Questions for the COMELEC source code review

Here are five questions I’d like answers to following the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) source code review that’s supposed to have started on October 1, 2015.

1) How are the Smartmatic vote counting machines built? What are the capabilities of the embedded processor? Does it run an embedded operating system, or is it running “bare metal” code?

2) Did COMELEC arrange that results of the source code review – importantly, findings of code defects that affect the integrity of system operation – get forwarded to the manufacturer for field software update?

3) Is there a way to verify that the version of firmware (loaded into processor flash memory) corresponds to the release version of the software being reviewed?

Another way to ask this question is this: Do the code audit teams have access to the compilers and firmware update tools used by the manufacturer, to install firmware binaries into the device? Note that if the VCMs are not field-reprogrammable, then the usefulness of findings of a code audit are extremely limited. If there are any serious defects and there is no way to update the firmware, then manual procedures need to be put in place to work around those defects.

Continue reading “Questions for the COMELEC source code review”

Enable Beaglebone Black LCD3 backlight dimming

To enable backlight dimming using the CircuitCo LCD3 cape, you need to connect the backlight boost circuit EN line to EHRPWM1A, by removing R126 and adding a 0R resistor (or blob of solder) to the pads for R123.

Then, you can issue the command

echo 38 > /sys/class/backlight/backlight/brightness

to control backlight intensity.


Using the LCD3 cape on Beaglebone Black with Linux kernel 3.16.1

The Beaglebone Black is a palm-sized computer for electronics hobbyists, designed by Gerald Coley, charter member of  Development is supported by an open source community, with the help of Texas Instruments (which manufactures the BBB’s embedded MPU, the AM3358).

If you’ve been struggling to get the Beaglebone LCD3 cape working with the mainstream Linux kernel releases from, the first thing you need to know is that it can be done.  The key to making this work is to understand that dynamic cape loading isn’t yet supported in the mainline tree (but see Robert C. Nelson’s guide at for a guide to building a special branch that does support dynamic cape load and unload.  Kernel 3.8+ works with the LCD3 cape).  There are a lot of people still working on cleaning up the code to meet kernel maintainers’ criteria for acceptance.  Until that happens, we’ll have to make do by cobbling together a custom devicetree source file to support devices which don’t yet run out of the box, using the mainline kernel source.

What works

  • Resistive touch screen using the AM3358 A/D converters
  • All five GPIO user buttons
  • GPIO-driven user LED
  • Backlight
  • And, of course, the TFT LCD itself

I’ll assume that you’re able to compile a Linux kernel, and have got around to doing so a few times for your BBB.  These instructions apply to the stable Linux kernel 3.16.1, but should be straightforward to apply to other (recent) releases which support the Direct Rendering Manager interfaces and ARM device trees.

I’d recommend that you install this newly compiled kernel onto an SD card filesystem, rather than use the BBB’s onboard eMMC storage.  Be warned that the kernel configuration file I’ve provided with this guide is taken from my own working system, which I use as a router – there’s a lot of firewall, bridging, etc., other networking-related modules built (and built-in) which may not be suitable for general use.


  • Power down and detach the LCD3 cape from your BBB.
  • Fetch and unpack a copy of the 3.16.1 stable kernel from
  • Apply this patch to modify arch/arm/boot/dts/am335x-boneblack.dts and arch/arm/boot/dts/am335x-bone-common.dtsi, or fetch them from the links indicated.   You’d typically do cd linux-3.16.1 ; patch -Np1 ../lcd3-support-3.16.1.patch to apply this patch.
  • Copy this kernel configuration file over into the kernel directory tree root.
  • Run make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-angstrom-linux-gnueabi- LOADADDR=0x80008000 uImage dtbs, etc. to build the kernel.  Alternately, if you’ve set up an in situ build environment on your BBB, you can copy this build script into the kernel directory tree root and run ./  The script starts a complete build process starting with make menuconfig, to create a uImage-structured kernel and associated kernel modules.
  • Copy arch/arm/boot/dts/am335x-boneblack.dtb into the correct location for your BBB.
  • Restart your BBB to confirm that the kernel works for you.  You’ll want to take a look at the output of dmesg to check which devices were initialized.
  • Power off, and mount the LCD3 cape.
  • Power up.

Under the hood

The provided patch simply enables a number of device tree nodes, representing devices on the ARM system-on-a-chip (SOC).  The nodes that need to be exposed to the kernel to use the LCD3 cape are 1) the onboard A/D converter, 2) the enhanced high-resolution pulse width modulation subsystem (ehrpwmss), used for controlling the panel backlight,  3) general-purpose I/Os used to drive the user LED and provide interrupt-driven key events.

Note that the provided kernel configuration script enables a number of kernel features, the most important of which are

  • Support for touch panels using the AM3358 onboard A/D,
  • User input drivers for GPIO keys, and for building the evbug module (to aid debugging key press events), and
  • OMAP DSS DRM support.

After rebooting your BBB with this new kernel, the LCD3 cape should become available as a framebuffer device /dev/fb0.

To find out more:

Reproductive Health Law (Republic Act 10354)

(Updated 12 April 2014)  Finally, clarity – and a partial it is a dubious “victory” for all of us, as the conservative Roman Catholic Church has fucked us all.  The RH Law has passed judicial review after legal challenge from Church conservatives.  Some sections of the law have been deemed unconstitutional, but the law as a whole preserves support for education, certain public services, and more. However, a closer reading of the sections struck from the law by Atty Carolina Ruiz Austria, indicate that:

  • The law as it stands today skews the balance of power toward health care providers and away from service users, the majority of whom will likely not have access to alternatives, by allowing providers irrational, religious “conscientious objector” refusal to offer RH care.
  • By removing the prohibition against service provider requirement for spousal consent, the law in fact diminishes the scope of married women’s freedom to avail of reproductive services.  It is an active diminution of women’s freedom by the State.
  • By removing prohibitions against public officers restricting provision of reproductive health services, it introduces a second irrational influence on policy implementation – political influence – the first being religious objection.

