Insights and opinions from our contributors on the current issues happening in the region

insight 53


more articles...

Freedom of religion under threat

Sex Ed a wedge issue

What’s wrong with sex education in schools?

What do YOUTHink?

Condoms a dead man walking

Manganese, Copper… and other questions

Movie making from Waray’s olden history should begin now

Electric Vehicles will end Climate Change

How could the 'Maguindanao massacre' been allowed to happen?

OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed





Police torture video affirms police stations are 'torture chambers'

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
August 19, 2010

On August 17, a national television ABS CBN broadcast the graphic video of a man being tortured by a policeman inside a police station in Tondo, Metro Manila. In the video, the torture victim, whom reports said had been arrested for theft, had his penis pulled by a string tied around it as he was lying on the floor naked. He was beaten every time he folded his body as he tried to reach his genitals in pain. The torture took place in front of several policemen who are also attached to the same police station.

It was the brave act of the informant, whose identity was kept confidential, that made this video widely known to the public possible. It exposed the state of policing in the Philippines. The video is perhaps shocking for others but what is more shocking is that it is by no means the only one of this type. It is however, the first such video to be made public. As the informant had told the television reporter: these incidents increase if there is an increase in robbery incidents (in the community); and the (police) make sure nobody sees it. It explains the wrong attitude of the police on 'crime prevention'.

In this video, the policeman who tortured the victim, Senior Inspector Joselito Binayug, is not an ordinary officer. He is the chief of the said police station; and his subordinates were watching him as he was torturing the victim. When he told the victim: "dito bawal ang snatcher (snatchers are prohibited here) ", he was telling him that anyone who commits crimes in his area of responsibility would suffer the same fate. That is what Sr. Insp. Binayug and his subordinates, who did nothing to stop him from torturing the victim, understand of investigation and policing in reality.

To instil fear by demonstrating unthinkable pain and humiliation them remains, for them, the practical and cost-efficient method of investigation. The police took offence at suspected criminals who commit crimes and get away unpunished in their area that is why they deal with them in this manner once they catch them. This is not an isolated case, contrary to what the police establishment would want to tell the public in their defence. This is rather an unwritten policy that is heavily embedded and well-practiced in the minds of the police in investigating and preventing crimes.

When Police Director Leocadio Santiago, of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), made comments on the torture video, he said: "I've gone through physical interrogation before. I've conducted it but not to the extent that it would be sadistic, there are boundaries and parameters". His comments had no pretence at all that the policemen, including him, do harm their arrestees; and that this practice is acceptable to a certain extent only the police would know. The notion of the absolute prohibition of torture does exist not in their minds. This type of mentality is deeply embedded and shared largely by the police and the military.

While this video is now widely known many of these incidents go unreported. The majority of the Filipino people's reaction was disbelief, some would say: "this can't be", also illustrates their denial and difficulty of coming to terms as to how cruel their policemen could become. In a largely religious country, there is supposedly a certain level of behaviour and morals of people in civilized society; however, this incident shatters the people's conservative thought. Only when the people come to terms with this and try to understand the fundamental reasons behind it will the discussion on police torture in the country be substantial. There must be an acceptance first that in the country's supposed civilized society this has s ince been happening. The Filipinos and the outside world have seen how cruel and barbaric the policemen could become.

This case is neither indiscriminate nor isolated, but rather targeted and systematic practice as methods of investigation and crime prevention by the law enforcement agencies and the security forces. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has documented numerous cases of torture that took place inside police station and military camps. This incident also illustrates that torture is also used against ordinary people, not necessarily for political reasons, who often had no connections and influence in the society. They are people whom the police and the military would thought either incapable of or would not challenge their authority.

