Tuesday, October 23, 2012


“The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”
This is Section 7, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution. It is very specific and SELF-EXECUTING.
Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution states, “The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.
Under the same Article VII, Section 17, it provides, “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Under these two sections the President is vested the power and, in fact, called upon to faithfully execute the provisions of said people’s Constitutional right. Limitations maybe imposed either by Congress in the form of a Statute or by the President in the form of an Executive Order, if desired. The latter has the force and effect of law.
The power to issue Executive Orders is derived from the Executive Power vested in the President.
But the absence of either should not prevent any Filipino citizen from demanding access to information on matters of public concern as provided for in the Bill of Rights.
Congressman and future Senator Erin Tanada should go ahead and continue pushing for the law under the current Congress. If not acted upon on time, he should work with Malacanang Palace in drafting an Executive Order similar to the provisions of the proposed FOI Act.  If appointed by the President later in the Executive Department, the duty to faithfully implement the Constitutional mandate may be included under his domain.
PNoy has a commitment locally and to the International community to have Open Government. This is one way of showing it. It would also provide his office the opportunity to monitor the pulse and points of interest of the public, be they media, supporters, and critics/naysayers.
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines also states in Article II Section 26, "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." 
There is a pending bill that would enable the said constitutional provision defining the prohibition of political dynasties.  But the former never had the chance of passing primarily because of the strong presence of the dynasties in Congress. It looks like it would continue to be so based on the candidates offered by the coalition of parties of both sides of the aisle.
The Cory Constitution provides another way of passing a law if the people cannot expect Congress to do it due to conflict of interest. The provision on People’s Initiative would do the trick.

COMELEC Brillantes suggested that we use People's Initiative to pass an enabling law to implement Section 26, Article II of the Philippine Constitution. It is similar to my suggestion earlier. Because of the apparent conflict of interest on the part of the current members of Congress, it is virtually impossible to pass such a law. Since it is his suggestion, Brillantes is expected to cooperate and assist such a People's Initiative. 

My other suggestion would have been for the President to issue an Executive Order defining political dynasties to implement the Constitutional provision. As stated above, this power is derived from the Executive Powers vested to him by the Constitution. An Executive Order has the force and effect of law.

I do not think that the Supreme Court would dare declare as unconstitutional the execution of a Constitutional mandate. But, as I also wrote earlier, REAL POLITIK would most likely prevent the President from following this suggestion.

Another suggestion is to implement the Constitutional mandate prohibiting political dynasties in the local level. A local law could be passed defining political dynasties by the provincial, city, or municipal lawmakers. Or use People's Initiative to pass the local law. This is easer to do. The start of the process alone would pressure local officials to make a choice by passing it the regular way or by People’s Initiative. But the threat of being removed by “Recall” remains precisely that.

The Constitution “prohibits political dynasties as may be defined by law.” It does not distinguish whether it should be national or local. 

Who was it that said, "Politics is all local"?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Philippine news reports say that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile still finds it hard to believe that some quarters continue to claim his ambush on Sept. 22, 1972 was fake.

Enrile said he was ready to appear before an independent commission that would gather the testimonies of martial law survivors so he could confront his detractors and “set things straight once and for all.”

Good development! A Commission to “set things straight” re Martial Law is wise for current and future generations. Enrile should not be allowed to have a monopoly of what historical facts should be known, learned, and believed in the future.

Confrontation should not be limited to, by, and between the Extreme Right represented by Marcos, Ver, and Enrile and the Extreme Left represented by Jose Ma. Sison and company. Most of the victims do not belong to both Extremes.

Thousands of the victims (including members of the media) are still alive and should be allowed to confront Enrile - the Administrator of Martial Law. Some of the Human Rights lawyers led by former Senator Rene Saguisag, Senator Joker Arroyo, and many others are still alive to confront and cross-examine Enrile regarding his role as Martial Law Administrator and as Secretary of Defense during the Dictatorial Regime.

