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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

As this year ends today, we look back with either mirth or anger, regret or resolve, laughter or sadness. This yearend is no exception. We have fought the good fight, we have run the race. Yet, the fight is not yet done, and the race has yet to end. Where do we go from here?

While many of us who belong to either side of the political fence can either claim victory or defeat, the determination to believe what is right and just will spill onto next year. There is no doubt that the forces of the Arroyo government will be prepared to meet the challenges posed by the opposition, but it is equally true that the latter will be relentless in their zeal to seek the truth and find closure to all the controversy that bedevils this administration which is largely the president's own making.

We are presently at a crossroad.

To those in the executive branch, must you continue to believe in the prevarications foisted by the powers that be, continue to enjoy their beneficence, continue to harvest the material fortunes offered while the rest of the country burns in disarray, in woe and in shameful poverty?

To those in the Erap opposition camp, must you continue to dream of reestablishing Erap whose incompetence, laziness and the scandalous company he kept paved the ascension of this present leader?

To those in Congress, must you continue to be lured by the pied piper from Pangasinan who continues to offer you goodies and sweets, not of his own produce, but from the sweat of the people’s brows, and whose naked ambition to become Prime Minister has become as stark as the pale moon? Will none of you dance out of step, draw the line in the sand and tell him there is no shame going against GMA, FVR and to sacrifice his own avarice for the good of all?

To the justices of the Supreme Court, must you continue to remain conservative in your judicial philosophy and thereby, advance the interests of government and big business or can you break out from your shells, be activist in your philosophies and leapfrog the cause of civil liberties to greater heights and for the good of Juan de la Cruz?

To those who remain mired in apathy, must you continue to hem and haw and feel disgusted at the political winds of this country without making a firmer stand? Every time you rationalize that you are sick of the politicking, you affirm our country’s moral ambiguity and confirm that political expediency is preferable over truth and justice. Our moral principles be damned? Is that what we intend to imbibe to our children?

To the bishops, must you continue to discern and be prudent all this time after seeing what this government is capable of doing just to perpetuate itself in power? Have you lost the voice of John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness or that of Jeremiah or Jonah calling upon the people and our leaders to put on their sackclothes and repent? Or have your calves been fattened that you are equally in fear of the material loss that you all may suffer since you have not put on the vow of poverty? Mammon before God?

May you live in interesting times is oft quoted as a curse that a Chinese spews to an enemy. But living in interesting times may become an opportunity for men of right to will the winds of change, to still the enemy and to stem the evil that beset our country.

As the year ends, we take stock of the path that we have chosen. We remain resolved to continue the fight for what is right and just. We dwell with mirth that the small steps we have taken this year will leap into a groundswell of realization that the perfidy of this government cannot last forever, that the evil that they do will rise to the surface and reveal itself more plain to the people. And while we are sad that the Lord has not revealed Himself in ways that we intended, we laugh at the victories that we have achieved, both in small steps and large paces, and remain confident that everything works for the good to those who believe.

We are still running the race, we are still fighting the good fight. The race is not yet over but our cup of confidence runneth over because in the end, good will outlast evil. And that is a happy thought as this year ends.

And so, on this crossroad, I greet you all a Happy New and leave this year with an Irish blessing which I recently imparted to a bosom friend:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ConCom - Much Ado About Nothing

Much has been said about the Consultative Commission. As a newsworthy event, the recommendations of the ConCom were fodder for bloggers and opinion writers who have lambasted the findings as being unrepresentative of the sentiments of the people. Or as Ricky Carandang shockingly discovered, genuine reforms were not even remotely suggested.

But that should hardly come as a surprise.

In the first place, the Consultative Commission was an idea born out of strife. It was a last ditch gasping effort of the Arroyo government selling whatever is left of its soul to maintain power. Its forebear is the July 7 incident when FVR expressed his support for GMA and the latter had agreed to a change of government in return for finishing the term.

