Pass the Freedom of Information Act Through People's Initiative

Ok – our legislators did it again. The absentee congressmen ( aka.. absinot – ab-seee-nooot) dropped the ball on the Freedom Of Information Act. We can go through the cycle of point and blame – which I already did (shame on – that was too easy. Enough of getting angry – and.. whining. Given the state of technology today, I say – if the lawmakers will not do their job – we, the citizens – can, and will. The citizens will render the lawmakers obsolete by crafting legislation via digital crowdsourcing technologies. I am talking of genuine people power – managed to deliver results via institutional mechanisms provided in the Philippine Constitution and the accompanying enabling law – RA 6735 – or the Initiative and Referendum Act.

Now,  People’s Initiative has  gotten lots of bad press because – well, its proponents haven’t been exactly the people. You know,  just like a party list supposedly from the marginalized sectors represented by millionaires.

The other issue is probably that previous initiatives panned out – how can an initiative on the FOIA be different. Here’s why – the previous initiatives were initiatives to amend the constitution.  RA 6735 does not provide the mechanisms for amending the Constitution – BUT other than that – RA 6735  has mechanisms for crafting legislation at all layers of governance – from barangay to national levels.

Our legislators dropped the ball on FOIA. Instead of whining and bitching about how lazy our congressmen are and how idiotic the electorate is (they still are by the way), I say – let’s pick up this ball called FOIA and run away with it.

The Enabling Framework

If the lawmakers will not pass the FOIA – I propose that the FOIA be passed via people’s initiatives as provided under based on Republic Act No. 6735 . Let’s look at the details of the enabling  law:



I – General Provisions

Section 1. Title. — This Act shall be known as “The Initiative and Referendum Act.”chan robles virtual law library

Sec. 2. Statement of Policy. — The power of the people under a system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed.

Sec. 3. Definition of Terms. — For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall mean:

(a) “Initiative” is the power of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution or to propose and enact legislations through an election called for the purpose.
There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:

a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the Constitution;
a.2. Initiative on statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation; and
a.3. Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance.

(b) “Indirect initiative” is exercise of initiative by the people through a proposition sent to Congress or the local legislative body for action.
(c) “Referendum” is the power of the electorate to approve or reject a legislation through an election called for the purpose. It may be of two classes, namely:

c.1. Referendum on statutes which refers to a petition to approve or reject an act or law, or part thereof, passed by Congress; and
c.2. Referendum on local law which refers to a petition to approve or reject a law, resolution or ordinance enacted by regional assemblies and local legislative bodies. chan robles virtual law library

(d) “Proposition” is the measure proposed by the voters.
(e) “Plebiscite” is the electoral process by which an initiative on the Constitution is approved or rejected by the people.

(f) “Petition” is the written instrument containing the proposition and the required number of signatories. It shall be in a form to be determined by and submitted to the Commission on Elections, hereinafter referred to as the Commission.

(g) “Local government units” refers to provinces , cities, municipalities and barangays.

(h) “Local legislative bodies” refers to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, Sangguniang Bayan, and Sangguniang Nayon. chan robles virtual law library

(i) “Local executives” refers to the Provincial Governors, City or Municipal Mayors and Punong Barangay, as the case may be.

Sec. 4. Who may exercise. — The power of initiative and referendum may be exercised by all registered voters of the country, autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.
Sec. 5. Requirements. — (a) To exercise the power of initiative or referendum, at least ten per centum (10%) of the total number of the registered voters, of which every legislative district is represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters thereof, shall sign a petition for the purpose and register the same with the Commission.

(b) A petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of registered voters as signatories, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein. Initiative on the Constitution may be exercised only after five (5) years from the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five (5) years thereafter.

(c) The petition shall state the following:

c.1. contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be;

c.2. the proposition;

c.3. the reason or reasons therefor;

c.4. that it is not one of the exceptions provided herein; chan robles virtual law library

c.5. signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and

c.6. an abstract or summary in not more than one hundred (100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition.

(d) A referendum or initiative affecting a law, resolution or ordinance passed by the legislative assembly of an autonomous region, province or city is deemed validly initiated if the petition thereof is signed by at least ten per centum (10%) of the registered voters in the province or city, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein; Provided, however, That if the province or city is composed only of one (1) legislative district, then at least each municipality in a province or each barangay in a city should be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein.

(e) A referendum of initiative on an ordinance passed in a municipality shall be deemed validly initiated if the petition therefor is signed by at least tenper centum (10%) of the registered voters in the municipality, of which every barangay is represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein.

(f) A referendum or initiative on a barangay resolution or ordinance is deemed validly initiated if signed by at least ten per centum (10%) of the registered voters in said barangay.

Sec. 6. Special Registration. — The Commission on Election shall set a special registration day at least three (3) weeks before a scheduled initiative or referendum.

Sec. 7. Verification of Signatures. — The Election Registrar shall verify the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters’ affidavits and voters identification cards used in the immediately preceding election. chan robles virtual law library

II – National Initiative and Referendum

Sec. 8. Conduct and Date of Initiative or Referendum. — The Commission shall call and supervise the conduct of initiative or referendum. chan robles virtual law library

Within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the petition, the Commission shall, upon determining the sufficiency of the petition, publish the same in Filipino and English at least twice in newspapers of general and local circulation and set the date of the initiative or referendum which shall not be earlier than forty-five (45) days but not later than ninety (90) days from the determination by the Commission of the sufficiency of the petition.

