Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pinoy Top Thinkers Today (2013)

Copyright @ 2013 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

This year is one of the defining moments in Philippine history as we survived the wrath of Mother Nature when we were hit by the biggest tropical storm (Yolanda / Haiyan) in the world. The undefined storm surge that nearly wiped out people and properties in Central Visayas was awful yet the indomitable human spirit of Filipinos remains forever resilient that is strongly etched to the minds of all citizens around the world. We are also thankful to every individual, that in moments like this, we see helping hands of people from all walks of life extended by the international community to come and unite together and instill to all of us the core values of humanity – that is to help and support people regardless of citizen or color, in times of dire need.  

This cycle also saw terrifying earthquakes devouring and annihilating iconic centuries-old colonial churches, persistent catastrophic cyclones and floods, unresolved secessionist sieges based on historical claims, continuous tug-of-war in maritime territories with a big brother neighbor, and a disappointing massive systemic corruption in the legislative and executive branches of the government courtesy of the pork barrel until the judiciary ruled that pork barrels are unconstitutional. 

What a year we all had! But we remained strong and steadfast! 

But as they always say, at the end of the tunnel there is always light. This hope laid in the successive triumphs and laurels of honor brought home by world-class Filipino sportsmen – notably basketball players and boxers. Also the consecutive wins of Pinay beauty queens spur boisterous cheers among our kababayans. Other reality contestant, artists, broadcast journalists, and independent filmmakers excelled in their own fields and made our country proud, thus, their achievements may be counted as blessings and inspiration in a beleaguered country. With all these international achievements – the Philippines can now be called as home of beautiful women and beastly men for their beauty and brains and Herculean might! 

Industrialists also shine as they continuously contribute much in pouring investments to our emerging economy, few dedicated bureaucrats embrace public service conscientiously, and true academics clearly analyze the mid-term election this year topped by a neophyte politician hoping that she might bring credence to the graft-tainted image of our congress. 

But the real big winner this year is represented by myriad of voices of awakened Filipino middle class taxpayers and netizens who call for transparency and honesty on how our taxes are adversely spent and thoughtlessly wasted by greedy politicians with their dishonest cohorts. And to Filipino survivors of all kinds of natural disasters who braved storm surge, super typhoons, and earthquakes. They taught us to remain strong and alert. Despite trauma and sadness, Filipino survivors know how to smile to show their inner strength and indomitable spirit.   

This is my sixth year of celebrating and admiring living global Filipino intellectuals and talents. The tradition of recognizing Filipino thinkers and sages here and abroad is a living testament that this country still overflows with bright people, colorful leaders, and gifted talents honed by experience, dedication, and big hearts. Although, not all of them may be blessed with genius minds, some of them learned from big mistakes, and are now spreading inspiration and transformation. But most of them walk the talk of excellence and honor – affirming the incessant intellectual tradition of our global Filipino community.   
Below is my roster of Filipino top thinkers today with their surnames in alphabetical order:

Arsenio Balisacan (NEDA director general) – he’s a top-notch economist and formerly dean of the UP School of Economics. As current director general of the National Economic and Development Authority and concurrently socio-economic planning secretary of the country, he is optimistic that the emerging economy status of the Philippines will beat the target growth this fruitful year. A Magna cum laude from the Mariano Marcos State University with BS Agriculture, armed with MS Agricultural Economics from the University of the Philippines Los Banos, and a PhD in Economics degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, this seasoned academic helped the country turn-around economically, stating that with strong macroeconomic fundamentals, PH has the means to manage risks that may arise with volatilities, including those of the stock market and our currency. Dr Balisacan worked before with World Bank in Washington DC, taught at Australian National University as adjunct professor, reached the rank of full professor at UP Diliman, became the president of the Philippine Economic Society, elected as Academician to the National Academy of Science and Technology, and the incumbent president of the Asian Society of Agricultural Economists.  

Kenneth Cobonpue (architect, industrial designer) – his love for the country was highlighted when he rendered his pro bono service to overhaul the country’s oldest gateway – the NAIA Terminal One. I remember writing an article in my blog about his patriotic service at In his website, he identified himself as a multi-awarded furniture designer and manufacturer from Cebu. He graduated in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute in New York with highest honors and subsequently worked in Italy and Germany. In one TV show interview, he admitted that he flunked the UP Fine Arts entrance exam. But Conbonpue morphed to become a genius and his brand has become one of the very few Filipino brands known around the world, as he described in his website, for its unique designs and roster of clientele would include Hollywood celebrities including Brad Pitt and members of royalty. He is also teaching industrial design at the University of the Philippines in Cebu. As a kid, he liked inventing his own toys and he foresees future inventions and innovations on local cars. He received countless accolades and awards in Japan, Singapore, HongKong, USA, UK, and France. He appeared in European TV shows for his designs, oftentimes invited for interviews among respected magazine in the world. TIME Magazine described him “rattans first virtuoso” in 2007. For me, his outstanding creativity and gifted mind is indeed overwhelmingly admirable. 

Nicole Curato (political sociologist) – the beauty and brains assistant professor of sociology lightened up cable and television networks in the recently concluded midterm election. She earned a PhD in Political Sociology at the University of Birmingham, a master’s in Sociology with distinction from the University of Manchester in United Kingdom, and currently teaches qualitative research methods and classical sociological theory at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, penned about her in a blog called PinoyScientists. In a UP sa Halalan 2013 website, it was written that before joining UP, she was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the Australian National University. In her article posted at Rappler last May and updated in August, she succinctly deemed that, “at a time when good governance and transparency have become popular discourses, it has been common to associate intelligent votes with reform-oriented votes. It can be observed from past elections that there has been an increasing emphasis on voting based on track record, platform and integrity.” I hope she continues educating Filipino voters to become smart in choosing our leaders. Definitely, she will trek a long path and colorful career as a respected academic. 

