Monday, March 30, 2009

Chip Tsao and 'The War at Home'

When Chip Tsao's article went out last March 27, a war of words blasted as if a bomb was thrown in the Philippine archipelago. Senator Pia Cayetano, probably not because she is seeking reelection, joined calls to demand a public apology from a top Hong Kong publication and one of its columnists while the Palace is now thinking of possible options on how to deal with the issue.

Well, this is just expected. For intelligent people like them, Tsao's article is like rubbing a salt to a wound. But who's fault is it anyway? Tsao's? Or the people in the government headed by Gloria Arroyo who would rather encourage the Filipinos to go abroad and work as servants than generate employment and high-earning jobs in the country?

Dapat nga pasalamat pa sila at mahiya kay Tsao. What Tsao says is true and the truth will set us free... yun nga lang, me kasabihan: There is no such thing as free lunch. And the cost here is the bitterness of truth.

Below is Tsao's article for your brains to "chow".

The War At Home
March 27th, 2009

The Russians sank a Hong Kong freighter last month, killing the seven Chinese seamen on board. We can live with that—Lenin and Stalin were once the ideological mentors of all Chinese people. The Japanese planted a flag on Diàoyú Island. That’s no big problem—we Hong Kong Chinese love Japanese cartoons, Hello Kitty, and shopping in Shinjuku, let alone our round-the-clock obsession with karaoke.

But hold on—even the Filipinos? Manila has just claimed sovereignty over the scattered rocks in the South China Sea called the Spratly Islands, complete with a blatant threat from its congress to send gunboats to the South China Sea to defend the islands from China if necessary. This is beyond reproach. The reason: there are more than 130,000 Filipina maids working as $3,580-a-month cheap labor in Hong Kong. As a nation of servants, you don’t flex your muscles at your master, from whom you earn most of your bread and butter.

As a patriotic Chinese man, the news has made my blood boil. I summoned Louisa, my domestic assistant who holds a degree in international politics from the University of Manila, hung a map on the wall, and gave her a harsh lecture. I sternly warned her that if she wants her wages increased next year, she had better tell every one of her compatriots in Statue Square on Sunday that the entirety of the Spratly Islands belongs to China.

Grimly, I told her that if war breaks out between the Philippines and China, I would have to end her employment and send her straight home, because I would not risk the crime of treason for sponsoring an enemy of the state by paying her to wash my toilet and clean my windows 16 hours a day. With that money, she would pay taxes to her government, and they would fund a navy to invade our motherland and deeply hurt my feelings.

Oh yes. The government of the Philippines would certainly be wrong if they think we Chinese are prepared to swallow their insult and sit back and lose a Falkland Islands War in the Far East. They may have Barack Obama and the hawkish American military behind them, but we have a hostage in each of our homes in the Mid-Levels or higher. Some of my friends told me they have already declared a state of emergency at home. Their maids have been made to shout “China, Madam/Sir” loudly whenever they hear the word “Spratly.” They say the indoctrination is working as wonderfully as when we used to shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” at the sight of a portrait of our Great Leader during the Cultural Revolution. I’m not sure if that’s going a bit too far, at least for the time being.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A sitting President can be arrested

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has a new reason to be nervous -- sitting presidents are not immune from arrests for committing criminal offenses. This is the legal milestone set by the International Criminal Court (ICC) when it ordered the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a concerted government campaign against civilians.

International Herald Tribune reports:

The criminal court judges took more than seven months to examine the evidence on Bashir before charging him with five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. The two counts of war crimes were for attacks against a civilian population and for pillaging.

In their statement, the judges said the court did not recognize immunity for a head of state and called for the cooperation of all countries - not just the 108 nations that are members of the court - to bring Bashir to justice.

Under the rules of the UN charter and Security Council, Sudan is legally obliged to arrest Bashir, the judges said - but that appears unlikely. The court has no police force or military of its own, and the 24,000 or so UN peacekeepers operating in Sudan have no mandate to detain war crimes suspects.

If this is the case, and human rights groups are able to substantiate the claims against Gloria Arroyo for human rights violations and for suppression of press freedom, then she might find her feet treading the path to jail.

Yun nga lang, medyo malabo na. First, elections are near, barely one year. Kung hindi siya ma-impeach, hindi na rin siya presidente in case ICC issues a warrant of arrest against her. Second, Lorelei Fajardo will surely fire verbal ammunitions against ICC calling the act the work of opposition and the issuance of the warrant of arrest politically motivated. (Un)Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales will also let loose his unbridled tongue to delay the proceedings while FG Mike Arroyo will gather another crowd in EDSA to be airlifted to The Hague to show protests.

