Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007


Red is somebody you would like to be with in tough times.

Tough times like the day before payday and you barely have any cash for a taxi ride home and a meal of kebabs.

Tough times like when you've resigned from a high paying Makati law firm job and all you have to re-build a career in law with is a two year old computer.

Tough times like when you have no money to meet the payroll of your office and the only chance you have is an advance from a client who doesn't seem to trust you.

Tough times like the biggest deal of your law office is about to fail because a document could not be produced and your only chance was that the lawyer from the other side would loosen up and waive it.

Tough times like when your law partner has not been showing up for work and clients are following up on pending matters.

I first shared those times with Red as a fellow associate in the Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos Law Firm, and then as a partner in our Guerrero & Aceron Law Offices. He is the "G" in AGALAW. But those times only looked tough in hindsight. When we were living those moments I never felt desperate, because Red knew how to carry himself in those occasions. He fought those times with guts and humor. Atty. Mario Lorenzo, a partner in Picazo, even called him the most affable associate in the office. Red was quick with a joke or two to cheer us all up. It was typical of Red to never show signs of surrender. Red never gave up. He lived up to his name, Guerrero, a warrior of the highest order.

Thus, in 1996, we managed to live payday after payday in those days that we were both fresh out of law school and working for a big law firm in Makati. We shared taxi rides and meals of kebabs at two o'clock in the morning.

In December 2003, we decided to put up our own law firm. I agreed that Guerrero should be the first name, because he was better than me in many things. He had more fighting spirit, his money skills were far superior and he wrote pleadings like they were mathematical equations. Our office was not immune to the difficulties of a start-up, but at one point, we had five associates and more than enough computers and clients.

In 2005, we clinched a major deal, the sale of Cagayan de Oro Colleges to Philippine Investments Management, Inc. (PHINMA and Bacnotan Consolidated Inc. (BCI). We had to finance the initial talks between the parties with our own money, including the trips back and forth Cagayan de Oro for almost half a year and we were running out of budget. When our clients were about to sign the Share Purchase Agreement in February 2005, each of us even had to put up our last thousand pesos to pay for the lunch with the clients. And then Red thought of the idea to request for an advance from the leader of the sellers who looked like he was half hearted about the deal. But Red asked him, and miracle of miracles, we got our advance that helped us finish the transaction.

In the same deal, we were caught in a bind as a document couldn't be produced. The night before the closing of the deal, I was negotiating with the other lawyers alone, and I told Red the lawyers from the other side insisted that we produce the document that we couldn’t produce. Red told me to put him on the speakerphone. And he scolded the other lawyers, dished out some expletives and again miracle of miracles, it worked as the other lawyers loosened up, waived the production of the document and recommended the transaction to proceed. We consummated the transaction shortly, got paid, and we didn't have to work for almost half a year after that.

In the final few months, Red didn't tell us he was battling lung cancer. I figured it was simply not Red’s style to be the object of sympathy. Red probably did not want to tell us because he believed that one day he would be back to tell us he had beaten cancer and would be ready to get to work.

The sad part is during that time I was not aware of his situation, I still nagged him about work that was not being done. Yet Red continued to send text messages assuring me that he would deliver. True enough, a week before he died he completed his tasks amidst chemotherapy, shortness of breadth, and all.

Sometime August 2004, after our office had completed the difficult but lucrative task of training Fernando Poe, Jr.’s pollwatchers for the presidential elections, I remember him sharing an insight about lions in the wild and lions in cages. He observed that lions in the wild are not sure about their next meal. Meanwhile, lions in cages are fed regularly. Lions in the wild are always in danger of other animals and the elements, while caged lions are protected from all of that. Thus, because they had to fight to survive lions in the wild are fiercer, their senses more alert, and their minds are always at work.

He said he saw himself as one of those lions in the wild. He enjoyed sailing through the good times but he knows he’s one to thrive in tough times.

But there is probably one more reason why he loved being a lion in the wild. It may also be because in tough times God’s love is most present. In the clutches of failure, destitution and loneliness, God proves to us his existence and love despite it all. Red lavished in the thrill of this love.

In the years that I knew Red, he never showed that he was religious. It could be that, like some of us sometimes, he was foolish not to acknowledge God’s hand in his life.

But Christine, his wife, told me that in the last weeks of his life, Red became religious, he prayed the novena and went to mass regularly.

It’s reassuring to learn that during the difficult moments in his illness he finally acknowledged and embraced God’s love that nurtured him all these years, tough, happy times, and all.

Red never lost hope of recovery for God and his family showered him with all their love. And the hardest days of his life became his most meaningful days in this earth.

I saw Red in his deathbed two nights before he died. He was badly beaten by his disease, but his face was not the face of desperation and defeat, but that of peace, love and reverence for what was to come. It is only in surrendering himself to the great Being that he completed his mission to be a warrior of the highest order.

I certainly will not miss tough times. But I will certainly miss, Redendor N. Guerrero, his guts and sense of humor, a warrior of the highest order. I have been blessed to have met him. Salamat pare. May you rest in peace.

December 8, 2007
Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gloria beats the system again

If Philippine politics were the NBA play-offs, GMA would be leading three to big fat zero. In 2005, GMA's team did it with a slam dunk in the Congress plenary, thanks to a great assist from perpetual senatoriable Oliver Lozano. In 2006, it was plain seamless teamwork that had the GMA congressional team even winning over to their side congressmen who voted for the impeachment the year before. And this year, 2007, it's a won game by default, as Congress buries the impeachment complaint 184-1.

Frankly, I think the yearly impeachment game is becoming a drag. The opposition is not learning from its mistakes. Maybe they should send for Phil Jackson who has not renewed his basketball coaching contract for next year. Learn from the Zen Master you idiots! Losing is a disease. And the opposition in this country is terminally afflicted with it. It all boils down to who has the stronger motivation to win. For GMA, it's the fear of going to jail. For the opposition, it's just the greed for taking the seat of power. Fear beats greed, 3-0.

See you next year losers!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mr. Commissioner, what about the commission?

Sun Tzu says, "If you are strong, you attack. If you are weak, you defend."

So far, the case against the scandalous NBN-ZTE deal has been strong. In order for this controversy to bring about a fruitful end, the case must be pushed until the perpetrators of this onerous transaction are impeached, tried, and convicted.

The President has ordered the suspension of the NBN-ZTE deal, which I think is a mistake, for the impression it makes is the Administration has gone tired of defending it and has given it up. Obviously, the intended effect is for people to stop talking about it. Yet, strategists in the opposition, which I hope are not wanting, should view the suspension as an admission of fault and an opportunity to mount a stronger case against the proponents of the deal.

Thus, the only foreseeable ending to this drama is the removal or resignation of one or more - or all - of the following:

a) the Comelec Commissioner,
b) the Secretary of Transportation and Communication
c) the President.

Meanwhile, with the shelving of the NBN-ZTE deal, some Chinese state executives are going to call the Comelec Commissioner. The cancellation of the transaction is inevitable. If indeed commissions have been advanced to facilitate the deal, are they going to be returned? In all likelihood, they have already been spent in clubs in Vegas or Macau, stashed away in Swiss or German banks, given to the paramours, or used to buy votes. They are gone and never to be returned. Sorry na lang. Yet, the problem is this: ZTE is a Chinese state company. What will the Chinese politburo say? Thus, it will be a matter of time before this controversy becomes a China vs. RP diplomatic concern.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Worse than rats

It is often whispered in conversations over coffee among the bureaucrats that frequent the coffee shops in Morato, Quezon City that Chinese state companies are willing to loan millions of dollars in exchange for kickbacks to Chinese officials, which Chinese officials are also willing to share with their Filipino counterparts. The present controversy concerning the scandalous NBN-ZTE deal only confirms that the hush talk has a basis in fact.

The amazing thing is in this situation, you can never doubt that even in their corrupt practices, the Chinese remain good patriots to their country. On one hand, the Chinese officials can sleep well at night for what is being given back to them as commissions would be repaid to their mother country, principal plus interest, by the Philippine government. So China never really loses anything.

On the other hand, their Filipino bureaucrats show that they are worse than rats, for not only do the Filipino bureaucrats put their country further into debt, they also make it pay for the kickbacks that they and their Chinese counterparts share. Talk about screwing your own kind. They don't care if the debt is a burden that not only their fellow Filipinos would carry, but also debts that would be paid by their own children, grand children, and great grandchildren.

With these officials running the Philippine government, Rizal must be turning in his grave.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Theory of Justice

Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue: likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded in justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled: the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the caculus of social interests. The only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one: analogously, an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice. Being first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.

A Theory of Justice, (original edition) by John Rawls

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007


We have a big project coming and will need first year lawyers, law graduates and junior and senior law students to help us out.
The project will require part time and full time work employees.

If interested, please email your resumes to

Don't forget to leave your contact details.

You may also see us at 301 Cedar Executive Bldg.Timog Ave., corner Sct. Tobias, Quezon City. 

Friday, August 03, 2007

Filipino with the "F": A Guide for the Perplexed (Conclusion)

It's the National Language Month. It's time to finish the blog series on the national language. The first part is here. The second part is here. The complete article in .doc format is here. This part catalogues the discussion on the national language issue among the 1987 Constitutional Commissioners.

