EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full Commentary below)

FROM MANILA STANDARD

EDITORIAL: NOWHERE NEAR PERFECT


In the past few days, young people graduating with distinction from university have given us something to talk about.
Biology major Tiffany Grace Uy, who registered the highest post-war General Weighted Average of 1.004 at the University of the Philippines, has become popular online. Uy obtained a grade of flat 1.0 for all subjects except an art course where she got 1.25. After the news of Uy’s feat broke online, there emerged vicious comments questioning her Chinese lineage, emphasizing that she was not a pure Filipino. There were also social media posts about high grades not being the measure of true intelligence, and some reference to Uy as her parents’ puppy – deriding her as an obedient child who complied with all school requirements but accomplishing little else. In her graduation speech last Friday, however, Uy was the first to acknowledge that “despite all the high marks, achievements, and accomplishments under our belt, we come to the stark realization that there are many things school has not prepared us for.” Amid her attempts to sound lighthearted and humorous, Uy said that the wilderness she and her friends are entering poses “far greater tests of fitness.” She also acknowledged those who came before her generation who have not been able to solve the overwhelming problems of the nation.  READ MORE...

ALSO: Another day, another mishap


Off the coast of Ormoc, Leyte at noon on Thursday, a boat carrying 191 people capsized. While most of the passenger survived, 45 are confirmed dead; at least 10 remain missing.
This tragedy is the latest disaster to talk about these days, with the Philippine Coast Guard, assisted by the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force, leading the investigations into the cause of the ship’s mishap. Among the leads being explored are human error and overloading, with bad weather causing rough waves. There are reports that the boat made a sharp right turn after being hit by waves; the passengers panicked and caused the boat to tilt. The vessel was found to be carrying 150 sacks of cement as well as construction materials. There are also accounts that life jackets were not made available to the passengers. Expect the usual calls for swift investigation and for justice for the missing and the dead. Unfortunately, such calls are only heard every time there is a mishap. READ MORE...

ALSO: Laudato Si’s approach to science


I was tempted to break this series and write on the United States Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. But quickly I realized that this much-acclaimed and -criticized decision requires more reflection if I were to be thoughtful and faithful to my beliefs. It actually deserves a series of its own. In the meantime, I go back to my series on Laudato Si’, the papal encyclical, and reflect in this column on Pope Francis’ approach to science and technology. Laudato Si’ provides a vision of ecological culture, which is “a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.” In the encyclical, Pope Francis calls for a bold cultural revolution that recognized that humanity “has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction.” We must reject this and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything; “Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.”  The encyclical presents a powerful critique of technology. It points out: “The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests.” (LS 110) READ MORE...

ALSO: The statesman-troll


A presidential lackey once declared that President Noynoy Aquino should spend the rest of his days after leaving office just being “a statesman.” But what a foul-mouthed statesman he’d make – and it’s not just because of the nicotine on his breath. If you’ve ever wondered where the viciousness and the bile that is routinely spewed out by the supporters of Aquino come from, look no further than the President himself. Because when it comes to classless putdowns more worthy of an Internet troll than of a head of state, no one can touch the titular head and sole inheritor of the Yellow political heritage. Aquino’s trademark style of insulting speech was on full display yesterday in Cebu City, when he declared that a critical former governor of Cebu, Lito Osmena, only needs someone to talk to. What follows is the actual quote in Tagalog from Aquino, because the statement loses a lot of its sting when translated into English: “Kaya itong nagsasalitang ito, wala kang kausap. Kakausapin ko po si Secretary Dinky Soliman na tulungan ka ng social welfare na ihanap ng kausap.” This, apparently, is what passes for political discourse as far as Aquino is concerned. He will not directly answer the charge made by the former governor that the President’s Liberal Party could steal the funds set aside for Cebu’s proposed new airport; instead, he wants to drag Osmena down to the gutter so that he can trade grade-school insults with him there. READ MORE...

