Quailing before the Palace’s pet Magistrates

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Over the weekend, Thea Alberto’s report (Makati court junks media case on Manila Pen arrests ) sent shock waves rippling through newsrooms. And so, the editorials were unleashed: it’s now A crime to cover protests the Inquirer editorial.

And from Business World, the editorial I’d like to quote in full:

A coup against press freedom

ON FRIDAY EVENING, as we in the media prepared the news-record of the nation’s last workday and looked forward to easing ourselves into the weekend, a coup was sprung on us: a court ruling going against us and kept secret since its promulgation seven days earlier was released that evening – released not by the court itself but by the chief of the metropolitan police, Gen. Gerry Barias, himself a beneficiary of the ruling, being one of the defendants.

Evidently Barias had been favored with a first, and perhaps only, copy of the ruling and the opportunity to do what he could with it; we the complainants and our lawyers had been ourselves kept in the dark. Thus, Barias made his revelation at his chosen moment and to his chosen audience, an audience of one, as it happened – a newspaper reporter who, quickly recognizing the critical implications of the ruling on her very profession, sounded the alarm.

But the trick, as familiar as it is, especially to the police, always works. It’s not unlike getting a warrant of arrest just before court business closes for the weekend so that any prompt legal counteraction may be precluded, which in itself constitutes justice delayed at the first instance.

If Barias and the judge, Reynaldo M. Laigo, of the Makati Regional Trial Court, had not been in it together, it would be a huge surprise. The ruling itself was a surprise since the case had not yet been tried on its merits.

At any rate, all this is largely technicality, only the surface of the abomination. The abomination proper is the ruling itself, whose mere five pages are no indication at all of leanness or any other virtue in expression, but, rather, a betrayal of poverty of any sense of democratic principles.

The first four pages are little more than a recitation of arguments presented to make a case for or against the legality of the arrest, cuffing, and detention of journalists who ignored Barias’s order for them get out of the Peninsula hotel on November 29, 2007, as his men prepared to mount an assault against allegedly mutinous soldiers holding out there.

The ruling itself is rendered in two paragraphs and justified sweepingly under the article in the Revised Penal Code penalizing “resistance and disobedience to a person in authority.” No attempt whatever has been made to validate it against superior legal principles, such as laid down in the constitution, in particular freedom of the press. It declares that Barias’s order “was but lawful and appeared to have been disobeyed by plaintiffs” - the journalists, that is - and that in fact “they were so lucky” to not have been indicted.

It goes on to justify the way the police treated the journalists as “being in accord with police procedure.”

Effectively, the ruling puts journalists under the police, nay, at their mercy. It signals to the police that next time any journalist disobeys them they can arrest him, cuff him, haul him to jail, and detain him. It is frightening to imagine what, with such police and judicial mindset, can happen to practitioners in the provinces, where they are particularly vulnerable, as evidenced by the highest number of disappearances and killings among their ranks.

Indeed, Judge Laigo’s ruling sends the biggest chill yet across the media profession, because it kills a journalist’s last chance at keeping his freedom - freedom that he exercises not for himself, by the way, but, as constitutional watchdog on the powers that be, for all of society.

I think the editorial above thoroughly debunks the view (see Philippine Commentary) that the decision is some sort of deserved comeuppance for the press. And yet, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility points out,

This incident was the worst of its kind in the history of the struggle for press freedom since 1946. It was worse than any attempt by government to restrain the press during the several coup attempts against the Aquino government. The system for control of the press was clear during the Martial Law period, and there was little of this kind of manhandling of journalists at work. There is no such clarity for the protection of the press during this administration.

The license appropriated by this regime, its stretching the meaning of the law to include putting the “right” of the government to arrest those it claims to be obstructing justice above the constitutionally protected freedom of the press had to be stopped, together with its presumption that there’s a right way and a wrong way for the media to respond to crisis.

Deciding whether to stay and to continue to cover a developing story, or to withdraw from the scene is the editorial prerogative of a constitutionally protected press. No regime has the right to dictate that a decision to stay and cover is wrong and can be penalized. These issues, all vital to the capacity of the press to do its mandated duty of providing the public the information it needs, are among those that the class suit sought to resolve in favor of press freedom.

All writers really have to fight with are words; for that reason, fighting with words, a torrent of them, peppery, angry, indignant, is the appropriate thing to do. It is the first thing to do, but not the only thing to be done. The pen isn’t really mightier than the sword, at least, not usually. But more often than not, what the pen’s produced has a greater chance of outlasting whatever it is sword-wielders have accomplished.

That being said, the feeble regard the public has for its own freedoms and its own liberties (and with that disregard comes a sweeping disregard for that of others, and society as a whole), a disregard born not out of spite, but ignorance and the breakdown in the transmittal of culture from one generation to the next, means that it may be that Philippine Commentary’s plaudits for the judge reflects the majority view. Being on the periphery, and no longer at the heart, of the values society holds dear, is something the press can barely comprehend because it’s so unthinkable.

