The aesthetics of redemption

My column for today is The aesthetics of redemption. It’s as much a response to items such as this one, see Clarissa Ocampo vs. Jun Lozada, as anything else, but also a reiteration of a point I’ve felt strongly about for some time, see She is as they are, from March 2, 2006.

In the news, Think tank to draft 10-yr economy blueprint: it’s about time such a think tank buckles down to work. What can we see, 10 years ahead? A provocative article in The Asia Sentinel says, a peso-dollar rate of 56 to 1! See Philippine remittances could slow: The global slowdown may mean a fall in remittances, the Philippine lifeblood, and an end to the party for the peso :

That said, the trend is clear and at some point it is likely to impinge on all remittance sources to varying degrees. High and rising energy and food import costs are also likely to erode a Philippine current account which has been in a healthy surplus for an almost unprecedented time. Looking ahead, the issue will be whether remittances will stagnate because of the US (and probably very slow growth in Europe), resulting in a weaker peso and the unwinding of a cycle that has taken the usually sickly peso from 56 to 40 against the dollar over the past three years, the fastest rise of any Asian currency.

Many would argue that the strong peso has been damaging the wider economy, encouraging imports, reducing the peso value of remittances, deterring investment in industry and agriculture, helping rentiers at the expense of productive capitalists. But to politicians, not least Arroyo, it is a virility symbol.

The nation has become so dependent on the seemingly endless increase in inflows which created the strong peso that any major reversal or even slowdown will be shock to the system. Don’t be surprised if the peso is back at 56 before the decade is out.

In History Unfolding, historian David Kaiser ponders the collapse of Bear Stearns in the context of the Baby Boomer Generation to which he belongs:

The Boom generation has never believed much in restraint, least of all in the economic field. We have cut marginal tax rates from 91% in 1963 and 50% in the late 1970s to 35% now, vastly increasing the incentive for managers to increase profits as much as possible–partly by cutting the labor force–because they can keep so much more of the proceeds. We have chpped away at the Depression-era restraints, allowing commercial and investment banks to combine during the late 1990s. (The Clinton Adminstration did impose fiscal discipline–probably its one real domestic achievement–but it paved the way for the coming crash in many ways as well.) We have developed new financial instruments like bonds backed by sub-prime mortgages that have been every bit as seductive as the Mississippi bubble in the early 18th century or prime Florida land in the 1920s. And by creating new institutions not subject to regulation, such as hedge funds, we have allowed clever Boomers and Xers to avoid the regulations that their parents and grandparents so wisely put in place. Last Friday almost became the Black Friday of a new generation when Bear, Stearns melted down. Bear Stearns, the New York Times informed me, works on 96.66 margin–of every $1 million it invests, $966,000 is borrowed. Much of those investments have now collapsed along with the subprime market, undoubtedly threatning a whole range of banks, hedge funds, non-profits and pension funds as well as Bear Stearns itself (since they are presumably the ones whose money Bear Stearns was playing with.) The Federal Reserve stepped in to ward off the catastrophe, but it will not be able to continue to rescue failing firms that way without implicating the whole nation in the potential crash.

The Warrior Lawyer points out why the Bear Stearns collapse matters to us:

Why should we care then if another capitalist enterprise should go under ? Banks like Bear Stearns serve a worldwide clientele of corporations, institutional investors, governments, and wealthy individuals. Its almost a given that the Philippine government has done business with investment banks like Bear Sterns and its kind and will continue to do so in the future. In a globalized economy, the fallout from a U.S. financial crisis will impact us adversely. The resulting volatility and panic in the US stock market will send shock waves to European and Asian markets. These fears and uncertainties are driving world stock markets to their recent lows. Furthermore, the US, one of our major trading partners, is already experiencing a de facto economic recession. This will dampen our prospects for continued economic growth.

Incidentally, remember the foreign analyist I met, back in 2005? See The President’s “sweet spot,” from July 28, 2005. He was from Bear Stearns.

During an economic downturn, or worse, in times of an actual shortage in basic commodities, a government has to wield its authority and at the same time, appeal to a reservoir of good will and expect a certain amount of instinctive obedience on the part of the population. You have to wonder what reservoirs the present administration has left.

In Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come? by Carl Mortishead (hat tip to Thoughtcrime), there’s this:

The President of the Philippines made an unprecedented call last week to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, requesting that he promise to supply a quantity of rice.

