Remembering the Mamasapano massacre

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Oplan Exodus PNP Special Action Force Fallen 44 members. (credits to Wikimedia)

Today is the first anniversary of the partly ill-fated Oplan Exodus operation to capture terrorists Marwan and Basit Usman, who were wanted by the United States government for terrorist activities threatening the security of the United States. The operation had postponed many times before it was executed due to fear of the government to alienate the representative of the Moros in the peace talks with the Philippine government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as Marwan and Basit Usman were hiding within the territories controlled by the MILF.

The operation was finally executed on January 25, 2015 because the government had to support the efforts of its American counterparts in fighting extremist Islam terrorism in exchange for military and economic aids expected by our country from the United States. The government had two dilemmas, whether to honor the MILF or the US government, and the dilemmas resolved by choosing the latter and the operation was executed. When the PNP Special Action Force entered the MILF territory where Marwan and Basit Usman hid, MILF told the media that the PNP SAF didn’t ask a permission from them and the MILF’s statement had angered the public arguing that the MILF as a rebel group, the government should do force to capture terrorists at all costs without following the rules of engagement like asking permission from somebody’s controlling the area where the terrorists hid. The chain of command was not followed like preempting DILG secretary and now Liberal Party presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, and instead, the operation was executed mostly upon the orders of PNP chief Alan Purisima and SAF chief Getulio Lapeñas while the president was on a visit in Zamboanga at the time of the operation.

These lapses caused the casualties of 44 PNP SAF members committed by the MILF and the immediate and lasting result of the mishap have been the increased skepticism of the general public with the peace process and the Bangsamoro Basic Law because the representative of the Moro people is the MILF and people cannot anymore trust their sincerity as they have perceived that the MILF would eventually break the proposed peace agreement thru BBL and pursue their long-time dream for independence from the Philippine Republic. For me, had both parties followed the realpolitik not just during the Oplan Exodus operation but for the entire deliberation of the peace process, 44 PNP SAF members would have survived, the people won’t give a fuss about the operation, and the peace deal would have been achieved by now. The Mamasapano massacre basically brought the dream for everlasting peace in Muslim Mindanao into a brink of collapse due to mistrusts by the Christian Filipinos with the peace deal and the false hopes by the Moros that peace deal would be achieved under the representation of the MILF on behalf of them after the massacre. For me also, to achieve the everlasting peace in Muslim Mindanao, I think both Christians, Muslims, and Lumads should be given their desired political autonomy equally like delegating the power to make economic, political, social, and cultural policies to them for their own benefit while at the same time, maintaining the territorial integrity of the country. In other words, evolving federalism should be the route for everlasting peace in our country.

The responsible of the partly ill-fated operation should pay the consequences of their actions so that the soul of slain PNP SAF members would be laid in peace and the people can move on and pursue the dream for political autonomy for everyone for the future welfare of our country.

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Why I am not voting for any presidential and vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 election

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Top (presidential candidates from left to right): Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, Manuel Roxas III, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Bottom (vice presidential candidates from left to right): Gregorio Honasan, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Maria Leonor Robredo, and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Many of my friends, whether online or real life, have been wondering on why I am not going to vote for any presidential or vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 elections. I have acknowledge that this election season, so far, is the most crucial in our recent history as this year is the 30th year after EDSA I revolution which means it’s already a generation ago and the current president is the son of EDSA I president Corazón Aquino who is Benigno Aquino III. So far, compared with two previous presidential elections I’d followed, most of presidential and vice presidential candidates have already presented their platforms once they are elected this coming May 9. Let me discuss every presidential and vice presidential candidate and why I won’t vote for them.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

JEJOMAR BINAY

No one can deny the fact that Jejomar Binay is one of the most ambitious among presidential candidates as he has been vying for the presidency since 2008 and supposedly planned to run as president, only gave up because former president Joseph Estrada had declared his intentions to run in 2010 presidential election and to prevent fragmentation of the lower class or masa vote that time, he had to slide down and ran as vice president with Erap and he won as vice president while Erap lost to current president Aquino.