But there it is.

This leaves the writer -including the journalist- no recourse but to repeat the words of Martin Luther (not one of my favorite historical figures but one definitely marked by the courage of his convictions):

I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise…

Which is not to say writers instinctively seek martyrdom, though they may, indeed, glory in their suffering from a kind of persecution complex, the self-adulation of the suffering artist whose trials and tribulations may indeed be as much his own doing as they are the impositions of a cruel and ignorant world. You cannot, after all, argue with the kind of small-minded people who view all occupations as mere trades, and who cannot grant -because they cannot conceive, cannot imagine, thus, cannot comprehend- that some occupations, some professions, are as much a matter of having a vocation as they are a means to earn a living (honestly or otherwise). I Am a Bootlicker, I once wrote, as a manifesto of sorts, and it is very much true, in large part because it is the only truth made possible by circumstances that have changed very little since the Middle Ages.

Still, in the face of such myopia, there are times when the writer has no choice but to defy the law. The cleverer may be able to do it, right under the noses of the enforcers of the law, affecting a kind of bonhomie with those who adore the Revised Penal Code in the manner fetishists are aroused by hob-nailed boots. The lucky ones, too. It is human, too, to fraternize with one’s jailers. But all writers, sooner or later, must run the risk of running afoul of readers, fellow writers, publishers, advertisers, the authorities, the public, the state, its soldiers and policemen, the judges in their pockets and the financiers who have everyone else in theirs.

In the case of the court’s decision, there remains an appeal. And until that appeal’s played out, there remains hope. But even if hope of a rectification of the inferior court’s wrongs by a superior court proves fruitless, so what?

You keep buggering on: as long as you can. Until you have no other choice but to give it all up, hopefully temporarily, and write advertising copy or fluff for the lifestyle section when the hob-nailed boots finally kick in the doors of the newsrooms and enforce unity, rule of law, and national security at the expense of all else.

So the judge has given the cops carte blanche? Yet when did the cops ever really need that carte blanche? They always enjoyed it; nothing’s changed; it’s just been formalized but since when did the rituals of those always intent on your destruction ever really matter to you? What, they should have a conscience? And in its absence, you feel hurt?

They are as they have always been; you were luckier than most, and far longer than you should have reasonably expected. They have a point, after all. Whoever said you were special? Pearls before swine! But it was Jesus who said that, and he wasn’t one to quibble with Pilate’s citing the Roman equivalent of the Revised Penal Code, chapter and verse. Or even with the Pharisees, citing the Law of Moses: but then if one’s mission is to preach a New Testament, then run-ins with the proponents of the Old Testament are necessary.

Which, I guess, is my main quibble with the shrieks that have greeted the judge’s pronouncements. They ignore the point and more importantly, ignore the weakness of the judge. He quotes Revised Penal Code, chapter and verse. That set of rules was crafted precisely with keeping writers and anyone else with uppity notions firmly in check. Change the rules, you deprive judge of bully pulpit, and the cops of their legal billy club.

But until that can be done, you take your risks and you can only hope you calculated the odds correctly.

Even in the West the question of governments and the liberties of their citizens -and whether governments are encroaching on those liberties or have already done so, perhaps past the point of no return- is being earnestly discussed (in the media, of course).

In Mary Poppins and Magna Carta: British liberties have been eroded under Labour. Few seem to mind much:

The charge sheet against the government is long and damning. Besides its 42-day detention proposals (and earlier, failed plans to imprison suspects for 90 days), it is accused of colluding with America to transport terrorist suspects to secret prisons abroad. It has created new crimes, such as glorifying terrorism or inciting religious hatred, that, say critics, dampen freedom of speech. Those who breach one of its Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, introduced in 1998, can be jailed for things that are not illegal in themselves (such as visiting a forbidden part of town or talking to certain people). In 2005 the prohibition on double jeopardy – trying a person twice for the same offence – was removed for serious offences. The government has tried to cut back the scope of trial by jury…

…Despite Benjamin Franklin’s famous advice, the public seems happy to trade a little liberty for a little security. Surveys before the 42-days vote consistently showed public opinion in favour. More recent polling for The Economist shows broad public support for many liberal bugbears (see chart). Women tend to be more authoritarian than men, Labour supporters more relaxed about infringing civil liberties than Tories and Liberal Democrats, and richer folk more worried than the poor (full details can be found here). Half of the respondents were consistent in their answers to most questions; this, says YouGov’s boss, Peter Kellner, is rather high.

The poll suggests that people are vehement in defence of civil liberty and privacy when considered in the abstract. Confronted with specific situations, their resolve wilts, especially when specific security gains are promised (although administrative benefits can overcome libertarian instincts too).

