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

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

By M.V. Ronquillo: NO LONG GOODBYES, FOND FAREWELLS FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE 1%


MAY 31 -Marlen V. Ronquillo THE President of our nation always leaves behind a most-remembered optic, upon which we base our lasting impression of his or her leadership. It can be an act of supreme greatness—or hubris. That optic stays vivid and fresh in the national memory—there is no need for a caption, or accompanying worlds. Think of Erap and his tugboat ride out of Malacañang to escape the lynching mob outside. In contrast, think of Mr. Ramos and the joyful cigar puffing and his “skyfalls,” reminders of a government marked by relative prosperity and peace. A government of very little tumult.On Mr. Aquino, the one lasting, unforgettable optic of his six years in power—his permanent imprint on the national memory—took place on the sad day the bodies of the fallen SAF 44 were planed in by military aircraft to Manila, from the Mamasapano killing fields. Not a shadow of Mr. Aquino was at the welcoming group, an occasion that marked an outpouring of national grief and commiseration.Where was he? What epic event made the President decide to skip a sad homecoming where his presence was not only badly needed, but a leadership must, and a calming one? Believe it or not, he was at the recycling-cum-inauguration of a decades-old car manufacturing facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which changed ownership, to save the facility from moving on into the next obvious destination—the junkyard. There, Mr. Aquino talked of the theme that animates him, investments, and the supposed nirvana that the nation derives from such lofty event—which on that day was the recycling of a mass of steel to save it from its junkyard-bound fate. A mass of aging steel versus 44 returning cadavers that his government itself had sent into the slaughter? Mr. Aquino, our all-business President, opted to glorify the aging steel instead of sharing the grief with his stunned, mourning nation. Nowhere in that Sta. Rosa speech did the President waver from his unrelenting theme of growth and investments. It was totally out-of-sync with the preoccupation of his nation at that moment, commiseration with 44 SAF troopers waylaid due to operational and leadership bungles in the underwhelming cornfields of Mamasapano. A look back at the six years of Mr. Aquino in power, and the photos that revealed what for him were the highlights of his presidency, validated the impression that Mr. Aquino’s obsession were inanimate pursuits: nice GDP charts, credit upgrades from the (discredited) rating agencies, inaugurations of roads, bridges and office towers and assembly plants. READ MORE...

ALSO: Extremely dangerous moment in South China (West Philippine) Sea


JUNE 5 -usa x china (IMAGE FROM WORDPRESS BLOG usa x china FROM WORDPRESS BLOG)
WHEN China sureptitiously took Panatag shoal (Scarborough shoal) from an unsuspecting and naïve Aquino administration in 2012, few suspected that the stealthy Chinese maneuver would set off a series of events and developments that would turn the shoal into a flashpoint for a major-power confrontation in the Asia-Pacific. Tension has been building up these past few years in the South China Sea, because of China’s unilateral claim to sovereignty over nearly all of the international waters, which are a vital passageway for global trade and parts of which are also claimed by Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, as part of their exclusive economic zones under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This week, the tension rose to crisis point because both China and the US have taken explicitly hard lines in approaching the developing situation. First, as reported by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, China has made plans to establish an outpost on Scarborough Shoal, in much the same way that it has built infrastructure and military facilities on certain islets in the SCS (which is WPS or West Philippine Sea to us, Filipinos). The US response to the Chinese plans was swift and firm. On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Douglas Carter, in speaking at a security summit in Singapore, bluntly warned that Chinese construction on Scarborough would prompt “actions” by the United States and other nations. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Gus Lagman - Election tampering by a Smartmatic insider


