March 2011

Full text of Impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Text of the Impeachment Complaint filed on July 22, 2010

Republic of the Philippines

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

15TH CONGRESS

Quezon City

 

IN RE IMPEACHMENT OF OMBUDSMAN

MA. MERCEDITAS NAVARRO GUTIERREZ

 

RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL,

DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE PESTAÑO,

and EVELYN PESTAÑO,

Complainants.

x———————————————x

IMPEACHMENT COMPLAINT

COMPLAINANTS RISA HONTIVEROS-BARAQUEL, DANILO D. LIM, FELIPE

PESTAÑO, and EVELYN PESTAÑO, through undersigned counsel, respectfully state that –

PREFATORY STATEMENT

 

The Office of the Ombudsman was created under Article XI of the 1987 Constitution as an independent office intended to serve as “protector of the people” principally through taking prompt action on complaints filed against public officials and other employees of the government.

 

The primordial purpose of the Office the Ombudsman is to enforce public accountability among public officials, through, among other measures, investigating on its own, or upon complaint of any person any act or omission by a public official that appears to be “illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient,” and, in appropriate cases, instituting the corresponding directives to or initiating prosecution of the responsible officials.

 

The Ombudsman is thus vested with expansive authority and broad discretion in fulfilling its mandate of enforcing public accountability within the ranks of the government service. It is expected not to merely stand as a passive receiver of complaints from the public, but to take a proactive role in rooting out corruption and impropriety in government. It is empowered not merely to enforce the express commands of black letter law but to take action on any act or omission that may be “unjust, improper, or inefficient.”

For in the end, the Office of the Ombudsman is envisioned as the ultimate bulwark that the Filipino people may rely on against government abuse and official corruption, from the lowest to the highest echelons of the public service.

 

Sadly, the current holder of this crucial Office, Ma. Merceditas Navarro-Gutierrez – in the nearly five years since her appointment to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the previous Ombudsman, Simeon V. Marcelo – has failed to live up to this role.

During her watch, the Office of the Ombudsman, far from being an effective and reliable recourse for ordinary citizens seeking succor and relief from government abuse, has become a place where complaints of official wrongdoing go to languish, wither, and ultimately be forgotten. In many instances, some of which will be discussed in this Impeachment Complaint, Ombudsman Navarro-Gutierrez has unconscionably neglected to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken on complaints from the public filed with her office.

 

Similarly, the Office of the Ombudsman, under the stewardship of Navarro-Gutierrez, has become alarmingly and unjustifiably passive in taking on prominent issues involving corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of government. Instead of instituting investigations on its own, as it is expressly empowered – in fact, arguably required – to do so by the Constitution, it has sat quietly even in the face of the most scandalous reports of official impropriety, waiting for private citizens, or other government offices, to take up the very causes it was created to address. This Impeachment Complaint will likewise take up some of these instances.

 

Finally, the effectiveness of the Office of the Ombudsman under Navarro-Gutierrez in holding erring public officials to account by instituting successful prosecutions before the appropriate courts and tribunals has likewise degraded to a distressing and unacceptable degree. As this Impeachment Complaint will again show, an empirical and objective assessment of the performance as prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman under Navarro-Gutierrez, clearly establishes an intolerable, if not criminal, level of incompetence.

source: Newsbreak

Why America should never fight a land war in Asia

By George Friedman

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking at West Point, said last week that “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” In saying this, Gates was repeating a dictum laid down by Douglas MacArthur after the Korean War, who urged the United States to avoid land wars in Asia. Given that the United States has fought four major land wars in Asia since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq — none of which had ideal outcomes, it is useful to ask three questions: First, why is fighting a land war in Asia a bad idea? Second, why does the United States seem compelled to fight these wars? And third, what is the alternative that protects U.S. interests in Asia without large-scale military land wars?

