Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Last Entry

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

This is my last entry in this blog.

Please visit my new blog site at www.ruffybiazon.ph .

I consolidated all my blogs in one place for easier maintenance.

However, I will leave this blog intact with my previous entries.

Thank you very much!

Ruffy Biazon

What is Legal May Not Necessarily Be Correct

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

The public has been treated to a revelation of the realities of the country’s drug problem. The congressional hearings on the Brodett-Joseph-Tecson drugs case has shown us the challenges faced by the agencies involved in the fight against dangerous drugs as well as the defects and shortcomings of the system.

One glaring and bitter lesson from these hearings is that what is legal may not necessarily be correct. Or, as others have said, what is legal may not necessarily be moral.

For instance, it was perfectly legal for the prosecutor not to ask clarificatory questions during his evaluation of the case. In deciding to dismiss the case of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against the suspected drug pushers, Prosecutor John R. Resado only relied on the affidavits which were submitted to him by both sides. In defending his action (or inaction), Prosecutor John R. Resado said that both parties had the opportunity to file counter-affidavits which would have enabled the PDEA to explain their side.

While the prosecutor is correct in saying that (that’s what the law provides), it must be noted that it is the prosecutor who will make a decision on the case, therefore, it is he who is in the best position to determine which items need clarificatory questions. According to the prosecutor, the law does not require him to ask clarificatory questions. It was perfectly legal for him not to ask questions.

But was he correct in not asking questions?

For humans who have been blessed with the capacity to think, it is natural and even instinctive to ask questions. An inquisitive mind is one of the qualities which distinguish us from apes and robots. If something is not clear to you, questions automatically pop up in your mind.

But no, the prosecutor did not find it necessary to ask clarificatory questions before making his decision. He said the affidavits submitted were sufficient. In comparison, bills filed in Congress (which are products of extensive research and study) still get grilled with numerous clarificatory questions, because legislators want to make sure that before they make decisions, they have considered it with due diligence.

While the prosecutor says he found it unnecessary to ask clarificatory questions, his own resolution, which he supposedly wrote himself, posed several queries which were apparently playing around in his mind. These points he raised had the effect of making the case of the PDEA weak in the eyes of the reader of the resolution.

But while he had those questions in his mind, he never bothered to ask those questions directly to the PDEA in order to give them the chance to answer them.

In one example of the several questions posed by the prosecutor in his resolution but not in clarificatory questions, the prosecutor cast doubt on the buy-bust operation of the PDEA by citing as incredible the information that only one agent was involved in the buy-bust.

But the PDEA explained in the congressional hearing that yes, there was only one agent conducting the actual deal with the suspect but there was an arresting team and a back-up team within the vicinity of the operation ready to take action when appropriate and necessary. If the prosecutor had asked clarificatory questions, they could have explained that to him. But as he proudly he told the congressional committee, he did not see the need to ask.

His decision not to ask questions, though legal, seems to have jeopardized the case against the suspected drug traffickers. In the larger picture, it weakened the government’s war against dangerous drugs. A case of something legal that is not necessarily correct.

Another example of a legal but incorrect act is the use of a Department of Justice letterhead by the counsel of the suspects to make a Release Order which he tried to have the DOJ Secretary sign outside the official process of the department.

Up to this time, Atty. Felisberto Verano insists that there was nothing illegal in his act of making a release order on a DOJ letterhead since the document was not signed by Secretary Gonzales. He maintains that since it was not signed, it remains to be a mere scrap of paper.

While it may not be illegal for him to use the letterhead, it is definitely not correct. He might escape the ethical case filed against him, but it does not change the fact that it is not right for someone not organic to the DOJ to type a letter on it for the purpose of effecting an official act of an officer of the agency. While he may have been performing his legal duty as counsel of the accused, he was wrong in pre-empting the Secretary of Justice by preparing the order especially because he is not even an employee of the DOJ.

The Secretary of Justice has his staff to do the work for him, staff who are accountable and responsible for the results of the process within their office.

This has even led me to propose a law specifically prohibiting unauthorized use of a government office’s letterhead. The proposal merited an amused comment from a radio announcer, who seemed to think that it was a petty proposal. Well, it may appear petty, but as we have seen, it has profound effects on the whole government system.

We have seen many times in the past lawyers who argue in favor of a position which they say is legal. Many times they have prevailed in the arguments because indeed, legality is on their side. But many times also, we have seen that what is legal may not necessarily be correct. Well, such is a lesson that legislators, myself included, must keep in mind while crafting the laws that will ultimately rule over our lives.

