13 December 2009

Martial Law in Maguindanao

Saturday, December 12, 2009

After Martial Law in Maguindanao, What?

Deeply rooted in Maguindanao is a culture of dominant clan power. A false reading of the situation results in a truncated view of Maguindanao political history. This view sees the phenomenon as the product of one government period, the decade of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Arguably a greater share of the blame could be laid at the door of the present government. But the culture of dominant and changing local power has been with us in the once “empire province of Cotabato,” which included the present Maguindanao, since at least the 1950s. To my knowledge, no government from the 1950s to the present did anything serious to root this out. In the past 60 years, all governments and many politicians from all parties wanting to get votes have cultivated this culture and ignored the periodic violence that erupted. It was a case of mutual political exploitation and expediency. We ourselves, ordinary citizens, have kept quiet in the past 60 years and learned the art of accommodation.

But of course criticism of Martial Law in Maguindanao is really based on total distrust of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Survey after survey is paraded to say that this is the pulse of the people. The stand of small protesting “militant” groups is given disproportionate media exposure. Political oppositionists and personalities from “militant” organizations are interviewed again and again to give their expected negative views on actions of government. In a very real sense the extraordinary amount of media exposure that is given to the opposition in Manila provides a distorted view of the country as a whole...

Martial Law by its nature as a last resort should be of short duration. But precisely because of its brevity, the following will result: one clan will be significantly disarmed; the balance of political and armed power will shift to other clans; private armies will remain though possibly less visible and probably more sophisticated in behavior; the deep trauma resulting from the massacre will persist; rido is not going to be stopped; the legislative, justice, and executive--and electoral--mechanisms will still be in the hands of those related to or have debts of gratitude to various families; and if a member of the rival clan will somehow gain the top post of the province, do we in Maguindanao really believe that the provincial capitol will remain in Shariff Aguak? Even the peace process will be affected by the loyalties of local rebel commanders to their own clans. Hence, the fundamental dysfunctions in Maguindanao will remain after Martial Law.

What do I see as a possible solution? Even now sentiments are strong in Central and southern Mindanao that elections for local offices in Maguindanao should be deferred. Or at least the term of Martial Law should be extended till after the elections. The fundamental suggestion is for us to move forward from partisan political criticism to collective constructive thinking and effective action on this central issue of Maguindanao dysfunction. I respectfully address this to all concerned, particularly the Senate, House of Representatives, the judicial branch and the Arroyo administration, as well as to all of us Maguindanawons.

+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
December 11, 2009

01 December 2009

Private armies and the insurgency

By Alex Magno
(The Philippine Star)
Updated November 28, 2009 12:00 AM

The standing estimate is that the Ampatuan clan has 800 men (!) under arms. That virtual army is maintained largely at the expense of the state. Government armed and paid allowances to most of these men: a private army operating under the cover of “civilian volunteers” useful for containing the insurgency in the region.

Until this chilling tragedy (in Maguindanao) happened, the authorities found the arrangement concerning “civilian volunteers” a largely functional one. A trade-off was adopted early in the game, many presidencies ago.

Since the AFP did not have enough men and equipment to effectively contain the armed secessionist groups in the area, the “civilian volunteers” functioned as force extenders. In the case of Maguindanao, the “civilian volunteers” were very useful. They kept the MILF trapped in the Maranao areas, with the Maguindanao-speaking areas relatively free of insurgents.

There is a price to pay for that: government tacitly condoned warlords who did their best to contribute to suppressing the insurgency. This has been the unspoken arrangement since the days when these “civilian volunteers” were called BSDUs and then CAFGUs.

The “civilian volunteers” in Maguindanao province provided a crucial buffer, keeping the insurgent groups away from the productive plantations, tuna industries and bustling urban economies to the south. The occasional abuses committed by the warlords, until this week, were a small price to pay for the strategic role of keeping the Maguindanao area and those to the south of the province free of insurgency.

In a way, government had little choice. There was not enough money to enlarge the army so that it achieves an effective ratio of superiority over the secessionist guerrilla forces and the isolated communist gangs. “Civilian volunteers” might be a band-aid solution to a strategic vulnerability, but it was the best that could be done.

This is the complex structure of considerations underpinning Gibo Teodoro’s statement that the only way we can get rid of private armies is to enlarge the army. That is a statement made boldly and frankly — even at the risk of many voters failing to get the point.

Gibo Teodoro should know what the complex considerations are. He served an exemplary two years as defense secretary.

The warlords were not about to squander the leverage they enjoyed. They used the private armies to consolidate their local power bases and occasionally pleased their patrons in Manila by delivering votes in their favor. Still, the existence of these private armies is a by-product of a strategic vulnerability of the state, not just the administration.

Until we have enough money to invest in greater military capability to contain a well-armed insurgent movement, we will have to rely on the cheap repressive labor contributed by “civilian volunteers” organized by local warlords...

But something truly disastrous has happened. The arrangement will now have to be abrogated. What that means is that the civilian volunteer groups need to be disbanded, the offending local tyrants made to face the full weight of the law, and the military, although already thinly spread out, must be redeployed to cover the vacuum...

In the wake of this tragedy, the only guys who have anything to cheer about are the insurgent groups and their allied criminal and terrorist gangs. That is the greatest misfortune of this whole thing.

08 November 2009

A lethal combination of media and politics

The Kris and Noynoy show on ABS-CBN
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
(The Philippine Star)
Updated November 07, 2009 12:00 AM

For some background. In the 70s I wrote a book The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos. It was a straightforward narration of Imelda’s life before she became the First Lady. Marcos and Imelda tried to suppress the book and I had to decide whether I would go on with the book or give it up in the face of extreme pressure and harassment. It became a question of freedom. I chose to go on with the book and began a journey that would lead me from housewife to politics to exile and back at the end of the Marcos years.

While in exile in London, we joined the opposition’s fight to regain democracy. Democrats partnered with vested interests and formed a community to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. At the center of that movement was Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino whose journey turned him from an ambitious politician to become a martyr when he was assassinated in 1983. It was serious stuff. When his widow, Cory Aquino took up the mantle after his assassination, the expectation was she would lead the movement towards reforms not only in the Filipino body politic but in society as well. Alas she was not up to it. She was, they said, a victim of her own class and despite her good intentions, unable to lead the political reform and moral regeneration among Filipinos inspired by the struggle against a dictatorship. Her powerful supporters were amply rewarded and we returned to the pre-martial law status quo.

* * *

(With this background in mind, it) is easy to dismiss the whole she-bang (of the Kris and Noynoy show on ABS-CBN) as showbiz and regarded as just another movie script. The story begins with Cory’s well-attended funeral and its transformation into a political cause for Noynoy’s candidacy and his election as president. It has its appeal and none more strident than ABS-CBN’s Boto Mo, Ipatrol Mo, Ako ang Simula.

