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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE WEEK:
(Mini Reads followed by Full news commentary)

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

BY DANILO SUAREZ: FOREIGN POLICY IN MIDDLE EAST NOW A 2016 CAMPAIGN ISSUE
[Aside from utmost importance of protecting our OFWs, our next president will have to immediately grasp the intricacies of foreign relations and Muslim affairs. How the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran could possibly impact the Mindanao peace process—not to mention the fight against the threat posed by the Daesh/ISIS/ISIL—has yet to be explored and discussed. More than the past elections, the ability and platform of a presidential candidate in handling the complicated area of foreign relations should be an important campaign issue.]


JANUARY 7 -As the Filipino electorate expects the momentum of the campaign season to build during the first week of 2016, an international development has barged its way to the front pages of broadsheets and in social media newsfeeds. This one is more pressing and alarming than climate change. According to reports just four days into the new year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran after the kingdom-nation’s embassy was ransacked by protesters in retaliation for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr two days before. Al-Nimr is a Shiite cleric in the dominantly Sunni country of Saudi Arabia, who has been reportedly critical of the royal family, and was said to have attracted the following of the young Shiites in the country and the ire of the Sunni government and law enforcement. The Shia-led Iran immediately condemned the execution and threatened a backlash against their longtime rival country, calling the act an “unjust aggression” against Shiites, alongside ensuing protests from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where most Shia Muslims reside. The almost automatic backlash and escalation of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran comes as no surprise for those following politics in the Middle East. With a rivalry stemming back since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the developments of the past week are but the latest strings in the ever-tangling web of issues and alliances. The Sunni-Shia conflict is but part of this rivalry, as the countries has time and again seen themselves in the opposite sides of conflicts fighting proxy wars in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Iraq in the 2000s, and currently in the Syrian crisis and the strife in Yemen. One can even go far as to say that this rivalry is fueling the Sunni-Shia conflict, which started out as a divergence in the dogma between two branches of the Muslim faith on who should be the rightful and legitimate successor of the Prophet Muhammad. The two factions lived in relative peace despite the difference in position on whether the leadership of the Muslim nation goes to elected leaders according to the Sunnis, or the Prophet’s bloodline according to the Shiites. Before the Iranian revolution, the most notable Sunni-Shia conflict was during the Ottoman-Saffavid wars in the 17th century, which was more political in nature rather than ideological or religious. It was during the 1970s that sectarian tensions within and amongst Muslim nations rose, mainly due to the political factions grounding policy on religion during the course of jockeying for power and influence. READ MORE...

ALSO: Reopening the wound (MAMASAPANO)


JANUARY 7 -MAMASAPANO INCIDENT By all means, the investigation of the Mamasapano massacre should resume. Even if no new evidence is unearthed, the Senate must continue looking into what happened on that blackest of days of this most insensitive, thoroughly incompetent government. I guess I must thank Senator Juan Ponce Enrile for being indisposed when the massacre of 44 elite commandos of the PNP Special Action Force happened on this month last year. Enrile was arrested and placed under hospital arrest in 2014, preventing him from participating in the Senate investigation called by Senator Grace Poe that found President Noynoy Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the horrific tragedy. Now the Senate, upon Enrile’s instigation, has scheduled the reopening of the investigation of Poe’s committee on public order a year after the massacre took place. If only because it will force people to remember what happened in that lonely cornfield by the river in Maguindanao, I applaud Enrile’s insistence on picking at a wound that never fully healed. You simply don’t hear people talk about the SAF 44 anymore, even if it’s been only a year since they were brutally killed by a rebel force that included the Aquino government’s “peace partners” in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. You never hear anymore about how the commandos were left to fend for themselves, with no air and artillery cover, as they were set upon by a superior number of enemies from all sides, in a whole-day assault directed by a suspended general who had no business leading a covert police operation, never mind if he was directly reporting to the Commander-in-Chief. But we have always been a people with absurdly short memories, especially when it comes to tragic events. We quickly forget even the most horrifying of tragedies—and our leaders, who stand to benefit from our forgetfulness, do everything in their power to make us “move on.” How many, after all, still remember the killing of 58 people, including 34 journalists, in 2009, also in Maguindanao? The cases filed against the perpetrators of the so-called Ampatuan Massacre are still being heard in the courts, with no decision in sight nearly seven years since the carnage took place. Even continuing tragedies like the devastation caused by super Typhoon “Yolanda” two years ago are eventually forgotten, felt only by those who still try to pick up the pieces of their lives in the aftermath. The victims of the most recent destructive typhoon, renamed “Nona” in order to “spare the President embarrassment” because the original name sounded like Aquino’s, will also soon be remembered no longer —which is just how the government likes it. * * * Malacañang has voiced no opposition to the reopening of the Senate probe of the massacre, even if it expressed the hope that the senators who will conduct it should not have any motivation for doing so other than uncovering the truth, old or new. The job of opposing the reopened investigation has been left to two pro-administration congressmen in the House, who advised the Senate to focus on important legislation instead of opening Mamasapano’s wounds. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Devotion on their sleeve


