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Jul 03

Koko puff

Was in Cebu City from Thursday to Saturday, hence no updates, and have been feeling under the weather since.

There really isn’t much to add to what Ricky Carandang and the Inquirer editorial pointed out, as far as Koko Pimentel’s appearance before the Supreme Court was concerned. Never has a public figure blown himself up so dramatically -and stupidly- and thoroughly:

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Koko Pimentel had the advantage, and threw it away. There is a saying among lawyers that a person who represents himself in a case is a person who has hired a fool for a lawyer.

As Planet Naga put it, he overreached.

An earlier Inquirer editorial had pointed out Zubiri was able to shift attention away from the real issues (Patsada Karajaw reminds us what those are); silly P.R. tricks by the Koko camp (though A Simple Life raises some good points) only strengthens Zubiri. But the issue will keep coming back to haunt Zubiri, as the tart remarks of Antonio Trillanes IV shows (for his constituency -and let’s make it clear that he has a clear one, which has conferred a clear national mandate, while Zubiri, for the next day or two at least, remains a former congressman- gives him clout some may hate, but which will be increasingly difficult to ignore: as The Warrior Lawyer points out, his greatest value lies in being a thorn in the administration’s side). The appearance of the incredible Bedol at the Comelec only serves to underscore how discredited the whole process has become.

Overheard, last night, while having dinner: “Bedol was arrested after going through cataract surgery. Cataracts! And he had a license to carry a gun? A gun! And he had cataracts!” True.

Incidentally, ran into Tourism Secretary Ace Durano on the flight to Cebu: he says he’s focusing on (I believe it’s Northern) Russia as a place from which to attract tourists; he says that part of Russia is doing very, very well because of their mineral wealth; a friend recently arrived from Saipan says Russians have replaced the Japanese as the tourists to attract, they spend spectacularly, apparently.

Ricky Carandang also took a look at the appointment of Gilbert Teodoro, nephew of Danding Cojuangco, as the next Secretary of National Defense (after Bert Gonzales does whatever it is he expects to do, particularly when the the “Human Security Act” goes into effect very soon). Cojuangco has been cultivating the military assiduously and effectively since the Marcos years, and Teodoro is no slouch in that department, playing golf regularly with officers, so of course they’re all praises for Teodoro. Personally, it’s good to see a civilian back in charge of the department, though of course speculation is rampant as to what the appointment signifies, politically. Word is, even the Vice-President’s camp is viewing him as a potential rival for the President’s endorsement in 2010. Meanwhile, Any changes in Cabinet to be minimal, says Ermita, although ‘Tired officials want out of Cabinet posts’.

The battle for the House speakership continues: De Venecia, Garcia battle for top House post rages; and trial balloons begin to be floated in earnest: Solon pushes referendum for Cha-cha and Pimentel to push Cha-cha in Senate.

My column yesterday was No problem, which I think reflects the happiness I feel whenever I visit Cebu City. One of the things I found remarkable in Cebu was the public’s decision not to subdivide their province (gerrymandering has become particularly flagrant in Mindanao). News like Bid to divide Quezon seen to split officials underscores the need to look at whether atomization, instead of consolidation, remains a wise option (if it ever was), or as the NEDA boss puts it, NEDA Chief: We need to capacitate the provinces.

It will be interesting to see what urban planning-oriented bloggers will have to say about this: QC Mayor Belmonte blames NHA for ‘blocking’ progress.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ points to a development in legal doctrines concerning amnesties; and says the time has come to reverse one of them:

Over the years, however, there has developed a doctrine which has made amnesty unattractive to potential beneficiaries. It is the judicially created doctrine that in order to avail himself of the benefits of amnesty, a person must admit guilt. How did this doctrine come about and can it be changed without constitutional amendment?

The earlier doctrine on the subject was that a plea of guilty was not needed for availing of amnesty…

Later, however, a dissenting opinion argued thus: “…amnesty presupposes the commission of a crime and that when an accused says he has not committed a crime he cannot have any use for amnesty; that where an amnesty proclamation imposes certain conditions… it is incumbent upon the accused to prove the existence of such conditions; that a petition for amnesty is in the nature of a plea of confession and avoidance, under which principle the pleader has to confess the allegations against him before he can be allowed to set out matters which, if true, would defeat the action.”

