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With Due Respect

Power of social media

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The social media have come of age in our country. The awesome people-gathering power of Facebook and Twitter has been proven beyond doubt by the Million People March (MPM) last Aug. 26.

Different from Edsa PP. Significantly, the span, breadth and depth of MPM have been expanded by traditional media, especially the Inquirer and the major radio-television networks, enabling it to reach the masses who do not have the computers, tablets and smart phones to access social media directly.

At this point, it no longer matters how many exactly attended the rally. Whether it was one million, or 400,000 or only 50,000 does not matter anymore. What matters is that its message has penetrated and outraged all sectors of society via mass media.

Edsa People Power 1 and 2 were ignited by a common major convenor, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. Both events led to the instant ouster of our top leaders, President Ferdinand E. Marcos in PP1 and Joseph E. Estrada in PP2.

True, the Catholic Church (celebrating World Youth Day), Brother Mike Velarde and the Iglesia ni Cristo have convened larger congregations at Luneta but these were well-planned religious liturgies and spiritual awakenings. True also, electoral “miting de avance” and political campaigns have been propelled by bigger crowds.

In contrast, MPM was spontaneously called by an enraged populace to galvanize action against a bedeviling issue of governance, the pork barrel scam. It was not meant to oust a sitting President or to renew religious fervor or to propel candidacies. It had no big-name convenor, no institutional organizer, no platform speakers, no grandstanding orators, no pre-planned program, no busses to ferry in the “hakot,” no financiers to feed them, no celebrity singers to entertain them and no rabble rousers to taunt them.

Yet came the mammoth crowd. That knew what they were there for and vented their rage by simply being there. That sensed their common cause and common fervor. That recognized and promptly shooed away the pretenders and fellow travelers who surfaced with different agenda.

Gradual phaseout. Unlike PP1 and PP2, which ousted two sitting chief executives of the country after four days of continuous rallies at Edsa, MPM gathered only for a day and did not produce any immediate palpable result.

Nonetheless, I believe President Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other leaders heard our people’s cry. In fact, even before the rally began, President Aquino already announced the demise of the hated Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF.

True, the President did not abolish pork barrel completely; in fact, it will remain in the 2014 budget, with the safeguards installed by Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad. While pork barrel will not disappear overnight, in time I think it will. Given P-Noy’s reformist streak, I think pork barrel would eventually be abolished within the next three years. The people have spoken and P-Noy is not deaf.

Yes, the abolition will be gradual and will not happen overnight, unlike the ouster of Marcos and Estrada. MPM is destined to transform not just our leaders but the very culture and mores of our political and social life. And that cannot be rushed, lest it disembowels and destroys the very foundations of society that it seeks to strengthen and uphold.

New species of free expression. Social media are the newest species of the freedom of expression and are entitled to the same constitutional protection, thus “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.”

Free expression originated during the Middle Ages when people began speaking against their kings and emperors. Free speech was naturally followed by the right to peaceful assembly to redress grievances. When the printing press was invented, freedom of expression was expanded to include freedom of the press.

And when the Industrial Age dawned, labor’s right to strike and to picket also became modes of protected speech. Thereafter, radio, television and cinema came up and were likewise given constitutional mantle. During the last two decades, opinion polls and election surveys have become parts of free expression.

Indeed, as mankind pushes the frontiers of science in mass communications, so must the scope of free expression expand. Twitter, Facebook and other social media are the most recent technological expansion of the freedom of expression. Originally used for bonding with friends and relatives, they have become new tools of social transformation and reformation.

Now that our people have found these novel tools to effect change, they will, I am sure, continue to use them and to insist that the milestone begun on Aug. 26, 2013 be celebrated in the years to come. Government may as well adjust to the new vigilance of our citizenry. The earlier our officials recognize this reality the better for everyone.

What better way to demonstrate this recognition and adjustment than to be more transparent and accountable in the performance of public duty. And the best guarantee of transparency and accountability is the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill. Let’s abolish pork, let’s investigate and penalize the pork abusers and plunderers—and let’s make sure this mess will never happen again through a new FOI law guaranteeing greater public scrutiny of official responsibility.

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Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com


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  • josh_alexei

    Mr Panganiban, the Social Media can never replace the very comprehensive and very responsible Accountability Act which incorporated the Conflict of Interest rules, the Access to Information Act, Lobbying rules and guides, Contributions to Political parties and candidates, its limits and implementations and campaign expense rules and agencies to implement and enforce the rules. And also in the Act, is the Whistle Blower Protection act to encourage Government employees and public servants to blow the whistle on their fellow public servants and higher ups without the fear of Retributions. No social Media activism can replace them at all…the proof is in the pudding, our very own society, transparent. open, free and strong, and one of the least corrupt in the world.

  • Mang Teban

    Although I agree with Artemio V. Panganiban’s call for the passage of the Freedom of Information bill and the scrapping of pork barrel, I beg to disagree with his statements “Given P-Noy’s reformist streak” and “P-Noy is not deaf.”