JANUARY 9 -Today hundreds of thousands, if not more, Filipinos will converge in the City of Manila for the Feast of the Black Nazarene. It has been a time-honored tradition of devotees to follow —even better, touch—the statue as it makes its way back to the Quiapo Church from the Luneta Grandstand. The annual practice is a test of will for authorities who must ensure that they prevent untoward incidents, respond to medical emergencies and clean up the place of clutter, afterwards. The security issue is even more urgent as there is reported information that terrorists may use the religious event to sow fear and violence. There have been warnings about how ISIS has gained followers among some groups based in Mindanao. The devotees, however, do not seem alarmed or even concerned about these warnings. Despite the high number of people, the Nazarene experience is deeply personal for most of them. Their participation is driven by an answered prayer, or a request that is yet to be granted. This is what faith means —to bring oneself out there, despite the dangers and the elements, in a show of determination and resilience. Jan. 9 is an important day because this is when Catholics are able to wear their devotion on their sleeve. The question, however, is how compelling the faith is on all other days of the year, and how this translates to action that helps make the world a kinder, better place. THE FULL EDITORIAL

ALSO: By Dean Tony La Viña - Next steps after genetically modified (BT) 'Talong' decision


JANUARY 9-Last month, the Supreme Court permanently halted the field testing for genetically modified eggplant, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), and upheld the earlier Court of Appeals decision which stopped the field trials for the GM plant. The Court also voided Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 08, series of 2002 on the ground that it lacks the minimum safety requirements under Executive Order 514, which established the National Biosafety Framework. In concurring with the majority opinion, Justice Marvic Leonen pointedly noted that an applicant for GMO testing, not the community, chooses community representatives to the relevant biosafety committee. Notices regarding such testing are merely posted in conspicuous places in the area, with no requirement for meaningful meetings with the community or local government concerned. Justice Leonen dismissed the regulation as “nonchalant.” For his part, Justice Presbitero Velasco’s concurring opinion also argued that the Bt talong testing failed to comply with environmental impact assessment requirements under older laws. The main decision found occasion to apply the precautionary principle. The Precautionary principle is expounded at length by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, among others, in his treatise: “The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms).” Nassim explained that “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally), the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety. Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it. The precautionary principle, the established rule of evidence in environmental cases in the Philippines, is intended to deal with uncertainty and risk in cases where the absence of evidence and the incompleteness of scientific knowledge carries profound implications and in the presence of risks of “black swans,” unforeseen and unforeseeable events of extreme consequence.” This principle was heavily invoked by the Court in banning the field testing of genetically modified eggplant and declare null and void the aforementioned DA Administrative Order. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Asked but not answered


JANUARY 11 -THE ruling Liberal Party’s response was predictable. The moment the Senate moved to reopen its investigation into the January 2015 Mamasapano massacre—in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation approved by the President—Palace allies in the House of Representatives fell over each other to say that the move was politically motivated. LP spokesman and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the reopening of the investigation was aimed at discrediting President Benigno Aquino III and dragging down the administration candidate for president, Manuel Roxas II, who had overall supervision of the police at the time as Interior and Local Government secretary. Roxas’ campaign spokesman, Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, urged Senator Grace Poe, head of the Senate committee on public safety, to inhibit herself from the hearings because she was running against Roxas and might use the investigation to benefit her own campaign. Once the public hearing started, he added, it would be difficult to distinguish between her role as an investigator and as a candidate. Even the President suggested there were political motives behind opposition Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s motion to reopen the hearings, and Poe’s decision to do so—arguing that both senators had a grudge against the administration. Other Liberal Party lawmakers and their allies chimed in with different objections. Some said it would unnecessarily open old wounds. Others said there was little time left in the current Congress, and that lawmakers should focus instead on priority legislation. Still others said reopening the case was a waste of time, and that the massacre had been adequately investigated, not only by the police, but by both by the Senate and the House.  READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Foreign policy in the Middle East now a 2016 campaign issue


 by Danilo Suarez

MANILA, JANUARY 11, 2016
(MANILA STANDARD) posted January 07, 2016 at 12:01 am by Danilo Suarez - As the Filipino electorate expects the momentum of the campaign season to build during the first week of 2016, an international development has barged its way to the front pages of broadsheets and in social media newsfeeds. This one is more pressing and alarming than climate change.

According to reports just four days into the new year, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran after the kingdom-nation’s embassy was ransacked by protesters in retaliation for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr two days before. Al-Nimr is a Shiite cleric in the dominantly Sunni country of Saudi Arabia, who has been reportedly critical of the royal family, and was said to have attracted the following of the young Shiites in the country and the ire of the Sunni government and law enforcement. The Shia-led Iran immediately condemned the execution and threatened a backlash against their longtime rival country, calling the act an “unjust aggression” against Shiites, alongside ensuing protests from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where most Shia Muslims reside.

The almost automatic backlash and escalation of the tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran comes as no surprise for those following politics in the Middle East. With a rivalry stemming back since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the developments of the past week are but the latest strings in the ever-tangling web of issues and alliances. The Sunni-Shia conflict is but part of this rivalry, as the countries has time and again seen themselves in the opposite sides of conflicts fighting proxy wars in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Iraq in the 2000s, and currently in the Syrian crisis and the strife in Yemen.

One can even go far as to say that this rivalry is fueling the Sunni-Shia conflict, which started out as a divergence in the dogma between two branches of the Muslim faith on who should be the rightful and legitimate successor of the Prophet Muhammad. The two factions lived in relative peace despite the difference in position on whether the leadership of the Muslim nation goes to elected leaders according to the Sunnis, or the Prophet’s bloodline according to the Shiites. Before the Iranian revolution, the most notable Sunni-Shia conflict was during the Ottoman-Saffavid wars in the 17th century, which was more political in nature rather than ideological or religious. It was during the 1970s that sectarian tensions within and amongst Muslim nations rose, mainly due to the political factions grounding policy on religion during the course of jockeying for power and influence.

READ MORE...

Given the situation, we can expect the line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand to be drawn deeper and clearer. Allies of the two countries would rush to their side, including Sunni-Shia factions within countries. Neutral parties, on the other hand, would appeal for cooler heads and have Saudi Arabia and Iran get back to the negotiating table to talk about peace in Syria, where they are currently waging their proxy wars. Western countries have been trying to get the Saudi Arabia and Iran to sit together and talk towards peace in Syria, but it has to be noted which countries the loyalties of United States and Russia lie. What a tangled web has been woven.

For a beauty pageant-crazy country like the Philippines, we can only hope for world peace to prevail when it comes to Middle Eastern conflict. Our overseas Filipino workers, in fact, have tended to turn to the Middle East for employment opportunities. According to the latest survey on OFWs, 24.8 percent of the 2.3 million OFWs prefer to work in Saudi Arabia, and close behind are the United Arab Emirates with 15.6 percent, and Kuwait and Qatar each with 5.3 percent. At least half of the OFW population, or around 1,173,000 Filipinos are potentially sitting on a lit powder keg.

