1. "

    I am not referring to the usual tactics of minority politics: procedural delays, privilege speeches, even (in the least political branch of government) dissenting opinions. I mean something more fundamental: protest actions such as walkouts and boycotts are a form of rejection of the prevailing system. One who accepts that system (including the challenge to reform it from within) by joining the mainstream will find it difficult to convince others to swim against the current.

    Please note that I did not say that you can no longer act as alternative politicians. You certainly can, and you should. To use language older than those of participation or protest, you must serve as a leaven. Personal integrity is important, but the real need is for the embrace of the true foundation stone of a republic: public virtue. A corps of political activists dedicated to the honor and glory of the country, consumed with the ideal of public service, will raise the quality of mainstream politics.

    You cannot go back again, but at the same time you must find your way back —- all the way to the beginning of our history as a nation.

    The roots of your politics lie entangled in the freedom struggle during the martial law years, and it is only right that your political statements, your party positions, reflect that background.

    But is it possible that your references are too limiting, your sense of history too, well, recent? I realize that it is a journalist obsessed with the rough drafts of history asking the question, but setting aside the question of possible bias: You might want to consider integrating your political program into a historical framework that goes beyond the First Quarter Storm.

    "
    — 

    Outside, Looking In - John Nery

    So much insight to be found. 

     

  2. Filipino Slavery in the Digital Age: Human Trafficking, Prostitution, and Cybercrime.

    "Whether one’s skin be black or white, all people are equal; it may be that each is superior in knowledge, wealth, beauty but there is no superiority in human dignity." - Emilio Jacinto

    "…patriotism will always be a virtue among oppressed peoples, because it will at all times mean love of justice, of liberty, of personal dignity." - Jose Rizal

    There is something faintly disingenuous about the latest line of thinking, pushed by elected and appointed government officials, concerning cybercrime and human trafficking. Ever since news broke internationally about the absolutely abhorrent practice of child prostitution and abuse via the internet, local pundits and officials have attempted to recast the issue of human trafficking as one of cybercrime; overtly linking the issue to the current Supreme Court TRO on the implementation of the flawed Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (See “Note on Critiques of the Cybercrime Prevention Act” at the end of this essay). Recently, Senator Grace Poe, a staunch supporter of the Freedom of Information Act, came out in support of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and exhorted the Supreme Court to lift their temporary retraining order:

    ““We passed it in 2012, but’s now it’s pending before the court because of the libel provision. That’s understandable, but now we really need it because cyberpornography is becoming widespread,” she said.” - Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Poe: Child porn underscores importance of cybercrime law” 

    Without going to much into detail, the Cybercrime Prevention Act is a law that is fundamentally flawed through its restriction of basic essential human rights, while placing certain unchecked powers in the hands of government. There is little doubt the government needs new tools to survive in a changing world; which bills like the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom attempt to address without the infirmities inherent in the Cybercrime Prevention Act. 

    With regards to the current form of discourse (as framed by Senator Poe and others), the conflation of human trafficking and child pornography (or cyber-pornography) is a dangerous and disingenuous one. The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 has little actual bearing on the issue of child prostitution and human trafficking in the Philippines, instead it supposedly combats the modes of dissemination, and backtracks prosecution from there. Yet, the focus on the method of dissemination obscures what is really at the heart of the problem: A decades long inability to combat child prostitution and human trafficking. We have turned our brethren into commodities, salable to the highest, or readiest, bidder. Patriotism as love of neighbor, and country as upholding liberty and inherent human dignity, is in short supply. For years, we have failed to protect Filipinos and create an inclusive environment, anchored on the protection of human rights, that allows them to develop and grow. This is a symptom of that problem.

