senate reporters of the list of the 19 cases.

In a statement, Drilon reiterated his appeal for Corona to inhibit himself from deliberations on the cases involving the former president to avoid doubts on the impartiality and objectivity of the Supreme Court.

"I reiterate my call for Corona's inhibition in cases involving former President Arroyo because the Chief Justice's consistent voting pattern in all 19 cases involving the Arroyo government's controversial policies have created doubts in the public's mind about his impartiality," Drilon said.

"All his decisions are all for Gloria. His own record shows that he favors Arroyo. Even if Chief Justice Corona's votes in the 19 cases are based on merit, what is important here is how people perceive him," Drilon said, noting that Corona's voluntary inhibition would "go a long way in maintaining the credibility of the Supreme Court especially in cases involving Arroyo."

To drive home his point, Drilon gave media a list of 19 cases in which Corona voted in favor of Arroyo. The cases are:

1) Corona concurred in the Dec. 7, 2010 SC ruling declaring President Noynoy Aquino's order creating the Truth Commission unconstitutional.

2) Corona concurred in the Oct. 10 2010 SC decision stopping the Aquino administration from revoking the appointment of alleged midnight appointees made by Arroyo.

3) Corona concurred in the April 7 2010 SC ruling denying the petition of then Sen. Noynoy Aquino and upholding Republic Act 9716 creating the First and Second Districts of Camarines Sur.

4) Corona concurred in the SC decision reversing its previous decision ordering the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the trial of former Rep. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, whose son is a known ally of Arroyo.

5) Corona concurred in the Feb. 11, 2009 SC decision upholding the validity of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States and ordering the transfer of US serviceman and rape convict Daniel Smith to a Philippine detention facility.

6) Corona dissented in the SC October 14, 2008 SC decision declaring the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) entered into by President Arroyo's peace negotiators with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as "contrary to law and the Constitution."

7) Corona concurred with the July 16, 2008 SC decision declaring that communications in theJapan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement signed by President Arroyo and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on September 9, 2006 were covered by executive privilege and not subject to public disclosure.

8) Corona concurred with the March 25, 2009 SC decision stating that then Social Security System Chairman Romulo Neri was not liable for contempt for not appearing in the Senate hearings of the NBN-ZTE scandal because his testimony was covered by executive privilege.

9) Corona dissented in the February 15, 2008 SC decision declaring that the wiretapped conversation between then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcellano Jr. was not prohibited from broadcast.

10) Corona dissented in the May 3, 2006 SC decision declaring Arroyo's Presidential Proclamation 1017 which placed the country under a state of national emergency in March 2006 as "partly constitutional, partly unconstitutional,"

11) Corona dissented in the October 25, 2006 SC decision dismissing the petition of the pro-Arroyo Sigaw ng Bayan to allow a people's initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution due to failure to comply with Constitutional requirements of conducting a people's initiative.

12) Corona concurred in the Aug. 15, 2006 SC decision declaring as valid President Arroyo's gag order that prohibited executive and military officials from appearing before congressional investigations without the president's consent. The case was filed by then Marines General Francisco Gudani.

13) Corona concurred in the April 20, 2006 SC decision upholding the controversial gag order known as Executive Order 464 which allowed Malacanang and other executive officials to invoke executive privilege in refusing to testify in congressional investigations.

14) Corona concurred with the April 19, 2006 SC cases declaring a valid President Arroyo's Executive Order 420 involving the establishment of a national identification card policy.

15) Corona concurred in the December 13, 2005 SC decision declaring that President Arroyo can make appointments "in an acting capacity" without seeking confirmation from the Commission on Appointments.

16) Corona concurred in the October 18, 2005 SC decision declaring Republic Act 9337, also known as the VAT Reform Act, as constitutional.

17) Corona dissented in the March 2, 2004 SC ruling dismissing petitions to disqualify then presidential aspirant Fernando Poe Jr. on the ground that he was not a natural born citizen.

18) Corona concurred with the Feb. 3, 2004 SC decision declaring that President Arroyo did not exceed her powers in issuing Proclamation number 427, 435 and General Order No. 4 declaring a state of rebellion during the so-called Oakwood Mutiny.

19) Corona dissented in the January 13, 2004 SC decision voiding the contract entered into by the Commission on Elections with the Mega-Pacific firm for not undergoing the required public bidding.

In a statement, Drilon said he opted to release "Corona's voting pattern" to media in the name of public transparency and to support his call on the Chief Justice to inhibit himself from court proceedings involving Arroyo.

Earlier, Drilon said Corona's history with Arroyo has created perceptions that the SC was biased in favor of the Pampanga lawmaker. He noted that Corona once served as chief of staff and spokesman of Arroyo when she was vice president.

Drilon also noted that Corona's appointment as chief justice in May 2010 stirred a lot of controversy since it came so close to the end of Arroyo's term and many considered him a "midnight appointee."

On the other hand, let's take a look at this nice rebuttal from I don't know who.


Lies VS Truths
"The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."

LIE: The Truth Commission was arbitrarily struck down because of partisan reasons and because the Supreme Court does not want to find out the truth

TRUTH: Unrevised, the creation of the Truth Commission go against the Equal Protection Clause. The SC decision's last words are as follows:

"Lest it be misunderstood, this is not the death knell for a truth commission as nobly envisioned by the present administration. Perhaps a revision of the executive issuance so as to include the earlier past administrations would allow it to pass the test of reasonableness and not be an affront to the Constitution. Of all the branches of the government, it is the judiciary which is the most interested in knowing the truth and so it will not allow itself to be a hindrance or obstacle to its attainment. It must, however, be emphasized that the search for the truth must be within constitutional bounds for “ours is still a government of laws and not of men."

The problem was minor and could have been remedied by a simple amendment to include all other past administrations. But the fact is there has been no effort to rectify that particular defect, yet the President is blaming the Supreme Court for its demise.

LIE: Drilon claims that Corona has had a “consistent voting pattern favoring the Arroyo government’s controversial policies.”
TRUTH: These Supreme Court decisions were either unanimous decisions, or those in which only one to five justices dissented.

LIE: Drilon alleges that in 2004 Corona favored Arroyo by voting as constitutional her Proclamation No. 427 which declared a state of rebellion in the wake of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.
TRUTH: What he doesn’t mention: only one out of the 15 justices dissented. Hilario Davide, then the chief justice, and his successor Artemio Panganiban voted for the proclamation. Is Drilon saying that these two chief justices were Arroyo’s stooges as well? Drilon even forgets that Arroyo consulted him on that proclamation, when he was a supportive Senate president then.

LIE: Drilon complains that in 2005, Corona voted to dismiss a petition by communist-affiliated groups to declare unconstitutional “Arroyo’s VAT reform act.”
TRUTH: It was also a unanimous Court decision. Drilon is saying that Corona is pro-Arroyo for voting for a law which he forgets he pushed for when he was Senate president.

LIE: Drilon whines that in 2006, Corona voted to uphold Arroyo’s executive order that invoked executive privilege in congressional investigations.
TRUTH: The Court’s decision was unanimous, and was even penned by Carpio-Morales.

LIE: Drilon claims that “Corona concurred in the Court decision stopping Aquino from revoking the appointment of alleged midnight appointees made by Arroyo.”
TRUTH: There is no such decision. There is only a status quo ante order, and only for one official. And even that order was agreed to by 12 justices, while three were on official leave.

LIE: The Chief Justice allegedly favored the former president in Gudani

TRUTH: The records of Court show that the Chief Justice was on leave at that time.

LIE: Coming from a trip from the US, Corona cut his trip short to make sure the TRO for the DOJ circular would be given.

TRUTH: Corona's itenerary was never changed. He was scheduled to receive the main award of the Seagull Philippines' First Asian Leaders Awards for Excellence, Best Values and Social Responsibility in Makati City, November 11 which was a Friday. The SC met en banc on Nov 14 which was a Monday. The event was even covered by ABS-CBN's Ina Reformina here

LIE: Chief Justice Corona has a consistent voting pattern ALWAYS favoring of the former administration's policies

TRUTH: CJ Corona voted against the former administration in the following:

In Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines v. Office of the Executive Secretary, the Chief Justice nullified EO 46 which was issued on 26 October 2001 by the former administration.

The Chief Justice also joined the majority in The Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo in ruling that “[t]he ineffective investigation and protection by government agents under the secretary of defense and the AFP failed to guarantee the right of security of respondents as required by the Constitution

Corona voted with the majority in Central Mindanao University v. The Honorable Executive Secretary, concerning the annulment of Presidential Proclamation 310 that took property from a state university for distribution to indigenous peoples and cultural communities

In David v. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Chief Justice, as a member of a unanimous Court, voted to nullify the warrantless arrests against petitioners David, Llamas and others, and the searches and seizures against the Tribune, under authority of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No. 5 of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for being unconstitutional.

THE TRUTH: As a separate branch of government the Court and the Judiciary must resist all attempts and efforts to turn it into a compliant tool for any of the other branches. It is precisely in keeping with the republican system that the Court must never be seen as a mere lackey or yes man of the executive or the legislative departments. What others want is to have enough influence to dictate how justice should be dispensed and what the outcome of cases should be.

12-15-2011, 05:02 AM
^^^ Is it just the American sense of entitlement that fuels the Occupy Movement then? This editorial sure sounds like that is all there is to this so-called movement...

I was watching the Occupy Movement and actually posted one of the first salvo of their campaign here in gameface.

Dre, the Occupy movement has been co-opted by the Left funded by a faction of big business. Notice that the abolition of the private Federal Reserve is being ridiculed by the ruling clique of this movement. Whereas this movement was suppose to have the more libertarian inclination during the start, it has become communist/fascist ( same banana) in its demand. There is no such thing as an anti-Wall Street movement that is not ANTI-FEDERAL RESERVE.

This goes true with the the other side of the "struggle", the Tea Party, which has been co-opted by another faction of the oligarchy.

America is being set-up for an internal confrontation by the same power elite people who has always benefited from the aftermath of any turbulence. America is going fascist by design. These movements are being "manipulated" to create the proper environment for chaos.

(As for the theoretical and political discussions on what I have said, people will need to simply read more as I have no desire to start a lengthy discussion on the topic. Probably people should start with the idea that the US Federal Reserve is a private bank owned by the big banks in the US.)

In Manila, you will not see the financial plunder that is going on. I guess, we are easily fooled by the media.

There will be riots in America. I remember 1 or 2 years before the 2008 collapse, the inverted yield signaled the start of deleveraging. In the the tradition of Gerald Celente and Clif High, I am telling you there will be riots in America. Europe will have to go first. ;)

Ooooppppsss... there's a zarzuela going on in Manila among the co-equal branches of government. Nice distraction though. ;D

12-15-2011, 05:51 AM
The thing is...we are all being subjected to massive propaganda and we do not know who is telling the truth. Langhiya, buti pa sa basketball alam mo kung panalo o talo ka. ;)

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 09:04 AM
^^^ Danny check out Time magazine's person of the year. Talk of the devil indeed...

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 11:19 AM
From the NY Times ___

A Broader Definition of ‘Journalist’

By Ellyn Angelotti

Everyone knows that you no longer need to buy ink by the barrel to be considered a publisher. Your grandmother can do it with a laptop.But can anyone be considered a journalist? That is the focus of the Cox ruling. It suggests that a journalist may need to act on a set of professional standards to be recognized as a protected member of the tribe.

Instead of focusing on who is doing the publishing, it is more important than ever to look at how they are doing it.So who is a journalist? A journalist -- good or bad -- possesses a hunger to pursue the truth and to share it in compelling ways. Yet some of the best journalists have had no academic training in the field.

Blogs compete with mainstream media every day. In some cases, they have become more trustworthy as sources of information than some old school practitioners. Oregon’s shield law does not recognize the blog as a “medium of communication” worthy of special protection. Such a narrow definition of journalism is archaic.

Instead of focusing on who is doing the publishing, it is more important than ever to look at how they are doing it. It's true that the public’s confidence in online news is shaky at best. The once idealized information superhighway has become a parking lot of error, misinformation, rumor and junk. But it shouldn't matter whether the person calls himself a journalist or not, nor where he publishes a story. The quality of the story and the integrity of the method of reporting should count. By that standard, some bloggers would qualify as journalists while some deadwood reporters at newspapers would fail.

The First Amendment is not just for journalists. It affords all Americans the right to unfettered speech. We should celebrate how technology lets us express more speech than ever before -- without discriminating against the “non-journalists.” That doesn't mean that online publishers should not be judged according to an evolving set of standards and practices.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 11:22 AM
From the NY Times ___

The Problem With Pre-Internet Laws

By Kelli L. Sager

The unstated questions that have fueled much of the discussion about bloggers are two-fold: whether bloggers have the same constitutional rights as other authors or publishers, and whether bloggers should be afforded certain statutory protections that apply to mainstream media, such as retraction statutes and reporters’ shield laws.

It's hard to imagine excluding bloggers from the protections that shield laws provide.The first question is easy to answer: the rights of free speech and press under the First Amendment does not and cannot depend on the medium through which information is exchanged. Whether the expression is conveyed by a lonely pamphleteer or the world’s most sophisticated communications company, First Amendment protections apply. The notion that bloggers have some lower standard of protection is wholly inconsistent with what the United States Supreme Court has recognized as a necessary marketplace of ideas, where one’s ability to communicate freely is not dependent on access to a printing press or broadcast equipment.

The second question is more complex, because it depends in part on the language in a particular statute, and the purpose for which it was enacted. Retraction statutes, for example, typically are intended to provide needed “breathing space” for the exercise of free speech, recognizing that sometimes mistakes will be made. Such statutes also provide an incentive for the timely correction of inaccuracies -- a purpose that benefits the subject of the story as well as the publisher. So why wouldn’t retraction laws apply to bloggers, who can – and often do -- correct a misstatement almost instantaneously? Courts have had little difficulty finding that retraction statutes apply to Web sites; the same rationale includes bloggers.

A similar analysis applies to shield laws, which protect journalists from being compelled to reveal confidential sources and other information. Because most laws were written before the Internet existed, they often refer to then-existing media -- newspapers, magazines and the like -- or simply to “journalists,” without defining who is a journalist.

More than five years ago, a California appeals court rejected the argument that the state’s shield law does not cover web publishers. The court wisely declined the invitation to evaluate whether web publishers are “legitimate journalists,” recognizing that doing so is a dangerous step for any branch of the government to undertake. Instead, the court focused on whether the website in question was actively engaged in the gathering and dissemination of information to the public.

Given the many important stories originating from bloggers, it is hard to imagine a rationale for the wholesale exclusion of those writers from the protections that shield laws provide, whether they are called “journalists” or not.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 11:25 AM
From the NY Times ___

Rethink Shield Laws

By Stuart Benjamin

The really interesting question is whether blogging should change the legal regime applicable to journalism. This question arises most directly with respect to journalist shield laws and a possible reporter’s privilege. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted statutes giving journalists some protection against subpoenas, and in each case the question arises of exactly who is covered.

The costs and benefits of the protections for false statements seem to have increased in the blogging era.But I want to raise the less obvious question of the impact of blogging on the desirability of the existing protections against libel and defamation.

Beginning with New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964, the Supreme Court crafted First Amendment protections for false statements of fact on matters of public concern -- requiring “actual malice” if the statement is about a public figure and negligence for a private figure. The Supreme Court opinions laying out these standards do not limit these protections to journalists, or to media more generally.

The opinion a few days ago in Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox mistakenly treats references in some cases to the media as a limitation of the protection to media defendants. But the mistake was in some ways understandable.

In the 1960s and 70s, when the Supreme Court laid out free speech limits on libel and defamation, the obvious potential sources of false statements that could seriously harm one’s reputation (and thus be worth suing for libel or defamation) were large organizations like newspapers, magazines and broadcasters. Do the freedoms extolled in the Supreme Court opinions have the same resonance when everyone and his brother can publish false information to the world at the push of a button? I’m not sure. Both the costs and benefits of the protections for false statements seem to have increased in the blogging era, and it is not obvious to me which have increased more.

And note that the United States is an outlier in the level of constitutional protections it provides to libel and defamation defendants. In the almost 50 years since New York Times v. Sullivan, many other countries have considered a similar regime, and not one has adopted it.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 11:28 AM
From the NY Times ___

According to the Law

By Kyu Ho Youm

Judge Hernandez ruled correctly that Crystal Cox, the self-proclaimed “investigative blogger,” was not a journalist, so she was not privileged to protect her source. But his textual interpretation of the Oregon shield law shows that the pre-Internet law needs updating. As the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated recently, in an era of changing technology and society, “the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.”

Judges will continue with their traditional journalist-oriented approach unless their state laws become more ambiguous.The federal court ruling reinforces the judicial reluctance to read bloggers and other journalistic outsiders (“outliers”?) into state shield law. Judges are more likely to continue with their traditional journalist-oriented approach to source protection unless their state laws are ambiguous enough to allow them creative interpretations.

Yet I wish that the still evolving rights for bloggers had been more searchingly examined by Judge Hernandez, instead of focusing on “media person” and “medium of communication” under the Oregon law. Not every blogger can be a journalist entitled to the source protection. And some bloggers deserve protection if their work is similar to that of mainstream media professionals.

In deciding whether a blogger can claim the journalistic privilege, as journalism scholar Jason Shepard of California State University-Fullerton suggested, judges should scrutinize:

1.) whether the blogger’s stated purpose centered on news-gathering and dissemination;
2.) whether news-gathering and editorial decision-making processes were regularly employed; and
3.) whether the end product of the blogger’s work was sufficiently important within the context of public interest.

Otherwise, the privilege would be too broad to serve worthy bloggers in a meaningful way.

Significantly, one of the congressional shield law proposals in the mid-2000s featured some, if not all, of the functional journalistic criteria for privileging non-traditional journalists like bloggers.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 11:33 AM
^^^ These last four articles were all published as a series, asking and trying to answer the question "Are all Bloggers journalists?" I'm no blogger but I do report news from time to time. I also do what would traditionally be called an opinion column. I've worked on and off in publication, and I know that there are some people I'd name who are anything but journalists. Some can't even get their English grammar and syntax right. I'd like to think not all bloggers can be considered journalists. This might be the opportune time for the mainstream media to take a stand, since after all they are also making hay in the sunshine of the Internet.

12-15-2011, 01:24 PM
Ang isang blogger ay writer, editor at publisher rolled into one. Siya ay merong sole at full discretion kung ano ang isusulat niya, paano niya isusulat, kailan niya isusulat.

Parang investigator, prosecutor, judge at executioner all in one person.

Ganyan ba kamakapangyarihan ang isang journalist?

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 01:43 PM
From the NY Times lead editorial ___

Holder Speaks Up for Voting Rights

For months, the Justice Department has largely been silent as Republican-dominated legislatures in state after state made it harder for minorities, poor people and other Democratic-leaning groups to vote. On Tuesday, however, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. spoke out forcefully and promised to use the full weight of his department to ensure that new electoral laws are not discriminatory. To live up to that vow, he will have his hands full.

Republican lawmakers in more than a dozen states have recently enacted laws designed to limit Americans’ access to the polls, often concentrating on voters — blacks, Hispanics, students and the poor — who showed up in large numbers in 2008 to elect Barack Obama. They have imposed strict voter-ID requirements, knowing that millions of people cannot easily meet them; eliminated early voting periods; and restricted registration drives. (Voter ID laws have been introduced in at least 34 states.)

These efforts, Mr. Holder said, have led many Americans “to believe that we are failing to live up to one of our nation’s most noble, and essential, ideals.” Quoting John Lewis, the Georgia congressman who was beaten in the 1960s while advocating voting rights for blacks, he said those rights are under attack by “a deliberate and systematic attempt” to prevent millions of voters from exercising their constitutional right to engage in democracy.

It was very encouraging to hear Mr. Holder recognize the depth of the assault on a fundamental constitutional right. The question is how far he will use his department’s power to stop it. On that subject, he was a little vague, promising to use his power under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to object to any law that is discriminatory, citing new laws in Texas, South Carolina and Florida.

That section, however, only applies to 16 states that have a well-documented history of voter discrimination, mostly in the South. The new Republican effort is far broader than that group of states, and may require the Justice Department to use other tools to fight it. Though Mr. Holder did not mention it, Section 2 of the act allows the government to take legal action anywhere against measures that are intentionally discriminatory on the basis of race or that have a clear racially disparate impact. The Justice Department can also intervene in private lawsuits that allege violations of the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment, such as the one filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union against Wisconsin.

Those cases are harder to make, particularly given the 2008 Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s voter ID law, but Mr. Holder at least suggested that his department would now actively be looking for patterns of discrimination in the new laws. As he noted, race continues to preoccupy many state officials. The Justice Department recently had to object to a redistricting plan in an eastern Louisiana parish that was based on a meeting that excluded black officeholders. It also intervened against the Republican redistricting plan in Texas, which created no new Hispanic districts despite a huge influx of new Hispanic residents. (That case is going to the Supreme Court.)

Mr. Holder effectively demolished the phony voter-fraud excuse used by Republicans supporting these laws, pointing that such fraud happens far too infrequently to justify this kind of discrimination. And he called on citizens of every state to demand a voter registration system that is not cumbersome, allowing anyone eligible to exercise what Lyndon Johnson called “the basic right, without which all others are meaningless.”

His department faces a concerted opposition of political opportunists who believe making it easy to vote harms their interests. Mr. Holder’s speech was a strong first step, as long as it is backed up by the full power of the law.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 01:48 PM
Going back to bloggers and journalists, I agree with Oca. Self-regulation sounds good in principle, but in reality it is like handing the asylum over to the inmates (or patients, whatever suits...)

This is principally why while I do support the initiatives for a Freedom of Information Act, there is a good part of me that also wants to have a Right to Reply Act as long as it is an factual mistake or proven libel or slander.

If the press wants every instrument to bring out what they say is the news, then at the very least the subjects of the news should have something with which to uphold their own rights. "Policing our own ranks" is a popular sentiment among the mainstream media, and that is not only stupid but arrogant.

Sam Miguel
12-15-2011, 02:15 PM
From the NY Times ___

Political Class Clowns


For a Republican Party that has spent the better part of its presidential campaign proving that most of its candidates are not smarter than a fifth grader, the real scandal around frontrunner-of-the-moment Herman Cain is not what he knows. It’s what he doesn’t know.

China, for example. Lost in the wave of contradictory statements about his personal behavior was something Cain said a few days ago about the Asian powerhouse.

China, said Cain with his clueless urgency, is “trying to develop nuclear capability.” Anyone who is gobsmacked by this category five level of ignorance concerning a country that has had nuclear weapons for more than 45 years has not been paying attention. Cain makes Sarah Palin, with her eagle-eyed view of Russia from Alaska, sound like a Council of Foreign Relations scholar on a gasbag high.

The clowns have finally taken over the circus, and I mean this with all due respect to those who labor with painted faces and oversized shoes. The party that got itself into a fever over Barack Obama’s imaginary Kenyan birth, and briefly elevated Donald Trump, the main purveyor of that invention, to its front ranks, is now overwhelmed by its own nonsense.

Herman Cain was never — and will never be — a serious candidate. He’s a vanity candidate who got into the race to boost his income as a motivational speaker. And lo, because he can speak, and people like Governor Rick Perry cannot string noun, verb and object together in a coherent fashion, he looks superior by comparison.

As evidenced by his year on the stump, Cain has proved that he knows almost nothing about American life beyond burgers and pizzas, and even less about the larger world.

But Cain is not the problem. It’s his party. Cain gets away with saying that we should have a moat along the Mexican border filled with alligators because there is no reality cop on the Republican beat.

Consider Newt Gingrich, something I suspect many Republicans will now start doing as Cain craters. Gingrich fancies himself as the intellectual among high-office aspirants on the right, albeit a grumpy one. Yet he spent much of his early campaign talking about the nonexistent danger of Shariah law in the United States. In March, when President Obama gave the O.K. for American air support to save lives and oust Muammar el-Qaddafi, Gingrich said it would prove to be one of the worst foreign policy blunders in his lifetime.

Or look for just a moment at Rick Santorum, a man who is obsessed with other people’s sex lives. Last month, this former senator said if he were president he’d wage a campaign against “the dangers of contraception.” He’s serious. “It’s not O.K.,” he said. “It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

The former Iowa frontrunner, Rep. Michele Bachmann, thinks the poor should pay more taxes, and that vaccines against cervical cancer may cause mental retardation. I think she gets her information from a guy living in a van down by the river. On the eve of the last Republican debate, Politifact, the nonpartisan referee, rated 14 of her 36 major policy statements as false. And 9 of those 14 were given the “pants on fire” lie designation.

While the nation begs for solutions to the troubles of a hurting and diminishing middle class, Republicans have been talking about whether Mormonism is a cult, and how many Mexicans they can kill with Cain’s alligators. In the process of trying to delegitimize Obama, they have done the same to themselves.

More than ever, the public feels disconnected from the political process. They feel like it’s an inside game, and money always wins. They despise a Congress that fiddles with votes to keep “In God We Trust” as a national motto and rails against a nonexistent rule to regulate dust, but will do nothing to forward funds to repair a bridge. In the last CBS/New York Times poll, Congressional approval was 9 percent. The only surprise was that it was so high.

It does not matter if the sexual harassment story about Herm Cain the restaurant lobbyist came from a plant by Rick Perry or from Bart Simpson. What Cain did after hours is not a worthy discussion because Cain is not a worthy candidate. He should run for something — anything — and study the globe for 20 minutes before assuming he can be president. In the meantime, Republicans have the frontrunner they deserve.

The public already knows the real scandal: our broken politics. On Sunday, in case we need reminding, the disgraced criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff will be on “60 Minutes” giving a little tutorial about life in the nation’s capital. He had 100 congressmen in his pocket, he explains. “We owned them.”

And as long as the political class focuses on the happy-hour antics of a pizza man, nothing will change but the name of the lobbyist counting congressmen in his corral.

12-15-2011, 08:22 PM
De Lima: Impeach all Arroyo Justices

The justice chief went as far as saying all "Arroyo justices" should be impeached and replaced by new appointees.

"[W]hen the Arroyo justices start thinking that in protecting Arroyo, they are shorn of any accountability, not even by impeachment, then it is time the people, through their representatives in Congress, impeach them. It is time the president and Congress reclaim the Court for the people," she said.

De Lima hit Corona for saying in his speech that Mr. Aquino wanted his immediate ouster so the incumbent chief executive could appoint a Chief Justice he could "hold by the neck" who shall cater to all his wishes.

So replacing the GMA appointees with PNoy appointees is the matuwid na daan afterall?

What's the guarantee that they will not be beholden to the appointing authority in the same way that this administration claims on the gma appointees? Double standard ampuch@!

I still can't believe 15 million Filipinos got fooled by someone whose career as a lawmaker leaves much to be desired.

12-16-2011, 02:11 AM
^^^ Danny check out Time magazine's person of the year. Talk of the devil indeed...

Yup. Just heard the news.

Watch this pare ko.



Democratic change has been demanded across the Middle East. But was what seems like a spontaneous revolution actually a strategically planned event, fabricated by 'revolution consultants' long in advance?

Revolution consultants are the worst nightmare of every regime. Srdja Popovic was a founder of the organisation 'Otpor', a revolution training school. It was instrumental in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s and has now inspired a new generation of activists. Political commentators like William Engdahl are convinced Otpor is being financed by the USA. "The people from Otpor gave us a book in which they described all their strategies", says Ezzedine Zaatour of the Tunisian uprising. That book was written by an American, Gene Sharp, and is now considered the "revolution guide book", being used by opposition movements worldwide. As Optor release their latest gadget, a resistance training computer game sponsored by American organisations, world leaders are voicing their concerns. "This is called a gentle coup!", insists Hugo Chavez.

12-16-2011, 04:20 AM
Going back to bloggers and journalists, I agree with Oca. Self-regulation sounds good in principle, but in reality it is like handing the asylum over to the inmates (or patients, whatever suits...)

You are talking about Fox News, right?


News bulletins around the world have been following Russia's election rallies. But one channel stands out - America's Fox News has been showing streets ablaze, violent clashes and firebombs thrown at security officers, but with one major problem - the images are not from Russia, they're from Greece!

Enjoy. :)

12-16-2011, 05:01 AM
De Lima: Impeach all Arroyo Justices

The justice chief went as far as saying all "Arroyo justices" should be impeached and replaced by new appointees.

"[W]hen the Arroyo justices start thinking that in protecting Arroyo, they are shorn of any accountability, not even by impeachment, then it is time the people, through their representatives in Congress, impeach them. It is time the president and Congress reclaim the Court for the people," she said.

De Lima hit Corona for saying in his speech that Mr. Aquino wanted his immediate ouster so the incumbent chief executive could appoint a Chief Justice he could "hold by the neck" who shall cater to all his wishes.

I still can't believe 15 million Filipinos got fooled by someone whose career as a lawmaker leaves much to be desired.
For a simpleton i'd rather be fooled by somebody who will keep me stuck in the same place for his whole tenure rather than go for a smart person who will just take me for a ride.

I am an IT person
I don't know much about micro or macro ecomony
In the first two years of the previous administration i saw 40% of my staff lose their jobs
That was before the us ecomic crisis
At the aftermath of the crisis at least 3 of 10 IT people i've some to work with had to find other jobs before they got the boot
In the first year of the dumb president, in our company about 60% of middle executives in the US were fired
Even long term rank and file were let go in all our offices in the states
BUT, in our local office? only 6 out of 800+ employees had to go for various reasons not limited to penny pinching
Obviously, I should, and I do, feel more comfortable with our situation inspite of our stupid president
I was never part of a survey but if i was asked 'Am I in a better situation before or after Gloria?' Without even having to consider anything, the answer is a resounding AFTER
That is how simple "economics" to somebody who doesn't know anything about ecomics

Those are the statistics that matter for simple porsons like me.
I don;t know much about the courts.
Hell, i don't even know Noynoy's congress stats
But that don't matter anyway
To me at least

As bad as I am with econ I am 10-flods worse legally speaking
Should Corona go?
Hell, yeah
How could somebody who is supposed to be "supreme" in legalities accept a post in a patently wrong circustances, by stupid people standards?
I have yet to meet a poncho pilato who agrees with the appointment
By what means?
That is for the learned men to debate on
But that dude must go
That's how far my limited knowledge of the law goes

Sa mga hindi masyadung madunong simple lang:
Happy ba ako sa economy?
Ewan ko... basta ang alam ko hindi ako nagkukumahog kagaya nung nakaraang administration
Malungkot ba ako?
Aba'y hinde dahil kahit papano, nakaluluwag ako ngayon kung ihahambing sa nakaraang administrasyon
Siguro pampalubag loob lang ito sa mga taong may malalim na bulsa pero ngayong taong ito mas may kaunting arte ang pasko ng mga taong kakilala ko
Sapat na siguro yon sa aming simple lang ang pagiisip

Sabi nga ng pedicab trayber sa may kanto ng Washinton ant Dela Rose, "That's how we roll"

12-16-2011, 07:40 AM
Benevolent dictator? Only if Noynoy were a Lee Kuan Yew :). LKY has superb academic credentials, a lot of management experience and a vision.

Businessmen have mixed feelings re Noynoy. On the one hand, they like the transparency (no cronyism - at least not yet). On the other, they say there's lack of competence, coordination and vision (i.e. short and long term planning). Pero sila lahat takot kay Kim Henares :D.

Sam Miguel
12-16-2011, 08:08 AM
From the LA Times ___

U.S. military formally ends mission in Iraq

December 15, 2011 | 4:36 am

This post has been updated. See note at bottom for details.

REPORTING FROM BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military mission in Iraq formally ended Thursday in a small ceremony at Baghdad airport as the last U.S. troops prepared to leave the country after nearly nine years of war, billions of dollars spent and nearly 4,500 American lives lost.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other top civilian and military officials flew in to Baghdad to mark the formal end of the U.S. military effort, one of most divisive wars in American history.

Instead of addressing the deep questions about the war, Panetta paid tribute to U.S. troops, arguing that the combat losses and the enormous expenditure of resources since 2003 had not been wasted.

"To be sure, the cost was high -- in blood and treasure for the United States and for the Iraqi people," he told the audience of around 200 troops and a few Iraqi officials. "But those lives were not lost in vain -- they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq."

