Monday, April 25, 2011
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) , which is a great tool for collecting news items, among other things. Pair it off with Google Reader and a Firefox app called feedly, and I now have all of my news compiled, making it easier for me to find links to stories I use in my blogging.
From a quick glance at the news items, I expect the following story lines to continue hogging the headlines:
The continued rise in oil prices - with the oil-producing nations in the Middle East and North Africa experiencing political turmoil, plus the growing need for oil by rising economic powers like China, it's likely that the price of oil, and, consequently, the price of gas, will continue to rise, making life more and more difficult for people around the world. Here in the Philippines, the Aquino administration will probably grapple with the idea of controlling oil prices in some way. Hopefully, this will not entail the government to allocate resources to what will likely be a bottomless pit.
The impending impeachment trial of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez - Having been soundly impeached by the House of Representatives, Ombudsman Gutierrez is preparing to face the trial in the Senate. While Gutierrez appears to be supremely confident that she will be exonerated by the Senate, she has to remember that impeachment is a political, not a criminal, case, and that means that the Senator-judges will have more on their minds than just sifting through the evidence, especially those who have an eye on reelection.
The firestorm over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill - The Roman Catholic Church has continued to hammer away at the President for having expressed his support for the bill, which, according to its authors, is designed to provide a more informed choice for Filipinos to plan out their families more carefully, as well as improve the lot of poor families. Church officials, however, don't see it that way, and have planted their banner on the argument that the bill will legalize abortion, and nothing will budge them from that position. It'll be interesting to see how things develop over this issue.
The debate over the possible Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani - Some have dismissed this as a trivial matter, but it is probably not so trivial to those who lived through and suffered during the 21 years of Marcos rule. The fact that we are debating over this issue simply shows our inability as a people to remember, and appreciate, our past.
The NBA playoffs - The first round of eliminations is almost over, and most of the top seeds are leading their respective series. For myself, I'm rooting for the Chicago Bulls or the Boston Celtics to make it to the Finals, and, hopefully, once there, clinch the championship.
The return of Willie Revillame - with the Holy Week over, Revillame's show "Willing Willie" will be back live on air after a two-week hiatus due to the controversy around a six-year old boy's "macho dancing". Buoyed by his network's and his fans' unabashed support, one can only guess what the arrogant Willie is going to do or say next.
I'll probably wind up writing about most of these topics, as well as others not mentioned here.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The Jan-Jan/Willie Revillame issue heated up once more when the Suans, Jan-Jan's parents, filed libel suits against child psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang, and bloggers John Silva and Froilan Grate for various reasons: Carandang, for having labeled Jan-Jan's dance on Revillame's show "Willing Willie" as child abuse without having met with Jan-Jan, Silva for comparing TV5 and Revillame with pedophiles (apparently, they felt alluded to), and Grate for emailing the the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), condemning the parents for "subjecting their child to this horrible experience."
In addition, Revillame's lawyer, Leonard de Vera, slammed Carandang for having made a judgment on Jan-Jan without having met him, and imputed that Carandang is apparently part of a plot to destroy Revillame and TV5. While he doesn't accuse ABS-CBN behind such alleged efforts, he does mention Carandang's "affinity" to the network. ABS-CBN, of course, denied such allegations.
Silva and Grate, on their part, remain unbowed by the suit, and dismissed it as an attempt to intimidate them into not pursuing the issue. Silva believes that TV5 is behind the suit, and is using the parents to attack them.
I, for one, believe that the suit is an attempt to silence free speech. While it's clear that ABS-CBN has every reason to go after Revillame for breach of contract, I doubt that it's fueling the outrage over Jan-Jan's dance, which Revillame compared to that of a macho dancer. Silva and Grate don't appear to have any ties to ABS-CBN, and appear to be merely concerned citizens expressing their dismay at how low the Philippine entertainment industry's moral standards, as represented by shows such as "Willing Willie" have sunk. Jan-Jan's parents should be ashamed of themselves for having made their son dance that way on TV, and their inability to recognize that is a testament to the deterioration of family values.
It would be interesting to find out whether the Suans got any assistance from anyone in filing their suit; I'm almost expecting de Vera and TV5 spokespersons coming out with denials that they are helping the Suans. However, considering that Revillame and TV5 are now being investigated by various government agencies over the March 12 incident, one cannot help but wonder at the timing of the suit, and wonder whether this is an obfuscatory tactic to divert attention away from both Revillame and TV5. Well, abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
The current war between President Noynoy Aquino and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez continues as one of Gutierrez’s underlings, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni, resigns amidst accusations of usurpation of authority, and two others, Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III and Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit run to the Supreme Court (SC) for relief against moves by the Office of the President (OP) to remove them from office.