 

The Hindrances of Overseas Wars

 

Let’s begin with the first question, the answer to which is rooted in demographics and space. The population of Iraq is currently about 32 million. Afghanistan has a population of less than 30 million. The U.S. military, all told, consists of about 1.5 million active-duty personnel (plus 980,000 in the reserves), of whom more than 550,000 belong to the Army and about 200,000 are part of the Marine Corps. Given this, it is important to note that the United States strains to deploy about 200,000 troops at any one time in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that many of these troops are in support rather than combat roles. The same was true in Vietnam, where the United States was challenged to field a maximum of about 550,000 troops (in a country much more populous than Iraq or Afghanistan) despite conscription and a larger standing army. Indeed, the same problem existed in World War II.

When the United States fights in the Eastern Hemisphere, it fights at great distances, and the greater the distance, the greater the logistical cost. More ships are needed to deliver the same amount of materiel, for example. That absorbs many troops. The logistical cost of fighting at a distance is that it diverts numbers of troops (or requires numbers of civilian personnel) disproportionate to the size of the combat force.

Regardless of the number of troops deployed, the U.S. military is always vastly outnumbered by the populations of the countries to which it is deployed. If parts of these populations resist as light-infantry guerrilla forces or employ terrorist tactics, the enemy rapidly swells to a size that can outnumber U.S. forces, as in Vietnam and Korea. At the same time, the enemy adopts strategies to take advantage of the core weakness of the United States — tactical intelligence. The resistance is fighting at home. It understands the terrain and the culture. The United States is fighting in an alien environment. It is constantly at an intelligence disadvantage. That means that the effectiveness of the native forces is multiplied by excellent intelligence, while the effectiveness of U.S. forces is divided by lack of intelligence.

The United States compensates with technology, from space-based reconnaissance and air power to counter-battery systems and advanced communications. This can make up the deficit but only by massive diversions of manpower from ground-combat operations. Maintaining a helicopter requires dozens of ground-crew personnel. Where the enemy operates with minimal technology multiplied by intelligence, the United States compensates for lack of intelligence with massive technology that further reduces available combat personnel. Between logistics and technological force multipliers, the U.S. “point of the spear” shrinks. If you add the need to train, relieve, rest and recuperate the ground-combat forces, you are left with a small percentage available to fight.

The paradox of this is that American forces will win the engagements but may still lose the war. Having identified the enemy, the United States can overwhelm it with firepower. The problem the United States has is finding the enemy and distinguishing it from the general population. As a result, the United States is well-suited for the initial phases of combat, when the task is to defeat a conventional force. But after the conventional force has been defeated, the resistance can switch to methods difficult for American intelligence to deal with. The enemy can then control the tempo of operations bydeclining combat where it is at a disadvantage and initiating combat when it chooses.

The example of the capitulation of Germany and Japan in World War II is frequently cited as a model of U.S. forces defeating and pacifying an opposing nation. But the Germans were not defeated primarily by U.S. ground troops. The back of the Wehrmacht was broken by the Soviets on their own soil with the logistical advantages of short supply lines. And, of course, Britain and numerous other countries were involved. It is doubtful that the Germans would have capitulated to the Americans alone. The force the United States deployed was insufficient to defeat Germany. The Germans had no appetite for continuing a resistance against the Russians and saw surrendering to the Americans and British as sanctuary from the Russians. They weren’t going to resist them. As for Japan, it was not ground forces but air power, submarine warfare and atomic bombs that finished them — and the emperor’s willingness to order a surrender. It was not land power that prevented resistance but air and sea power, plus a political compromise by MacArthur in retaining and using the emperor. Had the Japanese emperor been removed, I suspect that the occupation of Japan would have been much more costly. Neither Germany nor Japan are examples in which U.S. land forces compelled capitulation and suppressed resistance.

The problem the United States has in the Eastern Hemisphere is that the size of the force needed to occupy a country initially is much smaller than the force needed to pacify the country. The force available for pacification is much smaller than needed because the force the United States can deploy demographically without committing to total war is simply too small to do the job — and the size needed to do the job is unknown.