Fine. By all means, guard the votes but who and what are we voting for? Those questions seem to have been left out. If it were for someone who would lead us, truly lead us, then it is a meaningful advocacy. But the sorry truth is the guarding of votes only means we are being made pawns of a determined onslaught by oligarchies who do not want change and yet want us to believe that they are campaigning for change.

According to ABS-CBN “we have one year to change traditional politics in our country and we are empowering them through this multimedia campaign.” Only one year? We have been at it for generations.

It will of course be condemned if media were to proclaim their candidate and that this advocacy is part of the grand scheme to get Noynoy elected as President because he will protect vested interests.

The Lopez owned media boasts of its multiplatform structure — television, radio, cable TV, the Internet, and mobile technology. I can bet you it would never be used if it were in support of a strong state capable of regulating the power of monopolies. But for a long time now, it has been clear that the marriage of powerful media and political partisanship is a lethal combination. It has not helped the country move forward. It isn’t about change but about protecting the status quo.

15 September 2009

Yellow Revolution in 2010?

Pieces of a puzzle...
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
The Philippine Star)
Updated September 12, 2009 12:00 AM

A civic leader narrated in a recent conference how it was suggested to him by an ABS-CBN anchor to paint the entire country yellow. That is a loud hint of what this chain of events is all about — a color revolution not unlike those launched in countries where the US wants to pursue a policy direction. Color revolutions have been successful in other countries like Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgystan. The pattern of color revolutions is to incite massive street protests after disputed elections. In the Philippines, the “Garci tape” and the resignation of the Hyatt 10 failed to bring the people into the streets. A massing in the streets (for whatever purpose) was finally achieved in Cory’s funeral cortege that is why operatives quickly moved to use the event for a political cause — the anointing of Noynoy as presidential candidate.

Noynoy had the decency to wait for 40 days after his mother’s death before announcing his candidacy, but intense maneuvering for the yellow revolution was already set in motion.

The yellow revolution and the anointing of Noynoy as the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party are endgames of a determined effort to overthrow President Arroyo that began in 2004. So what are color revolutions? Various reports point to the George Soros Foundation that works with elements of the US government to plan and initiate these “spontaneous” events.

It was published in The Guardian that USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and Freedom House have also been directly involved. Both the Washington Post and New York Times also reported on how color revolutions were used for the West’s political agenda. (You can get a listing of donations to the Philippines from the Soros in the Internet. Donations were given to unnamed individuals for “education”.)

Consequently, more countries shy away from color revolutions and avoid any color or flower to describe homegrown grassroots campaigns. In other words, they reject color revolutions because these connote foreign interference and shallow reforms.

The Friedrich Naumann Foundation has partnered with the Liberal Party of the Philippines in pushing a “democratic and liberal” agenda in the Philippines.

The same foundation was accused of being behind anti-China protests over Tibet during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The campaign was planned in its Washington-based headquarters.

12 September 2009

The sad truth

Pieces of a puzzle...
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
(The Philippine Star)
Updated September 12, 2009 12:00 AM

A lot of friends have said to me they were confused by the rapid chain of events that culminated in the ascendancy of Noynoy Aquino as a leading presidential candidate. How a lackluster senator should suddenly be catapulted to become first in line is being justified because “he is the son of good parents like Ninoy and Cory Aquino”. It may be true that there was a big crowd at Cory’s funeral cortege although it was smaller than the more spontaneous crowds that joined Ninoy’s in 1983. To our dismay we learned that massing crowds has only a short shelf life. Cory’s EDSA revolutions very soon disappointed because these were mere “changing” of the guards. This column would therefore caution confused Filipinos. The crowds may be lauded for paying their respects to a democracy icon but that does not invest them with the right to speak for 80 million Filipinos and their fate in the coming years. We should stand against using Cory’s death to wrest political power even if her son is the vehicle. It would be a step back for our political maturity. The question should be weighed against issues and events outside the Philippines. The well-attended funeral of former President Cory Aquino should be considered in a more modest context.

For years, she had led attempts to call on people to join her in ousting President GMA but there were no takers. The most memorable of these failed attempts was on television for all to see when she wanted to bring in “followers” into the camp to pray.

The military, thankfully, were wiser and asked her to pray outside the camps. The country faced a greater peril if a battle should break out between two camps of soldiers armed to kill each other. Happily, cooler heads prevailed (not from Cory’s peaceful camp) - lives were spared, the republic kept intact and the nation saved from breaking apart.

With that memorable confrontation in mind in which Cory played an unfortunate role I think no one was more surprised than her own family of the sea change that took place because from then on all attempts to bring down the Arroyo government through mobs were resisted by the general public.

04 August 2009

Prayer for Cory

Let us pause for a moment and pray for the soul of our beloved and sadly estranged Cory Aquino, acknowledged leader of the people and servant of God. In the light of the trials of her life, may she have the grace to forgive, and the humility to ask forgiveness. Let us also ask forgiveness for our own faults that may have caused or contributed to her pain. We are reminded that in death, wealth and power will be worth nothing, while love, humility and forgiveness will be worth everything. May God bless her soul.

Dodong aka Ka kiko

17 July 2009

Putsch against GMA

Here's the story behind the putsch against the GMA administration.

The story within the story


By Carmen N. Pedrosa
Philippine Star
Sunday, September 7, 2008

If there is a book Filipino journalists must read, it is Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow. It is a good tool to understand our politics of today, suffused as it is, with geopolitical implications. The key
point is to keep firmly in mind the US-Chinese world power rivalry. Because of this rivalry, the US has no patience with foreign policies that are not in keeping with their idea of American hegemony in the region.

In his book Kinzer narrates that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not an isolated episode. He traces a history of 110 years during which Americans overthrew 14 governments that displeased them for various ideological, political and economic reasons. Among the first of these countries that shaped US policy on overthrow is the Philippines. Others are Hawaii, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Honduras, South Vietnam, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Grenada, and Panama.

Often, he says, US officials simply don’t comprehend why developing nations want to control their own natural resources. “With each overthrow, the US government repeatedly pursued short-term gains, never contemplating the tragic consequences that might develop decades later.”

* * *

I suspect the same US policy is behind the vilification of President GMA. To them she is an unreliable ally. That decision was made as far back as the 2004 elections. The overt story of this campaign of vilification is “she cheated in the elections and a tape was produced to support the allegation.” All criticisms, in one form or another, spring from that accusation which gave it a moral stamp.

The campaign came in stages which included props like a UN rapporteur, church groups from abroad and shrill statements from human rights organizations. Never mind if that tape is itself illegal and unacceptable evidence. Never mind if the Supreme Court handed a decision that any protest and re-counting of votes are moot if the protestant, FPJ, is dead. Never mind if Filipinos refused to mass in protest even when Cory and the bishops were calling as they did in two EDSAs.

That is not the point. The point is to make Filipinos hate its own government and make it ineffective.

