Friday, September 20, 2019
BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO SEPTEMBER 20, 2019
WHEN Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972, I was a 19-year-old Ateneo college dropout heading the Manila and Rizal organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
For all its fearful reputation even at that time, the party was merely a ragtag band of hubristic fantasists who thought replicating the Chinese revolution was a cinch. Founder Jose Sison, who saw himself as the Filipino Mao Zedong, was then 33 years old, and the legendary Kumander Dante, 29.
The fledgling party was giddy over the revolutionary flow of the student demonstrations in 1970, and thought it could artificially create such revolutionary fervor again. At the same time, it thought it could provoke internecine strife among the ruling class that would implode its rule.
Two teams of mostly converted-to-the-revolution toughies from the urban poor slums of Tondo and Caloocan — specially recruited for the operation by Sison and his five closest cadres — hurled three grenades at the stage of the Liberal Party’s miting de avance in Plaza Miranda in Aug. 21 1971, injuring nearly all of the party’s Senate candidates and killing nine people.
Sison tasked a New People’s Army (NPA) commander, a veteran Huk from Tarlac, to delay by whatever means his sympathizer, the Liberal Party’s superstar Benigno Aquino Jr.’s arrival at the Plaza. What he told Aquino that made him do so, I haven’t been able to determine. Aquino, though, would have been stupid if he had not concluded after the bombing what group was responsible.
Still, Aquino, and the Liberal Party, went to town blaming it on Marcos, who had become unpopular not just because of the massive student demonstrations against him, but the opposition’s unrelenting demonization of him through their powerful media outlets the The Manila Chronicle and the ABS-CBN radio-television network.
The party’s calculation at the time was that the Plaza Miranda bombing would intensify what in Leninist jargon is called “the split within the ruling class,” so much so that Marcos would soon declare a hated martial law — and create a revolutionary situation chaotic enough for the communists to take over power.
Instead, the bombing finally convinced Marcos to impose martial law, the legality of which he had asked his then-Justice secretary Juan Ponce Enrile to study as early as 1969. After all, there were two nations intent on destabilizing the Republic at that time. (And of course, under the old Constitution, he had to step down in 1973 — a nightmare for Marcos, given that he was accused by the Liberal Party of attempting their assassination in Plaza Miranda.)
Marcos defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile in May 1972 inspecting assault rifles shipped to the NPA, courtesy of Mao Zedong.
In the South, Malaysia had already trained the first Moro National Liberation Front commanders and had been arming that Muslim insurgency, and sending arms and finances through our very porous borders in Sulu. China had started to undertake its plan to arm the NPA with as many rifles as it could use, and had even built a gun factory in Fujian to replicate the American M-14. The factory ironically formed the nucleus of China’s world-renowned Norinco in the 1980s that would flood the world with cheap but quality versions of US and Western arms.
Split the ruling class
The CPP was caught flat-footed when martial law was imposed in 1972. Many of its top leaders were arrested or killed in a few months’ time. By 1977 the communist boss Jose Sison, its top military head Kumander Dante, and most of its core leadership were twiddling their thumbs in army stockades.
The expectation that the “split within the ruling class” would intensify turned out to be monumentally wrong.
Marcos suppressed only a small faction of it that was his avowed enemy years before, consisting mainly of the powerful Lopez, Osmeña and Roxas-Araneta political and economic elite.
Few among the elite sympathized with the Lopezes, which owned the Meralco monopoly, and arrogantly wielded its deadly media weapons as well its political power (Fernando Lopez was Marcos’ vice president).
Even the big guns of the Cojuangco clan, Ramon and Eduardo, cousins of Corazon Aquino, were among Marcos’ loyal supporters. Ramon Cojuangco even allegedly dummied for Marcos’ controlling shares in the telephone monopoly PLDT, which Marcos acquired when the American owners sold the firm to Filipinos in 1967.
Much of the Philippine elite embraced and supported Marcos’ “constitutional authoritarianism,” a drastic departure from the US-imposed system of electoral democracy that had largely failed the nation. After all, strongman or single-party rule was the norm in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, which was seen as necessary to enable these countries to develop swiftly, as in fact the so-called East Asian tiger economies did.
As such, Marcos’ strongman rule was not so strange, and certainly not abhorrent to the ruling elite that preferred peace and order rather than democratic rituals.
