READ FULL MEDIA
EDITORIALS & OPINIONS HERE:
EDITORIAL - Commuters deserve better
JUNE 1, 2015
(PHILSTAR) May 27, 2015 - 12:00am - Over the weekend
Malacañang apologized for the latest disruption in the overhead railway
service. On Saturday, two coaches of the Light Rail Transit line 1 collided
at the Monumento station in Caloocan City.
Fortunately, only one person suffered minor injuries – the
operator of the LRT-1 train that rear-ended the other.
So far, the numerous glitches that have hit the LRT and
Metro Rail Transit have not resulted in serious injuries or death. But
authorities should not wait for grievous consequences before improving the
In August last year, an MRT-3 train that was being pushed
for repairs by another train lost power, rammed a concrete barrier at the
Pasay City terminal, then jumped off the tracks before careening to a halt
at the busy intersection of EDSA and Taft Avenue, damaging several motor
vehicles and causing a massive traffic gridlock.
At least 36 passengers were taken to hospitals for
injuries, but at least everyone survived.
The consequences could be worse next time – and there is likely to be a
next time, since train services have been disrupted many times since then.
Just a month after the train collision, the doors of a northbound MRT-3
train suddenly opened between the Taft and Magallanes stations.
Hours later, the doors of another train also slid open
between Boni and Guadalupe stations. In both cases, the trains automatically
stopped. Fortunately, no passenger fell off the train during the sudden door
President Aquino should demand better performance from
those in charge of a mass transportation service whose frequent breakdowns
have become the symbol of inefficiency in his government.
Worse, the disappointing MRT service is being linked to
corruption allegations that the administration looks uninterested in
pursuing. Having made the fight against graft a cornerstone of his
governance, the President should not hesitate to go after erring officials
even if they belong to his administration.
He must also take a serious look at the management of a
vital mass transportation facility. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
President Aquino should reassure his “bosses” that they deserve better
Only 6 days left to enact BBL GOTCHA By
Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 27, 2015 - 12:00am
By Jarius Bondoc
This year’s Independence Day rites will be held in the Visayas for the
first time. The President will lead the 117th celebration on June 12 in
Santa Barbara, Iloilo, where the Filipino flag was first raised in the
On Nov. 17, 1898, was inaugurated the Revolutionary government in the
Visayas, led by Martin Delgado. In the town stands a 255-year-old church
used in the Visayans’ 1898 Declaration of Independence from Spanish rule.
The commemoration will be held there.
Educator Delgado was teniente mayor (vice mayor) and later capitan
municipal (town mayor) at the time of the Revolution. A captain of the
cuerpo voluntarios (native volunteers) to the Spanish army, he led a mass
defection to the Katipunan, and besieged the casa tribunal (town hall) on
Oct. 28, 1898. President Emilio Aguinaldo hailed his deed and made him
general. He sent a saber and the flag, hoisted at the church on the day
Delgado hosted a conference of other Visayan revolucionarios.
Not only the Santa Barbara church is being spruced up for the events. Old
houses also are being prepared there and in Iloilo City, the capital, for
the visits of national officials, foreign diplomats, and balikbayan. At the
original provincial capitol will be held the traditional vin d’honneur.
June will be occasion to showcase the province’s strides. There’s the
new ten-lane circumferential highway, including for bicycles. Along the old
airport runway rose an Iloilo Convention Center, initially marred by
accusations of overprice which the Ombudsman quashed last week. Nearby is
being built 13 condo and commercial buildings by Megaworld, and nine by
The once trash-choked river in Iloilo City has been cleaned up,
the rich squatters along the banks ejected. These include an oil-polluting baradero (ship repair yard), a beer hall of a councilor, and a piggery of a
judge. In their stead were built promenades exclusively for pedestrians. In
Santa Barbara is an airport of international standards, in many respects
better than the country’s main gateway in Manila.
Iloilo’s big change came when for the first time its local officials
united, under Senate President Franklin Drilon. Among them are Gov. Arthur
Defensor, Mayors Jed Patrick Mabilog (Iloilo) and Dennis Superficial (Santa
Barbara), and Reps. Jerry Treñas and Arcadio Gorriceta. With them are
prominent citizens in the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, led by
ex-tourism secretary Narzalina Lim.
* * *
Time is running out on Congress to pass a Bangsamoro Basic Law. Its
deadline, by Malacañang’s wish, is June 11, when it recesses till July 27th.
