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Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Curfew or no curfew?

Thursday, 28 July 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

Legislators are so gung-ho on whatever Digong Duterte wants by way of the passage of certain laws by both houses of Congress, both of which have supermajorites.
But they have to be more careful in the bills they pass on the third reading since all these bills, once signed into law by Duterte, can be challenged before the High Court.
The legislative buzz now is submitting bills that Duterte wants prioritized.
But the bigger problem is whether these bills will easily pass muster once it is challenged before the High Court.
As things stand, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was just handed down by the Supreme Court (SC) stopping the local governments of Manila, Quezon City and Navotas from implementing curfew hours on minors.
Then restraining order should have covered the entire Metro Manila and even other local governments in the country, because while Manila may no longer stop minors from going beyond curfew hours, the rest of the cities not covered by the TRO, such as Makati or Parañaque and Pasay, to name a few, can still be implementing their curfew ordinances.
But I suppose the SC was acting on what the petitioners sought, within these specified areas.
The High Court issued the TRO in a petition filed by the youth-group Samahan ng mga Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) through lawyer Jesus Falcis III.
The group sought to declare as unconstitutional the “Curfew Ordinances.”
Named respondents in the petition were Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada and Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco.
“The Court, acting on the petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for a temporary restraining order challenging the ‘Curfew Ordinances’ of the three local governments as ultra vires for being contrary to Republic Act 9334  (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act), issued a temporary restraining order effective immediately and until further orders enjoining the three local government units from implementing and enforcing the ‘Curfew Ordinance.’”
Chief executives of the three cities concerned were also asked to comment on the petition which claims that the curfew ordinances should be declared unconstitutional because of vagueness which results in arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
The report said that petitioners said the ordinances suffer from overbreadth by impairing legitimate activities of minors during curfew hours.
The petitioners said the ordinances deprive minors of the right to liberty and the right to travel without substantive due process and also deprives parents of the natural and primary right in the rearing of the youth without substantive due process. In particular, the petitioners assailed the Manila City curfew ordinance for violating the provisions of  RA 9344.
The Manila City Ordinance, according to the petitioners, imposes a curfew on minors and punishes violators despite the fact that the JJWA prohibits the imposition of curfews except if it is for the protection of the child and the child or minor is not punished.
But there a different dimension to this curfew for minors.
If one talks about 17- or 18-year-olds as minors violating curfew hours, this would be too much, considering that at 17 or 18 years of age, they can be considered adults rather than minors.
But the really young boys and girls who used to sell sampaguitas to passengers in vehicles, or gather around cars caught in stoplights, begging the driver of the vehicle for alms, should not be allowed to be out in the streets during curfew hours.
There was even a time, prior to the implementation of the curfew ordinances in these Metro cities, where child prostitutes were all over the streets, and where pedophiles gathered.
There is some logical reason for such ordinances. Curfew for such minors — and the real minors — may be good for everyone, as these children can be made safe from the dangers in the street.
With the SC issuing a TRO, there will be no choice for the local governments mentioned to stop their implementation of the curfew.
It won’t take long before the streets are again filled with vagrants and minors — really still children — ply their wares at night, which could include selling their young bodies.
More often than not, it is the parents who let out their children and sell them to strangers for sex.
 Legislators should also go easy on raising the age requirement for minors who commit crimes and treating their cases as adults. Such a law passed really sucks.
It’s bad enough Duterte and his cops kill too many alleged drug suspects. But it seems too much for the Congress to have the state kill minors through the death penalty by hanging.