ALSO: Finally, a possible end to the BBL nightmare


An event that may trigger the liberation of the Filipino people from the potentially disastrous effects of the unconstitutional Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pending in the Senate took place last June 19, 2015. That day, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and former Negros Oriental congressman Jacinto Paras, filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality not of the BBL itself, but of the source of this underhanded attempt of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to allow a state-sponsored dismemberment of the Republic in favor of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The petitions assail the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – the blueprint for the controversial BBL. To appreciate the arguments raised by the petitioners, a brief historical overview is in order. In the 1970s, then-President Ferdinand Marcos sought a peaceful solution to the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao. Multi-party negotiations ultimately led to the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, which called for autonomy, not independence, in Muslim Mindanao. That autonomy was eventually embodied in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) created pursuant to Sections 15 to 21, Article X of 1987 Constitution. In 1989, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6734, the Organic Act of the ARMM. During his term, President Fidel Ramos created the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP). In turn, President Gloria Arroyo ordered that peace with the Muslim rebels in Mindanao shall be undertaken by the PAPP “in accordance with constitutional processes.” Thereafter, a government peace panel negotiated with the MILF. This led to the infamous Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which called for the creation of a virtual sub-state in Mindanao – the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE). READ MORE...

ALSO: Marshalling resources for Mindanao


It takes a visionary and someone who understands the complexity of the Mindanao problem to come up with an encompassing solution. Stepping up to the challenge, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has proposed a mini- Marshall Plan to solve the decades-long conflict in Mindanao. The inspiration of Marcos’ plan was George Catlett Marshall, the architect for Europe’s rapid recovery after World War II. Marshall, then the Secretary of State, was commissioned by US President Harry Truman to fast-track postwar Europe’s economic recovery. Since then, Marshall’s name became synonymous with economic recovery planning through the infusion of massive funding assistance from international sources. In a speech at the Philippine Constitution Association last Tuesday at the historic Manila Hotel, Senator Marcos said full modernization of Mindanao is the only way forward for the region whose potential has been stalled by disparate rebel groups and neglect by the central government in Manila. Philconsa, led by its president, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the government-proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. READ MORE...

ALSO 'Terror condo' prob: A simple solution


At first blush, the proposal seems intended merely to arouse laughter or to serve as “click bait,” as they say on the Internet. But Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing is very, very serious about his plan to turn the statue of national hero Jose Rizal around and make it “face the people” instead of the sea. The veteran lawmaker, the son of the late longtime mayor Ramon Bagatsing, says he has hit upon the ultimate “win-win” solution to the problem of Rizal’s statue being “photobombed” by a high-rise condo building less than a kilometer behind it. Despite the criticism that the Bagatsing proposal has received, especially online, I’m willing to give it the benefit of a fair hearing, instead of just dismissing it out of hand. First of all, Bagatsing argues that the hero wasn’t even facing Manila Bay when he was executed in Bagumbayan, which is now known as Rizal Park. (Truth to tell, all of the park as it is now didn’t even exist in Rizal’s time, since the seawall back then was where Taft Avenue is right now.)  “The Spaniards wanted Rizal to be shot in the back, facing the sea, as his statue does now, because he was supposed to be a traitor,” the congressman told me. “But history tells us that he turned around and faced the firing squad that killed him, because he couldn’t accept being called a traitor.”  So, to be historically correct, Bagatsing said, Rizal should actually be facing Taft Avenue and the offending Torre de Manila instead of the bay. And if his statue is turned around to reflect this historical fact, then the photobombing furor is immediately eliminated. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL: Nowhere near perfect
Jun. 30, 2015 at 12:01am

In the past few days, young people graduating with distinction from university have given us something to talk about.

Biology major Tiffany Grace Uy, who registered the highest post-war General Weighted Average of 1.004 at the University of the Philippines, has become popular online. Uy obtained a grade of flat 1.0 for all subjects except an art course where she got 1.25.

After the news of Uy’s feat broke online, there emerged vicious comments questioning her Chinese lineage, emphasizing that she was not a pure Filipino. There were also social media posts about high grades not being the measure of true intelligence, and some reference to Uy as her parents’ puppy – deriding her as an obedient child who complied with all school requirements but accomplishing little else.

In her graduation speech last Friday, however, Uy was the first to acknowledge that “despite all the high marks, achievements, and accomplishments under our belt, we come to the stark realization that there are many things school has not prepared us for.”

Amid her attempts to sound lighthearted and humorous, Uy said that the wilderness she and her friends are entering poses “far greater tests of fitness.” She also acknowledged those who came before her generation who have not been able to solve the overwhelming problems of the nation.

READ MORE

Uy believes that limitless human potential will allow this county to overcome its ills. In no way does she say she’s made, or done. The girl with the amazing grades says there is still a lot to do.

