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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Squat!

The recent incident at the Laperal Compound in Makati City has again showed how quickly evolution happens.

Squatters, no matter how the law or charitable institutions would describe them, are people who occupy lands and/or existing structures without due benefit to the owner. In short, parasites.

For the longest time, these people have argued poverty over and over again. It is forgivable, say, for the first generation of squatters to reason poverty as the driver of their occupancy for that, in itself, is admission of the problem and the first step towards solving it. But for the second generation (and how thick-skinned of the first generation to even multiply without even having the resources to provide decent shelter for themselves!)to argue poverty again is blatant evidence of a hereditary disease – laziness!

I, myself, once argued poverty as the reason why I should be accepted at PUP Manila as a scholar. My family, though working, could not provide for all of us to go to private schools and thanks to FIFO (first-in first-out), as the youngest, I was the one who had the smallest budget allotted for education. But I knew I can only argue once and I have the make the most out of it.

I am still not rich. In fact, we are still renting a house for our family and I don’t even have a car. But I know I am no longer poor. And I do not abuse anyone’s kindness.

Well, the squatters aren’t really abusing the kindness of the private owners. But they are just bright enough (with the government stupid enough) to take advantage of the infamous Lina Law or RA 7279 protecting squatters from eviction or demolition without due compensation and relocation (sec 28). The nerve! Lupa ko nang ginamit ng walang bayad, ako na nga maglilinis nun, tapos babayaran ko pa ang mga squatters?!

Well, let us thank Mr Joey Lina, a former senator under the Cory Aquino administration who then went to head the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Sakit na kaya ng ulo ng DILG dati ang mga squatters na na-realize ni Mr Lina salamat sa batas nya? Or just like his president, all problems, especially those they promised to solve, but could not solve, should be blamed against Marcos, and all will be well as soon as they start to pray in front of cameras! I could not blame Mr Lina for coming up with the bill. Helping the ‘poor’ and condemning the ‘rich’ was the fad at that time. But what this law, together with other government agencies’ ineffectiveness, has done is to further train the current poor to get even poorer because the government is taking care of them. Parasites!

Or perhaps those against the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill should step in and help these ‘poor’ families (who threw bottles, stones and human feces at the police and officials) since they multiplied according to the dictates of their faith.

I believe the sudden increase in squatters is further proof of what a former professor of mine once said (which I do not believe yet, please) that we are the viral race. Put one Filipino in one place, wait for some time, and there would surely be a thriving Filipino community there. The multiplication can be due to natural reasons or immigration. In the case of squatters, it’s both. Due to lack of anything better to do, they resort to sex without proper family planning. Due to the wonderful way of life (look ma, I don’t have to pay for rent or mortgage!), they invited their friends and families who are probably much better living in the provinces than they do here, to live with them and taste the sweet life in the metropolis.

Let me close my case by saying that I do not have anything against those who were born poor for it is not their fault but I have everything against those who remain poor for they are not doing anything about it other than cry in front of cameras, beg the government for alms, and suck the blood out of our economy which in turn is fed by the sweat and blood of those, rich and poor, who pay taxes. Man should evolve with better selves generation after generation. The squatters are evolving. They are getting brighter and brighter, taking advantage of laws to protect them and their lazy habits. The sadder thing is that our laws are not evolving fast enough.

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September 21 was the day Ferdinand Marcos placed the entire country under the famous (or infamous for many) Martial Law.

Martial Law is usually declared for a short time to solve pressing issues such as revolts. September 21 is a date famous for Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines but it was also on the same day – in 1944 – when Jose P. Laurel first declared Martial Law in the country during the Japanese occupation.

Media has played a very pivotal role in creating a malicious image of Marcos’ regime during the Martial Law. Yes, you read it right, malicious. The intent of media was to destroy Marcos; the people’s belief in him, even by doing so would mean destroying the nation’s international image.

With the declaration of Martial Law, everything fell into the hands of the government – one of which was the broadcasting corporations. Did these corporations like the idea? Hell no! It meant millions of pesos lost from their own personal pockets and their fall from societal graces. So it was expected that after years of being kept from your riches that you would lash back the moment there is a chance against the person who put you there – Marcos – and not really about the hypocritical suppressed press freedom.