* * *

Its covert reason is another. Because she has a penchant for acting and deciding independently (i.e. her flirtations with China is one, another is her recall of the Philippine team from Iraq for the sake of truck driver Angelo de la Cruz) therefore she cannot be “fully” trusted. To isolate her government from Filipinos — the record just keeps playing on — she cannot do right. There are enough home-grown resources to drive the wedge — media, poll surveys, sections of the Church and business groups are only some of them. (Remember that pathetic protest in Ayala Avenue or the Peninsula siege or even finally the aggrieved media members holding up their tied hands).

Less obvious is the strategy to ensure that no Charter change ever takes place before 2010 until a new, more pliant president can be installed. If we follow the logic of American interventions, the next president will owe his victory to them for stopping Charter change at whatever cost.

I can imagine the exasperation of political operators assigned to this task. She has not resigned nor has she been ousted. She is successfully being estranged from her people without their even knowing why.

* * *

Robert Sherrill who reviewed the book says American agents engage in “complex, well-financed campaigns to bring down governments.” But it is not often obvious. The American belief that “they are the most righteous people in the world and that they are obliged to force their version of righteousness on backward nations — especially if they have a bountiful supply of minerals that our corporations want (i.e., oil in Iran, copper in Chile)” can be distracting. Not surprisingly there has to be a religious or moral component in regime changes especially in a mainly Catholic country like the Philippines.

* * *

Take the case of the Iranian leader, Mossadegh. In Overthrow, Kinzer narrates the British asked Secretary of State Dulles who in turn asked his brother, CIA Director Allen Dulles to conduct a
vilification campaign against him. “What ensued was a truly masterful piece of skulduggery” Kinzer writes.

“First came a propaganda campaign to convince the West Mossadegh was a communist, which in the US of the 1950s put him on the level of a child molester. Actually, Mossadegh hated communists, but most of our press swallowed the lie. Time Magazine had previously called Mossadegh “the Iranian George Washington” and “the most world-renowned man his ancient race had produced for centuries.” Now it called him “one of the worst calamities to the anti-communist world since the Red conquest of China.”

* * *

I daresay that GMA’s vilification is no different from Mossadegh’s. Take the MOA-AD controversy. Attacks on the MOA-AD have been so skillfully orchestrated to stop not only Charter change, these reinforce the tarring of GMA’s government as incompetent and promote opposition candidates for the presidency in the 2010 elections.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers are being “skilfully” used to whip up disgust with the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) a President GMA’s bid to extend her term beyond 2010. The lawyers’ group blames Arroyo for the deaths and displacement of civilians in Mindanao.

And the final blow: NUPL calls on senators who have endorsed moves to amend the Constitution to make way for a shift to a federal government to withdraw their support.

* * *

Malacañang is fighting back but it has to be more forceful and as skillful. “In the wake of the controversy, Ms Arroyo has unveiled a “new paradigm of peace” shifting the focus of the peace process from talks with armed groups to “authentic dialogues with concerned communities.” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press statement.

If I remember right, the Aquino government worked out its peace agreement with the MNLF through an executive order without much ado.

But that does not stop Senate President Protempore “Jinggoy” Estrada and Senator Mar Roxas for stoking the fire against an agreement that never was. (Roxas has the edge for American support in 2010.) No matter how many times it is said no agreement has been signed. You had better believe in it like Mossadegh was a communist.

Biggest political lie

From: Balai Malai
To: Demosthenes B. Donato
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 4:36 AM
Subject: (Biggest Political Lie)

Hi Batchmates,

Before anything else, I would like to say that I seek you in peace and respect as fellow Ateneo Law School batchmates. I have closely monitored with increasingly anxiety the NBN/Lozada stories. To be honest, I am disturbed by the political advocacy calling for "regime change"... The content and message of the e-mail petition calling for resignation speaks for itself. From my end, I will just cite the article of Carmen N. Pedrosa below whose view I share in relation to what's going on (since the time GMA pulled out Angelo dela Cruz from Iraq, and actively sought out Chinese investments, up to the present)...

I admit I am frustrated that many of us continue to revere (the) former President (Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino) as the leading light (and infallible icon) of democracy. If there is anything she did right, it was that she handed power to her Constitutional successor in 1992. The rumors I now hear about the First Gentleman are the same rumors I heard before about Mrs. Aquino and her relatives (then called Kamag-anak, Inc.). The only difference is that I purposely chose to disbelieve the rumors about then President Aquino out of my euphoria from People's Power. Now I know I was mistaken. If we should mature politically as a people, we should learn to do away with stereotyping, i.e. that Marcos and his supporters were (all) evil, and that Aquino and her civil society associates are (all) saints. That is the BIGGEST POLITICAL LIE we all need to overcome. Let the laws be applied (fairly and equally) to (everyone) regardless of our political leanings. Otherwise, we will keep on repeating the same political mistakes we have done before.

Dindo Donato
Ateneo Law Batch 88

Fascism in the streets
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
Sunday, March 2, 2008

One headline said it all “The crowd is the statement.” What about the millions of other Filipinos who were not there and who do not agree with the statement? I hope they will not be forced to submit to action sought by “the crowd” that would affect the entire country and consequently their own lives. Must they be deprived just because a group of vested interests were able to gather a crowd? Ok let’s be generous and say there were 75,000 who gathered there according to the organizers themselves. The police said 15,000 and they give a scientific reason for their estimate. Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office reasoned that if the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas measured half a hectare, or 5,000 square meters and you had three people per square meter then the logical estimate would be 15,000 people. Even with that estimate it would have been too crowded for the space of a square meter and it did not look that crowded even with deliberate panning only in parts were it was ‘crowded’.

When a few segments of society are able to assert their will by force, with whatever weapon, there is one word for it — fascism. They were describing the whole event as festive, not violent at all even if the intention was to force President GMA’s ouster by “the crowd”. Speaking of truth, the singing and laughing churchgoers and prayerful society matrons is also an extra constitutional means to get rid of the president. It also means to those of us unable to put up crowds for lack of time and money or corporate sponsors that it bypasses the political institutions for decision making — elections. And that is not until 2010. Something I had always thought these groups hold precious.

Although fascist is the last word they would want to be called, that is what the group was about in Ayala last Friday. They wanted to force President GMA out because they had “enough” people in the streets. I also know how these are gathered. Why is it happening? Why can a few members of the clergy, some oligarchs and the opposition gather a crowd and then claim they speak for the nation? Because that is the truth they would not admit or tell us. They may be a motley group but they symbolize real power in this country — the church, the oligarchy and colonial operators — not the military or the government as these are so often accused who can be made to cave in when the time comes.

Fascismo, its Italian name comes from fascio means, “bundle, (political) group,” and its emblem, “the fasces, a bundle of rods bound around a projecting axe-head that was carried before an ancient Roman magistrate by an attendant as a symbol of authority and power.” It might have been founded by Mussolini as an authoritarian political movement but it is also widely used as a political term to mean the use of force. Last Friday, the fascist weapon was “the crowd”, but in truth just a few rods that compose the power in this country.

