Friday, July 20, 2007

Faulty Logic

Here's a recent post from Enteng. I tried posting it two weeks ago but was prevented by a Blogspot glitch.

Math was my favorite subject. I still remember an exercise where, using theorems and postulates, you had to prove that 1+0=1. That was fun.

That’s probably why I was gravitated to a career in computer programming, which required a rigid discipline in logic. Faulty logic can prove disastrous.

Consider, for example, the following instructions for an ATM machine: “If requested amount is not less than the minimum amount or requested amount is not more than the maximum amount, then dispense cash requested.” No matter what amount you request, it will always dispense cash – probably not what the programmer intended. Think about it.

When I became active in political advocacy (which started only during the anti-Erap campaign), I realized that people easily fall prey to faulty logic, especially if it conveniently aligns with their own biases.

The classic example is the law of transitivity. A simplified application of this law works this way: If A likes B, and B likes C, then A will most probably like C. In advertising, this translates to the power of endorsements. If I like Piolo, and Piolo says he wears Bench, I will most probably consider buying Bench. Logical.

Here’s how it gets distorted: If A dislikes C, and B dislikes C, then A likes B. Let’s frame it in more real terms: Enteng dislikes GMA, and Erap dislikes GMA, therefore Enteng likes Erap. Not necessarily true. To prove the point, consider this: Enteng dislikes fish, and Hitler dislikes fish, does that mean Enteng likes Hitler? Absurd. And yet, many EDSA 2 veterans who fought for the removal of Erap have bought the palace line that anyone who criticizes GMA is pro-Erap.

The Erap camp is guilty of distorted logic as well. The more logical reading of the GO win in the last elections should be: People disliked GMA, GMA liked (and endorsed) TU, therefore people disliked and DID NOT vote for TU candidates.

But they intentionally misread it as: Erap endorsed GO candidates, people voted for GO candidates, therefore people still like Erap. Using this conclusion, they warn government that people will not take too kindly an Erap conviction. The biggest counterargument to this is the debacle of John Osmena. Erap endorsed him and he still lost badly.

People chide me for the things I do, unfortunately, based on wrong logic. Some would say: I opposed Erap, I oppose GMA, therefore I’m a communist... because that’s what communists do – oppose and attempt to topple government. Many don’t know that when we started the Heal our Land Movement in 2003, we prayed for GMA every week. It was only after the Garci scandal that I started advocating accountability from GMA.

Others taunt me for endorsing some GO senators only to decry their betrayal of the people’s mandate in the process of selecting the senate president. Well... election is the season to be partisan, and I believe that more than just voting, we should campaign for candidates whom we think can serve the people best. And if they later turn out to be deficient or deceitful, let us not tire in denouncing their misdeeds. The alternative – to sit idly by, will not do much good either.

While on the subject, I cannot fathom the logic of Villar’s unholy alliance with the Senate administration bloc. I know he had to do it to secure the senate presidency, and enter the 2010 presidential derby with an edge. But does he really think the advantage of the office can outweigh the stigma of being identified with GMA? Didn’t he learn from the last election? Or does he really believe that our people have such short memory?

Maybe it’s true – politicians are a different species altogether... the kind that’s immune to the laws of logic.

Finally, there are things we do that defy logic. Some people ask why we even bother to pursue impeachment when we don’t have the numbers in Congress. Logical question. The short and simple answer is: because it’s the right thing to do. Had we, as a people, stuck only to what is logical– EDSA 1 and 2 would never have happened.

More than logic, our actions should be guided by a sense of right and wrong. If you bothered to listen to the Garci tapes or read its transcript, you will reach only one logical conclusion: that GMA most probably cheated. In fact, very few (including the most avid supporters of GMA) will deny this.

Yet, they will not act on it and will offer you all sorts of reason to rationalize their position. Everybody cheats anyway. She would have won just the same even if she did not cheat. I’m glad she cheated- she saved us from an FPJ presidency. Who will replace her. Would you rather have Noli. The economy is doing well – why rock the boat.

It’s a long list of reasons, each with a veneer of logical infallibility that makes it seem right. But at its guts, you know it’s neither logical nor right. It’s sad to see how years of despair and disillusionment with our leaders have made our people morally callous and all too willing to accept the lesser evil rather than fighting for what is truly right.

There is an important lesson in this last election. You let cheating of the magnitude revealed in the Garci tapes go unpunished, expect the next wave to be more brazen and rampant. That is the logical progression.

For the benefit of the logically impaired amongst you, let me end this piece with a reiteration of my position on key issues today:

1. Yes, I believe GMA cheated and I will continue to ask for accountability because it is the right thing to do.

2. No, it doesn’t mean I’m pro-Erap, much less support any effort to restore him to power. I still believe we did right at EDSA 2. But it’s in the hands of the court now. And unless there are clear indications of deliberate efforts to subvert justice, we should all accept the court’s verdict, whatever it may be.

