Electioneering and the Blogging Foreigner

I have been silenced . . .

Philippine Immigration has made clear that foreigners are not to engage in Philippine elections in any way. Not even open our mouths or tap our keyboards.

Immigration has announced that it will deport foreigners who violate Section 4 of COMELEC Resolution 9615:
  • Resolution 9615, SECTION 4. Prohibition against Foreign Intervention. – It is unlawful for any foreigner, whether juridical or natural person, to aid any candidate, or political party, organization or coalition, directly or indirectly, or to take part in, or influence in any manner, any election, or to contribute or make any expenditure in connection with any election campaign or partisan political activity.
I feel your pain, Joe . . .

This is very different than the Unites States, I must say. In America, freedom of speech takes precedence over one’s citizenship. Foreigners have full right of free speech. The Supreme Court made this clear in a 2012 ruling that confirmed that a ban foreign political contributions did not represent a violation of free speech:

  • “Notably, [the campaign finance law] as we interpret it, does not restrain foreign nationals from speaking out about issues or spending money to advocate their views about issues,” the court said. “It restrains them only from a certain form of expressive activity closely tied to the voting process – providing money for a candidate or political party or spending money in order to expressly advocate for or against the election of a candidate.”  (“Supreme Court upholds election law limiting foreign influence” by Warren Richey in The Christian Science Monitor)
In the States, a foreigner can say or write opinions all over the place, in or out of the election cycle, just like an American.
Well, almost all Americans are from immigrant families, so it is a different mindset over there.

Here in the Philippines, it is clear that we have a more protective and authoritarian form of democracy.  I rather fear Dr. Rizal would be disappointed.

Indeed, COMELEC Resolution 9615 is a minutely detailed, high-control, by-the-book directive from a powerful regulator. It is regulation by knit and grit. COMELEC refers to any information that is outside the narrow bounds of their determination of fairness to be “propaganda”. Not ideas, or information, or platforms. Propaganda.

It is strange to me, the binding of expression. Open ideas are what drives honor and competence and solutions. Shutting them up is what assures abuse. And ignorance.

So I have an idea if you will allow me the courtesy of squeezing an impudent suggestion in here. Tighten the rules a bit. Don’t let anybody say anything to anybody in any form at any time so the the Public is not burdened with original thought or pesky decisions requiring information and ideas. No one will be biased with any fresh insights whatsoever. They can just vote the “name”.Oh, wait. . . . Pardon me. You say that’s the way it is done now?

Boy howdy, like the proposed cybercrime libel laws, this 9615 is enough to make an overbearing opinion-monger go Santiago.
And so, dear readers, in recognition of COMELEC’S representation that you are not mature enough to read JoeAm’s mighty opinions and sift them through your own cognative filter for reasonableness, it is with a huge sigh of reluctant retreat that I have withdrawn 12 blogs that have the potential of being declared in violation of COMELEC’s ruling.
I’ll republish one or two after they are duly sanitized for reading by lola and all the other nice ladies down at the Church bazaar.
Actually, I suspect this COMELEC ruling needs to be tested for constitutionality, but it is not gonna be done on this American’s wallet. You want the kind of country that is afraid of opinions, you may have it.
You know, to some extent, I understand the hard and all-inclusive COMELEC position banning foreign campaign contributions and “influence”, which includes speech. The Philippines has been abused by foreign engagement in politics in the past. Abused as in ruthlessly occupied. The U.S. has not.  Furthermore, the Philippines is a small nation. A large nation could take command of an election by funneling large dollar amounts into a campaign.
But money is money, an individual is an individual, and an opinion is an opinion.The regulators look at an opinion as a weapon, a threat. I look at it as a seed. The germ of an idea that can be welcomed or rejected or debated. Indeed, that is what blogging is about. The dynamic of generating ideas through debate. Those who disagree with JoeAm can write their own opinion. They can debate the matter. They can strive for a sharing of enlightenments. As in think and teach and learn.

Read these discussion threads. It is not the article that is important in many cases. It is the debate.

That’s what that comment box is for at the bottom of the page.

Vibrant discussion keeps a democratic nation healthy, alive and on course.

So I go back to my often-asked question, usually reserved for low-esteem blog commenters not the national government, why is an idea allowed if it is stated by a Filipino but not allowed if it is stated by a foreigner? It is the same idea.
I also think that in the modern era of the internet, enforcement of the “influence” provision by deporting violators who take partisan positions on the internet is rather strange thinking. As long as I am here, the government can put its autocratic tape over my electioneering mouth. When I’m deported, then it’s balls to the wall influence in every online medium available to me.
So tossing me out would prove that it is not WHAT I WRITE that matters to the authorities. It is authority that matters to the authorities.
Furthermore, when Immigration starts deporting people for simply having an opinion, the Philippines will come across in the modern world as heavy handed and  . . . well, maybe not the best place to set up shop. Like backward. Like banana republic.Same o same o authoritarian rot and malaise. Same o same o non-competitive Philippines.

But my parents taught me to obey, and my school taught me to respect authority, and my church taught me to exercise humility, so I will follow the rules.
And the Philippines will be one voice quieter during election time.
Candidates who represent a lousy choice for the Philippine public can sleep well.  JoeAm will not be badgering them.My my. . . . do you suppose . . . the thought struck me . . .could it be . . . that if they can silence enough voices they will soon have everything in order. Only THEIR propaganda will be allowed?

Ship shape, as they say.
Hunky dory.Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya 

Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbayah 

Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya 

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya 

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya 

Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya

78 Responses to “Electioneering and the Blogging Foreigner”
  1. andrew lim says:

    I got an idea, Joe. I will sit on your lap, and you can ventriloquize your thoughts. ha ha haSeriously, what harm can commenting do? If it's a bad comment, people will just tune it out.

