Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curacha to Victorina, Making Sense of Our Senators

by: Andro Ramirez

For once, I am at a loss on how to start writing an article without making it look like a PR job- A thing Belo and Solis love doing. I have even asked the Council explicitly to give this assignment to someone else since it would be very difficult for me to remain objective because the subject is a person I admire tremendously. But no, they did not budge. With no option left, I declare; “I love Osang.”

Borne Jennifer Adriano, this icon is more popularly known as Rosanna “Osang” Roces. From her character's very inception, “Osang” has been known for being outspoken, straightforward, and most of the time brutally candid. She never cultivated a sweet image like her sexy-starlet contemporaries, and even admitted her past indiscretions without fear. The first to bravely admit on air that she has gone under the knife, to enhance her already beautiful looks as Ana Maceda, in a time when such cosmetic procedures is taboo to be admitted on air.

Therefore, I don’t understand why a Lolit Solis would describe her as “mukhang unggoy” before her surgery. Incidentally, the name Ana Maceda was derived from Annabelle Rama and Ernesto Maceda. Still fresh in the showbiz scene during the 90’s and needing a media boost, she named names on national TV regarding the “Bruneiyuki’s” which implicated Ruffa Gutierrez among others. An issue, which later on caught the attention of the SENATE and was investigated. And like all Senate investigations, NOTHING CAME OUT OF IT. Sounds familiar?

Osang, an avid supporter of Victorina, has been in the news again lately when she was sought for her reaction to Vicky Belo being implicated in the Hayden Cam Scandal. Without batting an eyelash, she said, “I think karma has taken its toll on her and it will not stop.” It is fact that Osang used to be an endorser of Belo; they even became partners when they put up “Forever Flawless.” The two had a falling out that led to cases being filed in court, which is still pending as of this writing. A libel case filed by Belo against Osang was dismissed in 2007.

Asked further about Vicky Belo being implicated in the Hayden Kho – Katrina Halili scandal, she says she has no sympathy towards the doctor, whom a while back, she addressed as nothing but a gym instructor. She continues by saying she thanks God that she never got implicated in that kind of a scandal in her life. She adds that she may be ready to forgive (Belo), but sure of herself that she can never forget whatever ills that transpired between her and Belo.

What goes around, comes around... or so the saying goes. According to one media practitioner who wishes to remain unnamed, “Instead of spending frivolously on debauched soirées and lavish parties to further the unnecessary grandness of the Belo brand... Oh and don't forget about the different trips to far-flung cities around the world which she doles out to her media friends... The last time I heard corrupting the values of media men is ghastly. Belo should focus on herself and the people around her. It's like she's living in some fantasy world of her own creation, oblivious to the evils and negativities of the real world.”

Belo and Solis and their devious ways will be forgotten soon but who would forget Osang?

Who could ever forget the 1998 Star awards wherein she came with one of her breasts exposed painted over with body paint... Her nun costume with see through satin back... Her numerous warnings given by the MTRCB. In response, she attended a TV show wearing a black t-shirt with the words “Down With Hypocrisy.” And who woud forget the Rico Yan death controversy that never had an end to it. Her being censured by the KBP along with GMA Anchor Mike Enriquez, made her decide to withdraw its membership from the group.

The list goes on and on.

Rosanna Roces may well be the embodiment of Meredith Brook’s song “Bitch” but borrowing a line from the song and “enhancing” it a bit: “I know I wouldn’t want “Osang” any other way.”

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Blogging Libel Test by Pangandaman

President Gloria Arroyo with Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor and Secretary Nasser Pangandaman

A Bad Case to Test Internet Libel or how not to fight a blogger

By: Rain B

This is supposedly a test-case against bloggers. The Philippine Star reports: “Paca-Ambung Macabando, provincial prosecutor of Lanao del Sur, issued his nine-page resolution dated March 12 elevating the libel charges against (Blogger Bambee) De la Paz before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) after she failed to submit her counter-affidavit before the deadline two days earlier. Macabando said a careful analysis of De la Paz’s blog titled “The World had Gone Crazy” reveals that there was an intention to “impute a discreditable act or condition.”

