Curtailing freedom of expression redux

Moves in the House of Representatives to insert the words “”responsible exercise” in the freedom of speech part in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights is a revival of the same attempt made by the government of Gloria Arroyo in 2006.

Last week, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro (Capiz’s second district, informed the House of Representatives’ Committee on Constitutional Amendments of the proposal on Tuesday (January 16).

Castro proposed that Article 3, Section 4 of the Bill of Rights which states “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances ” should be reworded to “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro. Photo from UNTV.

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January 22, 2018 7:06 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Governance  No Comments

Duterte, Sara fail to declare P100M investments, documents show

By VERA Files

President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara omitted to fully disclose their joint deposits and investments at the Bank of Philippine Islands, which conservatively exceeded P100 million in some years, when they were mayor and vice mayor of Davao City, our analysis of bank records submitted to Congress and their annual net worth declarations shows.

According to the bank records, Duterte and Sara’s transactions with BPI, initially its Greenhills-EDSA branch and later the Julia Vargas branch, included:

• A P48.17 million placement in 2006 that grew to P55.13 million by 2013
• A P40.55 million investment in 2009 that stood at P41.72 million in 2013
• About $220,000, roughly P10 million, from 2006 to 2012
• The purchase of P80 million in insurance policies in 2014
• A P16.85 million investment begun in 2014

The bank records came from the Senate. Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV entered the documents that he said were from AMLC into the Senate records on Oct. 3 after delivering a privilege speech saying the president had more than P2.2 billion in questionable bank transactions.
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January 21, 2018 11:47 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Governance  No Comments

Carpio insists for China’s acceptance of Arbitral Court ruling for PH Rise research

Old massive corals grow in the bank undisturbed. This slow-growing coral may have a life span of up to 900 years. Photo by OCEANAUPLB.

The latest issue on Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, focused on Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio’s statement that China should not be allowed to conduct marine scientific research in Philippine Rise which the United Nations Commission on the Law of the Sea has recognized as part of the Philippine extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from the shore).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disagrees.

Carpio said, “UNCLOS is a ‘package deal,’ which means that a state that ratifies UNCLOS must accept its rights and obligations as one entire package. A ratifying state cannot cherry pick – accepting only certain provisions and rejecting others.

“By refusing to accept the award of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal pursuant to the dispute settlement provisions of UNCLOS, China is not accepting its obligation under UNCLOS. China should not be allowed to enjoy its rights under UNCLOS, like conducting MSR in Benham Rise, while it refuses to accept its obligation under the arbitral award. Otherwise, China is cherry picking and not taking UNCLOS as one package deal.”
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January 19, 2018 3:37 am  Tags: ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs  One Comment

Despite corporate questions, Rappler case still a press freedom issue

Photo from Rappler.

Despite Malacañang’s denial, there is no doubt that the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission to revoke Rappler’s registration as a media entity is a press freedom issue.

The SEC arguments seem solid for a non-lawyer like me but I wonder, had Rappler been supportive of Duterte, would the Office of the Solicitor General have filed a case questioning the ownership of Rappler?

On the other hand, even if Duterte hated Rappler, if SEC didn’t find anything amiss in their corporate makeup, would it have moved for the kill?

Journalist turned lawyer Romel R. Bagares posted this comment on Facebook which generated an informative discussion among his fellow lawyers, many of them advocates of free expression and are active in fighting the proliferation of fake news.
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January 16, 2018 9:45 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Media  3 Comments

Duterte cannot choose not to be a statesman

Pres. Duterte receives the credentials of Ambassador-Designate of Malta to the Philippines John Aquilino in Malacañan Palace on January 9, 2017. Malacañang photo by King Rodriguez.

At the birthday party of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez last Friday, President Duterte again justified his being uncouth with the flawed reasoning that he did not study to become a statesman.

“Kaya ugali ko talaga, pang-mayor lang. Nung sinabi nila na hindi ako statesman, hindi naman ako nag-aral pang-statesman (My habits are for being mayor. They say I’m not a statement. I didn’t study to be a statesman.)
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January 16, 2018 1:49 am  Tags:   Posted in: Governance  2 Comments

Dungug Kinaray-a

San Jose Mayor Elmer Untaran congratulates Julbert R. Paloma, first prize winner in Short Story category and second prize winner for Poetry as Ritchie Pagunsan (left), one of the primemovers of Dungug Kinaray-a and Fr. Danny Tabuyan (behind the podium), chair of 2017 Kinaray-a writing contest, look on.

