Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto: 1953 to 2007

Upon Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan last October, there was a [very] brief moment when i thought Pervez Musharraf, learning from Marcos' own failure to reconcile with Ninoy or conversely, F.W. de Klerk's success in reconciling with Nelson Mandela, would actually engineer a political reconciliation either as a way of co-opting and neutralizing her, or as a genuine act of statemanship. The sad reality is that dictators are seldom able to deny their nature.

Here's Bhutto's NY Times Op-Ed from last month where she writes about Musharraf's Martial Plan (via Firedoglake). I can only hope that her half-expected, but nevertheless still shocking murder does not set-off an even more fateful chain of events reminiscent of a previous assasination that took place in Europe almost a hundred years ago.

You can also read Rom's analysis as well as that of John Marzan.

Update 01-01-2008: Via Crookedtimber, an assessment by Jemima Khan, concluding that As Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto Did Little.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Interfaith Prayer Assembly Against a Morally Bankrupt Arroyo Administration

Forwarded invitation:

The events of the past weeks have shown in unmistakable terms the deep and intense political crisis that continues to engulf the nation under the current Arroyo administration.

The incident at the Manila Peninsula is a stern reminder that there are still unresolved issues of legitimacy, corruption, human rights abuses and unprecedented abuse of power under the guise of upholding the rule of law. While there may be varying opinions on the Manila Peninsula incident, it is clear that the issues raised were all too familiar. That various groups and personages continue to protest these issues is a clear manifestation that the ruling administration has done little to address them.

What is also disturbing is that the government's response to dissent has been more repression and threats addressed to the citizenry. The images of media workers being hauled like criminals - and the imposition of a curfew, the first since Martial Law - reminds us that repression remains the principal response to dissent under this administration.

And despite claims of growth and development, and the pretense of a "good economist" in Malacañang, many of our countrymen still cry out for economic justice; for land, better wages and decent services. The economic crunch has in fact dampened whatever remaining holiday cheer there may be.

The crisis has gotten worse with many of our people going abroad because they see no hope in our country. Unless the above issues are satisfactorily addressed, we can expect the same turbulence, desperation and frustration to mark the remaining years of this administration.

As the year comes to an end and a new one is imminent, we are again called to renew our commitment to truth and justice. We are again called to stand together to call for accountability in government. We stand firm in rejecting a morally bankrupt Arroyo government as we strive to achieve national unity and renewal.


Concept Paper of the Interfaith Assembly

The Interfaith Prayer Assembly for the Nation is the second activity of an emerging partnership between Catholic Bishops-Religious Leaders and Citizens Groups. The working relations started with discussions about the current national situation participated in by the various religious leaders and concerned citizens groups last November.

From the discussions came about a Unity Statement that was printed as a paid advertisement in a major daily. The statement called for the "rejection of a morally bankrupt government." Signatories to the statement also came together last November 30 to mark Bonifacio Day and trumpet the rejection call. Thousands joined the mass action at the Liwasang Bonifacio.

The same religious leaders and cause-oriented groups again convened to discuss the events that happened in the Manila Peninsula last November 29. There was common concern regarding the unresolved issues that continue to bring about the political crisis.

A proposal for an Interfaith Prayer Assembly came about as groups continue to express their strong rejection of the current bankrupt Arroyo administration. There is a need to come together once more and affirm our commitment to truth and justice and the decisive resolution of the issues of legitimacy, corruption, human rights abuses and abuse of power. The activity will also serve as a meaningful year ender as the various groups take stock of the achievements in the struggle for the past year and look forward to the challenges ahead.

What is the Interfaith Activity?

The Interfaith Prayer Assembly would involve various faiths and cause-oriented groups coming together in prayer and action for the nation. It would be a venue to express our common sentiments for change in the nation's leadership, a coming together of groups and personalities staunchly opposed to the current bankrupt leadership. The activity will follow the format of a prayer assembly (as opposed to the usual format of a rally).

What is the Theme?

The interfaith activity will reprise the earlier theme of standing together to reject a morally bankrupt administration. It is the broadest basis of unity so far achieved among the religious leaders and various citizens groups. The activity will call on the people to intensify the fight for the decisive resolution of the outstanding issues against the Arroyo administration and for the advancement of meaningful reforms. It is a statement that we vow to relentlessly pursue the fight next year.

Who are the Participants?

All are invited to attend. Aside from the convening groups, we expect participants from all walks of life, all faiths and denominations and various cause-oriented groups.

When and Where will it be Held?

The activity will be held outdoors at the Sulayman Plaza, in front of the Malate Church, Roxas Boulevard on December 14, from 4-7:00 PM.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Senator Pimentel's Report on Trillanes

Via Ellen Tordesillas:

Senator Aquilino Pimentel visited fellow Senator Antonio Trillanes and the other detainees from the Peninsula Standoff. He provided the following report in the form of a PowerPoint presentation:

I have extracted the following highlights from the above presentation:
  • Shots were fired to make it appear that there was an armed uprising going on in the Pen when in fact there was none.
  • The presence of media prevented a bloodbath.
  • Trillanes explains that his cause – even the recent Peninsula Hotel incident - was not an armed uprising or a rebellion. They wanted, he said, to simply air their grievance against their prolonged detention and pendency of the criminal charges against them in the Makati court and several disciplinary charges against them in various court martials.
Update 12-12-07 7:01PM: More clarifications from Senator Trillanes regarding his PDAF Allocation and apology to the Court.

