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Friday, May 30, 2008

ONE - A Filipino Movement

GLIMPSES
Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is public knowledge, internally, that Filipinos are burdened by a curse called divisiveness. This destructive pattern is not the exclusive domain of Filipinos in the Philippines but is like a virus that travels where Filipinos travel. It is very much alive among Filipinos in North America if we look at the number of Filipino associations, around 200 in San Diego alone.

I am now on my second week in San Diego, primarily to support a new and determined effort to promote solidarity among Filipinos in North America. Although I am not a Fil-Am, many among those who help my prime advocacy, Gawad Kalinga are from San Diego. It was more than a pleasant surprise when a few GK advocates from San Diego led by Tony Olaes, a successful second generation Fil-Am, began a renewed effort towards solidarity among Filipinos in North America.

I have been monitoring email correspondence of several egroups in the last twelve years. With great consistency, more and more Filipinos in America write about their deep desire to help the homeland, to strip it of its corrupt image and behavior, to take the poor out of their historical poverty. A common sentiment can be a common cause, and there are common sentiments that can be firm bases to become common causes. Yet, the pattern of divisiveness is embedded too deeply and has created so many wounds that common sentiments and causes have not yet triggered a visible move towards unity.

Why would a young businessman and others like him take on such a Quixotic quest when all others before them failed? When I asked him, Tony Olaes said because he longs for that solidarity, he believes it is time, and he knows that with just a few committed patriots committed to spend their own money like him could drive the movement without being dependent on solicited funds. If I had not been aware of what Olaes has been doing for Gawad Kalinga and the village he is building in the memory of his grandparents in Cavite, I would be skeptical even though I, too, believe that the moment is quickly ripening.

To walk his talk, Olaes mounted a soft launch of the movement for Filipino solidarity in America last Saturday, May 24. Calling it ONE - A Filipino Celebration, Olaes chose KIimball Park in National City as the venue of the launch. Together with Robert Sanchez, another successful second generation Fil-Am generation, the operational support of Seafood City and the multilevel marketing group of the health drink, Mona-Vie, Olaes staged a whole day fiesta at Kimball Park with end-to-end entertainment by performers of Filipino descent.

The ONE movement that Olaes and friends want to promote begins with reaching out to kindred spirits among other successful Filipinos from North America. Some Fil-Ams from other states are already on board to be the strategic players in key regions. Tony Olaes does not want to form an organization and prefers a movement which will draw life from its core group and the cooperation of Filipinos and Filipino organizations across America. After all, he does not envision competing associations submitting themselves to an umbrella organization, nor does he feel that it is necessary. Apparently, he believes that unity is possible in diversity for as long as they can adopt common causes.

With the history of divisiveness of Filipinos, it seems impossible that a centuries-old behavioral pattern can be dismantled by the vision and nobility of a few Filipinos in America, no matter how wealthy and strategic they may be. However, the work of Gawad Kalinga is being supported by even competing organizations or corporations. Recognizing the capacity of Gawad Kalinga as a convergence zone, Olaes and friends believe that it serves a template for unity. ONE, then, is being formulated to be grounded on the same principles and values as Gawad Kalinga.

It is impossible to build a nation we can all be proud of if poverty and corruption continue to define Philippine society and governance. It is impossible to dismantle poverty and corruption if the pattern of divisiveness overrides the need for change and honor. But if the solidarity we seek has not been an impossible dream, then we would not be poor or corrupt. Thousands of well-meaning patriots have tried over several decades to bring a divided people together, and many of them gave up their lives to do so. I would think it remains impossible if I have not been aware that Filipinos abroad are shedding their apathy and now expressing a more intense desire to help those who are left behind.

Are Filipinos ready to move towards common causes and take common actions? It does not appear so in the Philippines, even at times when the worst of issues are presented to the public. Somehow, the reaction to poverty and corruption is weak and glaringly inadequate considering the need. Filipinos in the home land continue to be submissive, and only a looming food shortage - whether from supply or the inability to pay higher prices - can conceivably cause a political stir.

In the United States, however, I am convinced that Filipinos are nearing the point of intolerance against poverty and corruption. The young especially are manifesting their desire to visit a home land they never felt anything for before. That is a sure sign that things will change, and change dramatically.

Perhaps, ONE is such a manifestation of the resolve of second, and third, generations of Fil-Ams to participate in building a brighter future for the home land. They may be in search of a collective honor, or they may truly be repulsed by the poverty of their own countrymen. Whatever it is, I am hopeful that the first rays of a new day are penetrating the darkness,and that a new age for the Philippines is about to arise.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doesn't the SEC act in Meralco remind you of the Comelec?

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
Thursday, May 29, 2008

A few days before the May 27 Meralco Annual Stockholders Meeting, Winston Garcia, GSIS General Manager representing a quarter of Meralco stockholders, conceded that he will not be able to muster the needed proxy votes to takeover management from the Lopezes.

That comes as no surprise at all. The last thing stockholders would like to see is the government running the power firm. The fastest way to erode share value and lose money is to let the government run the enterprise. That concern must have also prodded stockholders to attend the May 27 meeting in bigger than usual numbers.

Then, Winston Garcia suddenly pulls this monkey wrench and announces before the fateful Meralco meeting that the Lopezes will retain Meralco management through the use of bogus proxy votes.

Now, as if on cue, lo and behold, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) shows up at the Meralco Annual Stockholders Meeting last Tuesday to impose a cease and desist order that will stop the election of board members.

It would appear that Garcia maneuvered the SEC order that will allow him to disregard the disputed Lopez votes — thus paving the way for his desired management takeover.

Having chaired several corporations, I am familiar with these maneuvers that one is to expect in the executive suite. The bigger the corporation, the more creative and vicious the maneuvering and back stabbing are. Greed and stiletto back planting go together like ketchup and fries.

Frankly, I have not seen anything as scandalous and downright high-handed as that SEC cease and desist order to halt the Meralco board elections. Government is supposed to be a regulator, an arbiter if need be. But this reeks of outright partiality. It's like playing the Los Angeles Lakers with Phil Jackson, Mitch Kupchak and Jerry Buss as the referees!

Monico Jacob of the Lopez Group lost no time spelling out the far reaching consequences of the SEC action on Philippine business and the inflow of foreign investments. Jacob was, of course, promoting Lopez interest in Meralco but that does not negate the truth of what he said about how the SEC act will make investors think thrice about doing business here.

Investors are the easiest to scare. Rumors, no matter how wild and unfounded, can scare them away. They can just as easily say that there is no point investing in a place where the rumors can give us a heart attack. They scamper at the earliest signs of disorder. And the warning that this hostile takeover of the Meralco sends will scare even the bravest and most daring corporate gamesman.

It is bad enough that investors here complain about how we just as easily change the rules of the game, how a Supreme Court decision can alter the business landscape overnight. This SEC order says it loud and clear: "If your business is lucrative enough, the GMA regime reserves the right to takeover."

The scandalous SEC order does not surprise us when taken in the context of what has been happening to our country ever since Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) ascended the presidency. It comes as a natural sequence to the long trail of acts of impunity that have characterized the Arroyo regime.

The Lopez board defended its defiance to the SEC order by stating that it was highly irregular and defective. They enumerated the following irregularities:

1. That it did not even have a date (How is one to know when this order applies?),

2. That it was signed by only one SEC Commissioner,

3. That it was not the result of a Commission meeting (So who decided to issue it and for what justifications?),

4. That there was no docket number (Is this document a joke or for real?),

5. That there was no SEC official seal on the document, among other issues.

It was my former Ateneo classmate Jess Martinez who signed the questioned SEC cease and desist order. When I told Jess how I felt about the SEC intervention, he deplored what he considered my "prejudging" his order.

When I got back to him about the points raised (no date, only one signature, etc), Jess said that these were just the arguments of the Meralco lawyers playing to the gallery. Jess claimed that: "We've issued CDOs (cease and desist orders) by the dozens without bothering with those petty details."

"It doesn't affect the order at all. That's the way it is buddy," He added.

It does not help Jess at all that he happens to be a province mate of Winston Garcia — something that connects dots in the highly politicized Philippine landscape. I would not hold that though against Jess.

But for SEC Commissioner Jess Martinez to say that a missing date on a cease and desist order and those other mentioned details are inconsequential — now that is what I call bovine ordure. Even Raul Gonzalez and his brand of justice might find it difficult to sustain that SEC cease and desist order with all those missing elements.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Esperon's New Assignment

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Esperon's New Assignment

The recent retirement of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ((AFP) and subsequent appointment as Presidential Adviser on the peace process in Mindanao has made a lot of people agog in disbelief. In the relatively short time that he served as the head honcho of the armed forces, Esperon has politicized the military by serving the political -- and private -- agenda of President Gloria Arroyo.

Esperon gained notoriety in the "Hello Garci" election cheating scandal during the 2004 presidential election. At that time he served as the AFP's Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and concurrently served as Deputy Commander of Task Force HOPE -- "Honest, Orderly, and Peaceful Elections." Sad to say, the elections were not honest, orderly or peaceful.

In May 2005, Esperon was one four generals mentioned in the "Hello Garci" tapes. In a recorded conversation, former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano told Arroyo that he worked with Esperon and Gen. Roy Kyamko in relieving Gen. Francisco Gudani, the Southern Command chief who was suspected of being friendly to the opposition. In another conversation, Arroyo demanded from Garcillano that she wins by one million votes. Those votes came from Mindanao. In August 2005, Arroyo promoted Esperon as Philippine Army chief. By July 2006, Esperon was promoted to Chief of Staff.


Esperon's meteoric rise may be attributed to his ability to "serve and protect" President Arroyo. With Esperon at the helm of the military, Arroyo didn't have to worry about any attempt to depose her. It is no wonder then that when Esperon reached mandatory retirement age on February 9, 2008, Arroyo extended his service for three months, at a crucial time when corruption scandals erupted again. Esperon once again demonstrated his loyalty to Arroyo when he led hundreds of uniformed soldiers locked arm-in-arm with components of the national police in an intimidating public show of force.

