opinion

Malum Prohibitum

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By Ronald Roy

Any breach of the law is an act classified either as malum in se (bad in itself) or malum prohibitum (bad because it is prohibited). Let us use this as a premise for a clearer understanding of the Supreme Court’s resolution declaring unconstitutional the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). I think that this is necessary for observers who are not lawyers, given the complexity of the facts and the intricacies of the plunder law appurtenant to the criminal cases now before the Sandiganbayan.

An example of an act that is malum in se is stealing. An apprehended thief cannot claim he did not know that there was a law punishing theft. In this case, ignorance of the law will not excuse him because stealing is intrinsically bad, immoral or evil, and even an atheist knows this. An order for restitution and a jail term await him. On the other hand, an example of malum prohibitum is a traffic violation, like parking a car in a no-parking area. The driver will get a fine for this.

In relation to the DAP imbroglio, was the act of the executive department in usurping congress’ power of the purse malum in se or malum prohibitum? This is the essential question.

Under the constitution, congress is vested with the exclusive power to appropriate funds for the operations of government. The constitution and the General Appropriations Act (GAA) were violated when DBM Sec. Florencio Abad, his subordinates and other government functionaries gathered the unused funds of the departments, agencies and offices within the jurisdiction of the president, purportedly for the noble purpose of distributing the same to sundry priority projects to accelerate economic development. Purportedly? Granted.

It may even be further assumed for argument’s sake that the DAP was designed with a mechanism to insulate its operations from graft. Nevertheless, the DAP was still an unwarranted usurpation of the legislature’s exclusive power of the purse. And here’s why: When the executive department wrested away a power exclusively owned by both houses of congress, 1) it created an abhorrent imbalance of power among the three branches of government — a disrupting disequilibrium which no healthy democracy would wish to be home to, and 2) it opened the floodgates of graft, which incidentally is what actually happened in the premises. These are the two situations that the law seeks to prevent.

Last week, I wrote that President Noynoy could not claim good faith because when he was a senator, he authored and sponsored a bill outlawing the DAP which he then saw as evil, although his colleagues ignored him. Well, he’s now hard-pressed to convince anybody that when he woke up one morning, he realized that the DAP was a virtuous concept pala. And so, as a favor to the nation, he authorized its implementation. Ngek!!

In any event, the general consensus of observers is that DBM Sec. Abad now finds himself in deep s – – t. Last week, over a dozen youth leaders led by Kabataan Rep. Terry Ridon filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint of the non-bailable crime of Plunder. The youths, acting under Youth Act Now (YAN), a nationwide alliance of youth groups, charged that Abad “conceptualized, developed and implemented the DAP himself, supposedly as an economic stimulus facility”. I’m sorry, but I fear the observers’ jubilant overconfidence will likely go for naught.

The facts of the DAP and the provisions of the plunder law itself are so complicated they will give defense counsel generous lea ways for securing Abad’s acquittal. YAN’s thrust, IMHO, would be virtually trouble-free if it had instead sued Abad for Malversation (Art. 217, Revised Penal Code). A feature in Malversation would have made it much easier to convict Abad, namely, his mere negligence in allowing another or others to illicitly profit from DAP’s operations.

And the effects thereof would be just as damning as in Plunder, viz, the penalty of reclusión perpetua (life imprisonment) if the amount misappropriated or embezzled is more than 22,000 pesos, or reclusión temporal (ten years imprisonment) if 22,000 or less; additionally, Abad would be slapped with perpetual special disqualification from holding public office and a fine equal to the amount involved, not to mention that in appropriate cases there would be prima facie evidence that he had unlawfully profited.

It has long been my belief that PDAF and DAP offenders can be more easily convicted under the provisions of Malversation. Just think: In Plunder, many transactions will usually be needed to reach the threshold of 50 million pesos for conviction, while in Malversation, one transaction will be enough.

Pres. B.S. Aquino lll? Well, his numbers in the lower house shield him against impeachment, but Malversation or the malum prohibitum offense of Technical Malversation will send him to jail after his term.

(To be continued)

For feedback: rqonald8roy@gmail.com/09186449517

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He Who Controls Technology Rules

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By Erick San Juan

I was amazed to read at the Wall Street Journal (7/9/14) an article entitled “From Hidden Station, China Spies on the World” by James T. Areddy, Paul Mozur and Danny Yadron. It pictured how sophisticated the Chinese espionage and their high-tech weaponry capability that can compete with the western technology.

The report vividly described the China’s version of the US National Security Agency monitoring Russia and track missiles from the mountains near Beijing. China’s military experts allegedly analyze internet phone calls on an island dubbed as China’s Hawaii and eavesdropped on Europe from a secret town hidden behind an array of residential towers.