His platform of government is mainly a continuation of the current administration’s one with populist and some reformist twists like deepening the popular Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps and amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution to align with the ASEAN Integration and future membership with Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. The downside of his candidacy is that he has been embroiled with corruption allegations when he was the Mayor of Makati and has not answered those allegations before the Senate of course for political reasons and instead, he had preferred to connect himself with the lower class voters who can relate with themselves of who he is, from his physical appearance to his rag-to-rich personal history.

I won’t vote for him because I foresee that despite of his planned reforms on economic provisions in the 1987 constitution, which I have vehemently advocated for years, the country will not get better in the long run as he prefers to maintain the political and business establishments to be in their respective places beyond his presidential term. The country, for sure, cannot tolerate another president who has already have allegations of corruption before being elected as president and many his skeptics have already foreseen him as potentially worse than Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo combined in terms of managing country’s coffers.

RODRIGO DUTERTE

Rodrigo Duterte is a reluctant presidential candidate like the current president during 2010 presidential campaign. He is only running for president because he is afraid that his opponent, Grace Poe, would win and have the United States dictate the internal policies of the country as she used to be an American citizen. He had always denied presidential run as late as during the filling of Certificate of Candidacy last October because of family reasons like initial opposition from his daughter, Sara, and his advanced age in which he admitted one time that he might die in office, if he is to be elected as president. In the end of the day, he declared his intentions to run as president last November.

His platform of government is all about revamping the system of government from shifting from current unitary to federal form like in the United States and fighting crime and corruption. His platform of government is the dream of many voters in the country who wants dramatic and systematic changes within their lifetimes and of course, there are oppositions from those who have been benefited with the current system. The downside however, is himself because he is willing to bring his style of governance in Davao City to national sphere which for me, it won’t work because local and national government political realities are far different respectively and many people cannot stomach his iron fist style of governance in the national arena due to experience during Ferdinand Marcos presidency.

I won’t vote for him because it would be difficult to fulfill his plan to shift from unitary to federal form within limited 6-year presidential term and also, his plan to fight crime would only deal small time criminals not big time one like drug lords and politicians who have been involved in crime. His plan to fight corruption would obviously enraged politicians, whether his backers or not, and thus, making his plans for constitutional reform difficult without their support. Therefore, his plan for a wholesale structural constitutional reform is improbable for the next 6 years. I won’t vote for someone who is expected to disappoint the people.

GRACE POE

Grace Poe became a presidential aspirant right after her victory as senator in 2013 senatorial election. Since then, the people had been expecting her to run as president because for a reason that she is the adopted daughter of movie star and former 2004 presidential candidate, Fernando Poe, Jr., who lost the election then due to allegations of electoral fraud ordered by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Before her declaration of presidential candidacy last September, there were negotiations within the ruling Liberal Party to have her as the vice presidential candidate with Mar Roxas, of course, as presidential candidate. The negotiations broke down because Grace Poe didn’t want to become a mere second-fiddle of Mar Roxas because she knew that being a vice president under potential mediocre Roxas presidency would harm her chances of winning as president in 2022, had initial Roxas-Poe tandem proceed. After the negotiations broke down, she declared herself as presidential candidate and picked Chiz Escudero as her vice presidential candidate and right after the announcement, she led the opinion polls until Duterte’s declaration of his own presidential candidacy.

Her platform of government is actually similar to Binay and Roxas, which I’ll discuss later on, with continuation of most initiatives of current Aquino administration with reformist twists according to her declarations like amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution. The downsides of her candidacy are that, she has been embroiled with several disqualification cases against her candidacy due to problems of her residency in the country after she returned from the United States and of course, her foundling status where many law luminaries like Justice Antonio Carpio argued that she must be disqualified because the 1935 constitution, the constitution in force during her birth, never recognized her as natural born because she is a foundling.

I won’t vote for her because of similar reasons of not voting Binay as amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution only without planning to proceed to revise the rest of the constitution beyond her presidential term would perpetuate the political and social problems that have been suffering for years. Unlike him, I don’t think she would enrich herself while in office. Another concern would be the possibility of disqualification after taking office and have Chiz succeed her as president and many people cannot stomach to have him as president through succession not election and that’s the another reason on why I won’t vote for her as the country cannot risk itself another constitutional crisis that could put the country once again as one of the laughing stocks in Asia.

