Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Child Prostitution - Asia’s Sickness (Part One)

By Fred C. Wilson III

“As the gap between the rich and poor grows wider, destitute Asians are increasingly selling their most valuable property: their children.”

- Alex Perry: Time Magazine of Asia-

Shocking Statistics

Imagine children thirteen or younger being forced to have sex with as many as 20 to 50 men a night. The ten year old Indian girl living in Mumbai (Bombay) who told her captors that premarital sex was wrong and refused to engage in acts of sexual depravity; to break her will she was placed inside a tiny closet and left for four days with no food nor water in the dark her only companion a venomous cobra trained to strike and kill her if she moved the slightest. The horrified child was released only after she agreed to their demands. The child was previously ‘purchased’ from her impoverished parents.

Do poor Asian children want to sell their bodies for sex-NO! They’re forced into prostitution by poverty and once ‘in’ getting ‘out’ is next to impossible. Even if they do exit the sex trade they’re mentally and emotionally ruined for life. Take the case of the little Cambodian orphan girl who was rescued from sexual slavery by an American couple on holiday in that Southeast Asian country. They fed the girl, bathed her, gave the child decent clothes and tried legally to take her to America only to have the Cambodian government refuse the child’s exit visa on grounds of some bureaucratic technicality. Not discouraged the kindly couple tried to adopt the orphan but no amount of paperwork or pleading swayed hard-hearted Cambodian officials. Eventually the couple left Cambodia once their vacation visa expired. The child was subsequently recaptured, gang raped, then brutally murdered. Her former captors dismembered the girl and tossed her bloody body parts in the streets to scare other child prostitutes from running away. Similar scenarios are taking place as you read this article and the problem is getting worse by the hour!

Why is child prostitution in Asia commonplace and growing: poverty that ancient enemy of humanity and sexual depravity among Western men with too much money and too little morals. Here are some grim statistics:

According to the July 26, 1997 edition of the Philippine Daily Enquirer there are over 375,000 women and children in prostitution, most of them are aged 15 – 20, are from semi-rural and urban backgrounds and have been victims of incest and sexual abuse. With the economic situation in the Philippines growing grimmer by the hour this number is undoubtedly much higher.

Thailand’s Natural Healing Path study of child Prostitution says: Brothel agents travel into the rural areas of North Thailand and look for virgins they can buy or ‘rent’ from their parents. Often they lie and tell parents that their daughters will work in Bangkok’s hotels or at otherwise respectable jobs while in reality they will be selling their bodies as often as several times daily to make pimps money. Once the girls are enslaved there is no escape. They are lucky if they are not beaten or killed. The girls will see none of their money. The pimps keep it all to make girls pay their upkeep. Pimps charge them room, board, and the initial money that was paid to their parents. The report went on to say that one young girl had been locked in a room and forced to ‘serve’ upward to ten men a day; the girl was only eight years old!

On assignment to Cambodia ABC News Blogs Senior Foreign Correspondent Jim Sciutto said that girls young as 9 – 13 work in Phnom Penh as prostitutes. In the Cambodian capitol alone there are well over 1,000 child prostitutes. Some child sex peddlers use such brutal policies as beatings, slitting tongues, and electrocution to arrest any thoughts of escape by the children.
In high-tech India a survey conducted by the Indian Health Organization of a red light district in Mumbai (Bombay) revealed that:

· 25% of the child prostitutes had been abducted and sold.

· 6% had been raped and sold.

· 8% had been sold by their fathers after forcing them into incestuous relationships.

· More than 20,000 girls between ages 9-20 years old are brought every year from Nepal to India to work in Mumbai’s brothels.

· 5% to 18% of Mumbai child prostitutes are adolescents between 13 and 18 years old.

· Of the 200,000,000 people worldwide who are suffering from sexually transmitted diseases some 50,000,000 live in India!

Odd Girl Out

In Japan it’s ‘odd girl out.’ In the super-rich Japanese economic giant young girls sell themselves voluntarily. It’s called: enjo kosai meaning compensated dating. Japanese girls as young as 9 through 16 offer sexual acts to middle-aged men in exchange for money, fine clothes, jewelry, electronic gadgets, and other so-called modern ‘necessities.’ Child prostitution in Japan is voluntary and a high tech ‘industry’ as girls seeking clients advertise over Internet message boards, street posters, cell phones, magazine and Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) ads along with other modern advertising methods. According to World Magazine the practice of enjo kosai is exploding.

Sex Tourism in Asia

Child sex is ‘big business.’ The multi-national sex industry gross millions of dollars each year and the market is growing rapidly. Children are kidnapped, sold into sexual slavery, and then resold on line by unscrupulous traders in human flesh. It’s as if slavers of old have gotten new leases on life only this time it’s trading little children. A few years ago my wife and I booked a flight to Bangkok, Thailand. To our surprise one early evening in the central business district of the Thai capitol young girls were being sold on table tops at busy intersections to the highest bidders and that was in 2003!

This writer has been traveling to Asia annually since 1997. During a recent visit to Manila a ‘friend of the family’ treated me to dinner one night at a popular steak house. As we were leaving the San Fernando Steak House (real name withheld) he insisted that I sample some live entertainment. Having an idea what he had in mind I tried to beg out insisted on spending the evening either at home or taking in a movie at the Megamall Shopping Center. He was adamant and insisted that I come with him. I again tried to suggest alternative forms of entertainment. He laughed hysterically and acted like a kid who broke a favorite toy. What could I do? It was night. I was in a foreign city, couldn’t speak Tagalog, and didn’t know one street from the other. I was in no position to argue further.

We arrived at our destination minutes later. He parked in front of The Dynamic (real name withheld) Disco Theater. This was one of those night clubs where patrons do everything but dance. As I left the car I couldn’t help notice the small parking lot teaming with luxury vehicles of every description. Well armed guards in formal white barong tagalog (the official formal attire of Philippine men) frisked us with hand held metal detectors before letting us proceed further. Satisfied that we were unarmed and not police officers, they escorted us inside. The place was huge and packed with patrons. Seconds later we were greeted by an attractive woman wearing a brown waitress uniform. She escorted us to our table near the runway. I was shocked! I didn’t know what to say! Taking our seats glancing towards the runway there was a procession of at least 500 of some of the most beautiful girls on earth! “Wow!” I said thought, “I have died and went to Heaven.”