It is easy to be misled when they gather a crowd and brand it as people power, and mouth freedom and democracy. But look closer and connect the dots — something else appears — the crowds are mere props of the oligarchic bundle of rods. The massing of crowds for regime change has come to be known in the Philippines as EDSA. It was successful twice that a third is being attempted again.

Mainly it is a fight of elites with one group out in the cold who want to seize power — sila naman. If that were the only reason, we would not have this fever pitch push to make it happen before 2010. That is the giveaway that I have often written about in the past. It is the flexing of muscle of political operators who want to prove they can do it at anytime by pushing the right buttons.

One day perhaps an assiduous history student will write it all down. It is not just about NBN or ZTE but about the struggle for power between the US and China.

* * *

I found it the height of irony that former presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada should be both at the rally. Cory Aquino was put up after one EDSA as the massing of crowds and the other was put down in another. But that should tell you a lot. It can be done either way. One thing is clear if President GMA resigns, it will prove yet again that the fascists and their foreign sponsors rule.

It is worth noting that it was a Vice President of the United States Henry Wallace who was the first to clearly and accurately point out who the real American fascists are, and what they’re up to. “The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.” So is it in the Philippines.

The Makati Business Club’s omnipresence in the rally (reportedly footing the bill for the rally) is not surprising. Italian Giovanni Gentile wrote in the Encyclopedia Italiana: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

It may be that the Arroyos are guilty of the same but we must be able to distinguish between true democrats and those who pretend to be democrats by using democratic lexicon. “American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation’s largest corporations — who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media — they could promote their lies with ease. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection,” Wallace added. That is not difficult to translate in Philippine terms circa 2008 and the interpretation of recent events by media owned or influenced by big business.

A dangerous alliance

Here's a forwarded article that presents an interesting view of our political culture.

A dangerous alliance

By Leondro R. Lojo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:33:00 03/01/2008

We are all being made witness to an amazing spectacle, and although this isn’t the first time that blindness and hypocrisy are seen holding hands, it is, nevertheless, an amazing sight.

Two forces have come together. Each already poses a lot of danger to any society, so just imagine what they can achieve together.

On one side of this alliance are the misguided idealists. These people never outgrew the martial law era. They believe that the only way to express patriotism and love for country is by screaming their lungs out in the streets while holding a placard with a defaced picture of the President. These misguided idealists have arrogance running through their veins as they believe that they have a monopoly on righteousness. Whatever they do, they do because it is in the best interest of the nation. Well, since when did spray-painting a U-turn sign on Commonwealth Avenue with bold black letters that read “OUST GMA” [“OUST GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO] become part of promoting the nation’s interest?

They have so much hate against the government that they have become allergic to rules. Their ideas push them to believe that the government and the people running it are perpetually bound to oppress the poor and enrich themselves. They make this eternal call for change, yet they don’t change—or better yet, they don’t want to change. These people waste resources, time and energy by burning effigy after effigy. They believe that only through noise, disorder, turbulence and confusion can a new society be born—descending slowly and graciously from the heavens, like the New Jerusalem, with angels singing in the background. Yes, that’s how blind they are.

In their minds, they are catalysts of change. In reality, they are plain and simple anarchists. They should start looking for jobs and become more productive.

On the other side of this alliance are the politically motivated personalities, hypocrites to the bone. They are using scandals and controversies to become more popular, and their end-goal is to get the highest political position possible. And they have been quite successful. Last year, we saw young congressmen rise to the Senate based, not on merit and achievements, but on controversies they had destructively stirred.

They are populists because it’s the only way they can climb the political ladder. They can’t enact strategic legislation, which will provide long-term benefits, such as developing the transportation system, increasing exports, improving revenue collection and assisting businesses, because all these entail short-term sacrifices, which might cost them their positions—a risk they are unwilling to take.

All they do is complain, and they complain with a fiery passion to make the people believe in the fantasies they are selling. They are polemicists, criticizing without presenting solutions and alternatives. They speak only words that are pleasing to the ears of the masses. When they face political dilemmas, their decisions are based on what would profit them politically, not what is right and just. They are slick talkers, and if you’re not careful enough, they can easily deceive you.

This is a dangerous alliance, as it seeks to plunge society into chaos. They want our society to lose any semblance of stability so that they can create a new order. But even they themselves have no idea how it will function.

But I am not afraid. They cannot achieve anything unless we let ourselves be used by these political clowns for their own blind and selfish goals. They can make as much noise as they want, but they need many more warm bodies to join their ranks before they succeed in destabilizing our society. I have already counted the many curious, naïve, gullible, ignorant and politically immature countrymen who are neither misguided idealists nor hypocrites but will take part in this political adventure, and they still won’t make it.

I can hear the noise, but I still can’t feel the heat. After each and every protest rally, the crowds would fizzle out, the streets would be left empty and dirty, and the leaders of the carnival would be eating a fancy dinner while most of the gullible people they drew into the activity would be walking home. Every demonstration sends a clear and strong message to the whole world that while countries across the globe are taking measures to strengthen their exports, develop their industries, attract new investors and ensure their competitiveness in a fast changing, globalized world, we are busy playing on the streets of our financial district.

Having taken this unpopular stand, I ask:

Why do we have to change the government, when we are all part of the problem? Imagine how much more we could have achieved if all the wasted time, resources and energy were utilized to enact good legislation, build more houses, establish more schools, help small and medium enterprises, and construct more roads.

Why do we waste time, resources and energy in asking the President to change or to change the President when we can, in our own little ways, bring about change? When will we realize that we have better things to do? When will we understand that regime change, right here and right now, will not solve anything?

In this day and age, genuine reform and revolution no longer necessitate the dramatic street episodes of the martial law era. Today, our society’s transformation depends on small, quiet, often undocumented steps toward political and economic stability.

I refuse to be part of this political circus of blind and selfish clowns.

Leondro R. Lojo, 23, has a master’s degree in political economy from the University of Asia and the Pacific and works as a research analyst in a risk-advising company.

16 February 2009

Puno't Dulo ng Political Instability

Mga kababayan,

Marami ang nagsasabi na ang puno’t dulo ng ating political instability ay ang Garci tape. Ayoko na sanang patulan ito pero tila hindi na maiiwasang harapin ang issue dahil ayaw talaga tumigil ang iilan sa pagtangkang gamitin at udyukin ang People’s Power laban sa GMA administration.

Bilang kasapi ng EDSA 1 at EDSA 2, maliwanag sa akin na hindi Garci tape ang totoong dahilan ng ating political instability. Ang tunay na puno’t dulo nito ay ang kasakiman ng iilan na ayaw magpa-awat sa pag-agaw ng kapangyarihan. Hindi mawawala ang problemang ito, habang hindi maibsan ang maitim nilang balakin, kahit sino pa man ang naka-upo sa Malacanang.