MAY 31 -By Gus Lagman
THREE years of election automation—2010, 2013, and 2016. Surely the COMELEC has learned many lessons from the experience, one of which, hopefully, is that the anomaly of entrusting our elections—democracy’s most important activity—to a foreign company, should be corrected. Ask yourself this question: Why are our elections managed and run by foreigners? And at a cost of billions of our pesos! It does not require deep thinking to see how wrong that is. Even worse, these foreigners, because of a badly designed automated system, have the power to determine who should win and become our leaders, and who should not. For years, I have been saying that the Smartmatic PCOS/VCM (Precinct Count Optical Scan/Vote Counting Machine) system is very vulnerable to tampering by an insider, realistically, upon instructions from a higher official in the organization. By insider, I mean a technical person working with the COMELEC, or with Smartmatic. I have said that so often—during radio and TV interviews and in my articles—that Mr. Sixto Brillantes, when he was chairman of the COMELEC, dared me to prove that statement. I suspected then that the reason he posed that dare was that he thought I would have to do the tampering myself! He probably got a bit confused with what “tampering by an insider” meant. Anyway, he made the dare official during a JCOC (Joint Congressional Oversight Committee) hearing at the Senate. He asked me to list down the equipment I would need for the demonstration. I readily accepted the dare and told him to produce in the next JCOC hearing a PCOS machine, a laptop, and a Smartmatic technical person who knows the software. I explained what I would do: that I would ask the Smartmatic technical person to point out to me where in the various computer programs the various functionalities are. I would then tell him what to alter in the programs, if, for instance, I would want to change the elections results. Perhaps finally realizing what “tampering by an insider” meant, Mr. Brillantes withdrew his challenge and never brought up the matter again. Actually, my being asked to prove the statement that the Smartmatic system was vulnerable to tampering by an insider was totally unnecessary … because Smartmatic itself has proven it—on four different occasions. READ MORE

ALSO: By Katrina santiago - In Duterte-land


JUNE 5 -by KATRINA STUART SANTIAGO THE man was obviously pissed, coming out in black, responding to the backlash that went down after his May 31 news conference. And rightfully so. Yes, there is no excuse to condone the killing of anyone, and certainly his statements can be used to justify the killing of any and all journalists—which is reason to be alarmed by what he said. But this statement: “Kaya namamatay dahil karamihan ‘yan nabayaran na, they take sides, or sobrahan nila ang atake, getting into [the] personal. Hindi lahat ng tao … kaming mga pulitiko okay ‘yan, praktisado kami, pero ‘yung ibang tao you go private, tapos hiyain mo, ‘yung anak babuyin mo, papatayin ka talaga. Eh gano’n eh. … It’s not because you’re a journalist you’re exempted from assassination.” That statement is not all that he said. But it is these soundbites that get the most mileage. It riles the public up, it puts the man’s intentions and character into question. Toward what end? Your guess is as good as mine. Not just context With a President-elect like Rodrigo Duterte, there is every reason to take things out of context, because even context is rendered different: it is not merely the question that gave rise to his answers, it’s also the way he speaks, how he speaks, the questions before it and after it, and how this one question changed his tone. This context is about understanding the framework of his opinion, which is premised on the specificity of his experience that requires that we follow his thought process, looking at the way he answered a question versus just the answers that we get. When that question about media killings came up, I quickly took offense at his statement: “Kasi hindi ka naman talaga papatayin diyan kung wala kang ginawa, eh.” I took offense because I know it’s not true. There are journalists who are doing their jobs so well, and fearlessly, that they ruffle the feathers of those who imagine themselves untouchable and who respond to journalist questions with a bullet. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Ricardo Saludo - Catholic morals and the Duterte presidency
[Two things are clear: the criminal justice system must be drastically overhauled and dramatically improved, so that due process would in fact deter and stop most crimes. Until then, many believers, especially those in law enforcement, shall grapple with the immensely difficult choice between following the Fifth Commandment and breaking it to stop those who make their living destroying people’s lives.]


JUNE 5 -by RICARDO SALUDO
MANY devout, practicing Catholics are disturbed over President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.They wonder how they should respond to his admitted sexual behavior, his reported vigilantism and death-penalty advocacy, and his tough-talk against the bishops.How should Catholic Filipinos—85 percent of the nation, based on baptisms—deal with the country’s leader in the coming six years? Well, for starters, Christian doctrine dictates that legitimate, lawful authority should be respected and followed, as long as it decrees and acts for the common good and in accordance with the law, including the law of God. So when President Duterte institutes a curfew for minors and a midnight liquor ban, Catholics should comply. That policy would be lawful and probably helpful in curbing crime, drugs, and even the lack of family time together. On the other hand, if any official issues unlawful orders, such as the killing of criminals without due process, then Catholics are duty-bound to object and refuse to follow. Otherwise, we transgress the Fifth Commandment, the laws against murder, and Section 1 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” The arbiters of right and wrong Who decides if orders and actions by the government violate the law and morality? For the laws of the land, the Judiciary has the final say. For impeachable officials like the President, Congress can determine violations that warrant removal from office and eventual prosecution in court. As for morality, Catholics should refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and seek counsel from its authorities, especially the bishops. We may disagree with their judgment, but we are duty-bound to follow them. That’s our religion. Could the courts, Congress, and the Church make mistakes in adjudicating presidential actions and decrees? READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

