Sunday, September 7, 2008

Formative education

A need for a formative education

Past events show that there is a need for renewed and enhanced values formation in the Philippines today. Most if not all of our socio-political problems have to do with the lack of values. Ask anyone about the number one problem in the Philippine economy today and most of them would say corruption within and outside of government. We are currently the most corrupt country within the whole of Asia and are probably at the top ten most corrupt countries in the world. A fact that the current government is loath to admit.

A look of our funds that should go to basic services go to debt servicing and (lost to) corruption. According to the Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN), an international NGO, as much as 40% of funds to certain projects are lost to corruption. This is actually the reason why our bridges and roads crack. Our roads, for example, are actually below international standards. All one has to do is to visit another South East Asian country to see that their roads actually don’t crack. Because commissions eat away at funded projects the proper amount of materials are usually found wanting. To make up for the additional cost of doing business or constructing infrastructure in the Philippines contractors end up sacrificing the quality of their projects just so that our officials would have their unfair share.

Corrupt practices range from the exorbitant commissions that the bag men of government officials demand, to the tong paid to line agency employees just to get the licenses and the like on time. Smaller businesses also have to pay tong or protection money to keep their businesses safe. I actually suspect that bigger businesses do the same as well.

Romulo Neri said it himself when he declared that the government is actually run by the oligarchs of the land. He said that the problem of corruption is a “systemic dysfuntionality” and that even the president is a victim of this corrupt system. But reports have come in to show that the president’s family and her men are actually benefiting from corruption as well. One of the reasons kuno for the government’s insistence on the Moa in Mindanao is the money that they stand to make with mining ventures lined up within the proposed Bansang Moro Judicial entity. If ever there are victims to corruption in this land it would be the people including the business sector who have everything to gsin if corruption is minimized in the Philippines.

Fro the business angle, a lot of investors shy away from doing business within the country due to the amount of corruption that they would have to deal with. Potential investors have told of their sad experiences in trying to deal with government officials, from congresspersons all the way down to barangay officers, when they try to put up projects in the Philippines. Local businessmen know this as well. Even the proprietors of small and medium scale businesses have to give a little “good will” money every now and then just to keep the businesses running smoothly.

Corruption is not just a business problem. It lies at the very roots of our values system as a people. We have grown apathetic you see and we tend to see corruption as the norm rather than the abomination that it really is. Government propagandists and spin doctors have succeeded in convincing the people that everybody is corrupt and that there is no choice but to deal with this problem by giving in. But corruption is never okay, even if a lot of people are actually engaged in it.

Try to imagine how much stronger our economy will be if corruption is actually kept to the minimum. The money that would go to basic services would strengthen the local markets and make business a lot easier to conduct.

The only way that we can succeed in eliminating corruption in our societies is to go back the basics and to bring in values formation to the fore front of our educational efforts. But how can we come up with good formation when some schools, or at least some of their teachers, can’t even be honest during PAASCU and similar education?

Our educational system began to lose its focus on values and formation when government policies placed too much emphasis on technical learning. This happened during martial law years when the government began to place more importance to technical skills at the expense of the humanities, nationalism, and morality. The result is what we see today. A people alienated from their own identity and values that make them good citizens.

What we have today is too much apathy and cynicism. Even the bishops, some of them anyway, have been corrupted to some extent. How can we therefore deal with corruption and the immoralities within our midst when many of us have lost the interest to pursue a more honest and caring way of life?

It might be too late for the present generation to regain its touch on morality though. The best thing to do then would be to focus on the future leaders of the land. We have to put into place more effort to come up with a more balanced and holistic education within our system soon. We need to take another look at the role of the humanities in our educational system once more. Better yet, we must indigenize the humanities to make it our very own. In other words we have to look inot our “diwa” as a people and to regain our “kagandahan ng loob”. In this way our people might become more human again. As such we would veer away from apathy and work together to create systems that are more compassionate and more business friendly in the end.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wrong priority

Wrong priority

While our congressmen and women at the big house are busy pushing a bill that will promote the use of artificial birth control methods to control population the people are reeling from the double crises resulting from run away cost of food and oil. The analogy that comes to my mind is the story from Will Durant who, in his Story of Philosophy, said that while the Athenian solons (all 1000 of them) were busy arguing in the midst of the Peloponnesian wars the Spartans marched past the gate and won the war. At the height of a rapidly deteriorating situation our solons are pushing for the use of condoms to address the issue of over population and poverty. The problem is that artificial birth control will neither reduce populations nor make a dent on poverty. Values, morality and not permissiveness and promiscuity will solve our economic and political problems.

