Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ATTENTION: SAHMs and WAHMs (and everybody else interested in a writing job)


Would you like to receive updates on upcoming writing opportunities? Some projects are purely PER PROJECT basis only while some offer more stable earning opportunities. Projects range from, but it not limited to, forum posting, blog updates, and website contributions. If you are interested, simply email homebasedwriterjobs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to receive regular updates. Also, please leave a note or email me if you have done so. I would need 5 refferals so I can get a crack at a beautiful writing project I'm aiming for, so please don't forget to update me if you have already joined the mailing group.

more (economic) power to us SAHMs and WAHMs!

Picture from http://www.emich.edu/english/gsp/writing.gif

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Alice Walker, Barack Obama and Torture


I must say I love cheap mines. These are what I call gems that I found at very cheap prices. One such find is Alice Walker's Meridian which I bought at a discounted price of P100, and was paid for by the gift certificates I won from National Bookstore. So i got it basically for free. But recently, I found an earlier print of the same book being sold for P9 at Trinoma! Now that a cheap mine.

I fel in love with Meridian and have even blogged about it. . I have tried to get hold of her other books by rummaging through second hand bookstores but I have yet to find one that is at least below P50.

I have not done my research on Alice Walker herself, except that she strikes me as an activist because few writers write about activism, which she did in Meridian. Just the other day, I stumbled across her blog (not personally maintained though, not that I'm complaining) and saw that she has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama himself discussing a very sensitive topic, torture. It was one of ten letters sent by Amnesty International to Pres. Obama.

The use of torture is against all laws which provide for the security of one's being. It has been denounced countless times and condemned at the Geneva Conventions which provided gound rules for conducting war. Sadly, torture is also considered by the state, albeit covertly, to be one of the most effective means to obtain information they deem important to the interest of "national security".

The US has come under fire for using torture, both physical and psychological, when the Abu Ghraib prison camp was exposed to the world. It was claimed that the US, via the CIA also has numerous other secret detention areas scattered across the globe.

The Philippines too is notorious for its utter disregard for human rights and committing torture against its enemies. Who can forget Raymond Manalo, a farmer, who was abducted by the military and lived to tell the gory tale of virtual slavery in the hands of his captors. He also claimed to have seen the two missing UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, in one of their holding areas. Raymond Manalo has also tagged Bantay Partylist Rep. Jovito Palparan as the boss his captors were referring to. General Jovito Palparan is widely believed to be the man behind innumerable extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of people critical of the Arroyo Regime. He was even commended by Arroyo herself for "a job well done" in her 2008 State of the Nation Address.

The nationwide outrage against these extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, most of whom were members of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Anakbayan, gained international sympathy and prompted the United Nations to send Special Rapporteur Philip Alston to investigate it and make a report. Likewise, the Arroyo government assigned the Melo Commission, built especially for this inquiry, to make a parallel investigation on the matter. Mr. Alston, in his final report, upheld the popular belief that a culture of impunity has established itself in the country and no less than the government is blame for this. Meanwhile, the Melo Commission acknowledged the cases but did not offer any real solutions.

Anyway, this is one letter that I would like to share with everyone and hope inspires someone (or everyone!) to initiate a similar move and write a similar letter to the president. I remember one clip I saw which covered a rally outside Ever Gotesco Mall, Mrs. Edith Burgos, mother of Jonas Burgos who was forcibly taken away from the same mall while he was dining, was being interviewed. Her message to GMA was one of a mother to another mother, wishing her not to experience the same grief she is experiencing because it is hard for a mother to lose her child.




Dear President Obama,

If word reached me that you were being tortured, I would instantly feel tortured myself, because I would be. Torture is something an entire society feels, whether we are within earshot of the screaming or not. People don't like to believe this, but there is no way human beings can remain unaffected by what is done to other human beings, or even to animals who are not human. If I heard this about you, I would do everything in my power to come to your aid, not simply because I know you to be rare and necessary to our planetary survival, but because you are simply a person, with feelings, aspirations, sorrows and dreams. And you have children. If I were a child and knew my parent was being tortured, day after day, what would I myself become?

It has already been recognized that "confessions" obtained by torture are useless. It is easy to see why. If someone is water boarding you and you think you will never see your little ones again, you would say anything. So would I. It is only in movies, I think, where the "hero" tells the torturer nothing as various body parts are cut, burned, frozen, electro-shocked or pulled out.