Over at UP Visayas, class valedictorian Raoul Manuel said he wished to be known not for being his campus’ first summa cum laude but for being a good friend and student leader. He makes a pitch for student activism amid perception that it derails young people from their goals.

He asked, what purpose would perfect attendance be in a school with insufficient facilities, or with tuition is so steep that not many can afford to enroll?

Uy and Manuel are just two of numerous students who inspire the old and the young alike. Despite their early achievements, they recognize that much more needs to be done for their country. There is no air of self-congratulations and a bragging about achievements while maligning those who came before them, those who criticize them or those who do not share their opinion.

There is no hint of hubris as they rally their classmates and fellow graduates to do good things for the nation. Finally, there is no thinking that they – nobody else – could save the country from its ills.

It’s not a perfect society. Claims to perfection and infallibility, all empty, have no place here.


Another day, another mishap  Jul. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

Off the coast of Ormoc, Leyte at noon on Thursday, a boat carrying 191 people capsized. While most of the passenger survived, 45 are confirmed dead; at least 10 remain missing.

This tragedy is the latest disaster to talk about these days, with the Philippine Coast Guard, assisted by the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force, leading the investigations into the cause of the ship’s mishap.

Among the leads being explored are human error and overloading, with bad weather causing rough waves. There are reports that the boat made a sharp right turn after being hit by waves; the passengers panicked and caused the boat to tilt.

The vessel was found to be carrying 150 sacks of cement as well as construction materials. There are also accounts that life jackets were not made available to the passengers.

Expect the usual calls for swift investigation and for justice for the missing and the dead.

Unfortunately, such calls are only heard every time there is a mishap.

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In between such incidents, regulators and executives responsible for ensuring the safety of the public are left to their own devices.

The calls will be loud because it is practically election season and everybody is looking for somebody else to blame.

They also wish to be portrayed as having empathy for the victims and their families. They will echo the angry words and demands that those responsible for the tragedy must be made accountable.

Recall what happened two months ago when a fire hit a slipper factory in Valenzuela, causing the death of dozens of workers.

The investigation revealed that the factory did not use adequate safety measures and the workers themselves employed not by the factory but by a third-party company that hires workers on contractual basis.

In that incident, there was much recrimination and blame-tossing. In the end, the victims allowed the settlement of their case and nothing more was heard about how other factories in other places all over the country are run and evaluated.

These mishaps will continue happening as long as the people in office take their responsibilities for granted, seeing their roles as routine and becoming used to the idea that people’s lives depend on their action – or inaction.

This is the issue to be highlighted, not the usual game of politicians where they feel compelled to make populist shoutouts without adequate follow through.


Laudato Si’s approach to science By Dean Tony La Viña | Jun. 30, 2015 at 12:01am



I was tempted to break this series and write on the United States Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. But quickly I realized that this much-acclaimed and -criticized decision requires more reflection if I were to be thoughtful and faithful to my beliefs. It actually deserves a series of its own. In the meantime, I go back to my series on Laudato Si’, the papal encyclical, and reflect in this column on Pope Francis’ approach to science and technology.

Laudato Si’ provides a vision of ecological culture, which is “a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.” In the encyclical, Pope Francis calls for a bold cultural revolution that recognized that humanity “has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction.” We must reject this and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything; “Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.”

The encyclical presents a powerful critique of technology. It points out: “The specialization which belongs to technology makes it difficult to see the larger picture. The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole, for the relationships between things, and for the broader horizon, which then becomes irrelevant. This very fact makes it hard to find adequate ways of solving the more complex problems of today’s world, particularly those regarding the environment and the poor; these problems cannot be dealt with from a single perspective or from a single set of interests.” (LS 110)

READ MORE...

From this insight of the need for a more holistic approach, Pope Francis advocates “a science which would offer solutions to the great issues would necessarily have to take into account the data generated by other fields of knowledge, including philosophy and social ethics. He acknowledged that, in this age of fragmented knowledge, this not easy. He also points to the lack of “genuine ethical horizons to which one can appeal”. According to Pope Francis: “Life gradually becomes a surrender to situations conditioned by technology, itself viewed as the principal key to the meaning of existence. In the concrete situation confronting us, there are a number of symptoms which point to what is wrong, such as environmental degradation, anxiety, a loss of the purpose of life and of community living.” (LS 111)

More positively, Laudato Si’ shares a vision of ecological culture which “cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources.” According to Pope Francis: “There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.” (LS 111)