Character and Abuse of Power

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 29, 2008 by Ruffy Biazon

I read a most interesting blog about an incident that happened in a golf club a day after Christmas. It turned out to be not just interesting, but one that will most definitely cause outrage against those in power. To read it, go to this blog.

It’s been said that if you want to know the true character of a person, give him power. I couldn’t agree more.

I am a politician, granted by the Constitution and the people who voted for me a mandate to serve and the opportunity to have power. As a government official, it is a power that enables me to make things happen and influence to make government personnel to act. I acknowledge that this power, given to persons who easily give in to the temptation of abusing this privilege, may be wielded not as intended but in a manner that is abhorred.

To some, righteous wielding of power comes naturally because of how they were brought up. Some exert a conscious effort not to abuse it, while others are overwhelmed by it, easily giving in to the whispers of the devil, pretty much like Anakin Skywalker who walked over to the Dark Side upon acquiring the powers of a Jedi.

If there is a subject that should be included in a Public Administration or any governance course, it should be about Character. Many have spoken about Character, but apparently, not all those who wield power have read or heard about those words of wisdom. Take for example, the following:

“Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids” – Aristotle

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

From more contemporary and pop culture source (but one of my favorite quotes):

“The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.” – Dear Abby (Advice Columnist)

There is a joke that I often use in my public speaking. It starts out with me thanking those who welcomed me by shaking my hands. Then for the punchline, I give the reason for my appreciation by saying this, “There was a time that whenever you meet a politician, you shook his hand. Nowadays, you just shake your head. Thank you for shaking my hand”.

It always elicits laughter from the audience, therefore, making it easier for me to connect with them. But there is indeed not just a grain of truth in it, but an entire harvest of truth. Indeed, many people distrust, disdain and disapprove of politicians nowadays. Many have refused to give politicians the benefit of the doubt, lumping all politicians in one category— trash. In the eyes of the people, being a politician has ceased to be an honorable occupation. The reputation of politicians nowadays has been degraded to that of a low-life.

But is it the people’s fault? Some politicians would say “yes”. Some would say that is only a matter of perception by a cynical population. But actually, it is a matter of reputation. Reputation is brought about one’s actions, unlike perception which is significantly affected by an observer’s opinion. Politicians have become notorious not because of people’s perceptions but because of politicians’ reputations. And that reputation is brought about by the politicians’ actions, which in turn is based upon their character.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “”Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Before I became a politician, I had already heard about those who abuse power. I had already despised those who do. Many times I have heard stories from my mother when the wives of senior officers would wield their seniority over her. I felt outrage at those who offended my mother. I knew how it felt to be at the receiving end of power.

On the other hand, my father, who was then a military officer, ingrained in me and my siblings the virtue of respecting other people, even those who were under his command. He constantly reminded us that even though we were the children of the commander, we should bear in mind that only he has the authority over the soldiers in his command, not us. This was during the time of Martial Law, when the military lorded it over the country, with the children of military officers acting like commanders themselves, especially in the treatment of soldiers under their fathers’ commands.

The most common line that you can hear from someone who is intoxicated with power are the words, “Hindi mo ba ako kilala?”

Those words are a betrayal of a person’s arrogance, because for one to expect that he is known by everyone is evidence that he thinks highly of himself or a lack of humility. In public service, humility is the number one qualification because as the term itself connotes, a public servant is expected to be beholden to the public. Rich or poor, young or old, man or woman, they are all to be served by those who are in public service.

Actually, it is the public who has the greater right to ask those in public service, “Kilala mo ba ako?” The public has the right to say, “Ako ang nagbabayad ng suweldo mo” and “Inutusan ka ng Saligang Batas na paglingkuran ako”. Whether a citizen pays taxes or not, that citizen is entitled to courteous service and treatment by public servants and officials.

As a politician and public servant myself, I am saddened at stories of power abused by those given the privilege to wield it. It is power that is supposed to be used for the People, not against them.

A Wonderful Time

Posted in Family Life, Inner Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 24, 2008 by Ruffy Biazon

Personally, I officially went on vacation yesterday. I completed my last official duty last December 22, topping off a year that was dedicated to serving the public most of my daily life. For the past seven years, from the time I wake up in the morning until I get back home at night, it was spent on official duty, even up to weekends. The only time I can take a break from the rigors of public life is during the Christmas break, which I claim for my family. During that period from Christmas Eve up to New Year’s day, I beg off from official activities. But in the past, even that deserved break was sometimes interrupted by activities or invitations that cannot be avoided.

