Wednesday, December 28, 2016

8888 Hotline Segment 27 November 2016

Pinched hit for Sec. Panelo in his 8888 Hotline Segment in PTV News on 27 November 2016.

Malacanang Press Briefing 24 November 2016

Press Briefing as Assistant Secretary of PCOO on 24 November 2016 at the Malacanang Press Briefing Room.

Malacanang Press Briefing 5 September 2016

Here is my press briefing as Assistant Secretary of the PCOO held on 5 September 2016 at the Malacanang Press Briefing Room.

Monday, March 21, 2016

I Explain the New Features of the Vote Counting Machines to be Used in the 2016 National and Local Elections

Explainer | Mga bagong features ng Vote Counting Machines na gagamitin ngayong 2016 elections.Watch the livestream now at and #BILANGPILIPINO
Posted by News5 Everywhere on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Monday, February 11, 2013


Wow, I haven't written on my personal blog for quite a while. Been busy with work, family, and my other blog (on bike commuting). But I have time now, and this thing I want to write about is worth blogging. So here it goes.
Back in 2011, when I first heard about Governor Imee Marcos' plan of converting the Ilocano Heroes Hall into an SM Hypermart, I thought it was a bad idea and was strongly against it. One of the reasons for my opposition was the eventual displacement of the building's tenants, especially the government offices. The Ilocano Heroes Hall used to be the one-stop shop for government agencies. The electric cooperative was there, so was the Department of Tourism, Bureau of Treasury and the Commission on Elections. Another to be kicked out was the Provincial Library. The library was a great concern for me because I had always supported it, and in fact, the 2007-2010 provincial government had already planned to build a legislative building that would house a bigger and better library. Now it had no permanent address.

I later learned that the library transferred to a small corner of the Centennial Arena, far away from its student-clientele in the city center. For a long time, the Provincial Library just stood there, gathering dust.

I thought the library would ultimately die a natural death.

I was wrong.
Earlier today I passed by the Centennial Arena and noticed that the library looked much bigger than the last time I saw it, and was now renamed iHub (short for Information Hub). Curious, I paid my favorite librarian, Mrs. Abad, a visit.
When I entered, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with what I saw. 
And all I could say was, "Wow!"

Governor Imee expanded iHub by converting the entire south basement of the arena into a library. She then installed two hundred computers to complement the existing ones. 

Two Hundred. That's a lot of computers.

Last Friday, Governor Imee inaugurated the Sirib Mile along Ablan Ave., stretching from Marcos Stadium and MMSU to INNHS and INCAT. The "mile" of course includes the Centennial Arena and the library. I learned that Governor Imee's master plan is to transform that area into the educational hub of the north.

And it made perfect sense. 

Sure, the library lost its visitors from Laoag Central Elementary School, Holy Spirit Academy and Data Center, but it gained the multitude of students from Mariano Marcos State University, Ilocos Norte National High School and Ilocos Norte College of Arts and Trade, which is definitely a bigger base.

For a small fee, the students from these schools can continue their research and study after their classes. I heard Governor Imee plans to "close" that section of Ablan Ave. and convert it into a public plaza, making it exclusive for pedestrians, which is good for the library because then it will be even more accessible.

It's a brilliant project and I regret doubting the governor's decision to move the library into that section of the city. I now think it was the best thing that happened to the library.

Having said that, this doesn't mean I agree with all her projects. I still think it was a bad idea to convert the Heroes Hall into an SM. But that's for another time and place.

Today, I tip my hat to Governor Imee for the Sirib Mile and iHub projects. Congrats, ma'am!

PS: Though the library now has a lot of computers, it still lacks books. If you or your organization have books and any reading materials to spare, please donate to iHub Ilocos Norte, c/o Provincial Librarian Matilde M. Nery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Power Play

Posting an article written by Elizabeth Angsioco for the Manila Standard Today, dated 17 December 2011, regarding the President's actions in the impeachment of the Chief Justice. Good read. I agree with her observations.

