Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NOYNOYing vs. NAY, NAYing; P-NOYing and PINOYing

A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend asked me what my take was with respect to the term “Noynoying” as being portrayed then by the Philippine Press and given credence by an article in one major newspaper in the United States.

I chose to ignore it at first because it would mean spreading further the ‘word’ as defined by a small group of protesters and critics.

But after reading the reactions of the media, President Aquino, other Philippine Government officials and other relevant movers and shakers, and also hearing the views of my barber and what he has been getting from his customers, I thought that I might as well express my take on it too.

“Noynoy” is the nickname of Benigno Aquino III, the only son of the late “Icon of Democracy” and President Cory Aquino and martyr Benigno Aquino, Jr.

A few months after Cory Aquino died, and before the 2010 Presidential elections, there was a clamor for change of the culture of corruption and impunity engulfing the Philippines under the then President Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA). It mirrored the corrupt practices under the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos.

It took the death of an Aquino (Ninoy, father) to awaken the submissive and dormant Filipinos, and another Aquino (Cory, mother) with the help of the people rising to topple Marcos successfully.

Through a signature campaign clamoring for Noynoy to run for President, a substantial number of Filipinos were practically saying, “We need another Aquino to help us eliminate this culture of corruption and impunity in the Philippines.”

I personally joined the clamor and later his Presidential campaign, thus- Noynoy’s acceptance of the challenges and the sacrifices required.


My take at that time was I chose him as my Presidential candidate because he represented the 4Hs: Honesty, Humility, Honor, and Hope.

Noynoying to me was being honest and untainted; being the humble son of two Philippine heroes who would bring honor to his country, father and mother; and the bearer of the hopes and dreams of a desperate country victimized by corruption in almost all sectors of society.

Noynoy became president of the Philippines winning by a landslide under the catchy and appropriate campaign slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” (If there is no corruption, there is no poverty).

Upon assumption of the Presidency, he was correspondingly called P-Noy (short for President Noynoy).

As expected in a democracy, there are always critics. Those who opposed him during the elections continued to look and interpret his ways negatively, never giving credit to the positive achievements.

Some are inherently pessimistic and resigned to accepting and expecting what they have been exposed to re past activities of people in power.


These people are what we call the naysayers - negativists who are always saying No to whatever P-Noy and his administration do. They are the NAY, NAYing people who are hopelessly waiting that “the NAYs have it”.

NAY, NAYing is blaming P-Noy for the oil and gas prices; for the rise of tuition fees in colleges; for a delayed delivery of goods and services during the floods, typhoons and other calamities; for playing video games; and for his dating practices. The tendency is to blame him for any problem that the country faces.

While some of the problems mentioned by the naysayers exist, P-Noy is not necessarily the one to blame. External factors could have caused them.

For all the responsibilities and burdens of being President, all work is not advisable. Effective and efficient management, delegation of authority and accountability, inspiring leadership, effective planning and control should allow P-Noy some R & R (Rest and Recreation). Playing video games (Nintendo, Play Station, X-Box) which train one for better eye-hand coordination and quick decision-making are good aside from delivering gaming pleasure and entertainment.

We, the people knew that he was a bachelor when we clamored for him to run for President. We should at least give him some leeway on his private or personal concerns including spending time with women or with friends.


As President, is he delivering on the 4Hs – Honesty, Humility, Honor, and Hope?

For the first H, he appointed honest and incorruptible Cabinet and Bureau Chiefs. This resulted in the filing of corruption charges against officials in the Military, Customs, Internal Revenue, Immigration and other agencies. These also brought fiscal discipline and increase in government revenue collections.

For the second H, he forced high officials to humbly give up their “Wang Wang” mentality and started the campaign to reverse the culture of impunity. He is currently pursuing aggressively the prosecution of the perpetrators of the Maguindanao Massacre and the electoral sabotage against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who conspired with political warlords.

For the third H, he brought honor to the Philippines by getting appointed to the exclusive Board of the Open Government Partnership led by President Obama in recognition for his leadership in promoting transparency and accountability. In a very short period, the Philippines under his Presidency, has obtained a ratings upgrade from Standard & Poor’s and other rating agencies several times when even the United States got a downgrade.