The Wall Street Journal assembled an overview of some secret operations of China’s global monitoring organization using Chinese government websites, academic databases and foreign security expertise. The 3rd Department of the Peoples Liberation Army’s General Staff Department which spy watchers call 3PLA is reportedly central to China’s military strategy, tasked with monitoring and analyzing much of the world’s communication, including embassy cables, corporate emails and criminal networks for foreign threats and competitive advantages.

China’s national security operation is perceived to maintain what active and former US officials say are facilities around Shanghai specialized in watching the US. One of them is located close to the main transoceanic communication cables linking China to the US.

Last May, the US Justice Department indicted five officers of 3PLA on charges that they stole US corporate secrets. The report added that as Beijing modernized its high-tech defensive arsenal, the Wall Street Journal backed up ‘on the ground’ views of 3PLA facilities with an examination of the organizational structure of the NSA like military departments. Pundits believe, it rattled governments and corporations around the globe while remaining obscure outside security circles. Its operational units are spread out widely throughout China.

According to foreign experts, recruits came from elite specialist universities. 3PLA’s estimated 100,000 plus hackers, linguists, analysts and officers populate a dozen military intelligence units. Its multiple sub-operations divvy up responsibility according to geography and task as reported. At some 3PLA units in Beijing and Shanghai, arrays of satellite dishes seemed to dwarf the walls surrounding them where visitors face stiff-faced guards and written warnings. Some farm fields sprout dozens of thin radio towers next to a base in Northern Shanghai.

According to the Wall Street Journal report, two former US officials familiar with intelligence assessments said 3PLA’s operational structure has parallels with those of the US National Security Agency and the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, both run out of Fort Meade in Maryland, USA. There are so many secrets and detailed information at the WSJ report. Who will taught that this top level information can be exposed like the Wikileaks, Snowden report, spy novel like Ludlum, Le Carre and has a semblance of the James Bond spy thriller.

It entered my mind like a ‘deja vu’ when I attended a security conference abroad recently. One of the lecturers told us that the old adage-” He who controls the gold rules.” is already passé and the future war will be won by superior technology. Humint or human intelligence through clandestine and spy networks will soon be replaced by super computers and hi-tech gadgets. Soldiers as warriors due to its vulnerability will be retooled by intelligent robots. Planes, drones, tanks and other weaponry will be unmanned and controlled by computers and satellites.

It’s very clear now that the hype of sophistication is part of psy ops and myth to make the perceived future enemies believe that they now have the capability to fight and defeat the western technology and strategy.

I have to remind some nation-states not to ‘bite the bullet’ and stop their provocation of war just to cover their leaders’ deficiencies and impending domestic strife. In disguise of uniting their nationals, they are trying to be bully for a ’cause’ and possibly fight another enemy.

Such leaders should learn from the mistakes of the past and history of wars. The west have created thousands of think-tank like Project 2049 Institute, a Virginia based organization whom the WSJ was provided with unpublished analysis on 3PLA. What about the several security conferences analyzing and assessing possible and future conflicts inviting members of the academe, top intelligence and defense officials and security analysts worldwide.

The real problem lies with the pawns. The Philippines could possibly be the ‘guinea pig’ if our leaders will not be careful. Be wary!

Obnoxious Brats

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By: Ronald Roy 

“I have a whole hour to spend with you, sir , before my Political Science class starts at 3,” said 18-year-old William Chang, staring at his watch. A sophomore of a private university located in Makati, Billy, born in Malolos, Bulacan of pure Chinese parentage, had earlier asked me what I thought of the debilitating tensions between China and the Philippines. I laid down the newspaper I’d been reading and asked him to join me as I asked a waiter to clear my table.

Billy, who spoke with a Chinese accent, was familiar to me as a regular customer of the burger restaurant, and must have felt he might gather the courage to speak with me, possibly after having heard my socio-political views in chats with friends on previous occasions. I welcomed an opportunity for a talk with him myself. He would surely furnish me an idea of how people his age and nationality were affected by deteriorating ties between the two countries.

As he prepared to carry his back pack to my table, I sat up eager to answer the still unanswered question: “Sir, will there be a war between China and us?” It was clear that his words ‘China’ and ‘us’ identified his sentiments as Filipino, not Chinese, hence, the assurance my task would not be a problem, although I did stress that all he would be getting from me was a mere opinion, and not an authoritative one at that. So, dear Readers, hereunder are some highlights of my conversation with Billy Chang.