I was born in 1982 and begun to understand public affairs during the late 80s. I mentioned this fact to show that I do not have any first-hand experience of the height of Marcos’ administration but I base my belief on my parent and family’s account and on what I can see now.

The belief that Marcos did not ruin the Philippines but instead has made it into a world-class country in Asia.

It was during the Marcos administration that roads and bridges and highways were built. Even up to now, most of the big road developments being constructed are based on Marcos’ blue print. Gibo was right in saying that in order for our country to prosper, make sure infrastructure is in place to secure the economic needs of the people. It was Marcos who had the Light Railway Transit in Manila built – the first one in Asia. After Marcos was forced out, did the succeeding governments take care of these railways? No. LRT, before its rehabilitation, was the worst ride you can ever get into and we became Asia’s laughing stock.

Singapore and Japan boast of state-of-the-art subway systems but what did they have back when we were enjoying the LRT under Marcos? They still used rickshaws but now, we’re the ones left in the old century.

Ferdinand and Imelda were told to have edifice complex – the insatiable desire to build and build, not necessarily for the country, but for themselves. So what? Didn’t our own useless baranggay captains build basketball courts and waiting sheds and road lamp posts from tax payers’ money in order to have places to permanently place their initials on?

Marcos built more than just basketball courts. The Cultural Center of the Philippines showed the world that we have a culture worth emulating and protecting and supporting just like the ballet of Russia or the opera of Old Europe. The Lung, Kidney and Heart Centers helped many people as these institutions used to have the best equipment in Asia, if not in the world. Some argue that prices of services in these places were very steep that only the rich can afford it. If that is the case, then let us work harder to afford such benefits. No government was created to give in to peoples’ wants and needs at their whims. It is very sad that even up to now, medical services are often expensive and are not accessible to the lower brackets of the economy. But instead of depending on the government, let this be an inspiration for us to work harder and live healthier lifestyle, primarily because we could not afford to get sick.

Consequently, Marcos also built hospitals around the country to ensure the high ratio of doctors and nurses to the general public. Marcos made sure that even foreign doctors want to work in the country. Now, as soon as a Filipino obtains his medical license, he gets on a plane to work elsewhere in the world.

A good number of Marcos-era built complexes are in dilapidated conditions now. Is it their fault? It was the succeeding government’s fault to not take care of these assets. Their reason was primarily emotional and entirely illogical.

I can go on and on enumerating the many good things Marcos did and left the country with, even longer than the IIRC report! But let me comment on the never-ending accusations of media owners who were imprisoned and by some high-ranking scions of old political rivals.

Marcos bled the country dry of its fiscal resources through systematic graft and corruption. Who didn’t? Who doesn’t? Who wouldn’t?

Corruption, though shameful, is embedded in our culture. I believe no one in his right mind would run for public office, spend millions of pesos in campaigns, put himself in cancer-inducing stress just for the service of the Filipino people. Even a five-year old kid would not believe this crap. Everyone has an ulterior, financial reason – to get richer. It is only a matter of questioning the ratio of national development as to the corrupted resources.

Marcos may have been very rich through corruption but he left the foundation of a powerful nation equipped to be better and have a strong economy. He may have taken some, but he definitely returned a lot to the people. As compared to the modern icons of democracy who took everything, or did nothing, and left nothing but the rubbles of the resource-dried Philippines.

Marcos violated human rights. I was taught that your rights as a person stop as soon as it trespasses the rights of another. Martial Law was declared and it was very clear that people should obey the laws at all cost. But we Filipinos have a penchant for things which are illegal. We were given foot bridges to use in crossing the street but we still opt to gamble our lives crossing the speeding traffic below. And once apprehended by the police, we cry that it is a violation of human rights.

The Quirino hostage crisis was worsened by the fact that media stations had a field day with the scene. Let us admit it – in the minds of these so-called journalists, it did not matter if those hostages or the Filipino hostage-taker survive but what matters was who was to get the best camera angle and the freshest story as it happened. What was the result? The Philippines was put in an international shameful show of stupidity. If Noynoy ordered a news black-out, these media practitioners would cry out that is a violation of press freedom. Marcos would have ordered all news stations (if not yet government-owned) to cease coverage for the sake of national interest.

