Monday, February 28, 2005

New blogspots

Two new blogspots that are closed to my heart have been created recently:

Nonlinear Dynamics Research Group
The official blog of the group.

A personal blog on numbers, numbers, and numbers.

For your information.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mindanao Truth Commission Report

Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao
(InPEACE Mindanao)

June 2003 – March 2004


March 3, 2004
Davao City, Philippines


One year after the deadly March 4 bombing of the Davao International Airport, the peoples of Mindanao, most especially the people of Davao,
continue to seek the truth and cry for justice.

The Mindanao Truth Commission hereby submits to the public the initial results of its Independent Fact Finding Mission on the Mindanao Bombings and Human Rights Violations.

Given the breadth and sheer immensity of the task of uncovering the truth behind the mystery bombings and human rights violations in Mindanao,
not to mention the very limited resources of a citizen-led initiative,
it is simply impossible to immediately conclude the Mission after at least
eight months of work.

However, the Commission has, indeed, covered relatively substantial ground and is now submitting to the public a Progress Report on its
Independent Fact Finding Mission.

The following is the Mindanao Truth Commission's Abridged Progress
Report on the Independent Fact Finding Mission on the Mindanao Bombings and Human Rights Violations. The Abridged Report covers the period June 2003, upon the formation of the Mindanao Truth Commission, until March 2004, upon the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Davao bombings.

This Abridged Report is an abstraction of its more than 150-page Progress
Report which covers the following:

  • Chapter 1 The Mindanao Context

    • a. Socio Demographic Profile

    • b. Brief History

  • Chapter 2 The Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao

  • Chapter 3 The Mindanao Truth Commission

    • a. Framework of the Independent Fact Finding Mission

    • b. Timetable

    • c. Decorum

    • d. Composition

  • Chapter 4 Presentation of Data/Evidences

    • a. The 7 IFFM Sessions and Data/Evidences Gathered

    • b. The Mindanao Bombings (A Chronology)

    • c. The Mindanao Bombings (A Perspective)

    • d. Summary of Legal Cases

    • e. Summary of Individuals Charged by the State (As Suspects)

    • f. The Mindanao Human Rights Situation (A Profile)

    • g. The Mindanao Human Rights Situation (A Perspective)

  • Chapter 5 Initial Findings

  • Chapter 6 Initial Recommendations

This Executive Summary lifts only the salient points from Chapters 1-
4 and focuses mainly on Chapter 5 – Initial Findings, as well as presents in
whole the initial recommendations. Annexes cover the exhibits and
references compiled by the MTC.


Thirty three (33) bombing incidents occurring under the Arroyo
administration's watch have caused a loss of 95 lives, and injuries
to 490 others. Majority, if not all, of the victims were civilians. To the
general public, 32 of these bombings remain a mystery, in so far as no group has claimed responsibility for any of the blasts. No one, thus far, has
been declared guilty beyond reasonable doubt of perpetrating any of the 33 bombing incidents by a Philippine court of competent jurisdiction.

The biggest "jolt" that rocked the nation and the island's sensibilities was
the 4 March 2003 Davao International Airport bombing and the 2 April
2003 Sasa Wharf explosion. A total of 38 civilians were killed in the two
terror blasts and at least 180 others were injured.

However, of the 33, one bombing incident almost claimed the life of the alleged bomber itself, Michael Terrence Meiring, on 16 May 2003 at Evergreen Hotel in Davao City. The "escape" of Meiring from Davao City to
Manila and out of the country despite the pendency of criminal charges filed against him has been the subject of speculations that such was made possible by the covert participation of the United States Embassy in the Philippines and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The circumstances that shroud the "accidental" detonation of Meiring's bomb make it eligible as a "mystery bombing"

Aside from these "mysterious bombings," the armed conflict between
the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front and between the GRP and the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New People's Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF)
is a growing concern for the island's peoples. The Moro people's armed
revolution for self-governance has been raging for decades, even as the
government has been at war with the CPP/NPA/NDF since 1968.

The government's policy of all-out war against armed revolutionary
movements in Mindanao have taken their toll on the lives and properties of the people. For one, the military operation launched by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the MILF in Pikit, Cotabato in February 2003 displaced almost half a million Moro and Christian families. Hundreds of evacuees, mostly women and children, suffered from an outbreak of diseases, lack of food, shelter, stress, trauma, and other war-related ailments. The same incidents of displacements were caused by military offensives in Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, some parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula and neighboring towns of Pikit in North Cotabato.

It was within this social milieu that the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao
(InPeace Mindanao) was conceived.


InPEACE Mindanao is a broad-based, inter-faith, and multisectoral
peace movement that facilitates Mindanao-wide peace initiatives through
peace forums, dialogues and conferences, prayer rallies, and other
grassroots action.

InPEACE Mindanao was conceived during the 48-hour ultimatum by the
United States on Iraq. At this time, Mindanao religious leaders have
started consulting each other on how they could respond to the inevitable war declaration. At this time also, the war in Pikit had already affected
more than 100,000 people who were forced to evacuate due to the
heightening tension. Weeks later, the bombings in Davao City occurred and
prodded the Mindanao leaders to issue a condemnation.

InPEACE Mindanao circulated a Manifesto for Peace to denounce the war
on Iraq and raise concern towards the war in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, a parallel effort was being made by Cagayan de Oro City
Mayor Vicente Y. Emano through his Dialogue for Peace On-Air, a Mindanao-wide radio-forum simulcast. Several bishops and Mindanao leaders, including representatives from the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front participated in the forum. InPEACE Mindanao supported the subsequent simulcasts and agreed with the Cagayan de Oro Mayor that a Mindanao Peace Conference was urgently needed to draw in more Mindanao leaders to discuss on urgent peace issues in the island such as the Balikatan Exercises, All-Out War in Mindanao, the "mystery bombings" and the plight of evacuees.

InPEACE Mindanao launched the Mindanao Leaders Peace Conference on
May 13-14 in Cagayan de Oro City. The MLPC adopted two major calls: 1) The resumption of the Peace Negotiations between the GRP-NDFP and the GRP-MILF, and 2) Conduct of an Independent Fact Finding Mission on the "mystery" bombings in Mindanao and the human rights violations in the island ensuing from militarization, international humanitarian law violations ensuing from AFP-MILF and AFP-NPA armed engagements.

The Conference also resolved to hold Mindanao Peace Forums and
regional peace forums, and other peace actions. Mindanao Peace Forums have been launched in Davao City with Vice Pres. Teofisto Guingona, as well as in Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Cotabato City, Ozamis City, Butuan City, and Maguindanao province.

Mandated by the Mindanao Leaders' Peace Conference to conduct the
Independent Fact Finding Mission, InPeace formed the Mindanao Truth


The Mindanao Truth Commission is an independent and citizen-initiated
body that has been formed by the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao) to fulfill the mandate of the Mindanao Leaders Peace
Conference held last May 13-14, 2003 in Cagayan de Oro City. The Conference was called a few months after the twin bombings that hit Davao City on March 4 and April 2, 2003.

The MTC is the mechanism that concretizes the second major call of the Mindanao Leaders Peace Conference for an Independent Fact Finding
Mission on the Mindanao bombings and on the human rights situation.

The MTC was formed on June 25, 2003, in Davao City, after the InPeace
Mindanao Convenors approved the Framework for the Independent Fact
Finding Mission. It was in that meeting that the MTC composition and
workings were formalized and set into motion.


The MTC's fact finding mission is focused on two principal concerns, namely:

1. The `mystery' bombings that have rocked Mindanao, foremost of
which are the March 4, and April 2, 2003 bombings in Davao City; and

2. The intensifying violations of human rights and international
humanitarian laws in the course of the armed conflict between the
parties in general.

Its specific objectives are to:

a. Present an analysis of facts and circumstances related to
the "mystery bombings" in Mindanao;

b. Determine the veracity of alleged human rights abuses arising
from the declaration of a "state of lawless violence' in Davao City and
the operations of the Task Force Davao;

c. Determine violations of human rights and international
humanitarian laws arising from recent AFP-MILF and AFP-NPA military engagements or from purely AFP operations in identified areas, and in the context of the armed conflict between the parties in general;

d. Determine the situation of victims of forced evacuation/internal
displacement resulting from the AFP-MILF engagements or from purely
AFP operations, and in the context of the armed conflict between the
parties in general;

e. Formulate recommendations to the appropriate government
agencies, international human rights bodies, and other relevant groups and

Scope and Limitation

The fact finding mission falls short of the elements of a criminal
investigation. It therefore limited itself to gathering facts and
circumstances and making the most veritable analysis out of these
available data.

The mission has taken full use of affidavits, sworn statements, and
interviews, focus group discussions with affected individuals and
communities, oral testimonies, secondary data research, and other
methods of scientific data gathering.

The MTC is aided by Regional Investigating Teams tasked with
gathering data for their a particular regional concern. Regional
Investigating Teams and/or InPeace Regional Convenors were formed in
Southern Mindanao, Central Mindanao, Northern and Western Mindanao,
and SOCSKARGEN. These regional formations have been tasked to submit
reports and data to the MTC.

Nature of the Mission

The IFFM is a people's probe, hence, its proceedings must necessarily
be clear and direct to be understandable by a layman, without sacrificing
the integrity and probative value of the evidence said panel had gathered
along the way. Upon the evidence gathered its findings and conclusions are
drawn and the initial or final report, as the case may be, are based and
anchored. The admissibility of the evidence gathered, if to be presented in
any judicial proceeding in the future, are referred by the panel with the
lawyers' groups affiliated with the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao for

Nature and Character of the Panel

The MTC is a people's forum, not a court. It is not bound by the strict
judicial rules of procedure. It only issues invitations to parties who may
have testimonial or documentary evidence in their possession that may
help unravel the mystery of the bombings and present cases of human rights violations. Those who wished to accept its invitation were therefore
guests, hence, deserving to be treated with respect and decorum.

Submission of Report

The MTC is accountable to the InPeace Mindanao Convenors and to the
Mindanao Leaders Peace Conference. Thus, its report is to be made public to the InPeace Mindanao network. Copies of its report are to be compiled
and published, and furnished the following:

1. Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
2. Vice Pres. Teofisto Guingona
3. Senate and appropriate committees
4. House of Representatives and appropriate committees
5. Armed Forces of the Philippines
6. Commission on Human Rights
7. National Democratic Front of the Philippines
8. Moro Islamic Liberation Front of the Philippines
9. Amnesty International
10. United Nations and other appropriate UN bodies
11. Organization of Islamic Conference
12. Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
13. National Council of Churches in the Philippines
14. Ulama League of the Philippines
15. Media
16. INPEACE Mindanao Convenors
17. Other relevant groups/organizations


The following IFFM Sessions were conducted in various parts
of Mindanao:

October 12-13, 2003 Jesus of Nazareth Parish
Nazareth, Cagayan de Oro City

October 16, 2003 The Tower Inn
Quirino Avenue, Davao City

November 13, 2003 Mother Francisca Spirituality Center
& Notre Dame of Lagao School
Lagao, General Santos City

December 6-7, 2003 San Lorenzo Ruiz Seminar and Retreat House
Ampayon, Butuan City

December 8-9, 2003 United Church of Christ in the
Philippines Shalom Center
Legaspi Street, Davao City

January 26, 2004 The Tower Inn
Quirino Avenue, Davao City

February 24, 2004 Lispher Inn
Juna Subdivision, Matina, Davao City

A total of 46 guests, who were later considered key
informants upon the submission of their oral and written testimonies and other documentary evidences, appeared in the seven IFFM sessions conducted by the Commission.