A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1974, Esperon started his military career during the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. It was a period when the "rules of the game" were unorthodox. A culture of corruption spawned during the formative years of his career. To move ahead, he had to go along. It is no wonder then that he fitted perfectly into Arroyo's corruption-driven government.

In 2002, Arroyo pulled then Col. Esperon from the war zone and appointed him as Commander of the Presidential Security Guard. For some reason, Arroyo saw in Esperon the perfect Praetorian Guard. And performed well he did. In four short years, Esperon made it to the highest rank, a four-star General.

After the 2004 elections, Arroyo went on the offensive against the communist insurgents. She declared that she'll wipe out the New People's Army (NPA) by the end of her term in 2010. Once again, she turned to her fiercely loyal Chief of Staff and ordered him to carry out a plan to eliminate the NPA. Coincidentally, it was during his watch when extrajudicial killings became rampant and caught the attention of the international community including the United Nations. Since Arroyo took over the presidency in 2001, more than 900 leftists, activists, politicians, journalists, priests, and farmers were murdered and another 185 disappeared from the face of the Earth. Many believed that the military had a hand in most of the killings and forced disappearances. One of Esperon's generals -- known as "The Butcher" -- was suspected as the head of the military "death squads."

It is no wonder then that Esperon's appointment as Presidential Adviser on the peace process in Mindanao has stirred a hornet's nest and generated protests from various sectors. How can a retired general with a pockmarked career reach out to his erstwhile enemies and expect them to trust and respect him. His critics say that Esperon's appointment would signal the "militarization of the peace process."

Last February 2008, it was reported in the news that "National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales proposed two possible ways to defeat the Communist rebellion by 2010: first is to craft a really good local government counter-insurgency strategy, or to extend the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo." Aha! Now, we know what Arroyo had in mind.

With the ever loyal Esperon officially employed in the Arroyo government as a "presidential adviser," he could serve as her "unofficial" direct pipeline -- bypassing the Secretary of National Defense -- to the armed forces' top brass; thus, ensuring continued military support of Arroyo including extension of her term by whatever means she could utilize. After all, Arroyo's goal of defeating the communist insurgency is also the military's goal. Indeed, that would make them partners.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Monday, May 26, 2008

What's wrong with a Justice Secretary favoring shoot-to-kill orders for the Cabuyao bank massacre suspects?

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes, what's wrong with a DoJ Secretary favoring shoot-to-kill orders for the Cabuyao RCBC Branch massacre suspects?

The answer is — everything is wrong if you're a Justice Secretary!

It is one thing to feel outrage and indignation over the dastardly massacre of 10 bank managers and employees in Cabuyao and another for a Justice Secretary to favor a shoot-to-kill order for suspects of the deed most foul.

To begin with, DoJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez himself admitted that the targets of the proposed shoot-to-kill orders are suspects. As such, there has been no process yet to determine if the suspects are indeed the villains or just some of the usual framed-up souls our police are inclined to produce when pressured to solve a heinous crime.

As Justice Secretary, Gonzalez should be the first to promote adherence to due process and the individual's right to defend himself in a court of law. As Justice Secretary, Gonzalez would be the first to know just how unreliable our police can be when producing suspects, especially when they are under severe public pressure to produce the ruthless killers behind an inhuman deed like the Cabuyao bank massacre.

Last Monday, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez once again demonstrated that he was still under the influence of toxins affecting his brain due to his kidney problem. On ABS-CBN TV Patrol, Gonzalez openly stated to the Justice Department press corps that he favors issuing shoot-to-kill orders for the suspects of the Cabuyao RCBC Bank massacre.

The negative effects of unprocessed toxins resulting from chronic kidneys — for which Gonzalez received a kidney transplant — happen to those who are undergoing dialysis. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Gonzalez made so many weird and shocking utterances when he was still undergoing dialysis. The mental effects of unprocessed toxins are known to be worse the older the chronic kidney patient is.

However, the mind of the chronic kidney patient is supposed to stabilize after kidney transplantation has been accomplished. But for some reason or another, that does not seem to be the case for Raul Gonzalez. One is led to deduce that what he says may not be what his chronic kidneys cause him to say but what he really thinks and feels.

I remember Ninoy Aquino being quoted as saying that Filipinos will stomach poverty but not injustice. Ninoy was right. The lives of Filipinos became miserable under Ferdinand Marcos, but it was the injustice of Ninoy's assassination that prompted the nation to remove the Marcos dictatorship.

Before Marcos became president in 1965, we were the second best economy in Asia and the peso stood at P4 to the then almighty US dollar. Right after Ninoy was assassinated, our economy, which was already in disrepair owing to Marcos crony capitalism, sank even lower. From being second best in Asia, we became known as second worst economy after Bangladesh.

And yet, it was not due to a sinking economy that Filipinos took to the streets and eventually found themselves doing People Power in 1986. It was due to injustice, notably the public outcry that followed the Ninoy Aquino assassination on August 21, 1983.

Filipinos were used to violence in local politics. But the Aquino assassination was the first ever incident of violence on the level of national politics in the country. Many were shocked. It dawned on Filipinos that if this can happen to a popular former senator of the land, then who else is safe? Thus, the personal decision of millions was reached — to get involved and be a factor in the process to restore democracy.

For whatever use Gonzalez serves to Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), his developing reputation as "Injustice Secretary" is an open invitation for revolt. It will be worth Malacanang's money to commission Mahar Mangahas to include this question in the next SWS survey: How do you perceive Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez? Do you think he is a Justice Secretary or an Injustice Secretary?

I am willing to place a wager with anyone in GMA's cabal that the "Injustice Secretary" perception will be more numerous. Let's make it a productive wager. The loser pays for the cost of a Gawad Kalinga house.

Now to compliment Gonzalez in the executive branch of government, there is the now fondly referred to "Senator from Maguindanao" — Migz Zubiri — clamoring for the restoration of the death penalty.

What's wrong with restoring the death penalty? Again, everything is wrong especially when we are talking about a country like ours where the justice system is extremely flawed.

Who isn't aware of how justice here works for the rich and against the poor, for the politically well-connected and against whoever is without a political titan as protector? Who in his right mind would prescribe the death penalty under such feudal conditions we live in?

We can agree to shoot-to-kill orders for crime suspects and to the restoration of the death penalty IF these measures will include promoters of injustice and election cheaters.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

MY SHORT ESSAY ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES

Jaeyoun Kim


Filipinos always complain about the corruption in the Philippines . Do you really think the corruption is the problem of the Philippines? I do not think so. I strongly believe that the problem is the lack of love for the Philippines.

Let me first talk about my country, Korea. It might help you understand my point. After the Korean War, South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world. Koreans had to start from scratch because entire country was destroyed after the Korean War, and we had nonatural resources.

Koreans used to talk about the Philippines, for Filipinos were very rich in Asia. We envy Filipinos. Koreans really wanted to be well off like Filipinos. Many Koreans died of famine. My father & brother also died because of famine. Korean government was very corrupt and is still very corrupt beyond your imagination, but Korea was able to develop dramatically because Koreans really did their best for the common good with their heart burning with patriotism.

Koreans did not work just for themselves but also for their neighborhood and country. Education inspired young men with the spirit of patriotism.

40 years ago, President Park took over the government to reform Korea. He tried to borrow money from other countries, but it was not possible to get a loan and attract a foreign investment because the economic situation of South Korea was so bad. Korea had only three factories. So, President Park sent many mine workers and nurses to Germany so that they could send money to Korea to build a factory. They had to go through horrible experience.

In 1964, President Park visited Germany to borrow money. Hundred of Koreans in Germany came to the airport to welcome him and cried there as they saw the President Park. They asked to him, 'President, when can we be well off?' That was the only question everyone asked to him. President Park cried with them and promised them that Korea would be well off if everyone works hard for Korea, and the President of Germany got the strong impression on them and lent money to Korea. So, President Park was able to build many factories in Korea.

He always asked Koreans to love their country from their heart. Many Korean scientists and engineers in the USA came back to Korea to help developing country because they wanted their country to be well off. Though they received very small salary, they did their best for Korea. They always hoped that their children would live in well off country.

My parents always brought me to the places where poor and physically handicapped people live. They wanted me to understand their life and help them. I also worked for Catholic Church when I was in the army. The only thing I learned from Catholic Church was that we have to love our neighborhood. And, I have loved my neighborhood. Have you cried for the Philippines?

I have cried for my country several times. I also cried for the Philippines because of so many poor people. I have been to the New Bilibid prison. What made me sad in the prison were the prisoners who do not have any love for their country. They go to mass and work for Church. They pray everyday. However, they do not love the Philippines . I talked to two prisoners at the maximum-security compound, and both of them said that they would leave the Philippines right after they are released from the prison. They said that they would start a new life in other countries and never come back to the Philippines.

Many Koreans have a great love for Korea so that we were able to share our wealth with our neighborhood. The owners of factory and company were distributed their profit to their employees fairly so that employees could buy what they needed and saved money for the future and their children.

When I was in Korea, I had a very strong faith and wanted to be a priest. However, when I came to the Philippines, I completely lost my faith. I was very confused when I saw many unbelievable situations in the Philippines. Street kids always make me sad, and I see them everyday. The Philippines is the only Catholic country in Asia, but there are too many poor people here. People go to church every Sunday to pray, but nothing has been changed.

My parents came to the Philippines last week and saw this situation. They told me that Korea was much poorer than the present Philippines when they were young. They are so sorry that there are so many beggars and street kids.