The Pope points also to “the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities.” People no longer equate scientific and technological progress with the progress of humanity and history; that there is “a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere”. He described humanity as changing profoundly, with “the accumulation of constant novelties” exalting “a superficiality which pulls us in one direction.” (LS 111)

Laudato Si’ lament how difficult it is “to pause and recover depth in life.” It observes: “If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.” (LS 113)

Laudato Si’ has been criticized for being anti-science and technology. There is no basis for this criticism. In fact, Pope Francis acknowledges and praises the contributions of science and technology. He only urges wisdom in how we use is. Thus, he proposes: “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral. Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?” (LS 112)

What can we conclude from these reflections on science? Pope Francis calls us “to move forward in a bold cultural revolution.” Let’s be clear on what to do: “Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.”


The statesman-troll By Jojo Robles | Jun. 30, 2015 at 12:01am

A presidential lackey once declared that President Noynoy Aquino should spend the rest of his days after leaving office just being “a statesman.” But what a foul-mouthed statesman he’d make – and it’s not just because of the nicotine on his breath.

If you’ve ever wondered where the viciousness and the bile that is routinely spewed out by the supporters of Aquino come from, look no further than the President himself. Because when it comes to classless putdowns more worthy of an Internet troll than of a head of state, no one can touch the titular head and sole inheritor of the Yellow political heritage.

Aquino’s trademark style of insulting speech was on full display yesterday in Cebu City, when he declared that a critical former governor of Cebu, Lito Osmena, only needs someone to talk to. What follows is the actual quote in Tagalog from Aquino, because the statement loses a lot of its sting when translated into English:

“Kaya itong nagsasalitang ito, wala kang kausap. Kakausapin ko po si Secretary Dinky Soliman na tulungan ka ng social welfare na ihanap ng kausap.”

This, apparently, is what passes for political discourse as far as Aquino is concerned. He will not directly answer the charge made by the former governor that the President’s Liberal Party could steal the funds set aside for Cebu’s proposed new airport; instead, he wants to drag Osmena down to the gutter so that he can trade grade-school insults with him there.

READ MORE...

I wonder how the late Cory Aquino, who was such a friend of Lito Osmena that she made him the running mate of her anointed successor Fidel Ramos in 1992, would react to her son’s language. For all her faults, after all, the prim and proper Cory would never dream of talking trash like her son – not even in the heat of her regular mahjong sessions.

(It’s been pointed out to me that Aquino’s filthy language shows that he has a lot more in common with his sister Kris than with his mother Cory. After all, when last heard from, Kris was offering to buy an online critic of hers some decent underwear, apparently because she had rummaged through the guy’s posted photos and found out that his drawers were not even Calvin Kleins; really classy siblings, these two.)

Aquino, after all, once famously told off a businessman complaining about the looting and lawlessness his disaster-stricken community with: “But you did not die, right?”

Oh, and before I forget, Aquino was once again backstopped in Cebu by his favorite spear-carrier, the Tonto to his Lone Ranger, Mar Roxas. To Roxas, of course, will forever be attributed the words – spoken to other calamity victims at another time – “Bahala kayo sa buhay niyo!”

What beautiful words from our leaders, who were supposed to have been brought up in proper, upper-crust families, no less. What dirty, insensitive mouths they have that need to be washed out thoroughly with laundry soap.

* * *

When I broke the story of Tiffany Grace Uy, the University of the Philippines summa cum laude who achieved a general weighted average of 1.004 two weeks ago, I failed to mention her obvious Chinese ethnicity. But I really thought that the fact that Uy, a BS Biology graduate, earned the highest-possible 1.0 grade in all the courses she took save for one (where she received the next-highest grade of 1.25) was the more important “angle.”

That was silly of me. At least two members of the UP faculty, of all people, have since belittled Uy’s amazing feat – with one of them insinuating that she got her high grades because she was not patriotic (and by extension Filipino) enough to join protest actions on campus.

In her graduation address last weekend, Uy ignored the envious barbs and the poorly concealed ethnic slurs. She only talked about how her own stratospheric marks were not as important as her own desire to become a doctor someday so she could help the people.

Now, that’s class. And because she took the higher ground when she could have justifiably taken offense and lashed back at those who bullied her for the “crime” of having Chinese roots, I can only say that my admiration for Uy has only increased.

As for her detractors, I’m sure a lot of them are only too willing to celebrate anyone with the slightest connection to the Philippines, embracing with misplaced “Pinoy Pride” an excellent athlete or entertainer who can’t even tell the difference between adobo and his or her abdomen. But let someone like Uy, who was born and raised here, excel at something like academics in UP and all of a sudden, she’s not even Filipino.

I’m even willing to bet that these people are Aquino supporters. They sure have the troll act down pat.


Finally, a possible end to the BBL nightmare By Victor Avecilla | Jul. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

An event that may trigger the liberation of the Filipino people from the potentially disastrous effects of the unconstitutional Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) pending in the Senate took place last June 19, 2015.

That day, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) headed by Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and former Negros Oriental congressman Jacinto Paras, filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality not of the BBL itself, but of the source of this underhanded attempt of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to allow a state-sponsored dismemberment of the Republic in favor of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The petitions assail the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro – the blueprint for the controversial BBL.

To appreciate the arguments raised by the petitioners, a brief historical overview is in order.

In the 1970s, then-President Ferdinand Marcos sought a peaceful solution to the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao. Multi-party negotiations ultimately led to the signing of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, which called for autonomy, not independence, in Muslim Mindanao.

That autonomy was eventually embodied in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) created pursuant to Sections 15 to 21, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. In 1989, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6734, the Organic Act of the ARMM.

During his term, President Fidel Ramos created the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP). In turn, President Gloria Arroyo ordered that peace with the Muslim rebels in Mindanao shall be undertaken by the PAPP “in accordance with constitutional processes.”

Thereafter, a government peace panel negotiated with the MILF. This led to the infamous Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which called for the creation of a virtual sub-state in Mindanao – the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

READ MORE...

The MOA-AD had controversial features, including a provision which speaks of the “associative relationship” between the Republic of the Philippines and the BJE. It also contained provisions which guaranteed amendments to the 1987 Constitution. Because of these legal infirmities, the MOA-AD was challenged in the Supreme Court even before it was signed by the government peace panel.

On October 14, 2008, the Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled, among others, that the government peace panel cannot guarantee amendments to the 1987 Constitution to accommodate the stipulations in the MOA-AD; that the MOA-AD violates the Constitution; and that the “associative relationship” between the Republic of the Philippines and the BJE as stipulated in the MOA-AD is unconstitutional because it implies that the BJE is an entity headed towards independence. The decision was written by then Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, who is the current Ombudsman.

In December 2012, President Aquino called the ARMM “a failed experiment” and ordered his devoted PAPP, Teresita Deles, to create a new government peace panel to sit down with representatives of the MILF.

Eventually, the government peace panel was convened, with law professor Marvic Leonen representing the government, and a certain Mohagher Iqbal (a pseudonym) representing the MILF. On October 15, 2012, this government peace panel signed the so-called Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). Further negotiations led to the signing of four (4) annexes and their inclusion in the FAB.

Pursuant to the FAB, President Aquino created the Transition Commission, which will prepare the draft BBL for the approval of Congress, and which will recommend amendments to the 1987 Constitution to accommodate the BBL. In December 2012, Miriam Coronel Ferrer succeeded Leonen after Aquino appointed the latter to the Supreme Court.

Later, the FAB and its annexes were integrated and called the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Like the FAB and its annexes, the CAB contains provisions which violate the 1987 Constitution, and guarantees that the Constitution will be amended to accommodate the provisions of the CAB. It also states that the relationship between the Republic of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro Government created under the CAB shall be “asymmetric” in character. Noted experts in Constitutional Law see no difference between the terms “associative” relationship used in the MOA-AD and “asymmetric” relationship used in the CAB.

On March 27, 2014, the CAB was signed for the government by Ferrer, Senen Bacani, Yasmin Busran-Lao, and Mehol Sadain. Thereafter, the Transition Commission submitted a draft of the BBL to President Aquino for his approval. After some amendments to the draft were made in Malacañang, President Aquino submitted the draft BBL to both houses of Congress for appropriate action. The draft BBL submitted to Congress contains provisions lifted directly from the CAB.

Undoubtedly, both the MOA-AD and the CAB guarantee amendments to the 1987 Constitution. Likewise, the “associative” relationship stated in the MOA-AD is no different from the “asymmetric” relationship mentioned in the CAB. Thus, pursuant to the 2008 decision of the Supreme Court regarding the MOA-AD, the CAB is also unconstitutional.

The recent petitions against the CAB are anchored on this judicial precedent. It logically follows, of course, that if the CAB is unconstitutional, then the draft BBL, which traces its legal origin from the CAB and its related agreements, is a legal nullity.

Supporters of the BBL say that the aforesaid petitions are premature because the BBL is still pending in the Senate. That argument is specious. To repeat, the petitions are directed against the CAB and not the BBL. Moreover, in the 2008 judicial precedent, the Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD unconstitutional even before the government peace panel was able to sign it.

Other supporters of the BBL ask why the petitions were filed years after the CAB was signed. That is beside the point. Unconstitutional acts of government officials do not ripen to validity by the mere passage of time.

Although the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is expected to represent the Aquino administration in opposing the petitions, the OSG may not represent Mohagher Iqbal and the MILF. Government resources, already limited as they are, should not be used to defend an inexistent person and his revolutionary organization.


Marshalling resources for Mindanao By Alejandro Del Rosario | Jul. 04, 2015 at 12:01am

It takes a visionary and someone who understands the complexity of the Mindanao problem to come up with an encompassing solution.

Stepping up to the challenge, Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has proposed a mini- Marshall Plan to solve the decades-long conflict in Mindanao. The inspiration of Marcos’ plan was George Catlett Marshall, the architect for Europe’s rapid recovery after World War II. Marshall, then the Secretary of State, was commissioned by US President Harry Truman to fast-track postwar Europe’s economic recovery. Since then, Marshall’s name became synonymous with economic recovery planning through the infusion of massive funding assistance from international sources.

In a speech at the Philippine Constitution Association last Tuesday at the historic Manila Hotel, Senator Marcos said full modernization of Mindanao is the only way forward for the region whose potential has been stalled by disparate rebel groups and neglect by the central government in Manila. Philconsa, led by its president, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the government-proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

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Conferred by Philconsa the title of “great defender of the Constitution,” the senator remarked he found it ironic that today, a Marcos was defending the 1987 Constitution drawn up during President Cory Aquino’s revolutionary government.

”With all the money and numbers the present Aquino government is prepared to commit to a Muslim Mindanao region, we can design a mini-Marshall Plan with internal investments complemented by international funding institutions,” said Marcos who is submitting a substitute bill to the flawed and controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law when Congress resumes on July 27.

But a modernization plan can only be achieved with the full-scale pacification of all insurgent forces and all-out law enforcement in the region, Marcos said. He cautioned against entrusting the maintenance of peace solely to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the aftermath of the Mamasapano, Maguindanao massacre of 44 PNP-Special Action Force commandos.

The fatal flaw of the MILF-government panel was its failure to include the interest of the other stakeholders in the proposed autonomous region. Lumping the Christian communities, indigenous people like the Lumads, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Sultanate of Sulu under the hegemony of the MILF is both unacceptable and unworkable, said the senator who took his Senate committee on local government to Mindanao provinces to be placed under the ambit of the BBL .

After a series of consultations that gave him a sense of how the locals feel about being governed by the MILF, the senator said he is determined to do the right thing. He is also considering, as an alternative to the mini-Marshall plan, the revision and upgrade of the constitutionally compliant Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The MILF seconded by the government peace negotiators portrayed the ARMM as a failed experiment when all it needed was more support to succeed, said Senator Marcos.

He raised his concern that the government peace panel gave away to the MILF all the powers and features of an independent state such as a parliamentary form of government, its own police force and a commission on audit.

For sure, there are many Filipinos who share the senator’s apprehension that we might be creating a state within a state that can easily secede from the Republic.

CAAP workers decry loss of P1-B benefits

Here’s how the government rewards its hard-working employees. It takes back pay increases and benefits they have been receiving since 2012.

The decision of the Commission on Audit and the Governance Commission on Government -Owned and -Controlled Corporations to stop the P1-billion in benefits already given to Civil Aeronautics Administration of the Philippines employees who helped the country get back to international aviation standards is most unfair and insensitive when seen in light of the high costs of living.

The country’s international carrier, Philippine Airlines, is now able to fly to European destinations after CAAP employees pushed themselves to meet rigid requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for airport safety standards. Earlier, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) also lifted sanctions on Manila’s airport for its sub-standard airport facilities and operations. Now that the Philippines is back to Category 1 status, PAL continues to fly to Los Angeles, San Francisco and even added New York to its US routes.

Recently, PAL also made a breakthrough in returning to its former London, UK destination.