Sec. 9. Effectivity of Initiative or Referendum Proposition. — (a) The Proposition of the enactment, approval, amendment or rejection of a national law shall be submitted to and approved by a majority of the votes cast by all the registered voters of the Philippines.

If, as certified to by the Commission, the proposition is approved by a majority of the votes cast, the national law proposed for enactment, approval, or amendment shall become effective fifteen (15) days following completion of its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. If, as certified by the Commission, the proposition to reject a national law is approved by a majority of the votes cast, the said national law shall be deemed repealed and the repeal shall become effective fifteen (15) days following the completion of publication of the proposition and the certification by the Commission in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. chan robles virtual law library

However, if the majority vote is not obtained, the national law sought to be rejected or amended shall remain in full force and effect.

(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite.

(c) A national or local initiative proposition approved by majority of the votes cast in an election called for the purpose shall become effective fifteen (15) days after certification and proclamation by the Commission.

Sec. 10. Prohibited Measures. — The following cannot be the subject of an initiative or referendum petition:

(a) No petition embracing more than one (1) subject shall be submitted to the electorate; and chan robles virtual law library
(b) Statutes involving emergency measures, the enactment of which are specifically vested in Congress by the Constitution, cannot be subject to referendum until ninety (90) days after its effectivity.

Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. — Any duly accredited people’s organization, as defined by law, may file a petition for indirect initiative with the House of Representatives, and other legislative bodies. The petition shall contain a summary of the chief purposes and contents of the bill that the organization proposes to be enacted into law by the legislature.

The procedure to be followed on the initiative bill shall be the same as the enactment of any legislative measure before the House of Representatives except that the said initiative bill shall have precedence over the pending legislative measures on the committee.

Sec. 12. Appeal. — The decision of the Commission on the findings of the sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition for initiative or referendum may be appealed to the Supreme Court within thirty (30) days from notice thereof. chan robles virtual law library

III – Local Initiative and Referendum

Sec. 13. Procedure in Local Initiative. — (a) Not less than two thousand (2,000) registered voters in case of autonomous regions, one thousand (1,000) in case of provinces and cities, one hundred (100) in case of municipalities, and fifty (50) in case of barangays, may file a petition with the Regional Assembly or local legislative body, respectively, proposing the adoption, enactment, repeal, or amendment, of any law, ordinance or resolution.

(b) If no favorable action thereon is made by local legislative body within (30) days from its presentation, the proponents through their duly authorized and registered representative may invoke their power of initiative, giving notice thereof to the local legislative body concerned. chan robles virtual law library

(c) The proposition shall be numbered serially starting from one (1). The Secretary of Local Government or his designated representative shall extend assistance in the formulation of the proposition.

(d) Two or more propositions may be submitted in an initiative. chan robles virtual law library

(e) Proponents shall have one hundred twenty (120) days in case of autonomous regions, ninety (90) days in case of provinces and cities, sixty (60) days in case of municipalities, and thirty (30) days in case of barangays, from notice mentioned in subsection (b) hereof to collect the required number of signatures.

(f) The petition shall be signed before the Election Registrar, or his designated representative, in the presence of a representative of the proponent, and a representative of the regional assemblies and local legislative bodies concerned in a public place in the autonomous region or local government unit, as the case may be. Signature stations may be established in as many places as may be warranted.

(g) Upon the lapse of the period herein provided, the Commission on Elections, through its office in the local government unit concerned shall certify as to whether or not the required number of signatures has been obtained. Failure to obtain the required number is a defeat of the proposition.

(h) If the required number of the signatures is obtained, the Commission shall then set a date for the initiative at which the proposition shall be submitted to the registered voters in the local government unit concerned for their approval within ninety (90) days from the date of certification by the Commission, as provided in subsection (g) hereof, in case of autonomous regions, sixty (60) days in case of the provinces and cities, forty-five (45) days in case of municipalities, and thirty (30) days in case of barangays. The initiative shall then be held on the date set, after which the results thereof shall be certified and proclaimed by the Commission on Elections. chan robles virtual law library

Sec. 14. Effectivity of Local Propositions. — If the proposition is approved by a majority of the votes cast, it shall take effect fifteen (15) days after certification by the Commission as if affirmative action thereon had been made by the local legislative body and local executive concerned. If it fails to obtain said number of votes, the proposition is considered defeated.chan robles virtual law library

Sec. 15. Limitations on Local Initiatives. — (a) The power of local initiative shall not be exercised more than once a year.

(b) Initiative shall extend only to subjects or matters which are within the legal powers of the local legislative bodies to enact.

(c) If at any time before the initiative is held, the local legislative body shall adopt in toto the proposition presented, the initiative shall be cancelled. However, those against such action may, if they so desire, apply for initiative in the manner herein provided.

Sec. 16. Limitations Upon Local Legislative Bodies. — Any proposition or ordinance or resolution approved through the system of initiative and referendum as herein provided shall not be repealed, modified or amended, by the local legislative body concerned within six (6) months from the date therefrom, and may be amended, modified or repealed by the local legislative body within three (3) years thereafter by a vote of three-fourths (3/4) of all its members: Provided, however, that in case of barangays, the period shall be one (1) year after the expiration of the first six (6) months.

Sec. 17. Local Referendum. — Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 hereof, any local legislative body may submit to the registered voters of autonomous region, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays for the approval or rejection, any ordinance or resolution duly enacted or approved.

Said referendum shall be held under the control and direction of the Commission within sixty (60) days in case of provinces and cities, forty-five (45) days in case of municipalities and thirty (30) days in case of barangays.chan robles virtual law library

The Commission shall certify and proclaim the results of the said referendum.

