Thank you

Pope Benedict XVI’s final tweet

At 8pm this evening, Rome time, Pope Benedict XVI is saying goodbye.

When he succeeded the late Pope John Paul II nearly eight years ago this April, many of us had never known another pope. Yes, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had much to live up to against his well-loved predecessor.

But after so long, in a term racked by disclosures of the butler, Holocaust denials, and his own conservatism, he is calling it a day.

We hope he finds more solace as he stands down from the papacy, the first one to do so in over half a millennium.

God bless Pope Benedict XVI. And may we all pray that his successor be a strong leader in carrying the Catholic Faith.

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EAC@40

This week, we mark the 40th anniversary of our august College.

All week long, the EAC family will have numerous activities left and right designed to show the supposedly illustrious history of our school.

Despite the revelry that awaits us, we should ask ourselves, how far has our College gone? How much have we evolved as Emilians? Even with the efforts to expand our educational offerings, the facilities and the enrollment numbers that may not be accurate yet parroted by our paper…

…we cannot deny that our school was named after a Japanese sympathizer of a president whose life story was recently highlighted in a biopic that was anything but epic.

Yes, the educational offerings may be more refined than at the time of the pearl anniversary ten years ago. But is there any real substance to it, when our students’ history lessons are taught by professors who are ordered not to discuss anything negative about Kapitan Miong?

Think about it, ten years ago, our school was limited to just seven buildings, not to mention the EAC Gym which was not even that much complete; now we have at least eight. Back then, the dormitory at EAC 1 was still active; now it serves as the facilities for the AIS. Back in the day, many classrooms at EAC 5 were bustling; now at least half of them have become faculty offices for the SAS, once known as the College of Arts of Sciences (formerly based at EAC 1 as well,) and formerly split into the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science. The EAC Library itself was integrated with the Science Museum. The office of the Budyong Theater Art Guild at the EAC Bridgeway became the College of Radiologic Technology’s offices. Budyong was itself reformed into the Yaman Lahi Theater Arts Guild and even the Pangalay Artists Circle. Our school even hosted some events of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games – but suffered embarrassment thanks to a man who sabotaged plans for hosting an international dancesport competition (yeah, we’re looking at you, Joey Mallari!).

The Generals of ten years ago were pushovers in the leagues we competed in. During the interlude, the squad amassed a string of titles in the UCAA, UniGames, and the NCRAA – with three UCAA titles under their belts – one of which collected in an otherwise perfect season. One player from that illustrious squad now playing in the nation’s premiere basketball league – Ronjay Buenafe. Still, like ten years ago, our Generals are back to being pushovers, this time in another collegiate league.

As for the quality and the moral integrity of our paper, since the pearl anniversary, it has gone through so many up and downs. We were denied a chance to publish a special 30th anniversary commemorative issue due to politics. That same politics caused the first of many subjugations of the paper to admin subservience. We experienced a halcyon time of the paper being the students’ arm of decision – only for administration politics to rear its ugly head again over five years ago with the entrance of two advisers who sank the paper to lower depths. One of them even went further by banning veterans – save one – from joining subsequent Editorial Boards and demonized them before the serving staffers. It was understood that staffers would not be allowed to serve come junior year, but yet we have one that is in senior year.

These men rendered incalculable damage to the paper by even destroying traces of our past. And now, what kind of paper do we have, a paper that is suddenly as old as the College itself without even a shred of proof about our origins?

Go celebrate 40 years of our College’s existence Emilians, go and lap up the Kool-Aid they serve you, without even attempting to dig the truth further. Happy Anniversary indeed.

Newsweek: The End of Paper Route

An end to a remarkable journey.

This week, the popular news magazine Newsweek begins a new era in its operations. Starting January 2013, all future issues of the magazine will go digital, meaning all subscribers will be sent copies right on their mobile gadgets. The above issue hit newsstands on December 24, 2012, capping off a spectacular 79-year journey dating back to the release of the premiere issue on February 17, 1933.

This move is part of a partnership between Newsweek and the online news source The Daily Beast, wherein the publication will be called Newsweek Global. The publication management stated that the shift was prompted by increasing demand for getting news from online content. Continue reading

El Presidente

Makes you think if EAC even endorses this, knowing that it inculcates its employees against making history lessons that portray Kapitan Miong in a negative light.

