Tuesday, October 23

Reductio Ad Absurdum


Reductio Ad Absurdum

It is the most powerful yet easily understood and demonstrable weapon in the arsenal of simple LOGIC. We learned about it early during the course of our second year highschool Geometry class.

“RAA” is employed in order to prove CATEGORICALLY that if the consequences of a particular assumption or supposed fact have been logically REDUCED to ABSURDITY, therefore the assumption itself is FALSE and the OPPOSITE premise or fact is TRUE. For example, if you assumed and believed in the dark that you were proceeding WESTWARD, and consequently at dawn you arrived directly face to face with the SUN

which always rises from the EAST, you then knew that you were actually going the OPPOSITE EASTWARD direction.

Let us therefore apply this most basic logical tool to

the Philippine police authorities' most recent new and surprising theory and apparent BELIEF, that the powerful blast that occurred last week which killed eleven (11) people and injured more than a hundred others at the Glorieta mall in Makati City, was ACCIDENTALLY caused by the spontaneous combustion of diesel fumes and methane gas. The foul smelling gas supposedly leaked from an underground sewage collection cistern, that was somewhere near a large diesel fuel tank. The latter's fumes “could have combined

with the methane to ignite the explosion accidentally.” That's the latest chemical theory and supposed BELIEF of the Philippine National Police.

Please note that “accidental” spontaneous combustion of diesel fumes mixed with methane gas from human waste, is a one-in-a-million chance event. Thus today, chemical engineering professors from my alma mater, the University of the Philippines announced publicly that under the known circumstances at the Glorieta Mall, such a powerful “accident” was most unlikely. And if it were an accident from the point of view

of our citizenry, our local stock market investors would NOT have unloaded their shares in a hurry after learning about this latest crazy police theory. Thus there was a huge 4% one day drop of the market index yesterday. (Please see

accompanying news articles in today's Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Assuming therefore that the police authorities and the national leadership truly BELIEVE such a TALL TALE, why is it that there is absolutely no organized effort by sanitary and chemical engineers to inspect other similar underground sew

age systems serving other and much larger and OLDER malls, high rise buildings and high-density public gathering places?

Instead however,how come that thousands of additional policemen and soldiers with K-9 bomb sniffers in tow have been deployed against PEOPLE at the malls, airports, seaports and even at major street intersections? And what was the need for an emergency meeting of the National Security Council? All these and the simultaneous public warnings of the government to guard against non-accidental TERRORISTS and not ag

ainst EASILY DETECTED leakages of foul smelling methane gas, consequently and clearly lead to the logical conclusion that any reliance on the police authorities' foul smelling moro-moro sleuthing, has been REDUCED to ABSOLUTE ABSURDITY! In short, they DO NOT BELIEVE their own chemical propaganda! And they themselves have known it to be FALSE.

Is it any wonder therefore why Ayala Corporation – the controlling stockholders in the Glorieta mall, have just decided to hire their own expert investigators, particularly after it was discovered that two men in Army uniforms were “planting evidence” yesterday at the blast's premises? ( Please read the related news article below)

Thus as my 57 plus years-old highschool Geometry

textbook often tacked on at the end of a logical exposition-- quod erat demonstrandum...

2 men stopped from planting evidence in Glorietta

By DJ Yap


Last updated 05:02am (Mla time) 10/23/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- Police thwarted an attempt on Sunday night by two men in Army uniforms to plant a bag of evidence and foul up an investigation into the explosion that wrecked Glorietta 2 shopping mall, the Philippine Daily Inquirer learned Monday.

The two men were barred from entering a cordoned area of the wreckage after they failed to show security clearance and were ordered to leav

e, said the source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The plastic bag was left with police but its conten

t was not revealed.

The source said the two men in Army Rescue uniforms, accompanied by other men in civilian clothes, showed up at the investigation site at 6 p.m. As they turned to leave, Supt. Gilbert Cruz, Makati police chief, talked to them at a table set up near the entrance to the wreck.

“Voices were raised but no guns were pointed at anyone,” said the source. “The men eventually agreed to leave without the bag.”

Sought for a reaction, Cruz refused to confirm or deny whether the incident took place, saying he was just “following police procedure,” and direct

ed all inquiries to his superiors. “It’s a very sensitive matter,” he told the Inquirer.

Councilor Jejomar Erwin Binay, head of the M

akati Rescue Team, said he was informed of what happened by his men on the field, but that he did not have firsthand knowledge of the incident.

No contamination

“From what I hear, it really happened, but I do

n’t have all the details,” he said.

“What is clear here is that there are systems in place to ensure that there is no contamination of evidence. We have to be vigilant that all the evid

ence is authentic,” he told the Inquirer.

As for the plastic bag, the source said it was still at the site. “Probably the forensic people are examining it. I doubt it can be used as evidence,” he said.

Since the Sunday incident, “all the Army Rescue members have been restricted from entering the site,” the source said.

Businessmen jittery over mall blast

By Daxim Lucas

The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 05:02am (Mla time) 10/23/2007

MANILA, Philippines -- The Glorietta 2 mall explosion set back Philippine stocks on Monday and caused concern among businessmen that three days after the incident no solid leads have surfaced on its cause.

