Category Archives: Politics

Prejudiced Opinion: SAF vs. MILF

What I hate about the internet now is that people have the avenue to make publicly uninformed comments at the comfort of their seats.

In line with the ongoing Mamasapano Clash between the PNP-SAF and the MILF and the BIFF, please don’t comment with prejudice. Understand why peace cannot even be achieved after so many years. Understand the history, the context, and the circumstances that led to the current state of things. By all means, condemn the killing. But never say anything uninformed. Never let emotions run your argument.

And please understand that you cannot generalize the whole just because a small sector is at fault.

For instance, all policemen are corrupt. This is a false statement. This is hasty generalization and can be attributed to ignorance. I think all of us can agree with my conclusion even if there are indeed evidences of a lot of corrupt policemen.

Now take another statement into consideration: All Muslims are terrorists. How come we now have a hard time denying the falsity of this statement? Is terrorism really based on the religious affiliation of a person? The answer should be a resounding NO. This is why it is wrong to attach the words “Muslim terrorists” together. Just as we don’t attach “Muslim-“, “Hindu-“, and “Christian-” to the word “rapist” or any other term related to criminal act. You see the immediate prejudice “Muslim terrorists” suggests, and it’s really unfair (if I still have to tell you).

The mass media (predominantly US-influenced) has bombarded us with that idea. And we took it to heart. Why? I would like to think that it’s because we needed someone to blame. Especially for the 9-11 attack. I know, the 9-11 was totally wrong. But honestly? The Muslims think it’s wrong too. The attack was politically motivated, nothing else. Unfortunately, a lot of unresolved issues continue to haunt us because of this attack. And as a result, Muslim people groups are being condemned, displaced, and even killed because of this (whatever happened to Christian love?).

Now look at this definition of “terrorism”:

The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms defines terrorism as:

The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

Ok. Based on this definition, even the United States, guised in their mission to free this world of all evil, can be considered a terrorist as well (ever heard of State Terrorism?). Why is it that they have to meddle with Iraq immediately after the 9-11 attack when Iraq clearly had no link to Al Qaeda? Why do they continue to pursue Sadam only to find out that their claim of weapons of mass destruction were nowhere to be found in Iraq? You think the United States with its sophisticated intelligence system would not know this beforehand?

Now, are the MILF terrorists? Honestly, yes and no. Yes they are terrorists based on the definition, because they sometimes result to unlawful violence for their political, religious, ideological agendas. And I can retort that the army is also a terrorist based on this definition. Definitions aside, however, they are not terrorists because honestly, if you really understood what they are fighting for, you would understand their side.

Yes, the fighters involved in the clash did wrong by killing, overkilling, and shooting a video of their killing. That’s the worst you could do, and frankly, no one should tolerate that – not even the MILF.

What I’m having an issue with is how people are so willing to freely call them terrorists just because. One wrong incident made by a division of MILF should not destroy what they are fighting for in the first place. Just as I wouldn’t condemn the whole PNP just because they failed to coordinate their objectives properly – thus resulting to the clash in the first place. And I wouldn’t condemn the whole government even if a few of their men have committed war crimes and human rights violations (believe me, there are a lot not broadcasted by mass media).

I also have an issue with how little people understand of the situation in Mindanao. I am not an expert, but I have researched enough to understand. Let me make this simple. The Spaniards conquered us, but they never really got hold of Mindanao. Unfortunately, they sold EVERYTHING to the United States – even Mindanao. Thus with the subsequent independence of the Philippines (our real independence was after World War II, mind you), we claimed sovereignty over everything. But they should have never really been part of us. And I would go on to say that we never really made them part of the Philippine discourse. Now we want to claim sovereignty over these people? These people who for so long have also endured enough for their eyes to be opened. What with the Jabidah Massacre (this led to the creation of the MNLF), the land grabbing that went on there, and other things that irked them rather than drew them closer to us.

So the fighting endures to this day. On one hand, the government fighting for their claim of sovereignty over Mindanao. On the other, the MNLF/MILF/Other groups claiming their sovereignty over their lands. Honestly, with the way things are going now, no one’s right anymore. The government insists on one thing, the other groups insist on another. And if we take the suggestion of His Excellency Joseph Estrada, an all out war will never be the solution. War breeds vengeance, and vengeance will come back to haunt everyone in the future. That is why the Bangsamoro Basic Law was such a huge landmark for both sides.

Now, I leave you to your own perspective. I will respect your right to voice out your opinion as much as I will defend my right to voice out mine. But please, I’m begging you. Make informed comments and opinions. Don’t comment based solely on your emotional biases against these people. Honestly, we’re just promoting bigotry with what we are doing. Be informed about their side. Understand them before diving into the void that is prejudice.

Impressive State of the Nation?