There is no over population in the Philippines in the first place. A road trip across rural areas would show space, living space for millions of Filipinos more. There is nothing out there but soil, crops, trees, rivers, mountains, and hills. That’s where the problem lies. Because there is “nothing” out there the people are flocking to the big cities in search for jobs and a better life, only to find out that life does not get better with a city job or by living in the big city. Most of the rural poor end up as prostitutes of some sort, domestic helpers, and factory workers anyway.

The perception that there is a need to drastically reduce our population is caused by migration to urban centers resulting in over crowding but not over population. The problem has to do with the lack of development in the country side rather than the lack of condoms and birth control pills. Poverty is caused by poor and mismanaged economic policies, and, by a large part, corruption. Big populations can be a source of economic development and not the other way around. Our economy, for example, is kept afloat by the dollar remittances that come from Filipinos working abroad. Bigger populations mean bigger markets, more man power, and added human resources for economic growth.

Indeed, the population problem that is confronting the developed world is actually their lack of people. In the West the populations are dwindling. Their people are growing older and in their case the young working people have to care for a growing number of senior aged dependents. That’s why they need care takers and nurses from the Philippines. One may even suspect that one of the interests of some funding agencies to reduce populations in developing nations is to prevent a disparity between populations. It has been estimated that white people will make up less than 10% of the world’s population by 2050 AD.

But even if over population is a real and pressing problem, artificial birth control methods won’t solve that problem anyway. In fact it may even result into more economic hardships for our people and larger populations. Education, knowledge, wisdom, and prudence are the things that our people need to not only keep the population growth in check but to reduce poverty and solve the looming economic and political problems of the land. Decadent movie and TV shows and irresponsible lifestyles are making our people more and more promiscuous. High school and college girls are getting pregnant at a younger age because of the materialism and the hedonism that media has over them. Gang rapes and sexual abuse are becoming more and more frequent in schools. Poor women are being raped even by their husbands and nobody really knows what to do with the growing number of poor children whose numbers continue to grow at a scary rate. Throwing condoms and pills to our people offers only a bandaged solution at best. Better to teach them values and morality instead. Better to teach them the value of prudence and the wisdom of refusing sexual advances rather than showing them that they can have sex, whether they want it or not, safely as long as they take abortifacient pills.

Meanwhile the protests against the government’s inability to solve the fuel and food crises are getting more and more frequent. More disturbing is the perception that the same rallies are getting more passionate and violent as the days go by. And yet the congressmen and women are quibbling about sex and pills. Solve the real and more urgent problems at hand, then you representatives can wax philosophical all you want later on. Some representatives do have wrong priorities. They would rather go to the US on a junket tour to see Obama, McClain, and Pacquiao rather than stay home and help typhoon victims. Now they act as if there is no food shortage and economic crises taking place.

One has to wonder, therefore, as to just what kind of pressure is being inserted by funding agencies, like US Aid, to make these congressional representatives so hell bent on pushing for artificial birth control. Maybe there is money (for our legislators) to be made by pushing pills and condoms? But these solons have to face another hell as well in the persons of an angry CBCP.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Indecent

Indecent

Crime does pay when it is committed by the high and mighty in the Philippines. A man is sent away by his boss to escape a senate investigation. When he came back he was accosted by armed men who took him for a “joy ride” against his will. He would have been kidnapped or worst if not for the vigilant media who took interest in his case. He was about to spill the beans you see and deliver critical information over the ZTE broadband scam. At that time the people who abducted Jun Lozada were not really sure if Jun was still on his side or perhaps he already turned against them. Uncertain they had to bring Jun Lozada round and round until they can make a decision about the kidnap victim. Isn’t it frightening to have a government who kidnaps people in broad day light? What kind of government would kidnap a citizen of the republic and then have the gall to defend a non-existent human rights record before the international community of nations? Remember Jonas Burgos? His poor mother is still looking for her lost son who may still be alive, tortured, and languishing in a government cell.

According to human rights groups: torture, something that should have been a thing of the past, is now being used once more by state security agents under the Arroyo government. Women kidnap victims who were thought by state security to be sympathetic or allied somehow to the communist front have been raped, beaten, battered, and mentally tortured by elements from the military according to those who have somehow escaped. And yet what are the people doing about all of these things. Nothing, we have lost the will to fight for our rights therefore we no longer deserve a decent government unless we change our ways soon.

Decent people shouldn’t tolerate torture and kidnapping from state agents, rebel groups, or criminal syndicates. Decent people shouldn’t have to tolerate such things. But what is indecent about this whole thing is that we have grown apathetic and uncaring about the plight of the victims of abductions, torture, and extra judicial killings. We no longer care about the plight of Jonas Burgos. I asked some students if they still remember him and they replied by asking; “Jonas who?”

And now that the excitement has come and gone, do we still care about Jun Lozada? Should we reward a fellow Filipino who has gone to great lengths to expose anomalies in the land by turning our backs against him now that he really needs our support the most? The government is now prosecuting (persecuting) his wife, whose only fault was that she was frightened and concerned about her husband, for perjury. The government is saying that she committed the act of perjury while forgetting that they were the ones who forced her, and Jun’s sister, to sign the damn thing anyway.

Indecent, that’s what we are if we do turn our backs to the Jonas Burgoses and the Jun Lozadas of our lives! Indecent is what we are fast becoming because this government is anything but decent.

Despite the economic and food crisis what do we do in our spare time? We cruise the malls and ogle at each other forgetting that there are people who are languishing in jail, tortured and humiliated by their captors. We forget that there are still some people out there who still sleep on rooftops while six foot high mud remain lodged in their homes. Instead of trying to help the victims of Typhoon Frank and other such people who need our help some schools are getting their students to miss their classes by organizing club fairs. What kind of values do we still have as a people?

Values, rather the lack of them, are at the root of many of the troubles in this country. Our people wallow in poverty despite the government’s pronouncements to the contrary. This poverty is aggravated by corruption. Corruption is a moral problem and not just a political and economic dilemma. So are vote buying and selling, electoral fraud and the like. The symptoms are torture and all kinds of human rights violations. At the heart of this is a chilling reality. Some of our people have become spiritually numb. They no longer care about other people and that my dear friends make them indecent.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Time to scrap VAT

Time to scrap VAT

First hand reports have reached this writer that the people of Kalibo and Iloilo are still mired in waist deep mud. They go to office or school in short pants and rubber slippers. Many families from the same cities still live on the roof tops of their former homes, there is still no electricity and clean water there. Please give freely to our neighbours who are suffering in Panay Island. They need our help badly and time might come when we will need their help too.

Government, non-government, and church groups have been flying food, water, and blankets to the poor victims of typhoon Frank in Panay Island. But there is very little help for the middle class families who have been afflicted by the same. These people need our help too. Some of my friends and acquaintances who are professionals who work or have their families and homes in Iloilo and Kalibo have lost their houses to tremendous mud slides. A colleague had to take a leave of absence from his work here in Bacolod so he can go and try to salvage whatever he can from his house which is covered in six feet of mud. As the only man of the house his job is to shovel the filth and mud from his home. Meanwhile his family sleeps and cooks meals on their roof top. They cover themselves with plastic sheets from the rain. When this man asked for assistance for his family he was told that he had to fend for his family and himself because the priority of the government relief agencies is to help those who are poor. Because he had a job he didn’t qualify. We can hardly blame the government and other relief agencies for their preferential option for the poor. We really should prioritize help for those who are indeed helpless. But what about the office where the man above mentioned is working? Don’t they have mechanisms to help their employees who are in need?

Meanwhile the cost of diesel fuel has risen to 60 pesos per litter and that is just so that the oil firms won’t loose too much of their expected profits for the month of June. The economic crisis will continue to worsen and all ready the middle class is starting to feel the pinch. Many professionals, including myself, have been reduced to near poverty and have been living from one pay check to the next. Their savings are all gone after paying for tuition fees, textbooks, school uniforms, and the like. Economists predict that more and more of the middle class will likely join the ranks of the poor this year. That statement is actually almost fallacious as it is merely stating what is already obvious to the people.

And what is the government doing to abate this economic crisis. Well aside from spending millions of pesos at a junket to the US the government is also giving 500 peso dole outs to the poor. They have extra money you see taken from the value added tax that the government imposes on any transaction or sale. Vat, for those who don’t know it yet is 12% of the cost of produce or service. But what can a dole out of 500 peso actually do for those who received it? The money was supposed to go to the paying of their electricity bill. That would partially pay for one month worth of electricity. But what about next month’s bill? Most likely the 500 peso government dole out went to the buying of food for the week. What happens when the food runs out? This is the problem with dole outs. It is simply unsustainable and causes more problems in the end.

The government is giving out dole outs left and right to avert a possible rebellion amidst and because of the economic crisis. People become violent you see when they become hungry. But what would happen when they actually run out money to give as dole outs. The government can’t continue to subsidize the price of NFA rice and give 500 peso dole outs forever. And when the poor won’t receive these dole outs then there will be hell to pay.

