Author Archives: Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

About Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado , a multi-awarded blogger and often known as @momblogger , advocates constructive engagement in issues on family and society. She is a prime time woman, a mother to three children and wife to her college sweetheart. Having fun and taking on more challenges is evident in the posts of her four blogs: parenting, food & recipes, Lifestyle and emerging media. She nurtures both her family and community in order to secure her children’s future and that of others. Disclosure: Organization affiliation include Scrap Pork Network. Family friends with Senator Pia Cayetano , Senator Alan P. Cayetano and Congressman Lino Cayetano. As of October 17, 2015 I am supporting Susan Ople for senator just as I did in 2010. I am not voting Bongbong Marcos for Vice President.

social media day 2016

The President and social media

Thursday, 30 June 2016 | Written by
social media day 2016

The news media came out with a pooled editorial where Blog Watch is also a signatory and wished “the incoming administration success in all its endeavors. As journalists and as citizens, we commit not only to do journalism right and better, but also to uphold and defend free speech, free press, free expression, and the people’s right to know.”

What about social media? Let’s start how social media engagement has been under the Aquino administration

Social media off to a good start under President Aquino

Six years ago , when Blog Watch to the President’s inauguration at the Luneta Grandstand and Malacanang Palace, I was quite hopeful with this development. Before this June 30 presidential inauguration, all past Philippine inaugurations were covered solely by traditional media. What now appeared to be a blogging first, if not globally, at least within the Philippine , is that Blog Watch’s accreditation marked the first time that a blogger group is actually allowed, , to cover a presidential inauguration from start to finish.

at-malacanang6Six years ago , when Blog Watch got invited to the President’s inauguration at the Luneta Grandstand and Malacanang Palace, I was quite hopeful with this development. Before this June 30 presidential inauguration, all past Philippine inaugurations were covered solely by traditional media. What now appeared to be a blogging first, if not globally, at least within the Philippine blogosphere, is that Blog Watch’s accreditation marked the first time that a blogger group is actually allowed, officially, to cover a presidential inauguration from start to finish.

Jane Uymatiao added that it “signals a paradigm shift and acknowledges the growing role that bloggers can play in good governance and reportage. Second, it reinforces my own hope that the incoming administration is walking the talk about transparency and openness. After all, bloggers potentially would have diverse opinions on different issues and the Aquino administration has all the opportunity to listen to a group of citizens (young and wise in years) who will call it as they see it.”

Social media engagement after the Aquino Inaugural

Since the June 30 inaugural and our interview with then Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino in February 2010, attempts to communicate and engage directly with the President was often met with silence. I got a reply once but I was told the President was busy. This came shortly after he was accused of “noynoying”. Proposals to initiate a twitter town hall meeting and a yearly coffee chat never got a reply.


We got invites to attend the some Palace events until 2013 and  even got to meet Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma in August 2014 . There was a short meeting with Communications Secretary Manolo Quezon to discuss social media during disasters. All of these encounters were brief without follow-ups.  In fairness to the Communications office, the @PCDSPO (Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office) on twitter occasionally replied to our queries and even coordinated with some of us during disasters. We are also a witness to the rise of government agencies engaging in social media such as the @MMDA, @OmbudsmanPH, @DPWHph and even the spokespersons like Manolo Quezon (@mlq3) and Abi Valte. But there was no clear communication lines.

 Social media under President Duterte

On June 12, 2016, I received a message from Presidential Communication Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar, that he is “looking at opening the malacanang press office to credible bloggers” and if I could bring a few bloggers to exploratory talks. This is an interesting development. Aside from possible accreditation, I looked forward to his major plans and discussion of our ideas.

exploratory talks with bloggers

We will discuss more in the following weeks . Right now, plans are monthly discussion with the Communications secretary. There are many things to consider if bloggers and social media will play a more relevant role compared to the Aquino administration. As more Filipinos join social networks, the expectation has increased for government engagement across a variety of web-based, social platforms. It is now a question of HOW our government is using social media by keeping in touch with the trends of government communications applicable in the Philippine setting. The government has to build a two-way communication process through its social media accounts by:

  1. responding in a “human being” scale of time
  2. putting information where people are looking
  3. constantly seeking meaningful feedback
  4. delivering services when and how they are needed
  5. acting like it is operated by a human being .

Social Media Day adapts the theme #TayoPH

The power of social media lies in the virtual and real life connection. As the netizens celebrate Social Media day today, let me just remind our government to focus on how to be social, not on how to do social. The government can consider the trends for 2016 like improving the citizen experience .

improve the citizen experience

“In light of the recent negativity that has flooded our newsfeeds these past months,  Social Media Day adapts the theme #TayoPH, which stands as a  virtual call to action and a celebration of how social media has become a potent tool that can bridge, give a voice and empower. It is a clarion call to stand together as a people. To rebuild, reconnect, reboot, refriend. It’s time to make the conversation positive and productive again. To celebrate social media’s triumphs and recall its potential — harnessing social media’s strengths in bringing people together, in crossing boundaries, and merging divides.”

social media day 2016

Rising expectations and an increasingly mobile population make it challenging to reach and engage the Filipino netizens.  That’s why a citizen-centric digital engagement strategy is vital to helping government organizations connect with its audience, provide critical information and services, and improve the lives of Filipino citizens. Social media will play a big role in the Duterte administration as we continue to remain vigilant.

Stock Photos from Blog Watch. Some rights reserved.


A participative citizenry needs freedom of information

Friday, 10 June 2016 | Written by
 Teachers serve on national  election polling site by role-playing poll workers with specific duties started 6:00 am  towards to the end of vote counting.  Philippine Online Chronicles image / Photograph by EddCastro. May 9, 2016. Bagong Silangan , Quezon City.

Teachers serve on national election polling site by role-playing poll workers with specific duties started 6:00 am towards to the end of vote counting. Philippine Online Chronicles image / Photograph by EddCastro. May 9, 2016. Bagong Silangan , Quezon City.

I did not get to vote for a presidential candidate because I was not satisfied with any of their qualifications. I comforted myself with the thought that no matter who the president and the other leaders will be, I will continue to be vigilant as our country moves through a difficult transition to democratic restoration and economic recovery.

As project editor for Blog Watch, I ensured that our goals are not   limited to voters education. We are committed to continue on as a watchdog for good governance beyond election day. I believe that it is time citizens all stood up and do their share . Stand up and be counted. it is an opportunity for us to shout out not only to our leaders for the rest of the world that we have enough and really do want change. It has to be a participative citizenry. We don’t live up to the true meaning of liberal democracy.

There is only one power that can face and surmount the misuse and abuse of the powers of the presidency and that is the power of an aware, vigilant, organized citizenry. It also needs the cooperation of branches of government like the legislature and the judiciary. Checks and balances are already built in the constitution but it has been corrupted time and time again because there are no specific mechanisms of transparency especially for ordinary citizens like you and me in the flow of information.

Transparency is necessary for good governance

A need for intelligent and informed decision must be based on facts. These facts can be available to us if we have access to information about how things are run in government.   What’s this basis? What are the contracts. What are the finances?

One of the things that foster corruption is a culture where whistleblowers are given a difficult time by the powers that be. They are harassed, bribed or threatened.   It is important to give force to the right of the public to know as guaranteed by the constitution.

Section 7 of the Bill of Rights says:

The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law”

-Section 7, Article 3, 1987 Constitution

This right is meant to ensure transparency in government. These are just empty words if not given structure and force. We have to give teeth to the constitutional guarantee. Those who violate the right of the people to know should be sanctioned or punished. Corruption breeds in the dark created by the culture of silence.

