Wrong As They Are, They Are Right

Infuriating as listening to lawyers Raul Lambino and Ferdinand Topacio wail about their poor oppressed clients Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Jose Miguel Arroyo is, they are fundamentally right.


The 1987 Constitution, that pesky litle document, does say the right to travel cannot be impaired “except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.” The Memorandum Circular giving Justice Secretary Leila De Lima the power to put the two of them on a travel watch list, although convenient for us, is not a law.


And although it’s true that the Aquino government will be courting riots if it lets Arroyo escape justice*, as lawyers like saying, that has no basis in logic or in law either. And unless the Arroyos suddenly gain the ability to turn into giant mecha-Arroyos, they do not pose much of a threat to national security. If Arroyo plans to go to Europe for an operation to give her that ability, maybe… Otherwise, though, as smarmy suspects like to say on police procedurals, charge them or let them go.


NOT a Mecha-Arroyo


Sure, Arroyo is probably exaggerating the seriousness of her hyoparathyroidism and her condition can probably treated here as well as it can be abroad. Sure, she’s probably looking for a way out of the plunder and electoral sabotage complaints filed against her. Sure, we probably all want to slap that smug look off her face. But that is of no moment because the Constitution and our set of laws say we cannot keep her from leaving the country unless she’s actually facing a case in court.


“But she’s been charged with plunder/cheating/making deals with the devil/the apostasy of claiming to talk to God!,” you might say. And you would be right. But “charged,” in these cases, means accused of. That means people have accused her of all of those things, but that does not mean those complaints have been brought to court.


They are in that limbo called “preliminary investigation” that basically means the prosecutor (or fiscal, if you prefer) is still trying to find out if there is enough of a case to bring before a judge.


No, that kind of case comes after...


No matter what Attorney Topacio says, this is not Martial Law. And one of the things that the oligarchs put into the Constitution to prevent Martial Law-esque abuse is a limit to the power of the executive to do whatever it wants. Hold-Departure Orders, the actual and legal order to keep someone from leaving the country, can only be issued by a court.


The Watch List Order issued by the DOJ is, by requiring people on the list to ask permission before leaving, is a sort of freak hold-departure order that could mean the executive branch could keep you from leaving the country just because a complaint has been filed against you. And as we have learned through long years of watching celebrities do it to each other, anybody with money to spare can file a complaint even without basis.

Annabelle Rama alone generates 10-15% of revenues collected each year from filing fees


Yes, we want to see the Arroyos behind bars (especially that Mikey, for looking and acting like a douchebag), but not like this. The Arroyos are innocent (except in out hearts) and deserve the same rights that everybody else enjoys even though we hate them. In the meantime, you can head over to the Other Website and look at borderline funny pictures of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo given the DPWH treatment. If nothing else, it will keep your rage going.


Fuck you anyway, Mikey

 *”Justice”, in this case, meaning imprisonment.  

(Thx, Indolent reader FreeSince09)

Indolent Internet Digest 8

When the stars are right, Indolent Indio comes out with a short and hastily-done roundup of things we’ve found on the Internet (pinoy chapter, of course.) Quality, quantity, content, and success may vary.

Third World Truth is either good or sort of scary. In any case, it’s a blog that deserves watching.

An excerpt:

Now, when those clowns get to save enough after slaving in their corporate blow jobs, they can finally rent or perhaps even own an entry-level unit. They’ll struggle with payments, but they’ll do what they need to do to maintain that illusionary status symbol. Watch out for these guys in your family reunions. They’re going to borrow money from you at the first chance they get. It’s pathetic.


Congressional Observer, whose pictures we posted/totally stole this week, is a blog run from within the House of Representatives although certainly not by the House of Representatives. Here’s a throw-away line on former Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquiel’s gown at the State of the Nation Address a few months ago: “Sorry but mas maganda ang mga gay companions’ get ups kesa sa iyo, mudra.”


Also, while we were sleeping, a video on the truth about the Cojuangco family went viral and infected us with the “truth” as presented by some dude with animation skills:

Indio: Bravo (no relation), who is a historian and is good at it, posted the video then took it down because “while I still do believe that we have a feudalism/padrino system that has to be crushed by empowering Filipinos through education, it is clear that the video indeed is promoting a sort of propaganda.”  And that is true, the video strays into silliness at times.

Here is a longer discussion by De La Salle University professor Michael Charleston Briones Chua on the “truths” in the video.

TL;DR version: “There is nothing here that is new for those who read Philippine History books.”


