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

BY RIGOBERTO TIGLAO: ON THE MARCOS BURIAL ISSUE, MEDIA & THE ACADEME HAVE FAILED US
[The tragic tale of the Marcos loot ‘discoverer’]


AUGUST 15 -BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO
ON AUGUST 15, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY - One big reason why we still have to suffer this debate over Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is that the two institutions tasked by society to enlighten a nation — media and the academe — have totally abdicated their duties to do so.As a result, we probably have more established facts concerning the 1898 Philippine Revolution than the 1972-1986 Martial Law era, which everybody — whether pro-or anti-Marcos — agrees has been a watershed in our nation’s history. What we have are partisan narratives, with the dominant one being that of the Aquino clan’s Yellow yarns.An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday, which has been both a rabidly anti-Marcos and pro-Aquino newspaper, is a clear illustration of this problem.The paper yesterday had a one-page, 2,500-word article entitled “What happened to the Marcos millions?” It was bylined Helen N. Mendoza, whom the newspaper described as a “PhD, a retired University of the Philippines professor who studied in the United States, Norway, Germany and England.” Initially, I was pleasantly surprised that an academic was finally doing research on the Marcos era, and the piece even had an impressive table on exactly what “Marcos billions” consisted of.Upon closer reading, though, the entire piece verged on plagiarism, as everything on it was lifted from a 4,000-word story by Nick Davies in the May 7, 2016 edition of the London-based The Guardian.READ MORE...RELATED, The tragic tale of the Marcos loot ‘discoverer'...

ALSO: Do we still obey the Ten Commandments?


AUGUST 20 -BY RICARDO SALUDO
Before we chorus “Of course!” consider the recent news we may have read or watched. A former secretary of Justice and incumbent senator is accused of having an affair with her married driver and using him as bagman for drug money solicited for her election campaign. So, either she is violating the Sixth Commandment against adultery, the Seventh against stealing (since corruption is theft), and the Eighth against falsehood (since betrayal of public trust in government officials is dishonesty). Or her accusers, including the highest official in the land, is breaking the Eighth. Law enforcers and so-called vigilante groups, along with drug syndicates, have allegedly killed more than 1,500 suspects, the latter two assailant groups with no legal authority, and the police with utterly impossible claims that most of the hundreds who ended up dead fought back. So there goes the Fifth Commandment. Now, picture and replay the last ads you saw, heard or read. The ones enticing you to buy the latest, the finest, the priciest. And those that get your gaze with some scantily clad, suggestively gesturing models. Plus commercials promising more pesos for your centavos. These are pretty much all the kinds of ads we see these days. That’s our covetous culture, stirring desires for money, sex, luxury, status and other worldly wishes. The very coveting forbidden by the Ninth and Tenth Commandments. As for the First, Second and Third, well, God’s near-absence in our daily thinking, feeling, and living shows how we have other gods besides the Lord our God, how much we take His name in vain, and what lack of holiness pervades pretty much every day in the week, with many of the baptized not even willing to set aside an hour, let alone a day, to keep holy. In this world where Ten Commandments are broken everywhere and everytime, it seems a hopeless, even mindless undertaking to heed heaven’s dos and don’ts. Why bother when so few do, and many, if not most, don’t. And with worldly enticements and social pressures to dismiss the Decalogue, including the disdain of family and friends who resent being reminded of the ten tenets of right and wrong, it’s hard not to think that it’s normal and acceptable to disobey. Thus, the devil succeeds in convincing us that there’s no way humanity can win against our sinfulness, that’s understandable and forgivable to break commandments here and there, and for all our striving with God’s grace, our bit of sanctity dissolves in the sea of sins engulfing our world.READ MORE...


ALSO
EDITORIAL: For a corruption-free society


AUGUST 15 -EDITORIAL CARTOON "PATINTERO" -WELL before taking charge of the nation, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded his Cabinet of a supreme requirement: his administration would not be tainted with corruption. The President’s determination has given most Filipinos a great measure of hope, as did the other daunting task he has taken up as priority—bringing an end to the drug menace that has been destroying the lives of many people and the family as a unit. His unorthodox method for freeing society from the clutches of the drug lords is, of course, not acceptable to many, particularly the armchair moralistas and human right activists; but he seems to have gained the sympathy of the vast majority of the common tao. Ask any taxi driver, or any man on the street, and you’d have a better understanding of the generally positive mood. On the corruption front, the President has specifically cited the Bureau of Internal Revenue as one known to be corrupt and the Bureau of Customs where, he said, employees earn huge amount of bribes, which make their salaries look more like an allowance. Thus, soon after coming to office, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has moved to introduce what he calls “freedom of information” about past, as well as present, transactions for everyone to see their progress. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - US Embassy statement, Philippine response