This is a searchable text version of Republic Act 10354, published at The Official Gazette, which was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court of the Philippines Tuesday, 8 April 2014.  Sections of the law deemed unconstitutional (please fetch the official Supreme Court media brief, here [PDF]) are highlighted in red:

S. No. 2865
H. No. 4244

Republic of the Philippines
Congress of the Philippines
Metro Manila
Fifteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-third day of July, two thousand twelve.

[ REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10354 ]


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Title. – This Act shall be known as “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012″.

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons including their right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, and the right to choose and make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood.

Pursuant to the declaration of State policies under Section 12, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the duty of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution and equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of women especially mothers in particular and of the people in general and instill health consciousness among them. The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society. The State shall likewise protect and advance the right of families in particular and the people in general to a balanced and healthful environment in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. The State also recognizes and guarantees the promotion and equal protection of the welfare and rights of children, the youth, and the unborn.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, gender equity, women empowerment and dignity as a health and human rights concern and as a social responsibility. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care.

The State recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family which in turn is the foundation of the nation. Pursuant thereto, the State shall defend:

(a) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood;

(b) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development;

(c) The right of the family to a family living wage and income; and

(d) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and relevant information and education thereon according to the priority needs of women, children and other underprivileged sectors, giving preferential access to those identified through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive health care, services and supplies for free. ■ •

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

The State shall also promote openness to life; Provided, That parents bring forth to the world only those children whom they can raise in a truly humane way.

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. – This Act declares the following as guiding principles:

(a) The right to make free and informed decisions, which is central to the exercise of any right, shall not be subjected to any form of coercion and must be fully guaranteed by the State, like the right itself;

(b) Respect for protection and fulfillment of reproductive health and rights which seek to promote the rights and welfare of every person particularly couples, adult individuals, women and adolescents;

(c) Since human resource is among the principal assets of the country, effective and quality reproductive health care services must be given primacy to ensure maternal and child health, the health of the unborn, safe delivery and birth of healthy children, and sound replacement rate, in line with the State’s duty to promote the right to health, responsible parenthood, social justice and full human development;

(d) The provision of ethical and medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable, non-abortifacient, effective and quality reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially those of women, the poor, and the marginalized, and shall be incorporated as a component of basic health care;

(e) The State shall promote and provide information and access, without bias, to all methods of family planning, including effective natural and modern methods which have been proven medically safe, legal, non-abortifacient, and effective in accordance with scientific and evidence-based medical research standards such as those registered and approved by the FDA for the poor and marginalized as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization: Provided, That the State shall also provide funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning, especially the Billings Ovulation Method, consistent with the needs of acceptors and their religious convictions;

(f) The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable individuals and couples to have the number of children they desire with due consideration to the health, particularly of women, and the resources available and affordable to them and in accordance with existing laws, public morals and their religious convictions: Provided, That no one shall be deprived, for economic reasons, of the rights to have children; (2) achieve equitable allocation and utilization of resources; (3) ensure effective partnership among national government, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector in the design, implementation, coordination, integration, monitoring and evaluation of people-centered programs to enhance the quality of life and environmental protection; (4) conduct studies to analyze demographic trends including demographic dividends from sound population policies towards sustainable human development in keeping with the principles of gender equality, protection of mothers and children, born and unborn and the promotion and protection of women’s reproductive rights and health; and (5) conduct scientific studies to determine the safety and efficacy of alternative medicines and methods for reproductive health care development;

(g) The provision of reproductive health care, information and supplies giving priority to poor beneficiaries as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization must be the primary responsibility of the national government consistent with its obligation to respect, protect and promote the right to health and the right to life;

(h) The State shall respect individuals’ preferences and choice of family planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments;

(i) Active participation by nongovernment organizations (NGOs), women’s and people’s organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, the religious sector and communities is crucial to ensure that reproductive health and population and development policies, plans, and programs will address the priority needs of women, the poor, and the marginalized;

(j) While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortive complications and all other complications arising from pregnancy, labor and delivery and related issues shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner in accordance with law and medical ethics;

(k) Each family shall have the right to determine its ideal family size: Provided, however, That the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information on all aspects of family life, including reproductive health and responsible parenthood, in order to make that determination;

(l) There shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate is incidental to the advancement of reproductive health;

(m) Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population and development;

(n) The resources of the country must be made to serve the entire population, especially the poor, and allocations thereof must be adequate and effective: Provided, That the life of the unborn is protected;

(o) Development is a multi-faceted process that calls for the harmonization and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized; and

(p) That a comprehensive reproductive health program addresses the needs of people throughout their life cycle.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms. – For the purpose of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

(a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that induces abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb upon determination of the FDA.

(b) Adolescent refers to young people between the ages of ten (10) to nineteen (19) years who are in transition from childhood to adulthood.

(c) Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications being provided by a health facility or professional to include the following services: administration of parenteral oxytocic drugs, administration of dose of parenteral anticonvulsants, administration of parenteral antibiotics, administration of maternal steroids for preterm labor, performance of assisted vaginal deliveries, removal of retained placental products, and manual removal of retained placenta. It also includes neonatal interventions which include at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, provision of warmth, and referral, blood transfusion where possible.

(d) Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications as in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care plus the provision of surgical delivery (caesarian section) and blood bank services, and other highly specialized obstetric interventions. It also includes emergency neonatal care which includes at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, treatment of neonatal sepsis infection, oxygen support, and antenatal administration of (maternal) steroids for threatened premature delivery.

(e) Family planning refers to a program which enables couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and to have access to a full range of safe, affordable, effective, non-abortifacient modem natural and artificial methods of planning pregnancy.