III. National Language Policy under the 1987 Constitution:
Merging of Movements

A. Pilipino as the Nucleus

After laying down the legal evolution of the national language, this note will now investigate the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission (hereinafter 1986 CONCOM) in order to arrive at the definition of Filipino as envisioned by the Constitutional Commissioners. Professor Yabes once remarked that since the mono-lingualists succeeded in baptizing Tagalog into Pilipino, it would not be difficult for them to rebaptize Pilipino into Filipino.48 His worlds proved to be prophetic, for the 1986 CONCOM found itself in a predicament where rebaptizing Pilipino into Filipino was the only practical option. The objections against the purist Pilipino persisted, although the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (SWP) formerly the Institute on National Language, had formally adopted49 a new alphabet. Meanwhile, Pilipino gained popular usage. Estimates put the level of dissemination of Pilipino at 80 per cent.50 Hence, to disregard this achievement by pursuing the original concept of the 1973 Constitution’s linguistic legal fiction would mean a set back for the national language program.

It is for these reasons that the Committee on Human Resources of the 1986 CONCOM proposed the adoption of Filipino, the multi-language based national language, with Pilipino as the nucleus, which is short of saying it had adopted the universal approach of Ernesto Constantino.51 Filipino was thus fashioned as a merger of the two ideas on national language which evolved in history. The committee draft read, “The national language of the Philippines is Filipino.” The interpolations of Commissioner Ople would illustrate the committee conception of Filipino.

MR. OPLE… (A)t the present stage of development of Filipino, especially, (as) this is taught and actually utilized in the University of the Philippines, Filipino with its main features, that is to say with a capital “F” is not yet really highly distinguishable from Pilipino with a capital “P.” Will the committee agree to that construction?

MR. VILLACORTA. The qualification “highly distinguishable” is appropriate. It is not highly distinguishable. So we agree with the Commissioner, Madame President.

MR. OPLE. Thank you. And the developments in grammar, syntax, and the rules of language that have pertained to Pilipino with a capital “P”, although amended to become highly liberalized, will not be discarded because we are recognizing Filipino with a capital “F” as the national language. Will that be correct?

MR. VILLACORTA. It is inevitable. Madam President, that the starting point would be Pilipino because that has already been developed in the past as an evolving national language, but then this does not mean that we should limit ourselves to the syntax or to the vocabulary of Pilipino which is based on Tagalog.52 (emphasis supplied)

The opposition to this proposal was raised by Commissioners Davide and Sarmiento. Both argued that Filipino did not exist. Thus, they maintained that the constitutional provision on language should keep the original phrasing in the 1973 Constitution which stated that the national language of the Philippines shall be, and not is, Filipino.53

Commissioner Villacorta reiterated that Filipino existed and gave some samples.

MR. VILLACORTA. (W)e are referring to the masses of people – the ones who came in contact with in our public hearings. They are the ones who say. “Sain kayo maglakad tapos dini?” instead of the purist saying “Saan kayo magtutungo pagkatapos ditto?” But we understand what they mean when they say, “mas guapo kuno ang kanyang amiga” o “ yawa kawatan pala ang soltero” or “ huwag ka man magtapo sa road” or “mayroon pa ngani.” These speakers of the lingua franca throughout the country make themselves clearly understood because consciously or unconsciously, they use words that most Filipinos can comprehend.54

B. Filipino as lingua franca

The argument on Filipino’s non-existence was reiterated by the interpolations of Commissioner Bacani who asked Commissioner Villacorta whether the speech delivered by Commissioner Tadeo, a native of the Tagalog province of Bulacan, was in Filipino. Commissioner Villacorta said no, but he qualified that it was partly Filipino. Commissioner Villacorta answered that Filipino refer to two things: that which had “Pilipino” as the nucleus and that informal language used by native speakers who come from different linguistic groups which language he illustrated through his examples. Hence, it could not be said that Filipino did not exist. The following exchange would clarify the matter.

BISHOP BACANI. I noticed that when the Commissioner was speaking, I could understand the words but I could not easily get the sense. That is the reason I ask these two main questions: Is the language of Commissioner Tadeo Filipino? Were those phrases mentioned by Commissioner Villacorta meant to be Filipino? Let us have a national language which is Filipino. Thus, it will be either of these two. In other words, is Filipino not yet an existent national language? Is it a language that is still to be formed?

MR. VILLACORTA. It is an existent national language and the nucleus is Pilipino with a “P.” The contemplation of the committee is that the nucleus is still Pilipino because it is already a widespread and existing language – Pilipino with a “P.” We also said that there is an existent broadened, expanded language called Filipino and its formalization has to be done in the educational system and others but it does not mean that since it is not yet formalized, it is nonexistent. It is a lingua franca.

BISHOP BACANI. So when we say the national language of the Philippines is Pilipino, are we not saying that the national language of the Philippines is the language spoken by Commissioner Tadeo?

MR. VILLACORTA. It is part of that national language…55

At this point, Commissioner Bennagen stood up to explain that a language does not come fully-bloomed at a particular point in time, but is something dynamic and ever-growing. This implies that looking for definite parameters of Filipino is not the way to view the language.

MR. BENNAGEN. There seems to be an assumption that a language comes fully blown at a particular point in time. I think that even we who speak our own native languages cannot pinpoint a specific period in history when it emerges full blown. So we should look at language as a growing organism and that it grows in at least two identifiable ways.

First, it is unplanned – that which is used in everyday life by people of all sorts with different first language who come into contact with each other. Second, through a planned manner which we hope we should be mandated by this Constitution. For instance, in 1957, the people of Malaysia decided to have Bahasa Malaysia as their national language. They undertook a great deal of studies. But it was only sometime in 1972 or around 1973 when they had systematized the spelling. In 1973, it finally became the medium of instruction up to the tertiary level although it was already being used in government, in commence, and in industry.

… That is why we say that in the proposal it should be further developed on the basis of Philippine and other languages and that steps shall be taken by the government, et cetera, to accelerate this law.56

Commissioners Davide and Sarmiento later withdrew57 their opposition when a new sentence was added to the proposed provision. The additional sentence read,

As It [Filipino] evolves, it shall be developed and enriched on the basis of Philippine and other languages.

The provision was passed with the CONCOM voting 44 to 0.

The preceding exchanges show that the intent of the 1986 CONCOM was to adopt Pilipino as the nucleus of the multi-language based national language. Hence, Director Pineda’s construction is legally supported.

C. Liberal standards adopted

The next important point is that by adopting Pilipino as the nucleus of Filipino, the CONCOM also overruled the “purist” policy of the previous Institute on National Language. The speck of Commissioner Rodrigo provides a colorful elaboration on this matter. It deserves an extensive quote for its significance.

MR. RODRIGO… Ang unang mahalagang malaman natin ay itong Filipino ay hindi isang bagong kinatha o kakathaing lenggwahe. Ito ay batay sa Pilipino. Palalawakin lamang natin ang saklaw ng Filipino… Kaya nga’t ang Pilipino ay batay sa Tagalog at ang Filipino ay batay sa Pilipino. Kaya’t hindi natin buburahin ang nakamtan na nating mga developments sa Pilipino.

Ngayon, ano ang nangyari roon sa Pilipino? Bakit tinalikdan iyang Pilipino at ginawang Filipino? Palagay ko, ang isang dahilan ay sapagkat noong magkaroon ng Surian ng Wikang Pambansa na pinamunuan ng nasirang Lope K. Santos, sumalangit nawa, ang kanyang sinunod na patakaran ay yaong purismo. May roon tayong maraming salita sa wikang Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynoon, Ilokano, Bikolano, na hango sa wikang Kastila. Mula 6,000 hanggang 10,000 mga salita ang hango sa wikang Kastila – libro, mikropono, sapatos, pantaloon, bintana, silya – ngunit ang ginagawang patakaran ng Surian ay purismo. Umimbento ng mga bagong salita. Halimbawa, kapag sinabi mong “gramatika” ay maiintindihan na ng lahat, maging ng mga Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, o Bikolano. Pero ang Surian ay kumatha o umimbento ng bagong salita – “balarila.” Iyong salitang diksyonaryo ay alam na ng lahat ngunit muling kumatha ng bago – “talatinigan”; “bokabularyo” – alam na ng lahat, pero kumatha ng “talasalitaan.” Mga kaibigan, noong ako ay nasa Senado at araw ni Balagtas, Abril 2, ako ay nagtalumpati on a privilege speech at binatikos ko iyong purismo. Ang sabi ko ay hinirapan natin ang wikang Tagalog maging para sa Tagalog. Ako ay sumusulat sa Tagalog; tumutula pa ako kung minsan sa Tagalog. Ngunit alam ba ninyo na iyong aking mga apo ay natutulungan ko sa homework nila sa arithmetic at history pero hindi ko matulungan sa wikang pambansa o national language? Napakaraming bagong mga salita na ni ako ay hindi ko naiintindihan. Kaya noong ako ay nagtalumpati, sinabi kong pati iyong “silya” ay gusto pang gawing “salumpuwit.”…

Noong nag-recess kami sa Senado, lumapit sa akin si Don Claro Recto. Alam ninyo medyo pilyo iyang si Recto. Sabi sa akin, “Hoy, soc, binabati kita. Mayroon lang akong itatanong sa iyo.” “Ano ho iyon?” wika ko. Ang sabi niya, “kung ‘yong ‘silya’ ay ‘salumpuwit,’ iyong ‘bra’ ay salong ano?” (Laughter)

