Sunday, February 28, 2010

text to help

A US group that harnesses mobile phone technology to raise money for charities on Saturday launched text message campaigns to raise money for victims of the powerful quake in Chile. By texting the word “Chile” to a five-digit number, Americans and Canadians can make micro-donations of five or ten dollars to non-profit groups including Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army or World Vision to help Chileans recover from the 8.8-magnitude quake that rattled their country early Saturday.

This is not something new here in our country. Text Ondoy, text Red (Philippine National Red Cross), text Pasig, text PBB (ooops the last one’s not included but I’m sure it got most number of text messages haha) – are only some of the examples of how organizations take advantage of technology to pursue their objectives. Afterall, who can resist the chance of helping other people when all he or she has to do is to text.. and what's a little deduction on the load anyway? Ahh.. altruism.

What caught me by surprise is an article I found in the Internet entitled “Text Alex.” PBB has just ended so who the hell is Alex?

Negrense Senatorial candidate lawyer Alex Lacson on Thursday launched "Text Donate to Alex" in Bacolod City designed to support his political campaign for the May 2010polls.
Lacson said that his political party does not have enough money to fund for their campaign especially to pay for national advertisements. He said he wouldn’t want to ask donations from big businessmen but rather to the Filipino people because he would like to serve them and not the interest of those tycoons and taipans once elected to the senate.

Okay. Maybe he should ask the cellphone networks to donate their share in this project.. and then surely, he will have more money for his campaign. Hehe.

- Glaisa PO
(entry no. 16)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Aborting DPL Dreams: When the Best Offense is Defense

I'm starting to think that this little Bro, aggressively advertised on TV, is not so smart after all. I find it difficult to connect to the net with it unless I go out of the house. I know it was made for mobility but does that mean I have to be outdoors all the time? Plus, if I want to check my load balance, I have to be connected. So if I can't connect, how do I know if it's because I don't have any load anymore or the connection is just lousy? I don't know. Maybe there's just no techie gene in me or something.

I wish the MVP of business would push thru with "Data over Power Lines (DPL)". During the time a power distribution company was being fought over by two of the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines, the grapevine was infested by rumors that the hidden value in the utility company was the potential of its power lines not simply to distribute electricity but transmit data as well!

Goodbye DSL, welcome DPL! (Some use the acronym BPL or Broadband over Power Lines). With DPL technology, we don't need to spend for the installation of fiber-optic cable networks. That's because we already have the power grid right around us. All you have to do is plug in your computer (or that gadget with the Wi-Fi antenna) to an electric socket and voila! You're connected to the Internet! How does that work? As I said, I'm no techie so here's a short explanation from Denis Du Bois of Energy Priorities Magazine*:

"Here's how it works: The utility connects the internet to its electric distribution lines by installing power line adaptors at centralized locations. These adaptors receive internet data and translate it to special frequencies that can be combined with electricity and transmitted over the distribution lines. The endpoint modems separate the data from the electricity, sending the data to an Ethernet port."

Imagine how cheap and convenient it would be for all Pinoys to get connected to the internet if it is available 'til the farthest reaches of electric power lines. There would be no need for costly and controversial "broadband deals" since the government already has an ongoing electrification program where (allegedly) 98% of all barangays already have electricity. Imagine the capital and resources that could be saved by avoiding the duplication of networks when we combine the country's power grids with the its broadband networks. Imagine how rich (or richer, rather) the MVPs of business could be if they could successfully push thru with DPL.

I wish it pushes thru and succeeds so I could relish the pleasure of making a three-point-shot to the dustbin with this not-so-smart little Bro. But wait a minute. Aren't the owners of this little Bro the same ones who acquired the power distribution company? What if the MVP's game plan is to play defense? Then goodbye DPL dreams... Maybe this little Bro is smart after all.



SLAPP suits. I just heard about the term a month ago while I was attending to the application of a friend for MCLE at the UP LAW CENTER. A quick search in the internet revealed to me what it stood for.
SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, or lawsuits aimed at squelching speech and involvement in government. Many states, including California, have anti-SLAPP statutes allowing one who has been targeted by a SLAPP to sue back.

It appears that in the United States, there were several instances where people have filed criminal and civil suits in response to public criticisms. To have a clearer appreciation of SLAPP suits, we take the case of Libel. In libel, TRUTH is ordinarily not a defense to a libelous imputation. Hence, this fact has been taken advantage of by rich individuals and corporations to stifle free speech.
With the advent of the internet, SLAPP suits for expressions made online, have become en vogue. has this to say:

Online, SLAPP suits typically involve a person who has posted anonymous criticisms of a corporation or public figure on the Internet. The target of the criticism then files a lawsuit so they can issue a subpoena to the Web site or Internet Service Provider (ISP) involved and thereby discover the identity of their anonymous critic. Many SLAPPers stop after discovering their critic's identity, using the tactic to intimidate or silence online speakers even though they were engaging in protected expression under the First Amendment. (

SLAPP suits have been so rampant in the United States that some States have special statutes on SLAPP. Wikipedia describes one statute:
The U.S. state of California enacted Code of Civil Procedure § 425.16 in 1992, a statute intended to frustrate SLAPPs by providing a quick and inexpensive defense. It provides for a special motion which a defendant can file at the outset of a lawsuit to strike a complaint where the complaint arises from conduct that falls within the rights of petition or free speech. The statute expressly applies to any writing or speech made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a legislative, executive, or judicial proceeding, or any other official proceeding authorized by law, but there is no requirement that the writing or speech be promulgated directly to the official body. It also applies to speech in a public forum about an issue of public interest and to any other petition or speech conduct about an issue of public interest.

Most of us have been blogging recently about expressions made online particularly facebook. We saw as a victory of a student in the US who prevailed against his teacher in a civil suit in Court. In my view, the same ruling should be made even if the proceeding is other than criminal and civil since the chilling effect is the same.

Currently, there are discussions in the Law Center regarding these SLAPP suits. I surmise that the end view of these discussions is our very own anti-SLAPP law here in the Philippines.

