Groupthink in the Supreme Court

Justice Antonio Carpio [Photo source: GMA News]

By Edgar Lores

 

“The most important qualification of a judge is independence, not brilliance.” – Justice Antonio Carpio

Introduction – Of Progressives and Retrogressives

American politics is governed by two isms, Liberalism and Conservatism. In the US Supreme Court, justices belong to either of the two persuasions. And their respective persuasions form and inform their judicial decisions.

In contrast, Philippine politics and the Supreme Court (SC) justices at Padre Faura are not so governed. Filipinos, in general, are not enamored of abstract ideas and, politically, seldom identify with any ism. We are guided by our emotions. If at all, we primarily identify and align ourselves with personalities.

We mark ourselves not by isms but by color.

In trying to understand our justices, I have, in my past remarks, divided the SC justices into two groups: Progressives and Retrogressives. [1][2]

To me, the hallmark of the Progressives is their possession of that “most important qualification of a judge” as discerned by Justice Carpio in the epigraph. They are independent thinkers with an intuitive grasp of fairness and a native sense of justice that has been finely honed. They are internally guided by their moral compasses and are unswayed by outside influences.

Conversely, the hallmark of the Retros is the noticeable absence of that most important qualification. As the case may be, they are beholden to their appointing power, to the current holder of that power, or to power brokers such as the Solicitor General of Ferdinand Marcos, Estelito Mendoza. [3][4]

I previously identified the Progressives as composed of the first 4 justices listed below. [1] I have since added, as the 5th, the last associate justice appointed by President Benigno Aquino.

  1. Antonio Carpio (148)
  2. Maria Lourdes Sereno (169)
  3. Estela Perlas-Bernabe (171)
  4. Marvic Leonen (172)
  5. Alfredo Caguioa (174)

(The numbers in parenthesis after each name denote the justice’s appointment sequence or seniority. [5])

All the Progressives were appointed by President Aquino, with the exception of Justice Carpio who was chosen by his predecessor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). In my opinion, this goes to prove that good can come from evil. Also, in my opinion, all the rest of the justices are Retros, although I am keeping an open mind on Justice Francis Jardeleza.

In the composition of the court at the time of writing, the Retros include the following:

  • Five (5) who were appointed by President Arroyo
    •  Presbiterio Velasco, Jr. (157)
    • Teresita Leonardo de Castro (160)
    • Diosdado Peralta (162)
    • Lucas Bersamin (163)
    • Mariano del Castillo (164)
  • One (1) by President Aquino
    • Francis Jardeleza (173)
  • Four (4) by President Rodrigo Duterte
    • Samuel Martires (175) [NB. Appointed as Ombudsman on July 27, 2018.]
    • Noel Tijam (176)
    • Andres Reyes (177)
    • Alexander Gesmundo (178)

With the recent ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the number of Progressives has been reduced to a minority of 4 out of a full bench of 15 justices.

The Co-optation of the Judiciary

In the two years that Duterte has presided at Malacañang, there have been several controversial rulings by the Supreme Court that undoubtedly curry favor with the palace occupant.

Like the strongman Marcos and the strongwoman Arroyo before him, Duterte has successfully co-opted the other two branches of government, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

The co-optation of the Legislature is not a remarkable feat given our culture of turncoatism. In the absence of ideology-based political parties, unprincipled congressmen flock to join the winning party of the elected president… and to dip their snout in the replenished trough. This happens regularly with every change of administration.

The co-optation of the Judiciary, however, is another matter. It does not occur as inevitably, immediately, or as smoothly. It is usually achieved through time by gaming the system, specifically by stacking the High Court with presidential favorites.

Since the Marcos era, most presidents have managed to appoint a full bench, or more than one, over the period of their term. The two exceptions were Presidents Joseph Estrada and Aquino fils. [5]

  • Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for 21 years, named 32 justices.
  • Corazon Aquino named 19.
  • Fidel Ramos, 14.
  • Arroyo, who served as president for 10 years, 21.
  • Duterte has named 4 so far and is expected to name at least another 11.

However, in the case of Duterte, who has been in power for a mere two years, the co-optation has been achieved by more than stacking. It has been achieved through an extraordinary stroke, by the forced removal of sitting Chief Justice Sereno. Not by the impeachment of Congress as mandated by the Constitution but by the Supreme Court that, in the words of Justice Caguioa, committed seppuku on itself.

Just two months before her unceremonious disposal, Sereno was denounced by Duterte for charging him with judicial interference. The interference could be plainly inferred from the unusual time and effort the Duterte-controlled Lower House devoted to the Sereno impeachment hearings. The Chief Justice held her peace until the Solicitor General, one Jose Calida, filed a Quo Warranto petition against her. The Quo Warranto was a last-ditch effort resorted to when the Duterte administration foresaw that the impeachment might not prosper in the Senate. Stung by the unprecedented legal attack, Sereno hurled her charge. In response, Duterte issued a denial and publicly avowed, “I am now your enemy.” [6] The rest is history.

I am certain the irony of the charge, the sham denial, and the decollation has been lost on the Retros.

Here, we see the pattern of state violence and assassination inherent in Duterte’s terrorist-murderer mindset. He employs the Philippine National Police (PNP) as hatchet men in his Drug War. And he pushes the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary, the Solicitor General, and the Supreme Court justices as hatchet men against his female critics. A difference among the assassins is that a few are more learned than the others. Another difference is that a few of the learned wear judicial robes.

This “extra-constitutional judicial coup” of a Chief Justice is the first of its kind in the country’s history. Six years earlier, this was preceded by another historical first: the impeachment of the ill-fated GMA-midnight-appointee, Chief Justice Renato Corona, in 2012.

The judicial coup highlights a lingering weakness in the Judiciary, a kowtowing of the majority of the justices to the man in the palace and to power brokers.

But independence, as described by Justice Carpio, is an individual virtue. To be sure, it can be a collective one as well.

Yet the lack of independence in the Retros appears to be more than utang-na-loob to their benefactors and more than a confluence of individual vices. It appears to be an ingroup culture phenomenon. One that is based not only on the pressure of extra-judicial forces but also on an intra-judicial dependence of the justices leaning on and buttressing each other. One, moreover, that can be said to be a conspiracy without the sharing of a common philosophy. Just the sharing of ambition, power, and personal interests.

The question arises: Is there a better explanation, other than dependence, for the cabal-like machinations of the Retros?

I suggest the answer is groupthink.

Groupthink is “the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, resulting typically in unchallenged, poor-quality decision-making.”

Groupthink is the exact opposite of critical thinking. It is noncritical conformity.

It speaks of the Filipino traits of pakikisama (dealing) and sunod-sunuran (subservience).

