Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bello Maynigo Casanova: A Trailblazer

I recently got the news that my first cousin, Engineer Bello Maynigo Casanova just joined the God Almighty in Heaven. Our prayers go with our condolences to Manang Lydia and children Dodo, Lucylynn, and Boyd. His late son Bobby is meeting him at the gates of Heaven.

The last time I saw Manong Bello was during the funeral of my eldest sister, Herminia in Rosales, Pangasinan some years ago. He and Manang Lydia came all the way from Malaybalay, Bukidnon to join us in our family’s hour of mourning and grief. I remember him saying that his older sister, Manang Mining was over 100 years old. He said in a humorous tone, that he had to give her a LIFETIME pension of P10,000/month.

Manong Bello was a trailblazer in our family. Most in our family excelled in arithmetic, the older ones becoming mathematics teachers. Uncle Venancio, my father Antonio, Bello’s older brother Manong Jesus, and Manong David were good examples. They however became either School Principals or District Supervisors.

Manong Bello’s mother Auntie Pinay was the eldest sister of my father who was the youngest in the family. Brilliant with numbers Manong Bello was the first in our family to become a licensed Engineer and a very good one. He was subsequently followed by other relatives that included my only brother Pepe who was equally handsome; Engineer Jessie Casanova who was with Boeing for years; Engineer Tony Casanova who was No. 2 in the Engineering Board exams; and a few more belonging to the younger generation that included my only son Raul and the Engineer Casanova kids who now work for Boeing. Others like my late sisters Loreto and Mila as well as Manong Dado and Valentin pursued the CPA route.  Of course, more significant was that numbers became more infinite when two in our family became priests – Fr. Butch Maynigo who is now a Parish priest at Staten Island, New York and the late Fr. Cornelio Casanova.

I will never forget what the Rector of San Beda College told me when he saw the results of my aptitude exams, “Why don’t you take up Engineering?” I replied, “I want to be a lawyer. Besides, father, San Beda does not offer Engineering.”

A trailblazing “Bello, a Maynigo, and a handsome Casanova”, he met and married beautiful Manang Lydia who belongs to the famous Tabios family of Bukidnon. For that, my handsome cousin settled in that part of the country.

The Maynigo Casanova family is also noted for Poultry Raising and Piggery in our town of Rosales. Manong Bello brought this experience and exposure in this field to become the largest supplier of chicken and pork to San Miguel Corporation out of Mindanao. He and his wife also built and ran a successful grocery/supermarket business in Malaybalay.

Being married to a political family like the Tabios clan, he learned and actually mastered the political game. He became the Provincial Chairman of the Liberal Party of Bukidnon and, in fact, he even ran as the gubernatorial candidate of the party at one time. Losing the election did not diminish his political and economic influence in the province up to the time of his death.

He had a brother-in-law who was a former BIR Commissioner; another a former Congressman and Governor; and another a Dean of a college. I remember getting invited by the Dean to speak at the college once.

Manong Bello was a Man for All Seasons. He was not only a brilliant Engineer in the regular sense but he was also as smart in engineering one’s political ascendance, business endeavors and even in kickstarting one’s career as he did for many people I know. His kindness and generosity became his own trademark in the family.

"What we are is a gift given to us by God. What we become is our gift to God." 

Manong Bello was a great gift to us from God. For what he became and for what he has done on earth, he is a great gift to God.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ultimately Responsible? NO, Poe!

My barber asked, “What is your take on the Senate Report on the Mamasapano encounter? According to the report, PNoy is ‘ultimately responsible for the outcome of the mission’. Do you agree?”

“NO, Poe!” I told my barber. The report bothers me. I believe that Senator Poe and the other Senators who signed the report have an erroneous understanding and incorrect application of the doctrine of Command Responsibility.  Their claim that as Commander in Chief as well as Chief Executive of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) respectively, he is responsible for the criminal or illegal acts committed by the subordinates under his supervision and control.

There exists a body of law as well as jurisprudence that govern and apply the doctrine of Command Responsibility.

Section 28 (a) of the Rome Statute states,  “A military commander or person effectively acting as a military commander shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by forces under his or her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such forces, where:
                    (i) That military commander or person either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes; and
                    (ii) That military commander or person failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.”

