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Jan 30

Another happy ending for the Palace

My Arab News column for this week is The Same Mistakes Eventually. A further reflection on this past entry.

The Inquirer editorial takes a look at Suharto’s legacy. In his column, William Pesek does the same in Suharto’s corrupt legacy lives on in Indonesia, and says a lack of enthusiasm for investing in Indonesia is one of them. See Orde Baru for a timeline of the Suharto years.

Oh: and my gosh, he’s lost! Where in the world is Mike Arroyo? Maybe Austria? Lichtenstein?

A few days ago, Ricky Carandang, in his blog, said that the testimony of a new witness regarding the ZTE affair, would be used as an excuse to declare the leadership of the House vacant, and thus pave the way for a new Speaker. He predicted that the consensus candidate would be Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales, Jr.:

When Congress resumes sessions at the end of the month, the Senate is expected to quickly resume hearings on the ZTE Broadband deal. A former associate of Romulo Neri, Jun Lozada, who was brought in by Neri as a consultant on technical matters, will provide more details based on first hand knowledge, about how the ZTE deal was clinched.

The ZTE hearings will be used by members of the House majority as a trigger to the call for a change in the House leadership. It will be recalled that it was the Speaker’s son, Joey, who accused presidential husband Mike Arroyo of intervening in the ZTE deal, thus opening a rift between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and JDV that never really healed.

Sources tell me that sometime after the resumption of the Senate hearings, a member of the House coalition will take the floor to ask that the speakership be declared vacant. He will supposedly have the numbers.

I’m told further that backroom talks have nearly settled the matter of who takes over from JDV.

In a response to a readers’ comment, Carandang predicted,

He’s in a position to corroborate previous testimony. He has first hand knowledge. I’m not sure what his agenda is, if any.

But whatever he has the Palace is trying its best to keep him from talking.

as I mentioned the other day, scuttlebutt was that if Speaker de Venecia’s removal is in the cards, it’s scheduled for the end, and not the start, of this year. But there are those who’d like to accelerate the transfer of power: Mindanao solons uncloak selves, bare oust-JDV plot. Or do they? It could simply be posturing to extract concessions, or as a rear-guard action to save face.

After all, the Palace could be working at cross-purposes when it comes to congressmen who want to topple the Speaker sooner rather than later. But, as the next portion of this entry suggests, if the pretext for the toppling’s removed, then people have to sound the retreat while still banging the drums.
De Venecia, Nograles draw up battle lines for speakership. Maybe. But what if, as Carandang says, neither one will be the winner?

The news today began with the breaking news, New witness backs off NBN deal probe. This, despite Senate offers witness protection to Lozada. The Philippine Star has to have absolutely the worst -because utterly useless- system for online articles, you can never link anything! So I’ll have to quote from Jarius Bondoc’s column today, without providing a link.

His column, “Lozada was in Palace meetings on NBN,” accuses Sen. Cayetano (Allan Peter) of turning Lozada, who was supposed to be a surprise witness, into a non-surprise and thus, giving the Palace time to put pressure on him. This what Bondoc wrote today:

It’s all the fault of Blue-Ribbon Committee head Alan Peter Cayetano, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Lozada allegedly had wanted to tell all he knows about the deal from which kickbackers would have got $200 million, three-fifths of the contracted price. But then, Malacañang operatives got to Lozada and convinced him to shut up with a combination of death threats and blandishments, Lacson lamented. And how did Palace men find out about Lozada? Well, by Cayetano’s own admission, he revealed the name of the secret witness last weekend. He had to, he said, for transparency, since the subpoena he issued Lozada last month was a public document signed not only by him but also Senate President Manny Villar, and Mar Roxas and Rodolfo Biazon of the two other committees investigating the fraud. Cayetano nonetheless acknowledged to being the leak. He told reporters he purposely had avoided them during the Christmas break so that they wouldn’t force him to break secrecy – until days ago. And so was redefined the meaning of secret witness.

What would Lozada have revealed had he not been put in jeopardy? The answer lies in part in the testimony of Joey de Venecia III, who blew the lid off the $330-million cheating. Roxas had asked him in a hearing in Sept. if he knew a certain Jun Lozada. De Venecia said yes, and that Lozada was present in some meetings with ZTE executives, presidential spouse Mike Arroyo, and then-Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos.

Lozada was no longer mentioned after that. But Lacson and Roxas apparently continued to receive more info. Word reached them that Lozada was conscience-stricken seeing Joey and other whistleblowers lay their lives on the line while he who knew more about the high crime was comfortably silent. And so Lozada decided to talk.

The first senator Lozada approached to tell his story was not of any help. If at all, it only proved to him that some opposition figures have been co-opted, although it’s not readily seen through their pretentious posturing. That senator allegedly told Lozada to not bother testifying because the tri-committee already was wrapping up the probe and drafting a report. (Cayetano said Monday he definitely will set more hearings if new evidence turns up.)

Lozada reportedly then prepared an affidavit of what he knows. The most telling segment allegedly is about a meeting in Malacañang on Apr. 19, 2007, two days before Arroyo witnessed the signing of the DOTC-ZTE deal in China. (That’s also the day then-Economic Secretary Romy Neri told me he nearly resigned due to unconscionable terms of the telecom supply.) Luzon’s main water source would have been sacrificed, along with soldiers’ housing, just to accommodate the overpriced deal.

What else is in the affidavit, the few remaining truly opposition senators prefer that Lozada himself say under oath. They’d rather not jump the gun. Too often have witnesses recanted testimonies freely given, because Palace fixers also got to them.

This is all very tantalizing, but now moot and academic -as it has been, since Cayetano gave the Palace a free pass by wrapping up the hearings before the holidays. We shall have to see if Senate to order arrest of Lozada, Neri has any effect, and how many in the Senate will stand by their institution or cave in to the Palace.

