That voice that called me a year ago

A year ago, I made a pivotal decision in my life.  It was not an easy decision as it meant letting go of a job that gives promising salary and other many perks.   But there was this insistent voice that keeps on calling me every sleepless night.  I never listened to it at first for it sounded absurd.  I was already in my comfort zone, why else let go of it.  The more that I disregarded it, all the more that it became louder until it manifested to me clearly – let go and have faith!  And so I let go, ventured into something that is unknown while embracing a leap of faith.
Now I fully understand what that voice meant.  I needed to take two steps backward for me to have a good jumpstart.
A time in my life when I said that I wanted to meet people of brilliant minds with good hearts, people of different nationalities and people who are diplomats and I met them all in a one of a kind wonderful experience.  Have I not listened to that insistent voice calling me to be more grounded to the realities of poverty, inequities and inequalities, I would never had ticked this out of my bucket list.
In June 2016, I went to Geneva, Switzerland to help the Bla’an people of Tampakan to be heard.   It was my pleasure to be of their service.  I was so honored to be bringing (translating) the voices of the Bla’an royalties into the United Nations Human Rights Council.  It has never dawned on me before that my aptitude in the English language will be the bridge between the oppressed Bla’an people and the international world.  I am praying that through this bridge, these people will have once more their dignity as a tribe – they will never be left out but clearly heard, not again would they be displaced for reasons of development.
In my year of being with the Bla’an, of knowing their culture and history, I learned that I owed something to the Bla’an people and it is the fact that the space – literally space where I am enjoying my so-called home was once theirs.  According to a Bla’an old man who chanted their history to us while doing a genealogy, Koronadal City which they call Kolon Datal was their hunting ground.  And they decided to move to the mountains because the “Christian” (perhaps he refers in general the settlers from Luzon and Visayas) arrived in Kolon Datal and started claiming their grounds.
Perhaps that insistent voice wants me to hear this story so that I will see it as my moral obligation to help the Bla’an people.  Perhaps this insistent voice wants me to change into a more sensible person and sensitive to the rights of others.
Perhaps this insistent voice is the voice of my God who wants me for a purpose – for His Glory!


My personal note on the Qualification of Senator Grace Poe

I am a fan of Senator Grace Poe and honestly she was my first choice.  But when disqualification cases about her were raised, I started pondering. 
I would have cared less about these cases against her if not that I am in law school now.   Of course, I am writing my own opinion with due respect to the Supreme Court Justices.  I have high regard about them. 

But what really bothers me is on how we value citizenship.  Many jurisprudence taught us in school that citizenship is not a commodity that can easily be given up in exchange of something else and have it again when desired.  

It was because of these teachings that I learned to value more my Filipino Citizenship because for me having it is not merely a right to protect but an obligation to fulfill. 
For me the main issue in her case is not about her being a foundling and having the right to become Filipino as she was found in the Philippines – she have that right and we are morally obligated to grant it to her.  

What for me is the main issue is when she left the country and opted to become another citizen.  She had a good life simply living as a FIlipino prior she left for the US.  She had a good life and yet she left.  What could it be then if life in the Philippines will not be as generous and happy?
Embracing our citizenship to the end despite the odds is a moral obligation.


SK reform law is unconstitutional as it violates equal access to opportunity to public service