    The Perils of Short-Term Thinking and the Specter of Filipino Slavery

    The disingenuousness of the current discourse on child prostitution and cybercrime is found in the intellectually bankrupt linking of the two via the TRO on the Cybercrime Prevention Act. Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa exemplified this way of thinking, when he said

    ““The debate on the Cybercrime Law focuses on the substantial part of it. But the police needs the procedural aspect of the law so that we can run after these pedophiles,”

    Let’s be frank, the Cybercrime law is an expedient method for potentially shutting down (and that is up for serious debate, based on the information technology capabilities our government has demonstrated so far) the current, favored method for disseminating pornography to the Western world (don’t forget, the primary market for pornography, whether ‘vanilla’ or reprehensible is the West). Point of fact, we have a number of existing laws that can be utilized to combat and prosecute human trafficking and child pornography, regardless of the method used to transmit the material: the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009 (RA 9775), the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 (RA 9995), and the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act, (RA 9208, as amended by RA 10364). All of these, not to mention the usual laws we have on the books regarding pornography, prostitution, and human trafficking, are all useful and necessary in rooting out human trafficking - though also in dire need of expansion and strengthening. The linking of the current situation with Cybercrime Prevention Act smells of an implicit attempt to whitewash long-standing failures on the part of government and police forces to truly combat and root out human trafficking throughout the archipelago. Child prostitution and human trafficking are not new problems, only the use of the internet to convey it.

    In 1989, the New York Times ran an article called “In a Philippine Town, Child Prostitution, Despite Protests, Is a Way of Life”:

    “Drive into this green and quiet town 40 miles southeast of Manila and groups of men will run alongside your car, banging on the windows, offering a choice of the local attractions: A boat ride to the scenic waterfall or a child prostitute.

    Visit the professional historian who lives here, Sonia M. Zaide, and she will spread on her table hundreds of pictures of local boys performing sexual acts with foreign men, as well as neatly typed index cards with the names and detailed records of the boys and their customers.

    Talk with the Mayor, Augusto Kamatoy, or with the parents of the children, and they will describe the economic benefits of the local trade in boys and the generosity of the foreigners who have paid for their young lovers’ schooling, built a basketball court and funded civic projects.”

    The story continues:

    “Prostitution, fueled by poverty, is common in the Philippines, particularly in the towns outside the two major American military bases.

    Child prostitution is also widespread, with estimates of 9,000 or more children involved in Manila alone.

    Women are an export commodity for the Philippines, where thousands of Filipinas take jobs as servants, workers in the health service industry and entertainers in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The entertainment industry often involves prostitution.”

    That is 1989, and it had nothing to do with the internet. The depressing, cold hard truth is, because of years of rampant corruption and poorly planned out development, for some one of the only commodities their have to leverage is their bodies, or those of their children and family members. We can point to the West as the culprits, after all, in the case of child trafficking, it’s their ‘deviants’ who come to our shores, who order these videos, who lust after our children and find the means to get a hold of them virtually or physically, but that belies the fact that we have known about the human trafficking and child prostitution problem in this country and have done little to truly combat it in years past.

    Quick Fixes and the Loss of Innocence

    “It is also important to say something about the very structure of trafficking as a socio-economic activity. As many others have remarked, traffickers never work in isolation, but always in concert with others — from illegal recruiters to corrupt police, to an entire panoply of service providers in the finance, communications and transportation industries. Trafficking, in this sense, is a networked phenomenon: its operations are de-centralized, with shifting locations and shadowy agents. It works as much on the level of violent coercion as on artful dissimulation, which creates complicated relations between perpetrators, victims and the latter’s families, making it difficult to detect — much less prosecute — human traffickers.” - Lila Ramos Shahani

    The fixation on Cybercrime Prevention as a panacea for prostitution (cyber or otherwise) is erroneous. It is not the internet that empowers this sort of activity; it is the nature of social development in this country, it is the ready access to flesh and the ability to hide with impunity these nefarious activities. It is the decades long inability of local and national government to combat generational poverty, in some cases driven greedy and self-serving politicians who undermine their localities and homes to line their own pockets, that drives the proliferation of this sordid business in human flesh. And yes, it also falls on the parents who sell their children into the flesh trade. But then again, what is it like to feel powerless to change your economic and social fate? What is it like to grow up and raise children in an environment that seems to tacitly approve prostituting children and adults by the very lack of coordinated attempts to end the trade? There are cultural and economic issues at play here as well, ones that create a sense that human beings are commodities, children are labor, and the value of a human being is only seen in economic terms.