For elected public officials, official activities are not confined to office work or official functions. It includes invitations from the constituents, ranging from the opening of a community basketball tournament to standing as principal sponsor to a wedding. Public officials are always invited to many social functions, many of which fall into what is supposed to be personal time of the official, meaning outside the official working hours and function.

For example, my official function is that of a legislator and my official working hours are during committee hearings and plenary sessions. But as a public official, I am expected by my constituents to be available for them any day of the week for any occasion. Legislators are better off than those serving in the executive, such as mayors. They are expected to be on call 24 hours a day.

So it was that I went on official vacation yesterday. I had the option to lay lazily in bed all day and just watch videos. But that’s something that I easily get tired of. I’m so used to being on the move that if I have nothing to do, I look for something to do. So on that first day of my official vacation, I was looking for something to do.

As I was reading the newspaper after breakfast, I remembered that one of the light bulbs in our bedroom needed to be replaced. Finally finding something to do, I decided to go to the hardware to buy the replacement bulb. As I was about to dress up to go out, my six year old son asked me where I was going. He always asked me that every morning and my answer was always, “I’m going to the office”.

This time, before I answered, an idea flashed in my mind. My reply to him was, “do you want to go with me?”. Without even knowing where I was going, his immediate answer was “Yes!”.

I was hoping he’d answer yes. Immediately, another idea came to me. Why don’t I bring along all my kids? It would be a boys’ day out! I have four sons, aged 17 (Carlo), 9 (Anton), 6 (Ino) and 2 (Enzo). It would be a nice opportunity to spend time with them.

I asked Carlo if he could drive for me, but he preferred to stay home. Anton was eager to go out with me. Enzo…well, Enzo is just two, so he’s always eager to go out wherever, with whoever.

I decided that it will just be me and the kids. No yaya even if the two year old was going with me. I haven’t done that for a long time. I wanted to savor this opportunity of being Ruffy Biazon, the father. When I became congressman seven years ago, I only had two sons who were 10 and 2 years old at that time. Now I had four and I rarely have an opportunity to have some alone time with them.

Instead of going to the hardware, I took them to the supermarket, where the bustling activity and the variety of goods would surely excite them. With the three young boys in tow, I entered the supermarket with the same excitement as they had. It felt good to be a father.

We went from aisle to aisle, without any plans or shopping lists. It was purely time spent together as a father enjoying his sons. I relished answering their questions such as “What’s that, papa? What is it for papa? Can I buy this, can I buy that, papa?”. While I granted some of their requests, I also taught them restraint, gently saying no to many of their wishes. It was an opportunity to teach them the concepts of spending within the budget, choosing between needs and wants, and of dealing with disappointment.

Of course, they weren’t unrewarded for just being with me. They got some of their requests, such Anton’s favorite milk and Ino’s bubble gum. Enzo biscuits which he immediately opened even before we checked out. I also taught them the concept of giving when we purchased some gift baskets filled with groceries to be given to the workers doing work in our house.

I was such a wonderful time for me. Knowing the value of documentation, I had the foresight of bringing along my camera, and we had fun taking photos in the supermarket. I knew I had to record his moment in history, because this will never happen again. Anton will be 9 , Ino will be 6 and Enzo will be 2 only once in my life. This particular instance will only happen once and never be repeated again. Yes, I’m sure that there will be other instances when I will go out with them again, but this moment on December 22, 2008, is only a fleeting moment in the timeline of my life.

I am one who believes that one should relish every moment given by God. In one of the pictures, my two year old son Enzo posed by trying to embrace my huge body with his small reach. It was an act which was not prompted, purely his own. And I am thankful that it was captured in a photo that would last until I am gray and old. That’s one reason why I have tons of photos of my kids, taken during their school presentations, birthday parties or when they’re playing at home. It’ a blessing that there’s digital photography and archiving. It’s easy to make files and back up files of digital photos.

My life as a public official will have its end. My term will end, or I will not get elected, or I will simply quit. But as a father and a husband, my role and duty will last until I breathe my last breath.

So more than being a great public official, I must first be a good family man. There’s a passage which says, “For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” This passage, taken from the book of 1 Timothy which was a letter from the Apostle Paul was meant as a guide on how to lead the church. But it may also be applicable in how to lead the country. For indeed, how can one manage the country if one does not know how to manage his own family?

It is a great challenge to be able to say that one has succeeded in managing his family. It is so because the only time you can evaluate if you have indeed successfully managed you family is when you are on your deathbed.

But for me, it is a very good standard to live by, because everyday, I am compelled to exert effort in managing my family successfully, so that when the time comes for my performance to be evaluated, I will have done my best.

