smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

A crime with no criminal

Te said the dispositive portion of the ruling did not mention anything about liabilities of the government officials involved in the DAP.

So sayeth GMA news. And with reports coming out that this decision is supposed to apply only proactively, I guess that means we have another crime with no criminal.

So also said the anti-GMA luddites about the Ombudsman’s decision not to prosecute anyone for the fiasco that was the 2004 automated elections project.

It’s pretty funny because a lot of those luddites now bask in the glow of the yellow sun. It’ll be interesting to see the pretzels they twist themselves into in trying to explain why this decision of the SC now is acceptable, while that of the Ombudsman back then wasn’t.

It should be doubly interesting because now, what’s at stake is actually a constitutional issue. With the voting machines in 2004, it was really just about the COMELEC buying machines and the retarded opinion that it would herald the end of the world.

 

 

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Filed under: automation, , ,

If you can’t beat it, work with it

I think it’s time the Comelec faced the facts.

Candidates will not be dissuaded from putting up their posters wherever they damn well please, there will never be enough outraged people to outweigh the voting power of those who don’t care, and the common poster area rule is perhaps one of the most ridiculously unenforceable rules in the entire history of unenforceable rules.

And orbiting this nucleus of hard facts, are a number of satellite postulates that can’t be ignored either: no matter how fairly the Comelec treats candidates and party-list organizations, those candidates and party-list organizations with the ability to mobilize media coverage will always be able to portray the Comelec as biased; the leveling effect of the common poster area is illusory at best; and – apart from the common poster area rule itself being intrinsically unenforceable – the Comelec’s own field personnel are either incapable or unwilling or too poorly motivated to even mount the good ole college try at tilting at windmills.

This isn’t to say that the idea behind the common poster area rule is trash. On the contrary, the concept that candidates should be restricted in this way is a good one because, if nothing else, the opposite means that candidates will most likely plaster anything and everything with campaign propaganda that they are not responsible enough to clean up afterwards; and because the practice of proliferate postering only reinforces the notion that it takes money, not character, to win in elections.

These laudable considerations aside, however, the fact remains that the mechanism for achieving those ends are pitifully laughable, exposing the Comelec to ridicule and accomplishing little beyond chipping away at what little credibility the poll body still has.

Hopefully, the Comelec’s bright boys and girls will soon realize that, perhaps, the Fair Elections Act is approaching the problem wrongly.

Obviously conceived as a means of making the elections more sober, for lack of a better word, using the boring American campaigns as a model, the Fair Elections Act ignores the fact that we Filipinos do elections differently. For us, this isn’t a process imbued with quiet dignity and somber gravity. It’s a fiesta – a festive occasion ultimately not far removed from basketball. And there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with that if you were to accept that as it is and not compare with your idea of what elections should be, i.e., the way the Americans do it.

Take phone banking for instance. The Americans use rows and rows of telephones to actually call people on election day urging them to vote. Both the Republicans and the Democrats do it. They also send out vehicles to pick people up from their homes and take them to the polling places. Here at home, we call that hakot.

So, if some aspects of the way Americans run elections are undesirable to us, why should a boring campaign be more acceptable? It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Sure, you can smash it into place but it’ll be a terrible fit.

Better by far to simply embrace the cultural realities in which the election campaigns are embedded and then institute process controls. Kinda like how they stopped men pissing on the floors of Schipol airport toilets. It’s a case of since you can’t beat it, work with it.

Okay. At this point, you’re prolly waiting for some idea I can propose. Well, I don’t have anything at the moment. But, hey! That isn’t my job, is it? LOL

Seriously tho, I do have something, although I can’t guarantee lawfulness at this point. I was thinking that maybe, the Comelec can work something out with the DILG so that no winner can assume office without first organizing and carrying out a clean up operation, post-elections. While there is scant legal bases for this kind of move, there is a chance that it will appeal to the Filipino’s sense bayanihan *cringe* which, at the moment of victory, will be tripping high on euphoria.

I know it’s lame, alright? But you get the idea, right? Hopefully, the Comelec’s bright boys and girls do too.

If you have an idea on how illegal postering can be controlled in the absence of a common poster area rule, why not share it in the comments below?

Or don’t. LOL

Filed under: 2013 Elections, politics, polls, pop-culture, , ,

No money, no honey? WTF?!

Both the Comelec’s Chairman and its Law Director have said that there is no money for the Pampanga recall elections. The Chairman said that the Comelec would not ask for money from the DBM. The implication – being forcefully insinuated by those opposed to the recall – is that if the Comelec can’t cough up the money, there will be no recall elections.

WTF?

On a practical level, this might all be true. What get’s my goat, tho, is that the people who are opposed to the recall are trying to short-circuit the statutorily guaranteed process for kicking out bad elective officials through the ridiculous claim that there is no money. 

First of all, recall elections are a valid means of empowering people to remove elective officials from power. Once the petition is approved (which it hasn’t been yet), the recall election is an activity that the Comelec is mandated to carry out. Because it is part of the citizen’s right of suffrage – because it is an integral mechanism of democracy – money should be the least of Comelec’s concerns. 

While the petition hasn’t been approved, however (as is the case with Pampanga), the Comelec has no business saying things like ‘there’s no money’ and ‘we’re not gonna ask for money.’ That’s not even an issue! When the petition is approved (if it’s approved) the Comelec has no choice but to find the money. So these things that the Chairman is saying, what is he saying them for?

As it is, by insinuating that the recall petition is futile, he appears to be siding with Panlilio. Is that even proper for the Comelec? Or maybe it will be considered proper because he is, in effect, favoring a politician who is ranged against a known ally of the President?

Filed under: politics, , , , ,

Elections on?

The Comelec is making all the right noises about how the elections are going to push through, and about how the elections will be generally peaceful. On the other hand, news reports keep coming out about the troubles in North Cotabato spilling over into Maguindanao, causing evacuations and generalized hysteria.

So, are the elections on?

If the Comelec blinks now, they lose whatever credibility they have left. It’s a game of chicken, and the first to swerve loses.

Filed under: politics, , ,

Leonardo and Lucenito

It would seem that people are having a really tough time accepting the appointments of the two new Comelec commissioners.

Surprisingly, in Leonardo Leonida’s case, the main objection isn’t to the kitschy alliteration in his name (that was my personal gripe) but to the administrative case for which he was admonished by the Supreme Court. Reading through the Newsbreak report, it would seem that the root cause of the admonition was – explicitly – not corruption but the perception that certain surety agents enjoyed a certain level of clout with Leonida when he was still a judge. Apparently, the agents were so influential that they could order office staff to do things like type release forms, allegedly upon Leonida’s say so.

The Court, in other words, warned Leonida to be more careful about how he could be perceived. A judge, after all, is expected to be like Caesar’s wife.

While the bare assertion that he was admonished by the Supreme Court clearly implies that Leonida is a bad character, reading between the lines gives me the impression that he was more hapless than ruthless. Anyone who has had any sort of dealing with government offices knows for a fact that in any office there is always a cadre of private individuals the regularly do business with that office. In most government offices, this cadre consists mostly of agents of suppliers – sniffing around for contracts to bid for or collecting payments or selling odds and ends. In trial courts, surety agents – those who secure bail bonds – are the office lurkers.

And it is also a known fact that these individuals have been around for so long that there is often an easy familiarity between them and the office staff and, on occasion, the boss or (in this case) the judge. This familiarity leads to these individuals being tolerated certain liberties – like telling the boss’ secretary to type up something for the boss’ signature – as Leonida was accused of. In a vast majority of cases, these activities are harmless since the staff can easily confirm the order with the boss. But the staff usually don’t either because the activity is routine or because they’re on good terms with these individuals anyway.