Many of the offenses committed during the period were Crimes Against Humanity and PNoy could therefore invite the participation of International Criminal investigators to hear the testimonies of victims.

There is NO Statute of Limitations for Crimes Against Humanity. COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY is an accepted principle by international and local jurisprudence.

Depending on the evidence gathered, we see the possibility that Enrile and other parties could still be charged before the International Criminal Courts. Or he could actually act as a State witness testifying to the participation of Imelda Marcos and other Marcos cronies for offenses committed and punishable under domestic and international laws.

If it becomes necessary to amend existing laws to compensate victims and to punish the offenders, a law could be passed using the People's Initiative instead of the usual Congress that, I predict, would continue to be composed of Political Dynasties.

EX POST FACTO Laws are allowed by International Criminal Law and jurisprudence if they involve Crimes Against Humanity. We owe this to the Filipino People and to Philippine History!

There was more than just one contrived event to justify the timing of the declaration of Martial Law. Public records and press reports of Enrile’s own words admitting that his ambush was faked was just one. The bombing of the toilets at the Manila Hotel while the Constitutional Convention was being held was another.

The fact is that there were thousands of victims during Martial Law. Offenses committed against them could be considered as Crimes Against Humanity. Like the Yamashita case and the Holocaust cases, the Principle of Command Responsibility could be used to adjudge the leaders that caused the commission of the crimes guilty even if they did not directly participate.

Per his own suggestion and challenge, Enrile’s role during Martial Law, at EDSA, and thereafter should be investigated and looked at for the right perspective and for history’s sake.

At EDSA he was due to be arrested and, according to his own words to the late Cardinal Sin, Marcos and Ver’s forces were coming to kill him.

The fact that Fidel Ramos joined him and People Power at the behest of Cardinal Sin and Cory Aquino eventually saved him from the Marco/Ver forces is now part of history. This version portrayed Enrile also as a victim of the Marcos dictatorship. But like the ambush, if Enrile now has a different version, this is the right time to investigate and find out the Whole Truth.

Now that Enrile has a different version and has become a defender and protector of Martial Law being its Administrator, it is safe to claim that he could be as responsible as Marcos and Ver were, for the offenses committed during the dictatorship. An investigation, therefore, is in order. 

Indeed, this turned out to be good news! One of those who had the Command Responsibility, namely Enrile, is still alive and kicking!! It would really be a blessing for the Filipino People to have access to those documents and proofs that he claims he has during the Martial Law regime.

I wonder how any of those documents or proofs could justify the indefinite detention and torture of thousands of Filipinos including heroes Ninoy Aquino, Jose Diokno, members of the media, nuns, priests, students, farmers and many others!

I have to see how the evidence that he supposedly has could justify the raping and torture of women while under detention.

What about those “salvaged” and disappeared forever, never to be found and be seen by their loved ones again?

I told a Facebook friend, “If you were looking for some Divine Intervention on this issue, you just found one.”

Indeed, by the death of Marcos and Ver, the Filipino people were deprived of the Whole Truth and real Justice. Unfortunately, a combination of a corrupt system and officials corrupting and corrupted by it had driven us to this predicament.

Enrile was the third in a triumvirate that administered a dictatorial regime that committed atrocities against the Filipino people and the whole of mankind. He is still alive and willing to be interrogated and cross-examined.

While forgiven for turning against Marcos and Ver to save his life and liberty, he certainly pursued and enjoyed his happiness while Filipinos suffered and continue to do so before his very eyes,

GOD took two of the Unholy Trinity. One is left behind either to be a witness for the People of the Philippines or to be judged by them for his complicity.

The uncovering of Truth will serve us either way. Justice would prevail. History written down, we will cherish the Philippines of today as we did yesterday. We will cherish it tomorrow, as we shall forever!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Democratic and Republican Physical and Cyber State

“The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. “ (Section1, Article II, Philippine Constitution).

