Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Diarrhea in the Air

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Dec. 08, 2008

It was Columnist Lito Banayao who first raised the question of why the chartered Philippine Air Lines Flight 001, carrying President Gloria Arroyo and her party to the APEC Summit in Lima Peru last Nov. 21, was diverted in mid-flight six hours after leaving Manila and made to detour to Osaka, Japan.

The First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo, was said to have suffered “severe stomach pains and vomiting” – subsequently diagnosed as infectious diarrhea - and, although there were doctors on board, it was decided to unload him in Osaka so that he could receive emergency medical treatment in a hospital.

PGMA is said to have waited for Mr. Arroyo’s physicians to arrive in Osaka from Manila (in a San Miguel Corporation HS-125 executive jet) before proceeding to Lima, causing her to miss most of the first day’s agenda of the Summit..

Columnist Banayo quotes an unnamed “friend” who asked: “Was it a case of the presidential party being alerted by phone that someone among them was going to be picked up by authorities upon landing at Los Angeles airport for money-laundering activities?

“Remember that in the wake of Lehmann Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG and so many other Wall Street corpses, the federal anti-money laundering task force may have found the smoking gun documents about the financial capers of someone in the presidential plane.

“That would have been a terrible embarrassment, because no one else in the party aboard PAL Flight PR 001 was important enough to merit a reason to retreat and fly back except the President or her husband….”

Frank Wenceslao, president of an organization called Philippine Anti-Corruption Movement USA has a different take:

“GMA, husband and their children are reportedly barred to enter the US by virtue of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Bush administration’s ‘No Safe Haven’ policy to deny kleptocrats to enjoy the fruits of corruption.

“The (First) Family’s last visit when the policy was specially lifted was when Ambassador Kristie Kenney thought that the MOA on Ancestral Domain would push through and the US could negotiate a bases agreement with the Bangsa Moro.

“GMA’s US visit (last October) was only allowed for a head-of-state attending UN-related conferences or meetings.

“It is out of protocol (that) Mrs. Arroyo is allowed to come to the US, but not her husband. There is a report that Atty. Arroyo’s emergency landing in Japan happened when the presidential party learned (that) his request for (a) US visa wasn’t granted, and he really needed (one) for a stop-over in Los Angeles.

“Mike Arroyo might suffer what happened to Joc Joc Bolante and be detained….”

I do not know which version, if either one, is accurate: was Mr. Arroyo about to be arrested in LAX for money laundering, or was his request for a US visa denied and he was going to detained, like Joc Joc Bolante before him, for having an expired US visa. I tend to doubt that Mr. Arroyo would leave for LAX without a valid US visa.

As for money laundering, in my article US Capitalism Implodes (Sept. 22, 2008) I speculated if “the reason President Arroyo suddenly left for New York yesterday (Sept. 21) was to look after her family’s investments in the suddenly nationalized AIG (American International Group). Illicit funds parked in AIG would now be subject to US anti-racketeering RICO laws….”

But both Columnist Banayo and Crusader Wenceslao did not mention a significant fact: namely, that six hours out of Manila, in a non-stop 12 hour flight eastward towards LAX, PAL Flight 001 would have been within or near a triangle described by Wake Island, Midway Island and Hawaii, the first two US territories, the third a state in the American Union..

In case of a medical emergency situation – and I have no doubt that Mr. Arroyo needed emergency help - the most logical place to make a stop would have been Honolulu, about an hour and a half or two hours away from where the plane was when the decision was made to land and rush him to a hospital.

Turning back to Osaka suggests that the party deliberately avoided US territory – for either of the reasons suggested by Banayo and Wenceslao, or for another reason unknown to us.. Stopping at Honolulu also would not have delayed PGMA’s trip to Lima as much as the stop-over in Osaka did.

Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno was quoted as saying that “Six more hours to reach LAX! There was no way we could wait that long. I think the precautions taken were warranted. It is very hard to take risks with anyone’s life.” What risks would there have been in landing in Honolulu, aside from the two suggested by Banayo and Wenceslao.?

Why the presidential party seems to have deliberately avoided US territory should be the subject of a Senate investigation, not to determine if Mr. Arroyo really suffered from infectious diarrhea, but to salvage what is left of our national self-respect.

Is it really true that Mr. Arroyo was about to be arrested by authorities in LAX for money laundering activities? We have a right to know.

Is it really true that President Arroyo has been black-listed by US authorities and may set foot on US soil only for UN-related meetings and conferences? We also have a right to know..

The key element to ascertain in such a Senate investigation would be the exact location of the aircraft when the decision was made to make almost a 180-degree turn to Osaka. This can be extracted from the pilot, co-pilot and navigator under oath, with the understanding that perjury would cost them their licenses.

It can also be verified by the aircraft’s voice and cockpit recorders, as well as by the electronic records of the Los Angeles and Osaka control towers, all of which, presumably are beyond being corrupted by Filipino politicians and their lackeys.

Once the exact position of the aircraft has been established, the question of why the presidential party sought to land in far-away Osaka, and not in nearby Honolulu or other US airport , has to be answered satisfactorily. *****

PACQUIAO MANIA. Not being a boxing aficionado, I did not find time to watch the celebrated match. But I join in the national celebration of Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Oscar de La Hoya.

Pacquiao is now an authentic giant in his field of expertise, with tangible and convincing evidence of his superiority, compared to whom the pretentious President Arroyo is only a pygmy. (With apologies to the pygmies.)

I hope Pacquiao will have the humility to admit to himself that he knows absolutely nothing about the parliamentary system of government, and will resist the efforts of Kampi (the party of predatory pygmies) to make him the Poster Boy for Parliamentary to help the predatory pygmies remain in power beyond 2010..*****

Reactions to Other articles in and in

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


By Cheryl L. Daytec
on Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I am able to write this piece not because of democracy but in spite of its absence.

The past weeks, thousands of protesters took over Thailand’s main airport to force the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai, brother-in-law of former Prime Minister Thaksin who was ousted on charges of corruption. They did not destroy a single airport equipment. A Thai court dissolved the ruling party and banned Somchai from exercising powers as Prime Minister after a party executive was convicted of electoral fraud.

Asked to comment on the events in Thailand, presidential mouthpiece Anthony Golez declared that the Thai experience will not happen in the Philippines “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”

What gumption! Kulkumut Sinharana Ayudhaya, Thai Ambassador to the Philippines, was quick to demand an apology from Golez. He said, “The protest is only an indication that the Thai people are free to exercise their political right based on democracy.”

Golez should be red in the face until now. Kulkumut’s retort is a veiled rebuke on the state of the Philippine political climate. Philippine democracy is an illusion. Our human rights record states it in the plainest language. The Thai envoy knew he was standing on a moral high ground when he demanded an apology from Golez.

Contrary to Golez’s claim, there is no rule of law in this country. His boss who mastered sinister Machiavellian tactics placed herself way above it. We have a Rule of Arroyo characterized by repression. The Constitution which says that the Philippines is a republican and democratic state, that sovereignty resides in the people and that all governmental authority emanates from them, is just a scrap of paper. How can authority emanate from people who shiver in fear of their government? In a democracy, people can dethrone officials who seriously violate their trust even if they have to seize control of airports to do it. If officials betray the public trust by stealing votes, by bargaining away part of Philippine territory for political expediency, or by ordering the murder or abduction of political dissidents, the people may oust them. It is not only an act of political maturity, it is also an act of sovereignty. In fact, when people revolt against a despotic regime, they do not violate the Constitution. To assert sovereignty is to uphold the Constitution.

The Philippine political climate hinders political discourse which thrives in democracy. A friend serving as a Philippine Consul-General in Europe said to me: “You cannot say that the Philippines is not democratic. You are still free to speak out.” In a democracy, you say the truth without fear of the whip or the gun. In this country, you do so conscious that you invite great peril unto yourself. You condemn corruption in the military, you are court-martialed. You protect the rights of indigenous peoples, you are forcibly disappeared. You fight for the rights of peasants and laborers, you are indicted for rebellion. You expose the involvement of the First Family in corrupt acts of unparalleled magnitude, your father gets booted out as Speaker of the House of Representatives. You defend human rights, you are targeted as a terrorist. This is democracy? This is totalitarianism. And it is flourishing in a country that ratified most core human rights instruments enshrining political participation and which was one of the first 48 UN members to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. The rule of law means nothing to Golez’ boss. Philippine democracy has been purged of spirit.

Close to a thousand activists and journalists have fallen victims to extrajudicial killings and hundreds became desaparecidos during the eight-year Rule of Arroyo. This shames the record of the Marcos dictatorship which lasted for over two decades. The Philippines remains unbeaten in its record as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. According to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, Areteo Padrigao is the 62nd (not 52nd as I earlier wrote) journalist killed since 2001.

Journalists and scribes in Manipur, India went on protracted strike over the murder of their colleague, Konsam Rishikanta on 17 November 2008, the same day Padrigao was killed. Publications suspended operations to demonstrate their righteous indignation. Lawyer Babloo Loitongbam of the Manipur-based Human Rights Alert furnished me a record showing that Rishikanta is the fifth journalist to be killed in that state since 1993. Padrigao is the sixth this year!

