Life

6 Reasons You Should Or Shouldn’t Go to Lawschool

Should you go to Law School?

It is a question many young college undergraduates start asking themselves during their 3rd or 4th year. If they don’t ask it, some well-meaning relative or friend inevitably will bring it up, especially if their undergrad program is English, Political Science, or *insert any Social Science course here*.

Most of you won’t say 100% NO to the possibility. Chances are you have a relative or family friend that is a lawyer and you see them leading a comfortable existence. You might have never read the 1987 Constitution in full but you have watched Suits and How To Get Away with Murder and those fictional characters look awesome especially when they start using fancy words like mens rea and bad faith.

I don’t claim to be the perfect law student so that is why I’m not writing an article How To Finish Law School. If I knew that, I’d have better law school grades. That is a question left for another person who can recite cases verbatim when called for recitation and can apply codal provisions perfectly during an exam.

I’m writing this because the 2016 Law Aptitude Exam (LAE) applications are drawing near and some of my friends are asking around if should they go to law school. Being the good friend that I am, I want to make sure your eyes are wide open before entering the literal hell that is law school.

You will meet professors so arbitrary and terrifying that upper years will quickly tell you how many people on average they fail. 1/4 of my block either quit or got kicked out during our first year… I wouldn’t judge them because law school is so freaking hard. To give you a point of comparison, it was really easy for me to graduate with honors from a great university, but I’m not even sure if I’ll last in my second year in law school.

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If I can convince just one of you—who isn’t really sure about law school but are just thinking of “trying it” — to think again, this article is worth the read because I just saved you thousands of pesos worth in tuition and hundreds of hours in class time.

REASONS THAT YOU SHOULDN’T USE TO ENTER LAWSCHOOL

1. You need a post-graduate degree.

In this global job market, a college degree isn’t enough. You’ll need a higher degree if you want to get the high paying managerial jobs. While this may be correct to a certain extent, this does not mean law should be your default degree. There are many good masters degrees available, both locally and internationally.

Don’t take law just because you can’t stand the sight of blood or can’t do math. You don’t need to have Atty., Dr., or Engr. attached to your name to have a successful career. Heck, if what you are looking for is money, you’ll make more growing a business. There is a reason why practically all of the richest people in Forbes Magazine are NOT lawyers. If you want to travel, many civil society and government organizations will sponsor your trips to different areas where you will have some time to go around. Sure, law will guarantee you some form of financial security, but there are faster ways to it.

Remember law school is a four-year investment that often costs at least P1 million, considering the tuition, readings, and opportunity costs. That doesn’t include the fact only around 20% of law school graduates actually pass the Bar. A field that allows only one in five people to actually practice their hard-earned skills isn’t the exactly the most stable career path.

2. Your parents pressured/ brainwashed you into going here

This is another common reason for entering law school. You shouldn’t be entering law school to please someone else. Why work so hard to become a lawyer when you don’t want to even become one yourself? The work you do will, on average, take 8 hours a day. Do you really want to spend around one-third of the next 30 years of your life doing something that you don’t feel passionate about?

This doesn’t just apply to law, but to all the degree programs that were forced by parents upon their offspring. I have so many friends who wanted courses like Fine Arts, or Music but were forced by their parents to take Engineering or Architecture because they were more “stable” programs.

Many of these people ended up failing classes and/or shifting out to another program. Some people, after graduating a course they had no love for, will eventually switch to fields they find more interesting. It’s thus better to avoid wasting those years entirely. Also, just because you come from a family of lawyers does not automatically mean that you would make a good one.

3. I like to read fiction books

I’m sure you’ve had one friend on Facebook or on Instagram who posted the amount of readings they have to cover for a subject. Those aren’t exaggerations. If you are one of those people who share news links on Facebook without actually reading the entire original article, that is already a red flag.

If you consider Harry Potter a long read, and can’t finish it in three days, then you shouldn’t even consider law school. Much of the cases you will read in law school will be long and boring, not the best combination. There are some gems like Chi Ming Tsoi that will stick to you but chances are, there are some subjects that you will find boring. My classmates find Constitutional cases boring but I find them interesting. On the other hand, I found reading Procedural law cases to be boring, which they in turn found interesting.

