Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Can the Philippines afford a ‘kamay na bakal’?


Neal H. Cruz @inquirerdotnet

Philippine Daily Inquirer

When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte first started delivering speeches outside his city in an obvious bid to test the waters for a possible run for the presidency next year, nobody gave him much chance to become a serious contender. But in a recent poll survey, he surprised everybody by placing third among the “presidentiables,” tying former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. Then his commercial showing the various ills hounding the Philippines—graft and corruption, rampant crime, proliferation of illegal drugs, poverty, squatting, etc.—swarming like flies over the country started appearing on television. In it an arm suddenly appears and swats the swarming flies. The arm is labeled “Duterte.”

The arm is obviously a reference to Duterte’s “kamay na bakal,” or iron fist, that has admittedly kept crime down in his native Davao. And it is obviously because Filipinos are fed up with crime and graft and corruption that Duterte’s ranking in the surveys rose. To them, Duterte, judging from how he has disciplined his constituents in Davao, is the last hope to completely stamp out crime and corruption that other presidents have not been able to eradicate.

It cannot be denied that Duterte has been able to make Davao the safest city in the Philippines. But critics say Davao is only 250,000 hectares, only one city in the whole Philippine archipelago. Can Duterte repeat what he has done in Davao in the whole country, they ask.

At the same time, other critics are afraid of what will happen to human rights if Duterte becomes president. Criminals are known to have disappeared in Davao City in Duterte’s campaign against crime. Some suspect that the mayor has a secret “police” force that sends known criminals to eternal peace. That has made Davao a peaceful place, but what will happen to human rights and due process,these critics ask. They voiced fears that another Jovito Palparan may be let loose in our midst.

Never fear, assured former National Food Authority administrator Lito Banayo, Duterte’s major drumbeater whom we interviewed this weekend. Duterte is not like that. Beneath all the tough talk and scowling mien, Duterte has a “heart of gold,” according to Banayo, if you can believe that. Duterte is merciless on drug lords, Banayo said, yet he still gives them three warnings to reform or leave town before the executioners move in.

As to his perceived presidential run, Duterte himself told a radio-television interview that he is not in the race for the presidency. He said it would be unfair to the people for him to be president because at 69 years old, he would be too old to be president. He probably does not know that the leading presidential contender according to the latest survey, Vice President Jejomar Binay, is 72 years old.

Duterte is clearly a reluctant contender, unlike Binay who openly declared his presidential ambition immediately after he was proclaimed vice president in 2010 and spends most of his waking hours campaigning for the top position although the campaign period is still far away.

Banayo confirms that the Davao mayor has yet to decide whether or not to throw his hat into the presidential ring. “Duterte is not driven by ambition,” Banayo said. First, he wants to make sure that he can provide solutions to the myriad problems that the nation faces.

Duterte has been going around the country advocating a shift from the highly centralized unitary system to a federal system similar to those of other highly developed countries like the United States, Germany, Canada and neighboring Malaysia. He offers federalism as an alternative to the highly controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front wants for Muslim Mindanao.

The Duterte camp admits, however, that federalism is a long-term solution that would require a constitutional amendment. It added that Duterte would soon undergo “immersion” programs to crystallize solutions to the festering problems plaguing the country. Why would someone who denies presidential ambitions in favor of remaining in Davao want to learn more about the economy, public finance, national security and other national issues? Action speaks louder than words.

While Duterte is still reluctantly testing the presidential waters, his drumbeater is all optimistic for a presidential run for his client. Duterte’s bailiwick of Mindanao, he said, has 22 to 23 percent of the total voting population. And he would likely get the Visayan vote or, at least, the Cebuano-speaking bloc with vote-rich Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and even half of Leyte.

It has been almost 60 years since Filipinos elected a president from the Visayas in the person of Bohol’s Carlos P. Garcia. This means that unless you are 79 years old and above, you have not cast a vote for a Visayan president, since under the constitution prevailing at the time, the minimum voting age was 21 years, and not the present 18.

Duterte was born in Maasin, Leyte, of Cebuano parents. He just might receive a sentimental favorite-son vote from the Visayas and Mindanao, should he seriously pursue the presidency. That is according to his drumbeater. He can dream, can’t he?

Read more:

Prevarications of PNoy never end

Last of two parts
THE justification of the Chief Executive for excluding Deputy Director-General Espina, who is the Acting PNP Director, from the January 9 meeting is sadly saddled with psychotic mental dishonesty. Mr. Aquino stressed that the suspended PNP Chief was a “subject matter expert” in the hunt for dangerous terrorists. PNoy said Purisima had been briefing him on various police operations before his suspension as PNP Chief. (Inquirer, 23 March 2015).
“Allan would have to brief Director (sic) Espina, who was the understudy and had to catch up and then he (Espina) would brief me. (But) then I (could) have the guy who was on top of all this before,” President Aquino said.
However, it was Police Director Napeñas – and NOT Purisima, who later gave a briefing with his PowerPoint presentation on Operation Exodus. Hence, PNoy could have easily invited the Acting PNP Chief to the Malacañang meeting if he only really wanted to. That would have been the best way for Espina to get in the loop. But PNoy apparently did not really want Espina (and his boss Mar Roxas) to be in the loop. Why?
In his own words, the President said that Purisima attended the meeting “not to command or plan anything, but to help me understand what Napeñas and his people were talking about.” Thus, it would have been better for the Acting PNP Chief to be present in the meeting so that Espina could also help PNoy by knowing the details of Operation Exodus since he admits that he is not quick to understand what the SAF commander would be briefing him about.
Last Wednesday, the Inquirer published its third front-page report (three straight days) entitled “P-Noy Talks of Agony over Mamasapano” (written by Nikko Dizon) where “the Chief Executive unburdened himself.”
President Aquino revealed that he was “already annoyed (nabuwisit) at his friend,” Purisima. The president recalled there was a gap between his text exchange with Purisima on January 25 between 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (seven hours!) because he was upset with his BFF (Best Friend Forever).
“There was a point I could no longer understand (his) text messages… Of course, he wasn’t there in the area so I need to get better information. (I was talking to) somebody who was very, very far from the action and who couldn’t give me the details that I needed to properly guide my actions.” There lies the problem: it was bad enough that PNoy was communicating to a person who was suspended, but was more than 1,000 kms away from Maguindanao!
President B.S. Aquino 3rd should not blame Purisima or Napeñas. He only has HIMSELF to blame since he created the problem by bringing in a suspended and discredited PNP Chief!
If PNoy had brought in Acting PNP Chief Espina during his January 9 meeting with Purisma and Napeñas in Malacañang, then he would be talking later to Espina and NOT Purisima!
Then the number of SAF casualties could have been greatly minimized especially with the 55th SAF Company whose 36 members were all slaughtered, except for one survivor.
DDG Espina is in a good position to coordinate with the AFP Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang since they were mistahs (batch mates of Class 1981) at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Espina refers to Catapang as “Bok” (term of endearment).
The speech of President B. S. Aquino 3rd at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) last Thursday did NOT TELL ALL as he had promised in his exclusive interview with the Inquirer. All he did was to ask for “deepest understanding” and then he assumes “full responsibility” without divulging the details on what he is really responsible for!
The pathetic President once again criticized the official reports of the PNP Board of Inquiry (BoI) and the Philippine Senate for allegedly presenting “guesswork, instead of facts.” This after the BoI Chief Benjamin Magalong had stated that their findings were “statements of facts.” Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero also maintain that the Senate Report on the Mamasapano Massacre was “based on facts and not speculation” (Star, 27 March 2015).
President Aquino exclaims “with God as my witness, I tell you the truth.” The headline of the Inquirer yesterday was “ ‘I Swear I’m Telling the Truth.’ “ May the Good Lord have Mercy on PNoy’s psychological state of mind!

Pulse Asia survey figures show how Duterte could win in 2016

MAYOR Rody Duterte’s recent radio and television interview where he once again repeated the statement that he is too old and that he is not interested to be President has sent shock waves to the millions who have been asking him to lead the country.
Am I worried? Of course not.
In the first place, while Rody Duterte has given hints that he may consider the presidency, he has not categorically stated that he won’t run.
There was nothing new in his “I am not interested” statement given to ABS-CBN and other media outlets. This has been his consistent position.
But the fact that he has agreed to conduct the “Listening Tour” all over the country to advocate Federalism and feel the pulse of the people on the issues besetting them is an indication that Duterte will in the end yield to the desires of the people.
Duterte is not running? Not now, of course. It is still too early to even make a categorical declaration of his intention.
When he does, I believe Rody Duterte will be the country’s next President.
Here’s why:
The clamor of the people for him to lead the country is gaining intensity.
The proof to that was his surprise standing in the recent Pulse Asia survey which showed that he was tied for 3rd and 4th with former President Joseph Estrada.
This was actually the first time his name has been included in the survey on people’s preference for president.
If I were Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has declared his intention to run for President five years ago, I would be scared.
Binay’s 29 percent share of voters’ preference is not a reason to celebrate. It is, in fact, something that he should be worried of.
Consider these:
1. Binay has been campaigning since 2008 when he originally intended to run for President but settled for the vice presidential slot to Joseph Estrada;
2. Binay is the incumbent Vice President and housing Czar and he goes around the country literally campaigning;
3. In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Duterte, who has consistently said he has no interest to run, jumped in from nowhere to be tied for 3rd and 4th with former President Joseph Estrada at 12 percent.
4. All the other names included in the survey, except perhaps Grace Poe who garnered 14 percent, Bongbong Marcos who had 6percent, and Mar Roxas who has a dismal 4 percent, will almost definitely not run for President. The three have a total voters’ preference share of 24 percent.
5. The rest of the names listed have a total share of 32 percent and it is almost certain that aside from a portion of Mayor Estrada’s 12 percent, the voters who expressed preference for them do not like Binay. Theirs are the so-called “protest votes.”
6. As the chaff is separated from the grains, the supporters of the other presidential prospects who will not throw their hats into the presidential ring, will definitely look for an alternative candidate and it is almost sure that their votes will not go to Binay.
7. Binay’s national rating of 29 percent is buoyed by a still considerable support from Mindanao where he got 22 percent to Duterte’s 34 percent. As soon as Duterte declares his intention to run for President, expect half of Binay’s 22 percent to disappear as Mindanaoans are expected to grab this once in a lifetime opportunity to send one of their own to Malacañang in the hope that things will change for the better in the resource-rich but conflict-ridden island.
8. In the re-alignment of preferences after three or four names are left in the Presidential race, Binay’s 29 percent will either remain constant or it may even shrink depending on the resolution of the graft and corruption issues against him and the members of his family.
9. Duterte, Poe, Marcos and Roxas, should they decide to run for President will benefit most from the elimination of all the other “wannabes” in the presidency who have a total share of 45 percent of voters’ preference based on the recent Pulse Asia survey.
10. In a four or five-cornered fight for the presidency, Duterte will breeze through all the rest of the others because he will carry the almost solid Mindanao votes and the ethnic votes of the Visayans who also been dreaming of putting back one of their own in Malacanang. In 2016, Duterte will be the next President of the Philippines.
This is just an analysis based on the statistics provided by the Pulse Asia.
There is more to be considered why Duterte will win the presidency easily.
Among all the names being foisted for the presidency, it is only Duterte who carries a message and presents an agenda on how to address criminality, drugs, corruption, the Sabah issue, the West Philippine Sea conflict, the communist insurgency, rural development, food and agriculture and most of all, the Bangsamoro problem.
Duterte’s record in the fight against crime, corruption and drugs and his reputation to be able to instill discipline in a city of almost 2 million which has been named one of the World’s Safest Cities, appeal to people in Metro Manila who are sick and tired of corruption and crime.
All the others, including the veteran politician Vice President Binay, rely on motherhood statements which do not provide a definite approach to deal with the country’s problems.
The Vice President’s ad lines saying “Kay Binay, Gaganda ang Buhay” and “Ganito kami sa Makati…” will not ring a bell in a country beset with serious problems in crime, drugs, lack of food, China’s expansionism, the Bangsamoro issue and the communist insurgency.
The last factor which would seal the presidency for Duterte is if either Grace Poe or Mar Roxas, given his slim to zero chances of winning the presidency, would agree to be the Vice Presidential candidate to the Davao City Mayor.
Poe with her 14 percent mass support or Roxas’ well-entrenched and well-oiled political machinery will be icing on the cake.
When this happens, it will be all over but the voting and the counting.
As we boxing men say it: “Tapos na ang boksing.”