Also, more than 1,000 people have liked a Facebook page absolving murder suspect Ramon Joseph “RJ” Bautista, thus freeing up court dockets for other cases. Indeed, the Facebook page renders our justice system redundant.


A Facebook page supporting his sister Ramona Bautista/Revilla is not doing so well, with only 159 people liking it so far. Maybe her flying to Turkey instead of facing charges has something do with that. You can’t fool Internet justice, Ramona. We’re not stupid.


Also, we are not sure what is happening over at fake news/comedy website Mosquito Press. They’re showing photos of the 7-billionth baby. Is that the punchline? Are those fake babies?

Murders Most Foul

The All Saints’ weekend was not good to relatives of celebrities: the half-brother of an actor-senator was shot and killed, and the estranged father of an international singing sensation (cringe) was stabbed and killed.A


The authorities tried their best to make it up to the celebrities themselves, though. Catching and charging suspects in record time, all under the glare of media klieg lights.


Angel Capili Jr., now charged with the murder of Ricky “Charice’s Father” Pempengco, surrendered to authorities after being on the run for a few days, sleeping in bus terminals with his cellphone turned off while police “tracker teams” hunted him down in Southern Luzon.


The killer is in this very room.


Police also have custody of Ramon Joseph Bautista (aka Revilla) and two of his alleged accomplices in the murder of his brother Ramgen “Ram” Revilla (aka Bautista). Police say Bautista, the two other non-celebrity suspects, and his sister Ramona Revilla (aka Ramona Bautista) conspired to have Ramgen killed for P200,000. Supposedly, a family squabble over a P1-million monthly allowance given to the Genelyn Magsaysay chapter of the Revilla clan came to a head with Ramgen’s murder.


They let him hide his face


Police say the two cases were not given undue attention because the victims were relatives of celebrities. Still, Laguna and Cavite officials offered a P200,000 reward for Capili and Revilla is related to Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.(aka Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.), so, surely, that made the two cases extra important? Still, the police say the cases were treated just like they would treat regular murders.


The same cannot be said for how suspects in the two cases were treated, however. Capili was brought from Cavite to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Manila for what was essentially a glorified perp walk. Laguna and Cavite officials were there to turn over the suspect to Laguna police (before he was brought back to Laguna, which is nearer to Cavite than Manila). Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo even came over to give a statement.


What? The guy in the middle?


Through it all, Capili was in full view of television cameras and all local stations cut their programming to bring viewers and listeners a blow-by-blow account of the “bad guy” in what was essentially a drinking spree that ran its natural course.


The Revilla/Bautistas, on the other hand, were treated with kid gloves. Ramona Revilla/Bautista/Horn was not subject to the same scrutiny and Senator Revilla was quick to both ask for privacy and to excuse his half-siblings, both suspects in a murder. He called for a reinvestigation and hinted the police may have mucked up their jobs (which, to be fair, is actually quite possible.)


There was no perp walk for Ramona Revilla, who initially said the killers abducted her but later recanted when police showed she faked the supposed kidnapping. She was even interviewed on ANC so she could deny everything.


That night, ABS-CBN (which owns ANC) reported her leaving the country on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Immigration officials couldn’t stop her because they had no authority to. She was also reportedly accompanied to the VIP lounge by a “male escort.”


"You'll never catch me, porkchops!"

People who know about these things say someone with clout–a senator, or a congressman, or a mayor–had to have helped her get the VIP  treatment. Ramona Revilla/Bautista is related to a senator, at least two congressmen, and at least two mayors. That doesn’t even count her semi-relatives on the Ynares side of the family.


A visibly angry Revilla said he was shocked at Ramona’s flight and denied knowing anything about what happened. Some found his statements unbelievable and hinted the senator himself is the powerful figure behind Ramona’s flight from justice. After all, better a suspected murderer in the family than a convicted murderer.


Others were quick to say the episode could derail Revilla’s political plans for the 2016 presidential elections. This is true whether he knew about Ramona’s escape or not. If he did know about it, then he put his family above the justice system and his pronouncements of “I am a senator of the Republic, not a senator of my family!” are just fluff and showbiz make-believe.


If he did not know about it, then what does that suggest? If relatives have been accused of murdering their own brother, and risk dragging the Revilla name into the mud like former action star and senator Ramon Revilla Sr. was in Nardong Putik, should he have not kept better tabs on those relatives? If his own relatives can pull the wool over his eyes, then how about people who are not his relatives?


Also interesting, but probably easily explained, is that Ramona Revilla/Bautista boarded the Cathay Pacific flight at 8pm. The news broke at around 10pm and the Revilla clan only began reacting at least half an hour after that.