REASONS THAT MAY GET YOU THROUGH LAW SCHOOL

1. Law has always been my childhood dream

If you want it this much, this might be enough to get you through all the all-nighters, all the hour long recitations, all the handwritten digests, all the long exams that will make your hand bleed. However its important you want it not for the glamor because law can be very mundane – writing, reading, and articulating. If you can enjoy doing those three things routinely, then enjoy it you will because you will certainly do a LOT of it.

This is the reason that will keep you in law school when you have a BAD recitation that makes you reconsider your life path. I guarantee you – no matter how good you are, no matter how hard you study, you will have BAD recitations that will stick with you the rest of your law school life.

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2. Law is my means to defend my advocacy whether it is the poor, the environment, indigenous people, the environment, and every other marginalized group.

This may be the biggest heartbreak for you but the law is not always right. What is legal is not always moral and what is moral is not always legal.

The law can and has been a tool for oppression. Slavery was legal, Apartheid was legal, even Martial Law allowed tens of thousands of Filipinos to be tortured and murdered.

To paraphrase a UP Law professor, you will be studying at the College of Law and not the College of Justice. You will realize that the law is not always fair and that the Supreme Court can get some decisions wrong. You will realize that many of the most brilliant lawyers are also the ones who break the law the most. An example would be, Ferdinand Marcos a UP Law graduate who robbed Filipinos of tens of billions of pesos.

However, if you are still dead-set on fighting for your advocacies after realizing this, then you still have hope. While many law students are sadly apathetic about social issues, knowledge of the law is really a useful tool for the young activist. You can fight the good fight with the law. After all, if you want to change the rules of the system, you better know the rules of the system.

3. You want to learn

If there is one truly great thing about law school, you will learn a lot. Like an upperclassman once told me, law school will break you down and build you back up. You will become more careful with your words. You will do more research. You will listen to both sides of the argument. You will be quicker to spot logical fallacies. You will think in a totally different manner, and it will be glorious.

You will realize how much law is all around you. Love? Governed by Persons and Family Relations. Wrong? Governed by Criminal Law. Promises? Governed by Obligations and Contracts. And so on.

If some college professors are so-so, law professors are often brilliant. Some will go on to be Supreme Court Justices, others heads of various government offices. They know what they’re talking about.

It doesn’t hurt that the Socratic Method forces you to study on your own because at any moment you can be called to answer a question. It’s terrifyingly effective but it will make you miss undergraduate courses where you can volunteer to answer questions. Here, everyone has to come to class prepared and that makes you learn a lot in one semester.

At the end of the day, law school isn’t something you should do on a whim. It isn’t a case of I’ll take the exam and if I pass, “sayang naman” if I don’t push through. Evaluate the decision based on its pros and cons. Because while many really enjoy the study of law, many more just wasted their time and money on it.

Just because you CAN do it, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.

So make sure before going to lawschool, make sure you do it for the right reasons.

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Life

My Top 10 Moments of 2014: #9 Passed the LAE

Unlike many people, being a lawyer wasn’t always a life-long dream. As late as second year college, I had thought to myself there were already too many lawyers in the Philippines. It was in the course of my stay in UP that I learned though the value of knowing the law.

For one, whenever there is a debate on social issues which is almost everyday in the University of the Philippines, people will often argue the Constitution is on their side. Either they claim the policy is wrong because it is unconstitutional or it is right because it is enshrined in the constitution. They conveniently ignore that often times the constitution is silent or not definitive on many matters. It becomes absurd when many of these people haven’t even read the entire Constitution. Under the same principle, if you say you believe in the Bible, I advise you to read through it in the entirety. It has always bothered me when people say they agree with something they haven’t actually read in full.

What’s worse is when people put something in the Constitution that isn’t there. I’ll never forget a very prominent University Student Council personality before who claimed that college education should be free based on the Constitution. She was actually ‘educating’ people on this ‘fact’ and citing the vaguest constitutional provision that had nothing to do with. (Hint: There is no actual constitutional provision saying we have the right to free college education. Such right is only limited to grade school and high school education.) I can agree with you that college education should ideally be free but please NEVER EVER twist the Constitution to suit your own advocacies. We may be pursuing the right ends but we should also use the right means.