Involvement of the citizenry in the political process is not limited to elections only. The rut in our system is major. Even if we get the right people elected, we cannot just fold our tarpulin and say “they will change everything”. If citizenry won’t try to know what is happening, nothing will also happen to us.  People need to know how things are being run by those in power and if they see something is wrong, they should be able to bring it to light.

Ignorance of how the government works breeds apathy.

It is common saying that knowledge is power. In this instance, it is literally true. Power must be given back to the people by giving them access to information. The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) “turns on” the right given to every Filipino to go to government and get any piece of information for whatever purpose. It is our right to be informed. This legislation is intended to liberate and empower the people.

A participative citizenry have the Right to know. Right now!

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

What every first-time voter should know: A guide to the 2016 elections

Saturday, 30 April 2016 | Written by
Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.



Use #VoteReportPH to report

SMART: 0998-5690898
GLOBE: 0927-4516047
SUN: 0922-373772

kontra daya hotline

The Babae Bantayan ang Eleksyon! (BABAE) Network is not just about claiming our right to vote, but also redefining the electoral content and process including genuine people’s democratic process and advocating the women’s electoral agenda . We should guard our votes against fraud . At stake is our sacred vote, the danger of not counting our voice . The Workers Electoral Watch (We Watch) during the launch of BABAE presented reminders and guidelines for the 2016 Elections.

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Bago Bumoto

    • Suriin ang mga kandidato, ang kanilang plataporma at trackrecord

READ: My score card: which presidential candidate should I vote for on May 9?

READ: Choosing My President: A Mix of Mind, Spirit and Heart

READ: An assessment of policy statements on health, education, Job creation & food

READ: Senatorial bets that might find a spot in your ballot

  • Gumawa ng listahan ng iboboto sa bawat posisyon (kasama ang numero ng kandidato), dalhin ito sa araw ng botohan
  • Alamin ang presinto at ang lugar ng pagbobotohan (polling place)
Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Sa araw ng Eleksyon (Mayo 9):

  • Magdala ng identification card (voter’s ID at iba pa) sa araw ng botohan, dalhin ang listahan ng mga napiling kandidato
  • Hanapin ang room assignment ng presinto
  • Magpakilala sa BEI

faq on automated elections

FAQ on election day
Ano ang balota?

Download your ballot template and practice .

you must copy the Ballot ID on the upper right corner of the ballot on a piece of paper, so that you can copy this Ballot ID on your receipt, in case of complaint. Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

you must copy the Ballot ID on the upper right corner of the ballot on a piece of paper, so that you can copy this Ballot ID on your receipt, in case of complaint. Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

  • Ang balota ay isang mahabang listahan ng lahat ng kandidato sa lahat ng posisyon.
  • Aabot sa 600 pangalan ang nakalista sa balota, 300 sa harap at ang labis dito ay nakalista naman sa likod ng balota
  • 5 talampakan

Tandaan sa pagboto gamit ang Vote Counting Machine (VCM)

READ: Vote counting machines: Can we count on them?

  • Iwasang matupi o malukot ang balota
  • Mag-ingat sa pag-shade. Hindi dapat lumagpas sa hugis oval na mamarkahan
  • Iwasang masulatan/maguhitan ang balota, upang tiyak na tanggapin ng VCM
  • Siguruhin ang pagpili ng kandidato. Hindi maaaring magkamali sa pag-shade
  • Huwag mag-overvote!
  • Tiyakin na ang na-shade na kandidato ang nakita sa screen ng VCM at nai-print sa resibo

Dapat Tandaan

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

  • Bago isubo ang nasagutan/na-shade ang balota, muling rebyuhin ito para matiyak na na-shade ng mabuti ang mga napiling oblong katapat ng kandidato/PL na napili.
  • Tandaan: Iwasan ang aksidenteng pagsulat/pagguhit sa balota labas ng oval, lalo na sa gawing may “bar code “ upang tiyak na tanggapin ng VCM ang inyong balota.
  • Kung sakaling sa unang pagsubo ng balota hindi ito tinanggap ng VCM, maaring ulitin muli. Hanggang apat beses lamang pwedeng isubo ang balota sa VCM. Kung sa pangalawang pagkakataon ay hindi ito tinanggap, ito ay “rejected ballot” na.
  • Kukunin ng BEI ang “rejected ballot” at ilalagay sa A15 Envelope
  • Iulat sa BEI at ipasulat sa minutes, iulat din sa nakatalagang Poll Watcher ang na-reject na ballot
  • Kung ang rejected ballot ay hindi kasalanan ng botante, bibigyan ng replacement ballot ang botante (amended GI)
  • Matapos       maisubo ang balota sa VCM, sisilipin ng botante ang on-screen verification at I-click ang accept (green) o return (red) key.

– kapag mali ang pagbasa, ilalagay lamang sa minutes ng BEI

kontra daya on mismatch

> magpiprint ang Election Officer ng voter receipt, itutupi at gugupitin

> sasabihan ang botante na maaaring I-check ang resibo

> lalagyan ng ink – right forefinger

> ibibigay ang nakatuping resibo

> babasahin ang nakatuping resibo sa receptacle at ihuhulog dito

  • kung mali ang pagbasa ng VCM- magfile ng objection sa BEI, pipirmahan ng botante ang likod ng resibo, isusulat sa minutes ng BEI at I-aatach sa minutes ang resibo, iulat ito sa pollwatcher
  • magta-thumbmark sa Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL) na nasa pangangalaga ng BEI.
  • Lalagyan ng BEI ng indelible ink ang kanang bahagi ng inyong hintuturo. TANDA NA TAPOS NANG BUMOTO.

VCM Errors

Photo via Kontra Daya. Some rights reserved.

Photo via Kontra Daya. Some rights reserved.

1. Undervote

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

Image via Workers Electoral Watch. Some rights reserved.

In this case, the VCM thinks you did not shade any oval, or you shaded an oval with a very tiny mark and so the VCM interpreted your mark as a hesitation mark and not a vote mark. The instruction is to shade the entire oval of the candidate that you are voting for, if you want your vote to be counted. (Dr.Pablo Manalastas, AESWatch)


On your ballot, you voted for Duterte or Binay or Poe, but you receipt says you voted for Roxas.

This is a case of VCM configuration error, a serious error that Comelec has to answer for, and for which the Comelec commissioners should be impeached. This error must NOT happen!!! To explain how this error can happen, you will note that the ovals are at column positions 1, 7, 13, and 19, and row positions 1, 2, 3, etc, up to 55. Also Binay is at row11 column1, Duterte is at row11 column7, etc. When you shade the oval for Duterte at row11 column7, the VCM does not know that you are voting for Duterte. The VCM only knows that you shaded row11 column7. In order to assign this vote to Duterte, the VCM has to be inputted at the very start with configuration data saying which candidate names are at which positions on the ballot. Any error, whether by negligence or by intent, will result in the assignment of vote to the wrong candidate. Errors like this could be avoided if only Comelec allowed the political parties to review the 92,500+ configuration files for all the VCMs. But Comelec did not, and so it should pay for this error with blood.

3. Overvote

On your ballot, you voted for exactly one president, but your receipt says “OVERVOTE”, indicating that you voted for more than one president.

In this case, the dirt accumulating in the VCM scanner because of normal use, caused dirt marks in the ballot image positioned where the ovals are located, to be interpreted as your vote marks. The VCM now thinks that you voted for more than one president, hence the “OVERVOTE”. All that you can do in this case is complain to the BEI, who should temporarily stop the feeding of ballots into the VCM until she can use a cleaning sheet to clean the VCM scanner.

How to report

In case of any error, you have to complain to the BEI, who must enter your complaint in the Minutes of the precinct. In order to verify if your complaint is valid or not, Comelec needs to compare your original ballot to your receipt, so before you feed your ballot to the VCM, you must copy the Ballot ID on the upper right corner of the ballot on a piece of paper, so that you can copy this Ballot ID on your receipt, in case of complaint.