“It was a genuine plea of De la Paz to all persons that may have been reading her blog to support her in portraying Mayor (Nasser) Pangandaman and Secretary Pangandaman as cruel, incompetent government officials, without delicadeza and cannot lead to peace,” said Macabando. (italics mine)

I don’t know what “careful analysis” the provincial prosecutor did, but if he is looking for a test case for e-libel, this case should not be it.

Victorina legal adviser and managing editor can help me out with this, but as far as I know, that law states that in every criminal prosecution for libel, the truth may be given in evidence to the court and if it appears that the matter charged as libelous is true, and, moreover, that it was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the defendants shall be acquitted.

What could be better motives than seeking redress and/or making public officials be subjected to the highest standards of decent behaviors?

The daughter just saw her father and her brother engage in a violent brawl. It is not clear now who actually instigated it, but the truth is that two politicians were involved. Bambee told her story, asked for prayers and begged for justice. The two politicians were public figures – one at present is an elected official, the other a Cabinet Secretary.

They are public figures, as such their behaviors should be subjected to scrutiny, how much more their involvement in a bloody fight, in the grounds of a posh golf club, during the holidays!

Bambee de la Paz used the best tool to put across her message for free– the blogworld. Nobody is stopping the two politicians to reply to her version of the story in the same platform. On one hand, I am bound to agree that the Pangandamans were tried in the court of public (online) opinion and were judged as guilty even without hearing their version of the story.

I was hoping that they, the Pangandamans, would have bombarded the internet with their own version and allow the internet community to make up its mind. Delfin Montano appeared in national television to refute Brian Gorrell. He gave us an opportunity to think twice about the case and to make up our minds.

Filing a case of libel would only result to at least any of these things:

a. It will aggravate the public sentiment that the Pangandamans are bullies, and this time they are using the courts to overpower a young lady blogger.

b. It will cement the case that the older Pangandaman cannot be an effective peace advocate as he can’t even negotiate peace with a single family, and would resort to the aid of the law to prove his point.

c. It will open a new round of anti-Pangandaman sentiment among bloggers. They might be able to threaten the Philippine-based ones, but the global bloggers can take that case to a wider arena.

d. Has the PROVINCIAL prosecutor ever thought of the principle of domain.

All of these risks for what?

Just to test a case of internet libel?

Good luck if he will win.

But this is certain – the Pangandamans will lose once more in the court of public opinion.

The submission of the case and the issuance of a resolution a mere TWO DAYS after Ms. de la Paz failed to submit her counter-affidavit is, by any standards, WRONG! If anyone noticed, Ms. de la Paz is Manila-based. The case was filed in Lanao del Sur. Normally, the prosecutors will give a respondent at least another opportunity to answer the charges, especially in a case as serious as this, which involves a prison term. There are loads of questions to answer now.

First, did Ms. de la Paz even receive a notice? It is, after all, some distance from Lanao del Sur to Manila. Was Ms. de la Paz given adequate opportunity to answer?

Clearly not, because the Resolution was completely done within TWO days from the last hearing. Quite a hard-working prosecutor we have here. Most prosecutors take full advantage of the ninety day period they have to resolve a case. This prosecutor doesnt seem to have any other cases.

Am I saying the prosecutor is on the take? No.

But certainly the entire proceedings seem out of the ordinary and seems to take undue advantage of the distance of Ms. de la Paz' residence to the venue of the proceedings.

Fast break, anyone?

Big mistake. Again!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is Smith Innocent After All

I am convinced. My name is not Nicole.

By Rain B.

Victorina originally planned to write an article dissecting the motivations of Nicole for recanting. We heard stories of the 100K cash gift to the family. We know of the feminist interpretation of this as part of the conspiracy by Malacanang. Yet, we also heard rumors that in fact she was a prostitute who saw a golden opportunity.

However, we decided not to tell you our story of Nicole. Instead, we will let Nicole tell her story. This is from her sworn testimony. We trust that our readers will share their points of view. We will also share ours.

What to make out of the story of Nicole?