(f) Fetal and infant death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of fetal and infant death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(g) Gender equality refers to the principle of equality between women and men and equal rights to enjoy conditions in realizing their full human potentials to contribute to, and benefit from, the results of development, with the State recognizing that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights. It entails equality in opportunities, in the allocation of resources or benefits, or in access to services in furtherance of the rights to health and sustainable human development among others, without discrimination.

(h) Gender equity refers to the policies, instruments, programs and actions that address the disadvantaged position of women in society by providing preferential treatment and affirmative action. It entails fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men, and often requires women-specific projects and programs to end existing inequalities. This concept recognizes that while reproductive health involves women and men, it is more critical for women’s health.

(i) Male responsibility refers to the involvement, commitment, accountability and responsibility of males in all areas of sexual health and reproductive health, as well as the care of reproductive health concerns specific to men.

(j) Maternal death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of maternal death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(k) Maternal health refers to the health of a woman of reproductive age including, but not limited to, during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

(l) Modern methods of family planning refers to safe, effective, non-abortifacient and legal methods, whether natural or artificial, that are registered with the FDA, to plan pregnancy.

(m) Natural family planning refers to a variety of methods used to plan or prevent pregnancy based on identifying the woman’s fertile days.

(n) Public health care service provider refers to: (1) public health care institution, which is duly licensed and accredited and devoted primarily to the maintenance and operation of facilities for health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals suffering from illness, disease, injury, disability or deformity, or in need of obstetrical or other medical and nursing care; (2) public health care professional, who is a doctor of medicine, a nurse or a midwife; (3) public health worker engaged in the delivery of health care services; or (4) barangay health worker who has undergone training programs under any accredited government and NGO and who voluntarily renders primarily health care services in the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health board in accordance with the guideline’s promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH).

(o) Poor refers to members of households identified as poor through the NHTS-PR by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or any subsequent system used by the national government in identifying the poor.

(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

(q) Reproductive health care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by addressing reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include the following:

(1) Family planning information and services which shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective cycles to make them aware of when fertilization is highly probable, as well as highly improbable;

(2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;

(3) Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;

(4) Adolescent and youth reproductive health guidance and counseling;

(5) Prevention, treatment and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);

(6) Elimination of violence against women and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence;

(7) Education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;

(8) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;

(9) Male responsibility and involvement and men’s reproductive health;

(10) Prevention, treatment and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction;

(11) Reproductive health education for the adolescents; and

(12) Mental health aspect of reproductive health care.

(r) Reproductive health care program refers to the systematic and integrated provision of reproductive health care to all citizens prioritizing women, the poor, marginalized and those invulnerable or crisis situations.

(s) Reproductive health rights refers to the rights of individuals and couples, to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual health and reproductive health: Provided, however, That reproductive health rights do not include abortion, and access to abortifacients.

(t) Reproductive health and sexuality education refers to a lifelong learning process of providing and acquiring complete, accurate and relevant age- and development-appropriate information and education on reproductive health and sexuality through life skills education and other approaches.

(u) Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) refers to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other types of infections affecting the reproductive system.

(v) Responsible parenthood refers to the will and ability of a parent to respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children. It is likewise a shared responsibility between parents to determine and achieve the desired number of children, spacing and timing of their children according to their own family life aspirations, taking into account psychological preparedness, health status, sociocultural and economic concerns consistent with their religious convictions.

(w) Sexual health refers to a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

(x) Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) refers to any infection that may be acquired or passed on through sexual contact, use of IV, intravenous drug needles, childbirth and breastfeeding.

(y) Skilled birth attendance refers to childbirth managed by a skilled health professional including the enabling conditions of necessary equipment and support of a functioning health system, including transport and referral faculties for emergency obstetric care.

(z) Skilled health professional refers to a midwife, doctor or nurse, who has been educated and trained in the skills needed to manage normal and complicated pregnancies, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period, and in the identification, management and referral of complications in women and newborns.

(aa) Sustainable human development refers to bringing people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to the center of development process, the central purpose of which is the creation of an enabling environment in which all can enjoy long, healthy and productive lives, done in the manner that promotes their rights and protects the life opportunities of future generations and the natural ecosystem on which all life depends.

SEC. 5. Hiring of Skilled Health Professionals for Maternal Health Care and Skilled Birth Attendance. – The LGUs shall endeavor to hire an adequate number of nurses, midwives and other skilled health professionals for maternal health care and skilled birth attendance to achieve an ideal skilled health professional-to-patient ratio taking into consideration DOH targets: Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access to health care: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

For the purposes of this Act, midwives and nurses shall be allowed to administer lifesaving drugs such as, but not limited to, oxytocin and magnesium sulfate, in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH, under emergency conditions and when there are no physicians available: Provided, That they are properly trained and certified to administer these lifesaving drugs.

SEC. 6. Health Care Facilities. – Each LGU, upon its determination of the necessity based on well-supported data provided by its local health office shall endeavor to establish or upgrade hospitals and facilities with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care: Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall have the same level of access and shall not be neglected by providing other means such as home visits or mobile health care clinics as needed: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning. – All accredited public health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, which shall also include medical consultations, supplies and necessary and reasonable procedures for poor and marginalized couples having infertility issues who desire to have children: Provided, That family planning services shall likewise be extended by private health facilities to paying patients with the option to grant free care and services to indigents, except in the case of non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group, but they have the option to provide such full range of modern family planning methods: Provided, further, That these hospitals shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health facility which is conveniently accessible: Provided, finally, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344.

No person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial: Provided, That minors will not be allowed access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s except when the minor is already a parent or has had a miscarriage.

SEC. 8. Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review. – All LGUs, national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct an annual Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH. Such review should result in an evidence-based programming and budgeting process that would contribute to the development of more responsive reproductive health services to promote women’s health and safe motherhood.

