Supreme Court ‘Aiding And Abetting’ Martial Law In Mindanao?

IMG_2457Okay, okay. Before you start reacting, let me just say that I’m being sarcastic. But let me explain my premise.

Many of us know that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao following the Marawi City siege has been  — to the letter — in according with the 1987 Constitution.  As required by law, Duterte submitted his report to Congress within the 48-hour period as required by law.

It behooves upon Congress to review the basis for Martial Law and is mandated to vote jointly to invalidate the declaration if it so sees fit.  Despite criticism on how Congress went through this process, it was, nevertheless also in accordance with the Constitution.  Both houses of Congress passed resolutions practically supporting Duterte’s action.  The lawmakers did not need to meet in joint session to vote.  They didn’t have anything to vote on because there was not enough opposition to invalidate the declaration.

Now, let’s turn to the Supreme Court.  Under the same Constitution, the high tribunal has the power to review the Martial Law declaration, the Congress’ action notwithstanding.

Several petitions – by Edcel Lagman, et. al.,  were filed before the Court to render its opinion on the factual basis of Martial Law.  It was to render a decision within 30 days from the filing of the petitions.

The Court has announced that it will vote on the petition on July 4. While the date is well within the 30-day period in which it was to render a decision, it is, nevertheless 42 days since Martial Law was declared.  Let me say that again — 42 of the 60 days prescribed by law.

So granting that the high court votes to declare Martial Law in Mindanao illegal, Duterte’s declaration would already have survived a greater portion of that 60-day period.

And as many law experts will say, the court’s ruling will apply only to this current state of Martial Law in Mindanao.

Duterte could always issue a new, separate proclamation.  And that means, the 60-day period resets and a new round of process and petitions kicks in.

Sometimes, constitutional safeguards are anything but…

 

 

Yellow Journalism Not A Filipino Invention

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The fake headline by the Inquirer

The term “yellow journalism” was neither coined by pro-Duterte folks nor invented by Liberal Party-leaning news organizations like Rappler, Inquirer, ABS-CBN or GMA News.  It existed since the late 19th century.

The U.S. State Department’s Office of the Historian has this entry on its website:

Yellow journalism was a style of newspaper reporting that emphasized sensationalism over facts. During its heyday in the late 19th century it was one of many factors that helped push the United States and Spain into war in Cuba and the Philippines, leading to the acquisition of overseas territory by the United States.

The term originated in the competition over the New York City newspaper market between major newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. At first, yellow journalism had nothing to do with reporting, but instead derived from a popular cartoon strip about life in New York’s slums called Hogan’s Alley, drawn by Richard F. Outcault. Published in color by Pulitzer’s New York World, the comic’s most well-known character came to be known as the Yellow Kid, and his popularity accounted in no small part for a tremendous increase in sales of the World. In 1896, in an effort to boost sales of his New York Journal, Hearst hired Outcault away from Pulitzer, launching a fierce bidding war between the two publishers over the cartoonist. Hearst ultimately won this battle, but Pulitzer refused to give in and hired a new cartoonist to continue drawing the cartoon for his paper. This battle over the Yellow Kid and a greater market share gave rise to the term yellow journalism.

But what’s very interesting is how accurately the original concept of yellow journalism reflects what we are seeing with biased news sources in the Philippines: sensationalism over facts.

Their sensationalism goes both ways:  they sensationalize anything, albeit negatively, about President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration.  On the other hand, they also sensationalize — positively of course — even the most stupid of actions or pronouncements by their politicians of choice and putting them on a pedestal as if they were the heroes and heroines (or for that matter, the politically-persecuted) in what’s going on in the country today.

Not only that: they invent their own “facts.”  We all know how the 7, 000 or whatever number of drug-related killings came about before it was picked up by the international media as if it was  the truth and nothing but the truth.

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Rappler’s yellow-tinted “investigative report”

And then, there’s the “cartoon” part.  We can only laugh out loud and be entertained whenever the biased media come up with their stories under the guise of “investigative journalism.”  Are you listening, Pia Rañada, Rappler?

Ironically, these “legitimate” news sources collude with yellow politicians in trying to discredit citizen journalists and social media bloggers when they themselves are guilty of spreading fake news and fake photographs.  Are you listening, Inquirer?

So, Politikal Pinoy thinks that instead of  proposing legislation to penalize fake news, Senator Joel Villanueva (himself tagged by the Graft Court of using his DAP funds to support fake pork barrel projects), should author a bill to outlaw yellow journalism!

 

 

Why Leni Robredo Is Doing It All Wrong

IMG_2314Unless the Supreme Court decides in favor of Bongbong Marcos in the much-delayed electoral protest for the vice presidency, Leni Robredo is undisputedly just a breath away from being president.  Even Duterte understands that.

But given the political history of the Philippines — especially post-Marcos era — the Filipino people have proven that they have the power to banish a president or make him or her extremely unpopular and consequently, ineffective as a leader.

Despite being from the opposition, Robredo had her chance to earn the people’s affection and trust. No less than Duterte gave her the opportunity to be part of his team by giving her a position in his Cabinet.