If the parties are non-military, Section 28 (b) applies, “With respect to superior and subordinate relationships not described in paragraph (a), a superior shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by subordinates under his or her effective authority and control, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such subordinates, where:
                    (i) The superior either knew, or consciously disregarded information which clearly indicated, that the subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes;
                    (ii) The crimes concerned activities that were within the effective responsibility and control of the superior; and
                    (iii) The superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.“

The doctrine enunciated in the case of General Yamashita and the cases tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Nuremberg trials, and other cases, clearly illustrate how Command Responsibility was applied.

According to the tribunals, for the Commanders to be liable and responsible for the acts of others, look for the following elements:

1.     A superior-subordinate relationship must exist, where the superior has supervision and control over the subordinate;
2.     A subordinate committed a criminal act;
3.    The superior either knew, should have known, or consciously disregarded information which clearly indicated that the subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes; and
4.     The superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to take steps for the punishment of the subordinates.

Applying it to the Yamashita case, for example: The Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines during World War II committed atrocities amounting to mass murder, rape, and other war crimes or crimes against humanity. It was decided that General Yamashita as Commander of the Imperial Forces was as guilty as his subordinates who committed the crimes.
General Douglas MacArthur was the Commander of the US Armed Forces in the Pacific that included the Philippines where he was initially stationed. When he left the country for Australia, the Japanese atrocities continued unabated during his absence. He failed to prevent them while he was in Australia. He was not ultimately responsible. In fact, he returned to liberate the Filipinos from these atrocities!

US President Harry Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing about 200,000 people. Was he ever cited for being “ultimately responsible”? No, it ended World War II!

Let us apply it to the Mamasapano incident. The Senators insist on calling it a “massacre” despite the fact that 392 SAF heavily armed Commandos participated. The Senators and the Press called the SAF 44 heroes and yet, they are being portrayed as having been mercilessly “massacred” by unnumbered BIFF, MILF, and other armed groups.  I assume that the forty-four (44) SAF policemen fought valiantly killing the global terrorist Marwan and other rebels. The Senate Report is silent on what the rest of the 392 did, but it was quick to conclude, “The President is ultimately responsible for the outcome of the mission.”

What was the mission, and what was the outcome? The SAF Commandos were tasked to serve the Warrants of Arrest to capture Marwan – a globally wanted criminal and terrorist and Usman– another terrorist. Fully aware that they were hiding in a very secluded area and protected by Muslim rebels, the Commandos knew that it was a risky undertaking. It was a great mission for them because capturing both would prevent more deaths from terrorist bombings.

They successfully served the warrants and neutralized Marwan. Usman was wounded but escaped. In the process, fighting ensued resulting in the death of 44 SAF policemen, and 18 rebels.  There were 348 SAF survivors returning safely and successfully avoiding being “massacred”.

Except for the “massacre”, the mission was successful. But for the “massacre”, the Senate Report says that the President is ultimately responsible. The basis was a lot of “could have been”, “could have done more”, and “might have been” which are in legal parlance “speculative” and therefore, inadmissible.

Most importantly, the doctrine of Command Responsibility is erroneously understood, and incorrectly applied.

First, the Senate Report claims that BIFF, MILF, and other armed groups committed the alleged “massacre”. There is no superior-subordinate relationship between President Aquino and the perpetrators of the “massacre”.

Second, President Aquino obviously did not know, could not have known, or consciously disregarded any information that the rebels would be committing a “massacre”. On the contrary, he received false information from his subordinates to base his decision.

Third, he did not have the power to prevent the “massacre” but definitely ordered the Armed Forces to go and pursue the criminals, and for the Secretary of Justice to investigate and file the necessary charges for the victims to obtain justice. Furthermore, he ordered the sacking of General Napenas and forced the resignation of General Purisima.

Either as a Commander in Chief or Chief Executive, it is his prerogative to skip any Chain of Command.  He may consult officers or officials of lower ranks if he chooses to in aid of Execution. He may rely on certain advisers or resource persons who have expertise and his confidence also in aid of Execution. That is why in Organizational Charts, there is what we call Table of Organization vs. the Table of Power as well as those who have Line vs. Staff functions.

In the Catholic hierarchy, here is the chain: God, Pope, Cardinal, Archbishop, Parish Priest, and Parishioner. Sometimes the Parishioner communicates directly with God or asks for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and/or the Saints.

