September 2012


‘That provision in the Bill of Rights is a reflection of how important the framers of the Constitution regarded the freedom of the press and the right of the people to be informed.’

Last Friday, I joined five others in asking the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

We asked the High Court to declare Sections 4 (c) [4], 5, 6, 7 and 19 of the Act unconstitutional.

My fellow petitioners are Davao-based radio broadcaster radio broadcaster Alexander Adonis, my VERA Files colleague Ma. Gisela Ordenes-Cascolan, lawyers/bloggers Harry Roque, Romel Bagares, and Gilbert Andres, legal officer of Media Defense Southeast Asia.

Named respondents because they are the one who will be implementing the law which President Aquino signed last Sept. 12 and took effect Sept. 27 are: Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas III, National Bureau of Investigation director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, Philippine National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome, and acting Director-General Denis Villorente of the Information and Communications Technology Office-Department of Science and Technology.

Our primary argument against the law is that it is in violation of the Constitution which states that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

That provision in the Bill of Rights is a reflection of how important the framers of the Constitution regarded the freedom of the press and the right of the people to be informed.

We also hold that RA 10175 is not in consonance with International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which the Philippines ratified on Aug. 22, 1989.

The ICCPR provides, among others, that “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.”

It also states that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

We hold that Section 6 of R. A 10175 violates the equal protection clause, of the constitution since it arbitrarily increases the penalty imposed on “cyber libel” punishable with from six months and one day to 12 years as compared to the penalty for ordinary libel which is punishable with six months and one day to four years.

We ask the public for support.

My fellow petitioner, Adonis, knows whereof he speaks, when it comes to the burden of libel.

In April 2007, while working as a commentator for the Davao City-based Bombo Radyo, he was sentenced to four years in prison in a libel case filed against him by then Davao representative (and later Speaker of the House) Prospero Nograles.

Nograles brought the suit against Adonis in 2001 over a report by the radio broadcaster which alleged, citing newspaper reports, that the congressman was seen running naked in a Manila hotel shortly after the husband of a woman he was allegedly having an affair with caught them in bed

While serving time, Adonis became the author of a Communication filed before the Human Rights Committee entitled Alexander Adonis v. The Philippines .

With the help of Atty. Roque, he questioned his imprisonment for libel as a violation of his right to free expression and brought it to the UN Human Rights Committee, which declared that criminal libel in the Philippines conflicts with the country’s obligations under Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term

By Gilbert P. Felongco
Gulf News

Image Credit: EPA
Customers in a shop that offers internet services in Quezon City. President Aquino signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act aimed at punishing crimes committed on the internet.

Manila: An international rights watchdog said a new Philippine law governing the use of the Internet would also impact on freedom of expression as much it aims to address cybercrimes.

In a statement, the New York-based International Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Cybercrime Prevention Act provides authorities with “excessive and unchecked” powers that could stifle freedom of speech.

“A new Philippine cybercrime law drastically increases punishments for criminal libel and gives authorities excessive and unchecked powers to shut down websites and monitor online information,” HRW said.

Early this month, President Benigno Aquino signed the measure into law.

It is expected to take effect in a few weeks as authorities prepare its implementing guidelines.

For years, the Philippines had made do without a law governing cyberspace, as a result, cybercriminals had regarded the country as a haven where they can conduct crimes such as cybersex and other similar offenses. But the new edict appears to address the concern over exploitation with an overkill reaction. Another concern is that the new law may be used by certain interest groups, including the government, to stifle freedom of expression.

Brad Adams, HRW Asia director said: “The law’s criminal penalties for online libel and other restrictions are a serious threat to free expression in the Philippines. Several legal cases have been filed in the Philippines Supreme Court, including for the law to be declared unconstitutional because it violates guarantees to free expression contained in the Philippines constitution and human rights treaties ratified by the Philippines. The cybercrime law needs to be repealed or replaced,” he said.

Adams further noted that the new law “violates Filipinos’ rights to free expression and it is wholly incompatible with the Philippine government’s obligations under international law.”

The new law specifies several new acts of cybercrime. Among those prohibited under the edict are “cybersex,” online child pornography, illegal access to computer systems or hacking, online identity theft, and spamming.

Adams said the new law adapts conventional libel laws to become applicable to cyberspace.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act carries a section on libel specifies that criminal libel, is already detailed in article 355 of the Philippines Revised Penal Code.