Minsan naman, sinabi ni Raul Manglapuz, “Hindi ba iyong telegrama ay gusto pang gawing ‘pahatid kawad’? “Oo,” wika ko. Sabi niya, “Eh, kung iyong telegrama ay pahatid kawad, iyong ‘wireless’ ay ano?” “Aba, eh, siyanga pala.” Ang wika ko, sabi ni Raul, “Siguro iyon ay pahatid-kawad-na-walang-kawad.” (Laughter)

Kaya nga naantala ang paglaganap ng ating wika. Natakot ang mga estudyante. Kahit ang mga Tagalog ay natakot. Ang mga Tagalog ay lumalagpak sa national language. Kaya nga iyan ang isang dahilan kung bakit ginawang “Filipino.” Ako ay nagagalak sapagkat akalain ba ninyong inalis iyong napakaraming letra sa ating alpabet. Inalis ang letters “c”, “f”, “j”, “q”, “y”, at “x”. Kawawa naman ako. Ako ay Francisco, nawala iyong “f” iyong “c” kaya ako ay “Prankisko” (Laughter) May nagsabi sa akin, kung lahat ng “c” ay magiging “k”, iyong “Cecilio” ay ano? Di “Kekilyo,” wika niya. (Laughter)

Kaya’t ako ay kumakatig na ang ating gawing wikang pambansa ay ang Filipino.59

The inference that can be drawn out from this is that any “purism” which the Commission on National Language, the body which replaced60 the Institute on National Language may adopt stands to be overruled as unconstitutional. There is legal ground to hold that the Commission on National Language must promulgate liberal rules on standardization based on usage. This is particularly significant when it comes to orthography and grammar. Lope K. Santos’ twenty-letter alphabet and grammar of the Pilipino language must be amended to accommodate the fusion of other languages.

D. Expanding the Usage Domain

In the schema presented by Director Pineda, expanding the usage domain of the nucleus is the key element to the development of the multi-language based national language. It is important that Filipino be used widely in national affairs. In the 1987 CONCOM, Commissioners Aquino and Villacorta stated that the approach in the development of the national language should not be hermaphroditic.61 Experiences here and abroad showed that a national language is useless if it is not used as the medium of instruction and official communication. People remained semi-literate and ignorant about scientific concepts, skills, and principles, because science and technology were usually written and transmitted in the English language which only a small part of the population had mastered.

In this regard, the Committee on Human Resources proposed62 that the Constitution should provide that resolute steps be taken by the government in order that Filipino be used as medium of official communication and school instruction. Commissioner Bernas pointed out that the proposal would create a redundancy, because making Filipino the official language would have the same effect as a provision which stated that the government shall take steps to use Filipino as a medium of communication in all branches of government. Commissioner Villacorta’s reply was that the committee intended to kept the detailed provision to reinforce the character of Filipino as an official language. Commissioner Bennagen explained that Filipino as an official language had been mostly practiced in stationeries and government buildings as names and in titles as well as in post offices. Filipino should be utilized in government as well as in communications and in all levels of the educational system. The proposal was carried 37 votes to none.

E. The Examples in Perspective

A discussion of the language policy is not complete without considering the samples of Filipino which were presented in the deliberations of the 1987 CONCOM. Rev. Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. has quoted some of them in his popular treatise63 on the Constitution. The danger is that these might be misunderstood and become a source of legal complications in the future. Moreover, as an acknowledged authority on Constitutional Law, Fr. Bernas has raised the opinion that these examples show that the language policy is still hazy. A language similar to what Commissioner Villacorta illustrated is simply inelegant, if ever it does exist. It is thus necessary to contextualize these examples in order to avoid further confusion.

During the proceedings, there were other samples presented on the floor aside from the Villacorta examples indicated above. One of these samples was provided by Commissioner Tingson, which was in the form of a prayer,

MR. TINGSON… Panginoon, bigyan mo po kami ng mga Filipinos nga may kasing-kasing na mahinulsulun. Nga nagahigugma sang katarungan apan nagasabdung sang kalainan. Kay, Ginoo, ito pong mga Filipinos ang aming bayan ngayon may kailangan kay amo ining mga Filipinos nga may matuod nga sadsara.64

It can be observed that the examples appear to be rough mixtures of words culled from different local dialects, but the important point is that these examples will not bind the users of Filipino. Commissioner Ople clarified that the enrichment, expansion, and indenfinite strengthening of the language through assimilation will have to be done in the course of the evolution of this language. It is not the intention of the framers of the Constitution to prescribe certain quotas in accordance with a certain fiat of the government.65 The Constitution did not adopt the Complete Amalgamation Approach in the development of the language.

It must be further emphasized that the Constitution refers to two types66 of Filipino. The first is that which is embodied by Pilipino at the present and to be engineered as to allow influences from other languages. The second is the informal lingua franca developed as speakers from different linguistic groups in the country converse. All of the examples referred to the second type. While the 1987 CONCOM did not bother to give similar examples of the first type (it being an obvious matter), it should be remembered that Filipino is not limited to the second. More importantly, the relationship of the first and second examples must be examined. The second is said to have evolved informally. It has no established grammar and vocabulary. It bears, however, a semblance of the end goal of the first type, when time and usage have allowed the first type to grow and develop with the least amount of control from the purist. The second type is what eventually the first type will be in the future when the languages have fused.


The language provisions67 of the 1987 Constitution read,

The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages.

Subject to provisions of law and as the Congress may deem appropriate, the Government shall take steps to initiate and sustain the use of Filipino as a medium of official communication and as language of instruction in the educational system.

For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English…

The ambiguity of the concept of Filipino under the present Constitution might have been avoided if the framers had only expressed the fact that they meant a Filipino with a nuclear basis on Pilipino. Although this intent was repeated throughout the proceedings, such was not manifested in the final draft of the Constitution. We can only surmise at what the reasons were. In any case, the crucial point has been established: Filipino with the “F” is the national language based on all existing native languages with a nucleus nesting on Tagalog or Pilipino with the “P.” Hence, the observation of Edilberto Alegre is correct. Filipino with the “F” and Pilipino with the “P” are similar. This can also be the basis for the use of Pilipino as an official language and medium of instruction. But this will only hold as long as the multi-language based national language has not taken off from its Tagalog roots. If it does – in the meantime that all the obstacles preventing it from doing so are being removed under the liberal language policy – then the distinction can be rightfully made. But whether it will is another question.


48 Yabes, supra note 32 at 342.
49 20 October 1971.
50 Pineda, supra note 13 at 60.
51 Reference to Ernesto Constantino’s work pervaded the discussions on the floor. See 4 CONCOM 152, 155.
52 Id. at 153.
53 Id. at 464.
54 Id. at 478
55 Id. at 481
56 Id. In order to facilitate understanding, the speech as reproduced here has been divided into paragraphs shorter than what appears on record.
57 4 CONCOM 487, 489.
59 Id. at 484-485.
60 An Act Creating the Commission on the Filipino Language, Prescribing Its Powers, Duties and Functions, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes, Republic Act No. 7104, sec. 16 (1991).
61 Id. at 489-490.
62 See 4 Concom 489-495 for the entire discussion.
63 2 Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J. The Constitution of the Philippines: A Commentary 528 (1987).
64 4 CONCOM 486.
65 Supra note 14.
66 Supra note 56.
67 Philippine Const. Art. XIV, secs. 6 and 7.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Top Ten Starbucks Aliases

1. Nowan

One cappuccino for "Nowan"! (Insert canned laughter here.)

2. Yu
3. Mi
4. Bidden
5. Saken
6. Rontong
7. Rorot
8. Ever
9. Given
10. Nickate

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Plaridel Recalls his Conflict with Rizal

For the past months, I have been reading the collected letters of Marcelo H. Del Pilar, which were published in English translation by the National Historical Institute. One of the more memorable letters in the collection is Del Pilar's letter to Deodato Arellano dated March 31, 1891 in which Plaridel tells Deodato the events that led to Rizal's parting with the Filipinos in Madrid and Rizal's eventual return to the Philippines.

In this letter, Plaridel gives us a different glimpse into Rizal's persona, his beef with the freeloaders on a New Year's Eve banquet, their debate on whether the La Solidaridad is independent of their political organization, and the elections among the Filipinos in Madrid, which Rizal grudgingly won over Plaridel. Del Pilar shows why Rizal stands way above his peers.

Madrid March 31, 1891

Ka Dato:

I received your letters last February 8 and 20 as well as those from Chanay, Ponciano and those addressed to Teofilo and Don Fernando. I also received from the house of Bayo a letter for Rizal, which was sent immediately to its destination, as were the others.

I owe you an explanation on what you call a conflict between Rizal and myself; the briefness of my previous statements seems to have brought about his judgment. There was no such conflict between us nor among the members of the colony, although in the election for leader there were pro-Rizal and pro-Pilar groups. Doctor Rosario must be there already and he can give you a more detailed account. And even now I call it childishness.

It is a traditional habit in the colony to enjoy at a fraternal banquet on the night of December 31. In the morning of that day, the suggestion was raised regarding the drinking of champagne, since the young men had been preparing their respective speeches. A thousand means were discussed to obtain champagne for the night; and at lunchtime, many jokes were passed around, but I kept quiet and was thinking of paying for the champagne; I wanted to surprise them. After the meal, I went to the house of Bayo to get the money for the champagne. From the house of Bayo, at around three in the afternoon, I went to the house of Doña Justa Jugo (a Filipina), where we were invited for tea, since it was the birthday of a son of hers. While I was there, Rizal arrived and he called me aside and told me: “Before coming here I passed by your house and heard a proposal that you spend for tonight’s coffee.” “Accepted”, I replied. Imagine why I would not accept that offer when I was willing to spend a lot more.