Update 12-14-07 12:43AM: Schumey displays a copy of Senator Trillanes' letter to Senator Enrile.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Sumilao Farmers' March: What's at Stake

Those who believe that the Sumilao March is of little concern to them should consider the following:

"Theory and empirical evidence suggest that widespread ownership of land not only improves equity but also improves land productivity. All the [High Performing Asian Economies (HPAEs)] with substantial agrarian sectors have widespread land holding, resulting from either traditional ownership patterns (Indonesia and Thailand) or land reform (Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, China). Malaysia, with a relatively small population and ample land, is an exception; there, corporate-owned plantations have dominated agricultural output since the colonial era. Hong Kong and Singapore have almost no agricultural sector." - World Bank Development Brief Number 21, October 1993
"inequality in the ownership of land not only is more important for explaining growth than inequality in the distribution of income, it also turns the distribution of income into an inconsequential factor." - Elhann Helpman, The Mystery of Economic Growth
"The [feudalization of industry] manifests itself in the pervasiveness of rent-seeking activity on the part of the local industrial elite, reflecting the dual activity (perhaps 'schizophrenia' would be more appropriate) of that group, which has one foot still in the landlord-tenant relations of the countryside and the other foot in the urban or industrial commercial sector. There has never occurred a severing of the links between the landed elite and the urban industrial / commercial elite as there has been for example in certain other Asian coutnries via the overthrow of landlord power through genuine land reform." [emphasis mine] (O'Connor 1990) - Temario C. Rivera, Landlords & Capitalists: Class, Family, and State in Philippine Manufacturing
"More significantly for policy purposes, though, are the findings that per capita expenditure, per capita income, and per capita net farm incomes of farmers owning lands...are significantly higher than their counterparts who do not own land. This shows unambiguously the importance of ownership or control of the land in determining incomes of farmers. Moreover, he also found that the odds that a household is non-poor is higher by between 1.8 and 2.6 times than the odds that it will be poor, if it owns land—again reinforcing the importance of land ownership. For poverty reduction, and for income growth, CARP is crucial." - Solita Monsod, A Look at CARP’s Impact on Poverty and Growth, 12/01/2007
What the Sumilao farmers are fighting for are the keys to our economic development which for too long have been in the hands of a pathological and predatory elite.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez Creates Own Time Zone

With the latest announcement from their President, Venezuelans must be wondering whether they are edging towards this classic Bananas moment.

Equality as a Factor in Economic Takeoffs

Below is my response to Silent Water's comment over at Manolo's has gone under moderation so i'm reposting it here. (You may have to read my preceding comment to follow the discussion.)
"Silent Waters, i'm not a communist but try to look at things objectively. You need only observe at how fast the land of your grandfathers is taking off economically to see that the combination of Communism first and then Market Reforms later, does work. If it's any comfort to you, i'm not advocating communism (especially the Maoist kind). Other countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea was also able to take off without having to go communist. They just addressed the issue of inequality early enough so that it does not get in the way of economic growth. Dictatorship is also not my first preference. The case of India, (another country which followed Socialist prescriptions and then introduced Market reforms) shows that you don't have to be a dictatorship to engineer an economic takeoff.

You seem to believe that what distinguishes the elite, middle class and the poor is hard work. That's not the case since Philippine society is not (and has never been) a meritocracy. If you're born poor, you're likely to die poor no matter how hard you work. The poor people you look down on as being 'lazy' are smart enough to know the odds. It's only people's elitist attitude that keeps them from seeing that.
" - cvj December 9th, 2007 at 1:32 am
Update Feb-01-2008: In an essay at the Boston Review, Pranab Bardhan explains why equality has proven to be a "good launching pad" for market reform:
"China’s earlier socialist period arguably provided a good launching pad for market reform. That foundation provided wide access to education and health care; highly egalitarian land redistribution that created a rural safety net and thus eased the process of market reform, with all its wrenching disruptions and dislocations; increased female labor participation and education that enhanced women’s contribution to economic growth; and a system of regional economic decentralization (that linked the career paths of Communist Party officials to local area performance). County governments were in charge of production enterprises long before Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms set in, and, even more significantly, the earlier commune system’s production brigades evolved into the highly successful township and village enterprises that led the later phenomenal rise of rural industrialization."
(Via 3Quarksdaily.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Statement of La Salle Brothers: Let Us Start The Change We Want To See

La Salle Green Hills Retreat House
National Heroes Day
30 November 2007
To all Filipinos of goodwill,

Profoundly disturbed by recent events, we the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines, have decided as a body to exercise our vocation as teachers and guides by raising our voices in protest at the moral degeneration that has infiltrated almost every aspect of public life since we called for a restoration of faith in democracy in 2005.

In July of that year, we and our colleagues issued a public statement in response to the crisis brought on by the Garcillano tapes and the ensuing controversies surrounding President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. At that time, we spoke out as educators, charged with the moral guidance of the young and concerned with upholding the values of honesty, integrity and truthfulness in public life and civil society. In that statement, we affirmed the principle that moral ascendancy is a critical ingredient to effective governance, and warned that a leadership without moral authority cannot realistically command the respect of a nation. Today, two years later, we are alarmed and ashamed that the situation has increasingly worsened. The signs of moral disintegration abound:

  • the escalating number of acts of violence against journalists, leftists and members of the legal opposition, which according to a report of the UN Human Rights Council representative have been perpetrated by some elements in the military;
  • unresolved anomalies in government, including the aborted ZTE-NBN deal and the fertilizer scam, which involve billions of pesos in public funds;
  • the large amounts of cash distributed in brown bags to some lawmakers at Malacañang just as impeachment moves were being initiated and firmed up in Congress and the facile efforts to hide the truth about their origins and purpose;
  • concerted efforts among some lawmakers and government officials to block attempts at establishing truth and securing accountability;
  • the corruption of the electoral system as manifested in various anomalies related to the last national elections.
The net effect of these, together with past anomalies, has been to further undermine confidence in practically every institution of government. Widespread despair with these existing institutions can only spawn violence and increasing military adventurism. We need only think of the fiasco at the Manila Peninsula on 29 November 2007 to see that this is so.

What is even more lamentable is the degree to which many Filipinos have become desensitized to the stench of corruption because of the unending stream of government-related scams, cover-ups and scandals. The unwillingness of the public to engage in peaceful public exercises of moral outrage and to support calls for government accountability bespeak a weary cynicism and loss of hope in all possibility of meaningful change that is especially alarming for us as educators.

This retreat from civic responsibility bodes ill for the future. This is perhaps our generation’s greatest crime: to rob our people, especially our youth, of the conviction that noble ideals are worth every sacrifice and that moral principles must prevail in public life.

For these reasons, even if it amounts to no more than a voice crying out in the wilderness, we, the De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines, feel the need to proclaim once again the same values we espoused in 2005: truth, justice, honesty and integrity. Without these, no government can be trusted, and where there is no trust, governance degenerates into bribery and intimidation.

We join in the call of courageous religious leaders and of proven men and women of conscience who seek a moral revolution. But if such a call is to become more than mere lip-service, we must translate it into effective action on behalf of the values we espouse, keeping in mind the legal framework of the Constitution. We call on men and women of goodwill to act now to make real the change they want to see.