Maliwanag din sa akin kung bakit hindi puedeng gamitin ang Garci tape para maglunsad ng People’s Power laban sa GMA administration.
(1) Ang Garci tape ay dubious evidence. Hindi alam ng bayan kung ito’y edited, spliced, tampered o clean recording. Hindi rin alam kung ito’y 3 hours o 30 hours.
(2) Ang Garci tape ay unauthenticated evidence. Hindi natin alam kung sino ang nag-record at kung bakit ni-record ito. Si Vidal Doble ba ng ISAFP? Ping Lacson na dating PACC? Samuel Ong ng NBI? Leandro Aragoncillo ng FBI? Mga di kilalang sleeper agents ng CIA? O iba pang alipores ng intelligence community?
(3) Kahina-hinala ang timing ng pag-release ng Garci tape sa media. Bakit hindi ito nilabas noong buhay pa si FPJ, ang tanging kandidato na may karapatang usigin si GMA sa electoral protest?
(4) Walang pinag-uusapan na pandaraya sa Garci tape, maliban sa isang portion na may compressed sound waves, na pinag-pipilitan ng ilang politico na “dagdag” daw ang sinabi, at hindi “Binalbagan” na isang munisipyo sa Negros Occidental.
(5) Tapos na ang botohan at mukhang tapos na rin ang bilangan noong nagkaroon ng pag-uusap. Siguro hindi lang ako marunong sa mechanics ng pandaraya pero paano nga ba baguhin ang resulta noong may bilang na ang NAMFREL at kampo ni FPJ?

Sino-sino ba ang nagsasabing ang Garci tape nga ang puno’t dulo ng ating political instability? Ayon sa nakikita ko, marami sa kanila ay ang mga:
(1) Bobo.- Sila yung mga walang utak.
(2) Tanga.- Sila yung may mga utak pero hindi ginagamit.
(3) Tuso.- Sila yung may maitim na balak sa ating gobyerno at bayan. Maliwanag sa kanila na ang Garci tape ay walang saysay. Pero hindi mahalaga sa kanila yun. Ang mahalaga lang sa kanila ay ang propaganda value nito.
(4) Corrupt.- Sila yung mga nagtangkang pagkaperahan ang ating gobyerno sa pamamagitan ng overpriced contracts, pero naudlot ang mga plano nila dahil natalo sa pubic bidding o negotiated contract ng kapwa nilang corrupt, na balitang may kapit daw kay First Gentleman. Kaya heto sila ngayon at gustong gumanti. Kung sana’y hinabla na lang nila si First Gentleman, para kung mapatunayan ngang siya’y kasangkot dito, siya’y mahusgahan at maparusahan. Hindi yung puro haka-haka at propaganda lamang.
(5) Mandaraya.- Sila yung may personality disorder na tinatawag na projection. Hindi nila kayang tanggapin na sila mismo ang mandaraya. Kaya kailangan nilang ibaling ang katotohanan sa ibang tao para makalimutan nila ito. Kawawang GMA at siya ang pinapaboritong pagpiyestahan ng mga baliw.
(6) Oportunista.- Sila yung mga walang paninidigan. Dahil sa buong akala nila ay babagsak na ang GMA administration, bigla silang nananawagan ng resign. Nabisto tuloy ang kanilang kawalanghiyaan.
(7) Mayabang. Sila yung mga taong ayaw magpa-awat sa pagpuri sa sarili. Para sa kanila walang karapat-dapat kundi sila lamang. Wala na akong masasabi pa tungkol sa kanila.

Meron ding iba na sa simula’t sapol ay talagang ayaw na kay GMA. Ayoko nang unawain kung bakit basta tinatanggap ko na lang bilang respeto sa kanilang political beliefs. Pero maging sila mismo ay nag-aalinlangan kung sino at ano ang ipapalit kay GMA, kung sakaling magtagumpay nga ang mga gahaman. Kaya’t hindi ko sila nakikitang pumoporma sa media, at hindi rin sila sumasama sa rally.

Kaya nanghihinayang at naiinis ako tuwing maririnig ko sa TV si Fidel Ramos at Renato De Villa na magmamalinis at nananawagan ng resign. Common sense lang mga kababayan. Di ba mas madaling mandaya kung lahat ng guwardiya ay kakampi mo, kaysa kung kalahati ng guwardiya ay kalaban mo? Noong 1992 solid ang militar kay Ramos dahil siya’y militar din. Pero noong 2004 hati ang militar kay GMA at FPJ dahil malakas pa rin ang political machinery ni Erap na siyang nagpatakbo kay FPJ. Sino ngayon ang mas dapat usisahin sa pandaraya? Yung militar ng 2004 o yung militar ng 1992?

Halos dalawang (2) taon na ang nakalipas mula noong presidential election ng 2004, pero hanggang ngayon wala pa ring naghabla ng pandaraya laban kay Commissioner Garcillano at iba pang mga military general sangkot daw sa Garci tape. Maliwanag na hindi puedeng ihabla si GMA ngayon dahil sa kanyang constitutional immunity from suit. Pero maliwanag din na si Garcillano at ang iba pang mga military general ay wala nito. Millones na ang ginastos para sa walang tigil na propaganda sa TV, radyo at dyaryo, walang tigil na rally, at walang tigil na tangkang coup de etat. Bakit hindi na lang nila ilahad ang pinagmamalaking ebidensiya sa paglilitis? Sa ganung paraan, kapag napatunayan nila na may pandaraya nga noon 2004, bahala na ang taong bayan kung anong gawin kay GMA, kahit pa man may immunity siya. Pero wala yata sa kanila ang interesadong maghabla? Dahil ba wala silang tiwala sa husgado o dahil wala silang ebidensiya?

Kayo na ang maspasya mga kababayan. Ano ba talaga ang puno’t dulo ng ating political instability? Ang Garci tape o ang kasakiman ng iilan?

Dodong aka Ka Kiko
Makati City
25 March 2006

Appeal to Partido Reporma

Renato De Villa
Partido ng Demokratikong Reporma
Metro Manila, Philippines

Dear Sir:

Re: Appeal to the Reporma Party to Reconsider its Anti-Administration Stance

I am a former volunteer lawyer of (your) Partido ng Demokratikong Reporma (Reporma), who served during your 1998 presidential campaign. I worked under your former Chief Legal Officer Rene Puno whom I met when I signed up with your party. While I have lost contact with the Reporma officers and staff after the 1998 elections, I continued to monitor and seek guidance from the party’s stance on issues of national interest, especially during the days leading to the EDSA2 People’s Power revolution.

The past few weeks have (been filled with) much anxiety because of a growing political crisis that now threatens to destroy the political, social and economic reforms achieved since the EDSA1 People’s Power revolution. The forces of the legal opposition, the communist front organizations, the rebel military (groups), and the self-righteous (personalities) of the administration, now appear to have forged a tactical alliance to force the early ouster of the incumbent President Glora Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), who has been voted into office for barely a year.