In my view however, there is no need for a SLAPP legislation here. The rights of free speech are constitutional rights. Under the Constitution, the Supreme Court may promulgate rules for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. Certainly, free speech is a constitutional right.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

DRM fail

Videogame publisher Ubisoft has unveiled plans to implement a new DRM (digital rights management, basically refers to anti-piracy methods) scheme for its PC games . Basically, under this new scheme, players need to be online to play the game. Gone are the limited installs that come with the disc. (Their previous scheme put a cap on the number of installs per disc you can make) There would also be no need to put the disc inside the drive while playing. The authentication process will all be online and will happen everytime you logon to Ubisoft’s servers to play the game.

While at first glance this may seem as a good idea, it is riddled with problems. First, there is the issue of ISP reliability. Not all ISPs provide a stable internet connection. On some days (especially here in the Philippines), internet connection can be a bit buggy, disconnecting you every once in a while. And what happens if your internet gets disconnected while you’re playing? Apparently, all your progress will be lost up to the last time you saved.

The second issue is the reliability of Ubisoft’s servers. When they go down, you can’t play. If servers reach their maximum capability, you may not be able to play. Also, you can’t expect that games will still be supported after, say, 5 years. That means after such period, you may not be able to play your game anymore. Your purchase, in that sense, becomes a rental.

The last issue with this DRM is the same with all other schemes that have been implemented so far: they don’t address the problems of piracy. The technological barrier put up by the DRM is not enough to prevent piracy. The game will eventually be cracked and released to torrents. It also does not provide any incentive to buy the game. Instead, what this new scheme essentially does is burden the paying customer. Because of this, it may even be argued that DRM schemes such as these even promote piracy, since it is much easier to play the pirated version compared to the DRM-protected version.

What then should they have done? I don’t know. All I know is that this type of DRM is not the solution. It only hurts their customers and does nothing to address piracy issues.


Monch Bacani
11th entry

Res Ges(Tweet)

Social networking site Twitter is in the spotlight once again with the newsworthy account of a man in Bangalore who tweeted while trapped in the burning Carlton Hotel with six others awaiting slow and painful rescue from the blaze. He was besieged with interviews afterwards, tweeting that he was tired and lost count of them. When he was asked why he was tweeting while his life was in danger, he answered that 'We were trapped in a corner where there was nothing to do but wait. Only a moron would tweet when they should be running.'

This piece of news reminded me of another Twitter-related incident that ended in a tragedy. On December 17, 2009, a mother (Military Mom) lost her 2-year old son to an accidental drowning in their pool at home. She came under fire for tweeting about her son's accident and again, 5 hrs later, to tell her followers about his death and even posted a photo of him.

While she received condolences from her tweeps (her followers), she was also besieged with an outpouring of rage from all over the world. Mostly accused of being a negligent mother and a Twitter addict, the most painful accusations perhaps were the ones that blamed her for the death of her son. Momblogger, a Filipina political web commentator and founder of came to her defense while many, or even most, found her tweeting horrifying and shameful. The issue was hotly debated when it first came out, with social media analysts quick to defend Military Mom's tweeting habits versus reactions that social networking sites are taking over people's lives to the point that these tragedies happen.

I wondered how this incident would have played out had it happened in the Philippines. At the height of Ondoy, when most of our telecoms fell apart, people received news, were saved and rescued through Facebook and Twitter. Bayanihan manifested itself even in cyberspace as people used social networking sites and other web tools to gather and disseminate vital information to aid rescue efforts. So, where I'm coming from, Twitter is not necessarily as destructive as angry critics are making it out to be.

The difficulty in Military Mom's situation is that she craved the comfort and sympathy of a virtual community with whom she interacted constantly, a large group of online followers (5,000) that possibly outnumbered her real-life friends. Unfortunately, the very same community she had hoped would help her through a difficult time in her life turned on her because they found her tweeting and reaction to the tragedy appalling.

If Military Mom were in the Philippines, perhaps she would not be as lonely as army wives are in the US (given our "hospitality" and accomodating nature). She would probably have her fair share of neighbors who would gladly help her watch her son or even just be there at her house chatting and playing with her son. Most likely she would have texted or called people within the vicinity to help her, since she would not rely on the police or the ambulance to get to her house in time to save her son. She might not even be tweeting at all because she would either have other things to occupy her time or she might not have internet connection available to her.

At the end of the day, we ask, what good would it have done that she could have tweeted to her 5,000+ followers about the unfortunate incident as it happened when none of them (as they were mere virtual friends) could have really helped her, and worse, blamed her and called her names for her son's untimely death? It seems that technology moves so fast that it forgets to carry along its passenger - real and actual or physical human relations.

Entry no.12

All fussed up on FOSS (or something like it).

Awi Mayuga's ramblings below constitute her twelfth entry

I've always been a fan of open-source software, mostly because they're either freeware or shareware. They operate on the idea that if people believe in your product, such people would donate. If the product is a pretty good one, then they would get the necessary funding, and consequently the updates. And being open-source, anyone is free to improve the software, depending on the license.

My favorite source of such software is I'm still using FileZilla as my FTP client. Before I switched to utorrent, I alternated between azureus and ABC. (The reason for that is Azureus was Java dependent, and it was sluggish on one of my home computers which was running WinXP on just 128MB RAM... crazy, I know.) But it's such a shame that azureus now named Vuze has adware. (But I guess better adware than spyware, huh? It's just a teeny notch below, however.)

Other free stuff I use are irfanview (graphic viewer), Winamp, Avira, Comodo (for the firewall) and Firefox.

I've been wanting to run Ubuntu, but I'd probably use that once I have a new system -- when? when?! -- and I could use my current PC as just my secondary PC to test stuff. (But that's if it doesn't die on me first.)

One thing I want to install is Google Chrome, but since it doesn't load greasemonkey scripts yet (as far as I know), I'm refraining. Yes, being able to load my Castle Age script (to check on how much exp I need to level up, how many hours left on a particular monster, the works) correctly IS the dealbreaker.

A New and Easy Way of Locating a Person

It’s now easy to locate the address of the place you want to find or go to. Google it. Better yet, use Wikimapia, or Google earth or Google maps. But how do you find a person who doesn’t have a cellphone, who is not at home on a Friday night, but is out with people you don’t know? And you need something urgent or very important from him…

Just recently, my friend needed to find his brother. ASAP. He wanted to know the password to his brother’s laptop where the research materials and updated files for our paper were stored. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to finish our paper. So, we had to act on it. Fast.