Groupthink pervades the High Court in many of its major decisions. This is made very clear when we examine six controversial decisions passed down in the two years of Duterte’s reign.

The reason for examining these six cases is not to refute the flimsy legal logic that underpins the rulings. The flimsiness is a given. The reasons are to shed light on the political milieu that makes the rulings possible and the judicial culture that makes them inevitable.

The Six Controversial Rulings

The six rulings that are judicial gossamer are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Six Controversial Supreme Court Rulings

All the rulings have been assailed to be flimsy by national if not international quarters.

Except for the Mindanao martial law ruling, five of the six cases pertain to individuals. Of the five, three are for friends (Enrile, Arroyo, and Marcos) and two are for foes (De Lima and Sereno).

The decisions reveal how the supposedly iron-clad, dictator-proof anti-martial law provisions of the 1987 Constitution were so easily thwarted; how friends of the administration are treated with undeserved compassion; and how foes are visited with undeserved insult and injury.

The Mindanao decision is perilous in the SC’s full acceptance of the scope of martial law. It shows that the justices are not made of sterner stuff than their apathetic brothers in Congress who refused to convene “within twenty-four hours,” as laid out in the Constitution, to review the proclamation of martial law.

In the Marcos case, the SC has awarded free throws to the Marcos historical revisionism team in their campaign to rehabilitate the dictator from a heel into a hero… and to return the ghost to Malacañang.

In the Enrile and Arroyo plunder cases, the Judiciary is not only seen to be allowing the spell of impunity to reign by omission. It is seen to be abetting impunity by commission, by freeing malefactors. Pardon me, alleged malefactors.

As a direct result of the Arroyo release — specifically in the innovative legal doctrine of “no mastermind” espoused in Bersamin’s ponencia — Senator Jinggoy Estrada is now free on bail. [7] There are troubling signs that Senator Bong Revilla may soon be free.

The other consequence of the Arroyo release is that it has allowed her to rise miraculously from her hospital bed and re-enter the central arena of power as the Speaker of the Lower House. She is now the third in line to succeed a sick president. The Speaker of the Senate, the comedian Senator Tito Sotto, is the second.

The Sereno case, as we have seen, is a dagger plunged into the heart of judicial independence.

In the De Lima case, there is the political persecution of an early Duterte critic on the basis of a fictitious charge. If there is any doubt in your mind that Duterte and the majority of the justices are not good men (and a woman), imagine yourself in De Lima’s plight. An innocent deprived of liberty for more than 500 days… with no end in sight. The abuse is unspeakable.

Groupthink Tabulation and Index

The “Figure 2. Groupthink Tabulation” below presents the justices who participated in the six controversies.

There are 19 justices altogether. However, only 11 participated in at least 5 of the cases due to the high turnover in the court. Of the four justices appointed by Duterte, two (Martires and Tijam) were able to participate in 4 cases; and the other two (A. Reyes and Gesmundo) were limited to 2 cases.

Figure 2. Groupthink Tabulation

Very briefly, the spreadsheet can be read as follows:

1 Vertically, from left to right, the columns list the justices, the appointing president, the six cases, and a tally of the minority and majority opinions. The last column shows the Net Groupthink Index (“Net GT”). This is calculated as the difference between the Minority opinion tally and the Majority opinion tally.

2 Horizontally, there are three broad bands. Two separate the Independent Thinkers from the Groupthinkers. The last contains the Legend which explains the columnar codes.

2.1 Essentially, the Independents are the Progressives and the Groupies are the Retros.

3 The names of the justices are arranged by (a) the Net Group Index and (b) seniority.

4 The pivotal feature of the spreadsheet is the Net Groupthink Index. It is either a positive or negative number, or zero.

4.1 A positive number or zero means that a justice is an Independent.

4.2 A negative number means he is a Groupie.

4.3 The magnitude of the index shows how deeply – highly or lowly — a justice is rated in either group. A positive six (+6) is the best and a negative six (-6) the worst.

We observe:

  1. The remarkable thing about the classification is the consistency in the composition of each group in the six rulings.
  2. Three of the 5 Independents earn a perfect score of +6. Sereno garners only +5 because she was the subject of the 6th case.
  3. Interestingly, Perlas-Bernabe has a zero score. She is a borderline Independent by virtue of the number of separate opinions she has written, a total of 4 out of the 6 cases.
  4. The 3 Groupthinkers who earn a perfect score of -6 are De Castro, Peralta, and Bersamin. These three associate justices happen to be the front-runners for the top job. Peralta is the ponente of the Marcos case, while Bersamin authored the Enrile and Arroyo cases. Looking at their retirement timelines, the chalice may be passed to De Castro, who retires in October, as a consuelo de bobo. Mindful of Duterte’s misogynism, my money is on Bersamin, who retires 3 years earlier than Peralta.
  5. Samuel Martires, who has a high Groupthink score of 4, has been promoted to be the new Ombudsman.

Let me now bring in the Participation Rate.

The Participation Rate

A metric of Groupthink is what I call the Participation Rate (PR), which is presented in Figure 3. This is calculated as the ratio of written opinions, whether concurring or dissenting, over the number of cases participated in by each justice.

A written opinion is significant. It tells us that a justice has given serious thought to a case and has crystallized individual reasons separate from those covered by the main majority or minority decisions.

Figure 3. Participation Rate

A high PR is a badge of an Independent. However, this is not always the case. A Groupie may have a high PR but it would simply mean that he is a leader rather than a follower.

It is to be noted that all Independents have a PR of at least 67%. All are leaders in their own right.

Eleven of the 14 Groupies have PRs of 50% and below. The leaders, with PRs of 67% and above, are Peralta, Bersamin, Martires, Tijam, and Brion. Tijam, of course, was responsible for the legal abomination that ousted Sereno.

Among the pre-Aquino justices, De Castro, Del Castillo, and Velasco have the lowest PRs.

The impertinent question might be asked: Given that the Independents seemingly form a group just like the Groupies, can they be classified as Groupthinkers with a positive bent? No, not by definition.

A pertinent question to ask is: Apart from poor-quality decisions, what other attributes does Groupthink have?

Let us examine this question.

The Attributes of Groupthink

Groupthink theory was developed by Irving Janis, a research psychologist from Yale University, in 1972. The term itself is coined from Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984).” [8]

Janis uses the theory to explain government disasters such as the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the Bay of Pigs in 1961. The theory has been adopted to analyze failures in elections (Clinton 2016), in the corporate world (Enron collapse), in religion (Jonestown), in law enforcement, in sports (Penn State Cover-up), and in the space program (Challenger shuttle explosion).

The psychology literature is vast and centers around antecedents, symptoms, causes, and the prevention of the phenomenon. [9]

The theory has its own jargon such as “illusion of invulnerability,” “illusion of morality,” and “illusion of unanimity.”