Hard Realities

A national hero falls.

Photo credits from AFP

Sometimes, people on the top must be given a reality check – that all glory indeed is fleeting.

Manny Pacquiao is no exception – and Juan Manuel Marquez has finally done where countless men have failed.

Send the Pacman to sleep on the floor.

Just retire already Manny. No offense to our more pious friends, but your Christian beliefs have made you soft.

Obama 2012

The following is the full text of US President Barack Obama’s victory speech after his reelection, 6 November 2012. Let’s hope our politicians are as positive as him.

Congratulations, President Obama.

Thank you so much.

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Gov. Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics. The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley. You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.

A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this — this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag. To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president — that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go — forward. That’s where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin.

Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I am hopeful tonight because I’ve seen the spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I’ve seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.

I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.

I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president.

And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.

I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

RA10175: In the eyes of an ex-MAGDALO man

(The following is a lengthy discourse on the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, made by former MAGDALO Editorial Board Literary Editor Jose Jason Chancoco. This contains text from two articles. Republished with the Author’s express consent, original articles linked)

1. THE PROBLEM WITH RA 10175

Too much law books made me forget about the news. It was only last night when I learned that RA 10175 or the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012 has been passed into law. I have been hearing about it and thought that it was only a bill. But mistaken I was, for it is now a law. And dura lex sed lex.

But Article 7 of the Civil Code provides that a law must conform to the Constitution else it could be nullified.

So many writers are questioning the validity of this law. I for one blogged earlier that the measure ought to be unconstitutional because there is a fundamental prohibition to any law that would violate freedom of speech and expression. True enough, there are now petitions calling for its unconstitutionality. From what I have read in one petition, RA 10175 makes the convict liable for libel both as a cybercrime and as a felony (as punished by the Revised Penal Code). There is definitely something wrong with that given our rule regarding double jeopardy. This is aside from the fact that the 1987 Constitution as explicated in the case of Chavez v. Gonzales provides for a two-fold rule when it comes to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Namely, there must be: 1.) Freedom from prior restraint, and 2.) Freedom from subsequent punishment.

And I learned that Sen. Guingona was the lone dissenter, invoking the above doctrine.

In my limited knowledge of the law, I know that with the RPC provision on libel notwithstanding, there is always an allowance for the so-called “Doctrine of Fair Comment.” Well-placed and well-constructed criticism is always welcome in a democratic society. The law on libel is there, perhaps just to discourage people from bringing the law into their own hands by verbally maligning those who have wronged them. It then prods people to use the machinery of the legal system to attain justice.

The more important issue now is what constitutes “prior restraint”? In the Chavez case, it was the Justice Secretary and the NTC’s warnings to the media that continued airing of the scandalous “Hello Garci” tape shall be a violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act, hence a ground for closure and arrest. Would a duly enacted law on cybercrime or electronic libel constitute “prior restraint”?

But in the Chavez case the Supreme Court ruled that not every violation of the law will justify straitjacketing the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. The government must prove “clear and present danger”. And there was no showing that the feared violation of the anti-wiretapping law clearly endangers the national security of the State. Hence the DOJ and NTC warnings constituted “prior restraint” as they were delivered as part of official government function. The act does not have to be converted to a formal order or official circular to be considered a breach of press freedom.

Is a possible commission of electronic libel enough to restrain bloggers and social networkers from printing strongly-worded statements on issues they care about? Is there “clear and present danger” that the government would collapse because of it? In the case of Chavez, it was a mere order and yet it was shot down. In the case of RA 10175, it is not just an order, but a law, for that matter. Definitely, it comes under the purview of official government function and inherent State power which is law-making or police power. And Article Three of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is addressed to the State and its agents. It is a provision that would safeguard the people from possible government overstep on private rights.

2.CURSORY READING OF RA 10175

I have been thinking of what constitutes “prior restraint”. I really have to read the RA 10175 in detail to make up my mind. Although my opinion would be just a speck of immaterial dust because it is the Supreme Court that is the final arbiter whether a law is constitutional or not. The findings of the High Court may not be law and a mere interpretation of what the law is, but still, it is part of our legal system.

