CJ Corona Impeached

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking!

Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. I’m just a guy with opinions. And you know what they say about opinions…

Today, the Philippine Senate has impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 20 to 3.

I’ve generally kept silent about the CJ trial, mainly because I know people who are rabidly pro-Corona and I don’t feel like getting into an argument with someone who’s obviously biased (I’m sorry my friends, we are going to have to agree to disagree now). Not to say I dislike him either. I’ve never met the man, I don’t personally know anything about his family. All I know is what I’ve heard reported in the news, media, etc. I’ve tried to hold my judgment until the end of the trial.

First: yes, the prosecution was terrible. Rushed impeachment complaint, bringing charges that are near-impossible to prove (“bias”? =/) fishing expeditions, “evidence” mysteriously appearing given by “unknown sources”. It’s all kinds of shady. To be honest, if the defense had rested their case right after the prosecution finished, they might have gotten a better outcome than this, maybe even won, who knows. The prosecution had next to nothing before the defense made their presentation. All they had were dollar accounts inaccessible to them, and the properties being declared with market value rather than acquisition cost. The defense made so many mistakes, it’s facepalm-worthy. Calling a hostile witness to the stand without knowing what she would bring, calling irrelevant witnesses, arguing that the foreign currency act restricted Corona himself from disclosing the dollar accounts; Cuevas (or whoever pushed for it) should be disbarred for even arguing that last one. They really had only one thing they had to explain, the co-mingled funds in the peso account issue. And even that they weren’t able to explain, with nothing to back up Corona’s explanation: no bank documents, no paper trail, none of the family members testifying that some of the funds were there, nothing!

The only things Corona brought with his testimony were ad hominem attacks, appeals to sympathy, appeals to authority and drama. While I don’t care if those arguments are presented to the media or via press conferences I couldn’t care less, but for the chief justice himself, the head of the judiciary, to be making such arguments in a quasi-legal proceeding? It boggles the mind, to be claiming that the prosecution is bringing forth charges without evidence, when your arguments consist of a conspiracy theory involving an unrelated agrarian reform case and the state of mind of your grandchild. Ugh.

To be honest, I was already leaning against the CJ the moment he accepted the midnight appointment from Gloria Arroyo. That was a terrible, terrible thing to do. You can say that technically it was legal and the Supreme Court upheld it but whatever. I don’t believe that we should be supportive of public servants just because they adhere to the minimum standards set by the law. I believe that with public office being a public trust, public servants should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens, even more so those who hold the highest positions in our land. Higher standards of integrity and delicadeza. Public servants should be like caesar’s wife: beyond any suspicion.  To accept that midnight appointment, while ruled to be technically legal, while it could not be proven to be for the benefit of GMA, was a terribly unethical decision for someone who should be the epitome of legal ethics. It would have been so easy to say “No, this is not right, I will not accept this nomination, I will not degrade the position of Chief Justice” and thus to end his career honorably (possibly even be chosen as the CJ at a later date). But pride, ambition, loyalty, whatever, he still chose to accept it, and it led to his downfall.

The interpretation of the FCBD act and the SALN law to his benefit is another example, an indicator of a preference of adhering to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law; of placing more importance to a law whose purpose was to encourage dollar savings than to a law that promotes transparency and good government. Is that the sort of shining example we want to give to the judiciary, that they should be placing their personal interests above those of the country?

And rushing out of the trial, claiming a low blood sugar attack, conveniently right after he dramatically calls for waivers from his “political opponents”, then coming back in a wheelchair looking dazed to try to get sympathy (what, there were no sugar sources anywhere in the senate building?). There’s no way to disprove the claim or to show it was staged (even though he had time to shake hands with some people on his way out of the courtroom), but you have to wonder if the CJ himself would allow that sort of shenanigans if he was presiding over the court. Not a very good example either.

There were very few real winners in this trial, but a clear one has to be the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. Despite all the incompetence of the related parties, he did the best job he could, presiding over a very fair trial, calling it straight down the middle down to the very end. Respect.

Also, time for a lesson in bad arguments (mostly for internet commenters): “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” – this is a logical fallacy called “Tu quoque”, a form of ad hominem. While this is great for bibilical parables, probably not the best argument to cite for legal proceedings. Sure, a whole lot of the accusers themselves are probably corrupt or misdeclaring their SALNs or whatever. Impeach them too. Impeach them all if we have to. (Fortunately for the president, incompetence is not an impeachable offense…yet.)

That’s my 2 cents. Now can we move on? We still have to prepare for the next circus, it’s coming in May 2013.

