Friday, September 28

On the Footsteps of San Lorenzo Ruiz


About a year ago I wrote the following piece, for our small “chatgroup” of U.P. College of Engineering co-alumni and other mutual septuagenarian friends of ours. Here are a few of its excerpts:

I have just read a friend’s E-mailed transmittal of a very well-written graduation speech to the U.P. School of Economics Class of 2006. The guest speaker is a well-known pioneer and stalwart, a U.P. alumna too and of world-class standard, in the field of investigative journalism.

Had I been given the same “April preaching” privilege some thirty years ago, which was a few years before I had my own Philippine gulag version of Saul’s conversion on his way to Damascus, I would probably have written and delivered basically the same speech. And perhaps with a lot more of anger bordering on libel against my old U.P. contemporaries and other U.P. alumni from the faculties and Colleges of Law, Political Science, Economics and Engineering too!

For it should have been obvious ever since our adulthood, that other than a few idealists and revolutionaries, such as some of us who at one time or another, naively
promised or briefly played with or simulated such roles in our youth, we the well-educated or the rich and powerful who have been in the forefront of government, academe or commerce, will never graciously nor substantially divest ourselves en masse off our enormous advantages and privileges! UNLESS – unless an apocalyptic and worldwide social, economic, environmental and spiritual CATHARSIS intervenes.

The Great Flood during Noah’s time, the Black Plague during the Dark Ages, the Hundred Years War in Europe of the Middle Ages, and its enlarged later versions now referred to as the First and Second World Wars – none of these previous worldwide upheavals have succeeded in motivating mankind particularly the rich and powerful, into widespread moral conversion. In fact, more evil with much worse injustices on a global scale have since developed in geometric intensity and scale.

And so if you have not yet already acquainted yourselves with the signs of the times and prophetic announcements contained in, take it on faith from yours truly, please to do so ASAP! The compelling yet consoling aspects of this website’s revelations or messages from heaven, are nothing less than profound and earthshaking! For there you will know where to see and read that God Himself is announcing His direct divine intervention, so that His brand of universal justice and love will be reinstated soon, and worldwide! I reckon that is the equivalent of the Book of Revelations, for this specific period of history!

I know I may have just sounded like I’ve gone wild and crazy. But I also BELIEVE even more so that I am more realistic NOW, in believing it is God Himself speaking out there in that website; that I was STUPID in my earlier belief in the SUFFICIENCY and efficacy of strictly secular solutions to the world’s problems, despite being prescribed by the best and brightest of our journalists, lawyers, economists and politicians. For they have repeatedly misled us and themselves too, in preaching that alone by ourselves, strictly on the merits of our self-proclaimed wisdom, science, technology, good intentions and self-serving promises of self-martyrdom, the world would solve any and all its problems, WITHOUT any significant assistance from God and His Word incarnate. Thus for generations, we stupidly and ARROGANTLY thought that God and His Word could never be a necessary part of any solution to man’s social and existential problems. Even sincere Christians have often failed to realize that their unqualified acceptance of strictly secular man-made solutions, would mean that there was no need nor any truth to God becoming man in order to redeem mankind by suffering and dying on the Cross.”

I have been reflecting constantly these last few weeks on the outrageous news about the syndicated swindle-and-plunder scheme surrounding a proposed “National Broadband Network”, involving the highest echelons of Philippine officialdom.

In comparison with the already bleak picture of our nation’s future which was implicit in the preceding article, the conclusions arising from these last few weeks’ revelations appear to be far more frightening.

For last year’s article of mine centered on our Catholic nation’s neglect of God’s readily available assistance that would have brought His blessings on our people’s efforts to redeem ourselves from the cumulative ill effects from our past sins and continuing human weaknesses.

These past weeks’ sordid finger-pointing recriminations point to a much worse and truly frightening crime-and-punishment scenario. For our nation’s leadership is apparently and repeatedly mocking God through their seemingly prayerful poses and religious antics, yet so obvious in their utter hypocrisy and mendacity, especially to those knowledgeable about broadband technology and its economics.

Yes, weep Philippines, weep! For except for a few brave and knowledgeable journalists, militant activists, professors, retired government technocrats and a few others, the silence from our pastors and shepherds is deafening. And so I believe that like our first martyr, Lorenzo Ruiz whose memorial is today, I am afraid that we too as a nation will have to go through a similar catharsis. Like Lorenzo Ruiz, our liberation will entail having to witness heroically to our Faith, before we can emerge from this darkest period of our nation’s very soul.

Thursday, September 27

Wednesday, September 26

Of Pinoy Mice and Men

Romulo Neri’s prolonged but marginally credible yet still unfinished testimony before three Senate Committees up to the late afternoon hours today, have more or less led me to the following initial impressions:
  1. Benjamin Abalos’ also tattered REPUTATION may have already been consigned to be ripped and tattered even more as the administration’s designated sacrificial goat, in order to appease the growing national indignation about the “ZTE Broadband Deal”. And so it seems Neri was allowed or was emboldened enough at least to say, almost apologetically in Abalos’ presence, that Abalos offered him a bribe of P200 Million albeit in a vague manner. And thus, with the help of highly paid clever lawyers, it can be plausibly denied later on in our courts of law, allegedly “as unsubstantiated, uncorroborated”!

  2. Also Neri hemmed and hawed but still ended up defending the ZTE Broadband “Project”, (not the contract itself but the “project”!)without offending nor implicating any of his fellow Cabinet members. Thus it would appear that Benjamin Abalos alone would be the only possible fellow guilty of having done anything wrong or illegal. Everybody else, including Leandro Mendoza would be absolved!

  3. Consequently Mr. Neri tried his best to shield President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA) from any serious legal and political danger arising from the convoluted process the ZTE deal was processed and prematurely approved. However, the fact that Mr. Neri supposedly reported the Abalos bribe offer to PGMA (by telephone only!), it now obliges the latter to produce some credible evidence on whatever subsequent investigative action the law and her constitutional duties demand from her under these grave circumstances.
    Such an apparent initial “Damage Control” strategy may just succeed, considering the substantial probability that our leaders of the Church, business, academe and the comfortable middle class may hereafter just go through the motions of registering their collective indignation, but after a few days go back to business as usual. A counter-attack against Joe de Venecia and son et al, could also contribute to confusing the facts and issues even more, leaving the general public bewildered and in due time, bored and cynical, thus leaving our politicians to quarrel among themselves.

But my over-riding impression, nay deepseated dismay, was either how pitifully naïve and incompetent (charitably speaking), or grossly corrupt and greedy (if realistically speaking), our government technocrats and top officials seem to be.

For heaven’s sake, these officials couldn’t even see that a supposed “soft loan” was actually a gigantic swindle because the loan proceeds were mandatorily tied up to the lender’s designated supplier selling us a bill of inappropriate goods and services that were overpriced by as much as 100%!

