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Monday, March 31, 2008

Are AFP officers being taught 12 units of cowardice at the PMA?

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
Thursday, March 27, 2008

Leave it to my former Cory Media Bureau comrade and now Makati Representative Teddyboy Locsin to fire a broadside that deserves to be heard round the world.

Before the Holy Week recess, Teddyboy delivered a privilege speech in Congress where he slammed military officers for their lack of cojones in going eyeball to eyeball with states contesting the Spratlys with the Philippines, most notably mighty China.

Of course, we can only agree with Teddyboy. Weren't we taught that the best way to lose a fight is to resign one's self to lose it even before it is fought?

Teddyboy's privilege speech follows.

12 units of cowardice at the
Philippine Military Academy
By Rep. Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise on a matter of collective privilege. This morning, this representation read in the newspapers that Navy Vice-Commander Rear Admiral Amable (meaning amiable) Tolentino admitted that the Philippine military is inferior to the militaries of other countries. Yes, even before any fight, he said declared the Filipino military will always lose.

But in what respect is the Filipino so inferior as to guarantee his inevitable defeat in any conflict. How indeed is the Filipino inferior to other countries?

The vice commander's succeeding remarks show in what respect.

He said, and I quote, "From a student of regional security (who enrolled this asshole? And paid his tuition?), diplomacy is still best. We avoid war as much as possible. Exploitation of resources by each country, once it overlaps your jurisdiction, there is a possibility of war. So if you have diplomacy, you have dialogues. That is better than going to war."

But that, he said, is only his personal opinion. What a relief!

But, excuse me, who asked for his opinion? More to the point is he even entitled to have one while he is serving in the armed forces?

The tradition is that a civilian opinion by a military individual comes only after their retirement or resignation, as in the case of many distinguished US commanders regarding the Iraqi War. And more importantly, can he, as serving officer give as his considered opinion that our armed forces couldn't put up much of a fight if it came to one?

Worse, why is he saying this and expressing a partiality for diplomacy rather than combat. He has expressed the view that the armed forces will not fight since, according to yet another officer, a certain Lt. Col. Calicutan, the armed forces will always prefer to talk rather than fight over the Spratlys. Calicutan also said that the entire military is supporting the joint exploration of the Spratlys as the win-win situation.

Mr. Speaker, this is not treason, but it will be when it comes to war and such statements give clear comfort to the enemy and abet, not to say encourage, his aggression.

Mr. Speaker, this is not yet treason indeed, but it is very much a present cowardice.

The military exists not just to fight but to declare it is prepared to fight, and not just to fight when it is sure to win, but to fight whatever the odds against victory and the certainty of defeat when the territorial integrity of the Republic is at stake.

What is our military taught these days? Is there a 12-unit course at the PMA on talking instead of fighting? On cowardice rather than courage? That it is better to sell out our country than fight for it? What does the Philippine military think our country is, a broadband deal?

The value of a military is as much in its willingness to fight as in actual fighting. Now tell us, Mr. Speaker, what is the deterrent value of a military that admits it will lose before it fights, that it would rather talk than fight, that in any case it WILL NOT FIGHT.

The value of such a military is as zero as its courage and fighting capability. No wonder his name is Amable. But what we need is not amiability but ferocity in our officers, the kind of ferocity our military regularly show our disagreeable brothers and sisters in the streets and in the hills.

I hate to say this, especially about someone my father opposed so much, but when President Marcos was presented with a similar situation regarding another piece of Philippine territory, my father took me to Malacañang, so I could see and hear and remember, Marcos and his generals discuss plans for a full-scale military option together with our old and dependable ally Indonesia for a final solution to the Sabah problem. Those were generals, that was a commander-in-chief. Not these cowards today." (End of speech)

Last March 25, AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon stated that he too prefers a diplomatic approach to settling the Spratlys issue. Knowing his total servitude to his Commander-in-Chief, Esperon was obviously mouthing the Palace line.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Jesuits' Guidelines for Communal Discernment and Action to Address the National Crisis

Guidelines for Communal Discernment and Action to Address the National Crisis

The Context

1. The ZTE-NBN controversy has once again raised questions about abuse of power and systemic corruption in the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). This is just the most recent in a series of events that indicates a worrisome pattern of behavior in government, particularly of anomaly and cover-up, leading to the weakening of Philippine democratic institutions. Among these are the "Hello Garci" scandal, the fertilizer scam, the promulgation of calibrated preemptive response (CPR), EO 464 and PP 1017, the unresolved extra-judicial killings and disappearances of activists and media practitioners, the undermining of impeachment proceedings, the pursuit of self-serving charter change, and the lack of a decisive response by the government to the farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon due to political compromises in the implementation of agrarian reform. Good governance and longterm reform are being sacrificed for short-term political survival.

2. Many Filipinos are outraged by this situation because of what appears to be a deliberate suppression of truth, and the refusal of the government to be made accountable. Many also feel confused and powerless, leading to a sense of hopelessness and deepening distrust of political leaders and institutions. There is a real danger that citizens will become disempowered and disengage themselves from politics. At the same time, there are also those whose frustrations have led them to join armed insurgent groups or are seriously considering insurrectionary and other unconstitutional options because of the inability of government to effectively address the issues of the poor and respond to the call for truth and accountability. Then there are some members of the economic and political elite, who out of pragmatic considerations, have adopted a "wait-and-see" position and have therefore not helped in providing clear leadership in terms of clarifying the issues and options. These include the politicians who are potential presidential candidates in the 2010 elections.

3. While there is anger and despair because of what is happening to the country, there are also possibilities that have opened up with the recent events, for bringing about serious and much-needed changes in the political and governance institutions and culture of the country. How we respond as a people to this crisis will determine whether we can make the most of this opportunity for a renewal of Philippine democracy.

Diversity of Responses

4. Part of the reality of the present crisis is the diversity of views and even division among people, across and within sectors, in their analyses of and reactions to the situation. Therefore, it is important to note the range of political positions and options among those who have responded. This range represents a continuum, that allows a capture of the essential differences across groups, while at the same time recognizing that there are real overlaps among the positions and those who represent them.

a. "The economy is good. Let's move on."
The Arroyo government and its allies insist on projecting a picture of a growing economy, on the one hand, which is undermined by unnecessary and debilitating "political noise," on the other hand, created by "partisan" groups whose only agenda is to unseat the President. This type of politics is seen as bad, not just for economic growth, but also for addressing the poverty problem because it is the poor who are most affected by political instability. Therefore in this view, the country must move on, since it argues that the administration has a mandate to rule until 2010. Likewise, there are those who may not explicitly support GMA, but believe that given the alternatives, the President represents the lesser evil. Effectively, they do not support any moves to hold the government accountable.

b. "All politicians are corrupt. Let's focus on jobs, services and the poor."
Some business associations, socio-civic organizations and faith-based groups are highly cynical of national politics or have given up on it altogether, and thus do not see it as the avenue for meaningful change. They concentrate on what they see as the more important tasks of job-creation and service delivery (e.g., housing, health, education). They believe that what they are doing has more long-term impact because they address the more basic issues of poverty and hopelessness, which breed corruption and a culture of dependence.

c. "Let the 2010 elections resolve the crisis."
Strict rule-of-law advocates hold that President Arroyo legitimately won the 2004 elections, even if there are serious and impeachable questions of cheating. They believe in accountability through constitutional mechanisms like an independent fact finding commission, impeachment and ultimately elections. In this perspective, there is no doubt that the search for truth must be pursued, even as they believe that the crisis can only be eventually and truly resolved through the electoral exercise scheduled for 2010.

d. "Bring out the truth, hold GMA accountable, and work for reform."
There are faith-based and civil society organizations that call for "truth, accountability and reform," emphasizing concrete measures like resolving the issue of executive privilege, calling for an independent counsel (with investigative and prosecutorial powers), pushing for possible impeachment, and advocating long-term reforms pertaining to freedom of information and transparency, electoral and civil service reform, and social justice (especially agrarian reform). These initiatives are meant to provide constructive ways for people to participate in meaningful democratic governance and institution building.

e. "No real reform is possible under GMA."
There are prominent concerned individuals and groups who also adopt a truth- -accountability-and- reform framework, but are more emphatic that a precondition for genuine long-term reform is holding President Arroyo directly accountable for the undermining of institutions. Thus, they would tend to be more explicit in taking a principled position that the government should step down, and that a succession should hew as much as possible to the Constitution.

f. "Oust GMA."
Various groups from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum, many of them not sharing a long-term agenda, are tactically coming together on the objective of ousting the Arroyo government, even through extra-constitutional means. This may take the form of an EDSA-like people power, military withdrawal of support, a Cabinet coup, or some combination thereof. They are not in agreement on who or what should assume power in the aftermath of an Arroyo ouster. Some may accept Vice President Noli de Castro taking over, while others prefer special elections (on the premise that the Vice President will also step down or be made to do so) or "snap elections" or an interim civilian-military junta that will put key reforms in place and oversee a return to constitutional government. It is important to note that groups on the Left recognize the need for bringing in more long-term structural reform, beyond merely replacing the President.