No, I do not believe a full-scale war will erupt between China and us, although isolated shooting incidents shouldn’t be discounted, even in the face of an American-access-to-PH-military-bases agreement. Well, it’s really nice to feel reassured that nobody wants a war where everyone ends up losing, but given China’s history of hotheaded warmongers, one can never really tell.

It’s often said that it will take a moron to press the proverbial red button to trigger a nuclear holocaust. The trouble is: instigators in present-day warfare are madmen, not morons. The distant past had its share of supercilious schizos, like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte; and it is feared that today’s Chinese leadership could be what Deng Xiaoping once predicted in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly: murderously mad.

Deng was a 4′ 11″ runt, a midget with the mind of a colossus whose reformist capitalist theories opened avenues for the rapid development of China’s market economy into what it is today: the second strongest in the world, and perhaps the largest creditor-nation ever in the the history of mankind. One’s mind is boggled, indeed, by how America can manage such an enormous debt in the trillions of dollars.

And the same mind comfortably concludes that it would be idiotic and asinine for the two mightiest nations on the planet to annihilate each other in a nuclear confrontation. Yes, indeed, why should they destroy each other when the earth can be theirs by mutually arranged manipulations?! Don’t look now, but already Chinese nationals have been marrying into American homes, and investing in numerous top US companies and business conglomerates at a pace never before thought possible.

The trouble is: this analysis is too rational, too orthodox even for Deng Xiaoping’s comfort if he were alive. The perspicacious Deng had seen too much of the dark side of his country’s leaders which even today’s nations have not yet seen. And Deng strongly warned the world against them. For, Deng knew that it was only a question of time — and that time is now, Billy — that his country would be a daunting economic and military threat to America and the rest of the free world.

And he feared that a resurgent China, the oldest civilization that had once ruled the world (long before our country was discovered), would strive to surge to the top in ruthless disregard of the UN Charter, international law and such other principles and norms of human decency that are intended for the fostering of peace among all nations of goodwill. He recalled the brutal 1964 sinking by a Chinese vessel of an unarmed Vietnamese fishing boat three times smaller, killing over 60 innocent fishers and leaving a similar number missing.

Ironically, however, he would be held accountable by government quarters for the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square that happened under his watch.The reformist Deng was twice purged by the Politburo for his radical views, but it was his dynamism that brought him back on track in his quest for the pinnacle of power, the same dynamism that had him trepidatiously declaring before the UN General Assembly that, once given a chance at world domination, a reawakened China would most likely bamboozle its neighbors in the Asean region, and should be stopped by other countries acting in concert with its own citizens.

The Chinese people’s cultural trait of settling disputes among themselves without resorting to trial, arbitration, conciliation and the like, has no place in a community of Asean peoples who all disagree with that settlement mode. It’s time China’s leaders stopped behaving like obnoxious brats.

( http://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

Editorial: The Ugly Truth

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SURVEYS are a common tool to get a feel of the public pulse.

If conducted scientifically, the data collected by surveys could provide a fairly accurate assessment of the public sentiment toward a certain issue, person or object.

Image,

(photo source: http://aptmeaning.com)

But surveys are not an exact science and could be easily manipulated to suit the need of the one who commissioned the polls or twist the public perception.

Here in the Philippines, the season is again ripe for surveys.

With our government rocked by yet another scandal courtesy of one Janet Lim-Napoles, polls could serve as a fresh coat of paint over the ugly picture painted by the present scenario.

Two weeks ago, a survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce of US firms operating in the region painted a rosy picture of the business climate here in the Philippines. Then on Friday, the country scored “pogi points” anew in the latest Global Competitiveness Report filed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). ‪#‎OpinYon‬ ‪#‎Editorial‬

cont | http://bit.ly/19CJeuu

Obama’s War

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by: Erick San Juan

THE surprise U-turn of US President Barack Obama in attacking Syria over the weekend should be taken with a grain of salt, why is this so? As I have said before (in my writings and in my daily radio program) that a world war (or a regional conflict) is inevitable because of one, economic and two, to unite the citizenry of both the US and China against a perceived outside enemy to avoid domestic violence. And such war/conflict can be delayed but unfortunately will push through as planned by the ‘chosen few.’

As what was reported from various online sources that President Obama had made a second decision: to seek the approval of Congress before launching any strikes. The president said he had listened to members of Congress who had expressed a desire for their voices to be heard, and that he agreed. Although we have to be wary because “Obama insisted the delay did not have any tactical consequences. His most senior military advisor had told him an attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.” (The Guardian online 9/1/13) Meaning the attack will happen in the near future. #OpinYon #Syria#opinion

cont | http://bit.ly/15LOnNA
photo source: kernelpanicx.deviantart.com