The personal appeal by Gloria Arroyo to Nguyen Tan Dung for a guarantee was a highly unusual intervention and highlighted the Philippines’ dependence on food imports, rice in particular.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Robert Zeigler, who heads the International Rice Research Institute. “We have a crisis brewing in rice supply.”

While Neal Cruz says Rice shortage, no; high prices, yes , prospects of a shortage or higher prices at least, is enough to inspire an impassioned plea from The Magnificent Atty. Perez:

Look at the sugarfields of Negros Occidental, where you still see to this very day, poor and uneducated laborers being paid so much less than minimum wage for backbreaking work. Look at the farms and haciendas that conveniently side-stepped coverage from CARP by allegedly growing “cattle” and having “agricultural corporations” on their land. Go to the farmlands of Capiz where in this age of tractors and the scientific method of farming you still see farmers tilling the land with the lowly carabao and drying their grain by the roadsides where it may be swept away by strong winds and rain.
You see, the problem is not that our population is too big for our food production to supply to. Our problem is that our current agricultural system for the whole country is still stuck on methodologies and farming techniques used at the turn of the 19th Century, which does not yield enough to feed our starving nation. Hence, we have to import food at a higher premium when we have the capacity to solve our own problems with the right farming science and technology.

A U.P. professor I talked to a few weeks back bluntly told me that our agricultural productivity is still at 1940’s levels while our neighbors have vastly increased theirs. And recall, as well, the observation by Dr. Michael Alba that the government isn’t keeping track of formerly agricultural lands being lost to real estate development, because of a change in methods (instead of having people actually conducting a periodic inventory of land, less precise aerial surveys, I believe, take place).

And, as usual, the problem’s compounded by another reality: that one of the many criticisms leveled against this administration is how smuggling is not only rampant, but allegedly condoned at the highest levels of government.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

263 thoughts on “The aesthetics of redemption

  1. in the end, whatever one’s individual advocacies may be, one must accept the public’s will — mlq3

    It’s interesting to note though that “public will” was not what drove Singapore down the road to spectacular prosperity. The same thing can be observed in the equally impressive rise of Malaysia, S.Korea, and Taiwan.

    Singapore to cite a standout example, was engineered from the top down by a single architect.

    And by the way, there is one name that provides a strong argument against this amusing beholdenness to “public will”:


    – 😀

  2. “f you are trying to bait me, forget it mister. you are not in my league!”

    Of course I’m not in your league. And thank god for that.

  3. if they weren’t hounded, they wouldn’t budge; if they budge, they can be made to budge more. it’s never futile because it forces other people to clarify their own stands and limits.
    But why concentrate the budging on the president Gloria alone. I never heard you budging, Lacson, Jamby and other politician that need budging. Is that bias or hypocritical?

  4. rego, there is only one president, and only one president with a cabinet, and only one president whose instructing her cabinet… you get the drift.

    in the senate, one senator doing anything has 23 others immediately chiming in and all decisions are taken collectively in that body.

  5. bencard, the point precisely is that individual prelates aren’t being neutral. they have taken sides. their choice -theirs to endure the brickbats, too.

    you are free to review what iv’e written over 14 years concerning the church and state.

  6. To the NFA, DENR, and Customs who are led not by competent people but by political appointees and who got us into this mess: A big F–K you for being useless!!! nash


    i think it wouldn’t hurt a bit if you could care to visit PCIJ Blog (pcijdotorg/blog) and read Ms. Malou Mangahas article about this imminent rice shortage which is about to become a global crisis.

    here’s part of that article.

    … A year ago, the Philippines imported 1.8 million tons of rice, or 16 percent of its requirements. This year, it hopes to buy at least 1.6 million tons, on top of a record production target of 17,33 million tons to raise self-sufficiency to 92 percent.

    Still and all, the law of supply and demand, a cruel, unbending equation, is fast catching up with the Philippines, on account of its fast-rising population.

    Local rice production over the last 16 years has grown from 6.09 million tons in 1990 to 10.02 million tons in 2006, or about 2.45 percent per year on average. This growth has been rendered meaningless, however, by the unbridled increase in the number of Filipinos — from 60.7 million in 1990 to 88 million in 2006. The national population is estimated to reach 94.03 million by 2010… By Malou Mangahas


    DAY 20…

  7. Benigno,

    Sometimes your staying power intrigues me.