SK reform law is unconstitutional as it violates the equal access to opportunity to public service
The phrase ‘equal access to opportunity to public service’ is a dichotomous principle of political dynasty which is falsely interrelated by perception.  The first phrase is an inclusive principle while the prohibition of the political dynasty provides an excluding rule.  
The SK reform law is pushed by many solons as it became a famous cause of debate because Sangguaniang Kabataan structure is said to be protecting political families.  The SK Reform Law is said to be the first enabling law of Article II, section 26 of the constitution particularly on the prohibition of the political dynasty.  Political dynasty is still undefined by the law.
Under the rules of statutory construction, it is not the letter but rather the spirit of the law and intention of the Legislature that is important and which matters. 
During the deliberation of the Constitutional Commission on political dynasty, the commission discussed on how this to be constitutionally accorded.  In the deliberation what has been contemplated as a political dynasty is not a prohibition to run by reason of birth lineage.  What was contemplated during the deliberation is the regulation of political dynasty through term limit.  The provision on political dynasties was proposed by Commissioner Jose Nolledo. In part, I quote the commissioner “I believe,… that this prohibition is not actually prohibitory but only regulatory”. I am talking of this in terms of the scope of the term ‘political dynasty’ by saying that a prohibition against political dynasty, is designed to avoid circumvention of the provision limiting reelection of  public officers to give a chance to others in running for public office. I would like to be specific...” It is clear in the statement of the commissioner that the prohibition on political dynasty is not absolute.  It simply pertains on regulating the number of terms which one may stay in public service by reelection.   
Further on the deliberation, Commissioner Blas Ople also suggested that the word “dynasty” was probably being misapplied to distinguished political families.  He further contends that if the right of suffrage should not be abridged so should the right to be voted upon as it is derived from the same concept of the right of suffrage. 
Article 5 section 1 of our constitution states in part that, No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage. Applying statutory construction substantive requirement would include those that are non-discriminatory such as those enumerated under section 2 of the international covenant on civil and political rights - such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
I quote from a supreme court decision, “A similar idea appeared in our jurisprudence as early as 1969, which was Justice Barredo’s concurring and dissenting opinion in Gonzales v. COMELEC: I like to reiterate over and over, for it seems this is the fundamental point others miss, that genuine democracy thrives only where the power and right of the people to elect the men to whom they would entrust the privilege to run the affairs of the state exist. In the language of the declaration of principles of our Constitution, "The Philippines is a republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them" (Section 1, Article II). Translating this declaration into actuality, the Philippines is a republic because and solely because the people in it can be governed only by officials whom they themselves have placed in office by their votes.’  Limiting their option who to vote is a violation of this right.
In a petition recently filed before the Supreme Court, such petition was denied for reason that the said article is non-executing and needs enabling law for it to become justiciable.  Clearly, there are still no laws passed to regulate the intricacies of political dynasty.  It was only said that it is in the SK reform law that a glimpse of the anti-dynasty law is included, which is clearly a violation of equal rights.  The anti-dynasty law is only embodied in the SK reform law, but not yet in other laws governing the election of the ‘adults’.  What is the difference when the youth runs for elective position and an adult runs for an elective position? Why would the ‘anti-dynasty provision is only being prohibited in the SK reform law and not on the Local Government Code of 1991 from where the SK Law stemmed? This is an evident violation of the equal protection clause of the constitution and limiting equal access to opportunity to public service.
In the present political set-up it is apparent that the term dynasty is being interrelated into a negative thing that paralyzes democracy.  But history would tell us that political dynasty is actually a means of stabilization.  The etymology of the term dynasty originates from Greek terms related to the term “dynamic”— the Greek terms are dunamis, which means strength.  From this come the verb dunasthai (to be strong or to be able) and the noun dunasteia, meaning domination, the source of the English word “dynasty.” And the term domination is synonymous with the term Sovereignty.  Hence, history would tell us that dynasty is a good political thing if under a good political set-up.  Therefore it is not political dynasty that causes the anomalies in the government; instead it is the effect of lax governance.  It is not the effect that we have to curtail just so to have the solution to the cause.  
Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides, ‘Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions: 
(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; 
(b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors; 
(c) To have access, on general terms of equality to public service in his country
Article 2 of this covenant states, “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Further, “the Human Rights Committee has noted that with regard to the implementation of the equal right and opportunity to stand for public office, which ensures that electors have a free choice of candidates, any restrictions on the right to stand for election, such as minimum age, must be justifiable on objective and reasonable criteria” Positive measures must be taken by States to ensure that the criteria for candidacy are reasonable and non-discriminatory. Discrimination against eligible candidates for public office on grounds such as education, residence or descent or political affiliation is prohibited”.  
To this covenant, the Philippine state is a signatory.  
The prohibition on political dynasty is not absolute. The SK reform law inserted a qualification clause that prohibits a son or a daughter whose father or mother or any relative in the 2nd degree to run in the SK election.  This clause does not only violate equal access to opportunity to public service but also to the equal protection clause enshrine in the constitution.  Thus the SK reformed law is clearly unconstitutional.


My personal emotions on the ‘Mamasapano Massacre’ Part 2

A year ago I blogged about my personal views and emotions about the death of the 44SAF commandos after having an encounter.

Today, 5 days after the death anniversaries of the fallen heroes, I would want to comment on the reopening of the committee hearing of the senate about it.  There have been many who wanted to speak up and become a witness against the government – the president in particular being the ‘person in command’.  These witnesses said that they have new evidence that will point to the broken chain of command and the inutile discharge of it. I wonder why it took one year – exactly one year for them to have known that new facts which as they say will serve justice?

One politician said that he was with the president and with the former DILG secretary at those times when they (the president and the executives) downplayed the issue thus failed to order for a rescue. The politician said that if only, the president had been smarter and prompt, the fallen heroes could had been rescued.  Another one said that a video tape is in possession containing a conversation downplaying the issue just to save the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the root of it the peace process.

I cannot understand why only now -  if only these self-proclaimed credible witnesses had spoken their piece a year ago, then maybe, just maybe the public especially the family is enlightened of the facts of the case and the legislative is well-aided in the legislation process.

