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When media discriminates

Last weekend saw tech giants Twitter and Facebook, including, bizarrely, Spotify, banning US President Donald Trump from the use of their platforms. This was followed by bans imposed on certain conservative personalities or substantial reductions in their reach or followers.

Merry Christmas. Time to cancel ‘cancel culture’

If ever there’s something in need of canceling it’s “cancel culture.” That pernicious attitude that whoever and whatever disagrees with your beliefs or perception of the world should not only be silenced but destroyed. It’s sheer fascism disguised behind saccharine pleas for equality and tolerance.

Putting ‘parens patriae’ in the dustbin

The problem is the thinking that the government is there to take care of people. But this fundamentally goes against the philosophy and structure that our society, as embodied in the Constitution, is built upon.

The unbearable futility of mandatory mask laws

St. Augustine once wrote: “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” He was writing, obviously, about matters of faith. Unfortunately, many who’ve scolded the public to “follow the science!” over the past several months are now seemingly content to treat masks as an object of faith rather than trust the science behind it.

Time for the Senate to look into RCEP

The big news is last weekend’s signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. Touted as the world’s biggest free trade agreement, the RCEP is said to promise gazillions for the Philippines.

Foreign investment damage under lockdowns

Suppose you’re managing a corporation doing business in a foreign country. Suppose further its government imposes mandatory rules that are unnecessary, arbitrary, and results in substantial loss of profits. What do you do to recoup your losses? One way is to sue that government which imposed those measures.

Originalism: A review

For more than a decade now this column has been advocating for the recognition of “originalism” in our legal education and legal system. It is gratifying to see that such efforts are bearing fruit.

Mandatory public mask laws are unconstitutional

In 1918 the Spanish flu wrought its way across the United States. Within a near two year span, the virus would end up killing 675,000 Americans, around 500 million people worldwide.

The WHO on lockdowns: ‘It wasn’t me’

As the song goes, a guy (the part sung by English-Jamaican singer RikRok) was caught cheating by his girlfriend. Despondent, he went to Jamaican-American reggae artist Shaggy for advice. The latter gave his version of “wisdom”: Deny everything. Regardless of facts and logic. Just repeatedly say: “It wasn’t me.” That song became one of the highest selling singles of 2000.

Of lockdown, masks, and the banality of evil

Conspiracy is an intriguing 2001 HBO film on the Wannsee Conference, called to resolve (as referred to in the movie) the “Jewish question.” Based on the only surviving transcript of the event, it ends with an agreement to carry out the “Final Solution,” leading to the murder of six million Jews.

Public morals and the EU GSP+

The United States was recently dealt a disappointing loss by a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel in its case against China. The suit stemmed from alleged Chinese intellectual property violations and that such substantially damaged the interests of US companies.

Nomination sensations

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last week. The only member of the Court not coming from either Yale or Harvard law schools, her death prompted numerous tributes, particularly as to her status as a “feminist icon.”

Time to resume in-classroom learning

Last week saw a “viral” proposal to “freeze” the academic year, by which is meant stopping the school year completely, have students take the rest of the academic year off, and then resume (presumably) the following school year.

Appealing for the WTO’s Appellate Body

Perhaps the best main feature of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has to do with its dispute settlement system. Through a combination of well defined timelines, a “buy-in” of all the WTO members with regard to the jurisdiction of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), and the interest of the members to make it work, the WTO’s dispute system has for a long time been considered the best in the international legal system.

Fear and lockdown in PHL

This is the 169th day of lockdown. News came a few days ago about an asteroid possibly on a collision course with our planet. Not that we should worry: being not too large, any impact will likely be inconsequential. Not that there’s much chance of a collision. The chances of that happening, according to the scientists, is 0.41%.

Time to end troll armies

Is there anything more pernicious than the online troll? Angry, vulgar, and common. What should have been a vehicle for people coming closer together and promoting better understanding has been hijacked by a bitter few intently spewing their hatred on others.

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.

Being Right

Philosopher Philip Devine recently wrote about today’s most pervasive ideology: “covidism.” It has two elements: “scientific fundamentalism and a fallacious argument from fear.” The...

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.