It’s time to scrap the VAT. The government is mismanaging the extra income it makes from VAT anyway. It would help our people from all classes if VAT is scrapped. The cost of living and the prices of food and services would go down tremendously and almost immediately. This would go a long way to diffuse a hard and worsening condition. It may also prevent rioting and violent protests on the streets. It might just save Madame’s neck. But will she do that to ease the financial woes of the Filipino? Probably not, she is too much of a liberal economist who believes in everything that the WTO tells us and is more concerned with what foreign investors say about her than to heed the calls of her own people. We face bleak and bleaker times.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Joy ride to the US

Joy ride to the US

The rewards for political loyalty and friendship to GMA include luxurious trips abroad, expensive wining and dining at posh hotels, stay in the same domicile, in the company of the Madame herself, according to former senator Ernesto Maceda. Maceda pointed out that the US government gave $100,000 assistance for victims of Typhoon Frank but that the cost of the junket incurred for $GMA’s entourage must have reached more than $1,500,000 already.

Here is Maceda’s breakdown: There were 20 members of the official delegation, that plus all the members of the Arroyo family who went along for the trip the Philippine delegation must have occupied at least 30 rooms at that hotel. With room rates ranging from $500 to $5,000 a night for suites and ordinary rooms the Philippine delegation would have spent anything from 10,000 to 150,000 US dollars a night for hotel stay alone. GMA hosted expensive lunches and dinners there too. Maceda said that the plane fare bill could reach $200,000 to 300,000 US dollars also. The private jet that was used to fly GMA from Fresno, California to Washington could easily have cost $300,000. As in previous US visits, the Security, MalacaƱang media and DFA support groups would number between 200 to 250 persons. It is normal that the Consul Generals from US and Canadian cities would also be called to Washington. The big delegation also means a big amount to be spent for chauffeured vehicles hired to be used, at a rate of about $800 to $1,000 a day depending on the class of vehicle. Easily $150,000 would be spent for car hires for five days. At least $100,000 would be used for PR and media purposes. It is probable that GMA also gave some pocket money to members of her delegation, including her PAL crew. This, as in the past, has turned out to be quite an expensive trip to the US and we haven’t even factored in the cost of junket by those extra loyal congressmen, like you know who, other hanger ons, and the staff members of the cabinet officials that also went along for the joy ride.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said that there is no such list of congresspersons who went along for the US trip. But in the same TV news interview he said that the congressmen whose names were not on any list said that they did not use any public funds to finance their trip to see George Bush (what a waste of good money) and watch the Pacquiao fight. We all know that this is simply too good to be true. Congressmen are given almost 2 million pesos each for travel expenses which they convert to cash according to the government insider Ernesto Maceda.

The Maceda list of government officials who also joined the official delegation to the United states include: Speaker Nograles, Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar of Cebu, Amelita Villarosa of Oriental Mindoro, Mikey Arroyo, Dong Gonzales and Ana Bondoc of Pampanga, women legislators Annie Susano and Nanette Daza of Quezon City, Zenaida Angpin of Manila, Rizalina Seachon Lanete of Masbate, Trinidad Apostol of Leyte, Rachel Arenas of Pangasinan, Mitzi Cajayon of Caloocan and Herminia Ramiro of Misamis Occidental, Monico Puentevella of Bacolod, Antonio Cuenco of Cebu, Danilo Suarez of Quezon, Martin Romualdez of Leyte, Conrado Estrella III of Pangasinan, Junie Cua of Quirino and Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, Marc Cagas of Davao del Sur, Yevgeny Emano of Misamis Oriental, Anton Lagdameo of Davao del Norte, William Erwin Tieng of Buhay party list, Jose Zubiri III of Bukidnon, Rommel Amatong of Compostela Valley, Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela, Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental, Narciso Santiago III of ARC party list, Andres Salvacion of Leyte, Teodoro Coquilla of Eastern Samar, Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. of Cavite, Dato Macapagal of Camarines Sur, Joseph Violago of Nueva Ecija, Marc Mendoza of Batangas and Roman Romulo of Pasig, Bienvenido Abante of Manila, Roger Mercado of Southern Leyte, Albert Garcia of Bulacan, Antonio Diaz of Zambales, Eddie Gullas of Cebu, Amado Bagatsing of Manila, Rosario Rufino Biazon of Muntinglupa, Munir Arbison of Sulu, and Joseph Santiago of Catanduanes. What a shame!

By the way this junket happened at a time when responsible government officials are badly needed back home with our people just beginning to come to terms with the tremendous amount of devastation brought by typhoon Frank.