Sec. 18. Authority of Courts. — Nothing in this Act shall prevent or preclude the proper courts from declaring null and void any proposition approved pursuant to this Act for violation of the Constitution or want of capacity of the local legislative body to enact the said measure. chan robles virtual law library

IV – Final Provisions

Sec. 19. Applicability of the Omnibus Election Code. — The Omnibus Election Code and other election laws, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, shall apply to all initiatives and referenda.
Sec. 20. Rules and Regulations. — The Commission is hereby empowered to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.chan robles virtual law library

Sec. 21. Appropriations. — The amount necessary to defray the cost of the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the Contingent Fund in the General Appropriations Act of the current year. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for the full implementation of this Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

Sec. 22. Separability Clause. — If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other parts or provisions thereof shall remain valid and effective. chan robles virtual law library

Sec. 23. Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. chan robles virtual law library

Approved: August 4, 1989

The Crowd-sourced Proposition on the FOIA.

The proposition is quite simple:

1. Adopt the FOIA bill in its current form.

View the FOIA bill here – HB3732 Freedom of Information Bill

2. Organize to have the FOIA bill passed.

Of course, the devil is in the details – organizing however is a matter of managerial expertise – and AP is confident that there exists a deep  pool of Pinoys who are:

  • “wired” to the net
  • able to generate valid signatures from the various legislative districts
  • able to volunteer for voter education drives on the initiative/referendum
  • able to “get out the vote” to meet the technical requirements of the enabling law
  • able to work independent of others and a self-starter
  • has good interpersonal skills to facilitate smoother communication during the campaign

3. Craft an Operations  Plan – Come up with a timeline. Identify who will be responsible. Determine the deliverables.

  • Organization – National/Regional/Provincial/City/District/Barangay
  • Marketing – Explain the FOIA – its benefits, advantages, etc.
  • Production – Signature Drive
  • Submission to the COMELEC
  • Voting and Counting
  • Ratification
  • Implementation
  • Monitoring and Evaluation –

4. Learn from the Experience

Identify what tactics can be done better in the next round of crowd-sourced legislation – six sigma anyone?.

Pass the FOIA via Initiative.

Here’s a bullet of the talking points:

  • What : Activity defined in Article 1 – General Provisions, Section 3-A, Definition of Terms-Initiative – a.2. Initiative on statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation;
  • Who: According to Article 1 – General Provisions, Sections 4 and 5, to wit:
    Sec.  4. Who may exercise. — The power of initiative and referendum may be exercised by all registered voters of the country, autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.
    Sec.  5. Requirements. — (a) To exercise the power of initiative or referendum, at least ten per centum (10%) of the total number of the registered voters, of which every legislative district is represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters thereof, shall sign a petition for the purpose and register the same with the Commission.
  • How:
    c) The petition shall state the following:

    c.1. contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be;
    c.2. the proposition;
    c.3. the reason or reasons therefor;
    c.4. that it is not one of the exceptions provided herein; chan robles virtual law library
    c.5. signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and
    c.6. an abstract or summary in not more than one hundred (100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition.

  • Why:
    To address gaps in legislation that are not being addressed by Philippine Congress via constitutionally-compliant initative-centric statutes and regulations.

Implications of Passing the First Crowd-sourced Legislation in Philippines Modern History

When successful – more legislation can be crafted using the same process.

As more citizens get comfortable with crowd-sourced legislation they can probably wind-up changing the makeup of Congress itself or any other branch of government – or the constitution itself.

But, as always, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step – can Pinoys step up to the challenge?

What say you?



  1. Good idea.. unfortunately.. with “Dumb and Dumber” finishing first and second the recently concluded election proves that majority of Filipinos are careless and ignorant… corrupt public officials and politicians, just like during elections, can go campaign against it and “buy” the votes of the ignorant majority.. that is to vote “NO” instead of “YES” during the referendum..

    I believe the initiative is a good idea and definitely our constitutional right but our democracy is so immature and dysfunctional that such step towards democratic maturity will be in vain.. I just hope that I’m wrong.. the “automated” election works, maybe a people’s initiative referendum might work as well..

    Just my two cents 🙂

  2. Marcing:

    They (the people) will sign anything anything anyways – might as well roll it out before they stop doing so 😆

  3. who cares about dumb and dumber.

    it’s a numbers game. instead of FOIA – say it’s free wowowee every lunch time – they’ll sign it without reading 😆

    for short – do a judo, use their ignorance against them.

    if the politicians get people to agree with anything – chances are with the right approach – we can get the people to sign these petitions.

    for short – if you need to wield the same weapon used by the politician – nope, not deceipt – but voter stupidity – use it on the initiative 😆

  4. Here’s an idea: Why not keep the PCOS machines and program them for regular People’s Initiatives? Will we see the day someday when technology will render congressmen obsolete? What will the Representatives represent when the people can represent themselves directly through the PCOS machines? To save on the cost of printing ballots, number codes can be used to determine choices. So a “yes” vote would be “1”, a “no” vote would be “2”, etc. I believe this is what Manoling Morato meant when he said the lotto machines could have been used for automated voting. Imagine that. We can finally get urgent legislation like the FOI law, charter change, population management, etc done at the push of a few buttons.

    Just thinking out loud. Have not thought through the details. But I think this idea has potential. Of course, it also means it will be easier for the majority to make idiotic choices that will cause us all to suffer. Freedom is a dangerous weapon.