In a telephone interview, Makati Business Club (MBC

) executive director Alberto Lim urged the government to ensure the credibility of the ongoing probe into the blast that killed 11 people and injured scores of others.

“Over the short term, we’re quite nervous about it,”

Lim said. “In fact, the [financial] markets have already been affected by it.”

On Monday, the Philippine Stock Exchange index plung

ed close to 4 percent, due in part to jitters over the blast. Index heavyweight Ayala Land Inc. -- the operator of Glorietta mall -- was one of the biggest lo

sers of the day.


Lim added that the business nervousness was being aggravated by fears that a conclusive answer about last week’s blast may never emerge.

“We may never know for sure,” he said, adding that the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing had been blamed on the late President Ferdinand Marcos until communists were exposed to be the culprits three decades later.

The MBC is the umbrella organization of the country’s largest corporations and has taken an activist stance in local politics in the past, most recently in 2005 when it called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down in the wake of the “Hello Garci” vote-rigging scandal.

Ayala Land and its parent firm Ayala Corp. are members of the MBC, with the Ayala family being influential voices on the organization.

Cautious prognosis

Lim’s prognosis over the longer term was also cautious.

“Over the long term, we still can’t say,” he said. “We can’t say if it will lead to a downward slide [in business confidence].”

Asked to explain the business community’s skepticism, Lim said this was due mainly to the timing of the blast, which came on the heels of an alleged bribery scandal in Malacañang purportedly to head off another impeachment attempt against Ms Arroyo.

To remedy the situation, Lim urged the authorities to conduct a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation on the blast.

Lim noted that there would be substantial “opportu

nity costs” as a result of the incident, especially to the tourism industry.

“The good thing is that the memory of the tourism i

ndustry is usually short,” he said.

Losing trust in Gloria

By John Nery

The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 01:16am (Mla time) 10/23/2007

It bewilders me when even pragmatic businessme

n like Babe Romualdez describe Sen. Panfilo Lacson as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “archenemy.” This is a misreading of the situation that flatters Lacson but under mines the efforts of the loyal opposition.

That he is on the opposite side of wherever it is President Arroyo finds herself is almost a given. But archenemy? That sounds almost like he is to Ms Arroyo what Ninoy Aquino was to Ferdinand Marcos.

But Aquino worked closely with Gerry Roxas and Jovy Salonga and Pepe Diokno and the old man Tañada (the only person, incidentally, to be elected to the postwar Senate five consecutive times). I cannot think of a single senator today who seems less disposed to work with other opposition senators than Lacson. (Begin by watching his body language on the Senate floor.)

The enmity between Aquino and Marcos was also real; perhaps there, too, is bad blood between Lacson and Ms Arroyo. But I remember the first time she visited the Inquirer after she assumed the presidency. It was December 2001. At convivial cocktails (those were the days), editors and reporters took turns sitting across from her and firing questions. When it was my turn, I asked her about the palpable animosity between Lacson, Joseph Estrada’s favorite policeman, and her spokesman and confidant, Bobi Tiglao (now the ambassador to Greece). Did her spokesman reflect her own attitude to (at th

at time) the newly elected senator?

I was struck by her answer: “I think Bobi is more hawkish about Ping than I am.”

* * *

To be sure, a lot of water has since passed under the proverbial bridge. For those who spend much of their time imagining an alternative ending t

o Fernando Poe Jr.’s presidential candidacy in 2004, however, those waters are decidedly murky. Poe’s supporters see Lacson as the spoiler, the illegitimate candidate who split the opposition. How many of the three million votes he received would have gone to FPJ, they continue to wonder.

It must be admitted, however: Since entering the Senate, Lacson has created a popular reputation for damaging exposés. In no small measure, he is responsible for the President’s low opinion ratings. But as I have written before, Lacson’s impact is felt through his influence in media, not his work in legislation or in organizing the opposition. He is merely the gatekeeper of secrets about to be revealed in Senate hearings, the dark angel hovering over the tracks of the First Gentleman, the overflowing source of anti-Arroyo statements. (Other senators envy his access to various media organizations.)

In “The Image,” Daniel Boorstin defined celebrity in the modern era as the state of being well-known; a celebrity is someone known for being known. That makes sense to me: Lacson is the anti-Gloria celebrity.

* * *

Does that mean he is the anti-Gloria leader, the fulcrum of the opposition? If Speaker Jose de Venecia met with him last August under that m

isimpression, then there is no help for the gentleman from Pangasinan province. He will be replaced when Congress session resumes next month.

* * *

The widespread belief that the Arroyo administration, or rogue elements in it, could be behind the Oct. 19 explosion in Glorietta offers more proof -- if more proof were needed -- that Malacañang has lost the public’s trust.

Is it possible, not merely to quantify, but to “monetize

,” this loss of trust?

“Where is the Wealth of All Nations?” the landmark World Bank study, offers a general answer.

