Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pandora's box re-opened

I was supposed to blog about the President's apology for her "lapse of judgment" talking with a Comelec official during the elections to "protect her votes". However, I was busy working and had not enough time to gather materials and write a fairly accurate opinion, at least from my layman's point of view, anyway. So, I had to pass on this "bloggable" phenomenon in Philippine politics. Last night, as I was watching the news, I heard that legal experts (that included Fr. Bernas, who was not present but submitted his opinion anyway) have presented their opinion on the matter of whether Congress should hear the tapes containing the conversations Gloria had with said Commissioner. Reading Sassy's entry on the matter gives an excellent opinion on the matter, The media proclaimed 'legal experts' say that the people's right to public information is paramount and, hence, there is no legal impediment to the playing of the tapes in the Congressional inquiry.

In the news last night, a Dean from a certain law school read his opinion in the hearing. (Neither the name nor the school stuck as I was doing something else. Multi tasking, hehe) If I remember correctly, (I couldn't find any copy hence couldn't verify it) his main contentions were that the tapes were no longer private since copies are all over the place, even citing ringtones in particular, and that since Gloria admitted it to be in her own voice, the right to privacy no longer holds. Maybe my interpretation/recollection of what he said was erroneous so I will welcome comments correcting my understanding.

In view of the fact that that was what I heard, and assuming that my interpretation is correct, then I am troubled by this turn of events. I have always believed that the Bill of Rights is sacred. Marvin Aceron another lawyer, puts it succinctly in his entry "Sun Tzu Advice No. 10: Time to use the "P" word" when he said The right to privacy has primacy

What is contained in Sec 3 of the Bill of Rights? It states that:
SEC. 3.
(1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

If the President of the Philippines could not be protected by this right, what can I, an ordinary individual, have to hold on to?

Obviously, the contentions of these legal experts (I am assuming that they were expressing the same opinion as the news did not say someone had a dissenting opinion) are founded on the seemingly majority perception that Gloria cheated in the last elections and that this can be proven by the tapes. Hence, it is of their opinion that it was imperative for Congress to hear them in making the public's right to information rule over the Bill of Rights in spite of the fact that the taped conversations might not even fall within the purview of what information the public has a right to know. I have forgotten which among the rules of statutory construction should apply but when there are enumerations in the law, other similar items not written may be included. Hmm, probably, noscitur a sociis or "the context rule" (Sassy help!) But even then, the one that can only be included are those within the same context as those enumerated.

Now, going back to the arguments. "The tapes are no longer private because of the proliferation of copies of the same everywhere." Now, that is dangerous. It implies that If I wanted to violate the privacy of, say a philandering husband, all I have to do is put a bug on his phone and innocently distribute hundreds of copies to every Juan and Juana I meet together with an original copy which I put on his wife's door. This will of course be admissible evidence as it is now public property. Oh, maybe that is not a good example as I am not sure if the law works that way. Maybe if I change the word husband to a public official, say a mayor. Maybe that would work within my context. Is this how we shall interpret it? We may be opening another Pandora's box, don't you think?

Gloria may have cheated in the elections one way or another. Thanks to my boss who gave me a copy of Dr. Hans Koechler's report which can also be found here I am reminded that there had been allegations of cheating in Mindanao even right after the elections. Of course, it is now common knowledge that most of these so called leaders cheat one way or another, but I say, let's fight it using legal ways. I would like to believe that we are a country governed by laws. Unfortunately, we are being lured to the easier way of emotionalism, drama and fanfare. What a circus Philippine politics has become.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What values? Cash or in kind?

How much luxury should a parent allow his/her child? I ask this because I've seen students of ours who have very expensive cellphones, sometimes even having two. I don't know why they need to have two but they do. Maybe one for texting, another, (Sun) for calling.

I am not writing this to criticize parents who have the luxury of buying their children the latest cellphone and whatever technological gadget there is. How one raises his/her child(ren) is entirely up to himself/herself. Noone has the right formula in rearing kids. I know I don't. I am writing this because as always, I want to share my thoughts with my children and their children's children on what I think and what guidelines I follow in life.