SEC. 9. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning Supplies. – The National Drug Formulary shall include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective family planning products and supplies. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System (PNDFS) shall be observed in selecting drugs including family planning supplies that will be included or removed from the Essential Drugs List (EDL) in accordance with existing practice and in consultation with reputable medical associations in the Philippines. For the purpose of this Act, any product or supply included or to be included in the EDL must have a certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient.

These products and supplies shall also be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national hospitals: Provided, further, That the foregoing offices shall not purchase or acquire by any means emergency contraceptive pills, postcoital pills, abortifacients that will be used for such purpose and their other forms or equivalent.

SEC. 10. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies. – The DOH shall procure, distribute to LGUs and monitor the usage of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate local government bodies to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotments shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following:

(a) Number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children;

(b) Contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and

(c) Cost of family planning supplies.

Provided, That LGUs may implement its own procurement, distribution and monitoring program consistent with the overall provisions of this Act and the guidelines of the DOH.

SEC. 11. Integration of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Component in Anti-Poverty Programs. – A multidimensional approach shall be adopted in the implementation of policies and programs to fight poverty. Towards this end, the DOH shall implement programs prioritizing full access of poor and marginalized women as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization to reproductive health care, services, products and programs. The DOH shall provide such programs, technical support, including capacity building and monitoring.

SEC. 12. PhilHealth Benefits for Serious .and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions. – All serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications, and menopausal and post-menopausal-related conditions shall be given the maximum benefits, including the provision of Anti-Retroviral Medicines (ARVs), as provided in the guidelines set by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC).

SEC. 13. Mobile Health Care Service. – The national or the local government may provide each provincial, city, municipal and district hospital with a Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to its terrain, taking into consideration the health care needs of each LGU. The MHCS shall deliver health care goods and services to its constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, as well as disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers and adequately equipped with a wide range of health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by LGUs of provinces and highly urbanized cities.

SEC. 14. Age- and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. – The State shall provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents which shall be taught by adequately trained teachers informal and nonformal educational system and integrated in relevant subjects such as, but not limited to, values formation; knowledge and skills in self-protection against discrimination; sexual abuse and violence against women and children and other forms of gender based violence and teen pregnancy; physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; women’s rights and children’s rights; responsible teenage behavior; gender and development; and responsible parenthood: Provided, That flexibility in the formulation and adoption of appropriate course content, scope and methodology in each educational level or group shall be allowed only after consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials and other interest groups. The Department of Education (DepED) shall formulate a curriculum which shall be used by public schools and may be adopted by private schools.

SEC. 15. Certificate of Compliance. – No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on responsible parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

SEC. 16. Capacity Building of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs). – The DOH shall be responsible for disseminating information and providing training programs to the LGUs. The LGUs, with the technical assistance of the DOH, shall be responsible for the training of BHWs and other barangay volunteers on the promotion of reproductive health. The DOH shall provide the LGUs with medical supplies and equipment needed by BHWs to carry out their functions effectively: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision including the possible provision of additional honoraria for BHWs.

SEC. 17. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women. – Private and nongovernment reproductive healthcare service providers including, but not limited to, gynecologists and obstetricians, are encouraged to provide at least forty-eight (48) hours annually of reproductive health services, ranging from providing information and education to rendering medical services, free of charge to indigent and low-income patients as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization, especially to pregnant adolescents. The forty-eight (48) hours annual pro bono services shall be included as a prerequisite in the accreditation under the PhilHealth.

SEC. 18. Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). – The cities and municipalities shall endeavor that barriers to reproductive health services for PWDs are obliterated by the following:

(a) Providing physical access, and resolving transportation and proximity issues to clinics, hospitals and places where public health education is provided, contraceptives are sold or distributed or other places where reproductive health services are provided;

(b) Adapting examination tables and other laboratory procedures to the needs and conditions of PWDs;

(c) Increasing access to information and communication materials on sexual and reproductive health in braille, large print, simple language, sign language and pictures;

(d) Providing continuing education and inclusion of rights of PWDs among health care providers; and

(e) Undertaking activities to raise awareness and address misconceptions among the general public on the stigma and their lack of knowledge on the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of PWDs.

SEC. 19. Duties and Responsibilities. – (a) Pursuant to the herein declared policy, the DOH shall serve as the lead agency for the implementation of this Act and shall integrate in their regular operations the following functions:

(1) Fully and efficiently implement the reproductive health care program;

(2) Ensure people’s access to medically safe, non-abortifacient, legal, quality and affordable reproductive health goods and services; and

(3) Perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes of this Act.

(b) The DOH, in coordination with the PHIC, as may be applicable, shall:

(1) Strengthen the capacities of health regulatory agencies to ensure safe, high quality, accessible and affordable reproductive health services and commodities with the concurrent strengthening and enforcement of regulatory mandates and mechanisms;

(2) Facilitate the involvement and participation of NGOs and the private sector in reproductive health care service delivery and in the production, distribution and delivery of quality reproductive health and family planning supplies and commodities to make them accessible and affordable to ordinary citizens;

(3) Engage the services, skills and proficiencies of experts in natural family planning who shall provide the necessary training for all BHWs;

(4) Supervise and provide assistance to LGUs in the delivery of reproductive health care services and in the purchase of family planning goods and supplies; and

(5) Furnish LGUs, through their respective local health offices, appropriate information and resources to keep the latter updated on current studies and researches relating to family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

(c) The FDA shall issue strict guidelines with respect to the use of contraceptives, taking into consideration the side effects or other harmful effects of their use.

(d) Corporate citizens shall exercise prudence in advertising its products or services through all forms of media, especially on matters relating to sexuality, further taking into consideration its influence on children and the youth.