For public officials, the same is applicable. The difference is that a public official does not have to wait for the end of his lifetime in order for his performance to be evaluated. A public official’s term has its end and there is retirement.

As I enjoy the holidays and set aside official concerns, I focus on my family and savor the moments spent with them. These moments will only happen once. As a famous poem (I don’t know who the author was) says :

I expect to pass through this world but once;

any good thing therefore that I can do,

or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature,

let me do it now;

let me not defer or neglect it,

for I shall not pass this way again.

3 of my 4 boys..Ino (6), Enzo (2) and Anton (9)

3 of my 4 boys..Ino (6), Enzo (2) and Anton (9)

I asked Anton to take this photo.

I asked Anton to take this photo.

The boys shopping for snacks.

The boys shopping for snacks.

Anton and Ino goofing around.

Anton and Ino goofing around.

The warm embrace from Enzo.

The warm embrace from Enzo.

A CALL FOR DISCERNMENT AND UNITY

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2008 by Ruffy Biazon

The following was published in the newspaper today. I’m just reposting it for the public’s consumption.–Ruffy

We speak in behalf of all marginalized sectors of Mindanao that include the Bangsamoro people, the indigenous peoples and migrant settlers particularly the women, children, and the displaced civilian communities who stand to benefit from the successful conclusion of the GRP-MILF peace talks. For many decades now, our lives depict the curse of the so-called “collateral damage” due to a long internecine armed conflict. The conflict and war in Mindanao must end now. We cannot allow this cycle of violence to further victimize our children and the next generation. We beg all the branches of government, the media and civil society groups to help end the Mindanaoans’ long years of suffering.

The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court effectively stalled the signing of the MOA on Ancestral Domain. While we consider this a major setback in our quest for peace, we are confident that the Supreme Court cannot allow itself to become a stumbling block in resolving a political conflict that requires a political solution. We have a complete trust in the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court and by God’s will, Insha Allah, the Government Peace Panel will eventually be allowed to proceed with the signing of the MOA.

As we open the avenues for debate on the Ancestral Domain agenda, we beg everyone, especially politicians, military, the media and other vested interest groups, to let it proceed without fueling the centuries-old biases and prejudices among people of Mindanao. There is a strong need for everyone to correct the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples in Mindanao and in other regions in the country. Definitely, there is a very urgent need to reverse the situation of fear, violence, hatred, anger and trauma among the people in the conflict-affected areas.

From August 7, 2004 to August 2, 2008, a total of 110 consultations, related to the peace process, were conducted all over Mindanao, according to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and members of the Government Peace Panel. Those consulted were academicians, business chambers, civilians, community leaders, indigenous communities, local government units, military personnel, organizations, and religious leaders. On the side the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), it also spearheaded consultations among Muslim communities since the peace talks resumed; the largest assembly gathered almost a million people in Camp Darapanan in 2006.

Definitely, there is a need for continuing consultations, dialogues and information dissemination so that people can come up with well-informed positions on the MOA on AD. This we commit to help undertake as we proceed in educating our people on the contents of the MOA. Let the debate however proceed in the spirit of dialogue and utmost respect. The Bangsamoro people and indigenous peoples have the fundamental right to self-determination recognized under international laws.We strongly support them and demand that this right be respected and fulfilled.

There is a need to clarify misconception that Christians will be evicted out of Mindanao once the BJE is established. Under the MOA-AD, “vested property rights upon the entrenchment of the BJE shall be recognized and respected”. This means that an ordinary Mindanaoan’s landholding will be respected and protected contrary to what is being spread now that Christians will lose ownership of their land titles. Ancestral Domain as defined under the MOA “refer to those held under claim of ownership, occupied or possessed, by themselves or through the ancestors of the Bangsamoro people, communally or individually since time immemorial”. This provision refers to a political territory rather than individual land titles which are already vested and respected under the MOA.

We likewise support the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples in their ancestral domain claims. Under the MOA “The freedom of choice of the Indigenous people shall be respected”. It will be incumbent upon the indigenous peoples if they would like to join the BJE or not.

Thus, the sovereign will of the people to be part or not of the BJE is given utmost importance by the MOA on AD through a plebiscite. Residents of the 735 barangays covered under Category A which constitute the proposed expansion of the Bangsamoro homeland shall have the freedom to vote for inclusion or exclusion in the BJE.