Of course, the present administration should be on a hairline trigger to respond to the needs of OFWs when conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran escalates further. The question is now how the new administration, to be determined in five months, would address such a challenge of enormous magnitude as soon as it sets foot in Malacañang. We could be talking about mass efforts of repatriation, and upon that eventuality find jobs and livelihood opportunities for the returnees. By May, we will need national leaders that have the knowhow, experience, savvy, and nerves that could hit the ground running to respond to issues posed by the situation in the Middle East.

Aside from utmost importance of protecting our OFWs, our next president will have to immediately grasp the intricacies of foreign relations and Muslim affairs. How the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran could possibly impact the Mindanao peace process—not to mention the fight against the threat posed by the Daesh/ISIS/ISIL—has yet to be explored and discussed. More than the past elections, the ability and platform of a presidential candidate in handling the complicated area of foreign relations should be an important campaign issue.


Reopening the wound posted January 07, 2016 at 12:01 am by Jojo Robles


MAMASAPANO INCIDENT

By all means, the investigation of the Mamasapano massacre should resume. Even if no new evidence is unearthed, the Senate must continue looking into what happened on that blackest of days of this most insensitive, thoroughly incompetent government.

I guess I must thank Senator Juan Ponce Enrile for being indisposed when the massacre of 44 elite commandos of the PNP Special Action Force happened on this month last year. Enrile was arrested and placed under hospital arrest in 2014, preventing him from participating in the Senate investigation called by Senator Grace Poe that found President Noynoy Aquino “ultimately responsible” for the horrific tragedy.

Now the Senate, upon Enrile’s instigation, has scheduled the reopening of the investigation of Poe’s committee on public order a year after the massacre took place. If only because it will force people to remember what happened in that lonely cornfield by the river in Maguindanao, I applaud Enrile’s insistence on picking at a wound that never fully healed.

You simply don’t hear people talk about the SAF 44 anymore, even if it’s been only a year since they were brutally killed by a rebel force that included the Aquino government’s “peace partners” in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. You never hear anymore about how the commandos were left to fend for themselves, with no air and artillery cover, as they were set upon by a superior number of enemies from all sides, in a whole-day assault directed by a suspended general who had no business leading a covert police operation, never mind if he was directly reporting to the Commander-in-Chief.

But we have always been a people with absurdly short memories, especially when it comes to tragic events. We quickly forget even the most horrifying of tragedies—and our leaders, who stand to benefit from our forgetfulness, do everything in their power to make us “move on.”

How many, after all, still remember the killing of 58 people, including 34 journalists, in 2009, also in Maguindanao? The cases filed against the perpetrators of the so-called Ampatuan Massacre are still being heard in the courts, with no decision in sight nearly seven years since the carnage took place.

Even continuing tragedies like the devastation caused by super Typhoon “Yolanda” two years ago are eventually forgotten, felt only by those who still try to pick up the pieces of their lives in the aftermath. The victims of the most recent destructive typhoon, renamed “Nona” in order to “spare the President embarrassment” because the original name sounded like Aquino’s, will also soon be remembered no longer —which is just how the government likes it.

* * *

Malacañang has voiced no opposition to the reopening of the Senate probe of the massacre, even if it expressed the hope that the senators who will conduct it should not have any motivation for doing so other than uncovering the truth, old or new. The job of opposing the reopened investigation has been left to two pro-administration congressmen in the House, who advised the Senate to focus on important legislation instead of opening Mamasapano’s wounds.

READ MORE...

Indeed, there could be any number of reasons why the Senate wants to revisit the massacre outside of the usual purpose, which is “in aid of legislation.” There is a national election coming up in a few months, after all, and our senators are nothing if not human—perhaps more human than most because of their full-time predisposition to promote themselves and aid their personal interest.

But Malacañang, because of its role in the bloody fiasco a year ago, should be the last party to insinuate that partisan politics is behind the reopening of the Mamasapano investigation. The Palace planned, implemented and then bungled the operation to get the Malaysian terrorist Marwan, which directly led to the killing of the SAF 44; it cannot now claim that it is being persecuted in the name of politics, since its undisputed authorship voids any objection to the senators’ motivation, real or imagined.