If one keeps company with cruel people, one loses, bit by bit, one's own compassion. This is one of the reasons living in Washington, in the White House, as leader of the United States, is so treacherous. And why I said to you when we met briefly prior to my introducing you to my community in San Francisco, that failure to win the presidency had not insignificant value: you could have a fine life living as a writer, doing and saying what you want, and traveling the world incognito and free. Leadership has its down side, and one of them is who one has to associate with in order to "get things done." When we look at the destruction, around the globe, caused by prior leaders of our country, and the terrible choices of how to behave, and we look at the White House today and see some of those folks still coming and going; what can I say? It gives us pause.

Ringing in my ears is something I thought I heard you say: America does not torture. And if this is true, now, under your watch, this letter is unnecessary. I also thought I heard you say Indefinite Detention Without Charge was gone with the wind of George Bush's administration. Was I wrong? Writers, and especially poets, don't always keep their ears to the political ground, and so we are likely to miss the daily dramas that keep others informed. I hope you are holding steady on these points, because if you are, you are right. The cruelty and injustice of holding anyone indefinitely without charge will not lead to carefree days and guilt-free nights for you or for any citizen of the U.S., and we want those days and nights in order to convince the youth of the world that there are basic human laws protecting their right to grow up without fear of endless detention.

I think about people in prison, being tortured, being bombed, being frightened and starved and humiliated, every single day. Voting for you was one way I felt I could reach out to them, fiction and poetry writing, even protests and arrests, having their limitations. You are the world's hope for a better, a fairer, day. You have what few leaders of this country ever had: genuine affection and love from the people who elected you. We are good people, too, for the most part. And even if we weren't, we can be improved by a leadership of compassion, a leadership whose basic human instincts of fairness and decency we can trust to look at the whole story, the entire state of affairs, and not close off any portion of it. A leadership unafraid to hold accountable those responsible for torture and abuse. This is our only hope, actually, to begin to soothe a little of the sorrow in the world. It isn’t a desire for vengeance, because we know vengeance, a karma, is created by Itself; it is instead a need to make right, to make whole again, by demonstrating to an injured and insulted world that we, as Americans, care about the harm other Americans, in our name, have done. We must show above all that we wish to understand our own madness in order not to continue growing and exporting it.

We know your plate is full. And I am always happy to hear of you and Michelle going off somewhere out of town for dinner. (No pun!) Any complaint about the cost is ridiculous: what your time away from your desk does for the world is priceless. You are a Leo/Ox and only someone with your combination of strengths could handle the presidency, which you do with grace. (What can I say? I love astrology!) Even so, it’s too much for one person, or two; I myself favor a council for leading the country, but that is far in the future. Maybe not too far! So, delegate. We need the world to know we don’t accept the behavior as usual of American presidents and others who do horrible things to people, and then retire, wealthy, into memoir writing and golf; as if the disasters inflicted on a vulnerable world never happened. I applaud and deeply appreciate all the good work you are, in fact, doing. It is huge. And beautiful, which I personally resonate with in world leadership. It has a beat. It has a heart.

In closing, I send this poem about torture that I wrote a few weeks ago and posted on my blog, http://www.alicewalkersblog.com



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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I want for Christmas......

Christmas remains by far the most celebrated holiday of all time. Although its roots are pagan and Jesus' actual birthday is debatable, which I'll leave to the experts, Christmas is thoroughly and joyfully celebrated.

To my memory, I have never had a Christmas I didn't enjoy. It is so much fun than birthdays. Perhaps because everyone is in a happy mood, and everywhere you go to is all dolled-up. Christmas serves as our oasis in the middle of nowhere.

Yes, it is an escape. Traditionally, enmities between political rivals halt momentarily. Issues that hogged the headlines year-long winds down. And the mood changes from combative to loving.

Except maybe this year.

As 2009 takes its last breath, we are left in the ruins of a Strong Republic gone very, very, very bad. This last quarter alone has left us with little hope for the future. And this is where Christmas plays its historical role of giving hope amidst hopelessness.




I am not so jaded as to not have my own wishlist to send to Santa.

Now, all I want for Christmas is....

.....that the Philippine economy recover faster than a speeding bullet or a ray of light so that it may help Filipinos lead better lives here, not abroad. The Greater Depression of the first world has depressed us even more.