Non-negotiable Principles

5. Given these and other options that may be taken, it is important to identify some non- negotiables, for more thoughtful and responsible communal discernment and action:

a. Uphold the truth. Truth, especially regarding cases of graft and corruption, cannot be sacrificed in the name of stability. Stability that is the product of unresolved issues tends to be shallow and short-lived, as the credibility and capacity of institutions designated to pursue the truth are weakened, and other cases of corruption surface again and again. Moreover, this situation contributes to the reinforcement of a culture of impunity.

b. Exact accountability. Government must be held accountable by the people, for all its actions and decisions, in all policy areas, and at every point of its stay in power. This means that the exacting of accountability should not take place only at the time of elections because democracy cannot be confined to the single act of casting a vote, but is a continuing process of citizen participation. Nevertheless, elections are also a core mechanism of accountability, especially since the present political crisis is linked to unresolved questions of electoral cheating. Part of the response necessary at this time involves the rebuilding of public trust and confidence in
institutional mechanisms of accountability.

c. Pursue meaningful reforms. Even in situations of crisis, efforts at electoral, bureaucratic, and social reform should not cease because many of the country's problems are really of a structural and institutional nature, needing continuing transformation. There is a need to recognize the problems and propose concrete solutions.

d. Build and strengthen democratic institutions. The country needs to establish and fortify democratic institutions, which provide consistent, organized and self-regulating procedures, applied to all citizens equally. Among these institutions are due process, civilian supremacy, rule of law, checks and balances. While Philippine democracy is still flawed, the genuine gains that came with the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of democratic institutions should not be lost. The alternatives (e.g. a military junta, a civilian-military authoritarian regime, a communist government) are even more unstable, unpredictable, unsustainable, and potentially harmful. A second democratic breakdown, moreover, will be much more difficult to undo. Strong democratic institutions can likewise help address the present conditions of real divisions among Filipinos. By providing agreed-upon rules and mechanisms which are accepted as credible and fair, institutions facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts among
dissenting positions and approaches.

e. Promote responsible and engaged citizenship. Moral outrage in the present moment is called for, and is critical for a committed response; but it must also lead to a serious and responsible consideration of consequences for the medium and long term. Hopefully, such a responsible and engaged citizenship will lead to the transformation of the present culture of one-sided dependency on leaders. The country's problems have been reinforced by generations of patronage that have led Filipinos to depend disproportionately on those who have more resources and more power, in politics and society at large, in the Church, and even in the ordinary barrio or barangay.

f. Champion active nonviolence and protect human rights. Action is to be guided by principles of active nonviolence. "Violence is evil… violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems…. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings" (
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 496). Human and civil rights must always be respected and promoted (Centesimus Annus, 22). Any coercive means is unacceptable, including forms of harassment, detention without due process, and policies that seriously undermine the freedom of the press and the right to self-expression and organization.

g. Prioritize the poor. The real and urgent concerns of the poor should be given highest priority amidst all efforts to search for the truth and promote accountability. If many Filipinos seem to be uninvolved or uninterested, it is primarily because of an overriding concern for economic survival during very hard times. Indeed, the search for the truth is integrally linked to the fate of the poor. Corruption and dishonesty have made the lot of the poor worse. Programs and initiatives from both government and the private sector to address poverty and inequality, and to respond to the urgent needs of the poor, in fields such as education, health, housing, livelihood and the environment should continue to be supported, and indeed intensified.

h. Engage and involve the youth. It is important that all activities should seek to involve the youth, and harness their energies, especially for truly sustainable reforms and institution- building. Significantly, recent events have awakened many young Filipinos and stirred them to become more politically involved. Today, there is an opportunity to do political education and mobilization of the youth on a scale not seen for many years.

Analysis of Options

6. Given these guiding non-negotiable principles, the different positions and options presented above can now be reviewed, in order to help build common ground and move towards a consensus on how best to respond to the ZTE-NBN scandal and the broader political crisis:

"There is no problem with GMA."

a. Business as usual, status quo. Not holding government accountable in any way is unacceptable. "Political authority is accountable to the people.

Those who govern have the obligation to answer to the governed"

(Compendium, 408, 409). The nature of the allegations of corruption in this particular case is so serious, that any government with some sense of responsibility to its citizens cannot but respond, to work towards establishing the truth beyond any major question or doubt, and so confirm its legitimacy.

"Political corruption… betrays both moral principles and the norms of social

justice." (Compendium, 411) Moreover, there is much truth to the view that
fighting corruption is not against the economy. Indeed, corruption is anti-development and anti-poor.

"GMA is not the main problem."

b. Give up on politics. Among those who hold this position include a range that spans from the exhausted, to the cynical, to the apathetic. All of them move towards a position that views all politicians as being equally self-interested. Effectively, none of them focuses on GMA as the problem. Such a view that disengages from all politics and does not identify concrete points of action and reform only contributes to the sense of hopelessness and paralysis. At all times, participation in the social and political realms, either as individuals or as members of organizations, is a duty to be fulfilled with responsibility and with a view to the common good (
Compendium, 189).

c. Focus on the delivery of services to the grassroots. The preferential option for the poor necessitates a long-term perspective on development beyond mere regime change. It also makes the delivery of services to the grassroots essential, regardless of who is in power. Thus, those who have opted to concentrate on this course of action are to be commended. However, while citizen- involvement in particular areas of social development and local politics is a form of participation, they will always be constrained by large-scale anomalies and abuse of power on the national political level. All citizens must work towards the eradication of the evils of patronage politics and national political corruption, in order to promote the common good.

"How does one address the GMA problem?"

d. Call on GMA to resign. There are individuals and groups who have been calling for President Arroyo's resignation since 2005 and continue to hold that position as a matter of principle. At that time, the CBCP itself recognized the call for the President's resignation, as well as for a "Truth Commission" and impeachment, as legitimate options under the guiding principles of accountability, constitutionality, non-violence and effective governance. While the bishops did not call on President Arroyo to step down, they asked her to discern "to what extent she might have contributed to the erosion of effective governance and whether the erosion is so severe as to be irreversible." Therefore, those who in conscience have made a decision that the President should not remain in office deserve respect. Their call for her to resign voluntarily is one of the options provided for in the Constitution. However, it also needs to be pointed out that while this position is one of principled moral conviction, it ceases to be a real political option if GMA remains resolute that she will not resign voluntarily.

e. Cabinet declaration of incapacity of the President. The Constitution provides that a majority of Cabinet members can declare in writing to the Senate President and the House Speaker that "the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his [her] office" (Article VII, Section 11). This is a constitutional way of removing a President who is seen to be physically or mentally incapacitated, but the meaning of this provision may be interpreted more broadly. This is one scenario for an "internal or Palace coup" within the GMA regime. But such decisions on regime change tend to be elitist, as they are dependent on so few people. This declaration can be challenged, however, by the President, in which case Congress may confirm the Cabinet decision by a two-thirds vote of the two houses of Congress voting separately. Note that this requirement is even more stringent than the one-third percentage required for the House of Representatives to send an impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial.

f. Oust GMA. When faced with the President's refusal to resign voluntarily, those who are willing to push the demand for her to step down to the point of employing even extra-constitutional means must be reminded that democratic institutions may be harmed in the long-term, especially if a political vacuum is created for groups with an anti-democratic, adventurist or power-grabbing agenda to try to seize power and hold on to it indefinitely.

g. People Power. People power is a precious legacy from the struggle against the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines. EDSA I was the culmination of a long process of political education, organization and mobilization throughout the martial law years and especially during the nearly three years after the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino. Active
non violence was a defining characteristic of EDSA People Power. It is enshrined in the Constitution, which values initiatives from below as a way of harnessing the direct participation of the people in politics and governance. In its current usage, however, it is problematic because it is often equated with popular insurrection and takeover as a method of regime change. This creates a dynamic where crisis situations continue to be resolved through extra-constitutional means which are not predictable, weaken democratic institutions and install leaders with questionable mandates. Thus an endless series of EDSA's spells serious instability.

