Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Moral Decay in the House of Glory(a)

I have never seen such degradation and decline of values in our society as the one we are witnessing today. The quest for more power and riches displayed by our politicians especially the majority bloc in the Lower House has totally diminished any sense of respect we can afford them. With the admission of Nograles that a successful impeachment could spell disaster for them, one would ask why run for public office if you are only after your personal gains? How can he then say that personal ambition drove the minority to push for impeachment? The minority if we remember lost all their positions after the botched impeachment last year. Gone too were their "pork" which mandated by law should be given to them. IRA of cities allied with the opposition have also been withheld. They wouldn't take this risk of earning the ire of GMA if they would benefit from it.

At least now we know what kind of members the majority has. They are nothing but "Misrepresentatives" of the constituents they continue to toy and exploit. At least they now admit, although not directly, that they are fighting for their political survival. They sold their constituents out for what, certainly not to improve their districts but for their own political ambitions.

So what did we discover the past year? We have an administration devoid of moral values. An administration who have bastardized our institutions with its total disregard for basic human rights and congressional oversight. GMA also is pushing for more Filipinos to seek jobs abroad, treating our people as commodities for the sake of more dollar remittances and bragging rights for an economy which up to now has gone nowhere.

Is this the government we envisioned? Is this the kind of leadership we deserve? GMA's minions would argue even saying its the voter's fault and we got what we deserved, that we sold out votes for a few hundred pesos. If this had been the case, Garcillano would not have been appointed nor will there be a need to use the military for cheating in the last elections. How arrogant and stupid these people are. They must take us for fools and that we are to blame for the mess they created.

Governance is not all politics, being human enough to concern yourself with what your constituents need makes a good politician. To concern yourself with political survival is the least of one's worries if serving the people is what you ran for office for. Values is what makes a well rounded public servant, right now, this administration has none. Totally devoid of values that they continue to lie through their teeth in the name of personal ambitions. Moral decay of the government has led to apathy and impunity. Is this the legacy this administration would leave behind. I guess it is, all in the name of personal gain.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Worn Man By The Computer

Twenty years ago, after the fall of the dictator, I hoped for a new beginning for my country. From the time that Ninoy was imprisoned, nothing has filled our dinner time but politics. My Dad back then was fighting the PNB management for the rights of the workers and my uncle, helped defend Ninoy in court. My Dad brought me along in their pickets. I even attended campaign rallies of Laban when they ran for seats in the Marcos Parliament. I never thought that I would face the same scenes when my time came.

When Ninoy was assassinated, my parents left the country to seek refuge in the US. My Mom worked for the government and my Dad was a VP in one of the biggest banks. They had to give up their jobs to try to get us out one by one. We were left in the care of my aunt who was still single. I joined the rallies every Friday and on my free time joined the picket lines of our university's staff. In short, I became an activist. I was full of bravado and thought I was invincible, until one colleague was found mangled by the railroad in Laguna. Tortured and beaten to death. It all sank in and I quit school. Wary of what could happen to me, I had to lay low for a while. But still I did not miss the rallies. The Second Quarter Storm was an adrenaline rush for me. My sister and I got separated during the dispersal and I ended up in Plaza Dilao.

Then came the snap elections and I became more active. My Mom had returned to join me and my sister in the rallies. We campaigned for Cory. I still had to be careful and always on the lookout for any eventuality. After one of the biggest rallies in Luneta, we were almost "waylaid" by an unmarked car. Luckily, I saw a huge crowd near a chapel and quickly headed for them. My Mom was so shaken and kept asking me what was that all about. I just told her maybe its because of the huge NINOY banner on my car. Those three years were the most exciting years of my life. I never however entertained the thought of going "underground" unlike what most of my friends did. I told them I'd stick it out and take my chances. I always opted for a peaceful solution than an armed struggle.

My Mom received a call from the palace that fateful day in February telling her that the Marcos's had left. I thought that I would never join another "fiesta" in EDSA until 2001 came. I took my kids with me to give them the feeling of what's its like to attend a rally, just as my Dad did when I was a little boy. Now the wheel has come full circle and we have another dictator-wannabe. I guess time will come when I have to once again attend another "fiesta" to boot out another maniac.

