I’ll Be The Judge Of That

One thing that seems obvious from the first two weeks of the Corona impeachment trial is that we do not seem to know much about the legal system. We seem, for example, to think that judges should be like the Judges of the bible, ready and eager to smite impertinent lawyers and/or Philistines.

The Internet (Pinoy chapter) was full of praise when former actual judge, quasi-judge, and future international court judge Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago berated lawyers from both sides for arguing when she wanted to speak:

Excerpts from the comments thread of a Yahoo! Philippines story on her outburst:’

Excerpts. The thread itself is more entertaining

That sure showed those pompous lawyers pompously doing their jobs and pompously arguing legal points what’s what. Shame on them for doing things like citing boring  laws and, in the case of private prosecutor Arthur Lim, making emphatic hand gestures.

Lim wanted BIR chief Kim Henares to testify on Corona’s income tax returns but Santiago, and the court, said there was no need for that.

Santiago said she wanted to keep the proceedings short. “Kaya tayo tumatagal, may oration pa eh! (This oration is what is delaying this) This is not a school on oratorical skills. This is a school on logic and experience,” she said before orating for minutes, spewing “at least 3 words per second.” After which, the court was suspended for a few minutes to give people time to calm down.

But what did that really accomplish except further cementing Santiago’s reputation as a lady with a sharp tongue and who speaks her mind never mind who gets offended? Henares testified anyway.

Santiago did it again the next day, shaming Lim in open court and on live TV, after basically saying the impeachment complaint is no good.

Entertaining TV, to be sure, but this is the gem in that long tirade:


Santiago: How many years have you been in trial practice, counsel?

Lim: 42 years, your honor.

Santiago: And what have you specialized in? Is it not true you specialize in maritime law?

Lim: In everything, your honor.

Santiago: What an impertinent answer. Let me get to the point because I might lose my temper with you.

Had that happened, I assume Santiago would have transformed into a primordial dragon beast and devoured Lim as the people at the Senate session hall debate on whether to applaud or scream in terror, and decide to instead go mad. After that, Santiago would disappear into the sea to commune with other creatures of Lovecraftian horror until the trial resumes next week. Basically, what I am saying is “What the fuck?

And So It Goes

And so we find the strongest political coalition before the 2010 elections reduced to a fractious faction who apparently will eagerly turn on each other at the drop of a hat.

Former political giant Lakas-Kampi-CMD this week lost one of the few members who actually did stuff: Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

"Screw you guys. I'm going home."

Lagman stepped down weeks after declaring he still had the support of most of the 29 members of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives. The two Arroyo sons in Congress, who had earlier pledged loyalty to Lagman, have reportedly decided to back Suarez instead.

I cannot continue serving a political aggrupation which deliberately refuses to recognize competent, militant and responsible leadership and would opt to follow blindly the importuning of former President Arroyo,” he added.

Lagman earlier accused Arroyo of planning his ouster after meeting with (Quezon Representative Danilo) Suarez and several of her close allies in her hospital suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center two weeks ago.

With Lagman–veteran debater, foil to the administration, and principal author of the Reproductive Health bill at the House–gone, the minority is left with Suarez, who does not have much of a record of objecting to things except in the issue of taxes owed to his province by an energy company. He was a staunch ally of then President Joseph Estrada before switching to the Arroyo team. We hazard that given a choice, he would gladly jump this ship and join the Aquino administration if it will have him.

Other erstwhile allies have either joined the administration Liberal Party directly or, through the new National Unity Party that is part of the House majority.

At any rate, Lakas-Kampi-CMD has little strength left, and even less allies. With just 28 members left, a number that may yet dwindle as the 2013 elections loom, there is little that the minority can do now except make ineffectual noise, if that.

Anti-Social Media: Impeachment edition

While the cameras were trained on the clash between the two sides on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, there were smaller clashes among the media covering the event.

Which is understandable, really, given the emotionally-charged atmosphere of the whole thing. Tensions are so high, in fact, that journalists–both multimedia and traditional–were quick to see bombs when one of their own left a bag of equipment unattended for several hours.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team of the Pasay City Police had to be brought in and sniffer dogs had to check the bag for explosives. Senate security was not pleased, our correspondent says, because the scare made them look like fools. The radio crew who left their equipment were not too pleased either because they had to go without their equipment, will have to endure ribbing from their colleagues, and have to personally apologize to the Senate President.

Well, at least it gave everyone an excuse to whip out their smart phones and encourage discussion through this new thing called online journalism.

But more explosive is a brewing cat fight between a posse of reporters from a young media outlet and an existing clique of reporters with more experience both in front of the camera and on the beat. It does not help that the new reporters seem to still be undergoing birth pains. Covering an impeachment trial is, after all, not the easiest way to get your feet wet in journalism.

There was a shouting match this week after one of the new reporters, possibly harassed and treading water, pushed a bigger network’s camera aside. She accidentally touched the lens, which is apparently akin to slapping the Pope in the face, and so one of the veteran reporters let her have it (shouting, not the camera). To be fair, the newbie reporter had been hit on the head by a camera earlier that day (and who among us has not?) and she was just trying clear a path while protecting herself.