Nighttime comes, the young people, always gay, sign a paper which they do not allow me to read; and at the hour when we sat down at the table, the proposal signed by 25 table companions (I believe we were 31) was presented, having been prepared with much grace by Lete, asking that I pay for the coffee, Cunanan for the cigars, and Rizal and Dominador Gomez (who had not arrived yet) for the champagne.

I expressed my acceptance and so did Cunanan. But Rizal had the good or bad grace to protest and argue. I attempted to drown that protest, proposing that besides those mentioned, Modesto Reyes and Mariano Abella pay for the champagne. They also accepted. It may have been that Rizal did not hear me since we were far from each other, I at the presidential center of the table, he at the extreme left and the proponents at the extreme right; so that no one paid any attention to my proposal and Rizal began to collect, starting from the left of the table, a contribution of one peseta from each person for the champagne. In the midst of the hubbub, someone approached me and whispered, saying: “Mister Director, the proposal has been retracted, but we thank you for the coffee. We expected no less from your graciousness.”

I understood the bitterness that provoked Rizal’s protest. Not being aware of my proposal, he remained happy and witty, and I worried that there would be some conflict. The collection of one peseta went on, going from the extreme left toward the center; from here to the extreme right; no one wanted to give anything.

Very ingenious, but very strong arguments against Rizal began at the extreme right; I took advantage of the fact that Rizal was not aware of the extent of the arguments and I got up and approached the extreme right to tell them secretly not to spoil this brotherly reunion. All of them listened to me and the meal continued without any more quarrels.

The moment for the toast came. Dr. Rosario initiated the toasts and so magnificent was the moment when he lamented the lack of interest of some in their studies so that he received great applause; but at the end of the applause, the voice of Rizal was heard to say “We should feel it instead of clapping.” This caused some discontented looks.

When the banquet was finished, Naning and I accompanied Doña Marina and Micaela, who had gone to watch the banquet and were going home alone at midnight: then we went home to Atocha street and met the group that had been arguing. It was five in the morning and since I had an appointment at eight, I immediately went to bed but I know that there was talk about Rizal, saying that he liked to impose his will and I don’t know what else.

At eight in the morning I went to my appointment and later, at about twelve, I ate lunch and went back to sleep. But at five in the afternoon, I was awakened and told that the colony was going to meet in my rooms for the purpose of naming a leader whom they could respect; and in fact the members of the colony started arriving. Half asleep and half awake, I was surprised at this sudden determination on their part and told myself that I did not see the need for such an arrangement. I continued lying in bed thinking, and it occurred to me that this might be a trick against Rizal to make him realize that his leadership was not indisputable like many believed. That thought made me rise from bed ready to go against the idea that was being presented as a means of uniting the colony (which was already united). I searched for reasons but they all told me that it was the best way to unite us, and I did not date to voice my suspicions, since these were apparently unfounded.

At this moment Rizal arrives surrounded by the persons who had begun the idea with the support of Rizal himself, and without giving me time to do much, the session began. The idea was presented by Lete, who supported his proposal and he announced that he was counting on Rizal’s support. Some spoke up asking for clarification, and I replied in rebuttal. “Every institution, every organization,” said I, “has reason to exist only when it answers a need. What need does this new organization answer? For legitimate political ends we have the Spanish-Philippine Association; for purposes of propaganda we have another group at our disposal which gives great support.

They all contradicted me and I was beaten as the only one opposed to the idea. Naning thought like me, but did not consider it wise to insist and thus kept quiet.

A commission was formed to prepare the statutes, and Llorente, Rizal and I were elected. The commission met immediately after and Rizal was appointed chairman.

Once the project of Statutes had been prepared, I was ready to approve it without reading it. For me it was enough since Rizal had drafted it and I told Llorente this, but he insisted that I nevertheless read it. I leafed through it and was taken aback by an article that said that the head of the colony would decide the policies of the colony and that the Solidaridad would become subordinate to it.

I called the attention of Rizal to this saying that the Solidaridad depends on another entity. He replied : “Be quiet since, at the end, you will be elected head, since I and my companions at home will vote for you and that does not matter.” I gave him other explanations and I was able to modify the article, altering it as follows: that the leader shall direct its policies and in this sense the Solidaridad shall be its official organ.

A general council was formed to discuss the ruling and on coming to the article cited, a question was presented regarding the wisdom of an “official organ,” and whether this meant its subordination. It was my turn to reply and I said that it meant that the leader of the colony has the means to publish his agreements and thoughts and that without being his subordinate, the paper was willing to insert his authentic decisions. Rizal, without speaking to me directly, said “And if the Solidaridad published something that is not convenient for the interests of the colony, would there be solidarity in the colony because of what the La Solidaridad says?”

I pretended not to hear this question and said: “Gentlemen, the Solidaridad is willing to lend all kinds of service to the colony and even to those who are not part of the colony, as long as it is for the good of the Philippines; what I cannot do is to abdicate its independence; and I cannot do this because it belongs to another very respectable entity, whose instructions are incompatible with subordination to any other group that has not been previously designated. You may vote unanimously for the subordination of the paper; and if the paper does not become subordinate, your votes will lose their validity.”

This explanation was received with approval and Rizal announced that he would request from that Center the authorization that was needed to establish the paper in the colony.

The discussion about the rule ended, we proceeded to the election of the leader and the obligatory majority was not reached. The candidates were Rizal and myself. The voting was repeated thrice and the results were the same, and Rizal and I parted with great cordiality, so much so, that he told me that since the voting would be repeated the next day, it would be convenient to name a third person in order to avoid the formation of factions, to which I agreed.

In the afternoon of the following day the elections were repeated; I wished to go out and did not attend, leaving to Naning my right to vote and to sign agreements. Upon my return to my house I was greeted with the following news: that during the first election, there was no majority; that Naning met in secret with Rizal proposing a third candidate of the coalition who would be recommended by the two contending parties; that Rizal, without accepting or refusing the proposal, replied that he would be going abroad to work alone, and that where there are two Filipinos, it is not possible to have unity. The second election took place without any results either; so that in view of this, Rizal counted the votes in his favor and in the presence of everyone said: “Good, I see that I have 19 friends in the colony; goodbye, gentlemen, I am going to pack my bag, till then,” picked up his hat and left. Naning who had instructions from me to avoid the success of my candidacy, talked with those who he knew voted for me and asked them, for the sake of harmony, to vote for Rizal. Voting took place and Rizal won.

A Counselor was elected from the two who, according to rules, should exist and Lete was chosen. In the election for the other Counselor there was no majority between Naning and Apacible and voting was suspended, to be repeated the following day. The Rizalists agreed to support the candidacy of Naning, but Naning worked so that the Pilarists would not vote for him and it was agreed to vote for Doctor Rosario. The following day it was my turn to preside at the elections, and again no results were obtained; Rosario did not obtain a majority. There is more: Rizal himself said that he would not accept the leadership if the candidacy of Rosario succeeded. The Rizalists spoke to me to return to the candidacy of Naning, and I replied that they had seen me make all kinds of concessions for the sake of reconciliation, but at this point, they should also look for other conciliatory means. At this point, Rosario approached me and said: “Director, let us carry to the extreme our willingness to comply; we have already given in as to the leadership; let us also give in now so that we can prove that we are not elements of discord.” I suspended the session in order to confer and by common agreement a third person of the coalition was proposed: Don Modesto Reyes. Elections took place and he won.

The day of the oath-taking came and I presided. Having read the Act, I asked Rizal the following question: if he was accepting the position and was willing to swear an oath, and he asked to be heard. He made a long recriminatory speech, he goaded Lete, and added that Mr. Del Pilar should have immediately withdrawn his candidacy for the reason that he himself had judged his triumph ill-timed (it is true that I said that); that in Manila the news of his defeat would be poorly received, since he is recognized there as the leader, and it would be very bad if he were not also the leader in Madrid; that the leadership in Manila is in the letter that the Center sent him comparing him with Ruiz Zorilla and besides, his leadership was undisputed there, since all opinions in that area right now have come about through him. (It took me great effort to maintain my composure, after the presidency.)

The speech over, Lete asked to be heard and before agreeing to this, I warned him that the occasion was not meant to start controversies but to turn over the position, and Lete calmed me down by saying that he had no intention of arguing about anything but only to say a few words to clear himself of the charges directed against him.

Finally, I accepted the oaths of Rizal and the Counselors and swore them in. Dominador Gomez and Tomas Arejola made speeches alluding to the event, mentioning the conciliatory behavior with which the supporters distinguished themselves.

I found myself obliged to speak and said, more or less: there should not be any divisiveness in the Philippine Colony and there is none; some share the sentiments that encourage us, others are for the ideals that we pursue: the abolition of everything that stands in the way of our liberty in the Philippines, and at the same time and for the same reason, of that of the Spanish flag also. Divisiveness will bring us nowhere and since our efforts to obtain peace are recognized, I ask for nothing more but that all of us forget the bitterness felt because of the past arguments.

Thus I ended this act. A few weeks later, Rizal went on his planned trip abroad and I was elected to the position he vacated. I considered resigning, but thinking that they would misinterpret my resignation, I accepted.