Ernesto Domingo (Ramon Magsaysay awardee) – the national scientist and medical doctor says that medicine is about caring and not just curing illness. His empathy and personal feeling to his patients became legendary when he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award on medical science. He also claimed that medicine is a social science because doctors have to deal with real people afflicted with different illnesses and confide with their family members and loved ones. Dr Domingo was honored by the RM board of trustees “for his exemplary embrace of the social mission, his steadfast leadership in pursuing ‘health for all’ as a shared moral responsibility of all sectors, and his ground-breaking successful advocacy for neonatal hepatitis vaccination, thereby saving millions of lives in the Philippines.” The citation was inscribed in his honor for designing and implementing the Philippine General Hospital Specialty Fellowship Program, by establishing the Clinical Epidemiology Unit, and in organizing the Liver Study Group in doing research on viral hepatitis for which the findings have been adopted by the Department of Health in developing the policy on hepatitis B immunization in the country. The professor emeritus of the UP College of Medicine also served as UP Manila’s chancellor, faculty regent, and one of the distinguished academics in the university who lectured for UP Centennial Lecture Series.    

Prospero de Vera III (public administration professor) – he is an internationally recognized political analyst and opinion maker whose views have been extensively quoted by the foreign and local print and broadcast media, according to a write-up in UP sa Halalan 2013. Definitely, his incisive and critical comments on Philippine elections in quad-media are sources of news and information. He used to work under different senators before carving a niche in the academe. Dr Popoy de Vera currently sits as the Vice President for Public Affairs of the University of the Philippines, a full professor of public administration, and an expert on campaign platforms and strategy, finance, political dynasties, local elections, social media and elections, and partylist. He was a Fulbright-Hays visiting scholar to the University of Southern California and California State University. Still in the UP website, it was written that Prof de Vera was the first Filipino recipient of a California State Assembly Resolution commending his work at the California Legislature in 1992. Dr de Vera became Senior Fulbright Visiting Professor and Fellow at the John Hopkins University. He was also sent as either member or adviser to various Philippine delegations to the 1994 UN International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt; the 1995 UN World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen; the 1996 UN World Food Summit in Rome; and the 2002 UN Special Session on Children in New York. 

Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada (mayor, former Philippine president) – this Atenean alumnus and engineering drop-out from Mapua Institute of Technology destined to become a popular and influential actor, one of the longest-serving politicians, former president of the country, and is now back in the mainstream as the city mayor of topsy-turvy Manila – Philippines’ capital city. Standing as a formidable patriarch of the Estrada/Ejercito clan, his colorful life added with a continuing saga to shock his detractors and help Filipino masses has never faltered. His strong presence and charisma in Philippine politics cannot be underestimated. He was the first president of the republic almost impeached by the senate, undergone house arrest for graft cases, pardoned by a former and another thief president currently undergoing a hospital arrest, served the shortest presidency since the post-Marcos regime, first actor turned president, longest serving mayor, and he also served a senator, congressman, and vice president of the country. He has been criticized for his immorality and decadence as a politician before, but this transformed president-mayor is beginning to redeem himself as he tries to clean up and bring back the past glory of Manila City. He pushed radical changes and walk the talk of his policies on traffic rules in his jurisdiction which earned positive feedback among Manilans. His vision and the discipline he is trying to imbibe to Manila are favorable and hopefully he will successfully revive the vibrancy, identity, history, and beauty of Manila. But is there something fishy when Erap recently visited his presidential successor at her lair?

Voltaire Gazmin (national defense secretary) – he is an alumnus of the University of the Philippines for his primary and secondary schooling. A Vanguard and chose Chemistry for two years in UP before entering the Philippine Military Academy in 1964. He finished his Command and General Course at the US Army Command and General Staff College in 1985 and graduated cum laude after completing his master’s degree in Public Administration from the Manuel L Quezon University in 1990. He became the 35th secretary of national defense after a six-year retirement from public service. Retired Lieutenant General Gazmin served the Philippine Army for almost 32 years of his career until he became the 40th commander of the said military service. But he first gained national prominence in 1986 as a disciplinarian Commander of the Presidential Security Group of then President Corazon Aquino. This stint gave him the chance to work with Cory’s son, now President Benigno Aquino III, for his loyalty to the Aquino family.  Formerly appointed as Ambassador to Cambodia from 2002-2004. Perhaps his exposures for his diplomatic acumen and outstanding public service helped him contentiously in his current career as national defense secretary particularly on how he defended national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines against a giant neighboring country and local secessionist groups. His straightforward opinions and serious fa├žade in dealing with national security issues are curiously followed by the local and international media. His stance and revived policy of mandatory requirement for the military officers seeking promotion to be a one-star general to take the rigorous Master in National Security Administration course turned controversial yet fruitful for the country’s armed forces. Certainly, this will legitimize his legacy in his effort to continuously educate and professionalize future generals of the armed forces.  

Kim Jacinto-Henares (internal revenue commissioner) – she’s the lifeblood of the tax revenue office. Her reformist and tough policies may have caused frictions with our national fist Pacman or top celebrities including Judy Ann Santos, Regine Velasquez, and Richard Gomez, or other big time tax evaders. But never mess with the topnotcher in the qualifying exam for accountancy in DLSU, an honor student in the law school at ADMU, and an alumna of Georgetown University for her Master of Laws (LLM). Her conservative training at home, love for debates and numbers, paved her path as commissioner of the controversial Bureau of Internal Revenue. This former senior private sector development specialist of World Bank loves what men like including shooting, carpentry, and plumbing according to an interview done by Bianca Gonzalez. For ones, we see some reforms in one of the most corrupt agencies in the government, and we hope that her leadership would become a precedence for better management of our taxes as this lifeblood of the economy translate into better services for Filipinos.   