Sometimes the CEO asks low-level employees to give their suggestions or express their complaints directly to him confidentially, thus – skipping the Chain.

In the Mamasapano incident, the Court issued Warrants of Arrest and asked the SAF policemen to serve the warrants, in aid of Justice Administration. Prosecutors and Courts make use of State witnesses to strengthen the cases also in aid of Justice Administration. Congress relies on resource persons or experts in their investigations, in aid of Legislation. 

Let me reduce this thing to absurdity (reduction ad absurdum). The cause of the cause is the cause of the final effect (causa causae est causa causati).

If there were no warrants of arrest to serve, the SAF policemen would not have gone there and have not been “massacred”. Is the Court ultimately responsible”?

If BBL became law, Muslim courts would issue warrants, Muslim policemen would serve them and no “massacre’” would occur. Is Congress ultimately responsible?

President Aquino displayed bold leadership and daring to get the SAF to serve and execute a Court Order for a national and global cause. The Senate Report itself recognizes his commitment to the peace process that even former President Ramos supports.  

There is a need for the Rule of Law, Justice and Peace to prevail in the Muslim region. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law) are attempts to fulfill this need. PNoy and the Executive branch have done their jobs.

Senators and Congressmen, do yours! Blaming PNoy would get you and us nowhere! Amend it if you must but pass a constitutionally acceptable BBL that would guide the destiny of our Muslim brothers and our nation!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crowdfunding Kickstarter for Craft Kombucha

Raising money is on top of the list of the greatest barriers of starting a business, as most polls and studies show.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that at any given time, about 27 million US businesses are in need of capital and that lack of capital is the main reason why 50% of new businesses fail within their first five-years of operation. According to Peter Diamandis and Steve Kotler in their book, BOLD, “despite the clear need, 23 percent of the companies are so daunted by the prospect of raising money that they don’t even try, while another 51 percent get turned down for their effort.”

This is now changing. Available and accessible are new sources of funding that creative and aggressive entrepreneurs can tap. The tool in tapping is Crowdfunding. It allows you “to mine the world with like-minded individuals and fast track passion project like never before.”

Diamandis and Kotler also report that in less than seven years, crowdfunding has become a significant economic engine. They say that there are now more than 700 crowdfunding sites online today. It is expected to double in a few years. “Globally, the total funds raised have followed an exponential curve from $530 million in 2009 to $1.5 billion in 2011 to $2.7 billion in 2012. By 2015, experts predict a $15 billion crowdfunding market, which with the passing of the JOBS Act and the addition of equity crowdfunding to the scene could become an incredible $300 billion marketplace over the coming years.”

The four known types of crowdfunding are Debt, Equity, Donation, and Reward or incentive. We all know about Debt – asking the crowd for a loan to be paid back with interest. We also know about Equity where investors are asked to provide cash in exchange for stocks. Donation is the digital version for charity where donors get little beyond gratitude and a receipt to claim on their taxes.

The type that interests me most is the Reward or incentive system. A model for this type of Crowdfunding is the Kickstarter method.

My first exposure to Kickstarter was from consumer electronic firms who were launching their new technology products. Some were physically displayed and demoed in the International CES held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. Those who needed funding launched a Kickstarter campaign as they issued press releases to columnists, bloggers, and members of the media like me.

I was not surprised when I found out that my eldest daughter, Tanya decided to do a Kickstarter campaign for her kombucha business. Feeling a greater demand for her popular Craft Kombucha products, she needed funding to expand and accelerate production to meet the growing market. Of course, she is also lucky that her brother-in-law Jason Myles Goss (baby sister Traci’s husband) works for Kickstarter at the headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

The Craft Kombucha Kickstarter campaign is still to be launched on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Although I got a copy of their video, which I uploaded on Facebook, I have not been able to get the details of the launch. The rewards or incentives for donating should be of great interest to most of the people – in the community, the loyal customers, friends, relatives and even to those who love dogs.

 Handmade wool felt tote bag with faux leather
(One of the rewards)
I know that some of the rewards are quite rare, unique, exclusive, limited, and authentic to the Craft Kombucha campaign.