Marcos’ “Green Revolution” was based on the production of then revolutionary high-yielding Masagana 99 rice hybrid, which led to low rice prices — to this day the key to the acquiescence of the masses.
Most Filipinos also supported martial law for the “peace and order” it achieved so quickly in its first years, as the economy surged from 1972 to 1980 at an average annual growth rate of 6 percent. The growth rate for 1973, the first full year of martial law, as well as for 1976, was 9 percent, an astounding pace never beaten to this day.
Marcos plucked from the University of the Philippines academe Finance Secretary Cesar Virata and Budget Secretary Jaime Laya, who would lead a corps of technocrats in the bureaucracy. They were given almost full authority and autonomy in running the economy. Philippine business’ revered “Yoda,” Washington SyCip, recommended to Marcos his protégé, Roberto V. Ongpin, who would be the strongman’s very effective trade and industry head. It was during martial law that SyCip’s brainchild, the Asian Institute of Management, established in 1968, grew as a center for Philippine technocrats and big business executives.
Quite ironically, it was Marcos’ technocrats — whom the business community had praised to high heavens — who were responsible for kowtowing to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank economic policies that led to the economy’s collapse many years later. There was, of course, cronyism but the magnitude of this phenomenon didn’t account for the recession that broke out in 1983.
The spark of the eventual economic conflagration actually began in the 1970s, and halfway around the world from the Philippines: In the 1970s, the Arabs took back their oil fields from the Western “imperialists” and found themselves awash in what would be dubbed “petrodollars.”
Western bankers recycled this new money into quick and cheap loans to Third World countries. For the first time, poor countries such as those in Latin America and in Asia were deluged with easy loans purportedly needed to finance their development.
But then, the Iranian Revolution broke out in 1979 and the Iran- Iraq War in 1980. These triggered an oil crisis that pushed up interest rates worldwide. The second global oil crisis broke out at roughly the same time and in 1982, Mexico and several other Latin American countries defaulted on their loans, creating the global debt crisis. US and European banks panicked, jacked up their interest rates, which eventually led to the Philippines’ 1983 debt default.
Global debt crisis
Aquino’s return to the Philippines in August 1983 couldn’t have been made at a worse time — and he was keenly aware of this. Interest rates were going through the roof, eating into the country’s dollar reserves so fast that the Central Bank falsified data to conceal their low levels.
The political instability in the wake of the Aquino assassination accelerated the economy’s collapse. In October 1983, the country ran out of dollars to service its loans and defaulted on its debts, financially isolating it from the world. Our trade with the world would become on a cash-basis only.
The GDP collapsed by an unprecedented 7 percent in 1984, and in 1985, the peso’s value crumbled from P9 to P20 to the dollar, and inflation surged by a riot-in-the-streets rate of 50 percent in 1984. No president could have survived such an economic catastrophe.
The elite suddenly became freedom-lovers, even joining street protests to demand that Marcos step down. People power was based on a bad economy’s propensity to convince people to overthrow their government.
The US junked its support for the strongman and undertook clandestine moves to put Cory Aquino into power. It feared that the internecine fight between the pro-Marcos and the anti-Marcos factions would give the communists an opportunity to grab power.
The Americans calculated (wrongly as it would turn out) that its support for the revolt against Marcos would create so much goodwill for it that the Philippines would allow its military bases (deemed crucial in the Cold War with Russia and in the wake of China’s rise) to remain in the country past the Military Bases Agreement’s expiration in 1992.
Just like the US government, the Philippine ruling class cleverly, and rather swiftly, abandoned its support for Marcos just as the Cojuangcos were set to capture political power in 1986.
The narrative of the House Cojuangco and House Lopez, with the Yellow Cult they created, is that of a Dark Lord imposing his will on a hapless people, with a Messiah sacrificing his life to embolden Filipinos to topple that regime in 1986.
That’s an utter fairy tale. It is an old, overused Manichean storyline of the “Lord of the Rings” kind of movies, believed by small or lazy minds to explain the past. But reality is always, and in all ways, more complicated.
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Book orders: www.rigobertotiglao.com/debunked
Thursday, September 19, 2019
BY ANTONIO CONTRERAS SEPTEMBER 19, 2019
NO less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself has painted Sen. Mary Grace Poe like the evil witch who stands in the way of finding a solution to the traffic problem. Indeed, our traffic situation has become a living nightmare. To label it “killer traffic” is so apropos. People are dying in ambulances stuck in the middle of traffic, one that is so bad that we are ranked seventh in the world with the worst gridlock and first in Southeast Asia.