And in the United States, blighted by the Grand Delusion of the Neoconservatives (see Book Review: Crisis in Central Asia), David Kaiser in his blog, History Unfolding, writes of the Manichean struggle “to preserve,” as he puts it, “the Anglo-American heritage of civil liberties.” He points to the case of Boumedienne vs. Bush , in which the US Supreme Court dealt with the taking away of the habeas corpus rights of prisoners in Guantanamo:

As Kennedy pointed out, the government is arguing that because of Guantanamo’s anomalous status, American governmental authorities can govern extra-constitutionally within it. He and his colleagues rightly rejected the idea that our government can simultaneously be a democracy at home and a dictatorship in a foreign possession. “These concerns,” Kennedy wrote, ” have particular bearing upon the Suspension Clause question in the cases now before us, for thewrit of habeas corpus is itself an indispensable mechanism for monitoring the separation of powers. The test for determining the scope of this provision must not be subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to restrain.”

(One might hope, parenthetically, that what Justice Kennedy pointed out in the majority decision, our judges here at home will eventually read) But anyway, Kaiser continues by taking the dissenters in the high court to task:

Chief Justice Roberts’s dissent is noteworthy because of the way that he stands the whole question on his head. Kennedy focuses on the right of the government to detain aliens under its jurisdiction and insists, properly in my view, that the Framers rightfully placed explicit restrictions on the government’s ability to detain anyone by denying the right to suspend habeas corpus except in time of invasion or rebellion. Roberts instead argues in effect that the detainees do not enjoy the rights of citizens and that the law Congress passed is adequate to protect any rights they may have. The majority, he says, “fails to show what rights the detainees have that cannot be vindicated by the DTA system.” By casting the issue in terms of the prisoners’ rights instead of the government’s, in my opinion, Roberts is standing the Framers’ intent on its head. Merely his attempt to specify a class of people whose rights cannot be precisely defined is, to me, chilling. Scalia’s dissent has received much attention because of his prediction that the decision will result in the deaths of more Americans, and he cites several news accounts claiming that detainees already released (not, to be sure, thanks to American federal courts) have perpetrated violent attacks abroad. (The possibility that their detention turned them into terrorists he does not of course mention.) But it is equally noteworthy that he spends pages and pages arguing that the writ of habeas corpus was never supposed to apply to places where the US was not sovereign–ignoring that no other country has exercised any authority in Guantanamo for a century, and ignoring the implications of allowing the government to rule territory in which it is not bound by the Constitution.

In another entry, Postscript to Habeas Corpus, Kaiser points out how one Justice who is the darling of the Right simply got it wrong:

Justice Scalia’s dissent in Boumedienne vs. Bush, which I mentioned last week, argued not only that more Americans would be killed as a result of the majority opinion, but that 30 detainees released from Guantanamo had already “returned to the battlefield” and had been responsible for a number of deaths. I do not know how often Supreme Court Justices have been caught putting false information into their opinions, but that is what has happened here. Some Seton Hall law professors, bless their hearts, have published a report exploding this data as an urban legend–one which the Pentagon had already had to repudiate.

My column for yesterday, Our anarchic republic, made reference to the blog Between The Lines.

91 comments

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    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Manolo, re: your column. I used to have a disdain for government bureacracies because i can see how much better (more flexible, more responsive) private firms are to those in the public sector. I believed then that the way to go is to dismantle government bureaucracies by privatizing as much of their activities as possible.

    Eventually, however, it dawned on me that these private sector firms are also bureacracies and even the Company i worked for can also be said to be a huge bureacracy. So the same as you, i began to have a healthy respect for bureacracies including government ones.

    Bureaucrats (despite the emotional baggage associated with the word) are nothing but specialists who are embedded inside a System. What makes even honest bureaucrats frustrating to deal with is when they do their work for its own sake, as an end in itself, without regard to the larger objective. We have to realize however that the same can be observed in systems (including social systems) in general. Once a system is established, the tendency would be for it to perpetuate itself.

    So the goal should be not to eliminate bureaucrats via privatization but improving the system in which they are embedded in and for this, you will need direction from their ‘top management’ (i.e. the career officials and/or political appointees), the ‘customer’ (i.e. the public) as well as the participation of the working level bureaucrats themselves. While the end result might very well be a smaller bureaucracy, this should not be the driving objective. Instead, it should just be an offshoot of the reforms.

    • nash on July 1, 2008 at 4:30 am

    The media should change their lawyer perhaps?

    Just a suggestion…

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 5:27 am

    What does the court ruling really mean?

    It does not make sense if someone were to say that the dismissal of charges is the equivalent of authorizing the PNP to wield the baton or use tear gas against media who are taking pictures behind police lines while covering the-next-Magdalo-“demonstration” or media who are moving in and out of a cohort of 30 to 50 Assumptionista-students and nuns marching towards the Supreme Court building.

    ————-
    Are the rules of engagement defined between media and PNP? If I were a newbie reporter, I will want to know the boundaries which the PNP has already defined where any (newbie- or oldtimer-) reporter should expect safety from a baton strike with 97%-or-better odds. It will not be a promise by the media of how they will operate but a promise by PNP of how they will operate.

    The next steps will be by the media — to push the boundaries. As Gandhi had done, so can Pinas media — push against the boundaries (as the media enlists lawyers and work the courts of public opinion).

