BANGSAMORO, THE REAL SCORE: ARE CHARTER CHANGES NEEDED? 

COTABATO CITY, JULY 20 --PHOTO: Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, exchange copies of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Aquino administration they signed in Malacañang on March 27, 2014. President Benigno Aquino III’s fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) is fast approaching and this would be the time to articulate the clear direction and the real matuwid na daan in dealing with the Bangsamoro issues. The achievements on the ground, not words, are the real balance to weigh the President’s legacy in the peace and development arena.
The President, in his fourth Sona (2013), said: “What is clear to me: Every word we utter must result in an action that would benefit all. Every line that we craft in the agreement we are forging must be set in stone and not merely written on water, only to be forgotten by history.” He equally committed the “strength of the entire nation to lift the provinces of Muslim Mindanao, which are among our poorest.” These bold statements. To be fair, the President has not been wanting in allocating extra funds for peace and development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). He poured billions into the ARMM, beginning with the P8.5 billion dubbed as the ARMM Stimulus Fund as early as 2011. No other President has allocated as much as President Aquino in his wish to make the ARMM at par with the neighboring regions. Mind-boggling billions: * READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace overhauls draft of Bangsamoro basic law 

JULY 5 --Malacañang has returned the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with so many comments and revisions that practically nothing has been left unchanged in the original document that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted to President Benigno Aquino, a source told the Inquirer Saturday. The source said the Bangsamoro Basic Law was practically “mangled” by the revisions proposed by the Office of the President. The source is privy to the talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but has not been authorized to discuss developments with the media. The source said the comments and revisions, which comprised a thick pile of paper, reportedly veer away from the four annexes that are the heart and soul of the two parties’ peace agreement. Sought for comment, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal confirmed that the Palace has returned the draft after its review, with a thick pile of comments. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino urged to disclose commission’s Bangsamoro draft law

DAVAO CITY: JULY 2 --The Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus called on President Benigno Aquino to make public the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’ version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to maintain the people’s trust and confidence in the peace process. Mary Ann Arnado, MPC spokesperson, said speculation about the peace roadmap, as agreed upon by the government the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was rife because the document that was envisioned to bring lasting peace in Mindanao has not been opened to the public. “We feel that enough time has passed for a thorough review of the BTC draft; it is also about time to give the public, especially the Bangsamoro constituency, the opportunity to examine the document,” Arnado said in a media statement on Tuesday. She said making public the document would manifest “the spirit of transparency, the avowed policy of the administration of President Aquino.” At same time, Arnado said they were urging BTC to do the same. “We also urge the Office of the President to immediately release its comments to the BTC’s draft Basic Law even before a ‘revised’ draft is submitted to Congress by July 28,” she said. * READ MORE...

ALSO EARLIER REPORT: Bangsamoro ‘law’ ready; Palace to submit draft to Congress May 5

APRIL 15 --PHOTO: Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, on Monday submitted the draft of the Bangsamoro basic law during a meeting with Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang. Malacañang on Monday received the draft of the Bangsamoro basic law, a priority measure President Aquino would submit for congressional scrutiny and approval to pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous region in Mindanao. Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, submitted the document during a meeting with Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of the Executive Secretary. “The draft has been submitted,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told the Inquirer after the meeting. “After a thorough review by the Office of the President, the intention is to submit it to Congress for the consideration of our legislators.”

Asked if the Palace would submit the draft to Congress once session resumes on May 5 after the Lenten break, Valte mentioned no specific deadline. “While there is no hard deadline set, we remain cognizant of the necessary pace of the process that needs to be undertaken,” she said. The President is expected to certify the draft basic law as urgent. Once it is approved by Congress, a plebiscite will be held in areas to be covered by the new Bangsamoro autonomous region, which would take the place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The President has described the ARMM as a “failed experiment.” If ratified in the plebiscite, the basic law would render the Organic Law that created the ARMM repealed and thus abolish the old autonomous region. Constitutional challenge * READ MORE...