Another new reporter asked the defense lawyers why they were holding a press conference while the trial was going on. The lawyer, with a booming voice that would make a prosecutor quail, told her matter of factly that they were holding the press conference because the media had asked for one. “I thought we were doing you a favor,” he said as the reporter sank slowly into the plush carpets of the Senate before the Earth swallowed her up.

It was, to be sure, not the smartest question to ask a lawyer who used to be chief of staff to Supreme Court Justice Andres Narvasa. But it did not deserve the derisive laughter and the audible click of hundreds of eyes rolling in their sockets. Every journalist in that room began as a newbie, and the mean girls of the media have had their own share of booboos. It’s even debatable whether some of those in the old guard have learned anything in their many years in journalism.

A glaring example of that may be in this lady reporter with medusa locks who likes to take over press briefings with snide comments from the sidelines. “Give us the list!,” she shouted at the prosecutors from the House of Representatives, who were about to actually give the list of people they were calling as witnesses to the trial.

“It’s on the press release, honey!,” she screamed at a newbie reporter who had not, in fact, received the press release that would have answered her question. At any rate, the question was not addressed to her. With each comment, an ever widening circle as other reporters began cringing away in embarrassment.

We’re not saying that this same reporter has been harassing lawmakers for perks like food for the press office and free rides to and from the Senate. We hear, though, that other people are saying that.

Indolent Internet Digest 9

Manila tech start up Pencil Rocket has come out with taxikick.com, a website that allows you to report abusive taxi drivers. The complaints, or “kicks,” are forwarded to the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Recent kicks on the site paint a picture of cab drivers who are rude, who short change passengers, give generally bad service, and serve cold pizza.

Photo from sofimi on Twitter

Indolent Indio is still verifying reports that Ver.2 will also give copies of complaints to the local TBS13 (and similar local gang) in the area so they can actually kick cabs.


And since we are on apps, Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez has an idea to pitch to developers: The Reality Check App (Recapp), for politicians and pundits who harp on about why X country has this but we don’t.

They can peer at the innovation or the thing or WHATEVER through their smartphones and voila! up pops information about how much that innovation would cost if it were to be implemented in the Philippines, how much money the organization actually has, and what they’re gonna have to cut spending on if they really want to see that innovation implemented.”


Diario Filipinas is our go-to source for news from the front and on the revolution. They live-tweeted the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal and have been keeping us updated on militarization in the countryside.

They are on Twitter, but may not be for long. Their latest exclusive: Polavieja may be preparing for an offensive against the rebels by February. Leaked rebel documents indicate they have been preparing against attacks since December.


Also in fighting the powers that be, somebody apparently defaced the Wikipedia page of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, changing his title to ‘thief justice’ and implying a special relationship between him and court administrator Midas Marquez.

Militant gays were quick to condemn the gay-bashing, but apparently not the “Thief Justice” tag because although politicians and government officials can be persecuted, they are in no way marginalized.

We totally deplore this heinous way of using gay slurs for launching political attacks between the opposing sides in the impeachment trial,” declared Goya Candelario, spokesperson of ProGay, in a statement.

This was followed by an urgent appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to help keep the site running.


RELEVANT: The Top 10 grilled liempo (pork belly) in Metro Manila, according to Spot.ph
Like its distant cousin Pep.Ph, the comments section is all kinds of classy.

“Baliwag? Seriously?! haha. mas masarap pa dun sa ‘liempuhan’ beside SPUM”–Spot reader ‘dc’

“Their liempo are too crispy and are major rip-off. Now worthy for its cost. its not even crispy. Darn.”–Spot reader ‘skies’

Truly, if a Filipino can express a contrary opinion without any consequences, he will do it.

The Filipino will also eat pork belly despite the consequences


And since we’re on that, here is former Department of Tourism undersecretary Vicente Romano III* on people hating on the new tourism slogan announced last week:

You see the new DOT slogan trending and creating a lot of positive buzz. You tell yourself, “this is too good to be true.” So you google “It’s more fun in” and true enough, it’s been used before by Switzerland.

Never mind that Switzerland used it way back in 1951. Or that there was “Truly Tuscany” before Malaysia’s “Truly Asia”, Amazing Australia before Amazing Thailand, and Incredible Italy before Incredible India.

No. We can’t stoop down to their level. Iba ang Pinoy. Kailangan Orig!”

This was, by far, the classiest response to negative feedback to “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The least classy was probably from one Twitter/real-life celebrity who, when some girl from the US dared say the slogan was “the stupidest thing ever” because it’s not true that it’s more fun in the Philippines, called her out with a “self-hating Filipino, much?”

It turns out the girl had had deep personal reasons for not liking the Philippines. Twitter/real-life celebrity backed off, eventually, after reminding the girl to “think before you click.” Lesson learned! Also, “Internet tough guy, much?”

Comelec’s Jimenez has this to say about that:

Just because someone disagrees doesn’t make them a downer – a negatron, someone tweeted. Doesn’t make them an enemy either, or a de-stabilizer. Very few people on twitter are actually anti-PHL, but nearly all are opinionated. This is a good thing.”