    There are times when I wonder how your ideas “stand” for so long. (Of course I have a couple of ideas why but I’d rather not tell; it being Lenten season and all.)

    I was fortunate to have passed through an “area of knowledge” yesterday and saw several English-Tagalog dictionaries and vice versa.

    I saw dictionaries written by Maria Odulio De Guzman, Ana Adriano, J B Santos, etc…

    Also included was that of a Fr. Leo James English which happened to be the only one (english-tagalog tagalog-english) available in hard bound besides that of being available in paper bound.

    The foreword of that book edition was written by Jose Villa Panganiban who turned out to have been a director of the Institute of National Language. The dictionary was first published in the 1970’s. (I also looked it up in with the paper bound being available for 38 dollars. Maybe you’d like to purchase one from them.)

    In it, it listed the translation of the word “efficiency” in Tagalog as “kasanayan” and/or “kakayahan” (I faintly remember someone stating “kakayahan” several threads back already).

    Some of the earlier authors cited, listed much of the same as either of the 2 words or even both as well.

    Now I don’t know in what context you are using the word “pilit” but have you tried to use the word “forced”?

    And it seems you have adopted for use a new term (loser) as well as still employing the term “pathetic chump” in describing others. I can always use “your” terms to refer to “someone” presently in this thread, but I’ll pass; it being Lenten season and all.

    BTW, efficiency as a measure is relative. Nazi Germany saw the efficiency of the gas chamber while the Khmer Rouge noted the same on the pickaxe, shovel or even a plain plastic bag.

  8. Anthony Scalia,

    You might find the Republic Act No. 3019 ANTI- GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT interesting.

    Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. – In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: A) – K)

    (In some aspects, the mere requesting for something of value is already prohibited)

    Sec. 4. Prohibition on private individuals.

    (b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 hereof.

    And there is also the Omnibus election code where already the offer or promise of anything of value in a certain aspect is prohibited.

  9. Cvj,

    I’m just asking but did jaxius ever admit that the objective of the courts is “Order” because of law or did he just end with what you stated? (Probably viited his blog once but that must have been a very long time ago so I don’t think I read your exchange ever.)

  10. Benigno,

    And another end all be all defense which is getting to be typical of you.

    Happy Easter to you too.

  11. Justice League, my exchange with Jaxius happened in this thread in his blog.

    His relevant statement is:

    Philosophers and political scientists have, for centuries, grappled and are still grappling with the concept of justice. We do not live in a just world, someone said. Ultimately, order, rather than justice, became the benchmark of the governance of men. As such, “the law may be harsh, but it is the law.” A harsh law cannot be just, but why should we follow it? – Jaxius

    You can check whether i misread him.

  12. Cvj,

    Thanks for indulging.

    I’ve read the exchange now.

    You yourself stated the following in his blog –
    Now i discover that the ease by which those in power use the legal system to their advantage is because of the legal system’s built in bias for order, no matter its “source”.

    And Jaxius may have given that impression but I think he also made an admission in his quotation of a dialogue between Roper and St. Thomas More.

    “… The law, Roper, the law. …”

    It is the law that brings about clauses like Double Jeopardy, etc… which does not seem to point towards justice; well certainly as far as the victim will be concerned.

  13. Yes Justice League, as a reaction to Jaxius’ statement that i quoted above, my complete response was:

    Jaxius, I take it that you believe that when faced with a choice between justice and order, the legal profession believes that it is better to settle for order. Prior to your explanation, i had the impression that it was just unscrupulous lawyers (and judges) that facilitated unjust outcomes. Now i discover that the ease by which those in power use the legal system to their advantage is because of the legal system’s built in bias for order, no matter its source.

    As a layman, i thought the harshness of the law derived from its equal application of justice. Now i realize that this harshness comes from the possibility that the outcome will be unjust and that this possibility has been accepted by lawyers. I thought Bencard was just being cynical, now he appears to be more of the prototypical lawyer.

    I also told Jaxius that i believe that the St. Thomas More justification for giving the Devil the benefit of the law is less valid in today’s modern society. I repeated that point in thread after this…

    …this time in relation to the matter of truth.