At this juncture of the ongoing fact finding mission, the Mindanao
Truth Commission presents the following initial findings based on the data
gathered so far from various written and oral testimonies and secondary

1. The Commission identifies five (5) plausible suspects in the "mystery" bombings in Mindanao:

1.A. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, on account of PEOPLE OF THE
Multiple Murder with Frustrated Murder, lodged before Branch 12, Regional
Trial Court in Davao City;

1.B. The Abu Sayaf Group, on account of the public pronouncements, a
few hours after the 4 March 2003 Davao International Airport bombing, of
one Kumander Hamsiraji Sali, who claimed to be a leader of the said group
and had apologized for the unintended consequences of the said bombing;

1.C. The so-called "Third Force," on account of the affidavit of Mr. Hadji
Abdullah "Lacs" Dalidig, chairman of the Muslim Multisectoral Movement
for Peace and Development or MMPD, based in Marawi City; in his affidavit,
Mr. Dalidig quotes President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as allegedly having
expressed her fears of the "Third Force," and which was allegedly identified
by Secretary Norberto Gonzales as the group that was responsible for
the bombing of Davao City;

1.D. The State, on account of the allegations of junior officers of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that then Defense Secretary
Angelo Reyes and then chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Victor Corpus; specifically on account of the affidavits of Capt. Milo Maestrecampo, Lt. Kristofer Bryan Yasay, and Lt. Enrico Dingle, that they were allegedly ordered by their battalion commander Major Rene Paje to lob grenades at particular mosques in Davao City;

1.E. Michael Terrence Meiring, on account of allegations that the United
States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), through him, is faking terror
bombings in the Philippines. Meiring is a purported British-American
treasure hunter, whose bomb he was allegedly handling accidentally
exploded, severing his left leg and severely burning parts of his body, on May 16, 2002 at Evergreen Hotel in Davao City. Reliable sources quoted by
media agencies identified Meiring as a US CIA agent deployed in Mindanao.
Suspicious circumstances surrounded Meiring's "escape" from criminal
liability by way of an alleged intervention by a United States Embassy
official who effected his being spirited out of the country despite the issuance of a warrant by Judge Isaac Robillo, Jr. of Branch 13, 11th
Judicial Region, Regional Trial Court, on 13 June 2002. The Davao City
Prosecutor's office had taken note of Meiring's surreptitious flight to
avoid investigation and arrest in its Motion for the Issuance of a Hold
Departure Order on 3 July 2002.

2. In relation to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a suspect
in the March 4 Davao International Airport and April 2 Sasa Wharf bombings, the Commission finds that the State's case against the MILF is not based on or supported by solid legal evidence.

2.A. There is no solid legal evidence to support the "conspiracy theory" of
the State against the MILF leadership as having masterminded the March
4 DIA and April 2 Sasa Wharf bombings. On the contrary, the cases against
the alleged MILF `foot soldiers,' whose links with the alleged masterminds
must be plausibly established, have been dismissed one after the other by
the courts of competent jurisdiction.

The principal angle being pursued by the State is that Montazer Sudang,
in conspiracy with Salamat Hashim and the MILF leaders, with brothers
Terso and Undongan Sudang, and other MILF members, were responsible for the bombing of the Davao International Airport on 4 March 2003.

The main witness for the State against Montazer Sudang is one Capt.
Medel Aguilar, a former intelligence officer of the 602nd Brigade,
Philippine Army who testifies that Montazer was a member of the MILF. His main piece of evidence is an alleged Personal Data Sheet of Montazer, and brothers Terso and Undongan Sudang, purportedly recovered during the fall of Camp Abubakar when former President Joseph Estrada launched an all-out offensive against the MILF.

The State's case THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. TERSO SUDANG and UNDONGAN SUDANG, Crim. Case No. 51,886-03 for Multiple Murder with Frustrated Murder, has been ordered DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence, following a re-investigation of the case, by Judge Paul T. Arcangel of the Regional Trial Court 11th Judicial Region Branch, ordered on April 11, 2003 in Davao City, Philippines.

is also currently undergoing reinvestigation by the City Prosecutors Office.
The Davao City Prosecutors Office has filed a motion for an extension of the reinvestigation of the case for another 30 days.

2.B. Extrajudicial confessions of questionable nature and whose admissability as evidence has been challenged by the defense, have also
been heavily relied upon as evidence; some of these confessions have been rectracted by the accused and questioned by their relatives. Three
Affidavits of Retraction have been submitted by the counsel of accused
Jimmy Balulao and Tohamie Bagundang.

Accused Jimmy Balulao states in his Affidavit of Retraction that he vehemently denies having willingly given a free and voluntary statement
before police investigators, that he was allegedly intimidated, tortured,
and forced to admit to having participated in the bombing of Davao
International Airport on March 4, 2003, that the alleged lawyer
present in the investigation to assist him was not his personal choice. Accused Tohamie Bagundang also claims to have been tortured.

2.C. Illegal arrests and illegal detention of suspects have been resorted to
by the State, indicating its recklessness in nabbing suspects without
presenting the proper warrants of arrest, as can be deduced from the
absurdity of the cases filed against certain accused in the Davao bombings.
This is demonstrated in the State's case PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
VS. ISMAEL MAMALANGKAS, Crim. Case No. 51,123-03 wherein the case against once of the accused, Emran Gumanod, was DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence.

2.D. The Commission finds that, so far, the claim that a Special Urban
Terrorist Action Group (SUTAG), a supposed arm of the Al-Qaeda terrorist
network, of the MILF was behind the Davao bombings, is yet to be proven
or substantiated with legal evidence by the State. Intelligence information
bombarded and saturated to the public through media declarations by police, military and civilian authorities have not been substantiated with
tangible legal evidence against the MILF. It appears that the public had been fed with intelligence information that had later not been solidly
substantiated in court.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was quoted in news reports as asserting
that the MILF's SUTAG was behind the Davao bombings. However, there appears to be a lack of certainty for this claim, as evinced by Mayor
Duterte's pronouncement himself when he said: "…it would not be entirely
correct to say that the MILF did it but it would not be wrong to say the MILF
knows something. It is impossible that the MILF does not know. (The Mindanao Times, April 8, 2003, pp. 4, 21)"

That solid evidence is necessary to establish link between the MILF
and the AL-QAEDA network is echoed by President Gloria Macapagal-
Arroyo herself, here quoted by Mindanews as saying that: "(Mayor Duterte)
may have his own reasons for believing that the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) has something to do with the bombing (but) any action must be based on evidence so that justice can be served." (The Mindanao Times, April 8, 2003, pp. 4, 21)"

2.E. State pronouncements and action have also shown its lack of resolve or its dilemma to pursue charges against the MILF.

The creation of the Maniwang Commission by virtue of a Presidential
Executive Order has, by implication, put to serious question the State's
sweeping and unsubstantiated theory that the MILF masterminded the
Davao bombings. The State was compelled to establish an independent probe body on the Davao bombings due to the public declaration of Lt. SG. Antonio Trillanes IV et. al. that then Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and
Gen. Victor Corpus, then chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), had a hand in the Davao bombings of March 4 and April 2, 2003.

The testimony of Datu Haji Lacs Dalidig that President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo herself, and affirmed by her Cabinet Secretaries present during
an alleged conversation among the said parties in Iligan City last 14
June 2003, believes the existence of the "Third Force" which was allegedly
responsible for Davao bombings, erodes the State's resolve that the MILF was behind the attacks.

3. In relation to the so-called "Third Force" as a suspect in the Davao
bombings, the Commission takes notice of allegations that the State
may have had knowledge of the existence of such group and that the State
believed it to be behind the Davao bombings.

3.A. Datu Haji Lacs Dalidig of the Muslim Multisectoral Movement for Peace and Development based in Marawi City testified that in his conversation with Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on June 14, 2003, a few months after the Davao bombings, he quotes her, as saying, that a Third Force, not the MILF, was responsible for the bombing. The alleged conversation which took place at the Alsons Guest House in Iligan was pre-arranged by Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon
Soliman, and transpired in the company of Secretary Norberto Gonzales,
Secretary Teresita Deles, Secretary Renato de Villa, and Congressman
Abdullah Dimaporo.

3.B. The claim of Mr. Dalidig had likewise been published in the Philippine
Graphic, 28 July 2003 issue, written by Inday Varona-Espinosa.

3.C. A similar reference to the so-called "Third Force" was made by
Philippine National Police Region XI Chief Supt. Isidro Lapena, quoted
by Ms. Aurea Gerundio of Sunstar Davao, April 8, 2003.

3.D. The Commission is yet to find evidence of the veritable existence
of a Third Force. If the allegations in the affidavit of Haji Lacs Dalidig
are found true, the State becomes suspect for not divulging in public the
existence of such a Third Force and the identities behind this armed group,
aside from the suspicion that the State charged the MILF despite its purported knowledge that the Third Force was behind the DIA blast.

4. In relation to the State as a suspect in the bombings in Davao and
other areas of Mindanao, the Commission takes cognizance of serious
allegations of state-sponsored terrorism by the group of junior officers in
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) involved in the Oakwood Siege
of 27 July 2003; the Commission also finds suspicious circumstances
lending credence to the Commission's questions particularly on the hasty
clean-up of the scene of the crime of the March 4 DIA bombing; the Commission finds substantial evidence that the AFP ordered a special operation to lob grenades at mosques.

4.A. The Commission takes cognizance of the allegations of the group
of junior officers in the AFP that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
then Department of National Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, and then chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus, were behind the Davao bombings and that the AFP is engaged in the selling of weapons and ammunitions to the New People's Army, the Abu Sayaf, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The group of junior military officers, led by LTSG. Antonio Trillanes IV,
has asserted in their statement entitled "Message to the Filipino People"
and released on 27 July 2003 (salient portions herewith quoted), that
the State is engaged in the selling of firearms to its known enemies:

LTSG. Trillanes IV, et. al. further asserts that former DND Secretary Angelo Reyes and former ISAFP chief Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus were
responsible for the March 4 DIA and April 2 Sasa Wharf bombing and
that their motive was to effect the tagging of the MILF as a terrorist group
and to pave the way for US military financial and logistical aid. The said group further claims that another motive of the State was to effect the declaration of Martial Law so that the incumbent President can be perpetuated in power beyond 2004. They also alleged that the declaration
of Martial Law would be done through a series of bombings in Metro Manila
which would be blamed on different groups. The start of this operation,
they alleged, was the escape of Fathur Al-Ghozi. The group capped their
statement by saying that "the real terrorists are inside our government."

4.A.1. The Commission takes notice of President Arroyo's acceptance of
the resignation of Secretary Angelo Reyes from his post at the DND and of
Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus from the ISAFP which the Commission perceives as a possible response to the public clamor for an investigation into their
possible hand in the issues alleged by the junior military officers. The Commission also takes notice of the formation of the Independent
Commission on the Davao Bombings, publicly announced by President Arroyo in her 28 July 2003 State of the Nation Address but formed formally only as the Maniwang Commission on September 2003.

4.A.2. The Commission also takes notice that even prior to the start of
formal hearings of the Maniwang Commission, both former Secretary Angelo Reyes and Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus were "re-appointed" to government positions—Reyes as "Ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism" and Corpus as head of the AFP's Civil Relations Group. That this action on the part of the State in effect has preempted the conduct of an impartial investigation by a State-created independent body, if not an absolution of any probably culpability arising from the allegations of LTSG. Antonio Trillanes, et. al., since both Reyes and Corpus were re-appointed to positions of power.

4.B. The Commission also finds suspicious circumstances lending credence to the Commission's questions particularly on the hasty clean-up of the
scene of the crime of the March 4 DIA bombing.

4.B.1. In relation to the Davao International Airport bombing which occurred 5:15 pm of March 4, the State can not fully account for the
suspiciously hasty and rushed clean-up of the scene-of-the-crime early morning of March 5, 2003 before the arrival of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in clear violation of preserving the body of the crime (corpus delicti) upon which any criminal case hinges and proceeds and which raises serious questions on the identity of the perpetrators.

One of the investigators from the 11th Regional Criminal Investigation
and Detection Unit (RCIDU) who was personally involved in the DIA
investigation, PO1 Fernando Sta. Ana, Jr., orally testified before the Commission that, considering that there were only "a few qualified post-blast investigators at that time," the investigators took a rest due to exhaustion. He said that when the investigators came back to the scene of the crime, they found out that the site was already cleaned up by the Fire Marshall.

Part of PO1 Sta. Ana, Jr.'s testimony reads:

"…Considering that there were only a few qualified post-blast investigators
at that time, we were all exhausted. It's not necessarily a fact na hindi
nabantayan (that there was no vigilance). Maybe, perhaps maybe, I would
like to emphasize the word, the Fire Marshall at the airport believed na
tapos na, kasi wala ng tao duon (that the investigation was finished because there was no one around), but we were just taking a rest that time..."

4.B.2. The State has not identified the specific law enforcement unit or
civilian agency and their heads which gave the particular order to clean up
the scene-of-the-crime.

Police Investigator PO1 Fernando Sta. Ana, Jr., one of the investigators from the 11th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, in his
oral testimony before the Commission, pointed to the Philippine National
Police and the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit (SATU) as the ones handling
the post-blast forensic and metallurgical investigation.

Sta. Ana, Jr. also said that a Task Force DIA (Davao International Airport)
was formed after the bombing in order to coordinate the efforts ofvarious
law enforcement agencies. He said the RCIDU heads this task force and
that it receives all reports being submitted by other units.