Yet an atmosphere of uncertainty permeates the U.S. exit.

Though security has improved dramatically since the insurgency's height in 2006 and 2007, Iraq remains riven by ethnic and sectarian divisions and beset by fears that the U.S. departure will cause violence to increase once again.

Many U.S. military officers, including some in attendance Thursday, have spent years fighting in Iraq and now wonder as they leave what has been achieved.

In the 45-minute ceremony, Gen. Ike Austin, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, furled his flag, terminating his command.

He recalled giving the command that sent the 3rd Infantry Division into Iraq in 2003 and the surge of U.S. forces in 2007 that helped stop the war's "downward spiral."

There was no mention during the ceremony of Saddam Hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction or his ties to Al Qaeda -- the Bush administration's largely discredited reasons for invading Iraq in 2003.

Only two U.S. bases and around 4,000 troops remained in Iraq as of Thursday, the rear guard of a force that was more than 170,000 strong at the height of the war and once controlled hundreds of bases.

The last military personnel under Austin's command will depart Iraq by the weekend, officials said.

There was perhaps no better symbol of the fragility of the security gains in Iraq than that the final ceremony was held in a structure known as the "Glass House."

The domed, glass-clad structure near the Baghdad airport runway was once a VIP lounge under Hussein. Many of the glass panels were shattered and its reception rooms lay in ruins after U.S. troops stormed the airport in 2003, but even today the building is patched with plywood and camouflage netting, and protected behind blast walls.

Around 200 U.S. military personnel will remain in Iraq after this year, but only to administer arms sales and other limited military exchanges as members of the U.S. diplomatic mission.

For the administration, the departure fulfills President Obama's pledge to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq, a move that polls suggest is supported by many Americans.

Many officers and even some Iraqis were upset by the Obama administration's decision in October to break off talks with Iraq on keeping U.S. forces there, fearing Iraq would slide back into chaos.

Obama administration officials said it was time for Iraq's government to take full responsibility for the country's security.

Obama, who as a candidate once called the Iraq conflict a "dumb war," broke off talks with Iraq in October on keeping troops there after the two sides were unable to agree on giving U.S. troops legal immunity from Iraqi prosecution.

White House officials were never eager to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, fearing it would sully Obama's claim to be wrapping up the war. But they now face the risk that Iraq's ethnic and sectarian violence will reemerge, and that neighboring Iran will gain influence as the U.S. pulls back.

"Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead -- by terrorism and by those who would seek to divide," Panetta said.

But the Obama administration has adopted its own version of the Bush administration claim that the conflict was worth the cost because it helped free Iraq from Hussein.

Panetta and Austin were joined by Ambassador James Jeffrey and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dempsey was the commander of the 1st Armored Division in 2006 when Sunni-Shiite violence erupted in and around Baghdad, leading to the toughest fighting of the war.

"We paid a great price here and it was a price worth paying," Dempsey said.

[Updated, 10:06 a.m. Dec. 15: The opening paragraph of this post has been updated to clarify that the nearly 4,500 killed in the Iraq War refers to the number Americans killed, not the war's total death toll.]

Sam Miguel
12-16-2011, 08:10 AM
De Lima: Impeach all Arroyo Justices

The justice chief went as far as saying all "Arroyo justices" should be impeached and replaced by new appointees.

"[W]hen the Arroyo justices start thinking that in protecting Arroyo, they are shorn of any accountability, not even by impeachment, then it is time the people, through their representatives in Congress, impeach them. It is time the president and Congress reclaim the Court for the people," she said.

De Lima hit Corona for saying in his speech that Mr. Aquino wanted his immediate ouster so the incumbent chief executive could appoint a Chief Justice he could "hold by the neck" who shall cater to all his wishes.

I still can't believe 15 million Filipinos got fooled by someone whose career as a lawmaker leaves much to be desired.
For a simpleton i'd rather be fooled by somebody who will keep me stuck in the same place for his whole tenure rather than go for a smart person who will just take me for a ride.

I am an IT person
I don't know much about micro or macro ecomony
In the first two years of the previous administration i saw 40% of my staff lose their jobs
That was before the us ecomic crisis
At the aftermath of the crisis at least 3 of 10 IT people i've some to work with had to find other jobs before they got the boot
In the first year of the dumb president, in our company about 60% of middle executives in the US were fired
Even long term rank and file were let go in all our offices in the states
BUT, in our local office? only 6 out of 800+ employees had to go for various reasons not limited to penny pinching
Obviously, I should, and I do, feel more comfortable with our situation inspite of our stupid president
I was never part of a survey but if i was asked 'Am I in a better situation before or after Gloria?' Without even having to consider anything, the answer is a resounding AFTER
That is how simple "economics" to somebody who doesn't know anything about ecomics

Those are the statistics that matter for simple porsons like me.
I don;t know much about the courts.
Hell, i don't even know Noynoy's congress stats
But that don't matter anyway
To me at least

As bad as I am with econ I am 10-flods worse legally speaking
Should Corona go?
Hell, yeah
How could somebody who is supposed to be "supreme" in legalities accept a post in a patently wrong circustances, by stupid people standards?
I have yet to meet a poncho pilato who agrees with the appointment
By what means?
That is for the learned men to debate on
But that dude must go
That's how far my limited knowledge of the law goes

Sa mga hindi masyadung madunong simple lang:
Happy ba ako sa economy?
Ewan ko... basta ang alam ko hindi ako nagkukumahog kagaya nung nakaraang administration
Malungkot ba ako?
Aba'y hinde dahil kahit papano, nakaluluwag ako ngayon kung ihahambing sa nakaraang administrasyon
Siguro pampalubag loob lang ito sa mga taong may malalim na bulsa pero ngayong taong ito mas may kaunting arte ang pasko ng mga taong kakilala ko
Sapat na siguro yon sa aming simple lang ang pagiisip

Sabi nga ng pedicab trayber sa may kanto ng Washinton ant Dela Rose, "That's how we roll"

Uwi ka na kasi tokayo...

12-16-2011, 01:54 PM
Noynoy is said to be bullheaded. What he wants, he gets no matter what, no matter how. Don't cross his path or dare to disagree. Now this is ok if he's always right. But he isn't. There are many ways to skin a cat, so to speak. This he has to learn.

12-17-2011, 01:32 AM
De Lima: Impeach all Arroyo Justices

The justice chief went as far as saying all "Arroyo justices" should be impeached and replaced by new appointees.

"[W]hen the Arroyo justices start thinking that in protecting Arroyo, they are shorn of any accountability, not even by impeachment, then it is time the people, through their representatives in Congress, impeach them. It is time the president and Congress reclaim the Court for the people," she said.

De Lima hit Corona for saying in his speech that Mr. Aquino wanted his immediate ouster so the incumbent chief executive could appoint a Chief Justice he could "hold by the neck" who shall cater to all his wishes.

I still can't believe 15 million Filipinos got fooled by someone whose career as a lawmaker leaves much to be desired.
For a simpleton i'd rather be fooled by somebody who will keep me stuck in the same place for his whole tenure rather than go for a smart person who will just take me for a ride.

I am an IT person
I don't know much about micro or macro ecomony
In the first two years of the previous administration i saw 40% of my staff lose their jobs
That was before the us ecomic crisis
At the aftermath of the crisis at least 3 of 10 IT people i've some to work with had to find other jobs before they got the boot
In the first year of the dumb president, in our company about 60% of middle executives in the US were fired
Even long term rank and file were let go in all our offices in the states
BUT, in our local office? only 6 out of 800+ employees had to go for various reasons not limited to penny pinching
Obviously, I should, and I do, feel more comfortable with our situation inspite of our stupid president
I was never part of a survey but if i was asked 'Am I in a better situation before or after Gloria?' Without even having to consider anything, the answer is a resounding AFTER
That is how simple "economics" to somebody who doesn't know anything about ecomics

Those are the statistics that matter for simple porsons like me.
I don;t know much about the courts.
Hell, i don't even know Noynoy's congress stats
But that don't matter anyway
To me at least

As bad as I am with econ I am 10-flods worse legally speaking
Should Corona go?
Hell, yeah
How could somebody who is supposed to be "supreme" in legalities accept a post in a patently wrong circustances, by stupid people standards?
I have yet to meet a poncho pilato who agrees with the appointment
By what means?
That is for the learned men to debate on
But that dude must go
That's how far my limited knowledge of the law goes

Sa mga hindi masyadung madunong simple lang:
Happy ba ako sa economy?
Ewan ko... basta ang alam ko hindi ako nagkukumahog kagaya nung nakaraang administration
Malungkot ba ako?
Aba'y hinde dahil kahit papano, nakaluluwag ako ngayon kung ihahambing sa nakaraang administrasyon
Siguro pampalubag loob lang ito sa mga taong may malalim na bulsa pero ngayong taong ito mas may kaunting arte ang pasko ng mga taong kakilala ko
Sapat na siguro yon sa aming simple lang ang pagiisip

Sabi nga ng pedicab trayber sa may kanto ng Washinton ant Dela Rose, "That's how we roll"

Uwi ka na kasi tokayo...
Tokayo niiulubos ko lang ang pagkakataon at baka pag matalino na ulit ang presidente natin ay hndi ko na ulit maranasang mag ultra extended "vacation". Huling extended vacation ko ay nung panahon pa ni Erap, isa pang hindi matatawag na henyo. Sa simpleng economic terms ko ay isa itong napakalaking indikasyon kung bakit masarap mag pa uto sa bobong presidente

12-17-2011, 08:26 AM
Noynoy isn't exactly bobo. Kulang lang sa overall perspective. In his rush to jail GMA before Christmas, she was detained on 2007 cheating charges which could be dismissed by the lower courts. So what happens now?

His hatred of Corona moved him to order his lackeys in the House (many of whom supported Gloria in the past) to impeach him. What happens now if the Senate acquits him?

I want GMA punished but for the right reasons. No half-baked charges. I can't understand, for example, how Gloria could be sued for civil damages in the Maguindanao massacre (truly despicable) just because the Ampatuans were her allies. DOJ is filing charges like crazy. Mabuti pa si Morales ng Ombudsman pinagaaralan mabuti ang mga kaso.

And at the rate Noynoy is antagonizing the judiciary (or intimidating), the resolution of many of these cases may be affected.

Meantime, magulo ang ating bayan. Surely these could have been done differently. Now we see the other 9 "Arroyo" justices supporting the Chief Justice. Abangan.

12-17-2011, 03:40 PM
I am an IT person
I don't know much about micro or macro ecomony
In the first two years of the previous administration i saw 40% of my staff lose their jobs
That was before the us ecomic crisis
At the aftermath of the crisis at least 3 of 10 IT people i've some to work with had to find other jobs before they got the boot
In the first year of the dumb president, in our company about 60% of middle executives in the US were fired
Even long term rank and file were let go in all our offices in the states
BUT, in our local office? only 6 out of 800+ employees had to go for various reasons not limited to penny pinching
Obviously, I should, and I do, feel more comfortable with our situation inspite of our stupid president
I was never part of a survey but if i was asked 'Am I in a better situation before or after Gloria?' Without even having to consider anything, the answer is a resounding AFTER
That is how simple "economics" to somebody who doesn't know anything about ecomics

Those are the statistics that matter for simple porsons like me.

For you but how about other persons who don't subscribe to your view?

So what about these problems? Don't they matter to you?
1) Noynoy's Wealth TRIPLED One Year After Election

WITHIN a year after the May 2010 elections, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III reported that his wealth had grown nearly three times, or from only P15,440,268 as of December 2009 to P54,999,370 as of December 2010.

The net increase in his wealth: P39,559,102, or 256 percent more in just 12 months.

2) utang na loob
There are now four Abad family members in the Aquino Cabinet, namely, Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad; his wife, Batanes Rep.Henedina Abad, who will reportedly become vice-chairperson of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations; their daughter, Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff; and his son, Luis, chief-of-staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

3) Net Foreign Direct Investment plunges 33% in 9 months

4) GDP Growth plunged deeply to 3.2% in 3rd Quarter of 2011

5) Railroading the impeachment of Corona in the lower house

6) Quirino grandstand hostage crisis

7) Giving money to the MILF

8) Refusal to comply with the SC TRO against De Lima

The list goes on and on.

I don;t know much about the courts.

And yet you want Corona impeached because you believe the lies fabricated by the present administration?

Hell, i don't even know Noynoy's congress stats
But that don't matter anyway
To me at least

But should not his performance as a congressman matter a lot? I mean if he performed miserably as a legislator, what more as the chief executive?

As bad as I am with econ I am 10-flods worse legally speaking
Should Corona go?
Hell, yeah
How could somebody who is supposed to be "supreme" in legalities accept a post in a patently wrong circustances, by stupid people standards?
I have yet to meet a poncho pilato who agrees with the appointment
By what means?
That is for the learned men to debate on
But that dude must go
That's how far my limited knowledge of the law goes

It was already ruled that the midnight appointment doesn't include the SC.

I don't understand why the Anti-corona/anti-gma people continuously whine about an issue that was already settled by a gov't branch mandated by the Constitution to interpret the laws. Sinong gusto nating magdesisyon? Ang pulse asia survey? Ang tv patrol text poll? Si Kris Aquino?

What makes Corona's acceptance before patently wrong under the circumstances? Because of the speculations that he will be beholden to the appointing authority? What makes it any different if let's say it was PNoy who appointed the CJ? In the first place, it's highly unfair to label Corona as GMA's puppet on the sole basis of rendering decisions in favor of her. There was even a blog that successfully rebutted Drilon's exaggerated 19-0 accusation. As I've previously mentioned, there have been instances as well wherein Corona voted against the past administration.

Sa mga hindi masyadung madunong simple lang:
Happy ba ako sa economy?
Ewan ko... basta ang alam ko hindi ako nagkukumahog kagaya nung nakaraang administration
Malungkot ba ako?
Aba'y hinde dahil kahit papano, nakaluluwag ako ngayon kung ihahambing sa nakaraang administrasyon
Siguro pampalubag loob lang ito sa mga taong may malalim na bulsa pero ngayong taong ito mas may kaunting arte ang pasko ng mga taong kakilala ko
Sapat na siguro yon sa aming simple lang ang pagiisip

Sabi nga ng pedicab trayber sa may kanto ng Washinton ant Dela Rose, "That's how we roll"

I repeat. Paano naman kami? Kayo na lang ba?

12-17-2011, 04:41 PM
I am an IT person
I don't know much about micro or macro ecomony
In the first two years of the previous administration i saw 40% of my staff lose their jobs
That was before the us ecomic crisis
At the aftermath of the crisis at least 3 of 10 IT people i've some to work with had to find other jobs before they got the boot
In the first year of the dumb president, in our company about 60% of middle executives in the US were fired
Even long term rank and file were let go in all our offices in the states
BUT, in our local office? only 6 out of 800+ employees had to go for various reasons not limited to penny pinching
Obviously, I should, and I do, feel more comfortable with our situation inspite of our stupid president
I was never part of a survey but if i was asked 'Am I in a better situation before or after Gloria?' Without even having to consider anything, the answer is a resounding AFTER
That is how simple "economics" to somebody who doesn't know anything about ecomics

Those are the statistics that matter for simple porsons like me.

For you but how about other persons who don't subscribe to your view?

So what about these problems? Don't they matter to you?
1) Noynoy's Wealth TRIPLED One Year After Election

WITHIN a year after the May 2010 elections, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III reported that his wealth had grown nearly three times, or from only P15,440,268 as of December 2009 to P54,999,370 as of December 2010.

The net increase in his wealth: P39,559,102, or 256 percent more in just 12 months.

2) utang na loob
There are now four Abad family members in the Aquino Cabinet, namely, Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad; his wife, Batanes Rep.Henedina Abad, who will reportedly become vice-chairperson of the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations; their daughter, Julia, head of the Presidential Management Staff; and his son, Luis, chief-of-staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

3) Net Foreign Direct Investment plunges 33% in 9 months

4) GDP Growth plunged deeply to 3.2% in 3rd Quarter of 2011

5) Railroading the impeachment of Corona in the lower house

6) Quirino grandstand hostage crisis

7) Giving money to the MILF

8) Refusal to comply with the SC TRO against De Lima

The list goes on and on.

I don;t know much about the courts.

And yet you want Corona impeached because you believe the lies fabricated by the present administration?

Hell, i don't even know Noynoy's congress stats
But that don't matter anyway
To me at least

But should not his performance as a congressman matter a lot? I mean if he performed miserably as a legislator, what more as the chief executive?

As bad as I am with econ I am 10-flods worse legally speaking
Should Corona go?
Hell, yeah
How could somebody who is supposed to be "supreme" in legalities accept a post in a patently wrong circustances, by stupid people standards?
I have yet to meet a poncho pilato who agrees with the appointment
By what means?
That is for the learned men to debate on
But that dude must go
That's how far my limited knowledge of the law goes

It was already ruled that the midnight appointment doesn't include the SC.

I don't understand why the Anti-corona/anti-gma people continuously whine about an issue that was already settled by a gov't branch mandated by the Constitution to interpret the laws. Sinong gusto nating magdesisyon? Ang pulse asia survey? Ang tv patrol text poll? Si Kris Aquino?

What makes Corona's acceptance before patently wrong under the circumstances? Because of the speculations that he will be beholden to the appointing authority? What makes it any different if let's say it was PNoy who appointed the CJ? In the first place, it's highly unfair to label Corona as GMA's puppet on the sole basis of rendering decisions in favor of her. There was even a blog that successfully rebutted Drilon's exaggerated 19-0 accusation. As I've previously mentioned, there have been instances as well wherein Corona voted against the past administration.

Sa mga hindi masyadung madunong simple lang:
Happy ba ako sa economy?
Ewan ko... basta ang alam ko hindi ako nagkukumahog kagaya nung nakaraang administration
Malungkot ba ako?
Aba'y hinde dahil kahit papano, nakaluluwag ako ngayon kung ihahambing sa nakaraang administrasyon
Siguro pampalubag loob lang ito sa mga taong may malalim na bulsa pero ngayong taong ito mas may kaunting arte ang pasko ng mga taong kakilala ko
Sapat na siguro yon sa aming simple lang ang pagiisip

Sabi nga ng pedicab trayber sa may kanto ng Washinton ant Dela Rose, "That's how we roll"

I repeat. Paano naman kami? Kayo na lang ba?
Naghihirap na ba kayo? Napasama ba ang lagay ng estado niyo sa buhay nung naupo sa Noynoy? Sa pamilya namin ang makakapag sabi lang na sumama ang lagay ng pamumuhay ay yung mga nakaupo sa nakaraang admisnitration na ngayoy wala na sa poder, sakadahilanang natalo sa election o tinangal ng bagong administrasyon

Breadwinner ako. Mahalaga sa akin ang makapag uwi ng maihahain sa hapag kainan. Iyan ang malaking batayan kung makakatulog ako ng mahimbing sa gabi. Hindi kung sino ang tama at mali sa mga debateng wala ring patutunguhan. Hindi ko rin tatwagin condescendingly ang mga taong hindi kahalintulad ng aking pananaw o hindi ibinoto ang taong pinaniniwalaan ko. Lahat ay may kani kaniyang dahilan sa pagpili ng mamumuno. Malaking batayan ang pamumuhay at malaing dahilan din kung gusto bng katulad ng nakaraang administrasyon o bago nalang wag lang maibalik sa dating pamumuhay.

Disclaimer: Hindi ko ibinoto si Noynoy

12-17-2011, 10:45 PM
The cat is out of the bag. Oust Enrile plot tied to the Palace according to leftist Rep. Casino (I thought he's allied with Noynoy?). Destabilization may just be around the corner. All these because of Noynoy's relentless drive to punish Gloria and Corona. Why doesn't he just let the Ombudsman and the courts take care of Gloria? And Corona is just one vote as I said previously. Even if he removes Corona, there are still 9 "Arroyo" justices on the SC. What is he going to do about them?

Joker Arroyo said Noynoy is intolerant of dissent and thinks good intentions are enough. He added that Pnoy does not know how the government works and does not know the Constitution.

Sam Miguel
12-21-2011, 10:22 AM
From the NY Times, just in case we all forgot that North Korea is almost next door ___

China’s Newest Province?


NORTH KOREA as we know it is over. Whether it comes apart in the next few weeks or over several months, the regime will not be able to hold together after the untimely death of its leader, Kim Jong-il. How America responds — and, perhaps even more important, how America responds to how China responds — will determine whether the region moves toward greater stability or falls into conflict.

Mr. Kim’s death could not have come at a worse time for North Korea. Economically broken, starving and politically isolated, this dark kingdom was in the midst of preparations to hand power over to his not-yet-30-year-old son, the untested Kim Jong-un. The “great successor,” as he has been dubbed by the state media, is surrounded by elders who are no less sick than his father and a military that chafed at his promotion to four-star general last year without having served a day in the army. Such a system simply cannot hold.

The transition comes at a time when the United States has been trying to get nuclear negotiations back on track. Those efforts have now been replaced by a scramble for plans to control loose nuclear weapons, should the regime collapse.

And yet Washington remains powerless. Any outreach to the young Mr. Kim or to other possible competitors could create more problems during the transition, and would certainly be viewed as threatening by China. Since Kim Jong-il’s stroke in 2008, the United States and South Korea have been working on contingency plans to deal with just such a situation, but they all thought they would have years, if not a decade.

The allies’ best move, then, is to wait and see what China does. Among China’s core foreign-policy principles is the maintenance of a divided Korean Peninsula, and so Beijing’s statements about preserving continuity of North Korea’s leadership should come as no surprise. Since 2008 it has drawn closer to the regime, publicly defending its leaders and investing heavily in the mineral mines on the Chinese-North Korean border.

But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong-il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership. For Xi Jinping, expected to become China’s president over the next year, the first major foreign policy decision will be whether to shed North Korea or effectively adopt it as a province.

All indications are that Beijing will pursue the latter course, in no small part because of a bias among its leadership to support the status quo, rather than to confront dramatic change. And yet “adopting” North Korea could be dramatic in itself. China may go all in, doling out early invitations and new assistance packages to the young Mr. Kim, conditioning them on promises of economic reform.

While some observers hope that Kim Jong-il’s death will unleash democratic regime change, China will work strongly against that possibility, especially if such efforts receive support from South Korea or the United States. Given that Beijing has the only eyes inside the North, Washington and Seoul could do little in response.

Yet even China’s best-laid plans may come apart. The assistance may be too little, too late, especially given the problems the new leadership will face. A clear channel of dialogue involving the United States, China and South Korea is needed now more than ever.

And yet such a dialogue is completely absent since Kim Jong-il’s stroke. Beijing has deflected every official and unofficial overture from Washington to have quiet discussions on potential North Korean instability. Before, China let its fears of Western interests get the better of it; wiser Chinese judgment should lead authorities to open such a channel now. The three sides should open with a conversation on all our fears about what could happen in a collapsing North — loose nukes, refugee flows, artillery attacks — and how each would respond.

With so little known about the inner workings of this dark kingdom, miscalculation by any side in response to developments inside the North is a very real possibility given the hair-trigger alerts of the militaries on the peninsula.

None of this will be easy. For China, the uncertainty surrounding North Korea comes against the backdrop of Mr. Obama’s “pivot” to Asia and assertion that the region is America’s new strategic priority. This has already created insecurities in Beijing that will make genuine dialogue with the United States even more challenging — and thus all the more necessary.

Sam Miguel
12-21-2011, 11:08 AM
From the NY Times ___

Death of a Dictator

The United States and its partners have long struggled to understand North Korea, where a cruel system of fear, repression and paranoia keeps the country largely impenetrable to outsiders. They will have to work harder than ever to pierce the curtain — and manage stability on the Korean Peninsula — after the abrupt death of Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator, and the ascension of his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

The elder Mr. Kim began planning for succession after suffering a stroke in 2008, but he seemed to have improved after that. Even China, North Korea’s main patron, expressed “shock” at his passing. The death on Saturday was officially attributed to a heart attack and announced some 48 hours after it occurred.

Any transition in North Korea, which has the unnerving combination of a growing nuclear weapons arsenal and an erratic leadership, would be difficult. But little is known about the son, who is believed to be in his late 20s and was only tapped officially to take over for his father in September 2010. At that time, he was named a four-star general, although he lacked military experience.

On Monday, the official news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, reported that soldiers and citizens were swearing allegiance to Kim Jong-un. This was hardly a surprise, and we have no idea if it’s true. It will take longer to know if the generals are fully behind him. Given North Korea’s penchant for belligerence, there are also legitimate concerns that the son could do something provocative — another nuclear test or an attack on South Korea — to prove his military bona fides internally or show the outside world that North Korea remains a militarized state and a force to be reckoned with. That would be extremely dangerous.

The 17-year rule of Kim Jong-il, in which the leaders enjoyed cognac and other luxuries and wasted resources on nuclear weapons while the rest of the population faced starvation and repression, was a disgrace. This transition is a perilous moment that calls for close and thoughtful coordination among the United States and crucial allies.

President Obama moved quickly to consult South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, in telephone calls late Sunday and on Monday. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met in Washington with the foreign minister of Japan, Koichiro Gemba. Similar efforts will be needed with China, which worries most about a flood of refugees if North Korea collapses and has the most clout of any country to warn the North against acting irresponsibly.

Mr. Obama was right to reaffirm America’s commitment to stability on the Korean Peninsula and to South Korea’s security. But he also needs to make clear that his administration remains open to engaging North Korea. After several years of detachment, the two sides recently have discussed a long overdue American offer of food assistance (proper monitoring of deliveries is a must) and the North’s return to nuclear talks. We have no idea whether this is possible, but Kim Jong-il’s death does provide his successor with an opportunity to change course. The United States and its allies can signal clearly that they are willing to talk — even while continuing to implement strict sanctions.

Sam Miguel
12-21-2011, 02:12 PM
Indicative of how much of a "hermit kingdom" North Korea is, even the great Mossad, CIA, NSA, Mi5 and Mi6 were all caught unawares of the sudden death of Kim Jong Il. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not necessarily welcome news to the great powers. While they anticipated this - the late dictator pushing 70 and all - they always thought they had a couple more years if not a full decade to prepare for it. In a country that remains arguably the most isolated from the world at large as a matter of policy, Kim's demise may have set off alarms as and accelerated timetables for dealing with a failed and rogue state with nuclear capability. Who takes over now is not nearly as important with how the great powers, obviously in the dark about the country itself, will engage it.

Sam Miguel
12-22-2011, 08:55 AM
From the NY Times ___

What to Do, and Not Do, About North Korea


THE death of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, and the ascendance to power of one of his sons, Kim Jong-un, creates some opportunities and potential traps for the administration and senior leaders in the United States — things they should be sure to say and be sure not to say.

First, we should recognize that we have been here before. Sort of. In 1994, I learned of the death of Kim Il-sung in an early morning telephone call from the South Korean foreign minister. I was in Geneva leading negotiations with the North Koreans over their nuclear weapons program. The first question in the minds of those in Washington and Seoul was how the transition of power in North Korea from father to son would change things — whether the negotiations would continue, whether it would be business as usual or the beginning of a crisis. We preferred the former and, as it turned out, so did the North. The talks continued and an agreement was signed that stopped the North’s plutonium production until we abandoned the deal eight years later, because of the North’s cheating with uranium enrichments technology.

We may be as fortunate this time, even though this son is a lot younger and less experienced than his father was when he assumed authority. The traditional mourning period in Korea is a year, and even Kim Jong-il, who was by then a familiar figure in North Korean power circles, took almost that long before assuming all the leadership positions his own father had held. The lesson here is patience: we should resist drawing conclusions too soon about who is really in charge in North Korea.

Heading the “do not say” list for any American leader, or would-be leader, is that this is the time to promote or provoke regime change in North Korea. We used to hear a lot about regime change about a decade ago, with reference to the Axis of Evil, and now the phrase is being resurrected to capture the urge to get rid of North Korea’s horrendous totalitarian government.

There may never be a good time to openly advocate the overthrow of the government in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and certainly the moment when a new young leader may have to decide whether he needs to prove his leadership prowess is definitely not the right time. Insisting on regime change now, as Mitt Romney came very close to doing in a statement on Monday morning, creates no incentive for this government to even consider negotiations, or to contemplate backing off or ever giving up its nuclear weapons program. It is just plain dumb.

What does make sense is to continue to deplore the humanitarian catastrophe that is life in North Korea and to say that we would welcome the day when the government in that country moved toward democratic governance and a free economy.

Among the first things we should tell the North is that we remain prepared to enter discussions aimed at halting, rolling back and ultimately dismantling its nuclear weapons program. This may sound like old news, but it is not. The Obama administration has been sensitive to the domestic political needs of its ally, South Korea, which demand that before proceeding to talks, the United States should obtain some acknowledgement from the North of responsibility for the deaths caused by the sinking of a South Korean ship and the shelling of a South Korean island. The president’s advisers have also been sensitive to anticipated criticism from Republicans that initiating talks with the North would represent appeasement, would demonstrate naïveté, would amount to buying the same horse twice and would teach the North the wrong lesson.

In the past, the administration has been too sensitive to these domestic considerations. It should now seize an opportunity, if one opens, to resume talks about ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. To do so would not be appeasement, because little would be given without the North’s performance. It would not be naïve, since we well understand the North Korean mentality. And it would not be a re-purchase because the last time we talked, we did get much of what we paid for, and we should now be prepared to finish the deal.

Moreover, we should not be in the business of teaching other governments lessons. We should adopt the best policies to protect our national security. Right now, that means entering a serious discussion about the North’s nuclear weapons program, aimed at its dismantlement.

Finally, there is an opportunity for the administration to tell the North Koreans something hard and realistic that they desperately need to hear during a transition to new leadership: the United States will not tolerate the transfer to another government or terrorist group of any nuclear weapons material or technology or fissile material, and we will respond with devastating consequences for the North if we learn of such a transfer.

The North’s role in the secret construction in Syria of a plutonium production reactor in 2007 should have crossed a red line for the Bush administration. It apparently did not. Had it not been for Israel’s version of a nonproliferation policy — aerial bombardment of the site — the Middle East might already have been fundamentally changed by the North’s outrageous move. Our security is endangered by any such transfers, which make nuclear terrorism and the loss of whole cities entirely plausible. Our government needs to make sure the new government in North Korea never attempts such transfers again.

Sam Miguel
12-27-2011, 01:05 PM
From the NY Times, yet further proof that Republicans are all a--holes ___

Keeping Students From the Polls

Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent.

William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House, told a Tea Party group earlier this year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience. “Voting as a liberal,” he said, “that’s what kids do.” And that’s why, he said, he supported measures to prohibit students from voting from their college addresses and to end same-day registration. New Hampshire Republicans even tried to pass a bill that would have kept students who previously lived elsewhere from voting in the state; fortunately, the measure failed, as did the others Mr. O’Brien favored.

Many students have taken advantage of Election Day registration laws, which is one reason Maine Republicans passed a law eliminating the practice. Voters restored it last month, but Republican lawmakers there are already trying new ways to restrict voting. The secretary of state said he was investigating students who are registered to vote in the state but pay out-of-state tuition.

Wisconsin once made it easy for students to vote, making it one of the leading states in turnout of younger voters in 2004 and 2008. When Republicans swept into power there last year, they undid all of that, imposing requirements that invalidated the use of virtually all college ID cards in voter registration. Colleges are scrambling to change their cards to add signatures and expiration dates, but it’s not clear whether the state will let them.

Imposing these restrictions to win an election will embitter a generation of students in its first encounter with the machinery of democracy.

Sam Miguel
12-28-2011, 09:36 AM
From the NY Times, something I'm sure will not lead to a new Baltic winter ___

Architect of Putin’s System of Politics Is Reassigned


The Kremlin on Tuesday announced the reassignment of Vladislav Y. Surkov, the “gray cardinal” who has overseen Russia’s domestic political scene for more than a decade.

The reassignment, made in the midst of a new protest movement against Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s paramount leader, suggested that Mr. Putin is prepared to make changes in the tightly controlled system that emerged during his first and second presidential terms.