Regarding Jalandoni’s situation, he apparently usurped the functions of Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus when he “approved the recommendation to dismiss Antonio Baltazar's complaint against Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Rodolfo Albano Jr. and Manila Electric Co. president Jesus Francisco for graft and corruption due to a lack of probable cause.” (quoted from GMA7 website) Apparently, since Jalandoni is Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, he shouldn’t have had any participation in the issue, and yet he did. As a result, a complaint was filed against him at the Office of the President. Jalandoni, apparently wishing to spare his boss from further controversy, opted to resign instead of facing the charges.
As for Gonzalez and Barreras-Sulit, they have separate issues with the SC. Gonzalez is asking for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop his removal from office over his alleged involvement in the Manila hostage tragedy last year. Gonzalez is arguing that the Constitution states that only the Ombudsman has the authority to remove or sanction him (as implied in Article XI, Section 12). However, Section 8, subparagraph 2 of Republic Act (RA) 6770, the law creating the Office of the Ombudsman, states "A Deputy, or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process." What Gonzalez wants is for the SC to rule that part of Section 8 as unconstitutional.
How the SC will rule on this issue will be interesting, since there are apparently valid points to ponder. Does RA 6770 supersede Article XI, Section 12 of the Constitution, or does it simply implement how the Office of the Ombudsman operates? It will also be interesting to see how the SC vote will go, as it has been perceived in the past that, in matters regarding former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies, a number of them tend to vote in a clear bloc. I, for one, am looking forward to reading the SC decision on this matter.
Barreras-Sulit, on the other hand, is fighting the possible disciplinary action readied against her for her role in the plea bargain agreement with former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia. According to the terms of the agreement, Garcia was to return P135 million, out of an alleged P300 million, in exchange for his freedom. The agreement has been widely seen as a cop-out, despite public perception of the strength of the case against Garcia.
Gutierrez, on her part, maintains that she is not at war with the President, although her actions speak more loudly than her words.
While I applaud the President's efforts to root out corruption in the government, he has to make sure that he is applying the law evenly, since it has been perceived by some that Gonzalez, as well as the late hostage taker's brother Gregorio, is being made a scapegoat for the bungled hostage rescue attempt, while Undersecretary Rico Puno, whose responsibility was apparently control of the police, has remained untouched by any charges. Unless the President can show that the law is being equally applied, his current moves against the Ombudsman's Office will be seen as a mere vendetta or getting back at the former administration.
On the blogosphere:
Here's an interesting take on the Gonzalez issue.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The resolution is a grave insult to those whose lives were destroyed by the martial law regime of the Marcoses, and, as Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Amando Doronila puts it, a repudiation of the EDSA mandate. In another column, Doronila scores what he sees as the rehabilitation of the Marcoses, despite the fact that the Marcoses have never shown any contrition about their excesses and crimes during the 21 years that they plundered the country and brutally suppressed any opposition to their rule.
The late dictator's son, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., even added insult to injury by claiming that, if his family were not ousted, his father's plans would've made our country "another Singapore". That he decided to say this close to the silver anniversary of the EDSA I People Power Revolution displays his lack of humility or contrition.
The Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP) issued a statement last Saturday our Araw ng Kagitingan, criticizing the House for the resolution, reminding the public of the crimes of the dictatorship and calling for vigilance against the current attempts to revise history, particularly the exposed fake war stories of the late dictator.
It doesn't help that the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released a poll result which showed that Filipinos are split almost down the middle on the issue. This only goes to show how forgetful we are as a people, and how we don't learn from past mistakes.
If it is possible for the Marcoses to rehabilitate their image, we, as a people, only have ourselves to blame, since we have failed to take to heart the lessons of EDSA I.
It's clear that all networks, not only TV5, have to be conscious of how they treat people on shows such as "Willing Willie" and "Eat Bulaga". Whether it be exploiting a six-year old like Jan-Jan, or having women dressed in skimpy outfits dancing for no particular reason except to titillate the viewers, networks have a social responsibility to remember that images such as these have a negative effect on their audiences. Such images send the subconscious message that they are perfectly all right, and, thus, poor Filipinos aspire to be such, since they believe that acting in such a manner will help them rise from poverty.
Artist Monique Wilson hits the nail on the head, as she challenged the networks to come up with more intelligent programming, and not "dumb down" the audience. In a story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Wilson also criticizes the networks for sensationalizing and spinning the news.
The problem is that the networks, by now, have so brainwashed their audiences that Filipinos have become used to the mendicancy perpetrated by the insipid shows, and have become so influenced by what they view on TV that reeducating them will be a difficult task. This is why we have to continue to hammer away at the networks, and force them to be more discerning about the quality of the shows they produce, instead of putting their profit margins ahead of everything else.