  14. avengers, este justice league pala:

    thanks for the citation. applying that to the NBN ZTE deal:

    only Abalos made a bribery attempt, at Neri (the famous ‘may 200 ka dito’)

    thus far in that eternal circus called the continuing senate investigation on NBN-ZTE deal:

    no one said anything about another bribery attempt. the 2008 hearings just focused on overprice and kickbacks (how much each one gets), which are, strictly speaking, still potential, not actual.

    was there an allegation that anyone from the greedy group asked a share from a public official? if there is, and if true, then theres a violation

    as far as i can remember, the allegations of witnesses centered on the ‘distribution of potential spoils’ rather than on ‘who asked for a kickback from whom’

  15. One of the purposes of the codification of law is for the protection of the innocent. And interestingly, the “THING” that the law wants to protect the innocent from, is less his neighbor, but more his government. Double jeopardy is a good example of this item.

  16. cvj, when you stop giving the “devil” (the accused criminal) the benefit of the law, what if it’s you, or your beloved father, who is the generally perceived devil by the whole community? what are you gonna invoke then?

    when solomon decided to cut the child in half and give the pieces to the claimants who have equal rights to the child, wasn’t that justice? if it was, was it consistent with good “order”?

    when you rob a store using a toy gun to pay for your dying child’s hospitalization is it ‘justice’ to sentence you to prision mayor, or is it necessary for good ‘order’?

  17. Bencard, for ordinary people (like me and my Dad), the legal system and lawyers have their use in terms of protecting our rights and upholding justice. At the level of big-time cheaters like Gloria Arroyo and plunderers like Mike Arroyo, the law (and lawyers) serve to perpetuate injustice. However, the reality is that, in the Philippines, it is the latter that gets the benefit of lawyers (and even judges) because they are the ones with money and power. In this situation, truth and justice are hardly in the picture.

  18. using false and defamatory statement against the president and her husband will not get you anywhere in debating with me, except with like-minded people as you. if you need to be reminded, i was commenting in connection with your response to justice league (re your discussion with jaxius) wherein you were discussing the concepts of “justice” and “good order” and in which you make the outlandish claim that st. thomas moore’s dictum of giving the benefit of law to the devil is “less valid” in modern society. now, instead of responding to my post, you resort to your old dirty trick of reconfiguring the discussion to your vitriol against the first family. re-read my post and address it responsively, if you can. if not, it’s o.k., you don’t have to win in this game and prove you are as smart as you think you are. i think no one would care except maybe your immediate family.

  19. Bencard, the alleged First Family is central to our discussion because they are a counterexample to Ramon Magsaysay’s dictum that “Those who have less in life should have more in law.” which is the point that i was trying to make as a response to your first question (at 12:43am).

  20. cvj, are you now advocating a double standard? even “ordinary people” like you and your dad are not above the law, any more than the first family is. as i said before, the sun shineth on both the good and the evil. the same constitution, statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations, the same due processes, apply to each individual members of society without fear or favor. that’s why fg arroyo had to go to court to try to vindicate his honor, as everyone in his situation would do.

    inability to hire the best doctor to treat a disease, or the best lawyer to defend an accused, is a matter of economy, not justice. there’s no ‘injustice’ to being poor, nor to sufferings because of poverty, unless caused by the unjust action of another individual.

  21. cvj: “there is nothing inherent within the system of courts (of law) that keeps it from being used to perpetuate an injustice.”

    cvj, I am confused by the above statement and your exchange with jaxius. Could you clarify whether, in your view, it is the law or the application of the law by the courts which is unjust?

    Secondly, are you “grappling with the concept of justice”?

  22. Cvj,

    Seems you’ve been answered on the viewpoint of you and your father being perceived as the devil.

    How about when the “devil” turns on you?

    How ordinary is ordinary for you? Are Senators ordinary people?

    You were engaged in a discussion with Jaxius regarding Sen. Trillanes. In similar fashion to what UPN was saying; what if Sen. Trillanes somehow wins his case but the government continually press the same charges again. Would you allow him to plead double jeopardy? It may not have worked the first time for Sen. Lacson but what if the same charges on the Kuratong Baleleng are pressed again; would you allow him to plead double jeopardy also?

  23. Bencard, i did not claim above (at 1:23 am) that me and my dad are above the law. In fact, i said that we should be allowed legal recourse to defend against false accusations.

    What i pointed out is that the Arroyos have been using the cover of the law to shield themselves from the consequences of their wrongdoings. It may be in their personal (and their families’) interests but it is still unjust from the point of view of Society as a whole because they are using the legal system as part of a cover-up and in aid of their continuing crime while holding Public Office.