Leading from the stage was a runway that ran up center aisle that formed a ‘T’ in the middle of the huge auditorium. Walking along the runway were gorgeous Asian women! They were clad in the skimpiest of thongs, string bikinis, see-through panties, micro-miniskirts, leather…well…you get the picture. Officially the girls were ‘modeling’ a mere technicality to legally keep the place open. About 15 minutes into the ‘performance’ our waitress returned to our table then politely introduced herself with: “Good evening gentlemen. My name is Mona and I’ll be your hostess for tonight,” focusing her attention towards me she asked, “Sir what kind of woman will you be having tonight-big a–, big t—s, nice…” She offered me a verbal sampling of who was on the ‘menu’ and carried a restaurant request book to take our ‘orders.’ I politely thanked her. In a state of confusion, arousal, and mild shock, I gazed up toward the ‘runway’ parallel with our table. I noticed that many of these young girls appeared to be underage. Some of them were weeping as they paraded themselves before eager patrons. Seeing the underage girls made me sick to my stomach. I fled towards the comfort room with my ‘friend’ laughing his head off.

-To be continued-

“Opportunity may knock once, but temptation
bangs on your front door forever.”

-Christian ‘One Liners’-

The epitome of OFW re-integration

By Don Flordeliza, Jr.

Concerned OFWs and Filipino expats from different parts of the world are now becoming conscious and fully aware of not only the power of their dollar remittances, but of the power of their votes as well.

Their separate struggless in defending and promoting the welfare of Filipino communities in their respective host countries, and the experiences they have gained in doing so, made them cognizant of the reality of this powerful strength that lays dormant in them if applied to Philippine politics. FilAm participation in the Obama campaign and historic triumph, leaves the excitement and hopeful antipication alive among the broad-based FilAm community.

Acclaimed by several Filipino presidents as the country’s “modern heroes,” OFW remittances kept the Philippine economy afloat allowing it to weather through several economic crises of regional and global magnitude. What saddens the OFW community is the fact that our economy is being plundered by an abusive few, as shown by the series of corruption scandals that rocked the present administration.

Faced once more with a global economic crisis that threatens the jobs of many of them, and faced further with the challenge of having an effective re-integration program that could usher them back into the mainstream of homeland economy through legislation, OFW leaders have decided to delve into the political arena.

It could be remembered that one of the senatorial bets of the Kapatiran Party, Dr. Martin Bautista, decided to come home after 17 years abroad. But while some of them had silently gone home in the past and ran into public offices with the desire to contribute their shares in improving the lot of their hometowns, this time big OFW organizations went a step further by organizing national political parties.

Foremost among these political parties is the Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP) that plans to field senatorial candidates in 2010. Another one in the process of being registered and accreditted is the Democratic Party of the Philippines (DPP) that plans to field presidential and vice-presidential candidates. It proposes to form coalitions with other political parties to complete a slate of national and local candidates under a broader “Ticket of National Unity to Save Our Nation.” It actively supports the efforts of civil-society, religious and other multi-sector organizations to forge a “Third Force” of alternative leaders against trapo politics.

There is strong reason to believe that if the OFW’s dollar-remittances is playing a great role in keeping the country’s economy afloat, OFW contributions and votes would also play a great role in catapulting a moral and ethical president into Malacanan in 2010. They might indeed be the missing link that would finally make this possible, and put an end to the cancer that eats us up from the inside - a culture of corruption that permeats all levels of Philippine society and governance.

Like the noble members of the Propaganda Movement of old scattered in Hongkong, Germany and Spain, today’s OFWs are coming home and forming their own La Liga Filipinas. With political will and focused determination, the OFWs’ historic decision to take part in Philippine governance serves as the epitome of their effective re-integration into the mainstream of Philippine society.

Don Flordeliza, Jr.
Founder, Movement to Save Our Nation

Monday, March 30, 2009

U.S. State Department report on widespread corruption, inefficiency in RP judiciary: True or Not?

By Ben Serrano

February 27, 2009

BUTUAN CITY- First, it was the World Bank who in their report claimed widespread corruption by way of collusion among Philippine influential politicians, the DPWH and favored contractors, now no less than the United States State Department came up with another startling revelations that corruption and inefficiency is widespread in the Philippine Judiciary.

What else is new? How about corruption at the Philippine Churches? Where name of God is being used to peddle votes of its church members and sold it to highest bidder amongst crooks in the Philippine politics?

Leaders of said church organization claimed that the proceeds of their sanctified, glorified unified voice in selecting political leaders are biblical ergo what the Pastor will say and vote the flock will follow or else. They reasoned that whatever benefits taken from politicians they voted will be used anyway on church activities and fund in building beautiful churches. Plus the too much influence the church and their members they get from the government.

The vicious cycle goes on and on and all started on the corrupt, full of fraud and deceitful Philippine elections.

But why it took foreigners to tell us point blank right smack in our faces that our judicial system is corrupt and inefficient? This is so because we are maybe afraid even of our own shadows.

I was right and felt vindicated again when I said in my previous articles/columns that corruption in this country start day one on election campaign period and will spread to all system of governance. Come to think of it, if a Judge, Prosecutor owe their position from a certain politician or group of politicians who has whispering power to the ears of powers that be, who can stop them in committing injustice after injustice?

I was right also when I said that Senators should not blamed the For Your Eyes Only World Bank report about widespread corruption in the bank’s funded road projects in this country instead make the report as basis of an honest to goodness inquiry.

Oww c’mon Virginia, isn’t true that the reasoned why RP politicians are dying to be elected to public office ergo buy votes of willing Filipino voters and alleged corrupt RP election manipulators because they want a pie of the 20% commission from millions of public works projects?

I have even personally saw documents how bidding process at the Department of Agriculture being rigged in favor to already favored contractors and suppliers?

Although, it is only of public knowledge as no FIXCALS and hoodlums in robes have been incarcerated or hanged yet despite of so many innocent lives have been victims of injustice of the justice system here in our country, we, Filipinos have been accepting these harsh realities for so long time now.

Either we feel helpless or just go with the rotten system all along these years thus Philippine politicians are fighting like dogs scramming for a single bone, it succeed because good men in this country do nothing to stop these vicious cycle of corruption.

I remember a local prosecutor in Agusan province who was once caught making rounds or visits to the houses of a rape victim and rape suspect because he wanted he allegedly settlement. Why do that unethical thing Oh my Gossh, this Fiscal should have been hanged upside if happens in the U.S..