When we went to Pasangjan, I forced my parents to take a boat because it would fun. However, they were not happy after taking a boat. They said that they would not take the boat again because they were sympathized the boatmen, for the boatmen were very poor and had a small frame. Most of people just took a boat and enjoyed it. But, my parents did not enjoy it because of love for them.

My mother who has been working for Catholic Church since I was very young told me that if we just go to mass without changing ourselves, we are not Catholic indeed. Faith should come with action.

She added that I have to love Filipinos and do good things for them because all of us are same and have received a great love from God. I want Filipinos to love their neighborhood and country as much as they love God so that the Philippines will be well off.

I am sure that love is the keyword, which Filipinos should remember. We cannot change the sinful structure at once. It should start from person. Love must start in everybody, in a small scale and have to grow. A lot of things happen if we open up to love. Let's put away our prejudices and look at our worries with our new eyes.

I discover that every person is worthy to be loved. Trust in love, because it makes changes possible. Love changes you and me. It changes people, contexts and relationships. It changes the world. Please love your neighborhood and country.

Jesus Christ said that whatever we do to others we do to Him. In the Philippines , there is God for people who are abused and abandoned. There is God who is crying for love.

If you have a child, teach them how to love the Philippines. Teach them why they have to love their neighborhood and country. You already know that God also will be very happy if you love others. That's all I really want to ask you Filipinos.

From a forwarded e-mail

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Arroyo-Lopez War

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

The Arroyo-Lopez War

Finally, after almost 80 years of a family feud between two wealthy clans, it seems that the final battle has started. On one side of the conflict is the Arroyo clan, wealthy merchants of Chinese origin who gained political supremacy in the early 1900's when their patriarch, Jose Arroyo, was elected Senator in 1919. With the help of his close friend -- then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon -- his younger brother, Dr. Mariano Arroyo, was appointed provincial governor in 1928.

On the other side is the Lopez clan headed by Eugenio "Ening" Lopez who used his newspaper El Tiempo -- founded in 1901 by his father, Benito Lopez, the first governor of Iloilo in 1906 who was assassinated two years later by a rival political faction -- to expose the jueteng ring that Governor Arroyo and a Chinese trader named Sualoy started in Iloilo. El Tiempo's incessant exposure of the jueteng operations finally paid off. Sualoy was charged, found guilty, imprisoned, and then deported to China.

That was the beginning of the Arroyo-Lopez War. As a result of the crackdown on the jueteng operations, Governor Arroyo filed a libel suit against Lopez and El Tiempo. Lopez retaliated by filing administrative charges against Governor Arroyo. Governor General Davis was also informed about the case and he sent Judge Francisco Moran to investigate. Moran discovered that Governor Arroyo was involved in the jueting operations including a gambling den. Consequently, Moran dismissed the libel charges against Lopez and his newspaper. In 1930, the administrative trial found Governor Arroyo guilty of corruption and Governor General Davis relieved him from his post.

Humiliated, Jesusa Lacson Arroyo, the widow of Senator Arroyo who died in 1927, picked up the pieces and moved her entire family to Negros Occidental. One of her sons, Ignacio, would become the father of the current First Gentleman, Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo.

Meanwhile, Eugenio Lopez progressed in business and his brother Fernando entered into politics and was elected three times as Vice-President. Don Eugenio established the first airline in Asia and expanded his newspaper business. In 1962, he purchased Meralco, the country's largest electric company. His son, Eugenio "Geny" Lopez, Jr., built ABS-CBN to become the country's undisputed leader in broadcasting.

In 1972, the Lopez family suffered under the martial law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Geny Lopez was implicated in an alleged plot to kill Marcos. Under obscure circumstances, Lopez escaped from detention and slipped out of the country. Marcos' brother-in-law, Kokoy Romualdez, then took over Meralco. When Marcos was ousted in 1986, Cory Aquino returned Meralco and ABS-CBN to the Lopezes.

For more than 20 years, the Lopezes had undisputed control of Meralco. They also diversified into new business ventures. Over the past several years, ABS-CBN became a pain in the neck of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Their coverage of the various scandals involving the First Couple have contributed to the Arroyos' negative public image.

It is no wonder then that Meralco is now in the crosshairs of President Arroyo's sight. The joint congressional hearing chaired by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Congressman Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo has stirred into life a family feud that has been dormant for 78 years. There were speculations that the real reason for the Meralco "witch hunt" is for the government to take over Meralco and break it up into smaller companies. If this would happen, guess who would take over a divested Meralco?

Let's look at someone who has been at the forefront of the battle: Winston Garcia, President and General Manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). His aggressive and arrogant demeanor in the Meralco board room -- he is a recent member on the Meralco board representing GSIS which has 23% ownership of Meralco -- has made a lot of people wonder what his ulterior motive is. Many believe that Garcia is on the board to wage a "proxy war" for the Arroyos.

For one thing, Garcia is not the typical government bureaucrat. He is a scion of a powerful political dynasty in Cebu with close ties to Malacanang. His father, Pablo, is a congressman and concurrently Deputy Speaker of the House. His brother, Pablo John, is also a congressman. And his sister, Gwendolyn, is the current Governor of Cebu. She announced recently that she is a candidate for Vice President in 2010.

In addition, the Garcia family has large stockholdings in the Aboitiz-owned Visayan Electric Company (VECO), the country's second largest private electric utility. The corporate officers include three Garcias, to wit: Dennis A. Garcia, President and General Manager; Ramontito A. Garcia, Treasurer; and Jess Anthony N. Garcia, legal counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary. Of the 11 members of the VECO Board of Directors, five are Garcias, namely, Dennis N.A. Garcia, Ramontito E. Garcia, Gil A. Garcia II, Charles Sylvester A. Garcia, and Antonio V. A. Garcia de Escaño. The Aboitizes, have five members of the Board. Recently, a news account reported that Winston Garcia is serving VECO as a lawyer on retainer. The question is: What would VECO -- and Winston Garcia -- stand to gain if Meralco were broken up into smaller companies?

It is also a common knowledge that the Aboitizes are business cronies of the First Couple. With the Lopezes trying hard to defend themselves from a pack of wolves, it would probably take a miracle to survive these attacks. But miracles do happen and they happen when it's least expected to happen. And the last and final question is: What would the Arroyos stand to gain when Meralco breaks up?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

THANKS TO MY E-MAIL BUDDIES

I just want to thank all of you for your educational emails over the past year.

Thanks to you, I no longer open a public bathroom door without using a paper towel.

I can't use the remote in a hotel room because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the adult movie channels.

I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I can't enjoy lemon slices in my tea or on my seafood anymore because lemon peels have been found to contain all kinds of nasty germs including feces.

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pass-time while driving alone is picking your nose (Although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot)

Eating a Little Debbie sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's purse for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom. Yuck!

I must send my special thanks to who ever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains, and rust from cars, too.

I also no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

I no longer can buy gasoline without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer use Saran wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face...disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or FedEx since they may be actually from Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan.

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

And thanks to your great advice, I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

I can no longer drive my car because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 PM this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician...

Have a wonderful day...

Oh, by the way.....

A former Nazi scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late!!!

Good bye,

Your anonymous friend

Monday, May 19, 2008

GLO Jokes

WORLD DISASTERS

I believe that we are now living in the last days before the return of Jesus Christ. Disasters are happening all over the world.

Description of the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, "For whom they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape."

As we look at the world events;

Indonesia had tsunami or tidal waves which quarter million people died.

Myanmar have cyclone, 30,000 estimated died.

In China they have earthquake, estimated 25,000 died.

Iraq they have the George Bush resulted to the death of about 500,000 people.

But the worst of all disaster is in Philippines, they got GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, for eight disastrous years and still going on.

- Robert Anthony


GMA went to Heaven

GMA dies and goes to Heaven where she meets St. Peter. She notices that there are clocks everywhere. She asks St. Peter why are there so many clocks here. St. Peter tells her that each clock represents a person on earth and that every time a person tells a lie, the clock ticks off one second.

St. Peter explains that the one clock has never moved because it belonged to mother Theresa and she never told a lie her whole life. The next clock belonged to Abraham Lincoln and since he only told two lies his whole life, only two seconds had clicked.

GMA asks, "Where is FG Mike Arroyo's clock?" St. Peter says, "Mike's clock is upstairs in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."

"But where is mine?" asked Gloria. St. Peter replied, "Oh, it was borrowed by Boeing for study because it outperformed all its jet engines."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lopez, Pidal, Rolex

LITO BANAYO
MALAYA Column for 17 May 2008

Lopez, Pidal, Rolex


Their paths will always cross. Across generations of their family even.


Mariano Arroyo used to be the appointed governor of Iloilo back when we were yet to be a commonwealth of the Americans. Together with a Chinese rice trader named Sualoy, he introduced jueteng into his province. And what a hit it made with the timawas who bet daily on the numbers game. Such that the illegal numbers racket hit the pages of a local newspaper published by Benito Lopez, who turned it into a crusade.

In time, Benito Lopez got the government in Manila, through Manuel Luis Quezon, to dispatch a Negrense lawyer named Francisco Moran to investigate. His findings eventually caused the ouster of Mariano Arroyo as governor. Sualoy was thrown out of the country, back to Amoy, now Xiamen in China's southeast. Eventually, Moran was to become a distinguished Supreme Court justice.

Mariano's family was in shock at the disgrace that befell them. In time, the Arroyos left Iloilo and transferred to Negros, where they settled in their large haciendas. They were never successful in politics since. Meanwhile, Benito's sons carved out careers in business and politics. Fernando became a senator of the realm, later, vice-president of the Republic. Eugenio founded a business empire that was among the country's largest, and he named it in honor of father Benito and mother Presentacion---Benpres Corporation. When the Americans who owned the largest electric power company in the country decided to sell, it was Eugenio who bought what has since become the Lopez crown jewel --- Meralco.

But though unsuccessful in politics, the Arroyos were successful in marriage. One of them, Jose Ignacio, married an heiress to the Tuasons in her second marriage. Lourdes Tuason married Jose Arroyo, and the union begot Jose Miguel (Mike), Maria Lourdes and Jose Ignacio (Ignacito). Jose Miguel married the daughter of Diosdado P. Macapagal, a wisp of a lady called Gloria. On January 20, 2001, after a phenomenal rise in politics from senator to vice-president in all of six short years, Gloria was proclaimed president of the land on the eighth year of her foray into electoral politics. Phenomenal, even if the method was controversial. Thus changed the fortune of the Arroyo family.

Sometime in the year 2003, one Panfilo M. Lacson, a former no-nonsense chief of the Philippine National Police, forced by political circumstances to become senator of the realm in the summer of 2001, exposed a not-so-intricate money-laundering operation headquartered at the LTA Building in Perea St. in Makati. LTA stands for Lourdes Tuason Arroyo, the mother of the First Gentleman, who as of today, owns two floors of said building, the rest having been sold, condominium style, to several buyers.

Lacson exposed the financial undertakings of one Jose Pidal. He had with him copies of cancelled checks paid to Jose Pidal, even statements of account from several financial houses addressed to Pidal. As the name sounded unfamiliar, Lacson's source, a former utility and all around gofer for Jose Miguel Arroyo y Tuason called Udong Mahusay, guessed that it was perhaps Lapid spelled vowel-backwards. The governor of Pampanga then was a Lapid, and an ally of the first family. But then so is the country's top purveyor of cholesterol, Lapid's, which just might have been Pidal's favorite snack. Mystery of alias notwithstanding, Lacson went to town, through a power-point presented privilege speech which showed an uncanny sameness in the strokes, loops and penmanship of Jose Pidal and Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Malacanang was dumbfounded. A congressman from the fifth district of Iloilo, one Rolex Suplico, called Lacson to say the name Pidal rang a bell, even if no one in Manila knew anybody else with that surname. But while Rolex scouted around Molo and Jaro and the city, ABS-CBN beat him to the draw. They sent a crew to Iloilo, and established by tombstone and historical marker, what ancestry the Pidal surname had. It turns out that Jose Miguel Arroyo's paternal grandfather was the daughter of a Pidal, the same mother of Don Mariano Arroyo, the pre-commonwealth governor who introduced jueteng to the fair province of Iloilo. Thus did the paradox of Pidal unravel.

More than a week after, an obscure Jose Ignacio Arroyo Jr., gentleman-farmer from Negros Occidental, appeared before ABS-CBN rival, GMA 7, to claim that he was "Jose Pidal". Later it was to be discovered that this guy with the self-proclaimed Pidal alias paid income taxes of ten thousand pesos or thereabouts, during the years that his bank account was bulging with tens and hundreds of millions. Through invocations of his "right to privacy", the Pidals got a temporary "clean bill of health" from the chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon, one Joker Arroyo of Ba-ao in Camarines, neither Molo in Iloilo nor Boao in Hainan. (These coincidences leave you breathless). Ignacito, a.k.a. Jose Pidal even had his clumsy John Hancock's certified by a Keystone Kop called Mosqueda, another (surprise!) Ilonggo later linked to jueteng (another surprise!), and now recently-elected mayor of an unfortunate town in the province. Ignacito meanwhile, now called Iggy, has since become a congressman of neighboring Negros.

ABS-CBN is controlled by the Lopez family, and is headed by the great-grandson of Benito Lopez, the newspaper publisher whose expose destroyed Mariano Arroyo's racket and with it, his political fortunes. He is the son of Eugenio (Geny) Lopez Jr., son of Eugenio Sr., the original buyer of Meralco, now headed by his son Manolo. Benpres Holdings, the mother corporation, is headed by another son of Eugenio Sr., Oscar Lopez.

How history turns full circle. The president of the land, through surrogates in GSIS and in Congress, has unleashed the furies against the Lopez family, through their most vulnerable possession, Meralco, which buys power generated both by government and its sister firms which are "independent" power producers, transmitted to them by a government-owned Transco that has been "privatized" recently and awaiting franchise from Congress, which they in turn distribute to consumers like you and me.

Now you and I have been complaining about high power rates, and Mrs. Arroyo seeks to use our vexation and turn the same into unbridled anger against the Lopez family. Is this the revenge of the Arroyos?

So where does Rolex Suplico fit in to merit being in our marquee, along with the fabulous Lopezes and the inglorious Pidals?

Well, Rolex who is now the vice-governor of Iloilo after three full terms as congressman of the fifth district, has of late been in the public eye because he filed a case with the Supreme Court in August last year, against a contract entered into between the government of Mrs. Arroyo and one ZTE Corporation of Shenzhen in China's southeast. He has since been a resource person in the celebrated Senate-produced telenovela, co-starred with Joey de Venecia in Part One, and appeared in occasional cameo roles in the more explosive Part Two, this time starring Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr.

The villains in this high-rating telenovela, until power interruptions engineered by nine justices of the Supreme Court cut it off the air, include another disgraced official, Benjamin Abalos of Mandaloyon, formerly chair of the notorious Commission on Elections, which under his watch has since become the Commission for Electoral Cheating, a prevaricating bureaucrat called Lorenzo Formoso, a clueless cabinet member called Leandro Mendoza, and even a nervous coward called Romulo Neri. But all signs point to some people higher up in the ladder. Everybody knows who they are, but as Mikey Arroyo, the Pidal-Arroyo great grandson who co-chairs Powercom with an Ilongga kasimanwa (na pud?) always chimes in, guilt requires "proof beyond reasonable doubt".

Of late, Rolex has produced a certain "Alex" who apparently took photographs of an Arroyo sojourn to Shenzhen in the fall of 2006, where Mikey's mama y papa played golf with ZTE officials. The telenovela, off the air for two months now, might get a new season, thanks to Rolex.

Whereupon the Arroyos and their hacks called Rolex a Lopez footstool, trotted out in the nick of time to discombobulate their full-court press against the Lopezes of Meralco. One of these hacks is a fellow from Iloilo (again?) called Raul Gonzalez, who accuses Rolex precisely as such.

But Rolex is undaunted. He will not allow the public to forget the excessive and unconscionable greed that surrounds the NBN-ZTE deal, just like Benito Lopez in his time did not give Mariano Arroyo a moment of peace in small-town (then) Iloilo. "The issue of power rates is valid, but equally valid is the issue of corruption in the highest of places", Rolex told me over the phone. This "footstool" wants to put his foot firmly down against the corrupt.

I could have entitled this article "Iloilo". Or even "Batchoy", one of my favorite comfort foods, where the Ilonggos of Molo mix generous slivers of good lean meat with "bitter" slices of pork liver on top of noodles, ladle slowly simmered and truly savory broth, and then top the concoction off with cholesterol-laden bits of pork chicharon (May tindahan na ba ang Lapid sa Iloilo, o Pidal ?).

Who among the characters are like "good lean meat", and who the "bitter" liver, who the chicharon? Well, tell you what. We are like the noodles, ang dami-dami natin, niluluto sa sariling katas. And Rolex? Paminta, ground pepper, without which the batchoy will not taste as good.

(banayo_at@yahoo.com)

Friday, May 16, 2008

All Europe Died in Auschwitz

“I walk down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth. Europe died in Auschwitz. We killed 6 million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because produced great and wonderful people who changed the world. The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life, science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned. And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to the 20 million Muslims who brought us stupidity & ignorance, religious extremism & lack of tolerance, crime & poverty, and unwillingness to work and support their families with pride. They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth & crime. Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder & destruction of their naïve hosts. And then in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill and intelligence for backwardness & superstition… What a terrible mistake was made by a miserable Europe!”

Sebastian Villar Rodriguez in “All Europe Died in Auschwitz,” [in Spanish], 5-22-07)

Elly Pamatong: The Man Who Wanted to be President of the Philippines

Dear Folks,

f there's one who has entertained Filipinos in so many ways, Elly Pamatong is the man. Filipino-Americans would remember him when he filed a claim with the U.S. government that Filipinos born before July 4, 1946 were American citizens. Although his claim was ignored by the U.S. government, a lot of Filipinos in the U.S. including TNTs (Tago Ng Tago) used his claim -- known as the Elly Pamatong doctrine -- in applying for U.S. citizenship.

Elly also published a Fil-Am newspaper and used it -- unsuccessfully -- in his "war" against an American bishop in Vallejo, California. I remember when Elly called me sometime in 1989 and demanded that I give him a copy of a list of the Filipino-Americans in my locality. I was then the President of the local Fil-Am community and was also the Editor of a community newsletter. When I told him that the list was personal and confidential, he threatened me with a lawsuit. I told him that he can sue me but I would never give him the list. I never heard from him again.

His stay in the U.S. was short-lived.

Perry


He will never be president—but Elly provides us perennial comic relief

By PURPLE ROMERO
abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

He has done outrageous things—from suing Pope Benedict to scattering spikes on EDSA in 2004, which damaged a hundred cars, after he was declared a nuisance candidate in the presidential elections.

What is Elly Velez Pamatong now up to?

He is now up in arms against the highest court of the land. Recently, he filed impeachment complaints against the Supreme Court justices for mistakenly putting Chavez as his middle name and not Velez, and for allegedly restricting free access to courts with expensive legal fees. He also hit at the 'Supreme Curse' for allegedly taking sides during the impeachment of now deposed President Joseph Estrada.

The 64-year old Pamatong, with exploits ala-Forrest Gump's and missions ala-Don Quixote, could have been another cutout character from a bestselling fiction novel, but he is of bone and flesh, a lawyer even, who graduated from the University of the Philippines and worked as legal counsel for Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari and the communist rebel group New People's Army.

In a telephone interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, which caused him to 'recharge his two cellphones,' he told us his life, loves (he was married thrice), the different hats he wore, and his quest to make the Philippines a better country.

Not a revolution

"Do you want me to burn Manila?" he told us when asked why he filed a number of complaints against political and religious heavyweights. "I filed these complaints because that is the only thing left for an ordinary citizen to do, to cleanse the country of corruption. I'd rather file and file these complaints than start my own revolution," he said.

Pamatong first filed a complaint with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in 2004, which sought the disbarment of Commission on Elections commissioners Resurrección Borra and Rufino Javier, former commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and the late law department chief Alioden Dalaig.

While reports said that he filed the complaint because they allowed 'incompetent' contenders such as Vice President Noli de Castro and showbiz personalities such as Senators Lito Lapid, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. and former legislators Robert Jaworski, Loren Legarda and Vicente Sotto 3rd to run for office, Pamatong said that he pursued their disbarment because Dalaig, who was gunned down in November 10,2005, allegedly asked P10 million from him in return for recognizing his candidacy.

Politicians and popes

He also filed an impeachment complaint against de Castro in the same year, which was junked by the House of Representatives in 2005. "It was just stupid. De Castro should never have run for something which he doesn't know a thing about. I mean, he's a broadcaster, not a politician. Also, among the 3,000 candidates, he's the only one who did not get a cedula," he explained.

Last April 2007, he sought the disbarment of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez for his remarks against slain US Peace Corp volunteer Julia Campbell. Gonzalez called Campbell 'careless' for hiking in Batad, Ifugao alone, where she was found dead early in April last year.

Pamatong also filed the complaint against Gonzalez for promising to give P10,000 to each barangay chairman who could ensure a 12-0 victory for administration force TEAM Unity in the province of Iloilo in the 2007 elections.

In May 2007, he sought the disqualification of Fr. Ed Panlilio from the gubernatorial race, where Pamatong was also one of the candidates. He said that Panlilio violated the canon of universal law.

A former Protestant who converted to Catholicism, he also sued Joseph Alois Ratzinger a.k.a Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales last April 29 for human rights violations and alleged corruption. "Every town has bell towers and loudspeakers. If you are a protestant, you would be bombarded with their disoriented prayers and mantras early in the morning. Isn't that human rights violation? I believe in freedom of expression in religion, but there should be limits," he said.

'Perfect crime'

Pamatong, third among a family of nine, is a son of the Second World War. Born in the foothills of Mt. Malindang on July 10, 1943, he spent his childhood near the Putongan River Valley in Misamis Occidental, Mindanao.

In the biography he sent us, Pamatong recalled being a naughty boy, adept at crafting tricks and weaving stories. One time, he was whipped by his father with his leather belt for peeping at the 'white legs and underwear' of his teacher. As payback, he made a trap for his teacher by digging a hole and covering it with dry leaves. His teacher fell and almost broke her 'beautiful legs,' but as Pamatong wrote, 'the crime was perfect.'

He was later sent to Siliman University where he earned his bachelor in arts, and then to the UP College of Law, where he had an epiphany, he said, and thought he could be the next president of the Philippines.

"Ever since I stepped inside the halls of UP, I dreamt of becoming the president of our country," he said.

However, that dream never came true after he was declared a nuisance candidate in 2004. "I was the most qualified person for the presidency then. I was not a dropout. Look at the other candidates – Lacson is just a police, and there was Eddie Gil, who may have mental problems," he said.

Pamatong tried again his luck at public office last year, where he fielded himself against political stalwarts former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid, senior board member Lilia "Baby" Pineda and heavy favorite Fr. Ed Panlilio for the gubernatorial seat in Pampanga. He lost with only 600 votes.

We never know what's next in Pamatong's bag of antics. For now, he's providing the Supreme Court comic relief.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Arrest warrant issued for Catholic archbishop

Dear Folks,

Here goes Gloria Arroyo again with her Glo-jokes. It's got to be a joke. Imagine, her government suing Archbishop Oscar Cruz for libel on behalf of 19 government women employees who entertained FG Mike Arroyo at his birthday party in 2004. According to the "lawshit," the archbishop called the women "GRO," the acronym for "Guest Relations Officer." In the good old days, they're called hostesses. But I guess they want to gain some "respectability" by using a professional sounding title. But like they said, "a rose by any other name is still a rose." The bottom line is: what did these women do to entertain Mike and his birthday guests? Perhaps the judge should subpoena Mike to testify how the GROs entertained him and his guests?

In my opinion, the "lawshit" against Archbishop Cruz is in retaliation to Archbishop Cruz's statement that he will not give Holy Communion to Gloria and members of her family unless she connfesses all her sins and returns all the money she stole from the people. Some people were saying that what the archbishop did was tantamount to an excommunication. Ughh! That hurts. No wonder Gloria is furious.

Perry



Arrest warrant issued for Catholic archbishop

By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
Published: May 14, 2008, 00:41

Manila: A Manila court has issued an arrest warrant against a controversial Catholic archbishop who was charged with libel for his derogatory statements against female government officials who had attended a birthday party for President Gloria Arroyo's husband in 2004.

Judge Antonio Rosales of the Manila Regional Trial Court issued the arrest warrant against Archbishop Oscar Cruz, but recommended a bail for 10,000 peso (Dh909).

Cruz, a vocal critic of Arroyo, said he was being persecuted by Malacanang, the presidential palace.

"The justice department wants to silence me," Cruz said in a TV interview.

The case stemmed from an article which Cruz had written and was printed in several newspapers on June 28, 2004.

He claimed that the women workers of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) were like "pitiful GROs" (guest relations officers, a euphemism for cheap entertainers) during the birthday party of Jose Miguel Arroyo in 2004.

"I was defending the ladies. They are being exploited by Pagcor. I even called other women's organisation to go to their assistance. The article was not against them [Pagcor ladies]," Cruz said.

Biggest defence

"I did not write down their names," said Cruz, adding this was his biggest defence in the case against him. It was Pagcor which listed down the names of the women who attended the party four years ago.

Earlier, a Manila prosecutor had junked the complaint filed by Pagcor's lady marketing assistants.

But the complainants filed a motion before the justice department, prompting Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to order the filing of libel charges against Cruz last April.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Federal Role Models?

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on May 07, 2008
For the Standard Today,
May 08 issue


As promised, I will discuss the reaction of Manuel Lino G. Faelnar to my previous article Federal Fol-de-Rol. He at least based his argument on verifiable historical evidence, unlike the five or six others who gave vent to purely emotional and anecdotal guesswork, without any basis in economics, demography, history, geography, political science, ethno-linguistics or just plain common sense.

Reader Faelnar identifies himself as the director of DILA Philippines Foundation Inc. and the director of Lubas sa Dagang Bisaya Inc. DILA stands for Defenders of the Indigenous Languages of the Archipelago. Clever acronym, that.

He started out his reaction as follows: "We believe you would have been better served had you searched in Google or Wikipedia before you wrote your article. You wrote:

'Can Pimentel and his 11 apostles cite even one example in the last 60
years of a country that switched from a unitary state to a federal
union, or from a federal union to a unitary state? Or from the
presidential to the parliamentary system, or from parliamentary to
presidential? And suddenly achieved elusive prosperity as a result of
that switch? They can't because there isn't any..'


"Mr. Abaya, you are dead wrong. Here are a few examples of countries, most notably Belgium, UK and Spain, which have become federal since 1960:" And he went on to list and encapsulate the recent political history of those 12 countries. (I understand from another pro-federal reader that Faelnar was hired by Sen. Pimentel to reply to me.)

As his reaction email rambles on for four pages, it is too long to reprint here in its entirety. But, without researching into Google or Wikipedia, I can scratch away most of those 12 countries from the list, especially Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Please note that I challenged Sen. Pimentel and his 11 (is it now 16?) apostles in the Senate to "cite even one example in the last 60 years of a country that switched from a unitary state to a federal union…….and suddenly achieved elusive prosperity as a result of that switch…." It is important to remember this point because the rationale for Sen. Pimentel's federalism is "to spur economic growth."

Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain do not fall within those parameters because they achieved prosperity long before they federated (or virtually federated, in the case of the UK, which does not have a formal Constitution),.(or "fiscally federated" in the case of Spain, which basically remains a unitary state).

These three countries became prosperous (or "spurred their economic growth") as a result of their early membership in the European Economic Community, which is now known as the European Union, which expanded the markets for their export products and services. They did not become prosperous just because they federated or virtually federated or fiscally federated...

Additionally, Belgium is in limbo as a federal union. Because of the historical enmity between the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemings, Belgium did not have a government for six months in 2007 and may actually split into separate countries. This would be similar to the break-up in 1993 of the federated Czechoslovakia (which Faelnar failed to include in his list) into the Czech Republic and Slovakia..

The "fiscal federalism" of South Africa and the actual federalism of Russia also do not count since they were already federal unions before their present incarnations. As every stamp collector knows, South Africa used to be known as the Union of South Africa, which reflected the diverse origins of the early settlers (the Dutch-descended Boers or Afrikaaners), the later arrivals (the British), and the Zulus who migrated in between..

The present Russian Federation (1993) was preceded by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, both of them federal unions, separated by only about 20 months of chaos as Communist deputies in the Duma or Lower House attempted to stage a coup d'etat to recover the state power that they lost in 1991. Additionally, Russia's current prosperity is not due to its being a federal union but to the high world prices of oil and gas.

Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Federated States of Micronesia also do not count since they were federal unions right from the start of their national lives as independent states. They did not begin as unitary states and then shifted to federal unions "to spur economic growth," which is Pimentel's rationale for his proposal and the parameters for my objection..

I was in the UAE in 1995 as guest of the UAE government (as I was in Malaysia in 1992 as guest of the Malaysian government.) The UAE is, of course, fabulously wealthy, but it cannot be a model for this country since that wealth is due solely to oil and gas, which we do not have in similar abundance. Besides, 80% of its population are foreigners, a situation unique to the UAE. And what can we possibly learn from Micronesia, which has a population of only 107,000 at low tide?

So, after removing Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, South Africa, Russia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Federated States of Micronesia from Reader Faelnar's list, what does he have left as role models to entice us with to federalism?

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Nepal and Nigeria.

Would Sen. Pimentel and his 11 (or 16) senator-apostles call for dancing in the streets that we have four such inspiring role models for a shift to federalism?

Even that may be premature. Bosnia and Herzegovina (or B&H) may have been a unitary state (I don't really know) between the end of World War I (which began with an assassination in its capital Sarajevo) and the beginning of World War II.

After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the fabled Communist guerilla leader Josip Broz, more widely known as Marshal Tito, stitched together a federal union called Yugoslavia ('Southern Slavs') made up of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, B&H, Macedonia and Kosovo (as part of Serbia).

But after the death of Tito in 1980, the union began to show cracks and fissures, largely due to differences in religion: Croatia and Slovenia are predominantly Roman Catholic, Serbia and Macedonia are predominantly Eastern Orthodox, Kosovo and B&H are predominantly Muslim.

The simmering three-cornered conflict finally erupted into open civil war in 1992, resulting in the bloodiest genocide in Europe since WWII as the majority Serbs tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the federal union intact.(Faelnar also failed to include this in his list.)

So it can probably be said that Bosnia and Herzegoovina did transit from a unitary state to a federal union, but did it finally achieve prosperity? Even Faelnar says that may happen if and when B&H is accepted into the European Union. Too bad the Philippines has no chance whatsoever of becoming a member of the EU.

(Another federal union that Faelnar did not include in his list – perhaps because it is an economic failure - is Myanmar, which was known as the Union of Burma when it became independent in 1947, and is now the Union of Myanmar, under military rule since 1962.)

According to Faelnar, Ethiopia became a federal union n 1994, but judging from the endless famines that we see on TV, federalism is far from having "spurred economic growth." So is Nigeria, which like Malaysia, has been a federal union since independence and should also be scratched off this list. Despite becoming a major oil producer in this decade., Nigeria has been racked by civil wars, military take-over, mega-corruption, recurring kidnapping of foreigners including Filipinos, and tit-for-tat massacres by Muslims and Christians involving hundreds of victims each time...

The only country in Faelnar's list that could conceivably resemble the Philippines is Nepal, which was a unitary state under a monarchy until 2007, last year, when the monarchy was overthrown and the new Nepal resurrected as a federal union Whether it will enjoy prosperity as a result of that shift is too early to tell.

The only problem is that the monarchy was replaced by the Maoist Party. Here's your last chance, Joma Sison, to push your Maoist Revolution.. *****

Reactions to tonyabaya@gmail.com. Other articles in www.tapatt.org and in acabaya.blogspot,com.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hanjin: Plundering the Environment

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Recently, a series of anomalies concerning Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction, a South Korean company, have dominated the headlines of Manila newspapers. Considering that billions of dollars were involved in these transactions, "transparency" has once again come to the forefront of debate. Like the Chinese contracts -- NBN-ZTE, Cyber Ed, Fuhua, etc. -- which the Arroyo government negotiated secretly, it would seem that the same modus operandi may have been used in negotiating the Hanjin contracts.

The first Hanjin shipyard was built in the Subic Bay Freeport in 2006 at a cost of $1.7 billion. A few weeks ago, it launched the first ship -- a $60 million container ship for a Greek shipping company. With 10,000 Filipinos employed, it's a boon to the sagging Philippine economy.

The second Hanjin shipyard is to be located in the Phividec Industrial Authority in the province of Misamis Oriental in Mindanao. The shipyard -- which is projected to be completed by 2017 -- will cost $2 billion to build and would eventually employ 45,000.

Indeed, everything about the Hanjin shipyards were looking good and there shouldn't be any reason to doubt the economic benefits. But as soon as the ink had dried on the Phividec shipyard contract, things began to go awry. A couple of weeks ago, Mayor Paulino Emano of Tagoloan -- one of two towns straddled by the shipyard -- issued a "stop work" order to the construction project because Hanjin failed to obtain an Environmental Clearance Certificate (ECC). Hanjin officials complained that Emano tried to extort money from them. When confronted with Hanjin's allegation, Emano said that it was Hanjin officials who offered him a bribe in the form of a contract to supply sand and gravel that would amount to P400 million. In my opinion, had Emano tried to extort money, Hanjin would probably have given him what he asked for and get over it. However, had Hanjin offered Emano the P400-million "sweetheart deal," would Emano have refused it? Apparently, either Emano did not accept the bribe offer or Hanjin never made the bribe offer. But one thing is evident, Hanjin did not have an ECC and Emano had the authority to stop the work.

When Arroyo was told of the incident, she was furious and called Emano on the carpet. Emano told Arroyo about the P400-million bribe offer. According to Emano, Arroyo ignored him. Instead she scolded him for issuing a "stop work" order. Emano must have felt like he was being run over by a bulldozer. A few days later, Emano retracted his allegation that Hanjin offered him a bribe.

With the "stop work" order enforced, Hanjin packed up and left. Soon after the incident, environmental and employment issues started to come out in the news. Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez of Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the new shipyard will wipe out three barangays; dislocate more than 6,000 families; damage the environment; and destroy millions of pesos worth of crops and properties. She also reported that Emano and Mayor Juliette Uy of the neighboring town of Villanueva had an agreement with Hanjin that the residents of their towns will be given priority in hiring; however, Emano said that Hanjin failed to honor their agreement. Was Hanjin thinking of bringing its own work force from South Korea?

The biggest environmental impact would have been the destruction of the Tagoloan river. In a sworn affidavit, Emano said that an Hanjin official discussed with him a proposal to divert the flow of water in the river in order for Hanjin to get the aggregates needed for its buildings. The effect would be the destruction of the river. Without an ECC, the whole environment and eco-system would be vulnerable to unchecked and destructive industrial environmental abuses, an issue that has already been raised in the Subic shipyard.

Recently, it was revealed that Hanjin built two high-rise condominiums -- presumably for South Korean management officials -- worth $20 million inside the rainforest reserve. Senator Miguel Zubiri called the condo project in the lush rainforest "a dastardly act in this time of water crisis." Zubiri said that "Olongapo City's old water source -- the Sta. Rita River -- has been destroyed and contaminated by this same type of activities that started with wanton cutting of trees to make way for various constructions. Later on, untreated sewage flows and leaching from garbage dumps poisoned the river."

Another issue that surfaced is a Hanjin subsidiary's contract to build the P3-billion Panguil Bay Bridge that would connect Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental. The project was a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) that requires 60% Filipino ownership. The Hanjin subsidiary has zero Filipino ownership. As to why this violation was not known before the contract was awarded is another example of government inefficiency and corrupt practices. A few days ago, after the anomaly was reported in the news, the Misamis Occidental governor announced that the project is going to be rebid.

Hanjin's troublesome record in the Philippines goes back to 1999 when it was awarded to construct the Davao International Airport for P1.7 billion. It subcontracted a part of the work to Dynamic Planners and Construction Corp for P714.87 million. When Dynamic's work was 94% complete, Hanjin forced out Dynamic and took over the unfinished work and claimed that Dynamic abandoned the work. After a prolonged legal battle that reached the Supreme Court, Dynamic finally won in its claim recently with a Supreme Court ruling for Hanjin to pay P352 million plus interest to Dynamic.

With a dismal record of environmental abuse, broken promises to employ Filipinos in the Phividec project, allegation of bribery, labor disputes in the Subic shipyard, and illegal removal of a subcontractor from a construction project, Hanjin's credibility and honesty become the crux of controversy. What would prevent Hanjin from plundering the environment in the future? Are jobs more important than preserving the environment? In a world beset by global warming and the proliferation of hazardous and toxic materials, preservation of the environment is the Filipinos' legacy to their children. Jobs can be created but plundering the environment would be devastating -- permanently and irreversibly.
(PerryDiaz@gmail.com )

This article is also posted at www.PerryScope.org -- "The globe in perryscope!"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pinoy student wins int'l public speaking contest in London

Sunday, May 11, 2008
Source: www.Philstar.com

Sixteen-year-old Gian Dapul, an incoming senior at the Philippine Science High School, won the English Speaking Union's International Public Speaking Competition held in London last Friday.

He bested 57 other contestants representing 35 countries with his delivery of a five-minute speech on the theme "New Frontiers."

In his speech titled "Fish Mucus and Foot Fungus," Dapul cited recent scientific finds and expressed his desire to help his country by joining the avant-garde army of science researchers discovering new ways to enhance health and extend life spans.

Dapul became the official Philippine representative by winning the local contest for 16- to 19-year-old students held at UP Diliman a few weeks ago.

As in the past several years, it was organized by the English Speaking Union-Philippines chapter currently headed by former Ambassador to the United Kingdom Cesar Bautista, Ateneo's Humanities dean Dr. Marlu Vilches, and UP professor and Philippine STAR columnist Butch Dalisay.

The Philippine STAR Arts & Culture columnist Alfred Yuson chaired the judges' panel composed of ESU-Phil officers and previous Philippine representatives to the competition, including Patricia Evangelista who first brought honor to the country by topping the 2004 edition of the contest.

Dapul's trip to London was sponsored by Pilipinas Shell under its country manager Ed Chua, an ESU-Phil board member, and was facilitated by the British Council Manila.

Gian was named one of 12 finalists after the preliminary heats held at Dartmouth House, ESU International's headquarters.

The finals were in turn conducted at the American Embassy at Grosvenor Square, with Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James Edgardo Espiritu in attendance, together with Loline Reed, a Filipino officer of the Overseas Women's Club who has helped the young Filipino contestants since 2002.