Mr. Surkov, the deputy head of the president’s administration, is considered the architect of the system under Mr. Putin and his protégé and successor as president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, which Mr. Surkov christened “sovereign democracy.” He will now oversee modernization and innovation as a deputy prime minister, but will take no role in domestic politics. Russia’s political system has come under unprecedented pressure this month from protesters who complain that elections offer them no alternative to Mr. Putin’s rigid model. Former finance minister Aleksei L. Kudrin, who this month presented himself as a potential leader for disgruntled liberals, said the move affecting Mr. Surkov suggests “political reforms are going to continue.”

“I consider him one of the designers of the system,” Mr. Kudrin said in an interview with Kommersant-FM. “Now, the system is being reconsidered. Other organizers are needed, with other views on the political system.”

Mr. Surkov, an advertising prodigy who was brought into government toward the end of the Yeltsin era, has argued for years that centralizing power in the Kremlin was a matter of survival after the 1990’s. He acknowledged last year that “centralization has reached the limits of its capacity,” but attempts to cultivate new parties were often discontinued if they showed signs of slipping out of Kremlin control.

Asked by a journalist on Tuesday why he was leaving, Mr. Surkov responded: “Stabilization devours its young.” He went on to say that he had requested a reassignment. Asked whether he would take a role in settling down the protests, Mr. Surkov said no.

“I am too odious for this brave new world,” he said, in a short interview with the Interfax news service. He then summed up his achievements at the reporter’s request.

“I was among the people who helped President Yeltsin realize a peaceful transfer of power,” he said. “I was among those who helped President Putin stabilize the political system. I was among those who helped President Medvedev liberalize it.”

“I hope I did not undermine my employers and my colleagues,” he said. “Democracy was preserved, renovated and by the acts of Dec. 22,” when Mr. Medvedev proposed a swathe of substantive political changes, “ it was translated to a working state. I hope it will successfully make it through the trials ahead. It was good work. There were, of course, enough mistakes, but let’s talk about that another time.”

In September, the billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov called a press conference where he called for Mr. Surkov’s ouster and described him as “a puppet master who long ago privatized the political system, who has long misinformed the Russian leadership about what is going on in the political system, puts pressure on the media, and tries to manipulate citizens’ opinions.”

Mr. Putin on Tuesday offered a softer assessment of the protest movement which began after Dec. 4 parliamentary elections tainted by ballot-stuffing and other violations. He seemed to have thought better of belittling the demonstrators, as he did earlier when he said their white ribbons resembled limp condoms, though he said they lacked leaders, organization or a clear agenda.

“There always are, always were and always will be forces which are not geared toward development, but instead Brownian motion,” he said, using a term from physics that describes the random movement of microscopic particles. “Such people exist, and they always will exist. Let them fly their flag, they have the right to exist, and in fact I consider that we should treat them with respect.”

He also suggested initiating a dialogue with dissatisfied voters on the Internet — an unusual step coming from Mr. Putin, who last year described the Internet as 50 percent “pornographic material.” Earlier this month, Mr. Putin said he does not use the Internet because he is too busy.

Sam Miguel
12-29-2011, 10:01 AM
From the Inquirer ___

Corona and other Arroyo Justices Resignation will restore SC Credibility

If Renato Corona had been more sensitive to issues involving honor and propriety, he would have immediately declined when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) offered to midnight appoint him as Chief Justice. He knew the law and he knew that his appointment was illegal if not immoral. Instead of refraining, he accepted the offer.

Likewise, the Arroyo appointed Justices should not have engaged in the dark conspiracy to legalize Corona’s appointment. Ignoring public feelings about propriety and legality, they arrogantly and blatantly utilized their majority numbers to rule repeatedly in favor of the Arroyos and other special interests—as if saying: “We have the numbers. We own the Supreme Court. What we say is the law!”

Justices should be highly conscious that they owe their loyalty primarily to the people and not the President who appointed them. If the people had not voted a candidate to become president, he or she would not have had the power to appoint Justices.

Here, it is even arguable whether or not former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) actually possessed the legitimate power to appoint Justices. Arguably, she should not even have been President. She is alleged to have resorted to election shenanigans (“Hello Garci”) and utilizing the Ampatuans and other allied warlords to engage in massive cheating on her behalf.

Having a primary sacred duty to protect the public good, Justices must use the law to serve the interest of truth and justice.

Instead, it appears that the Arroyo Justices did a “one for all and all for one” agreement conspiring to protect the interests of their patroness GMA above that of the people.

To the public, Corona appears to have shook hands with the devil. He is perceived to be GMA’s main man in the Supreme Court — that in exchange for his appointment as Chief Justice, he is expected to constantly provide the leadership for the cabal of Arroyo appointed Justices in always protecting the interests of the Arroyos. He has not disappointed.

Any person with a modicum of intelligence, who has been following the decisions of the Supreme Court on any Arroyo related matter, would not be unreasonable in concluding that the Arroyos own the Chief Justice and the other Arroyo appointed Justices.

To restore faith in the Supreme Court, is it right and proper for President Benigno Simeon Aquino and legislators to use their powers and influence to bring down erring Justices who abuse their judicial powers?

Here’s my take on this:

Most Filipinos sense that the Arroyo Justices who control decisions in the Supreme Court abuse their powers by continually, blatantly and shamelessly shoving unpalatable clearly biased pro Arroyo decisions down the people’s throats. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely — observed British historian and moralist Lord Acton.

How true.

GMA and her appointees have obviously politicized the Supreme Court. In this uncontrolled culture of judicial power tripping, in this unspoken but understood secret conspiracy — principles of truth, justice and fairness are no longer seen as primary issues but simply incidentals that can simply be given lip service but cleverly ignored.

Tyranny or abuse of power inflicted on the people by a pack of dishonest Justices is no less a tyranny than that exercised by a brutal greedy dictator. Well meaning citizens must fight against all forms of tyranny. Our well being and the well being of future generations depend so much on our commitment and courage to be true to the deepest truths within us and our willingness to resist evil.

The Supreme Court is an indispensable vital institution in a democratic society. The people need to have faith in the courts. It is belief in the honesty of the courts that prevents people from taking disputable matters into their own hands and resorting to self help frontier justice.

Unfortunately, we now have a Supreme Court which the people justifiably do not trust. If the highest court in the land cannot be trusted, trust for the lower courts will deteriorate even more.

The Arroyo Justices have not only abused the people with their consistently biased and unfair decisions but have also abused the Supreme Court as an institution. It is because of them that the people have lost faith in the Supreme Court as a true and fair arbiter of justice.

Corona and the other Arroyo Justices have done enough harm to the Supreme Court and the nation with their tyranny. They can still redeem themselves by resigning.

Corona has vowed to fight and defend himself against impeachment charges. Mistakenly, he thinks he can win this fight. What he and his few supporters fail to see is that even if assuming he is not formally impeached, he can never regain his credibility to be able to effectively function as Supreme Court Chief Justice. He cut his own throat the moment he agreed to be midnight appointed as Chief Justice. He dug an even deeper hole for himself when he repeatedly led the majority Arroyo Justices in making blatant pro Arroyo Supreme Court decisions.

In reality, the impeachment trial of Corona in the Senate is not a true trial where the outcome is based on objective evidence. Instead, it will be based along party lines. Expect also some individual Senators who acquired many concessions from GMA to act as forceful advocates for her and not as objective listening judges. We have already seen some of these goings on in the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada.

There the people sensed that the majority of pro Estrada Senators were not sitting as objective Judges but were set to acquit him. As such, the people took to the streets and forced Estrada out of power. It was right and proper for the people to do so. They have a right to defend themselves against tyranny. In those historical moments, the people correctly defended themselves against the perceived corruption of the President and against the tyranny of a conspiring majority of Senators who were blind to the people’s call for justice.

Will the people again need to take to the streets for Corona’s impeachment?

In defending himself from impeachment charges, Corona gathered together some employees of the Supreme Court and essentially delivered a political speech. He attributed the impeachment case filed against him by a 2/3 majority of the House of Representatives as stemming from Aquino’s desire to be a dictator. He blames Aquino for his troubles as if this was something personal with Aquino and him. He suggests that as Chief Justice, he is in the forefront in defending the Supreme Court.

Corona: “I oppose this dictatorship that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III is slowly establishing.”

Corona’s big problem is credibility. The ordinary thinking Filipino does not believe him. Most Filipinos believe that Aquino sincerely means well and is not a dishonest power hungry nor greedy egomaniac who wishes to have dictatorial powers. For sure, the humble low key Aquino does not fit that role.

Moreover, most Filipinos feel that he is perfectly justified in seeking the ouster of Arroyo appointed Justices. They even support him in fully utilizing his extensive presidential powers to impeach or cause the resignation of Corona and the Arroyo appointed Justices.

Filipinos also understand that Aquino’s intention is not to usurp the Supreme Court as an institution but seeks the ouster of these Arroyo appointed Justices because it is the correct moral thing to do and necessary. They need to be ousted for the Supreme Court’s credibility to be restored.

This is not a personal battle between Aquino and Corona. As such, the offer of a Catholic bishop to mediate and have them shake hands will not amount to much. The issue is not about a frayed personal relationship between the two men. Neither is it a battle between the Executive Branch versus the Judicial Branch.

As such, there is no Constitutional crisis here as Corona, other Arroyo supporters and mercenary journalists would have the public believe. The situation is this: The Filipino people simply want an honest and just Supreme Court that they can believe in. In order to have that kind of Supreme Court, they recognize that the Arroyo appointed Justices need to be impeached or be pressured to resign. They recognize and appreciate Aquino’s strong moral leadership in leading this sacred fight and fully support him.

It is noteworthy that Aquino who comes from a wealthy and powerful family could easily have avoided conflict by betraying the people and entering into a secret modus vivendi agreement with the wealthy and powerful Arroyos and the Arroyo Justices. So many of our leaders have betrayed us by siding with the wealthy and powerful for mutual tit for tat arrangements and personal gain.

It speaks well for Aquino that he has followed his father’s lead. Ninoy could easily have avoided imprisonment and acquired a high position in Marcos’ government. All he had to do was cooperate with Marcos’ evil and provide legitimacy to his lies. But Ninoy knew that at stake was the Filipino’s freedom and honor. By being true to his God and his conscience, he paid the ultimate price. He could not be bought nor intimidated. So he was killed.

His sacrifice brought down a brutal and greedy dictatorship which would most likely be existing today had Ninoy not been true to his deepest self.

Good versus evil. Truth versus lie. Right versus wrong.

Life is constantly about the decisions we make and which side we are on.

12-30-2011, 07:36 AM
At the background of this Corona impeachment is the 2013 elections.

In the Estrada impeachment, how many of those who voted for the non-opening of the envelop ran for re-election? How many among them were repudiated by the voting public?

I have reasons to believe that repudiation will be played up sometime during this impeachment.

Those who wants Corona out of the SC, will play mind games with the Senator-Judges. These Senator-Judges are politicians first, whatever affiliations they have would come second at best. So if properly played up, the repudiation of those who favored Estrada during that impeachment will come to play and the Senator-Judges will have another thing to consider when they render their individual judgement.

Then as it is now, public opinion does not favor the person being impeached. The Senator-Judges will not admit it, but that itself already has a bearing on how the proceedings will be perceived by the public.

Sinabi na dati, ang impeachment ay hindi legal trial. Ito ay isang politikal proceeding.

Kaya marapat na tandaan, though Corona is the one being impeach, it is the Senator-Judges who will be judged by the public as a consequence. That is consistent with impeachment being a political exercise.

Sam Miguel
12-30-2011, 09:34 AM
From the Chicago Tribune ___

The News of Empire

"Mr. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014."

I pluck a paragraph from The New York Times and for an instant I'm possessed by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, aquiver with puzzlement down to my deepest sensibilities. I hold you here, root and all, little paragraph. But if I could understand what you are, root and all, and all in all, I should know what empire is, and hubris . . . and maybe even, by its striking absence, democracy.

The paragraph contains the careful verbiage of exclusion, which is the only language in which the geopolitical powers that be are able to communicate.

The paragraph, one of many that could have been plucked for study and put under the microscope of outrage, is from a story just before Halloween, by Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, informing us that, while the United States will be pulling troops out of Iraq at the end of the year, the regional war is anything but over: The U.S. military will be massing troops in Kuwait, sending more warships to the region and tightening its military alliance with the six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain), in order to develop "a new security architecture" in the Gulf and establish its "post-Iraq footprint."

Or in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region." And this, she explains, "is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region," which we care about because it "holds such promise" -- oh God, the compassion is killing me -- "and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy."

What's striking, first of all, is that the "news" is presented to us, under the guise of objective reporting, as a fait accompli: Our supreme leaders have the following plans, the cursory details of which they are nice enough to let us in on.

There is no countertide present in reporting that emanates from the national defense beat -- no acknowledgement of a rising national disgust at war or our enormous military failures of the past decade, which the plans the Times story outlines merely continue. There's no acknowledgment even of obvious contradictions or hypocrisies, such as the fact that our presence in the Gulf arguably constitutes the very "outside interference" from which, according to Clinton, the region should be freed.

And certainly there isn't the least irreverence: no suggestion, for instance, that we have an interest in this oil-rich region beyond a deep love for the people and their democratic aspirations; or that our partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council are autocrats who brutally repress dissent and, ahem, democracy.

The story reads, instead, like interlocking blocks of propaganda dropped into place, not so much disseminating information as protecting the security state planners from questions and challenges. This is the news of empire.

Note that when the story does acknowledge critics, those critics are Republicans, that is to say, empire fanatics as opposed to empire moderates, thus implying that the only reasonable question our post-Iraq footprint raises is whether we should be "post-Iraq" at all. ". . . American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake."

This much should be clear: War is a given. Got it?

And war could follow more than one trajectory. If there's a "security collapse" in Iraq, our troops in Kuwait could quickly redeploy to the country we've already destroyed. But those same troops could also respond to "a military confrontation with Iran."

Perhaps the most telling quote in the Times story was from Bahrain's foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa. With the United States out of Iraq, a regional alliance is necessary because, he said, "Now the game is different."

Yeah, well . . .

The only thing wrong with this comment is that this isn't a game: not our eight and a half years in Iraq, our decade in Afghanistan or our possible invasion of Iran. Innocent people have died and will continue to die in horrific numbers, toxins will spread, lives will be destroyed. The consequences cannot be contained. They are bleeding now and will continue to bleed into the future. But the Times story affects no awareness of this; it has the depth of a gamer review.

Is there a democracy at either end of the missiles, warships or troop deployments? Suddenly I'm back on the sidewalk with the Occupy movement, which has arisen at last in this era of passive citizenship to confront the embedded helplessness and hopelessness that come with the corporatocracy and its subservient media.

Citizens are standing up to the assumptions of empire. Their numbers are small -- for the moment -- but their spirit could prove to be irresistible.

Sam Miguel
01-02-2012, 02:05 PM
From the NY Times ___

Nobody Understands Debt


In 2011, as in 2010, America was in a technical recovery but continued to suffer from disastrously high unemployment. And through most of 2011, as in 2010, almost all the conversation in Washington was about something else: the allegedly urgent issue of reducing the budget deficit.

This misplaced focus said a lot about our political culture, in particular about how disconnected Congress is from the suffering of ordinary Americans. But it also revealed something else: when people in D.C. talk about deficits and debt, by and large they have no idea what they’re talking about — and the people who talk the most understand the least.

Perhaps most obviously, the economic “experts” on whom much of Congress relies have been repeatedly, utterly wrong about the short-run effects of budget deficits. People who get their economic analysis from the likes of the Heritage Foundation have been waiting ever since President Obama took office for budget deficits to send interest rates soaring. Any day now!

And while they’ve been waiting, those rates have dropped to historical lows. You might think that this would make politicians question their choice of experts — that is, you might think that if you didn’t know anything about our postmodern, fact-free politics.

But Washington isn’t just confused about the short run; it’s also confused about the long run. For while debt can be a problem, the way our politicians and pundits think about debt is all wrong, and exaggerates the problem’s size.

Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments.

This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base. The debt from World War II was never repaid; it just became increasingly irrelevant as the U.S. economy grew, and with it the income subject to taxation.

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.

This was clearly true of the debt incurred to win World War II. Taxpayers were on the hook for a debt that was significantly bigger, as a percentage of G.D.P., than debt today; but that debt was also owned by taxpayers, such as all the people who bought savings bonds. So the debt didn’t make postwar America poorer. In particular, the debt didn’t prevent the postwar generation from experiencing the biggest rise in incomes and living standards in our nation’s history.

But isn’t this time different? Not as much as you think.

It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.

Now, the fact that federal debt isn’t at all like a mortgage on America’s future doesn’t mean that the debt is harmless. Taxes must be levied to pay the interest, and you don’t have to be a right-wing ideologue to concede that taxes impose some cost on the economy, if nothing else by causing a diversion of resources away from productive activities into tax avoidance and evasion. But these costs are a lot less dramatic than the analogy with an overindebted family might suggest.

And that’s why nations with stable, responsible governments — that is, governments that are willing to impose modestly higher taxes when the situation warrants it — have historically been able to live with much higher levels of debt than today’s conventional wisdom would lead you to believe. Britain, in particular, has had debt exceeding 100 percent of G.D.P. for 81 of the last 170 years. When Keynes was writing about the need to spend your way out of a depression, Britain was deeper in debt than any advanced nation today, with the exception of Japan.

Of course, America, with its rabidly antitax conservative movement, may not have a government that is responsible in this sense. But in that case the fault lies not in our debt, but in ourselves.

So yes, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2012, 08:01 AM
From the Inquirer ___

UST’s Corona Defense turns into Absurd Attack on Journalism

By Benjamin Pimentel

SAN FRANCISCO—At the end of the day, how Chief Justice Renato Corona got his doctorate degree is a minor issue compared to the serious accusations he faces.

And as a private academic institution in the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas could certainly make — and change — its rules on who should get to attach the letters “PhD” to their names.

But in a perplexing twist, UST’s defense of Corona’s degree turned into an absurd attack on journalism. More specifically, online journalism.

That’s the fast growing segment of media which has, over the past 2O years, revolutionized the way news is reported and shared. Every major news organization in the world uses it. And the Web has spawned new, dynamic news organizations on the Web, including some in the Philippines.

But UST doesn’t get it.

Which is surprising – and unfortunate.

After all, UST is known for producing some of the country’s best writers and journalists, including my late professor and mentor Roger Sikat and my friend Glenda Gloria, one of the editors of Newsbreak and the new online news site Rappler.

Glenda Gloria is also a colleague of Marites Vitug (also a friend), one of the country’s best investigative journalists who has done an incredible job reporting on the Philippine Supreme Court. The Gloria-Vitug duo also produced the most authoritative account of the Mindanao conflict with their book “Under the Crescent Moon.”

But to UST, these are all irrelevant.

The university with supposedly one of the best communications programs in the Philippines argued that it did not respond to Vitug’s request for information on Corona’s UST career because it didn’t know how to respond to “online journalism.”

“Does anyone claiming to be an online journalist given the same attention as one coming from the mainstream press?” UST said in a statement, as quoted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “We understand that while Miss Vitug used to be a print journalist, she’s part of an online magazine, Newsbreak, which has reportedly been subsumed into ‘www.rappler.com.’ What’s that?

“Is that a legitimate news organization? What individuals and entities fund Newsbreak and Rappler? Do these outfits have editors? Who challenged Miss Vitug’s article before it went online so as to establish its accuracy, objectivity and fairness? Why was there no prior disclosure made? What gate-keeping measures does online journalism practice?”


UST could have simply responded with a clear-cut denial or defense: “Ms. Vitug was wrong — here’s the dissertation” or “Based on our evaluation of all his accomplishments, Mr. Corona deserved a PhD.”

Instead, the people running the university exposed themselves to be profoundly clueless on how media has changed.

As veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona said in a Facebook post, “For the management of a university with a top-ranked college of communications to say, it’s at a loss re how to respond to online journalism is truly mind-boggling.”

It’s not as if UST is unaware of the World Wide Web. It has a Web site, and even a Facebook account.

But perhaps it’s still a strange world for the old guard on campus.

I found myself imagining UST’s guardians reading Vitug’s piece on printed copies of the Inquirer, gripping with indignation the newsprint that left ink stains on their fingers. Meanwhile, across the campus or at Internet cafes on España, their students are reading the same story on PCs or smart phones.

But there’s a bright side to this. UST just gave us an opportunity to talk about this brave new world of media. It’s still evolving after all.

Rappler is just another example of the change. It’s new and exciting, and led by experienced journalists, including chief executive Maria Ressa.

They’re just getting started. They have their work cut out for them. Success is not guaranteed.

I myself am not too crazy about the name which sounds like a hip-hop chat room. (“Rappler” is from the words “rap,” to discuss, and “ripple,” to make waves, the group’s Web site says.)

But that’s a minor quibble.

As Ressa writes, “We feel unbelievably lucky to be at this time and place — to feel the ground shifting beneath our feet and see the world change in ways we can barely imagine.”

Maybe some of that shifting and shaking will eventually be felt even in the most cloistered offices on one famous campus on España.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2012, 03:40 PM
From the NY Times, and my how the GOP keeps getting Goppier and Goppier ___

Santorum and Romney Fight to a Draw

The Iowa caucuses, in which a nation awaits the verdict of a handful of some of its least representative citizens, are not going to settle the race for the Republican nomination for president. But they did put on display the choice the Republicans present to voters: right, far right or the far, far right.

The caucuses Tuesday night were headed to an astonishing draw between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, followed by Ron Paul. More than anything, the tight finish suggested that Mr. Romney has had a hard time selling his recently minted conservatism to hard-core Republican conservatives; two-thirds of caucusgoers identified themselves as Tea Party supporters.

The Republican caucuses only do a middling job of predicting who will win the presidency in November. But, this year, perhaps more than others, they were an important event to watch for any American voter.

The errors, absurd misstatements and unrelenting extremism were not the result of some “gotcha” moment in which a candidate was cornered in an interview or debate by a tricky (or maybe not so tricky) question. The Republicans have had months, millions of dollars and the advantage of there being no competing Democratic contest, to present the images of their own choosing — and they are dark and disturbing.

The candidates were all nasty to each other; Newt Gingrich called Mr. Romney a “liar” on Tuesday. But when it came to President Obama, they were off the charts with baseless charges that would be laughable if they were not so insulting to the president and to the intelligence of voters.

Iowa’s economy is not as bad as that in many parts of the country, so the candidates mainly tried to outbid each other in pandering to its socially conservative Republicans. Mr. Gingrich served up a right-wing theology that would dismantle every social advance since the institution of child labor laws and eviscerate the judiciary that has protected civil rights for a half-century.

Mr. Santorum talked endlessly about his opposition to a woman’s right to choose an abortion and gay Americans’ right to marry, while insisting that he would protect Americans’ right to carry guns anywhere at anytime.

Even then, he had a hard time keeping up with Representative Michele Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party caucus, who said she was the only Republican who would defend “faith, marriage and the protection of life from conception to natural death.”

Representative Paul delighted young crowds with his libertarian slogans — no war, no Federal Reserve, basically no government — but seemed to have no real ideas other than to follow the literal words of the Constitution. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas based virtually his entire appeal on his religious faith — a desperation play that failed and led him to retreat to Texas to decide whether to continue his obviously pointless candidacy.

In the middle of all this, of course, was Mr. Romney, no real conservative trying to be all forms of conservative — forswearing his belief in abortion rights and global warming while insisting the health care reform he championed in Massachusetts isn’t right for the rest of the country. He rivaled Mr. Gingrich in his false attacks on Mr. Obama, including claiming that the president travels the world apologizing for America.

As the Republican competition moves to New Hampshire next week, it is likely to focus less on social issues and more on economic issues. But that means even more of the slash-and-burn economics and class warfare that were also on display here.

Primaries bring out the extremism in candidates, but this year seems much worse because the “center” of the Republican Party has lurched so far to the right. The only good news in this primary season is that the more Americans listen to the Republican hopefuls, the more the voters will realize how out of touch these candidates are with the majority of Americans.

Sam Miguel
01-06-2012, 03:33 PM
From the NY Times, apropos of current times in our country ___

What We Think About When We Think About the Court


Wherever I go these days, someone is bound to ask me how I think the Supreme Court will rule in the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, set for argument over three days during the last week in March. My response, that I expect the court to uphold the law, predictably evokes an expression of disbelief verging on pity for my display of such naïveté. “Won’t the justices just vote their politics?” my questioner invariably asks.

Well, actually, I don’t think so — even assuming that I knew the conservative justices’ personal views on the individual mandate. (The idea of requiring individuals to carry health insurance was, as an article last week in The American Spectator reminds us, originally cooked up in a conservative think tank. It became anathema to the Right only after the Obama administration embraced it.)

It’s not that I think that ideology is absent from the court or that it has nothing to do with how justices decide cases. But at least for most justices, most of the time, the relationship between ideology and outcome is oblique rather than straightforward. Ideology — or to use a less freighted expression, world view — is there, but it is not the only thing there. As two political scientists, James L. Gibson and Gregory A. Caldeira, put it in a recent article, “judging at the level of the Supreme Court involves a complicated blend of legal, policy, and ideological considerations.”

Professor Gibson, a leading scholar of judicial behavior, expressed the idea this way in an earlier article: “Judges’ decisions are a function of what they prefer to do, tempered by what they think they ought to do, but constrained by what they perceive is feasible to do.” By “feasible,” Professor Gibson means something deeper than “what they can get away with.” He means that judges operate within the public and private norms of the judicial role and of their own institution, constrained by the need to safeguard institutional legitimacy and by “the sociopolitical environment within which the institution is located.”

To the list of constraints, I would add the text of the constitutional provision or the statute at issue, along with the relevant precedents that guide the analysis. For example, in November, when Judge Laurence Silberman, one of the country’s most prominent conservative judges, rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act in a majority opinion for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he concluded (with regret, for all I know) that the challenge had to fail because the plaintiffs “cannot find real support for their proposed rule in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.”

My purpose in this column is not to analyze the health-care arguments or elaborate on my prediction for the outcome. Rather, it’s to reflect on the puzzle of how people view the Supreme Court and what they expect from it. The combination of a superfecta of blockbuster cases this term — in addition to the health-care case, there is the Arizona immigration case, a major redistricting case from Texas and, sitting in the court’s in-basket, a new challenge to affirmative action in university admissions — and the Republican presidential candidates’ ritualized attacks on the judiciary has raised the Supreme Court’s salience to a level not seen since the two weeks in December 11 years ago when Bush v. Gore held the country in thrall.

And Bush v. Gore is, in fact, part of the puzzle. The dire prediction offered by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissenting opinion that the real loser in the case would prove to be “the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law” did not come true. The decision did no measurable long-term damage to the court’s public standing, a fact that, while it surprises those who were infuriated by the court’s intervention in the election, did not surprise the social scientists who track public attitudes toward various government and private institutions.

Although the court’s public approval rating has dropped recently to 46 percent, as measured by the Gallup Poll (down from 61 percent just two years ago), that remains a high number at a time of mounting public disenchantment with government in general. Congress ended the year with an 11 percent approval rating, its lowest in Gallup history.

So why is the Supreme Court largely immune, even “bulletproof,” as one political scientist, Dion Farganis, has expressed it? Intuitively, one answer might be what scholars call the “myth of legality” — the notion that deciding cases is just a matter of “applying the law to the facts at hand,” as Sonia Sotomayor repeatedly claimed during her 2009 confirmation hearing. Politicians must assume that this description of judging as a mechanical and value-free exercise must be deeply reassuring to the public, because nominees are coached to embrace it and senators publicly insist on it. In Justice Sotomayor’s case, Republican senators invoked the mechanical standard as a bulwark against the “empathy” that President Obama had said he wanted in his judicial nominees.

But the persistence of the myth of legality can’t be the explanation for the Supreme Court’s enduring public support, for the reason that most people apparently recognize it for what it is, a myth. In a survey that Professors Gibson and Caldeira conducted for their recent article, 65 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that “Supreme Court judges have a great deal of leeway in their decisions, even when they claim to be ‘interpreting’ the Constitution.” Most people also agreed with this statement: “Judges always say that their decisions are based on law and the Constitution, but in many cases, judges are really basing their decisions on their own personal beliefs.” Thus, the authors conclude: “It appears that most Americans reject the mechanical jurisprudence model. Most believe that judges have discretion and that judges make discretionary decisions on the basis of ideology and values.”

Whether that public understanding is best described as cynical or refreshingly realistic, it seems inconsistent with the broad support the Supreme Court enjoys. If the justices are just “politicians in robes,” why should the court be regarded as different from, say, the House Republican caucus?

It turns out that most Americans reject the “politicians in robes” image. Yes, people recognize that judges exercise discretion. But they see it as what Professors Gibson and Caldeira call “principled discretion,” as opposed to the “self-interested decision-making” the public ascribes to politicians. The authors conclude: “It appears that this conception of principled but discretionary judicial policymaking renders realistic views compatible with judicial legitimacy.”

In other words, the public is capable of holding two views at the same time: one, that judges don’t simply paint by numbers, but do bring their own values and views to bear and two, it is not simply the fact of discretion, but the way judges exercise it, that sustains the legitimacy of the judicial enterprise. Politicians who condescend to the public with their formulaic invocation of the myth of legality do us all, including the courts they claim to protect, a disservice.

And what about the people I encounter who assume the justices will simply vote their politics in the health care case? Well, institutional support for the court is broad but certainly not universal. It is diffuse but not necessarily specific. If most people have accepted Justice Antonin Scalia’s advice to “get over” Bush v. Gore, a sizeable number remain unreconciled to last year’s corporate speech decision, Citizens United. The way people think about the court is complicated and filled with contradictions; that’s what makes this subject so rich.

To get back to the justices: recognizing that ordinary people are capable of complex thinking, why not give the justices credit for the same ability? Naturally they care about outcomes. How could they not? But they have to care about a lot else as well. In every decision they confront, they have to find a way to reconcile the present with the past, understanding that what they do today shapes the future. In other words, they are capable of holding many thoughts simultaneously.

At least, looking ahead to what could be a momentous 2012, I hope so.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2012, 03:32 PM
From the NY Times ___

The Myth of Japan’s Failure


DESPITE some small signs of optimism about the United States economy, unemployment is still high, and the country seems stalled.

Time and again, Americans are told to look to Japan as a warning of what the country might become if the right path is not followed, although there is intense disagreement about what that path might be. Here, for instance, is how the CNN analyst David Gergen has described Japan: “It’s now a very demoralized country and it has really been set back.”

But that presentation of Japan is a myth. By many measures, the Japanese economy has done very well during the so-called lost decades, which started with a stock market crash in January 1990. By some of the most important measures, it has done a lot better than the United States.

Japan has succeeded in delivering an increasingly affluent lifestyle to its people despite the financial crash. In the fullness of time, it is likely that this era will be viewed as an outstanding success story.

How can the reality and the image be so different? And can the United States learn from Japan’s experience?

It is true that Japanese housing prices have never returned to the ludicrous highs they briefly touched in the wild final stage of the boom. Neither has the Tokyo stock market.

But the strength of Japan’s economy and its people is evident in many ways. There are a number of facts and figures that don’t quite square with Japan’s image as the laughingstock of the business pages:

• Japan’s average life expectancy at birth grew by 4.2 years — to 83 years from 78.8 years — between 1989 and 2009. This means the Japanese now typically live 4.8 years longer than Americans. The progress, moreover, was achieved in spite of, rather than because of, diet. The Japanese people are eating more Western food than ever. The key driver has been better health care.

• Japan has made remarkable strides in Internet infrastructure. Although as late as the mid-1990s it was ridiculed as lagging, it has now turned the tables. In a recent survey by Akamai Technologies, of the 50 cities in the world with the fastest Internet service, 38 were in Japan, compared to only 3 in the United States.

• Measured from the end of 1989, the yen has risen 87 percent against the U.S. dollar and 94 percent against the British pound. It has even risen against that traditional icon of monetary rectitude, the Swiss franc.

• The unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, about half of that in the United States.

• According to skyscraperpage.com, a Web site that tracks major buildings around the world, 81 high-rise buildings taller than 500 feet have been constructed in Tokyo since the “lost decades” began. That compares with 64 in New York, 48 in Chicago, and 7 in Los Angeles.