All these can be attributed to the professional performance of the CAAP workers. But with the government’s shabby treatment of our skilled workers, the country will continue to suffer from the exodus of Filipino professionals.

We have seen this happen with the lowly-paid weather forecasters of Pagasa.


A simple solution By Jojo Robles | Jul. 03, 2015 at 12:01am

At first blush, the proposal seems intended merely to arouse laughter or to serve as “click bait,” as they say on the Internet. But Manila Rep. Amado Bagatsing is very, very serious about his plan to turn the statue of national hero Jose Rizal around and make it “face the people” instead of the sea.

The veteran lawmaker, the son of the late longtime mayor Ramon Bagatsing, says he has hit upon the ultimate “win-win” solution to the problem of Rizal’s statue being “photobombed” by a high-rise condo building less than a kilometer behind it. Despite the criticism that the Bagatsing proposal has received, especially online, I’m willing to give it the benefit of a fair hearing, instead of just dismissing it out of hand.

First of all, Bagatsing argues that the hero wasn’t even facing Manila Bay when he was executed in Bagumbayan, which is now known as Rizal Park. (Truth to tell, all of the park as it is now didn’t even exist in Rizal’s time, since the seawall back then was where Taft Avenue is right now.)

“The Spaniards wanted Rizal to be shot in the back, facing the sea, as his statue does now, because he was supposed to be a traitor,” the congressman told me. “But history tells us that he turned around and faced the firing squad that killed him, because he couldn’t accept being called a traitor.”

So, to be historically correct, Bagatsing said, Rizal should actually be facing Taft Avenue and the offending Torre de Manila instead of the bay. And if his statue is turned around to reflect this historical fact, then the photobombing furor is immediately eliminated.

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“Even the tamaraw and the carabao statues in Rizal Park are facing the right way,” the congressman said. “And the reason the statue of Lapu-Lapu there is facing the bay, I think, is because he is supposed to be protecting the country from the Spanish invaders, who must certainly be coming from the sea.”

Bagatsing says the people who are deriding his unusual proposal should first study their history. And he takes grave offense at those who accuse him of siding with Torre de Manila’s developer, DM Consunji Inc., because he is in the developer’s pocket or because he simply wants to side with greedy corporations who want to despoil the city’s skyline.

“Even the people who say they want to preserve the skyline of Rizal Park have not come up with a real alternative,” he said. “They just criticize and don’t look for a solution.”

* * *

I must make it clear that I am not lawyering for DMCI, which I understand has more than enough advocates in court and outside it. And the developer and whoever conspired with it should be penalized to the fullest extent of the law, if they are proven to have violated any legal prohibition or restriction when it put up its 49-story structure.

DMCI is already doing just that before the Supreme Court, which slapped a restraining order on the company after a lawsuit was filed against it for putting up the building. And ultimately, it is the highest court in the land that will rule on the matter of the construction of Torre de Manila, not those for or against the building’s construction, regardless of how noisy either camp gets.

I just admire the simple and clean solution that Bagatsing has offered, because it’s the best I’ve heard on the matter, so far. And yes, I’m aware of proposals like draping the offending Torre with a giant flag, or planting trees behind Rizal’s statue to hide the building further behind it and even to just rename the entire structure after the national hero – as if this will make the problem go away.

Sometimes, the best solution is the simplest, after all. And at the very least, I think the congressman’s proposal deserves serious study.

History aside, I think Bagatsing’s proposal will also solve a host of problems that the controversy surrounding the Torre de Manila and the statue it supposedly disrespects. For one, I believe that making Rizal face inland instead of seaward will ensure that the national hero’s famed statue will never again be photobombed – unless someone decides to build skyscrapers on the very edge of the park near where the Quirino Grandstand is.

For one, it will free up development of that part of the city between Roxas Boulevard and Binondo which is already chock-full of skyscrapers. The city of Manila will certainly benefit from the taxes and the economic activity that the redevelopment of that area will bring, giving it more resources to pursue programs that will help the residents of the capital.

On a more personal note, some people that I personally admire have openly stated that they are against Bagatsing’s simple solution. I’m sorry I cannot join them, but that’s just the way it is in the column-writing game; I respect their opinion, and expect them to respect mine.

The important thing is to be open to new ideas and not to dogmatically reject those that do not, on the surface, mesh with ours. Then maybe we can learn from this controversy and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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