 

Elections 2010 – Annoyances

Expect long lines, hot and sweaty rooms and maybe disorganized Comelec. Here are some other annoyances I encountered (just a quick brain dump):

  1. The Comelec BEI and volunteers may be uncoordinated. I went to a waiting room at the first floor and got a number and was told to wait for my batch of 10 to be sent to the voting room at the second floor. After about an hour, we found out the voting room wasn’t aware numbers were being given out and had let some people start voting already. We went upstairs flailing like an angry mob and were fortunately given priority.
  2. People (i.e. idiots) keep trying to get ahead of people who were there before them, adding to the confusion. I was especially annoyed at a bunch of senior citizens who pushed ahead of us in line and saying they should be first because they were almost fainting from the heat. I understand that old people deserve some consideration, but even after they were told that they would be processed after the current people in line (about five people, including me) they still went ahead and basically forced the Comelec people to process them.
  3. Because there were a lot of idiots trying to get ahead, and of course the people in line being angry about the idiots, the Comelec BEI were quite flustered and themselves frustrated at the situation. They’re not used to handling this many people – I remember during previous elections it would take us twenty minutes tops to get in, fill up the ballot and be done. This time it took me about an hour once I actually got into the voting room.
  4. As a software engineer, I hate inefficiencies and there were quite a number in their procedures. The “book” of voter registration records for each precinct was needed in two queues – the one for getting the ballot and the one for putting the thumb print and indelible ink. So if you were in one queue and the voter book for your precinct was being used in the other queue…you’d have to wait! It seems they also
  5. PCOS machine glitches – happened twice, once before I went into the voting room and once while I was in line to put my ballot in. Apparently the machine only needed to be rebooted.

Overall it took me around 2 hours, including the stupid waiting period caused by #1. I cast the 26th ballot in my clustered precinct, I’m not sure how it’s possible to finish 1,000 voters at this rate.

Despite all the problems, don’t forget to thank the Comelec staff once you’re done, they’re overworked and underpaid, they could use the boost.

Good luck to those who have yet to vote, may your experience be smoother than mine.

Elections 2010 – My Ballot

For President, I’m voting Dick Gordon, because I believe that the Philippines should be a meritocracy where people are chosen as leaders based on the strength of their accomplishments and qualifications.

For Vice President, I’m voting for Mar Roxas, as he’s simply the most qualified and with the strongest history of government service. The E-VAT thing is actually a plus for him, as it shows he has the capacity to make difficult decisions if needed.

For Senators:

Sonia Roco: I believe she will live up to the advocacies espoused by her husband the late Raul Roco (whom I voted for in 2004). Focus: Education.

Risa Hontiveros: A solid history of advocacy and support for pro-people legislation during her two terms as AKBAYAN party-list representative. Focus: Healthcare, Women’s Rights

Neric Acosta: Former teacher and three-term congressman of Bukidon, with legislative history focusing on environmental concerns. Focus: Environment

Martin Bautista: A successful doctor in the US, decided to come back to the Philippines to offer to serve the country. Focus: Healthcare, including reproductive health

Alex Lacson: I have to admit, I’m only voting for him because of his book “12 Little Things A Pinoy Can Do To Help His Country.” I’m a sucker for anyone who is able to point out to Filipinos that change has to start with ourselves, even with little things. It’s good to have new faces in the Senate instead of just the same old trapos. Focus: education, employment.

Adel Tamano: Originally I wanted to avoid voting for any NP candidates, given how ticked off I am by MV. But unlike the presidential race which is all-or-nothing, I prefer giving other parties some space in the senatorial race so that the Senate won’t be a rubber stamp of the administration. Tamano is a good choice, he’s another former educator (was head of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila) and adds representation for Mindanao

Pia Cayetano: The only other NP senator I’m voting for. Her advocacies include health, education, environment, youth and women’s empowerment.

Miriam Santiago: A lot of people don’t like Miriam for various reasons (luka-luka, madaldal were some of the reasons people cited), but I’m not the sort of person to dismiss someone just because she doesn’t follow social conventions. Miriam has been around a while and doesn’t take any BS from anybody. Her presence in the Senate will keep people honest because she likes to call a spade a spade. At the very least, it will keep the Senate interesting. Focus: ???

I’m stopping at eight senators for now. None of the others particularly appeal to me.

For Mayor/Vice Mayor of Quezon City, I’m going with Bautista/Belmonte, mostly because I trust that Sonny Belmonte wouldn’t choose idiots to take over after his well-respected term as mayor.

For Congressman and District councilors, I’m abstaining. I don’t know who the candidates are, and even worse, I’m voting in a different district than where I’m currently residing, I have no right to decide the fate of district 3.

For party-list, I choose AGHAM party list (same one I voted for last time). It’s sad that they are supporting Villar, but I’ll just overlook that since I’m strongly leaning towards their Science and Technology advocacy. S&T; isn’t usually a concern of ordinary Filipinos, but that’s something that has to change as it’s one of the ways we can climb out of where we are now and attempt to become an industrialized country.

Whew, composing this post took a while. I have to admit some of my choices were rushed (particularly for Senator), as most of my decision-making energy was spent researching the Presidentiables. Although things can still change between now and Monday, this will probably be close to my final ballot.

Pasmado


Pasmado 
is a term generally well-known among Filipinos. It refers to a condition of excessive sweating and/or trembling in the hands and/or feet. The concept is so well-known among Filipinos that it has developed several old wives’ tales of its’ own, such as the ever-popular solution of peeing on your hands first thing in the morning to get rid of the conditions.

I am pasmado. Sometimes at least, especially when under stress or it’s really, really humid. The reason I got to thinking about it was that I finally realized it was affecting the way I play in Magic tournaments. After a few rounds of playing Magic, it always happens that the card sleeves start sticking to each other due to my sweaty hands. It’s quite a distraction and one my opponents even commented on my sweaty hands after the post-match handshake.