Filipino Survivors of Natural Disasters (true survivors) – second lives, second chances. They are the true survivors in real life. The power to hope and survive amidst raging super typhoon and unpredictable earthquake is a miracle and a gift. One needs alertness and presence of mind added with strong prayers and faith to live again. Many of them feared death as they have become victims of mother nature’s wrath. They may have wept so heavily during the darkest hours of their lives, but by learning one or more of their family members, friends, and relatives have died or missing after the natural disasters, is more traumatic. That is more painful that surviving the catastrophe. With the deadly quake in touristic places devouring and destroying infamous and centuries-old landmark churches, and the biggest tropical storm to hit the world this year wiping out an entire city and nearby towns and provinces – the world have seen the indomitable strength and spirit of Filipino people. The smile, humor, resiliency, and will to survive of Filipinos showed that despite catastrophes we will survive! We are also thankful to all countries around the world for all the relief goods, donations, moral support, help in kind, and showing the core of humanity in a country raked by series of natural disasters, yet its people remain steadfast and survivors! 

Nur Misuari (MNLF founder) – where is Misuari? The founder of the MNLF may be missing again but this year he made boisterous news when his followers initiated a standoff in Zamboanga (read my blog about the Zamboanga siege at Nuruladji Misuari, popularly known as Nur Misuari, was born from Sulu of ethnic Yakan-Tausug descent. He became an exceptional leader in his pursuit of establishing an independent and sovereign Islamic state in Mindanao. He represented the ideological leaning of the Bangsa Moro movement. His enlightenment of the Moro struggle began as a scholar and student activist under the Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison in the University of the Philippines. There he preached his provocative thoughts on secessionism and Moro liberation as a passionate youth. He remained steadfast in his calling as a Moro social reformer and attracted young Muslim militants in his efforts to organize political and armed units in all the Muslim inhabited regions. Misuari ably concocted the Bangsamoro by proliferating it as an academic discourse at the height when the government heavily battled protracted guerilla warfare with communists. It can therefore be deemed that his founded organization was influenced by the social and political contexts of his time.  He also taught in UP, thus, Professor Misuari’s persuasion to arm struggle tentatively ended by virtue of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, an international binding contract signed by President Marcos, as MNLF espoused to the recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Philippines in exchange for the establishment of an autonomous government in Southern Philippines.

Veronica Pedrosa (journalist) – from BBC to CNN to Al Jazeera – she’s a top Filipino news anchor in various international news organizations. She may have acquired that unique accent but she’s a real Pinay by heart. In her interview with, she admits that what defines a Filipino is what binds us and what dreams unite us. She was born in the Philippines by a diplomat father and a biographer mother, grew up in London, but proudly carries a Filipino passport until now despite having been married to a foreigner. In the same interview, she confessed that she learned to pray in Tagalog and sing nationalist hymns of God and country. She was enchanted by the possibility that she could really belong with Fellow Pinoys in Europe, who worked so hard and missed their families so much. She graduated from Cambridge University with an MA (Hons) in English. In one of the blogs, she is described as, she whose typical day at work includes interviewing the world’s movers and shakers — Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta and President Xanana Gusmao, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and Philippine Presidents Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo — as well as covering events that shape the world’s socio-political landscape, from the Bali bombings and the infamous SARS to the Beijing Olympics and Barack Obama’s celebrated win. But Veronica discloses that at one point, she considered the thought of becoming a social worker. And though her mother, print journalist Carmen Navarro-Pedrosa, did inspire her about “the power of telling a story,” it was only when she came back to the Philippines that she began writing her own story as a broadcast journalist.

Grace Poe (senator) – she is a senatorial topnotcher in the recently concluded midterm election. Her regal and royal ancestry comes from the country’s show business with whom she was adopted and raised conscientiously by the King and Queen of Philippine movies. She is a new breed in the topsy-turvy senate with high expectations from the masses who voted for her. Now that pork barrel in congress has been abolished, we expect that public service-oriented senators will truly lead the country. Her balanced heart and mind will surely win her into higher office in the future if she fulfills her true mandate to the people. As debater in school, she’s persuasive in articulating her thoughts about social issues. As a former MTRCB chair, she has gained respect and showed proper authority in handling one of the most controversial government agencies and delivered good results during her brief stint. She reformed the classification system for movies and television, provided institutional support to independent film makers, and brought together government agencies and media organizations in order to protect the interests of children. All these accomplishments she achieved without calling attention to herself. In her own website, she shares her father’s (Fernando Poe Jr) passion to serve and desire to help the poor. Like her father, she understands that poverty can break the Filipino family and bring great harm to our children. Grace Poe sees the need to focus poverty alleviation efforts on the family as a basic social institution. She wants government to take a more active role in helping children of poor families. She believes that the future of our nation depends on the kind of citizens these children will become. She studied Political Science from Boston College in the US and finished two years of Development Studies in UP Manila. 

Enrique Razon (industrialist) – he’s one of the most engaging Filipino billionaires today. Ports tycoon Enrique Razon, also know in the business world as “EKR” runs the newest glitzy casino hotel Solaire in the reclaimed Entertainment City. After bringing his port terminal operations to other parts of the globe, this middle-aged business magnate is scouting for local and overseas expansion opportunities for his gaming-hotel. Imagine the local and international employment it will generate for his growing and expanding conglomerates. According to, based on Forbes magazine’s listing of richest people in the country, the 52-year-old Razon was this year’s biggest gainer as his wealth surged by $2 billion to $3.6 billion with his investment in Bloomberry. He took over the International Container Terminal Services, Incorporated (ICTSI), the Philippine port-handling giant, at age 27, has built significant port terminal operations in Asia before expanding into Europe, North America, and the Middle East. He divested from the newspaper business after acquiring the shares of the Yuchengco family and Soriano group ten years ago to become the head of the Kamahalan Publishing Corporation and Kagitingan Printing Press, Inc. Lastly, he has a soft heart for players from the De La Salle University Green Archers and for which he offers scholarship grant named as “Enrique Razon Athletic Scholarship Endowment Fund.” 