 

U.S. Global Interests

 

The deeper problem is this: The United States has global interests. While the Soviet Union was the primary focus of the United States during the Cold War, no power threatens to dominate Eurasia now, and therefore no threat justifies the singular focus of the United States. In time of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States must still retain a strategic reserve for other unanticipated contingencies. This further reduces the available force for combat.

Some people argue that the United States is insufficiently ruthless in prosecuting war, as if it would be more successful without political restraints at home. The Soviets and the Nazis, neither noted for gentleness, were unable to destroy the partisans behind German lines or the Yugoslav resistance, in spite of brutal tactics. The guerrilla has built-in advantages in warfare for which brutality cannot compensate.

Given all this, the question is why the United States has gotten involved in wars in Eurasia four times since World War II. In each case it is obvious: for political reasons. In Korea and Vietnam, it was to demonstrate to doubting allies that the United States had the will to resist the Soviets. In Afghanistan, it was to uproot al Qaeda. In Iraq, the reasons are murkier, more complex and less convincing, but the United States ultimately went in, in my opinion, to convince the Islamic world of American will.

The United States has tried to shape events in the Eastern Hemisphere by the direct application of land power. In Korea and Vietnam, it was trying to demonstrate resolve against Soviet and Chinese power. In Afghanistan and Iraq, it was trying to shape the politics of the Muslim world. The goal was understandable but the amount of ground force available was not. In Korea, it resulted in stalemate; in Vietnam, defeat. We await the outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan, but given Gates’ statement, the situation for the United States is not necessarily hopeful.

In each case, the military was given an ambiguous mission. This was because a clear outcome — defeating the enemy — was unattainable. At the same time, there were political interests in each. Having engaged, simply leaving did not seem an option. Therefore, Korea turned into an extended presence in a near-combat posture, Vietnam ended in defeat for the American side, and Iraq and Afghanistan have turned, for the time being, into an uncertain muddle that no reasonable person expects to end with the declared goals of a freed and democratic pair of countries.

 

Problems of Strategy

 

There are two problems with American strategy. The first is using the appropriate force for the political mission. This is not a question so much of the force as it is of the mission. The use of military force requires clarity of purpose; otherwise, a coherent strategy cannot emerge. Moreover, it requires an offensive mission. Defensive missions (such as Vietnam and Korea) by definition have no terminal point or any criteria for victory. Given the limited availability of ground combat forces, defensive missions allow the enemy’s level of effort to determine the size of the force inserted, and if the force is insufficient to achieve the mission, the result is indefinite deployment of scarce forces.

Then there are missions with clear goals initially but without an understanding of how to deal with Act II. Iraq suffered from an offensive intention ill suited to the enemy’s response. Having destroyed the conventional forces of Iraq, the United States was unprepared for the Iraqi response, which was guerrilla resistance on a wide scale. The same was true in Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency is occupation warfare. It is the need to render a population — rather than an army — unwilling and incapable of resisting. It requires vast resources and large numbers of troops that outstrip the interest. Low-cost counter-insurgency with insufficient forces will always fail. Since the United States uses limited forces because it has to, counterinsurgency is the most dangerous kind of war for the United States. The idea has always been that the people prefer the U.S. occupation to the threats posed by their fellow countrymen and that the United States can protect those who genuinely do prefer the former. That may be the idea, but there is never enough U.S. force available.

Another model for dealing with the problem of shaping political realities can be seen in the Iran-Iraq war. In that war, the United States allowed the mutual distrust of the two countries to eliminate the threats posed by both. When the Iraqis responded by invading Kuwait, the United States responded with a massive counter with very limited ends — the reconquest of Kuwait and the withdrawal of forces. It was a land war in Asia designed to defeat a known and finite enemy army without any attempt at occupation.

