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FROM THE INQUIRER

A LETTER TO THE INQUIRER EDITOR: 'CRAB' SWINGS INTO ACTION, TRIES TO PULL DOWN DU30's FRUITFUL CHINA MISSION


NOVEMBER 29 -Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, left, speaks as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, INQUIRER FILE The news report “Chinese company banned by World Bank bags PH infrastructure project” (News, 10/26/16) was quite predictable. In this Republic of Crab Mentality, it was no surprise that Duterte haters would pounce on the President as usual; and his very successful “sales mission” to China opened a window of opportunity for the “crabs.” Before that story came out, a nepotist’s son was already circulating on social media that business deals between Chinese and Filipino companies would be questionable; that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Clark Development Corp. have awarded the Subic-Clark railway project to Chinese company China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. without public bidding; that China Road and Bridge Road Corp. won the project to build part of the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit system without a project feasibility study; and that China Harbour and China Road are blacklisted by the World Bank allegedly because of their questionable practices in the past. READ MORE...

ALSO: By Christopher Ryan Maboloc - Marcos rising from the grave


NOVEMBER 30 -LNMB-WIKIPEDIA
We Filipinos have a problem with our collective memory. We are not, and have never been, one nation—our daily struggles have never really been in pursuit of a common sense of identity. This is the unmistakable reason why our past continues to haunt us to this very day. Difficult as it may seem, the burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not so much a question of whether or not the late dictator was a hero. Heroism has no meaning to plunderers. The burial was simply a reaffirmation that in this country, it is power, not historical truth, that dictates so masterfully the destiny of men. There is no mystery here that is yet to be unlocked. This is not the story of Dionysius who was sent away from his godly throne so that he will realize what it can mean to possess a human character. This only highlights the already obvious tragedy of everyday life for ordinary Filipinos. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Undermining Senate


NOVEMBER 30 -THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PHILIPPINES
The conduct of the legislators who spent considerable time and substantial government resources prying into the private relationships of Sen. Leila de Lima looks even worse when viewed from the prism of Bonifacio Day. Is this behavior—boorish, patronizing, profoundly upsetting—the kind of freedom Andres Bonifacio, his fellow Katipuneros and the revolutionaries who rose against Spain fought for? The idea that the House of Representatives needed to spend several hours to determine the exact nature of De Lima’s relationship with Ronnie Dayan is an insult to common sense; the fact could have easily been determined by a competent investigator in a matter of minutes, following the usual protocols, away from the public eye. But notoriety, of course, was the true objective of the hearing. All the talk about what the erstwhile couple called each other, or the level of intensity of their relationship, was meant to add to the Duterte administration’s orchestrated campaign to turn De Lima into a villain. READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Death for Christmas Philippine
(The wider scope of the proposed law [Death Penalty] , which now includes not only drug-related crimes, rape, and kidnapping for ransom but also treason, bribery and plunder, among others, will at first glance seem to answer one of the primary objections to capital punishment. The record proves that death row inmates are mostly poor convicts, especially those who cannot afford good counsel.)


DECEMBER 3 -All the Duterte administration and its allies in the House of Representatives want for Christmas is… the passage of a bill in Congress reimposing the death penalty. The other day, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez repeated his assertion that the consolidated version of the several death penalty bills pending in Congress, including House Bill No. 1, which he cofiled, will be approved on third reading before Congress goes on holiday on Dec. 16. “In other words,” opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman told reporters, “the message of the House leadership is: ‘Have a deadly Christmas.’” The irony is thick: Christmas is when humankind celebrates the birth of He-Who-Saves, and thus the beginning of a religion which teaches its adherents to “turn the other cheek” and which believes in the possibility of redemption. That possibility is a gift that applies to prostitutes and tax collectors, thieves and congressmen, alike. READ MORE...


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‘Crab’ swings into action, tries to pull down Du30’s fruitful China mission


NOVEMBER 29 -Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, left, speaks as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, INQUIRER FILE

MANILA, DECEMBER 5, 2016 (INQUIRER) 12:03 AM November 29, 2016 Letter from ROUVEL WRENN SANCHEZ, rouvelwrenn@yahoo.com  - The news report “Chinese company banned by World Bank bags PH infrastructure project” (News, 10/26/16) was quite predictable. In this Republic of Crab Mentality, it was no surprise that Duterte haters would pounce on the President as usual; and his very successful “sales mission” to China opened a window of opportunity for the “crabs.”

Before that story came out, a nepotist’s son was already circulating on social media that business deals between Chinese and Filipino companies would be questionable; that the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and the Clark Development Corp. have awarded the Subic-Clark railway project to Chinese company China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. without public bidding; that China Road and Bridge Road Corp. won the project to build part of the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit system without a project feasibility study; and that China Harbour and China Road are blacklisted by the World Bank allegedly because of their questionable practices in the past.

READ MORE...