But Robredo chose to tread the path of faux leadership, caving in to the whims and dictates of her party mates and the small number of Duterte oppositionists. They duped her into a fantasy role of being “the voice of the opposition.”

From this opposition pedestal, Robredo mimicked the misguided ideas of the likes of Senators De Lima, Trillanes, Hontiveros, Aquino and Drilon. She allowed herself to be controlled by her clueless social media team and the trickling of vested interests both here and abroad.

In effect, she has earned the ire of the people — not just a few but a whopping 91% of the population.  She chose to put down the president in the eyes of the international community.  By doing so, she put down the entire country which she hopes to lead when the opportunity presents itself.  That video message before the United Nations was the last straw.

Now there is a lot of talk about Duterte’s health and whether or not he can finish his term as president. While these are mostly rumors and speculation, the reality is that  no one can discount the possibility of the Office of the President becoming vacant, which means the next in line for succession assumes the presidency.  That would be Robredo.

But if that happens, there will likely be a crisis, given the unpopularity of the Vice President.  The Filipino people whom she has effectively maligned will leave no stone unturned to ensure that her occupancy of Malacañang will be short-lived.

The Filipino people have again and again demonstrated that they will exercise their power to unseat a leader who has gone wayward.  They have the means to do it — constitutionally. Or in the streets.

After all, the Preamble of the Philippine Constitution says it all about who establishes the government.  It’s WE, THE PEOPLE.

 

Why Leni Robredo Should Be Worried About President Duterte’s Health

IMG_2314.JPGSome Filipinos — mostly those who support Leni Robredo and the Opposition party — have expressed their concern about the non-public appearance of Rodrigo Duterte in recent days, speculating that the President may be having some serious health issues.

In his usual brilliant response, Duterte said: “What’s your problem? We have a Vice President!”

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why Leni Robredo should be worried.

That anti-Duterte folks are concerned about the president’s health and possible incapacity or death means one thing and one thing only: they are worried that Robredo becomes President.

Because why else would they make so much noise about Duterte’s health when the direct result of the president’s incapacity or death means the rise to power of their protége, Leni Robredo?

The Office of the Vice President should take that as the lack of confidence in the ability and qualification of Robredo to become President.

We see no other reason for the yellows to be making such a big deal about a few days of Duterte being missing from public view.

Ms. Robredo, be worried. Very worried.

 

FASO Should Come Clean Regarding VP Leni Robredo’s L.A. Trip

IMG_2308It was supposed to be night focused on music.  Like most gala events, it was meant to raise funds to help support the mission of FASO — the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra.

But alas, the night of glitter turned into a night of clutter, muddled by the introduction of politics into the event.

From all indications, Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo wasn’t part of the original program.  Initial posters and invitations didn’t bear her name as guest of honor.  While some paying members of the Foundation may have been pleased to be in the company of, or have a selfie with Robredo, I cannot imagine that there were not a few who felt they were misled, or even duped.

Back in the Philippines, the talk of the town is: who paid for Robredo’s travel to Los Angeles to attend the gala? (Nevermind that the timing was awkward: Marawi City was still reeling from the terrorist siege, prompting President Duterte to declare Martial Law in Mindanao. Nevermind that Robredo herself had been appealing for donations to help the victims of the siege.)

IMG_2280It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to know that Filipino taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for this travel that had nothing to do with Robredo’s official duties.  We can only assume that someone else paid for the travel and related expenses. But of course, we won’t know that until the Office of the Vice President releases the information to the public.  OVP has declined to release information of Robredo’s several foreign trips, despite the existence of the Freedom of Information (FOI) act.

So, did FASO pay for the travel costs?

For 25 years, Politikal Pinoy has managed 501 (c)(3) or nonprofit organizations in California.  FASO is that type of organization.

As a public charity, it is required by law to disclose financial information to its members and the general public upon request.

Nonprofit organizations, especially a foundation like FASO whose function is primarily to raise funds to promote its mission, also usually make public their independent audits (assuming they perform them) and their annual tax returns.

It would be easy to find out if any of Robredo’s expenses were covered by FASO.  But why wait for the next audit or tax filing (which would not be until next year) before the question at hand can be answered?

FASO should voluntarily go public about the financials of this gala event — and soon.

Because the bottom line is, if FASO didn’t pay for Leni’s trip, then who did?

That’s a different ball game altogether.

The Double Standard When It Comes To Duterte And Robredo

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When the Marawi terrorist siege first broke, the first reaction of the opposition was to question why President Duterte was in Russia.  As if he knew what was going to happen before he left for his state visit.  Nevertheless, he cut his visit short so he could deal with the situation in Mindanao.

When Duterte was absent from the Independence Day ceremonial rites at Luneta, the opposition rumormongers and intrigue warriors didn’t waste time in criticizing the president and went as far as manufacturing rumors, not the least of which was that the president was “in a coma,” or was dealing with some very serious life and death issue.

But when VP Leni Robredo was vacationing in the U.S. while a strong typhoon was devastating her own hometown, the opposition had no problem giving her a pass when she said she could not get a differently-scheduled return flight to the Philippines.

