What We Have Here Is a Failure to Legislate

legislature02

Is this man focused on writing good laws for the Philippines?

It is refreshing to come across articles that are candid without carping, critical yet constructive. Carl Javier, Assistant Professor at UP Diliman, composed just such an article for Rappler the other day, entitled “After Napoles“. His takeaway mirrors what JoeAm wrote a couple of blogs ago about President Aquino not being in the lead on the pork bruhaha. That makes the President complacent at best and complicit at worst.

Here’s my response to Mr. Javier’s article:

  • Yep. The President is not out in front on this, which tends to make him look like a bit player in a very bad drama. I agree with your notion that there need to be local reforms, giving provinces, cities and municipalities the taxing power to manage their own affairs, and get national government out of the business of micro-managing local activities. Representatives should be speaking FOR their constituents regarding national policy. They should not be managing local affairs through the distribution of moneys (to the favored). When local governments have means and accountability, they can spend for the right things rather than a politician’s pet projects.

I’d like to put some more mean on these bones.

ARTICLE VI:  LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT

If you read Article VI of the Philippine Constitution, you find that the charters for the House and Senate are very basic and clear. I’ve stripped the administrative protocols from the text to get down to the substance of work done by the Senate. I have left most of the financial responsibilities intact. You are welcome to drudge through the whole thing if you have an attorney’s tolerance for pain. Or you can try to grasp what Joe is talking about from the abridgment that follows.

Here is the work the Legislature is supposed to do, highlighting in particular the financial elements of the work:

  •  SECTION 17.  [Establish] an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members. . . .
  •  SECTION 18. There shall be a Commission on Appointments . . .[which] . . .shall act on all appointments submitted to it . . .
  • SECTION 20. The records and books of accounts of the Congress shall be preserved and be open to the public in accordance with law, and such books shall be audited by the Commission on Audit which shall publish annually an itemized list of amounts paid to and expenses incurred for each Member. . . .
  • SECTION 21. The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. . . .
  • SECTION 22. The heads of departments may upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President, or upon the request of either House, as the rules of each House shall provide, appear before and be heard by such House on any matter pertaining to their departments. . . .
  • SECTION 23. (1) The Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the sole power to declare the existence of a state of war. . . .
  • SECTION 24. All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. . . .
  • SECTION 25. (1) The Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content, and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law. (2) No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates. (3) The procedure in approving appropriations for the Congress shall strictly follow the procedure for approving appropriations for other departments and agencies. (4) A special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended, and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposed therein. (5) No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. (6) Discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be disbursed only for public purposes to be supported by appropriate vouchers and subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by law. (7) If, by the end of any fiscal year, the Congress shall have failed to pass the general appropriations bill for the ensuing fiscal year, the general appropriations law for the preceding fiscal year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the general appropriations bill is passed by the Congress.
  • SECTION 27. (1) Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President. If he approves the same, he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections to the House where it originated . . .  The President shall have the power to veto any particular item or items in an appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill, but the veto shall not affect the item or items to which he does not object.
  • SECTION 28. (1) The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation. (2) The Congress may, by law, authorize the President to fix within specified limits, and subject to such limitations and restrictions as it may impose, tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts within the framework of the national development program of the Government. (3) Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation. (4) No law granting any tax exemption shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress.
  • SECTION 29. (1) No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. (2) No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium. (3) All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government.
  • SECTION 30. No law shall be passed increasing the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as provided in this Constitution without its advice and concurrence.
  • SECTION 31. No law granting a title of royalty or nobility shall be enacted.
  • SECTION 32. The Congress shall, as early as possible, provide for a system of initiative and referendum, and the exceptions therefrom, whereby the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by the Congress or local legislative body after the registration of a petition therefor signed by at least ten per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters thereof.

So the Legislature has a lot of important work to do. Oversee elections, fund the nations government and audit the financial diligence. Write laws and hold hearings on matters deemed important to the nation. Confirm appointments.  Ensure that taxation is done right. Conduct some modest oversight of the Judiciary. Act on initiatives submitted by the people.