This dissenting opinion became doctrine in 1963.

I believe that this doctrine should be changed especially now in the context of fabricated charges of rebellion or sedition. When a person signifies his intention to avail of amnesty, he should be seen as welcoming either relief from punishment for guilt, if truly guilty, or, if innocent, relief from the trouble of having to prove innocence.

Marit Stinus-Remonde says it’s the CPP-NPA that has enforced a virtual martial law in parts of the country.

Now there’s this: Fiscal situation ‘very serious’–Teves. Something to bear in mind while Boo Chanco and David Llorito (I tend to agree with Llorito) have interesting things to say: Chanco on why economic growth seems unreal to some (see [email protected] Holdings for a real-life observation):

I must confess I got lost midway through his charts and formulas but two conclusions stuck out: it is wrong to claim a 17-year all time high and whatever growth there is, cannot be consumer-led.

So, what’s the score? Did we or didn’t we grow by 6.9 percent? The professor reviewed the statistics, crunched his numbers and concluded that yes, we indeed grew but not as spectacularly as Malacañang would like us to believe. There were apparently some changes made in how measurements were made, notably in how they tried to account for the underground economy that made statistics from 2001 onwards not comparable with those before 2001.

How to explain this situation in layman’s terms? The professor told us to think in terms of a driver who is happy that his car is running along quite well on what the speedometer says is 120 kilometers per hour. What he doesn’t realize however, is that the speedometer is faulty and the real speed is only 80 kilometers per hour.

…Those of us with a minimum understanding of economics also know in addition that low interest rates, low inflation and the strong peso are classic indicators of a slow economy. Philip’s number crunching confirmed the guard’s suspicions.

A slower economy however, is not necessarily a bad situation. The slower speed may even be why we are experiencing relative stability. But it takes away the bragging rights of the administration about this being the highest growth in 17 years. Neither can it be claimed that the growth rate is also higher than under any administration since Marcos. If they really want to compare, adjustments would have to be made on data before 2001. They can deduct two percent from the 6.9 percent or add two percent to the growth during the Ramos years.

But if there was growth nevertheless, what was responsible for it? The statistics seem to indicate, the professor points out, that a sharp decline in import growth explains 700 percent of the increase in the GDP.

That raises the question of how can our economy be so bullish if imports are on a sharp decline? A bullish economy is characterized by strong consumer demand and manufacturers would respond to that strong demand by importing more raw material as well as capital goods. Could it be, as the numbers seem to suggest, that domestic consumption is becoming less and less import dependent?

…And so the professor dismisses the consumer-led growth theory because this is not supported by the statistics on purchasing power. The statistics, the professor points out, “seem to fall on the side of lower consumption growth story: low inflation (hard to jack prices if demand is not growing very fast), low growth in bank lending (negative if adjusted for inflation) and low growth in demand for electricity.” In fact, low demand resulted in seemingly higher growth only because of lower imports.

…But the accuracy of the GDP figures aside, there is good news too. Local corporations are now healthier than before, Prof. Medalla reports. The SPAV law has helped them clean up their books, making them ready to embark on new ventures that take advantage of Tuesday’s positive business climate. As for the stock market, the professor observed that it had always been powered by expectations of growth rather than fulfillment. Expectations, he said, are always iffy… as in we can always hope and pray for its fulfillment.

If you want to get an idea of the economy’s direction, he advised looking at the real estate and banking sectors. They won’t be building all those office and residential condos if there is no demand from call centers and well off Pinoy expats willing to invest on second homes here. And check the banks if they are granting more loans, specially loans to businesses to expand capacity.

One last thing… the slower economy should also be good for us because we won’t have that power shortage sooner… we get a reprieve. The slower growth rate buys us time to get a good power program in place so that the next boom wouldn’t be cut short by lack of power. It takes three to five years to plan, get financing and operate a new power plant. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson that we ought to plan ahead.

