15 January 2012

Ipagtanggol ang Korte Suprema!

PINANININDIGAN namin ang PANTAY-PANTAY na pangangasiwa ng batas.

SUMASALUNGAT kami sa di-makatwirang pangangasiwa ng isang tao lamang.

PINANININDIGAN namin ang paghihiwalay ng mga pulitikal at hindi-pulitikal na sangay ng pamahalaan.

SUMASALUNGAT kami sa diktaturyal na pamamahala ng lahat ng sangay ng pamahalaan.

PINANININDIGAN namin ang DEMOKRASYA na gumagalang sa kapangyarihan ng mamamayan.

SUMASALUNGAT kami sa oligarkiya na nagbibigay kapangyarihan lamang sa iilang pinili ang sarili.

Kami ang TANGGULANG DEMOKRASYA (TANDEM), na tagapagtaguyod ng demokrasya at mamamayan ng Republika!

ITINATAKWIL namin ang lumilitaw na kalakaran ng pagsalakay ng pamahalaan laban sa mga institusyong panlipunan na bumibigkis sa ating bansa at sa demokrasya.

ITINATAKWIL namin ang walang basehang pagsalakay laban sa Simbahan sa ilalim ng slogan na "Pajero Bishops". Alam na natin ngayon na wala palang Pajero, puro mga 4x4 lamang na ginamit sa lubak-lubak na daan sa kanayunan upang maghatid ng tulong sa mga mahihirap. Ngunit para sa kasalukuyang administrasyon, ang katotohanan ay hindi mahalaga. Ang talagang layon ay hiyain at wasakin ang kredibilidad ng Simbahan.

ITINATAKWIL namin ang walang basehang pagsalakay laban sa Hukbong Sandatahan sa ilalim ng slogan na "Pabaon Generals." Alam na natin ngayon na matagal na palang naimbestigahan ang anomalyang yaon, at pinaharap na sa paglilitis ang mga salarin. Ngunit, tulad ng nasabi na nga, para sa administrasyong ito, hindi mahalaga ang katotohanan. Ang talagang layon ay hiyain at wasakin ang kredibilidad ng Hukbong Sandatahan.

At ngayon, ITINATAKWIL namin ang malakidlat sa tulin ng impeachment ni Chief Justice Renato Corona, na mabilis na ginawa pagkaraang magbigay ng desisyon ang Korte Suprema na ang Hacienda Luisita ay ipapasa-ilalim sa Agrarian Reform.

Napakalungkot ng katotohanan na kapag pumanig ka sa mga magsasaka, babansagan ka ng ngayo’y nangingibabaw na mass media na isang demonyo. Kung kumiling ka naman sa mga hasyendero, isasalarawan ka ng ngayo’y nangingibabaw na mass media na isang santo.

Bilang mga tagapagtaguyod ng demokrasya at mga mamamayan ng Republika, iginigiit namin na walang karapatan si Pangulong Noynoy Aquino o ang kanyang 201 na Congressman na ihagis ang unang bato. Dapat muna nilang panagutan sa sambayanan at sa hukuman ang pandarambong at paglabag sa karapatang pantao ng kanilang kamag-anak, kapamilya at kabarkada bago nila isalarawan ang kanilang mga sarili na mga walang bahid ng kasalanan at bansagang mga demonyo ang sumasalungat sa kanila.

Nananawagan kami sa mga mamamayan ng ating pinagpipitaganang bansa na magsibangon upang labanan ang napipintong diktadura ng oligarkiya ng mga hasyendero.

Nananawagan kami sa buong sambayanan na ipagtanggol at saklolohan ang kinukubkob na Korte Suprema, ang huling tanggulan ng ating demokrasya!

Ika-16 ng Enero 2012

12 January 2012

How they fool people with polls

By: Rigoberto Tiglao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:55 am | Thursday, January 12th, 2012

President Aquino’s camp has been adept in manipulating media and polls to manufacture a counterfeit public opinion, and then claim it as “people’s wisdom.” MalacaƱang spokesmen even cavalierly justify former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s anomalous arrest and the assault on the Supreme Court on grounds that “public opinion” supports these moves.

Opinion surveys are legitimate research tools. To mystify their findings though as “the voice of the people” and base our moral compass and our sense of justice and fairness on poll findings is utter inanity or crass populism.

Such polls quantify people’s current views on issues, or on consumer products.  But people do not get their ideas about issues from thin air, as European scholars like Jurgen Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu have expounded.  In modern mass society, especially one where poverty bars the majority from getting accurate information and even having the intellectual tools for rational evaluation of an issue, most people get their ideas on issues almost solely from media.

If media for some reason are biased and incessantly scream allegations that a particular government official is corrupt on their front pages—with his rebuttals buried in a few sentences somewhere—people cannot but perceive that that official is corrupt.  If the press consistently reports that “X” is the case, even if it is false, the majority of respondents in an opinion poll will perceive “X” as true. How can they not, if media are their sole source of information?

The horrendous consequences of misunderstanding opinion polls have been demonstrated.  Because US media was uncritical of the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” 80 percent of Americans polled believed these, giving the green light to the American invasion of that oil rich country in 2003.  No WMDs were found.  By 2005, 60 percent opposed the war.

Case 1: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Most Corrupt Institution—Pulse Asia.”  The AFP in opinion polls before was never perceived to be among the country’s most corrupt institutions. It was usually the police, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Bureau of Customs.  In March 2011 though, respondents in a Pulse Asia poll reported it as the most corrupt institution.

Why? The survey was taken during the Senate’s televised investigations on alleged AFP corruption, which hogged the headlines for many days.  Respondents naturally replied that it was the most corrupt institution, even if the allegations were about anomalies five years earlier and even if the AFP had already overhauled its system to prevent corruption.

This trick of using polls by President Aquino’s propagandists involves the following steps. First, publicize an allegation by a cooperative journalist or by an ally in Congress, ideally have investigations by Congress, and have a subservient press run these as banner stories for days, with “outraged” opinion writers rousing people’s passions. Second, undertake a poll on the issue, when people have just been barraged in the press by the allegations.  Voila! The poll findings that so and so is corrupt, the result of the press barrage in step one, are proclaimed as “public opinion.” Third step: Publicize the poll widely, so that the bandwagon effect comes into play.

Case 2: “President Arroyo, the most corrupt president—Pulse Asia.” Of course the majority in that poll picked Arroyo as the most corrupt president! The poll was made from Oct. 26 to 31, 2007, when people were barraged with front-page news every day of allegations—even today unproven—of bribes given to local officials by Arroyo and the NBN-ZTE controversy.  But most respondents weren’t even born or adults yet during the Marcos regime. Pulse Asia in effect demanded the respondents to quickly retrieve from their memory all the cases of corruption for each of the five presidents, such as Marcos’ Swiss bank accounts or Estrada’s P2 billion ill-gotten bank deposits. It was indisputably a loaded survey, intended for political propaganda, which no ethical, professional pollster would have undertaken.

But Pulse Asia was bankrolled and run at that time by Mr. Aquino’s cousins, Antonio Cojuangco and Rapa Cojuangco Lopa. Rabid anti-Arroyo Sen. Sergio Osmena Jr. financed this particular poll.  With this unscrupulous poll, anti-Arroyo politicians, unthinking journalists, and even sloppy academics would routinely state that she was the most corrupt Philippine president. (An aside on opinion polls’ “truth”: Surveys during Harry Truman’s term made him the most unpopular US president, although historians now see him as among America’s five best presidents.)

Case 3:  “Ombudsman Merci Guiterrez, the most unpopular official—Pulse Asia.”  While the media were in a frenzy from February to March last year against the former ombudsman, Pulse Asia undertook its poll, and naturally Gutierrez came out as the most unpopular government official at that time, thereby egging on the political hyenas in Congress to gang up on her.

Case 4:  “Corona the least trusted official —Pulse Asia.”   Mr. Aquino’s operatives are now onto their old trick.  As media incessantly blast Chief Justice Renato Corona, Pulse Asia undertakes its opinion survey and, naturally he comes out as “the least trusted official”—and therefore, the “people will decide” to take him out.

