Tag Archives: Randy David

[Blog] In Defense of Dissent By Jose Mario De Vega

In Defense of Dissent
By Jose Mario De Vega

I refer to the news report, “Palace to hackers: No illegal acts needed to show discontent”, Sun Star, November 4th.

According to the so-called Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. “there is no need to resort to illegal acts to express discontent in the way government handles current issues…”

Mario De Vega

The so-called Secretary issued the said message to the Anonymous Philippines, “a group of hackers that defaced 38 government websites over the weekend.”

The list of government sites which were intruded and hacked includes the website of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Mr. Coloma further stated in a media briefing that:

“There are sufficient avenues for free expression so there’s no need to resort to illegal acts…”


To that so-called secretary who said that there is no need to resort to illegal acts to express discontent in a way the government handles current issues, the question there is: what exactly, in the first place is the very reason why this hacktivists group had resorted to this kind of protestation?

What led these online activists to do the things that they’ve done?

What are they protesting and what are they condemning?

Mr. Coloma also said that “proper actions will be taken against the hackers.”

The question is: what action are you going to take to all those creatures who are involved with the pork barrel whether they are your allies and enemies; friends and nemesis?

How about the body of Jonas Burgos? What action does the bloody government are undertaking to put into the bar of justice those bastard satanic murderers who kidnapped, tortured and killed this humble peasant activist?

What action does the government is doing to locate even his remains (if there are still remains)?

Mr. so-called secretary, could you please answer that directly for purposes of the records?

To quote the words of Professor Randy David, “The President’s speech”, Public Lives, Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 2nd:

“Good governance is not all about preventing and punishing the theft of public funds. It is about putting effective systems of accountability in place so that the bad apples in government are spotted before they can hide behind the admirable record of others. It is also about setting new and higher standards of competence in public service and not being content with tweaking the old system. It is about applying stricter ethics, and demanding more from one’s own team, before one says anything about the shortcomings of the other party. It is about ending patronage and realizing the full promise of democracy.”

Second point: up to now, the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) is still a Bill (is there a chance that this will become a law?), hence, what other avenues or means can these activists express their discontent and disgust with the government?

May I remind that so-called secretary that his boss during the campaign promised that this utterly necessary proposed law would be a priority, yet after winning the election, what the hell happened to the promise?

Are promised meant to be broken?

Let me state also that his boss always reiterate and says that his boss is the Filipino people, hence — WE ARE YOUR BOSS!

The whole world knows that the ultimate reason that triggers this whole issue is the gory and nefarious issue of DAP and PDAF: in one word, the bloody Pork Barrel!

A couple of days ago, the President himself spoke in a televised address to the nation to give his take on the whole matter.

The problem is: instead of clarifying the issue, he further muddles and confused the public. Indeed, he wasted a golden political opportunity to assert the ethical dimension of his regime, if ever he is sincere, if ever there is one and the moral crusade of his government, if ever that is true!

Consider the brilliant and straight to the point critical analysis of Ramon Casiple, “A Waste of Political Capital”, Yahoo News! Philippines, October 31st:

“What he did was to essentially defend pork barrel, including his discretionary funds, and to point to the grave abuse by legislators conniving with Napoles as the real issue. It was a pitiful performance, reminiscent of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “I am sorry” admission during prime time. This time the cry was “We are not thieves.”

“In this respect, the speech was unnecessary insofar as the President is concerned. The surveys showed him as retaining his personal popularity among the people, their trust (nearly 7 out 10 Filipinos), and their satisfaction on his performance so far. What happened was his blanket defense of all his men and women, who at one time or another during the past three months were linked to the pork barrel scam.

“The worst thing that happened was that the many issues raised in the aftermath of the Napoles case were not addressed by the speech but rather firmly put by the president out of the loop.

“Questions such as: Were his own secretaries and allies in Congress involved with Napoles?

“Why did the Commission on Audit (COA) only covered the period of 2007 to 2009? Why did the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) include adding more pork barrel funds to the PDAF of the legislators?

“Is the pork barrel really abolished or was it creatively transformed and hidden in the 2014 budget?

“Why is the Department of Justice (DOJ) filtering the information first before submitting it to the Ombudsman, thereby duplicating the work of the latter?

“What is the role of the inter-agency committee created by the President and composed of the DOJ and two independent constitutional bodies, the COA, and the Office of the Ombudsman?

“What is the President’s stand on the pork barrel system? What are the lessons to be learned from the Napoles case and establishment of the pork barrel system?”

