Thursday, April 24, 2014

PNoy’s GPS (Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy) is also GPS (Guiding Path to be Straight

My barber is elated about the latest development on the Pork Barrel Scam.  He heard about Janet Napoles, the suspected architect of the scam meeting with Justice Secretary de Lima swearing to tell all that she knows.

In fact, the meeting was held at the Ospital Ng Makati before her scheduled surgery.  She signed an affidavit declaring everything she knows about the pork barrel scheme.  Aside from the usual suspects Senators Enrile, Revilla, and Estrada, she supposedly implicated over a hundred government officials from the present and previous administrations.

Former Senator Ping Lacson who refused using his pork barrel allocation during his days as a legislator, was provided a copy of the list by the Napoles family.  According to Ping Lacson who is also the current rehabilitation czar, the list includes at least 13 current and previous senators, many congressmen and even Cabinet-level officials.

He added, “The participation of officials implicated by Napoles was not necessarily in the form of receipt of kickbacks and commissions but in the transaction that made up the entire scam.”
Janet Napoles and Former Sen. Ping Lacson

I told my barber that this means that some of them may be not be charged as principals or co-conspirators but as accomplices, accessories or even innocent participants.

As PNoy said, “Follow the evidence.” After all, government funds were used, misused, and abused by certain government officials.

Justice Secretary de Lima is having the sworn statement of Janet Napoles evaluated to determine its veracity. It is also being checked on how it corroborates the existing evidence that had been gathered by the NBI and Department of Justice coming from the whistleblowers and other sources.

Napoles applied to be a State Witness. The evaluation will be submitted to the Ombudsman who will make the final recommendation to the Sandiganbayan.

Should Janet Napoles be made a State Witness?

I answered this question from my barber in a previous article: (

“I told my barber that my preference is for Napoles not to be made a State Witness if it could be helped – meaning that the Ombudsman is prudentially certain that, even without Napoles’ cooperation, she would be able to successfully prosecute and convict all the public officials and private parties who allegedly committed Plunder.  
I further said that Napoles’ acts, as a shrewd businesswoman who has been taking advantage of the Pork Barrel system and the corrupt minds of the legislators, deserves to be punished for her criminal acts.

But I am not averse to making Napoles a State Witness.  This is especially true if it is determined that this would guarantee the conviction of certain arrogant public officials who have consistently abused their power and exercised that “Wang Wang” mentality and culture of impunity to go with culture of corruption.

May Napoles qualify as a State Witness?  I contend that if Ombudsman Morales chooses to do it, Napoles could be one.

First of all, she is not as “Big” a Fish as any of the Senators, Congressmen, and other public officials from implementing agencies who could be prosecuted and convicted with the help of the testimonial, documentary, and other relevant evidence that she will provide.  State Witnesses are used precisely to go after the “Big Fish”.

Secondly, Napoles does not appear to be the “most guilty” as envisioned by the anti-graft, anti-corruption, and plunder law. The law is primarily directed to prosecute corrupt public officers and others who participate in the commission of the crime by the said public officers.

A Senator or a Congressman who is suspected of Plunder is a public officer entrusted by the electorate with the responsibility of safeguarding and protecting public funds.  He is empowered under the Pork Barrel system to appropriate funds to satisfy some identified needs of his constituency.  Misappropriating such funds for self-aggrandizement at the expense of a trusting electorate numbering millions is an offense of the highest order punishable by life imprisonment.

The principal power of discretion and judgment is with the Senator or Congressman. Correspondingly, the ultimate responsibility is with him.  In the crime of Plunder, he is the principal suspect with private parties like Napoles as willing participants and beneficiaries.  

Napoles could not have been the “most guilty”.  While she was an effective and efficient executor of the legislator’s greedy wish to misappropriate public funds, she was not indispensable.  As cited by COA and as reported by GMA Research News, she was not the only person who was used by the legislators to implement such a scheme.   There were others involving more lawmakers, fake NGOs, and probably more money.  It is just that her operation was the first to be exposed because of whistleblowers that included a relative who accused her of serious illegal detention. “

The goal is to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Janet Napoles has to tell ALL.  She should not exempt anybody who participated in the scams (Pork Barrel and Malampaya).  Each accused will have the opportunity to counter her version of the truth. The judicial system has procedures to determine and filter the truth.

What are the consequences for the accused public officials?