This is precisely why it is easy to understand the popular demand that emergency powers be granted to the President to address the traffic situation, something that Senator Poe has resisted. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, she is in the position to make that demand breeze through the Senate for approval, or to subject it to painful scrutiny. And she has obviously opted for the latter. This is precisely why it is also easy to understand the vitriol being heaped on Poe, to a point that Malacañang has vowed to make her pay in future reelection bids.
And yet, Senator Poe has a point, one that is lost as people, so fed up with the traffic mess, now easily fall for the myth that granting emergency powers to the President would magically make our traffic woes disappear.
When Senator Poe asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade for what purpose the emergency powers would be needed, he pointed to procurement and acquisition of right of way, or ROW, which at present is always threatened by court injunctions.
However, and which was rightfully cited by Poe, there are already existing laws enabling an easier process for procurement and acquisition of ROW. Republic Act (RA) 9184 provides Tugade’s department with several options that do not require exemption from the Government Procurement Board, and which would shorten the period to three to six months. This was also further mandated by the President through an executive order.
There is also RA 10752, which sets the negotiated sale toward the acquisition of ROW to just 30 days. And if this is not met, the issuance of a writ of possession is now mandated after seven days that a deposit is made. The Supreme Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, has issued a circular to all lower courts directing their compliance, and to quickly dispose of adverse petitions and issue the necessary orders to enable and facilitate the acquisition of ROWs. Thus, nothing is stopping the Executive Branch from filing administrative cases against trial court judges who do not heed the circular and cause undue delay in the process.
In short, there are already legal remedies to address the difficulties encountered in the procurement process and in the acquisition of ROW even without granting emergency powers to the President.
The Constitution sets out the three instances for the granting of extraordinary powers to the president. These include the calling out of the armed forces, the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus. However, in all these instances, the conditions to warrant their invocation and the limitations are clearly defined. Senator Poe is therefore right in insisting on a clearly defined master plan that will delimit the domains within which the emergency powers granted can be lawfully exercised.
Allies of the President would like us to trust him on this issue. However, and as shown in the controversy in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the President is not the entire bureaucracy. What we have is an amalgamation and a labyrinth within which, no matter how hard we try, there will always be points of weakness. The President even appointed one of his most trusted preferati to head BuCor in the person of Nicanor Faeldon, and yet corruption and ineptitude persisted.
What is required is for the executive branch to present a clear master plan to address the worsening traffic situation. It must contain an enumeration of the policies, projects and activities that it plans to implement, including the present constraints for each that would require the granting of emergency powers to the President since the prevailing system of laws and procedures are problematic, or are not enough. All this requires complete staff work, or CSW, that would dissect the component activities to identify bottlenecks and roadblocks beyond issues on procurement and acquisition of ROW.
The reason why caution and prudence must be exercised in granting emergency powers is precisely because it is an extreme measure. Without a master plan to fall back on, we may end up with a hit-and-miss process of looking for a solution. What we must always be mindful of is the risk of government overreach that may encroach on the rights of persons, and of the fact that without a clearly defined plan, there is also the risk of the powers being corrupted and abused.
The President is already more than halfway toward the end of his term, and it is simply beyond comprehension why such a master plan has not been developed yet. Instead, what we have are trial-and-error, experimental solutions like the provincial bus ban in EDSA, or turning it into a one-way traffic artery. There was even a proposal to have a coding based on the manufacturer of the vehicle. And Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo even advised people to use helicopters instead of ambulances to transport emergency patients.
It is in this regard that it is quite discomfiting that there is a demand to give the President carte blanche emergency powers, only to have a taste of the initial salvo of ideas which his people are planning to implement. We are being offered a hodgepodge of policy experiments without any parent master plan. With these kinds of ideas, a grant of emergency powers may not be all that comforting. It can even be frightening.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
BY ANTONIO CONTRERAS SEPTEMBER 12, 2019
THERE is a prevailing sentiment that Republic Act (RA) 10592, or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law, which amended the Revised Penal Code (RPC), had the intention of excluding persons convicted for heinous crimes from its beneficiaries. This is precisely why many people blame the framers of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for their alleged failure to reflect such important element of the law.