Other examples are smoking. I remember how very few people know that it is illegal to smoke in public places like universities because these are centers of youth activity. Yes that should include the University of the Philippines. Smoking areas should not be allowed because the entire campus is mandated by law to prohibit smoking. Same goes for jeepney drivers and other public utility vehicles (PUVs). They are not allowed to smoke inside their vehicles. The Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 is only a google search away but few people ever look up our own national laws. Remember if you are caught violating a law, not knowing it is not an excuse. Ignorantia legis non excusat. Ignorance of the law excuses no one.

I believe in the rule of law. I’ve noticed in the Philippines, we lack discipline. Traffic lights are mere suggestions, pedestrians often cross anywhere but the pedestrian lanes, corruption is endemic, shortcuts are proudly considered as ‘diskarte’, and we too easily forgive and forget. Only in the Philippines would we even consider burying a dictator who has plundered billions of pesos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. I strongly believe we should implement the law and punish wrong doers. Dura lex sed lex. The law is harsh but it is the law.

I knew having these opinions about law would not nearly be as credible if I wasn’t a lawyer so I decided to take it up. My training as a public administration student made me realize the importance of institutions and law is one of the building blocks of those institutions.

Still, I knew 4 years of law would be incredibly hard and punishing so I knew I had to be studying at my dream school if I wanted to stay motivated. That was UP Law. I didn’t apply for any other lawschool. My backup was a Masters Degree in Economics if I failed the LAE (Law Aptitude Exam) the first time. I was prepared to wait and retake the LAE how many times till I passed. Right before I heard the news, I was already fixing my application for Masters Economics. Economics is a very interesting field and one that really needs to be prioritized in a third world country like the Philippines where development is sorely needed. It’s something I want to pursue after my law degree.

I took the exam in the morning. I’m still glad I was able to take the test. On the deadline of applications I was so sleepy because I had pulled an all-nighter for student council that on the jeep ride after my class, I had left my envelope with ALL my LAE documents on the seat. It was 1 PM and the deadline was 5 PM. Good thing I did not freak out or give up. I immediately moved all over campus, getting my 1 x 1 pictures, my transcript, stamps, and thanks to some quick talking, I was able to make up the 5 pm deadline.

In truth, the LAE wasn’t particularly hard. It’s a slightly harder version of the UPCAT and in my opinion, something you cannot really review for. Those review centers are quite expensive and mostly are just for confidence building.  The hard part about the LAE is that you are competing among many thousands of applicants so even if the test itself is easy, you have to score in the highest percentile to get a slot. During my own exam, I was able to finish with 30 minutes to spare during the English part but I guessed half my answers in the abstract reasoning portion. To this day, I am really bad at my spatial intelligence.

I found out I had passed in Mushroom Burger of all places when I spoke on leadership for IGNITE-NCPAG. I made sure to record how I felt so that I would never forget.

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Everyone was so happy for me.

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Ignore the hearts. This is the most platonic relationship ever. They were just proud we were the two orgmates who passed. (C/o Olan Junio)

I had gotten into lawschool. Little did I know that getting in was the easy part. Surviving is a whole different story.

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Life

My Top 10 Moments of 2014: #10 Finished Term as NCPAG Chairperson

2014 was the most important year of my young life. I’ve been lucky to receive so many blessings in a span of 12 months (getting into UP Law, being elected to the University Student Council, falling in love) and out of appreciation and a desire to record this while it is fresh, I’ve decided to come up with a list of my top 10 moments in 2014. This is a list of chronological order and does not mean that for example #5 was more important to me than #8.

Top 10 Things About 2014

  1. Finished Term as NCPAG Chairperson

When I was a freshman, I told myself I was going to be NCPAG Student Council Chairperson. Looking back, I must have sounded a bit crazy because I was never student council in high school. The closest I ever got to a leadership position was when I was treasurer back in grade 4. I was very much an introvert who preferred to spend his time reading, doing taekwondo, or playing DOTA but when I got into college, I decided that I want to be a politician and I believed that student council would give me important leadership experience.