    Your statement above that “there’s no ‘injustice’ to being poor, nor to sufferings because of poverty, unless caused by the unjust action of another individual.” is something that i disagree with. Social systems (or its components) can be unjust even without any single individual being ‘at fault’ (from a legal point of view).

    David, both. Boths the laws and their application can lead to unjust outcomes. This is because there is nothing inherent in the legal system, absent an internal code of ethics, that can prevent it from being subverted by those with money and power (or by self-interest). Isn’t that what we are observing today? I am not grappling with the concept of justice in the sense that i can distinguish a just from an unjust outcome. The same cannot be said of those in the legal profession for understandable reasons. Jaxius told me that legal practitioners, because they have been confronted by hard cases where what is just is not clear-cut, have been grappling with this concept which is why they have settled for ‘Order’ as an objective.

    Justice League, relative money and power is a measure of ordinariness. Since i’m an ordinary person, i need the law as a defense against others. Senators (including Trillanes & Lacson) and other public officials have to be subjected to a different standard because of the powers of their Office. As i told Bencard above, we have seen how the powerful have been using the law (and lawyers) to their advantage. That is not justice.

    I have no disagreement with the principle of double jeopardy because i don’t think the legal system can survive without it.

  24. Anthony Scalia,

    From where will the alleged “200” to Neri come from? From the spoils, kickbacks, overprice, or what?

  25. Cvj,

    Are you suggesting that Senators like Trillanes and Lacson be denied the use of the law as their defense while/should the administration run after them?

    The power of the office of Sen. Trillanes doesn’t seem to be of much help to him as of the moment.

  26. Justice League, the Administration, with all its resources, cannot be put on a similar footing as the ‘ordinary people’. Trillanes and Lacson are entitled to defend themselves from the Admin’s lawyers and allies in the military as necessary.

    In contrast, in situations where the conflict is between ordinary persons versus Lacson and/or Trillanes, then the ordinary persons should have the benefit of greater protection by the law. Is Ramon Magsaysay’s principle really that hard to understand?

  27. Cvj,

    If an ordinary person owns a 300 meter lot occupied by squatters (who happen to be also ordinary persons) and that owner goes to the court; what should the court do?

    Supposing a similar 300 meter lot occupied by squatters is now owned by Sen. Trillanes and he goes to court; what should the court do?

    And I understand Ramon Magsaysay’s principle fair enough. In fact, I understand that there are more laws that directly affect the non-ordinary persons than the ordinary persons. The ordinary persons aren’t directly affected by laws that affect corporations. The “lowly” ordinary persons don’t get to be affected by tax laws too. And they definitely don’t have to file Statements of Assets and Liabilities.

  28. Justice League, i don’t have enough information in your hypothetical example to judge either way. The law in relation to squatters involves property rights, a matter that strikes at the heart of our underdevelopment. In certain cases, the decision should go to the lot owner but in other situations, it is the squatters’ property rights that must be upheld via formalization. The complexity in deciding this matter has a lot to do with the process of discovering the law as per Hernando de Soto:

    The law that prevails today in the West did not come from dusty tomes or official government statute books. It is a living entity, born in the real world and bred by ordinary people long before it got into the hands of professional lawyers. The law had to be discovered before it could be systematized. As the legal scholar Bruno Leoni reminds us:

    “The Romans and the English shared the idea that the law is something to be discovered [emphasis on the original] more than to be enacted [emphasis on the original] and that nobody is so powerful in his society as to be in a position to identify his own will with the law of the land. The task of ‘discovering’ the law was entrusted in their two countries to the jurist consult and to the judges, respectively – two categories of people who are comparable, at least to a certain extent, to the scientific experts of today” – Hernando de Soto, The Mysery of Capital

    The members of today’s legal profession have largely neglected this process of discovery. Worse, they have adopted order as a yardstick and have treated the attainment of justice as a bonus. That’s why no matter how many pro-poor laws there are, the advantage still goes to the rich and powerful. More than codification, it is the legal profession’s Code of Ethics that matters.

  29. Cvj,

    Very well, then I will use a real example.

    You previously stated that relative money and power is a measure of ordinariness.

    Socorro Alicia R. Quirino is the grand daughter of a previous President of the Philippines. She’s an entrepreneur, televison host and producer then of her own TV magazine show “Citiline”. Surely you would not consider her as an ordinary person.