For the fourth H, he has given the Filipinos a ray of hope.  By going after the “big fish” such as GMA, Ombudsman Gutierrez, Chief Justice Corona, General Garcia, and other high officials, he is showing that he is serious about fighting corruption. The improvement in our economy, the budget surplus, the low inflation rate, the higher growth rate and other significant factors such as technological advances and scientific discoveries and development certainly do make us very hopeful.

In recognition for his success in P-NOYing, the latest survey showed an approval rating of 70% and a disapproval rating of only 9%. The NAYs just do not have it!


The Filipino people are all Pinoys. The Philippine Government is a government OF the Pinoys, FOR the Pinoys and BY the Pinoys.

PINOYing or being a Pinoy should not be all about rights, privileges, fun and excitement alone. It is also about responsibilities and obligations. Quoting John F. Kennedy, we should “ask not what the country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

We clamored for NOYNOY to run. We elected him to govern. We should now practice PINOYing by helping him pursue NOYNOYing in the positive sense, and P-NOYing in the presidential sense.

In this period of our history, “the AYEs have it!”

Friday, April 20, 2012

SALN Laws: Mala Prohibita

I had a haircut on the first weekend after Easter. My barber took out a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me while he proceeded cutting my hair. It was a list of Corona impeachment issues that he wanted to review and get clarification


After several days of case presentation by the Prosecution and the Defense panels, the Senate as an Impeachment Court (IC) resolved the following issues:
1.              The complaint or Articles of Impeachment as filed by the House of Representatives is valid and not defective as claimed by the Defense;
2.              The Impeachment Court (IC) acquired jurisdiction and proceeded to try the case;
3.              The Impeachment Court (IC) is not an ordinary criminal court, hence – Criminal Procedure is not followed and proof beyond reasonable doubt is not required.

I will not discuss in this article how successful the Prosecution and Defense panels were.  I would rather tackle some issues that my barber and I feel need clarification.


The still unresolved issue is the access of CJ Corona’s foreign currency bank deposits by the Impeachment Court (IC), the Prosecution and Defense panels. The IC subpoenaed the relevant deposits earlier, discovered its existence through the bank’s officials. But the Supreme Court issued a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) against the Impeachment Court accessing the accounts.

The Senate as IC decided to respect the TRO, I assume, also temporarily. The Supreme Court could decide to make it permanent or rescind it.

As I have written earlier, the Senate as an Impeachment Court has the power and, in fact, a duty to ignore the TRO. In impeachment trials, the IC is supreme. In the exercise of its duty and jurisdiction, it has the power to subpoena any document that could help find the truth. It cannot be interpreted as having exercised grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in excess of its jurisdiction.

The impeachment power is precisely granted to the Legislature as a check and balance to the enormous powers of the Supreme Court and the Presidency.  That should also be respected.


It is now settled, given the evidence presented and by admission of the Defense, that there were discrepancies resulting from non-declaration, false declaration and/or under declaration in Chief Justice Renato Corona’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

The issue according to the Defense is, whether Chief Justice Corona caused the non-declaration, false declaration, and/or under declaration willfully, maliciously, or in bad faith.

This is also the understanding of Senator Judge Miriam Defensor Santiago who stated it in one of her “lectures” during the trial.

Before the other Senator Judges and the sovereign public get persuaded into believing that it is so, I would like to express my own view for their consideration.


There is a Constitutional, statutory and administrative mandate to submit under oath a truthful and accurate declaration of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) on the part of public officials such as Chief Justice Renato Corona.  Special laws such as Republic Acts 6713 and 3019 cover the required declaration, disclosure and the corresponding manner and specific contents.

It is settled law that offenses such as the violation of Republic Act 6713, which is a special law, are considered Mala Prohibita. In these types of offenses, proving intent, malice or bad faith is not necessary. The fact that you violated the law, regardless of whether or not you had intent, did it in good faith, or by mistake, makes you guilty.

The law itself has defined the intent. In order to promote transparency, accountability and to prevent graft and corruption, public officials are required by law to submit under oath a truthful and accurate declaration of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and disclose the same fully in a manner provided by law.