Now, base on the foregoing, may I ask categorically that so-called secretary, can you blame our people if they are angry?

Can you blame the Anonymous Philippines in doing the things that they had done?

Mr. Coloma, do read the writings on the Walls and that is the truth:

We have been deprived of things which they have promised to give; what our late heroes have promised us to give.

Let us remind the government that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words. They are perspectives.

A march is happening, a revolution. A way to speak, a way to be heard.

On the fifth day of November, 2013, we will try to be a part of the history.

But of course there are those who do not want us to speak, and those who have doubts.

You can sleep, sit, go on with your everyday routine just like a herd of sheep and watch as the government laugh at you.

But if you see what we see, if you feel as we feel, and if you would seek as we seek… then we ask you to stand beside us, this fifth of November outside Batasang Pambansa and let us march our way to freedom – a freedom from the shackles of the Government.

You have been called; and by watching, you have been chosen.

To the “incorrupt” officials of the government, we are challenging you!

Join us!

The Corrupt – Fear us.

The Honest – Support us.

The Heroic – Join us.

We are Anonymous.

We are ONE.

The government, you are NONE.

We are legion.

On the 5th of November, Government – Hear and understand us, or EXPECT US!

You promised to take “proper action” against us; then be put on notice that we also promise to take proper and necessary action against you.


Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[In the news] Debating the RH bill – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Debating the RH bill – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Public Lives

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

ON SO fundamental a proposal as the Reproductive Health bill (HB 4244), there is bound to be wide and passionate disagreement. The bill touches on matters that lie within the scope of three basic institutions: the State, the Church, and the family. Although differing views on such matters may not always be reconcilable, they can be made—in the spirit of democracy—to accommodate one another.

To get to that point, it is essential that the parties must give up the use of threats or coercion to bolster their respective position. The mere mention of excommunication or criminal prosecution in the course of an ongoing debate is enough to fuel extreme reaction. Debaters and discussants must stick to the main issues, avoid name-calling, and not indulge in polemics. They must try hard to see issues from the standpoint of the other, instead of privileging their own way of seeing as “commonsensical” or “rational” or truly “moral.” Such words can be conversation-stoppers.

On this issue, I don’t expect much from the encounter between the Church hierarchy and the leaders of the State. Each side will reiterate and promote its own definition of reality. More than that, both institutions will try to stretch their sphere of influence on society to the extent they can. The Church cannot be expected to view the world from the standpoint of secular leaders. That is not its role. In like manner, political leaders in a modern state cannot allow decision-making to be controlled by any religion without violating the autonomy of politics that is crucial to a democracy.

In transitional societies like ours, the vulnerability tends to hobble largely the political side. We see this in the way political legitimacy is routinely and brazenly sought from religious leaders—not only during elections but especially during times of crisis. When citizens habitually ask bishops to sanctify the political choices they make, they make it hard for them to back off on all other matters of state. Perhaps at no other time was the vulnerability of government to religious interference as evident as during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency. She served as the clergy’s principal conduit to Congress. She made sure that the RH bill would not move an inch during her term, even if her own allies were among the bill’s fervent supporters. In turn, the Church rewarded her by softening public criticism of her governance.

In contrast, we have today a president who not only supports the bill but also risks antagonizing the Church by repeatedly expressing his stand in public. Instead of allowing the fate of the bill to be decided at closed-door meetings, this administration has encouraged free and open discussion of its merits and demerits.

One can immediately see the effect of this readiness to debate in the boldness of the growing number of legislators who support the bill. But, it is obvious as well in the stance taken by those who oppose it. Though their objections are fundamentally religious, they find themselves having to couch these in non-religious language. They frame their arguments in moral and constitutional terms, raise issues of practicability, or argue from economic and political rationality. They do not flash the religious card, knowing they are legislating for an entire nation and not for a particular religious community. That’s how it is supposed to be in a democracy.

But though it may not be obvious at first glance, rapid ferment is taking place within the Philippine Church itself. One cannot think of any other time when there was more open questioning by the faithful of the hierarchy’s rigid position on reproductive health than today.

The key issue is whether the ban on contraception is dogmatically defined and thus irreformable. The famous Catholic theologian Karl Rahner does not think that the papal encyclical “Humanae Vitae” can be considered “irreformable doctrine.” Still, he believes that “the presumption should be in favor of the Pope’s declaration.”