What we did was to go to the nearest Internet cafĂ© along Katipunan. My friend logged in on YM. His brother wasn’t online. Neither was any of their common friends here in Manila online as well. Then he logged in on Facebook. He asked those people online, at least those who might possibly know the cellphone number of a friend of his brother’s, whom we suspected to be with the brother at that time. One person gave us the friend’s number. We called the person. Negative. He was not with the brother. But he said that the brother might be with another friend of theirs. So we contacted that person. Still, to no avail. Time was running out.

We used Facebook and YM and cellphone at the same time, in a trial-and-error method, just to be able to locate his brother, and get the password so we can work on our paper. We were getting desperate, until finally, we were able to contact his brother! Through a friend of a common friend who was online on Facebook at that time. The rest was history, so to speak. Hehe.

Of course, it wouldn’t have come to this had my friend made a back up file, at least online; or, had I also saved the files in my laptop. Still, it was just fascinating how, in this day and age, we are able to find people – with facility and ease – not just through the use of cellphones, but also through the Internet, through Facebook, or YM for that matter.

Reody Anthony M. Balisi
12th Entry

Caution: School Zone

One of my friends is a high school teacher. During one of our (very few) nights out, she told me about an incident between the seniors and some of the faculty members. Apparently, some of the aforementioned students had something like a pool party, complete with bikinis and booze. I don’t know how the bikinis looked, or if they were, indeed, tiny. Nor do I have any idea of how much booze was involved. All I know is that they took pictures of themselves during the party in what was deemed by many as rather provocative poses. These pictures were then uploaded to their multiply sites.

Yes. I’m sure anyone reading this knows where this is going.

One of the faculty members was among one of the partygoer’s multiply friends. She saw the pictures and was, for lack of a better word, scandalized. She then told the principal and other members of the administration about the pictures, and showed them the shots. The school summoned the students and their parents.

It was, in short, a bit of a circus.

The school, then, began to come up with what they began to call “internet etiquette” rules. Now, I know I don’t have any kids, but I have to admit, I had strong feelings on the matter. I wouldn’t want that to happen to any of my kids, I wouldn’t want any of my kids to get into anything like that (if the interpretation of the school was not exaggerated). But it made me wonder, where does privacy come into play? Admittedly, the teacher was in the student’s friends list. But where do you tell the school that it isn’t any of their business anymore, that it’s the parents’ turf now? And wow, internet etiquette rules? Was the school going to start monitoring internet use at home?

I don’t know exactly how a parent would feel about it, of course. As I said, I wouldn’t want that to happen to any of my kids, I wouldn’t want any of my kids to get into anything like that. But would that extend to allowing the school to interfere in my home?

[end blog no. 12; images by longlasting and namariz, respectively]

You’re just being creative

How many hours do you spend in a day in front of your computer, sifting through tons of email, patiently approving Facebook invitation of some kid who sat behind you while your kindergarten teacher read Jack and the Beanstalk twenty years ago? (Or, for that matter, disapproving the invitation of the guy who stole your pencil case in grade school?)

And how often do you feel the pangs of guilt immediately kicking in, forcing you to regret not having spent the time reading your cases for the next day’s class?

Here’s something to make you feel a little bit better. According to an article from Wired, “humans weren’t designed to maintain a constant focus on assigned tasks. We need periodic breaks to relieve our conscious minds of the pressure to perform — pressure that can lock us into a single mode of thinking. Musing about something else for a while can clear away the mental detritus, letting us see an issue through fresh eyes, a process that creativity researchers call incubation.”

I guess when you’re spending that much time on Facebook and Twitter, you’re not wasting your time. You’re just being creative.
13th Entry
Ralph Vincent Catedral


I was on my way to my grandmother’s house when a sign caught my eye – 30% percent off on a cremation package, which included a free urn. I normally don’t even look at coffin shops because the very idea of it creeps me out, but when I saw that sign hanging over such a store, I had to laugh.

I was still laughing a few weeks later when I told my barkada about it. Afterwards, though, one of my friends caught me by surprise when she pulled the idea out of the proverbial hat – eCremation. I thought it was a joke, but apparently she wasn’t kidding.

I know about eReunions – my dad had a high school reunion about a year ago, and they’d set up a big screen in one corner to be able to connect to and see their friends abroad who’d also gathered together in one place. I thought that was cute, and sweet. But eCremation? That’s kind of... morbid. For me, at least. I guess if someone was abroad and couldn’t personally bid a loved one good bye, that could serve as some kind of emotional salve.

I guess everything really IS on the internet now.

[end blog no. 11; images by kakarton and =gva, respectively]


One computer. Up to 30 users at the same time.

How desktop virtualization works.

Inexpensive. Efficient. And eco-friendly.

Virtual desktop computers is the way of the future.

by Mona Barro (14th entry)

An Ecological Perspective


This is not so much ICT, but I think it is something that deserves attention. This is an outlet regulator that was created by Conor Klein. His “design does not require any human interaction due to its ejection action. Once any connected gadgets reach their fully charged state, the outlet's cable will eject itself from the walls socket, stopping any energy consumption.”

Outlet Regulator Video from conor klein on Vimeo.

Other designs have been developed to curb the energy consumption of the many gadgets we have now. They are not perfect, however, in that they have unfavorable side effects. Some designs require the active participation of the user (turning it on/off). Others make gadgets perform below optimal levels (slower speed, memory failure, etc.). Of course we want to maximize the utility of all our gadgets, whether they be for business or pleasure, but we should not disregard the impact of our techie lifestyle on the environment. All the ICT stuff we have use energy to operate and it is not hard to imagine that this could account for a considerable chunk in total energy consumption. I think ICT laws should also look into this aspect as we move forward to a more highly technological world. But for now, it wouldn’t hurt if we try out designs like this outlet regulator to help in reducing the world’s energy consumption and solving the problem of climate change.

The challenge is to make ICT development a sustainable one.