“It will now apply to acts committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

Aside from this, the new law :”drastically increases the penalty for computer-related libel, with the minimum punishment raised 12-fold, from six months to six years. The maximum punishment is doubled from six to 12 years in prison.”

“Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader ‑ including government officials – bring a libel charge,” Adams said. “Allegedly libelous speech, online or offline, should be handled as a private civil matter, not a crime.”

Source: The Daily Tribune


The United States yesterday issued a security alert for Metro Manila, warning its citizens they could be the target of an unspecified attack.

The US Embassy in Manila released a statement calling for US citizens to exercise extreme caution and consider canceling American gatherings in the capital.

“The US Embassy advises American citizens in the Philippines that a threat against American citizens in metropolitan Manila, specifically the Pasay City neighborhood, has been detected by reliable security forces,” the statement said.

“This threat remains in effect until Oct. 10, 2012.”

The emergency warning occurred amid widespread Muslim protests on the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” by Egyptian American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Nakoula, allegedly the real identity behind the pseudonym Sam Bacile, was arrested and detained without bond in Los Angeles as a US judge said she feared he would try to flee.

Nakoula, the alleged director/producer of the anti-Islam video, appeared in court in Los Angeles after being arrested for breaching the terms of his probation for a 2010 banking fraud conviction.

Prosecutor Robert Dugdale said the 55-year-old had allegedly made eight breaches, including making false statements to probation officers and using at least three different names.

Judge Suzanne Segal ruled that Nakoula, who has been in hiding since protests erupted over his film, be detained without bond, saying he was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

“The court has a lack of trust in this defendant,” she said.

Concerns have been raised for Nakoula’s safety due to the widespread anger his alleged video has provoked among Muslims, and his hastily-arranged court appearance was held under tight security in downtown Los Angeles.

The hearing was closed to the public, but journalists and anyone else interested was allowed to follow proceedings via video-conference from a separate building.

Nakoula was briefly taken into custody earlier this month for questioning by his probation officer.

He was traced to a home address in Cerritos, south of Los Angeles, after international protests erupted against the 14-minute trailer video posted online.

The film depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a thuggish deviant offended many Muslims, and sparked a wave of anti-American protests that have cost several lives and saw mobs set US missions, schools and businesses ablaze.

In February 2009, a federal indictment accused Nakoula and others of fraudulently obtaining the identities and Social Security numbers of customers at several Wells Fargo branches in California and withdrawing $860 from them.

Nakoula’s court appearance came a day after an actress involved in the video, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a second lawsuit seeking to force YouTube and Google to pull the video trailer.

Garcia filed legal action in Los Angeles Superior Court last week, but a judge rejected it — and on Wednesday, she filed a new suit alleging breach of copyright in federal court in Santa Clarita, California.

The actress says she had believed to have signed up for a film called “Desert Warrior” set 2,000 years ago, and only realized her lines had been over-dubbed when the row with Muslim protests erupted this month.

In her initial lawsuit, Garcia alleged she has suffered severe emotional distress, financial setbacks and the “destruction of her career and reputation.”

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin denied her request for a restraining order to prevent YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, from continuing to show the film clips.

The English version of the trailer, which has been withdrawn from YouTube in a number of countries, includes blatantly overdubbed parts of dialog, and Mohammed’s name seems to have been added in post-production. AFP

By Charlie V. Manalo
The Daily Tribune

Farmer groups call for cash distribution

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the Kaisahang Pambansa ng mga Magsasaka sa Koprahan (Koprahan) yesterday warned the Aquino government against using the coco levy funds in its so-called anti-poverty programs.

The groups also pushed the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds to small coconut farmers, an idea that was first raised by Sen. Joker Arroyo.

The Supreme Court (SC), after a delay caused by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno’s reluctance to make the ruling public immediately, affirmed and decided with finality the 2004 Sandiganbayan ruling that awarded to the government the 24-percent block of sequestered shares in San Miguel Corp. (SMC) acquired with the funds from the coconut levy imposed during the martial law years.

The ruling threw out the motion for reconsideration of the Coconut Producers Federation (Cocofed) of the high court’s decision in January awarding the 700 million SMC preferred shares of stock worth P52.5 billion at P75 per share to the government to be used for the benefit of the coconut farmers.