Now, while her supporters are being extremely critical of Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao because of the Marawi siege, they are again extremely quiet  — and forgiving I might say — about the fact that Robredo is now in Southern California as a guest of honor in some symphony gala.

Sure, it’s a personal appearance that’s long been scheduled.  So who cares if a city in Mindanao is now in ruins because of some terrorist attack, or if citizens are now facing some crisis as a result of evacuations from their beleaguered city.

And Robredo has the gall to appeal for donations for the relief of the Marawi siege victims?  Yeah, it’s easy to initiate a public relations campaign that would show that she is concerned about the victims — despite the fact that she and her office are practically encroaching on the programs and responsibilities of the appropriate government agencies.

So while Marawi City burns and deals with ruins, while residents flee their homes, Robredo is in California, perhaps listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and wining and dining with FilAms who still believe that she is the heir apparent to the Philippine presidency.

And of course, the yellow media will be as equally silent about the repercussions of this Robredo junket as the her well-funded propaganda machine.

The 650 Million-Peso Question On The New Philippine Tourism Promo Video

IMG_2210Was it or was it not? That is the question.

It didn’t take very long after the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DoT) unveiled its new promo video before charges of plagiarism were hurled against the advertising agency that won a P650 Million contract to help market the Philippines to the world.

Netizens and others immediately noticed the uncanny similarity between the video and a previously-released South African tourism promo.  Both featured a blind man experiencing the sights and sounds of either country.

Initially, the DoT denied that the new video was copied from South Africa, arguing that the Philippine version was based on a real-life experience of a Japanese man who now lives in the country.

But then, almost immediately, thereafter, the DoT announced that it was ending its contract with the ad agency, McCann Worldgroup Philippines.

If DoT believed that the ad agency did not plagiarize or copy the South African video, then why would it terminate the contract?

So now, many questions have arisen that the DoT needs to answer, including its bidding process in awarding contracts, and whether or not the ad agency was (or will be) paid for the controversial promo video which I would assume, will no longer be used going forward.

The bottom line is that the funds used to compensate private agencies to help the government promote tourism come from taxpayer money and that a more stringent vetting process should be in place.

But another question that still needs to be answered is whether or not this video controversy has created a dent in the country’s efforts to promote tourism, not to mention the time lapse between now and when the new video is produced and disseminated.

 

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Worst Airport No More Under Duterte?

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During previous Philippine administrations, including NoyNoy Aquino’s, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) – you got that right, it’s named after NoyNoy’s father — has consistently made it to the list of worst airports in the world.

Polls and surveys were not really needed.  Anyone who flew in or out of NAIA has his or her own nightmarish story — from long queues to non-functioning airconditioning, from collapsing ceilings to flooding, and flight delays to (good heavens) the laglag bala scheme — knows the airport experience was far from pleasant or satisfactory.

But that all has changed since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president.

Hell, even the anti-Duterte online news source Rappler acknowledged the big change in the airport as soon as in the first 100 days of the new president.

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Now, even new surveys are missing the mention of NAIA among the world’s worst airports.

A new study compiled by AirHelp, which measured punctuality, quality and service of airports and came up with a list of the world’s top ten airports. No Philippines! No NAIA!

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Do I hear a “Hallelujah?”

Protecting Free Speech In The Crackdown On “Cyber Sedition”

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As an advocate for free speech, I am a little more cautious than many of my social media colleagues in throwing 100% support behind the recent government announcement that it will arrest and file charges against people who spread terrorist propaganda online.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo Salalima describes this as “cyber sedition.”

Sedition, as we know it, is conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of  a state or duly-constituted government.

I agree that under the Philippine Constitution, sedition is a crime that is dealt with through appropriate punishment, no question about it.

Already, it is difficult to prove that someone has committed sedition because actions of people are subject to legal interpretation — or misinterpretation —  and as always, the burden of proof lies in the accuser. (In recent weeks, the PH government has been quick to accuse or implicate people for serious violations of the law, only to fall just short of retraction.)

More so with sedition based on speech.  The line in this case is  more blurry.

First of all, the same constitution that criminalizes sedition also protects free speech. That free speech gives any legal person the right to express opposition or to contradict the position of state authority.

And yes, that includes the declaration of Martial Law, the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, or the use of force to quell what government feels is a threat to the nation’s peace and security.

Someone who opposes Martial Law or questions the legal basis for its imposition should not immediately be accused of inciting to rebellion.

We are still a Democracy and there will always be pros and cons to every issue. Regardless of the majority favoring (or, for that matter, opposing) a policy or action by their government, citizens have the inalienable right to free expression.

“Cyber sedition” is a phrase that we have never encountered before, given the relatively infant stage of the Internet and social media.

Politikal Pinoy therefore hopes that our government treads this new path with utmost care, not only ensuring that any accusation of “cyber sedition” is made with strict and correct interpretation of the law while making sure that people’s free speech are not trampled upon.

Any attempt to silence the opposition does not bode well for a government and a president who has repeatedly assured the citizenry that he will protect people’s right to say things, even if he may not agree with what they say.