Skin in the game

This week has been filled with about the same thing. Bong started his song, and gave us a yarn of amazing stories, which the Philippine Daily Inquirer called, “a mockery, and an insult“. Jinggoy took to the podium to proclaim his innocence, and to say sorry to his kids, to plead that they not pay the sins of their father, while dragging them in front of national television to cultivate a sense of mercy. Then there was Representative Abigail Binay in the halls of Congress saying her family is not corrupt, and to prove it, she points to Makati— their fiefdom— an example of what their family has done, and can do. They were not corrupt, because corrupt people leave the country impoverished. Well, that’s the Binay story.

There is a time and place for everything, Proverbs said. I don’t know what Ateneo de Naga has been teaching its students. In La Salle we were taught to be courteous. Em Mijares, a 4th year, 19 year old psychology student at Ateneo de Naga was arrested by the Presidential Security Group, and charged.

Em Mijares was protesting for “Edukasyon para sa Lahat” (Translation: Education for all). The irony, the Government under President Aquino has been focused on education for all, through the K-to-12 system. Its goal is strengthen early childhood education, among other things. It has been using CCT programs (Pangtawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) to help impoverished family get a leg up. Both programs have their critics, and arguments for and against.

Much has been said about this young Atenean. Much has been said how “improper” the response was of this government. How heavy handed it was in having this young heckler arrested, and charged.

Perhaps, they are right. Perhaps, a slap on the wrist would be all right. Jego says the penalty is a minimum 200 pesos.

Perhaps, as Jester puts it— the problem was with the police, and the uneven enforcement of the law. Once, in the beginning, another hooligan disrupted an event the President was in. Correct me, if I am wrong— he was freed wasn’t he? And so you have these protesters thinking they can do whatever shenanigans that they want without fear. Maximum tolerance, remember?

I have been thinking about it, and my problem with this, it goes back to the theme— “Bakit kami lang? Bakit hindi sila?”

The President, and his men have exercised maximum tolerance. Protests are allowed on the street, no matter how inane what they are protesting about. Even when the President says, he shares their point of view, because that’s the nature of his administration. Because, you know, that’s democracy.

Protests are allowed online. Memes, and Facebook sites have pop’d and mushroomed publishing all sorts of material. Some historical revisionist, some in the spirit of protesting for protesting’s sake. Because, you know, that’s the nature of democracy.

People are allowed to say anything, no matter how idiotic, or moronic it maybe. Just as Bong, and Jinggoy have the right to privileged speech, members of the public have a right to exercise their grievance. And they have. Just this week, protests have been around calling for pork users to be jailed.

When does the right to protest disrupt a celebration of the day of independence?

The long standing problem— one that many in the public share is a single blindness to uncivilly. Online, and offline, yes, you may disagree with Noynoy Aquino the man, but where does that disagreement end, and respect for the office begin? Where does the disagreement between a point of view end, and disagreement with a person begin? It is a common problem really. We take things too personally. Whether it is public officials, or people on twitter, or on Facebook or on blog comments.

There was a photo of Jinggoy Estrada, and DOJ secretary Leila de Lima shaking hands. Some may call it plastic, personally it was nice to see people excising some civility. Smile and shake hands when someone holds it out. You know, simple courtesy never hurt anyone.

Does Mijares warrant being charged with a crime? Art 153 is:

Art. 153. Tumults and other disturbance of public orders; Tumultuous disturbance or interruption liable to cause disturbance. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause any serious disturbance in a public place, office, or establishment, or shall interrupt or disturb public performances, functions or gatherings, or peaceful meetings, if the act is not included in the provisions of Articles 131 and 132.

The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed upon persons causing any disturbance or interruption of a tumultuous character.

The disturbance or interruption shall be deemed to be tumultuous if caused by more than three persons who are armed or provided with means of violence.

The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who in any meeting, association, or public place, shall make any outcry tending to incite rebellion or sedition or in such place shall display placards or emblems which provoke a disturbance of the public order.

The penalty of arresto menor and a fine not to exceed P200 pesos shall be imposed upon these persons who in violation of the provisions contained in the last clause of Article 85, shall bury with pomp the body of a person who has been legally executed.