“While we welcome the Supreme Court ruling, the Aquino government must be warned against dipping its hands into small coconut farmers’ money,” said KMP deputy secretary general Willy Marbella, a small coconut farmer from Bicol.
Marbella, also Koprahan spokesman, said, “under the guise of developing the coconut industry, the Aquino government wants to dip its hands into the multi-billion coconut levy funds.”

“It’s already an open book that the Aquino government and its National Anti-Poverty Commission are itching to get their hands on the coco levy funds for their anti-people programs,” Marbella said.

The so called farmers are pushing cash distribution of the frozen coco levy funds, amounting to some P100 billion, to coco farmers.

It is on record and well-documented too, that not a single farmer who now claims for a cash distribution of the funds contributed a single centavo to the coco levy fund from the time the levy was imposed.

It was the coconut oil millers who had contributed to the fund, intended to revive and strengthen the coconut industry.
Speculation is rife, however, that the President Aquino and his administration, will be using the funds for election purposes, among other purposes.

Last April Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and Administrator Euclides Forbes of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said that Malacañang could not act on demands by militant farmer groups that the Palace issue an order to use the funds to supplement Malacañang’s poverty alleviation program in time for the 2013 elections.

Last March, NAPC Secretary Joel Rocamora’s confirmed that the Aquino administration would set up an inter-agency group, along with the NAPC and the DSWD, with these two agencies planning to borrow from the coco levy funds.

“Small coconut farmers are bound to resist attempts to plunder the coco levy funds by people coming from the political breed of the Peace Bonds syndicate now being coddled by Aquino’s haciendero regime,” the peasant leader warned.

KMP and Koprahan are now pushing for the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds to small coconut farmers floated by Senator Arroyo last April.

“Yes, we should not be incidental beneficiaries of the coco levy funds. We, our parents, and our entire class were robbed with cash by the Marcos clique and it is only just and legitimate to return the cash to us,” says Marbella.

Marabella, however, even as he accuses of the small farmers being robbed of their cash, has never been able to prove, by way of documents, that even one of them shelled out a centavo as contribution to the coco levy funds.

All documents seen by the Tribune, shows that the coco funds were contributed by coconut oil millers, not farmers.
Arroyo was quoted as saying that “There is no pronouncement from the government that the farmers would be cash recipients of the court decision. They would be incidental beneficiaries when the coconut industry is revived,” the senator was quoted saying last April.

“The farmers parted with hard-earned cash, but they would not be given cash in return; they would be given benefits in kind, tools, seedlings, credit facilities, etc. The irony of it all is that the principal beneficiaries, the government and the industry, had not contributed to the coco levy fund,” Arroyo added.

However, the KMP and Koprahan also reiterated calls for the enactment of House Bill 3443 or the proposed Coconut Levy Funds Administration and Management Act filed by Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano.

HB 3443 defines the “exclusivity of use of the coco levy funds” to ensure that it is used primarily to the best interests of small coconut farmers.

“The enactment of House Bill 3443 will ensure the direct and immediate return of the funds to small coconut farmers, the legitimate and rightful owners of the coco levy funds,” the groups said. Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Fund (PTFCL) will reconvene on Oct. 5 to finalize its recommendation to the President following a recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the contested coco levy funds, a Malacanang official said on Friday.

The SC awarded the government with finality the 24-percent bloc of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) shares bought using coconut levy money.

The President has asked the PTFCL to come up with a report and a recommendation on the issues surrounding the coco levy fund in light of the ruling of the SC, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing at Malacanang on Friday.

The PTFCL is composed of the Presidential Management Staff, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Presidential Commission on Good Government, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, and Philippine Coconut Authority.

Valte said the task force could now be guided by the recent SC ruling in coming up with a recommendation to the President. The ruling, at least, sets a clearer parameter for the task force to work on, she added.

Asked by reporters if the President welcomed the SC ruling, Valte said the Chief Executive can’t comment at this time and he wants to see first the recommendation of the task force.

“The President would also like to see first the recommendations of the task force because it’s not just about welcoming the ruling but really, since we are in government now, it’s about taking concrete actions to address the issues that have come about because of the finality of the ruling of the Supreme Court,” Valte said.

Valte said that the issues that have to be addressed include the custody of the coco levy fund. There are legislative initiatives calling for the creation of a particular trust fund for the coco levy, she added.

