Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Noynoy's Taliban

When Cory Aquino created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), it seemed everyone lauded the move to seize all the supposedly "ill gotten" wealth of the Marcoses and return it to the people. 

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) is responsible for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connection or relationship.
- Department of Budget and Management
More than 20 years after its creation, the success of the PCGG in fulfilling its mandate seems to be plagued with a fair amount of doubt. 

To be sure, when the PCGG was created, there were those who scoffed at the idea that the PCGG could actually fulfill its mandate.  Those who were very well aware of how most disputes over the ownership of property had commented that the PCGG would be tied up with legal cases for decades and by then, the assets it was supposed to have recovered would have been greatly diminished in value or eaten up by the cost of litigation. Those who criticized the PCGG back then said that it was bound to fail to accomplish the more important part of its mandate, which was to return the ill gotten wealth supposedly stolen by the Marcoses back to the government's coffers within Cory Aquino's term as President.

Of course, back then, these people were either ignored or in some cases, eventually silenced - probably cowed by being branded as a Marcos loyalist, therefore a target for persecution.

In my mind, I tend to look at Cory Aquino's creation of the PCGG not really as a means of recovering Marcos' hidden wealth but as a way to economically cripple the Marcoses and their supporters.  Viewed this way, one could say that the PCGG had served its purpose and nothing more needed to be done.

One very telling indication that Noynoy Aquino will take on a hidden wealth recovery crusade was what he said during an interview after he declared his intention to seek the Presidency.
Justice. We talk about the hidden wealth of the Marcoses, with all due apologies to the innocent. It has been 23 years and there is still no closure to all of this. I don’t think justice is swift in this country, and as they say, justice delayed is justice denied.
This time around, if and when Noynoy Aquino becomes President, we can expect his government not to go after just the Marcoses but the Arroyos and their supporters.  As in Cory Aquino's time, this will be hyped up as a quest for justice and a means of getting back ill-gotten wealth so that it can serve the people, but in the end, it will be encumbered by the same problems that the PCGG faced during Cory Aquino's regime and perhaps fail in the same way.

However, the circumstances right now are vastly different from the circumstances during Cory's time and Noynoy may find himself having to resort to "dictatorial means" to speed up the delivery of "justice".

I am not at all fairly certain about how Noynoy Aquino will deal with opposition to whatever he is going to do to apply "political will" in order to deliver "swift justice".  However, just basing it on how Noynoy's propagandists and allies respond to criticisms of their candidate, I think the general approach would be to attack the people putting forward contradictory views and branding them as 'paid hacks' of the former administration - just like what Cory Aquino's minions did to those who opposed her regimes actions, branding them as Marcos loyalists and allies of the deposed corrupt regime.

The article by Jose Montelibano in Inquirer dot Net may be a sign of things to come and certainly, it's only a foretaste.

One wonders if Noynoy Aquino, in order to protect himself from critical members of the online community, will use the powers of the NTC to regulate or in effect, censor content on the internet.

If you haven't noticed it yet, there are a lot of bloggers out there who are becoming openly critical about Noynoy Aquino and his campaign is hurting so much from this negative blogstorm that he has employed Google Ad buys to drive down all dissenting, negative content in Google search results.

A more powerful means of regulating the internet is already present in an NTC circular that requires content creators to register with the NTC.  I can't seem to access the copy of that particular circular right now, however, here is a blog entry from Zaldy Dalisay written in January 2009 that describes it.
According to this document (I don’t know who the hell created this, he should be the first to pay when it’s implemented..lol) – http://portal.ntc.gov.ph:9081/wps/_mc/MC2009/electronic_games.html, this will be the fees:
a. Filing Fee : PhP 300.00
b. Annual Registration Fee: 6,000.00
c. Surcharge for late : 50% of the annual registration fee if application filing of application is filed within six (6) months from date of expiry for renewal 100% if filed after six (6) months from date of expiry

In that BS document, you’ll come up with a broad explanation of a “content developer” that includes blogging, commenting, posting pictures, uploading ringtones, and the likes, wherein the person doing it have to secure a license first. Imagine millions of Filipino youtube users, millions of friendster, myspace and facebook members lining up in the NTC office trying to secure a permit, that’s horrible and very unacceptable….lol
The ability to create content on the internet at will is a valuable tool in a democracy.  But requiring people to get a license first before one could join social networking sites like Facebook or start up a blog could effectively stifle discussions on the internet, at the very least. 

I don't know if the circular has been revised to take out any ambiguity in its application, but it could be just as easily revised in order to come up with a more draconian policy which may include being locked out of your blog, twitter account, or Facebook account until you supply a license number from the NTC.

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