  • BAWAL ILABAS ng presinto ANG VOTE RECEIPT, balota, folder, marking pen (election offense)

Ang ating tungkulin bilang botante

  • Alamin ang kandidato at ang kanilang plataporma
  • Alamin kung pang-ilang numero sa listahan ang inyong mga kandidato. Bentahe ito para sa mabilis na pagboto.
  • Alamin ang clustering of precincts sa lugar
  • Maging pamilyar sa gagamiting pamamaraan sa pagboto sa inyong lugar (computerized man ito o manwal). Mahalaga ito para hindi malito sa araw ng botohan, dahil ayon sa COMELEC, magmanwal man o mag-computerized, bago na ang balotang gagamitin.
  • Makipag-ugnayan lagi sa lokal na Comelec, alamin ang kalendaryo sa eleksyon at magiging mga panuntunan at ilalabas.
  • Aktibong lumahok, maki-alam
  • Maging boluntir o kasapi ng mga organisasyon, o institusyon na nagdadala ng interes at plataporma ng mamamayan.
  • Mangampanya para sa mga karapat-dapat na kandidato
  • Kailangang maging mapagbantay at maging handa sa anumang sitwasyong idudulot ng AES.
  • Upang matiyak na hindi madaya ang kandidatong ating ibinoto, maging aktibo sa pagkampanya       sa transparency ng AES at       pagbabantay sa eleksyon.

Precint Monitoring Guide: How to report / What to report

To report , use hashtag #VoteReportPH

SMART: 0998-5690898
GLOBE: 0927-4516047
SUN: 0922-373772

2016 Precint Election Monitoring Guide (Tagalog) by

2016 Precint Election Monitoring Guide (English version) by

Screen grab from CNN Philippines. Some rights reserved.

The Dilemma of Voting for a Vice President

Friday, 29 April 2016 | Written by
Screen grab from CNN Philippines. Some rights reserved.

The weather isn’t the only thing that’s scorching hot this season.

With the 2016 Elections coming in a week’s time, the temperature is on the rise as candidates double their campaign efforts. CNN Philippines’ PiliPinas Vice Presidential Debates held a few weeks back gave Filipinos a good look at those vying for the second highest position in the country. Some have been mainstays in the political arena, while some are entering the scene with a fresh pair of eyes.

Screen grab from CNN Philippines. Some rights reserved.

Screen grab from CNN Philippines. Some rights reserved.

The role of vice president, generally in organizations, is like the role of a first runner up in a pageant. He or she is the successor to the president should anything happen to him or her within the term given. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution:

“Section 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with, and in the same manner, as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President. (cralaw)

The Vice-President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet. Such appointment requires no confirmation. (cra law)”

With no other constitutionally mandated roles and functions, the vice president indeed becomes the “spare tire” of the president. His job and role will depend on what the president will want him or her to do.

A disjointed pairing

Generally, one would wonder why vice presidential candidates would campaign so loudly given that the position is but a “spare tire”. Originally, according to UP professor Randy David, the vice president’s role is usually given to running mate of the elected president. Such is the case of the United States where the Philippine Constitution got its framework from. However, in our country, vice presidents that are elected may come from the opposing party of the elected president. And this has happened several times in our political history including the pairing of BS Aquino and Jejomar Binay.

Binay, who held office at the Coconut Palace, was given the role to lead several government agencies by President Aquino. He was in charge of the agencies related to employee welfare like OWWA, POEA, and DOLE. The National Housing Authority was also under him. A total of 12 government agencies are under the Office of the Vice President. Binay’s VP functions have been stated in five key points:

  1. Executive function
  2. Ceremonial function
  3. Advisory function
  4. Constituency function
  5. Administrative function

The role of vice president in previous administrations though were not as heavily involved as they are now. David cites the case of former President Carlos P. Garcia and VP Diosdado Macapagal. Both came from opposing parties and as such, Macapagal was not given any position in the cabinet. The result was that Macapagal instead rallied into a four-year campaign for presidency. The headstart won him the top position in the election that followed. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over as President in January 2001 when then Joseph Estrada was forced out of office, and was voted for a 6-year term after that.

This interesting set up now calls for a more critical reflection on who to vote for as VP. Obviously, the position will provide assistance to the president and it is a strategic position for the presidency. To serve the country or to serve one’s self hangs in the balance of this role. Voters must also consider the effectivity of a VP candidate when paired or not paired with their running mate. If we follow the conventions of the American electoral system, then we should vote for the running mate of the presidential candidate we want.

Image via Some rights reserved.

Image via Some rights reserved.

Recent polls however show that this is not the case. Duterte is leading the surveys while Robredo leads as VP. Poe and Marcos both come in at 2nd. Duterte’s running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano lags behind at 4th or 5th place while Robredo’s president, Mar Roxas trails behind Binay at 4th.

For the information of voters, below are some tidbits about the vice presidential candidates based on what makes them appealing to the public, and what questions are raised by critics:

Leni Robredo: Running Mate of Mar Roxas

What people like:

  • Her down-to-earth style of governance, “tsinelas” leadership of her late spouse Hon. Jesse Robredo
  • Her appeal as a single mother to her three children
  • Her simple lifestyle and use of public transportation
  • Her grassroots approach addressing national issues

What people doubt:

  • Her lack of tenure in government
  • Her lack of popularity in many provinces outside her home city of Naga
  • Her young track record as policy maker and politician

Bongbong Marcos: Running Mate of Miriam Defensor-Santiago

What people like:

  • His late father’s legacy
  • His projects and programs on clean energy in Ilocos Province
  • His appeal to Ilocanos and Warays
  • His promise to bring back the ‘glory days’ of the country during the Marcos period

What people doubt:

  • His family’s dark history of political abuse and plunder
  • His capacity to recover the stolen wealth of his family
  • His identity as the real son of the late President Marcos
  • His intention to serve the people versus preparing for the presidency

Alan Peter Cayetano: Running Mate of Rodrigo Duterte

What people like:

  • His late father’s legacy
  • His efforts to govern Taguig
  • His accomplishments as a policy maker
  • His strong stance against corruption in government

What people doubt:

  • His capacity to be more diplomatic and less critical
  • His anti-corruption stance, might be more politically-driven
  • His promises that crime will be suppressed in the first six months

Antonio Trillanes IV: No Presidential Running Mate

What people like:

  • His bravery during the Oakwood Mutiny
  • His stance against corruption in government and in military service
  • His dashing looks
  • His exposes against corrupt officials

What people doubt:

  • His capacity to lead beyond exposing corrupt officials
  • His capacity to support the president given that he has no running mate

Gregorio Honasan: Running Mate of Jejomar Binay

What people like:

  • His role in the first People Power Revolution
  • His long experience in politics
  • His principles and beliefs in leading the nation

What people doubt:

  • His president and his dubious record on corruption and political dynasties
  • His true intentions as he planned to depose Corazon Aquino through coup d’etats

Given the profiles of each VP candidate, it is important to critically think not only of their platforms and good looks, but also how they can really support the president if they win. Let us pick a vice president who will think of serving the country first rather than using the position to fulfill the ambition for presidency.


2016 who to vote for president

My score card: which presidential candidate should I vote for on May 9?

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 | Written by
2016 who to vote for president

Updated April 27 (Under mandatory requirement, I added Duterte as tainted with corruption because of this COA report on Duterte contractual employees and this report that Duterte didn’t declare P211M in SALN. His action plan is not clear based on his performance at the Final Presidential debates .

(Download the voting matrix excel file here or you can use my decision analysis matrix and add your own scores)

“Who are you voting for?” is a question my friends and relatives often ask me. The same question was asked in the last presidential election and I shared my short list of presidential candidates. I am still undecided so I decided to work on a decision analysis matrix.

Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News. Some rights reserved.

Decide on a selection criteria

I usually tell my friends that I cannot publicly endorse a candidate as editor of Blog Watch. Yes, I can come out with a “consider list” based on selection criteria : coherent platform, clear vision, character and competence . But see, each one of us determines a criteria which can be classified as WANTS and MUSTS based on one’s beliefs.

I decided to create this “consider list” as a bit of exercise and make it more quantifiable by creating a score card and a set of criteria based on personal knowledge, information gathered from interviews, forums, and other research materials on the candidate’s website.

Kepner-Tregoe methodology

The Kepner-Tregnoe appealed to me more since it forced me to take stock, to review the candidates, to find out more information, to do research, to verify and validate information about the candidates:

1 . what they want to do;
2 . what they have already done;
3. what they have accomplished; and
4. what they want to accomplish.

and score accordingly.

An application of Kepner-Tregoe methodology in selecting a candidate for the 2010 Philippine Presidential elections was first shown to me by BongV of the Anti-Pinoy website . BongV created this voting matrix. You can check the decision matrix I did in the 2010 presidential elections. My short list in 2010 was Dick Gordon, Manny Villar and Gibo Teodoro. I was definitely No to Noynoy Aquino.

My decision matrix analysis

(Download the voting matrix excel file here)

Remember that my criteria may not be applicable to your own set of beliefs. It is best to make your own decision matrix.

This is how I did mine:

  1. I decided on my mandatory requirement list which meant that any candidate must meet these criteria in order to be considered for a position. It was important that the character of my candidate must be consistent with their plans. For me, a candidate should not be tainted with corruption (alleged or proven) , must uphold human rights, have a plan of action and is competent to run a country.The final presidential debates showed that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte does not have a clear action plan. Duterte “neither had a clear grasp of issues nor a program of action on how to address various problems confronting the country.” Upholding human rights is important to me. I am not comfortable with Duterte’s human right violations and extra-judicial killings. . Duterte is also tainted with corruption because of this report : COA report on Duterte contractual employees . Vice President Jojo Binay is also tainted with corruption.
  2. The desirable qualities meant that once the candidate has met the Mandatory Objectives then he/she can be viewed and rated as to how well he/she meets the Desirable Objectives, which have been prioritized on a 1-10 (Low-High) scale.

My desired critieria is based on the greater good, the needs of the Filipino people . A survey conducted by Pulse Asia back in December 2015 found that health was the leading personal concern among voters with 62% of respondents saying staying healthy and free of illness was a most urgent personal concern of theirs, ahead of finishing school or providing an education for their children (48%), securing a well-paying job or source of income (43%), and having enough to eat everyday (41%). Blog Watch analyzed the policies of these four key concerns. You may read them first:

Health: Why Health Should Be the Defining Election Issue of 2016

Education: Assessing the Candidates on Education

Job creation: Screening the Candidates on Job Creation

Food security : Weighing up the Candidates on Food Security

A comparison was done on what the candidates offered in terms of a policy response to what the experts have advised. The author of the above articles did not consider the platforms of Miriam Santiago but I did my own research on her health, education, job creation and food security policies. Their stand on climate change was important to me.

Of course, you can have your own set of election issues.

  1. In computing the final score, the weighted score is the product of a Desired Criteria’s weight and the raw score that I indicated . When all the Desired Criteria are tallied, I compared the total points of each candidate. The candidate who meets all the MUST criteria and has the highest score is most likely the logical choice.

Here is the result (click to enlarge)

2016 who to vote for president

Based on my decision analysis matrix and the removal of two candidates that did not meet my mandatory requirement , my consider list is as follows:

Santiago : 446
Roxas : 353
Poe: 327

It is interesting to note that Vice-President Binay got high scores in the desired criteria. His action plans are workable but I cannot take  the allegations of corruption surrounding him. I know he is innocent until proven guilty but the facts just doesn’t compute.

Gut feel is important too

I want to add another factor that is not quantifiable. Gut feel. This is where character of the candidate comes in. I just know when he/she is the one when election day arrives. I will decide on my candidate by combining the results of the voting matrix and gut feel.

As of this writing, it is 13 days till May 9 . The voting matrix may change if something drastic happens to affect my decision or I missed certain facts. News about these candidates including mudslinging and other black propaganda will most likely intensify. I need to filter this information in the days to follow.

My consider list is not final

Is my assessment accurate? I believe it is accurate as of today, unless other facts contradict my analysis.

Will I vote for Senator Miriam Santiago, or Mar Roxas or Senator Grace Poe? With the health issues of Santiago , is she still the best candidate? Should I get a strong vice-presidential candidate if I choose Santiago? I have actually narrowed my decision to two candidates.

I don’t want to appear partisan. Some readers can’t distinguish me, as the voter and me, the editor. This is not about who I will vote for. The exercise of the voting matrix is to illustrate that YOU need to base your decision on a rational informed-based process. Try to do the same. Download the voting matrix excel file here or you can use my decision analysis matrix and add your own scores)

ivote iwatch invite
Let’s continue to be vigilant

Our duty as a citizen doesn’t end on May 9.My friend , Jane Uymatiao says it so well . “If your candidates win, I hope you continue watching them. As passionate as you are in supporting them now, be as passionate in watching all of them afterwards.

As vocal as you are now about their virtues and skills, be ready to be as vocal about their shortcomings if they stray from good governance once elected.

It cuts both ways.”

Whoever wins in a clean and fair election, I will respect the people’s choice but let us all work together to make our future president attain the goals for our country.

Other sites that will help you choose a presidential candidate.

PiPOLL app (Instead of getting lost in all the propaganda and rhetoric, we want to ask YOU where YOU stand on the issues — and after which, we will show which candidates share your views. )

Matrix of the 2016 Senatorial candidates


5 transformations needed in the Philippines

Saturday, 23 April 2016 | Written by

By Emmanuel Doy Santos


At election time, candidates like to talk of change.Sobra na, tama na, palitan na! Tunay na pagbabago! are frequently used slogans. But why is it that the more things change, the more they stay the same? Could it be that elections in the Philippines are mostly about a change in personalities, with no real change agenda? Here are five types of change that if pursued correctly would truly transform lives in the Philippines.

Agricultural transformation

The Philippines will not transform itself into a prosperous economy unless our agricultural smallholders are transformed from subsistence farmers planting traditional crops into self-reliant producers of high value varieties.  A large share of our labor pool (around 31%) is still employed in agriculture which accounts for only 11% of the economy.

Improving farm productivity and earnings is the first transformation needed in the Philippines. East Asian industrialization was built on the foundation of a productive farm sector. The Philippines has lagged behind other countries like China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in promoting growth in agriculture.

Investments are needed in research and development, technology, human resources, transport and rural infrastructure, supported by a sound legal environment that ensures contract enforcement and secures land rights. Government has to overcome its urban bias and support the sector, while moving from price subsidies to providing better social safety nets and services.

Industrial transformation


Growth without industrial transformation will only lead to a situation where households sit precariously above the poverty line, at risk of falling below it. Industry, and manufacturing in particular, has the capacity to offer high paying jobs for the broad, semi-skilled sections of the labor force.

Manufacturing not only has more linkages to other sectors of the economy, the jobs from it pay a lot more and add greater value to the economy compared to jobs in agriculture or services. To remain competitive, the sector has to upgrade itself, diversify and move up the value chain. It needs to avoid a ‘race to the bottom’ through contractualization and lax safety and environmental standards. The manufacturing renaissance that is occurring of late has to be accelerated even further to produce more inclusive growth.