The financial target is not that high. But achieving or even surpassing it would be good.  But its success would inspire other members of the community – either physical or online, to come forward with their innovative ideas knowing that there is always the Kickstarter as a tool for sourcing and mining a passionate and supportive crowd for funding.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Selma, Sacrifices, Suffrage, Supreme Court

The day I arrived in the United States for the first time, I was a 16-year old Filipino boy fulfilling a dream come true. It was the same day when Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his now immortal “I Have a Dream” Speech.

Amongst the company of teenage-dreamers from all over the world, we gathered at the beautiful campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  We were brought here to experience living in the largest and freest democracy in the world.

Men of vision, dreams and idealism led America. Young, smart, and charismatic, President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy were displaying a rare kind of leadership that touched the hearts and minds of both the old and new generation not only in America but also the free world.

Confident and proud of the democratic values that America represented, young scholars and leaders worldwide like us were invited to learn, live, and love these values so that they be shared and embraced in our respective homelands.

After a tumultuous historical year, I left America full of unforgettable memories, convinced more than ever that it was a model for democracy.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment was law. It said,

 The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Indeed, the right to vote is a cornerstone of democratic governance and a fundamental element of citizenship.  This link between democracy and the electoral process is in fact captured in Article 21(3) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or equivalent free voting procedures.”

To show that the United Nations is really committed to this principle, it was reported, “Over the last 20 years, the United Nations has provided electoral assistance to more than 110 Member States and/or territories that have requested support.”

As democracy spreads, so has the role of elections as the means to establish legitimate government. Putting its money where its mouth is, the UN allocated US$1.2 billion for this electoral assistance project.

The United States of America continues to take the lead in the fight for the democratization of countries in governing legitimately and effectively. I saw this as an exchange student during the tenure of John F. Kennedy.  Thousands of Americans had in fact sacrificed their lives in so many wars for this cause. This seems to continue even to this day.

In 1870, the right to vote was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  On July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.  Yet, despite these guarantees, many African Americans were still prevented from voting.

Local organizations in Selma, Alabama joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) to challenge these restrictions and get Alabamans to register to vote.  Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership lent their full support.

It culminated with a march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery, the “Bloody Sunday”, and ultimately to the passage of the Voting Rights Acts of 1965. That was about 100 years after the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964” gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength.”

The day the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in a 5-4 ruling in 2012 was a sad day for the advocates of the right of suffrage.

“The Supreme Court has effectively gutted one of the nation's most important and effective civil rights laws,” Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. “Minority voters in places with a record of discrimination are now at greater risk of being disenfranchised than they have been in decades. Today's decision is a blow to democracy. Jurisdictions will be able to enact policies which prevent minorities from voting, and the only recourse these citizens will have will be expensive and time-consuming litigation.”

Is America still a model for democracy guaranteeing its citizens the right to choose those who would govern? President Obama himself in his speech in Selma last Sunday reveals the stunning reality: “Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across the country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.”

Lent is currently celebrated and observed in Christian churches. Part of the ritual is “fasting” as people pursue paths of life that they value. As one Nobel Economist pointed out, the difference between starving and fasting is the existence of “freedom to choose.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

SEE (SAF, Economy, EDSA) the Wisdom in Numbers

Much has been said about the clash between the PNP’s SAF and the Muslim rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Mostly getting the attention are the numbers revealed to tell the stories.

What the press plays is that 44 SAF policemen were “massacred”. Yet, upon discernment, they really fought valiantly. That is why they were hailed as heroes and awarded medals of valor and bravery. They did not die in vain. To say otherwise would be an insult to their beings and to their souls.

The SAF commandos were sent to Mamasapano, Maguindanao with the following mission:

1.                    Execute a Court Order;
2.                    Obey an Executive/Superior’s Order;
3.                    Enforce a Warrant of Arrest;
4.                    Fulfill a Secret Police Mission;
5.                    Render Justice – for the murder, frustrated and attempted murders         committed against several human beings
6.                    Stop the training of terrorists in bomb making;
7.                    Prevent the killing of hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos and other     nationalities worldwide; and
8.                    Participate in the global war against terrorism with Presidential blessing.

Of the 8, they accomplished 7 and ¾ or 97%. Terrorist Marwan who carries in his head a reward of $6 million was killed while Usman whose capture would have netted $2 million was wounded but he escaped. (6/6+2 = ¾)

By enlightened discernment, the killing of Marwan rendered justice to the victims of his atrocities which include murder, frustrated murder, and attempted murder. By taking him out, hundreds if not thousands more would no longer be killed by his bombs or by those trained by him to make bombs.