The Business Mirror editorial points out that Congress has abandoned trying to hold the budget hostage, because it only enabled the executive department to spend without congressional oversight by doing so:

Time was, not too long ago, when lawmakers tried to put the squeeze on the Executive branch by prolonging their budgetary deliberations. Opposition senators, in particular, made the debates and discussions drag on–if only to press the point that the legislature possesses the power of the purse. Unfortunately for them, the dilatory tactic tended to backfire.

Instead of being intimidated by Congress’s authority to withhold funds, Malacañang simply resorted to realigning the previous year’s appropriations. The Executive prerogative to adopt “reenacted” budgets merely gave the Palace a free hand to dig into the national coffers–then spend billions of taxpayer pesos as it saw fit, with members of Congress unable to do anything about it save for rant and rave before the media.

As one pundit pointed out, a reenacted budget is nothing more than a huge pork barrel that Congress–intentionally or otherwise–gifts to the incumbent administration. During an election year, in particular, congressional dereliction of its duty to produce a budget often left the Palace crying all the way to the bank.

This time, Congress has managed to pass the national budget pretty much on time. Along the way, the editorial points out that one tangible benefit of the appreciation of the Peso was freeing up 16 billion that would otherwise have gone to foreign debt payments. It also praises Senators Trillanes and Lacson for saving the government 300 million pesos, the amount of the pork barrel they gave up.

But there remain some causes for concern, as these stories indicate: Budget OK ‘pleases’ Palace, but realignment veto looms. From the same article, a glimpse into the revenue-raising problems the government faces:

[S]enators put the burden on the government to boost revenue collection in order to bankroll the recently-ratified P1.23-trillion budget for 2008.

Senators cautioned that the P1.226-trillion national budget bill ratified by both chambers of Congress Monday night relies heavily on the state’s ability to finance the annual spending measure through more efficient revenue collection.

Stressing that a key element of this is “the capture of tax lost to smuggling,” Sen. Francis Escudero, Senate ways and means committee chairman, noted that “budget funds can only flow if the tax leaks are plugged.”

In order to finance the spending measure, Escudero said government must raise the corresponding amount in tax, plus P10 billion more, as the total cash budget of the government for the year is actually P1.236 billion.

According to him, the P10 billion is the projected cost of the planned 10-percent hike in the basic pay of 1.1 million national government workers that takes effect July. This amount, while factored in this year’s public expenditures, was not included in the budget. “This means that government must raise an average P3.386 billion daily to finance its operations,” he added.

The burden of raising this amount would fall on the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which is targeting to collect P844.9 billion, or 68.3 percent of total requirement, and the Bureau of Customs, whose assigned target of P254.5 billion makes up 20.6 percent of overall, or a combined P1.099 trillion.

And P75-B stimulus plan OK’d in principle; DBM balks. According to the article, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda is the guy behind the President”s stimulus package, meant to help overcome whatever economic challenges will arise from the Subprime contagion (by the way, Manuel Buencamino in his column distills what the whole mess overseas is all about):

The country’s economic managers and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, the President’s economic adviser who presented the proposal to the President and her Cabinet that day, will meet on Thursday to study the feasibility of such a scheme and to see how it can fit into the administration’s fiscal framework.

This, amid contradictions in principles between the budget secretary and the stimulus-package proponent, Salceda…

…Salceda’s package includes P16 billion in tax rebates for middle-class working families and P8 billion in power rate discounts for those consuming a maximum of 200 kilowatt-hours per month; and increased spending for agriculture (P15 billion), food-for-school projects (P6 billion), education (P6 billion), health (P4 billion), housing (P4 billion) and infrastructure (P16 billion).

He said among the funding sources mentioned were the privatization of the remaining shares of the government in San Miguel Corp., Food Terminal Inc., and other government assets; and, for the power rate discounts, the government royalties from Malampaya…

…The proposed package is suited for a “sharp but short” US recession, he added…

…Salceda said former President Estrada took the same tack to minimize the impact of the Asian crisis on the country by releasing P40 billion for priming activities in 1999; Mrs. Arroyo released P60 billion for the same purpose to help the Philippines cope with a US recession.

“They were very successful in reversing a growth slowdown into an acceleration,” Salceda said. But Andaya said such schemes had also led to the ballooning of the budget deficit beyond what was expected: in 1999, the target deficit was P17 billion but swelled to P114 billion because of pump-priming activities; in 2002, the target was P40 billion but the deficit at year-end was over three times higher at P150 billion.

See also In rare moment, Tetangco cites fiscal concerns.

You might have noticed, above, that Salceda proposes that Malampaya royalties be put on hold. He has backing for this: Competitiveness council wants Malampaya royalties halted. To do so, however, would further endanger the precarious situation local governments are finding themselves in, because of gerrymandering.

In his column today, Quagmire rule, Juan Mercado not only says “I told you so” (he’s been a long-time opponent of creating new provinces and cities motived by gerrymandering) but points to the very real fiscal problem city governments are facing:

Mayor Celestino Martinez prints new letterheads for Bogo City in Cebu. The bill is dumped on others, including next-door Toledo City. Instead of a P307-million IRA check, Mayor Arlene Zambo will get P277 million — a hefty P31-million cut.

From Iloilo to Davao and Jolo, IRAs are being castrated sans anesthesia. Puerto Princesa in Palawan is hemorrhaging from a P144 million cut. Instead of receiving P146 million, Mayor Edward Hagedorn may get only P1.7 million. This is a policy for upheaval.

He asks, how did it happen? By juggling the figures and granting exemptions too freely and too often:

How did we stumble into this quagmire? We, Filipinos, have a nasty habit of meeting high performance standards by lowering them instead, noted Viewpoint (Cebu Daily News & Inquirer, Feb 12, 2007 ). Thus, Congress “exempted” 16 towns from criteria that other cities met.

This wont for self-delusion infects other sectors. Juggling statistics on class sizes “solved” the shortage in classrooms. Flunkers in National Elementary Achievement Tests wrestled the passing mark down to 50 percent. That wasn’t low enough. So, they wangled a “bonus” of 60 points. “This meant the criterion passing score was 37.5 percent,” Philippine Human Development Report notes. “Whom are they kidding?”

