Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Are we better off now than we were 8 years ago?

That is the question. That is all that matters.

And please, do not listen to the spinners of malacanang and it's stooges in the media when it comes to our economy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Video of future GMA commercial with Bush

(link) (via) And she's been waiting to be invited to White House since 2005-- to do this sort of thing. If you watch the video, mapapansin mo na mine-memorize pa niya ang speech habang nagsasalita si Bush.

Cuz you can't afford to screw up this "once in a lifetime" opportunity.

Hillary: Help me pay off my debt

I guess Barack won't be helping her much in reducing her utang.



I need your help. I'm so grateful for all you've done for me. Today I need your help again to pay down our campaign debt so we can keep fighting together.
Dear John,

I made a promise to you, and I intend to keep it.

I told you that if you stood up for me, I would always stand up for you. You did more for me than I could have ever imagined, and I'm going to keep my end of the bargain and keep fighting for what we believe in -- in the Senate and on the campaign trail, helping to elect a new Democratic president and a bigger Democratic majority in Congress.

That relationship will endure thanks to the remarkable journey you and I have shared. But there's something else -- less endearing and I hope less enduring -- that our campaign has left behind: our substantial campaign debt.

I'm so grateful for all you've done for me -- all the ways you have given your time, energy, and financial resources. But today I am asking once again for your help ridding our campaign of debt so we can keep fighting together.

Contribute today to help us reduce our campaign debt.

As you know, I had to loan money to my campaign at critical moments. I'm not asking for anyone's help to pay that back. That was my investment and my commitment because I believe so deeply in our cause.

But I do need your help paying the debts we accrued to others over the course of this campaign. We put everything we had into winning this race, and we came just about as close as you can.

I will never regret the energy, effort, and passion we put into one of the closest and most expensive primary contests in history. But I need your help to move on to the next phase of our journey together.

Your contribution today will help us pay down our campaign debt.

You've done so much for me over the past 17 months, and I can never thank you enough. But I hope you know how much I appreciate everything you put into our campaign.

Sincerely,
Hillary
Hillary Rodham Clinton

P.S. Everywhere I go, people tell me what a big difference our campaign has made in their lives. Let's keep working together throughout 2008 and beyond to advance the causes we believe in and to advocate alongside people whose voices need to be heard.

Contribute

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

MTRCB butchers "Serbis"

sabi ni Dino Manrique dapat i-sara na ang MTRCB dahil dito.

I disagree. We need the MTRCB to stop films like the Erap documentary from being shown to the public.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"BDS" ni DJB sa PDI

I think Tito Dean is has it. I don't what the hell he is talking about. I don't see what he sees.

I don't understand DJB's anger towards the PDI. Why is he slamming the Inquirer only now about it's "extreme leftwing", "pro-terrorist" views when we heard little or nothing from him during his years as Inquirer columnist from 1996-2004? Hindi ba matagal nang "leftwing" ang PDI? Since 1986 pa? (lol...)

Wag naman sana niyang gayahin si disgruntled ex PDI-columnist Vic Agustin, na napaka sour grapes.

Warrant of arrest for Jun Lozada's wife filed by PNP

From Ellen Tordesillas:

Sr Estrella Casteleone forwarded to me this text from Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, star witness in the NBN/ZTE scandal:

A warrant of arrest was issued for Violet from the Regional Trial Court in connection with the complaint filed by the PNP and Mascariñas.

We are posting bail. Violet is down.

They are trying to break me by hitting Violet.

The names of the prosecutors: John Erick Flordeliza, Joseph Guevarra, and Jessica Junsay-Ong.

Violet was charged by the PNP of perjury for filing a petition for habeas corpus for Lozada when her husband was kidnapped upon his arrival from Hongkong last Feb. 6.

Mascariñas is Police Senior Superintendent Paul Mascariñas whom Jun Lozada he met in a restaurant with lawyer Antonio Bautista when he was being given driven around. They even reached Laguna.

If you think just because the ZTE scandal has died down, the administration will let sleeping dogs lie, you're sadly mistaken. They are vindictive grudge-holding people who should have been thrown out of malacanang a long time ago after Hello Garci.

And this is their payback time.

Hope this serves as a warning and a lesson to ping lacson, jejomar binay and others, lalo na pag-election time na naman ulit sa 2010.

I'm glad the sisters are with Lozada, but the Bishops are with Arroyo. So talo pa rin si Lozada.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Billy Esposo slams Catholic Church Leaders

The Catholic flock is disillusioned when Church leaders support largely perceived evil rulers, when these Church leaders appear to be rationalizing and sanitizing evil. This is so reminiscent of Cardinal Richelieu, who effectively utilized his Church title to consolidate royal power as King Louis XIII's designated Chief Minister.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 20, 2008

DJB changes name of his blog

to Philippine-American Commentary.

And the reason for the change?

I'm tired of people accusing me of being PRO-AMERICAN when I've never denied it and have always proudly proclaimed it. You see, I've never had an identity crisis. I want everyone to know that to me nationalism as practiced by both the Left and the Right is mere tribalism. My nation is humanity. My republic is the whole world. My religion is Science and Reason. And I care more about the Future than I do the Past.

"This is a very clear intervention of God in your behalf. So be always grateful to Him and dedicate your life and your work for the glory of God."

(via) that's Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra, crediting divine intervention on Ces Drilon's release.

Ako naman, i would credit the ransom money that was paid for drilon and her crew's release.

UPDATE: Hah! i knew he would comment on this too.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

AFI's 10 Top 10

America's Ten Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres

Michelle Obama guest hosts on The View

Ann Althouse live-blogs it. (video link)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ces Orena Drilon and crew finally free

Good News.

UPDATE: News Blackouts and Media Embargoes

It's more common than one thinks. In fact, it is gov't policy when it comes to "live" cases of kidnapping

Eniwey, ito Sabi ni MLQ3:

1. Coming at the heels of the Peninsula Caper, the embargo will inspire the network’s critics to reassert their resentments and antipathy against journalists.

2. Having asked for a favor, ABS-CBN now owes the other networks and media outfits. Not a good situation, pragmatically to say the least.

3. The embargo as I said above, is only acceptable if it is taken, industry-wide, as laying down a precedent for all future coverage of all future kidnappings. Otherwise, it will simply reinforce the contempt of the network’s critics.

The precedent has already been set by the media, in cooperation with this administration, when it comes to "unsolved" kidnapping case.