"Cheesiness" in the Internet

Since I was young, I got easily addicted to watching television (and, come to think of it, I get easily addicted to anything I like). There was even one time when I was prohibited by my dad to watch the television because I was not able to finish the school year with honors (waha, not really but my ranking was really low).

Now that I'm in law school, it would be very dangerous for me to watch T.V. - or else I would not get anything done. But I do follow some series and soap operas, and thus, I would have had forgone watching them if I had assignments or tons of readings to prioritize.

Good thing that many people now upload episodes of my favorites. Even latest episodes of US Series can now be found in Torrentz, and now even local series. I was really glad there were episodes of local series which can be found online. It's rare for these to release DVDs after the season ends so with these uploads I could still catch up with what has happened in the episode. I wonder though if the local televisions would go after them for infringement of the local network's rights for the series...or would the local television networks just find it additional promotion for them? 

Yes, I admit I'm a fan. 

Censorship by Platform Providers

The Italy Court decision holding Google executives guilty of violating the privacy rights of the subject of a video uploaded is another recent case focusing on Internet privacy.

This case now brings into fore the question of liability when internet privacy rights are violated. Is the Platform owner/ website owner the one liable for the breach when he or she merely provides the avenue by which the right is violated? or should the "victim" go after the uploader instead and just force the website/platform owner to reveal the true identity of the user who uploaded or posted the defamatory statement?

We will have to see if the decision holds up in the higher courts. I think this decision poses a good and practical question of liability when it comes to violation of privacy rights over the web. While I disagree with the decision in the sense that it obliges platform providers to act as censors of every material uploaded, I do think there is still a need to re-evaluate how rights may be protected when the medium of transgression is the web.

- Aaron Ho (13th Entry)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adik Ka Ba?

Can you survive without internet connection? If not, then you might be suffering from a mental disorder! Just recently, the American Psychiatric Association proposed to include Internet Addiction as an official classification of mental disorders in the psychiatrist’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). IAD or Internet Addiction Disorder was first coined by Ivan Goldberg in 1995 who used pathological gambling as a model for this disorder. Although IAD failed to be included in last year’s DSM, its possible future classification as a psychological disorder is continually debated.

This raises the question: Is the internet really the principal cause of the addiction? Or is it merely a symptom of some other mental disorder? Some who are labeled as ‘internet addicts’ may be suffering from depression or some other mental disorders which are unrelated to the internet. It may be so that the internet merely serves as an avenue where these disorders manifest themselves. Those suffering from gambling addiction may frequent online casinos while sex addicts use the internet to visit pornographic sites.

Although the classification of Internet Addiction seems insignificant, its effects towards insurers and insurance claims are great as it may give rise to absurd claims. Those who insured another’s psychological health may be forced to pay for his treatment of Warcraft addiction, Facebook addiction, etc. Good for the insured but bad for the insurers.

Gaming this year will be a fantasy

I was with some friends in my usual tambay place in the College last Friday when the conversation steered towards the topic of "secret gamers". Apparently, two of my female batchmates are secret gamers, or persons who generally don't tell others that they are into video games. One even claimed that she favored Night Elves.

I am no secret gamer. I openly tell people, of course based on the current topic of the conversation, that I love video gaming. If I were asked regarding a particular game I liked, i would say without any hesitation, "Final Fantasy". I have finished its first to twelfth main installments, adding in the fact that I am what is called a "completionist" in the RPG game lingo. Counting the spin-offs would be a different matter, and would complete my total to about sixteen games which range from sixty to about one hundred twenty hours each to finish.

The first installment of the Final Fantasy series premiered in Japan on December 18, 1987. This year, Square will release the fourteenth main installment of the series, Final Fantasy XIV. Technically, it's not really the fourteenth installment, as mentioned, because there are spin-offs like: Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, and the much celebrated PSP releases Final Fantasy Dissidea and Final Fantasy Crisis Core. In addition, it isn't really a series, since each game tells a different story and a features different cast. You may have heard of the names Sephirot, Cloud, Zidane, Squall and Balthier. They however, come from different universes and times as is depicted. The only thing consistent with the installments are the in-game elements, like the moogles and chocobos.

Here's the preview of the latest installment:

Too bad it's my turn to take that exam this year. No gaming till it's November!

15th Entry: Goodbye Cyberboso

Now, there’s comfort for the Katrina Halili’s out there. Last Febuary 15, the President signed Republic Act No. 9995, otherwise known as the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2010. As opposed to the commencement and endorsement of the bill, which clung on to the tremendous publicity caused by the Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili circus, the bill passed into law without any noise.

According to the news, the new law banned the taking, copying and reproduction, selling and distribution and publication and broadcasting of photos or videos of sexual activities as well as private parts of a person without the consent of the people concerned. Violation of the law is punishable by imprisonment of not more than seven (7) years, with a fine of not less than P100,000, but not more than P500,000. The copy of the law is not yet available over the net, although copies of both the House Bill and Senate Bill are readily accessible in the House and Senate websites.

Before this law, victims had only two options: (a) filing a case for unjust vexation punishable by a mere arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 pesos to 200 pesos, or (b) filing a case under the stiffer provisions of Republic Act 9262 the applicable sections of which impose a penalty of prision mayor and a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P300,000. The problem, however, with RA 9262 is that there is much doubt whether said law is applicable in cyberboso situations. Consider for instance Hayden Kho’s argument that he should not held liable under RA 9262 as he was not the one who publicized and distributed the videos that caused psychological violence upon Katrina Halili. In fact, it was argued that Hayden Kho is also a victim in that particular case. Fortunately, RA 9995 settled the issue once and for all by imposing liability even upon a person who merely captured an image of a private area of an individual without his/her consent and knowingly does so under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The beauty of the law is that it identified the acts connected with voyeurism and imposed liability upon the persons concerned, clearly and indisputably.

Technology has provided us with so many benefits. Unfortunately, the digital age likewise made possible certain harmful acts, such as this trend towards video voyeurism, which actually led to assaults against the privacy and dignity of persons, most especially women. It is high time that government accorded its citizens adequate protection against these high-tech peeping toms.