Many lost count in the frenzy to set up city halls. In 1991, we had 60 cities, many of dubious viability. By 2003, that had ballooned to 114. “National government’s ability to finance such local government units… is strained,” the World Bank and Asian Development Bank cautioned. “The small size of LGUs prevents them from generating their own resources.”

Finally, Mercado points out something long a-borning:

Migrants swap rural penury for urban penury. In 2005, six out of every ten Filipinos lived in urban sprawls. By 2030, urban residents could crest at 85 million.

In the 1980s, Rigoberto Tiglao had already theorized that the “surrounding the cities from the countryside” Maoist strategy of the CPP-NPA was doomed to fail, because even then the majority of Filipinos were urban and not rural dwellers; he ended up leaving the party because of his challenge to its political orthodoxy. I point this out because to my mind, gerrymandering and the atomization of the provinces is a grave problem.

A very curious story in Nonong Guyala’s column, Poetic justice.

And for the record, the gist of the petition various people (including myself) filed before the Supreme Court: Media ask SC to stop gov’t threats, arrests: 70 journalists sign petition vs top gov’t execs. The rationale of the case in Maria Ressa’s statement, “We Have Press Freedom or We Don’t. There is No Middle Ground.”

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147 comments

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  1. Jeg

    What they shouldnt do is — forgive me MLQ3 — waste the court’s time with a suit.

    What I meant was ‘What they shouldnt do is waste the court’s time with a suit BEFORE any arrest is made.

  2. ptt

    Here’s a journalist account on Manila pen. Notice the last paragraph showing how media was obstructing and actually being part of the stand off:

    “After the 3 p.m. deadline set by the government for them to surrender, tension was building up. Apparently, the expected massive civilian and military support didn’t come. TV reported that the PNP’s Special Action Force and Army troops were preparing for an assault. Rebel officers would constantly look out the glass window to scour for possible snipers.

    Reporters were getting text messages from editors and friends of the government order to vacate the hotel because they were going to force their way in to arrest the rebels. Initially, we were about a hundred journalists covering the standoff from inside the hotel, limited to the corridor leading to the Rizal Room.

    When the warning came, one by one some reporters left. Only a little over 20 of us stayed put. WE TALKED AMONG OURSELVES AND AGREED TO LINK ARMS JUST IN CASE WE WOULD BE FORCIBLY REMOVED. We also gathered and moistened table napkins to counter the effects of tear gas. “

  3. Jeg

    But ptt, I submit there’s nothing wrong with staying to cover the event to its very end, if that was indeed their purpose in staying (we can’t tell one way or another from the snippet you quoted). And I submit the cops can detain anybody they find there afterwards for ‘processing.’ I just didnt like it that they had to haul them all off (the guilty and innocent alike) in buses to Camp Wherever. The processing shouldve been done right then and there.

  4. Silent Waters

    MLQ3

    I think in all the rhetoric going around about rights and such between government and media, the prevailing issue that people keeps forgetting is: who is the constituted authority in this problem? Is media above any other citizen wherein if government orders them to move away, they won’t? It’s not as if government was choosing who goes and who stays, right?

    I believe this whole brohaha is brought about by the fact that a lot of people are against the administration. If it was the other way around, meaning, it was a government “trusted” by the people, this whole brouhaha would not have even be page one in the papers.

  5. ricelander

    MLQ3, if the Pen occupants were Abu Sayyafs, would you get that close and would you be as stubborn? I believe not.

    That’s where you disagree with DJB and company: Trillanes to you represents a valid complaint against authorities where DJB thinks he’s a “terror” to the pursuit of happiness and peace of the rest of society. Well, that’s how I read it. But I suppose Rizal, Bonifacio, and the rest of the gang were as much a nuisance to the order of things then, disturbing others’ right to happiness, peace and order, and therefore destabilizers, back in their time. If Dean were alive then, he’d be saying the same things, wouldn’t you think?

    Depends where your sentiments lie really.

  6. ptt

    “But ptt, I submit there’s nothing wrong with staying to cover the event to its very end, if that was indeed their purpose in staying (we can’t tell one way or another from the snippet you quoted). And I submit the cops can detain anybody they find there afterwards for ‘processing.’ I just didnt like it that they had to haul them all off (the guilty and innocent alike) in buses to Camp Wherever. The processing shouldve been done right then and there.”

    You say they were covering the event, I say they were willing human shields that supported the “cause” and wanted the “rebels” to succeed. Hauling off everybody to camp wherever (guilty and innocent alike) was a sound tactical decision that would have been done by law enforcement professionals elsewhere.

  7. Jeg

    ptt: You say they were covering the event, I say they were willing human shields that supported the “cause” and wanted the “rebels” to succeed.

    Yes. But without access to their thoughts at the time, I suppose it would be safe to assume that what you and I say mean diddley squat in determining what their motives were for staying.

    Hauling off everybody to camp wherever (guilty and innocent alike) was a sound tactical decision that would have been done by law enforcement professionals elsewhere.

    I would have to question the accuracy of that, ptt. Everywhere is a pretty large place.

  8. inodoro ni emilie

    WE TALKED AMONG OURSELVES AND AGREED TO LINK ARMS JUST IN CASE WE WOULD BE FORCIBLY REMOVED

    so, ppt, where’s obstruction there? for all the police care, they can still frisk those journalists away, only that the journalists still be linking their arms. nothing seditious in that plan. it makes for an obstructive viewing though, if the police were trying to peer pass through those linked arms.

  9. DJB Rizalist

    MLQ3,

    There is no shame in Journalism being an organized, commercial enterprise. No more than the practice of Medicine, or -gulp- Physics is.

    That Mass Media is lucratively profitable is a measure of how precious people think is their right to know.

    If people aren’t willing to pay for your information the journalistic enterprise will wither and die.

    But the bloodless manner in which the Pen incident was handled is a tribute to the skill and patience of the police. It was no thanks to the Media, who, got in the way and are lucky no one was hurt.