To all parents, teachers, pastors, religious and all those charged with the moral formation of youth: God has given us the extraordinary privilege of mentoring the young and laying the foundations of our country’s future. Let us not betray God’s trust. Let us teach the young that what is happening today is wrong. Let us teach them that a life without moral virtue or principle is no life at all, but a subhuman existence unworthy of their dignity as children of God. Let us teach them that we are all answerable to God for what we have made, not just of our lives, but also of our nation. Let us teach them, as one man showed us years ago, that the Filipino is worth dying for.

To all Filipino workers here and abroad, farmers and fisherfolk, men and women in business, entrepreneurs and professionals: your efforts and earnings sustain the economic and political life of our country. In solidarity with one another, demand more from this government. Come together to hold this country’s leadership accountable for their stewardship of the taxes you pay. Demand that every centavo be properly allocated and accounted for. Demand transparency and fairness in all business transactions. Consider the long-term goals and voice your displeasure at lost opportunities and the abuses that squander our nation’s wealth to the detriment of all, especially the poor.

To all artists, poets, writers and media practitioners: you are the vanguards of culture. You bear the great responsibility of ennobling the soul and creating a culture supportive of truth, justice and respect for human dignity. Focus on this task. Create visions and words that inspire and move our people to live up to what is best in them.

To all our men and women in uniform: our hearts go out to you for the ready sacrifices you have made again and again in the service of our nation. We acknowledge with gratitude the selflessness many of you have shown again and again. Remember that you are called to be defenders of the Constitution and protectors of human rights. Please do not fail in this charge. Let it be clear, however, that we do not condone military adventurism for it is inconsistent with the basic democratic values we hold dear.

To all civil servants, legislators and government workers: we believe that you also dream of a better nation for our children. We beg you to resist the culture of corruption. Help us build a future full of hope for our children.

To all our alumni and alumnae: we encourage you to take cognizance of the education you have received from La Salle all these years. As dark clouds hover in the horizon, we challenge you to and make a difference. Take heart from your fellow alumnus, Jose W. Diokno, and his vision of “a free nation, where men and women and children from all regions and with all kinds of talents may find truth and play and sing and laugh and dance and love without fear…”

We end this statement by sharing with you, our fellow Filipinos, this prayer of hope as we, the De La Salle Brothers look to 2011, the 100th year of the Lasallian ministry of education in the Philippines:

Lord, let me be the change I want to see
To do with strength and wisdom
All that needs to be done
And become the hope that I can be.
Set me free from my fears and hesitations.
Grant me courage and humility.
Fill me with spirit to face the challenge
And start the change I want to see.
Today, I start the change I want to see.
Even if I’m not the light, I can be the spark.
In faith, service and communion
Let us start the change we want to see,
The change that begins in me.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dream Academy's "A Crazy Christmas"

I just watched A Crazy Christmas, a Christmas concert by eleven of the best and most accomplished musical and theater performers of Singapore. If you happen to be in Singapore between now and December 9, i highly recommend that you watch the show. (For details, click on the link above.)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Phillippine Middle Class Plays Machiavelli

Over at Manolo's Victory of the New Society thread, I have been having a discussion with commenter 'Silent Waters'. My latest response has gone 'under moderation' so i'm reposting it here. (To follow the discussion, you may need to refer back to Manolo's thread starting here.)
"I think that reality dictates that we accept FOR NOW, the situation wherein the elites will protect their interest. and the middle class have become expedient. That should be the framework to come up with a strategy to fix the problem." - Silent Waters
My response: Fixing the problem involves dismantling that framework. It is in our interest to establish a different framework based on fair play and genuine democratic values because the Middle Class does not have the resources or numbers to play Machiavellian games.
"Your ideas are good in the theoretical world where everybody will be the goody two shoes you expect them to be. Fact is, they’re not." - Silent Waters
My response: Bayanihan is not a theoretical concept. If you think it is in our interest to sustain an environment that is hostile to the 'goody two shoes' (i.e. decent folks), then i think you should review your kind of 'realism'.
"As for the last part, look at what Dr. Martin Bautista did? Di naman siya kilala, middle class din siya, pero he did try. And I know for sure, he will try again. Now that is walking the walk and not just talking the talk." - Silent Waters
My response: I agree, which is why i voted for Martin Bautista and will most likely vote for him again. However to boost his chances, his supporters (like you and me) should be seen to be living his values (of justice and fair play) and not tolerating an unjust framework based on expediency.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Balimbing Roll-Call

Now is a good time to do one. Fortunately, today's technology already makes this possible.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Peninsula Standoff

Liveblogging by DJB and Schumey. Also by Manuel Buencamino.

Ellen Tordesillas is in the thick of things.
I salute our new heroes led by
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV...
...and General Danilo Lim.

Update 12-01-07: A piece of up-close blogger journalism by Jego.

Philippine Quarterly GDP Growth Dashboard: 1Q 2004 to 3Q 2007

This is an update of the GDP Growth Dashboard from the previous entry to include the 3Q 2007 figures. The graphic below shows the quarterly growth per sector from 1Q 2004 to 3Q 2007. The graphic is derived from data made available at the NSCB Web Site:

Growth Rate per Type of Expenditure
(Click on image to enlarge)

Growth Rate per Industry Sector
(Click on image to enlarge)

(Further updates later.)

*Very Good means that growth rate for a given period is greater than the median growth rate for the periods considered by equal or more than one standard deviation as computed using the 1Q 2004 to 2Q 2007 figures.
**Good means that the growth rate for a given period is equal or greater than the median growth rate for the periods considered as computed using the 1Q 2004 to 2Q 2007 figures.
***Poor means that the growth rate for a given period is less than the median growth rate for the periods considered as computed using the 1Q 2004 to 2Q 2007 figures.
****Very Poor means that growth rate for a given period is less than or equal to one standard deviation below the median growth rate for the periods considered as computed using the 1Q 2004 to 2Q 2007 figures.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pakistan to Return to Civilian Rule

Back in the late 80's when we were being subjected to Honasan's coups, a local TV sitcom spoofed a victorious military junta giving a press conference:
"Reporter: Sir, when will we return to civilian rule?
Junta leader: When we retire.
Reporter: Please clarify.
Junta leader: After we retire, we will then become civilians, so by then you'll all be under civilian rule.
Looks like this Pakistani general also followed Philippine sitcoms. Congratulations Pakistan, (i think).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

US Presidential Candidate Compatibility Quiz

Via John Marzan. You can take the test here.

