Thursday, March 30, 2006

Barangay Assembly

The first thing that entered my mind when I heard that the Arroyo administration was mobilizing barangays to jumpstart the constitutional amendment process was a story told, If I remember correctly, by my high school history teacher.

He was telling us how in the barangay assemblies to ratify the 1973 constitution, people will be asked "who wants rice?", and the number of people who raised their arms on this question constitutes the supposed number of people who agreed to ratify the constitution.

I don't know if this story is true, and I have not read any history books that confirm if this really happened. Fortunately, you don't have to rely on my memory. Manuel L. Quezon III, has given links here, here and here, so people does not have to rely on second hand information.

The Arroyo administration seems bent on inviting comparisons with the Marcos regime. First they had PP 1017 being a carbon copy of Proclamation 1081, and now this? GMA must really be a glutton for punishment.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Portable Protection

I returned from Tacurong City last saturday. Inserted my usb drive to transfer files when good old AVG anti-virus warned me that a file was infected with a worm. After healing all the viruses in the usb drive, (there were 24 manifestations of th same virus/worm) I contacted all the people who came in contact with the device, warning them and telling them that they should test their computers for infection.

I felt like a person who contracted venereal disease who had to contact his sex partners, it was embarassing.

Right then, I decided to not let it happen to me again, if I can help it. My first action was to search for a portable anti-virus scanner. The popularity of usb drives has led to the development or re-development of "portable" applications.

Portable applications are programs that one can run or use in a computer without needing to install it first. I say re-development because before the hegemony of windows, most dos applications need not be installed before it can be used.

I already use some of these applications, Foxit PDF reader is a favorite. But I have so far resisted using some portable apps that I regularly use in the office like Firefox because it shortens the life of the usb drive.

A portable anti-virus, will also likely shorten the life of my usb drive, but I feel that protecting my files from viruses is more important.

As it happens, the only virus scanner that can be run in a usb drive without installing is ClamWin Antivirus, Clamwin is an open source antivirus program for windows. Unfortunately, the default installation of Clamwin will not run in the usb drive without some tweaking. Instructions can be found here.

I tested it and it worked, the problem was that the Clamwin files had to be placed in the root drive, it cannot be placed in it's own folder, so it wrecked havoc in my file naming system. Fortunately, I found X-ClamWin via Wikipedia. X-Clamwin can be placed in its own folder and it still works. So this is what I am carrying now.

Portable protection for computer viruses, don't leave home without it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Undeclared Martial Law

Just read the column of former Supreme Court Justice Isagani Cruz and it is his opinion that
"the most malignant problem of the country at present is the enforcement of martial law without the observance of the requirements of Art. VII, Sec. 18 of the Constitution. Among these are that it can be imposed only in case of rebellion or invasion, must be formally reported by the President to Congress within 48 hours and can last for only 60 days unless revoked or extended by it. The Constitution and the privilege of habeas corpus are not suspended, legislative assemblies cannot be abolished, functioning civil courts cannot be replaced by military tribunals, and persons arrested for rebellion or crimes connected with invasion must be released if not judicially charged within three days. And the Supreme Court cannot dismiss any challenge to martial law as a political question and must decide the case within 30 days."
Yet as befitting a former member of the Supreme Court, Justice Cruz still
"await the judgment of the Supreme Court on the challenged acts of Ms Arroyo as the officially proclaimed but statistically suspect President of the Philippines. Will she be upheld as a benevolent despot or denounced as a malevolent tyrant? Whatever be its verdict, let us hope it will be soon."
I also hope the Supreme Court decides soon, and I especially hope the Supreme Court will rule on the side of democracy.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Conspiracy

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that
"civil society and military groups involved in the planned breakaway on Feb. 24, confirmed that a "transition council" was to have assumed the functions of the "leadership" of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government immediately after President Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro were toppled."
This report vindicates the governments assertion that there was a conspiracy against it .

Now we can argue whether the government's reaction was excessive, but we cannot argue anymore whether they had a reason to.