    So why then did they insist on being so obtrusive? Why did they disobey lawful authorities and then squeal fascism when they got into trouble for it? Doctors would not think to do so unless it was to save someone’s life, not to get a scoop. I think the Cops would respect a doctor’s demand to be let into the Pen, because even simple cops understand instinctively the priority of rights.

    I emphasize the essentially commercial nature of organized journalism to fight the obscurantist tendency to aggrandize press freedom and claim its most extreme practice to be socially acceptable or even indispensable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Journalists do not have a monopoly in the love of liberty and an obligation to defend it. But press freedom is not the highest liberty. Not by a long shot.

  10. benign0

    “But press freedom is not the highest liberty. Not by a long shot.” – DJB

    What good is all the crap published by the media if a large chunk of Pinoy society live and eat off mounds of garbage?

    In contrast, the media are pretty well muzzled in places like Singapore and South Korea. But the basic needs of their people are more than adequately met.

    In Australia, the Media are silent during a police investigation (other than to report that ‘investigations are on-going…’), don’t go around stuffing their cameras and mikes into staff’s faces in emergency rooms, respect the dignity of the dead, and actually publish INFORMATION rather than just scoops (though that of course is a reflection of the collective intellect of their consumers).

    More importantly, they don’t pretend to be some kind “hero of the masses” or some sort of BS like that.

  11. DevilsAdvc8

    clap, clap, clap!

    this is a very nice discussion going on.
    kudos to DJB. very convincing posts. except for that mussolini-sounding part easily debunked by Manolo. and more shocking, I find myself agreeing with Benigno on this (emphasis mine)

    Information is a necessity that everyone is entitled to. But the Media is a special entity in this regard because it DIRECTLY PROFITS from information. Therefore information as far as the Media is concerned is an ECONOMIC asset rather than an entitlement. It seems to follow then that their efforts to acquire said asset should be governed more by commercial rules rather than ethical standards.

    It’s hard indeed to trust an entity that profits from information while at the same time propagating a false impression that it heroically makes said information available altruistically to the public. An oxymoronic stance to say the least but nevertheless a triumph in spin engineering at best.

    Manolo counters

    if one adopts that logic there is no nobility in the profession of medicine, or of art, they are all pedestrian money grubbing activities.

    ahh, but isn’t that exactly the case now Manolo? doctors going out on streets to protect big pharmaceuticals’ and their interests rather than their patients, artists selling out to Da Company…

    it then becomes a question of personal integrity, nobility. the profession is only so noble as the people practicing it. same as the govt. only as trustworthy as the people running it.

    this goes to the heart of the matter. not many are as quick to agree with media on this score because of one thing: resentment. the people resent the media bec they feel (including me) that media is not out there so much as to protect THEIR FREEDOMS, as to protect media’s OWN FREEDOMS (to continue being irresponsible as they are, profit driven unethically, etc). in short, in the people’s eyes, the media is itself warping to become another force that oppresses people. media has lost credibility, that’s it.

    as DJB said, hence blogging is the more truer version of FREEDOM of SPEECH. because it is not driven by commercialization (unless of course that blogsite earns from ads).

  12. ptt

    “Yes. But without access to their thoughts at the time, I suppose it would be safe to assume that what you and I say mean diddley squat in determining what their motives were for staying.”-Jeg

    Exactly, hence law enforcement did the right thing when they hauled everybody off.

    “so, ppt, where’s obstruction there? for all the police care, they can still frisk those journalists away, only that the journalists still be linking their arms. nothing seditious in that plan.”

    They willingly made a high risk entry for law enforcement more complex that it already was and that’s obstruction. With the amount of training and discipline required for shoot and don’t shoot scenarios, I’m surprised none of the reporters got shot.

  13. DJB Rizalist

    MLQ3,

    It is most unfair and presumptuous of the Petitioners to claim to the Supreme Court, (with the malice aforethought of cunningly veiled emotional blackmail), that the “future of democracy in the Philippines” rides on the fate of their Petition. Yet their prayer is essentially a forlorn wish to be granted immunity from the ordinary laws of the land and to be beyond the reach of its duly constituted authorities just because they are journalists and press freedom is so precious.

    It’s as if the Fast Food Industry, right after a major food poisoining incident, were to petition against threats by BFAD to impose the Sanitation Laws, so they can continue to practice their culinary rights of commerce and satisfy the Public’s Right to hamburger without all those interfering fascist meat inspectors.

  14. Jeg

    (unless of course that blogsite earns from ads).

    An aside. Off-topic. If you find a blog you really like and you find yourself going back to it again and again (like this one), I suggest you take the time to click on the ads. It’s an incentive for the blog owner to continue blogging. It won’t take a minute of your time.

  15. Jeg

    ptt: Exactly, hence law enforcement did the right thing when they hauled everybody off.

    But there’s this thing called presumption of innocence, ptt. Hauling everybody off is presuming everybody is guilty. The more prudent thing to have done is to process everybody on-site before hauling off anybody. Law enforcement did the wrong thing. ABS-CBN wouldnt have made such a big deal out of this had law enforcement detained everybody on-site til they were cleared. I saw a photo from Singapore once when after a hijacking, everybody was detained on-site til the cops determined who was a hijacker and who was a legit passenger. The processing was done on-site. No handcuffs, but everybody was told to ‘assume the position’. Hands on heads and all that.

  16. DevilsAdvc8

    Jeg, you could do that, but at your own risk. not all sites are user-friendly (by which i mean, security-wise). you could be clicking a spyware, virus-infested link for all you know, redirecting you to god knows where. even known sites aren’t guaranteed safe.

    i do click some ads, but only those that i’m interested in. and even then, i have ad-blockers and filters galore in my browser. also, i only bother with trusted sites.

  17. Jeg

    Good tip, Devils. The ads on this site look safe, though. Unless Amazon is secretly sending you spyware.