Ultimate 2008 Presidential Candidate Matcher
Your Result: Dennis Kucinich

The top priority of Dennis Kucinich is to end the war in Iraq. Kucinich also favors a repeal of the Patriot Act, would fund stem cell research, and create a universal healthcare program. He is liberal on social issues, and favors eliminating Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. Kucinich is also concerned about global warming.

Dennis Kucinich (88%)
Barack Obama (84%)
Hillary Clinton (83%)
John Edwards (82%)
Rudy Guiliani (30%)
John McCain (16%)
Ron Paul (4%)
Mitt Romney (0%)

It would be a sign of progress if for 2010, we would be considering our Presidential candidates on the basis of their stand on issues, although this is by no means the only criteria. (Despite what the above results says, i wouldn't be voting for Kucinich.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Regina: Baby Love

Another 80's classic.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Political CompassTM of the Philippine Blogosphere

Thanks to Anna's invitation, there are now more data points to map the ideological landscape of the Philippine blogging community as measured by the quiz over at the Political CompassTM website. I've tabulated the responses and plotted them as a scatterplot below.

Click on image to enlarge

The local blogosphere (at least those who congregate at Manolo Quezon's blog) tend to cluster in the lower left quadrant of the Compass. Another pattern that can be detected, as traced by the red line of best fit below, is the farther one is to the left on the economic scale, the less authoritarian that person tends to be.
Whether the above patterns are representative of the larger Philippine Society or a segment of it is, at this point, a matter of speculation.

Update Nov-30-2007 12:56AM: Over at mlq3's, commenter inidoro ni emilie makes an interesting conjecture:
"i suspect that with more data points you can muster, your fit will turn out to be more downward parabolic than linear [q3 and q4]. which means, those in the first quadrant will turn out to be outliers–more exceptions to the rule."
The only way to find out one way or the other is to get enough data points.

Update Nov-25-2007 12:32AM: I have adjusted the line of best fit above to conform to the results of the linear regression computations. Here's the slope, y-intercept and correlation coefficient and median values given the available data.

slope, m=0.21
y-intercept, b=-2.01
Correlation Coefficient, r=0.289
Median, left/right-3.62
Median, top/down-2.72

I will adjust as new data comes in.

Update Nov-24-2007 8:50PM: Below are the raw scores i used for the above graph.

Political Compass Coordinates: Selected Philippine Bloggers
LabelBlogger / CommenterX-AxisY-Axis
1 adbAnna de Brux-2.50-0.62
2 d0dD0d0ng03
3 UpnUpn Student1-2.05
4 jegJego-2.00-2.72
5 mavThe EQualizer-4.38-1.28
6 abeAbe Margallo-4.00-2.72
7 awbArbet Bernardo-5.13-1.85
8 cvjChuck Jugo-4.25-3.03
9 aynkAy Naku-2.88-5.49
10 dvl8DevilsAdv8-6.62-4.87
11 brnbBrianB-7.75-4.00
12 vkgViking-4.62-6.46
13 TornTorn-7.50-7.59
14 rnmRenmin-9.88-6.05
15 mbManuel Buencamino-2.62-3.64
16 jstrJester-in-Exile-4.88-3.23
17 ellnEllen Tordesillas-2.62-4.56
18 pscdKarlo Mongaya-8.00-1.69
19 jjmJojo Malig-6.13-3.64
20 sprkSparks-8.38-4.97
21 tngTongue In, Anew-5.25-2.67
22 smpSampot-6.75-2.82
23 pilPilipino-3.25-1.25
24 jmrzJohn Marzan0.38-0.41
25 schmSchumey-6.25-3.79
26 asjrAntonio Sy Jr.1.73-1.03
27 djbDean Jorge Bocobo0.75-0.92
28 romRom Sedona-0.62-5.08
29 ineInidoro ni Emilie-5.51-0.72
30 kgKarl Garcia-4.12-0.97
31 mlq3Manuel L. Quezon III-3.50-5.69
32 nikiBlogspotting-3.25-2.62
33 jfckJoyful Chicken3.38-5.13
34 raeinTiffany Chua-5.62-0.21
35 harrellHarrell Wong-1.50.82
36 bongBrian Ong-3.25-0.15
37 mitaMita-3.62-3.03
38 dmbDean Michael Berris2.75-4.26
39 lstrLester Cavestany-2.38-2.21

Update Nov-25-2007 10:20PM: For purposes of comparison, here are the results of a similar exercise done for the New Zealand Blogosphere more than four and a half years ago.
slope, m=0.234
y-intercept, b=-4.41
Correlation Coefficient, r=0.553
Median, left/right-3.44
Median, top/down-4.82

The same inverse relationship between leftist convictions and authoritarian dispositions is found among the Kiwi bloggers of that time period.

Update Nov-26-2007 11:14PM: Here's another such ongoing survey from 2004 with 299 bloggers. My guess is that these are mostly American blogs.
slope, m=0.377
y-intercept, b=-1.78
Correlation Coefficient, r=0.566
Median, left/right3.4
Median, top/down-0.5

As seen from the positive correlation coefficient, the observed relationship also holds for this batch.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Poor: Two Narratives (Part 2)

As a follow-up to my previous blog entry, i was looking for the best way to describe the second narrative. I've come across some good ones, but i think this quote linked to by Urbano de la Cruz nails it:
"the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations."
As he says, it's something to think about.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Anonymity, Pseudo-Anonymity and Privacy

The Guardian Unlimited article, which i linked to in my previous blog entry, presents the Electronic Frontier Foundation's defense of anonymous speech:
Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group that defends online free speech, privacy and intellectual property rights, said Kerr's argument ignores both privacy laws and American history.

"Anonymity has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms," Opsahl said. "The government has tremendous power: the police power, the ability to arrest, to detain, to take away rights. Tying together that someone has spoken out on an issue with their identity is a far more dangerous thing if it is the government that is trying to tie it together."
In other words, anonymity is necessary since government is not always benevolent, and free speech by the individual is valued by society.