Manila, September 17, 2002 (STAR) By Christina Mendez and Eva De Leon - The Arroyo administration admitted yesterday that a fresh wave of kidnappings last week has set back the government’s campaign against organized crime.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye made the admission as President Arroyo appealed to journalists anew to impose a news blackout on unsolved kidnapping cases to avoid compromising ongoing police operations and endangering the victims’ lives.

But at that time, many thought the move had less to do with concern for the safety of the victims and more of a "damage control" PR move by the government to put a lid on the negative news on the front pages due to the increase in kidnapping cases against the Chinese on an almost weekly basis after January 2001.

More from the PDI:

Macapagal seeks news blackout on kidnapping
Posted: 11:57 PM (Manila Time) | Sep.. 13, 2002
By Alcuin Papa and Juliet Javellana and Carla P. Gomez
Inquirer News Service

Silence, please

Speaking by phone, President Macapagal-Arroyo said she was “meeting with a major (TV) network” later in the evening to air her request to observe media silence.

She noted that the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the industry association, had signed a memorandum of agreement “with anti-crime NGOs (nongovernment organizations), the Teresita Ang Sees of the world,” not to report live cases.


Read this too (June 1, 2003)

‘Kill’ live kidnap
cases, cops ask

Posted: 0:39 AM (Manila Time) | Jun. 01, 2003
By TJ Burgonio
Inquirer News Service

OFFICIALS of the Philippine National Police and anti-crime groups Saturday appealed anew to the media to refrain from reporting on “live kidnapping cases” to ensure the safety of the victims.

In newspaper parlance, to “kill” a story is to have it not see print.

Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales' "Theology of Crumbs"?

From Asianews:

Manila (AsiaNews) – In four years Card Gaudencio Rosales’ “theology of crumbs” has enabled the Filipino Church to raise 161 million pesos (about US$ 3.5 million) for development projects in favour of the country’s poor. After collecting 25 centavos from parishioners and others, the archdiocese’s fundraising project is financing some 80 projects nationwide without government aid....

While some companies and individuals gave a lot of money, most of the donations were 25 centavos coins, said Henrietta de Villa, a Pondo ng Pinoy director.

Collections are growing each year and are not likely to slow down, like a “miracle.”


Theology of Crumbs eh? Pshhhh....! Ever heard of the "Theology of PAGCOR"?

Jinggoy Stuck on Stupid

When you have Opposition senators like this, who needs enemies?

Monday, June 16, 2008

How it Happened

After reading some of the old articles and studying the timeline of events on the ninez case, here's what i think happened.

1) the tribune and ninez published articles that had the FRAPORT people accusing influential lawyer Villaraza, Climaco and others within the Arroyo admin of extortion and harassment. One of the evidence that Ninez had was a tape that contains "illegally recorded" conversations between Fraport and their lawyers.

2) Villaraza protested and claimed that the Tribune articles were lies. He presented two letters of apology, one from Bender and one from Stiller, to disprove the tribune article's claims about FRAPORT extortion complaints.

More here:

But while Malacanang Thursday hailed Villaraza for coming out of paid advertisements that published Fraport lawyer, Dietrich Stiller's carefully worded denial letter to Villaraza, which was no categorical denial of either the taped Fraport conversations at the Shangrila offices of Fraport, or a categorical denial of his not ever having stated that Villaraza had demanded $20 million, paid offshore to an entity in Hong Kong, for legal and political services to be rendered in the background.

3) Since the Tribune refused then to back down from their reports, and FRAPORT's statements and letters at that time seemed to contradict the tribune, it looked like a "slam dunk" for villaraza when he went after ninez cacho olivares by filing all these libel cases agaisnt her.

4) But on Oct 2003, everything the Tribune had been reporting 5 months ahead of other papers re FRAPORT's ahem... "misgivings" with Villaraza were confirmed when the contents of the FRAPORT arbitration request was made public. ninez was ahead of the curve in what FRAPORT's intentions were. her newspaper was reporting in advance what we would all later find out--FRAPORT was serious with it's allegations, that the "letters of apology" were just a way to keep the influential wolves at bay until the complaint has been filed.

So is this libel?

Erap praises CBCP for "admitting mistake" on Edsa Dos

From Ellen Tordesillas:

Former President Estrada yesterday commended the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for admitting that their supporting a power grab against him in January 2001 that installed Gloria Arroyo in Malacañang was a mistake.

“I commend the CBCP in displaying humility and admitting their error in supporting my ouster. At least now people are beginning to admit the truth that Edsa Dos was a conspiracy, a power grab. Former Chief Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma was right when she said that Edsa Dos was an instance when the rule of law was thrown out and the rule of force prevailed.”

Last Saturday, after more than seven years, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) acknowledged the error of the “Sin era” in supporting the second people’s uprising on EDSA, and wants to “make up” for it, GMA-7 online reported.

Manila archdiocese vice chancellor Fr. Sid Marinay said the current direction of the CBCP is now to strengthen political institutions that EDSA 2 had weakened.

but the joke is on erap. the only reason they are changing their emphasis from let's get rid of erap "by any means necessary" to "let's follow the constitution" on Arroyo is simple--they want their president arroyo to stay and finish her unelected term in 2010.

(They don't want to "people power" arroyo. They don't support the impeachment process vs Arroyo, calling it an "unproductive exercise" (way to undermine the system/process you've advocated, bishops). And they don't want to call for her resignation.

Get the drift, mr erap?)

And the reason why they chose to disregard the rule of law in 2001? because they knew they couldn't remove a democratically elected president without breaking the law themselves and supporting a civilian/military coup.

If Arroyo wasn't so corrupt and venal, Edsa dos would still be celebrated to this day by the likes of dean jorge bocobo, the CBCP, civil society, and arroyo herself.

And Erap would still be rotting in jail with no chance at pardon. Arroyo only released erap (with blessings from the bishops) to save herself from ending up like Estrada.


Related Posts:
- "Calling for Arroyo’s resignation could weaken the country’s democratic institutions."
- CBCP in 2006: Impeachment an "unproductive" exercise
- "Cannot demand her resignation” or “do not demand her resignation”?
- Rina Jimenez David takes a look at the latest Pastoral letter
- "An amazing pastoral statement from the CBCP"
- "Everybody Cheats Anyway"
- Dishonesty at the CBCP
- LOL at Francisco Claver

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hindi kaya maging raket ito?

yung bagong pakulo ni Maam GMA.