We are now finding out that there were 392 SAF commandos who participated in this mission. They were divided into groups. According to DILG Mar Roxas, the 348 SAF who survived including the 12 wounded returned and were all accounted for.

Initial reports from the Board of Inquiry (BOI) reveal that there were actually 800 Muslim rebels who joined the prey. According to the SAF Commander General Napeñas as reported by his men, they actually killed 250 Muslim rebels – not just 18 rebels. While there could be a body count with respect to the SAF commandos, the bodies of the rebels were stashed away by their comrades or relatives who are from Mamasapano.

Clash survivors Supt Raymond Train and PO2 Christopher Lalan made the following claims:

1.             Lalan: SAF troopers took down at least 11 Muslim rebels from his  company; 
2.             Train was able to shoot down between 25 to 30 attackers;
3.             Train: “It is also safe to say that the entire Assault Force, the 84th Company was able to shoot down at least 150 of the enemies.
4.             The 84th and 55th Company that took part in Oplan Exodus has two and six snipers, respectively, under their helm. For sure, these highly trained snipers could have shot down on the average of at least 20 each from the attackers.

Forty-four (44) out of 392 or about 11% of SAF Policemen died.  That does not look like a “massacre” to my barber. Two hundred and fifty (250) out of 800 or about 31% of the Muslim rebels were killed. That does not look like a victory either.

EDSA Numbers

PNoy haters and naysayers are taking advantage of this tragic event to demand his resignation.

Again, there is wisdom in the numbers and they are very telling.

Five (5) out of 131 or 4% of Bishops demand that PNoy resign. One hundred Twenty and Six (126) out of 131 or 96% of the Bishops led by Cardinal Tagle and CBCP President Archbishop Villegas refuse to support the demand.

The Anti-PNoy group tried to do an EDSA a la 1986 People Power. The EDSA 1986 generated at least 1.6 million participants to oust Marcos. The EDSA 2015 generated 600 demonstrators to oust PNoy. There were more policemen to keep things in order.

Economic Numbers
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AYEs Have It! This is what I put in my status update on FACEBOOK every time I see or read something positive about the Philippines especially if it is economic in nature. Reading the news items reflect economic numbers:

1.            PH is world’s 2nd fastest growing economy in 2015 – Bloomberg
2.            World Bank hails Philippines as next Asia “miracle”. No more the sick               man of Asia;
3.             PH seen posting trade surplus in 2015; first time in two decades;
4.             January inflation slows down to 2.4%;
5.             IMF Chief lauds PH: It is the only nation upgraded. (Economic growth forecast);
6.             Moody’s upgrades PH credit rating to BAA2 or 2 notches above “junk”;
7.             Canada names PH country of focus for country’s actions for inclusive and sustainable growth;
8.             The Philippines has the most favorable growth rate in Southeast Asia in the next 5 years – OECD;
9.             PH to manufacture APPLE products, transfer from China;
10.          Good News for PH, Bad News for India. Call Centers are                                                   transferring from India to the Philippines.
11.          PH economy to grow as one of the world’s fastest in 2014 –                                             Moody’s Analytics;
12.          Growth of Tourism, Foreign Investments, Domestic Investments                                     and strong stance against Corruption by PNoy – CNN interview                                      with Lance Gokongwei – President & CEO of J Summit Holdings.
13.          Peace Deal to boost PH Credit rating – Moody’s investors Service;
14.          PH economy to double in next decade: think tank;
15.          JP Morgan hikes PH economic growth forecast;


The Peace Deal with the MILF boosted our country’s credit rating according to Moody’s Investors Service. The only roadblock to the country’s economic growth is the violence in Mindanao according to Forbes Magazine.

Let peace prevail in Muslim Mindanao. Localize governance. Localize policing. Let there be Rule of law – not by, of, and from the barrel of the gun; not by bullet but by ballot. Localize the administration of justice. Let there be a judicial system that respects and protects the civil rights of the Bangsamoro citizens.

Let there be a law that gives our brother Muslims real and effective local governance that is not inconsistent with the Philippine Constitution.

Pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).