• Japan’s current account surplus — the widest measure of its trade — totaled $196 billion in 2010, up more than threefold since 1989. By comparison, America’s current account deficit ballooned to $471 billion from $99 billion in that time. Although in the 1990s the conventional wisdom was that as a result of China’s rise Japan would be a major loser and the United States a major winner, it has not turned out that way. Japan has increased its exports to China more than 14-fold since 1989 and Chinese-Japanese bilateral trade remains in broad balance.

As longtime Japan watchers like Ivan P. Hall and Clyde V. Prestowitz Jr. point out, the fallacy of the “lost decades” story is apparent to American visitors the moment they set foot in the country. Typically starting their journeys at such potent symbols of American infrastructural decay as Kennedy or Dulles airports, they land at Japanese airports that have been extensively expanded and modernized in recent years.

William J. Holstein, a prominent Japan watcher since the early 1980s, recently visited the country for the first time in some years. “There’s a dramatic gap between what one reads in the United States and what one sees on the ground in Japan,” he said. “The Japanese are dressed better than Americans. They have the latest cars, including Porsches, Audis, Mercedes-Benzes and all the finest models. I have never seen so many spoiled pets. And the physical infrastructure of the country keeps improving and evolving.”

Why, then, is Japan seen as a loser? On the official gross domestic product numbers, the United States has ostensibly outperformed Japan for many years. But even taking America’s official numbers at face value, the difference has been far narrower than people realize. Adjusted to a per-capita basis (which is the proper way to do this) and measured since 1989, America’s G.D.P. grew by an average of just 1.4 percent a year. Japan’s figure meanwhile was even more anemic — just 1 percent — implying that it underperformed the United States by 0.4 percent a year.

A look at the underlying accounting, however, suggests that, far from underperforming, Japan may have outperformed. For a start, in a little noticed change, United States statisticians in the 1980s embarked on an increasingly aggressive use of the so-called hedonic method of adjusting for inflation, an approach that in the view of many experts artificially boosts a nation’s apparent growth rate.

On the calculations of John Williams of Shadowstats.com, a Web site that tracks flaws in United States economic data, America’s growth in recent decades has been overstated by as much as 2 percentage points a year. If he is even close to the truth, this factor alone may put the United States behind Japan in per-capita performance.

If the Japanese have really been hurting, the most obvious place this would show would be in slow adoption of expensive new high-tech items. Yet the Japanese are consistently among the world’s earliest adopters. If anything, it is Americans who have been lagging. In cellphones, for instance, Japan leapfrogged the United States in the space of a few years in the late 1990s and it has stayed ahead ever since, with consumers moving exceptionally rapidly to ever more advanced devices.

Much of the story is qualitative rather than quantitative. An example is Japan’s eating-out culture. Tokyo, according to the Michelin Guide, boasts 16 of the world’s top-ranked restaurants, versus a mere 10 for the runner-up, Paris. Similarly Japan as a whole beats France in the Michelin ratings. But how do you express this in G.D.P. terms?

Similar problems arise in measuring improvements in the Japanese health care system. And how does one accurately convey the vast improvement in the general environment in Japan in the last two decades?

Luckily there is a yardstick that finesses many of these problems: electricity output, which is mainly a measure of consumer affluence and industrial activity. In the 1990s, while Japan was being widely portrayed as an outright “basket case,” its rate of increase in per-capita electricity output was twice that of America, and it continued to outperform into the new century.

Part of what is going on here is Western psychology. Anyone who has followed the story long-term cannot help but notice that many Westerners actively seek to belittle Japan. Thus every policy success is automatically discounted. It is a mind-set that is much in evidence even among Tokyo-based Western diplomats and scholars.

Take, for instance, how Western observers have viewed Japan’s demographics. The population is getting older because of a low birthrate, a characteristic Japan shares with many of the world’s richest nations. Yet this is presented not only as a critical problem but as a policy failure. It never seems to occur to Western commentators that the Japanese both individually and collectively have chosen their demographic fate — and have good reasons for doing so.

The story begins in the terrible winter of 1945-6, when, newly bereft of their empire, the Japanese nearly starved to death. With overseas expansion no longer an option, Japanese leaders determined as a top priority to cut the birthrate. Thereafter a culture of small families set in that has continued to the present day.

Japan’s motivation is clear: food security. With only about one-third as much arable land per capita as China, Japan has long been the world’s largest net food importer. While the birth control policy is the primary cause of Japan’s aging demographics, the phenomenon also reflects improved health care and an increase of more than 20 years in life expectancy since 1950.

Psychology aside, a major factor in the West’s comprehension problem is that virtually everyone in Tokyo benefits from the doom and gloom story. For foreign sales representatives, for instance, it has been the perfect get-out-of-jail card when they don’t reach their quotas. For Japanese foundations it is the perfect excuse in politely waving away solicitations from American universities and other needy nonprofits. Ditto for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in tempering expectations of foreign aid recipients. Even American investment bankers have reasons to emphasize bad news. Most notably they profit from the so-called yen-carry trade, an arcane but powerful investment strategy in which the well informed benefit from periodic bouts of weakness in the Japanese yen.

Economic ideology has also played an unfortunate role. Many economists, particularly right-wing think-tank types, are such staunch advocates of laissez-faire that they reflexively scorn Japan’s very different economic system, with its socialist medicine and ubiquitous government regulation. During the stock market bubble of the late 1980s, this mind-set abated but it came back after the crash.

Japanese trade negotiators noticed an almost magical sweetening in the mood in foreign capitals after the stock market crashed in 1990. Although previously there had been much envy of Japan abroad (and serious talk of protectionist measures), in the new circumstances American and European trade negotiators switched to feeling sorry for the “fallen giant.” Nothing if not fast learners, Japanese trade negotiators have been appealing for sympathy ever since.

The strategy seems to have been particularly effective in Washington. Believing that you shouldn’t kick a man when he is down, chivalrous American officials have largely given up pressing for the opening of Japan’s markets. Yet the great United States trade complaints of the late 1980s — concerning rice, financial services, cars and car components — were never remedied.

The “fallen giant” story has also even been useful to other East Asian nations, particularly in their trade diplomacy with the United States.

A striking instance of how the story has influenced American perceptions appears in “The Next 100 Years,” by the consultant George Friedman. In a chapter headed “China 2020: Paper Tiger,” Mr. Friedman argues that, just as Japan “failed” in the 1990s, China will soon have its comeuppance. Talk of this sort powerfully fosters complacency and confusion in Washington in the face of a United States-China trade relationship that is already arguably the most destructive in world history and certainly the most unbalanced.

Clearly the question of what has really happened to Japan is of first-order geopolitical importance. In a stunning refutation of American conventional wisdom, Japan has not missed a beat in building an ever more sophisticated industrial base. That this is not more obvious is a tribute in part to the fact that Japanese manufacturers have graduated to making so-called producers’ goods. These typically consist of advanced components or materials, or precision production equipment. They may be invisible to the consumer, yet without them the modern world literally would not exist. This sort of manufacturing, which is both highly capital-intensive and highly know-how-intensive, was virtually monopolized by the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and constituted the essence of American economic leadership.

Japan’s achievement is all the more impressive for the fact that its major competitors — Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and, of course, China — have hardly been standing still. The world has gone through a rapid industrial revolution in the last two decades thanks to the “targeting” of manufacturing by many East Asian nations. Yet Japan’s trade surpluses have risen.

Japan should be held up as a model, not an admonition. If a nation can summon the will to pull together, it can turn even the most unpromising circumstances to advantage. Here Japan’s constant upgrading of its infrastructure is surely an inspiration. It is a strategy that often requires cooperation across a wide political front, but such cooperation has not been beyond the American political system in the past. The Hoover Dam, that iconic project of the Depression, required negotiations among seven states but somehow it was built — and it provided jobs for 16,000 people in the process. Nothing is stopping similar progress now — nothing, except political bickering.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2012, 03:42 PM
From the NY Times ___

Just the Ticket


THE beginning of a new year is a time for resolutions, and Hillary Clinton’s admirers are already busily, lovingly resolving on her behalf. On one sideline, her friends tell me that after a few years of hyperactive globetrotting what she really needs is to put her feet up and dictate another volume of her memoirs while nagging Chelsea to deliver grandchildren. (“She’s tired; she needs some time off,” her husband told ABC.) At the other extreme, a couple of Democratic consultants, Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen, propose to draft her right now as the 2012 Democratic presidential candidate, whether she likes it or not. (“Not only is Mrs. Clinton better positioned to win in 2012 than Mr. Obama, but she is better positioned to govern if she does,” they wrote in The Wall Street Journal.) Other helpful devotees have noticed that Brown University is looking for a new president, or have imagined her creating a clone of the Clinton Global Initiative focused on empowering women. Or maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg will decide to put her feet up, opening a seat on the Supreme Court.

The right choice is none of the above.

Hillary Clinton is 64 years old, with a Calvinist work ethic, the stamina of an Olympian, an E.Q. to match her I.Q., and the political instincts of a Clinton. She has an impressive empathic ability — invaluable in politics or statecraft — to imagine how the world looks to an ally or adversary. She listens, and she learns from her mistakes. She was a perfectly plausible president four years ago, and that was before she demonstrated her gifts as a diplomatic snake-charmer. (Never mind Pakistan and Libya, I’m talking about the Obama White House.) She is, says Gallup, the most admired woman in America for the 10th year in a row, laps ahead of, in order, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and Condoleezza Rice; her approval rating of 64 percent is the highest of any political figure in the country.

So it’s too early to hang up the big ambition. And a lot of us would be deeply disappointed in her if she did. This would be none of our business if she had taken the off-ramp after her time as first lady. (Nobody is thinking very hard about what’s next for Laura Bush.) But she moved on to the Senate, to a near-miss presidential campaign, and to a credible term as secretary of state. She raised our expectations.

The proposal to draft her in place of President Obama this year is preposterous. It exaggerates his vulnerability and discounts Hillary’s loyalty. But the idea that she should replace Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate in 2012 is something else. It has been kicking around on the blogs for more than a year without getting any traction, mainly because it has been authoritatively, emphatically dismissed by Hillary, Biden and Team Obama.

It’s time to take it seriously.

I know the arguments against this scenario, and we’ll get to those. But the arguments in favor are as simple as one-two-three. One: it does more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do. Two: it improves the chances that, come next January, he will not be a lame duck with a gridlocked Congress but a rejuvenated president with a mandate and a Congress that may be a little less forbidding. Three: it makes Hillary the party’s heir apparent in 2016. If she sits out politics for the next four years, other Democrats (yes, Governor Cuomo, we see your hand up) will fill the void.

She would bring to this year’s campaign a missing warmth and some of the voltage that has dissipated as Obama moved from campaigning to governing. What excites is not just the prospect of having a woman a heartbeat — and four years — away from the presidency, although she certainly embodies the aspirations of many women. It’s the possibility that the first woman at the top would have qualifications so manifest that her first-ness was a secondary consideration.

The biggest obstacle to this scenario is, of course, President Obama, reinforced by the people around him. The Obamas have long regarded the Clintons as representing the tawdry side of politics: the deal-cutting, the calculating, the endless schmoozing, the permanent campaign — in short, the things that this professorial president could have used more of in his first term. The Clintons — Bill, at least — have tended to see Obama as politically naïve, steeped in youthful arrogance, a loner, happier to be right than successful. The mistrust may have abated a little, as Hillary has proved herself the most faithful of allies. And Bill has been a pretty disciplined defender of this administration, though his endorsements tend to come with a helping of paternalistic (and public) advice. But the Obamas and Clintons remain a marriage of convenience.

The Obama inner circle believes the president doesn’t need Hillary to win a second term. Just now, when the Republican field looks like a bug-spattered windshield and the most likely nominee strikes many in his own party as an empty suit, that confidence is understandable. But Democrats should not get too cocky. Mitt Romney, as I’ve argued before, has a case to make to voters and the resources to make it. In Iowa, exploiting the Supreme Court’s laissez-faire ruling on campaign spending, he brought down Newt Gingrich with an “independent” attack machine of considerable firepower.

Moreover, even if Obama can win without Hillary, there’s a lot to be said for running up the score. If she can do in 2012 what Obama did in 2008 — animate that feeling of historic possibility — the pair can lift some House and Senate candidates along with them. One reason Republicans did so well in the 2010 Congressional elections is that they overcame the gender gap and carried women voters 51 to 49. Those voters will flock back to Hillary, the more so if the Republican ticket is locked into a culture-war agenda. So, by the way, will Hispanic voters, securing such endangered states as Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.

Vice President Clinton would be a formidable asset in governing as well as campaigning, both as a political calculator and as an emissary to Capitol Hill. She has, to put it mildly, an ability to navigate the world of powerful, problematic men.

In the event that Obama has the good sense (or, if the economy fails to perk up, the sense of desperation) to offer her the vice president’s slot, some of her closest friends will implore her to decline. They will tell her that it means tarnishing her reputation by playing the second’s traditional role of campaign attack dog. But that needn’t be the case. Like Romney, the Democrats can outsource to a super-PAC the wet work that used to be the job of the running mate, letting Hillary stick to the high road. And whatever her friends say, there’s no way the dutiful Methodist schoolgirl would turn down an I-need-you from the president.

THAT leaves the delicate question of ditching Joe Biden. He is not a dazzling campaigner, and — five years Hillary’s senior — he is not Obama’s successor. But he is a loyal and accomplished public servant who deserves to be treated with honor.

A political scientist I know proposes the following choreography: In the late winter or early spring, Hillary steps down as secretary of state to rest and write that book. The president assigns Biden — the former chairman of Senate Foreign Relations — to add State to his portfolio, making him the most powerful vice president in history. Come the party convention in September, Obama swallows his considerable pride and invites a refreshed Hillary to join the ticket. Biden keeps State. The musicians play “Happy Days Are Here Again” as if they really mean it.

Of course, this is more exciting if it’s a surprise, and now I’ve spoiled it. Sorry. But not as sorry as I’ll be if — as I fear — it’s just a fantasy.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2012, 03:49 PM
From the NY Times ___

America’s Unlevel Field


Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals — and Republicans were not happy. Mitt Romney, in particular, insisted that where Roosevelt believed that “government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,” Mr. Obama believes that “government should create equal outcomes,” that we should have a society where “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”

As many people were quick to point out, this portrait of the president as radical redistributionist was pure fiction. What hasn’t been as widely noted, however, is that Mr. Romney’s picture of himself as a believer in a level playing field is just as fictional. Where is the evidence that he or his party cares at all about equality of opportunity?

Let’s talk for a minute about the actual state of the playing field.

Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in The Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.

And if you ask why America is more class-bound in practice than the rest of the Western world, a large part of the reason is that our government falls down on the job of creating equal opportunity.

The failure starts early: in America, the holes in the social safety net mean that both low-income mothers and their children are all too likely to suffer from poor nutrition and receive inadequate health care. It continues once children reach school age, where they encounter a system in which the affluent send their kids to good, well-financed public schools or, if they choose, to private schools, while less-advantaged children get a far worse education.

Once they reach college age, those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to go to college — and vastly less likely to go to a top-tier school — than those luckier in their parentage. At the most selective, “Tier 1” schools, 74 percent of the entering class comes from the quarter of households that have the highest “socioeconomic status”; only 3 percent comes from the bottom quarter.

And if children from our society’s lower rungs do manage to make it into a good college, the lack of financial support makes them far more likely to drop out than the children of the affluent, even if they have as much or more native ability. One long-term study by the Department of Education found that students with high test scores but low-income parents were less likely to complete college than students with low scores but affluent parents — loosely speaking, that smart poor kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a degree.

It’s no wonder, then, that Horatio Alger stories, tales of poor kids who make good, are much less common in reality than they are in legend — and much less common in America than they are in Canada or Europe. Which brings me back to those, like Mr. Romney, who claim to believe in equality of opportunity. Where is the evidence for that claim?

Think about it: someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about the inequality of our current system. He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students. And he would support what every other advanced country has, a universal health care system, so that nobody need worry about untreated illness or crushing medical bills.

If Mr. Romney has come out for any of these things, I’ve missed it. And the Congressional wing of his party seems determined to make upward mobility even harder. For example, Republicans have tried to slash funds for the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps provide adequate nutrition to low-income mothers and their children; they have demanded cuts in Pell grants, which are designed to help lower-income students afford college.

And they have, of course, pledged to repeal a health reform that, for all its imperfections, would finally give Americans the guaranteed care that everyone else in the advanced world takes for granted.

So where is the evidence that Mr. Romney or his party actually believes in equal opportunity? Judging by their actions, they seem to prefer a society in which your station in life is largely determined by that of your parents — and in which the children of the very rich get to inherit their estates tax-free. Teddy Roosevelt would not have approved.

01-12-2012, 10:21 AM

There’s The Rub

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

“They are really trying to demonize the Chief Justice,” says Renato Corona’s counsel, Serafin Cuevas. His Bellagio unit in fact was bought with “hard-earned money.”

If Malacañang is truly serious about cleaning up the Judiciary, unnamed sources say, why don’t they look into the properties owned as well by Antonio Carpio who has been feuding with Corona and casting a moist eye at his position? Specifically, at an 800-square-meter unit atop the Avignon Tower on H.V. De La Costa Street in Salcedo Village?

Well, first off, we’ll know soon enough the full extent of Corona’s acquisitions. That was what happened to Erap in the course of his impeachment trial. The mansions he bought for his mistresses, major and minor, were paraded before the public in all their glory or gaudiness. Truth has a way of coming out in impeachment trials, and truth is the greatest demonizer of all.

But I recall that the photographs of Erap’s houses—and mistresses—did not always inspire reprehension in people. I remember a taxi driver telling me in breathless admiration, “Swerte ni Erap, nasa kanya na ang lahat (Erap is lucky, he’s got everything).” But Erap was widely seen as a rogue, and to many an endearing one. Corona is not. I doubt admiration is the thing that will fill the hearts of taxi (and jeepney and bus) drivers when they see his suite in The Bellagio splashed on TV and the tabloids. He is reported as well to own a two-bedroom, 113.02-square-meter condo unit in Bonifacio Ridge, a condo unit in Makati City, and a house and lot in Quezon City.

You grant only the Bellagio unit, you grant that P14 million (including three parking spaces) and not P26 million is a fair price for it, you grant that Megaworld gave that discount not because Corona helped make its legal problems disappear but out of the goodness of its heart, which is granting the moon, how in God’s name does a Chief Justice come by P14 million? Hard-earned? I don’t know that reopening cases adjudged with finality entails hard work.

As to the suggestion that Carpio also be investigated for his own condo and other properties, why ever not? I’m all for it, as well indeed as investigating the other justices, notably Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointees, for the same reason. I agree: Justice is not justice if it is selective. Justice is not justice if it is not universal. Frankly, I don’t mind that Corona’s defense exposes the extent of Carpio’s and the other justices’ wealth with a view to questioning how honest judges could possibly have come by it. It should allow the people to say like the dying Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet,” “A plague on both your houses!”

Why should the fear of Carpio becoming chief justice deter us from ousting Corona for being the biggest obstacle to the prosecution of Arroyo? I have heard friends express that fear: We might leap from the frying pan into the fire with Carpio, a pillar of the so-called “Firm,” replacing Corona. In the first place, I haven’t gleaned any signals from Malacañang pointing in that direction. That seems either like a ploy of Corona’s friends, to put the fear of God, or the Firm, in people, or that of Carpio’s friends themselves to put the suggestion in P-Noy’s head or ram it through as a fait accompli.

In fact, why should Carpio naturally replace Corona? Or indeed, why should a justice naturally replace Corona? Why shouldn’t Corona be replaced by someone outside the Supreme Court, by any one of the judges in the regional trial courts or Court of Appeals who have shown exemplary conduct in private and public life? Or who have practiced law in the grand manner, showing a grasp of it beyond its superficial aspects, showing a wealth of wisdom and compassion and imagination, as befits most judicious person in the land?

By itself, knowing the statute books inside and out does not a chief justice make. Nor indeed experience, if all that experience consists of is how to profit from knowing those statute books inside and out.

All this gives me to appreciate again what P-Noy has started by arresting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, impeaching Corona, and prosecuting Jovito Palparan. Finally, it has opened wide the road to whistleblowing, encouraging everyone to expose wrongdoing. Finally, it has begun to put fear in the hearts of wrongdoers, where before they snuggled only in the blanket of impunity. Finally, it has made us want to have the best in everything, not least in chief justices, where before we settled only for the pwede na.

I am particularly glad that the judiciary has been opened up to this. Contrary to what Corona’s friends say, which is that his impeachment is an attack on the judiciary, it is the best thing to have happened to it. The judiciary is one of two institutions in this country that has virtually no accountability to the people. The other is the military. For a long time, the cabals of justices and generals that controlled these institutions have been free to do pretty much as they pleased, with only themselves to decree legal from illegal, moral from immoral. You go after corrupt generals, who also routinely own condo units in posh places, and they threaten a coup. You go after corrupt justices and they cry separation of powers.

That is a recipe for corruption, and corruption is precisely what it has bred. Secrecy corrupts, and absolute secrecy corrupts absolutely. Indeed, that is a recipe for the rise of Mafiosi, and Mafiosi are precisely what Arroyo’s justices and generals have become.

Well, things have begun to change, the wheels of justice have begun to turn, the engine of democracy has begun to hum. And a much abused people have found reason to hope. At long last we may start to see legal eagles flying in this land.

Not legal vultures hopping about corpses.

01-13-2012, 04:55 AM
Paul Krugman is definitely scared to death. His Socialism (Keynesian Fabian Socialism) will be no match against the Bond Vigilantes of the Word. Helloooo PIMCO...Come on Bill Gross, pull the plug. :D

Nice read.


Dear U.S.A.: Your Account is Overdrawn

January 12, 2012 (Mobile version)

Dear U.S.A.--your overdraft protection is about to be pulled.

Dear United States of America: We regret to inform you that your withdrawals exceeded your deposits last year by $1,600,000,000,000 ($1.6 trillion), including your "supplemental appropriations" spending.

Your account does have an overdraft protection, and so bonds were sold to cover your $1.6 trillion overdraft. While we value your business, we feel obligated to remind you that this is the third year that your overdraft protection exceeded 10% of your gross national product (GDP), and it seems your account is on course to register yet another $1.6 trillion overdraft in fiscal year 2012.

Currently, your overdraft account exceeds your GDP of $15 trillion.

Quite frankly, we are worried that you have become dependent on extensive overdraft protection--a feature designed to tide the account holder over for a short period of time in near-term expectation of higher deposits or lower withdrawals--and that relying on large-scale overdraft borrowing to cover your basic expenses is now your standard operating procedure.

This violates the intent of the overdraft feature, and as a result we must seriously consider modifying the terms of the overdraft protection on your account. Current conditions enable us to provide this overdraft, but the feature was not designed to be permanent nor on this scale.

In order to give you sufficient time to bring your deposits and withdrawals back into alignment, we will maintain the current low-interest overdraft protection on your account through fiscal year 2012. Beyond that, however, please be aware that to maintain the integrity of the system, we will have to raise the rate of interest on your overdraft and scale back the size of the overdraft line of credit.

We regret informing you of these modifications, but the overdraft protection was not intended to be permanent nor near-infinite in scale.

Yours truly,

The Global Bond Market


So many triggers for the next World War...

01-27-2012, 10:51 AM
The truth is out!

Malaya Business Insight
By Nestor Mata
Jan. 26, 2012

AT long last, the truth slipped right out of President Aquino’s mouth that he and his fellow leaders and members of the Liberal Party plotted the ouster of Chief Justice Renato Corona from the Supreme Court.

Aquino revealed this during the LP’s 66th anniversary, which was held soon after the fourth day of Corona’s trial before the Senate impeachment court. He boasted in his speech that the CJ’s impeachment was "one of the brightest moments of the Liberal Party."

He must have been so overwhelmed with sheer delight over Corona’s travail that he blurted out the plot against the CJ was "laid out" last December at a meeting led by himself and LP leaders and party members and "other congressmen who may not be Liberal in name but Liberal in their heart and in deeds." And he proudly called the participants as "partners in laying out measures to reform the Judiciary," which hardly disguised the fact that they colluded in the ouster of Corona.

Not only this, LP stalwart Budget Secretary Butch Abad also disclosed that President Aquino, as party chairman, urged their party mates to "stand squarely" behind Corona’s prosecutors.

This was obviously a signal to help the prosecutors, who, as we have seen during the first four days of the trial last week, were fumbling, rambling, stumbling, and blabbering incoherently, exposing themselves as thoroughly unprepared for the case.

Aquino’s admission –or, one might say, his public confession--- belied earlier avowals by his Palace mouthpieces that the President didn’t have a hand at all in Corona’s impeachment and that the filing of the complaint was "purely a business of the House (of Representatives."

This prompted pundits and political observers to comment that the collusion hatched by Aquino and his band of political pit-bulls in Congress came soon after the Supreme Court’s decision ordering the distribution of Noynoy’s Aquino-Cojuangco clan-owned Hacienda Luisita to its farmers and workers.

Those same members of the media commentariat said that Aquino actually "dictated" Corona’s impeachment by 188 congressmen, who, without bothering to read the pre-prepared complaint with its Articles of Impeachment, signed and dispatched it to the Senate, faster than the legendary "Bicol Express."

"Aquino’s actions," in the words of one of them, "betrayed his vindictive motive to punish Corona in his misinformed belief that the CJ influenced the SC’s landmark decision." Or, as a member of The Noisy Minority pithily commented: "Kung walang Corona, may Hacienda Luisita!

As the impeachment trial entered its fifth day the other day, Corona had to face "trial by publicity," too. Malacañang’s corps of mouthpieces, eagerly assisted by those congressmen-prosecutors and Aquino’s yellow-dyed followers and supporters in media, continued to spread black propaganda against the besieged CJ.

Even Aquino himself joined the propaganda blitz. Last weekend, apparently misinformed by what happened during the first fours of Corona’s trial, he publicly urged the CJ to "explain the apparent discrepancies between his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Network (SALN) and his declared properties."

What he didn’t know was that the congressmen-prosecutors had failed to prove their allegations that Corona owned 45 real estate properties. Corona’s SALN showed that he owned only five real estate properties.

So, taking Aquino’s remarks as diktat, on the sixth day of the trial last Tuesday, they tried to introduce Corona’s Income Tax Returns (ITRs) as proofs of his alleged "hidden ill-gotten wealth." But the defense lawyers quickly objected to the presentation of the ITRs because these were not among the allegations in their original impeachment complaint.

As the Corona impeachment trial enters its eighth day today, it’s clear that the congressmen-prosecutors, judging by the way they’re fishing for evidence, are thoroughly unprepared. And this must be the reason why Aquino and his frenetic mouthpieces and propaganda corps seem more interested in demonizing Corona and dragging his family and in-laws through black propaganda, shaming all of them, and hoping he would resign instead of fighting to prove that he has been wrongly accused before the Senate impeachment court.

Actually, many discerning pundits and commentators, uninfected by the yellow political virus, see in Aquino’s actions, even before the trial, indications that he wants to gain complete control of the judiciary and the legislature branches of government. These are, indeed, ominous signs that he is paving the path to a state of one-man rule.

No, no, no, Mr. President, we don’t want one-man rule, again! What we need is a leader who follows the rule of law, not of the jungle!

If this is the kind of President that makes your "life better", so be it. :o

01-31-2012, 11:51 AM
Poverty down but hunger up. ??? I don't know if the prosecutors in the impeachment trial know not only what to think but also how to think (as our philosophy professor in college used to say). Take for example the McKinley property of the daughter Charina who has been working in the US for several years. They say that Corona actually owns the property. What if the defense could produce money transfers from the daughter to Corona during that time (the bank accounts of Corona which the prosecution wants to open next would likely show this if the daughter sent it to his bank accounts here)? Did they ever think of that? Now the Bellagio property. As explained by Ng, 20% discount is normal plus the unit needed repairs plus the global financial crisis in 2008 which pushed the developers to bring down their prices at that time. The prosecution keeps on saying that income reported in the SALN of Corona wouldn't justify the purchases of the condos. How about allowances which I understand are tax-exempt? Money from directorships? From sales of properties? From loans? From inheritance and gains from the stock market which are already subject to final taxes?

Don't get me wrong. I am in favor of the trial if only to put the corrupt justices and judges on notice that business is not usual anymore ;D. I also find it entertaining :o.

01-31-2012, 05:47 PM
HAAAyyy... A senator- judge just asked kung insured yun property or nakakuha sila ng payment from their insurance for the water damage. Eh ano naman ngayon kung nakakuha ang Megaworld ng pera eh di naman nila ginastos yun to repair yun unit. So nabawi din nila yun reduction in price nila. :D.

Ano naman din ang relevance nun prices nun other units? Wala naman water damage. Discounts are given on a case-to-case basis. The witness already admitted that one million lang talaga ang special discount na binigay. Tapos iba-iba naman ang purchase dates nun mga ibang units. Baka at that time di pa malala ang global financial crisis.

Tapos pinabasa pa ang annual report ng Megaworld na ok naman yun business that year. Nasabi na na high-end itong mga unit na ito at ang market nito ay very limited kasi mahal. At naghahabol sila ng quota. Haaayyy.... wala lang talaga ako magawa ;D.

02-01-2012, 08:53 AM
HAAAyyy... A senator- judge just asked kung insured yun property or nakakuha sila ng payment from their insurance for the water damage. Eh ano naman ngayon kung nakakuha ang Megaworld ng pera eh di naman nila ginastos yun to repair yun unit. So nabawi din nila yun reduction in price nila. :D.

Ano naman din ang relevance nun prices nun other units? Wala naman water damage. Discounts are given on a case-to-case basis. The witness already admitted that one million lang talaga ang special discount na binigay. Tapos iba-iba naman ang purchase dates nun mga ibang units. Baka at that time di pa malala ang global financial crisis.

Tapos pinabasa pa ang annual report ng Megaworld na ok naman yun business that year. Nasabi na na high-end itong mga unit na ito at ang market nito ay very limited kasi mahal. At naghahabol sila ng quota. Haaayyy.... wala lang talaga ako magawa ;D.

Sen. Osmena. ;D

Ako rin ay napapailing nung maglakas loob siyang tanuning ang testigo na si Noli Hernandez. Maayos yung mga sagot ni Hernandez dahil expertise niya yung subject pero si Osmena pinuputol ang mga sagot ni Hernandez na akala mo nakaka score ng points si Osmena. Nakakatawa. Nakaka awa. Kasi marami palang komedyante sa Senado. Kawawa naman ang sambayanang Pilipino. Pero.... mga pilipino din naman kasi ang bumoto sa kanila. Nakaka awa.

02-04-2012, 03:55 PM
Pictures can paint a thousand words right? ;D

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u63/tigerbj/429402_2318647704042_1785007011_1500230_554045780_ n.jpg

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u63/tigerbj/395445_10150636706524884_788014883_11246212_418616 003_n.jpg



http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u63/tigerbj/388430_10150497652422989_521887988_8975825_1723201 000_n.jpg

02-04-2012, 09:48 PM
The trouble with the prosecution, sabi nga ni Joker Arroyo, ay di nila nireresearch ang mga evidence nila. Kaya yun discount ay di naman pala discount. Yun 27 receipts sa condo sa Mckinley ni Charina ay most likely sa kanya kasi nga hulugan ng matagal at inabot pa ng 27 installments. The Coronas usually pay in a few installments. Tapos sinasabi nila na si Mrs. Corona ay hindi stockholder. Eh kasi naman ang pinakita ay yun 1961 where the parents ang stockholders. Ang mother ni Mrs. Corona ay isang Basa. Bata pa si Mrs. Corona nun. I understand naging stockholder siya much much later. At nakakuha ng malaking pera sa expropriation sale na mga P 34 million which was already subjected to final capital gains tax. Ang corporation pag na revoked pwede pa mag transact ng business at balik lang sila sa association or partnership.

The prosecution is to blame for lack of preparation at daldal ng daldal sa media ng mga evidence nila na palpak, e.g. di naman pala 45 properties eh. Kaya ang mga tao nawawalan na ng interes sa kapalpakan nila. Wait until the defense rebuts when their turn comes at lalo pa mapapahiya ang prosecution.