    The sad fact is the Philippines has long been known as one of the human trafficking capitals of the world. There are a number of civil society organizations that have been trying to both combat the practice and save those who are forcibly coerced over the years. But, for years the gains have been slow and, in some cases, have come up against resistance from local and even national officials. If you ask why, the answer will depress. Simply: Because some politicians and government officials (police officers included), whether overtly or tangentially, have benefited from the sex trade. Much like the drug trade, cuts are given out, protection money handed over, and in some instances, the trade is even overseen and approved by elected officials. Witness the small town that the New York Times reported on in 1989.

    There is little doubt that we are in dire need of a rejiggering of our policy framework that empowers the investigative and prosecutorial arms of the government; much the same as we are in dire need of an infusion of capital (financial, physical, and knowledge) into our police and judiciary to provide them with the necessary tools to combat crime and human trafficking throughout the country. While we are on it, we are still struggling to develop pathways towards truly inclusive growth that undermines poverty in the Philippines; as poverty declines so too will the pool of the willing. However, the unwilling? The kidnapped and forcibly trafficked? That goes straight to rule of law and the ability of our police and justice system to investigate, arrest, and successfully prosecute modern day slave traders. Cracking down on the methods of dissemination through a flawed law like the Cybercrime Prevention Act rudimentarily appears to treat the symptoms. But it is nothing more than a palliative given under the pretense of doing something masterful to crackdown on the flesh trade. It does nothing to counter-act, to address, the underlying problems that give rise to this execrable activity within our own borders.

    Cutting out the Rot

    Lila Ramos Shahani provides an insightful and harrowing look into the nature of human trafficking in the Philippines in her presentation, Situating Human Trafficking in the Philippines: Global, National and Personal Contexts. Of note, is her construct of the multi-faceted nature of Philippine socio-cultural and economic context that gives rise to human trafficking:

    “It is not surprising that most trafficking victims are poor, lacking in education, and desperate for employment opportunities elsewhere. Most are victimized by illegal recruiters and sent to countries banned to Filipino workers. Tragically, all remain unprotected by an entire social continuum — parents, friends, schoolteachers, immigration officials, and airport/port authorities — that should never have turned a blind eye on them in the first place. The system, at some level, had irrevocably let them down. To understand this chronic failure, it is necessary to get a sense of the structural forces underlying human trafficking.

    Poverty, unemployment and underemployment have no doubt played a significant role. The bleak prospects for gainful and creative employment have made people vulnerable to the lure of illegal recruiters offering better prospects abroad. Additionally, poverty brought on by civil war, as we see in parts of rural and southern Philippines — where polygamy is common — create rich breeding grounds for trafficking, leading to sexual and labor exploitation. Already violently displaced, refugees of civil war tend to look upon forced migration as an improvement upon their present situation.

    In the Philippines, civil strife and massive unemployment on a national scale led the Marcos dictatorship to adopt a policy of encouraging overseas migration throughout the 1970s. Given the urgent need for skilled and unskilled workers in the oil-rich Middle East, the booming economies of East Asia, and the aging populations of Western Europe, North America and, lately, Israel, huge markets opened up for Filipino labor.”

    The implied connection she draws between our export labor policies and human trafficking should give us all pause. In the talk, Shahani does provide some hope that the current administration understands the serious nature of human trafficking and is working to combat it through social, legal, and economic development means.