And yet, how is the Filipino nation responding? Not with political maturity because unlike the Thais, we are not “free to exercise (our) political right based on democracy.” Except for the privilege speech of Senator Richard Gordon, the murder of Padrigao did not stir up a hornet’s nest. Has the spate of killings desensitized us that one more name added to statistics on the murdered no longer shocks us?

Prof Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions said: “(N)umbers are not what count. The impact of even a limited number of killings of the type alleged is corrosive in many ways. It intimidates vast numbers of civil society actors, it sends a message of vulnerability to all but the most well connected, and it severely undermines the political discourse which is central to a resolution of the problems confronting this country.”

The political atmosphere is ripe for protests if not a popular uprising or a revolution. But the Filipino people have been rendered politically immature. If one death is enough to send a chilling message, consider that there are more than 900 deaths and hundreds of disappearances under the Rule of Arroyo.

Mr. Golez, the Filipino national apathy is not sign of political maturity; it is symptomatic of alienation, of resignation, of hopelessness, of many other things, not least of all the death of democracy.

Your boss has been presiding over its wake and you are a pallbearer.

(This article also appears in The Northern Dispatch under my weekly column Smorgasbord.)

Comments are welcome.

Cheryl L. Daytec
Associate Professor
St. Louis University

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lucky for us Thailand is not a landlocked neighbor

By William M. Esposo

Palace spokesman, Dr. Anthony Golez, has been promoting and protecting the widely-regarded EVIL in the land. It is a heavy burden to try to defend what many people regard as EVIL. It also becomes inevitable that the defender of EVIL will eventually dish out too much bovine ordure.
Indeed, Anthony Golez dished out more bovine ordure than he can swallow. He reaped the vehement protest of the Ambassador of Thailand, His Excellency Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhaya, for comments he made about the recent protest actions in Thailand.

When asked if the Thai protest actions will be duplicated here, Golez answered that such is highly unlikely “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”

Perhaps out of fear that the Thais might just inspire the Filipinos to act and remove the EVIL in the land, Golez indirectly branded the Thai protest actions as a sign of political immaturity.
The inference of political immaturity of the Thais is something no Thai Ambassador will take sitting down — especially after the comment was carried in local and Thai national media.

The Thai envoy countered the Golez comment by saying that what has been happening in Thailand is a showcase of democracy. How can any Filipino argue with that when we ourselves have taken great pride in our own People Power Revolution of 1986 — rightfully claiming that we taught the world a new form of non-violent activism that can topple tyrants and despots?

The Thai Ambassador added: “The protest was only an indication that the Thai people are free to exercise their political rights based on democracy. In fact, the protesters were not violent and they did not destroy the two airports’ facilities.”

The diplomatic faux pas of Golez even affected Senator Richard Gordon who was also called to task by the Thai Ambassador.

Dick Gordon merely commented that street protests similar to those in Thailand will happen here if the foolishness about Charter change does not cease. Gordon did not say anything negative about the Thais or their democracy. He was merely predicting a political crisis that can happen here.

Dick Gordon — one of this Chair Wrecker’s top three favorites for 2010 president — was well within his right to challenge the Thai Ambassador’s tirade against him.
Regarding the ‘political immaturity’ issue, Gordon said: “I did not say that. Why should I say that? I do not know where that came from, but I am sure it did not come from me. Maybe it was from another individual.”

Gordon was further quoted: “Far be it from my mind to say anything against a country. Why should I say that Thai people are politically immature? I think the ambassador had been misinformed on this matter.”

Gordon added: “My statement was clear. What I said was that with the present situation here in the Philippines, such as the Charter change issue, which is also very combustible, we may also find ourselves in the midst of a political unrest if we are not careful.”

A diligent student of history, Dick Gordon noted: “I hold Thai people in very high esteem. Thais have always been experts in dancing diplomacy because they have never been colonized by anybody. They have always remained neutral.”

We are indeed lucky that our country is not a landlocked neighbor of Thailand. By no means can the Thai Ambassador’s protest be treated as an exaggerated response. In the 1980s, another Thai Ambassador also protested when a locally-produced television commercial spoofed the 19th century Thai monarch who was featured in the musicale The King and I. That should tell you how seriously the Thais regard their country, culture, traditions, symbols and figureheads.

The Thais have been known to be ferocious warriors and they have long attained a strong sense of nationhood while we Filipinos are still basically tribal. I love our country and if we ever engage the Thais in a real shooting war, I’ll surely fight for our country. But my betting money will have to follow where my better judgment tells me which side will win that war.

When I had the chance to visit Thailand in 1980, when my former business partners and I were seriously considering going into a cut flower enterprise with a Thai orchid grower, I saw for myself how fiercely nationalistic the Thais are.

At that time, there was serious concern over the Domino Theory happening in Indo-China following the US defeat in Vietnam in 1974. South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have fallen to Communist hands and many were holding their breath if Thailand will follow. Tensions were already being felt in the Thailand-Vietnam border.

In 1980, I thought that I will be seeing an exodus of Thai citizens who feared a Vietnamese invasion. After all, who would not fear a country that just roundly defeated the US? What I saw made me admire the Thais.

There was no sense of fear or panic at all in Thailand. I asked our prospective business partner if he was not afraid of a Vietnamese invasion. He answered: “We beat them before. We will beat them again.”

Out shopping, I posed the same question to many shopkeepers. They all gave similar answers. A female shop owner answered me: “We are 50 million. They are only 40 million. They should be afraid, not us.”
* * *
Chair Wrecker website:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

‘Unhappy is the land that needs a hero’

By Ellen Tordesillas

I’d like Gloria Arroyo and her cabal in the House of Representatives to push charter change to the end.

So what if 64 per cent of Filipinos oppose charter change that would result in Gloria Arroyo staying in power forever? (Only 15 percent agree and 21 per cent are undecided, according to a September-October 2008 survey by the Social Weather Station)

What can those 64 percent, that roughly translates to almost 60 million Filipinos, do? Majority of Filipinos also believe that Gloria Arroyo cheated in the 2004 elections but did they do anything to punish the person who masterminded the thwarting of their will?

Much as I detest the shamelessness of Arroyo,I have to admit that in the seven years that she has been in power, she has ingeniously succeeded in perverting Filipino values producing a docile people that have lost the capacity to be outraged over blatant lying, cheating, and stealing.

Rather than go to the streets and protest unbridled corruption the way the Thais did , Filipinos turn a blind eye, suffer in silence and wait for their reward in heaven.The smarter ones join the corrupt and those who feel frustrated flee the country.

The other day, with the news that hundreds of Filipino workers in Taiwan have lost their job due to the financial crisis, Arroyo blithely said , don’t worry, the Department of Labor said there are job openings in Bulgaria. Yes, the Filipino is going global. Global slaves.

After disposing with dispatch the fourth impeachment complaint against Arroyo, Malacañang allies in the Lower House are now set to tackle the two House Resolutions on charter change. One was filed by House Speaker Prospero Nograles to open the Constitution to amendments that would allow land ownership by foreign corporations and associations and another one by Kampi president Rep. Luis Villafuerte which calls for Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly to amend the Constitution.

The one filed by Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas which seeks to transfer the elections from May 2010 to May 2011, had been withdrawn, according to Rep. Victor Ortega, chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.

All the three resolutions call for joint voting of the two chambers of Congress which Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile said will render the Senate inutile.

Church personalities led by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines have spoken out against Malacañang’s latest drive for charter change. El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde has said he is opposed to charter change.

The Makati Business Club has issued a statement saying changing the Constitution now is not the answer to the country’s economic problems. It warned of political instability if Malacañang insists on it.

Former President Estrada vows to lead protests against Charter Change. Estrada said he will attend a multi-sectoral anti Cha-Cha rally to be held in Makati on Feb. 12.

Arroyo has remain unperturbed by the opposition to charter change, according to her spokespersons. Analysts say it’s now or never for Arroyo because time is running out for charter change as option for her holding on to power (the other is declaration of emergency rule).

In an article last July, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban sees a tight timetable for Arroyo: congressional approval by Dec. 31, 2008, Supreme Court decision by June 30, 2009, and plebiscite in September 2009.

Panganiban said, “The elections scheduled on the second Monday of May 2010 will then be held for members of the new Parliament, not for president, vice president, or senators. GMA will secure a parliamentary seat in Pampanga and then become prime minister in a Lakas-Kampi-dominated Parliament after her term as president expires on June 30, 2010.”

Arroyo is banking on the people’s apathy that has allowed her to cheat in the 2004 elections and continue in the plunder of government resources to buy the loyalty of her cohorts. I’d like her to push further because I’d like to see how much more degradation Filipinos can take.

There is no question about the people’s hatred for Arroyo. Ask the taxi driver, the street vendor. Yet, people are not coming out for “people power”. One of the reasons forwarded is that there is no rallying figure just like Cory Aquino in 1986.