The AHRC further urges the concerned government agencies, in particular the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Justice (DoJ), to determine the plight of the torture victim in the video, in addition to having the policemen involved investigated. The investigation, as required by the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, must also be completed immediately. The CHR and the DoJ should also ensure that the informant should be afforded with necessary protection should he decide to stand as witness in the investigation and prosecution of the case. However, regardless of whether the victim wishes to testify, there is sufficient evidence in the video to charge and convict the police officers involved.





RA 9700 – CARPER Law – now one year old

August 15, 2010

One year has passed since the August 7, 2009 signing into law of Republic Act No. 9700 – CARP Extension with Reforms, or the CARPER Law, the legislation that extends the implementation period of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL, per RA 6657), for another five years, until year 2014.  RA 9700 was signed in Plaridel, Bulacan, by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose constitutional term ended on June 30, 2010 noon time.

During the past one year of RA 9700, only a few administrative orders had been drawn up to tailor the newly defined steps and activities in strictly implementing the extender law.  Unlike in RA 6657, the extender law has entailed the tailor-fitting of a lengthy implementing rules and regulations (IRR), and the detailed accounting of agrarian reform beneficiaries who had supposedly received land titles from the Department of Agrarian Reform.  Those titles are known as certificates of land ownership award  (CLOAs),  issued to individuals as evidence that they have ascended to the level of landowners with the right to exercise all the rights and duties  appurtenant to land ownership.

With the election of a new President of the Republic of the Philippines, in the person of former Senator Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III – whose astounding popularity, which his person gained from the time he was wooed to run for President until his proclamation as duly elected President, earned for him the monicker title “P-Noy”, for President Noynoy, Noynoy being his pet name in the Aquino family and circles of friends and relatives – new hopes have been attached to the changing of the agrarian landscape.  A few minutes after his first state of the nation address (SONA) at past 12 high noon of June 30, 2010, a few government policy watchers and political analysts had noticed that PNoy (I prefer to ascribe that calling to P-Noy) did not mention agrarian reform or the Hacienda Luisita in his speech.  The Hacienda, more than one month later, would become a scene of a referendum where more than 6,000 of its workers gave a 90 per cent high vote to express their preference for a stock distribution option (SDO) than to opt for ownership of part of the vast hacienda lands in Tarlac, Tarlac.  PNoy was just consistent, it seemed:  He didn’t dwell on the CARP in his SONA, and neither did he dip his fingers into the Hacienda case since Day 1 of his presidency.  PNoy was right. An hour after the referendum results were known, plans were up to bring the compromise voting exercise to the Supreme Court, for a final resolution of the issue, whether it was legal.  But PNoy’s non-mention of CARP didn’t mean he was abdicating the agrarian program.  By July 1, it was already known nationwide that this bachelor national leader who has a mind of his own had appointed attorney Virgilio Delos Reyes as Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform.  Before that, he had to make sure that the people who elected him – his masters – appreciated well that he was seriously for the successful implementation of the agrarian program, and the CARPER LAW, thus he took in a former Agrarian Secretary, Florencio “Butch” Abad, as his Budget Secretary, to ensure that the right cash budget for the agrarian program is always there so that finally the program can be completely accomplished, as desired.  And long before he was a congressman, Noynoy already must have understood fully well how the agrarian reform in this country should work:  He was born to a family whose vast hacienda was an agrarian matter even before his birth, and he was beside his mother when President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino penned the first Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program – Proclamation No. 131, the precursor of RA 6657, the first and only Executive fiat that expanded the coverage of agrarian reform, to include even the limited rice and corn lands of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.    RA 6657 was to be correctly referred to as CARL, for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law Do you remember all these?  On July 22, 1987, Pres. Cory Aquino signed into law her Proclamation No. 131 (Instituting A Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program) “which shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in the Constitution, including whenever applicable in accordance with law, other lands of the public domain suitable to agriculture” (Section 1, Proc. 131).  A companion measure, Executive Order No. 229, also signed by Pres. Cory on July 22, 1987, to provide the mechanisms for CARP’s implementation, said in Sec. 2 thereof:  “Implementation.  Land acquisition and distribution shall be implemented as provided in this Order as to all kinds of lands under the coverage of the program, subject to such priorities and reasonable retention limits as the Congress may under the Constitution prescribe, taking into account ecological, developmental, or equity considerations, and subject to the payment of just compensation”.