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2008 at 5:39 am

    “it dawned on me that these private sector firms are also bureacracies”.

    There is limit to bureaucracy in private sector as far it is earning well to support its structural costs. Otherwise it will cease to operate without enough funds or earnings. Expanding bureaucracy in the national government keeps on feeding from taxes, collected or not. Future generations will pay loans guaranteed by national government making it a virtual cash machine for the elected officials.

    • Bencard on July 1, 2008 at 5:58 am

    the self-anointed ‘constitutional watchdog”, a/k/a jounalist, had it wings clipped for its erroneous belief in being above the law. the time-honored doctrine is that freedom is not a license. a “journalist” is not invested with absolute freedom as to immune him from lawful orders of the state exercising police powers.

    the suggestion that the ruling was not binding because it was not the result of a trial on the merits but only in the context of a preliminary investigation is naive. precisely the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether a crime has been committed and the respondent committed it. the court ruled there was no crime, so what is there to try?

    the suggestion of mischief in barias’ receiving a copy of the order of dismissal before the accusers is a stretch. what prejudice did the losing party suffer by that? the time to appeal is counted from the receipt of the order. what advantage did barias get for receiving it first?

    i resent the suggestion that the public’s lack of sympathy for the journalists’ claim of absolute freedom stems from ignorance. on the contrary, it comes from its collective wisdom to know that no person or entity , no matter how wealthy or powerful, has a superior right over another in the eyes of the law.

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2008 at 6:11 am

    ” It declares that Barias’s order “was but lawful and appeared to have been disobeyed by plaintiffs”.”

    The press people during the Penn incident if committed a crime should have been indicted and serve prison term. As it is, the state has found no basis to charge them, thus erred in arresting them in the first place. Judiciary is a co-equal branch of government and checks on the excesses of dominant police power of state. In this case, it has failed to protect the press from unnecessary arrest and detention without commission of crime.

    • d0d0ng on July 1, 2008 at 6:22 am

    The law is clear – charge violators, give them fair trial and let them serve their sentences.

    The state has found no basis to charge the media in court under the rule of law. In essence, the unnecessary arrest and detention is undue harrassment to muzzle the press.

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 6:29 am

    It appears that the operational word is lawful .

    The ruling signals to the police that the next time any journalist disobeys a lawful police order then they can arrest him, cuff him, haul him to jail, and detain him. If the officer-on-the-ground has clearance from his superior, and that superior has authorization from his superior, and that superior knows paragraph/verse in manual related to the action, then the police action has a very very high probability of being lawful.

    (While faintly thinking of Gandhi) I agree with these words as next action-items:

    Change the rules, you deprive judge of bully pulpit, and the cops of their legal billy club.

    But until that can be done, you take your risks and you can only hope you calculated the odds correctly.

    • saxnviolins on July 1, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Bencard says:

    the suggestion that the ruling was not binding because it was not the result of a trial on the merits but only in the context of a preliminary investigation is naive. precisely the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether a crime has been committed and the respondent committed it. the court ruled there was no crime, so what is there to try?
    *****************************

    It’s a civil case man – For Damages and Injunction, with prayer for a TRO. I read a copy of the complaint.

    There is no preliminary investigation in a civil case.

    There are limited bases for a motion to dismiss in a civil case:

    1. The court has no jurisdiction over the person of the defending party. Not applicable, because the Defendants received the summons.

    2. The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter. Not applicable, because the RTC DOES have jurisdiction over damage suits and prayers for injunction.

    3. Venue is improperly laid. Not applicable. Makati is the correct venue.

    4. Plaintiffs have no legal capacity to sue. Not applicable. The Plaintiffs are of legal age.

    5. There is another action pending (the forum shopping basis). Not applicable here, Plaintiffs did not sue elsewhere.

    6.Cause of action is barred by a prior judgment (res judicata) or by the statute of limitations. Not applicable here, because there is no prior judgment and the action has not prescribed.

    7. Complaint states no cause of action. Not applicable, because this basis for a motion to dismiss hypothetically admits the truth of the allegations in the complaint.

    8. Claim on which the suit is based has been waived or paid. Nyet.

    9. Claim is unenforceable. Nein.

    10. Condition precedent for filing the complaint has not been complied with. Barangay mediation and conciliation? Dili uy. The Plaintiffs and Defendant do not come from the same barangay.

    • Bencard on July 1, 2008 at 9:21 am

    saxnviolins, i stand corrected on the nature of the suit. however, i think your no. 7 ground for dismissing the case applies, i.e. complaint states no cause of action, as found by the court. while you’re right in saying that a motion to dismiss presupposes “truth” of the allegations, the court evidently found that such allegations, even if true, do not constitute a cause of action. you see, cause of action is determined by whether or not a substantive right was unlawfully violated by the act of the defendant, not whether the act complained of was true or not.

    • KG on July 1, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I maintain that we have a bloated bureaucracy and I maintain that the government is the biggest employer.

