Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Look at Justice Diosdado Peralta

Diosdado Peralta was recently sworn in to become the newest member of the Supreme Court. 
He might be more popularly known as a member of the Sandiganbayan division which found Joseph Estrada guilty of plunder (For those  who watched the promulgation of the decision, he was the sloucher, although he explained later on that he had nonchalant posture because he was trying to mask his nervousness). The monumental decision showed that Peralta (as well as Justices De Castro and Villaruz) is not afraid to render controversial decisions.
He is also well known in legal academic circles. The sough after Peralta notes go the rounds whenever Bar season arrives. His review classes are always packed. Former students swear that they left his classes wiser, although they gripe that the good Justice does not hesitate to flunk a student or two.
But will he unabashedly and unfairly side with whatever case is lodged against his appointer? That I do not know. There are reports that he has ties with GMA, although we have yet to see if it will affect his decision-making.
In any case, I'm glad that he is the one chosen, instead of some of the nominees who have nothing  to show but their credentials and unwavering fealty to the current administration.
Photo: nyghtowl, Flickr, Creative Commons

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reflections on Obama Inauguration

Another great speech by Barack Obama as he was inaugurated a while ago. The ball is now not just in the hands of Obama, but in the hands of all American people as well. As the new PUSA said:
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true.
What does this all mean to us? Well, we can gain inspiration from Obama's words. Back to basics. No shortcuts. Relying on our own selves more. Do we really have to wait for our rotten leaders to change? Our hairs will turn white before that actually happens. A change in government personnel is very much welcome, but maybe we, as private citizens, have to take up the cudgels. Let us be responsible for our own fates, without losing sight of our responsibility to our nation.
Heavy stuff? I'm sorry I can't help it. Obama's words have that effect on me. 
Photo: ajagendorf25, Flickr, Creative Commons

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ignorant Opportunists

There were lots of time during my childhood days when it was hard to play with or against other kids who do not know the rules of the game. How can you play a game when the players have no clue as to what the game is?
This memory popped up - weirdly enough - when I read about the kidnapping of International Committee on the Red Cross personnel just outside a jail facility they were inspecting.
This act obviously deserves condemnation. Kidnapping is never justifiable. But what makes it more ignominious is the fact that the people kidnapped were Red Cross/ICRC personnel, even using the Red Cross vehicle as a getaway car.
While Red Cross is more known in this part of the world as a recognized collector of blood (thanks to the amazing efforts of Rosa Rosal), the organization is much much more than that. It is a humanitarian entity which protects the victims of international and internal armed conflicts. The ICRC is a neutral entity which tends to the sick and wounded in war ravaged parts around the world, This means that they do not care about who the combatting states are, but they will see to it that they are on both sides of the fence, tending to those who need their help.
So of all people to kidnap, this group - whatever group it is - had to pick Red Cross personnel. If the motive behind the kidnapping is political, then the captors are ignorant buffoons. It is very basic, as insurgent group SHOULD know, that Red Cross personnel are universally recognized as specially protected persons. Which means that they should NEVER be endangered in any conflict in any part of the world. Holding ICRC personnel as leverage puts a bad light in your group. A release should be in order.
If the motive is purely for financial considerations, then may the heavens have mercy on you. Release these poor people, please; there may still be hope for your souls

Photo: Kazunori Matsuo, Flickr, Creative Commons

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jovencito Zuño and the Forced Leave

They all have one thing in common: Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño had a hand - in one way or another - in the conviction of these people. 

Jovencito Zuño has been chief prosecutor since the administration of President Fidel Ramos. Zuño got involved with the high profile criminal cases back then (and there are many high profile cases during the 90s). His involvement in the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case instills a sense of fear among the accused, and a sense of security among the public. 

But credibility of Zuño is now tarnished, because of the alleged bribery in the Alabang boys case. That is too bad, because Zuño is one of the few good men we have left in the government.

About the bribery case, I take it with a grain of salt. As Chief Prosecutor Zuño said, show the public the circumstance of the bribery try against him. So far, no one has come up with a smoking gun. Moreover, his procedure of review of the Alabang Boys case was all by the book. The proper procedure for the buy-bust operation was not religiously followed. As such, he had no choice but to dismiss the case - the three accused still have constitutional rights, you know. Thus, Zuño is receiving an undeserved flak.
And that is the problem with the whole forced leave. The post of chief state prosecutor is a career service position, which means that an administrative case should be filed against Zuño in order to be legally suspended. But in this time when the issue is burning hot, the powers-that-be deem it more convenient to force upon someone like Zuño a leave of absence. Too bad for Zuño, who is not in anyway within the inner circle of the ruling power - his 30 plus years of government service be damned. What a way to reward someone for all his years of service to the public.

Photo: Kate Williams, Flickr, Creative Commons

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Of Liars and Evolved Brains

Mark T. Market of The Critical Thinker has an interesting post entitled, Lying Is A Sign Of An Evolved Brain. He cites a New York Times article about a study made regarding lying and primates: 
Deceitful behavior has a long and storied history in the evolution of social life, and the more sophisticated the animal, it seems, the more commonplace the con games, the more cunning their contours.

In a comparative survey of primate behavior, Richard Byrne and Nadia Corp of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found a direct relationship between sneakiness and brain size. The larger the average volume of a primate species’ neocortex — the newest, “highest” region of the brain — the greater the chance that the monkey or ape would pull a stunt like this one described in The New Scientist: a young baboon being chased by an enraged mother intent on punishment suddenly stopped in midpursuit, stood up and began scanning the horizon intently, an act that conveniently distracted the entire baboon troop into preparing for nonexistent intruders.

Much evidence suggests that we humans, with our densely corrugated neocortex, lie to one another chronically and with aplomb.
If this is finding is true, then the Philippines must be the breeding ground of people with the most evolved brains. What better evidence than those at the top of the Philippine food chain - our current administration? 
Photo: palindrome6996, Flickr, Creative Commons

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

From Fr. Duds Hila SDB:

1. Di na ko mangangako, PROMISE! 

2. Di na ko mag-iingles, NEVER AGAIN! 

3. Di na ako magsusugal. PUSTAHAN TAYO!
4. At di na ko magsasalita ng tapos. PERIOD.

Happy New Year!

Photo: Ananta Bhadra Lamichhane, Flickr, Creative Commons
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