Secondly, now that she has survived the worst political crisis of her career thus far, how can one expect the President to come up with genuine reforms when she agreed to FVR’s proposals then under the barrel of a gun? And even so, FVR’s proposal was for a mere change of government. For FVR, change of government IS the sole genuine reform.

Thirdly, the composition of the Consultative Commission is suspect to begin with. You may have a smattering of truly sincere commissioners who believe that the 1987 Constitution needed to be overhauled but by and large, the composition has been pre-determined to synchronize the political tastes of either GMA, FVR and JDV. It is no small wonder why none from Philippine Daily Inquirer was ever appointed and at least 3 columnists from Malacañan friendly newspaper, Philippine Star, were recruited to support the Cha Cha bandwagon. One columnist had an ax to grind against Senator Lacson, another - the female columnist whose parents spearheaded the drive to amend the 1987 Constitution to perpetuate FVR in power and the last is a political analyst closely allied with FVR and GMA.

Fourthly, while the composition has been pre-determined, the proposed provisions have already been scripted to accommodate GMA and her minions. However loud the rantings and debates that may have occurred within the halls where the Commission meets, the conclusion was not unexpected.

Lastly, the consultations they did with the people are as scientific as the phone-in texts surveys one sees in all these TV programs. Contrast that to the Pulse Asia survey which found that most Filipinos know little about the 1987 Constitution but do not favor a shift in government. The surveys clearly showed one thing: why tinker with a document that has no seeming relevance on their daily lives?

Since its genesis was suspect, the members handpicked, the process flawed, and the outcome predictable, the ConCom is really much ado about nothing. If at all, it shows the continuing chutzpah of the president to even think that we can be hoodwinked by this amateurish attempt at legitimacy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Supreme Court Power Play

The President made a strategic choice in appointing Justice Artemio Panganiban as Chief Justice, not so much because he is hardworking (undoubtedly) but to put a leash on Justice Reynato Puno.

In the order of hierarchy, Justice Puno is the most senior justice in the Supreme Court after Chief Justice Davide. Logically and by tradition, he should have been the Chief Justice. Had he been appointed, he would have been chief justice until 2010. But since Justice Panganiban has only 11 months or so before retirment and considering that he played a yeoman's role in installing GMA as president, the latter rewarded him the coveted post.

And in so doing, she is obliquely warning Justice Puno to tow the government line, support the government's policies on CPR, E. O. 464 , etc. or else, she may install an outsider like Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago who wants to infect us with her IlongChigan (Ilonggo-Michigan) form of legalese and wisdom.

And so, it is entirely possible that Justice Puno will remain beholden to the president until such time that he is appointed as Chief Justice. Or he may just retire out of amor propio. But that would be a foolish move. Claudio Teehankee had the ignominous experience of having been bypassed twice by lesser lights. Yet, he persevered. Justice Puno's retiring at this point serves no cogent purpose other than to assuage his pride. He should march on as a good and faithful servant of the law.

But knowing his independent streak even amongst his High Court brethren, he may just decide to forego the headship of the Supreme Court, fiscalize and perform the role of another great justice who never became Chief - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. And do what is right and just though the heavens fall.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

NWA: Northwest Arses

Last night, 17 December, my sister, her husband and daughter were scheduled to arrive from the United States. They took Northwest Flight No. 71. Since our driver took a leave of absence, I asked my nephew to accompany me to the airport. Not wanting to wait in the waiting lounge which actually resembled a cockpit pen, we decided to kill time and grab some bite at a nearby resto.

Since I thought Northwest was a First World airline and their services first class even when their offices are in Third World countries, I relied on their automated number 841-8800 and the automated response I always got was that NW 71 would land at 1050 p.m.

At 1115 p.m., thinking that my sister would have enough time to complete the immigration and customs requirements as well as pick up their pieces of luggage from the carousel, I went to the airport at around 1130 p.m., only to see in the TV monitor that the flight has been delayed and will arrive at 11 a.m. the next day.