That is very sad. I’m reminded of a line in Bertolt Brecht’s play, “Life of Galileo”: A former pupil of Galilio remarked, “Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.” Galileo replied, “No Andrea. Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christ warned us that the devil will quote scripture

By William M. Esposo

Easily the most noted utterance from the House Justice Committee’s Impeachment case hearing was that of Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia Sr. who compared Jesus Christ to Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

The 83-year-old Garcia said: “More than 2000 years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified because of an opinion survey. Pontius Pilate presented our Lord to the crowd and said, ‘Whom would you prefer, Barabbas or Christ to crucify? Our Lord Jesus Christ lost in the survey. Is that how we are going to judge our President because of an opinion survey?”

Palawan Bishop Pedro Arigo reacted. Bishop Arigo was quoted to have said: “Let’s keep our sense of respect for religious matters. The comparison is inappropriate.”

Being a Church leader, Bishop Arigo should be the last to be surprised. Didn’t Jesus Christ warn us that the devil will quote scripture? If the devil will quote scripture, those who help promote and protect the EVIL in the land can easily liken Christ to anyone just to suit their purpose.
In fact, that is the big difference between Christ and the devil when quoting scripture. Christ will use scripture to enlighten, to guide. The devil will quote scripture to lie, to mislead and to take advantage.

Jesus Christ also taught: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” But do our Representatives — who for the most part represent only their own interests — follow that teaching?

Do we not often see our politicians use religion to serve Mammon? How many times have we seen the greediest among them, the horniest fornicators, the cruelest murderers pose for the cameras receiving Holy Communion? Plundering a poor country, fornicating and killing are mortal sins and those in the state of moral sin are not supposed to receive Holy Communion. But that is a minor impediment to them.

We’re also taught to respect the will of the people because the voice of the people is said to be the voice of God. But what do our Representatives do?

We cannot recall a survey where majority of the people ever clamored for Charter change. The most recent SWS survey showed that 64% wanted NO CHARTER CHANGE. But does any of that ever matter to Rep. Pablo Garcia and his ilk, the promoters and protectors of EVIL in our land? Did it ever matter to them that when surveyed, the majority of Filipinos wants an impeachment hearing in the Senate to provide closure to the issues with GMA?

Perhaps Bishop Arigo’s reaction will stand a better chance of falling on fertile ground if addressed to his fellow Church leaders - specifically those who protect the EVIL in the land. We’d like to think that the Cardinals and Bishops who protect the EVIL in the land are merely misinformed and misguided. After all, it is no secret that this Arroyo regime has special operators who go around to “influence” Church leaders.

One such operator I know even carried a cabinet rank — now PIA Director-General Dodi Limcaoco. Who can forget the late Teddy Benigno’s outrage, which Teddy wrote about in his STAR column, about how Dodi planted the seeds of disinformation on Bishop Soc Villegas against BANGON, the movement Teddy was then promoting.

Lying and evil are twins born from the loins of the devil. To promote and protect evil, lying is a MUST. Lying, in fact, is the main mission of the anti-Christ. The very first operation of the devil on man was that of the notorious serpent in the Garden of Eden. The serpent’s big lie resulted in the fall of man and the existence of original sin. Because of the serpent’s big lie, Jesus Christ had to be born and die on the cross.

Now get a load of this — one of our Cardinals said this to a group that was asking him to help promote the truth about the EVIL in the land: “Truth and lie is the same. It is icing on the cake. What is important is the cake.”

This Cardinal, whose identity is withheld to protect the guilty, said this to defend his position not to meddle in the mission to promote the truth regarding burning issues that destroy this country. A nun who was with the group that met the Cardinal could not believe that a Prince of the Catholic Church could ever say that.

Like a great leader, Christ promoted the truth. Thus, to the nun who heard that highly-controversial statement of the Cardinal about truth and lie being the same icing on the cake — it ran counter to what Christ advocated. We see nuns consistently on the forefront to promote the truth and defend the weak. You can just imagine her big disappointment to hear a Prince of the Catholic Church say that truth and lie is the same icing on the cake.

If you’re wondering why the Church cannot seem to take a united stand against the EVIL in the land, if you’re wondering why only five Bishops spoke of the country’s need for immediate change — then, it is high time that you realized the Catholic Church in the Philippines is also undergoing a similar turmoil like the rest of our society.

Just as members of Philippine society are in conflict, so too are the leaders of the Catholic Church. Some leaders of the Catholic Church have been co-opted by the EVIL in the land. Pathetic if they don’t realize it, devious if they know what they are doing.

To their credit, it is the priest and nuns who are diligently and faithfully pursuing their avowed mission. Some of them have secretly confided to me their disappointment over the failure of some of their leaders to protect the least of our brethren.

I am told by a reliable source in the CBCP that even the Papal Nuncio has expressed concern over the corruption that is now omnipresent and sinking deeply in this country. By omnipresent means that corruption has also seeped into the Catholic Church.

That of course comes as no surprise. Just read the era of the Medici Popes and you’ll know what corruption in the Church has been like. Why do you think the late great Pope John Paul II has been apologizing all over the place during his papacy?

The Catholic Church cannot deny that it has to play the key and crucial role of shepherding this troubled flock back to the ways that Christ wanted mankind to live.
Only our religious leaders can best heal what ails the Filipino nation because the core of what ails the Filipino nation is corrupted values. But before they can heal us, our healers must first heal themselves.
* * *
Chair Wrecker website: www.chair

Friday, December 26, 2008

The March For Change

Jose Ma. Montelibano

I have been traveling to several cities in the United States, seven this
trip and seven two months ago, giving priority to where Fil-Ams either were
bunched in great numbers or were of strategic influence. I had seen the
beginning of the US primaries, witnessed the great contest between Obama and
McCain, felt the shock of an economic downtrend that turned to a meltdown,
and now waiting eagerly as my Fil-Am hosts the new presidency launched on
the message of change.

In the same year, I saw the crisis of rice supply and outrageous price
increases, the removal of Joe de Venecia as Speaker of the House, the return
of Joc Joc Bolante from US detention and a continuing fertilizer
controversy, the removal of Manny Villar as Senate President, another failed
impeachment bid, and Danny Lim’s message of change.

Indeed, change is now inevitable, change that is not usual, change that
offers to be dramatic if not radical. Change does not target the Philippines
especially but the whole world; however, the Philippines is very vulnerable
to change. That is the fate of a people whose capacity for assimilation has
been intensified by a history of dependence. Ours is truly a fate that is
sensitive and often adaptive to the fate of other nations, particularly the
United States.

And it is the United States that is going through a process that almost all
of its population have little or no experience of. Many compare the present
crisis to the great crash depression 80 years ago, but the crisis is not
only economic, it is also deeply social, political, and global. As a
continuing vassal of the United States, the Philippines cannot but shudder
as America itself cringes in fear. Its own struggle to overcome poverty, to
dismantle corruption, and to stave off violence in Moroland and
NPA-influenced areas make the Philippines weak from internal pressure and
helpless before external challenges.

A reader asked me if I could also write about solutions as I have been quite
articulate about the ills that choke our people and country. In a
complicated situation, the answers are usually simplicity itself. When a
country is corrupt and judged by its peers to be so following a process of
measure applied evenly to other counties, it simply says that governance
should be good and clean. When the country is massively afflicted with
poverty, it simply says that greed and avarice have won over caring and
sharing. And when a people become victims of violence from war, rebellion
and summary executions, it simply means that personal or narrow agenda is
stronger than respect for life.

In my mind, as I am sure is also present in the minds of many, the answers
are simple, available, do-able and replicable. It is not that the answers
are missing or baffling, it is simply that we do not want them badly enough,
or not yet suffering enough. When those who govern are corrupt, people can
take them down from their lofty posts if the courts will not. When the
majority of Filipinos are poor, they can use their numbers to force change
and equitable treatment. Revolutions do not honor constitutions but creates
new ones. The problems that confront us have not hurt us to a point when we
simply move to eliminate them in the most direct and expeditious manner.

Because most of us are spiritually guided to give the other cheek, then we
do. Because that same guidance tells us that we must not confront wrong with
another wrong, we have no choice but to believe that the principle of good
being more powerful than evil will eventually cause a divine way out for
suffering victims. The Filipino’s obedience to teachings and resiliency in
the face of adversity have unfortunately combined to make him tolerant and

But even tolerance and hope cannot stop the march of change. Change is part
of a universal formula, a force that evens the odds and ultimately shows the
most effective pathway for progress or for justice. And change has begun in
America which had the most power to resist it. How can the Philippines then
avoid it?

The agents of change have not been silent or lazy in the Philippines. They
have simply misread the psyche of victims, or they have offered themselves
to be the answer when they do not carry the anointment of life. And in their
frustration, they presumed a ripeness that was not yet there but knocking
more loudly today. Poverty is a curse, corruption is a curse, and all curses
lead surely to violence and great pain.

