Saturday, October 25, 2003


The House of Representatives has amassed enough votes to impeach Hilario Davide, Supreme Court Chief Justice, for alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund. Full story here. Boy are we in trouble!

We've got issues. Can a second impeachment complaint prosper within one year from the filing and dismissal of the first? Can the Chief Justice be impeached for using his discretionary fund according to his discretion? Did Danding Cojuangco's lapdogs in Congress sign the impeachment complaint for truth and justice to prevail? Is 1 + 1 = 3?

It's a waste of parliament time. But nonetheless, the judiciary has been rocked. What I'm looking forward to now is the legal team who will comprise both the prosecution and the defense of this impeachment crazy country. I doubt it very much if the Makati lawyers will take the prosecution side this time considering that this impeachment move is very unpopular. So I don't expect to see the Mario Bautista types. An interesting point is that we might actually be seeing Estelito Mendoza back in action this time as a member of the prosecution. Atty. Mendoza is Danding Cojuangco's star lawyer and definitely the man has what it takes plus the seasoned experience to handle this job.

But whoever will represent the prosecution in this impeachment will find themselves up against real back-breaking lawyerly work. The evidence is going to be a pile of vouchers, receipts and audit reports. There is hardly enough excitement in there to rock a teapot. In other words. half the work is how to prevent the audience and jurors from falling asleep. The other half is how to make them understand how these vouchers and receipts can justify a conviction. The worse part is there is simply no case. It is an idiotic complaint. My forecast is no self-respecting lawyer will take up this case to the Senate. What we are going to see for the side of the prosecution is a bunch of incompetents who think they can achieve fame and fortune by defending the rich, powerful and stupid.

As for the defense, Davide practiced law in Cebu. So his legal team might be comprised of the legal eagles in the south. We may be looking at former President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Arthur Lim to lead the defense. Further, I think the volunteer lawyers will all be in the defense. So this is where we might find the Mario Bautista types. To hell with the San Miguel Account. In this moment of darkness, I believe the lawyers will side with the just -- in the same way that the volunteer lawyers were all in the prosecution during the Estrada Impeachment.

But the work for the defense is not going to be easy either. Sure, this is an easy win. The prosecution cannot make a case. But the Senate will decide on the basis of political affiliation, unless there is overwhelming public settlement that Davide should be acquitted. So the task of the defense is not just to win but to win resoundingly. The people should be moved so the Senate will do its work. So what is the defense going to do? The legal defense is going to be esoteric -- i.e., the JDF is not a pie that is so static you can slice it into 10 and give the 8 to the employees. It is rather a wriggler that shrinks and expands during the year that even if you divided it 80-20 every month at the end of the year the summary is still not going to be 80-20. The reality of managing fund such as the JDF is you can't plan enough for it because you cannot tell how much money will go to it because it depends on the number and nature of cases being filed in all the courts in the entire archipelago.

The prosecution wiil counter this by showing the state of the judiciary -- i.e., awful looking courts, underpaid court employees, stinking court toilets, etc. -- and Davide's "alleged" abuse of discretion in the use of the funds for Supreme Court resthouses and cars. Then, they're going to insist to compute the 80-20 appropriations in the JDF as if the fund doesn't decrease and increase every day that a case is being filed. It's legally not enough basis to impeach the Chief Magistrate of the land. It's not even enough to dismiss the Supreme Court's chief accountant. But this should be outweighed overwhelmingly. I don't have the slightest idea how this can be done.

What is the endgame? I think the Senate will either shoot down the impeachment Complaint on day one on the basis of the constitutional prohibition against a second impeachment complaint within the same year of the first or Davide will be in clear jeopardy of being removed from office. But unlike the Estrada impeachment where he saw the best and brightest legal luminaries in action, the Davide Impeachment will send in the clowns.

The impeachment circus side bar is on. I'm preparing a blog exclusively for the impeachment so I can understand this crazy development. The blog is found here At least, I have something to be excited about.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Trust me FPJ, you don't want this aggravation.

I'm pretty sure in your youth, some girl might have trapped you in a corner and dropped her panties. She might have been your type, flawless skin, pearly white teeth, big boobs and peppermint breathe. What did you do? Did you put on the hard on and pump away? Heck, you thought it was for free. Or did you do the alternative -- pull up her panties and go home to your wife?

It takes a real man to deal with these situations.

Now that lady is back. Her name is Power. You don't know her. Hardly anybody knows her. She is offering you a moment in history. Oh, it must be really a pleasure. But there is a payback time and you don't know the price.