That is the true story of the case: I appeal for the testimony of those who have recently returned there. Now I leave it to your judgment. I am of the opinion that we should avoid at all costs any unfavorable judgment of Rizal: I wish to keep unsullied the great name that he enjoys. You will remember that when he was insisting on returning there, I asked you to see to it that nothing should occur to belittle him; I precisely did that since I could foresee the event that I have just witnessed. My reputation was not established in the libraries, and the libraries do not take into account the circumstances surrounding the reality that prompts us to work.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Filipino with the "F": A Guide for the Perplexed (Part Two)

Continued from here.

The complete article can be found here

B. Tagalog and the Purists in the Institute of National Language

On 13 November 1936, Congress enacted Commonwealth Act No. 184. The act created the Institute of National Language composed of a director, seven members, and an executive secretary, each representing one of the linguistic groups of the Philippines. The Institute was principally tasked to choose the native tongue which was to be used as a basis for the evolution and adoption of the Philippine national language. In the selection, preference was to be given to the tongue that was most developed as regards structure, mechanism, and literature, and was accepted, and used by the greatest number of Filipinos. A year after it was established, the Institute was directed to publish its linguistic studies, and to recommend to the President the adoption of the national language based on the native tongue it had chosen.

On 9 November 1937, the Institute passed a resolution recommending that Tagalog be made the basis of the national language. On 30 December of the same year, President Quezon declared33 Tagalog as the national language of the Philippines. He subsequently authorized34 the printing of the dictionary and grammar prepared by the Institute, and fixed 18 June 1940, as the day upon which the national language was to be taught in all public and private schools. Tagalog became the official language effectively on 4 July 1946 by congressional act.35 Tagalog was later designated as Pilipino.36

Gradually, the multi-lingualists found reason to protest the actions of the Institute of National Language. The movement was not organized, but it had a wide reservoir of support which could be drawn upon any time.37 One of the issues raised by the multi-lingualists was the difficulty in learning and applying of the grammar prescribed by the Institute. The Institute coined terms in place of grammatical texts which were already familiar to many people and reduced that alphabet to the twenty-letter pre-Spanish alphabet. Such were considered signs of retrogression instead of progress.38 Soon enough, the critics called the linguistic attitude taken by the Institute as “purism.”

The mono-lingualists, on their part, lamented the junior role which Pilipino took in the general language program of the government. English continued to be the language of official communication and the principal medium of instruction. The place of Pilipino in the official business of government, on one hand, was merely ceremonial. Among the few government actions on language, for instance, were the mandatory celebration of the National Language Week,39 the naming of all government buildings, edifices, and offices in Pilipino;40 and the translation of all letter-heads of departments, offices, and agencies of the government to Pilipino.41 English, on the other hand, was the language in which laws and executive orders were passed and issued.

The courts promulgated their decisions in English. In the schools, the principal subjects of math and science were taught in English. Schools were also allowed to impose fines on students who spoke in Pilipino within the school premises.

C. The 1972 CONCON: Birth of Filipino

The mono-lingualists and the multi-lingualists debated anew on the provision of language during the 1972 Constitutional Convention (1972 CONCON). The issues against the mono-lingualists were the “purist” attitude of the Institute, the limited twenty-letter Pilipino pre-Spanish alphabet, and the political deception employed during the 1934 CONCON. For their part, the mono-lingualists pointed to the developments achieved in the propagation of the national language, particularly in mass media. They also raised the point that disregarding the gains of Pilipino would only perpetuate the continued domination of the English language in the country.

Professor Yabes offeres a framwork42 for studying how the struggle between the two movements on language ensued in the 1972 CONCON. According to him, it was three-phase struggle. Phase one was the struggle over which language of the Constitution was to be promulgated. In this phase, the multi-lingualists prevailed when the 1972 CONCON decided that the Constitution was to be promulgated solely in English and not in Pilipino.43

The second phase was the struggle in the Committee on National Language over what was to be the national language. In this phase, the multi-lingualists prevailed again when the committee decided44 to adopt Filipino, a language yet to be developed on the basis of existing native languages and dialects, and without precluding the assimilation of words from foreign languages. Pending the adoption of a common national language, the committee recommended the continuance of English and Spanish as official languages. It also recommended the vernaculars spoken in the various areas or regions as official languages in those areas or regions, including Arabic and the Manila Lingua Franca in the Muslim and Greater Manila Area.45

The third phase was the struggle over the final text of the language provision. In this phase, the real victor was uncertain, as the proposal of the committee underwent the following changes: a) Pilipino was made the second language of the Constitution and the second official language; b) reference to the vernaculars and the Manila Lingua Franca were deleted.

The final text of the 1973 Constitution provision on language read,

Section 3. (1) This Constitution shall be officially promulgated in English and Pilipino, and translated into each dialects spoken by over fifty thousand people, and into Spanish and Arabic, in case of conflict, the English text shall prevail.

(2) The National Assembly shall take steps towards the development and formal adoption of a common national language to be known as Filipino.

(3) Until otherwise provided by law, English and Pilipino shall be the official languages.46

When the adoption of the 1973 Constitution was finally declared, the national language was supposed to be multi-language based, but the multi-lingualists did not appear to be the clear winner. The real outcome was contingent upon how the Batasang Pambansa was to evolve the multi-language based Filipino as the 1973 Constitution mandated.

D. Inaction of the Batasang Pambansa

The mandate of the Constitution to the Batasang Pambansa to take steps towards the development and adoption of Filipino was never fulfilled. The only positive effort was the filing of Parliamentary Bill No. 7199, which was introduced by Mambabatas Pambansa (MP) Pacificador and eleven other MP’s. Under section 7 of the bill, Pilipino was to be the nucleus of Filipino. The bill was never enacted into law, but it indicated a willingness to compromise on the part of the multi-lingualists, and it laid the foundation to the 1987 Constitution’s Filipino. Meanwhile, under then existing laws, Pilipino kept its stature as a national language.47

It may be concluded that, the struggle between the mono-lingualists and the multi-lingualists ended in a deadlock of sorts. On one hand the multi-lingualists were able to correct the deception which took place during the 1934 CONCON. On the other hand, there was no law to support the multi-lingualists’ Constitutional provision. Thus, the mono-lingualists were able to maintain the preferred position of Pilipino over the other native languages in the national language policy.


33 Executive Order 134 (1937).
34 Executive Order 263 (1940).
35 Commonwealth Act No. 570 (1940).
36 Department Order No. 7 issued by the Department of Education (1959).
37 Yabes, supra note 31 at 343.
38 Id. at 346.
39 Proclamation No. 12 (1954).
40 Executive Order No. 96 (1967).
41 Memorandum Circular No. 172 (1968).
42 See L.Y. Yabes, Let’s Study the New Constitution: The Language Provision, 38 Philippine Social Sciences and Humanities Review 1-172.
43 The basis of the voting was the so-called Quirino resolution which was adopted by a vote of 146 to 78 on second reading and 165 to 101 on third and final reading.
44 Voting was twenty-five (25) to nine (9) in favor of Filipino with one (1) voting for Filipino with reservations.
45 L.Y. Yabes, supra not 43 at 100-107.
46 Philippine Const., art. XV, sec. 3 (1973).
47 Department of Justice Opinion No. 73 (1973).

(To be continued)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Notes on the Elections Part 2: The Politics of Sound System, Mic and Minus-one

My cousin, Maria Estela Felipa "Estee" M. Aceron, was recently elected as Vice-Governor of Oriental Mindoro. Estee, armed with a law degree, a beautiful voice, and ramp model looks, has changed Mindoro politics forever.

Estee shares her winning formula in her blog. She writes.
Now, I truly say that “guns, goons and gold” are not indispensable during elections. One can still win without them. In my case, “sound system, mic and minus-one” are indispensable!

After her election, her father, Edgardo C. Aceron, hands down one of the best trial lawyers I've seen, wrote her this letter, which Estee also shares in her blog. I'd like to share it to this blog's readers to inspire more advocates for the politics of "sound system, mic and minus-one."

Sta. Maria Village
Calapan City , Oriental Mindoro

17 May 2007

Dear Estee,

Three days after elections, we already know that your victory in the vice-gubernatorial race is almost a certainty. In the latest PPCRV Partial Results of the Official Canvass, you are leading by a wide margin of more than 74,000 votes over Dr. Tony delos Reyes. And your votes are still pouring in. By all indications, you are winning overwhelmingly in Calapan City as well as in all Municipalities in Oriental Mindoro except only in Pinamalayan, the home town of your political adversary.

Since the time that you decided to cast your lot in the political arena (in the 2001 elections when you ran and won as 1st councilor of the city, through the 2004 elections when you were elected as number 1 board member, until today, when victory in the recently concluded elections is already at hand), your rise in the political horizon is meteoric. However, as a concerned parent, amidst the euphoria of success, I have my own fears and apprehension about your private life, your career and most especially, your future in politics.

You see, you have a lucrative law practice in Metro Manila You are still single at the age of 33 years and from what I observed I am suspecting that you are beginning to like politics.

I feel guilty for introducing you to politics while you were still in your fledgling years, You are aware that early in my own political life, I was involved in the struggle to change the system of politics - geared towards giving poor and deserving candidates for political positions equal footing with the rich and the affluent. Even when you were still in high school you joined me in our crusade against the politics of patronage and against candidates with guns, goons and gold. I sincerely believed then, that I could attain our noble objectives during my time. But I was wrong, I lost, miserably.