No surprises in Sona

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

Digong Duterte’s chief PR official, Martin Andanar tried to get everyone, especially the media, so engrossed in the maiden State of Nation Address (Sona) of his principal, that he came with that whopper of a claim saying that reading Duterte’s speech not only made him cry but also stir up the patriot in every Filipino.
This was what he said then: “When I read the speech, I really don’t want to exaggerate, but the first time I read the speech, it made me cry. That’s how beautiful it was. How heart-wrenching the speech our President is.”
Alas and alack. Poor Martin, that earned him a virtual rotten tomato right smack in his face, as media were wondering after the long, long speech just what was so touching, so heart-wrenching and what was in the speech that stirred the patriotism in the Filipino?
Rule Number One: Don’t oversell your principal and his speeches.
Duterte’s Sona was too long, close to two hours, and gee, Martin, whatever he came up with was fairly predictable, because he has been coming up with such statements from the day he won the elections — even earlier, during the campaign season.
Still Andanar stuck to his earlier claim of listeners experiencing a heart-wrenching experience with Digong’s maiden Sona.
The Communications secretary said it was the firebrand President’s adlibs in his speech that made it more personal and touching.
Hello. But didn’t Martin earlier say that when he read the President’s speech, it made him cry? If it was a written speech he read, there couldn’t have been adlibs inserted in that speech at the time he read it.
Kaya nga adlib, Martin. On the spot yung sinsabi, di ba?
But he went on to say that he believes the adlib really made it more personal. “The President himself, he has this magic touch with the masses.”
Andanar said those who are receptive to Duterte’s almost two-hour speech will be those from the marginalized and poor Filipinos.
“Perhaps if you did not appreciate it in the halls of Congress, I am sure if you go and walk in the side streets and in the streets where our class C, D, E live, they appreciate what the President did, because the President wants them to understand just what he wants to say during the State of the Nation Address,” Andanar was quoted as saying.
Frankly, it was more of the same: The drug menace that he has been vowing to eradicate, protection for the policemen who do their jobs, as in killing suspected drug pushers combined with extra-judicial killings, staged to make it look as if the suspect had a gun and engaged in a firefight with the cops. Isn’t it odd that no policeman ever gets shot at and wounded by the suspected and armed drug pusher?
So he called for a unilateral ceasefire with the commies, and seeks peace in Mindanao, with all the Islamic forces, even promising them the Bangsamoro Basic Law without the contentious provisos — which won’t be acceptable to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Nur Misauri faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, and no doubt the Bangsamoro Islamic fighters. Duterte has been coming up with all these — along with the cut in red tape in government, as well as the usual bit of ensuring that the poor will have food on their table, something which every president pledges in their maiden Sonas.
And of course, he has to come out to say that the grant of the emergency powers is up to the people and Congress, saying if they want the traffic problem fixed immediately, then Congress can give his secretaries these powers, but if Congress want to do it the longer way, then that’s up to the people.
What? Already a way out of his initial campaign promise of fixing the traffic in Metro Manila in three months time — and take note, there was never even a whisper of special emergency powers then, during the campaign.           
Predictably too, the federal parliamentary system of France, with a president elected at large, but with a parliament instead of a Congress, is being sought, but again, he comes up with a sweetener for some by fast-tracking Federalism so he finally leaves the presidency and Malacañang, since he will no longer run for the same office.
Tuod, Digong? Martin Andanar will really, really cry.

First step to transparency

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

With Digong Duterte having signed a Freedom of Information decree, through an Executive Order (EO), for which he must be credited in his having delivered and fairly quickly too on one of his campaign promises, but there now have to be pressure applied on both Houses of Congress to pass an FoI law.
While it is good that Duterte has opened the door of transparency, at least in the Executive branch, full praise for the new administration must be held until the nation sees just what exceptions are to still be crafted by the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General, which Malacañang says will be forthcoming in the next 60 days.
Despite the EO on the FoI, a legislated FoI Act is needed, since Duterte’s FoI only covers the executive branch, but a law will cover all branches of government, which means the legislature and the judiciary.
It is however good that Duterte has shown the way, which his legislators, all of them in the majority, should follow.
The FoI was also the campaign promise of Noynoy, but a promise he refused to deliver, even when he had a puppet Congress.
It was fairly clear that under the claimed “honest administration” of Noynoy, there certainly was a lot of dishonesty he and his yellow clique in Malacañang wanted hidden.
And even when there was pressure building up for Noynoy to have Congress craft the FoI bill on an urgent basis, this step was never made by Noynoy.
As a matter of record, Noy’s mouthpiece then, Edmund Lacierda it was, who even had the gall to say that there was no need for an FoI law under Noynoy, since he is the epitome of transparency.
Yeah right, he was so transparent and honest that he bribed the legislators to impeach and convict the then sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the late Renato Corona and all because Noy did not get his way in the decision of the High Court’s formula of the parceling to workers of Hacienda Luisita.
But it should be fairly easy for the present legislature to come up with an FoI bill considering the super majorities’ in both chambers. However, knowing the House members’ reluctance to have their acts ripped open publicly, it may take a little persuasion from their idol, Duterte, to act on an FoI bill and please, not including the usual argument of Right of Reply from government officials.
Truth is, as a matter of course, when media come up with scoops and perhaps exposes, the claimed aggrieved public official always is given a space in the media to present his or her side. The problem always is — among public officials — is that they want their side placed in the very same position that the media had positioned their story on the particular official, to which no respectable media will ever give in, mainly because this would be interfering with the editorial judgment of the media and government’s meddling in the media’s freedom, which is violative of the freedom of the press.
Despite the allies of Duterte having put together super majorities, both in the House and in the Senate, and because Duterte has shown the way to transparency, there may just be some legislator, whether in the Senate or the House, who will certainly be opposing this move to have an FoI with full transparency.
In the House, for example, even the legislators’ Statements of Assets and networth are hardly fully transparent, as what is being made public are summaries of their SALns, not the full documentation.
Another need for a full blown FoI law would be a good thing, since this would also include the Office of the Ombudsman.
Ironically, while the senators and congressmen, and everybody else submit their SALns to the Ombudsman, neither the Ombudsman nor her prosecutors lay bare their SALns to the public. And to think the Ombudsman is the official who has been filing too many cases even with strong evidence against those she wants charged and detained.






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