  2. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I’m surprised that the US Supreme Court ruling on foreign political contributions is dated only last year (2012) . No wonder Marcos was able to contribute to Reagan’s (1981 – 1989) war chest. In the end, it did him no good and had to leave during Reagan’s second term.2. The COMELEC ruling is in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”3. I am in no danger of being deported but in and with respect to your situation, I will desist making judicious political comments on this blog and reserve my ammunition for placement in more appropriate media.3.1 If my comments were pro-Team PNoy, I wonder if COMELEC will enforce their ruling.3.2 I also wonder what impact, if any, the COMELEC ruling would have on native blogs, like Raissa’s, where expatriates can comment freely. Oh, right, the expatriates have deported themselves already. Duh.4. Today I learned that “kumbaya” is Pidgin English “come by heah”. I have the Joan Baez version which I must listen to again. This song and yesterday’s and Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” were our protest songs in my salad days.

  3. Edgar Lores says:

    But, Andrew, you're no dummy! Only some candidates are…

  4. You know, Andrew, that is a very good point. COMELEC evidently has little confidence in Filipinos. Only COMELEC has the vision to know right from wrong.

  5. The Universal Declaration would be a good guidepost for Philippine social modernization. Not to mention economic well-being occasioned by respect around the world. Rather than disdain for its autocratic tendencies.I wonder if a court would consider a blog host to be a "publisher" or a a "moderator" or "a guy who makes an arena for open discussion available". Probably it depends on the blog and how open it is. I don't consider the blog a "publication", but a forum for ideas. The article is simply the opening resolution of the debate, albeit sometimes a little wordy.It's interesting. Jose Filipino comes to my blog and writes "Candidate X is a turd" and everything is fine. Or maybe I'm deported for not censoring a political comment, I dunno. And if John American comes along and writes "Candidate X is a turd" then we clearly have a subversive collaboration going on and I will get deported or shot.I need to post a sign at the top of the blog "NO FOREIGNERS ALLOWED!"

  6. The ban on political contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals was first enacted in 1966 as part of the amendments to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), an "internal security" statute. The Supreme Court ruling is simply an affirmation.

  7. Yes, but the Supreme Court ruling in 2010 allowing corporations to give unlimited sums to political action groups not affiliated with candidates rather changed things. That ruling was silent about the matter of foreign contributions, leaving it hanging, because the court did not want to deal with the "free speech" aspect of contributions in that ruling. The 2012 decision settled the matter.

  8. GDI says:

    In the meantime, anti-Pnoy commenters are in full swing over at Yahoo! Philippines. Almost every single comment is blaming Pnoy for everything under the sun. Some even advocate dismantling the government or waging war against Malaysia.At this rate, I can assure you, the greatest enemy of the Republic of the Philippines will not be a foreigner, it will no doubt be a Filipino, who was a knack for destroying ones' country for short-term political gain.This post has been made by a Philippine Citizen.

  9. Yes, it is ironic, and sad, actually, that the Philippines, the beat-up orphan of Asia, beats up on herself so destructively. Rather than seeing the current government as a breathtaking step toward a modern model of honest, earnest effort and result, we see the 100 percenters climbing on each little twitch to claim failure.When a people believes so strongly in seeing failure, it will happen.

  10. And I harken back to a prior blog here, that suggests some of the participants in the dialogue may be outsiders with an agenda, masking as Filipinos. To weaken the Philippines.I'm surprised none of the major media are onto this vulnerability.

  11. Cha says:

    "Why is an idea allowed if it is stated by a Filipino but not allowed if it is stated by a foreigner?"Meet the bipolar Filipino: When a foreigner, say an American like that David Harwell, writes a love letter to Filipinos extolling the our virtues as a people, he is all over himself sharing copies of the letter via e-mail, facebook, twitter and every other forum he can possibly access. "Hey guys, look! This foreigner loves us so. Isn't that just wonderful?"Then another foreigner says something not so flaterring, a constructive criticism perhaps or even just a suggestion on how to do things better, and the same Filipino is up in arms protesting. "Why the hell should I listen to you? What do you know?You are a foreigner!!"

  12. Jorge Mario Bergoglio AKA Pope Francis and his henchmen who called themselves as priests thru foreign devine intervention from Jesus Christ SHOULD BE DEPORTED, beheaded, and, burned crisp on the outside and tender and bloodied on the inside.CBCP has foreign influence from the Vatican, they should be hunged downside up !!!!!!COMELEC are run by looneys …. MY AXIOM #69 still rings true to this day and forever will be: "WHAT GOOT IS A GOOT PRESIDENT IF 99.99998% OF FILIPINOS ARE NOT THINKING GOOT" !!!!Once benign0 Aquino is gone so will be his legacy gone with the wind !!!!! I SO LOVE FILIPINOS THAT IT MAKES ME PROUD.

  13. COMELEC reports to benign0 Aquino. Therefore, benign0 Aquino must be looney. UNLESS, if COMELEC is run by rogue anti-benign0. I will forgive COMELEC if they admit they are graduate from ivy-schools of the Philippines: University of the PHilippines, Ateneo and La Salle. Now imagine if these were the minds of the ivy-school graduates, IMAGINE FURTHER WHAT THE REST OF THE NON-IVY-SCHOOL GRADUATES MUST BE THOUGHTING.I just so love Philippines. They are so funny that makes true that IT IS FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES.

  14. HA! HA! HA! HA! I guess benign0 Aquino's COMELEC by virtue of Statistics presented by NCSO and SWS with the approval of 188 non-reading non-understanding congressmen and the Looney supreme court appointed by benign0 Aquino must already have found out that the foreigner bloggers in their midst must be against benign0's hand-picked hand-crafted candidates.Or, maybe, because Cardinal Tagle was cheated for the Popeiship.I so love Filipinos that it makes a recovering behavioral problematist.

