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Love That Leads to Life July 14, 2019 Fifteenth Sunday  in  Ordinary Time Father Shawn Aaron, LC, Luke 10: 25-37 Th...

Thursday, February 28, 2019

4 Types of Toxic Cookware to Avoid and 4 Safe Alternatives

We all know the importance of eating healthy, but not everyone knows that the cookware you use to prepare your dishes is just as important as the food itself. Even the healthiest diet can result in severe health problems if your pots and pans are toxic. Find out which cookware you should avoid by all means for the sake of your own health and the health of your family. 

The non-stick properties of Teflon cookware are achieved with a coating of PTFE. This is a plastic polymer that, when heated above 572°F, starts to release toxins. These toxic fumes lead to flu-like symptoms called polymer fume fever, informally known as Teflon flu. Another chemical compound found in Teflon cookware is especially threatening since it tends to stay in the body (as well as in the environment) for long periods of time. Try cast-iron cookware instead. It even comes in non-stick varieties. It doesn't leak anything toxic into your food and is actually a nice natural way to increase your body’s iron levels. 

Though aluminum cookware is usually coated, the coating is prone to chipping, allowing the toxic metal to get right into your food. As for aluminum foil, using it while cooking is even more dangerous. In fact, there’s an established safe amount of aluminum the human body can manage daily, and that’s 20 mg per pound of body weight a day. When you wrap your food in aluminum foil and cook it this way, the amount of this substance that leaks into the food significantly exceeds the permissible level. Consider using glass cookware instead. 

If you’ve just enjoyed some fish in lemon juice or stewed tomatoes cooked in an uncoated copper pot and you find yourself suffering from extremely unpleasant symptoms (such as vomiting blood, light-headedness, yellowy skin, or gastrointestinal distress, among others) call 911 immediately. 

Try this safe alternative instead: stainless steel. Just make sure you're buying food-grade stainless steel since this is the only type that doesn't contain any nickel or chromium. 

Soft ceramic coating isn't durable enough and starts chipping after a few months of daily use. When this happens, lead and cadmium sometimes found in the coating will end up in your food and, thus, in your body. Lead poisoning is one of the most dangerous types of metal poisoning and can result in abdominal pain, headaches, infertility, and other health complications. Try this safe alternative instead: 100% ceramic cookware. 

Teflon cookware 0:38 
Aluminum cookware and aluminum foil 3:31 
Copper cookware 5:12 
Ceramic-coated cookware 6:54 

-Teflon contains plastic polymer that, when heated above 572°F, starts to release toxins. Try this safe alternative instead: real cast-iron. This is a nontoxic cooking option that truly withstands the test of time. It heats well and evenly throughout. 
-Aluminum is a neurotoxic metal. Elevated levels of aluminum in the body have been linked to several central nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer's and ALS. Try this safe alternative instead: glass cookware. It’ll never release anything toxic when heated, it doesn’t hold onto any old flavors or odors, and it's not only durable but also eco-friendly. 
-Copper cookware, especially when it isn’t coated, can easily send you to the ER with a bad case of metal poisoning. And that’s because it can release copper when you cook acidic foods. Stainless steel is a great cookware option: it's relatively lightweight, scratch-resistant, and comes in non-stick varieties. 
-Soft ceramic coating isn't durable enough and starts chipping after a few months of daily use. When this happens, lead and cadmium sometimes found in the coating will end up in your food and, thus, in your body. Try this safe alternative instead: 100% ceramic cookware. This is one of the best and safest options out there since it's made with completely natural materials, it isn't toxic, and it won't chip or peel off.


By Malcolm Conlan

Now, more than ever, I really do believe that everything in life happens for a reason and there is a purpose in all we do. Without going into my personal life too much, just wanted to share this to hopefully inspire someone out there.

For reasons which I won’t share on FB, my biological father left home when I was very young and I had not seen him since. It was always in the back of my mind as to what happened to him. A few times in my life, I tried to find him, just to ask him what happened etc.

I searched online a few times, found various documents like birth certificate etc, but all drew a blank.

As everyone knows, I am very active on social media, I love the Philippines very much and regularly post on SocMed. Around a year ago, my father was just browsing the Internet and apparently read a story online about the Philippines. I was featured in the story. My father apparently saw the story online, it led him to my Facebook account.

Over the next few months, my father had been watching my Facebook. Last year, I was involved in a protest outside a restaurant, waiting for Cong. Gary Alejano. My father was apparently watching the protest live online, he got frustrated that I was being given the run around and hence got in touch.

Just recently after 47 years, I was able to meet my father. This never would have happened had it not been for #Facebook and my social media activities.

At a time where I am having a lot of personal difficulties in my life, just wanted to share this with others to hopefully encourage others, that if it’s meant to be, somehow, sometime, God or fate or whatever you believe in, will make a way.


Ressa’s political theater

BY SASS ROGANDO SASOT       February 19, 2019

LAST week, Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa fully utilized her Fulbright fellowship for political theater.

She turned the serving of her warrant of arrest into a political spectacle that could rival the day Aung San Suu Kyi was placed on house arrest by Burma’s military junta. But while Suu Kyi was detained for political reasons, Ressa was arrested because a judge found probable cause to indict her in a case of cyberlibel filed by Wilfredo Keng, a private citizen.

Ressa’s international network has been put to good use. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the arrest “outrageous,” then urged “all democratic nations” to condemn it. CNN’s bigwig Christiane Amanpour said the government was “desperate.” Their condemnation was premised on the belief that Ressa was arrested for speaking truth to power. A narrative the Associated Press (AP) tweeted to its 13.2 million followers on February 13: Ressa was arrested “for criticizing Philippine President Duterte.”

Netizens called out Albright, Amanpour and AP’s fake news. The following day, AP tweeted that it deleted that tweet because it was “incorrect.” Ressa said these netizens were receiving “marching orders.” Yes, she is this delusional: She thinks that she’s such a beloved figure that people only hate her because they were ordered to.

And she’s that dense to realize that this condescending attitude she and the rest of her Rappler staff display is fuel to the hostility they receive. I don’t expect Ressa to understand the Filipino mentality that adores “astig” (fierceness) and vehemently detests “angas” (arrogance). After all, she has been an American citizen for most of her life, and regained Filipino citizenship only in 2004.

Ressa lacks the awareness that journalists like her don’t only speak to power, they can also be the power others could and should speak to. Freedom is power. And a private citizen is holding the line at the abuse of power Rappler wielded against him, heartlessly, by an institution intoxicated with power left unchecked for quite a long time.

She speaks about law being weaponized against Rappler. But weapons can either be for defensive or offensive purposes. Law is used as a defensive weapon against Rappler by a private citizen who was a victim of their offensive weaponization of the almost absolute nature of freedom of the press.

In June 2018, Chay Hofileña, the head of Rappler’s investigative desk, commented on the libel case Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th filed against RJ Nieto, the blogger behind Thinking Pinoy. Hofileña said: “Freedom of speech, you say? There are limits when there is malice and when you deliberately cause others undue harm.” That limit Hofileña talks about also applies to them.

And who enforces that limit? It’s the State, through the government, as prescribed by law. That’s why I don’t understand why Ressa and her network thinks it’s shameful that a government arrests her by the virtue of a valid warrant of arrest, stemming from a case meant to enforce the limit that Hofileña talked about.

If Rappler only gave Keng a chance to defend himself either by getting his side or by giving him the right of reply, then perhaps, they wouldn’t be experiencing this current state of affairs. So, what exactly was Rappler’s motivation in not getting Keng’s side? What was Rappler’s motivation in not giving him space to defend himself? Why can’t Rappler allow the person whose reputation they callously destroyed a chance to clean his name through the same platform Rappler used to soil it?

In 2016, in their #NoPlaceforHate article, Rappler went on to define the limits of freedom of speech: it’s not “license to smear reputation and ruin credibility. Nor does it mean the freedom to be irresponsible and to defame.” Yet how many reputations and credibilities Rappler ruined with their freedom of speech?

I was one of them. In July 2017, during a summit of the Global Editors Network (GEN) in Austria, Ressa slandered me, saying I was part of a “fake news network,” an accusation that GEN reproduced on its Tweeter account.

I wrote GEN to avail of the right of reply as stipulated in their Code of Ethics which gives “any person…portrayed in a negative light” in GEN’s publications the right of reply. This right of reply extends to “social network postings by GEN publications staff.”

Emily Kodjo, GEN’s communication director, wrote back, to inform me that they wouldn’t be able to grant me the right of reply. On the basis of this provision on their code of ethics: “Coverage of people or companies in GEN publications should be written as news, not promotion. They should cover the challenges people and companies face as well as their successes.”

How did this provision nullify their right of reply? No idea.

“Maria Ressa’s intervention at the GEN summit during a panel session was done in good faith,” Kodjo replied, “abiding by our Code of Ethics, to describe the challenges encountered by her publication.”

But how could it be done in “good faith” when the accusation has no factual basis? Ressa didn’t present any evidence at all of any fake news I wrote.

Kodjo should have just been honest: Ressa is one of GEN’s board members.

Then and now, Ressa’s political theater has one message: Those she slanders should suffer in silence and must be portrayed as violators of her freedom whenever they speak truth to her power.

E-mail: srsasot@gmail.com


February 28, 2019 – Price of the Kingdom

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Father Edward Hopkins, LC

Mark 9:41-50

Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose their reward. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your presence in my life. I believe that you consider those around me your children and that you ardently desire to possess them with love for all eternity. I trust that you will help me treat others as your brothers and sisters. I love you now with my prayer. May this prayer increase my desire to honor and serve you with my life.

Petition: Jesus, help me to set a good example for others out of love.

  1. You Are Priceless: Jesus leaves us with no doubt: We are valuable. We all carry within us a God-given dignity. And this dignity is identified and enhanced when we bear his name. Every human being has an intrinsic dignity because every human being is created in God’s image. But this image of God is perfectly incarnated in Christ, God made man. So, a baptized Christian—a Christ bearer—carries a more perfect image: Christ, in whom we are made children of God. It is little wonder, then, that Jesus assures a reward to anyone who serves us for his sake!
  1. Every Little One Is Priceless: To carry his image is also a responsibility. We must live up to this dignity and show to others a life worthy of the image we carry within. Others may be “little” due to their age, the newness and immaturity of their Christian life, or even their weakness and struggle. We put a stumbling block in their way, we scandalize them, when our behavior causes them to doubt or become discouraged about living the ideals of faith. A “millstone” suggests that anything would be better for us than this. How damaging then are my bad examples given to “little ones”! Damaging for them and for me! What can I do to avoid such scandal? On the other hand, what a great reward awaits those who do the contrary, giving these little ones good example! If I loved “these little ones” just half as much as Jesus does, would it not be much easier to avoid giving bad example?
  1. Better to Lose Anything Else: In today’s world, the value of something is measured in comparison to other items of the same kind: stocks, food, clothes, even music and films are judged against each other. Yet, there are some things that have absolute value: the value of a soul. Nothing compares! Jesus paints this total non-comparison in terms of cutting off whatever becomes an obstacle. You are so valuable that you must be ready to deny, subdue, silence and even sacrifice your own body, or any of its members, rather than risk losing your soul. Do I value my immortal soul, my vocation to eternal life? If so, do I show this by the self-denial I exert in controlling what makes me (and eventually others through me) stumble? How often do I prefer my “things” to the loved ones who depend on my example of Christ? How radical is my faith?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to understand a little more just how valuable I am to you, how priceless my eternal life is. Make me sensitive to value each and every person in my life. I know you want me to help save them. Never allow me to become a stumbling block for anyone. If I have, may my love and efforts of faith be used by you now to restore what was lost.

Resolution: I will repair a past act of “scandal” (outburst of anger, foul language, gossip or slander, dishonesty, etc.) with a period of quality time given to the “little ones” so as to rebuild the trust and Christ-like behavior they expect from me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Funeral wake for the EDSA Yellow narrative

BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO        February 27, 2019

THE sparsely attended, reluctantly celebrated “EDSA Revolution” commemoration last Monday turned out to be a funeral wake, the last rites for the false Yellow narrative of that event 33 years ago.

For the first time in 33 years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the official publication of that narrative, had no huge front-page photo of the commemoration, no picture of Fidel Ramos doing his celebratory jump that he did three decades ago. On its front page was a small blurb — with the same prominence as the “Hanoi boots out fake Kim” — referring to its report on the event: “EDSA commemoration lures sparse crowds.”

With failed Yellow regimes – those of Cory, Aquino 3rd, and to some extent even Fidel Ramos’ – Filipinos have ceased to believe in the Yellow Cult’s simplistic, good-vs-evil narrative of the events of 1986.

Except for the Philippines and Czechoslovakia — where in both not coincidentally, the Catholic Church is a major political player — 19 countries in the past three decades that went through similar, peaceful revolutions from authoritarianism to democracy do not have such celebrations of such tectonic shifts in their political regimes.

In our part of the world alone, there had been two ruthless dictatorships. First was the 31-year regime of Indonesia’s Suharto. Historians estimated that 500,000 Indonesians, mostly ethnic Chinese, were killed by the pogrom he ordered when he wrested power from Sukarno in 1965. About 1,000 Indonesians were even killed by the police in people power-like demonstrations that led to Suharto’s fall in 1998.

Does Indonesia have a holiday to commemorate this “people power” revolution? No.

Sukarno wasn’t even arrested or forced into exile to the US. He died in 2008 at 86 years old after a quiet life in a posh neighborhood in Jakarta. He was buried in a state military funeral with full honors, with Indonesian commandos as his honor guard. Suharto’s biggest crony Liem Sioe Leung survived and became richer, his son building an Asian conglomerate, which now includes the largest power-telecom-infrastructure empire in this country, the First Pacific group.

The second iron-fisted dictator in Asia was Korea’s Park Chung-hee, who ruled for 17 years. His Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) was so bold and ruthless that it was known to have even kidnapped Korean oppositionists abroad.

Park was shot pointblank and killed in a banquet by the KCIA director in 1979. After a two-year transition in which another military man ruled as an unelected leader, Korea went on to become a fully democratic state. Does Korea celebrate this transition, demonize Park, and consider as hero the KCIA director who killed him?

No. Park’s daughter, Park Geun-hye, was even elected as South Korea’s 11th and first female president in 2012.

Lech Walesa during a visit to the Philippines told Corazon Aquino that the movement that overthrew the communists in Poland in 1989 was “inspired” by the People Power uprising she led in 1986.

Does Poland have its version of our People Power celebration? No.

We can go on and on, with data on each of the 19 countries that had people power-like peaceful revolutions. Except Czechoslovakia, not a single country celebrates its extra-constitutional, nonviolent regime change. Significantly, what Indonesia, South Korea, Poland and Romania, as well as most of these 21 countries, celebrate as national holidays is Constitution Day.

In our case, Constitution Day, while officially a “working holiday,” passes unnoticed, with no celebration at all, except for a dinner of the Philippine Constitution Association which no newspaper reports.

No wonder then that the Philippine Constitution is routinely flouted and disregarded, even by an American former CNN correspondent.

What these countries mostly celebrate are their independence from foreign masters. None of them celebrates the fall of their strongmen or dictators, cognizant that these men, whatever their failings, were one of their own citizens, their regimes — even the most brutal — having their good side.

There are three major reasons our governments have celebrated the People Power event since 1987.

Good template
First is that EDSA 1 proved to a good template for Cory Aquino’s master, the United States, to disseminate worldwide in order to rouse people under communist dictatorships to stage revolutions.

The EDSA template would have been swiftly forgotten if there were no EDSA 1 commemorations yearly, complete with videos of nuns and priests seemingly stopping tanks.

The United States’ first target was China’s democracy movement, which however, failed. Where do you think that young Chinese got the idea to stand ramrod in front of a tank in that iconic Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989?

Remember also that the 1980s were the height of Reagan’s crusade against the “Evil Empire,” the Soviet Union. The US had actually first focused on Poland, and the Central Intelligence Agency funneled, starting in 1980, a total of $1 billion to Lech Walesa’s “Solidarity” trade union that was the vanguard of the Polish revolution. Televised scenes and press photos of EDSA 1 proved a much cheaper way to rouse the Poles into action.

Indeed, even US officials and the Yellow Cult have boasted that EDSA 1, the “Yellow Revolution,” had inspired the peaceful revolutions, especially the “color revolutions” which overthrew communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

PR tactics
The inspiration wasn’t just on the level of boosting morale. Formulating and executing the political tactics for Cory and the People Power movement was the PR and political consultancy group Sawyer Miller (see James Harding, Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business).

Sawyer helped to open up the governments of Eastern Europe and Latin America “by introducing mass communication into their electoral processes,” the late US Sen. Daniel Moynihan said in a speech in Congress.

While the EDSA template failed in China, it was remarkably successful in Eastern Europe and even in the Middle East, starting with Poland and Romania in 1989, up to the “Arab Spring” revolts of the 21st century.

There’s a second reason why we have been forced to celebrate the 1986 EDSA 1. Through its constant demonization of Ferdinand Marcos and deification of Cory Aquino, the Yellow Cult created the false scenario of a national consensus to remove the strongman from power.

The scenes of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and then Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos staking their lives at Camp Crame, preparing for Marcos’ attack, of the helicopter squadron defecting just as they were thought to be positioning to attack Camp Crame, the crowds stopping the tanks in the street — all these images of high drama were shown on TV again and again to justify the revolution, to create the illusion that this was a national revolution.

So divided
The first presidential election after EDSA 1, in 1992, however, provided hard proof that in reality the country was so divided over EDSA 1 and Marcos’ subsequent downfall.

Ferdinand’s widow Imelda Marcos garnered 10 percent of the votes, while his top crony, Eduardo Cojuangco, received 18 percent. If the two had united instead, they would have gathered 28 percent of the votes, bigger than Ramos’ winning 24 percent or Miriam Santiago’s 20 percent.

Doesn’t that point to the fact that a big part of Philippine society didn’t support EDSA 1 and wanted the Marcos regime back, even if just through his wife and top crony? Thirty years after, Marcos’ “Solid North” and Imelda’s Eastern Visayas, and swathes of Mindanao continue to refuse to be part of the “people” of the People Power uprising.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s strong showing in the 2010 and 2016 elections is another proof that for many Filipinos, Martial Law wasn’t the era of the Dark Lord, as the Yellows Cultists have portrayed it.

The third reason for People Power celebrations: It conceals the reality that the ruling Philippine elite continues to screw the masses, regardless of whether the nation is ruled by a democracy or a dictatorship.

It is not coincidental that the EDSA 1 celebrations have religious undertones.

In ancient and medieval times, religion served to conceal the fact that the pharaoh, the king, or the emperor, together with their clans, exploited the broad masses of the working classes through the lie that these rulers were anointed by, or even sons, of their deity.

The EDSA 1 celebrations portray the fiction that we are a nation of equals, and we have become poor (“condemned”) only because of Marcos (“the devil’), and were saved by Cory (“the Messiah”).

On the other hand, countries that had people-power types of regime changes don’t have such annual “celebrations” because they were clever enough to realize that such would only exacerbate the division in their countries. After all, even dictatorships that lasted long had to be supported by a significant section of their nation, and their fall would, of course, alienate those sections.

The EDSA 1 celebrations have only been divisive for our country. We should stop this inanity if we are to be united as a nation in the years to come. That there was a sparse crowd on Monday is the Filipinos’ message that they don’t want an EDSA 1 celebration any more.

* * *

This column is based on one of five articles in the chapter “The EDSA Revolt” that debunks the myths over this episode in our nation’s history, in my book Debunked: Uncovering Hard Truths about EDSA, Martial Law, Marcos, Aquino, with a Special Section on the Duterte Presidency, available in most bookstores and through online ordering, www.rigobertotiglao.com/debunked.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Archives at: www.rigobertotiglao.com


February 27, 2019 – The Zeal of Charity

Wednesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Father Edward Hopkins, LC

Mark 9:38-40

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you and in all the expressions of your goodness and love in my life. I believe in your Eucharist, where you have made yourself my bread and a prisoner of love to teach me goodness of heart. I trust that you can train my heart to react more as you do, with forgiveness and blessing. I love you, Lord; I wish to love you with my prayer and increased charity. Mary, teach me to love with the heart of your son.

