Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The End Days

By Antonio C. Abaya

The world seems to be falling apart. A financial tsunami has been gathering momentum since the sub-prime mortgage industry in the US unraveled in July 2007, and now that tsunami threatens to devastate the entire banking and financial sectors of the capitalist system..

At the same time, natural disasters in the natural world seem to be increasing in both frequency and ferocity as earthquakes come one after another – Japan, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Iran in recent weeks - and hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones – different names for the same phenomena – cut swaths of death and destruction across Cuba, Haiti, the US, Taiwan, China, India and the Philippines.

And looming in the horizon is the threat of a wider war in the Middle East, especially if the Republican team, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, were to win in the Nov. 4 US presidential elections. Even at his lowest approval rating (28 percent), President George W. Bush has always enjoyed the support of the Christian Evangelicals, who see him as God’s agent in the evolving drama in the Middle East.

The choice of Sarah Palin – who is a Christian Evangelical – as the running mate of John McCain has energized the Christian Evangelical base of the Republican Party and there is a distinct possibility that the Republicans will win in November, bolstered by the Evangelicals’ belief that war in Iraq and the Middle East is, as Palin puts it, “part of God’s plan.”.

The other part of God’s plan, according to Christian Evangelicals, is the resulting destruction of Israel, biblically foretold in the Book of Revelations and therefore divinely ordained, from which 144,000 male Jews will be spared, who will convert to Christianity. This will be the signal for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, as I have mentioned several times in this space.

Click Christian Evangelicals the End Days Armageddon John Hagee on Yahoo or Google search engines and you will access thousands of articles such the following excerpts:: “Christian Zionists continue their agitation for attacking Iran as a way to hasten Armageddon, the end times. And the most prominent Jewish organizations continue to embrace Christian Zionists as supporters of Israel, which Christian Zionists believe will herald the end-times return of Jesus…” “While only 36 percent of all Americans believe that the Bible is God’s Word and should be taken literally, 59 percent say they believe that events predicted in the Book of Revelations will come to pass. Almost one of four Americans believes that 9/11 was predicted in the Bible, and nearly one in five believes that he or she will live long enough to see the end of the world. Millions of Americans believe that the Bible predicts the future of the world and that we are living in the last days….”” John Hagee and his minions have forged ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress, from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain. In its call for a unilateral attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory…..the Christians United for Israel has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainstream Christians, etc – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation….”

John Hagee: When 50 million evangelical bible-believing Christians unite with five million American Jews standing together on behalf of Israel, it is a match made in heaven….”

New York Times, Nov. 14, 2006: “For Evangelicals, supporting Israel is God’s foreign policy….”
Grace Haskill in her book Christian Zionism: “What Israel wants is what God wants…”
Gary North: “Supporting war and chaos in the Middle East is God’s will so that good Christians (and Jews who convert to Christianity) can go to Heaven without dying…”

Tens of millions of voting-age Americans really believe this, as do tens of millions of non-Americans around the world, including the Philippines, who subscribe to the ideology of the End Days and the blissful deliverance of Rapture.

The neo-cons led by VP Dick Cheney do not necessarily believe in what the Christian Evangelicals believe in – they are actually advised by think tanks made up largely of Jewish intellectuals - but they share a common goal: US military control of the Middle East (and its oil) and benefit from the intense beliefs and political clout of their allies.

On the other hand, Barack Obama may be the darling of the liberals, but he has no counter-argument to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Since we in the Philippines are half a world away from Jerusalem and the Middle East, how do we participate in the End Days and how do we witness the Second Coming? Will it be on CNN or the BBC or al-Jazeera?
Does it mean that Armageddon, the final battle between Good and Evil, will also be fought in the Liguasan Marsh, perhaps between rogue Kumanders Kato and Bravo of the MILF and the very last C-130 Hercules of the Philippine Air Force?

As the only Christian and Catholic country in Asia, don’t we Filipinos get some kind of special End Days dispensation, especially since our very own leader assures us that she was put in the presidency by no less than the Lord Himself?

And especially since, as one parochial Filipino writer recently assured us, we Filipinos are God’s Chosen People? Never mind the Jews. They will be wiped out anyway.

As for the promise that the world will be cleansed of evil, does it mean that Malacanang, the Batasan, the Senate, the Court of Appeals, the Office of the Ombudsman, the LTA Building, the GSIS, the Pagcor, the ATO, the Bureau of Customs, Port Irene, the BIR, the Immigration Bureau, the PNP, the AFP Logistics Command, Sulpicio Lines, the DOTC, the DPWH, the DILG, the MMDA, the Post Office, the Department of Agriculture, Philhealth, the pre-Melo Comelec, Neri’s NEDA, a certain resthouse in Tanay, Ben’s Hamborjer joint in Wacky Wacky and Imelda’s hideaway…..will all be reduced to ashes soon?

If the answer is yes, I say, “Let the End begin!” Gloria in excelsis Deo. May she stay there forever, in saecula saeculorum, with or without a constitutional amendment.. *****

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Monday, September 29, 2008

What national treasure has GMA not yet given away?

By William M. Esposo

In the deal that the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime entered into with China regarding the Spratlys, many Filipinos felt that she virtually signed over to the new Asian superpower our oil and gas reserves.

In the BJE deal GMA was about to ink with the MILF, with no thanks to US pressure, many of us felt that she was ready to give away Mindanao with all its rich natural resources and its very strategic location in the event of a US-China conflict.

Now, in the recently divulged deal that her Trade Secretary, Peter Favila, inked in 2006 with the same ZTE Corporation that figured in the controversial NBN deal — her regime is alleged to have violated the Constitution for having allowed a foreign firm to develop and operate a close to $1 billion gold mine in Mt. Diwalwal.

Other than these, under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo we have also lost the integrity of our democratic process after the 2004 Presidential Election, the credibility of our justice system (especially after appointing Raul Gonzalez to the DoJ and the recent Court of Appeals scandal), our national reputation before the league of nations as we have been continually listed as one of the most corrupt countries, our daily bread and bowl of rice as national food production is now incapable of giving Filipinos an affordable repast and even our faith in our religious leaders as some Bishops and Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have been perceived as protectors of the evil in the land.

Is there still anything the Filipino people will lose before we have seen the last of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo? Jesus Christ was crucified only once on the cross and endured intense suffering that lasted only one afternoon. What have we Filipinos done to deserve this “crucifixion” that now lasts for over 7 years?
Atty. Harry Roque has exploded a bombshell when he exposed the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Trade Secretary Peter Favila signed (under the authority directly given to Favila by GMA) with Yu Young of ZTE covering the EXPLORATION, DEVELOPMENT and OPERATION of mining areas in Diwalwal and in North Davao.

It is a bombshell because under the present Constitution, foreigners are not allowed to explore, develop and operate Philippine mining resources. Atty. Roque explained that foreigners can only participate as investors under the FTAA (Financial Technical Assistance Agreement) but not to explore, develop and operate Philippine mines.

Unlike the NBN-ZTE deal, where the GMA regime hid the contract, there is an existing MoU that is available to establish the violation — duly signed for the government by Messrs. Peter Favila and Michael Defensor (who earlier professed that there was no such document).

I was furnished a copy of that MoU (together with other documents) and I saw for myself the contents and signatures of the personalities Atty. Harry Roque named in his exposé.

One gold vein alone in Mt. Diwalwal is estimated to have close to $1 billion and there is more than just one vein there. This area is so rich in gold that it was included in the BJE despite the fact that the Compostela Valley is not contiguous to the Moro domain and is in fact a Lumad domain.

Per one of the documents I was furnished, the NRMDC-ZTE (NRMDC is Natural Resources and Mining Development Corporation, the original name of the now Philippine Mining Development Corporation) net proceeds sharing in the North Davao mines is set at 90-10 percent in favor of ZTE.

Imagine that — that is Philippine gold and the Filipino people will only get 10 percent of the net proceeds! I cannot help but ask who the GMA regime works for — is it the Filipino people or ZTE?

In the face of the hard evidence presented by Atty. Roque, Trade Sec. Peter Favila and Press Sec. Jess Dureza could only obfuscate the issue. They could not deny that the document was real or that its contents violated the Constitution.

Rather than explain how the Constitution’s ban on foreigners developing and operating our mining resources is not violated by their MoU which specifically states “EXPLORATION, DEVELOPMENT and OPERATION” of Diwalwal and North Davao mining areas — Harry Roque was accused of engaging in activities to try to demonize the GMA regime.

It is the classic rendition of ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM (going after the person instead of addressing the issue), as we learned in logic class. In one news report, Roque was even accused of doing these exposes because he supposedly plans to run for the Senate in 2010. Jess Dureza showed great irritation over the issue, forgetting that whoever loses his cool loses the debate.

I tell you, from where I sit, wrecking another chair, Jess Dureza is starting to make Toting Bunye look good! You and I would not have imagined that anyone could do worse than Toting Bunye when he presented the Garci tapes. It is bad enough to shoot one’s self in the foot. I thought Toting shot himself through the ass with that one.