Why, oh why, with these important works on the plate are legislators engaging local agricultural or health or road-building projects?

PORK

Section 25 very clearly attempts to establish a discipline to discretionary spending.  And section 25 (6) is strikingly clear:

  • Discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be disbursed only for public purposes to be supported by appropriate vouchers and subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by law.

Now remember, this is an instruction to Representatives and Senators. The Constitution permits the writing of laws to facilitate the distribution of money, but it does not allow disregard for how money is spent. Senator Enrile and his UNA group are claiming they know nothing about how their discretionary distributions were made.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Constitutional violation, Bubba. You are RESPONSIBLE for knowing. It is your JOB to know. It’s right there in your Constitutional job description.

I was amused that Section 26 instructs taxation to be “progressive”, which to me means that the more income you make, the higher your tax rate. But I believe this is not actually the way the system works.

But I digress . . .

Section 27 gives the President a line-item veto of expenses that he doesn’t like. In effect, the President is the master discretionary spender. He can spend his own pork allotment and strike other people’s line item expenses at will.

DISCUSSION OF THE JOB OF LEGISLATING

Legislators are executives of the nation. Rather like a combination of the finance department, legal department and ethics department. The nation is the way it is because of the acts of its Legislators.

The Constitution clearly allows discretionary spending provided there are controls to stop abuse. But the laws have morphed into a nightmare, a Legislative and Executive budgetary process that has increased the amounts granted to discretionary spending while moving farther and farther away from the mandate to manage that spending responsibly.

The game-playing nature of the discretionary funds was made clear last year when Budget Secretary Butch Abad, challenged by reporters about the President’s discretionary expenses – who received money and who did not – said in effect that political favoritism is the way the game is played and we all understand that. “Cavalier” was the adjective that slipped into my mind at the time.

He is now chewing those liploose words and trying to articulate how a proposed new system will correct the deficiencies being blasted into our headlines daily. Under the proposed new system, legislators will have to include their expense wish-list in the budget, subject to line-item veto by the President. In other words, the discretion is going out of discretionary. Or, rather, the discretion moves entirely to Executive.

Well, legislators are not likely to like that, but given that the discovered abuses are a gross over-the-top insult to taxpayers and voters, they are pretty well hamstrung. The congressmen and the President  will have a hard time burying all THAT fall-out ash under the legislative carpet.

Pork has three benefits to legislators:

  1. Empowerment: They can use it to get favors and votes.
  2. Citizen Benefit: They can genuinely help their local communities.
  3. Enrichment: They can enrich themselves and their friends.

The third benefit was the recent revelation, and the legislators can be expected to focus publicly on that one. They will want to end the abuses of self-enrichment while keeping the empowerment and the citizen benefit provisions.

But inquiring minds are inclined to ask, what, really, is a national legislator doing fiddling in local affairs? Is that not the province of local officials? Ought the congressmen not be engaged fully on national affairs?

I’m reminded of one of my management principles that helped me rise in the executive world of bank commerce in the U.S.

Secondary effort, allowed to flourish, will undermine primary effort.

What this means is, people are inclined to do the things they like to do rather than the things that are hard to do, but necessary for success. So a financial guy promoted to a general management position tends to manage by looking at financial numbers rather than, say, becoming adept at invention or efficient production or skilled delegation to his staff. And the work gets narrow and important things don’t get done and he soon fails. His secondary effort, staying in his comfort zone, overwhelms important needs.

That’s our congressmen, is it not? They are busy glad-handing their friends, schmoozing with the Napoles ilk, doling out pork money and then coming back to the office and doing a rushed, slipshod job writing horrid laws like the Anti-Cybercrime junkpile now hung up on a Supreme Court temporary restraining order.

It seems to me the PRIMARY NEED of the nation is a good set of laws that advance Filipino well-being and prosperity. The management of local affairs  – deciding what projects need to be funded – is better done by the local people.

What we have here is a failure to legislate.

If we reflect a little deeper on this matter, this lack of discipline and control, we soon come to recognize that Congress has horrid work disciplines. Failure to do primary work is one. If the Legislature were a corporation it would have gone bankrupt years ago.