Chot Reyes (Gilas national coach) - don't mess with Chot Reyes! His new book 11 Days in August recently called attention when it was launched at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to walk us through from first hand information about the hardship, success,  and inspiring journey of our country's best cagers Gilas Pilipinas - the country's premiere national basketball team. I knew Reyes has a big heart as I wrote in my blog ( when the classic game of David and Goliath in the hardcourt inspired millions of Pinoy hoops fans around the world as we won in the die or never game in FIBA Asia. The electrifying sea wave of basketball devotees cheered to their last breath in the intensifying game ever by Team Philippines against giant South Korea. This win made Gilas Pilipinas a true champ, a household name, and an inspiration to a country known as the basketball capital in the world in social media . Reyes, a proud alumnus of Ateneo de Manila University also pursued Masters in Business Administration at the Edinburgh Business School in Scotland, United Kingdom, is a key factor in leading the team Gilas Pilipinas to our long-lost desire to bring back the golden years of Philippine National Basketball Team. Please, bring more honor and glory to the country as you prepare your way to Spain! Big hearts can indeed move mountains. 

Erik Spoelstra (NBA winning coach) – he’s like the Pinoy rockstar in the National Basketball Association. He is a strategist in the basketball court, a real kingpin in the hard court for leading the successful win of his team in his first five seasons as head coach. He has guided Miami Heat to five consecutive playoff appearances including trips from 2011 to 2013 NBA Finals and winning back to back the Championship in 2012 and 2013, consecutively. He studied at a Jesuit high school in Oregon, received basketball scholarships when he reached college, and eventually attended University of Portland. His soft heart for the Philippines manifested when super typhoon Haiyan wrecked Visayas region and he organized friendly games to raise funds for the survivors of the disaster. His making big at NBA proves that mixed Filipino descent can excel in one of the biggest sports in the world and think big as a winning coach of basketball. Recently, Nat Geo featured a series of documentary about Filipinos’ love for the basketball game. We Pinoys have a soft heart for sports especially basketball. We bet, we revel, we cry, and we idolize our sports icons and we love the best games they strongly play. Sports is the unifying element in our complex Filipino society since it bridges any political and social divide.

Jessica Soho (broadcast journalist) – a phenomenal comedian maliciously attacked her in one concert via character assassination, but Jessica Soho is bigger than life. She gained more sympathy from the public and the comedian later on delivered a public apology after he was condemned for his actuations. But she said that hopefully his apology was done in good faith. She is a well-respected and multi-awarded broadcast journalist, a Peabody awardee, and media executive of the Kapuso station. Her State of the Nation flagship news program in GMA News TV is her triumph and defining moment this year as it opened more intelligent and participative delivery of news, views, opinion, and information. Her incisive analysis on exclusive coverage and comprehensive news of the day are presented with credibility. She is idolized by the youth as a consistent awardee of Anak TV and loved by Philippine media. Soho is a proud alumna of the University of the Philippines and a distinguished Pinay for her massive contributions to broadcast journalism and society as a whole. She is the first Filipina to win the British Fleet Journalism Award. In 2011, I included her in my list as one of Pinoy top thinkers, stating that she is probably the most-trusted female Filipino broadcast-journalist today. Filipinos from all walks of life listen to her stories and her insurmountable credibility cannot be stained by her counterparts (read part of my citation about her at

Filipino Taxpayers (genuine reformers) – the million people marchers have spoken! Last August, as I documented in my blog about the so called ‘The Grand Eyeball’ at, a spontaneous anti-corruption movement led by Filipino middle class converged through the power of the social media against greedy politicians who are misusing public funds are gaining waves of support as vigilant taxpayers outburst their sentiments in celebration of the National Heroes’ Day. Peoples from different walks of life or supposedly President Aquinos's bosses are disgusted by the rampant corruption and malversation of public funds by public officials. Because of this, PDAF has been decided unconstitutional by the judiciary and the Congress scraped the pork barrel! Truly, the Voice of the People is the Voice of God! In another entry in my blog about ‘Abolishing the Pork Barrel’ at, I insinuated that as a Filipino taxpayer, I am enraged by this perennial corrupt practice of our politicians. Filipinos for sure are also very angry. Politicians identified in the recent pork barrel scam were the forefront personalities who disrobed a corrupt and ousted chief justice. Where is ethics and morals of public service? Thanks to social media for empowering every Juan dela Cruz who has access to the Internet and to the media ninjas (read my article about media ninjas at, for their courage showed by myriads Filipino netizens of today who have the power to enter the realm of cyberspace! We have become more critical to social commentaries of national, regional, and global importance. Certainly, these potentials of empowerment will definitely aid us to converge together and present real stories in the information superhighway. It is our mission to foster citizen journalism in our deterritorialized world.

Amando Tetangco Jr (BSP governor) – there’s a reason to celebrate why the Philippines sits on top of the ASEAN economy today. One of the men behind this success is the incumbent governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. He is the first BSP governor to have served two administrations. From a career central banker to a top honcho of the BSP, Tetangco graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with AB Economics cum laude and MA in Public Policy and Administration from University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA. He has been named Central Bank Governor of the Year for Asia by the financial magazine Emerging Markets in 2012 and Central Banker of the Year for Asia-Pacific in 2013 by the Banker of The Financial Times Ltd. He wanted to become a doctor and then lawyer but he turned out to become a successful banker. This manifestation of accomplishments is a living testament that the international community affirms and recognizes his skills in conducting monetary policy and bank regulation. In a report by, the BSP under his leadership has issued several bank regulatory reforms, such as on risk management, capitalization increases, and asset quality, among others. On monetary-policy side, it has continued enhancing its modeling and strategies for managing inflation.
Jonathan Allen Yabut (Apprentice Asia winner) - he credited his success in the stressful yet awesome reality show of Apprentice Asia to his Filipino style of doing things – diskarte. It’s true that when he further elaborated this ambiguous concept there’s no exact translation of it. This is a uniquely Filipino attitude or philosophy to survive and solve any given situation or problem. In the show, Jonathan’s eloquent tongue in English language and uncompromising confidence in managing various challenges exuded his positive outlook and high intellect. Although, there are times in some episodes where his weaknesses apparently shown obvious, still he can refute intellectually his gaffes and stand up confident all throughout. Jonathan Yabut, an economics graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman, made our country proud as the first Asian apprentice! (Read my blog about his winning streak at As part of his prize, he now works as one of the managers of Malaysia’s tycoon Mr Fernandes’ Air Asia.  