So, I went home and at around 230 a.m. today, I received a long distance call from my sister from Narita Airport. She informed me that they were delayed due to some technical problems and they were going to fly out at 7 a.m.

But here is the thing: all the passengers were just sleeping in the airport, none of them were billeted to hotel rooms, each one of them were given a blanket to lie down and sleep on the airport floor, no dinner was given, only snacks and soda, and as a konswelo de bobo, were given a phone card worth US$5 to do an "E.T." and phone home.

It turns out that with them in the plane were Congressman Pichy Pie or rather Pichay who was coming home from the US to accompany ex-convict, ex-congressman, expat and ex-genius, Mark Jimenez, from the States who is coming home either to make life difficult for former Secretary of Justice Nani Perez or to remain and rest in precious bills of silence. Only time will tell.

But my sister informed me that Congressman Pichay was so incensed that a personnel with him, a certain Aga Francisco, is making the rounds and listing all the names of the Filipino passengers to file a class action suit against the already Chaptered 11 airline.

I agree that they should file a class action tort suit against Northwest Airlines for their shabby treatment of Filipino passengers which included women and children who were not even given the decency of warm food and a soft bed. They should also be sued for false information. One who relies on their automated response should be equally incensed at the indolence of their personnel to change the data or update their automated information. We may be Third World but we should not allow Northwest Airlines to get off easy at their cavalier treatment of our compatriots abroad and for their lousy system here.

Come on, Congressman Prospero Pichay, Jr. For once, serve the interests of the Filipino people, not solely that of GMA, and sue the bejesus out of Northwest Airlines. And make all the passengers truly prosperos.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Senior Citizen's Discount

The recent arrest cum invitation of the police to former General Fortunato Abat shows that this government has no sense of humor.

The former General Abat whose time has passed should have been ignored.  His call for a transition government was a joke even amongst the administration. But someone within the Palace lost his sense of humor and decided to go after a senior citizen.

They did not even give the old man a senior citizen’s discount to vent his ire against this government. This senior gadfly should have been left to his own devices. His constant prancing against the Arroyo government should have been allowed to prove to the world that this government still knows how to humor itself.  But with Gen. Abat’s arrest, the Arroyo administration has added a new woe to its ever growing inanities, from cheating, lying, stealing, CPR, shootout, rubout, now comes suing senior citizens.  Is there no end to GMA’s intolerance?  

If she thought the middle class are too deaf and dumb to rise up to another EDSA, she may be in for a surprise. The senior citizens may be the next front liners in a senior people power revolution.

And they will rue the day they “invited” Abat to a salabat.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Winter of Discontent

If the administration thinks that by presenting Garci at the height of the Christmas shopping season, it was going to deflate the anger and outrage against the president, they thought wrong.

If Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye thinks he can baffle everybody with his trademark b. s. in his daily roundups with the Malacanang press corps, he thought wrong.

If Comelec Chairman Abalos thinks he is God’s gift to our electoral system by computerizing the elections and awarding it to his wedding compadre, he thought wrong.

If Winnie Monsod thinks that by her sheer mastery of figures and common sense reasoning, she can convince the Filipino people that everyone cheats anyway and that GMA won the presidential elections through the surveys, she thought wrong.

If the First Gentleman thinks that by coming home and becoming a godfather to the Filipino athletes in the SEA Games, he could earn the trust and gratitude of the Filipino people, he thought wrong.

If Chief of Staff designate Senga thinks that he can convince the Senate and the Commission on Appointments with a wink and a smile that AFP has no wiretapping capability, he thought wrong

If Bishops Capalla, Rosales and Cardinal Vidal think that telling the laity to move on and forgive GMA would be the healing balm of our country and the spiritual solution to our moral agony, they thought wrong.

They are all wrong because we are now dwelling in the winter of our discontent.

A discontent that admittedly has not reached critical mass but soon it will because the government continues to treat us Filipinos as deaf and dumb. They continue to foist lies, half-truths and transient economic figures which will only get worse come next year.