The committee structure and bill-proposing mechanisms are downright comical.

Some committees have more than 50 members!! If a camel is a horse designed by committee, then the Philippine legislature, asked to design a horse, would come up with a crocodile.

Well, of course, there is a reason for this. Each legislator lists his committee memberships and chairmanships on his resume and splashes it about to show what a deeply engaged representative he is. Furthermore, no one has to take a hard decision and tell someone else to his face, “No, you can’t be on this committee. We’re full.”

Bills are the same way. Each congressman draws up a list of bills he is going to write and gets that published in the record. He can tout that as evidence of his sterling work.

But most of the bills never see the light of day because there are hundreds of them and the Senate and House can only get a handful into the mill for honest consideration. So the business of bill crafting is “make work”. Effort for show, going no where.

The legislative process is so horrific that many legislators simply do not even show up at work.

AND THEY ARE NOT MISSED!!!!

Because so little quality work is being done. Show work is being done. Sloppy work. is being done.

So think about how shoddy the legislative process is. These are grown men. Attorneys, mostly. Or showmen and elegant women. They ought to occasionally ask whether they are being true to their oath, true to the people.

The pork bruhaha is forcing them to ask one specific question. Did we handle the discretionary funds right?

But a broader question needs to be asked.

Are we doing our jobs right?

If a legislator is expected to be an efficient, effective body of lawmakers working to improve the well-being of Filipino citizens then the answer is “no”. It is doing a sloppy, lazy, ineffective job. It generates almost as many Supreme Court TRO’s as it does new laws.

Why?

  • Too much dedication to secondary activities, like funding local projects. Not enough to crafting good law.
  • A committee process that is hugely inefficient and ineffective. It is for glory and show, not work.
  • A bill-proposing system that is like throwing mud against the wall to see if any of it sticks. Not enough does. And when it does emerge, it looks a lot like . . . well, mud.
  • Attendance at work is abysmal, and there is no punishment for an overabundance of absence.

So while the Legislature is in this moment of self-evaluation, maybe the examination needs to go broader and deeper than pork.  Perhaps Legislators should take this troubled moment to stop, look around, see the condition of the Philippines and say:

  • “Hey we are executive leaders of this nation. What in the Hell have we been doing diddling in local affairs while the nation lags?
  • “Let’s stop acting like the Three Stooges following Groucho Marx and pass some laws that mean something to this great land of ours:
    • FOI, anti-trust, a GOOD cybercrime bill, a new law that opens bank records for criminal investigations, laws that cut red tape instead of add to it, divorce and other laws that bring us into the kind, civil, modern world.

There is so much national work that needs to be done. So stop diddling locally for popularity and become NATIONAL leaders.

And as a part of this leadership, you might choose to take steps to host an ethical house cleaning that pressures the worst of the scurrilous lot to resign, and the rest to face stiff punishments.  You know, do exactly the thing you have NOT been doing. Act as if you were accountable to the People. And to your own conscience.

And competent.

Comments
41 Responses to “What We Have Here Is a Failure to Legislate”
  1. begalon says:

    WOW! Another one bites the dust… on a monday morning of the finest women’s US Open tennis finals.

    • Joe America says:

      ahahahahahaha, THANKS for that news flash, begalon. Cracked me up.

      • Joe America says:

        I put out the most ponderous blog about a most pompous legislature and you cut to the quick with what is REALLY important around here. On a Monday morning, especially . . .

        • begalon says:

          Haha… Glad I made your day. That one liner was accidental post since I wasnt done. Tennis is a fine sport with some problems. I remember John McEnroe gone nuts over bad line calls until he was ejected from Wimbledon. Not sure if he has something do with the new rule where electronic line call replay is now implemented.

          The pork barrel scam is akin to those bad line calls where people had enough scams over another scams where they are ready to take the government back.

  2. The Mouse says:

    The Pork scheme doesn’t make sense. It’s just a way to

    a) steal money
    b) for politicians to put their name on their “projects” as if it was their personal money that has been used.