Now the question is whether the accusations rise to the level of high crimes which are impeachable. Perjury espcially kung di naman intentional or malicious is not a high crime. Sayang lang ang oras ng Senado. I hope PCIJ publishes the SALNs ng mga Congressmen at mga Senadors kung fair market value ang nilalagay nila as per the definition of Barzaga :D.

02-05-2012, 06:14 AM
The funny thing about this "discount" thing is that these congressmen keep on saying that CJ Corona holds one of the most powerful positions in the country and that he should not have availed of the said "discount" of 40% (which turns out to be more or less 15%) only. I only have two things to point out here:

1. Have they, the prosecution team and the other senators (ehem, Drilon), not availed of huge discounts before, i.e. airline discounts?
2. Senator Osmena keeps on barking on the 40% discount. Si Manny Villar, isang developer, ang nagsabi na it is not uncommon or unheard of. Just look at SMDC for crying out loud.
2. These (prosecutors and some senators) people seem to have a short memory. As far as I can remember, even President Aquino availed of a "sweetheart deal" when he purchased his Porsche more or less a year ago. Now, should he or should he not be impeached also?

One last word, the CPR of lawyers provide that LAWYERS SHOULD COME TO COURT PREPARED! Tupas and his cohorts, including Aquino, are making this impeachment trial a mockery. This is what you call a fishing expedition.

Respect the separation of powers! Let the Rule of Law prevail!

02-05-2012, 12:59 PM
Correction: I was told that once a license is revoked, a corporation cannot continue to do business as a corporation. The question therefore is the date of the cash advance/loan to the Coronas whether it was dated before the revocation of the license or not. Still since this is family-owned, baka wala naman mga formal procedures gaya ng board resolution for example. In any case whether the cash advance/loan was illegal or not, it wasn't fictitious. Baka naman kinuha na lng ni Mrs. Corona yun share ng family niya ;). So this has no bearing on the "dishonesty" of the Chief Justice.

02-05-2012, 04:39 PM
The senator-judges who are lawyers like JPE and Angara have already cleared the issue as regards the revocation of the license of a corporation. They stated that revocation is different from dissolution. CJ Panganiban likewise supported the view that a corporation whose license has been revoked can still lend money.

Here's a good explanation by Atty. Dennis Manalo (one of CJ Corona's defense counsel). To my surprise, ANC show pala yan. ;D


02-05-2012, 05:22 PM

Aquino upset at House prosecutors

Manila, Philippines – President Benigno S. Aquino III is apparently upset that the prosecution team in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona is losing the publicity war in the media.
The President, at the 112th anniversary celebration of the Manila Bulletin in Intramuros, Manila last Thursday night, complained that the defense team has dominated the newspaper headlines and expressed hope the prosecution will get better publicity next time.
Aquino admitted that he reads the Manila Bulletin to calm his nerves but could not help but grumble about a headline on the alleged fishing expedition of prosecutors in Corona’s trial.
At first, Aquino commended the Manila Bulletin for its January 29 headline that highlighted the Puerto Princesa subterranean river as one of the world’s new wonders, even showing the newspaper clipping to the crowd. He said such positive news was not highlighted in other newspapers.
But the Chief Executive, who has endorsed the impeachment complaint against Corona, later complained about the February 2 headline, “Fishing Expedition: Corona lawyers slam prosecution.”
“Itong araw na ‘to, kailangan ko rin po magpakalma; nagbasa po ako ng Bulletin rin. Ang nakalagay po eh “Fishing Expedition.” Tila ho batikos doon ho sa ating mga prosecutor. Iyong kabila naman po “Corona Lawyers Slam Prosecution (Today, I needed to calm my nerves. I read the Bulletin and its headline read “Fishing Expedition.” It was a criticism against our prosecutors. In the other side, “Corona Lawyers Slam Prosecution”),” he said.
“Sabi ko, nasaan kaya dito ‘yung “Prosecution Magaling” naman?” Siguro ho bukas iyon. Noong araw ho kasi, parang kabilaang side parati nakikita natin sa Bulletin, tama po ba? (I said to myself, “Where is report that the prosecution is clever?” Maybe it will be published tomorrow. In old days, Bulletin shows both sides always),” he added.
Aquino said many people choose to read the Manila Bulletin rather than other newspapers that only increases their blood pressure.
Meanwhile, the President congratulated the Manila Bulletin on its 112th anniversary, citing its commitment to accurate and truthful reporting that sustained its credibility over the years.
Aquino appealed to the media to remain balanced and fair as part of the responsibility of having freedom of the press.
He also welcomed the media’s roles as a check and balance to the abuse of power but called on the press to highlight “positive transformations” and elevate the level of public discourse. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)

I find this article disturbing. In fact, I can say that it's more disturbing than the latest "apple of the eye" of the Yellow Zombies' President.

First, he is more concerned with the trial by publicity rather than the very trial itself inside the Senate session hall. For me, it's an admission that the impeachment against CJ Corona doesn't really have any substance at all. It is nothing but a product of a politically-motivated grudge (hacienda ahem).

Second, he has the audacity to question Manila Bulletin's status as a balanced and fair media outfit and yet he never complains about the obvious love of the PDI and ABS-CBN towards his administration. Talked about double standard.

Lastly, he should be the subject of impeachment trial and not Corona. Didn't PNoy use the pork barrel thing as blackmail against the 188 signatories of the impeachment complaint. Isn't that bribery at its finest? He merely repeated what Donya Pidal did before. And now, he wants to influence how MB does its reporting? Isn't that a violation of constitutional provision on freedom of the press? IMHO, that is tantamount to culpable violation of the constitution.

02-05-2012, 09:49 PM
Correction: I was told that once a license is revoked, a corporation cannot continue to do business as a corporation. The question therefore is the date of the cash advance/loan to the Coronas whether it was dated before the revocation of the license or not. Still since this is family-owned, baka wala naman mga formal procedures gaya ng board resolution for example. In any case whether the cash advance/loan was illegal or not, it wasn't fictitious. Baka naman kinuha na lng ni Mrs. Corona yun share ng family niya ;). So this has no bearing on the "dishonesty" of the Chief Justice.

What a revocation does is, as far as I know, it prohibits the corporation from operating as a going concern (doing business). The revocation DOES NOT dissolve or affect the juridical entity. According to the law, there are only two ways of killing (dissolving) the corporation. One way is through the action of the stockholders, and the other way is when the government files a quo warranto.

Even if there was a revocation, the corporation can still lend money but it can't do business anymore. The SEC has NO power to dissolve a corporation. :)

02-06-2012, 08:51 AM
Once it ceases to be a corporation thereby losing the advantages of being a corporation, e.g. the personal assets of the people are protected, it can always become a partnership.

The problem with Pnoy is he talks too much, unlike Gloria for example. Like wanting Gloria to be in jail before Christmas, it's low on my priority list, etc. And for him it looks like the end justifies the means. The Executive should have no business in this impeachment trial at all.

I read that people now think the CJ will be acquitted. Pnoy should be careful in using his personal agenda to undermine our institutions. The people might just get tired of him especially if our economic growth continues to languish in the 3% range. And he and his Tongressmen will be the laughing stock pretty soon.

02-06-2012, 12:17 PM
Based from what I have seen (on ANC), sa aking palagay abswelto si CJ sa Article 2.

02-06-2012, 01:06 PM
The problem with Pnoy is he talks too much, unlike Gloria for example. Like wanting Gloria to be in jail before Christmas, it's low on my priority list, etc. And for him it looks like the end justifies the means. The Executive should have no business in this impeachment trial at all.

I read that people now think the CJ will be acquitted. Pnoy should be careful in using his personal agenda to undermine our institutions. The people might just get tired of him especially if our economic growth continues to languish in the 3% range. And he and his Tongressmen will be the laughing stock pretty soon.

PNoy has done nothing substantive to the economy which is not a suprise at all. What has he accomplished prior to assuming his post now? There is a big difference between a man having an ambition to become the President and a man with an ambition to become the best President or at lease one of the best. I bet his next SONA will be all about Gloria and Corona and the recurring small ticket items just like what he delivered before.

02-07-2012, 12:02 AM
The end justifies the means naman daw eh! Pweh!

Foul play by the prosecution
Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Prosecutors are doing a repeat of the impeachment trial of then sitting President Erap Estrada, where a bank, Equitable Banking Corp., submitted, despite an absence of subpoena, an envelope containing the bank records which its officials insinuated belonged to Estrada.

The bank records had nothing to do with the charges in the impeachment complaint, but that was one way for the prosecution and its private lawyers to find the excuse to walk out of the impeachment court and create the collapse of the trial. Prosecutors even then knew that they could not convict Estrada. That was a dirty trick played by the prosecution and the consequences were fatal.

There was a bank run in the billions as loss of trust by depositors on their accounts’ confidentiality. Eventually, the bank closed shop.

Today’s prosecutors are trying to do the same, this time seeking the subpoena for the bank records of Chief Justice Renato Corona, with the attachment of unauthenticated signature cards for the opening of a dollar account allegedly in the sum of $700,000, despite the fact that dollar accounts in the Philippines are guaranteed absolute secrecy.

At this time, secrecy is not the main issue. It is the fact that the prosecutors presented bank records that have not, on their face, been issued officially by the bank, which means the records were obtained illegally and one is not even certain that these bank records are true and correct.

Prosecutors, being lawyers, certainly know that these unauthenticated bank accounts, allegedly owned by the CJ cannot be used as evidence, being inadmissible. Why then did the prosecutors come up with these unauthenticated bank records, given the fact that they would not be able to inform the impeachment court where these records came from?

The bank involved, said to be PSBank, if it provided the prosecution with such records, even assuming that the records are accurate, is liable for disclosing such, and it may go the way of Equitable Bank, as depositors would very definitely lose their trust and confidence in banks for releasing such documents without permission from the depositor.

If the records were released by an officer of the bank, on his own, that person is also liable, just as the bank would be, as it is still the responsibility of the bank to maintain the secrecy of the accounts as well as control over the acts of its bank officers and officials.

Is the prosecution now willing to disclose the identity of the person who had provided the panel with these documents and were strong arm tactics from the powerful in Malacañang used to secure such documents, assuming that these documents are authentic, with the clear intent to destroy the CJ before the public?

It was reported that the other prosecutors were against this move, and refused to sign the request for subpoena of the bank records, which is why it was said to have been signed by the secretary-general of the Liberal Party, Rep. Emilio Abaya, known to take his orders from Noynoy Aquino.

That these unauthenticated bank records allegedly owned by the CJ should not be admitted as evidence by the Senate court, it stands to reason that the prosecution’s intention was to portray the CJ as having stashed tens of millions in a “secret” account, and therefore guilty of the charges brought against him by the prosecutors, which is really foul play.

This move of the prosecution also proves that it knows that it cannot prove its case against the CJ, which is why it has thrown caution to the wind is now banking on destroying the CJ in public, even at the cost of losing its case.

There is absolutely no more respect from Noynoy and his allies in Congress for the constitutional rights of their political foes, nor of fair play and fair justice.

They are a scourge on the country and the nation.

02-08-2012, 04:50 AM
The problem with Pnoy is he talks too much, unlike Gloria for example. Like wanting Gloria to be in jail before Christmas, it's low on my priority list, etc. And for him it looks like the end justifies the means. The Executive should have no business in this impeachment trial at all.
;De now think the CJ will be acquitted. Pnoy should be careful in using his personal agenda to undermine our institutions. The people might just get tired of him especially if our economic growth continues to languish in the 3% range. And he and his Tongressmen will be the laughing stock pretty soon.

PNoy has done nothing substantive to the economy which is not a suprise at all. What has he accomplished prior to assuming his post now? There is a big difference between a man having an ambition to become the President and a man with an ambition to become the best President or at lease one of the best. I bet his next SONA will be all about Gloria and Corona and the recurring small ticket items just like what he delivered before.

The HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT COUNCIL can only do so much. ;)

02-09-2012, 08:14 AM
It is disturbing to see the arrogance of some senators that they can exercise the power of impeachment in violation of the Bill of Rights and due process. It is not a question of their sole right to try the case but they should not violate the Constitution in the process.

In this regard, if they cite the poor fellow (president of PSBank) in contempt and he is detained at the Senate, can he go to the SC for remedy? Can the impeachment court impose penalty like 6 years imprisonment for ignoring the subpoena vs. the criminal liability the Bank/President may face if Corona decides to file charges?

Does the prosecution face criminal liabillity for obtaining and using illegally acquired evidence and does the impeachment court also face the same for accepting such evidence?

02-10-2012, 01:11 AM
I guess there is no such thing as "fruit of the poisonous tree" in the impeachment court.

02-10-2012, 04:07 PM
Interesting article.


Constitutional Crisis?
Bernas: Supreme Court, Senate Share Equal Powers
February 9, 2012, 7:54pm
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court and the Senate, acting as an impeachment court, share equal powers.

This was the opinion shared by respected constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, Wednesday night before members of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).

Contrary to the belief of many senators, the Senate is not a superior branch even if it is acting as an impeachment body, Fr. Bernas said.

With the continued insistence of the senators that they are above all branches when the Senate acts as an impeachment court (IC), Fr. Bernas aired fears a clash between the legislature and the judiciary.

“By saying that the Senate as an impeachment court is superior to the Supreme Court, the two bodies are placed in a collision course. When an irressitable force moves... someone has to give in,” Fr. Bernas said during the oath-taking ceremony of Philconsa at the historic landmark Manila Hotel Wednesday night.

“These are just samples of the problems that are arising in the course of impeachment trial. The climactic moment will come when the Senate, acting as a court, will enter its verdict,” he added.

What the senators failed to understand, according to Fr. Bernas, was the fact that they were still a legislative branch of government even if they assumed the function as an impeachment court.

“It seems to me they failed to acknowledge that the powers being exercised during the impeachment trial are powers given to the Senate but only to be exercised on occasion. These powers are dormant until an impeachment trial arises,” Fr. Bernas pointed out.

“In other words, there is only one Senate which occasionally acts as an impeachment court, in the same manner there is only one Supreme Court. The Senate – whether acting as impeachment court or legislative body – is the same Senate that is co-equal and not superior to the other departments,” he added.

If there’s one thing that is above all the three branches, Fr. Bernas said “the Constitution is the only thing superior” to the three branches.

“There is no superiority of one over the others. There is only the Constitution over all,” he said.

On the question when the SC can step in during an impeachment proceeding, the respected constitutionalist said the High Tribunal can help in terms of determining the meaning of the law, especially during the times when there’s violation of constitutional rights.

He cited the impeachment cases of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez wherein the Supreme Court came in to resolve matters of interpreting the law of impeachment.

In electoral tribunal cases, when the Constitution says the electoral tribunal shall be the sole judge of all election contests, the SC came in to determine whether there has been grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the tribunal.

“What all these means is that the SC can come in when it is needed to determine the meaning of the law. This does not mean superiority of the SC over other departments. All it means is that the Constitution has placed in the SC the power to determine with finality the meaning of the law,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the public has been urged to remain calm in monitoring developments of the ongoing trial of the impeached Chief Justice before the Senate, a lawmaker appealed Wednesday night.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez asked the public to protect and defend the Constitution against those who will attempt to trample upon it, noting that the Constitution reigns supreme to preserve the country’s democracy.

“For now, all that we can do is observe the process and remain vigilant to ensure that the rule of law will always prevail, and at the same time, stand guard against those who want to undermine the Constitution,” Romualdez said. (With a report from Rio Rose Ribaya)

02-11-2012, 08:46 AM
It looks like Drilon (the super balimbing who said before that Iloilo loves Gloria) and some senators don't accept Bernas and Ranhillo's comments as mentioned above. And reportedly they will contest the TRO. Farinas also wants to impeach the 8 justices bwahaha.

I await the Defense's explanation of all the monies and properties of Corona when their turn comes. They have already hinted that not all the bank deposits are his (the daughter has been sending money to buy her properties for example) and some are held in trust. There was also sale of two properties in 2010. Maybe some inheritance money from Mrs. Corona as well. I sure hope that Corona will open the dollar accounts voluntarily later on.

I noticed that the pro-CJ demonstration was made up of "middle class" people but the one organized by the Black and White movement (Leah Navarro reportedly was booed at the Kapihan) was composed of "masa". No EDSA people power will prosper without the "middle class". Without the Church. And now the Iglesia ni Kristo (takot lang ng mga politicians to antagonize this bloc :D). What are they going to do in case Corona gets acquitted?

I also see the hypocrisy and selective justice in this impeachment trial. Bakit si Corona lang ang dapat mag-divulge ng ari-arian? Dapat yun mga senador at 188 congressmen mag-divulge din ;D. Yun property daw ni Tupas sa Xavierville meron gustong bumili for 14.5 million pesos (yun ang sinabi niya ang halaga nun :o.)

02-11-2012, 10:20 AM
Tama, bakit si Corona lang?

Pero, by law yang 188 at ang mga Senador are required to file their SALN. Lahat din ay may ITR.

Tanong: Who has the initiative and the resources to scrutinize the SALN of these people? Sino ang may kakayahang sabihan ang Pangulo na isapubliko ang ITR ng mga taong iyan? At kung matapos suriin at maiugnay ang SALN at ITR, who will make a follow through by filing charges when warranted?

We all know this is all politics. If we know what politics is dito sa atin, then we should also know Corona is dead meat from the moment those 188 affixed their signatures.

Hindi tanga ang Administrasyon to move for the impeachment of Corona if they can't get the numbers they need in the Senate.

To me, it is irrelevant that the bank statements and the deed on the properties make it appear Corona did not faithfully declare information in his SALN. Imo, it is also irrelevant there is now indication of unexplained wealth which is a ground to file charges against a civil servant-- regardless who that civil servant may be.

All irrelevant dahil nga ito ay pulitika. At most, what transpires in the proceedings gives an "excuse for those who will be among the 16".

At kung wala yang mga bank statements at registro ng mga ari-arian, they'll surely find means to get 16 Senadors to vote to impeach Corona.

Yung mga tahimik ng Senador, 2 klase lang yan. Yung mga walang kakayahang ihayag ang nasa kalooban at isip nila dahil sila ay pinagkaitan ng kakayahang gawin ito. At ang ikalawa, yung walang paki sa anong nangyayari sa hearings dahil yung usapan sa labas ng senate floor ang mas mahalaga sa kanila.

Those who know how politics works know that what is voted upon on the floor is decided outside the session halls.

I can just imagine, if there is one senator that is still not swayed to impeaching Corona, the Administration will just have to present the scenario-- If you don't vote our way, the full machinery of government will be used to campaign against you in the next election. If that senator is not running for re-election, same campaign will be used against the spouse or son or daughter in the next election.

Ewan ko lang, kung yung nakatikim ng pork ay mabubuhay ng kahit 3 taon na walang pork.

Ganon pa man, the bank statements now makes it easier to get the 16 votes. ;D

02-12-2012, 01:45 AM

I agree with gfy. Yeah baby! Pwede bang hingin na din nila ang mga bank statements ng mga SENATONG at mga TONGRESSMAN. Ay mali! Sila sila pa yan.

Kung ilalabas ng mga corrupt sa gobyerno ang mga bank statements nila, walang matitira sa kanilang lahat. Lokohan lang ito. Mukhang ang mga magnanakaw ngayon sa gobyerno ay nagiinarteng galit sa kapwa magnanakaw. :D

Don't look at this from a purely myopic legal perspective. This is just an internal fight among the corrupt class who has been using the citizens as both milking cows band spectators. They give you "Bread and Circus" for the taxes that you pay. They give you "Bread and Circus" to keep the corrupt system alive.

admiral thrawn
02-12-2012, 11:11 AM

I agree with gfy. Yeah baby! Pwede bang hingin na din nila ang mga bank statements ng mga SENATONG at mga TONGRESSMAN. Ay mali! Sila sila pa yan.

Kung ilalabas ng mga corrupt sa gobyerno ang mga bank statements nila, walang matitira sa kanilang lahat. Lokohan lang ito. Mukhang ang mga magnanakaw ngayon sa gobyerno ay nagiinarteng galit sa kapwa magnanakaw. :D

Don't look at this from a purely myopic legal perspective. This is just an internal fight among the corrupt class who has been using the citizens as both milking cows band spectators. They give you "Bread and Circus" for the taxes that you pay. They give you "Bread and Circus" to keep the corrupt system alive.

^^ may kasabihan "ang magnanakaw galit sa kapawa magnanakaw"!

02-15-2012, 08:42 AM
Cong. Umali couldn't recall where in the Senate he was given the brown envelope after learning that there were CCTVs all around the Senate building. C'mon you remember it was a little lady but don't remember where it was handed to you? I know it isn't the Batasan but I find that hard to believe.

Pnoy should be careful commenting on the trial. In fact he shouldn't comment at all. It's enough Lacierda is already making a fool of himself by talking too much.

The Ombudsman was petitioned to investigate the SALNs of the Senators and the Prosecution panel. Just right.

Re the pro-bono lawyers of the Defense and the comment that it is not ethical because they would have cases in the future before the SC, Corona (if not convicted) could always recuse himself. But it is not true that the private prosecutors have no influence on the Congressmen at all in crafting or seeking legislation to favor their corporate clients.

02-17-2012, 10:16 AM
Personally I think Niel Tupas should turn the prosecution lead role over to Rudy Farinas. Amateur hour is alive and well at the rate the prosecution is going. I'm surprised Johnny Enrile made it to his 88th birthday having to referee and lecture at the same time as presiding officer of the impeachment court.

That being said I cannot help but go back to two things that CJ Corona said before this trial even started: I have nothing to hide. I will answer everything.

So far everything his defense team has done is to try and hide everything, especially the bank accounts of their client. They have not given a single straight answer, objecting to every little thing the prosecution does. Granted the way the prosecution has been doing things, even a first-year law student would find objectionable. Still, this is not a regular trial where the principles learned in Remedial Law in law school applies.

In the end this is not about how good or bad the prosecution is. This is about whether or not CJ Corona remains fit to be CJ. Given everything that the prosecution has so far brought to light, the answer I feel should be in the negative. Ang hirap ng magtiwala sa isang Punong Mahistrado na may mga tinatago palang mga ganyang bagay.

There is only one thing I want to hear from the defense when their turn comes: CJ Corona hid nothing. He drclared everything in his SALNs over all these years. Nothing he has is ill-gotten.

If they can make that case, then I will be the first to shake his hand when he returns trimphantly back to the Supreme Court fully vindicated, especially when I see him at the games.

Kid Cubao
02-17-2012, 01:38 PM
^^ you wouldn't nominate rudy farinas to take over from the hapless niel tupas if you were on hand to watch his stint at the senate floor. either that, or you really have a cosmic sense of humor, joe ;D

as kids these days would put, his performance was the mother of all facepalms.

02-18-2012, 11:38 AM
Hahaha... Farinas was the one who said their lawyers are pro-bono and have nothing to gain. Maybe he is not familiar with the word "lobbyists".

I agree with you Joe. The Defense has now said that Mrs. Corona's P34.7 million check from the Basa Corporation was deposited in CJ's accounts and was withdrawn (the three closed accounts in December 2011) to "safeguard" it because that money could be forfeited if considered ill-gotten. That money is the subject of a family dispute now pending in the courts. The sale of 2 lots worth P26 million was also mentioned. The CJ should explain everything including the dollar accounts.

What I find disturbing though is Pnoy's interference in the trial e.g. the La Consolacion speech, asking the Senators to defy the SC's TRO and hinting of a People Power. My gulay (hehe sorry Mr. Emil Jurado) walang dadalo diyan sa People Power na yan as I mentioned earlier. The Iglesia ni Kristo is scheduled to hold a massive gathering at the Luneta on Feb. 28 for respect for the rule of law. The search for the truth does not exempt one to disobey the law. This also applies to the prosecution, the way they have been gathering evidence.

02-19-2012, 03:28 PM
That being said I cannot help but go back to two things that CJ Corona said before this trial even started: I have nothing to hide. I will answer everything.

So let's invoke the very gasgas argument "Kung wala kang tinatago, ilabas mo na!"?

So far everything his defense team has done is to try and hide everything, especially the bank accounts of their client.

Everything? That's an unfair conclusion. I don't think it would be proper for the defense to just lay down and agree with everything. Whatever happened to the fruit of the poisonous tree? To the rights of a respondent/accused? Even a convicted criminal has so many rights, why prevent someone not yet convicted from invoking the same?

On the other hand, what have we seen from the prosecution? Fabricating evidence? Fishing expedition? Using publicity by trial?

They have not given a single straight answer,

How can they give a straight answer when it is not yet the turn of the defense to do so? They have to wait for the prosecution to rest its case.

objecting to every little thing the prosecution does.

Can we blame them? The prosecution is searching for the truth but in the process is not following the manner laid down by the law/rules. In fact, they are breaking the very same law that they themselves made.

The end does not justify the means.

Granted the way the prosecution has been doing things, even a first-year law student would find objectionable. Still, this is not a regular trial where the principles learned in Remedial Law in law school applies.

While it is undeniable that the impeachment process is sui generis, it does not necessarily follow that the prosecution can do all that they want. In the first place, impeachment is still a trial. A trial involves a process. A process requires compliance with the guidelines provided by the law/rules.

In the end this is not about how good or bad the prosecution is.

It is to a certain extent. The burden of proof is on them not with the defense. How can they shift the burden to the other side if they can't do it properly?

This is about whether or not CJ Corona remains fit to be CJ. Given everything that the prosecution has so far brought to light, the answer I feel should be in the negative. Ang hirap ng magtiwala sa isang Punong Mahistrado na may mga tinatago palang mga ganyang bagay.

What happened to the presumption of innocence? Last time I checked, a trial involves presentation of evidence by both the prosecution and the defense. Impeachment trial is no different.

Why not wait for the turn of CJ Corona to present his evidence before making a conclusion?

There is only one thing I want to hear from the defense when their turn comes: CJ Corona hid nothing. He drclared everything in his SALNs over all these years. Nothing he has is ill-gotten.

If they can make that case, then I will be the first to shake his hand when he returns trimphantly back to the Supreme Court fully vindicated, especially when I see him at the games.

I agree.

02-21-2012, 09:57 AM
I hope Pnoy has nothing to do with AMLA looking into Corona's records way back late 2010 or using such info later. This would really be a big blow to his Administration. He has bitten off more than he can chew and antagonizing simultaneously many groups like the Church, INK, the Luisita farmers and so on.

I support 100% his drive against corruption but there are many ways to do this with less collateral damage.

02-21-2012, 10:05 AM
^ Mahirap bang sabihin na "Hindi po sa akin ang bank account na 'yan" or "Lahat po talaga ng assets ko nakadeklara sa lahat ng SALN ko"...?

The minute someone has to hide behind a phalanx of lawyers and cannot even make a simple categorical declaration of ownership or denial of the same on bank accounts already found in his name, when such accounts amount now to a little over P30 million, compared to a declared net worth of only over P3 million, and starts spouting things like "They're out to get me", I tend to get leery already.

This coming from a man who is supposed to be the top judge of our country makes it all the worse. This is the man heading the highest court, who leads his court in making life-death decisions, decisions that could potentially be boon or bane to our very lives, and we cannot get a categorical statement out of him on an issue that impugns his very character and integrity as a person.

Anlakas-lakas ng loob niya kapag may mass action sila sa Supreme Court, kung ano-ano sinasabi niya, palaban na palaban. Bakit hindi niya maipamalas ang ganyan ding lakas ng loob, tapang at conviction at sabihin ng tahasan, "Hindi po sa akin ang bank account na 'yan" or "Lahat po ng assets ko nakadeklara sa lahat ng SALN ko".

Ang narinig ko pa lang "Inaapi ako ng Malacanang" tsaka "Gumaganti si Noynoy gawa ng Hacienda Lusisita". Kailan kaya maririnig ng mga tao ang "Hindi po sa akin ang bank account na 'yan" or "Lahat po ng assets ko nakadeklara sa lahat ng SALN ko"...? Sabihin lang niya 'yan, sure ako dadali ang trabaho ng msimong defense team niya, kasi the people will see that he believes in his own innocence, and he is a man wrongly accused, being made into political fodder, and they will take up his fight.

02-21-2012, 12:01 PM
Corona, being a justice, wants the process to be followed and respected. He wants the Prosecution to PROVE first their case. Without disobeying the law. It is not as simple as "if you have nothing to hide, disclose it NOW". BUT I want him to EXPLAIN when their turn comes all his properties and bank records including the dollar accounts. If he couldn't explain it, he should be convicted. Re the timely disclosure of his properties or assets, I leave it to the Senators. Some were declared one year or a few years later but they were nevertheless declared BEFORE he was impeached.

I think that, if Corona has something to hide, he should have just resigned before the trial. Otherwise he is stupid because he has everything to lose in this trial.

02-22-2012, 11:08 AM
Winnie Monsod reported that Pnoy valued the Times Street property at 2.4 million pesos. It was only recently corrected to 14.5 million pesos. Hahaha.....

The respectable Congressmen just impeached SC Justice del Castillo for plagiarism (it was actually his clerk who was at fault). Now if that is a High Crime, I wonder how they would consider obtaining and using illegal and fake documents? Malicious mischief? ;D

02-25-2012, 01:56 PM
Plagiarism is not even a crime in the Philippines :D

02-25-2012, 02:01 PM
^ Maybe the Senate shouldn't accept the complaint (is this possible?) for being frivolous ;D.

Sam Miguel
02-27-2012, 01:16 PM
From the Los Angeles Times, rather interesting ___

Prayer Banner: Atheist Teen Speaks Out, lands $44,000 scholarship

By Rene Lynch

A Rhode Island teen is learning that it pays to deny the existence of God: Prominent atheists plan to present Jessica Ahlquist with a scholarship of at least $44,000 -- and possibly more.

It seems they were impressed with the way Ahlquist, 16, handled herself amid a roiling controversy that began in July 2010, when she complained about a prayer banner hanging in the auditorium at Cranston High School West that referred to "Our Heavenly Father."

School authorities brushed off her complaint, saying the banner was artistic and historic, as it had been hanging there for decades. Ahlquist later joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a suit alleging that the banner made her feel "ostracized and out of place."

After much legal wrangling, a court ruled that the banner needed to be removed -- and an uproar ensued.

The controversy helped Ahlquist, an atheist, collect thousands of friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter.

But it also sparked outrage on behalf of many others who embraced the banner and wanted the school district to stand firm. A state legislator called Ahlquist an "evil little thing." There were death threats. The financially strapped school district spent tens of thousands on legal fees. And recall threats were lodged against the school board.

Those school board jobs are still in jeopardy; the district voted last week to end the appeals process to save money.

Blogger Hemant Mehta who writes the Friendly Atheist started a campaign to raise scholarship money for Ahlquist, and the American Humanist Assn. is also helping to oversee the fund-raising effort, which runs through the end of the month.

"The way she has handled herself throughout this whole ordeal is admirable far beyond anything most people would expect from a high school student," Mehta wrote.

So far, the fund has raised $44,000 for Ahlquist. Mehta and the association say she earned the scholarship by standing up to critics "with class and style."

Sam Miguel
02-27-2012, 01:29 PM
^^^ If an Atheist can have a prayer banner removed for offending her sensibilities, can a Catholic ask an atheist who is carrying an anti-Catholic placard to put the sign away for offending his sensibilities? After all, is this not exactly the same thing, the issue being that one person's expression of faith, or lack thereof, offends another's sensibilities?

It seems to me that this political correctness BS is getting totally out of hand. The words "our Heavenly Father" make you feel "ostracized and out of place"...? How is that the school's problem? I an understand a guy in a wheelchair demanding ramps and other access infrastructure, but a girl who feels "ostracized and out of place" because of a decades-old banner of prayer?

This smacks of yet another instance when the minority gets to have its way just because they can get better lawyers. Apparently in the US now, one can impose one's own view on others just because they feel "ostracized and out of place". Talk about reverse discrimination. The American Constitution protects all religious views, and tolerates all non-criminal expressions of religion, except apparently when a non-believer feels "ostracized and out of place".