.....My family has only been recovering from the great flood that is Ondoy. I know how hard it is start over again and I wish that the victims of natural disasters, especially Ondoy and Pepeng, find peace and hope in their hearts, while striving to make the government accountable for their very grave mistakes.

.....The Copenhagen Climate Change Forum touted as the culmination of at least two years worth of effort to curb gas emissions has just ended with a mere pfffft as the US remain bullish on its stand not to monitor its gas emissions. I wish that people realize Climate Change is irreversible and a fact of nature, but that it can be slowed down by holding accountable the industrialized (read: imperialist) countries that emit the most toxic fumes


......I am abhorred by the crime/s that this powerful clan can/will do and has done all because it has enjoyed the close ties with that woman in Malacanang. I wish that the Ampatuans squeal like a pig roating in a pyre on the vote-rigging that happened in their hometown last two elections and for once, be at the right and moral side of the fence, and take that *%$#@!@#$%^&%$&* woman down with them!

.....Inline with this I wish that the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre find justice and gain support from the government in pursuing the case against its primary perpetrator.

..... I just hate hearing, even seeing, Remonde and Fajardo on the radio and TV, knowing that they're goona be spewing out nothing but rubbish. So I wish that the Palace SpokesPEOPLE's noses grow one meter for each lie they tell the people.




.... After the infamous Proclamation 1959 that served as a test case and was pulled out even before the check and balance part of a democracy set kick in, has sent both Houses into disarray, one asking for a legitimate explanation for it and the other doing the explaining In times to come, I wish that the Senate remain oppositionist and that Congress, especially Prospero Nograles, be able to look farther than their own noses and hides in making policies and political stands on national issues.

.... The Supreme Court has approved the petition for an ectended voter's registration to heed the call of the electorate but Comelec Chairman Melo seems to be doing everything in his power to make this exercise annoying and futile. I hate him. I wish that the Comelec will not be an instrument by the state itself to disenfranchise its constituents all for the glory of the status quo

.... Due precisely to the efforts of the state itself to render the electoral exercise as futile as possible, floating various scenarios like No-el, hybrid elections etc., that people should realize the importance of their votes as part of a democratic exercise and fight to be counted, to fight for a change.

and lastly,

.... Nine years is enough, more than half of it is even a contested, if not illegal, stay in power, it is because of this that I wish GMA grows some delicadeza this holiday season and in the spirit of giving, give everyone piece of mind and bow out of the public eye for once and for all. Plus, she should also be indicted for every crime she has tried to evade during her de-facto presidency.

I think I have said enough. Santa must be impatient to read other people's letters.

Oh, one last wish... I wish for world peace. : )


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How, how de carabao? (suspeced rebels charged with common crimes)

Last November 12, there are was a clash between the police forces in Ifugao and suspected NPA rebels. Four, two women and two men, were arrested while the rest of the group, presumably, managed to live (and fight ) for another day.

On research, their charge sheets (if that’s what you call them) contain a collection of sworn statements from police officials who related the events leading up to the eventual arrest of the four and an inventory of items that were confiscated at the scene. The inventory included personal items such as t-shirts, underwears, beddings and toiletries. It also has a list of food items like noodles, salt, dried fish, and some sort of a first aid kit which included a first-aid handbook, gauze bandages, betadine solution and cotton. Most importantly, it contained numerous plastics with revolutionary writings probably used as a teaching aid, a notebook with revolutionary songs and poems, and other subversive documents, as well as high-powered firearms like a baby armalight and carbine.

With these pieces of evidence obtained from the backpacks that were in the site where the early morning clash happened, the four are most probably the rebels the Consitution was referring to. But their charge sheet contains no conclusion that they are indeed rebels inspite of very incriminating pieces of evidence, and instead they were treated as common criminals and were charged as such.

Instead of a REBELLION charge which is a political crime, these four suspected NPA rebels were charged with ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS with no recommended bail. For thoses not entirely familiar with the NPA or New People’s Army, it is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines which has been waging a protracted war, as per its Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology, for over 40 years to overthrow the government. They are far from the sinister warlords of the Ampatuan Clan who perpetrated the day-time murder of no less than 57 people, including women, journalists and human rights advocates, devoid of any obvious ideology, making the crime a criminal, not political, one. The Ampatuans are currently being packaged as “rebels” and the Arroyo government is bending over backwards to make sure they get what they deserve as such.