Given the complexity of the subject, I would like to extract and condense ten attributes from my readings as they apply to the Supreme Court milieu.

  1. The issues confronting the group, as a whole, are complex.
  2. The group exercises an almost monopoly over their function.
  3. There are an ingroup and an outgroup. The SC justices number 15, a very small group, but big enough to develop a subgroup.
  4. The ingroup is a tribal collective that is collaborative and collusive in behavior. The “illusion of unanimity” leads to the “illusion of invulnerability.”
  5. There are rogue members who are seriously flawed in an intellectual and moral sense. They become the leaders.
  6. A predominating motivation is a loyalty that is allied with identification. There is vertical identification with authority and lateral identification with the team.
  7. Another predominating motivation for the ingroup is self-interest. The rewards for deviancy are great.
  8. Outward-directed and inward-directed loyalty overwhelms critical thinking. A collective confirmation bias and a tendency to self-censorship creep in.
  9. Loyalty also overwhelms moral inhibitions and contributes to a no-holds-barred environment. Normal rules of morality and decency do not apply. Group values are not only expedient but right and good as well, leading to the “illusion of morality.” There is a dehumanization process against the outgroup within and outside the operating environment. There is no empathy for the victims.
  10. The ingroup as a whole is responsible for decisions, which means that no one is responsible.

Conclusion

Lest groupthink is assumed to be all bad, it has its bright side. Arguably, successful endeavors, such as religions, are the result of groupthink.

However, groupthink is an infirmity and, like any malaise, it is multifactorial. It arises from ignorance, ambition, greed, loyalty, the need to belong, and the need to be led. In the Judiciary, it is fostered in a political milieu governed by the Rule of Power.

Groupthink is not only confined to the Judiciary. It pervades the two houses of Congress, the Executive, the LGUs, and social media. Indeed, the entire country.

It is to be conceded that the politicization of the Judiciary is a consequence, to a degree, of the appointing power resting with the Executive. I believe that where the president has a hand in the selection of justices, the independence of the judiciary will always be at risk.

This is despite the creation of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), in the 1987 Constitution, that was designed to preserve the independence of the judiciary.

In the US, justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by a simple majority of the Senate. This, in theory, negates total loyalty to the president.

In Australia, it is the Governor General, the Head of state appointed by the Queen, who appoints the justices of the Supreme court. Justices are thus one or two degrees removed from the government of the day.

But no system is perfect. And the workings of government will invariably depend on the character of men. We commit a great disservice to democracy by the cultivation of a culture of yes-men.

There can be – there are – Carpios. And Serenos. And Leonens.

What must then change is the mindset.

Judges once they become justices of the Supreme Court must not be beholden to the appointing power. They must sever the bonds that secure them to their secret fraternal brothers. They must cast off their ties to partisan groups. If necessary, they must even free themselves from the limiting perspectives of their philosophies, if any.

Like Lady Justice, they must blindfold themselves in order to see… clearly, independently, and supremely.

***

Sources:

[1] https://joeam.com/2015/08/13/the-2016-election-is-about-philippine-character-and-china/#comment-131864
[2] https://joeam.com/2015/08/19/the-supreme-court-ruling-on-enrile-shames-the-philippines/#comment-132028
[3] https://www.rappler.com/nation/198050-supreme-court-retrenchment-valid-philippine-airlines-fasap
[4] https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/166650-estelito-mendoza-plunder-cases-sandiganbayan
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supreme_Court_of_the_Philippines
[6] http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/04/09/president-rodrigo-duterte-chief-justice-sereno.html
[7] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/931162/pork-barrel-scam-jinggoy-estrada-ramon-revilla-jr-juan-ponce-enrile-bong-revilla
[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink
[9] https://www.coursera.org/lecture/communicationtheory-academia-practice/groupthink-ZstQb

 

Comments
91 Responses to “Groupthink in the Supreme Court”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    Utang ng loob and pakikisama should be changed to buo ang loob. Integrity then would lead to independence.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Pakikisama” is mateship or comradeship. “Loob” is inside or our inner self.

      If we had “pakikisama sa loob” or “comradeship with our inner self,” then we would have integrity. Buo ang loob.

      And integrity would lead to independence.

      I cannot fault the logic.

      Thanks, Karl.
      *****

  2. I think one of President Aquino’s bigger mistakes, one that can be judged only on hindsight, and therefore not critically, is not going with Justice Carpio as Chief Justice. The Court would likely still be respected today.

    I particularly enjoy the tabulations in Table 2. I think there are two, possibly three, justices that could prove independent under an independent Court (but possibly not the current Court). Those would be Jardeleza (especially with Sereno gone), de Castillo, and possibly Reyes.

    It is tragic, the path the Court has taken.

    • Ong-Lo says:

      There’s no certainty that SC will be spared from Dutz’ assault had BA put Carpio at the helm. They can always find issue, no matter how petty, and the mob within the SC will still prevail. We’re on a dark period where even our hindsight may not work.

      • There is no certainty to anything. Sereno’s relative youth killed her. Old Filipinos struggle to take direction from youngsters who have not had to struggle as they did. Also, Gadon would have looked foolish trying his same stunts with Carpio. That said, yes, I agree it is a dark period.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Jardeleza, to me, is a tragic figure. Here is an upright man with a fine reputation that could not overcome the tragic flaw of Filipinos — being too emotional. He could not overcome his spite.

      Speaking of mistakes, President Aquino may have made another mistake in naming Jardeleza. Some are under the impression that the President was going to name Grace Pulido Tan to the bench. Jardeleza got in because the SC overruled the JBC in their exclusion of Jardeleza’s name in the shortlist… and, probably, the President felt indebted to Jardeleza. I speculate that utang-na-loob probably raised its ugly head.

      I wish PNoy would write a book, as is the tradition in the US, or that somebody would interview him.

      I agree that Carpio would have made a fine Chief Justice. I disagree that the President made a mistake in appointing Sereno. I think the mistake was that the Retros did not have enough bandwidth in their character to appreciate her.

      I will note that even Leonen joined the anti-Sereno mob at one point, but we all have our lapses.

      It may be that the Court would still be held in respect if Carpio were at the helm. But we do not know if Carpio, had he been made Chief, would have had the leisure to devote his time to the WPS issue and win the Arbitration case. In a way, Carpio’s lost was the nation’s gain. But that gain is being wasted away.

      Strange are the pathways that history takes.
      *****

  3. Thanks, Edgar. Groupthink is not only in the Supreme Court but in much of Philippine society.

    Like the “everybody knows De Lima is a drug lord, including my folks in Canada” from someone.

    Once the group has established an opinion like that or “yellows are bad” better not deviate.

    Expect to be shut out of many informal matters, at least. The barangay has decided it’s direction.