In SC’s unanimous decision last Sept. 4, it denied with finality a motion for reconsideration filed by the Cocofed, Maria Clara Lobregat, and others last Feb. 14.

In its ruling in January, the SC upheld but modified a decision by the Sandiganbayan declaring SMC shares, having been bought with coco levy money, as public funds. The shares were registered under the names of Coconut Industry Investment Fund and its holding companies.

The shares being contested is valued at P84.3 billion last January, and being held in escrow in United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB).

By Joyce Pangco Panares
Manila Standard Today

Pag-asa Island of the Kalayaan Island Group

The government on Sunday ordered the 3rd Marine Brigade to join a task force defending the country’s sovereignty on the Spratly Islands, which are also being claimed by China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Western Command chief Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban said he had issued a directive creating the Joint Task Force on the Kalayaan Island Group, which is within the hotly contested Spratly archipelago.

Sabban said the 3rd Brigade will act as the command and control group of two Marine battalions stationed in Palawan, and will be responsible for the defense of the islands that are believed to be home to vast mineral deposits and a potential flashpoint for conflict in the region.

He said the Marines would not be stationed on the islands but patrol the disputed area. He said the task force would be headed by Col. Andre Costales Jr.

A Marine brigade consists of three battalions. Each battalion has about 300 to 500 men.

Sabban said the forces in Palawan were not meant to sow further tension with China.

“All we have there [on the Kalayaan islands] are monitoring stations that keep track of the current disposition of foreign military [forces] in that area…We are in a defensive posture. We are ensuring the defense of our islands. It is better to defend than retake islands once other claimants occupy them,” he said.

Sabban also confirmed that China had been expanding and improving its military facilities in the areas they are occupying in the disputed islands.

The increased military presence in the volatile region came amid rising tensions with China, which claims territorial jurisdiction over the Kalayaan and Spratlys islands.

China has since been developing Sansha, a newly formed city to oversee the administration of the Kalayaan Group of Islands.

On Sunday, the Foreign Affairs Department reiterated the country’s objections to China’s plans for Sansha.

“Our protest in July covers all measures and developments relating to Sansha City’s establishment as its jurisdiction violates parts of the Philippines’ national territory,” Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a text message.

Sansha City is composed of the Paracel Islands, KIG, and the Macclesfield Bank.

A report posted on China’s government Web portal on Sunday said authorities had mapped out plans for four infrastructure projects and a housing program on Yongxing Island, located in Paracel, which is being claimed only by China and Vietnam.

Tensions between Manila and Beijing have also reportedly sidetracked a plan to convert the Subic International Airport complex into an entertainment center and casino resort along the lines of Sentosa in Singapore.

Sources in Subic Bay told the Manila Standard that the area was now being eyed as a forward base of operations for US and Philippine forces.

The expansion of the military alliance between the Philippines and the United States was spelled out last week by Mark Lippet, US assistant secretary of defense for Asia and the Pacific, during a forum in Washington DC attended by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia. With Ferdinand Fabella, Florante S. Solmerin and Willie E. Capulong

By Kirk Spitzer
TIME Magazine

(U.S. Navy) Aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis, front, and USS George Washington sail in formation with an escort vessel during a training exercise in waters near Guam, earlier this month.

TOKYO – It’s probably just a coincidence; no need to worry yet. But the U.S. has quietly assembled a powerful air, land and sea armada not far from where Japan and China are squaring off over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Two Navy aircraft carrier battle groups and a Marine Corps air-ground task force have begun operating in the Western Pacific, within easy reach of the Senkaku Islands. That’s where Japanese and Chinese patrol boats are engaged in an increasingly tense standoff.

Chinese vessels have repeatedly entered territorial waters around the small islands in recent weeks and Coast Guard vessels from Japan and Taiwan fired water cannons at each other last week. The islands are controlled and administered by Japan, but claimed by both China and Taiwan.

No warships have been directly involved in the confrontations, so far. But China has vowed to continue sending patrol vessels into territorial waters and Japan has assembled scores of Coast Guard vessels to “defend” the islands.

The U.S. hasn’t taken sides in the ownership dispute, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for “cooler heads” to prevail. Nonetheless, U.S. officials have stated clearly that the Senkakus fall under the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which would require the U.S. to come to Japan’s aid in case of attack.