Filipino-Americans are acutely sensitive to the dynamics of poverty and
corruption in the Philippines and decry not only the ugliness of social
cancers but the shame all Filipinos have to bear because of these. From
across oceans, Fil-Am advocates for change send clear messages that they,
too, will use the mood of change in America to trigger the changes they seek
in the motherland. There is no doubt that leaders in Fil-Am communities will
seek to be heard by an Obama presidency and Hillary possibly being the next
Secretary of State.

The demand for good governance will be better served if a corresponding
invitation for responsible citizenship will be presented to both government
and people. People powered revolutions had caused initial change in
governance which could not be sustained because citizens did not understand
that they, too, had to show the change they demanded from others.

Power need not always be the object of change; it can also be empowerment.
People forget that change in the form of empowered Filipinos dislodged power
twice in recent history. It is true that power can trigger change, but just
as true that the empowered can change the powerful. When a current situation
is not good, the powerful can lead others to change. If not, then they must
risk being changed.

What is clear is that more than usual change is the prognosis of the times.
As America and the rest of the developed world reel from the change that
buffets them, Filipinos everywhere must understand they are next.

Responses may be sent to

“In bayanihan, we will be our brother’s keeper and forever shut the door to
hunger among ourselves.”

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

God Bless the Philippines and the Filipinos worldwide.

Pilipino, saludo ako sa yo!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What about Gandhi?

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Dec. 03, 2008

The daring attack by Muslim militants on several high-profile targets in Mumbai last week has stunned the political and security leadership of India. Which may explain why various narratives of the incident have been hard to reconcile with each other.

Depending on who’s saying what, there were ten or thirteen militants, of whom nine were killed and one was captured. Or six were killed and seven were captured. It is hard to imagine that only ten or 13 militants could attack ten or 12 targets, simultaneously or one after another, killing 179 people (or was it 193?), of whom six or 12 were foreigners, including five (or six) Israelis or American Jews..

Or that an unspecified number of militants were routed out of the Oberoi Hotel, leaving 30, later reduced to 24, bodies behind. At the Taj Mahal Hotel, one or maybe three militants were holding one or perhaps five persons hostage, but were finally all killed.

I think the first thing Indian authorities should learn from thus tragic incident is how to count accurately, and to assign one official spokesman or woman to release the presumably accurate official numbers ASAP to pre-empt guesswork by various media agencies feeding on rumors…

The official story line is that the militants came to Mumbai by ship from Pakistan: two Pakistani ships, later reduced to one, were seized. From the ship(s), the militants were landed by rubber dinghies to make their daring assault on Mumbai.

Who were these militants? A previously unknown group, Dekkan Mujahedeen, claimed credit for the attack, which has been called India’s 9/11. Later, after the sole (?) captured attacker was interrogated, it was announced that the assault was planned and executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, (”The Army of the Righteous”),a Pakistan-based Islamist group that has carried out earlier attacks on Indian targets, including the Parliament building in New Delh in December 2001..

Although they cannot strictly be classified as suicide bombers, the militants launched their assault apparently knowing that they would not come out of it alive. They were shaheed or martyrs of the Islamic faith, who died in the process of killing infidels – be they Hindus, Jews or Christians, especially Americans and Britons – and who each has been welcomed in Heaven by those legendary 72 virgins.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) has declared Hindus and Jews as “enemies of Islam.” In 2006, it declared a fatwa on Pope Benedict XVI and urged Muslims to assassinate him for his controversial remarks about Mohammed and Islam. Also in 2006, LET militants bombed a train, killing 211 passengers and injuring 407 others. From 1970 to 2004, 12,539 persons have been killed in terrorist attacks in India, according to the Global Terrorism Database of the University of Maryland.

And not all of them were Hindus killed by Muslims. In 2002, as many as 2,000 Muslims were killed by Hindu paramilitary militias such as the Bajrang Dai n the state of Gujarat alone. In 2008, scores of Christians have been killed by the Bajrang Dai in the state of Orissa, for refusing to convert to Hinduism.

India has become one of the most violence-racked countries in the world, along with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. What ever happened to Mohandas Gandhi, the universal icon for non-violence, who is credited with having inspired the non-violent Civil Rights movement under Martin Luther King in the US, the dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa, the People Power “Revolution” in the Philippines, the largely bloodless overthrow of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union?

In an article in the October 25 issue of the International Herald Tribune, - appropriately titled Forget Gandhi, violence is now the chosen path - Anand Giridharadas, wrote from, also appropriately, Mumbai, that:

“From Mumbai to Bengal to the central plains, violence is achieving an exalted new status even by this region’s bloody standards. Politically motivated beating and burning and killing, never wholly absent from the subcontinent, have become more than spasmodic human failings. They have started to replace hunger strikes, sit-ins and marches as the basic tools of Indian political life, guiltlessly deployed, fatally effective.

“Forget what you’ve heard about Gandhi and nonviolence in India. This is a nation of militias now….”

The author was writing not just about political violence. In his Mumbai, taxi drivers went on strike against a new city ordinance against ageing and decrepit taxicabs, and those drivers who did not support the strike had their cabs’ windows smashed. Later on another strike was called, this time against immigrants from Northern India who were being given franchises to drive taxicabs. Their cabs’ windows were also smashed.

Mumbai nationalists also staged protests against shopkeepers who displayed store signs only in English, not in the local Marathi language. Their shop windows were also smashed. When the airline Jet Airways laid off 1,900 workers due to the global financial crisis, the same nationalist group – led by the Hindu rabble-rpusert Raj Thackeray – vowed that no Jet Airways would be allowed to take off from Mumbai airport unless the 1,900 workers were rehired.

Continued Anand: “Maoist insurgents are firebombing their way through central India, winning control over some destitute areas. The government’s response? More violence. Government security forces, in tandem with a vigilante group called Salwa Judum, have, according to Human Rights Watch, engaged in ‘threats, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, killings, pillage and burning of villages to force residents into supporting Salwa Judum.’

“Meanwhile, Muslim extremists blow up markets, Hindu extremists slaughter Christians and politicians convene commissions.

“Whatever its reputation, India has never exactly been a nation of pacifists. Gandhi represented just one strand of thinking, and his view is not the only one to have prevailed. From Kashmir’s jihad to various secessionisms to Hindu-Muslim riots, political violence is as Indian as tandoori chicken…..

“This political fragmentation pits tribe against tribe. It has corroded the faith among Indians that the institutions that hear and answer grievances – the police, courts, media – are neutral. All increasingly are seen as biased, answerable to their different masters, rather than impartial executors of the public good.

“All contribute to a growing sense of powerlessness. And so if you are a leader of a political faction that wants to be heard, it is not irrational to believe you need a militia of violent young men to make yourself heard……”

Sad. Those who naively believe that federalism, exemplified by India, is the cure for ethnic and sectarian violence should look more closely at India and weep.*****

Reactions to Other articles in and in

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let them feel the rage

By Lito Banayo

Bobby Kennedy, the man on his way to certain election as president before he was gunned down by an assassin, once wrote - “Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened– when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”

The problem with our countrymen is that they have been too busy minding their “own business”, which is selling in the sidewalks and being milked of their earnings by crooked “kotong” cops or barangay aides of another crook of a mayor, or trying to sell shares of stock in a market that has seen better days and will see red for months and perhaps years to come, or busy waiting for a 2010 as “redemption” from the bad government that they now endure — too busy “minding their own business” and forgetting that they are part of a bigger community called nation.

But we see rays of hope. We hear more and more people speaking out. One man who has removed himself from sterling public service and in his quiet and self-effacing ways, serves the nation still by incisive inputs to that group of former senior government officials who have taken it upon themselves to analyze the national malaise as dispassionately as humans can be spared their own inner rage, is Tomas Africa, former chief statistician of the government.

I share with our readers something he recently wrote to fellow FSGO members, in reaction to a news report that had Luis Villafuerte of Camarines Sur boasting that his abominable Kampi is close to getting 197 signatures of members of the lower House on a resolution to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly (Con-Ass).

“If that is the KAMPI position, here is my take:

“If the 1987 Constitution intended the Congress to vote as one in amending the Charter through a Constituent Assembly, 197 signatures could already be sourced out solely from the 238 members of the House of Representatives (HOR). Why bother with how the Senate would vote?
(Incidentally, as we write this, radio is reporting that only 21 HOR members registered negative votes against the asinine impeachment report of the Committee on Justice headed by Matias Defensor, padre de Miguelito el minero, y padre tambien de Maite, who manages that infernal stretch of road called the South Luzon Expressway or SLEX – what lucky, favored family they are. Now 238 less 21, my arithmetic teacher in Grade One taught me, is 217, indeed more than Villafuerte’s magic 197.)

“What did it take to become a member of the 14th Congress? Look at some official numbers from the COMELEC website: To get into the Senate, the 12th placer in the 14 May 2007 senatorial elections got 11,005,866 (or 37.3 percent) votes out of 29,498,660 who actually voted.