    At 7 pm of September 23, 1995, Cory Quirino along with her wardrobe assistant Helen Salaver and temporary driver Panfilo Catuday were accosted, robbed and kidnapped by a group of people in Laguna. Contrary to popular belief, the group members were not associated with the NPA and were just ordinary persons.

    The group eventually separated Panfilo Catuday from the rest and shot him in the head.

    They then brought along the 2 for “entertainment purposes” as well as getting further money from Quirino’s bank.

    But due to nature (thunderstorm), they suffered an accident, which injured practically all of them. A samaritan family came by and brought them to a hospital where Quirino was able to inform the doctor that they were being kidnapped. Due to the injuries of Helen Salaver; the unknowing samaritan family agreed to bring them all to a larger hospital but by then the roads were blocked by policemen which led to the rescue of the 2 and the samaritan Magistrado family (owners of the van).

    Eventually the perpetrators were apprehended, charged, and found guilty.

    In situations where the conflict is between ordinary persons and a non-ordinary person such as Cory Quirino; how much benefit of greater protection by the law do you want ordinary persons to have?

  30. Justice League, looks to me like a straightforward case of kidnapping for ransom. It is just right the perpetrators to be penalized. Cory Quirino’s economic or celebrity status is not relevant.

  31. cvj, the ignorance of your argument is splattered all over your comments. any person accused of wrongdoing, including presidents and family, has every right to use the law to defend themselves – the same law that you and your dad rely to protect you. there you go again with your homespun verdict: “consequences of their wrongdoing”; “continuing crime”, says who? b&w, abs-cbn, hyatt 10, lacson et al., trillianes, et al., sanlakas, bayan muna, gabriela & some such extremist and media groups?

    are you saying God is unjust for allowing poverty to exist, mentally and physically crippled people to be born, natural calamities to happen; whereas rich countries abound with smart, rich, beautiful, and healthy people living in them? God created men and societies, didn’t He?

    you quote hernando de soto as though it will buttress the argument you are trying to make. all he is saying is that law is a living organism, not static or carved in stone. it grows even as man grows in reason and understanding. a lawyer’s learning process never stops. juriconsults and judges come from lawyers – men/women who pursued, and continue to pursue, specialized studies in law applying what they learn as practitioners, judges, legislators or professors. what in tarnation do you mean by “the legal profession has largely neglected” the process of discovering the law? that only happens when, for instance, a lawyer switches to computer programming as his life’s vocation.

    justice and public order are both objectives of the law. there are compelling situations when one must be tempered with (but not sacrificed for) the other, as in the king solomon example that i gave you. order cannot be the “yardstick” of justice, or vice versa, unless you have a particular, personal concept, or definition, of the two terms to suit your biases.

    btw, there are actually a code of ethics for lawyers and a code of judicial ethics for judges. both have real sanctions, unlike the so-called “journalists’ code of ethics” which, i understand, prescribes no retribution for its violation.

  32. Cvj,

    So who decides when a person’s economic or celebrity status is relevant or not?

    BTW, if it doesn’t matter how many pro-poor laws there are, and that the advantage still goes to the rich and powerful, and it is the legal profession’s Code of Ethics that matters more than codification; why bring up Magsaysay’s principle and what use therefore is your need for the law as a defense against others (rich and powerful) when you are as you say an ordinary person?

  33. what in tarnation do you mean by “the legal profession has largely neglected” the process of discovering the law? – Bencard

    Hernando de Soto wrote that lawyers are generally content to leave the law ‘as they found it’:

    In theory the legal community should favor reform because it will expand the rule of law. But most lawyers in developing and former communist countries have been trained not to expand the rule of law but to defend it as they found it. Lawyers are the professionals most involved in the day-to-day business of property. They sit in the key government offices where they exert a stranglehold on the major government decisions. No group – aside from terrorists – is better positioned to sabotage capitalist expansion. And, unlike terrorists, the lawyers know how to do it legally – Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

    As to blaming God for Society, i suggest you read the Sermon on the Mount.