The City Fire Marshall which was identified in reports to have actually
cleaned up with water hoses the scene of the crime, is under the Bureau
of Fire Protection, an agency directly under the Department of Interior
and Local Government (DILG), a civilian department. This would show that
its authorization to conduct the clean up would have come from civilian authorities.

4.B.3. The rushed clean up of the airport, and consequently, the destruction, contamination, tampering, or elimination of vital material
and physical evidence, violates fundamental principles and standard operating procedures in criminal investigation and is therefore a gravely
suspicious circumstance which the Commission is looking further into.

The Commission is led to raise the following questions in relation to the
suspiciously hasty clean-up of the scene-of-the-crime of the Davao International Airport bombing:

1. Who ordered the hasty clean up of the scene of the crime at
the expense of destroying vital material and physical evidence, and why?

2. Was the hasty clean-up of the airport a mere inadvertence as claimed
by a police investigator of the RCIDU XI or was there a willful intent
to destroy or eliminate material and physical evidence?

3. Who should be made answerable for the hasty clean-up? Why has the
State not exerted any serious effort to pinpoint the law enforcement unit or
civilian authority that gave such order? Why has the State not exerted
any serious effort to make that unit or authority accountable for the
inadvertence, lapse, or ineptitude?

4. If it is not a case of inadvertence or ineptitude in criminal investigation, is it possible that the hasty clean up was an attempt to tamper with or cover up vital material evidence and other circumstances related to the deadly blast?

5. Why has the State not exerted any serious effort to determine whether or not the clean-up was a mere inadvertence or a possible cover-up?

5. In relation, to the Abu Sayaf Group as a suspect in the March 4 DIA bombing, the Commission takes notice of the reported admission of the
said group that it was responsible for the DIA blast; the Commission also
finds that the State has inexplicably rejected sweepingly the Abu Sayaf's
admission that it was responsible for the DIA blast and has not made
consequent efforts to prosecute the said terror group.

5.A. A few hours after the blast, a certain Kumander Hamsiraji Sali
of the Abu Sayaf claimed responsibility for the attack and apologized
for "unintentionally" killing civilians. However, this admission was
dismissed by then Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes as part of an MILF
ploy where the Abu Sayaf's role is to admit to the crime.

5.B. Despite the arrest of Galib Andang, renowned as Kumander Robot,
no effort has been done on the part of the State to subject Robot to
account for the claim.

5.C. The State's connivance with the Abu Sayaf has not been satisfactorily
cleared; reports and allegations about the AFP-ASG connivance are bolstered by the claims of Fr. Cirilo Nacorda, former parish priest of Lamitan, Basilan; Senator Sergio Osmena who claimed that some AFP generals partook of the ransom money paid by hostages; and American hostage Gracia Burnham.

6. There is substantial evidence that the AFP ordered a special operation to lob grenades at mosques

6.A. The sworn affidavits of Capt. Milo Maestrecampo, Lt. Yasay and
Lt. Dingle lend credence to the existence of a special order to lob
grenades at mosques. The testimony of Maj. Rene Paje admitting the existence of a special operation corroborates the claim of the 3 junior officers. In contrast to the `general' and `sweeping' denial of Maj. Paje, there is more weight to the detailed and thorough affidavits of his subordinates.

"…9. Sometime within the month, my Battalion Commander, Major Rene
Paje, informed me that he was asked to relay to me special orders
presumably coming from the 701st Brigade/Task Force Davao the unit exercising operational control over our battalion."

10. To my surprise, the orders relayed to me was to create a special
team for a covert operation with a mosque as a target. I was made to
understand that the operation involved the throwing of grenades at the mosque.

11. I immediately questioned the order because I told Major Paje that
civilians were not our enemies, so I told him straight, "Sir, hindi kalaban
yon." He told me that this was an order and he was merely relaying it
to me. When he noticed that I was not receptive to the idea, he just turned
his back at me and left.

12. Later, I learned that Major Paje went to Lt. Enrico Dingle, Company
Commander of the 12th Scout Ranger Company to give him the same order that was given to me. Lt. Dingle informed me that he too, refused the

The positive and categorical account of Capt. Maestrecampo is credibly
corroborated by other independent personal accounts:

Lt. Jose Enrico Dingle claims in his affidavit, salient portions of which are hereby quoted:

"…2. Sometime April of 2003, while I was the Company Commander of the
12th Scout Ranger Company assigned at Tuburan, Mawab, Compostela Valley Province, Major Paje of the 4th Scout Ranger Batallion went to see me. He informed me that he was ordered to relay to me an order emanating from the military hierarchy asking me to form a special operation team. Based on what he told me, I was made to understand that the mission would be to lob grenades at mosques in Madaum, Davao.

3. On the basis of the said information, I ordered my Executive Officer, 2nd
Lt. Kristopher Bryan Yasay to form the said team and to coordinate with
Major Paje for the details of the said mission.

4. My executive order (sic) immediately formed the team as requested
by Major Paje. I monitored the said team and took note that 2nd Lt.
Yasay coordinated with Major Paje for the implementation of the said

5. However, I learned that the team of Lt. Yasay was no longer used for
the said operation. There was no de-briefing for the said operation so I
did not find out why the mission was aborted. Not wanting to implement
such an order, I did not see it fit to find out the reasons why the same was

6. The next morning after I received the order, I was able to see Capt.
Milo Maestrecampo, Commanding Officer at that time of the 16th Scout
Ranger Company. During my conversation with him, I found out that he too received a similar order but that he found a way to turn down Major Paje..."

Lt. Dingle's affidavit is further corroborated by Lt. Yasay. Portions
of his affidavit state:

"…2. Sometime in April of 2003, while I was then the Executive Officer
of the 12th Scout Ranger Company, I was informed by my Commanding
Officer that an order emanating from the military hierarchy was relayed to him by Major Paje, ordering the formation of a special operation team.

3. According to Lt. Dingle, Major Paje asked for the formation of the
special operation team to use grenades and C-4 explosives to be lobbed at
mosques in Madaum, Tagum, Davao.

4. After I formed the team, Major Paje arrived to check on the team I

5. Suspecting that the mission was not a regular one, I asked Major
Paje if we were about to do anything illegal and that if he will be saving us
in case we are caught. He informed me that it was part of a bigger
operation where another unit will be patrolling the area at the time we were to conduct the operation. The said unit will be informed of our mission
and are aware of the vehicles we will be using. Major Paje told us that this
unit was ordered to respond to the explosion but it will allow our team to
leave the area after lobbing the grenades and explosives.

6. Major Paje ordered us to prepare the civilian vehicle that the company
had then but he asked us to remove all markings on the said vehicle. He
also asked us to prepare the motorcycle belonging to the fourth scout
ranger battalion. The grenade thrower was supposed to use this motorcycle
while the civilian jeep would serve as back up. He informed us that these
vehicles were known to the other unit who is supposed to respond to the
explosion and as long as we were in the said vehicles, we would not be apprehended.

7. We then stayed on alert the whole night. Fortunately, we were not
ordered to implement the mission that night. However, for about three more days, we were ordered to stay on alert. We were informed that we could be ordered to implement the mission any time.

8. Fortunately, no such order came…"

6.B. Capt. Maestrecampo further substantiates his claim by citing the
critical time gap occurring between the alleged order and the
supposed outcome of such order.

In his affidavit, Maestrecampo further states:

"…13. Four hours after I refused the order, the mosque that was
supposed to be the target of my special operation exploded. This led me to
conclude that the explosion was caused by our own troops..."

6.C. It is significant to note that Lt. Yasay alleged in his affidavit
that Maj. Paje ordered them to conceal evidence pointing to the alleged

Lt. Yasay states in his affidavit:

"…4… He asked us to scrape off the markings on the grenades we were
going to use to prevent anyone from tracing the origins of the said grenades. He likewise ordered us to remove the plastic wrappings of the C-4 so that the same may not be identified.

6.D. It is also crucial to note the allegation of Capt. Maestrecampo that he
exerted effort to inform the authorities, specifically an aide of President
Arroyo, about the alleged special order given him by Major Paje, and
that no investigation was done about his claim.

His affidavit states:

"13. … Thus, when I saw Lt. SG Christopher Magdangal, Aide de camp of
the Commander-in-Chief, I immediately told him to inform the President of
the illegal order given to me."

"14. To my dismay, no action or investigation was done about this…"

Aside from Lt. SG Christopher Magdangal who was approached by Capt.
Maestrecampo, one 1st Lt. Salimbangon of the Special Warfare Group was
also approached by Lt. Yasay to inform him of the alleged order. Lt.
Salimbangon also shared with Yasay that he too was given the same order.

Lt. Yasay states in his affidavit:

"…9. Subsequently, when we went to Panacan, Davao, to act as part of
the security contingent for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I had the
opportunity to meet First Lt. Salimbangon of the Special Warfare Group,
an upperclass at the Philippine Military Academy. During that meeting,
we talked about the Sasa Wharf bombing and talked about how the military
could retaliate in such a situation. He informed me that he was ordered to
create a special operation team to bomb mosques in Davao as part of the
retaliatory measures but that he refused the said order. After hearing this, I informed he (sic) that I too was ordered to create such a special team…"

6.E. The actual occurrence of the lobbing of grenades and strafing at
mosques on April 3, 2003, a day after the Sasa Wharf bombing, point to
a pattern of attacks that appears to be well-organized in execution and
which could mean a possible corroboration to the formation of special
operations team allegedly ordered to be organized by Major Paje.

The attack at the mosque in Sitio Ilang, Barangay Tibungco, Davao
City occurred at 1:45 am by armed men alleged by residents to have used a maroon Isuzu Fuego 4x4 pick up. Witnesses, as claimed by the Mindanao Times story, said the suspects sped off to the downtown area, "where checkpoints were set up along the way by joint police and military forces following the explosion at the gate near the passenger terminal of the Sasa wharf at around 7:00pm Wednesay (April 2--- MTC).

Another grenade attack hit the mosque entrance at Mini-Forest, Quezon
Boulevard, in Barangay 23-C, Davao City, an hour after the Tibungco attack. Ten Muslims were praying at around 2:45 am of April 3, 2003,
according to Councilor Amilbangsa Manding, President of the Association of
Barangay Captains.

Twenty minutes after the Mini-Forest attack, the mosque in Barangay Sirawan, Toril, South of Davao City, was lobbed with a grenade that landed on a farm of a Muslim resident some 50 meters away. The Ecoland mosque along Quimpo Boulevard, near SM City Mall was also reported by Muslim leaders to have been strafed with 5.56 mm bullets said to be coming from M-14 and M4 Carbine rifles.

6.F. There is a suspicious lack of interest on the part of the State to prosecute Major Paje on the basis of the detailed allegations in the Maestrampo/Dingle/Yasay affidavits and to determine which higher authority the alleged order came from. The State should have effected the
arrest of Paje based on these claims that he committed illegal and criminal
acts. On the contrary, the State has "promoted" Major Paje to the General
Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

6.F.1. The State's lack of interest to determine criminal liability for the
lobbing of grenades at mosques is further shown in the absence of a credible and serious investigation into the case.

6.G. The sworn affidavits of the 3 junior officers can be deemed credible
since their claims are "admissions against self-interest". At the risk of
jeopardizing their military career and personal security, the 3 junior
officers have made such positive and categorical claims. No motive can
thus be ascribed to the affiants in coming out with such allegations that
endanger their personal security and self-interests.

7. In relation to the emergence of Michael Terrence Meiring as a suspect in the terror bombings in Mindanao, the Commission finds substantial
evidence for such probable culpability and that his surreptitious flight from Davao, allegedly with the aid of the United States Federal Bureau of
Investigation agents, could be taken as an indication of guilt.

7.A. The explosion at the Evergreen Hotel caused by the mishandling of a
powerful bomb possessed by Meiring was the only bombing that preceded
one year before the DIA blast, as noted by journalist Carolyn Arguillas,
and that the May 16 explosion was preceeded by a series of bomb threats
that hit Davao City and other areas of Mindanao.

7.B. Meiring, quoted by media sources, himself intimated that because of the Balikatan Exercises to be held in the country, sporadic bombings were
to be expected and that a "big one" was also coming.

7.C. The quantity and powerful type of bombs that Meiring had in possession indicate that he was among the persons or groups that had in
possession of bombs of such intensity that can rip concrete buildings and cause massive destruction

According to Arguillas, the affidavits of Police Senior Inspector Sabino
Vengco and PO3 German Labandero, Explosives Ordnance Disposal team
leader and post-blast investigator, respectively, of the Special Anti Terrorist Unit (SATU) said the explosion originated inside one of the metal
boxes in Meiring's room.