AUGUST 16 -US Embassy: Comments vs Goldberg unacceptable | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com
The public is wondering how our government will respond or react to the statement issued on Friday, August 12, by the United States embassy in Manila, in which it expressed a number of concerns about certain statements made by President Duterte and the phenomenon of extrajudicial killings in the prosecution of the administration’s war on drugs. Before saying anything, our government must carefully take note that it is an embassy statement, not a statement of the US Department of State, which would make it an entirely different thing. The US State Department, which is the equivalent of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, usually comments only on big-picture issues affecting US ties with other countries. So it is best at this point to treat the embassy statement as an expression of the concerns of the current embassy officials in the country, instead of one encompassing the whole of the Philippines’ highly important relationship with the US. This is not to suggest that the matter should be taken lightly or dismissed. This is to counsel our government to treat this matter seriously and fashion its response thoughtfully and surely. The message from the US Embassy should be treated with understanding, because the statement comes from responsible officials of a government that is a close ally and partner of our country. Both the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President should study the statement carefully and then frame a sound response. The embassy statement is notable for being punctilious and bare of bombast. It is terse, consisting of only four paragraphs. It studiously avoids mentioning President Duterte by name; although it is crystal clear that the comments that provoked the US embassy to react were made by the incumbent President of the Philippines. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Francisco Tatad - Not too late to apologize to Goldberg and the US
[Robredo has her own play, too. While DU30 remains non-apologetic on this incident, Vice President Leni Robredo is getting a lot of wooing from the old Hyatt-10 and BS Aquino 3rd crowd, and also from some outsiders trying to connect her to some interventionist governments. They clearly want to play the Vice President’s card, and despite her newfound relationship with the President, she may not be able to resist the temptation of being played. For now, these are mostly local players with limited capabilities. But powerful external actors could weigh in, if DU30 does not watch out. This is one reason why DU30 may find it in his self-interest to apologize to Goldberg, the US government and the LGBT community, even at this late stage.]


AUGUST 16 -BY FRANCISCO TATAD Just as he had apologized to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for using harsh words in a recent exchange with her, President Rodrigo Duterte could gain some goodwill if he were to apologize to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, the US government and the LGBT community for referring to him as “gay…son of a bitch.” The imprecation (for that’s what it was) has no place in the language of governments, especially between two friendly governments; it is not just politically incorrect, it makes for “hate speech.” The remark was offensive not only to the ambassador and his government, but even to his LGBT supporters. Assuming Goldberg is gay, and so many people around the world are proud to proclaim they are, his sexual orientation is of no concern to the Philippine government, especially after it has accredited and received him, for what and who he is, as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States. Not even the intrusive, not always responsible, tabloid press has poked its nose into it. The Blair case In the ‘60s, at the beginning of the Vietnam war, I. P. Soliongco, the acknowledged dean of Filipino columnists, writing for the Manila Chronicle, wrote a blistering column entitled, “The Androgynous William Blair,” referring to US Ambassador William McCormick Blair, Jr., a distinguished diplomat who belonged to the inner social set of Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy and traced his intellectual roots to that of Adlai Stevenson. Blair made many friends in the Philippines and had a successful career, which continued long after his posting here; he passed on in the US at the age of 98 on Aug. 25, 2015. Soliongco’s rhetorical piece was framed within the raging Vietnam war debate, where I. P. and his formidable Chronicle colleagues (Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, Ernesto Granada, Ernesto del Rosario) took staunchly nationalist positions on the issues of the day; it was not merely a rude attempt to call the US ambassador names. Apparently Blair recognized the piece for what it was, and, as far as memory serves, took no offense at the editorial piece. It was not unusual in those days for the US ambassador to be burned in effigy in anti-war demonstrations in front of the embassy and other public places. A different world The global environment has changed since. In the US, the Supreme Court has legalized “same-sex marriage.” Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, is trying to bring down the level of his countrymen’s devotion to political correctness, but his chances of success seem rather limited. In Sweden in 2005, Protestant Pastor Ake Green was jailed for one month for preaching a sermon on homosexuality two years earlier, based solely on passages from Scripture. He simply asked the question, “Is Homosexuality Genetic or an Evil Force that Plays Mind Games with People?” He did not call for any action against practicing homosexuals at all. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

On the Marcos issue, media and the academe have failed us


BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

MANILA, AUGUST 22, 2016 (MANILA TIMES) BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO ON AUGUST 15, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY - One big reason why we still have to suffer this debate over Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is that the two institutions tasked by society to enlighten a nation — media and the academe — have totally abdicated their duties to do so.

As a result, we probably have more established facts concerning the 1898 Philippine Revolution than the 1972-1986 Martial Law era, which everybody — whether pro-or anti-Marcos — agrees has been a watershed in our nation’s history. What we have are partisan narratives, with the dominant one being that of the Aquino clan’s Yellow yarns.

An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday, which has been both a rabidly anti-Marcos and pro-Aquino newspaper, is a clear illustration of this problem.

The paper yesterday had a one-page, 2,500-word article entitled “What happened to the Marcos millions?” It was bylined Helen N. Mendoza, whom the newspaper described as a “PhD, a retired University of the Philippines professor who studied in the United States, Norway, Germany and England.”

Initially, I was pleasantly surprised that an academic was finally doing research on the Marcos era, and the piece even had an impressive table on exactly what “Marcos billions” consisted of.

Upon closer reading, though, the entire piece verged on plagiarism, as everything on it was lifted from a 4,000-word story by Nick Davies in the May 7, 2016 edition of the London-based The Guardian.

READ MORE...

The only input Mendoza had in “her” 2,200-word Inquirer article was the opening paragraph, in which she explained that she adopted the title of Davies’ article for her piece. “Here are some of his findings,” she said, and went on with cutting-and-pasting Davies’ words.