  18. DJB Rizalist

    MLQ3,

    Gonzalez’s assailed advisory was directed at the owners of media outfits. It says they ought to police their own ranks or face criminal sanctions and the action of real police.

    In retrospect this was a reasonable, if “threatening” thing to do, since who can deny that those who stayed, would have all left if ordered out by their bosses?

    Who could’ve died at the Manila Pen but journalism’s rank and file?

    Instead the Media responds with a Supreme Court petition they are sure to lose?

    It’s not a justiciable case, but it WILL generate headlines.

  19. ptt

    “ But there’s this thing called presumption of innocence, ptt. Hauling everybody off is presuming everybody is guilty….” – Jeg

    Oh yes the presumption of innocence. For a law enforcement high risk entry, there is also the presumption that everybody on the scene is a threat until rendered safe or proven otherwise. It is a tactical call based on the threat, location, situation and available assets whether to haul everyone off, or process on site. There’s a big difference between an airfield in Indonesia and a hotel in a city. Philippine police and crime scenes have always been such a gaggle f**k, but that time around they did well.

  20. grd

    MLQ3, if the Pen occupants were Abu Sayyafs, would you get that close and would you be as stubborn? I believe not…. Ricelander

    Right, if those Pen occupants were Abu Sayyafs, would those over 20 media men have insisted in staying put AND LINK ARMS JUST IN CASE THEY WOULD BE FORCIBLY REMOVED?

    Silent Waters has raised a valid question, who is the constituted authority? Given that situation, can media choose not to follow the order of the police to move away? Is media above the law?

  21. grd

    so, ppt, where’s obstruction there? for all the police care, they can still frisk those journalists away, only that the journalists still be linking their arms. nothing seditious in that plan. it makes for an obstructive viewing though, if the police were trying to peer pass through those linked arms…. ine

    no obstruction if they were not surrounding trillanes and co. that time acting as human shields. what if a shoot-out ensued and people died (police, media, rebels)? will those mediamen not be held accountable for their actions?

  22. benign0

    The think with these media bozos, when they get shot at, they then proceed to anoint themselves as “heroes”.

    Hirap talaga when you live in a society starved for heroes. Any bozo can be one.

  23. BrianB

    @MLQ, All,

    brian, i find it curious when people insist media has no more rights than the rest of the population. in what sense? the ordinary citizen would no more try to find out what’s going on, beyond rubbernecking if there’s some sort of out of the ordinary going-on, than a journalist would try to respond to an emergency to the extent of performing life support on an accident victim.

    Ah, people, herein lies the difference between Manolo and some of us. If thou accept the idea that an active population is divided into “estates” – First estate(church), second Estate(nobility), third estate (middle class), fourth (press), and fifth estate (those that are none of the former, e.g. bloggers and citizen journalists and critics) – thou will understand Media’s stubborn refusal to be corralled by the police like they and we belong to the same flock. Seriously, they make a good point, that is, if you accept this Middle Accept divisions of the Realm.

    Manolo, honestly, I’ll to think about this. Maybe you know more about these “Estates” than me. Give us some links?

  24. BrianB

    That’s “Seriously, they make a good point, that is, if you accept this Middle [Ages] divisions of the Realm.

    Manolo, honestly, I’ll [have] to think about this. Maybe you know more about these “Estates” than me. Give us some links?

  25. vic

    http://www.torys.com/NewsRoom/IntheMedia/Documents/Media2006SvonkinS.pdf

    Judge slams RCMP’s use of criminal law to undermine press freedom:

    In O’Neill v. Canada (Attorney
    General), the Ontario Superior
    Court criticized the RCMP for its
    underhanded attempt to ascertain a
    journalist’s confidential sources
    and struck down three subsections
    of the Security of Information Act.
    “It’s a strong constitutional
    decision,” said Stuart Svonkin of
    Torys LLP, who represented the
    intervenor Canadian Civil Liberties
    Association. He told The
    Lawyers Weekly this is the first
    time the government threatened to
    prosecute someone under the antileakage
    provisions of the SOIA.

    “The real significance of the case
    from a constitutional point of view
    is that it’s the first opportunity to
    challenge these provisions under
    the Charter. The CCLA has been
    critical of these provisions for a
    long time.”
    Section 4 of the SOIA makes it
    an offence to possess [s. 4(1)(a)],
    receive [s. 4(3)], or communicate
    [s. 4(4)(b)] any “secret official”
    government documents or information.
    “Secret official” is not
    defined.
    The current SOIA was enacted
    as part of the Anti-Terrorism
    Act (2001), but most of its
    provisions have been in force
    as part of the old Official
    Secrets Act (1911) and its
    1889 predecessor of the same
    name.
    Justice Lynn Ratushny
    held that the three subsections
    infringe s. 7** of the Charter
    because they are overbroad, arbitrary
    and vague: “The consequence
    of this is that these sections
    are standardless,” she wrote, “with
    the result that they are facially
    meaningless. In their present state.

    the impugned sections give the
    state the unfettered ability to arbitrarily
    protect whatever information
    it chooses to classify as ‘secret
    official’ or ‘official’ or unauthorized
    for disclosure and to punish
    by way of a criminal offence those
    ‘speakers’, ‘receivers’ and ‘listeners’who
    come within that protected
    sphere …

    ** section 7: Legal Rights
    2. Life, liberty and security of person 7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

    Justice Ratushny Refused the
    Crown’s request for a one-year
    suspension of her declaration of
    invalidity, calling the subsections
    “dangerously over-inclusive in
    their punitive scope. As such they
    should not be able to be utilized
    and should immediately have no
    force and effect.”

    Note: the case doesn’t have to go the SC to set a Precedent..any Trial Court Decision that declared a Law Unconstitutional and is not appealed by the Crown rendered the Law Null and Void and has no force and effect…

  26. nash

    hay naku,

    Let’s just all go to Fr. Suarez to be healed. I heard he is the new Judiel Nieva.