SEC. 20. Public Awareness. – The DOH and the LGUs shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multimedia-campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including, but not limited to, maternal health and nutrition, family planning and responsible parenthood information and services, adolescent and youth reproductive health, guidance and counseling and other elements of reproductive health care under Section 4(q).

Education and information materials to be developed and disseminated for this purpose shall be reviewed regularly to ensure their effectiveness and relevance.

SEC. 21. Reporting Requirements. – Before the end of April each year, the DOH shall submit to the President of the Philippines and Congress an annual consolidated report, which shall provide a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of its programs and those of other government agencies and instrumentalities and recommend priorities for executive and legislative actions. The report shall be printed and distributed to all national agencies, the LGUs, NGOs and private sector organizations involved in said programs.

The annual report shall evaluate the content, implementation, and impact of all policies related to reproductive health and family planning to ensure that such policies promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 22. Congressional Oversight Committee on Reproductive Health Act. – There is hereby created a Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) composed of five (5) members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives. The members from the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Senate President and the Speaker, respectively, with at least one (1) member representing the Minority.

The COC shall be headed by the respective Chairs of the Committee on Health and Demography of the Senate and the Committee on Population and Family Relations of the House of Representatives. The Secretariat of the COC shall come from the existing Secretariat personnel of the Senate and the House of Representatives committees concerned.

The COC shall monitor and ensure the effective implementation of this Act, recommend the necessary remedial legislation or administrative measures, and shall conduct a review of this Act every five (5) years from its effectivity. The COC shall perform such other duties and functions as may be necessary to attain the objectives of tins Act.

SEC. 23. Prohibited Acts. – The following acts are prohibited:

(a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:

(1) Knowingly withhold information or restrict the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe, non-abortifacient and effective family planning methods;

(2) Refuse to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of consent or authorization of the following persons in the following instances:

(i) Spousal consent in case of married persons: Provided, That in case of disagreement, the decision of the one undergoing the procedure shall prevail; and

(ii) Parental consent or that of the person exercising parental authority in the case of abused minors, where the parent or the person exercising parental authority is the respondent, accused or convicted perpetrator as certified by the proper prosecutorial office of the court. In the case of minors, the written consent of parents or legal guardian or, in their absence, persons exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required only in elective surgical procedures and in no case shall consent be required in emergency or serious cases as defined in Republic Act No. 8344; and

(3) Refuse to extend quality health care services and information on account of the person’s marital status, gender, age, religious convictions, personal circumstances, or nature of work: Provided, That the conscientious objection of a health care service provider based on his/her ethical or religious beliefs shall be respected; however, the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible: Provided, further, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344, which penalizes the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases;

(b) Any public officer, elected or appointed, specifically charged with the duty to implement the provisions hereof, who, personally or through a subordinate, prohibits or restricts the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning; or forces, coerces or induces any person to use such services; or refuses to allocate, approve or release any budget for reproductive health care services, or to support reproductive health programs; or shall do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program as mandated by this Act;

(c) Any employer who shall suggest, require, unduly influence or cause any applicant for employment or an employee to submit himself/herself to sterilization, use any modern methods of family planning, or not use such methods as a condition for employment, continued employment, promotion or the provision of employment benefits. Further, pregnancy or the number of children shall not be a ground for non-hiring or termination from employment;

(d) Any person who shall falsify a Certificate of Compliance as required in Section 15 of this Act; and

(e) Any pharmaceutical company, whether domestic or multinational, or its agents or distributors, which directly or indirectly colludes with government officials, whether appointed or elected, in the distribution, procurement and/or sale by the national government and LGUs of modern family planning supplies, products and devices.

SEC. 24. Penalties. – Any violation of this Act or commission of the foregoing prohibited acts shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) to One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the competent court: Provided, That, if the offender is a public officer, elected or appointed, he/she shall also suffer the penalty of suspension not exceeding one (1) year or removal and forfeiture of retirement benefits depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency.

If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. If the offender is a pharmaceutical company, its agent and/or distributor, their license or permit to operate or conduct business in the Philippines shall be perpetually revoked, and a fine triple the amount involved in the violation shall be imposed.

SEC. 25. Appropriations. – The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for reproductive health and natural and artificial family planning and responsible parenthood under the DOH and other concerned agencies shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act. Such additional sums necessary to provide for the upgrading of faculties necessary to meet BEMONC and CEMONC standards; the training and deployment of skilled health providers; natural and artificial family planning commodity requirements as outlined in Section 10, and for other reproductive health and responsible parenthood services, shall be included in the subsequent years’ general appropriations. The Gender and Development (GAD) funds of LGUs and national agencies may be a source of funding for the implementation of this Act.

SEC. 26. Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). – Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the DOH Secretary or his/her designated representative as Chairperson, the authorized representative/s of DepED, DSWD, Philippine Commission on Women, PHIC, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, League of Provinces, League of Cities, and League of Municipalities, together with NGOs, faith-based organizations, people’s, women’s and young people’s organizations, shall jointly promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act. At least four (4) members of the IRR drafting committee, to be selected by the DOH Secretary, shall come from NGOs.

SEC. 27. Interpretation Clause. – This Act shall be liberally construed to ensure the provision, delivery and access to reproductive health care services, and to promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 28. Separability Clause. – If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.

SEC. 29. Repealing Clause. – Except for prevailing laws against abortion, any law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation contrary to or is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act including Republic Act No. 7392, otherwise known as the Midwifery Act, is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.

SEC 30. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.



Speaker of the House

of Representatives


President of the Senate

This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2865 and House Bill No. 4244 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives on December 19, 2012.


