What I Learned about President Aquino

The discussion regarding the prior blog, “Is President Aquino an Idiot”, helped me crystallize some thoughts about the President. And about the libel section of the cybercrime law.

I don’t believe President Aquino is an idiot. Senator Sotto rather sets the standard in that regard, appearing to be out of touch with just about everything except the dark rings circling aimlessly in his mind. Let me bullet-point a few observations about President Aquino. These are not truths perhaps, not measured by psychological exam. Just what it looks like to me . . . and what I will use as premises to interpret his future acts.
  • The President is stubborn. Once he takes a position, that’s it. He signed the Cybercrime Law and no matter the flaws pointed out by Human Rights Watch, Father Bernas, and several hundred other good, bright, people, he is not willing to bend his view on the libel provision.  You can observe his stubbornness again and again. I had previously called it “determination”. Tempered with reason, that would be a strength. Held onto despite reason . . . that is a weakness.
  • The President favors people he likes, people who work for him, who are on his side. He wanted Secretary De Lima in the Chief Justice chair and would not listen to anyone about why that would not have been a good appointment. He wants Padaca as a COMELEC commissioner and he does not care about laws or public perceptions. He’s going to put her there. Then there was Puno, offending so many, defended all the way by the President. He will stubbornly stick with his favorites even if his own reputation takes a ding.
    Dr. Jose Rizal
  • President Aquino does not have a deep appreciation for freedom of expression. If he did, any comment he would make about the libel law would be prefaced with a remark about how important open expression is to the development and well-being of the Philippines. I find it amazing. After Rizal. After Marcos. There are so many tin ears in the Philippines regarding acts of oppression.
  • He equates good governance with law enforcement. Putting people in jail. Emphasizing limits on freedom of expression. If you cross the line on-line, double time the sentence. Perhaps this is why his focus on extra-judicial murders seems lackluster. He agrees with tough cops, even if they are self-appointed. Good governance appears not to mean rich values like freedom of expression or justice for all, even criminals, or real transparency like a Freedom of Information Bill would provide.
  • The President can google, we discovered. But he apparently has no appreciation for the range of open discussion on chats and blogs and social networks, and how the energy displayed there is a force, often referred to as “The Fifth Estate”, that helps participants engage in governance; helps them learn and teach and become deeper and richer people. To him, on-line appears to be something that others do, and it has an unsavory bent to it. It’s like the internet is young and bold and he is old and sedate.
“And what about libel, Joe. Do you believe libel laws are necessary?”
Yes. Yes, I do. Here’s what I think about this matter regarding libel and the internet.
  • Libel laws already exist. It is illegal to use words to intentionally and maliciously harm another person. But rather than tack confusing and overlapping libel penalties on the Cybercrime Bill, why not simply amend existing libel laws to clarify that they apply to on line expressions. Then penalties would be consistent.
  • Libel laws protect the powerful and rich. Senator Sotto was looking out for no one but Senator Sotto in pushing the libel provision. That’s ridiculous. Let’s take care of real victims.
  • Libel laws should have “reverse libel” punishments. If a libel complaint is denied, the person filing the complaint should automatically be declared guilty of libel. That would end the use of complaints as a tool to harass people. Only the most damaging and certain of complaints would come forward. Frivolous complaints based mainly on temper or spite would no longer burden the courts and the threat of libel would no longer be oppressive to free speech.
  • The cybercrime law should focus on the types of crime where injuries are real and substantial. Child porn, hacking, scams, stalking.  I personally don’t have a problem with adult cybersex (and, sort of related, the banning of “sex toys” in Manila is comical). But then, I favor legalization and taxation of marijuana. If adults can go shoot people as soldiers, and be shot at, they can handle sex on line. Preachers ought not be stamping “keep out” across the internet. They have full right of free speech from the pulpit. If they are good at their job . . . no problems, no worries, eh?
  • I also think parents should monitor what their children are doing on line.
Thanks for these insights.
I would also note that the prior article had sharp edges to it. There was a reason for that.
Freedom of expression allows passion.
24 Responses to “What I Learned about President Aquino”
  1. GabbyD says:

    Father Bernas is NOT against the libel provision.

  2. Cha says:

    PNoy seems to have a hard time dissociating private citizen Noynoy from President Noynoy. Like his mother before him who chose to pursue a libel case against the columnist Louie Beltran for claiming she hid under her bed at the height of a coup attempt, Noynoy chose to assert a personal opinion on libel instead of approaching it from the point of view of a President whose pronouncements are taken from an official standpoint and as a reflection of his government's stand on an issue. He fails to see the implications of private citizen Noynoy putting up the P70,000 bail money for Padaca on President Noynoy's appointment of her as Comelec commissioner just like he failed to see how standing by his friend Puno was compromising his own credibility as the President of his country.The sooner he comes to terms with the reality that for now until 2016, private citizen Noynoy needs to give way to President Noynoy, the better it will be for the country and for him.

  3. andrew lim says:

    I cant believe it. We have exactly the same views, but Im 100% Filipino. No 50% this, 50% that. ha ha haNo, wait. Dial back a bit those freedoms- US style is too much freedom for a Third World country. Gangnam? Yes. Gangbang in cyberspace? Nah. LOL

  4. GabbyD says:

    yes, but none of that is about libel. but you write: " no matter the flaws pointed out by Human Rights Watch, Father Bernas, and several hundred other good, bright, people, he is not willing to bend his view on the libel provision."bernas and aquino are OK with libel

  5. That's a great idea. Gangnam style blogging. Kung foo verbiage and lots of sexy ladies . . .

  6. GabbyD, maybe have you considered writing your own blog instead of picking nits with mine? It is not that easy to write every line precisely. Especially if the San Mig is working the way it is supposed to. I'm okay with libel, too. Oh happy day!

  7. GabbyD says:

    which is why i'm helping you by pointing out possible points of confusion.

  8. You are not helping me. I am happy with reasonable accuracy rather then precise accuracy, where precision is in the mind of someone else. You may believe you are helping other readers, but I am confident 98% grasp the point I was making. Let me explain it to you this way. President Aquino is not willing to bend his views on the libel provision in spite of the chilling effect it has on freedom of expression, as pointed out by Father Bernas, Joe America and others of comparable intellectual reach.

  9. Edgar Lores says:

    1. Insightful and flawless.2. I clapped on the "reverse libel" concept.3. Personally, I'm not sure about my stand on libel laws. My instincts say No to such laws. On the other hand, I see the need for them in certain instances, as in the case of the actress Zhang Ziyi. Perhaps not because of her "honor" but because her livelihood is affected.3.1 I think the use of words like "thief" or even "plunderer" are acceptable if the subject is the "police", "DOJ", "some" or "it" conjoined with the word "say". And as long as there is a reference to a specific case. Example: "It is said that GMA is a plunderer in connection with the NBN-ZTE and the PCSO intelligence funds affairs".3.2 The word "allege" and its derivatives may be omitted; the use is awkward except for journalists.3.3 I find the use of half-truths and untruths more damaging than the single use of nouns or adjectives. Like one entire column of Doronila or Tiglao. Their motivation is suspect. The intention is not to shed light but to spread darkness.3.4 The fourth element of "malice" is important in libel. As in the case of Zhang, malice can be derived from the real effects, financial or otherwise, it has on the accuser. The "real" effect of dishonor can only be sustained if the accuser has a doctorate degree. This last is said with humor.

  10. "3.3 I find the use of half-truths and untruths more damaging than the single use of nouns or adjectives."That is so true. The deceits being spewed in the US presidential election are disgusting. There aren't enough insulting adjectives or nouns in the dictionary to describe the lowlife dihonorable approach to running for honorable office.I like your rules. Like dropping allege. You should codify a set of online rules that recognizes stilted artificiality is itself a lie. I'd do it, but it is outside the reach of my mental grasp.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Now if I say that Aquino is moron for stubborness on insisting on libel provision, is that libelous or freedom of expression?Libel law must be decriminalized, keep it a civil case Iike in USJoe that kickapoo joy really kicks like Popeye spinach. Youare firing rapidly faster than Gatling machine gun and oh boy with extreme precision and accuracyHe he heJohnny Lin

  12. A factual statement is not libelous. Yes, decriminalize libel like my good friend Sonny the Young proposes. Glad you approve of the gunnery work.

  13. Anonymous says:

    JoeWish you could change the pic to that one circulating in fb or twitter, meme is pic of Ninoy Aquino with the caption, "mr President, this man died fir his country, seehing a free vouce …. Oh, he is your DadJohnny Lin

  14. I agree I need a better photo, but that one is too personal for me. Rather, too personal to Mr. Aquino.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Pnoy is out of touch on anti-cybercrime. Can't blame his cordon sanitaire. JoeAm is definitely in touch.DocB

  16. GabbyD says:

    "I am happy with reasonable accuracy rather then precise accuracy"is it reasonable to attribute to bernas something he NEVER said?" President Aquino is not willing to bend his views on the libel provision in spite of the chilling effect it has on freedom of expression, as pointed out by Father Bernas"bernas NEVER said the libel provision had a chilling effect. NEVER. like i said, i was helping you by telling you factual inaccuracies. we should aim for the truth, right? lets start with trumpetting the correct facts.

  17. "cordon sanitaire", originally a medical term meaning to seal off a disease, it has often been used in English in a metaphorical sense to refer to attempts to prevent the spread of an ideology deemed unwanted or dangerous.I can even hear the French pronunciation, nasal with drawn-out emphasis on the last syllables. Thanks for the new expression ohhhh so useful hereabouts.

  18. You play with your facts, trumpet them even, and I'll strive for ideas. Maybe we can team write the blogs, eh? Is that your proposal? Or is that I get a different brain and aptitude?I posted the Bernas blog which is as factual as I can get. Others here can read what he said. You are picking nits after that. Can you possibly get a different brain?

  19. Jetlag807 says:

    Teddy Locsin in his "Teditorial" segment last night summed it up nicely. I will paraphrase the important points here… Basically, he said there is already Libel Laws in existence (as you have pointed out in your article). A reporter, for example, can write a defamatory article about "Politician-A" which is completely false. Politician-A then has the right, if he or she so chooses, to file a case against the reporter and take it to court. Crime-Victim-Case-Trail-Resolution. Teddy pointed out that its the VICTIM that has the responsibility to cry foul. With the provisions of the Cybercrime Law, its the Government who can decide at will what is libel and hand down punishment without the need for DUE PROCESS. That's the rub! That's the problem!I was shocked, yesterday, watching the DOJs so-calld Forum on the Cybercrime Law. At one point, the speaker (an Asst Sec at DOJ) actually said "the Justice system in the Philippine is too slow so with this law, we can circumvent the process". The process he was referring to is called DUE PROCESS! Ya Know; at some point somebody at the Palace should have "grew a pair" and told the President that certain provisions of this law violates human rights and will result in worldwide condemnation. Hell! The Knucklehead himself should have realized this, put his idiotic pride and stubbornness aside, and "asked" Congress to make the necessary adjustments and/or deletions! Instead, he holds his course to disaster like Captain Ahab throwing all reason, logic and caution to the wind in order to stay a course which the entire crew knows will lead to their end.Life is a learning experience and I, for one, am glad you have learned something about Aquino. My crash course on things to come began with the aftermath of the Bus Hostage Fiasco and, sad to say, Aquino has not surprised me yet… I still think he is an IDIOT and even a (insert "R" word here) yet I wonder… If idiocy was an affliction; can we now say that Aquino's ailment is becoming worse with each passing day? I say YES!

  20. Thanks for the insights on the law and people's reaction to it. It appears that the foundation of the law originated in Justice (Written by Sy, I believe? Is that the DOJ speaker you mention?) If the document originated in Executive, rather than the Legislature, that would explain the President's ridiculous backing of the law, as delivered. In effect, he wrote it.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Jetlag, the idiots surrounding Pnoy don't help matters. That clueless prosecutor is rubbing it in. In our barrio, we call that siege mentality.DocB

  22. Anonymous says:

    The men surrounding or advising PNoy are cloistered as "cordon electricaire"Pres Aquino is frequently "electrocuted"(nakuryente) lateLy because of his cordon.He he heJohnny Lin

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