Governance mechanisms needs to be developed whereby government is able to identify sub-sectors, in which there is a ‘revealed comparative advantage’, and encourage players to move into related products and services requiring similar productive capabilities. Labor market institutions could be developed that would provide ‘flexicurity’ that would give employers flexibility in hiring, while giving stability of incomes and employment to workers.

Energy transformation

As one of the most vulnerable countries to severe weather occurrences brought about by climate change, the Philippines needs to transition to a low carbon economy. It is projected to have the most carbon intensive energy mix in Asia by 2020 with about 56% of its power generated by coal fired power plants (up from 42.5% currently and 32% at year-end 2014) . This would be a consequence of the 23 coal plants that are going to be operational within the next five years to meet growing demand. In Luzon alone, coal would account for 75% of the energy mix by 2020. This will pose significant risks to health and the environment.

The current share of renewable sources of energy (geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and solar) is 25%, down from 32% of installed capacity at year-end 2014, and 26% is derived from gas up from 16% at year-end 2014, sourced from Malampaya, which will be depleted by 2024. Projects to import liquefied natural gas have been delayed. The use of coal to meet intermediate needs will become uneconomical due to low utilization, leading to inadequate recovery of investments.

A proper energy policy framework needs to be put in place that would factor in the mitigation cost of carbon emissions and meet the expected energy requirements of the country. This policy framework has to include the transport sector, which is the biggest energy consuming sector. Fuel diversification through biofuels and natural gas, and the propagation of electric vehicles needs to be pursued vigorously by government in the years ahead, supported by a comprehensive transport and land use plan.


Between 2016 and 2050 the median age of the Philippines will rise from 24 years to 32 years, with the youth dependency ratio expected to fall from 1:2 to 1:3 during this time. Rather than 1 out of every 2 being in the workforce, there will be two out of every 3 Filipinos looking for work. This means more people potentially earning and contributing to the economy.

This ‘demographic dividend’ may only be reaped if we concentrate efforts in improving the availability, accessibility and quality of social services designed to build our human capital. Only by investing in our people, giving them equal opportunity to pursue their ambitions, can Philippine society become more inclusive.

This would mean providing well-targeted social insurance to families living below the poverty line to improve their nutritional intake and keep their children in school. The current program needs to improve its target mechanisms that currently allows non-poor households to make up to 30% of recipients. It also means addressing the gaps in health, education, housing and sanitation services.

Political transformation


The Philippine government, from its inception has been dominated by an aristocratic ruling class. Of the 178 dominant political families that occupied elective office in 2010, 100 or 56% were from wealthy landed elites, while 78 or 44% rose after the first EDSA people power uprising of 1986. These families occupied 68% of the seats in the house of representatives and 80% of the senate. About 91% of partylist representatives were millionaires, and 10 of them were from political clans.

About 94% of provinces (73 out of 80) had political dynasties in 2010. Six of these provinces were dominated by a single family. Seventeen provinces had a governor and congressman from the same family (eight of them had only one congressional district). This year, there are 558 candidates running unopposed, to fill national and local positions (there are 1,800 elective positions overall). Of this total, 32 are for congressmen, 215 for city or municipal mayor, 249 for city or municipal vice mayor, 31 for municipal councilor, 12 for governor, 11 for provincial vice-governor and eight for Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

The over-concentration of political power has led to monopolization of ownership in various sectors of the economy, including mining, logging, sugar, tobacco and property development. These families have links to media, banking and finance and tie-ups with local and foreign businesses. With such an incestuous relationship, “regulatory capture” by insiders prevents outsiders from participating in the system. It is time for us to realize that this form of political and economic inbreeding is no longer healthy. It is time to introducepolitical and electoral reforms that would democratize political positions in the country.

The author is a policy analyst, international development consultant and social entrepreneur. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and a Master of Science in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

ivote iwatch invite

Be worthy of your right to vote

Tuesday, 8 March 2016 | Written by
ivote iwatch invite


Elections  are not just about our candidates. It is about us, the electorate, as well. Responsible voters don’t just vote right. They vote responsibly and respond to the challenges that lie beyond their commitment to push for their causes. Responsible voters don’t just  lounge on their couch and watch the evening news. They vigilantly watch the election process and willingly consolidate efforts with those who have the same ideals as them

What does it take to be worthy of your right to vote? What makes a more responsible voter?  These are a few ways to achieve this.

1. Know our candidates well – their complete profile, their political history, their business dealings, etc. How they achieve their present status can show us how competently they will be able to perform as our national leader. Watch the presidential and vice presidential debates on TV, radio or online. You can read the transcript of the First PiliPinas Presidential debate held at Cagayan de Oro.

2. Know their platform of government. This will be a tool to help our economy grow. Don’t be swayed by popularity surveys, by their showbiz supporters, or by their promises alone. Keep in mind that elections is not about popularity, it’s about performance and delivery.

Make it a point to check their platforms if it is clear enough to get us from Point A to Point B.

Their individual platforms can be used to assess

(1) how consistent they are with their party platforms,

(2) how consistent their media exposure chatter is during their campaign, and

(3) how consistently they are performing as their term of office unfolds.


3. Know the criteria for selecting your candidate.

There  are many ways of stating the criteria but I chose to express it in simple words — character, competence, clear vision, and coherent platforms.

  • Coherent Platform- check their platforms if it is clear enough to get us from Point A to B. It should not be just motherhood statements.
  • Character- humility, moral clarity, integrity, decency, transparency, consistency.
  • Competency- intelligence, practicality, energy, decisiveness, a willingness to work hard, leadership, good ideas, track record.
  • Clear Vision – a clear idea of what visions and strategic agenda are needed to transform our country.


4.  Know how to vote in an automated election

Photo via Kontra Daya. Some rights reserved.

Photo via Kontra Daya. Some rights reserved.

They are now called vote counting machines (VCM) and are updated models of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

The VCM features include:

1. A secured source code that makes sure the votes are interpreted correctly
2. An ultraviolet lamp that makes sure no fake ballot is inserted into the machine
3. Digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors, who will certify the poll returns
4. A voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT) that serves as receipt of a person’s votes. The machines are not only able to print a tape receipt but also have touch screen monitors that reflect the votes on the ballot.

5. Know the fair election practices

The Resolution No. 10049 , fair election practices that sets the limits for the use of press, radio, and television facilities for political advertisements. Voters need to be vigilant and take a proactive role in assessing and communicating to Comelec if candidates follow or violate these fair election rules

Implementing Rules and Regulations for RA 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act by COMELECTV

A few of these fair election practices include:

  • Under Section 37 of Resolution No. 10049, the campaigning for candidates by government officials would constitute an “election offense” which is punishable by imprisonment of not less than a year but not more than six years without probation. The erring official shall also be sentenced to disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of his right to vote, in accordance to Sec. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code.
  • Under Section 1, number 4 (e), personal opinions, views and preferences given by government officials will be considered as election campaigning.
  • Prohibited forms of election propaganda materials include newspaper, newsletter, newsweekly, gazette or magazine advertising, pamphlet, leaflet, card, decal, bumper sticker, poster, comic book, circular, handbill, streamer, sample list of candidates, or any published or printed political matter and to air or broadcast any election propaganda or political advertisement by television or radio or on the internet for or against a candidate or group of candidates to any public office, unless they bear and be identified by the reasonably legible, or audible words “political advertisement paid for” followed by the true and correct name and address of the candidate or party for whose benefit the election propaganda was printed or aired.
  • The size of the common poster areas for party-list groups and candidates that are affiliated with a party, are limited to 12 ft. x 16 ft. Independent candidates are only allowed the size of 4 ft. x 6 ft. The size of the individual posters that may be posted in each common poster area is limited to 2 ft. x 3 ft.

