Relevant Implications of the George Floyd protests

As if the worldwide coronavirus problem isn’t difficult enough to contain, police brutality once again rears its ugly head. That ugly head belongs to former officer Derek Chauvin now charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. His accomplices, also sacked officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are currently under investigation.

The entire incident stems from the death of George Floyd, an African American who allegedly issued a counterfeit 20 dollar bill. The officers were alerted and arrested George Floyd who did not resist the arrest. For reasons known only to Chauvin, he felt the need to kneel on Floyd’s neck until the man could no longer breath, until he actually died.

What followed were a series of protests that have escalated since the incident from Monday evening, May 25, 2020. As of this writing, the protests have gone beyond the borders of the United States. All this unfolds while the world battles the covid 19 pandemic and everyone awaits the birth of a vaccine. Bravo ex officer Chauvin and company! You couldn’t have picked a better time to piss off the globe.

The fact that this issue escalated in the first place, the fact that it has found its way outside the borders of the country where it started has several implications.

It’s apparent that the protests are not merely about police brutality, but police brutality flavored with racial discrimination. Would Chauvin have been less brutal if he were arresting a white man? Again, only a question he can answer. To the rest of the world, all that is visible is a white officer imposing uncalled for restraint on a black man.

Another implication is that the perceived racial discrimination is a very serious issue that people are willing to abandon the significance of social distancing to battle a more or equally important virus – the archaic attitude of discrimination against people of color. It is now 2020, and it’s disappointing to learn that some people have not accepted that it takes all colors to paint the world.

Lastly, why should anyone else care what American police officers do to people within their territory? Some people may be of the opinion that the issue is being blown out of proportion. Sure…until one of the police officers in your country does the same thing to you or your family.

Bottomline? If the world allows police brutality to go unchecked, it may become a practice…it may spread, just like the coronavirus.




The death penalty dies a natural death

The long time attempts to revive the death penalty in the country was given a glimmer of hope in the lower house as the House of Representatives managed to get a bare majority through on the second reading of the bill. However, the said bill died a natural death in the upper house as the Senate failed to unite with a single voice for its revival.

There is no need to reiterate the long debated issues on the morality (or the lack of it) of the death penalty, human rights, the right to life, and the list goes on of the repeated arguments to trample the most brutal form of capital punishment. Nor is there a need to dwell on the emotionally charged arguments raised by human rights victims and their advocates, the main theme pointing to the ease of fighting for the rights of criminals until you, or someone close to you, become one of their victims.

What is seriously wrong with the Philippine version of the death penalty is its focus on drug related crimes, at the neglect of all other heinous crimes plaguing the nation. The drafted bill that made it past the lower house was clearly an attempt to validate the controversial extrajudicial killings which have made the current administration notoriously popular with the international community.

Laws should be based on reason and they should be made to address long term problems of the whole nation – and not just to satisfy the whims of a current administration. Laws should not single out a certain category of crimes when there are other crimes equally deserving of the same penalty.

The death penalty is not wrong per se – there is just something wrong with the Philippine version.



The possible rebirth of the death penalty

Reciprocal death penalty

Justice, Davao Death Squad style

The Never Ending Story of the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice Debate

(an article inspired by the book titled Unplanned by Abby Johnson)

This was a book that chronicled the journey of activist Abby Johnson from being a volunteer for a pro-choice establishment called Planned Parenthood, to crossing over to the pro-lifers under an establishment known as Coalition for Life. The book had a spiritual aspect as Abby Johnson highlighted the events reflecting the hand of God in aid of her transformation. This article aims to focus on the more disturbing implications of her journey that pushed her from one side to the other.

At the beginning, Planned Parenthood’s pro-choice stand was simply to decrease the number of abortions through education on contraceptives and the choice of adoption. The establishment stood on the premise that, if women wanted the option to abort, it would be better to give them the means to do so safely. The establishment clung to the argument that providing safe abortions was a better alternative to condemning women from wanting an abortion and compelling them to resort to underground, unsafe, and maybe even illegal, means to get an abortion anyway. But as Planned Parenthood was a charitable institution, it relied on the funding of supporters and the government. It only charged women what they could afford to pay.

Eventually, the birth control and abortion demands outweighed the public support the establishment could elicit, and funds started to run dry. As the establishment was profiting from the few abortions performed, it geared towards a new goal of not only increasing the number of abortions to be performed, but directing women towards the option. Abby Johnson’s journey towards the Coalition for Life started when her assistance was needed in an actual abortion, and she saw first hand how a fetus was, body part by body part, sucked out of a womb.