We are in a season of discontent because the ice of hostility and rancor has not thawed in large part due to the refusal of this government to come clean in its abusive and nefarious ways to remain in power. No closure can be expected if this government does not believe anything was wrong in the first place.

And there will never be peace on God’s green earth as long as people of goodwill will not rise above their indifference and apathy. We deserve the government we have because we have become lukewarm and callous to evil.

And if there is one winter of discontent that is worse, it is that our moral equilibrium, our sense of right and wrong have been severely damaged that we based our decisions not on what is good or evil but rather, we live lives in the soft bigotry of low expectations.

And that is the coldest winter to date of our country.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Garci Tapes - In Aid Of Legislation

Are They Covered By R. A. No. 4200?

(This extended research was submitted to my Palace friends and the Opposition prior to the Remulla hearings of the Garci tapes)


From the moment intercepted and recorded cellular phone conversations between Commissioner Garcillano and other political personalities were publicly aired over TV and radio, most everybody concluded that the Garci Tapes (for brevity) were in violation of Republic Act No. 4200, otherwise known as the Anti-Wiretapping Act which was passed on 19 June 1965. But are they really in violation?

The conclusion reached herein is that the Garci tapes which contained recorded cellular phone conversations between Commissioner Garcillano and other personalities are not covered by Section 1 of R. A. No. 4200. The conclusion finds legal bases under Philippine jurisprudence as well as American laws and decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.

This study is in aid of legislation and hopes to enrich the discussion on Republic Act No. 4200 in order to keep it abreast of technological developments and for that reason, to amend the law as may be necessary to cope with advances of modern telecommunications and to put necessary constitutional safeguards.

R. A. No. 4200

Under R. A. No. 4200, Section 1 provides the punishable offenses, to wit:

"Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described;

It shall be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person: Provided, that the use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned in Section 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition."

In Section 1, the following are the instances where the crime of wiretapping is committed:

a. A person, not authorized by the parties, taps, by wire or cable their private communication or spoken word;

b. A person, not authorized by the parties, uses any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word;

c. A person, whether a party to the private communication or spoken word or not, who:

c.1 knowingly possesses any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof;

c.2 Replays the same for any other person or persons;

c.3 Communicates the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person;


Whether or not the Garci tapes constitute a violation of Republic Act No. 4200?


It is submitted that the Garci tapes which are a recording of cellular phone conversations of Commissioner Garcillano with other personalities are not in violation of Republic Act No. 4200.


As provided in Sec. 1 of R. A. No. 4200, the first instance of the crime of wiretapping is committed when a person illegally taps a wire or cable. In other words, one who illegally taps a telephone line is guilty of the crime.

But conventional wisdom overlooks the fact that cellular phones are neither wire nor cable-based. Cellular phones do not operate by wires or cables. Moreover, Republic Act No. 4200 was passed on 19 June 1965 or long before the invention of cellular phones. Even the Senate Congressional Records of the debates where the late great Senator Lorenzo Tañada defending the proposed bill and jousting with fellow learned solons Senators Jose Diokno and Ambrosio Padilla showed no allusion to cellular phones since they were obviously not in existence at the time. Since cellular phones are wireless or cable-less, they do not fall under the first instance. Therefore, a person who "taps" a cellular phone conversation is not guilty of the first instance.

However, some may say that recorded cellular phone conversations are still covered by the second instance since a "device or arrangement" was employed to secretly overhear and record private communications. Our Supreme Court does not agree and in fact, spelled out the meaning of "device or arrangement".

In the case of Edgardo Gaanan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al. (G. R. No. L-69809, 16 October 1986), the Supreme Court, when deciding whether a telephone extension is a device covered by R. A. No. 4200, had occasion to define "device or arrangement" in this manner:

An extension telephone cannot be placed in the same category as a dictaphone, dictagraph or the other devices enumerated in Section 1 of RA No. 4200 as the use thereof cannot be considered as "tapping" the wire or cable of a telephone line. The telephone extension in this case was not installed for that purpose. It just happened to be there for ordinary office use. It is a rule in statutory construction that in order to determine the true intent of the legislature, the particular clauses and phrases of the statute should not be taken as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part thereof must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts. (see Commissioner of Customs v. Esso Estandard Eastern, Inc., 66 SCRA 113, 120).