It was something I set out for myself and people sensed it. I’ve never thought it was a bad thing to tell people your dreams and to go after them so I did. Ambition is only bad if it isn’t coupled with Hard Work and Integrity. I was also motivated by the fact that during my very first year in the college, the only student council officer I knew in a 15 man body was the student council president and only by face. I promised myself that one day, I would lead a student council that students would actually feel. It’s the reason why I say hi to EVERY student I see because I always want students to know they can approach me if they have a concern. It doesn’t matter if we’re not close because I know I shouldn’t wait for the students to approach me, I have to be the one to approach them. Hence the development of my ‘kapal ng mukha.’

I wanted to lead the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) and I, a 1st year student, had the gall to say just that to the two members of the ruling political party at the time Practice of Administrative Leadership and Service (PALS-NCPAG) when they oriented me in the NCPAG Discussion Room. I would find out later that one of them, who would go on to become USC Vice Chairperson and who I would support for Student Regent, would post in the PALS facebook group that he just oriented the 2013 – 2014 NCPAG SC Chairperson.

Years later, that prophecy would come to fruition, though interestingly I would be doing it as the standard bearer of another party, the Initiative of Genuine Involvement, Transparency, and Empowerment (IGNITE-NCPAG). To write the full story of this would take something closer to a novella but suffice it to say, it was a momentous year for NCPAG student politics. Now imagine the type of controversy this would create in a very small circle. This wasn’t a case of a candidate who was wooed by another party, I was the one who recruited all its members, who gave it its nationalist, reformist, and progressive orientation, and was now its chief candidate.

It was a very different political climate then, PALS has consistently been at the top of college for 21 years and there was no organized opposition. While students now are used to IGNITE majority councils, we were the clear underdogs before. The year before we came, only 1 person ran as an independent. Now independents are the majority.

Let it make it clear though. I have no problem with PALS. I have a lot of friends among them. In fact, it was funny that when I ran for USC, there were more PALS in my campaign team than IGNITE members. I really don’t believe student politics should be inherently adversarial – IGNITE and PALS are just about producing competent leaders so that the students can choose for themselves who they want to lead the student body.

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The most awesome 22nd NCPAG Student Council sans Hannah Vargas who would prove to be a very hardworking internal affairs administrator in our student council.

So when I was elected back in March 2013, I promised that I would make the best out of this opportunity. I promised I would be the best goddamn chairperson I could be. Whether you ran under PALS or IGNITE, I wanted us to put SC first. We’d be neutral, we wouldn’t wear our organization shirts, share any org publicity materials, anything. We wanted people to see us as NCPAG SC, not as IGNITE SC or PALS SC. I swore to myself that I would never let anyone feel like they were treated differently because of their affiliation. I was really touched when my Vice Chairperson and good friend Naumie Villarina would tell me after our term that she never felt we came from different political parties. Unlike some other colleges, we believe service can exist best without politics. We’re taught in our very first class PA 11 about the politics – administration dichotomy and how we shouldn’t let one affect the other.

I did my best to be kind to everyone. In this, I was influenced by the chairperson before me, Chess Carlos. She was one of the nicest people I have ever met and the perfect example of a small girl less than 5 feet tall with a big heart. She always called herself my godmother and I appreciated it; what struck me the most about Chess was even though if she was the chairperson, she’d not be afraid to be seen doing the most menial of tasks like sweeping the floors. To this day, I am proud she graduated with honors and now works for Teach for the Philippines.

On my experience proper as NCPAG Chairperson, I could proudly say it was the most wonderful experience of my college life and I will always look back at it with pride. We weren’t the perfect council and there were definitely stressful moments like the issue of the Graduate Tuition Fee Increment (GTFI) and the resignation of our original Internal Affairs Administrator but I’m proud to say we did something with our term. We changed our Student Government Constitution, we restarted the NCPAG Newspaper Umalohokan which is under the very able leadership of their Editor-In-Chief John Robert Espanola and just recently released their first hardcopy, and we were able to host the very first Philippine Good Governance Summit (PGGS) which is the brainchild of Gino Castillo Chan and the rest of the very talented core team (Kim, Mikhail, Reyselle, Ariesa, Kat, Jupa). Most of all, I’m proud that students were a lot more involved as we expanded the use of organizing committees composed of regular students for almost all student government activities. I’ll always think fondly of my councilmates Naumie, Gino, Mimi Chi, Jizen, Hannah, Lui, Ariesa, Kat, Eldon, and Joemier and our late night meetings ordering Chowking and arguing about who will take the student council minutes.