The Supreme Court and its Chief Justice for decades have had the highest trust ratings. That changed when a well-funded demolition job was launched against them starting 2010 (starting with the plagiarism issue), initially very covertly by an associate justice lusting to be chief justice, and then by the President himself, furious over the Court’s decision that will wrench Hacienda Luisita from his clan’s clutches.

E-mail:  tiglao.inquirer@gmail.com

06 January 2012

Media Impunity

FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa
(The Philippine Star)
Updated January 07, 2012 12:00 AM

The UST has denied allegations that it bent its rules to give Chief Justice Corona a Doctor of Laws degree. It came out as the headline of Inquirer, the self-proclaimed top newspaper in the country.

This is not the first time that the newspaper banners a clearly partisan and inaccurate news story.

“There is no truth to the allegation that the University of Santo Tomas broke its rules to favor Chief Justice Renato Corona who graduated with the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University,” the UST replied. Corona “enrolled in all requisite subjects for the doctorate and complied with academic requirements, including delivering a ‘scholarly treatise’ for his dissertation in a public lecture.”

The false accusations come from Rappler.Com a newly launched website. (It doesn’t look like a very auspicious start). It was written by Marites Lopez-Vitug, a well known investigative reporter. The key words that allowed the Inquirer to publish the story are the words “may have”. Vitug said that UST “may have broken its rules” in granting Corona a doctorate in civil law and qualifying him for honors. Without verifying their story or at least getting the side of UST, it ran to the safety of probability. Vitug writes that “UST did not reply to questions.”

So why make headlines out of it? We already know the position of the Inquirer with regard to the Corona impeachment. If you rely on media to be informed then I am afraid you are as much a victim of this biased journalism. Shoot first before you ask. The distinction between opinion and news is once again blurred. The headline on Corona purports to be news.

One can understand slips in editorial discretion but if the newspaper concerned makes a habit of it then something is terribly wrong. If we let it go at that, then we would be remiss in our duty as journalists. Their cause of fighting against impunity in government becomes a farce.

*      *      *

Perhaps one of the most memorable slips like the Corona story was the Inquirer headline on Ed Manalac, PNOC president. It was announced in a headline that he was Senator Ping Lacson’s secret witness in the NBN-ZTE hearing. There was absolutely no truth to the story, Manalac told Inquirer. “How can I be the secret witness when I do not even know Senator Lacson much less talked to him in any form, shape or manner. It was clearly an invented story.

He was so incensed that Inquirer had to deny their own story. Granted that they were unsure of the story why did they make it into a headline?

Immediately after the false headline, Inquirer promised an investigation into how it happened. In ANC’s program Media Focus, Isagani Yambot, publisher of Inquirer repeated the promise and said that the investigation will be made public. Solita Monsod, Inquirer columnist was also in the panel. During the discussion, Monsod said that should satisfy critics since it is now being investigated and the results to be released to the public. What else do we want? So far no release has been made.

In the talk show, Yambot, when a panelist asked the source of the story replied the story came from a public relations firm that they trust and did not have any reason to doubt the story. This was heard by thousands of television watchers. Their stories were usually reliable added Yambot. Is it so difficult to name this public relations firm? If this is true then it will tell us the raison d’tre of Inquirer’s editorial policy.

However, the editorial board did meet, Yambot said. It was a collegial decision. There may have been disagreement about the story and whether or not it should be the banner story. The editor overruled the objections and got the story printed as a headline.

The Manalac case is worth recalling because it has happened again this time with the UST-Corona story. Sources said Manalac’s case was more than just irresponsible journalism. It had more to do with his role in the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU), an agreement among the PNOC, China National Offshore Oil Co., and PetroVietnam to jointly gather seismic data in some areas of South China Sea. That makes him a target for geopolitical intrigues. These are then made out to be merely local politics to hide its true intent. Once again the NBN-ZTE issue is being resurrected, but today Manalac is out of it.

His answer to those who would tar the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) is straightforward. He justifies the JMSU as an “integral part” of the government’s energy independence agenda “to find and develop new indigenous petroleum reserves as a hedge against our country’s high dependence on imported petroleum, and the concurrent rise in the prices of oil.” It was part of a strategic alliance to promote regional energy security and to lessen dependence on imported oil.

