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Protecting the Democratic Process
Tuesday, 13 Apr 2010

Episode #048
(24:56 min 22.8MB)
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Understanding that the integrity of Philippine elections cannot be left to the government alone, Attorney Carlos Medina Jr., Ateneo Human Rights Center executive director, speaks about the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE). LENTE is a non-partisan election watch group he helped form in 2007 to monitor the then national elections. Composed of lawyers, law students and paralegals, Atty. Medina discusses how LENTE has evolved and expanded its efforts in preparation for the May 2010 elections.

He explains that aside from monitoring the proceedings, LENTE will also work to ensure accountability during the electoral process. It is seeking accreditation with the Commission on Elections as a citizen’s arm so that it can partner with it not only in the filing of electoral fraud cases but also in educating the public on protecting its right to vote.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Human Rights Issues for the Next Administration
Friday, 12 Mar 2010

Episode #047
(32:45 min 29.9MB)
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Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila de Lima analyses the country’s human rights situation. She discusses this as a reminder that the platforms of candidates for national elections must center on what does not change: freedom. Freedom is about the protection of human rights. While there is no country that protects all human rights, there are some that are closer than others. Unfortunately, the Philippines is not one of those nations. She therefore proposes two areas where a solution from the next administration is needed.

The first is the problem of the slow process of justice. There are not enough prosecutions. Powerful individuals are rarely indicted. She explains that the core of enforcing human rights is prosecutions that lead to convictions. Without this, all efforts to protect human rights will be incomplete.

The second area that the next set of elected officials should also look into is putting an end to extrajudicial and vigilante-style killings. There is no justice in murder. She stresses that the police and the military should be the first to come to the defense of human rights.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O. The audio is courtesy of ABS-CBN.

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On the Matter of the Next Chief Justice: A Political Analysis
Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010

Episode #046
(18:28 min 16.9MB)
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The second part of our program on the appointment of the next chief justice has Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, Manuel Quezon III, discuss the political aspects behind this issue. He first talks about the legal ping pong that happened between President Garcia and President Macapagal over Garcia’s last minute appointments. He also explains the immediate ramifications that resulted because of this.

He then frames the debate over the appointment of Justice Puno’s successor against the backdrop of President Arroyo’s last State of the Nation Address. She had indicated that she would exercise her powers until the very last minute of her term. Quezon analyses the effect her appointment of the next chief justice could have on public perception and the consequences on the reputation of the Supreme Court.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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On the Matter of the Next Chief Justice: A Constitutional Perspective
Monday, 8 Feb 2010

Episode #045
(14:02 min 12.8MB)
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Chief Justice Reynato Puno reaches mandatory retirement on 17 May 2010. Two conflicting concerns arise because of this: a vacancy in a critical position in the Supreme Court vs. the constitutional ban on midnight appointments. Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, explores these constitutional issues. On one hand, the constitution bans midnight appointments. Thus, the president cannot make any appointments after March 10. The only exception would be temporary appointments to the executive department in cases where this is absolutely necessary.

However, the constitution also states that a new chief justice has to be appointed within 90 days. Since the new president will only be inaugurated on June 30, there seems to be some contradiction. Fr. Bernas, S.J., explains that when two provisions seem at variance with each other, the first thing to do is to look for ways to make them both work. That is feasible in this case. After inauguration, the new president would still have 45 days to appoint a new chief justice.

He also explains that the Supreme Court has procedures in case of the absence of a chief justice for a short period of time. Should this happen, the next most senior justice takes over the administrative duties of the chief justice. Substantive concerns are the responsibility of all the justices. A vacancy can therefore be managed satisfactorily.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Nationwide Automated Elections
Friday, 5 Feb 2010

Episode #044
(40:37 min 55.7MB)
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Attorney Ferdinand Rafanan, director of the law department of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), discusses how COMELEC is preparing to conduct the country’s first nationwide fully automated elections. He explains the new voting process and the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. Atty. Rafanan also talks about the different contingency measures in place should the automated systems malfunction.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Assessing the Country’s Readiness for Poll Automation
Wednesday, 3 Feb 2010

Episode #043
(47:40 min 43.6MB)
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Bantay Balota lawyer, Ronald Solis, questions the capability of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to execute a nationwide automated election. He points out several administrative and technical issues that COMELEC should tackle. Attorney Solis focuses on eight critical areas: source code review, printing of ballots, education and training, testing and sealing of machines, transmission concerns, access to the server, manual audit and a continuity plan. He discusses each point extensively, examines possible scenarios and offers recommendations to address deficiencies.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Is the Global Financial Crisis a Liberal Crisis?
Monday, 21 Dec 2009

Episode #042
(46:07 min 42.2MB)
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Critics of liberalism would like to blame the onset of the global financial crisis on it. However, Dr. Felipe Medalla, Foundation for Economic Freedom chairman, argues otherwise. He points to the weakening of the rule of law in the United States as one of the main factors for the crisis. He talks about how the corruption in its financial system and regulatory failures led to the meltdown.