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Some regular students made this. It isn’t true but flattery always works on me and saying “Raymond best chairperson evah” was a sweet gesture.

It really is an honor serving your fellow students and being able to represent them. It was doubly empowering being able to represent the college in front of other courses because I’ve always been proud of the fact that I’m a Public Administration student, whenever students from other courses would say that students should attend Educational Discussions (EDs) to know more about social issues, I would always smile to myself because what they do tackle in their extra-curriculars, we study in class.

The lesson I learned most was to love all your constituents. I am proud to say that I love everyone in NCPAG whether you’re from STPA, CIRCA, PAGDU, PALS, IGNITE, unaffiliated, student, faculty, or employee. It’s why I still visit NCPAG from time to time #clingy and why I’m very proud of the current student council for carrying the theme We Are NCPAG. I’m glad to see the future public servants of this country are being empowered about their role in nation building. I believe it takes a lot of guts to serve in government; you’re under appreciated and underpaid yet IF you do your job well, you can make a meaningful difference in a lot of peoples lives.

All good things come to an end though. I would end my term on the last day of the Philippine Good Governance Summit, February 3 at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Ortigas Center because the current NCPAG Constitution requires you to resign when you run for re-election.

I had filed my candidacy for University Student Council. That however is a story for another day.

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Life

Letter To My Younger Self

Dear 14-year-old Raymond,

This is from future you. I don’t know if you will believe me, but whether this letter is really from the 21-year-old you or from some random crazy person, it won’t affect the soundness of the advice I’m about to give you.

Right now, you’re just about to enter high school. You’re a chubby pimply introverted kid who just graduated from Ragnarok Online and is now moving on to DOTA. While you still think girls are ‘gross’, hormones are now starting to make you think they are more bearable than before. You’ll never admit it though and you still quickly change the topic whenever someone asks you who your crush is.

First, I advise you to exercise. The abs you make today will save you from the flabs that threaten you tomorrow. You’re around 5’6” and 170 pounds now and the scale won’t get any nicer in the near-future.

Better yet, start with taekwondo now. You’ll be a black belt by the time you graduate instead of the high red belt that will always make you think “so close and what if”. You’ll learn to love this sport and your team. You will experience a lot of firsts here: the first time you get kicked in the head, the first time you fall on the floor from pure exhaustion, the first time a grade-schooler beats you in sparring, the first time you get struck so hard you want to cry, and the first time you win a medal. It will be the first time you will have a sure sense of your self-worth, of your passion, and of your purpose.

And your purpose in life will be something you will grapple with for the rest of your high school life. You’ll grapple with your faith, and your role in society. Be glad that you grapple and that you overthink these things because one day, you’ll get into a school that built itself on these types of discussions. You’ll be proud you argued with that classmate in Philosophy who had the arrogance to say poor people are poor because they are lazy. You’ll be happy that you memorized the preamble of our Constitution in senior year especially when you’re in law school. Never conform because no one ever stood out by staying with the herd.

Start paying attention in Filipino class. You’re surrounded by English speakers, but outside this gated subdivision, you will learn that those people do not represent society. For sure, no one uses “nakakapagpabagabag” in real life but being fluent in two languages will really come in handy when you run for politics one day. That if you really want to help others, you must first learn to communicate with them properly.

While you’re at it, learn how to play a musical instrument. Most of the guys do it impress the girls, but this will come in handy whenever someone asks you “what’s your talent?” Unfortunately, kicking things is not a skill that you can easily display at parties or at organizational application processes.

Don’t freak out that you don’t know exactly what topic to talk about with girls. Though your knowledge of Pride and Prejudice and Nicholas Sparks novels will come in handy, any topic will be fine with them. Just be confident and listen to them. Most likely, they’ll do the talking for you and while you’ll often swear that “women will kill me one day”, you’ll actually find them easier to talk to than guys.

Cherish sleep. You won’t be getting anywhere close to the amount of sleep that you get now when you get to college. Spend the time you’re awake on books. You’re already a bookworm but take it one step further: be a book addict. Devour knowledge like it’s that plate of spaghetti that you love way too much. You won’t become the smartest person in the room, but you’ll be smart enough.