As early as 40 years ago, ex-CICT Commissioner Ramon Sales, as a junior Systems Engineer with us at IBM Philippines, already knew by rigid company training, practice and common sense, even during those days when knowledge of computers and information technology were limited to very few technically trained people like us, that nobody but nobody allowed anybody to sell to them highly technical and astronomically expensive goods and services without a) detailed descriptions and performance specifications of what the Customer-User wants to buy (and NOT what the supplier wants to sell); b) for what specific purposes supported by detailed technical diagrams required by the Customer’s users; c) a verified and audited price comparison with other independent sources or suppliers, and d) a guarantee whether a bond or pledge that the supplier will deliver as promised.

Absent all these in the face of so many highly paid and supposedly the best and the brightest such as Teves, Favila, Neri, Mendoza, Andaya, Sales, Formoso et al, let’s now all cringe and weep. Yes, dear Philippines, let’s all weep in shame…

Monday, September 24



From the latest indications and personal exchanges between Speaker JDV and his allies as well as rivals, it looks like the same disgusting TRAPO-dynamics of dirty politics will prevail among themselves, at the obvious expense of “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

And so the Filipino people’s most immediate hope for the whole truth about the ZTE-NBN plunder attempt to surface, rests on the tandem souls of “Jarius et Romulus”.

And the ball is now in the hands of the corroborative Romulus- half of that keenly awaited thunder-tandem. We hope it will explode and reverberate with nothing but the truth against which no amount nor degree of deviltry in Palace and Cabinet-wide mendacity will prevail.

For these two gentlemen, Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc and Philippine Cabinet Secretary Romulo Neri, hold the highest hopes of our conscienticized intellectuals and professionals, in having their sunset generation redeemed partially at least, in the eyes of their children and grandchildren, who have all the reason to blame them for the horrid depths of our nation’s present spiritual, moral, economic and political degradation.

Last Friday the 21st of September and the 35th anniversary of Marcos’ imposition of Martial Law, the Philippine Daily Inquirer came out with its editorial and columnists’ opinion, that were unanimous in condemning the obvious indications of graft and corruption in that ZTE-NBN transaction.

Today, the Philippine Star, has come out with a similar near-unanimous condemnation from its editorial and opinion writers, which are all being quoted in full hereunder.

Hopefully the clergy from all church denominations, and leaders of the academe especially from our Catholic schools and universities, will also realize that they are doing a distinct dis-service to our people, especially to the youth, if they will stick to their unseemly indifference in the face of top military and civilian government leaders’ blatant attempts to silence and to terrorize our citizens such as Jarius et Romulus.

Monday, September 24, 2007

As the pro-administration coalition appeared headed for collapse and Transport and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza joined the military top brass in claiming fresh destabilization attempts, the government announced the other day that the $329-million national broadband network or NBN deal with Chinese firm ZTE Corp. had been suspended indefinitely. Why? Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, who made the announcement, invoked “executive privilege” and would say no more. The pair also announced that the equally controversial and even more expensive Cyber Education project of the Department of Education had also been frozen.

In fact the ZTE deal had already been suspended two weeks ago – by virtue of a restraining order issued by the Supreme Court. Senators were unimpressed by Favila’s announcement and vowed to continue this week with their inquiry into the ZTE deal. Only two days before the announced suspension, the deal had been staunchly defended by Mendoza, who arrived at the Senate with a rah-rah choir led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The lawmakers’ decision is correct, considering that the Senate has become the only venue for ferreting out the truth about a deal that will saddle Filipinos with a multimillion-dollar debt. Apart from getting a clear picture of what exactly was signed by Mendoza with ZTE officials in the presence of President Arroyo last April in Boao, China, the public is also entitled to know the truth about allegations that Chairman Benjamin Abalos of the Commission on Elections had brokered the deal and that First Gentleman Mike Arroyo appeared to have intervened.

As the picture becomes clearer, interested parties should look into the possibility of filing criminal charges against certain individuals for graft. Going by the amounts mentioned in this widening scandal, indictments for large-scale corruption or plunder may be warranted. The filing of such charges is not the job of senators. Their mandate is to craft legislation that will promote transparency, particularly in areas that are currently exempted from rules on public accountability such as government-to-government deals.

Lawmakers may also want to fine-tune their own rules on ethics to prevent any member of Congress from using his position for personal gain. Something positive should come out of this latest sorry episode in national life. All sectors must work to prevent a repeat of this scandal.

Scare tactics SKETCHES
By Ana Marie Pamintuan
Monday, September 24, 2007

The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on the broadband deal with ZTE Corp. on Sept. 11, effectively putting it on ice. So why did Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila and acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera have to call a press conference to announce that the deal had been suspended indefinitely?

Now Favila is bellyaching that the suspension could discourage foreign investors from doing business here. After trying to take credit for suspending a controversial $329-million project, the administration wants to blame critics of the deal for scaring away investors. But the only one to blame for this mess is the administration itself.

Foreign investors would shy away, as they should, from a government that cannot guarantee transparency in its official transactions.

Investors shy away, as they should, from countries where the rule of law is a joke and the regulatory environment is ineffectual, where massive kickbacks must be factored into the cost of doing business, and where companies that do pay fat commissions risk losing their investments when the payoffs are uncovered and the government is forced – to use the phrase of the year – to back off.

China itself should want its companies to clean up their act and comply with international rules on fair trade and transparency. If China wants to become an economic success in the mode of Singapore, it should frown on corruption and encourage its international partners to do the same.

Favila should retain whatever credibility he still enjoys while working for this administration by refusing to engage in a blame game for the loss of investor confidence.

If he had not announced the suspension, he could have told Chinese officials that Malacañang was simply bowing to the Supreme Court and complying with the restraining order. The compliance should have been immediate. Did the weekend announcement mean that the administration had ignored the high court?

Now the suspension has become an executive decision, which opens the government to fresh criticism from the international community about the unreliability of business policies in this country. Not only are we unable to guarantee the sanctity of business contracts, we even lose the original signed documents.

* * *

The government announced the suspension of an already suspended deal after warnings of fresh destabilization attempts using the ZTE scandal were met with a yawn by the public.

Attempts to discredit Joey de Venecia also fizzled out, with the below-the-belt attack of Luli Arroyo backfiring and showing her to be truly her mother’s daughter. The verdict: diplomacy’s loss was fortuitous for the country after all.

Instead of winning public sympathy, the warnings about purported destabilization have raised concern that the administration is laying the groundwork for another crackdown on its political opponents.

The administration may have to deploy more loyalist troops to carry out any crackdown, since it has succeeded in alienating even its long-time allies led by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.

If the administration keeps up its policy of losing friends and alienating people, the only loyalists it might have left before Christmas would be its gang of corrupt Untouchables and the Three Stooges.

The administration has already lost the Senate. Does it also want to risk a bruising fight for control of the House of Representatives?

* * *

Apart from guarding against invasions of privacy by the state and actual physical harm, those involved in uncovering the truth and making public officials account for misdeeds in the ZTE deal should heed an advice from the prosecutors in Joseph Estrada’s plunder case.

If you want to see top public officials like Erap convicted, Simeon Marcelo said, be prepared to do the spadework.