Tim Russert will be missed

the moderator of Meet the Press died at the age of 58 yesterday of a heart attack.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wayback Machine: Nixing Pancho's $20-M demand led to GMA, SC Piatco voiding

Nixing Pancho's $20-M demand led to GMA, SC Piatco voiding

FRAPORT-GLORIA GOV'T ACCORDS COLLAPSED DUE TO REFUSAL TO "DELIVER" GOODS TO "FIXER"

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Editor in-Chief

Monday, 06 09, 2003

EXCLUSIVE
��������������
A second tape-recorded conversation between officials and lawyers of Frankfurt AG, the German partner with a 30-percent stake in the controversial Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. contract, obtained by the Tribune recently, disclosed that the nullification of the Piatco contract, announced by President Arroyo last Nov. 30, 2002, during her Rizal Day speech, which was upheld by the Supreme Court (SC), following its decision to declare the contract null and void, stemmed from Fraport's �reluctance� to accede to Mrs. Arroyo's personal lawyer, F. Arthur �Pancho� Villaraza's alleged demand of $20 million for his �in the background� legal and governmental services, to be paid offshore to an entity in Hong Kong.

It was also disclosed in the second taped conversation that Fraport officials, including their chairman, Robert Koch, were also dealing directly with Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, presidential legal counsel and former law partner of Villaraza, Avelino �Nonong� Cruz and Presidential Adviser for Strategic Projects Gloria Tan-Climaco, strongly intimating as well that Mrs. Arroyo was aware of all these nego-tiations between Fra-port representatives and Malaca�ang officials.

Several letters from Koch, the prime minister of Hesse and Fraport chairman of the Supervisory Board, to President Arroyo, confirmed, in a guarded manner, the agreements earlier reached � until the collapse of these agreements due, from the conversation, to Fraport's refusal to give in to due, from the conversation, to Fraport's refusal to give in to Villaraza's demand of $20 million in offshore payment.

Fraport lawyer Dietrich Stiller was recorded as saying, �There are letters from our Prime Minister who is the chairman of the Supervisory Board (Koch) where he several times confirmed in a very cloudy way, 'Thank you very much. I am happy to announce that we now have an agreement. And there are the announcements that we are, more or less, happy with the nullification of the concession and we have to change this direction first before we have any chance to sue anybody in the government, because the government will tell us, we did exactly what you wanted.'�

The Palace offer at the time, was for Fraport to sell out its shares to the Arroyo administration, to effect a government takeover of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 project, but at the same time, keep the door open to Fraport to operate and manage the terminal, with a side contract.

From the taped conversation, it was made evident that the �official� government representatives made up of the trio in the Arroyo administration and the �unofficial� Arroyo representative, Villaraza, known as Mrs. Arrroyo's �troubleshooter� and �fixer,� that the Malaca�ang representatives were then questioning the contract, �not because somebody really had a problem with the (Piatco) contract or had a problem with the clauses in there� but that it was a good opportunity for the Arroyo government officials to �raise� money and �screw Fraport.�

Fraport representative Peter Henkel was quoted in the tape as saying Fraport �was really convinced that they (Malaca�ang officials) were looking for some possibilities to raise money. They thought it was a good opportunity to screw Fraport and they were looking into the contract under which circumstances they could do it.�

The conversation also touched on Climaco �discovering� 28 allegedly �onerous provisions� in the Piatco contract, then adding 40 more �in order to put pressure on Piatco and on Fraport.�

The Palace panel, which was supposedly ordered by Mrs. Arroyo to review the Piatco contract, based its recommendations solely on the papers submitted by Climaco.

The Senate blue ribbon committee, headed by administration Sen. Joker Arroyo, was said to have relied solely on Climaco's �review of the Piatco contract.�

The SC, in its ruling declaring the Piatco contract null and void, also followed the arguments raised by Climaco, lawyers pointed out.

Some $50-$60 million, apart from the Villaraza demand of $20 million paid offshore to an unnamed entity in Hong Kong, was reportedly offered by presidential cronies to pay off the majority Piatco shareholders, Vic Cheng Yong and his family members, $20 million for his shares, with $40 million going to certain Malaca�ang officials, one of whom was distinctly identified as the presidential legal adviser Cruz, which money would be used to buy off �influential� and �powerful� government officials, to fix up the government, legal and judicial problems as this would effect the �magical disappearance� of the Fraport-Piatco problems.

In the second tape, Henkel went on to say there was already an agreement of sorts with Climaco, Romulo and Cruz that the Arroyo government would compensate Fraport in the event of the Piatco contract being declared null and void.

�I wanted a reconfirmation letter (from the Palace) that we would receive the attendant liabilities or any other compensation. Then when we asked them (Palace officials) about this letter, she (Tan-Climaco) always said, �Okay, we didn't give them (letters promised) because you did not deliver, and 'You did not deliver' refers to Villaraza,� Henkel was quoted in the tape as saying.

A Fraport lawyer, in the same tape cut, is heard saying: �Our response was, she asked us to take this, to hire this thief, to pay $20 million on our contract and when we told her (Tan-Climaco), 'The man's a thief and we won't do it,' she came back and told us again to do it. And then later, when we needed things to be done in order to proceed with the commercial operation of this terminal, she said, 'You didn't deliver! We're not gonna do it 'cause you didn't deliver!'�

Climaco had insisted too many times on Fraport's hiring of Villaraza for $20 million under Mrs. Arroyo's personal lawyers' conditions and was alleged to have threatened the Fraport representatives with a lot of problems if they did not do what she, acting on the authority of Mrs. Arroyo, as her appointment papers as presidential adviser claimed, demanded of Fraport.

===========

GMA "aide" asked Fraport to invent evidence

PALACE "FIXER" BRINGS UP "ANTI-DUMMY LAW" TO GET $20 MILLION

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares
Editor in-Chief

Tuesday, 06 10, 2003

Presidential aide Gloria Tan-Climaco and President Arroyo's personal lawyer, F. Arthur "Pancho" Villaraza, used threat and intimidation on Frankfurt AG (Fraport) officials, to force the German investors to pay them off and to provide them with the opening to get the "right partners" in to replace the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (Piatco) majority stockholder Vic Cheng Yong and son Jeffrey, where the presidential aide could again cash in through more commissions for brokering the deal.