As a democratic State, all powers come from the people. Out of practicability, necessity, beneficiality, efficiency and effectiveness, the sovereign people may decide to delegate the powers to a group of people who may exercise them according to certain terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions are specified in an instrument called Constitution that the sovereign people ratified. This is akin to what we ordinarily call General and/or Special Powers of Attorney, signed, notarized, and delivered.

The functions, duties, and powers of the representatives or Attorneys-in-fact as enumerated in the Constitution are subject to certain rights and powers that the people reserved for themselves. These include the Bill of Rights, the People’s Initiative and in extreme cases, People Power Revolution.

The democratic process that the people follow to choose their representatives is what we call Elections. And the institution under which the representatives exercise their duties and functions is called Government.

The Philippine Government is not just democratic but republican as well. It is a Government Of the People, For the People, and By the People.

Certain elective officials are chosen by the people regularly – every 6 years for some, every 3 years for others and for special times for certain officials. Appointive officials under the Civil Service System and Constitutional officers serve for fixed terms. Political appointees are usually co-terminus with their political Bosses.

Apart from what the sovereign people specified in the Constitution, how do the Governors or public servants find out the “will of the people” or their Bosses’ wishes in between elections?

There were specific prohibitions for their public servants who were enacting laws: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” (Section 4, Article III).

With the prohibition, the people would be able to enjoy all the freedoms without fear or fervor to express their views for or against the acts of their own public servants. These views can be found in the newspapers, radio, television, cinema or other forms of media, the latest being texting, electronic communications, the Internet, the social media and the like.

Hearing, reading, feeling and knowing what is in the hearts and in the minds of the people to determine their will and wishes is a must for effective, efficient, and good governance. Curtailing or emasculating this freedom to express the people’s views would be depriving the Bosses from assisting the Head of State to guide the destinies of all Filipinos and the whole nation.

Surveys are proven ways to scientifically determine the pulse of the public despite their more limited samples. But obtaining information from the regular and social media, be they supporters or naysayers of the Government should be welcome so that it could be guided with humility, honesty, and honor in governance rather than proceeding with impunity, arrogance, and with ‘Wang Wang” mentality.

There is no place for any law that abridges freedom of expression. Any law that threatens any citizen with imprisonment for freely expressing his views under any circumstance is one such law. LIBEL should not be in the Revised Penal Code and should be excluded as a Cybercrime.

An educated, well-informed, and enlightened citizenry make a stronger, more creative, and progressive democracy.

To this end, the Constitution states, “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transaction, decisions, as well as to government research data used as bases for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.” (Section 7, Article III).

This provision, being included in the Bill of Rights, is self-executing. Until a law is passed providing such limitations, a sovereign citizen has a right to unlimited access to information on matters of public concern as specified.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act as proposed, consolidated, and sponsored by Congressman Erin Tañada should be passed ASAP not only to give more meaning to the above Constitutional provision but also to define the limitations and process for exercising the right.

It is too bad that Tañada was not included in the Senatorial slate of Daang Matuwid. He would have been the ideal candidate to explain, defend, and to discuss the benefits of this Constitutional and Statutory mandate in the campaign trail.

There is still time to pass it. “For it was all written. So shall it be done.”

I understand that there is a plan for Congressman Tañada to be in the Executive Department. That is good news. It is always better to have a Tañada on your side. Ninoy Aquino had nationalist Lorenzo Tañada, Sr. on his side during the Marcos years. Cory Aquino had Wigberto Tañada after People Power. PNoy should sit down with Erin immediately, and announce the appointment thereafter!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Drawing the Battle Lines; Defining and Delivering the Message

Hearing and reading the public announcements of the Senatorial candidates in the Philippines, my barber concluded and echoed the public perception, “Same old, same old, the return of mga Anak ng PoTra (Trapo)”

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines states in Article II Section 26, "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law." 