Petition: Make my heart more like yours, Lord.

  1. A Son of Thunder: The young apostle says with uncontrolled fervor, “We tried to prevent him.” They obviously acted first and consulted Jesus only afterwards. What moved them? What so often moves us––a sense of righteous zeal! We know or think we know what is right. “Let no one step out of line, or we will let him know!” Moreover, this person “does not follow us,” so he should not be able to act in your name! What is this “Son of Thunder” missing? Is not the mightiest deed an act of charity? How often do I make rash judgments without really knowing the full picture and without consulting Jesus first?
  2. Judgments of Gospel Charity: Jesus does not hesitate to offer a positive judgment. Mighty deeds in his name can be found only in one speaking well of him. Moreover, beyond logic, Jesus possesses a deeper insight. He reads all actions with a heart of charity. His judgments will always be colored by his looking to find the very best in each person. His every action will be interpreted by love. In such manner he interprets well the actions of the woman who wipes his feet with her tears and hair, of the paralytic lowered from the roof, of the tax collector who climbed a tree to see him. Do I judge others with a heart filled with gospel charity, or am I very quick to spot faults? Are my impulses modified by my experience of Christ’s love for me?
  3. For or Against Him? Jesus presents a simple principle for judging. Unless a person shows himself to be against us, consider him for us. We should fight to help others be “for us.” “Believe all the good you hear and only believe the evil you see.” This supposition of goodness runs contrary to our tendency to judge and speak evil of others with a minimum of evidence while demanding disproportionate proofs to credit them for good. Is it my job to find deformities in a member of the Body of Christ? A good person sees with eyes of goodness. Why can I not find excuses for the weakness and failings I see in others? Why is it so easy to speak poorly of others, to point out their defects and to fall into slander or gossip? Would the answer be found in the narrow or stingy dimensions of my own heart?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, grant me a heart overflowing with your love. Make charity my first reaction, my constant hope and my irresistible tendency. Open my eyes in faith to see you working in people of all backgrounds and faiths. Help me to dismiss all personal, unnecessary judgments with an assumption of charity. May I win souls with my goodness and never be without charity in my fight for your Kingdom.

Resolution: I will counter every thought against charity with two thoughts of charity. I will counter every word against charity with two words of sincere charity for the one maligned.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Wobbly: Ex-CJ Panganiban shatters Ressa’s main defense in cyber libel case

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban described as “wobbly” Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s main defense against the cyber libel case filed by a businessman against the web-only news site which is part of the media cartel of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

In his Inquirer column, Panganiban shot down the two main arguments cited by Ressa in fighting the cyber libel case – the case was filed (October 2017) of more than five years after original story was published on May 2012 which was beyond the one-year prescriptive period for libel under Revised Penal Code Article 90; and the subject story was filed four months before Republic Act (RA) No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was passed in September 2012.

“To set the record straight at the outset, Maria Ressa was indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the ‘republication’ by Rappler of an allegedly libelous online article on Feb. 19, 2014, not for its original posting on May 29, 2012.

Ressa was not charged with ordinary libel under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which prescribes in one year… Therefore, in my humble view, her defense of prescription is wobbly since, to repeat, she was indicted under the Cybercrime Law, not under the RPC,” said Panganiban.

“Neither is her defense of ex post facto law viable, because she was charged with a ‘republication’ that happened when the Cybercrime Law was already in effect.

She was not accused of ordinary libel that happened in 2012, which the DOJ itself conceded had already prescribed.

Because the DOJ did not invoke an ex post facto application of the Cybercrime Law, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra insisted he broke no law in filing the criminal charge and dared Ressa to sue him if she thought he violated her rights.” he added.

Panganiban said Ressa could still argue that Rappler committed no libel since the story was “a fair commentary on a matter of public interest” if she could prove that the complainant Wilfredo Keng “has attained the level of a ‘public figure’.”

“Other possible defenses, which I have no more space to discuss, are whether ‘republication’, an old RPC jurisprudence, applies to the new cyber libel, whether Ressa’s constitutional rights to equal protection have been violated due to ‘selective justice’, and whether probable cause, in the first place, exists,” he said.


Is Otso Diretso a showcase of Liberal Party-led Opposition Coalition bankruptcy?

February 25, 2019 - by zaxx

The best we can really say for the Otso Diretso senatorial line-up of the Opposition Coalition led by the Liberal Party for the 2019 Philippine midterm elections is “thanks for at least trying”.

The crumbling Yellow Empire of the East is in its end-of-days stages having contracted an apparently incurable terminal disease by the end of PNoy’s term. The bankruptcy in Otso Diretso is first evident in the choice of the number 8 in their current marketing strategy. Of the 12 available seats, they can ONLY field 8 candidates (compared with their 12 bets in the 2016 elections). Dwindling ammo (tsk tsk)… not a good sign.

What’s worse is that among the 8, only Mar and Bam have any realistic fighting chance of getting into the magic 12 (even by the Yellow-leaning standards of Rappler’s reported surveys). This means the other 6 (Alejano, Hilbay, etc.) are just wasting their time/effort and their party’s money.

In contrast, Hugpong ng Pagbabago is bursting at the seams with more than 12 senatorial bets.

And why lock a number to your brand? What if one candidate drops out midway along the campaign trail leading towards Election Day? What if someone misses a campaign sortie? How can people be expected to cheer for 8 when they only see 7 or 6 people on the stage? Whoever thought this up was not using “what if” logic.

So we have Mar Roxas, who is now known to be a consistent loser in recent elections (VP and Pres), which makes him a harder sell esp. now after displaying incompetence through the chaotic Yolanda relief efforts and MRT’s decrepit state under his watch during PNoy’s term.

Then struggling to get into the magic 12 is Bam Aquino, who takes pride and basks in credit-grabbing glory for the passage of the Free College Tuition law, when it was Bongbong Marcos who already surfaced the idea back in 2015 and it was Ralph Recto who actually authored it. And at this stage of the ballgame, selling the Aquino brand after PNoy’s lousy performance is a tall order indeed.

Meanwhile on the Hukbong ng Pagbabago side, most candidates are already big-ticket household names, with only Zajid Mangudadatu and Jiggy Manicad being the relatively less known though fresher names on the list.

Marketing Catastrophe Waiting to Happen

Diretso appears to be a subliminal rehash of PNoy’s Daang Matuwid (diretso = matuwid). And Filipinos know just how much of a sham (or scam) that marketing slogan was. Otso represents going in circles (like the endless finger-pointing we saw each time failure knocked on LP -led Noynoy administration doors). So this team appears to be all about going straight back to going in circles (a.k.a. Noynoying around) the very thing Filipinos detested during PNoy’s term.

People already know Daang Matuwid is now a lost cause; yet here they are trying to resurrect it? The hardest thing to sell nowadays during a time of exponential development and foundation-rocking change under the Duterte administration is a promise to return to the days of Noynoying around and bombarding the nation with bad news: unconstitutional DAP/PDAF pork, Dengvaxia, lalag bala, provocation of China, SAF44 massacre, Yolanda funds mismanagement, MRT deterioration, drugs in Bilibid,… (while apathetically grinning like the couple in our 500 peso bill).

Admission of Loss

Even among the candidates of this Otso Diretso line-up, they are already pessimistic about the idea of winning. They said the reason they are NOT FAMOUS is because they are not thieves. Macalintal said in the vernacular in a sortie in Iriga City:

    Kaming mga Otso Diretso, hindi kami kilala. Hindi talaga kami kilala sa pagnanakaw

Admitting one is not famous during an electoral campaign is tantamount to accepting defeat. If a tricycle driver had to choose between ex-con Robin Padilla and a total nobody like Eduardo “Dodong” Macarandang for a national-level government post – who will he likely choose?

Why join a beauty contest if you’re not beautiful, tall and smart? In like manner, why join a popularity contest when you aren’t famous already from the get go? Do you think a few months of chanting in the streets can change that?

Look at Bong Go, who started building an image to make himself known to the public through selfies with world leaders. He had a plan, and he invested and planted the seeds way in advance – bearing the marks of an expert political strategist like his boss. Now people are more than eager to vote for him just to have the assurance of having the president’s alter-ego in Senate halls.

Politics in the Philippines is probably 90% marketing and just 10% actual real substance. This is the reality Filipinos signed up for in choosing to be a democracy.

But with

    Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno
    Romulo Macalintal
    Samira Gutoc-Tomawis,

who the heck are these people???

Meaningless Slogan

    Ipaglaban ang ating bukas, boto mo ang lunas. Otso Diretso!

(lit. Fight for our future, your vote is the antidote. Eight Straight!)

What epic bankruptcy in campaign sloganeering: ipaglapan ang ating bukas??? Really? What does that even mean? Does anyone even still buy such commie-sounding motherhood-statement crap these days?

Laban could refer to Cory’s magic L-sign; so it probably means fighting the “dictator”. Without a dictator, a laban cause is relatively meaningless. That’s like saying “we are irrelevant without any antagonist.” And they need to convince Filipinos that the bad guy in today’s context is PRRD, who at some point the people gave their resounding thumbs up with an 80% approval rating.

Contrast this meaningless ipaglaban battlecry with how Duterte marketed himself with his Federalism and Anti-Drug Campaign – very clear and distinct target / end game.

Despite being around for decades, the LP camp has a lot to learn, … or rather unlearn. But as the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Will it be the end of their kind within the Philippine political landscape? In about 80 days (till the upcoming May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections), we’ll see the validation of what we already knew all along.

About zaxx
Zealous revolutionary advocate of bringing back common sense for the common good in a land of dysfunctional and delusional zombies.


The limits to audacity

By ANTONIO CONTRERAS       February 26, 2019

IT is already given. President Duterte is not shaped from the usual mold of politics. He is crude, and rude and vulgar. And for many, this is what endears him to the many people who worship him like a demi-god. What heightens the adulation is the fact that he comes in as a beautiful contrast to the exclusionary decency and pretentiousness of the yellow elites. He deconstructs and disturbs the comforts within which the oligarchs that dominated the political and economic landscapes thrived. He found a mark in locating his narrative in the context of creating a bogey out of the drug menace and painted it as a national crisis. And he whipped up among his mass base the fear that emanates from images of drug victimization and juxtaposed this with the hatred toward the elites that ruled by excluding and exploiting.

Initially accommodating of the left, which he even granted space in his cabinet, he later turned on them, and added fuel to the anti-left sentiments of his supporters who are adherents of a mainly conservative and right-wing ideology and who are advocates of strong states, the death penalty and criminalizing even children. It didn’t help that the common thread that binds the political opposition is a liberal progressive ideology that advocates for human rights and the strengthening of democratic institutions. Never in our history as a republic has liberal progressive politics been so maligned, and human rights been so misunderstood.

And then there is the era of anti-intellectualism, where smart-shaming becomes a weapon of convenience for people who celebrate non-expertise as a foil to the elitism of the educated and the schooled. Whereas in the past, having an advanced academic degree was seen as a needed warrant to bestow credibility, social media presided over the diminution of diplomas when non-trained but Google-literate bloggers acquired the air of expertise on issues that ranged from the Constitution to vaccination. This is a reaction to the perceived exclusionary and derisive elitism which the schooled and the learned harbored towards ordinary people. The university as an institution is now seen in the Duterte era as a breeding ground of snobbish, out-of-touch intellectuals who are mostly liberal or left-sympathizers. Consequently, they are perceived as enablers of the political opposition, rebellion and destabilization.

The anti-intellectualism that juxtaposes with blind idolatry finds its clearest manifestation in how Duterte supporters, if only to propagate the mythology of a super-president, forcefully assert and insist, contrary to every lesson in basic introductory political science on the principle of separation of powers, that he is bestowed with actual legislative powers. There is no debate that the term of the President saw the passage of legislation that exceeded the record of his predecessor. And he should be thanked for providing the enabling environment for the passing of such laws.

But one needs to be told that while the President can influence the process of making laws by certifying a bill as urgent, articulating a legislative agenda in his state of the nation address (SONA), or convening the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac), legislation is the sole prerogative of Congress. While it is a fact that the President can exercise his veto power, he doesn’t have the final word considering that Congress can exercise its sole power to override such veto which the President can’t reverse. In fact, a statute passed by Congress can lapse into becoming a law if the President fails to sign it 30 days after receipt.

It must be noted that while the President’s support may have seen the passage of some of these laws, he has rarely certified bills as urgent. He also has not been active in convening Ledac meetings, and in fact he is often quoted as saying that he respects the independence of Congress. While some of his legislative priorities have been addressed by Congress in the case of the Train law and the law on rice tariffs, his support for the re-imposition of the death penalty and the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility appear to be facing stiff opposition in the Senate. This only shows that while support of any President is valued, it doesn’t guarantee immediate or actual passage of a law unless Congress acts favorably on it. The most dramatic evidence of how the President doesn’t meddle in the affairs of Congress is his admission that he was practically helpless in preventing the ouster of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

But if there is anything that should worry us, it is the fact that while many Duterte supporters believe that he is exempt from the law of diminishing political capital, seen in how he continues to enjoy high approval ratings, and even if he survives, the toll that the prevailing political psychology and culture may inflict on our political landscape in the long run may not be as certain as it is made to appear. If there is one thing that is certain in the uncertain world of politics, it is that there is always a limit, and that nothing is forever.

Recently, one could sense a more tepid reaction to the President’s renewed tirades against the Catholic Church, and to his renewed call for an even fiercer war on drugs. Either people are now becoming desensitized, or that while audacity may be novel at first, there is always the risk that the magic can eventually wear off. It is good that this happens at a time that a string of laws has been signed by the President, thanks to Congress. The danger lies when things become more unfavorable, his political enemies become more emboldened, and his followers remain deluded by the fantasy that he is politically immortal.