What happened to the case of a Prosecutor caught in the act from allegedly extorting money from a Estafa case complainant? The prosecutor in many instances have been asking free airline tickets from the complainant who admitted in her sworn affidavits that the FIXCAL has been asking her money and when fed up already she called an entrapment by the National Bureau of Investigation? Ergo, the fixcal got caught in flagrante delecto at a mall here in Butuan City in board daylight. What a shame!!

The latest I have heard in the case is that the money evidence with serial numbers recorded got lost that when Sandiganbayan justices was asking where the money evidences are, the representative from a local court presented the money. But when inspected, the serial numbers are no longer the same. Tsk.Tsk Tsk what a shame again!

An honorable RTC Judge (who actually lost his tooth) was once boxed in the face by a Muslim complainant because the complainant who allegedly paid a certain huge sum of money to reverse resolution to their favor was denied by the Judge of having received when in fact in the presence of some witnesses it alleged the Judge got it.

But some of these horrible court experiences including untold ones that are more scandalous were not made public by the local media for obvious reasons. Me, I made stories all of these, one or two were published in a national newspaper I was writing then.

Here are some of the public reactions on the story that appeared at the Philippine Star in February 27, 2009 issue titled “US report: RP judiciary corrupt, inefficient” written by PIA LEE-BRAGO that appeared in the on line version: I will quote in toto for the readers’ perusal.

Pinoy 2 comments; “Like the WB report, the big somebody will say this US report is all hearsay and no evidences. Again, the smart alect will say, , show me! No wonder crime pays in the Philippines, .cause Lady Justice is not blind folded and her measure is defective”.

Anti corrupt wrote: “Who didn’t know this was a fact of life in the RP? Where else can you steal millions, murder, plunder, and get away without any punishment. If you have the peso you have the say so in any court. How many millionares are in prison? How much did Erap steal again? Full pardon and he is still filthy rich from all his stolen moneys. 6 year trial, are you kidding us, how much money do you think was paid out during this time frame?? The only reason he was convicted is he would not give up enough of his ill gotten money.
The judicial system and justice in the RP do not belong in the same sentence. “

MEKABA comments “ Nothin’ is new with the US State Dept report….we knew them since Marcos time, that in this country justice is for sale….and ( with apology to Manong Joe de V for the quote ) “congressmen are for sale” , too….so, who’s not for sale, then? (lol) Do we blame FG and GMA, again? Over-beaten na ang First Couple, let’s give both a breather this time, and direct the tirades to the resilient Pinoys, who never the mind what’s happening around them as long as they got the Vet Stimulus of Obama, the Eco Stimulus of GMA, the 500php VAT juice, the VAT electricity subsidy, and the prospect of free tsibugs with some pocket money comes every election time, among others.

Seriously, who are truly to blame then for what these meddling Clinton’s State Dept slapped on the brown faces of never the mind Pinoys.

Maybe our Senate should subpoena US Sec Hil Clinton to explain before the justice committee of Sen Lapid (as member) the damaging report to the integrity of the members of the judiciary in particular and to the resilient Pinoys, in general. Let Sen Lapid question Clinton in Filipino language. (lol)

Sinmehae said “America is the milking cow of beggars parasites and leeches, that’s why their judgement and estimate are not to be taken lightly by nations like the Philippines. Filipino politico even sell their own mother if need be just to get extra cash to satisfy their insatiable lust and appetite for money, so how much more do you think are we worth to them and country for them not to sell us. To them everything is up for grab for a few pieces of silver. I am sick and I am going to through up, somebody help.”

And the long list of comment is not enough to fill up spaces here. So how about you, what’s your take? Wake up, 81-M Filipinos, wake up before it’s too late, consider your little children’s future that if will not act soon they will be the same, victims like us of these corrupt rotten system.

Is there hope for us? Yes, we do but I believe not in my lifetime. The coming May 2010 national elections will still be marred by vote-buying (actually vote-selling), fraud, deceit Philippine style.

The opposition is all the same like the administration, says a tribal leader I talk lately saying “they keep on attacking on attacking the Arroyo administration because they wanted her out of office and wanted to replace her thus they will be the ones to steal and steal more. Tsk..Tsk..Tsk ..Tsk..

All I told him in reply was “AMEN and AMEN with matching chuckle and loud laugh.”

ABS-CBN’s Joey Villarama threatened for QC ’shootout’ coverage

By William M. Esposo
Philstar: March 01, 2009

Just last Thursday, Your Chair Wrecker wrote about the serious threat to the life of a fellow journalist — Ramon “Mon” Tulfo.

After reading that column, Lito Villarama, a friend and former Ateneo classmate, emailed me through our E-group to seek help regarding the threat to the life of his own son.

Let me share with you Lito’s February 26 email, as follows.

“Dear Billy,

I write in connection with your article on Mon Tulfo and on behalf of my son Joey, who is now in the same predicament as Mr. Tulfo. My son Joey, an ABS-CBN TV reporter, covered the alleged shootout at EDSA between the Quezon City Police Anti-Carnap Unit, the Highway Patrol Group and suspected car thieves on February 17, 2009.

The alleged shootout, filmed and reported by my son, showed what appeared to be otherwise. The incident and the video footage have outraged the Commission on Human Rights which has already launched an investigation.

Pending the result of the fact finding investigation, 30 members of the Anti-Carnap Unit and the Highway Patrol Group have been suspended from their duties. Because of this, certain police officials have vented their ire on my son who was just performing his duty. As a result, my son has not been able to come home since the time of the incident and has been assigned a bodyguard 24 hours a day by ABS-CBN.

In this light and on behalf of my son, who like you is only after the truth, I would like to request for your advice on this matter. My warm regards.
Lito Villarama”

Lito and your Chair Wrecker talked yesterday and he confirmed the threat to the life of his son Joey. Lito learned about the threat from Joey’s media colleagues who also named the hostile PNP officials who made veiled threats to his son.

Indeed, there is no denying that the QC (Quezon City) “shootout” appears more like a rubout based on what the ABS-CBN camera captured. CHR (Commission on Human Rights) Chair Leila de Lima’s “Oh my God” reaction when she saw the video of the QC shooting incident says it all. She knew immediately that there is something very wrong and most foul and that the incident is not what the police are making it appear to be.

Who knows how this would have been officially reported by the PNP (Philippine National Police) had Joey Villarama and his team not been on the scene to report and capture it on video?
And the way the PNP officials are starting to sound lately, a whitewash seems to be in the offing. PNP officials have been talking about the QC shooting incident matter-of-factly as a “shootout” — making it appear that the police violations were merely confined to lapses in procedure and overkill.

That presumption effectively excludes the angle that the video and Joey Villarama’s on-the-scene report strongly suggested — a rubout. The Villarama on-the-spot report and the video raised some very disturbing questions that tend to contest the police claim that it was a shootout.

How come the driver was able to flee the scene and avoid being killed? How come the victims’ car was parked properly and the hand brake was engaged? Does that not suggest that these people were not fleeing at all? When one parks a car and engages the hand brake, does that not mean that there is no inclination to flee or fight?

How come all the shots were directed at the car passengers and not the driver? How many cop shows will you have to watch to figure out that in order to prevent criminals from fleeing, the cops should incapacitate the driver first? Does this not suggest that the targets were just the passengers and not the driver who was allowed to go Scot-free?

How does one justify all that firepower the police used when the crime scene showed only one rusty revolver inside the victims’ vehicle? Doesn’t the overkill suggest the likelihood that these passengers were meant to be silenced and not to be tried in court where they could perhaps sing some very embarrassing songs?

An ABS-CBN forensic resource person observed that the QC shooting incident was very similar to another one in Ortigas, expressing concern that overkill was becoming more like a PNP standard operating procedure.

Another ABS-CBN resource person — this one a known member of the carnap syndicate — expressed surprise on TV Patrol last Friday that the victims were people he does not know.
Identified as ‘Mario’ in the interview, with his face blurred on the video, he said that the members of the carnap syndicates know one another. Mario claimed that carnap syndicates know one another because they all see each other in their “place of work” which is usually Quezon City. He elaborated that QC was their favorite carnap location because the bars there attracted the owners of expensive vehicles.

Mario even stated that as far as he knows the carnap syndicates pay protection money to top PNP officials. Mario even claimed that he knew who these corrupt police officials are because they’ve met on several occasions.

Now what Mario stated matches what a PNP connection of your Chair Wrecker previously said when asked what he knew about the QC shooting incident. Per our PNP connection, the probe should look into this — that the driver who got away is a police operative while the victims were police assets.

If that is true, then the QC incident could have been a setup (and not a shootout) in order to eliminate the said police assets who may be able to link PNP officials to the carnap syndicates.
The fear of the victims’ kin to be identified on video reflects just how bad the image of the police has been tarnished in our country. Considering that the victims were small fries — as can be seen from their dwellings — it is understandable for their kin to fear the police if indeed their slain relatives worked as police assets.

Go to the poor communities and you’ll find that people there are as afraid of being harmed by abusive cops just as they live in fear of being harmed by criminals. Watch the TV primetime news and you’ll see that a good percentage of disorder in the Barangay is caused by abusive or drunken cops.

Perhaps the government should assign the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to work under the CHR in doing a parallel probe, independent of the PNP probe. Because some PNP officials could be protecting carnap syndicates, a public that has long developed a fear of the very people who are supposed to protect them will tend to doubt a PNP probe.

Chair Wrecker website:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The shameless Filipino elite


By William M. Esposo
Philstar: February 22, 2009

In 1980, a Swiss girl I met (who was here as an exchange student) made this comment: “How come the Filipinos are not revolting against the injustice here? Most of them have nothing to lose except their lives.”

That comment was surprising considering that the Swiss girl came from an upper class family in a country where it is assumed that everybody has money. After all, someone from that class in society does not usually think of revolting against a government.

But we cannot blame her for saying that. Even during the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Filipino parents were the first to discourage their sons and daughters from joining public mass actions for fear of their children getting hurt or arrested.

Foreigners who have lived here are puzzled at how we Filipinos can allow the irregularities and scandals that are happening all over the archipelago to go on with hardly any public outrage expressed. Some of them conclude that Filipinos are gut-less — too yellow to risk life and comfort to straighten out the big mess in their country.

Some foreigners conclude that Filipinos are some of the most un-nationalistic people in the world. We also cannot blame them for concluding that. They even met some Filipinos who would rather be a Yank or a Brit. There are surveys that confirmed that sad reality, especially among young Filipinos.

Some foreigners found it scandalous that Filipinos would proudly wave their ‘bastion of Christianity in Asia’ flag but are so callous to the grinding poverty around them — much of it the result of the elite’s irrational greed. The scandal is heightened by the fact that many of the greediest have graduated from Catholic educational institutions like the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University.

Indeed, we are more tribal and have really yet to achieve a sense of nation like the Japanese, Thais and Chinese. We’re led by leaders who even have this wrong notion that imposing English as education medium of instruction is the key to Filipino national salvation. They are stupidly oblivious of the fact that no nation ever progressed simply because they imposed a foreign language as their education medium of instruction.

It is also commonplace in our country to see Filipinos espousing things that favor the interests of other countries while condemning the few nationalists who stand up to protect Filipino national interest. The culture here is so badly-damaged that the promoters and protectors of foreign interests strut around as if they are the “true heroes” of the land while many idiotically condemn the nationalists as boils on the heel of progress.

Still, other foreigners have concluded that the Filipino is so selfish and will not bother to think of the community — fatally focused on paddling only his own canoe. Compared to the Japanese who are inclined to think first about their communal interest, many Filipinos are all too consumed with promoting self-interest.

During the days when your Chair Wrecker was an advertising agency CEO, a former Japanese client said something that struck home. This Managing Director of the famous Yakult Lactobacilli Drink wondered how come rich Filipinos do not even bother to help their cash-strapped government by attending to the gutted patch of road fronting their houses. To him, the cost of repair (at the time which is 1984), would have been no more than P4,000.
That observation struck home because to us Filipinos doing so would have been unthinkable. Have you ever heard of a rich Filipino who initiated the paving of the gutted road fronting his house? I haven’t. We would have been quick to rationalize that the government we pay taxes to owes us that service. So why do we pay taxes if we are to repair the road ourselves?
However, to the Japanese who is culturally conditioned to die for his country, it is expected that he should attempt to solve whatever problem of Japan he is capable of solving on his own. Now, that is why the Japanese live in a first world developed country while we Filipinos live in the rut that we are in.

The most stinging criticism Filipinos will hear from foreigners who have lived here and have gained familiarity with how we have ruined the Pearl of the Orient that our country was once touted to be — is how Filipinos are so proud individually but shameless collectively.
Few Filipinos are aware that many foreigners have observed this hypocrisy in our society. Many Filipinos think that the foreigner is impressed with inane braggadocio, unmindful that Filipinos are only managing to look smaller in the eyes of the alien. The big plunderer thinks that foreigners are awed by the immense wealth that he has stolen. He failed to realize that if they see anything big in him — that is his enormous and irrational greed.

It is the elite of this country who ought to hang their heads in shame for promoting and perpetuating the wealth gap that haunts this nation. It is the elite who can understand the national problem and do something about it. But from all indications, our elite have lost their Christian conscience.

We’re supposed to be rich in natural and manpower resources but we suffer from unexplained poverty. The Japanese do not even have the natural resources that we possess and yet look at what their nationalism accomplished.

Systematically benighted, the unkindest cut would be to blame the poor who are the victims and not the cause of the national wealth gap. If ever they are prone to electing false Messiahs, it is because of the Information and Education Gaps that the elite have perpetuated.
Between the conscience-less elite and the clueless poor, there is the largely inutile Filipino middle class, supposedly the initiator of reform and meaningful change in society. Sadly, our middle class is more engrossed in debating the unimportant and is largely oblivious of the truly important.

Just look at all those so-called civil society groups as they rush to grab newspaper headlines and broadcast media sound bytes instead of pursuing real solutions to the core problems of the country.

* * *

Chair Wrecker website:


ABS-CBN - ‘Punto por Punto interviewed Mickey Arroyo and Governor Panlilio about “jueteng” and again in “Umaga Kay Ganda.” Governor Panlilio said that if a governor is against jueteng and is supported by the provincial director - then 51% of its operation is solved. If he is supported by the regional police director, 81% is solved. When he is supported by the president, then 100% is solved.

The Governor said that the Philippine National Police has committed a “double failure” in the province when it denied him his right (as the governor) to select a police director and when the Deputy Director Jefferson Soriano, chief of the Directorial staff of the PNP declared Senior Supt. Gil Levin Jr. as the new provincial director who believe that :jueteng” does not exists in the province. The personal choces of the Governor are Col. Cesar Binag and Col.Sonny Cunanan, both are anti-jueteng.

The Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and local Government under the Office of the president of the Philippines have disregarded the governor’s right to choose the police provincial director for Pampanga.

Governor Panlilio made 18 request in the past 20 months and all requests were denied!
Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Oscar Cruz said in an interview on dwIZ radio that that jueteng is rampant not only in Pampanga but also in Luzon and Visayas.

Worse, he said that the jueteng operation appears to be intensifying now in time for the 2010 elections. The prelate made the assessment after the governor complained that jueteng is rampant in Pampanga. He also noted that no less than Michaelangelo Zuce, a nephew of former poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano had claimed payoffs made to election officials in Mindanao for the 2004 polls came from suspected gambling lord Rodolfo Pineda and wife Lilia.
In the senate, Senator Mar Roxas expressed his support to Gov. Panlilio in his lonely fight against jueteng (a ponzi scheme victimizing the poor). He said,”Akala ng gobyernong Arroyo
na madadala tayo sa ningas-cogon nitong kilos laban sa mga jueteng (The Arroyo government thinks we’ll be duped into believing they are sincere in fighting jueteng operators).

Magkamag-anak itong jueteng at mga raket tulad ng mga pre-need plan at double-you-money scheme ng Legacy ni Celso de los Angeles. Lumalaganap ang mga ito dahil pabaya ang gobyerno.(Jueteng and other rackets, like the unfunded pre-need plans and double-your-money schemes of Celso de los Angeles’ Legacy are relatives. These proliferate with the wilful and conscious negligence of the Arroyo government,” he stressed.

Jueteng operations are camouflaged by the Small Town Lottery. STL is very rampant. It’s a very efficient system in hiding jueteng. The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office which owns the STL franchise started giving permits to private firms to operate the STL in 2004 is the study and conclusion made by the Pampanga Anti-Gambling Councils. ABS-CBN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fidel’s lament

27 February 2009

Fidel Valdez Ramos, who together with Juan Ponce Enrile and the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, led the breakaway from the government of Ferdinand Marcos that culminated in what history now calls the “EDSA people power revolt”, has reason to be miffed. The woman he helped install into office, first by endorsing her along with Jose de Venecia as his party’s standard bearers in 1998, then once more in 2001, when his political nemesis and successor Joseph Estrada was on trial after his impeachment by the House, deigned it beneath her to attend the commemoration of the event that brought the forms of democracy back to life. She preferred to be across the street, visiting briefly one of those umpteenth job fairs organized by DOLE and its POEA to make the jobless scramble for the little mercies of available opportunities beyond these benighted shores.

For Gloria the POEA affair was another photo opportunity, to show to whoever still cares, that “GMA cares”. She preferred a fleeting photo-op for a commemoration of one of the two most important political events of two generations. Almost a generation before, the most important event was the declaration of martial law, which snuffed out the same forms of democracy.

“Hindi ko maintindihan kung bakit wala dito ang pangulo. Sana lahat ay sumama sa pagdiriwang at magbigay ng respeto”, the former President rued.

It is noteworthy that GMA chose to commemorate EDSA two days earlier, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. She chose the spot perhaps to subconsciously “bury” the memory of that popular expression of democracy, afraid that she may one day be at the receiving end of public rage, as the dictator Marcos experienced. And she could not control herself. She said there that “the world would not forgive another people power”. She has become spokesperson for the universe, hah! Just because she has travelled to various parts 58 times in the 97 months that she has been in Malacanang gives her no right to speak for the world. But then, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is sui generis. No other Filipino leader ever displayed as much gall, and as little shame.

FVR and Jose de Venecia saved the little girl they inflicted upon the nation once more on July 8, 2005. On June 6, GMA’s spokesman and press secretary Ignacio “Toting” Bunye exposed to the nation his tale of two tapes. Hello Garci exploded, and continues to haunt the nation, with no closure yet in sight. Ten of her cabinet officials resigned, and Cory Aquino called for Dona Gloria’s resignation. Even her then Chief of Staff, Efren Abu, gave out a very tentative statement of support, as if waiting for opportunity from popular sentiment. The nation teetered, and the government of the illegitimate Gloria was on the brink of collapse. Only the timidity of Noli de Castro (the complete opposite of Gloria who conspired to remove the duly elected Estrada five years before) and the clarion call of FVR and his JDV for the trapos of their Lakas to circle their beleaguered creation, saved the day for her.

Now, his Gloria does not even deign the EDSA he started worthy of her presence. Fidel Valdez Ramos feels understandably bad.

But the bigger disappointment ought to be not just the absence of a failed and illegitimate leader, whose government’s corruption stinks and is smelled all over the world, but the failure of the same EDSA to bring about the flowering of genuine democracy, a democracy not only in form, but in substance. That substance, which is the full freedom of every man and woman regardless of the circumstances of birth, to fulfil his aspirations in a society of equal opportunities, amply protected by a polity where peace and order reign and good governance guarantees basic services, with justice for all and towards all, has been denied the same people whose combined power defeated a tyranny. Look at all the shattered institutions of what we call democracy, and weep.

There is a legislature whose independence is compromised, because most of the traditional politicians that populate both of its houses transact with the executive branch they are sworn to check and balance. The art of political compromise, which means the balancing of competing public interests in the service of the greater good, has been corrupted into the sacrifice of greater good and public interest in favour of selfish and immoderate greed.

There reigns an executive whose be-all and end-all is power in all its forms, political as well as economic, and for such ends, will transact with everyone in the military, the judiciary, the legislature, the civil service, the media, the business community, even low-life engaged in illegal money-making, to pursue the same — at all cost. No leader, not even Ferdinand Marcos, has ever been as amoral.

There is a judiciary which but for a few brave and conscience-struck souls, are as transactional as can ever be. And there is a “Department Store of Justice”, as my friend Frank Chavez aptly describes it, presiding over a prosecution system where those who have less in life are persecuted, while those who can either buy or pressure are protected. And a police force that is more interested in jueteng intelihensya than real intelligence work and the discipline to fight crime and protect hapless citizens.

There is a military establishment where those who cannot stand corruption and the destruction of ideals instilled upon them in the Academy languish in jails, while generals who transacted with the illegitimate commander-in-chief grow fat with perks and are given juicy positions in the soldiers’ after-life.

There is a civil service whose career system has been destroyed by a multitude of unqualified political appointees, never been as pronounced or as pervasive as in the last eight years of the president FVR supports.

Tell you what, Mr. President, sir: it is best that the president you helped enthrone did not attend our EDSA. To begin with, she was never there when you were holed in Crame, ready to die if love of country demanded. She never participated in the fight against tyranny, and she never joined in the outcry that followed the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino. She was given by Cory that little office called the GTEB (which turned out to be such a juicy thing) only out of deference to her old man who after all brought Ninoy Aquino into the Liberal Party.

But also because, Mr. President Ramos, sir — she has done more than any single individual, past or present, to destroy the values that EDSA sought to enshrine, values that even the Filipino public seem to have forgotten as they struggle every day of their miserable lives for the next meal.

You and I, and all of us, Mr. President Ramos, by sins of omission and commission and bad judgment, have at one point in our lives contributed to the rot the nation festers through these days. But we privately and sometimes publicly acknowledge our human errors. And in our time, irrespective of roles significant or insignificant, we were motivated by what we believed at the time to be in the greater national interest.

But your creation never says “I am sorry” and means it. And she discards old allies as quickly as she changes her scarves for her peripatetic traipses. Rather, she is now busy transacting both politics and business with the very same cronies that Marcos used to substitute for the oligarchies he disliked. She has politically decapitated your Joe de Venecia. She has co-opted all your other once faithful kabaleyan in Pangasinan. She has hollowed-out your own Lakas from you and transformed most all of them as toadies she would transact with her new political and business allies.

And in the wake of her governance most bad, she will leave, if at all or if we cannot help it, an economy once more in the hands of oligarchs, and a nation where moral values are irredeemably foreclosed by civilian institutions without a shred of credibility or sense of duty, and worse, a soldiery castrated of its courage and sworn obligations to country and people.

No, Mr. President Ramos, sir, there is no reason for you to rue her absence in your annual celebration of courage. She does not deserve to commemorate an EDSA spirit she has never, never at all, cherished.

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Flags of convenience

26 February 2009

Anent our series on the nine men and a woman who are referred to as “presidentiables”, and a personal view on the qualities that a leader must possess (The Leader We Need, 13 Feb 2009), as well as the practical difficulties of entering the field for a newcomer (Is There No One Else?, 17 Feb 2009), we now focus on the political parties.

Time and again, we have described the political parties that have mushroomed since the adoption of the 1987 Constitution as mere flags of convenience. The fault lies in the political system, where our constitutional framers first thought of adopting parliamentarism, and with it a compatible multiple party system. At the last minute though, the framers decided by a majority of one to revert to the presidential system, but they did not revisit their adoption of the now incongruous multiple parties. Neither did they propose run-off elections, to ensure that the elected leader will be a majority president.

After the 1987 Constitution was ratified, the parties or coalitions were either pro-Cory or Cory-disenchanted, and none but Erap and Juan Ponce Enrile managed to survive the Aquino senatorial juggernaut. Flags of convenience mushroomed around presumptive competitors for the 1992 elections. Vice-President Doy Laurel revived the Nacionalista Party, and discarded the coalition he initiated against the Marcos regime – UNIDO. Senate President Jovito Salonga revived the pre-martial Liberal Party too. The PDP-Laban broke into two factions — the original PDP, with its founder Nene Pimentel eventually acceding to be vice-presidential candidate of Salonga in an LP-PDP coalition, and the humongous Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), led by Cory’s younger brother, Rep. Peping Cojuangco of Tarlac, and its predetermined presidential candidate, Speaker Ramon V. Mitra Jr. The LDP was shelter to most of the traditional politicians, both those who fought Marcos and those who swore against Marcos only after he fell from power. The trapos have flourished materially, and their brand of politics enshrined in their local fiefdoms for the past two decades since Marcos. It is as if the datus never left us.

Unable to gain hegemony over Laurel’s NP, Ambassador Danding Cojuangco formed the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) as his vehicle for the 1992 presidential run. Defeated in a series of regional party conventions of the LDP, then Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos broke off and formed a party out of six faithful congressmen (Jose de Venecia of Pangasinan, Edelmiro Amante of Agusan del Norte, Francisco Sumulong of Rizal, Eduardo Pilapil of Camarines Sur, Jaime Lopez of Manila, and Hilarion Ramiro of Ozamis), then negotiated with Raul Manglapus and Amado Lagdameo for the National Union of Christian Democrats (NUCD) to form Lakas-NUCD.

Imelda Romualdez Marcos dusted off her husband’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), while the latest entrant into the derby, Miriam Defensor Santiago, registered a new party called People’s Reform Party (PRP). Thus, there were six flags vying for the 1992 derby: LDP, with a complete slate in all 1500 municipalities, and Monching Mitra with Celing Fernan as its standard-bearers; Nationalist People’s Coalition with Danding Cojuangco and Erap Estrada, with an almost complete slate likewise; the Liberal Party-PDP coalition, with Jovito Salonga and Nene Pimentel, and an incomplete slate; the NP with Doy Laurel and Eva Kalaw, and a rag-tag band of loyal Nacionalistas; the Lakas-NUCD, with FVR and Lito Osmena; the KBL with Imelda and Vic Magsaysay, and a few provinces carrying its local standards; as well as Miriam and Jun Magsaysay in PRP, with Fred Lim and Lito Atienza in Manila, the only local candidates they had that mattered.

When FVR won, most every trapo in the LDP, LP, NP, etc., took their oaths of temporary allegiance to Lakas. PRP, whose Miriam almost made it, became a party of one, deserted even by Magsaysay, who turned to Lakas, and Manila’s victors, Lim and Atienza, who tried to revive the now moribund LP, eventually used by Lim in his ill-fated presidential run of 1998. The LDP was taken over by Sen. Ed Angara, which entered into a working coalition with FVR’s Lakas, resulting in a half-half senatorial slate in 1995. The NP went into hibernation. KBL went back to Ilocos Norte, and NPC tried to be “the” opposition party. It had, after all, won the vice-presidency and three senators — Ernie Maceda, John Osmena, and Nikki Coseteng. But Vice-President Erap disdained taking over the role of chief oppositionist, preferring a not-too-cozy entente cordiale with President Ramos, where he carved a niche for himself as “crime-buster”.

Speaker Jose de Venecia, the quintessential trapo until Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president, cobbled all of the parties into a Rainbow Coalition, quite an apt description for a political alliance of feudal masters and their satraps. Here today, gone tomorrow, as Joe de V now finds himself lonely and deserted, after his son Joey dared challenge the little “god” he nursed. Lakas tried to embrace the Christian Democrat ideology, albeit in name only, as its members preferred the convenience of trapo politics. Neither ersatz ideology nor the endorsement of an incumbent president made JDV win in 1998, when Erap, with a hastily formed coalition of his PMP, Angara’s LDP and some of Danding’s NPC, labelled LAban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino, trounced him and everybody else with their now archived flags of convenience. And after Erap won, 50 Lakas faithful (almost all of them LDP’s in 1991) turned their coats once again and shouted LAMPP, led by the Speaker who bought Erap’s affections, Manuel Villar. Two years and six months later, with his real estate empire nurtured to convalescence, that Erap-handpicked Speaker impeached President Erap. He, he, he. How so very convenient.

Because party loyalty died with martial law, and the Cory constitution made it all too convenient to be political butterflies, presidential wannabe’s concentrate on developing a personality cult around themselves, whether through patronage or money, advertising or networking, or all of the above. Thus, for 2010, Villar will use the NP whose franchise he got from a dying Doy Laurel, and later adding even the Laurel mansion as new acquisition, to become his headquarters. Mar Roxas has been nominated in the LP which his grandfather and namesake formed in 1945. Chiz Escudero is likely to be hand-picked by Danding Cojuangco to bear the colours of his NPC. Both Lakas which Gloria used, and Kampi which she founded, are still wondering who they could adopt as standard-bearers, other than “pakipot” Noli de Castro, the vice-president Gloria wisely bought in 2004 as insurance cover from impeachment. Loren will likely resurrect LDP, the once humongous party that now hamlets in Aurora province. (But over the week-end, Angara endorsed Gilbert Teodoro as his presidential candidate in Baler. Is this retaliation for Loren’s rumored acceptance of a personal offer from Erap to be his vice-president in next year’s electoral contest?) And Ping Lacson, dribbled off by Jojo Binay from his PDP, is still conveniently sans party shelter.

There you are — the presidential candidates of 2010 and their flags of convenience. Are there any more?

The political party has become a tool of the personal ambitions, legitimate or otherwise, of a presidential candidate. Hence, it’s active shelf life is confined to the presidency of the standard bearer who used it in the campaign. LDP was dominant majority in Cory’s time; Lakas took over in FVR’s. In 1998, formed LAMMP as his vehicle, but since his stay in power was short-lived, so was his coalition, In 2004, FPJ ran under his own version of a coalition, even if his political sponsors — Angara, Sotto and Oreta, were LDP. Villar is resurrecting the NP for his own run, to be filled up by recruits from whichever. If he loses, the NP goes back to the morgue. PMP of Erap will, like Angara’s LDP, remain in their San Juan del Monte bastion, or for as long as an Estrada is politically active. NPC hopes to have ultimate political hegemony with their prince, Chiz Escudero, and to ensure his election, they are ready to bed with Lakas and Kampi, or whoever will desert the coffin GMA has prepared for these alliances. For as long as their “boss” Danding is alive, there will be an NPC. Apres the “boss”, as Louis XIV once declared, “le deluge”, unless they bag the presidency in 2010 through their Chiz. While the LP is currently tied to the chances of its presumptive president, Mar Roxas, it is likely to survive and be active whether or not its presidential candidate wins. Why so?

First, it has elders who will stubbornly keep the fires going, whether a Salonga or a Drilon, or the Roxas family itself, which to its credit, has never abandoned the party of their forebear. Mar Roxas at 51 can yet politically re-invent himself whatever happens on or before May of 2010, unlike Doy Laurel after 1992. Second, the LP was declared the “dominant opposition party” by the Comelec in 2007, which, repeated in 2010, is a powerful come-on for local candidates who need the right to field official inspectors in every polling precinct. Third, many of its members are bonded together by some adherence to party principles, something alien to most trapos who are kept in leash only by the money of their bosses, or by taking advantage of presidential power and prerogative, something bound to end in 2010 for Lakas and Kampi if (and that is still a big IF) Dona Gloria descends from her throne.

If the Liberals win the presidency in 2010, and the Constitution is revised (as it should be, at the proper time) thereafter, expect a return to the two-party presidential system, with the LP as majority party, and the remnants of the other parties forming whatever else. Perhaps even the NP, if Manny Villar sells his current franchise to the next ambitious person with loads of money.