One of my daughters wanted to buy a new cellphone. (I know she'd hate me for sharing this. She even dreads her coming birthday knowing I'd be writing about her. :-)) She knew I wouldn't give her money so she's using her own. Her godmother arrived from the States and since they haven't seen each other for a long time, decided to give her cash. Now, adding to that amount her own savings, she, indeed, can buy a second-hand phone.

My wife was okay with it. However, when given the chance, since my daughter never mentioned it to me, I told her I have reservations about her purchasing another cellphone. What for? It's not that it's a necessity. More than anything else, it is merely a status symbol. And because it is, you have to flaunt it. Always keep it visible to let everyone know you have an expensive phone. Otherwise, why need one if you just keep it in your pocket, right? Remember, its a status symbol. If yor phone is not visible, ergo, you don't have your status? Now, when did that ever become a virtue? You are just inviting pickpockets and probably endangering your life that way. When everybody else appears to be living in abject poverty, I think, it is a sin to flaunt your material possessions.

One of my apprehensions in having my kids study in a school where there are plenty of rich kids is that my children may get their penchant for material things. My wife and I have always been simple people. My kids know that. They know that while we do not live in dire straits, we only have enough for our needs. Maybe give in to a few luxury here and there but that would be on a very lucky day. i have been using the same cellphone for years. I fear of accidentally leaving it on the restaurant not because it might get stolen, but because the waiter might think its trash and throw it down the toilet in disgust. My wife only had her cellphone just recently because she "inherited" my eldest daughter's. My eldest daughter is now in college and without me knowing it, bought her own brand new cellphone from her own pocket.

Back to having expensive cellphones. Maybe these teen agers think its part of the packaging these days. Mabye that comes with wealth. If you have it, why deprive your child, right? Parents only want the very best for their children. However, I am of the impression that this not need to be so. I shall remain firm that if there's a need for a cellphone, all you need is a phone that works. That especially holds true if you're a student. If it's good for texting and you can use it to call somebody else, that's good enough. Maybe teeners believe that having a "neat" cellphone is part of a good packaging for oneself. But what it is to me is that the packaging of a student is not what he/she has but what is stored in her brain. Do all of the lessons stick to their heards? Do they make their assignments, give their projects in time, maintain a good grade? Do others perceive them to be good kids? Are they respectful? Are they aware of their roots? Are they sensitive to the issues that concern the common man? Are they sympathetic to those in need? Are they independent? For me, these are the ones that comprise the packaging of a good student. If my children can say yes to all these, then I shall be a happy parent.


In fairness to my obedient kid, she's passing on this one. She didn't buy the phone. I love her so much.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

pinoy poets plugging!

Pinoypoets’ Anniversary Night at Conspiracy

The pinoy poets, a group of young writers (uhm I am a member,too, you know) will be having its first anniversary. These are young, energetic, creative group of people who share their passion for poetry and seriously working hard to hone their craft. I am such a lucky guy to have been accepted to this group. If you care to join us in our revelry, read on!


If you’re a writer, a poet, an artist or simply a lover of literature, better block off Tuesday, June 28 on your social calendar. Pinoypoets (PP), an online community of literary enthusiasts, will be holding its first anniversary bash at Conspiracy Bar in Quezon City.

The event, dubbed PP ‘to!(The Pinoypoets’ First Anniversary), promises to be an evening filled with laughter, music, and of course, excellent poetry. Prominent social, academic, and literary figures Makati Rep. Teddy Locsin Jr, Conchitina Cruz, Vin and Kris Dancel, Noel Del Prado, Joyce Burton Titular, Enrico John Torralba, Hannah Romawac, Roli Inocencio, Monica Llamas and Gary Granada, are but a few of our guest readers.

The celebration will also be highlighted by performances from G-Strings, 10kpp, Rubberband, Johnoy Danao of Bridge, Paramita, and Hanna Romawac of Session Road.