Llorito on how economic growth has kept political action within certain parameters:

There are indications that most of those uprisings in the past were supported by the business elite. They are concentrated in the banking, real estate, export, and trading. Most of these sectors now are raking in money from overseas remittances, outsourcing, and recovering exports. It means they now have a stake in the stability of the system.

They are not apathetic – far from it. In fact, there’s a growing movement for a clean and honest elections. They just want to make sure that the political process should no longer take short cuts like the Edsa Dos and Tres that eventually hurt the overall prospects of the Philippine economy.
Certainly, globalization poses risks and challenges, but so far it has become a stabilizing force in Philippine politics. If the government could guarantee a credible election in May, the Philippines may yet achieve a higher growth trajectory (6-7 percent) in the next three years. That’s the only way the government could make serious headway in the fight against joblessness and poverty.

The Magnificent Atty. Perez points out, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Father of Time on how Tagalogs make the lives of non-Tagalogs difficult. from the boondocks quotes the thoughts of the ex-governor of Ifugao, on “blood politics,” which has to do with race: something Norman Analista tackles, too. Sekularista wants religious teaching eliminated from public schools (why is it even being taught in the public schools in the first place?)

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64 comments

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  1. Bencard

    abe you didn’t have to repeat what i already said, and lecture me, about hearsay evidence as though i heard the word for the first time.

    in the previous thread, “you first postulated that PGMA, davide, panganiban, et al. are liable for the crimes of rebellion and coup d’etat in connection with edsa 2. i said no way because there’s no mens rea (criminal intent).

    on this thread, mlq3 brought up mike arroyo’s interview with n. joaquin and asked for my analysis. i said arroyo’s actions were expected from an activist “civil society ” member and, i thought, his being the husband of the constitutional successor was incidental.

    you then theorized that on the basis of m. arroyo’s statement (which you call admission/confession) at the interview, he is liable, along with his colleagues, for the crimes of rebellion and coup d’etat. again, i said no way because, even assuming that his statement amounts to “intent” to commit rebellion or coup (as defined in the penal code), said statement does not indicate any overt act of violence that could qualify the act into a crime.

    finally, you introduced abadia’s statement evidently to support your theory that a crime of rebellion or coup was in fact committed and i said, at best it is hearsay testimony that has no legal value at this point. i meant to add that, like mike’s declaration, abadia’s statement does not show any overt act of rebellion or coup either.

    i think it’s fair to say, no matter what manolo thinks, that you have failed to rebut my points that, with respect to GMA, davide, panganiban, et al., there is neither mens rea or overt act present to make their actions criminal. as regards mike arroyo, assuming the court find intent on the basis of his out-of-court testimony, there is no overt act of violence to complete the essential elements of the crimes that you think they have committed.

    as i said in the previous thread, overt act is a matter of fact, not word usage. by the same token, a criminal act is defined by law, not by what an individual thinks it is. thus, mike arroyo’s use of the term “counter-coup” or gen. reyes’ “mutiny” are not determinative of whether the crimes of coup d’etat and mutiny, respectively, have been committed.

    mlq3, laws, including binding court decisions that become law, apply to every one. what goes around comes around, as the trite saying goes. meaning that if abe margallo’s thesis on presumed criminal intent and implied overt acts gains judicial acceptance, successful prosecution of protesters, activists, media critics, and political adversaries would be…well, a walk in the park. Don’t you agree?

  2. Bencard

    re your “conspiracy” theory, abe (as concurred in by mlq3),

    all i can say is that if you are successful in prosecuting or having mike arroyo indicted and/or convicted, then not only pgma, davide, panganiban, reyes, abadia, cory aquino, ramos, guingona, and hundreds of thousands of others who marched at edsa and cheered gma’s ascent to the presidency (including, of course, manolo – avowed supporter of edsa 2 and advocating complete change of the political order and government) and those who served in the arroyo government,
    should be indicted/convicted either as co-conspirators, accomplices or accessories-after-the-fact. shouldn’t they?
    what do you think, manolo? is that politically feasible from your standpoint?