Smart enough will get you places. Smart enough will open doors. People will always tell you that you’re smart but you need to fulfill your potential. While that sounds eerily close to a compliment, it’s not. The world is full of underachievers, and I know that you don’t want to be just another guy dealt a great hand in life but didn’t make the most out of it.

Maybe that’s all I really want to tell you.

Make the most out of your high school life.

Sincerely,

Someone who wants the best for you.

 

 

*This is inspired by one of my favorite songs, “Letter To Me” by Brad Paisley and from someone who was too lazy to write about this topic on his blog in the first place.

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Life

Why The Supreme Court Was Right About DAP

Why the Supreme Court Was Right About DAP

On 14 July 2014, President Aquino challenged the Supreme Court on national TV to reconsider one of its most significant rulings of recent memory. To add to the drama, news reports have surfaced, stating that the Supreme Court is supposedly guilty of requesting for cross-border transfers, the very evil they ruled to be unconstitutional. The Filipino people are watching whether or not the Judiciary will change their decision to defer to the will of the Executive.

The decision in question is the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which was declared partially unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) last July 1. The qualifier “partially” is important because the judiciary respected DAP as a concept, that of a program that realigns savings into augmenting projects that stimulate the economy. The SC itself said in its ruling that it is “beyond debate that the implementation of the DAP yielded undeniably positive results that benefited the economic welfare of the country.”[1]  The Court cited the World Bank report acknowledging that DAP was responsible for 1.3% GDP growth in 2011.

However, ultimately, the DAP is a legal question (constitutionality), not a policy question (benefits).The Supreme Court resolved these legal questions definitively – its answers led to certain features of DAP being declared as unconstitutional.

  • What is the definition of “savings”?
  • What does “augment” mean?
  • What projects can the government augment?

I. What is the definition of “savings”?

The petitioners asserted “savings” as what is left over after a project’s completion or abandonment.[2] To make it simple: if Congress appropriates P100,000 for buying chairs and P80,000 was the actual cost spent for the chairs, P20,000 would be “savings”.

The Executive branch argued for an expanded definition wherein “slow-moving” projects could also be construed as “savings”. Say Congress appropriated P100,000 for a project involving buying tables. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only released allotments totaling P20,000 to the agency in charge of buying tables because the project was “slow-moving.” The P80,000 difference, now called “unreleased appropriations”, would also count as savings which could be rechanneled by DAP to other projects. “Savings” would be the difference in amount between appropriations and allotments.

This is an important battle over definitions because appropriations through the General Appropriations Act (GAA) are controlled by Congress (Legislative) while allotments are controlled by DBM (Executive). The Executive definition would result in a much larger amount of savings. The SC sided with the petitioners’ definition, reminding the public that it is Congress who wields the power of the purse. The SC said “For us to consider unreleased appropriations as savings, unless these met the statutory definition of savings, would seriously undercut the congressional power of the purse…”[3]

II. What does “augment” mean?

Merriam-Webster defines augment as to “increase the size or the amount of (something).” You cannot augment something that does not exist. If P50,000 were appropriated for rice research, P10,000 worth of savings from other projects can be used to augment it. However, the government cannot use that P10,000 to fund  projects for which funds were not yet appropriated by Congress through the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) or (in rare cases), special appropriations acts. For example, if potato research does not appear as an item under the GAA, then P10,000 worth of savings cannot be assigned to it.

Some new projects funded through DAP, such as a P300 million peso laboratory, were not part of the list of projects in the GAA. This means it was the Executive, not Congress, who was choosing what projects were to be funded. [4]

III. What projects can the government augment?

No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. – Section 25(5), Article VI, 1987 Constitution

The provision of the Constitution stated above is clear. The head of a particular branch can only transfer savings to appropriations within his respective office. That means the President can only re-align savings from one executive department like Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to another like the Department of Education. He cannot realign from DAR to Congress or from DAR to the Judiciary.

However, DBM Secretary Butch Abad acknowledged that at least nine percent (9%) of the DAP went to the Legislative Branch. He argued under a new doctrine that he was giving aid, not augmentation to Congress. Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court refused to accept his reasoning.

What do these answers tell us?

Even the President has limits to his powers.

