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BY AMBETH OCAMPO: SHINING MOMENT IN LIVING HISTORY


FEBRUARY 24 -Contrary to popular belief built by textbooks and reinforced by school quiz bees, history is not just about who, what, where, when, and how, but more about why. It is the last question that makes history interesting and provides historians with a career, or at least a reason for being. Laymen who see historians debating the whys in the national narrative often ask why history is confused and confusing, remembering textbook history that has definite answers, unlike higher-level history that is continually contested by various voices, interests, and points of view. This weekend, the 31st anniversary of Edsa 1986 comes with a debate on the commemoration of a historic event. The more important question is how that event should be remembered, since the magic has faded over time and been made painful when seen with hindsight and the disappointment over broken promises and lost opportunities. Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, and Jaime Cardinal Sin are now history, but the two men that triggered Edsa 1986—Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos—are still around to answer questions about the legacy of People Power. Ramos, who writes a newspaper column that often sounds like a Sunday homily, recently called on people who lived through Edsa 1986 to remember and to impart to those born after it—Gen X and millennials—what it was all about: READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Aguirre’s gobbledygook


FEBRUARY 24 -As we go to press, the breaking news is that Sen. Leila de Lima has been ordered arrested. But what should we make of the Department of Justice’s filing of multiple nonbailable illegal drugs cases against her at the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa? Is it based on something more solid, more credible, than the self-serving testimony of convicted drug lords accorded special treatment and paraded in public? Despite Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s hopeful remarks about cooperation with the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the joint resolution that his prosecutor general approved on Feb. 14 does not offer any hard evidence of a paper or electronic trail. In lieu of evidence, we get words. Lots of words. Incomprehensible words. We read: “Far from debate, illegal use of drugs and dependency distort the normal perception capacities and functions of the brain.” Apparently, so does legal hackwork in Aguirre’s jurisdiction. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Economic repercussions


FEBRUARY 27 -If President Duterte and his officials think their controversial actions and pronouncements here have no serious repercussions on the Philippines’ economic relations with other countries, they should think again. We’re talking of things like the daily murders resulting from the administration’s war on drugs, the killing of a South Korean businessman inside the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City, the arrest of a senator critical of Mr. Duterte, and the move in Congress to revive the death penalty, among others. Last week, Britain and the European Union warned that the political controversies in the Philippines were turning off some members of the European business community. Two firms—one in information technology and the other in manufacturing—disclosed their plans to the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) as early as the latter part of 2016. They were thinking of doubling their investment, but this was around the time when Mr. Duterte insulted members of the international community, including the European Union, for criticizing his administration’s bloody war on drugs. Their headquarters in Europe then decided to put their expansion plans on hold. There was also another company that wanted to increase its investments, but instead decided to expand its operations in Vietnam rather than here. Those expansion plans would have added 5,000 more jobs in the country. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Oscar F. Tan - Do the charges against De Lima make sense?


FEBRUARY 27 -By: Oscar Franklin Tan
Singapore—Pundits lambasted the gobbledygook and incomprehensible words in the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution recommending charges against Sen. Leila de Lima. But the bombastic language was on the first page only of a 52-page resolution. Before crying political persecution, one might refute the other 51 pages claiming De Lima enlisted inmates in the New Bilibid Prison, our main penitentiary, to sell drugs to finance her senatorial campaign. De Lima surrendered last Friday, Feb. 24. Dramatically, she and the police serving a judge’s warrant of arrest spent the night at the Senate building. I know that the police first went to her house that night. I have seen her mug shots. I know that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked “Sino ang gusto niyong isunod? (Who do you want next?)” at a Luneta rally last Saturday. That De Lima reacted to her arrest: “The P-Noy admin never engaged in any act of harassment or of persecution.” But why do we discuss everything but why a judge issued the warrant? The British Broadcasting Corp. reported De Lima was “arrested on drug trafficking charges” and “accused of receiving money from detained drug lords.” The New York Times reported: “She took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.” READ MORE...