  3. mlq3

    bencard,

    you’d have to make a distinction between the prime movers who have made public statements on what they did and why, and the rest who may have been there for entirely different reasons. atty. arroyo, for example, made clear his motivations, etc. for being at edsa dos; a college student angry at what he saw on tv wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be held to the same standard of prosecution.

    as for those who served in the new government, again, apparently your presumption of regularity would enter into the picture, they would have served in good faith, whether or not the appointing power was later proven an usurper or not.

    but then this is why, even prior to july 05, i advocated the review of the revised penal code and the scrapping of its provisions on sedition, etc. the law is so restrictive and so clear as to what constitutes sedition, rebellion, etc. that you could indeed argue that at least half the country should go to jail at any given point in our recent political history.

  4. Abe N. Margallo

    They all should including my buddy cvj if we have to take it that Estrada v. Desierto is a good law. That, pañero, has been my whole point in this entire exercise.

    Anyway, Bencard, if I were Koko, I would hire your representation instead of a “fool for a lawyer.” Koko readily “conceded” what he was supposed to disprove and “choked” per Ricky Carandang, and then suffered from “spectacular failure of nerve” according to PDI. To think many believe he had an easy case. Of course those were no less hearsay reports than those you already know. On the other hand, you are holding your ground admirably, ready and willing to employ every conceivable logic available. You’re my man.

  5. Bencard

    thanks, abe, very sincerely. coming from you, i’m humbled. you are the one who is a credit to our profession, a real disciple of the Law.

  6. benj

    I’m so happy that the candidate who could’ve won because the voters thought they were voting for someone else (i.e. his dad) is finally being shown the door. Out with Koko!

    Hey Manolo, I got an invite to go to ANC! Yay! Can I get an autographed tarp? hehe

  7. Bencard

    “a college student angry at what he saw on t.v. wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be held to the same standard of prosecution.” mlq3.

    it’s not my intention here to drag this topic interminably but i just can’t let your above statement pass without some critical scrutiny , at least, for the sake your readers.

    are you advocating a double or multiple standards of prosecution of crimes? what is your understanding of the equal protection clause of the constitution? is it not implicated in your statement? are you not confusing “standard of prosecution” with the nature of the offense committed according to degree of participation in the criminal act, i.e., co-conspirator, accomplice or accessory (which i mentioned in my previous post)?

  8. Bencard

    erratum @ 2nd par. last line: sake OF your readers.

  9. mlq3

    bencard, bowing immediately to your expertise in the law, meaning i can only speak as a layman:

    my point is based on this analogy.

    certain acts are, according to the law, a crime. let’s say, looting.

    let’s say a situation arose where a mass act of looting took place. and the authorities decided to make an example of the looters.

    if it were a case of mass looting, it would be impossible to apprehend and punish every single looter. not even if the authorities wanted to. i assume the authorities, with finite resources (both in terms of the police and then the prosecutors, etc.) would decide on a list of priorities, for example:

    first priority would go to apprehending, detaining, and charging those who were deemed ringleaders of the looting; second priority would be anyone else captured; third and lowest -so low as to be not a priority at all- would be trying to hunt down, capture, and charge every single person who might have taken part in the looting.

    but even based on the above, a further winnowing of the targets for prosecution would take place: let’s say, put those who violently resisted arrest on trial first; followed by those caught red-handed carting off particularly scandalous loot, just for the sake of argument, you’d put on trial someone trying to cart off an iron lung first, and maybe not even charge a starving person who ran off with a loaf of bread, even if you captured them. you might even end up apprehending some teenagers who ran off with cases of softdrinks but let them off with a warning, rather than jail them and risk turning them into hardened criminals, if they were clearly just carried along by the mob’s enthusiasms, etc.

    so, even if one could prosecute people for participation in edsa dos or edsa tres, priority would be for the key players; then maybe, for other people with a certain amount of standing in the community; your least priority would be the college students at edsa dos or the residents of baseco who trooped to edsa tres.

    on a smaller scale, these are judgment calls prosecutors make all the time, no?