  5. hehehehehe :D.. pwede rin na magtanong “Can I have your autograph?”.. at siguradong ibigay yung signature..

  6. Good idea.. we can recruit the help of those legislators who actually support the bill.. they can pressure the Comelec to organize the initiative and have an “automated” referendum..

  7. perhaps this is an issue that the volunteers of Gibo, Gordon, and Perlas can work together on? their nationwide machinery is still intact.

    just a matter of retrofitting the machinery for the shift in strategy. who needs to be elected to make laws – citizens make use of RA 6735 to the hilt and pass grassroots-centric legislation via initiatives/referendum:

    * Infrastructure projects/programs?
    * Health Services?
    * Mining?
    * Pork Barrel reduction?
    * Whistleblower Protection and Rewards Program?
    * Solid Waste Management?
    * Government Re-engineering?

    I dunno which are covered or not – so please feel free to dig in and show us a thing or two – I am all ears _ I sh*t you not.

  8. Bong, this is really a very good idea!

    We have to make a wake-up call to our lawmakers.

    I can do it in La Union! (Uhhhha ..hopefully I will survive this!)

    I am already a persona non grata here – complaining and questioning this and that. Null sucess. Big and thick walls out here…most of the people are afraid and passive.

  9. Ryan Bosco · ·

    The Freedom of Information Act…hmmm. If I were a Congressman, I’d say to myself:

    “Now why would I support this? How will it benefit me? Disclose my assets and my every move? If this act is going to prevent my self-aggrandizement, why would I participate in its passage? We just repealed the Death Penalty so that in case I get caught stealing, I am not put to death; and now the FOIA to scrutinize my every move putting me in check? No thanks but I really enjoy my more than $1 million dollars of pocket money every year. The people will forget about this eventually. Our country is about 100 years behind a genuine, mature and disciplined democracy so I don’t think this will pass. Not when I’m elected every election.”

  10. killem · ·

    … it is not merely a numbers game, people who sign the petition must be atleast, able to read the petition or given a copy of it, plus the fact that it will be hard to accomplish the 10% req, with 3% representing every district….plus the cost of actual initiative is so expensive that the process should only be used in important law, amendment or revisions….

  11. Bong, I like your style.

    But I would like to point out that true progress does not come from deceit. This “people’s initiative” of using their stupidity against the populace has a hint of mob rule to it, especially if you said earlier in your reply to Marcing Pin: Its a numbers game. Tama na dapat me referendum at involved ang tao dito, but the people must be at least be informed. Lagi long naririnig yan sa klase ko sa BS and now, my MS studies in Socio-economic matters, there should be no shortcuts for progress. But with the pilipinos’ penchant for shortcuts…

    Or are you just trolling?

  12. There’s a term for that.. its called “free and intelligent” consent.. unfortunately, the people that are capable of “free and intelligent” consent are outnumbered by the careless and ignorant majority..

    FOI Bill is important too.. it gives the people the right to ask the government’s expenditures.. it gives us the chance to know how elected officials are going to spend their budget… officials will be force to provide information of their spendings.. are they spending it for a public project or are they keeping it to their pockets.. if they’re honest, they got nothing to afraid of.. but if they’re corrupt (and there are so many of them) then FOI Bill is bad for them because they got nothing to present since they spend the money on themselves… the majority of the members of the 14th Congress turn out to be the latter…

  13. This is so much like what i had in mind: A website for corrupt officials: complete with their names and their practices…. but this idea is saner. =)

  14. AiRoar · ·

    FOIA will end up being credited to Noy

  15. paul farol · ·

    This is a big idea that I’ve actually told Gordon and a number of other people, all of whom basically said it was “Nice.”

    Preparation for a computerized people’s initiative module as described would probably take the form of the institution of a culture of structured group decision making down to the barangay level.

    If you’ve read Ayn Rand (I think Atlas Shrugged or We, The Living) she described how the communists instituted a form of group decision making where in the central government submitted issues to the basic political groups (wards or cells, or in our case barangays) and these basic units debated on the issues then submitted the results of their debates.

    Rand’s chief protagonist hated these policy debate sessions because it got in the way of two of her main concerns at the moment which were: food (she didn’t get enough rations, forcing her to cook onions in linseed oil) and sex (she was seeing another man while here boyfriend was in the Gulags). This gives insight to how the masa will probably take the institution of barangay based policy debates.

    Now, given the fact that the Philippines is more and more wired these days, using geographic based political subdivisions as venues for debate will be encumbered by a number of problems with disinterest or apathy being the number one reason.

    So, perhaps, and this may be a better idea, is to invite people who are already interested to register for policy debates or, perhaps using the PRC as a data base, ordering professionals to participate in debates in a way that is similar to the Jury System they have in the states. Either way, the point is to get people with certified knowledge bases and skills sets to debate about policies that affect their realm.

    The results of these policy debates may take the form of actual resolutions in Congress and perhaps, if this evolves in a good way, people will be trained to campaign for or support resolutions (ideas) instead of personalities.

    Without this culture and the necessary supporting systems, giving the public at large the capacity to involve itself in forming public policy will go the way of most of our electoral exercises — stupid voters will vote for stupid candidates.

    Moreover, consider how our plebiscites have turned out…

    The 1987 constitution was ratified through a plebiscite, despite all infirmities and under an atmosphere of severe duress… The Aquino Revolutionary government badly needed to legitimize its rule.

    The plebiscites for the creation of cities and geo-political subdivisions…

    Anyway, the point is that without the right culture (that of thinking and critical analyses), the results that we will have will largely be the ones dictated to the masses by the new and not so new oligarchs.