(Source:, photo:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Noah's ark was circular

“That they processed aboard the enormous floating wildlife collection two-by-two is well known. Less familiar, however, is the possibility that the animals Noah shepherded on to his ark then went round and round inside.”

Last month, this news came out all over the net. The historian who made such conclusion is Leonard Simmons. He discovered this information through an ancient Babylonian inscription on a clay tablet telling the story of the ark. The aged tablet is calculated to be 3,700 years old and was found somewhere in the Middle East.

Perhaps one of the greatest inventions of humankind is the written language. (be it hieroglyphics, cuneiform, Asian characters, braille, etc). It is not only used for communication, but it gives society a sense of the past. Why? Because the whole fabric of history itself is based on written records - government papers, diaries, letters, inscriptions, biographies, and many others. Positive law itself traces its history from the written language. One of the best known collections of written laws, is that of Hammurabi, king of Babylon (the Code of Hammurabi which was inscribed on a stone pillar). And, of course, there’s also the famous Ten Commandments presented by Moises to the people of Israel.

Democracy itself traces its roots in the written constitution. As eloquently stated in Marbury vs Madison, “That the people have an original right to establish, for their future government, such principles as, in their opinion, shall most conduce to their own happiness is the basis on which the whole American fabric had been erected.” (Such exercise of writing the Constitution was therein described as a “very great exertion, thus it ought not to be frequently repeated, and therefore, the principles so established are deemed fundamental).

Now, the written language can be found in more complicated and diverse forms. As we have discussed in our class earlier, computers operate through the use of the binary code (based on 1’s and 0’s). The websites appear as we see it in our computers because of HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language. With the advancement of technology comes also the advancement of written communication, i.e., text messages, email, etc. Now, we already have the privilege of reading our laws (and jurisprudence) through various websites.

Who knows? Probably in the next century, through their system of information technology, people would be amazed to find out the so-called “computer screen” was rectangular.

(Thirteenth entry)

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137; 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803) –also inspired by our JudRev class under Justice V.V. Mendoza :)
Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia Deluxe
image from : (*not the stone tablet discovered by Leonard Simmons)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dam I.T.

Last Friday, our class in Project Finance under Prof. Jay Layug went on a field trip to the Pantabangan-Masiway hydro-electric power plant in Nueva Ecija. Pantabangan dam was recently in the news since it was one of the last (if not the last) dam/s in Luzon with water levels not yet below critical.

We learned that the dam's primary purpose is to provide a water reservoir for irrigating the rice fields of Nueva Ecija and surrounding areas (considered the rice granary of the Philippines). Its secondary, though not less important, purpose is to provide cheap electricity from hydropower.

The hydro-electric power plant (HEPP) was the reason why we were there since we were then studying project finance in the context of the Philippine power industry. Hydropower is substantially cheaper (at only 80c per kwh) compared to other power plants fueled by natural gas, diesel or coal (at least P4 per kwh). Moreover, it takes only 10 minutes for a hydropower plant to start-up as compared to 12 hours in other types of power plants due to warming up requirements. Hence, hydroplants like the Pantabangan-Masiway play a crucial role during blackouts since they could be the first to supply electricity into the grid. (Think worst case election scenario...)

The Pantabangan HEPP was built in 1977. It has 2 power generators (housed inside the big white building in the picture) each of which has (originally) a capacity of 50 MW. After it was sold by the government to the Lopez-owned First Gen Holdings, upgrading of the plants was begun. As of Dec 2009, one of the generators has been upgraded to 60 MW and its Cold-war era manual controls and gauges were replaced by modern computers. The other would be upgraded next before the end of 2010. Our visit then was made with perfect timing for it gave us a chance to compare the old technology with the new.

The 2 engineers in the control room agreed that the new computerized controls were far more convenient than the old manual controls. They don't have to go up and down the HEPP's floors anymore since everything can be controlled by one person using a single computer (they had two in the control room but I forgot to ask why). I took a glance at the interface and had a layman's impression that the instruments were more varied and provided more details to the operator. Also, it allowed the operator to have a diagram of the dam and HEPP from various angles and sections. The picture that the new I.T. based controls provide speaks a thousand words more than the dials and levers that the old controls had. With more information available to the operator, the upgraded HEPP can be operated more efficiently than the old one (same volume of water, 20% more power generated). It appears that the new I.T. controlled HEPP is trouncing the old in terms of efficiency.

"What happens if the computers crash?" I asked the senior engineer. He gave my question a second of thought and with an awkward smile answered: "Di pa naman nangyayari yun. Saka may two-year warranty naman ang mga 'to."

I guess the jury is still out on reliability. The old technology still works after having been in service for a third of a century. Can the new be relied on to last as long? I'm betting on I.T. But if I ever lose this bet, my only prayer is that the dice never fall on election day.

Source of picture: EDC website:

New Players in the Wireless Internet Sector

The big three telecoms Smart, Globe, and Sun have been investing and promoting heavily their 3G wireless networks. I still remember when wireless Internet was limited to GPRS and the telecoms were charging an arm and a leg for each kilobyte. Nowadays all three telecoms offer unlimited wireless broadband plans although the quality of their service leave much to be desired.

Competition is the only way for consumers to receive better service and over the past few months two more companies have introduced their wireless offerings. It has to be pointed that this actually only means that a lot more profit can still be made from the telecom sector.

The first is BAYANBROADBAND from Bayan Telecommunications. What’s interesting is their “truespeed” guarantee. They are claiming that their customers will get 100% of their subscribed speed. No more UP TO… whatever speed bullshit.

The second is Wi-Tribe from Liberty Telecom (a partnership between San Miguel Corporation and Qatar Telecom). Their current plan appears to be similar to other telecoms. They use wimax technology (which for practical purposes seems to be the same as 3G) and unlike other telecoms seem forthright about their fair usage policy or cap limit. I’ve personally been victimized by Sun’s broadband policies. They claim to give you up to 2 or 3 mbps wherein reality you’re limited 99% of the time to less than 250kbps.

Hopefully, we consumers can expect more from the different service providers as the competition intensifies and not just end up with an oligarchic monopoly.