Meagan Young (Miss World 2013) – when the Philippines rules the world! Indeed, the Philippines is now the center of gravity as the land of beautiful and smart women with beastly and strong Filipino men reaping success as best boxers in the world! Meagan carved history as the first Filipina to win the elusive crown of Miss World. Her sincerity and kindness buoyed her up to where she is now. This year affirmed that Filipina beauties and wit are world class and has a league of its own by topping and placing runners-up in this year’s biggest and prestigious beauty pageants. According to Yahoo! News 2013 Year in Review – three stunning Pinay beauty queens dominated spectacular titles. Leading the list is Meagan Young who won the Miss World in Indonesia, Mutya Johanna Datul who went home with the Miss Supranational crown in Belarus, and Bea Rose Santiago was crowned Miss International in Japan. Ariella Arida placed Miss Universe fourth runner up in Russia, Joanna Cindy Miranda made it to the top ten of Miss Tourism Queen International in China, and Annalie Forbest finished fourth in the Miss Grand International in Thailand (read news at It seems that Philippine candidate Angelee Claudett delos Reyes of Miss Earth organized in the country did not win the title but she was among in the top eight. And as we welcome the new year, the Philippines adds another beauty queen title holder when Angeli Dione Gomez crowned as Miss Tourism International in Malaysia succeeding a Pinay beauty and brains who won in the previous year. Going back to Meagan, as the reigning Miss World, she promised to become the best Miss World ever, and it seems her promise is paying off as she continuously promotes her mission to spread with sincerity the ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. She made several charity works for victims of a typhoon in her home province in Subic and organized fund raising for Haiyan survivors in London.       

Friday, December 13, 2013

Political Law: 2013 Bar Examination Questions


1. This Questionnaire contains FIFTEEN (15) pages including these Instructions pages. Check the number of pages and the page numbers at the upper right hand corner of each page of this Questionnaire and make sure it has the correct number of pages and their proper numbers.

There are TWELVE (12) Essay Questions numbered I to XII (with subquestions), and TWENTY (20) Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) numbered I to XX, to be answered within four (4) hours.

The essay portion contains questions that are worth 80% of the whole examination, while the MCQ portion contains questions worth20%.

2. Read each question very carefully and write your answers in your Bar Examination Notebook in the same order the questions are posed. Write your answers only at the front, not the back, page of every sheet in your Examination Notebook. Note well the allocated percentage points for each number, question, or sub-question. In your answers, use the numbering system in the questionnaire.

If the sheets provided in your Examination Notebook are not sufficient for your answers, use the back pages of every sheet of your Examination Notebook, starting at the back page of the first sheet and the back of the succeeding sheets thereafter.

3. Answer the Essay questions legibly, clearly, and concisely. Start each number on a separate page. An answer to a sub-question under the same number may be written continuously on the same page and the immediately succeeding pages until completed.

Your answer should demonstrate your ability to analyze the facts presented by the question, to select the material from the immaterial facts, and to discern the points upon which the question turns. It should show your knowledge and understanding of the pertinent principles and theories of law involved and their qualifications and limitations. It should demonstrate your ability to apply the law to the given facts, and to reason logically in a lawyer-like manner to a sound conclusion from the given premises.

A mere "Yes" or "No" answer without any corresponding explanation or discussion will not be given any credit. Thus, always briefly but fully explain your answers although the question does not expressly ask for an explanation. At the same time, remember that a complete explanation does not require that you volunteer information or discuss legal doctrines that are not necessary or pertinent to the solution to the problem. You do not need to re-write or repeat the question in your Examination Notebook.

4. MCQs are to be answered by writing in your Examination Notebook the capital letter (A, B, C, D, or E) corresponding to your chosen answer. The MCQ answers should begin in the page following the last page of your essay answers.

There is only one correct answer to every MCQ; choose the BEST answer from among the offered choices. Note that some MCQs may need careful analysis both of the questions and the choices offered.
5. Make sure you do not write your name or any extraneous note/s or distinctive marking/s on your Examination Notebook that can serve as an identifying mark/s (such as names that are not in the given questions, prayers, or private notes to the Examiner).

Writing, leaving or making any distinguishing or identifying mark in the Examination Notebook is considered cheating and can disqualify you for the Bar examinations.

You can use the questionnaire for notes you may wish/need to write during the examination.

2013 Bar Examinations



In the last quarter of 2012, about 5,000 container vans of imported goods intended for the Christmas Season were seized by agents of the Bureau of Customs. The imported goods were released only on January 10,2013. A group of importers got together and filed an action for damages before the Regional Trial Court of Manila against the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs.

The Bureau of Customs raised the defense of immunity from suit and, alternatively, that liability should lie with XYZ Corp. which the Bureau had contracted for the lease of ten (10) high powered van cranes but delivered only five (5) of these cranes, thus causing the delay in its cargo-handling operations. It appears that the Bureau, despite demand, did not pay XYZ Corp. the Php 1.0 Million deposit and advance rental required under their contract.

(A) Will the action by the group of importers prosper? (5%)
(B) Can XYZ Corp. sue the Bureau of Customs to collect rentals for the delivered cranes? (5'%)


While Congress was in session, the President appointed eight acting Secretaries. A group of Senators from the minority bloc questioned the validity of the appointments in a petition before the Supreme Court on the ground that while Congress is in session, no appointment that requires confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, can be made without the latter's consent, and that an undersecretary should instead be designated as Acting Secretary.

Should the petition be granted? (5%)


A robbery with homicide had taken place and Lito, Badong and Rolliewere invited for questioning based on the information furnished by a neighbor that he saw them come out of the victim's house at about the time of the robbery/killing. The police confronted the three with this and other information they had gathered, and pointedly accused them of committing the crime.