Marcelo, who quit as Ombudsman amid speculation that Malacañang wanted him to go easy on former justice secretary Hernando Perez’s $2-million corruption case, warned that pinning down those in power requires so much more than holding press conferences and preening for the cameras.

It would be good, Marcelo said, to find a whistle-blower like former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson. The losing senatorial candidate may one day also find himself facing an indictment for corruption committed under this administration, but he served his purpose in the prosecution of Erap.

Since the ZTE scandal erupted, complete with stories about “sexcapades” in China, the overriding question has always been how high the stink goes.

Romulo Neri will be questioned this week about reports that he told President Arroyo he had been offered P200 million by Chairman Benjamin Abalos of the Commission on Elections to endorse the ZTE deal. The President allegedly told him to ignore the offer but approve the deal anyway. If this story is true, the President could be held liable for condoning a bribery attempt.
Days later, Neri lost his post as head of the National Economic and Development Authority and was shunted to the Commission on Higher Education.

Will Neri tell the truth? No one is holding his breath. Another story going around is that Neri, when pressed to tell the alleged bribery attempt under oath, expressed concern that if he became a party to an impeachment that leads to the ouster of the President, someone like Sen. Panfilo Lacson could take over. This administration must think the constitutional successor, Vice President Noli de Castro, is a non-entity.

Apart from the possible indictment of the President herself, graft charges could be filed against Abalos, Transport and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza and the others involved in the deal. If Neri takes responsibility for the approval of the deal when he was NEDA secretary-general, he could also be indicted.

As Marcelo reminded everyone, making criminal charges stick isn’t easy. But the spadework has to be done if the country is serious in its campaign against graft.

Corruption, not the suspension of a questionable contract, is what scares away investors and undermines the sustainability of economic growth.

Two different courts A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison Monday, September 24, 2007

Positive, clear and straightforward assertions regarding the existence of a factual proposition has more weight and credibility than bare denials without any specific details. This is a basic rule on evidence.

To get to the bottom of the truth and establish the relevant fact in issue, the number of witnesses is not as important and persuasive as the probability and tenability of their story. The version of a lone witness may appear more convincing when range against the accounts of several witnesses if it is more plausible and closer to the truth. This is another basic rule on evidence.

Also basic is that personal attack against the character and reputation including the physical features of a witness, or threatening him with court suits, are mere diversionary tactics that do not affect the existence of the relevant fact in issue. Even a person convicted of a crime is not disqualified to testify on what he personally saw and experience. Such diversionary tactics only betray the weakness of the denier’s version of the truth.

If these basic rules are applied to the raging word war between the main protagonists in the controversial $329 million ZTE deal particularly on the kickbacks, bribery, overpricing, sex, death threats and the alleged intimidating demand to “back off” the deal, it is easy to know who has the upper hand and who is more believable as far as the public is concerned. Jose de Venecia III the man behind the company that lost the deal has made damaging accusations against Abalos and FG. In reply, several admissions have been made regarding certain facts, events and circumstances surrounding the deal.

Abalos admitted: (1) that he knows and has played golf with some officials of ZTE but only with respect to the importation business of his daughter; (2) that he made several trips to Hong Kong sometime in December 2006 up to early January, 2007 courtesy of ZTE officials and played golf with them but only as a gesture of reciprocity as he also treated them to golf games in Wack-Wack; (3) that several meetings were held in relation to the ZTE deal where he was present together with other government officials particularly (a) at the Teves residence in Alabang more than a year ago where he introduced some ZTE officials to Teves and where they talked about some projects in Mindanao, (b) at a Wack-Wack Golf restaurant a few months ago with Mendoza and Teves to discuss the broadband project with ZTE officials, (c) at his favorite haunt in Wack-Wack some other times where Joey de Venecia kept showing up and where at one time FG also happened to be there with Mendoza, and (d) at his office where the young de Venecia saw him several times. Abalos also admitted that he met Joey de Venecia in China on December 27, 2006 but they didn’t go there together.

These events, and the circumstances surrounding them, show at the very least that some improprieties have been committed. Firstly, it does not seem right at all for the Chairman of the Comelec who has nothing to do with the ZTE contract to be present at several meetings held in relation to said contract, even unofficially and merely as golfing buddies of ZTE officials. Precisely because of his golfing connections with the ZTE officials, he should have avoided those meetings to dispel ugly but seemingly well founded suspicions that he brokered the deal. This attitude of “impunity” on the part of a government official holding such a delicate position has prompted some business groups to come up with a statement expressing their alarm and condemnation.

More significantly, these events and circumstances show that the story of young de Venecia is not a pure concoction; that it is not a complete fabrication and therefore more convincing to the public. There are indeed meetings with him, Abalos and Mendoza and at one time with FG. He also met Abalos in Hong Kong last December 27. Their versions vary only on what transpired during those meetings and encounters.

De Venecia claimed that in those meetings Abalos offered him $10 million and also pressed the ZTE officials in HK to come up with the rest of the payoffs, while FG intimidated him to back off from the deal. Abalos on the other hand denied any payoffs from the ZTE and branded de Venecia’s accusations of bribery offer as a barefaced lie. On the contrary, Abalos said that it was de Venecia who kept on following him up to seek help for his company’s NBN proposal. The spokesman of FG likewise denied the intimidation at Wack Wack. He said that FG had gone there merely to play golf when he saw Abalos and Mendoza at a nearby table and overheard the young de Venecia who was not even known to him at that time following up his project proposal with Mendoza. And when Mendoza introduced de Venecia to him, FG even reminded de Venecia that he cannot be involved in any government transaction because he is the son of the Speaker, said FG’s spokesman.

These are the conflicting versions now being circulated and presented before the court of public opinion. In this court, the people themselves decide which of the varying versions are credible and believable without being guided by any rules on the appreciation of evidence. The more popular version is considered as the truth. The factors making the administration version unpopular are the damaging admissions and seemingly unsatisfactory explanations and the lack of transparency surrounding the multimillion-dollar deal wherein the very document containing its terms was lost and have not been fully reproduced up to now. The decision may be popular but not necessarily correct, binding and conclusive.

The issues arising from the charges and countercharges of corruption, bribery, sex, and even death threats should therefore be brought before the court of law. Here the truth will be determined more authoritatively and conclusively by the competent branch of government in accordance with clear and specific rules of evidence. The pending case in the Supreme Court is not enough as it merely involves the validity of the contract and its overpricing, not the factual issues on the payoffs and kickbacks. The suspension of the deal should not deter Abalos to make good his threat to sue de Venecia for libel or file other legal actions if he has not done so yet. Here the decision may be unpopular but is presumably correct, binding and conclusive.
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Is it a done deal?AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman
Monday, September 24, 2007

I thought the president and other cabinet members implied that the ZTE deal is already a done deal and cannot be questioned? How can that be? I know the people should respect the government’s decisions since we put them there to work for us but now that the ZTE deal is being questioned shouldn’t we get a good answer to our suspicions? We need to be cleared here somehow – our tax money is at stake.

How can we stop political noise, if we are not assured of our future? Nowadays, many are calculating how much tax their children and their children’s children will be paying if we pursue the ZTE multimillion-dollar deal. As it is, our countrymen have been trying to make ends meet with the E-VAT already imposed on us. What is next on the tax program? How will the government augment our international debt if government officials are not carefully scrutinizing the government projects? If we continue to be reckless in making deals, our taxes will naturally continue to increase and we will never see an end to the problem.

Controversial projects and deals have always been part and parcel of government systems even if they are not beneficial to the people. In fact, the more you can escape public scrutiny, the more successful you become. The government really lacks transparency. We would actually be in Utopia if we will ever achieve such a state. Nevertheless, the government, the congressmen and senators must police and control each other. I hope this time, our citizenry has learned and will be stronger forces pushing to do what is right and just. Remember our experience last election? The people became wiser and more vigilant. It became more difficult for the cheaters to win because everyone was watching and manning their votes. Let us see what will happen this time in this hysterical controversy.

The President cannot afford to make an enemy out of Joe the “Venetian.” He was her strongest supporter during the impeachment trial two years ago. Both the Speaker and his wife stood by La Gloria in her darkest hours. How can Gloria just castigate or oust the Speaker who knows a lot of secrets hidden within the walls of the Palace? GMA better play her game well or else she might experience a “check mate” in this game. Abangan!

What is happening right now in this country is truly a comedy combined with tragedy. Actually it has always been the case. It is the little people who suffer, not our politicians and those noisy know-it alls who live in cozy homes. We have always been striving to cope, to right what is wrong, to banish evil and corruption but we can’t seem to complete our actions. We seem to end up always frustrated. And hearing ourselves saying, “naku na-isahan nanaman tayo!” After a while, we easily give up and forget about the issue. Today’s problems are easily forgotten. Wasted and vanquished away. Susmariosep!

My dad wrote three straightforward and simple causes (national ills) which have prevented the progress of our country. These principal causes are: (1) pervasive graft and corruption at practically all levels of the national and local governments; (2) endless “politics” engaged in both those who hold the reins of power and the political opposition down to the local level; and (3) a bloated bureaucracy infested by incompetent, abusive and corrupt department and agency heads. In other words, the culprit of our ills and woes are caused by our national and local officials. Enough said.
Last Friday, the President said that “we should stop the political noise.” How can she say this when her own government, sad to say, has been doing things such as deals and government appointments which are politically-motivated? This is why we have corrupt and incompetent department and agency heads endorsed by Malacañang. Don’t forget that these politically-endorsed appointees in turn bring their own greedy camp followers into their officers. Hence, to borrow my dad’s words, “we have a bloated, less competent and indolent bureaucracy.” In one of his columns, he wrote about the state of our civil service which I think is vital to note: “According to the Civil Service Commission personnel today, never before in the history of that constitutional body have they seen such blatant violations of Civil Service rules and regulations in the appointment of people in the government, as they are now witnessing. So, obviously, it is not the system that is the problem but rather the mentality, culture and attitude of those who govern that must be held responsible for our stunted development.”

Since 1988 we have had the supposedly independent constitutional anti-graft body, the Office of the Ombudsman which is endowed with awesome powers. Yet, over the years since the Office of the Ombudsman was created 18 years ago and despite the proud boasts of achievements racked up by that office, graft and corruption has escalated instead, resulting in billions of pesos lost attributable to graft. So what’s up? Are we missing something here? This supposedly independent body is not so independent after all? If this is the case, do we really need another expense on our budget for such an office? Now, if the First Gentleman was really allegedly part of this ZTE deal along with Abalos, then how can the Ombudsman take the case, not unless she resigns for delicadeza of not wanting to check on the President and her men who put her in that office in the first place. Hay naku!

In television, we see GMA still with her head up high and quite stern in her decision to go on with the ZTE deal. But when majority is already questioning its motives, shouldn’t she pause and think. Shouldn’t she review the project? Not just suspend it. A slimy way of trying to get away from the current issue.

Our major concern is the expense. Second, why buy it when other companies have offered better programs that are of no cost to the government? Third, we have the right to know what’s going on. I beg to disagree that the people have no right to question government projects. Excuse me! We are paying for those projects which many officials recklessly enter into. So, give us the benefit of the doubt. Be transparent. And this includes that Cyber-Education’s hullabaloo.
Don’t you hear the cry of anguish of the citizens? Here we are crossing our fingers clinging on to faith, hoping against hope that this President will not put us down. I still pray that somehow you will bring light into the ZTE matter to enlighten each Filipino who deserves an explanation. We want to hear you. Do not hide beneath the curtains or the shadows of your men. We need the President to speak instead of showing the public that she is numbed about what’s going on. You should show more concern and compassion. Keeping silent just won’t do the trick.

What they expect Neri to discloseGOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
Monday, September 24, 2007

Last Thursday Romy Neri was supposed to testify at the Senate on the hated ZTE deal. On the eve he noticed strange men casing his house in Quezon City. As a Cabinet member Romy promptly reported the security threat. Executive Sec. Ed Ermita dispatched a team from the Presidential Security Group. Romy failed to attend the Senate hearing due to bum stomach. The surveillants turned out to be police intelligence agents.

Why cops were spying on him, Romy doesn’t understand. News reports, meanwhile, quoted Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as associating the ZTE scam exposé to a plot to rock the Arroyo tenure. The military analysis echoes the old Marcos martial law trick of blaming legitimate dissent on communists and rightists. Did the surveillants suspect Romy of being among the imagined conspirators? Why do some officials seem so scared of what he might reveal about the $330-million government broadband deal with ZTE Corp. of China?

I have talked to Romy exactly ten times by phone and face-to-face ever since I started a series in Mar. on the ZTE scam. Each conversation was tense. On two occasions Romy swore me to secrecy. At least twice too he said his life was in my hands. In the last three talks, including Tuesday after I first testified about my exposés, I asked him when he would bare all. He repeated that there’s a time and place for everything. I told him of at least four pious groups that are praying for his safety. He assured me he would tell only the truth if made to take the oath. I said I anticipate the heavy sacrifice he would face if he does so; he sympathized with me for undergoing harassment, threats and false accusations. In our last talk, I told him I am honored he considers me a friend since 1987, when he became head of the Congress Planning and Budget Office.

I often review my notes of our first talk on the morning of Apr. 20, the day I wrote about the rush to sign the ZTE contract in Boao, China. From insider info, I had stated that the National Economic Development Authority, which he headed then, had approved the ZTE deal in a huff. He called to clarify that what NEDA had cleared was the concept for a national broadband network, not the company. Sorry, I said, but I drew my conclusion from the endorsement of Secretaries Leandro Mendoza and Ramon Sales specifying both Amsterdam Holdings Inc. and ZTE — just that it’s with the latter that Mendoza was signing a contract. I confided the tip that the NEDA didn’t like what it was doing.

Romy then rattled off many things he knew about the events leading to the scheduled signing of Apr. 21. I later learned that he had told at least three of our common friends the same things.
Some of the items have since been reported in broadcast and print. There was a supposed invitation from Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos to golf at the Wack Wack Country Club, during which Romy was offered P200 million to support ZTE. As the story goes, Romy turned down and told President Arroyo about the indecent proposal. Whereupon, she instructed him to not accept the bribe but ensure the NEDA approvals just the same. Romy has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

Only God and Romy know if under oath he would confirm or deny the other items. I pray that he expound on them. He had told me on that morning of Apr. 20 and several other times that not only a Comelec official but an influential businessman too was inordinately lobbying for ZTE Corp. The businessman allegedly was responsible for the sudden rise of the ZTE tag price to $330 million days before the signing, when its original offer in Dec. to Feb. was $262 million. What was the $68-million difference for, I asked in subsequent talks. Romy said the businessman was assigned to raise campaign funds for an administration party during the last election.

I would understand if Romy balks in identifying the businessman. In a previous cocktail party at the residence of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., he said, that man had cornered and threatened him for opposing a fishy pier project. That man reportedly also worked on Romy’s consequent transfer from NEDA to the Commission on Higher Education.

Romy in our talks implicated most of the persons Joey de Venecia has exposed under oath as thieving from the broadband purchase. But I get the impression that Romy knows much more than the heroic whistleblower who initially was bidding for the telecom project.

About ZTE executives, Romy also said he has never seen any group as aggressive as them in pushing for a contract. They were waiting outside the NEDA conference room while the Cabinet was deliberating about them.

More importantly, Romy said a very powerful official arm-twisted him to turn the broadband project from a safe build-operate-transfer plan to a risky outright supply purchase. It was for that reason, he told me on Apr. 20, that he almost resigned from the Cabinet the day before.

* * *

Friday, September 21


Fortunately or unfortunately for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), the Sandigan Bayan criminal court’s verdict on her predecessor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has more or less been settled. Despite the latter’s understandable yet shallow claims of a martyr’s innocence, even those of us, myself included who seven years or so ago were at the forefront among those demanding for his resignation, now look upon today’s karma-confronted Erap with some pity and empathy. Or even sympathy. Why so? Because Erap’s past mistakes as President though serious and truly condemnable, appear to be much less vicious and hypocritical than…

GMA’s social, marital, economic, Catholic and political pedigrees obviously constitute an overwhelming 100-to-1 advantage in life for her, over those of Erap. In moral theology and particularly in relation to the parable on Silver Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), GMA’s God-given 100-to-1 capital advantage for life, will certainly also require from her that much more rectitude and moral excellence in governance, than from Erap. And perhaps even more so because she has often publicly flaunted her supposed miraculous and thus “God-ordained” assumption to the Philippine presidency. Therefore, her personal and moral culpability for her sins of misgovernance, would at least be also 100 times more than Erap’s!

And if, as the following excerpts from non-partisan and knowledgeable opinion makers today strongly suggest, GMA appears to be ten times worse than Erap ever was as a benighted leader, shouldn’t GMA tremble in fear a thousand times more, every time she appears before the Lord at Holy Mass, without a clean and honest conscience? Especially whenever she receives the “Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity” of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist?

By the way, corrupt Catholic politicians and bureaucrats including those who condone corrupt practices through their own silent acquiescence or grotesque attempts to cover-up, should be reminded that it is outright sacrilege and a mortal sin, everytime we receive Holy Communion without having been a) genuinely sorry, b) sincerely committed to adequate restitution for our victims, and c) have confessed these mortal sins, especially those involving grave injustice and rank hypocrisy.

Excerpts from the Philippine Daily Inquirer of 21 September 2007

Turning point

The testimony of businessman Jose “Joey” de Venecia III before the Senate on Tuesday and the testimony of three Cabinet secretaries before the same Senate committees yesterday define a true turning point in post-Edsa People Power II politics. Beyond the all-consuming question of an unpopular president’s continuing political survival, we face history’s ruthless judgment: Do we ever learn?

The political sharks certainly smell blood in the water. But the red stain is wide and visible even from a distance. The wounds the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration has sustained are real; whether they are deep enough to prove fatal will be determined in the next few weeks or so…

What do we know for certain?

The young De Venecia’s testimony was, by and large, credible. Some inconsistencies exist, and the failure to mention the alleged “Back off!” encounter in his affidavit is problematic. But overall, with its sometimes gratuitous specificity, his testimony has the ring of truth…

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s musings on human nature are absolute nonsense. As in the Estrada impeachment trial six years ago, Santiago again suggests that people -- lawyers then, businessmen now -- are motivated only by base greed or sheer self-interest. It may be that that is the world she lives in, but her world is not ours…

First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo’s belated response to the young De Venecia’s allegation that he had tried to intimidate him into backing out of the National Broadband Network project, as coursed through his lawyer Jesus Santos, sounds plausible... As we said, it sounds plausible, but it is hardly credible…

The by-now-clearly-documented role of Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos in the ZTE Corporation’s proposal for a national broadband network is incomprehensible -- and truly reprehensible. He has denied his involvement, but he can no longer deny the unusual trips to China, the series of meetings with the young De Venecia, and now that alleged mid-March meeting with Arroyo. Of all officials involved in the ZTE scandal, he has the most to explain…

We have long called for this disgraced and disgraceful official’s resignation or impeachment. Abalos’ involvement in the ZTE scandal is further reason to repeat our call... We cannot imagine enough congressmen mustering the political courage to impeach him. We certainly cannot imagine him resigning. We will have to bide our time and wait for a plunder case to be filed against him…

As I See It
Neil H. Cruz

I think we will discover more overpriced projects as the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo winds down to 2010. In basketball lingo, this is its last two minutes and public officials, knowing they would be out of jobs and out of power in less than three years, are now providing for their futures. What better and faster way to do that than to overprice projects.

The President cannot stop her subordinates from doing that because she is a lame-duck president. She is still in MalacaÒang only because of the support of her allies. If she cracks down on them, they can withdraw their support and where would she be? Look at what happened to former President Joseph Estrada. Ms Arroyo knows that what she did to him can also be done to her. So she will just sit tight, please her allies and hope that she lasts until 2010.

In fact, it is possible, she herself is thinking of providing for her future. She will need lots of money for lawyers when she is no longer President and plunder and graft cases are filed against her for the things she did while in office.

I hope not, but it is also possible she is the “mystery woman” behind the ZTE broadband case as her husband is the “mystery man.” Circumstantial evidence points to that.

She flew all the way to China to witness the signing of the ZTE contract. Why? Obviously to show her support for the project. What was signed was allegedly “stolen” soon later. Why?

Ms Arroyo did not order that the contract be reconstituted or that a copy be obtained from the Chinese. And in spite of a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court, she issued a statement that the Philippines would honor the contract which nobody but the signatories have seen.

The pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

‘Back off!’: the new idiom of corruption
Raul C. Pangalangan

Thirty years ago, we celebrated Sept. 21 as Thanksgiving Day, as declared by President Ferdinand Marcos. A whole nation backed down when told to back off, and ended up celebrating the first day of the dictatorship, the day martial law was proclaimed, to sing hallelujah for their chains.
Jose de Venecia III has implicated no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s husband as the “mystery man” who tried to bully him out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) deal. Already De Venecia’s life has been threatened and his phone bugged, and nasty personal innuendoes circulate. “Reformers” plot to oust his father as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The chief presidential legal counsel threatens him with jail -- and reminds the Ombudsman of its “motu proprio” powers to investigate without waiting for a complainant -- yes, the same Ombudsman who had to be prodded by the Supreme Court before it charged anyone -- the small fry, mind you, not the big shots -- in the Comelec computerization scam. And for a while, the government even claimed that the NBN contract was either lost or nonexistent!…

NBN is an abrupt reversal of the settled policy of public-private partnerships in “information infrastructure” that shifts the costs to private investors and spares government funds from that burden. Moreover, the project, originally priced at P5.1 billion, has now bloated to a whopping P19.3 billion -- all this to offer a redundant service already performed by private capital on its own…

Without the De Venecia testimony, these weighty issues might not have ignited public outrage. Contrast that to the drama of the Joseph Estrada trial, with the image of a “bayong” [big native bag] full of cold cash hand-carried by thugs to the “lord of all jueteng [underground lottery] lords.” This time, the thievery is far more suave, and players threaten one another in “coÒo English” in chic places.

In the Philippines, there is a class divide even in the treatment of witnesses. The Estrada trial flourished because of witnesses like the warlord Chavit Singson, who is a “Witness Protection Program” on his own, and the bank vice president Clarissa Ocampo, who has her own built-in credibility as a professional. In contrast, who remembers those witnesses against MalacaÒang in all the past scandals? The low-level minions have either recanted and apologized or been shredded to pieces, like T/Sgt. Vidal Doble earlier this week.

And then the young De Venecia came, with all the advantages of both Chavit and Clarissa. Hence the vicious attacks on his character, because the NBN debate is at its core a battle for the hearts and minds of the Filipino public. The UP deans conclude: “The only backbone the government needs today is a moral one, not fiber optic but “fibre politique.’”

The Ombudsman’s “motu proprio” powers? “Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth….”


Mga Awit 10 (Pslam 10)

O Panginoon!
Sa panahon ng bagabag, bakit po kayo nagtatago?
Ang masama’y naghahambog sa buktot na nilalayon.
WHY, 0 Lord, dost thou stand afar off, why hide thyself in times of trouble, while the wicked man is proud, the needy man is distressed, he is caught in the plots which the wicked has devised?

Sa kanilang paghahambog, ganito ang binubulong:
“Hindi ako papansinin nitong Diyos na huhukom.”
Wika nila sa sarili, “Lagi akong may tagumpay. Ang bagabag sa akin di sasapit kailanman.”
For the sinner glories in his covetousness, and the despoiler blasphemes, he scorns the Lord. For the wicked man in his pride of spirit, says: "He will not punish; there is a no God:" such is all his thought. His ways succeed all the time; thy judgments are far from his mind; he despises all his enemies. He says in his heart: "I shall not be moved; from generation to generation I shall not be unhappy."

Sinungaling magsalita, lapastanga’t mapagbanta, at masakit kung mangusap, masama ang kanilang dila.
Hinahamak dinudurog, kaming taong kulang-palad, at lubusang inaapi ng malupit at malakas.
His mouth is filled with cursing and fraud and deceit; under his tongue are labor and sorrow. He waits in ambush near the villages, in hidden places he murders the innocent; his eyes spy out the poor man. He lies in ambush in dark places like a lion in his den; he lies in wait to catch the helpless man: he seizes and drags the helpless one into his net. He stoops, he crouches on the ground and the poor fall before his violence. He says in his heart: "God has forgotten, he has turned away his face, he never sees."

Panginoon! Kami’y nalulungkot at nagdurusa. Kayo’y laging nakahanda sa pagtulong sa amin. Ang wala nang maasahan ay sa iyo nagpupunta, pagka’t di ka nagkakait ng tulong mo sa kanila.
Yaong mga masasama ay alisan mo ng lakas, sa kanilang kasamaan,parusahan silang lahat. Lubusin mo ang parusa, pahirapan mo ng ganap.
Arise, 0 Lord God, lift up thy hand! Forget not the poor! Why does the wicked man spurn God, and say in his heart: "He will not punish"? But thou dost see: thou considerest labor and pain that thou mayest take them in thy hands. To thee the poor man entrusts himself; thou art a helper to the orphan! Break thou the arm of the sinner and the wicked: thou shalt punish his wickedness, and it will not remain.

Diringgin mo yaong api at ulilang lumuluha, papanigan sa paghatol, yaong mga taong aba. Pakiusap O Diyos, iyan ang gawin mo, upang itong masasama ay wala nang maidulot na pangamba at dalita.
The Lord is the king forever and ever, the nations have perished from his land. Thou, 0 Lord, hast heard the desire of the afflicted, thou hast reassured their heart, thou hast lent an ear, to uphold the right of the orphan and the oppressed. And that evildoers may terrify no more.


Wednesday, September 19

Pinoy Politikomiks


I deeply share the private grief of an archbishop friend of mine, over the fact that most of our supposedly intelligent (clerics included!) and well-informed Filipinos nowadays, even the young but especially the most well-off, have practically lost their sense of moral indignation, despite the increasingly bizarre perfidies perpetrated by our high-powered politicians and government bureaucrats.

And so I have decided to try something different (hereunder!), so as to prick our collective conscience. For we the people are not stupid, nor hopeless. We unmistakably smell the nauseating, stinking garbage that emanates from way up there in the highest corridors of influence and power.

Believe me dear and supposedly well-educated Catholics who are knowingly involved or covering up for the latter in this ongoing "broadband cyberspace" tragi-comedy with its orchestrated brazen mendacity, you can’t and won’t get away scot-free from such out-and-out mockery of truth. For Truth is God Himself! And your victims are the long impoverished tens of millions of Other Christs who have already been mocked and plundered repeatedly by many other similarly greedy and rapacious politicians and bureaucrats.

Where are our new generation of the fiery patriot Lorenzo Tanada, the martyr-hero Ninoy Aquino, the prophet and father-figure Jaime Cardinal Sin, the simple yet sincere Ramon Magsaysay and yes, Jose Rizal too?

Let’s all sincere Muslims, Catholics and Christians come out now and support our few outnumbered yet already heroic old and young prophets and advocates for moral governance. Including you too JDV pere! For your son and namesake has just gifted you with a one-in-a-trillion OPPORTUNITY of a lifetime, to sacrifice and redeem yourself magnificently for and in behalf of our people.

"Bato-bato sa langit, pag tumama kanino man, sana’y di magalit!"

Politiko-miks (Sep 19, 2007)


Friday, September 14

Faith in God vis-a-vis Science


That TIME magazine account in its 15 January 2007 edition describing the Richard Dawkins-Francis Collins debate has re-ignited the age-old dilemma over a transcendental Prime Being whose existence and attributes, have never been “scientifically proven”. From the point of view of a school of physicists, cosmologists, biologists, mathematicians and their fellow skeptics in other fields, such a proof if without resorting to a prior faith in God or in the Bible, is IMPOSSIBLE. And in that, I agree with them!

It is also a fact that God Himself has not (yet) settled the issue once and for all. He could easily do it anytime if He were truly God, by revealing Himself to the whole world in all His power and glory so that even skeptics, agnostics and atheists would all fall down on their knees and sincerely worship Him. In fact, Christ Himself could have come down from the Cross and obliterated all His tormentors. And so that is also a nagging corollary issue even to many of us Christians who nonetheless believe He does exist.

And the only way Christians can reasonably resolve that nagging issue is HUMBLY to re-affirm their faith in God and in His divine attributes by saying:

“If He is the Almighty, All-Knowing and infinitely merciful and loving God, all of which we believe He is, therefore we ought also to believe that He knows best as to when and how and why He will finally reveal Himself to everybody, in full and beyond doubt.”

Similarly as an admirer of Gary Kasparov, for his versatile human qualities and his being a chess virtuoso, it would not be logical for me albeit a frustrated one-time chess addict, to question why in an on-going, long drawn-out game, Kasparov has not yet moved his King to the fore for the kill. For considering his prior scintillating performances or revelation, there is a reasonable basis or “a preponderance of evidence” for me to have faith in Gary Kasparov’s chess-playing prowess!

Francis Collins’ argued the same way: “Faith is not the opposite of reason. Faith rests squarely upon reason, but with the added component of revelation”. And if I may add, together with a large dose of HUMILITY and consciousness of our puniness.

But for those who have never admired nor rooted for Kasparov, they will never have such a faith in him unless and until the fellow proves his mettle by beating everybody hands down including a more powerful version of IBM’s Deep Blue. By that time however, it would no longer be a matter of “faith”, but a belated acknowledgment of a proven fact. By analogy, Professor Dawkins and his fellow atheists would belong to that crowd.

And so it is a logically consistent doctrine of the Catholic Church that our faith in Jesus Christ as true man and true God has a REASONABLE basis, i.e. the existence of the historical Christ in the Palestine area of today some 2000 years ago, written accounts of His spotlessly virtuous life and miracles wrought particularly in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, St. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles and in the Letters of St. Paul.

And yet the Church also maintains that the theological virtue of faith is still and above all a gratuitous “gift of God”.

Thus Christ said to Peter in response to the latter’s fervent declaration somewhere in the plains of Ceasarea Philippi that “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God!”, (Matthew 16:16): “Flesh and blood (i.e. human logic) has not revealed it to you but my Father in Heaven”.

And yet it would still surprise many science-educated people to be informed that the entire community of “physical” or empirical scientists themselves apply a similar faith-based thought process in many of their so-called “scientifically proven” conclusions, where these are backed by some evidence, often not even with a clear preponderance but only with some probability of empirical consistency. Nevertheless scientists often believe in these premature conclusions or theories, even if they have not yet been proven beyond the shadow of ANY doubt.

Thus Professor Dawkins himself adverted to the existence of a “multiverse” or multiple universes in addition to our presently visible one whose diameter is already at least 20 billion light years wide in all directions.

Well, Dawkins must have been referring to cosmologists’ recent predictions (speculations!) arising from “String Theory” and the corollary “Kaluza-Klein Theory” whereby they BELIEVE that there COULD BE as many as 10 multiplied 500 times (or 10 with 500 more zeros to its right!) cosmic “valleys”. Each one of these cosmic “valleys” would have its own set of unique physical laws of physics. Our visible universe would be merely ONE small region within ONE such “valley” or cosmic bubble. In short, an infinity of infinities!

Wouldn’t that add even more mind-boggling evidence of God’s infinite power? And thereby practically demolishing any likelihood that each of all these “happened by chance” thru their own unique sets of inexplicable self-energized evolutionary process?

And what about the INFINITESIMAL aspect of God’s creation? The 10 August 2007 issue of SCIENCE magazine reports that the latest discoveries in the Attoscience of applied nuclear physics have already been applied to measurable and yet still significantly relevant increments of time – duration as incredibly infinitesimal as one attosecond. It is one second divided by 1018. It is therefore one-billionth of one nanosecond, or one-billionth of one-billionth of a second!

And so I believe there is a preponderance of physical and logical evidence all around us to lead me humbly to cry out: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord! God of power and might, heaven and earth are filled with Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”.

Tuesday, September 11

God in Science (Part 2)


The article entitled God vs. Science in the January 15, 2007 edition of TIME magazine, had this opening paragraph under the byline of David Van Biema:

“It’s an argument that has generated heat and light for centuries: whether religion and science can coexist. In the 4th century B.C., more than 2,000 years before Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory took hold, Aristotle questioned the role of a supernatural deity. When St. Thomas Aquinas unveiled his “proofs” that God existed circa 1270, he inflamed, rather than extinguished, the debate. And although the rapid progress of scientific discovery has demystified much of the world, disagreement over the unprovable elements has only intensified.”

From Mr. Van Biema’s very title itself, God vs. Science as against that of mine, God in Science, it is immediately clear that he and I are on opposite sides of this never-ending but still most fascinating issue. And so our professor and author of The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin), Richard Dawkins, was clearly Van Biema’s pre-selected champion in denying God’s role in creation during that January 2007 Time-orchestrated debate-interview of Prof. Dawkins against the eminent genome research pioneer Francis Collins.

Let me weigh in only on the following question posed by TIME because it is the least abstract and the only question posed whose various possible answers can be understood by most lay people without the need of expertise on philosophy or cosmology.

TIME: Professor Dawkins, you think Darwin’s theory of evolution does more than simply contradict the Genesis story?

DAWKINS: Yes. For centuries the most powerful argument for God’s existence from the physical world was the so-called argument from design: “Living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer.” But Darwin provided a simpler explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from very simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection. Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest. It should warn us against ever again assuming that because something is complicated, God must have done it. (emphasis supplied)

COLLINS: I don’t see that Professor Dawkins’ basic account of evolution is incompatible with God’s having designed it.

TIME: When would this have occurred?

COLLINS: By being outside of nature, God is also outside space and time. Hence, at the moment of the creation of the universe, God could also have activated evolution, with full knowledge of how it would turn out, perhaps even including our having this conversation. The idea that he could both foresee the future and also give us spirit and free will to carry out our own desires becomes entirely acceptable.

Mr. Collins was side-tracked from proceeding with his reply by another question from the Time referee. And so if not for such interruption, here’s what Collins could have or I would have said further, in order to complete the refutation of Prof. Dawkins’ highly improbable conclusion on evolution.

Let me start with Prof. Dawkins’ admission that “the most powerful argument for God’s existence”, is the fact that “living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently (better yet, OBVIOUSLY!) purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer”. And so if Dawkins’ attempted refutation of St. Thomas will be proven to be a dud, therefore my favorite mystic-theologian’s some 737-year old argument should remain as powerful as ever.

Dawkins’ attempted refutation of St. Thomas was Darwin’s discovery that some but NOT all fauna and flora (actually just a few thousands out of hundreds of millions of existing species!) evolved over millions of years from “simple beginnings…to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection”.

