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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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Much Ado About Mar's Curse

So much has been commented on Mar Roxas' swearing during the Anti Charter Change Rally. The papers found his cussing a novel experience that they had to mention that it was a departure from Mar's usual decorum. Big Deal! [Incidentally, can someone enlighten me why is it when we cuss in Filipino, we damn the mother ("Putang Ina") while the Spanish damn the son ("Hijo de puta")]

For one thing, it's a welcome change! Mar's dry, droning, didactic decorum has finally given way to a more personal, emotional, bombastic and fighting personality that we should have seen much much earlier. I say, let Mar be the Mr. Palengke he is supposed to be - not the dancing senator with the vendors, but the senator that can convey and express his thoughts and his words in a manner and disposition that any common Juan de la Cruz can empathize and identify with. He may be descended from the Araneta Roxas clan but he should speak and talk to people like Mang Pandoy or the magtataho.

The Palace knows how important it is to relate to the masses. That is the reason why they have criticized the speech of Mar, specifically his cuss words. But let us not be deceived by Anthony Golez and his ilk. They are merely posturing and they know that if Mar descends to the level of the masses, his numbers will surge.

Mar's cursing in the middle of a rally protesting the Palace plans of charter change reminded me of a Christian pastor who was addressing a group of devout Christians regarding world hunger and specifically, the famine in Africa. In his passioned presentation of the gravity of the famine in Africa, he sensed the audience was not relating to the problem. And so, he let slip the cuss word "Damn" in his speech and immediately, the audience was outraged at how a Christian pastor, a man of God, can swear in his speech. The pastor then reprimanded the whole audience that in the hierarchy of things, a curse word is far less than sinful than the indifference they have shown to the plight of the hungry people in Africa.

We should not lose focus on GMA's plans for charter change. Let us not be bothered by Mar's cursing. In the grand scheme of things, Mar's curse will only cost his soul to be damned, if at all, but GMA's devious charter change will damn this country's soul forever.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

MOA-AD Intervention

Today, the bloggers made political history.  

Led by Manolo Quezon, the bloggers, among others, filed a Motion for Intervention before the Secretary General of the House of Representatives, asking that we be allowed to intervene and include the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional.

If you watched the ANC interview of Manolo, it would seem like the Secretary General who I understand to be a lawyer could have immediately accepted the Motion.  After all, it is merely ministerial on her part under the Constitution and under the House Rules to accept any impeachment related pleading. Discretion was never ever given to the Secretary General whether to accept the Motion.

And instead of using her basic knowledge of procedural law and how the Rules of Court are suppletory in character in the absence of any specific provision in the House Rules,  the Secretary General dilly dallied, conferred with her superior, presumably the Speaker and made what could have been a non-event into a media frenzy.  

In the end, the Secretary General declared that the Motion is an unprecedented pleading and decided that the best course to take is to accept the Motion for Intervention and let the pertinent House Committee rule on it.

As a blogger, it was an honor to have my signature affixed on this document. Whatever the consequences are, we need to show our country that we have an incumbent president who has failed to honor the "take care" clause in the Constitution, sacrificing the country's interest in favor of her own political ambitions and must of consequence, be held accountable to the ills she has cursed this nation with.

The motion is a challenge also to all those minority congressmen who have taken a jaded view of the impeachment proceedings and to all those congressmen who strongly believed that the President's assent to the MOA would have dismembered the Republic.  It is for these congressmen to stand up to their principles and be counted.  Lest we think that the pork barrel has made them fattened calves and their minds demented with slothful plaque.

Here is the link to the MOA Intervention.  The arguments are sound and solid. Anyone who reads the motion will come away convince that the President should not stay a day longer in office.  

Yes, We Can!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I know that Adel Tamano will not take kindly to the title in this post but there just seems to be no appropriate word for the proceeding that occurred yesterday in the House Justice Committee when it dismissed the Tamano complaint. In deference to Adel who is a Muslim, I could have called it a farce or a staged show but none comes close to aptly describe the stench that filled the proceedings in Matt Defensor's Justice Committee.