Five facts about EDSA we didn’t know at the time

By RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO       February 25, 2019

MOST likely it is another case of the adage that history is written by the victors. But there are facts — now indisputable — that we didn’t know, or were hidden from public knowledge, during the February 1986 People Power Revolt and even three decades later.

Perhaps because of the disillusionment with the presidency of the son of the so-called heroine of EDSA 1, the facts have been ferreted out, or have simply become clearer. The following five facts are from documents and eyewitness accounts, and not from some “anonymous” sources, which the space constraints of a newspaper column do not allow me to list.

Fact 1: Cory Aquino had little to do with EDSA 1.

Ironically, it was Marcos’ legal and military pillar, his longtime defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile who — in a last stand to defend himself and his “RAM boys” from certain doom — was mainly responsible for EDSA 1.

The events that led to it were triggered by the botched coup attempt by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) cabal of colonels under Enrile’s aegis. It was to have been a classic coup by colonels as happened in many Latin American countries and other Third World nations. The leaders were Gregorio Honasan, Tirso Gador, Rex Robles, Tito Legaspi, Red Kapunan and Felix Turingan.

As revealed in Juan Ponce Enrile’s biography published in 2012 and in articles written by the colonels themselves since 1986, the conspirators after months of planning, decided to attack — boldly or foolishly — Malacañan Palace at 2 a.m. of Feb. 23, 1986, and capture Marcos and his family, and for its coup d’etat to take over government.

Talking incessantly to foreign and local media for months about their opposition to Marcos, it is astonishing that the RAM was so confident, or naïve, that its plot wouldn’t be uncovered.

Enrile only realized their plot had been uncovered when a hysterical Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin on the morning of February 22 called him to complain that his military security detail had been arrested by the Marines that night. Ongpin wasn’t aware that his security detail were RAM members. They were, rather amateurishly, reconnoitering the residence of Marine commander Gen. Artemio Tadiar to prepare for their planned attack on him the next day, when they were spotted by Military Police and arrested.

After lunch that day, Enrile, realizing that his and his RAM boys’ plot had been uncovered, decided that rather than being ignominiously arrested and executed, decided to take a “last stand” at his headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Several of the RAM boys had been in close contact for months with foreign correspondents — a favorite source of assets for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A 2015 newspaper article by three RAM colonels revealed that an emissary from the Pentagon promised the RAM the US government’s protection from arrest if it “refrained from employing violent methods in pursuing its reformist goals.”

Did Enrile and his RAM boys expect that the Pentagon would keep its word and intervene in some way to save them from Marcos’ wrath?

Enrile though was clever to immediately call foreign correspondents to Camp Crame to cover what he thought was his last stand, after then Vice Chief of Staff and longtime PC Commander Fidel Ramos agreed to join him in his mutiny.

Another brilliant move of Enrile was to call Cardinal Sin to ask his faithful to surround Camp Crame to form their human shield. People Power, or People Fodder?

Fact 2: Only a small faction of the military supported the mutineers.
Enrile’s RAM boys consisted mostly of the colonels he had taken under his wing as defense minister. Air Force Commander Vicente Piccio, Army Commander Josephus Ramas and Marine Commandant Tadiar were all loyal to the chain of command. The Philippine Constabulary surprisingly though, as it was headed for more than a decade by Ramos who was succeeded by his protégé Renato de Villa, was divided in its loyalties.

The Marcos military succumbed to the EDSA forces because they realized that they were helpless facing the huge crowds. Marcos had given them the categorical order which was impossible to implement — “Disperse the crowds but do not shoot them.”

Isn’t it Marcos therefore that made it possible for EDSA to be a “peaceful revolution”?

Contrast that to the political will of the Chinese Communist Party, which ordered a column of tanks and battalions of People’s Liberation Army soldiers to disperse the thousands of protesters trying to mimic EDSA 1 in 1989 in Tiananmen Square.

Fact 3: The US betrayed Marcos, shanghaiing him to Hawaii.
US authorities told Marcos that it would accede to his request to evacuate him and his family by helicopter from Malacañang to Laoag City, the capital of his home province Ilocos Norte. They instead brought him to Hawaii.

We’ll never know what Marcos — who even his archenemies concede was a brilliant strategist — intended to do in the North: Rally his army to defend him and re-take Malacañang, or to negotiate a peaceful retirement?

The Yellow propaganda, of course, deviously made a joke out of it, that Marcos thought he was going to Paoay, but was instead brought to Hawaii. That joke made most Filipinos conclude that Marcos fled to the US in fear of his and his family’s life. Paoay, however, is a fourth-class municipality that didn’t have any emotional links to Marcos, who was born in Sarrat.

The truth is that testimonies in hearings in the US Congress (which investigated what funds were used for the Marcos operation) incontrovertibly show that the US military initially had orders to take Marcos and his party to Laoag.

The helicopters, however, decided to land at Clark Air Base, telling him it had become dangerous to fly to Laoag City since they had arrived right after dawn. That was a lie: US choppers and their pilots – trained through the Vietnam and other wars – could land in any flat terrain and even in the darkest nighttime.

The truth is that the US military received a request from Cory Aquino for Marcos to be evacuated to Hawaii, which it immediately did, after clearance from the White House itself.

Fact 4: Under both the 1935 and 1973 Constitution, Corazon Aquino was not qualified to run for president in the 1986 “snap elections.”
Both the 1935 and 1973 constitutions specified that a president must be a “resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election.” Cory had left the Philippines together with her husband — voluntarily — to live in Boston in 1980.

So, why didn’t Marcos, a lawyer, and his stable of the country’s brightest legal minds raise this objection to Cory’s candidacy?

Perhaps he was confident that there was no way for Cory to win the snap elections. Or perhaps the Americans demanded that he prove his legitimacy in an electoral contest with Aquino’s widow. The country’s fate at that time was in the hands of the US-controlled International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and a group of foreign banks, mostly American, that agreed to the orderly rescheduling of the country’s foreign debts. Without US support of the program, the country would have been plunged into an economic meltdown.

The Comelec count had Marcos winning by a margin of 1.5 million votes. The partial unofficial tally of Namfrel — which was then headed by Jose Concepcion who became Aquino’s first trade secretary — had Cory winning by half a million votes. A brilliant move by RAM was to have their wives and relatives – who “volunteered” with the Comelec’s quick count as encoders – walk out of the televised tally, creating the propaganda that these “ordinary citizens” were protesting Marcos’ cheating.

All these data became irrelevant of course when Cory imposed just a month after Marcos fell, on March 25, 1986, a revolutionary government, which made her a dictator monopolizing executive, legislative and judicial powers until the 1987 Constitution was ratified.