Deep inside, however, I know that I may never be able to move on for as long as I continue to search for answers to so many questions that have lingered in my mind regarding the incident in Subic more that three years ago. Daniel Smith was convicted of rape because the court accepted my version that he took advantage of my intoxication i raping me inside a van that took us to the seawall located at the SBMA Alaba Pier at around 11:30 in the evening of November 1, 2005.

1. Daniel Smith's witnesses said that while we were at the Neptune Club, I sat on Daniel Smith's lap and that we kissed each other passionately. I remember that before I met Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club, all I ate was a slice of pizza at the Grand Leisure Hotel. After the pizza, everything else was alcohol drinks from vodka sprite, B52, Singaporean sling, B53, long island ice tea to bullfrog all of which I drank bottoms up. I do not recall Daniel Smith having ordered any alcoholic drink for me. My drinks were all paid for by Chris Mills who invited me to go to the Neptune Club.

2. I had no opportunity to deny in court that I kissed Daniel Smith but with the amount of alcoholic mixed drinks I took, my low tolerance level for alcohol and with only a slice of pizza all night, it dawned upon me that I may have possibly lost my inhibitions, became so intimate with Daniel Smith and did more than just dancing and talking with him like everyone else on the dance floor. Looking back, I would not have agreed to talk with Daniel Smith and dance with him no less than three times if I did not enjoy his company or was at least attracted to him since I met him for the very first time on the dance floor of Neptune Club.

3. When I danced with Daniel Smith for the third time, my companions, Chris Mills has already left Neptune Club since they had to catch their curfew time at the military base. The lighting was sufficient for people to recognize each other and other marines were with their Filipino partners drinking, dancing, and enjoying each other's company and kissing and hugging among partners was a common scene.

4. With the events at the Neptune Club in mind, I keep on asking myself, if Daniel Smith wanted to rape me, why would he carry me out of the Neptune Club using the main entrance in full view of the security guard and the other customers? Why would the van park right in front of Neptune Club? Why would Daniel Smith and his companies bring me to the seawall of Alaba pier and casually leave this area that was well lighted and with many people roaming around? If they believed that I was raped, would they have not dumped me instead in a dimly lit area along the highway going to Alaba pier to avoid detection?

5. I told the court that Daniel Smith kissed my lips and neck and held my breast inside the van. Recalling my testimony, I ask myself how I could have remembered this if witnesses told the court that I passed out and looked unconscious when I was brought to the van by Daniel Smith. How could I have resisted his advances given this condition? Daniel Smith and I were alone on the third row of the van which had limited space and I do not recall anyone inside the van who held my hand or any part of my body. What I can recall is that there was very loud music and shouting inside the van.

6. If the travel from Neptune Club took only several minutes and with the driver of the van trying to beat the curfew time of his passengers, how could I have instantly regained my consciousness and talked to the people upon reaching the seawall of Alaba Pier? When people gathered around me at the seawall, everyone seemed to have drawn the conclusion that I was raped except for one who called me a bitch.

7. Based on the account of the SBMA police, I was very hesitant to board the mobile police car that brought me to the headquarters for investigation. I was so confused and the first thing that entered my mind was how would my mother and boyfriend react if they learn that I was last seen with Daniel Smith and that a condom was seen on my pants after Daniel Smith left the van? I was scared of losing not only my American boyfriend but the chance of living in the United States. In fact, I did not immediately tell my boyfriend that I was raped by Daniel Smith. All I said was that something bad happened to me.

8. I expect many sectors to question my motives in executing this statement more than three years after the incident. However, as I practically grew up interacting with American servicemen in Zamboanga City who treated me and my family very well, and thinking over and over again how I may have conducted myself at the Neptune Club, I can't help but entertain doubts on whether the sequence of events in Subic last November of 2005 really occurred the way the court found them to have happened.

9. My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away. I would rather risk public outrage than do nothing to help the court in ensuring that justice is served.