ALSO Commentary from Manila Standard: Politics of the color yellow 

The prominently displayed yellow ribbon on the President’s chest disturbed not a few. The symbolism was not lost on many particularly since he is severely criticized for coddling allies perceived to be involved in the Napoles scandal. Sentiment against PNoy’s partisanship further strengthened with his rejection of the resignation of DAP’s architect, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad. PNoy’s pro-DAP speech received scathing reviews from most political pundits. Social media activists were up in arms. Even many of my pro-PNoy friends turned critical of the president’s position on DAP and his selective anti-corruption drive. It seems like the president and his advisers are misreading public pulse.

Do they think that the Filipino people can still be easily manipulated? After all the revelations on Napoles, PDAF, DAP, etc., did the president really think that asking people to wear yellow to support him will fly? One, by asking this of his supporters, PNoy is actually setting aside his “friends” from the entire Filipino people. He is asking people to be partisan at a time when unity is not just desirable but necessary. How sad that the president himself seems to foster more divisions among us. Does not the president realize that he is the leader of the whole country, of the 100 million Filipinos and not only of his political party? Instead of stubbornly wearing that yellow pin all throughout (which smacks of loyalty to party instead of country), the president could have replaced it with the country’s flag. A nice gesture of reconciliation and acceptance of the presidency. Two, this kind of “presidential request” does not sit well even with many of those sympathetic to PNoy but do not fully agree with his actions on the pork barrel and DAP issues. Asking them to tow the line is a wrong move. He is bound to be be disappointed.

This is no longer 2010. His popularity has significantly dipped as showed by latest survey showed. Three, PNoy’s request for his supporters to wear yellow further diminishes the political symbolism of the color. Many of us wore the color to protest the Marcos dictatorship. We supported Cory in yellow because we stood for the restoration of democracy in our land. These were clearly missions for the whole country. From being the color of the Filipino’s struggle against the dictatorship and restoration of democracy, now, yellow has become the color of a president needing a show of partisan support. This can even be a disservice to Ninoy and Cory.

Mr. President, do not do this. We do not need to be further divided. Your call for your yellow army has resulted in others’ use of other colors to go against you. Now there is a call to use the color peach for those wanting to impeach you. There is another call to wear black to support the Supreme Court. Why should it come to this? The Philippines is the country of Filipinos. We are not a country divided by colors. We are a country united under one flag. PNoy will soon be addressing us again for his State of the Nation Address (SONA). I do not wish to see the yellow ribbon then. May it be replaced by the Philippine flag. READ FROM THE BEGINNING THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Bangsamoro, the real score: Are Charter changes needed?

(Starting today, Sunday, July 20, the Inquirer is running a series of articles on issues facing President Benigno Aquino III in a run-up to his fifth State of the Nation Address on July 28. Go to http://inq.ph/sona2014 on INQUIRER.net for more of SONA 2014.)


Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, exchange copies of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Aquino administration they signed in Malacañang on March 27, 2014. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, JULY 21, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI; Contributor - President Benigno Aquino III’s fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) is fast approaching and this would be the time to articulate the clear direction and the real matuwid na daan in dealing with the Bangsamoro issues.

The achievements on the ground, not words, are the real balance to weigh the President’s legacy in the peace and development arena.

The President, in his fourth Sona (2013), said: “What is clear to me: Every word we utter must result in an action that would benefit all. Every line that we craft in the agreement we are forging must be set in stone and not merely written on water, only to be forgotten by history.”

He equally committed the “strength of the entire nation to lift the provinces of Muslim Mindanao, which are among our poorest.” These bold statements.

To be fair, the President has not been wanting in allocating extra funds for peace and development in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He poured billions into the ARMM, beginning with the P8.5 billion dubbed as the ARMM Stimulus Fund as early as 2011.

No other President has allocated as much as President Aquino in his wish to make the ARMM at par with the neighboring regions.

Mind-boggling billions

* He allocated mind-boggling billions in addition to the increased yearly budgetary allocation to the ARMM.

In three years, President Aquino has doubled the ARMM annual budgetary allocation—from a little over P10 billion in 2010 to more than P20 billion in 2014.

The late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo originally spearheaded the attempts for a real “catch-up” program for the ARMM under the P8.5-billion Stimulus Fund.

He initiated under the matuwid na daan ARMM-wide consultations—a veritable partnership not only between the national and regional governments but also local governments and civil society organizations.

Together, they identified projects that would have major impact on the ARMM constituency—the poorest in the country.

There were seven key areas identified for immediate intervention that would be the hallmarks of the second Aquino administration.

