Thursday, August 14, 2008

Charter Change and the Trojan Horse

One of the fishy aspects of the issue of the Memorandum of Agreement between the government and MILF is that at first look, its provisions are directly conflicting with the Constitution. As Juan Mercado states in his column, "President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be what her rabid critics insist. But the lady is not dumb. She knew the draft proposing the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) to be fatally flawed."

Indeed, she may be said to have many flaws, but being dumb is not one of them. In fact, the MOA shows that she is cunning.

It seems that the fear of MILF wreaking havoc in Mindanao if the MOA is junked will put pressure on the people to approve the provisions of the MOA, and consequently pave the way for the revision of the Constitution. And as reported by the Inquirer, A GMA spokesperson even proclaimed that "It’s all systems go for Charter change." It is interesting to note, however, that GMA neglected to talk about this very important point in her recent SONA. A change in the Constitution deserves even a little air time, right?

It's just sad to see that the MILF is being used as a pawn in the dance that is Cha-Cha. As Dean Raul Pangalangan said in his column, "The pact requires constitutional change (deliberately, I venture) and we are rightly uneasy that the genuine and historic grievances of Muslim Filipinos are being used for the cheap workaday politics of greed and ambition."

Or as succinctly put by Mercado, "This is a 'Trojan Horse' for [GMA's] drive to cling to power."

Photo: Darcy McCarty, Creative Commons, Flickr

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Memorandum of Disagreement

Last week was a hectic one, with the midterms and all. So I missed the chance of pointing out my gripes on the Memorandum of Agreement between the government and MILF. Good thing the Supreme Court issued a TRO, at least to give everyone the chance to assess what the MOA was all about.

When the issue of the MOA first came out, I had a very strong opinion about it. To understand the issues better, I wanted to get hold of a copy of the MOA but was not able to (I also wanted to read the MOA ASAP because I had an upcoming Political Law review midterm, and I had a hunch that the issue will come out in the exam. True enough, there was a question about the MOA and the executive privilege of withholding such from the public. Then it hit me, kaya pala walang umiikot na kopya ng MOA, kasi nag-invoke na naman ng executive privilege ang palasyo.)

Alas, before I had my say on the matter, the issue had already been fully threshed out in the papers. Three of my most admired jurists - Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Justice Isagani Cruz and Dean Raul Pangalangan - already voiced out their thoughts on the issue. Whatever my concerns when I first learned about it were already voiced by the three men so eloquently (and exponentially more intelligently than what I would have written).

Needless to say, like all Miss Universe candidates, we all want lasting peace. It's been long overdue in the province of Mindanao. But a rushed MOA full of infirmities cannot be the answer to the conflict-ridden region. Every provision must stand the mettle of the Constitution. It is the fundamental law of the land, after all. This should not be taken by our Muslim brethren as an affront to them. They may belong to the Moro Nation, but they should not forget that they are also part of the the Filipino Nation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Birthday Shout Out

Let me just greet my most ardent reader and supporter a happy birthday!

If there is something that you are aspiring for, then may it all come true, because you deserve it all.

Photo: Dan Taylor, Creative Commons, Flickr

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Video: How NOT to get rid of a whale

They should have just called Hancock.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bayani Posters in Nueva Ecija

It's bad enough that MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando's posters are all around Metro Manila. But Bayani posters in Nueva Ecija?

First off, MMDA's jurisdiction is only within Metro Manila, kaya nga Metro Manila Development Authority, di ba? Assuming for the sake of argument that it's ok to post Bayani billboards all around the Metro, Bayani has no business posting his billboards in the provinces. Let's just hope that Bayani is shelling out his own money for the posters.

But even granting that he is spending his own money for the posters, it's clearly an act of early electioneering which leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Mr. Fernando, do your job as an MMDA well, and people will see the results. If we like what you're doing as an MMDA chair, then we will vote for you. But this kind of early electioneering is a real turn off. People can clearly see through the cheap tricks, and it's hurting your chances for 2010 more than it is helping you.

Nota Bene: this goes out to other politicians who are likewise advertising themselves as early as now in preparation for the 2010 elections.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bayani Fernando: More Equal than Others

A snippet of an Inquirer report headlined "Lay off my posters, Bayani tells DPWH" reads:
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando gave this warning yesterday to the Department of Public Works and Highways, which has threatened to tear down his posters around the metropolis.

Unlike commercial billboards, the posters bearing his photo do not imperil lives and property, Fernando said in a statement.

“They shouldn't do that,” he said of the DPWH's threat to remove the posters. “Unlike other billboards, they don't pose danger to lives and property.”

“They're part of an intensified information and educational campaign of the MMDA to instill discipline among residents and restore order in the metropolis,” he said.
Yeah right, BF. As a long-time public official, Fernando ought to know that those similarly situated should be treated equally under the law. And there are many reasons why Fernando's billboards should not be given special treatment.

First, what makes Bayani Fernando's billboard stand apart from other billboards? Are his billboards so much sturdier than commercial billboards that the latter will imperil lives and property while his will not?

Second, billboards bearing Fernando's mug cannot in anyway be fathomed even by the most imaginative mind to be informational or educational. All his billboards say is: "Kaayusan, Pagbabago sa Kapaligiran, Pagbabago sa Kaisipan." All it tells us is that Bayani is gearing himself for the 2010 elections. Nothing educational about that.

Third, contrary to his claims, his billboards will not instill discipline among the people. In fact, it reveals the lack of self-restraint of our public officials in using public funds for private gain. If Fernando's goal is really to inculcate discipline among the people, then he is sending the wrong message.

Fourth, Fernando's billboards will not restore order in the metropolis. They just add to the chaos of an already chaotic city - eyesores to a city already filled with so many eyesores. Just look at his billboards for crying out loud. Res ipsa loquitur. At least most commercial billboards show images that are pleasing to the eyes.

So Mr. Fernando, please do the right thing and take down your billboards. Unless you want to be likened to the pig leaders in George Orwell's Animal Farm who proclaimed, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Photo: psd, Creative Commons, Flickr

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sabio the Teacher

Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr. is all over the news these past few days because of the controversy within the Court of Appeals and the alleged bribery attempt against him. Let me share with you another facet of Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. - that of being a teacher.

I was a student of Justice Jose Sabio, Jr. twice. He is one of the most feared professors in our school because of his reputation as a tough teacher. In fact, his reputation precedes him - many students drop his Criminal Procedure class even before they experience being told to "sit down!" by Justice Sabio. But for those who've chosen to stick it out, I'm sure that most (if not all) have not regretted their decision, especially if they've heard a "that will do" or "thank you" from the eminent Justice after a grueling recitation.

Beneath his gruff demeanor is a man who genuinely wants to share valuable knowledge to his students; a man who exudes integrity that is beyond question. He shares with his students his experiences in the law profession, urging us as he did not to take the easy path just because it's there. That making the harder choices, as long as you keep your credibility intact, is well worth it in the end.

As to the controversy that Justice Sabio is in today, I think that there is no reason not to believe him. There is also no reason for him to expose the bribery attempt just to spite MERALCO at the expense of his credibility. He has worked too hard for what he is today just to squander it away. And for what? For GSIS? I don't think so.

And why does he doggedly insist that the division which he temporarily chairs has jurisdiction over the MERALCO case? Well, I think because he thinks it is just proper to do so. One thing is for sure, he will defend his position up to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court hands down a decision in his favor, he will surely inhibit himself from the case. Surely.

That's what I believe - he was just doing what he thought was correct, although it embroiled him in the ugly rift between Winston Garcia and the Lopezes. But you really can't blame a guy for doing the proper thing, can you?

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