  15. Cha, I think we are all a little defensive of our homeland. I know that I bristle when America or Americans are criticized by people who I think have limited perspective . . . like, for example, WHY she is a "warmonger" nation. But the writing of laws should take these emotional handicaps and set them aside. Indeed, I think much Filipino law is emotional rather than keyed to democratic ideals. The Human Rights standards are difficult for many Filipino lawmakers to grasp because of their emotional baggage. ("Baggage" is a term those psychoshrinks use all the time to convey when we act on something for a wrong, and unhealthy, emotional reason.) Foreigners with opinions is one of the emotional hurdles many struggle to get over in reaching for democratic ideals.

  16. Dude, GDI, you are sooooooo RIGHT !!!!! The national secuirty threats are not the foreigners but THE FILIPINOS THEMSELVES !!!!!!!!

  17. The "BRILLIANT" "INTELLIGENT" PHILIPPINE MEDIA must be on the side of the COMELEC because the brilliant intelligent Philippine Media are short on analytics compared to foreign bloggers within our midst.The Philippine Media should be declared as NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT !!!!!! because of their unprofessional reporting.

  18. COMELEC's heirarchy of loyalty and ethics is beyond comprehension. Of course not to the country. Not to the people. Maybe their heirarchy of loyalty is to themselves to make themsleves ultra-nationalist right-leaning clueless non-intelligence kind.

  19. When I read that Resolution 9615, it struck me as "anal retentive", being from an organization that cannot simply let go and trust the People. But being a kind and decent fellow who wants to remain in the Philippines, I excised that attribution from the article. I'll sneak it in here. So much detail, instructing people how to be proper citizens. So much missing the point that people need information, not rules limiting information or declaring it "propaganda".

  20. " . . . recovering behavioral problematist" That is like a quirky person detached from reality, eh?

  21. It is amazingly sloppy. Monday's blog will cite such a sloppy article.

  22. Yes, to categorize information (including foreign opinions) as substantially dangerous is strange. Like they don't get that a successful, vibrant democracy depends on wild and wooly expression from which people derive a sane and productive path? It does not require painting by the numbers or people marching lockstep, goosestep.

  23. Edgar Lores says:

    Joe, Cha, Mariano,I believe we need a reality check. Are we making sense to people out there? Is our thinking correct?I have a sense that we are looking at the abyss, and the abyss is staring right back at us.We have no real feedback except our own echoes. Do our ideas resonate with the real world?Or is the real world so tied up with their own desperate lives that they cannot see beyond this Easter, this election, this Christmas?In the news media, there is feedback enough when the topic is of some current controversy. But you mostly get rants and Bible-quoting fanatics. Oh, there are one and two intelligent comments, but the perspectives are of expanded selves that identify with a political party, a church, a personality or some superstitious belief. And the comments are so negative with no suggestion of solutions.Question is: are we making any sense and are we making a dent?

  24. Edgar, I think it is difficult to reach the obsessed, who have their minds made up and are intent upon ramming their view down others' throats. One might occasionally reach a few of them with a crisp comment on the more popular comment forums, Inquirer or Rappler.But I think there are a couple of worthwhile audiences here: (1) us, to build or crystalize our views, (2) opening a few ideas up to the quiet people who drift by now and then, and (3) opinion makers who can then incorporate ideas into the broader fabric in their own words. We can't tell who the latter might be, but I think it only takes a hit or two to make the effort worthwhile. At least for me.Certainly many short-term loyalists found the blog did not do much for them, for they moved on. And I get value from the writing exercise, so get something from the doing, rather than the reaching.If the goal were to reach the obsessed, I'd think a different approach would be needed. Maybe that would be worth an intellectual exercise to think about whether or not it could be done. We now get about 500 to 700 page reads per day if I skim out the spam messages. Considering multiple visits, we are probably reaching one to two hundred people per day. Educated people, in the main.

  25. Anonymous says:

    JoeThis rule is meant to keep foreigners from aerating the oxygendepleted pond of Philippine politics. Loosely translated inthe smoke filled backrooms of incumbent politicians, resolution9615 means "If it ain't broke, fix it'."amor

  26. Anonymous says:

    Anyway, as big and powerful and established as a democracy as it is, the US still has laws forbidding foreign ownership of mass media, right? In that sense the US regulates the speech of foreigners by limiting their control over the means of mass communication. And I can understand why. Without such a restriction China, North Korea, and Iran can buy the largest TV networks and highest circulation papers in America. There are equal conflicting interests or rights involved here. National security- national interest, versus free speech-individual human right. And in such cases, the choice over which interest or right to uphold or prioritize must necessarily be arbitrary. And it usually comes down in favor of national interest and security. Similarly the Comelec rule is based on the belief that elections, by its nature, belong exclusively to citizens, foreigners cannot have an equal voice as citizens who will choice who will represent and lead them. So foreigners are gagged and prevented from active participation in elections. The prohibition is limited in scope and time. Let's say there are no limits on foreign participation in elections. That will open the door to puppet candidates which is just an inch short of foreigners running for elective office themselves. Marcos' contribution to Reagan's campaign may or may not have been illegal at the time but it would have been political suicide for Reagan to admit it. Because freedoms notwithstanding the American public would first of all not have welcomed the gesture, some might even call it interference in an internal matter. I would say Reagan would have lost votes. Let's put your situation in reverse. Imagine if the Philippine Embassy or Lucio Tan went to the US and openly campaigned for Romney or Obama. In short, all views are welcome but not all the time. Elections are the time when citizens of a country go behind closed doors to pick their representatives and leaders. That is the custom in some countries, the law in others, and both custom and law in others. Elections are a family matter so to speak. After the national debate and the choices are made, the doors are open again to one and all. – mbPS Mario Renato's political diatribes against Pres Aquino, his dismissal of the Comelec as an independent constitutional body, and his denigration of media adds nothing to the conversation thread. He does not bring us any closer to thinking clearly about the issue at hand and whether it is right for national security and national interest to take precedence over a basic human right like free speech. I know he is exercising his right to speak just like I am exercising my right to call him an idiotic asshole.

