WHAT IS LOVE?

what is love
if it be just a trickle
to the drain?

 

 

what is love
when the rain lasts longer
than what love claims?

 

 

is it right to invoke love’s name,
if it be as constant
as the zephyr’s breath?

 

 

love is lost to the youth i say,

who does not know

how to cherish it

day by day.

 

 

love is like a seed
to be nurtured and to be nourished
by the blood from
a heart chaste and unsullied
by burdens of worldly woes.

 

 

love is not flitting
as a flowers bloom;
love does not wither
due to time alone.

 

 

love is not passion,
but love holds passions’ sway. 

 

 

love does not rise
from torrid kisses;
not from drunken urges,
nor from wanton phrases. 

  for in love
  man is made loftier than
  the eagles with their soaring wings

 

  true love cleanses a man
  from the venality of the world
  and purifies the corrupted flesh.

 

 

– Petros Absalon Bojo

WHAT’S THE FUSS? THE CYBERCRIME PREVENTION ACT IS NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

 

 

It has been almost a month since the president signed RA 10175 (Cyber crime Prevention Act of 2012) into law and despite the sweet temptation to join in the fun and react to all the brouhaha about the alleged unconstitutionality and despotic nature of the law in facebook, i have held all opinions on the matter until I have fully read the whole law – partly in fear that it may fall within the all-encompassing criminal provisions of the law, which most of the facebook posts seem to suggest. Now that all my baseless fears of this controversial law have been erased, here is my conclusion:

 

THE LAW IS NOT AT ALL OPPRESSIVE. Neither does it create any new crime. The only ‘fault’ of the law, if we are to call it that, is that it increases the penalties already prescribed by existing penal statutes. Of course, we are all aware that the determination of the degree of imposable penalties lies well within the power and authority of the legislature, and is therefore unquestionable unless unduly oppressive. I think everyone would agree that in RA 10175, the penalties are not in any way ‘inhuman,’ for lack of a better term, so it is not the heart of the issue. Heck, from this vantage point, i  don’t see any constitutional issue at all. Or i might just need to get myself a pair of glasses. To explain my stand on this, let me react to some of the main issues raised by some netizens:

 

1. LIBEL DOES NOT BECOME MALUM PROHIBITUM

 

 

Article 4(c)(4) which provides for libel does not make the crime easier to commit. In fact, it refers to the provision of the Revised Penal Code which defines Libel. and Article 353 of the RPC defines Libel as a “public and MALICIOUS imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.” The law is very clear on the element of Malice in libel cases. Hence, even if it is covered by a special law, intent is still an element of Libel under RA 10175. The fact that the penalty is increased doesn’t seem to me to be something that we, law-abiding citizens, should be unhappy about.

 

2. AIRING FAIR OPINIONS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT LIBEL

 

 

Unlike what many would want us to believe, mere posting of grievances or complaints against the government or against public officials does not constitute libel. In the case of Borjal vs. Court of Appeals [G.R. No. 126466, January 14, 1999], the Supreme Court said:

“To reiterate, fair commentaries on matters of public interest are privileged and constitute a valid defense in an action for libel or slander.  The doctrine of fair comment means that while in general every discreditable imputation publicly made is deemed false, because every man is presumed innocent until his guilt is judicially proved, and every false imputation is deemed malicious, nevertheless, when the discreditable imputation is directed against a public person in his public capacity, it is not necessarily actionable.  In order that such discreditable imputation to a public official may be actionable, it must either be a false allegation of fact or a comment based on a false supposition.  If the comment is an expression of opinion, based on established facts, then it is immaterial that the opinion happens to be mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be inferred from the facts.”

 

3. LIKING THE STATUS OF OTHER PERSONS WILL NEVER CONSTITUTE ‘ABETTING THE COMMISSION OF LIBEL’

 

The idea that liking a status will constitute abetting libel is the most absurd by far, but it may be worth  a sentence or two. Merriam-Webster provides that to ‘abet’ is “to assist or support in the achievement of a purpose” or to “actively encourage a plan or activity.” In the act of liking or reposting the status or post of another, provided that you identify him or her for her as the author, I cannot see anything which will constitute an act of abetting since one cannot support the commission of something which has already been done.

 

 

3. BLOCKING OF ACCESS TO COMPUTER DATA IS NOT OPPRESSIVE BECAUSE IT HAS LIMITS

 

 Section 19 of RA 10175 does not constitute an absolute and whim-driven sword which the DOJ can wield upon its delight. The provision clearly provides that the restriction or blocking of access to cyber data may only be done upon finding of prima facie evidence of the commission of a crime. “Prima facie” has been defined by the Supreme Court in the case of Wa-acon vs. People [G.R. No. 164575, December 6, 2006] in this way:

Prima facie evidence is defined as:

Evidence good and sufficient on its face. Such evidence as, in the judgment of the law, is sufficient to establish a given fact, or the group or chain of facts constituting the party’s claim or defense, and which if not rebutted or contradicted, will remain sufficient. Evidence which, if unexplained or uncontradicted, is sufficient to sustain a judgment in favor of the issue it supports, but which may be contradicted by other evidence.

