Wednesday, October 31, 2012


One of our family's worst kept secrets is the fact that our family home in Lianga is haunted.  When I use the term "haunted" I refer, of course, to the "infestation" of human dwellings by non-human and obviously otherworldly beings or those aptly termed tongue-in-cheek in local parlance as the "not like ours". Whatever is specifically haunting the house we in the immediate family circle, however, have never been able to determine with some degree of certainty.  Yet we are convinced that the hauntings themselves are real.

Those among our close relatives who do know about this (ehem!) skeleton in the family closet have ventured varying opinions as to what is causing what can be best described as inexplicable phenomena that have occurred at various times during the recent history of our fifty-year old home in this town.  Some have pinned their blame on dwarves or the little people who are so much part of the myths and legends of many peoples all over the world.

Others say that it can be any of the variety of spirits or invisible supernatural beings that inhabit this earth and this plane of existence and who, because of unknown or unfathomable reasons, have decided to co-inhabit this house with us. The beings, they say, can be benign or harmless although occasionally mischievous while others can be malignant and malevolent.

Monday, October 22, 2012


In a recent news interview, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has made the suggestion that the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity envisioned in the recently signed framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can be seen as an experiment which will test if a parliamentary system of government will really work in this country.  He has also been quoted as saying that "there is in the psyche of this country, a desire to adopt the parliamentary system" and that this desire was already expressed and proposed for implementation in working versions of both the 1973 and 1987 constitutions only to be overtaken by fate and other events.

In the same interview, he even goes further to say that there are no provisions in the 1987 Constitution that prohibits a shift to a parliamentary structure of government since there already exists in the country a multi-party system.  That is why, he says, the Bangsamoro can be viewed as a "good experiment on how a parliamentary system of government will operate."

The venerable senator, whose five decades in politics and public service has oftentimes been tumultuous and controversial, may have national renown as someone possessing one of the country's most astute legal minds but this recent less than subtle pitch for the nation to shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government in the near future should be, in my view, examined more closely and not merely taken at face value.  There is more here than meets the eye.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bridging the Divide

The signing recently in MalacaƱang Palace of the framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has brought many here in Mindanao new hope that true and lasting peace may not only be possible but realistically achievable in the near future.  But it is a hope and optimism that is tempered by decades of false promises, dashed expectations and missed opportunities.  After all, the savagery of war and its destructive effects on the many affected communities in the war-torn areas in Mindanao remains a disturbing reality of our times.

The framework agreement should be seen for what it is - a starting point for the hard negotiations that will have to hammer out the final peace agreement that will ultimately lead to the establishment of the new Bangsamoro political entity that it envisions.  Already it has been challenged and rejected not only by other rival Muslim revolutionary movements like the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who see it as a betrayal of the Moro or Muslim cause but also by non-Muslim and mainstream groups, legal experts and prominent politicians who see the accord as violative of the spirit and intent of the 1987 Constitution and thus problematic to justify both legally and morally.

There are also more than a few, even in Mindanao, who fear that the agreement may become a catalyst for the formation of more extremist and radical, Islamic breakaway groups like Ameril Umbra Kato's Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who have branded the moderate MILF as the vilest of traitors to the struggle of the Moro peoples and who continue to advocate armed struggle with total secession as the final goal rather than just settling for enhanced local autonomy under the Philippine state.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who's Bullying Who

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act No 10175 which was just recently signed into law by President Noynoy Aquino is now causing a growing storm of controversy both on cyberspace and outside it, the breadth and ferocity of which certainly caught the government by surprise.  The fact that MalacaƱang had been forced to speak up in response to the multiple legal challenges already filed against the new law in the Supreme Court and  the rising clamor from many sectors of Philippine society for certain portions of that particular law (specifically those dealing with criminal penalties for online libel) to be either removed or amended only proves, in my view, how cavalier and hasty if not capricious it had been in allowing this new edict to become law without really thoroughly studying its legal and moral ramifications beforehand.

Senator Francis Escudero, in a recent media interview, made the staggering admission that he and many of his colleagues in the Senate had failed to take notice that the provisions on online libel contained in the then proposed bill may be legally, if not also morally, questionable when they approved it.  He has promised to look for ways to amend or "tweak" the new law specifically to decriminalize the libel aspect of it although the civil liability portion may be retained.  Senator Alan Peter Cayetano also plans to file a similar bill in the Senate that would address the same issue.

How such presumably astute legal minds could not have seen the defects in this law when it was reported out by the congressional committee that studied it and when the same was discussed in the bicameral conference committee that hammered the final version of the bill that became the law is a fact that simply strikes me as beyond belief.  It appears now that only Senator Teofisto Guingona, who filed the only dissenting vote in the final voting for the bill in the Senate and who now is one of the parties formally questioning provisions of the new law in the Supreme Court, may have been the only prescient one who was able to recognize the then proposed law as legally objectionable at that time.