Its a classic situation that I never saw in your movies.
But it happens everyday in literature and real life. Sometimes, she comes in the form of money. But normally, she's only one of these things: sex, power and wealth. So how do you deal with this girl?

Take a look at your precedents:

1. The cab driver who found PHP 18,500 in his cab.

2. The waiter who found 100,000 USD in Sulu Hotel

3. Faust

4. Thomas More

5. Thomas Becket

6. Jesus Christ

What do you do now? Trust me. Learn from whatever lessons you learned when this lady first came in the form of a beautiful woman who dropped her panties. The results are guaranteed.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


Yesterday's State Visit to the Philippines by US President George W. Bush ended with much funfare and was deemed a rousing success by all the people who prepared for it.

I have always looked at US Presidents with great awe even after my political awakening, as it were, in my college days. After all, it is quite a feat to become President of the most powerful nation in the world. And I am just "some lawyer from the Philippines." But DUBYA, I still think he cheated Al Gore in Florida and he cheated the world and the UN in Iraq. Now, he's cheating everyone again to undo what he has done in Iraq. What a guy!

That's why I think the seven leftists congressmen who walked out on him as Mr. Bush addressed a Joint Session of the Philippine Congress really did us proud. See Inquirer report here. Giving him the finger would have sufficed. But. oh the guys needed to make it appear dramatic so they walked out just as people sat to hear the buffoon speak. Nonetheless, the message has been sent. Mr Bush as president of the US, with whom the Philippines has so much to thank for, will get his warm welcome and hospitality from this Third World Nation. But no way is he going to go thinking he has fooled everyone in this country. And special mention goes to Cong. JV Bautista who unfurled the peace flag before George W. could mumble his anti-terror rhetorics at the podium. Great going Bayan Muna Representatives. You did not fail this nation. You made my vote very much worth it.

Saturday, October 18, 2003


By the way, Paul Krugman sent us this note from the New York Times,

"George W. Bush is like a man who tells you that he's bought you a fancy new TV set for Christmas, but neglects to tell you that he charged it to your credit card, and that while he was at it he also used the card to buy some stuff for himself. Eventually, the bill will come due — and it will be your problem, not his."

In spite of that, we've prepared a party for you. Have a nice time sir!

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Al Ghozi killing overshadows Chapter III

Ping Lacson's publicists must be scratching their heads. After drum-beating the third and final chapter of the "Incredible Hulk" expose, the publicists could only find the news on the ears of Manila dailies and the full story is buried in the inner pages. Why of all the time in the world would yesterday be the same day that Fathur Rohman Al Gozi, the escaped Indonesian bomber, would be killed in a shoot-out? As a result, the newspapers today carry the triumphant GMA with the presidential declaration, "Terrorists won't get far in the Philippines." -- as if Chapter III wasn't the most awaited final edition of the Jose Pidal controversy calculated to sabotage the President's second term run. Of course, it's pure coincidence -- just like the sun rising from the east. It was bound to happen at the time when it should happen. The only question is how come these publicists didn't know? It's the end of the line for Mr. Ping. From now on, it's just Kuratong Baleleng. No more Mr. Expose. I would say though that it was -- how would we put it? -- a nice try.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Lawyerly Gadget of our Time


Back in the big firm, people wondered how come I used a Globe cellular phone when I was doing a lot of work for Smart. I used to reply in jest -- well, the only thing smart about it is it's name. What do you know? Today, I am taking everything back. As a happy user of a new and sparkling Smart Amazing Phone, I think Smart has come of age. It is now really living up to its name.

Picazo Law Office (my old firm) has been the counsel to Smart from the time that it was just a group of radio hobbyists with a weird telephone franchise until the present when it is widely-regarded as the telecom industry's multi-billion peso money maker ran by people with Ivy league MBAs. In my early years as an associate of Picazo Law Office, I handled some of Smart's cases in the far corners of the country, some as far-flung as Matalom, Leyte, a coastal town six hours away from Tacloban. But those cases were mostly nuisance suits by devious lawyers who thought they could make a giant corporation spit money at their command. Nothing major. When I left Picazo, I was liberated from these cases. You might also want to say that my career can be divided into two: the Smart and the post-Smart era. But the early years of Smart were exciting times for me and for the company.

