Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: December 2017
Thursday, 28 December 2017 08:31

A politically correct Christmas story?

A FEW days ago, at breakfast with my grandkids—Max, five years nine months, Sylvie, three years seven months and Oliver, 15 months—we were having this fantastic freewheeling conversation that revealed to me the logic and wisdom of children.

 

Max: Lolo, how old is Santa Claus? He must be 100 years old, very, very old (He counts only up to 100) but you don’t have a beard!

 

Sylvie: Lolo has a ‘mousetash’

 

Max: Not the same, Sylvie. Lolo, when you were little, did Santa give you presents? Did Santa give baby Jesus presents?
Oliver: I want my milk!
Sylvie: “Yes, in the pictures, I see Santa and his friends with beards giving presents to baby Jesus, because Christmas is his birthday”.
Max: How come we have presents under the Christmas tree when it is not yet Christmas. Did Santa come already?
 
Oliver: “I waaannt my milk!” He screams.
The conversation went on and on. I think my answers didn’t satisfy the kids.

 

I have now experienced more than seven decades worth of Christmases, and I have pleasant and wonderful memories with those that I can still remember. But the years have extracted their toll and seldom do I recall occurrences in streams. The mustiness and fog concealing precious details are just too thick to penetrate, perhaps locking them forever. But this Christmas would be different. I will record my thoughts and conversations with my grandchildren. It’s just that I miss two of them who are spending the holidays with their mom’s parents; Javier, four years on December 26 and Claudia, two years, one month, in Manila.

 

Max: Lolo can you tell me about your Christmas when you were little?

 

This prompted me to repair to my usual musings which of late I find myself doing; a comfortable state, that relaxes my mind that clinical psychologists say are good for one’s mental health and averts the onslaught of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

I suppose, as in most Christian countries, especially in Catholic ones like the Philippines, Christmas is really celebrated for kids. And even for decades past, our parents brooked no expense just to make this one day, every year, a memorable and festive one. I couldn’t remember a bad Christmas. I don’t remember also when I stopped believing in Santa Claus. Although I was convinced that he must have been a foreigner, because there were no sleigh bells in Calinan pulled by reindeers; and our local deer were skinny and scroungy although the sun-dried venison, called “tapa,” were tasty. And I didn’t like the depiction one Christmas in our parish church of a belen surrounded by farmers, and in the nearby convent, Santa incongruously dressed in a farmer’s clothes with a buri bag of presents and gifts with his kanga pulled by eight papier maché carabaos. I wanted my Santa to remain a Westerner, because foreigners were rich and could afford to give me gifts; although my gifts every Christmas morn never matched my wish list. I must have been a bad boy the whole year; or maybe Santa must have given the toys I wanted to our rich neighbors.

 

I didn’t want to tell these particular experiences to Max, Sylvie, Oliver, Javier and Claudia. I want them to discover by themselves, over time, when they grow up, that Santa does not exist and that a host of other narratives portrayed in the Christmas story were mostly fictional and have been embellished over the millennia.

 

To begin with, Jesus the Christ’s date of birth was never established. Clement, a bishop of Alexandria put Jesus’ birth on November 18, AD. Some scholarly studies put the date at September 11, 3 BCE. Most scholars generally agree that Jesus’ birth was between 7 BC and 2 BC. Only in 4 AD was December 25 decreed by the Catholic Church to be Christmas Day.

 

The Nativity scene where Jesus was born in a manger first appeared in Italy in 1223 and gained traction in Europe in 1500s. He wasn’t born in a stable but probably in a “cave-like place,” or the lower floor of a relative’s house.

 

The “Star” of Bethlehem was probably a nova that was proven by astronomers to appear in the sky on June 17 between the years 3 BC and 2 BC. No three kings visited and adored Jesus in a manger. Scholars believe they were some sort of “wise men” who visited Jesus when he was between one and two years old at his family home.

 

Only in the gospels of Mathew and Luke was the birth of Jesus written about. Mark, the oldest of the gospels, and John started theirs when Jesus was an adult.

 

Now, about Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas, a real person and a fourth century Greek bishop of the town of Myra in the Mediterranean coast of Turkey was believed to be the original Santa Claus. Christian tradition imbued him with characteristics that have undergone changes over time and assumed several identities in European folklore; Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Sinterklass, Pere Noel and many more. His popular image was of an old bearded man who categorized children’s behavior as “naughty, nice, good or bad”; and leave presents for those who were nice or good during the year.

 

The modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat bearded white grand-father-like figure is one borne out of popular culture and immense commercial success that propelled billions of dollars during the Christmas season. He operates from the North Pole with his army of elves producing toys 364 days of the year and with his reindeer-driven sleigh delivers presents to only the good boys and girls on Christmas Eve, December 24. He doesn’t deliver to Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu children.