"On any issue, the most difficult position is the “nuanced position” because it is not a straightforward yes or no to something. Many see things as either black or white. In real life, it is not that simple. There are many colors and shades of colors as there are many things to consider in making one’s stand on a given issue.
On the Chief Justice Renato Corona impeachment case, for instance, the easiest thing is to agree with what the House of Representatives did. Doing so is equated with being pro-Noynoy, which is the popular positioning. After all, even Speaker Sonny Belmonte admitted (despite initial Malacañang denials), that the House merely followed what President Aquino asked them to do.
Consequently, those of us who ask questions are labelled as anti-Noynoy, anti-impeachment, pro-former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, or pro-CJ Corona. I beg to disagree. Many are not any of these, myself included.
Through decades of activism, I have learned to use certain principles in weighing my take on issues. I am not fond of criticizing people, I make my positions based on careful and thorough analysis of issues, not partisanship or affiliation. Thus, I am neither for nor against any specific politician but I can be for or against specific actions of specific politicians.
Questioning what transpired at the House is not necessarily an anti-impeachment position. Impeachment is a crucial Constitutional process to make accountable and remove from office abusive government officials. Ultimately, its purpose is to make sure that the country is governed only by those worthy of the positions they hold and able to fulfil their mandates. How can anyone be against a process that protects the people from abuse?
I have been critical of various actions and decisions of former President Arroyo even during those times when my former political group chose to side with her. I have been most critical of Arroyo’s anti-reproductive health position as well as her meddling with the House on this.
Of the high government officials, Chief Justice Corona is the most unknown to me. My political work revolves around Congress and some executive departments. My only dealing with the Judiciary is at the trial court level during times when we assist specific cases. Thus, I do not have any strong opinions on Corona.
I guess this is the same with most Filipinos because the justices are not ordinarily seen or heard of. Of the three government branches, members of the Judiciary are mostly quiet. We only hear about their decisions but rarely get to know them. At least not in the same way as we know the President, Speaker of the House, the Senators, even Department Secretaries.
Sure, I know about allegations that Corona is a midnight appointee of Mrs. Arroyo. But in the same way that I will not question technicalities about the House meeting constitutional conditions for an impeachment vote, lawyers have also said that the so-called midnight appointments are technically valid.
I am familiar with Supreme Court decisions on various cases including those in relation with Mrs. Arroyo and President Aquino. But as media reports always say, these are Supreme Court decisions, not Corona’s alone. I have always regarded the Supreme Court as a collegial body.
My concerns about the House impeachment proceedings are not about technicalities. I understand that the House has met all conditions set forth by the Constitution on this.
However, the manner by which the House met these Constitutional requirements is, for me, hard to accept as moral.
I am concerned with the power play being displayed by this issue. Blatantly, Malacañang is showcasing how it uses its immense powers to the extent of disrespecting co-equal branches of government.
I am concerned that the principal impeachment lobbyist is the most powerful official of the land—the President, who is known to dislike Corona from day one. Given the balance of power in our politics, the impeachment was a given. The overriding perception that this is a Pnoy-versus-SC issue instead of HOR-versus-Corona is disturbing.
I am concerned that the House members were not given time to study the impeachment complaint. Representatives signed on the basis of power point presentations, not the actual document they were affixing their signatures to. On this particular occasion, the House became a rubber-stamp institution. This sets a very dangerous precedent.
Even if some political parties held caucuses on the case, none of them discussed the very crucial actual document they were deciding on. It was like approving a bill in essence without knowing the actual bill’s contents.
My familiarity with how the House works leads me to believe that even IF there were no threats of withholding the representatives’ pork barrel, they themselves felt the threat—as how Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco put it. In short, many need not be threatened, they already were and are.
I am concerned with how the House leadership put it when the representatives were asked to sign, “Just sign and if you want to ask questions, do so during the plenary,” and “sign if you are an ally of the President.” I talked with several House members and they were actually not happy with how things were done.
I am concerned, no, disappointed with how many of the 188 lawmakers made their decision. I can respect those who studied their options and there were those. However, many just gave in to the House leadership. No matter what the leadership said or did, if more insisted on studying the document first, the leadership would not have easily prevailed.
I am concerned with the attempt to shield the President’s role in this. On the evening of the impeachment, Malacañang and allies went on national television and said that what the House did was purely its business, that PNoy had no hand in it, and that nothing was hidden as it was an open process. If these were not lies, I don’t know what are.
I am concerned with the divisions this issue is creating in our country. The Judiciary is fighting back. Legal minds are divided. Even some who used to be allies of Malacañang are joining the fray and criticizing the President. These divisions could have been prevented if House was not in a big hurry to impeach.
I am very concerned with the implications of the impeachment case on the country, on our people. Can a chief justice who is hand-picked by PNoy become truly independent?
Now that the House has proven itself to be an extension of Malacañang, will the Senate be able to resist the Presidential lobby? I am fervently hoping that the senators, for once, will decide based solely on evidence. The country needs nothing less from them."