6. Know your candidate’s campaign spending

Reso No 9476 – Campaign Finance by COMELECTV

Expenditure limits per registered voter in the constituency a candidate is running are:

      • Php 3.00 – individual candidate supported by political party
      • Php 5.00 – individual candidate not supported or nominated by political party
      • Php 5.00 – Political Parties
      • PhP 10.00 – candidates for President or Vice President

Candidates are prohibited, during campaign period and on the day or before the day of the election, from:

  • Making donations, contributions, or gifts in cash or in kind
  • Undertaking or contributing to, the construction or repair of roads, bridges, school buses, puericulture centers, medical clinics and hospitals, churches or chapels cement pavements, or any structure for public use, or for the use of religious or civic organizations.

We hold these public officers accountable to the people. We need to make sure that our candidates are transparent as to the sources of their campaign money and the true extent of their elections spending as this would impact directly on the candidates’ governance upon assumption to office.(Download the ebook on Basic Guide to the Laws and Rules Governing Election Finance in the Philippines)

7. Share your knowledge. Conduct conversations with other voters especially non-Internet users, your family, relatives, friends, or the stranger standing beside you.

It’s our right to vote but it is also a privilege. Let’s not waste our vote.

8. The duty of a citizen does not end on election day.

ivote iwatch invite

A lot of citizens are very eager to volunteer for voter education organizations by watching the election process, scrutinizing the candidate’s platforms and inviting their community to vote wisely. After the elections, volunteers continue on their daily grind. We want our leaders to be accountable and hold them to their promises. It means taking a stand, often fighting for a certain view on an issue, engaging with lawmakers, movers and shakers, and government agencies.

iVote, iWatch seeks to encourage all Filipinos to go beyond just voting wisely. We must watch. Who do we watch? All of those we elected in office, as well as the people appointed to head different government agencies. It is our civic duty to be participative in nation-building as well as in being a check and balance to those in power.

Let us know if you are interested to volunteer for #juanvote and know more about iVote iWatch.


Blog Watch is a non-profit and purely volunteer organization dedicated to promoting online freedom of expression and access to truthful and accurate information. It is committed to enhancing the capabilities of netizens for positive and principled action.

Blog Watch is composed of independent-minded bloggers and social media users who leverage new technology tools to advocate social change and serve as a nonpartisan citizens’ watchdog and collective conscience for transparency and good governance.

Blog Watch does not solicit, ask for, demand or receive any financial or material remuneration for involvement in its activities, whether in cash or in kind. Blog Watch operates solely on the resources of its members and the sponsorship of individuals and institutions which identities are appropriately and fully disclosed. (Vibal Foundation for content at their Philippine Online Chronicles and Smart Communications as our technology partner in the 2013 elections)

The public is warned that should there be any parties claiming to represent Blog Watch and who ask for any kind of material or other consideration for involvement in Blog Watch undertakings are bogus and should not be entertained. Blog Watch further requests that any suspected fraudulent or illegal activity of this nature be immediately referred to Blog Watch or to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Please contact Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, the editor if you need to verify our roster of volunteer-members and editorial policies at noemidado @ gmail dot com or at contact @ blogwatch. tv.


Enrile’s bombshell a dud, but changes nothing in many discerning citizens’ impression that Aquino is still guilty

Saturday, 30 January 2016 | Written by

Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had a very successful January 27. He successfully fooled the people and the Senate into believing that he had new evidence on the Mamasapano massacre. He successfully wasted seven hours of the Senate’s and people’s time listening to what was supposed to be a bombshell that would more clearly incriminate Aquino on his Mamasapano involvement. He even successfully deceived President Aquino’s team, including the generals who also defended Aquino in the previous hearings that they made obvious preparations to try to counter whatever the nonagenarian senator had in store for them.


Alas, Enrile’s bombshell turned out to be a dud. It was a big relief to the Aquino administration but a major disappointment to those who have been seeking the truth. It’s quite obvious that Aquino is guilty in the botched mission to capture Marwan but there hasn’t been a proof comparable to the “Hello Garci” audio recordings to directly show Aquino’s inaction and the allegation that he issued a stand down order.

The “new” old evidence

Enrile presented no new audio, video, or documentary evidence but merely raised questions that were already asked in the previous hearings. The best his questions did was to try to emphasize how Aquino’s camp, the AFP, and even those in the PNP leadership are doing their best to shield the President. The “evidence” was the old man Enrile himself. Enrile hyped up his supposed introduction of a new evidence days before the actual hearing by doing several media interviews and even making a privilege speech in the Senate only to appear with a completely disappointing “bombshell.” Even the unauthorized recording of the conversation between a cabinet secretary and a senator brought up by retired Chief Superintendent Diosdado Valeroso was not used in the senate hearing.

Old “wiretapped” conversation between cabinet secretary and senator

It appears that the wiretapped audio recording revealed and described by Valeroso as a conversation between a lawmaker and a high-ranking government official is the same audio recording that already appeared on social media and YouTube a year ago. The one on YouTube was even published on April 12, 2015 and already has over 48,000 views. Senator Marcos already acknowledged that it was his voice on that recording last year and he made a more recent acknowledgement again after it resurfaced. Clearly, that recording shows that there is an attempt to mitigate the impact of the Mamasapano massacre on the passing of the BBL but it is old news. Apparently, there is just a fresh attempt to publicize it because it failed to create an impact the first time it was released.

Something new from AFP

If Enrile and Aquino’s detractors failed to show something new during the reopening of the Mamasapano probe, ironically, the AFP leadership was the one that had something new. It was something new to put all the blame to Napeñas even further, to the point of even accusing him of being detached from reality. The Philippine Military even managed to present a slightly blurry photo of Napeñas purportedly smiling and donning civilian clothes while supposedly on an official operation. Napeñas quickly denied that he was smiling on that photo and explained that he was in civilian clothes precisely because they were conducting a covert operation. He said that they used civilian vehicles and were supposedly carefully planning their actions to prevent the MILF, BIFF, and their relatives from learning about what they were doing. Besides, if it was reason enough for the AFP to say that Napeñas was detached from reality because he was allegedly smiling, the same can be said about Col. Feliciano Army’s 601 Brigade who appeared to have a grin on his face.

The AFP presented a video to try to show that they are faultless and to prevent the issue from hounding Aquino once more. On the video, the country’s military officials asserted that their forces were thinly dispersed during the massacre, the SAF deliberately withheld information about the operation and misled the AFP and local PNP forces, the radios used by the SAF and military were not interoperable, the maps used were different, there was no established tactical command post of the SAF, there was no coordination, the SAF was unaware of the AFP’s call for fire procedures and ceasefire protocols, and that there was no tactical plan presented to the AFP.

The bottom line is there was lack of communication and coordination, something that Napeñas already admitted because of the “time on target” nature of his operation. If Napeñas had to be indicted for undertaking that kind of plan, he said he is willing to face the charges but he is firm in his claim that the AFP really refused to help the SAF troopers even when they actually could have done so. It can also be inferred from the AFP’s actuations that they were more concerned about protocols than in saving lives. The reopening of the probe also revived SAF’s Napeñas’ and AFP’s General Pangilinan’s bickering. Senator Honasan chastised the two for exposing the weaknesses of the country’s internal security and defense systems but Enrile argued that he really intended to show how bad the state of the country’s military is, subtly also insinuating that it is so because the country has an incompetent commander-in-chief.

Napeñas still the scapegoat but is now fighting back

Compared to his demeanor in the Mamasapano hearings last year, Napeñas came back in fighting form. During the hearing and in his media interviews before and after, he showed he stands by his “time on target” plan that is perpetually being assailed by the AFP. He asserted that his plan was the only successful plan that finally caught Marwan. He showed that he is the only one who has nothing to hide by being the only one to quickly submit his mobile phone for forensic investigation. He also noted the holes in the AFP’s reason for not firing their artillery earlier, saying that the SAF troopers could have acted as the FO or forward observer and that his coordinates were correct and the map the SAF used was even more detailed than what the military uses.