There is also a need to take into consideration some concerns of kindred organizations in Manila that the GRP-MILF peace talks could be used to initiate Charter Change. Indeed, there is a need for a comprehensive legislative action given the need to change institutional arrangements between the BJE and the national government. Be that as it may, whether there will be Cha-cha or not, let it be clear that based on the timeframe of the MOA, this will only proceed not earlier than 2010. It will take the parties twelve (12) months after the signing to proceed with the plebiscite and a total of fifteen (15) months to complete the negotiations and resolve all outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Compact. Given this timeframe there will be no material time to undertake Cha-cha via the GRP-MILF talks.

What is clear at this point is that the interests of the peace process and those who are against charter change, are not diametrically opposed.  We ourselves will not allow any partisan political interest to tarnish the legitimacy and primacy of the peace process.

This is an appeal that we pose to everyone especially our politicians who in the past few days became willing mouthpiece in fueling chaos, fear, hatred and communal violence.   Let us all be responsible enough to tackle this issue in an intelligent and dispassionate manner, bearing in mind that we are all brothers and sisters, and that everyone in this country has the right and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

August 11, 2008

Davao City

SIGNED:

Mindanao Peoples Caucus–Bantay Ceasefire

Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace

Allah-Mujadilah Development Foundation

Waging Peace Philippines

Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum

Organization of Teduray and Lambangian Conference

Tulung Lupah Sug
GINAPALADTAKA Space for Peace

Mindanao Solidarity Network
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Initiatives for International Dialogue

Assembly of D’arul Ifta

Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum
Peacebuilders Community
United Youth for Peace and Development

Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao (AFRIM), Inc.

Saligan-Mindanao
Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc.

Saligan Mindanaw

Suara Kalilintad

Tiyakap Kalilintad

Muslim Multisectoral Movement for Peace and Development

Manic Monday…Not!

Posted in Governance, Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians, Uncategorized with tags , , on August 28, 2006 by Ruffy Biazon

Some people dread Mondays because it is the start of the work week. For many, it is usually the start of their busy work-week schedule, a day that is plagued by the weekend hangover. But there’s work, work, work to be done…

It’s 4:00 PM and I am in my office. I just turned on the monitor which gives me the real-time goings on in the session hall downstairs. The National Anthem has just been played. A member of COngress delivers her carefully prepared prayer, an appeal to the Almighty for wisdom in the performance of our duties.

Then the majority floor leader moves to dispense with the Calling of the Roll. A motion to approve the journal of the previous sesison…no objections, motion is carried..then a motion to read the Reference of Business for the Day. The Secretary General reads the list of bills and resolutions which are then referred to the appropriate committee.

After the reference of business, the Majority FLoor leader moves to suspend the session. Session suspended. It is now 4:10 PM , and all I can hear over the monitor are some light banter and someone laughing his heart out at some joke that somebody probably cracked.

Another busy day at the office….

The “Abas” Arguement

Posted in Inner Thoughts, Politics and Politicians, Uncategorized with tags on August 28, 2006 by Ruffy Biazon

Debates are meant as a means of winning your opponent over to your side, or at least have your opponent acknowledge your position on a particular issue without resorting to bashing each other’s heads or twisting arms to make one submit. It is a tool of civilized society, in order to settle matters with the power of words, instead of weapons.

These verbal jousts are are tests to the skills of the participants and the soundness of their ideas. The weaker argument usually ends up in submission, with the proponent agreeing to the opponent.

BUt there are times when one side of the debate resorts to an argument that is impossible to tear down, even with the soundest logic, mastery of words and skill in delivery. Once confronted with this argument, one cannot help but simply give up in frustration and leave the debate empty handed.

This is known as the “Abas” Argument.

No, it is not named after some crafty debater who excelled in every forum he participated in. Neither is it some unique principle that could solve all the mysteries of life. It isn’t a mystical power wielded by a debater which provided him the answers to all questions.

Simply, it is the “Abasta!” method of arguing.

I must admit my weakness in not knowing how to translate that in English. My best would be to liken it to the lingo of the youth when they use this retort in an exchange: “Whatever!”

You can never win against the Abas Argument….even if you present an idea backed up with facts, figures and the kitchen sink, the simple reply would be : “Abasta! I don’t believe you and your idea is unacceptable!”

—-“But the documentary evidence shows that you accepted the payment! It has your signature on it verified by handwriting experts!”

—-“Abasta! That’s not my signature!”

Many times in my work I have encountered the Abas Argument. The amazing thing about the Abas Argument is that even if technically, the user has lost the debate due to the inability to offer a logical and established argument, he simply just maintains that air of “I am right and I win” attitude and he comes out the winner.

You simply cannot win over the Abas Argument. You disagree?

Abasta! I am right, you are wrong!