Either you do it or you do not. If you do not, you are guilty. If there are discrepancies due to non-declaration, false declaration, and/or under declaration as in the case of Chief Justice Corona, there is a VIOLATION. The law does not care whatever your motive or intent is or was.

Can SALNs be corrected?

The Defense lawyers led by Former Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas believe so. My barber and I do not think so. The Supreme Court in several cases ruled a similar opinion as ours.

According to the Supreme Court rulings, if the information in the SALN is false and inaccurate, the person who filed it is not allowed to be first informed about the error and to correct it.

In a March 23, 2011 ruling on G.R. No. 176058 the Supreme Court Second Division made such assertion.

It also said, "Assuring the truth and accuracy of the answers in the SALN is the function of the filer's oath that to the best of his knowledge and information, the data he provides in it constitutes the true statements of his assets, liabilities, net worth, business interests, and financial connections. Any falsity in the SALN makes him liable for falsification of public documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code."

"The law will not require the impossible, namely, that the committee [that reviewed his SALN] must ascertain the truth of all the information that the public officer or employee stated or failed to state in his SALNs and remind him of it," it added.
G.R. Nos. 190580-81 promulgated February 21, 2011 also rejected the notion that Section 10 RA 6713 allows SALNs to be corrected.

It was claimed by the erring official that he was entitled to be informed of any error in his SALN and should have been given the opportunity to correct it
But the Supreme Court said, "The notice and correction referred to in Section 10 are intended merely to ensure that SALNs are 'submitted on time, are complete, and are in proper form.  Obviously, these refer to formal defects in the SALNs.

"These are substantive, not formal defects, It would be absurd to require such heads to run a check on the truth of what the SALNs state and require their subordinates to correct whatever lies these contain.  The responsibility for truth in those

Ironically, Chief Justice Renato Corona certified this decision.

Does failure to submit a true and accurate SALN as mandated by law rise up to the level of impeachable offense? 

The House of Representatives, which is empowered by the Constitution to impeach impeachable officials, had ac

Violation by an impeachable official of the Constitutional, statutory, and administrative mandate to declare his true and accurate SALN would be tantamount to violating his oath of office. Violating his oath of office would be considered betrayal of public trust.

What the Senate and the sovereign public must ask then is, did the impeachable official (in this case CJ Corona), submit a true and accurate Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Holy Week to Remember

This past week was unforgettable for me both as a Christian and a Benedictine-educated lawyer.

As a Christian, I was again reminded of the pains, suffering and death that Jesus had to go through for humanity’s Salvation.

As a Bedan, I saw two classmates whose lives touched mine in some significant way as we pursued different paths in our respective careers, reminding me of my own mortality. It pained me to know that both of them died in the same week.

Former PCGG (Philippine Commission for Good Government) Commissioner Ric Abcede was originally an outstanding Thomasian (UST) prior to joining our Law Class ’72 in San Beda College.

He was Chairman of the UST’s Student Council when I was President of San Beda’s.  In the College of Law, he was an active writer/editor of the law journal. He joined me in my Crusading Lions’ Party to support the successful presidential campaign of one of my best friends, Toy Cedo in San Beda’s Law Council.

While both were spending time inside the campus, (Abcede for the Law Journal) and Cedo for the Law Council), I was busy in the streets of Manila focusing on socio-economic reforms as an active participant of the then Student Revolution.

We all took the Bar and became lawyers immediately thereafter in the year Martial Law was declared.

After a stint at the International Labor Organization (ILO), Ric Abcede went back to the Philippines in 1976 looking for a job. I was then climbing the corporate ladder and was lucky to be hired as Executive Vice President and COO of Magna Services Corporation and Director of Personnel of the entire GUEVENT Group of companies. Magna Services was a sister company of DMG (Volkswagen), Toshiba, AVIS and 14 other companies under the umbrella of GUEVENT (Guevara Enterprises). The group was a model family corporation founded by the late endearing, compassionate and inspiring entrepreneur Domingo M. Guevara.

I hired Ric as my assistant in the Personnel Office, and assigned him to help run the Corporate Newsletter.  I thought that his background in Labor laws would also help me run the Personnel Department.