The book leads to a realization of how complicated the pro-life versus pro-choice debate really is. Apparently, there is no easy compromise, such as the pro-choice stand is acceptable so long as abortion is not one of the choices. To make issues more complicated, the book points out that the pro-life group not only opposes abortion but also birth control. The pro-life group argues that birth control should also be banned as it prevents life from being created. The pro-life group ignores the argument that prevention is a lesser evil to destroying a life already created. Being against both abortion and birth control justifies the stand of the pro-choice group – somebody has to defend women of their right to have options when faced with an unexpected (unwanted) pregnancy.

The pro-choice versus pro-life debate will never come to an end so long as both sides fail to recognize the need to set their own boundaries. The pro-choice group needs to understand that abortion is the taking of human life, and resorting to technical questions like when does life really begin doesn’t change that fact. The pro-life group needs to understand that there is no life that needs to be destroyed if measures are taken to prevent it from being created. Imposing the need to abstain from sex or resort to natural methods of birth control is not only a limitation on human liberty, it also ignores the natural weakness of the human flesh.


Additional reading:


One of the many issues reignited by the rise of the new administration in the Philippines is the need to address crimes committed by the youth. The law currently sets the age of criminal responsibility at fifteen. Any child younger who commits a crime is not penalized but subject to rehabilitation. Consequently, drug syndicates are using children as couriers knowing that, even if such children were caught, no penalty will be imposed.

On a similar note, youths below fifteen have been caught in crimes like rape, snatching and public fights. Laughably, there was an incident when one of them was caught and presented a birth certificate as evidence of minority and a basis to claim exemption from criminal liability.

The spirit of the law exempting the youth from criminal liability hinges on the presumption that the youth are not mature enough to have developed a sense of discretion, or the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and the ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. But who would believe that a youth lacks discretion when, upon being caught in the act, has the nerve to present evidence and an argument to defend themselves?

Criminal responsibility should not be based on age but the ability to understand that one’s actions are wrong, and with such understanding, commits the act anyway.

Criminal responsibility should also be based on the freedom to commit the crime knowing it is wrong. Anyone reading this article was a child once, and armed with the knowledge that it is not always easy to disobey what an adult instructs. How do you make a child understand that stealing is wrong, if they go home to parents who nurture the belief that they have to steal if they want to eat? How do you make a child understand that drugs destroy the future, if they are compelled to deliver the same by an adult who has a gun pointed to their head?

Bottom line: there can be no hard and fast rules to determine criminal responsibility. Some people are intelligent criminals at the age of fourteen, some forty year old imbeciles don’t know exposing themselves to passers by qualifies as a lascivious act punishable by law.


Private schools back lowering age of criminal responsibility


Its official – for the first time in Philippine history, a candidate from the Muslim dominated province of Mindanao has won the presidential throne. Its official – history repeats itself as the son of a former dictator loses an election to a widow clad in yellow.

Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his support for the death penalty, a stand that is unlikely to change at any time soon, what with the drug related events plaguing the country even before his formal inauguration. Duterte has been a reputed advocate of extrajudicial killings even before winning the presidency. He apparently has no sympathy for people who are killed because their crimes caught up with them.

The death penalty is currently suspended. There was an attempt at its restoration, but only for the most heinous crimes as allowed by the current constitution. Unfortunately, congress never got around to a definition of what qualifies as ‘heinous’ crimes. As an alternative, the law imposes life imprisonment – a guarantee that a criminal, who has committed what may qualify as a heinous crime, will never get out of jail – but not a guarantee that he will never roam the streets again and commit an equally perverted act either by escaping or, by some miracle, being granted a presidential pardon.

Philippine criminal law is enshrined in the culture of reformation. The country’s penal system imposes imprisonment with the intention of giving criminals a chance to correct their ways. What the law fails to address is that circumstance wherein a criminal is perverted to an extent that all attempts at reformation has failed. Yes, there are criminals who have been in and out of prison, either for the same or different crimes. Is imprisonment still a solution when it obviously has no effect.?

This article submits that it is time to revisit the death penalty. Yes, it is an extreme penalty to be imposed only after a thorough consideration. A penalty that should be imposed only after all attempts at reformation has failed. True, even criminals are entitled to human rights. But the government has an obligation to give all other humans within their jurisdiction a peaceful and orderly society.