No long goodbyes and fond farewells for the President of the 1%


MAY 31 -Marlen V. Ronquillo

MANILA, JUNE 6, 2016 (MANILA TIMES) May 31, 2016 11:21 pm Marlen V. Ronquillo - THE President of our nation always leaves behind a most-remembered optic, upon which we base our lasting impression of his or her leadership.

It can be an act of supreme greatness—or hubris.

That optic stays vivid and fresh in the national memory—there is no need for a caption, or accompanying worlds. Think of Erap and his tugboat ride out of Malacañang to escape the lynching mob outside. In contrast, think of Mr. Ramos and the joyful cigar puffing and his “skyfalls,” reminders of a government marked by relative prosperity and peace. A government of very little tumult.

On Mr. Aquino, the one lasting, unforgettable optic of his six years in power—his permanent imprint on the national memory—took place on the sad day the bodies of the fallen SAF 44 were planed in by military aircraft to Manila, from the Mamasapano killing fields.

Not a shadow of Mr. Aquino was at the welcoming group, an occasion that marked an outpouring of national grief and commiseration.

Where was he? What epic event made the President decide to skip a sad homecoming where his presence was not only badly needed, but a leadership must, and a calming one?

Believe it or not, he was at the recycling-cum-inauguration of a decades-old car manufacturing facility in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which changed ownership, to save the facility from moving on into the next obvious destination—the junkyard.

There, Mr. Aquino talked of the theme that animates him, investments, and the supposed nirvana that the nation derives from such lofty event—which on that day was the recycling of a mass of steel to save it from its junkyard-bound fate.

A mass of aging steel versus 44 returning cadavers that his government itself had sent into the slaughter? Mr. Aquino, our all-business President, opted to glorify the aging steel instead of sharing the grief with his stunned, mourning nation.

Nowhere in that Sta. Rosa speech did the President waver from his unrelenting theme of growth and investments. It was totally out-of-sync with the preoccupation of his nation at that moment, commiseration with 44 SAF troopers waylaid due to operational and leadership bungles in the underwhelming cornfields of Mamasapano.

A look back at the six years of Mr. Aquino in power, and the photos that revealed what for him were the highlights of his presidency, validated the impression that Mr. Aquino’s obsession were inanimate pursuits: nice GDP charts, credit upgrades from the (discredited) rating agencies, inaugurations of roads, bridges and office towers and assembly plants.

READ MORE...

If you wanted the attendance of the President, or the attendance of an enthusiastic President, the invitations should be about gleaming office towers of glass and steel, new power plants, new airports and seaports, structures with intimations of a country on the go and on the move.

Never human lives, especially the lives of the downtrodden .

Of course Mr. Aquino interacted with humans. But they were taipans, young achievers, would-be-investors, movers and shakers. On the occasions with the movers and shakers, the photo collection of the Aquino presidency would show him a pleased man, grinning from ear to ear, devouring the usual blah blah on how these chosen ones’ investments would move the GDP growth.

Mr. Aquino’s sense of triumphalism peaked on the occasions he was with the Davos crowd or the Makati Business Club.
About two years into his presidency, I wrote a piece titled “Mr. Aquino should change his photo-ops” after many concerned citizens took note of the fact that his photos as President were exclusively about success and successful ventures and people—never about people on the margin, the class of people so strongly specified in The Sermon on the Mount.

Where were the weak, the meek, the humble and the persecuted in Mr. Aquino’s presidential photos, that piece asked. Why were they rendered invisible by his presidency?

Was not the President the father to all the citizens regardless of status in life, religion and beliefs?