This was disclosed in the second tape of the Fraport conversations obtained recently by the Tribune which also suggested that Mrs. Arroyo was in on the $20 million offshore payment deal.

Fraport officials, the tape disclosed, were threatened by the presidential aides on being charged with violations of the Anti-Dummy Law, claiming this has been breached.

At the same time, Climaco wanted Fraport to manufacture evidence against the Chengs, and against then Transportation Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, in the form of testimony from Fraport officials on "corrupt" practices that went on between Piatco and Alvarez.

Alvarez earlier stood pat on his claims that the Piatco contract was aboveboard.

Insiders told the Tribune that this stand of Alvarez was a barrier to the plans of Climaco and Villaraza in their scheme to extort money from Fraport through threats and intimidation, and the continued warning of a government takeover of the Terminal 3 project.

The conversation also suggested heavily that Climaco was into corrupt practices while screaming �corruption� publicly.

In a meeting, Villaraza's �opening statement� to Fraport officials was that the Arroyo lawyer never saw such an agreement as �scandalous as the Piatco contract� and that in his view, the Arroyo administration �could take over the project by declaring that Fraport and the other shareholders are in breach of the Anti-Dummy Law.�

Dr. Dietrich Stiller, Fraport lawyer, was quoted as saying: �He (Villaraza) said one possible window for government to take over was to declare the Anti-Dummy Law had been breached. We told him, 'Mr. Villaraza, with all due respect, we have received legal opinions that the structure is in order. I know these (corporate) layered structures from other investments and your good office, for example, represented Deutsche Telekom and I worked day and night with your partner Sylvette Tankiang Ferrer on the Telekon deal' and saying it had a similar structure.�

Stiller went on to say that Villaraza had told him in no uncertain terms that the Piatco �project will never be politically solved. It will always be politically in deep s�t. It will always be challenged but that the damage could be controlled, and the risks are reduced,� adding Villaraza had told him (Stiller) that with the risks controlled, this will �enable Fraport to somehow get through just to survive.�

A Fraport lawyer is heard on tape asking Stiller if it was at this meeting �where he (Villaraza) said 'You have to pay me offshore.'�

Stiller replies: �Yeah.�

Another lawyer says: �There was only one meeting. And he said in this meeting, damage control is the only option we have.�

Still another Fraport lawyer says: �And damage control consists of paying (Villaraza) money,� with yet another lawyer saying, �What he (Villaraza) said basically was 'You pay me offshore and I will work in the background and that's how we'll control the damage.'�

Stiller replies, �Yeah.�

There is also a suggestion that President Arroyo was in on the offshore payment deal with someone in alleging that �the President is a crook.�

Villaraza claimed, in his letter to the Tribune demanding a retraction and apology, that he had never discussed the Piatco project with Stiller and that there was only one meeting, where he claimed that he had to reject Fraport as a client, as he would not want to take on a case that was adverse to the Arroyo government.

The second tape also disclosed that Tan-Climaco wanted the Chengs out because she had �potential replacements� for them.

Stiller is heard to say: �She (Climaco) had certain ideas to bring in a corporation called the NDC (National Development Corporation...which seems to be a government agency.�

It was said on tape that what Climaco essentially wanted was to have the government take the stake in this terminal with Stiller affirming this, saying, �Right. For a certain period until it could be sold out to someone else. Because the problem is, if she had this cascade (corporate layering) and one shareholder, domestic shareholder dropped out, they need another domestic one to come in. They cannot be taken over by a foreigner.�

Climaco, from the taped conversation, really pushed Fraport to the limits, with Climaco always saying, �Well, if all the other issues are solved (evidence against the Chengs and Alvarez, as well as the $20 million payment offshore to an entity in Hong Kong) then, we probably can help you. We can help you here, or we can help you there, but we are not in a position to put this in writing.�

She had presented before Malaca�ang and the Senate blue ribbon committee meeting her review of the Piatco contract, which was the sole basis for Mrs. Arroyo, the Senate and the SC to nullify the contract. The side of Fraport and the Piatco partners was never taken into consideration.

Wayback Machine: Seize the day or be a wimp

Excerpts from "Seize the day or be a wimp" (apr 20, 2003) by Dante A. Ang:

One of the favorite moves of Viaje and his dogs is to bring the "recalcitrants" to court. They file suit after suit against those who refuse to do business with them. They hedge, stall, prevent the President from signing documents that have already passed the scrutiny of the independent legal eagles, look for loopholes and, when solutions are found, come up with new hurdles ad nauseam. The detractor is sued for every imaginable infraction of the law until he is broke or broken down into submission.

Does it sound familiar?

Friday, June 13, 2008

French Film Festival 2008 Schedule in Manila

(via) here's the list. free raw ang palabas.

I hear Roman de GAre is good.

A Dog Named "Viaje"

(Wayback Machine Apr 13 2003)

A Dog Named "Viaje"
by Dante Ang

I have long promised myself that as long as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is Commander in Chief, I shall not comment on political events as they unfold. The reason is simple. My close personal association with the President makes me feel unsure if I can muster the courage to be critical of her and her policies when the occasion so demands.

I expect the �intrigeros,� the �intrigeras,� the �inggiteros� and the �inggiteras� in and out of the Palace to retail the canard that I have defected to, and am campaigning for, the opposition. I heard this �tsismis� being peddled by a �broadcaster-kuno� some weeks ago. This pretender is known in the industry as an insult to the profession, the best argument, according to the old joke, for birth control.

I�ve been maligned as a result of a series of black propaganda against me, not so much by some members of the opposition as by the very people I thought were my friends. I held my peace, rolled with the punches, and suffered in silence as I watched them sully my reputation. And in the few instances when I had to come out and defend myself in public, I had to weigh my words to prevent the issue from involving the Palace.

I try very hard not to be distracted by the credit-grabbing �crabs� in and out of government. I believe in the adage that �if you stop before every dog that barks, you will never get to your destination.�

But this time I have to make an exemption. There�s this dog �Viaje,� named after �viajeng Hapon� or �lagareng Hapon,� that moved into a sprawling apartment complex when his master, by Divine intervention, was appointed by the owners to manage the company as its president/CEO. Viaje brought along with him some of the dogs from the same kennel where he came from and assigned them to guard the units in the complex.

With his dogs guarding every unit, nothing would happen without Viaje�s knowledge. They reported to him meetings between the tenants and the President. Soon, he put on airs. His bark became louder and more menacing, and his bite deadlier as the days wore on.