There is a pending bill that would enable the said constitutional provision defining the prohibition of political dynasties.  But the former never had the chance of passing primarily because of the strong presence of the dynasties in Congress. It looks like it would continue to be so based on the candidates offered by the coalition of parties of both sides of the aisle.

The Cory Constitution provides another way of passing a law if the people cannot expect Congress to do it due to conflict of interest. The provision on People’s Initiative would do the trick. We will discuss this in a separate article.

Right now, Real Politick understandably rules and governs the strategies of all interested parties.
My barber asks, “How do you draw the lines and differentiate the apparently indistinguishable coalition candidates?”


PNoy actually defined his group’s message clearly – both in words and in action. His is the group that would follow and continue theDAANG MATUWID principles and programs. “Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” remains a compelling message. PNoy and his group will continue to fight corruption and in the process alleviate poverty.  Eliminating the “Wang Wang” mentality that perpetuates impunity and arrogance by the powers that be is as forceful.

The opposing group would have to either show that they could do better or define a completely different message.

DILG Secretary Mar Roxas also explained his group’s approach to the election campaign and governance: “Decency, Honor, Integrity.”

The message combined do not differ with what the Aquino-Roxas tandem represented as I described during the Presidential elections of 2010: 4 Hs – Honesty, Humility, Honor, and Hope.


Battle of the Shepherds: The Daang Matuwid Team is shepherded by PNoy, the Anti-Corruption King. The other groups are shepherded by deposed President and convicted but pardoned plunderer Erap Estrada; by VP Binay who was beset with corruption charges when he was Makati Mayor; and Senator Enrile, former Martial Law Administrator of the corrupt Marcos regime.

Battle of the seniors and what they symbolizeFormer Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. (74 yrs. old) vs. former Senator Ernie Maceda (77 yrs. old). Both represent experience and wisdom. Magsaysay symbolizes positivism and hope. He embodies the Daang Matuwid message and personifies the 4 Hs.  An Engineer by profession, he pioneered the cable TV industry and authored laws protecting the E-Generation. Maceda, on the other hand, symbolizes negativism, always looking at the dark side espoused by the naysayers. A former Executive Secretary of Marcos, he is known for being “Mr. Expose”. The late Mayor Arsenio Lacson of Manila delivered the famous, long-lasting remark about then Councilor Maceda,  “So young yet so corrupt.”

Battle of Military Rebels:  Senator Antonio Trillanes vs. Senator Greg Honasan. The former is with the PNoy group while the latter is with the opposing group. Trillanes rebelled protesting the corruption and election cheating of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime while Honasan launched several attempted coups against President Cory Aquino – temporarily disrupting the country’s economic and political advancement. 

Battle of the Magsaysay Legacy:  Former Senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay vs. Rep. Mitos Magsaysay.  The former is the original having been a Magsaysay by blood and birth. A decent, honest and honorable man, he is a known supporter of  PNoy and the foremost believer of his own father’s advocacy, “Those who have less in life must have more in law,” and that of the Pope’s “Preferential option for the poor.” The latter is a Magsaysay by marriage – no Magsaysay blood in her veins.  A naysaying negativist and a staunched critic of PNoy, she is more known as an aggressive defender of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Battle of Mindanao – Between the Victim (Senator Koko Pimentel) vs. the Beneficiary (former Rep. Zubiri) of Electoral Fraud.  The former was robbed of his election as a Senator due to electoral fraud. He had to suffer for four years of being deprived of his rightful place. The latter enjoyed the benefits and perks of being a Senator as the former suffered. A Bar Topnotcher, Koko knows his law and how to make laws. He also knows how to interpret the law as shown in the impeachment proceedings of ousted CJ Corona. He is Mindanao’s best hope for the country’s leadership.

Battle of Senatorial Brothers: Senator Alan Cayetano is the brother of Senator Pia Cayetano vs. Rep. JV Ejercito, brother of Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Already a proven and experienced Senator and a good lawyer, Cayetano should be preferred over Ejercito. Cayetano belongs to the Daang Matuwid Team. The voters might decide to elect or reject both, not a question of electing either.