    Yet, as Shahani rightly says in her presentation, we cannot look away from the overwhelming need to strengthen our government’s policies and responses to a changing world, both with regards to upholding and protecting human rights, and counteracting human trafficking and cybercrime. Laws like the Cybercrime Prevention Act, by dint of its various infirmities and myopic view, do little to accomplish this. Laws like that trade the protection of intrinsic human rights for the pitiful appearance of combating cybercrime and human trafficking in the Philippines. Laws, policies, and reforms that are carefully calibrated to meet the exigencies of the modern world (like the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom with regards to the internet) however, do in their own way empower the Philippine government to change and stay current with the modern world. That being said, no single law truly gets to the heart of combating human trafficking, prostitution, and child prostitution in this country. Those solutions will not be found in fixating on means of distribution; it will be found combating the various social, cultural, legal, and judicial infirmities that have severely hindered any attempts to root out human trafficking in the Philippines.

    “The government’s strategic stance on curbing human trafficking has resulted in considerable improvement in the trafficking situation throughout the country. Cases are now being strictly monitored, while the response to victims and their families has improved and become more effective. Incidents of human trafficking have decreased, thanks to a sustained campaign to disseminate information about the problem. The prosecution of trafficking criminals continues, as courts are encouraged to take action.

    While the attempts of the Aquino administration to address the problems of international trafficking have been laudable, it has yet to carry out more concrete steps to eliminate the deeply entrenched patterns of domestic trafficking: for one thing, victim identification skills among government personnel could be strengthened. Such problems, as I have indicated above, are far more politically delicate and explosive to deal with than those of international trafficking, and are often more difficult to track since they don’t require the same amount of paperwork.” - Lila Ramos Shahani

    The last few years have shown an uptick in coordinated government attempts to end the practice; exemplified in our improvement in combating human trafficking according to watchdogs and well-presented by experts like Shahani. But as they have rightly pointed out, we have been so graphically shown, it is not near enough. Then again, maybe it should never be enough. When it comes to upholding and protecting human rights, to ensuring that there is an environment conducive to inclusive growth, government and civil society can never rest on its laurels. Yes, combating human trafficking is a global issue, one that requires multilateral coordinated efforts to truly end. But, that does not absolve the Philippines from its duties to protect the human rights of its citizens, and most especially its children. 

    Human trafficking is modern day slavery, it is the worst fears of a civilized people brought to light: The dehumanizing of our brothers and sisters, the commodification of a people. In any iteration it is a blight on the soul of a people and nation, one that is not easily removed. But, when the victims are innocent children, children given over to be abused, degraded, and treated like sex toys for amusement because of the powerlessness of a country to protect them, the stench of these acts linger, it festers and erodes the fabric of a society, unless something is done we face, not only the irrevocable stain of these acts, but the very loss of our collective soul.

    The overwhelmingly sad part is these activities are not isolated to locale in the Philippines. It is not the work of one or two people, but on-going throughout our entire country. This is the face of corruption; this is the loss of our collective innocence. And yes something must be done, the correct things are being done. But also more of the right things must be done; these actions must be something more than palliative, more than PR gestures (like connecting the Cybercrime Prevention Act with child prostitution) designed to placate an angry foreign and domestic audience. Needs demand the creation of lasting change for the better. This is about combating poverty and corruption, about ending impunity and instituting the rule of law; it is about protecting our citizens and allowing them to flourish; it is about inculcating all those things - human dignity, liberty, opportunity, security, and ‘happiness’ - that are inherent in creating an inclusive society, one founded on the protection of human rights and the opportunity for individual and collective growth and development. Unlocking the solutions to these problems are not simple, they are not easy, and they will take time. 

    It behooves our government and its officials to stop looking for quick and easy fixes and to continue the long hard work of creating a legal and judicial environment that aggressively goes after child and human trafficking. Waiting for the ‘evidence’ of malfeasance to appear on the internet, and working backwards, does not accomplish this at all. Yes, combating the distribution side is important and must be addressed properly, but that will not end the modern day slave trade in the Philippines. But working to combat end trafficking before the victims are abused does. That must be our collective focus in this moment: Ending the practice before it has a chance to begin.