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Shining moment in living history


By: Ambeth R. Ocampo

MANILA, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 (INQUIRER) By: Ambeth R. Ocampo - @inquirerdotnet February 24, 2017 - Contrary to popular belief built by textbooks and reinforced by school quiz bees, history is not just about who, what, where, when, and how, but more about why. It is the last question that makes history interesting and provides historians with a career, or at least a reason for being. Laymen who see historians debating the whys in the national narrative often ask why history is confused and confusing, remembering textbook history that has definite answers, unlike higher-level history that is continually contested by various voices, interests, and points of view.

This weekend, the 31st anniversary of Edsa 1986 comes with a debate on the commemoration of a historic event. The more important question is how that event should be remembered, since the magic has faded over time and been made painful when seen with hindsight and the disappointment over broken promises and lost opportunities. Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, and Jaime Cardinal Sin are now history, but the two men that triggered Edsa 1986—Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos—are still around to answer questions about the legacy of People Power.

Ramos, who writes a newspaper column that often sounds like a Sunday homily, recently called on people who lived through Edsa 1986 to remember and to impart to those born after it—Gen X and millennials—what it was all about:

READ MORE...

“The greatest loss to our posterity would be our failure to impart the values of transcendent events of our nation-building to those who now bear the torch of national leadership and our younger generations. For us present-day Filipinos, therefore, our first duty to our beloved Philippines is not to take our freedom for granted, but to defend our liberties against any tyrant who comes around. Our second duty is to plan and act as one national team to reduce poverty, advance our economy, reinforce our democratic institutions, and insure the nation’s enduring peace and sustainable development, especially in Mindanao.”

Ramos is but a voice in the social media wilderness now, at most a relic of a past era brought out each year on Feb. 25 to jump in front of the gates of Camp Crame. Perhaps it is time to go beyond the factual and chronological to make the narrative more engaging or sensible for a new generation.

History can be dates and events off a calendar to lull you to sleep, or make you think. Take, for example, Marcos and his penchant for the number 7. We all know that although the declaration of martial law is dated Sept. 21, 1972, it was actually implemented on Sept. 23. Marcos often made important decisions or signed state papers on dates with 7 or divisible by 7. He won the party nomination to run for president in 1965 by 777 votes, and in his last battle, the snap election of 1986, he set the polls on Feb. 7. If things had gone as planned, he was to assume office on Feb. 25, the day he actually left Malacañang after 21 years in office. Once you have caught the interest of the student, then you detail the turn of events and show how numerology could not prevent Edsa 1986.

Unlike other national holidays organized by the national government, such as Independence Day on June 12 or Rizal Day on Dec. 30, the prime mover for the Edsa commemoration used to be the Edsa People Power Commission established by an executive order of President Joseph Estrada in 1999, since watered down under the second Aquino administration. Without a national organizing committee and a budget, Edsa may or may not be commemorated in a manner considered appropriate by those who risked their lives for it.

Holidays are established to give people time to remember and commemorate, but in actual practice this does not happen because the day off is used for other things, like doing the laundry or strolling in the mall. This weekend we should remember not just Edsa 1986 but also Edsa 2 in 2001 and the failed Edsa 3 a few months later. Edsa 1986 was a shining moment in living history that showed Filipinos uniting for a common cause. Could we have Edsa 4? Should we have Edsa 4? Or do we just relegate Edsa 1986 to the proverbial dustbin of history?


EDITORIAL - Aguirre’s gobbledygook Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:28 AM February 24, 2017


As we go to press, the breaking news is that Sen. Leila de Lima has been ordered arrested. But what should we make of the Department of Justice’s filing of multiple nonbailable illegal drugs cases against her at the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa? Is it based on something more solid, more credible, than the self-serving testimony of convicted drug lords accorded special treatment and paraded in public?

Despite Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s hopeful remarks about cooperation with the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the joint resolution that his prosecutor general approved on Feb. 14 does not offer any hard evidence of a paper or electronic trail. In lieu of evidence, we get words. Lots of words.

Incomprehensible words.

We read: “Far from debate, illegal use of drugs and dependency distort the normal perception capacities and functions of the brain.” Apparently, so does legal hackwork in Aguirre’s jurisdiction.

READ MORE...

Consider this stunning turn of phrase: “Even the most ideological leader in spiritual realm can be manipulative by means of the pervasive fallacy of power and indulged in onslaught drugs and corruption issues.”

Set aside the obvious mistakes in style or usage (the lack of the article “the” before “spiritual realm,” the use of “manipulative” instead of “manipulated,” the missing “of” after “onslaught”); we understand that in the rush to place De Lima behind bars there is simply no time to proofread. The clash in concepts, however, is breathtaking. What does “the most ideological leader in spiritual realm” mean? When Karl Marx described religion as the opiate of the masses, could he have possibly foreseen this mishmash of categories?

And this leader can be manipulated, not by the power of fallacy, but by the “pervasive fallacy of power”? Surely that means that the ideological or spiritual leader has been deceived by the powers that be, such as, let’s see, the Department of Justice. That’s what it means, right—at least if we base our comprehension, however tenuously, on the words actually used.

Perhaps we are making too much of the Aguirre lawyers’ poor prose. But writing requires thinking, and legal writing requires some familiarity with the law. What are we to make of this head turner of a passage? “Drug traders and consumers resort to felonious acts in pursuit of their dubious drug related activities.” Again, words are being abused, for sheer lack of thought. Drug traders and consumers do not resort to felonious acts, for the simple reason that drug trade and drug consumption are, by definition under the law, already felonies. This is like saying “Kidnappers resort to kidnapping in pursuit of their dubious kidnapping activities.”

In the rush to see President Duterte’s chief critic behind bars, the President’s men in the Department of Justice have gone Orwellian: using prefabricated language as a substitute for thought, in order to hide the indefensible.

There are other whoppers in the joint resolution, including this attempt to deflect De Lima’s accusation of bias—in a sentence marked by a precipitously dangling modifier and unapologetically melodramatic prose: “Stand charged and bruised beyond redemption by popular opinion, the issue of fraternity affiliation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and the chairman, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong, became a lame excuse to insist on the inhibition of the Panel of Prosecutors … to afford impunity.” The real subject of that sentence is De Lima (she is the one who stands charged), but grammatically she is not even in it.

But as constructed by Aguirre’s legal writers, it seems that “the issue of fraternity affiliation” of the three lawyers, the President and the justice secretary is the subject that is “bruised beyond redemption.” Do they know something we don’t?


Economic repercussions Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:32 AM February 27, 2017

If President Duterte and his officials think their controversial actions and pronouncements here have no serious repercussions on the Philippines’ economic relations with other countries, they should think again. We’re talking of things like the daily murders resulting from the administration’s war on drugs, the killing of a South Korean businessman inside the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City, the arrest of a senator critical of Mr. Duterte, and the move in Congress to revive the death penalty, among others.

Last week, Britain and the European Union warned that the political controversies in the Philippines were turning off some members of the European business community. Two firms—one in information technology and the other in manufacturing—disclosed their plans to the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) as early as the latter part of 2016. They were thinking of doubling their investment, but this was around the time when Mr. Duterte insulted members of the international community, including the European Union, for criticizing his administration’s bloody war on drugs. Their headquarters in Europe then decided to put their expansion plans on hold. There was also another company that wanted to increase its investments, but instead decided to expand its operations in Vietnam rather than here. Those expansion plans would have added 5,000 more jobs in the country.

READ MORE...

ECCP president Guenter Taus already warned late last year that the growing number of deaths in the administration’s war on drugs had created a sense of uncertainty among European investors. This war, with the body count now exceeding 7,000, has been seen by some investors as a distraction to an otherwise promising growth story of the Philippine economy.

The British business community here has also expressed its concern that a Philippine government willing to breach an international agreement to pass the death penalty would find it “much easier to walk away from a commercial treaty.” British Ambassador Asif Ahmad was referring to moves in Congress to revive the death penalty, which was abolished in 2006.

Ahmad told a media briefing that British investors were likewise raising questions regarding the state of Philippine politics following the death toll in the administration’s bloody war on drugs.

On top of this, the Philippines also risks losing its advantage of being able to export 6,274 products to the European Union at zero tariff because of its eligibility to the Generalized System of Preference Plus. This economic benefit is conditional to the government’s compliance with key international covenants, specifically the ratification and effective implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, environment and governance principles.

The European Union is one of the Philippines’ most important trading partners. Two-way trade in 2015 amounted to 12.9 billion euros, or 11 percent of the total, making it the Philippines’ fourth-biggest trading partner. In terms of trade, the European Union is the Philippines’ third-largest market, with exports of 5.7 billion euros in 2015. It is a big investor in the Philippines, with 300.16 million euros in foreign direct investment in 2015.