    There is no need for pork when there are government agencies like DepEd, DPWH, DOH, DOLE, DOST, etc…… If the Pork barrel funds were redistributed to these agencies, we’ll see more improvement because there will be more funding

    The Pork barrel scheme is basically legalized vote buying

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, I agree. The nation would be a lot better off if it got rid of the cross-interests and meddling of congressmen in local affairs, or agency affairs, and if those congressmen demonstrated more skill at law-making. The Pork barrel is favor-mongering and little more. The truth has become clear, no matter how much positive spin the President and congresspeople try to put on it.

    • ella says:

      Abolish pork barrel, these so called representatives of the people are supposed to legislate and not fund projects. There are different line agencies that are supposed to deliver projects to the people and these projects should be according to what the people need and not what these line agencies have decided in Manila.

      These line agencies have presence at the barangay level or the municipal level. At the Municipal level there is a thing called Municipal development council, this body is supposed to decide what is needed and be forwarded to the different agencies at the provincial level and not to the congressman/woman.

      These congressman/woman are needed when there are laws that are supposed to be legislated not in project implementation.

      • The Mouse says:

        The Congress conveniently FORGOT that they are a legislative, not an executive. LOL.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        While I was having dinner in the sidewalk bar-b-q lean-to, I was held hostage by ‘toopid Filipino Channel also know lovingly as “TFC”. There was this lady congressman who was asked why she spent her Pork in Abra not in her home province. She said it is very common among congressmen to ……. listen to this ….. to trade pork barrel funds !!! WoW!!!! So, the House has trading floors for pork barrel funds !!!! How wonderful !!!! First in the world !!!!!

  3. manuel buencamino says:

    We have some of the best law’s in the books. It’s more a failure to enforce those laws.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Philippines do not need more legislated laws. If only the Philippines can implement and enforce 1% of the laws Philippines can surpass America in the most incarcerated nation in the world.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, when MB and Mariano are on the same page, I guess I’d better take heed. It is true that the Philippines has good laws on the books and failure to enforce them is a severe problem. It is also true that there are too many rules and regulations that cut across one another, local to national, and are the famous “red tape” that keeps investors from investing and Philippine competitiveness low. That is being addressed. But I think some big laws are missing: FOI, anti-trust, fair employment, divorce, media accountability, mining . . . perhaps others. Those are top of the mind. Laws that would open the Philippines up as a vibrant, competitive, honest nation.

      But the real point is, what is the primary work that Legislators ought to be doing? Pork projects? Or holding hearings to address why laws are not enforced?

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Legislators should be holding hearings to address why laws are not enforced instead fatting their pork into white elephants cutting off the ivories sell it in blackmarket.

      • i’m gonna copy this comment of yours and paste it when someone argues with me that we have “enough” laws, but I think anyone with the brain of a normal homo sapiens will agree that the bigger problem is enforcement in this country. Neanderthals and Homo erectus in the Philippines shouldn’t be allowed by the law to argue on the internet. BWAHAHA

  4. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Only in the Philippines where history is always repeated in the shortest possible time anywhere else in the world:
    1. Again, it took a whistleblowing witness account waiving affidavits of guilt that opened a can of PDAF worms than COA Audit Report. In the Philippines Audit Report is nada, they require whistleblowers. In 2011 DOST chief were already told by COA of fund fraud in his department but, again, I have to rub it in, it took a whistleblower than COA Audit. Why not Abolish COA on top of abolishing pork barrel?
    2. The Philippine Media is insinuating that congressmen and senators are honest as long as there is no pork barrel which is money. So in that case, abolish money altogether why stop at pork barrel and replace it with barter trading so we can go back to stone age;
    3. Aha! I have a brilliant idea. Rename pork barrel with Cash Cow. Sounds goot. Remember folks Pork barrel is not called pork Barrel It is called Philippine Development Apporpiation Fund. The abolitionist want it gone. Renaming it Cash Cow is cool. And projects should be named White Elephant
    4. We do not need Freedom of Information also known as FOI. What is there a need when we have whsitleblowers, rats and witness accounts?
    5. CIS should be manned by typists. Typists? Why Typists? Yeah, typing evidences called Affidavits. Affidavits of guilt is better than forensic evidence and COA Audit Reports.
    6. Malacanang Presidential Palace should also be renamed as PHilippine Escort Service.