When I was about to escape from the Philippines, I had to tell him that I was attending an international JAYCEES conference and confidentially told him that I was not coming back. I told him to help run the office temporarily and also promised that when the time came, I would recommend him to be my replacement.

We were forced to live in Sabah, Malaysia for several months until paroled into the United States as political refugees. Unfortunately, I must have written my resignation and my recommendation for my replacement too late because he never got appointed.

He was already a PCGG Commissioner the last time I saw him in his office. I remember discussing with him the use of technologies and soliciting the help of Cyber security experts in recovering ill-gotten wealth.

Ric, Former Senator Rene Saguisag and I have a few things in common. One, we are proud Bedan alums. Two, we all love to dance.

Rene prefers to dance and is good at it with his regular D.I. (Dance Instructor). I always show that I enjoy and also love dancing with my partner. Ric also did especially when dancing with somebody like Imelda Marcos. When you are seeking a compromise, I guess you have to learn how to “dance with the music”.

Toy Cedo was one of my closest friends in San Beda. As undergrads, we had a group called, “ADEBNAS”, (not so creative SANBEDA in reverse). We used to get invited to many parties because of our practice of making sure that no girl would ever be a “wall flower”. The “driving force” behind this group was Bob Ledesma, now also a lawyer and only son of San Beda’s late Dean Feliciano Jover Ledesma of the College of Law. He was the owner and “driver” of the car that carried us in our escapades for years.

We had tremendous memories getting drunk together, traveling to places like Concepcion, Tarlac where another late friend/member Mauro Lacsamana was from, to my town Rosales, and Dagupan City, Pangasinan where another friend/member Tony Mendoza lived and of course, Baguio City.

Toy was a great student debater. He was the Captain of the champion debating team that beat Ateneo, UP, de la Salle and Siliman University. He was adjudged the Best Debater in all of them.

He was also a great practicing lawyer.  He must be that good if somebody like Former National Security Adviser Almonte hired him to handle some delicate cases.  Ask Former PDIC Chairman and DBP Chairman Lanny Nañagas who also asked Toy to represent him.

During the first Persian Gulf War, many Filipino workers were displaced and were forced to be sent home. A cause of action was in order to go after some frozen Iraqi Funds to compensate the workers. A topnotch American lawyer friend in Washington, D.C. asked me for a partner in the Philippines to help pursue the cases.

Without hesitation, I recommended Toy Cedo and then proceeded to arrange for them to meet in Manila. That’s how I looked at him as a lawyer. 

When I formed a couple of companies including one that brought Frank Sinatra to Manila, he was readily the Corporate Counsel and Corporate Secretary.

In our class was someone who was No.3 in the Bar Examinations. When he needed help in a litigation involving some relatives and town mates, guess whom he chose to hire?

ATTORNEY TOY CEDO, the lawyers’ lawyer!

We had other experiences together in many other ways even as professionals. In the early years of Martial Law, Gabby Lopez (Eugenio Lopez III), now Chairman of ABS-CBN, and I organized a group to learn KARATE skills. Invited to join us were Toy Cedo, Bob Ledesma, Lanny Nañagas and Daniel Olea.  It was held at the Lopez residence in Forbes Park, Makati. We got a couple of instructors who were involved with Bob, Toy and me earlier in the Bushido Kai Club at the Knights of Columbus.

This was before my escape via kumpit (pump boat) traveling through the Southern route successfully evading the chasing pirates and ending in Sabah, Malaysia.

After the People Power Revolution I used to go home to the Philippines on a regular basis. In one of my visits, I was invited to attend a spiritual retreat run by Fr. Resty and a group called SPK (Sandiwanihang Pilipino at Kristiano) led by the late Congressman Vic Sumulong and my friend and town mate Bernie Estrella Arellano, daughter of the late Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella.

Attending the retreat with me were Toy Cedo, Bob Ledesma, the beautiful actress-singer Pinky de Leon, and a few others. I remember that during the mass and at the “peace be with you“ part, instead of shaking hands as you utter the words, you have the option to kiss the person (of opposite sex) beside you.