  16. Paolo:

    I was trolling 😆

  17. Paul:

    all am saying to the emo politicians – you want direct democracy?

    pure channeled people power – revolution in the digital world to the “real” world – this is it.

    regarding the process you mentioned that’s called democratic centralism – democratic debate – but once consensus is achieved – the consensus becomes “the party line”. that’s a method that is already being done in the Philippines today – actually – matagal na, any UG tibak who has earned his stripes will tell you that.

    i draw from my experience with the “Invest in Davao” project. For sometime, Davao was complaining that it wasn’t being given attention by the national center in terms of development.

    Well, Davao got tired of waiting – and acted. It crafted its own investment incentives – distinct from the national center. Its leaderhship nurtured the EAGA concept – a virtual country of the marginalized provinces of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippnes.

    In effect, Mindanao no longer looks towards the national center in calibrating its drumbeat – it is no longer dependent on Manila. For all intents and purposes – Davao is a city-state just going through the motion of being a part of the Philippines.

    In like manner, why allow ourselves to be hampered by the idiots and morons – I assert that the greatest responsibility is given to those who “know”.

    The presidential campaigns still have their machinery of volunteers intact. At the moment Gordon’s Bagumbayan has degraded into a social club . It’s volunteers are like flotsam looking for meaning – after the elections are over. Just looking at the current activities of its volunteers – I got sick in the stomach after reading a call to Bagumbayan volunteers to “remind ourselves how great we are as a nation” – really???? two weeks after the election – the “volunteers” have been re-assimilated into the tontowist PoV – backsliding ika nga – what a waste of machinery.

    Converting that machinery into an organized bloc of politically aware operators who can roll out the signatures to create law without having to go through congress – a direct exercise of political power by the constituents. Through people’s initiative – the constituents can directly cause change – without having to go through congress.

    Of course, there will be debates – that comes with the territory – and that’s a good thing. It forces the issue – if lawmakers will not do the job – the people will, and the regulations can wind up tighter than congressmen want. heck, if it were up to me – i’ll wage a series of initiative-centric legislation that will ultimately wind up removing the pork barrel.

    My mentality is this – F-U-C-K congress – let the citizenry craft the law if congress is inutile – heck maybe generate the bandwagon to shift from presidential to parliamentary.

    In campaigns of thias sort – it boils down to the numbers – there is no need for an overwhelming mandate – use the law RA 6735 and make it work FOR the people.

    If Congress does not want to pass the FOIA, and the people want it – if they want it so bad – I say, the people ought to shut, grab themselves by the bootstrap – and pass the FOIA as an initiative.

    Remember this – 8 laws in 3 years – and people expect Aquino to pass the FOIA? Are you kidding? Aquino didn’t even reveal how his pork barrel was spent – why will he support a law that will disclose his pork barrel spending. The calculus does not add up.

    Bottom line – if people expect an Aquino congress to pass the FOIA – I doubt it very much. ABS-CBN, the Inquirer, RMN will make the FOIA story die a natural death.

    Where does that leave the people – wait for another election of congressman. We’ve tried that before – we’ve had the same results. If we want change – people’s initiative is the way to go.

    What you need are experienced marketing and sales corporate dudes who understand the dynamics of generating leads and closing a sale. Folks who can operate on a lean budget, self-starters, assigned to “sales territories”.

    Mahina ang imagination ni Gordon – kinalawang matapos natalo sa eleksyon.

  18. miriam quiamco · ·

    Wow, didn’t know this, 8 laws in three years!!! How productive indeed our legislature has been and their pork barrel at 70 million pesos a year has not made them work harder. Let’s do it, people’s initiative is the way to go, I am sure, Gibonians will agre to this, its doable and in line with the activism of the Gibonians.

  19. Miriam Quiamco · ·

    I don’t know if a referendum for every piece of legislation is a good idea, it seems counterproductive, look at California, its public facilities are now degraded cause the state cannot pass tax increases since people can voice their opinion in a referendum. If you mean to have the referendum as non-binding legally, then, it could be an efficient way of pressuring the laggards in congress. It is actually shocking the number of bills passed every year by the house, only 2.5 on the average. This sounds like a joke. Teodoro’s 5 in 9 years then is not such a bad record.

  20. Miriam Quiamco · ·

    It sounds like Ayn Rand is developing a strong following in the Philippines. Whereas in the U.S., many people I know have discredit the ideas of Ayn Rand as simplistic and half-baked. With the debilitating mass conditioning in the Philippines of so much cultural bullshit like you have to sacrifice personal happiness for the family, etc., a dose of Ayn Rand’s selfishness is a virtue kind of logic is probably healthy.

  21. HalleluyaHymen · ·

    Ayn Rand is like a fad here in the Philippines in the intellectual wannabees’ sector. You need to read “these books” to be in. Yeah it is simplistic and a half-baked framework of the utilitarian theory of Jeremy Bentham and Stuart Mills.

  22. Miriam Quiamco · ·

    Really, I actually tried reading Ayn Rand in my younger days, but found her fiction unreadable and lacking in artistic merits, too rational perhaps, lacking subtle emotional appeal which the great classical novels have. I got really turned off by Ayn Rand after finding out that she was the inspiration behind the neo-cons who mostly got their training ground at Rand Corporation, a conservative Republican think tank responsible for providing an intellectual backbone to Bush’s misadventures in Iraq. I also read a New Yorker article about her life which turned me off even more, she of course advocated the mind-over body philosophy in relationships with the opposite sex. She herself carried on affairs with younger disciples, driving her husband-writer to despair and alcoholism. When one young male disciple proved her theory wrong about the mind actually being able to master the physical demands of romance by falling in love with a younger follower, she went ballistic towards him. So much for rationality and by the way, even though she was all for selfishness as a virtue, apparently, she was quite generous to a niece.