    It is about time we outsource our Philippine Government. We already have honest escort provider in Malacanang. What we need are honest elected officials. Problem is elected officials do not know what they are doing are not honest. That is the problem. The pestilence of dishonesty is soooo rampant that honesty has become a crime.

    • Joe America says:

      ahahahahaha, whistleblowers and rats, ahahahaha. I should have used that term when I lectured Rappler to stop calling Snowden a whistleblower, he is a thief. “Dirty rat” would have been a better descriptor.

      I think you have some wonderful suggestions here, and am glad to see a contributor who is not just interested in bitching and moaning, but offering up a clear way forward.

  5. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    It is news like this that drives benign0 and GRP gang go berserk:

    THE WORLD’S HAPPIEST CONSUMERS Live in Indonesia. According to a new survey by market research firm Nielsen, Indonesia is the world’s most optimistic country, with a consumer confidence index of 122 points in the first quarter of the year. According to Nielsen, seven of the 10 countries with the most confidence are in Asia. The rest of the top 10 includes Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Norway. – Read more at CNBC – See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Blogs/Debt-and-Taxes/2013/05/01/Wall-Street-Dust-Up-over-Dodd-Frank-Offshore-Trading-Rule#sthash.7eqwuZvL.dpuf

  6. edgar lores says:

    1. I think I have run out of puff. I have been commenting for a year now and I feel the need to stop.

    1.1. The idea of a retreat has been simmering in my mind for some time. I thought I would take a break if certain senatorial candidates won, and they have.

    1.2. The endless misery in the Philippines and the world are for me successive mental tsunamis that have flooded my inner landscape. I need to take a break from the world — and perhaps vice-versa.

    2. The view expressed in this blog that “we create our own intellectual reality based on what we personally experience, feel and believe” is a deep and true observation. This view – let’s call it the SOH view – is several steps away from that of “my view is objectively true and absolutely real and yours is not”, an obsolete paradigm which still holds sway in all of religion and much of politics.

    2.1. In a pluralistic world, we can say that the “postmodernist” SOH view is true within the context of current ordinary wisdom.

    2.2. Underlying the SOH view are certain assumptions, such as:

    o That there is an observer.
    o That the observer has senses and a mind with which to experience and to process experience.
    o That there is a reality to be experienced that is separate from the observer.

    2.3. But note that SOH says nothing about the nature of that separate reality. No, sorry, that is not quite correct. The blog says tons about the individually perceived nature of that separate reality. It says we perceive reality subjectively and we can write down, discuss – and act upon! – our perceptions of that reality. But it perhaps admits that that separate reality is ultimately unknowable. We can see it, we can talk about it, and we can tinker with it, in the hope that our tinkering will improve it.

    2.4. To descend one level deeper, the assumptions themselves raise questions. Just looking at one side of the equation, the observer, one can ask:

    o Who is the observer?
    o Is the observer the mind?
    o What is the mind?
    o Where do the thoughts of the mind arise?
    o Does the mind really exist? If so, where is it located?
    o And if the mind does not exist, does the observer, the “I”, exist?

    2.5. So abruptly and so quickly we reach the limits of ordinary wisdom.

    3. Before I go on, let me share several realizations that have become apparent to me.

    3.1. First, cyber technology is amazing and highlights, as never before, the truth of our interdependence.

    3.2. Second, cyber technology has allowed us to establish cyber identities that are extensions of our real-world identities. I suspect we have gone past the point where our cyber identities are small offshoots of our real identities. I suspect some of us now interact with the virtual world on a greater scale than our interaction in the real world. I spend more time “talking” on the computer than talking with family and friends. And my cyber talk is a far fairer indication of who I am in my “mind”. Our cyber identities have empowered us beyond the strict confines of our homes. We do not have to shout but we can be heard around the world.