    Note on critiques of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012:

    Quick discussions of the failures of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 can be found here, here, and here. A group of young advocates has presented a ‘crowdsourced’ alternative to the Cybercrime Act called the Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom, which has the support of a number of elected officials and civil society organizations.

    At the heart of the critique of the Cybercrime Prevention Act is the sheer amount of unilateral power it places in the hands of the government when it comes to ‘policing’ the internet. While the overarching goal is applaudable, no one will argue that against the Philippines needing new mechanisms for policing the internet, it veers to far towards infringing on the inherent rights of Filipinos, specifically those of freedom of speech. In their Editorial (A blow against Free Speech) on September 20, 2012, the Philippine Daily Inquirer rightly pointed out:

    “The new Cybercrime Prevention Act, signed into law by President Aquino on Sept. 12, takes the dangerously outmoded provisions on libel in the Revised Penal Code—and dumps them online. Without any legislative debate, without any public hearing, indeed with hardly anyone looking, these libel provisions have been unthinkingly extended to all online content. While the extension itself is only a small part of the new law, it now threatens every citizen who has access to a computer device with unconscionable restrictions on our hard-earned right to free speech.”

    Additional Resources on Human Trafficking not linked in body of essay:

    HumanTrafficking.org: A Web Resource for Combating Human Trafficking: http://www.humantrafficking.org/countries/philippines

    GMA Network: Quick Facts on Human Trafficking in the Philippines: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/340851/newstv/reeltime/quick-facts-human-trafficking-in-the-philippines

    BBC: “Computer Generated ‘Sweetie’ catches online predators”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24818769

    PREDA Foundation: http://www.preda.org/en/

     

  3. "The population of the islands is made up of a vast mass of ignorant, superstitious people, well-intentioned, light hearted, temperate, somewhat cruel, domestic and fond of their families, and deeply wedded to the Catholic Church…"
    — 

    William Howard Taft

    Jeez. That sounds way too familiar. Something about 'infantile religiosity” maybe? Quite sad that our so-called enlightened intelligensia end up parroting crap from our ‘benevolent’ colonizers.

     

  4. "If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.

    Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration,” it’s about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins"
    — Benjamin Bratton - "we need to talk about ted" (care of @renaguila)
     

  5. "Being an intellectual takes some form of thoughtfulness, some respect for evidence and truth, something that goes beyond hollow, sleazy rhetoric that plays dumb every time it gets caught out truncating quotes or doctoring charts. Being an expert means you guide an audience through what is known and said about a subject with some respect for the totality of that knowing and saying before favoring your own interpretation."
    — 

    Timothy Burke as quoted by Daniel W Drezner in “Intellectual Power and Responsibility in an Age of Superstars.”

    Applicable to Rappler and some of their neophyte ‘thought leaders’, along with a number of ‘writers’ shifting to mainstream on dubious credentials

     

  6. "Demagogues tell the crowd what to think; when their phrases are echoed back to them, they boldly announce that they are merely relaying popular sentiment…professional politicians now claim to listen to vox populi in the form of instant phone-in votes and popularity polls on everything from immigration policy to pedophilia. Twittering back to their audiences its own fears and prejudices, they are relieved of the burden of leadership or initiative."
    — Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land
     

  7. "

    I cannot refrain from expressing to you a certain melancholy upon thinking that this new being in whose veins Filipino blood runs and who will be educated with so much care will afterwards be a lost member for a country that is in need of men. I have the same sentiment when I hold in my arms the {French born} son of {Juan} Luna and Pacita Pardo {de Tavera} - he is one French and one Filipino less…The only thing you can do is to educate well your child and inculcate in him noble and honorable sentiments so that one day, if good luck sends him to the Philippines, he may not be one of so many who exploit the ignorance of the unfortunate, and be one more tyrant to the brothers of his father.