Shaming the republic

By Rod Kapunan
Part I
When Newsbreakcame out with an article dated March 18, 2013 to mark the 45th commemoration of the so–called “Jabida Massacre,” authors Marites Danguilan Vitug and Glenda M. Gloria claimed that at least 23 Muslim trainees were summarily gunned down.  Nobody asked where they got their story and what made them conclude that a massacre took place in Corregidor Island.  To them, destroying the image and memory of Marcos and the integrity of the Republic does not matter. All that is important is they succeed in ingratiating themselves to their foreign patrons. 
Maybe we can speculate, but when writing crosses the line of objectivity, speculation is automatically reduced to propaganda of the worst kind because the authors allowed themselves to be made accomplice to the shaming the Republic.   To quote their canard:   “Arula’s memory of this day remains vivid: We went to the airport on a weapons carrier truck, accompanied by 13 (non-Muslim) trainees with their M-16 and carbines.  When we reached the airport, our escorts alighted ahead of us.  Then Lt. Eduardo Nepomuceno ordered us to get down from the truck and line up […].  As we put down our bags, I heard series of shots.  Like dominoes, my colleagues fell.  I got scared.  I ran and was shot at, in my left thigh.   I don’t know that I was running towards a mountain…By 8 am, I was rescued by two fishermen on Caballo Island, near Cavite.”       
A presidential helicopter swooped down on Corregidor shortly after the killings.  Officers and men belonging to the Army Special Forces leaped out of the aircraft and engaged in a clandestine cover-up mission to erase traces of the massacre.” 
When they landed, the teams of soldiers found burned bodies tied to trees, near the airstrip, on the island’s bottom side.  The order from Army chief Gen. Romeo Espino was to clean up the place and clear it of all debris.  From afternoon till sunset, they collected charred flesh and bones and wrapped them in dark colored ponchos.  They could not keep track of how many bodies were there.  They also picked up bullet shells lying on the airstrip.  The trainees had been shot before they were tied and burned.”    
At the crack of down the next day, they loaded the ponchos in the helicopter and flew over Manila Bay. They tied heavy stones to the ponchos before dumping them all into the sea.  The remains sank, weighed down by the stones.  The soldiers made sure nothing floated to the surface.”
One need not contradict that fantasy.  All that a reader should do is read the privilege speech made by Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. delivered on March 28, 1968 in the Senate Hall barely a week after the incident.  Compare Ninoy’s narrative of the events and their version.  To quote him:   “Jibin Arula, in his sworn statement, said that upon reaching the airstrip they were told to get off their weapons carrier.  They were told to form a line. 
With all the stored-up suspicion in mind, Jibin Arula must have thought that his time to be killed had come.
We can only conjecture at this point that happened.”
Arula must have made a dash for his life, thinking that they had been brought to the airstrip to be ‘slaughtered.’
“Told to halt by his escorts, he kept running.
His escorts shot him in the leg to force him to stop.
He kept going – and the rest is history.
What happened to his eleven companions?
Were they really ‘massacred’?
“Some say that when the firing started with Jibin Arula, his companions ducked.  So that Arula was correct when he said that he saw his companions fall to the ground.
But were they shot?  Or did they duck because of the firing?
The army says that the eleven are alive.  As soon as the army authorities produced the other eleven recruits, the sorry mess of Corregidor should find its end.   
“Meanwhile, in Jolo yesterday, I met the first batch of 24 recruits aboard RP-68.  This group was earlier reported missing or even worse, believed “massacred”.
William Patarasa, 16 years old, one of the leaders of the petitioners, in effect corroborated all the points raised by Jibin Arula.  But he denied knowledge of any massacre.”
Comparing the two versions of the story, one could say that even if Senator Aquino was motivated by his habit of making a political grandstanding, he nonetheless tried to verify the statement made by Arula by interviewing the trainees, and found out that indeed they were sent home to Jolo.   In the case of the two “seekers of the truth”, they came out with their own conclusions that several Muslim trainees were gunned down, tied their dead bodies to a treed, burned, and given the burial by dumping their charred remains at Manila Bay wrapped in ponchos and tied to big stones to make sure they will sink and forever forgotten by history. 
They committed the worst act of disinformation because they came out with a story that was meant to shame, embarrass, humiliate and put the republic in bad light.  They violated the sacred rule of journalism by maliciously and intentionally presenting to our people contemptible canard that our soldiers could commit such a heinous crime of killing supposedly one of their own.  To this day, the same investigative journalists had not come out with a single article telling our people how our badly injured Special Action Forces were finished off by the MILF rebels by shooting them on the head with a handgun.  As if to be proud of their dastardly crime, they had their act of brutality videoed and posted on the Internet for all of us to see.  All that is heard from them is that we approve the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to give peace a chance.
To make their canard sound savvy, the authors claim that it was from a Presidential helicopter that General Espino alighted and immediately the soldiers ordered to clear and clean the place of the debris.  They emphasized the word “Presidential” helicopter to insinuate that President Marcos had knowledge that a massacre would take place, and the visit by General  Romeo Espino was to make sure that the “order” was carried out to the letter. 
But in Ninoy’s own account, the alleged visit made by General Espino took place months before the alleged massacre, to quote him again:
Shortly before Jabidahs landed on Corregidor (in January 3), a top level team of defense officials led by then Defense Undersecretary Manuel Syquio and Brig. Gen. Romeo Espino, commander of the Philippine Army, inspected the campsite.  The old Corregidor hospital was cordoned off and declared a restricted area.”      
Ninoy never mentioned that the two defense officials came on board a Presidential helicopter or that their visit took place immediately after the alleged massacre to insinuate that Marcos have an advance knowledge of what happened, and that the surprise visit was to make sure the ghastly order was carried out.

Hyatt 10’s duplicity and hypocrisy on presidential apology

In serious studies of the presidency, there is a recurring complaint against its highly personalized character and vast powers. No adviser holds office independently of the president. Cabinet secretaries and agency chiefs are hired and fired at whim, which means they are without constitutional power.
It was in light of taming power and excess that the much-hyped resignation of the Hyatt10 (8 cabinet members and 2 agency chiefs) from the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was viewed and welcomed. Yet, as we learn more about the events at the time and the individuals constituting the group, we find that there is less and less to like about them.
Indeed, the depiction of Hyatt 10 as “Hayop 10” is turning out to be correct. The people in the group that the media portrayed as holier-than-most are as grubby and unscrupulous as our pork-addicted politicians. Obsessed with positions and budgets, they could cost the nation billions more before the books of the Aquino presidency are closed.
First apology, then double-cross
From Mindanao, former press secretary Jesus Dureza (during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency) has sent me an intriguing update on the subject of “presidential apologies” that spreads villainy like peanut butter.
It appears that the public clamor for PNoy to apologize for his role in the Mamasapano incident has stirred Dureza’s not-so-fond memories of Hyatt 10 and the Hello Garci controversy.
Here’s an excerpt from Dureza’s note:
“If we recall, the Hyatt 10 were the ones who prevailed upon former President Arroyo to say ‘I’m sorry’ for the Garcillano issue. I know this because I sat in the Arroyo Cabinet when the issue was discussed.
“The president herself intentionally skipped attending that session day to allow the whole Cabinet to freely and openly discuss the pros and cons. We were deeply divided. The majority did not agree that PGMA should say ‘I’m sorry.’ But one faction with Secretaries Dinky Soliman, Ging Deles, and Cesar Purisima as leaders argued that the President must apologize openly to the nation to save her government.
“When PGMA did what they advised her to do, the next thing they did was to treacherously abandon her. They resigned en masse from the Cabinet, wrongly believing that her government would then collapse.
“That’s all behind us now. Coincidentally (or by stroke of fate), they are all now cozily seated in the Aquino Cabinet. Question: are they also similarly advising PNoy to say “I’m sorry’?”
Why did the majority opinion in the Arroyo Cabinet not rule? Was it the noise that president Cory was stirring outside? Was she promoting a coup for a change?
In any case, GMA did listen to the aggressive lobby for an apology by Hyatt 10.
If the object of the apology was to save GMA’s government, why did they resign? Or was the point precisely to bring down her government?
Dureza concluded his missive by offering unsolicited advice to President PNoy: Don’t listen to them, Mr. President. Look what they did to the former president!
So here’s my question to this bunch of bureaucrats. Have you advised President Aquino to offer his apologies to the nation for the Mamasapano tragedy?
In truth, according to The Manila Times sources at the Palace and in the Cabinet, none of the Hyatt 10 veterans has advised Aquino to apologize for Mamasapano to save his government. They have studiously stayed away from the controversy. They are anxious to keep their posts and their huge budgets.
Hypocrisy and double cross
Their failure to advise Aquino to apologize adds the sin of hypocrisy to Hyatt 10’s duplicity and deception of President Arroyo.
They arm-twisted Arroyo into apologizing, ostensibly to save her government. In the case of Aquino, whose presidency is twisting in the wind because of Mamasapano, their advice is for him to keep his lips zipped.
It’s doubly a disservice to the public, because their intervention in the national interest could spare the nation further grief.
Compare them with former congressman Walden Bello, who had the courage of his convictions, and resigned his seat in the House of Representatives, in protest against Aquino’s failure to take responsibility for Mamasapano. Bello is not even a member of the Aquino administration. He was just an ally in Congress.
When they announced their resignation in 2005, Hyatt 10 took refuge in patriotic pretensions.
They declared: “The President can be part of the solution to this crisis by making the supreme sacrifice for God and country to voluntarily relinquish her office and allow her constitutional successor, the Vice President, to assume the Presidency. Resignation is a legitimate constitutional option for effecting leadership change. Given the crisis in the Presidency, this is the least disruptive and painful option that can swiftly restore normalcy and eventually bring us to prosperity.”
At the time of this statement there was no crisis in the presidency. The fact is that the apology they forced on President Arroyo and their collective resignation created the appearance of a crisis.
That situation proved momentary. Things quickly stabilized when former president Fidel V. Ramos and Speaker Joe de Venecia visited Arroyo in Malacañang. And soon GMA was moving forward to managing the economy in earnest and strengthening relations with other countries.
As for Hyatt 10, most of them, except for one member who succumbed to illness and another who was exposed for his ties to Janet Lim-Napoles, went on to join the new government of President Benigno BS. Aquino in 2010.
Soliman, Deles and Purisima were rewarded for their efforts with the same key positions in the new administration. Florencio Abad moved on to greater heights of ignominy as the budget and management secretary. Others took lucrative positions in government corporations.
Did Hyatt 10 in any way resemble the group of happy warriors described by Shakespeare in Henry V: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…”
No way. This was from the start a cabal for selfish ends.
With Hyatt 10’s primal survival instincts, it won’t be surprising if they are now already plotting to keep their posts in the next administration – by changing stripes or making a deal. (Bobi naughtily reported last year that Purisima has intimated to VP Binay that he wants to keep his strategic post at Finance.)
But their top priority, like that of President Aquino, is to avoid the jailhouse.
Cautionary tale for future presidents
For writing these words, I will be seen mistakenly by some as an Arroyo partisan, which I am not. I write this as a serious observer and student of the Philippine presidency. I had the privilege of working with two presidents (President Marcos and President Ramos), and I value greatly the experience and insight that those stints gave me on presidential politics and policymaking.
Mr. Dureza’s piece of news on Hyatt 10 is interesting as presidential history and as a cautionary tale for once-and-future presidents of the republic.
Journalism, I learned early, was invented as an antidote to gossip.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Divorce: Perhaps they’ll listen now

By Val G. Abelgas
Divorce-DecreeIn the last 10 years, the Social Weather Station (SWS) has conducted only three surveys on the need to have a divorce law in the Philippines. In each of the last two surveys, the number of those who favored divorce rose dramatically, indicating a clear change of Filipinos’ attitude towards divorce.
In May 2005, about 45% of respondents favored divorce. This figure jumped to 50% in March 2011. The latest survey, which was conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 last year, revealed that 60 percent of 1,800 respondents agree that “Married couples who have already separated and cannot reconcile anymore should be allowed to divorce so that they can get legally married again” while 29 percent disagreed and 11 percent were undecided on the issue.
The latest figure should finally convince our lawmakers that it is time to revisit the proposed divorce bill that has been gathering dust in Congress for more than 15 years.
For many years now, the issue of divorce would crop up, discussed in the media and in Congress briefly, and then vanishes from the public consciousness just as fast.
In July 2010, encouraged by the recent overwhelming approval in a referendum of the proposed divorce law in Malta, Gabriela party list Representatives Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus revived House Bill 1799, entitled “An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines”.
Malta, a small island nation below the Italian peninsula, is 95% Catholic while the Philippines is 81% Catholic. The passage of Malta’s divorce law left the Philippines the last holdout in the divorce issue outside of the Vatican.
HB 1799 sought to give couples in irreparable marriages a legal remedy in addition to laws on legal separation and annulment. The bill never got beyond committee level. Ilagan and fellow Gabriela Party-list Rep. Emmi de Jesus refiled the bill last year as HB 4408.
Under the bill, divorce may be filed if the petitioner has been separated de facto from his or her spouse for at least five years and reconciliation is highly improbable; if the petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years and reconciliation is highly improbable; when any of the grounds for legal separation has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage; when one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations; or when the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
In 2012, when two young senators admitted that they had parted ways with their respective spouses, fellow young and separated Senator Pia Cayetano said it was about time discussions on the proposed divorce bill be resumed.
Cayetano, who has been separated from her husband for 11 years now, said: “I really think it’s high time for the divorce bill.”
“I’ll tell you why. I’ve talked to lawyers, psychologists and psychiatrists and it’s so traumatic to go through annulment because under our Philippine laws, you have to blame someone, you have to say you’re incapacitated, you’re saying that this marriage never existed, which is not true,” she said.
“Ask anyone, I’m sure at some point in time whether it’s one year or 10 years or 20 years, they loved each other, so why can’t you call it what it is? We loved each other, something went wrong, it’s done. Why will you say it never existed?” she asked.
The divorce bill was first introduced in the 11th Congress, about the same time the RH bill was filed, making them the most contentious, yet unresolved measures for more than a decade. The RH Bill has been passed over the strong objections of the Church, but the divorce bill remains hanging.
“Let us not keep our country in the Dark Ages,” Ilagan said in pushing for the approval of the bill.
Indeed, the country has been kept in the dark primarily because of the stubborn stand of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines against it. The Church has remained blind to the realities of modern Philippine society, just as it has remained incognizant of the adverse effects of uncontrolled population growth to the Philippines and its people.
Extreme poverty, lack of education, financial problems, prolonged separation in the case of couples where one or both are working abroad, and other social ills that were not prevalent until about a few decades ago, are putting many marriages in the Philippines under tremendous pressure.
The phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos departing for work abroad annually, leaving behind their spouses and children, has resulted in broken families and wayward children. It is not uncommon for the spouse left behind to commit adultery, and their children to grow amidst this immoral environment and without the guidance of both parents. The same goes for the spouse abroad, who meets another man or woman, married or unmarried, who shares his or her loneliness and cohabit, sometimes bearing illegitimate children.
The adultery, as we all know, is not limited to spouses whose partner is abroad. Even those who earn enough for both spouses to remain in the country are not immune from marital transgressions. Many men maintain mistresses mainly because of the availability of young women willing to cohabit without the benefit of marriage just to escape poverty.
A big majority of our national leaders, including the lawmakers on whose hands fall the authority to pass such a law, are men who want to enjoy the best of both worlds – keeping their family intact while enjoying the benefits of infidelity.
It is not a coincidence that those pushing for the divorce bill in Congress are women. It is also not a coincidence that all over the world, a big percentage of those filing for divorce are women. It is not difficult to understand that in most failed marriages, it is the women who suffer more – victims of domestic abuse and violence, and neglected or abandoned by philandering or alcoholic husbands. Many of these women suffer in silence in the Philippines.
In millions of households, both men and women who are trapped in marital commitment constantly quarrel, often in front of their helpless children who grow up in a confused and violent environment. Often, men turn to other women and bear illegitimate children, and then abandon their legal wives and children because of lack or laxity of laws that should have held them accountable.
Many couples have irreparable differences that lead to almost daily verbal and physical abuse. And yet, they remain living together for lack of a law that would allow them to legally and properly part ways, and seek the peace and happiness that they couldn’t find in their present partner.
Many couples have simply lost the love that brought them before the altar or before a marriage minister, and have found instead contempt and sadness. And yet, they are confined to their hopeless situation because of the lack of a divorce law.
Opponents of divorce say there are legal remedies for these people stuck in failed marriages.
There is legal separation, a decree rendered by a court allowing spouses to live separately but they remain married to each other. The couple can also file for annulment, or declaration to nullify marriage. The legally separated spouses cannot re-marry, while in the case of annulment and declaration to nullify marriage, they can re-marry. The proposed divorce law also allows them to re-marry, with added protection, such as child support, alimony and child custody.
The problem with annulment of voidable marriage and declaration of nullity of marriage is that most of the grounds are difficult to prove and require a lot of money to prove before the court. Only the rich can and have actually availed of its benefits, that’s why it’s not unusual to read about movie and TV celebrities and businessmen filing for annulment of marriage, and why until three years ago, only 8,000 annulments have been issued so far. And worse, it is the aggrieved party who must shoulder the exorbitant costs.
Meanwhile, the average Maria has to continue to suffer psychologically and physically from her marriage to an abusive and irresponsible husband. The children likewise have to continue living in an environment where contempt and abuse have replaced love and respect. The end result: A society of confused, wayward and lawless individuals.
For years, lawmakers have largely ignored the call for a divorce law in the Philippines because of pressures from the Roman Catholic Church. With three out of five Filipinos favoring a divorce law according to the latest SWS survey – as folk singer Don McLean says in the song “Vincent” – “perhaps they’ll listen now.”

Prevarications of PNoy never end (1)

First of two parts
THE front page headline of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) last Tuesday, March 24, was an intriguing “PNoy seeks understanding” over the Mamasapano Massacre. Below it was a subhead: “He won’t Apologize, say Palace sources.” Amazing fellow!
In short, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd wants us – his alleged “Bosses” – to try to understand what happened with ‘Mercy & Compassion,’ as per Pope Francis’ famous message during the papal visit to Manila. However, the President will not – never! – say “sorry” for his fatal mistakes. This is all so confusing! Another instance of Hubris & Hypocrisy?
How can we, the Filipino people, give our understanding to the situation of President Aquino when he will NOT TELL THE TRUTH? In the past two months since PNoy gave his first press conference on January 28, what he has been saying is his own pathetic version of the truth on the debacle that resulted in the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) elite commandos.
Last Saturday, President B.S. Aquino 3rd talked about the Operation Exodus. He spoke of the betrayal of trust by his close friend, resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima. The headline of the Inquirer last Monday, March 23, was “Purisima Let Me Down.” PNoy also blamed sacked SAF Commander Getulio Napenas, Jr. for his failure to communicate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
PNoy accused Purisima and Napeñas of deception. “If I (was) at fault here. It was because I trusted these people. Why did I fail to detect they were misleading me,” the President said in an exclusive 33-minute interview with the Inquirer. However, the real problem is not that he was deceived, but his trusting Purisima and making him illegally in charge of a top secret police operation inspite of his suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman!
Sad to say, what PNoy told the Inquirer (PDI) was replete with prevarications. First, he claims that his only directive to Purisima was to coordinate with the PNP Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Espina. This is supposedly because his BFF (Best Friend Forever) was already suspended as PNP Chief by the Ombudsman as of December 4, 2014. Fine.
However, what makes the story of President B. S. Aquino 3rd incredible is his giving an important order to a suspended PNP Chief. PNoy should have asked DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, the superior of the Acting PNP Chief, to be the one to coordinate with Deputy Director General (DDG) Espina. Unfortunately, Secretary Roxas was also “out of the loop” just like Espina! Was there a conspiracy to keep them both in the dark?
What President Aquino should have done was to immediately meet his DILG Secretary and the PNP OIC after he was informed by his National Security Adviser (NSA) on January 08 that Espina was “not in the loop.” It is very serious that a major police operation involving almost 400 troops does not have the knowledge and approval of the Acting PNP Chief.
Aquino then did nothing but, as he said, wonder why Espina was “not in the loop.” He did not pursue an answer from his NSA during the meeting. What kind of president would react in such passive a manner with a major counter-terrorism mission of the SAF?
After being apprised that the Acting PNP Chief was “not in the loop” on the operation Exodus, President Aquino could have invited Espina for the briefing the next day on January 9 presented by the SAF Commander Napeñas in Malacanang. His statements in the Inquirer published last Monday severely contradict each other.


(After the Senate committee and the BOI reports came out, Goldberg and Del Rosario still insist there was no US involvement in Operation Exodus. Geeezzz!)
Grace-Poe.1Senator Grace Poe who presided over the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano Massacre said she found it very difficult and felt awkward to say that President Noynoy Aquino was ultimately responsible for the incident because he is her friend.
I do not think she should lose sleep over it though. It was the right conclusion. Besides, nineteen of her Senate colleagues agree with her.
However, I was taken aback a little when she said she still highly respects Noynoy. After all the lies to try and extricate himself from ultimate responsibility? Now, that’s taking respect a little too far, I think.
I hope she is not merely trying to be “political”. No need! I believe she is on the right track and she should stay the course. People will have faith in her even more.
Kudos to Director Benjamin Magalong and his team of the PNP Board of Inquiry for standing by the conclusions in their report on the Mamasapano Massacre.
“Again uulitin ko, we stand by our word. Di namin pinapalitan yung conclusions namin, yung findings namin dun sa aming BOI report. At yung meeting kay Presidente, it does not affect yung aming report sa investigation on Mamasapano,” Magalong said.
All right, Sir!
It was stupid of US Ambassador Philip Goldberg to say that “we weren’t involved in the planning, we weren’t involved in the execution” of Operation Exodus that led to the Mamasapano Massacre after the Senate and the PNP Board of Inquiry came out with their findings.
But “stupid” does not even come close to describing Super Amboy aka Giant Smiley DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario. “Moronic”, maybe?
Del Rosario reportedly said, after the Senate and BOI reports came out, that he was standing by his statement that Operation Exodus was “100 percent” Philippine operation.
Both the Senate and BOI reports confirmed US involvement, based on eyewitness testimonies. How can he even say what he said? Whose side is he on, anyway?
For instance, was he calling AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang who confirmed the involvement of Americans in Mamasapano a liar?
Catapang said that one of the Americans involved in the operation even asked Army 6th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen Edmundo Pangilinan to provide artillery support to the SAF commandos.
Pangilinan reportedly rejected the request due to the absence of the needed grid coordinates.
Whether the six Americans who were in the Shariff Aguak SAF tactical command post or those who took part in the evacuation of wounded SAF troopers were “private contractors”, as Del Rosario claims, is not relevant at all. They are still in the payroll of and are working with the US military.
Del Rosario also allegedly said there were no US drones used in monitoring Operation Exodus. How did he know that? Was he there? Or the Americans merely told him so?
One final question: “Is Del Rosario doubling as the US Embassy deputy spokesman? If so, he should quit as DFA head and hold office in the basement of the US Embassy fortress on Roxas Boulevard.
Amidst all the calls from different quarters for him to apologize to his bosses for the Mamasapano Massacre, Malacanang’s glib chief spokesman pleaded for more time for Noynoy to think about it.
I daresay it is too late, very late, for an apology now. Given his very low
emotional quotient, Noynoy will not be able to exude or project the necessary emotion to make a sincere apology. It will only make him sink deeper in the quagmire he is already in.
The spokesman also said that Noynoy fears nothing. Hmm… except telling the truth?
Tumahimik na lang siya and endure all the brickbats thrown his way because of the Mamasapano tragedy and instead concentrate on what I said about a month ago:
“The call for the resignation or impeachment of Noynoy from several quarters is really not absurd. Nearly five years of Noynoy’s inept governance have left them bewildered and frustrated. One can readily understand their feeling.
“There was great hope in the beginning, especially when Noynoy professed his “daang matuwid” slogan. Admittedly, he has made some good stride in that direction. Unfortunately, he fell short when it came to dealing with the inept and corrupt people in his cabinet, other government agencies and some of his KKKKKKKs.
“If he is serious about trying to regain the trust and confidence of his bosses he should forthwith get rid of these NPAs (Non-Performing Assets) and let their deputies take over while he is looking for the right replacements. He should waste no time doing this to show his bosses he is decisive and means business this time. He can no longer afford to procrastinate in this matter. He has only 15 months left in his term to try and redeem himself with a modicum of credibility.
“Too, he can no longer afford to have another major mishap from now.
Take the MRT mess, for instance. Heaven forbid, but should another accident take place that claims many lives, his goose is cooked. With or without an exit plan, he will surely have to exit just the same. How? Nobody knows. But exit he will.
“The looming power shortage is also like a dark cloud hovering over his head. Should it come to pass, it will consign him to the dustbin of our history as the King of Darkness, just as the beloved Cory was dubbed the Queen of Darkness, ironically during the homestretch of her watch as well. Already, extended brownouts are occurring in some parts of the land and summer is not even in full swing yet.”