A hundred sixteen years ago, Filipinos bought freedom, and independence with blood, toil, sweat and tears. Many died. Some by the hand of our overlords. Men like Rizal. Some died by our own forefathers’ hand. Men like Bonifacio.

That freedom would be short-lived, but the flame of that dream lived on even as new masters would take Spain’s place. It would be decades, and only after fighting yet another foreign power for freedom— not just our own land, but be in the same corner as the Allied Forces in the fight for freedom across the world would we, as a people, gain a nation, again.

There is a phrase for it— skin in the game.

Do people really think that protesting— for whatever cause doesn’t have any consequence? That we can achieve something that we want without sweating it out? That if we break the law— no matter if in our mind it is for a good cause— wouldn’t hurt us at all? That there is no price to pay?

@ceso thinks there are parallels to Em Mijares and Carlos Celdran’s case. Jego says it is difficult to compare. Both are charged with different crimes. The latter was sued by the Church for hurting religious feelings. The difference between Mijares, and Celdran’s case— the former raised his flag to heckle, and the latter raised his flag for a far, far worthy cause, which was the reproductive health law. In Celdran’s case, I believe he also apologized.

If you’ve ever had to meet and talk to a member of the Presidential Security Group, they are pretty courteous. They also take security very seriously. They are professionals. If you’ve ever had a chance to meet and talk to a member of the Secret Service, they are even more courteous, and take security, very, very seriously.

Bakit cya lang? Bakit kami lang?

Em Mijares got caught.

Juan Ponce Enrile got caught.

Bong Revila got caught.

Jinggoy Estrada got caught.

Janet Lim Napoles got caught.

Bakit hindi lang sila?

Sometimes people get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and those are the breaks. If you ever go to a protest, and not expect to be arrested, that’s kind of silly isn’t it?

Juliet S. Alipa pointed to this Badjao boy named Raymond Amil. He is now a licensed teacher. Good for him, isn’t it?

We can argue all we want about the righteousness or lack thereof, or how these cases could have been handled differently. The only thing left to do is for these people to hire lawyers, if they haven’t already, and get their day in court, because they are innocent until otherwise said. Fight.

No matter where you stand— for or against— what happened to Mr. Mijares; to Revilla, Estrada, Mrs. Napoles and so many others, there are consequences. For ever action, there is an equal reaction. Sometimes they are good consequences. Sometimes you get hit with the most idiotic consequences. Sometimes you do good, and you go to jail like Rizal did. Sometimes you do evil, and you earn penthouses at the Ritz, and you get to sleep with beautiful women. But everything catches up, one way or another.

To rave, and rage at the unfairness of it all, is human, but men and women of conviction stand by theirs. Our forefathers did. They bought skin in the game, and in so doing, they paid for democracy, freedom, and independence— even for hooligans who heckle. There are far, better ways to engage, and create opportunities, and for education for all. Whether it is in the highbrow of policy, or in the street level it is challenging for all.

Some men like Em Mijares, Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, and Mrs. Napoles you wish them the best of luck, and good lawyers, because that’s how civil people are, and how this democracy works: innocent until proven guilty. Some men like Rayond Amil should be celebrated for his contribution. He put his sweat and tears to be a licensed teacher. To make something of himself. To be better in his own way. That’s how you pay our forefathers for their skin in the game, an inspiration to us all by throwing in your own skin in the game.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • Gotta correct myself. My info at the time was that the charge was under ART. 155. Either the charge was subsequently upgraded or my source was wrong; unfortunately I can no longer find the link to the article I had read. So, no, the fine isn’t just P200. Apologies. =)

  • Man, I wish every kid in school could read this article. Freedom does not mean “anything goes”. It includes a responsibility for what is good for others, for the nation. You don’t walk into an auditorium and yell “fire”, and you don’t stand up and confront the President in a way that could be misconstrued as threatening. This is not a problem unique to the Philippines, I think. America is disintegrating into a bunch of stoneheaded yahoos who use the internet and public media to make extreme views seem larger than they are. They stir up hate, and it is tiresome. Not to mention, dangerous. Civility is important. We ought to work harder at displaying it.

    • joji

      Joe, libertarian will always argue the “right to disssent” is a constitutional right but the right to “disrespect a public official”,more so if he is the head of the country, is a matter of moral standard.