Monday, June 15, 2009

More on the stupidity of HR 1109

In my recent article entitled “It takes two to Cha-cha: The stupidity of HR 1109,” I must say that I ventured into the realm of the unusual. And why is that? For one, I am elated because I got favorable reviews from conscientious citizens who are too passionate in expressing their disgust against the notorious HR 1109. However, like any other masterpiece, we cannot but avoid dissenting views from the cynics and also from legal minded critics. For this, I am constrained to respond by expounding a little more on my arguments and theories surrounding the constitutional implications of HR 1109. To be clear, the arguments are “anticipatory” in nature because a case has yet to be filed in the Supreme Court to clarify the various interpretations on the pertinent constitutional provisions on amendments and revision. To be sure this is not a futile academic exercise. In fact, by discussing the constitutional aspects of HR 1109, we will in effect expose the stupidity of those Congressmen who voted to adopt this worthless piece of trash.

To begin, I must admit that there is no such thing as a watertight interpretation to the 1987 Constitution, the provision on the amendatory process in particular. More often than not, owing to the fact that most of its provisions are ambiguous, we are inclined to poke holes in every provision of the constitution to suit our current disposition. This is what the proponents have in mind when they ventured to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution via HR 1109 calling for a unicameral constituent assembly.

Again, in my recent article I echoed initially the position taken by the esteemed Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas of the Ateneo Law School. And to make it more staid and understandable, I expounded and stretched the arguments a little more.

In that article, I took the position that the “three-fourths” vote requirement under Article XVII section 1 pertains to the proposal for amendments or revision made by Congress when acting as a constituent assembly. The Constitution but sets an explicit limitation when it comes to the manner of approving the proposal on constitutional amendments, this is where the three-fourths vote comes into play. This is contrary to the view that the three-fourths vote refers to the manner of convening the constituent assembly. Unlike the present Constitution, a different rule is required under the 1935 Constitution before Congress can act as a constituent assembly. The 1935 Constitution says,”The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a convention for that purpose.” Under said provision, a congressional resolution passed by both houses calling for a joint session is necessary before Congress can act as a constituent assembly. But this was before of course. As presently worded, the 1987 Constitution is explicit when it enunciates that, “Any amendment to or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon the vote of three-fourths of all its members…” Believe it or not, the Congress as it now sits is already a constituent assembly.

On personal note, my brother (who by the way is a lawyer and a staunch advocate of the Constitution) corrected me when I said that by virtue of Article XVII Congress automatically converts itself into a constitutional assembly. To him, the House and the Senate is a perpetual constitutional assembly. I shall grant him that because actually there is no conflict with regard to our respective positions. I totally agree with him but I used the automatic conversion theory merely to distinguish constituent functions under Article XVII (Amendments and Revision) from legislative functions under Article VI (The Legislative Department). For non lawyers, these dual functions of Congress can be confusing because by way of a general rule Congress is tasked mainly to enact laws, thus the need for a distinction.

Nonetheless, let us be clear on this matter. It is my position that until and unless Congress decides to act pursuant to Article XVII, the functions of a constituent assembly remains completely dormant. Article XVII is the constitutional provision which activates the functions and powers attached to a constituent assembly. And so, when the House unilaterally adopted HR 1109 seeking to convene Congress as a constituent assembly, that to me is a useless and futile exercise. (At least in the constitutional sense) What may be unconstitutional is the fact that said resolution allows both Houses to vote jointly in the manner of proposing amendments. Here, we will now be talking about the function of Congress when acting as a constituent assembly. As Fr. Bernas opined, “The question that must be asked is not how Congress becomes a constituent assembly, but rather how Congress must function when acting as a constituent assembly.” In other words, when Congress functions as a constituent assembly, must they convene in joint or separate session? In addition, must they vote separately or jointly?

As I have said in my previous article, it would be more consistent with the bicameral structure of Congress that both Houses must convene in a joint session but voting separately. Thus; “In view of all this, I therefore subscribe to the view of Fr. Bernas that to be consistent with the bicameral structure of Congress, the “three-fourths vote of all its members” must be interpreted to mean three-fourths of all members of each house voting separately…As to the question whether the House and the Senate should convene jointly or in separate sessions, I think it is best that both Houses must cross swords with each other face to face. Take note that what is at stake here is not ordinary legislation but amendments to the Constitution. Although the Constitution does not command a joint session in the manner of proposing amendments, neither is there a prohibition for them to do otherwise. In any case Congress certainly has the discretionary power to set its own internal rules as an independent branch of the government”

Admittedly, the separate voting formula is in line with the position taken by Fr. Bernas which to me is the more practical and logical solution to the present controversy.

I am not unaware of the generally valid argument that if we follow the position of Fr. Bernas in the procedure of proposing amendments (separate session and voting separately), in effect we will be reducing the amendatory process into an ordinary legislation. Obviously, the amendatory process is far more delicate and momentous endeavor because we are dealing here with the very source of governmental authority, the Constitution. Logically we can never equate the value of the Constitution with an ordinary legislation. For one, unlike ordinary legislation which requires the only the approval of the President, amendments to the Constitution requires the participation of the electorate for ratification in a plebiscite. Again, the question ultimately boils down to the purposes for having a bicameral legislative body in the 1987 Constitution. Among the traditional arguments for bicameralism is the fact that it allows for a more cautious or careful study of legislation. Thus, as I said before, “two heads are better than one.” Indeed bicameralism means two houses, the House and the Senate, acting independently and occasionally checking each other. Theoretically, the purpose behind all of this is for them to craft quality legislation.

By espousing a joint session but voting separately in the amendatory process, the purpose is ultimately the same, the quality of the proposed amendments to the Constitution. If it works with ordinary legislation, what could be the possible reason for it not to apply to the amendatory process? To my mind there is none. As I said before, a proposal partakes to the nature of a “recommendation.” It is the sovereign people who will have their last say on whether to approve or reject the proposed amendments. Moreover, if we put a premium to ordinary legislation by having separate session and separate voting, the more reason it should apply to proposed amendments because of its significant impact in the lives of our people and to the stability of the nation as a whole.

As I mentioned in my recent article, the theory behind HR 1109 is a result of a distorted interpretation on the amendatory process as envisioned in the 1987 Constitution. I was kind enough to categorize it as an “outrageous” interpretation. On second thought however, I will now call it as an “out of this world” constitutional construction both in essence and in substance. If these recalcitrant Congressmen of ours refuse to heed to the clamor of the street parliament, it is best to arm the public with adequate knowledge so that they may have a solid fulcrum to express their opposition. I just wish that these issues will be settled once and for all by the Supreme Court and let the record reflect for posterity how stupid HR 1109 is. Nuff said for now.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It takes two to Cha-cha:The stupidity of HR 1109

In bold letters, the headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer reads: CON-ASS SPARKS OUTRAGE. The public indignation ostensibly stemmed from a hodgepodge legislative proposal coming from the House of Representatives in the form of House Resolution 1109. In the flurry of charter change, every time lawmakers call for the amendment or revision of the 1987 Constitution, the public often reacts violently. The 1987 Constitution is by no means a perfect document; and there seems to be a general agreement among the people that there is a need to change the present Constitution. But like in the past, the real problem of constitutional reform lies in the “mode” and the “timing” of change. This brings us to the thrust of HR 1109, a proposed resolution calling for both houses of Congress to convene into a “constituent assembly” and by voting ‘jointly,’ propose amendment to the 1987 Constitution.

True, the Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is. But since this is a grey area in constitutional law, I would like to offer my view. I say, HR 1109 is unconstitutional.

In discussing the nature and function of a constituent assembly, one must first appreciate the relevant provisions dealing with amendments or revision under the 1987 Constitution. Article XVII section 1 pertinently says: “Any amendment to or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon the vote of three-fourths of all its members, (2) A constitutional convention.” Section 2 of the same article however is limited to amendments, thus, “Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be proposed by the people through initiative…” Verily, there are three (3) ways on how to propose amendments or revision to the constitution: (1) Congress sitting as constituent assembly (2) A Constitutional convention and (3) the people by virtue of initiative. Let us focus on the first mode being the purported basis of the iniquitous House Resolution No. 1109.

“A constituent assembly,” said constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, “is nothing more than a body composed of men and women either elected or appointed officially empowered by the people through the Constitution to propose amendments to or revision of the Constitution.” The Constitution by virtue of Article XVII section 1 (cited earlier) automatically converts the bicameral Congress into a constitutional assembly the moment it seeks to propose amendments or revision. But let us be clear on this owing to the ambiguity of the constitutional provision on the amendatory process. As I have observed, most opinion writers (same with my fellow bloggers) seem to construe the “three-fourths vote” requirement as a necessary condition before Congress can act as a constituent assembly. To my mind, the “three-fourths” vote requirement cited above refers to the determination of Congress on whether to approve or reject the proposal for amendments or a revision. Necessarily they cannot do this unless they already sit as a constituent assembly by operation of Article XVII section 1 of the 1987 Constitution. This is what Fr. Bernas meant when he referred to the issue of converting Congress into a constitutional assembly as “superfluous talk.”

Going back as worded, the 1987 Constitution neither requires an enabling act in the form of legislation nor a resolution before Congress can act or sit as a constituent assembly. But there seems to be no problem if Congress in the exercise of its rule-making powers decides to pass a resolution in the form of an administrative measure “setting down how each house proposes to proceed in the exercise of the constituent power.” The function of a constituent assembly, however, is not to be confused with the role of the electorate in the process of amendments and revision.

A constituent assembly merely proposes or formulates amendments or revision; it does not amend or revise the Constitution. In essence, the proposal made by the constituent assembly partakes to the nature of a “recommendation” subject to the approval or ratification by the sovereign people through a plebiscite. It should be noted that the 1987 Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature composed of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it was an uphill battle for those who supported a bicameral legislature over a unicameral system. The debates between the opposing sides were both intense and sometimes even comical, but nonetheless extensive with their respective arguments. At the end of the day, the votes were 22-23 in favor of a bicameral system.

The rationale for a bicameral body is obvious as the sun; simply put,two heads are better than one. Legislative decisions, whether Congress acting as a constituent assembly or performing a legislative function, require far-reaching deliberations and debate, thus the need for collective wisdom. This is logical because the Senate tends to view transcendental issues from the national perspective while the House of Representatives favor the parochial approach in resolving problems confronting the nation. In other words, there is the built-in system of checks and balances which is the essence of a bicameral system. Clearly then, the framers of the 1987 Constitution deliberately manifest their intention to establish a legislative body with a bicameral structure and obviously, the people overwhelmingly approved their handiwork as the supreme law of the land.

Bicameralism necessarily entails the idea of dual decision. As such, the same applies even when Congress proposes amendments or revision in the exercise of its constituent powers. Since Congress is composed of two Houses, how then can it propose amendments or revision to the Constitution when it sits as a constituent assembly? Basically, when Congress enacts ordinary legislation both Houses have separate deliberations and voting separately. But proposing amendments or revision is not a legislative function as enshrined in Article VI, what we have here is a constituent function pursuant to Article XVII. To reiterate, the Constitution simply says, ““Any amendment to or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon the vote of three-fourths of all its members…” But again, how can we determine the “three-fourths vote” of all its members when what we have is a bicameral Congress, each with its respective number of members. Can both Houses propose amendments to the Constitution in a joint session? If so, how about the manner of voting? Must they vote separately or not?

It appears however that majority of the Congressmen who sponsored House Resolution No.1109 have a distorted interpretation of Article XVII section 1 of the Constitution. The gist of the resolution clearly excludes the participation of the Senate in the process of proposing amendments. For obvious reason, HR 1109 openly enunciates the “joint voting” formula as the correct interpretation in determining the three-fourths vote requirement. Under this view, the phrase, “three-fourths of all its members” should mean three-fourths of all the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate taken together as one legislative body. To illustrate, let us suppose that at present we have a total of 293 members, 269 of them belong to the House while 24 to the Senate. Following the joint voting formula under HR 1109, three fourths of 293 would be 219. Thus, even assuming all the 24 Senators voted against the proposed amendments still it would not be enough to overturn the decision of the majority in the House. This of course is an outrageous interpretation of the 1987 Constitution. “Under this view,” wrote Justice Vicente Mendoza, “it does not matter if the three-fourths vote casts in favour of a proposed amendment or revision come from the House nor if all the members of the Senate object.” The joint-voting formula not only distorts the text of the Constitution, but it also destroys the very intent of the framers when it opted to go for a bicameral legislature.

To support this analogy, a perusal of the 1987 Constitution provides for the instances when the two Houses must convene together in joint session but vote separately: (1) When Congress declares the existence of war, (2) When it confirms the president’s nomination of a member of the Senate or of the House to be Vice President in the event of a vacancy in that office, and (3) the canvassing of votes for president and vice-president. Note that in these three instances, like proposing amendments or revision under Article XVII, Congress is performing a non-legislative function.

Corollary, I therefore subscribe to the view of Fr. Bernas that to be consistent with the bicameral structure of Congress, the “three-fourths vote of all its members” must be interpreted to mean three-fourths of all members of each house voting separately.

As to the question whether the House and the Senate should convene jointly or in separate sessions, I think it is best that both Houses cross swords with each other─ face to face. Take note that what is at stake here is not ordinary legislation but amendments to the Constitution. Albeit the Constitution does not command a joint session in the manner of proposing amendments, neither is there a prohibition for them to do otherwise. In any case Congress certainly has the discretionary power to set its own internal rules as an independent branch of the government.

The notorious House Resolution 1109 is nothing more but an utter display of hubris by the majority of the members of the House. While admittedly the constitutional provision on the amendatory process is badly worded, the same should not be utilized as an avenue for vain political motives. I have always maintained (see: Charter Change Revisited article) that if we venture to change our Constitution it has to be done under a less politicized environment. But be that as it may; if the House so decides to push through with the amendatory process by deliberately excluding the Senate, then this will be the proper time to bring the case to the Supreme Court for adjudication.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Careless Whisper: Sex,Lies,Videos and the Law

I’m not exactly frantic when the sex video featuring cosmetic surgeon Dr.Hayden Kho and starlet Katrina Halili came out spreading like a wild fire in the Internet. In fact on the very first day when the video came out, a friend even boasted (short of teasing me) that he had already watched the video several times and still could not believe that it was indeed Starstruck survivor Katrina Halili. To me it was just one of those cheap showbiz scandals similar, but not identical, to the Kris Aquino-Joey Marquez affair years ago. (Remember STD?) Well for one, with the emerging trend of cyber technology and the proliferation of techie gadgets, most young couples these days are into sex videos. Society refuses to accept this but this is the naked truth in this time and age. Personally I have nothing against it as long it remains private and a purely consensual act. But more importantly they should be responsible adults always aware of the consequences of their actions. Some couples have their reasons for doing it, some purely out of love, while others simply as an adventure, for whatever reason that too should remain private. Unfortunately for the erstwhile lovers they crossed the line.

Prior to the release of the infamous sex video, a less inflammable video was released popularly known as the “careless whisper” dance video. (Pardon the pun!) At first Katrina denied that it was her who was in that video. The content however showed a woman strip dancing with Hayden to the sensual tune of George Michael’s Careless Whisper. Later she recanted and admitted that it was her and that they were actually rehearsing for an upcoming performance for Celebrity Duets wherein Hayden was one of the celebrity contestants. Honestly, I do not intend to watch any of those infamous videos. I guess watching the news and reading dallies are enough facts and evidence regarding the existence of said videos. No need to belabor this point.

What concerns me though are the legal ramifications amidst this controversy. Are there enough laws to protect women against “perverts of the highest kind"? (Whatever that means, only the morally upright Senator Bong Revilla knows) or what possible crime(s) did Hayden Kho allegedly commit if viewed within purview of the Revised Penal Code or any special laws?

In so far as criminal liability is concerned, our Revised Penal Code (RPC) is too outdated, if not inutile, to cover crimes involving the use of technological gadgets or devises. What we have so far are general crimes or offenses involving acts, which in the language of the law, cause annoyance, irritation, vexation or disturbance to the mind of another person. Article 287 (par. 2) of the RPC for instance deals with the crime of unjust vexation and punishes the offender by arresto menor or a fine ranging from five (5) to two (2) hundred pesos or both. Law textbooks define unjust vexation “as any human conduct which, although not productive of some physical or material harm would, however unjustly annoy or vex an innocent person.” Clearly this crime is too elastic and toothless at best which covers almost any act as long as the element of annoyance is present. There are some who suggested that Article 359 of the RPC is somewhat applicable. Said provision refers to the crime of slander by deed. By definition, slander by deed is a crime against honor by which the offender performs any act which cast dishonor, discredit, or contempt upon another person. Among the essential elements in this crime is that the offender must perform the act in the presence of other person or persons with the intent to humiliate the offended party. Nevertheless taking into account the all-pervasive nature of the Internet, the penalty for this crime may not be commensurate to the degree of degradation and humiliation it has caused to the victims.

The only possible avenue perhaps, is to resort to a special law.

For this reason, a criminal complaint has already been filed against Kho allegedly for violating Republic Act No. 9262 also known as “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.” What is novel under this law is its broad application with regard to the relationship of the parties. Thus Section three (3) (a) of said act pertinently states that, “Violence against women and their children refers to any act or series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had sexual or dating relationship…” Clearly to find application, the relationship of the parties may not necessarily be that of a husband and wife, or founded upon a valid or common law (live-in) marriage. This is evident from the letter and intent of the law when it speaks of “dating relationship.” The law however excludes mere casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context. To come under the phrase “dating relationship,” the parties should have at least dated or involved romantically one time or the other, or on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship.

The act of videotaping or filming of an otherwise intimate sexual encounter sans consent of the woman may well be considered as a serious affront to women’s rights. Note that the type of violence punishable under said law is not limited to sexual or physical abuse but psychological as well. Thus the law clearly defines Psychological violence as “acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to…public ridicule or humiliations…” Under this form of violence, the offender is made to suffer the penalty of prision mayor or imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years. Fair enough if you ask me, otherwise Hayden Kho can always invoke the criminal law principle of Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege (There is no crime, when there is no law punishing it) to escape criminal liability.

Another possible legal remedy is to file for a separate or independent civil action for violation of privacy rights under the Civil Code. But the privacy issue here is not the focal point of the controversy, the best you can get out of this legal principle as applied to this particular case is civil liability. Yes, we are not talking here of imprisonment assuming Kho may be found liable in the courts of law for invasion of privacy.

Ironically a law maker even cited the right to privacy as enshrined in the Bill of Rights as the basis for Kho’s probable liability. This is an erroneous interpretation to say the least. The right to privacy as enshrined in the Constitution is a protection against governmental intrusion and not against private individuals. Simply put, assuming Kho violated the privacy of his victims, his liability should come under the Civil Code and not the Constitution since he is a private individual.

The salient provision which deals with privacy rights is Article 26 of the Civil Code which states, “Every person shall respect the dignity, personality, privacy and peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons…” This provision obviously recognizes and protects the sacredness of human personality against various forms of violation to privacy rights. With the increasing invasive capability of electronic gadgets or devises nowadays, the right to privacy is said to be the constant victim of unreasonable intrusions in this society. The protection of privacy rights under this provision is not limited to locational or physical privacy it also covers psychological privacy of every person. Thus, the law speaks of, “peace of mind of his neighbors and other persons.”

Essentially, if two consenting adults decided to make a sex video exclusively for their own consumption and for whatever reason, such is covered within their right to privacy. In any case it should be respected because it is protected by law. But while the law protects the privacy of private individuals, the law also imposes reasonable limitations for its exercise. What makes it prohibited under the law for example is if it is made under scandalous circumstances or if the other party did not consent to the act of videotaping or recording. In any case the law certainly recognizes any forms of privacy as long as it is not contrary to law, morals, public policy etc.

In the ultimate analysis, whether criminal or civil liability, consent is an essential element to determine the fate of Hayden Kho. Having said this, the pressing question that comes to mind is: Did Katrina consent to the act, not the act of sexual intercourse, but obviously to the video recording? Note that the operative word here is “consent.” According to news reports and interviews Katrina vehemently denies that she had knowledge whatsoever with Kho’s act of videotaping their sexual encounter much less giving her consent. If this is indeed true, then Hayden Kho is in a difficult position here. Sink or swim, he has to come up with a legal defense which will establish a consensual act and then shift the blame to those who allegedly stole and uploaded the videos in the internet. From what I heard, the legal counsel of Kho opted to put an insanity defense or that he was too high on drugs when he videotaped or recorded the sexual encounter. Sounds like a legal cop-out? Well let’s give Dr.Hayden Kho the presumption of innocence for now, after all even the “pervert of the highest kind” deserves this constitutional presumption.

What about the culprit(s) who allegedly stole the videos from the hard drive and eventually uploaded it in the Internet for public viewing? To be sure, our laws (i.e. The E-Commerce Law) are not sufficient enough when we talk about cyber technology let alone cyber or Internet crimes. The acts of uploading and downloading of videos through the Internet are technical terms or should I say too “teki” for our lawmakers. This to my mind is a proper subject for Legislative investigation in aid of legislation in its purest sense.

The road to success is under repair...

The other day as I went to check on my email, a friend left several offline messages in my YM account. Unfortunately he told me with much hesitation that the college dean rejected my job application as a Political Science Instructor in the University where he is currently teaching. I was surprised at first but just to satisfy my ego I asked what was the basis for my outright rejection. Initially he riposte that my job application for a teaching item was a bit late. Accordingly the college had already conducted the necessary teaching demos for this coming school year. But having this thinking of never accepting anything as a fact at face value, I decided to probe deeper. Finally my friend admitted that my rejection was due to my transcript of records as a political science graduate. For personal reasons I will dispense with the technical grounds cited by the school for my denial lest I will be accused of ingratiating myself too much. Nonetheless here is the catch. I'm a graduate of BASILAN STATE COLLEGE (BaSC for brevity)a learning institution which even you readers probably have not heard of ever since you were born. But the sad thing is, ask anyone about my beloved hometown and you will definitely get the same answers, “the land of Abu Sayaff” or maybe “the kidnapping capital of the Philippines.” I guess the name Basilan alone is sufficient ground for discrimination in our own country, what more if you are a graduate of BASILAN STATE COLLEGE? Frankly speaking, it would be a prima facie evidence of incompetence and mediocrity for employment in the academe.

Taking up my Bachelors degree at the BaSC was a personal choice and a challenge. My mom gave me the option to study in one of the prestigious Universities in our region on the condition that I will be taking up education as my undergraduate course. In fact my older brother finished his AB degree and law studies at Silliman University while my other sibling finished her degree at UP Dilliman. But given my inclination or should I say my fetish to learn about the rudiments of a government, I took the plunge and decided to pursue my degree at the BaSC. Later after graduation, I pursued my law studies here in Manila and again I was initially discriminated by my classmates whether graduates of prestigious schools and even from the not so reputable schools located in the Metro. The discrimination however ended when no one read the famous case of Roe v. Wade during one of our class recitations, and it so happen that said case was discussed to us back in my college days. So I was called to recite the case and the rest of course is history.

My alma mater taught me so many things in life, lessons which you cannot learn within the four corners of the classroom. I was a late bloomer so to speak in the esoteric of academics. It was during my stay at the BaSC that I came to realize my potential as a student and as a person determined to shape his destiny through education. It was also in that institution where I discovered my passion for the law and politics after joining the debating team and winning the best debater award. These were all small academic achievements but to me these were big ones. Reaping them has to be one of the major turning points of my life. My humble achievements in law school would not have been possible without these preparations. For this. I'm deeply indebted to my alma mater.

Like any other educational institutions in remote areas my school is bereft of the usual well-respected professors and luminaries in the realm of political science. What we have back then were mostly professors and part-time instructors who graduated in the same institution for obvious reasons. Due to lack of funding from the government, our school library had no sufficient updated books and reading materials let alone cyber technology to feed our mediocre minds with adequate knowledge. We were always in a state of educational poverty. But despite of this situation, I never considered this a s a setback to achieve my goals. I managed to buy some books mostly concentrated on political literature and law. I also learned to use the internet to download reading materials which may be utilized for classrooms discussions.

I do not wish to diminish the reputation of my school in any way, but this is a sad reality that we Filipinos must be concerned. Our educational system has been consistently pushed to the sidelines by the government. The prestigious educational institutions which offer the best kind of education are concentrated mostly in the urban areas. Obviously only the rich and the brightest are the only ones qualified to avail to this kind of education. If you are below mediocrity and a denizen of a place known for lawless elements, better settle for a lesser kind of education that the government has to offer. Your philosophy in life must be “learn to be contented with what you have.” This however is not the end of it, after graduating from college you will again experience a more excruciating ordeal in applying for jobs like what happened to me just recently. But I still thank the Lord that somehow my parents supported my law studies here in Manila. But how about my fellow Basilenos? I can only surmise that the only option left for them is to either resort to hard manual toil to earn a decent living or join the ASG to earn pesos more than what their diploma and degree could in reality give them. I myself cannot blame them from this misfortune. By joining the ranks of this lawless group, they could proudly say to themselves, “Hey, my degree makes me way qualified for this job.” At least, at that point, they felt superior- a word that they were deprived of in terms of education, opportunity and chance. Whether we like it or not, it becomes a vicious cycle. And only a few takes to counter the waves. I am proud to say I am one of them.

Unfortunately, while I take on the challenge to counter the waves of hopelessness, society has once again frustrated me. I only wish for a chance to prove my abilities, capabilities and worth,. Perhaps a single job interview to hear my side of the story won't take too much of their precious time. I am still hoping however that the discrimination stigma has not yet overwhelmingly grappled society. I believe that my message could traverse academic membership. I do not wish for empathy. I only hail for equal opportunities from the academic community, society and the government.

I have to admit that with this recent frustration, I am no way in my best element right now. When everything has been stripped away from you (love, self-respect and dignity), somehow you get emotional.I do not deny being in that state right now, I am however hoping that like my feeble emotions, this discrimination too shall pass.

Postscript: The other day I was strolling down the streets of Manila when I noticed a college student wearing a shirt which says “The road to success is under repair.” Suddenly, I felt heavy fist blows. What if my particular road to success is beyond ordinary repair? What if no amount of extraordinary repair can restore my road? I hope this writing can make a small difference so that I can soon update you that the road to my success is slowly undergoing repair.