Fact 5: Cory’s 1986 electoral campaign was handled by a US PR firm.
Sawyer Miller, an American public relations and political strategist firm that would be in the 1980s and 1990s, the most expensive and most sought-after outfit in the world after EDSA 1, handled almost in its entirety Cory Aquino’s public performance in the 1986 snap elections. This is confirmed by US documents that Sawyer Miller submitted in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Its operations during the electoral campaign to transform Aquino’s bland widow to a fiery candidate has been revealed in detail in the James Harding’s book Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin into a Global Business (2008: Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The blurb in the book’s jacket described the firm: “A political powerhouse, directing democratic revolutions from the Philippines to Chile, steering a dozen presidents and prime ministers into office.”

Sawyer Miller’s man on the ground who coached Cory and wrote nearly all of her speeches was one British citizen Malloch Brown, disguised as a correspondent of the British newsmagazine The Economist. Brown, the book reported, even had to sit on the floor of Cory’s campaign bus to hide him from public view.

After Sawyer Miller, Brown would two decades later become United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, and then a UK government minister. Brown was knighted in 2007, after which he has been addressed as Lord Malloch Brown.

According to the book, it was Brown who got Cory to stick to a single message “with bumper-sticker simplicity: Marcos is corrupt. Marcos is a dictator.”

Brown’s messaging formed the core of the Yellow narrative of EDSA, brainwashed in the minds of a generation of Filipinos. They even inanely think they can use the same messaging in the case of Duterte.

This piece is one of five articles in the chapter “The EDSA Revolt” that debunks the myths over this episode in our nation’s history, in my book Debunked: Uncovering Hard Truths about EDSA, Martial Law, Marcos, Aquino, with a Special Section on the Duterte Presidency, available in most bookstores and through online ordering, www.rigobertotiglao.com/debunked.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Archives at: www.rigobertotiglao.com


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Dengvaxia is No Excuse to Fail in Preventing the Measles Outbreak

February 22, 2019 - by ChinoF

Recently, the party-list candidate group ANA Kalusugan staged a rally and press conference in Manila, holding the former in front of the Department of Health. They charged that the DOH was remiss in preventing the measles outbreak that recently claimed more than 180 lives. This outbreak may be blamed by some on the recent paranoia following the questionable Dengvaxia dengue vaccine implementation during the past administration. Some would say the DOH would be bogged down even if it tried to convince people to get vaccinated. But this is bunk, says ANA Kalusugan. They said the Department of Health knew that there was a drop in vaccinations last year and it could have mounted a campaign to convince people to have their children vaccinated. The agency could differentiate it from the Dengvaxia case easily, and it had all the funds and time to do it. Yet the DOH did nothing.
Arroyo administration cabinet secretary and ANA Kalusugan party list nominee Mike Defensor said the DOH spent all of its 2018 budget for immunization, which was worth P7.43 billion. An additional P634 million was set aside for advertising.
However, the immunization rate was only 39 percent, which means 2 million children didn’t get the vaccine, and it also suggests that efforts to dispel myths about vaccination were likely to be lacking. Aside from the lives lost, there are now over 18,000 cases of measles around the country compared to over 2,400 last year.
Defensor and his group also wanted an audit of the immunization fund.
The suspicion by critics on Dengvaxia was that the Aquino administration rushed its implementation of the vaccine, either because the provider Sanofi Pasteur wanted to see if it works (thus experimenting on inoculees), or to rush it as part of the government bolstering its “concern-for-health” image.
Fast forward to today, there were reports that deaths were caused by the Dengvaxia itself. Furthering suspicion was Sanofi Pasteur itself coming out with a warning that its vaccine should not be used on people who have not yet been affected by the disease.
In addition, Senator Dick Gordon last year found that the DOH bought the Dengvaxia vaccine without the use of Congress-appropriated funds. The DOH has denied that any of the deaths claimed to be of Dengvaxia are actually caused by the vaccine, although filed cases that still claim this continue to pile up.
There is no such controversy with measles, polio and other vaccines. However, vaccinations for these diseases have also experienced drops, and thus there is potential for more children and adults to be affected by these conditions.
ANA Kalusugan says the responsibility for the drop in immunization and consequent rise of those afflicted with vaccinable diseases rests on the shoulders of the DOH as the lead agency of the immunization program. It seems nothing they did differentiated these vaccines from Dengvaxia and encouraged people to avail of them. Instead, it chose to focus mostly on answering accusations by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) led by Persida Acosta.
Measles outbreaks also continue around the world, reported in the United States, United Kingdom, Madagascar, Canada, Australia and other countries.
This is partly blamed on the anti-vaxxer movement, which was fueled in part by a study in the British Journal Lancet by Andrew Wakefield in the 1990s that claimed vaccines caused autism. The study was retracted by the journal in 2010 after investigations found Wakefield’s methodology fraudulent. Despite this, many people continue to subscribe to narratives that vaccines not only cause autism, but that they are part of a secret effort to try and cull populations.
To date, none of these narratives have been proven.
As our webmaster Benign0 said, the discussion on the Dengvaxia mess should have been less on finding who’s responsible for the Dengvaxia scare and more on what to do regarding other vaccinations.
A well-orchestrated information and persuasion campaign would have sufficed to convince people to come in and have themselves or their children vaccinated. Sadly, politicization of the issue has only helped to bog down any efforts to persuade people that Dengvaxxia is different from other vaccines.
Things like these show how health seems to be driven in the back seat these days.
Too bad we are not in the days of Juan Flavier, who as a health minister campaigned vigorously to bring physical and mental health to the national consciousness. ANA Kalusugan tries to bring back this kind of consciousness.
Both physical and mental health are important parts of our personal and societal well-being.
Mental health service especially is one thing I personally would like to see improved, and at least ANA Kalusugan has that on their agenda. We also be wary of myths about health, similar to the anti-vaxxer movement, which one of our bloggers has written about before.
Health issues, especially where government is concerned, will continue to be politicized. However, this should not stop Filipinos from pursuing the best for their health. This includes checking up with government health agencies to make sure they’re doing their job.
Our own health is something that we are all responsible for, in an age where lifestyle-based illnesses are common. As I said in my earlier post about mental health, sometimes what happens to us can be a result of our own doing, and that can apply to all of life aside from health.

About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture are pulling them down. And I blog freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.


On Continuous Publication, Updating Articles and SEO

In February 2019, the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation arrested the CEO of Rappler, Maria Ressa, over a cyber-libel case filed against her by businessman Wilfredo Keng. Ressa’s camp argued that the case is was invalid due to the fact that the alleged article that caused the suit was published months before RA 10175 Anti-Cybercrime Law has been put into effect. NBI initially agreed but later found a caveat to push the case: the article was “Updated” two years after it was originally posted on Rapppler’s website, in 2014. 

Rappler then counter-argued that the prescription period of one year for filing a libel case has lapsed. 