On the other hand, blogger Bee contends that...
"an overdose of anonymity is fatal to every kind of constructive communication"
In her blog entry, she links to Kevin Kelly's contribution to the book What Is Your Dangerous Idea?, i.e. "More anonymity is good"
which highlights the dangers of too much anonymity:
" every system that I have seen where anonymity becomes common, the system fails...Communities infected with anonymity will either collapse, or shift the anonymous to pseudo-anonymous, as in eBay, where you have a traceable identity behind an invented nickname. Or voting, where you can authenticate an identity without tagging it to a vote...

Anonymity is like a rare earth metal. These elements are a necessary ingredient in keeping a cell alive, but the amount needed is a mere hard-to-measure trace. In larger does these heavy metals are some of the most toxic substances known to a life. They kill. Anonymity is the same. As a trace element in vanishingly small doses, it's good for the system by enabling the occasional whistleblower, or persecuted fringe. But if anonymity is present in any significant quantity, it will poison the system.
Kelly concludes that...
"Privacy can only be won by trust, and trust requires persistent identity, if only pseudo-anonymously. In the end, the more trust, the better."
The above discussion clarifies for me the value of anonymity, its relation to privacy, and its limits. More importantly, it introduces the concept of pseudo-anonymity, i.e. anonymity that is traceable to a particular identity.

Pseudo-anonymity can be a means to bridge the requirements of national security without sacrificing privacy. In practical terms:
  1. The Telecommunication Companies and Financial Institutions need to implement technologies that will mask the identity of its users. These masking technologies will prevent the identity of the persons from being known (even by the Government) without the application of the corresponding unmasking technology.
  2. The Government Intelligence Agencies can then continue to monitor the masked communications and/or transactions without any court order.
  3. Once anything suspicious comes up, the Government Intelligence Agency can then apply for a court order requesting the unmasking of the relevant communications or transactions, i.e. linking these communications or transactions with a particular individual.
The above scheme balances the needs of privacy and national security.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Abe Margallo: The Philippine Elite's Bayanihan Pact

In his blog entry, Abe Margallo reflects on What to do with the Philippine Oligarchs. He provides a concise summary of where the recent Philippine Presidents (legitimately elected or otherwise) stand with respect to the Philippine political and economic elite. More importantly, Abe reiterates his proposed Bayanihan Pact which is...
" entrepreneurial arrangement where the oligarchs emerge as national business elites in partnership with the State, a representative group from the private sector, and the bureaucracy (hence, there’s no need for a bloody confrontation) in the nature of a Philippine, Inc., just as a Japan, Inc., a Korean, Inc. or a China, Inc., of recent time or the French, Inc. the British, Inc. or the American, Inc. of the old."
I believe Abe's suggestion (which he first wrote about in his book aptly titled Build or Perish and further discussed in his blog entries here and here) is the optimal way to achieve economic takeoff without going through the hassle and gamble of a Civil War or a populist dictatorship.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Privacy Without Anonymity in the USA

A few months back, i wrote a blog entry on Privacy Without Anonymity. Over the weekend, Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence in the United States, declared:
"Privacy no longer can mean anonymity...Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information."
Over at Boing Boing, where i stumbled upon this news, there is a lot of resistance to what it calls an Orwellian redefinition. I would tend to be more sympathetic since the tradeoff between privacy and transparency is not cut and dried and is something that merits thorough deliberation. As Kerr added:

"Our job now is to engage in a productive debate, which focuses on privacy as a component of appropriate levels of security and public safety...I think all of us have to really take stock of what we already are willing to give up, in terms of anonymity, but [also) what safeguards we want in place to be sure that giving that doesn't empty our bank account or do something equally bad elsewhere."
In principle, i agree with his statement although not necessarily with the policy of eavesdropping without a court order.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Demographic Dividend and Faith in the Philippines

At the start of 2005, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala gave a speech where he professed his faith in the Philippines based on three emerging trends. One of these is the demographic dividend::
"Philippine population has shifted structurally where those of working age – from 15 to 64 – will considerably dwarf those of dependent age (children and the elderly). In 2005, our working age population is projected to constitute 61.8% of the population. This is projected to rise to 63.9% by 2010, 65.6% by 2015, and 68% by 2025."
As basis, he cited a Study by Dr. David E. Bloom on the Demographic Dividend: New Perspective on Economic Consequences Population Change which correlates the rapid per capita growth in East Asia to such a change in the population structure:
"East Asia created its economic miracle in part because of this. Rapid demographic transition from 1965 to 1990 was matched by real per capita income growth averaging 6% per year during the same period. The demographic alone is estimated to account for approximately one-fourth to two-fifths of this growth. The same transition is pushing China and India into the forefront of economic development. Dr. Bloom believes that the next 10 to 15 years could be the turn of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines."
In a related paper Contraception and the Celtic Tiger, Dr. Bloom together with David Canning describes a similar economic takeoff by Ireland that coincided with the legalization of contraceptives. This Paper talks about the dependency ratio and asserts that:
"Contrary to the neutralist view, the emerging evidence indicates that population does matter to economic growth, with age structure playing a central role. As the dependency ratio falls, opportunities for economic growth tend to rise, creating what is now referred to as a 'demographic dividend'."
Ratio, Working-Age to Non-Working-Age Population

True enough, a separate paper by Rodrik, Pritchett and Hausmann on Growth Accelerations shows that Ireland's annual per capita GDP growth in the decade after 1985 accelerated to an annual average of 5.0% as compared to the previous eight years where the figure was at 1.6% (a difference of 3.4%).

For their part, Bloom and Canning takes pains to stress that change in age structure within a population alone does not account for the entire growth acceleration. Rather,
"It is important to note that Ireland, like the 'miracle' economies of East Asia, had in place economic and social policies that favoured its taking advantage of the demographic shifts it experienced. Two key policies were at work in Ireland. First, in the late 1950s, there was recognition that the 'closed economy' model of development had failed in Ireland. This led to new policies with an emphasis on encouraging direct foreign investment in Ireland and promoting exports. Second, from the mid-1960s, free secondary education was introduced, leading to a large increase in school enrolments and subsequent expansions in higher education. The resultant high levels of education, combined with export-oriented economic policies, seem to be powerful factors in ensuring that the benefits of the demographic transition are realised. As discussed in the introduction, there are a wide range of policies that have contributed to Ireland’s economic growth. We think these policies also made the Irish economy more flexible and capable of absorbing, and profiting from, the demographic dividend. In our empirical study we use 'openness' as a measure that affects the impact of the demographic dividend, but we see 'openness' more as a proxy for good economic policies in general and not an
endorsement of export orientation alone...
In the case of the Philippines, the improvement in the dependency ratio that Zobel de Ayala mentioned in his speech is indeed taking place although at a somewhat slower pace.