(This) convergence of divergent forces antagonistic to the (broad coalition of) middle forces (comprised of the middle class, the civil society, business, moderate labor, the majority of the military and police forces) is nothing new. What is new and disturbing is the apparent slide of known pillars of the middle forces into the broad alliance of anti-administration forces. I (refer to no other than) the slide and realignment of the Reporma party.

(As your former volunteer lawyer), I find it very disheartening to see and hear the Reporma party, join the loud calls for the abrupt resignation of GMA, simply because she admitted to have telephoned a Comelec official during the elections.

Has Reporma convicted GMA of cheating on the sole basis of her wiretapped conversation? Does Reporma consider the wire-tapped conversation as conclusive evidence of electoral fraud on the part of the military and police forces? Does Reporma have other evidence of cheating that it has not yet shown to the public? Am I supposed to believe that the members of the legal opposition, and the self-righteous (personalities) of the administration, are “whiter than brand new briefs?” Do the members of the legal opposition, and the self-righteous (personalities) of the administration, have the moral right to throw the first stone? Is this the People’s Power way (of running) government, that we make the tenure of elected public officials, dependent upon the intensity of political attacks and the gravity of allegations of wrongdoing?

(C)onsidering that there is now a dark cloud of doubt as to who actually won the 2004 elections, then let there be a recount before an independent electoral commission. Considering that there are now allegations of electoral fraud by GMA, the military, the police and Comelec officials, then let there be an investigation by an independent truth commission. Considering that the election process is the cornerstone of a democracy that holds all the people together regardless of political affiliation, then let the investigation cover all parties, not only the administration but also the opposition.

If and when it is determined that GMA lost, that GMA cheated, and that GMA misused the military and police forces for electoral fraud, then that would be the time that we should all ask for her abrupt and humiliating resignation.

Meanwhile, where no trial has been commenced, no evidence presented, and no judgment rendered, then it is only fair and just for all of us to withhold (any) judgment (of wrongdoing on) GMA. I’m definitely not saying that we defend GMA at all costs. All I’m saying is that we give GMA a fair and reasonable chance to be heard. Did not the Filipino people give former President Estrada a fair and reasonable to be heard by going through the impeachment process? Why should we now deny GMA the same chance to be heard perhaps through another impeachment process, or perhaps through a recount process before an independent electoral commission, or perhaps through a fact-finding investigation before an independent truth commission?

Recalling the presidential elections of 1998, I take honor in saying that I volunteered my legal services for Reporma, immediately after your candidacy was junked by FVR and Cory. To the political pundits, that was obviously a senseless act (of swimming against the tide). I did so nonetheless because I thought (that) was the right thing to do. A few years later, during the EDSA2 People’s Power revolution, I was proven right in my choice of presidential candidate.

Today, I again have to (swim) against the (rising) tide of mob rule, black propaganda (and) intense politicking, by divergent political forces who are bound by their common desire to grab power. In my own non-scientific assessment, I believe that many among the silent majority share my stand. (This) explains why the weekly “ouster” and “resignation” rallies have so far failed to attract the critical mass required to bring down the administration.

(It) is (now) time for the political leaders to start listening to the people, and for the people to stop listening to (their) political leaders.

(In) this light, I appeal to the Reporma party, to rethink and reconsider its anti-administration stance, for whatever this appeal may be worth.

Atty. Dindo B. Donato
Makati City
09 July 2005

Interference, Intolerance and Negative Bias

From: Demosthenes B. Donato <dbdonato@deszr.com>
To: <rasheed@arabnews.com>
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 10:58 AM
Subject: (Comments on “Bayanihan Fund”)

Greetings Mr. Abou-Alsamh,

As a concerned citizen of the Philippines, I feel obligated to respond to your negative views on the Philippine government administration. Considering that the subject of your article is socio-political in nature, my response to you will depend on your socio-political affiliation. Considering further that I do not know your socio-political affiliation (i.e. nationality or social group or religion), I will provide separate alternative responses.

Firstly, if you are not a Filipino, then with due respect Mr. Abou-Alsamh, your comment is an unwarranted intrusion into our socio-political lives. Good government or the lack of it is a problem of the Filipinos. (Accordingly), only the Filipinos should address it (without involving) any outsider. (Rather than interfere with our internal affairs, you should instead) just comment on the problems of your own nationality or society or religion.

For example, if you (are actually) an Arab Muslim, considering that the domain name of your e-mail address uses the term “arabnews,” then it's best for you to just comment on the most pressing problem that concerns the Arab Muslims. This problem is that of “religious intolerance” practiced by no less than the leading Arab Muslim nation Saudi Arabia. As a Christian Catholic, I find it depressing and almost unbelievable that until (today), there (exists) a country like Saudi Arabia that makes it a criminal offense for a person to preach his (chosen) religion … within (its) territorial jurisdiction (if it were not Islam). This is a most serious human (rights) problem that threatens peace and security not only in West Asia (or the Middle East) but the entire world. (State sanctioned “religious intolerance” creates the perfect breeding ground for “religious extremism.”) If instead of criticizing the socio-political situation in the Philippines, you spend your time and effort solving the grave social problem of religious intolerance (in your own homeland), then your time and effort will be most wisely spent and most gracefully appreciated not only by the Filipinos but by (all the people of the world).

Secondly, if you (are actually) a Filipino, (then) regardless of your religious affiliation, it's time for you to stop complaining about the (problem) and start doing something about it. (Before anything else however, you must first) shed off your negative bias about anything and everything that (the) government does. (This change in perspective is necessary so that you can) see a clearer picture of the real socio-political situation.

You see Mr. Abou-Alsamh, you need to have a little more faith so that we can all move forward. Let's stop all (these) finger pointing and (endless) blaming (as what irresponsible) politicians and media practitioners (do best). All these negative chatter only serve to aggravate the problem rather than contribute to the solution...

Dindo Donato
Makati City

Sensationalism in Media

From: DINDO B. DONATO <dbdonato@info.com.ph>
To: <feedback@inquirer.com.ph>
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2002 10:32 PM
Subject: Sensationalism in Media

For: Publisher & Editors of PDI...

During the Cory years, I recognized the emergence of Inquirer as a hybrid form of print. It had the physical size of a national newspaper of general circulation, but its headlines and articles were fit for a tabloid. So in my mind I named the Inquirer as the “oversized taboid.” Kulang na lang mga bomba pictures sa frontpage at centerfold.

During the early FVR years, the sensationalism and intrigues continued. However, after the international media started calling the Philippines a “Tiger Cub,” it seemed that the local media (including the Inquirer) was shamed into rethinking its pointless albeit profitable finger-pointing. Until today I could not understand why the local media (including the Inquirer) had to take its cue from the international media when it comes to positive news about its own country.

Now in the early GMA years, it seems that the Inquirer is back to its brisk business of selling sensational and intriguing stories about the fate of its own hopeless nation.