In the case of Empire Insurance Company v. Rufino (90 SCRA 437, 443-444), we ruled:

"Likewise, Article 1372 of the Civil Code stipulates that `however general the terms of a contract may be, they shall not be understood to comprehend things that are distinct and cases that are different from those upon which the parties intended to agree.' Similarly, Article 1374 of the same Code provides that 'the various stipulations of a contract shall be interpreted together, attributing to the doubtful ones that sense which may result from all of them taken jointly.'
xxx xxx xxx

"Consequently, the phrase `all liabilities or obligations of the decedent' used in paragraph 5(c) and 7(d) should be then restricted only to those listed in the Inventory and should not be construed as to comprehend all other obligations of the decedent. The rule that `particularization followed by a general expression will ordinarily be restricted to the former' is based on the fact in human experience that usually the minds of parties are addressed specially to the particularization, and that the generalities, though broad enough to comprehend other fields if they stood alone, are used in contemplation of that upon which the minds of the parties are centered. (Hoffman v. Eastern Wisconsin R., etc., Co., 134 Wis. 603, 607; 115 NW 383, cited in Francisco, Revised Rules of Court (Evidence), 1973 ed., pp. 180-181."

Hence, the phrase "device or arrangement" in Section 1 of RA No. 4200, although not exclusive to that enumerated therein, should be construed to comprehend instruments of the same or similar nature, that is, instruments the use of which would be tantamount to tapping the main line of a telephone. It refers to instruments whose installation or presence cannot be presumed by the party or parties being overheard because, by their very nature, they are not of common usage and their purpose is precisely for tapping, intercepting or recording a telephone conversation." (emphasis supplied)
Applying the principle of ejusdem generis which provides that "where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned" (RP v. Migriño, G. R. No. 89483, 30 August 1990), the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of "device or arrangement" to instruments which could tap a telephone line. Therefore, conversely under the Gaanan definition, a device or arrangement which seeks to overhear cellular phone (which are neither wire nor cable-based) conversations are clearly not covered by R. A. No. 4200.

The Gaanan decision is the logical consequence of zeitgeist. It must be noted the Supreme Court took judicial notice that when Senate Bill No. 9, which later became R. A. No. 4200, was being debated in 1964, telephone extensions were already in wide use. In fact, debates on the floor ensued on whether overhearing through a telephone party line was punishable. And yet, the final bill did not include telephone party lines. If a telephone party line which was already in vogue was excluded from the enumeration of "device or arrangement", how can we justify the inclusion of cellular phones as covered by the law when they were not even invented in the first place? And how can we justify the inclusion of any device to record or overhear cellular phones when the great senators of our Republic never even dreamt of telecommunications equipment which will not require the appendage of wire or cable?

R. A. No. 4200 did not and could not have anticipated the rise of cellular phones. To be quite technical, wire-tapping a cellular phone is an oxymoron because at the risk of being redundant, there is no wire or cable to tap on a cellular phone. The proper term applicable to “tapping” cellular phone conversations is intercepts.

It is axiomatic in substantive criminal law that penal statutes must be construed strictly in favor of the accused. Thus, if any doubt exists as to the applicability of R. A No. 4200 on cellular phone recording as a forbidden act, the doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused.

We can further appreciate the non-applicability of R. A. No. 4200 in the light of American experience on wire-tapping.

Brief U.S. History on Wiretapping

The first case of wiretapping in the United States was the celebrated case of United States v. Olmstead (277 U.S. 438 [1928])) where Federal prohibition agents wiretap a telephone conversation between Olmstead and his lawyer. The Supreme Court ruled that the evidence obtained through wiretap was admissible because there was no physical intrusion into either the home or office of the defendant but however suggested that Congress can protect the protect the secrecy of the telephone conversations by making them inadmissible under certain circumstances.

