January 2009

I am never a fan of toilet humor and I’ve always regarded human rights, moreso workers’ rights, as a very serious issue. But the news about the Filipino machine operator who was sacked due to his preferred hygienic practice made me laugh really hard.

Well, this is very similar to the Filipina student in Canada who was castigated for using a spoon for her meals. Her Canadian teachers do not want her to eat the Filipino way while Amador Bernabe, the 43-year old OFW in Australia, is being prohibited to excrete just like how most Pinoys do.

Clearly, this is an invasion of his rights as a person and as a worker. I deem that one of the most private spaces of every person, just like a prayer room (sorry to the religious ones for the comparison), is the bathroom or the toilet cubicle.

Bernabe, in practicing his cultural belief that it is better to use water than toilet paper alone, is not offending anyone nor any other culture as he is doing this privately (unless his managers’ are Peeping Tom’s). Thus it is totally uncalled for for his superiors to demand that he clean his ass the Australian way.

Good thing that the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union is solid behind the OFW. Well, even internationalism and labor solidarity exist inside the toilet.

I am never a real believer of the Supreme Court. I have always seen the “justice” system as a state instrument of either sugar-coated repression or the spectacle of some justice.

I don’t deny though that there are some personalities that could make some institutions work for the people and their rights. I consider the current Chief Justice of the Philippines as one of them.

Despite being appointed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Chief Justice, Reynato Puno continually upheld the rights and welfare of the Filipino people in the context of how the current administration is curtailing it.

Two of the most controversial issues under the Arroyo administration are the spate of extra-judicial killings and involuntary disappearances, and the perpetual attempt to tinker with the Philippine Constitution.

Under Puno’s watch, the Supreme Court of the Philippines stripped state agents of the simplest defense of denial whenever they are being questioned regarding human rights violations through the Writ of Amparo which is very much similar to Latin American countries’ Habeas Data.

Though I maintain that this document is a mere paper, it is still commendable that the SC chose to issue such a promulgation. And even if Philippine Congress has yet to legislate laws against torture and enforced disappearances at the very least, victims of human rights violations are given a legal reference for their defense.

If you think that this Puno initiative made Gloria mad, Puno’s stance on Charter Change will make her a psychotic.

Due to the series of controversies hounding the administration, they have no choice but to hold onto power to hide under the skirt of executive immunity. And the only way to do it is through a charter change of his allies, through a constituent assembly with both houses of Congress lumped as one.

Given that the Upper Chamber, even with Enrile at the helm, is dominated by Arroyo’s political enemies, they have to ensure that the Supreme Court will allow the House of Representatives and the Senate to vote as one. They want to drown the votes of the few senators with the overwhelming number of congressmen, rendering the Senate votes negligible. With Puno at the top, the hope for the Supreme Court to concur to such an idea is less easy.

Though we know that the Supreme Court will be soon dominated by Arroyo’s allies this year after the retirement of a handful of justices, the mere fact that the Chief Justice is against the Constituent Assembly scheme would doom the Gloria Forever Constitution. Such a scenario may induce controversy similar to the Estrada impeachment drama that led to you-know-what.

I chose not to dwell on the Limkaichong case as a lot of people already wrote about it. I chose to write about something that will aid everyone to answer the title of this article.