As discussed in this column last Tuesday, it appears that such sentiment may in fact be standing on shaky ground. A genealogical analysis of RA 10592 revealed that Congress apparently failed to fully reconcile House Bill (HB) 417 with Senate Bill (SB) 3064. This gross negligence led to a conundrum where people charged with heinous crimes are excluded from benefiting from the provision where the period of their preventive imprisonment will now be deducted from their sentence once they are convicted, but would appear to be included in the expansion of the time allowances credited due to good conduct.
It is easy to argue, using commonsensical logic, that by extension we can also assume that persons convicted for heinous crimes must also be excluded and disqualified from benefiting from the law. After all, if persons are excluded when they are merely charged of a heinous crime, it is indeed logical to assume that they must also be excluded when they are already convicted. There are important issues, however, that need to be considered before one can accept this assumption.
One can always assert that we should go back to the deliberations in Congress to know the real intent of the law. But on this one, congressional records might only reveal the failure of the 15th Congress to exercise due diligence. HB 417, which contained an exception excluding those charged with heinous crimes, in addition to recidivists, habitual delinquents and escapees, only focused on the eligibility of detainees to count the period of their preventive imprisonment toward their sentences should they be found guilty of the crimes they are being charged with. But SB 3064, which expanded the time allowances for good conduct, or GCTA, did not contain such exception, in the same way that the RPC did not discriminate among crimes in the awarding of GCTA. Sen. Franklin Drilon has admitted to the failure of the Senate to exclude those convicted of heinous crimes. And it is apparent that the version crafted by the bicameral conference committee, and ratified by the Senate and the House plenaries, was merely a joined version that did not show evidence of any reconciliation. Congress did not even attempt to edit the text, as revealed by the fact that Section 1 of the law retained the original wording of HB 417.
One can also divine the meaning of the law in the context of the prevailing policy climate. And here, the interpretation would also favor the interests of those convicted of heinous crimes.
RA 6975 created the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which is tasked to “enhance public safety by providing humane safekeeping and development of inmates in all district, city and municipal jails.” Included in its powers is to “ensure the provision of quality services for the custody, safekeeping, rehabilitation and development of district, city and municipal inmates, any fugitive from justice, or person detained.”
On the other hand, the IRR of RA 10575 mandates the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which has jurisdiction over national penitentiaries housing convicts whose sentences exceed three years, to “promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration, creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).”
Thus, it is clear that the policy landscape that we have in relation to convicted criminals focuses on rehabilitation, development, reformation and social reintegration. The IRR of RA 10575, in particular, as the law that governs the penal institutions that administer persons convicted of more serious offenses, including those convicted of heinous crimes, devotes several provisions detailing the mechanisms focusing on rehabilitation and reformation. There is no attempt to discriminate among types of criminals. In fact, it even specifically mandates a more politically correct labeling of persons convicted by referring to them as persons deprived of liberty, or PDLs. This penal philosophy was installed around the time that RA 10592 was passed by the 15th Congress, which therefore leads us to conclude that the ethos prevailing at the time was rehabilitative and restorative justice, and not retributive or punitive.
It is in this context that one could extrapolate and implicate this penal philosophy on RA 10592, leading one to conclude that having a system of awarding time allowance for good conduct to all PDLs, regardless of the crime they committed, heinous crimes included, is logical, coherent and consistent with the prevailing policy climate towards convicted criminals at the time. After all, it was also the time when we abolished the death penalty for heinous crimes. This legal predisposition to favor the rights of convicts is also deeply rooted in our judicial system, with the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto application of laws, and with the Supreme Court reiterating recently the retroactive application of laws that would benefit convicts, and by implication, a prospective application when it would be to their detriment.
In sum, it seems that on the question of whether persons convicted for a heinous crime should benefit from GCTA, the answer is that they would. The law is vaguely constructed, if not silent on the issue. The framers of the law failed to address the issue, and there is no articulated intent to support a particular position. The prevailing penal philosophy favors rehabilitation and reformation. Jurisprudence favors the rights of convicts. Hence, only a misapplication or corruption of the GCTA can be assailed, but not the law that created it.
According to Jeffrey Epstein's former 'sex slave' Virginia Giuffre, his ex-lover Ghislaine Maxwell 'boasted of an encounter' with George Clooney
Ghislaine, 57, who is the youngest child of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, started dating Epstein in 1992.
Ghislaine, 57, who is the youngest child of disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell, started dating Epstein in 1992.