Flashback to circa 1995

In the advent of the Philippine cellular phone industry, Smart took the "appropriate technology" gamble, as it were. Instead of getting into the expensive digital bandwagon (which Globe and Islacom touted), Smart went with the cheap analog technology. Industry naysayers said the technology was obsolete. But Doy Vea, then president and CEO of Smart, and his group of marketing wizards held on to the point -- the Filipinos didn't need a high tech phone; they needed a phone. It's like the people's need for a car. It didn't matter if it was a Mercedes. It could be a stainless Sarao so long as it rolled. And all that the Filipinos needed was to hear the voice from the other side of the line wherever in the Philippines they may be. And so, Smart went on an analog cellular roll-out program that had Globe and Islacom eating dust. In view of the fact that it was cheaper to set- up analog cell sites than digital cell sites by a ratio of about 6 to 1, Smart easily covered the entire Philippines in no time, as Globe and Islacom tried to play catch up with their capital intensive enterprise. Finally, the Filipinos had a phone. I could still remember that day when I was sitting on the terrace of our house in far away Pola, Or. Mindoro and I was barking instructions to my secretary in Makati -- something that months back was an impossibility because the nearest phone booth was 100 kilometers away.

It was boom time for Smart until Globe showed us how deaf and mute people can use the phone. The wonders of digital technology allowed text messaging. This enabled people to communicate by simply typing texts on their phone pads. Their need for a telephone already satisfied, the Filipinos soon realized that analog technology sucked. People got drop calls as often as they got drops of water from a faucet. No caller ID. You couldn't tell if the person who was calling was your girlfriend or your boss. In addition, text messaging was cheap and less invasive. People needed not to call when a simple "ok" could be relayed by typing "K" and sending it away. And their phones, oh-- they were bigger than the bananas in the grocery. That was when I decided to switch phones from Smart to Globe and I started that joke about Smart and its name because its analog phones were not text-capable.

The Erap years

Then, Smart made the big switch from analog to digital. Unfortunately, it had to deal with the text interconnection problem with Globe. Globe refused to hook up its text messaging service with Smart. Smart also couldn't get the court order to force Globe to link up. That staggering defeat of Smart when the Court of Appeals denied Smart's prayer for a mandatory injunction on texting interconnection echoed in the halls of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) as one of the major upsets in the history of telecommunications law. (This case was handled by another group of lawyers and so this defeat will not appear in my resume.)

Well, as many people know by now, Smart found a political solution to the problem when Erap came into the picture. He summoned one of the Ayalas of Globe (Don Jaime Zobel, I think) to Malacanang to make peace with Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) of Smart. As Zobel entered the room, Erap, standing from his seat beside MVP, blurted, "Heto no pala eh. Tara na, ia-announce na natin sa press.", as the group proceeded to the press conference where it was announced that the interconnection problem had been solved. Erap was not going to take no for answer and just the gesture of accepting the invitation to go to Malacanang, did it in for Globe. I couldn't make out anything of the expression on the face of Mr. Zobel when the news came out in the papers the following day. It was a major lesson on Philippine business and politics.It was also one of the little things that outraged me as an anti-Erap advocate for which reason I refused to switch back to Smart, even if Smart had won the text interconnection war.

My other beef with this company during the Erap years was when it joined the other major corporations of the Philippines who refused to advertise in the Philippine Daily Inquirer as a gesture of support to Erap. The Inquirer was Erap's staunchest enemy. To please him, his allies from big business orchestrated a boycott of the newspaper. Smart, with its sustained campaign for dominance, ran millions of pesos worth of print advertisements, especially on weekends. It was such a pity that Inquirer was deprived of that revenue for a period of time just to please that buffoon in Malacanang.
Along with the boycott of the other advertisers, Smart's refusal to advertise with the Inquirer seriously threatened the existence of the Inquirer and angered many freedom loving folks like me.

Oh, what this phone can do

The past is past and as I clutch my new Smart Amazing Phone, I am willing to forgive Smart for siding with Erap during his time. Big business is motivated by profit and profit guys have no balls when it comes to politics. There is nothing much I can do with that. But just look at what I can do with this phone. I can surf the web in clear and colorful html. I can read, CNN, Salon, nytimes and other favorites in the car. I can browse at Supreme Court decisions and laws without need of a bulky laptop computer. I can check out Roger Ebert's review of a Hollywood film as I stand in line for the tickets in the theater. I can read the breaking news from the Inquirer website as I sit in the barbershop. I can find out what Dean Jorge Bocobo is cooking up in his blog while sipping coffee in a restaurant. I can blog from the toilet seat. I can send and receive email with a push of a button while waiting for the roll call in court. I can shoot a picture or a video of my daughter and email it to the world. It has never been this way before. Connecting the cellular phone to the internet was a giant inventive step. The possibilities are endless. I can truly say, I now have the world's biggest repository of information in the power of my hand. Indeed, for all its political sins, Smart found its redemption in its perseverance for technological innovation. The Smart Amazing Phone is not just a phone. It's the evolution of the cellular phone: a true testament to the genius and creativity of man.