Arguillas further said investigators recovered "used improvised electric blasting cap with burned leg wires, cut-off tiny pieces of leg wires
and bits of pieces of metallic fragments as cap shell." Arguillas cites
SPO3 Miguel Vicente, Jr. of the Southern Mindanao police's EOD team who
said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device which was
described as "powerful" and "high-tech." Vicente, according to Arguillas, was quoted in newspapers as saying ammonium nitrate, electronic apparatus, and other explosive materials which can cause heavy explosion and damage, were the contents of the device.

7.D. The identity of Meiring as a possible CIA or American federal
agent is bolstered by the circumstances of his high-handed escape from
Philippine territory, and the intervention of a vice-consul of the US Embassy in Manila, thus eroding credence to the claim that he is a
mere "treasure hunter" in the Philippines

7.E. The Commission notes the State's lack of resolve to extradite
and prosecute Michael Terrence Meiring in Philippine courts and has
buckled under pressure from the United States government when Federal agents whisked him off by plane despite the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.

8. The 33 total bombings in Mindanao that have occurred under
the Arroyo Administration comprise a pattern of unsolved and "unclaimed"
bombings thus pointing, at the very least, to an ineptness on the part of
the State to secure the lives and limbs of its citizens especially in Mindanao.

9. The state is culpable for massive violations of human rights in
Mindanao partially totaling 780 cases against 57683 individuals. This figure
does not include, however, the more than 400,000 Moro and Christians,
mostly women and children, who were victims of forced evacuation at the
height of the government's all-out offensive in Moro-dominated territories.
The figure also excludes human rights violation cases documented in Basilan and Sulu.

The Commission defers to a later date the presentation of a comprehensive documentation related to victims of human rights violations and international humanitarian laws in Mindanao.

10. The State's policy of all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has brought about an unprecedented forced evacuation of civilian communities. Government troops have violated the cultural rights
of Muslim communities with impunity especially that the attack on the Buliok Complex was done on the eve of Eidl Adha, a sacred Muslim holiday.

The Commission defers to a later date the presentation of documentation
related to the victims of forced evacuation as well documentation relating
to their present status and conditions.

11. Moro civilians have become victims of profiling, forced disappearances,
illegal searches, and arrests in the aftermath of the bombings. The State,
through its law enforcement agencies, went berserk after the March 4 and
April 2 Davao bombings in violating due process and resorting to illegal arrest and detention in order to produce suspects, most of whom are Moro

11.A. Illegal arrests

Moro civilians were arrested without warrants on various times after the
Davao bombings. These arrests have been punctuated with coercion and

Case in point is Tony Yatas, a resident of Purok 20, Sanggilangan,
Barangay Maa, Davao City, who claims in his sworn affidavit, that several
armed men surrounded their residence at 6 o'clock in the morning of March 5, 2003 and "invited" him for questioning related to the March 4 DIA
bombing. Yatas said that it was later when he learned that he, together with his wife, were brought to Camp Catitipan, of the Philippine National Police Region XI. Yatas said that, after signing the release papers in the afternoon, "they let us go and they left us a statement that if ever there will be another bombing incident here in Davao then they are going to get us again."

Kamar Lupon, also of Purok 20, Sanggilangan, Barangay Maa, Davao
City, claims in his affidavit that on March 5, the morning after the DIA
blast, several armed men whom he later identified to be policemen, who were mostly wearing plain clothes, "invited" him in relation to "last night's
bombing." Lupon said that, in the course of the interrogation, also in Camp
Catitipan, his interrogators were trying to intimidate him with leading
questions that imply, for example, his son's participation in an MILF training. Lupon said that before he was released, police told him that if another bomb would explode, they would get him again.

11.B. Illegal searches and raids

Illegal searches also marred the aftermath of the Davao bombings.
Foremost of these are illegal raids and searches in Muslim Village and Open
Space in Bangkal, Davao City last April 14, 2003. Armored personnel carriers (APC) transported more than 200 heavily armed soldiers in the said area. One of the residents said that a minimum of two soldiers barged into each house, ransacked their things and marked their main door or gate with "X", according to documentation of the incident by Karapatan.

The said case has victimized about 50 households with violations of domicile and destruction of properties. The concerned families, according to Karapatan, did not file complaints before the Commission on Human
Rights because they were afraid of more harassment.

The Task Force Davao was also engaged in the illegal raid of a Muslim
community in Madaum, Tagum, Davao del Norte, barely few weeks after
the Bangkal raid. About 100 families were affected. The TFD arrested a
Moro peasant-fisherman who claims that his house was "planted" with evidence by the elements of the said law enforcement unit. The poor man was tortured and forced to admit as one of the bombers.

11.C. Abductions and Forced Disappearances

A total of 9 Moro individuals were abducted by unidentified armed men
employing almost the same modus operandi in the abduction; 4 of these
individuals continue to be missing.

Various news sources have identified some of those abducted as: Datu
Sabdurah Ala of Ma-a Riverside, Davao City, on April 3, 2003; Ustadz
Alimudin Zulkifle, 28, of Sirawan, Toril, Davao City, on April 6, 2003;
Lajmar Jumdail, on April 10, 2003; Muslimen Maro, 38, a Maranao and a
resident of Mini-Forest, Boulevard, Davao City on April 15, 2003, and a
Juanita Ybanez.

Zulkifle, is an Arabic teacher at the Inawayan Madrazah School in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. Ala is a Purok Leader and vice-president of the
Trisikad Drivers Association in Barangay Maa.

Maro is a Tabligh, a Muslim missionary, according to his uncle, prominent Muslim leader Ustadz Alim Adilao. Relatives said Maro was able to relay a text message to his friend, Ali Sultan, that he was "arrested" by unidentified men on April 15, 2003 and that he was being questioned over the Davao bombings.

11.D. Profiling and Racial Discrimination

Moro communities cowered in fear because of the strong-arm measures
including the employment of "Makapili" tactics, illegal searches through
raids, and the discriminatory and unconstitutional practice of "house markings" on suspected terrorist households, as demonstrated in the
Muslim Village raids of April 15, 2003. "Makapili" is a method employed
during the Japanese Occupation where a military informant's face is concealed with a bag or headgear. The same method was used by law enforcers in their effort to identify MILF members.

The State has resorted to a "fishing expedition" in Muslim communities
in the effort to produce suspects in accordance with the "Moro mould",
another indication of profiling and racial discrimination

The statements of civilian authorities like Mayor Duterte pinpointing to
Muslim communities as having to do with the Davao bombings and the call
of Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Pinol for the revival of the Ilaga vigilante group against Moro populations is indicative of an undeclared state policy
of racial discrimination and profiling.

In an article published in Sunstar, April 22, 2003, Duterte was quoted
as saying:

"'Wag na tayong magbolahan dito, ang mga suspects are all Muslims. Saan
naman ako maghahanap sa kanila? Dun sa seminaryo? Naturalmente doon
yun magtatago sa mga Muslim areas. That is why dun kami naga-raid sa mga Muslim areas (Let's not fool each other. The suspects are all Muslims so where do you expect me to look for their accomplices, inside seminaries? Of course I'll look for them in Muslim areas),' he said."


Based on the foregoing, the Commission submits the following initial

a. Quantification of indemnification for moral and physical damages for
victims and those unjustly charged and detained, and their families and
their rehabilitation.

b. Immediate, speedy, transparent and thorough investigation by the
Philippine Congress.

c. Investigation by international human rights bodies and the filing of
appropriate reports, charges, or complaints before international entities
including, but not limited to, the United Nations Human Rights

d. Filing of civil, criminal, and administrative charges against Major
Rene Paje and other junior or senior officers and civilians who appear
to have involvement or responsibility for the bombings and the unjust
arrests and detention of innocent individuals.

e. Filing of civil, criminal, and administrative charges against state
agencies and agents found to have committed human rights violations and
international humanitarian law before national, bilateral and multilateral


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ugly Actors On The Terror Stage Play

The news goes on to say that Abbu Sayaf masterminded the recent bombings.

Staging scenarios require hiring of individuals who are idiot enough to be inhuman! Stage play of terror in the service of US imperialism!!!

Urgent Attention!!!

United States Imperialist Intervention in The Philippines Spread Anti-Muslim and Anti-Islam Hysteria. U. S. War "Againts Terror" by Philippine undeclared Martial Law In Mindanao May Trample On Civil Liberties!!!

Note: On February 22, 2K5, Tuesday, I attended a religious sponsored symposium on the current Mindanao peace situationaire, specially in connection with series of bombing incidents that happened days ago. The revelation by human rights and church advocates was alarming, knowing what the current scenario here in Mindanao may lead to curtailment of civil liberties. Guard Againts Any Plan To Curtail Our Civil Liberties! No To U. S. militarist intervention here in Mindanao! No To U. S. covert plan to set-up military bases in Mindanao! Peace based on justice!!!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Physics education the CVI way.

Does it really work? Yes, but with a very limited result, I guess.

'Learning by doing' could revolutionize RP education
Posted 02:52am (Mla time) Feb 20, 2005
By Raul V. Fabella, Cristina B. Fabella, Vigile Marie Fabella
Inquirer News Service

TOURISTS come to Bohol to be transported by its natural wonders. Of late, a new type of visitors (educators from across the country) has made Jagna, Bohol their destination. Their unusual query is: "Where is CVI?" CVI stands for Central Visayan Institute, a high school run by the Bernidos (Maria Victoria is principal and Christopher is director of studies), at the heart of Jagna, a port town 63 kilometers east of Tagbilaran.

The visitors are anxious about something they have heard, the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP) of CVI.

The rumor has been slowly spreading through the Bohol Association of Catholic Schools and Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP) that concrete results are wrapped in CVI's student portfolios.

Is the pilgrimage justified?

The National Academy of Science and Technology, sensing success, made the Bernidos plenary speakers at its 26th Annual Scientific Conference in Manila last August. The CEAP National Convention did the same on Sept. 16 and the Fund for Assistance in Private Education (FAPE) has made the Bernidos a permanent fixture in all its regional fora. Wherever they speak, they light up the audience with excitement.

Classrooms at CVI reflect the school's severe financial straits. Tables and chairs have clearly seen better days, back when Jose Abueva, former University of the Philippines president and emeritus professor, was a student. The main building, a reincarnation of a 1930s movie house, is rickety. Nonetheless, the ravages of time cannot hide the aura of dignity. There are no signs of habitual neglect. Nor are there graffiti. But nobody comes to CVI for its physical appearance.

The shelves at the back of each room are nondescript, but few in Ateneo or Poveda bear as precious a cargo-stacks of color-coded plastic-covered portfolios of the students. The folios contain accomplished activity sheets of each student in each course. These include exercise, concept, laboratory and exam sheets, all neatly accomplished in the student's own handwriting or illustration. And all done within the school.

Short lectures

For homework is anathema at CVI. This is the first adjustment to kawad-on (abject poverty), which is a sibling to most CVI students. Most of them hail from far-flung homes neither provided with plumbing nor electricity. "Schoolwork you do in school. Homework is helping your parents," is the unsubtle advice.

Because "homework," so-called, is done in school, lectures have to be pithy, just the basic concepts and some examples-20 minutes at most. Prepared exercises or student activity sheets are handed out. Students then get busy-they discuss concepts and attempt to solve or build, confer, search singly at first and then together, and when stumped, address questions to the expert teacher. More discussion. Work sheets are evaluated and go into each student's portfolio for the course.

The DLP, in effect, de-emphasizes "learning by listening," and expands "learning by doing." The latter, done within a group, dons the mantle of "play," a pseudo-play, if you will. This turns the current pedagogy on its head where schoolwork is "learning by listening" and homework is "learning by doing"-both done in isolation. Learning becomes a lonely, artificial and eventually a disdained exercise. Children everywhere love play; play is mostly with peers, and learning in groups can be play. At CVI, it is.

This strategy hinges on trust. A short discussion of the concepts can motivate kids to take off and explore for the next 40 minutes. How about short attention span? How about the unruliness that follows? Only actual program runs can decide these issues. As the outcome shows, the trust appears well-placed. Students begin to view school learning as play and respond with the rapt attention of card players. Naturally, there are exceptions and those are dealt with first with remedial effort and, if it fails, a pink slip.

Another interesting advantage: DLP reduces the distinction between exam days and class days.