And finally, here is a strip from web comic/blog Cereal Saturdays that will never get old (unlike the experience of shopping with troll parents):

*For context: Former Department of Tourism undersecretary Vicente Romano III left government service over the last tourism logo and campaign, which was found to have been very similar to a tourism campaign for Poland. The DOT quietly dropped its “Obejrzyj prezentacje o Polsce” campaign soon after launch.

(Almost) Burning Down The House

Your correspondent would not have had anywhere to post from had a fire that broke out at the House of Representatives been serious, and not just trolling.

Although the House has its own firetrucks, much like many of the congressmen at the House, they do not work:

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., however, was dismayed after fire trucks inside the Batasan Pambansa complex which responded to the incident were (found) not functioning.

“I just want to find out why nobody is saying or even informed us that the fire truck is not functioning but I am unhappy,” Belmonte said.


Belmonte has reportedly summoned the House’s engineering department to explain. Fire trucks from nearby barangays Commonwealth and Fairview were first on the scene even though, technically, House fire trucks were already there.

House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap said there was no actual fire.

In a text message, she said the smoke was caused by faulty wiring inside the electrical box near the building’s elevator.

As a result of the incident, House employees whose offices were affected by the power-line spark were sent home.

Barua-Yap said personnel from the House engineering department and the Quezon City fire department were fixing the situation as of posting time.

Members of the House, on vacation when the incident happened, cursed at the ill timing of the potentially convenient excuse to skip the afternoon legislative session.

(thx, House Indio)

Ferdinand Topacio: The Hit(ler)s Keep On Coming

The Littlest Nazi, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, is still going on about how great Adolf Hitler was, apparently.

According to ABS-CBN:

Walang nailabas na pagpapatibay na may official state policy ang Germany sa ilalim ng National Socialist regime na patayin ang mga Hudyo. Ang gusto lamang nila ay ilayo o i-segregate, o i-exile ang mga Hudyo (There is no proof that killing Jews was an official state policy. They only wanted to segregate or exile the Jews),” he said.

And that, according to Topacio,  is fine because 1. you can’t prove Hitler had anything to do with it (He was just the Leader) and 2. a little segregation never hurt anybody.

He goes on to say that if Pulse Asia, a survey firm, was around in World War II Germany, it would probably report that more than 90% of Germans would agree the Jews were treated fairly. “But was it right? You tell me.”

It was wrong, you fucking cunt. The deaths of millions of people, including Jews, gypsies, gays, lesbians, and other people generally considered not-Aryan, is wrong.  Invading other countries to get some “living space” is wrong.  Herding people into trains to bring them to concentration camps and their statistically-eventual death is wrong.

Not even Hitler can believe this shit.

Quick to rise (but actually too late) to the defense of Holocaust victims was lawyer Argee Guevarra, who called Topacio a “history buffoon” before conveniently using the deaths of millions to make a political point:

“I would like to believe that Atty. Ferdie Topacio’s idolatry of Adolf Hitler and his pro-Nazi sentiments  are motivated only by his zealous desire to defend even the indefensible, such as his client, former President Gloria Macapagal Arrovo, este, Arroyo,” he said in a statement. [emphasis supplied]

Two things: Bad as Arroyo was, she was not Hitler. She was not even Marcos, come to that. Throwing away lines like that is lazy and disrespectful of people who actually suffered under either Hitler or Marcos.

Plus that whole “este (err)” thing? That only works in Enteng Kabisote movies, and only when delivered by Enteng Kabisote. It was funny in the 1990s, when it was used as a device to tell the audience what a character really thought of someone else.  (Ex. monster-in-law, este, mother-in-law.) It does not work in a press statement that was presumably edited before being printed and sent out to the press.

foto from foodmayhem.com

Attorney Argee Guevarra

And Guevarra is no less a “history buffoon” than Topacio, apparently:

Guevarra said he wishes Topacio well in his “campaign against the Aquino administration’s Final Solution to the Arroyo Question.” He also offered his legal services in case Topacio becomes the subject of a lawsuit of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

He added that many lawyers will support Topacio if he decides to ask a local court to allow Mrs. Arroyo to be detained in a gas chamber in the former concentration camp in Auschwitz. “I will even donate my entire savings from my law practice in 2011 to pay for GMA’s travel to Poland,” he said.

“Final Solution,” of course, refers to the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” which in the Nazi context was (very simplistically): “What do we do with all these Jews?*” The apparent answer to that question was the systematic attempt to rid Europe of them. In contrast, the only Arroyo question, really, is “what is she not guilty of, and how do we prove that?”

Guevarra further belittles the Holocaust by offering to “donate my entire savings from my law practice in 2011 to pay for GMA’s travel to Poland” where he proposes the former President should then be shipped to Auschwitz. So, yeah, basically, the Jews sent there deserved it as much as Arroyo, he says.  And he is only correct in this sense: Nobody deserved to be sent there.

Next up, probably: Bataan Death March: Was It Really That Bad? It’s Like A Walking Tour of Luzon.

*Properly, the Jewish Question predates the Nazis and referred to the question of Jewish identity in the context of the rise of nations in Europe.