Rather than meet the issue head on and present solid arguments based on legal grounds and facts, Favila and Dureza could only muster chutzpah. They presented a façade of bravado when they challenged Harry Roque to bring his case to court (Harry Roque is going to do that). It is either they are buying time, trying to diffuse the tension the GMA regime is undergoing already from the food and gas crises and the war in Mindanao or are confident of the case landing in a ‘friendly’ court.

What stinks in this ZTE mining deal (but is consistent with the character of the GMA regime) is the provision in the MoU that states that both parties “shall not reveal the content of this agreement or issue any press release or make any other public announcement pertaining to the projects contemplated.”

What are they afraid of? What are they hiding from the Filipino people?

Messrs. Favila and Dureza kept claiming during their presscon that there is no agreement yet, only a MoU. And yet when you get to read the MoU, AGREEMENT is mentioned all over the 6-page document.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Legalizing’ Jueteng

by Perry Diaz

Like the popular “transformer” toys, the illegal numbers game — jueteng — has transformed by way of bureaucratic legerdemain into a legalized game called “small town lotto” or STL. But the game hasn’t changed a bit, it is still jueteng. The only difference is that the jueteng lords are raking in more money.

STL is a government-sponsored numbers game administered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Launched in 1987 during the time of then President Cory Aquino, STL failed for a variety of reasons. It was shelved in 1990. In 2005, in the aftermath of the jueteng scandal which implicated some members of the First Family –one of whom was referred to as the “Lion King” by whistleblower Sandra Cam — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Edward Hagedorn, the Mayor of Puerto Princesa, as National Anti-Jueteng Task Force czar. Hagedorn advocated for the revival of STL. He was convinced that STL was the right tool to stamp out jueteng. With optimism and great expectation Hagedorn set a deadline — September 15, 2006 — to totally stop jueteng in the country.

In reaction to the STL revival, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the chairman of the “Krusadang Bayan Laban sa Jueteng,” said that STL was meant as a “shameful substitute for jueteng.” He said: “just the same it is also a corrupt and corrupting numbers game as jueteng. It was already tried before and proved to be a big failure.”

Recently, jueteng made the front pages again when Auxiliary Bishop Lucilo Quiambao of the Diocese of Legazpi City in Albay alleged that PCSO employees were also working as jueteng collectors for the local gambling lords. He suggested that the government should investigate the PCSO employees if the government was indeed serious in stamping out jueteng. But how can the government — or to be more precise, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo — stop jueteng when her “kumpadre,” town mate, and political benefactor is reputedly the biggest jueteng operator in the country. To my knowledge, jueteng in Pampanga and the rest of the country has never been better during Gloria’s presidency. Ironically, it was the jueteng scandal during Joseph Estrada’s presidency that catapulted Gloria to power in 2001. Indeed, corruption begets corruption.

In Albay, the only STL operation in the entire province — and all of Bicolandia — was franchised to the Pilipinas Pacific Rim Corp. (PPRC) on November 29, 2006. Within a year, allegations of fraud were made that the STL operation was just a cover up for jueteng. It is interesting to note that PCSO granted the STL franchise to PPRC on the latter’s representation that it will use STL to combat the jueteng operation in the province. Nothing was farther from the truth. Once STL became operational, the number of jueteng “comadors” — or bet collectors — increased substantially, a clear indication that jueteng thrived under STL.

STL is supposed to generate revenue for the government. There are three draws everyday at 11:30 AM, 4:30 PM and 9:15 PM. The STL franchisee is supposed to remit the proceeds as follows: 5% to the provincial government, 10% to the local governments, 4.5% to the local PNP (police), 0.5% to the national police, 2.5% to the three congressional districts, and 7.5% to PCSO. PPRC keeps the lion’s share — 70%. But here is the stinger: it was reported in the news last year alleging that PPRC was “raking big money from the Albayanons while only a pittance is being remitted to the provincial government” by manipulating the remittance reports. The STL operation in Albay rakes in about P500,000 daily. That’s a whopping P182.5 million a year!

The plot thickens when Sandra Cam accused PPRC of not properly declaring its income from STL. Cam claimed that falsified bet collection reports were widespread in more than 15 provinces in Luzon, particularly in Albay. She criticized Gov. Joey Salceda for failing to act on the “doctored” collection reports. She also alleged that Salceda and three other Bicol governors — Sally Lee of Sorsogon, Jesus Typoco Jr of Camarines Norte, and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur — were responsible for the jueteng revival in their respective province. In a surprise move, Salceda reacted and issued a directive to stop STL in Albay. He instructed the provincial police director to relay his directive to PCSO to stop all STL operations in his province. But PCSO defied Salceda’s order. Meanwhile, Malacanang has been quiet about the whole scandal.

Three years after Czar Hagedorn declared war on jueteng, jueteng is still alive and kicking with vigor. The people continue to bet on jueteng or STL… or both. It wouldn’t matter whether they’re betting on jueteng or STL — what difference would it make other than gambling away their hard-earned money. And it wouldn’t matter whether it’s legal or illegal. It’s a social disease and there is no known prescription to cure it. None yet.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Canceling Trip is a Lie

by Frank Wenceslao

If Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has a glaring character flaw, it’s her propensity to lie that would overshadow whatever achievements she claims during her presidency.

The Philippine News Service reported that Arroyo had canceled her U.S. trip this month because of worsening security situation in Mindanao. This is a lie like her promise not to run for reelection in 2004.

There’re at least two plausible reasons for canceling the trip according to Pamusa volunteers in Washington DC on condition of anonymity.

Firstly, the Bush administration re-imposed a ban on Arroyo to enter the United States under “No Safe Haven” policy to prevent corrupt public officials to enjoy the fruits of corruption and for human rights violation. This was temporarily lifted to enable her to meet with Bush and present a secret protocol to the Memorandum on Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with the MILF.

Secondly, to avoid deportation Jocjoc Bolante is making a deal with FBI to tell all about the misappropriation of the PhP728-million ($14.5M) fertilizer fund the Philippine Senate conclusively found to have been authorized by Arroyo and diverted to her 2004 campaign.
Corollary to the second is FBI has begun investigation of Pamusa’s charges against Arroyo and U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney for conspiracy to commit public corruption in connection with the MOA-AD.

Arroyo’s hypocrisy is nauseating using the security situation in Mindanao for canceling her trip when she embarked on a 10-day visit while the country was being battered by typhoon “Frank.” She didn’t cut short the trip despite the sinking of M/V Princess of the Stars whose over 800 crew and passengers perished.

From an objective standpoint this month’s U.S. visit is more important than Arroyo’s June trip.
She’s attending the 63rd United Nations General Assembly meeting which is an opportunity to rub elbows with leaders of industrialized countries and sell the Philippines as investment destination. Same with former President Clinton’s second international forum which may be better attended this time by government and private sector leaders all over the world that Arroyo could invite to invest in the Philippines.

Arroyo could also remove the stumbling block to the Philippines’ eligibility to a $300 million Millennium Challenge Corporation’s loan to fund specific programs targeting at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.

Last but equally important is Arroyo’s acceptance to be the keynote speaker of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) on its 8th National Empowerment Conference in Seattle from Sept. 26 to 28. This is a unique opportunity to interact with Filipino Americans and other overseas Filipinos attending the confab from all over the world interested to hear Arroyo how they can help their homeland.

The truth is the Bush administration saw through the MOA-AD as no more than Arroyo’s ruse to prolong her presidency whose legitimacy Bush has never acknowledged that other countries have aligned with causing Arroyo’s consternation that led to her China initiatives.

Arroyo must have thought of spiting the Bush like Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez’s dalliance with Russia. Arroyo agreed to the joint petroleum exploration of the South China Sea islands which China that they’re compelled to include Vietnam to our country’s detriment that in retrospect may be unconstitutional.

Of course, still fresh in people’s minds is the Chinese $8 billion loan to finance big-ticket projects such as Northrail, Southrail, ZTE-NBN, Department of Education Cyberspace, etc. which are overpriced that brought down Comelec chairman Ben Abalos.

Romulo Neri and Jun Lozada made the ZTE-NBN deal pure cans of worms to already smelly Arroyo administration. Another ZTE deal this time in mining has added another can of smellier worms.

Meanwhile, in commemoration of Pamusa’s second anniversary last Aug. 9 the organizers, supporters and volunteers (helping on condition of anonymity) had an exchange of ideas how to go forward. We’ve resolved to change Pamusa’s governance and anticorruption (GAC) strategy and fully exploit the USDOJ’s recognition for Pamusa to participate in President Bush’s International Initiative to Combat Kleptocracy implementing U.N. Convention Against Corruption. The evidence Pamusa has and would uncover will enable FBI to investigate conspiracy to commit public corruption under U.S. laws.

However, instead of running after businessmen who’ve that diverted illicit gains from corruption to economic activities, Pamusa would help the next President minimize graft and corruption by targeting nefariously corrupt current and former public officials, their immediate family members and close associates including private co-conspirators such as contractors that defrauded the government with overpriced procurement and service contracts that did not comply with specifications, tax evaders, smugglers, jueteng operators, those engaged in organized crimes, etc. for which no amicable settlement will be allowed.

Pamusa would seek their prosecution under U.S. laws almost surely RICO alongside with qui tam civil action to recover ill-gotten assets from the proceeds of corruption hidden anywhere in the world to be turned over to the Philippine Government.