Ratio, Working-Age to Non-Working-Age Population
[Sources: derived from "Zobel de Ayala's speech and NSCB Estimates]

I'm not sure why the above NSCB estimates are lower than the figures quoted by Zobel de Ayala in his speech. Perhaps these other people of faith have something to do with it.

Update Nov-15-2007 3:06am: In the comments section, Urbano de la Cruz points to the role of cities as population sinks. This means that greater urbanization contributes to the decrease in the birth rate.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Trickle-Down Economics

Mariannet Amper
"There is this mind-set, which I think is so passe, that says: ‘The country is in shambles and the country is having a hard time and you are out there partying.’ But this generation is guiltless when it comes to that." - Tim Yap

Monday, November 05, 2007

November 9, 2007: Postcards for Gloria Day

Click on image to enlarge

Similar activities are also planned overseas. Details can be found here and here. For further updates, visit the Black and White Movement's blog. As Manolo reminds us:

" small yet meaningful ways, resistance is what’s called for these days...not by blowing things up or giving the authorities the satisfaction of beating us up, or, God forbid, inconveniencing those who value the smooth traffic flow more than they care about the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, or inconveniencing the congressmen in cassocks known as the Catholic bishops. So what can we do, that allows us to be considerate of the politically blind, but which will show that we are aware, awake, and not in awe of the authorities?

Consider that the prime message of the government that adores your tax pesos so it can serve up cash buffets in the presidential palace you own, is this: they are all the same. This is meant to discourage your thinking of alternatives, because if all the alternatives are like what we have, better the devil in the duster you already have, to any other devil waiting in the wings. But this argument is only good as long as you agree that indeed, you are like them: that when they say they are all the same, they include you.

Are you really like them? Is the congressman or governor waddling out of Malacañang with a doggie bag full of money, the same as you? Of course not. When they shriek, “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone,” they forget the number of guests at the cash buffet didn’t include millions like yourself. But OK, let’s not cast stones. Let’s send something peaceful but equally painful: words on postcard."
Update Nov-19-2007: Pictures of the postcard i sent last November 9 (needed help to upload - thanks Pimpuk!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Selectorate Theory: Implications of Political Legitimacy on Governance

Urbano de la Cruz points to a fascinating body of work by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita. You can read more about it here. Browsing through an online copy of de Mesquita's book The Logic of Political Survival, I stumbled upon this neat diagram on page 130 that summarizes the core predictions of Selectorate Theory:

A detailed explanation of the various aspects of the diagram can be found in the book itself. What i would want to focus on is on what the above diagram has to say about the issue of Gloria Arroyo's lack of political legitimacy and the prospects of good governance given her lack of legitimacy. This involves understanding the concepts of a Leader's Discretionary Funds and the gap between the Selectorate and the Winning Coalition

Leader's Discretionary Funds: The book defines kleptocracy as something more than mere corruption. Rather, it is "outright theft of a nation's income by its leaders". It goes on to say that:
"The opportunity to engage in kleptocracy - while retaining one's position as an incumbent - is determined by the difference between the revenue available to a government and the expenditures made by the government. Whatever is left over from the two quantities is money available for the discretionary use of incumbent leaders."
Gap between Selectorate and the Winning Coalition: As per the Wikipedia entry on Selectorate Theory:
"The Selectorate is simply those within the state that have a say in policy outcome (in the United States, for example, it would be all citizens over the age of 18 eligible to vote). The Winning Coalition is a proportion of the Selectorate sufficient to choose and sustain a leader in office."
Under the Philippine Electoral System, the Selectorate consists of the pool of eligible voters while, in theory, the Winning Coalition is the proportion of voters who choose the President, which at least since 1992, has been a plurality.
(to be continued)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Save Marilou Ranario Campaign

From Yuko Takei:

Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 15:53:14 +0800

Dear friends,

Warm greetings! We’re writing to enjoin member organizations and our network to participate in a November 13th internationally-coordinated day of action for Marilou Ranario, the Filipino domestic worker on death row in Kuwait .

November 13th is the first day of oral arguments on Marilou’s case with the Kuwaiti Supreme Court (the Court of Cassation). According to the DFA, a final verdict is expected by January or February next year.

We suggest that actions on that day be directed at Kuwait embassies or consulates in your areas since we need to make them aware of the strong and widespread support for Marilou. The tone of activities will be to appeal to the Kuwait Amir and other government officials to spare her life at the minimum and at the maximum, release and repatriate her.

In this light, we propose the following activities may be held on our November 13th day of action:
  1. Delegation to local Kuwait embassy to submit letters of appeal or petitions for Marilou;
  2. Release of organizational resolutions by our organizations and other Filipino groups na maari makausap to participate in this campaign;
  3. Email or fax barrage to the Kuwait embassy or Kuwait Amir’s office (email and fax is on the sample letter to the Amir); and
  4. Issue press releases and statements to media (na nag-appeal to the Kuwait government at sumisingil sa Arroyo government sa kanilang criminal neglect and culpability in this case)
For your reference, please find attached an information kit about this case (fact sheet, appeal from Marilou’s sister, appeal to the Kuwait Amir, tagalog petition and tagalog flyer).

We’re still finalizing the English petition but we will circulate it as soon as it’s finished.

As well, please find following a quick update about our Save Marilou Ranario Campaign to date:
  1. Last October 10th, we formally launched the Save Marilou Ranario Movement with a march, interfaith service and press conference at the Quezon Memorial Circle . This activity was held on the World Day Against the Death Penalty. In Hong Kong , UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK also led a picket at the RP consulate to raise Marilou’s issue as well as the case of Jocelyn Dulnuan and other victims of the Arroyo government’s criminal neglect.

    SMRM Convenor members include: the Diocese of Novaliches (Marilou’s parish in Quezon City); Religious of the Good Shepherd-WJPIC; AMRSP mission partner Women and Gender Commission; United Methodist Church; National Council of Churches in the Philippines; KASIMBAYAN; GABRIELA; ACT; Center for Women’s Resources; United Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Migrante International. The invitation of new conveners to the SMRM is ongoing.