I have been thinking that RA 10175 specialized libel, in the sense that there is now electronic libel. The thing is, since the passing of the electronic evidence rule, electronic libel has always been possible. Only this time, with this new law, it has become more specialized.

Since the Revised Penal Code provision on libel has always been there, will this new law constitute “prior restraint”? For one, our law on libel has never been seen as “prior restraint” at least, not according to jurisprudence.

You see in the Chavez case the DOJ and the NTC was warning media entities that continued airing of the “Hello Garci” tape would violate the Anti-Wiretapping Law hence they threatened said entities with closure and arrest. In that case, the “prior restraint” or censorship was the warning, while the threat of closure and arrest constituted “subsequent punishment”. We all know that the SC ruled against such “warning” even if it did not come in the form of official government issuance or order. It was after-all done in furtherance of government function and was threatening to violate freedom of the press. The Court even ruled that granting that the continued airing of the tapes could lead to a possible breach of the Anti-Wiretapping Law, said “warning” was never justified. It constituted “prior restraint.” The only justification would be if there is “clear and present danger”.

In other words, the Court was saying: “Let them do their job, and if they violate the anti-wiretapping law, then so be it. They could be prosecuted later. You just have no business telling them to shut up.”

Now we have to look at RA 10175 if it has the same effect as the “prior restraint” in the Chavez case which came as a “warning” from administrative bodies.

Now reading the RA 10175 itself, we can see that it has provisions on cybercrime offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data systems such as data interference, cybersquatting, illegal interception, etc. It has something on fraud, identity theft, cybersex, child pornography, and of course, libel.

The provision on libel reads: “Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

You see, it specialized libel, in effect making it electronic libel.

And here is the provision that they say would make you think twice before doing an FB click or share: “Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.”

This one makes electronic libel a heavier offense than libel as a felony, or as punished by the RPC: “All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.”

Hence if you commit Inciting to War and Giving Motives for Reprisals via FB by telling China to “Get it on! We are ready to slug it out with you. Our OFWs there will start the fight!” (Of course, I don’t really mean this. Just an example) the FB status will be the electronic evidence as saved via “print screen”. And you will be imposed a higher penalty if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

And of course, there is the warrant requirement (without prejudice to provisions of law allowing for warrantless arrests and searches, of course): “Exclusionary Rule. — Any evidence procured without a valid warrant or beyond the authority of the same shall be inadmissible for any proceeding before any court or tribunal.”

I agree that indeed many provisions are vague specially those pertaining to who aids or abets in cybercrime and how. Hence there is the provision on the IRR: “Implementing Rules and Regulations. — The ICTO-DOST, the DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall jointly formulate the necessary rules and regulations within ninety (90) days from approval of this Act, for its effective implementation.”

Hmmm… So far there is nothing similar to that “warning” in the Chavez case. There is no warning for example, that if we post on FB scurrilous libels against China, tending to involve the country in a war with it and tending to expose our citizens there for reprisals on their persons and property, we shall be committing Inciting to War and Giving Motives for Reprisals hence we must be restrained from posting anything. Else, we will be arrested or our PCs or netbooks, confiscated. Nothing of that sort. Only that this law makes the law on libel so much fiercer.

How will the Court rule on the petitions?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

End of CyberFreedom

Legal Online Editorial Cartoon by Manix Abrera


In a matter of hours, the recently-signed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 will become effective – and with it, the beginning of another tribulation the likes of which have never been thought possible during the dark days of the martial law regime.

And yet, the public outrage is off the charts.
UN internet freedom is a right

What does this mean to you? It means that we are being denied of a right to express ourselves online… for the wrong reasons too. Simply sharing or liking post that the government deems offensive can net you some jail time? Is tweeting a grievance a criminal offense now?