Twenty years and I have yet to see my country flourish and grow as a nation. Migration has grown to leaps and bounds. Priorities have changed for the worst. The citizenry once again repressed by a few ambitious individuals. Parents driven out of our country to fend for their families. I cannot bear to see this country once again terrorized into submission by a self-proclaimed messiah who has done nothing but to enrich her family and her cohorts. And I thought that Marcos was cruel. At least he never pushed our citizens into slavery for the sake of dollar remittances to prop up her supposed to be strong economy.

Twenty years and I see my beloved Philippines back at square one. Life has gotten worse and has cultivated apathy and a culture of impunity. The faces I marched with during those dark years, now swallowed up by the very system we fought against. Am I a "WORN" man who sits by his computer all day typing away his thoughts? I'm not, I'm just waiting for the call to come when my country needs my nameless face once again to right what is wrong and stand up for my rights.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Political Survival

The blogsphere is buzzing with the Impeachment fever. As we all know, last year's "attempted " impeachment of GMA ended in a massacre of sorts. The leprechaun in the enchanted palace has managed to "cling" to power through bribery and repression. With the threat of a new impeachment, can she foil this process again? Can she still use her old tactics or are her "guards" in the lower house still dependable?

Her cohorts in the lower house are now in a tight spot as this process could spell the end to theirs and their family's political ambitions. With the Cha-Cha train stalled, their only hope of No-El gone, what options do they now have in dealing with this new impeachment? If you ask me, they have none. Their political survival is left on how they will "vote" on this new impeachment complaint.

We all know how those who voted for the impeachment last year suffered after their foiled attempt. Their pork withheld and some lost even their chairmanships. But now, the shoe is on the other foot as those who voted against are left to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Should they sign the complaint and get the ire of the pretending president, out goes their pork, their positions, their election funding and the other "benefits". Should they "kill" the impeachment again, they will be at the mercy of the electorate who for sure will repay them "unkindly" come 2007. The last-termers whose family members will be "replacing" them will definitely fall victims to the voters who will surely vent their ire on them. Now they must wrack their brains on what path they would take once impeachment day comes. They must be having sleepless nights now, while the opposition with nothing to lose can sit and watch them squirm. They have no control of their destiny as either path would definitely hurt them.

With the concerned citizens actively at the forefront of this new complaint, what now Mr. "Tongressman", what are you to do? The past has come to haunt you.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reform Not War

Last weekend, GMA declared an all-out-war against the CPP-NPA. With the promise to completely erradicate the insurgency and a purse of P 1B, she hopes to obliterate the rebels in 2 years. Is this the right path to take in finally ridding our country of insurgency?

Counter-insurgency is a battle of hearts and minds. People disillusioned with our economic and political system tends to embrace an ideology that gives them new hope and a better future. At a time when social disparity and injustice continues to grow, the least of our needs is a war that could finally shatter our economy into pieces.

What the administration should do is implement the proper reforms that would finally address the root of the rebellion. Social and judicial reforms are what the country need. Social inequality has since driven most of the insurgents to the communist ideology. Victims of injustice has no other recourse for their plight, thus sending them into the arms of the CPP-NPA. Unless the administration in all sincerity address this problems, we will never have peace in the countryside.

Will war then finally put an end to this lingering problem which has plagued our country since the 50's? Or would it will lead to abuse and further disenchantment of a populace long disregarded by an "elite" administration? The best way is just use the P 1B to finance socioeconomic programs that will benefit these disenchanted sectors of society. All talk and no walk leads to disillusion and disenchantment. Lip service is not a substitute to real peace and progress.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Testing, 1, 2, 3,

With the spate of "bombings" hitting the metro lately and the "noise" of Sigaw ng Bayan in the background, one would wonder if the administration is testing the political waters once again. Rumors of martial law or another state of emergency abound although the administration dismisses such thoughts. Sigaw recently warned of extra-constitutional means to push "their" Cha-Cha should the PI be shot down.

Although a rogue group "Tabak" has owned the bombings, we just cannot discount the probability that they are operating under the administration's auspices. I also wonder why such inconsequential targets have been bombed with hardly any damage at all. If I were a legit group out to make the administration pay for its wrongdoings, I would make sure I get the maximum results. Or the "Tabak" is legit and the other bombings are copycat operations by the authorities themselves to create an air of anarchy that would eventually justify martial law.

Another scary thought is Sigaw's threat of revolution to ram their Cha-Cha down our throats. With the PI stopped at every corner, they are now trying to scare the populace with a veiled threat. With this out in the open, why has not the administration acted on it. Its seditious to call for a rebellion isn't it? Or is this what the administration wants all along, to stage another coup to give GMA a reason to create a revolutionary government that would perpetuate her stay in power. Imagine the administration taking over itself. Though farfetched, this administration will do anything and everything no matter what the cost for its selfish interests. With a revolutionary government in place, GMA can now dissolve the congress and install her own brand of parliamentary system. I wonder how the apathetical middleclass will react should this happen.

Are these recent events just another ploy of the administration to test how the populace would react or are they laying the groundwork for their eventual power grab? One thing is for sure, the administration will stop at nothing to ensure its perpetual stay in power.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Independence: Just A Dream

As we celebrate 108 years of independence, let's look back at what we've accomplished. Or better yet, what are we today. My personal take is we have regressed and had failed miserably at what our heroes fought for. From being proud and free to being "slaves" in our own country and abroad. This administration in particular has turned our people into mere servants and latest, as cannon-fodder in another man's war.

Is this the independence we all long for or will we all be just slaves to a system who only changed its face and not its character. Oppression and corruption continues to be the order of the day and our institutions beholden and bastardized by a "pretender" who has nothing to offer but "lip service".

We continue to "beg" for what is really ours, we are still under the "influence" of a distant "brother", our economy driven and dictated by our enormous debt. In reality, we still do not decide our own fate but are left in the hands of power-hungry egomaniacs who has nothing better to do than to exploit us more. People who are devoid of values, principles and dignity.

So what have we learned all those years? We are still beset by the same problems our forefathers tried to eradicate. The poor become poorer, the rich become poorer and the "corrupt" are the ones reaping all the fruits of "OUR" labor. Those who tried to change our social and political landscape has either been, killed, dissillusioned and worst, swept by the raging tide of indecency and power play. Is this the independence we all want? Its about time we freedom-loving Filipinos open our eyes and take charge of our lives. Let us not allow ourselves to be what others would want but what we really want for ourselves. True independence can only be achieved if we assert ourselves and show our children that moral values, decency and principles should be in their hearts and minds. If we sit idly by and just let this system go its evil way, then independence will always be "just a dream".


Friday, June 09, 2006

Shadow Warriors: Soldiers of (MIS)Fortune

Recent reports of the intrepid Malaya has sparked a controversy regarding recruitment of "mercenaries" by the Blackwater Corp. Blackwater is engaged in training and deployment of "private security aides" for different individuals and governments. This report was however denied at first by the SBMA but later confirmed a pending application.

Reports also said that they are now looking for Filipinos with police and military backgrounds. Blackwater gained public attention after four of their "operatives" were butchered in Fallujah, Iraq in March of 2004. An interview by ABS-CBN tonight confirmed that 3,000 Filipinos are currently employed in Iraq as "shotgun riders" (security back-up) for supply convoys. Sniper (alias used by source) said that they earn as much as $2,500 a month. He added that they are no different from US military personnel and serve as augmentation security forces. Sniper said that there are more openings for "security aides" and encourages Filipinos to try to apply for these jobs. He however added that the "job" is quite dangerous and that he recently lost a driver during a "milk run". Fire-fights are common and they too have to fend off their ambushers from time to time. He stressed that with the lack of opportunity in the Philippines, Filipinos would be enticed by the high pay their employers give them.

Going by Malaya's report, Blackwater couldn't have picked a better place to hold office. Subic as we all know is a good training area for Escape and Evasion Tactics, Survival and even camouflage/concealment training. SBMA said that Blackwater intends to lease the shooting range and the nearby ordnance depot. Financial incentives offered by Blackwater ranges from $70,000 to $80,000 a year. Quite a fortune with the current exchange rate.

From exporting domestic help, entertainers, nurses, educators and caregivers, the Philippines has now graduated to "mercenaries". The administration might have gone too far with this latest caper as this will surely make our country a haven of sorts. We'll be hosting another "armed group" should this push through. From JI to Al Qaeda to "goons and guns for hire". Surely this will entice our police and military personnel. Soon, we will even have a shortage of policemen and soldiers. Will this really be a fortune or misfortune for our men in uniform?


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Of Blackmails and Pay-offs

Chairman Abalos yesteday sai that should the budget be disapporoved, there will be no elections next year. The COMELEC needs P2.3 B to conduct the elections. With the current stand-off at the bi-cam and the threat of another re-enacted budget, and GMA threatening to "VETO" a slashed budget, could it be that this is what Malacanang wants? Let's see what we have.

The lower house sat on the budget and approved it in May.
The palace inserted P31 B in president's pork.
Cabinet officials cited EO 464 and did not defend their proposed budget.
The senate wants to slash the inserted pork.
The congress adjourns without an approved budget.
We will end up with another re-enacted budget.

Could it be that the palace knew this would happen? Maybe it was their plan to have a re-enacted budget and take away the risk of their "friends in the lower house" losing their seats to incoming congressmen. The palace has no way of knowing if the next congress would still be "friendly" to them and would not want to face another impeachment. A stalemate would surely benefit GMA. No elections means that their "friends" would keep their positions until such time that an election could be conducted.

They failed to meet their deadline for Cha-Cha and the PI seems to be dead in the water. Every possible tactic has been employed by the administration to prevent GMA's ouster. The most logical solution for the administration is to force the senate to approve a re-enacted budget, thereby taking away the risk of an impeachment. No-El means her minions will still enjoy their pork and positions. Now the senate is backed against a wall. To approve the admistration's budget will give GMA the funds she needs to insure her minions' re-election. A re-enacted budget means No-El and her minions stay in power. GMA can also blame the senate for the continuing lack of basic services. A win-win situation for the administration if you ask me.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

It Starts With One Hello

A year had passed since Sec. Bunye held up two discs of what were supposed to be wire-tapped conversations of GMA and Garcillano, one an original and another a spliced fake. This opened a can of worms which would haunt the administration. In a preemptive move, the palace came up with a hair-brained plan to confuse the people and somehow muddle the issue. This we all know now had back-fired and had put them on the defensive ever since.

Impeachment fever is upon us again. Enormous funds will once again flow from the palace. This will however be more costly than last year's as their cohorts in congress will surely want a bigger piece of the pie., further draining our treasury of much need funds. And for what, to prop up an "illegitimate" occupant of the highest office of the land.

To this day, the administration had resorted to different tactics to hide the truth and hope that this controversy will just die a natural death.......or will it?


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Demise of the Education System

While reading the Phil. Star yesterday, I came upon Alex Magno's column. At first he admitted the existing shortage of classrooms. He then admitted the effect of overcrowded classrooms to a student's ability to grasp his lessons. At least he admitted this and did not deny it.

But then things went from admiration to being flabbergasted. He began to laud GMA's wisdom in solving the problem. He blamed the shortage of teachers instead. He said that the teachers would rather leave and become domestic helpers and caregivers then stick to a profession which pays a lot lower. Isn't it the administration's policy to get as many Pinoys as possible to work overseas? Why blame the teachers?

The annual decline of the DepEd's budget is to blame. Why point the finger somewhere else? With lesser funds to work with, the DepEd has to make do with what the administration gives them. The DepEd just cannot cope with the increasing number of enrollees every year. With the rising tuition fees in private schools, the parents are forced to send their kids to public schools instead. Yes, we can say that population is also a factor but we must consider the economic quagmire we are in. Education cost is just too much. It has become a "privilege than a right". The private sector has even pitched in to somehow alleviate the burden on the government. Definitely, someone somewhere is making a killing through all this.

The Fil-Chi Chamber of Commerce can construct a classroom less than half of what the government spends. Why not get their contractors to build this much needed rooms instead. Unless of course someone is really making a lot of dough. Our OFWs also have regular fundraisers to help in the "Classroom ni Gloria Program". Are these funds really used for its intended purpose?

Through all these, the children suffer the most. Underpaid and overworked teachers can only do so much. In the end, our public schools end up being diploma mills. Turning out graduates who are undereducated and unprepared. And for what, to satisfy the statisticians in Malacanang so they will have a good report on the administration's accomplishments in education. The reality is the literacy rate of our country will continue to decline unless the administration with all sincerity, really sits down and address this nagging problem.


Friday, June 02, 2006

The Numbers Say It All

In a recent comment in PCIJ, I asked if anyone can do the math on Bagong Tanyag Elementary School for me. Tongue in, anew, a regular commenter had this to say.

"Schumey, I doubt it's possible to get a 1:800 ratio... have 4 shifts of 4 hours each, for a class size of 200 each in the same classroom. That means classes start at 6AM for the first shift and ends at 10PM for the 4th shift.
I can't imagine how you can pack together 200 students in one regular sized room. I can't also imagine every teacher in Bagong Tanyag attending to 800 students for 16 hours everyday, that's brutal, isn't it?
Now your question of how to bring it down to the 1:50 ratio, diivide 800 by 50 = 16. That means that for every classroom now in that school 16 more have to be built PLUS allowance for population growth. The primetime news said that Bagong Tanyag Elem School has only "over 20 classrooms" and most classrooms have cracks and that the rain falls on students inside the rooms. (A classroom-to-pupil ratio of 1:800 and a classroom count of 20 makes 16,000 total student population for a small public school, and thus, to me, is unbelievable for now.)
A minimum of 320 classrooms to a maximum 494 have to be built."

Can GMA imagine the strain she puts on our children? I do not know where she got her numbers, but this only shows how insensitive this president is to the plight of our students. OFW's in Japan had poured in Y 6m in "Gloria's Classroom Program", and this is only one of the programs that is suppose to help maintain and build new classrooms. I hope these funds were not diverted to another "Presidential Social Program".

In the end, the numbers say it all.


1:50 Ratio: GMA's Dream, Students Nightmare

GMA said that this is their "agreed" ratio. She pointed out that 50 students can occupy a classroom per shift. That is 1:100 per day. She must be dreaming when she said that. While this may be the case in some schools, it however is just impossible in most. Today however, the Princess partly admitted there is a "minimal and tolerable" shortage of classrooms. This problem however would be soon solved she added. This partial admission could only be attributed to the unsavory bombardment she got from different sectors after her televised "tantrum".

Kara David tonight reported on the situation of the Tanyag Elementary School in Taguig. The ratio there is 1:829. And I thought that the school in Caloocan with a 1:317 ratio is the worst. This however does not end there. The roof of the school is so rusted that students wear raincoats during class whenever it rains. The walls too are at the verge of collapse. Parents had taken it upon themselves to somehow do the repairs on their own. They have also made makeshift classrooms out of discarded wood and other scraps. The small chapel had also been converted into a temporary classroom. The basketball court is now covered with patches of plastic to accommodate more students. The principal with teary eyes could only lament that their only concern is the children's education and health. A young student's only wish, "Pres. Arroyo, sana huwag ng umulan sa classroom namin".

Yes Princess, you can dream all you want, while the students live out their nightmare.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Conspiracy -Nick Joaquin's Interview with FG Arroyo

Credit should go to Mike Arroyo
THIS is a season of remembering those exhilarating days in January last year when Joseph Estrada, accused of betraying the trust of the Filipino people who elected him president, was ousted three years and five months short of his term.Believing in giving credit to where credit is due, we are reprinting here again excerpts of the interview with Mike Arroyo by the eminent Nick Joaquin on his role in the ouster of Estrada, which paved the way for his wife's takeover of the presidency.

The interview appeared in the March 5, 2001 issue of Philippine Graphic."She had really left the Cabinet at the right moment: the timing was perfect. If she had tarried a moment longer, she would have been too late for EDSA: she would have made it there as an opportunist. And as for the ill-feeling in Metro Manila, we tackled that by going back to the door-to-door campaign: she went from barangay to barangay explaining her motives, outlining her program. And it worked.