h. Snap elections. Any call for "snap elections" would be extra-constitutional, since there is no such provision in the present charter. What the Constitution provides for is the holding of "special elections," should vacancies arise in the offices of both the President and the Vice President. Therefore, those who are advocating this option presume that both the President and Vice President will step down or will be made to do so. Moreover, special elections before 2010 without meaningful preparation and electoral reforms will only lead to a contest between those already entrenched in power and thus will not produce genuine change.

i. Military intervention. Some have called for an interventionist role of the military to effect regime change. While recognizing that there are reform minded members of the military who have a genuine concern for the good of the country, military intervention in whatever form must be eschewed, especially in the present context of a weak Philippine democracy. Allowing the military to become the arbiter to resolve political conflicts and stalemates undermines civilian supremacy, long-term democratization and political stability.

j. An Independent Counsel. Some have called for an independent institution with the credibility and capacity for investigating and prosecuting government corruption at the highest levels. This proposal has been made because some see the Senate investigations as partisan, while the Ombudsman is overloaded with corruption cases and is perceived as partial to the government in power, given its recent track record. For this option to prosper, however, three difficult issues need to be addressed: (i) creating such a body through a law approved by Congress, (ii) defining the scope of its power and responsibilities, especially in relation to the Ombudsman, and (iii) giving it real autonomy, particularly from the President, who would be the appointing official.

k. Impeachment. This mechanism is provided for by the Constitution to exact accountability from the President. It is also a way by which allegations can be verified, thus giving the President a fair hearing and an opportunity to defend herself. However, impeachment will only work if people are willing to participate actively in pushing for and making sure that this process is effective (e.g. sustained lobbying, pressuring their representatives in Congress to prioritize the search for truth and accountability). Thus, it can provide excellent opportunities for active political participation, especially for citizens outside Metro Manila.

"How does one go beyond GMA?"

l. Elections. The forthcoming elections in 2010 will be critical. Not only will a new president be chosen, but this national exercise will also be crucial in the restoration of trust in the democratic system and the emergence of a new alternative leadership. It is imperative that they are conducted freely, honestly and credibly. Furthermore, there is a need for responsible citizens to organize around candidates, leaders and parties who are upright and capable, and who can contribute positively to the strengthening of weak institutions.

Action Points

7. It is precisely during times of great upheavals and crises that the call to hope becomes more urgent. Desperation and cynicism cannot be allowed to eat up people's inner resources. To move forward from this crisis means identifying and pursuing specific forms of action, such as: (a) joining circles of ongoing reflection and discernment, and efforts at political education and organization, including training in anti-corruption advocacy (Ehem) and active nonviolence; (b) supporting institutional efforts to get to the truth and creating a broader climate of truth-telling which encourages and protects whistleblowers; (c) joining activities that promote acountability; (d) articulating long-term ideals and policies for national political reform; and (e) establishing sectoral and multi-sectoral organizations and networks to promote dialogue and concerted action. Concretely, eight action areas fall within the range of options which are consistent with the principles identified above, especially the need to build strong democratic
institutions and promote engaged citizenship for socio-political reform:

a. Support for the ongoing Senate investigation of the ZTE-NBN case not only to bring out the whole truth on matters of public interest but also to strengthen the institutional system of checks and balances that seek to prevent the abuse of power.

b. Creation of a credible Independent Counsel, in order to ferret out the veracity of various allegations and promote accountability within the judicial system, in which unfortunately many of the official institutions are seen as severely compromised politically. Thus there is a need for an institutional venue and mechanism that will be viewed as autonomous of the government currently in power and free of the antics of traditional politicians.

c. Initiation of a genuine impeachment process, particularly by pressuring Representatives in the House to hold the President accountable for serious violations of public trust if there are sufficient bases for doing so.

d. Pursuit of reforms towards government transparency in all its transactions, especially in processes like procurement, decisions on loans, development projects, social reforms, and on issues such as mining, energy and land use that have a profound impact on poor communities and the environment. There is a need to ensure rigorous implementation of laws and policies, the institutionalization of a culture of social accountability, free access to information, and the enhanced participation of civil society in governance decisions at all levels.

e. Promotion of electoral reforms to ensure the conduct of clean, honest, and credible elections in 2010, including the revamp of the Comelec, beginning with the appointment and confirmation of commissioners of unquestioned integrity and competence; the modernization of the electoral system; the eradication of warlordism; the monitoring of campaign finance and expenditure; and the
continuing political education of voters.

f. Search for worthy candidates and potential leaders, parties/coalitions and platforms for 2010, through positive preparations, planning and strategizing. This would mean clarifying political values and development priorities, candidate selection and recruitment, resource mobilization, and political organizing.

g. Organization of and support for basic sectors, to enable them to have a real say in democratic processes and to address the urgent needs of economic development and social justice.

h. Engagement of the youth in current issues, through political education, organization and mobilization for democratic institution-building, lobbying for transparency and accountability, policy reform, and involvement in electoral politics.

8. These specific and concrete calls for action are not isolated and discrete but are precisely interconnected in a framework that seeks to promote truth, accountability and reform. They address gross injustices in the country through active citizen participation that will support and be supported by efforts at political education, organization, mobilization and network-building in order to strengthen and transform democratic political institutions under the Constitution.

Responding to the Call for Communal Discernment, Conversion and Action

9. We offer these guidelines as a response to the call of our bishops for "circles of discernment" to "pray together, reason together, decide together, act together." We trust that these reflections help clarify the context, principles and options for people – especially the youth – who seek to respond in action to the current crisis rather than succumb to the temptations of despair. For as Pope Benedict XVI has said, "All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action" (Spe Salvi 35).

Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus
Commission on the Social Apostolate

Easter Sunday, 23 March 2008

Albert E. Alejo, S.J.

Xavier C. Alpasa, S.J.

Anna Marie A. Karaos

Antonio M. La Viña

Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, S.J.

Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.

Ermin B. Pimentel

Karel S. San Juan, S.J.

Benjamin T. Tolosa, Jr.

Primitivo E. Viray, Jr., S.J.

Peter W. Walpole, S.J.

Roberto C. Yap, S.J.

Who will protect the people?

By Lito Banayo

Malaya/March 27, 2008

ONCE upon a not-so-distant time, a cabal of excessively greedy people hit the jackpot. Their patroness found herself on top of a government whose power they had long coveted. As soon as they were ensconced in the seat of power, a stinking palace beside a stinking river, they began transforming a government of, by and for the people into a syndicate of, by and for themselves.

A criminal syndicate of legendary reach and excessive greed was thus born. Soon democracy turned into a whorehouse. Read this and weep:

Days after they entered the palace, a juicy proposition engineered by someone the former leader foolishly called his "corporate genius", lay for instant taking. It was a contract to rehabilitate a power plant negotiated by a previous president in one of his peregrinations into the pampas. The contract just lay there, unmoving, because the men of the president they deposed refused grant of sovereign guarantee to bind the Republic and its people to pay a B-O-T scheme of the Argentinian company. In short shrift, aided by the quick brains of her justice secretary, sovereign guarantee was extended for a hefty consideration in dollars. Two for you and four for me, and one "for the boys" to divide into morsels. But corporate genius hid for himself seven million. All these in Week One.

Later, the snitch was discovered. Already a congressman by the power of his millions, he was soon delivered into the waiting habitat of a Pennsylvania, later Florida jail, for sins committed under a previous incarnation in foreign land.

The stink reached the noses of the gnomes of Zurich who later provided cut and clear evidence of a money trail that originated in Paraguay and traveled round the world, through the Caymans to New York, to Hong Kong and Singapore, and finally into the fastnesses of the Alps. But justice, or what we call justice in the benighted republic, simply closed its eyes to clear evidence of corruption. Crime pays in the land where impunity reigns.

And then there came more. An almost finished boulevard to the airport that the previous government contracted for 650 million pesos, was landscaped and lighted in time for the birthday of the patroness, who in shameless fashion named it after her once famous father, with two tiny bridges named after her unknown maternal grandparents. But by then, it had become the most expensive boulevard in the universe, all 2.2 kilometers of it billed at public expense for 1.1 billion pesos.

The syndicate collected from the same jueteng lords who once paid homage to previous rulers. But instead of foolishly hiring a single collector and an accountant to boot, ledgers and all, the syndicate simply assigned their choice of police generals to the juicy posts where jueteng was a way of life. Police generals became peons of the syndicate.