In the same rant, he blasts artists such as Lea Salonga, Monique Wilson and Jim Paredes for having criticized him on Twitter, and asks them what they've done for the Filipinos. Never mind the fact that it was Salonga and Wilson who helped pave the way for international recognition of Filipino talent, and it was Paredes who, with the APO Hiking Society, helped spearhead the removal of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In fact, if it wasn't for the removal of Marcos via People Power, free speech rants such as that of Revillame last Friday wouldn't have been possible.
Revillame also appears to be believe that the whole situation was orchestrated, allegedly by his former employer ABS-CBN. A quick read through Facebook would tell him that the outrage being expressed is coming from all corners, and not from ABS-CBN.
What Revillame overlooks is that his shows have encouraged Filipinos to look for the quick fix in making money, instead of encouraging them to be industrious. He appears to think that, by giving away loads of money for nothing, he is helping his beneficiaries. What he overlooks is that he is actually acting the part of the traditional patron, who holds his followers in thrall with his promise of easy cash. However, life doesn't work that way; the values of hard work and industry are forgotten. In short, Revillame is actually contributing to the continued eroding of our country and its culture.
I, for one, will not miss Revillame and his idiocy. However, I am sure that, as in the past, he will find a way to regain his pulpit, and continue to spread his gospel of Filipino mendicancy.
In the Philippine Star, Yoly Villanueva-Ong analyzes how a personality such as Revillame came to be.
Celebrities mentioned by Revillame in his rant react.
Marichu Villanueva and Ramon Tulfo defend Revillame, and question why he is being singled out, considering other networks also have questionable content.
Raul Pangalanan and Conrado de Quiros discuss the downside of ad boycotts.
TV5's legal team responds to the accusations against the network and Revillame. In doing so, though, TV5 negates its original apology regarding the issue.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
After CNN shifted to world sports, Charles and Hickman ended their partnership, and I lost track of both of them, as getting to watch the sports news on CNN wasn't as entertaining as when the two of them covered it.
I came across Nick Charles again this morning, and sadly learned that he was in the final stages of terminal cancer.
What impressed me is that, like the late Randy Pausch, the deliverer and author of "The Last Lecture", Charles has decided to face his impending death with acceptance and an upbeat frame of mind. Instead of being morose and depressed about his situation, Charles has made a conscious decision to accept the inevitable and make the most of the time left to him.
Like Pausch, Charles is preparing his 5-year old daughter for when he is no longer around, and has made videos for her to be able to remember her father.
Reading the CNN article brought tears to my eyes, and I can only hope and pray that, if I'm faced with the same situation, I'll be able to meet it with the same equanimity that Randy Pausch and Nick Charles have.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Below is a list of the webcomics I regularly follow, in no particular order; I've also included the update schedule, if it was given.
The (*) indicates a webcomic that contains adult content (contains some nudity); while there are some instances of nudity and sex, it is, for the most part, tastefully done, and rarely is it gratuitious (except for Least I Could Do, since it is a comic strip about an adolescent-minded, sex-crazy man.).
1. PvP by Scott Kurtz (gaming in general, updates M-F)
2. Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida (fantasy, updates daily) *
3. Looking for Group by Ryan Sohmer and Lars De Souza (fantasy, updates M/Th)
4. Least I Could Do by Ryan Sohmer and Lars De Souza (contemorary, updates daily) *
5. The Gutters by Ryan Sohmer and assorted artists (superheroes, updates M/W/F)
5. Ctrl+Alt+Del by Tim Buckley (gaming, updates M/W/F)
6. Evil, Inc. by Brad Guigar (superheroes, updates M-S)
7. Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques (contemporary, M-F) *
8. Sheldon by Dave Kellett (humor, updates M-S)
9. Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio (fantasy, updates M/W/F)
10. Weregeek by Alina Pete (gaming, updates M/W/F)
11. The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl (fantasy, updates W)
12. Catena by De Bray and Tracy Bailey (humor, updates M)
13. Drive by Dave Kellett (sci-fi, updates S)
14. Pictures of You by Gordon Twist (contemporary, updates M/W/F) *
15. Goblins by Tarol Hunt (fantasy, updates T/F)
16. Shadowgirls by David Rodriguez and Dave Reynolds (horror, currently on hiatus; updates M/W/F)
17. The Zombie Hunters by Jenny Romanchuk (horror, updates M)
18. Dead Winter by S. Dave Shabet (horror, updates twice a week) *
19. Piled High and Deeper by Jorge Cham (academic, currently irregular updates)
For more webcomics, you can check out this list; however, it is by no means complete.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Last week, Revillame took time on his show to blast those who criticized his making fun of a 6-year old boy performing a sexy dance. In the 10-minute rant, he accused critics of judging him unfairly, and, in response to a call for advertisers to boycott his show, made veiled threats that those who do would not be patronized by his fans. He also hit those artists who reacted to the incident on their Twitter accounts, challenging them to help the poor as he supposedly has.