RA 9700 prescribes time lines for particular land acquisition and distribution activities.  In observing these time periods, the DAR had perforce to define specific steps and formulate specific procedures, with carefully studied forms to be used in the implementation of the extended program.  That has taken most of the months, weeks, and days of the DAR personnel during the first year of the extender law.

October 15and October 21 in year 2009 became significant dates.  On Oct. 15, then DAR Sec. Nasser C. Pangandaman penned three DAR Administrative Orders (AOs) – 02, 03 and 04 – and six days later, these Orders were published in national newspapers of general circulation. AO 02 is a 95-page document on the “Rules and Procedures Governing the Acquisition and Distribution of Agricultural Lands Under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6657, as amended by R.A. No. 9700”.  It also presents in tabular form the series of steps and activities to be undertaken, as well as the forms and documents required.  AO 02 was accompanied eight months later by a 2-page Memorandum Circular No. 06 which establishes “clarificatory guidelines on the transitory provisions” of AO 02.  AO 03 - “Rules and Procedures Governing the Cancellation of Registered Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs), Emancipation Patents (EPs), and Other Titles Issued Under Any Agrarian Reform Program” – consists of 11 pages.  Four-page AO 04 prescribes “Rules and Regulations implementing Section 19 of R.A. No. 9700 (Jurisdiction on and Referral of Agrarian Dispute”.

On Oct. 28, the 24-page AO No. 05, series of 2009, was signed by Sec. Pangandaman, and on November 3, it was published in two newspapers.  The Order defines the “Implementing Rules and Regulations on Support Services Delivery Under Republic Act No. 9700”.

The Presidential Agrarian Reform Committee (PARC) Executive Committee (ExeCom) also issued last year AO No. 01 to cover the “procedures and data requirement in the declaration of certain provinces as ‘priority land reform areas’ which will enable them to: (1) advance to the acquisition and distribution of landholdings enumerated under the next phase of implementation or (2) advance to the acquisition and distribution of landholdings covered under phase 3-b implementation based on the conditions cited under paragraph 9, section 5 of RA 9700”.   [The PARC was given birth in Pres. Cory’s Proc. 131 “to coordinate the implementation of the CARP and to ensure the timely and effective delivery of the necessary support services”, with the President of the Philippines as Chairman.  As such it formulates and/or implements the policies, rules and regulations necessary” – like the schedule of acquisition and redistribution of specific agrarian reform areas, and control mechanisms for evaluating the owner’s declaration of current fair market value.  On the other hand, the ExeCom of the PARC, also created by Proc. 131, is headed by the DAR Secretary as Chairman and the heads of the following agencies as members: Executive Secretary; departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Finance, Public Works and Highways; and Land Bank of the Philippines.  The PARC has been built into the RA 6657 and respected in RA 9700.]





Climate justice and human rights

By BASIL FERNANDO, Asian Human Rights Commission
August 10, 2010

There are times when children are wiser than the adults. We live in such a time. Today's children know more about the problems of climate as a man-made problem. They worry about it, talk about it and feel sad about it. They are wiser than the earlier generations. They are learning the folly of those ideas of progress, of development for which nature was sacrificed. They are beginning to see the way man became the enemy of the environment and is destroying the very climate that sustains human life.

We have some hope, because our children have begun to reject the inherently unjust notions about development that was called history. We are at a turning point of generational change. Perhaps the young of today, who will play their roles in not so distant future, may have the courage to decisively change the course of history by abandoning the notions of progress that earlier generations blindly believed in. The ideology of conquest as against cooperation, domination as against participation will be looked with greater suspicion than ever before. The doubts that the young have on all those aspects, including notions of gender and sexuality are why we can look to the future with some hope.