  27. Yes, no need to upset things, like with ideas for growing wealthier and happier.

  28. andrew lim says:

    Joe, just got on the phone with a COMELEC lawyer. Hard to believe, but got info quickly from the people I asked. Get the online copy of Resolution 9615. Section 1 on definitions states "personal opinions, views and preferences for candidates, contained in blogs shall not be considered acts of election campaigning or partisan political activity…" So I think this doesn't cover the blog. Although consult a lawyer on Section 4 to be sure.

  29. Many many worthwhile points to discuss, MB. Thanks for raising them.1) Indeed, the U.S. regulates heavily to balance protections for the People and the State. Mass media is one of the critical industries that cannot be in the hands of outsiders. The U.S. also regulates its media on behalf of consumers through the FCC.2) Foreigners are gagged on elections in the Philippines. But this particular foreigner is a Filipino in every respect but the paper. My wife and my son's well being depends on the conditions here. Mine, too. I pay taxes here, obey most laws (driving is another matter), and am a constructive participant in things Filipino. My life is here. I will die here. My son's future is here. Yet I cannot speak about one of the most critical choices there is: who will lead the Philippines. Forgive me, but that is really very very paranoid and unfair.3) I have never understood how a person of any nation is somehow worth more than a person of any other nation. If regulations are sound, it does not matter where someone was born to determine if they are good at running a business and creating products and wealth for the Philippines. To subject Filipinos to suffering because the nation can't generate wealth on its own seems lunatic to me. It needs capital investment and manufacturing and more good jobs. It can't do regulations to get capital while protecting Philippine interests? My, how unimaginative.4) If the Philippine Embassy Lucio Tan went to the US to openly campaign for any candate, that candidate would tell them to shut up because it kills their election chances. And laws prevent them from giving money. But the government would not tell them to shut up. Free speech is precious to Americans. It assures that the nation stays straight and true. One of the reasons the Philippines is not always straight and true is because there are not enough voices speaking out.5) "All views are welcome but not all the time." Like I said, that reflects an insecurity and a paranoia, and cheats me out of the opportunity to give to my country by speaking.6) I've never walked in Mariano's shoes, so I can't properly judge why he is outspoken the way he is. However, I do appreciate his clear grasp of some of the oddities in Philippine cultural behaviors, and the double and triple layered meanings that are hidden in his words. Yes, his views offend a lot of people. I'm just not one, most of the time. You are. Onward . . .

  30. I have the text and appreciate the highlighting of Section 1. I don't believe the Immigration Chief grasps this or he would not have been so explicit in threatening to deport people who engage.I also know that I write in a hard-hitting style that is bound to be offensive to someone I take to task. All it takes is one person of substance (any senatorial candidate) to complain, and I suspect I'd be out of here. There is no court of appeals for Immigration. There is declaration. And the power-person's power is too much.So I can't risk offending anyone, because the law and the warnings are frightenly clear. Don't meddle. I don't care to risk my family's stability and well-being over it.

  31. Edgar Lores says:

    Sorry, have to disagree with the above analysis within the following strictures:1. We are not talking about the following:1.1 Foreign ownership of mass media.1.2 Money contributions.1.3 Puppet candidates.1.4 Neither are we talking about campaigning.2. We are simply talking about the right to express an opinion as established in Article 19 of the UDHR.2.1 The line between campaigning and expressing an opinion is not that fine. Campaigning is a sustained and concerted effort to achieve a common goal. Expressing an opinion is not such a concerted effort. There is a great difference in degrees; one is an inch the other is a mile. (The distinction is also something that Filipino bishops are oblivious of.) As Article 19 says everyone has the right to “impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.2.2 The argument of national interests and security is untenable. This is the argument of authoritarians the world over. Any citizen of the world should be free to comment on so-called "internal affairs" because no affair is truly internal. We are all interdependent. Anyone can voice his opinion on the issue of China’s abuses in Tibet because personal and national freedom affects everyone. Anyone can voice his opinion on American elections because the weight of the US in foreign affairs is immense and affects every being on the planet. Any foreigner living in the Philippines can voice his opinion on Filipino elections because he is personally affected by the outcome. Any foreigner living outside the Philippines can also voice his opinion on Philippine elections because he is interested and is therefore affected – no matter how tenuous the connection may be.2.3 Peter Wallace at PDI, who I gather is an Australian, has expressed his opinions on the election and they were sterling opinions. Why should not Filipinos consider his opinion? They can either accept or reject his opinions. But they should never reject him by actual deportation. As Joe Am says, the suppression of any pertinent idea actually acts against the national interests because ideas are seeds.2.4 To place a temporal limit on freedom of speech is not only counterproductive. It is arbitrary and dangerous. Once it is allowed, one may not see the end of it. It can well be the beginning of tyranny.