Well, we'll now get to see how effective Revillame's threats are, as Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) has suspended its ads on Revillame's show "Willing Willie", where the controversial incident took place. According to an announcement made by the JFC Corporate Media, "Mang Inasal will be holding off ad placements from ‘Willing Willie’ this week." Mang Inasal is a restaurant chain managed by JFC, which also owns Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking and Red Ribbon. In the same news report, JFC media representative Pauline Lao also clarified that the other restaurant chains did not have any ad placements on Revillame's show.
Now, we'll get to see whether fans will actively boycott Mang Inasal, and whether it will have a significant impact on the chain's sales.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
The continuing war between the President and the Ombudsman has taken another tack, with the President’s firing of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III, for his alleged inaction of the case of Rolando Mendoza, which escalated into the Manila hostage tragedy, wherein eight of the hostages, Hong Kong nationals, were killed. Gonzalez was also cited for allegedly extorting money from Mendoza for a favorable decision on the case.
The Office of the Ombudsman did not take the firing lying down, as it immediately announced that, for all purposes, it was defying the President’s order, since, according to Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus Jr., the Ombudsman’s office had undertaken its own investigation into the matter, and cleared Gonzalez of all charges.
It is informative to take a look at Republic Act (RA) 6770, the law that defines the Office of the Ombudsman’s authority and powers. Article 8, section 2, clearly states, “A Deputy or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process.” So the President does have the authority to remove the Deputy Ombudsman, but the question that will be raised is whether due process was followed. Does the internal affairs investigation of the Ombudsman constitute due process, and, thus, Gonzalez is cleared? Or, does the report of the incident investigation and review committee (IIRC), wherein Gonzalez was cited for having asked Mendoza for P150,000 for a speedy and favorable resolution of the case, constitute due process?
It is likely that this situation will have to be resolved by the Supreme Court, which will then have to decide whether it still wishes to be seen as an Arroyo court, and side with Gonzalez, or whether it will recognize previous jurisprudence and the actual wording of R.A. 6770, and uphold the President’s right to fire Gonzalez. As the Filipino catch phrase goes, “abangan ang susunod na kabanata.”
* * *
On another note, there has been some talk about whether Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is still legally the Ombudsman. Law professor Alan Paguia opines that Gutierrez’s term as Ombudsman actually ended, since, as he argues, Gutierrez was only completing the term of former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, who resigned in 2004. According to R.A. 6770, the Ombudsman’s term is fixed at seven years, without reappointment; hence, according to Paguia, Gutierrez’s term actually ended in 2009. If this is true, then all of Gutierrez’s decisions and actions since that time are null and void.
Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz uses this point to echo Paguia’s theory that there is a massive cover-up going on. As Cruz notes,
“Who are those powerful and influential beneficiaries? The senators, congressmen, Cabinet members, governors, mayors and other officials whose graft cases were dismissed by Ombudsman Gutierrez. The impeachment process legitimizes her two years as overstaying Ombudsman, and therefore also her official acts during those two years, including the dismissal of graft cases and her approval of the plea bargain of Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia. If Merci was no longer the Ombudsman since 2009, those dismissals would have to be reinstated and the Garcia plea bargain voided.”
It’s an interesting theory, but, once more, studying RA 6770 provides some answers to Paguia’s and Cruz’s assertions. Section 8, Article 3 states,
“In case of vacancy in the Office of the Ombudsman due to death, resignation, removal or permanent disability of the incumbent Ombudsman, the Overall Deputy shall serve as Acting Ombudsman in a concurrent capacity until a new Ombudsman shall have been appointed for a full term. In case the Overall Deputy cannot assume the role of Acting Ombudsman, the President may designate any of the Deputies, or the Special Prosecutor, as Acting Ombudsman.” (Boldface mine)
So, apparently, when an Ombudsman fails to complete his or her term, whoever is appointed to replace him or her gets a fresh seven-year term. So much for conspiracy theories of Paguia and Cruz.
Cruz even questions why the legal team of the President isn’t raising the issue of Gutierrez’s term, and questions their competence and calls them ignorant. However, it’s likely that the President’s legal team has studied the law, and has seen that arguing that Gutierrez’s term has ended is a dead-end.
It’s important for us to be aware of the laws of our land, in order for us to be able to make informed and intelligent judgments on issues.
In the blogosphere:
Here's a well-written analysis about the Gonzalez firing.
Another blogger gives his own insights into the issue.