Optimizing the teacher

In every pedagogic program, the teacher is central. The current pedagogic practice confronts the teacher only with students, with the review process, if at all, coming few and far between. This structure easily succumbs to that sneaky classroom bargain: teacher does not teach, students do not learn, teacher gives high grades, students shut their mouths and move on. Worse, predatory and abusive behavior by teachers may thrive in non-transparent environments.

The DLP reduces such Faustian bargains. (1) All sections of a year take Mathematics simultaneously in one enlarged (dividers folded in) room. (2) The 20-minute or so initial lecture segment is not repeated three times. Instead, the math teacher spends 40 minutes more every day fielding questions. (3) The questions are also more profound because they derive from actual problem-solving instances. (4) The teachers of the other subjects become facilitators of the Mathematics course, imposing discipline and fielding no questions in Math.

Socratic method

The math teacher faces a mini-faculty meeting daily. The DLP is, by design, question-and-answer-intensive ("Socratic"). She cannot, as happens in too many classes across the nation, be absent while being present in front of peers. The best pedagogic practice easily spreads.

Other advantages: (1) It is much easier for the principal to monitor the proceedings as all subjects are in one enlarged room. (2) When teachers are poorly prepared, less is clearly better than abundant nonsense. (3) All the other teachers, say of English or History, hear and presumably absorb the big ideas of the other disciplines such as Einstein's theory of relativity in Physics or Darwin's natural selection in Biology. There is more to interact over in the faculty room than the identity of "Jose Pidal." Math and science mentors also learn John Donne's "Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

The DLP is a hot learning cauldron for both students and teachers.

Where's the beef?

Carol Porio, executive director of FAPE, has seen many pedagogical programs arrive with a bang and slink away with a whimper. She is a formidable skeptic. "Where's the result?" is her favorite rapier. Which is why she is profoundly intrigued by CVI. The results are plain to see. How do they come about? Enthused Eve Orbeta of the St. Bonaventure Center of Excellence, "The moment I walked into that school, I knew they had a different culture."

Just run through the stacks of student portfolios at the back of the room. Pick one up randomly from the Physics stack. Leaf through. One meets a neat, colored rendition of the Bohr atom and a brief essay on why electrons don't collapse into the nucleus. The romance with learning is palpable. The four graduates in 2003 and the five in 2004 who qualified for the University of the Philippines (UP) seem to suggest a program that works. These are not yet conclusive, according to the Bernidos. CVI's UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) performance will, however, only improve if UPCAT gives Mathematics and Science a higher weight than the puny 10 percent it gives today.

No report can convey the full compass and drama of the learning outcomes mirrored by the portfolios. Comparable outcomes from elite schools charging P80,000 in tuition a year have yet to be seen. CVI charges an all-inclusive P3,700 a year. Eager pilgrims of pedagogy leave enthusiastic about the DLP. How do the children of poor households learn to appreciate Fermat's Last Theorem?

Student response

The basic behavioral premise at CVI is that if you create a local environment that rewards enquiry and reflection, students will follow the cue. Each student is a pool of potentials (aggression, predation, reflection, etc.) and which gene becomes expressed depends on the payoffs in the environment.

The Philippine environment sadly punishes hard work and celebrates the "Eat Bulaga" chic; thus, the "Eat Bulaga" gene dominates and the smart gene recedes. By contrast, "Smart is cool" is idiomatic at CVI. This allows the "smart gene" to find expression.

Is it replicable?

To many, CVI appears in every respect a singularity. Where else do the principal and the director of studies appear as authors in the Journal of Mathematical Physics and other international journals? CVI has two PhDs with established international reputation in path integral method and white noise analysis, living like Trappist monks on a salary of P10,000 a month. Indeed, CVI faculty has a better international publications record than 90 percent of all science faculties in the Philippines, including UP where the Bernidos once taught with distinction.

CVI also co-hosts with its affiliated institution, the Research Center for Theoretical Physics, an international physics conference in Jagna every three to four years and whose past speakers included Frank Wilczek and Gerard 't Hooft, both Nobel Prize winners (2004 and 1999, respectively).

World science oasis

How the Bernidos made Jagna a world science oasis (the latest one held on Jan. 3-7 dealt with the exciting Hida-Connes calculus) with nary a government support is yet another miracle deserving a separate treatise.

And yet, CVI struggles with the most banal problems: it squats on land owned by others on whose kind sufferance depends its physical, though clearly not its intellectual position. Meeting weekly payroll is a regular challenge. Loss of faculty to public high schools (almost double entry pay) is a Poisson process.

The depth of absurdity was plumbed when the Department of Education (DepEd) banned the Bernidos from teaching high school Physics and Mathematics for lack of teaching licensure after teaching Quantum Mechanics at the UP National Institute of Physics. (Maria Victoria, initially stunned, dutifully took the minimum adequate education courses and ranked second in the national licensure exam.) CVI is nothing if not quintessentially abnormal.

That being said, the basic features of the DLP, the heavy emphasis on "learning by doing," the radical trust in the youth's capacity to learn, the learning as pseudo-play, and the unparalleled transparency through simultaneous instruction are all accessible without the idiosyncratic features of CVI. Great courage is still required to push DLP. The Bernidos made numerous enemies before being allowed to settle on the gentler side of fury. Theirs is an undeclared war against the Filipino disease of taking the path of least resistance. Can the entropic inertia be kept at bay elsewhere?

Can DLP produce its magic without the Bernidos? That experiment FAPE wants to run.

Empire strikes back

CVI represents a mutant subculture trying to find breathing space under an overarching dominant cultural milieu. That a discordant local steady state requires a counterforce provided by an outsider is demanded by the conservation principle. The Bernidos provide such counter-energy at CVI. They draw strength outside of the dominant culture. Will such rarity survive and replicate?

That the overarching ocean of entropy is itself under assault from forces it cannot control inspires hope. By every international comparative standard, the Philippines is falling behind (gross domestic product per capita growth, corruption indices, math and science standardized scores, and International Math Olympics).

The harvest is a massive "winter of our discontent," surfacing as a gnawing hunger for a way out of the morass. Some find solace in a US visa. Others prefer to stay and fight.

But the dominant ethos has automatic defense mechanisms. Does a CVI graduate's romance with the periodic table confer on him a superior advancement potential? As it stands, most CVI graduates are ending up in dead-end colleges. They join their parents in peddling RTWs or plowing the field. In 2004, only one of the five CVI graduates who passed the UPCAT enrolled at the state university because the package offered by the UP Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program was too puny for the poor. (UP should raise fees for wealthy entrants to adequately finance poor CVI and kindred hurdlers). For many, the romance will end in a bitter divorce. Creating scientific and technological smarts in the Philippines is a lonely Sisyphean labor.

Scaling up

Spreading the CVI virus is frustrating. There is reason enough to feed a proclivity for despair. But look closer. There are elements in society that already share the virus. In the business sector, global players like the Ayala Group and the Smart group embrace the ethos of precision and rules-based governance and chafe under the burden of the old ethos. Marching to a different drummer is a privilege they pay dearly for. Some local government units like Marikina are coming around. Scaling up these local successes, however, remains a daunting challenge.

Some suggestions may help. The chances of this type of graduates entering institutions that celebrate the kindred ethos must rise: (1) Make entrance exams heavily weighted for Math and Science, and (2) Offer adequate fellowships for poor hurdlers. CVI and kindred school graduates already have much higher math and science aptitude than a regular college graduate.


Second, DepEd should devise an accreditation exam for math and science teaching. The only requirement is a high school degree. Passing this exam is necessary but not a sufficient condition for teaching high school Math and Science. Those who pass the exam are required to finish only 18 additional education units to be fully accredited to teach Math and Science in high school.

This should reinforce the Makabayan Program, which the Bernidos consider a correct decision if still sorely inadequate. This was the path Marivic Bernido herself was forced to take. Was it so long ago when sixth-grade finishers taught grade school with distinction?

The private business sector can help by recruiting directly from the top echelon graduates of select high schools and providing them with work-study programs. Better attitudes and sturdier smarts are available here.

Linked up, they can make a tsunami of the lonely isolated ripples that will set Filipino smarts free.

(Dr. Raul V. Fabella is dean of the UP School of Economics and member of the National Academy of Science and Technology; Dr. Cristina B. Fabella, an obstetrician-gynecologist, is an active consultant at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center and Amang Rodriguez Medical Center; and, Vigile Marie Fabella is a freshman at the UP School of Economics. The paper was conceived while the Fabellas were on vacation in Jagna, Bohol.)

©2005 all rights reserved


Friday, February 18, 2005

People’s Alternative to "IPR"

Towards a People’s Alternative to "Intellectual Property Rights"
by Pio Verzola, Jr.

Some Basic Attributes of Information
Economic Characteristics of Information Goods
Information Technology, Production And Ownership: Outline Of Broad Historical Trends
Towards a People’s Information Alternative


By this time you’ve surely met the term "intellectual property rights," or IPR. In brief, IPR means that products of intellect like inventions and literary and art works can have private owners, and you cannot just copy them. You have to pay for your copy or right to copy, based on the permission of the creator or owner of the intellectual work.

Underlying the idea of IPR, however, is a more basic concept: information as a common social resource. In history, public access to information was often limited by considerations of state security, privacy rights, religious taboo, and the direct costs of making a copy. Still, the general trend was towards broader and freer access. But today, IPR and information as a public resource have become so contradictory notions that we seem to be talking about entirely different entities.

Information is now considered a valuable commodity, on equal footing with labor, raw material, land, capital, and finished goods. It has become an exact legal category, subject to laws and litigation. With frightening speed, companies stake out IPR claims and shut out free public access to an expanding range of information resources. IPR regimes encroach on new grounds that were virtually unknown or untouchable a generation ago. The WTO, regional economic organizations, and national states regularly engage in quarrels over IPR issues.

Ordinary working people are starting to feel the impact – from farmers and indigenous communities who see their bio-genetic resources stealthily transformed into foreign-patented seeds and drugs, to students and professionals who can no longer legally acquire photocopies or cheap local reprints of expensive textbooks and trade books. Still, defenders of the new IPR regime insist that Filipino intellectuals can play the game and win, while some theorists talk with awe and anticipation about the advent of "information society."

There is therefore an urgent need for us social activists and issue advocates in the various fields of information (primarily science, culture, mass media and education) to check our theoretical bearings. The roles of information are so axiomatic and so omnipresent today in the worlds of science, government, business, and media, that many basic assumptions of theory are easily taken for granted. We must review these roles and assumptions. We need to reassert public information rights based on a clear-cut philosophical vision and solid theoretical arguments. By doing so, we can help fortify a truly progressive, popular and patriotic alternative to IPR.

Some Basic Attributes of Information

What is information?

Fundamentally speaking, information is an organism’s internal and external representation of the reality that envelops it.

Let us quickly run through the several elements in this very simplified definition:

First, there is the organism – a biological or living system, which can be an individual bacterium or the whole of human society, and geared for its primal objectives of survival and reproduction.

Second, the organism’s reality – its external environment (including other organisms) and its own internal condition – with which the organism must interact to attain its primal objectives.

And third, the organism’s system for representing its reality as an internal record – its mechanisms for reflecting its outside world into meaningful internal patterns, which then trigger its appropriate responses or adaptations. A complex organism is also able to make those internal reflections external and accessible to others of its kind – i.e., to communicate as a group.

Some information theorists have given up the attempt to arrive at a unified definition of information, composed as it is of a mind-boggling galaxy of phenomena. Others, such as engineers steeped in the math of communication theory, find it axiomatic to define information as an abstract formula, whose closest translation in layman’s terms is, "Information is anything that can be represented and stored as a digital series of bits," i.e., by 0’s and 1’s.

But this definition can be interpreted to mean that information is limited only to data that can be digitized – which is too narrow and technocentric. Or, it can absurdly imply that the entire observable universe is really made up of information because, in theory, anything above quantum-particle thresholds can be digitized, given the right tools and enough time. The "digital definition" is best applied to the technical sciences of handling encoded information. For purposes of studying information as a social process and resource, however, it is clearly insufficient.

Admittedly, our own simplified "organic definition" cannot fully capture the countless modes of information’s existence either. But we believe that it basically covers the main range of information phenomena as they emerge in the actual development of life and of humanity – from biochemical phenomena at the cellular level, to the highly-evolved nervous system of the human body, up to the technologically advanced information processes of modern human society.