“Walang imposible…” These words remain in me even hours after the SONA of President Aquino. The words are true when you take it in face value. Walang imposible. Nothing is impossible when a nation works together for the advancement of their country.

President Aquino inspired the Filipino people. The tone all across the internet immediately after the SONA was an inspired buzz. The people once again felt proud to be called a Filipino. But what truly happened at the SONA? Honestly? It was a PR event. Why? The President highlighted all his accomplishments and semi-accomplishments (meaning, still in progress or expected outcome of his projects). This is fine if and only if it is a PR event. However, SONA should not be treated in the same light. SONA is literally reporting the state of the nation – the REAL state of the nation. What the President did was totally opposite.

President Aquino highlighted his accomplishments in various fields and taking turns praising the secretaries in charge of the projects. According to Aquino, the budget of DepEd and SUCs were dramatically increased. He then mocked the protesters by saying that they should take remedial math classes if they still complain about the education budget. Aquino is, sadly, wrong. Naturally, the budget should go up. The K-12 has been institutionalized. Along with the pressing lack of infrastructure in the Education sector, more professional trainings for teachers are needed as well. So naturally, the budget should be increased. The SUCs, on the other hand, really need the budget. They are not getting the budget that is due them. They are supposed to be supported by the state in order to produce scholars that will help the country. The way the President talked about the SUCs budget in his SONA was like saying he only increased it for show. No! The Education budget should be taken seriously.

The other points were fine. However, there were some points I would like to call out. For instance, a clear stance is needed in the Kalayaan group of islands. One would hope that the President address these issues clearly. However, the President went on to talk about the AFP modernization plan. He boasted a grand total of 2 new warships and several attack helicopters. If he is alluding to defending our seas with these “modern” war machines, then I don’t know. If I may ask the President, what would 2 Cold War era gunships acquired from the United States second hand and without major weaponry do to a 1990s era aircraft carrier? What would attack helicopters do to fighter jets? The answer is a resounding nothing. Obviously, we’d lose. Our fleet of ships and aircrafts are so small they are approaching 0 compared to China.

What about the economic implications of the Philippines? Yes, the economic air is good in the Philippines now. Investors are generally more positive in investing in the Philippines. The GDP growth rate is at 6.4% for the 1st quarter, and the unemployment rate lowered. However, the real question is does it reach the masses? What good is the economic growth if only the rich can benefit from it? Does the Pantawid Pamilya Program really help the poor? Instead of saying what the program does, the President could have mentioned the updates to the implementation of the program. Another important question to ask is how does the government define unemployment? These alterations in definition can really result to a differing and often delusional set of statistics from reality.

Another thing I want to stress is how he called the rebels. He called them “kaaway” and referred to them as “naghahasik ng lagim”. If the President views these rebels with legitimate demands as enemies doing evil, then nothing productive will be accomplished with these people.

And yet another point I want to make is about the reference to CARP. He claimed that after his term, all lands under CARP will have been distributed already. One can only guess how far he would go in fulfilling that with Hacienda Luisita in mind. To backtrack, the President declared during the 2010 elections that he will distribute Hacienda Luisita. On October 2011, however, he says that he will have a “hands-off policy” on the matter. So is the CARP reference only sweet talk? One can only hope that it’s not.

There were also several key issues that were not discussed. The Freedom of Information Bill which is said to be a priority measure was not discussed. It is quite ironic because the President keeps alluding to the “matuwid na daan” yet fails to mention a bill which will provide transparency for the government agencies. President Aquino mentioned, in passing, “responsible parenting” eliciting a standing ovation from the gallery and the Congressional seats in the session hall. However, he really didn’t mention anything else related to the Reproductive Health Bill.

What about human rights? I sat in front of the TV anticipating the mention of the issues related to human rights violation. However, none was mentioned. Aquino mentioned that those with fault will be convicted. However, he was referring to those that are corrupt. The human rights violators still lurk around with a surprising 1% conviction rate. Should we blame the judicial process (that’s what Edwin Lacierda did) for being slow? No, they have themselves to blame for those violators that are still at-large.

In essence, the SONA is lacking in substance. It is all hope and too feel-good. It will be dangerous and not beneficial if the Filipino people are blinded from the truths and reality that are supposed to face them. If this is indeed a “SONA ng taong bayan” as the President has claimed, then the report could have been structured to really mention the pressing issues that face the nation today. SONA is not a speech to impress but to address. A last wish would be for the President to fulfill all the good things he said in his speech. Otherwise, the Filipino people would be left with another year of hoping and realizing that all SONAs are actually the same – a political exercise aimed at uplifting the current administration.

Capitalism vs. Communism – What is the Perfect System?

Global media has been promoting the thought that capitalism is what we need. Born in a time where democracy is the prevailing form of government, primary educational institutions project the idea that communism is bad. Even public opinion is against communist sentiments.