  23. Miriam,


    As-Is State: (compute costs)
    * Congressman Salary
    * Congressional Staff
    * Congressional Office (Manila)
    * Congressional Office (Local)
    * Office Supplies/Transpo/RATA
    * Pork Barrel

    Multiply that with 238 Congressman who can’t even fucking sohw up to pass the FOIA. Now compute the cost for three years – AND STILL NO LEGISLATION. NO OUTPUT.

    Future State

    * Cost of secretariat (manila/local)
    * Cost of mobilization for signature drive
    * Cost of printing referendum ballots
    * Use PCOS machines for counting referendum results)

    I will wager that the cost of running one initiative is lesser than the cost of one congressman who does not even show up for work.

    let’s say we spent conservatively – P2M per congressman – wala pang pork barrel yan – that’s PhP476M – and what have they shown thus far? Nothing.

    Let’s say I’ll have a couple of Jet hernandezes or a Paul Farols run an operation – each with P3M even (they will shepherd the passing of the initiative – they will have no pork barrel at all) – I would bet they will have the legislation, signed, sealed, and delivered – with budget surplus to share.


    Consider the typical Pinoy citizen

    1 – Elects congressman without thinking
    2 – Congressman gets into the office, goes through the motions of legislation – but have no laws passed.
    3 – Pinoy complains.
    4 – Pinoy waits for another cycle of elections
    5 – In the process, no laws are passed, but we keep on paying for a service which is not being rendered

    Obviously, he is stuck in an endless loop with the current attitude.

    Now, consider this:

    1 – Pinoy Elects congressman without thinking
    2 – Congressman gets into the office, goes through the motions of legislation – but have no laws passed.
    3 – Pinoy initiates legislation (based on RA 6735)
    4 – Law is passed

    The only hindrance left here really is attitude.

    Technologically – it is feasible. Financially, it is viable. Politically it is empowering – and dumps the lawmakers in the wayside.

    The presence of this modality does not imply using it every day.

    The point am driving at – is this the Pinoy response to the current FOIA issue has been the same tired old antique Jurassic Cretaceous Cambrina response – whine or wait.

    That’s not enough – until Pinoys grab the bull by the horn – force the issue, and send a strong message to lawmakers that the next set of initiatives can wind up making Congress obsolete – or up for some right sizing.

  24. I haven’t read any of her novels. Though I’ve read the synopsis of her works. Specially, Atlas Shrugged – as my mom had a copy of it as I recall.

    Having said that, allow me to cite the wiki on Rand

    Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. This was Rand’s fourth, longest and last novel, and she considered it her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing.[1] As indicated by its working title The Strike, the book explores a dystopian United States where leading innovators, ranging from industrialists to artists, refuse to be exploited by society. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry, while society’s most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear. Galt describes the strike as “stopping the motor of the world” by withdrawing the “minds” that drive society’s growth and productivity; with their strike these creative minds hope to demonstrate that the economy and society would collapse without the profit motive and the efforts of the rational and productive.

    The novel’s title is a reference to the mythical Titan, Atlas, who in the novel is said to hold the weight of the heavens on his shoulders.[2] At one point, the character of Francisco d’Anconia asks the character Hank Rearden what sort of advice he would give to Atlas. Rearden is unable to answer, so Francisco gives his own response: “to shrug” (with Atlas being a metaphor for the champions of industry who keep the world in place). The novel includes elements of mystery and science fiction,[3] and it contains Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction via a lengthy monologue delivered by the strike’s leader, John Galt.[4]

    The theme of Atlas Shrugged, as Rand described it, is “the role of man’s mind in existence.” The book explores a number of philosophical themes that Rand would subsequently develop into the philosophy of Objectivism.[5][6] It advocates the core tenets of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. In doing so it expresses many facets of Rand’s philosophy, such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, the market economy and the failure of government coercion.

    Atlas Shrugged received largely negative reviews after its 1957 publication,[7] but achieved enduring popularity and consistent sales in the following decades. In the wake of the late 2000s recession, sales of Atlas Shrugged have sharply increased, according to The Economist magazine and The New York Times. The Economist reported that the fifty-two-year-old novel ranked #33 among’s top-selling books on January 13, 2009.[8]


    The story of Atlas Shrugged dramatically expresses Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism: Rand’s ethical egoism, her advocacy of “rational selfishness”, is perhaps her most well-known position. For Rand, all of the principal virtues and vices are applications of the role of reason as man’s basic tool of survival (or a failure to apply it): rationality, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, productiveness, and pride—each of which she explains in some detail in “The Objectivist Ethics.”[23] Rand’s characters often personify her view of the archetypes of various schools of philosophy for living and working in the world. Robert James Bidinotto wrote that “Rand rejected the literary convention that depth and plausibility demand characters who are naturalistic replicas of the kinds of people we meet in everyday life, uttering everyday dialogue and pursuing everyday values. But she also rejected the notion that characters should be symbolic rather than realistic.”[21] and Rand herself stated, “My characters are never symbols, they are merely men in sharper focus than the audience can see with unaided sight…My characters are persons in whom certain human attributes are focused more sharply and consistently than in average human beings.”[21]

    In addition to the plot’s more obvious statements about the significance of industrialists to society, and the sharp contrast it provides to the Marxist version of the Labor Theory of Value, this explicit conflict is used by Rand to draw wider philosophical conclusions, both implicit in the plot and via the characters’ own statements. Atlas Shrugged portrays fascism, socialism and communism – any form of state intervention in society – as systemically and fatally flawed, but, in addition, positions are expressed on a variety of other topics, including sex, politics, friendship, charity, childhood, and many others. Rand said that it is not a fundamentally political book, but a demonstration of the individual mind’s position and value in society.[24]

    Rand argues that independence and individual achievement enable society to survive and thrive, and should be embraced. But this requires a rational moral code. She argues that, over time, coerced self-sacrifice must cause any society to self-destruct.