This started because a certain senator plagiarized passages from a blogger and a famous US president into his speeches – and later said about the blogger “blogger lang yon.” Such brazen nonsense from him, yet he continues to dig his head into the sand, say he doesn’t get the revulsion against him and denies that he or anyone in his staff inserted a provision against online libel at the last minute. It’s a safe bet he is just waiting for the law to go into effect and he will go on a counterstrike – the sign of a cowardly and bitter old man. He’s in the same boat as the PNP who denies that they made these statements:

It is also hard to believe that our Supreme Court, in its first major test since the impeachment of Renato Corona, declined to issue a temporary restraining order against the Act. These justices have apparently forgot the one provision in our Constitution that actually targets these kinds of laws:

Section 4. 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.

To the Emilian, what does this law mean? The EAC administration will simply use this law to further crack down on our freedoms – to stop dissent against them. We wouldn’t be able to even speak up without the school stifling our rights. This is the revival of a time when our admin only listened to people it only wanted to hear from and a time when our publication was corrupted to serve them.

For our government, who speaks big about transparency and accountability, signing this law is a major step back without our president even knowing it. Some of our government officials have invested time to establish a social media presence to better interact with the public. If we make honest criticisms against them, would the authorities use this law to smoke them out? It is understandable that the law aims to stop crimes that have become too apparent in today’s wired world. Punishing those who commit online piracy, child pornography, cybersex, identity theft, proliferation of spam and plagiarism we can take but online libel we cannot. What is our government afraid of? That a redux of EDSA Dos done like the Arab Spring – a series of revolutions that spread like wildfire over social media – would come their way? Are they shaking in their boots now that the people have spoken up? They do, they just don’t want to admit it.

We have the power to be responsible in what we post as long as what we publish is backed up by solid evidence – but suddenly declaring it a crime to criticize wrongdoings or speaking up for our rights is the height of stupidity. Are we going to wake up one day and log in to our Facebook accounts to find a subpoena in our inbox – worse, we can’t even access the site at all? We may not care how countries like China and Iran treated their netizens and exercised their Internet controls, but this in all honesty we can say … it is not that farfetched for our short-sighted government and security apparatus to emulate how they did it. And this is a country who has one of the freest democracies in Southeast Asia and started a trend in non-violent revolutions long ago, not to mention being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, no less!

Eto ba talaga ang gusto mong Daang Matuwid, PNOY? Daang itinuwid sa paglilipol ng mga pambabatikos sa iyong pamumuno? Daang itinuwid sa pamamagitan ng isang batas na bigla-biglang napatupad kung kailang may mga mas importante pang panukalang nakabinbin sa Mababang Kapulungan? Sana makatulog ka ng mahimbing at hindi ka multuhin ng mga magulang mo ngayong gabi, dahil kung buhay pa sila, kahit sila hindi rin sasangayon sa ginagawa mo.

NO TO CYBER MARTIAL LAW! JUNK RA10175!

Martial Law@40

40 Years...

Daily Express issue announcing the declaration
Martial Law anniversary protest. Photo credit: Mark Demayo

(Note: We are taking a cue from an editorial published in MAGDALO, VOL XVIII-1, September 2002, which was about Martial Law. Since its been ten years after the issue was created and 40 years after the infamous declaration, we figure its time to take one more stab by reviving the text of that editorial and modify it to reflect contemporary times.)

My countrymen, as of the twenty-first of this month, I signed Proclamation № 1081 placing the entire Philippines under Martial Law…

-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, in an address to the nation, September 23, 1972, 7:15pm

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law. When an entire nation was brought to heel on the orders of one man.

How far have we gone after martial law? After EDSA I and II? After the death of an icon whose husband suffered during those dark days and whose only son is now holding the office she once held?

The youth have played a very essential role in the ousting of two tyrants, one of whom still goes out and about proclaiming to be above accountability behind a neck brace. Once, thousands upon thousands of young people lived up to the call of the time, to restore democracy and liberate the people from the shadows of a reemerging past, but as we now know, nine years of the Midget brought us nothing but shame.

Martial law will not be declared, but it need not be declared anyway. In the past weeks, we have come to grips with an idiotic senator/actor who tried to justify his copying of text from a blogger and a former US president into the various speeches he made. This same senator is now advocating a brand-new law – RA10175, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 – as a weapon he can use to get back at the people who truthfully criticized him online. This law, along with the Human Security Act of 2007 and the Data Privacy Act of 2012, seek to curtail press freedom and civil rights of the people. These are rediscovered camouflages of martial law – at a time when this administration seeks transparency in government and the elimination of red tape. How can this government even proclaim openness when it doesn’t even mark the Freedom of Information Bill a priority piece of legislation but grants such treatment to the RH Bill?

