Monday, July 25, 2016

The war against poor Filipinos

No one, as far as I recall, died from tanim-bala in NAIA, and yet it infuriated many of us,and we were angered by an apparent scam condoned or perhaps even operated by airport officials. Many were mad at President Aquino, too, for gaffes made by some government officials and by government inaction that was affecting Filipino travellers and migrant workers. But since July, hundreds have already been killed due to the so-called war on drugs and crime, with most deaths appearing on TV or our FB timelines in the same sickening narrative: killed by hitmen, their bodies wrapped in garbage bags or paper with a cardboard that says the victim is a drug offender, or killed by policemen in a buy-bust operation or inside police stations, where the police had to fire and kill them because they were fighting back or because they tried to grab arms from the police while in custody.And yet the same public outraged by tanim-bala is silent this time, despite the deaths. Hindi lang sa hindi galit, we are actually happy to repeat and mimic the stories given by government officials –  Pusher kasi. Adik. Nang-agaw ng baril sa pulis sa presinto. Nanlaban. Kung hindi sya adik, bakit sya kasama ng pusher?
And we’re happy to exempt the government of any responsibility of this incident. When Abaya said that tanim-bala was being blown out of proportion, many called for his resignation, many blamed PNoy. But with what’s happening, Duterte or PNP Chief Bato can’t be faulted – even though Duterte promised this bloodshed during the campaign period, or that, after the inauguration, he said shabu addicts should be killed, and that local governments and local police should deliver dead bodies in his war on drugs. Bato said he’s against extrajudicial killings, and yet he’s not doing anything to stop it – but it doesn’t matter, not his fault. Tanim-bala is PNoy’s fault, but we have wired our minds to believe that Duterte can’t be blamed for the killings terrorising the Philippines these days. Never mind that, regardless of who you voted for last May, the government should always be held accountable for omission if it fails to address human rights violations.
I actually don’t care who you voted for last May. What I wish to understand at this point is if your silence demonstrates the limits of our common sense, of our respect for life, or of our world-renown sense of compassion. Are we not outraged, and are we willing to exempt the government of any responsibility, because those who were killed are impoverished – not exactly the type who’d have credit cards to purchase piso-fare trips and therefore unlikely to be inconvenienced by tanim-bala? Is it because we also blame the poor for the ugliness in our daily lives, for the systemic poverty and crime that fester in our streets, and therefore killing these vagrants is better? Is it because we think that some lives do not really matter, and that we’re happy to give those with guns a blank check just to make us perceive that we are safe and secure?
I hear no one saying that they feel more secure and safe these days, these days when tanim-bala is no longer happening. For me, my sense of insecurity isn’t just about safety in our streets: mas nababahala ako dun sa naiisip ko na may aspeto ng pagiging Pilipino na hindi ko kilala, yung aspeto na kayang lunukin at tanggapin ang nangyayari ngayon. That we can even throw out our sense of justice and respect for life and be wilfully blind. I try to recall some words that have helped define my own understanding of what being Filipino means. That the Filipino is worth dying for. Ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo. Maybe by reminding myself of these words, I’d feel less insecure and disturbed by this realisation: na kaya pala natin itong gawin sa isa’t-isa.
(Photo from Mark Z. SaludesJennelyn Olaires refuses to let go of her husband, Michael Siaron, a 30-year-old pedicab driver and an alleged drug offender who was gunned down by unidentified assailants along EDSA – Pasay Rotonda area in Pasay City, July 23.)


President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA)

