October 14, 2005

I have two hands

I’ve been taking guitar lessons from Alan, a brother from my singles community, and I must say, I’m learning a lot.  I now know why my left hand and my right hand are important in playing the guitar—no kidding!    Thanks bro, you’re cut-out for this—you have the patience, the passion, the skill of course, and the heart for teaching people.

I’m still a long way off, though, from playing. . . still, the excitement of being able to produce melody, not noise, and finally conquering Bm and, to some extent, F is tremendous.

Now, if only I could get my left hand to shift chords while my right hand is strumming . . .



October 13, 2005

My rant for the day

This will be a rant.  You want to stop reading, be my guest.  

You’re still there. . . tough.  Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.


There’s a really bad pick-up line that goes:

“Man (to woman he wants to impress):  ‘Opportunity knocks but once. Hi, I’m Mr. Opportunity.’”

I hate opportunists.  For me, they are life forms lower than spineless jellyfish.  But more than opportunists, I hate opportunists who are not even open about being opportunists.  Give me “Mr. Opportunity” anytime—at least he’s honest.

I recently came across a write-up in Newsbreak about a certain law firm’s supposed intervention in the selection of the new Dean of Law at U.P.  It leaves a really bad taste in the mouth because I know everyone mentioned in that write-up.  I also know—and respect—Dean Carlota.  I also know the law firm and what it is capable of.

Is this what it has come down to?  Opportunity knocking and opportunists taking advantage?  Principle?  Is that now a dirty word?   I’d like to think not.

I think it is a signal dishonor to Dean Carlota for his name to be raked across the mud like this.  He is portrayed, unfairly, as an opportunist.  Worse than false accusation is malicious innuendo. Worse than malicious innuendo, however, is bad company.  Once and for all, Dean Carlota should squelch these rumors—if they are not true—and put that  law firm and all its lieutenants in their place.  To be fair to that firm as well, it should also say its piece (but also practice what it would preach as well).

Once and for all also, that firm and other similarly-minded, “well-meaning” alumni (making up various shades of “The Firm”) should just leave us in the UP College of Law alone—isn’t it enough that I have to be reminded of all of you and what you are once I  step into the Lobby of Malcolm Hall (should be renamed after that firm) and once I step into designated classrooms bought by and named for entities like Accra, Sycip, Binay etc.?    

U.P. Law is a public law school---the only one of its kind.  It shouldn’t be subject to sale like some political favor or some private property.  You want to be grateful alumni? Do some good by not foisting and keeping people like Gloria Arroyo on the people.  You want to be grateful alumni and do some good?  Stop representing big oil companies that keep the prices of oil up if only to maintain their “margin of profit.”   You want to be grateful alumni and do some good for U.P. Law?  Get the Senate and the House, and all the U.P. Alumni there, to stop sitting on their behinds and pass a realistic and reasonable appropriations act for U.P.  You want to live up to U.P.’s name?  Be a good witness to just how much the law can become a genuine force for change and for good.  Show to MY students just how much U.P.’s supposed grand manner has made you great lawyers—not just great businessmen and businesswomen.

If you can’t do that—please stay out of U.P. Law and let others who want to do that run the law school.  For us who have made a commitment to the Law School, this is our life and life’s work.  For me, a large part of  MY LIFE is invested in U.P. Law so do me a favor, all you “well-meaning and grateful alumni”, if you can’t help me and the country (see above,  in bold)—STAY OUT OF MY LIFE!

Did I tell you I really hate opportunists?  Ok, I’ll stop now.

October 11, 2005

So much more. . . in the name of love

More on love and loving .  . .

Heard this again over the radio this morning and it brought me back, way back.

PRIDE (In the Name of Love)
[Words: Bono; Music: U2]

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

Early morning April four
A shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last
They took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

In the name of love

This is one of those anthems that strike directly at the heart and moves you in many, many ways.  Sheer poetry but also unmitigated truth.

“What more in the name of love?,” Bono wails.  

So much more .  . .


Lord, I ask for the grace to ask myself, “what more in the name of love” so many more times than I ask myself  “why me or why now” and for the additional grace to be perfectly honest with myself.

October 10, 2005

I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am

Men don’t ask directions; that’s an urban legend. In my case, it’s not entirely true. I do ask directions when I get lost. Now admitting that I’m lost—that’s another thing altogether.

That’s what I discovered last Friday when I, together with two lay missionary brothers Jopeng and Jobaqs from the Servants of the Word, had to navigate through the flooded streets of Manila on our way back to Quezon City. I had a vague idea of where I was going when I turned right to Morayta from Espana but after that, I knew zilch. My navigator was Jopeng (Jobaqs fell asleep midway through the journey) who always looks very confident and in whom I personally have great trust. Throughout the entire trip, we asked directions only twice and both times we had already committed to a certain route before asking directions—so it wasn’t entirely asking directions so much as confirming that we were on the right path. We never admitted we were lost—even if I readily admitted I had no idea where I was but that doesn’t mean I was lost—at least not out loud.