    3.3. Third, this cyber identity has merged with other identities to form virtual villages. The villages are not homogenous. They are united not necessarily by similar mindedness on issues but more by similar concerns. That is, there is no total agreement on perspectives to these similar concerns but there is agreement on the importance of these concerns as they affect our lives, our nations and the world. There may also be an unwritten agreement on the level or “style” of discourse as it pertains to expression but more to the level of the civility of the discourse itself. The SOH village deserves high recognition in that respect.

    3.4. Fourth, this cyber identity has solidified our ego. We refine our self-image as we write down our thoughts. But the crystallization may not be evolutionary. It may in fact be the opposite. The refinement may cement our bias. True change usually comes from internal realizations, from self discovery, but only if one is open to alternate realities.

    3.5. Fifth, we use words, language, to express our thoughts. But language is symbolic, it is a code. While it is a common code, it is also a personal code. And so while we think we are sharing common views, we really may not be. Think of the words “morality”, “contraception”, “right” and “wrong” singly or in combination.

    3.6. But the deepest realization I have is that all the troubles of the world stem from a lack of “morality”, a common understanding of secular morality to be exact. I know this is a simple reduction of the world’s problems to a single-cause. I could have said “ignorance” and that would be accurate as well. But “secular morality” narrows it down to men behaving not just unwisely but badly. And not just men individually but also institutions, churches, governments and nations. There are, in certain instances, not just ignorance but malice aforethought. True, “malice aforethought” may be the result of ignorance, but let us not quibble about semantics.

    3.7. Think about it, think about the issues of the day. Ampatuan massacre. Cybercrime Law. RH Law. FOI. The Church. Senators. Pork barrel scam. Drones. NSA surveillance. China. Syria. All of these are, at their roots, moral issues.

    4. Ironically, the next journey I wish to embark on is the shattering of the identity, cyber or otherwise. I would like to explore “ego death”.

    4.1. For my study, I have several books, several online publications, one online course in particular, meditation and my “practice” in relationships. And I have my “mind”, whatever that is and wherever it may be.

    4.2. I see myself as an ordinary man, and I have always thought, “If I cannot attain enlightenment, how can anyone else?” But even on this question, there is a subtlety in motivation. Is my intent to prove myself, thus solidifying the ego? Or is my intent one of selfless well-being, to take the journey in a spirit of discovery, of enjoying the journey wherever it takes me regardless of destination? And is a “journey” really necessary? A journey is a travel in space and time, both of which have many dimensions. Of time, there is past, present and future. That is chronological time. But there is also the psychological time of our identities. Mystics have suggested it is in the latter time where we find non-self.

    4.3. Krishnamurti sums it best for me: “If the reformer, the contributor to the solution of the world’s problems, has not radically transformed himself, if he has had no inner revolution of values then what he contributes will only add further to conflict and misery.”

    4.4. This is not to deny the value of blogging, which for me is to wake up people from their slumber and let their dissonant voices be heard. I know it has served me well and I hope it is the same for you too. It may be part of the trajectory of evolution – cosmic and personal — toward higher forms of consciousness and of Filipino consciousness in particular. It is part of the music of the universe.

    5. Thank you for the companionship on this leg of my journey. Joe Am has provided the springboard for our interaction and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities he has afforded, both in the pieces I have contributed and in the latitude of the comments I have made. This blog differs from others in its analytical and prescriptive tone; others are simply condemnatory. It has been an honor. And fun.

    5.1. I will not name names. All the comments – positive and negative – have contributed to the “practice”. The “negative” comments have been particularly helpful as invitations to analyze the emotions and reasons for one’s reactions. My life has been made immeasurably richer as a result. (But, see, even this is accumulation of ego!) It is truly difficult to go beyond long-held certitude, to be completely honest, and to ask, “What is the truth here?”

    5.2. I may not be totally silent during my retreat on this and other sites. If the “provocation” is great, I may react. Or not. (There is a view that opinions and beliefs constitute “identity” and are attachments that hinder the path to enlightenment.)

    5.3. May you all continue to sing. Above all, may you all be happy. 🙂

    P.S. I would have preferred to bow out on a piece that does not have Pacquiao as its cover. But it is ever thus in a world of binaries.