It is time for older generation to express its confession. Confessions when they are made genuinely have a great power effect change.

Need to explain

There are many things about which older generations have to give explanations to the young. We have to confess that due to our unquestioning attitudes we have contributed many wrong concepts and ideas to be adopted as practices and this has led to the loss of our flowers, the birds, the rivers, the seas, clear skies, pure waters and everything that we treasure. Above all this unquestioning attitude towards development has caused the deaths of many millions.

This same unquestioning attitudes have kept us passive when millions of people were displaced in the name of development. Displacement meant death to them in terms of their lives and in terms of their inner spirit. The idea that the end justifies the means paralysed our minds so much that we remained unmoved when such deaths take place on large scale. It is this paralysis that we have to examine if we are to honestly talk about the climate justice and human rights.

Killer disease

In essence justice means the absence of this paralysis. The capacity for justice within a society exists only to the extent of people having the capacity to be critical of themselves and their beliefs. Blind faith that leads to blind obedience is the killer disease of humanity and we need to understand more about this killer disease. Admiration for obedience is being taught by all those who talk about stability. The economist is taught to obediently follow the economic plans whatever be the consequences to the population. The planners are taught to plan with complete disregard to the human consequences of their actions.

The media is being conditioned to not critically examine the society and the ideas which are deified in particular time. The servile nature of the media to the powers that be has been one of the major causes that have contributed to the spread of this killer disease.

The creativity of the artist, of the singer, of the dancer and the poet has been sacrificed in the name of obedience to great ideas. The incapacity to question those ideas has lead to the paralysis of the mind and the will and is responsible for the climatic catastrophes we are facing today.

If we are losing the Himalayas and the seas are threatening us, if nature in all its forms is developing patterns of action that are altering its friendly course it has followed for centuries, it is because human beings gave into the false doctrines that nurtured in them the attitudes of obedience. If we wish to save our climate we must seriously grieve out emotionless obedience.

Human beings can remain faithful to their nature only to the extent that they are capable of grieving over the loss of things of on which they have had their roots. Human attachment leads to an understanding of the character of loss and in that process we should be able to grieve over such loses. However, the capacity to grieve is linked to the capacity to understand the overall processes of which human beings are just a part. If in the name of development these natural processes are destroyed then the price of that destruction has to paid with the lives of human beings.

Our linkage to the natural world has to be discovered through the examination of the very forces that paralyses our creativity, our initiative, our response to the natural world; our capacity to smell, to feel the forces of nature, our capacity to understand nature.

Siri Aurobindo

India was one of the world's most creative nations said the great Indian thinker Siri Aurobindo. He also said that this creativity dies sometime back in history. He went on to explain how India became a dead civilisation. He devoted the latter part of his life in trying to regenerate the creativity of India. To us, in South Asia, who owe so much to our roots in the Indian civilisation the previous creativity and its death has had enormous impact. In the periods of India's creativity the power of South Asia was nourished during the time of the death of the Indian civilisation and this also affected the other neighbouring nations and caused the paralysis of the minds and the souls and the hearts of those civilisations.

Therefore, in trying to understand the things that destroy us, some moments can be devoted to understanding the death of the Indian civilisation. That, of course, is too vast a subject. However, a few thoughts may be in order. When the concept of the end justifying the means became part of the Indian thinking that was the time when the death of the Indian civilisation started in the same way that such moments caused the death of other civilisations.

It is the Arthaśāstra, the philosophy of Chānakya that has contributed a great deal to the destruction of this great nation. When the rulers become indifferent to the suffering of the masses, when even religious philosophies are developed to divide the people , when the deepest dividing doctrines such as caste develops within a civilization, there is no doubt that, that civilisation is embracing a suicidal path. These suicidal ideas which made rituals more important than reason and which thereby killed the creativity of the mind and the spirit also created the deep attitudes which made us indifferent to nature and as a result we have had the catastrophes not only of civilisation but also of climate today.