  32. Edgar, further mulling. Of all the comments I've ever received, two are most fascinating. One, from Kris Aquino noting that she had read a blog to her brother. And another at this location: http://thesocietyofhonor.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-philippines-should-turn-predator.html?showComment=1361447187294#c2402866435947428516"Your ideas will certainly change things."I was particularly proud of that blog because it suggested a way the Philippines can use China's thuggery for self advantage, and it suggested there is a way around the 40% foreign ownership rule if the government, or a pool of investors, owns the other 60%, leaving management to the foreigner.It now appears the Philippines is going to start a "Sovereign Wealth Fund" to invest in various Philippine commercial enterprises.Who penned that comment, do you figure? It did not say "I hope that happens" or "interesting points". It said the ideas "will change things" quite authoritatively. A very interesting comment, wouldn't you agree?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Joe, I understand how strongly you feel about the issue but the paper is your ticket to the family meeting room. It's what makes the difference between being "like family" and "family".2) Forgive me but your third point does not address the issue squarely which is, the choice of representatives and leaders is the exclusive domain of citizens. It is the one room in an otherwise very hospitable home where non-family members are not allowed. I believe that holds true in your country as well. You stated "If the Philippine Embassy Lucio Tan went to the US to openly campaign for any candate, that candidate would tell them to shut up because it kills their election chances." I'll grant that your government, as differentiated from the candidate, will not tell him to shut up, but that's why I said, "That is the custom in some countries, the law in others, and both custom and law in others." Electoral non-interference or intervention is a tradition in your country, almost like British common law, and it is both tradition and written law in my country. But the end is the same. The reservation exists.3) Also, free speech does not ensure that the nation will stay straight and true because liars also flourish under a free speech regime. Witness the run-up of lies leading to the invasion of Iraq. 4) As to point 5, that is a matter of perspective. I can just as easily say "reflects an insecurity and a paranoia" to describe US control of mass media ownership and how that control cheats everyone out of the opportunity to contribute by speaking. Lastly, I am more interested in your response to "Let's say there are no limits on foreign participation in elections. That will open the door to puppet candidates which is just an inch short of foreigners running for elective office themselves." (Now I personally am for a borderless world but that's a different topic we can discuss at another time.)The danger of puppet candidates I believe is the crux of my argument and why I think the Comelec regulation is alright until someone can come up with a better alternative. I am not saying there are no puppet candidates nor there have never been any nor will there in the future but the point is why make it easy for them and their string pullers? So I hope you can propose a better way out of the national interest vs free speech rights conundrum, one that will allow foreigners to give constructive inputs in the choice of reps and leaders and at the same time will prevent foreigners with negative intentions from meddling or intervention. I will miss your inputs in this midterm election specially since we agree on candidates who deserve to be elected and on the framework that should guide our assessment of the opposing coalitions. Anyway let's chew on the problem and find a solution. -mb

  34. 2) Okay. It is the domain of the citizen.3) Agree.4) Very different issues. Media regulation in the US assures reasonable and varied views in the public interest. It is required to obtain and retain licenses. There is no lack of media coverage or perspectives. Free speech (and its sister, right of protest) is essentially the right of a person to exist, as a person, and not be put in a closet out of the way by authorities. That is, to be silenced.I agree that puppet candidates are a danger and foreign influence is a potential risk (undercover Chinese bloggers infesting the comment threads with comments aimed at undermining Philippine unity). I think it is very simple to make explicit that foreigners are covered by 9615 Section 1, and are permitted to blog and express personal opinions about the candidates. But for sure they ought to be banned from directly participating or giving money to campaigns.I authorize you to speak twice as loud and twice frequently during the campaign, to represent me, too.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Edgar,1. "We are not talking about the following: etc"But I am. That is the context of my analysis. The curtailment of freedom of expression under certain conditions. In this case the prohibition on foreigners to take part in our elections.2. "The line between campaigning and expressing an opinion is not that fine. Campaigning is a sustained and concerted effort to achieve a common goal. Expressing an opinion is not such a concerted effort." The Comelec rule eliminates subjective analysis, parsing, and measurement of degrees. When exactly does expressing an opinion become a campaign? Are we going to put an arbitrary number of opinion posts or column inches, number of TV spots and length of coverage to determine if the line has been crossed? Etc. etc3. "The argument of national interests and security is untenable. This is the argument of authoritarians the world over." I agree. But I'm sure you will also agree that there are justifiable restrictions to speech as far as public order, national interest and security goes. For example, is it alright to publish the defense strategy of the Philippines in the event of a war with China or Malaysia? Is it alright to publish the negotiation strategy of the government vis a vis the MILF and the CPP-NPA?3.1 "Any citizen of the world should be free to comment on so-called "internal affairs" because no affair is truly internal." I agree. I believe in a borderless world also. But I was basing my analysis on an existing world not a world that has yet to be born.4. Peter Wallace. First verify his citizenship.4.1 Peter Wallace can always express his opinion, except when it will mean involvement in the electoral process which is the exclusive domain of citizens.I pointed out the danger of puppet candidates representing foreign interests that could be working against our national interest. That is one reason to exclude foreigners from the process of choosing our representatives and leaders. Is my point beside the point? Is it irrelevant? Is it an unfounded fear? Are all foreigners well-meaning? 5. "To place a temporal limit on freedom of speech is not only counterproductive. It is arbitrary and dangerous. Once it is allowed, one may not see the end of it. It can well be the beginning of tyranny." I agree. Except it is done and we allow exceptions for it. We punish the publication of secrets that will hurt national security but after a certain period of time they are made accessible; we prohibit certain forms of hate-speech and speeches that would incite riots in the interest of public order and safety, we allow censorship of movies, TV shows, billboards etc. etc.We are aware of the slippery slope to tyranny. That's why we have laws to check the slide, that is why we are always reminded to be vigilant. There are risks but we take those risks with our eyes wide open, we look at the costs and benefits on any restriction on free speech. There is a trade-off here, as I said in my initial comment. So the issue here is, whether there is a legitimate basis for the trade-off and, assuming that there is a legitimate basis, how do we construct the trade-off so that it does more good than harm. – mb