    Similarly, Rand rejects faith (that “short-cut to knowledge,” she writes in the novel, which in fact is only a “short-circuit” destroying knowledge), along with any sort of a god or higher being. Rand urges the rejection of anything claiming “authority” over one’s own mind – apart from the absolute of existence itself. The book positions itself against religion specifically, often directly within the characters’ dialogue.
    [edit] Sanction of the victim

    The concept “Sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin’ of creating values.”[25] This concept may be original in the thinking of Rand and is foundational to her moral theory: she holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it. Atlas Shrugged can be seen as an answer to the question of what would happen if this sanction were revoked. When Atlas shrugs, relieving himself of the burden of carrying the world, he is revoking his sanction.

    Throughout Atlas Shrugged, numerous characters admit that there is something wrong with the world that they cannot identify; frequently, they are struggling with the idea of sanction of the victim. We first glimpse the concept when Hank Rearden feels he is duty-bound to support his family, despite their hostility towards him; later, the principle is stated explicitly by Dan Conway: “I suppose somebody’s got to be sacrificed. If it turned out to be me, I have no right to complain.” John Galt vows to stop the motor of the world by persuading the creators of the world to withhold their sanction: “Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us,” and, “I saw that evil was impotent…and the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it.”

    In Rand’s view, morality requires that we do not sanction our own victimhood. She assigns virtue to the trait of rational self-interest. However, Rand contends that moral selfishness does not mean a license to do whatever one pleases, guided by whims. It means the exacting discipline of defining and pursuing one’s rational self-interest. A code of rational self-interest rejects every form of human sacrifice, whether of oneself to others or of others to oneself.

  25. The frequent mention of Rand kinda got me interested enough to look her up in wikipedia.

    What interested me is her philosophy if “Objectivism” –

    Objectivism is the philosophy created by the Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982).[1] It holds that reality exists independent of consciousness, that individuals have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that human beings can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform man’s widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that he can comprehend and to which he can respond emotionally.

    Rand originally expressed her philosophical ideas in her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and other works. She further elaborated on them in her magazines The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Ayn Rand Letter, and in non-fiction books such as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and The Virtue of Selfishness.[2]

    The name “Objectivism” derives from the principle that human knowledge and values are objective: they are not created by the thoughts one has, but are determined by the nature of reality, to be discovered by man’s mind.[3] Rand chose the name because her preferred term for a philosophy based on the primacy of existence, existentialism, had already been taken.[4]


    Personally, I find the proposition as sound. Now, as to whether it was Rand, Bentham or Mill – who espoused such – is not much of an interest to me – rather, it is the ideas and concepts being discussed which are of paramount importance.

    Now, the behavior of those who says you have to read Rand’s book to be “in” is just being cliquish. However, their behavior (the Pinoy cliques) – and the soundness of Rand’s propositions are two different things.

    Moving forward, a colleague of mine who is currently taking her PhD in Georgetown U disagreed that Ayn Rand is discredited her verbatim words are “any tenured university professor in an American university of excellent reputation, specially in literature will disagree that Ayn Rand is discredited”.


  26. HalleluyahHymen · ·

    It’s the same thing as the Utilitarian theories of Jeremy Bentham and Stuart Mill. Ayn Rand never mentioned in these theories in her novels… (because they are novels… hehehe) Same thing… man’s behavior is driven by things that he finds useful. Objectivism came in late in the 30s when all the classical theorists such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx have already formulated the baseline of man’s behavior towards materialism. But classicists already went beyond that notion of self-interest. Smith for example pumped in the concept of self interest but has added that the butcher and the brewer and the baker’s behavior are all driven by self preservation… something like “an invisible hand” is driving them. Thus, collectively, man strives to do things based on self interest but unknowingly works for the common good.

    My point sirs and mesdames is that any discipline that is 1900s will always have sort of “classical” explanation from the treatises and letters of well known pilosopos before that era. The reason why I’ve agreed that Ayn Rand’s objectivism is half baked is that it comes in as a literary piece at a time the basic concepts have been dealt with more than half a century behind her… It works along the context of where self-interest and self-preservation concepts are explained through story lines.

  27. The classical theories have already laid down the foundations, however, there is always room for either challenging or expounding on the work.

    On another note, the assumptions on objectivism – and rational selfishness – may seem “Randian” in origin – but the root of such concepts were not entirely by Rand. Rather this were classic concepts that she expounded on. The concept however was being attributed to Rand because she popularized and articulated it – and became associated to such.

    Much like Keynes expounding on Adam Smith in situations where the market reaches saturation point.