July 25, 2016
by Ilda
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be delivering his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) today. Since Duterte is enjoying a trust rating of 91% — the highest rating among presidents on their first month — we can expect a lot of Filipinos all over the world to be tuned in to watch and listen to Duterte deliver his speech outlining the Philippines’ present economic, political, and social condition. The public is also expecting him to summarize the accomplishments and plans of his program of government.
It's President Duterte's turn: his policies, his methods, his way.
It’s President Duterte’s turn: his policies, his methods, his way.
Beyond Duterte’s actual speech, many people are looking forward to being entertained, because past SONAs have become a joke. In the last six years, SONAs became more about the dresses the women politicians were wearing and less about the problems that needed to be addressed. Members of the Senate and House of Representatives shamelessly paraded their million-peso attires and sought to outdo each other. Some, like Senator Nancy Binay even had a change of costume in the previous SONA and some wore backless dresses. They were trying to outshine each other making like they were supermodels while millions of Filipinos were hungry.
Yes, the SONA during former President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s term became a circus. His claim that he is simple did not match the reality. The excesses during BS Aquino’s term are comparable to the excesses of previous administrators. It didn’t help that his celebrity sister Kris Aquino was always around to turn the event into a spectacle. The absence of Kris Aquino alone will be an improvement to the event, indeed.
Duterte’s SONA will be a simple and more formal event unlike in the past. Members of Congress and other guests are expected to attend in their business attire. This is bad news for narcissists in Congress but good news for the Filipino public. If decadence and self-indulgence was promoted during BS Aquino’s term, simplicity and decency will be promoted by Duterte.
One thing’s for sure, the public will not hear about Ninoy, Cory, and their so-called “legacy”. The public will not hear about the “dark years” of Martial Law and how BS Aquino’s family supposedly suffered under the Marcos regime. The Public will not have to listen to BS Aquino blaming former President Gloria Arroyo over and over. More importantly, the public will not have to put up with BS Aquino talking about his supposed “achievements” which usually means taking credit for something his predecessor initiated. It was unfortunate that every year in the last six years, BS Aquino did not fail to spew the same formulaic drivel. No wonder the voters finally got sick of him.
BS Aquino’s supporters like his cousin, Senator Bam Aquino and that other ‘senator’ convicted putschist Antonio Trillanes are also anticipating Duterte’s first SONA. They hope that Duterte will tackle other problems and not just his war on drugs. They should talk. They should have asked BS Aquino to stop mentioning his parents and talk more about his policies around dealing with crime. BS Aquino did not even have a policy on how to deal with drugs. His government allegedly allowed criminal gangs and drug lords to run the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. There are reports saying former Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima regularly rubbed elbows with convicted drug lords. There are photos of her circulating on the Net mingling and partying with them. The prison had become a drug lab where drug lords run their operation. This happened under the watch of BS Aquino.
In signing FOI to law, President Duterte just made former President Aquino look like a failure. (Photo source: SBS Australia)
In signing FOI to law, President Duterte just made former President Aquino look like a failure.
(Photo source: SBS Australia)
Frankly, BS Aquino and his supporters have lost their moral high ground. They should lie low and think twice about criticizing Duterte’s policies because they already had their turn but failed to deliver results. It is probably taking a while for them to realize that they are not in power anymore. They had six years to fix the problems or at least address it, but they didn’t. Now it is someone else’s turn and he’s got his own policies to implement. They may or may not work but it is too early to say it will or it won’t. The best thing for BS Aquino’s supporters to do is to remain vigilant, but stop spreading misinformation just to derail Duterte’s projects. Trillanes is Number One when it comes to doing disruptive things. He has a penchant for throwing false accusations against his rivals. Good thing he had lost his credibility to the public.
What’s also ironic is how some people, mostly Liberal Party supporters who campaigned strongly for losing Presidential candidate Mar Roxas, are asking what Duterte has so far accomplished. Instead of asking Duterte three weeks into his Presidency, they should be asking BS Aquino what he has accomplished after six years at the helm. Liberal Party supporters seem to have lost their grip on reality. They cry foul at reports of alleged drug pushers and drug lords being killed during a raid but they do not cry for the victims of the drug epidemic and how Philippine society is slowly descending into chaos because of the proliferation of illegal drugs. These are the same people who were quiet about extrajudicial killings during Aquino’s time — like when the Lumads were being slaughtered allegedly by people who were said to be working for the military. I do not condone extrajudicial killings but the war on drugs was never going to be peachy. There is an urgency to nip the problem in the bud before the country turns into another Mexico.
Speaking of accomplishments. Duterte just signed an executive order on Freedom of Information (FOI). He managed to accomplish that in less than a month. The FOI was something BS Aquino promised to give the Filipino people while campaigning in 2010. He broke that promise. Now Duterte just made Aquino look even more the failure that he is. We can’t really blame Noynoy for planning on not attending the SONA. He’s probably afraid that Duterte will do the same thing he did and blame him for the problems the new government is facing now. It’s a shame the public will not have the pleasure of watching BS Aquino’s face when the camera zooms in while Duterte talks about the enormous problems the former president left behind.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Chinese Acrobatic Ballet Only Pair in The World Must See

Chinese Acrobatic Ballet Only Pair in The World Must See


The rusty BRP Sierra Madre ship that has been holding the fort for the Philippines in Ayungin, Scarborough is a pitiful, if not laughable, sight. It has been there ever since the Philippine government stood its ground for the ownership of the territory that is widely known as West Philippine Sea.

After the ruling of the International Tribunal in the Hague in favor of the Philippines, China has been so headstrong about not packing up and leaving the Scarborough Shoal. Other countries have sent their congratulations to the Philippines and felt irritated that China is not honoring the ruling. France, UK, Australia, Japan and Germany, among others have offered to extend their support to fight China in case they will wage a war against the Philippines.

In this connection, the US government sent an envoy to the Philippines and sought to speak with an undisclosed cabinet member to relay the message to President Duterte that they are offering their warship USS Bataan. According to this linkthe ship is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned in 1997. The ship is named to honor the defense of the Bataan Peninsula on the western side of Manila Bay in the Philippines during the early days of US involvement in World War II (refer to the left picture above). Check out its general characteristics below:

Class and type:Wasp-class amphibious assault ship
Displacement:40,358 long tons (41,006 t) full load
Length:844 ft (257 m)
Beam:106 ft (32 m)
Draft:27 ft (8.2 m)
Propulsion:Geared steam turbines
Speed:exceeds 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Troops:1,894 Marines
Complement:104 officers, 1,004 enlisted
Aircraft carried:

This friendly offer by the US government, one of the Philippines' best and strongest allies in the world, would definitely help boost the confidence of not just the soldiers stationed in Ayungin, but also the entire Filipino community. There is still no confirmation, though, whether the Philippine government is amenable to this offer, that seems to be free of obligations or repercussions from the Philippines, or not.

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