My only qualm is that the PDI still insists in quoting unnamed sources., but they supposedly got the story from both the civil society adnd military sources, so I am assuming that those sources confirmed each others stories.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Primary Sources

I am morphing this page to link to primary materials relevant to current Philippine issues.

Update March 9, 2011 to insert full text of House Bill 4244 or the RH Bill

Updated September 12, 2007 to include a link to the Sandiganbayan decision on the plunder charge against former President Joseph Estrada and the full text of the plunder law from the Philippine e-Legal Forum

Some other links you may find will help you in understanding PP 1017 better.

Ruling on Sanlakas v Reyes - this is the ruling where the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of GMA's declaration of a State of Rebellion because of the Oakwood munity.
Separate opinion of Justice Panganiban
Separate opinion of Justice Ynares
Dissenting opinion of Justice Sandoval

For some legal opinions

From Congressman Edcel Lagman - here and here
From the blog of Atty. Teddy Te

Supreme Court Decisions

PP 1017
Calibrated Preemptive Response
E.O. 464


And you can find up to date commmentary on the current political situation with the blogs under pinoy issues.

p.s.

I think the Supreme Court has a great site, except there's no search button. You have to know the exact case you are looking for, which may be ok for lawyers but is not as good for laymen who grew up using google.

Of course, one can always use google's site search function, but not everybody knows how to use it.

Update: The Supreme Court has revamped its website and it is now much easier to use.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blasphemy

And Muslims were burning embassies because of this

They should see this or this to understand real blasphemy (Christians beware)

Or this (Pastafarians beware)

added July 9, 2006

Papal lizard

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Logical Fallacy

Dean Jorge Bocobo criticized the argument, made by Secretary Rick Saludo,
"that the (present) situation is nothing like 1972 martial law, pointing out the continued operation of media and the availability of the courts."
Mr. Bocobo argues that Secretary Saludo's argument falls because of the fallacy of false analogy. He says that
"Proclamation 1017 State of National Emergency is closer in its preparatory role to the 1971 lifting of the writ of habeas corpus, which also allowed the warrantless arrests"
As I have argued similarly as Secretary Saludo, I take exception to Mr. Bocobo's argument. In this case, I cannot see how Secretary Saludo can be guilty of the false analogy fallacy. People were saying that President Arroyo's declaration of Proclamation 1017 is like President Marcos' declaration of Proclamation 1081. So Secretary Saludo correctly compared the situation after the declaration of PP 1017 where media continued to operate and where courts continue to function with the situation after President Marcos declared proclamation 1081 where all media and the courts were closed.

In fact it was Mr. Bocobo that changed the parameters of the argument. He did not compare PP 1017 with Proclamation 1081, he compared PP 1017 with the 1971 lifting of the writ of habeas corpus. But this was not what Secretary Saludo was responding to, he was responding to the critics that were comparing PP 1017 with Proclamation 1081. They were not comparing PP 1017 with the lifting of the writ of habeas corpus. They were shouting at the top of their lungs Martial Law! Martial Law!

In the internet, there is such a thing as Godwins Law which states
"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"
Hitler is used here because online discussion usually gets very heated and in the heat of the moment somebody will usually compare their opponent or their opponents position with Hitler or the Nazis. In online discussion groups, the person who raises the Hitler card is usually considered the loser.

Raising Godwins law is apt in this instance and I quote from Wikipedia
"Godwin has argued, that hyperbolic overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided. Avoiding such hyperbole, he argues, is a way of ensuring that when valid comparisons to Hitler or Nazis are made, such comparisons have the appropriate impact."
My point here is that we should not overuse the Martial Law comparison because as stated above, it belittles the Filipinos Martial Law experience. The same can be said of EDSA or People Power, every rally or mobilization is billed as People Power that the term is losing its meaning.

I propose that when columnists, pundits, bloggers, etc. find themselves invoking the Martial Law comparison, they should immediately delete and re-write the sentence using a different more descriptive term or phrase. Only if the term Martial Law can describe the phenomena should we use it.