On top of the list was the delivery of countryside basic services, particularly in areas of health and education.

No impact

But four years after, many rural public health centers in the ARMM continue to have no health personnel, no medicine and other facilities.

How could this happen when the Department of Health (DOH) got a share in the Stimulus Fund of almost a billion pesos? The conditions of public schools in rural ARMM remain lamentable—erratic schedule of teachers, dilapidated school facilities, almost nil instructional materials (blackboards, chalks, clipboards and other instructional things, no laboratories and libraries and inadequate textbooks).

Almost P3 billion from the Stimulus Fund was coursed through the Department of Public Works and Highways.

These funds were allocated for strategic infrastructure and farm-to-market roads to boost growth and economic development.

Yet the Stimulus Fund has practically no impact on the poverty and employment rates and the region remains the poorest in the country.

A total of P2.8 billion of the Stimulus Fund was directly managed by the ARMM government.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development-ARMM got the lion’s share, with P1.971 billion apart from the P1.97 billion coursed through the nearby regional offices.

The Department of Agriculture-ARMM got P326.7 millions apart from the P1-billion allocation.

The DOH-ARMM got a direct share of P302 million apart from the P956 million originally allocated.

Separate allocation?

A report published recently by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed an allocation of P8.389 billion for ARMM Comprehensive Peace and Development Intervention.

People wonder whether this is a separate allocation for the ARMM or simply a repackaged Stimulus Fund.

No one seems to know what this ARMM Comprehensive Peace and Development Intervention is all about.

In the same DBM report, there are two allocations: Item 21 with P1.819 billion and Item 36 with P656 million for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process counterinsurgency Pamana Programs.

What happened to all these extra funds added to the increased regular annual ARMM budgetary allocations? Why is there very little impact on the actual development of the ARMM with practically no impact on the poverty and unemployment rates, much less on the actual conditions of the delivery of basic services in the countryside of the region.

Failed experiment

Is the ARMM structure a complete and total “failed experiment” that no matter what (money and good governance) would make any difference? With all the much touted ghost busting and reforms, the ARMM has remained the same, proving the truism that the more changes, the more it remains the same.

Would President Aquino include or exclude from his Sona that notwithstanding his attempts, the ARMM has practically remained the same—a failed experiment?

While there are major strides achieved in the last three years in the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the basic question that the President has to face in the remaining two years of his term is his capacity to deliver an acceptable Bangsamoro basic law, which would be the basis for the creation of a new autonomous region that would replace the ARMM.

Six agreements
There are six major agreements on the President’s watch.

These are:
The Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in October 2012;
The Agreement on Transitional Arrangements and Modalities signed in February 2013;
The Agreement on Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing signed in July 2013;
The Agreement on Power Sharing signed in December 2013;
The Agreement on Normalization and the Bangsamoro Waters and Zones of Joint Concerns in January 2014; and
The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed on March 27, 2014.
These major strides in the peace process between the government and the MILF were achieved without reference to the 1987 Constitution.

Charter amendments

Yet, even a cursory look at these major agreements points to the need for constitutional amendments to accommodate the legitimate aspirations of the Bangsamoro for:
Their unique identity;
Their ancestral domain; and
The exclusive powers not only to govern themselves but also to have control and supervision over the resources within their domain.

Without constitutional amendments on the table, the Aquino administration remains, simply, on cloud nine.

By any imagination (creative, flexible or otherwise), sans constitutional amendments, the government would be short in the delivery of its commitments.

It is time for the President to address the nation with all honesty and sobriety, and admit with clarity that the previously articulated “flexibilities” of the Constitution would not stretch enough to institutionalize the CAB both in letter and spirit.

There are no ifs and buts, he has to face the challenge of constitutional amendments.

Without this on the government’s agenda, whatever President Aquino says and claims is all rhetoric and simply for the sound bites.

Without changing the basic paradigm and framework of governance as stated in the Constitution, there can be no acceptable Bangsamoro basic law.

The difficulty lies in the ongoing “conversation” between the Office of the President and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission that has been tasked with drafting the Bangsamoro basic law for submission to Congress.

The Transition Commission’s draft seems to collide with some provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

While the Office of the President’s draft law is constitutionally compliant, it is not faithful to the CAB.