I didn’t feel anxious or nervous; I never felt lost although I really had no idea where I was at particular stretches. After about two hours or so of driving around flooded side streets of Manila, we got to Quezon City.

It was a fun adventure—even if I was so hungry (I’m sure Jopeng was hungrier as he fasts on Friday). I got home at 2:15 or so and plopped down on the sofa to rest my feet and promptly fell asleep; I woke up at 6:00 to finish my powerpoint slides for my talk at 9:00. Another day, another adventure.

God, thank you for adventures that allow me to see another side of You, and another side of me as well.

October 06, 2005

Lessons in Loving: Reality Bites

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” -  Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Yesterday’s rally against Gloria was one of the most violent yet.  Most of those who were injured, arrested and/or detained were our clients (or quickly became our clients).  Video footage of the dispersal showed indiscriminate violence by the police who were armed with metal shields which they used not to push away but to stab and bludgeon.  Video footage also showed plain clothes policemen punching, hitting, smacking men and women already in custody.

This is Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR).  Welcome to Gloria’s Philippines.

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, tells us that the peacemakers shall be called children of God.  I found it really difficult to reconcile the images I saw of the supposed peacemakers with those that God would call His children.  But that’s why I am human, fallible, weak and definitely not God and that’s why God is God.  His ways are not mine and His thoughts are not my thoughts.

The most important commandment is to love God above all else;  the second most important commandment is to love others as you would yourself.  That’s the clincher:  love others as you would yourself.  

I  found myself very angry at what I saw on video yesterday but then I found myself reflecting on loving others as I would myself.  How would I want myself to be loved? I would want to be forgiven for my wrongs and transgressions;  I would want to be treated with humaneness, with dignity.  Definitely not like how the police treated the rallyists yesterday.  

Love others as you would yourself—easy to say, extremely difficult to do.  Lord, following you is truly difficult sometimes.  Loving others is difficult, especially when they are difficult to love.  

I pray for the grace to recognize the lovability of others, transcending the façade of unlovability, and for the grace to love others, despite their seeming unlovability.  I pray as well for the grace to be able to love without first looking for lovability in others and to surrender to this grace wholeheartedly, singlemindedly and relentlessly.


October 05, 2005

Retroactive 5.0 for Miriam in Evidence


As one who has been teaching Evidence for some time, I am ashamed of myself.  

I must apologize to all my students, present and past, for failing to tell them that triple hearsay is not only admissible but is also impressed with high probative weight.  I must confess that since I never had the “brilliant” Miriam Defensor-Santiago as my professor for Evidence, I really missed that particular legal principle.  I feel that I must commit the academic equivalent of hara kiri by turning in my teaching license, as it were, and make a public apology to all my students, present and past, for misleading them.

Hah, she wishes.

Miriam is the one who is a monumental embarrassment to the name of U.P. and particularly the College of Law.   She’s not even funny anymore—even when she goes from her “lucid intervals” to her “normal state”—she’s tiresome and tiring a total waste of taxpayer’s money.  

She should be given a retroactive 5.0 for Evidence and her diploma as a UP graduate should be withdrawn.

October 04, 2005

A gag order by any other name . . .

MALACAÑANG
Manila

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 464

ENSURING OBSERVANCE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION OF POWER, ADHERENCE TO THE RULE ON EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE AND RESPECT FOR THE RIGHTS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS APPEARING IN LEGISLATIVE INQUIRIES IN AID OF LEGISLATION UNDER THE COSTITUTION, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES


WHEREAS, the Constitution guarantees the separation of powers of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the government;

WHEREAS, Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution provides that heads of departments may, with the prior consent of the President, appear before and be heard by either House of Congress on any matter pertaining to their departments and, when the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the president so states in writing, such appearance shall be conducted in executive session;

WHEREAS, pursuant to the rule of executive privilege, the President and those who assist her must be free to explore alternatives in the process of shaping policies and making decisions since this is fundamental to the operation of the government and is rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution;

WHEREAS, Article VI, Section 21 of the Constitution mandates that the rights of persons appearing in or affected by inquiries in aid of legislation by the Senate or House of Representatives shall be respected;

WHEREAS, recent events, particularly with respect to the invitation of a member of the Cabinet by the Senate as well as various heads of offices, civilian and military, have highlighted the need to ensure the observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege and respect for the rights of persons appearing in such inquiries in aid of legislation and due regard to constitutional mandate;

WHEREAS, there is a need to prevent such inquiries in aid of legislation from being used for partisan political purposes, disrupting diplomatic relations with foreign governments, and weakening the stability of the State, thereby impeding the efforts of the government to generate and attract foreign investments;

WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that public officials and employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest;

WHEREAS, Article 229 of the Revised Penal Code prohibits any public officer from revealing any secret known to him by reason of his official capacity or wrongfully delivering papers or copies thereof which he may have charge and which should not be published;

WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution and the Administrative Code of 1987 provide that the President shall have control of all government departments, bureaus and offices and shall ensure that all the laws be faithfully executed.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by the powers vested I me by law, do hereby order:

Section 1. Appearance by Heads of Departments Before Congress. – In accordance with Article VI, Section 22 of the Constitution and to implement the Constitutional provisions o separation of powers between co-equal branches of the government, all heads of departments of the Executive Branch of the government shall secure the consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress.