The dismissal was to be expected. A few days before Adel filed his supplemental pleading, Congressman Ronnie Zamora met with civil society groups and representatives of the opposition and told them bluntly that Congressman Defensor was giving the Pulido impeachment complaint two weeks of air time and then, they will lower the boom. What he also told them was that the House will never allow a supplemental or an amended complaint. What we saw yesterday was the moro-moro script at work.

The dismissal was expected. Adel knew that the complaint was going to be dismissed but hoped that civic conscience, the principles of accountability and good government would convince the majority congressmen to allow the supplemental pleading. After all, the Francisco case was vague on those issues and a fair reading of the House Rules, and I mean a fair reading, would have allowed supplemental pleadings to be filed.

In typical lapdog fashion, Matt Defensor rejected outright the supplemental complaint, claiming in an ANC interview that in a long line of Supreme Court cases, the constitution only allows one impeachment complaint a year. Well, for the life of me, I tried to research on his so called list of cases rendered by the Supreme Court and I could only find one - the Francisco case. And I also looked at American jurisprudence and I could find none. Matt Defensor must have been so fawning in his defense of his President that he went out of his way to claim the myriad non-existent cases on impeachment. I thought his son Mike Defensor was already the epitome of a bootlicker. The dad is much worse, he even invents jurisprudence! Which makes him a more foolish fool and nothing but!

The truth is, the Justice Committee has been compromised since October 11 when the majority congressmen trooped to the Palace to partake of what Manolo Quezon calls the cash bar buffet in Malacanang.

But I think the opposition congressmen failed to make of a golden opportunity to pounce and taunt their peers in Congress. When Congresswoman Trisha Bonoan David railed against being included as those who received money from the Palace, Congressman Guingona should have immediately and individually asked the other members of the Justice Committee this question: "How about you Congressman So and So, nakatanggap ka ba ng pera sa bahay ni Ate Glo?" Let each one of them respond or obfuscate the question. It would have been worthwhile to see these honest and hardworking congressmen deny accepting "Christmas gift" or "Kampi donation" before the public.

Unfortunately, none of the opposition congressmen wanted to rock the boat. And the golden opportunity passed. That was not moro-moro on the part of the opposition congressmen. They just forgot to "carpe diem".

And so, we are cursed with listening to Matt Defensor repeat his mantra. Do not give much hope to holding the Pulido complaint sufficient in substance. Sufficient in form merely means it was properly verified and endorsed by an administration congressman. But even on that score, Matt Defensor does not know his law. To verify an impeachment complaint means that the congressman believes that the allegation is true and correct of his own knowledge or based on authentic records. But Congressman Egay San Luis was heard on record to have said that he does not the truth and he wants to know the truth. In short, poor Egay gaily signed an impeachment complaint which he does believe to true, yet. I dont know where Matt took up his Civil Procedure but I'm sure he did not take up law in the best law school in Rockwell.

The impeachment case is hopeless not because of the lack of political will of those who believe GMA is guilty but the lack of political courage of the majority congressmen who sold their votes for a pottage.

The great tragedy is that people believe we should allow the president to stay on till 2010. How sure are we that she is going to step down?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Garci Tapes:Damnum Absque Injuria?

This is a reposting of the issue on the admissibility of the Garci tapes which I posted on 18 July 2005.

From the moment the Garci tapes were revealed by Messrs. Paguia and Bunye, everybody concluded those tapes which were surreptitious recordings of cellular phone conversations of Commissioner Garcillano ("Garci") with other people violated R. A. No. 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act.

What are the undisputed facts? First, the military intelligence (despite their protestations) recorded the cellular phone conversations of Garci with the President. Second, the distinct voice of GMA is audibly heard. And, third, the recordings were not authorized either by Garci or GMA. Ergo, the tapes are in violation of R. A. No. 4200 and is inadmissible in evidence.

I do not think it is all that simple. And here lies my doubts.