Secretary General

House of Representatives


Secretary of the Senate

Approved: DEC 21 2012


President of the Philippines

Supreme Court Decision on the Cybercrime Act of 2012

This is a searchable text version of a Supreme Court press briefing, addressing the Court’s ruling on the Cybercrime Act of 2012, published 18 February 2014, and originally published by Philippine public news site

Press Briefing – 18 February 2014

The Supreme Court En Banc, today, acted on the following matters, among others, on its Agenda:

G.R. NO. 203335 (Jose Jesus M. Disini Jr., et al., petitioners, v. The Secretary Of Justice, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203329 (Louis Biraogo, petitioner, v. National Bureau of Investigation, et al., Respondents) I G.R. NO. 203306 (Alab Ng Mamamahayag [ALAMl, petitioner, v. The Office Of The President, at al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203359 (Senator Teofisto Dl. Guingona III, petitioner, v. The Executive Secretary, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203378 (Alexander Adonis, et al., petitioners, v. The Executive Secretary, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203391 (Hon. Raymond v. Palatino, Et Al., petitioners, V. Hon. Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203407 (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato M. Reyes Jr., et al., petitioners, v. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203440 (Melecio S. Sta. Maria, et al., petitioners, v. Hon. Paquito Ochoa Jr., et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203453 (National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), et al., petitioners, v. The Executive Secretary, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203454 (Paul Cornelius T. Castillo, et al., petitioners, v. The Honorable Secretary of Justice, et al., respondents) IG.R. NO. 203469 (Anthony Ian M. Cruz, et al., petitioners, v. His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203501 (Philippine Bar Association, Inc. (PBA), petitioner, v. His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203509 (Bayan Muna Representative Nery Colmenares Jr., petitioner, v. The Executive Secretary, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203515 (National Press Club of the Philippines, Inc., petitioner, v. Office of the President, et al., respondents) I G.R. NO. 203518 (Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance, et al., petitioners, v. The Executive Secretary, et al., respondents) I

The Court PARTIALLY GRANTED the reliefs sought in the 15 consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 10175 (The Cybercrime Protection Act of 2012).

The Court, through Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad (Velasco and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., no part), declared as UNCONSTITUTIONAL sections 4(c)(3)1, 12 and 193 of Republic Act No. 10175 (The Cybercrime Law) to be UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Section 4(c)(3) penalizes the posting of unsolicited commercial communications, section 12 authorizes the collection ‘or recording of traffic data in real-time while section 19 authorizes the Department of Justice to restrict or block access to suspected computer data.

The Court also ruled on the constitutionality of online libel when it further declared that section 4(c)(4), which penalizes online libel,4 is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL with respect to the original author of the post but UNCONSTITUTIONAL only where it penalizes those who simply receive the post or react to it.

It also declared that section 55, which penalizes anyone who aids or abets the commission of cybercrimes and anyone who attempts the. commission of cybercrimes, is NOT UNCONSTITUTIONAL in relation to the commission of the following cyber-offenses: (a) Illegal Access under §4(a)(1); (b) Illegal Interception under §4(a)(2); (c) Data Interference under §4(a)(3); (d) System Interference under §4(a)(4); (e) Misuse of Devices under §4(a)(5); (D Cyber squatting under §4(a)(6); (g) Computer-related fraud under §4(b)(1); (h) Computer-related identity theft under §4(b)(3); and (i) Cybersex under §4(c)(1), but UNCONSTITUTIONAL only in relation to the offenses punished by: [1] Child pornography under §4(c)(2); Unsolicited commercial communications under §4(c)(3);and online libel under §4(c)(4).

The Court also ruled that section 7,6 on prosecution under the Revised Penal Code as well as RA 10175, is UNCONSTITUTIONAL as far as it authorizes the prosecution of an offender under both section 4(c)(4) (online libel) and Article 3537 of the Revised Penal Code (libel), and also where it pertains to section §4(c)(2)8 (child pornography) for being in violation of the prohibition against double jeopardy.9



1 SEC. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. – The following acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act:


(c) Content-related Offenses:


(3) Unsolicited Commercial Communications. – The transrllissioll of cOlllmercial electronic witll the use of computer system which seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale products and communication services are prohibited unless:

(i) There is prior affirmative consent from the recipient; or

(ii) The primary intent of the communication is for service and/or’ administrative announcements from the sender to its existing users, subscribers or customers; or

(iii) The following conditions are present:

(aa) The commercial electronic comlllunication contains a simple, valid, and reliable way for the recipient to reject. receipt of furtller comlllercial electronic messages (opt-out) from the same source;

(bb) The commercial electronic communication does not purposely disguise the source of the electronic message; and

(cc) The commercial electronic comlllunication does not purposely include misleading information in any part of the message in order to induce the recipients to read the message.

2 SEC. 12. Real-Time Collection of Traffic Data. ~ Law enforcement authorities, with due cause, shall be authorized to collect or record by technical or electronic means traffic data in real-time (associated with specified communications transmitted by means of a computer system.

Traffic data refer only to the comlllunication’s origin, destination, route, time, date, size, duration, or type of underlying service, but not content, nor identities.

Ali other data to be collected or seized or disclosed will require a court warrant.

Service providers are required to cooperate and assist law enforcement authorities in the collection or recording of the above-stated information.

The court warrant required under this section shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and the showing: (I) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed, or is being committed, or is about to be committed: (2) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence that will be obtained is essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution of, or to the prevention of, any such crimes; and (3) that there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence.

3 SEC. 19. Restricting or Blocking Access to Computer Data. – When a computer data is prima facie found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the 001 shall issue all order to restrict or block access to such computer data.

4 SEC. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. Th~ following acts constitule the offense of cybcrcrime punishable under this Act:

(4) Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.

5 SEC. 5. Other Offenses. – The following acts shall also constitute an offense:

(a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.

(b) Attempt in the Commission ofCybercrime. – Any person who willfully attempts to commit any of tile offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.

6 SECTION 7.Liability Under Other Laws. – A prosecution undcr this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.

7 ARTICLE 353. Definition of Libel. – A libel is a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circulllstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.

