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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.

Ghosts

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

Charot!

“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.

No safe spaces

Congress, whose job is to make laws, should familiarize itself with the law of unintended consequences: an act causing outcomes unforeseeable or unpredicted. This is natural, particularly in a world populated by human beings. But unfortunately, President Rodrigo Duterte may have inadvertently signed a law of profound negative consequence for the country. That law is Republic Act No. 11313, An Act Defining Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Streets, Public Spaces, Online, Workplaces, and Educational or Training Institutions, Providing Protective Measures and Prescribing Penalties Therefor, or the “Safe Spaces Act.”

China’s many lawyers

Vividly and fondly remembered is former Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano who, years ago, long after he stepped down from the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body, met with some government trade officials regarding alleged Philippine discriminatory treatment of some imported goods. A lady official pontificated about the “unfortunate” Philippine “discrimination.”

China and the troubled waters

Someone once said that foreign relations is merely the extension of domestic policy. Thus anybody familiar with the state of our local politics would not be surprised at how we conduct ourselves on the global stage.

Pipe down: the beauty of true light

Albert Einstein once said “pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgement in all human affairs.” Famous pipe smokers abound: aside from Einstein, there’s General Douglas MacArthur, Humphrey Bogart, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien.

Teaching love

The problem here is not the failure to communicate but the refusal to communicate. There are many good reasons to uphold that there is a male-female distinction, that gender is synced with sex, and that marriage is between one man and one woman. Yet those reasons are not being heard.

The hubris of liberal progressive ‘education’

In essence, to be simple about it: we know that human nature has worked this way for millennia, we know that human experience showed us the limitations of human intellect and comprehension, that our beings come with certain flaws and restrictions.

Yes to civil unions. But for all

A disappointing aspect of the ongoing national conversation on same-sex “marriage” is the propensity of some sectors, mostly liberal progressives, to use hateful or hostile language on anyone contradicting them.

Love’s wrong premises

Perhaps Naomi Wolf, the liberal progressive feminist writer, symbolizes it best.

The Philippines at war

In the area of governance, none perhaps seems more important than the State’s survival. And the matter of survival becomes more imperative when the country is dragged into war. The question is, how does our government -- regardless of the administration in power -- respond institutionally in the case of armed conflict?

The May elections, democracy, and the biggest losers

It’s really difficult to provide a brief coherent set of reflections on the essence of what happened in the recent elections. There’s an intuition that what just took place constitutes a watershed in Philippine history.

Trade protections under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act

With news of possible escalation of trade hostilities between the US and China, it would be good to look at possible trade processes and remedies that can be resorted to by the Philippines in case the conflict creeps into our economy.

May Day and the march of the machines

What should be utopia could become dystopian.

Jesus under a pink moon

The Fallacy of relative privation (sometimes known as “appeal to worse problems”) is the tact of dismissing an argument or position by declaring there are graver or more important problems elsewhere. This statement is made regardless of whether those problems bear relevance to the actual argument or position first made.

Anatomy of an invasion?

Let’s put this up front: values are everything. And thus, two dictums come to mind: “With integrity, nothing else matters; without integrity, nothing else matters.” Also, “a people that stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

Philippine treaties and the doctrine of incorporation

A topic substantially discussed in law school is international law’s application within our municipal jurisdiction. In other words, may international law give rise to a demandable cause of action or defense before our local courts? The answer is in the Constitution.

Time to end disrespectful student activism

There’s this interesting scene in the movie Too Big To Fail, which is about the 2008 financial crisis that almost brought down the entire global economy. The setting was after US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (played by William Hurt) asked the CEOs of the world’s biggest financial institutions to work through the weekend and try coming up with solutions to avert the crisis.

Mandatory extended maternity leaves is a bad idea

“Unintended consequences” is a phrase policy makers, legislators, and those in the academe should get to know intimately. That certain measures may cause effects not fully comprehended. Hence why it’s said that the road to Hell is not only paved with good intentions; it’s lighted, gilded, and fully furnished with it.

Congress should investigate un-Filipino activities

Perhaps because a bunch of local musicians decided to give the National Anthem the “We are the World” treatment. Perhaps because some Filipinos began to think we’re actually Americans and feel nothing of jazzing up the “Lupang Hinirang.”

Equality apparently demands women fight in combat

In 2018, three women applied to Britain’s Special Air Service (the SAS). Only one was considered fit enough to join the normal selection process. She quit two weeks into the 18-week training course.

Time to de-bugoy the Philippines

Remember the adage: dress up for the position you aspire and not the position you have? If true, then quite a number of our people are aspiring for the position of village vulgarian.

Journalists have rights, just like everybody else

PROBABLY it’s intersectionality. Or identity politics. Or the glorification of victimhood. Whatever the cause, everyone nowadays seems to demand preferential treatment. Of course, it’s never stated that way. Usually, it’s called as a plea for “rights.”

Everyone should be a populist and nationalist

I attended a Philippine-US relations forum in Makati last week. During one Q&A, the discussion drifted on the rise of so-called “authoritarian” regimes worldwide, particularly Asia.