    All honorable men of the world are compatriots.

    "
    — Jose Rizal to Fernando Canon, 2 May 1889
     

  8. Musings on Impunity, Tyranny, and the Slaves of Today

    “The child or the youth who tries to be anything else is charged of being vain and presumptuous; the curate ridicules him with cruel sarcasm, his relatives look upon him with fear, and strangers pity him greatly. No going forward! Get in line and follow the crowd.” - Jose Rizal

    I am of mind that most discussions on impunity and broad socio-cultural change in the Philippines have to begin with one of Jose Rizal’s most pointed yet complex quotes:

    So, while the Filipino has not the sufficient energy to proclaim, with head erect and bosom bared, its rights to social life, and to guarantee it with its sacrifices, with its own blood…while we see them wrap themselves up in their egotism and with a forced smile praise the more iniquitous actions, begging with their eyes a portion of the booty - why grant them liberty? With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worst! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?” - Jose Rizal

    The history of democracy is, in a very real sense, the story of abrogating and limiting the power of those in positions of authority. At its most fundamental, revolutionary thought, revolutionary events (and documents) have been about defining the limits of authority and entrenching the concept of individual and collective rights. Globally, the last few centuries have been focused on that very battle. Democracy, with all of its complexities and frailties was the driving force behind the twentieth century; and its power continues to be as inspiring and disconcerting in the twenty-first. But where the twentieth was about instilling the idea of democracy globally, the twenty-first appears to be set up as a battle to both preserve and invigorate democracy as an equitable structure of national governance. 

    Locally, the history of the Philippines, and the Filipino people, over the last two centuries has been about achieving the state that Rizal demanded of all Filipinos: The grace to stand firm in the face of iniquitous action, the strength to soldier on in the face of ideological and political obstacles, and the wit to define a coherent, inclusive political and cultural spectrum. However, the battle within is also the battle without: The continuous effort to ensure that we are not slipping into antiquated norms of power relations and feudal rule, that we continue to move forward in crafting a responsive representative democracy, where elected leaders see their positions as an opportunity to serve and not to rule.

    “Yet to reach that condition it is necessary that there be no tyrannical and no enslaved peoples, it is necessary that man go about freely, that he know how to respect the rights of others in their own individuality and for this there is much blood to be shed…” - Jose Rizal

    Whether we realize it or not, the increasing furor over the Binay-Dasmariñas Village incident touches on much of what has bedeviled the Philippines for the last two centuries: Since the end of the Spanish era, since of the end of the American era, since the end of the Marcos era. We still grapple with the issues that Rizal concisely touched upon: Tyranny as a matter of course, collaboration with authoritarian powers that be for personal gain, the inability to support the rule of law and men (not man). Whether it’s supporting Binay’s ability to move with impunity in his ‘domain’ (an idea that seems more at home in a feudal land, than in a modern representative democracy) or the dismissal of the entire issue on account of antiquated ideas of ‘classicism,’ the form that discourse has taken around the issue has provided insight into the various forms that tyranny continues to be extant in the land. More disheartening is the discovery that some ideologues and pseudo-advocates of social change seem to believe tyranny and impunity are acceptable; that limits on power and authority do not exist, so long as the victim is either wealthy, or tainted by association with money. The forced divisions of classism remain in full force among certain social advocates. Nay, they even gleefully embrace classism as an ideological fact; drawing Manichaeistic divisions of good and evil along class lines. Class warfare remains the norm, when it should have become apparent by now that collaboration and cooperation should be what we are all striving for. 

    Combating impunity and tyranny should be our collective focus; and when people dismiss it as irrelevant for no other reason than the victims are tainted by ‘class’, they are not only supporting tyranny, they are encouraging it to flourish. 

