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The Philippine SSS Dilemma: A Failure of Political Communications

By N Mark Castro


One of the biggest news that came out of the Philippines recently was the sudden adjournment of the 16th Philippine Congress that was supposed to deliberate on overriding the veto of President Noynoy Aquino. Public clamor for the SSS (Social Services System) hike was on the table after Congress initially approved the bill and submitted it to the president for signature; however, the president vetoed it, citing that it would eventually drain the funds of SSS.

The dilemma of the president vetoing the bill is that his own allies and team did not prep him well enough.

In return, so as not to embarrass him with a congressional override of the veto, his congressional allies just decided to railroad the last session. Read the rest of this entry


Protest Against Philippines’ Pork Barrel

By N Mark Castro

To the Philippines’ Senate and Congress … “A curse to both your houses” – Shakespeare

It’s time to wake them up.


Obama’s State of the Union Address: The Quiet Heroism of Filipina Nurse Menchu De Luna Sanchez

By N Mark Castro


Sandwiched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President wife Jill Biden, Filipina Nurse Menchu De Luna Sanchez is feted for her exemplary work during the rampaging Hurricane Sandy, as US President Barrack Obama acknowledged her.

“We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring. Her mind was on the 20 precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe,” the US president said. 

Here was a humble woman, an ordinary woman, who could have come from any nationality, doing her daily work without any delusion of fame, yet simply focused in delivering the best service she could, day in and day out, for the past 18 years, with but a hope that she could provide for a better future for her children.

When crisis of Hurrican Sandy came, she rose above men, rose above titles, and showed to the world that heroes are made, not born.

And if it weren’t for the CCTV camera, the world will never know her act of heroism, not even those young souls she saved on that fateful day. Read the rest of this entry

The Passage of the Philippine RH Bill

By N Mark Castro


And, contrary to the scary opinion of the Catholic Church, the Philippines hasn’t been swallowed up by the earth, nor everyone in hell. Just as Nicolas Copernicus disagreed with the Church that the earth isn’t the center of the universe, so do we in proving that the RH Bill is in the interest of the people. Ignorance is the real enemy of the people.

Yet, this is the same Catholic Church that supported the illegitimate presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in light of the massive electoral cheating that had been established; the same Catholic Church that accepted all the material benefits of supporting the tyrannical 9 years of presidency that the entire nation swore to never again allow.

The People Have Spoken

PHILIPPINE RH BILL: THEN AND NOW (Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon)

PHILIPPINE RH BILL: THEN AND NOW (Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon).

The President Just Doesn’t Get it: The Philippine Cybercrime Law

By N. Mark Castro

In a report filed in The Philippine Daily Inquirer, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, III, said:

On the libel provision, I don’t agree that it should be removed. If you write something libelous, you’re liable. If you’re a broadcaster and air it on radio or TV, you’re also liable. When it comes out in the Internet that’s still libelous. Whatever format it is, the person whose rights were impinged should have redress.

Fine. No one argues with that. Even I have questioned the barrage of online airing of criticisms and grievances against Robert Blair Carabuena if the collective online sentiments published by the public should be tempered with caution in order to avoid a snowball effect of cyberbullying.

Further, there are civil — if not criminal — statutes currently afforded to the aggrieved in seeking redress. However, that the President signed into law a provision that has so divided the nation — yet again — shows how detached the president is in adapting both to technology and the sentiment of the public which he once described as his “boss.”

Indeed, it isn’t his responsibility to create laws, that’s what the incompetent Philippine Congress and Senate are for; however, he provides the final signature whether to enact or veto a proposed law. Once signed, it is then his responsibility to execute it, including mandating all government institutions to abide by it.

The Supreme Court can thus rule on the constitutionality of any laws enacted, which Congress can amend if it’s thus required to do so.

And therein lies the rub.

The President signed it. Was he aware of it? Was he apprised of it? Was he given the pros and cons of it? Was he given strategic alternatives should it balloon to what it has become now?

Did he even read it before he signed it?

Because the problem isn’t that he wants to provide protection and solution to those aggrieved on the internet. It’s that …

The least he could’ve done was send it back to the Senate or Congress with a note: “Dudes, I can’t sign this. Give me something else that won’t conflict with this.”

After all, this is the very same Constitution which justified his own mother’s presidency, which his father had fought for.

Yes, there are so many provisions in the new Cyber Crime Law that merit support and strict implementation: anti-child pornography and, well, frankly, I can’t think of anything else that requires urgent national restructuring of our existing laws that would conflict with our Constitution.

The Philippine government has already been chastised by various global organizations for continuing to lump Libel as a criminal offense yet, ironically, instead of repealing its criminal aspect and turning it into a civil action, it has instead expanded its scope to the online community. Instead of engaging the public — offline and online — it merely swipes it aside to ram through its vaunted stubbornness.

The president further said:

If we don’t implement it, I’m liable for dereliction of duty. I can be impeached.

Which beggars these questions:

  1. He has the presidential privilege of vetoing a proposed bill, why didn’t he?
  2. If he does implement this new law, should he not be impeached for its conflict against the very Constitution which he swore to uphold?

That more than any other president that had ever been elected, the public expected — nay, afforded him with much leeway in executing laws that would favor the underprivileged, the unprotected … those who did not have the privilege of his moneyed colleagues that hide under the cloak of his friendship.

It isn’t a sad day for the death of freedom of expression in the Philippines … it’s that it’s been signed by the very son of parents who fought and died for the very same rights for which they were once prosecuted and, as his father, was even assassinated.

It isn’t saddening … it’s embarrassing.

Charlotte Setijadi

Anthropologist & Contemporary Historian of Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia


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