The adults of the earlier generations should now have the capacity to grieve over the contributions that they have made to these great losses by the adherence to these doctrines and the blind obedience with which they allowed their minds and souls to be paralysed.

The way to pave the path for the new generations to find a cure for these losses lies in the capacity of the older generation to look self critically at their own past, their own guilt in the contributions they have made to such losses.

A human being's greatest capacity is to grow creative by a process of self understanding and grieving. The path to creativity is this path, the path of introspection, self criticism, the revival of our critical minds and the revival of our emotions and creative capacities.

The climate justice

The problem of the climate is very much a problem about the people. It means the deaths of large numbers of people, displacement, loss of cultures and connections, loss of education and the loss of youth and the possibilities of life for vast numbers of people. It is this human tragedy that we talk about when we discuss the climate justice. The loss of the flowers, the seas and the rivers have all taken away many lives and also taken away what life means to those who survive. Therefore the talk about climate problems is to talk about the very fundamental problems of human existence in our times. We have to recover the theme that human being matter. Unfortunately, the very essence of all the development theories is that not all human beings actually matter.

The most neglected sections are the victims of these climate changes who are among the poorest. What happens to them is not recorded through our media. There are no records of this throughout history. Their lives and the memories are erased from our records.

The only real solution to the problem of climate is to allow those who are affected by these problems to be heard. Their voices must be heard, the faces must be seen and their stories must become part of the common discourse of humanity.

Creating opportunities for the voices of the victims of the destruction that is being caused today to be heard is a primary obligation of the human rights movements. Many human rights groups think that their primary duty is to parrot out the UN conventions, constitutional provisions and other declarations about rights. These documents can at best only provide certain principles in dealing with this problem. The most primary obligation in the implementation of any of these principles is to create the possibility of participation of the victims of the destruction that is caused by the development strategies to be the spokesmen of their own cause.

These people speak of their grievances privately but there is nobody to pick up their stories so that their voices may be heard and brought to the public discourse. All plans for development take place without listening to the voices of these people and without giving them the opportunity to be heard. Development plans are hatched and carried out in secrecy and the people have time to talk only after the destruction has happened.

To change that course is possible only when opportunities are created for the people to speak up. Today as the younger generation learns more about climate related problems and as they become more preoccupied with these problems their attention needs to be drawn to the fact that the solutions lie in the hands of the victims themselves. Without allowing victims to speak up, without bringing them to the public discourse, without allowing the victims to confront the planners there will be no stopping of the destruction that is taking place now.

Therefore the future of the human rights movement should be to find ways for the people and to get them to speak up about the problems that affect them. Development discourse must begin from the bottom and consultation with the bottom in a genuine sense must be made possible by the affected people themselves being heard.

Vast change in human thinking is needed if human survival is to be guaranteed. The knowledge that the young people are acquiring about the climate is a good beginning for such change. However, that knowledge alone cannot resolve this problem. The solution lies in the affected people becoming their own spokesman and the decision making of humanity is changed and the process of genuine consultation between the ordinary people and the planners becoming a possibility.





Bigotry or insanity?

August 10, 2010

“…an insane person thinks and reasons a lot, except that his logic is detached from reality.”

THE issue is not immediately relevant to us, but though it is Californian or American, it has treacherous global implications that can affect us sooner or later. And so we just have to make some comments on it as it is evolving at the moment.

I am of the opinion that we need to react now to avoid this complicated development to reach our shores. We cannot deny that its dangerous seeds are already sown in our society. It is part of the culture of death that the late Pope John Paul warned us about.

I’m referring to a recent decision of an American judge to overturn the so-called Proposition 8 that bans same-sex unions in California. This proposition was put to a plebiscite before, and it won.

In fact, in all the 31 states where this issue was put to a vote, no state voted for “gay marriage.” Every single one of them reaffirmed the true nature of marriage.