If Darwin’s findings a million years hence, were the year-by-year performance of computer programs over the past 50 years, our present day software would surely also exhibit such a purposeful improvement over time. Today’s Information Technology experts would laugh contemptuously a million years later even in their graves, if a latter-day Darwin would theorize that probably these remarkable improvements all happened by chance, without any intelligent Microsoft or IBM or Filipino computer-program designer having had any role in it. And wouldn’t that be exactly the same illogical substance of Prof. Dawkins’ sophistry?

Actually, Prof. Dawkins himself shot down his own argument in the same vein, by adding this comment: “Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest.” (emphasis added!)

For true enough, the God-created human brain of my chess hero Gary Kasparov alone by his lonesome, would have soundly beaten the prior years-long collective efforts of a “Dream Team” of IBM-organized artificial intelligence and chess experts and computer-programmers equipped with and represented by IBM’s Deep Blue super-computer. If not for Kasparov’s uncharacteristic mental lapse in a simple end-game situation, Kasparov would have clinched the 5-game match in his favor. It would therefore be mindbogglingly more of a “monster of improbability”, for us to believe that hundreds of millions of living species, including homo sapiens itself, were capable simply by chance, of evolving into their present day “complexity…elegance…(and) adaptive perfection”.

And so I submit that contrary to Professor Dawkins’ opinion, it is far more logical to believe that it could NOT be mere random chance as the prime cause of any purposeful evolution, Darwinian or not, but a conscious super-intelligent BEING “who am” and whom we call God Our Almighty Father!

12 September 2007

Friday, September 7

God in Science

Inside my military prison cell some 27 years ago, I was engrossed with a book about the "Cosmos" written by the late and popular cosmologist Carl Sagan.

Among the many of the fascinating wonders of our universe Sagan described, was the fact that at the time he wrote the book in 1978 or earlier, there were already some 10 billion known galaxies, each galaxy with a specific name or code number for identification, containing anywhere from 3 billion to as many as 100 billion stars each.

Now some thirty years later, astrophysicists tell us that the total number of known galaxies have grown by at least ten fold, or 100 billion and still increasing every day. These scientists have also found out (only recently in 1998) that the expansion rate of the universe continues to ACCELERATE ever since the "Big Bang" exploded some 13.4 billion years ago. As of last year, the estimated radius of the universe is AT LEAST 10 billion LIGHT YEARS, in ALL DIRECTIONS reckoned from the Earth.

And so, the most faraway galaxy must also be at least 10 billion light years away from our astronomers’ observation points here on earth. If so, that farthest galaxy must be as of today 8 September 2007, AT LEAST 186,000 x 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 365.25 days x 10 billion miles away from the Earth. Or 587 Billion miles multiplied by 100 billion! That galaxy is also going farther away at the rate of at least 186,000 miles per second, the distance traveled by light in one second.

Consider the fact that one of those 100 billion plus galaxies, is our own Milky Way, whose number of stars was first estimated many years ago to be some 3 billion. It is now even considered to have as many as 100 billion stars. One of those multi-billion stars is our own sun, to which our planet (meaning wandering body), Earth with its one solitary moon, is only one of eight (8) real planets revolving around the sun - - Pluto having been delisted last year. Our bigger wandering neighbors even have multiple moons. Neptune has 13, Uranus 27, Saturn 47 and Jupiter has 63 with 8 of them regular and 55 irregular moons!

My early fascination and wonder about our cosmos as a result of reading Carl Sagan, have more than doubled ever since I subscribed to the magazine Scientific American ( At this point however, I must first admit in transparent honesty dear readers/visitors, that these factual astronomical premises, have been trotted out in order to set you up! Yes, in order to lead as many of you as possible into, maybe just maybe, realizing how humblingly small and puny each of us are, in comparison with the Great Prime Being, who if He truly exists and which yours truly firmly believes He does exist and whom I call GOD our Almighty Father, must have been responsible for creating this mind-bogglingly limitless "cosmos". Its mathematically precise orderliness yet still with unfathomable complexity could not have been the result of random unplanned chance. Unless, unless one can logically believe that something like IBM’s Big Blue super computer which beat Kasparov in a chess match, can also be a product of self-design-and-construction by mere CHANCE. To me therefore, God must be far beyond our own individual or even collective minds to fully fathom, much less to second-guess or deny His existence.

Thus, I would like to "light a fire" or even just a small spark in the minds of my readers/visitors, and in my own mind even more, that human humility is not just a laudable virtue but a logically necessary attitude for truly understanding ourselves, human society and the whole wide world as well.

In my book Light a Fire II ( on Chapter 18, page 292 thereof, I referred to Charles Townes, the co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, who was honored for his long and excellent record of talks and writings about the importance of relating science and religion. Some of these articles were published by IBM and M.I.T. of Cambridge, Mass. For that Mr. Townes also won the Templeton Prize for Progress on research and discoveries about spiritual realities. The much belated recognition and award was worth £795,000 pounds-sterling, or more than U.S. $1.5 Million in March 2005.

During the award ceremonies Townes said that "Many people can’t realize that science basically involves assumption and faith", and that therefore "nothing is absolutely proved!"
In the November 2006 edition of Scientific American, astrophysicist Abraham Loeb’s article "The Dark Ages of the Universe", started with the following similar thoughts about the transcendent nature of mankind and the universe:

"When I look up into the sky at night, I often wonder whether we humans are too preoccupied with ourselves. There is much more to the universe than meets the eye on earth. As an astrophysicist I have the privilege of being paid to think about it, and it puts things in perspective for me. There are things that I would otherwise be bothered by – my own death, for example. Everyone will die sometime, but when I see the universe as a whole, it gives me a sense of longevity. I do not care so much about myself as I would otherwise, because of the big picture.

Cosmologists are addressing some of the fundamental questions that people attempted to resolve over the centuries through philosophical thinking, but we are doing so based on systematic observation and a quantitative methodology. Perhaps the greatest triumph of the past century has been a model of the universe that is supported by a large body of data. The value of such a model to our society is sometimes underappreciated. When I open the daily newspaper as part of my morning routine, I often see lengthy descriptions of conflicts between people about borders, possessions or liberties. Today’s news is often forgotten a few days later. But when one opens ancient texts that have appealed to a broad audience over a longer period of time, such as the Bible (emphasis supplied!), what does one often find in the opening chapter? A discussion of how the constituents of the universe – light, stars, life – were created. Although humans are often caught up with mundane problems, they are curious about the big picture. As citizens of the universe we cannot help but wonder how the first sources of light formed, how life came into existence and whether we are alone as intelligent beings in this vast space. Astronomers in the 21st century are uniquely positioned to answer these big questions."

Some 2,000 years ago, a former killer-Pharisee suddenly and dramatically turned Christian apostle, wrote about his unbelieving erstwhile colleagues as follows:

"For everything that could have been known about God was clear to them: God Himself made it plain. For though we cannot see Him, we can at least discover Him through His works, for He created the world and (thereby) we understand Him to be eternal and all-powerful, and to be God." (Romans 1: 19-20)

Enough for today! But I shall continue and proceed from these lines of thought next Wednesday September 12.