Navy officials confirmed Sunday that the USS George Washington carrier strike group has begun operating in the East China Sea, near the disputed islands. The USS John C. Stennis group is only slightly further away in the South China Sea. Each carrier is armed with more than 80 warplanes, and strike groups typically include guided-missile cruisers and destroyers, submarines and supply ships.

In the nearby Philippine Sea, some 2,200 Marines are embarked aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard and two escorts. The Marines are equipped with amphibious assault vehicles, light armored vehicles, artillery, helicopters and Harrier fighter jets.

Carrier groups and Marine task forces often operate alone, so the convergence of the three groups in a relatively small part of the Pacific represents an unusual concentration of firepower. All three are fresh from training exercises in and around Guam. Those exercises included live-fire with missiles and joint beach landings by U.S. Marines and Japanese ground troops.

A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command says the training missions and carrier deployments are not necessarily related to the Senkaku tensions. The islands are called Diaoyu in China, and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

“These operations are not tied to any specific event,” said Capt. Darryn James, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu. “As part of the U.S. commitment to regional security, two of the Navy’s 11 global force carrier strike groups are operating in the Western Pacific to help safeguard stability and peace.”

In truth, the carrier and Marine deployments may have as much to do with the “re-balancing” of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, and with an unrelated crisis in the Middle East, as with the squabble in the East China Sea.

The George Washington battle group and the Marine task force, both based in Japan, were scheduled to conduct separate but overlapping exercises in the Guam region well before the Senkaku dispute heated up. Guam and nearby Tinian Island have been tabbed as a hub for the “re-balancing” of U.S. forces in the region — a hedge against China’s growing military power and ambitions in the region.

The Stennis is being sent from its homeport in Washington state to the Persian Gulf, four months ahead of schedule in response to the escalating crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. The Guam exercises allowed the Stennis to grab a few days of extra training with the George Washington group en route. The Senkakus are situated close to the major sea routes from Pacific to Mideast; it is unclear if the Stennis group is simply passing, by or will remain awhile.

The Marines, meanwhile, were expected to move from Guam to the Philippines for previously scheduled training with the Philippines military.

Navy spokesman James said he could not comment on future ship movements.

Although significant oil and gas deposits may exist within the islands’ territorial waters or exclusive economic zone, the Senkaku dispute has centered largely on old grievances and resurgent nationalism. U.S. officials have privately expressed frustration with the lack of diplomatic progress in resolving the dispute. China placed two-page ads in major U.S. newspapers this weekend, accusing Japan of “stealing” the islands and citing claims that date back hundreds of years.

The Senkakus are located about 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Taiwan and about 200 miles (320 km) east of the Chinese mainland.

While the big U.S. fleet might have been intended as a warning to China not to escalate the islands dispute, it may have been intended to focus Japan’s attention, as well.

Or, it could have been a coincidence.

Read more:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


USS George Washington, USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Groups patrol western Pacific

U.S. Naval Forces, 7th Fleet Public Affairs

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kelby Sanders
U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs


YOKOSUKA, Japan – Two of the U.S. Navy’s global force aircraft carrier strike groups are currently conducting operations in the vital Asia-Pacific region.

Ships of the forward-deployed George Washington CSG, to include the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63) and the guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85); coupled with the ships of the John C. Stennis CSG, to include the Bremerton, Wash.-based aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), its embarked CVW 9, and the San Diego-based guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53); are currently patrolling the Western Pacific. They are providing a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the United States and its allies and partners


“As commanding officer of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, I have the honor and opportunity to operate in one of the most dynamic and vital areas of the world,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, USS George Washington’s commanding officer. “As the focus continues to turn to the Asia-Pacific region, we and other forward-deployed forces will continue to promote peace, cooperation and stability within the region. We accomplish this by continuously training and meeting with our Asia-Pacific partners and allies, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to improve interoperability and to be prepared to collectively respond to any natural or man-made crisis in the region.”

Commanded by Rear Adm. J.R. Haley, the George Washington CSG recently completed the U.S. joint exercise Valiant Shield 2012 in the Guam operating area. Valiant Shield emphasized the importance of joint interoperability as the key component by which success is dictated and measured.

“Valiant Shield 2012 was a very successful exercise, and reaffirmed our ability to conduct joint air and sea operations in support of potential future contingencies,” said Capt. Jay R. Mills, the exercise’s director of operations.