3. Yes, I agree that the constitution should be amended, but only after GMA’s term lest it be misused to extend her term of office.

4. No, I am not an obstructionist who will oppose any and all initiatives of GMA. Neither will I support everything from the opposition.

5. Yes, I can sense that the economy is doing well. But it is no excuse to condone the cheating or to be silent in the face of unabated killings, rising levels of corruption, and imposition of the anti-terror law. It’s quite possible that the economy might do even better if the issue of legitimacy is finally settled. After all, our neighbors in the region – including Vietnam, are faring much better than we are.

6. Yes, I will continue to campaign for and against candidates in future elections, even when some whom I campaigned for in the past turn out to be disappointments, ever hopeful that we will one day have the right mix of leaders who will lead the path to a better Philippines. And yes, I will probably campaign against Manny Villar in 2010 if he aligns with the administration this early.

7. YES, I will continue to pray for our country. In the end, kingdoms and nations rise and fall not by man’s wisdom or folly, but according to God’s sovereign will.

God bless the Philippines.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


GOD helps those that help themselves. So when Migz Zubiri thanked God, he was also thanking Gloria, Garci, Bedol, and Abalos: the faces of our modern "democrazy".

Imagine that. The power and the glory now belong to Migz, now, if not forever. We commiserate with Chavit Singson ­ how in heaven's name could Chavit have lost his top rank to Migz? Poor guy must be really depressed. What a difference a month makes. Chavit was once upon a time first in Maguindanao: but as we now know, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Even the improbable ones.

Now, Migz owes a lot. When he thanked God, Mama Mary, and all the saints, he was being a grateful person. Grateful, maybe not to the people of Maguindanao, but definitely thankful to all those who helped make his election as credible as Mrs. Arroyo's 2004 victory. As the second most impoverished province of ARMM, we can only hope Maguindanao gets the attention it deserves from him and that it's not just the usual suspects, who get to enjoy the blessings helping Migz win will give.

As for the millions of us that voted for Koko Pimentel, we had it coming. We were old-fashioned enough to believe what mattered more was a genuine mandate, that our votes would count as much as the votes for Migz. How were we to know, that neither our votes nor Migz' votes, mattered at all? What mattered most was never in the public's hands: it was the counting, and who did the counting, that mattered. It didn't even matter if the votes were there, and it didn't matter if all anyone wanted was a chance to vote again, without terrorism and manufactured documents substituting for an election.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


"Muslims cannot dishonor a treaty; they cannot mutilate the dead; they cannot kill women, children, the elderly or any person who does not carry weapons" - Quote from a Khutba (sermon during Friday congregational prayers in the mosques) prepared by the Mufti's of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
The Black & White Movement condemns in the strongest possible terms the beheading of ten marine soldiers following a firefight with members of the 8th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT). "It is an inhuman and barbaric act that has no place in any civilized society and we ask that all means be exhausted to bring the perpetrators to justice", says BnW lead convenor Enteng Romano.

Islam condemns decapitation or mutilation of human beings. Filipinos of all faiths decry this brutal act. We condole with the families of the dead.

We are likewise dismayed and horrified at the substandard equipment with which the marines were made to defend themselves. TV news footage showing the failure of a trench mortar to fire as the marines fought for their lives was pitiful and heartrending. We place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the AFP leadership and the current administration for its failure to curtail widespread corruption in military procurement. Once again, the lowly soldier pays the ultimate price for greed and corruption in the military establishment.

We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urge the protagonists to return to the negotiating table to pursue a long term solution to the armed struggle that roils Mindanao.

We are one nation yearning for peace.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Urgent Appeal to GO Senators

This is a letter we sent to GO Senators, particularly Senators Escudero and Cayetano, last 28 June. For the record, we have spoken with Sen. Escudero about this but have yet to receive a response from Sen. Cayetano.

Dear Senators

We are alarmed at the way the fight for the Senate presidency is developing. The 14th Congress has not yet opened, and already we are seeing the people’s mandate for an opposition-dominated Senate being squandered.

We view with grave concern that because of a factious opposition bloc, it is ultimately the administration bloc who will determine the outcome of the senate presidency. And the next senate president is inevitably allied, if not beholden, to the administration.

We, therefore, urge the opposition senators ‐ if not the whole bloc, then at least those who won under the GO ticket, to hold a caucus and decide exclusively among yourselves who the next senate president will be. We call on each and every one of you to rise above personal ambitions and loyalties for the higher interest of the people who have pinned their hopes and aspirations upon you in the last election.

The worst thing that could happen is for the opposition to win with an overwhelming mandate the majority of the 12 seats contested, only to end up as the minority in the 14th Congress.

We were one with you when you fought the good fight and celebrated a well‐deserved victory. We pray that you will not fail us on this very important issue.

Vicente R. Romano III
Lead Convenor – Black and White Movement