US senators have finally taken notice of China’s land reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea and said “a formal US strategy was needed to slow or stop the work”.
They also said that with a comprehensive strategy, “long-standing interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk”.
Such comprehensive strategy should include doing what the Chinese are doing – reclamation in areas that belong to the Philippines by virtue of international law in the West Philippine Sea.
Months ago, I suggested that instead of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) which would grant the US “agreed locations” in the Philippine mainland for the increased “rotational presence” of American troops and “pre-positioned” armaments that may conceivably include nuclear weapons in the country, they should just locate them in the said areas in the WPS.
Such US presence in the WPS will certainly make the Chinese think what they may have in mind twice over. That will also rid us of the built-in disadvantages embodied in the EDCA.
Malacanang’s denial that MILF chief Al Haj Ebrahim Murad and chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal do not hold Malaysian passports just doesn’t wash.
The fact that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) says that the two have no travel records in its database is a dead giveaway. Didn’t Murad meet with Noynoy in Tokyo some years back? What about Iqbal’s frequent travels to Kuala Lumpur?
If, as the BI says, they may have been using different names, isn’t that punishable by law?
And why didn’t Malacanang refer the question to the DFA which is the agency that issues passports?
Hay naku, pati ba naman ‘yan, itinatago pa sa taong-bayan?
My take: The two have Malaysian passports, courtesy of Kuala Lumpur, to facilitate their travels, clandestine or otherwise, to countries outside of ASEAN, particularly to Middle East countries. Sad to say, but it is not easy for Philippine passport holders to get visas for travel to most countries.
Isn’t there a law that requires government officials to divest themselves of their business interests that could be regarded as “conflict of interest” while performing their duties.
If there is, then why has our ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia apparently not done so?
Following are excerpts from an article written by Mr. Victor Agustin of the Philippine Star last 16 March 2015. His revelation raises the questions 1) how much time does Cuisia spend coming home to attend to his business interests?; and 2) does he apply for leave of absence whenever he leaves his post?:
“Our ambassador to the United States has done another fine job juggling his diplomatic commitments in Washington and corporate obligations in Makati.
“Despite the trans-Pacific distance, Jose Cuisia Jr., now pushing 72, attended seven out of seven board meetings of Manila Water last year.
“That is a perfect record that even eclipsed that of the Manila Water chairman, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, and his elder brother Jaime Augusto, who both missed one meeting each.
“For his efforts, Cuisia picked up P2.3 million in director’s fees last year to augment the piddling pay checks that Juan de la Cruz wires him every 15th and end of the month.
“In addition to Manila Water, the retired central bank governor happens to also be a director of SM Prime Holdings, where Cuisia is actually the vice chairman, and of another listed company, the industrial-services conglomerate Phinma.
“According to SM Prime, Cuisia last year attended six out of the six board meetings, matching his wheelchair-bound chairman, retail tycoon Henry Sy Sr.
“As well, Cuisia diligently attended all five meetings of the audit and risk committee, which he chairs, and all two of the nomination committee.
“In addition to the three public companies, Cuisia also juggles directorial duties in six private companies, including the chairmanship of local Chevrolet dealer The Covenant Car and the vice-chairmanship of Philam Life.
“His excellency should be back in the Philippines by the Holy Week, a timely escape from the bitter winter in the US capital, to make it to the Manila Water shareholders’ meeting on April 7.
“The week could stretch by another, since SM Prime and Phinma are scheduled to hold their respective annual shareholders’ meetings both on April 14.
“Given the delicate condition that the SM taipan now finds himself in, Cuisia will have to be at SM Aura in The Fort (the Sys actually refer to their high-end mall as being located in Taguig, and outside the jurisdiction of the Ayala-dominated Fort Bonifacio Development Corp.) to preside over the SM Prime meeting.
“Hopefully, the affair, which starts at 2:30 pm, would be short and sweet, as the ambassador will have to hop into his limousine to join his high school buddy and now technically his boss, Ramon del Rosario Jr., over at Rockwell for the Phinma meeting at 4 pm.”
The Reminders (for Noynoy) portion of this column will be published next week.
From an internet friend:
A blonde canvassed a wealthy neighborhood looking for odd jobs. She went to the front door of the first house and asked the owner if he had anything for her to do.
“Well, you can paint my porch. How much will you charge?”
She replied, “How about $50?”
The man agreed and told her the paint was in the garage. A short time later, the blonde came to the door to collect her money.
“You’re finished already?” he asked.
“Yes,” the blonde answered, “and I had paint left over, so I gave it two coats.” Impressed, the man reached in his pocket for the $50.
“And by the way,” the blonde added, “that’s not a Porsche; it’s a Ferrari.”