    The people do not complain because they have no voice, do not move because they are lethargic, and you say that they do not suffer, because you have not seen their hearts bleed. But one day you will see and you will hear, and ah! Woe unto them that build their strength on ignorance or in fanaticism; woe unto them who are engaged in deception and work in darkness, believing that all are asleep!” - Jose Rizal

    For me, the central issues surrounding the Binay-Dasma incident are manifold: Human rights (of the security guards), rights of private property owners (feudalism?), and the limits of mayoral power. Disconcertingly little has been remarked by way of how the intrinsic rights of the security guards were infringed upon by the mayor and his convoy. They were threatened, cajoled, and eventually (implicitly) arrested and detained (even if for four hours). Unlawful detention is unlawful detention, whether for four or forty hours. And yet, little has been remarked on this. More disappointingly, not much has come from the national government concerning the actions of police officers during and after the incident. And unsurprisingly, some social advocates and activists have chosen to ignore the infringing of human rights, in favor of adhering to an antiquated and played out concepts of classism. However, lost amidst restrictive militant ideology and classism, is that this incident is elevated in importance because it encompasses so many of the multifarious social and political extant today. And, in some sense most importantly, it is well-documented. We have visible proof of impunity in action.

    “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” - Thomas Jefferson

    From a socio-political perspective, one of the issues we have long combated in the country is the insidious idea that the authority of those in power has little limit; especially in areas that fall under their ‘jurisdiction.’ In point, this runs counter to the idea of individual and collective human rights. And in essence is counter to the very principles of democracy and representative governance. Any law that enshrines the authority of a mayor, or any government employee, to move wherever, whenever he or she chooses entrenches impunity. Which is why we do not have one. In a sense, legal regimes are concerned with defining the limits of power and authority, of structuring the relationship between a government and the governed. Hence, the overarching concept that power derives from the People, and can only be used for the betterment of the collective body politic. Power is granted and authority limited by the rights of individuals; else we run the danger of supporting tyranny in its various forms.

    “Peoples and government are correlated and complimentary….Like people, like government, we will say…” - Jose Rizal

    We can argue the minutiae of the various laws that enable Dasmariñas Village to control access to and from the village (reference the Magna Carta of Homeowner’s Associations of 2010 and prior failures by Makati to open Dasmariñas and Forbes to public access). We can get caught up in arguing why Mayor Binay and Senator Binay failed to heed a clearly displayed sign that directed residents and guests to use either the Palm or Pasay Road exit after 10PM. And we can wonder at why Mayor Binay and Senator Binay felt they did not have to follow the law and easily understandable rules, when so many others (diplomats, foreign dignitaries, congressmen, senators, ex-presidents, our current president, businessmen, and pretty much everyone - no VIP rules here) have been able to by and large abide by the gate schedule. And we can wonder at what possessed Mayor Binay and Senator Binay to push to exit Banyan gate, when Palm is less than two minutes away. Or, most worrisome, how Mayor Binay and Senator Binay continue to believe their actions were not only correct, but understandable. But, within that minutiae, and the feelings of anger likely to arise from a careful review of the incident and aftermath by the powers that be, we also run the risk of losing sight of some of the larger issues at hand: Impunity, tyranny, and the failure there-in to call its perpetrators to task, both by a supposedly empowered and active citizenry and a supposedly reform-minded government. This is not only about why Mayor Binay and Senator Binay chose to act the way they did, but, most importantly, about how we view and approach the manifold political and philosophical issues surrounding the incident.