The Philippines has been touted as one of the economic bright spots on the planet given its robust consumer base that is being fueled by the billions of dollars sent home by overseas Filipino workers or earned by the business process outsourcing sector. But there is danger that the political controversies hounding the Duterte administration will impact negatively on the economy, particularly on investment inflow. It’s the series of official statements and political events over the past few months that is causing anxiety outside the country. As ECCP executive director Florian Gottein put it, there is clearly an air of uncertainty.

Capitalists can live with risks, but uncertainty is something difficult to include in business plans.


Do the charges against De Lima make sense? By: Oscar Franklin Tan - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:26 AM February 27, 2017


By: Oscar Franklin Tan

Singapore—Pundits lambasted the gobbledygook and incomprehensible words in the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution recommending charges against Sen. Leila de Lima. But the bombastic language was on the first page only of a 52-page resolution. Before crying political persecution, one might refute the other 51 pages claiming De Lima enlisted inmates in the New Bilibid Prison, our main penitentiary, to sell drugs to finance her senatorial campaign.

De Lima surrendered last Friday, Feb. 24. Dramatically, she and the police serving a judge’s warrant of arrest spent the night at the Senate building.

I know that the police first went to her house that night. I have seen her mug shots.

I know that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre asked “Sino ang gusto niyong isunod? (Who do you want next?)” at a Luneta rally last Saturday. That De Lima reacted to her arrest: “The P-Noy admin never engaged in any act of harassment or of persecution.”

But why do we discuss everything but why a judge issued the warrant?

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported De Lima was “arrested on drug trafficking charges” and “accused of receiving money from detained drug lords.”

The New York Times reported: “She took bribes from imprisoned drug traffickers.”

READ MORE...

When the DOJ resolution was released last Feb. 21, Inquirer judiciary reporter Tetch Torres Tupas did better by painstakingly photographing the 52 pages and uploading them to Inquirer.net.

Tupas highlighted that De Lima was charged under the Dangerous Drugs Act. De Lima argues she should be investigated by the Ombudsman, not the DOJ, and charged before the Sandiganbayan, not a trial court.

But the DOJ’s claimed basis exists.

The 2013 Supreme Court decision in Busuego vs Ombudsman Mindanao stated: “(the DOJ) is not precluded from conducting any investigation of cases against public officers… but if the cases fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the respondent Ombudsman may, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction, take over at any stage.”

The Sandiganbayan has “exclusive original jurisdiction” over corruption charges involving public officials and charges “in relation to their office.” The Ombudsman investigates these.

The DOJ even cites a 2012 agreement between then Justice Secretary De Lima and the Ombudsman on this point.

Some claim the charges are based solely on the testimony of Bilibid inmates offered immunity from prosecution.

However, a key witness was Supt. Benjamin Magalong, director of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

In May 2014, he claims he proposed to De Lima that the CIDG raid Bilibid and neutralize the drug trade inside. He showed her photos of drug lords’ luxurious kubol. He learned in December that the raid proceeded without the CIDG.

Further, immunity was recommended by the House of Representatives, after inmates testified there.

But should charges be framed as corruption, not drug trafficking, charges?

The DOJ resolution claims that in February 2013, Commando gang leader Jaybee Sebastian asked other Bilibid leaders to, for protection, raise money for De Lima’s senatorial campaign by selling drugs inside and outside Bilibid. It alleges how De Lima’s former driver Ronnie Dayan and other bagmen allegedly received sums of P50,000 to P5 million.

The resolution cites specific bank account numbers, alleged meetings between De Lima and payors, and how De Lima allegedly bought groceries for Dayan and Dayan kept lewd videos of her in his phone.

I would prefer to hear more concrete criticism of the charges than bad English and political vendetta.

We sorely need to elevate how we debate law. If all else fails, we should, like Tupas, upload key documents to empower citizens to fact-check lawyers.

There can be no genuine freedom of information when a Filipino can more easily find legal documents explaining why US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban was blocked by judges than the charges against De Lima.

Incidentally, my request filed at foi.gov.ph last Feb. 16 for the solicitor general’s recommendation that a court acquit Janet Napoles remains pending.


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