Moreover, he pointed out that it’s impossible for the military to be unable to accurately pinpoint the right locations considering that they were with US military people who had drones deployed in the area and able to obtain real-time information on the ground. Of note, General Pangilinan has not belied what the Senate committee report on the Mamasapano probe mentioned about him saying, “Do not dictate to me what to do…I am the commander here!” when an American military officer told him to fire the artillery.

Napeñas also said something new about the AFP being compromised. According to him, the US has a drone video showing how the military acted during one operation they had. This is in addition to the list of reasons Napeñas cited before. Also, the fact that President Aquino gave the task of catching Marwan to the SAF instead of the AFP says a lot. He could have given the job to the military and sought the MILF’s cooperation since Marwan was pinpointed to be staying in an MILF-controlled area and Aquino really trusts the MILF as evidenced by the kind of people he appointed at the OPAPP. Why is he even trying to pursue the BBL when he does not even trust the MILF to provide proper cooperation in apprehending a well-known terrorist?

Aquino still guilty in the eyes of discerning citizens

The 7-hour probe reopening sounded tedious and painful to the ears because most of what have been discussed were mere repetitions of what have already been discussed. There were just differences in the way questions were asked and the less restrained answers that came out of the resource persons. However, nothing changes in the fact that President Aquino is still guilty. Everything should be clear now that he was promptly informed about the operation since he was even able to ask about Marwan. Marwan was killed even before the SAF troopers were massacred but Aquino denied that he knew about it and his minions eagerly played along with the lie. As Senator Marcos emphasized, there were text messages from 4:30 AM wherein he was involved but he still insisted on being belatedly informed and even misled or fooled. Why would he lie about that if he were sure he couldn’t be faulted?

Whether Aquino’s critics admit it or not, the reopening of the Senate Mamasapano investigation provided ammunitions for the defense of the President. Aquino’s PR team surely had a glorious January 27 because nothing seriously damaging for the administration came out of it. Most avid Aquino critics even refuse to spin Enrile’s “performance” to make it appear that he really offered something that made impact. Enrile wanted to pin Aquino down but many discerning citizens already know that Aquino is guilty. It’s just unfortunate that there are more who quickly forget about Aquino’s misdeeds (as evidenced by his resurging popularity ratings) perhaps also because of the kind of politics the country has, which forces people to settle with who or what they think is “less evil.”


Highlights of the oral arguments on Grace Poe’s disqualification case at the Supreme Court

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 | Written by

It’s been two days into the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the disqualification (DQ) cases against presidential candidate Grace Llamanzares Poe. So far, it’s still difficult to guess what would eventually happen to Poe’s presidential ambition. Will she ultimately be prevented from running? Will she even be allowed to continue serving as a senator of the Republic?


The following are some of the most noteworthy developments at the Supreme Court oral arguments?

The hypocrisy and senselessness of asking for inhibitions

Earlier, Grace Poe’s camp and her political allies urged the three Senate Election Tribunal (SET) member justices of the Supreme Court to inhibit from the deliberations because they have allegedly already prejudged the case. The three justices eventually decided not to get involved in the case regarding the SET’s decision (Rizalito David’s appeal to reverse the SET decision) but refused to inhibit from the rest of the DQ cases filed against Poe. Poe’s lawyers, however, were careful in wording their “request” for inhibition, as they knew it might create some form of animosity.

It’s worth noting, though, that the calls for inhibition from Poe sounds rather hypocritical considering that Poe herself refuses to inhibit from the reopening of the Mamasapano probe. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and other interested parties asked Poe to not get involved in the probe to avoid partisan politics during the probe. Poe’s spokesperson, however, explained that she couldn’t relinquish her post because her co-chair, the person who would take over the helming of the probe in case she inhibits, is Senator Gringo Honasan, the running mate of VP Binay.

On the other hand, lawyer Estrella Elamparo, one of those who filed DQ cases against Poe, asked Justice Leonen to inhibit from the case because he allegedly demonstrated his bias for Poe. Elamparo particularly highlighted Leonen’s “emotion and personal sentiment,” calling his arguments at the court “a passionate plea” to fellow justices to decide on Poe’s favor.

Poe finds a champion

As expected, the three justices (Arturo Brion, Antonio Carpio, and Teresita Leonardo-de Castro) who have already laid down their decision on the citizenship issue of Grace Poe at the SET asked questions and made statements that were unfavorable to Poe. However, almost nobody expected Aquino’s appointee, Justice Marvic Leonen, to serve as a champion for the “foundling story.” Leonen asked why Poe, a foundling he described to have been unjustly abandoned by her parents, was being required to look for her parents to show her proof that the she is indeed a natural-born Filipino. He even went on to recount how difficult it was for him for grow up without a father. He wondered if it would be a just and fair decision for the court to prevent foundlings from possibly becoming the next president of the Philippines.

Justices vs. Legalists

Interestingly, Leonen also raised the idea of being a justice and a legalist. He argued that he and his fellow magistrates were there as “justices,” not as legalists. He even pointed out the root words “just” and “legal.” For Leonen, the justices were supposed to do justice in accordance with law but if they can interpret law so that it can do justice, it would be better. Leonen thinks that justices are not completely legalists.

Letting people decide

Similar to the opinion of former chief justice Panganiban,  Justice Leonen also expressed the persuasion that the provision of the Constitution on the qualifications of those running for president could be disregarded to let the people decide following the doctrine that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Leonen suggested that the court could let the elections push through with Poe as one of the candidates and the Supreme Court could just intervene later on in case there are contentions raised. Chief Justice Sereno, however, expressed her disagreement to the idea of throwing the responsibility to decide on the matter to the public.

Burden of proof is on Poe

While Justice Leonen earlier appeared to offer arguments favoring Poe, on the second day of the oral arguments, he insisted that it was Grace Poe who is supposed to carry the burden of proving her status as a natural-born Filipino citizen. This, according to Leonen, is a “reasonable expectation” considering that Poe is seeking the highest government post in the Philippine government. Leonen emphasized the vastness and “awesomeness” of the powers of the president.

Attorney Poblador, Grace Poe’s lawyer, refused to accept Leonen’s proposition. He asserted that the standard on the burden of proof applies to Poe’s case. It is supposed to be the accuser who has to show the proof that his accusations are true, Poblador insisted. The lawyer further argued that nobody has shown a proof so far that Poe is a foreigner and that the accusers’ sole basis of demanding her disqualification is her being a foundling. Poblador conveniently forgot, though, that the issue is not about being a foreigner but being a natural-born Filipino, something that has already been defined by the Constitution. While it can be argued that Poe did not undergo any process to become a naturalized Filipino, she also lacks the qualifications to be considered natural born.

International vs. domestic laws

Justices Carpio and Leonardo-de Castro took turns in asking questions to Attorney Poblador, specifically on his international law arguments. Carpio highlighted that The Hague Convention was not yet in effect during the 1934 Constitutional Convention and that only a minority signed it. Leonardo-de Castro, on the other hand, pointed out that The Hague Convention has a provision that says, “The law of that State shall determine the conditions governing the acquisition of its nationality in such cases.” The Bottom line: they are still clearly not convinced that international laws and conventions can be invoked to say that Grace Poe is a natural born Filipino citizen.

On the issue of residence

Screengrab via Some rights reserved.

Screengrab via Some rights reserved.