Sam Miguel
03-02-2012, 08:09 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

Betrayal of Our Trust

By: Jose Ma. Montelibano

The legal luminaries of the land, led by a former Associate Justice and the Senate President, are highlighted in the impeachment trial of another legal VIP – the Chief Justice. The publicly televised trial has been full of legal arguments, a deluge of legal terms and protocol, as though the Filipino people are being given a lesson on law. The worthiness or unworthiness of Rene Corona to remain being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is being argued mostly from legal procedure. The Filipino people, then, are being told one thing – the law has primacy over truth, and the legal determines justice.

What happened to right or wrong? What happened to conscience? What happened to the only platform that allows Filipinos guidance over their behavior and interaction in Philippine society? What happened to the truth, the main ingredient in determining what is just or unjust?

The law happened. The lawyers happened. The Judiciary happened. And everyone and everything else moved to the sidelines so that the wang-wang of legal technicalities must be given the right of way.

We have an impeached public official. His position is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His name is Renato Corona. The crime for which the House of Representatives found him culpable of – Betrayal of Public Trust.

Much has been said that the impeachment of the Chief Justice is not just a legal case but a political process as well. Why, then, are legal procedures the basis of every step in the impeachment trial? Most Filipinos like me are not lawyers. We are not only confused about legalities which impede the truth from being revealed in its full glory, we are being given the signal that truth is conditional more than having its own inherent and crucial value in the pursuit of justice. Truth, if it does not conform to the legal protocol, is truth which cannot be admitted as a factor of judgment.

It is no wonder that many Filipinos, especially the poor, have little faith in the justice system. Because most Filipinos are not studied in law, they rely on accepted norms of right and wrong, individual and collective. They use human conscience consistently affirmed by social dynamics and religious teachings. The citizen cannot use Republic Acts and their implementing rules and regulations as their daily basis for behavior simply because making these as standard operating procedures would disable a whole society from functioning. Yet, Republic Acts and their implementing rules and regulations are not separate from the people’s norms and behavior; they are, in fact, supposed to be the very expression and affirmation of a society’s desired lifestyle and higher aspirations.

The impeachment trial of Corona tries him both as Chief Justice and a person. In the case of public officials, the law fuses the status of person and position. That is the first price that all public officials pay, the surrender of their private status in the service of their people. It is not a steep price to pay if one’s life is a transparent rendition of acceptable social behavior. In fact, it is a source of great honor when the citizen-turned-public official maintains an private and public behavior with adherence not just to norms but as shining examples of those who live and perform above the average.

The Defense Team of the impeached Chief Justice is itself led by a former Associate Justice who could not see the impropriety, or the crime, of swearing in Arturo Tolentino as president of the republic in a comical Manila Hotel fiasco. But it showed then that Serafin Cuevas’s mental construct could rationalize that he was on legal grounds in doing so. His behavior could have been perverse by the standards of greater society but his legal mind apparently justified even that. Or, just like his client today, his debt to the president who appointed him may have outweighed the common good or the higher interest of the Filipino people.

There is a law that tries, from the very beginning, to set the standard of behavior of a public official, whether elected or appointed. It may be the most violated of laws, not because it asks for too much, but because too little is given. This is the fundamental basis of compliance or betrayal of the public trust. I speak of Republic Act 6713.

Republic Act 6713: “An act establishing a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees, to uphold the time-honored principle of public office being a public trust, granting incentives and rewards for exemplary service, enumerating prohibited acts and transactions and providing penalties for violations and for other purposes.”

Title. – “This Act shall be known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.”

Declaration of Policies. – “It is the policy of the State to promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest. “

Republic Act 6713 condemns Corona as a public servant. Republic Act 6713 condemns Corona in his attempt to hide, then understate his SALN. Republic Act 6713 condemns his accumulation of money in just one bank to amounts defying transparent explanation, and trying to hide information about his dollar deposits in a moment when his very integrity, the interest of his position and that of the Supreme Court hang in the balance.

Corona does not qualify to be Chief Justice. He does not even qualify to be a public official. And, most definitely, he is not a servant of the public by his actuation and by any definition.

Republic Act 6713 disqualifies him. Many others may be condemned as well by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees but that is not an excuse to declare a guilty one innocent.

Removing Corona as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court blesses the journey to transformation of Philippine society. Keeping him exhorts the journey to the streets.

03-02-2012, 10:58 AM
^ I'd like first to listen to the Defense before I pass judgment. What I don't like however is the kind of mob rule or trial by publicity that is going on. People are quick to judge and condemn even before giving the accused a chance to be heard. Especially if you are on the other side. And if you are on the same side you are given the benefit of the doubt.

03-02-2012, 11:49 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

Betrayal of Our Trust

By: Jose Ma. Montelibano

The Filipino people, then, are being told one thing – the law has primacy over truth, and the legal determines justice.

What a statement whether one agrees with it or not. In my opinion, this impeachment trial has been a miserable failure so far. We thought it would be an improvement from the Estrada impeachment version but this thing seems to be a deterioration.

The only positive in this trial is the performance of Enrile! He has shown a balance in treating the search for the truth with the prudence of justice.

What can save this trial? This trial can be saved if Corona can clearly disprove the SALN accusations and then he is pronounced not guilty. The opposite is also true, if Corona is not able to satisfactorily explain his side of the SALN and he is convicted this thing was not a total waste of the nations time and money. This is the only issue left in this trial and I do hope that the truth prevails instead of the legalism.

Kid Cubao
03-02-2012, 02:54 PM
for me, this is a witchhunt, plain and simple. proof is the lack of evidence and the utter unpreparedness of the prosecutors. if ever there was any shred of truth of any illegally-acquired wealth by the chief justice during his incumbency, dapat lumabas na yan kahit gaano pa kapalpak ang mga naglilitis. believe me, i waited for that moment. instead what i saw the most disorganized and farcical prosecution job there ever was, and i'm a fan of the marx brothers, the three stooges, and joe pesci.

if only the impeachment process at the lower house proceeded at a more deliberate, methodical, yet thorough pace, then the prosecution team would have finished their presentation in two weeks, tops. but i half expected that they'll bungle the job, though, knowing that their intent all along was not the search for truth and justice but plain blood vindictiveness. now that the CJ has refused to be cowed by their public humiliation, what's their plan B?

Sam Miguel
03-07-2012, 09:05 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

Incompatible as Heaven and Hell

By: Manuel Camacho

In the aftermath of the temporary restraining order that the Supreme Court issued on the Senate impeachment court’s subpoena intended to inquire into the dollar accounts of Chief Justice Renato Corona, “impeachment” and “TRO” became the buzzwords of the season. But while they are mentioned together, they are as incompatible as heaven and hell for a TRO has no place in an impeachment proceeding.

The main objective in impeachment is not the protection of the rights of the respondent but the assertion of the right of the people to demand an accounting from an impeached public official. This is why the Constitution has provided safeguards to ensure that the process is shielded from unauthorized intervention.

Article XI Section 3 of the Constitution provides that only the people (whether by themselves or through their representatives in Congress) have the power to file an impeachment complaint. Thereafter, the articles of impeachment are sent to the people’s representatives in the Senate who are vested by the Constitution with the sole power to try and decide all cases of impeachment, to the exclusion of all other courts, even the Supreme Court.

It was an unauthorized act of interference on the part of the Supreme Court to have issued the controversial TRO. The tribunal managed to save face only with assistance from the Senate impeachment court, which erroneously voted to respect the TRO on the mistaken belief that it is coequal with the Supreme Court.

But when the legislative branch of government sets in motion the unique process of impeachment, it is no longer coequal with the executive and judicial branches. On the contrary, it is now empowered to charge and accuse, to put on trial, and to decide the fate of the highest ranking members of the executive or judicial branches, depending on which officials are being impeached. To extend courtesy, therefore, to these other branches on any matter related to the impeachment trial would be to make a mockery of the impeachment process.

The people, through their representatives to the constitutional convention, have vested on the Senate impeachment court the sole, absolute and exclusive power to try and decide impeachment cases. This plenary power includes the prerogative to make any action, process, subpoena, writ, or order necessary to carry out its objectives without interference from any other court, body, entity, or tribunal.

Consequently, the last paragraph of Article XI Section 3 of the Constitution provides that Congress may make its own rules on impeachment. It is not obliged to strictly follow the Rules of Court which is used in ordinary court proceedings.

In compliance with its constitutional mandate, the Senate drafted and adopted its own rules of procedure on impeachment trials, which sets in detail its power to, among others, compel the attendance of witnesses; to enforce obedience to its orders, mandates, writs and judgments; to preserve order; and to punish in a summary way contempt of, and disobedience to, its authority, orders, mandates, writs, or judgments.

If a person summoned by the Senate impeachment court has any objection to any process or order of the impeachment court, he cannot ask for a TRO from the Supreme Court or any other court, body, tribunal, or government agency.

Under the Senate rules, such a person may make an oral or written motion, like a “motion for reconsideration,” for instance, but he must present this only to the presiding officer of the Senate impeachment court.

It is significant that nowhere in the Constitution is there any provision for judicial review or intervention in any matter pertaining to impeachment.

Thus, when Philippine Savings Bank ran to the Supreme Court to ask for a TRO, it defied the Constitution as well as the Senate impeachment rules. But the irregularity did not stop there; it was compounded when the high court issued the TRO without authority, and multiplied thrice over when the Senate impeachment court decided to abide by the TRO out of misplaced courtesy to the high court.

As a final note, in view of recent developments in the impeachment trial where some senator-judges have obviously shown their biases and their dislike for certain parties in the trial, it might be timely to state that senator-judges are required to be neutral, fair, objective and unprejudiced. Personal opinions attacking certain parties have no place in what is supposed to be a dignified and impartial proceeding such as an impeachment case.

As a nation, we are just now learning the finer points and the intricacies of impeachment. As the trial unfolds on a day to day basis, we are in the process of making history. It would be a shame if future generations read their history books only to get the mistaken impression that an impeachment trial is an occasion for prejudice and unfairness.

03-07-2012, 11:44 AM
^ If a person is compelled to appear as a witness and refuses to answer a question or questions on the ground that it will incriminate him/her, what is the Senate, sitting as a powerful impeachment court, going to do?

Or can they guarantee immunity from prosecution if they, for example, forced the PSB witnesses to divulge the dollar accounts of Corona in violation of existing laws?

Re Sen. Santiago, she should tone it down a bit but consigning her to the fires of hell is too much ;). There was no hatred, or malice, when she said the word g*go. Just inis and pabongga. In fact she didn't object to the prosecution making a motion to strike out the word.

Sam Miguel
03-14-2012, 07:42 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

An Inconvenient Truth

When it was convenient for them, Chief Justice Renato Corona and his defense team had no hesitation in bringing up the name of Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. to account for gaps in his financial records. All those undeclared multimillion-peso properties, for instance. They were supposedly partly financed by an P11-million “cash advance” Corona received from BGEI, which used to be a corporation jointly owned by his wife Cristina and her relatives, until the latter sued her for estafa and she counter-attacked with a libel charge. Now the corporation has become completely hers, or so she says—a claim that the defense lawyers have dutifully echoed.

Next, when Philippine Savings Bank officials revealed under oath that Cristina, on the basis of her husband’s authorization, closed three accounts in the bank to the tune of P37.7 million on Dec. 12, 2011, the day the Chief Justice was impeached, the defense was quick to bring up BGEI again. The money wasn’t declared in Corona’s statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, they said, simply because it wasn’t his but was his wife’s—the purported proceeds from the sale of a property owned by her company, which the Chief Justice merely deposited in his personal bank account for safekeeping. Later, Corona would say—not under oath, but to the media during his recent radio and TV blitz—that he grew distrustful of PSBank upon hearing that some of its staff may be disclosing his confidential bank details to the prosecution. He decided to withdraw all the money from the three accounts, which he then promptly deposited in a new account—in the same bank.

But never mind for now such bizarre behavior from a supposedly discontented bank depositor. What Corona’s defense lawyers have consistently done every time their client’s finances have raised troubling questions is to trot out an expedient rejoinder in the form of BGEI. They’ve not bothered to explain why, if indeed the corporation were Cristina’s and therefore part of the couple’s conjugal property, it was not included in any of the Chief Justice’s SALNs. Whether in the form of a multimillion-peso loan or a well-timed sale of a prime lot, the now-defunct corporation’s raison d’être seems to be to provide Corona an easy way out of his glaring SALN omissions.

In the past days, however, the defense has been singing a different tune. The Basa family members, apparently, have no standing at all to speak up about the corporation that bears their name, and in the name of which the Chief Justice has hoisted his counter-argument. According to defense spokesperson Tranquil Salvador, Cristina’s cousin Ana Basa and her 90-year-old aunt, Sister Flory Basa, or any of the other kin who have anything to say about the family corporation, cannot be presented by the prosecution as rebuttal witnesses in the impeachment trial because a rebuttal only answers “new matters raised by the defense.” It is a phrase doubtless dear and familiar to crafty lawyers like himself, but a weary public can very well view it as simply another obstruction to hearing the truth about Corona’s fitness for the post he holds.

It was Corona’s lawyers that made BGEI a central plank of their plea for his case. It was they who repeatedly invoked the family corporation as a ready cover or justification for Corona’s unreported assets and transactions. Why is it that now that Ana Basa and her aunt have come out with a different narrative—a story that credibly challenges Cristina’s alleged sole ownership of the corporation and, as a consequence, any activity it might have entered into, such as lending Corona P11 million when BGEI itself had ceased to exist per the records of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and selling off multimillion-peso properties whose proceeds are then placed in the bank accounts of someone who is not even part of the corporation—suddenly the matter is out of bounds, irrelevant to the case, and beyond scrutiny?

Corona’s lawyers must think this is all a game of lawyerly posturing, and the search for truth can go hang. Now that their convenient prop has stirred to life with an alternate, devastatingly contrary story, they’re trying to wish it away with the hope that the public would not demand answers to some very basic questions about their favorite excuse. This should not be allowed. The impeachment court would be remiss if it settles for spin instead of asking Corona those hard questions.

Sam Miguel
03-14-2012, 07:49 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

More Skeletons in Corona’s Closet

By: Neal H Cruz

“Why are you coming out with these allegations only now?” the defense lawyers of Chief Justice Renato Corona are asking, after Ana Basa, daughter of one of the original stockholders of Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI), narrated in detail in a two-part interview with the Inquirer how her family was “oppressed by the Coronas.”

The simple answer to the “Why only now?” question is that it’s human instinct to seek self-preservation. Fear of death is a natural human instinct. You don’t want to feel the business end of a pistol pressed against your forehead. And given the circumstances under which the Basa family found themselves after an internal squabble tore the BGEI apart—as narrated by Basa, with Corona himself pointing a gun at the head of the caretaker of a BGEI-owned property when he was already a Malacañang official in 1997—you take threats to your security seriously. (The caretaker, Pedro Aguilon, is now dead but he executed an affidavit on Oct. 15, 1997 when he was 83 years old.)

Basa herself said: “Nanahimik na nga kami, eh.” (We have, in fact, been keeping quiet.) We wanted to put this behind us. But when we learned that Corona was using BGEI as a cover-up for his unexplained wealth, we had to come forward to set the record straight. We cannot stand being used as his excuse after everything he has done to our family.”

In one of his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) submitted to the impeachment court, Corona claimed that he obtained an P11-million loan from BGEI. But how could Corona have obtained a loan from BGEI when the company established in 1961 had been dormant the past decade after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked its certificate of registration for repeated failure to submit financial reports?

There are other pertinent questions that should be asked. What was the purported loan for? Did it go through the proper procedure? Was there a meeting of the BGEI Board of Directors to approve the loan? What documents can Corona show that indeed he obtained a loan from BGEI and that BGEI approved his loan application? How was Corona able to obtain a loan from BGEI when he claims he never took an active part in BGEI’s corporate affairs? Did Cristina, his wife, as administrator approve the loan by her lonesome?

Corona’s defense lawyers are now claiming that the P31 million in three different PSBank time deposits that were suspiciously withdrawn on Dec. 12, 2011—the same day that Corona was impeached by the House of Representatives—came from BGEI.

But why would BGEI funds be deposited in Renato Corona’s name? If these funds were conjugal property and held in a joint account, why did Corona need to authorize his wife Cristina to withdraw the amount, as Cristina could have done so herself without securing her husband’s authorization?

Even if Cristina were the duly authorized administrator of BGEI, the P34 million from the sale of BGEI’s Bustillos property should have been deposited in a BGEI corporate account, not in her own, or Renato’s, personal accounts. Basa’s apprehensions as to where BGEI funds have gone are therefore not without basis.

The argument of Corona’s lawyers that the P36 million in his bank deposits is not ill-gotten and does not belong to Corona is beside the point and is a twisting of facts.

But how could they deny the clear facts?

One, P36 million was found in Corona’s bank accounts. Two, he did not declare this amount in his SALNs. And three, he suspiciously withdrew this huge amount on the day that he was impeached. It is obvious that Corona’s lawyers are getting more desperate in trying to find ways to extricate him from the mess of his own making.

When cornered, squirt more black ink on your adversaries. That’s standard squid tactics that Corona learned well, now that the tables are turned and he’s the one on the dock instead of behind the judge’s podium. And painting his opponents in black is what Corona has been doing since he was impeached in December last year by the House.

Corona has branded Basa’s revelations as “all lies.” That’s easy to say. But does he deny that he once pointed a gun at the head of a caretaker way back in 1997 and said “Baka gusto mo pasabugin ko ang ulo mo”? The 67-year-old caretaker died not long after the incident, but not before executing an affidavit saying that it was indeed Renato Corona who pointed a gun at him.

This is the man who wants to continue sitting as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?

* * *

Here are excerpts from the affidavit of Aguilon, the caretaker:

“…Sa pagitan ng alas 7 at alas 8 ng gabi (of Jan. 2, 1997) matapos kong makabalik sa Lepanto, dumating ang mag-asawang Cristina at Renato Corona. Galit ang mag-asawa at pasigaw na tinanong ako ni Cristina kung bakit hindi ko inilagay ang kandado na iniwan niya sa Bustillos.

“Mahinahon akong sumagot na hindi kasya ang kandadong iniwan nila kung kaya’t napilitan (gamitin) ang dating kandado upang maisara ang pinto. Sa puntong ito, tinutukan ako ng baril ni Renato sa mukha at sabay sigaw ng ‘Baka gustong mong pasabugin kita.’ Tinanong ko siya kung bakit, subalit hindi ko na nahintay ang kanyong sagot dahil hindi na ako makahinga sa sobrang kaba ng aking dibdib, dahan-dahan akong lumakad papalayo.”

Sam Miguel
03-15-2012, 07:59 AM
Lest we forget that not everything is about the current impeachment trial, lead editorial from the Inquirer ___

Ripe for Reckoning

The controversy over the $329-million National Broadband Network deal between the Philippine government and China’s ZTE Corp. has yet to see closure no matter that it was ultimately scuttled and much water has since flowed under the bridge. Testimonies of greed that necessitated expert “mitigation” and of moneymaking so aggressive that it would not be ignored even in a milieu of excess (“bubukol”) have yet to vanish into the interstices of collective memory. Indeed, the NBN-ZTE deal, with its purported overprice of $130 million to cover bribes, the payment of which was to have been shouldered by Filipino taxpayers, is one of the scandals that require just resolution if the Aquino administration is to make good on its anticorruption promise.

The arrest warrants issued on Tuesday by the Sandiganbayan on former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Mike Arroyo, former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos and former Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza raise the possibility of the matter being settled once and for all. The project to install a high-speed telecommunications network linking government agencies nationwide, actually a logical undertaking in a country aspiring to firm up a niche among the developing nations, was such a plum involving top-drawer personalities that it collapsed under the weight of all that wheeling and dealing. The bare bones of it appear to be that highly placed operators padded the project cost to get the enterprise going and make all the concerned parties happy, except that an important character bridled at finding himself the odd man out and forthwith blew the whistle. As in a morality play, thus began the unraveling, aided by the astoundingly bold abduction of a man who knew where the bodies are buried, so to speak. Now, after being snowed under by the flurries of other scandals, all but lost in the nether world of unfinished business, the case seems ripe for reckoning.

It’s about time. Recall that the sordid details came to light in a Senate investigation late in 2007 that enjoyed live media coverage and intense public attention, much like today’s impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Then as now, crucial points in the narrative—for example, conversations occurring in the golf games commonly used as occasions for persons of influence to pull rank (“Back off!”) or turn on the charm (“Sec, may 200 ka dito”)—emerged to be pieced together, producing a familiar tale of huge sums of money and the wielding of great power. With all that has been said and the initial cases filed, never mind that two against Arroyo and her husband were dropped by the Office of the Ombudsman in August 2009 (for immunity against suit and absence of evidence, respectively), would attentive observers not nurse the suspicion that a pooh-bah such as Abalos was fronting for the then first couple? Why would the elections chair be involved in a communications project, in the first place, if not for the gravy train? (The man stood to earn a commission of more than $100 million, according to the Senate testimony of government consultant Rodolfo Lozada Jr.) And why would Arroyo tear herself away from the side of her then gravely ill husband in April 2007 to fly to China to witness the signing of the contract despite being informed earlier by then Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri of Abalos’ purported bribe offer to ensure the deal’s approval?

Arroyo scrapped the NBN-ZTE contract five months later, in September 2007, as a concession to loud allegations of bribery and of her husband’s meddling in the big-ticket project. But it’s time for questions to be posed—and answered—including the not insignificant matter of why she agreed to a golf game and then some with ZTE officials at the company’s headquarters in China in 2006, when the proposed deal was still being appraised by her administration. It’s time for Neri to break his puzzling silence on Arroyo and to explain his own golf games and other meetings with Abalos even after the latter’s purported bribe offer. It’s time for Mike Arroyo to definitively disprove the moneybags tag. Yes, call in the rest of the dramatis personae—the Jose de Venecias (father and son), the ZTE officials, Mendoza and the major and minor communications officials concerned, Lozada, even then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

It’s time to begin to clear the murky arena of government contracts and the Byzantine ways with which taxpayers get shafted.

Sam Miguel
03-16-2012, 08:16 AM
Speaking of taxpayers getting shafted, from the Inquirer ___

Those Strange Government Allowances

By: Raul C. Pangalangan

The impeachment trial can also be educational. The Filipino public is just now getting a glimpse of the strange life of government employees. The Supreme Court’s chief disbursement officer rattled off the various allowances paid to Chief Justice Renato Corona: Rata (or representation allowance/travel allowance), Pera (or personnel economic relief allowance), “productivity enhancement benefit, Christmas cash gift, additional Christmas cash gift and yearend cash gift.” And we thought only government corporations were running out of names for the bonuses they give their executives!

The reactions have been varied. Some people are surprised that government salaries and benefits can be decent, after all. Some are aghast that allowances are paid at all for additional work. The prosecution asks that allowances be supported by receipts showing that they have been used only for their specified purpose. Following that logic, if someone collects his travel allowance, why should he still use an official car and all its accompanying perks, like a driver, fuel, insurance and maintenance—all at government expense? That’s like having your travel allowance and eating it, too. But again, if we apply that test to the Chief Justice, maybe we should apply the same test to all the Supreme Court justices, and for that matter, all government officials across the board without exception!

It may look weird to the public that the salary is just a fraction of the Chief Justice’s take-home pay, that his allowances can be very substantial, and that some of them are paid regardless of their designated purpose. But why has it become the practice, as the high court’s chief disbursement officer testified? It’s all because salaries are fixed under the rules on salary standardization, while the Supreme Court’s constitutionally protected “fiscal autonomy” gives it more flexibility with its budget and allows it to convert its unspent funds into all sorts of bonuses for its staff. Thus the earlier tiff between Malacañang and the Supreme Court. The budget department noticed that personnel positions in the judiciary were being left unfilled and their budget reallocated for bonuses. Accordingly, it insisted that judiciary personnel funds be released only as each vacancy was filled.

In a way, it’s also a strategy to avoid the taxman, and this is something that the government merely picked up from the private sector. By thus characterizing the moneys as allowances, the government enables its employees to reduce their tax payments and indirectly augments their income even more. Finally, since allowances are not governed by the strict rules on promotions and salaries, the gods in each government office are able to custom-tailor the benefits as they wish. This is a perennial source of grievance of rank-and-file judiciary employees: that those closer to the gods in Padre Faura actually get a much heftier share of the funds each time.

What the public can learn from the Corona trial is the inner structure of incentives and rewards. Who would have thought that those House and Senate electoral tribunals paid allowances that dwarfed the monthly salaries of other professional staffs in government? On the other hand, is it realistic for us to think that the Chief Justice actually performed the social obligations of his post on his measly representation allowance? The impeachment trial has thus far resulted in a more detailed statement of assets, liabilities and net worth—far too detailed and burdensome, our congressmen say. Perhaps one legacy of this trial is a thorough review of these allowances, a more frank description of their nature and purposes, and a more candid approach to fixing the perks of government office. In other words, if in the end, we really pay, say, P200,000 a month for a high-level government official, and if after all funds have always been available to sustain those payments, why go through the fiction of paying them small salaries, and then paying the rest in allowances and bonuses of all sorts?

Singapore is surely wealthier than the Philippines but it has openly declared that its top government officials are paid salaries that match those of top executives in their leading corporations. This guarantees that they are able to recruit high-quality leaders to the top echelons of the government and who, once in office, would have no incentive to steal or cheat.

(On the other hand, note the downside. A dissident Singaporean lawyer, a former solicitor general [now in exile in Cambridge, Massachusetts], has written that Singapore’s chief justice is the highest paid chief justice in the whole world and that, in effect, it is built-in corruption. It’s like the bribe is tucked into his salary and, once appointed, he has no incentive whatsoever to rock the boat.)

The tragedy of the allowance/bonus regime is that the government ends up paying big amounts, just the same, but the government official still thinks he’s getting paid too little. A straightforward salary regime would be more forthright. It will be easier to administer. It will be more transparent and will be better regulated as a systemic reward for good performance, and not as a personal gift from a well-placed patron.

At least, with the “Christmas cash gift, additional Christmas cash gift and yearend cash gift,” the labels themselves were telling, in the sense of a surprise present for the Christmas holidays. It’s the less candid “allowances” that are more troubling, and that dare the impeachment court to accept the legal fictions of life in the Philippines, or to insist that the Chief Justice respect the labels as binding in fact and in law.

03-16-2012, 09:02 AM
^ Dapat pala bumalik na lang ako sa gobyerno... :-X

Ay, nasa gobyerno na nga pala ako ulit, sort of... ;D

03-16-2012, 09:50 AM
Just like Karen Jimeno, I think Corona shouldn't have accepted his midnight appointment. But the trial should be fair so most Filipinos will accept the verdict. The other charges, like loyalty to Arroyo, flipflopping and so forth are not important to me. What is important is for Corona to explain his wealth.

The Defense should prove that all of Corona's properties were declared in his SALN. And his money deposits including the dollar accounts should be listed and explained. Whether it is assessed or fair market values is secondary as long as the properties were declared and described in the SALN. One can already start an investigation into ill-gotten wealth by looking into these properties. Acquisition cost is only important during the year the property was acquired. What is the relevance of acquisition cost of a property bought in 2002, for example, in 2011?

The Defense should diagram the money flow during the period 2002-2011. On the one side of the ledger is the acquisition cost of these properties during the applicable year. Where did Corona get the money for these purchases? From savings. From his total income as Justice and Chief Justice (less personal and household expenses). From sale of properties. From loans. And so on. The movement in his bank deposits should also be scrutinized.

If these don't substantially match, he should be convicted. Otherwise, he should be acquitted.

Joe, yun mga matataas lang sa gobyerno ang nakakakuha niyan. Mga directorships. Mga allowances and board meetings. Bonuses (Christmas bonus, additional Christmas bonus, yearend bonus hahaha). Remember yun mga directors ng NAWASA or Metropolitan Waterworks na ata ang bagong pangalan? I think they just ran out of names to describe the hundreds of bonuses and allowances they awarded themselves hahaha.

03-16-2012, 03:25 PM
Sort of political, but should hit home for many of us, from the New York Times - - -

The Myth of the ‘Student-Athlete’


People often dismiss philosophical disputes as mere quibbles about words. But shifts in terminology can turn the tide in public debates. Think of the advantage Republicans gained when discussion of the Affordable Health Care Act became discussion of “Obamacare.” (Conversely, suppose we talked about “Bush-ed” instead of “No Child Left Behind”). Or consider how much thinking about feminism has changed with the demise of “men” as a term for people in general.

By lowering academic standards for athletes, universities help to marginalize the intellectual enterprise.
.These thoughts about philosophy and language occur to me as a significant portion of our nation takes part in the mounting frenzy of “March Madness,” the national college basketball championship. Throughout the tournament, announcers and commentators careful enough to heed the insistence of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, will refer to the players as “student-athletes.”

But is this term accurate? Or should we perhaps leave it behind for a more honest and precise name?

The term “student-athletes” implies that all enrolled students who play college sports are engaged in secondary (“extra-curricular”) activities that enhance their education. Their status, the term suggests, is essentially the same as members of the debate team or the band. As the N.C.A.A. puts it, “Student-athletes must, therefore, be students first.”

There are, of course, many cases of athletes who are primarily students, particularly in “minor” (i.e., non-revenue producing) sports. But what about Division I football and men’s basketball, the big-time programs with revenues in the tens of millions of dollars that are a major source of their schools’ national reputation? Are the members of these teams typically students first?

The N.C.A.A.’s own 2011 survey showed that by a wide variety of measures the answer is no. For example, football and men’s basketball players (who are my primary focus here) identify themselves more strongly as athletes than as students, gave more weight in choosing their college to athletics than to academics, and, at least in season, spend more time on athletics than on their studies (and a large majority say they spend as much or more time on sports during the off-season).

The same priority is reflected in the colleges’ own practices. Football and men’s basketball players are admitted and given full scholarships almost entirely because of their athletic abilities. Academic criteria for their admission are far below those for other students (for example, their average SAT scores are about 200 points lower than those of nonathletes). Realistically, given the amount of time most such athletes devote to their sports, they would have to be academically superior to the average student to do as well in their classes. As a result, according to another N.C.A.A. report, the graduation rate (given six years to complete the degree) for football players is 16 percent below the college average, and the rate for men’s basketball players is 25 percent below. Even these numbers understate the situation, since colleges provide underqualified athletes with advisers who point them toward easier courses and majors and offer extraordinary amounts of academic coaching and tutoring, primarily designed to keep athletes eligible to play.

It’s clear, then, that on the whole members of these teams are athletes first and students second, both from their own standpoint and from that of their schools.

Of course, many supporters of college athletics see no problem here. They think that athletics provides great entertainment, develops loyalty to schools, and has itself an important educational role for team members — not to mention the millions of dollars it brings in. So what’s the harm if high-profile players are more athletes than students?

At a minimum, there’s the harm of saying that players are primarily students when they are not. This is a falsehood institutionalized for the benefit of a profit-making system, and educational institutions should have no part in it.

The deeper harm, however, lies in the fact that, in the United States, there is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism that undervalues intellectual culture and overvalues athletics. As a result, intellectual culture receives far less support than it should, and is generally regarded as at best the idiosyncratic interest of an eccentric minority. Athletics, by contrast, is more than generously funded and embraced as an essential part of our national life.

When colleges, our main centers of intellectual culture, lower standards of academic excellence in order to increase standards of athletic excellence, they implicitly support the popular marginalization of the intellectual enterprise. It is often said that the money brought in by athletics supports educational programs. But the large majority of schools lose money on athletics, and the fact that some depend on sports income confirms, in monetary terms, the perceived superiority of athletics.

To show proper respect for and support of their own central values, colleges need to ensure that their athletes truly are students first of all. To do this they could look no further than their standard practice regarding nonathletic extracurricular activities. They could take account of athletic potential in the admission process the same way they do potential for debate, theater, student government or service projects. All admitted students would have to fall within the same range of academic ability, with exceptionally talented athletes meeting the same standards as applicants with exceptional talents in other areas.

Such a move should be obvious for the many schools that lose large amounts of money on their athletic programs and have relatively little success with them. (I don’t, however, underestimate the pressures to continue even such disastrous programs.) But there’s little practical point to suggesting this move to colleges that make large amounts of money from athletics and strongly identify themselves with winning at the highest level.