Pinoypoets is a community of poets, writers and literary enthusiasts who share their works, thoughts and insights on poetry. Formed by less than 50 members in June 2004, Pinoypoets has grown to 250 members based in different regions of the archipelago--and even abroad.

Its primary objective is to facilitate a creative forum and enrich its members' knowledge and craft. Michael Coroza, Edgar Samar, Santiago Villafania, Louie John Sanchez, Eileen Tabios, Bino Realuyo and Jema Pamintuan, some of the most respected names in Philippine poetry today, are the group’s consultants and critics.

PP ‘to!(The Pinoypoets’ First Anniversary), will start at 8 p.m. Admission is FREE! For more information, please get in touch with Rhodge Fernandez (721 7229,, Kathline Tolosa (09175777128, or Romel Samson (09278470212,

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Respect your flag

How much respect do we give to the Philippine National flag? Do we really pay attention to such details? I say, hardly. My attention to this came after reading this article by noted columnist Manuel Quezon III entitled The Long View: Amend the Flag Law. I was a boy scout, a Maginoo Scout, thank you, and I have been trained to respect the flag during those growing up years. I remember how we were taught how to properly raise (briskly) and lower (solemnly and slowly) it, fold it and to burn it in case it has to be put away as a result of wear and tear. I even remember that we would run to the flagpole and lower it at the slightest sign of rain lest it be drenched. This is the reason why I've always wondered why the flag is let alone flying during a rainy day in school. I looked for the flag law and to my amazement, it doesn't say anything to this effect. As a matter of fact, The Sec. 16 (f) of Republic Act 8491 entitled "AN ACT PRESCRIBING THE CODE OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, ANTHEM, MOTTO, COAT-OF-ARMS AND OTHER HERALDIC ITEMS AND DEVICES OF THE PHILIPPINES" says: The flag shall not be raised when the weather is inclement. If already raised, the flag shall not be lowered. I wonder where our scout master got the idea that it should not be drenched in rain. MAybe the 1935 Constitution, huh? But still, it makes more sense to me that the flag should not let stay under the rain out of respect. But who am I, right? Maybe just a romantic teacher whose ideals can be misplaced at times.

Reading the Flag Law, I noticed we also have a Pledge to the Flag in (f) Sec.24. We never recite this. What we recite is the Panatang Makabayan (Patriot's Oath) which the Department of Education changed sometime in 2001 under Sen. Raul Rocco, who was then the Secretary of Education.

I've written about the singing of the National Anthem and it can be found in the first paragraphs here. As Mr Quezon points out the error of the law, how can the government assure that the song is sung with fervor? Who measures it and with what? If I don't sing it within their standards, would I go to jail? I believe that rules are made with the intention of following it through. Hence, the law must include a teeth by which such can be implemented. Otherwise, it is inutile and must be changed.

Also among Mr. Quezon's observations/protestations, which I believe are noteworthy, are:

1. Displaying the flag en masse violate(s) the spirit and letter of the law...The flag is not for decoration; to display it en masse is to use it primarily for decorative effect; (what about all those flaglets the government put on the roads during Independence Day?) and,

2. Standards for the flag, ie. its color both on historical and practical grounds. The shades chosen are not enforced, and this bothers me, considering the fervor that attended the debate and the discussion on the matter among historians, and the bother our legislature, presidents and government, in general went through to make the change. (Why not enact a law prohibiting the manufacture/purchase of the Philippine flag for both public and private sectors confining it to a single company to ensure uniformity, huh?)

In a country besieged by turmoil brought about by graft and corruption, brain drain, downward economic plunge and all that, the flag may be the last thing on our minds. But should it be so? I say it should not for the flag should be there to unite us and make us proud as a people - collective individuals who aim for one goal under one spirit, one blood. Too bad this is lost to us for the common individual still longs for the most basic commodities such as food, shelter and clothing. When will this ever end? No amount of education can top that, will it?