But so complex are the issues, Rahner goes on to say, that many may be unable to accept the Pope’s doctrine. A cogent summary of his highly nuanced position, written for a German publication in 1968, has been provided by Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., who taught religion and society at Fordham. (http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id= 10722) It is useful to cite Rahner at this time because he shows the Church to be the living institution it should be, staunchly defending its place in a changing world while remaining sensitive to dissenting voices within it.

“Bishops,” Rahner makes clear, “should surely instruct the faithful about the meaning and weight of the pope’s decision, and warn the faithful to take it seriously…. On the other hand, bishops should not act as though the encyclical were irreformable or as though everyone who dissented were guilty of contempt of authority or were separating himself from the church. They should refrain from imposing canonical penalties on persons who respectfully and discreetly propose another view…. If no one could voice his opposition to reformable doctrines, the development and correction of the Church’s official teaching would be seriously hampered.”

Rahner’s views stand in contrast to the intolerance with which some members of our clergy have treated those who differ with the official teaching on contraception. My sense is that, in the last analysis, the strength of the Church will be tested not by what happens to the RH bill but by the grace with which it is able to deal with the dissenting voices within it.

* * *


[Editorial] Hunger – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Hunger – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Source: Inquirer.net

Stung by the latest survey results indicating that more Filipinos were experiencing hunger, President Benigno Aquino III expressed reservations about their accuracy. The survey, conducted by Social Weather Stations from March 4 to 7, found one out of every five respondents—or 20.5 percent—claiming to have gone hungry at least once over the previous three months. That translates to about 4.1 million hungry families—700,000 more than the number who made a similar claim in November last year. The same poll also showed that 51 percent considered themselves poor, higher than the 49 percent who placed themselves in the same category three months earlier.

Confronted with these results, the President was unconvinced. How could that be, he asked, when the labor department was reporting more people finding employment and private business was saying it was hiring more workers? Besides, he added, the statistical sample used in the survey didn’t “capture” those who were benefiting from the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the government. Mr. Aquino pointed out that the CCT targeted the 400,000 poorest families in less developed areas of the Visayas and Mindanao which, together with Metro Manila, saw declines in the incidence of self-rated hunger. On the other hand, the proportion of hungry people reached a record high of 25 percent in Luzon (outside of Metro Manila), up from 18.3 percent in November.

Had the survey sample been “reversed,” the results would have shown more people finding relief from hunger pangs, he said.

Surely Mr. Aquino knows more than most that any survey to be meaningful and useful cannot be “skewed” one way or another. Unless it can be shown that the survey sampling was unscientific or the methodology employed by SWS was flawed, he has to take the unflattering results at face value and look for the explanations elsewhere.

Inquirer columnist Randy David has offered one plausible reason for the spike in the number of people claiming hunger. He pointed out that the survey was done at a time when the Department of Social Welfare and Development was also conducting interviews to assess the eligibility of families for the CCT. An indigent mother being interviewed by the SWS or by the DSWD “would not be able to tell the difference,” David said, and, aiming to qualify for the cash transfer, “she would be inclined to picture her family’s circumstances in the direst possible way.” Just the news that interviews are being scheduled by the DSWD already creates a “sense of anticipation” that makes it difficult to get “an objective assessment of poverty and self-reported hunger.” Like the smell of cooking causing instant hunger, it may be added.

But it would be a gross mistake for the Aquino administration to consider widespread hunger as largely a matter of perception. The stark reality is that hunger stalks every corner of the country outside the gated communities of the super-rich. And if the survey says most of the very poor are not enjoying the benefits of the CCT and other programs aimed at alleviating hunger, then a review is in order. Maybe these programs are not reaching the right targets. Or it could be that the beneficiaries are too few to make an impact on the overall situation. Or perhaps the amounts being given are too small to provide sustained relief from hunger over a span of time. But it would be folly to shift focus simply to shore up the survey ratings. Fighting poverty and hunger is the principal obligation of government. Looking good should come naturally to an administration that makes significant headway toward eliminating them.

The Flor Contemplacion syndrome – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

The Flor Contemplacion syndrome – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Public Lives
By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Source: inquirer.net


MANY REASONABLE people do not understand why the resources of the entire Filipino nation have been mobilized to persuade China to spare the lives of the three Filipinos who were executed on Wednesday for the heinous crime of drug trafficking. They ask: Why are we spending precious diplomatic capital to plead for the lives of three convicted criminal offenders? Are we not being selfish in thinking only of our own nationals? Can we not also sympathize with the nameless individuals whose lives have been ruined by the drugs regularly brought into China by drug mules?

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