I completely understand confidentiality, as what these witnesses were claiming – they are bound in confidentiality - between confidentiality and justice which one should prevail?

I know nobody wants this tragic massacre to happen, but all I pray is that, this matter is a justiciable one – justice is quest for – and this is not a political issue that politicians will take advantage of to be in the limelight and be the star ‘witness’.


My journey after resigning from my 7-year employment :)

When I first thought of resigning from a job that promises tenure and security, it was quite hard, unimaginable and scary. It took me a year to finally be convinced that the world is abundant and generously endows abundance to those who ask, work and believe that they can have – and so I resigned.


The day after I resigned was like the day after my college graduation. It was like reliving that day when I am favored with sleep and more hours of sleep.

It was a stress-free day, again favored with sleep and more time to do other things but at night I felt a tinge of nostalgia.

I start missing those I worked with for the last seven (7) years of my life. But I cannot deny to also feel excited in meeting new people I will work with in the next days.

I met my new workmates.

I get interested with the new world I am in – the new people, the new learning, the challenge and the new me!

Day6 and the days thereafter is part of the history

And now, I am living and liking the new me.  I had seen more of the world, grounded on what the reality. I had seen the wider scheme of things – the greater scheme of things as the pilgrim’s theme goes.

The clouds move, the sun rises and sets, the moon’s up and the moon is asleep again – it is still the same world with a different view, using a different lens - not the myopic lens I used to have but the ones that sees wider scope.

My everyday experiences assure me that nothing is there to be afraid of.  Just learn to be open, to be good, to be happy, just learn to believe.


I am indeed special!

You never fail me, my God
I have failed You many times
Yet You continue to never fail me
The more I fail You,
all the more that You never fail me.

I must be that special!

I sinned many times
You blessed me double than the many times
My sins are plenty
But Your blessings are many than plenty.

I almost always forget to praise Your goodness
You almost always forget that I forget.
Oftentimes I choose the world
But all the times You choose me.

 I am that  special!

Mostly I  acted bad, decided bad
And usually, I treat others badly
But You, You are good to me all the time
All the time to me my God, You are good!

I am that special indeed!


My personal emotions on the ‘Mamasapano Massacre’

It was sad how all things happened to a heroic mission that was supposed to be accomplished by the Special Action Force Commandos.  How sad that they were killed and overkilled by the combatants of the other party.  And how enraging that they were killed in a way that almost stripped them with their dignity.

Such encounter can never be called a mere ‘self-defense’ or ‘misencouter’.  They were gunned down with the intention to decimate them.  For if it was only a mere self-defense, one shot is enough for each of them to make them harmless. 

This event greatly impact the peace process in Mindanao.  I hope the government will think over about the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) - review the provisions that may only lead to similar violence especially that the law provides for the power of a Bangsamoro police.  Although, this police will still be under the structure of the Philippine National Police but no guarantee of no abuse of power.  The Peace Process is a wonderful gift for the Mindanaoans.  But if the government will not be firm and demand for the dissolution of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) troops and submit their guns then, this BBL may just turn to become a scourge for the Mindanaoans. 

In 1989, the Organic Act was enacted into law that created for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).  Several other acts thereafter were created for the expansion of it.  At first, it was a good result of the peace process with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).  In 2009, two decades and a year after ARMM was established, the Maguindanao Massacre that brutally killed media men and civilians happened.  The evidences pointed the responsibility to this gruesome execution to the private armies of the most influential and powerful dynasty in ARMM.  The brutality of the deaths of the victims was a substantiation of abuse of power and ownership of high calibre weaponries.  This happened just after two decades and a year.

In 2012, President Aquino first announced the creation of a Bangsamoro with the hopes of igniting the peace process once again.  The peace negotiations are not yet over but the incident in the Mamasapano, Maguindano is already an indication of possibilities of more abuse of power once the BBL be enacted into law. 

 My emotions towards this incident are mostly anchored on questions – How can we still trust when even prior to the completion of the peace process there is already the breach of it?  It was said that the reason why SAF commandos entered Mamasapano is to pursue international terrorists.  How come that these terrorists are within the premises of an area where majority of the residents are either MILF or BIFF?  Is it just a mere coincidence?
It was said that MILF is sincere with the furtherance of the peace process.  In their sincerity to pursue peace, would they also be willing to surrender all their camps, weaponries and commandos? I hope the government will firmly demand for the surrender of their armaments before the enactment of the BBL.

I pray for the repose of the souls of the SAF commandos.  I pray that the bereaved families will have the courage to move on.  I pray that justice will be served without delay.  I pray that the government will have the political will to fight for what is just for the overkilled commandos.  I pray for peace in Mindanao.  I pray for the country, may God bless Philippines.

Read on...

Read on...