I also answered this question in the previous article:

“Plunder charges against them will have the following legal effects:

1.    They will be arrested and detained without bail as the trial proceeds; and
2.   They will also be suspended from office.

Upon final conviction,

1     The penalty shall be life imprisonment;
2.      Any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stock derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State; and
3.All retirement or gratuity benefits will be lost.”

Indeed, PNoy’s GPS (Grand Prosecution of the Sleazy) is also GPS (Guiding Path to be Straight)!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Being Christian to Non-Christians in Bangsamoro Land

To Catholics and other believers of Jesus Christ, it is Holy Week and Christianity is in the forefront.  It is a reminder that someone died to benefit others and that a new life resurrected to bring hope, justice, peace, and development to mankind.

To be relevant, I thought of writing about Christian values as applied to non-Christians in the Philippines.  Over decades if not centuries, a group of Filipinos who have resisted foreign invaders have been fighting a Holy War against another Christianized group.  Their cry was Justice, Peace, and Development.  Many sacrificed their lives so that future generations would heed this cry for a better tomorrow.

Holy Week and Easter reminds Christians of their responsibility to adhere to Social Doctrines embedded in everyone’s hearts and minds – JUSTICE, PEACE and DEVELOPMENT.

I am glad to hear that, finally, a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) has been drafted and submitted to the President.  Once it passes legal and constitutional scrutiny by the President’s legal advisers and by Congress, it could become law either by the end of this year or by early next year.

A Commission of 15 people created by Executive order earlier drafted the proposed law.  It was composed of 8 and 7 representatives from the MILF and the Philippine Government, respectively.  Two of the fifteen belong to the Indigenous People (IP) or Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICC). 

The IPs and the ICCs are also called the Lumad (a Cebuano term for Indigenous People). The Lumads who are located in many parts of Mindanao include, but are not limited to, the T’boli (Sultan Kudarat); B’laan (Cotabato); Tiruray (Maguindanao); Manobo (Bukidnon); Subanon (Zamboanga); and Bagobo (Davao/Agusan).

Within the Bangsamoro Land, it was reported that “there are more than 100,000 Lumads who lay claim to ancestral domain that spans 300,000 hectares of land and coastal waters within 12 municipalities of Maguindanao and parts of neighboring Sultan Kudarat province.”

Many are pinning hopes that the peace agreement (CAB) and the eventual Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would finally bring justice, peace, and development to a people and areas devastated by war, injustices, and poverty.

Facing representatives of a government ruled by the Christian majority led by PNoy, the Muslim minority represented by the MILF indeed competently negotiated a good agreement that benefit the Muslims in general.  Desirous for peace, tired of the effects of war, and negotiating in good faith, we hope to see a law that could withstand legal and constitutional scrutiny.

Admittedly, the non-Christian Muslims must benefit from a peace agreement that they and their forefathers fought and died for.  I assume that they are also sharing it with other minorities who live since time immemorial in areas equally devastated by war, injustices, and poverty.

I am referring to the Lumads.  Constitutionally, they are given recognition and semblance of protection:

1.             Article II, Section 22. The State recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities within the framework of national unity and development;
2.             Article XII, Section 5. The State, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national development policies and programs, shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, and cultural well-being;
3.             Article XIII, Section 6. The State shall apply the principles of agrarian reform or stewardship, whenever applicable in accordance with law, in the disposition or utilization of other natural resources, including lands of the public domain under lease or concession suitable to agriculture, subject to prior rights, homestead rights of small settlers, and the rights of indigenous communities to their ancestral lands. The State may resettle landless farmers and farmworkers in its own agricultural estates which shall be distributed to them in the manner provided by law;
4.             Article XIV, Section 17. The State shall recognize, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions, and institutions. It shall consider these rights in the formulation of national plans and policies; and
5.             Article XVI, Section 12. The Congress may create a consultative body to advise the President on policies affecting indigenous cultural communities, the majority of the members of which shall come from such communities.

In fact, statutorily, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997 was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, As stated by former Chief Justice Puno, “After all, the IPRA was enacted by Congress not only to fulfill the constitutional mandate of protecting the indigenous cultural communities' right to their ancestral land but, more importantly, to correct a grave historical injustice to our indigenous people.”