The support for the death penalty as a last resort is inspired by the balancing of rights doctrine – the human rights of a criminal who has no respect for the rights of everyone else, is outweighed by the right of everyone else to peace and order – a peace and order which can only be attained if the society is freed from habitual criminals who adamantly refuse to straighten their path.


The final presidential debate: the public interrogation

The last presidential debate aired yesterday. It was different from the earlier debates in the sense that it focused more on issues close to the hearts of the people rather than issues raised by a panel of judges. The last debate managed to downplay personal conflicts among the candidates as a major part of the program required the candidates to address issues personally raised by people from the marginal sectors of society. What follows is a summary of the issues raised and the general responses of the candidates.


Filipino fishermen are affected by the ongoing dispute as they no longer have the freedom to fish in the disputed area. Consequently, they have lost their means to support their families.


Roxas acknowledged the need to recognize that the Philippines suffers by comparison to China’s military resources. Given the disparity of power, Poe raised the need to approach Philippines allies who also have a vested interest in the disputed territory. Santiago pointed out the need to resort to diplomatic means first, but also mentioned the option to let the Philippine coast guard resort to tactics short of war. On this note, Duterte said he will not risk the lives of the military. He also pointed out the need to establish the legitimacy of the Philippine claim through international tribunals to compel China into submission. In the mean time, Binay’s solution is to provide other means of livelihood and support for the fishermen and their families.


Many jobs limit employment to five months as a means to circumvent the labor law requirement to treat an employee as a regular with the benefits of a regular employee after six months. Consequently, many citizens cannot find permanent employment and are faced with the continuous hassle of having to apply for a job and never enjoying any employment benefits.


The candidates all agree on the need to end contractualization which can only be done through an act of congress prohibiting the same. Santiago pointed out it’s unconstitutionality saying it violates the right to security of tenure as guaranteed by the constitution. She also raised the need to develop industries which generate more jobs, create more competition among employers who currently have the upper hand to threaten employees with replacement to get them to submit to employer demands. Poe acknowledged that contractualization is resorted to by small businesses as they cannot afford to provide employee benefits, and raised the need for the government to provide subsidies to such businesses as a means to combat the contractualization practice.


Overseas Contract Workers (OFWs) are forced to work abroad and are faced with the challenge of being away from their families for years, coupled with the difficulty of getting assistance when conflict with foreign employers arise.


The candidates all agree on the need to generate more jobs so working abroad should become a choice and not a necessity. Binay and Roxas proposed the need for a hotline to the Philippine embassy to be available 24/7 so OFWs will have no trouble asking for assistance during their only available time or when needed. Duterte proposed the option to immediately grant a ticket to return to the country whenever they want.


The perpetual traffic and the effect on employees – the loss of income for coming in late, the loss of family and personal time which is instead dedicated to time on the road.


The candidates raised the following solutions: the development of the Metro Railway Transit (MRT) and Light Railway Transit (LRT) to provide for alternative means of transportation; the development of public transportation in general to discourage private transportation which is a contributing factor to road congestion; expedite the bidding process to avoid delays for projects to develop road widening and transportation; continuous monitoring of streets for the religious implementation of traffic rules


The lack of medical care in remote areas which leads to loss of lives – a consequence which could be spared if only medical assistance were available within the vicinity.


The candidates acknowledge that the root of the problem is the lack of medical personnel willing to take assignments in such areas. There was a proposal to provide scholarships for medical education for residents in the area to guarantee that such areas will have at least one doctor. There is the need for hospitals with complete facilities and supplies, and the need for the government to continuously monitor the maintenance of such institutions.


Who will finally end the perpetual peace and order problem in Muslim Mindanao? A single mother raised the issue on behalf of other women who are left with the burden of protecting their children in the middle of the ongoing war.


The candidates point to poverty as the root of the Mindanao problem, and recognize the lack of attention that the Muslim province has received from the government. Roxas insists that this has already been addressed and that Mindanao has been given a bigger budget and points to developments in infrastructure to back up his claim. Duterte goes a step further by raising the historical roots of the problem and the urgency to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law – a law that will solidify Mindanao’s autonomy from the national government.