  2. In Surigao, Marilou’s home province, GABRIELA-Surigao has met with the family and formed a local Save Marilou Ranario Movement Committee. They’ve also begun to project her case in local media and along with church people, they’ve also been able to mobilize lawyers, other advocates and former classmates of Marilou.

  3. The Center for Women’s Resources produced a short video about Marilou’s case that we will try get onto soonest.

  4. The next activity of the SMRM at the national level is an inter-agency dialogue on November 7th about Marilou’s case, other death row cases as well as other urgent issues of migrants. This will be held at St. Peter’s Cathedral. Already, the Usec. Conejos of the Office for the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs has confirmed his presence.
Thank you in advance and we hope for your participation in the upcoming November 13th internationally-coordinated day of action for Marilou Ranario.

In the service of migrants and their families,

Maita Santiago

Migrante International
#65 10th Avenue
Brgy. Socorro, Cubao
Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (63-2) 911-4165
For further updates, please visit Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants website.

Update 12-9-07 11:56PM: Kuwait Emir commutes Marilou Ranario's sentence to Life Term

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Online Petition for Snap Elections

If you're Filipino and you agree, you can sign here.
To: President and Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines

WHEREAS, because of the numerous unresolved scandals involving the present administration, including but not limited to the “Hello Garci” Election controversy, the ZTE , North Rail Project, Diosdado Macapagal Highway scandals, the Joc-joc Bolante Fertilizer scam, Jose Pidal caper, hundreds of unresolved extra-judicial killings and the latest Malacañang Bribery Incident, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has completely lost her moral authority to govern this country;

WHEREAS, the GMA has lost public sympathy and support in the light of her tainted electoral mandate and her responsibility for the numerous controversies hounding her administration, as consistently shown by survey after survey conducted by reputable polling entities;

WHEREAS, Vice President Noli De Castro is a member of the Arroyo cabinet and is a beneficiary of the cheating perpetrated during the May 2004 Elections and is also considered to be a silent partner in crime of GMA not only because of his close personal association and unflinching support for GMA but also because of his failure to stand-up against and denounce the abuses and excesses of the Arroyo regime;

WHEREAS, the recent Glorietta bombing incident appears to be a signal for the more violent phase in the regime of GMA;

WHEREAS, the sham impeachment case filed by personalities connected with Malacanang effectively sabotages and ridicules the impeachment process;

WHEREAS, the only peaceful, legal and constitutional option available to the Nation under the circumstances and to prevent the situation from developing into a full-scale conflict or civil strife is for GMA and Noli De Castro to resign from their respective positions as President and Vice-President, of the Republic of the Philippines;

WHEREAS, the 1987 Constitution, under Section 10, Article VII, expressly provides that:

“Sec. 10. The Congress shall, at ten o’clock in the morning of the third day after the vacancy in the offices of the President and Vice-President occurs, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call and within seven days enact a law calling for a special election to elect a President and a Vice-President to be held not earlier than forty-five days nor later than sixty days from the time of such call. Xxx.”

NOW, WHEREFORE, We the undersigned citizens, taxpayers and voters of the Republic of the Philippines, in our capacity as the true sovereign of the Nation, DO HEREBY:

1. Call upon Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli De Castro to spare the country from further turmoil and violence by immediately resigning from their respective positions as President and Vice-President of the Philippines;

2. Demand the holding of a Special Presidential and Vice-Presidential Election within Sixty (60) Days from the date of the resignation of GMA and Noli de Castro, pursuant to Section 10, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution;

May God bless our Great Nation!

DONE in Metro Manila, Philippines on this 21st day of October 2007.
Hat tip to commenter Dr. D and Ellen Tordesillas.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Roundup: Reactions to the Erap Pardon

I don't usually do roundups but what the heck:

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Update of a Classic

As featured in a classic episode of The Simpsons:

Homer's Dream Car (1991)

As updated by Nissan:

Nissan Pivo 2 (2007)

Update Oct-26-2007 6:45PM: Those familiar with the evolutionary process realize that transformations like the one shown above are almost always not straightforward, often requiring intermediate steps. This principle also applies to the Nissan Pivo 2, which as the name indicates, is the second of its kind. Its immediate predescessor, the Nissan Pivo (shown below), fulfills the role of a transitional missing link, exhibiting a combination of traits seen in its ancestor as well as its descendant:

The Missing Link (2005)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Final Defeat for EDSA Dos

Five weeks ago, i declared Final Victory for EDSA Dos. With the pardon of Erap by Gloria Arroyo, whatever victory we can claim for that revolution is gone. Commenter Mike over at Manolo's says it all:
"The pardon of Erap is the last straw. It makes a mockery of everything I fought for in 2001. It’s so clear and so glaring that we’ve been so thoroughly had. I’ve never been so sick to my stomach."
Ever since Hello Garci, it's been clear to me that the revolution has been betrayed. However, i suppose for many, this act drives home the point.

I guess now is also a time for the EDSA Tres crowd to reflect on whether this can be counted as a victory for their cause. Over at Ellen's blog, which i believe echoes the pulse of the Filipino majority, the prevailing sentiment so far is one of disgust at both Gloria and Erap. So it turns out that is one of the few times Gloria Arroyo has done something that has the effect of uniting the Country.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shit Bombs: A Cross-country Comparison

Shit Bomb-type blasts like the recent one in Glorietta are relatively rare, but have been known to happen before. Here is an account of one such event that took place in Ghana back in May 2004:

"The explosion which had the near force of a volcanic eruption was so loud that it was able to throw concrete, dust and human excrement (faeces) into the air, while residents ran for dear life from the force of the methane gas. The Pig Farm public latrine is one of a cluster of four toilets in the area. Six men were attending to nature’s call in the facility when it blasted. Eye witnesses say the blast caused the emission of strong fumes into the air."
The above description is instructive in that it englightens us on the cross-country variations of this kind of event. While the noise and force of the explosion are common elements to be found in both the Ghana and Glorietta deflagrations, there are also marked differences in terms of the composition of the blast debris and the fumes emitted.

What accounts for the relative lack of fecal matter found in the Glorietta incident compared to the Ghana-type event? I believe that the determining factor is cultural. While Ghanians presumably have a more up-front disposition as demonstrated by the relatively wide dispersal of their excrement, the typical Filipino with his well-known sense of "hiya" is more discreet. The resulting payload then embodies the character of its owners which explains why, in the course of the explosion, it chose to keep a low profile and stay in the basement lest it suffer undue embarrasment from public exposure.