    Especially if it comes from recognized authority. For example from Duterte’s infallible drug list.

    Any wonder Filipinos are susceptible to joining sects? Even sects disguised as schools of thought.

    Or civic movements, like VACC, which is more of an anti-Aquino sect. But when is stuff objective?

    Only when people see beyond group, towards right or wrong. The likes of Carpio, Leonen, Hilbay do.

    Even yellow can have groupthink. Isn’t it hard or unpopular to recognize the times Nancy is right?

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Irineo, thanks too.

      Yes, the groupthink mindset is hard to break.

      The feature of groupthink — that I wanted to discuss with you in relation to the conundrum in the previous blog — is the ingroup/outgroup attribute.

      The ingroup is “kami” and the outgroup is “kapwa.” You say it’s complicated and, I agree, there are nuances.

      1. In the case of that Kuwaiti Instagram star and Claire Danes, the ingroup is all Filipinos and the outgroup are foreigners.

      2. In the case of PNoy, Persida Acosta and Dengvaxia, the ingroup are the Duterte supporters and the outgroup are the dilawans. But apart from groupthink, there is the element of the idolatry of the Poon. Groupthink is driven by authority figures. This is why I said I had two answers: groupthink and idolatry.

      3. The same explanation as in item 2 above goes with VACC and the people they harass.

      4. But a difficulty arises with the Mamasapano case of PNoy and the SAF 44. Clearly, PNoy is the outgroup (or out-person to be more exact). But who comprises the ingroup? There are the families of the victims, Senator Grace Poe, Walden Bello, Ellen Tordesillas, Noemi Dado, and bloggers like Parekoy who were hysterical in their criticism.

      4.1. It seems that the ingroup can be formed at a moment’s notice. And yet, PNOY was also the continued object of criticism by Tordesillas, Noemi Dado, and GRP. I am not sure you can call these people an ingroup. They do not exhibit cohesiveness.

      4.2. So there is another dynamic working here. The negativeness of Filipinos, the lack of objectivity, the myopia in perspective.
      *****

      • small correction: kami is the ingroup and kayo is the outgroup. Tayo would be everybody, at least those being spoken to at the moment. Kapwa is fellow human being – it can be just the tribe if you are a headhunter, everyone except adik and dilaw if you are DDS, all people..

        And yes, there is another kind of feeling between the revulsion the DDS has against PNoy and the entire “dilawan” group and those who say “I can’t stand Leila de Lima, BUT what is happening to her is unjust”. Now why the hell have such strong feelings for a stranger?

        It is quite well-known that Filipinos personalize so many things. There are lodis and culprits. Probably a weakness of personality with many, of not being “buo ang loob” = whole inside? What Joe has called neediness/needfulness. A need for magical figures to love and to hate?

        Someone who is truly whole inside will not emotionally care that much about the one on top. What he or she will care about is how the country is run, at the very least his/her own life.

        Just as a mature person doesn’t care that much who wins Big Brother, or Top Model.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Thanks for the correction.

          Are Filipinos over-invested in politics? It could very well be. Here, in Oz, election campaigns are lowkey. I used to laugh when I saw candidates for Parliament handling out leaflets at the train station, alone by themselves without any fanfare. No loudspeakers, no dancing girls, no celebrities.
          *****

        • The opposite of “kapwa” is “iba” = “Others”. Others for the poor man can be anyone who speaks English too well, lives in a subdivision or otherwise is seen as not getting his life. Troll campaigns to malign VP Leni’s daughter for going to Harvard are about making her look like “Others”, to make her look like a phony and not truly close to the people. “Others” can even be someone who went to UP and then worked abroad, not as the typical OFW but for the United Nations or otherwise suited. Or went to Wharton and worked at a NY bank.

          For someone who made it from Tondo to SolGen like Florin Hilbay, Manny Pacquiao will not be “Others” – even if Manny had it much harder. For those who know the middle class life behind gated communities, Manny Pacquiao might be an “other” always, not truly liked, while for the OFW communities abroad who come from humble beginnings, Pacquiao and his new wealth is exactly the role model they have. I think Filipino myopia exists on all sides.

          All those emotions have come together recently, somewhat like a nuclear chain reaction.

  4. andrewlim8 says:

    Another tour de force from the Society of Honor! To be bookmarked and consulted repeatedly in the future.

    All these- the low quality of the people we put in power- both from an intellectual and moral standard- are indications of a lowered standard, a dumbing down of a society weighed down by its own ignorance, its poverty (of mind and pocket), its inability to learn and remember from the past.

    We elect clowns, dictators, the corrupt because they reflect in us a deterioration of ourselves, aided by social media’s short-circuiting of the analytical process.

    Which is why we have the endless faux pas of the PCOO, Mocha, people rushing to Los Banos for a share of the Marcos loot (not knowing the pamphlet they bought was the scam), and the return to power of the corrupt.

    Ignorant people suffer endlessly, wishing for a different outcome when they have not applied the lessons of the past.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      1. The poverty of “mind and pocket.”

      Thanks, Andrew. We keep forgetting that poverty is not only material but mental and spiritual as well.

      2. The “short-circuiting of the analytical process” by social media.

      Joe am was talking the other day of the multiplication factor of Twitter and FB. It struck me this morning that this was the equivalent of quickies. Ahaha!

      Not to denigrate quickies but, yes, we need longer sessions of interaction, reflection, and longer lasting satisfaction.
      *****

  5. chemrock says:

    I second Andrew’s suggestion to bookmark this.

    Thanks Edgar, you made it easier for me to see through the haze in all those SC cases.

    I wish some smart college undergrads will circulate this article to their cohorts. It’s a remarkable teaching piece.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Chemrock, thanks.

      It’s hard to be optimistic about the country’s future when SC justices — who are supposed to represent the noblest minds — are bereft about the notions of fairness.

      In each country, there are so-called “landmark decisions” that advance the cause of justice in areas such as freedoms, discrimination, human rights, women’s rights, crime and punishment, and others. In the Philippines, we hear about the Writ of Amparo. But, in general, there seems to be a deterioration, a retrogression, in the interpretation of the constitution and of the laws.
      *****

      • I don’t know if there is much of a notion of fairness in a country where winning is everything. Even just being “talunan”, meaning part of the losing group in an election, is seen as very shameful, in the native mentality it means you better go home like a loser in a cockfight, keep your mouth shut and cook your rooster. The idea that an opposition has the right to speak loudly is somewhat foreign – unless they do it as enemies with the goal of toppling the ruler, like those against the Aquinos successfully did. Words are weapons, not for truth. And things are zero-sum. So what if Tulfo, Teo, Montano, Mocha etc. take advantage of the system, people ask, didn’t they yellows also do it? Even without proof it is assumed that the system is the spoils of victory. In Ilocano it is very symmetric, nang-abak or na-abak. Simple.