Now, if an ABS-CBN crew was at the airport in time to catch her waiting for her flight, could they not have asked Revilla about it before breaking the news?  At which point, presumably, Senator Revilla would say “Anak ng Teteng!“, put on a cowboy hat, and head to the airport for a confrontation with the half-sister he was defending just hours ago.


Or he could catch her himself.

Anti-Social Media: Something among friends

Have you heard the latest on the dispute between Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its former labor union Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA)?

We have not either.  What we have heard is PAL crying harassment over the labor union camping out at its in-flight center (whatever that is). And how could we have not? They said so on Facebook:


Philippine Airlines Facebook account

And on Philippine Star:

Philippine Star

And on People’s Journal:

People's Journal

And the Manila Standard Today:

Manila Standard Today


Now, it’s not unusual for newspapers to print press releases in toto. That’s where the lifestyle and entertainment sections get 75% of their content.  But the PAL-PALEA dispute is not a new brand of lotion or a new clothing line for SM department store and deserves better treatment.


At the very least, these newspapers should have clearly labelled these stories as PR. The stories make it look like the papers are reporting what PAL said, but they don’t disclose that the story itself came from PAL. That means these stories come with whatever authority, integrity, and impartiality that these newspapers claim. (To be fair, nobody claims impartiality anymore)

They should have at least put PALEA’s protests in context, or at least explained how exactly those protests constitute harassment.  They should at least have talked to PALEA for a reaction. They’re not that hard to find since they’re camped out at the in-flight center and presumably planning further acts of harassment. It was a long weekend of slow news days.

No jokes today, these papers are enough of a punchline as it is.

Just Another Day At The Office

Our friends at Congressional Observer (who are even more indolent than us when it comes to updates) report the House of Representatives has been as quiet as a tomb these past few weeks.

Have you ever seen a Congress that is really quiet? During session breaks, it is really a ghost town. With the exception of a few personnel with security, ancillary and auxiliary functions, Congress is indeed silent.

Check it out:

North Wing Lobby, House of Representatives


Second Floor, North Wing

With our honorable congressmen and -women presumably in their home districts (but actually lording it up in some foreign land, most probably), the halls of the House are haunted only by bills still-born or talked to death. Like the past versions of the Reproductive Health bill and the various bills against political dynasties that have gathered dust in committees headed by members of political dynasties.

Ah, but hope springs eternal!

 All Congress employees will get back to work on November 8. Most of the Chamber’s 285 members (that’s Congressmen and Congresswomen for you) will get back to work on November 14 after a month off from legislative work.

Which, actually means very little.

As this picture tweeted by Kabataan Party-List Representative Mong Palatino shows, most congressmen are on vacation even when Congress is in session:

Says Kabataan Rep. Mong Palatino: "It's an empty house, and it's only 6pm"

Anyway, see you on the 14th, House-mates! ;p

Bloody Business

In 1969, US and South Vietnamese troops captured Hill 937 in Thua Thien Province, Vietnam after 10 days of bitter fighting. The hill was later called “Hamburger Hill” because of the high casualties from 10 assaults on the hill. The US and South Vietnam lost 72, the Vietnamese People’s Army reportedly lost 675.


Now, Manila broadsheet Burger Times has lost less than that but you have to wonder at the rate they go through reporters. Their reporters, arguably among the best and most hard-working in the industry, have been leaving in droves in the past couple of years.


It has gotten so bad at one beat that they don’t even bother updating the entry for Burger Times on their list of accredited media outfits anymore.  Now, we hear they may lose around 10 more, a loss that would wipe out other smaller newspapers. Before the year ends, they will already have lost four reporters.


"You go on without me. I won't make...the...deadline..."

And that’s probably par for the course. Journalism isn’t for everyone, and it’s a cut-throat business where it’s sink or swim from Day One. Maybe they’re losing reporters who were never meant to be reporters in the first place.


Except the reporters they’ve lost have ended up reporters somewhere else: other national papers, the outsourcing office of a in international financial newspaper, a community paper in Hong Kong, that sort of thing.


Because of the small community that people in newspapers move around in, everybody else who has had a byline knows about the demanding desk at Burger Times and very few will wager their jobs for a chance to work there.


So Burger Times hires fresh graduates and sends them out to dash themselves against the rocks, basically. And when these fresh graduates–some of whom did not even go to journalism school–fail, they get pounced on by the Burger Times desk for not knowing how to do their jobs, which they would probably learn to do eventually if the desk stopped hovering over them like helicopter moms with cruel hearts.


Anyway, here’s to the ones that didn’t make it.