Two major points were raised regarding Poe’s residency issue. The first was her use of a Balikbayan visa, which according to the Bureau of Immigration is issued to “a former Filipino citizen and his family who had been naturalized in a foreign country and comes or returns to the Philippines.” Justice Leonen asked why Poe used a Balikbayan visa instead of an immigrant visa, which would have bolstered the argument that she really had the intention to establish domicile in the Philippines. Additionally, Justice Carpio asked for Poe’s tax returns for May 2005 since her lawyer asserted that she was a resident alien back then so she should have filed an income tax return.

Sereno: Rigid reading on foundling cases may bring forth dire results

On the second day of the oral arguments, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno reminded her fellow justices to be careful in reading laws and court decisions relevant to the standing of foundlings as they may lead to “unintended consequences” on the already existing policies applied to persons who don’t know their biological parents. Sereno asked Poblador on what could possibly happen to foundlings who are being adopted over the court’s possible decision. The lawyer answered that foundlings may no longer get adopted because of the possibility that the decree of adoption can be challenged owing to the lack of jurisdiction in court. Sereno then said that foundlings would be discriminated against, as their registration papers become “disincentive.” Further, the Chief Justice expressed her concern over the profound implications of the case not only on Poe but also on the rights of all foundlings in the country.

It’s a 3-1 so far. There are three justices who are most likely going to vote for Poe’s disqualification and one who will decide in her favor. The other justices have not shown hints of their inclinations yet. Hopefully, all of these would lead to a just decision. It’s quite obvious that the justices couldn’t act ideally impartial but almost all of the questions, clarifications, citations, and arguments they have presented have been enlightening or thought-provoking.

Data Journalism Best Story Award small

The Top 10 posts of Blog Watch in 2015

Thursday, 31 December 2015 | Written by
Data Journalism Best Story Award small


Before saying goodbye to 2015, let’s take a look at the top stories in Blog Watch . Popular posts coincided with breaking news where most of our readers look forward to our commentaries on these issues. Blog Watch also turned six years old and published Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda on our anniversary date. We received the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for this story.

Data Journalism Best Story Award small

The work is not yet over and we will continue to pursue the issues that we tackled in 2015. Take a look at our top 10 posts for 2015.

1. How the Noynoy Aquino administration is betraying the spirit of people power by Bernadine Racoma

katotohanan katarungan

Perhaps people can forgive President Aquino for not listening to and remembering the message of mercy and compassion of Pope Francis since he doesn’t appear to be someone close to the Catholic Church. However, it’s difficult accepting how a direct beneficiary of the people power spirit is pathetically lacking when it comes to compassion.

2. The Next President We Want by Dean de la Paz


The next president we want succeeds the president we have. Incumbent and successor will always be coefficients. The voting public has always been reactionary even where it imagined it voted on the basis of principles. Even where we want principles to overwhelm, realities are what we address, whether we currently benefit from the present or are afflicted with it.

3. #JusticeForKentexWorkers: 7 things about PH’s deadliest factory fire by Venzie

JUSTICE FOR KENTEX 72-Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino call for Sec. Baldoz resignation regarding KENTEX tragedy. (photo: Edd Castro, May 22, 2015 DOLE Intramuros Manila)

JUSTICE FOR KENTEX 72-Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino call for Sec. Baldoz resignation regarding KENTEX tragedy. (photo: Edd Castro, May 22, 2015 DOLE Intramuros Manila)

Labor, human rights and youth groups today led a National Day of Mourning and to kick-off a campaign for justice for the Kentex workers who died in a factory fire in Metro Manila last May 13. It was the worst in PH history: 72 workers, mostly women, dead and at least 20 still missing.

4. Social media without the internet – will it ever go mainstream? by Jane Uymatiao

Photo via Some rights reserved.

Photo via Some rights reserved.

Ours was indeed a topic that stumped people at Rightscon when they read the title of our session, maybe because social media is always associated with being online… with having internet access. Their curiosity worked to our advantage because that, coupled with our persistence in plugging the session via social media, got us a packed room. We brought together four speakers who represented platforms that allowed a cross-section of ways of communicating by skirting the internet, when needed, but for this article, let me focus on two of these.

5. Derailing Progress by James Mangun

Another angle

Another angle

We can easily see why our rail systems get the least of priority and concern. A quick glance at the Public Private Partnership website shows that theError! Hyperlink reference not valid. prioritized by the government are on building new highways and road-based transportation systems.

6. From Syria to Surigao del Sur: Lumad victims need your rage, too by Carlos Maningat

Screencap via Some rights reserved

Screencap via Some rights reserved

We don’t need to gaze as far as Europe to be reminded that a boy is being killed, families are being displaced, and dreams are being extinguished by structural terror and injustice. We just have to look at our Lumad brothers and sisters – whose brutal executions barely land on the banner headline or top topics on Facebook and Twitter. They are the faceless victims in our midst. They need your grief and rage, too.

7. #StopLumadKillings: Designing a hashtag for a human rights issue by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado

profile pic #StopLumadKillings created by Journalist, PhilippinesGraphic editor Joel Salud . Some rights reserved.

profile pic #StopLumadKillings created by Journalist, PhilippinesGraphic editor Joel Salud . Some rights reserved.

“The hashtags #StopKillingLumads and #StopLumadKillings are trending on Twitter, one of the rare instances in which a human rights issue has captivated the country’s social media.”

But what is a hashtag trend without any action? By the end of the day, Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. on the spate of harassment, killings of lumads in Mindanao.

8. Disingenuous: A response to “Why Bongbong Marcos is good for Miriam Santiago” by Jego Raggragio

Screencap from Some rights reserved.

Screencap from Some rights reserved.

We say #NeverAgain to ever putting a Marcos back into Malacanang – and that includes placing him within a heartbeat of the Presidency.

We say this because we are aware that Marcos Jr.’s primary interest is sanitizing his family’s name and his father’s legacy. We understand that whatever Marcos Jr. Does, whether in his personal acts or in government, is geared precisely towards that end. And we reasonably predict that if Marcos Jr. should ever be in a position to do so, he will not hesitate to whitewash his family’s past, and leave his father’s victims out in the cold.

9. Is there really a Duterte magic? by Tess Doce- Halili

Photo via Some rights reserved.

Photo via Some rights reserved.

But as most Davaoeños know, what Davao City has become today was not only due to a strong leadership. It is also due to a cooperative, obedient, peace-loving, productive, disciplined and forward-thinking people. Yes, even the vendors, the tricyle and taxi drivers, and the ordinary man on the street show their support to the leader by doing their own share in the building of a developing city. Those who come to Davao City also toe the line voluntarily. As the saying goes, when in Davao City, do as Davaoeños do.

10 . Aid Monitoring: Citizens’ Initial Efforts in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda by Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, Jane T. Uymatiao, Carlos Maningat

aidmonitorPHhashtag 1

This article is Blog Watch’s final investigative reporting project for Data Journalism PH 2015, a training program for journalists and citizen media, under the auspices of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, in partnership with Open Knowledge Foundation. Blog Watch receives the “Best Story” Award for the First Data Journalism PH 2015 from the Open Knowledge Foundation and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism  for this story. Forbes Philippines also received the same award.

More frequent, high impact disasters are the new normal in the Philippines. The government has to seriously consider setting up this central agency for complete transparency and clear accountability from disaster preparedness to rehabilitation. NDRRMC is a start, but it is focused on monitoring and rescue. It does not have a proactive preparedness program (reason why disaster preparedness initiatives like Project Agos prosper) or a robust infrastructure for post-disaster rehabilitation. An umbrella agency tasked to cover disaster preparedness all the way to mitigation and rehabilitation, as well as accountability for donations, can cover all bases.

Blog Watch will continue to follow-up the issues we wrote in 2015 and pursue underplayed stories, and as always, focus on voter education, citizen engagement and disaster risk reduction.

Google Circle
Join my Circle on Google+

Plugin by Social Author Bio