More plainly stated, the act Leonida was accused of – coupled with the finding that no corruption was involved – was harmless and ultimately meaningless. In fact, about the only circumstance that makes it shady is the fact that Leonida was, in fact, a judge and should have held himself to a higher standard. But still, with no corruption tainting the big picture, we are left only with the image of a judge who was lax in running his office, either because he didn’t have a forceful character or because he was easy-going by nature. I would have said incompetent, except that the Supreme Court didn’t conclude that either.

Hardly reason to disqualify him from becoming a commissioner.

The problem, I think, is that people are apprehensive of the Comelec becoming subservient. In truth, there is much logic in this fear. A weak-willed commissioner who cannot even control his own staff will not likely be able to stand up to the powers that be. In that way, the Comelec might truly end up like silly putty in the hands of unscrupulous powers. And inasmuch as the Comelec performs quasi-judicial functions, i.e., at some point, Leonida will have to be a judge again, this track record of weak-willed management portends a future where all his decisions will be mistrusted because people think that he can be manipulated or unduly influenced. He may not be a shrewd operator like Garci was; but his apparent pliability might well ensure the same outcome.

So, taking everything into consideration, I’d have to say, wtf was the Palace thinking? My theory is that Leonida is not a serious appointment but more of a placeholder. Someone who can give the Comelec the quorum it needs but who can easily be replaced when he is inevitably rejected by the CA, or when he is no longer convenient to have around. In a sense, this also explains why he was appointed only to finish out the recently deceased commissioner’s term.

~

Lucenito Tagle’s appointment, on the other hand, was clearly based on his race’s uncompromising honesty and dedication to cold logic. I mean look at the picture.

The guy’s a Vulcan!

Filed under: 2010 watch, politics, , , , ,

Bad Feng Shui

What is it about the Comelec that people are dropping like flies over there? Three deaths in less than a year – starting with that Law Department director, followed by his replacement his replacement, and now a Commissioner. Of course, the first two died violent deaths and some have said that questionable acts were involved. This makes those deaths way different from the Commissioner’s who, by all accounts, was a pretty decent guy.

Still – and no disrespect intended and all that – dead is dead. And then of course there was that big-ass fire.  Luckily no one got burned, but i read somewhere that cars got totaled and some people lost a lot of personal stuff. And I’m wondering why.

My guess: bad feng shui.

Consider this. The Comelec’s main office is located a stone’s throw from the Pasig River and a slightly longer stone’s throw away from Manila Bay. In feng shui, a building sited near to and with a view of water will thrive, as a rule. So, basically, a building should face the water. As far as I can tell from Google Earth, the Comelec building is facing away from the bay and – albeit at a slight oblique – the river.

And besides, it isn’t just proximity to water that matters. The quality of water is also important. It should be alive – clean and active, a sign of vital, pure ch’i – not dead. Stagnant and murky water indicates tainted ch’i and money. Sound familiar?

And then there’s the Cathedral. In feng shui, buildings that face institutions are in a dodgy place, but of course a church would be the least of all evils – especially a church that is often used for weddings. But even if the church isn’t much used for services for the dead, the church’s history matters much. From the wikipedia, we learn that this Church has had a deadly history.

The first cathedral, made of nipa and bamboos, was built in 1571 by Fray Juan de Vivero and on December 21, 1521, it became a cathedral. It was damaged by a typhoon in 1582 and razed by fire in 1583.

The new cathedral, which was made of stone, was made in 1592. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1600.

The third cathedral, with three naves and seven chapels, was started in 1584 and blessed in 1614. It was toppled by another earthquake which shook Manila in 1645.

The magnificent fourth cathedral was constructed in 1654 to 1671 under Archbishop Miguel Poblete. It was severely damaged in 1863 by a very strong earthquake that even toppled the Palace of the Governor General of the Philippines. In 1880, another earthquake toppled its bell tower and since then until in 1959, the cathedral remained towerless.

The fifth cathedral was constructed in 1870–1879. It was solemnly blessed in December of 1879. The center cross of the dome is a reference point of astronomical longitudes of the archipelago. The magnificent cathedral was toppled into ruins by bombing in 1945.