The two CSGs are part of a strong U.S. naval presence in the Pacific that has helped to maintain peace and stability in the region as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which was established 69 years ago. USS John C. Stennis returned to the 7th Fleet’s area of operation four months ahead of schedule to maintain combatant commander requirements for its presence in the region. The crew has been engaging in live-fire exercises, torpedo countermeasures exercises and numerous other training exercises during its current deployment and transit to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

The U.S. Navy routinely conducts simultaneous CSG operations when and where opportunities exist and are operationally feasible. While operations such as this ensure peace and stability, they also allow the two CSGs to improve interoperability and readiness. They further provide the Navy the capability to respond quickly to various situations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, ranging from combat operations to humanitarian assistance missions.

“There are some very unique challenges in this part of the world,” said Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the John C. Stennis CSG. “All nations in this region have a vested interest in regional stability and freedom of navigation. We are here to continue to strengthen partnerships and promote peace and security in the region.”


By Mark Thompson 
TIME Magazine

The USS Harry S Truman steams the Arabian Sea as sailors on the flight deck prepare for the morning flight operations cycle. (Navy photo / MCS 2nd Class Kilho Park)

U.S. aircraft carriers are a big roll of the dice. The U.S. Navy has begun building the Ford class of carriers, which are going to end up costing $15 billion each once they’re outfitted with the warplanes that are the reason for their existence.

They promote the U.S. presence in a most awe-inspiring way. To see a carrier looming out on the horizon is to feel insignificant. Especially if you’re an enemy warship.

But the World War II battles of carriers and battleships are, literally, history. Future foes will choose to come after these 100,000-ton behemoths with much cheaper torpedoes or missiles. The U.S. Navy bets they won’t succeed. Others aren’t so sure.

The debate resumes with a pair of essays looking at the merit of continuing to rely so heavily on carriers.

Robert Haddick, a one-time Marine and military strategist, questions the current strategy over at Foreign Policy:

China is putting anti-ship missiles on submarines, patrol boats, surface ships, aircraft, and trucks, giving it the ability to dominate its nearby seas. For the price of a single major warship, China can buy hundreds or even thousands of anti-ship missiles. And as it perfects its own reconnaissance drones, China will be able to thoroughly patrol neighborhood waters, identifying targets for these missiles. The Navy’s aircraft carriers will come under pressure to retreat from this missile zone. However, there is a limit to how far they can retreat while still remaining in the game.

But over at Proceedings, an independent journal published by the U.S. Naval Institute, a brass trio argues for the status quo. Rear admirals William Moran and Thomas Moore, along with retired Navy captain Ed McNamee, write:

The Ford class represents a true “leap-ahead” ship that will be the centerpiece of U.S. naval power for the rest of the 21st century…Amid the current cost debate, it’s important to remember why the Navy chose to design and build a class of ship that will have a lifespan of 94 years and remain in service until 2110. The Ford class will deliver increased capability—at significantly reduced operating costs—and will remain at the forefront of a long-standing approach to countering threats and providing U.S. military presence in support of a wide variety of security objectives.

Wonder who the Chinese want to win this argument?

Read more:

Our Opinion
Scripps Howard News Service
Times Record News
(Wichita Falls, Texas)


With great fanfare and the presence of such dignitaries as the president and prime minister, the Chinese have launched their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which does not stand, as you might imagine, for White Elephant, but for the port where it was rebuilt from a Soviet-era hull bought from Ukraine in 1998.

According to NBC, a Chinese naval expert told the People’s Daily, “The aircraft carrier will play an important role in China’s settlement of islands disputes and defense of its maritime rights and interests.” In other words, it is meant to intimidate its maritime neighbors.

However, naval experts said the Liaoning will be used for training, because the Chinese navy has never operated a carrier and its aircraft, 25-year-old Soviet-made MiG-23s, are unsuitable for carrier landings.

The question of whether China goes ahead and builds operational carriers depends on whether its navy can develop aircraft capable of operating from them. A carrier the size of the Liaoning has a capacity of 30 aircraft, a U.S. carrier, 90.

And while this carrier is a point of national pride, there does not for the foreseeable future seem to be much need for it. To truly operate in blue water — that is, far from China’s shores — would require larger carriers plus the huge number of ships that make up carrier battle fleets. Since China doesn’t face any distant offshore threats, it would be a huge sum to spend to buck up national morale.