With lawmakers in session only Mondays to Wednesdays, for talks the rest of
the week with constituents, they have only six days from today, May 27th.
Within that time, Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker
Feliciano Belmonte must get their chambers to craft respective versions in
plenary, merge these in bicameral conference, then ratify the final BBL.
The House ad hoc body of Rep. Rufus Rodriguez reported out its BBL last
Wednesday, May 20th, after two weeks of final debates. It referred the draft
Monday the 25th to two standing committees – on ways and means and on
appropriations – due to provisions on taxation and automatic budget
allocations. Only on Monday, June 1st, can the House begin to hear it thrice
Six days won’t suffice. Congress rules prescribe weeklong intervals
between any bill’s first, second, and third readings. So Rodriguez is asking
President Noynoy Aquino to call for a special session to pass the BBL
instead of adjourning.
Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, who voted “yes with reservations” to the BBL at the
committee, doubts the outcome of such extended session. An ex-senator, he
knows only too well how lawmakers think. They’ll resent being pulled out of
vacations and long-planned foreign travels, he says. They might take it out
on the BBL; vote “no” to avert any more bi-cam and ratification.
The Senate calendar is iffier. Sen. Bongbong Marcos had planned his
committee on local governments to report out a BBL by last May 25. Now he
says he still needs to input the findings of unconstitutionalities by Sen.
Miriam Defensor Santiago’s committee on revision of laws.
* * *
Rodriguez says his committee has cured the BBL of eight such infirmities.
Exclusive Commissions on Audit, Elections, Civil Service, and Human Rights,
and Ombudsman for the Bangsamoro either have been deleted or regionalized.
Erased too is the President’s clearing of military operations with the
sub-state’s chief minister (CM).
The police still shall be under the
National Police Commission and director-general, not the CM. In case a barangay or district opts to join the Bangsamoro, not only its citizens but
the whole town or city will vote in plebiscite.
Seven other major revisions were made, Rodriguez adds. Nixed was the
selection by the Bangsamoro parliament of a “wali” (titular head). The
sub-state must uphold the rights of “Lumad” (indigenous tribes) to ancestral
domain, reserved seats in parliament, and income shares from
Such mining is subject to national laws. The
sub-state may not contract loans directly with foreign governments. All
mentions of Bangsamoro “territory” were removed. The entity shall be called
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. Its Preamble was edited to conform to that of
the Philippine Constitution.
* * *
P-Noy’s peace panel has expressed satisfaction with Rodriguez’s output.
The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with which P-Noy’s team
drafted the BBL, “officially is silent,” he says.
A prominent newswoman confides why. Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF chief
negotiator, is incensed by the first two of seven changes. The MILF had
reserved the wali post for chairman Ebrahim Murad, another source says. Too,
assuming it wins against the datu (clan chiefs) and old politicos in
parliamentary elections, the MILF would want full control of mineral
resources, with no say from mountain tribesmen.
* * *
One contentious issue remains: will the MILF disarm? No more shooting is
what the Bangsamoro political settlement aims for. Under the 2012 peace
pact, the separatists must give up 70 percent of their arms if the BBL
passes in plebiscite sometime Sept.-Oct. By parliamentary polls in May 2016,
they’d still have 30 percent, but must disarm if they win the majority.
All Filipinos can hang on to is trust. That priceless commodity was
broken by the Mamasapano massacre of Jan. 25. The MILF has not acted to
regain it by complying with three congressional suggestions: return all the
SAF-44’s firearms and personal effects, help get terrorist Abdul Basit Usman
(it was his bodyguards who did him in, for the $1-million reward), and turn
in the massacrers.
An earthquake is something we should all fear
INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 27, 2015
By Tony Katigbak
At this point I am already getting so tired of all the political news. As
I am sure most everyone else is too. It’s all about the bickering and the
accusations and news about political alliances and turncoats.
especially true now that election season is creeping upon us and it will
only continue to get worse as the months pass. All people seem to be talking
about is who will run, who won’t run, who is running with whom, which party
has the upper hand, and of course, the never-ending SWS and Pulse Asia
surveys which aren’t even always accurate.
Sure, this is important to the country and the information should be
important to voters, as there is nothing more dangerous than a voter who is
uninformed. However, I personally believe that it’s all the same information
being recycled over and over again depending on who is dishing it out.
not like we are getting new news or any fact and evidence-based news for
that matter. It’s the same mud-slinging with no resolution and that is not
going to make us better voters, it’s just going to do the job it was
intended for – make the voters confused and not know what is real from what
Personally, I think there is still a bit of time to sift through the
election mess and hopefully come up with a suitable candidate to really make
some solid changes in the country.