Definition of Terms

Martial Law

The term martial law has been equated with PP 1017 since the beginning. In a previous post, I argued that PP 1017 cannot be equated with martial law because that belittles the horrors Filipinos experienced because of Proclamation 1081 in. But in today's paper, a new meaning of Martial Law emerged, in their oral argument in front of the Supreme Court,
"Lawyers for seven petitioners said that PP 1017 was actually a declaration of martial law in the guise of a proclamation of a national state of emergency to go around a constitutional mandate that Ms Arroyo must report to Congress within 48 hours of its issuance."
In this instance, they are not equating PP 1017 with the Martial law of Marcos under the 1935 Constitution but with the Martial Law of the 1987 Constitution. And this to my mind is reasonable.

People might say this is semantic quibbling. I beg to differ, the Martial Law of the 1935 constitution, as demonstrated by Marcos is sweeping. It gives the President almost unlimited control of the country while the Martial Law of the 1987 constitution enacted limits and roadblocks to that kind of power. The 1987 constitution embodies the Filipinos learning from the 1972 declaration.

Blaming the Victim

Mr. Ike Eslao of Santa Rosa , Laguna wrote to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was giving his opinion on why our society
"drifts from one tyranny to another."
His answer is because
"Our society with its system of patronage and mendicancy is the generator of a steady supply of tyrants. We fail to look inside out and see that these leaders are a mere reflection of our own incompetence in self-management and our low self-esteem as a people with pre-set ideas on how power should be dispensed. For as long as the gene pool is that of jackasses, one cannot expect to breed winning racehorses."
Inother words, he is saying that we deserve the leaders that we get. And this is just blaming the victim.

No Filipino I know has ever gone to the polls thinking, I would like to vote for somebody who will violate my rights and oppress me. If you think about it, except for the present administration, Filipinos have invariably gone to the polls and voted for change. Cory Aquino won against Marcos, Fidel Ramos won because he projected a non-trapo image, Erap Estrada won because he was the opposite of the establishment. If we believe the opposition, Filipinos voted against the continuation of the present administration*.

To say that our society is to blame for producing tyrannical leaders leads to the conclusion that there is no hope for the country. If our society only produces tyrannical leaders, how can we now produce good leaders? Mr. Eslao's answer will be for our country to produce
active, independent, critical thinking society. But how do you produce these people? Will these people spontaneously appear to save our society from mendicancy? But how can they if our society only produces tyrannical leaders? And so on.

We cannot lay the responsibility for our present situation on our society, the blame should be placed squarely on the people who promised leadership and delivered nothing. Placing the blame on society only gives this people an excuse.

__________________
*The opposite conclusion can also be drawn, that Arroyo won as a reaction to the return of an Estrada or Estrada influenced government.

Women's Day

For Every Woman

For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong,
there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

For every woman who is tired of acting dumb,
there is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of "knowing everything."

For every woman who is tired of being called "an emotional female,"
there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.

For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes,
there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.

For every woman who is tired of being a sex object,
there is a man who must worry about his potency.

For every woman who feels "tied down" by her children,
there is a man who is denied the full pleasures of shared parenthood.

For every woman who is denied meaningful employment or equal pay,
there is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.

For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile,
there is a man who was not taught the satisfactions of cooking.

For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation,
there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier.


Copyright © 1973 Nancy R. Smith 154C Shore Drive Peabody, MA 01960
[
This poem found its way around the world by word of mouth as part of the Women's Movement and the many consciousness-raising groups in existence then. It was of the same timeframe as Ms. Magazine, Marilyn French's The Women's Room and Marlo Thomas' Free to Be album. It is important to understand its context. It has now been "adapted" with credit to Nancy R. Smith but without her permission. Much of the original wording is still intact in the adaptation, which is being sold in poster form. This is the original! ]