For sure, President Aquino can still keep the DAP, if he sticks within the traditional definition of savings, if he only realigns that savings within his own branch, and if he channels those funds to projects that are in the original GAA. He can still fund projects that he believes will stimulate the economy by asking for supplemental budgets from Congress, which his allies control.

Two dangerous precedents would be set if the Supreme Court changes its mind and accepts the Solicitor General’s definition, One, that a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court can be changed so easily; and two, that creative accounting can allow cross-border transfers.

For the good of the country, President Aquino has to accept three things:

(1) that he is not infallible;

(2) that a strong judiciary would be good for the country; and

(3) that just because the Executive branch can apply political pressure doesn’t mean it should.

This is all dangerous gamble and for what? To be able to realign the budget for the last two years of his term? It would have made more sense if DAP was questioned at the start of his term but he already got his way with using it for two-thirds of his stay in office. There is no use wasting so much political capital here when he should be focusing on securing his legacy. Programs like job creation, and legislative bills like that on Freedom of Information still need attention. Aquino might mean to use the savings well, but what about future presidents with less than benevolent intentions?

Butch Abad already said it best. DAP has “already served its purpose.”

Aquino should let the DAP die its natural death.

 

See the link to the full decision itself.

 

[1] Page 90 of DAP Ruling.

[2]  Page 67 of DAP Ruling.

[3]  Page 60 of DAP Ruling.

[4] Page 70 of DAP Ruling.

 

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Life

My Day In Payatas

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had assembled a group of volunteers to go to Payatas near Commonwealth as there was an established organization run by my friend Carla which hosted tutorials for grade school kids. This was my first time to go to this area of Quezon City yet as soon as we entered area, we actually encountered the smell that you would expect from an area famous for being the Philippines largest dumpsite.

At long last though, we arrived at the multi-purpose hall.  It was a neat building, more open air than anything and I could see some of the kids already sprawled around. For sure, this was uncharted territory for me. While I’ve been to plenty of outreaches, heck we organized one in Novaliches last December in the NCPAG Student Council, those were outreaches meant to bring joy. Namely play with the kids and feed them some snacks. This outreach was different – I was actually responsible for teaching another human being legitimate skills and I didn’t want to teach them wrong.

Since this was still an orientation and not yet full-on tutorials, we conducted diagnostic tests on the kids. The curriculum for this ‘semester’ was English and while a show of hands showed many considered this to be their favorite subject, the initial results revealed that there was still a lot for them to learn. I was assigned to a table of grade 5 to 7 kids. I’ll never forget the two kids I ended up teaching there – Carl and Maria.

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Us with some of the kids at Tulong sa Kapwa Kapatid.

When it comes to kids, lectures are really one of the least effective ways for them to learn. I knew I had to learn how to relate to them and teach them using experiences they could relate to. For example, one item was about picking which is the interrogative sentence. Instead of explaining to them what the word interrogation means which would have been extremely difficult, I told them interrogative sentences were ‘tanong.’ I gave them an example by asking, “Pogi ba ako?” They got the lesson immediately.

Another was teaching them the difference between singular verbs and plural verbs. For example, Carl had a difficult time telling whether it was Carl eats or Carl eat. I told him when you’re just one, the verb has an s. When you’re more than one, it has no s. I asked him who his crush was then told him Carl and Joann eat. He understood and continued to listen intently. This continued on even up to the truly difficult parts like what a simile or metaphor was.

I was really touched though when my friend Carla started calling the kids to play games, and Maria refused to go, telling me she wanted to finish the lesson. She was a very shy girl, obviously older than your typical grade 5 student yet still so eager to learn. Carl was the opposite. He was small but friendly and he actually put his arm around me one time during lunch. It was tiring alternating just between these 2 kids since I wanted to give them proper attention. I now have more respect for teachers who often have to deal with classroom sizes of at least 40 up to 100 yet still manage to teach something.

The kids here were bright, maybe under the right education, they could have even been smarter than me. They just need the opportunity to be developed. It’s clear we need more teachers, better classrooms, and updated teaching methods.

If education should be prioritized, primary education should be prioritized above all. The fundamentals – language, reading, math, science – that they learn here they will carry with them for the rest of their life.

If there is one thing worth investing in, it’s our children.