R. A. No. 4200 was enacted on 19 June 1965 under the able defense of the late, great Senator Lorenzo Tañada, the lolo of Congressman Erin Tañada of the Drilon wing of the Liberal Party. Under the law, the crime of wiretapping is committed if an unauthorized person taps the wire or cable, or uses a device to secretly overhear or record oral or private conversations, or possesses, distributes the tapes or replays the recording.

It must be remembered that at the time of its enactment, there were no wireless cellular or cordless phones in existence. Since no such equipment existed, R. A. No. 4200 could not be stretched to include "wiretapping" of cell phone conversations. In addition to this, in 1986, the Supreme Court, in the case of GAANAN v. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, defined "device" to secretly overhear or record conversations as an instrument that taps the main line of a telephone. In other words, R. A. No. 4200 was envisioned to apply only to telephone lines or what we call now in this wireless age as "landlines". The law is silent on cordless and cellular phones.

Some may say this argument hew too closely to the letter of the law and that we should interpret the law broadly by invoking the spirit "that giveth life". In other words, while it is admitted that R. A. No. 4200 does not cover "wiretapping" of cellular phone coversations, a violation stil exists because the intent of the law is to prohibit wiretapping or illegal recordings of conversations. That is a misapplied invocation of the spirit of the law because R. A. No. 4200 is a substantive criminal statute. The acts and elements of the crime must be specifically stated. If not so stated, then there is no crime. Actually, the term "wiretapping" as applied to cell phones is an oxymoron because there are no wires to tap in the first place.

Moreover, the common understanding in criminal law is when there is doubt as to its application, it must be resolved in favor of the defendant. If one applies the spirit of the law in this case, one will not giveth life but killeth and "imprisoneth" the defendant. One cannot invoke the spirit to convict when the letter acquits.

But beyond statutory construction, the American experience on wiretapping laws is persuasive. The first law on wiretapping enacted by the US Congress was the Communications Act of 1934. However in response to several US Supreme Court decisions on the admissibility of evidence of wiretapped communications, Congress enacted the Federal Wiretap Act in 1968 which prohibited the willful intercept of telephone or oral conversations.

With the advent of 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 silence governing mobile phones, Congress passed the Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 which specifically included cellular phone conversations within the prohibition. And again, to solve the silence governing cordless phones, Congress passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1995 and further amended the Federal Wiretap Act. With these amendments, the law prohibited the unauthorized intercept of the broadcast portion of cordless and cell phone conversations. Based on the American experience therefore, it would appear that the intercepted cell phone conversations are not covered by R. A. No. 4200.

What then is its legal consequence? Since the tapes do not violate the Anti-Wiretapping Law, they do not fall under the doctrine of the "fruit of the poisonous tree". Simply stated, it can not be excluded as inadmissible evidence. This is crucial because in the 2001 US case of BARTNICKI v. VOPPER, the Federal Supreme Court held that recordings of illegally intercepted cellphone conversations may be aired in public because the contents are a matter of public interest but nontheless, the tapes can be excluded as evidence since they were illegally recorded. In our case, since the tapes did not violate R. A. No. 4200 and apart from possible misfeasance by the President which is a matter of public interest, the prosecutors will no longer belabor the issue of admissibility of the Garci tapes. Of course, the defense will move heaven and earth to exclude those tapes.

I believe that the Garci tapes is a situation of damnum absque injuria which literally means "loss without unlawful conduct". GMA and Garci were definitely damaged by the revelations in those tapes but since illegal cell phone intercepts are not covered by the Anti-Wiretapping Act, no unlawful conduct was committed.

But whatever position you find yourself to be in, it is undeniable that R. A. No. 4200 is still mired in the days of RETELCO and is scratching to be amended and updated. And I hope it will not take the legislators another wave of technological advances before they decide to amend the law. But wait a minute, if they do decide to amend R. A. No. 4200, would that not be an admission that cellphone conversations were not covered by the prohibition in the first place? It must be tough being an administration solon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

SONA Protocol

As a guest commentator for ANC yesterday, I was requested to watch the President's third to the last SONA address. Much will be said about the substance of the SONA or the lack of it. I, however, will not touch on those but would point out the protocol or the absence of it during SONA.