The syndicate likewise conscripted the same Chinaman who used to provide Chateau Petrus to the previous ruler, and after handsome tribute of earnest money, made him lord of container contraband that passed the ports. When the inamorata of one most powerful cried that her family of Chinamen had to have their "just" share, they were given break-bulk contraband to toy with. Later, another greedy Chinaman got into the act. He enticed the syndicate to buy China-made container X-ray machines at a humongous overprice, perhaps so the syndicate could check if the original Chinaman was paying the right amount of shwe-khang (baksheesh to the Egyptians, tara to the examiner, kotong to the lowly traffic aide), of billions to the syndicate.

Soon, everyone got into the gravy train. A spoonful here and a spoonful there, with lardoons of gravy for the smarter. Such as a vociferous old legislator who has control of a seaport, and imports of carabeef and vehicles likewise. Another high-flying former legislator imports beef and other comestibles even if his name suggests he should be strictly vegan. Others are content with cuts above their regular pork barrel.

A military general's wife and her sons were caught purloining hundreds of thousands of dollars into the erstwhile land of milk and honey they had hoped to luxuriate in after the husband's retirement. "Why only us?" she complained to Homeland Security and US customs officials, and forthwith pointed to other generals and their wives who did the money laundering, and spending. One of the military ladies, aside from buying precious real estate, was so enamored with hand-me-downs from the rich and famous, and bid fifty thousand dollars at a Christie's auction, for a purse that once belonged to Princess Grace of Monaco. She was so ecstatic over her ultra-expensive bag that she even posed for a picture with it. The picture is now in the files of the foreign government. But is the general close to being investigated? Not on your life. Fact is, he has become a cabinet member. I told you – crime pays provided you cozy up to the syndicate.

Not to forget military hardware of all kinds. The syndicate named a front man, the bosom friend of a most powerful sibling. Front man exchanged plum promotions for plum contracts, and soon, he was chummy-chummy with most everyone with a star on his shoulder. When he was tasked to husband syndicate monies collected from jueteng lords and monetized fake fertilizers for fake farms, to be used for election "operations" to ensure the victory of the patroness in 2004, he caused the wire-tapping of a commissioner for electoral cheating. Later, this military front-man was to lead a Gang of Four that partnered with the chair of the commission and got the blessings of the syndicate to negotiate a deal with their friendly Chinamen in Shenzhen for a deal that has now become the stink of the decade. True to past habit, he tapped the cell phones of the players and would-be players in that broadband deal.

Out of the ISAFP wire-tapping did the Hello Garci scandal morph into the public's attention. In any other clime and culture, Hello Garci would have caused the collapse of a regime so callous in lying, cheating and stealing. But hey, this is the Philippines, where crime pays exceedingly well, and provided you spread the sunshine in dollops, you always get away with it, including murder.

Close to a thousand activists and journalists have been killed extra-judicially, because the syndicate and the patroness could not care any less for pobrecitos like Jonas Burgos and Sherlyn Cadapan and Kate Empeno and whoever else the verdugos in the military fancy.

But when Hello Garci threatened its survival, the syndicate just caused the budget department, then "husbanded" by a once parsimonious congressional economic planner, to pay off every congressman who would deny her impeachment. That same guy was later to be NEDA director-general, from which post he was "forced" by the patroness of largesse to endorse the controversial broadband project. Habits die hard. Ah, impunity!

Impunity has indeed become hallmark of the Republic controlled by the syndicate. A former governor convicted by a lower court for murdering two young cowboys in his benighted fiefdom gets his lady to play nanny to the patroness wherever she went, and her eyes and ears in the House of the bought. On appeal, in decision most queer, convict becomes a free man days before Christendom commemorated the death of the Christ. How indeed could a criminal syndicate not forgive one of its faithful?

Not to forget the deposed president whose picayune larceny of jueteng over-rides pales in comparison to the massive plunder after him. How could the Republic's syndicate possibly send him to jail after their hand-picked judges convicted him of plunder? And so, with bleeding heart hypocrisy, the syndicate instantaneously granted pardon.

This was the same man for whom scores of sympathizing masa were killed by sniper fire when they stormed Malacañang on May 1, 2001, after the new regime threw him behind bars. Ah, the masa, cannon fodder in the altar of the politics of impunity and the economics of greed.

Since then the orgy of plunder has become unstoppable. And egregiously insatiable after usurpation was crowned with "election" in 2004. To fortify the regime, most everyone was conscripted as barkers, runners and "commissioners." In the Congress of the bought, but for a handful whose souls were not for sale. In the local government units, IRA, the official lifeline, was used as bait for fawning loyalty, along with tolerance of "pera sa basura." And in almost every level of the bureaucracy. As well as the judiciary and constitutional commissions. And – oh God, did you know?, even bishops and pastors of the faith.

Everyone had a price, and those who had none were labeled "destabilizers," the enemies of "progress." The syndicate willingly paid out of a treasure chest filled by humongous commissions, jueteng intelihensya, lotto and gambling monies, as well as the forced contributions of oligarchs who controlled the utilities, transportation and telecommunications, ports and public infrastructure, and most everything else that government regulated in the "name of the public interest."

For the right price in shwe-khang, the syndicate would not mind selling off parts of the country. Kalayaan to China, Sabah if the Malaysians could cough up. Why, do not be surprised if the Jemaah Islamiyah or Osama bin Laden bids for Mindanao with billions of euros in baksheesh.

Only a handful in the Senate stand in the way of the syndicate, whose be-all and end-all is power and greed in perpetuity. That power has become all too lucrative to give up come 2010. That power, once lost, could send the syndicate to jail, or extradition from some foreign exile. That could never be allowed.

And so that handful has been legally "castrated" by nine justices of the highest tribunal, magistrates whose credentials to such majestic office only their patroness, the boss woman could possibly appreciate. Invoking peril to "diplomatic relations,", one founded on "chia tua tiyaw chih," nine justices of the Supreme Court would rather cover up whatever truth the Senate of the People want to let out.

Cory Aquino, even in these moments of personal illness, must be ruing what has happened to the democracy she and the people re-established, now that it has morphed into a criminal syndicate far worse than the dictatorship we threw out.

The syndicate masquerading as government will never let go of power – mark these written words well. If Marcos had a hallelujah chorus to celebrate his "perpetuation" in 1981 with the stirring strains of Handel's Messiah, this regime would tap Apl de Ap and Manny Pacquiao doing a duet of Dante's Inferno set to music by Tito Sotto.

Perish the thought of change by 2010. With every institution in its pocket, with military and police generals conscripted into the cause of the unholy, the syndicate of the Republic will "reign forever and ever."

If we were not of strong enough faith, we would have asked where, oh where, is God in the midst of all these?

Who, oh God, will protect the people? Who will save the Republic?

Puno: 3 questions pertinent to NBN probe

DISSENTING OPINION

By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:53:00 03/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Chief Justice Reynato Puno Tuesday said that Senate questions on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's actions in connection with alleged irregularities in the scuttled $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal were not covered by executive privilege.

In his 120-page dissenting opinion, Puno said the Senate had validly cited Romulo Neri, former director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, in contempt for refusing to answer three questions on the project with China's ZTE Corp.

The questions were whether Ms Arroyo had followed up on the NBN project after she was told of a bribe offer, whether Neri was directed to give it priority and whether she had ordered him to approve the deal after she was told about the bribery.

Puno also said it was "self-evident" that the three questions were pertinent to the Senate inquiry.

This was because the questions were directly related to pending bills and to the inquiry, which dealt with possible anomalies in the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law and other laws and had national security implications.

Puno also said there was no effective substitute for the information that the Senate was seeking.

"The three questions demand information on how the President herself weighed options and the factors she considered in concluding the NBN-ZTE contract," he said.

The first question referred to the importance of the project to the Chief Executive herself, Puno noted.

Seriously impaired

He added that the second question was intended to determine the factors Ms Arroyo considered in opting for ZTE, and pointed out that she initially wanted the BOT arrangement.

He also said there was no other substitute as well for the third question.

The Constitution explicitly provides that officials from coequal branches of government who appear in congressional inquiries carry with them the protective cover of individual rights, as well as the shield of executive privilege, Puno said.

But he said that while the branches of government were independent and had their own powers, they were "fashioned to work interdependently."

"When there is abuse of power by any of the branches, there is no victor, for a distortion of power works to the detriment of the whole government, which is constitutionally designed to function as an organic whole," he said.

Puno said the Senate would be hampered in fulfilling its responsibilities if it failed to get the information it was seeking from Neri, which was why he should be compelled to answer the three questions.

