The uncertainties surrounding COVID-19

Just when everyone thought Europe had defeated the coronavirus, today — nine months after it first arrived in the continent — it is making a comeback as a dreaded second wave. According to a CNN report, the World Health Organization has warned that Europe’s daily death toll from the disease could rise five times higher […]

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Why Barrett’s hearings are keenly watched

The rushed, marathon hearings in the United States (US) Senate to confirm the nomination made by US President Donald Trump of US Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, as the ninth justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus) is keenly watched in the Philippines and elsewhere. By way of background, […]

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The sociology of opinion surveys

As a sociologist, I am sometimes asked what I think of the approval ratings politicians and government officials get in opinion surveys. The interest, typically, is in the plausible reasons for the “very high” or “very low” ratings that are reported (particularly when these appear to defy expectations), and not so much on the conditions […]

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Encouraging reactions from SC, DOJ, and bar

Encouraging were the reactions to my last two columns on prosecutors and lawyers. On Oct. 4, I humbly proposed guidelines on how prosecutors could be deterred from “filing frivolous, reckless, malevolent, and politically-motivated charges.” Earlier, on Sept. 27, I wrote that the Supreme Court’s short shrift of facially baseless petitions would “differentiate shysters… from trustworthy […]

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The US presidency, hubris, and the coronavirus

Having once moderated a presidential debate myself, I was curious to watch the debates between US President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden. I expected that Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first debate, would not have an easy time controlling Trump. I wanted to see how he would handle a 90-minute verbal […]

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Probable cause, De Lima, GMA, and Guevarra

To file a criminal case in court, all that the prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) need is to determine “probable cause,” which — according to jurisprudence — is “… a state of facts in the mind of the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary caution to believe, or entertain an honest […]

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‘Coordinated inauthentic behavior’

Last Sept. 22, the head of Facebook’s Security Policy — Nathaniel Gleicher — announced that, following a thorough investigation, Facebook took down two separate networks for violating FB’s policy on “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” One of them is based in the Philippines, and the other in Fujian, China. The Filipino network, consisting of 57 FB accounts, […]

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Dismissed on short shrift

Brickbats, lots of them, were hurled when the Supreme Court dismissed outright the petition for mandamus in Taguiwalo v. Duque (Sept. 1, 2020) seeking to compel the government to conduct mass testing to detect COVID-19. Without asking for comment from the respondents, the Court en banc, voting 13-1-1, summarily ruled that “courts have no authority […]

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Marcos and Duterte

This coming week, we recall Marcos’ declaration of martial law 48 years ago, an event that significantly altered the course of Philippine politics. It may seem pointless to warn the younger generation of the virus of authoritarianism—since it is already upon us, albeit without a formal announcement of its arrival. But, it will always be […]

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Searches at police checkpoints

How should police and military officers conduct, and how should the people regard, the checkpoints that are set up (especially during the current pandemic) to safeguard the security, safety, and health of citizens? The Supreme Court in People v. Sapla (Aug. 19, 2020, ably penned by Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa)—featured in this space last […]

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Revving up government

Second of 3 parts LAST week I advanced two interlinked notions. One, the government’s dubious track record in running profit-making corporations dampens enthusiasm for Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s proposal to put up Tienda Malasakit centers. These centers are supposedly intended to take the place of middlemen whose business operations create conditions that deprive poor […]

Modernity and its enemies

In those crucial days in mid-December last year — when the first cases of the novel coronavirus began appearing in Wuhan, China — the protocol followed by the hospital authorities required them to immediately report the matter to the local Communist Party bureau while keeping the information in the strictest confidence. Dr. Li Wenliang, one […]

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SC’s resolute stand on warrantless arrests

I salute the Supreme Court for its resolute stand in favor of the constitutional “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects…” and for striking down with finality the police practice of conducting warrantless arrests and seizures on the basis solely of unverified “tips” from anonymous sources. The trial […]

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On breaking down 4.5 minutes of Duterte-speak, Ingming Aberia, on August 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm

I RECEIVED unflattering feedback (always seems to happen whenever I write something that disagrees with, or is critical of, what government officials say or do) in the comments section of my column last week, which took an excerpt of President Rodrigo Duterte’s address about war on drugs on Monday evening, Aug. 17, 2020. In that,…

Sorting the good news from the sad, racosta, on August 29, 2020 at 9:20 pm

Amid the sad news dimming our horizon — like the worrying rise in the ABSOLUTE NUMBER of coronavirus infections, the shocking plunder of PhilHealth funds, the deadly Jolo blasts, and the President’s revelation of his doctors’ advice that his Barrett’s esophagus may worsen to Stage One cancer—I welcome some shiny good news, among them: First,…