The problem with all four wars is that they were not wars in a conventional sense and did not use the military as militaries are supposed to be used. The purpose of a military is to defeat enemy conventional forces. As an army of occupation against a hostile population, military forces are relatively weak. The problem for the United States is that such an army must occupy a country for a long time, and the U.S. military simply lacks the ground forces needed to occupy countries and still be available to deal with other threats.

By having an unclear mission, you have an uncertain terminal point. When does it end? You then wind up with a political problem internationally — having engaged in the war, you have allies inside and outside of the country that have fought with you and taken risks with you. Withdrawal leaves them exposed, and potential allies will be cautious in joining with you in another war. The political costs spiral and the decision to disengage is postponed. The United States winds up in the worst of all worlds. It terminates not on its own but when its position becomes untenable, as in Vietnam. This pyramids the political costs dramatically.

Wars need to be fought with ends that can be achieved by the forces available. Donald Rumsfeld once said, “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of war. You do not engage in war if the army you have is insufficient. When you understand the foundations of American military capability and its limits in Eurasia, Gates’ view on war in the Eastern Hemisphere is far more sound than Rumsfeld’s.

 

The Diplomatic Alternative

 

The alternative is diplomacy, not understood as an alternative to war but as another tool in statecraft alongside war. Diplomacy can find the common ground between nations. It can also be used to identify the hostility of nations and use that hostility to insulate the United States by diverting the attention of other nations from challenging the United States. That is what happened during the Iran-Iraq war. It wasn’t pretty, but neither was the alternative.

Diplomacy for the United States is about maintaining the balance of power and using and diverting conflict to manage the international system. Force is the last resort, and when it is used, it must be devastating. The argument I have made, and which I think Gates is asserting, is that at a distance, the United States cannot be devastating in wars dependent on land power. That is the weakest aspect of American international power and the one the United States has resorted to all too often since World War II, with unacceptable results. Using U.S. land power as part of a combined arms strategy is occasionally effective in defeating conventional forces, as it was with North Korea (and not China) but is inadequate to the demands of occupation warfare. It makes too few troops available for success, and it does not know how many troops might be needed.

This is not a policy failure of any particular U.S. president. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have encountered precisely the same problem, which is that the forces that have existed in Eurasia, from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Korea to the Taliban in Afghanistan, have either been too numerous or too agile (or both) for U.S. ground forces to deal with. In any war, the primary goal is not to be defeated. An elective war in which the criteria for success are unclear and for which the amount of land force is insufficient must be avoided. That is Gates’ message. It is the same one MacArthur delivered, and the one Dwight Eisenhower exercised when he refused to intervene in Vietnam on France’s behalf. As with the Monroe Doctrine, it should be elevated to a principle of U.S. foreign policy, not because it is a moral principle but because it is a very practical one.

Never Fight a Land War in Asia is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

The Catholic Republic of the Philippines

“Give the church a place in the Constitution, let her touch once more the sword of power, and the priceless fruit of all ages will turn to ashes on the lips of men.”—Robert Green Ingersoll

Thank God, Muntinlupa City struck down the barangay Ayala- Alabang resolution turning the village into an artificial contraceptives-free zone.

The city council reminded the barangay officials that we live in a secular democratic republic. It said, “The intention and the spirit behind the barangay ordinance are beyond reproach. The body’s concern, however, remains in your mandate as elected officials of all constituents in your barangay, regardless of faith and creed…we encourage you to continue exalting the benefits of natural family- planning methods in various fora, without, however, infringing on the right of other individuals who may hold a different view and on their access to the other family-planning methods allowed by law.”

“Are you happy now?” asked my prolife friend from Alabang.

“Yes,” I replied. “Muntinlupa City did the right thing. The barangay ordinance violated the constitutional rights of Alabang residents, both Catholics and non-Catholics, so it had to be struck down.”

He looked at me like I was the antichrist. I told him the Alabang ordinance would be okay if the Philippines were a theocratic state run by the Catholic Church.

“What do you have against the Catholic Church?” he asked.

“Nothing,” I replied. “As a matter of fact, I respect the Church’s right to oppose the RH [reproductive health] bill.”