        And of course people think that the winner will automatically give “balato” to his supporters. Whether it is beer, a cake, a position or a sweetheart deals depends on how high the utang na loob is. It is assumed yellow does the same, only more decently, meaning hidden better.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Hey, I’m an Ilocano. I understood that.

          But… but that’s two letters different.

          In Tagalog, it’s just one letter.

          nanalo
          natalo

          Heh heh.
          *****

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          But seriously, “words are weapons, not for truth.”

          This is true not only for words that come from the president’s mouth but also words in the Constitution. Words are twisted to mean something else… and even, sometimes, the opposite of what was originally conveyed.
          *****

  6. chemrock says:

    In countries where the SC justices are picked by the Chief Executive, it is very natural for the President to select judges that share their policial aspirations. Thus, as in the case of the US, there will always be Conservatives and Liberals in the SC as you have mentioned. In the case of the Philippines, there is no political ideologies, and selection by the Chief Executive is always on who has a higher inclination to patron loyalty. In both cases, groupthink is inevitable. But whilst in the case of US, groupthink is tied to political persuasions, not to appointers, in Philippines groupthink is about being beholden to the appointee whether in or out of office. Thus thhe loss of independence of SC justices is not a serious issue in the US as it is in Philippines.

    You seemed to have used independent thinking and impartiality interchageably. They are’nt the same. The fundamental pillars of a good judiciary system in a country are (1) independent and impartial judges and prosecutors, and (2) independent defense lawyers.

    That ‘independence’ may be loss in a number of ways.
    a. Where justices feel beholden to their appointees.
    b. Where there is imtimidation by the executive.
    c. Where there is no actual intimidation but the justices have perceived insecurities (either from their reading of the state of the nation, or they have skeletons in the cupboards)

    President Duterte has only directly threatented Sereno and de Lima and none of the SC justices. So the conclusion for the loss of ‘independence’ in the groupthinkers group mudst be due to (a) and (c) above.

    Socrates said “Four things belong to a judge: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly, and to decide impartially.”

    These 4 attributes are clearly missing in the groupthinekers group. The first is about ethics or civility, the second is wisdom, the third is about equity or fairness, and the fourth is about the capability to empty your mind of all personal pre-conceived thoughts, biases and persuasions. The first 3 are attributes that should be inherent in the justices, the fourth requires talent. Very obviously, those in the groupthinkers group come up empty on all 4.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      1. I note that I haven’t used the word “impartial.” I have used “fairness” once.

      On the whole, I must admit I did not formally consider the factor of impartiality.

      However, considering it now, I would agree that impartiality and independence can be two different things.

      I would say that independence is a prerequisite for impartiality. If one is not independent, one cannot be impartial… specifically in cases where one’s dependency is involved.

      However, one can be impartial even if one is dependent… if a case is not related to one’s dependency.

      The proper conduct of a judge would be to recuse himself where there is a relationship of some dependency. (I will note that in Sereno’s case, none of the justices, whom she charged to have prejudged her, recused themselves.)

      The implication in the essay is that the six controversial decisions exhibit partiality because of the lack of independence.

      2. I think independence may be lost in other ways than (a), (b), and (c). For example, “(d) rewards.” However, I would not add (d) to (a) and (c) because that would be speculation.

      3. I cannot fault Socrates’ logic. I agree his four attributes are missing in groupthink. The quality of Carpio’s conception of independence would be implicit in all four attributes. Without independence, one cannot truly listen courteously, answer wisely, consider soberly, and decide impartially.
      *****

      • chemrock says:

        (1) So there you are, in US, the loss of independence (having conservative or liberal persuasion that’s in line with the Executive) does not impair their partiality, unlike the Philippines where beholden to the President means loss of partiality.

        (2) I did think of ‘rewards/corruption’ as an after thought but too lazy to for addendum.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          I agree on both counts.

          I would refine the first item further.

          It is true that a Conservative justice may be independent of the Conservative president who appointed him. Still, he may not be impartial on the issue of abortion (and many others). The conservative position on abortion is that it is wrong. In this case, the justice may be said to be independent of the appointing power but still exhibit partiality based on his ism.
          *****

  7. NHerrera says:

    On the article of the Supreme Court’s behavior, the article is epic in scope, analysis and philosophical thinking, wove with the relevant statistics of major events. A vintage edgar. [Delivered as advertised by the TSH editor in the previous blog.]

    Now, a simplistic statement that I have said several times before in TSH in so many words: The Executive and the Legislative Branches can do their worse, as well as some in the Judiciary, but so long as the Supreme Court remains upright and acts with integrity in its decisions, we cannot go to the dogs.

    I repeat the above — not only because the SC is thought to be the last bastion/ resort to the excesses of the Executive and the Legislative — but because of my feeling that a person placed at an exalted position, will rise to be worthy of that position. I can analogise that one awarded with a Nobel Prize will not act henceforth as one not worthy of such award. I am wrong in so thinking about the Supreme Court.

    • NHerrera says:

      Sorry, I was writing in general, the progressives cited such as Carpio, et al, proves that we still have a few good men in the SC.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Yes, there are… in the minority, sorry to say. But they do exist.
        *****

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          “The strength and power of a country depends absolutely on the quantity of good men and women in it.”

          ~John Ruskin

          The quantity of quality men and women in a nation gives it its strength and power. How do we multiply good Filipinos and Filipinas? What PH needs are good role models, not saviors and messiahs. For good role models are emulated (hence, the multiplication) and saviors/messiahs are idolized (hence, the division).

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Not only the article but Edgar himself is vintage. 🙂

      Your simplistic statement is not simplistic at all and, I fear, your fears have come to pass. Wish that it were not so.
      *****

      • NHerrera says:

        That too, yes. I believe there are quite a few with vintage years in TSH. But even those contributors here who we may not ascribe as of vintage years have vintage ideas. [ I like wine, but in our price inflated environment, I will stick to San Mig. :). ]

      • LG says:

        Indeed, vintage EL perspective, this time of the Philippine judiciary. So clear and lean, yet thorough. Truly bookmarkable. 🥂Edgar. Till your next post.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Cheers, LG. It seems that the champagne glasses are filled with my favorite golden beer nectar. I’ll drink to that.
          *****

  8. Micha says:

    Thank you edgar for shattering the illusion of judicial independence in the highest court. It has now become increasingly clear that far from being the depository of judicial wisdom and integrity, that governing body is afterall made up of flawed, politically partisan individuals whose decisions and opinions are no more unassailable than those of your average man on the street.

    This illusion can be likened to the fraudulent divine rights of kings which for centuries remain unquestioned and were the sole basis for authority and monarchical rule even if that rule was marked, for the most part, with tyranny and oppression.