The party-list, envisioned as voice of the marginalized and anchored on ideology, albeit singular or specific interests in many cases, are supposed to balance off the traditional parties. Some of these, particularly the progressive if left-leaning ones, fulfil their constitutionally-mandated purpose (although they are still divided between those who remain faithful to the exiled Joma of Utrecht, and those who reject his leadership). Others have become flags of convenience too, for ambitious men and women who think a party they personally own and are able to register for accreditation with a corrupt Comelec, can buy them the recognition, so undeserved, of “honourable”. See how they have proliferated, many of their acronyms starting with the letter “A”, so they would be first in the long list, hopeful that ignoramuses would write their party name on first cognizance. They are treated as second-class citizens by the trapos, but many do not mind. After all, they are still addressed “honourable”, and they get chunks of the pork too. Some party list solons though have distinguished themselves, not so much in the selfish esteem of their old-boy colleagues in the chamber of “thieves”, but in media, as intelligent and articulate resource persons.

So what’s in store for us with a polity so confused and confusing, except for the trapos who know how to exploit every rule in the book to serve their selfish interests? Will this kind of system, this “variety” of similar flags of convenience, be a vehicle for reform? Again, look at the presidential candidate, and never mind the party. For even if you search the origins of the two party-system which we had before Marcos, you will find that they were formed for the convenience of a presidential candidate, from Quezon to Roxas to Marcos.

We just have to hope that the electorate chooses a wise and decisive president who, after the nightmare that is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is over, will prioritize the writing of a new and better Constitution.

Otherwise, we shall just pass from one Gloria to another male “glorioso”, perhaps more rapacious, and as we keep saying, once more be consigned to a state of benightedness, having chosen the least of us to lead us. All these assume of course, that the present Gloria will not be able to achieve her ultimate high, which is to remain in power until the good Lord wakes up and has mercy on his people.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

One More EDSA


Jose Ma. Montelibano

It surprised me little that Gloria Arroyo would say that the world would not accept another EDSA, meaning another people-powered revolution. After all, in the one year she has left, only death through illness or people power can unseat her. In either scenario, her family, led by husband Mike Arroyo, will suddenly find a vulnerability that can cause actual panic behind closed doors.

Trying to secure one’s safety and well-being beyond one’s term is understandable. It matters little whether we like Gloria or not, but we have to accept that she is not likely to commit suicide but instead use her resources and power to get all the insurance she can. So what she says and what we believe can continue to be two different things. She knows it, and so should we.

The world will always accept another EDSA, if by EDSA we mean a people’s uprising to cleanse itself of the evil that grips it. That is the very purpose of evolution, that one goes from bad to good, and from good to better. The march for progress is not only material, it is also ethical and moral. War used to be not only acceptable but a way of life. Countries prepared for war, children were trained for martial arts, technology was meant to serve war, and the whole divided-and-conquer template of governance was evoled to an art by countries who usually succeeded in conquering others, and then ruling them.

The EDSA spirit is one that embodies reform at the least, and transformation as the ideal. Unfortunately, the spirit of EDSA has not yet proceeded to its true role of reform or transformation, thus far limited only to removing unwanted regimes in a peaceful way. But removing corrupt or murdering leaderships in a peaceful manner will remain a miracle, a most needed change, but a miracle nonetheless. And miracles are what the world accepts and even prays for.

The lesson for Filipinos is not just removing despots of all sorts, but the process of change hewing closely to what is ideal and most ethical. It is a post-EDSA journey that is missing, and that which many Filipinos are looking for prior to any unusual action to remove presidents from Malacanang. If such a possibility becomes manifest, if such a movement will produce faces that Filipinos can trust not just during the removal process but in the leadership of a reform government, EDSA will happen almost by default. It is not the Constitution that keeps people in check. It is a lack of hope that another adventure will still not make dreams come true.

The Constitution is not understood by the majority of Filipinos, who are also poor, by the way. A Constitution that has not alleviated the misery of the poor, mitigated the threat or reality of hunger, the darkness that one sleeps in and awakens to, can never be understood. Ordinary Filipinos will not make the effort to understand anything that has not brought benefit to their lives, and the non-poor in power will not go out of their way to educate the people about a Constitution which, in concept, limits their capacity to exploit.

In like manner, the opponents of Gloria must not assume that the majority poor will quickly cross a line to remove Gloria in a revolution or defeat her in political battle. The poor have little affinity with national personalities, including the Church as an institution. The perpetual suffering they endure teaches the majority of Filipinos that politicians and bishops are not their hope or source of succor. They turn to a God who represents only what they need, someone they can ask money from, someone they can talk to without being told they are wrong, an unconditional Being who asks no question but offers sympathetic silence in their saddest moments.

But the poor praying to God is like betting in the lotto. Its rewards can be great, but the possibility of winning of slim, almost non-existent. If prayer is the main ingredient to rising above misery and the fated life that inherited poverty is, then many of the poor will not be poor anymore. But when hunger reaches record levels at this time and age, after all the supposed evangelistic work of the Catholic Church and the growing number of Christian churches, even poor and ignorant Filipinos know in their hearts that religion and the kind of prayer it promotes are not the answer. Why else would they kowtow to dirty politicians?   

By herself, the authority in her hands and a political will that she may yet discover from the need to survive, Gloria can address the hopelessness of the poor, become a populist president who can deliver their most pressing needs, and extend her term upon the insistence of the majority of Filipinos. Two thirds are poor, ten million families, half of them terribly so and a third of them experiencing hunger intermittently to frequently. These two thirds will forgive an erring president if she steals from the rich and gives to the poor. In one or more decades, a president can use the fat from the E-VAT to rescue the poor, lend them land, build them homes, and teach them how to plant.

But for Gloria to think of being populist may be the most difficult decision she can make. Many are under the notion that wanting to be popular and loved is natural for politicians, but only a true populist can understand the depth of a people’s angst and then move intelligently to address it through programs, policies and a political will to implement them. In the Philippines, rolling out a populist program for only a fraction of the annual budget would be a joy to a president if her heart is for the people. But it will be a burden if her heart is for herself and her class. 

That is why EDSAs happen, because a president can, in fact, go against the angst of a people so badly that they will rise to remove him or her. And when they do, other people in the world who are suffering a similar fate, the two-thirds who are impoverished, they will welcome EDSAs, they will welcome new ways to get out of old problems.
And so I pray for a Gloria who will be a true populist president. And I pray for one more EDSA if she does not move to be one.

I can pray, can’t I?

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