How local media copies foreign media. Above, from the UK’s The Guardian, May 7, 2016; below, PDI, Aug. 14, 2016.

Everything in her piece was from Davies, and there weren’t even quotation marks at all in the entire piece to denote borrowed quotes lifted directly from The Guardian. There was no attempt at all on Mendoza’s part to comment on The Guardian piece, or to verify the British author’s assertions.

In many parts of her article the author was even too lazy to rephrase Davies’ words. One example, a description of Malacañang after Marcos fled:

The Guardian’s Davies: There, they could see the signs of hasty flight: food still warm on the dining table, empty boxes, papers scattered on the floor, shredding machines stuffed with more paper.

Inquirer’s Mendoza: There were signs of hasty departure: food still warm on the table, empty boxes and papers scattered about, shredding machine stuffed with paper.

Near-plagiarism

Mendoza’s near-plagiarism encapsulates what has been terribly wrong in the media’s narrative of the Marcos era.

Most of these accounts — especially the books on Martial Law — were written mostly by American authors, who were clearly following the US State Department’s propaganda line, formulated really as a campaign spiel to portray Marcos as the Devil Incarnate in the 1986 snap elections in order to counter the strongman’s pitch that Cory was just a housewife and would be disastrous for the country.

Not a few were written by paperback writers wanting to cash in on the sudden American interest in the Philippines after Marcos’ fall, and Imelda’s “thousands of shoes.”

Local media simply imbibed, even copied, such biased narratives, with hardly a critical, analytical stance.

One example of this was American historian Alfred McCoy’s repeated claims that the human rights abuses during the Marcos regime were worse than those in the infamous Latin American dictatorships, since, as he wrote, “Marcos’ tally of 3,257 killed exceeds those under the Brazilian and Chilean dictatorships.”

That number, 3,257, has become the most often used figure to allege the ruthlessness of the Marcos rule. Even a columnist in this paper, a PhD, wrote a piece on that figure, entitled “3,257: Fact-checking the Marcos killings, 1975-1985,” and dramatically concluded: “3,257 is a number that chills the blood.”

I checked the figures myself and found McCoy to have cited highly suspect figures as these were churned out by what had been a front of the Communist Party. McCoy also double-counted figures, by adding those reported by another — more biased — source.

But worse actually is Kessler coming up with his figures, in order to show that human rights violations during the Aquino era was really “at least as bad as it had been under Marcos.”

Editors of all broadsheets were also journalists who lost their jobs and high social prestige when Marcos closed down the press in 1972 — and naturally would hate the dictator. That quote from the famous philosopher of history, E.H. Carr, is applicable in the case of Philippine journalists: “Study the historian before you begin to study the fact.”

Journalists, however, may be forgiven, as they have deadlines, they don’t have the luxury of time to do research, and they don’t have a choice but to quote people who make claims, even if these are biased partisans.

The people who should be lynched are our academicians whose professions could have given us a solid, objective assessment of Marcos and his Martial Law era. A case in point is the Ateneo de Manila University, which has been at the propaganda vanguard of condemning that era as the Dark Ages, that the strongman’s son Bongbong shouldn’t be allowed to become the vice president and his father’s corpse shouldn’t be buried at the Libingan.

Nothing after three decades

But has its department of history done any research so that they could claim their virulent stand against Marcos was based on a scholarly study?

Nothing. Zero.

In the three decades since Marcos fell, the Ateneo has not produced a single piece of scholarship that would contribute to our balanced assessment of the Martial Law era, which its president during those years, Fr. Joe Cruz, enthusiastically supported.

Yet, they have been sending the message that since they are academics, they have studied objectively the Marcos era.

(Ironically, the only book that has come out of the academe, from the University of the Philippines , on the Martial Law era has been economist Gerardo Sicat’s paean for the strongman’s economic czar, Cesar Virata.)


The only book on the Martial Law era coming out of UP: Sicat’s paean to Marcos’ economic czar, Cesar Virata.

The research of its 34-member faculty consists of such things as “manga comics during the Japanese occupation,” “Jesuit linguistic battles from 1898-1932, “Spirit beliefs among 18th century Aeta and Ilongots,” “American schoolbooks in Philippine classrooms,” “Kempetai in the Philippines,” and “Engkuwentro: Kayaw contra digmaang-galrea, 1565-1571” (whatever that is).

Do these historians think that it is below them to do research on the Plaza Miranda bombing, the fiction of the Jabidah massacre, the coconut industry’s role in the Muslim rebellion, the Communist Party of the Philippines’ support from China, or the role of the global debt crisis on Marcos’ fall?

What Aguinaldo ate for breakfast, how much Mabini loved carabao milk, what Rizal’s physical dimensions were — the kind of historical research the Ateneo seems to prefer — certainly make for fascinating read over morning coffee.

These are, however, irrelevant to our understanding of our nation, These are as useful in understanding, say, the past Aquino 3rd administration, by finding out what his cigarette brand or favorite X-box game were. This kind of “history” writing is the equivalent of columns in a newspapers’ entertainment section.

Carr had pointed out in his “What is History,” a textbook I read in my history class at the Ateneo: “The function of the historian is neither to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present.”