Businessmen are asked to donate to Pamusa for this new GAC strategy and, as quid pro quo, it won’t initiate action against them in the U.S. provided they negotiate out-of-court settlement of unlawful gains, to wit:

(1) Submitting an accounting of the original values of unlawful gains; and

(2) Pamusa would ask President De Castro if GMA steps down soon, or whoever is elected if she stays until 2010, to allow those concerned to continue holding in trust unlawful gains as preferred stocks in their companies including dividends retroactive to acquisition dates and future accruals until a settlement framework is approved by the next President.

Of course, we can’t catch all nefariously corrupt. It is sufficient that examples are set with some sent to jail, ill-gotten assets forfeited and families impoverished and stigmatized to instill fear among the general population that graft and corruption is punished.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pax Americana II

By Antonio C. Abaya

Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 07, 1941, the United States of America was basically an insular power that had little or no interest in imposing its will on the rest of the world.

Of course, even before that date, the US was already beginning to stir as a potential world power. In 1823, it unilaterally issued the Monroe Doctrine, warning European powers to stay away from Latin America which was then undergoing revolutionary upheavals against the obsolescent colonial power, Spain.

In 1867, fresh from its own bloody Civil War, the US bought Alaska from the Russian Empire for the sum of $7.2 million. In 1898, the US annexed the then independent republic of Hawaii, on the instigation of American fruit growers who had settled there.

In 1898, egged on by the then Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt – “Speak softly but carry a big stick” - the US declared war on Spain, using as pretext an explosion on board the USS Maine in Havana harbor.

As spoils from that war, the US grabbed Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam from Spain. The US paid Spain the sum of $20 million for the Philippines, after robbing Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his Philippine Revolutionary Army of the fruits of their victory against Spanish colonial rule.

In 1912, using a strip of land grabbed from Colombia, the US completed and opened the Panama Canal, which allowed its emerging navy – Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘big stick’ – to shift from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans, and vice versa. Cuba was allowed its independence in 1902, the Philippines in 1946. But Puerto Rico and Guam continue to be American territory, serving as sentinels of American hegemony in the Caribbean and the Pacific, respectively.

In 1917, the US entered the Great War in Europe – later known as the First World War – as a result of the sinking of seven US merchant ships by German U-boats. The entry of US troops into the stale-mated Western Front accelerated the defeat of Germany. But after victory was achieved, the US brought its troops home from Europe.

It was the Japanese attack on the US fleet in Pearl Harbor that can be said to be the beginning of Pax Americana I, in the sense that it spurred not only the entry of the US into what became known as the Second World War, but also in the sense that it mobilized the entire American economy into a war economy, to supply not only its own wartime needs but also the needs of its traditional ally, the British, and even its temporary ally, the Soviets.

It also propelled its armed forces to engage the enemy – the Japanese, the Italians and the Germans – all over the world: the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian oceans; Southeast Asia, the South Pacific islands, North Africa, Italy, Normandy, the German homeland, and eventually Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And unlike in the First World War, the triumphant Americans did not go home after victory was achieved, but instead have stayed on and on, in Asia as well as in Europe, and have even entered into other theatres of operations – Turkey, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Korea, Vietnam – to confront the new threats posed by international Communism as promoted by the Soviet Union and Maoist China.

The Americans emerged victorious over the Communist challenge, with the peaceful (except in Romania) de-communization of Eastern Europe in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the re-transformation of China into a capitalist country, These events underscored the triumph of American economic and political values and capped Pax Americana I. Just as Pax Americana I started with a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Pax Americana II can be said to have started with another sneak attack, this time against the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington DC, symbols of American economic and military power, respectively, on September 11, 2001.

In a bizarre turn of events, the neo-conservatives, who are the chief architects of Pax Americana II, actually wrote in their manifesto of September 2000 – one full year before 9/11 – that for their objectives to be accepted by the American public, they needed “a new Pearl Harbor.” Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda Islamists unwittingly provided that “new Pearl Harbor,” which became the justification for going to war against Islamic extremists.

Foremost among the neo-cons’ objectives was/is to “establish full military control of the Middle East,” which explains the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, possibly soon, Iran. The goal, of course, is to control the oil. It is no coincidence that VP Dick Cheney used to be CEO of oil giant Halliburton, that George W. Bush was CE0 of two smaller Texas oil firms, and that Condoleeza Rice used to be connected with Chevron, (One Chevron tanker is named after her.)

Pax Americana II may achieve strategic victory if and when Osama bin Laden and/or his deputy Ayman al-Zwahiri are/is killed or captured, and the neo-cons want to achieve that victory in the weeks before the Nov. 4 presidential elections to ensure the triumph of the McCain-Palin team and, through them, the continuation of the neo-con agenda.

Which is why there have been a flurry of missile attacks by pilotless Predator drones in the past 10 days on targets in the Afghan-Pakistani border where the al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be hiding, despite the angry protests of the Pakistani government about the unauthorized intrusions into their air space and their territory, and despite the collateral deaths of dozens of Pakistani civilians. The Americans couldn’t care less. They want Osama’s and Ayman’s heads, no matter the costs.
. .
So where does the Philippines fit in Pax Americana II? We have the dubious distinction of .being the nexus where the al-Qaeda tectonic plate and the oil tectonic plate converge, and where therefore the neo-cons are trying to re-arrange the map to serve US interests under Pax Americana II, if need be with a minor earthquake here and there.. The US needs permanent bases in Mindanao-Sulu-Basilan to monitor the activities of the al-Qaeda franchise holder in Southeast Asia, the Jemaah Islamiyah, as well as the activities of the Chinese in the possibly oil-rich Spratly islands. Additionally, there is probably oil and gas in the Sulu-Tawi-Tawi area since their continental shelf is part of the oil province of oil-and-gas rich North Borneo.

But it is not possible to get those permanent bases as long as the quarrelsome politicians in Manila hold all the cards. If the Bangsamoro were to be made into a federal state, with its own right to enter into agreements with other sovereign states, then it can be convinced to allow permanent US bases in its “ancestral domain.”
Which is probably why the US has been wooing the Bangsamoro since at least 2003 and why US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has been shuttling back and forth to Mindanao, supposedly 20 times in the past 12 months. The US has found in the Bangsamoro an ally that it can work with, to achieve its strategic goals in Southeast Asia as defined by the neo-cons, as long as the Bangsmoro do not resort to terrorism.

In a prescient article that he wrote in August 2006 (and which is included in toto in Reactions to “Mindanao Peace or in Pieces”), Italian journalist Fabio Scarpello reported on conversations between the United States Institute for Peace and the MILF for the establishment of permanent US bases in MILF-controlled territory in Mindanao.

Said Eid Kabalu, MILF official spokesman, in one interview with Scarpello in Cotabato City: “We have nothing against the Americans. As a matter of fact, in our 30-year struggle, we have never hurt (even) one American. If they help, they are welcome.”

Although the Americans make pro forma references to the government in Manila as their ally, my sense is that they have decided that the Philippines under Gloria Arroyo is a lost cause that is best left for the Chinese to corrupt to their hearts’ delight.

Are we hearing right? The Arroyo government has awarded a contract for 90 per cent of the gold output from the Diwalwal mines in Davao to a Chinese firm named ZTE Corp. Why does that sound familiar? Pax Sinica begins here and now, in Malacanang.. *****.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Prescription for Cancer

While the pervasive political graft and corruption amidst us is a disgrace to our nation and our people, a rape against all of us, those officials who obviously accept and practice them, and those who support this social cancer, are worse than the malignant crooks themselves. Their perverted senses of right and wrong, of justice, crime and punishment, are pathologic and sickening.

Take the case of Governor Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, a penniless priest, who won the election fairly and squarely against two well-entrenched “unbeatable’ powerful kingpins with well-funded political machineries in his province. In spite of his proven integrity, honesty, transparency and accountability, and glaringly obvious love and compassion for his constituents, his province, and his country since he took office, Governor Panlilio is being targeted by his enemies and their misguided supporters who are trying hard to punish him and oust him — through a failed recount, now a recall, and as rumored, possibly (God forbid), through “requiem.” (This last option would be the greatest and the gravest blunder the opposition could make.)

The question is: Why are some people now punishing a moral and law-abiding leader who is fighting graft and corruption, and allowing criminals to go free and unpunished, unabated in their plunder of our cities, provinces, and the nation, as more than 30% of our people are languishing in poverty? This is, indeed, extreme perversion and a mockery of justice! Aren’t we supposed to punish the criminals and reward the law-abiding citizens, and not the other way around?

This problem is not only of Pampanga and of the kapampangans. This is a problem for the entire Filipino nation. What is bad for Pampanga is bad for any other province in the country. What is good for Pampanga is good for the entire nation and the Filipinos in general. Let every Filipino, wherever he or she might be, rally behind Pampanga and its great people. The Pampanga experiment is an effective prescription for the political cancer that is ravaging the entire country

The Filipinos in the Philippines and around the world have the moral and socio-civic obligation to support men of caliber, moral fiber, compassion, and incorruptible integrity like Governor Panlilio, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, Ifugao province Governor Teddy Baguilat, Jr., Naga City Mayor Jesse M. Robredo, San Isidro Mayor Sonia Lorenzo, San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, and all other political leaders in the likes of them, and socio-civic champions like Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga, and aid in the national rebuilding of our beloved country, to a new nation, a just, honorable, and compassionate one, where war is waged, not against good people but against corruption and poverty, one which we and our children and the future generations can cherish with honor, dignity and pride within the international community of nations around the world.

To our fellow Filipinos, at home and around the globe: Let us start a revolution, not a revolution of arms, where blood shall be shed, but a revolution of ideals and principles, where our sweat and tears shall bathe the nation clean.

The power is in our hands, and the grasp, within our reach. Indeed, Kaya Natin!

The window of opportunity is here. Let’s unite and go for a miracle. Our ailing nation and our suffering people deserve one.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS
Filipino United Network (USA)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The God Particle

By Antonio C. Abaya
September 11, 2008

If this essay manages to see print on September 11, it means that the world has not come to an end, as some have feared, on September 10.

On this day, European and American physicists working at the CERN – Conseil Europeenne pour la Recherche Nucleaire or European Council for Nuclear Research – will turn on something called the Large Hadron Collider, a ring-shaped underground particle accelerator, 27 kms in circumference, located near Geneva, Switzerland.

What in the world is a particle accelerator, and why would anyone want to accelerate particles anyway?
Particle accelerators, known earlier as atom smashers, have been a standard tool of nuclear physicists long before the development of the nuclear or atomic bombs that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In their early versions, atom smashers accelerated particles, like positively-charged protons, to high speeds in order
to smash the nucleus of a heavy atom like, say, uranium.

The debris that resulted from the controlled smash-up, described by the arc that they blazed in a magnetic field, told physicists what lighter atoms resulted from the break-up of the heavy uranium atom, as well as the energy, if any, that was released in the process.

Without atom smashers or particle accelerators, there would have been no atomic or nuclear bombs, and there would have been no nuclear reactors that peacefully generate electricity.

And just in case anyone will draw a cautionary tale from this and wag his or her finger at the Americans for having atom-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it should be pointed out that one of the prominent pioneers in nuclear research then was a Japanese physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in, I believe, 1936. And of course there were other Nobel Prize winners among the physicists in Nazi Germany, many of them Jewish who managed to escape, mostly to the US, before they could be rounded up for the gas chambers.,.

The implication is that if the Japanese militarists or the Nazi Germans had developed the nuclear bomb ahead of the Americans and the British in the Manhattan Project, they would have atom-bombed New York, London, and/or Los Angeles just as readily as the Americans did Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But I digress. In the next few weeks or months, the scientists at CERN want to accelerate protons to speeds up to 99.9999 percent of the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), using the Large Hadron Collider. One stream of protons will travel clockwise, another stream of protons will travel counter-clockwise. They are theorizing that the collision of protons will shed some light on some unanswered questions in theoretical physics.

Critics warn that the collision, which will last for a mere fraction of a second, may create tiny “black holes” which could eventually grow to the point of swallowing up Planet Earth. Black holes are phenomena in space in which entire galaxies are swallowed up by dying stars. They are called black holes because their gravitation pull is so strong that not even light can escape from their vortices.

The scientists at CERN also hope to find a sub-atomic particle that has only been theorized by physicist Peter Higgs of Scotland, called the Higgs boson, also known as the God Particle. Higgs’ boson is supposed to explain what gives mass to matter. By replicating what they think were the conditions in the cosmos at the time of the Big Bang, scientists hope to uncover the secrets and early processes of the universe..

I do not claim to understand quantum mechanics or the String Theory, but some four decades ago I developed my own cosmology.

In my cosmology, there is no beginning and there is no end. Four decades ago, astronomers and physicists were divided between the Big Bang theory and the Steady State theory as the most logical explanation of the cosmos. In time, the Big Bang theory won out, and the CERN experiment seeks to find out what happened during the first billionths of a second after the Big Bang, from which the rest of the cosmos is said to have evolved..

But even if they were to find that out, it would still leave unanswered the next logical question of what happened, or what was there, before the Big Bang. In my cosmology, this question is not the final riddle because there is no beginning and there is no end.

In classical physics, it was believed that matter and energy were separate entities that could not be created or destroyed, one into or from the other. But in relativistic physics, it is accepted that matter – or more correctly, mass – and energy are two aspects of the same reality, expressed in Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2..(Sorry, but I do not know how to click exponents on the computer.) The energy of a quantity of matter is equal to its mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light.

In my cosmology, there is no beginning and there is no end because mass is constantly being transformed into energy, as in black holes; and energy is constantly being transformed into mass, as in Big Bangs. It is a process that happens and has happened all through time all throughout the universe, of which we know only a fraction, even with the most powerful optical and radio telescopes.

But even with this limited empirical knowledge, I find it hard to imagine space where there is nothing, not even light from distant galaxies. Where there is nothing, there is also no time, time attaining a reality only from the movement of celestial bodies relative to each other.

The CERN scientists believe that the collision of high-speed protons may reveal not only the God Particle, but also the existence of as many as11 dimensions, seven more than what we are aware of : length, width, depth and space-time. And the key may be, in my cosmology, the presence, origin and behavior of anti-matter.
The matter that we know in our daily lives is made up of atoms with nuclei of positively charged protons and neutral neutrons, around which orbit negatively charged electrons. But scientists know from their experiments that there is also such a thing as anti-matter, which is made up of the mirror opposites of matter: negatively charged protons and positively charged electrons (called positrons). Scientists also know that when matter and anti-matter collide, they annihilate each other, producing pure energy.

In my cosmology, there are both matter and anti-matter in the cosmos, and when they collide –as they possibly do more often than we are at present aware of – they annihilate each other and produce pure energy which scientists have not yet fully learned how to track.. There is no beginning and there is no end.
While we are waiting for our matter to collide with anti-matter, we can while away the time by reading Dan Brown’s other novel, Angels and Demons, which he wrote before The Da Vinci Code. In this other novel, which has the same hero, Robert Langdon, scientists at CERN – the same CERN which is now preparing to end the world, according to their critics – have created a quarter of a gram of anti-matter which they have stored inside a special magnetic canister. (See my earlier article Angels and Terrorists, April 06, 2005.)

A rogue scientist steals the canister and brings it to the Vatican where the College of Cardinals is being convened to elect a new Pope. Here the real villain threatens to release the anti-matter (and blow up the entire Vatican) if his evil scheme were not given play.

Instead of the Priory of Sion, this novel has another secret society called the Illuminati. And instead of an albino monk from the Opus Dei, it has a malevolent papal chamberlain or camerlengo. And instead of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre, it has statues by the 17th century sculptor Gian Carlo Bernini located in various places around Rome, where clues are cleverly hidden and deduced by the hero…

Angels and Demons is scheduled to be released as a movie sometime in the spring of 2009. That is assuming the scientists in the real CERN do not inadvertently feed Planet Earth into a Black Hole soon. *****

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What, me worry?

By William M. Esposo
Sunday, September 14, 2008

“What, me worry” was the assigned motto of Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD Magazine central character that was created by Harvey Kurtzman in the 1950s.

MAD Magazine was a creative satire of what happens in US society and the “What, me worry” line was intended to underscore the gravity of certain situations that contrasted with the idiocy of people who are oblivious to what can be very detrimental to them.

Thus, when there was a very real possibility that a nuclear war is looming in the horizon — such that happened during the John F. Kennedy era’s Cuban Missile Crisis — Alfred E. Neuman, with his missing tooth and blank stare will react with “What, me worry.”

The image of Alfred E. Neuman keeps popping up in mind lately as I witness the pitiful state of the Information Gap that prevents our people from appreciating the full extent of the crisis that confronts our country today. Filipinos are too focused on thinking about where to get the next meal and do not realize at all that they may soon be dragged into a state of civil war or lose a major part of Philippine territory in order to serve the geopolitical agenda of a superpower.

Professor Emmanuel Q. Yap reminds us of Webster’s definition of an idiot as one who does not know the truth and Professor Yap is right in saying that there are many idiots in our country today. Not all the idiots of Philippine society come from the lower socio-economic strata of society. A lot of them are also in the upper and middle classes. In other words, idiocy or the inability to know the truth is a national mental problem.

One of the sectors that are infected with idiocy is Philippine media. Despite all the indicators of a US hand in the promotion of the BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity), Philippine media has generally failed to bring the issue to the level of discussion and debate that it deserves. It’s as if media are saying “What, me worry.”

Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has gone from all-out war to all-out concession with the MILF with the only explanation for that extreme swing being that of US intervention. Which publication placed that US intervention story on its page 1 banner headline?

Media focused on the scandalous deal that was kept secret from a nation that was about to lose its territorial integrity but hardly ferreted out the superpower central player who made that deal possible. Media were hot on phantom sightings of US troops fighting with the AFP against the MILF when all logic pointed to the US supporting the MILF.

It’s as if Philippine media are saying “What, me worry” if a superpower is maneuvering to deprive Filipinos of a sizeable chunk of Mindanao.

Based on known reserves and current production, the Oil and Gas Journal stated that the US will run out of US oil in 11 years while China will run out of Chinese oil in 14 years. Both the US and China will have to rely on imported oil.

That is why the US is in Iraq (you’re really an idiot to believe that they are in Iraq to introduce democracy there) and are angling to be in Iran. After Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq have the largest reserves of oil. That is why — despite the fact that the US has been trying to depose and kill him — Condi Rice was recently in Libya courting Muammar Khadafi for Libyan oil. That is why China is using its economic clout in Africa — to secure African oil to fuel China’s economy.

Now if the US is willing to eat humble pie, swallow its pride and send its Secretary of State with a begging bowl to Libya’s Khadafi — even if Libya is not even a major source of oil like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran — it does not take a genius to figure out what the US will be willing to do to be able to corner the oil and gas in the South China Sea which is estimated to be more than what Iraq and Iran have.

And what about our so-called leaders, what have they also done to check the US hand in the making of the BJE? The most I’ve heard from is not even in government now — former Senate President Frank Drilon — who warned that the US may be planning to do a Kosovo in Mindanao to serve its geopolitical agenda. Under the guise of entering as “peacekeepers” — the US and its allies took control of the lignite mines of Kosovo. After oil, lignite coal is said to be the future of energy and Kosovo has enough lignite coal to last for centuries.

What about Senator Panfilo Lacson who is ever so quick on the draw — how come not even a whimper has been heard from him about this serious threat against our sovereignty? What about Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile who was ranting months ago against American Chamber of Commerce businessmen, threatening them with fire and brimstone — how come he has not denounced at all this far more serious case of US intervention?
Is it because they do not know the truth? Are they idiots, as Webster described, or are they no longer that brave when it is a superpower with a CIA at its beck and call that they are dealing with? In the case of Sen. Lacson, is his non-interest in this issue founded on the fact that most Filipinos do not have this issue on their radar screen and this issue therefore does not serve his presidential ambition?

Remember how the British reacted when the Argentines took over the Falklands in the 1980s. The Falklands hardly contributed to the UK economy and was simply a case of UK pride and sovereignty. Yet, the British sent an armada to regain the Falklands.

Here, national pride and sovereignty appear to be tradable. At least that is how it has appeared under the present regime — China in Mt. Diwalwal and in the Spratlys, the US in Mindanao via the Visiting Forces Agreement and now the BJE. But insofar as our so-called leaders are concerned, it is simply “What, me worry.”

Our middle class, supposed to be the promoter of change in society, they are more engrossed on belaboring to death the same graft and corruption and Charter change issues that has gotten us nowhere simply because their statements are not matched by political will and numbers. The middle class is supposed to be the intellectual upper class of a country. But here the middle class is largely populated too by idiots — folks who do not know the truth.

We could lose Mindanao — “What, me worry.” We could be the battleground for a US-China conflict arising from their need to control the last remaining big source of oil and gas in the world — “What, me worry.” Filipinos could end up fighting a civil war with each side not knowing that they are proxies of a superpower — “What, me worry.”

Ah, but then, Filipinos can always pray.

* * *
Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: and

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cast Away The Shame

Jose Ma. Montelibano

S.1315, the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act, is less about money and more about respect. The bill which seeks to have Filipino war veterans of WWII recognized and compensated is grating to Filipino pride. It seeks to redress a wrong of more than six decades, which means that America had not, and does not, consider the Philippines, Filipinos and Filipino-Americans (Fil-Ams) important enough to please.

In the whole scheme of things, the monetary part of the bill is not an objectionable amount that can unduly burden America. What is spent in Afghanistan and Iraq shows what the US can either afford or force itself to afford because of its perspective of national interest. Afghanistan and Iraq posed no direct threat to the United States when the United States decided to invade and depose of their governments. Terrorists are everywhere, and if the United States wishes to disable terrorism aimed at it, there will not be enough American soldiers to invade and occupy countries where anti-America terrorists are located.

The Japanese would have been considered terrorists too if terrorism had been defined during World War II. So would have been the Germans. Japanese and Germans bombed both military and civilian targets and caused much more damage than 9/11. To resist them when they attacked, to bother them with guerrilla warfare after American and regular Filipino soldiers had surrendered, and to drive them away with the liberation forces of MacArthur, Filipinos fought and died. Many of the veterans who survived were heroes but now virtual beggars.

Why do they beg? Why do Fil-Ams beg for them? Why push what the majority of US lawmakers have resisted? Filing a bill which seeks to redress a wrong of decades was humiliating enough. It meant that America did not consider the sacrifice and courage of Filipino war veterans of equal value to those of their own - even if both had fought as brothers of the same cause and of the same territory considered by the US as its responsibility.

There are many who claim that there are more than 3 million Filipinos in the united States. One hundred dollars each from 3 million Filipinos, even on installment, can provide the war veterans more than what the S.1315 asks for. And what about 90 million Filipinos in the motherland, and the government that represents it? One hundred pesos each can honor and provide for the survivors and their families. Why beg?

We beg because we have become used to carrying our shame. We beg because our convenience or our comfort is more important than out honor. Worse, we may be begging because we are afraid to stand up and reclaim our self-respect.

I read one email from a community leader in San Diego which contained so much frustration at the apathy that Fil-Ams show over the veterans benefits issue. He asked if Fil-Ams can get angry enough over 62 years of injustice to surviving lolos and lolas, just like they were angered by a racial slur by one TV performer in one show? I can feel his intense disappointment at his own people. I even share it because it is a weakness not only of Filipinos who went to American but of Filipinos who stayed home as well.

What have we become that we can carry our shame so easily we may not recognize it as shame any more. Shame might be turning out to be like the poverty afflicting tens of millions of Filipinos - so prevalent over so long a time that it has become part of the national landscape. We have lived with it shame too much that it has ceased to be a burden and is now being assimilated as part of our national character.

Poverty. Corruption. Shame. These are a people’s cancers. They corrode our souls, blight our virtues, dis-color our strengths. We see our fellow Filipinos existing in squalor and filth, scavenging, surviving like rats. Yet, we hardly feel for them anymore. When we severed our sympathy and empathy for them, when we tolerated their suffering and pain, we dishonored ourselves. When we accept corruption as a way of life, as a trait of governance, when we tolerate dishonesty and abuse from our leaders, we choose to be slaves in relative comfort rather than freemen standing up for their values. When we bear with shame and fear lieu of seeking respect and honor, we abdicate conscience, abdicate adherence to right over wrong, abdicate the purity and dignity of creation and our human souls.

It is then foolish to push the veterans equity bill knowing the lawmakers we ask to pass the bill for the benefit of war veterans do not hold us in high regard, in any regard which approximates importance and value. If they had that in the first place, the rightfulness of the cause of the surviving Filipino war veterans would have long been the justification of a law recognizing and compensating the heroism of these veterans. Perhaps, instead of begging in the US Congress, we can simply go into self-reflection, chew on our propensity to live in shame, and decide whether we wish to go on like this or seek the courage to be honorable.

The way to honor might be a serious campaign for awareness among Fil-Ams, and then among Filipinos in the motherland and around the rest of the globe, awareness at the plight of the war veterans and the shame of having to beg the US Congress, awareness of the squalor we force the poor in the homeland to live in, aware of the embarrassingly low standards for ethics we choose to live by. We can start with one hundred dollars, in installments if necessary, for each Fil-Am for our war veterans, for one hundred pesos, also in installments if needed, for each Filipino for our war veterans. We can withdraw S.1315 and show US lawmakers, and the government of the Philippines, that Fil-Ams and Filipinos will begin a journey to value the sacrifice and heroism of Filipino war veterans and, hopefully, rediscover our national pride.

Then, we can turn our eyes from war veterans to impoverished Filipinos at home, accept the shameful way we treat them, and atone for our grievous wrong by embracing them as equal in worth and dignity, worthy of everything we can do from hereon in to release them from hell.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why GMA needed Chavit as Deputy NSA

By William M. Esposo
Tuesday, September 11, 2008

Something is not right with the appointment of Luis “Chavit” Singson as Deputy NSA (National Security Adviser).

No, it is not that Chavit is not qualified to be Deputy NSA, as Joseph “Erap” Estrada had alleged. Obviously, Estrada is sour grapes and still smarting from Chavit’s Juetengate Expose which led to his ouster.

Chavit has more qualifications to be NSA – not just Deputy NSA – than Estrada ever had to be Senator. And it further demeans the presidency to even consider that Estrada was qualified to be president. His track record, the economic downturn, the loss of confidence in the Philippine peso and stock market, the deplorable work ethic and so forth all underscore the disgrace that was the Joseph Estrada presidency.

Roy Golez, a competent former NSA, shares the view that Chavit is more than qualified to be NSA. In Mafia lingo, Chavit is what can be called a war time consigliore.

What does not seem right about Chavit’s appointment as Deputy NSA is the placement of someone who Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) owes a lot in a mere sub-cabinet position. Chavit deserves to be no less than a National Security Adviser.

GMA gave Tito Sotto and Ralph Recto top agency positions. Yet, these two are not owed by GMA even half of what she owes Chavit Singson. GMA owes her ascendancy to Chavit. Other than that, in Philippine traditional politics, nobody delivered an entire province better than Chavit Singson.

GMA, as you know, is addicted to the patronage game of traditional politics. She does not care much for what the people think so long as she retains the support and cooperation of the traditional politicians.

So, with all his political assets, how come Chavit only lands the Deputy post in an agency where he is more qualified than the present NSA? GMA may not exactly be known for her gratitude but one thing she is not is stupid.

There is something definitely bigger in this NSA appointment than what many are seeing or shall we say – are failing to see. It has to do with the altered equation that is rooted to the US agenda in Mindanao that your Chair Wrecker has exposed in several columns.

With a superpower (the US) playing a major agenda in Mindanao, with GMA having failed to deliver on that US agenda with the scuttling of the MoA-AD and the abolition of the GRP – a National Security Adviser like Norberto Gonzales with suspected “closeness” to the US is the last thing that GMA needs.

If your memory is good, you will remember that NSA Bert Gonzales was grilled by the Senate for facilitating the funding by a US front organization – Venable – allegedly to revise the Constitution. Who can forget that banana eating episode and subsequent hospitalization of Gonzales? I can appreciate the rise in his blood pressure. Accepting foreign funds in order to alter the Constitution is a serious offense, treason some may want to call it.

The comments on ABS-CBN of NSA Bert Gonzales upon hearing the appointment of Chavit is quite revealing. He could only offer the remark that he will always follow the president. To me, the verbal and non-verbal language suggested reservations about the Chavit appointment.

Because of the US threat, GMA needed someone with her full trust and confidence, someone who she feels can stand up to the superpower pressure and not sell her down the river. Chavit enjoys that confidence.

In the superpower geopolitical game, you cannot wait for the usual verifications and confirmations. You have to be street smart and read the direction that the superpower is taking which is based on their greatest needs and imperial designs. To this day, it has not been verified if indeed the US blew up the Maine in order to establish cause for declaring war against Spain and grabbing Spanish territories which included the Philippines.

If you wait for the so-called evidence or proof, then you’ll likely end up like Ngo Ding Diem of South Vietnam and his corrupt wife – very dead. Ngo Ding Diem was receiving manifestations of support from the US up to the day he was ousted and killed in a largely suspected CIA-engineered coup.

Up to the morning of the day when he was ousted, the Reagan regime was still expressing support for Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. All that changed before 7:00 pm of February 25, 1986 when Marcos was told to “cut and cut clean.”

During the almost successful December 1, 1989 coup attempt against Cory Aquino, there were Americans sighted in the administration camp and that of the rebels. This much I was told by our then PSG. The rebels having failed to seize power within the first 12 hours of the coup, it was then that the US condemned the rebellion and sent those persuasion flights to force the rebel forces to stand down.

In the USIP Report (The Philippine Facilitation Project, 2003-2007), on page 13, second paragraph, it was stated: “Further, because of her political liabilities, she (GMA) has not obtained a critical mass of support from the military, the economic elites, and the larger public. Her flexibility to make decisions that work against the entrenched, parochial interests of some individuals and groups may be limited. Scandals have buffeted her family and she has spent much of her energy fending off impeachment attempts.”

That GMA has not obtained a critical mass of support from the military certainly refutes the regime’s proud boast that there is only an insignificant minority in the AFP that is against GMA.

Just imagine GMA’s nightmares these days. What happens if the US operatives decide to stir that agitated segment of the military against her? With that at the back of her mind, just how comfortable do you think GMA will be with the thought that her present NSA may be “too close” to the US?

To compound GMA’s woes, all this comes at a time when her satisfaction and trust ratings are at an all-time low. It will take very little to destabilize her.

In this context, we can appreciate better why Chavit was appointed Deputy NSA. Napoleon once said that where the enemy deploys his bigger force is where the enemy feels most vulnerable.

Chair Wrecker email and website: and

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mindanao Peace or in Pieces?

By Antonio C. Abaya

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) was a ploy to break up Mindanao into two or more pieces.

And if that MoA-AD had been signed, as planned, last August 5, the chief beneficiaries would have been the Bangsamoro, as represented by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who would have attained the pre-requisites of a separate state – territory, army, separate laws, separate government, separate economy, international recognition – and the US, which would have been rewarded by the grateful Bangsamoro with permanent military bases from which to monitor the activities of the Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Malaysia and the activities of the Chinese in the Spratly islands, as they have been doing in the past six years..

Left holding the proverbial empty bag would have been the stumblebum government in Manila which will be rewarded with some lollipops in the form of ancient hand-me-down fixed-winged aircraft and helicopters to replace those which its pilots have been crashing to the ground or into the sea with alarming frequency.

It has been pointed out by media that, contrary to the provisos in the 1987 Constitution, “visiting” American troops in Mindanao-Sulu-Basilan, supposedly to support Filipino troops in the war on terror, have been “visiting” continuously for the past six years.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita explains that this was so because American soldiers take turns serving six-month terms in the area and are constantly being replaced by other soldiers. “And since they all look alike, it looks as if they never leave.”.(Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sept. 07, 2008)

But, of course! Unlike the US soldiers in their permanent bases in Japan, South Korea and Germany, who have been continuously garrisoned there since the end of World War II in 1945 and are being replaced only as they die of old age.

Now that President Arroyo has, correctly, disbanded the GRP peace panel headed by retired General Rodolfo Garcia, and has refused to continue negotiations with the MILF “at gunpoint,” the next logical step would be to appoint someone else as presidential adviser on the peace process, to replace retired General Hermogenes Esperon, who should be appointed ambassador to Myanmar.

The next peace adviser should not be another former military general and should be someone from Mindanao, either Christian or Muslim, either male or female. If President Arroyo is grooming former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson to replace Esperon, she should forget it. Singson is not from Mindanao and does not come with credible bona fides.

President Arroyo should choose from a short list prepared by concerned groups, to which I would nominate Adel Tamano, Irene Santiago, Amina Rasul and Margie Moran, aided by a battery of constitutional lawyers..

But President Arroyo should lay down the rules of the game, to which the new peace adviser and the new GRP peace panel must strictly adhere; otherwise, no go.

Chief among these rules should be the condition that any agreement must conform to the letter and spirit of the Constitution. In other words, no thinly disguised Trojan horses in which ChaCha dancers can hide and jump from at the first opportune moment, to perform their song-and-dance once they are inside Congress..

If President Arroyo can live with this limitation, she will convince one and all that she does not intend to stay in power beyond 2010.

(But even as I write this, House Speaker Prospero Nograles is floating the idea of amending the Constitution supposedly so that investors from the Middle East can be convinced to invest in mega-projects in Mindanao, such as a trans-Mindanao railway, on the grounds that the 40-60 constitutional limitation on foreign ownership discourage Middle Eastern investors from investing in Mindanao.

(Here we go again! And this is not even supported by empirical evidence. There are dozens of mega-corporations in the US, the UK and Germany – and no doubt elsewhere - in which Middle Eastern investors have invested hundreds of billions of their petrodollars without insisting on 100% ownership.

(Nograles is just sucking up to the GMA Forever bandwagon, like Gov. Joey Salceda, like Sen. Nene Pimentel, like thousands of congressmen, governors, vice-governors, mayors and vice-mayors, who are being enticed with additional years in power without need for re-election, if they will only dance the ChaCha.

(Nograles’ additional rationale that Middle East-financed infrastructure would be spared attacks by Muslim rebels is also not supported by empirical evidence. There have been hundreds of cases of oil pipelines, oil refineries, hotels, civil works, entire apartment blocs, even mosques, being blown up by fellow Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Somalia, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, etc as Sunnis battle Shias, and secular Muslim governments fight off fundamentalist Muslim rebels. Nograles should read more foreign news.)

To get back to the stalled peace process, any resumption of these talks should not be held in Malaysia as Malaysia has a vested interest in the dismemberment of the Philippines. Malaysia has not forgotten and will never forget that President Ferdinand Marcos tried to launch an invasion to grab Sabah or North Borneo from the Malaysian Federation in the 1970s. For the Malaysians, the dismemberment of the Philippine Republic would be the sweetest revenge for such a hostile and unfriendly act.

If we must talk with Bangsamoro rebels abroad, let the venue be in Indonesia. Indonesia has its own problems with separatist movements (East Timor, Aceh, Irian Jaya, etc) and would not be hospitable to separatist movements in other, neighboring countries.

And finally, there is the matter of ancestral domain. Who has rightful claims to ancestral domains? Muslim settlers from what are now Indonesia and Malaysia did not come to these shores until the 14th century. Before them, these islands were populated for centuries by animist tribes whose descendants are the present-day lumads and other mountain tribes like the Aetas.

It is the descendants of the animist tribes who can rightfully claim ancestral domains, like the aborigines in Australia, the Inuits or Eskimos in Canada and Alaska, and the various Indian nations who were dispossessed of their ancestral land when settlers from Europe came to North America starting in the 16th century.

In the case of Mindanao, the early Muslim settlers had grabbed the ancestral lands of the lumads, and their descendants in turn were dispossessed of these lands by successive waves of Christian settlers from Luzon and Visayas.

How to untangle this web is a Herculean task. But it has to be attempted, but without giving away the family jewels. Peace in Mindanao or Mindanao in pieces!. *****.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

What Price Peace

by Perry Diaz

In her fervent desire to have peace in Mindanao, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went to the extent of secretly forging an agreement that would virtually cede a huge portion of Philippine territory to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The treaty would have expanded the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) into a virtual state within a state replete with all the functions and authority of a sovereign and independent state.

But, in a twist of fate, the day before the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) last August 5, 2008 in Malaysia, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order in response to several petitions claiming that the treaty was unconstitutional. What followed next was a tragedy of error that cost lives and property in Mindanao.

In the aftermath of the public uproar over the attempt to partition the country, Gloria decided to scrap the controversial MOA-AD. She also dissolved the government’s peace panel negotiating with the MILF. Basically, it’s back to square one for the peace process. And, worst, Mindanao is now in a virtual state of war or, to be more precise, a civil war between Muslim Filipinos and Christian Filipinos. In reaction, Mohaqher Iqbal, the MILF’s chief peace negotiator declared, “The peace process is now in purgatory.”

One might wonder if Gloria could have done better to achieve a lasting peace in Mindanao. In my opinion, yes! she could have done better to achieve peace without dividing the country and pitting the Muslims and Christians against each other, particularly in the ARMM region.

ARMM was established in 1989 through Republic Act 6734 pursuant to the 1987 constitution which mandated its creation. It consisted of the predominantly Muslim provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi. ARMM is headed by an elected Regional Governor and has a unicameral Regional Legislative Assembly headed by a Speaker.

Although ARMM is not a perfectly “autonomous” body, there is much to be desired to truly fulfill the mandate of the law that created it. Like the government that begot it, ARMM is, to say the least, congenitally corrupt. The recent ARMM elections, while generally peaceful, was marred by anomalies and irregularities. The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Foundation, which was accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), reported vote-buying and what it called “a culture of corruption.”

What MOA-AD would have accomplished was anything but peace. As a matter of fact, it already has started the opposite — war! For the first time in the past 30 years, the spectre of “jihad” — holy war — looms in the horizon. The snafu created by the Arroyo government has angered leaders from both sides of the conflict: the MILF militants were incensed because they considered the MOA-AD a “done deal” while Gloria and her henchmen were frustrated because they were stopped by the Supreme Court a day away from signing the agreement.

With 500,000 people already displaced by the war and increasing daily, peace has once again eluded us. All the work built up in the past three decades by government peace negotiators were blown to smithereens — a setback that would take time and effort to rebuild.

Now, that the “peace process” is back to square one, it’s time for the government to take a hard look at what it would really take to achieve peace. In my opinion, any peace formula that doesn’t address poverty is doomed to fail. Religious differences are not the issue. They can be bridged. But as long as the people are mired in poverty, there will be no peace in Mindanao.

Mindanao, with its rich natural resources is being exploited by profiteers. The local population — particularly the Muslims — have been relegated to second-class citizenship. The Arroyo government is lacking in programs that would alleviate the plight of the Muslim poor. Giving the Muslims an “ancestral domain” is meaningless unless there is a sincere attempt — not the usual lip service — to develop the economy in Mindanao.

In its June 2008 survey, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed that self-rated poverty in Mindanao rose by nine points, from 59% to 68%. In comparison, Metro Manila rose from 44% to 51% and Balance Luzon from 48% to 53%. The hardest hit was the Visayas from 47% to 66%. However, poverty in the ARMM region was the highest in Mindanao.

The polls would tend to support Gloria’s critics who have been saying all along that she neglected the Visayas and Mindanao, favoring the ruling elite based in Metro Manila. Indeed, the strongest supporters of federalism — or partitioning — come from the Visayas and Mindanao. Their complaints have been ignored by Gloria whose dole-out programs have caused more resentment among Visayans and Mindanaons.

Indeed, the price of peace in Mindanao is more than just giving the Muslim Filipinos their “ancestral domain.” As long as the Muslim Filipinos are treated as second-class citizens and kept in perpetual bondage, peace will never blossom in Mindanao. The seeds of discontent have been sowed and have taken roots in Mindanao. The bottom line is: peace can only be achieved in Mindanao if the people saw real economic progress in the ARMM region. And if real progress was made, autonomy or statehood becomes moot. The Muslims would opt to remain in the Philippine republic


Thursday, September 18, 2008

reformer’s cross

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines­. The election of Catholic priest Fr. Eddie Panlilio in 2007 as governor of Pampanga province was nothing short of phenomenal. Although “Among Ed” won only by more than a thousand votes, his triumph signified for many Filipinos a watershed in the country’s political life, a stunning breakthrough in the longstanding quest for good governance. Overnight, Among Ed became the sensational personification of reform.

The two candidates he defeated­ one, the wife of a reputed gambling lord and the other, the incumbent governor himself, the actor-son of an actor-senator­ not only represented the twin faces of traditional politics. They were also, not surprisingly, the closest political allies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who traces her roots to Pampanga.

Among Ed’s first few months were marked by a dramatic achievement that conveyed the simple message of reform. He organized a group of citizen-volunteers to streamline and strictly enforce the collection of government fees from the quarrying of lahar material. (For many years a curse, deadly lahar flows from the slopes of Mt. Pinatubo had left a rich deposit of gravel and sand on Pampanga’s rivers. This lahar deposit has become the main source of the provincial government’s revenues.) Governor Panlilio achieved the unthinkable: he collected in three months the equivalent of what the previous administration of Mark Lapid collected in three years.

Today, just a little more than a year since the priest-governor took office, people are wondering what is happening in Pampanga. There is a movement to recall Among Ed as governor. Among its signatories are about a dozen Catholic priests from the province, who made a show of signing the recall petition at a press conference.

As an observer of Pampanga politics, I do not assign any positive value to this recall movement. Behind it are politicians closely identified with the defeated candidate, former Lubao town mayor Lilia “Baby” Pineda. At best, its claim is ambiguous (“loss of confidence”); at worst, it is too much like the pot calling the kettle black­it reeks of hypocrisy. Similarly, no one is impressed by the behavior of the priests who signed the petition. A number of them were sighted a few months ago in Malacañang, soaking the beleaguered Ms Arroyo in prayer after it became known that she distributed cash to governors and congressmen who were invited to have breakfast and lunch with her. Among the perplexed recipients of the cash gifts was Governor Panlilio himself, who told media about it. Moreover, it is no longer a secret in Pampanga that the tentacles of the underground lottery “jueteng” have long reached the door of the Catholic Church.

But what I take seriously is the clear-headed call for reform coming from the same civil society groups that organized the campaign to make Among Ed governor of the province. One of these groups is Kapampangan Marangal Inc. (KMI), an association of professionals, business people, and religious leaders who lent their time, effort, and meager finances to jump-start the ragtag quixotic campaign to elect Among Ed.

KMI firmly rejects the recall initiative against Governor Panlilio and urges the elected officials of the province “to heal the wounds of divisions through dialogues and peaceful negotiations.” In its statement “No to Recall, Yes to Reforms,” the group calls on their governor:

(1) to ensure a system of checks and balances, instead of concentrating decision-making in the hands of his provincial administrator;

(2) to give substance to his pledge of economic empowerment for the poor in order to wean them away from dependence on jueteng; and

(3) to observe due process in the handling of allegations of corruption against the volunteers who were instrumental in raising lahar tax collections to phenomenal levels. These underpaid volunteers are currently on strike to protest their summary dismissal by the provincial administrator without the benefit of a fair investigation.

When Among Ed decided to run as an alternative candidate in 2007, I knew he had embarked on a difficult crusade. When he won, I had hoped that his training and background as a priest would not be a hindrance but rather a resource he could tap. It now looks to me that he did not have a full appreciation of what it means to be a reformer.

In one encounter with him as a friend, I reminded him that the work of a reformer is an ironic one. Its main purpose, I remember telling him, is to destabilize the old norms and demonstrate the viability of a new way of doing things. But the most challenging part, I said, is achieving this by working as much as possible within the culture, rather than against it.

It is my impression that this man of the cloth brought to his position not just good intentions but also an insidious form of moral righteousness that suited him more for a scorched-earth type of crusade than for politics as we ordinarily understand it­i.e., the art of compromise. This mindset inclines one to uniformly treat every instance of opposition as an arena in which to wage war against evil, rather than as an invitation to find a common ground. This is the worst attitude one can ever bring into politics.

Last week, in her acceptance speech as recipient of the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, Isabela province’s Governor Grace Padaca said something along these lines: We cannot afford to fail when we cast ourselves in the role of reformers. If we fail, the failure is more than personal. It often kills hope in reform itself.

If Among Ed fails, it will be a long time before the concerned citizens of Pampanga can again believe in the possibility of peaceful reform. That is the bigger tragedy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Discernment and nationalism

by Herman Tiu Laurel

The past week of skirmishes between the AFP and so-called “lost command” elements disowned by the MILF shows the inanity and futility of negotiations with these so-called “insurgents.” The MILF will not even feign control because these groups are clearly moving in cadence with its political agenda — this time committing atrocities so grave as to make the international headlines. Moreover, the MILF has never consolidated under its wings other Bangsa Moro factions such as the MNLF, the Ampatuans and the Dimaporos, because they have all objected to its claims. So what is there to negotiate with the MILF then? Verily, capitulation calls by such miniscule groups as the “Black and White Movement” only serve to follow the US-MILF-GMA conspiracy.