    Sa customs not only do they hate privatization,they also hate computers.

    I agree with CVJ private corporations are also bureaucracies: example Lopez firms.

    You want to double or triple the bureaucracy’s size for more employment then let’s go federal.

    I agree that some government temp jobs are also from political patronage.i have myself as an example.

    i don’t want to say and lastly,baka me sabihin pa ako.

    • saxnviolins on July 1, 2008 at 10:18 am

    the court evidently found that such allegations, even if true, do not constitute a cause of action. you see, cause of action is determined by whether or not a substantive right was unlawfully violated by the act of the defendant, not whether the act complained of was true or not.
    ***********************

    Wrong again.

    Precisely, the complaint says that a right had been violated, that allegation is taken as true, for evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. One cannot make a contrary finding that the right was not violated, without going to trial to admit evidence as to the fact of violation or not.

    The complaint said there was no justification for the acts of the police, but the judge found justification without reception of evidence. He found the justification on the basis of “police procedure”.

    A “justified” act of the police is not a ground for a motion to dismiss in a civil case. Even in a criminal case, justifying circumstances (self-defense, etc) must be supported by evidence presented in a trial. The judge cannot make a finding of justification without reception of evidence.

    The dismissal has no basis in the Rules.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I seem to remember a summit called by the cops after the Manila Pen affair, to try to smooth out the issues and define boundaries and prevent cop-media confrontations like the Pen from happening again. I seem to remember the media representatives having none of it. They wanted absolute freedom not available to average joe-blogger.

    During the Pen siege, I saw and heard reporters reporting the positions of the cops live. From the point of view of tactics, this is probably moot because of cell phones, but media should be careful in reporting these things. The guidelines of the BBC for hostage situations IIRC prohibits their reporters from doing this live.

    I maintain that with technology that mega media can afford (cell phones, web cameras, etc.) reporters dont need to be physically present in a ‘crime scene’ and embedding journalists with the raiding cops, together with those gadgets, would offer a more complete story.

    If I were to make a choice between the cops regulating media and the media people freely reporting, I would choose to err on the side of freedom. But come on, media people, get off your high horse and sit down with the cops. Hold that summit. Solve this problem.

    • from below on July 1, 2008 at 11:01 am

    From a news item on VP de Castro’s visit this morning to Sibuyan Island.

    ” Explaining why the village was up in arms against mining, Marin said, “Our lives would be at risk from the erosion of our mountain.” ”

    De Castro retorted, “Why? Is the mountain yours?” He then said mining brought economic benefits and any mining firm was bound to comply with environmental laws or risk punishment.

    “Why? Is the mountain yours?” — what an answer

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Here is a labor-relations question.

    What are the health- and other employee benefits when a worker gets hurt or loses work-days (e.g. jail-time) from committing an illegal act?

    What are the health- and etcetera-benefits for an employee who gets hurt/loses work-days for commiting that the police says is illegal but the employee’s corporate-chain-of-command says is not?

    Isn’t there an obligation on the media-companies’ part to get a definition of the rules of engagement between their employees (reporters/journalists) and the police?

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    And… what have the union-leaders (union for reporters/journalists) said? Is the union not worried about the welfare of the reporter- and journalist-work force? That Manila Pen incident could easily have turned deadly and the next incident can also turn deadly.

    • BrianB on July 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    So? Take it to the supreme court.

    • Amadeo on July 1, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    MLQIII’s graphic shows one of Norman Rockwell’s vignettes on the Four Freedoms FDR propounded and highlighted for the American people during WWII. (BTW, I am fortunate to have acquired copies of the four poster-size vignettes.)

    Is it apropos and/or relevant to the issues being dealt with in this latest blog post?

  1. After reading this post, I thought this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller is especially apt.

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    • Bert on July 1, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Bureaucratic ladders in gov’t. offices are mulcting stations so, compared with private bureaucracies, they’re worse!

  2. Hay naku.

    Another foot stomping session about the recent blow against the forces of righteousness that uphold the people’s right to information.

    Boo hoo. My heart is bleeding all over for the victimised journalists of our great republic.

    While journalists scrambled all over one another (like that proverbial crustacean often used to describe Da Pinoy) for The Political Scoop, the issues that are TRULY IMPORTANT like gross negligence that, apparently had been deemed not newsworthy enough (i.e. not ‘strategically aligned to ad revenue targets’) for the last 20 years, came back to bite with a vengeance this year to the tune of 800 needlessly lost lives.

    Real classy, gents.

    And in case nobody’s noticed, people STILL queue for rice. Something our latest video production puts a lighthearted spin around. Check it out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIEYgacQ5UM

    And our society’s Crisis of Priorities rages on… 😀

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Karl (at 9:25 am), i don’t disagree about the bloated bureaucracy, and i think there is more than one way to go about addressing this issue. You can choose to decrease the number of people to match actual work or increase the work to match the number of people available. To me, however, this is only a secondary issue.