Once again, my feeble mind cannot grasp , or rather, does not find acceptable, the logic behind this move. How, how de carabao, indeed?!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

The devil’s advocate






This might be a tad late but I just have to say my piece on Neal H. Cruz’ column last December 7. It was titled “Maguindanao folk welcome martial law?”
Mr. Cruz started by commemorating the Pearl Harbor bombing on 1941 and the bombing of Manila a day after it. He further said that today we “have been hit by another sneak attack” that is “homegrown this time”, referring to the recent highly-criticized Martial Law declaration in the province of Maguindanao. He clearly states that he is against this proclamation, saying it is an “overkill,” even going as far as reminding the readers that a previous edition of his column has already “predicted it, quoting a Muslim leader Amina Rasul.”

Then, Mr. Cruz proceeds to share the views of “several friends and relatives living in Maguindanao” which incidentally are the opposite of the prevalent animosity to the proclamation.

Mr. Neal H. Cruz plays the devil’s advocate when he posed the question which “people on the receiving end fo the terrorism of the warlords”, would prefer “between a rock or stone wall.” He then proceeds to echo the reasons the administration made to justify Proclamation No. 1959 and taking a stab at the High Court’s statement disproving allegations that the local court has not been functioning and is one of the reasons why Martial Law had to be declared. As an afterthought, Mr. Cruz said that Congress will convene “anyway” to decide whether or not to revoke the declaration. Even more lamely, he ended that “in any case, Martial law lapses in 60 days.”

This is the kind of defeatist logic that we do not need today. A state of emergency in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato City was announced a day after the murder-massacre. Was that not enough? Day after day, arms caches are being unearthed almost everywhere. The Ampatuan arsenal is enough to arm a battalion or two. Is the AFP inferior to that force that they cannot handle it without having granted extraordinary powers to them?

Could Mr. Cruz not see that this Martial Law is part and parcel of a grand design of the devious sort to cover-up a huge can of worms that stinks to heaven? I understand that it was done all for the sake of journalism and fair play, to tickle our senses, jumpstart our brain cells, to present another angle of the biggest story of the year. I even understand the sentiments of his friends and relative, who after being scared to death of “fully armed goons” which has “the police and military… in their employ,” now are living in the midst of a “war zone” were countless uniformed men roam the place, replacing the goons. What I cannot understand is that apart from warning his friends and relatives to “be wary” because “in time, soldiers will also commit abuses”, reminiscent to Marcos’ version of Martial Law, Mr. Cruz, seems to be taking this matter sitting down.

I only found appeasement when I saw that his was a voice in the wilderness in that December 7 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, his column being fenced in by others very critical of the proclamation.

One such column is Kris-Crossing Mindanao which Ms. Noralyn Mustafa authors. The columnist of Kris-Crossing Mindanao, in her column that day paid tribute to the 57 victims of the brutal killings by “making sense out of the senselessness” after it apparently pushed the president to declare Martial Law therefore “generating more fear and uncertainty among the long-suffering and long-oppressed people.” Unlike Mr. Neal H. Cruz, Ms. Noralyn Mustafa ended her prose with a clenched fist thrust in the air, appealing to everyone who ‘do not wish to live under a continuing reign of eveil, of slavery, hunger, oppression and fear’ to ‘stand up NOW’ (emphasis mine) because ‘we may never have this chance again.’

THIS is what I, and possibly, most people, want to hear. The voice of action and inner strength, of trust in the power to change things deemed unchanging. I remember a part in the movie SAKADA *insert Hyperlink to old entry* where a farmer was trying to organize a union, he said “Mahirap talagang kumilos kung nakaluhod, pero kung nakatayo, lahat magagawa. (It is indeed hard to move when on your knees, but when you’re on your feet, everything is possible)”

Whereas Ms. Mustafa translated herself to be one of the many movers of change, Mr. Neal H. Cruz is an agent of the status-quo. With Ms. Mustafa calling the Maguindanao Massacre the “metaphor of Ms. Arroyo’s reign of evil,” Mr. Neal H. Cruz might also very well be playing the part of a devil’s advocate literally.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Remembering our HUMAN RIGHTS




"We can assure the civilians that there will be no curtailment of rights as long as they are not part of uncontrollable private armies," Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

I am in no way coming to the aid of those who belonged to the Ampatuans' private army and carried out his murderous command. But I am for the express observation of human rights, even for those presumed, but not proven, to be part of the private army.