After that pitiful loss we vowed never to get involved in politics again. I remember you were the most vocal among the members of the family against any of us getting involve in politics again. But as fate would have it. This is not to be so.

It came to your mother and I as big surprise when in November 2001, while in Los Angeles , California , we received an overseas call from you informing us that you have given your word to Mayor Arnan Panaligan, that you are consenting to run as councilor of the city under his slate. That hastened my vacation as I immediately rushed back to Calapan City , Oriental Mindoro to prepare for the campaign.

Thus began your own quest for your rightful place in the political spectrum. Political observers say that by all standards, your performance in politics, from the start until now, from councilor to vice governor in so short a time, is nothing but impressive and spectacular.

We cannot really fathom the ways of the Lord. In this election we did not act like traditional politicians. More than the honor of being the vice governor of the province, your victory is most especially significant and meaningful to me because it was the fulfilling grace for me that eased the angst and agony of defeat that I have been nurturing all through the years.

We did not have the guns, goons and gold, yet we won. You have continued my crusade and proved to the world that we could do away with the politics of patronage and still win overwhelmingly over our political opponents. From father to daughter, I thank you for redeeming our name in politics.

But honestly I am afraid. My fatherly instinct obliges me to make you realize that politics is dirty - that it may be better for you to choose and pursue your career and to have a family of your own. Your future in politics is uncertain. Next election you will not be as young as you are now. By that time, Mom and I, would be older and may no longer be able to withstand the rigors, inconveniences and ordeal of campaign. Without the necessary logistics, you will be charting a very dangerous course.

Having made a clean breast of everything to you, the decision is still yours to make. To paraphrase a famous quotation from "Invictus", by British poet William Ernest Henley, "You are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul." We shall always abide and respect your decision.


May the Good Lord and the Holy Spirit guide and keep you always!

We love you,

Dad & Mom

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Notes on the 2007 Elections (Part One)

1. I had a big laugh over the story on how politicians in Legazpi City had long faces after they went for broke on election day. With votes being sold for as high as PHP 1,100 for a straight slate vote, some politicians spent millions just for vote-buying. I went around Legazpi City, and it was noticeable how happy the people were with their crisp peso bills stapled in denominations of PHP 600 and PHP 1,100. They packed up Gaisano mall to the roof, and I've never seen Mcdonald's with that much business before. In contrast, the candidates with their broke wallets await the canvassing results, their tempers flaring as allegations of cheating delay their proclamation. The candidates would continue to spend hundreds and thousands of pesos everyday until they get proclaimed. You would think they're crazy burning all that money.

But of course, we all know that after the election fever is gone, the winners proclaimed, and the voters have spent the last two-hundred peso bill, it would be the politicians turn to laugh. The division of spoils, as it were, would commence for contracts and projects with favored contractors and "twenty-percenters". The situation in Legazpi City is probably the same in many parts of the country, with the elections becoming an industry, and election day being the day for the voters' big pay-out. In between elections, the elected politicians fill up their bank accounts with commissions and ghost projects and save enough for the next pay out. No wonder this country is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

2. On the Pampanga elections, I'm beginning to see the election of the Catholic priest on leave, Among Ed Panlilio, as Pampanga governor in a different light. His election to the office seems to be a rejection of the established political elite in the province whose base of power rests on illegal gambling and illegal sand quarrying. But if you look at the figures, Among Panlilio's votes is just a little higher than one third of the total votes cast, and the two other candidates are less than 10,000 votes away from his winning margin in a province with about a million votes. If the two candidates unite --they used to be allies by the way -- Among's going to have the mandate only of the minority. This means that once Among commences his fight against illegal gambling and corruption in sand-quarrying in the province, Among's army of supporters are going to be out-numbered two-to-one. In order to succeed, Among has to develop some allies among the local and national leaders. But the problem is almost everyone in the local political arena in Pampanga has been compromised by illegal gambling and corruption. Thus, Among's best bet for help is with the national leaders. But would Among be open to an alliance with the GMA gang who are likewise compromised? Would Among be open to be an ally of morally compromised leaders at all?
Such would be the dilemna of a governor who happens to be a Catholic priest on leave -- shades of Faust and Mephistopheles.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fr. Ed Panlilio proclaimed Pampanga Governor

Fr. Ed Panlilio, Catholic priest on leave, has been proclaimed Pampanga governor.

The winning margin is a mere 1,147 votes. That's a measly PHP 1,147,000 for the vote buyers who bought votes PHP 1,000 per vote. The priest got 219,706 votes, Lilia Pineda got 218,559 votes, and re-electionist Governor Mark Lapid received 210,875 votes.

Really amazing.

All Eyes on Pampanga

I was doing some election work in Pampanga on election day. As votes were getting counted, I heard the report that the turnout was about 60% of the 1,000,000++ votes of Pampanga. But due to the very close fight, my calculation was that the winning vote count should be 210,000. As of the latest count, the candidates are racing to the 200,000 mark with Pineda leading and Panlilio a close second and Lapid a couple of tens of thousands away as third.

Based on advance information on the tabulated election returns, however, Panlilio appears to be a clear winner by a margin of about 1,000 votes over Lilia Pineda. Panlilio took votes from San Fernando and Bacolor, while Pineda brought in a lot from Lubao. Lapid hauled votes from Arayat. However, the Statement of Votes for Mabalacat are being questioned by the Pineda lawyers. Mabalacat has about 60,000 voters, and thus it could swing the votes for any of the three candidates.

Thus, the three-cornered fight might be decided only by just one town, Mabalacat.

On a personal note, I am impressed by Fr. Panlilio's rise as a political player with only 45 days of campaigning. He has put up a good fight, and the people of Pampanga have made a clear statement against the ruling political elite. Let's hope the electoral process resolves itself well in this province.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mayor Alex Aranas of Pola, Oriental Mindoro on ABS-CBN

Mayor Alex Aranas on ABS-CBN. He relates the details of his abduction by the NPA last Friday, May 4, 2007. The NPAs told him to leave Pola immediately and not to return until after election day. If this is not lawlessness, I don't know what is.

UPDATE: NPAs admit abducting Mayor Alex Aranas. See Abs-cbn news here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Filipino with the "F": A Guide for the Perplexed (Part One)

During the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, Constitutional Commissioner Tingson stood in prayer as follows:

MR. TINGSON… Panginoon, bigyan mo po kami ng mga Filipinos nga may kasing-kasing na mahinulsulun. Nga nagahigugma sang katarungan apan nagasabdung sang kalainan. Kay, Ginoo, ito pong mga Filipinos ang aming bayan ngayon may kailangan kay amo ining mga Filipinos nga may matuod nga sadsara. (4 CONCOM 486)

The argument was that the above prayer is the new Filipino language, rich, democratic, and hardly intelligible.

That's why you don't know how thrilled I am that somebody has actually filed a case directly attacking the language policy of the government, particularly on the medium of instruction. This is not the first time somebody had done so, there were previous efforts but none were given enough attention by the Supreme Court. My thrill is not because I am an advocate of one language line -- my views have shifted from one line to another, and now I don't know where I am. More than anything, I am excited because finally the Supreme Court can have a chance to settle the issue on what is the national language.

The recent case makes a point about Filipino, and the backseat it has taken with the EO 210 and DepEd Order 36 making English the medium of instruction in schools for certain subjects. But the case that needs to be settled is about Filipino itself. Does it actually exist? What is it composed of? How can we tell if what were using is Filipino with ""F" or Pilipino with "P" or Tagalog with the "T".

I have spent my junior year in law school researching the history of our language laws, and, with my efforts and a lot of luck, this article was born: Filipino with the "F": A Construction of the National Language Policy The article was publised in the Ateneo Law Journal in 1994.

When the case goes to the Solicitor General for Comment, one of the key arguments would be the ambiguity of Filipino with "F", and the difficulty in obtaining learning materials in a language not yet developed. And with that the Supreme Court will have no choice but to settle the question, what is the Filipino language?

In the meantime, I'm blogging the article here in series.




The absence of a settled definition of Filipino has triggered many long and winding debates on the nature and character of the Philippine national language. The esteemed author Edilberto Alegre, for instance, writes that the distinction between Filipino and Pilipino exists only in the statutes. As written and spoken, Filipino and Pilipino are similar, and to maintain the distinction is to be foolish. But as others hold, the distinction is substantive.2 Pilipino, is a mere component of Filipino, since the former is based solely on Tagalog while the latter is based on all existing Philippine languages. Undoubtedly, the State’s legal intervention in the national language issue has done much to confound the problem. The different shifts in the language policy have brought enough confusion not only to the people but also to policy-makers themselves. Hence, to untangle the complications which have developed on the subject throughout its legal history, an historical and legal construction is in order.