8 Child Pornography. – The unlawful or prohibited acts defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, committed through a computer system: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be (1) one degree higher than that provided for in Republic Act No. 9775.

9 On this matter, the Court noted that online libel is admittedly not a new crime but one already punished under Art. 353; section 4(c)(4) merely establishes the use of a computer as another “means of publication.” For this reason, charging the offender under both laws would he a violation of the guarantee against double jeopardy under Article III, section 21 of the 1987 Constitution.

Why a Philippine telco’s speed cap is a bad idea

Update (7 Feb 2014, 1424H): Since posting this entry, friends and other users of Globe Telecoms broadband services have chimed in.  It occurs to me that folks at Globe and NTC need to verify the claims I (and other subscribers) have made.  To speed things along – i.e. for referencing agent call logs, subscription history – details of my old Globe account include:

  • Subscriber: Antonio Victor Andrada Hilario
  • Account Number: 61523358
  • Subscription: Tattoo Unli w/o voice, plan 999.  Terminated February 2014 after 36 consecutive billing periods.

The telecoms sector needs competition.  To the board of Globe Telecoms:  You can do better than this.  Resolve the issue.

I write web applications for a living.  In the course of a good day, I’m able to put in about five or six solid hours of thinking about some set of features of the program, some behavior of the sites my team and I are building, and writing software to implement those features and behaviors.  It’s labor which amounts to something roughly six to twelve paragraphs of a master’s thesis every day – and it is, suprisingly, just as tiring.  Writing software has that kind of rigor to it:  The ideas you’re assembling need to come together cleanly – expressing your design intent, cleanly, to other people who’ll read (and elaborate upon) what you’ve crafted, while also able to compel machines of beautiful etched silicon to do things fit for machines to do.  Such as making money.

While I’m sat here with furrowed brow, after the occasional meeting or terse Skype exchange, the work that ensues among members of our team is divided up into tranches of almost purely solitary endeavor. Probably close to half of that time is actually spent reading rather than writing code:  Reading nearby lines of code I or others have written, following short runs of imperative thought (if this, and this, then do that; otherwise, something else [unless this and this]…).  Reading online reference books for details of some arcane technique, or to suss out the side effects of some instruction.  The other half of the time is punctuated by a silent “aha…”, followed by a flurry of keystrokes which set down the next paragraphs in the program.  Another four or five keystrokes, to ask the machine to test your lines, and ask it “here – what do you think?”  We get a kick from those little “aha!” moments, which come in pairs:  The first aha comes when a concept, an algorithm becomes clear to your mind, and the second (often accompanied by a smile) when the computer responds to that algorithm the way you want.  Reading isn’t appreciated as being a core activity of writing code.

Then there’s the listening.  Hearing is the other sensory input that you engage at work – often to simply provide an ambient that allows you to jump between aha moments, but equally to keep in touch with things you’d otherwise miss when keeping ten-hour work days.  Listen to the first three stories on BBC World Service news with the first cup of coffee for the day.  Find the audiobook of Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile, let it run in the background while you review a test run.  Pull up Episode 109 of Markus Völter’s Software Engineering Radio podcast (eBay’s Architecture Principles) while you’re thinking about how to partition your database across your Taiwan and US-based servers.  Or get your code reading Zen together with Episode 148 (Software Archaeology) before beginning to translate a piece of Flash code to PHP.  A typical day’s listening – say, about 200 to 300 megabytes of audio taken off the Internet – gives you a window to the world’s news and knowledge, while your mind and hands work to create value.  And none of the insipid noise that passes for news and music from commercial broadcast radio in Mandaluyong City. Vhong Navarro: kailangan ba’ng i-memorize `yan?  Fuck that.

Or fuck me.  The Globe speed cap changes the course of my working day, as I have to make sure that I can continue to reach my company’s servers after I’ve taken in my reading and listening for the day.  Here’s how it works out:

Globe Telecoms offered the Tattoo Unli contract package sometime around 2011, affording practically unlimited, daily data access, at speeds of up to 2 megabits per second, at a cost of a thousand pesos a month.  Not too shabby.  You’d typically get anywhere between 80 to 180 kilobytes per second, from anywhere in Metro Manila.  Now this changed my web development game entirely: After seven years working in my domain, I could actually telecommute to work; I could log in to my company’s  server in Arizona, or in Taiwan, or Makati City, and send keystrokes to the remote (typically Linux or IIS) server as though I were there, at practically any time of day.  Skype became usable from anywhere in Metro Manila, where previously it wasn’t, despite a [pricey] Sierra Wireless data card only my NGO employer office could afford.  At my level of competence, I can be trusted to perform good work even away from the physical office, and this technology makes that possibility real.

The cap is simple to implement.  Once a subscriber’s total traffic – bytes from their laptop to the nearest tower, and bytes from the tower to their laptop – hits a preset limit, they then ramp down the speed to something like 8-12 kilobytes per second.  The effect is pretty jarring.  Roughly five hours into the working day, you hit the F5 button to reload the web page you’ve been working on, for the nth time that afternoon.  (Remember, that seriously metal laptop has already downloaded the day’s podcasts, and fetched updates to Firefox and other programs on it.)  You wait several seconds.  A helpful SMS message pops up on your screen, echoed from your modem:  “…Hello. Your data usage for today has reached 1GB…”   Thereafter a keystroke sent down the wire seems to take two to five seconds to appear on your console.  A simple Google search for, say

selenium webdriver andwait example

takes 40 seconds to load.  Skype chat barely works; and even attempting a Skype call is impossible. The employee has apparently dropped off the Net.