By this short and simple e-mail, I do not dream of changing the mindset of Inquirer overnight. I expect that Inquirer will continue with its money-making ways of publishing sensational and intriguing headlines and articles, even at the expense of social order and national development. In due time however, I hope that the bulk of your limited middle class readers will learn to read between your lines, or that some responsible members of the Inquirer organization will have the courage to say (NO) to sensationalism, or that both will happen.

Dindo Donato
Makati City

Comments on "Puroy on our Mind"

From: DINDO B. DONATO <dbdonato@info.com.ph>
Saturday, December 01, 2001 2:33 AM
Subject: (Comments on “Puroy on Our Mind”)

Dear Fr. Villote:

I wish to comment on the (reflections) of one EG of London contained in your article (entitled) “Puroy on Our Mind” (and) published (in) the 27 May 2001 issue of the Sunday Inquirer Magazine. I do not know EG, and certainly I do not intend to engage him in endless and fruitless debate. I believe however that his reflections are not only disturbing, they are also subtly (disorienting). Therefore, I feel I have to make known my own comments, if only to (counter the frustration and confusion that results from) EG's reflections. My comments (in Tagalog address the vernacular reflections of EG) as follows:

1. Sa palagay ko merong malalim na pagkakamali sa pakiramdam ni EG ng “panghihinayang” sa Masa Revolt ng 1 May 2001 sa dahilan (raw) na walang mga lider “progresibo” ang grupo ni Puroy. Para sa akin, hindi mahalaga kung ang mga lider nila Puroy ay mga “rightist” o mga “progresibo” kuno. Kung ang (balakin) lang din ng mga (lider na ito) ay pag-awayin ang mahirap laban sa mayaman, maling-mali na kaagad ang batayan at layunin ng kanilang kilusan.

2. Dito pa lang sa “panghihinayang” ni EG ay (nababahala) na ako. (Pakiramdam) ko, marxista si EG sa (isip) at damdamin. Tungkol naman sa marxismo, ito ang (nais) kong sabihin:

“Marxism is a false ideology of (greed and) violence, that calls for all the poor to (rob and) kill all the rich, so that there will arise a classless society where there is material equality, because then nobody will be rich and everybody will be poor. It is not really an ideology of love for the poor. (It) is merely an ideology of hatred against the rich. That is all there is to Marxism, nothing more.”

3. Lalo pa akong nababahala sa (pananaw) ni EG kung sino at ano si Puroy. Sabi ni EG:

“Sa kumplikadong mundo ni Puroy, mahirap sabihin kung sino ang mali o tama, kung alin ang masama o mabuti... Wala kang paniniwalaan kung sino ang tama o mali. Basta't gawin mo ang kailangan mong gawin, huwag ka lang pahuli. Ganyan ang lohika ng buhay nila. Huwag nating hanapin sa kanila, gaya ng ginawa ni Joel, ang lohika ng ating 'moralidad' – ang moralidad ng mga may matuwid na buhay... Kung ikaw si Puroy, masasabi mo bang masamang mambato ng pulis, mang-agaw ng batuta, lumusob sa Malakanyang? Masasabi mo bang masama ang manakot ng reporter o magsunog ng sasakyang media na walang ginawa kundi ulit-ulitin ang insultong binabato sa tulad niyang mahirap?”

4. Agad nakikita sa salita at (isip) ni EG na napakababa ng tingin niya kay Puroy. Nawala na ang pagkatao ni Puroy dahil hindi na (raw) siya marunong kumilala ng tama o mali. Ganun lang ba ka-simple yun? Dahil lumaki si Puroy sa (iskwater), wala na (raw) siyang (kakayahang) kumilala ng tama o mali? Bakit merong iba dyan, lumaki nga na “middle class” o mayaman, pero hindi rin marunong kumilala ng tama o mali?

5. Para sa akin, nasa kalooban ng tao ang pagkilala (ng) tama o mali. Totoo na may “negative influence” ang “negative environment.” Pero hindi totoo na dahil lumaki ang tao sa “negative environment” ay tiyak wala na siyang pag-asa na kumilala ng tama o mali. Nasa tao pa rin ang huling pasya kung ano ang (nais) niyang gawin sa buhay niya. Kaya lalo (lang) akong naguluhan sa “matinding pakiusap” ni EG na sana “huwag nyong ikaila ang pagkatao (ni Puroy).” Meron yatang “inconsistency” dito. Sa pagkaintindi ko, si EG mismo ang hindi kumikilala sa pagkatao ni Puroy.

6. Hindi rin ako sang-ayon sa “comparison” ni EG kay Erap at sa nanay (na puta) ni Puroy. (Yung) nanay ni Puroy ay (nagpakahirap) para kay Puroy. Pero si Erap, noong naging Presidente siya ng bayan, (nagpakahirap) by siya para sa mga tulad ni Puroy?

7. Marami sa ating (mga) kababayan na “middle class” at mayaman, ang nagulat sa tindi at lalim ng mga hinanakit ng masa noong naganap na Masa Revolt. Pero (ako), (namulat na) noong 1998 “presidential elections” pa (lamang). Isa akong “volunteer lawyer” noon ng Partido Reporma ni De Villa. Nag “volunteer” ako (matapos nai-junk) siya ni FVR, at iniwan ni Cory. Napakalungkot at napakahirap ng kampanya (namin). Araw-araw kong sinusunduan sa “tri-media” and tindi ng batikos ng mga Presidential candidates laban kay Erap. Pero nung lumabas ang resulta, maliwanag na walang (epekto) ang mga (ito). Para sa akin, maliwanag din kung ano ang nangyari. Ayaw na ayaw nang (pakinggan ng masa ang) mga pangaral ng “middle class” at mayaman sa “tri-media.” Sawang-sawa na sila sa pambobola atbp. (Nung sapilitan) kong intindihin kung bakit ayaw nang makinig ang masa sa “middle class” at mayaman, iisa lang ang naging (kasagutan). Bakit, kailan ba nakinig (ang) “middle class” at mayaman sa masa?

8. (Sa) karanasan ng ating bayan, (merong) dalawang malalim na dahilan kung bakit (ang) masa ay (nananatiling) mahirap sa mga dekadang nakalipas. Ang una ay (sa dahilan na) ang “middle class” at mayaman ay “indifferent” o walang paki-alam sa (kapakanan) masa. Ang pangalawa ay (sa dahilan na) ang masa mismo ay (“indifferent” o walang paki-alam sa pag-asang) pagbabago.

9. Yung unang dahilan ay nakikita sa kawalan ng malawakang “involvement” ng “middle class”
at mayaman sa kapakanan ng masa. Madalas kanya-kanya ang pag-asenso at pag-unlad sa buhay. Kaya kung ikaw ay masa na walang (pambayad sa gastusing pang-edukasyon), malamang maiiwan ka sa patuloy na pag-asenso at pag-unlad ng “middle class” at mayaman...