In terms of protocol, the whole ceremony and the pre-SONA address went without a noticeable hitch. Two years ago and right after the resignation of the Hyatt 10, President Arroyo, in a fit of obvious pique, acknowledged the presence of former president Fidel V. Ramos ahead of then Senate President Drilon who had asked for GMA's head as well. That was a deliberate gaffe intended to insult Drilon. For many, it seemed innocuous. For those who knew, it was a president who was just starting to get even.

In last year's SONA, on the other hand, it was the turn of Speaker Joe de Venecia to commit a most egregious gaffe not to any one particular person but the to the very symbol of our nationhood, the Philippine flag. He was so engrossed with the President's arrival that he immediately introduced the President even before they sang the National Anthem. People steeped in customs and tradition of parliamentary governments would have balked at such ignorant display of protocol.

Which brings me to what is the proper protocol of the pre-SONA ceremony.

Why is the Batasan floor like a barangay talipapa while the President enters it with a gaggle of groomed geezers strutting around her? Watching the tv, it would seem the solons acting like sycophants crowding around her while she walks by, giving those hapless fools a smile, a handshake, an ear just to let the fools know they have been acknowledged.

I think the proper decorum should be for the both Houses to convene first. To be convened would require the solons to take their respective places and to have order in the chamber. Then, should not someone other than the Speaker, such as crier or a Doorkeeper in the case of the US House proceedings, announce in a very formal manner, the arrival and entry of the President to its floor?

Symbolically, the disorganized hustle and bustle of the solons before and while the President is entering reflects the lack of formal and substantive order in the business of government. The marketplace ambience symbolically reflects the lack of respect for the President. And no matter how one detests this incumbent president, the solons, whether administration or opposition, must learn to honor the office of the President, never mind the holder. In august halls like the Batasan and in formal gatherings like the SONA, swords are sheathed and left at the door.

Lastly, for all the years as a Republic, haven't someone come up with a music that is distinctively identified with the President when he enters or exits, like the US' "Hail to the Chief"? Perhaps, Manolo can enlighten us in this regard.

And then, can someone tell the House the proper position of the Supreme Court Chief Justice and his associates justices? Yesterday, I saw Chief Justice Puno seated beside FVR and I heard the President mention that this is the first time she saw a Chief Justice attend the SONA.

If that is true, I wonder why the justices are not in attendance considering that this is perhaps the only time in the year when the three branches of government sit side by side with each other, proudly aware of their respective roles in a presidential form of government, but giving due respect to the most powerful branch of government without abdicating their constitutional duties. In a sense, it is the only instance of sleeping with the enemies, given the spotty record of the Executive before the Judiciary in landmark cases.

Over-all, I think the protocol should be revisited, reviewed and revised to give due importance to all the personalities concerned, detestable or not. Lastly, I sincerely think that we need to rediscover the value of observing protocol if only to show to the Filipino people that the solons they voted into office have not converted the hallowed halls of Congress into a den of thieves.

At least, not yet and not on the first day of office as Congresmen and Senators.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Onto the Next Constitutional Beachheads

Now that the midterm elections are over, focus will shift back to the Puno Supreme Court. Whether or not political debts will have to be paid, the Puno Supreme Court will be comprised of an overwhelming Arroyo appointees and predictably, the president will exact her pound of flesh. To date, there are only 14 sitting justices - Justice Gregory Ong's appointment is in question before the Supreme Court.

These 14 or 15 magistrates will be called upon to decide constitutional issues which will soon come to the fore. Some of the issues that the High Court will confront are the following:

1. The Human Security Act of 2007 - This law goes into effect two months after the elections or 15 July 1007 exactly. And while there are plenty of lawyers who have seen the myriad defects in the law (even the administration has already prepared some amendments), the law is not yet ripe for controversy. But post-July 15, expect human rights lawyers to take up the cudgels for those apprehended under the law.