Dogs in the neighborhood kowtowed to him. They regularly brought him bones and a piece of their daily rations. But Viaje was insatiable. He settled for nothing less than the whole cow. So he ordered his dogs to harass the tenants until they came across. And woe to those who ignored him; worse to those who refused to cooperate.

His bullying paid off handsomely. Some tenants appeased Viaje and his dogs grudgingly. Cows, by the thousands, were sent to his pasture in Hong Kong and elsewhere outside the country.

Having tasted the delivery of the first cows, he went for the jugular. One tenant, for example, is being milked of US$20 million worth of imported cows; the other, P300 million worth of local cows. There were other equally mind-boggling shakedowns, not to mention his attempt to corner the transportation insurance business and to put the heat on two feuding telecoms firms so they would hire him as their �court general.�

Viaje has obviously become a pain in the ass. He acts like a feudal lord whose word is law to his vassals. What he wants, he gets. He growls at every conceivable sign of disapproval by the tenants. He harasses them until they toe the line and do his bidding. He expects every deal, every business transaction in the complex to pass through him and his kennel or the tenants will forever be harassed.

As a result, the tenants started packing up one by one, leaving the apartment complex almost empty. Still, Viaje would blame the �compadres and comadres� of the President for the decline in the occupancy rate, misleading the President and blaming everybody but himself and his kennel.

On many occasions, he has blamed the President�s husband for the sudden drop in the apartment complex�s occupancy rates. The tenants dislike her husband, so goes Viaje�s argument. The husband must therefore be banished from the complex, the farther, the better. It was a good thing the President listened to her heart.

Meanwhile, conditions at the apartment complex went from bad to worse. Its maintenance was terrible. Conditions were decrepit. Dirty. Disorderly. Tenants were scarce. Business declined.

The President started to worry. She knew that her job was on the line. She must do something fast. She organized a new team of advertising and public relations group to craft a new communications package for the complex. There were no takers. The occupancy rate remained low.

Next, she organized a marketing mission to sell the complex to foreign investors. She sent her finance manager to persuade the Asians to locate to her complex. Still no takers.

Finally, she turned to her Uncle Sam, who is living in the United States, for help. So far, Uncle Sam has sent her nothing but crumbs.

On the other hand, Viaje is laughing all the way to the bank, feeling secure about his future. He has stashed enough cows in foreign pastures to last him 10 lifetimes. He has become so powerful that he is no longer (afraid?) of his master whose contract, he knows, will run out in a few months. Besides, Viaje has hedged his bet. Unknown to the President, he and his dogs are already working for other candidates for President.

What a life. With a dog like Viaje, will the tenants ever get out of the doghouse? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

The Viaje Files

Here are the weekly front page articles of Dante Ang on Arthur "Pancho" Villaraza aka Viaje from April 13, 2003 to August 10, 2003.

A Dog Named "Viaje" (Apr 13 2003)

Seize the day or be a wimp (April 20, 2003)

If we can kick out presidents, so can we boot out Viaje (April 27, 2003)

Let’s not talk legal; let’s talk moral (May 11, 2003)

Viaje revisited (May 18, 2003)

Truth is superior to man's law (May 25, 2003)

Air "Piatcogate" tape to protect national interest (June 1, 2003)

Demolishing Viaje's latest ploy (June 8, 2003)

Uncovering Viaje's scheme, discovering a personal cause (June 22, 2003)

Thank you, Viaje (July 6, 2003)

"Go ahead, Viaje, make my day" (July 13, 2003)

Honor among thieves (August 10, 2003)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Meet Obama's speechwriter Jon Favreau

No, not the Iron Man director.

the other Jon Favreau, who's just a 26-year old kid.

Why Obama is Not Like Other Democratic Presidential Nominees Past

Mark Halperin's take:

Obama and his campaign, in contrast to other Democratic presidential nominees:

1. Have as their default position to respond rapidly to the opposition’s errors.

2. Have no trouble reaching internal consensus about how to respond.

3. Have no reluctance to deviate from their planned message of the day to let the attack BECOME the message of the day (while still executing the planned message, at least for local coverage).

4. Have the tactical skill to leave most of the attacks to staff and surrogates — only involving the candidate as needed.

5. Have the ability to get allies at the DNC, in Congress and elsewhere to echo the attack message.

6. Have the dexterity to attack with perfect pitch — and not too harshly and without sounding whiny.

How the dam broke

From MLQ3:

My own understanding is that is that it was the government station, NBN-4, and not the wire services that broke the story. It was the government that forced an end to the embargo by reporting the kidnapping of Ces Drilon and Co. on its Monday evening news program. Since news on a government station has an official nature to it, it’s logical to assume that it was then that the wire services, which I understand had been unable to obtain a statement from ABS-CBN up to that point, could run with the story.

So let me say first of all that government appeals for “restraint” are pure, unadulterated bullshit. You have a rare instance where media exercised prudence (not altogether altruistically, as I’ll explore in a bit) but government, always eager to appeal for “restraint,” jumped the gun…

is there some malicious intent here?

UPDATE: From Amando Doronila:

Most of the Metro Manila news media knew of the abduction of TV journalist Ces Oreña Drilon and two of her crew in early Monday morning, a day after their abduction, allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf last Sunday afternoon in Sulu province.

The state-owned TV channel NBN-4 broke the story in its Monday evening news broadcast, making the abduction public knowledge. It was followed by a statement by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, who said, “We appeal for caution and restraint in media reportage (so) as not to unduly hamper efforts to rescue them.”

At the time of the statement, there were no rescue “efforts” under way. Government security forces were as stunned by the abduction as the public and the media, so much so that they were immobilized. In this state of paralysis, the government appeared to be trying to score points with the public over its impotence to make Sulu safe not only for journalists but more so for visitors.

The appeal to the media for “restraint” was superfluous. It was trumped by the fact that most of the media embargoed the story for a day to avert putting the lives of the hostages at risk because of premature reporting.

Why Sen. Lacson, Why?

Read Ping Lacson's Sponsorship Speech for Sec. Raul Gonzalez at the Commission on Appointments.

About that "letter of apology" by Fraport's Bender and Stiller

Somebody left this comment on my blog:

I find re-posting here the transcript of the “Fraport conversation” involving Pancho Villaraza’s alleged extortion attempt ridiculous.