So this is how the men in uniform think. It comes as no surprise then why presumed members of armed groups such as the New People's Army and activists branded as enemies of the state receive the most vile treatment, encroachment, on their human rights. It cannot be denied that more than private armies, activists have borne the brunt of the state's war on terror, patterned after US' own. The problem it seems is that, the men in uniform cannot restrain themselves strongly enough to realize that though they are dissidents, they are still human and therefore have rights inherent to their being.

As of August this year there are 284 political prisoners in the Philippines, many of which are National Democratic Front Consultants which should have been covered by JASIG (Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees) Roughly 300 media killings have been recorded, including the 31 dead from the recent massacre. According to KARAPATAN, a human rights organization, more than 800 HRVs have been committed since GMA took office in 2001. Most of these cases remain unsolved to this day. This may not be the exact figure of HRVs in the Philippines.

Whatever made HRVs legal everyday fare? Let me count the ways.

The CPR or calibrated preemptive response was put into action in the face of mounting popular dissent which takes the from of mass actions, inclusing rallies and protest marches. It allows for the police to disperse the congregation even with no threat emanating from the latter. One popular dispersal happened in the streets of Manila where no less than the former Vice President Guingona and Senator Madrigal, along with priests, nuns, professionals and students, were among those dispersed with water canons.

The Executive Order 464 meanwhile, in an unprecedented move that undermines the check and balance in a democratic republic, prohibited members of the Cabinet from testifying in inquiries without prior consent from the President herself. This came in the wake of Norberto Gonzalez' banana-eating drama in the Senate halls for almost spilling the beans on his boss.

And of course, the crowning glory of the Arroyo Regime, the Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2 (Oplan Freedom Watch) which gave the greenlight on more HRVs as it casts as enemies of the state even people deemed guilty by mere association.

(I have listed only three, please feel free to add what laws, orders or decisions you can recall through which HRVs was institutionalized.)



Today, there is a seeming downtrend of HRVs as tales of abuse rarely make the frontpage of the papers. They are often relegated to the back pages and mentioned only in passing. After UN Special Rappourteur Philip Alston's report on the extrajudicial killings and the culture of impunity the government itself propagates made the global round of news, the GMA Regime can no longer afford to dismiss the UN's "muchacho". Did you not realize that motorcycle-riding men blazing the guns of impunity and bestowing judgement on every subject it deemed sinful has not been seen as often as before? But this abscence does not mean the blatant killings and human rights violations have stopped entirely. This lull could also mean a shift in strategy.

Then the Maguindanao Massacre came along which has been making the headlines for more than a week now. The issue of Human Rights Violations has gained ears and hearts again.

But human rights violations do not come in all-in-one packages such as brutal murders, enforced disappearances, and such. It comes in different forms. It may be wrapped in perfumed tissue paper or in colorful gift baskets. Sometimes, it is even sealed with a kiss. We cannot afford NOT to be vigilant even for a moment. Human rights violations know no race, no age, not even gender or religion. Nothing is sacred for hardened transgressors, not even our human rights, own humanity.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

REBELLION: Ticket to Freedom



Last Friday, December 4, 2009, by virtue of Proclamation No.1959, the Maguindanao province was put under Martial Law. It came virtually in the dead of the night, the proclamation being signed at 9 pm and formally announced only the next day.

Two weeks after the Maguindanao Massacre, in the face of mounting suspicion of the President's ties with the Ampatuans, the discovery of an arms cache and the public clamor, both national and international, for justice to be served, the de facto President of the Strong Republic finally made a move to remove herself from the ever-expanding frame of the goons, guns and gold drama starring the Ampatuan Clan.

According to the Constitution, in case of a declaration of Martial Law, the President is required to turn in her report, including of course her bases, within 48 hours. Instead of shedding light to the questions raised on the constitutionality and logic behind Proclamation No. 1959, GMA’s report only made the public raise their eyebrows more in disbelief.

There are six WHEREAS clauses which laid the President’s bases for the highly criticized move to declare Martial Law in those areas. Of the six, none was enough for me to justify GMA’s proclamations.

The first clause revealed a previous state of emergency status of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City a day after the gruesome murders happened in the otherwise serene landscape of Brgy. Saniag, Ampatuan. A state of emergency, then the height of powers GMA has and can exercise, apparently was not enough.