“To be a member of the (horrible) HOR, the winner in the 14 May 2007 congressional elections in Batanes garnered 4,430 (or 54.4 percent) votes out of 8,147[1] actual voters. In Camiguin the winner had 24,277 votes (54.3 percent) of a total 44,677[2] voters, or.
“320, 677 (2.03 percent of 30,056,695) party-list voters placed the sectoral organization An Waray on their ballots.

“The spheres of influence and representation are obviously different. A member of the Senate is voted into office by the national electorate and a member of the HOR, by the constituency in their district (which can be less than 1 percent of total voters in the country, but of course through no fault of theirs).

“To the 167 members (and counting…) aboard the bandwagon at the HOR (ABHOR) who have already signed the resolution, what makes them think that their individual votes will have the same weight as the individual votes of the Senators in amending the Charter through a Constituent Assembly under the present Constitution? Why bother the Supreme Court justices with another test of their loyalty and insult their intelligence and integrity?

“Chances are that those promoting the CON-ASS have constipated asses which are enthroned on seats padded with ‘tong-pats’.”

Indeed, what seems to be the game plan of the abominable Kampi and its other coHORts in the horrible lower House?

They get the required three-fourths vote to their resolution to convene a Con-Ass, which is 197 if you total up the membership of the two houses of Congress. The Senate will not come up with a similar resolution, and instead will elevate the interpretation of the ambiguous constitutional language on the matter to the Supreme Court. Timeline? January, by which time a new addition to the Supreme Court shall have been appointed (choose between Agnes Devanadera and one of the Sandiganbayan justices who participated in the Erap trial). By the time the Supreme Court likely decides, it will have been late February, or early March, by which time, another new SC associate justice has been appointed. That removes one each from the ranks of the 9-6 voting trend in recent constitutionally-interpretative decisions of the high tribunal, but adds one more to the ranks of the Arroyo appointees, or 10-5. Will the new appointees toe the line of the kaKampi ni GMA? Now quake in your shoes.

But how will the Dureza’s. Remonde’s, Limcaoco’s, Puno’s and Ermita’s of this world, even if one or two of them would rather slit each other’s throat, lay the predicate, prepare the public mind, to accept — suffer if you may — the need to amend, and later, the need to change the form of government to suit their “and she shall rule, forever and ever…hallelujah!” scripted chorus?
He,he,he. Nothing is impossible to these guys and their conjugal masters in the stinking palace beside the stinking river.

There is the economic crisis, with tens of thousands of OFW’s coming home to the benighted land, and tens of thousands in the benighted land losing their jobs in factories that can no longer export as much. There will be farmers all over the benighted land going on hunger strikes (as if they have ever been less than hungry) and march towards the metropolis, because agrarian reform shall have been given the death blow by the non-extension of CARP. There is the “terrorist” bogey in the South, with both the GRP and the secessionists not making headway in peace negotiations because both are not sincere in the first place. All of these issues, and more, the hallelujah chorus will claim, along with their better-syncopated second voices, Fajardo named after a rock in the river Rhine, and Golez whatever, to chant “charter change is the CHANGE we need”. And the high tribunal just might assent, and chant, “charter change is the CHANGE we believe in”. I would love to see President Barack Obama go to the International Court of Justice and sue these guys for plagiarizing him.

Speak out. Cry out. Shout, you hopeless citizens of this benighted land. To you we commend the voice of Joaquin “Chino” Roces, publisher of the then well-respected Manila Times who preferred to close it down than be a mouthpiece of a far more fearful Ferdinand Marcos, one of those who refused to sleep in the long night of authoritarianism:

“We all have to link and expand our ranks till the entire country is bound together with the strength and the ardour of our resolve. I do not exaggerate when I say this could be our last chance to save democracy in the Philippines. The darkness thickens and we have to move.”

* * *

A happy postscript:

Another activist in the FSGO (not that any of us are not activists), former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Ging Quintos-Deles (whose father the late respected paediatrician Florencio Quintos, MD, saved me from an epidemic called H-fever when I was a grade-schooler), recently supped at a private dining club where pig knuckles and sauerkraut are a delight, along with to-die-for seasonally available fat, white asparagus. On their way out, she and her friends saw Romy Neri (of course you haven’t forgotten him), Vic Corpus (still remember him?) and Cyril del Callar, erstwhile Napocor boss who has quietly taken sick leave and moved to the Land Bank as director, courtesy of who else but GMA. They were in deep discussions with two others who looked, according to the waiters, like they wandered here from somewhere in the sands of Araby. Probably cooking up another deal, eh?

Romy quickly recognized Ging, who sat with him in GMA’s cabinet before Ging realized she would not be party to the coven, while Romy revelled in serving the “evil” he eloquently described. Ging tried everything — step back, turn aside, not smile, but the gentle lady that she is, could not but limply accept the proffered hand of one for whom she has lost all respect.

But the encounter has firmed her resolve, that Romy’s is the last of those “judas hands” that she will shake. Hooray for her.

Twice before she snubbed Norberto Gonzales in similar encounters. Hindi na nakatiis si Norbert, the infamous acolyte of the equally notorious Archie Intengan of the Jesuit society, both conscripted into the un-holy coven. He approached Ging, and asked, “Hindi mo man lang ba ako babatiin?” or words to that effect. Ging simply pretended she did not see, or hear, the Norbert.

Yes. Let them feel the rage. Let them all feel the rage. And yes, “be not afraid”.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Telltale Signs
Rodel E. Rodis

A generational divide separated those Filipino Americans who supported and voted for Barack Obama and those who supported and voted for John McCain. While this was certainly not always true, this is what might be concluded from attending a “Kapihan” debate hosted by the Philippine American Press Club (PAPC) in San Francisco last October where all the McCain supporters were over 50 years old while the Filipinos for Obama, except for me, were all below 30.

One McCain backer confided to me that whenever he thinks of “Americans”, his subliminal image is that of white Americans. Because he is grateful to these “Americans” for whatever success he has achieved in the US, he believes that it is only fair that the president of the US should be an “American”.

In his view, Filipinos who immigrate to the US are still “guests” who have been invited to this great country and we should show our gratitude to our “hosts” by electing an “American” native like McCain instead of the son of a Kenyan student. (The irony is that McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone while Obam a was born in Hawaii.)

The young Obama supporters in the room, on the other hand, were all born in the US and grew up as “Americans” and don’t see themselves as “guests” in the US. They look up to African Americans like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as pioneers in the struggle for civil rights whose success benefited all minorities including Filipinos.

The main speaker for the McCainiacs was Milpitas Mayor Joe Esteves who accused Obama of supporting abortion and same sex marriage, which he said is against his religious beliefs.

The spokesperson for the Obamistas, New York University Law School grad Angelica Jongco, explained that Obama personally opposes abortion but believes that it is the women, not the government, who has the right to make that choice. She cited statistics that show that there have been more abortions under George W. Bush than under Bill Clinton. What Obama wants to do, Jongco said, is educate more people about how to prevent pregnancies so there will be less need for abortions.

While Jongco expounded on the social programs that Obama will create to benefit the poor and the middle class, “Joe the Mayor” Esteves warned that Obama would raise taxes which would not be good for business.
In the Open Forum that ensued, va rious members of the audience expanded on their political views and religious beliefs. The stereotype that conservatives are religious while liberals are “secular” was found not to be true. As Sociologist Paul Froese noted, “political liberals and conservative are both religious. They just have different religious views.”

A study that was conducted by the Baylor University Institute for Studies of Religion in Waco, Texas and released to the public in September of 2006 showed that people’s political views are a reflection of their image of the Almighty.

In a national survey conducted by Gallup for Baylor, 1,721 Americans, a statistically representative sampling of the USA by age, gender and race, were each asked 77 questions, with nearly 400 answer choices.

“Though 91.8% say they believe in God”, USA Today reported, they had four distinct views of God’s personality and engagement in human affairs. These Four Gods - dubbed by researchers Authoritarian, Benevolent, Critical or Distant - tell more about people’s social, moral and political views and personal piety than the familiar categories of Protestant/Catholic/Jew or even red state/blue state.” Or even generations.

According to Baylor’s Christopher Bader, “you learn more about people’s moral and political behavior if you know their image of God than almost any other measure. It turns out to be more powerful a predictor of social and political views than the usual markers of church attendance or belief in the Bible.”

The “Authoritarian” God, the God of the Old Testament, according to Bader, “is angry at humanity’s sins and engaged in every creature’s life and world affairs. He is ready to throw the thunderbolt of judgment down on the unfaithful or ungodly”. Filipinos who were educated in Catholic schools in the Philippines were presented with an “Authoritarian” God as its primary model, a legacy of Spanish colonialism. Those who look at God this way “are religiously and politically conservative people”, Bader says. They generally register as and vote Republican.
The “Benevolent” God is “primarily a forgiving God”. This is the God of the New Testament, God the Son, Jesus Christ, who preached love and understanding. Those who believe in this God are inclined to say caring for the sick and needy ranks highest on the list of what it means to be a good person. Democrats generally believe in this “Benevolent” God.