The biological and human-social bases of information

Information has a deep biological basis. Single-celled organisms exhibit simple stimulus-response reactions to environmental changes, based on the cell’s biochemical properties. Complex organisms evolve more elaborate control mechanisms, such as hormone-based endocrine systems and more rapid-acting, neuron-based nervous systems. With these, an organism can rely on a complex information system that senses the changes in its environment, reflects them internally as electrical, chemical, or mechanical changes, and controls the appropriate behavioral responses.

Higher animal species possess more developed nervous systems, which act as still more complex information systems. In particular, the animal brain and its cerebral cortex gradually acquire a tremendous capacity for rapidly storing and integrating information. It forms the basis for incipient intelligence, i.e., for more complex adaptive behavioral patterns and learning processes, and more elaborate communication systems particularly among social animals.

On a deeper biological level, each species relies on genetic material (DNA) as the mechanism for long-term storage and transmission of information beyond the life of an organism or cell. Unlike humans who have developed the intelligence and technology to sustain culture and civilization across generations, lower life forms can only store and transmit life’s legacies to their offspring through the mechanisms of genetics, heredity and evolution. Still, genetic information stands as the most primal collective legacy of all species, humankind included.

Human society emerges with a giant leap in the evolution of the brain and nervous system, allowing us higher modes of mental-motor capabilities, including the use of language and technology. Humanity has thus brought the phenomenon of information far beyond biological processes, into the realm of distinctly human-social (economic, political, and cultural) processes.

Unlike animals, we are no longer fully dependent on genetic (anatomical and instinctive behavioral) adaptations to our environment. Instead, we evolved technology, social production and economic life, and the corresponding modes of social organization and governance. We developed the use of science, technical know-how, literature and arts, religion, and ideology as the long-term repositories of society’s capacity to understand, control, and adapt to its expanding environments and its own internal processes. All these fields of human endeavor are permeated with information continually produced, accumulated and preserved through the ages.

Information as a constantly-growing product of intelligent (human, social) activity

The entire universe can indeed be seen as latent information, in the sense that it is knowable by intelligent beings. On the other hand, real information is derived from the universe only through the physical and mental labors of these beings, who interact with their environments, observe, think, and communicate among themselves. In short, it is our conscious activity that transforms the latent information of the universe into definite bodies of socially useful information.

While interacting with our natural and social environments, we absorb an endless stream of information into our minds, initially on the level of sensory data and perceptual ideas. At the same time but on a higher level, our minds constantly store, integrate and process these data to form a mental universe of concepts reflecting the outside world. In the process, countless bits of diffuse information become linked together and grouped into bigger and more organized collections or bodies of information. Marxist materialist philosophy has a well-developed view of how ideas develop in the interaction of practice and theory, and how these ideas cumulatively grow and then make a qualitative leap from perceptual to conceptual knowledge, in a spiral and radial path of development.

The point we make here is that information, by its very nature, undergoes cumulative and explosive growth through constant social activity. There are remarkable parallelisms and linkages in how a society’s material wealth in general is created, accumulated and appropriated, and in how its information wealth in particular undergoes similar processes. Most Marxist concepts of political economy that apply to production systems of goods in general, also apply as well to the production of information goods in particular.

Independent of human activity, the biological world also produces information at an entirely different level: genetic (DNA-based), behavioral (hormone-based, neuron-based), and in certain species, distinctly intelligent (language-based) information. But much of these biological troves develop through very different processes, are yet unknown or only vaguely understood by us, and will require prodigious use of human intelligence and technology to make them part of our collective repository of useful information.

Information technology

One unique and powerful attribute of human interaction with the environment is the use of technology – tools, skills, and highly-organized activity, which amplify our native physical and mental capacities in economic production, scientific study, and social relations. Every society evolves certain types of technology ("forces of production" is the approximate Marxist term) that reflect its adaptations to specific environments and stages of historical development.

In our handling of information, we use and develop special types of technology as well, or what are now popularly referred to as information technologies. These are the physical and logical instruments of thought and expression, by which the constant flow of information within society is stored, organized, amplified and circulated. Examples: writing and other symbol systems; printing; electro-mechanical, magnetic and photochemical recording; telecommunications; computer technology, and many more. Through the past millennia, these technologies have greatly extended the power of our senses, brains, and spoken languages, in recording and quantifying our observations, in organizing and analyzing large masses of data, and in amplifying our native communication abilities.

The materiality of information

It is often claimed that information is a "non-material" entity. Surprisingly, corporate IPR defenders and some information activists agree on this idea. The most strident claims come from post-Marxist theorists who take potshots at Marxist materialism and assert that Marx does not apply to "non-material" information goods. But before we join the issue, let us first clarify the terms "message" and "medium" – which are central to the concept of information.

A piece of information is a certain message or symbolic expression – a specific signal pattern that carries a certain meaning according to a pre-arranged set of basic patterns or symbols and their equivalent meanings. For example, the two-character word "AD" is a pattern based on the Western alphabet. (It can also stand for different messages – the Latin "Anno Domini", the English word "advertising", the Kankanaey "from," or decimal 173 in hex – depending on which symbol set and language we are using.)

Now any message or meaningful pattern, to persist in the real world, must be recorded into some material substance, often called the physical medium. The same pattern could show up in different physical forms on different media: e.g., as letters on a printed page, as a series of 1’s and 0’s in computer memory, as a series of Morse-code dots and dashes sent over radio waves.

So, is information material or non-material?

We perceive the world of material things with our senses, and reflect them into patterns that our minds can handle. What we call "information" is not the material thing that we sense, but the symbolic reflections that our minds and information tools can handle. So information is indeed "non-material" – but only in the sense that the contents of our minds are subjective, disembodied reflections of an objective, material world. But these "non-material" reflections must continue to reside in some material medium – whether that medium is our cerebral cortex, a book, a computer, and so on.

Since a message can exist in so many physical media and still be recognized as the same message, information appears to transcend the materiality of media and acquires the illusion of non-materiality. Thus, in our minds, the message can be viewed as medium-independent, with its own separate existence. But in reality, any message is always embedded into some medium.

In short, information is derived from material objects, and continues to exist only by being embodied into other material objects. Clearly, information’s non-materiality is relative and transient, while its material basis is absolute and permanent.

Is information inexhaustible and indestructible?

It is often claimed that "information doesn’t wear out, is not used up, and is virtually indestructible." Again, this is true only if we consider information in the abstract, and forget that it persists only through physical storage media, which can be destroyed, get lost, or wear out.

A piece of information only appears inexhaustible and indestructible, because we make sure that multiple copies of it remain safely stored in various storage media. If somebody ever succeeds in destroying every copy of Noli Me Tangere, then we will have lost Rizal’s novel forever. Don’t laugh and say, "But that can’t happen in real life!" Sure it can; just take a look at the sorry state of our national archives. Remember too that entire languages have been irretrievably lost in the span of a few generations.

The widely celebrated "free" nature of information ("one can give them away without losing them; essentially zero cost per copy") is not exactly true. The information itself is not consumed in the process of use; but storage media wear out, and using or copying the information consumes energy and materials. Digital information is now copied so easily and at less cost, that’s true. But making and maintaining a new copy still incurs appreciable cost – even if we compute just the cost of the space it will occupy on your PC’s hard disk and the per-minute cost of staying online to download it from the Internet. Let us remember, too, that modern storage media are dependent on specialized retrieval, playback, display or printing machines (not to mention backups), which all require energy and other consumables.

In short, we cannot escape the materiality and cost of maintenance and reproduction of information. Again, we emphasize this point because it will figure prominently in our understanding of the economics of information.

The basic role of information in society

The basic and wide-ranging roles of information and information systems in human society are so comprehensive and axiomatic, we need not enumerate them all here. They are indispensable in humanity’s constant interaction with nature through production and scientific research, in all fields of social relations (relations of production, political relations, domestic relations), and in the realm of culture, ideology, and religion.

At this point, let us merely list some concrete examples in the modern world to suggest the ever-growing and tightly interconnected sources, forms, and functions assumed by various economic, political and cultural institutions that behave as society’s information systems:

print media: books, newspapers, magazines, printing facilities

radio-TV broadcasting, cable TV

postal and telecommunications (telegraph, telephone) services

computer software, databases, Internet services

media studios and labs, service bureaus, ad agencies

recording industries: music, video and film

live performing arts: music, drama and dance

visual and structural arts: graphics, sculpture, architecture and design

galleries, museums, libraries, archives, documentation centers

science and technology: research and development centers

schools; the academic community in general

professional consultancy services

government services dealing mostly with the collection, analysis, storage, and dissemination of information

political parties and NGO’s, particularly their information-oriented resources

churches and religious activities

daily community life and group activity

While we do realize the growing role of information in all fields of modern society, it is too sweeping and premature to view this trend as proof of an emergent "information sector" of the economy – much less as heralding the rise of Western "information economies". The evolving roles played by information in modern times have not resulted in fundamental shifts in the mode of production, whether from agrarian to industrial in the case of the Philippines, or from industrial to the so-called "post-industrial" in the case of advanced Western capitalist economies. We hope to discuss this major question on some other occasion. For now, let us proceed to a discussion of more specific economic issues surrounding information.

Economic Characteristics of Information Goods

Information embedded in all products

Today there is popular talk about information goods, as if they were a new class of goods, and as if everyone understood what exactly these goods are, and how they differ from the usual products of economic activity. But before we go deeper into the discussion, let us emphasize that all products of human activity contain useful information one way or another. Some products are information-rich, enhancing their value, others not so much or only incidentally.

The main point here is that a certain degree of mental labor always underlies the manual labor and the use of machinery and materials that go into the making of any product – whether the product is a computer chip or a camote chip. In this sense, we could say that certain types of useful, human-processed information is invariably embedded into (and to some extent retrievable from) any product of human activity. Modern automated machinery, in particular, contains not only the "dead manual labor" of those workers who manufactured it, but also the "preserved mental labor" of those who designed the machinery, especially its automated control mechanisms that mimicked simple mental functions.

Such information can always be gleaned from the attributes of the finished product, in the product’s design, craftsmanship, and materials. In fact, in order to "reverse-engineer" a product (i.e., derive crucial information on how exactly it is manufactured so that one can duplicate the process), the first step is to get hold of that particular finished product so it could be thoroughly analyzed.

Agricultural and natural products (even before the advent of genetic engineering) also contain valuable troves of genetic information, which in the case of crops and livestock are typically modified by millennia of artificial selection and breeding under human care. This information can be re-harnessed back into production, simply by acquiring the "parent versions" such as seeds, plant stock, livestock, fermenting stock, etc. and allowing their reproductive cycles to continue.

What are information goods? How are they produced?

While all products contain some information one way or another, people really produce a certain class of goods whose use-value is mainly in their information content. (Although there is really no yawning gap between the two.) Thus, people nowadays talk about information as a valuable resource, even as a saleable commodity – in short, an "economic good." Some writers now routinely refer to an economy's "information sector" – those enterprises and professions whose business it is to produce information goods.

A crucial question arises: Which is the information good? Is it the specific set of ideas or body of information itself, regardless of the media it might be actually stored in? Or is it the medium itself, insofar as it contains the information we want? This question is not hair-splitting, because it has deep-going implications in the economics of information, and must be clarified right at the outset.

Take the Joey Ayala song Magkabilaan, for example. Now, what exactly is the information good here: Is it the song itself, independent of the various musical forms and storage formats it might exist in? Is it the lyrics and the basic melody, or perhaps the original arrangement of the song, as put into sheet music? Is it every live performance, or only the authorized or original recording, or every copy of that recording?

If I buy the Magkabilaan album on cassette tape, am I buying an information good in its own right, or just a copy of the original musical good that remains with Mr. Ayala or his recording company? If I make 10 good-quality copies of this album, have I created new goods, or just copies of one and the same good? If I record my own rendition of his Magkabilaan song, with some changes in the lyrics and harmony here and there, have I created a new information good, or am I just a shameless thief?

According to a widespread notion, expressed both by corporate IPR defenders as well as some information activists, the information good is the original body of information, the primal copy so to speak. The mass of copies as reproduced and stored on units of media are just that – copies of one and the same information good. It is claimed that the basic production process for information goods entails mainly mental work by intellectuals, with the help of information tools, to create the original or primal copy. After that, it’s all boring reproduction work by craftsmen and wage-slaves.

In publishing a book, for example, it would appear that the information good is the final manuscript or the camera-ready masters of the book, after it has undergone mainly mental production work by the book's author, perhaps with the help of research, editorial, and artwork assistants. This implies that the actual printing of the book, say by workers using an offset machine, is outside the production process or only a marginal part of it.