    Civilizations and societies collapse when its institutions cannot anymore function with integrity.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      We seem to be living at a particularly dangerous time in that there are several paradigms extant in politics, economics, religion, and morality, and they are all shifting.

      In politics, no paradigm — democracy, authoritarianism, theocracy — is considered to be the best form of government. Religions are crumbling, and there is a general breakdown in morality.

      The doctrine of the sovereignty of the people is going the way of the divine right of kings. Plutocracy seems to be the reality. The rich and their demagogues are the ingroup and everybody else are the outgroup.

      The individual seems to be powerless.

      The situation in the Philippines is particularly dire because the rule of law has been discarded and the corrupt rule. At least in other countries, the rule of law still obtains and corruption is not widespread.

      Are we going to sink to the level of Venezuela? Or Nicaragua?

      No wonder people like our dear friend Andrew feels the end of times has come.

      Sometimes I feel like a band player on the Titanic.
      *****

      • Micha says:

        A Malacanang occupied by a despot. A highly politicized Supreme Court. A congress led by Gloria Arroyo.

        It already smells and looks like a duck republic.

      • Micha says:

        And yes, a dual economy is real. When they say the economy is doing just fine, that usually means the rich are doing just fine even if, at the same time, a disproportionately large segment of your population are living in horrendous poverty.

        Plutocracy Incorporated are the pharaohs and the Versailles royalty of our time.

  9. My analogy of PH SC is the simplistic basket of eggs. The differences between the good eggs and the bad eggs. Funny that in my dialect, bad eggs are called “bugok.” This article validated my unscientific take of the PH SC judges’ classification.

    In PH, the independence of the SC is just a mirage. The so called “vanguard of justice ” are exposed as “vanguard of self interest.” This violates the “kapwa” value that Filipinos touts. Most of the SC as well as most of the government officials are in it for themselves and their own closed circles. Bringing us to the notion that as a society and nation, we are still in the survival mode. We have yet to relax and transcend to self-actualization. For the masses who still have to battle to provide for their physiological and safety needs, it is understandable that they do not have the time for self-actualization but it is unconscionable for the majority of the SC judges to be still stuck in the same plane as the rest of the populace.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      How true.

      Survival mode even when they have reached a level of financial security that would last beyond their lifetimes and their children’s lifetimes.

      I read that one of the SC justices, who naturally is chauffeured, will not even open the car door for himself but will wait for the chauffer to do it for him. Such airs. I do not know who that justice is. But I do know he has no concept of equality and fairness.

      To think that billionaire NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not hesitate to take the subway everyday to get to work.
      *****

  10. caliphman says:

    Edgar and Chemmy have that unique talent for putting their arms around a complex and controversial issue . Thanks Edgar and this piece on the mess called the Philippine supreme court is no exception.

    I am not sure if the insights gained from the article can be useful in reforming the justice selection process so that the court will serve its role in a functioning constitutional democracy. That is to interpret the constitution and to balance the powers granted to the branches of government.

    The truth is the problems with the court you pointed out predate the Duterte administration, except granted the results with respect to these roles, this time around,are simply abominable. What is frightful is the very constitution that is central to their two roles are about to be changed radically. As much as adherence to the 1987 basic law by the court and the other two branches is but a teavesty, what more in a federal constitution that legitimizes a looming dictatorship or at the very least an all powerful executive.

    Its not that a completely inutil court would be a new experience for the country, a subservient judicial and legislative branch as well as changing the constitution to legalize a dictatorship are part of the Marcos playbook.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Caliphman, thanks.

      In the US, there are magazines that perform in-depth analyses that look deeper into different aspects of society that the daily newspapers do not touch. These are Newsweek, Time, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Harper’s. Perhaps there are more but these are the ones that come to mind.

      I think TSH, Raissa Robles, Ellen Tordesillas, and several others perform the same function as these magazines. (I would add GRP but… but. But I just took a peek and — yikes! There are two articles — “Duterte possesses that much-needed ‘MURDERER mentality’ to lead the Philippines to GREATNESS” and “The Logic of Killing: God vs Thanos vs Duterte” — that support Duterte’s killing spree.)

      However, I note that there is fatigue and readership is falling. This could be due to several factors. That the valid criticisms of the Duterte administration are having no effect at all. That there is so much more to life than whining. That our attention spans and analytical processes, as Andrew says, have been “short-circuited” by social media. And that this is a fallow period between election times.

      There is also the possibility that the focus has shifted from reading to marching.

      But I digress and I agree that you are right. That more thinking needs to be done to ensure that judicial independence is realized and that justices are elevated to the Supreme Court by other means than the present ones. The Judiciary is the only branch of government that is not subject to popular vote. Not that I would recommend such a method.

      As I said the pathways of history are strange. And perhaps one blessing of the failure of Sereno’s impeachment not reaching the Senate is that we have been spared the sight of Senator Pacquiao parading around in judicial robes.
      *****

  11. karlgarcia says:

    I am posting experptd from an article contributed by Cong. Lagman regarding the SC.

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/113276/supremacy-law-biased-judges

    Supremacy of the law, or of biased judges? | Inquirer Opinion
    3 months ago
    Retired chief justice Artemio V. Panganiban wrote in his column “With Due Respect” in October 2110: “The sociological school of legal philosophy holds that to predict how a case would be decided [by the Supreme Court], one must consider the personality of the magistrate and the various stimuli attendant to a case per this formula: personality times stimuli equals decision (P x S = D). The personality of a magistrate includes intrinsic qualities like upbringing, education, relationships, etc.  Stimuli refer to how he/she responds to externals like public opinion, peer pressure, religious leaders, medical condition, appointing authority, appointment sponsor, close friends, etc.”
    That observation strongly hints that associate justices of the Supreme Court sometimes decide not only on the basis of an objective interpretation of the law and the established facts but on personal considerations as well. This would prompt people to think that some of the landmark decisions of the present Court were influenced by stimuli that were of the nature of personal considerations.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    I am dropping two links from former CJ Panganiban.
    One is about the legal philosophy and the other is on how cases are decided.

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/79590/legal-philosophy

    http://opinion.inquirer.net/86836/how-cases-are-decided

    • The articles, written in 2014 and 2015, respectively, seem rather idealized or even naive in light of recent court decisions. He says there is no ‘philisophical’ influence on decisions. I think political allegiance is a philosophy, as is groupthink.

      • karlgarcia says:

        We must hold on to what is ideal and continue to teach what is right, or else the dark clouds and naivete will never go away.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Karl, thanks.

      1. On the first article, I admire Conservative justices Earl Warren and William Brennan for their decisions (a) junking racial segregation, (b) creating the right of abortion for women, and (c) inventing the Miranda warning. This is what I was talking about when I wrote that justices “must even free themselves from the limiting perspectives of their philosophies, if any.”