What say you?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Religious Ecstasy

by Andro Ramirez

Since youth, it was impressed upon me to ask questions on things I do not understand. And if an answer is given me, to not just accept the response as an absolute truth. I was always challenged to dig deeper and to learn how to discern for myself and relay my findings. I can't say if it was unfortunate for me that I didn't have the benefit of having constant contact with kids my age to interact with during my formative years, except maybe in the Catholic school my parents enrolled me in. I was always with adults 20 to 40 years my senior and I found that I could relay my thoughts with ease with my older relatives and teachers than my classmates. I can't remember how, but an aunt found, and she still insists to this day, that I learned to read even before I learned to speak fluently. She says, my favorite books then were bible stories. My five favorite words were what, why, where, when, and how. Words that have an entirely different meaning during my teenage years when I also learned what "party" means, in a time when I realized what I might have been missing. Well, it was not much, but it was and still is, fun.

Growing up in a military family, it was my constant question to my relatives in the service the morality and justification of having to kill, if need be, for love of God and country. But didn't God say: Thou shalt not kill? Around this time, I learned the bible in itself contained records of atrocities that man committed against man in an era long past. Which lead to more questions and a search for more answers.

For some, religion provides a moral compass. For others, it provides spiritual uplifting. Whatever the reason, religion has, in a way, distorted the perception of what it truly means to live for the glory of a God. This has been going on since time past. Religion per se, have been dividing the people for centuries. In this time of crisis, and because of the blind submission to religion by the majority, I wouldn't be surprised if attendance in services increases while collection boxes dwindle.

Am I Catholic? Well, I was baptized to be one. Do I believe in God? Certainly I do. But the belief I have of God now is not the cookie cutter mold set out by men in flowing robes during my youth. They imposed that I needed to follow certain protocols just to be pleasing in the eyes of my God. How can I not be pleasing in His eyes? Him, the one being that is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent made us, didn't He? Well technically by virtue of having human parents, like their parents before them, and so on and so forth.

Where do these religious fanatics get all these? And who hands it down to them? Oh and please, don't give me that "it's all in the bible" diversion. I've lived with that all my life, and I've read several versions of the bible. I have also read the Koran and several others on Taoism, Buddhism, and the like. Have any of you wondered where the bible came from? Yes that consistent bestselling book favored by many Christians. Why are there several versions? And for those not in the know, the bible we know of today is actually composed of several different books. It has been translated and edited several times over time from the originals where they came from. I don't know with you, but there has to be something lost in translation in the existing versions. And while we are on the subject, please, can some "expert theologian" clarify for me the necessity and significance of Vatican II. In addition, because of the present political, social, economic, and technological changes, will there be a need for a Vatican III?

Faith "IN" religion is the biggest malady present in every religious organization these days. We need only to open our eyes. Accept that the supposed "truth" most of us grew up with, is not absolute. Like processed food, religion has been infused with so much additives and preservatives to make it more appealing and palatable. Forgetting the fact that food is there to sustain life but with so much artificial and synthetic substances added, it has been poisoning us figuratively and literally the more we consume. Religion, in my point of view, has lost its purity of form and genuine intent.

Answer me these: All religions preaches love, peace, charity, etc., etc. Now why do we still have wars? Why do we still have hungry people? If one follows all the edicts of their religious affiliation, does that make them better persons? If you say, yes to the last question, how so? Who set the qualifications, why, and what for? Where will all these lead? Puzzling isn't it? And there are still more questions that one must learn to ask. And one must learn to ask the right ones.

In times of war, assuming both leagues of combatants pray to the same God, which side does He choose? Does He really choose a side or does he decide to decimate both sides. Well, assuredly, the latter is the result. But does He choose it to be so? I say not. How arrogant of us to say or even think for God. What of our prayers then? Are we praying to a non-existing entity and pinning our hopes and faith in a God who doesn't care? After all, based on their teachings, we are all His creations and can be disposed of as He pleases. I'm not deeply religious but I say nay both instances.

What any church is forgetting is that we all, have been bestowed the power of FREE WILL. The right to choose for ourselves. That follows for whatever religion, sect, cult and what have you. We have the power to choose whether we want to be in the side of light or dark. I am not deeply religious like I said before, but tell me who would you rather believe? A gift given to you by a Creator or a set of laws made by men whose covert aim is to control your growth as a human being, if, and only if. Think and search within you, the answer is there.

We all have FREE WILL.