As a result, the US Congress passed the Communications Act of 1934 and in one of its sections, prohibited the intercept of communications and disclosing the communication unless authorized by the sender.

In 1968, responding to several Federal Supreme Court decisions on the admissibility of evidence of wiretapped communications, the US Congress passed the Federal Wiretap Act that prohibited the willful intercept of wire (primarily telephone) or oral communications. However, with new technology, the definition of oral or wire communication under the Federal Wiretap Act led the courts to struggle whether portable telephones and mobile telephones (cellular phone predecessor) were covered under the Federal Wiretap Act. To solve the seeming vacuum, Congress passed the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 which amended the Federal Wiretap Act and specifically included cellular phone conversations within the prohibition. And in 1994, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act further amended the Federal Wiretap Act and prohibited the unauthorized intercept of the broadcast portion of portable or cordless telephone conversations.

As a result of these amendments, the US Supreme Court, in the case of Bartnicki v. Vopper (532 U. S. 514 [2001]), ruled that respondents were guilty of disclosing the unauthorized intercepts of cellular phone conversations although the Court ruled that the statutes violated the First Amendment clause or the “free speech” clause of the US Constitution because the matters discussed in the cellular phone conversations were matters of public interest.

Presently, the US Congress has tried to keep abreast with developments in modern communications such electronic email, voice mail etc. More so with a post 9/11 atmosphere and the passing of the US Patriot Act, wiretapping and surveillance have become necessary tools in the fight against crime and terrorism.

Our Experience

Contrasted with the U.S. evolution of wiretapping laws as well as the expansion of subjects that were covered by subsequent amendments, the Philippines has largely left R. A. No. 4200 untouched. And if one considers the dilemma of US Congress over the definition of wire or oral communication and the subsequent inclusion of cellular phones as a prohibited medium in 1986, one can leave with a conclusion that cellular phones and intercepts of their conversations were clearly not covered or anticipated by R. A. No. 4200.

As a necessary consequence thereof, one may be argue that since the intercepts of cellular phone conversations are not covered by the prohibition in the law, the tapes may be received in evidence subject to the procedural rules on admissibility of evidence.

This study is merely limited to the applicability of R. A. No. 4200 to cellular phone conversations. In the light of wireless technology and advances in telecommunications, the law, as presently worded, is woefully outmoded and is in dire need of revision. Otherwise, we will be in the same situation a few years back when the NBI could not prosecute the creator of the Love Bug virus that wreak havoc all over the Internet because there was no law covering property destruction on the Internet.

Proposed Legislative Measures

It is recommended that in the light of rapid advances in wireless technology, telecommunications equipment and the like, R. A. No. 4200 must be revisited and re-examined to update itself with present technology, their definitions, and the scope of the law’s prohibited coverage. Moreover, it is further recommended that taking into consideration the American experience and a wealth of jurisprudence on wiretapping and surveillance, safeguards be put in place to prevent any abridgment of any constitutional rights of the persons sought to be investigated. In that way, we can ensure that wiretapping and electronic surveillance will not be abused and that acts that ought to be covered by the law can be proscribed without fear or doubt by enforcement officials or by the courts of law.

CBCP: Cabal of Banal Catholic Prelates

I am a Catholic. I have always believed in the teachings of the Catholic Church. No matter how anathema they are to communists, liberals, secular humanists, Freemasons, modernists and women’s libbers, I am willing to die a martyr’s death. Even when the recent born-again phenomenon threatened to unravel the stranglehold of the Catholic Church among the indifferent, the lukewarm and the devoted, I have stuck my neck out for my church.

But today, this Church is not worth sticking one’s neck out especially the local one found in the Philippines. More so, the unenlightened hierarchy which we call the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or the CBCP. Its appellation is actually a misnomer. Its beliefs are more syncretistic than Catholic, its bishops more pawns than leaders, and it is less a conference and more a dictatorship. The CBCP is an institution bordering on irrelevance.

It has not always been so. Jaime Cardinal Sin fashioned the CBCP in a manner that government could not dismiss as mere piffle. It was an organization that one trifles with at the risk of pastoral letters being read in Sunday masses demanding civil disobedience. It was a body that government feared offending lest the hand of God stretches itself out and smite the ungodly. It was a powerhouse all unto itself.

But now, thanks to the immediate past president, Bishop Fernando Capalla, the CBCP is a ghost of itself. Were it once was the voice crying out in the wilderness, the CBCP is now a howling wilderness. Were it once was the harbinger of decisive action, it is now the voice of indecision. Were it once kowtowed to no one, it is now a servile serf.

Bishop Capalla and his confreres forgot that the role of the CBCP is to agitate the faithful to a calling greater than themselves, to lay down one’s life for a friend or country. Instead, he called on the bishops to brood, brood and brood on the cheating, lying and stealing and called on all of us laity to move on, to be unmindful to the ever present darkness that continues to haunt this country.

Bishop Capalla and the bishops have brought no peace to this country by their call, no closure by siding with the powers that be, no end to our woes by their cowardice. In him and the bishops must we cast the blame for the continued reign of avarice, greed, corruption and bribery in this country because none of them saw fit to call this government a most foul creature. None of them are fit to wear the shoes of the fisherman, much less that of Jaime Cardinal Sin.

But all is not lost. It is hoped that Bishop Lagdameo, the new CBCP President, will use the authority of his position to confront evil where it may be found, whether in the tapes or in the ballot boxes, in the marketplace or in the pews.

Actually, Bishop Lagdameo has no choice. In him rests the fate of CBCP. He can either remain lukewarm to the cries of his people, consign CBCP to the dustbin of history or he can stand up, raise the banner of Christ and confront Satan and all his works, in all his forms and in any gender where he may reside.

That should be a no-brainer. But then again, with Bishop Capalla, I thought that was too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Garci In Wonderland

Lest anyone think that Garci is a hapless victim, one only has to look at his countenance. For someone who is on the run, Garci should have, by all accounts, surfaced gaunt and emaciated. Instead, he is in picture perfect health, with a double chin to boot, a bigger paunch, and if I am not mistaken, his mane has acquired some sheen.

Like a Gatling gun, Garci alighted from his speedboat spewing out names from both the opposition and the administration who spoke to him. He claims to be telling the truth and is his own man.

But of the names mentioned, he identified leaders of the opposition while naming only second or third-tier lieutenants belonging to the administration. Names like Ricky Sandoval whose claim to fame is being a (de)Spice(d) Boy and a known recipient of agricultural fertilizer funds representing a district submerged underwater for half of a god-forsaken year. Or Rafael Nantes who is not a Who’s Who but a sino siya?

In spewing out more names in his coming congressional appearance, Garci intends to do an Alice in Wonderland and wants all of us to fall with him into a rabbit hole, filled with absurdities, innuendoes, and half-truths. We should not be as gullible.

But if there be truth in what Garci shall be exposing come this 7th of December, it is the fact that all those who spoke to him, from the lawmakers to the queen’s men and the queen herself have violated the sacrosanct nature of the Commission on Elections which under our soon-to-be defiled 1987 Constitution sublimely emphasizes the COMELEC as a constitutionally independent body.

And just as important as identifying the voices in the tapes or those Garci claimed spoke to him, Garci’s revelations will show the depth of infestation of the corruption in our electoral system, more so as it is headed by a former politician whose loyalty to the president is beyond reproach but whose fealty to the Constitution is equally questionable.