We must stand true to the vision of a just and civil society. Never again must we allow ourselves to fall under a dictatorship, even when the children of that hated man goes out of their way with peddling their versions of history, the kind being taught at schools in their bailiwick or even in the pages of Gregorio Zaide’s history books.

As we remember the people whose rights have been abused and whose families have been left grieving, we must keep watch on the possibility of a past recurring, the dark days of martial rule. Will history need a remedy, ultimately for the amnesia of the Filipino people?

Bernas on RH Bill

(Note: The following is an article written by constitutionalist and former Ateneo de Manila president Fr Joaquin Bernas in the May 23, 2011, issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, regarding the controversial House Bill 4244, otherwise known as the Reproductive Health Bill. This is has been a bone of contention between bill proponents and opponents for the past few days. The pro RH-Bill advocates claim it will help encourage responsible family planning and keep down healthcare costs … but the anti-RH-Bill campaigners, mostly religious conservatives backed by the Catholic Church, have gone overdrive to argue that this will trigger a moral degradation of society through sex and abortion. As the vote for the bill looms this coming August 7, Fr Bernas’ views on the subject are worth taking look once more.

Here is the original text of Bernas’ article, which can be found here.)

Fr Bernas

My stand on the RH Bill
By: Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas SJ

I have been following the debates on the RH Bill not just in the recent House sessions but practically since its start. In the process, because of what I have said and written (where I have not joined the attack dogs against the RH Bill), I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, I am considered a heretic in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane), and one of those who regularly hears my Mass in the Ateneo Chapel in Rockwell came to me disturbed by my position. I feel therefore that I owe some explanation to those who listen to me or read my writings.

First, let me start by saying that I adhere to the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception even if I am aware that the teaching on the subject is not considered infallible doctrine by those who know more theology than I do. Moreover, I am still considered a Catholic and Jesuit in good standing by my superiors, critics notwithstanding!

Second (very important for me as a student of the Constitution and of church-state relations), I am very much aware of the fact that we live in a pluralist society where various religious groups have differing beliefs about the morality of artificial contraception. But freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. Hence, the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief. As the “Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church” says, “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”

Third, I am dismayed by preachers telling parishioners that support for the RH Bill ipso facto is a serious sin or merits excommunication! I find this to be irresponsible.

Fourth, I have never held that the RH Bill is perfect. But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can. Because of this, I and a number of my colleagues have offered ways of improving it and specifying areas that can be the subject of intelligent discussion. (Yes, there are intelligent people in our country.) For that purpose we jointly prepared and I published in my column what we called “talking points” on the bill.

Fifth, specifically I advocate removal of the provision on mandatory sexual education in public schools without the consent of parents. (I assume that those who send their children to Catholic schools accept the program of Catholic schools on the subject.) My reason for requiring the consent of parents is, among others, the constitutional provision which recognizes the sanctity of the human family and “the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character.” (Article II, Section 12)

Sixth, I am pleased that the bill reiterates the prohibition of abortion as an assault against the right to life. Abortifacient pills and devices, if there are any in the market, should be banned by the Food and Drug Administration. But whether or not there are such is a question of scientific fact of which I am no judge.

Seventh, I hold that there already is abortion any time a fertilized ovum is expelled. The Constitution commands that the life of the unborn be protected “from conception.” For me this means that sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation.

Eighth, it has already been pointed out that the obligation of employers with regard to the sexual and reproductive health of employees is already dealt with in the Labor Code. If the provision needs improvement or nuancing, let it be done through an examination of the Labor Code provision.

Ninth, there are many valuable points in the bill’s Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles which can serve the welfare of the nation and especially of poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service. There are specific provisions which give substance to these good points. They should be saved.

Tenth, I hold that public money may be spent for the promotion of reproductive health in ways that do not violate the Constitution. Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution.

Eleventh, I leave the debate on population control to sociologists.

Finally, I am happy that the CBCP has disowned the self-destructive views of some clerics.