Then came the impeachment trial, and from there, tuloy-tuloy na."There was a time honestly, when I felt I erred in advising her to resign from the Cabinet. The masa in Manila apparently wanted her to stick it out with Erap. And when she started attacking him, everything fell on us - grabe!- everything! But I told myself: it's now or never; if we lose here we're totally destroyed and it's goodbye to her political career - but if we win here, she becomes President! So we really fought."We got all those Erap tapes from Ramon Jacinto and distributed them all over. We bought one million and a half million copies of Pinoy Times to give away so the public could read about the Erap mansions and bank accounts. "And when EDSA happened, we texted everybody to go running there.

EDSA, EDSA: everybody converge on EDSA! Panalo kung panalo. Patay kung patay! Jinggoy had already announced what they would do to us if they won. "Chavit Singson had Plan B involving elements of the military to strike the first blow. They would kindle the spark by withdrawing from the government, and one by one others would follow: Class '71 would also withdraw, then Class '72, and so forth. But General de Villa warned that the timing had to be precise because one untimely move against the government and the military would automatically defend it. The move must be made at what De Villa called a 'defining moment.'"You see, General De Villa had his Plan A, which was better than ours, because his was focused on the Chief of Staff and the Service Commanders.

At past one o'clock p.m. January 20, Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes defected but we knew that already the night before, when negotiations had lasted until the small hours. By past 2 a.m. we knew Reyes had been convinced to join. His only condition was: Show us a million people on EDSA so it will b easier to bring in the service commanders."And they asked when the crowd was thickest; we told them: from three to five in the afternoon. So they agreed to come to EDSA at around that time. But while hiding in their safehouse, they got reports that General Calimlim could not be located and their first thought was: "He's out looking for us!" So they decided to rush to EDSA right away. When they got there, why there too at the Shrine was Calimlim! He had been looking for them all right, but join to join them, not to arrest them! "Our group there was a back-up strike force. In fact, it was our group that won over to our side the PNP first. If Panfilo Lacson had resisted, he and his men would have been repelled: there would have been bloodshed, but not on EDSA.

In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counter-force to face it, with orders to shoot. And not only in Metro Manila. Carillo had already been sent to the provinces; and in Nueva Ecija, for instance, we had Rabosa. This was a fight to the finish. That's why those five days that Erap was demanding were so important. He was counting on counter-coups and baliktaran."I was negotiating with Pardo up to three o'clock in the morning: niloloko lang pala kami. But I told him point-blank: "If by six o'clock this morning you haven't given us the resignation letter, we will storm the gates of Malacanang!' But they insisted on more talk: with De Villa up front, and my back channel debate with Pardo, which even became a three-way contest, with Buboy Virata pitching in."But the threat to march to Malacañang was for real. And so was the danger of bloodshed. I wasn't telling Gloria everything: I didn't want her alarmed. So she didn't know about the orders to shoot."

After Erap's testimony in the Sandiganbayan, this story is worth re-posting. For additional reference, you may visit the Tribune's Website.


Lie or Consequence

What a supposed to be showcase cabinet meeting turned to a comedy of sorts. OIC Fe Hidalgo of the DepEd while making her presentation caught the ire of Princess Laila. They then had a "debate" on the shortage of classrooms. The Princess obviously irked tried to save face and drilled the hapless OIC. She insisted that the figures given by Ms. Hidalgo were grossly erroneous. The Princess then told Ms. Hidalgo to go back to her office and get the "corrected" data. This was happening in front of the Malacanang Press Corps. In the afternoon, Ms. Hidalgo with Sec. Defensor, closely monitoring her held a press conference where she clarified her "mistake".

What the entire nation saw was a perfect example of Lie and Consequence. Ms. Hidalgo had to back down and obey the Princess's wishes. To push what was the truth meant the end of her career in government. Sadly, though well-loved in the DepEd, Ms. Hidalgo's future now hangs in the balance.

Sec. Ermita today said that the Princess has a short list of persons that could be the next DepEd Secretary.. He however added that he is not sure if Ms. Hidalgo's name is included. This made me wonder if Garcillano would be named the next DepEd secretary. With Garci's expertise in "dagdag- bawas", he could certainly change a shortage into a surplus.

In this administration, only liars stay in power and the truth-sayers suffer the consequence.

*Princess Laila is supposed to be the royal name of GMA given by the Sultan of Brunei.