Another obvious difference is in the nature of the fumes unleashed. Instead of the usual pozo negro smell that one would expect from a methane cloud, the Filipino shit bomb was characterized more by the smell of gunpowder. This can, of course, be attributed to hygienic practices, particularly the Filipino's penchant for regular brushing of teeth after every meal coupled with frequent washing of hair. As is well known, toothpaste and shampoo contain RDX, and the resulting build up of this explosive substance in the human body inevitably gets expelled into the sewage system. Seen in this light, the gunpowder smell can be easily accounted for.

For a more informative take on this topic, visit the opposing conjectures of Tounge-In-Anew who, for reasons of his own, still favors the bomb hypothesis, and DJB who prefers the apt-sounding deflagration hypothesis. Since these theories are mutually exclusive, it is safe to say that one will turn out to be full of shit.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Indomitable Apathy and The New Normal

A few months ago, blogger Dave Llorito proclaimed that "we have become a normal country with very normal problems...And that’s great!". The other day, the same blogger almost became a victim of the Glorietta Blast. I'm glad he's ok, but i wonder if last Friday's incident still falls within the range of what he considers "very normal problems". IMHO, he should.

This is precisely the kind of normalcy our Society would arrive at given the Middle Class' muted reaction to the political leadership's ongoing acts of impunity. Twenty months ago, over at mlq3's blog, commenter Geo recounted how the "middle class, white collar, technocrat entrepreneurs" lashed out at the Black and White Movement for "forcing the middle classes to the brink".

"I have just spent two full days and nights at the e-Services exhibition/seminar (for the BPO industry) — which was full of middle class, white collar, technocrat entrepreneurs and SME’s — and everyone I met was complaining about the negative effects the extremists have created for the Philippines’ best ever economic opportunity.

Lots of venom, especially for the B&W gang — the 'middle forces who are forcing the middle classes to the brink' was one line I caught. I’m sure if Bill Luz’s name was brought up, more scathing remarks would have ensued...

...A huge high-margin multi-billion dollar industry that is inherently pro-people, decidedly non-A/non-upper B class, beneficial to the second-tier cities…and which all global analysts say is perfectly suited for the Philippines (ranked as 1st or 2nd in the world for a variety of BPO sub-sectors). This industry alone could raise the economic welfare of the country and help expand the middle class quickly and substantially.

And all the parties concerned kept talking about how they wished all the political BS could just go away and let the administration continue it’s policies.

To tell you the truth, I was shocked. All along I thought I was in the minority…with elloi, joey, acidboy and carl. But wow, there are a lot of intelligent, incredibly hard-working, stay-in-country, build-the-country types out there who think along the same lines as we few posters have.

Too bad the noise has overshadowed the great efforts and capabilities that “regular folk” bring to the party.

Based on my knowledge and experience in the global economy and the global marketplace, I continue to believe that this is the last chance for the Philippines to pull itself out of the fire. It’s now or never. And it would be so sad for everyone if the opportunity is squashed because of a loud few who want to “search for the truth” and destroy the nation with their empty, anti-constitutional and hypocritical blathering (not to mention the opposition politicians and their wild goose chases when the TV’s red light is on).

mlq3 — I, too, like you and respect you. But I fear you are getting carried away. Are you thinking with your heart? Isn’t the analyst supposed to feel with his heart and think with his brain? I have read that you might now think that Lacson could be the answer? Back off and come down from the ledge, my friend…please. The nation needs you to be clear and thoughful; to be a leader, not a destroyer.

Pls excuse my rant. I try to avoid them. My heart just hurts so much after seeing the worry lines on the usually optimistic faces of the fearless Pinoy entrepreneurs…and hearing the foreign investors’ negative words about coups and irrational politics while they concurrently effused the attractions of 'what the Philippines can be; is…but isn’t'.

Let’s just all ship our money and our hopes to India; let’s just all throw away our future. Later, we can ask: 'Why did we do that?'…and spend endless hours blaming one another. A-yay-yay.

Time to wake up and smell the coffee, folks. It’s now or never. Now vs Never — You choose.
- Geo at February 17th, 2006, 10:55 pm "
So in the name of economic stability, these businessmen and professionals decided to look the other way. What these otherwise decent folks of the Middle Class did not realize (and probably still do not) is that the existence of a Public Sphere that keeps the State accountable is in their self-interest. If Society were likened to the human body, the Black and White Movement and other such groups function as the Middle Class' immune system.

We in the Middle Class have an important stake in supporting such Civil Society groups because, as i pointed out to blogger Big Mango before:

Unlike the upper class, we do not have the resources. Unlike the poor, we do not have the numbers. The only thing we can offer are our values. According to conventional wisdom, it is the middle class that defines the nation. Where our values go, our country goes. Let's not throw these away in the name of expediency.

True, because of Civil Society groups' protest activities, just like the human body, our Society may run a fever, but it would be foolish to mistake the fever itself as the problem and lash out and make fun of these groups as Geo and like-minded members of the Philippine Middle Class have done. Now it's their turn to wake up and smell the coffee. They (and we) are now reaping the rewards of such expediency. We have now arrived at a point where the State, which is supposed to protect our way of life, can no longer be excluded from the list of prime suspects*.

Still, this realization that the State is controlled by thugs has not prevented members of the middle class from displaying what commenter Cogs in Torn & Frayed's blog labeled as the Filipino's spirit of indomitable apathy. Over at Manolo's, blogger JC John SESE Cuneta was of the opinion that we should leave the truth where it is:
"...Granted, there’s a conspiracy, the government did planted that bomb, but also granted, we will never know it. So what now? We’ll keep living everyday trying to solve something that was hidden well and revolve around it forever?

The truth will come in its due time, when it does, we need to make sure that we are a Nation capable of handling such (grave) truths. Maybe the truth chose not to reveal itself today because it will only cause more problems for our country - another People Power or perhaps Martial Law or worst, a Civil War? We won’t be able to handle the truth today...
" - JC John SESE Cuneta at October 20th, 2007, 2:05 pm
That's the spirit. Perhaps, it's true what commenter hvrds said...

"We allow small acts of evil as long as it is far from affecting us and it starts to have a life of its own and this apathy allows it to come right to our doorstep." which case, welcome to the new normal.

*Hat tip to Manolo for the links.