A Marxist would view the issue differently. Consistent with the materiality of information, the medium itself (insofar as it contains the relevant information) must be considered as the information good. Thus, whoever were involved in embedding (copying) that specific information into that specific medium, should be seen as the creators of that particular information good.

If I compose a song in my head, I’m not making any information good, although it is the start of the process. If I perform a song live, you could say I'm making a very short-lived information good. Or you could equally say, I am doing a useful service of entertaining others through music. Or I am merely expressing myself, which has nothing to do with economics (especially if I’m singing alone in the bathroom).

But if I record this song on tape, then I’ve made a single information good. Now if someone else learns to play the song and records her own rendition on tape, then she has made another information good. If she then gives a copy of the tape to another person, who then makes 100 copies, then that third person has made 100 more information goods. The different tape recordings of the song might have different values due to differences in performance and recording quality, and we might validly trace the production of goods from parent to child generation – but each one remains an information good in its own right.

The same principle is applicable to writings, art works, computer programs, inventions – to the whole range of reproducible information.

Authorship and the actual production of information goods

The last point brings us to another popular notion – that "intellectuals are the main creators of information," that they are the main producers in the information sector, earning their living through mental labor. This is a wrong notion, on two counts:

As we said, in the modern world, it is mainly the working class (as categorized by economic position, not by degree of mental work like intellectuals) that mass-produces the goods containing information. It is they who run the infrastructures ensuring mass delivery of information to the public.

Furthermore, the masses of toiling people are the main creators of information. In any society, intellectuals do figure prominently in creating, gathering and organizing information, because they have all the time for mental labor, being generally free from the obligations of productive manual labor that is the burden of the toiling masses. But even then, the anonymous mass also creates information, on a daily basis and on a large scale. While the bulk of such information is rather raw, dispersed and perishable, much of it is equally valuable to society. The masses are the inexhaustible source of folk culture, from which professional artists, writers, researchers and other intellectuals freely derive a lot of their material – often without credit.

It must also be emphasized that even among intellectuals, there is a growing tendency for new bodies of information to be socially produced outside the traditional realm of individual or informal-group authorship. Increasingly, it is a larger mass of office-type or studio-type workers (e.g. encoders, equipment operators, researchers, clerical workers) who create new information or add to an ever-increasing body of institution-created information as a routine, daily collective activity involving both mental and manual labor.

Looking at the production process as described above, we can see the important distinction between authorship on one hand, which creates the information that goes into the making of an information good, and the actual production of this information good on the other hand.

The author will typically make a primal product – her original work put into its original medium. This first information good takes on an intrinsic value, which may or may not be different from the value of the next goods that are copies of the original. The point is, once conditions allow that copies are made of the original work, especially under conditions of mass production, authorship has become separate from the main production process.

In the case of publishing a book, the author normally makes just a few information goods – the one or few copies of his work in manuscript or digital-document format. A publishing house processes the document into another information good – the camera-ready master copy, or perhaps the actual print-ready plates. Then the print workers use this good to mass-produce hundreds or thousands of copies of the book, each copy an information good in its own right.

In the case of a computer program or database, the distinctions between what is original and what is a copy tend to become blurred, but still generally valid because usually the author releases only a compiled or packaged version of a program, while keeping to himself the source code. (If the author releases the source code, this very step creates the conditions for slightly different source codes to arise, and for an authoritative site to maintain the official copy.)

The author of a computer program is usually able to make as many copies of the program as he has available diskettes and the patience to do the usual procedures of copying, verifying, and labeling each disk copy. In this sense, he can make many information goods out of his original program, and is akin to a medieval craftsman. But any worker who has no programming skill but has been trained in the disk-copying process can produce these same information goods (copies of the program), probably at the same rate as what the author of the program can do. The conceptual separation of authorship and mass production of information goods remains valid.

In many fields of literature and arts, particularly in the performing and applied arts, there will also be a series of craft workers (such as performers, editors, designers, and directors) between the original author and the mass production of information goods. This arrangement further underscores the separation of authorship and mass production.

For example, if we produce a video of Macbeth in Pilipino, we should certainly credit Shakespeare for authoring the original play, but he is definitely excluded from the video production process. The same goes for other ready-made inputs to the video being produced, such as canned music or existing costume designs. What we could consider as the real creators of the video (the master copy, to be exact) would be the Pilipino screenwriter, the director, the perfomers, those who made original inputs in design and music, and the entire production crew. Yet the master copy is still just one copy. Production plant workers are still needed to operate the machines that create the actual mass product, which is the tape we buy or rent at some video shop.

Does this approach deny credit to the original author of a literary or art piece, or the original inventor of a device? Not at all. Her authorship remains linked to the overall process of making information goods in general, of enriching our culture and knowledge in general. Every society will evolve its own mechanisms for acknowledging the authors or originators of what it regards as valuable contributions to its treasury of culture and knowledge. But individual authorship must not be used to depreciate the essentially socialized and increasingly collective character of producing information goods.

The difference between information goods and services

Another source of confusion, which can restrict our understanding of the economic aspects of producing information, is the tendency to mix up the attributes of information goods and services, which are two different categories.

What are goods? In general, goods are material things produced by humans (or obtained by them from nature) that are useful to humans or to their society. In a more restrictive sense, however, goods are things produced in such a way that their usefulness (their use-value, in Marxist terms) is stored for some time as specific properties of objects outside the human body. In this form, they can be used at another time or place, perhaps by another person. As material objects, goods can be transferred, possessed, appropriated, distributed, damaged, destroyed.

What about services? Various social and technical considerations often move us to produce useful things that are not storable (or not normally stored) into objects outside ourselves, but must be used and consumed on the spot, at the very time or place it is being produced. The thing produced thus is not normally considered as a good, but as a socially useful human activity, as a "service" if we insist on economic terms. For example, transportation, trade and finance are specific services, which do not produce any new goods. The same is true of communication carrier facilities such as postal, telegraph and telephone services. Still another example would be educational services such as what schools provide.

One might insist that services are merely a special type of goods, or are intermediaries in the production chain of goods. For example, eating at a self-service cafeteria can be seen as mostly buying cooked food – which is a good. But you also use the cafeteria's dining facilities – which is clearly a service. Another example: A Kalinga healer can prepare a special tea to cure your illness (a good), and at the same time he can also explain to you how to make the tea yourself (a service).

We can cite other gray areas or hybrid examples. In any case, the available technologies, as well as the social choices which people make, will usually determine whether a useful object is produced mainly as a good or a service in a concrete historical setting. The key difference stands: If the usefulness created by human activity is stored in an object, then that object becomes a good. If the usefulness of a human activity is directly translated into human benefit (not stored in an object), then that activity is a service.

Information, delivered and consumed not as a good but more as a service, has always been a crucial part of a society’s economy and culture since time immemorial, albeit excluded from most economic accounting. The growth of information goods, especially mass-produced information goods, are a more historically recent phenomenon.

Information goods and services are not necessarily commodities

Information goods and services are not necessarily commodities, even in a market-oriented economy such as what we have now. Much of these types of goods and services retain their original non-commodity character and yet remain economically valuable. They can turn into commodities by entering the actual market environment and acquiring exchange value, but that is a function of the existing social system, not an inherent attribute of a good or service.

For people reared in a market-based society, it is often difficult to separate the consumable or use value of a good or service from its marketable or exchange value as a commodity. Thus, the mere mention of "goods and services" may imply that the goods and services are for sale. But even in our type of society, much of the goods and services do not pass through the market, but through pre-market or extra-market modes of distribution and exchange. Just consider the goods and services that are created by housekeepers (mostly women) and consumed within a household. Thus, too, innumerable and invaluable bodies of information are stored into various media and thus become information goods, yet do not necessarily turn into commodities.

The government produces tons of very useful information on a daily basis. It is in fact a major (if not the principal) institutional producer of information-rich goods and services. Yet such information belongs to the public domain, at least as officially defined. Many NGO's, those other mighty producers of tons of information goods, remain averse to the idea of treating their storehouses of information as commodities for sale.

A priceless collection of rare photos or historic archives might even be considered as a special type of information goods for purposes of economic accounting, but not really as saleable commodities – lest the owners get swept off their feet by offers from antique dealers and book or software publishers. (Actually, I'm reluctant to use the term "information good" for such repositories of a family’s or a nation’s history and honor. But they do fall into the category of goods when we make a full accounting of the family’s or the nation’s resources.)

The point here is to underscore the significant trend under modern capitalism, particularly with the impact of great advances in information technology of the 20th century – the expanding privatization, commodification, and mass production of information goods and services, which has transformed cultural creativity and scientific research into a lucrative business enterprise. It is this trend that is being mistaken for the supposed emergence and even rise to dominance (in the case of the U.S.) of a distinct "information sector" of the economy, on top of industrial and service sectors in general.

Should genetic information be classified as information goods?

A controversial issue is how to deal with genetic information. Should genetic information be classified as information goods?

Genetic information is of course a special type of information. But it does not follow that genetic material itself can be classified as an information good. In the same manner, bodies of oral traditions are a specific type of information, but it does not follow that their primary sources – persons who perform the valuable role of reciting them during community rituals – thereby become information goods. This question is both a theoretical and a moral issue.

Now, goods are most appropriately defined as things produced or modified by human labor for some useful purpose. Things that we routinely use in their natural state, with no or very minimal human labor input, are not normally considered as goods even if they are indispensable to us. For example: the very air that we breath, the ground that we walk on, the sunlight shining down on us, wild edible fruits picked along the way, natural springs from which we drink, the rock ledge we sit on, etc. (Well, I could understand if somebody insists in calling them "natural goods," but then that term could apply to our whole environment.) Clearly, DNA in its natural state is not any type of good, because no purposive human labor has been involved in the creation of its structure, and since it obviously replicates without any human intervention.

However, with vast scientific efforts in the field of biomolecular sciences, scientists are rapidly accumulating human knowledge about the DNA, including detailed maps of specific genomes and genes, which are stored in computer storage systems. This vast body of information has become a priceless information good, a truly scientific achievement – although we shudder to think about the possibilities of its being turned to commercial use or medical abuse.

Some theorists say that genetically modified material itself, in so far as it can be used to produce other genetic material, can be considered as one type of information good. Without prejudice to the moral and ecological issues involved in their production, we would prefer to call such products as agricultural or biomolecular goods. After all, most agricultural peoples have evolved, through millennia of artificial selection, their own distinct crop seed varieties, livestock strains, special herbs, and fermentation starters – which are valued equally for the genetic information they contain as for their nutritional, gustatory or medicinal value.

Information Technology, Production And Ownership:
Outline Of Broad Historical Trends

Primitive stage

At the dawn of human history, society took the form of small and dispersed nomadic or semi-settled communities that practiced primitive communalism. They relied on hunting-gathering production systems, later graduating to incipient and simple forms of agriculture, and engaged in economic, political and cultural egalitarianism. The subsistence economies probably enjoyed a sporadic surplus, but these were soon plowed back into reciprocal exchanges and community gatherings as soon as they were obtained. Logically, information was part of community culture, and tightly integrated with the production of subsistence-level goods and services.

Such communities were generally pre-literate, but made up for it by developing highly elaborate forms of vocal and non-vocal communication, as well as sophisticatedly simple tools and devices to aid human memory and speech. These most probably included oral literature, music, dance and drama, other ritual devices, body dress and decoration, realistic and geometric markings and carvings that served as long-term symbol systems, and long-distance signaling systems (which must have been of prime importance to nomadic life and hunting trips).

All community members must have contributed to and benefited from indigenous knowledge systems more or less on equal footing, with some differentiation based mostly on age, sex, and relative aptitudes. Training of the young was informal but intensive and tightly integrated into the daily activities of the band, clan or tribal community. Knowledge diffused too among neighboring communities, albeit more slowly, through incipient trading, marriage and war alliances.

Elders, shamans and women healers must have been highly valued and respected by their communities because of their long experience, deep knowledge and special skills – as they still are among present-day indigenous peoples with subsistence production systems. But they did not enjoy the high privileges of caste and class that would predominate in the next historical stages. It was of prime interest to the community that they shared and imparted as much of their knowledge and skills to other qualified community members. There must have been information restrictions too, through religious taboo and tribal or clan secrets, but they were for the protection of the entire community, not for some individual property right.