    Far from truth that our currently sitting president is a reformist. Neither is there such a thing as a “streak” of reform in the past first half of his term. Most of all, in my view the president has been playing deaf.

    Points to consider to support my views:
    1.) Pork barrel culture worsened during his term from selective distribution by the former president, Gloria M. Arroyo, to fixing the annual giveaways to the lawmakers – 70 million per congressperson and 200 million per senator. Is this reform?
    2.) Negotiating via backdoor with Malaysia to act as broker for the long-drawn insurgency rebellion by two warring political armies, the MILF and the forgotten MNLF which we all know now was done without consultation with the Senate president and House speaker. We were suddenly surprised with a side trip by the president to Tokyo to meet Murad Ibrahim with a pasalubong of 5 (?) million pesos for the MILF’s pork. From a purely negotiated “peace talks” during the past administrations, P-Noy has decided to fast track ending the insurgency rebellion by giving MORE than what they asked for – huge tract of lands, a big share in revenues on what will become the sub-state status of the MILF, and autonomy which will get the LGUs wondering why the ARMM has become more powerful than them.
    3.) Ignoring a 50-year old Sabah claim that not only the Kiram family has a stake but the entire Philippine’s patrimony and sovereignty over the island that the Brits treacherously annexed to the planned confederation of Malaya before Malaysia got a windfall of grabbing Sabah from us. P-Noy feigned non-knowledge of formal letter of request from Sultan Kiram that compelled DFA Sec. Alberto del Rosario to own to his “oversight” not to embarrass his boss from the bureaucratic foul-up.
    4.) Reversing himself to place the blame to the Philippine Coast Guard on the misfortune of the captain of the Taiwanese fishing vessel encroaching on Philippine national territorial waters. Was this to appease Taiwan to lift the ban of our OFWs? If it was, that was still a bad call showing his lack of foresight that the impact of low morale on the entire national security forces – army, air force and navy where the
    PCG is under.

    The above says it all. There are more to come that is really going to be difficult for the next president to untangle because the currently sitting president has only been perceived to have an impression of “not being corrupt”. But, is a “corruption-free” president a reformist? I don’t think so.

  • josh_alexei

    And again Mr. Panganiban, without Institutionalizing the so-called reforms but just acting on them in an ad-hoc or the case to case basis will just give you a temporary relief like the loperamide and it will come back as soon as you are at it again. Like an example I give you, tomorrow we might have the First Socialist Government in our Country, the New Democrats Party which is now in Official Opposition status and that would not even offset the foundation of the nation as it was already institutionalized as it has for hundred of years as the Government changes from one Party to the other. the Entry of a new Party could only Enhance its Institution as experience had shown, the entry of Tommy Douglas Socialist Party to lead the Province of Saskatchewan that Brought us the Medicare, the unemployment insurance and the very ideal land reforms in the history of the North America, the emancipation of the farmers of Saskatchewan which spread all over the Dominion. They are now part and parcel of our Fundamental Rights.

  • Tagabukid2

    PorkNoy a reformist? Must be kidding! He is more a copycat TRAPO X Jumbo Sized!

    He is a trapo thru and thru. He is a trapo good in practicing transactional politics just like any other Aquino politician that we had.

    Master of double talk. Abolish – Hide, Tuwid – Tuwad, NO SPECIAL TREATMENT – VIP TREATMENT, and on and on and on…!

    Reformist or Copy cat X Jumbo Sized!?

    – Reformed the PDAF to its highest level! From 9 billion a year to 25 billion a year!!! Nawala ba ang corruption? Mas dumami ang nangurakot at naging jumbo size pa nga ang nanakaw.

    – CCT from 9 billion to now proposed 65 billions. Trully jumbo sized! Nawala ba ang mahihirap? Sabi ng SWS self proclaimed poverty increased in the last year pa nga daw. Wait till someone do an honest to goodness audit assessment of this humongous CCT. So far, even COA do not want to touch it for some unknown reason.

    People are now holding him to his announcement that PDAF is now abolished. Let us see his next move if he will really do that or just making another trashy talk that he can not walk!

  • Tagumpay

    WHA? no WAY!!!
    THE PORK IS ABOLISHED RIGHT NOW!!! not tomorrow, not next week, RIGHT NOW!!!
    and we DO NOT WANT congress, the corrupt institution set up by colonial america which is the venue for legalizing robbery of OUR MONEY, to stay as it is now..

    we WANT CONGRESS to be A TRUE SECTORAL REPRESENTION OF FILIPINO SOCIETY, not the trapo kawatan institution as it is now.

    THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, the employees have to FOLLOW, OR ELSE they will have to go the hard way, you understand? we are not conservative idiots

  • Tagumpay

    NO MORE PORK
    PAS THE FOI BILL

    DEADLINE: SEPT. 10 – watch!



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