10. Yung pangalawang dahilan ay madaling makita sa (tuwing eleksyon). Hindi lang ito sa “national elections” tulad ng 1998 “Presidential elections.” (Marami ring) mga “local elections,” na kahit wala namang nagawa yung (naka-upo), nananalo pa rin. Para bagang (matagal nang sumuko) ang masa. Wala rin daw namang mangyayari (sa) kahit sino pa ang naka-upo. Kaya (wala ring) panghihinayang sa pagbebenta ng boto.

In sum, our (deeply entrenched) social problems, will have to be addressed by all (the people) thinking, speaking and acting as (one). The key is multi-class cooperation, and not inter-class conflict.

Dindo Donato
Makati City

Comments on "Misuari's Failure"

From: DINDO B. DONATO <dbdonato@info.com.ph>
To: <rdavid@pacific.net.ph>
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 1:01 AM
Subject: (Comments on “Misuari's Failure”)

Dear Mr. David...

My comments are as follows:

1. I do not believe that the 1996 Peace Agreement can already be deemed a failure at this time. On the contrary, I believe it has … been successful … (on) the aspect that counts the most, that is the aspect of “national security.” (For) as long as the overwhelming majority of the Muslim MNLF integrees remain with the Christian dominated AFP, the 1996 Peace Agreement can … rightfully and legitimately be considered a success. (The continuing good) working relationship between the MNLF integrees and the rest of the AFP, is the best living proof that Muslim Filipinos can live peacefully with Christian Filipinos.

2. For lack of personal knowledge, I (cannot) comment on the serious allegation of (Nur) Misuari that (Norberto) Gonzales of Malacanang purportedly participated in the supposed conspiracy to force him out of power. I can say however that if indeed the overwhelming majority of the MNLF leaders and members truly want (Nur) Misuari out as their leader, Malacanang has no choice but to deal with the new collective leadership, in the interest of national security, political stability and long-term socio-economic growth. At the end of the day, we must remember that Mindanao does not belong to (Nur) Misuari alone, but rather Mindanao belongs to all its people. If the times require that the “old man” of the MNLF must now give way to the new collective leadership, (if) only to facilitate better government-MNLF cooperation, then so be it.

3. Again for lack of personal knowledge, I (cannot) comment on the purported failure of (Nur) Misuari to deliver socio-economic projects, as well as his alleged malversation of government funds. I would rather have the records speak for themselves. In this regard, I await the publication of more detailed government audit reports on the performance and integrity of (Nur) Misuari on the matter of socio-economic projects and government funds.

4. With respect however to the matters of political leadership and statesmanship, I (agree) that (Nur) Misuari indeed failed when he rallied his loyal followers to take up arms against the government, using the age-old anti-Christian propaganda lines and slogans, (and) apparently hiding his real motive of personal vengeance against the government who sided with his adversaries from within the MNLF. Perhaps (Nur) Misuari was deeply hurt and embarrassed by the turn of events within the MNLF organization. Nonetheless, no one can deny that such personal pain will have to give way to the greater interest of peace. We cannot plunge into another war simply because (Nur) Misuari feels the need to uphold his personal pride and regain his political power. (We) must remember that in a country with a functioning democratic government, such as our country, there is no legitimate justification whatsoever for armed rebellion (except perhaps in the face of widespread human rights violations and as a matter of self defense). We (need) to realize that armed rebellion is by itself a major cause of poverty. Armed rebellion must end in order for real socio-economic progress to begin. (Incidentally, this comment also applies to the other rebel groups, i.e. NPA and MILF.)

5. Regarding the ARMM experiment, I (believe) that (this) concept (of having) another level of local government vested with both executive and legislative powers for the governance of the Muslim community, is most unwise and imprudent.

Firstly, the ARMM name itself that suggests exclusive application to the Muslim community (impliedly excluding the Christian and tribal communities of Mindanao), already serves to divide further the people (concerned). The Christians and Muslims of Mindanao already know that their deep animosities against each other have divided them for centuries. There is no point to be served in dividing them further by establishing this ARMM for the Muslim areas, and maintaining another structure of regional government for the Christian and tribal areas. In the interest of long-term peace and co-existence, what we need to do is to discard all these structures which … discriminate and segregate, and instead focus on uniform structures and common socio-cultural practices (which equalize and integrate). This way, we can (promote) the development of a sense of unity and commonality among all the people involved.

Secondly, the vesting of legislative power in the ARMM laws the groundwork for (complicating) the legal system (governing) the (territory) covered. In (this) age (of) globalization, governments all over the world need to streamline their bureaucracies and simplify their legal processes in order to attract (and encourage) private sector (economic) activities. With the ARMM legislature, we are doing exactly the opposite. As we (now) see, compliance with the requirements of the (existing) national laws already burdens the private sector. We can just imagine the negative impact on economic activities if private sector has to contend with another set of regional laws, in addition to the national laws.

Thirdly, the establishment of the ARMM as a local government unit, requiring the conduct of a referendum to ascertain voter consent to its coverage, puts too much political uncertainty to the formation of a regional government body. As we now know, when voter sentiment was ascertained, only the Muslim areas voted in the affirmative, while all the Christian and tribal areas voted in the negative. Here again we have another instance of further division. Is this the formula for long-term peace and co-existence?

6. Based on my legal experience as the former general-counsel of the JPDC (John Hay Poro Point Development Corporation), the implementing arm of the BCDA (Bases Conversion Development Authority), taken together with research work done on existing regional initiatives, specifically the Davao Integrated Development Plan (covering all the cities and provinces [of] the Davao region), I believe there is a cost-effective alternative to the ARMM (that) may benefit not only the Muslim areas but also all the other Christian and tribal (community) areas in Mindanao.

The (proposed) alternative structure … is basically (patterned after) the (existing) BCDA/SBMA structure, minus the (scheme for) tax and duty free incentives. Under this alternative structure, there is no regional legislature, but only a regional executive. Accordingly, policy formulation will be a national function, while policy implementation will be a regional function. This combines the benefits of a uniform (regional) legal system on the one hand, and (a) strong regionalized hands-on (executive) on the other hand.

The cost for the establishment of the alternative government structure will be minimal because no new level of bureaucracy is created. The existing regional offices of the national executive line departments will merely be spinned-off to create the new regional administrative authority.

Considering that government experience in administering area-based development agencies have been limited to smaller areas (such as the municipalities or parts of municipalities covered by the BCDA), the prudent way to go would be to limit the size of a given region to that which is relatively smaller and therefore more manageable. The Davao region or the Socsargen region would be good examples of what would be a relatively smaller region, compared to the (larger) area comprised of the entire Western Mindanao (under) the SPCPD which formed part of the ARMM experiment.

(Incidentally, this alternative structure may also apply to all the other existing administrative regions in Luzon and the Visayas)...

Dindo Donato
Makati City