It’s perfectly possible, of course, that the administration and its candidates in the coming election could suffer because of the reopening of the investigation. But that is certainly no reason to stop the resumption of the probe; that’s like saying that Aquino should not be charged and jailed by a government that is not to his liking after he steps down.

The mere fact that the investigation is being reopened, reminding everyone of what happened on that fateful January day, is good enough for me. And if it helps defeat the candidates who proclaim that they will continue the wrong-headed policies and the lack of empathy that led directly to the massacre in Mamasapano, well, that’s just a bonus.


EDITORIAL: Devotion on their sleeve posted January 09, 2016 at 12:01 am

Today hundreds of thousands, if not more, Filipinos will converge in the City of Manila for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

It has been a time-honored tradition of devotees to follow —even better, touch—the statue as it makes its way back to the Quiapo Church from the Luneta Grandstand.

The annual practice is a test of will for authorities who must ensure that they prevent untoward incidents, respond to medical emergencies and clean up the place of clutter, afterwards.

The security issue is even more urgent as there is reported information that terrorists may use the religious event to sow fear and violence. There have been warnings about how ISIS has gained followers among some groups based in Mindanao.

The devotees, however, do not seem alarmed or even concerned about these warnings. Despite the high number of people, the Nazarene experience is deeply personal for most of them.

Their participation is driven by an answered prayer, or a request that is yet to be granted. This is what faith means —to bring oneself out there, despite the dangers and the elements, in a show of determination and resilience.

Jan. 9 is an important day because this is when Catholics are able to wear their devotion on their sleeve. The question, however, is how compelling the faith is on all other days of the year, and how this translates to action that helps make the world a kinder, better place.


By Dean Tony La Viña - Next steps after BT Talong decision posted January 09, 2016 at 12:01 am by Dean Tony La Viña



Last month, the Supreme Court permanently halted the field testing for genetically modified eggplant, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), and upheld the earlier Court of Appeals decision which stopped the field trials for the GM plant. The Court also voided Department of Agriculture’s Administrative Order No. 08, series of 2002 on the ground that it lacks the minimum safety requirements under Executive Order 514, which established the National Biosafety Framework.

In concurring with the majority opinion, Justice Marvic Leonen pointedly noted that an applicant for GMO testing, not the community, chooses community representatives to the relevant biosafety committee. Notices regarding such testing are merely posted in conspicuous places in the area, with no requirement for meaningful meetings with the community or local government concerned. Justice Leonen dismissed the regulation as “nonchalant.” For his part, Justice Presbitero Velasco’s concurring opinion also argued that the Bt talong testing failed to comply with environmental impact assessment requirements under older laws.

The main decision found occasion to apply the precautionary principle. The Precautionary principle is expounded at length by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, among others, in his treatise: “The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms).” Nassim explained that “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing severe harm to the public domain (affecting general health or the environment globally), the action should not be taken in the absence of scientific near-certainty about its safety. Under these conditions, the burden of proof about absence of harm falls on those proposing an action, not those opposing it. The precautionary principle, the established rule of evidence in environmental cases in the Philippines, is intended to deal with uncertainty and risk in cases where the absence of evidence and the incompleteness of scientific knowledge carries profound implications and in the presence of risks of “black swans,” unforeseen and unforeseeable events of extreme consequence.” This principle was heavily invoked by the Court in banning the field testing of genetically modified eggplant and declare null and void the aforementioned DA Administrative Order.

READ MORE...

The case gave three requisites to warrant the application of the principle; namely: Settings in which the risks of harm are uncertain; settings in which harm might be irreversible and what is lost is irreplaceable; and settings in which the harm that might result would be serious. For the Court, “When these features—uncertainty, the possibility of irreversible harm, and the possibility of serious harm—oincide, the case for the precautionary principle is strongest. When in doubt, cases must be resolved in favor of the constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

In its petition, Greenpeace, Masipag et. al cited the 2010 Procedure for Environmental Cases of the Philippine where the Court laid down the rule that if there is uncertainty in assessing the cause-and-effect relationship between human activities and the environment, actions shall be taken by the court considering the following factors: 1) threats to human life or health; 2) inequity to present or future generations, and; 3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected. I am proud to claim that I helped draft this rule in 2010, which includes the Writ of Kalikasan used in this case.