    • Joe America says:

      Edgar,

      You have given this blog, this editor, and our many readers, your heart and your mind, candid and kind. You have given the article content depth when it was shallow, wisdom when it was off the mark, and calm when it was shrill. Ha, and you have given it numbers and order when otherwise it would be chaos. It is always understood that any guest is here for his time and space, at his choice and interest. I trust that you will stop by occasionally, maybe peek a read in the background (a couple of interesting ones coming up), and will not suffer any undue withdrawal symptoms. And of course I wish you the very very best in your reflections and in your life.

      Thanks, good friend.

      Joe

      • Abe says:

        Edgar,

        Truly, my universe will miss you and the wisdom you shared with us. Spending more time with the family is the moral ascendancy you have learned in this blog. Wish you the best and come visit us sometimes.

        Abe

    • andrew lim says:

      @Edgar

      We eagerly await your reflections during your retreat, specially on secular morality. I leave you with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (in physics, but can be applied in philosophy as well) which states that you alter whatever it is you are observing by the mere act of observing or measuring it.

      Stated differently, there is a limit to the accuracy you can measure say, both the position and momentum of something. The more accurate you determine the position, the less accurate you can determine its momentum. And vice versa.

      Applied to politics or philosophy, the more sharply defined your position, the more uncertainty you will have on how others will react to your position. ha ha ha ha

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks, Andrew.

        I have in fact used the Copenhagen interpretation of superimposition — the “wave function collapse” — to arrive at a synthesis of religions. Basically, superposition suggests the possibility of multiple universes and I posit that each universe may support the cosmology of each religion, such that the heavens of all religions are “true” and co-existent although in separate parallel universes. Heavens do exist. 😉

    • Joseph-Ivo says:

      😦 We will miss you so much. A philosopher in a world ruled by “scientists”. Explaining us that the world is more than measurable facts. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

      PS: Can I recommend the concept of model dependent realities as explained in “The Grand Design” by Stephen Hawkins ,2010. This only in the hope it might help you to change your mind and support us with new views again..

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks, Joseph.

        I’ll have a read. There was a time when everybody was carrying a copy of “A Brief History of Time”, but I never got into it. Currently I am reading Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” alongside with Thich Nhat Hanh’s “the Art of Power”.

        Hawkin’s hope for a complete theory seem to be at odds with Godel’s second Incompleteness Theorem as it relates to an understanding of the paradox of consciousness…I don’t really understand what I am spouting, but I do want to gain clarity and, if that is not attainable, it’s good to go off with a bang. 🙂

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      OMG, Ed … we are going to miss you, The Great Enumerator ! Hope you drop by now and then … we are just nine keystrokes away and hit enter.

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks, Mariano. I expect you will keep everyone on their toes and, with your unique instincts and perspectives, continue to highlight the obscure, if not hidden, links between elite schools and deviant students, between persons of high authority and their low acts, and between scientific crime-busters and perspiring low-tech NBI agents. And all with your rapid-fire stream-of-unconscious englistsches and the wonderfully misspelled but somehow more turned-out-to-be-meaningful modifiers.

  7. brianitus says:

    Uncle Joe, if the Philippines was a corporation and I was instituting corporate reform, I’d rightsize government and declare congress as a redundant position. Imho, maybe it’s really time for this country to analyze the kind of government it needs. I just feel that the politicians that followed after the 1987 constitution are not as idealistic as its framers. Instead of deciding to become “enablers” for the rest of the “free” Philippines of 1986, the situation for them appeared as just an opportunity for enrichment. The pigs eventually decided that it was OKAY to walk on two legs, like the first pig that went before them.

    Anyway, picked these up from what you wrote:

    Pork has three benefits to legislators:
    Empowerment: They can use it to get favors and votes.
    Citizen Benefit: They can genuinely help their local communities.
    Enrichment: They can enrich themselves and their friends.

    The second benefit cited isn’t even consistent. I think it’s more like this:

    Let’s use pork to get votes, and enrich ourselves on the side, AND PRAY that some leftover cash might actually end up as a real project that has a 30% chance of helping people. If no one complains, let’s just stick to getting votes and enriching ourselves.