This law takes on a greater significance because of the recent pronouncements of Chief Justice Puno who seemed to excoriate the Arroyo administration for its failings in the areas of human rights and the continued, unabated extrajudicial killings. From all indications, Chief Justice Puno (who was appointed to the Supreme Court by FVR and as Chief Justice by GMA) wants his stewardship of the High Court to be remembered as the Court that will fight and staunchly defend the fundamental constituional human rights of the individual against the abusive exercise of Executive Power and Police Power of the State.

2. People's Initiative Redux - It is not remote that given their recent debacle, GMA, for her political survival and JDV, for his crass ambitions will once more, through their minions, launch another people's initiative. Predictably, the sycophants will have to modify their petition and follow the ruling laid down in the Sigaw ng Bayan decision.

From all indications, the administration may win this new round of People's Initiative for two reasons: (1) the petition will hew closer to constitutional strictures; and (2) Chief Justice Puno and those who dissented in the Sigaw case are now the majority. Therefore, we will see for the first time in many years, a national plebiscite and it is in this arena where the opposition will be forced to campaign against the new initiative.

3. Military presence in the cities - The Supreme Court will be called upon to interpret the "calling out" powers of the president provided in Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution where "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."

An interesting issue to be decided on is the judicial and factual determination of the existence of lawless violence, invasion or rebellion that would warrant the fielding of the members of the armed forces in depressed areas. Bayan Muna filed a case before the Supreme Court before the elections and to render it moot and academic, the Armed Forces withdrew their soldiers. But seemingly, Esperon et al. are intending to reposition them anew in urban areas.

4. Executive Privilege - While this has been decided previously against the administration, the latter seemed hell bent to interpret the SC decision in a new fashion that would make the SC decision rather inutile. And with Senator Lacson poised to head the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, it is not unlikely that we will see new arguments before the Supreme Court on this very same issue.

Knowing how this administration works, there would be other cases that would test the limits of Executive Power. But as long as the justices will look upon their role in the long terms as dispensers of wisdom and sound jurisprudence, we can expect the least powerful among the three branches to be the true bulwark of justice.

If not, the heavens will fall with justice undoing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Euphemisms and New Terms in the 2007 Elections

While in the thick of the special elections, I have compiled some euphemisms and new terms I discovered and learned during the 2007 elections:

1. Clerical error - Getting caught cheating & explaining it away;

2. Command votes - Fabricated 12-0 TU sweep in Maguindanao and Bohol;

3. Political machinery - The pro-administration's stalled cheating operations;

4. Palace reward - fake P500 and P1,000 bills proliferating in Bohol for 12-0 sweep by TU;

5. Peaceful and orderly elections - when election precincts in Maguindanao open at 7 a.m. and close at 9 a.m.;

6. Shocked - the new look of Chairman Abalos when he learned massive cheating occurred;

7. Monitoring election - when retired Generals Palparan and Lomibao decided to spend quality family vacation time in Mindanao without their families;

8. Sharia Law - apart from getting more than one wife, minors can vote according to imam Lintik, este, Lintang Bedol;

9. LintangBedol's - a newly discovered degenerative illness which is a cross between amnesia and Alzheimer's. Election officers are mostly prone to this disease especially those assigned to Maguindanao;

10. Racist - is what you attack someone who cannot be convinced why Chavit is No. 1 in Muslim Maguindanao's peaceful and orderly elections;

11. Gossip - what Chairman Abalos refers to a teacher's true but apprehensive testimony of clear and convincing evidence that massive election cheating occurred in Maguindanao;

12. Team Unity - a new term for bloc voting. Disallowed by the Omnibus Election Code but permitted by election inspectors;

13. Tonyputsa! - new expletive for an unrepentant spinmeister surpassing Bunyeta in callousness;

14. COMELEC - still the same old corrupt and incompetent COMELEC. Same old! same old!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Very Flawed Brawner Decision

I had the opportunity to read the Brawner decision on the case of Jesse Robredo, courtesy of John Nery. Without going too legalese, let me raise my objections to Commissioner Brawner's decision which are replete with errors and ignoring existing jurisprudence on the matter.