    The main point i was trying to make above is not to use resource utilization levels as the main criteria, rather it should be improvement of the system of delivery. You’ll get more buy in from the people on the ground that way. I also don’t think outsourcing to the private sector is appropriate in many cases (maybe some) not least because of the governance overhead between the Outsourcer (aka the government) and the Service Provider.

    I think Willy Prilles (who works in Naga City Mayor Robredo’s administration) spoke with wisdom when he observed in the context of New Public Management (NPM);

    it is unwise to put our faith wholly on market forces to provide all the goods and services required by society. Two, it is a disservice to NPM to assume that privatization is the only way to achieve a lean state; there are other tools that can pretty much achieve the same objective, such as decentralization. Finally, the devil is in the details; there is no one-size-fits-all formula to pursue NPM, and the choice of the most appropriate tools depends on a given context. – Willy Prilles, Reflections on NPM, Part 1

    http://www.nagueno.blogspot.com/2007/04/npm-reflections-1-on-privatization.html

    I would consider the above as taking a systems approach.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Speaking of market forces, is it considered ‘market failure’ that Sulpicio, despite Dona Paz, etc, continue to have customers? It seems that market forces should have run it out of business a long time ago. But it didnt.

    However, the fact that Sulpicio is still in business is being blamed by some as state failure for failing to enforce safety regulations.

    What does it say about us that a shipping company with a history of being a death trap is still in business?

  3. What does it say about us that a shipping company with a history of being a death trap is still in business?

    It says that our society’s tolerance not only for mediocrity but for in-your-face criminality is without bounds and without remorse.

    So while there is a lot of blame-the-government rhetoric, you are spot on about how the market continues to respond favourably to what is really a company that in a more SENSIBLE society would have been all but shut down WAY back in 1988.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Jeg, yes it is and it demonstrates the foolishness of relying on unfettered market forces. It shows that markets work best if it is embedded within a system of government regulation, which is something that those who favor ‘minimal government’ should consider.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    ‘I Am a Bootlicker’ is brilliant, btw. I dont know whether to laugh or cry.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    “Great nations were not built on good intentions. They were built on business sense. Real change in Pinoy society will never be achieved through the “sacrifice” of altruistic “heroes”. True change will be driven by people who find no shame in expecting a buck for their trouble.”

    – benign0, 09 Jan 2005 😉

    Looks like the owners of Sulpicio took Benign0’s lesson to heart.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    We are indeed enchanted. That there would be a continuing demand for Sulpicio’s services is baffling. But see, this is the same ‘market’ that we expect to choose our leaders. For that’s what our political system is: candidates offer themselves and their ‘services’ to market forces. And yet we dont want this ‘market’ regulated because, hell, that would be undemocratic.

    • KG on July 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    decentralization bakit parang nadinig ko na yan:

    THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE
    OF THE PHILIPPINES
    SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – (a) It is hereby declared the policy of the State that the territorial and political subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. Toward this end, the State shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, authority, responsibilities, and resources. The process of decentralization shall proceed from the national government to the local government units.

    bakit pa tayo maghahanap ng ibang approach,we already have a good approach we just could not make things happen.

    with automation in the last ten to fifteen years ago,we could have seen less people in government pero.ayaw nila umalis sa gobyerno kahit makatambay na lang sila tuloy pa din ang kita.
    Yung busy busihan na sinasabi I have seen that happen and you may have too. I wish we could have a singaporean style e governance,hanggang wish na lang.

    =========
    I had the same question sa sulpicio sa dinami dami ng accidente people still ride there.me nenaco me aboitiz but all of them have to compete with the airlines.
    dahil ba sa pagmamadali yan ;tulad ng pag sabit sa dyip yan alam natin delikado pero sabit pa din tayo wag lang ma late; kahit marami pang jeep na sumusunod nasa isip natin baka puno na din, dahil talong jeep na nakita nating puno.
    ganyan din sa mrt lrt alam natin lahat puno kaya sugod kahit masiko natin ang asawa natin o tatay natin, sugod.

    lumalayo na yata analogy ko,di ko alam ang sagot.i

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Jeg, there’s a difference. Democracy follows the logic of ‘one man-one vote’. Market forces follow the logic of ‘one dollar-one vote’. It is of course debatable under which of the above systems are we operating in.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Karl (at 3:57 pm), i don’t think it is fair to blame the victim.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Good one, cvj.

    However, I was alluding to choice, and whether or not we can trust our choices and decisions. If we can, then we have no need for regulation. If we can’t then we should regulate. Now apply the questions to our electoral process and see whether it needs more regulation or less, just as we should apply it to our choices in other aspects of our lives.

    In the case of Sulpicio still being in business, why would the market fail in this case? Which part of the market failed? The supply-side or the demand-side? And could the answer to this also apply to our electoral process?

    • PSImeon on July 1, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    “It says that our society’s tolerance not only for mediocrity. ” – Benign0

    “We are indeed enchanted. That there would be a continuing demand for Sulpicio’s services is baffling.” – Jeg

    The poor have very limited choices. And if GOP has not closed down the company, people would think things are better with the shipping line.