And so, consistent with my belief in the Equal Protection of the Laws, to all those who spoke to Garci including the First Gentleman and the President herself, I say “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” No amount of justification, whether by the president or the opposition, whether to protect the votes kuno or rig them, can be raised. Talking to a COMELEC Commissioner is simply unconscionable and illegal because like judges, they are bound by the Canons of Judicial Ethics

None of those who called Garci, if true, deserve any longer to be hailed the people’s elected since none of them chose to trust the will of the governed. They chose to rig the votes. And the President, primus inter pares, was and is the most culpable. So, let us start with hers. And let them hang together or let them hang separately. Honestly, I do not care!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

We Are What We Appreciate

Another weekend poem from the 12-year old Xavier lad, Matthew Go, whose understanding of human emotions speaks well beyond his years. Our human capital may be in flight but our artistic expression shall remain inestimable with poets nurtured young and poems crafted with grace
How often we don’t cry when tears are needed
And how often we weep for the wrong reasons
How often we don’t feel what is meant to be
How often we neglect what we touch and see

All the things whether we see or not were always there
But they vanish as quickly as we ignore
We avoid contact with things that fuel our existence
We are fools not to notice there is more

We have so much to give yet it is us who take
We have so much to love yet it is us who hate
We have so much to laugh yet it is us who wail
We have so much to win yet it is us who fail

The fundamentals of life are the most basic
Yet to others it is out of reach
And as the hands clutch and miss the chance
Goodness flees with no backward glance

We are what we feel
We are what we do
We are what we create
We are what we appreciate

Sit down & listen to the rain hit the ground
Look up and leap at the beauty of the clouds
Hear the banter of children at play
Smell the spring after the last winter day

Pity those who see only what their minds wish
For there is so much more than what it seems
Heaven has always been around us
Our work, our play, our dreams…

- Matthew Go -

Friday, December 02, 2005

Validation Of The Garci Tapes

If there was one thing I learned while employed in the law firm of the late great Senator Raul Roco, it is to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to a legal problem. While the law and its varied rules and regulations may take precedence, other sciences should equally be brought to bear on any given subject.

Which brings us to the Garci tapes. Practically everybody has been caught up with the external validation of the Garci tapes as if the falsity of the conversations will be resolved once the tapes are considered inadmissible. Mike Defensor, in his usual amateurish attempts at damage control, brought out a technical expert with a string of cases, only to have his technical expert debunked.

The argument the tapes must be externally validated in order to determine the authenticity of the tapes is a valid one. But it applies with greater force to those tapes whose voices we do not know, not the Garci tapes where the authors of the voices are public figures and clearly identifiable, the president’s voice being the most prominent, she admitting as much that she spoke to a COMELEC official at the height of the elections. To hear congressmen talk about splicing and technical issues re the Garci tapes where there are really no substantial squabble on those points is a waste of intellectual discourse and an excercise in sophistry.

The insistence therefore by pro-GMA people that one has to go through external validation of the tapes is an argument to obfuscate the obvious complicity of the president to subvert the electoral will of the people.

Which brings me to Professor Randy David’s discussion on the internal validation of the Garci Tapes. According to the good professor, authenticity of taped conversations is not limited to the externalities to comply with legal requirements. Rather, the truth of the tapes can be independently determined by reviewing the patterns of conversations between the protagonists in the tapes.

It is this simple yet convincing presentation of Prof. David’s argument that the concept of internal validation must be accorded the same evidentiary weight as external validation. His explanation of the consistency of the conversations and the logic behind the cryptic dialogues between the president and Garci yields to a scientific certainty that the voices are those of Garci and the president. For just as much as external authentication is matter of expert opinion, so does the justification, study, and process of internal validation a matter of expertise which can be permitted under our Rules of Court

Thus far, no contrary expert or opinion has been leveled against Prof. Randy David. His conclusion appears to be impeccable. And that makes compelling reason for the legislature to secure the attendance of Prof. David to explain the sociological relevance, the science behind human conversations in general and the Garci tapes in particular.

To do so would bolster the case against Garci and this presidency. And that is why Garci, the fount of electoral evil, was hid in the first place. But in doing so, they forgot a line by the English poet, William Cowper: “Absence of proof is not proof of absence”.

And that will haunt them, sooner rather than later, I hope.