Question of Legitimacy

I've been planning to write about the question on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration. Fortunately, the martian beat me to it. My efforts would not be as readable or enlightening as his. I have not even thought of Gramsci.
"I believe it was Antonio Gramsci who dissected state power into two basic components: the ideological and the repressive aspects. In quite simple terms, the state inspires allegiance and obedience from people either by convincing them about its legitimacy and the righteousness of its actions, or by threats or the actual use of force. Institutions, like the family, the schools, the media, and religion, have a large role to play in legitimizing state power by molding us into "good citizens", convincing us not to get involved with state affairs, or by simply doing nothing to interfere with the state's business. In "normal" times, threats to use force or even "mild" force are enough to make people obey laws and are therefore much evident in our daily lives.

Now here's the interesting part. Gramsci's theory tells us that when the ideological processes of the state lose their efficacy, it is compelled more and more to rely on its repressive instrument. It replaces the carrot with a stick, so to speak, to make recalcitrants dance to its tune. Thus, if people continue raising questions regarding the credibility of the last elections and the legitimacy of the country's elected leaders, despite the President's admission on national television of "lapses in good judgement" in talking to an election official at the height of the counting of votes and her assertions that this act does not constitute cheating, the government is forced to employ measures that are more drastic than harassing or maligning some of the supposed witnesses in the case. And with persisting rumors of coups or military personnel switching over to the other side, the government declares a state of national emergency."
Check the complete post here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Another Sci-Fi Quiz

via The Intersection


You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

Random Ramblings on the SoE

The State of Emergency was lifted by President Arroyo last Friday but I just want to get some things off my chest.

1. Was it only me that found it ironic (historically speaking) that the marines were holed up in Fort Bonifacio while the Amy was in Camp Aguinaldo?

2. Has President Aquino lost her mind agreeing to cooperate with Imee Marcos? Never in my wildest dreams have I ever anticipated this. Somebody tell her this is a bad move!!!!!! Please!!!!
I think the PDI had it right when they wrote
"PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should give Rep. Imee Marcos and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada a medal. Every time public passions run high, the outrage begins to deflate the moment the two of them appear on the scene. They are living antidotes to People Power."
3. Atty Connie Veneracion, writing on the SOE wrote
"In constitutional law, a valid exercise of police power must pass the clear and present danger test."
She continues
"PP 1017 is based on one thing and one thing only—the alleged existence of a coup plot that threatens to overthrow the Arroyo administration."
So I was looking forward to an analysis whether the Philippine situation passed or failed that test, whether the mere allegation of a coup plot passes this test. But she goes completely off tangent discussing whether
“administration” synonymous with “state”
proving they are not synonymous, her conclusion becomes
"To be sure, it is not the agenda of the alleged attempted coup to abolish all existing socio-economic institutions to effect a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. There is likewise no intention to equitably distribute political power to create a genuinely representative government. Therefore, there is no clear and present danger against the state as it exists, as undemocratic as it may be. Since administration is not synonymous with state and that there is no clear and present danger against the state, then PP 1017 must be an invalid exercise of police power."
From her conclusion, even if the coup plotters were killing and raping people in the streets as long as they have no intention to abolish all existing socio-economic institutions etc... then there is no clear and present danger against the state. Which is an absurd conclusion.

4. Finally, a quote from Ms. Winnie Monsod
"the spirit of Edsa People Power is not dead, as some people say, perhaps to excuse their inability to mobilize a critical mass in the streets. It is very much alive -- not in those with self-serving agendas or who think of it in the narrow sense of street protests -- but in the quiet heroes engaged in the noble task of nation-building, especially in their own communities, who exercise people power as an instrument to make a better life for themselves, like the parents who work with local officials to improve the education of their children (i.e., Synergeia, about which I have often written), or who make sure that their local officials are accountable for the internal revenue allotments, or who strive to make the justice system work in their "barangay" [villages or neighborhood districts], or who even resort to the recall of non-performing local officials, or who resist projects that endanger their environment.