  36. Anonymous says:

    Joe, One last observation. On US versus Philippine media. And a free press.Media coverage and perspectives in America is not as profound and extensive as it appears to be. It is actually narrow and shallow. It is limited to the mainstream. The operative phrase in NYT motto, "All the news that's fit to print" is "fit to print" and not "all the news". American media plays a role in limiting the American conversation. It creates the mainstream, everyone and anyone media leaves out is out of the national conversation. Compare American media to Philippine media. Over here, the views of rebels, secessionist forces, even nut cases like the Kirams are included in the national conversation. They could be left out in the cold if media so chooses, if media limits its coverage only to subjects and personalities within the capitalist and democratic framework, within the mainstream of a democratic republican capitalist country. But no.We pit communists against capitalists, we allow reds to speak for themselves; we include islamists, secessionists and give them equal time and weight. And all of that without going through filters. Wild and wooly. That's Philippine media.American media is different. You don't see a communist on CNN etc. speaking out on the financial crisis, the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, the two wars. What you normally see is someone from Wall Street, Congress, the Fed, etc. disagreeing with someone from Wall Street, Congress, the Fed, etc. Many times you see pundits from mainstream think tanks or media outlets pontificating and debating on issues like their views, their parameters are the only views and parameters out there. When media does allow the entry of a view outside the mainstream that it created it is usually an "expert" who speaks for the outsider. How often did American media feature someone like Noam Chomsky during the wars in Central America, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, in the debates over Israel and Palestine, etc. Even Christopher Hitchens was a non-entity until he took up the banner of the neocons. Was his book laying out the case against for charging Henry Kissinger as a war criminal given extensive coverage and discussion? That book was written like a legal brief but it was before he joined the mainstream and so Kissinger was never placed under scrutiny. Mainstream American media acts as a filter and dare I say more as thought police than a disseminator of unfiltered news and opinion. Let's not be lulled into thinking that American mainstream, all under the control of conglomerates, is as free as it purports to be. It cannot light a candle to Philippine media.The good news is the American way makes for stability. The shifts are gradual and imperceptible. It took Goldwater's ideas 40 years to move from radical right to centrist. The bad news is many Americans remain ignorant of the many various currents of thoughts and ideas out there. It would be understandable if America were a third world country with limited access to information but as the most powerful country in the world there is no excuse for the ignorance. – mb

  37. Right on, Joe!!! Philippine lawyers, politicians and Supreme Court justices are quirky bunch of people. What you read in law books may not what it seems.Let us be reminded Mr. Anonymous and Ms. Little Lady in Red Riding Hood are still out and about instead of being charged of invasion of privacy. The last time I check there is Privacy Law in the Philippines … naaaah … sometimes there is sometimes there is not. There is also Child Abuse Law and Child Support Law but the application of the law is weder-weder and it depends.That is what I afraid of about the Philippines. They are not only fun to be with but also scary. We will never know when they throw their law books at us foreigners.

  38. Philippine Media has to be opened to foreigners with foreign columnists and journalists. The ivy-graduate Filipino journalists are not up to par to international standards regardless their U.P. Ateneo and la Salle textbooks are authored by, who else, FOREIGNERS !!!!

  39. Filipinos have learning difficulties. They can ace exams but cannot learn from what they aced.

  40. The Brilliant Philippine Media's highlight of stupidity:1. Abu Sayaf are media-shy. Glaring Example: Ces Drilon Kidnapping News blackout. The brilliant Philippine Media were afraid it might ANGER Abu Syaf of the publicity !! ULTRA-COOL2. The silence of the lambs on outing of rape victim Nicole, picture, addresses, affidavits and all3. Another glaring idiocy of the Philippine Media, the non-analytics and cluelessness on Corona impeachment. Unlike in America where they really have some Harvard-law graduate talking their heads off.4. Oh, yeah, the brilliant Philippine Media still relies on Affidavits of guilt not on forensics. .To name a few of the many

  41. Anonymous says:

    "1. Abu Sayaf are media-shy. Glaring Example: Ces Drilon Kidnapping News blackout. The brilliant Philippine Media were afraid it might ANGER Abu Syaf of the publicity !! ULTRA-COOL"Safety of the victim is paramount."2. The silence of the lambs on outing of rape victim Nicole, picture, addresses, affidavits and all"Huh?"3. Another glaring idiocy of the Philippine Media, the non-analytics and cluelessness on Corona impeachment. Unlike in America where they really have some Harvard-law graduate talking their heads off."There was actually too much time spent on analysis of legal and political points. But more importantly, you really wanted some Harvard-law graduate talking his head off on the Corona impeachment? "4. Oh, yeah, the brilliant Philippine Media still relies on Affidavits of guilt not on forensics. "No. It relies on what is available. Affidavits or forensics or both.

  42. J says:

    I think there shouldn't be any debate now that we know that there is in fact a balance between national interest and foreigners' freedom of speech: Opinions published on blogs are not covered by the COMELEC ban. Of course, as Joe says, it will make no difference to a dumb Immigration officer, but I guess that's beyond the limits of good intention, so to speak.I appreciate MB's point and agree with him totally, but I also get where Joe is coming from. Still, as MB says, until an alternative is presented, we'll have to stick with COMELEC rules, the rationale of which is to protect the vote from any foreign influence. Personally, if I were to write this country's immigration laws, I will grant permanent residents the same rights as citizens (except the right to vote; well, I'm open to foreigners voting in local elections though). I think it is fair to differentiate foreigners who are in the Philippines to see good places, have sex, or make money from those who are emotionally invested and see the country almost as their own.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Only those people with political agendas / vested interest (specially those with machinations of compounding their wealth through corruption) are really worried of your hard hitting opinions fearing (your opinions) would be a tremendously eye- opener to the voters of their poltical shenanigans and gobbledygooks, that would absolutely spell disastrous on their pockets. I'm pretty sure your blog has been pointed out by one of these political scoundrels or aides which means that you have shot them with (your opinions) therefore, rattling them into an abyss of mental anguish, therefore, it's a big consolations for you to have a such chilling and galvanizing effects to your readers.