    Patriotism can only be a crime in a tyrannical people, because then it is rapine under a beautiful name, but however perfect humanity may become, patriotism will always be a virtue among oppressed peoples, because it will at all times mean love of justice, of liberty, of personal dignity.” - Jose Rizal

    Feudalism was defined by the king owning and controlling all within his jurisdiction. He exerted absolute control over his domain. We do not live in a feudal age anymore, despite coming close a few decades ago. A mayor (or senator and vice-president) is not a king, and his or her power is not absolute. We are still combating extant feudalesque concepts governing our relationship with those elected to positions of authority. Coupled with our cultural predilection for patrimonial leadership, this creates situations where the assertion of power seemingly lacks limitations and strictures. Even worse, we convince ourselves that power and authority should not be blunted for the betterment of all. At times, it seems we remain akin to slaves, worshiping at the altar of tyranny, yearning for a share of the tyrannical’s wealth and power. Or worse, some partaking of that illicit wealth, with a tacit promise to share in the power, in exchange for overt, or subtle, support. When balanced against that sort of hobbling and destructive partisanship, egotism, and over-wheening self-interest, the purity of Rizalian patriotism, ennobled by a shared national consciousness and dedicated to love of justice, of liberty, and of personal dignity for all, becomes all the more alluring. It is a dream that lingers and haunts with its promise. The journey towards achieving that Rizalian ideal requires collaboratively and cooperatively combating tyranny and impunity, in whatever multifarious and nefarious forms it may appear.

    Special Note: On a personal note, I want to commend the security guards of Dasmariñas Village for performing their duty in implementing village policy in exemplary fashion. On a daily basis, they have to deal with numerous peculiar personalities, many of whom are used to getting their way. In my experience, the village security guards have been consistently courteous, respectful, and helpful. For this, and many reasons, I am disheartened by the callous treatment of their plight by certain self-professed advocates for social change. Their situation is no different from many others who are the victims of tyranny and impunity on a daily basis. What sets this incident apart, however, is the circumstances and the evidence we possess. While I have reservations concerning the reaction and current actions of the Dasmariñas Village Association and their officers, I whole-heartedly support their decision to support and defend the security guards involved in this altercation. I hope they continue to do so, and  more people consider the personal and collective ramifications of what occurred.

    The simplest thing would be to sweep it under the rug, to forget about the incident, brand it as rich-vs-rich or powerful-vs-powerful and dismiss out of hand. But the fact is this incident speaks to so many issues currently extant in our country, just because the powers involved deem it settled, or the hopeful powers waiting in the wings and hiding in the shadows deem it unimportant, does not make it so. This issue, like so many others, demand our attention precisely because it speaks to the heart of power relations in our country. There are lessons to be learned here, hard ones, both from the incident itself and our collective reactions, critiques, and even apologies.

     

  9. "

    Section 15. Coordination During Emergencies. - The LDRRMCs shall take the lead in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the effects of any disaster based on the following criteria:

    (a) The BDC, if a barangay is affected;

    (b) The city/municipal DRRMCs, If two (2) or more barangays are affected;

    (c) The provincial DRRMC, if two (2) or more cities/municipalities are affected;

    (d) The regional DRRMC, if two (2) or more provinces are affected; and

    (e) The NDRRMC, if two (2) or more regions are affected.

    The NDRRMC and intermediary LDRRMCs shall always act as support to LGUs which have the primary responsibility as first disaster responders. Private sector and civil society groups shall work in accordance with the coordination mechanism and policies set by the NDRRMC and concerned LDRRMCs.

    Section 16. Declaration of State of Calamity. - The National Council shall recommend to the President of the Philippines the declaration of a cluster of barangays, municipalities, cities, provinces, and regions under a state of calamity, and the lifting thereof, based on the criteria set by the National Council. The President’s declaration may warrant international humanitarian assistance as deemed necessary.

    The declaration and lifting of the state of calamity may also be issued by the local sanggunian, upon the recommendation of the LDRRMC, based on the results of the damage assessment and needs analysis.

    "
     

  10. "(c) The President may, upon request of the local government unit concerned, direct the appropriate national agency to provide financial, technical, or other forms of assistance to the local government unit. Such assistance shall be extended at no extra cost to the local government unit concerned.cralaw"
    — Chapter 3 - Inter-Governmental Relations. The Local Government Code of the Philippines.