Dr. Medalla also discusses how the financial crisis is a case of an oversimplified belief in the inherent stability of markets. The U.S. government paid too little attention to the valid case for basic regulation. The crisis is an important indicator of the need for an efficient rule of law to keep markets free and competitive. However, the danger is that governments might overcorrect now and smother markets in badly crafted regulations.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Tchaikovsky.

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Acquisition of Property in the Philippines
Tuesday, 15 Dec 2009

Episode #041
(25:21 min 23.8MB)
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In the Philippines, the problems of property rights are complex. Dr. Arturo Corpuz, vice president for Urban and Regional Planning of Ayala Land, draws from personal experience and speaks about land acquisition problems. He discusses how property rights are meaningful only to the extent that you can utilize the land and extract value from it. Unfortunately difficulties with ownership, documentation and process, zoning and access hamper the realization of property’s full potential.

This does serious damage to economic development. Land that could be used commercially but is tied up in red tape and litigation is dead capital. The amount of dead capital in the country is staggeringly high. This is one of the causes of poor economic performance, but most people are not aware of it.

Dr. Corpuz also touches on possible solutions, but states that these are unlikely without adequate infrastructure and institutional reforms.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Property and Political Philosophy
Monday, 07 Dec 2009

Episode #040
(46:10 min 42.2MB)
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Dr. Emmanuel de Dios, dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics, examines the development of the idea of property rights in western philosophy. He explains that the rationale for property rights can be summed up into two opposing thoughts: the natural rights view and the welfare or utilitarian view. The natural rights notion is that property rights are absolute. They are intrinsically linked to the individual’s aim for liberty, well-being and progress, and they cannot be tampered with.

The utilitarian notion, on the other hand, is that they are relative and can be modified to aim at social improvement. He explains that this welfare view is what fuelled Karl Marx’s position. Marx believed that it is desirable to actually re-arrange property rights, tinker with the market, and realize a net social gain by crafting better arrangements through revolutionary politics. However, history has proven Marx wrong. The economic collapse of Socialism showed that stable property rights and a functioning market work far, far better than political command-and-control systems that only direct economies into inefficiency, waste and stagnation.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann and Dan-O.

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Property Rights in the Philippines
Monday, 05 Oct 2009

Episode #039
(23:08 min 21.1MB)
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Drawing from John Nye’s talk on elites and reform, Noel Maurer, associate professor of Harvard Business School, talks about a time in our history when dominant interests found it beneficial to allow reforms in the country.

In the early 20th century, American conservative elites wanted to keep the Philippines after defeating Spain but ran into strong popular opposition from the Democrats. Maurer explains how the elites changed the public’s opinion by convincing them that American rule would be beneficial to Filipinos. He talks about the different reforms that William Taft and other American policy makers passed in relation to property rights. It was believed that this would radically improve the material conditions of Filipinos. Unfortunately this largely failed.

Maurer discusses the reasons for this failure and concludes that there is no magic bullet. It is not as simple as fixing one thing. There were other problems that might have been wrong with the Philippine economy that might have needed to be addressed concurrently. Thus simply giving formal property rights did not resolve the bigger issues

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann.

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Will Elites Permit Reform?
Tuesday, 17 Aug 2009

Episode #038
(20:32 min 18.8MB)
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Professor John Nye of George Mason University discusses the importance of New Institutional Economics for developing countries. He talks about how reforms are best understood from the default position of poverty. In fact it is the prosperity of some nations that is a rare and recent event. The real issue is how countries can rise out of destitution, and why it is particularly difficult to do so.

Nye explains that elites distrust reform because they are not sure they will remain unscathed. The key then, is to broker a compromise between the leading factions that will open up the economy in the long run, but will preserve the existing order in the short term. Real world compromise requires not only getting the elites to agree to transformation, but also to create vested interest in further reforms.

John Nye's paper on "Why Do Elites Permit Reform?" is included in the The Annual Proceedings of the Wealth and Well-Being of Nations, 2008-2009 Vol. 1, edited by Emily Chamlee-Wright.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann.

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Lessons from the Obama Campaign
Friday, 17 Apr 2009

Episode #037
(56:13 min 52.7MB)
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Joe Hansen, U.S. Democratic Party political consultant, shares anecdotes form the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign. He attributes its success to its “standing the traditional campaign structure on its head.” He talks about how it was run on the basis of respect, inclusion and empowerment. Hansen mentions how there were no preconditions; anybody who wanted to work in the campaign was welcomed. He also contrasts Obama’s campaign style with that of Clinton’s and McCain’s and discusses their mistakes.

Hansen also compares the role of civil society organizations in the Philippines and in the US. He discusses their importance in political life. He urges them to keep working to influence politicians’ decisions and to hold officials accountable for their promises. After all, democracy is strengthened by these continuous interactions.

The music is provided by Dieter Bachmann.

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