Not only our historians at the Ateneo, but those at UP and La Salle should re-read Carr. The dearth of our historical understanding of the post-war years, especially of the Marcos era, explains a lot of why we are lost in the community of nations unable to find our national soul.

Indeed, the sickness of our nation runs through every institution in the country.

Our academic community’s failure explains why many can’t see how preposterous it is to refuse the burial in the armed forces’ national cemetery of the remains of somebody who served as President, an Army major, and a Bataan Death March victim — facts of history even anti-Marcos scholars do not question.

Aquino’s bitch given military honors

How short our memories are!

The following news account encapsulates how ridiculous the brouhaha over Marcos burial at the Libingan is.


tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

The tragic tale of the Marcos loot ‘discoverer’ BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO ON AUGUST 16, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

Fact-checking the London-based The Guardian’s May 2016 article, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?” which I mentioned in my column on Monday, led me to a facet of the post-EDSA history that isn’t exactly inspiring.

The Guardian piece referred to a “young civil servant named Chito Roque,” who purportedly, in the wee hours of Feb. 26, 1986 after Marcos fled Malacañang, unlocked a steel safe in the dictator’s quarters, and found inside what would be documents that proved or pointed to the loot Marcos amassed in his 20-year rule.

Chito Roque, or “Potenciano Roque,” wasn’t a civil servant but a small businessman, an activist in Agapito “Butz” Aquino’s “August 21 Movement (ATOM).”

That Roque found the documents after unlocking the safe — the combination of which he said was pasted on the safe’s door — was based entirely on his sworn statement.

Cory Aquino’s executive secretary then, the late senator Joker Arroyo — who was with Roque and Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin, Jr. in Malacañang that night — many years later, in 2011, reported that while he did not see Roque opening the safe, he indeed gave him that early morning a black bag containing documents from the safe, according to the activist.

Arroyo didn’t consider the bag of any importance, and turned it over only several days later to Jovito Salonga, chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government. Arroyo said in 2011 that after Salonga pored over the documents, it turned out to be a breakthrough in terms of unearthing Marcos’ hidden wealth. Arroyo practically said that Roque was the discoverer of Marcos’ wealth: “It was a gold mine. That’s what it was,” Arroyo said. “Nobody knew about the ill-gotten wealth.”

The Guardian’s reference to Roque ended there. It is astonishing that for such a deed – securing documents that would lead to the discovery of millions of dollars in Marcos’ and his cronies’ hidden loot – Roque had not been hailed and honored as an EDSA hero. I myself had not heard of him until I read the Guardian article.

EDSA-I turned out to be the beginning of Roque’s nightmare.


Forgotten: A 1990 US report on a testimony that a package of diamonds was given to Cory.

Cory appointed him in March 1986 as head of her powerful Task Force Anti-Gambling, headquartered in Malacañang itself and assigned the gargantuan task of eradicating jueteng in the country. His appointment to head the Task Force had raised eyebrows: Roque wasn’t a lawyer, didn’t have any background in law enforcement or intelligence gathering and was a small businessman all his working life.

Star witness vs jueteng

Three years later, Roque was out of Malacañang. He came back to public view only in 1995, when Congressman Roilo Golez presented him in Congress as a star witness in an investigation on the proliferation of jueteng, the illegal numbers game in the country. Among those Roque alleged as jueteng lords were Rosario Magbuhos, who, he said, controlled gambling in southern Luzon, and Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda (husband of Pampanga governor Lilia Pineda) for Central Luzon.

However, in his testimony, Roque admitted that he had accepted bribes from the top 25 jueteng bosses, including Magbuhos and Pineda, amounting to P43 million monthly from June 1986 to October 1989.” If anyone fell (behind in their “payments”) he recalled, “I would order … the jueteng operators’ joints raided even if the payment was only delayed [by]two or three days,” he testified.

What was explosive in Roque’s testimony was his claim that much of the money was used by the Aquino administration to fund counter-moves against the seven coup attempts against it. He claimed the jueteng money was given to and distributed for such purposes by a top politician, whom he didn’t identify. However, American scholar Alfred McCoy alleged in his book “Policing America’s Empire: The United States, The Philippines, and The Rise of the Surveillance State,” that based on subsequent revelations by other politicians, the politician referred to by Roque was Cory’s brother Jose “Peping” Cojuangco. The veteran Tarlac politician had vehemently denied such allegations.

Roque became a figure despised by the Yellow Cult, which had been powerful at that time. Indeed, I never found columnist Randy David — an amiable person who very seldom writes angrily against somebody, except against Marcos and Gloria Arroyo — as fuming against anyone as he was against Roque in his piece on Dec. 10, 1995.

A peek from David’s column: “His (Roque’s) credibility is in tatters… his overall appearance is that of someone who has not cared to look after himself in a long time…. He was supposedly one of Cory’s special security aides, but the former president hardly remembers him… Roque is reportedly separated from his wife… He was addicted to pain killers like Demerol…. Chito Roque is, in fact, dying from bone cancer.”

A box of diamonds

Roque actually made stronger accusations against Cory much earlier.

The US government presented Roque as a witness in its racketeering charge against Imelda Marcos in 1990 at the New York Federal District Court.

Aside from confirming that it was he who found the incriminating documents against Marcos in 1986, Roque testified, to everyone’s shock, that he gave Cory “a box of Imelda’s diamonds,” which he said he recovered from Malacañang. He didn’t explain, though, why he gave the diamonds to Cory and the documents to Arroyo, the President’s most trusted aide at that time.