Lito initially resisted, but eventually broke down and admitted his participation in the crime. Elated by this break and desirous of securing a written confession soonest, the police called City Attorney Juan Buan to serve as the trio's counsel and to advise them about their rights during the investigation.

Badong and Rollie, weakened in spirit by Lito's early admission, likewise admitted their participation. The trio thus signed a joint extra-judicial confession which served as the main evidence against them at their trial. They were convicted based on their confession.

Should the judgment of conviction be affirmed or reversed on appeal? (5%)


Congress enacted a law providing for trial by jury for those charged with crimes or offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. The law provides for the qualifications of members of the jury, the guidelines for the bar and bench for their selection, the manner a trial by jury shall operate, and the procedures to be followed.

Is the law constitutional? (6%)


As a leading member of the Lapiang Mandirigma in the House of Representatives, you were tasked by the party to initiate the moves to impeach the President because he entered into an executive agreement with the US Ambassador for the use of the former Subic Naval Base by the US Navy, for free, i.e., without need to pay rent nor any kind of fees as a show of goodwill to the U.S. because of the continuing harmonious RP-US relations.

Cite at least two (2) grounds for impeachment and explain why you chose them. (6%)


Congress passed Republic Act No. 7711 to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In a petition filed with the Supreme Court, Anak Ti Ilocos, an association of Ilocano professionals, argued that Republic Act No. 7711discarded the definition of the Philippine territory under the Treaty of Paris and in related treaties; excluded the Kalayaan Islands and the Scarborough Shoals from the Philippine Archipelagic baselines; and converted internal waters into archipelagic waters.

Is the petition meritorious? (6%)


As he was entering a bar, Arnold -who was holding an unlit cigarette in his right hand -was handed a match box by someone standing near the doorway. Arnold unthinkingly opened the matchbox to light his cigarette and as he did so, a sprinkle of dried leaves fell out, which the guard noticed. The guard immediately frisked Arnold, grabbed the matchbox, and sniffed its contents. After confirming that the matchbox contained marijuana, he immediately arrested Arnold and called in the police.

At the police station, the guard narrated to the police that he personally caught Arnold in possession of dried marijuana leaves. Arnold did not contest the guard's statement; he steadfastly remained silent and refused to give any written statement. Later in court, the guard testified and narrated the statements he gave the police over Arnold's counsel's objections. While Arnold presented his own witnesses to prove that his possession and apprehension had been set-up, he himself did not testify.

The court convicted Arnold, relying largely on his admission of the charge by silence at the police investigation and during trial.

From the constitutional law perspective, was the court correct in its ruling? (6%)


Bobby, an incoming third year college student, was denied admission by his university, a premiere educational institution in Manila, after he failed in three (3) major subjects in his sophomore year. The denial of admission was based on the university's rules and admission policies.

Unable to cope with the depression that his non-admission triggered, Bobby committed suicide. His family sued the school for damages, citing the school's grossly unreasonable rules that resulted in the denial of admission. They argued that these rules violated Bobby's human rights and the priority consideration that the Constitution gives to the education of the youth.

You are counsel for the university. Explain your arguments in support of the university's case. (6%)


Conrad is widely known in the neighborhood as a drug addict. He is also suspected of being a member of the notorious "Akyat-Condo Gang" that has previously broken into and looted condominium units in the area.

Retired Army Colonel Sangre – who is known as an anti-terrorism fighter who disdained human and constitutional rights and has been nicknamed "terror of Mindanao" –is now the Head of Security of Capricorn Land Corporation, the owner and developer of Sagittarius Estates where a series of robberies has recently taken place.

On March l, 2013, Conrad informed his mother, Vannie, that uniformed security guards had invited him for a talk in their office but he refused to come. Later that day, however, Conrad appeared to have relented; he was seen walking into the security office flanked by two security guards. Nobody saw him leave the office afterwards.

Conrad did not go home that night and was never seen again. The following week and after a week-long search, Vannie feared the worst because of Col. Sangre's reputation. She thus reported Conrad's disappearance to the police. When nothing concrete resulted from the police investigation, Vannie – at the advice of counsel - f1led a petition for a writ of amparo to compel Col. Sangre and the Sagittarius Security Office to produce Conrad and to hold them liable and responsible for Conrad's disappearance.

(A) Did Vannie's counsel give the correct legal advice? (6%)
(B) If the petition would prosper, can Col. Sangre be held liable and/or responsible for Conrad's disappearance? (6%)


The Ambassador of the Republic of Kafiristan referred to you for handling, the case of the Embassy's Maintenance Agreement with CBM, a private domestic company engaged in maintenance work. The Agreement binds CBM, for a defined fee, to maintain the Embassy's elevators, air-conditioning units and electrical facilities. Section 10 of the Agreement provides that the Agreement shall be governed by Philippine laws and that any legal action shall be brought before the proper court of Makati. Kafiristan terminated the Agreement because CBM allegedly did not comply with their agreed maintenance standards.

CBM contested the tennination and filed a complaint againstKafiristan before the Regional Trial Court of Makati. The Ambassador wants you to file a motion to dismiss on the ground of state immunity from suit and to oppose the position that under Section 10 of the Agreement, Kafiristan expressly waives its immunity from suit.

Under these facts, can the Embassy successfully invoke immunity from suit? (6%)


In her interview before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC),Commissioner Annie Amorsolo of the National Labor Relations Commission claims that she should be given credit for judicial service because as NLRC Commissioner, she has the rank of a Justice of the Court of Appeals; she adjudicates cases that are appealable to the Court of Appeals; she is assigned car plate No. 10; and she is, by law, entitled to the rank, benefits and privileges of a Court of Appeals Justice.

If you are a member of the JBC, would you give credit to this explanation? (6%)


In the May 2013 elections, the Allied Workers' Group of the Philippines (AWGP), representing land-based and sea-based workers in the Philippines and overseas, won in the party list congressional elections. Atty. Abling, a labor lawyer, is its nominee.