    In the same way, over at the Philippine General Hospital, many sick people only seek treatment when its too late, when they are dying.

    Do you believe people people would risk life and limb if they hade better options and knew the consequences of their choices? Think about it.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Jeg, granting that voters make flawed decisions, proposing regulation as an answer to flawed electrocal choices assumes that:

    1. We know how to regulate choices in such a way to produce superior outcomes.; and

    2. We are able to identify who among the voters make poor choices.

    I realize that elitists of various stripes have definite ideas on whom to exclude, but you already know what i think of elitism.

    As for the Sulpicio tragedy, it was a case of Information Asymmetry, where one party to the transaction (in this case, the seller) knows more than the other. It belongs to a class of problems in Economics known as ‘Principal-Agent’ problems. Passengers (the principals) did not realize know what they bargained for when they bought the ticket from Sulpicio (the Agent) e.g. defective engine, reckless navigation etc.

    Applied to our electoral process, that would translate to me (the Principal), not realizing that Gloria Arroyo (the Agent) would cheat in the elections and undermine our institutions in the process.

    • BrianB on July 1, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Media should stop playing politics. They see themselves as big players (media vs. pols) and forget their principles. It is the police’s responsibility to protect human life. Two things went wrong for media at the Peninsula: obstruction of justice and reckless endagenrment something-something. They were also suspected of collaboration, which is quite justified in my opinion.

    The principle in the ruling is sound. Human life over news reporting. MLQ has tackled this in the Ces Drilon case, I dunno why he forgets. Instead of playing politics with politicians, concretize your purpose. You are the eyes and ears of the public. If human life is more important than gathering news, why not find another way. Why not embed a reporter, with flak jacket, during operations. Or attach a camera equipment on team members of the raiding party. Lobby congress to make headset cameras a necessary part of these police operations.

    Most of all, stop forcing yourself in the personality bandwagon. You’ve been decrying the “cult of personality” in politics but crave to be like these “personalities” yourselves.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    PSI: Do you believe people people would risk life and limb if they hade better options and knew the consequences of their choices?

    No they would not. Can you see now why this is baffling? Unless youre saying that WGA, Negros Navigation, Aboitiz, etc, and the bus lines (with ro-ro and ferry) werent better options; they had atrocious safety standards as well but were just lucky, that is, these other modes of transportation are all the same.

    cvj: I realize that elitists of various stripes have definite ideas on whom to exclude, but you already know what i think of elitism.

    Whether whom to exclude from running or whom to exclude from voting, yes. So youre not in favor of any kind of regulation at all because of the uncertainty of the outcome? The yanks have the electoral college. Do you think that’ll work here? Anyway, Ive always maintained that democracy isnt about electing people and I dont care how we do it. The power of the people is in kicking them out.

    But I have a problem with the passengers not realizing what theyre in for when they bought their tickets. Sulpicio’s record isnt secret. Are we that fatalistic? ‘Kung oras mo na, oras mo na.’

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Jeg, the Electoral College is what gave the United States George W. Bush, who in the 2000 elections, lost the popular vote but won the electoral votes. How could you consider that a better outcome?

    Anyway, Ive always maintained that democracy isnt about electing people and I dont care how we do it. The power of the people is in kicking them out. – Jeg

    Even if i agree (for the sake of discussion) with your approach, isn’t the standard way of ‘kicking them out‘ (under a democratic system) via elections as well? So by extension, we still have to care ‘how we do it’, even if all we care about is the ‘kicking them out’ part.

    As for the unfortunate Sulpicio passengers, i knew it was just a matter of time before they get a share of the blame.

  4. There are four hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf who are likely to lose their heads. Yet why isn’t the Mass Media paying even one tenth the attention to their plight as they did to Ms. Ces Drilon?

    It says something about the righteous journalists doesn’t it. Whatever happened to the public’s right to know? Whatever happened to “getting the story” no matter what?

    Someone’s slip is really showing here. It’s disgusting! What a crock of hypocrisy is commercial journalism!

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Jeg, the Electoral College is what gave the United States George W. Bush, who in the 2000 elections, lost the popular vote but won the electoral votes. How could you consider that a better outcome?

    Somehow I knew that was coming. 🙂

    Aside from the fact that the college is a more proportionate means of determining the winner, that is, no one big state can skew the results by the simple fact that they have more people, in theory, the electors could vote against the party or against the popular vote. It was a safeguard the founders put in to protect against tyranny of the majority. Obviously they didnt do it in 2000, but they could have.

    Even if i agree (for the sake of discussion) with your approach, isn’t the standard way of ‘kicking them out‘ (under a democratic system) via elections as well?

    That’s one of them. We have others: impeachment, extra constitutional means such as people power revolts, and of course there’s armed uprising. Im not sure about people’s initiative if it’s applicable, but this is a method I prefer.

    Let me just state for the record that the Sulpicio passengers are blameless in this. They had nothing to do with the sinking of the ship. Blaming the passengers for getting on that boat is like blaming God for sending that storm.