Mark Lim
11th Entry

Google, now a public utility.

by Hermilia C. Banayat-Nas
(16th entry)

Google Energy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of (roll music) Google. And, according to news Google Energy was granted the right to sell energy, capacity and services.

When Google finally pushes through its [sure] plan of putting up solar panels it does NOT have to deal with energy production limits because of this grant. It could simply state that the surplus power is up for sale to the public.


There is a difference between an energy/power producer and a telecommunications provider, but that is only on the type of services these types of companies provide. In the Philippines, a power producer and a telecommunications provider both enjoy (have the privilege?) being "public utilities." Contrasted to the Google Energy scenario, even before public utilities in the Philippines engaged in providing the kind of technology that Google provides they were already enjoying certificates of public convenience and necessity (CPC/N).

Unlike the Google Energy scenario, where Google was given the opportunity to expand because of its public utility license, public utilities in the Philippines are limited to the services they were allowed to engage in, as stated in their CPC/Ns. And although Google and telecommunications companies do not provide identical services, as Google is a search engine, the commonality between them--of internet-based services--the coming of new technology both gave these companies opportunities to expand.

We know now that the issue facing Philippine telecommunication companies lie on whether or not a service is a value-added. This along with the issue of internal business expansion, limitations to CPC/Ns and private ownership teach us one thing: do not anticipate the unknown.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Shopping and Shipping Online

People went to Dangwa to buy flowers for their loved ones on Valentine’s Day. But for those who don’t like squeezing themselves into a big crowd, the Internet is their bestfriend.

Island Rose has been shipping flowers — more than half a million stems annually — straight to its customers. It also opened Flower Circle to expand its delivery market to Hong Kong. Today, 80% of online flower delivery services in the Philippines are connected to Island Rose. Being the country’s first online retailer to offer delivery services on a national scale, Island Rose has paved the way for many booming local e-commerce retail businesses.

According to a 2006 Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) paper, the country’s e-commerce economy would continue to be in the gloom because of these reasons:
1. local SMEs still lack the capacity and knowledge to adopt and effectively use e-commerce.
2. our e-commerce law is silent as far as domain names, intellectual property rights, and a host of other security issues.
3. there is low telephone density and Internet and PC penetration compared to other countries despite existing infrastructure.
4. there’s an absence of a more comprehensive set of indicators for measuring usage, readiness, and the impact of e-commerce.

However, Philippine e-commerce has been growing rapidly for years due to the increase use of the Internet. Reasons for this include a highly educated middle-class population and a well-developed consumer culture. PayPal’s entry into the country, along with the improved alternative modes of online payments also facilitated online transactions.

The hopeless romantics would argue that buying and sending flowers online diminishes the sweetness and romance involved since it entails less effort. But online shoppers would probably answer that “It’s the thought that counts. And hey, it costs more!” Haha.

- Glaisa PO
(entry no. 15)

I like Boyce

I was looking for Rihanna's official music video for the song Disturbia when I stumbled upon a video with a guy in the preview thumbnail. I clicked on it, and was in awe how the said guy made a pop song work with his guitar and smooth voice.

It turns out he is part of the band Boyce Avenue. I searched the net for a background of the said band. The common content of the articles written about them is that they started out as a YouTube sensation doing renditions of different songs before they signed a record deal for the mainstream. According to a website:

"Boyce Avenue started 9 years ago when three brothers, namely Alejandro, Fabian, and Daniel Manzano graced the stage of Pine View High School back in the year 2000.

[T]hey got together with Fabian and Stephen Hatker (drummer) to formally launch their band under the name that has got millions clicking on their online channels and requesting them to do cover after cover after cover.

Yet, the irresistible ingredient in the band’s long-line of musical skills is their edge in songwriting. Even before news of their success hit the world, they were recognized in competitions and awards from distinguished music organizations."

You should check out one of their videos:

Coincidentally, the said band is in the Philippines, for its tour. It's really interesting how this band became famous by using the YouTube to give itself a jumpstart.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cybercrimes and the Search and Seizure Clause under the Constitution

The list of cybercrimes in the Philippines is increasing. With the enactment of RA 9775, which is based extensively on US laws and jurisprudence on cyber pornography, the issue of legal enforcement raises a constitutional specter: how do you enforce these laws within the context of the search and seizure clause of the 1987 Constitution?

Article III, Section 2 of the Bill of Rights, states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The requirement of particularity under the Constitution is very important. The rationale for this is clearly explained in the 1967 case of Stonehill vs. Diokno (20 SCRA 383). The Supreme Court through Chief Justice Concepcion held that the objective of this provision is the elimination of general warrants, which had been abused by authorities. The consequence therefore for failure to comply with the specificity requirement is provided in Section 3(2) of Article III:

Section 3..
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding (emphasis supplied).

Applied to cybercrimes, consider the following wording in a warrant: Any pornographic material found in the computer shop of X depicting minors engaged in sexual intercourse (in relation to RA 9775). On the surface, it may be argued that the terms of the warrant are sufficiently particular. It may be argued that the wording of the warrant is not the detestable fishing expedition sought to be avoided by the constitutional provision.

In reality however, once the NBI or any law enforcer searches the computer of the suspect, how broad is the scope of the search? Is it limited to the contents of the hard disk? When a computer file contains a list of passwords, will the NBI or law enforcer be allowed to use said passwords to open a suspect’s private account in a porn site?

The problematic part in search warrants is that if there are other illegal items found as an incident of a valid search warrant, there is nothing which precludes the NBI or the law enforcer from adding to the criminal charges against the accused based on the plain view doctrine. If downloaded movies are found in one’s computer, and used in furtherance of selling pirated films, then additional charges may be filed. The question is what is "plain view” in relation to the Internet?

Neither the US nor the Philippine Supreme Court has answers yet in respect of these technological developments. The test of "reasonable expectation of privacy" has been offered as a possible way out of this dilemma. But what is reasonable is still subject to debate. The password listing found in the suspect’s computer may be regarded as reasonably private.

In my view, the search should be limited only to what was alleged in the search warrant. Any other illegal material found as incident to the search should be excluded in as much as they don’t really count as within the “plain view”. Imagine the mischievous consequences if the search and seizure of these other materials will result in additional criminal liability. The search warrant on computers can be used as a political tool to harass activists and other political personalities. Under an imagined violation, the search warrant for their computers can be used to discover items “potentially seditious”, among others.