The second clause is much more controversial as it quotes Sec.18 Art.VII of the 1987 Constitution which allows for Martial Law ONLY “in case of invasion or rebellion”. This sits at the very heart of the both the proclamation and the criticisms against it.

What is a rebellion? It is a battle of two forces. One representing the ruling class and the other representing the belligerent class. It is a move to undermine and depose the present government so a new one can be installed. Just as CPP’s exiled leader Jose Ma. Sison or MNLF’s Nur Misuari, as they are the true rebels espousing an ideology very much different from the prevalent one.

Now, what the Ampatuans did is no rebellion. It was the deed of a very spoiled pet who thought it can get away with anything so long as it remains loyal to its master. This reason, or excuse, is absolutely absurd!

Further more, the Ampatuans private army was not established to fight against government troops. Quite the opposite actually, the Ampatuan’s formidable arms cache, complete with APCs, mortars and whatnots, and enough to arm a battalion (or two) was ALLOWED by the government because of an earlier united front against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The government condoned this private army as evidenced by its supply of war material with DND markings and personnel belonging to CVOs and local policemen. They are not rebels out to fight the AFP, they are those that fight ALONGSIDE the AFP against the true rebels in Mindanao. Rebel military man Col. ArielQuerubin is also said to be preparing a statement regarding the AFP’s role in this suspicious arsenal.

Now, the fifth clause about the non-functioning local judiciary system has already been answered and straightened out by Midas Marquez, the high court’s spokesperson. He claimed that the presiding judge has been issuing warrants that week and therefore the judiciary is far from non-functioning.

The report even cited a clause in the GRP-MILF Agreement on the General Cessation of Hostilities which states that any checkpoint put up and maintained by an entity other than the two contracting parties is considered a hostile act. Well, for everyone’s information, never did I see any news item that claims a checkpoint was set up. The victims were flagged down, meaning, they were the only target, as opposed to checkpoints that are supposed to check-out everyone passing by. Furthermore, the only checkpoint that have appeared in the newspapers are those put up and manned by the local police which supposedly received warning from the Ampatauns not to meddle in their affairs.

According to a CPP statement, GMA’s proclamation is self-contradictory as she claims that ‘heavily armed groups in the province of Maguindanao’ is tantamount to rebellion but is actually referring to areas where warlord-politicos reign, not rebels. So, following GMA’s faulty reasoning, she made the decision to impose Martial Law on Maguindanao, EXCEPT for certain areas. These “certain areas” happen to be those falling in MILF’s territory, which is where the real rebellion is.

To bolster and justify the government’s claim that the Ampatuans are rebels who have either already consumated the rebellion or leading a rebellion in the offing’, both contradictory reasons spouted by our venerable acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devabadera, the murderous clan is now called The Ampatuan Rebel Group. Knowing that this is not enough for dissenting minds, they are now concocting a scenario where the ARG and MILF have supposedly joined forces, according to their not so intelligent intelligence reports.

True, simply branding them a rebel group DOES NOT make them one. For true rebels, having the Ampatuans join their ranks must be insulting. The MILF on the other hand being legitimate political dissidents is easily a scapegoat. Because logic dictates that the MILF and the Ampatuans cannot be on the same side of the fence. The government has been for a long time building up the Ampatuans’ army (3,000-4,000 strong according to recent news) precisely to be used against MILF’s own force. As surely as water and oil cannot mix, so will the MILF and the Ampatuan.

The controversial proclamation also begs the question: Is this a calculated move by the President to free the Ampatuans and herself further public condemnation while at the same time going scott-free?

Think about this. Martial Law is only possible if there is an invasion or a rebellion. To justify Proclamation No. 1959, the Amapatuans have been repackaged as the Ampatuan Rebel Group. Rebellion is a political crime. The Philippines being a “democratic” country, political crimes carry much lesser punishments than criminal crimes, because one cannot and should not be judged according to his/her political beliefs. Most importantly, rebellion is a very hard crime to prove.

Let’s take the case of Nur Misuari who only recently was acquitted of rebellion charges. It was filed following an attack of MNLF forces on a military camp in Sulu which left 100 people dead. The prosecution failed to convince the court that it was Misuari himself who led the attack, and the case was junked. This not withstanding that the GRP forged a ceasefire some odd years ago with a recognized BELLIGERENT group that is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Now Misuari, a free man, has filed his CoC for a gubernatorial slot in Sulu.

If the Ampatuans are being considered as rebels and will be charged as such, murder, illegal possession of firearms and other criminal offenses will be subsumed in the rebellion case.

The same is also true with her majesty, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. With investigations unearthing very suspicious, if not incriminating, evidence in the form of partly burnt election paraphernalia including ballot boxes, voters’ registration forms and voters’indentification cards, the ghost of elections past hounds the administration again. We will remember that back in 2004 and the 2007 elections, Maguindanao figured very prominently in it, eventually becoming the clinching factor in highly contested positions such as the presidency and the 12th seat in the Senate. In 2004, the votes from Maguindanao secured for GMA the presidency. A year later, the “Hello, Garci” tapes surfaced which has recorded GMA’s unmistakable voice asking a person, assumend to be Garcillano, a Comelec Commissioner, to assure her that she will win the elections with by least a million votes. Maguindanao delivered the votes that crushed FPJ’s bid. Lintang Bedol, the election official in that province went into hiding. In 2007, again Maguindanao proves true to its allegiance, allowing for a sweeping victory of the administration’s senatorial slate in its province, and making Chavit Singson the number 1 senatoriable even if it is not his bailwick.

Moreover, ever since the Ampatuans rose to political prominence, it has cast its bet on the AFP versus the MILF. By being “force multipliers”, the private army of the Ampatuans is actually a state-recognized and armed Civilian Volunteer Organizations. The mind-boggling arsenal the Ampatuans are keeping all over Maguindanao is being condoned by the government itself.

It cannot be denied, declaring Martial Law two weeks after the murder and in the midst of very controversial findings reeks of political maneuvering. It is a win-win situation for both GMA and the Ampatuan Clan. Martial Law deflects many tender issues surrounding the ties between GMA and the Ampatuan Clan. On the other hand, the criminal acts of the Ampatuans get elevated to being political crimes and absolve them of criminal accountability. If this despicable arrangement manages to escape revocation with help of the Lower House, the only loser in this equation is the Filipino public.

This unneccessary and unconstitutional localized Martial Law and rebellion charges against the alleged masterminds of the gruesome Maguindanao Massacre and very close allies of the President, seems to be a convoluted plit to exonerate both guilty parties. It is a classic case of saving one’s hide and preventing a domino-effect where GMA, in all probability, will go down with the Ampatuans when the latter starts ratting on everything and anything they know of. This Martial Law maybe a prelude to something bigger. This could also very well be their ticket to freedom.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

SAKADA remains RELEVANT

Anyone who has seen SAKADA raise your fist!

I have and I raise my fist to toast to it. It have seen it only recently. A friend very kindly gave me a copy recorded from a tv special of TV5 then ABC5. It was almost like a discussion as the special also featured interviews from people who know filipino film history and the film's director (Behn Cervantes), and actors (Robert Arevalo, Rosa Rosal etc). They gave they're insight on the film's topic and the fate it suffered during its time.

Sakada, produced by the now-defunct Sagisag Films, was part of the second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema (1970's-1980's) when films made were mostly part to the so-called protest cinema, tackling issues relevant to the current political climate which is Martial Law.

It was on January 1976, two weeks after a successful run when the Marcos Administration ordered it shut down and confiscated.

Sakada is a film about the Filipino's basic problem, land. It opens with this ...




It proceeds to document the stages of sugar production once in the mill then shifts to the unrest outside where a sakada was shot to death by one of the hacienda's guards.

A sakada is a farmer who works in a sugarcane field, harvesting it during the months of October to December. After this period, some sakadas who already live in the hacienda plant crops to tide them over until the next sugarcane harvest. Those who came from other provinces go back home. They are seasonal farm workers without any benefits. The plight of the sakadas is further explained as the movie develops, exposing along the way the vast gap between the rich and the poor.

After the death of Arsenio Del Mundo, the movie follows the life of his bereaved family as they cope with his death and their life as a family at the mercy the haciendero's family.

The film documents how a family always played with by fate seeks to transform their
sorry plight. Ester (Hilda Koronel), after being heartbroken and seeing how his elder was brother was duped for being so trusting, decided that she wouldn't suffer again. She became a prostitute who sells her body but not her heart and soul. David (Bembol Roco), taken under the wing of a progressive Catholic priest, found the road to priesthood wanting and took a different road. Badong (Robert Arevalo), a practical thinker, resented his mother's decision to use the abuloy to send David and Ester to school. He eventually joined the union seeing no other way out of their miserable life in the hacienda but through an organized effort to advance the sakadas' demands. Flores (Rosa Rosal), Arsenio's widow, was plagued by her children's state and how life turned out for them. She also joined the union, delivering a fiery speech about the women's role in uplifting all of their lives.

29 years after Sakada was first shown, the film remains very relevant. It still depicts the microcosm of Philippine society where the rich enjoy life and the poor takes whatever was left of it.

Land reform being the topic at the very heart of the film still has not seen any improvement and even suffered a grave misstep when the compulsary sale of land was taken out of CARP's provisions. The problem of the sakadas, as representative of the peasantry, still persist as evidenced by the Hacienda Luisita massacre a few years back. Today, they still hold fast to their dreams of one day owning the land they have tilled for so long and continue to fight fo it.

Sakada is a film they should make more of today in light of the present economic and political situation.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The cat is out of the bag: GMA running for Congress

Tsk,tsk,tsk.

That is for whoever wins the presidency next year. Any president who gets elected next year cannot and should not relax one bit if GMA wins a seat in Congress (which in all probability might happen.) He might eventually face an ouster from a GMA-led Congress if and when the ChaCha trains gains speed once again.

Lest we forget, GMA is an ravid (rabid + avid) fan of Charter Change. For one, an amended constitution would make the Philippines more viable to foreign investors, selling it piecemeal or wholesale, as it would relax the provisions on foreign ownership of companies and land in the country. For two, this would ensure her unlimited stay in power. Either her term as president gets extended or she gets a seat in Congress, be the House Speaker and eventually the Prime Minister. this leads us to reason number three, as president or Prime Minister, she will remain immune to criminal charges that have been hounding her for as long as she had been President.

For almost a year, GMA has been ducking questions about her plans after her term as president ends next year. Speculations started to buzz when trips to her hometown in Pampanga become more frequent. Then came the news that a mansion was being there in preparation for her candidacy. Her lawyer Romulo Macalintal
almost preempted the news when he granted an interview with the media quoting him saying that the president didn't particularly tell him she plans on running for Congress, merely asked if it is allowed by election laws. All the law says is a prohibition for presidents to run for a second term as president. So there! When this was cleared up, the "GMA for Congress campaign" became more aggressive. People supposedly from Pampanga continuously trooped to the Malacanang Palace to ask her to be their representative. Her son, Rep. Mikey Arroyo, who was also the subject of unexplained wealth controversy early this year, even went so far as pledging that he will step down and nor run for reelection if his mother would grant the people's clamor. The drama ended early this morning with a statement that the President's CoC will be filed by 9 am today.






Assuming that GMA will win her bid for the Congress, she has a very big chance of being elected as the House Speaker, with the representatives being virtually under a single party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD. I have to admit that GMA has been very wily and resilient, surviving political upheavals and military threats with a widespread division of spoils. Realizing that she could not run for the Presidency (and after her immunity) without people attacking her for it, she opted for Plan B, thereby achieving the same goal via a different route.

Just look at who their party is fielding for the top posts, a virtual nobody and a tv host! If this doesn't smack of desparation, if not an ulterior motive, I don't know what will. Gilbert Teodoro, a Department of National Defense secretary, has yet to prove his political mettle. Why, he even failed the test when the twin disasters struck despite his tv ad about disaster preparedness. We have no guarantee that he will not be a pushover, letting a GMA-led Congress make all the calls.

Honestly, I think this election would essentially be a protest election. A protest against everything GMA stood for, incompetence, greed, partial politics, iron-fisted disclipine on assumed dissidents. GMA doesn't really stand a chance on winning the presidency even if she managed to have the CHACHA passed. People have had enough of her and those who still believe in democracy will use their power to vote to keep her off the highest seat in the country. Although local politics have a different dynamism, I think it would be hard for her to HONESTLY win this seat as most victims of her Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (OBL2) are from Central Luzon and they would surely campaign against this fire-breathing bitch.




Tsk,tsk,tsk.
This is for GMA and her cohorts who think that they can fool the people into thinking that public service is all she really is after.They really should think again.

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