In response to that news story, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) explained that the projects are just on the feasibility study stage; and what the cited companies entered into were merely memorandums of understanding (MOU) to conduct a feasibility study, not contracts to build.

The BCDA also clarified that the construction of the projects will depend on the result of the study, and if found feasible and viable, they still have to undergo a rigorous public bidding process to determine which companies will undertake the projects.

The attempt to ridicule President Duterte for the whopping $24-billion Chinese investments he took home was so lame because of ignorance. The “crab” obviously did not know the existence of the MOU. The next time he tries to torpedo administration projects, he better use his summa cum laude powers to get his facts straight.

ROUVEL WRENN SANCHEZ, rouvelwrenn@yahoo.com


Marcos rising from the grave By: Christopher Ryan Maboloc - @inquirerdotnet
01:08 AM November 30, 2016


LNMB,WIKIPEDIA

We Filipinos have a problem with our collective memory. We are not, and have never been, one nation—our daily struggles have never really been in pursuit of a common sense of identity. This is the unmistakable reason why our past continues to haunt us to this very day.

Difficult as it may seem, the burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not so much a question of whether or not the late dictator was a hero. Heroism has no meaning to plunderers. The burial was simply a reaffirmation that in this country, it is power, not historical truth, that dictates so masterfully the destiny of men.

There is no mystery here that is yet to be unlocked. This is not the story of Dionysius who was sent away from his godly throne so that he will realize what it can mean to possess a human character. This only highlights the already obvious tragedy of everyday life for ordinary Filipinos.

READ MORE...

Millions are slowly served their death sentences through hunger and homelessness. The exploitation of their powerless is apparent in the inability of a father to free his children from the bondage of poverty. But this and the future of his children have no meaning to most politicians. Yet, it is the children who bear most of the existential burden of the ill consequences of a corrupt regime.

And it is not as if we have a shortage of bright men and women; indeed what we lack is a sense of nationhood that must characterize the soul of a people. For instance, Filipinos right now are willing to burn bridges and destroy friendships in pursuit of an incendiary opinion, not realizing that it is the basic respect for another’s view that makes possible, in the first place, a person’s right to make his or her own.

There is no sense defending someone who does not even know you, and yet, people nowadays consider it as a matter of right not to be corrected, forgetting that above all else, in matters of justice, we have a fundamental responsibility for the truth.

But the times have not changed. Philippine society is still languishing from its colonial hangover. Our dark past continues to live in our present: Education remains a privilege for those who can afford it, while the poor farmer still struggles for land, and the factory worker has yet to find what decent living wages actually means.

In a democracy, social institutions are supposed to be the pedestals on which the public weal stands mighty supreme. But if our institutions turn a blind eye to a historical injustice, then there is not much to hope for in terms of freedom and equality.

We are, of course, a freedom-loving people. But this love of freedom is at the same time the very reason we cannot enjoy what it means to be free: Most of us lack discipline, and this is the one single reason this country has not been able to liberate itself from the deathly mask its colonial masters have cloaked its soul with. This is the root of the weakness of our society—a weakness that has allowed a situation wherein morality plays no significant role in the lives of many of our leaders.

Still, the Marcos narrative that is bedeviling us should not result in the death of our most cherished dreams. Democracy must not die because of a bad court judgment. Real democracy is founded in the power of ordinary individuals to persevere in their pursuit of truth and justice.

In the world of politics, everything is always possible, including the worst things happening to good people. But if we must rebuild this nation, then our true task at hand is to prevent Marcos from rising from his grave.

Christopher Ryan Maboloc teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. His latest scholarly publication is “On the ethical and democratic deficits of environmental pragmatism” in the Journal of Human Values.


Undermining Senate Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:17 AM November 30, 2016


THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PHILIPPINES


The conduct of the legislators who spent considerable time and substantial government resources prying into the private relationships of Sen. Leila de Lima looks even worse when viewed from the prism of Bonifacio Day. Is this behavior—boorish, patronizing, profoundly upsetting—the kind of freedom Andres Bonifacio, his fellow Katipuneros and the revolutionaries who rose against Spain fought for?

The idea that the House of Representatives needed to spend several hours to determine the exact nature of De Lima’s relationship with Ronnie Dayan is an insult to common sense; the fact could have easily been determined by a competent investigator in a matter of minutes, following the usual protocols, away from the public eye.

But notoriety, of course, was the true objective of the hearing. All the talk about what the erstwhile couple called each other, or the level of intensity of their relationship, was meant to add to the Duterte administration’s orchestrated campaign to turn De Lima into a villain.

READ MORE...

Even Dayan’s disclosure that De Lima had advised him to stay away from the congressional hearing was seized upon as proof incontrovertible that the former justice secretary had obstructed justice. Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto was quick to dismiss the idea, pointing out that the matter was subject to interpretation; De Lima herself has stood by her action, saying it was in fact mere “advice.”

Now the House has forced the issue—the majority leader, Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, and the chair of the justice committee, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, have served a show-cause order on De Lima. They have given her 72 hours to explain why she should not be cited by the House for contempt.

This act threatens to extend the hooting legislators’ coarsening of parliamentary culture to the Senate; it represents an unprecedented attempt to enforce one chamber’s priorities and political agenda on a member of the other chamber.

Last week, even before the show-cause order, three of De Lima’s colleagues in the Liberal Party called out the House of Representatives. “One House of Congress cannot proceed against a member of another house without violating the principles of co-equality and inter-chamber courtesy,” a statement released by Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, and Paolo Benigno Aquino said.

On Tuesday, on the same day the show-cause order was coursed through the office of the Senate secretary, Drilon aired his concerns. “I would want that the institution, the Senate President, and the institution should tackle it, should respond to it. This is not only the issue of Senator De Lima, this is an issue of the whole Senate as an institution,” he told reporters. “I would want it to be discussed either in a caucus or in the plenary in the Senate.”

The implications are as stark as they are clear. The Senate giving due course to the show-cause order means taking part in the undermining of the Senate as an institution—a worrying development, especially considering that the mode of changing the Constitution through the option known as the constituent assembly is now the preference of President Duterte and his allies in Congress.

The main stumbling block is the question of separate or joint voting; if the Senate agrees to the convening of Congress as a constituent assembly and signs off on joint voting, it will have made itself irrelevant in the Charter change debates.

The President’s own allies in the Senate may be tempted to fudge the issue and give the show-cause order due course—but they would be dragging their own institution closer to the precipice of irrelevance.

In their zealousness to target De Lima, the President’s political allies have proven themselves ready to risk the integrity even of the legislative branch of government. Risk-takers, but no heroes.


EDITORIAL - Death for Christmas Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:32 AM December 02, 2016

All the Duterte administration and its allies in the House of Representatives want for Christmas is… the passage of a bill in Congress reimposing the death penalty.

The other day, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez repeated his assertion that the consolidated version of the several death penalty bills pending in Congress, including House Bill No. 1, which he cofiled, will be approved on third reading before Congress goes on holiday on Dec. 16.

“In other words,” opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman told reporters, “the message of the House leadership is: ‘Have a deadly Christmas.’”

The irony is thick: Christmas is when humankind celebrates the birth of He-Who-Saves, and thus the beginning of a religion which teaches its adherents to “turn the other cheek” and which believes in the possibility of redemption.

That possibility is a gift that applies to prostitutes and tax collectors, thieves and congressmen, alike.

READ MORE...

To be sure, passage in the House does not make it law.

We might expect somewhat rougher sailing in the Senate, where multiple measures seeking the reimposition of capital punishment are also pending, but where the outcome is not yet preordained. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has not released a statement remotely resembling Alvarez’s disclosure, last October, of his control of his chamber. “I don’t know with the Senate, I don’t control it, but as far as the House is concerned, we will approve it before the Christmas break,” Alvarez said then.

As we have also argued in this space before, the “when” of a death penalty law is unclear but it will definitely take many months, perhaps years. Even if the law is enacted next year, say before the first session of the 17th Congress permanently adjourns, it will be a long time before an official execution can take place.

Judgment would have to make its way through the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court.

Remember that when the first capital punishment measure became law in 1993, it took six years before the first convict, Leo Echegaray, was put to death in the lethal injection chamber. What is the deterrent value of the death penalty then?

WIDENING SCOPE OF THE CRIME

HB 1 emphasizes this deterrent factor not only in widening the scope of heinous crimes, but also in suggesting three forms of execution: by hanging, by firing squad and by lethal injection.

Hanging has had a sordid history, and was among the first means discontinued by other countries; it is simply barbaric.

The dictator Ferdinand Marcos used the firing squad sparingly but to great effect. Indeed, what the return of these two older forms of execution means is that, under the Duterte administration, the public nature of the executions will become a factor yet again.

The wider scope of the proposed law, which now includes not only drug-related crimes, rape, and kidnapping for ransom but also treason, bribery and plunder, among others, will at first glance seem to answer one of the primary objections to capital punishment. The record proves that death row inmates are mostly poor convicts, especially those who cannot afford good counsel.

Surely plunder cannot be committed by the poor?

But that’s to assume that in fact the wider scope of heinous crimes will be retained. The House subcommittee that just voted on the death penalty bills this week, however, was split almost down the middle: Six members voted for a wider scope of application; five voted to limit the scope to drugs.

It will come as no surprise to us if the final version of the bill that the House will approve before the members go on holiday will feature a narrower scope of application; lawmakers have been haled to court on plunder charges.

What will happen then is that, like the administration’s war on drugs itself, the new measure will be—if not by design then at least by consequence—harsh on paper but hard, only, on the poor. Talk about a Christmas gift.


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