Pero sabi, ang protests na gagawin ni FG ay pagtutol sa proceedings ng ICC regarding the criminal cases of his wife. Ang gusto niya daw kasi na talakayin ng ICC ay annulment case dahil wala na rin siyang pakinabang sa asawa niya kung mawawala na ito sa pagiging presidente. Isa pa, wala nga daw na nagawa si Gloria sa ZTE-broadband issue eh pumayag na nga siya na pumunta si Gloria sa Boao kahit pa nasa emergency room siya at may sakit.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Philippines, Piracy and Property Rights

My trip to Quiapo (no, not patterned after Ricky Lee's scriptwriting manual) remains vivid in my head as the songs of the tinderos and tinderas kept going: Dibidi... dibidi... dibidi.

Naalala ko tuloy ang balita kahapon. Gusto ng mga pharmaceutical lobbyists sa America na bigyan ng economic sanctions ang Pilipinas dahil sa Cheaper Medicines Act ng huli. Violation daw yun ng intellectual property rights (IPR) ng mga malalalaking pharmaceutical companies. Pumirma kasi ang Pilipinas sa isang kasunduan under the General Agreement on Tariff and Trades with regard IPR.

Pero kung may punto nga ang mga American lobbyists, ibig sabihin, kailangang mahal ang mga gamot. Ibig ding sabihin, kung ang isang mahirap ay magkakaroon ng karapatan na maka-afford ng gamot para sa isang malusog na pangangatawan ito ay isang violation din ng IPR. Ibig ding sabihin, ang tanga-tanga talaga ng mga Pilipino dahil ibinoboto ng mga ito ay mga opisyal na basta na lang pumipirma ng mga hindi naiintindihan na dokumento. Buti na lang merong Gloria Arroyo na matapos sumabog ang balita na negatibo sa bansa ang implikasyon ng ZTE Broadband Deal, minadyik na lang para mawala ang mga dokumento. Galing di ba?

Pero isang malinaw na implikasyon din ang kahalagahan ng amendments sa Konstitusyon - amendments na hindi lang basta "able to read and write" ang kandidato kundi "able to understand" din ng kanyang binabasa at sinusulat.

But while we agree sa karapatan ng mga nag-isip, nag-imbento, gumawa, nag-develop, etc., ng mga bagay-bagay (gamot, pelikula, damit, musika atbp.), dapat gumawa rin ng paraan ang gobyerno para hindi naman lahat pabor sa mga may-ari ng IPR. Ang trabaho ng gobyerno ay balansehin ang mga interes at gumalaw patungo sa ikauunlad ng bawat isa. Puwedeng isa ang Cheaper Medicines Act pero huwag naman sanang maging bahag ang buntot ang gobyerno pag umalma na ang ibang bansa. Ikalawa, huwag lang tumutok sa gamot. Tutukan din ang iba pang bagay tulad ng Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Bill na hanggang ngayon, nasa drawer pa rin ng mga kongresista. Matagal na ata yun na nai-file pero mukhang hanggang filing cabinet na lang.

Ikatlo, tutukan din ang mga smuggler na kasabwat ng ilang tao diyan sa gobyerno. Mukha kasing ang nangyari, everybody happy lagi at naging "customary" na ang snuggling. Kung may hinuhuli man, ito yung maliliit at mahihina mag-coordinate. Ganun nga ba talaga yun?

Siyempre, lagyan ng pangil ang mga batas. Huwag ng gawin yung slogan ni Erap na "walang kai-kaibigan at walang kama-kamag-anak" kasi may lusot dun. Wala na ngang kaibigan (kaya nga umalma si Jun Lozada dahil kumonti ang kita), at wala na ring kamag-anak kasi panay na lang "kapamilya". Otherwise, bakit sinasabing "all roads of corruption lead to Rome... este, Home... I mean, Malacanang"?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Merceditas and the ethics of lawyers

Q: Do you know the reason why lawyers cannot enter directly either the heaven or the hell?
A: Because they keep on questioning the guidelines of St. Peter.

But kidding aside, lawyers have this Canon of Professional Ethics which they need to follow "that the public shall have absolute confidence in the integrity and impartiality of administration of justice." And Merceditas Gutierrez is a lawyer before becoming an Ombudsman. But it seems that her breeding is not of a lawyer as she personally lashed back at her critics who followed the rules and filed an impeachment complaint against her ... o lawyers lang ang dapat sumunod sa Canon of Professional Ethics?

Kung sabagay, why should we expect kay Merceditas to be following the Canon eh simpleng argumentum ad hominem hindi niya nga alam na fallacy pala. But even then, her speech makes a very good comic show. Here's the take from Inquirer.Net: