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Gaslighting the Filipino

Gaslight is George Cukor’s classic 1944 film where Charles Boyer’s character, by a series of subtle manipulations and outright deceptions, tries to make his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, believe she’s insane.

Lockdown’s ever changing moods

Or rather, moving goalposts. Normally those resorting to it do so because their cause is weak. Or with regard to important issues, a losing argument. Thus, environmental activists went from preventing pollution to preventing depleting resources to preventing global warming to preventing climate change. Or abortionists, contraceptives, euthanasia activists going from eugenics to population control to “compassion” to being a “choice.”

The world’s biggest case of Stockholm syndrome

In 1973, a year after Martial Law was declared in the Philippines, Jan-Erik Olsson bungled a robbery at the Kreditbanken bank in Stockholm, Sweden. He thereafter took four hostages, until the Swedish police subdued him six days later.

Open schools and have kids in the classrooms

I ronically, last month’s Senate inquiry regarding the country’s preparedness to shift to online learning was perhaps best answered by this fact: the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Deputy Commissioner being unable to testify due reportedly to “technical issues.”

Enough with the lockdown. Time to get our country running again

Perhaps the summer heat is beginning to fry people’s brains. Take a family living in the same house. They drive to a restaurant using the same car. Yet when they arrive are made to sit in different tables.

What is the legal basis of the lockdown?

Today should mark the 110th day of many parts of our country being under some form of lockdown. And yet the primary law that was supposed to empower the government to issue measures to address the pandemic supposedly expired on June 25, 2020. Which poses the question: under what authority are the continued lockdowns made?

‘Better Normal’ is just totalitarianism. Say no to it

“Gaslighting” means trying to manipulate a person, arranging circumstances, such that the latter begins to question his or her own sanity, self-esteem, judgment, and memory. The purpose, at least politically, is to establish control over people.

We must reject the ‘new or better normal’

Author Helen Andrews once recounted this great story about former US Secretary of State George Schultz. While visiting Beijing in the 1980s, serious concerns were raised about the Chinese bugging US offices. The CIA recommended using “hush phones,” which were essentially masks connected by a wire running down to another mask. The idea was for those needing to converse to put on those masks while talking. Secretary Schultz looked at the masks and flat-out refused to put them on. His reason?”I am a grown man, and I have some dignity.”

Pandemic degrees of separation

Alienation may have begun as early as the Walkman. That portable cassette player of the 1980s freed teens from being stuck beside their parents’ radios. Now, the music moved with them. With school bags stocked with cassettes, favorite songs could be played whenever, wherever, desired and even repeatedly, albeit with a bit of rewind time wait. And just like that, the days of godlike DJs were numbered.

Blinded with science but failed in economics?

“Follow the science” goes the mantra of anyone insisting that locking otherwise healthy people up is a good idea. The problem is, what science are they talking about?

Thoughts in a triple lockdown

Here are five facts: 1.) the overwhelming majority of people do not have any significant risk of dying from COVID-19; 2.) we have a clearly defined population at risk who can be protected with targeted measures: older people and others with underlying conditions; 3.) protecting older, at-risk people eliminates hospital overcrowding; 4.) vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem; and, 5.) people are dying because other medical care is not getting done due to hypothetical projections.

No easy days

There’s this memorable scene in Escape to Victory where Pele’s character needed to leave the pitch due to a brutal tackle. Rather than substitute him, with the team down four-nil, the coach (played by Michael Caine) decided to play with only 10 men. Hearing this, one of Pele’s teammates muttered wryly: “This isn’t going to be easy.”

Making China pay

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began the week with a blast: “There’s enormous evidence that... the virus originated in Wuhan, China.” His comments followed weeks of strident demands from many other countries -- from Australia to the UK to Germany and Japan -- for the totalitarian regime to open up regarding the events that led to this pandemic.

Democracy versus the coronavirus

Want to know why many areas in the Philippines have been in lockdown for more than 45 days now, nearly 8,000 Filipinos have been infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 with more than 530 dead, the economy damaged, many facing unemployment or bankruptcies, the education of our youth made uncertain?

The Philippines: Not ready for federalism

A glaring thing this pandemic exposed is that not many actually understand federalism. And this is so even among those advocating for federalism here in the Philippines.

When science and experts go wrong

Thirteen Days, a film about the Cuban missile crisis, is quite instructional regarding decision-making in government. Faced with the possibility of mass human extermination by a possible World War III, US President John Kennedy had to carefully weigh options as presented by the various experts.

Duterte and prudential judgment

The thing is: absolutely no one really knows where we are and what’s going to happen as far as this pandemic is concerned. There’s data available but even numbers by themselves can’t give the exact picture. Also, subtle differences in context can lead to hugely different implications.

China coronavirus killed federalism

If anything, this China coronavirus-induced crisis spectacularly revealed the unworkability and shortcomings of a federal form of government for the Philippines. When push came to shove, the instincts of even the most ardent federalism supporters almost immediately were for the National Government to take control of the situation.

Police power in the time of coronavirus

The issue is power. And the one under national scrutiny the past week has been this government’s use of that power in issuing its “enhanced community quarantine” measure to control the spread of the China-originating coronavirus.

Creating a Commission on Unalienable Rights

Mid-2019 saw the creation of the US State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights, tasked with providing “advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters. The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.” Frankly, it’s an idea whose time has come.

Growing old sucks

Actually, the title should have been “growing old sucks ass.” But I flaked out. A sign perhaps that I am not hopelessly old yet, as apparently bits of filter still linger in my head. But, like Ricky Gervais, sometimes I just don’t care anymore.