If you choose to be with the light, then be good for all its worth and share it. If you chose to be in the dark. Then do so because you also have the right to it. But please, do not involve good people in your affairs regardless of religion; much more never involve the young to wallow in your enterprise. And please no pretensions. It will seep out like a cracked rotten egg no matter how hard one tries to conceal it. Always remember that once caught, you still have to contend with punitive measures and legal edicts set by man. So why make your life complicated?

Guilt and conscience are two effective tools any organized religion uses to make their devotees fall in line. Which makes one with a clear mind think especially in these uncertain times: Are we really following the edicts of God or that of fallible men? In times of war, the one who incited the conflict shoulders the greatest sin. Case in point, from Lucifer the Light Bringer, to Satan Prince of Darkness. No need to cite examples in modern day terms. They are all around us. From the echelons of society to the halls of government, and even in our places of worship.

Truth does hurt especially for some whose belief structure, indoctrinated in them all their lives, has been allayed. It is therefore hard to accept to be faced with the fact that the truth we know is not absolute. All organized religion has flaws. We must learn to accept that. Saying otherwise would be foolish. It doesn't matter what group you belong to and it definitely doesn't make one a better person just to be associated with one. Well, not unless you choose to be a better person than the rest of the flock. And that goes to your credit as an individual, not to the religious organization you belong to.

But why dwell on religion alone? For the most part, life in itself is already complex, and religion only complicates matters even further. The realization of dealing with our mortal birth, life, and eventual death is already quite an imposing venture. Death however does not discriminate. Religions do.

Let me just clarify that I am referring to RELIGION and not FAITH.

Do not be confused with one for the other. My view is that they are entirely different. And saying that one is synonymous with the other would be highly irregular. One can have religion but not faith, and vice versa. All religions, however, claim that we are the vanguards of the earth. Fine, let's do that. Why not heed this and preserve this planet of ours so that future generations can enjoy living here much as we do now? Whatever is left of it from our daily abuse.

Religion has always been a delicate subject in any discussion. But if one looks at it from a different perspective, we need not concern ourselves with what our religious leaders say and the consequences that comes if we do not heed their words. I say, those are their words. Not the words of your God. The God you should have genuine FAITH in. Assuming of course, you dear reader, believe in the existence of a God.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tim Yap Maybe Charged with Violating RA 9165

Amiel Aguilar and Atty Trixie Angelese

Dangerous Drugs Board Chairman Vicente Sotto III in an on-air interview via Magic 89.9 FM ( January 15, 2009) has confirmed that the owners of Club Embassy maybe charged with violating Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002: An Act Instituting the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Repealing Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, Providing Funds Therefore, and for other Purposes), which he described as "places which can be classified as DIVES" and reiterated that this should serve as a warning to all! He also said that a long watch list of celebrity drug users and media personalities is already in his desk.

Our story on the brouhaha of betrayal, abuse of power and high society drug abuse by the so-called Gucci Gang started at the Hotel Intercontinental when a group of high society columnists had Australian blogger Brian Gorrell arrested and illegally detained for more than eight hours by the MAKATI Police. With the help of MAGDALO lawyer Agree Guevarra, I personally followed up and confirmed the illegal detention with the kind assistance of a staff (Philippine Marine Corp Officer)of Sen. Rudolfo Biazon. The "Gucci Gang" present at the Makati Police station when Gorrell was held for questioning were Delfin DJ Montano, Celine Lopez, Marcel Crespo and Jackie Cohen-Antonio. Later on a certain JM Rodriguez ( an alleged Gucci Gang member) told me; "kaya kayo may threat kasi nakiki-alam kayo (you get threats because you keep on interfering)".

Later, blogger Brian Gorrell alleged through his blog and live interviews in Magic 89.9 FM the rampant drug use by the Gucci Gang in club Embassy. Months after regular interviews with Brian Gorrell, Magic 89.9 account executives received three (3) death threats that apparently came from the camp of Delfin DJ Montano. I immediately called Supreme Editor Timothy Yap regarding the threats but he unfortunately told me; "Wala na akong paki (I don't care!)".