    • Jeg on July 1, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    There are four hostages being held by the Abu Sayyaf who are likely to lose their heads. Yet why isn’t the Mass Media paying even one tenth the attention to their plight as they did to Ms. Ces Drilon?

    Ummmm…Self-imposed news embargo in a hostage situation so as not to jepoardize negotiations and endanger the lives of hostages? I thought that was SOP now. 😉

    • KG on July 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Who is blaming the victim?

    we ride buses kahit alam nating rolling coffin ito.

    Nung call center ako alis ako twelve pm papunta makati araw araw ako nagdadasal na umabot ako sa makati ng buhay,nakakita ako ng live na accidente ang masasabi ko lang buti di saakin nagyari.BTW I have been involved in vehicular accidents,the worst one was the one where I let my friend drive the car because I thought he was more sober than I am,That left me with permanent nerve damages.

    I am saying people ride sulpicio because for some reason it may have won the price war among its competitors,i don’t know even the instinct excuse of the dotc secretary was madaming pasahero kaya pinatuloy.

    that is not blaming the victim, it is not like blaming the user not the pusher, it is something more systemic, you have mentioned the sytems approach, a systems approach may make things better.

    I have mentioned the 14th congress senate having three versions of the coast guard bill, panahon pa ni shahani me mga bill na para sa Marina .how to propose a systems approach to them,ewan ko.

    I don’t like the blame game,if that looked insensitive ewan ko,pero madami pa ding sasakay sa sulpicio.

    una konti na lang ang mga barko di naman kaya lahat ng eroplano kahit sabihin pa nila piso isang ticket.

    ang nagyari ang aboitiz pinagbebenta na ang mga barko nila.
    ang sulpicio nakakuha sa japan ng mura at niretoke na lang nila,ngayon wala na yun.

    ang nenaco naman benta din ng mga barko to buy a newer used vesssel.

    I am not blaming the victim,as I have said no one is to blame and we are all stakeholders in this world.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Karl, Jeg, if your intent was not to blame the victims, then i stand corrected.

    Karl, i don’t agree that there is no one to blame.

    • PSI on July 1, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    In many countries, working in the government bureaucracy is as prestigious and rewarding as private employment. Especially in the English system and the meritorious services it nurtured India, Malaysia, etc. And who would not think of France with its prestigious National School for Adminsitration (ENA)?

    The idea is to preserve the bureaucracy’s professionalism by ensuring the highest standards for its entrants, providing rewarding careers,and protecting the service from politicans.

    • Karl on July 1, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Maybe I just hate the word blame
    siguro dahil I had too may forgive and forget moments
    I have learned to forgive that friend who wrecked my car kahit na nadurog ang panga ko,permanent nerve damage permanent screws on my jaw (mandible) I have learned to forgive and forget the cops that shot my cousin dahil ginagawa lang nila duty nila at di ko naman nakita kung ano talaga ang nagyari.
    too many of them..

    ok I was exaggerating before forgetting you first blame someone.

    social responsibility,social conscience or simply responsibility and conscience can not entirely remove the blame game kahit tawagin pa itong accountability.

    thanks for getting that out of my system,cvj.

    • Karl on July 1, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    Pwede na humirit sa pen?

    one week or a few days before the incident,me mga ads na lumalabas na me pagka anti gloria,how can the military and police not notice?

    it may not have been entirely a spontaneous combustion.

    I am removing all emotions in this comment and try to use a little of the common sense left in me.

    that dialogue can be fruitful if a true dialogue can happen between media and police.no stalemates.

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Even thugging gangs benefit from some sense of rules of engagement. The bystanders benefit, too.

    There is a beneficial information gained from identifying the line-items where the gangsters agree and where the gangsters disagree.

    Again, the bystanders become safer.

    • Bencard on July 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    saxvilins, you are the one who is WRONG. while a motion to dismiss presupposes truth of the facts alleged, there is no such assumption regarding matters of LAW. truth of allegations that an act is illegal is never presumed. only a court can rule on matters of law. allegations that a right has been violated, or that there is no justification for an act, are legal questions that only a court of law can decide. if you are a law student, GO STUDY HARDER.

    • UP n student on July 1, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    On language…..

    Karl, Jeg, if your intent was not to blame the victims, then i stand corrected.

    one other version could have been

    Karl, Jeg, if your intent was not to blame the victims, i apologize for mis-interpreting what you meant.

    • cvj on July 1, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    UPn, i stand by my original version. Their statements were open to that interpretation and they wouldn’t have clarified immediately if i had kept silent (at least until somebody else offered up that interpretation).

    • KG on July 1, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    “one week or a few days before the incident,me mga ads na lumalabas na me pagka anti gloria,how can the military and police not notice?”

    since I can play the blame game too, Linda Olaguer Montayre is to blame for that manila pen incident.

    she played us well, sino ba ng humahawak sa kanya?fdnr, pca who gives her balls?

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