You see, no matter who sits in the throne, Filipinos, sadly, would forever complain. Filipinos would always want to blame their poverty (which is caused by their parents’ overwhelming sexual desire to multiply despite the fact that they themselves have little crumbs to survive on) on the incumbent administration without really doing something to alleviate their status.

This government, together with the old media practitioners, continues to paint Marcos as a bad picture only to make themselves look good in comparison.

I am a Filipino, though may be one of few in thought and belief, but I continue to strive harder than hard, do better than good, to show the world, more importantly, myself, that I can help the country rise up from its stumble and be the Philippines we once were.

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Mosque or No Mosque

I was inside a Mini-stop convenience store in Bustillos the day after the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. I saw it on the front page of a broad sheet while I was waiting for James to meet me up so I could accompany him for his check-up. Seeing the two towers in smoke and later on learning that the towers were completely destroyed gave me the shock.

The terrorist attack on New York and other places on the same day were allegedly done by the terrorists in the name of Islam. The good name of the religion was again painted with blood.

Several years later, people have not forgotten what happened. The event was the start of the new war of the US versus entities in the Middle East. The US has once again proven that it is the sole superpower of the current times. Now, another battle is being fought – legal and emotional ones, at that – for a mosque that is planned to be built a few blocks away from the 911 site.

The proposed building, to be named the Cordoba House, which would house a mosque and classrooms, is being developed by imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from an old factory. This plan has sparked a debate between politicians and constitutionalists and people whose families were devastated by the 911 tragedy and by those who hope for true peace.

One side of the arena says that the US Constitution, like most of the world’s, assures the people of equal rights for religious freedom on private properties. This very clause is enough for anyone to build any religious building anywhere, even beside the 911 site. On the same side, it was also argued that the building of mosque would bring people of different beliefs closer, more so that it is believed that the terrorists brought the Islamic religion to a principle not shared by the majority of Muslims. Therefore, they should not be seen as the forever antagonist against other people.

On the other side of the arena are individuals who knew or loved someone killed in the 911 tragedy. It is a painful thing to accept that the very religion which allegedly fueled the attack would build a home on a place that saw lives taken abruptly. It was like building something in the middle of a war-torn city signifying conquest. Or blatant discourtesy. They go further in saying that there are doubts as to the source of funding for the proposed establishment.

As for someone who does not personally know anyone who passed away in the tragedy, I think it is easier for me to say yes in building the mosque anywhere as it should promote the true teachings of Islam which is based on love, just like all the other major religions. But I need to be sensitive and put myself in the shoes of those who were affected that it would very hard to separate logic from emotions.

Without doubt, religion has always been a sensitive issue. This is one of the many instances when I am just glad I do not have to make the decision for them.

Nonetheless, I hope we can all live with respect, if not with full understanding, at least tolerance, of other peoples’ beliefs as long they are centered on love.

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I heard this issue before about Brazilian models invading our modeling industry. Before, you can see that we have more Filipino models, mestizos and mestizas but legally Filipinos still, in print, ramp and commercials. Nowadays, you know most of them are Brazilian-Japanese. I really do not mind, especially with Fabio Ide around, but I am a tad concerned how does this affect the livelihood and morale of Filipino models who run out of projects?

The other day, I read in The Wall Street Journal the silent animosity between China and Angola over Chinese workers. Few years ago, China started investing in countries where Western powers were reluctant to do business with. One was Angola, an African nation rich in oil and diamonds. China and Angola signed several big projects from oil exploration to railway construction. China would lend money to Angola which Angola would use to pay the Chinese companies for the projects. The loan was provided but the Chinese companies are not paid on time. Worst, some Angolans are targeting Chinese workers in Angola in violence-related incidents. It was observed that big projects, lead by Chinese companies in Angola, hire more Chinese than Angolans and the latter do not like it since they need work after a long time suffering from its own civil war.

There has also been an observation in the islands of Bermuda, Cayman and Jersey, tax havens, that there are more Filipino CPAs working there than other nationalities. Other nationalities might also feel something ill about this but there is no concrete evidence to really so.

My thoughts on this are really divided. A part of me is saying that a country should hire more of its own people as one way of helping itself. I am a Filipino so I am very sure I have both important elements – brain and brawn. If other nationalities would be hired because, at present, they are better in that particular field, than Filipinos (say, in weather forecasting), then hire them and have them teach us so we can both be the captain and crew of the ship after sometime, not after a long time.

But the other part of me is saying that this is competition. Filipinos are hired abroad over other nations because we are known for our dedication to work. Other nations should step up their games if they want to be hired like us. Angolans need to show that they can work faster and better than their Chinese counterparts and Filipino models should come out with fresh, new looks the industry and consumers would like. Every day is a contest to be better, not as compared to anyone, but as compared to who we were, yesterday.

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A so-SONA

Before anything, let me put forth that I am no fan of the Aquinos and that I consider Marcos as one of the leaders who gave true development to the Philippines. I say this so as to be clear that no matter how much I try to see the good in Noynoy and his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to appear at least a tad objective, I still fail.

So while most people were glued to their TV screens yesterday, I opted to go with my work and wait for a transcript that I can read in peace minus the sip-sip applause from his allies. And good thing I did not waste my time hearing it live for again, he is a disappointment.

He spent almost half his SONA telling people how depressing the fiscal status of the Philippine government was upon his ascension to the throne. He mentioned that people in GOCCs were paid much more than even the more burdened laborers. He said that a big chunk of the calamity fund was diverted to a lone district in Pampanga. He even went on to discuss the per diem of each director during meetings. As I read his speech, I was asking myself – am I reading his very first SONA or the latest management report of an amateur auditor? I believe even a junior audit associate can present a better, more effective report.

But what I was really asking was why he was spending almost half his speech time showing how bad the previous president has performed. Again, mudslinging. The very thing he did during the elections. “Vote for me because the others are corrupt never mind if I am really not a leader!”

Was he saying all those things to get sympathy? To send the message that in case he does not deliver on his promises he has the past administration’s wrongdoings to blame? Was he again creating division among the people?

He mentioned in his speech that we should be vigilant lest some people get back to power. Am I looking at an insecure president whose term would be plagued by ghostly coup d’etat or imaginary plots? The people would watch your every move Mr. President because when GMA was sworn into office after Erap stepped down, she was revered, as in revered, by many as the icon of truth, of transparency. And then what? She was the total opposite. What would you be after six years Mr. President? A puppet of your vice-presidential partner who lost and would probably use your ‘friendship’ to review null votes and place him as your second-in-command? Or a president who always wants the people’s sympathy so critics would stay back and love your term like some telenovela your sister is fond of doing?

Another question I asked was ‘where were you Mr. President when all these alleged anomalies were made?’ ‘Have you done anything to curb the then continuous ‘reign of corruption’ at least in the GOCCs? Or it took you this long to realize these?

He mentioned steps to alleviate the poor status of the country but unlike his allegations, his plans lacked the quantitative information we can use to objectively gauge his performance until his next SONA.

He mentioned filing of cases against individuals but fell short in mentioning when can we expect justice to be served? Or would their cases be like that of his father who still has to see the light of justice, or is it really the case?

I can go on forever criticizing every single point he made (I was not one of PUP’s grand debater-speakers for nothing) but allow me to cite the Truth Commission as my last argument. As Fidel Ramos was quoted in saying ‘puro na lang ba tayo imbestigasyon?’

Cory did not deliver true progress because she was stuck with the past. She took the whole nation in that limbo for the investigation on Marcos. I hope Noynoy would not prove to be an apple falling not far from the tree.

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This list is very timely as today, the country witnesses the inauguration of its 15th President, Noynoy Aquino. Though I did not vote for him, nor will I ever do, he is the President chosen by the majority, a mandate by the Constitution to which I pledged my allegiance to. For that, he has my support as far as my desire to be a responsible and productive Filipino citizen.

However, it does not mean that I would love him. Or even like him. For that, let me share with you why.