The Victorina Council upholds our position that grave abuse was committed and that justice be served! amiel aguilar cabanlig

Section 6. Maintenance of a Den, Dive or Resort. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person or group of persons who shall maintain a den, dive or resort where any dangerous drug is used or sold in any form.
The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person or group of persons who shall maintain a den, dive, or resort where any controlled precursor and essential chemical is used or sold in any form.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed in every case where any dangerous drug is administered, delivered or sold to a minor who is allowed to use the same in such a place.
Should any dangerous drug be the proximate cause of the death of a person using the same in such den, dive or resort, the penalty of death and a fine ranging from One million (P1,000,000.00) to Fifteen million pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed on the maintainer, owner and/or operator.

If such den, dive or resort is owned by a third person, the same shall be confiscated and escheated in favor of the government: Provided, That the criminal complaint shall specifically allege that such place is intentionally used in the furtherance of the crime: Provided, further, That the prosecution shall prove such intent on the part of the owner to use the property for such purpose: Provided, finally, That the owner shall be included as an accused in the criminal complaint.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person who organizes, manages or acts as a "financier" of any of the illegal activities prescribed in this Section.

The penalty twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who acts as a "protector/coddler" of any violator of the provisions under this Section.

Section 7. Employees and Visitors of a Den, Dive or Resort. - The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon:
(a) Any employee of a den, dive or resort, who is aware of the nature of the place as such; and
(b) Any person who, not being included in the provisions of the next preceding, paragraph, is aware of the nature of the place as such and shall knowingly visit the same

Section 8. Manufacture of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals. - The penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall engage in the manufacture of any dangerous drug.

The penalty of imprisonment ranging from twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by law, shall manufacture any controlled precursor and essential chemical.

The presence of any controlled precursor and essential chemical or laboratory equipment in the clandestine laboratory is a prima facie proof of manufacture of any dangerous drug. It shall be considered an aggravating circumstance if the clandestine laboratory is undertaken or established under the following circumstances:

(a) Any phase of the manufacturing process was conducted in the presence or with the help of minor/s:
(b) Any phase or manufacturing process was established or undertaken within one hundred (100) meters of a residential, business, church or school premises;
(c) Any clandestine laboratory was secured or protected with booby traps;
(d) Any clandestine laboratory was concealed with legitimate business operations; or
(e) Any employment of a practitioner, chemical engineer, public official or foreigner.

The maximum penalty provided for under this Section shall be imposed upon any person, who organizes, manages or acts as a "financier" of any of the illegal activities prescribed in this Section.

The penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years of imprisonment and a fine ranging from One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who acts as a "protector/coddler" of any violator of the provisions under this Section.

In a nutshell, TIM YAP should be under investigation, but not only for what the reports have been made out to, which is "selling" or "pushing." Maintenance of a den, dive or resort, and coddling are multiple charges that he can be liable for.

Plus he advertises that he provides "absolute privacy" for VIP rooms, the subtext being, its carte blanche for those who can pay...

atty.trixie angeles

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Impunity at the Valley Golf


Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles

This is a story of how a member of the government’s Peace Panel forgot his duty and allowed violence to happen in front of him.

On 22 December 2006, Gloria Arroyo appointed Sec. Nasser C. Pangadaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform to the Peace Panel.

On 26 December 2008, Sec. Pangandaman allegedly stood by while his son and namesake, Masiu City, Lanao del Sur Mayor Nasser Pangandaman Jr. and five bodyguards mauled Delfin de la Paz, 56 and his son Bino, 14. The attack first happened on the golf course of the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo when the Pangandaman party overtook the de la Paz party on the course.

From the The elder de la Paz said the Pangandaman father and son overtook them at one of the holes, prompting him to ask a marshal to have them get back in line, but when they were playing at the fifth hole, Pangandaman Jr allegedly voiced impatience with his slow playing.

Irked at the blatant breach of golf etiquette (parties or “flights” as they are called, should not overtake another flight without permission from the preceding one), Delfin de la Paz went up to speak to the Pangandaman party. Heated words ensued and Pangandaman, Jr. threw a punch at Delfin de la Paz. Bodyguards immediately followed and repeatedly punched de la Paz. Bino del la Paz rushed to assist his father but was in turn punched repeatedly and personally by Pangandaman Jr. It bears repeating that Bino de la Paz is fourteen years old.

