SUNDAY OVER YONDER

September 29, 2012

Time to rest a little. We are given a little reprieve this afternoon. We have been working since early morning at 8AM. And tomorrow, at 9AM, we will resume. Right now, our schedule is vacant. A little time to breathe.

The Muse cooked me a nice meal for lunch. My favorite pork sinigang plus adobo. I devoured it as if it were my last lunch. Sipped the sabaw too.

Tonight, maybe a good movie will help. Have to sleep early since I have to be up really early too.

I don’t know if tomorrow’s jamming will push through. So far there’s not much confirmation from the prospective attendees. Busy I am, it will favor me. Although I always enjoy talking to other people about literature. If they are interested, that it. So very few are interested. So I would rather devote time working.

My latest poem is about a gun that goes off in the hand of a gun-safety seminar speaker. There’s the irony there. And I do hope it gets printed.

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WJ ON SUNDAY

September 28, 2012

Some young writers here in my locality have been prodding me to hold the WG again anytime soon. But due to my tight schedule and some problems with venue, the event is postponed until prior notice. But then we are supposed to have the 100 Thousand Poets for a Change on September 29. Instead of the WG, we will be having the WJ, or the so-called writers’ jam. It will be an informal gathering of literary artists seeking to have company for a few hours and talk about their art. Small group poetry readings and some talks.

This will be held on Sunday, September 30. Meeting place will be at the Plaza Quince Martires in Naga City at 6pm. If the reader is interested, please send me a message here. Just bring some poems and some cash (for our food and drinks).

CURSORY READING OF RA 10175

September 27, 2012

I have been thinking of what constitutes “prior restraint”. I really have to read the RA 10175 in detail to make up my mind. Although my opinion would be just a speck of immaterial dust because it is the Supreme Court that is the final arbiter whether a law is constitutional or not. The findings of the High Court may not be law and a mere interpretation of what the law is, but still, it is part of our legal system.

I have been thinking that RA 10175 specialized libel, in the sense that there is now electronic libel. The thing is, since the passing of the electronic evidence rule, electronic libel has always been possible. Only this time, with this new law, it has become more specialized.

Since the Revised Penal Code provision on libel has always been there, will this new law constitute “prior restraint”? For one, our law on libel has never been seen as “prior restraint” at least, not according to jurisprudence.

You see in the Chavez case the DOJ and the NTC was warning media entities that continued airing of the “Hello Garci” tape would violate the Anti-Wiretapping Law hence they threatened said entities with closure and arrest. In that case, the “prior restraint” or censorship was the warning, while the threat of closure and arrest constituted “subsequent punishment”. We all know that the SC ruled against such “warning” even if it did not come in the form of official government issuance or order. It was after-all done in furtherance of government function and was threatening to violate freedom of the press. The Court even ruled that granting that the continued airing of the tapes could lead to a possible breach of the Anti-Wiretapping Law, said “warning” was never justified. It constituted “prior restraint.” The only justification would be if there is “clear and present danger”.

In other words, the Court was saying: “Let them do their job, and if they violate the anti-wiretapping law, then so be it. They could be prosecuted later. You just have no business telling them to shut up.”

Now we have to look at RA 10175 if it has the same effect as the “prior restraint” in the Chavez case which came as a “warning” from administrative bodies.

Now reading the RA 10175 itself, we can see that it has provisions on cybercrime offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data systems such as data interference, cybersquatting, illegal interception, etc. It has something on fraud, identity theft, cybersex, child pornography, and of course, libel.

The provision on libel reads: “Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

You see, it specialized libel, in effect making it electronic libel.

And here is the provision that they say would make you think twice before doing an FB click or share: “Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.”

This one makes electronic libel a heavier offense than libel as a felony, or as punished by the RPC: “All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.”

Hence if you commit Inciting to War and Giving Motives for Reprisals via FB by telling China to “Get it on! We are ready to slug it out with you. Our OFWs there will start the fight!” (Of course, I don’t really mean this. Just an example) the FB status will be the electronic evidence as saved via “print screen”. And you will be imposed a higher penalty if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

And of course, there is the warrant requirement (without prejudice to provisions of law allowing for warrantless arrests and searches, of course): “Exclusionary Rule. — Any evidence procured without a valid warrant or beyond the authority of the same shall be inadmissible for any proceeding before any court or tribunal.”

I agree that indeed many provisions are vague specially those pertaining to who aids or abets in cybercrime and how. Hence there is the provision on the IRR: “Implementing Rules and Regulations. — The ICTO-DOST, the DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall jointly formulate the necessary rules and regulations within ninety (90) days from approval of this Act, for its effective implementation.”

Hmmm… So far there is nothing similar to that “warning” in the Chavez case. There is no warning for example, that if we post on FB scurrilous libels against China, tending to involve the country in a war with it and tending to expose our citizens there for reprisals on their persons and property, we shall be committing Inciting to War and Giving Motives for Reprisals hence we must be restrained from posting anything. Else, we will be arrested or our PCs or netbooks, confiscated. Nothing of that sort. Only that this law makes the law on libel so much fiercer.

How will the Court rule on the petitions?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

THE PROBLEM WITH RA 10175

September 26, 2012

Too much law books made me forget about the news. It was only last night when I learned that RA 10175 or the CyberCrime Prevention Act of 2012 has been passed into law. I have been hearing about it and thought that it was only a bill. But mistaken I was, for it is now a law. And dura lex sed lex.

But Article 7 of the Civil Code provides that a law must conform to the Constitution else it could be nullified.

So many writers are questioning the validity of this law. I for one blogged earlier that the measure ought to be unconstitutional because there is a fundamental prohibition to any law that would violate freedom of speech and expression. True enough, there are now petitions calling for its unconstitutionality. From what I have read in one petition, RA 10175 makes the convict liable for libel both as a cybercrime and as a felony (as punished by the Revised Penal Code). There is definitely something wrong with that given our rule regarding double jeopardy. This is aside from the fact that the 1987 Constitution as explicated in the case of Chavez v. Gonzales provides for a two-fold rule when it comes to Freedom of Speech and Expression. Namely, there must be: 1.) Freedom from prior restraint, and 2.) Freedom from subsequent punishment.

And I learned that Sen. Guingona was the lone dissenter, invoking the above doctrine.

In my limited knowledge of the law, I know that with the RPC provision on libel notwithstanding, there is always an allowance for the so-called “Doctrine of Fair Comment.” Well-placed and well-constructed criticism is always welcome in a democratic society. The law on libel is there, perhaps just to discourage people from bringing the law into their own hands by verbally maligning those who have wronged them. It then prods people to use the machinery of the legal system to attain justice.

The more important issue now is what constitutes “prior restraint”? In the Chavez case, it was the Justice Secretary and the NTC’s warnings to the media that continued airing of the scandalous “Hello Garci” tape shall be a violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act, hence a ground for closure and arrest. Would a duly enacted law on cybercrime or electronic libel constitute “prior restraint”?

But in the Chavez case the Supreme Court ruled that not every violation of the law will justify straitjacketing the exercise of freedom of speech and of the press. The government must prove “clear and present danger”. And there was no showing that the feared violation of the anti-wiretapping law clearly endangers the national security of the State. Hence the DOJ and NTC warnings constituted “prior restraint” as they were delivered as part of official government function. The act does not have to be converted to a formal order or official circular to be considered a breach of press freedom.

Is a possible commission of electronic libel enough to restrain bloggers and social networkers from printing strongly-worded statements on issues they care about? Is there “clear and present danger” that the government would collapse because of it? In the case of Chavez, it was a mere order and yet it was shot down. In the case of RA 10175, it is not just an order, but a law, for that matter. Definitely, it comes under the purview of official government function and inherent State power which is law-making or police power. And Article Three of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights is addressed to the State and its agents. It is a provision that would safeguard the people from possible government overstep on private rights.

POETIC LICENSE

September 25, 2012

Something I learned when I was studying poetics is that the persona or the speaking voice in the poem is not necessarily the author. This comes to mind as a writer-friend sent me a Facebook message telling me to be careful because my latest poem is so thought provoking and might provoke the wrong people–those who don’t understand the art of poetry.

You see the poet is simply being utilized by the so-called poetic voice in the biosphere. The elements of the poem are not entirely of his own making but are the result of the interplay between internal and external metaphoric meditation. The poet breathes in and out the soul of the poem which is more than language at its face value.

