Saturday, October 13, 2007

More on Bio-terrorism, Charter-Change, Beliefs

Rewrites of Jottings: More on Bio-terrorism, Charter-Change, Beliefs
Mindanao Post 21 January 2004
There might be some good after all from the bio-terror hysteria evoked by Jemaah Islamiyah. We can make preparations to head off attacks on our food supply, agroterror attacks that require less sophistication and technical know-how, much easier for the terrorist to carry out. The rapid spread of foot-and-mouth disease presently existing sporadically, anticrop agents that can be spread by the wind, and large chicken farms which could be devastated by the exotic Newcastle disease or avian flu are some of the scenarios to guard against.
The recent attempt to import chicken eggs from China, exposed by DA Secretary Luis Lorenzo as technical smuggling (import papers declared the item as carrots) may not be a terrorist act, but the method could be one way a terrorist would carry out dispersion of the bird flu. This animal disease devastated Hong Kong’s poultry industry, which involved the destruction of millions of chickens to control the epidemic. The Avian flu is being studied to see if cases of the disease that afflicted humans can become a human epidemic.
Constitutional change: Are we ready for it? My answer to the rhetorical question, by inference, is no, we are not.
The conditions obtaining in the nation paints a picture of turmoil, chaos, and instability. The nation is in tumultuous flux, needing only an unknown factor to shatter and disintegrate the remaining bonds and cohesiveness of society. The Basic Law provides that bond, that cohesion, that stability. It is the bedrock of stability. The business community says that one reason keeping investors away is a perceived image of instability prevailing in the country. Tinkering with the Constitution at this time would reinforce the perception.
Speaking of tumult and flux in our community, the latest event that sent a shudder to civil society (not the self-proclaimed group that calls themselves by that name) are the demonstrations in support of Chief Justice Davide headed by IBP president Anselmo Cadiz. He said the IBP and the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), the Philippine Judges Association (PJA) and the Philippine Confederation of Court Employees Association would wear black armbands, hold prayer rallies and noise barrages.
Wearing armbands and holding prayer rallies could be considered within the realm of civilized behavior. But isn’t noise barrages the sole prerogative of the dregs of society? Isn’t decorum and dignity taught in law schools? Must communications and dialogue outside the courtroom be confrontational, forgetting for the sake of civility that the judicial process is adversarial? Is affability extinct in our society?
A curious sideshow of the demonstrations was the anti-Davide faction composed of the rank and file employees of lower courts who staged their own rally. They claim the JDF goodies did not trickle down to them. The Judicial Development Fund (JDF) created by PD 1949 issued by President Marcos is funded from a percentage of court fees.
Moral: share the spoils; even a pittance will mollify the envious; and to the ordinary citizen, keep your nose clean and avoid litigation as court fees may be hiked to replenish the JDF.
Davide supporters allege that disbursement decisions were made en banc or with concurrence of several Justices, not exclusive decisions of the Chief Justice. This implicates the entire body of the Supreme Court, whose final judgment is not appealable. Former chief justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, who headed the 1986 commission that drafted the Constitution, said any doubts on the issue should be deferred to the Supreme Court "which under the Constitution is ordained to be the final interpreter of the Constitution’s provisions and intent." This brings to mind the anecdotal fable where an innocent man was condemned to suffer punishment by the King (the supreme magistrate whose judgment is not appealable) who heard the case in a sleepy state. The man respectfully protested and said ”I appeal from the King asleep to the King awake.” But the current impeachment brouhaha is not in the least a joking matter.

In the U.S., Fox News, of "Fair and Balanced" fame, has released the results of a survey just completed, revealing that 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles. Filipinos, too, believe in beliefs.
They believe in the supernatural — religion, ghosts, miracles, prayer and divine intervention. And they believe in maxims, one such maxim being put into widespread practice: United we stand, divided we fall. So why then do we often hear of the divisiveness of Pinoys? The number of associations, clubs and unions in this country is astounding and a major cause of the diversity of viewpoints about any issue, a diversity that usually ends up in bickering and fractiousness. And this in turn leads to dire warnings of undesirable forebodings and self-fulfilling prophecies (military adventurism, constitutional crisis, economic collapse.)
A columnist sardonically wrote in relation to the impeachment of Chief Justice Davide, “Why don’t we just close down the Philippines? Declare bankruptcy, hang the "Closed for Business" sign on our borders, and start shipping out of here.” Apparently, the writer has not perceived the possibility that the process might already be in progress, the exodus having started with the overseas Filipino workers. Another indicator is the wish of one-fifth of Filipinos expressed in a survey to emigrate and work abroad. It merely needs enough desperation and determination to goad the wish into action. Many of the émigrés will take up permanent residence abroad (illustrated by the lukewarm response to the OFW voting rights), and finally find means for their family to join them — the satire turned into self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bertrand Russell said: "As long as people believe in absurdities then they will continue to commit atrocities."

Utopia Imagine a world in which there are no stories of murder in newspapers, everyone is so omniscient that no house ever catches fire, no husband deserts his wife, no pastor elopes with his choir girl, no king abdicates his throne for love, no man changes his mind, and everyone proceeds to carry out with logical precision a career that he mapped out for himself at the age of ten ─ good-by to this human world! All the excitement and uncertainty of life would be gone. There would be no literature because there would be no sin, no misbehavior, no human weakness, no upsetting passion, no prejudices, no irregularities and, worst of all, no surprises. ─ Lin Yutang

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