Now, a judge wants to strike down the state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In a brazen act of judicial activism, he is redefining marriage based on an ideological reasoning.

In his argument, he said that the “ability to marry” is a fundamental right that cannot be denied to gays and lesbians. This is diametrically opposed to historical evidence where societies have always made some restrictions to this “ability to marry.”

As in, one may not marry your own sibling, nor marry several spouses at the same time, etc.

There are many valid reasons why marriage has to be regulated. Foremost among those should be the obvious natural truth that marriage is meant for couples to have children, and this can only happen between a man and a woman.

The nature of marriage does not depend on the subjective feelings and preferences of the parties involved. It has an objective, absolute and universal basis.

Of course, in real life, this objective basis may not be fully appreciated by different people in different cultures and circumstances. But there has always been a consensus that it has to be between a man and a woman. Same-sex unions have largely been seen as abnormal.

Several pro-same-sex union commentators were quick to declare that with this judge’s ruling, bigotry has been smashed, obviously referring to the Christian understanding of marriage.

One noted that the judge’s decision faulted Proposition 8 banning gay marriages for violating the rule on due process and equal protection under law. I consider these claims as alibis.

For sure, everyone is entitled to his opinion. I prefer to see the whole development not as bigotry on the part of those who are not in favor of same-sex unions, but as a step toward legal insanity.

Insanity is never a matter of a lack of reason. An insane person thinks and reasons a lot, except that his logic is detached from reality.

And when a legal system confines itself solely within reason, of the social type more than the metaphysical, and fails to anchor itself on an ultimate source of truth, as in faith and beliefs, then it is likely to lapse into legal insanity.

Its understanding of due process and equal protection under the law, while formally commendable, will suffer a basic infirmity that can easily be manipulated by ideologues pursuing some private agenda.

This has happened many times in many places and in different episodes of history. We have to be wary of these tendencies that come as a result when the moral and spiritual foundations of a society weaken.

We need to be discerning of the dangerous trends our current world, especially involving the more developed but decadent countries. We have to be quick to read the signs of the times, and ready to wage a battle of love and truth to correct emerging anomalies.

An abominable danger we should all be careful about is when our legal system makes itself an absolute source of its own power, authority and wisdom. We become the most pitiable creatures in the universe when we allow this disorder to reign over us.

When law and justice have no deeper foundations than our own understanding of things, our own preferences, our own historical, cultural and social conditionings, with no recognition of a higher source of wisdom, then we truly would be in profound trouble.

This is legal positivism, pure and simple, a very funny if most painful predicament, where we can have very sophisticated laws, thoroughly developed and elaborated, but resting ultimately on a vacuum.





Aquino Presidency: An unfolding drama of hope

August 7, 2010

“The Almighty has a plan for all of us and I agree that the All Seeing Eye does not play dice with our destinies. Indeed, even pain has a purpose.” - Chief Justice Reynato Puno (lifted from Atty-at-Work).

To some observant Filipino eyes, the current administration of President Noynoy Aquino is repeatedly committing blunders in decision-making and approaches in its haste to right what it perceives to be wrongs committed during the more than nine years of an Arroyo regime.  To a few, mostly loyal to ex-president Gloria Arroyo, the blunders of the new administration are serious and could be contested up to the Supreme Court, such as the creation of the Truth Commission which is given a limited executive mandate of only two years to complete its mission.

Be that as it may, criticisms such as these don’t bother Malacañang.  Malacañang just does what it believes it must do.  It goes with the best speech of the year, President Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) – which I rate 100 per cent, for its being honest, down-to-earth, and purposive, bereft of pomposity and euphemisms.

It seems, when making decisions, Malacañang always looks back to the promises made by PNoy.  Decisions must approximate the solutions to problems, crimes, and failures that never saw the truth in the past regime, until Malacañang hits the right chord.  Hence, the constant need for consultations and for cabinet meetings, and the need for accordingly responding to feedbacks from and grievances of the Filipino people.