Typhoon Yolanda and the heart-rending misery and devastation it dealt on Eastern Visayas unraveled the almost brutal indifference of the Aquino government toward those who need the government most.

Mr. Aquino and his co-president, Mr. Roxas, if you reread the Yolanda files, seemed to loathe the whole exercise of coming to the succor of the dead and the barely living.

Mr. Aquino was a clueless Dead Leader Walking while presiding over the Yolanda relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The adrenalin that surged within the body system of the President during the inauguration of gleaming office towers was replaced by impatience and surliness in the Yolanda devastated areas. The work of coming to the succor of a wasteland seemed to be too tasteless, too cumbersome for the President.

Of course this was the same President who vetoed a meager increase in the SSS pension, claimed that the token Magna Carta for the Poor was a “budget-buster” and vigorously opposed a tax break for tax-burdened wage earners; and used the Napoles scam to cut off the token subsidies to the peasantry.

Of course, this was the same President who designed the P1.4 trillion PPP projects as bid-ready for the members of the 1 percent and the blue-chip corporations.

Mr. Aquino will be a private citizen a month from now and the new Palace occupant is the same man he vigorously campaigned against, the candidate he deemed unfit to be President. The voters, the ordinary citizens he failed to serve, rewarded Mr. Duterte with 16 million-plus votes, their silent but definitive verdict on Mr. Aquino’s presidency .

There are no fond farewells and long goodbyes for the President of the 1 percent. He and his GDP charts will go, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
mvronq@yahoo.com
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2 Responses to No long goodbyes and fond farewells for the President of the 1%
P.Akialamiro says:
June 1, 2016 at 1:59 am
Sir, you have said in all; you nailed it! Mr. Aquino and his minions have the ‘right’ to claim otherwise, but the impression etched in the hearts and minds of the Filipino remains, as you’ve rightfully mentioned. It would only be “hubris” that’s left with B S Aquino III, as he was prone to show.
Mabuhay, ngayon, ang Pilipinas!
Reply
KL says:
June 1, 2016 at 12:31 am
Brilliant article by the author.
” President Aquino III….President of the 1% ”
None is so apt to describe Aquino’s watch.
Reply


Extremely dangerous moment in South China (West Philippine) Sea June 5, 2016 1:16 am


usa x china FROM WORDPRESS BLOG

WHEN China sureptitiously took Panatag shoal (Scarborough shoal) from an unsuspecting and naïve Aquino administration in 2012, few suspected that the stealthy Chinese maneuver would set off a series of events and developments that would turn the shoal into a flashpoint for a major-power confrontation in the Asia-Pacific.

Tension has been building up these past few years in the South China Sea, because of China’s unilateral claim to sovereignty over nearly all of the international waters, which are a vital passageway for global trade and parts of which are also claimed by Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, as part of their exclusive economic zones under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

This week, the tension rose to crisis point because both China and the US have taken explicitly hard lines in approaching the developing situation.

First, as reported by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, China has made plans to establish an outpost on Scarborough Shoal, in much the same way that it has built infrastructure and military facilities on certain islets in the SCS (which is WPS or West Philippine Sea to us, Filipinos).

The US response to the Chinese plans was swift and firm. On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Douglas Carter, in speaking at a security summit in Singapore, bluntly warned that Chinese construction on Scarborough would prompt “actions” by the United States and other nations.

READ MORE...

Carter declared that Beijing risks building a “Great Wall of self-isolation” with its military expansion in the contested waters. And he also proposed stronger bilateral security cooperation to reduce the risks of a “mishap.”

Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, who heads the Chinese office of international military cooperation, quickly attacked the Pentagon chief’s remarks, telling journalists they reflected a “Cold War mentality.”

Amazingly, allusions to the Cold War may not be entirely inappropriate. They are cautionary, because the SCS/WPS situation could mutate into something similar to the Cuban missile crisis in the 1960s, which brought the US and the now-defunct Soviet Union close to military confrontation.

That earlier crisis was fortunately defused through timely and effective diplomacy, and the mutual decision of both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev to draw back from the brink.

In similar fashion, President Xi and President Obama must rise to their positions of responsibility as the leaders of great nations in the 21st century.

Through statesmanship, they should set a course toward peaceful cooperation and understanding, which other nations can support.

The 21st century is not a time for swashbucklers, it should be a time for innovators and builders.


Election tampering by a Smartmatic insider May 31, 2016 11:24 pm  GUS LAGMAN


By Gus Lagman


THREE years of election automation—2010, 2013, and 2016. Surely the COMELEC has learned many lessons from the experience, one of which, hopefully, is that the anomaly of entrusting our elections—democracy’s most important activity—to a foreign company, should be corrected.

Ask yourself this question: Why are our elections managed and run by foreigners? And at a cost of billions of our pesos! It does not require deep thinking to see how wrong that is. Even worse, these foreigners, because of a badly designed automated system, have the power to determine who should win and become our leaders, and who should not.

For years, I have been saying that the Smartmatic PCOS/VCM (Precinct Count Optical Scan/Vote Counting Machine) system is very vulnerable to tampering by an insider, realistically, upon instructions from a higher official in the organization. By insider, I mean a technical person working with the COMELEC, or with Smartmatic.

I have said that so often—during radio and TV interviews and in my articles—that Mr. Sixto Brillantes, when he was chairman of the COMELEC, dared me to prove that statement. I suspected then that the reason he posed that dare was that he thought I would have to do the tampering myself! He probably got a bit confused with what “tampering by an insider” meant.

Anyway, he made the dare official during a JCOC (Joint Congressional Oversight Committee) hearing at the Senate. He asked me to list down the equipment I would need for the demonstration. I readily accepted the dare and told him to produce in the next JCOC hearing a PCOS machine, a laptop, and a Smartmatic technical person who knows the software.

I explained what I would do: that I would ask the Smartmatic technical person to point out to me where in the various computer programs the various functionalities are. I would then tell him what to alter in the programs, if, for instance, I would want to change the elections results.

Perhaps finally realizing what “tampering by an insider” meant, Mr. Brillantes withdrew his challenge and never brought up the matter again.

Actually, my being asked to prove the statement that the Smartmatic system was vulnerable to tampering by an insider was totally unnecessary … because Smartmatic itself has proven it—on four different occasions.

READ MORE...

The first time was when Smartmatic “corrected” the results in several precincts in Wao, Lanao del Sur, during the canvassing of the 2008 ARMM election. I understand that they even did this remotely from Manila. The second time was during the 2010 National and Local Elections (NLE), when they “corrected” the number of registered voters, which reached 250 million! For these situations to occur, there must have been “bugs,” or errors in the Smartmatic software.

The third time was during the 2013 senatorial elections, when Smartmatic “corrected” the total votes of Sen. Poe that reached 12 million after only the first two hours of canvassing. The fourth time was during last May 9’s NLEs, when Marlon Garcia, of Smartmatic, “corrected” the “?” in some of the candidates’ names and changed them to “ñ”. Again, Smartmatic had to make these “corrections” because of software bugs.

It is so unfair that we would pay them billions of pesos for machines and software, which were not fully tested. We don’t even know if those “bugs” were planted so they would have an excuse to tamper with the programs.

An equally serious anomaly that needs to be corrected is the lack of transparency in the elections process.

No voter saw the precinct counting, so nobody knows if the votes were counted correctly or not. We just accepted the results given us by machines that were programmed by Smartmatic. (Yes, Virginia, there is human intervention even in an automated system.) What if some insider tampered with the software? We wouldn’t know. What if there were again “bugs” in those programs?

We wouldn’t know.

Neither would we know if someone tampered with the Election Returns (ERs) while they were being transmitted electronically to the City/Municipal Boards of Canvassers. Nor would we know if someone tampered with the canvassing software and the results as they were being transmitted to the next canvassing level. We would know nothing because the process is so non-transparent.

We recommended a simple step that would have added transparency in the electronic transmission and in the canvassing, but despite the COMELEC’s commitment to incorporate that step, they didn’t implement it. Not properly, anyway. Were they averse to a transparent system? Or don’t the Commissioners appreciate the value of transparency? And the value of controls in an election process?

Three COMELEC generations—under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, Atty. Sixto Brillantes and, now, Atty. Andres Bautista—and not one of them realized the anomaly of a foreign group managing our elections and of an election system that is not transparent, despite being required by law?

THESE ANOMALIES MUST BE CORRECTED.

If the Commissioners can’t do it, then perhaps they should step aside for those who can before the 2019 mid-term elections.
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8 Responses to Election tampering by a Smartmatic insider
unc_sammy says:
June 1, 2016 at 8:05 am
However sophisticated the program is, it is still “garbage in garbage out”. Human factor is still the bottomline.
Reply
Renato Galang says:
June 1, 2016 at 6:27 am
What about the precint random manual audit? Are these not useful at all?
Reply
ernie del rosario says:
June 1, 2016 at 6:19 am
The only thing more painful than learning from experience is NOT learning from experience. This truth ay dapat isuksok sa kokote ng mga taga Comelec, kung kinakailangan kahit forcibly.. Strike 4 na di pa natutututo. Tinintingnan na naman ang 2019.
Reply
ernie del rosario says:
June 1, 2016 at 5:59 am
Gus, impeachment is better. Di aalis sa puesto ang mga yan willingly.
Reply
victorts says:
June 1, 2016 at 5:09 am
Maybe they really do not want the elections to be transparent as it would prevent them from selling tampered returns. Reports had it that senatorial candidates were offered positions in the magic 12 for certain amounts. I guess the one for vice-president would command a higher price.
Reply
rey quijada says:
June 1, 2016 at 4:32 am
We are being fooled because we allow ourselves to be fooled not just by SMARTMATIC but by the people tasked to protect our sovereign will. Our constitution will soon be amended and the machine ordered by some powerful persons will decide for us. President Duterte should do something about this or else we will be destroyed as a nation. Determine the culprits, remove them from office and charge them in court and if they resist Duterte has the solution. We in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur have petitioned RTC Branch 6 to order for the manual recount manually of the ballots and the votes cast for councilors. Mr. Gusman will now have his time to prove his allegations. Hopefully interested persons who want our polls to be restored to its proper dignity can support us make this happen. We are fighting a lonely fight against powerful politicians.
Reply
Mark Torres says:
June 1, 2016 at 1:51 am
Sir, make kulet Comelec of the system audit that is to be conducted.
As a New Filipino, my Memory is no longer SHORT.
Please make it as an Advocacy to force Comelec to be AUDITED.
Thanks!
Reply
Pilipino Ako says:
June 1, 2016 at 1:19 am
And yet, Mr. Lagman, in an interview you said that the latest tampering by Smartmatic to “correct” the “?” did not affect the tally for vice president. You have no more credibility! Shame on you!
Reply


In Duterte-land June 5, 2016 1:06 am Katrina Stuart Santiago


by KATRINA STUART SANTIAGO

THE man was obviously pissed, coming out in black, responding to the backlash that went down after his May 31 news conference. And rightfully so.

Yes, there is no excuse to condone the killing of anyone, and certainly his statements can be used to justify the killing of any and all journalists—which is reason to be alarmed by what he said.

But this statement: “Kaya namamatay dahil karamihan ‘yan nabayaran na, they take sides, or sobrahan nila ang atake, getting into [the] personal. Hindi lahat ng tao … kaming mga pulitiko okay ‘yan, praktisado kami, pero ‘yung ibang tao you go private, tapos hiyain mo, ‘yung anak babuyin mo, papatayin ka talaga. Eh gano’n eh. … It’s not because you’re a journalist you’re exempted from assassination.”

That statement is not all that he said. But it is these soundbites that get the most mileage. It riles the public up, it puts the man’s intentions and character into question. Toward what end? Your guess is as good as mine.

Not just context

With a President-elect like Rodrigo Duterte, there is every reason to take things out of context, because even context is rendered different: it is not merely the question that gave rise to his answers, it’s also the way he speaks, how he speaks, the questions before it and after it, and how this one question changed his tone.

This context is about understanding the framework of his opinion, which is premised on the specificity of his experience that requires that we follow his thought process, looking at the way he answered a question versus just the answers that we get.

When that question about media killings came up, I quickly took offense at his statement: “Kasi hindi ka naman talaga papatayin diyan kung wala kang ginawa, eh.” I took offense because I know it’s not true. There are journalists who are doing their jobs so well, and fearlessly, that they ruffle the feathers of those who imagine themselves untouchable and who respond to journalist questions with a bullet.

READ MORE...

What kept me from shooting from the hip, though, were the lines that followed that statement, where I realized that, in fact, the President-elect was talking about a specific kind of journalist, who accepts bribe money, and then decides to continue bashing the person who had paid for the journalist’s silence.

Soon enough the president-elect articulated context: “There is still corruption sa inyong side. Marami ‘yan. … ‘Yang si Pala, harap-harapan ‘yan sasabihin kumulekta kami. Tapos sa kabila babanatan mo. ‘Yun. That is the best example kung bakit namamatay itong mga journalist. Kaya prangka-prangka. Karamihan gano’n.”

This part also made me realize that he was talking about a specific experience with a particular kind of journalist, and in the case of the President-elect, it was about the kind of reporter that one Jun Pala was.

Tangents and bigger pictures

Once that specificity was established, one also sees that he was working with a far larger picture than the question that was asked of him. The question was “What is your policy on journalist killings?” And he went on this tangent, based on what to him was the bigger picture that (1) killings happen to everyone, not just journalists; and (2) some journalists bring it upon themselves."

“Kasi nagtatanong kayo kung bakit pinapatay … do not make it appear that they are clean. Most of you are clean, but do not ever expect na itong mga journalist are all clean. Kaya namamatay dahil karamihan ‘yan nabayaran na, they take sides, or sobrahan nila ang atake, getting into [the] personal. … It’s not because you’re a journalist you’re exempted from assassination. ‘Yung premise mo kasi journalist siya, bakit patayin siya? It’s all wrong.”

Obviously, Duterte heard that question about his policy on media killings, and what he responded to were the premises of that question. So he debunked the premise by going into this tangent which, to me at least, sounded like he was putting into question the idea that journalists are more special than the rest of us.

As far as the President-elect is concerned, journalists are just like everybody else—some of them who are corrupt, a majority are clean, but the former deserve what they get from the enemies they make.

We might not agree with this perspective, but certainly it is more logical than the soundbites that were given mileage in the aftermath of this news conference.

Media level-up

The incoming President requires all of us to watch at attention—not just listen to his words, but also look at how he’s saying it, wait for those gems that explain exactly where he’s coming from, latch on to those, and do some follow-up questions. The better to understand him.

For example, after hearing Duterte speak of corrupt journalists deserving to die, why didn’t anyone in the media ask him: what about journalists who are not corrupt but are killed anyway? Why didn’t anyone ask him about the case of Gerry Ortega, for example, or the case of the journalists who got killed in the Ampatuan massacre? What is his policy on journalists like them?

Certainly Duterte would then have had to take a step back, repeat what he said that “Most journalists are clean,” and that these clean journalists, yes, they would be protected by his administration. At the very least he would have had to make a distinction between the corrupt and the non-corrupt, and then it would be clear that the stand he was taking on media killings is only consistent with his stand on corruption in general.

But the journalists in that room missed this opportunity, and revealed they do not really want him to flesh out his answers, nor do they know how to handle the President-elect.

And no, I don’t think the media’s being kind. I think they really are just unprepared for this kind of unscripted, un-spun news conferences, and they do not know how to handle someone who obviously doesn’t care much for propaganda that makes him look and sound good.

Now the President-elect has decided no more news conferences. And good for him. Because we obviously don’t get it, and we latch onto nothing but the controversial bits and pieces, not at all the policy statements and the bigger picture he creates.

We also don’t have a sense of humor: after he spoke in straight English, with a mock accent, about a metamorphosis happening to him once he is President-in-fact, complete with caterpillars blossoming into butterflies, a reporter asked: Sir, are you serious or would this fall under preposterous?

Well, if we had to ask that.


Catholic morals and the Duterte presidency June 5, 2016 1:12 am Ricardo Saludo


by RICARDO SALUDO

MANY devout, practicing Catholics are disturbed over President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

They wonder how they should respond to his admitted sexual behavior, his reported vigilantism and death-penalty advocacy, and his tough-talk against the bishops.

How should Catholic Filipinos—85 percent of the nation, based on baptisms—deal with the country’s leader in the coming six years?

Well, for starters, Christian doctrine dictates that legitimate, lawful authority should be respected and followed, as long as it decrees and acts for the common good and in accordance with the law, including the law of God.

So when President Duterte institutes a curfew for minors and a midnight liquor ban, Catholics should comply. That policy would be lawful and probably helpful in curbing crime, drugs, and even the lack of family time together.

On the other hand, if any official issues unlawful orders, such as the killing of criminals without due process, then Catholics are duty-bound to object and refuse to follow.

Otherwise, we transgress the Fifth Commandment, the laws against murder, and Section 1 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”

The arbiters of right and wrong

Who decides if orders and actions by the government violate the law and morality?

For the laws of the land, the Judiciary has the final say. For impeachable officials like the President, Congress can determine violations that warrant removal from office and eventual prosecution in court.

As for morality, Catholics should refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and seek counsel from its authorities, especially the bishops. We may disagree with their judgment, but we are duty-bound to follow them. That’s our religion.

Could the courts, Congress, and the Church make mistakes in adjudicating presidential actions and decrees?

READ MORE...

Of course. They are all imperfect human institutions, subject to errors in judgment, wrong information, political pressures, ulterior motives, and plain human folly.

There are innocent poor people convicted, and guilty rich ones exonerated. Congress impeached the late Chief Justice Renato Corona amid billions of pesos in pork barrel releases, but allowed a patent violation of the Constitution: President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s Disbursement Acceleration Program usurping the legislature’s power of the purse.

As for the Catholic Church, it has at times condemned thinkers like Galileo and visionaries like St. Joan of Arc, only to rescind its judgment decades or centuries later.

And in matters of faith, the Vatican has sometimes been late in acknowledging events that have stirred countless believers, like the 1948 apparition of Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace, in Lipa, whose affirmation by two Lipa prelates was voided by Rome last week.

Let’s hold our tongue

Where does that leave the faithful seeking moral guidance on the words and actions of soon-to-be President Duterte?

Last week he said he would moderate his strong language upon taking office at noon on June 30. That may mean an end to cuss words and disrespectful statements about the Holy Father, the United Nations, certain personages, media, and other objects of presidential anger.

Even if the four-letter words continue, we just have to tell children that such language isn’t Christian. As Jesus said, “If you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.”
So let’s hold our tongue even if the President may not hold his.

On sexual morals there should be little confusion for the faithful in the face of Duterte’s declared willingness for sex outside marriage. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself forbids not just adultery, but lewd thoughts: “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So no wolf-whistling at women, or men, for that matter, whatever the President may do. Ditto all manner of sex outside marriage between man and woman. Last time we checked, that’s the commandment of the Church.

When is it right to kill?

What about killing criminals, including drug traffickers?

We’re not talking about shootouts with armed hoods, where self-defense and lawful authority can justify deadly force. Nor the death penalty, which should be discussed in an article on its own, and which Church doctrine does not totally rule out.

Rather, the concern is over an anti-crime policy which encourages and even rewards police in eliminating lawless elements. Or worse: the deployment of vigilante groups targeting criminals.

This kind of killing seems easy to rule out, since it may lead to the death of suspects before their guilt is established. Indeed, many fear people would be liquidated on claims that they resisted arrest, with guns and narcotics planted to affirm the pretext.

Christian morality puts paramount value on life, and always stresses the imperative to safeguard it as far as possible, without endangering other lives. That means exhausting all means before resorting to deadly force.

That said, in our nation where the criminal justice system, from police to prosecution and prison, is so ineffective in fighting crime, one can see why many see the need for simply wiping out known and incorrigible criminal personalities.

In this utter failure of the justice system, with jailed drug lords even living in luxury and running their syndicates from the National Bilibid Prison, it is tempting to conclude that killing them would be the lesser evil than letting them flourish.

It’s a tough call. The Church cannot but counsel against killing except in very clear situations of self-defense. But what about society’s defense in the face of lawless groups which have gamed the law and even the jails in their favor?

Two things are clear: the criminal justice system must be drastically overhauled and dramatically improved, so that due process would in fact deter and stop most crimes. Until then, many believers, especially those in law enforcement, shall grapple with the immensely difficult choice between following the Fifth Commandment and breaking it to stop those who make their living destroying people’s lives.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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