 

But I will not share this version with Max, Javjav, Sylvie, Oliver and Claudy. This Christmas eve, December 24, I will stay with them with flashlights ready and will try to stay awake. We will wait for midnight and listen to the sleigh bells. Although our house doesn’t have a chimney, we hope to catch a glimpse of Santa when he lands on the roof with his sack of presents, pulled by Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. I have my camera cellphone ready for a quick group picture of my grandkids with Santa; or at least get a selfie with the red-nosed Rudolph pulling the pack.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!
Published in LML Polettiques
Thursday, 21 December 2017 08:29

Martial law extension, revgov, atbp

THE approval by Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year, ending December 2018, deliberated only for four hours despite questionable constitutional parameters, was unprecedented in its speed. Here, the Deegong showed his vaunted “political will” and Congress bowed to it.

 

Now, if only DU30 could whip his super-majority into converting Congress into a constituent assembly (con-ass), with the same speed, to deliberate on the revisions of the 1987 Constitution, paving the way for a shift from the unitary to a federal system of government, then the Filipino will forever be grateful. Unless the DU30 has been playing with us all along and has “dropped the ball on federalism.” But this is a topic for another column. Meanwhile, back to the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

 

The past six months of martial law in Mindanao from May 23, 2017 has unsurprisingly gained public support. The SWS survey released last November 10 showed that 54 percent of Filipinos agreed to the extension of martial law until the end of 2017. With this new initiative, the discussions on the constitutional limits have now been enlarged for public view, and if we were to ask Rep. Lagman, this ML declaration is “constitutionally infirm both as to grounds and duration.” The opposition, principally what is left of the Liberal Party, will now have to await relief from a beleaguered Supreme Court.

 

I can’t fault those opposing martial law as they are reminded of Ferdinand Marcos regime’s making ML synonymous with evil, in contrast to Sen. Koko Pimentel’s description of it as, “benevolent Martial Law,” and the inane remarks of the “pambansang kamao” of martial law being “mas masaya”.

 

Joining the bandwagon is the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) which cited the extension as “not a major concern” and even expressing their positive support to the government to end terrorism, the underlying reason why ML is needed in Mindanao.

 

Terrorism, since even before the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, has assumed a different character and has gone international with diffused local leadership, the latest of which is the IS-inspired sacking of Marawi. (Read my Manila Times columns, “Genesis of IS,” November 9, 2017, and “Marawi aftermath,” November 16, 2017.) Although Marawi has been declared liberated, terrorism is not terminated. It is lurking around and seething within as long as the ancient grudges and injustices are not addressed properly and resolved. The terrorists are reinforcing their ranks and recruitment is taking place outside the environs of Marawi City. The threat of terrorism is real enough to imperil public safety.

 

And these are the main arguments beyond the letter of the law or the Constitution that overarch the need for ML in the hotbed of terrorism, Mindanao. While the defenders of the Constitution argue ML’s unconstitutionality, DU30 looks beyond the formalities of the Constitution and uses his iron fist to ram through his definition of what Article 7, Section 18 means by “…to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” I am ambivalent towards ML and the view that it needs an extension of a year as I am confident that the AFP already has the right tools, the motivated soldiery and an excellent leadership to defeat the forces arrayed against it. And more importantly, they are compelled to act within the purview of the Constitution, in contrast to the Marcos ML when they ran havoc and trod upon the rights of those they were sworn to defend.
 
But the opposition has of late injected another facet to their argument, although
without clear proof, that the extension of ML is a precursor to a declaration by PRRD of military rule for the whole country; and that it is the opening gambit to the Deegong’s assumption of despotic rule. Akbayan party list representative Tom Villarin sees the ML extension as a scheme for ramming con-ass through both houses. He might be proven right; after all a constitutional amendment may quell insurgencies in Mindanao.

 

Villarin’s pronouncements may be a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who have been frustrated by the stasis of government and the unfulfilled election promises blocked by a noisy but irritating minority, especially in the Senate. Martial law in the entire country could break the impasse and overrule the Senate and force the issue on Charter revisions. On the other hand, this assumption is in fact welcomed by the DU30 DDS, zealots and fist pumpers. As gleaned from their social media pronouncements, they are also agitating for an alternative to a legally ticklish revolutionary government that they are enticing the Deegong to declare. House Speaker Alvarez has already telegraphed his acquiescence to the dissolution of both houses.

 

So, there it is! Instead of revgov, go for a nationwide martial law and force the issue on the constitutional revisions shifting from the unitary to the federal-parliamentary system and delete all anti-FDI provisions, and a host of other constitutional provisions and laws protecting and advancing the interests of the oligarchy.