"In the absence of the information they seek, the Senate committees' function of intelligently enacting laws to remedy what has been called the 'dysfunctional procurement system of the government' and to possibly include 'executive agreements for Senate concurrence' to prevent them from being used to circumvent the requirement of public bidding in the existing Government Procurement Reform Act cannot but be seriously impaired," he said.

Beyond court's purview

Puno also said it was not within the court's jurisdiction to tackle the Senate's motive for conducting the investigation and asking the questions. Neri had said the motive was to establish the President's culpability in the alleged anomalies.

'Chilling effect'

"The short answer to petitioner's argument is that the motive of respondent Senate committees in conducting their investigation and propounding their questions is beyond the purview of the Court's power of judicial review," Puno said.

"So long as the questions are pertinent and there is no effective substitute for the information sought, the respondent Senate committees should be deemed to have hurdled the evidentiary standards to prove the specific need for the information sought," he said.

Quoting extensively from the March 4 oral arguments on Neri's petition, Puno said the invocation of executive privilege was only based on a "general claim of a chilling effect on the President's performance of her functions if the three questions are answered."

He said the claim was not supported by specific proof. He also pointed out that invocation of the President's privilege was weakened by the fact that the issue at stake concerns a foreign loan.

"The power to contract foreign loans is a power not exclusively vested in the President, but is shared with the Monetary Board (Central Bank)," Puno said.

Puno said that whether a wrongdoing, shielded by executive privilege, had been committed should be determined in a proper forum and backed up by evidence.

"The presidential communications privilege can be pierced by a showing of a specific need of the party seeking the presidential information in order to perform its functions mandated by the Constitution," he said.

"It is after the privilege has been pierced by this demonstrated need that one can discover if the privilege was used to shield a wrongdoing, or if there was no wrongdoing after all. We should not put the cart before the horse," he said.

Puno also said it was important for courts to exert effort at negotiation and accommodation because they were necessary to avoid constitutional crises. This was an apparent defense of the tribunal's earlier proposal that Neri appear at the Senate but would not be asked the three questions still pending before the court. The Senate rejected the proposal.

Collision to be avoided

"The lesson is that collisions in the exercise of constitutional powers should be avoided in view of their destabilizing effect," he said.

Puno, in voting that the arrest order for Neri was valid, also said the Senate was a continuing body and did not republish its rules especially when these had not been changed.

"We are dealing with internal rules of a coequal branch of government and unless they clearly violate the Constitution, prudence dictates we should be wary of striking them down," he said.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gloria 'excommunicated'

By Sherwin C. Olaes
03/27/2008

President Arroyo has been virtually excommunicated by an Archbishop, saying she is a "public sinner" who must be denied communion, intimating that it would be making a mockery of the sacred host which, to Catholics, is the body and blood of Jesus Christ effected through transubstantiation, for her to be given any communion.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz yesterday made waves with his announcement of denying the President communion, which is a form of excommunication, or at the very least, a humiliating repudiation of a member of the Catholic flock, excluding her from the grant of the sacrament.

Wikipedia describes excommunication as a religious censure used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. The word literally means putting (someone) out of communion.

In some churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group. Censures and sanctions sometimes follow excommunication; these include banishment, shunning and shaming, depending on the group's religion or religious community.

In olden Catholic times, for a member to be excommunicated the church denies the excommunicated Catholic the opportunity to enter heaven.

Predictably, Malacañang yesterday scored Archbishop Cruz for publicly stating that he would deny the President Holy Communion on account of her sins committed against the Filipino people, saying for him to give the sacrament to Mrs. Arroyo would mean that he is not performing the role expected of him by Christ.

This move by Cruz is seen to impact very negatively on the President, even if it is only one bishop who has made public his intention to deny her the host, as Mrs. Arroyo has been portraying herself to be a very "religious and pious" President.

In an interview over ANC cable TV, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez said Cruz is already overstepping the boundaries on the separation of church and state.

"Everybody needs salvation. What's the reason Jesus Christ came to this world, if not to grant us salvation? We are really hurt over the Bishop's statement," Golez said.

He added that "it is so stated in the bible. In fact, the role of the priests and bishops is to save the faithful and not to separate them from the Church. And all of us sinners deserve salvation. It really is hard to believe that we have heard this (denial of the sacrament)from the good bishop," he said.

Cruz said he believes he is doing the right thing in denying Mrs. Arroyo the sacrament of communion and God help him if he is wrong in doing so, which he does not think so, because it is known that she is a public sinner.

Bishops are autonomous in the area and do not answer to any other bishop or cardinal, including the body of bishops, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for their actions, as they are accountable only to the Pope.

Pope Benedict is not expected to reprimand Cruz since this denial of communion to a member of the Catholic faithful on the reason given by him is said to be part of a bishop's duty.

But Golez said everybody is a sinner and predicted that the statement of Bishop Cruz would have a negative effect on the Church's faithful but not on Mrs. Arroyo.

"This is a free country, but we want to state the observation of a lot of the Catholic faithful who are already turned off when they see a priest leader or church leaders meddling in political issues," Golez claimed.

The deputy spokesman stressed that even the statements of former senior government officials (FSGO) who had made calls before the international community for its members to be careful in giving donations to the Arroyo government because of its susceptibility to graft and corruption, are uncalled for because the President has been exhausting efforts to address corruption.

"From the very start, our President had been very, very empathic and very forceful on this (graft and corruption) issue. She is for good governance. She has put in so much money in the bureaucracy particularly in the courts, so that those who plan to commit graft and corruption will be stopped and this would ensure that the bureaucracy will be rid of red tape. She has run after tax evaders. The President has been at the forefront of this campaign from the very beginning," he said.

It is however on record that tax probes on both her children, Rep. Mikey Arroyo and her brother in law, Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, along with the probe on Agriculture Secretary Yap, on tax evasion were stopped, even when the Finance Department then introduced a run after tax evaders program.

Mrs. Arroyo is also largely seen by the general public as protecting herself, her family members and her allies from investigations into corruption and charges of kickbacks and commissions.

For her part, the President,in a speech at the Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga vowed to work hard to further improve the banking and finance system, strengthen tax collection and broaden its tax base, and reduce, if not eliminate, corruption and red tape.

The President made this pronouncement during the 2008 Philippine Development Forum this afternoon at the Fontana Convention Center here.

Among those who attended the forum were Cabinet members, top businessmen, foreign creditors and donor countries.

To cushion the impact of recent global challenges on the Philippines, her administration has laid out programs to sustain the inflow of investments, invest heavily in human and physical infrastructure, strengthen anti-corruption initiatives and cut red tape, and blunt the blow of rising cost of energy, including rice in the world market, particularly to the poor.

"And I thank the World Bank for your interest in our targeted relief to the poorest of the poor," she said.

The President stressed the use of ODA would be prioritized to further improve the economy, education and the environment as well as provide more jobs and vital services to improve the plight of the poor.

"We will fight for the economy, education and the environment. We will fight to feed the poor, improve job creation, and do everything in our power to mitigate the global forces increasing the price of commodities like oil and rice," she claimed.

On the fiscal front, the President said there is a need to adjust foreign exchange flows to avoid excessive upward pressure on the peso. "That's why we have been prepaying our foreign debts to the extent that we don't lose money on the penalties and that's why we're also relying increasingly on the domestic bond market."

"We are bullish on our economy. We're optimistic about our future. We're committed to being a force for good for our nation. And you indeed, our international creditor and donor community are a great contribution to that force for good for our nation," she said.

But the former senior government officials, numbering 90, issued an open letter to the donor community, focusing on how corruption "sucks scarce resources crucial to development that benefits the poor."

Cielo Habito, former Ramos Neda chief said it was the right audience to address the issue of corruption as it is the donor issues that should be discussed.

The FSGO claimed that the letter was not meant to alarm the financiers and donors and was meant only to voice their concerns, hoping that the donors align the projects with the realities of the country.

The Political Economic Risk Consultancy, in a survey where expatriates were the respondents, showed the Philippines to have the "most corrupt economy in Asia."

A Philippine survey also showed that a vast majority of Filipinos believe Mrs. Arroyo to be the "most corrupt president the country has ever had."

The CBCP also stated in a pastoral letter that the Arroyo government is "morally bankrupt."

The President, however, has most of the conservative bishops on her side.

This will however not bar Archbishop Cruz from denying her the sacrament of communion.