In the close-in quarters of the South China Sea, where China’s island territorial disputes lie, the Liaoning would be vulnerable to land-based aircraft. You Ji, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore, told The New York Times, “In the South China Sea, if the carrier is damaged by the Vietnamese, it’s a huge loss of face. It’s not worth it.”

Still, even though the carrier cannot yet do what aircraft carriers are supposed to do — carry, launch and retrieve — and it doesn’t have a clear mission, the Liaoning does buy China membership in that small fraternity of nine nations that have carriers. And maybe that’s reason enough for image-conscious China to own one.

Source: AFP

AFP © An office worker browses online in Manila in June 2012. A new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups.

MANILA (AFP) – A new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups.

The stated aim of the cybercrime law is to fight online pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming in the conservative Catholic nation amid police complaints they lack the legal tools to stamp out Internet crime.

However it also includes a blanket provision that puts the country’s criminal libel law into force in cyberspace, except that the penalties for Internet defamation are much tougher compared with old media.

It also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice/video applications, such as Skype, without a warrant.

Teenagers unwarily retweeting or re-posting libellous material on social media could bear the full force of the law, according to Noemi Dado, a prominent Manila blogger who edits a citizen media site called Blog Watch.

“Not everyone is an expert on what constitutes libel. Imagine a mother like me, or teenagers and kids who love to rant. It really hits our freedoms,” Dado told AFP.

Compounding the concerns, those teenagers or anyone else who posts a libellous comment faces a maximum prison term of 12 years and a fine of one million pesos ($24,000).

Meanwhile, newspaper editors and other trained professionals in traditional media face prison terms of just four years and fines of 6,000 pesos.

While harsh criminal libel legislation remains in force in other parts of Asia, Dado said the Philippine law sent the wrong signal in a country that overthrew the military-backed Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship just 26 years ago.

Dado, a lawyer’s wife known in the local online community as the “momblogger”, is among a group of bloggers and other critics of the libel element of the cybercrime law campaigning for it to be repealed.

Brad Adams, Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the law was having a chilling effect in the Philippines, which has one of the world’s highest per capita rates of Facebook and Twitter users.

“Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader — including government officials — bring a libel charge,” Adams said.

About a third of the Philippines’ nearly 100 million people use the Internet, with 96 percent them on Facebook, according to industry figures.

Five petitions claiming the law is unconstitutional have been filed with the Supreme Court.

Senator Teofisto Guingona, the lone opponent when the bill was voted on in the Senate, has filed one of the petitions to the Supreme Court.

“Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime — even if you just re-tweet or comment on an online update or blog post,” Guingona told the court.

“The questioned provisions… throw us back to the Dark Ages.”

The five petitions all say the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication.

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque, who filed one of the petitions, said the Philippines was one of a shrinking number of countries where defamation remained a crime punishable by prison.

Part of the penal code that was drawn up 82 years ago, it goes against the trend in many advanced democracies such as the United States and Britain where defamation is now punished with fines rather than imprisonment, Roque said.

Amid the public backlash, some of the senators who voted for the cybercime law have started to disassociate themselves from it, even claiming they did not read the provision on libel.

However presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has defended the cybercrime law.

“The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace…. freedom of expression is always recognised but freedom of expression is not absolute,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Nevertheless, Lacierda said the law could still be refined.

He called for critics to submit their concerns to a government panel that will issue by the end of the year specific definitions of the law, such as who may be prosecuted.

Calling A Spade…
Solita Collas-Monsod

I RECEIVED a copy of Juan Ponce Enrile A Memoir last Sunday afternoon, for “early review,” whatever that means. And I must say that I got hooked from the very beginning, by Nelson Navarro’s Introduction and Ponce Enrile’s (JPE) Prologue. So much so that for the next two days, the book was with me wherever I went, to be read at every opportunity, particularly while in the car in between appointments (no, I don’t get dizzy reading in a moving vehicle). Which is why I was able to finish the 740-page volume (including appendix, but excluding the intro and the prologue) in two and a half days.