  27. cvj

    In contrast, the media are pretty well muzzled in places like Singapore and South Korea. But the basic needs of their people are more than adequately met. – Benign0

    Correlation does not imply causation. Besides, what makes you think that muzzling the press will enable us to eat better? Also, South Korea has had a free press since 1987 so your example needs some updating.

  28. mlq3

    let me react in general terms to some of the comments.

    slient has a point when he says that if we had a government beloved or at least trusted by the public, this whole thing wouldn’t even be an issue. not least, because you wouldn’t have events like the peninsula caper, and no corresponding over-acting on the part of either government or the media. cause and effect.

    to be sure, i don’t think the public is either particularly sympathetic or concerned over media on this one. basically as i’ve seen it and heard it, public opinion is pretty clear: the media’s being a crybaby. but that will always be public opinion in matters of little immediate concern to it. until that is, the public then gets the short end of the stick, finds the institutions aren’t working, runs to media to act as a countervailing force to official wrongdoing, then finds out media’s been silenced. this is what the public experienced when it heaved a sigh of relief with the shutting down of media and the imprisonment of journalists during martial law.

    brian points to the term “fourth estate” which is interesting, in that it points to media, in the eyes of british politicians who invented the term, who came to view media (initially, the press) as a kind of separate constituency and even power center in contrast to the preexisting ones of three estates of nobility, clergy, and commoners. the pen can be mightier than the sword and those who wield the swords have never appreciated the pen unless firmly under their thumb. whether formally or informally, the press will emerge as either a major component in government control or a powerful challenger to it. the question is which is healthier, overall, granting that individual media people can either be absolutely corrupt, completely irresponsible, or not.

    on the whole -and this addresses benign0’s comments- in a society where checks and balances are observed, there is less reason for media to be confrontational, again, cause and effect; yet even in australia media can be a thorn in the side of government, needling it and at times actively opposing it in terms of reporting news and views, whether public opinion over iraq, or the past government’s handling of refugees, or covering the guy who got into costume and intruded on a summit.

    a good example of how these things come together is say a government embarks on a policy that is rash or simply unpopular. the public can express disapproval in many ways, and they include writing angry letters, petitioning their representatives, publishing manifestos, or rallying. governments can either respect these manifestations of disagreement, modify their policy, or ignore them. if it ignores public opinion, then the public can either shut up or raise pressure -they can recall officials, they can support rival candidates, they can rally some more. again, a government, faced with this, can either club people on the head, hold dialogues, etc.

    the duty of the press in this situation is to cover all sides but cover things to their conclusion, whatever that is. in a western country it would include darting in and out of alleys covering protests like the anti-WTO ones where a kind of urban insurrection took place; it can cover rallies and reveal whether the police used tear gas or dumdum bullets; it can find out if government abided by the law, or pushed the law towards an interpretation never experienced before, or exercised admirable self control in the face of public hostility. in a place like burma, covering a rally will get journalists killed, along with members of the public. in either case, civilian casualties are civilian casualties. in wartime, media can be embedded, or it can also cover both sides, or no side by sending journalists on their own to take their chances in no man’s land.

    you take the risks but that doesn’t mean that you take it sitting down, when governments start raising the risks; it also means that media can and should challenge actions that serve to actively limit or even circumscribe coverage, because every official action sets a precedent. you cannot sit and wait and then go, gosh, you know what, they just got darned nasty because the point is not to react to the nastiness but prevent its happening, because it serves everyone’s -the public’s, the press’s, even government, if government is going to be about more than worshiping might makes right- interest.

    there will come a point where no one will defend you except yourself and of course if you go to DJB’s hierarchy of freedoms, self-defense and self-protection is a very high freedom; no writer, broadcaster, worth their salt ever rolled over and meekly submitted to authority, nor should they. which is not to say they are unreasonable people, but it suggests their not wanting to roll over has to have some good reasons behind it beyond egotism. what reasons could those be? a track record, on the part of authorities, to take a mile when given an inch, and to bludgeon if not simply liquidate, members of the press not in their pocket. even with thoroughly apolitical people who are seething with contempt for media, when i explain the reason the press is touchy about itself, they can understand this point.

    and again, it goes to the overall place one envisions the press has, in a society. if you worship order above all else, well that defines it. if you are willing to endure a certain amount of noise and even disorder because it is better than forced regimentation, then that settles the question. if you are confident you can get all the information you want to be a good citizen, without anyone else’s help, including people who devote their working life to obtaining information for you, then you won’t care.

  29. UP n student

    mlq3: I hope the petitioners have good lawyers because they don’t have a groundswell of public opinion on their side. And I agre with scalia above — Ressa-et-al should file, not before the Supreme Court immediately, but before a lower-level court.

  30. UP n student

    Just as there are bad laws, there are bad court decisions. A reason to have a lower court make a decision first is that the ramifications of that (lower-level) court decision can be tested over time, and when bad, then an appeal to a higher authority can be made. There has to be a way out from a bad decision.
    Which is why divorce should be made legal in the Philippines.

  31. anthony scalia

    qwert,

    the judge who issued the TRO will decide whether to give a preliminary injunction while the case is pending. if the media people win, the injunction becomes permanent.

    my goodness, at best, all the media can hope for is for government to shut up. but no court will stop the government from maintaining a civilian-free zone within the radius of an event like the Manila Pen circus.

  32. anthony scalia

    to all ‘defenders of press freedom’:

    lets put aside all discussions on general statements.

    it all boils down to this – the government simply wants media to steer clear of a danger zone, a cross-fire. those who will ignore this directive will be arrested. Whats the violation on press freedom there? Government IS NEVER STOPPING MEDIA FROM WRITING AND REPORTING ABOUT THE EVENT!

    by the way, that event hasn’t happened yet.

    i foresee that the SC will dismiss the petition, but on a technicality – there’s no controversy yet. the government can be gagged from making the ‘threats’ but it cannot be stopped from keeping civilians out of harm’s way.