There is no report that Cory surrendered such diamonds. If she handed them over to the PCGG, indeed, that would have been big front-page news. She had not commented on Roque’s allegation.

Roque’s testimony was not reported by the local media at the time. The allegation about Imelda’s diamonds being turned over to Cory would be raised again only in October 2005. That was when PCGG Chairman Ricardo Abcede reported that he “received a transcript of a racketeering case against Imelda Marcos in a New York court in 1995, which quoted a certain Potenciano Roque as saying that he gave Corazon Aquino a box of diamonds, which was recovered from Malacañang.”

“The PCGG never received that box of diamonds,” Abcede declared. He said he plans to call Cory to the PCGG to deny or confirm the allegation. Abcede never did. (He died in 2012.)

Roque disappeared from history, or from the news pages, after that testimony. Golez says he has lost all contact with him since 20 years ago. Roque’s brother-in-law, Alex Padilla, has also never heard of him since. If he is still alive I hope he writes me to comment on this column.

I find Roque’s claim that he unlocked Marcos’ safe incredible. How stupid could the strongman, who was smart enough to have stayed in power from 1965 to 1985 be to, first, put the safe’s combination pasted on its door and second, to put inside that safe his most confidential documents? How did a low-ranking “Atom” activist get to be transported by helicopter from Malacañang to join Arroyo and Locsin — Cory’s most trusted officials at that time — in inspecting Marcos’ private quarters right after he fled? Why would a yellow activist claim under oath that he gave a box of Imelda diamonds to the Yellow Cult’s saint?

Could Roque have been an agent of a foreign (ahem) power that assigned him to provide Cory’s government with the documents that condemned Marcos, and then to tempt Cory with the diamonds, so it could blackmail her?

I have been wondering why former President BS Aquino harbored such deep anger toward President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that he had been consumed by the desire to jail her, at the expense of so much political capital and time spent in its pursuit.

Could it be that his mother thought that President Arroyo had ordered Abcede to publicize Roque’s allegation that he gave Imelda’s diamonds to Cory, and thus she and her son became furiously mad at the President that they went all out against her administration?

But alas, we may never find out the truth. Journalists can only raise questions, especially those that prick at the narratives created by the ruling elite. Our historians have been sleeping on their jobs.


Do we still obey the Ten Commandments? BY RICARDO SALUDO ON AUGUST 20, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


BY RICARDO SALUDO

Before we chorus “Of course!” consider the recent news we may have read or watched.

A former secretary of Justice and incumbent senator is accused of having an affair with her married driver and using him as bagman for drug money solicited for her election campaign.

So, either she is violating the Sixth Commandment against adultery, the Seventh against stealing (since corruption is theft), and the Eighth against falsehood (since betrayal of public trust in government officials is dishonesty).

Or her accusers, including the highest official in the land, is breaking the Eighth.

Law enforcers and so-called vigilante groups, along with drug syndicates, have allegedly killed more than 1,500 suspects, the latter two assailant groups with no legal authority, and the police with utterly impossible claims that most of the hundreds who ended up dead fought back.

So there goes the Fifth Commandment.

Now, picture and replay the last ads you saw, heard or read. The ones enticing you to buy the latest, the finest, the priciest.

And those that get your gaze with some scantily clad, suggestively gesturing models. Plus commercials promising more pesos for your centavos. These are pretty much all the kinds of ads we see these days.

That’s our covetous culture, stirring desires for money, sex, luxury, status and other worldly wishes. The very coveting forbidden by the Ninth and Tenth Commandments.

As for the First, Second and Third, well, God’s near-absence in our daily thinking, feeling, and living shows how we have other gods besides the Lord our God, how much we take His name in vain, and what lack of holiness pervades pretty much every day in the week, with many of the baptized not even willing to set aside an hour, let alone a day, to keep holy.

In this world where Ten Commandments are broken everywhere and everytime, it seems a hopeless, even mindless undertaking to heed heaven’s dos and don’ts. Why bother when so few do, and many, if not most, don’t.

And with worldly enticements and social pressures to dismiss the Decalogue, including the disdain of family and friends who resent being reminded of the ten tenets of right and wrong, it’s hard not to think that it’s normal and acceptable to disobey.

Thus, the devil succeeds in convincing us that there’s no way humanity can win against our sinfulness, that’s understandable and forgivable to break commandments here and there, and for all our striving with God’s grace, our bit of sanctity dissolves in the sea of sins engulfing our world.

READ MORE...

So we give up the struggle for goodness and right, and just plead for divine forgiveness— a defeatist stance which Pope Francis’ paramount advocacy for God’s boundless mercy may buttress, though he certainly doesn’t intend it.

Repairing the broken tablets

For many a believer surrounded by unbelief and disobedience, from one’s own family to the world at large, what’s he or she to do?

Many probably feel like Moses, who threw down the Ten Commandments etched by God Himself, breaking the two stone tablets. Anger and dismay over the widespread and entrenched disregard for the Divine is a start, and Moses then admonished the Israelites, even as he made new tablets with the Decalogue for all to read and heed.

Certainly, the influential and powerful among us may crack the whip. In his well-meaning but flawed way, President Rodrigo Duterte is raging and charging to cleanse the country of lawlessness, corruption and drugs that enslave the will and distort minds and morals.

For ordinary believers, though, taking the pulpit and calling down fire and brimstone isn’t an option. Rather, we work within our much smaller circles of influence, which may be just down to ourselves and our home, our workplace, our church, and our community.

And that’s plenty — when laced with God’s grace.

In fact, what can often make a difference in reviving religiosity and morals, especially in Asia, is the Fourth Commandment.

For in our filial region of Asia, that’s one divine edict that most people find hard to break. We revere and listen to our elders.

So parents, teachers, bosses, leaders and other authority figures can lead the people looking up to them back to God, as Moses did to the Israelites.

Problem is many dads, moms and chiefs are either reluctant to espouse age-old beliefs and morals disdained in our time, or they themselves disbelieve and disobey. Then they can hardly put the broken tablets back together and get others to believe and obey.

How many parents just let their teenage children, and even young kids, have their way even if it’s not God’s way?

If they don’t care to go to mass, we let them. If they ask for things they don’t need just because their friends have them, we buy the stuff. And when they frown at being told why they should or should not give time and attention to corrupting media, we just stop bothering with what they watch, listen to, download and play.

And that happens not just between parents and children at home, but even superiors and subordinates at work, and leaders and citizens in the body politic, especially where liberal democratic thinking advocates letting people do as they please.
It’s a free country; everyone can do as he pleases — not as heaven wishes.

It’s high time those who believe and live by the Ten Commandments conveyed God’s will by word and example, starting with the souls they father, mother, boss or lead.

In today’s mass readings, Saint Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews admonishes: “Brothers and sisters, you have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children: ‘My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines … it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.’”

Let’s deliver that same message to those entrusted by God to our care and teaching. We are responsible for their souls. Amen.


EDITORIAL: For a corruption-free society BY MANILA TIMES ON AUGUST 15, 2016 EDITORIAL

WELL before taking charge of the nation, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded his Cabinet of a supreme requirement: his administration would not be tainted with corruption.

The President’s determination has given most Filipinos a great measure of hope, as did the other daunting task he has taken up as priority—bringing an end to the drug menace that has been destroying the lives of many people and the family as a unit.

His unorthodox method for freeing society from the clutches of the drug lords is, of course, not acceptable to many, particularly the armchair moralistas and human right activists; but he seems to have gained the sympathy of the vast majority of the common tao.

Ask any taxi driver, or any man on the street, and you’d have a better understanding of the generally positive mood.

On the corruption front, the President has specifically cited the Bureau of Internal Revenue as one known to be corrupt and the Bureau of Customs where, he said, employees earn huge amount of bribes, which make their salaries look more like an allowance.

Thus, soon after coming to office, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has moved to introduce what he calls “freedom of information” about past, as well as present, transactions for everyone to see their progress.

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Such novel initiatives are admirable as they could improve the operating efficiency of the departments. However, it may not really eradicate corruption.

Corruption thrives even in efficient bureaucracies, because it is rooted in greed, to which most people are vulnerable.

Therefore, it calls for a lot more than the initiative that the finance secretary has shown. We need a well thought-out, long lasting society-wide—not just bureaucracy-wide—program that will combine both punitive actions and an educational program for reforming the general mindset across the society, particularly in the corporate world—the main bribe giver—and also in the media. We cannot hope for a clean government if all other segments of society remain corrupt.

In every instance of bribery, there is a giver and a taker. Both are equally guilty of the crime; therefore, both must be brought to justice in a fair and square manner. For that, we need a good anti-corruption ordinance that will clearly define the rules for investigation and trial.

The law must also define the distinction between a bribe and a gift. When a wealthy man offers his executive jet for the personal travel of a government official, a lawmaker, a politician, or their families, will it be considered a no-strings-attached favor or a bribe disguised as generosity?

In court trials, the common law treats a person innocent until proven guilty; but this should not be the guiding principle in corruption cases. Rather than the prosecution—in this case, the state—proving the accused guilty, the accused must bear the burden of proving innocence. The reason for it is simple: All bribes exchange hands in secrecy. There is no witness or paper trail to pin the suspect down.

Therefore, anyone in possession of wealth or leading a lifestyle beyond the means of legitimate income should be brought to court to explain it.

When found guilty, the bribe-giver must face the consequences of his action – the contract or license obtained from the government must be revoked and the corrupt must be dismissed from his employment.

The bribe-taker, too, must go to jail, with everything that could not be justified as part of legitimate earnings confiscated by the state.


US Embassy statement, Philippine response BY MANILA TIMES ON AUGUST 16, 2016 EDITORIAL


US Embassy: Comments vs Goldberg unacceptable | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

The public is wondering how our government will respond or react to the statement issued on Friday, August 12, by the United States embassy in Manila, in which it expressed a number of concerns about certain statements made by President Duterte and the phenomenon of extrajudicial killings in the prosecution of the administration’s war on drugs.

Before saying anything, our government must carefully take note that it is an embassy statement, not a statement of the US Department of State, which would make it an entirely different thing.

The US State Department, which is the equivalent of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, usually comments only on big-picture issues affecting US ties with other countries.

So it is best at this point to treat the embassy statement as an expression of the concerns of the current embassy officials in the country, instead of one encompassing the whole of the Philippines’ highly important relationship with the US.

This is not to suggest that the matter should be taken lightly or dismissed. This is to counsel our government to treat this matter seriously and fashion its response thoughtfully and surely.

The message from the US Embassy should be treated with understanding, because the statement comes from responsible officials of a government that is a close ally and partner of our country.

Both the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President should study the statement carefully and then frame a sound response.

The embassy statement is notable for being punctilious and bare of bombast. It is terse, consisting of only four paragraphs. It studiously avoids mentioning President Duterte by name; although it is crystal clear that the comments that provoked the US embassy to react were made by the incumbent President of the Philippines.

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In the statement, the US Embassy raised three issues pertaining to the President and our bilateral relations:

First, our President calling US Ambassador Philip Goldberg “gay” and a “son of a bitch;”

Second, our President characterizing the recent US pledge of $32 million for law enforcement assistance as a way of making amends to the Philippines; and

Third, the reports of hundreds of extrajudicial killings in the country as a result of the President’s war on drugs.

The statement ended with an affirmation of the importance of the bilateral relationship between the US and the Philippines.

We think the response of our government, if it deigns to make a statement in reply, should be similarly concise, to the point and courteous.

If an explanatory statement or diplomacy will suffice to assuage ruffled feelings, this should be done.

Very important also is what the Duterte administration will take away from this awkward business.

The mature view is to remember that our country today serves a strategic and important role in the Asia-Pacific region; and our economy today, because of its recent dynamism, enjoys a very fruitful relationship with many nations and many foreign investors.

This is important to the national future, and it should not be compromised by careless speech and less than correct policy setting.


Not too late to apologize to Goldberg and the US BY FRANCISCO TATAD ON AUGUST 16, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


BY FRANCISCO TATAD

Just as he had apologized to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno for using harsh words in a recent exchange with her, President Rodrigo Duterte could gain some goodwill if he were to apologize to US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, the US government and the LGBT community for referring to him as “gay…son of a bitch.” The imprecation (for that’s what it was) has no place in the language of governments, especially between two friendly governments; it is not just politically incorrect, it makes for “hate speech.” The remark was offensive not only to the ambassador and his government, but even to his LGBT supporters.

Assuming Goldberg is gay, and so many people around the world are proud to proclaim they are, his sexual orientation is of no concern to the Philippine government, especially after it has accredited and received him, for what and who he is, as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States. Not even the intrusive, not always responsible, tabloid press has poked its nose into it.

The Blair case

In the ‘60s, at the beginning of the Vietnam war, I. P. Soliongco, the acknowledged dean of Filipino columnists, writing for the Manila Chronicle, wrote a blistering column entitled, “The Androgynous William Blair,” referring to US Ambassador William McCormick Blair, Jr., a distinguished diplomat who belonged to the inner social set of Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy and traced his intellectual roots to that of Adlai Stevenson. Blair made many friends in the Philippines and had a successful career, which continued long after his posting here; he passed on in the US at the age of 98 on Aug. 25, 2015.

Soliongco’s rhetorical piece was framed within the raging Vietnam war debate, where I. P. and his formidable Chronicle colleagues (Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, Ernesto Granada, Ernesto del Rosario) took staunchly nationalist positions on the issues of the day; it was not merely a rude attempt to call the US ambassador names. Apparently Blair recognized the piece for what it was, and, as far as memory serves, took no offense at the editorial piece. It was not unusual in those days for the US ambassador to be burned in effigy in anti-war demonstrations in front of the embassy and other public places.

A different world

The global environment has changed since. In the US, the Supreme Court has legalized “same-sex marriage.” Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, is trying to bring down the level of his countrymen’s devotion to political correctness, but his chances of success seem rather limited. In Sweden in 2005, Protestant Pastor Ake Green was jailed for one month for preaching a sermon on homosexuality two years earlier, based solely on passages from Scripture. He simply asked the question, “Is Homosexuality Genetic or an Evil Force that Plays Mind Games with People?” He did not call for any action against practicing homosexuals at all.

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But he was prosecuted under a Swedish law, which prohibits expression of “disrespect toward favored minority groups.” He won his case on appeal, but the prosecution appealed the case further to the Supreme Court asking for a longer sentence. On my last visit to Europe not too long ago, I saw the pastor’s predicament: one senior minister I met in Germany was living and socializing openly with his partner of the same sex, with the full approval of his Cabinet colleagues, the diplomatic corps, the media and the public.

In Manila, US Ambassador Harry Thomas started hosting Gay Pride receptions and displaying LGBT banners within the US Embassy premises during his watch. These appear to have become part of the Embassy’s regular diplomatic functions, and Goldberg may have hosted some of them. The LGBT community as such has grown not only in civil society but also in government, including the armed forces and the police. The House of Representatives has its first transgender member sitting, and turning heads, in the present Congress. The LGBT presence is probably strongest in show business, entertainment, social media and the mainstream press.

The phenomenon is worldwide. And public reaction varies from place to place.

On June 12, this year, in Orlando, Florida, a 29-year-old security guard killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub, a place frequented by the LGBT crowd. The attack prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief and condolences for the victims and condemnations for the terrorist and ISIS. American politicians of every color and creed tried to be heard on the carnage, but the strongest criticisms ran against those who, while condemning the terrorist attack, were not sufficiently outraged that the victims were killed because they were gays. A couple of days ago, a Protestant pastor in Orlando was brought to court for allegedly expressing relief (joy) that 49 “pedophiles” had been eliminated.

What DU30 and Yasay must grasp

This is the kind of environment PDU30 has to contend with when he says he will not apologize for his unrepeatable remarks against Goldberg. This is also what Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. fails to appreciate. DU30 may dismiss it as a minor thing, which the State Department has decided to shove under the rug, but that could be a mistake. In politics, national or international, one can sometimes forgive everything else except the minor injuries. We saw this in the case of Marcos and Erap Estrada in their last days in office.

Washington’s real problem with Marcos had to do with the bases. The Americans wanted the term extended after the expiration of the bases agreement in 1991. But they could not get any indication that Marcos would agree to it, having caused the same agreement to be shortened in 1966 from the original 99 years to the next 25 years. They could not openly attack him for this, since he was merely upholding a sovereign agreement, to which the US had earlier fully consented. They had to exploit other issues.

What happened to Marcos and Erap

While casting around for other issues, certain rumors were heard about one senior US diplomat allegedly having an affair with a former international beauty queen. These rumors were traced to chattering sources at the Palace. Former Secretary of State George Shultz fails to mention these in his Memoir (Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State), which contains an interesting chapter on the last days of Marcos; but these obviously helped to hasten the erosion of the embassy’s support for the President.

Something else happened to Estrada. As a senator Estrada had voted against Cory Aquino’s treaty extending the bases agreement by another 10 years. When he ran for and became President he had a solid mass base that refused to recognize his inherent and most obvious defects as a candidate, and as head of State. His personal excesses scandalized the diplomatic community, but because of his perceived popularity with the masses, none of them dared criticize him in public.

But the turning point came when US President Clinton sent Erap a written request, handcarried by Defense Secretary William Cohen, that he suspend his “all-out war” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, because an American had walked into the MILF camp and been taken hostage. Erap read the letter, but told Cohen it was too late—he had already issued the order and could no longer recall it. Cohen asked if Erap could at least speak to Clinton on the phone and explain the situation to him in person. Erap said there was no point, since he could no longer do anything about it. This was something nobody ever did to the President of the most powerful nation on earth.

These “minor injuries” had unimaginable consequences. Marcos was eventually ousted by a civilian- and US-backed military coup, which installed Cory Aquino as revolutionary President; Estrada was similarly ousted in a judicially assisted coup after a botched Senate impeachment trial, which installed his Vice President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in his place. In the Goldberg incident, the injury may not be as small as DU30 and Yasay seem to think it is; it could precipitate unforeseen consequences.

Don’t mess with this diplomat

Last week, the State Department summoned Patrick Chuasoto, Charge d’Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, to explain DU30’s “inappropriate” remarks. The Press Director of the State Department issued a press statement showing the US government’s concern about the whole incident. Goldberg, according to the spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau, “is a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior diplomats.”

What did the Charge say to the State Department? And what did the head of the Philippine Desk or someone higher say to the Charge? Nothing about their conversation has so far been reported. But the Charge could not have done much better than the Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, when he was grilled by Al Jazeera’s news anchor Mehdi Hasan on PDU30’s “true intention” in saying the various things he has been saying to the press and the public.

Misreading the State Department

I raised this matter with Yasay during a Roundtable conference at The Manila Times on Monday morning, but he appeared confident that the Goldberg incident had been laid to rest by the Charge’s appearance at the State Department. Nothing more has been heard from the State Department, he said; no need to belabor the point. I do not share that confidence.

In Marcos’ time, I heard no complaints from the State Department against rumor-mongering from inside the Palace about the alleged womanizing by some senior US diplomats. (I had left the Cabinet by then, and had heard about the Palace rumors, but nothing about any reaction from the State Department.) Neither did I hear anything from the State Department or the Pentagon after Erap had refused to talk to Clinton on the telephone about his all-out war against the MILF. I was a senator then and was present in Malacanang when Cohen delivered Clinton’s letter and Erap read it. But the lack of official State reaction in either case failed to prove that all was well. Quite the contrary.

DU30’s rude remark about Goldberg is now in the public domain, and will probably remain there for so long as it is not formally withdrawn or amended.

Meanwhile, Goldberg is scheduled to leave Manila soon for his next assignment. He will be succeeded by a professional Asian-American diplomat who is an old hand in North Korean affairs. DU30 should pray that Goldberg is not assigned in a post where he could make important decision calls on US policies or programs affecting the Manila government. He cannot possibly expect any favors from Goldberg.

Robredo has her own play, too

While DU30 remains non-apologetic on this incident, Vice President Leni Robredo is getting a lot of wooing from the old Hyatt-10 and BS Aquino 3rd crowd, and also from some outsiders trying to connect her to some interventionist governments. They clearly want to play the Vice President’s card, and despite her newfound relationship with the President, she may not be able to resist the temptation of being played. For now, these are mostly local players with limited capabilities. But powerful external actors could weigh in, if DU30 does not watch out. This is one reason why DU30 may find it in his self-interest to apologize to Goldberg, the US government and the LGBT community, even at this late stage.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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