Whenever I tell people that I’m from Antique, the next question I usually get is “Where is that?”

I have developed a standard answer to that: It’s in Western Visayas, one of the four provinces that comprise the island of Panay : Aklan, Antique, Capiz Iloilo.

I do that in order that I would be spared the next question which usually is, “Is that, in Aklan? Or In Iloilo?”

Then I get asked, what’s the dialect there, Ilonggo? I say, Kinaray-a.
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January 9, 2018 11:22 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Antique, Arts and Culture  One Comment

Sir Jake

At Malaya’s Christmas party last Dec. 14, Sir Jake’s eyes lighted up while telling me that the Batuan fruit tree that I gave him many years ago that he planted in his farm in Lipa has been bearing fruit nonstop.

He complained, however, that he can’t seem to grow seedlings from the fruits and asked me to bring him another seedling.

I got him one when I went home to Antique for the holidays and was supposed to give it to him next week when I go to Malaya’s office.

Yesterday, I was shocked to learn that he has passed away.

Malaya Publisher Jake P. Macasaet

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January 7, 2018 10:23 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Media  No Comments

SM needs a heart

This can yet be the best Christmas story.

SM patriarch Henry Sy, the richest man in the country with a net worth of $20.3 billion can revise the narrative of his life – born to a poor family in Xiamen, in the Fujian province of China, he and his family came to the Philippines in search of a better life. From a small shoe store in Quiapo, Manila in the 1950s, his business grew into a multi-billion empire. He king of shopping banks, into banking, and real estate. His SM Investments, earned $6.7 billion in revenue in 2016, according to Forbes Magazine.

On his 93rd birthday on Dec. 25, he can do something that humankind will remember him for- visit former employee Paul Matthew Tanglao, 21, ask for his forgiveness for putting him into a miserable situation, rehire him or help him become financially stable.

Billionaire Henry Sy, Sr

Also, have all employees of SM, especially the supervisor of Save More Sta. Ana, undergo a training on kindness and humanness.
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December 20, 2017 11:26 pm  Tags:   Posted in: General, Human Rights  6 Comments

Duterte does not rule out nationwide martial law

Pres. Duterte peaking during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) – Laban Christmas benefit dinner for Marawi City at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City on December 13, 2017. Malacañang photo by Robinson Niñal.

Let’s brace ourselves up for martial law, nationwide. President Duterte said it’s a possibility.

Persistent questioning by reporters elicited this admission from the President in a talk with reporters in Fort Bonifacio Wednesday after delivering a speech marking the ceremonial demilitarization of captures, confiscated, surrendered and recovered firearms during the Marawi rebellion.

To avoid misinterpreting the President convoluted justifications for extending martial law in Mindanao including this time the New People’s Army, GMA7’s Joseph Morong asked him, “You are not closing the door to a national martial law?”

Duterte replied, at this time, “All options are on the table. There’s only one rationale there, the existence of the Republic of the Philippines. You threaten the existence of the Republic of the Philippines. I am sure that everybody will react and do what he must do to prevent it.”
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December 16, 2017 11:16 am  Tags:   Posted in: Military  One Comment

Why do supermarkets charge for plastic bags

When I complained about the removal of water stations where customers can have free water in SM Food Courts, another issue was raised by UP Professor Roland Simbulan about mall giant SM: plastic bags being sold in supermarkets.

Simbulan said: “The SM Supermarkets have actually made more money out of the ban on the use of plastic bags. They have been selling plastic bags to customers for two pesos each, whereas before the ban on plastic bags, these were given free to customers. We cannot also say that Robinson’s supermarkets are any better for they have also been selling plastic bags.”

SM Hypermart plastic grocery bag

Simbulan’s comment generated a number of reactions which simply shows that taking care of our environment which is being subjected to so much abuse (disposal of plastic products has become a major problem) is an emotional issue.

Here are some of the letters I got:
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December 13, 2017 7:38 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Environment, General  3 Comments