    (government could even be protecting the media people from themselves! at least the government shows concern – it will never ever tell media shot in the cross-fire “don’t say we didn’t warn you” or “told you so”)

    (and to show how media can be presumptous – it reported that the government respondents were ordered by the SC to answer the petition. making it sound that their petition has solid bases. whenever a petition is filed with the SC, its already SOP to require the respondents to file a comment to the petition. thats what happened – the respondents were simply told to file a comment to the petition)

  33. nash

    “the government simply wants media to steer clear of a danger zone, a cross-fire”

    True. But please ask them not to use Threats to emphasize this. It does make our country look rather silly.

  34. UP n student

    A quote from Ressa:
    Our petition before the Supreme Court explains our reasons, and I quote:
    “(i) The arrests of the journalists who covered the hotel siege;
    (ii) the threats, warnings and “reminders” of re-arrest and/or criminal liability;
    (iii) the public denunciation of the press as coddlers of military rebels;
    and (iv) the treatment of the press as combatants
    ++++are unconstitutional because they unduly restrict petitioners’ rights to free speech and expression, vitiate the freedom of the press…”

    I guess, for Item (ii), Ressa wants a grammarian or editor to vet what the government writes so the words come out more pleasing to the ear. And for item (i), that anyone with a press-card should never be detained or arrested.

  35. Bert

    Anywhere in the world where there is conflict or war, media is always in the danger zone, the cross-fire. Why the rant against that from all you guys? Would we rather be for the cause of the police who have an inviable record of brutality against the citizen, or for the cause of the media who almost always is a defender of the oppressed citizen?

  36. ptt

    “Anywhere in the world where there is conflict or war, media is always in the danger zone, the cross-fire. Why the rant against that from all you guys? Would we rather be for the cause of the police who have an inviable record of brutality against the citizen, or for the cause of the media who almost always is a defender of the oppressed citizen?” – Bert

    I haven’t heard of any media linking arms around Iraqi Insurgents being engaged by coalitions forces, Have you? Although there was this journalist who decided to place himself in between US forces and Iraqi gunmen during a firefight so he can take a cool picture. He died of gunshot wounds.

  37. Bert

    Imagine scenarios like these:

    (i) The Iraq gov’t. arrested all mediamen covering the war for being in the danger zone/crossfire
    (ii) Also Pakistan
    (iii) Also Sri Lanka
    (iv) Also Thailand
    (v) so on and so forth

  38. Bencard

    “i believe this brouhaha is brought about by the fact that a lot of people are against the administration.” silent waters.

    why am i not surprised that mlq3 finds agreement with your comment as quoted. but i don’t. this whole “brouhaha” arises from the media’s self-serving perception that in pursuing their business (gathering and reporting news), their “right” is untouchable even against legitimate law enforcement. the people themselves, as manolo concedes (especially as shown by the overwhelming consensus in this blog), appear to be unsympathetic to the media’s cause. i think their disapproval of the media’s behavior, in general, has nothing to do with their sentiment vis a vis the administration, for or against.

    manolo’s assessment of the media as just being a “crybaby” is the understatment of the year. i see it as organized media’s attempt to challenge every vestige of official control over it so it can enjoy untrammeled exercise of the “power” it claims to have.

    the organized media is so vociferous about every hint of censorship or “prior restraint” upon it by the government. but what about censorship and prior restraint the media itself perpetrates upon opinions and points of view that run counter to their institutional agenda on the pretextual reasons of “space limitations”, “editorial policies”, “unsuitable writing style”, “controversial” or just plain “unreportable”. how many bloggers here have submitted something for publication to mainstream media and were rejected for one lame reason or another?

    this probably is a very minority view. in this day and age of cybercommunication, the mainstream media’s claim to being the “fourth estate” in a democratic society such as ours is fast losing currency. it is well on its way to irrelevance, and this “manila pen brouhaha” will certainly not slow it down.

    in this day and age of

  39. Bert

    “I haven’t heard of any media linking arms around Iraqi Insurgents being engaged by coalitions forces, Have you? Although there was this journalist who decided to place himself in between US forces and Iraqi gunmen during a firefight so he can take a cool picture. He died of gunshot wounds.”-ptt

    So the journalist wants to take a cool picture, that’s his job, and he died of gunshot wounds. That’s bad for him. That also bad for you, sitting comfortably in your high chair blogging and blagging the media for doing their job, and for denouncing police abuse which could one day be your complain, too?

  40. manuelbuencamino

    And MLQ draws the lines:

    “and again, it goes to the overall place one envisions the press has, in a society. if you worship order above all else, well that defines it. if you are willing to endure a certain amount of noise and even disorder because it is better than forced regimentation, then that settles the question. if you are confident you can get all the information you want to be a good citizen, without anyone else’s help, including people who devote their working life to obtaining information for you, then you won’t care.”

    Those behind DJB: form a line for your jackboots, whips, and brown shirts.

    Those behind MLQ: no need to form a line, you are free men.

  41. UP n student

    Bert: Ressa is basically saying that the arrests of the other bystanders during ManilaPen is legal and okay to continue, but that the arrest of The Press is illegal. Ressa does not say that it is out-of-bounds for Police and Military to ask civilians (even doctors and nurses) to stay away from a specific area where there is or there can be a firefight, but that The Press should be treated differently.
    I’m curious as to how the courts will proceed. I actually sense that our courts will rule against Ressa-et-al. I have not seen mention of where Ressa or deQuiros can demonstrate that they have been damaged (as in the Canadian court-case referred to by Vic). Journalism and investigative work is the normal answer to the complaint of “We can’t report if we’re not there”.

  42. cvj

    i think their disapproval of the media’s behavior, in general, has nothing to do with their sentiment vis a vis the administration, for or against. – Bencard

    If or when the local press is silenced, we better get used to Bencard’s presentation of reality.

  43. manuelbuencamino

    The sympathy of pro police state advocates for Il Douchebag’s philosophy does not surprise me at all. Hitler’s spawns are Il Douchebag’s clones.