In order to disqualify the citizenship of Jesse Robredo, Jojo Villafuerte, the petitioner, attacked the citizenship of the mayor on the ground that Lim Teng, his grandfather, and later rechristened Juan Robredo, was not a Filipino citizen as prescribed under the Philippine Bill of 1902. Brawner attached himself to that theory and proceeded to demolish Mayor Robredo's Filipino citizenship on the following points:

a. Lim Teng is not the same person as "Juan Robredo" because there is no proof to such effect;

b. Lim Teng has no proof that he resided continuously in the Philippines after 11 April 1899 as required under the Philippine Bill of 1902;

As a backgrounder and pertinent to this case, the Philippine Bill of 1902 recognizes a person as being a Filipino citizen - any person who arrived in the Philippines prior to 11 April 1899. This date is the date of exchange of the ratification of the Treaty of Paris between the United States and Spain. In effect, the law effected a mass naturalization of all inhabitants in the Philippines subject to certain exceptions.

In addition to arriving in the Philippines prior to 11 April 1899, the law requires an inhabitant to continously reside in the Philippines and have children born subsequent thereto. That is the long and short of how an alien like Lim Teng who arrived in 1896 could have become a Filipino citizen.

Brawner said that Lim Teng and Juan Robredo are not the same person and therefore, Juan Robredo can not claim to be a Filipino citizen. That is a rather strange conclusion because following the premise of Brawner that Lim Teng and Juan Robredo are not the same person, then the logical premise and conclusion should have been - if Juan Robredo is not the Chinese Lim Teng , then logic would dictate that Juan Robredo being a Filipino name would have been a Filipino citizen. Which makes Brawner's argument that Lim Teng and Juan Robredo are two different persons actually supportive of Jesse Robredo's claim that he is a Filipino citizen. Deba?

The honest disclosure of the Robredos that Juan Robredo and Lim Teng are one and the same person did not sit well with Brawner because he said there is no proof. That is incorrect. The conclusive proofs of such fact are the birth certificates of Jose Robredo (Jesse's dad) and Jesse and the fact that they know Juan Robredo to be Lim Teng himself. In legal contemplation, these are public documents and are the best evidence of such fact. And again, if Brawner insists that Lim Teng is not his grandfather, then logic would dictate all the more that Juan Robredo, a Filipino sounding name, is a Filipino citizen.

Brawner also contended (to cover his back) that assuming Lim Teng is the same person as Juan Robredo, he cannot be considered a Filipino citizen because there is no proof that he continuously resided in the Philippines as required under the law. Brawner is mentally dishonest and does not know his law and jurisprudence. In the Philippine Bill of 1902 of which he justified Lim Teng as not covered, he conveniently fails to mention that in addition to arriving before 11 April 1899 and residing continously, he should have his children born here. Jose Robredo, the father of Jesse, was born in the Philippines. On that point alone, he complied with the three requisites of the law. Thus, he is a Filipino citizen.

With respect to his claim that there is no proof of continuous residence, Brawner fails to mention the fact that in the FPJ case, the Supreme Court said that the place of death of FPJ's grandfather is presumed to be his residence. Following that Supreme Court pronouncement, if Lim Teng died in Naga City, then Lim Teng's continuous residence would have been presumably in Naga City. If the Supreme Court can make such a leap, given the same problem that there was a dearth of proof of continuous residence by FPJ's grandfather, why didn't Brawner justifiably do so?

What is unfair in the decision is that Brawner attacked the citizenship of Jesse's grandfather who will never have the chance to rise from the dead and defend himself. And in fact, the Supreme Court said in a Co versus HRET, a case cited by Brawner himself, that you cannot attack the citizenship of a father just to get back at the son. This should be done in a direct action to nullify the citizenship of the father. In this case, Brawner should not entertain an attack on the citizenship of the grandfather just to get back at the grandson. Brawner knows the case, skips that particular part of the case and conveniently said that the Co case is totally not applicable to Jesse's case.

That is the paternal line of Jesse which Brawner attacked and which I have shown why Brawner's attack was ill conceived, deficient in research and totally unfair and disrespectful of the dead Lim Teng who in one swift stroke by Brawner was stripped posthumously of his Filipino citizenship.