  10. Bencard

    mlq3, in the sense you put it, i agree. i think it’s called prosecutorial discretion, e.g., nolle prosequi at common law.

  11. Jaxius

    mlq3,

    In our jurisdiction, all those who participated in the act whatever their degree of participation shall be included in the charge sheet and shall be tried jointly.

    However, the court in its discretion and upon motion the accused or the prosecutor, may order a separate trial for some of the accused. It is the court, and not the prosecutor who has the discretion.

    In fact, it is one of the main points of Erap’s defense pointing out the irregularity of his trial. Some actors in the acts he has been accused of (Singson, Dichaves, officials of Belle Corp) have not been included in the charge sheet. The prosecution simply and deftly excluded them from the charge sheet while their acts at least imply that they were co-conspirators.

  12. Bencard

    jaxius, i must be too long away from philippine criminal practice so please bear with me. is it really mandatory for a prosecutor there to indict a particular accused regardless of the prosecutor’s own assessment, after a preliminary investigation conducted by him, that there is no sufficient evidence to warrant going forward with the case with respect to that accused? what then is the purpose of preliminary investigation? may a judge second-guess the prosecutor with respect to the latter’s finding that there is no such evidence sufficient to make an indictment?

  13. Jaxius

    Ben,

    I was reacting to mlq3’s idea that there could be separate trials for a crime where there are several accused with differing degrees of participation. It is very clear in the Rules that several accused shall be jointly tried, except upon motion by one of the accused or the prosecutor which shall be upon discretion of the judge.

    I agree with you that while a prosecutor’s decision regarding the filing of a case is purely discretionary and even mandamus cannot be used to force him, an accused is not without recourse. He may appeal to the DOJ for the review of the prosecutor’s resolution of the case. He can even file an administrative complaint against the prosecutor. However, the DOJ is the final arbiter whether to file or not to file. However, in Erap’s case, I don’t think that is even an option. And that is the basis of one of the defense’s arguments.

    That is why Atty. Saguisag has been harping of the prosecutors’ unconstitutional application of the law “fair on its face and impartial in appearance but applied and administered with an evil eye and an unequal hand.”

    Take the case of the non-inclusion of Chavit Singson on the charge sheet when he appears as guilty as Erap on the jueteng and the tobacco excise tax. He was the one who delivered the money. He knew it was illegal. But why is he not in the charge sheet?

    As stated, a prosecutor’s finding is discretionary but he is still subject to the SC’s power of judicial review if he made such decision or resolution with grave abuse of discretion. He should have been included in the charge sheet, the defense insists, even if is subsequently discharged therefrom for being a state witness. However, he was not accorded the status of a state witness but only as an ordinary witness.

    I don’t know why the defense did not insist in asking the prosecution to include him. Probably it was a matter of trial strategy if only to emphasize that the law was applied and administered with a heavy hand and an evil eye.

    When the Sandiganbayan comes up with the decision, we will see whether the Court agrees with such position or will just ignore it.

  14. Devilsadvc8

    insisting to include Chavit on the charge sheet on the basis that he was “as guilty” as Erap would’ve been tantamount to admitting Erap’s guilt.

    on Chavit going scot-free, rules and laws governing state-witnesses should be revised so that, turning state witness may earn you reduction in sentence, but it will not earn you complete immunity.

    otherwise, we would’ve just told future wrong doers that crime DOES PAY, and all you had to do was do a CHAVIT and you’d be home free.

    it may discourage future snitchers from snitching AT ALL if they know they cannot avail of complete immunity, but isn’t it just logical that for forgiveness to be given, those who’ve confessed to a crime and who’re genuinely sorry for it be willing to take the punishment meted out to them? so those unwilling, i say just include them all in the charge sheet and prosecute them to the hilt. no quarters shall be given to those who do not repent.

    to make snitching more attractive, we should make it so that reductions on snitchee’s sentences would be based on how instrumental, and how heavy his info and evidence given agst his former boss is, and that it resulted in a successful prosecution of all guilty parties.

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