Sherwin C. Olaes

JOHN HOPKINS-LATEST FINDINGS ON CANCER

An interesting read

AFTER YEARS OF TELLING PEOPLE CHEMOTHERAPY IS THE ONLY WAY TO TRY AND ELIMINATE CANCER, JOHN HOPKINS IS FINALLY STARTING TO TELL YOU THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY .

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5 To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size . However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune syste m is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.

CANCER CELLS FEED ON:

Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruit help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sp routs) and eat some raw vegetable s 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrefied and leads to more toxic build-up.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted anted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, resentment, and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

CANCER UPDATE FROM JOHN HOPKINS HOSPITAL , U S A

1. No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as well.

Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.
Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers.

This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else.

Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

From a forwarded e-mail

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gloria and Erap:Proposed Nobel Peace Prize Nominees from the Philippines!

from http://mav-equalizer.blogspot.com/

NOMINATIONS FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE:

We respectfully propose to The Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2008, in alphabetical order, to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrada and Ronaldo Puno for their efforts to create peace and national reconciliation in the Republic of the Philippines.

The three nominees have worked hard to establish a political democratic atmosphere and firm respect for majesty of the Law (following the dictum of "justice delayed is justice denied")

For the past decade, the conflict the "Pro Erap" forces, the "masa" and the "Pro Gloria" (the ruling elite), has been among the most irreconcilable and menacing in Philippine politics. The parties have caused each other great suffering.

By negotiating the The Presidential Pardon For Erap , and subsequently following it up with the quick pardon after six (6) weeks from the conviction of Erap by the Sandigan Bayan, Arroyo,Estrada and Puno have made substantial contributions to a historic process through which peace and cooperation can replace a bitter political feud and possibly a dangerous civil war and hate among Filipinos.

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel wrote that the Peace Prize could be awarded to the person who, in the preceding year, "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations".

The proposed award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2008 to Arroyo, Puno and Estrada is intended to honor a political act which called for great courage on both sides, and which has opened up opportunities for a new development towards fraternity in the Philippines.

It is our hope that the Committee will give the award to these great Filipinos to serve as an encouragement to all the Filipinos of different political persuasions who are working to establish lasting peace in this important country in the strategic ASEAN region.

The Profiles of the Proposed Nobel Peace Prize Awardees for 2008

1)President Gloria Arroyo: She has declared the Philippines as the most democratic country in our region. "We have no tolerance for human rights violations at home or abroad." GMA Speech in the UN General Assembly; Sept.28,2007.

She has declared,"I will be true to the constitution and to myself who has been mandated to leave the post when my term ends in 2010."

2)Ex- President Joseph Estrada :He served more than six years in detention — six years and six months to be exact. First in an air-conditioned suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and then at his own well-appointed rest house in Tanay town, outside Manila .
He has declared willingness to run again for President in 2010 if the Opposition does not unite.

3)Secretary Ronaldo D' Puno : "The "Master Spin Doctor" who acted as the principal negotiator between President Gloria Arroyo and President Joseph Estrada in the presidential pardon "deal". He is arguably one of the most successful campaign managers in Philippine politics (for Marcos, Ramos, Erap and Gloria).

President Gloria Arroyo and Ex-President Joseph "Erap" Estrada have a common motto:FOOL YOU ONCE SHAME ON ME, FOOL YOU TWICE SHAME ON YOU!

EQ:P.S. Joke only

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why God allows evil

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
Thursday, March 20, 2008

When Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) was quoted by Time Magazine on its cover for saying: "The Good Lord put me here" — she could not be farther from the truth, at least in that particular instance.

The same way that I now tend to think that GMA was indeed placed by God in Malacanang Palace, I, however, do not believe that she was placed there for the reasons she wants others to believe.

You see, when God gave man free will, it came with making a choice between doing good and doing evil. Man can either create his own hell on earth, or he can create his heaven — the choice is entirely man's own.

As a Roman Catholic, I once wondered how come God allowed such a senseless carnage like World War I to happen. This so-called Great War was the most extensive, most brutal yet at that time and it was fought for the most inane of reasons. It resulted from the folly of the last of the European monarchs.

When a Serbian assassin killed the archduke of Austria, it provided Austria-Hungary with an excuse to act against rebellious Serbia. It did so by using a treaty forged among major European powers and enjoining all signatories to get involved.

Quite a number of Scottish towns have put up monuments to commemorate its sons who perished in World War I, leaving behind many widows and orphans. One town I visited in 1985 lost half of its male population after only an hour of battle. How could God allow them to lose their lives because of an evil deed of one Serbian fanatic?

But on hindsight, we now understand that World War I caused major upheavals to happen, many of them triggering a chain of changes that up to now continue to benefit the world.

One of these major changes was the fall of the monarchies in Germany, Austria and Russia and the end as well of that of the Ottoman Empire. The Great War became the great equalizer that paved the way for democracy in those countries. World War I also spawned an awakening of the masses, leading to the birth of Communism in Russia which later spread to other countries.

Thus, like the Serbian fanatic, GMA may well be the historical catalyst from whose petrified belly issues forth the seeds of our redemption. GMA could be God's instrument in resolving the deep-rooted Philippine problems, including serious problems within the Philippine Roman Catholic Church. GMA could be the instrument of the Lord to lead our nation to wipe the slate clean and turn a new leaf.

Do we really think that God is pleased with what his Roman Catholic Church has been doing here? Would God not think that some Princes and Bishops of the Church here — as best exemplified by Ricardo Cardinal Vidal — may have altogether lost their moorings and have since transformed themselves into the very Pharisees who killed the Son of God?

Many Filipinos associate Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo with evil. How come Cardinal Vidal does not? Not only that, but Cardinal Vidal has gone out of his way to support these two Malacanang occupants who many see as no-do-gooders who wear Prada.

Just recently, we heard from reliable Church sources that Cardinal Vidal gathered 300 priests in Cebu to give them the "TRUTH" according to Malacañang about the NBN-ZTE scandal. One-sided and bad enough as that is — in the light of what have already been exposed — Cardinal Vidal allegedly ordered the priests NOT TO SAY MASS WHEN WHISTLE-BLOWER JUN LOZADA VISITS CEBU!

Few believed the denials made by Cardinal Vidal and his Spokesman. I, for one, don't believe their denials.

A Jesuit-educated political analyst commented: "When a Cardinal uses the authority of ecclesiastical power to withhold from a Roman Catholic what should be the most unifying memorial of Christ's life, we are not only on the road to perdition. We are already in it."

The mission of priests is to bring Christ to the people. If Jun Lozada is what Cardinal Vidal thinks he is (which most of us do not agree with, thank God for our discernment) — then all the more Jun Lozada should be allowed to hear Holy Mass.

If GMA is God-sent to facilitate a cleansing process, expect that process to be costly and bloody — following historical trends. She has eroded our institutions, subverted the truth, removed accountability and transparency in government, set Filipinos against their government and exposed the dark side of many people who we once thought were godly and honorable.

Don't the divisions in Philippine society, the AFP and even the Philippine Catholic Church remind you of the divisions that the antichrist will cause (as described in the Book of Revelations) — setting brother against brother and father against son?

Are we building up to a Philippine Armageddon? Like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, we must pray that this cup shall have passed from our lips.

Imagining Gloria Arroyo

by Isagani R. Cruz
(Published in Philippine Star, 20 March 2008)

One of the exercises I do in my playwriting classes when I want to help my students create a character goes like this: Imagine yourself as the character and, using the first person pronoun, articulate what you feel and think.

Suppose I were writing a play about Gloria Arroyo, how would I write what is known in the drama trade as a monologue? The following, then, is a purely creative exercise; any resemblance to any living or dead person should be considered purely coincidental.

First of all, if I were Gloria Arroyo, I would never resign. That is simply stupid. I would be immediately hauled into jail by whoever replaces me. Even if the new president only puts me under house arrest in my own condo, that would still be very embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient. That is what happened to Erap. The people wanted Erap's blood, and I had to give it to them. The people now want my blood, and whoever leads the mob will be just too glad to oblige them.

Secondly, I would never give up the presidency. The same reasons that prevent me now from resigning will still be around in 2010. The next president, even if he or she is the one I anoint, will undoubtedly put me in jail.

I had to put Erap in jail, even if I served him hand and foot as his Vice President. The only thing I could do for him was to pardon him the moment the court convicted him. That way, technically, he never spent a minute in jail. Of course, he did spend all those years not being able to move around, but that's just a technicality. Technically, he was presumed innocent until proven guilty. As soon as he was proven guilty, I pardoned him. My successor will pardon me, I hope, but how many years will I have to spend imprisoned though presumed innocent?

It is not even a question anymore of my being innocent or guilty. Erap still says he is innocent, but I arrested him anyway. I think I am innocent, or at least I think I have done and continue to do the right thing, but no one seems to agree with me, not even my closest aides, who I cannot trust. In fact, I don't really know who to trust anymore, since Erap's closest aides betrayed him. Erap's betrayers are in my Cabinet, for heaven's sake. As they say, once a traitor, always a traitor.

I could declare martial law. But the Constitution says I cannot do that without Congress looking over my shoulder. It's a good thing I have made sure that that fellow is no longer in charge of Congress. I never trusted him, even if he always defended me when I needed defending. He is always only for himself, not for anyone else, least of all me. But there's still the Senate, and I can't seem to get through to them. Not yet, anyway.

But I am not sure of this new Speaker either. I thought he was for federalism and a parliamentary system and all that. That is why I picked him. But he now says he is against changing the Constitution. A parliamentary system would have made me immune forever, because I can always be a member of parliament.

On the other hand, where would I run as a candidate? My own provincemates elected that pesky priest as our governor.

I don't know why I ended up president in the first place. I just wanted to be a teacher. I loved being in a university, where you are judged not by who you know, but by what you know.

The die is cast. I have to bite the bullet. Martial law is the only thing I can do, and I better make sure Congress agrees with me. I don't really care what the Supreme Court says. I have violated all sorts of laws anyway, but since it takes forever to challenge anything I do in court, I will have plenty of lead time to think things through. And to pack my bags.

They say I already have a place set up in Portugal or some other place where no one can touch me. That may be true, but why would I want to go into exile? I don't want to die like Marcos did, just an unknown foreigner dying in a foreign land. I don't want to end up like he did, not even having a proper burial as a former president. I want to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, because I am a hero. I saved this country from Erap. That makes me a hero, doesn't it?

What an ungrateful people these Filipinos are! I have spent my entire life serving them, yet they turn against me just because some of my guys foolishly got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. It's so hard to get good help these days.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Best for the Least: Building a First World Philippines, Raising a First Class Filipino

By Tony Meloto

This speech was delivered last 11 March 2008 at the University of the Philippine National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) as part of the GK Public Lecture Series.

The GK Public Lecture Series is a quarterly multi-sectoral gathering open to all who are concerned about poverty eradication and nation-building. It is organized by the GK Builders Institute and hosted by partner schools all over the country. It will feature conversations and discourses on nation-building drawing from the experience of Gawad Kalinga here and abroad.

For the schedule of the next public lecture, please contact the GK Builders Institute National Secretariat at gkbi.national@gmail.com or at 0917.8933003.



"What can we do for our country?" is the question in the hearts of many Filipinos today. It is a genuine quest for a personal response after tiring of repeatedly asking others the old question "what's happening to our country?" and not getting any satisfactory answer or seeing any meaningful change once the disturbing issues of the day are out of the headlines and emotions die down.

We are here this afternoon at UP NCPAG to discover and discuss fresh and radical responses to this question since this is the best environment for out- of- the- box ideas. And Dean Alex Brillantes is just as crazy and adventurous as we all are in Gawad Kalinga in exploring uncharted territories. Before responding to this question, let me show you first a short video.

What you just saw is a moving documentary depicting the lives of former street children in Quezon City captured vividly on canvas by patriotic artist Joey Velasco in his now famous painting Hapag ng Pag-asa. Three of the subjects were scavengers from Payatas, one girl lived in an empty tomb in La Loma cemetery, the others were squatters under the bridge in North Fairview. Born in extreme poverty to parents who were landless tenants or fishermen in Visayas and Bicol before squatting in the city, they were children without hope, part of the dispossessed population that our society calls hampaslupa (dirt poor) and patay-gutom (starved to death). They are the faces of the real Filipino that many of our political and business decision-makers who live in gated villages do not know. Any meaningful effort to develop the country must first consider the need for respect and restoration of those at the bottom of the heap.

Joey Velasco used his art not only to depict the plight of the neglected but more importantly, to inspire supporters to help educate them, provide livelihood for their parents, and relocate them to a Gawad Kalinga village in Amparo, Caloocan City where they can live in dignity and look forward to a future full of hope. This is a case of art giving life and the portrait of an artist as a Filipino.

Many of us are concerned over what is happening now although our reactions and responses may vary. The establishment is threatened, the students are restless, the rich are disturbed, and the poor are waiting for the next meal and for genuine change to happen on a scale that is massive and heroic at the ground level for their lives to improve.

The silence of many is not a tolerance of wrongdoing or falsehood. Our people simply want concrete action that goes beyond rhetoric, partisanship, and conflict. Our passion is waiting to be unleashed on a great vision for a new nation anchored on truth and justice that inspires hope, heals wounds, and builds peace.

Last February 28, as some people took to the streets once again to vent societal frustrations, I was in Ayala Alabang for the GK forum on nation building with concerned village leaders and residents. Many of them are active GK partners and volunteers and others wanted to find out how they could help. One of them, world-class architect Bobby Manosa, commented after the session that the best response that we can give to the present situation is to simply love our country despite the pessimism and the ugliness that we see or hear around us.

I agree with Bobby, but let me add another fundamental response: we must love the poor in our country as we love our family.

It is unfair to leave to our children a legacy that is in a state of disarray. They deserve to inherit from us a country that they can be proud of, a strong economy that will provide them career and business opportunities, and a home environment that will guarantee them security. This is not possible if we neglect the poor. Nation-building is about people-building; it is about raising the weak to become strong. Nation-building is about developing our social capital, converting our human liabilities to assets, and cultivating a culture of productivity and hard-work to achieve food sufficiency, trigger entrepreneurship, promote trade, raise standards of excellence, and improve quality of life for all. This is the view from the bottom that many cannot see because they do not know the poor.

Sadly, it is true that we do not speak enough about our love for the Philippines and for the poor in our country. It is simply not in our system; it is not embedded in our soul. We do not drill it in the hearts of our children because it was not drilled in ours. We talk about love of God all the time because we are a religious people but seldom do we profess our love for God and country as if the two do not go together.

As a Christian, I see poverty as fundamentally a failure in discipleship. We are a poor nation because we have failed to love the poor. Consequently, we are second- class in the eyes of men and unfaithful in the eyes of God.

Love of country is the heart and soul of UP, the fiery rhetoric of countless campus speeches, the burning passion of street parliamentarians, the dying breath of martyrs, and the mantra of the Iskolars ng Bayan who have become world-class professionals and talents. Through excellence and hard-work, many UP graduates now call Ayala Alabang home. Many others have bloomed and prospered in many corners of the globe.

However, despite the sacrifice and heroism of its patriots and the affluence and influence of its successful graduates, UP today, after 100 years of existence, joins other top universities who have nurtured the brightest and the best in the country, in wondering why the Philippines remains third-world, poor and corrupt, where 3 million Filipino families live in extreme poverty—landless, homeless, and oftentimes, hungry. Why haven't we changed for the better? What happened to our collective genius?

It is not from a lack of concern, or caring, or effort. The streets of our cities are mute witnesses to numerous collective outrage for change; I was in two of them, EDSA 1 and EDSA 2. The soil in the countryside is soaked with the blood of our warriors, both soldiers and rebels alike, ferociously fighting each other yet not understanding why Filipinos have to be enemies to one another. Our slums drip with the sweat and tears of countless everyday heroes from NGOs, peoples organizations and government agencies who care for the needy, despite the fact that many of them are also in need.

Yes, many do care for our country, many want change. Despite countless false starts and dead-ends and untold frustrations, our compatriots will continue the struggle for redemption until we get it right.

There are numerous laudable paths and noteworthy means in building this country. The buzz word in business is CSR, for Corporate Social Responsibility; schools have immersions, civic clubs and churches have outreaches. There are also those who run for public office or take political actions on the streets. These are conventional paths of good citizens.

My chosen path is a disruption to convention. It is called Gawad Kalinga. Our dream is clear to us, crazy as it may seem to others: to build a First- World Philippines and to raise a First- Class Filipino in this country in this generation. Ambitious? Yes! But why not? "Bakit ka pa magtitipid kung nangangarap ka para sa iyong Bayan?" (Why scrimp when you dream for your country?)

Many have ridiculed our dreams but have not succeeded in discouraging us or stopping others from believing and taking the journey with us- bringing with them better technology, greater expertise, and more resources- and contaminating others with their passion.

If we succeed because of our faith in God and in the Filipino, the country will rejoice and we will gain our place in heaven. If we fail, we lose nothing. Trying is everything. The journey is the victory. There is no failure for those who believe.