The “Critical” God has his judgmental eye on the world, but he’s not going to intervene, either to punish or to comfort, Bader said. “This group is more paradoxical,” Bader explained further. “They have very traditional beliefs, picturing God as the classic bearded old man on high. Yet they’re less inclined to go to church or affiliate seriously with religious groups. They are less inclined to see God as active in the world. Their politics are definitely not liberal, but they’re not quite conservative, either.” People who vote Independent or Libertarian tend to look up to a “Critical” God.

The “Distant” God is seen as “a cosmic force that launched the world, then left it spinning on its own”. This view is strong among “moral relativists,” those least likely to say any moral choice is always wrong, and among those who don’t attend church”, Bader says. They are also distant from the political process and generally don’t vote.

What is your image of God?

(Please send your comments to or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at 2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call (415) 334-7800. For past columns, log on to

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Manny Pacquiao didn’t win a great fight

By William M. Esposo

This discussion is not intended to wreck the chair of Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.
In fact, this Chair Wrecker postponed writing this column to allow Manny Pacquiao to savor his victory and hero’s welcome. The postponement is also intended to allow the euphoria to settle — a euphoria that was created more by media hype than actual ferocious ring combat.
This discussion is not even intended to diminish the achievement of Manny Pacquiao. Manny manhandled Oscar “Golden Boy” de la Hoya the way his handlers correctly planned his fight strategy.

However, it takes two to tango just as it takes two great ring combatants to make a classic boxing fight that could match the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights, the greatest of which culminated in the unforgettable Ali-Frazier III — the “Thrilla in Manila.”

Ali-Frazier III was a great fight because both combatants were capable of knocking out each other. If Frazier didn’t quit before the final round — Ali might have done it. Ali was so exhausted that he collapsed after being declared the winner by TKO.

When Pacman answered the opening bell, he fought his best fight but the Golden Boy did not compliment his effort. Oscar de la Hoya cheated the public and the Pacman by just going into the ring to collect a big paycheck without displaying the form that everybody expected to see that night in Las Vegas. The Pacman came to fight a bigger, stronger opponent who turned out to be nothing more than a shadow of his past greatness.

It is immaterial if de la Hoya’s lackluster performance was due to rapid loss of weight, wrong training or a left shoulder injury that prevented the use of his feared left jab. The point is de la Hoya did not provide Pacquiao the necessary counter force that would have made their encounter a truly great fight.

The fight was hyped as a battle between the Biblical David and Goliath. But at least in the David and Goliath story — Goliath tried to obliterate David. The Oscar de la Hoya that fought Manny Pacquiao did not even appear to have the desire to win.

Some folks I know, including two ladies, even suspected that de la Hoya threw the fight after betting that Pacquiao will win. A $1,000,000 bet on Pacquiao would have won $1,350,000; a $5,000,000 bet would have won $6,750,000! Stranger things have happened in boxing.
One person told me: “You see de la Hoya is also a promoter of Pacquiao fights and so he could be protecting his investment by keeping the Pacman legend alive for bigger paydays ahead.”
True enough, the Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. prospective fights with Pacquiao are now being floated and these are promising to be bigger paydays than the de la Hoya fight. Had de la Hoya beaten Pacquiao, the Hatton and Mayweather fights will not be generating the same excitement and potential revenues.

It’s true that the fight turned out to be a mismatch. But a great fight it never was. To herald that bout as one of boxing’s finest encounters is to further promote the lies and illusions that victimize this nation.

The Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight was no different from the Joe Louis-Rocky Marciano fight. Joe Louis, like Muhammad Ali, was one of the greatest heavyweight champs. But the Joe Louis that entered the ring against Marciano was way past his prime and got knocked out. The Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight was also no different from the Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes fight.

In those fights, Louis and Ali represented the over-the-hill fighters who did not know when to hang up their gloves and got massacred. No boxing expert rates that Louis-Marciano fight as one of boxing’s finest moments, not even as Marciano’s best fight. In like manner, no boxing expert rates the Ali-Holmes fight as one of the most unforgettable ring encounters.
And yet, Joe Louis, at age 37, did put up a much better fight against Marciano than de la Hoya ever did against Pacquiao.

Our STAR sports columnist Quinito Henson gave very good insights as to what happened in that Pacman-Golden Boy fight during the Solar TV coverage. I noted Quinito describing the mismatch as “unbelievable…how come de la Hoya is not using his vaunted left jab…it is not like the de la Hoya we know in the ring right now…how come de la Hoya is allowing himself to be punched without fighting back” and so forth.

The other understandably pro-Pacquiao Filipino commentators heightened the hype of a momentous ring encounter. I do share their enthusiasm to see a Filipino achiever recognized internationally as this somewhat improves the image of what is otherwise known as the most corrupt people in Asia.

But, clearly, it was not the great Oscar de la Hoya that a great Manny Pacquiao fought. It was a poor facsimile of the great Oscar de la Hoya. That ring encounter was not and should not be rated as a great fight.

I dared to venture into this discussion not so much to dampen the national euphoria over Manny Pacquiao’s victory. I am aware that any effort to spoil the national celebration will be unpopular. But I felt obligated to increase public awareness of how we Filipinos are so easily led to accept illusion for reality, even lies for truth.

* * *

Chair Wrecker website:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No Speak English

A Russian woman married a Canadian gentleman and they
lived happily ever after in Toronto . The poor lady was not
very proficient in English, but did manage to communicate
with her husband. The real problem arose whenever she
had to shop for groceries.

One day, she went to the butcher and wanted to
buy chicken legs. She didn’t know how to put forward
her request, and in desperation, clucked like a chicken
and lifted up her skirt to show her thighs. Her
butcher got the message, and gave her the chicken

Next day she needed to get chicken breasts,
again she didn’t know how to say it, and so she
clucked like a chicken and unbuttoned her blouse
to show the butcher her breasts. The butcher understood
again, and gave her some chicken breasts.

On the 3rd day, the poor lady needed to
buy sausages. Unable to find a way to
communicate this, she brought her husband to the

(Please scroll down.)

What were you thinking?

Hellooooooo, her husband speaks English!

Now get back to work!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Barack Obama could have unwittingly caused the Mumbai attacks

By William M. Esposo

Extremists could be reacting to Barack Obama’s gestures towards Muslims. This was not the conjecture of a wild imagination but the gist of the statement made by one of the world’s most renowned thinkers — Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Who is Dr. Deepak Chopra?

TIME Magazine said that Dr. Deepak Chopra is one of the 100 heroes and icons of the century. Entertainment Weekly hailed him as “Hollywood’s man of the moment, one of publishing’s best-selling and most prolific self-help authors.” He wrote more than 49 books with over a dozen of his books having landed on the New York Times Best-seller list. He is recognized by Toastmaster International as one of the top five outstanding speakers in the world.
CNN’s Larry King saw it fit to interview New Delhi-born Dr. Deepak Chopra regarding the Mumbai terror attacks. Here are excerpts of that interview.

Deepak Chopra: The situation is complex, Larry, because it could inflame to proportions that we cannot even imagine. It has to be contained. We now recognize that this is a global problem, with only a global effort can solve this.

And you know, one of the things that I think is happening is that these militant terrorist groups are actually terrified that (President-elect Barack) Obama’s gestures to the rest of the Muslim world may actually overturn the tables on them by alienating them from the rest of the Muslim world, so they’re reacting to this.

You know, this is Obama’s opportunity to actually harness the help of the Muslims.
You know, there are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. That’s 25 percent of the population of the world. It’s the fastest-growing religion in the world. We cannot, if we do not appease and actually recruit the help of this Muslim world, we’re going to have a problem on our hands.

And we cannot go after the wrong people, as we did after 9/11, because then the whole collateral damage that occurs actually aggravates the situation.

In India, this is particularly inflammatory, because there’s a rise of Hindu fundamentalism. We saw what that did in Gujarat, where, you know, Muslims were scorched and they were killed, and there was almost a genocide of the Muslims.

India has 150 million Muslims. That’s more Muslims in India than in Pakistan. So this is an opportunity right now for India and Pakistan to recognize this is their common problem. It’s not a Muslim problem right now; it’s a global problem.

Larry King: Do you think that this is just the beginning, that there’s a potential impact, or more?

Chopra: There is a potential impact of a lot more carnage. But it can be contained. And right now, one of the questions, you know, after I heard Barbara Starr talking about how coordinated this is, that there are militant groups that cross international boundaries, is who is financing this? Where is the money coming from? We have to ask very serious, honest questions. What role do we have in this? Are our petrodollars funding both sides of this war on terrorism? Why are we not asking the Saudis where that money is going that we give them? Is it going through this supply chain to Pakistan?

It’s not enough for Pakistan to condemn it. Pakistan should cooperate with India in uprooting this. They should be part of the surgery that is going to happen.

It’s not enough for Indians to blame Pakistanis. Indians should actually ask the Pakistanis to help them.