That will take time. In the meantime,
alongside thinking about who our next leaders will be, I think it’s also
important for us to make sure that we are around to see this next phase in
Philippine politics. A subject that I think deserves our attention just as
much is our safety and disaster preparedness in case a devastating
earthquake ever hits Manila.
I’ve written in columns in the past about how important it is to be safe
rather than sorry, and I’m wondering if enough changes have been made to
make our country more prepared to face Mother Nature’s wrath. We all saw how
horribly unprepared we were when super typhoon Yolanda hit and we are still
dealing with the rebuilding from that tragedy.
These types of natural
catastrophic events can be seen as great equalizers, and when Yolanda came
to the country with her devastating power, everyone was affected, young and
old, rich and poor. Granted, the rich were probably able to get back on
their feet faster than others, it still shows that no amount of money can
really protect you from nature when it’s time to pay the piper.
Having said all that, it is really important for us to always be as
prepared as possible for the next “big one.” I have to admit we’ve been
doing a little better when it comes to storms. We seem to get the warning
earlier and precautions are taken in advance.
Even when the worst inevitably
does not pass, we are at least more prepared just in case. I think this is
something that should apply to every natural disaster and not just typhoons.
We all still remember how a big earthquake demolished Baguio City in July
of 1990. It was the strongest quake to hit the Philippines with a 7.9
magnitude on the Richter scale in 45 seconds, killing an estimated 1,600+
people and causing damages worth more than P15 billion back in the ‘90s.
one ever forgot that and though we have had a few quakes since, a horrible
7.2 hit Bohol and Cebu, but nothing as high as Baguio. I still remember the
Hyatt Terraces Hotel crumbled like a deck of cards crushing so many in the
rubble. I never want to see that happen again.
It’s natural that we think about our own earthquake preparedness these
days, on the heels of the tragedy in Nepal. The country was hit by not one
but two massive 7 and above magnitude quakes and was devastated. My heart
goes out to the people who are still trying to piece back their lives and
looked for loved ones in what remains. Their lives will never be the same
again. I really pray for the strength they will need to rise from the rubble
It’s exceptionally scary for us because we have seen what could happen if
a strong earthquake were to hit Metro Manila. We could literally see Manila
get torn in two. Not to mention the infrastructure damage that would occur
and the horrible death toll (last prediction was in the 30,000s at least).
We’ve been known to scrimp on costs when it comes to infrastructure
durability and safety and it would not surprise me in the least if so many
of our high-rises, buildings, malls, and more were not earthquake safe or
build to code. What would happen to them – and all of us – should a big one
hit the city?
Now I am not trying to be a doomsday prophet or anything like that. I
don’t want to scare anyone for the sake of scaring. I just think it is
important to be aware of what could happen so that we are able to prepare
the best we can. I gladly welcome the Philippine Institute of Volcanology
and Seismology (Phivolcs) detailed study about the West Valley Fault Line
that was recently made public.
It outlines the area that the fault line
snakes through and we can clearly see which areas would be most affected by
a quake — which is basically all of Metro Manila. The fault line is littered
with condominium buildings, schools, offices, malls, and so many of the
staples of daily life. What would happen to these and surrounding structures
if a magnitude 7 or above were to hit?
Senator Angara along with Phivolcs has renewed his calls to make
earthquake preparedness mandatory and to put a plan in place should we have
a massive hit. According to Phivolcs the West Valley Fault Line is “ripe”
for activity and a massive quake could happen in our lifetime.
most fault lines experience activity every 400-600 years and at this point
the West Valley Fault has been 357 years since the last tectonic activity.
Senator Angara is calling on everyone to put a plan in place should an
earthquake hit and wants to make sure there are enough resources should this
tragedy happen including hospitals, disaster management centers, passable
roads, broadcast media, fire and ambulance services, and telecommunications
This is all very important and should be done as soon as possible. Even
though we can’t predict when the fault line will throw a tantrum it’s always
better to be prepared way in advance than regret it later on. If what they
say is true that Metro Manila could be torn in two, we have to have a
contingency on what to do should that happen.
We have to make sure there is
protocol in place so we aren’t running around like chickens with our heads
cut off. I really hope that due to recent events we will give this the
importance it deserves.
After all, the scariest part in all of this is that there is truly no way
to predict if and when a massive earthquake will hit. As the research shows,
it can happen any time from 400-600 years, which means that a devastating
quake could hit any time in the next 40-240 years!
That’s a lot of time to
be on our toes and of course, we can’t spend our lives in fear.
There is also no way of getting early warning of an earthquake. It just
happens. So the best things we can do is conceptualize and implement the
plan now so that it is ready, prepare as much as we can, be informed, and
leave the rest to prayer.
Unfinished business SEARCH FOR TRUTH
By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 26,
2015 - 12:00am
By Ernesto M. Maceda
After five years, there’s plenty of
unfinished business by the Aquino administration. President
Aquino will be leaving many unresolved issues and problems
1. More than 20 public-private partnership
(PPP) projects have not been started.
2. The schoolroom shortage has not been
solved. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
completed only 49% of the classroom requirements of
Department of Education (DepEd) in 2014. DPWH documents
showed that only 7,062 of the 14,000 classroom requirements
have been constructed. In Metro Manila, only 20% of 1,221
classrooms have been completed.
3. Rice self-sufficiency has not been
achieved. The National Food Authority (NFA) council has just
approved the importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice.
Previous importations have been overpriced by at least $50
per metric ton.
4. The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) service
has deteriorated. The two trains of the Light Rail Transit (LRT)
had a collision last week.
5. The train service to Bicol has not been
resumed. The Philippine National Railways (PNR) service to
Calamba has been suspended after derailment.
6. The traffic situation in Metro Manila
has not been improved.
7. There’s continuing congestion at the
Matnog, Sorsogon port.
8. The construction of a second runway at
the airport has not been started.
9. The computerization of the Bureau of
Customs (BOC) has not been finished. Smuggling is still
10.The illegal drug problem has not been solved or
11. The shortage of license plates and
stickers and driver’s license cards is still a problem at
the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
12. The power problem in Mindanao is
13. 50% of barangays have no running
14. The territorial dispute with China in
the West Philippine Sea.
15. The New People’s Army (NPA)
Will the new elected president have what
it takes to meet the challenges? This country needs new
experienced leaders of different molds, backbone, and
Police expressed concern over the
continuing rise of extra-judicial killings, which may worsen
during the run-up to the 2016 elections.
Dagum, Calbayog Barangay Chairman Rio
Lebario, 45, and Barangay Councilor Dionisio Lungsod, 55,
were shot dead inside their barangay hall.
A few days earlier, Barangay Chairman
Edgar Dormiendo Belleza, 35, of Carayman, Calbayog City was
Police declared the killings in Samar had
something to do with personal grudges among politicians and
Belleza belonged to the camp of Samar
Governor Sharie Ann Tan while Lebario and Lungsod belonged
to the camp of Tan’s political rival, Calbayog Mayor Ronald
Deadset on running
Speaking in New Lucena, Iloilo, the Vice
President reiterated anew that he would not back out from
the presidential race in 2016.
Welcoming him were Iloilo Rep. Hernan
Brion (4th District), Board Member June Mondejar, Mayor
Liecel Mondejar-Seville, and Mayor Peter Paul Lopez and
VP Binay was accompanied by Valenzuela
Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian and Parañaque Rep. Gustavo
Binay has bounced back in the surveys with
36%. Binay said he has formed a search committee to
recommend a running mate for him.
Binay stressed that competence and
executive experience would be the main issue in next year’s
He challenged the Anti-Money Laundering
Council (AMLC) to look into the bank accounts of Budget
Secretary Florencio Abad and Senate President Franklin
Binay said he acquired his assets through
“I was a practicing lawyer. I have been
good in saving money. I also did teaching and my wife is a
practicing doctor of medicine,” he said.
Binay said his wife, Dr. Elenita Binay,
also has an orchid farm business and also a piggery.
No Senate approval by June
The last hearing of the Senate committee
on local governments, chaired by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,
is scheduled on June 3. After that, there will be only three
session days before the June 11 adjournment.
With extensive plenary debates and
amendments expected, expect at least ten days of debate.
Then, there will be long debates in the
conference committee as the Senate version will be very
different from the approved House version.
Senator Marcos stressed that the Senate is
independent and would not railroad the proposed Bangsamoro
Basic Law (BBL) as they did in the House.
Senator Francis Escudero said it’s
impossible that the President would be able to sign the BBL
before his State of the Nation Address (SONA). He further
said that it is impossible because even if Congress would be
able to pass the BBL on June 11, it’s certain that the
Senate and House will have very different versions. “There
would be long and hot debate in the conference committee,”
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago is set to
remove the ten provisions considered constitutionally unfair
retained by the House of the Representatives.
So far eight senators have signed the
Santiago committee report: Juan Edgardo Angara, Ferdinand
Marcos Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Aquilino Pimentel III, Vicente
Sotto, Cynthia Villar, Ralph Recto, and Lito Lapid.
Whatever final version of the BBL is
produced would be questioned in the Supreme Court.
Forty out of 170 dormitories in Manila
have been found non-compliant with fire safety rules by the
Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
approved tuition hike for 313 private colleges and
universities nationwide. Senator Santiago, co-author of the
Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary
Education (Unifast) bill, will summon officials of the CHED
to explain the approved tuition hike.
Government is importing an additional
250,000 to 500,000 metric tons of rice. In addition to
500,000 MT earlier imported.
Mariano Marcos State University in Batac,
Ilocos Norte has opened a college of medicine.
The death of a republic
FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 24,
2015 - 12:00am
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
In September 2008 Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, then MILF chairman, gave me a
copy of the book “We must win the Struggle” written by Shaheed Salamat
Hashim, the founder of the MILF, with a personal dedication, “Best wishes
and highest regard.”
In his Foreword to Salamat Hashim’s book, Ebrahim quoted Nur Misuari as
saying the MNLF considered Hashim’s martyrdom as “a great loss” and “the
MNLF even officially proclaimed him a great Bangsamoro national hero whose
vision for an independent Bangsamoro shall forever remain alive in the
hearts of the present and future generations.”
Ebrahim added, “The entire MILF leadership and its constituency are
unanimous in declaring that Shaheed Salamat’s oral and written literatures
are living treasures – a national heritage and patrimony – of the Bangsamoro
people and their struggle. He had already planted firmly the seeds of Jihad
in the hearts and minds of the Bangsamoro Youth and People.”
It is worth noting that as far back as June 2007 in his Foreword to the
book “The Long Road to Peace” written by Salah Jubair alias Mohagher Iqbal,
Sec. Silvestre Afable Jr., chairman of the Government Peace Panel, wrote,
“The most formidable task of the Philippine Government is to temper the
legal and political reflexes that deny the existence of ‘shared
sovereignties’ or ‘nations within nations’ which have been long accepted in
the realm of conflict resolution.”
What Afable omitted to say is the concept of nations within nations would
require amending the 1987 Constitution.
Before Salamat Hashim passed away, I had the chance to talk to him. I
found him to be a true revolutionary who insisted on an independent
Bangsamoro nation. He was confident his vision would be realized by the Moro
groups. “It will take time, even by stages, but ultimately it will happen,”
he told me.
“And the territorial extent of that Bangsamoro nation?” I asked. He
didn’t answer but merely smiled.
As Bayanko said before, it supports a Bangsamoro state but within a new
Constitution based on a parliamentary federal system where no federal state
within the union can break out unilaterally without the consent by
plebiscite of the Filipino people. Its creation by operation of law is no
guarantee it cannot break out of the Republic. Just as the law limits the
vote to ratify it to the people in the territory, so can the people in the
territory vote at some future date to secede from the union.
The best example is the Act of Union of 1707 that united the parliaments
of Scotland and England. Britain has no written constitution. The Union was
by operation of law.
In the recent General Election of May 2015 the Scottish Nationalist Party
(SNP) that is in favor of independence won 56 of Scotland’s 59
constituencies and today 69 percent of Scots, according to one poll, believe
independence to be inevitable.
If the UK votes to come out of the European Union, which the Scots
oppose, an independence referendum is likely. The 1707 Act of Union will
then be abrogated by the simple majority vote of the Scots in that
By contrast, when Arturo Mas, president of the Generalitat of Catalonia,
wanted a referendum by Catalans to secede from the Spanish State, the
Spanish prime-minister Mariano Rajoy reminded him such a referendum was
unconstitutional and therefore could not be held under the terms of the
The MILF-proposed BBL reads like the constitution or basic law of an
independent nation, which is not surprising under the concept of a nation
within a nation. However, it runs afoul of the 1987 Constitution which is
that of a unitary state.
The only way to reconcile its provisions is to
amend the present Constitution. Now, do we fit the provisions of the BBL to
a new Constitution or do we, as the Spaniards have done, fit a Bangsamoro
federal state within the guidelines of a new Constitution applicable to
other states joining the union? This is the debate Congress should have.
The other question is will the MILF accept a limited sovereignty of an
amended BBL? I doubt it. To believe the Moros will give up their dream of an
independent nation is like living in fantasy land. The Jihadists won’t stop
until they have attained their ultimate goal. Here both the MILF and MNLF
are in complete agreement, as Murad Ebrahim implied in his Foreword to
Hashim’s book. They may quarrel among themselves over control, but Salamat
Hashim is their national hero, his vision is their vision.
The latest development is the ad hoc panel of the House of
Representatives approved a last minute insertion to the BBL giving 10 other
contiguous provinces the option anytime to be part of the Bangsamoro state
upon filing of a petition of at least 10% of the registered voters of the
interested LGU or geographical area and whose inclusion shall be effective
when approved by a majority of votes in a plebiscite. House Minority Leader
Ronald Zamora warned, “This is a very dangerous provision.”
In effect, the Bangsamoro state could also end up having Zamboanga del
Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, South Cotabato,
Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Sur, and Palawan in
addition to its territory.
When the House panel rejected his proposal to delete the BBL security
provisions giving the MILF control of the armed forces, Muntinlupa Rep.
Rodolfo Biazon sighed, “God save this country in the future.”
With the House approval secured, the president only needs two or three
votes to obtain a majority in the Senate. That should not be difficult to
buy given the mercenary attitude of many senators. If a constitutional
question is raised, it will then have to hurdle the Supreme Court that may
dismiss it as a political question.
Why the haste?
Two reasons. The first is tied to the 2016 elections. The LP needs to win
in Mindanao where 62% oppose the BBL. An armed MILF can be very persuasive
towards voters. The second is money. Approval of the BBL will unleash P528
billion in block grants over the next five years. The LP needs to win the
election to ensure payment to the MILF. It could be the biggest scam in
Where will that leave the Philippines?
Eventually an independent Bangsamoro nation composed of most of Mindanao,
Zamboanga and Palawan, an area under-populated, rich in agriculture and
mineral resources, that will survive better than an overpopulated Luzon and
Such a nation, with natural affinities to Malaysia and a similar form of
government, is likely to ally itself with the Malaysian Federation which had
been funding and arming it in the past.
President Aquino has opened a Pandora’s box. The story won’t end there.
EDITORIAL - Dangerous short cuts
(The Philippine Star) | Updated May 28, 2015 - 12:00am
There are Filipinos who like Dirty Harry types. Individuals with a known
penchant for taking short cuts to justice are elected to public office not
despite such record but precisely because of it. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a
former policeman who has built a dynasty in Davao City, is unapologetic
about his human rights record, and recently admitted being behind the death
squads in his turf many years ago.
New York-based Human Rights Watch counts about 1,000 killings attributed
to Davao’s vigilante groups since the 1990s. A probe is reportedly underway
in connection with Duterte’s possible involvement in killings in the city in
2009 attributed to the death squads. Duterte’s reaction: So sue me. His
city, he said, is one of the safest in the world.
Davao City may not be safe for criminals, but neither is it safe for
left-wing activists as well as the impoverished and homeless. Rights groups
say the death squads, in an apparent effort to rid the city of pickpockets
and other petty criminals, also target those whose biggest problem is
poverty including street children.
Short cuts to law enforcement enjoy support in a country with a weak
criminal justice system, where crooks are rarely caught and litigation can
take a lifetime. Many Filipinos no longer bother to report to police the
snatching of jewelry or being mugged for a mobile phone, or losing aluminum
ladders to burglars. In Duterte’s city, the impression is that no crime is
too petty to be ignored by police, which is surely one of the reasons for
his enduring popularity.
Short cuts, however, are prone to abuse and make for lazy law
enforcement. Extrajudicial methods of fighting crime have no place in a free
society. The answer to criminality, whether petty or serious, is not to kill
offenders, as Duterte has openly endorsed, but to improve law enforcement
and the administration of justice. People who support extrajudicial killings
and other short cuts to justice will regret it only when someone dear to
them is wrongly accused of a crime and is executed.
Leadership: Mar Roxas’ demeanor would disappoint Machiavelli.