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Life

My 10 New Year Resolutions for 2014

 

2013 was really truly one of the most memorable years of my life. I learned so much and was able to experience so many wonderful things. I was able to endure a very interesting campaign season, finish my thesis with my groupmates, undergo my first on-the-job training and experience the honor of leading our college’s student government.

But time passes and 2013 is making its way for a hopefully even better 2014. In line with that, I believe people should always try to improve themselves every year if they want to see better results.

I’ll start off 2014 by listing some resolutions that I fully intend to keep and I’ve made it public so that people can hold me accountable to what I say. Note that some of these aren’t the typical resolutions, some are more bucket list type items that I’ve resolved to do in 2014.

Blog At Least Once A Month

This is one of the simplest changes I intend to make but something I haven’t always been able to keep. Some months, I do 2 or 3 articles. Others none at all. I know we all get busy but if something is important to you, you make time for it. Anyway, what’s two hours every month spent writing when I spend more time doing less productive things like facebook. On the off chance that this is my only chance to write, this counts for January. Cheating I know!

Organize My Files Once A Month

I’ve never been a very organized person and I know that but ever since I got into position, I realize the importance of having documents and files easily accessible. I’m still trying to make strides in this department (and I know I have a long way to go) but this is one concrete thing I will do. Every month, I will assort all my files so both my computer and my clearbook will not be so unnecessarily cluttered.

Stay on Pedestrian Lanes

I’ve always thought we should respect the rules and follow the law, so I realize it may be hypocritical for me to say that when sometimes, I subconsciously do not follow the pedestrian lane. This is especially bad since I’m in a university where pedestrian lanes are more of a suggestion. This is something I really will change in 2014.

Get Back to 150 Pounds

I really gained weight ever since I assumed office. Part of it is stress, part of it is the YOLO philosophy I’ve adopted ever since I entered fourth year and realized this is the last year I’ll be in college, but it’s time I get back to being reasonably fit. It’s a sign of discipline and I know I’ll need a healthy body if I’ll be able to deal with the inevitable stress that future work demands. Plus of course this ties in with my life goal of having abs by 23.

Learn How To Cook

I’ve been learning how to cook dishes from my brother and it’s fun doing all the general stuff but it’s time for me to take the next step and learn to cook by myself. So this year, I’ll spend even more time in the kitchen. Cooking is fun and I know it’s an investment in the future so I won’t have to rely on instant noodles and take out.

Speak Bisaya

I’ve never been to Cebu where my dad is from but I’ve always found it fascinating how people from the Visayas can instantly connect with each other when they find out that they both speak Bisaya. My dad taught me the general words and I have rudimentary understanding but if I intend to be fluent in it, I have to incorporate it into my everyday conversation. It’s something I know will be very useful when dealing with people.

Be More Assertive In Facebook Chat

Strange thing about me, I love approaching people in real life. I love initiating conversations and starting a new topic but when it comes to facebook chat, I’m rarely the one who starts chatting up a conversation. It’s one of my weirdest hang-ups. Whether it’s a crush or a close friend that I should catch up with, normally I don’t initiate unless I need something. This is something that definitely has to change.

Get My Drivers License

We’ve had a car available to me for the longest time but ever since I declared that no way I would pay for a fixer in the LTO, I haven’t had enough of a break to properly prepare for the driver’s exam. I really should get my license this summer. I’m already graduating college and sometimes like it or not, having a car is more convenient for certain occasions. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy commuting regularly and it’s more economical than taking a car everyday to school but when it comes to going to hard-to-reach places, a car is a life saver.

Watch a Concert

I have a secret. I’ve never been able to watch a real life concert unless you count UP Fair. Whether it’s the Script, Jason Mraz or Mayday Parade, I’ve never been able to save up or have a significant enough reason to go to one. It’s one of the things a lot of college students I think take for granted.

Do Something Irresponsible and Childish

This is my tenth and final resolution and something I’m sure that you won’t find on most lists. It’s to do something irresponsible and childish. I’ve always been the good boy in college but I know this is probably the last time I can do something stupid and be able to blame it on youth. Once I’m no longer an undergraduate, any of my acts will be that of a fully functioning adult. I know I shouldn’t actively look for something irresponsible and childish but if there is a time for me to try things, now is the most acceptable time.

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