Bambee de la Paz, daughter of Delfin and part of his flight, tried to help her father and brother but was prevented from doing so by other bodyguards. She says “So we complained to the marshal. We played the 5th hole and walked towards the next hole, where there is a tee house, and both the flights in front of us were there, talking with the marshal. The mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur talked with my dad. Things got heated up. Voices were raised. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that someone would pull out a punch. Apparently not. He attacked my father. His flightmates, maybe 2 or 3 of them, rushed to his aid and beat up my father. My 56-year-old father. My younger brother and I could not just watch. We rushed to break the fight. My younger brother pleaded to the mayor to please stop it. To not hurt my dad. To just stop. His words still ring through my head..."Sorry na po, sorry na po...tama na...tama na po..." With his hands in front of his chest in a praying position. PLEADING. The mayor sacked him in the face. My brother defended himself. My dad was still on the ground getting clobbered. My brother, the same way. I tred to stop the fight, but all I could do was stop one person. There were 4 or 5 of them attacking now.

Someone broke up the fight. I thought it was all over. The mayor shouted to his caddy: "Hindi nila kami kilala! Sabihin mo nga sa kanila kung sino ako!" And believe me, I had no idea who this person was. But now I know. He's the person who, with 4 other men, beat up my 56-year-old father and my 14-year-old brother. He's the person who sacked a pleading 14-year-old kid in the face. He's a person who, I am sure, is gonna rot in hell.

I lashed out, but my dad held me back. I was screaming my lungs out, shouting to this mayor, telling him about what he had done. I said: "Nakakahiya kayo. Singkwenta'y sais anyos ang tatay ko. And kapatid ko kakatorse anyos. Anong ilalaban nila sayo?"

The mayor looked at my brother, poinedt to his face, and says, "Tatandaan kita!" And he told me that my brother has a bad attitude and that I need to watch him. WHAT THE HELL?! So, my brother's bad for defending his father?!” (

After the scuffle, the three went to the clubhouse to report the incident where they again ran into the Pangandaman party.

Bambee says, “We leave. We walk to the clubhouse to file a complaint. My brother asks for a doctor. My dad could barely walk. Their group comes to the clubhouse, sees my brother. Once again my brother pleads, says sorry, and is crying. He was CRYING, for crissakes. But no. The relentless mayor still punches him in the face, and then sees my dad and goes after my dad again. Him and his friend pull my dad to the ground, pulls at his feet, and steps on him like he's dirt. I run to him and try to hold him back, holding him back by his shirt, while this other guy and this girl tries to stop me. She tells me to just stop it. I scream in her face "they're beating my father up and you want me to stop?!" I pull at his shirt--I don't let go. All I can see was my dad being trampled on. I didn't even see my brother getting beat up.

People pull them away. I get my dad, and I saw my brother. His right ear was bleeding. I freaked out. I told the receptionists to bring my brother to the clinic. I pull my dad away. People were separating us.

My mom and my older brother come. I tell her Bino's right ear is bleeding. They both look like they could kill. My dad holds my brother off, I hold off my mom. When I finally got my mom under control, my older brother gets away and I hold him off. Two of the mayor's bodyguards pull out guns. I embraced my brother from the back, just holding him back, crying. The receptionists came to us, crying, hugging me, my dad, and my mom, whispering to us to just leave. "Maam, umalis na po kayo, may mga baril sila...Maam...umalis na po kayo please..."

Aside from the obvious charges of physical injuries filed against Pangadaman, the de la Pazes charge the attackers with violation of Republic Act 7610 the Anti-Child Abuse Act, for the injuries deliberately inflicted on 14-year-old Bino. Mayor Mangandaman, Jr. meanwhile counter charges Delfin de la Paz with slight physical injuries alleging that de la Paz attacked him with an umbrella.

The outrage on this is building and already the coffee shop pundits are wondering if GMA will fire her DAR Secretary and consequently remove him from the peace panel. I’m also wondering if the general public will see the connection between the illegitimacy of Gloria Arroyo and the blatant abuse of power displayed by these public officials.