[ ] [ ] [ ]

Poor Bing, caught between a rock and a hard place. Our good mayor is currently being criticized for his decision to fly to Nevada so he can carry Pacquiao’s championship belt during Sunday’s bout despite Bacolod getting badly hit by the storm. But if Mayor Bing stayed back home he might be criticized for not supporting the Pacman if Manny loses to David Diaz. My unsolicited advice to Mayor Bing, don’t entwine your political career with that of the Pacman too much. Manny is getting older and less disciplined with each new fight. He will surely lose his crown one day and your career as a politician can suffer the same fate too. Besides I don’t think that reasonable people will take it against you if you decided to stay back and help typhoon victims. Even Manny won’t mind too much I think.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Confession of a young presidential appointtee

Mike's war: the confessions of a presidential Appointee


Below, excerpts from an open letter from Mike Francis Acebedo Lopez, the youngest presidential appointee at age 24. Lopez is described by his peers as a proud Cebuano youth leader who started as a volunteer of the NYC until he was appointed as one of its Commissioners- at-large.


Sham after sham

I am proud to report to the Filipino people to whom I am accountable that no pressure from my colleagues has allowed me to conform to what I would describe as a highly degenerate National Youth Commission. (Presidential appointees always say they serve at the pleasure of the President, but in truth we serve the greater interest of our people). This is the same Youth Commission that has bullied the alumni association of the SSEAYP (Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program), an organization of passionate and dedicated alumni of the Japanese Government's SSEAYP program. (The NYC is mandate by law to implement the SSEAYP). The NYC Leadership insisted on the creation of a different alumni association to divide the current SSEAYP leadership in the Philippines, apparently to get back at them because the group pressed charges against the Officials of the Commission. These charges emanated from the Commission's self-interested decision to choose one of our own as National Leader of last year's SSEAYP delegation (the first time its ever happened) to a two-month all-expense paid cultural cruise across Japan and the ASEAN region. Worse, the Commission still opened the search to other applicants even if the NYC's Leadership already promised this concession to the interested Commissioner, all the while creating a semblance that the process was still being followed. So what initially was just an issue of delicadeza became an issue of deception, a betrayal of public trust.

Genuine leadership seeks to unite, not divide the efforts and convictions of young people. When it does, it's apparent that it is for no other reason but to perpetuate one's stay in power or to secure an otherwise insecure position in society or government.

This is also the same Youth Commission whose Leadership has cases at the Ombudsman, the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) and the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), along with a severely damaged reputation as evidenced by complaints circulating around various youth circuits and e-groups across the country and abroad. This Youth Commission has ganged up on me for my opposition, insisting that we are a collegial body and should therefore be united and agree on everything. But I believe in unity in diversity (there was a reason why the NYC was created to have several commissioners) and upholding truth and justice over everything else. They do not understand that I oppose only those decisions that I know will tarnish our individual and collective reputations, ultimately affecting the credibility and integrity of our agency. They do not understand that we each represent the NYC and our government, and our actions can and will affect the credibility and integrity of the Office we represent. Our credibility, I believe, is the best gift I could give our country and our fellow young Filipinos.

Many youth leaders across the country are mad at the NYC for its many abuses. To the officials of the NYC, every crisis in the Arroyo Presidency is yet another opportunity to "kiss ass". This has lead to the moro-moro and incompetent management of our international programs. Slots for foreign trips, scholarships, and exchange programs are given to friends of the officials, with an unwritten, internal arrangement that only those who are pro-administration will be chosen. Take the SSEAYP for instance: its guidelines, which have been in place for several years, were changed last year to accommodate an alleged relative of the President. In fairness to the President, I do not think that she is aware of these happenings, nor has she given such order. The irony is that the alleged relative did not apply last year, but the damage has already been done against the integrity of the SSEAYP selection process. And all this after we require applicants of our programs to accomplish so many difficult requirements and submit long essays. It really is a sham, a travesty! Kawawa `yung mga bata, trusting and submitting themselves to a process at babastusin lang pala sila. These officials have no respect for the efforts of the young people whose interests we all swore to uphold and protect.

The Officials of the National Youth Commission have miserably failed our country's youth, demoralizing like never before the hardworking staff of the agency. (The agency's staff's turnover rate in the past year is the highest in the NYC's history) In this battle, I have been wounded. I am ashamed of speaking on behalf of a Youth Commission that has not done its job. I cannot lie any longer to my fellow youth that everything is alright.

Thank god for young people like Mike. If the youth is the hope of the fatherland then all may not be well with a National Youth Commission that Mike Lopez describes as decadent. Yet, the self sacrifice that this young man has shown, by writing an open letter that will destroy his chances at serving as a public official of the land, is commendable and allows us to hope that perhaps not all is lost.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

In defense of Bishop Cruz

In defense of Bishop Cruz

I don’t know what all the protest is about regarding Bishop Oscar Cruz statement that sinners who do not acknowledge their wrong doings should not be given the sacrament of Holy Communion. The good bishop also did not mention that it was Madame that he was referring to as far as I can recollect. Although most of the media and anybody who listened in seemed to know the person that the good bishop had in mine. For those of us who studied in a Catholic school that teaching of reconciliation as a necessary requisite for communion is part of basic catechism.

In an earlier column this writer tried to present a Catholic Framework for reconciling and restoring our political order based on an article written by Philpott. The article maintains that a proper acknowledgement of wrong doings and a readiness to face punishment is part and parcel of the whole process of reconciliation. When GMA gave her infamous “I apologize” speech on nationwide TV a few years ago she did not get the reconciliation that she was probably looking for. The people didn’t know what to make of her tearful apology. On the other hand they (the people) probably knew exactly what to make and do with that presidential apology. It’s not that the Filipino people were vengeful and unforgiving (aside from the vengeful mob at Malacanang). It’s just that an apology without referral to the act a person is making an apology for just doesn’t make sense.

The proper sequence for making an act of reconciliation was not followed. First an acknowledgement had to be made before an apology could be issued. The acknowledgement had to be made by an admission on the part of the apologizer or by allowing a proper investigation to take place or both. Because the presidential apology was made during the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal the president should have said something to the effect that she’s sorry for talking to a Comelec commissioner over the phone during the campaign period or for allowing rampant wiretapping as part of management scheme in running the country or both. The president should also have allowed the impeachment procedures to go on, especially if she’s innocent of vote buying and electoral fraud. Undergoing an impeachment case is also part of penance on the part of GMA. Penance and just punishment follow apologies and are essential in rebuilding the political order according to Philpott.

In the case of the ongoing investigations regarding the ZTE-NBN issue, the government should support rather than block the senate inquiries. This is the first order for reconciliation. Before anything else an admission or an understanding (acknowledgement) of the issue must make place. The people have to know if bribes where part of the negotiations between ZTE and China and the Philippine government and the people who claims to represent the latter.

In the case of the Kalayaan islands issue the government must explain why they allowed China and Vietnam to explore our territorial waters and keeping this joint exploration a secret to the Filipino people. To restore the political order and to initiate the process of reconciliation that Malacanang claims to be seeking for, the government needs to explain a whole lot of things. Perhaps this was what Bishop Cruz was trying to say when he said that he wouldn’t give the sacrament of Holy Communion to someone who was not yet acknowledged his or her wrong doings. The proper sequence should be observed in the whole process of reconciliation. On the part of anybody who sincerely wants to have Holy Communion, acknowledgment and atonement for sins must be made prior to the asking for forgiveness. On the part of the government, certain questions must be answered and acknowledgments must be stated by the same. In the case of the people, this includes the Church; forgiveness must be given especially when the acknowledgement and atonement were sincere and freely given. As far as I’m concerned Bishop Cruz said the right things and for all the right reasons.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Priceless

video

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Treason

It’s called treason

Truth seekers from Bacolod have yet to extend their search to the Spratly Island angle. This Spratly angle is larger than the ZTE scam. Indeed, some people have called this the mother of the ZTE deal and the source of all the alleged corruption stemming from Chinese loans.

Seven countries claim ownership of the disputed Spratly Islands, just off of Palawan. China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines all claim to own part or all of the Spratlys. Indeed, the Spratly Islands is just a stone throw away from Negros waters. Our people, especially the fisherfolk, should take heed. The Spratly Islands, which which we call the Kalayaan Islands, are rich in oil and natural gas. China has already established several outpost and other military installations around these island waters.

In 2003, the Philippine government signed an agreement with China to jointly undertake seismic studies of the Spratlys and explore the area for oil and natural gas. Naturally, the other claimants got angry. But aside from angering our neighbors and undermining regional stability, Arroyo’s action is also be illegal. The Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez said that she believed that the deal violated the constitution. While it was a deal between the PNOC of the Philippines and CNOOC of China, it implicitly gave Chinese government and military vessels access to our oil reserves. This deal signed in 2003 effectively strengthened China and Vietnam’s claim to the Spratlys at the expense of our own territorial claims and not just over the Kalayaan islands but to surrounding seas all the way up to Palawan.


Now why would the Arroyo government do a stupid thing like that? How about 2 billion US dollars a year? After the Spratly deal was signed, the Chinese government committed $2 billion in official development assistance a year to the Philippines until 2010. But the two billion dollars are not for free. As loans we will have to pay the money back. This is probably the reason why Arroyo is determined to last till 2010. Meaning, she (GMA) has 2 billion reasons for doing so.


According to the correspondents expose on the same toipic, what makes this particular deal with China appealing to some government officials is that they do not have the cumbersome requirements that loans from the US, Japan, and the EU have. Requirements for documentation, bidding, transparency and other conditions do not apply to the ODA from China. The ZTE deal, for one did not require any public bidding and would have pushed through without the people’s knowledge if Joey De Venecia did not expose the Abalos “bukol”. Given China’s laxity with their loan conditions, its no wonder why every government project funded by Chinese ODA have been subject to allegations of graft and corruption.


Apparently, the Chinese government has, by bribing the Arroyo government, has enhanced their influence in the region and strengthened their claim to the Spratlys Islands. The Chinese were able to do this, according to the investigative reporters of a major TV station, by corrupting the Arroyo administration officials and their cronies. They said that $8 billion represents unprecedented opportunities for graft on a scale that would shock ordinary Filipinos. The same reporters claim that by the end of the day, that $8 billion is going to be paid back. Not by the Chinese, nor will rich Filipinos who don’t pay their taxes anyway but by us, you and me who have no choice but to remit our withholding tax automatically every time we get our salaries, and by our children and their children to boot. The price to pay for giving the Chinese access to our territorial waters will be more poverty, apathy, and amorality. They call it treason.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spark

Spark

I am but a simple educator living at another extraordinary time in recent Philippine history. A time when some people have apparently risen above their natural tendency to seek their comfort zones, and the misleading security of obscurity in numbers, and make another stand for the Truth to prevail in our land. Living in a southern city several hundreds of kilometers from the busy streets of Makati, I had to content myself to watching last Friday’s rally with interest but only through the confines of a television screen. And yet I felt that I was there in spirit. I felt the same way when I saw footages of the Mass for Truth and sang silently within my heart when the mass goers sang “Bayan Ko” at the end of that Sunday service. I felt emotions and convictions that were there 22 to 25 years ago when I, together with millions of other Filipinos, joined the funeral march for Ninoy Aquino and the anti-Marcos rallies from 1983 to 1986. Can Jun Lozano’s apparent abduction at the NAIA airport last month and his disclosures regarding the NBN-ZTE deal signal the start of another people Power revolution that will continue the work the we began in EDSA I? Sure people have rallied against GMA before. But Malacanang’s resolve to stay in power at all cost proved to be too much for a people who were still reeling from the frustrations brought about by EDSA II back then. At this point in time it is really still too early to tell. The movement for truth may soon falter and ground to a stop. But somehow it feels different this time around. As in EDSA I, it almost feels like there’s a guiding force out there that is making the right things fall in place at the right time. Jun Lozada’s story speaks of a man who was too involved in shady government deals and a man too afraid to stand out for the truth. But God may have other plans for Jun Lozada. Like Moses, Lozada seems to be a timid man forced by the Lord to serve as a spokesman for the truth at a trying time. His message then to the Egyptians seems to be directed to Malacanang this time around. That message was “Set my people free”!

More importantly, after hearing this call to stand for the truth once more, I ask myself “what should a simple educator like me do? Should we just watch the people in Manila, including the La Salle brothers stationed there, to keep the spirit of EDSA alive from the comfort and safety of our homes? Shouldn’t we, as Christians rise above our comfort zones and actively participate in this growing movement for moral renewal in our land? Should we not go beyond just praying “Lord let me be the change I want to see”, and see to it that changes do occur and soon? Should we not allow the Holy Spirit to transform ourselves to be sparks for change just like Jun Lozada? I write this open letter with humility as I too have been too busy with my class lectures and midterm examinations to take time out and discuss these important events with my colleagues and students. Perhaps like some bishops I too have been guilty of playing it too safe and seeing just where this movement for the truth will end before committing myself to the tasks at hand.

Shouldn’t we set some time to gather as a community and discern what these recent events require from us as individuals and as a collective? Shouldn’t we discuss the Lozada disclosures to our students and children and make them see just what has happened to our nation? Should we not heed the strong feelings from within our hearts and heed the bishop’s call for collective discernment and action? Or would we rather heed the call of the Arroyo government to refrain from being too emotional and let lawyers and government functionaries to resolve the crisis as they see fit? There is a time for cold rationality and a time for passion. What is being asked of us right now?