* * *

Let me quote at length from the start of Chapter 7: “The wealth estimates show that in most countries produced and natural capital account for a small fraction [only 22 percent in the Philippines] of total wealth. Most of a country’s wealth is captured by what we called intangible capital. But what does intangible capital stand for in t

he wealth estimates? By construction, it captures all those assets that are unaccounted for in the wealth estimates. It then includes assets, referred to as human capital, such as the skills and know-how embodied in the labor force. It also encompasses social capital, that is, the amount of trust among people in a society and their ability to work together for common purposes. Finally, it includes those governance elements that boost the

productivity of the economy. For example, if an economy has a very efficient judicial system, clear property rights, and an effective government, the effects will be a higher total wealth and thus an increase in the intangible capital residual.”

Got that? I didn’t either, not in the first two or three passes. (It explains why the country’s GDP is half that of Singapore while its total wealth is only a tenth of that of the tiny city-state.) But a companion study issued by the World Bank, “Ensuring Environmental Sustainability,” contains a sidebar that makes it possible for non-economists like

us to appreciate the possibilities. All told, the other study concludes, “three factors account for 89 percent of intangible wealth.” That would be the rule of law, education and remittances.

The clincher: “A one-point increase in the rule of law inde

x (on a 100-point scale) boosts total wealth by over $100 in low-income countries, over $400 in middle-income countries, and nearly $3,000 in high-income countries.”

Conversely? Conversely we would have to do our own

math. But perhaps the resulting numbers can help make the case even economists -- like, say, President Arroyo -- can understand. Loss of trust in public institutions and the rule of law is costing us real money.

* * *


No way out

The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Last updated 00:53am (Mla time) 10/23/2007

It is a measure of the deep public distrust for the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration that so many people instinctively suspected it to have engin

eered the explosion that killed 11 people at the Glorietta mall in Makati last Friday. Not a few people were ready to believe Sen. Antonio Trillanes when he accused the administration, without offering a shred of evidence, of planning the blast to divert public attention from the payola scandal involving the distribution of millions of pesos right inside Malacañang. But whether it was a deliberate attack, by terrorists inside g

overnment or outside, or an accident, as investigators now seem inclined to believe, one thing is clear: The explosion blew the payola scandal off the headlines.

The diversion should be a temporary one. Without trivializing the Glorietta tragedy, the public should turn its attention once more to the greater national tragedy that is the Palace payola scandal. Until Friday’s explosion, pressure was buildin

g up for the Arroyo administration to give a full, frank and honest explanation for the distribution of sums ranging from P200,000 to P500,000 to hundreds of congressmen and governors who had been invited to a meeting at the Palace. The country’s Catholic bishops denounced the incident as a sign of the “moral bankruptcy” of the country’s leaders. The Makati Business Club called for the creation of an independent body, composed of respected individuals, to conduct a formal inquiry. Both houses of Congress planned an investigation.

There should be no letup in demanding a full accounting of what transpired after the meeting presided over by the President. Up to this point, the administration has not clarified anything, but instead has simply sought to confound its critics and confuse the public regarding the incident.

When unnamed sources exposed the payoffs, Malacañang at first flatly denied the story. But then Rep. Antonio Cuenco of Cebu province publicly admitted that he had accepted a cash gift at the Palace. Gov. Eduardo Panlilio of Pampanga had a similar confession, and Gov. Joselito Mendoza of Bulacan confirmed it. Rep. Bienvenido Abante of Manila also said he got some money after the Palace meeting. With two officials each present at two separate meetings confirming the cash distribution, the administration finally conceded that money might have changed hands in the Palace premises, but dissembl

ed as to the source of the funds and the purpose.

At one time or another, administration officials said the money was meant either as financial assistance for local projects or help to local officials who had to support their own candidates in the “barangay” [village] elections or a token of appreciation for the congressmen’s support for the administration’s legislative agenda. Interior an

d Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno at first said the money came from the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, but the group denied it. Puno next claimed that the money came from the House of Representatives, but Speaker Jose de Venecia said if the House had funds to be handed out to congressmen he would have done the distributing himself. Then other Palace officials said the money could have come from pr

ivate sources.

But in their mad scramble to come up with an explanation, no one seems to have bothered to check if any of these explanations can stand legal scrutiny. The law says any disbursement of public funds must be covered by a receipt or voucher. Nobody demanded or got it in this case. And what if the money came from private donatio

ns? The Administrative Code says that money and property received by a public official “must be accounted for as government funds and government property.” The whole affair has illegal written all over it.

Still the most pathetic attempt to justify the payola

was that given by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza and some administration apologists who claimed that the giving of cash to local officials was a longstanding practice of Philippine presidents. This was denied by former President Fidel V. Ramos, who also pointed out that Atienza was not the Manila mayor during his presidency.

Ramos should have reminded Atienza that tradition does not make bribery legal or moral. Murder is as old as Cain, but nobody has suggested that long practice has made it acceptable.

It is becoming harder and harder for the administration to extricate itself from this mess. So it will probably try to protect itself either by keeping its lips sealed or concocting more lies. How much longer will our other institutions put up with the


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Editorial Cartoon

October 23,2007


The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Editorial Cartoon

October 23,2007