If the President departs from the four corners of the Constitution, he faces yet another specter of a Supreme Court rebuff.

No renegotiation

On the other hand, the MILF appears resolved not to accept the limitations of the Constitution and it refuses to renegotiate the terms in the comprehensive agreement already settled and signed.

Whichever process the President adopts in his Sona, Congress has to enact an “acceptable” Bangsamoro basic law before the year ends.

Without an acceptable basic law, it will be back to the same scenario that produced Republic Act No. 9054 (the Organic Act of the ARMM) that legislated the 1996 final peace agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MNLF rejected RA 9054 as the implementation of the 1996 peace deal.

There never has been any closure of the 1996 agreement and this is precisely the subject of the ongoing tripartite review.

The Bangsamoro basic law would take the place of RA 9054 and it would be the new organic act that would translate the CAB into official and legal structures of government in the new autonomous region also known as Bangsamoro.

A “diluted” basic law would simply repeat the previous legal arrangement akin to the creation of the ARMM but with no real substance being added to the package except for the new brand name—Bangsamoro.

The real score

In his Sona, is it possible for the President to give us the real score on the Bangsamoro basic law, notwithstanding the difficulties?

Is it all possible under the matuwid na daan to have real transparency and accounting of all the projects under the ARMM Stimulus Fund, Pamana and other so-called peace and development interventions in the ARMM?

Will he be able to begin the process for constitutional amendments to allow a genuine Bangsamoro basic law that will bring closure to the long-overdue peace agreement that began in 1976 in Tripoli, Libya?

Palace overhauls draft of Bangsamoro basic law By Nikko Dizon |Philippine Daily Inquirer6:21 pm | Saturday, July 5th, 2014


AQUINO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang has returned the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law with so many comments and revisions that practically nothing has been left unchanged in the original document that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted to President Benigno Aquino, a source told the Inquirer Saturday.

The source said the Bangsamoro Basic Law was practically “mangled” by the revisions proposed by the Office of the President.

The source is privy to the talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but has not been authorized to discuss developments with the media.

The source said the comments and revisions, which comprised a thick pile of paper, reportedly veer away from the four annexes that are the heart and soul of the two parties’ peace agreement.

Sought for comment, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal confirmed that the Palace has returned the draft after its review, with a thick pile of comments.

* However, Iqbal told the Inquirer in a text message that “we don’t discuss the content.”

Iqbal also chairs the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

Despite Malacañang’s review of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Iqbal said the situation was “not hopeless.”

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, if approved by Congress, would pave the way for the establishment of a Bangsamoro autonomous region to be led by the Moro people.

The delay in the transmittal of the draft law to Congress prompted another closed-door meeting between President Aquino and MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim in Hiroshima, Japan, last week. The President had earlier said he would certify the bill as urgent.

After the meeting, President Aquino vowed there would be a Bangsamoro autonomous region before he steps down in June 2016.

The Palace is expected to transmit the draft law to Congress when it opens after President Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address later this month.

EARLIER REPORT: JULY 2, 2014

Aquino urged to disclose commission’s Bangsamoro draft law By Germelina Lacorte |Inquirer Mindanao4:22 pm | Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014


Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF negotiator, and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, exchange copies of the peace agreement between the MILF and the Aquino administration they signed in Malacañang on March 27, 2014. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Mindanao Peoples’ Caucus called on President Benigno Aquino to make public the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’ version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to maintain the people’s trust and confidence in the peace process.

Mary Ann Arnado, MPC spokesperson, said speculation about the peace roadmap, as agreed upon by the government the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was rife because the document that was envisioned to bring lasting peace in Mindanao has not been opened to the public.

“We feel that enough time has passed for a thorough review of the BTC draft; it is also about time to give the public, especially the Bangsamoro constituency, the opportunity to examine the document,” Arnado said in a media statement on Tuesday.

She said making public the document would manifest “the spirit of transparency, the avowed policy of the administration of President Aquino.”

At same time, Arnado said they were urging BTC to do the same.

“We also urge the Office of the President to immediately release its comments to the BTC’s draft Basic Law even before a ‘revised’ draft is submitted to Congress by July 28,” she said.

* Arnado said the MPC believed the people of Mindanao should be given the chance to know what the document really contains because in the process of writing the Basic Law, the BTC asked the grassroots communities and various sectors to provide inputs and share their thoughts and sentiments.

“With the Basic Law now drafted by the BTC, the public deserves to know how much of their hopes and dreams for a fresh social order are embodied in that instrument,” Arnado said. “We appeal to President Aquino to reveal to the public the full text of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.”

She said making the document public would reassure stakeholders that its contents are “faithful, compliant and consistent with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.”

Arnado said the people were starting to be discontented because they haven’t seen what the document at all.

“We are therefore alarmed that the parties are seemingly doing nothing to stave off the erosion of public confidence on the viability of their political settlement,” she said. “The longer these speculations persist, the greater the chance of eroding the public’s trust on the GPH-MILF peace process.”

Arnado said the failure to subject the BTC draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to public scrutiny was fueling unhealthy speculation, so, the best way to stop it is to open the document to public scrutiny. .

When enacted, the Basic Law will serve as the charter of the new autonomous entity in Mindanao that is expected to embody meaningful self-governance for the Moro people.

“As such, it will be among the principal measures that will make the letter and spirit of the CAB come to life,” she said.

INQUIRER REPORT APRIL 15, 2014

Bangsamoro ‘law’ ready; Palace to submit draft to Congress May 5 By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:28 am | Tuesday, April 15th, 2014


Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, on Monday submitted the draft of the Bangsamoro basic law during a meeting with Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of the Executive Secretary in Malacañang. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Monday received the draft of the Bangsamoro basic law, a priority measure President Aquino would submit for congressional scrutiny and approval to pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, submitted the document during a meeting with Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi of the Office of the Executive Secretary.

“The draft has been submitted,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told the Inquirer after the meeting.

“After a thorough review by the Office of the President, the intention is to submit it to Congress for the consideration of our legislators.”

Asked if the Palace would submit the draft to Congress once session resumes on May 5 after the Lenten break, Valte mentioned no specific deadline.

“While there is no hard deadline set, we remain cognizant of the necessary pace of the process that needs to be undertaken,” she said.

The President is expected to certify the draft basic law as urgent. Once it is approved by Congress, a plebiscite will be held in areas to be covered by the new Bangsamoro autonomous region, which would take the place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The President has described the ARMM as a “failed experiment.”

If ratified in the plebiscite, the basic law would render the Organic Law that created the ARMM repealed and thus abolish the old autonomous region.

Constitutional challenge

* Valte said both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels that negotiated the peace agreement were aware that the basic law would likely be questioned in the Supreme Court.

“Knowing that anything that will come out of their negotiations will be challenged, they have made sure that they had the proper legal guidance while it was being crafted and that it will stand scrutiny,” she said in a press briefing.

Valte said the draft law would be reviewed by the Office of the President, particularly by the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, Michael Aguinaldo.

She said the review would also involve Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa “as well as other legal minds in the executive branch of the government.”

“So undergoing these internal processes and reviews would ensure that more or less it would have solid legal footing, if and when it is challenged in the Supreme Court,” she said.

Iqbal earlier described the drafting of the basic law as a “very difficult process.”

The 15-member Transition Commission drafted the proposed basic law based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which was signed in Malacañang on March 27.

Support from Congress

The five-page agreement covered signed deals, including the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and four annexes and addenda negotiated between the government and the MILF.

Both Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte have committed to work on the basic law to meet the government-MILF timetable of completing the entire peace process by the time the President steps down in June 2016.

The day after the peace deal was signed, Valte said leaders of both chambers “realize how important the law is, and I believe both have been ardent supporters of the peace process, and hopefully they will continue to be partners in pushing for the basic law.”

Drilon earlier said that the Senate was “more than ready to work on the new Bangsamoro basic law—one that would be universally fair, practical and constitutionally consistent.”

National progress

“The public can expect our commitment to the Bangsamoro not only for the sake of national progress, but also for the welfare and future of the entire Southeast Asian region,” he said.

Drilon said the signing of the peace accord was a “also a testament to our Asian neighbors and to the whole world that though shaped by our diversity, we are much more defined by our common dreams of peace, equality and prosperity as a nation.”

“This is a moment of immense pride, relief and joy throughout the entire Philippines, where we have arrived at a new era of understanding, security and opportunities now available for every Filipino–be they Muslim, Christian or members of indigenous groups,” he said.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Politics of the color yellow
By Elizabeth Angsioco | Jul. 19, 2014 at 12:01am
31
Instead of efforts for the people to be united and rally behind the cause of good governance, we are being pushed to choose sides and divided further.

It’s like, “tell me your color and I will tell you what your politics is”.

And no less than the President started this war of colors.

Let’s back track a bit.

The yellow ribbon, from the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon”, was used by people to welcome former Senator Benigno Aquino who was coming home from years of self-exile in the United States. Ninoy was killed as he was getting out of the plane.

The Filipino people, already restive because the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship, was catalyzed into action by this barbaric crime. The yellow color then became a symbol of a united people’s desire to topple the Marcoses’ rule.

Ninoy’s widow, Cory Aquino became the people’s democracy icon. Yellow was her campaign color when he ran against the dictator. When the people power revolt happened, yellow flooded EDSA. it was the color of the people’s fight for democracy. It was cool to be yellow then.

After Cory’s presidency the next time that yellow surfaced was when she passed away. It was then to honor the former president.

Shortly after, the yellow ribbon was again picked up during the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino, Ninoy and Cory’s son, for the presidency. It was obviously to ride on people’s favorable perception of Noynoy’s parents. Yellow became the color of the Liberal Party, headed by Noynoy himself. From being the symbol of the people’s struggle for democracy, it has been transformed as LP’s color.

From 2010 till now, the country’s president, PNoy, would not be publicly seen without the yellow ribbon on his barong Tagalog. The ribbon was on when the President delivered his address defending the infamous Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). PNoy, in a very unpresidential manner, defied the Supreme Court, a co-equal branch of government, which unanimously decided that some schemes used to create DAP were unconstitutional.

The prominently displayed yellow ribbon on the President’s chest disturbed not a few. The symbolism was not lost on many particularly since he is severely criticized for coddling allies perceived to be involved in the Napoles scandal.

Sentiment against PNoy’s partisanship further strengthened with his rejection of the resignation of DAP’s architect, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

PNoy’s pro-DAP speech received scathing reviews from most political pundits. Social media activists were up in arms. Even many of my pro-PNoy friends turned critical of the president’s position on DAP and his selective anti-corruption drive.

It seems like the president and his advisers are misreading public pulse. Do they think that the Filipino people can still be easily manipulated? After all the revelations on Napoles, PDAF, DAP, etc., did the president really think that asking people to wear yellow to support him will fly?

One, by asking this of his supporters, PNoy is actually setting aside his “friends” from the entire Filipino people. He is asking people to be partisan at a time when unity is not just desirable but necessary. How sad that the president himself seems to foster more divisions among us.

Does not the president realize that he is the leader of the whole country, of the 100 million Filipinos and not only of his political party? Instead of stubbornly wearing that yellow pin all throughout (which smacks of loyalty to party instead of country), the president could have replaced it with the country’s flag. A nice gesture of reconciliation and acceptance of the presidency.

Two, this kind of “presidential request” does not sit well even with many of those sympathetic to PNoy but do not fully agree with his actions on the pork barrel and DAP issues. Asking them to tow the line is a wrong move. He is bound to be be disappointed.

This is no longer 2010. His popularity has significantly dipped as showed by latest survey showed.

Three, PNoy’s request for his supporters to wear yellow further diminishes the political symbolism of the color. Many of us wore the color to protest the Marcos dictatorship. We supported Cory in yellow because we stood for the restoration of democracy in our land. These were clearly missions for the whole country.

From being the color of the Filipino’s struggle against the dictatorship and restoration of democracy, now, yellow has become the color of a president needing a show of partisan support.

This can even be a disservice to Ninoy and Cory.

Mr. President, do not do this. We do not need to be further divided.

Your call for your yellow army has resulted in others’ use of other colors to go against you. Now there is a call to use the color peach for those wanting to impeach you. There is another call to wear black to support the Supreme Court. Why should it come to this?

The Philippines is the country of Filipinos. We are not a country divided by colors. We are a country united under one flag.

PNoy will soon be addressing us again for his State of the Nation Address (SONA). I do not wish to see the yellow ribbon then. May it be replaced by the Philippine flag.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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