In subsequent masses during the entire retreat, Toy, Bob and I were secretly competing to be beside beautiful Pinky to say, “Kiss be with you.” J

I know Toy had a religious life. His was a lingering illness so he had all the chances to be even closer to God. I am absolutely sure that he is there now in heaven helping the gatekeepers fending off the challenges of Satan and the like.

I will surely miss Toy and in many ways Ric too.

My condolences and prayers go to Toy’s wife, Bee, their only son and the family of Ric!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I am attending FOSE 2012 as I write this column.  Like in the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2012 and MACWORLD/IWorld, I am lucky to obtain Press Credentials.

Originally named as plain Federal Office Systems Exposition (FOSE) exhibiting office ware in the Federal Government, it has evolved over the years as “the premier government information technology (IT) event that brings together federal, state, local and private sector partners to share the latest innovations and best practices in technology implementation.”

This year FOSE 2012 is focusing on both technology and policy management. It is comprised of five conferences: Cybersecurity, Cloud and Virtualization, Mobile Government, Defense Innovations as well as Records and Information Management.

Produced by 1105 Media's Government Events Group efficiently and effectively, FOSE 2012 is being held April 3 - 5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Providing a yearlong educational forum, FOSE will also host individual conferences for each of the topic areas above during 2012.

Kicking off the event on April 3rd was U.S. Chief Information Officer (CIO) Steven VanRoekel who delivered the opening keynote address. He expounded on the current landscape of federal IT as well as his vision for implementing a
common approach to the design of future federal architectures.

Tom Koulopolous, author of “The Innovation Zone”, was the featured speaker early in the afternoon. Koulopolous is known for “taking mystery out of innovation.”

One of the sessions that I attended was “The Dark Side of Facebook”. The speaker, Alix Levine who is the owner of WEBehavior, a consulting firm, discussed some samples and case studies on how the enemies of our way of life use Facebook for their sinister ends. I plan to write a separate article on this topic later.

The Wednesday keynote speaker will be former Senator George Mitchell and special envoy for Middle East peace. He is expected to offer a global perspective on government IT, including the impact of technology and social media on world political currents.

He will be followed in the afternoon by the first Navy SEAL ever to be appointed to a four-star flag rank, Adm. Eric Olson. His views on using technology to enhance the “new fighter warrior” will be aired. He will also offer “Lessons from the Bull Frog SEAL Commander”.

FOSE will feature five top women in government IT in a panel discussion on Thursday. They are Judy Marks, president of Siemens Government Technology; Dawn Meyerriecks, assistant director in the
Office of the National Director for Intelligence; Linda Rix, president of Avue Technologies; Lisa Schlosser, deputy administrator of OMB’s office of e-government and IT; and Susan Swart, CIO of the State Department. The panel will be moderated by 1105 Government Information Group President Anne Armstrong.

Being a member of the media, I am allowed to attend any or all of the sessions. Since I am unable to attend all, I will focus on some interesting sessions on Mobile Government, Cybersecurity, Cloud and Virtualization and Records and Information Management Conference Agenda. I will miss all the sessions on Defense Innovations because of time limitations.

I also plan to write about them in my next column.

It is indeed exciting and interesting to attend these sessions or conferences involving the government and its industry partners in the field of technology. I cite,for example, the initial stages of the Internet, the eBook and the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) technologies.
We all know that the Internet got started at the initiative of the U.S. Government. I was fortunate to be one of the first attendees of the conferences sponsored by the U.S. Federal Government on the eBook technology.

It was also due to these eGov conferences that I learned about the UAV technology. In fact, I was even appointed by one of the manufacturers/suppliers of the military to represent them in Southeast Asia.

In the case of the Philippines, the company was even willing, not only to sell it there, but also to transfer the technology for commercialization and for use of our military.

Unfortunately, despite an approved budget that passed through Philippine Congress to finance a pilot project, we failed to consummate an agreement probably because of our insistence on following the Anti-Corrupt Practices Act of the United States.

It might be worthwhile pursuing it again under the current Philippine regime if it is still possible. It is a very inexpensive and safe way to monitor our shorelines including those of the Spratlys.