      1.1. I strongly disagree with CJ Panganiban that “appointees become independent as mandated by our Constitution.” From the time of Marcos, justices have been known to suck up to political authority.

      1.2. I discover that I voiced my disagreement in the comments of this article, and I quote:

      “Marcos was not frustrated by Fernando, and Corona did not disappoint GMA.”

      By this, I meant that justices Fernando and Corona were loyal to their appointing powers.

      2. On the second article, I agree that our justices do not seem to have any philosophical leanings, but Joe Am is right in that allegiance to political power is a “philosophy.” It is a philosophy of sycophancy.

      2.1. I also discover that I contributed a comment to this second article. I will repost it here in toto:

      “While it is true that the Supreme Court justices do not follow the Liberal/Conservative divide, in certain respects they can be classified into Progressives and Retrogressives.

      Progressives are those that would push the nation forward; Retrogressives are those who would not. This distinction is similar to the Liberal/Conservative divide… except that our justices are not into legal philosophy.

      The four Progressives are Sereno, Carpio, Leonen, and Perlas-Bernabe. Carpio is the lone GMA appointee.

      The nine Retrogressives are Brion, De Castro, Bersamin, Perez, Villarama, Reyes, Mendoza, Peralta, and Velasco. They are all GMA appointees with the exception of Reyes.

      Del Castillo, while a GMA appointee, often votes with the Progressives.

      It cannot be discerned at the moment to which camp Jardeleza belongs. He has not been able to reveal himself as he has recused on the latest important controversies. It would be a test of his character if the man can arise above the acrimony of his appointment, in which he pitted himself against Sereno and Carpio.

      The Retrogressives “normally” vote as a bloc; I suspect Brion is the weather vane for the bloc.

      o All of the Retrogressives, including Del Castillo, voted against the setting up of the Truth Commission (with the exception of Reyes who was not yet on the high bench).

      o They all agreed Midnight Appointments were kosher (except Velasco).

      o Again on the Corona TRO on dollar deposits, all the Retrogressives voted for the TRO (except Peralta).

      o Still further on the Del Castillo plagiarism case, all the Retrogressives voted to excuse Del Castillo (except Peralta).

      o Same on the last FASAP controversy (except De Castro and Velasco inhibited themselves, and Villarama was on leave(?)).

      o In recent times, the decision on the Jardeleza case is instructive of the divide. Most of the Retrogressives voted in favor of Jardeleza (except Velasco who dissented and Villarama who was on leave. I suspect Velasco could not overcome a personal bias against Jardeleza.) This case is exceptional and intriguing because the Retrogressives, for some incalculable reason, sided with the President. (Incalculable? Perhaps Jardeleza is seen as a Retrogressive recruit… or more likely the Retrogressives acted to spite Sereno and Carpio. Especially Sereno: Brion’s decision reads like his pen was dipped in venom.)

      In all of the above cases, it goes without saying that the Progressives were on the other side of the fence (if they were already seated, did not inhibit themselves, or were on leave.)

      My personal estimations of some of the progressives:

      o Sereno was a maverick before she became Chief Justice. She has softened lately as a matter of necessity?
      o Carpio, for all the disappointment of being bypassed, has shown admirable independence.
      o Leonen is an outlier.

      I would repeat the warning that Binay should NOT become president… because a majority of the justices will be finishing their terms and we do not want replacements that are indebted to him, just as Corona was to GMA.”
      *****

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thanks for making me look at the comments section.(I am glad that I made you rediscover the articles and your comments)
        TSOH Reader and contributor Jose Guevarra reacted to your comment in the first article.

        Thanks for the further informative and enlightening comments to add to our knowledge.

  13. NHerrera says:

    A MECHANICAL ANALOGY

    Our majority SC Justices’ lack of sound orientation or moral compass can bring to mind a mechanical analogy: that of a physical compass.

    In the US, as noted in the blog, the SC Justices while using as their guide the “True North” of their Constitution have leanings on the liberal or conservative sides of major issues, except perhaps for the late Antonin Scalia who adhered closely to the letter of the Constitution.

    The orienting needle of the physical compass except for a few places on earth deviates from the True (geodetic) North, the deviation known as Magnetic Declination, labeled as West Declination or East Declination according to whether the needle points West or East of the True North. The US Justices, to my mind, has a moral as well as Constitutional Compass — the True North — differing only on whether they lean on the liberal or conservative side of an issue. They are known to try to balance these two viewpoints but they tend to lean towards their default persuasions — liberal or conservative.

    In the Philippines there is no such compass in the SC membership — with the exceptions of Carpio et al — the magnetic declinations of their compass are wild and erratic with no relationship with the [Constitution’s] TN. Their TN is GMA or whoever appointed them.

    AN ASIDE. In the physical compass the declination can be as much as 20 degrees (East or West) in the land masses of the world. (By the way, the magnetic declinations varies by year and by location, with some calculating that at some future time the North of the compass’ magnetic needle will be pointing south). Circa 2015, the US has a magnetic declinations varying roughly from 15 degrees W to 15 degrees E. The PH has a western magnetic declination varying only roughly between 0 degrees to 3 degrees from the southernmost to the northernmost parts of the country. It is about 2 degrees west in the NCR.

    I find it interesting that while the needle of the physical compass in the PH points more closely to the TN (low declination number), compared to that of the US, our SC is more “confused” in its “orientation” than that of the US.

    So much for the digression. Now back to serious discussion. [For more on compass and navigation, our TSH editor, I am sure has something to say if asked, from his experience in the military.]

    • chemrock says:

      Allow me to narrate a little incident I had. You can analogise it anyway you want.

      In one jungle warfare exercise, my group of 7 had to traverse a landscape at night that would take us across a long pipeline. Some compass reading is as difficult as you made it out to be. At that time, there was some group resentment to me as they viewed me a smart alec. In response I shied away from the front leadership and simply tagged along at the rear minding my own business. We were lost for 2 hours but being the smart alec I had a fairly good sense of where we were. Fed up at the unnecessary long walk I took over the leadership. I directed a new path that is tangent to the one we were on and everyone were aghast — how can that be they said. I said it’s a free country, but too tired to argue they followed me. I bashed through the foliage and in 10 minutes we hit the pipeline. I knew we were walking parallel to the pipeline in the dark for 2 hours.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        The strength of our sense of direction varies from person to person.

        I have a girl friend who would get easily lost in a medium-sized multistorey mall.

        Obviously, you have a great sense of direction, geographically and morally.