There is a reason why modes of discovery have limited application in criminal cases. The need for discovery of the State must be tempered with a proper regard for constitutional right to privacy and other equally important constitutional rights of the accused. This is basically the principle of limited government. Against the powers of the State, the Bill of Rights is the only weapon of the citizen.


Entry No. 15

Yikes, no warrants to search P2P.

by Hermilia C. Banayat-Nas
(15th entry)

Snowballing: that is what I think.

Last time, I wrote about the possibility that incriminating shots from Google street view cameras be made admissible in evidence despite being fruits of the proverbial poisonous tree. Now, I write about how at least three US circuit Courts of Appeals ruled on the issue of whether or not search warrants need to be procured to scour P2P files and activities.

Particularly, I would like to blog about the case of the pedophile who was sentenced to imprisonment after federal agents found pictures and videos of child pornography in his computer and in his house. The argument against illegal searches was raised simply because the computer and the house were searched without a search warrant. Magnifying the fact that the accused did not switch Limeware's share feature off, the courts decided in favor of the admissibility of the photographs and videos, saying that the accused "was clearly aware that Limewire was a file-sharing program that would allow the public at large to access files in his shared folder unless he took steps to avoid it."

While the result, of teaching a psychotic pedophile a lesson, is desirable, I think that there should be protocols (up to a certain degree) to ensure that the rights of the accused to a reasonable expectation of privacy over his downloaded files are protected. Pedophilia is just one of hundreds of felonies that the State, with all its resources, can prosecute against a person. Files depicting child pornography is just one out of the million kinds of files that people can download through P2P and store in their hard drives.

Keeping in mind the objective of procuring a search warrant--to eliminate fishing expeditions by law enforcers--I find it hard to agree to the ruling of these appellate courts. Yes, I agree that keeping the share feature on allows the general public to access one's files. However, I do not see how "public" would be made to include investigating or arresting officers. Consenting to share one's files does not equate to consenting (incriminating, actually) to illegal searches.

The right against illegal searches and seizure has evolved and is still changing. The definition of searchable personal space is still limited to the area where an accused could immediately dispose the corpus delicti. Up to this point, there is no need to widen the space where police officers can validly search with or without a valid warrant.

When I wrote "snowballing" I did not mean that the two related news I blogged on are starting a snowball against privacy rights and the rights of the accused. What I referred to is the size of the areas that the legislature need to cover to keep up with the exponential growth of technology. They say technology, I say policy.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Regulating Internet Campaign Ads

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) just recently came out with Resolution 8758 which provided for rules and guidelines governing campaign advertising but its application was specific to mass media (TV, radio and print ads). Missing from this recent Comelec resolution were rules regulating internet ads. Is this a cause for concern? Despite my dislike of being bombarded with ads from candidates, especially those that feature a certain guy in orange, I think the Comelec did well to err on the side of caution when it comes to internet regulation and here are my two reasons:

1. The essence of the internet is the free-flow and exchange of information. To impose a restriction on one aspect of its use (specifically internet campaigning) is to strip it of its very essence not to mention it would also deprive an individual of his personal freedoms. For example: some fans might create their own poster or banner and post it on their own website and should the Comelec choose to impose restrictions on an act such as this, it would unduly deprive a person of certain fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of expression.

2. The internet, otherwise known as Cyberspace, is simply too vast and complex to be monitored effectively. The Comelec is faced with enough troubles of its own already, whether it is with regard to the ballots or the data transmission center or the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machine itself. It should not burden itself anymore with policing the internet and monitor the millions of Filipinos using it, as it is impossible to do so anyway.

Matters such as this - the regulation of the use of the internet for campaign purposes is not a matter that should be decided on a knee-jerk basis with a specific and existing application or technology in mind. The guidelines should be carefully crafted and embodied in a well thought out law that has broader applicability and with long-term policy considerations. I think more focus must also be devoted towards bridging the digital divide and increasing accessibility to everyone. And lastly, I think what the Comelec ought to really look at and address is the campaign spending because this is where perhaps the regulation of the internet for campaign ads could come in.


“The key is not to pour money into protecting information, but to develop a global approach to neutralizing its value. By creating secrets, we have created value, which is pursued by opportunists.”- John M. Brock

This was a reaction to the hacking from Europe and China of the computers of nearly 2,500 U.S. companies and government agencies over the last 18 months. The information accessed by the hackers range from credit card transactions to intellectual property.

Personally, I think the statement is too simplistic. While I agree that everyone should have access to information whenever they need and want to, I don’t think all kinds of information should be out there for the whole world to know. The value of information is not created all the time as information may be valuable in itself. When information is not protected, its integrity may also suffer. It would be so easy for people to make up information and difficult for others to determine which is reliable and true. People still need to feel secure that the information they meant to share with only a few will remain within that circle only. Companies should also be entitled to have their own secrets, otherwise they would be less competitive.

Opportunists will always be around, they just come in different sizes and shapes. We should still not let our guard down.

10th Entry


new discovery: and

by Rowena Ricalde (fourteenth entry)

new tools plague the internet daily. and because of the need that i had to get articles not only from legal journals but also from medical journals as well (since my topic is about newborn screening), i had to find out an easier way to do research.

again, i consulted my boyfriend. he really knows a lot of stuff going on in the internet. so he suggested i go to goodness. i did not do much research during college since we had case studies and feasibility studies for marketing or sales (pre survey monkey era). so we did not have to look for sources like we do for SLR. but now, it is the complete opposite. we need to research to support any issue we want to emphasize in our paper.

thank god for, i can download the pdf files in the search results since they already post the link of the pdf together with the url of the site.

and as the monotony consumed me while typing, i realized i had no music on my netbook. all my music was on my external hard drive or laptop. so, upon consultation with moi, and after failing to livestream with rx93.1 and magic 89.9 on the internet, i went to

if you want to hear the playlists of people with similar artists or songs that you like, simply "follow" that "dj" and hear their music. also, you can pick any music on the playlist of people and choose to "follow" that music. cool! now i can opt not to download and music and just hear people's choice of music.