Ancient and medieval periods

Primitive-communal societies ultimately gave way to ancient slave-owning and medieval-feudal societies, whose economies centered on agricultural production systems supplemented by handicraft-level industries. These production systems ensured a steady surplus but were based on the exploitation of a great mass of slaves, serfs and artisans. The exploiters were a hierarchy or succession of slave-owners, feudal landlords, and despotic bureaucracies, who inescapably also held state power at various levels as ruling classes. Ancient and feudal economies were also characterized by a combination of basic local self-sufficiency and the growth of commodity production reinforced by regular long-distance trading. The emergence of surplus production and the growing needs of the state and ruling classes dictated the cultural directions taken by society.

Ancient and medieval civilizations were highly literate and numerate, in the sense of having used writing, mathematics, and other complex symbol manipulation systems to produce prolific records – mostly for the state’s purposes of economic accounting, legal administration, civil works and military operations, astronomical-agricultural reckoning, and their associated religious rituals. Through centuries of continuous existence, these civilizations accumulated massive amounts of written, graphic, and other records, including those concentrated in archives, libraries, palaces and royal tombs. These are priceless legacies to present-day humankind as we continue to discover and study the remains of these civilizations.

General periods of material prosperity engendered explosive growth in literature and arts, empirical sciences, and speculative philosophies. However, information resources and specialized skills were increasingly restricted and even monopolized in the hands of the wealthy ruling classes, through the dominant and often merged institutions of church and state. They depended on privileged retinues of warrior, priestly, intellectual, scribal, and craft castes, which were often exclusionist in membership and fully exempted from the backbreaking drudge of manual labor in the fields, mines, and construction sites. In any case, the small scale of information technologies itself required the slow and laborious processes of manually recording and reproducing, performing or verbally transmitting, and physically transporting information.

Of course there were intermittent periods of stagnation and massive destruction as economic crises, wars and revolts resulted in the loss of whole communities, productive forces and material wealth. These included the destruction of priceless records that could have enabled succeeding generations to learn both from the wisdom and the folly of their ancestors. But even in the most stable, peaceful and prosperous periods, the masses of slaves, serfs and subject peoples were denied the products of literature, arts and the sciences that their masters enjoyed as a matter of daily routine. In fact, the overwhelming majority of slaves and serfs remained illiterate and ill informed, although they did carry on with their rich traditions of folk culture. Formal education and training through institutions and private tutors were reserved mostly for the children of the ruling, wealthy, and intellectual elite, as a matter of strict class privilege.

Modern capitalist-industrial stage

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, particularly in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, the maturing feudal-mercantilist societies gradually transformed into capitalist countries, and sooner or later organized into nation-states. These countries developed industrialized economies, which centered on the mass production and distribution of commodities to be sold for profit. Social wealth accumulated mainly as private capital in the hands of a numerically small but socially dominant capitalist class. A large industrial working class, plus analogous workforces in the agriculture and service sectors, comprised the biggest but most exploited mass of the population, while prosperous times allowed growth for a distinct middle class of professionals and small owner-producers.

Advanced capitalist countries soon turned into imperialist powers, driving into other parts of the globe, oppressing less-developed countries and plundering other peoples who until now suffer the multiple crises of semi-feudal stagnation, the effects of global capitalist overheating, degradation of national sovereignty, and cultural breakdown. The Philippines, colonized for 350 years by two Western powers and occupied in wartime by an Asian power, is just one of many examples.

Global capitalism created tremendous advances in scientific knowledge and invention, veritable riches in literature and arts, mass-culture environments, and the expanding IPR regimes that characterize modern society. Information technologies became more and more mechanized, i.e., dependent on powered machinery and machine-compatible media, creating the basis for the mass production and mass delivery of information goods and services at increasingly larger scales, higher speeds, and more varied formats.

These theoretically provided the masses with a much broader access to information. Some of the services, such as the establishment of free public schools, mass literacy, and mass communications, did much to raise the cultural level of the whole population. But increasingly, the masses find out they have to buy information as privatized goods and services, as commodities. At the same time, their folk culture suffers breakdowns, privatization, and cooptation into the established mass culture of capitalism. Their loss of folk culture is replaced by mass entertainment as dictated by the czars of elitist culture.

Instead of ensuring greater access to information, the state’s new IPR laws (on copyrights, patents, and trademarks) imposed unprecedented restrictions on the traditional right to copy and use intellectual works, thereby redirecting cultural-scientific activity away from mass initiative and folk authorship, towards commercial mass production and private individualized authorship. Only a lucky few are rewarded by this system.

The development of modern information technologies and their impact on society may be divided into three phases:

Phase 1 (16th to 18th centuries): printing, newspapers; development of modern universities; most information is still considered public-domain resource, although copyrights and patents are already practiced.

Phase 2 (19th to early 20th century): technological advances in mechanical, chemical, electrical reproduction of graphics and sound (photography and film, audio-video), in long-distance instantaneous transmission of text, sound, images; broadcast media; national public school systems; IPR regimes established on national scales

Phase 3 (late 20th century): digital information revolution; migration of information technologies from mainly mechanical to mainly electronic, and from mainly analog to mainly digital; the increased convergence of manual and mental labor in certain sectors, assisted by increasing automation of production processes and services; rapid global expansion of Western-dominated IPR regimes

The impact of the 20th century "information revolution"

Tremendous 20th century advances in the field of information, which amount to a veritable technological revolution, have a major impact on the development of capitalism.

On one hand, imperialist powers and corporations are provided with more powerful scientific, military, industrial and propaganda tools – from satellite imaging to genetic engineering, from high-tech intelligence to automated weapon platforms, from high-tech Hollywood to CNN. They are thus armed with more aggressive and intensive techniques in their continuing domination of other countries, plunder of the world’s resources, and glorification of the capitalist lifestyle and ethic.

At the same time, these same new technologies encourage the mass production of new, high-value information commodities protected by the global IPR regime. Surges and scrambles in the IT and information markets create a transient dynamic reminiscent of robust, free enterprise capitalism. But after each round, the underlying dynamics of monopoly capitalism reasserts itself. Thus, the new technologies only appear to forestall, but actually intensify the global crisis of over-production.

There are claims that a "cyberlord class" has already replaced the industrial capitalist class in countries such as the U.S. In truth, the new batch of successful companies riding on the information revolution (such as the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Intel) are just treading on the same path taken by the railroad, telegraph and oil barons a century ago: join up with other profitable industrial and financial companies through mergers and buyouts. The result actually validates Lenin’s main theses on imperialism, with the monopoly capitalist class coming from the ranks of industrialists, bankers, traders, landed aristocracy, and speculators.

On the other hand, the same technological revolution has in fact enhanced the social character of production and the role of the working class in leading the way out of the capitalist crisis. Contrary to the pipedream that a new elite "digitariat" has pulled the rug out from under the proletariat, droves of white-collar, computer-literate workers are in fact joining the category of industrial workers. If at all, the proletariat is absorbing unto itself the intellectual qualities of the so-called "digitariat".

The specific sociology, cultural values and lifestyles of the working class in the advanced capitalist countries at present show great differences with those of their counterparts working in smokestacks and sweatshops a century ago or more, such as described by Engels in England. But their essential position in the process of production continues to place them in fundamental conflict, not in agreement, with the capitalist system. It is to the advantage of the working class that its ranks are more than ever intellectualized.

Towards a People’s Information Alternative

The preceding theoretical and historical overview should now help us consider the prospective conditions and options in working towards a people’s alternative to the current IPR regime. I offer the following preliminary guiding concepts:

Resist the present regressive and exploitative global IPR regime

Although the general notion of "intellectual property rights" is not regressive, it is extremely regressive and exploitative as interpreted and implemented through the present global IPR regime. It gives so much advantage to foreign corporations as the principal IPR holders globally. At the same time, it effectively bars our people from getting the freest possible access, at the least cost, to the vast storehouse of knowledge and useful information that is already technically available to us. It even encourages our own intellectuals to play the IPR game for a chance to hit paydirt, instead of urging them to work for other means of recognition and compensation while serving the people with their creations and innovations.

Thus, our minimum demand must be to reject the IPR-related impositions of the WTO, of the major Western governments, and of the corporate IPR holders, on the Philippines. In this regard, we reject the Intellectual Property Code as an unjust imposition on the Filipino people. We must call on all progressive and patriotic people in the fields of literature and arts, the sciences, mass media and education, to undertake critiques of the IP Code and propose alternatives.

We must also fight against the attempt, particularly by foreign or multinational corporate giants, to prospect locally and to acquire or enforce patents on strategic or potentially dangerous inventions (such as bio-genetic resources), or copyrights or other types of private claims to nationally strategic information, including those of priceless historical or economic value.

Replace regressive IPR with progressive intellectual production rights

In a broader sense, we question the very concept of IPR in its general form as privately-held copyright and patent rights, insofar as it gives the copyright or patent holder an absolute right to decide whether to give permission or not, to whom and for how much, for their publicly accessible works or inventions to be reproduced.

Once its creator has publicly released a work or invention, by knowingly and voluntarily allowing it to be reproduced and opened to public scrutiny, then others must be given the right to recopy it for purposes of public benefit, subject to regulation. We must also protect the creator’s legitimate rights (for his intellectual work to be credited to him, for his labor and creativity to be compensated, and for his work’s public success to be rewarded). But there are alternative mechanisms for this. We must explore and adopt alternative ways of recognizing, rewarding and encouraging innovation and creative work that do not put the authors’ and inventors’ rights in conflict with the people’s overriding need to benefit from their creations.

In this regard, our maximum demand on the issue of IPR is to work for the gradual restriction and ultimate phaseout of private and ultimately regressive IPR instruments such as the traditional Western model of copyrights and patents with their emphasis on royalties. In lieu, we must work towards their transformation into (or replacement by) progressive intellectual production rights. For example, we can explore new mechanisms along the lines of the General Public License (GPL) used by GNU computer activists, or along the lines of former socialist copyrights and patents with their stress on public non-profit benefit and protection of the national interest.

Legitimate intellectual production rights may also be further ensured through such mechanisms as direct public commissions, sponsorships, subsidies, rewards, and promotion to special positions, which should encourage and assist professionals and amateurs to contribute more literary, artistic, scientific and technological creations in the service of their country and people. These arrangements could be done through government agencies, professional academies, and other public organizations. We must also explore mechanisms by which indigenous peoples can share their traditional knowledge at their own pace and terms.

Public control over strategic information resources, support of legitimate private interests

The struggle must not be limited to questions of intellectual property rights, but must be expanded to the more strategic question of ensuring public control and ownership over the most vital areas and facilities of information technology, production and delivery of information goods and services: e.g. schools, mass media, and telecommunications, among others.

In this way, we can have the means as a nation to ensure public access to information resources – including education, literature and arts, and mass media – at the least cost. Democracy requires that the public enjoy the freest possible flow of information, with appropriate considerations for national security, privacy, and community norms.

In order to ensure true ownership and control by the public, and not by corrupt government bureaucracy, we must campaign for democratization among public institutions. We must ensure mass supervision and even a degree of mass participation in running the institutions controlling such strategic facilities.

At the same time, we must recognize and encourage the continuing role of private initiatives and efforts – especially by non-profit or voluntary projects, cooperatives, traditional communities, family-based small enterprises – in pursuing their legitimate interests in the various fields related to information. Those private educational, scientific, literary, artistic and mass media efforts that are clearly devoid of private commercial or narrow political interests must be given priority government support.

Towards a truly patriotic, popular, and progressive culture

Finally, all the above efforts must be clearly placed in the context of developing a truly patriotic, popular, and progressive culture in the fields of science, education, mass media, literature and arts. It is a culture that upholds national over foreign interest, broad public over narrow private interest, and progressive over regressive social relations.

The broad masses of our people are beginning to awaken and move. They do not simply want free access to what information is available. Much less do they need to be force-fed false information and mind-numbing trash. They want access to information resources that can help articulate and achieve their own needs and aspirations, that can help liberate themselves from ages-old exploitation, oppression, and ignorance.

As social activists and issue advocates in the various fields of information, we must push ourselves to bring our cultural, education, mass media, and scientific work into convergence with grassroots-oriented, community-based mass movements. Among our colleagues in the various fields of work, we must campaign for a patriotic and mass-oriented set of values and work ethics, and constantly uphold the spirit of serving the people instead of just looking out for ourselves. Indeed, what could be the most ennobling task for progressive Filipino writers, artists and scientists but to offer their intellects unconditionally in the service of the people?

Pio Verzola, Jr. is a member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and provides research and I.T. services for the Cordillera Indigenous Peoples Legal Center and a few other grassroots NGO’s in Baguio City, Philippines. He is also one of the members of AGHAM- Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya Para sa Sambayanan.