Let us recall that earlier Greenpeace and the farmers’ group Masipag filed before the Court of Appeals’ petition to stop respondents UP Los Baños Foundation Inc, UP Mindanao Foundation Inc, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from conducting the field test. In 2013, the CA came out with a decision favoring the petitioners and ordered the stoppage of the nationwide field testing of the Bt eggplant. In the mind of the appellate court, existing regulations of the DA and the Department of Science and Technology were not enough to ensure the safety of the environment and health of the people. The Supreme Court agrees.

While the SC decision was hailed by petitioners Greenpeace and fellow activists, it has also set a flurry of criticisms among scientists. In my view. however, the criticism is baseless. I agree with Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Barcelona Tan on his observation that the critics did not seem to read the decision; certainly they did not understand it accurately.

As far as I can see, the criticism comes from very good scientists but they would not make good lawyers as they miss entirely the point of the decision—that our biosafety regulations are seriously outdated and antiquated and did not conform to the government’s own National Framework on Biosafety. I led the team that drafted the National Biosafety Framework. The scientific community and all the departments accepted this framework; in fact, citizen groups objected to the NBF for not going far enough even as it incorporated the precautionary principle and highest standards of scientific and socio-economic risk assessment, transparency, and public participation. All the Supreme Court did was to evaluate the biosafety regulations of the Department Agriculture according to that framework and found it wanting.

The Supreme Court did not stop scientific progress. Far from it in fact; the decision enables scientific progress by laying down the markers for a good regulatory process. All the government needs to do now is to draft and adopt, after intensive public consultations, the appropriate biosafety regulations. That should be doable in the next 12 months.


EDITORIAL: Asked but not answered posted January 11, 2016 at 12:01 am



THE ruling Liberal Party’s response was predictable.

The moment the Senate moved to reopen its investigation into the January 2015 Mamasapano massacre—in which 44 police commandos were killed in a covert operation approved by the President—Palace allies in the House of Representatives fell over each other to say that the move was politically motivated.

LP spokesman and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said the reopening of the investigation was aimed at discrediting President Benigno Aquino III and dragging down the administration candidate for president, Manuel Roxas II, who had overall supervision of the police at the time as Interior and Local Government secretary.

Roxas’ campaign spokesman, Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, urged Senator Grace Poe, head of the Senate committee on public safety, to inhibit herself from the hearings because she was running against Roxas and might use the investigation to benefit her own campaign. Once the public hearing started, he added, it would be difficult to distinguish between her role as an investigator and as a candidate.

Even the President suggested there were political motives behind opposition Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s motion to reopen the hearings, and Poe’s decision to do so—arguing that both senators had a grudge against the administration.

Other Liberal Party lawmakers and their allies chimed in with different objections.

Some said it would unnecessarily open old wounds. Others said there was little time left in the current Congress, and that lawmakers should focus instead on priority legislation. Still others said reopening the case was a waste of time, and that the massacre had been adequately investigated, not only by the police, but by both by the Senate and the House.

READ MORE...

Of course, those who offered this last argument need to explain to the public why the House has not released its own findings almost one year after the fact. The government also needs to explain why, despite the Senate finding that the President was ultimately responsible for the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force commandos, no action was taken to address this liability.

On the other hand, those who argue political motives might want to explain why only three opposition senators—including Enrile—were targeted for prosecution over the pork barrel scandal—or why the President used billions of pesos in public funds to grease the wheels in the campaign to oust a politically unfriendly chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Finally, those who argue that reopening the case is a waste of time should explain why senators allied with the administration used more than 20 hearings spaced out over a year to tar and feather another opposition candidate for president, Vice President Jejomar Binay, with corruption charges.

Enrile, the target of the administration’s campaign to rid itself of opposition senators, said he wants to reopen the case because he was detained at the time and was unable to ask questions during last year’s hearings. He also suggests he has new information on the case. These sound like valid reasons to reopen the investigation—particularly since one year after the massacre, so many questions about it remain unanswered.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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