 

But the implications are myriad.

 

First, the viability of martial law for Mindanao for one year is yet to be adjudicated at the Supreme Court with finality, although the odds are in its favor. A more difficult question is an attempt to apply ML to the whole of the country. This will be stretching definitions of preventing and “…suppress(ing) lawless violence, invasion or rebellion…” too far.

 

Second, how will this be taken by a subservient Congress; will the Deegong’s lap-dogs prevail, or will there be enough independent elective officials to counter what could be the height of impunity? Third, there’s a wild card to this: the CPP/NPA may want to play center stage again as they did during the Marcos regime, now that DU30 has reduced them to irrelevancy. And fourth, the MILF/MNLF which have so far been patiently standing down with their arms at rest. How will they be chalked up into the equation.

 

And not the least, how will Filipinos react?
Published in LML Polettiques
Thursday, 21 December 2017 08:29

Martial law extension, revgov, atbp

THE approval by Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year, ending December 2018, deliberated only for four hours despite questionable constitutional parameters, was unprecedented in its speed. Here, the Deegong showed his vaunted “political will” and Congress bowed to it.

 

Now, if only DU30 could whip his super-majority into converting Congress into a constituent assembly (con-ass), with the same speed, to deliberate on the revisions of the 1987 Constitution, paving the way for a shift from the unitary to a federal system of government, then the Filipino will forever be grateful. Unless the DU30 has been playing with us all along and has “dropped the ball on federalism.” But this is a topic for another column. Meanwhile, back to the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

 

The past six months of martial law in Mindanao from May 23, 2017 has unsurprisingly gained public support. The SWS survey released last November 10 showed that 54 percent of Filipinos agreed to the extension of martial law until the end of 2017. With this new initiative, the discussions on the constitutional limits have now been enlarged for public view, and if we were to ask Rep. Lagman, this ML declaration is “constitutionally infirm both as to grounds and duration.” The opposition, principally what is left of the Liberal Party, will now have to await relief from a beleaguered Supreme Court.

 

I can’t fault those opposing martial law as they are reminded of Ferdinand Marcos regime’s making ML synonymous with evil, in contrast to Sen. Koko Pimentel’s description of it as, “benevolent Martial Law,” and the inane remarks of the “pambansang kamao” of martial law being “mas masaya”.

 

Joining the bandwagon is the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Mindanao Business Council (MBC) which cited the extension as “not a major concern” and even expressing their positive support to the government to end terrorism, the underlying reason why ML is needed in Mindanao.

 

Terrorism, since even before the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, has assumed a different character and has gone international with diffused local leadership, the latest of which is the IS-inspired sacking of Marawi. (Read my Manila Times columns, “Genesis of IS,” November 9, 2017, and “Marawi aftermath,” November 16, 2017.) Although Marawi has been declared liberated, terrorism is not terminated. It is lurking around and seething within as long as the ancient grudges and injustices are not addressed properly and resolved. The terrorists are reinforcing their ranks and recruitment is taking place outside the environs of Marawi City. The threat of terrorism is real enough to imperil public safety.

 

And these are the main arguments beyond the letter of the law or the Constitution that overarch the need for ML in the hotbed of terrorism, Mindanao. While the defenders of the Constitution argue ML’s unconstitutionality, DU30 looks beyond the formalities of the Constitution and uses his iron fist to ram through his definition of what Article 7, Section 18 means by “…to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.” I am ambivalent towards ML and the view that it needs an extension of a year as I am confident that the AFP already has the right tools, the motivated soldiery and an excellent leadership to defeat the forces arrayed against it. And more importantly, they are compelled to act within the purview of the Constitution, in contrast to the Marcos ML when they ran havoc and trod upon the rights of those they were sworn to defend.
 
But the opposition has of late injected another facet to their argument, although
without clear proof, that the extension of ML is a precursor to a declaration by PRRD of military rule for the whole country; and that it is the opening gambit to the Deegong’s assumption of despotic rule. Akbayan party list representative Tom Villarin sees the ML extension as a scheme for ramming con-ass through both houses. He might be proven right; after all a constitutional amendment may quell insurgencies in Mindanao.

 

Villarin’s pronouncements may be a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who have been frustrated by the stasis of government and the unfulfilled election promises blocked by a noisy but irritating minority, especially in the Senate. Martial law in the entire country could break the impasse and overrule the Senate and force the issue on Charter revisions. On the other hand, this assumption is in fact welcomed by the DU30 DDS, zealots and fist pumpers. As gleaned from their social media pronouncements, they are also agitating for an alternative to a legally ticklish revolutionary government that they are enticing the Deegong to declare. House Speaker Alvarez has already telegraphed his acquiescence to the dissolution of both houses.