And it’s not enough for us to worry about Westerners being killed and Americans being killed. Every life is precious over there. We have got to get rid of this idea that this is an American problem or a Western problem. It’s a global problem, and we need a global solution, and we need the help of all the Muslims, 25 percent of the world’s population, to help us uproot this problem.

King: What does India immediately do?

Chopra: India at this moment has to contain any reactive violence from the fundamentalist Hindus, which is very likely and possible. So India has to condemn that by not blaming local Muslims. They have to identify the exact groups.

And the world has to be very careful that they don’t go after the wrong people. Because if you go after the wrong people, you convert moderates into extremists. It happens every time, and retribution against innocent people just because they have the same religion actually aggravates and perpetuates the problem.

King: Are you pessimistic?

Chopra: I think Mr. Obama has a real opportunity here, but a challenging opportunity, a creative opportunity.

Get rid of the phrase “war on terrorism.” Ask for a creative solution in which we all participate.

King: Is it because the war on terrorism really can never be won?

Chopra: Because it’s an oxymoron. It’s an oxymoron, Larry, a war on war, a war on terrorism.
You know, terrorists call mechanized death from 35,000 feet above sea level with a press of a button also terror. We don’t call it that, because our soldiers are wearing uniforms. They don’t see what is happening, and innocent people are being killed. So, you know, terror is a term that you apply to the other. (End of interview excerpts)

Dr. Chopra provides invaluable insights to the problem of terrorism which we must all hope the new US leaders will learn from. Like most conflicts, victory is best won by winning hearts and minds.

* * *
Chair Wrecker website:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom: He walked with Christ

Written by Manuel Buencamino

I don’t understand why the opposition was offended by Rep. Pablo Garcia’s analogy. They should have been grateful the old man was generous enough to share insights from a trial he witnessed over 2,000 years ago.

Time has not eroded Garcia’s memory. He had no trouble recalling the trial of Jesus clearly and relating it to current events. Garcia said:

“More than 2,000 years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified because of an opinion survey. Pontius Pilate presented our Lord to the crowd and said, ‘Whom would you prefer, Barabas or Christ to crucify?’ Our Lord Jesus Christ lost in the survey. Is that how we are going to judge our president, because of an opinion survey?”

Garcia’s analogy was right on the money! (Pardon the intended pun.) The House justice committee did choose to crucify the truth and set a criminal free.

There’s Pablo Garcia and there’s Deputy Palace Spokesman Antonio Golez. The latter cannot speak on the Bible with as much authority as Garcia. He’s too young, by two millennia.

Still, he used a passage from the Bible to lecture bishops who said they were ready to support any means if there were no other legal ways available for seeking the truth.

He told them, “These statements are contrary to the teachings found in the Book of Romans, Chapter 13, which says that we should submit to the duly constituted authority.”

And he read out the biblical riot act: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

If Golez is right, then former Commission on Elections commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano must be God. However, I doubt ZTE-NBN star Benjamin Abalos or members of the joint congressional committee that refused to scrutinize even one certificate of canvass in the 2004 presidential election will concede that point. God, they will argue, manifests Himself in more ways than Garci.

Mrs. Gloria Arroyo likes to brag about her cozy relationship with God. She has, on more than one occasion, said He was her “best friend.” He answers even her most trivial prayers. And I’m not talking about those phone calls related to the counting of votes in the 2004 election; those did not involve trivial matters. I’m talking about another prayer, the one concerning Manny Pacquiao.

On September 11, 2005, Mrs. Arroyo told reporters “God heard my prayers that he win” after she learned boxing great Manny Pacquiao defeated Hector Velasquez. This weekend Manny and millions of Filipinos will be hoping she will call or text God.

Now, just because Arroyo is pals with God doesn’t mean her servants can take liberties with Him, as well. Gloria was flabbergasted when her Press secretary, Jesus Dureza, prayed, “Bless the President so we will have forbearance, good health, the tolerance to lead this nation up to 2010 and, perhaps, who knows, even beyond,” and later said, “I’d like to do a light prayer. I’m sure God, the Lord, has a lot of sense of humor. My whole prayer was in that context.” She felt it was presumptuous of the man, a mere Palace servant, to jest with her best friend.

At any rate, God and the Filipino people can laugh about the mirthful prayer of Christ’s tocayo, Jesus Dureza, and Pablo Garcia’s “where’s the beef?” remark, because who, other than Garcia, would think beef when he smells a rat?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

US decline in the new world compels Filipinos to rethink and retool

By William M. Esposo

The US National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) Global Trends 2025 Report which was the subject matter of your Chair Wrecker’s column last Sunday (US Intel Report sees the end of US domination in a new world) may have been an exposition of likely 2025 scenarios but many of its findings are happening already.
Much of what the NIC reported as developing scenarios are done deals already. The arc of instability caused by aging populations in Western Europe and Japan, the damaging effects of climate change, the fall of the US empire, the ever increasing threat of conflicts that can trigger nuclear wars are all part and parcel now of our world.
You need not wait for Iran and North Korea to develop their nuclear arsenal. The Mumbai attacks where India’s Foreign Minister expressed suspicion that Pakistani elements were involved can lead to a confrontation between two nuclear-powered armed forces. The US is a traditional backer of Pakistan. China is now allied with India and both are emerging world titans threatening US domination. An India-Pakistan nuclear confrontation can drag the US and China into the fray.
In such a nuclear confrontation involving the US and China, only a Filipino idiot (again using the eminent Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap’s definition of idiot as one who does not know the truth) will fail to recognize that we could easily be targets of the nuclear missiles. If the US starts using their presence in Mindanao to choke off the South China Sea, expect China to react decisively.
Hopefully, the new American leaders and the Chinese leaders are not like the irresponsible monarchs who were stupid enough to allow their nations to be dragged into World War I. We should also be thankful that George W. Bush will no longer be at the helm at the White House — unless this India-Pakistan situation deteriorates rapidly.
These findings of the NIC 2025 Global Landscape compel us Filipinos to rethink and retool if we are to cope with the challenges of the transformations that are now happening.
1. “Continued economic growth — coupled with 1.2 billion more people by 2025 — will put pressure on energy, food, and water resources.” — Again, we don’t need the added 1.2 billion people to realize that we are already living with this crisis. Much of the solution rests on Filipinos becoming more responsible and preserving the country’s environment and natural resources.
2. “The potential for conflict will increase owing to rapid changes in parts of the greater Middle East and the spread of lethal capabilities.” — We don’t need to wait for this Middle East conflict to arrive here. We are in fact already a society in conflict. We have a long-running Communist insurgency and a Muslim war of secession in Mindanao.
3. “Terrorism is unlikely to disappear by 2025, but its appeal could lessen if economic growth continues in the Middle East and youth unemployment is reduced. For those terrorists that are active the diffusion of technologies will put dangerous capabilities within their reach.” — What is to stop the MILF or the Abu Sayyaf from copying the terror attacks in Mumbai? Imagine 10 simultaneous attacks being conducted in the Ayala Commercial District and what that will do to our fragile economy.
4. “Climate change is likely to exacerbate resource scarcities, particularly water scarcities.” — We may not be the biggest promoters of climate change but we have to help avert the catastrophe. Climate change will affect us even if we caused it or not.
5. “Whether Europe and Japan overcome economic and social challenges caused or compounded by demography.” — It is time that we stopped this nonsense about population control and recognize that population is a national asset. Lack of social justice and avarice, not overpopulation, are the problems we have to solve.
6. “A global multi-polar system is emerging with the rise of China, India, and others.” — We will have to realign our alliances with the emerging world power structure.
What should scare every Filipino is the fact that we are not even discussing these problems. These are world developments that threaten us in a major way and we are taking this Alfred Neumann stance of “What me, worry?”
In 1941, Filipinos did not even think that there will be a Pacific theatre of World War II. Filipinos partied and enjoyed those days of plenty and were oblivious of the war clouds hovering over the Pacific countries. In the 1945 Battle of Manila alone, over 100,000 civilians perished, many of them the victims of some of the worst war atrocities recorded in the annals of history.
Where are our leaders? The biggest task of a national leader is to enlighten the people. But our leaders prefer to keep us in the dark. They even lie to us. Why are they so engrossed with Charter change that will not even change anything rotten — but will even perpetuate the EVIL in the land?
Why are the leaders of the Opposition already behaving like crabs trying to demolish each other? They have not even done anything to indicate that they can restore the rule of law, decency, accountability and transparency in government. They are acting as if they have won already and are now fighting for the spoils.
* * *
Chair Wrecker website:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

“…Not only to listen but to march”

Message from jail
“…Not only to listen but to march” - Danny Lim
Posted: 27 Nov 2008
by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim

We are a nation divided. Peace, unity and development continue to elude us because we have a president bereft of moral or legal authority to lead. She had, in fact, become the greatest continuing threat to the security, cooperative spirit, well being and sense of Nationhood of the Filipino people.
A true leader is a symbol of unity and a rallying figure especially in difficult times. A bogus leader is divisive and stays in power to the detriment of the common good and the National interest.