    So who decides when a person’s economic or celebrity status is relevant or not? – Justice League

    Justice League, it is reasonable people both within and outside the legal system who have to decide given the context. If it’s a kidnapping like what happened to Cory Quirino, then economic status is not relevant. If the dispute involves property rights, then economic status becomes more relevant. If it involves a public official who misuses the powers of her stolen office to block justice, then it is most relevant.

    why bring up Magsaysay’s principle and what use therefore is your need for the law as a defense against others (rich and powerful) when you are as you say an ordinary person? – Justice League

    Ramon Magsaysay’s dictum is a necessary first step but is unfortunately not a sufficient condition for giving justice to the poor. To operationalize pro-poor laws, we need the willing and active participation of the members of the legal profession.

    Pro-poor Codified laws + Pro-poor Code of Ethics = Pro-poor action

    As it is, many lawyers, lawmakers and judges are content to be mercenaries.

  34. cvj: “David, both. Boths the laws and their application can lead to unjust outcomes. This is because there is nothing inherent in the legal system, absent an internal code of ethics, that can prevent it from being subverted by those with money and power (or by self-interest). Isn’t that what we are observing today? I am not grappling with the concept of justice in the sense that i can distinguish a just from an unjust outcome. The same cannot be said of those in the legal profession for understandable reasons. Jaxius told me that legal practitioners, because they have been confronted by hard cases where what is just is not clear-cut, have been grappling with this concept which is why they have settled for ‘Order’ as an objective.”

    cvj, As far as I know, the legal profession does have a code of professional ethics. Secondly, where the law is unjust (i.e. oppressive, discriminatory, overbroad, etc.), the legal system permits the law to be declared invalid or unconstitutional. Third, where the application of the law by the court is unjust (for any number of reasons, e.g. wrong appreciation of the facts, erroneous application of the law, etc., whether resulting from mistake or from corruption), the legal system allows the court’s decision to be appealed to a higher court. In sum, there are mechanisms within the legal system that can invalidate unjust laws and correct an unjust decision.

  35. Sorry, the equation should be multiplication (not addition)…

    Pro-poor Codified laws x Pro-poor Code of Ethics = Pro-poor action

    …to reflect zero action given zero Code of Ethics.

  36. David, the question is, how well is the code of ethics being implemented? How seriously do the lawyers take the pursuit of justice? In practice, it is the rich who can afford to hire good lawyers, judges can be bribed and lawmakers accept bags of cash from Malacanang. The reality is that in the Philippines, those mechanisms within the legal system that invalidate unjust laws and/or decisions may be there on paper but are mostly dead letter in the face of money and power. The members of the legal community have become active partners in the repression of justice.

  37. Cvj,

    So we’re definitely going to be BLACKLISTED by the International community for film and software piracy, etc…

    And then who decides now who are the reasonable people? And what is the purpose of reasonable people outside the legal system deciding on the matter?

    BTW, ARTICLE III BILL OF RIGHTS Sec. 1- No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

  38. Justice League, not sure where that reference to film and software piracy is coming from since i have not argued in favor of such practices. (Generic medicine is another matter though.) Anyway, I agree with the Bill of Rights but i don’t think that provision you cited gives the landlords and the oligarchs the license to use the law to deprive large numbers of Filipinos (for example the Sumilao farmers) the right to own property.

    I also hope you’ll agree with me that the Presidency is not Gloria Arroyo’s ‘property’.

  39. cvj, i’m familiar with the sermon on the mount, and i find nothing there that suggest poverty is “unjust” as you appear to postulate. on the contrary, it says “blessed are the poor in spirit for their’s is the kingdom of heaven”, and “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth”.

    the works of h. de soto (the economist, not the explorer) that you quote is obviously not from a perspective of one who is grounded in law. i don’t agree with his generalizations, and using them do not validate your homespun theories. of course lawyers are supposed to defend the law as they find it. the law is the law until changed or modified by a competent authority, which is the legislature. lawyers don’t make laws even though some members of the legislatures may be lawyers. in our system, lawmakers are elected by the people (electorate), therefore, it is the people who are responsible for the law that governs them, not the lawyers.

    with due respect to rm’s memory, the statement “those who have less in life should have more in law” is a political rather than juridical dictum, and should be treated as such. for one thing, it runs counter to the constitutional precept of equality before the law. it creates a double standard and institutionalizes inferiority. it is non-egalitarian. i think social justice, as articulated by justice j.p. laurel in the celebrated case, calalang v. williams, doesn’t mean giving advantage in law to the poor over the wealthy, rather it is the equality of the distribution of justice to all the components of society, including both the masa and the elite.