 

So, there it is! Instead of revgov, go for a nationwide martial law and force the issue on the constitutional revisions shifting from the unitary to the federal-parliamentary system and delete all anti-FDI provisions, and a host of other constitutional provisions and laws protecting and advancing the interests of the oligarchy.

 

But the implications are myriad.

 

First, the viability of martial law for Mindanao for one year is yet to be adjudicated at the Supreme Court with finality, although the odds are in its favor. A more difficult question is an attempt to apply ML to the whole of the country. This will be stretching definitions of preventing and “…suppress(ing) lawless violence, invasion or rebellion…” too far.

 

Second, how will this be taken by a subservient Congress; will the Deegong’s lap-dogs prevail, or will there be enough independent elective officials to counter what could be the height of impunity? Third, there’s a wild card to this: the CPP/NPA may want to play center stage again as they did during the Marcos regime, now that DU30 has reduced them to irrelevancy. And fourth, the MILF/MNLF which have so far been patiently standing down with their arms at rest. How will they be chalked up into the equation.

 

And not the least, how will Filipinos react?
Published in LML Polettiques
MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed inciting to rebellion charges against a woman allegedly involved in recruiting foreigners into the country for terrorist activities through social media.

In a 16-page resolution dated last Nov. 27 but was released to media on Wednesday, the DOJ indicted Karen Hamidon for 295 counts of inciting to rebellion under Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10175) before the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

“Respondent’s act of inciting others to commit rebellion was done by posting various messages through social media multiple times,” read the DOJ resolution, which was prepared and signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong and was approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor officer-in-charge Amor Robles and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.

The charges against Hamidon were based on the complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The DOJ said the NBI was able to present evidence that she incited others to the execution of any of the acts of rebellion even as it dismissed the complaint for rebellion for lack of merit.

“Respondent’s acts of inciting others to commit rebellion was done by posting various messages through social media multiple times. In sum, respondent should be charged for 295 counts of inciting to rebellion in violation of Article 138 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175,” it added.

The DOJ also dismissed Hamidon’s claim that she was instigated by an NBI undercover agent to commit the alleged crime.

“The same deserves scant attention, since the contents of the messages and the multiple times these were posted defy her theory of instigation,” the DOJ added.

Government investigators conducting undercover work and a forensic examination had accused Hamidon of using messaging apps Telegram and WhatsApp, where they said she was “prolific in her recruitment and promotion activities for ISIS”.

ISIS is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “The Islamic State invites you to join in the Philippines. We note that the door to immigration is open to the cities of Marawi and (the southern region of) Mindanao,” state investigators quoted Hamidon as saying in a Telegram post.

Hamidon earlier insisted that she was an Islamic missionary who had used social media for religious purposes. Describing herself as a “weak woman”, Hamidon, a former call center agent and flight attendant, said she had no means to take arms against the government.

“As a matter of fact, she owes the government so much because she was raised by her parents through their salaries from being government employees, specifically of the Philippine National Police,” Hamidon’s counter-affidavit stated.

Hamidon denied that she intended to recruit fighters to join the Maute group, who had claimed allegiance to the ISIS.

“I vehemently deny the charges against me because there was an instigation on my part which is illegal. The acts allegedly committed were not done voluntarily and against my will and caprice,” she said in her counter-affidavit.

But for the DOJ, the contents of the messages and the multiple times these were posted “defy her theory of instigation”.

“As to her arguments that she was not committing any crime at the time she was arrested and at the time her mobile phone was seized, and all the aforequoted social media posts do not bear her name, these arguments are evidentiary in character which are best ventilated in a full-blown trial,” the DOJ said in a resolution.

“The presumption prevails that complainants regularly performed their official duties and ordinary course of business has been followed,” it added.

The DOJ recommended that she post a bail bond of PHP20,000 for every count charged against her, or a total of PHP5.9 million.

On the other hand, the DOJ turned down the recommendation of the NBI to file a rebellion case against her since “there is nothing to show that respondent took arms or was in open hostility against the government”.

“Their evidence only points to respondent’s acts of inciting others to the execution of acts of rebellion, among others, to go to Marawi-City or Mindanao and join those fighting for the establishment of a Wilayah of ISIS East Asia,” it said.

Under the law, the DOJ explained she could also be charged with rebellion if those who heeded her call took up arms.

“In this case, there is no showing that rebellion was actually committed by the persons to whom the aforequoted messages were sent,” it said.

The 36-year-old suspect was arrested by operatives of the NBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division at her residence in Taguig City last Oct. 11 and has since been detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

Hamidon is the ex-wife of Singaporean Muhammad Shamin Mohammed Sidek, as well as the widow of slain Ansar Khalifa Philippines (AKP) leader Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Tokboy, who was killed in a shootout with police in Saranggani last January.