The first phase of the journey is to address social injustice by raising 700,000 home lots and start –up 7,000 communities by the end of 2010. The goal of the campaign called GK 777 is to "unsquat" the poorest of the poor, heal their woundedness, regain their trust, build their confidence, and make them think and act as a community.

Then we move in the next 7 years to the stewardship phase: strengthening governance; developing community- based programs for health, education, environment, and productivity; building a village culture that honors Filipino values and heritage. The goal is to empower the powerless for self- governance, self- reliance, and self- sufficiency.

The final phase in the last 7 years is achieving scale and sustainability by developing the grassroots economy and expanding the reach and influence of GK to 5 million families with support from key sectors of society in the Philippines and partners abroad. We will make the Filipino poor "unpoor" by unleashing his potential for productivity and hard-work in the right environment.

The timeframe is 21 years starting October 4, 2003 until October 4, 2024. This represents one generation of Filipinos who will journey from poverty to prosperity, from neglect to respect, from shame to honor, from third-world to first-world, from second-class to first-class citizen of the world. The term first-world is not a statement that everything in the West or in a developed country is superior or desirable; it simply refers to greater opportunities, higher standards, and better quality of life available to more of its citizens.

Some quarters concerned about the present situation are wondering why we have been quiet during this time of public outrage and noise. No, we have not been silent, just busy building the dream on the ground—getting more land for the landless, building more homes for the homeless, mentoring more children, planting more trees, producing more food for the hungry in 1,700 GK sites in 362 towns and cities to date. And we want these numbers to double this year.

Last weekend, 1400 students of the College of Immaculate Concepcion, led by their president Msgr. Mike Veneracion, were noisy and busy working to support ongoing GK programs in 9 towns in Nueva Ecija. This is happening in many parts of the country on a regular basis and increasingly on a massive scale.

Yes, we are on the ground yet fervently praying for what will happen at the top. Whenever the rich and the powerful fight it is the poor who suffer the most. We want to be at their side to assure them that they are not alone and abandoned, and that we will continue to raise them up until changes in political systems and economic policies from the top will finally reach them on the ground.

We are not only making noise on the ground in the Philippines, but also abroad.

As I speak this afternoon my son-in-law, Dylan Wilk, with his wife and two babies and a couple of volunteers, is cutting across the American continent in an epic drive to 68 cities in 81 days to honor the achievement of Filipino Americans and to rally them to share their success with the poor in the towns and provinces where they come from. Dubbed the "GK Highway of HOPE 2008," the caravan will culminate in a huge Pinoy Pride Celebration on May 24, 2008 with a target crowd of at least 20,000 at the National City Park organized by the top Fil-Am leaders of San Diego. This will usher in the GK Builders Summit at Marriott Hotel in the next two days with volunteers from across North America converging to swap dreams and fuel love for the motherland.

One thing is clearly evident in this surge of patriotic fervor: the Filipinos in North America are awake. They are no longer content in simply pursuing the American dream and enjoying the good life once they achieve success. There is a growing consciousness to outgrow a colonial mentality and to overcome an identity crisis, to come out of the closet and celebrate the gift and the pride of being a Filipino in America. There is outrage when this emerging collective identity is insulted like the recent racial slur on TV by one desperate housewife against our medical profession.

They know however that the insult will continue if their country of origin remains the way it is. They want to see change in the Philippines and they will help to make it happen; and they have the resources to do it. After all, the Filipinos today have the second highest average household income of all ethnic groups in America. Their total disposable annual income exceeds USD 50 billion, not counting their accumulated wealth and expertise after long years and long hours of hard work. American intervention in the future will no longer come in the way it did before, but through the Fil-Ams who will interfere in local politics and business and other affairs of our nation, now that they have the time and the resources to do it. Some of them helped a priest become governor of a province in the last election: they will be a major factor in 2010.

The global mood is for hope and change. People want to build a better world especially after September 11, with the threat of global warming, massive poverty, terrorism, and pandemic diseases and plagues hanging over our heads. A stream of foreigners, mostly from universities, is coming to build their customized communities that we call GK Designer Villages. Twenty Yale students, the fourth batch to come, are here to volunteer in an existing GK site in Taguig and to search for their first Yale Designer Village. The team from the Lone Star College of Texas is also here to upgrade and expand their adopted community in Lipa city. Just build and they will come. The Philippines will become the field of dreams even for foreigners who want to see an end to poverty with this exciting model called Gawad Kalinga started by ordinary Filipinos in their country who simply did not give up.

The yearning for a better life and better times in this country must be matched with a clear, sincere, and grand vision that will inspire its citizens to work together for the greater good. The good news is that many want to help. The next good news is that we have the resources to do it.

1. There is enough land to "unsquat" the informal settlers in this country. Mayors and governors, with the support from DILG and HUDCC and its shelter agencies, are doing massive land banking with us because they are starting to see that doing good is good politics.

2. There is enough money from government and the private sector to build 3 million homes for the poorest Filipinos living in shanties. We don't have to beg foreign governments and international funding institutions to help us. The problem is not lack of money, it is equitable distribution and effective utilization of wealth.

3. We have the brains and the talent to do it. If we offer our collective excellence to uplift the poor, this will be a beautiful country where no one is in need and every Filipino will be proud.


Now let's go back to the opening question. "What can we do for our country?"

First, as we discussed at the start of the session, is to give the poor in our country the gift of respect, not just pity and dole-out. In the process, the poor will learn to trust us and teach us how to love, especially during times when they are most difficult or ungrateful; when our expectations for their own good are not easily understood or appreciated because they have been left behind for so long. This is when we will discover true love as written in the Good Book where it says "Love is patient, love is kind…and real love does not easily give up."

The second is to give them the gift of dreams; real hope that they can see, aspirations that they can reach, homes that they can build, and food that they can produce with our help. This is possible if those among us with the resources, the technology, and the patience will dream with those who have lost their capacity to dream.

Finally, we must share with the poor the gift of excellence. A nation will prosper if its brightest and most successful citizens will generously share their talent and resources with majority of its population who are underdeveloped because of poverty and historical neglect. Our slogan and strategy of development in Gawad Kalinga is the
"best for the least"… to raise the least to become the best.

To design the homes, gardens, and furniture for Gawad Kalinga, the best talents in the country like Bobby Manosa, Bong Recio, Jun Palafox, Edith Oliveros, and Budji Layug have offered their help. Other top architects and designers in the provinces, many of them members of the United Architects of the Philippines, are helping us build first-class communities for the poorest Filipinos. This will rock the world of architecture and design.

Two of the best agricultural schools, Central Luzon State University and UP Los Banos, are here today to help end hunger and malnutrition in all GK sites. Our goal this year is to set-up GK farm institutes all over the country- with the support of the Department of Agriculture and corporate partners like Globe, Shell, Selecta, AIG/ Phil-am, and others- to help educate our people to produce more food rather than buy, to plant rather than import rice, and to mitigate the risk of scarcity of supply, high prices, and hunger.

The UP NCPAG and the Ateneo School of Government are also here to help enable LGU partners for township development. I am confident that the next generation will be less corrupt because we chose to work with our political leaders rather than judge them, getting them to observe greater transparency and accountability when they work with us. Excellence will restore our pride, integrity will bring back our honor.

The Gawad Kalinga brand is starting to attract the best medical practitioners to help build healthy communities, the best in media to spread the good news, the best in business to promote and market the best product in the world- the excellent and beautiful Filipino.

In closing, I want to leave you with this radical challenge if we want the Philippines to rise soon: we must all fall madly in love with our country- lavish her with affection, delight in her beauty, and take pride in her achievements.

If we see her through the eyes of love and help convert her faults into virtues, we will turn her ugly slums into beautiful communities, bring her street-children out of begging back into the classroom, turn her barren hills into lush forests, and her idle men into productive citizens.

Like Rizal, we must liberate her from the matapobre mentality of Dona Victorina and the hypocrisy of Father Damaso to build an egalitarian society and a caring culture where rich and poor live together peacefully in inclusive communities.



Like Ninoy, whose 25th death anniversary we are celebrating this year, we must show our country that she is "worth dying for." She is worth dying to oneself so that others may live.

Let us make nation building our greatest romance and loving the poor our greatest passion. Let us prove to ourselves and to everyone that Filipinos indeed are the best lovers in the world.

May God, in His amazing grace, continue to reveal to us that we are not a mistake of creation but a people designed for perfection. May we always cherish the gift of being Filipino and pass this gift on to our children.

Mahalin ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!