Of course, those decisions could be wrong or simply lack some basic requirements to be universally acceptable.  That’s why, PNoy, and his early-erring Secretaries and heads of agencies, are fundamentally prepared to make the necessary corrections, and they do the immediate corrections, taking note of lessons and insights learned their own way.

All these are normal.  It’s normal for a new leadership, to err or to lack.  And it will always be normal, until the present dispensation can correct the wrongs of the past that have been carried to the present, or that had caused the big problems of today.

Sifting the sands of options - of which many are available and are multifarious, especially when just everyone gets on to the television screen or is quoted in newspapers and magazines or is heard over the radios – sometimes lead leaders to courses of action that are vulnerable to open attacks.  It will be so, for as long as there still remain the bitter fruits of seeds of discontent that had been planted during the past 33,000 days before June 30, 2010.

But the All Seeing Eye has let these things happen, always beyond our expectation, beyond even what the most perfect systems on Earth could predict or interpret.  Those who are like PNoy who strongly believes in God’s purpose see that as a normal occurrence.  Hence, they hope to find hope in whatever their hope can provide, convinced that in the end, they will see and enjoy the fulfilment of the simpler times that they have for long been sighing for.  And they are convinced that President Noynoy Aquino is that hope, their hope, who can give unto them that fulfilment, even little by little, even through thick and thin, even inch by inch, notwithstanding the monstrosity the appearance of every policy nemesis may be, and even if it may only take pragmatism to eradicate the evils in governance and of society.

For that has been happening in Philippine republicanism and in this country’s battle for independence as a one-identity nation, and for sovereignty over its own territories, natural wealth, people, aspirations and future.  God – probably, because not all Filipinos can see one thing from one and through one view at the same time, hence the urge to question each other’s claims and contentions – lets us get what we wish through the drama of His sole authorship.  Ramon Magsaysay, a guerrilla and auto-mechanic, and then a “mere housewife” Corazon Aquino, became president.

Not far from a fading memory, Leyteños and Samareños had a Basaynon high school drop-out but a “voracious reader” who became the Waray region’s first Budget Commissioner – Serafin Marabut, for whom Marabut, once a barrio of Basey, was created as a new town in Samar in recognition of his achievements for the whole Philippines.

Now, we have a not really simple citizen whom millions of Filipinos have asked to be their leader.  Now he is our President.  He resembles the simple hope of the ordinary Filipinos, the poor and the hopeless.  Thanks God he accepted to lead us all.

Wherever his actions may presently lead this nation to, whichever his strategies may be, they could only be part of God’s grand plan.  Man proposes, but God disposes, so it has been said time and time again.  And behind all these, we are comforted with the thought that the Catholic Church in us and the religious leaders of various congregations are praying that through PNoy we can all get there.

Yes, harsh criticisms and negative feedbacks will continue to pester the present dispensation, but let those all be just to HELP GUIDE the leadership so that it will succeed in its avowals.  This, even if it is the unquenchable abnormality of this nation to always demand for unity rather than a rebellious division in the ranks of those in power, for it has always been an equally cacophonous abnormality to reject government action and demand at the same time for rara avis measures that will only preserve and perpetuate evil whims – such as corruption via pork barrels, dynastic power through malevolent authority.

Yes, some measures adopted by the current leadership may not be what others see should be, but let those all engender their own desired results.  For, the current leadership also knows that, and in knowing that, it knows what are its impact consequences and what courses of action to take. It can refine until it gets the best.  That’s why no war is briefly fought, for strategies interplay from both sides of the war.  We have 9 years war enemy behind and in front of us all, and today’s 6 years of a PNoy presidency may not be enough.  But, like every refined hope, PNoy’s administration gets its strongest determination to get over from the inexhaustible arsenal of hope from People Power, the power that is behind him.