A. Definitions

“Pilipino,” on one hand, is the national language declared3 by then President Manuel Quezon by authority of Commonwealth Act 184.4 It is based on Tagalog, an existing language which is native to the inhabitants of the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, and Quezon among others. “Filipino,” on the other hand, is the national language consisting of a fusion of all languages in the country the number of which range from forty (40) to ninety (90) depending on how one distinguishes a language from a dialect.5

It is admitted, however, that there is no established language which consists of a fusion of all languages in the Philippines. If ever one does exist, the most that can be said about it is, that it is underdeveloped. In this view, a noted linguist declared, Filipino is a mere “linguistic legal fiction.”6 In Tumang v. Bautista, et. al.,7 a case for damages, the plaintiff filed his complaint in Filipino. The defendant objected on the ground that the complaint did not use the official language, i.e., it was not in English. The trial court admitted the complaint, but on review, was reversed by the Supreme Court. Speaking for the Supreme Court, Justice Vicente Abad Santos held that Filipino is still a gestating language as the National Assembly failed to take appropriate measures to develop Filipino as mandated by the 1973 Constitution.8 Thus, from this ruling, it is clear that litigants may validly object to pleadings written in Filipino. Moreover, judges should avoid writing decisions in that language.

Curiously, under Executive Order No. 335,9 Filipino was made an official10 language by mandate of the 1987 Constitution. In this regard, the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports issued an order11 prescribing guidelines for the use of Filipino as a medium of instruction. If Filipino is a gestating language or a linguistic legal fiction, how can it be used as an official language or a medium of instruction? Needless to state, only an established language or a medium of used as a language of official communication or medium of school instruction. In other words, Filipino is an ambiguous concept. This ambiguity is the foremost hindrance to the effective implementation of the national language policy. Hence, the meaning of Filipino must be defined and articulated to overcome this hindrance.

B. Approaches

There are two (2) ways to understand the concept of Filipino: the Complete Amalgamation Approach and the Universal Approach. The former is attributed to Dr. Demetrio Quirino, Jr.12 and proposes that all languages in the Philippines must have a democratic representation in Filipino. Philippine languages will have an allocated percentage in the phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary of Filipino according to the population of the speakers. Tagalog will only have an allocation of thirty (30%) per centum. This approach was explicitly rejected by the 1986 Constitutional Commission.13

The second perspective is the Universal Approach14 developed by Dr. Ernesto Constantino. Under this, Filipino is based on the national lingua franca, or the language used by persons with different linguistic backgrounds. The lingua franca is said to have evolved informally. This approach does not subscribe to the democratic allocation proposed by the Complete Amalgamation Approach. Instead, it allows a single language to be the nucleus of Filipino. The nuclear language is then developed by allowing other languages to influence it through usage and standardization. Filipino, under this approach, is said to be similar to the taglish15 variety of Pilipino spoken in Metro Manila.

Dr. Ponciano Pineda, the Director of the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (SWP), provides a schema16 to further understand the universal approach. According to him, the manner of developing the multi-language based Filipino is by using Pilipino as the nucleus or the corpus of the language, and by allowing the corpus to assimilate popular words and phrases from other Philippine and foreign languages through a process of rigorous selection. Naturally, there will be modifications in the lexicon, grammar, and orthography of the corpus. These changes will then be assimilated through standardization. Then, the government must expand the usage domain of the corpus to include the fields of education, culture, public administration, sciences, technology, lawmaking, judiciary, society, and media to develop the language. In the meantime, Pilipino, the corpus, is similar to Filipino. But after a period of development, the multi-language based Filipino may then be realized.

This study uses this second approach in arriving at a definition of Filipino. It is, however, necessary to indulge in a digression on the origin and history of Filipino in order to fully appreciate its meaning and context.


A. Deception in the 1934 Constitutional Convention

The need for a single unifying language in the Philippine archipelago had been the constant concern of the Spanish and American colonizers and even the Philippine Revolutionaries. There were attempts to impose an official language through legislation, but none would leave a lasting effect other than the drafting and subsequent ratification of the 1935 Constitution. This ushered in the rivalry between those who advocated a national language based on one language (the mono-language based movement) and those who advocated a national language based on all existing native languages (multi-language based movement). An overwhelming sentiment17 to adopt a local language as a national language which would eventually replace English moved the delegates of the 1934 Constitutional Convention (1934 CONCON) to consider the proposition18 of Delegate Villanueva making Tagalog the national language. The Villanueva proposition started the mono-language based national language movement (hereinafter the mono-lingualists), as it would later be known. Delegate Villanueva said that it was time for the Filipinos to set aside their sectionalism for the purpose of achieving a common goal – the selection of a common language.19 Among the dialects in the Philippines, Tagalog had the surest promise of developing into a national language, because it was widely spoken.20 It was the language of the capital.21 It also had a formidable body of literature.22

In opposition to the Villanueva proposal, Delegate Bueno stated that it was more prudent not to mention any native dialect in the Constitution and to leave to time the selection of a national language.23 Mentioning a native dialect in the Constitution would foster impressions of preference, thus breeding division instead of cohesion.24 Moreover, there were other dialects, aside from Tagalog, that could just as well serve as the national language.25

In the course of the debate, Delegate Briones objected to the Villanueva proposition. He suggested that the dialects of the Visayan Islands and Mindanao and another of those of Luzon, be unified, primarily through their literature. From the two unified systems would later evolve a national language.26 This unification would not be difficult to attain, in view of the common Malay origin of the Philippine dialects.27 Delegate Briones’ suggestion marked the conception of a multi-language based national language. Eventuallym the Villanueva proposition was defeated, 71 votes against 47.

Without further debate, the delegates approved a compromise provision on the national language submitted by Delegate Vinsons. It stated:

The National Assembly shall take steps towards the development and adoption of a common national language based on existing native dialects.

Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall be the official languages.28

It appeared that the multi-language based national language bloc scored a victory with the approval of the Vinsons provision.29 The victory, however, was short-lived. When the Style Committee considered the provision, it amended the provision so that the national language was to be based on one of the existing native languages instead of all of them. Note that the amendment was more than a matter of style; it affected the substance of the provision. This action raised questions on the propriety and validity of the provision. It was, however, voted and carried on readily by the Convention. The provision read:

The National Assembly shall take steps toward the development and adoption of a common national language based on one of the existing native languages. Until otherwise provided by law, English and Spanish shall continue as official languages.30 (emphasis supplied)

The entire draft of the Constitution with the altered languages provision was then approved by the 1934 CONCON on 8 March 1935. U.S. President Roosevelt signed it on 23 March 1935. It was ratified in a plebiscite on 14 May 1935. It may be said, therefore, that the irregularity was cured.

Charges were hurled against the President of the 1934 CONCON, Claro M. Recto, and the members of the Style Committee for submitting to the alleged prodding of Senate President Manuel L. Quezon to rephrase the Vinsons provision.31 The charges were never proved, but such did not endear President Quezon32 to the non-Tagalogs and the multi-language based national language movement (hereinafter the multi-lingualists). In the meantime, the multi-lingualists quietly acquiesced to the turn of events.


* Juris Doctor 1995, Notes and Comments Editor, Ateneo Law Journal, 1993-1994, Associate Editor, 1994-1995
Edilberto Alegre, Filipino is the National Language in Monico M. Atienza, Kilusang Pambansa Demokratiko sa Wika 300 (1992).
2 In 1969, two civil actions were filed against the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa (SWP) questioning SWP’s authority to propagate Tagalog as the basis of Pilipino. These cases were: Ferrer v. CA, et. al. CFI of Manila Branch VII, Civil Case No. 53048, 10 October 1969, docketed as L-32167 in the Supreme Court and dismissed on a minute resolution in 1970; and Madyaas Pro-Hiligaynon Society v. Surian ng Wikang Pambansa, CFI of Manila, Civil Case No. 77548, 28 January 1971.
3 Executive Order No. 134 (1937).
4 13 November 1936.
5 Emy M. Pascasio, The Language Situation in the Philippines from the Spanish Era to the Present, Brown Heritage, (A. Manuud ed. 1969).
6 Quoting Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, Ma. Teresa R. Robles, A Filipino Language at Last, in Development Issues: Constitutional Response 25 (Florangel Rosario-Braid ed. 1987).
7 136 SCRA 682, at 685 (1985)
8 Id. It appears that Justice Abad Santos ignored the difference between Pilipino and Filipino. Nevertheless, it is clear that he is referring to Filipino alone.
9 1988.
10 An official language must be differentiated from a national language. The official language is the prescribed means of communications in government transactions. A national language is the language used generally in the country. The government has the right to insist that official communications be done in the official language which may not necessarily be the national language.
11 Department Order No. 81 (1987).
12 Pociano Pineda, Ang Wikang Pambansa sa Saligang Batas, Limampung Taon ng Surian ng Wikang Pambansa: Huling Isa’t Kalahating Dekada (1970-1987) 61 (Aurora E. Batnag ed. 1987).
13 Commissioner Ople’s interpellaton with Commissioner Bennagen on the 1 September 1986 session proves this assertion.

MR. OPLE Does the committee, however, believe, that the enrichment, expansion and indefinite strengthening of the living language through assimilation will have to be done in the course of the evolution of this language, and that it is not the intention of the committee to prescribe certain quotas, according to quotas of assimilation from different languages, in accordance with a certain fiat of the government?

