"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

Twittering on the Hayden/Katrina scandal and charter change

Bottom Line
By Marvin Bionat

If you haven't heard of Twitter yet, it's time to peek out of your cave. Like Facebook, it's a free Internet-based social networking service that allows its users to exchange quick updates known as tweets. Unlike blogs or e-mails, messages are limited to 140 characters, so there are no long essays to bore others. The instant character of the service has made it the new Internet sensation—fitting in nicely with today's instant-this, instant-that culture. According to Nielsen, Twitter is growing at a 1,382 percent clip, compared to 228 percent for Facebook.


Despite all the hoopla (this week's cover of Time magazine has the image of an iPhone with a tweet in it), I can't get myself to open a Twitter account. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres now have more than a million subscribers (or followers receiving their every tweet). Perhaps I don't want to expose what will probably be a close to absolute lack of followership. Even "Jose Rizal"
(http://twitter.com/joserizal1861) is not exactly drawing crowds. His first (could be his last) tweet: "Ang hindi lumingon sa kanyang pinanggalingan ay may stiff neck." (Loose translation: "Those who fail to look back to where they came from have stiff necks.") So far he has only one follower, and he (being "Jose Rizal") probably thinks he's too big to be following anybody.

So why this piece on Twitter when I'm a reluctant user? Well, I'd like to test the idea of issuing some tweets without the responsibility of having to follow and be followed by others. Tweets are supposed to answer one simple question: What are you doing? I think it's a little presumptuous to expect people to be constantly interested in what I'm up to. Imagine how petty messages can get:
"Breakfast time—I just threw in some walnuts into my cereal bowl. Yummy!" And people are supposed to care about that? If I were to send tweets to people crazy enough to follow me, I'd stick to "news tweetisms" akin to Larry King's old blah-blah, dot-dot-dot columns for USA Today (he wrote a hodgepodge column, with just a couple of sentences and some clauses comprising each paragraph).

Here are my few initial attempts at news tweets, specifically on the red-hot Hayden Kho and Katrina Halili sex scandal (if you haven't heard of this case, Google "Kho scandal," and have fun sifting through over 2.5 million results) and on the rearing, again, of the ugly head of charter change (cha-cha):

Man jailed for stealing sex pics of Chinese star Edison Chen: How is Hayden's case different? Edison's partners posed; Katrina was clueless.

* * *

Case against Hayden not clear-cut: If video was stolen, his guilt was in recording without Katrina's consent; no known law against that.

* * *

Prosecution argues that Katrina's humiliation and depression fall under violence against women. Key question: Who leaked the video?

* * *

Hayden will claim he's a victim too. Again: Who "stole" and posted the video? Will Congress then criminalize recording without consent?

* * *

If Hayden was complicit in video leak, he's in big trouble. His likely strategy is to drag the case and hope for a settlement.

* * *

FVR in his time gained respect for giving up on his charter change proposal. GMA's bull-headed push is becoming really exasperating.

* * *

A trend in the Third World: vast tracks of land being sold or leased by local leaders to foreign countries—huge payoffs suspected.

* * *

Aside from holding on to power, huge rent-seeking opportunities are also a possible motive behind charter change proposals.

* * *

GMA got away with all her past shenanigans, but ramming through charter change to stay in power is the straw that'll break the camel's back.

* * *

If she knows what's good for her (i.e., avoid a forced ouster), GMA will drop cha-cha and focus on helping her candidates win in 2010.

* * *

Whew! And I thought this would be a quick column to write. It's actually much harder to capture thoughts when you have to do it in less the 140 characters, so the tweets above required way more time than I expected; so much for "instant" updates. Mark Twain once said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." That's so true, unless of course all you tweet about is what you eat for breakfast.

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Marvin Bionat is the creator of PhilippineUpdate.com, a news and views site that has served as a virtual platform that promotes various advocacies, including the political empowerment of overseas Filipinos and accountability in government. He wrote the National Bookstore bestseller How to Win (or Lose) in Philippine Elections (Anvil Publishing, 1998) and is now based in the U.S. working as an editor.

Read more articles by Marvin Bionat
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