Anyway, that poem is done, and onward I move to the next one.

DAD’S VISIT

September 24, 2012

Yesterday, a Sunday, was time for me to have bonding with my father. I woke up really late, the night before being my free time. Dad got to my apartment just a few minutes after lunch. Earlier, I was thinking of working at my desk for half the day’s worth. Have so much tax laws to catch up with. But then I changed my mind. Family first.

So there we were, father and son, ransacking the KNN Video Center for war films. But we could not find anything new. So we picked two anti-hero films about an assassin and a robber, “The American” and “The Town”. Could very well be “The American Town”.

We both liked the two films. We even ended up debating on the legal aspect of the film: the crimes committed, the criminal liabilities and participation of the protagonists–the tax liabilities. Oh my. You see, income from any source is subject to tax, even those from illegal business.

Then came the merienda. We liked the Italian idyllic scenes of the film “The American”. It inspired  us to have bread and pasta. No coffee, for we’d rather have tea.

Outside of the house, the rain was pouring. Dad got a little bit worried because he still had to come back to Iriga City. So off he went, thinking that the rain showed no sign of stopping and could flood his way if he stayed a little longer.

So there I was, alone and feeling lazy. I could not even make myself go out of the house to attend Mass. I simply went online, then watched YouTube videos. I could not sleep, though the rain made bed time conducive. Had to get up and watch TV. I caught the Enrile biography documentary and noted that our ruling class here in the Philippines seems to be made up of people who are members of the same social club, or better yet, theater group.

Soon after all of this pursuits, I will build another home for my folks and pamper them. This apartment has always been the home of the poet in me. I will need another for the family, the missus and the kids.

SUNDAY MORNING

September 23, 2012

Hiyas Hidlao came for a visit last night. The Muse fetched her at nearby mall. It was a chance for me to ask her about the happenings there in Albay. So we had food, some films and conversations. Rainy night it was, and the girls were having toothache.

Folks are coming today. Perhaps we will go to a nearby cinema. And a bookstore maybe.

RAINY WEEKEND

September 22, 2012

It’s been raining here in Naga. Mike Padua was on radio earlier, telling the public of a weather disturbance of Southeast Asian origin. Law professor said the heavy rains should wait for the night where it would be more conducive. Conducive for cuddling or perhaps more.

My adjournment sine die will have to wait for tomorrow. Folks aren’t coming. Perhaps due to the rain. So a KNN VCD would do the trick for tonight, just so I could have reprieve from stress.

As for the WG on the 29th, will keep you posted. Sheila Basbas will be arranging with the new venue, the Almaree’s Bar along Barlin Street. We are thinking of having a slam session, just to continue what we started last summer when Ronel Amata was still here in the country. Will work on the prizes and will give updates soon. To those writers near the vicinity, you are free to attend. Bring some poems for you to read.

And of course my band will still play. I hope we could have time for rehearsals this weekend.

TEA PARTY

September 22, 2012

The wait. We usually have this when the professor is still not around.

Spent a productive chat session with the Basbas family last night. Had a nice hot tea, cassava roll, and lots of insightful talk. Our topics ranged from treason to alien invasion (or residency?). Until the next tea party, yeah!

CRAM SESSION

September 21, 2012

Something seems to be wrong with the wifi connection at law school. I cannot get in. Or maybe my netbook has a virus lurking somewhere. Good thing that Naga City has so many hotspots.

Been getting up early. I have so many things to read and digest. And I figure, getting up at dawn is the more poetic way of working on my laws.

All quiet at the Eastern part, to paraphrase a great novel.

Perhaps we will push through with the WG on the 29th. I was feeling kinda lazy because I have so much work. And there is this plan by Kabulig that there will be a performance poetry gig on the 29th, same venue as mine. I learned about it from the manager of Sosimo. He told me that someone’s arranging to use their venue also. I was thinking of consolidating the two events, but now I learned that the Kabulig event is postponed. So if things work out with the sponsor, we will have WG on the 29th at Almaree’s. Will update you readers.

I wrote this new poem entitled “Cram Session”. It’s about the Robredo tragedy. I sent it to a magazine for possible publication. I really hope it gets printed. Fingers crossed.