GMA continues to inflict herself on our hapless people. In the process, scarce government resources are squandered to buy for her dubious loyalties, institutions are prostituted to project a sham imprimatur to an immoral governance, public service has evolved into a buffet of graft and corruption, and morals, values, accountability and responsibility have been reduced to mere flamboyant phrases. She destroyed the very concept of truth as the foundation of every act of government.
We find the country today in deep turmoil. Oppression, corruption and injustice rule the benighted land. Internecine struggles threaten to dismantle the republic. Widespread poverty robs people of their dignity and drives many to prostitution and virtual slavery in foreign climes. Hunger incidence is at an all time high and the country’s human development index is at an all time low. No wonder, an atmosphere of destitution pervades among our normally resilient and patient people. All of these were brought about by 8 years of unelected, hopelessly corrupt leadership and a slew of failed liberal economic and peace policies.
Long starved of good governance, the Filipino people should act now to reclaim their dignity, remove the pretender from power and steer this nation on the path to greatness. I echo, loud and clear, the call for radical reforms and restructuring. The call of the times is for us NOT ONLY TO LISTEN BUT TO MARCH.
November 30, a few days from now is National Heroes Day. Let us recapture the visions and ideals of our heroes and martyrs and give justice to their golden dream of National independence.
This country needs a leader of heroic and nationalist stature who would champion genuine independence in every aspect of our national life. He or she must be committed to challenging colonial economic masters and their local surrogates, abandoning obscene foreign debt payment policies, pushing industrialization, agriculture productivity and sustainable agrarian reforms, ensuring food and energy independence, and formulating a sound economic strategy anchored on the declaration that this country’s patrimony and all of our abundant resources are solely for the Filipinos to develop and benefit from. The current President is the antithesis of that leader. For her personal aggrandizement, she was willing to sacrifice the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by dismembering the Republic in the case of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and the baseline issue, west of our archipelago.
The latest Malacanang sponsored machinations are designed to extend GMA’s discredited regime. Secretary Dureza’s prayer and the feigned reaction revealed it all. With no semblance of delicadeza, no less than her son is doing the rounds, spearheading a signature campaign that would eventually actualize their foul design. With a subservient congress which frustrates the impeachment process at every turn and some Supreme Court justices willing to do their biddings, then their coast is clear, our political fate is sealed. I dread the thought that our best bet is for GMA to die of old age.
Now is the time to grip hands and act! Enough is enough!

Monday, December 15, 2008

US Intel Report sees the end of US domination in a new world

By William M. Esposo

In past columns, every time this Chair Wrecker mentioned that the end of US world domination has come — responses from unsettled minds that still cling to illusions of ‘USA Forever’ questioned and argued the point. Someone even suggested that Chair Wrecker information sources may be coming from Robert Ludlum novels.
Well here is something to further unsettle those ‘USA Forever’ types — the US National Intelligence Council’s report (titled “Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World”) which sees the end of US domination in a transformed world. The report is sourced from all the intelligence agencies and units of the US as well as consulted international organizations and experts.
Here is the gist of what the report says, quoted verbatim.
The 2025 Global Landscape Prepared by the US National Intelligence Council
Relative certainties and likely impact
1. A global multi-polar system is emerging with the rise of China, India, and others. The relative power of non-state actors — businesses, tribes, religious organizations, and even criminal networks — also will increase.
Likely impact: By 2025 a single “international community” composed of nation-states will no longer exist. Power will be more dispersed with the newer players bringing new rules of the game while risks will increase that the traditional Western alliances will weaken. Rather than emulating Western models of political and economic development, more countries may be attracted to China’s alternative development model.
2. The unprecedented shift in relative wealth and economic power roughly from West to East now under way will continue.
Likely impact: As some countries become more invested in their economic well-being, incentives toward geopolitical stability could increase. However, the transfer is strengthening states like Russia that want to challenge the Western order.
3. The United States will remain the single most powerful country but will be less dominant.
Likely impact: Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the US into a difficult set of tradeoffs between domestic versus foreign policy priorities.
4. Continued economic growth — coupled with 1.2 billion more people by 2025 — will put pressure on energy, food, and water resources.
Likely impact: The pace of technological innovation will be key to outcomes during this period. All current technologies are inadequate for replacing traditional energy architecture on the scale needed.
5. The number of countries with youthful populations in the “arc of instability”1[1] will decrease, but the populations of several youth-bulge states are projected to remain on rapid growth trajectories.
Likely impact: Unless employment conditions change dramatically in parlous youth-bulge states such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen, these countries will remain ripe for continued instability and state failure.
6. The potential for conflict will increase owing to rapid changes in parts of the greater Middle East and the spread of lethal capabilities.
Likely impact: The need for the US to act as regional balancer in the Middle East will increase, although other outside powers — Russia, China and India — will play greater roles than today.
7. Terrorism is unlikely to disappear by 2025, but its appeal could lessen if economic growth continues in the Middle East and youth unemployment is reduced. For those terrorists that are active the diffusion of technologies will put dangerous capabilities within their reach.
Likely impact: Opportunities for mass-casualty terrorist attacks using chemical, biological, or less likely, nuclear weapons will increase as technology diffuses and nuclear power (and possibly weapons) programs expand. The practical and psychological consequences of such attacks will intensify in an increasingly globalized world.
Key uncertainties and potential consequences
1. Whether an energy transition away from oil and gas — supported by improved energy storage, biofuels, and clean coal — is completed during the 2025 time frame.
Potential consequences: With high oil and gas prices, major exporters such as Russia and Iran will substantially augment their levels of national power, with Russia’s GDP potentially approaching that of the UK and France.
A sustained plunge in prices, perhaps underpinned by a fundamental switch to new energy sources, could trigger a long-term decline for producers as global and regional players.
2. How quickly climate change occurs and the locations where its impact is most pronounced.
Potential consequences: Climate change is likely to exacerbate resource scarcities, particularly water scarcities.
3. Whether mercantilism stages a comeback and global markets recede.
Potential consequences: Descending into a world of resource nationalism increases the risk of great power confrontations.
4.Whether advances toward democracy occur in China and Russia.
Potential consequences: Political pluralism seems less likely in Russia in the absence of economic diversification. A growing middle class increases the chances of political liberalization and potentially greater nationalism in China.
5. Whether regional fears about a nuclear-armed Iran trigger an arms race and greater militarization.
Potential consequences: Episodes of low-intensity conflict and terrorism taking place under a nuclear umbrella could lead to an unintended escalation and broader conflict.
6. Whether the greater Middle East becomes more stable, especially whether Iraq stabilizes, and whether the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved peacefully.
Potential consequences: Turbulence is likely to increase under most scenarios. Revival of economic growth, a more prosperous Iraq, and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute could engender some stability as the region deals with a strengthening Iran and global transition away from oil and gas.
7. Whether Europe and Japan overcome economic and social challenges caused or compounded by demography.
Potential consequences: Successful integration of Muslim minorities in Europe could expand the size of the productive work forces and avert social crisis. Lack of efforts by Europe and Japan to mitigate demographic challenges could lead to long-term declines.
8. Whether global powers work with multilateral institutions to adapt their structure and performance to the transformed geopolitical landscape.
Potential consequences: Emerging powers show ambivalence toward global institutions like the UN and IMF, but this could change as they become bigger players on the global stage. Asian integration could lead to more powerful regional institutions. NATO faces stiff challenges in meeting growing out-of-area responsibilities with declining European military capabilities. Traditional alliances will weaken. (End of summary)
The US has started slipping since the China-backed North Koreans forced General Douglas MacArthur and the allied forces south of the 38th Parallel during the 1950s Korean Peninsula War. Since then, a Russia-supported North Vietnam defeated US armed forces and kicked them out of South Vietnam. In the same period, a China-supported regime repelled the US in Cambodia. That is hardly the track record of a dominant superpower.
What should interest those pushing for the Reproductive Health Bill is the report’s mention of countries that are projected to undergo economic problems because of an aging population — most notable of these are Western European countries and Japan.
It is also lost on those who are promoting the Reproductive Health Bill that the two emerging titans — China and India — enjoy large populations. Their economic successes were not hampered by their large population which makes our 84 million look teeny weenie. What they did was to empower their people and create a larger consumer base — the asset that attracted foreign investors to flock to their shores.
Yet despite the eerie scenario that this transformed world is projecting, how come all we see our leaders engage in are Senate coups, population control, narrow-minded and self-seeking Charter Change and other counter-productive misadventures that will not help prepare our country to cope with the forthcoming changes.
The eminent Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap, founder of the People’s Patriotic Movement, has been discussing many of these findings of the US National Intelligence Council for over a decade already but our leaders never found it important enough to act on.
It is high time Filipinos started realizing and understanding the true state of affairs in the world for only then can we set things right in our country and meet the emerging challenges of a transformed world.
* * *
Chair Wrecker website: