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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ninoy may now be wondering if the Filipino was worth dying for

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The murder of Ninoy Aquino 25 years ago was supposed to silence the one Opposition leader then who was the thorn on the side of Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and posed the greatest threat to those seeking to succeed him.

The murder was supposed to secure the tenure of the Marcos dictatorship — if not Marcos himself, then his preferred successor. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, that was not what turned out to be.

The murdered Ninoy became the country's new national hero. His sacrifice provided the spark that ended the Marcos dictatorship. The dictator who sought to perpetuate himself in power was ousted three years later – to be succeeded by the widow of the man they murdered.

To those of us who lived through all this, we are wiser for witnessing with our own eyes two valuable lessons:

1. The first is that there is truly a God who can set the seemingly hopeless course of a nation to the path of redemption. We delude ourselves if we say that the events of August 21, 1983 all the way to Redemption Day on February 25, 1986 did not have the hand of God guiding the nation to its desired liberation.

2. The second is that the Filipino is a great nation that only needs a truthful and sincere leader to bring out the best in all Filipinos. Filipinos became the toast of the world for the lessons of People Power which, sadly, is altogether forgotten and discarded now.

It is no coincidence that two of the icons of People Power — Cory Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin — are persons who take their strength from prayer. It is no coincidence that the people in EDSA were repelling tank columns with prayers and rosaries. All they had was the faith that moved mountains.

It is no coincidence that the easily divided Filipinos were united in their stand for freedom and democracy during the fateful days of the People Power Revolt. Their courage was no doubt inspired by the man who dared to return home 25 years ago despite the grave risks it involved.

The events of February 21 to 25, 1986 made us the toast of the world. The anchor of a US TV network covering the event live commented: "We Americans like to think that we taught the Filipinos democracy. Well today, they are teaching the world."

It was George Bernard Shaw who wrote in St. Joan that it is bad enough if people do not know when they are beaten, it is worse when people do not know when they are victorious. In other words, it is bad enough if you do not learn the lesson of your mistake, it is worse if you do not learn the lesson of your own success.

Alas, we Filipinos taught the world the perfect execution of People Power sans violence. And yet, instead of using People Power to strengthen our democracy and make it work, we discarded the priceless lesson we taught the world.

The lesson of unity gave way to 'kanya kanyang lakad' (paddle your own canoe). Weak because we are un-empowered, still we allowed ourselves to be divided and thus be easily manipulated and exploited.

Since few Filipinos really cared to do something about the problems of the country, we find ourselves the biggest victims of the continued slide, our economic retardation. Richer than Japan in natural resources, we cannot even provide our people with basic education and health services.

The majority of Filipinos thinks and believes that the country is ruled by one who cheated during the 2004 elections. Ninoy must be wondering — how come People Power was launched when Marcos tried to cheat Cory and yet is now discarded in the face of a similar rape of the democratic process?

It must be puzzling Ninoy no end that how come Filipinos who did not tolerate oppression and repression from Marcos — compared to the current, a far better ruler who had a vision for the country despite the failings of his dictatorship — is now able to stomach the present regime which hardly has any saving grace to speak of?

Brilliant as he was, Ninoy must be at a loss at how come the race that produced such lions of history as Lapu Lapu, Gregorio del Pilar, Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini and Andres Bonifacio is so devoid today of such patriotism and heroism in the face of crass corruption and the treasonous sellout of the national interest to foreign superpowers.

Ninoy must be crying over how the rest of the soldiers and officers of the military — save for the few who stood up to tyranny — can continue to defer to this present ruler as their Commander-in-Chief. They're the constitutionally mandated protectors of the people and yet they're unable to discern if Filipinos need protection and redemption from their present bad rulers.

Ninoy must be crying at the sight of his siblings — Paul, Tessie and Lupita — fawning on the woman who would be another Marcos if she could.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com



Saturday, August 30, 2008

The real Cha-cha goal

WITH DUE RESPECT
By Artemio V. Panganiban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:12pm (Mla time) 08/16/2008

"ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR CHA-CHA," SCREAMED the headlines a few days ago. "We advocate federalism as a way to ensure long-lasting peace in Mindanao," President Macapagal-Arroyo told visiting Swiss President Pascal Couchepin.

Federalism Cha-cha? Obviously, the Palace is using the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) negotiated in secret by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the bogey to revive Charter change. It is riding on the crest of Joint Resolution No. 10 sponsored by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., calling for the convening of a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to create 11 federal states in the Philippines.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said GMA was fully supporting federalism as the way to implement the GRP-MILF MOA creating the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). The BJE would be proposed as one of the 11 federated states. He flatly denied the "naughty insinuation that she is going for Charter change because she wants to extend her term of office."

This denial is deceptively clever. Technically, GMA does not want a new term under the present presidential system. If, as sitting president, she were allowed by a Charter change to seek another term, she would then have to run a nationwide campaign for reelection. Given her abysmal public approval rating, she has no chance of being reelected even if she called 10 "Garcis."

Parliamentary Cha-cha. Significantly, Dureza did not deny that GMA has long ago lusted for the parliamentary system. In fact, in 2006, her minions launched a rather crude people's initiative for it. This was however rejected by the Supreme Court as a "gigantic fraud" on our people. Now, her surrogates are going for it again via the Con-ass. The parliamentary objective is the same, but the mode to achieve it has changed.

Understandably, GMA wants the parliamentary system so she could run in a much smaller constituency, a parliamentary district, and then retain power as prime minister of the Republic. Compared to a nationwide presidential vote, the parliamentary option is the much easier route for her to remain in reign.

Thus, in my columns on July 20 titled "Can GMA reign beyond 2010?" and July 27 titled "Can GMA win the Cha-cha war?" (accessible through inquirer.net or my personal website, cjpanganiban.ph), I explained how the Con-ass could be convened, how the constitutionally required three-fourths vote could be skirted, how the counter-checking role of the Congress, Supreme Court and Commission on Elections could be surmounted, and how a two-year timeline could be attained.

If (a big if ) the parliamentary Cha-cha succeeds, the election in May 2010 would no longer be held to choose GMA's successor as ordained by the present Constitution but to elect members of Parliament under the revised Charter. GMA would run for a parliamentary seat in Pampanga and then become prime minister.

Overzealous supporters may even include a Cha-cha provision canceling the 2010 elections altogether and naming simply all the present national officials (president, vice president, senators and representatives) as members of an Interim Parliament. This subterfuge would assure GMA's continuous reign without need of any election, whether national or local. Also, this no-el scenario will ensure the enthusiastic support of local officials who will themselves remain in office.

Complicated Cha-cha. Debating and explaining both federalism (to accommodate the GRP-MILF MOA) and parliamentarism (to extend GMA's reign) would be complicated, confusing and time-consuming. Lawyers and political scientists know that these two concepts have many variations and ramifications that could indefinitely delay the Cha-cha.

True, federalism has many advantages. But it is equally true that the many federated states (like the United States, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, Malaysia, etc.) do not practice it uniformly. Neither is there a single parliamentary model. The parliamentary system in Great Britain is different from that in France, Italy and Japan. Given that GMA wants the Cha-cha to be completed before her term expires, there is simply no time for long, simultaneous debates on both federalism and parliamentarism.

Also, the GRP-MILF MOA is so riddled with incredible flaws that it would be more difficult to sell to our people than the parliamentary shift. The parliamentary Cha-cha merely seeks to alter the form of our government, but the MOA (which I shall discuss extensively at another time) proposes to dismember our territorial integrity and to scuttle our country's sovereignty. Again, while the MOA may be useful to revive the Cha-cha, it cannot last long as the reason for it.

Hence, the federalism ploy would soon be dropped by GMA to focus on the Cha-cha's parliamentary centerpiece. Of course, to prove the alleged urgency of Charter change, GMA needed to show the GRP-MILF MOA as Exhibit 1. As I said in my two earlier pieces, nothing prevents the Con-ass—once convened—from dancing the parliamentary Cha-cha with soothing federal music. But we must never ever forget that the real reason for the shindig is the parliamentary swing.

Let us all face this monumental battle squarely. Abandon the pretension, double talk and deception. There is only one real goal for Charter change: to extend GMA's reign beyond June 30, 2010. Let those who favor it be transparent. Let them remove their gloves. Let the oppositors bare their knuckles. And let the real Cha-cha bout begin.

* * *

Comments are welcome at chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com



Friday, August 29, 2008

Searching for our Utopia

Jose Ma. Montelibano

They say that when anxiety deepens, people pray more and the sales of candles increase. They say when people are depressed, people drink more and the sales of liquor go up. Frankly, I have not seen statistics to prove these assertions, but I have not heard much argument to the contrary either. Let me proceed, therefore, assuming that there is truth to them, enough to stimulate our minds to reflective, if not critical, thinking.

The agitation caused by the proposed Bangsamoro Judicial Entity (BJE) brings to fore old wounds which have never healed well. The heart of the controversy is not the terms in the proposed agreement but in the hearts of prejudice and historical animosity. After a thousand years when conflict first broke out between Christians and Moors in North Africa and Iberia, a great distrust has grown between three religions that all came from Abraham – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

On the surface, the BJE controversy covers the extent of what is considered "ancestral domain" and the resources therein. The issue is not only where and what, but who controls where and what. Glaringly, the chasm between Christian and Muslim relationship predicates everything, as though a concession for one is a defeat of the other. It is almost as though that one expects the other to remain an enemy despite a negotiated agreement.

When two groups are friends to each other, the blessings and victories of one are cheered on by the other. In the last one hundred years, Filipinos have cheered victories of the United States against its enemies – Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, and some more in Africa and the old Eastern Europe. When the opposite is true, Filipinos have mourned every defeat of the United States.

Muslims around the world may cheer the BJE as a victory of Filipino Muslims, which means that the BJE is a defeat of Filipino Christians. That is what partisanship and prejudice do to a spat between brothers – make wounds fester rather than heal them. And there is enough ill will going around by this time between people of the same blood and country that makes it easy for vested interests to play one against the other.

The belligerent rhetoric that has dominated the air waves and print media stokes the resentment that is all so easily awaiting to be activated. Thank goodness that not everyone has jumped into the bandwagon of mindless drumbeating for war. Thank goodness that something deeper, like common blood, country and culture, can sometimes rise above the din of fear and anger and attempt to make these heard and seen.

In the midst of great uncertainty in an ugly environment polluted by corruption, poverty and violence, many Filipinos have turned to religion, turned to gambling, turned to fantasizing. Escapism has been the preference of people who cannot take the stark horror of daily societal life, the tens of millions of poor Filipinos who live from one meal to another. And leaders from the Church, from the State, from Business and Media have not come together to understand the deterioration of a national psyche and the corruption of a national soul – then work together to counter the perversion of a beautiful people and culture.

Is it, then, a search for Utopia that I am caught up with? Is it Utopian to tie white ribbons for peace while many others scream for war? Is it Utopian to dream of a society where every human being is equal in worth and dignity, where each one works diligently and produces according to his or her talent, where the value of good relationships outweigh the value of money?

Was it Utopian when the early Christians communities shared everything with one another and no one was in want? Is it Utopian to believe that, indeed, these early Christians did exist and that, indeed, a lifestyle of caring and sharing is possible?

May I quote Oscar Wilde when he tried to describe Utopia:

"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias."

It seems, then, that Utopia becomes an obsession when the day grows dark, when the night is chilly and empty, when the air is heavy and laughter disappears, when foreboding penetrates even the most optimistic of people. Perhaps, the demand for Utopia has wormed itself into the creative minds of artists, writers, performers and directors responsible for TV shows like Dyosa, Dyesebel, and Darna.

On the social front, the Gawad Kalinga movement is anchored on cultural and spiritual values like bayanihan, nobility and sacrifice, heroism, and a vision that has in its center the presence of God and love of country. Its high-profile work has not prevented Gawad Kalinga from quietly but bravely establishing its presence and work in many areas considered delicate because of their history of conflict and violence. Its formula is simple: Filipinos are first brothers and sisters, before being government or anti-government, before being Left or Right, before being Christians and Muslims. Its plea is, hold the line for peace, and tie white ribbons anywhere and everywhere as peace symbols.

How many other individuals and groups have been there before Gawad Kalinga and kept Utopia in their hearts and have never tired of sharing it at our worst moments? How many managed to set aside personal comfort and convenience in order to pursue and promote the truth, in order to feed and clothe the needy, in order to keep alive hope and aspirations in the hearts of those bludgeoned by despair?

There must be more and more among us who will defend Utopia and ensure its perpetuity. There must be the warriors whose prowess for war is overshadowed by their capacity for nobility and virtue. There must be Filipinos who have become victorious in other lands who must come home with their sons and daughters to rescue those they left behind and help them build their Utopia. ***

Confucius: "Cowardice is seeing what is right, and failing to do it."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Manny Pacquiao for President?

Raising False Expectations in Bangsamoro

by Adolfo Paglinawan

This is not the first time negotiation amateurs like General Esperon has made a faux pas on the Moro problem.

In 1987, President Aquino recalled Ambassador Pelaez and I from Washington DC to Manila to undo the Jeddah Accord that negotiators Nene Pimentel and Butch Aquino signed with the MNLF on January 3 & 4, 1987. (I do not think it is a coincidence that Norberto Gonzales, sitting national security adviser of Gloria Arroyo, was part of that ill-fated Philippine panel.)

The Accord expanded coverage of the Tripoli Agreement signed in December 23, 1976 from 13 provinces to the entirety of Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi. We narrowly escaped from being entrapped by the Accord into this expansion because of a technicality in the document to wit "subject to democratic processes".

The ensuing debate centered on "democratic processes" because insofar as our constitution is concerned that would be a "plebiscite" while the Moros construed it to be "consultations with constituencies according to their traditions". They eventually frowned at a plebiscite because to move in that direction may even mean a reduction of Tripoli's inclusion of "13 provinces and all cities and villages".

The Pelaez panel, assisted by the brilliant minds of Pepe Abueva, Ting Jayme and Puring Quisumbing, instead proposed a Provisional Autonomous Council (PAC) to be signed by President Aquino who inherited all of Marcos' dictatorial powers before the organization of the first post-Marcos congress. Nur Misuari did not agree, and the now Moros look back to that proposal, regretting their previous disagreement. The PAC was modelled after the autonomy being enjoyed by the Spanish people.

What is sorely being missed here is that the Moro people deserve their autonomy by virtue of the Tripoli agreement and the existing Constitution, not an ARMM that has been structured merely for compliance but full of loopholes and technicalities and one that has verily failed.

Ambassador Pelaez was sincere, being himself a Mindanaoan who understands the importance of peace in "Minsupalabasta" provinces for the stability and progress of the entire Philippine nation.

The choice of a military man, fresh from active duty, to head the existing panel is a classic and tragic error. The military mind does not function independently. In fact the phrase "miltary intelligence" is an oxymoron. It only operates after a strategic mission has already been established, and that might be instructions from beleaguered President who has a negative 38% approval rating, to sign any piece of paper, just to appease our Muslim brothers to lessen opposition. In the first place, are we really talking to the the right party that is the MILF, when the observer status and representative recognition of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC) favor the MNLF?

We are dealing with the Constitution here, quite a document itself full of seeming contradictions and loose provisions, allowing a lot of latitude for "future" legislations by the Congress of the Philippines. The Esperon panel's lack of transparency has even bemuddled the issues, I mean it is just commonsensical that if a Memo of Agreement were to be signed and in a foreign country at that, the Filipino people ought to have been appraised of its contents first. No excuses please, not even in the name of executive privilege or national security. The stealth alone at which this MOA was being spirited under our very noses, is by itself, already treasonous.

What aggravates this matter is an obscure Department of Foreign Affairs that seems to be absent in all these developments. Every peace talk, every nagotiation, appears to espouse a new idea plucked out from the air or a hip pocket when there are many prexisting models out there that are enforceable and successful. I am not even sure if invisible Secretary Albert Romulo himself has read the precedent documents involving peace talks with the Moros.

So the Moro people often find themselves being hemmed and hawed between political aspirations and economic interests not of their own, but by the Almighty powers in Manila or their oligarchic extensions in Mindanao.

For heaven's sake, giving the Moros their due, within the purview of the Tripoli Agreement that is recognized internationally and even by the Government of the Philippines, will already earn for us good faith and the respect of the OIC and merit limitless goodwill from our big brothers in the Muslim world. At a time when our economy rests on only the overseas Filipinos, this should be more than incentive for our national interest.

If we are truly searching for what is best for the Moros, let us not wait for the next disruption of hostilities in what they call Bangsamoro.

Let us throw out that all empty rhetoric and delusions including federalism that would just gerimander our country for aging politicians who know no better and take on how Spain has for generations been living in peace and progress with a working autonomy specifically the cases of the Canary Islands, the Basque Country, Andalusia or Catalonia and that is being copied by more sensible governments all over the world, the latest of which is Western Sahara.

Let us level with our Muslim brothers, and not insert a problem for every solution. My goodness, we have to be true to the roots of our country that before 1521, lived for as much as 300 years under Muslim traditions and governance. Otherwise those same roots will, like uneasy lava, furiously erupt into another social volcano right in our midst.

Let us not even do this for them if we are bigots, but to those around them who become victims of collateral damage everytime there is an outbreak of violence in Mindanao.

Let us do this for islam, shalom, or peace, depending on which side we belong.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thank you, Nene

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Aug. 13, 2008

In my article Staring into the Abyss (Aug. 07), I had mentioned my talk before Irene Santiago's Mindanao Commission on Women in Davao City last June 24, to which I had been asked to describe "What the Country Faces in 2010."

In that talk, I painted a worst case scenario and a best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, I posited a continued escalation in the prices of oil and food; a new war in the Middle East as Israel and the neo-cons in Washington DC attack Iran's nuclear facilities; which war would force the return home of hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas workers; an increase in the inflation rate and a corresponding rise in criminality; and "a resumption of the war in Mindanao and Sulu as radical elements in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf raise the ante by making demands on the Manila government that they know the Manila government cannot accede to….."

These developments "would stretch the resources of the Philippine government and would encourage calls for either martial law or a military takeover…President Arroyo would respond positively to a call for martial law, whether the causes are real or manufactured. It would be in keeping with her desire to remain in power beyond 2010."

And I concluded that, whether it will be martial law or military takeover, "Congress would be abolished, civil and political rights would be suspended, and there would be no presidential elections in 2010…"

In my best case scenario, there is no wider war in the Middle East, the prices of oil and food stabilize, there is no resumption of hostilities in Mindanao and Sulu, no forced repatriation of Filipino overseas workers, no rise in criminality, ergo no credible reason to declare martial law..

"But President Arroyo would continue her maneuvers to remain in power beyond 2010, either as prime minister, if we switch to the parliamentary system, or as president without term limits, if we retain the presidential system…."

I said this because of the unabated efforts of Gov. Joey Saleda (since Feb. 11) to push for parliamentarianism, and of Sen. Pimentel (since mid-June) to push for federalism. Pimentel's federalism is specifically programmed to take effect before the end of President Arroyo's term and specifically designed to be brought about through a constituent assembly (ConAss), where the Kampi/Lakas juggernsaut in the Lower House would easily overwhelm any opposition from the Senate.

"So even under my best case scenario, I do not think there will be presidential elections in 2010….It will be GMA all the way…." That was what I told my Davao audience last June 24.

The other day (Aug. 12), I was asked to give a talk to the Management Association of the Philippines - ABCD Foundation, on a similar topic: "the likely scenario from now to July 2010" especially in the countryside.

In the 49 days since my Davao talk, the situation has deteriorated significantly because the resumption of hostilities in Mindanao – one of the ingredients in my worst case scenario – has become a palpable reality.

Alleged lost commands of the MILF occupied villages beyond the boundaries of the present Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into territories claimed for the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and promised by the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD), even before that MOA could be signed and formally ratified in a plebiscite. Forcing the Philippine military to hit back at the MILF with artillery, APCs, infantry, OV-10 Broncos and attack helicopters in what possibly could be a precursor of things to come.

It is becoming obvious that the panel negotiating for the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) with the MILF was not being naïve and stupid when it initialed that MOA, knowing fully well that some of its provisos violated the Constitution and would likely trigger a backlash from the largely Christian majority in the general population as well as in Congress.

I distinctly recall that the "peace talks" in Kuala Lumpur were stalled more than a year ago because of two major issues: the issue of ancestral domain and the issue of the Constitution. The MILF objected to any reference to the Philippine Constitution since, according to them, they were rebels and therefore did not recognize that document.

The GRP panel, apparently with malice aforethought, gave in to the MILF demands. It initialed the MOA last July 27, without telling Congress, the general public or the residents of the affected areas, that it was ceding 712 barangays to the BJE, which would now become about 30 to 35 percent larger than the existing ARMM.

The GRP also gave in to the MILF demand that the Philippine Constitution is not to be mentioned at all in the MOA, although the MOA acknowledges that the central government (the GRP) needs to formalize the MOA with a plebiscite as well as with a constitutional change to the federal form of government. before the BJE can become a federal state in a federal union.

For its part, the MILF sniffs that all these legal and constitutional details are an internal problem for the GRP and are of no concern to them, and that the MOA is a done deal and is legally binding on the GRP. The implied threat is that if the MOA is not signed, war would resume.

During my talk to the MAP-ABCDF, a member asked what I would prefer instead of the flawed MOA. I said what I have been proposing in this space since 2004, namely that senators should be elected by region, instead of by nationwide vote. This way, Muslims would always have a representative/s in the Senate, the highest policy-making body in the government. Moderate Muslims could thus be kept within the mainstream. Radical Muslims, on the other hand, would always opt for separatism and independence, no matter what. I will dwell on this in a future article.

Another member of the MAP audience asked which constitutional reforms I would favor. I replied: parliamentary and unitary, under certain conditions. One, the ChaCha should be done after 2010. And the Westminster model of parliamentary may have to be amended to allow for direct vote for the prime minister, because Filipinos are culturally used to voting directly for their head of state. This is not unheard of. As far as I know, Binyamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister of Israel by direct vote. It should be looked into.

It did not surprise me or anyone else that on Aug. 11 President Arroyo came out openly in favor of what everyone and his Muslim grandmother have known along that she would push, namely that we need charter change and a switch to the federal form of government to solve the peace and order problem in Mindanao.. (Thank you, Nene.) The GRP is being blackmailed, and willingly so, since the end result (federalism through charter change) coincides with the strategic goal of keeping President Arroyo in power beyond 2010.

Senator Pimentel protests that his Senate Resolution no. 10 deals only with a switch to federal and does not concern itself with extending anyone's term or switching to parliamentary. But Pimentel is only the chief carpenter for the Trojan Horse. He has no say whatsoever on who will hide inside it. That is strictly for Gloria, Big Mike and Ronnie to decide. (Thank you, Nene.).

That the GRP has been negotiating at all with a bunch of outlaws, as the MILF admit they are, who have been allowed to control vast territories in Mindanao-Sulu-Basilan-Tawi Tawi which the Philippine military and police cannot enter, is a de facto recognition that the MILF is a separate government.

The MOA – even if only initialed – is the GRP's de jure acknowledgement and guarantee (to the MILF) that the expanded Bangsamoro Juridical Entity will soon become the Bangsamoro Federal State. Since the MILF has always been separatist, it is only logical that it will separate itself from the Philippine Republic, at the Zero Hour that it will choose.. (Thank you, Nene.) *****

Reactions to tonyabaya@gmail.com. Other articles in acabaya.blogspot.com. Tony on YouTube in www.tapatt.org.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hold The Line For Peace

GLIMPSES
Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is like watching a tragedy unfold before our very eyes. It is not even the issue of ancestral domain, federalism needing Charter Change to happen, or the extension of the Arroyo administration under any set-up. All these are bad enough when control and power drive motives more than the well-being of people. What is truly horrifying is the slide back to religious and cultural prejudice, a major setback for the oneness of Filipinos and the advancement of human consciousness.

Eight years ago, the sitting president ordered the attack on Muslim enclaves in Central Mindanao after he was twitted by the kidnappings of foreign tourists by terrorists in islands situated far away. It was a vengeful reaction directed, not at the enemy of the moment, but at a people considered by Christians as the enemy of history. War against Muslims in the Philippines is a war that cannot be won by government. It cannot be won by the Muslims either. War between Muslims and Christians makes losers of us all. It also shows how stupid we are, how easily manipulated, how Filipinos of different faiths fight for crumbs while vested interests pocket our patrimony.

The United States is a vested interest. China is a vested interest. The Muslim world, especially our neighbors, is a vested interest. There are many more with vested interests, and it is not difficult to understand why a small country is the object of vested interests. By being pinpointed as one of the richest, if not the richest of all, in bio-diversity, the Philippines is the most blessed by creation. For those who believe in a Creator, it can be said that the Philippines is a clear favorite.

The spectacular bio-diversity found in the Philippines is not a secret. Much of its minerals, much of its forests, and much of its people have already been exploited by the rich and powerful, by kings, bishops, and the merchants of the world. Such is not the fate only of
the Philippines. Greed and the twisted sense of power and control have moved around the globe several times over looking for victims, finding them, killing, raping and enslaving them, and, of course, looting their natural treasuries.

It is almost incidental that the Spaniards got ahead of the British, the Dutch, the Americans and the Japanese. Philippine history, then, has to name Spain as the first successful colonizer, the first to use force to extract the wealth and the submission of the natives of our islands. Considering the way that Europe was circumnavigating the undiscovered world of Asia at that time, and the strategic position of our motherland, it would have been impossible to avoid landing in one of our more than 7,000 islands.

And that is our country's next greatest value - that it is strategically located in a region that promises to be the center of development and opportunity in the decades to come. For superpower America, especially, the Philippines is not only the best option it
has to be in, but more importantly, may be the only option. Asia is China, and Asia is Muslim. Both China and Islam make the United States uncomfortable. Confucianism and Islam are not basic in the belief system of America, of the whole Western world, in fact. For the less adventurous in the traditionally dominant West, the possibility of China as a superpower and Islam as an emerging global influence can cause nightmares.

Well, this nightmare is here for Filipinos who will be in the eye of the storm. Both Christian and Muslim Filipinos have not grown much in the last four centuries. Our colonial past was not as successful in developing our productive capacities as much as it succeeded in making our foreign conquerors pleased with controlling and exploiting us. Despite having experienced three great nations as our masters, all by force, of course, the lack of intent by them to empower us and their manifest will to simply use us did next to nothing in making us grow as a people. Instead, we were left with a conditioned propensity to bicker and betray one another, a patented virus from centuries of divide-and-rule governance.

Today, with what is happening in Mindanao, there is no clearer testimony of just how weak we are, of how abused we are, of how divided we are. There is no leadership that elicits respect and loyalty; only a deep-seated natural love for the motherland keeps us together – and precariously at that. It is not the ancestral domain issue which makes us turn against one another, it is the state of distrust that has evolved among Christians and Muslims. It is ironic that Filipinos think more kindly of other nations than their fellow Filipinos.

Despite a pathetic lack of effort from national leaderships to re-unite Christians and Muslims, to re-kindle the bonds of a common blood and a common habitat, many individuals and groups have never given up and keep trying to transcend historical prejudice and bigotry. These efforts, from NGos and members of the clergy from both faiths, have been the counter force to an aggressive virus called divisiveness. Laudable these may be, and effective as well up to a certain point, they are no match for the deep pool of animosity that vested interests can stoke into active life. Thankfully, even senior military officers today do not believe that war is a higher option than peace.

Filipinos have no option except one – rise above history and take destiny into our own hands. We must hold the line for peace. We must set aside feelings of distrust and not allow ourselves to continue being puppets and be irreparably damaged as one people from one motherland. We may not be powerful enough to change the course of history of Asia, but we are powerful enough to say no to hate and violence, to say no to prejudice and bigotry.

Hold the line for peace. This must be our daily prayer. It is not the current issues that harm us the most, it is the manipulation of others, including many of our own compromised leaders, that do. Christians are not the enemies of Muslims, and neither are Muslims the enemies of Christians. We are one people, one blood, created by one God. Let us not be blind to the beautiful and divine intent of creation – that we are one. Against all odds, against all manipulation, against all provocation, let us hold the line for peace.***
--
"In bayanihan, we will be our brother's keeper and forever shut the door to hunger among ourselves."

Monday, August 25, 2008

The big mistakes the MILF must not commit

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
Thursday, August 14, 2008

The MILF did not win the war in Mindanao. Where they won was in the peace negotiations and with a great deal of thanks to foreign parties at interest who stood to gain once the MILF attains their Ancestral Domain or now called the BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity).

But the MILF struggle is far from over. The BJE deal has to pass the scrutiny and approval of the Filipinos who are forever wary of anything the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime attempts to fasttrack into a done deal.

The biggest issue of the BJE deal is that the GRP committed to so many things that violate the Constitution. Even a Supreme Court (SC) that has recently displayed a favorable heart towards the GMA regime will find it hard to justify this issue: How can an officer of the Constitution (like GMA and her negotiators) commit the country to so many features of a deal that violates the Constitution?

If the SC TRO that stopped the signing of the BJE deal is any indication, the SC will most likely also junk the BJE deal on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. And that will bring the MILF back to square one.

If the MILF will learn the lesson of the founding of the State of Israel, it must note that taking over territory is one aspect of victory but winning and securing the peace is the more crucial aspect of the task.

The recent action in North Cotabato is a major setback to the image the MILF should be projecting. What that action projected was an MILF who could not wait for a deal that is properly done. It also projected the MILF as an entity that will grab territory through negotiation or through sheer brute force. Rather than win the confidence of the rest of the country, the North Cotabato action merely reinforced age-old biases and fears about the Muslims.

The MILF will do well to keep these in mind:

1. They must allay — not reinforce — Christian mindsets like "Muslims are not trustworthy," "Islamic governance is severe and prejudicial against non-Muslims" and "Muslims are easily inclined to use brute force."

2. Reinforcing Christian fears can lead to a revival of the days of fighting with the Ilagas before martial law. A BJE under a war zone will never develop.

3. The MILF cannot rely on the "total" and "unlimited" support of its main sponsor, the US. The US can easily switch to the opposite side if that suited their interests. US history of the last 70 years will demonstrate that.

4. The worst promoter of the BJE is Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because she does not have the trust of the majority of Filipinos. GMA is so distrusted that something as controversial as the BJE deal can only be rejected out of sheer spite for the local sponsor.

5. Should the MILF succeed in getting public approval, the next big task is to attract development partners in the BJE. The MILF behavior now should confine itself to projecting what will be attractive to potential development partners.

6. The MILF should also be concerned that the other superpower — China — against whom the BJE plan was promoted by the US may decide to play its hand. Neither the BJE nor the rest of the country will want to become pawns in a US-China Cold War.

The MILF should bear in mind that in the confrontations with China since the Korean Peninsula War of the 1950s, the US has never won. China helped kick the US out in North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. China will easily absorb 100,000 casualties. The US has suffered a little more than 4,000 casualties in Iraq and Americans are already crying to go home.

The worst manner by which the MILF can secure the BJE is if it is done by declaring martial law with the help of course of the US. Marcos could not have declared martial law if the US did not support it. An expert in geopolitics who was present in the Vladivostok Accord that ended the Cold War — Prof. Manoling Yap — believes that it was the US that provided Marcos the blueprint for martial law. It certainly coincided with that period when the US was creating dictatorships all over the world because of the US fear of the spread of Communism.

Assuming that GMA is able to impose martial law (a big IF considering that she does not have the total support of the AFP unlike Marcos in 1972) and to ram down the throat of the Filipinos the creation of the BJE — that will only provide the legal basis in the future for Filipinos to claim it back and scrap the BJE deal.

The MILF can never feel comfortable with a BJE deal that has been secured under those highly questionable means. The MILF cannot also delude itself that a GMA martial law is secured with US support. A mighty China can easily support any group that will attempt to topple the US-backed GMA martial law regime.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com





Sunday, August 24, 2008

Arroyo is Finished under UNCAC

by Frank Wenceslao

Although I'm not a lawyer I read with great interest ex-Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban's column on Inquirer.net.

His recent piece concerning US jurisprudence affecting Filipinos confirms a Pamusa volunteer counsel's opinion that the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) enforced by US laws pursuant to President Bush's International Initiative to Combat Kleptocracy has made American jurisprudence more applicable to Filipinos. Excerpts from the UNCAC international cooperation provisions are effective tools to fight corruption in the Philippines, to wit:

"Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders. Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offenders. Countries are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.

"In a major breakthrough, countries agreed on asset-recovery, which is stated explicitly as a fundamental principle of the Convention. This is a particularly important issue for many developing countries where high-level corruption has plundered the national wealth, and where resources are badly needed for reconstruction and the rehabilitation of societies under new governments. Reaching agreement on this chapter has involved intensive negotiations, as the needs of countries seeking the illicit assets had to be reconciled with the legal and procedural safeguards of the countries whose assistance is sought.

"Several provisions specify how cooperation and assistance will be rendered. In particular, in the case of embezzlement of public funds, the confiscated property would be returned to the state requesting it; in the case of proceeds of any other offence covered by the Convention, the property would be returned providing the proof of ownership or recognition of the damage caused to a requesting state; in all other cases, priority consideration would be given to the return of confiscated property to the requesting state, to the return of such property to the prior legitimate owners or to compensation of the victims."

Under UNCAC, corrupt current and former government and political officials, their immediate family members and close associates, or private individuals and businessmen that colluded with them may be charged for violation of US laws such as the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

That is why Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is finished. Expect her to resort to every means to attain Charter-change to remain in power and enjoy immunity from suit in order not to be indicted for corruption under US laws and human rights violation for over 800 extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the military making her culpable as Commander in Chief possibly to be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It's undeniable that on top of the most corrupt administration putting Filipinos to shame, Arroyo has probably committed treason in at least three (3) instances, to wit:

1. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by the Philippine National Oil Co. with its Chinese Government counterpart for joint petroleum exploration of South China Sea islands so detrimental to the Philippines to obtain an $8-billion loan from the Chinese Government for corruption-tainted projects such as Northrail, Southrail, ZTE-NBN, Education Department Cyberspace and others. The ZTE-NBN deal has emerged to be hugely overpriced and would unduly benefit Benjamin Abalos so the Commission on Elections would go along to establish the framework for Cha-cha through people's initiative and the shift to parliamentary system, thus Arroyo would be prime minister and head of government.

Clearly, Filipinos would be bought to approve Cha-cha with the loan they would eventually repay in years to come to keep Arroyo in power maybe longer than Marcos. In retrospect, Jose de Venecia was booted out as Speaker because Arroyo didn't want him as competitor for PM.

2. In order that Arroyo would be removed from a list of kleptocrats banned entry to the US under Bush's "No Safe Haven" policy denying them to enjoy fruits of corruption, she conspired with US Ambassador Kristie Kenney and offered a new military base in Mindanao. This is reportedly a "secret" agreement Arroyo had with Bush during her last US visit.

3. The military base is prohibited by the Constitution. Hence, peace in Mindanao by way of the MOA with MILF was resorted to for the creation of Bangsamoro, a state within a state that would conduct its own foreign relations and enter into treaties with foreign countries. However, Bangsamoro would first require Cha-cha.

Arroyo is expected to resort to other schemes like federalism to push Cha-cha announced by Malacañang. Our leaders should know better; Cha-cha should be put off after 2010. God forbid, Arroyo would simulate a crisis for the military to "protect the state" and suspend the 2010 elections to allow her to continue as acting President.

That's why our political leaders and all Filipinos at home and abroad should unite to press Arroyo to step down sooner rather than later. She's like a caged tiger now and up to no good each day she remains in power. Or else, Arroyo would face these consequences, to wit:

(a) Be impeached by the House and removed by the Senate. Hopefully, members of Congress see the clear and present danger to the nation if Arroyo were allowed to continue in office any longer. Besides, Arroyo cannot undo the damage she has inflicted on the nation the past seven years in the months she's left in office. In fact, like a fast spreading cancer, Arroyo's presidency should be terminated forthwith; or

(b) Pamusa would initiate legal actions in the US with the help of all patriotic Filipinos at home and abroad for the full force and effect of the UNCAC and Bush initiative to befall Arroyo, her immediate family members and close associates including politically well-connected individuals and businessmen that colluded with them.

Perhaps, Vice President Noli de Castro would assure Arroyo full pardon if she steps down immediately on condition she'd negotiate settlement and turn over part of her family's ill-gotten wealth to the government that in effect would also amicably settle the charges of public corruption Pamusa is ready to file under US laws.

(fcwenceslao@hotmail.com)




Saturday, August 23, 2008

Know how the BJE serves US geo-political interests

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Information Gap accounts for much of the exploitation Filipinos suffer from — the sorry state of being utterly clueless when it comes to the conspiracies and mechanisms that perpetuate the Wealth Gap.

Those who are most bewildered by the sudden emergence of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) that was almost inked by the GRP-MILF panel last week could never figure out as to how that came about. So many conjectures have been heard in commentaries, editorials and coffee shop forums. Still, many do not have an inkling of the real forces at play in the BJE.

Because many of them hardly saw US operatives maneuvering behind the scenes, they concluded that the US could not be really taking an active stance in this development. This conforms to the idiotic thinking that what one does not see cannot be.

Yet to those who have factored the US interest in the equation, they find it the most clarifying element that reveals the whole picture of the puzzle. By inputting the US interest in the equation, they are now able to appreciate how the BJE evolved.

Thus, it is imperative that we detail the US interest in the BJE so that Filipinos will understand how they are soon about to lose a very rich and strategic part of defined Philippine territory under the present Constitution.

China and oil

If one sees the invasion of Iraq and the effort to start a war with Iran as US maneuvers to control the remaining big reserves of oil with the corollary objective of checking China (which is a projected foe in US geo-political planning), then it is easy to see why the US will want to also have a strategic presence in the BJE.

Of the approximately 1,317.4 billion barrels (bb) of the world's oil reserves (source: Oil & Gas Journal, December 18, 2006), the US has a mere 21.8 bb, China has 16 bb, Saudi Arabia 282.3 bb. Iran has oil reserves of 136.3 bb while Iraq has 115 bb. Iran and Iraq combined have bigger oil reserves than Saudi Arabia.

Based on its current annual production, the same source projects these vital oil reserves to be exhausted, as follows:

1. US — 11 years

2. China — 14 years

3. Iran — 83 years

4. Iraq — 168 years

So, do you still want to believe that the US invaded Iraq because of Saddam Hussein and is now poised to attack Iran over its nuclear development program?

By no coincidence, the BJE, especially that Southern tip of Palawan that was suddenly included, happen to be located in the very area that will provide control of the shipping lanes in the South China Sea where Middle East oil passes on its route to China. Not factoring at all the oil in the area, it becomes a military strategic priority to be able to choke China from its Middle East oil sources.

However, the area is more than just strategic in case armed conflict erupts with China. Per the Global Security website, the Spratly and Paracel Island alone are estimated to have 105 bb of oil. The whole South China Sea is estimated to have 213 bb of oil with a projected capacity to produce 1.9 million barrels a day (compared to Iraq's production of 1.88 million barrels a day).

And this does not even factor the rich mineral resources of the BJE which China also needs very badly to fuel its economy.

The US initiative

A paper that Filipinos must read is the US State Department Philippine Facilitation Project (2003 — 2007) which is available at the United States Institute of Peace ( www.usip.org) website.

This Philippine Facilitation Project was initiated in February 2003 after US President George W. Bush received the January 2003 letter of MILF Chief Hashim Salamat. I even suspect that Salamat's letter was written upon the suggestion of the US itself in order to attain a formal entry point â€' an invitation to intervene — in the GRP-MILF negotiations.

The stated goals of the Philippine Facilitation Project are: For the US State Department to facilitate GRP-MILF peace negotiations "in coordination with the government of Malaysia" and "To determine whether any agreement reached was viable enough for the US government to commit its support during the implementation phase."

Appointed senior advisers were four former US Ambassadors to the Philippines (Richard Murphy, Stephen Bosworth, Frank Wisner and Richard Solomon) who all worked under Chester Crocker and Gen. Anthony Zimmi.

Included in the agenda are:

1. Economic rehabilitation of conflict areas (read: tap all the rich resources in the BJE)

2. Security (read: secure US strategic military presence)

3. Resolution of ANCESTRAL DOMAIN ISSUES (now you know where that term came from)

US participation was premised on the "Global War on Terror" — the very same cover for the invasion of Iraq.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney denies these US initiatives that led to the BJE. How can the head of State Secretary Condi Rice's team in the Philippines not be aware of a State Department Philippine Project of such strategic importance to US interests?

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com




Friday, August 22, 2008

Go, Beijing, Go!

By Antonio C. Abaya
Written on Aug. 11, 2008

It would be hard to imagine a more troubled Olympics than the Beijing 2008 Games. Not even the Munich 1972 Games, in which Arab terrorists (or freedom fighters, depending on your point of view) kidnapped Israeli athletes and killed some of them. (The others died from friendly fire from would-be rescuers)..

Not even the Moscow 1980 Games, which the US and its satellites boycotted, in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a country which the US in turn invaded in 2001. Or the Los Angeles 1984 Games, which the Soviet Union and its satellites boycotted in retaliation for the US boycott of Moscow in 1980.

If political correctness and liberal hearts bleeding for poor downtrodden peoples had been in vogue in 1896, there would have been no Modern Olympics, then and now.

I do not know what people the Greeks oppressed in 1896, when the Modern Olympics began, but since Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Turks for four centuries, there must have been recorded instances of Greeks beheading Muslim Turks, no more, no less than instances of Turks beheading Orthodox Greeks.

There would have been no Paris 1900 Games, given the French record of governance in Africa and Indo-China, as well as their infamous prison facilities on Devil's Island off the coast of French Guiana in South America.

There would have been no Antwerp 1920 Games if bleeding heart liberals had dug up what were then still fresh memories of human rights abuses in the Belgian Congo, which was known even for decades later as King Leopold II's private shooting gallery, where he used live (and soon dead) Black African natives for target practice .

And no Amsterdam 1928 Games if the world had been made aware of Dutch violations of political rights in the Dutch East Indies, later to be known as Indonesia, whose political leaders began their fight for independence from Holland at around that time.

And where were the bleeding heart liberals when Adolf Hitler hosted the Berlin 1936 Games, while his Nazi extermination machine was preparing for the Final Solution against Jews, gypsies, Slavs and other untermenschen.?

No bleeding heart liberals apparently took the British Empire, on which the Sun never set, to task for its share of human rights abuses, in the runs-up to the London 1906 and the London 1948 Games.

Did any bleeding heart liberals protest against Japanese atrocities in China and Southeast Asia during the Pacific War, less than 30 years before Japan hosted the Tokyo 1964 Games?

But before and during the Barcelona 1992 Games, which coincided with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' accidental discovery of the Americas, politically correct liberals demanded an apology from Spain for its exploitation and policies of exterm- ination against the indigenous peoples of Latin America.. But no one complained about the human sacrifice practiced ritually by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans when Mexico hosted the Mexico City 1968 Games.

Australia hosted the Melbourne 1956 Games and the Sydney 2000 Games, but it was only in 2008 that the Australian government, under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, apologized for the Anglos' racist treatment of the Aborigines in the past 200 years..

My point is that it should be in this historical context that the campaign of western liberals against the Beijing 2008 Games should be taken. All the crocodile tears for the poor Tibetans and the starving Sudanese have some basis in fact, but so what? Which host country was ever without genocidal sin? Perhaps only Sweden (1912) and Finland (1952) ...

The US still had fresh Filipino blood on its hands when it hosted the St. Louis 1904 Games, and Vietnamese and Latin American blood when it hosted the Los Angeles 1984 Games and the Atlanta 2004 Games. And the USSR had the bloodiest hands of them all when it hosted the Moscow 1980 Games.

And western liberals are notoriously selective. They shed copious crocodile tears for the docile Tibetans and acrimoniously disrupted the passage of the Olympic torch on its way to Beijing, in a campaign that bore all the hallmarks of a well-funded, well-orchestrated public relations demolition job, complete with Hollywood icons like Richard Gere and Mia Farrow weeping all over the place.

But, significantly, not a single word on behalf of the Turkic Uyhgurs in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which is right next to Tibet, who have been fighting for a similar cause: independence from Han Chinese rule.

Why so? Because the Uyghurs are Muslims. With whom western liberals find it hard to make common cause because of Islam's medieval attitude towards women and Islam's preference for a theocratic state under Sharia law. Which is probably no different from the theocratic state under the Tibetan Buddhist lamas.. (See my articles Free Tibet…later of April 07, 2008 and Manipulating Tibet of April 21, 2008)..

And since no western liberals wept crocodile tears for them, the separatist Uyghurs took matters into their own hands. Two or three days before Beijing 2008 began, they attacked with bombs and knives a platoon of Chinese policemen doing their morning jog in the capital city of Kashgar, killing 16 of them, and promising more terrorist attacks in the coming days.

Human mischief is not all that the Chinese have had to suffer in the run-up to 8/08/08.

First there was unusually heavy snowfall last February that stranded 5.2 million passengers in airports and train stations as they vainly tried to go home in time for the Chinese New Year.

Then there was the catastrophic 7.9 magnitude earthquake last May that devastated towns and cities in Sichuan Province, killed more than 70,000 people and destroyed millions of homes. Followed by heavy floods in central China the next month that made another million people homeless.

And, as if that was not enough, the coastal waters off Tsingdao, site of the Olympic yachting events, was suddenly covered last July by a mantle of algae bloom that took more than two weeks to remove by hand.

The sky is indeed falling, some Chinese Chicken Little may understandably feel. Not just falling, but actually blanketing Beijing itself with a pall of environmental doom that would not go away despite all the best efforts to shut down factories and reduce the motor vehicles on the road during the Games.

But the show must go on. And it did, with all the spectacular panache that $43 billion could buy, from glittering new buildings of daring architecture, to a massive display of precision extravaganza highlighting the contributions of China to world civilization, to a humongous fireworks orgasm which, of course, merely added to the pollution already in the air.

But never mind. It is the coming-out party of China and they have earned every minute of it. Go, Beijing, go! *****






Kaya Natin!

KAYA NATIN! Stand on Charter Change:
Focus on Alleviating Poverty not on Charter Change


We, the founding members of Kaya Natin! A Movement for Genuine Change and Ethical Leadership strongly oppose any moves to amend our present constitution or charter change before the 2010 National Elections. We believe that amending the constitution now will only serve to promote the self-interests of a few of our political leaders who are bent at staying in power and extending their present terms. Although we believe that there are certain provisions within the constitution that may need to be amended, we believe that any move to push for charter change now will only cause further divisions within our country. We believe that the 2010 National Elections should continue as scheduled because postponing it will deprive the Filipino people of its mandated right to choose the right leaders that it can trust and will further weaken our democratic institutions. Finally, we believe that the form of government system whether we shift to a Parliamentary or Federalist form of government will not matter if we will continue to have leaders who will only promote their self-interests and continue to corrupt the Filipino people.

Instead of pushing for charter change now, we call on our national leaders, our congressmen and senators to open their eyes to the plight of the millions of Filipino families who are living in poverty. We call on them to focus on developing and implementing policies and programs that would improve the quality of life of every Filipino and promote genuine and lasting development for our country.

We call on our President and her cabinet members to focus their efforts on curbing the rampant graft and corruption present in our government, improving the quality of basic education, generating jobs especially for the poor and providing access to quality healthcare for every Filipino.

We call on our congressmen and senators to create sound economic policies that would help stabilize the prices of basic commodities and make it affordable for every Filipino family to eat at least three square meals a day. Moreover, we call on our legislative leaders to focus their efforts in working for genuine land reform in our country by passing the extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

We call on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to do its best to prepare for the upcoming 2010 National Elections by ensuring the full automation of the elections.

We call on other Local Government leaders especially our fellow Mayors and Governors to listen to the true voices of our constituents and join us in opposing any attempts to amend the constitution before the 2010 National Elections.

Finally, we call on every Filipino to make your voices heard and join us in taking a stand against charter change by sending us an email with your complete name and address to kayanatin@yahoo.com.


(Sgd.) HON. EDDIE PANLILIO      (Sgd.) HON. GRACE PADACA    (Sgd.) HON. JESSE ROBREDO
Governor                                       Governor                                    Mayor
Pampanga                                     Isabela                                      Naga City


(Sgd.) HON. TEDDY BAGUILAT, JR.       (Sgd.) HON. SONIA LORENZO
Governor                                                 Mayor
Ifugao                                                     San Isidro, Nueva Ecija

(Sgd.) HARVEY KEH                                 (Sgd.) CRISTYL SENAJON       (Sgd.) KARLA PASTORES
Director for Youth Leadership &                   Youth Leader                             Youth Leader
Social Entrepreneurship             
Ateneo de Manila-School of Government


 
For more information on Kaya Natin! Please feel free to contact the Kaya Natin! Secretariat at (02) 426-5657 and look for Kai Pastores.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quo Vadis, Mindanao?

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Within a matter of days, Mindanao was thrown into a cauldron of turmoil which could -- if not handled judiciously -- explode into a civil war in Mindanao. Muslim separatists and Christian settlers who have coexisted for the most part of the last century are arming themselves for what could become a Kosovo-like strife.

What could trigger an armed conflict is the "Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain" (MOA-AD) between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which would establish the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). Accordingly, the BJE "shall have the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral Domain and Ancestral lands" and whose territory shall encompass the "land mass as well as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, and the aerial domain, the atmospheric space above it, embracing the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region."

The agreement stipulates that "the core of the BJE shall constitute the present geographic area of the ARMM, including the municipalities of Baloi, Munai, Nunungan, Pantar, Tagoloan and Tangkal in the province of Lanao del Norte that voted for inclusion in the ARMM during the 2001 plebiscite." ARMM stands for "Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao" which is comprised of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Lately, the MILF demanded that the southern part of Palawan be included in their "ancestral domain."

In regard to internal waters, "the BJE shall have jurisdiction over the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all natural resources, living and non-living, within its internal waters extending fifteen (15) kilometers from the coastline of the BJE area."

In regard to territorial waters, "the territorial waters of the BJE shall stretch beyond the BJE internal waters up to the Republic of the Philippines (RP) baselines south east and south west of mainland Mindanao. Beyond the fifteen (15) kilometers internal waters, the Central Government and the BJE shall exercise joint jurisdiction, authority and management over areas and all natural resources, living and non-living contained therein."

In regard to resources, "the BJE is empowered with authority and responsibility for the land use, development, conservation and disposition of the natural resources within the homeland." And here is the stinger: "The BJE is free to enter into any economic cooperation and trade relations with foreign countries." And it also have the option to "establish and open Bangsamoro trade missions in foreign countries with which it has economic cooperation agreements." The MOA-AD further stipulates: "Jurisdiction and control over, and the right of exploring for, exploiting, producing and obtaining all potential sources of energy, petroleum, in situ, fossil fuel, mineral oil and natural gas, whether onshore or offshore, is vested in the BJE as the party having control within its territorial jurisdiction." It's no wonder Uncle Sam is supportive of the MOA-AD.

On governance, "the BJE shall be empowered to build, develop and maintain its own institutions, inclusive of, civil service, electoral, financial and banking, education, legislation, legal, economic, and police and internal security force, judicial system and correctional institutions, necessary for developing a progressive Bangsamoro society."

All in all, the MOA-AD -- if signed and implemented -- would create an autonomous state within a state. The BJE has all the functions and powers of a sovereign and independent state. The only thing under the MOA-AD that the Central Government would control is its duty and obligation to take charge of external defense.

Set to be formally signed by the Philippine government and the MILF last August 5, 2008 in Malaysia, the Philippine Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) the day before the scheduled signing. The High Court's TRO has put a monkey wrench on the questionable "peace formula" concocted by Malacanang. As soon as the TRO was issued, warfare between government forces and MILF rebels broke out in North Cotabato.

According to some legal and constitutional experts, the MOA-AD is unconstitutional since it would create an autonomous state within a state with a centralized system of government. However, the BJE would fit under a federal system of government. In other words, before BJE could be created, the Philippine constitution must first be amended to change the unitary system of government to a federal system. It is in this context that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. conveniently advanced the idea of a constitutional amendment.

What Esperon has done is create a situation where Muslims in Mindanao and proponents of federalism would be allied with him and his master in Malacanang, Gloria Arroyo. The Supreme Court's TRO would actually play into Gloria's hands. Since the MOA-AD couldn't be implemented at this time, Gloria could put the MOA-AD on the back burner and fast-track Charter change (Cha-cha) through a People's Initiative or Constitutional Assembly. An amendment to the constitution could then be introduced to allow Gloria to be in contention for Prime Minister or President without term limit after her current term ends in 2010.

But the Muslims should watch out. There is no guarantee that once Gloria has achieved her goal of staying in power beyond 2010, she could scrap the controversial MOA-AD and move to quell the MILF rebellion once and for all.

For the Muslims in Mindanao, it would be back to square one. For Gloria, her dream of an "Enchanted Kingdom" would come closer to reality. All she has to do next is look for the rest of Yamashita's gold and she can then live happily ever after in her "Enchanted Kingdom."

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Crisis can be a big blessing

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mediocre CEOs fear crisis. Afraid that the crisis will overwhelm them, they'll do anything to avoid it. This accounts for the "Quest for Status Quo" mentality or otherwise known as the "Let's not rock the boat" mentality that eventually demolishes corporations.

The quest for status quo runs counter to natural order. The wise man will know that everything evolves. The mode for coping with today's challenges is no sooner superseded by the need for a new coping mechanism.

The best CEOs will look forward to crisis and the opportunities that come with it. They know only too well the natural cycle — that the weapons of today, be it for war or peace, are no sooner rendered irrelevant by developments. It is natural for problems to outwit their solutions.

High solid walls used to protect cities from invaders, but that solution to a threat was rendered inutile after the canon was invented. Like the Biblical Jericho, city walls crumbled from artillery bombardment and invaders poured into the foolish cities that did not evolve another invasion remedy.

The defense layout of Corregidor would have been perfect to prevent the naval invasion force headed by US Commodore George Dewey when he fought the lopsided Battle of Manila Bay that forced Spain to turn over the Philippines to the US. But under the new reality of aircraft carriers in World War II, Corregidor hardly figured in the successful capture of the Philippines by invading Imperial Japanese forces in 1942.

It is through crisis that the best output is drawn from individuals and nations. The crisis that was spawned by the murder of Senator Ninoy Aquino on August 21, 1983 created the conditions that resulted in removing dictatorship and restoring democracy on February 25, 1986.

It would therefore do the Filipino a lot of good to look at the bright side of the current oil price and food price crises that are affecting the country.

It was on a delightful picnic near Stanford University in May 1979 when I had a most memorable discussion with a Czech-American — Ed Meko. Ed is a transportation specialist and the brother in law of Q Pastrana, the former president of an ad agency I spent many memorable years with. I eventually succeeded Q as president of the ad agency when he opted to join a multinational ad shop.

At that time, California was reeling from a gas crisis. Vehicle owners had to queue to get gas because of a supply shortage. For a state that did not prepare for mass transport, it was a mega nightmare.

But while everybody was complaining and comparing inconveniences suffered, Ed surprised me because he was happy that the gas crisis happened. When I asked him what was the blessing of the crisis, Ed said that it was the best thing that could have happened to a nation that was living in a fantasy land — the mindset that gas will always be available at the convenient price people are used to buying it.

Ed said that if not for crises like what happened during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 (when the Arab world lashed back at US support for Israel by raising oil prices to unprecedented levels that sent economies reeling from the shock) and the then current gas crisis in California ­— folks will never take cognizance of the need to prepare solutions for the future when oil becomes scarce and very costly.

I never forgot that wonderful insight from Ed and his message is simply more relevant today than when he first said it to me 29 years ago.

Thanks to the crises of oil and food prices, we are now seeing a new way of thinking in how our mediocre government is approaching food security and energy sourcing and generation.

Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo thought that she was being smart by opting to abandon the rice production program and resort to food importation. From a net exporter of rice, we have become a net importer. It took the food crisis and its concomitant threat to power for her to shift gears. Look at the mad scramble of Arthur Yap to revive the junked food security program.

We made the mistake of being so anti-Marcos and mothballing the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). It was understandable why we did that in the mid-1980s. There was the discovery that the BNPP sat on an earthquake fault line coupled with the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Now, 22 years later, with Marcos long gone, we are starting to view the BNPP with a new set of eyeglasses. We are now wiser that our neighbors have had successful experiences with nuclear energy and are inclined to use more nuclear energy while we, who would have been the first to have it in our region, is beginning to envy them for making the wise and bold move.

Thanks to the oil price crisis, we are now seeing a lot of vehicles being produced to run on alternative fuel — hydrogen the most promising of them.

The Mindanao Deep is known to have the biggest deposit of deuterium — concentrated hydrogen. This has been discussed since the 1980s and touted as the future of clean energy. Nobody ever ventured to develop deuterium because the cost would have been prohibitive. It was a great idea whose time has not yet come.
But with oil supplies dwindling and prices expected to keep rising as supply ebbs, crisis will prod capitalists to invest in deuterium development. When that happens, and assuming Mindanao remains a Philippine territory, our poor country will transform overnight from a borrower to a lender.
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Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ambassador Kenney – MILF coddler

(Herman Tiu Laurel / Infowars / Tribune column for 8-8-2008 FRI)

In 2003, I wrote a column entitled, "Kosovo in Mindanao," referring to the Balkanization of Serbia and Kosovo with the full backing of Western powers. With Kosovo having been part of the Serbian national territory, which functioned as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society for a thousand years, the latter fell apart when the US-British led Nato campaign broke it up. Undeniably, Western powers armed and funded the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to start its separatist movement. And here in today's Mindanao, the MILF's US, British and Malaysian allies are similarly backing this otherwise toothless group. True enough, when the MILF land grab was deferred by the Supreme Court TRO, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney quickly expressed deep disappointment.

"It's disappointing but not something you can't continue to work through," said Kenney on the heels of the aborted agreement-signing that would have granted a separate state to the MILF. Why is the US Embassy interfering in the country's internal affairs, particularly in this highly charged separation of part of the nation's territory? Indeed, the American ambassador has only proven that she doesn't have any qualms in showing her office's true intent in praising the most unpopular economic policies of Gloria like the rVAT and now, the sellout of Mindanao territories. Thus, US intentions are now exposed for what they are -- subversion to exploit and gain control of parts of Mindanao to loot our national patrimony.

For his part, Alejandro "Ding" Lichauco pinpoints the international oil powers, a.k.a. the Western oligarchy, as the ones trying to control Mindanao's riches. Why this huge interest? Liguasan Marsh in Central Mindanao alone holds 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas worth up to $600 billion. Likewise, oil deposits, connected to the submarine structures from which Sabah draws its oil and other fossil fuel resources, lay waiting in the Sulu Sea. These reasons, and more, should already prompt Filipinos to understand who the real enemy is.

The MILF is a mere shell, an empty cloth puppet with the hand of US-British and oil powers moving MILF Chairman, Murad Ibrahim, as well as, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and others in the "traitor class" like Esperon to do their bidding.

Some Filipinos just can't fathom the apparent stupidity of Gloria and Esperon in accepting this "peace agreement" that is not merely a virtual but an actual sellout of the Philippines. But more than that, I contend that this is a fait accompli the Arroyo government was presented with by Bush and company, an ultimatum for the sudden acceptance of Gloria's request for a visit to Bush last June, in exchange for the silent acquiescence of the US to whatever gimmick she may use to extend her term.

Hence, it's no longer a mystery why the People's Initiative (PI) and the Cha-cha started moving simultaneously underground as the GRP-MILF "peace agreement" rolled in Kuala Lumpur. That being the case, Satur Ocampo's ambiguous, non-condemnatory position on the US-MILF land grab also becomes suspect. Is the NDF in cahoots too?

Few Filipinos know that the US had delisted the MILF from its roster of terrorist organizations even while the latter and its different disguised affiliates like the Abu Sayyaf continued to sow various forms of terror in Mindanao's countryside.

Why then did the US do this, on top of having USAID through Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM) pour in "aid" in the tens of millions of dollars over the years and set up a shopping mall in Cotabato City and countless waiting sheds marked, "Donated by USAID," which, according to veteran Mindanao hand and former Mayor Jun Simon, smacks of a political campaign for US presence in these areas? Perhaps, a few hundred million in "aid" is dirt cheap considering the hundreds of billions of dollars to be tapped from Mindanao's riches?

Ostensibly, the MILF leadership is just a puppet paper tiger -- its fangs already pulled out in June 2000 by President Joseph E. Estrada and the AFP in the half-year "all out war" campaign, which resulted in the organization's complete rout, the GRP takeover of Camp Abubakkar among others, and the flight of its late chief Hashim Salamat to Kuala Lumpur. But all these were laid to waste in January 2001 when Estrada got deposed by a so-called "People Power II," which saw the instant resurrection of the MILF, the restoration of its camps, and the increase of its funds. Even more telling is that this power grab was actually a project of the US State Department, which had American corporate backing coursed through Cardinal Sin and the Makati Business Club.

In recent history, another instructive parallel to what's happening in Mindanao is East Timor. When Portugal withdrew from East Timor, Western powers allowed Indonesia to take it over to stop Marxist guerillas. Throughout Indonesia's rule, however, the West continued to support the guerilla movement, Fretilin, and raised human rights and independence issues on and on. When the West was ready to tap the East Timor shelf oil, it yanked Indonesia out then propped up sham democratic leaders like Jose Ramos-Horta. Then, when rebellions sprouted, Australia (the US-British deputy in the Pacific) sent in "peacekeepers," who now actively hunt down indigenous rebels opposing Australian control and those who demand a fair share of East Timor's oil resources for native East Timorese.

What action we take as a people on the Mindanao crisis today determines the fortunes of Filipinos for the next 25 years. If 40 years ago, the Jabidah project to regain Sabah had not been scuttled by inept intelligence trainers and the irresponsible exposé of Benigno Aquino, Jr., our nation would not have become the poor man of Asean today. Once we strengthen Filipino sovereignty over the trillion dollar resources of Mindanao, we will not only pay off our $60-billion foreign debt but have resources for development, growth and real prosperity for generations to come. We don't have to be poor, hopeless and doomed. Our dream of prosperity makes imperative our fight and triumph against the US, British and the local "traitor class."

This is the time to fight "The Last Revolution" against the MILF coddlers, especially since the US is losing South America, is muddled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, and has lost in Central Asia; with the local traitor class of oligarchs, corrupt trapos like Gloria, traitor soldiers like Esperon being utterly discredited. If we do not fight, we lose everything. In a hard fought victory, we gain everything -- "To arms then, countrymen!"

(Tune in to: Talk News TV on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 3, Tuesday at 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Kape't Kamulatan, Kabansa on 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; and Suló ng Pilipino every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the same station. Also, check out: http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)