In the past eight years, the Arroyos have managed to subvert all manner of processes to keep themselves free from litigation. Does anyone remember the kidnapping orchestrated by Mike Defensor on Ping Lacson’s witness on FG’s improprieties? The impeachment processes that were reduced to the inappropriately termed “numbers games”? ZTE? Yet, amazingly, when Mike Arroyo filed his own cases, his cases seemed to speed right along.

People know that these things happen in the halls of power. But never has it been so blatant, so in-your-face. And never have we, as a people been so cowed and so accepting of this kind of insidious status quo. A member of the government peace panel cannot keep the public peace and stands by as his son beats up a father and son. It seems to be just another injustice in the land of the apathetic.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Victorina Will Continue To Fight

by: Atty.Trixie Angeles

The Constitution says that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, and of the press. This provision assures us that free speech is the rule, and it is protected. Government is therefore prevented from prescribing laws such as censorship that prohibit expression prior to publication or punishment after publication. But not all speech is protected.

Libel, sedition and obscenity are some of the known exceptions. Libel is defined under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as a public and malicious imputation of a crime, vice or defect, real or imaginary or any act omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to discredit or cause the dishonour or contempt of a natural or juridical person or to blacken the memory of one who is dead,

The elements of libel are:

a. imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another
b. publication of the imputation
c. identity of the person defamed and
d. existence of malice

For conviction, all elements must be present and proven. Standards are lower for public figures which include but are not limited to actors, "celebrities," and politicians. Defamatory statements or imputations are presumed to be malicious –even if true – if no good intention or justifiable motive for making it is shown.

A columnist inferring that a government official has dipped his hand into the public coffers may defend himself by showing that such a statement was made in accordance with the public interest of transparency. If, however, there is no justifiable reason to have made the malicious imputation, even if such an imputation is true, it shall be considered libellous. In such a case, truth is not a defense. Quite recently, (January 2008) the Supreme Court recommended to the lower courts the imposition of fines and the payment of damages, rather than imprisonment of those convicted of libel. It also recommended to Congress the decriminalization of libel.

Congress, on the other hand, came up with the Right to Reply bill, requiring media to provide equal and commensurate space for the subjects of a news item or column, to present their sides. It has not passed plenary, though. In consonance with the Supreme Court recommendations, criminal libel should be a thing of the past. However, since there are instances where a person could be wrongfully maligned, its civil liability will remain. We must note that the internet appears to be the last bastion of absolute free speech. Yes, currently the local courts appear to be less inclined to explore its parameters. This is perhaps due to the difficulty of establishing jurisdictions, or maybe due to the lack of ‘cyber-knowledge’ among some of our magistrates. Yet for most of us, online blogging categorically makes for a far more interesting reading than traditional media.

The phenomenon of blogging has removed the censorship power from those seeking commercial political and religious advantages that makes mainstream media pander to their interests. It has allowed the democratization of free speech by taking away the filters of opinion that publishers have by virtue of ownership. The internet has allowed us to say things we cannot say or are afraid to say in print, television or even in movies.

Brian Gorrell, for instance, would not have found an audience for his story had he gone to the papers first, nor would Malu Fernandez have been given the internet version of an extreme reality check. These have the effects of providing an alternative to mainstream media and directly empowering the ordinary person. It is all well and good. Yet the law addresses the bad stuff –malicious imputations and the like -- because clearly, there is a need to do so. We acknowledge that democratic space is necessary and so is the need to protect individual rights, such as the right to be protected from libel.

Because of the empowering effect of the internet, a single person can destroy the reputation of one otherwise outstanding citizen. That person need not be telling the truth. But a blogger can continually blog untruths until, as Goebbels said, the lies are repeated often enough and become appreciated as the truth. Anyone who has been the object of unfair gossip knows what this feels like and for the most part, sometimes time doesn't heal.

Our discussion therefore must seek a balance between the right to free speech and the right to be protected from libel.

Do we do this by applying a less stringent form of the libel law to the internet or should we leave such balance to be achieved naturally by the force of public opinion?