Still, it’s hard to see how even these schools can maintain the myth that their revenue-producing players are primarily students, particularly as the moral case grows stronger for paying the athletes who are central to the tens of millions of dollars some teams bring in each year. But there is a way that profit-making athletic powerhouses could avoid the hypocrisy of the student-athlete.

They could admit athletes who fall far short of their regular academic criteria as “associate students” (or maybe even “athlete-students”), who take just two or three courses a term and are not expected to receive a bachelor’s degree after four years. They would instead receive an associate’s degree (like that currently awarded by some colleges), which would, after four years, put them in a position to gain regular admission to a college where they could complete a bachelor’s degree in two more years. (There would, of course, still be athletes who met standard criteria of admission and so would be expected to earn a regular degree in four years.)

This would end the bad faith involved in pretending that unqualified students, devoted primarily to playing sports, could truly earn a bachelor’s degree. But it would also give a significant educational purpose to the under-qualified athlete’s four years on campus.

Although this is hardly an ideal solution, it’s better than trying to maintain the myth of the student-athlete. But what a magnificent gesture it would be if, say, a school with a legendary and lucrative football program could find the courage to give up the money and the glory for a ringing endorsement of intellectual values.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2012, 09:31 AM
From the NY Times ___

Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom?


In their book “Freakonomics,” Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt explain, among other things, the odd economic behavior that guides many drug dealers. In one gang they described, the typical street-corner guy made less than minimum wage but still worked extremely hard in hopes of some day becoming one of the few wildly rich kingpins. This behavior isn’t isolated to illegal activity. There are a number of professions in which workers are paid, in part, with a figurative lottery ticket. The worker accepts a lower-paying job in exchange for a slim but real chance of a large, future payday.

Deep thoughts this week:

1. Hollywood is the most glamorous lottery-style business in the U.S. economy.

2. It’s hardly the only one.

3. But now the Plan B jobs are evaporating.

This more or less explains Hollywood. Yes, the Oscars may be an absurd spectacle of remarkably successful people congratulating themselves for work that barely nudges at the borders of meaningful human achievement. But it’s also a celebration of a form of meritocratic capitalism. I’m not talking about the fortunes lavished on extremely good looking people; no, I mean the economic system that compels lots of young people to work extremely hard for little pay so that it’s possible to lavish fortune on the good-looking people. That’s the spirit of meritocratic capitalism!

Hollywood is, in some ways, the model lottery industry. For most companies in the business, it doesn’t make economic sense to, as Google does, put promising young applicants through a series of tests and then hire only the small number who pass. Instead, it’s cheaper for talent agencies and studios to hire a lot of young workers and run them through a few years of low-paying drudgery. (Actors are another story altogether. Many never get steady jobs in the first place.) This occupational centrifuge allows workers to effectively sort themselves out based on skill and drive. Over time, some will lose their commitment; others will realize that they don’t have the right talent set; others will find that they’re better at something else.

When it’s time to choose who gets the top job or becomes partner, managers subsequently have a lot more information to work with. In the meantime, companies also get the benefit of several years of hard work from determined young people at below-market pay. (Warner Brothers pays its mailroom clerks $25,000 to $30,000, a little more than an apprentice plumber.) While far from perfect, this strategy has done a pretty decent job of pushing those with real promise to the top. Barry Diller and David Geffen each started his career in the William Morris mailroom.

Hollywood is merely the most glamorous industry that puts new entrants — whether they’re in the mailroom, picking up dry cleaning for a studio head or waiting on tables between open-call auditions — through a lottery system. Even glamour-free industries offer economic-lottery systems. Young, ambitious accountants who toil away at a Big Four firm may have modest expectations of glory, but they’ll be millionaires if they make partner. The same goes at law firms, ad agencies and consulting firms. Startups explicitly use a lottery system, known as stock options, to entice young people to work for nothing. Wall Street, however, is a special case. It offers extremely high entry salaries and enormous potential earnings.

Even professions that can’t offer as much in the way of riches operate as a lottery system. Academia, nonprofit groups, book publishers and public-radio production companies also put their new recruits through various forms of low-paid hazing, holding out the promise of, well, more low pay but in a job that provides, for some, something more important than money: satisfaction. In the language of economics, these people are consuming their potential wages in happiness. (Honestly, economists talk this way.)

This system is unfair and arbitrary and often takes advantage of many people who don’t really have a shot at the big prize. But it is far preferable to the parts of our economy where there are no big prizes waiting. That mailroom clerk at Warner Brothers may make less than a post office clerk (maybe even half as much), but the latter has less chance of a significant promotion. Workers in retail sales, clerical settings, low-skill manufacturing and other fields tend to have loose, uncommitted bonds to their industries, and their employers have even looser commitments to them. These jobs don’t offer a bright future precisely because they don’t require a huge amount of skill, and therefore there’s no need to do much merit-sorting.

But part of the American post-World War II economic miracle was that most people didn’t have to choose between a high-stakes-lottery job or a lousy dead-end one. Steelworkers, midlevel corporate executives, shopkeepers and plumbers were all able to make a decent amount from the start of their careers with steady, but never spectacular, raises throughout. These two tiers actually supported each other. Strivers were able to dream bigger because they had a solid Plan B. New York City and Los Angeles are buoyed by teachers, store owners, arts administrators and others who came to town to make it big in film or music or publishing, eventually gave up on that dream and ended up doing fine in another field.

Now, many economists fear that the comfortable Plan B jobs are disappearing. Technology and cheaper goods from overseas have replaced many of the not-especially-creative professions. A tax accountant loses clients to TurboTax; many graphic designers have been replaced by Photoshop; and the small shopkeeper by Home Depot, Walmart or Duane Reade. Though a lottery economy is valuable to various industries, the thought of an entire lottery-based economy, in which a few people win big while the rest are forced to toil in an uncertain and not terribly remunerative dead-end labor pool, is unfair and politically scary. If large numbers of people believe they have no shot at a better life in the future, they will work less hard and generate fewer new ideas and businesses. The economy, as a whole, will be poorer.

It’s not clear what today’s eager 23-year-old will do in 5 or 10 years when she decides that acting (or that accounting partnership) isn’t going to work out after all. The best advice may be to accept that economic success in America will come as much from the labor lottery as from hard work and tenacity. The Oscars make clear that there is only so much room at the top. In a lottery-based economy, you need some luck, too; now, perhaps, more than ever. People should be prepared to enter a few different lotteries, because the new Plan B is just going to be another long shot in a different field. The role model of our time should be an actress who was never nominated for an Oscar. Hedy Lamarr did well enough on the screen but, just in case, she spent her free time developing something called frequency-hopping spread-spectrum. It’s a wireless-communication technique still in use in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Not bad for a fallback.

03-20-2012, 04:38 PM
Just like Karen Jimeno, I think Corona shouldn't have accepted his midnight appointment.

If Corona didn't, how can PNoy appoint a CJ?

Remember that the CJ is the ex-officio chairman of the JBC so if GMA didn't appoint Puno's successor (or Corona refused to accept), how in the world can the JBC convene without a chairman?

03-21-2012, 11:36 AM
^ This was once explained by Fr Bernas. As I recall his explanation, if the vacancy in the JBC is the Chief Justice mismo, the other members of the JBC can still convene, gather a quorum and continue with its functions until such time as a new Chief Justice is officially sworn into office and then takes his place anew in the JBC. Hindi naman titigil ang trabaho ng JBC just because bakante ang pwesto ng Chief Justice.

03-22-2012, 11:06 AM
And the SC can still function without a CJ for just a short time. Like a CJ is on vacation or sick leave for 2 months. The most senior Justice will be the presiding officer, isn't it? I just don't like midnight appointments unless they are absolutely necessary.

Sam Miguel
03-23-2012, 07:42 AM
From the Inquirer's main editorial ___

Gun-grabbing Killings

Mayor Alfredo Lim of Manila has come to the defense of police officers Ramir Dimagiba and Rodel Benitez, who were slapped homicide charges by the Manila Police District for the fatal shooting of two detainees in the MPD headquarters on the night of March 13. Per the police account, detainee Roderick Soliveres, 28, was emptying the cell potty in the toilet on orders of Dimagiba when he grabbed the cop’s gun, which accidentally went off and hit his cohort and co-detainee Cecilio Bacolo Jr., 19. Benitez then rushed to the scene and shot Soliveres dead. A day earlier, Lim was reported as having extracted from Soliveres and Bacolo a confession that they had raped and murdered a 7-year-old girl.

A former MPD chief himself, Lim said Dimagiba and Benitez deserved commendation rather than an investigation. But the mayor misses the point. A commendation for what? For killing detained suspects in their custody? At the least, the episode should show another instance of police incompetence. The fact that it took place right in the headquarters of “Manila’s Finest,” as the MPD historically bills itself, should show that police incompetence has become worse. Or that policemen have lost their mystique. Apparently, gone are the days when a citizen would flee at the sight of cops for fear of being fleeced or of suffering the brunt of their drunken illegal discharge. The botched rescue of foreign tourists taken hostage by an ex-cop at Rizal Park in 2010 (in which Mayor Lim and the MPD were involved, and which resulted in the Philippines’ humiliation in the global community) and the toilet incident on March 13 have exposed Manila policemen for what they are: not the “Finest,” but bungling cops of the Mack Sennet Keystone variety; characters straight from, not “CSI” or “Hawaii Five-O,” but slapstick.

But what happened on March 13 is not funny. Two men who had allegedly confessed to raping and killing a child in order to satisfy their lust after reading smut were killed while in police detention. While some people may claim that Soliveres and Bacolo got their bloody but just desserts for their confessed actions, it is incumbent on the state to put them through the judicial process and, if found guilty, impose on them the maximum punishment. No shortcuts.

Of course, for Mayor Lim, who earned the moniker “Dirty Harry” for his controversial anticrime methods, no question lingers. The cops gave Soliveres his due for allegedly grabbing their gun, accidentally killing his cohort, and trying to kill them. The incident is as bright as day for Lim, who had obviously been convinced of their guilt even before he got their confession. (When the two men were presented to him on March 12, the mayor asked them pointblank in Filipino: “Can you still sleep soundly after what you’ve done?”)

Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Rosales and the National Police Commission are backing an investigation of the March 13 incident, noting an apparent pattern involving MPD detainees being killed after allegedly snatching their police escort’s firearm. The circumstances are indeed suspicious. Last month, Chinese national Gong Shu Yang, a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend Zhao Chun Lan, allegedly shot himself after taking his escort’s pistol while on board a service vehicle on the way to the prosecutor’s office. Also last month, a criminology student arrested for allegedly shooting a cop was also killed for purportedly snatching the gun of an officer who was taking him to a hospital for a checkup.

The fact that policemen have become the target of gun-snatching by their detainees should indicate a new criminal pathology or a worsening laxity on the cops’ part to protect their weapons. If they can’t even prevent criminals from snatching their firearms, then how can they be entrusted with public safety and order? The question arises: Have Manila cops become wimps and hopelessly incompetent?

On the other hand, there is the suspicion of extrajudicial killing. But if policemen shortcut the rules or do away with them altogether, on the assumption that suspects are guilty anyway and should not enjoy due process and the presumption of innocence, they foster a self-serving regime where no rules apply, competence is considered alien, and ruthlessness becomes the norm.

Peace-loving and law-abiding citizens should not entrust public safety and order to savages and cold-blooded killers.

Sam Miguel
03-23-2012, 07:53 AM
^^^ I find it silly that the Inquirer should automatically question Fred Lim's version of events, even going back to the good mayor's street moniker "Dirty Harry". If indeed any foul play happened that resulted in the deaths of these detainees then by all means let us nail the cops who did it. Unfortunately the best way to prove that is through eyewitness testimony, which we no longer have since the crooks themselves were the ones who got killed.

It is also rather silly to equate a detainee's brazenness in attempting to take a cop's sidearm with police incompetence. What does a cop's incompetence have to do with a detainee attempting to take their sidearm? One has nothing to do with the other. Even the most professional, dedicated and experienced cop surely would do the exact same thing these Manila cops did if a detainee tried to take their sidearm. For that matter, regardless of how well-trained and professional any cop is, if a detainee gets it into his head to try to take the cop's pistol and make a break for it, there is really nothing that cop can do except do what he can to prevent the taking and escape.

A detainee I think would by all means attempt to escape custody, especially when accused of a crime as serious as the rape and murder of a 7-year old girl. That he would try to take a cop's pistol really should not surprise anybody. At the same time, if such an attempt was made, what is the cop in question to do? Let the sombich just take his gun? Get his a-- killed and possibly allow the detainee to escape?

03-23-2012, 08:10 AM
Dirty Harry! ;D

Sam Miguel
03-23-2012, 08:12 AM
From the Inquirer ___

I Beg Your Pardon

By: Jose Ma. Montelibano

First, to former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas who said that the impeachment trial is not intended for the Filipino people. I must assume that he just did not have enough time or energy to say that the impeachment trial is intended for the Senate sitting as an impeachment court.

Second, to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who said that surveys caused the crucifixion of Jesus Christ who, after so many centuries, is still worshipped.

Third, to Senator Gringo Honasan who said that the senators will not be influenced by surveys by will judge individually and collectively.

I beg your pardon.

The impeachment trial is by the will of the people, not by the choice of Serafin Cuevas, not by the choice of Juan Ponce Enrile, and not by the choice of Gringo Honasan. The impeachment trial is not the dictate of a Constitutional provision but the dictate of the people of the Philippines as expressed through a provision of the Constitution. May I remind public servants that they serve the public. They are not Constitutional servants, they are public servants. The Constitution is not crying for the truth and justice, the people are. And the impeachment trial is after the truth and justice more than it is after satisfying provisions of the Constitution. The provisions of the Constitution precisely try to guide legal activities so these end up with the truth and justice – not its own aggrandizement.

It might be that the form of the law, the position of authority and the exercise of power have made those in high places imprisoned by their small but exclusive world, forgetting that these very privileges of status, authority and power emanate only from the people, only from the people. Therefore, as they play their role as public servants, what they are, where they are, and what they do always relate to the people. Their popularity or unpopularity is crucial, not incidental. If what they want to do that is, in their conscience, right but unpopular, then they are obligated as public servants and behavioral models to convince the people of the probity of their views and decisions. They have the obligation to raise the level of understanding of the people if they believe that the people are wrong.

The three comments are dangerous because they come from people who should know better. They also come from people who went against the Constitution and have not even said their unequivocal mea culpas for doing do. Serafin Cuevas swore in Arturo Tolentino as president of the republic. The only reason why he was not thrown in jail was because he was part of a comedy, and comics deserve to be laughed at, not jailed. Enrile and Honasan rebelled. They know it and we know it. If they want to go by the truth, whether it can be proved it or not, then they rebelled when it was against the Constitution to rebel.

The people rebelled as well. But because they were the people and enough of them rebelled, they changed the Constitution. At the very least, they changed the president sitting at that time even though these were installed by the Constitution. Of the many key personalities involved in the impeachment trial, these three have the least right to talk about the Constitution as though the people serve it and not the other way around.

And, by the way, bringing Jesus Christ into the equation is not about democracy where officials like senators serve the people; It is about religion where Jesus loves and people serve Him. Comparing the people now to the mob then, and Corona to Jesus?

I beg your pardon.

You are servants to the public or you have no right to be there. You listen to the people or you leave the position that people allowed you to take. “Utak wang-wang” will not disappear right away, the officials as boss and the people as followers still remain the dominant tradition, and you stand out as the glaring examples who cannot even begin to give true public servant-hood a chance. P-Noy is challenging the “utak wang-wang” attitude and has committed to regard the people as his boss. That is why he is sensitive to public opinion and tries so hard to make people appreciate what he is trying to do for them, for country. Yes, he does get feedback from different sources, from Congress, from governors and mayors, from NGOs and civil society. And guess how he validates the feedback he gets from these various sources – from reputable survey companies with consistent accurate track records.

Yes, go by your conscience, senator judges, but let your conscience relate to the conscience of the people you serve, or are sworn to serve. Your conscience cannot be separate from the people’s, just as your morals and your ethics cannot be apart from them. It may be that your conscience will be more fine than the people’s. That is understandable, even laudable. But when such is the case, let the fineness of your conscience cause the enlightenment of the people’s consciences instead of proudly hovering above theirs.

As for Serafin Cuevas, you have alienated the people from better understanding of the law by losing its spirit so your command of its form can be highlighted. This impeachment trial is for Philippine society, for the collective enlightenment of a people, for the refinement of our morals and ethics. It is not arrogance that will teach, it is caring for the whole beyond oneself.

You mean to say that how people think or feel is of no importance to you? Wow.

I beg your pardon.

Sam Miguel
03-23-2012, 08:21 AM
^^^ Rene Corona's choice of defense counsels should speak volumes about the accusations attributed to the man. Ever notice how the ones most associated with crookery are the ones who always get the most expensive lawyers?

The Ampatuans have (had?) Sigfrid Fortun. Romy Jalosjos and Rolito Go had the late Prospero Crescini. Imelda Marcos had Dean Coronel. Lucio Tan has Estelito Mendoza. Erap had Andres Narvasa and Fortun.

While we of course do not begrudge anyone the right to counsel, the quality (and price!) of counsel has historically spoken more loudly and eloquently of the quality of the client, especially if he is the accused.

03-24-2012, 12:14 PM
An interesting twist to the impeachment trial is how Mrs. Corona was able to wrest control of the Basa-Guidote corporation. I understand there are pending cases against Mrs. Corona re the 34.7 million pesos. What percent is she claiming of the 34.7 million? She should have reflected her estimate of her share of the money as her own or conjugal with the CJ. She can of course explain this as coming from inheritance which is already subject to final tax.

I am however suspicious of the properties bought by the children. The prosecution should look into the payments and the capability of the children to purchase these properties which are in the tens of millions.

03-24-2012, 03:23 PM
^ this is already a sidelight and didn't get much publicity but it's interesting that after mayor atienza's testimony, it turns out that the basa-guidote property transaction wasn't an expropriation but a negotiated sale. we're also all familiar with bureaucratic red tape, but in this case the p34 million check was prepared, signed by 3 department heads and released within 1 day. if only the government moved that fast all the time.

what takes the cake is that even after the gov't paid p34M for the property, there hasn't been any transfer of ownership.

03-24-2012, 04:54 PM
^ DPWH bought right-of-way land thru our property in 1959 but hasn't applied for a title up to now :o.Some buyers of our land haven't applied as well and they bought these in the sixties. One reason is they don't want to pay property taxes. Technically, we can sell these if we want to ;D.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2012, 08:57 AM
From the venerable Dean Emeritus of the best law school in the country c/o the Inquirer ___

Betrayal of Public Trust

By: Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas S. J.

Very much at the heart of the current impeachment proceedings is a search for a definition of “betrayal of public trust.” But as Justice Conchita Carpio Morales said, in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Hilario Davide, defining impeachable offenses is beyond the scope of judicial power. Hence, whether or not the offenses allegedly committed by Chief Justice Renato Corona are impeachable offenses is a difficult question for the impeachment court. How should the impeachment court evaluate those acts?

It should first be noted that betrayal of public trust was added only by the 1987 Constitution. As our constitutional text stands now, we have six impeachable offenses: “culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust.” Betrayal of public trust is only one of a set joined together by the conjunctive word “or.” Under the eiusdem generis rule, words linked together as belonging to a class are understood to have common characteristics. If we are to discern the meaning of “betrayal of public trust,” therefore, we must see what characteristics its companion offenses have. Let us see what the drafters of the 1987 Constitution said.

Commissioner Regalado Maambong, speaking of “high crimes,” quoted Enrique Fernando who said: “In the United States Constitution, the term is high crimes and misdemeanors. The Philippine Constitution speaks only of high crimes. There is support for the view that while there need not be a showing of criminal character of the act imputed, it must be of sufficient seriousness as to justify the belief that there was a grave violation of trust on the official sought to be impeached.”

Next, Maambong quoted a line from the Congressional Record on the attempted impeachment of President Elpidio Quirino: “High crimes refer to those offenses which, like treason and bribery, are indictable offenses and are of such enormous gravity that they strike at the very life or orderly working of the government.”

And from the same Congressional Record he quoted: “Culpable violation of the Constitution means willful and intentional violation of the Constitution and not violation committed unintentionally or involuntarily or in good faith or through honest mistake of judgment.”

And again from Fernando: “Culpable violation implies deliberate intent, perhaps even a certain degree of perversity for it is not easy to imagine that individuals in the category of these officials would go so far as to defy knowingly what the Constitution commands.” On the specific offense of “betrayal of public trust,” Commissioner Ricardo Romulo said that it could “cover any violation of the oath of office.”

But Commissioner Rustico de los Reyes, author of the amendment, elaborated: “And so the term ‘betrayal of public trust,’ as explained by Romulo is a catchall phrase to include all acts which are not punishable by statute as penal offenses but, nonetheless, render an officer unfit to continue in office. It includes betrayal of public interest, inexcusable negligence of duty, tyrannical abuse of power, breach of official duty by malfeasance or misfeasance, cronyism, favoritism, etc. to the prejudice of public interest and which tend to bring the office into disrepute.”

Commissioner Jose Nolledo added: “I think plain error of judgment, where circumstances may indicate that there is good faith, to my mind, will not constitute betrayal of public trust if that statement will allay the fears of difficulty in interpreting the term.”

For his part, Commissioner Serafin Guingona cited the proposal of the UP Law Center Project which specified “Acts which are short of being criminal but constitute gross faithlessness against public trust, tyrannical abuse of power, gross negligence of duty, favoritism, and gross exercise of discretionary powers.”

When we add up all these, what do we get? In all that has been said, the common characteristic is gravity or seriousness of the offense. Not every form of deviation from a public officer’s duty is an impeachable public offense. The deviation must be intentional and as serious in gravity as treason or bribery which are the paradigms of impeachable offenses: treason because it strikes at the life of the nation, and bribery because it impedes the proper functioning of government.

It was against this background that the 1987 Constitution commissioners approved “betrayal of public trust” as an impeachable offense. But as Justice Morales observed, “An examination of the records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission shows that the framers could find no better way to approximate the boundaries of betrayal of public trust and other high crimes than by alluding to both positive and negative examples of both, without arriving at their clear-cut definition or even a standard therefor.”

Having said all this, are the offenses alleged against Chief Justice Corona impeachable offenses? To arrive at a conclusion, the impeachment court will have to single out every alleged offense and decide whether the applicable rules on evidence justify the conclusion that they “involve what is thought to be a serious abuse of official power or a stark incompatibility between the offense and the offender’s ability to faithfully execute the duties of his or her office in a manner that will not endanger the office or the nation.”

For example, is error in accomplishing the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), so much discussed last week and so commonly committed even by high-ranking officials, an impeachable offense?

Let us hope that the Holy Season will help the impeachment court arrive at a fair conclusion!

Sam Miguel
03-26-2012, 09:07 AM
^^^ To me if the difference is the yawning gap between P3.5 million and over P31 million (born out in the Peso bank accounts thus far admitted, with the Dollar accounts not yet even taken into consideration) no reasonable person in his right mind would think this was an "honest mistake" or even an "omission but still in good faith". For gidsakes, anlayo naman yata masyado ng 3.5 sa 31.That the Defense has, since the whole trial started, done everything it can to prevent the Corona bank records from coming into public light, only further reinforces the fact that the Chief Justice not only lied on his SALN over the years, but that his wealth is most likely ill-gotten.

Do we as honest, tax-paying citizens no longer have the right to cry foul over instances such as this? 'Yun na nga lang totoong honest mistake ng isang ref sa laro kung murahin natin si ref ganun-ganun na lang, and yet apparently we cannot do the same to the Chief Justice. Kawawa naman tayo... "In due time / due course" sounds a lot like "you can all eat shit and die" when coming from a team of high-priced, high-powered defense attorneys.

Sam Miguel
03-26-2012, 09:17 AM
On the cultural side, also from the Inquirer ___

Taking Manila out of Manila

By: Antonio Montalvan II

Forthcoming this May is the country’s celebration of National Heritage Month. What’s that? With a surfeit of national this-or-that month, few are able to distinguish one from the other, like the National Fire Prevention Month or the National Arbor Week. What happens is unintended obscurantism that defeats the purpose of achieving public focus.

Not many people know that there exists a government agency named the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). A few years ago, it was being debated in the corridors of power whether or not a Department of Culture should be established. Culture used to be lumped with sports in the erstwhile DECS—Department of Education, Culture and Sports.

Today we have the NCCA, the country’s de facto Department of Culture. Its mandate is to serve as the “overall policymaking body, coordinating and grants-giving body for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture.” Within its umbrella are the country’s premier cultural institutions. Let me enumerate them in their full official nomenclatures: National Library of the Philippines, National Museum of the Philippines, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Archives of the Philippines, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Among the NCCA’s flagship events each year is the National Heritage Month, a monthlong celebration of events, exhibits and conferences which are undertaken pursuant to Proclamation No. 439 signed on Aug. 11, 2003. The declaration’s raison d’etre is “the need to create among the people a consciousness, respect and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history, and love of country.”

May is a busy month for many communities. It is the month of fiestas in Bohol, which is said to “sink” a few inches each May under the weight of Boholanos coming home from their worldwide diaspora. For the Tagalogs, May is for Santacruzan, however “showbizzy” it has become. Elsewhere are pockets of Flores de Mayo tableaus, even in the most remote barangay chapels in Mindanao.

But how does one bring the heritage of Filipino arts and culture to the national consciousness? Surely the old panacea of staging a Manila-based event in the hope that it will trickle down into the consciousness of the people in the rest of the islands may not be the solution to make a national impact. Last year, the NCCA introduced a new “ingredient” to make National Heritage Month popular—put in a television celebrity for instant recall. And so Ogie Alcasid was named NCCA heritage ambassador to achieve mass-wide appeal. Add Venus Raj to the bevy of sagalas and then you have stiff competition with popular mass media.

The pressing need is to move not just the focus but also the NCCA machinery away from Manila. The unique structure of the NCCA actually ensures that. One of the NCCA’s lesser known attributes is that it is one of the few government agencies, if not the only one, that allow private sector participation. Cultural workers and artists from all parts of the Philippines head its four “subcommissions”: arts, cultural heritage, cultural dissemination, and cultural communities and traditional arts. This unique structure fosters a dynamic collaboration with cultural and artistic experts and workers, allowing for an engaged implementation of the NCCA’s mandate.

The brainchild of NCCA’s commissioner for cultural heritage, the noted scholar Regalado Trota Jose of the UST Archives, hopes to bring the NCCA machinery for its National Heritage Month to a not-so-known province that receives scant attention from the “center” that is Manila. Romblon fits that description well. It is a small province, a cluster of about 20 islands, some of which can be considered remote. Romblon is known for marble, much of which ends up as “lapidas”—gravestones in better forgotten cemeteries.

Yet Romblon is richly diverse in cultural heritage. It has a 17th-century stone cathedral, a Hispanic-era fort, a sprinkling of ethnolinguistic groups (have you heard of Bantoanon, Odionganon, Rombloanon?), and an island known as Banton, the source of the oldest woven textile now in the possession of the National Museum of the Philippines.

Thus, this year’s National Heritage Month will officially open in the town of Romblon, the provincial capital of the island of the same name, where it is located. The trip itself to the island province will not be a breeze for cultural workers, artists and NCCA officials. Take one of the thrice-a-week flights to the only airport in Odiongan town on the island of Tablas, proceed by land to a wharf on the other side of the island, then cross the sea to reach the capital town. There, on May 2, will be the national festivity to officially open the 2012 National Heritage Month of the Philippines.

It will not just be rite and ritual. The NCCA will bring its various working committees under its cultural heritage subcommission to hold clinics, conduct consultations with local cultural stakeholders, and determine what needs special attention from NCCA-affiliated cultural agencies. It is a unique way of bringing NCCA’s weight to one of the country’s remote frontiers.

The point is not just showcase but also convergence away from Manila. The framework has already elicited early suggestions to bring next year’s celebration to hardly noticed places such as Catanduanes or Capul Island in Northern Samar.

A nation of islands we shall forever be. The constant challenge is surmounting insularism. The NCCA has taken the dare. Let it be an example for good governance.

Sam Miguel
03-27-2012, 08:46 AM
From Prof Habito of the Ateneo, via the Inquirer ___

Jumpstarting the ARMM Economy

Movers and shakers in the economy of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are gathering today in Cotabato City to bring together their collective experience and wisdom and forge an agenda to invigorate the ARMM economy. Interim Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman saw it fit to have this ARMM Economic Summit within his first 100 days in office, as he faces the unenviable challenge of bringing this erstwhile basket case of a regional economy into a path of inclusive growth and economic dynamism.

An economically dynamic ARMM, for many of us who have witnessed the region sink deeper into poverty over the past decade, almost sounds like an oxymoron. Consider this: Even though the four poorest provinces in the country are outside of ARMM (namely, Zamboanga del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Eastern Samar), the fifth poorest, Maguindanao, along with the four other ARMM provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, saw their poverty rates rise faster than those of the rest of the country within the past decade (yes, poverty went up nationwide between 2003 and 2009). Worst among them was Lanao del Sur, whose recorded poverty rate nearly tripled from 13.7 percent in 2003 to 36.8 percent in 2009.

And yet, the region has so much in innate attributes that would normally be magnets for investment, even more than other parts of Mindanao, let alone the rest of the country. Like the rest of Mindanao, ARMM has excellent agro-climatic conditions conducive to production of a wide range of agricultural crops. Soils are so fertile that yields of certain crops, like cassava, white corn and coffee are superior to those attained elsewhere. Unlike neighboring regions whose lands are now extensively farmed, there remain large tracts of land available for farming in ARMM. Labor costs are also lower: wages are 20 percent less than in Davao, 26 percent less than in Central Luzon, and 43 percent less than in Metro Manila.

In spite of these seeming advantages, ARMM has not only failed to attract the investments it needs to bring more jobs and incomes to its people; it has also sunk into deeper poverty. How, then, do we reverse this slide? What fixes could the summit participants possibly offer Hataman and his officials to jumpstart the economy?

It is useful to note that there are a number of companies that have dared to invest in ARMM and have actually done well. La Frutera (a banana export venture in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, by multinational firm Unifrutti) and Agumil (a Malaysian-owned palm oil processing company in Buluan, Maguindanao) have shown the way. Matling Industrial and Commercial Corp. has been processing cassava into flour in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, since 1928 and is the largest cassava processor in Mindanao. Lamsan Inc. has been manufacturing cornstarch and other products from corn in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, for four decades now. Philippine Trade Center Inc. is another cornstarch manufacturer in the same municipality. EA Trilink Corp. registered a P1.5 billion investment in ARMM last year to upgrade the region’s information and communications technology capabilities to world standards. BJ Coconut Oil Mill in Jolo was the only coconut oil processor in ARMM until the world market slump forced its temporary closure in 2009. These various companies’ first-hand experiences should provide useful lessons for would-be ARMM investors, and their executives who are attending today’s summit are well placed to advise the regional government on how to make the investment environment more attractive, especially to newcomers.

To be sure, there are certain basic impediments that must be overcome if ARMM is to see greater economic activity in the years ahead. For one, the whole of Mindanao is again experiencing power shortages leading to rotating outages of two to four hours. Such power inadequacies have made it worthwhile for Matling, Lamsan and Philippine Trade Center to invest in their own biomass power plants to provide for their requirements—a creative and effective solution given that their businesses, by nature, generate substantial biomass waste that is now put to good use. This suggests that investments in similar agro-processing facilities need not wait for the long-term solutions to Mindanao’s power problems to be put in place. They may actually find it economic to bring their own power with them (as had also been done by BJ Coconut Oil Mill in Sulu).

Inadequate transport and logistics facilities likewise get in the way of greater economic activity in ARMM. The region has the lowest road density in the country, and I find it surprising that a number of obvious vital road links from production areas to market centers and ports have remained unattended to, for one reason or another. Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao, was built in 1978 and had been envisaged as the trading hub for Muslim Mindanao when it was devolved to ARMM in 1998. But access to the port remains difficult from some major production areas in Lanao del Sur and environs, due to non-completion of crucial road stretches leading to it. Hence, products are shipped out of Cagayan de Oro instead, even with much longer distances traveled inland. It is high time, then, that strategic road and other facilities with the potential to unleash commodity flows from ARMM production areas to domestic and international markets be identified and attended to with dispatch.