I thought about looking for a solution (one that didn’t involve pee), and did a bit of research on the concept of pasmado online. The difficult part was figuring out what the condition was called in English. I asked a few people and none could give any decisive answer.

My brother claimed the concept did not exist in Western medicine so there was no English term for it. Some thought that the condition was fictional and only exists in old wives’ tales. Quoting a Pugad Baboy comic: “Kung totoo yung pasmado, ano sa English yun?” “Edi pasmatic”.

Eventually I dug up a thread about pasmado on yehey.com that told me what the English medical term was: Palmar Hyperhidrosis. Sure enough, Wikipedia confirmed that such a condition did exist . I even came across a website called CureSweatyPalms.com!

The Wikipedia entry cites several drugs that reduce hyperhidrosis and there’s even a surgery option for extreme cases. However, I didn’t want to spend on medicine or god forbid surgery just so I could play better Magic. I’ve lived with this condition for as long as I can recall so I can tolerate it most of the time. I’ve decided to instead to take up the simplest solution I could think of: I’m going to buy gloves.

My Thoughts On EDSA

Given what today is, I thought it would be a good idea to say a few words on the current brouhaha. Instead of just enjoying the holiday watching DVDs that is.

Just something I posted on a certain mailing list a few days ago:

I find it hard to believe that ousting GMA now would lead to any true change. We’ve seen what the countless political episodes have exposed: corruption at almost every level of government, both the executive and legislative branches beholden to bribery and extortion. The problems in our government are systemic in nature, and it would take more than the ouster of a single person to effect any meaningful change. Even if we were to find someone *with good intentions* to replace the president, he’s still likely to be swallowed up by the system.
Continue reading “My Thoughts On EDSA”

Drama at the Manila Pen

I don’t particularly care one way or another whether Gloria falls out of power or not. I suspect a lot of people don’t. And a lot of people probably don’t give a hoot about Trillianes either. I am however of the opinion that he is an idiot.

What exactly did he hope to accomplish yesterday anyway? The only difference between now and Oakwood a few years ago is that since then he’s gotten the pity vote to actually be able to call himself a senator.

I suppose he thought he could be some sort of spark that could start some sort of neo-Edsa or whatnot. But he’s not good enough for that. I like to think the Filipino people have gotten better at judging the BS coming from the mouth of politicians. Trillianes statements yesterday, full of arrogance and naked ambition, would not have sit well with many, no matter how simple-minded they think we are.

A Manila Penn guard interviewed on TV today summed it all up: “Naapektuhan lang ni Trillianes trabaho namin. Ang dami nyang hotel na nadaanan, bakit dito pa sya pumunta?” That’s my general sentiment: “You’re being troublesome. Go somewhere else.”

Bonus:

There was a media segment during the live coverage where a reporter was describing the actions of the soldiers as they prepared to invade the hotel. He was telling everyone on live TV how the soldiers were hiding near the entrance of the hotel. Way to blow the operation details. What, are they thinking no one inside the hotel can watch television?

Some Simple Electoral Reforms

1. Ban the distribution of sample ballots and election paraphernalia on election day within the vicinity of voting precincts. Seriously, check out the amount of trash generated on election day near the precinct:



And I noted that the current level of trash is already an improvement from last year!

In Quezon City at least, the local government seems to have been able to keep people from plastering campaign posters all over the place (relatively), so banning campaign materials on election day should not be too much of a stretch.

2. Disallow the usage of candidates’ nicknames for voting. If you are any kind of serious voter, you should at least bother to know your candidates’ full names!

I realize the above two “reforms” would at first glance make it difficult for voters when casting their ballots but that’s actually part of the point. I’m not sure that voting is supposed to be easy. The duty of each citizen is not only to vote, but to vote wisely and according to what he belives will be right for the country. You’re not supposed to rely on sample ballots or name recognition.

Sample ballots and nickname voting are crutches created to herd sheep into voting for people by name alone. Without these crutches, I’m hoping at least a few more people will be forced to think about the choices they make during election time. And that those who are too lazy to think get so put off by the needed effort that they don’t bother to vote. It’s our responsibility to vote, but if you’re not going to take it seriously, don’t bother!

Elections 2k7

I still don’t know how I am voting on Monday.

Or even if I am voting at all.

I’m thinking of voting for those 3 guys from Kapatiran, simply to reward the sheer chutzpah of their candidacies.

The GO and TU coalitions seem largely irrelevant to me, you can be fairly sure those coalitions won’t mean squat after the elections, so all these surveys keeping score of administration vs opposition seem a bit useless. I’m no lover of the GMA administration, but the opposition’s offerings don’t leave a very good taste in the mouth either. I’d much rather bring in new blood, non-politicians like the Kapatiran guys.

Or maybe I should just go with the recent ads that have appeared exhorting people to boycott the senatorial slots altogether?

This election seems so… bleah.

Although I should note, I think AGHAM party list is a good idea.

At least the mayoral elections in Quezon City are a no-brainer.