I write this essay with no clear answer in mind. But I do feel that something should be done from our end as well. I am disheartened by the lack of discussion, the lack of direction. I am concerned that we may be at fault for sitting back and watch others do what we ourselves should be doing right now. Will we wait for the movement to grow large enough to be significant before committing ourselves? Certainly there are risks involved in making a courageous stand right now. The greatest risk is that of failure. What if we do make a stand right now and nothing comes out of it? What if the movement falters and dies before we make the necessary changes for the common good? But the movement may just falter and die if we do not do anything right now. We may be beset with guilt in the near future if we know that we could have done something about the corruption and lies in Philippine society but did nothing. Jun Lozada has done and suffered enough. It may be time for us to do our share as well.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Joy ride

I don’t know what Jun Lozada was complaining about when he said that the PNP, with the help of the ASG, PSG, American Green Berets, the CIA, and the Mossad, and some other hoodlums in uniform (did you notice how military men sound alike-that they speak as if they were drunk or nursing a strong hang over?), abducted him at the airport. It was clear from the testimonies of these state security agents that he was merely taken for a joy ride, perhaps to cheer him up. He looked so gloomy said his boss Litong-lito Atienza so, “I asked Colonel Rocky (Bulldog) Marciano to take him around town” said he. Lito lito then called Gen. MamangPulis to take Jun for a spin as he is, in the words of Sergio Apostol, a “Probinsyanong Instik” after all. This is a narration of how it could have happened:

Jun Lozano was walking down the stairs onto the tarmac when he heard someone shouting “Pusila pusila”! An armoured carrier, the same one that crashed into the front door of the Manila Penn just a few months ago, almost ran the poor chinaman down (Jun lozada). Then a giant of a man, Colonel Rocky, managed to squeeze his bulk out of the APC and said “Your honor, we were sent by Secretary Litong lito to secure you from communist terrorists, the BID, and Wack Wack golfers all who have threatened your life!” By this time Jun Lozada was handcuffed, blindfolded, and lying unconscious inside a jute sack. While Rocky’s men carried and threw the unconscious form of Jun into the back of the APC The colonel called Sec. Litong lito to ask what he was to do with the Probinsyanong Instik. Take him for a joyride, was the reply, cheer him up and make sure he doesn’t go to the senate because if the senators get hold of him they will force him to speak the Truth! Upon hearing that ugly word (truth) the colonel shuddered and said, “Yes sir I’ll make sure that Lozada never speaks the truth again”.

When Jun Lozada woke up he said “Where am I?” He and Col. Rocky were floating on a raft that was winding down a river in the middle of the jungle. Rocky hisses to the hapless Lozada, “be quiet we are in the middle of Abu Sayyaf territory in Bongao Tawi Tawi”. Jun Lozada wailed, he cried out “ayaw na ayaw ko na nga ma pasok sa gulo ng pulitika, ngayon ipapakain mo naman ako sa buaya”. Rocky then said, “Don’t you get it, we are protecting you from the truth. “

While Jun and Rocky were hacking their way out of the dense jungle, MamangPulis, Litong Lito, and Palace Spokesman Paul Bunyan entertained the frantic friends and family of Jun Lozada with a Tikal tikal (tall tale) contest held among themselves at the palace grounds where they tried to outdo each other in telling lies. Mike Defensor, who was not even in government anymore, won hands down.

After crossing seventeen rivers, climbing ten mountains, and visiting eleven SM malls Jun and Rocky finally headed back to Metro Manila. Col. Rocky ran out of eload and Jun wouldn’t let him use his credit card to buy the same. Upon arriving in Manila some mercenary nuns and the Lasing Brothers hijacked the jeepney that Rocky and Jun were riding in. The Lasing brothers and sisters then handed Jun Lozada to the Senate where he was forced to speak the truth. The rest is now history. This is the real story of Jun Lozada and his text mate Col. Rocky. Col. Rocky was eventually demoted to corporal and sentenced to listen to Sec. Litong Lito, Defensor, Bunyan, and the rest of the tikal tikal gang for ten consecutive tikal tikal contests.

[ ] [ ] [ ]

Joker Arroyo unwittingly hit on the truth when he asked Jun Lozada to explain why he didn’t go to London, as indicated in his travel request form, when he was already in Hong Kong. When Jun Lozada tried to explain that he never really intended to go to London (he didn’t even have a visa) and that his bosses knew about this Joker almost shouted and said “What your telling us that all these government officials are in conspiracy with you!” Hello Senator Arroyo, are you there sir?” Senator Arroyo, who used to be my idol, is certainly losing it. He must have been the only one in that room who didn’t know that yes, all of them from Litong Lito and Defensor, to Atty. Bautista (barred from teaching in UP and Ateneo for some kind of a misdemeanour involving a female student kuno), to Razon and Defensor, all of them were in a conspiracy to keep the truth about the NBN-ZTE deal from the Filipino people.




Thursday, January 17, 2008

Capehan sa CAS

The CAS Faculty Club - Issues and Advocacies Committee is sponsoring monthly capehan sessions beginning January, 2008. All CAS faculty are invited to coffee, snacks, and intelligent discussion every last Friday of the month, 3 pm, at the CAS faculty rooms