In the ARMM agreement, the Lumads were completely ignored. In the current CAB, there was some representation by the IPs in the negotiation. And in the Framework of the CAB, there are specific provisions that refer to the Indigenous Peoples Rights:

1.             III – POWERS, 6. The customary rights and traditions of indigenous peoples shall be taken into consideration in the formation of the Bangsamoro’s Justice System. This may include the recognition of indigenous processes as alternative modes of dispute resolution; and
2.             VI – BASIC RIGHTS, 3. Indigenous peoples’ rights shall be respected.

This actually shows a good faith effort on the part of the parties to include the interests of the Indigenous People in this historic undertaking.  I just hope that in the final Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the powers and rights of the IPs as enumerated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) in implementing the constitutional mandates, would be more detailed, more pronounced, and as clear to avoid any misunderstanding.

In the interest of social justice, lasting peace, and accelerated development for all, it is the sign of the times.  It is both the Christian and Islamic way!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WhatsApp: 64 Billion Messages Processed In 24 Hours

A few days ago I received an email from Peter Diamandis who is “an American engineer, physician, and entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, the co-founder and chairman of Singularity University and the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. He is also the former CEO and co-founder of the Zero-Gravity Corporation, the co-founder and vice chairman of Space Adventures Ltd., the founder and chairman of the Rocket Racing League, the co-founder of the International Space University, the co-founder of Planetary Resources, founder of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, and vice-chairman & co-founder of Human Longevity, Inc.”
FORBES Magazine recently chose Diamandis as one of the 50 Greatest Global Leaders.  The list included Pope Francis, Germany’s PM Angela Merkel, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Billionaire Warren Buffet, Google and You Tube’s Susan Wojcicki, among others.
Peter is in my Google+ Circle and I was one of the first buyers of his New York Times bestseller “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think.”
I am sharing his email in its entirety because I want my readers to appreciate the significance of its contents and the message that it delivers.
Hi Benjamin,
In February of this year, Facebook's $19B acquisition of mobile messaging platform WhatsApp set a record for the largest software acquisition of all time. It set the value of WhatsApp at more than Sony Corporation.
Last week, the 5-year-old startup broke yet another impressive record -- 64 BILLION messages processed in 24 hours. To give you some perspective, that is 10 times the amount sent in the entire US text message industry in one day. That is just insane!
1) 6 D's Update - Disruptive and Demonetizing the wireless communications industry: WhatsApp is a $1-per-year service with 465M users. These users are sending 20B messages and receiving 44B messages every day. WhatsApp is both disrupting and demonetizing the entire wireless industry, and now the Facebook acquisition provides the infrastructure needed for WhatsApp to begin offering voice calls. So instead of people paying on average $80 per month, users only have to pay $1 per year for the same services. Wireless carriers, beware. This shift could disrupt more than $100B in annual wireless revenues.
2) Great example of an Exponential Organization: As we learned at Abundance 360, every exponential entrepreneur needs to have a Massively Transformative Purpose (MTP). The founder of WhatsApp, Jan Kou, has one: "Disrupt the wireless industry and stop them from stealing our money." Jan said, "(I'm) interested in disrupting the way cellphone carriers nickeled-and-dimed customers for text messaging, which was especially useful for those looking to connect with loved ones overseas." Not even 5 years old and with only 55 employees, WhatsApp has done just that. It is hard to comprehend how in such a short time, one company has grown to handling 3 times more messages than the entire global text message industry. This is exactly the stuff our community is discussing and I'm teaching at Abundance 360. I trust this makes perfect sense and is inspiring instead of terrifying.
3) Why You Should Care: This kind of technological disruption is happening all around us, all the time. The $100B wireless industry was completely taken off guard. If they were able to read a technology road map and knew this was going to happen, they might have had enough time to prepare and capitalize on this shift. Learning how to understand how technology evolves, using tools like a Technology Road Map, is what you need more than anything to ride ontop of the tsunami instead of being crushed by it. This is exactly what we're going to be focusing on within the Abundance 360 community for the next 25 years.
Quick Stats on WhatsApp:
   64B messages processed per day - 20B sent and 44B received
   465M users on platform
   1M join platform every day
   70% of users come back every day
   $100B mobile communications industry being displaced
   $18B - Sony is worth less than WhatsApp
   50X ROI - Sequoia made on WhatsApp deal
   55 employees when sold to Facebook, that's a price of $375M per employee!!!