Technology and Court Procedure

With all the technological advances right now, I wonder if the Supreme Court is starting to consider incorporating any of them in court procedure.

I think the Supreme Court should start simple - like perhaps, reviewing how we file and serve pleadings and other court documents.

It would be nice to have a paperless court system one day, where we all file and serve our pleadings, motions, etc through e-mail instead of registered mail.

Not only will this help save the environment (and space) but it will also allow us to speed up court processes significantly.
Of course, the major setback to this idea is that we have court personnel (and judges) who are technologically-challenged. I think is the most important factor that the Supreme Court will have to address should it decide to "upgrade" court procedure.


Nevertheless, I think the Supreme Court will have to make a "shift" (if you can call it that) sooner or later. I just hope that they do it sooner so we can finally stop blaming the mail for the delay in resolving cases.

All it takes is a first major step, then perhaps we can have a "high-tech court" similar to the one in the picture above one day.

- Aaron Ho (12th Entry)

Evolution devolution revolution.

Papers are works in progress, much like many web sites. That's why businesses shouldn't just pay to have someone develop web sites for them; they should get developers to also maintain these websites. And yes, I said develop. If they want to attract viewers, the site must be interactive. Gone are the days where an online presence consisting of a few HTML pages would suffice. Everything would have to be snazzy... and more importantly, constantly updated.

And like the internet, our SLR paper is ever changing. The one thing constant is the topic... or at least the general topic. Ah, piracy. So much to say about you... but I write in layman's terms. I am not for legal writing.

And maybe we're in over our heads for letting it "evolve" much like the laws on the matter. Oh, piracy. One thing's for sure: this time it's easier done than said.

by Awi Mayuga (eleventh entry)

Modern Day Party Line

I was talking to someone using my celphone the other day. We were having an active conversation (meaning our sentences were almost overlapping) when suddenly the voice I was hearing over the phone became of one who spoke Bisaya. Now the person I was originally talking to did not know how to speak any of the local dialects, only English and Filipino. But suddenly, without warning of any kind, the voice I heard over the phone became that of a Bisaya, speaking rapidly and with a very thick accent. Needless to say, I was totally bewildered. I just kept on saying, “Hello? Hello?” I couldn’t help laughing each time I heard the voice speak because I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. It was a little surreal actually. After a while, the voice realized that the person he had now on the other end of his line couldn’t understand him, so he just said in a very exasperated way, “Ay, ambot sa imo” and ended the connection. When I called by friend back, he said the exact same thing happened to him, only he thought I had just passed the phone to another person with me.

I’ve heard of people (and even had some personal experience with) calling a friend but were surprised that the line connected to another person’s number, such that the phone indicates that the correct number was reached, but the person they were actually talking to was not the person intended. My experience was I called a friend who was in Bicol at that time. My phone indicated that I was calling him, and when the timer started, indicating that I had connected to his phone, an old lady speaking Bicolano answered. I thought originally it was an aunt, picking up his phone for whatever reason. But as it turns out, she was a lady completely unrelated to my friend. What made the story even funnier was when I redialed my friend’s number (and reaching the correct person this time), he told me that my number flashed on his screed, indicating that I was calling, but when he answered, a guy speaking in Bicolano was on the other line. Apparently, the server distributing the data and connecting the lines mixed up the calls, and switched the parties being called.

It was like going back to the days of party lines and wrong numbers, only this time it’s with celphones. I can’t pretend to understand how the technical aspect of the celphone world goes, but it is obvious that the service has been becoming less and less reliable recently, and the technical part of the service, faulty. Is this not part of the issues the regulatory agency should address? Isn’t the service provided by the telecom industry a regulated public service? I know this particular experience is a funny one, and not worth going irate over, but if this isn’t remedied soon, we might just go back to the dark ages of technology as we know it.


not so Smart

SmartBro or SmartBroKEN? That is the question.

One of the reasons why one subscribes to mobile internet connection services is so that one can get connected online anywhere and anytime (just as long as there's mobile phone signal). To my utter dismay, SmartBro is always broken, especially at night - the most convenient time for me to get things done over the Internet.

Better make this message short. SmartBro is ACTING UP again.

by Mona Barro (13th entry)

14th Entry: OLA: Online Legal Aid

In my desperate attempt to finish my SLR with the help of, I stumbled upon this online forum with a long thread of questions and answers about everything concerning Philippine law- the entries ranging from the highly mathematical questions on successional rights to mundane tips on how to survive law school. Most of the answers and legal advice are actually given by lawyers and law students. A few more web-browsing, in fact, would reveal that there are several more Filipino lawyers offering these kinds of online legal services. (I will not post the link here, but it’s pretty easy to look for these websites in Google.)

Free online legal advice is indeed another innovative tool of reaching out and making the law more accessible to ordinary persons. Now, you do not have to tune-in to your favorite AM station and broadcast your legal dilemma for the whole world to know, nor look for offices and agencies offering free legal clinics, and spend precious time and money going there for legal consultation. Technology has made the law readily available to layperson by making legal information just one post or email away.

Unfortunately also, there is a thin line that divides public service and implied legal solicitation. The Court, in Ulep vs. Legal Clinic Inc., has already articulated its firm condemnation of advertisement and solicitation, the reason being that the practice of law is not an ordinary business, but is a noble and exalted profession. Technology may have made the law more accessible, but at the same time it became an additional medium for unscrupulous lawyers to clandestinely advertise and solicit. Given the fact that it is very easy to go anonymous over the web, coupled by the ease in removing or deleting data posted in the Internet, websites offering free legal advice may pose some regulatory problems for the OCA.

Another problem involves verification. Again, given the anonymity involved in Internet transaction, how can a person be sure that the supposed “lawyer” giving him free legal advice is indeed a real lawyer, or perhaps a person who is actually knowledgeable of the law? These are just a few of the issues posed by these online legal services.

Now, if only these online legal aid can also help me with my SLR…

(Source: photo: Photo for aesthetic purposes only. Picture taken from a firm based in the US. The US does not have the same strict rules on advertisement as that in the Philippines)