NBI presented several rebuttals: 1) that cyber-libel has a longer prescription period of more than one year; 2) that the article is in a state of “continuous publication” due to Rappler being an internet-only news outlet, and thus every time the article is loaded on a browser, it technically issues a brand new copy; 3) the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of Rappler which keeps its pages on top of search engines’ search results is also a form of continuous publication.

This article is a closer look at the reasons given by the law enforcers for Ressa’s arrest.

1. What is an “Updated Article”?

The article of Rappler was first published in 2012, but later updated in 2014. The key issue here is that in 2012, it was exempted from cyber-libel due to RA 10175 being a non-retroactive law. But then the article was updated in 2014, when the law was already in effect. Ressa claimed that the update was a “mere typographical correction of a single letter that has not been capitalized in the original.” Yet, if we look at the nature of how an update to articles was made, it does not matter if the update changes only a letter or the entire article.

The process of publishing an article online requires the entire text to be saved in a database. A database is where all the data is being saved, composed of tables and cells. A common interface for article publication online presents a single textbox for the entire article, thus the article is saved on a single cell in the table.

Now, what we call an “UPDATE” to a cell record in a database is technically a combination of DELETE and SAVE function simultaneously. This means, an updated article is indeed a brand new published article, as the original one is basically DELETED.

Updated articles online usually do not retain the original version/s for economic purposes. An exception to this is Facebook, which keeps all previous versions of a post in their Edit History. Rappler notably do not show copies of the original articles which means previous versions of their articles are deleted, the updated version the ONLY copy published. The dates of the original publication and the update are just that: dates. The dates are the only data kept in database.

The bottom line here is that Rappler re-published the Keng article in 2014, two years after RA 10175 is already a law. Whatever excuse Ressa comes up for updating the article is inconsequential because an updated article is a re-published article. Ressa could have got a better defense if, instead of deleting and replacing the original, they just issued an erratum below the original article, pointing to the erratic text, like how traditional media do.

2. Continuous Publication

Continuous publication is an interesting subject, especially when it comes to Rappler’s nature as an internet-only news outlet. To make sense of this, let us look at the nature of how Rappler’s articles are served: the same as any page of any website. That is, one load of an article is a unique copy of an HTML document, which can be saved AND PRINTED—which was one of the original functions of the WEB. Therefore, one page load or reload is considered a preparation to print the page, and it counts an instance of a published document. This makes a extra sense in web development where bandwidths are metered every time a page is requested by a visitor. One click to an article is considered a hit: a request from Rappler’s servers to “SERVE and PUBLISH A COPY OF THE ARTICLE” for that specific device trying to load the page. 

If the article has already been deleted on the database, it could no longer be considered published and each request would return a 404 (file not found) response. This is not the case with the Keng article. Rappler still serves the article as of February 2019. Rappler still earns from ads on that page. Basically, Rappler continuously publishes the article for profit.

The continuous publication, therefore, makes the date of the publication of the original article and the updated article insignificant as the prescription period, even if it is just one year, is being RESET every time one loads the article on their device. And in turn, they continually damage Mr. Keng’s reputation while Rappler earns more revenue, every time someone visits the said article.

And if that fact is not already daunting for news outlets that rely on the internet, there is more. Articles can be saved into screenshots. Each share of the screenshot across social media may also be considered a re-publication of the article in a digital image form. Articles can be shared. Each share of an article contains the headline and a summary of the article, which, if found substantial, can also be considered a re-publication of the article. On top of that all, we also have WEB ARCHIVES. Web archives are copies of pages saved on archive websites (like the Wayback Machine) which are saved for referential and historical purposes. Archives’ main purpose is to preserve a copy of a deleted web page that once served as a reference for another article. Even if, say, you deleted an article on your website to evade cyber-libel, your article may still be alive on these archives’ servers. These can be used as evidences that you truly wrote the article, and can also be considered an indirect continuous publication of the article.

This much digital footprints that an article leaves once it has been published online should prompt internet media outlets (and bloggers alike) to be extra careful with the contents they put up on the web. Nothing gets deleted on the internet. You have the right to remain offline. Everything you do or say online can be used and will be used against you. Maria Ressa and Rappler are now learning that the hard way.

3. Search Engine Optimization

SEO is a technical subject which has a wide array of sub-subjects. It is also subdivided into black hat (illegal), white hat (legal) and grey hat (sub legal, sub illegal.)

To explain it in layman, SEO is basically a game where you do certain things to remain on top of search results (like the results of Google search.) It’s simple, but its effects are astronomical in scale.

Let’s take Wilfredo Keng as an example. As a businessman, image is one of the things important to the survival of his business. Now, if someone uses Keng’s name as a search key, those that played the SEO game best will appear highest on Google’s search results. Rappler played this game a little further by being enlisted in Google News directory. Websites in this directory are not only listed in a special category of search results, they already have the advantage of listing highest on general search results.

Every time Google shows a snippet of the Keng article published by Rappler,the businessman is being brought under bad light, as well as his business, if we follow Mr. Keng’s reasons for filing the case. And it is not only Mr. Keng’s fight, as all his employees get affected every time his businesses lose clients due to the article.

SEO therefore is a game that affects lives, LITERALLY. And Google admitted on a recent article (published by 9to5Google) that they are also struggling in cracking fake news from their search engine, something that is not an easy endeavor. And that’s just Google alone. We also have other search engines with slightly different, and weaker, algorithms that can be easily played by SEO experts. Rappler, being an internet-only news outlet, is no doubt aware of this game, being heavily reliant on search results to gain reads. Snippets containing substantial texts putting Mr. Keng in bad light can also be considered continuous publication of the article. Furthermore, Google specially saves “caches” of pages listed on their search engine which can be considered another way that the article is being preserved and disseminated to the public even at the event that Rappler’s website goes down. Such snippets and caches are also part of Rappler’s overall strategy.

To wrap it all up, Rappler has come a long way of destroying Mr. Keng’s reputation for continuously publishing and distributing the article in various ways, for more than seven years. Keng claimed to have requested Rappler to take it down for many times, but the website still kept the article up and available. And for Wilfredo Keng’s case, being linked to drug syndicates and allegedly corrupt politicians is a big damage of inexplicable degree, even more now that there is an ongoing stigma brought upon by the government’s infamous “War on Drugs.” What about those employees of Mr. Keng who may have lost their jobs as an effect of Keng’s business losing clients?

As informed and educated people in our society, perhaps we should stop—even for a while—looking at the Rappler/Maria Ressa vs. NBI/Wilfredo Keng’s case as an “attack on press freedom.” Instead, let us observe how powerful the internet as technology can be. And how, on the wrong and irresponsible hands, it can destroy the reputation of one and the livelihood of many.

About Khayri R.R. Woulfe

Khayri R.R. Woulfe is an unorthodox chronicler in the immersionist, investigative, and deconstructionist perspective.