When the security of the State or the public interest so requires and the President so states in writing, the appearance shall only be conducted in executive session.

Section 2. Nature, Scope and Coverage of Executive Privilege. –

(a) Nature and Scope. – The rule of confidentiality based on executive privilege is fundamental to the operation of government and rooted in the separations of powers under the Constitution (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995). Further, Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees provides that public officials and employees shall not use or divulge confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public to prejudice the public interest.

Executive privilege covers all confidential or classified information between the President and the public officers covered by this executive order, including:
  1. Conversations and correspondence between the President and the public officials covered by this executive order (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002);
  2. Military, diplomatic and other national security matters which in the interest of national security should not be divulged (Almonte vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, 23 May 1995; Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
  3. Information between inter-government agencies prior to the conclusion of treaties and executive agreements (Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, G.R. No. 130716, 9 December 1998);
  4. Matters affecting national security and public order (Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002).

(b) Who are covered. - The following are covered by this executive order:
  1. Senior officials of executive departments who in the judgment of the department heads are covered by the executive privilege;
  2. Generals ad flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of Staff are covered by the executive privilege;
  3. Philippine National Police (PNP) officers with rank of chief superintendent or higher and such other officers who in the judgment of the Chief of the PNP are covered by the executive privilege;
  4. Senior national security officials who in the judgment of the National Security Adviser are covered by the executive privilege; and
  5. Such other officers as may be determined by the President.
Section 3. Appearance of Other Public Officials Before Congress. – All public officials enumerated in Section 2 (b) hereof shall secure prior consent of the President prior to appearing before either House of Congress to ensure the observance of the principle of separation of powers, adherence to the rule on executive privilege and respect for the rights of public officials appearing in inquiries in aid of legislation.

Section 4. Repealing Clause. – All executive issuances, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Executive Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 5. Separability Clause. – If any section or provision of this executive order shall be declared unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 6. Effectivity. – This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.

DONE in the City of Manila, this 28th day of September in the Year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Five.


(Signed) GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO


By the President:

(Signed)
EDUARDO R. ERMITA
Executive Secretary

--------------------------------------------------------

You may be asking yourself, why should I care about this? I'm not a member of Congress. You may not be a member of C0ngress but you are a particle of sovereignty in this beautiful but benighted land of ours--and, for this reason alone, you should care what the great pretender is doing. For those old enough to remember Martial Law, this was how it all started.

Conrad de Quiros once wrote of people no longer caring that much--in psychology, the technical term is desensitization, in plain language, numbing. I agree with him that that would be the greatest challenge that faces us now--that we might not care enough anymore to form an opinion, express it and stand by it.

God gifted all of us with free will and a capacity to think. It's a waste of gifts if we don't use both, particularly when we can do so without peril to ourselves and particularly when we put our country at peril when we don't.

October 03, 2005

Changing of the Guard

A new Dean formally took over this morning at the law school: Professor Salvador Carlota, “Buddy” to his friends, “sir”, to us his former students (even those who are now teaching in law school).

His was the first oathtaking for a dean I attended since I started teaching in law school in 1995 because the previous officeholder and I never saw eye to eye and I didn’t bother to show up at his two oathtakings. He (the previous officeholder) didn’t show up at the oathtaking, something I expected from him (perhaps he’s now in Italy, licking his wounds to a magnificent view). His wife (also a law professor) did though (I thought that was big of her), albeit she came in late and after Dean Carlota took his oath already—she was warmly welcomed by everyone there, though I wasn’t sure if there was reciprocity but, well,. . .you can’t have everything.

I was gratified though to see a large number of faculty members who showed up this morning for his oathtaking, even those who ran against him were there. I was even more gratified to see Dean Carlota pulling faculty members who were “estranged” or “not speaking to each other” towards each other and asking them to publicly shake hands with each other and telling them, “hey, X, say hi to to Y. O, ayos na tayo ha?” It set a good tone for his tenure; when I commented on his doing that, he just said, “this may be a new item in my job description. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God.”

I didn’t support his candidacy because I supported someone else; I never opposed his candidacy though, even as I opposed the previous officeholder’s bid for a prohibited third term. Dean Carlota has always been someone people respect, even if his views may be somewhat uber-conservative and his lectures (in and out of the classroom) long. Dean Carlota has always had my respect because he is conscientious, diligent, dedicated and very honest; his integrity is intact. He’s not flashy and his lifestyle shows it; his car, for the longest time, was a broken down Opel which had more rust than paint. When that broke down, he borrowed back his daughter’s car—a hand me down from him—an orange late 80’s Lancer which is also showing its age.

I hope Dean Carlota’s good witnessing in this aspect pervades the law school. I also hope the atmosphere this morning continues during his tenure as Dean and that some much-needed changes may finally happen.

God bless you, Dean Carlota (and your family, Professor Daisy, Pebbles and Rocky); Godspeed ahead.