As part of the party's advocacy and services, Congressman Abling engages in labor counseling, particularly for local workers with claims against their employers and for those who need representation in collective bargaining negotiations with employers. When labor cases arise, AWGP enters its appearance in representation of the workers and the Congressman makes it a point to be there to accompany the workers, although a retained counsel also formally enters his appearance and is invariably there. Congressman Abling largely takes a passive role in the proceedings although he occasionally speaks to supplement the retained counsel's statements. It is otherwise in CBA negotiations where he actively participates.

Management lawyers, feeling that a congressman should not actively participate in cases before labor tribunals and before employers because of the influence a congressman can wield, filed a disbarment case against the Congressman before the Supreme Court for his violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for breach of trust, in relation particularly with the prohibitions on legislators under the Constitution.

Is the cited ground for disbarment meritorious? (6%)


I. The equal protection clause is violated by __________. (1%)

(A) a law prohibiting motorcycles from plying on limited access highways.
(B) a law granting Value Added Tax exemption to electric cooperatives that sells electricity to the "homeless poor."
(C) a law providing that a policeman shall be preventively suspended until the termination of a criminal case against him.
(D) a law providing higher salaries to teachers in public schools who are "foreign hires."
(E) a law that grants rights to local Filipino workers but denies the same rights to overseas Filipino workers.

II. Offended by the President's remarks that the Bureau of Customs is a pit of misfits and the corrupt, the Bureau of Customs Employees Association composed of 3,000 workers seeks your legal advice on how best to protest what it views to be the President's baseless remarks.

A prudent legal advice is that __________. (1%)

(A) employees can go on mass leave of absence for one week
(B) employees can march and rally at Mendiola every Monday
(C) employees can barricade the gates of the Port of Manila at South Harbor and call for the resignation of the incumbent Commissioner of Customs
(D) employees can wear black arm bands and pins with the word "UNFAIR" inscribed
(E) None of the above can legally be done.

III. Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1234 requiring all candidates for public offices to post an election bond equivalent to the one (1) year salary for the position for which they are candidates. The bond shall be forfeited if the candidates fail to obtain at least 10% of the votes cast.

Is Republic Act No. 1234 valid? (1%)

(A) It is valid as the bond is a means of ensuring fair, honest, peaceful and orderly elections.
(B) It is valid as the bond requirement ensures that only candidates with sufficient means and who cannot be corrupted, can runfor public office.
(C) It is invalid as the requirement effectively imposes a property qualification to run for public office.
(D) It is invalid as the amount of the surety bond is excessive and unconscionable.
(E) It is valid because it is a reasonable requirement; the Constitution itself expressly supports the accountability of public officers.

IV. What is the legal effect of decisions of the International Court of Justice in cases submitted to it for resolution? (1%)

(A) The decision is binding on other countries in similar situations.
(B) The decision is not binding on any country, even the countries that are parties to the case.
(C) The decision is binding only on the parties but only with respect to that particular case.
(D) The decision is not binding on the parties and is only advisory.
(E) The binding effect on the parties depends on their submission agreement.

V. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the exclusive economic zone refers to an area. (1%)
(A) that is at least 100 miles from the baselines from which the outer limit of the territorial sea is measured
(B) that is at least 200 miles but not to exceed 300 miles from the baselines from which the outer limit of the territorial sea is measured
(C) beyond and adjacent to a country's territorial sea which cannot go beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the outer limit of the territorial sea is measured
(D) that can go beyond 3 nautical miles but cannot extend 300 nautical miles from the baselines from which the outer limit of the territorial sea is measured
(E) None of the above.

VI. A child born under either the 1973 or the 1987 Constitution, whose father or mother is a Filipino citizen at the time of his birth, is __________. (1%)

(A) not a Filipino citizen as his father and mother must both be Filipino citizens at the time of his birth
(B) not a Filipino citizen if his mother is a Filipino citizen but his father is not, at the time of his birth
(C) a Filipino citizen no matter where he or she may be born
(D) a Filipino citizen provided the child is born in the Philippines
(E) a Filipino citizen if he or she so elects upon reaching the age of 21
VII. Who has control of the expenditure of public funds? (1%)

(A) The Office of the President through the Department of Budget and Management.
(B) The House of Representatives from where all appropriation bills emanate.
(C) The Senate through its Committee on Finance.
(D) The Congress of the Republic of the Philippines.
(E) Both the members of Congress and the President acting jointly, if so provided by the General Appropriations Act.

VIII. May the power of cities to raise revenues be limited by an executive order of the President? (1%)
(A) Yes, because local government units are under the administrative control of the President through the Department of Interior and Local Government.
(B) No, because local government units now enjoy full local fiscal autonomy.
(C) No, because only limitations established by Congress can define and limit the powers of local governments.
(D) Yes, because the President has the power and authority to impose reasonable restrictions on the power of cities to raise revenues.
(E) Yes, if so provided in a city's charter.

IX. The provision under the Constitution -that any member who took no part, dissented, or inhibited from a decision or resolution must state the reason for his dissent or non-participation - applies __________. (1%)

(A) only to the Supreme Court
(B) to both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals
(C) to the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan
(D) to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals
(E) to all collegial judicial and quasi-judicial adjudicatory bodies

X. Choose the least accurate statement about the independence guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution to the following constitutional bodies: (1%)
(A) The Constitution guarantees the COMELEC decisional and institutional independence similar to that granted to theJudiciary.
(B) All bodies labeled as "independent" by the Constitution enjoyfiscal autonomy as an attribute of their independence.
(C) Not all bodies labeled as "independent" by the Constitution were intended to be independent from the Executive branch of government.
(D) The Constitution guarantees various degrees of independence from the other branches of government when it labels bodies as "independent".
(E) The COMELEC, the COA, and the CSC enjoy the same degree of independence.