        It could also be that you possess the instincts — the biological magnetoreceptor device — of a homing pigeon.
        *****

      • NHerrera says:

        In an echo of edgar, nice sense of geodetic or physical orientation; and as seen in your articles and comments here in TSH, a similar sense of moral orientation. Good of you to share the story.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      The analogy works for me.

      The paradox in the high/low declination number between the US justices and the Philippine justices can be explained this way:

      1. The declination is dependent on what the True North (TN) consists of:

      1.1. For the US justices, the TN is the Constitution.
      1.2. For Philippine justices, the TN is the appointing power.

      2. The high declination shown by the US justices means that they follow their ism, which is their moral compass, as a loose guide. In contrast, the low declination shown by Philippine justices means that they follow the appointing power very strictly.
      *****

      • NHerrera says:

        AS A LAST TIDBIT on compass, here is my last. My children now all grown, now and then gift me with something that complements my habit one of which is walking as an exercise. So about two years ago I got a Fitbit watch to monitor what is usual with those “health” watches — steps taken (pedometer), heart beats per min, rest or sleep pattern, etc, linked to a computer or smartphone so the children themselves can view my exercise activities for the week.

        Then three months ago a daughter sent an iPhone with two digital apps — a compass and another a “Pacer” aka pedometer plus. I will not write about the first one but on the second. My gosh, mankind has come a long way.

        After downloading Central Luzon area including Metro Manila as an Offline Google Map (automatically updated every 30 days to be current on changes in streets changes etc), one can go out without Wi-Fi and cellular data usage, Pacer traces one’s walking paces, the number of steps taken, the time period taken, the average speed of walking for the session and a chart to show one’s movement in the map. All of which can be saved if one wants to. Unlike the health watch pedometer which recording of steps is made by its accelerometer (I suppose), the Pacer app is based on GPS (I suppose again), among others because, I compared the distance moved with the meter markers in our park; and the steps recorded with the actual steps taken over a 500-step portion of my exercise — and it compares very well.

        It is still a mystery to me the technical explanation how without use of Wi-Fi and cellular data, the Pacer app is able to do this mainly on the basis of a downloaded offline map.

        CAVEAT. If one is hiking or trekking in the wild or forest, or outback of Australia, the smartphone may get damaged or run out of battery charge, including from a power bank. It will be then back to the old reliable military-grade compass and map for survival. Or to one who has a good sense of direction such as chempo.

    • sonny says:

      What a good turn this is about declination, NH. 🙂

      Aside from the informative analogy about our SC justices and their moral compasses, I have learned more about the digression of True vs Magnetic North directions, something I knew only little of. I wonder if corrections between the two values affect the navigation of my airplane rides to the Philippines and back; question also goes for the ship rides. 🙂

      • sonny says:

        Also learned a new term: isogonic lines. Thnx, NH.

      • NHerrera says:

        Sonny,

        This comes from my little un-updated knowledge: I suppose the modern airplane or ships have at their disposal a lot of navigational aids — among which are direct communication with satellites, a digital equivalent of sextant, etc for celestial navigation (the sun, polaris and other stars) and associated automatic calculation to guide them and not merely a traditional compass.

        • NHerrera says:

          There is also, through an international aviation agreement, the Bearing and Altitude of the plane provided by the nearest airport via radar scan.

        • sonny says:

          Many thanks, NH. I guess with all these modern instruments, I should be more trusting of our pilots and their skills. 🙂

  14. edgar lores says:

    *******
    I have updated the Culture Malaise Factors with:

    o Groupthink
    o Idolatry
    o Adaptive mimicry


    *****

  15. edgar lores says:

    *******
    For the record:

    Groupthinker Samuel Martires, newly appointed Ombudsman, has fed Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Carandang to the lions.

    Martires said he had “no choice” but to wash his hands off Malacañang’s decision to dismiss Carandang.

    He is not protecting Carandang like his predecessor, Conchita Carpio-Morales, did.

    From Rappler: “There is the 2014 Supreme Court Gonzales ruling that declared as unconstitutional the provision that previously gave Presidents the power to discipline a deputy Ombudsman. By virtue of that ruling, only Ombudsmen can discipline his or her deputies.”
    *****

    • No independence, no willpower. Carpio-Morales has both.

      You nailed it when you tagged him as a group thinker and a follower.

      BBM wants Caguoia to inhibit as PET ponente on his election fraud case based on violation of Canon 3 & 4 of the Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. He is calling him “biased.” I think SC Caguoia has the integrity to recuse himself from the case if he felt that he can’t handle the case with impartiality.

    • Martires is a substantial disappointment already. Rather than choose obedience to law, he picked obedience to a politician. Expect the ombudsman to become a part of the Duterte political machine, hunting down enemies, letting go of friends.

    • NHerrera says:

      So much for Martires’announcement just a few days ago that he will not be dictated by anyone. What is that saying, “not worth a bowl of spit”?

  16. I can smell the Groupstink. No mere whiff.

  17. edgar lores says:

    *******
    For the record – Aug 10, 2018:

    Duterte has appointed Jose Reyes to replace Presbiterio Velasco, Jr.

    From Rappler:

    “Like Duterte, Reyes is a San Beda Law alumnus.

    “The Reyes appointment continues Duterte’s habit of appointing justices near retirement. Reyes is turning 68 years old in September, and will retire from the Court in 2020, which would open up another vacancy for a Duterte appointment.

    “Reyes served the Court of Appeals for 15 years or since 2003. Before that, he was a Metropolitan Trial Court judge in Pasig and Regional Trial Court judge in Rizal.

    “In 2015, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV accused Reyes of accepting bribery from the Binays to stop the implementation of the suspension order against former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr.

    https://www.rappler.com/nation/209259-jose-reyes-jr-supreme-court-justice-duterte
    *****

  18. edgar lores says:

    *******
    Just in: De Castro won the consuelo de bobo.
    *****

    • karlgarcia says:

      Then what if the impeachment works?

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      For the record.

      The senators that did NOT support the resolution for the Supreme Court to reconsider Calida’s quo warranto petition were:

      1. Nancy Binay
      2. JV Ejercito
      3. Dick Gordon
      4. Gringo Honasan
      5. Ping Lacson
      6. Manny Pacquiao
      7. Tito Sotto
      8. Cynthia Villar
      9. Migz Zubiri

      The senators that supported the resolution were:

      1. Sonny Angara
      2. Bam Aquino
      3. Leila de Lima
      4. Frank Drilon
      5. Chiz Escudero
      6. Win Gatchalian
      7. Risa Hontiveros
      8. Loren Legarda
      9. Kiko Pangilinan
      10. Koko Pimentel
      11. Grace Poe
      12. Ralph Recto
      13. Sonny Trillanes
      14. Joel Villanueva

      The resolution was shelved for being moot.
      *****

  19. Translation: “upon hearing that the new Chief Justice will retire in October”..

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