Not satisfied with the paternal line, Brawner proceeded to destroy the maternal line as well. He said that Jesse who was born of a Filipino mother did not elect Philippine citizenship as provided by CA No. 625 which requires a person to execute a statement of an oath of allegiance to the Philippines and filed before the local civil registry. Brawner said that voting in an election or running for public office does not qualify because there is a procedure for election. I think that is a very restrictive interpretation of what election means. Brawner cites the case of Co v. HRET as basis for saying that implied election does not apply to non-Filipino like Jesse.

The present understanding in electing citizenship is that one has to elect in accordance with CA No. 625. I think the Supreme Court would have to revisit that jurisprudence because what better way to show your oath of allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines than to vote in an election or run for public office. Moreover, there is no definitive ruling from the court that CA No. 625 and implied election of Philippine citizenship such as voting in an election are mutually exclusive of each other.

The Supreme Court has mentioned that our citizenship laws are antiquated. I think now is the time to test our ideas on what constitute citizenship. Brawner was too quick to point out the absence of proofs forgetting the fact the evidences are nearly a century old and may no longer be extant. He also forgets the fact that their own Comelec building just burned down and the evidences have been destroyed. If a recent fire gutted down their building destroying all evidence, is it not fair to say that Brawner is being unreasonable to demand proof of documents a century old?

I just lost my respect for the fellow.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

An Open Letter to Harvey Keh

Dear Harvey,

I read with interest your letter of despair which has spread throughout Philippine cyberspace. I am sure many of us sympathize with your frustration. Certainly, the 7 events you mentioned may give rise to you emigrating from the Philippines. Those events should certainly give pause to all of us who bleed for our motherland.

But I must disagree with you on your decision to leave. Instead, let me be the first to tell that the seven events you stated should convinced you all the more to fight the good fight!

Unlike you, I am now 44 years old, 17 years older than you. Unlike you who at 27 years old was already an achiever, I was just about to finish my studies at the Ateneo Law School and pondering how it meant to be “a man for others” in the legal profession.

At 27, I have not sent anyone to school nor set up a foundation for indigent but deserving students because I was one myself - a recipient of the hard work that my parents went through to put me and my siblings to school. At 27, I have nothing equal to your accomplishments.

But there lies the difference between us – I was a martial law baby exposed to the abuses of power and naked display of arrogance by the Marcos regime, I was a martial law baby inspired by the towering figures of the Opposition who stood up for 14 years against the tyrannical rule of a dictator and whose evil days seemed to have no end in sight and I was a martial law baby who stood shoulder to shoulder with hundreds and thousands of Filipinos in that hallowed avenue during 3 glorious days in February of 1986 which gave me and the rest of the world what it meant to hope.

Yes, Mr. Keh, we must hang on to hope.

The Marcos years were darker in every respect compared to this administration which seemed to have forgotten that People Power enthroned her where she is now.

The Marcos years were more unforgiving to those who crossed the dictator although the ruthless, ungrateful recipients of People Power in this administration are trying to, and quite successfully, I might add, approximate the vile venom of vengeance against those who opposed them.

The Marcos years were more sinister than the seven events you enumerated which will compel you and a host of others to leave our country for peace and stability.

But in all these, I never lost hope because I have seen and witnessed more sinister days than what we have now. Perhaps, owing to the fact that you were only 6 or 7 years old when the EDSA Revolution took place and perhaps, you only heard from your siblings or forebears what it was like living in fear under the Marcos regime that you feel that all your current efforts are laid to waste if the Filipinos put to reality your seven deadly fears. Trust me when I say this and I do so without disparage, the seven events are nothing compared to the fearful 14 dark years of Martial Law.

Believe me, Mr. Keh, your seven deadly fears should not cause you to lose hope. Rather, it should all the more convince you of the necessity of improving and expanding your service to the education sector. That what you are doing now is to plant seeds to the Filipinos you cross paths with and in the true meaning of AHON, the foundation you set up, tide them over from darkness to light, from pessimism to optimism and from despair to hope.