So, President Aquino, just carry on!  Cabinet Secretaries, heave-ho!!!





Lawmakers’ group does not support call to legalize abortion

A Media Statement of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc.
August 6, 2010

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) expresses strong opposition on the call of a group for Congress to pass a law that would legalize abortion in the Philippines.

PLCPD, however, is firmly pushing for the passage of the proposed Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development bills currently filed in Congress so as to allow couples to have access to legal and medically safe family planning methods that will reduce unplanned pregnancies which eventually will lessen the incidence of abortions in the country.

Legalization of abortion is not the right approach to address the increasing number of eleven (11) mothers dying every day due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications.

The legal and culturally-sensitive approach in reducing maternal deaths is for women and couples to practice family planning, provide skilled birth attendants to every delivery, and establish basic and emergency obstetric care which is accessible in urban and rural settings. PLCPD further emphasized that voluntary family planning can reduce maternal deaths by 20 to 35% (WHO, 1995). These can be ‘institutionalized’ by enactment into law of the proposed RH bills.

PLCPD and authors of RH bills stressed further that the proposed measure does not consider abortion as a family planning method. In fact, in the Guiding Principles of the bill states “nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion”. PLCPD however emphasizes that though abortion is not legal, the government should ensure that all women needing post-abortion care must be treated in a humane and non-judgmental manner.

We call on the media and the public not to confuse the campaign for the legalization of abortion in the Philippines as part of the reproductive health advocacy campaign.

To reiterate, abortion is not part of PLCPD’s proposed measures on reproductive health and that the organization is not a part, and will not be a part, of any group that will call for the legalization of abortion in the Philippines.

PLCPD is an advocacy institution of lawmakers committed to harness the efforts of the members of the Philippine congress in legislating progressive policies on population and development. It was organized as a non-stock, non-profit, non-partisan organization in 1989 by a group of progressive legislators from the Senate and House of Representatives.





Karapatan reiterates its call to PNoy: end impunity, prosecute Gloria Arroyo and state security forces involved in human rights violations under her watch!

A Press Statement by KARAPATAN on the Palace announcement of the President’s signing of an Executive Order forming the Truth Commission
July 31, 2010

Now that President Benigno S. Aquino III has already signed the Executive Order forming the Truth Commission, we at Karapatan, ask him: Will PNoy’s government lead the prosecution of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military and police personnel involved in human rights violations from 2001- end June 2010?

The Palace has said that the Truth Commission will “investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people.”  The President’s spokesperson, Mr. Edwin Lacierda said “[The commission’s] job is to investigate and seek the truth in the grave allegations of graft and corruption during the past nine years that allegedly involved government officials and their conspirators in the private sector.”

It is good and proper that these anomalies must be investigated and we hope that prosecution and punishment of those found guilty will also be done.

But we maintain that human rights violations cases must be viewed also as cases “of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people” and thus, must also be prioritized by government so that impunity that attend the commission of these crimes must be put to an end.  The victims are still crying for justice up to now.

President Benigno Simeon C.Aquino III said, in his meeting with the European envoys on May 31, 2010, “Cases of extrajudicial killings need to be solved, not just identify the perpetrators but have them captured and sent to jail. That’s part of the agenda [of the incoming administration]… Judicial reform is so important. There has to be closure as soon as possible, which means not the usual average of six years.”

We therefore reiterate our urgent call to the President to prosecute the previous president and her military and police forces who committed or participated in human rights violations cases; punish the guilty and let the perpetrators promise not to commit the same crimes again.

Ending impunity is one of the hardest human rights issues to be realized as past administrations have tolerated, some even encouraged, security forces to commit human rights violations in the twisted notion of “protecting and defending democracy.”  We urge the present dispensation to break free from the bad practices of the past and really GO AFTER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS, not only the corrupt and cheats, so that impunity will be ended and a really new beginning for the country will come about.



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