These two ideas have had a long history. During the 19th century, at the end of the industrial revolution, Karl Marx propagated the idea of communism. Marx was a German philosopher who strongly refuted the ideas of capitalism. Marx wrote Das Kapital to further his ideas about a communist world free from exploitation. In order for this to happen, however, a revolution must occur. The proletariat (the lowest class of citizens) must overthrow the bourgeois and the elite. Marxism was further developed by minds such as Mao and Lenin. The friction between capitalism and communism reached its height during the Cold War. USA, the champion and flagship of capitalism and democracy was in tension with the communist USSR. At the end of the tension, the Soviet Union was dismantled. Walls were broken, and democracy apparently won.

Communism still thrives today, however, though this world is moving more and more to a capitalistic world, the words of Marx still give hope that someday a communist world will be achieved. Marx believed that in order to reach communism, the world has to go through capitalism in order for the proletariat to realize that they are taken advantage of. That realization is being stopped, however, by the dominant mass media which bombards everyone with dreams and aspirations that they will probably never achieve. Branding the communist movement only as a resistance movement also limits the clout of communism.

Here’s the question: what is the better system? Capitalism has promised us opportunities to compete. Communism promises an ideal and progressive world where everyone will receive what he/she worked for; in turn, no one will take advantage of others.

We have seen that capitalism, though dominant, will not live up to its promise. People, especially the poor, are being used as tools to further the interest of the few. We have seen the aggressiveness of the world in forcing China (a modern communist society) and its allies to being a capitalistic society. After all, who can fight against the wonders of Coca Cola? Who can fight against the dream of being filthy rich? No one, not even the poor people who are held back by the elite.

So communism is the answer? I don’t think so. While communism promises an ideal world, we don’t know the future. As long as people are living, the nature of people to be greedy will be here. In fact, capitalism started out as a movement to counter feudalism (all with good and ideal motives). The power was so centered on the monarchy that no opportunities were given to the others. Capitalism achieved the decentralization of opportunities. It only became a corrupt system when people realized they could take advantage of it. Same will be true with communism. People WILL ALWAYS find a way to exploit a system.

So what do we do now? Marx, et al. proposed the thought that it is the system that creates the avenue for exploitation. For me, however, it is the person himself/herself who creates the avenue for exploitation regardless of the system. It is not caused by the system. Investing in moral education is the answer. No system is perfect. No matter what the system, it is the corrupt hearts and minds of all the people (mine included) that corrupts the system – not the other way around. Moral virtues are important in clearing the greed and pride of a person. Simple yet hard to achieve.

This is where we, as Christians, come in. We know that we are NOT of this world. We have a mission to plant the seeds of change in the hearts of men and women. This is a challenge, but it is a challenge worth taking. It is not the system but the people. Take up the call, then, to change the people – NO MATTER WHAT THE SYSTEM IS.

The Culture of Impunity – A Never Ending Story

The culture of impunity has continued in the Philippines through decades of Presidents. Extra-judicial killings abound, and justice was never achieved. The killer, the mastermind, and their interests still go unchallenged in this society. This has not changed in the current administration.

Last night, a Malacanang reporter was shot in Pasig. These kinds of happenings continue to give a chilling effect not only to the media practitioners but also to the ordinary citizens. If the journalists, who are regarded as the watchdog of the country, are attacked like this, there will be no stopping the powerful and influential people to abuse their power.

The Malacanang Press Corps has released a statement hoping for the President to uphold the promise of putting primacy to the press freedom and the promise of punishing the wrongdoers. Looking back, there has been really no closure in past cases that involved journalists being killed. Promises can be like a food so beautifully decorated on the outside but hollow on the inside. What’s the use of having an eye-catching food when it’s really empty inside?

But I should not be the one to forget that almost 2 years ago, the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency was the same person who has not yet even finished acting on one promise.Who can blame the Filipinos? No one. No one? Yes, no one. Precisely because the reason why Noynoy was the favorite is in his platform of change. He promised a “matuwid na daan” where corruption will be blotted out of our growing country. Who could resist such a powerful platform? However, one finds out how hollow a food is only after he/she tries it out themselves. According to an ABS-CBN micro-site tracking the promises of Noynoy, of the more than 100 promises of Noynoy, 12 are in progress, 1 is stalled, and 0 are completed.

As you can see in the highlighted portion of the screenshot, President Noynoy’s promises have largely come undone. Only 12 are in progress.

Going back to the main point, if it is indeed the administration’s desire for press freedom to be safeguarded, things like these wouldn’t be happening. Or at least those doing so would be held accountable as soon as possible. Instead, we see one killing after another, and the masterminds remain free. Now it has penetrated the Metro Manila scene where it was once regarded as a safer place (in comparison with other provinces of the Philippines) to practice journalism.

These kinds of acts should be condemned more actively by everyone. It is not only the fight of the journalists, but the fight of every Filipino.