  40. Cvj,

    Didn’t you just write about that if the dispute involves property rights, then economic status becomes more relevant?

    So in a conflict between a pirated DVD seller and a film company over intellectual property rights; the economic status of each of them is going to be considered, right?

    And I was referring to “… nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” You wanted a separate and different standard for the rich and powerful, didn’t you? In the U.S., there was once a policy called separate but equal till the U.S. S.C. struck it down by saying separate is not equal (Of course, male and female toilets etc… don’t count)

    And if you mean PGMA has no permanent hold on it then definitely yes.

  41. Bencard, i think you misread the Sermon on the Mount if you believe that Jesus, by ‘blessing the poor’, does not consider poverty ‘unjust’. Why else would he later say…

    You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

    …? Jesus doesn’t sound too pleased with poverty and those who turn a blind eye on those who suffer.

    Didn’t you just write about that if the dispute involves property rights, then economic status becomes more relevant? – Justice League

    Justice League, there is indeed a discussion around how stringent intellectual property rights (a lot of which revolves around WTO’s TRIPS) are unfairly closing off opportunities for developing countries to catch up economically. However, my assessment is that film and/or software piracy would not be to our economic advantage.

    I do support relaxing intellectual property (i.e. patent) restrictions when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs. As far as real property is concerned (i.e. land), i have already stated my support for land reform.

    And I was referring to “… nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” You wanted a separate and different standard for the rich and powerful, didn’t you? – Justice League

    I believe that the rich and powerful (including those who have power by virtue of their public office) should not be allowed to use their wealth and power to gain an undue advantage when it comes to legal matters. Doesn’t such use effectively circumvent the equal protection clause?

    And if you mean PGMA has no permanent hold on it then definitely yes. – justice league

    I agree but i meant more than that,i.e. more along the lines of Manolo’s comment above (at March 18th, 2008, 5:18 pm)

  42. justice, sapul na sapul mo. mukhang nalito na si cjv at hindi makuha ang mga halimbawa mo patungkol sa gusto niya. hirap talagang makipagdebate sa mga abogado (lalo na at tatlo pa ata). 🙂

    but knowing cvj, i don’t think he will just give up so easily. 🙂


    DAY 22

  43. cvj, i’m still looking for a passage in the sermon where Jesus says poverty is “unjust”. of course, He is not pleased with the fact that some people are poor, and he commends those who would feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, etc. but He would not interfere with the natural order of things by eliminating poverty from the face of the earth. i think you are the one who is misreading the sermon to fit your argument.

    grd, i agree. cvj is not one to give up an untenable position. it’s personal to him. he will try to wiggle out of it and reformulate the discussion, and then say “that’s exactly what i was trying to say” (lol).

  44. Kawawa naman ito si Jesus, pati siya pnakialam pa sa argumento na wala naman patutugnohan.

    kong sa bagay, kong husgahan kaya natin kong sin-o ang magaling sa inyo, wala na man mangyari dahil wala naman tatanggap nang desisyon, di ba? kaya sabihin lang natin, puro kayo tama para sa sarili ninyo katuwiran..tawa naman si mang_kiko..hehehe..

  45. Cvj,

    I had my own issues with Intellectual property rights but mine centered on prices. It had something to do with the relative price of a blank cassete with a music cassette as against the relative price of a blank CD with a music CD. (But that’s another story)

    But regarding your issue on undue advantage, how would your proposed different standard address the rich (I’ll forego the powerful) to prevent them from using their wealth to gain your alleged undue advantage which you claim circumvent the equal protection clause?

    Are you planning to have the Public Attorney’s Office handle the representation of all the people? At which it will not be a different standard as it will be a standard for all.

    Well whatever different standard you are proposing; how many democratic countries employ it already?

    And regarding Manolo’s comment; I’ll just say that I supported both EDSA 1 and 2.

    BTW, all I really wanted was to find out if Jaxius just ended his explanation on order and justice with what you stated. I already got what I came for when he quoted Thomas More wherein Jaxius implied the Law.

    This issue just branched out into all sort of things.

    But if you re-read your post on March 21 2:02PM; you agreed on the need for the principle of double jeopardy.

    When an accused invokes double jeopardy and the court grants it; what kind of legal justice now awaits the victim? Will the victim still get justice in such a scenario? What then does double jeopardy serve if it will not lead to justice for the victim?

    Happy Easter

    Grd and everyone,

    Happy Easter

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