  44. Bencard

    cvj, rest assured that the local press would not be silenced unless your “alternative”, junta-ruled, version of democracy prevails.

    mb, obedience to lawful orders of duly-constituted authorities is NOT being “pro-police state”. you are a columnist/journalist. shouldn’t you know better?

  45. cvj

    Thanks Bencard, keeps those samplers coming.

  46. DJB Rizalist

    MLQ3 asks, “djb, does your believe that freedom of the press is an inferior form of freedom, because a freedom of commerce, represent any sort of consensus view, or is it your personal contribution to philosophical thought?”

    Is the concept of a hierarchy of freedoms my “personal contribution to philosophical thought?”

    Hardly! my friend, you flatter me no end.

    For the balancing and ordering of the hierarchy of these rights, interests, freedoms and duties, determiing and punishing the violations thereof based on what has been contracted between and among the parties via their Constitution and Laws — that is precisely the work and vocation of the Courts.

    Such a hierarchy of freedoms is not just a concensus. It’s a philosophical underpinning of the Constitution!

    Yes indeed, Freedom of the Press and the Right to Know stand lower in that hierarchy than Freedom from Death and the Right to Live. Call it “inferior” if you like but that might lead to a complex.

    If this common sense does not suit a few who are aggrieved and perhaps secretly uphold a DIFFERENT hierarchy, where perhaps the Right to Sell tsismis is deemed higher than any other because of its allegedly salvific effect, then I must insist, though but gently, that it is these aggrieved who need “to come over to DJB’s side” — the commoner’s side– and accept that there IS a hierarchy of freedoms, rights and duties and that it is daily practice of the Courts to use a moral and logical calculus upon that hierarchy in determining what is just and fair resolution of the various actual controversies that arise between and among men.

    In this case it is a controversy between Media and Police in which an abuse of discretion is basically alleged against the police by the Petitioners.

    All I have shown is that it is the other way around. It is the Petitioners who abused freedom of speech by their disordered idea of Press Freedom (“We don’t have to obey public safety and security authorities in dangerous situations and never even want to be told to do so!”)

    It is the Press that has abused its discretion and distorted the totem pole by insisting they sit highest upon it.

    Ugh!

    To grant this silly Prayer, the Court would have to saw the totem pole in two places and put Press Freedom uber alles.

    Double Ughh!

    I’ve gladly suffered the innuendo that my passion for national security and public order is somehow a devotion to Italian dictators that ended up hung by their toes.

    But liberals can be fascists too and this conservative does not accept their claimed monopoly on the love of Liberty.

    I insist that Journalism is essentially a commercial activity for profit, buying and selling information as a commodity, not a charity nor a League of Superheroes. Contrary to their own self-conceptions, the media are not a privileged caste of benevolent, omniscient brahmins, but purveyors of data which they dress up, buy and sell as news, views and entertaining Lazarus idiotics.

    Thus, your precioussss Press Freedom is as safe from national security Right-to-Lifers like me as Free Enterprise Capitalism is!

  47. DJB Rizalist

    Which brings us round to the substantial issue of the Franchise Laws.

    These ought to either be abolished in toto or applied in toto. It is most unfair that the Franchise Laws apply only to broadcast. They should also apply to print. Perhaps with an added penalty or tax for being the biggest environmental polluters among the trimedia.

    The Print Media are responsible for HALF of the municipal solid waste stream, yet they have about TWICE the Press Freedom as Broadcast tv and radio.

    Is that fair?

  48. hvrds

    Till today a lot of right wing hawks bemoan the fact that it was the American free press that lost the war in Vietnam. The Tet offensive was brought to American living rooms in living color. We celebrate the 40th anniversary this year.

    All the pronouncements then of Defense Secretary MacNamara, the briliant technocrat with his charts and graphs and mathematical calculations of body counts. General Westmoreland came crashing down with moving pictures of the battle for the U.S. Embassy, the battle at Khe San, the battle for Hue and the battle in Cholon, Saigon.

    The planned and executed offensive brought almost total war to the Americans in S. Vietnam. They American were shocked and surprised at the ability of the enemy to mount a coordinated offensive when they had declared the war as good as over.

    It changed the mood of the people and the war was lost then. It took Nixon and Kissinger a further 5 years to work out their peace with honor defeat at the hands of the Vietnamese.

    LBJ knew he had lost the support of the American people when Cronkite of CBS declared after the Tet offensive that the Americans should withdraw. It was only then that the highest officialdom of the U.S. government realized that they were fighting a war for national liberation. They were the invaders.

    The freedom of the press prevented the U.S. government from censorship of the war. No one was charged with treason for aiding and abetting the enemy then.

    The Philippine press (all forms of media) is more a tabloid type of media. Even in the U.S. it is the same. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and the network news are essentially tabloids.

    Don’t expect to see real news except on a few business journals, newspapers, public media and on some satirical comedy shows.

    ABS-CBN, ANC and the rest are essentially more tabloids than anything else. The power of the broadcast media today even in its tabloid form put a man like Bush in the White House.

    It is utterly amazing how they shape people’s perceptions. So far one man stands out pointing the way for the rationale behind the problems of the U.S. -Ron Paul. Fiscal and Monetary policy of the U.S. is broken. It has been broken since 1972.

    Yet there is no discussion on ways to work out the problems behind this strategic anomaly.

  49. anthony scalia

    nash,

    “True. But please ask them not to use Threats to emphasize this. It does make our country look rather silly.”

    The gravity of the ‘threats’ is directly proportional to the stubbornness of media.

  50. anthony scalia

    Bert,

    lets define cross-fire, danger zone.

    1. the whole of Iraq and Pakistan can be classified as a cross-fire danger zone. reporters can still roam around, stay inside a military base

    2. but its a lot different if a reporter accompanies a company of soldiers patrolling a specific area in Iraq

    if soldiers can die in no. 2, so can ordinary civilians. the risk is almost 100% in no. 2.

    what our local media want is to be in a place like no. 2. actually the Manila Pen incident isn’t simply police making a routine patrol, its the police about to engage armed military men! and media want to be in the midst of this looming engagement!

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