Reading about what JPE had to go through in order to get an elementary and high school education moved me to tears. His family wasn’t just poor, it was dirt poor. His mother went to great lengths to ensure that he would be able to go to school — and because there was no school in their area, she approached distant relatives, offering JPE’s houseboy services in exchange for board and lodging. JPE’s narration is done without an ounce of self-pity: how he went barefoot to school, how he could sleep only five hours a day in order to be able to do his housework and his school work, how he had no books and had to depend on neighbors who had them, how he picked up movie leaflets in the street to use as scratch paper because he couldn’t afford ruled paper, how he was ganged up on by the “rich” classmates in his second year of high school, and stabbed, how his case against them was dismissed, and how he was then expelled from the school for being a trouble maker, and how all this strengthened his resolve to finish his studies — he had originally wanted to be an engineer, but the oppression and injustice he experienced made him decide to be a lawyer instead.

When he finally met his father (who apparently had no inkling that his liaison with the widow Petra had born fruit), it was after the War (during which he was imprisoned and tortured), and he was enrolled in a school run by the Maryknoll sisters, where he earned his High School Diploma at the age of 23. As a postscript, he finished his pre law (Ateneo, cum laude) and his law (UP, cum laude), and was offered scholarships in Harvard, Yale, and Columbia (he chose Harvard).

The account of his struggle to get an education has to be one of the most inspiring I have encountered, and should be widely disseminated. At this point, Ponce Enrile is enjoying tremendous popularity, and his climb out of grinding poverty through education will surely be an effective tool in the campaign to reduce the very major problem of school dropouts. Who knows? Maybe going barefoot to school will become a badge of honor rather than a cause for shame. But because the book, which is to be launched this afternoon, is going to be very costly, perhaps the first 90 pages can be excerpted and distributed with the help of some obliging philanthropist.

For the historians, and for those who lived through the martial law years, Enrile’s insider account of what went on from the time Ferdinand Marcos campaigned for the presidency (JPE apparently was asked by his partners to leave his law firm because he supported Marcos over Macapagal), through his government service as Collector of Customs and Finance undersecretary and Secretary of Justice and as Secretary and later Minister of National Defense is fascinating in its delineation of how power corrupts, and how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Marcos started out, apparently, with very good intentions — and Ponce Enrile’s story outlines how those good intentions paved the road to hell.

And many gems of information, previously unknown, are there for the picking, courtesy of the JPE memoir: Some examples:

Very early on in the martial law years, JPE earned the ire of Imelda Marcos — and he and his wife Cristina were removed from the social guest list.

The Tripoli Agreement was negotiated by Imelda and National Defense Undersecretary Carmelo Barbero without the knowledge or participation of JPE (does this sound familiar?) — an agreement which apparently was constitutionally flawed. Imelda was furious at JPE for pointing this out, but apparently Estelito Mendoza and Jose Roño backed him up. The Agreement had to be renegotiated.

Edna Camcam, the lady love of Fabian Ver, who divulged Ver’s plans about a government takeover (after allowing Imelda to sit for six months) in the event of Marcos’ death. Why she did this is not explained, except that Camcam and Enrile are comprovincianos. Maybe Nelson Navarro edited it out — the JPE book draft was 2,000 pages long, after all. I wish I could read the original.

Danding Cojuangco “acquired the 20% of the Ayalas in San Miguel, while the other shares from other stockholders were acquired for the coconut farmers and placed in the name of newly formed corporations. The 20% of the Ayalas bought by Danding and the other shares bought for the coconut farmers were paid out of funds borrowed from the remaining balance of the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund which by that time was deposited in the United Coconut Planters Bank in trust for the coconut farmers and renamed as the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF).

JPE was not aware of Marcos’s illness. Marcos kept it from him. It was Paeng Salas who told JPE that Marcos was undergoing an operation.

JPE tendered his resignation to Marcos in July 1983 (a month before the Aquino assassination) because whether he realized it or not, Marcos was no longer in control — Ver and his minions were. Marcos did not accept his resignation.

Joker Arroyo told JPE that Cory asked him (Joker) to tell JPE that he had nothing to worry about his ill-gotten wealth. JPE asked Joker to tell Cory that he (JPE) had no ill-gotten wealth and that if she had any doubts, not to hesitate to subject him to an investigation. JPE, after the falling out, was indeed subjected to nine-month investigation by BIR Commissioner Benny Tan. Nothing was found.

Cardinal Sin, among others, lied. What about? Well, you’ll have to read the book.