XI. At the Senate impeachment trial of Justice Pablo P. San Quintin, Hon. Emilio A. Tan, Congressman and Impeachment Panel Manager, wrote the Supreme Court requesting that the prosecutors be allowed to examine thecourt records of Stewards Association of the Philippines, Inc. (SAP!) v. Filipinas Air, et al., G.R. No. 987654, a case that is still pending. The High Court __________. (1%)
(A) may grant the request by reason of inter-departmental courtesy
(B) may grant the request as the records of the Filipinas Air case are public records
(C) should deny the request since records of cases that are pending for decision are privileged except only for pleadings, orders and resolutions that are available to the public
(D) should deny the request because it violates the Court's independence and the doctrine of separation of powers
(E) should grant the request because of the sui generis nature of the power of impeachment, provided that the Bill of Rights is not violated.

XII. Mr. Sinco sued the government for damages. After trial, the court ruled in his favor and awarded damages amounting to P50 million against the government. To satisfy the judgment against the government, which valid option is available to Mr. Sinco? ( 1%)

(A) Garnish the government funds deposited at the Land Bank.
(B) File a claim with the Commission on Audit (COA) pursuant to Commonwealth Act 327, as amended by Presidential Decree1445.
(C) Make representations with the Congress to appropriate the amount to satisfy the judgment.
(D) File a petition for mandamus in court to compel Congress to appropriate P50 million to satisfy the judgment.
(E) Proceed to execute the judgment as provided by the Rules of Court because the State allowed itself to be sued.

XIII. Which of the following provisions of the Constitution does not confer rights that can be enforced in the courts but only provides guidelines for legislative or executive action? (l%)
(A) The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy.
(B) The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.
(C) The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.
(D) The right of the people to information on matters. of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
(E) All the above only provide guidelines and are not self-executing.

XIV. The President entered into an executive agreement with Vietnam for the supply to the Philippines of animal feeds not to exceed 40,000 tons in any one year. The Association of Animal Feed Sellers of the Philippines questioned the executive agreement for being contrary to R.A. 462 which prohibits the importation of animal feeds from Asian countries. Is the challenge correct? (1%)

(A) Yes, the executive agreement is contrary to an existing domestic law.
(B) No, the President is solely in charge of foreign relations and all his actions in this role form part of the law of the land.
(C) No, international agreements are sui generis and stand independently of our domestic laws.
(D) Yes, the executive agreement is actually a treaty which does not take effect without ratification by the Senate.
(E) Yes, the challenge is correct because there is no law empowering the President to undertake the importation.

XV. The separation of Church and State is most clearly violated when __________. (1%)

(A) the State funds a road project whose effect is to make a church more accessible to its adherents
(B) the State declares the birthplace of a founder of a religious sect as a national historical site
(C) the State expropriates church property in order to construct an expressway that, among others, provides easy access to the Church's main cathedral
(D) the State gives vehicles to bishops to assist them in church-related charitable projects
(E) the State allows prayers in schools for minor children without securing the prior consent of their parents

XVI. Patricio was elected member of the House of Representative in the May 2010 Elections. His opponent Jose questioned Patricio's victory before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and later with the Supreme Court.

In a decision promulgated in November 2011, the Court ruled in Jose's favor; thus, Patricio was ousted from his seat in Congress. Within a year from that decision, the President can appoint Patricio __________. (1%)
(A) only as a member of the board of directors of any government owned and controlled corporation
(B) only as a deputy Ombudsman
(C) only as a Commissioner of the Civil Service Commission
(D) only as Chairman of the Commission on Elections
(E) to any position as no prohibition applies to Patricio

XVII. Senator GSC proposed a bill increasing excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. The generated incremental revenues shall be used for the universal health care program for all Filipinos and for tobacco farmers' livelihood. After the Senate passed the bill on third reading, it was transmitted to the House of Representatives which approved the bill in toto. The President eventually signed it into law. Atty. JFC filed a petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the constitutionality of the new law.

Is the law constitutional? (1%)

(A) The law is constitutional because it is for a public purpose and has duly satisfied the three-readings-on-separate-days rule in both Houses.
(B) The law is unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution; it is limited only to alcohol and liquor products.
(C) It is constitutional because of the Enrolled Bill Theory.
(D) It is constitutional because it is valid in form and substance and complied with the required lawmaking procedures.(E) None of the above is correct.

XVIII. Which of the following statements is correct? (1%)

(A) The President, with the concurrence of the Monetary Board, can guarantee a foreign loan on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines.
(B) Congress may, by law, provide limitations on the President's power to contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines.
(C) In order to be valid and effective, treaties and executive agreements must be concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.
(D) The President shall, at the end of every quarter of the calendar year, submit to Congress a complete report of the loans contracted or guaranteed by the Government or government-owned and controlled corporations.
(E) All the above choices are defective in some respects.

XIX. Candida has been administratively charged of immorality for openly living with Manuel, a married man. Candida argues that her conjugal arrangement with Manuel fully conforms with their religious beliefs and with the teachings of their church.

In resolving whether Candida should be administratively penalized, which is the best test to apply? (1%)

(A) Clear and Present Danger Test
(B) Compelling State Interest Test
(C) Balancing of interests Test
(D) Conscientious Objector Test
(E) Dangerous Tendency Test

XX. Rafael questioned the qualifications of Carlos as congressman of the Third District of Manila on the ground that Carlos is a citizen of the USA. The decision disqualifying Carlos for being a US citizen came only in March 2010, i.e., after the adjournment of the session of Congress on the 3'd year of the position's three-year term.

What was Carlos' status during his incumbency as congressman? (1%)

(A) He was a de jure officer, having been duly elected and proclaimed.
(B) He was not a public officer because he effectively was not entitled to be a congressman.
(C) He was a de jure officer since he completed the service of his term before he was disqualified.
(D) He was a de facto officer since he had served and was only disqualified later.
(E) He neither possesses de jure nor de facto status as such determination is pointless.


Online Source: The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation