Lito Monico Lorenzana

Lito Monico Lorenzana

Thursday, 22 February 2018 14:38

EDSA people power – then and now

TODAY is the start of the four-day commemoration of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986. After 32 years, the euphoria of those days has subsided; the memory of people dancing in the streets upon the news of a dictator fleeing Malacañang into the bosom of his erstwhile sponsor, America, is simply just that – a fading memory.

And the Deegong, who toned down the celebration last year, has at last appointed people to the EDSA People Power Commission (EPPC). Foremost among these commissioners are Christopher Carrion, an original of the 1986 EDSA and one of the founders of the Spirit of EDSA, Inc., that over the years has managed to perpetuate its memory. The other is Joey Concepcion, the industrialist son of President Cory’s first Secretary of Trade and Industry, Jose Concepcion, Jr. President Duterte must have thought hard on the symbolism of these appointments, the old and the new; the former, to stamp his imprimatur for the original rationale of EDSA, “…the abrogation of a dictatorship and restoration of democracy…”; and the latter, to pass on the torch to the new face of EDSA, one without its socio-political warts and connotations of failed promises. Perhaps DU30 is sending the message that however one interprets whatever the lessons and recriminations of the past, they must be subsumed to a larger purpose—the emancipation of the Filipino from the shackles of decades-long stark poverty, injustice and corruption.

President Duterte too was a child of EDSA, a derivative of its restructuring. A mere city prosecutor, he was flung into a political life when, upon the refusal by his mother Nanay Soling of an offer to become OIC Vice Mayor of Davao in 1986 by President Cory Aquino, the son assumed the role. History is replete with such twists of fate.

People on both sides of EDSA have interpreted its meaning over the years through the prism of each individual’s deep-seated beliefs, values and biases. Today, the perception of the winners and losers of EDSA are as convoluted as it was in 1986. No one is neutral on EDSA, except perhaps the millennials whose collective ethos have no intimate bond with the realities of those days. Perhaps this is inevitable as the passing of the years must strip away the “chaff from the grain.”

Perhaps, this is meant to be. Many of the participants in the decades-long struggle leading towards those fateful four days are now past their 50s. And the cruel onslaught of age, has decimated our peers, but time has likewise liberated our ranks, septuagenarians and nonagenarians from the prison of the of familiarity of the not so recent past. Thus, we may now look back dispassionately upon those days with a more judicious eye. We are a dying breed and will carry the memories with us to our graves. But our recollections and interpretations of those days have been put in paper. When the corpus is dead, the written words live. These are excerpts.

I am edsa. We are edsa.
(The Manila Times, March 2, 2017)

“I was wrong on my expectations about the ‘restoration of democracy.’ What was restored came with the re-establishment of the rule of an oligarchy and the continued perpetuation of traditional politics – albeit with a new set of personalities.

Many of us in the decades-long struggle for real democracy from the mid-1960s, adherents of parliamentary-federal structure of government, were enthusiastic in supporting Cory Aquino as she was our symbol against the repressive dictatorship. We understood too that she was from the elite and her values therefore were those of her class but we were hopeful that she would transcend these with the outpouring of love and adulation shown by the masses – whose values were not congruent to hers.

A few of us recruited to her administration implored her to continue to rule under the revolutionary Constitution to give herself more time to dismantle not only the martial law structures but the unitary system of government which we then and still now believe perverted the principles of democratic governance. We were no match for the ruling class. Cory surrendered her prerogatives to real socio-economic-political reforms by rejecting the people’s gift – the 1986 revolutionary Constitution. She then proceeded to embed her dogmas in her 1987 Constitution.

This is the Constitution guarded zealously by her son Pnoy that President Duterte and we the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP)…and the majority of the downtrodden Filipinos want to replace; with a federal-parliamentary system and a social market economy (SOME).”

What happened to edsa
(The Manila Times, March 9, 2017)

“The Yellows …
We were all ‘Yellows’ then as this was the color we wore after the assassination of Ninoy, symbolizing our protest against this dastardly act, and our struggle to boot out the dictator Marcos from power and institute real reforms.

Some of us are no longer Yellows… Our perception of EDSA and our role in it runs counter to what is now being peddled mostly by those of the recent past administration. Our take is that EDSA is not an Aquino family franchise, nor just a mere booting out of the Marcos family. And this is not a narrative of entitlements of two families.

The Marcos Loyalist Reds…
The hundred yellow ribbons ‘round the old oak tree’ may soon be covered by Red ones as the influx of Marcos supporters slowly inched their way into the political consciousness during the past years from their solid base in the Marcos homeland in the north. This resurgence can be attributed to the tolerance…of President Fidel Ramos, a cousin, who allowed the return of the dictator’s remains under strict conditions agreed to by the Marcos family, which agreement was reneged upon, perhaps, with the quiet acquiescence of the FVR administration. This paved the way for the complete rehabilitation of the family by PRRD who has admitted to his own father’s debt of gratitude to the father Ferdinand and his own fondness for the son, Bongbong. The son also did his part by demonstrating filial love – a trait much valued by the Filipino. On his run for the vice presidency, the Filipino millennial responded in kind. They are a powerful and versatile force that has clearly distorted the equation—partially alienating the yellows.”

I wrote these words in the past. I stand by them. But my children and my grandchildren will have a different take. And it is inevitable and only proper. But I also wrote these in summation:

“Perhaps the colors, Yellow and Red, will lose their significance and everything negative attached to them. Perhaps, the rise of a leader (DU30) who was himself a product of EDSA but tried to heal its wounds is what is needed in this time and age.”

I close my EDSA memories with a tinge of hope.
THE Deegong this week released 19 names of the 25-man consultative committee headed by former Chief Justice Puno, a perfect choice. This group will now meet to review the 1987 Constitution and within six months, submit to the President its findings and recommendations. This could then be the position of the Executive, to shift to a federal-parliamentary or federal-presidential system.

Ostensibly, this will advance the move by DU30 to put in play a major election pledge. But behind the platitudes are the details, where the devil resides. The delicate issues range from the political structure to the economic underpinnings of the revised constitution and perforce the profile of the coming Philippine Republic.

Meanwhile, the Senate and the House of Representative broke their impasse, with each body constituting itself as a “constituent assembly” and begin deliberations on the details of the revision of the 1987 constitution. The mode of “voting separately or jointly” will be deferred to sometime in the future, postponing what could be the ultimate deal-breaker.
But in the same breath, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas has defined its relationship with the consultative committee, demarcating its turf: “It cannot and will not work in tandem with Congress. Of course, Congress may consider the commission’s recommendations, as well as those of any citizen, and may adopt or not adopt them at all”.

 

What we have today

(Refer to “Centrist Proposals”, www.cdpi.asia, The Manila Times articles, “Death and Taxes”, June 23, 2016 and “CDP Roadmap to Federalism”, May 11, 2017.)

“The Philippines is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. The central government is supreme and the administrative division or local government units exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them. Central government is therefore ultimately the source of power (upon the consent of the governed) and can choose to delegate, decentralize and devolve powers but can unilaterally revoke or take them back.

“We also have a presidential system where the executive branch led by a president serves as head of state and head of government and executes the laws of the land. Such laws are legislated by a bicameral body of a senate and house of representatives, and interpreted by the judiciary. In theory, although the 3 branches of government are coequal, in practice, the president is “primus inter-pares” and in fact dominant.”

 

What we want

A parliamentary-federal system (the Centrist position, CDP/CDPI)
“We want a system where power and authority are not centralized but shared between a Federal Government and States (regions, sub-states, etc.). This system allows states to develop themselves the way they see fit based on their culture and specific conditions. Some areas of public life are under the control of the Federal government (security & defense, money & coinage, diplomacy, and foreign affairs, etc.). Some are left to the states (education, revenue generation & taxation, franchises licenses, and permits, etc.), and some are shared (raising taxes, borrowing money, criminal justice, etc.). These are all guaranteed in the constitution.

“We also want a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary government. Briefly, Parliamentary system is known too as “Party Government”, as the political parties have ascendancy over personalities and because of the pivotal role of political parties in parliamentary elections, governance and public administrations. In our proposal, the legislative and the executive powers are fused in a unicameral parliament. The “Head of the Government” is the Prime Minister with his cabinet recruited from among the members of Parliament, while the President is the “Head of State” and Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces. He is elected from among the members of Parliament. The Prime Minister (Head of Government) can be booted out of office through a “vote of no confidence, not impeachment.”

Putting in place some preconditions

But before all of these must come to pass, and during the actual revision of the 1987 Constitution, the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) and its political institute (CDPI) proposes three steps:

Step 1. Put in place now four critical preconditions: initiate electoral reforms; write in the revised constitution a self-executory anti-political dynasty provision; pass a real freedom of information law(FOI); but more importantly pass the Political Party Development and Financing Act (a bill pending in Congress for several years now, HB 49, 403, and 159). The latter will penalize “turncoatism,” (or the switching of political parties); and enforce transparent mechanisms to regulate and eliminate corruption and patronage—removing dependence of candidates on big corporate and individual contributors—through state subsidies that will professionalize political parties by supporting their political education and campaign initiatives.

Step 2. Right after the plebiscite in May 2019, transit immediately into a parliamentary government, also known as “party government” because of the pivotal role of political parties. The “newness” of this governmental form may take more time for calibration for our institutions and our leaders to acclimatize to this new political regimen.

Step 3. Parliament allows the provinces and highly urbanized component cities to evolve first to an “autonomous territory.” “Self-determination” is central to this decision. Government can’t impose on the body politic the territories that will eventually become states in a federal format. Provinces and cities need to negotiate as to actual territories and population to encompass a bigger state; the considerations of the natural resources and wealth; the similarity of customs and language; and even the seat of the state capitals. Some of the provinces and cities will be ahead of the pack and some will be laggards so the development of a federated republic will not be uniform. All these need time and with guidance from parliament.

 

By the time the President steps down in 2022, the parliamentary government will be in place. The head of government will be chosen by virtue of the political party majority or through party coalitions. The president or head of state will be elected from among the members of parliament.

And we will be well on our way to a federal form of government.
Thursday, 11 January 2018 17:51

The Don is dead; federalism, atbp

“DON Mayo is dead! Long Live Don Mayo!

We are just into the beginning of the new year and two events occurred: one is personal; and the other, institutional. But both related.

Mario Antonio “Mayo” G. Lopez passed away at dawn last Saturday, January 7, 2018. Very fitting indeed as this was the feast day of the “Three Kings,” the official end of the Catholic celebration of the Christmas season. I would like to believe that the three Magi from the past ushered out Mayo, escorting him to the Lord as they did visiting baby Jesus 2,000 years ago. But knowing Mayo, the reality in fact is more sanguine, if not dramatic. He exited this world “…on his own terms and at his own choosing.” What could be more histrionic than that! The bugger didn’t even wait for me to say goodbye. I texted Kuku, his wife, “ang haligi ng kanyang buhay,” for permission to visit him after the holidays as I had to spend Christmas with my grandkids in Davao. She said to visit anytime. I was in the 6:30 a.m. plane to Manila yesterday and reviewed FB postings and bedside photos with Mayo by Raffy Alunan and Babes Flores, our Harvard colleagues. And then this sudden news.
“Kuku, I’m inside the plane to Manila now when I got the news in FB. I was hoping to visit and see Mayo before he leaves us. Now I regret not flying from Davao earlier. I love the guy. I hope he forgives me.”

Her reply:

“Don Lito, he loves you too. And there is nothing to forgive. He knew you were with the family.”
I have this nagging feeling that Don Mayo left centerstage just before I flew in to see him to stress me out and to prove a point that he is in control. What impeccable timing for an exit scene.

“Don Mayo” and “Don Lito” were names we addressed each other. These titles underscore a special but quirky bondharking back to the early 1990s when we organized, along with Willy Villarama, Art Aguilar, Babes Flores and Angelo Reyes, the KSG-Harvard Alumni where they made me president for several years. Don Mayo was purportedly my “consigliere” although he was more a godfather than I. We were “conspirators” in one sense and spent time in idle chatter (whenever I flew in from Davao) concocting humorous scenarios and stories about our Harvard colleagues, with Kuku oftentimes berating us for being “unkind.” But mostly we analyze and critique most everything, especially official acts of government, from the administrations of Fidel, Erap, Gloria to PNoy, where our solution to the problems of the country was simple and elegant—“kill the miscreants.” Don Mayo may be snickering somewhere in the beyond to observe that the Deegong is now actually implementing our original solution.

Which brings me to the other facet of our relationship. I invited him to be a member of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) board of advisors. He was a valued member of the small group of political technocrats that help CDPI process centrist positions on issues of the day. Among those in the board are Pepe Abueva, CJ Puno, Rufus Rodriguez, Francis Manglapus, Ed Tayao, Philip Camara, Mon Casiple, Linda Jimeno, Malou Tiquia, Peter Koeppinger and Benedikt Seemann.

Don Mayo was my go-to guy when we formulate economic provisions some of which are incorporated in the “Centrist Proposal for the Revision of the 1987 Constitution”. We often clash and disagree on certain ideas on political economy but improving in the process overall quality of discussions. These documents are also partly a legacy of Don Mayo.

Towards the end, Kuku would accompany him to our CDPI board of advisors’ dinner-meetings, making this steadfast exemplar companion part of the proceedings. He was becoming weaker but still had his superb sense of humor. And upon meeting we still bow to each other on one bended knee and putting our right hand to each other’s forehead. He first, and I reciprocate; a ritual we last did in June of 2017. We will do this again when we next meet – but not sooner, I hope.

 
The Centrist proposal
The printed version of the centrist proposal in booklet form has just been released, courtesy of the Vibal Group (available upon request). It’s a pity that Don Mayo didn’t get his special copy. This week, Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Political Party (CDP) provided copies to each of the members of the House, the 23 members of the Cenate, justices of the Supreme Court and all members of the cabinet and PRRD and VP Robredo. The salient points will be discussed in my column next Thursday. But those serious adherents of federalism should refer to my Manila Times column article (“CDP roadmap to federalism,” May 11, 2017), or access www.cdpi.asia).

This version was presented to the Malacañang Press last September upon the behest of the then presidential spokesman, Secretary Ernie Abella. This was also printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) for a comparative analysis along with the PDP-Laban and the congressional committee versions. Hopefully, this will be taken up in the 25-man consultative commission of President Duterte, if ever.

Towards the end, Don Mayo and I were still texting about political and economic issues, but they became of lesser and lesser importance. His FB postings were becoming more personal, familiar and warmer with photos of his wife, Kuku, and family. Funny, but in some ways, we never did get to meet each other’s children, only our wives. Several months back, we decided to have dinner at La Cabrera with Kuku and his four sons. We postponed the date twice. His last txt to me was last October: “Don Lito, we’ll find time for our steak and wine dinner when my health improves.”
It never did.

So, Don Mayo, I will have that dinner with Kuku and your four sons after “babang luksa”– period of formal bereavement. Then Kuku, your sons and I will raise our glasses of Malbec, to our health and to your memory.

Salud! Please don’t expect to see me sooner.
Thursday, 11 January 2018 15:51

The Don is dead; federalism, atbp

“DON Mayo is dead! Long Live Don Mayo!

We are just into the beginning of the new year and two events occurred: one is personal; and the other, institutional. But both related.

Mario Antonio “Mayo” G. Lopez passed away at dawn last Saturday, January 7, 2018. Very fitting indeed as this was the feast day of the “Three Kings,” the official end of the Catholic celebration of the Christmas season. I would like to believe that the three Magi from the past ushered out Mayo, escorting him to the Lord as they did visiting baby Jesus 2,000 years ago. But knowing Mayo, the reality in fact is more sanguine, if not dramatic. He exited this world “…on his own terms and at his own choosing.” What could be more histrionic than that! The bugger didn’t even wait for me to say goodbye. I texted Kuku, his wife, “ang haligi ng kanyang buhay,” for permission to visit him after the holidays as I had to spend Christmas with my grandkids in Davao. She said to visit anytime. I was in the 6:30 a.m. plane to Manila yesterday and reviewed FB postings and bedside photos with Mayo by Raffy Alunan and Babes Flores, our Harvard colleagues. And then this sudden news.

“Kuku, I’m inside the plane to Manila now when I got the news in FB. I was hoping to visit and see Mayo before he leaves us. Now I regret not flying from Davao earlier. I love the guy. I hope he forgives me.”

Her reply:

“Don Lito, he loves you too. And there is nothing to forgive. He knew you were with the family.”

I have this nagging feeling that Don Mayo left centerstage just before I flew in to see him to stress me out and to prove a point that he is in control. What impeccable timing for an exit scene.

“Don Mayo” and “Don Lito” were names we addressed each other. These titles underscore a special but quirky bondharking back to the early 1990s when we organized, along with Willy Villarama, Art Aguilar, Babes Flores and Angelo Reyes, the KSG-Harvard Alumni where they made me president for several years. Don Mayo was purportedly my “consigliere” although he was more a godfather than I. We were “conspirators” in one sense and spent time in idle chatter (whenever I flew in from Davao) concocting humorous scenarios and stories about our Harvard colleagues, with Kuku oftentimes berating us for being “unkind.” But mostly we analyze and critique most everything, especially official acts of government, from the administrations of Fidel, Erap, Gloria to PNoy, where our solution to the problems of the country was simple and elegant—“kill the miscreants.” Don Mayo may be snickering somewhere in the beyond to observe that the Deegong is now actually implementing our original solution.

Which brings me to the other facet of our relationship. I invited him to be a member of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) board of advisors. He was a valued member of the small group of political technocrats that help CDPI process centrist positions on issues of the day. Among those in the board are Pepe Abueva, CJ Puno, Rufus Rodriguez, Francis Manglapus, Ed Tayao, Philip Camara, Mon Casiple, Linda Jimeno, Malou Tiquia, Peter Koeppinger and Benedikt Seemann.

Don Mayo was my go-to guy when we formulate economic provisions some of which are incorporated in the “Centrist Proposal for the Revision of the 1987 Constitution”. We often clash and disagree on certain ideas on political economy but improving in the process overall quality of discussions. These documents are also partly a legacy of Don Mayo.

Towards the end, Kuku would accompany him to our CDPI board of advisors’ dinner-meetings, making this steadfast exemplar companion part of the proceedings. He was becoming weaker but still had his superb sense of humor. And upon meeting we still bow to each other on one bended knee and putting our right hand to each other’s forehead. He first, and I reciprocate; a ritual we last did in June of 2017. We will do this again when we next meet – but not sooner, I hope.

The Centrist proposal

The printed version of the centrist proposal in booklet form has just been released, courtesy of the Vibal Group (available upon request). It’s a pity that Don Mayo didn’t get his special copy. This week, Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Political Party (CDP) provided copies to each of the members of the House, the 23 members of the Cenate, justices of the Supreme Court and all members of the cabinet and PRRD and VP Robredo. The salient points will be discussed in my column next Thursday. But those serious adherents of federalism should refer to my Manila Times column article (“CDP roadmap to federalism,” May 11, 2017), or access www.cdpi.asia).

This version was presented to the Malacañang Press last September upon the behest of the then presidential spokesman, Secretary Ernie Abella. This was also printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) for a comparative analysis along with the PDP-Laban and the congressional committee versions. Hopefully, this will be taken up in the 25-man consultative commission of President Duterte, if ever.

Towards the end, Don Mayo and I were still texting about political and economic issues, but they became of lesser and lesser importance. His FB postings were becoming more personal, familiar and warmer with photos of his wife, Kuku, and family. Funny, but in some ways, we never did get to meet each other’s children, only our wives. Several months back, we decided to have dinner at La Cabrera with Kuku and his four sons. We postponed the date twice. His last txt to me was last October: “Don Lito, we’ll find time for our steak and wine dinner when my health improves.”

It never did.

So, Don Mayo, I will have that dinner with Kuku and your four sons after “babang luksa”– period of formal bereavement. Then Kuku, your sons and I will raise our glasses of Malbec, to our health and to your memory.

Salud! Please don’t expect to see me sooner.

Thursday, 11 January 2018 17:51

The Don is dead; federalism, atbp

“DON Mayo is dead! Long Live Don Mayo!

We are just into the beginning of the new year and two events occurred: one is personal; and the other, institutional. But both related.

Mario Antonio “Mayo” G. Lopez passed away at dawn last Saturday, January 7, 2018. Very fitting indeed as this was the feast day of the “Three Kings,” the official end of the Catholic celebration of the Christmas season. I would like to believe that the three Magi from the past ushered out Mayo, escorting him to the Lord as they did visiting baby Jesus 2,000 years ago. But knowing Mayo, the reality in fact is more sanguine, if not dramatic. He exited this world “…on his own terms and at his own choosing.” What could be more histrionic than that! The bugger didn’t even wait for me to say goodbye. I texted Kuku, his wife, “ang haligi ng kanyang buhay,” for permission to visit him after the holidays as I had to spend Christmas with my grandkids in Davao. She said to visit anytime. I was in the 6:30 a.m. plane to Manila yesterday and reviewed FB postings and bedside photos with Mayo by Raffy Alunan and Babes Flores, our Harvard colleagues. And then this sudden news.
“Kuku, I’m inside the plane to Manila now when I got the news in FB. I was hoping to visit and see Mayo before he leaves us. Now I regret not flying from Davao earlier. I love the guy. I hope he forgives me.”

Her reply:

“Don Lito, he loves you too. And there is nothing to forgive. He knew you were with the family.”
I have this nagging feeling that Don Mayo left centerstage just before I flew in to see him to stress me out and to prove a point that he is in control. What impeccable timing for an exit scene.

“Don Mayo” and “Don Lito” were names we addressed each other. These titles underscore a special but quirky bondharking back to the early 1990s when we organized, along with Willy Villarama, Art Aguilar, Babes Flores and Angelo Reyes, the KSG-Harvard Alumni where they made me president for several years. Don Mayo was purportedly my “consigliere” although he was more a godfather than I. We were “conspirators” in one sense and spent time in idle chatter (whenever I flew in from Davao) concocting humorous scenarios and stories about our Harvard colleagues, with Kuku oftentimes berating us for being “unkind.” But mostly we analyze and critique most everything, especially official acts of government, from the administrations of Fidel, Erap, Gloria to PNoy, where our solution to the problems of the country was simple and elegant—“kill the miscreants.” Don Mayo may be snickering somewhere in the beyond to observe that the Deegong is now actually implementing our original solution.

Which brings me to the other facet of our relationship. I invited him to be a member of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) board of advisors. He was a valued member of the small group of political technocrats that help CDPI process centrist positions on issues of the day. Among those in the board are Pepe Abueva, CJ Puno, Rufus Rodriguez, Francis Manglapus, Ed Tayao, Philip Camara, Mon Casiple, Linda Jimeno, Malou Tiquia, Peter Koeppinger and Benedikt Seemann.

Don Mayo was my go-to guy when we formulate economic provisions some of which are incorporated in the “Centrist Proposal for the Revision of the 1987 Constitution”. We often clash and disagree on certain ideas on political economy but improving in the process overall quality of discussions. These documents are also partly a legacy of Don Mayo.

Towards the end, Kuku would accompany him to our CDPI board of advisors’ dinner-meetings, making this steadfast exemplar companion part of the proceedings. He was becoming weaker but still had his superb sense of humor. And upon meeting we still bow to each other on one bended knee and putting our right hand to each other’s forehead. He first, and I reciprocate; a ritual we last did in June of 2017. We will do this again when we next meet – but not sooner, I hope.

 
The Centrist proposal
The printed version of the centrist proposal in booklet form has just been released, courtesy of the Vibal Group (available upon request). It’s a pity that Don Mayo didn’t get his special copy. This week, Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Political Party (CDP) provided copies to each of the members of the House, the 23 members of the Cenate, justices of the Supreme Court and all members of the cabinet and PRRD and VP Robredo. The salient points will be discussed in my column next Thursday. But those serious adherents of federalism should refer to my Manila Times column article (“CDP roadmap to federalism,” May 11, 2017), or access www.cdpi.asia).

This version was presented to the Malacañang Press last September upon the behest of the then presidential spokesman, Secretary Ernie Abella. This was also printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) for a comparative analysis along with the PDP-Laban and the congressional committee versions. Hopefully, this will be taken up in the 25-man consultative commission of President Duterte, if ever.

Towards the end, Don Mayo and I were still texting about political and economic issues, but they became of lesser and lesser importance. His FB postings were becoming more personal, familiar and warmer with photos of his wife, Kuku, and family. Funny, but in some ways, we never did get to meet each other’s children, only our wives. Several months back, we decided to have dinner at La Cabrera with Kuku and his four sons. We postponed the date twice. His last txt to me was last October: “Don Lito, we’ll find time for our steak and wine dinner when my health improves.”
It never did.

So, Don Mayo, I will have that dinner with Kuku and your four sons after “babang luksa”– period of formal bereavement. Then Kuku, your sons and I will raise our glasses of Malbec, to our health and to your memory.

Salud! Please don’t expect to see me sooner.
Thursday, 04 January 2018 13:08

My New Year’s resolutions, atbp

IN my last article for 2017, I wrote about a “Politically correct Christmas story?”. I didn’t share this with my grandkids. But I retained a clipping of that article for them to muse upon when they are older and have shed their innocence and sense of wonder and have become “grown-ups,” starting their lives of cynicism and distrust. By then I may have been gone from their lives.

 

On my first column this year, 2018, I will write on the concept of a “new year” that is different for each culture and perhaps extract what single important factor compels people to resolve to change some aspect of their lives for the rest of the year; aside from the coming year being a “fresh start” of a series of 12 months or so.

 

First, there is nothing new about New Year. We have had an eternal cycle of new years since man started keeping track of time and the seasons. This was simply a convention formalized by Pope Gregory XIII to synchronize the earth’s seasons with those of the Christian religious celebrations, particularly Easter no, which is normally celebrated on the first day of spring, or the vernal equinox. This confusion was largely caused by the 364 and 1/4th days of the Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar and used by the Western world for 1,600 yrs.

 

The Gregorian Calendar is now universally accepted although some Muslim countries still use, for religious purposes, an Islamic calendar based on the Hijrah (July 622 AD), when Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah. These instructions are basically based on the Qur’an and his pronouncements that, “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumaada and Sha’ban.” In some sense, the Gregorian and Islamic calendars don’t synchronize and therefore Islamic New Year is not celebrated on January 1.

 

Chinese New Year likewise is not celebrated in the first day of January. Known as the Spring Festival based on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, it is a movable date. Compared to the Gregorian Calendar, Chinese New Year roughly falls between January 21 and February 20, as it begins with the new moon.

 

In the Rabbinical Jewish tradition, New Year is celebrated as Rosh Hashanah, commemorating the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the creation’s first man and woman. This is roughly equivalent to the Gregorian calendar date of September 9, 2018. In other denominations of the Jewish faith, celebration of New Year falls on different dates.

 

But for most of us following the Gregorian calendar, every January 1, people from all walks of life put thoughts and promises into paper. I do this intermittently myself and used to list down five New Year’s resolutions. There is something magical about the number 5; thus, I never put on paper less than or more than 5. It’s always “My 5 New Year’s Resolutions.” Maybe 5 resolutions are doable; beyond 5 are impossible to hold on to.
 
In my experience, twenty percent of these resolutions, I normally hold on to for two weeks, then I’m left with 4 for the next 52 weeks. But somewhere between January and May 4, my birthdate, I drop them all. Some resolutions I have been doing repeatedly for several years now but was successful only 50 percent of the time. I have kept some of the resolutions on a leather-covered notebook (a gift from my GF).

 

In 1974, I resolved to reduce my alcohol intake and stop smoking. This was easy as this was the first year after I decided to make my GF an ex, and we were expecting our first child. My pocket then could no longer afford tuba, kotil & sioktong– the alcohol of choice of people from Calinan. But I did stop smoking Snowman for a few weeks. I was a healthy 174 lbs. (77kgs).

 

In the coming years, as I inched up the socio-economic ladder, I acquired tastes commensurate to my status. I started on beer and indulged in whisky – preferably scotch; and smoked Philip Morris and Salem Menthol 100.

 

In 1985, reluctant to give up the finer things in life, I resolved (in fact pressured by my better-half), to go into a physical fitness regimen for 12 months; considering too that Lara and Carlo were now 11 and 8 years old, respectively. I gave up cigarettes and switched to Habanos and Tabacalera Coronas. I bloated to 190 lbs (86 kgs).

 

My regimen lasted two months, more or less, as the parliament of the streets that started in the last quarter of 1983 became a substitute. This turmoil built-up to a climax in February 1986, when I was recruited into government. Perhaps the pressure and stress under Cory’s government ballooned me up to an unhealthy 210 lbs (93 kgs). None of my new year’s resolutions were kept. And I had acquired chronic obstructive pulmonary Disease (COPD).

 

The morning of January 1, 2018, Oliver, my two-year-old woke me up with him sitting on my tummy irreverently calling out “fat tummy Lolo”. I already gave up cigars and cigarettes and moderated my alcohol intake shifting to Lagarde Malbec and Argentinian Chardonnay and Torrontes, but my bathroom scale insolently registered my weight at an unhealthy 240 lbs. (109kgs). At breakfast with my family, I asked their opinion about New Year’s resolutions.

 

Max, my five year 9 nine months oldest grandkid volunteered. And here on record is another list of 5 New Year’s resolution; in his raw language.

 

“Lolo, I want you not to be cranky. You are always cranky…I heard this from Momsie,” (his Lola Sylvia, my tormentor and my wife).

 

“Don’t go to MCD (McDonald’s) and only eat good sandwiches”.

 

“Take less sugar, and eat less cake even on your birthday”.

 

“Exercise more on your gym, Lolo”

 

“I want you to be healthy and don’t get a heart attack”.

 

This last item is the unspoken core of my grandson’s anxieties as he still can’t accept the possibility of his Lolo leaving him and going to heaven. I think I have found at last my motivations for carrying out my New Year’s resolutions. And if I fail again, I will just restart my 5 New Year’s resolution not on another new year but perhaps on my birthday May 4.

 

Happy New Year, a prosperous one and a safe 2018 to all!
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!
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?
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?
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!
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