The DOJ may therefore block access only when there is prima facie evidence, not even probable cause which is a lower standard, that a crime was committed. It is to be noted that under the law, the authorities have the power to confiscate any object which may constitute evidence of a crime. The seizure may be done through a search warrant or incidental to a lawful arrest. In the case of PDEA vs. Brodett [G.R. No. 196390, September 28, 2011], the Supreme Court held:

According to the Rules of Court, personal property may be seized in connection with a criminal offense either by authority of a search warrant or as the product of a search incidental to a lawful arrest. If the search is by virtue of a search warrant, the personal property that may be seized may be that which is the subject of the offense; or that which has been stolen or embezzled and other proceeds, or fruits of the offense; orthat which has been used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense. If the search is an incident of a lawful arrest, seizure may be made of dangerous weapons or anything that may have been used or may constitute proof in the commission of an offense.Should there be no ensuing criminal prosecution in which the personal property seized is used as evidence, its return to the person from whom it was taken, or to the person who is entitled to its possession is but a matter of course, except if it is contraband or illegal per se. A proper court may order the return of property held solely as evidence should the Government be unreasonably delayed in bringing a criminal prosecution. The order for the disposition of such property can be made only when the case is finally terminated.

 Even without Section 19 therefore, the state is still authorized to seize evidence and may justify the restriction of access to such evidence which is in plain view of the whole cyber world. Section 19 merely creates a clear and unequivocal pronouncement of this power and vests the same upon the DOJ.

 

4. THE DEFINITION OF CYBERSEX IS NOT TOO NARROW

 

Secion 4(c)(1) defines cybersex as “the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.” I do not see anything wrong with this definition. It only prohibits those acts of exhibiting sexual organs and sexual activity which are done for favor or consideration. Surely, the Supreme Court, despite its infamy for whimsical judgments, will not go to the extent of interpreting the terms “for favor or consideration” to include acts done by two consenting persons who have no pre-existing economic agreements in relation to such act, whatsoever. And if the Supreme Court, by any stroke of chance, steps on the line, then what makes this different from any other law which the Supreme Court may try to misinterpret? At the end of the day, we still have to maintain some sense of trust on our government no matter how difficult it may be. Otherwise, we might as well choose mob rule over democracy.

 

I don’t see so much of a wrong in RA 10175, since it merely tries to enforce responsibility upon all users of the cyberspace, but i respect those who question  the wisdom of the law for whatever viable reason. We may disagree on a lot of issues, and that is the essence of a free system of government, but we will certainly have to admit that many of our laws violate our constitution, and a lot more violate wisdom. The former, we have all the right to bring to court, while the latter, under which the ‘Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012’ might arguably fall, we will unfortunately have to deal with until the congress itself realizes and reverses its own mistakes in judgment, if it ever will. Until then -and by then i mean probably never- we still have the 2013 elections to pick new, hopefully better representatives.

________________________________________________________________

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A Jeepney Ride Itch

A couple of weeks ago I was riding a jeepney on my way home from school, it was already around ten in the evening. The guy who was sitting in front of me kept smiling at my direction. It felt weird. I thought he was flirting at me.

 

Several minutes later another passenger boarded the jeep and sat beside me, he smiled at that guy too. So with the next passenger to board, he smiled at that guy too. And the next. And the next.

That caused several alarm bells ringing.

Was this guy insane?!

Why does he keep on smiling!!?

Is he on drugs and as high in the sky as a bird on steroids?!

Why does he keep on smiling!!?

Is he planning to rob the jeep????

WHY . . . DOES . . .  HE . . . KEEP . . . ON . . . FUCKING . . . SMILING!?

 

 

I was seriously starting to freak out. Sweat was already pouring in every orifice that it could discharge from. My armpits were like a marsh of wetness. Even my crotch started to sweat!

A couple more passengers boarded the jeep. Then all of a sudden, and with his ridiculously scary grin still on, his hand reached deep inside the bag on his lap!

This time I was not only sweating, I was shaking in fear. The only thing in my head that time was: “What’s inside the bag!? What’s inside the bag!? What’s inside the fucking bag!? Oh please Lord! Let it not be a gun!

 

It seemed that everything’s in slowmotion. I hardly heard anything. My eyes were rooted to the hand inside the bag.

The hand moved sluggishly slow. Irritatingly slow. Terrifyingly slow. Horror movie kind of slow, when the soon to be victim slowly reached out to the doorknob of the room where the scary noise came from.

His hand moved inch by slow moving inch, till I could only see his wrist.

He was definitely holding something.

I was no longer just freaked out. My fear meter was already way beyond the red. I was already deliriously feverish with fear.

His hands were completely out. I shut my eyes, fearing the worst.

 

This is it.

I waited for him to declare a holdup.

I waited.

And waited. . .

And waited some more. . .