It isn’t far-fetched then, to expect that nearby residents – like the Comelec people – may still absorb too much yin ch’i – the ch’i of the dead – and sudden, unforeseen disasters may befall them. A possible cure would have been to plant trees between the church and the building. But just before the fire in 2007, the trees that lined the front of the Comelec building were inexplicably chopped down.

Seriously. I think those people had better start investing in some good feng shui advice before anymore of them end up shuffling off this mortal coil.

Filed under: musings, new age, , , , ,

Comelec sucking Dick’s carrot

A joint congressional committee can suspend the operation of a law? What the FUCK is that? Since when has a small committee (made up of no more than fifteen people) had the power to practically overturn the wisdom of the entire Congress (more than 200 worthies and not-so-worthies) and in effect say ‘don’t worry. we’ll let you break the law.’

I understand that ole’ blue-boy-dick is desperate to have the elections automated, but COME ON. He’s willing to sanction violating the law for that? Well, the truth is, he won’t be breaking the law himself. He – and his cohorts in the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee – managed to bully the Comelec into doing that, so I suppose that explains alot of things. And those morons at the Comelec let him do it. What a bunch of sissies!

And automation isn’t even worth all this trouble. Seriously.

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Filed under: 2010 watch, automation, , ,

Lawless

Reading the Sunday newspapers, I came across two very disturbing articles. The first – in the Inquirer – told about how the Supreme Court has recently authorized loans to Judges to enable them to purchase pistols ‘for their protection;’ clearly as a response to the rising incidence of judges being killed.

The second – in the Philippine Star – was about some troubles in the Comelec. The reporter, kinda like as a throwaway comment, noted that there is talk in the Comelec that one official will be killed every two months until the troubles are resolved.

WTF?

Is this still the Philippines or some lawless frontier town in the wild wild west? What sort of country have we become that judges have to walk around packing heat just to feel safe? And you can bet that now that the SC has authorized our magistrates to carry weapons, the Comelec cannot be far behind. Never since the first quarter storm has the utter collapse of law and order been more imminent and apparently inevitable.

~

No less a symptom of lawlessness is the news that Brian Gorrell will now have a radio show. Our country is apparently so “eat-the-rich” rabid; and people apparently deem the law so inconsequential that we have seen fit to give this person another soapbox.

I have nothing against Brian, but to reward slander in this way seems to me unconscionable. Sad as it may be, we have given up caring about the law in favor of one-sided exposés and scandal-laced gossip. By rewarding Brian, we are sending out the message that it’s okay to smear people irresponsibly if your slander is salacious and juicy enough to titillate the public. This radio station that gave Brian a program has seriously undermined law and order on the altar of crass commercialism. Fuck it all.

Filed under: law and order, musings, society, , , , , ,

Automated Elections

Well hell. It looks like the Comelec is finally getting off it’s butt.

I strip on this other site. 😀

Filed under: automation, politics, , , ,

The year to come

I don’t know why the Sound of Music should be playing on Christmas Day, but there it
is on Star Movies. What with it being the ultimate au pair fantasy movie, there’s nothing particularly Christmas-y about it, after all. But then again, with a step-mom that breaks into song at the drop of a hat, I suppose Christmas would be like a year-round condition.

And speaking of Christmas … I think every kid on the block must’ve come knocking on our door today. I swear. I got to bed at around 7:30 this morning, after having worked on setting this new blog up from 4:00 am onwards, and I had been hoping to get some sort of sleep during the day. Unfortunately, the little buggers started showing up as early as 8:00 am. Kinda like office hours, y’know?

Most of them were pleasant enough – by which I mean they were sheepish enough not to act like they were entitled to Christmas dole outs. There were a few nasty ones though; kids who pretty much demanded that they get something.Ah well. Christmas is about charity, eh? As Papa Ratzi said, Deus Caritas Est.

But now that’s done with. I don’t imagine there’ll be much more coming tomorrow. Which means that its time to start thinking about the year to come.

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Filed under: musings, , , , , , , , , , , ,