Related article:

Presidential Battle Highlights

Presidential Battle Highlights

As election day looms closer, the population of Philippine voters must confront the inevitable decision as to who will become the next president. Will it be the crime and punishment advocate who promises to instill order and free the entire country from criminals within six months, perhaps through the same extra judicial executions prevalent in his local territory? Will it be the fighter against graft and corruption, who is also fighting to survive cancer and its complications? Will it be the former mayor of the country’s flourishing business district turned vice president, who continues to be haunted with corruption charges? Or should the presidential throne go to the administration bet who has enough resources to come up with campaign ads graced with innuendos against his opponents? Or should the new kid on the block be given a chance, the one whose citizenship was questioned, overshadowing the fact that her lack of experience in government service is a bigger reason to question her candidacy?

The deal is far from sealed, but the two presidential debates aired live definitely served as an instrument to bring the five candidates up for scrutiny – just like the potential candidates for the highest position in a company (okay, in this case, in the country). The debates not only exposed the ideals each candidate stood for but also how they respond to attacks. Some of the more notable expositions follow.

The candidate who vows to remove income tax for employees earning below 30,000 pesos has no idea how this is going to work, he merely assumes the government’s other sources of funds will be able to compensate for the taxes that will no longer be collected in honor of his promise.

The administration candidate who boasts about the increase in the number of drug pushers his department has placed behind bars, had no sound rebuttal to the claim that drug pushing continues behind bars.

There is an overlapping of authorities when it comes to the control and supervision of the police force, as the candidates who occupied a mayor’s post and the internal and local government secretary ended up pointing fingers over a failed military operation a year ago which claimed the lives of forty-four soldiers.

The candidate whose citizenship was questioned was alleged to have said she hates the country she is now attempting to run. Her rebuttal is at least she is not stealing from the government.

The divorce bill, if ever subjected to veto power is a goner since none of the candidates will support it…but, hey, there is a chance that the death penalty will rise from the grave.

Now, back to square one: who should be the next president among such ‘promising’ candidates? May 9, 2016 for the answer.


The Spotlight on Catholic Hypocrisy

Spotlight is actually the title of a movie, in reference to a sub group within The Boston Globe which specialize in investigative journalism. One of the subjects brought under their scrutiny was the pedophile priest John Georghan. The investigation was triggered by an allegation that the Boston Archbishop Cardinal Law was aware of the priest’s abusive behavior but chose to do nothing – other than move the priest from one parish to another.

The investigation led to a discovery of more abusive priests (the movie and further research could not arrive at an exact figure, but it was along the lines of ninety to two hundred), and more evidence of the Boston Archbishop’s knowledge of the abuses. It also led to a discovery of lawsuits and secret settlements, and a court order to seal records as a means to prevent the priest’s personnel information from being made public.

After a year long investigation on abuses that spanned a decade, the Spotlight went public with their discoveries, with an invitation to victims to tell their stories. This opens the floodgates to a series of accounts from adults who were subjected to sexual abuse from priests during their childhood.

The intention of the film was to highlight the power of the press in bringing out in to the open what the powers that be would rather sweep under the rug. The film was graced with scenes of conflict between a press aimed at uncovering the truth by picking at issues that seem to be hiding behind a smoke screen, and the powers that are apparently reluctant to discuss such issues on the record.

Be that as it may, the incidental consequence of the movie cannot be ignored – it puts the hypocrisy plaguing the Catholic church under the spotlight. A religion whose leaders take a vow of celibacy, just to take the uncontrolled desires of the human flesh out on helpless children. A religion that prides itself in righteousness, is actually led by people who knowingly wrong their fellowmen. A religion that demands repentance of sins, but pretends no sins have been committed by their leaders.

Being raised in the Catholic faith and having gone to Catholic schools, I experienced first hand how their authorities brainwash children into submission by planting the belief that a priest *, being a man of God, can do no wrong. Therefore, if a priest commits a sexual act on a child too naive to object, it cannot possibly be wrong. Or, as one of the characters in the movie posed the question, who says no to God?

Hmmm….perhaps hypocrisy was an inaccurate description. Blasphemy is more like it.

* since I’ve made reference to personal experience, I’d like to add this side note as a deviation from the movie which vilified priests. Catholic nuns are no angels either. Their over the top self righteousness can be nauseating. Their imposition of corporal punishment can be inhuman. I got the impression they sincerely believed what they were doing was right as they saw themselves as a personification of God…yup, blasphemy at its worst.



The Iglesia ni Cristo (hereinafter referred to as INC) have been using the Separation of Church and State doctrine to validate their protests over how the government is dealing with illegal detention charges against the INC administration.