There are other manifestations of people power at a broader level. Like the private initiative, Gawad Kalinga, that is so purely unselfish in spirit that it has drawn countless people to help build not only homes but thriving communities for the underprivileged. Like government officials both low and high (Gem Carague at the Commission on Audit, and Karina David at the Civil Service Commission) who are engaged in institution-building despite the distractions and politicking around them.

Take those who are disappointed with the impeachment proceedings but know that the ultimate sanction in the accountability process in a democracy lies in elections. Hence, they object to the "no-el" [no-election] scenario and advocate truly credible elections in 2007. A Congress with a different composition can pursue the "closure" of the issue of national leadership.

There are thousands more like them around the country. This year I am celebrating Edsa People Power with them, because of them, for keeping the flame of Edsa People Power alive for all of us."

New Links

I give up, I freely admit that I am a political junkie, I was political science major, what else can I be. I write a lot about politicas and the Philippines and most people visit looking for information on the lates political happenings.

To help them I have provided links to the major dailies in the Philippines and some of the better political pundits.

Akbayan - because this is the political party that I support

PCIJ Blog - has been linked to sincevery early and is still the best source of up to date news and commentary on Phlippine issues. They are superior to the newspapers because they actually have an archive while our online papers do not.

Conrado de Quiros - is one of the best writers know. This blog seems to be a repository of his columns in the PDI.

Ye Olde Philippine Commentary - is a blog by Dean Jorge Bocobo, I used to read him when he still wrote for the inquirer and liked his style.

Manuel L. Quezon III - I also used to read him even when he was still writing for I think either the Globe or Today, he now writes for the Inquirer.

Freedom Watch - is a blog by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility which makes it self explanatory.

Alternation - is Sef's blog , he also deals with media issues.

Reading the news and this writers will give visitors a better understanding of what is happening in the Philippines.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Filipino's Proclamation

My friend, the martian, wrote his own proclamation in response to President Arroyo's Proclamation of a State of Emergency. It ends with these words
"Now, Therefore, I, the martian, a tax-paying Filipino citizen, by virtue of the rights granted to me by Section 4, Article 3 of the Philippine Constitution which states that: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances,” do hereby declare as a statement of fact that there is no state of national emergency today in the Philippines, and that I hold President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo accountable for any infringement of basic human rights that may result from her declaration of a state of national emergency."
Check it out here

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Building Democracy

Most Filipinos today are preoccupied with what the administration of President Arroyo is doing. People are concerned that her various actions are actually in preparation for a declaration of Martial Law.

Me, I focus more with what people are doing.

With the people who are falling all over themselves to petition the Supreme Court to declare Proclamation 1017 as unconstitutional.

With Ms. NiƱez Cacho-Olivarez and the Daily Tribune who despite police presence in their offices still publishes unfavorable opinions and news against the government. In fact, the whole Philippine media establishment, despite closure threats from government has discernibly not been more docile.

With the thousands of people who bravely disregard the no-rally policy from the government risking arrest and imprisonment doing so.

With the multitude of Filipinos who through the internet, letters to the editor, television interviews and other venues constantly remind the government that they are disagree with the government's action.

We are not under Martial Law. And I believe that we will never happen again because we have people willing to build democracy.

Thomas Jefferson once said
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."
our experience with Marcos and Martial law has taught us that lesson only too painfully.

Never Again.

Republic of Talaba

Tired of the issues in the Philippines, I created my own country, the Republic of Talaba. Talaba*, according to the United Nations is a Liberal Democratic Socialist state. It has very good civil rights, a fair economy and superb political freedoms.

I don't know how this will turn out, but this should help clarify my own positions in social issues. Let's see if I can do better than President Arroyo. :)

--------------------
*Talaba for those interested is Filipino for oyster

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Martial Law?

There's no shortage of people comparing President Arroyo's Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No.5, declaring a State of Emergency in the Philippines with President Marcos' Proclamation 1081, declaring Martial Law in the Philippines.