And even as we speak, there will certainly be Filipinos, like the towering opposition figures during the Marcos regime, who will not give in to bribery, who will not bow down to greed and avarice and who will not cower in fear. For every Filipino who you know can be bought, there will be two or three Filipinos who will stand up for what is right and just. And for every Filipino who will give up on the country because of the hopeless political situation, there will be Filipinos like Leah Navarro who came back because she loves this country too damn much to be left to political opportunists who care for nothing but enrich themselves.

What do we need to do?

As you rightly put it, “Manindigan naman tayong lahat para sa ating Kinabukasan at para sa Kapakanan ng ating Bayan!”. And beyond these midterm elections, we need to shrug off our shroud of apathy and indifference. Getting involved is not only getting the right people to the Senate and to Congress. Getting involved means getting indignant at the evil that the administration does and acting on that indignation. Because to continue allowing ourselves to wallow in indifference, we will find ourselves in a situation similar to the time Marcos run roughshod over the country. Some people say we are already in that conundrum. But even then, people who sacrificed their comforts fighting a dictatorship stuck to this country, never gave up and never left.

Have hope, Harvey, and do not leave. Remember the last thing that came out of Pandora’s box was Hope. It may well be our only weapon against the coming night.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Voice In The Wilderness

Finally, the bishops have spoken!

For the longest time, the bishops have remained tentative owing to the fact that the dislike for GMA was not necessarily a question of good and evil. What they got enmeshed in were technicalities of the Garci tapes that they forgot that cheating, lying and stealing in the presidential elections was a moral transgression.

But this time, nobody can doubt the immorality of the congressional exercise of ramming the Cha Cha train over people, over laws, and even over the Constitution itself.

The immorality of it all is not the tyranny of numbers. After all, that is an essential bedrock of democracy. It is the willingness of bright men and women to change the rules to suit their personal interests and convenience, the brazenness of lawyers who are willing to strain the interpretation of the Constitution to advance their personal gain, the intellectual surrender of their own consciences for the price of twelve pieces of silver and the haste upon which all these events are taking shape.

Lawyers like Congressman Douglas Cagas, a human rights lawyer kuno, who seemed to have forgotten his roots and is now preparing to foist and install a dictatorship. On the other hand, Congressman Luis Villafuerte has never taken the path of straight and narrow. A lapdog of the former President Marcos, he sides with whoever is in power, and now sponsors a resolution which will earn him platitudes from GMA and JDV but will harvest a eternal caboodle of curses and cusses from the people.

This time, the Church has finally risen to its calling as the Good Shepherd.

But the rut that we are in is partly the fault of the bishops. The administration has taken advantage of the apathy and division among the bishops and used their dense behavior to put forward all the train of abuses that we have witnessed. There was no cry from the bishops to demand the resignation of the president in the light of the cheating, lying and stealing. There was no voice in the wilderness condemning the dismissal of the impeachment complaint. There was no collective anger from amongst them even when some bishops were being identified as harborers of coup plotters. And there was nary a whimper when the Calibrated Pre-emptive Response and P. P. No. 1017 were invoked to abuse civil liberties. The apathy of the people is largely due to the absence of a voice crying in the wilderness. The bishops have abandoned its flock.

But today, that voice has been found again. Let the churches ring their bells of indignation on Sunday, let a thousand pastoral letters be read on Sunday Masses, let a million people gather on December 15 at the Luneta Park to show our disgust and utter dismay over these lapdog congressmen of the president. A stab on the House is a stab on the president.

The bishops have finally found their clothing. No longer are they wolves in sheep’s outfit, they have put on ashes and sackclothes and they ask us as well to repent for our apathy, indifference and tolerance of this evil that is hovering over us. Let us stop this descent into madness. Let us show this administration, its allies, lapdogs and ass lickers, Tama Na! Sobra Na!

And yes, it feels like 1985 once more when Cory, in the presence of the bishops, called for civil disobedience! It’s déjà vu all over again.

See you at Rizal Park on December 15th! A new wind is a blowin’.