  28. HalleluyahHymen · ·

    *** these theories in her novels

    PS… i was forced to read fountainhead because my brother is an architect who kept holding on to it as if it is the bible of his discipline… medyo naging weirdo for a time dahil sa EGO / SELF concepts…

  29. HalleluyahHymen · ·

    it’s like critiquing the critique. philosophical discourses of Ayn Rand’s critique of the Kantian critique has been lobotomized here

    dunno if sociologists took a bite into this Rand’s objectivism. Yet, some economists who did such as greenspan who was a part of Rand’s inner circle showed some conflicting stance on objectivism

    though I agree that new theories should be worked out from the classical era from where all these stemmed out, there has to be a logical framework on where the theories can lead to something such as the Newtonian law of gravity. Rand has threaded on various disciplines such as economics, political economy, politics and philosophy… kaya in my honest opinion… most of her discourses are half baked.

    in economics… one of the most tortured theories is the Todaro migration model… even if there are other theories such as the new economics of labor migration (NELM by Oded Stark)… it did not move away from the concept that opportunities affects the movement of migrants. It has just placed an additional notion that it is not only opportunities but other factors such as family and self. The only difference between Todaro and Adam Smith is that the former proved it graphically and mathematically.

  30. In today’s highly specialized world – Rand’s forays into various disciplines sounds like a jack-of-all-trades – ergo half-baked.

    In Leonoardo da Vinci’s time, as well as Raphael, Newton, Leibnitz – Rand would be a “renaisscance man” – A polymath (Greek πολυμαθής, polymathēs, “having learned much”)[1] is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable. Most ancient scientists were polymaths by today’s standards.[2]

    The terms Renaissance man and, less commonly, Homo Universalis (Latin for “universal man” or “man of the world”) are related and used to describe a person who is well educated or who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields.[3] The idea developed in Renaissance Italy from the notion expressed by one of its most accomplished representatives, Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472): that “a man can do all things if he will.” It embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism, which considered humans empowered, limitless in their capacities for development, and led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted people of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts.

  31. HalleluyahHymen · ·

    Ayn Rand and her objectivism is just a product of good scholastic marketing which is comparable to how Noynoy has been marketed by the academicians and media pundits here in the Philippines. I just give Rand an A for her efforts to revive Philosophy by threading on various subjects and employing radical methodologies to contest other classical philosophical concepts. If one has a background on the evolution or history of Philosophical thoughts the peak of discovery is from the period between the middle ages to the age of enlightenment. The social science disciplines such as Sociology, Economics, Anthropology etc… ( that we have right now is the result of the decline through pragmatism of this all encompassing discipline… Philosophy. It’s like the science of medicine.

    Rand simply comes in pushing her discourses at a time when everything else is already baked.

  32. Miriam Quiamco · ·

    Interesting exchanges you have here, suffice it to say that as philosophical novels, I find Ayn Rand’s unreadable. Its true Renaissance thinkers did cover a wide variety of subjects in their artistic pursuits/intellectual pursuits, but somehow there was beauty and purity in their work, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, Petrach, etc. I am not really an expert on Renaissance intellectuals, but the images that come of Renaissance are those of the struggle between humanism and medieval Christianity. Precisely why the works of the intellectuals were interesting, they were not only wry and rational, no certainty, there was passion and the struggle to be free. Rand to me was a wry intellectual . . .

  33. I know Ayn Rand more as an author than as a philosopher. and I didn’t read her novels either – I was too hooked with – J. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, and Xaviera Hollander 😆

    It was only recently that I learned of Rands objectivism – from the AP comment threads 😆 because my experience with “objectivism” probably came out in class while discussing DesCartes, Sartre, Kierkegaard – and outside the classroom – when discussing Marx, Lenin, Mao, Sun Tzu, and Ho Chi Minh 😆

  34. My impression is that although the classic were already fully baked, Ayn Rand connected the dots together – and put the icing on the cake.

    Thus Bentham and Stuart can be the core plain vanilla cake – while Rand – is the icing on the cake.

  35. HalleluyahHymen · ·


    Like Kierkegaard … i dreaded philosophy for three and half years… it’s a crazy subject… but the thing that i love most is formulating illogical fallacies… hehehehe…

    Ayn Rand merely scratches the surface of each theory and present it in a way that it is palatable to non philosophers. Not even an icing on the cake… but a sugarcoated half baked pancake. 😆 😛

  36. Tom Solis · ·

    :mrgreen: Folks, if you want to exercise the People Initiative, lets do it to change the entire ’87 constitution. Kung gagawa tayo ng eskandalo lubusin na natin. Let’s go for the BIG KAHONE :mrgreen:

  37. @Tom Solis – keep talking about the big kahone. am listening 😀

  38. oysterhalfshell · ·

    Participatory democracy is the essence of a People’s Initiative. As our legislative system is riddled with partisan politics, this may be (if done properly and again not abused) the one true way through which citizens can pass laws that directly affect them. We have delegated most of our power to our elected (sadly, mostly self-interested) representatives. I believe the best way would be for communities to start enacting laws that directly affect them (ie. environment) through a local initiative at the communal or district level. The numbers are not too high. For example, an entire community of 1000 voters could directly enact a law requiring their city to have a rainwater catchment system or to have bike lanes. And I believe, even if we are not able to get the popular vote, the initiative itself may be a way to make change. The People’s Initiative is a novel, non-traditional, and creative process to enact legislation for as you said, issues on Freedom of Information, Climate Change Adaptation, health care, even education.

    And you are right, the recent elections have made available to us the manpower, resources and machinery through for example the volunteer groups of Perlas, Gordon and Gibo. We are about to do an Initiative to compel councils to have bike-safe streets. If we are successful, this could be a start.

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