“But you are critical of the bishops who are organizing protest rallies against the RH Bill.”

“No, protest rallies are okay. We live in a democracy. What I’m against is when bishops threaten to overthrow the President if he signs the RH bill into law.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean like Bishop Teodoro Bacani telling a crowd of protesters, ‘Minsan pa lang nangyari sa kasaysayan ng CBCP [Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines] sa loob ng 50 nakaraang taon na nagpahayag ang mga obispong Pilipino na unanimous sila. ’Yun po ay bago mag-Edsa 1, bago mag-people power revolution. We strongly reject the RH bill and we are unanimous….Siguro naman po, mas gugustuhin ni President Aquino na may people power na kakampi niya kaysa kalaban niya.’ I think he crossed the line on that one.”

“We are fighting for what we believe,” he replied.

“Okay, suppose the bill becomes law and you call for the ouster of the President and you succeed, then what will stop you from doing it again to another president who signs a bill that is against your religious beliefs?”

“I doubt if we’ll see another president defying the Church,” he said.

“That’s what scares me, the Philippines becoming a theocratic state.”

“Aren’t you overstating things a bit?” he asked.

“No, because the Church, if it succeeds in toppling a government over an issue involving faith, will henceforth have veto power over matters that it finds un-Catholic. It can set the parameters on what subsequent governments can or cannot do.”

“The Church is the guardian of morals,” he replied.

“Only over Catholics,” I pointed out.

“Well, the Philippines is predominantly Catholic,” he said.

“I know. But it is still a secular democratic republic and it will remain that way unless you rewrite the Constitution and turn the Philippines into a nation with a government of Catholics, for Catholics and by Catholics.”

“You are overextending the issue. Obedient Catholics are only opposing the bill because they are prolife,” he said.

“The bill does not force anyone to use artificial contraceptives. The freedom to choose a family-planning method is not being taken away from anybody so what is your problem?”

“Why don’t you just submit to the wisdom and will of the bishops? They know what is best for all of us,” he said.

“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “That’s what this controversy is all about. What is really at stake here is the moral authority of the Catholic Church over everyone, including non-Catholics.”

Representative Ronald Singson has Resigned

Former House Representative Ronald Singson, who was recently convicted by a Hong Kong court in possession of illegal drugs has resigned. His letter of resignation was received by the House of Representatives.

Image of his resignation letter:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/briankingong/status/42501769183498240″]

Singson resigned as fulfillment to a promise to his father.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ANCALERTS/status/42502218179543040″]

Rethinking Viral Videos

On the 17th of February, 2011, Datu Puti released a one-minute edit of its most recent commercial starring Manny Pacquiao.  While this in and of itself is not unusual, the mechanism through which they chose to do so was – they put it up on YouTube first. My friends from TBWA, the agency that developed the ad, were vocal and persistent in sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.

To say “it went viral” is to understate how quickly my social network feeds became clogged with reposts. This was a bona fide online hit. The dialogue was witty, the subject matter entertaining. My sister posted it to her Facebook feed. So did many of my friends.

(Haven’t seen it? It’s here.

Go watch it; it’s worth your time and effort.)

What follows – and I need to be clear about this – is in no way an indictment of the work that Datu Puti, TBWA, and their unnamed production house have poured into the ad. It’s clear that this is work to be proud of. I liked the ad; the only reason I didn’t put it on my own Facebook Wall and Twitter feed is that most of my network had already reposted it.

There is one thing that bothers me about the video, and it has less to do with the video itself than with how the public received it.

For a great viral video, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of views online.

Let me be clearer: at the time of this writing (noon on 28 February 2011, a full 11 days after it was released), the video has 476,236 views on YouTube. I’ve found two other reposts on YouTube with 47,939 views and 19,843 views respectively. Beyond that… nothing. No Vimeo posts, no Facebook video posts.

The grand total is 544,018 views. Let’s round it up and call it 600,000 views to be on the safe side.