As the days pass and debates rage over the Arroyo-MILF MoA issues, the stronger the arguments against appeasement and capitulation become. The MILF has been exposed as an empty phantom claiming as its “force” elements that it cannot command, and the “ancestral domain” proposition has been shown to be a vacuous conception, indefensible in moral and historical terms. The best argument we have heard is from our reader and radio volunteer Ka Ferdie who said: “If we are trace the ancestors who first established a high level of civilization in this archipelago, (these were) the Sri Visaya and the Majapahit empires in the first and second millen(nia) that were not Muslim nor Christian but Buddhist, Hindu and Animist in religious orientation.”

Domains and property concepts mutate through historical evolution but in the end, these are fixed by the social, economic and political imperatives of the times. The original migrations to the archipelago tens of thousands of years ago, like those of the Aetas and Negritoes, do not count in the “ancestral domains” claims at all because these have become impotent cultures. As new migrations arrived taking over the rich agricultural lowlands, the old communities retreated to the hinterlands, which had no value until the Industrial Revolution started the rush for minerals and ores. And now that even marshes and seas are coveted for natural gas and oil, Western energy and political powers have begun to redefine such domains to circumvent the need to deal with national entities.

The main question for the Filipino people in the aborted Arroyo-MILF MoA is: Shall we allow hundreds of billions of dollars of natural resources that form part of this nation’s wealth to be taken away from the many citizens of this country and given to foreign greed and a few self-serving bandit-leaders for their own aggrandizement? We should have asked this question even earlier, when the Mining Act was being reviewed by the Supreme Court, which finally decided to give it away to foreign interests. But the issue was not as highlighted as the Arroyo-MILF MoA because it did not involve a bandit group passing itself off as a “state” and claiming large tracks of land where Christians had properties and interests, like in Zamboanga and other cities, which really inflamed the Christians there.

From all accounts, the MILF is only a paper kris as shown by the numerous times the AFP has demolished this so-called force. But behind it is a real power in its staging of the geopolitical wayang kulit on the Mindanao stage — the US. And so the paper kris waves about menacingly even when it signifies nothing. Time and again, history has shown that the so-called Muslim insurgency cannot sustain itself without direct support from the US and its agents as in the Michael Meiring episode, which implicated the CIA in the Davao bombings of 2003 and Operation Greenbase, where junior officers were ordered to grenade Muslim mosques. Thus, the real enemies of peace and stability in Mindanao are the foreign powers.

I am deliberately repetitive in citing the Michael Meiring incident, where the FBI whisked off the American bomber back to the US, prompting Davao Mayor Duterte to tell Ricciardone, “I just would like now to make it clear, to inform…the US Ambassador and some morons there in the national government who are handling these FBI agents that you better not do that again here or I will have you arrested,” as well as, the Operation Greenbase exposé as these are crucial to discern what is really happening in the tense areas of Mindanao. Those preaching capitulation to the MILF never discuss these pivotal moments of subversion and terrorism because the only power that can overcome this foreign menace is the power of nationalism.

On my Destiny Cable TV interview last week with retired Commodore Rex Robles, he said: “I know this will sound corny but the answer to all the problems is ‘Love of Country’.” Right away, I caped it off with, “When the Filipino people begin to think of country in terms of their bunso (the youngest child in the family), their grandchildren and great-great grandchildren and their future, then it will not be corny anymore.”

The Sabah we lost to the Malaysians gave them the wherewithal to build the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, so let’s not lose the Liguasan Marsh and the Sulu Sea wealth this time around. I also make this appeal to the AFP leaders and men for in the end, it is they who will help decide if we remain an impoverished vassal or become a rich and free nation.

Grudgingly, the AFP is still cause for both hope and frustration. For if there are nationalist military leaders like Gen. Danilo Lim, there are also careerists and opportunists who have surrendered their souls to foreign powers, repeatedly abandoning their nationalist comrades whenever the US bars real change by throwing its support to any one of its corrupt local puppets.

We must henceforth learn from South American military-backed nationalist movements, like in Venezuela, which engaged their civilian populations in decades of political education and have now won their liberation from US imperialism. For this reason, the November 29 Movement and this columnist are starting the “Free Danny Lim” movement to symbolize the new AFP and its nationalism.

(Tune in to: Talk News TV on GNN, Destiny Cable Channel 3, Tuesday at 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with guest Atty. Alan Paguia on the MoA-AD; 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:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cry For Mindanao

Jose Ma. Montelibano

What lies ahead for Mindanao? Being a land of promise where many have found not only wealth but built business empires, Mindanao has also been cursed with violence, exploitation and neglect. Today, after all the painful experiences of centuries, lessons remain unlearned. Today, we move towards another round of hostilities, another round of death and destruction, another generation introduced to their violent inheritance.

It is simple that it only shows how fear and anger can cloud even the usually more reasonable. When there are no threats of land being confiscated, or control of resources being transferred from government to Muslim hands, Christians are quite intelligent, and peaceful. But, at the same time, this intelligence and peace may be grounded on the worst of platforms – forgetfulness. That forgetfulness becomes a blinder and a powerful cause for another eruption of conflict.

It is not the law that Muslims hold in greatest importance, it is their hunger for Bangsamoro. When the majority of Muslims follow the laws of the land, it is not respect for them but fear of reprisal should they disobey. Their obvious numerical inferiority to Christians in the islands of the Philippines motivate Muslims to be submissive, but that submissiveness if only on the surface. The not so hidden truth is that Muslims keep dreaming of Bangsamoro and it takes little to move them to act.

A reader wrote me after reading my last article and asked me to prove that ancestral domain land belonged to the Muslims as these are now legally owned by Christians who occupy them. I was taken aback by the question because his suppositions reveal an ignorance of history. One century is almost the present, and it should not be difficult to track major events or developments that happened in the 1900’s.

Mindanao today is peopled mostly by Cebuanos, Ilongos, Ilocanos , and Tagalogs – among all others who came from all over except Mindanao. These non-Mindanaoans now own most of the land that is not considered public. That means they were sold land by government because no other group has titles to land which had all been confiscated in the name of the king of Spain. Only the king or his authorized representatives could have titled any or all the lands because no native of our motherland had any title before Spain.

The original owners of the lands which were confiscated never got back their lands. Down the line, some may have been fortunate enough to have bought land from new landowners, mostly beneficiaries of grants by the Spanish crown and those who inherited their lands. But the original owners, the people of the islands now known as the Philippines, remain mostly squatters who have no legal right to be anywhere in the country.

The exceptions are Muslims who resisted the invasion of Spain, America and Japan. Even if they, too, lost most their lands to the different governments in the last four centuries, Muslims would rise in defiance or rebellion. Because they resisted, Muslims can now claim as ancestral domain all lands torn away from their ownership and control. In truth, all Filipinos can claim ancestral domain against government because government is only a beneficiary of the fruits of invasion, occupation, and exploitation. But since they did not rebel or resist like the Muslims, the Muslims can have priority in reclaiming their lands.

When the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity was suddenly dropped to the general public, the United States was seen as the broker of a negotiated peace which many Christians refuse to honor. The United States is a distraction here. Its presence poured salt on open wounds, but its absence would not have made the BJE acceptable. The enmity between Christians and Muslims is the environment that dominates, and the forgetfulness of Christians is the cause why they cannot understand the context of Muslim sentiments.

The deadly attacks of two MILF commanders on innocent barangays triggered counter attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The MILF leadership refuses to surrender the concerned commanders, and that posture increases the odds for war and less for more negotiations. Without recognition of a historical context that makes the belligerence of the MILF understandable even if unacceptable, there will be no other option but another war, another
serious disturbance of an already disturbed and weakened people.

Around us, the world is sliding deeper into a greater fear syndrome. As economies tumble, and others slow down, war rages in several countries and terrorism in even more. Insecurity accompanies global warming and the world is darker despite being made smaller by technology. Some light is provided by knowledge but light does not shine brighter until knowledge turns to
wisdom. As the Georgian conflict stokes once more an American-Russian distrust which has had not enough time to dissolve, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan remain hot flash points for global insecurity.

Economies have lessened dependence on tangible commodities which serve man’s needs and comforts and increased addiction to speculative trading which make mincemeat of floating currencies. What Filipinos work so hard from can become almost worthless as global greed overtakes global concern for one another. There are so many sharks in the oceans around us, yet we choose to fight one another as though we can afford it.

With the attitudes Christians and Muslims alike have taken, violent confrontation is almost inevitable. As the MILF and the AFP will engage in another protracted war, terrorists will go shopping for easy and high-profile targets around the country. Philippine society will build another pre-martial law scenario and, perhaps, allow Gloria her intensely-sought extension by doing a Marcos Part II. We are inside a vicious cycle that we are about to strengthen all the more.

Our only hope for peace and for meaningful change is to seek freedom from our mindlessness, to reconnect to a past to learn its lessons, to build a new culture of honesty and integrity, to recover diligence and discipline, to pursue a vision of nobility and honor. Or wait until our exhaustion from bloodshed and panic forces us to call a time out..

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