  44. Zion says:

    I think it's pretty stupid that foreigners aren't allowed to state their opinions regarding the elections here in the Philippines. If the Catholic Church got away with it, why can't you?P.S You are far way more Filipino than most Filipinos here in the Philippines.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Not necessarily. Good Filipino citizens are justifiably worried that some ill-intentioned foreigners might hide behind the well-intentioned ones.

  46. Anonymous says:

    To the left we have MSNBC,CBS,ABC,NBC and CNN. To the right, we have FOX News. Al Jazeera is about to expand in the US. Views from CAIR, NAACP, NAMBLA, LGBT and WBC have all been aired on TV. So what perspectives are Americans missing again?

  47. If there was a Philippine history test, majority of Filipnios would fail, JoeAm would pass with flying colors.Reading history's personalities sounds incredible. Just the same I read because not to be informed but to be entertained.

  48. That is where "intellect" comes in which Filipinos are lacking. The Filipinos still believe that PNOC is a charitable institution because the Philippine Media often publish news report that PNOC is lowering gas prices instead of "market forces".Many Filipinos still believe that Abu Sayaf are publicity-shy because the Philippine Media imposed Ces Drilon kidnapping news blackout afraid Abu Sayaf might get angry of publicity when in fact the looney Philippine Media are invited to hand-crafted beheadings of christians…. and so many more …

  49. The card-carrying citizen Filipino abroad should also not be involved in their host-country politics. If ever they have delicadeza, they should not vote at all.

  50. Safety of the victim is paramount? Or safety of their journalist compatriot? Why is it that Philippine Media publish the names of those kidnapped without even thinking of the victim's safety?Dude, name of rape victims all over the world are not published. Philippine Media knows this. That raped medical student in India was not published until the parents approved of it. THAT IS INDIA which Filipinos looked at as 4th world country."analysis of legal and political points"? Gee Whiz, the political aspect of impeachment was just totally abused. When Bill Clinton was impeached, regardless of its political nature, the American government followed the laws not on Corona where Mr. Anonymous and Mrs. Little Lady in Red Riding Hood that surreptiously stole private bank accounts are still lying in a hammock by the beach sipping Pina Coladas. That cannot happen where the Filipinos wanted to go to to study law that are plagiazrized daily."Forensics"? Lookit Ampatuan. The very same weapons of crime, the backhoe, was even used to uproot the burried vehicle of the victims. That is totally unaccdeptable. They are contaminating evidence. That is what happened to O.J. They lookit the contamination of evidences. That is why CSI wear disposable gloves so as not to contaminate the crime scene.I am not a lawyer. I am not an investigator. Do you know where I knew these from? From DEFINITELY NOT FROM 'toopid Filipino Channel (TFC) but from American Media.

  51. Al Jazeera is more relaible than Philippine Media.Wonderful thing about American Media is they have cafeteria of wings, left-wing and right-wing and center-wing to choose from.In the Philippines, there are wing-dings but better watch out not to step on someone's powerful toes.

  52. Attila says:

    In my experience Filipinos are like Americans: they don't know their own history. My collage educated Filipina wife didn't either.

  53. Attila says:

    Interesting idea. It would love to see the reaction of Filipino "right fighter" organizations' reaction. Hay Nako! They would be outraged!

  54. J says:

    South Korea allows foreign residents to vote in local elections. Even xenophobic Japan has once discussed the issue (the erstwhile ruling DPJ allows foreigners to be card-carrying members). The idea being that since they have a stake in their local communities, they should allowed to vote for their mayor or governor. But, as non-citizens, they can't vote in national elections since that already involves the nation's destiny.

  55. Attila says:

    My first task for my wife was to read about Aginaldo and the Filipino American war. She was very confused about this event. The anti Americanism and the lack of understanding of history does a great damage to the image of whites and not just Americans. From the 6 million Filipinos who were murdered by the Americans to the blood sucking imperialist Kanos who just use the Filipinos I heard so many different kind of examples. This is really awful and this mess should be cleared out. I wish I could be a Japanese for one day and provoke them and ask them why they don't hate me.

  56. MB, if communists don't have a voice on American media it's because there aren't enough of thtem to matter, in the ratings. You will find them on college stations or operating their own publications. Profit drives content in the U.S. for the major national media. But on cable there are a million different perspectives, including two channels dedicated to full time coverage of the Senate and House. I'm afraid I dont see the lack of perspectives you cite. I see tremendous variety.If there are limitations, it is in the "ignorance" column with Americans, not the media. Football and guns take precedent over history and science. But that is a subject for a different blog than this one.

  57. J, yes, you crystalize the matter well, and I agree with your approach. The key here is Immigration, not COMELEC. Immigration could say "Personal opinions are allowed foreigers under Section 1, but direct engagement in elections or funding of candidates is not. We are pleased that so many foreign residents take interest in the well-being of the Philippines." But that's not what we got. We got "If you try to influence elections in any way, you will be deported."

  58. Anon, I share the concern, actually, about foreign influence. But the solution is not to shut people up. It is to pass FOI and open politics up for inquiry, and to be vigilant (like foreigners undercover joining discussion threads to sow divisive propaganda).

  59. Thank's Zion. I don't have to work for a living so I can study during the day. 🙂

  60. Bingo. Spot on. Of course, as I recall, I detested history classes. Those were the classes where I perfected the skill of sleeping whilst my eyes still followed the Professor around as he lectured on and on and on . . .