    I’d like to buy into the thinking that the president needs pork, in any form, to push congress and the senate. However, after 3 years of the current administration, is there really anything in the form of much needed groundbreaking legislation that we can see? I can still see you writing the same items on your legislative wishlist. So, why do we really need pork in the budget again?

    • Joe America says:

      Hi, young whippersnapper. Your last question makes a sharp statement.

      My answer: WE the citizens don’t need pork. The politicians do because they can’t get support honestly through ideas.

      I think citizens are starting to get the picture now, and are tired of being ripped off. It is up to us to keep pushing, because there is little pull from the government.

      I once wrote a blog that advocated a corporate structure for government. The President as chief operating officer. A single small body of quality, intelligent people as the congress or board of directors. As a double-check on the President, and providing overall strategic direction.

      It is all too far a stretch for today’s everyday citizens, I think. Too dramatic. So I dropped back to agitate for getting the current structure in order.

  8. bebot says:

    No matter how we look at it from any angle, most of the legislative members are in senate and congress for self- vested interest, to look after No 1, and serving the public is on the very bottom of their agenda. Whatever we say, opine or claim won’t shake these bloody suckers – morally corrupt, no conscience, no patriotic aspirations / inclinations for the country and the people – its like a curse these despicable politicians are. I am of the belief that we are wasting our effort, time and breathe hoping against hope that they would listen to our economic and political grievances but to no avail. The Juan de la Cruz is already drowning, grasping for its last breathe but these bloody politicians don’t / won’t even cast a glance on his directions especially those involve in the PDAF scam. I’m really losing hope for my beloved country and yet……..

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, it took this pork episode for me to realize exactly what motivates a great many legislators. Greed, for authority and money. The whole idea of public service is a fraud.

  9. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I want to say one thing to Filipinos. I want you to listen to me. I want to say this again, “I do not have relationship with that woman, Jenny Napoles, I never told anybody to lie a single time that I know her or have picture of her. This allegation is false I need to go back to work to dispense Pork Barrel Fund.

    She called me. She wanted me, as President of Republic of the PHilippines, to meet her at a lonely cemetery to pick her up which I did not. I sent Lacierda, my Chief of Staff. Lacierda brought her to me. I did Escort Service to her in my bullet-proof presidential command car followed by glitter of blinking lights and wang-wang of my hand-picked phalanx of highly-trained presidential security guard to deliver Ms. Napoles. And most of all to deliver a MESSAGE, without really saying anything that, Ms. Napoles should be handled with care with extra meal in prison.

    After I left NBI agents fell from the sky and resgined. Let me tell the Filipino people, I did not tell them to resign. I just came to deliver Ms. Napoles. That is all.

    Questions from the media, please. Of course, you people from mainstream media donot question my action or else…… or else……

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      GUILTY BY PICTURE !!! GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION !!!
      There you are folks, next time if you guys steal big time be ready with your smartphone camera. Take plenty of pictures. Pictures in bed. Pictures in Car. Kissy-kissy pictures. beso-beso pictures. Pictures with all the senators, congressmen and all elected officials …. POST IT IN FLICKER AND FRIENDSTER. AND YOU BECOME UNTOUCHABLE. Even benigno Aquino, just in case you people do not know, IT IS YOUR PRESIDENT, went out in the middle of the night in the cemetery to coax Janet nipples out.

      So, people, Benigno Aquino is 24/7/365 accessible. Benigno Aquino entertained a person who he claimed that he doesn’t know from Adam and just the same Malacanang was lit up, breakfast served and off they went escorting scammers and absconders to NBI.

      If you have the picture. If you have stealed. Call Benigno Aquino. He doesn’t know you but he is always at your service. Just show him the picture with him. He’ll shudder and knees turn to jell-o. Just donot tell them it is coming from me. OK? Because I got a picture of you.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      If pictures doesn’t get you, Affidavits will ! And that is for sure. This is the Philippines.

      • Joe America says:

        Cemetery in the middle of the night. Mr. President is on the job 24/7.

        I need to do a blog on the distinction between skepticism and cynicism and sarcasm and ridicule. I think you cover all bases well.

        Janet nipples, eh?

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