Don’t believe them: getting old is horrible

Don’t believe what they say: 50 is not the new 40. Fifty is just 50. It sucks. Sucky. Just downright pure suckage.

Of treaties, the VFA, and presidential power

The Visiting Forces Agreement is one issue apparently that won’t go away quietly. News is that the Senate may file a Supreme Court case questioning President Duterte’s unilateral termination of it. In any event, certain interesting issues have cropped up, which readers may want clarification.

When love was seductive

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, this year, it fell on a Friday, which by some sad coincidence is also payday. Hopefully, Carmaggedon won’t rear its ugly head.

What makes law students special

Of the troubles besetting legal education today, the growing self-centeredness of many law students is most wearisome. The puffed self-conception of being superior to other students, with problems and studies so hard they’re entitled to special status, is not only annoying but problematic. It poses a profound obstacle not only to legal education but also to the legal profession’s development itself.

Why are we really withdrawing from the VFA?

It’s a bit baffling when you think about it. By this is meant the 1998 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which the present Administration is stridently threatening to terminate. But how would walking away from that Agreement (actually two Agreements, the so-called VFA 1 and VFA 2 -- the counterpart agreement) benefit the Philippines, even as a bargaining chip, is quite unclear.

Legal education and judicial restraint

One thing certainly needing removal should changes in the Constitution again come up is the “grave abuse of discretion” review powers of the Supreme Court.

A president of lesser violence

Vociferous doubts continue regarding the legality of the US’ drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The crucial factor remains the unknown facts, over which hinges the applicable law and its implications.

A legal killing

It was the shot heard around the world. Declared more significant than the deaths of Osama Bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. So -- perhaps predictably -- questions were raised regarding the legality of Qasem Soleimani’s killing.

‘A republic if you can keep it’

As with the Philippines, a republican democracy essentially keeps the passing passions and dominance of the majority in check by adhering to certain principles, the upholding of inherent individual rights, and the principle of checks and balances.


Perhaps ghosts do exist. Perhaps the question we should really be asking is: what exists?


“Thank God for a man who makes up his mind,” said M once to James Bond. But perhaps the novel, Moonraker, was written at a time when men were men.

To impeach or remove: How to get rid of a public...

Impeachment and removal are the words of the day. Blame it on the Democrat’s insane inability to accept Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 elections. Yet despite being a popular social media topic, impeachment is a concept least understood by many.

The Philippines gets its independent economic policy

The bicycle theory of trade dictates that international trade keep moving lest it topple and fall. This unfortunately resulted in some sectors increasing the drama at every economic development, from each new WTO Ministerial meeting or media’s gleefully grim reporting of the US-China trade war.

Congress versus the killer armchairs

Perhaps Congress doesn’t realize it, but although it’s constitutionally vested with legislative power, it doesn’t mean it must make laws if none are needed. The Constitution requires no quota as to the number of laws made. And sometimes legislative power is actually best exercised by not making a law at all.

Democracy and the Philippines: a defense

Filipinos must be wary of those who proclaim that democracy is bad for the country and of those who insist that we adopt the authoritarianism or totalitarianism of other countries.

Parents please: hold the line against student activism

Because someone has to. And, no, not that anyone is afraid of student activists. Afraid for them, more likely. And therein lies a huge difference, which many parents now are rightly starting to assert.

Let’s have a Religious Freedom Protection Act now

It seems bizarre to need to say it but bizarre seems to be the norm nowadays. Anyway, here it is: religious freedom is a fundamental constitutionally protected right.

Let’s not SOGIE the military

Lost within the frenzy of emotional arguments surrounding the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) bills (HBs 134/136 and SBs 159/412/689) is the fact that a valuable sector of our society has been kept silent. Not much heard regarding its obviously important opinions, views, experiences, and insights as to the propriety (or absence of it) of the proposed legislation.

Never a good time for SOGIE

The problem with all the discussions surrounding the sexual orientation and gender identity legislative proposals are many. But it’s on the fundamental grounds that the flaws are truly significant.

Republic v. Sandiganbayan revisited: Of human rights and natural law

A fair amount of complicated issues exist regarding the nature of judicial power and rights. This is illustrative of the dangers brought about by the injudicious, imprudent, and impulsive liberal progressive habit of tinkering with the tried and true. Judicial power is essentially the ability to rule over cases and determine compliance with procedural due process. Unfortunately, this has evolved into -- unchecked for decades -- the power to decide upon matters better left to the judgment of the elected branches of government.

A legal education at cross purposes

Just guessing: there are probably between 16,000 to 20,000 students that annually want to enter law school. That’s before the PhilSat (Philippine Law School Admission Test). The PhilSat in 2018 cut that down to roughly 10,000 to 12,000.

Either learn mere marches now or prepare to hold a gun...

It was John Adams who said that “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

‘First thing we do,’ let’s have better lawyers

Probably the invitation got lost in the mail. Or likely the dog ate it. Anyway, not having received an invitation to the Legal Education Summit held last Wednesday and Thursday, I’ve sadly no concrete idea regarding its outcome. Nevertheless, were I there, the following would have been -- just some -- of my suggestions.

Enough with the penumbras! Let the enduring Constitution prevail

Perhaps the worst thing an aspiring lawyer learns in law school is the idea that the law is “what the judge says it to be.” It’s cynical, yes, but arguably (in the present day) likely even true. Such is justified under “The Living Constitution” theory, beloved of many a “progressive” law faculty. But such is wrong. It violates the Constitution and -- worse -- is inherently undemocratic.