More often than not, it is people running the farms and firms who know exactly where these choke points are. Those in government may yet learn a thing or two by listening to them in today’s economic summit.

Sam Miguel
03-28-2012, 08:31 AM
From the Inquirer ___

Refuse to forget

By: Michael L. Tan

The other night I was able to watch a riveting documentary, “Time to Fight,” on the cable TV channel Al Jazeera, which reminded me of the human rights situation in the Philippines. It has one last showing today at 1 p.m. but if you’re unable to catch that, I have information at the end of this column on how you can watch it through the Internet.

The documentary is about an Argentine, Lucia Garcia, and her 15-year search for justice. Her parents were among the desaparecido (disappeared)—people kidnapped, detained and murdered by the military during their guerra sucia or dirty war, which began in 1976 with a military coup and lasted until 1983 when democracy was restored.

After 1983, a National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (Conadep) was set up and the investigations yielded many horror stories from survivors of imprisonment and torture. Some 9,000 persons were named and confirmed as desaparecidos but there are other estimates that go as high as 30,000. Accounts of even more barbaric atrocities emerged, of prisoners thrown out of planes alive, and of children taken away from their activist parents and given to new parents in the military.

The trials stopped shortly after, supposedly to bring about national reconciliation, but clearly in response to military uprisings that tried to destabilize the democratic government. It was only in 2005 that a new president, Nestor Kirchner, publicly apologized to the Argentine people for the government’s human rights violations and ordered a resumption of the prosecutions.

Mothers, grandmothers

Through the years, the victims’ families have organized themselves and pressured the Argentine government to bring justice. Perhaps the most well known of these groups are the mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared who organized themselves into groups like Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (Mothers of Plaza de Mayo) who, from 1977 to 2006, congregated every Thursday in the capital’s central district to call for justice.

In 1995, another group called Hijos emerged, an acronym for Hijos e Hijas por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio, (Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and Silence). As the name implies, these are mostly the sons and daughters of the disappeared, now adults themselves and determined not to allow Argentina to forget. Lucia Garcia is a member of Hijos.

But the Al Jazeera documentary “Time to Fight” is more than the story of Lucia Garcia; it chronicles how a nation suffered grievously with deep emotional wounds that have not healed. As in the Philippines, the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly, and known torturers and murderers have even dared to appear on mass media to talk about the way they handled “communists.”

The documentary features Hijos groups doing the escracha, an innovative form of mass action where musical and theatrical performances are launched in front of the residences or offices of known torturers, as posters and flyers are distributed to neighbors and passersby, with a photograph of the known torturer and the full address and information on what the person did. The protesters also have photographs of the disappeared, including children who were kidnapped and given away, and messages like “Our indifference keeps [the murderers] free.”

The protest actions reflect exasperation on the part of the relatives and friends of the disappeared, but these are also an attempt to get the public, starting with the neighbors of the torturers, to become involved. They do not call for revenge or for any harm to the torturers; instead, they explain, they are simply communicating the need to remember.

The most powerful segments in the Al Jazeera documentary aren’t the escracha but the personal encounters, such as Lucia and her sister looking at family photos and, toward the end, Lucia talking with an 87-year-old woman who had just testified in one of the trials. The elderly woman had lost a son, a daughter-in-law, and an infant grandchild.

There is also television coverage of one of the trials and the conviction of some military officers. As the names of the guilty ones are read out, protesters in the street, presumably organized by Hijos, shout out, “asesino (murderer)!”

‘La Impunidad’

Researching on the murder of journalists and media workers in the Philippines, I realized we don’t have a term in our local languages for impunity. We need to name the unnamable, maybe borrowing the Spanish words where the articles “el” and “la” fortify the nouns. Memory (la memoria) is female; forgetting (el olvido) and silence (el silencio) is male. Then there is la impunidad—impunity—casting long and ominous shadows on our history.

Diego Benega, an Argentine psychoanalyst working with the families of the disappeared, has an insightful article in the journal Performance Research where he describes the escracha protest actions as a combination of public performance and psychoanalysis—a response to the trauma of state violence and terrorism, and a call to people not to forget. Benega describes a poster which reads: “They (the military) killed in the past because they knew you would stay silent today.”

We need to develop such forms of collective psychoanalysis and awareness-raising. Forty years after martial law, I’m meeting too many people who are arguing we need to “forgive and forget” and move on, forgetting that one reason the Philippines moves on far too slowly is our wheels of justice, and governance, are still corroded by impunity. Benega’s article on Argentina has a timeless message: “They (the military) killed in the past because they knew you would stay silent today.”

The government might want to think ahead, too, in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the imposition of martial law. It would help so much if the government apologizes to the Filipino people for state terrorism, not just under Marcos but also under the last president. And instead of some vague commemoration of Sept. 21 as the anniversary of martial law, we might want to follow Argentina, where the date of the military coup of March 24, 1976, has become a Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice.

I’ll end with a plug for Al Jazeera, which has several programs that feature very well researched documentaries that offer many new and deep insights on the social issues we face today, especially in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Visit Aljazeera.com, click on Programmes, and then on Witness to get Time to Watch and other informative documentaries. Also try People and Power, where a recent feature was “Syria’s Songs of Defiance,” done by an underground correspondent and following the life of a young Syrian who leads the chanting of protesters.

Sam Miguel
03-30-2012, 07:56 AM
From the Inquirer online ___

On Corona’s claims of Ateneo Honors

By: Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Did he lie? Did he misrepresent? Was he negligent?

The Internet is abuzz with expressions of shock and disgust coming mostly from some graduates of the Ateneo de Manila University, alma mater of Chief Justice Renato C. Corona who is going through an impeachment trial.

“Corona lied about academic honors!” by Riziel Ann Cabreros is about Corona’s claims, as shown in his resumé, that he graduated with high honors from Ateneo grade school, high school, college and law school. But record checks proved otherwise. (Writer Cabreros works with ANC as a segment producer of “Pipol” and as a news writer. She is a researcher for journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug’s upcoming book on the Supreme Court, a much-awaited one, I must say.)

Cabreros asked: “Did Chief Justice Renato Corona embellish his academic achievements brandished on the website of the Supreme Court before it was altered just a few days ago? Given some inconsistencies with records seen by Rappler, he might have been, at the very least, negligent or had allowed false claims to be made about him. At the most, he himself could have misrepresented his own achievements.” (Rappler is an online news network.)

Cabreros wrote that in the resumé that Corona submitted to Malacañang in 1992, when he was assistant executive secretary for legal affairs of then President Fidel V. Ramos, he claimed that he finished grade school to law school in the Ateneo with honors. He made the same claims on the Supreme Court website as of March 9, 2012, Cabreros added.

Here were Corona’s claims in his resumé: That he earned his Bachelor of Laws degree “with honors as no. 5 in the class of 44 members.” That he finished his Bachelor of Arts course “with academic honors.” That he graduated from high school with “silver medal graduation honors,” and from grade school with “gold medal graduation honors.”

Cabreros declared: “Our investigation shows these are not true.” I could only mutter: “Patay kang bata ka!”

Outside of the grave charges against Corona at the impeachment trial, there have been other questions festering in the moonlight, foremost among them Corona’s midnight appointment by then outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (now in detention for a string of alleged nonbailable offenses), his fitness and credibility as Chief Justice, etc. Even the doctorate degree conferred upon him by the University of Santo Tomas was under a cloud of doubt because of waived requirements. Recent university students’ surveys on Corona, though pooh-poohed by his defenders, show poor ratings.

Now another school-related tempest is upon him. After reading Cabreros’ news report, Rene Santayana, Corona’s schoolmate at the Ateneo, wrote: “The point is … why lie about it? There are more than a hundred of us classmates—surely a large number will recall what really transpired in school? What a blatant display of arrogance and contempt! This I take personally because it touches me and it violates whatever small personal unsullied space I can still cling to in this life. I cannot stand idly by and allow myself to be made complicit in this.”

Cabreros cited Vitug’s book “Shadow of Doubt” (2010) where the latter wrote that university records “don’t reflect” Corona’s claims in his profile posted on the Supreme Court website.

Here are some info that Cabreros discovered and wrote about:

A college commencement program, dated April 19, 1970, indicates Corona graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Corona is nowhere in the college honors list, contrary to what is in his resumé and on the Supreme Court website. Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio and the late activists Edgar M. Jopson and Emmanuel F. Lacaba were among his batchmates in college. Jopson was the valedictorian of Corona’s high school batch.

Corona is not on the list of high school honor awardees. Corona graduated from Ateneo’s high school department on April 30, 1966 and was awarded a silver medal under the category of “Activity Awards.” This was for his involvement in the Science Club. But he was not on the elite list of those who graduated with honors, contrary to claims in his resumé and the Supreme Court website.

Corona graduated from grade school on March 22, 1962 with an “Honorable Mention” and not a “gold medal” as claimed in the Supreme Court website. His gold medal was for an “Academic Contest Award” in spelling (Filipino).

The new Supreme Court website says: “Chief Justice Corona had a sterling record as a student. He graduated with gold medal honors from the Ateneo de Manila grade school in 1962 and high school in 1966. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree, also with honors, from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1970. He was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010.”

Cabreros said that Corona claimed, too, in his resumé that he earned his Bachelor of Laws degree “with honors as no. 5 in the class of 44 members.” There were 44 students in his batch.

Cabreros disputed this and wrote: “According to the law school’s commencement program, he graduated on March 31, 1974 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. He graduated with no honors. It was Arturo D. Brion, now an associate justice of the Supreme Court, who graduated valedictorian with a gold medal for academic excellence. Corona is not among those listed as having graduated with honors and distinctions in law school.”

So Mr. Santayana, like you, I also am offended because, yikes, Ateneo is also my alma mater. My heart beating wildly, I went over Ateneo’s sesquicentennial coffeetable book “To Give and Not Count the Cost: Ateneans Inspiring Ateneans 1859-2009,” which contains stories about 150 Ateneans written by 150 plus Ateneans. (I wrote about my teacher Fr. Jaime Bulatao SJ.) I was relieved to not find a write-up on Corona in it.

03-30-2012, 12:48 PM
^There was a stupid rule in 1970 (when I also graduated) that anyone who was on the dean's list for the last two semesters in your senior year got second honors award ;D. Maybe that's what Corona got (I did and about half of our ME class got too) :D.

p.s. A classmate showed me the list of second honors awardees and Corona's name aint there >:(

Sam Miguel
05-02-2012, 09:55 AM
With the Supreme Court decision on Hacienda Luisita now final, what happens to those who opted in good faith to take the SDO a long time ago?

Sam Miguel
05-11-2012, 02:07 PM
From the LA Times - - -

JPMorgan Chase racked up $2 billion in trading losses during the last six weeks, and that could “easily get worse,” Chief Executive Jamie Dimon says.

Barely four years after Wall Street's wrong-way bets plunged the world into a financial crisis, JPMorgan Chase & Co. admitted it lost $2 billion from a trading portfolio that was supposed to have helped the bank manage credit risk.

"These were egregious mistakes," said Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who is considered one of the world's savviest bankers. "We have egg on our face, and we deserve any criticism we get."

The announcement stunned the financial industry, in part because it came from such a highly regarded bank. Dimon had navigated JPMorgan through the crisis in good shape by clamping down on some of the excessive risks that torpedoed rivals.

Dimon told analysts that the bank racked up $2 billion in trading losses during the last six weeks, and that could "easily get worse." He said JPMorgan could suffer an additional $1-billion loss from the portfolio during the second quarter.

"My jaw is on the table," said Nancy Bush of SNL Financial. "I never expected this right now — not in a million years."

The losses stemmed from derivative bets that backfired in the company's Chief Investment Office. This part of the bank was in charge of trading to balance the company's assets and liabilities, although it had been criticized by some analysts for operating more like a hedge fund.

There had been media reports that a single JPMorgan trader in Europe, known in the bond market as "the London whale," was making massive bets that were influencing prices in the $10-trillion market.

Investors bailed out of JPMorgan stock in after-hours trading, a sign it will open sharply lower in New York on Friday. The stock fell 6%, and rivals such as Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., andBank of America Corp. also posted modest declines.

The blowup at the nation's largest bank came amid a heated debate in Congress over how much regulation is needed to rein in the risk-taking that caused the near-meltdown of the financial system in 2008.

The crux of the argument had been whether the so-called Volcker rule, which limits how much federally insured banks can risk in trading for their own accounts, had gone too far.

Indeed, Dimon acknowledged that the trading losses might lead to more calls for stronger banking regulations.

"It's very unfortunate, plays right into all the hands of a bunch of pundits out there, but that's life and I'll have to deal with that," he said.

Critics of Wall Street lost no time in calling for regulators to proceed with cracking down on big banks such as JPMorgan, which began the year with $863 billion in federally insured domestic deposits.

"The enormous loss JPMorgan announced is just the latest evidence that what banks call 'hedges' are often risky bets that so-called 'too big to fail' banks have no business making," U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in a statement.

This "is a stark reminder of the need for regulators to establish tough, effective standards to protect taxpayers from having to cover such high-risk bets," he said.

Bank lobbyists had argued that the biggest U.S. banks need more flexibility if they are to compete against global financial giants. But the latest debacle provided new fodder for critics.

At a minimum, JPMorgan's admission shows that large and unforeseen losses can erupt at any time despite the banks' efforts to limit risk-taking.

"It demonstrates that even at an institution like JPMorgan, which has done a remarkable job at staying out of trouble compared to other banks, a bolt out of the blue can come at any time," said Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John's University in New York.

The problems at JPMorgan stem from the trading of synthetic credit products, which are derivatives whose values are tied to a portfolio of underlying bonds. The bank lost money when it was trying to unwind these exotic instruments, which were originally intended to hedge JPMorgan's credit exposure.

Dimon said that the investments' extreme volatility could continue to roil JPMorgan for months to come.

The CEO said he hopes to have the situation under control by the end of the year.

He previously had dismissed reports of an out-of-control trader in London as "a tempest in a teapot," Bush said. "How do you go so fast from a tempest in a teapot to a $2-billion loss and maybe more?"

"There's something here we're not being told," Bush said.

She recalled a series

of debacles in the 1990s involving rogue traders such as Nick Leeson, who hid losses that eventually totaled $1.3 billion, wiping out the reserves and capital at England's august Barings Bank.

Credit Agricole securities analyst Mike Mayo asked if the failure of Dimon's main risk-avoidance unit might foreshadow similar problems at other banks.

Dimon demurred on speaking for the industry.

"Just because we're stupid doesn't mean anyone else was," he said.

05-15-2012, 06:24 PM
In my opinion, AMLC should have followed its rules as mandated by the AMLC law and not bowed to the Ombudsman and its powers as mandated by the Ombudsman law of 1989 if there was conflict and asked the Courts, e.g. the Supreme Court, for guidance or opinion.

05-16-2012, 08:36 AM
^ GFY, the Ombudsman is a Constitutional Office which in the heirarchy of governance means it enjoys a certain primacy over an agency created by special law such as the Anti-Money Laundering Council. Granted there may be eyebrows raised as to the seeming setting aside of the process in the AMLA, but then again the Ombudsman Law does grant certain powers to the Ombudsman. In effect there is a legal fiction / legal cover given as to how the Ombudsman came into possession of the bank transactions which were forwarded by the banks in question to the AMLC. i.e. the Ombudsman cited its powers as a Constitutional Office, at which point the AMLC apparently accepted the legitimacy of such powers as it had legal basis. As the two Offices seem to have come to amicably agree that the Office requesting assistance should be given that assistance, then no dispute arose. As no dispute arose, there was no need to bring anything to court for settlement. In other words, as the heads of the two agencies did not get into a turf war or pissing contest over the rules, then no adjudication was necessary.

There may be those who will say that this creates a dangerous precedent where "political enemies can be harassed", but then again that is speculative and also a question of policy, and thus one which should not be settled by the courts but by Congress, or at least by the Executive through its normal regulatory/enforcement powers.

05-16-2012, 11:36 AM
^ Actually Ombudsman Morales herself admitted the issue is debatable whether her power trumps all other existing laws like AMLA. In any case Corona has to explain all those transactions and accounts which are unbelievably circuitous and crazy... if true.

Sam Miguel
05-17-2012, 10:11 AM

By Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) Updated May 17, 2012 12:00 AM

Did CJ Renato Corona lie or withhold information and facts from his defense lawyers about the extent of his banking activities? I hope he did not. But I do think he did lie or withhold information from his lawyers based on the testimonies of witnesses at the Impeachment Court Trial last Tuesday. Had the defense lawyers known the extent of the bank transactions of the of CJ from the beginning, they may have pursued a different strategy or course of action. They could have probably recommended the resignation of the CJ right then and there and possibly negotiate for leniency. Or placed the CJ at the witness stand with the assistance of professional experts in finance management at a time during the trial when the prosecution was perceived to be faltering and did not apparently have enough evidence against the CJ. This assumption, if true, would supplement, or even far outweigh all other factors or reasons why the CJ should quit his post and fade away from public service.

I believe now that the President’s wish to remove the CJ from office is not for revenge, not to control the other branches of government, not ego, not paranoia against those who served and became surrogates of the former President. It is a noble crusade to achieving good governance, morality and honesty in public service.

* * *

Only the corrupt, inept and derelict officials and employees in government need fear Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for providing her with all the bank documents she needs in aid of prosecuting erring public officers.

The Ombudsman is vested by the Constitution and Republic Act (RA) 6670 with wide-ranging powers to do its mandate.

The AMLC, in fact, has no choice but to provide the Ombudsman with a record of suspicious bank transactions, including those pertaining to Corona’s purported $12 million spread out in 82 foreign currency accounts in five banks.

Section 15 of RA 6770 enumerating the Powers, Functions and Duties of the Ombudsman is very clear in this, specifically paragraph five which states that “The Ombudsman may request any government agency (like AMLC) for assistance and information necessary in the discharge of its responsibilities, and to examine, if necessary, pertinent records and documents.”

Thus, Ombudsman Morales was within her mandate to ask the AMLC and the AMLC was just doing its job of supporting the Ombudsman when it presented her with a 17-page document detailing Corona’s multi-million dollar transactions.

The Ombudsman has been cloaked with powers so much so that under Section 23 detailing its Investigative Powers, “the Ombudsman may (a) enter and inspect the premises of any office, agency, commission or tribunal; (b) examine and have access to any book, record, file, document or paper; and (c) hold private hearings with the complaining individual and the official concerned.”

Section 14 of RA 6770 even bars the courts, including the SC except when the latter is deciding on a purely question of law, from issuing any writ of injunction against the Ombudsman to delay its investigation.  

Sam Miguel
05-17-2012, 10:15 AM
^^^ If the Senate has a problem with the vast expanse of powers given to the Ombudsman, then they may have to not merely work an ammendement to the Ombudsman Law, but they may also have to propose a specific ammendment to the 1987 Constitution. While the Ombudsman does have what law and political experts call plenary powers, the people through their elected representatives in Congress may curtail those powers. When or if they can get that done in the aftermath (whatever that may eventually be) of the Corona trial however seems highly unlikely.

Sam Miguel
05-18-2012, 11:32 AM
By: Raul J. Palabrica Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:18 pm | Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Big brother is watching.

This was the subliminal message Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales sent to public officials and government employees when she testified at the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Acting on a complaint for misconduct in office and unexplained wealth filed against Corona, she requested the Anti-Money Laundering Council to provide her office with records of Corona’s dollar transactions in local banks.

On the basis of the data submitted by AMLC, she concluded that Corona kept 82 dollar accounts in five banks between 2003 and 2011. A transactional analysis of the movement of funds among these accounts appeared to show that he owned at least $10 million.

Until Corona can present contrary evidence (mere denial will not suffice), the AMLC figures enjoy the presumption of regularity and accuracy. They were collated pursuant to AMLC’s authority to monitor the movement of funds in the banking system to prevent its use for illegal purposes.

Under existing laws, all bank transactions in excess of P500,000 are required to be reported by banks and related financial institutions to AMLC.

Described as “covered transactions,” information about deposits and withdrawals within that range, regardless of the manner by which they were made (e.g., cash, check, transfer or credit memo) have to be electronically transmitted to the AMLC database within the prescribed periods.


Also required to be reported are “suspicious transactions” or movements of funds that, even if below the P500,000 plus threshold, raise serious doubts about the integrity of their source or legality of the purpose for which they are deposited or withdrawn.

Thus, for example, if a depositor who operates a small business and deposits P10,000 every week suddenly puts in P400,000 weekly, the bank is obliged to report these transactions as suspicious in character.

A similar report should be sent if, say, a depositor whose account balance hardly goes beyond P50,000 becomes the recipient of a P400,000 bank transfer from a foreign source.

The fact that a transaction is tagged as suspicious, however, does not mean that the deposit or withdrawal concerned came from an illegal source or is intended for unlawful purposes.

The description is aimed at putting AMLC on notice about a possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law by the reported transaction. Once reported, the responsibility over it shifts to AMLC.

If AMLC’s database on suspected money launderers or intelligence reports on illegal money transfers indicate there is nothing fishy about the transaction, the report is simply kept on file.

The story is different if the erstwhile small depositor happens to be in the drug enforcement authorities’ watch list or the source of the money transfer is suspected to be a front for terrorists. AMLC has to conduct further investigation of the people involved in the transaction.


Although the rules are meant to apply equally to all persons covered by the reporting criteria, special attention is given by AMLC to “politically exposed persons,” or persons entrusted with a prominent public function or are closely related to them.

The bank deposits of these people are required to bear the “PEP” tag for reference when the regulators conduct their periodic review of the records of banks and financial institutions.

The red flag is a carryover from the rules of Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, the international body organized to coordinate global efforts to stop money laundering.

It is presumed that, on account of the PEP’s position and the influence he wields in the political scene, he “generally presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption.”

Thus, the unspoken rule in the banking community is to carefully monitor the inflow and outflow of funds in PEP accounts to make sure the bank does not get into trouble with the anti-money laundering authorities.

Paying hefty fines for violation of AMLC rules is bad enough. Being tagged as a conduit for dirty money or a willing participant in money laundering is worse. It will make the erring bank a pariah in the local and international banking communities.


Despite the concerns expressed by some senators, the fact remains that the Ombudsman can compel AMLC to furnish it records of financial transactions of public officials and government employees even without the benefit of a court order allowing such disclosure.

The law is clear that such court approval is essential only if AMLC wants to examine the bank records of a depositor for possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law and with prior notice to the depositor at that.

Sadly, the latter requirement, which is embodied in a Supreme Court decision, gives the depositor the opportunity to clean out his bank account before a freeze can be put on it by the Court of Appeals.

The loss of privacy in financial transactions by people who have chosen a career in government service, whether elective or appointive, comes with the territory.

Not only does the law allow it, the government employee gives his consent to such intrusion by signing the last paragraph of the Statement of Assets, Liability and Net Worth which authorizes the Ombudsman to look into his financial records.

If a person is jealous and zealous about keeping his financial life private and confidential, he should go into business or engage in private employment.

Sam Miguel
05-18-2012, 11:40 AM
^^^ This is precisely the reason why objections to the Ombudsman's testimony, by the very same people who had her subpoenaed in the first place, makes no sense. What on earth ever possessed them to put her on the stand in the first place? Like their client she is eminently qualified to have been on the Supreme Court. Unlike their client however she is not a midnight appointee.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2012, 08:37 AM
Philippine Daily Inquirer

9:34 pm | Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The incongruity between what is being pontificated and what is being done is too glaring to be missed. Judging from the lip service, everyone seems agreed on the noble purpose of and the urgent need for a Freedom of Information (FOI) law. Yet it does not look like the mother bill will get past the 15th Congress—and it is not because the proposed law is uncharted territory.

In the previous Congress, the Senate approved such a bill. No less than then Speaker Prospero Nograles firmly assured the nation that the House of Representatives was certain to pass it. But on the House’s final day of session, the proposed law’s long-dreamt enactment could not materialize for “lack of quorum.” (To think that the House has given countless bills the thumbs-up despite sparse attendance, simply because nobody on the floor dared raise the question of quorum.)

And so the FOI bill, the enactment of which journalists have long clamored for, had to be filed again for approval by the present 15th Congress. Its chances? At this writing, the Senate committee on public information chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan, who renamed it the People’s Ownership of Government Information (Pogi) bill, has forwarded its consolidated version for plenary deliberations. Malacañang had earlier expressed full support for the bill, with the submission of its own version to both chambers of the legislature. But given the reluctance of a large number of House members to make public their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth—which an FOI law will certainly make accessible to the public, whether they like it or not—it seems certain that we’re headed for a rerun of the House’s duplicity in the 14th Congress.

The proposed law is anchored on at least three basic democratic propositions: that all information related to governance, with very few, strict exceptions, belong to the people; that the free flow of information is essential to the exercise of genuine democracy; and that free access to information ensures transparency and accountability.

These concepts are not novel, present-day inventions. They are in fact among the basic principles that animated American democracy from its birth, echoing through generations to the present, though articulated differently.

“[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of American democracy, once said. It would serve the nation well if our lawmakers bear this immortal quote in mind.

“A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or, perhaps, both,” cautioned US President James Madison on Aug. 4, 1822.

Acquiring information through clear-cut, well-defined means is what an FOI law can usefully provide. After all, the right to information is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. Section 7, Article III in the Bill of Rights states: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

Thus, an FOI law will enable the exposure of both the government and public servants to the reassuring sunlight of transparency and accountability, and also the empowerment of the citizenry and the encouragement of its informed participation in government processes. As it is, access to vital information depends largely on the sufferance of the leaders of government agencies. (Sen. Teofisto Guingona put it simply: “If we want people to effectively participate in government, transparent and accessible information are vital. An FOI law is both a blessing and a challenge to good governance. If people have the right information, they must learn to use the same to contribute to nation-building.”)

This is the most auspicious time to enact the FOI bill, with the nation having just removed a chief justice by impeachment on issues of transparency and accountability. We must not lose the momentum for good governance. How ironic it would be if the House that impeached then Chief Justice Renato Corona once again passes up the opportunity.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2012, 08:49 AM
^^^ Why do we insist on a Freedom of Information law when we do not want a corresponding Right to Reply law?

We want access to information to be used as we deem fit, which may or may not harm another person in some way or other especially if we publish said information, and yet we do not want that person to have equal space and equal time to protect himself from such harm.

Isn't that, uh... what's the legal term I'm looking for... oh, right. That's UNFAIR.

We've all seen, heard, read it a million times. A big newspaper of news program scoops somebody, has the goods on somebody, nails somebody, and they print and broadcast it for the whole world to see. And in a couple weeks or months it turns out that person was innocent after all, that the media was wrong after all, that their information was all wrong. That poor sap's life is now effectively ruined. Big media just keeps apologizing and writing errata all the way to the bank.

I have always maintained that if a newspaper devoted its frontpage headline to a news article that casts anybody in a bad light, and those charges are refuted later on, then that paper has to devote a frontpage headline retracting every bad thing it ever attributed / imputed to that poor soul. Columnists and other "opinion makers" should have an even greater responsibility to do this precisely because they are not bound by the exact same standards of objectivity being opinion guys.

And again, self-policing and self-regulation is never a good idea. For anybody or anything.

Sam Miguel
06-06-2012, 09:49 AM

By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated June 06, 2012 12:00 AM

Perhaps the silliest argument against making Antonio Carpio Chief Justice is that he is a foe of the dismissed Renato Corona. That it is being raised by one of Corona’s three acquitters hints at its intent. Could it be that the appointer of a new CJ is being swayed to choose only from among Corona’s so-called “clique of seven or eight justices”?

Carpio was mentioned along with two hopefuls, Justice Sec. Leila de Lima and BIR chief Kim Jacinto Henares. A case possibly can be made against the two. They had testified against Corona in the trial of the first-ever impeached CJ. To name them to the post would leave a bad taste in the mouth. Senators Franklin Drilon or Francis Escudero too had been cited as probable CJ. But being among the 20 senators to convict Corona, they quickly, aptly expressed disinterest.

Corona during his trial had claimed that Carpio’s former law firm was among those behind his impeachment. At one point he said that “the enmity and rivalry (between them is) common knowledge.” But that was just one side — later proven a falsifier of sworn assets — speaking. Carpio, throughout the torturous exposure of his compadre, and college and work chum Corona, had kept silent. To react would have divided and put to ridicule the Supreme Court. It was Corona who, in trial defense, let known the animosities that marked his Chief Justiceship. He admitted to snubbing the nomination of a retired colleague as Ombudsman because he felt they “were not allies.” Incidentally Corona the condemned wealth hider now brags to have set, hear this, a higher standard of transparency in public service.

Magistrates are expected to speak only through their decisions, dissents or occasional lectures, and to socialize sparingly if at all. This is to avoid any tinge of partiality or impropriety. Yet some are seen nightly hopping from one cocktail party to another. Not Carpio. It would be best to judge him by his judicial rulings. (See Marites Vitug’s Shadow of Doubt, and researches in Rappler.com by Purple Romero.) Among these are:

• disallowing in 2005 a private corporation, foreign at that, from acquiring reclaimed, alienable land of the public domain;

• dissenting in 2006 that the transfer of a rapist American GI from jail to the US embassy was okay under the RP-US visiting forces pact;

• penning in 2007 to reject a private firm’s belated multibillion-peso claim against the state’s toll ways agency;

• dissenting last March 2012 from disquieting millions of lot titles in former friar lands in Luzon and the Visayas;

• penning in 2006 to strike down a contrived people’s initiative to rewrite the Constitution;

• declaring unconstitutional Malacañang’s ceding in 2008 of territory to Moro separatists; and

• contesting in 2008 Cabinet member Romy Neri’s use of executive privilege to hide then-President Gloria Arroyo’s role in a $200-million kickback in the $329-million NBN-ZTE deal.

In the latter three Carpio voted against the interest of his former boss and appointer Arroyo. That’s the way it should be. The Constitution states in Article VIII, Judicial Department, Section 7-(3): “A Member of the Judiciary must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and independence.”

Carpio has disregarded personal ties, even when his Sigma Rho college fraternity mates are concerned. He voted to dismiss two such brods, Court of Appeals justices Elvi Asuncion for graft and Vicente Roxas for dereliction of duty. Several times he decided against big clients of the ACCRA law firm, founded and managed mostly by other brods. Members of his old law firm Carpio Villaraza Cruz (now Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco) know him enough not to be counted on for legal succor. He inhibits himself from deliberations of their cases. Other justices reportedly dislike his refusal to trade cases, that is, to vote for their ponencias in exchange for their voting for his.

Carpio even ruled against his own interest in May 2010. He was the most senior associate justice and frontrunner to succeed then-retiring CJ Reynato Puno. But he stood with the minority that Arroyo would be violating the Constitution if she named a replacement during the election ban. Although automatically considered a candidate-CJ, being among the five most senior associates, he declined the nomination. That paved the way for the midnight appointment of the second most senior, the friend who called him an adversary.

President Noynoy Aquino was among the senators in 2010 who opposed the midnight appointment, in vain. He has since said of Carpio: “In some cases we agree; in others we don’t.” Perhaps their strongest points of oneness are in Carpio’s:

• resistance to the 2010 quashing of Aquino’s Truth Commission;

• voting in 2011 against the restraint on the House of Reps from impeaching then-Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez; and

• dissenting in the 2011 restraint on the justice department’s travel watch on spouses Gloria and Mike Arroyo.

In 2005 Carpio led in declaring unconstitutional the Mining Act of 1995 for not collecting just shares from profits of mining firms. The SC eventually reversed itself, but Carpio stood his ground and dissented. Today, to correct the law’s lapse, the Aquino administration is imposing a five-percent government cut in mining revenues.

A point of disagreement is in Carpio’s dissent against Aquino’s appointment of temporary officials other than governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

If Carpio is appointed CJ, there would then be a vacancy for another associate justice. Prominently mentioned are law school dean Amado Valdez and prominent lawyer Katrina Legarda. Having been nominated before, both already have passed interviews and psychiatric tests.

06-06-2012, 11:06 AM
George Takei for Chief Justice!

Sam Miguel
06-08-2012, 08:22 AM
^^^ Like.

Ano nga ulit designation niya sa USS Enterprise, First Officer...?