  61. Interesting point. I agree that brutal things have been done, both American and Japanese. Filipinos are unbearably forgiving, too. I agree. Still, I'd argue that the America of today is not the America of 1898. And the Japan of 2013 is not the Japan of 1945. It would be equally remiss for Filipinos to penalize the Philippines today to exorcise past angers over historical racial brutality. The past is past.

  62. Cha says:

    Edgar,"Are we making sense?"Most likely not to everyone and not all of the time. But if we can make sense to even just any one person every once in a while, I can actually be happy with that. If that someone is able to see things differently even for just a day because of something he read here, then our efforts have not been wasted. Maybe that person will remember and carry it through to the next day. Maybe he will share that with his wife, a friend, or a colleague to whom it will also make sense.Generating and celebrating short term wins is just as important as that final victory bash. The former is what makes the latter even possible."Are we making a dent?"Probably not in the biggest way. Maybe we're even just barely scratching the surface. And this is the part where I throw in the famous Sotto..er..Kennedy quote about ripples and walls of resistance. Or maybe not.

  63. Edgar Lores says:

    Thanks, mb.What the COMELEC should now do is consider these variety of opinions and clarify their ruling.I gather you are near to the gods. Can you bend their ears?

  64. Edgar Lores says:

    Cha,What do you mean not all the time? :-)Your optimism of just affecting one person for the good is the start of Gladwell's The Tipping-Point argument. You see the ripples in the pond. I see the muddy water.I guess I am a revolutionary at heart and possess a revolutionary's impatience. Sometimes I feel so out there in my perceptions and opinions that I feel disconnected. But then I ask, why has the universe revealed itself in such a manner and at such a time?I guess the unfolding of the universe seems so slow from the perspective of one man's life.I guess – like a baby – man has to reach some stage of perfection by resisting and crying and screaming.I guess… we must soldier on.

  65. JosephIvo says:

    "Profit drives content" also means Anonymous that is right? Politically the discussions in the US seem very narrow to me. Oddities all over the pace in the US media except for political matters.

  66. That's an interesting view and I think the distinction is, what are people willing to do, sit on the sofa and watch Fox, or climb on the internet to explore and discover? The wide-ranging, deep and contrarian information is available (Atlantic, New Yorker, Economist, academic writings), but the broad masses of people are simply not politically active or deep, and the convenience culture that is America tends to put them on the sofa. I'd guess that the US has more diverse views than most. but that's not what the masses want.The political scene has hardened into political blocs that are themselves limited, for sure. There is little depth of diplomatic skill in the Congress, I fear.

  67. JosephIvo says:

    "If you try to influence elections in any way, you will be deported.". My wife is Filipina and intends to vote. As every vote counts, does this mean that I cannot influence her? Even my facial expressions might do when I look TV, does this mean that I only can look TV in a separate room? I don’t want to be deported, but this law seems to provide any immigration officer a ground to expel me. Please help.

  68. I feel your pain, bro. My wife has ideas about running for Barangay Captain (she'd make a good one). Does that mean she cannot use our money? And I cannot give her any advice whatsoever? She'll be Captain and I'll be on the beach in Santa Monica.I do think on this one Immigration needs to think a little more deeply and clarify that Section 1 of COMELEC's regulations also apply to Foreigners. Maybe drop the authoritarian demeanor and do something refined.

  69. Or better yet, do as J pointed out and go with the South Korean solution that allows foreigners to engage at local levels.

  70. HA! HA! HA! There goes Freedom of Information !!! There is freedom of information as long as information not coming from foreigners ? THIS IS PREPOSTEROUS !!! OUTRAGEOUS !!! Looks like FOI is going down the Filipino toilet. Debate in the House is not even started and COMELEC has already penned anti-FOI.

  71. "Paging Dr. Watson. Paging Dr. Watson. Is Dr. Watson in the house?"

  72. J says:

    No way! History was the only interesting class in high school!

  73. See, that's the thing about this blog. We welcome contrarian views no matter how lunatic they might be. My most interesting class was English because that's when cheerleader Judy H***** sat next to me. Whooo hoo.

  74. Anonymous says:

    What?… only been gone a few weeks and they slap you with electioneering? Take it as a compliment, now you can write about the other fun stuffs or you can go mountain biking with me.Wow!… got a lot of catching up to do.>Eric

  75. Ah, I'm a flatland road biker. Brittle bones. ahahahaha. But thanks for the invite.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Local elections YES!

  77. Anonymous says:

    "To the left we have MSNBC,CBS,ABC,NBC and CNN. To the right, we have FOX News. …."That's exactly what I mean by narrow and shallow. The same faces appear as guests on all those channels. Like I said Wall Street, democrats, republicans versus Wall Street, democrats, republicans. That's one reason why third parties have never had any traction in America."Atlantic, New Yorker, Economist." I'll grant they are left of center. But then look at how far to the right the center has moved. Now you have Counterpunch, the Nation, Mother Jones etc. Do their writers get invited to air their views on Sunday morning talk shows as much as the writers from Atlantic New Yorker and Economist? No. And it's not because they are not good writers or they are lunatics like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, John Mc Cain, Sarah Palin, etc. They are not invited because their views are not mainstream. They have a different perspective and they argue their case intelligently and so ignorant people might get confused. So let the fantasy that MSNBC is far left and Fox is far right live on. When in fact both their perspectives are just slightly off-center. Narrow and shallow; incremental change makes for stability. -MB

  78. "When in fact both their perspectives are just slightly off-center."I did a double take on that line, and upon reflection, agree with it. But the language defending the "drift" is incendiary, which hardens it into a solid wall rather than a bridgable gap. Plus the intentional blurring of news and opinion is non-professional, at least based on what I learned in journalism school.

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