As the very first speaker, Gian led off the highly competitive Heat 1 with 14 other participants from the US, UK, the Netherlands, Australia, India, Hong Kong, Pakistan and China.

In the finals held later in the day, he competed against representatives, mostly college students, from Thailand, Poland, Bulgaria, Argentina, Lebanon, and China. This time he was the last speaker.

Gian reportedly impressed the judges and audience with his relaxed and humorous delivery of a substantive speech with a clear message.

Placing second was a young lady from Thailand who spoke on the need to avoid pre-marital sex, while the third-placer, from Bulgaria, promoted the use of bicycles instead of cars.

Reed recounted that the chairman of the judges for the finals, Peter Kyle, the chief executive of the Shakespeare Globe Trust, acknowledged that Gian "impressed everyone with his speech, which from the start got the audience's attention."

The other judges were Dame Mary Richardson DBE, who set up the HSBC Global Education Trust, and Tony Byrne, special adviser to major cultural organizations in the UK.

Reed added: "Not only did Gian speak very well, but his replies to questions from the floor were succinct and quite scholarly. One question asked of him was, 'What does he think of the ethics of stem cell research?' He obviously knew what to say, which should make his school proud, as he evidently knows his Science subjects, indeed!"

In November, Gian will be presented with a certificate at the ESU Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace by His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Most likely, the Queen herself will be present as well, since the English Speaking Union marks its 90th anniversary this year.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Corruptionary will make you laugh till it hurts

"Corruptionary: Natatanging diksyonaryo ng mga salitang korapsyon"
Edited by Bonifacio T. Ilagan
Published by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance
207 pages


A book review by RAMIL DIGAL GULLE
abs-cbnNEWS.com

If corruption is the enemy, then how do we fight it? For the guys at the CenPEG or Center for People Empowerment in Governance, the first step is to know your enemy. And to arm us with this knowledge, they published the "Corruptionary", a 207-page volume of terms that all refer to the many interesting ways that the government and the bureaucracy cheat and steal from us.

The Corruptionary compiles hundreds of terms that refer to corrupt acts done by--well, everyone, it seems, from lowly government employees to the highest officials of the land.

The terms show a mixture of humor, disgust and anger toward corrupt persons and their acts. Many, if not most of the terms, reflect the Pinoy talent for puns and a hilarious dig at the corrupt official/s.

Below is a sampling of those terms and their meanings:

Hidden budget

– a noun referring to a budget allocation that is not specified and made not to be so obvious. As a result, this allocation could easily be pocketed.

Drakula

– named after the classic novel, this noun refers to a corrupt official who is able to siphon off public funds for his own personal gain.

Dorobo

– from the Japanese word that means "thief"; this adjective refers to any item that was previously stolen, but was stolen a second time by someone else.

Doktor

– nothing medical or healing about this. This refers to a person who is an expert at any or all of the following: 1) making fake documents; 2) a fixer who can get a procedure speeded up or approved in exchange for money; or 3) as a verb, "dinoktor", to mean manipulating a process for illegal ends.

"Horrorable"

"Horrorable" is a noun that refers to a corrupt judge who should have been more honorable in his conduct. Isn't that right, Your, er, Your Horror?

"Department Store of Justice"

Some of these terms are specific to the government agency involved in a particular corrupt act. For example, there's the noun "Department Store of Justice."
This term, according to the Corruptionary, arose from the habit of some Department of Justice employees to go malling—at the nearby Robinson's Place in Ermita, Manila—even during officer hours. The Corruptionary gives samples of dialogue to show how this and other terms are used:

Opisyal 1: Myka, nakita mo ba si Diña? May ipapagawa akong ilang dokumento.

Myka: Sir, pumunta po yata sa Department Store of Justice.

Opisyal 1: Ganun ba? Sayang, di ko alam! Me ipapabili pa naman ako.

Translation:

Official: Myka, have you seen Diña? I need her to process some documents.

Myka: Sir, I think she went to the Deparment Store of Justice.

Official: Really? Too bad, I didn't know! I would have asked her to buy something for me.


"Daya Time Record"

Then there's the corrupt version of the government Day Time Record. Since some government employees have found a way to cheat on the number of hours they actually worked in a day, they are said to be submitting a "Daya Time Record"--a doctored record intended to help them get maximum wages for minimum hours spent at work. "Daya" is the Filipino word for "cheating" or "cheat".

"Bendisyon"

Other terms reflect our Catholic upbringing. "Bendisyon" in the Corruptionary refers not to any holy benediction or blessing but means the approval of a corrupt high official for something illegal to be done.
For example:

"Juana: Uy, di ba bawal yan? First come, first served, dib a?

Petra: Hehehe. Me bendisyon ito ni Secretary, laban ka? Gagawin ko ba ito kung wala?

Translation:

Juana: Hey, that's forbidden. It should be first come, first served, right?

Petra: This has the "bendisyon" (benediction) of the Secretary. Would I do this without it?

"Bituing May Ningning"

One term was taken from the title of a popular Sharon Cuneta movie during the 1980s. That movie's title, "Butuing Walang Ningning" (star that doesn't shine) has mutated and found its way into the Corruptionary as "Bituing May Ningning" (star that shines).
The noun "Bituing May Ningning" is used by the corrupt to refer to a rich person that has become the mark or target for corruption. Perhaps, that rich person will be asked to pay a bribe, or be forced to participate in a corrupt transaction.

This term is rather creative since it describes the rich target as "shining", perhaps referring to the twinkle of his money or the brightness of his social status.

"For Official's Use Only"

A pun on the sign on the side of government vehicles that says "For Official Use Only". This term refers to vehicles that are government property, purchased and maintained by government money, and whose fuel expenses are paid for by us taxpayers, but are actually being used by a government official as his personal transportation. Some of these "For Official's Use Only" vehicles have even been spotted parked outside girlie bars.

"15/30" or "Republic Act 1530"

Refers to government employees, appointees or officials who only show up for work on the 15th and 30th of the month. They show up to collect their salaries, which they get in full. In other words, they are freeloaders who get paid for doing a lot of nothing.

"Consuholtant"

Here's another interesting term: "Consuholtant" which is a Taglish pantoum of "consultant" and "suhol" (Filipino word for "bribe").
Supposedly, a consuholtant is someone who you consult because he or she is an expert at corrupt transactions.

"ATM Journalism"

Let's not spare the corrupt mediamen. A corrupt journalist who becomes a paid attack dog by a corrupt official is said to have finished a degree in "ATM Journalism". This is because the payments to him or her are deposited in a separate ATM account for easy withdrawal. Another term for a corrupt journalist is "hao siao" which refers to a journalist who otherwise appears credible, competent and very skilled at his job—but is really in the payroll of the corrupt and powerful.
Sadly, the Corruptionary can only grow in the future. Even new terms that arose from the recent NBN-ZTE Broadband Deal fiasco are in the book.

There's "bubukol" (meaning "lump" or "bump"). "Bubukol" refers to an act of padding the expenses for a government contract that has become obvious, so some fine-tuning is needed. This term got into our popular lexicon courtesy of NBN-ZTE whistle-blower Jun Lozada.

Even the now infamous "hamborjer" (a mispronunciation of "burger") made it to the Corruptionary. Every Pinoy now knows that the "borjer" is the hamburger served at Ben's Diner, a restaurant inside the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club where, according to Jun Lozada, corrupt officials meet and scheme.

This hamborjer is a recipe of former Commission of Elections and still Wack-Wack president Benjamin Abalos. He owns Ben's Diner. Abalos himself proudly plugged his "borjer" on national TV, saying it is a burjer so delicious, it is to die for. (He was making a dig a Jun Lozada, who kept going back to Wack-Wack and Ben's Diner despite a threat on his life supposedly issued by Abalos).

Finally, there's the term "Bacteria". In the Corruptionary, the term "bacteria" refers to employees and officials who are incorrigibly engaged in corruption. This term clearly reflects our attitude towards the corrupt as dangerous pathogens that feed on the nation's resources and could become a cause for national sickness.

The Corruptionary shows that corruption in our society, particularly in the government bureaucracy, in business, the workplace and many other settings, has become endemic, and is an actual sub-culture.

Unfortunately, the Corruptionary only names the culprits and the corrupt acts. It's like shining a flashlight on the underside of a rotting tree, where all the worms, fungi and other disgusting vermin live. But how do you eliminate these pests and clean up the festering, putrid structure?

Maybe we need another book for that--perhaps a Corruptopedia? What book will spur Filipinos to decide that they've had enough of corruption?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Instead of Federalism

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on May 05, 2008
For the Standard Today,
May 06 issue


It is unfortunate that Sen. Nene Pimentel chose not to reply to my article Federal Fol-de-Rol (April 28, 2008). As principal author of a Senate resolution calling for convening the Senate and the Lower House into a constituent assembly to convert the country from a unitary state to a federal union before the end of President Arroyo's presidential term in 2010, his refusal to reply to a serious and detailed critique suggests that he does not really know or understand what he is advocating.

My critique of his resolution rests on five principal grounds: a) it is a Trojan Horse to re-introduce a twice-defeated (in 2006-07) maneuver to shift to a parliamentary system, to enable President Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010, as prime minister, similar to the maneuver of Vladimir Putin in Russia;

b) the resolution's stated objective, "to spur economic growth," is a no-brainer since, as I pointed out in my article, the Philippines' failure to develop as fast as its neighbors in the past 50 years can be traced to poor, even stupid economic policies and strategies, not to its being a unitary state;

c) most of the successful countries in our part of the world – Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand – all achieved economic success as unitary states; only one - Malaysia – as a federal union; so there is nothing wrong with being a unitary state as long as the correct economic strategies and policies are pursued; on the other hand, a federal union with wrong economic strategies and policies would stagnate, e.g. autarkic and xenophobic Myanmar, under military rule since 1962.

d) archipelagic countries – Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines – are unitary states also for pragmatic reasons: being made up of islands, they are vulnerable to centrifugal forces that would encourage secession and disunity.

e) I challenged Sen. Pimentel to name even only one example of a country that shifted from unitary to federal – or from federal to unitary – and thus achieved prosperity as a result of that shift. He has not obliged.

There are other reasons for not shifting to federalism, which I will articulate in due time. While most of my readers agreed with me, I will for the moment focus on those who disagreed, who argued from largely emotional reasons, without any basis in economics, history, geography, political science, ethno-linguistics or just plain common sense. These reactions, pro and con, appear in Reactions to Federal Fol-de-Rol.

Such as, for example, the oft repeated lament that Imperial Manila is imposing Tagalog-based Filipino on the rest of the country. This is not a valid argument for federalism. Every country has one or two official languages (Switzerland has three), and dozens, even hundreds, of other languages and dialects outside the capital region.

China, for example has 123 million citizens – 9.4% of the total population – who are not ethnic Han Chinese, who speak their own languages and practice their own religions, but who are required to learn Mandarin in school, as are hundreds of millions of Han Chinese who are native speakers of Hakka, Cantonese, Hainanese, Shanghainese, Fookienese, and other regional languages and dialects.

Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia, is based on the language spoken in Riau in northern Sumatra. But there are millions and tens of millions of Indonesians who are native speakers of Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, Amboinese, etc but who are required to learn Riau-based Bahasa in school.

Even the French spoken in and around Paris is not the same French spoken in the other departements where the natives speak their own dialects: Breton, Norman, Alsacien, Auvergnois, Languedoc, Provencal, Limousin, Corsican, etc. However, they are required to learn the Metropolitan French of Paris in school.

The same is true about Hindi in India, Urdu in Pakistan, Farsi in Iran, even Spanish in Spain, Italian in Italy, German in Germany, etc There is always a dominant language, which becomes the national language for practical reasons, and all other languages and dialects take subsidiary positions.

Tagalog-based Filipino became dominant because of the influence of Tagalog radio programs (especially before the days of television), Tagalog TV programs and Tagalog movies, not because of "Tagalog imperialism." In the 1960s, there was a Cebuano movie industry, but it never acquired a nationwide audience. It simply died away, leaving Tagalog movies dominant by default.

(My siblings and I grew up in a tri-lingual family. Our father [from Laguna] spoke to us in Tagalog, our mother [from Cagayan de Oro City] spoke to us in Cebuano. When we traveled or studied abroad, we wrote to each other in English. I subsequently married my wife, who came from Zamboanga City but who never bothered to speak Chavacano to me or our children. We have no hang-ups about "Tagalog imperialism," even though none us can recall [or care about] the "pure Tagalog" that we learned in high school.)

But I agree that Visayas and Mindanao are under-represented in the highest level of the power structure: the offices of president, vice-president and senator. Of the eleven presidents since Manuel Quezon, only three came from Visayas/Mindanao: Sergio Osmena of Cebu, briefly after the death of Quezon in 1944; Manuel Roxas of Capiz, and Carlos Garcia of Bohol.,

Of the eleven vice-presidents, only five came from Visayas/Mindanao: Osmena, Garcia, Fernando Lopez of Iloilo, Emmanuel Pelaez of Misamis Oriental (an uncle of ours), and Teofisto Guingona of Surigao.

But this can be remedied without going through the bother and expense of switching to a federal union. We would consume billions of pesos to change from a unitary state to a federal union, and additional billions of pesos to maintain that union.

It would mean creating additional layers of trapos and bureaucrats to man state legislatures, state governments and state supreme courts. This would benefit existing political dynasties who would make sure that these positions are filled up by members of their dynasties, thereby strengthening feudalism in this country, similar to the situations in pre-Meiji Japan and pre-Mao China.

In the present situation, these billions of pesos are better spent boosting food production so that we become self-sufficient in food and save millions of Filipinos from involuntary hunger and starvation This is infinitely more important than changing the political system. Which can be discussed later, but AFTER 2010, to prevent the Trojan Horse from sneaking in, with GMA crouching inside, scheming to become prime minister..

AFTER 2010, we should also discuss the election of senators on a regional basis, instead of the present election at large. If we were to assign two or three senatorial seats per region, we would be making sure that EVERY region is adequately and always represented in the Senate.

In the present electoral system for the Senate, Metro Manila, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol are over-represented, Mindanao and Visayas are under-represented, and Bangsa Moro is NOT REPRESENTED AT ALL. This scandalous state of affairs has been going on for decades. Is it any wonder that the Muslims want to secede?.

Of the six or seven readers who disagreed with me, only one, Manuel Lino G. Faelnar, had done any research and based his arguments on empirical, factual grounds. Sen. Pimentel should hire him as researcher. I will respond to him in a future article. *****

Reactions to tonyabaya@gmail.com. Other articles in www.tapatt.org and in acabaya.blogspot.com.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gloria's Disenchanted Kingdom

PerryScope

by Perry Diaz

In my article, "Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom and the De Venecia Code" (August 4, 2006), I said: "In a demonstration of grandiose ebullience and unabashed optimism, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 24 belies the true state of a nation ravaged by political wrangling, corruption, poverty, terrorism, communist insurgency, and Muslim rebellion. To dramatize her grand vision of a progressive country, she sang praises to her own achievements and crystallized a rosy picture of the things to come in the remaining four years of her presidency." What Arroyo had planned to achieve during her tenure was an "Enchanted Kingdom" within 20 years. During the 27th National Conference of Employers two years ago, she told the audience, "Let's stay together. Let's dream together." And dream, they did.

For the past two years, Arroyo's spin masters have been heralding an "economic boom," claiming that the country had never been better in the past 31 years -- which was during the martial law era. However, had Arroyo's men gone further back to the time of the late President Carlos P. Garcia (1957-1961), Arroyo's claim would have been questionable. During Garcia's presidency, the Philippines was second only to Japan in economic terms. Garcia's success was attributed to his nationalistic "Filipino First Policy."

It was during the time of the late President Diosdado Macapagal, Arroyo's father, when his policy of devaluation and decontrol started the economy's downhill slide. As a matter of fact, the Philippines today, notwithstanding Arroyo's proclamation of an "economic boom," is still far behind its Asian neighbors -- China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam -- in economic status.

The 7.3% economic growth last year that Arroyo had been bragging about has suddenly lost its oomph! Not too long ago, Peter Wallace of Standard Time wrote an article, "Time to face the Facts," which debunked Arroyo's economic data. He said, "if you were told that GDP really only grew about 4.8 percent, and that family spending declined, and that there were more people who went hungry during the past three years than in any period during the past ten years, you'd think much differently." Indeed, the people are still suffering from an economic malaise that doesn't seem to go away. The economy has been heading towards a turbulent course, a situation that Arroyo did not seemingly anticipate.

In my article, "Economic Boom or Boo-boo Economics" (November 30, 2007), I said: "With 50% of Filipinos poor -- 40% of whom have experienced hunger -- and with unemployment rate at 7.8%, what we will soon be hearing is the 'astronomic boom' of discontent and the cry of the helpless poor. Indeed, Arroyo's boo-boo economics has created a short span of high -- albeit false -- expectations. She promised jobs for the people, yet more than one million Filipinos are leaving each year for jobs overseas. In other words, the 'economic boom' that the Arroyo government has been heralding is nothing more than a mirage."

The Filipino people are beginning to wake up from their induced dream of life in Gloria's "Enchanted Kingdom." Suddenly, their lives are entangled in a series of crises -- oil crisis, rice shortage crisis, fish crisis, water crisis, money crisis. Corruption is still the norm of governance and poverty is still the scourge of the nation. The "Sick Man of Asia" is still as sick as it was for the past four decades.

A recent article, "Thousands want to work abroad to survive crisis," in the Cebu Daily News, reported the plight of people -- mostly college-educated professionals -- who couldn't make ends meet. A licensed pharmacist employed by a small pharmacy in Mandaue City said that she would rather do odd jobs such as dish washing and milking a cow in foreign countries than practice her profession here in the country. Asked why she wanted to work overseas, she said: "The wage here in the Philippines could not suffice for the needs of single woman. How much more for married people."

A secretary working in a law firm said that she was disillusioned with a government always promising to increase wages. She said that washing dishes in a hotel in New Zealand would be better as long as it would pay more. She graduated in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Another person unemployed since last year has "criticized the government for not providing enough jobs for the people." He wanted to go to Taiwan and work in a factory. He is one year short of graduating in Criminology.

In 2006, data from the Philippine Overseas and Employment Agency indicate that 1,221,417 Filipinos left for overseas job placement. And for those who couldn't go overseas, a large number of them -- including farmers who left the farms -- moved to the cities looking for jobs in order to survive. The news report further said that "the farmers left their farms because they could not increase their production due to the high cost of the fertilizers, no irrigation projects and not enough support from the government."

On the eve of Labor Day, Arroyo urged Filipinos to practice eating "camote" (sweet yam) and other root crops as substitute for rice. Feeding on roots! Now, isn't that pathetic? That reminds me of the pre-agriculture age 5,000 years ago when hunter-gatherers subsisted by foraging for edible plants and roots.

Meanwhile, the Arroyo government continues to encourage large farm owners to convert their rice fields to jatropha plantations to produce bio-diesel. Last year, Arroyo entered into several agro-fuel deals with Chinese companies. The largest was the $3.83-billion contract with Fuhua Group in which 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land -- a tenth of the total agricultural land -- would be converted into jatropha plantations. This would drastically reduce rice production. At a time of global rice shortage, converting the rice fields would be a betrayal of the people's trust.

Within a period of less than two years, Arroyo's failed economic policies have brought the country closer to the brink of economic collapse. Instead of dreaming of living in the land of the "Enchanted Kingdom," the Filipinos are now living in the land of the "Disenchanted Kingdom."

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)