My curiosity got the better of me. I could no longer take the suspense.

I slightly opened my eyes to sneak a peek. 

He is definitely holding something.

But it was not a gun.

It was a small bundle of paper – a bundle of pamphlets.

“Excuse me, sir, ma’am! Good Evening po! I am Christopher. We would just like to give some pamphlets about Jesus Christ our savior. We must have faith in him so that we will be saved” said the guy in heavy Filipino english, his grating smile still on, while distributing his pamphlets.

I was flabbergasted. I just gaped at him and my eyes just bulged.

I didn’t know I was holding my breath; I exhaled. Quick sharp successive breaths.

I did not know what to do. Should I be angry because of the needless trauma I just experience? Should I be thankful because he is not a gun totting robber?

Having nothing better to do and feeling totally drained I sat back and listened to what he has to say. I thought that I owe him at least that much for thinking badly of him.

He talked about the greatness of God for awhile, complete with all the bible quotations. Then, followed by a short sermon on the need to repent in our wrong doings and to seek salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, also complete with bible quotations.  And that we should do good for us to go to heaven, also complete with bible quotations, and so on, and so on, and so on. . . . all complete with bible quotations

After thanking us for our time and for listening, he got off the jeep.

Just like most people who got a free sermon from evangelists while riding a public transportation, I just let it pass through my ears at that time. I only got to thinking about what he said several days later.

“We should do good, to have heaven as our reward!” Those were his words or somewhere along those lines. My memory is as rusty as a . . . as aaah. . . (I can’t really find some poetic words to fit into it so let us just go for something like. . .) “as rusty as a rusty nail”, but those words kinda stuck to my head for some reason.

It stuck like a bad case of herpes. It rolled around my head for some time,wanting to get scratched. It itches for some attention. Wanting to be noticed, needing to be given some consideration.

So here I am scratching that itch.

WARNING:

If you haven’t detected it yet let me be of help in some way, from one man who hates reading about sticky and gooey “goodness and heaven and anything in between” to the other. This is not just a story about my jeepney ride; this is about me trying to scratch my itch, this is about me writing about goodness and heaven and anything in between.

So if you don’t want to spend some time reading about it, then feel free to stop right now. Don’t worry, I won’t feel bad about it; I hate reading about these kind of stuff too.


Some folks make it a point to do good to have heaven as a reward later.

But is doing good deeds with the express intention to seek out some form of compensation or payment afterwards really “doing good”? That is the itch I am trying to scratch: seeking to understand better what “doing good” really means.

I know that there are some folks out there who only do good deeds because of the prospect to have heaven as God’s payment for being good in this life. I know of a few who make it a point to let everyone know that they are doing “good deeds”; maybe they just want a lot of witnesses to hoist up to God on judgment day as proof that, indeed, they did “good deeds” in this life so it is their just right to have heaven as a reward in the afterlife (heavy sarcasm here).

I don’t really agree that much with this kind of perspective.

I don’t know about other people out there, but for me, after much introspection and consideration, I think it is a much better thing if we do good for the sake of good without expecting something in recompense. Having heaven as a reward later will just be the icing on top.

If you watched over a neighbor’s house while they were away, all the while expecting as well as receiving some payment for it; that is not goodness that is service rendered for a fee – that is business, a plain and simple commercial transaction.

If you give food and money to the needy all the while expecting for them to vote for you in the upcoming elections; that is not goodness, that is politics.

If you help out a friend in need provided that he also help you out later; that is not goodness that is service rendered for a condition – that is a contract between two parties.

If you are kind, considerate and loving to someone all the while with the intention to have a romantic liaison with her, or him; that is not goodness that is courtship or even lust if you are only after sex for the sake of sex.

If you are being respectful, kind and obedient to your parents just because they are paying for you tuition and providing you with food and shelter and all other perks; that is not goodness, you are just looking after your own comfortable fat ass.

So, for me, if you are just doing good to have heaven as a reward; that is not goodness that is just taking care of your selfishly lardy ass solely for your own personal wellbeing.

Goodness should be about doing good for the sake of good without expecting or seeking out any recompense both from those that you have served and helped in this life, and from God Himself. The prospect of having heaven in the afterlife should only be a pleasant surprise afterwards if it is granted to us and not as the reason for doing good.

If God opens the mighty doors of heaven to those who did good deeds only because they want to go to heaven, that sounds like God is bribing us to do good. Giving some form of incentive for doing what He wants, that is bribery in some way, and I don’t think God would do something like that.

However, if God opens the pearly gates to those who did good deeds for the sake of good without expecting or seeking out payment from God, now that is a real gift. A gift is not a reward; it is a gratuitous act, an act of liberality, an act of kindness mirroring that which you have done for others. A gift is truly a gift to the one who does not expect it. A gift is not a gift to someone who actively sought it out. Heaven is a gift. To seek out heaven is the same as seeking it out for personal gain – now, that does not sound so good, don’t you think?

I have said my piece.
I have scratched my itch.
Aaah, what bliss!