Conrado De Quiros has this to say about Proc. 1017 in his column
"Proclamation 1017-it is one of God's mysterious ways that that should sound like Marcos' Proclamation 1081 plunging the country into the darkness of martial law-is a martial law decree, not an emergency act."
While Manuel L. Quezon III, states
"THERE IS THIS POINT OF VIEW THAT A PRESIDENTIAL proclamation serves to publicize the state of mind of the chief executive. President Macapagal-Arroyo's Proclamation 1017 suggests a Marcosian state of mind. Lawyers have pointed out that the closing paragraph of the proclamation was lifted virtually verbatim from one of the most notorious proclamations in presidential and Philippine history: Proclamation 1081 of Sept. 21, 1972."
And the AKBAYAN party's statement reads,
"This event is alarming not only because it is our leaders who are involved. It is alarming because we now know exactly what GMA is capable of doing. She is, infact, capable of invoking dictatorial powers to stay in control. Martial law by any name – Proclamation 1017, State of Emergency, warrantless arrest, wholesale ban on public protest, take-over of public utilities, closure of media facilities -- IS martial law. It is very apparent that the state of emergency is nothing but a veiled promise to initiate a sweeping crackdown on forces opposing GMA."
concluding
" Democracy in this country has long been in the throes of death. Today, GMA has killed and buried it."
Powerful stuff, yet it has one flaw. They are wrong. Proclamation 1017 is no Martial Law.

Yes the last part is almost a verbatim copy of Proclamation 1081 (google cache). And yes, even if we concede that President Arroyo wants wants to have "martial law" powers, the fact is she does not.

What happened when President Marcos declared Martial Law? According to this site
"On September 21, 1972, Marcos issued Proclamation 1081, declaring martial law over the entire country. Under the president's command, the military arrested opposition figures, including Benigno Aquino, journalists, student and labor activists, and criminal elements. A total of about 30,000 detainees were kept at military compounds run by the army and the Philippine Constabulary. Weapons were confiscated, and "private armies" connected with prominent politicians and other figures were broken up. Newspapers were shut down, and the mass media were brought under tight control. With the stroke of a pen, Marcos closed the Philippine Congress and assumed its legislative responsibilities. During the 1972-81 martial law period, Marcos, invested with dictatorial powers, issued hundreds of presidential decrees, many of which were never published."
And according to NeverAgain.net
"Anybody could be picked up at anytime for any reason by the military or the police. You could wind up a detainee, or you could just vanish, a "salvage" victim. If you protested against the government, you were labeled a "subversive" or a "communist" or both and you were summarily arrested. People the government didn't like were tailed by security elements, their telephones tapped. A student who spoke up to Imee Marcos was murdered. No two words were more invoked and abused for the purposes of oppression than "national security." People were afraid to speak out. Marcos logic being what it was, the silence meant the people were happy."
The Arroyo administration is taking a lot of liberties in their pursuit of the coup plotters. And to my mind, they have certainly done illegal/unconstitutional acts, the raid on the Tribune is one, but Martial Law it does not make.

Comparing Proclamation 1017 with Proclamation 1081 belittles the horror and sacrifice undergone by Filipinos at that time.

In ending I would like to quote the Philippine Supreme court. I got this quote from the Alternative Law Group's petition to declare Proclamation 1017 unconstitutional. They quoted a passage from the Supreme Court's ruling dismissing a petition to declare Proclamation No. 427 and General Order No. 4, declaring a State of Rebellion unconstitutional. I think, as the Alternative Law Group does, that the quotation can be applied with Proclamation 1017 , only they will try to prove that the government has done what the Supreme court ruled it had not at that time. The ruling states
"The argument that the declaration of a state of rebellion amounts to a declaration of martial law and, therefore, is a circumvention of the report requirement, is a leap of logic. There is no indication that military tribunals have replaced civil courts in the "theater of war" or that military authorities have taken over the functions of civil government. There is no allegation of curtailment of civil or political rights. There is no indication that the President has exercised judicial and legislative powers. In short, there is no illustration that the President has attempted to exercise or has exercised martial law powers."