FIRST PERSON By Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 28, 2015 -
By Alex Magno
He drifts with the tide rather than command the waves. He waits rather
than seizes the day. He would rather that power falls onto his lap, an
inheritance rather than a trophy.
Last Tuesday, he finally addressed the matter of a presidential run–
although only to thank President Aquino for mentioning he was at the “top”
of his list of possible endorsees. He could have seized the moment to
declare, although that might have been completely out of character.
If Roxas’ ratings in the voter preference surveys are unimpressive, it is
likely because voters sense he is incapable of leadership. He does not shape
outcomes. He waits for them to happen.
Roxas seems to treat the presidency as a birthright – not as the Holy
Grail. He sees to be enamored with the idea of leading this country. But he
does not crave for it. He seems unwilling to work for it.
A friend who was Mar’s colleague in a previous Cabinet described the man
as indolent. He does not innovate. He does not take the initiative. He waits
to be instructed. He role-plays.
I have interviewed cab drivers and other ordinary voters. When they say
they will not vote for Roxas, I interrogate them extensively. None could
clearly say why they fail to be attracted by an otherwise pervasive,
extremely visible political personality.
This is the irony Mar must resolve as soon as possible. He has no problem
with name recall. His namesake, the former president, is in all our peso
bills. But he has a serious problem converting name recall to voter support.
I suspect this is a problem caused by a certain inability on the part of
Mar to project a real person. It is an inability aggravated by Mar’s
previous public relations efforts. He has constantly been projected as
something he is not: a tricycle driver, a wet market character, and all
similar incarnations totally removed from the man’s real circumstances.
Mar’s handlers, in trying to project him as a man of the masses, succeeded
only in creating a hologram the people distrust.
It does not help that Mar insists on speaking in Tagalog. It is clear to
the native speaker the man thinks in English and wrestles with impromptu
translation. He misuses words – such as when he once repeatedly said “nasa
hawak,” a transliteration of “in the hands of.”
Last Tuesday, speaking of Aquino’s quasi-endorsement, he used the word
“tugon” as translation of “mention.” The correct word was “banggit” or even
His language is fake. Voters think the man is fake as well.
He has tried too hard to sound like the man on the street. The effort has
It is obvious he uses the language only for making public pronouncements,
not for daily survival.
No one has accused Mar Roxas of decisiveness. Unfortunately for him, this
is the virtue voters want at this time, a reaction to the slapstick
leadership Aquino provided the nation.
This is the reason Rodrigo Duterte has created excitement among our
voters. We may disagree with his methods, but no one has yet accused Duterte
of indecision. The mayor of Davao is unflappable – and also unstoppable when
he wants something done.
Although he repeatedly denies seeking the presidency, Duterte has shot up
in the rankings. That is a resounding commentary on the wishy-washy
leadership Aquino has thus far provided us.
It might be premature to close the books on Mar Roxas’ uninspired
political quest. Filipino politics retains its ability to pull surprises –
although a Roxas presidency might be the surprise of all surprises.
If that political quest unravels, however, many analysts will point to
the days following the Mamasapano massacre as the key point that might have
saved, or doomed, Roxas’ political career.
Mar was left out of the loop, kept in the dark, while this ill-fated
operation was being hatched. Machiavelli might have chosen this as the
moment to resign from the post, establish some distance from the bungling
Aquino presidency to avoid the backlash and set up the political movement
that would propel him to the highest office.
But Mar is no Machiavelli.
He took the slight, stood by his disloyal master, waited for the
anointment simply by being obsequious.
Mar has failed to make himself inevitable. He did not build the political
movement that might propel him independent of what could, in the end, be a
floundering presidency whose anointment is a kiss of death. He did not carve
out a clear place in the sun for himself, content to present himself merely
as a continuation of the same.
Uninspired, he has become uninspiring. He did not build himself up as the
man on horseback to rescue the nation from mediocrity. He is content being
the man-in-waiting, heir to all the mediocrity.
No one really remembers what great thing Mar Roxas has done as
congressman or as senator. No one remembers what he did in two stints as
Secretary of Trade or as Secretary of Transport and Communication or as
Secretary of the Interior.
All we recall is the blur of political ads where Mar plays people other
than himself. The only time he used Tagalog correctly was when he cussed
during a political rally and when he bullied the staff at a golf course.
Oh yes, he gave up his presidential run once to accommodate a less
qualified person and then snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when he
slid down to second fiddle. That did not fix him in the public mind as a