The employee then calls Globe Telecoms, and encounters a straight run of awkward, plain disinformation:

  • He is told that this data cap is mandated by the NTC.  Telcos asked NTC to include this in administrative memoranda back in 2011, and had NTC not rejected the proposal, this would have given Globe Telecoms and PLDT-Smart the means to impose caps. This would help them to expand their customer base, by enabling them to take on more customers at a reduced level of service.  It makes absolutely no sense that the National Telecommunications Commission would impose a restriction on commerce this way, and not have consumers fight back.   (A word of advice to you at Globe Telecoms:  Fire whoever they were who devised the call center agents’ script, effectively making these workers lie for you.)
  • He asks after options to avoid the speed cap, prompting the agent about their Platinum 3799 plans, and is told that all contract plans are subject to the same “fair usage policy” and, at one point, that the high end plans offering unlimited data are subject to a 1G cap as well.  He calls up the Platinum sales people hopefully, anyway, to ask after availability and terms of the Platinum 3799 contract, and is cheerfully told that “unlimited data” means just that, and some further gibberish about consumable credits toward data transfer, voice, and text. There is no way to know what price is reasonable to pay, to obtain a usable level of service.  You get a spiel about add-ons, consumables, a two-year contract with fines for early termination (which, in hindsight, elicits a “well, what the fuck was that for?”) by the customer.

globe-platinum“Unlimited” means what, exactly?

The employee, understanding that bandwidth needs to be distributed equitably, is still left with this single, powerful impression:  This telco needs many, many more customers (who will be using mainly low-bandwidth, interactive services such as Facebook, e-mail, and the occasional movie), and that you’re not part of our business plan. And fuck you.

So the first impulse you get is to keep chill, it isn’t personal, you just need to economize bandwidth use.  Fine – okay, so which podcasts go first?  I guess I could do with just Global News.  Maybe two or three of The Today Programme.  Oh – and stop sharing the link with housemates, certainly.  Okay, that’s doable.  Let’s see.  Schedule updates for after 5pm, when the bulk of the day’s work can be done offline.

You squeeze through, with some relief.  You’re able to push your code changes for a handful of features to the company server, and work on the remaining code that’s still on your screen, signing off Skype (which, at this point, is only usable for text messages anyway).  And you realize that by the end of the workday, the link is equally useless for Google search on “ treo new projects” as it was for looking up “gmp_powm gmp_mult”.  Never mind Facebook.  Fuck this.  I really miss seeing my friends’ postings for about two minutes, and then let rise the irritation at this rate cap, this apparently completely artificial scarcity – of bandwidth.

Well, a pity, that.  Globe Telecoms seemed to be the only reasonable competition against the much larger PLDT-Smart-Sun (Sun, is it?) conglomerate.  Good pricing, good service.  The problem with this approach to expanding their customer base – that is, slitting the throats of customers who’ve been used to “promo” levels of service – is that a cursory search on the Web shows it is not government that’s mandating service level cuts.  They are a service provider who intend to provide “good enough” service if all you need from an Internet service is just your social media app, email, and a movie now and then.

They are prepared to use my government’s administrative edicts to grow their business.  Goddamn this, Globe Telecoms paint NTC as the originator of this data cap and expect me to just take that as fact.

They are not interested in finding out what you need, or providing what you need at a reasonable price – and have nothing to offer customers who do not rate a five-digit monthly contract price, beyond these cutesy, canned “plans” that revolve around selling gadgets instead of levels of service.  Rather than use their infrastructure to poll customers, they allowed certain of their customers to send spam messages offering ‘collateral free loan’ from some dinky lender with names that just reek  ‘extortionate interest rates here.’

The Globe speed / data volume caps, clearly intended to allow them to grow their customer base, are being described by their personnel as “mandated by government” – and are a bad idea on at least two counts:  First, the justification for the cap is a lie, specifically that they have no choice in the matter, and that it is State that mandates it.  This is only true because the industry – basically they, and their “competition” – have lobbied for this!  And it is a bad idea because it intends to get Filipinos used to a generally low level of Internet accessibility rather than force them to improve the quality of services they offer now and into the future.  Finally, it diminishes their credibility as an alternative to the well-entrenched PLDT.

I refuse to reward this kind of behavior.  I terminated my data contract with them yesterday – and life goes on.  Another telco next door offered a 4G dongle at what seems like a good price, the connection through which I’ve uploaded my final rant on this matter.  The rep spelled out the terms of access – yes, they do also restrict service speed once you reach a limit, but no, she was not aware that government mandated this.  Back to another coding day – and, goddamnit, I’m going to feel the lack of a night’s sleep for sure, for getting this irritation out of my system.


Arduino Bluetooth Blues

Update:  RFCOMM negotiation works now – connecting to the serial TTY device enables use of one of the Arduino Due UARTs. You can send short strings across the Bluetooth SPP link. The hexadecimal dump below was apparently a Bluetooth dongle hardware error code, one byte “0x37” (0x10 0x01 0x37).  Documentation from CSR (look for the document CS-227432-SP-3-BCCMD-HQ, by searching for “HQ Commands”) told me this was a hardware fault code with a funny name:

FAULT_ALREADY_BAGSIED: Two subsystems are attempting to use the same .

The same what?  The PDF contains exactly that text, “… the same .”  Nuts.  The documentation was leading me nowhere, but clearly the dongle was receiving command data I was sending to it, and going into fault condition as a result.

It turned out that I was sending an incomplete RFCOMM packet – I forgot to include the HCI handle for the existing ACL connection in the command I was sending.  Aargh…!

So, it works now, after a fashion.  I’m able to connect to the UART to send very short strings.  Trying to send anything longer in either direction will crash the dongle HCI stack, which says there’s still something wrong with the code.  Get the updated code here, as well as the driver sketch here.


Some good news: The Atmel Software Framework 3.12 allows interrupt-driven reads and writes from any of the Bluetooth dongle pipes – control, event, and bulk I/O.  This is good.  Continue reading “Arduino Bluetooth Blues”