If I recall correctly, after the first publication of the said transcript, Fraport Director and CEO Dr. Wilhelm Bender apologized in writing to Pancho Villaraza “for the misunderstandings concerning recent discussions in Manila” particularly referring to comments made by Messrs. Endler and Struck. Dr. Bender also advised Pancho Villaraza that: “neither Fraport nor its representatives did intend to discredite (sic) your law firm or you personally in any way. Since this has caused you unintended concern and grievance, we sincerely apologize.” Now, why on earth should the “offended” party ever apologize to the “offender”?

Earlier, Dr. Dietrich F. R. Stiller, Fraport’s German legal counsel, denied the alleged attempt to extort money from Fraport. Dr. Stiller confirmed that he attended only 1 single meeting with the law firm, which was arranged upon his request, and further confirmed “that no USDmn request or similar request was made by any member of [the law] firm in, or in the context of, that meeting.”

Huwag sana tayong magpa-uto!!!

yes, there was a letter of apology was dated May 17, 2002 to villaraza.

But after issuing the letter of apology, Fraport a year later (oct. 2003) included the same allegations and extortion claim in its submissions in the Icsid case, you know, the one that the previously "apologized for."

And yes, there was a "letter of apology" from Stiller to villaraza that did not hold much weight. Here's Newsbreak's account:

Following the stories published in Tribune in May, Fraport counsel Dr. Dietrich Stiller belied the extortion attempt in an apology letter to Villaraza. He stated that, “no USD20 mn request or similar request was made by any member of your firm in, or in the context of, that meeting.”

According to the Tribune stories, Villaraza tried to extort a total of US$70 million—$20 million for his services and $50 million to pay off certain government officials including then presidential adviser Avelino Cruz (a former partner in the law firm) and then presidential adviser on strategic projects Gloria Tan Climaco.

It is unclear why Fraport would claim the same allegations in its arbitration request inspite of Dietrich’s denial.

Stiller's apology did not address the tape issue (ie, he did not say the tapes were fake). Villaraza also did not claim that the tapes were fake, but that they were "inadmissible" in court.

My reading on why stiller made that apology: the conversation between him and the lawyers were "private conversations." or "off the record" conversations. he did not expect that their conversations were being recorded (by who? somebody from FRAPORT? the lawyers? ISAFP?).

Stiller would never publicly accuse the influential people he was dealing with of extortion or corruption. because he and his company will have to do business with these people again.

Wayback Machine: Terrorist in Robes

Terrorist in Robes

By Dante A. Ang

(Remarks before the Monthly Meeting of the Philippine Constitutional Association, Hotel InterCon, Makati, May 27, 2004)

A statement of faith
Let me first preface my remarks by presenting my fundamental beliefs.
I believe in the Constitution as the basic law of the land.

I believe that one great test of legislation, any piece of legislation, is the issue of constitutionalism. Is this bill constitutional? Or does this proposal violate the intent or the will of the Charter?

I believe in the Bill of Rights, Section 3 of the Constitution. Despite its flaws, the 1987 Charter is redeemed by the forthright explication of the human rights and civil liberties of the citizen.

I believe in due process. No abbreviation of process can justify an arrest or illegal arrest, even of a criminal suspect.

I subscribe to the presumption of innocence. No suspect or individual should be declared guilty in the media or in any public forum unless proven otherwise.

I believe in the institutional independence of the three branches of government. We need an effective system of checks and balances to curb excess and abuse.

I believe in a strong and transparent system of law. Under this system, even a despicable criminal or a lowly suspect, as lawyer Rene Saguisag loves to remind us, is entitled to the protection of the law.

I am a great believer in a credible, fair and effective judiciary, led by the Supreme Court that, independent of the Cha-cha or the Con-Ass, functions as the continuing constitutional convention in the archipelago.

I also believe in a responsive, fast-moving and decisive judiciary. Justice delayed, as a wise saying goes, is justice denied.

Amplifying, Ramon Magsay-say Sr. said that Filipinos who have less in life should have more in law, implying that a great mass of Filipinos, especially the poor, have no or little access to justice.

I believe that the practice of law is one of the great humanitarian services available in society. When the practice of law is imbued with ethics, morals and principles, it becomes a truly edifying profession.

When a lack of professionalism, ethics and principles corrupts the profession, the practice of law becomes a terrible punishment on the poor, the underprivileged and the weaker members of society.

I believe in an effective criminal justice system where all the players�the police officers, prosecutors, penal authorities, judges, justices, witnesses and members of the community�play by the rules.

Finally, I also believe in an alternative system of redress where the aggrieved and the oppressed, or the parties to a quarrel, may have options to justice or settlement, other than those obtained at the courts, the labor relations commission or other forums for hearing disputes.

It is therefore right that apart from the process of legal litigation, the system should encourage mediation, arbitration and other modes of settlement for a speedier and nonadversarial resolution of disputes.

The problems of the judiciary

Having established my bona-fides, which I hope most of you share, let me make some observations about the legal system and the legal profession.

It seems to me that there is no consistency in the decisions of the Supreme Court.

There is a growing proclivity on the part of the courts to intrude into the economic decision-making process, which is best left to experts in the Executive Branch.

Our prosecution service is hard put to prepare, present and defend airtight cases against the perpetrators of graft and corruption.

The Judicial Bar Council has become an Old Boys� Club that has become a preserve for choice appointments to the judiciary.

And finally:

We have allowed a kind of legal terrorism to encroach on the legal system and the practice of law.

A new kind of terrorism

In the criminal justice system, terrorism begins with wayward police officers who, for considerations of money, arrest peaceful citizens, stage mock raids to harass innocent men and women, and generally make life difficult for potential victims.

Prosecutors, for the same considerations, have the power to speed up, delay or bury important cases.

Judges may ignore the merits of a case for the same reason.

The resolution of a case at the court level does not end the regime of legal terrorism. A prison warden or guard may spoil or bully a convicted prisoner depending on the gratuities he receives from the newcomer.

It is well known in legal circles that it is not money alone that determines the shape of justice or the speedy resolution of a case. Friendship and kinship are equally important.

I remember Justice Artemio Panganiban mentioning three �ships� in one of his lectures as important determinants in helping influence a case. But if you�re a friend or relative or compadre or a special compa�ero of the prosecutor, the fiscal or the judge, or a justice, your case is half-won.

Gapangan is the popular jargon for case-fixing. It�s not always lagay. It could be pakikisama or paghingi ng pabor. Others refer to it as paghingi ng balato. Sometimes it could be pagbayad ng utang na loob or repayment for a favor done.

Whether it�s money or friendship, this system of legal terrorism frustrates the ends of justice and tilts the balance in favor of the rich, the powerful and the well-connected.

The victims are generally the poor, the uneducated, and the jobless. Small wonder that 95 percent of those in prison are the masa.

The corruptors of the judiciary could be individual lawyers or giant law firms. Using cash or personal influence, they are able to win cases for their clients, at a cost to the other party, at a cost to society.

We need reforms

Reform in the legal system therefore should begin with the practitioners of law. They may win a case now and then, but they are likely to face more influential counterparts in the future. Thus, their victories are short-lived.

Reform could be achieved if we are able to raise ethical and moral standards in the judiciary. Equally important, we should raise the salaries of police officers, prosecutors, public attorneys, judges and justices.

Most of these observations are common knowledge. Many of them are reported in the media. Friends and associates tell us about their experience with the law. We hear stories from the victims.

A diplomat, US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone once complained publicly about corruption in the judiciary.

According to Supreme Court Justice Panganiban, in a lecture, there are three major problems besetting the judiciary: corruption, incompetence and delay.

By corruption, he meant the ability of cash to buy judges and prosecutors to fix cases and influence decisions.

By incompetence, the justice referred to the slaughter of the English language in the hands of lawyers and judges, rendering opinions and presentations ungrammatical and incomprehensible.

Delays, he said, are caused by numerous vacancies in the trial courts, archaic legal practices and corruption in the bench.

He assured us that the Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Hilario Davide, is addressing these problems.

The story of two contracts

Let me just return briefly to two observations I made earlier.

The Supreme Court, in separate decisions on the NAIA Terminal 3 Project and the Jancom trash facility project, faced the same issues and made two conflicting opinions.

The Court said that the Piatco project and the Jancom undertaking both violated the BOT Law. However, it ruled the Jancom contract as valid but decided that the Terminal 3 project was null and void.

The Court said that both contracts deviated from the original bid terms or concession agreement but ruled that the Piatco contract was null and void while declaring the Jancom contract valid.

The original Piatco contract was approved by the NEDA-ICC and signed by authorized signatories. The Court ruled that it was null and void despite proper approvals. The Jancom contract did not have the approval of the NEDA-ICC, the approval of the MMDA Council and presidential approval but ruled that the contract was valid.

The Court ruled that the legal flaws in the Jancom contract were corrected and perfected when the contract was signed. Yet, the same Court nullified the Piatco contract inspite of the fact that Terminal 3 has been completed and could have opened in December and after the government had received some P480 million and another P300 million from Piatco as rental payments for the first year.

According to experts, the Court decision is grossly flawed, inconsistent and that it violates the Constitution and the BOT Law.

Following the Terminal 3 decision, some of the newspaper headlines read:

�Foreigners having second thoughts about RP; contracts no longer sacred; credibility of SC at stake�; �Business divided over SC ruling.�

The construction of the Terminal 3 project did not cost the Philippine government a single centavo. The project passed the scrutiny of three presidents. The government will own the terminal after a period of time. It will provide hundreds of jobs. It would provide Filipinos a world-class, state-of-the-art airport facility.

Why then, most Filipinos ask, did the Supreme Court void the contracts?

Intrusion into economic policy

I also said that there is a growing proclivity on the part of the courts to intrude into the economic decision-making process, that is best left to experts in the Executive Branch.

Proof is the eagerness of the Court of Appeals and the regional trial courts to issue temporary restraining orders that effectively stop important public-works projects or measures designed to improve community life.

Legal terrorism and underdevelopment

The controversial decisions of the Supreme Court, the power of the lower courts to issue frivolous temporary restraining orders, corruption in the court and the substandard practice of law are barriers to the flow of foreign capital into the country.

They make foreign businessmen and Filipino entrepreneurs wonder about consistency, truth and fairness in the Philippine courts and system of government.

In the long run, these practices discourage foreign investments, slowing down the pace of development in the country and postponing much-needed growth in the regions and in the important industries.

And yet we blame the New People�s Army-Communist Party of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (and the Abu Sayyaf Group) for destroying the peace and derailing economic and social development in the country, particularly in Mindanao and Sulu.

Forgive me, but I feel very strongly that most of the members of the NPA and other subversive groups are not inspired by Communist or leftist ideologies but were driven to lawlessness by a lack of basic human needs: their inability to get speedy justice from the courts, corrupt government officials, including judges, prosecutors and police officers; unemployment, and lack of educational opportunities and health services for themselves and their children.

Delays in the delivery of justice have also prompted peace-loving citizens to take the law into their hands.

There is an explosion of killings caused by resentment against the courts. In the Philippines, there is a long history of family feuds in countless communities that are marked by acts of vengeance and preemptive killings.

Corruption, incompetence and delay similarly have led to questionable convictions, arbitrary arrests, and unlawful detentions. This, in turn, has produced overcrowding in local jails and national prisons. Congestion in jails, as we know, is the fuse that ignites most prison riots.

The practice of law

And now, let me go the practice of law. And here, I speak not only as an observer but also as a victim.

I have observed that while we have an abundance of lawyers, very few good ones choose to join the government service. We require graduates of medicine and nursing to perform obligatory service in remote places of the country. Can we ask law graduates to serve in government for a brief period of time?

It is not very often you hear about lawyers or law firms engaging in pro bono practice. Should we have a law requiring lawyers to devote part of their time to free legal counseling to the poor and to prison inmates?

Now, let me go to a personal matter.

I have described how our laws are being prostituted to make the innocent guilty and the guilty, innocent; of how investors, foreign and local, must contract the services of powerful, well-connected people for their services under pain of having their projects cancelled or nullified.

This is my story.

A Spanish citizen who is facing deportation, filed a complaint with the NBI against the officers and board members of a thrift bank which I chair. In his affidavit, the Spaniard claims that the money placed in the bank was a deposit. The bank says otherwise: the money he placed was equity. We have documents to prove that. Anyway, we were summoned by the NBI to reply to the allegations in the complaint. My inclusion would have been OK were it not for the fact that I subsequently discovered that I was not included in the complaint. My name was not in the original complaint!

Before the NBI could come up with their findings, a case for �Syndicated Estafa/ Economic Sabotage� was filed against bank officers before the Makati Fiscal�s Office. This time around, I was conveniently named as one of the defendants.

Realizing that the case against me was weak, the investigating fiscal downgraded the charge from �Syndicated Estafa/Economic Sabotage� to a simple �Estafa.� We were reliably informed however that the fiscal was pressured into finding a probable cause.

I almost cried, not out of fear of losing the case, but out of pity. I felt sorry for Filipinos and for those who fought for liberty and shed blood to keep our freedoms and democracy alive. It seemed to me that their sacrifices had come to naught. I felt sorry for our country and children who will inherit what I considered a sick system. More importantly, I almost cried out of frustration and anger. What did this country do to deserve the �Terrorists in Robes?� I prayed very hard for guidance and enlightenment.

I was indicted for my �failure to act on the complaint�; estafa for �inaction.� Until the unfortunate case developed, I did not know you can be criminally liable for nonparticipation in a crime committed by others assuming, of course, that my associates were guilty as charged. But I doubt that.

I am not a lawyer. But estafa presupposes deceit or fraud as a result of an overt act; active participation in the commission of the crime.

The bank transactions happened in the year 2000 until 2001. Disagreements between the Spanish national and the bank cropped up in 2001 until early 2002. I was appointed bank chairman in April 2002. Simply put, I became bank chairman more than a year after the fact.

Even assuming that the transactions happened under my watch, as chairman, I have no participation, active or passive, in the day-to-day operations of the bank. The chairman only presides over board meetings.

Not content with that, they short-circuited the process. We were reliably informed Friday afternoon that the case was to be raffled; never mind if the decision was not yet sent to, much less received by us; never mind if we were not given our day in court or a chance to file a motion for reconsideration.

To avoid being harassed and inconvenienced, we decided to post bail the following day, Saturday.

We thought that was the end of it. We were wrong. They filed a motion for a Hold-Departure Order before a Makati judge. As far as we know, that motion is still pending for more than three weeks now.

I must congratulate the lawyer behind the plaintiff�s lawyer for his passion, dedication and single-minded purpose of putting Dante Ang and his business associates behind bars, come hell or high water. The law can go hang.

This lawyer has a habit of hiding behind anonymity, using satellite lawyers to fight his battles. It is not uncommon to hear businessmen talk about how they were had by this lawyer who had acted as counsel for both the protagonists.� Kita kaliwa, kita kanan. Urong, kita, atras, kita.

Not content with a bodyguard, this lawyer goes around with a .45-caliber pistol tucked in his clutch bag and doesn�t hesitate to shoot neighborhood dogs, real dogs, that annoy him for their barks. Pati aso pinapatulan.

In my book, he is a certified coward. Right now, he is busy weaving yarns against me. He has intensified his black propaganda campaign against my person and my associates. He has become cocky. Feeling on top of the world, he even had the effrontery to send my associates and me messages to the effect that he will destroy us, blow us to smithereens.

I have faith in the goodness of man. Surely as the sun rises in the East, thoughtful leaders and responsible members of society will one day find courage to stand up against this lawyer and his shenanigans in and out of government. His karma will come.

Begging the pardon of the friends and supporters of the late President Marcos, was it the late Ninoy Aquino who, out of frustration, said that the Philippines is inhabited by 60 million Filipinos and one SOB?

Oh, yes, I am scared. I am scared of the unknown; of what lies ahead. After all, I�m against very powerful people whose tentacles are all over the place. Yet, if I do not fight for my rights, who will? If I do not speak out, who will? I say, we lock horns with the crooks in and out of government here and now and let the chips fall where they may.

I have been asked by friends to settle my differences with this lawyer. I have assured them that I intend to finish what I have started. I shall continue to expose the crooks in and out of government and those who mock the law, alone if need be.

I have declined offers of assistance from prominent political figures in my crusade against this lawyer and his ilk. I have no wish to politicize the issue otherwise, I lose credibility and the whole exercise would morph into nothing more than a cheap propaganda stunt. I believe I stand on a moral high plane. The issues I have raised against those who prostitute the law are legitimate concerns. They erode the people�s faith in government. They destroy our democratic institutions. They ruin our hard-earned freedoms. They make a banana of our republic.

We brand the NPA�s, the communists, the MILF, the Abu Sayyaf enemies of the State. Yet, what about those lawyers who flout the law and ruin the dreams and aspirations of a people for a just, free, prosperous country? What about lawyers, fiscals, judges, justices who actively participate in the plunder of the ebbing trust of the people�s faith in government? I say, they are the true enemies of the State. When the guardians of the law, the very people entrusted to uphold the law violate the principles of justice, I say they are traitors of the highest order. We either fight for our rights now, here, or forever keep our peace. The choice, as they say, is ours. I have crossed the great divide. I have made my choice. I hope you have you made yours.

Conclusion

Most economists and some social scientists assert that it is the management of the domestic economy, the twists and turns of the world economy and the economic policies of government that shape economic development and determine the prosperity of a nation.

To a degree, I say this is true. But there is also a sense in which non-economic denominators influence the national life, influence foreign and domestic investments, impact on industries, jobs and standards of living.

I believe very strongly that there is one aspect of the national enterprise�the functioning of the judiciary, the state of the legal system, the effectiveness of the prosecution service, and the quality of the practice of law�that plays an important role in the economic life of Filipinos.

Justice is the bedrock of democracy. The system of law is the critical pivot around which trust and faith in government turn.

When the system works�when the poor can compete with the rich in the claim for justice, when the aggrieved can expect to get prompt action from a police officer or a lawyer, a decent hearing from a fiscal or fair settlement from a judge or a justice�you have a citizenry who take pride in the system and will see that it continues to work, a public that feels it has a stake in the process and will work for its survival.

But when the system breaks down, when legal terrorism wrecks investor confidence, corrupts the law for money or purchases justice in the name of friendship, when only the rich and the powerful can hope to win legal battles, when the police officer, the private lawyer, law firms connive with prosecutors and judges to influence a case, when the poor and those with lesser means�in short�must fight their personal vendettas or join the insurgency to exact some justice, then democracy becomes a parody and the Constitution an unworthy scrap of paper.

Sometimes, the victims do not always take the law into their hands or flee to the hills. Many are leaving the country, disillusioned by the lack of jobs, the dearth in opportunities and the paucity in justice. It is a sad story but it is true.