Original text at:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Possibly the most congested street for a pedestrian to walk in Pasay/Manila

Pablo Ocampo, Sr. Street (formerly Vito-Cruz), specifically that section between Taft Ave. and Arellano Ave. is probably the most congested street for a pedestrian to walk in the Pasay/Manila area.
I teach business law in CSB and I have to walk that length from the SDA campus, where I park my car, to the Taft campus, where I have class, every time I'm there.

First things first, I cannot believe that the local government still allows big 18-wheeler trucks to pass through that street! It's not a highway, for godsakes! Let those road beasts traverse Quirino or Buendia.

Second, why do they still allow pedicabs on that street?! It's enough that those drivers are rude to all commuters, but to be reckless and undisciplined as well?! Oh, my god! Vito-Cruz is obviously a one way street and yet pedicab drivers think that just because they're on bikes the law does not apply to them! They counterflow like it's their birth right! Pag nasagi ka, sila pa galit! Aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhh! I hate pedicabs!

Third, the jeepneys that ply that route use Leon Guinto and a strip of Vito-Cruz as their terminal! Dun lang sila pumaparada at naghihintay ng mga pasahero. Ano ba?! Ang laki laki ng sign na "No Loading and Unloading!"

Fourth, there are street vendors who obviously do not have any EQ because if they did they would know they are not helping the free flow of traffic when they display their pineapples, pomelos, fishballs, kwek-kwek and other goods in the middle of the road! At mabuti sana kung malinis sila; No! Kinakalat lang nila yung mga used barbeque sticks at balat ng pinya at suha sa daan!

Last, but definitely not the least, the local government REMOVED the SIDEWALK! There's no sidewalk! We have to walk ON the road and play patintero with street vendors, pedicabs, tricycles, cars, jeepneys and 18 wheeler trucks!

Hay, diyoskoporsanto!

There's St. Scholastica's College in the center; Angelo King Campus up north; CSB-Taft on the west; and SDA sa south; why can't they just close that area from motor vehicles and convert the existing roads to one big pedestrian walkway like they do in other college towns? Why endanger the lives of all these students and teachers?

Get rid of cars and trucks. Divert them to other roads. Replace the asphalt with red bricks. Keep the pedicabs (but redesign the chassis) and street vendors. And then we're talking. Pedestrian heaven!

But until our local government get its act together, it's continuous suffering for everyone.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Becoming a Mediator

I've always believed that alternative modes of dispute resolution are what this country needs to declog our courts and restore the public's trust in the judicial system. The different modes I learned of in law school include negotiation, mediation and arbitration. (For more information about ADR, you can read RA 9285)

Last week, I attended a 4-day seminar on basic mediation to place me one step closer to becoming an accredited mediator of the Supreme Court. There is no mediation office in my province of Ilocos Norte and I hope to be the one to organize it in the near future.

The seminar, organized by the Philippine Judicial Academy, was held in Cauayan, Isabela (PhilJA plans to establish a mediation office there).
At the seminar venue
35 professionals participated in the course. 2 from Metro Manila, 1 from Laoag City (that's me), 1 from Baguio City, another from Nueva Ecija, and the remaining 31 from the cities of Ilagan, Cauayan and Santiago in Isabela province.