MR. BENNAGEN. No Madam President, because we look at the language as an organic thing which has its own logic of growth; therefore, we must follow that x x x

See 4 Records of the Constitutional Commission 153 (hereinafter Concom).
14 Ernesto Constantino, Ang “Universal Approach” at ang Wikang Pambansa ng Pilipinas, Filipino o Pilipino? Mga Bagong Babasahin sa Pambansang Wika at Literatura (Ernesto Constantino, et al. eds. 1974)
15 This variety of Pilipino employs a loose mixture of Tagalog and English.
16 See Pineda, supra note 13 at 32.
17 Jose Aruego, The Framing of the Philippine Constitution, 639-640 (1949 reprint).
18 Actually, the proposition was in the form of an amendment to the proposed draft of the Committee on Official Languages. The draft stated: A national language being necessary to strengthen the solidarity of the Nation, the National Assembly shall take steps looking to the development and adoption of a language common to all the people on the basis of the existing languages. (Id., at 636).
19 Id. at 642.
20 Id.
21 Id.
22 Id.
23 Id.
24 Id. at 643.
25 Id.
26 Id. at 644.
27 Id.
28 Id.
29 Historians refer to this as the Vinsons Amendment.
30 Id. at 645.
31 Leopoldo L. Yabes, History of Filipino as the Common National Language, Language Planning and the Building of a National Language (Bonifacio P. Sibayan and Andrew Gonzalez, FSC eds. 1977.)
32 Prof. Yabes attributes this alleged act of Pres. Quezon as the basis for Pres. Quezon’s designation as the Father of the Pilipino Language, and the celebration of the National Language Week in the week of his birthday August 19. The designation is not officially conferred. The celebration of the language week during Pres. Quezon’s birthday was based on Proclamation No. 7 (1955). Id. at 645.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Declare Martial Law on Pola Now!

I was shocked to hear the news last night that my uncle, Mayor Alex Aranas, was abducted by NPA guerrillas after engaging them in brief gunfight in a faraway barangay of Matula-tula in our hometown Pola, Or. Mindoro. Today, the news is that as a condition for his release, Mayor Alex Aranas has been ordered by the NPAs who abducted him to leave the town. Mayor Alex appears to have resolved to leave, in spite of his re-election campaign, for his safety and his family.

I don't know what the Commander-in-Chief is thinking about this situation, if she is thinking about it at all, but I hope she realizes this shows that the NPA's have effective control over my town. By showing their ability to abduct an incumbent mayor -- not once but twice! -- they have also shown that their power over the town is uncontested. The NPAs could take anybody they want, tell anyone what to do, and turn the town into a showcase of communist rule.

The last time I was in my hometown was in November 1, 2001 when NPA amazons raided the Pola police armory and sped away with all government issued guns on board a rented van. My family was so terrified, I haven't gone back since then. In 2004, the same group of NPA guerrillas abducted Mayor Alex Aranas for his failure to pay permit to campaign fees. He was only released after promising to pay (I don't exactly know if he did).

I was planning to spend election day next week in the beaches of Pola with my kids, but with this disturbing news that not even my uncle, who is the mayor of the town, is going to be safe there, I guess I have to put off the plan.

Pola is the hometown of the Vice-President, Noli de Castro, who happens to be a good friend of my uncle, and the President herself has been to our town twice, the only President to have ever visited our town. It is also the only town in Or. Mindoro where she won fair and square in the 2004 elections. But with this town turning into an NPA haven, civilian authority no longer matters there.

The Vice-President's town should never become an NPA haven. The President should take decisive action and restore the rule of law in our town. Declare martial law in Pola now.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Business is the Captain of Corruption

This is a reply to MLQIII's post on the rising belief that business is going to save this country. I say this is 100% dog shit. Business is the captain of corruption in this country. I look at the big leaders of today's business, and I see not a single bone of integrity and not a single drop of blood not motivated by an appetite.

Look at this multi-billion earning companies, how did they acquire that dominance in the market? -- by paying off every public official who gets in the way or by giving fees to public officials who squeeze private resistance to their companies' build-up. Save for a few exceptions, I can say this straight on the face of every big businessman in this country, especially those who fancy themselves as saviors.

How can business help save this country? A big player who corrupts creates a trickle down effect on the entire bureacracy. It sends the signal that the only way for bureaucrats to attain material success is to become the padrino of a big company --i.e. If you become President, a big businessman will pay PHP20,000,000 if you help out in their hostile take over bid of one of your country's corporate crown jewels. It starts a pricing war among the business players. Whoever pays the highest gets what he wants. In the meantime, the law, integrity, and public welfare are set aside in favor of the highest bidder.

When I was trying to negotiate a distribution deal in Vietnam, one of the principals with me blurted to the other side, "I like your country, because it's as corrupt as ours." I don't know how that kind of statement can win a negotation, but it reflects the thinking of business. It's better to bribe than to follow the rules. It makes costs manageable and risks predictable.

Since business holds the wealth in this country, the only way for them to save this country is for them to stop bribing public officials, get a bone of integrity implanted on their slimy backs, and get a blood transfusion from the monks of Tibet. After all, if they won't pay up and no one else pays up, what would be left for the greedy bureaucrat to do, but do his job or resign.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wifey Chronicles No. 1

Me: I'm not arguing with you.
Ces: Then, just say yes with what I have to say.
Me: What? You know the problem with this marriage is there is no democracy.
Ces: Look, we'll have a bigger problem if we put democracy in this marriage.
Me: And why is that?
Ces: Because there is no one here to break the tie.
Me: oh...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Notes on the Anti-Terrorism Law (Part 5)

IX. We come now to the second authorized legal intrusion into private rights under the Anti-Terrorism Law, the detention of suspected terrorists.

The Anti-Terrorism Law authorizes the warrantless arrest of a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism under the following circumstances:

1. There is an authority in writing from the Anti-Terrorism Council
2. The subject of the arrest is a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism
3. The arrest results from the surveillance authorized under Section 7 (discussed in an earlier post) and examination of bank deposits under Section 27 (to be discussed later)

Section 18 of the law gives the law enforcement personnel who arrested the suspected terrorist a period of three (3) days counted from the moment of arrest to submit the arrested terrorist to the proper judicial authority.

The general rule on warrantless arrests of person is provided in Section 5 Rule 113 of the Revised rules of Criminal Prcedure, which states as follows:

Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. – A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

Obviously, the provision under the Anti-Terrorism Law for the warrantless arrest a suspected terrorist appears to be a new exception to the rule on warrantless arrests under the Rules on Criminal Procedure. The problem here is that with this provision, Congress appears to be legislating on the matter of criminal procedure in the protection and enforcement of a constitutional right. Under Section 5 Article VIII of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to "promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights" Thus, the issue is, Congress may have legislated on a matter which is the exclusive province of the Supreme Court.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., in his commentaries on the Constitution, says the power of Congress to legislate on rules of procedure was recognized by the Constitutional Commission, but after the debates on the issue and as a matter of compromise, the Constitutional Commission did not make this power explicit in the text of the 1987 Constitution. This opinion, however, has not yet been supported by jurisprudence.

Thus, this provision of the Anti-Terrorism Law on the warrantless arrest of a suspected terrorist may be challenged as an unwelcome encroachment on the powers of the Supreme Court under Article VIII Section 5 of the 1987 Constitution.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


VIII. We come now to a discussion on one of the novel legal intrusions on the rights to privacy that has been sanctioned by the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law provides for the requisites under which surveillance of private communications shall be allowed, as follows:

1. It must be done by a police or law enforcement official and the members of his team.

2. There must be a written order of the Court of Appeals

3. The authority given by the Court of Appeals shall be listen to, intercept and record, with the use of any mode, form, kind or type of electronic or other surveillance equipment or intercepting and tracking devices, or with the use of any other suitable ways and means for that purpose,

4. The object of the surveillance shall be any communication, message, conversation, discussion, or spoken or written words

5. The subject shall be communications between members of a judicially declared and outlawed terrorist organization, association, or group of persons or of any person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The law, however, provides exceptions with respect to the surveillance, interception and recording of communications between the following:

1, lawyers and clients,
2. doctors and patients, and
3. journalists and their sources and confidential business correspondence.

This is one of the controversial provisions of the law, because it excludes surveillance of private communications covered by this law from the application of the Anti-wire Tapping Law or Republic Act No. 4200. The issue is will this provision violate the Constitution, particularly, Art. III section 3? It states as follows:

Section 3. (1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.

(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

The requirement of an order from the Court of Appeals stated in the Anti-Terrorism Law appears to fit the exception provided by the Constitution on the inviolability of the privacy of communication and corresppondence. Thus, the argument that this provision is unconstitutional appears to be very weak.

Further, in securing this order from the Court of Appeals, the law provides a rigorous procedure in Section 8. The provision states that the authority shall be granted by the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals only upon compliance with the following requirements:

1. An ex parte written application of a police or of a law enforcement official who has been duly authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council created in Section 53 of this Act to file such ex parte application,
2. Upon examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce to establish:

(a) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the said crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism has been committed, or is being committed, or is about to be committed;
(b) that there is probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that evidence, which is essential to the conviction of any charged or suspected person for, or to the solution or prevention of, any such crimes, will be obtained; and,
(c) that there is no other effective means readily available for acquiring such evidence.

The procedure appears to mirror the provisions of Section2 Article III of the Constitution with respect to the issuance of search and arrest warrants, except that the Anti-Terrorism Law required a higher court, the Court of Appeals, as the court from where the authority for surveillance may be secured. Section 2 Article III of the Constitution states:

Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

By wording this provision in a simlar manner, Congress incorporates by analogy to the Anti-Terrorism Law the wealth of jurisprudence that has evolved in the Philippines relating to the procedure of the examination of the applicant and his witnesses and the finding of probable cause.

Thus, this novel legal intrusion sanctioned by the Anti-Terrorism may survive the anticipated constitutional challenge from the human rights activists.