Battle of Senatorial Sons: Rep. Sonny Angara (Son of Sen. Ed Angara) vs. Rep. Jack Enrile (Son of Sen. Johnny Enrile). The former is with PNoy’s group. A smart and sharp lawyer, he was a very effective spokesman for the House Prosecution Team in the Impeachment of CJ Corona. He is deemed to be his father’s replacement. The latter, as admitted by his own father, still has some issues haunting him when he was young. This will probably be ventilated in the campaign trail. He is deemed to join his father and to take advantage of his father’s newly earned popularity brought about by the impeachment proceedings.

Battle of the Return of former Senators and Ex-Presidentiables:  Former Senator Jamby Madrigal vs. former Senator Richard Gordon. The former is with PNoy while the latter is with the other group. Madrigal is a descendant of former Senator Pacita Madrigal Warns who was identified politically with the late President Ramon Magsaysay, Sr.  She is known for her advocacies relating to women’s issues. Gordon was a supporter of Marcos and GMA. He was an effective Subic Bay (SBMA) Administrator during the Cory and Ramos administrations.

Battle of Political Wives:  Rep. Cynthia Villar (wife of Sen. Manny Villar) vs. Former Gov. Tingting Cojuangco (wife of former Rep. Peping Conjuangco).  The former represents her husband’s NP in the coalition with PNoy’s group. She is also there to replace her husband who cannot run for Senator in this election. The latter represents the Binay group in the Noy-Bi campaign that elected both PNoy and Binay.  She belongs to the “Kamag-anak, Inc.” that tarnished the Cory Aquino regime.

Battle of the Party List Leaders on the Left: Former Rep. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan vs. Rep. Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna.The former is with the PNoy Team who almost made it to the top 12 in the last elections. The presence of actor-celebrities among her opponents deprived the Filipino people of her services. Her work merited a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in the past. The women are expected to rally behind her this time around. They need her in the Senate. Casino is really an independent who does not belong to any of the coalitions. His positions on issues should help enlighten the citizenry.

Battle between the Future and the Past: Bam Aquino, 35 years old, is the youngest of all the candidates. He is part of the PNoy Team and represents the E-Generation.  A former Chairman of the National Youth Commission and an active leader of the National Youth Parliament, he would be representing the interests of the Filipino youth. A digital native, he would be concerned with education, electronic media and communication, economic programs, environment, electoral reforms and other issues affecting the E-Generation such as entrepreneurship, equity expansion, equality of opportunities, employment, electronic entertainment, empowerment, and all elements of innovation.  He symbolizes the FUTURE. The other group is fielding the oldest candidate at the age of 77, Maceda. He represents thePAST and would most likely focus on experiences, records, and memories.


MTRCB Chief Grace Poe Llamanzares, Senators Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero decided to join the Daang Matuwid Team and to campaign with the group. But the other camp also adopts them as their guest candidates.

Indeed, there is poetic justice in Fernando Poe, Jr. being the victim of electoral fraud. A President FPJ would have put his VP Loren Legarda and his spokesman Chiz Escudero in the highest corridors of power.  Making them the most popular Senatorial candidates and adopted by both camps is also a tribute to the late Movie King and cheated Presidential candidate.

Of course, making his daughter, Grace, a Senator would even be a greater tribute and, as some would say, “God’s way of giving just compensation.”

This is my attempt to draw the Battle Lines to satisfy my barber’s curiosity and to the interested and appreciative readers. Because of the Message, the electronic voting Method, the Organization and the Resources of the respective coalitions, it could encourage STRAIGHT VOTING.  In the 1987 elections CORY’s CHOICE was very effective. I wonder if it will also happen with PNoy’s CHOICE.

Otherwise, it would be one against the rest. The practice of “single shooting” would continue and the rich candidate would give to all the local candidates just to be included in the magic 12 probably at the expense of the Common Candidates.