Sidek is detained in Singapore for his links with ISIS, while, the AKP has been identified as the group behind the Sept. 2016 Davao City night market bombing, which was done in cooperation with the Maute, and the foiled bombing attempt of the United States Embassy in Manila in December last year. (PNA)
Published in News
Thursday, 14 December 2017 07:54

Terrorists among us

PHILIPPINE independence was technically won by us after the second world war. This was meant to free the country from American tutelage. But after several decades of self-government, it became clear that having done away with our foreign colonizers, we substituted them with those from within. Certain segments of our citizenry always thought of this “independence” as fiction as over the years since 1946, a greater part of our people was still manacled to perpetual poverty brought about by policies that served the interests of the new masters—the emerging and thriving oligarchy that had begun to control both the economic and political levers of power. Thus, several types of peasant uprisings, foremost of which was the Hukbalahap insurrection came into the fore to free the farmers and the downtrodden from the shackles of injustice. All of them failed. But the seething anger within continued to boil until the appropriate time.

 

Thus, in 1968 a call for upheaval was heeded by an academic activist, Jose Ma. Sison (Joma) who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP); a year after, its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), was born.

 

It all began with a popular ideology, overlaid by a patriotic love to free the peasants from oppressive poverty and an idealistic young leadership. From an ember, the revolutionary fervor spread throughout. Six presidents have come and gone, each with a promise to solve the deep-rooted problems seeping into the country’s socio-economic and political fabric. Yet, the status quo prevailed.
The internecine war that ensued has resulted in thousands of deaths with a greater toll among civilians and innocent lives trapped in this madness. Today, the number of casualties continues to rise in the midst of yet another attempt at peace dialogue. But both sides have accused each other of duplicity. The conversation has deteriorated into the language of violence.

 

At this juncture, there can only be one end to this sordid narrative and both protagonists have staked their positions. The government on one end will require the total surrender of the communist rebels, with enticements to bring them back to the fold and quell insurgency thereafter. The revolutionary forces on the other hand, distrustful of government’s inducements has but one ultimate design and that is to take full control of government. Unable to arrive at a political solution, DU30 has of late employed a final gambit, one which the international community (the US and EU) unilaterally allowed itself years ago.
President Duterte recently declared the end of the peace talks with the CPP/NPA. Subsequently on December 5, 2017, he signed a proclamation formally declaring the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations pursuant to Republic Act 10168, or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.

 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said this was because of the “continued violent acts of the CPP-NPA which sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.” The terrorist tag kills any hope of negotiations and reconciliation with the CPP/NPA.

 

To recall, during the campaign, DU30 did a song and dance with this group, culminating in his dramatic televised call to Joma Sison, exiled in the Netherlands, offering to restart the peace talks. As a sweetener, he offered cabinet slots to the CPP once he was elected President. The Deegong became the darling of the Left and it reinforced his street cred as the candidate for the “masa.” He went on to capture the presidency. True to his word, three cabinet slots were reserved for the Left and top CPP/NPA leaders were freed from incarceration to participate in the peace negotiations abroad, at a huge discomfort to the Armed Forces which had shed blood in apprehending these prisoners. All of these moves by the PRRD were done to end the almost five decades of the communist insurgency.

 

Today, a year and half into his presidency, all bets are off.

 

The terrorist label is of course not entirely new. Back in August of 2002 the US listed the CPP/NPA as a terrorist organization, followed by the European Union (EU). The Philippine government refused to tag them as terrorist as there was this hope of a real reconciliation. But over the years, the peace talks with the communists did not go forward and was instead eclipsed by the Bangsamoro peace talks. Also, it was seen that the CPP/NPA Maoist ideology was losing traction and the CPP/NPA had been reduced to acts of brigandage.

 

Earlier, with the euphoric start of the peace talks in Europe, it was obvious that the central leadership based in the Netherlands were not in control of the local CPP/NPA as sporadic attacks and the extortionate acts continued unabated while peace negotiations were going on.

 

With the recent government declaration, Joma is putting up a brave face saying that the terrorist tag means nothing. But it is undeniably a most shameful conclusion to their years of armed struggle. On top of this, the implications for their international standing and the sources of their funding could be damaging. The terrorist declaration by the government freezes and forfeits the property or funds of those designated as terrorist organizations; their support from China ended in 1976; and their various fund-raising activities in Europe have dried up following the 1990 collapse of communist regimes worldwide.

 

The CPP/NPA principally finances itself now by exacting “revolutionary taxes” from businesses, offering the latter “protection,” and by selling “campaign permits” to candidates for elective positions campaigning in the hinterlands. Worse still is their collusion with corrupt police and military personnel selling them small firearms and ammunition.

 

Ideologically, they have become irrelevant. They have been reduced to mere banditry. Impending arrest also awaits the communist leaders from abroad who may be repatriated to the country.

 

The implications on the peace and order situation in the entire country could still be deadly. The CPP/NPA is by far not a spent force. They still have the means to wreak havoc in the countryside and still capable of spilling blood and treasure of the Armed Forces and government. The Deegong’s job is up his alley—decapitate its leadership and those remaining few.

 

We are in for a tumultuous Christmas holidays and beyond. God help us!
Published in LML Polettiques
MANILA — The Philippine Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to extend martial law in Mindanao for the entire 2018.

The Senate and House of Representatives, convening in a joint session, granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus for a period of one year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.
A total of 240 members of Congress voted to approve the resolution of both houses calling for martial law extension in Mindanao, while only 27 voted against it. There was no abstention.

A total of 14 senators voted in favor of the motion and four were against it, while 226 House members approved the motion and 23 rejected it.

Under the Constitution, the Congress, voting jointly, has the sole power to extend martial law. A majority vote of the two chambers — or at least 158 members — is needed to pass the motion.

To recall, President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law last May 23 after terrorists inspired by the Islamic State (IS) laid siege to Marawi City.

Congress, in a special joint session in July, granted the extension of martial law until Dec. 31 this year at the President’s request.

In his letter dated Dec. 8, Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of IS-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

He said extending martial law for another year would help state security forces crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.(Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)
Published in News
MANILA – Malacañang on Monday expressed optimism that Congress would approve President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.

 

“We are hopeful that Congress would see the need for further extension of martial law as explained in PRRD’s official communication to finally put an end to the ongoing rebellion in Mindanao,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

 

“Public safety after all is our primordial concern. We must unite against these evil forces,” he added.

 

Roque said he believes Congress will approve the extension before Dec. 31.

 

”There’s talk that Congress will either convene in joint session either on Wednesday or Thursday. So if it’s Thursday, then they will have to have a special session,” he said.

 

Latest information coming from the House of Representatives on Monday stated that a “Joint Session to consider the request of the President for the further extension of the proclamation of Martial Law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for a period of one year, from Jan 1, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018, will be on Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017, at 9 a.m.”

 

In the meantime, Roque said critics opposed to the extension of martial law in Mindanao “are free to challenge martial law anew in the Supreme Court.”

 

He cited the two petitions filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman before the SC challenging the declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 and the July decision of Congress to extend it to December 31.

 

“He (Lagman) has filed two petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the two earlier declarations of martial law, in both instances, his petitions were denied,” the Palace official said.

 

“He’s welcome to question this third one and I’m confident that the government can justify martial law anew in the Supreme Court,” Roque said.

 

Roque added that even if the one-year extension of martial law is approved by Congress, he assured that “it can be cut short if there is no need for it.”

 

In his letter dated December 8, President Duterte asked Congress to further extend the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao for the entirety of 2018 to totally eradicate terror threats posed by remnants of Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorists and by communist rebels in the region.

 

He said extending the martial law for another year will help state security forces to crush the rebellion in Mindanao and ensure public safety.

 

Duterte highlighted the different threats facing Mindanao, which were part of the security assessment submitted to Malacañang by the AFP and the PNP.

 

He noted that despite the deaths of almost a thousand IS-inspired extremists, including their leaders, in the battle of Marawi, remnants of the group and their supporters have continued their recruitment and training of new members “to carry on the rebellion.”

 

“You will please note that at least 185 persons listed in the martial law arrest orders have remained at large and, in all probability, are presently regrouping and consolidating their forces,” he said.

 

He specifically pointed to the remnants of the IS-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM) as being active in recruiting and consolidating their forces in Central Mindanao.

 

“These activities are geared towards the conduct of intensified atrocities and armed public uprisings in support of their objective of establishing the foundation of a global Islamic caliphate and of a Wilayat not only in the Philippines but also in the whole of Southeast Asia,” Duterte said.

 

The President also cited the terror threat from the Turaifie Group, which has been monitored to be planning to conduct bombings in the Cotabato area.

 

In the meantime, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has been continuously perpetrating violence in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, having initiated a total of 89 violent incidents since the year started.

 

He also cited threats posed by remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula.

 

Duterte alao accused the NPA of taking advantage of the Marawi siege and stepped up terrorist acts against innocent civilians and private entities, as well as guerilla warfare against the security sector and public and government infrastructure.”

 

He said the NPA’s objective was to “purposely seize political power through violent means and supplant the country’s democratic form of government with Communist rule.”

 

The President said the NPA has perpetrated at least 385 atrocities in Mindanao since the year started that resulted in the deaths of 41 state forces and the wounding of 62 others.

 

He said these atrocities also resulted in the deaths of 23 civilians, including a four-month old infant, and the wounding of six others.

 

In the meantime, at least 59 arson incidents against private business and establishment have been carried out by the NPA in Mindanao this year that resulted in the destruction of an estimated PHP 2.2 billion of properties.

 

The President said he was constrained to terminate peace talks with the National Democratic front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA), and later on to tag the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization as a direct result of the said atrocities.

 

“These recent developments involving the NDF-CPP-NPA forebode another year of intensified armed hostilities which, together with other security concerns and described above, continue to make Mindanao the hotbed of rebellion,” he said.

 

“For all these reasons, I ask the Congress of the Philippines to further extend the proclamation of Martial Law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for a period of one year, from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, or for such period of time as the Congress may determine, in accordance with Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Duterte said in his letter. (PNA)
Published in News
MANILA — The military is not inclined to give in to a Christmas truce with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) despite calls by some groups, including the Church.

 

This, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo late Sunday.

 

“The AFP supports the wisdom and wise discretion of the CinC (Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte). He has already declared that there will be no unilateral ceasefire this December. The SND (Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana) has made a similar announcement of his position on the matter,” he added.

 

In the wake of continued NPA attacks, Arevalo said they see no difference this Christmas season.

 

The DND chief earlier said he cannot recommend a “suspension of military operation” against as the CPP-NPA-NDF vowed to intensify attacks against military targets in wake of Proclamation 360 that terminated peace talks and negotiations with the latter.

 

President Duterte signed the proclamation last November 23.
Published in News
MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) to file a formal petition before the regional trial court (RTC) to legally declare the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) a terrorist group.

 

“The Office of Prosecutor General is directed to file necessary application or petition organization with appropriate court for the proscription or declaration of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army as a terrorist organization pursuant to Republic Act (RA) NO. 9372, otherwise known as “Human Security Act of 2007”,” Aguirre said in his Department Order no. 779 dated December 6, 2017.

 

Under Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372, or the Human Security Act of 2007, the DOJ must first seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group of persons could be declared a terrorist and outlawed group.

 

The OPG will also request assistance from the concerned agencies and to submit regular reports of the actions taken in the implementation of the order.
Aguirre expressed confidence that the lower court would grant the government’s request following President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation naming the CPP and NPA as terror organizations on Tuesday.

 

On Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that the President has signed a proclamation formally tagging the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.

 

The Palace spokesperson said the President signed the proclamation pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 10168 or the Human Security Act.

 

Roque said that under the law, affiliate revolutionary groups of the CPP-NPA would now also be considered terrorist groups, and anyone proven to be financing them would be held liable.

 

Citing the pertinent provisions of RA 10168, Roque said that a designated person is “any person or entity designated or identified as a terrorist, as one who finances terrorism or a terrorist organization or group under the applicable United Nations Security Council resolution or by another jurisdiction or supranational jurisdiction and pursuant to the proclamation which implements the Human Security Act.”

 

In his proclamation, Duterte directed the Department of Foreign Affairs “to publish the foregoing designation of CPP-NPA and other designated persons, organizations, in accordance with Sections 3 and 15 of RA 10168 and its implementing rules and regulations.”

 

The proclamation was issued two weeks after the Philippine government terminated peace talks with the CPP-NPA after a series of violent attacks that the President said is against humanitarian law.

 

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had already issued a memorandum to Aguirre to immediately file the necessary application for the declaration of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization with the appropriate RTC.

 

He said this is because a proper petition must be filed by the DOJ in court to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist group under the Human Security Act for the group to be considered as such under domestic laws and under relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

 

Meanwhile, the DOJ has petitioned Manila RTC Branch 32 to void the temporary liberty granted to alleged CPP leaders Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma and Edilberto Silva.

 

Duterte earlier said he considered the CPP-NPA as criminals after the death of a four-month old baby and two other civilians in an ambush that targeted a police convoy in Bukidnon province last month.

 

The CPP-NPA has been in the US list of foreign terrorist organizations since 2002. (Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)
Published in News
Thursday, 07 December 2017 09:44

Aftermath of Nov. 30 non-revgov

“We need a radical change in government. We did not go into a revolutionary government. I don’t want it. Only when everything is turning upside down. Maybe. Hindi nakikinig ang mga gago eh! Bakit ako maghanap ng sakit ng ulo.”
—President Duterte,
Anti-Corruption Summit
November 28, 2017, PICC

 

TWO days after the President’s pronouncements, the November 30 nationwide orchestrated red-uniformed mass action agitating for a revolutionary government pushed through, albeit with pathetically small crowds, perhaps due to the non-support and dire warnings of the President.

 

In the aftermath of these demonstrations, two portents made themselves clear: first, the zealots, the fist-pumpers and the DDS will not be inhibited by the DU30 statement ostensibly sidelining revgov from the political conversation and will persist at self-hype to continue to raise expectations. And for the deprived masses expectations are a contagion.

 

Psychology of the rabble
Second, the mob fired up by social media has acquired a mind of its own and will continue to push beyond the limits of discretion. And when it reaches critical mass, if ever, even the President may not be able to hold them back. The mobs of the French revolution of 1789 and the Bolshevik’s in 1917, come to mind. Although the social and political fabric during those times were different from what we have now, still, the character and psychology of the rabble is essentially the same.

 

The buzz on the street among the fist-pumpers and the DDS is that the November 30 demonstrations were just a foretaste of what’s to come, in obvious defiance of DU30.This dangerous and unthinking horde has thrown an arrogant challenge to the presidency: “…the people have spoken, now the ball is in your court”!

 

In our defective democracy, it is a given that a minority however loud and insufferable, deluding itself to be speaking for ‘the people,’ has the right to be heard; but this frustration-fueled moves, bordering on despair, may prove to be a siren’s song to ruin, instead of a real restructuring of Philippine society, initially through constitutional revisions. The true-believers by their engagements have unwittingly posed a dilemma to the Deegong: ignore the challenge of declaring a revgov and risk their wrath; or accept it and throw the country to the unknown.

 

It doesn’t take rocket science to predict that the Deegong will not kowtow to the demands of those that he has now labeled “mga gago eh!” These people assumed too much by their dare, “…now the ball is in your court!” The Deegong is simply not playing their game.
 
Ambiguous language
But PRRD could be partly to blame as he injected into this cauldron a certain ambiguity to his language that the unthinking mob misinterprets as a veiled invitation analogous to a moth attracted to the flame.

 

Thus, the body language of the PRRD are now interpreted by both the pros and cons to favor a revgov declaration; the former, out of euphoria, the latter out of fear. With this emerging scenario, some critical questions need to be answered. What legal or legitimate mechanism is being exploited to camouflage a revgov decision, one that will allow a sitting president of a state he has been gifted to head, to declare that same state, illegitimate? An interpretation of Hobbes overarching social contract demands an authorizing legal mechanism lest the triumph of DU30’s revgov simply anoints PRRD as a dictator, with the concomitant spilling of blood.

 

If revgov is declared, will the Armed Forces rally to him or stick to its sworn allegiance to a Constitution, however defective that document may be? Will the MNLF/MILF/CPP-NPA just stand by? The “voxpopuli, voxdei” argument won’t wash. But more importantly, will the silent majority of Filipinos, even those level-headed supporters of PRRD, back up the initiative?

 

The “sea of reds” before their next rallies needs to paint workable scenarios to the public, before the majority buys in.

 

Revolutionary government is the raison d’être to fast-track the legitimate desire of a large portion of the Filipino population to free themselves from the shackles of poverty, injustice and a host of problems now identified as a product of an anomalous and perverted oligarchic-driven unitary system of governance. A prescription to these ailments is the revision of the 1987 Constitution and a shift to a parliamentary-federal form of government, one that candidate Duterte championed, which catapulted him to power. A large majority now is calling in that promise. But the Senate and House, the traditional bastion of oligarchic interests, are proving to be a formidable hindrance to the people’s interest. Thus, revgov is seen as the tool to break that impasse.

 

But this is a solution that calls for the anointing of a leader with powers that has spelled disaster to our people. And the argument that revgov is meant to be temporary until the Constitution is revised and the transition to federal-parliamentary system is in place, is at best polemical. Be mindful of Lord Acton’s counsel on the corrupting influence of power.

 

Storm the citadel
The mob needs to redirect its attention towards the principal obstacle and stumbling block to constitutional revisions – Congress, especially the obstinate Senate. As expressed in my previous columns: “There has to be a constitutional and legal way to break the impasse and crack the hold of an impudent (Senate) minority on the body politic. In a democratic system, negotiations are the norm to arrive at an agreement and a win-win solution between parties with divergent and oftentimes contradictory interests. Surely, we need no revgov to have these august members of the Senate see the Deegong’s way through.”

 

The efforts by the zealots to involve the president and the whole country in a questionable and illegal endeavor are best redirected towards the storming of this citadel of oligarchic interests. With their numbers and allies within, “persuasion, pressure and intimidation” are tools best suited to this type of engagement, not rallies and street marches – and thus leave DU30 free to govern the country as he sees fit.

 

As in a festering cancer, what is required is only a surgical operation to alienate and remove the tumor to save the body politic. As the tired saying goes: Think, people, think, outside of the box!
Published in LML Polettiques
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