The whole controversy stems from the illegal detention and death threat claims of 2 expelled ministers who were allegedly expelled for causing a rift within the strongly united church. Another expelled minister claims that the administration is known for abductions and detentions geared towards downplaying corruption charges against the INC chief auditor. Illegal detention and issuance of death threats, both falling within the realm of punishable crimes, has justified the intervention of the government to investigate further and bring the INC administration to justice should their accountability be established. Now enter the flock of obedient INC followers who have taken to the streets protesting the government’s intervention and clamoring for separation of church and state.

First off, what is the separation of church and state doctrine? It is the principle which prevents the government from meddling with the affairs of any religion. These affairs include beliefs and principles they require their followers to abide by, programs intended to further the teachings of their church, internal and administrative matters which the religious group has the autonomy to address. The doctrine was never intended to place any religion beyond the reach of the long arm of the law.

That being said, the INC contention is clearly misplaced because the government’s intervention is not on the affairs of their church but on the reported commission of a crime. The government intervened upon the behest of expelled ministers who sought the protection of the state under the belief that they cannot protect themselves. The obligation of the state to protect their citizens outweighs the INC demand to respect their independence.

On a similar note, a senator turned presidential wannabee joined the band wagon and defended the INC, saying the group is just fighting for religious freedom (smirk, laugh out loud, smirk….).

My humble understanding of religious freedom or freedom of religious worship is the non intervention of the government in individual decisions on what religion to follow. Again, this is a principle intended to prevent the government from advocating any religion, to avoid that consequence of downplaying other religions.

Exactly how this doctrine comes into play in the INC controversy is beyond my cerebral capacity to comprehend. Not only is the government not advocating any religion, it is also not stopping the INC from exercising theirs. The government (not to mention the public) has been more than tolerant when the INC took their protest to the busiest streets in Manila and clogged the traffic until the unholy hours of the morning.

While the INC followers blindly obeyed orders to position themselves on the streets and shout separation of church and state without an understanding of what the phrase even means, it is a wonder if they could at least hear everyone else clamoring for their right to move about freely and get home early – too bad, freedom from traffic and rants from ignorant people is not a constitutional right.


Freedom of Expression is NOT for Adults Only

As the school year ended and graduation exercises began, a high school salutatorian was stopped from delivering her graduation speech because it was different from the school-approved version. The student took the graduation ceremony as an opportunity to air her grievance on alleged corrupt practices in the school which was her barrier to graduating with a higher honor. In her defense, the student said she had requested several times for a computation of her grades – a request that fell on deaf ears. As a final and desperate attempt to get her voice heard, she delivered her customized speech, one the school would not have approved had it been subject to their scrutiny, for the obvious reason that it reeked of their dirty laundry.

Consequently, the school refused to release the students credentials required for her entry to college. What ensued was a courtroom confrontation, with the court ruling in favor of the student. While the court recognized the error of the student and the need to impose discipline, it also ruled that such discipline should not be imposed to the extent of destroying youthful dreams and aspirations. In order to avoid being held in contempt, the school decided to release the student’s credentials – under protest.

This issue made headlines in the local news, with mixed reactions from the viewers. Some admired the student for her courage to speak her mind, a courage made more admirable emanating from someone so young. Some criticized the move as out of line, made in the wrong venue or, in the extreme, driven by parental pressure to, not just excel, but be on the very top of one’s game.

Whatever the circumstances that drove the student’s course of action, nothing can justify the school’s action in interrupting her delivery and stopping her from speaking altogether. Aside from the deprivation of the constitutional right to freedom of expression, it leaves the school in a bad light because it leaves the public wondering what the student had to say – what could be so terrible that it should be swept under the rug? The court interpreted the refusal to release the student’s credentials as a form of discipline. It could also qualify as an act of vengeance against someone who has had enough of the limitations autocratically imposed. What other description is there for a situation where you are allowed to speak, but only if you say what is favorable to the authorities? It’s really no different from a kid who gets grounded for answering back to parents.

Just like any other right, freedom of expression has it’s limitations. It may be curved if there is a clear and present danger that is sought to be avoided, a dangerous evil that authorities have the obligation to protect the public against. Exactly what is the clear and present danger that can come out of a graduating speech that the school can justify it’s prevention? Or is the school planning to further argue that they don’t need a justification because the student, as a minor,has no legal personality to go to court and assert her right? Let the response to this feeling almighty institution be: freedom of expression is NOT for adults only.