*      *      *

Mag-ingat sa tv, radyo at dyaryo

“Mag-ingat sa tv, radyo at dyaryo, baka masuklam ka sa mga ina-api, at mapamahal sa mga nang-aapi.” Restatement ng salita ni Malcolm X

01 January 2012

Q&A on the Aquino administration

The Manila Times
Published : Wednesday, December 28, 2011 00:00
Written by : EFREN L. DANAO

Q: What are the biggest achievements of the Aquino administration?

A: The detention of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Q: Explain the reason for such choice

A: The President had said that GMA would be in prison by December, and he is a man of his word. He has also relentlessly pursued the impeachment of CJ Corona and got the wholesale cooperation of 188 congressmen, most of whom signed the Articles of Impeachment without reading them. These two achievements are roundly approved by the people, based on surveys by the Social Weather Stations and so they enhanced the President’s popularity.

Q: How has the President progressed in his fight against corruption?

A: The President considers the arrest of GMA the crown jewel of his fight against corruption. He also deems CJ Corona the main stumbling block to his war against corruption. Once CJ Corona is found guilty by the Senate, you may expect the fight against corruption to gain much headway.

The administration has also ordered a slowdown in spending despite budget authorization to lessen corruption and budget deficit. Public works are among the main causes of corruption. The fewer the public works projects launched, the fewer the incidence of corruption.

Q: Jueteng and drugs are still rampant. Jueteng and drugs are said to be the root causes of corruption. Do GMA and CJ Corona have anything to do with these?

A: None, but the Aquino administration can focus only on one thing at a time. Once he is through with his two top enemies, he can concentrate on the lesser enemies like illegal numbers game and illegal drugs.

Q: During the campaign, the President correctly said that Filipinos should not be working abroad, and criticized the economy’s reliance on remittances from OFWs. What has he done to ensure the employment of OFWs who decide to return?

A: None. He said he wanted them to work here but did not say he would give them work. This might come later. In the meantime, the Philippine economy remains reliant on remittances of OFWs.

Q: The President showed he would not countenance incompetence among public servants when he fired the chief of PAG-ASA for not correctly predicting the path of a disastrous typhoon. Why hasn’t he fired PAG-ASA officials who also were off-mark in their predictions, and the bumbling DILG officials involved in the Luneta hostage fiasco?

A: Malacanang said the time for finger-pointing is over. What’s more, those DILG officials are his appointees. And why should he fire his appointees? They could not do wrong. And if they do something wrong, why, keep them off the public radar to keep the outcry for their heads from boiling over.

Q: The President said “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Surveys showed there are now more poor and hungry people than in the GMA administration. Does this mean corruption has increased under the Aquino administration?

A: No, not at all! Poverty has increased because of the worldwide recession and not because of mis-steps by the current administration in its drive against corruption. In fact, it has ordered the arrest of GMA and the impeachment of CJ Corona.

Q: What has the administration done to reduce poverty?

A: It has increased the number of recipients of its Conditional Cash Transfer program. This is the main cog of the administration’s strategy to minimize poverty. The more people receiving government dole-outs, the fewer remain poor.

Q: The Philippine economy is falling. In fact it did better under the much-maligned GMA administration. What has the Aquino administration done to improve the situation?

A: It has ordered the arrest of GMA and the impeachment of CJ Corona.

Q: Isn’t that begging the question?

A: Well, the administration has been trying to keep itself from discussing the economy. At the forum organized by Makati businessmen, President talked not about the economy but about the stumbling blocks posed by CJ Corona and the Supreme Court.

Q: Why should it be afraid to discuss the economy?

A: The people have not been complaining about the economy anyway. So, why should the administration talk about something where it would be placed on the defensive? What’s more, any discussion of the issue might make the people realize that they are now worse off despite the detention of GMA and the impeachment of CJ Corona.

Q: What will happen in the coming year?

A: The administration will continue to harp on the arrest of GMA and the impeachment of CJ Corona until year-end. It could even wage a “shame” campaign” to force CJ Corona to resign without undergoing impeachment trial. Then, it could put a cap to its glorious campaign against corruption in government and win big in the May 2013 election.