From one perspective, 600,000 views over 11 days is fantastic.

And from another, it’s terrible. We have 22.5 million Facebook user accounts in the country. For a “viral video” to have only 600,000 views says something about how our market responds to Web videos.

This leads me down several avenues of thought:

      1) Regardless of what Yahoo-Nielsen and Universal McCann say, video watching in the country is not as widespread as one would think. I blame user experience for this – I typically wait fifteen to twenty minutes to buffer a three minute video. An hourlong Webcast I subscribe to takes around five hours to load (at home, on my less congested Internet connection, it takes just two and a half.)

      The “video on demand” paradigm breaks down in the face of Third World Internet. After all, the Internet is full of distractions, and the user presented with a choice between waiting for a video to buffer and the chance to see something interesting right now will usually choose to be distracted right now. Also, time and bandwidth are finite and costly. If we want users to wait for videos to buffer, we need to provide incentives – something most agencies and advertisers don’t consider when they deploy Web videos.

      2) This opens up further questions. If Filipinos are watching videos online, what, exactly, are people watching, if not content developed for this market? How many videos do they consume in a session? How long are the videos they watch? How long do they wait for videos to load?

      And how do we get answers to these questions?

      3) The numbers aside, I can’t fault TBWA and Datu Puti for their strategy. They already had the TVC. Putting it online was a cost-effective way to maximize it. They didn’t need to shoot additional footage or develop new content for this video.

      I also need to point out that there are audiences online that cannot be reached any other way, who would not otherwise have seen the ad on television. After all, you can’t see the ads that come with TV shows if you don’t watch television. The advent of BitTorrent – merely the most recent iteration of peer-to-peer file sharing technology – has virtually ensured that a particular segment of the market no longer has a need for “appointment TV.”

      If I had a TVC, I would seed it online for exactly these reasons – to maximize the investment in the ad and to reach these online-only audiences.

      4) That said, for a viral video to actually “go viral”, marketers need to provide reasons for people to share it. The Pacquiao video provided these reasons as part of its content – it was amusing and topical. Many Web videos fail to be spread because they’re not interesting or engaging enough.

      Content that says “please forward” sounds desperate but sometimes works. As the discipline of digital marketing matures, I expect we’ll see more and more sophisticated mechanisms to get people to share content online.

      5) There is no easy justification for campaigns that rely on Web-only video. Compared to other online marketing tactics, Web video is expensive and not particularly engaging. Social media marketing can cover most of the online market, which makes Web video a costly adjunct to a social media marketing campaign, at best. This bodes poorly for Web video efforts like Flippish.com.

      6) Lately I’ve come to suspect that there are huge differences between how the different socio-economic classes use their online time and access. One of the key differences between these groups is likely to be video consumption. I strongly suspect that more affluent people view more videos online per session (and go online more times in the same span of time). This is another instance where what is obvious is, sadly, not supported by research – there is no published research that supports this behavioral split between the socio-economic classes. On the other hand, there is no research that debunks it, either.

    Does it sound obvious? It does to me, too. But verifying or debunking this theory has real implications for marketing strategy and audience segmentation.

    These criticisms aside, there is no doubt in my mind that Web videos are here to stay. There’s too much investment in them, for one thing – and in many cases the presence of money, interest and opportunities often precede a shift in market behavior. The next Datu Puti commercial may garner well over a million views – I simply don’t know. Pointing out what’s happening in the present is far easier, after all, than predicting the future.

    For the time being, though, the challenge remains: in a country of over 22 million Internet users, how can an online marketing campaign reach a significant portion of this audience? It seems that even Manny Pacquiao, formidable as he is, couldn’t provide the answer.

    ###

    @mannyneps is a digital marketing specialist with a top ten ad agency in Metro Manila.  He is frequently wrong.  This no longer embarrasses him.

    Rethinking Viral Videos,” was originally published on Manny’s Still Wrong and is republished here with permission.