8 of us were lawyers, some were court personnel and the rest were from the private sector. (Yes, anyone can become a mediator, as long as you are at least 30 years old, a college graduate and of good moral character. For more information about becoming a mediator, log on to the Philippine Mediation Center website
DCA Raul Villanueva
We had a total of 9 speakers who discussed various subjects on mediation. On our first day, Atty. Manny Caparas gave the most lectures. He talked about ADR mechanisms and the role of lawyers in mediation; Deputy Court Administrator Raul Villanueva discussed conflict management; and Fr. Raffy Cruz shared wth us his thoughts on social and cultural context in negotiation.
Fr. Raffy Cruz 
I stayed in Hotel Andrea, the only boutique hotel in the city. My room was kind of small and had no windows, but it was okay for the price (P1,050.00). May aircon, flat screen TV, hot shower and free wifi naman.
I did not know anyone in Cauayan. The only friend I knew in Isabela was Mayor Jeng Reyes, but she lives in Alicia town, which is a good 45 minutes away. Luckily, my fraternity batchmate, Allen Cortez, who works for URC, was doing his rounds in the area and we had a drink one night.
On Day 2, Justice Tess Dy-Liacco Flores taught us the fundamentals of communication. That as mediators, we should listen to both parties and be aware of verbal, as well as non-verbal forms of communication. Mediation is less rigid than court litigation. Mediators can be flexible when negotiating with the parties. There are no strict rules of procedure. In fact, lawyer participation is optional, if not discouraged! 

Also, mediators are not judges or arbiters. They don't decide cases. Instead, mediators act as facilitators. They provide an opportunity for both parties to voice out their concerns.
The seminar was held in the compound of UPHS-Isabela Campus
Later on, the class was introduced to the 6 stages of mediation. Usec. Linda Hornilla started it off with the mediator's opening statement. And then Atty. Caparas followed it up with the parties' opening statement. Justice Flores returned to discuss joint discussion and identifying the issues. The 4th stage was on what to do during impasses (the answer is to hold a caucus with each of the parties). Atty. Egon Cayosa of the Tuguegarao PMC Unit talked about joint negotiation, and on the 6th and final stage about closure.

The goal of mediation is to get the parties to agree on settling their differences outside of court and to enter into a compromise. More importantly, the ultimate mission of mediation is to bring back the peace between the parties. Sa korte kasi very adversarial. Magkaaway na kaagad yung mga parties. May nasa tama, may nasa mali. May panalo at may talo. Not in mediation. Pwede magkaroon ng win-win solution.
Atty. Cayosa
Usec. Linda Hornilla
That's me with Dingdong Agcaoili of Santiago City MTCC (he's not looking at the camera)
Mediation Role-play
In Day 3, Dean Agabin taught us how to write a compromise agreement, while Usec. Hornilla informed us about the PMC grievance machinery, if ever someone complains about our performance in court-annexed mediation.
Dean Agabin 
On the 4th and last day, Dean Agabin talked about ethics and reminded the participants that when we sit as mediators we become officers of the court (I already am, as a lawyer. The rule is for non-lawyer mediators). Mr. Jose Name informed us of the fees we will be receiving. As mediators, we get a whopping P1,000.00 for every successful mediation! (Dean Agabin and Atty. Cayosa told us we shouldn't be mediating for the money. Mediation is really volunteer work.) And the last talk was given my Atty. Mark Polonan of PMC. He discussed the mediation forms and the accreditation process.
The resource speakers with all the participants
Me, Mr. Name, Usec. Hornilla, Dean Agabin, Atty. Polonan and 2 other Manila-based lawyer-participants
Having earned my Certificate of Completion, the next step is a two month internship. I have to mediate 3 successful cases within the period. After that, PhilJA-PMC endorses my application to the Supreme Court for resolution.  Mark said the process might take another 3 months. So, I'm looking at getting my accreditation by January next year.
But that's still a long time from today. Right now I'm thankful to have been given the opportunity to take the course.

Friday, August 12, 2011


A lot of corporations' CSR projects nowadays include the building of classrooms for public elementary and secondary schools (think the likes of Mcdonald's, GMA, Coca-Cola, Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, etc.).

But equally important to having enough classrooms is to have an adequate number of chairs and school desks inside the room, right?


I mean, what's the use of a classroom if it's empty. The teacher and her students might as well hold class under a tree.

This is where you come in.

Yes, you!

PBSP recently launched an on-line donation facility called iGiveBackNow where ordinary people, like you and me, can give back to the community by donating as little as P100 to help improve public education. The donor can choose to donate to either the President Cory Aquino School Desk Project or the School Chairs Assistance Project.

Did you know that more than 5 million Filipino students do not have a chair to sit on or a desk to write on?

They squat or sit on the floor! 5 million kids!

Which is pathetic because one school desk costs a mere P880! The shirt you're wearing is probably more expensive.

Now is the time for you to give back to the community. Pull out your credit cards or your ATM cards and donate to today!