1. The only reason he was chosen to be the Presidential candidate of his party, and probably the only reason why he won the Presidency, was because Cory Aquino died. If Cory did not pass away, their party would not even bother to consider Noynoy even for Vice-president. They themselves know his capacity. Or the lack of it.
2. He is a member of the Cojuangco family and their family is the majority owner of Hacienda Luisita, a vast piece of land that was magically exempted from the Agrarian Reform Program. Though he does not have full control over the property, if he indeed wants change as he promised, change that would beneficial for the most common Filipinos, then he should have had lobbied at least that the Hacienda be given to its farmers. He failed to do that. Now, he has the role of changing the country. Wouldn’t it be harder for him?
3. He became an official in Tarlac and a senator before. He has no notable role in achieving anything for the country. He may have co-authored some bills, but this are not his, as these bills just need co-authors before they can heard by the Senate. He may not have been involved in any corruption, but apparently, he is also not involved in any significant projects.
4. He is the son of a former President. Their family had their chance of serving the country. I think his position now shows political dynasty as its freshest example. Besides, Cory may have inspired the world for democracy, but her presidency also was lacking in true workable reforms.
5. His program concentrates on revenge. On ensuring that Gloria goes to jail. In short, his perspective is backward. Instead of forward. Instead of focusing on what should be done tomorrow, he focuses on what should have been done yesterday. Just like his mother, he lingers on the past and relishes on whatever bad has happened. Our country will once again relive the Gloria days because he will always insist on us to remember, not to urge us to move ahead. (I am not saying Gloria should be left alone, but let us ensure Gloria would not take the spotlight anymore).
6. Among the siblings, he has been the most active in politics. He has had connections in the government. How come the mystery on who assassinated Ninoy then has not yet been resolved? If one of your own family’s biggest problem has yet to be solved after decades of investigation, how can you solve the issue of corruption that has been present for centuries? Di malinis ang bakuran mo, and yet target mong linisin ang village park. Ambitious!
7. At the start of the campaign, they told media, especially Kris, that they would work hard together so they may no longer have to accept contributions from dubious individuals. I did not believe that. Now that the campaign expense report was published, Tonyboy Cojuangco was the biggest donor with P100 million. Now, Tonyboy has been asked by the PCGG to return billions worth of PLDT dividends as alleged part of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth. I thought Noynoy’s campaign was untarnished by corruption? Well, P100 million is no joke. How can he repay Tonyboy? Like pay it forward to the country na lang? Yeah, right. And my name is really Scott Andrada.
8. Before he even won the election, he was very vocal about not recognizing Chief Justice Renato Corona. Given that Justice Corona was appointed as one of the defense walls of Gloria, he is still the Supreme Court Justice. Noynoy’s statements during the election, and until now, seem to be taken out of Kris’ movies. Pang showbiz. Aside from the fact that he is creating division, instead of promoting unity to achieve the common goals.
9. He told the country during his campaign that the near-empty government coffers that he is about to inherit can be replenished not by increasing taxes but curbing corruption. Ideally, yes, it is possible. But realistically, in six years? I would rather believe Hogwarts exists beside PUP in Sta Mesa than this. Cory was not successful in getting all the alleged Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth. Now he is targeting the Gloria group. With billions in deficit, with so many projects to deliver, with almost zero possibility of getting any from the alleged corrupt officials, sana sinabi mo na lang na magtataas ng taxes pero tataas rin naman ang sahod dahil gaganda ang economy. Matatalino naman ang mga Filipino, madaling maintindihan yan.
10. The last reason is highly personal. Noynoy is too close to the Catholic Church. Too close for comfort. The Catholic Church, just like some sectors, considers homosexuality as sin. I fear that with Noynoy’s administration, the professional opportunities for gays would decrease. Would he be able to see logic behind the oftentimes blinding veil of faith? I am crossing my fingers. Bakit ba kasi sya inindorse ng Ladlad? Di man lang ako naconsult!

As the program in Quirino Grandstand ended, here I am, still working, for myself, my family and my country. After all, kahit sinong iupo mo dyan sa Malacanang, kung hindi tayo talaga magsisipag at magkakaroon ng disiplina, walang mangyayari sa atin.

To Noynoy, goodluck. You need a lot of this. As for me, eye cream. I need a lot of this.

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