MAR ROXAS

Like Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas has been vying for the office of the president since he was senator, way back 2007, and he had already campaigned for the presidency by the time former president Corazón Aquino died in August 2009 due to colon cancer. The death of former president Cory Aquino changed the landscape of the presidential race that time as many Cory supporters had been clamoring to have her only son, the current president Benigno Aquino III, be the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party. Mar Roxas, after several clamors, eventually slid down from his presidential aspirations and became vice presidential candidate of the current president. The current president eventually won but he unfortunately, lost in a close race to Jejomar Binay. A year later, he was appointed as DOTC secretary and another year later, due to the death of Jesse Robredo via plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as DILG secretary and as a secretary DILG, he served as one of the closest advisers to the president to the extent that he had acted as de facto president in some instances.

His platform of government is really a total continuation of the policies of current Aquino administration and his presidential campaign right now has been revolving around the slogan of Matuwid na Daan or Straight Path in English. One of the downsides of his candidacy is that he is associated with the blunders committed by the Aquino administration for the last 5 years like his decision to terminate contracts for MRT maintenance, dismal handling of the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, and inept dealing with the Mamasapano massacre. Another downside of his candidacy is his inability to connect with the majority lower class voters despite of his several posturings or epalisms since he was a senatorial candidate in 2004 and these voters have already been fed up of his actions and want someone who comes from their ranks which he doesn’t come from them.

I won’t for him because the downsides of current administration might worsen the country in the long-run and might tarnish the legacies of Cory and Noynoy presidencies forever through his incompetence in running the country. Without piecemeal constitutional reform as he promised, nothing will occur to our country for good. In other words, Mar Roxas presidency will be the maintenance of the whole status quo since 1986.

MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO

Miriam Defensor-Santiago has already been a presidential candidate for three times and her first attempt in 1992, she nearly won due to division of Cory Aquino votes between Fidel Ramos, Ramón Mitra, Jovito Salonga, and Salvador Laurel and division of Ferdinand Marcos votes between Imelda Marcos and Danding Cojuangco. In her second attempt in 1998, only less than million had voted for her due to Joseph Estrada’s candidacy, thus her candidacy back then was not taken seriously by the people. While her presidential dream had become elusive over time until recently, she has become a senator for two occasions from 1995 to 2001 and from 2004 up to the present and she has passed hundreds or thousands of bills that we are enjoying right now. For me, along with Juan Ponce-Enrile, she is one of the most astute politicians I’ve ever seen because of her ability to stand issues which can be liked by some and be hated by other, thus she’s not afraid of alienation as long as she stand with her principles.

Her platform of government is actually composes of needed social reforms that most of her potential voters, the youth, wanted like anti discrimination law for LGBTs or legalizing divorce. She has also promised like Binay, Poe, and Duterte, to amend the economic provisions of our 1987 constitution. The downsides however, are that she had only announced her candidacy when she thought that Rodrigo Duterte was not running until his eventual declaration in November and thus, her candidacy was unplanned and doesn’t even have political ads on free TV to disseminate her candidacy. Her health is still in question to some despite the fact that her doctors declared her as lung cancer free.

I won’t vote for her because I afraid that her cancer might reappear during her term and if gets worse and die in office, her running mate, Bongbong Marcos, would succeed her as president and people especially the older one who have grown up during Martial Law years, would surely enraged Bongbong presidency especially if he becomes president through succession not election. Another is that, the current presidential system doesn’t suit to Miriam’s style of leadership because she might be tempted to abuse executive power to apply her agenda.

VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

GRINGO HONASAN

Gringo Honasan only ran for vice president because Jejomar Binay had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate as leading aspirants like Bongbong Marcos, had rejected his offer, so that, their future presidential candidacies won’t be derailed with an association with corruption-tained Binay. In other words, Gringo is a reluctant candidate for vice president.

I won’t vote for him not because of his history as coup-plotter during Cory Aquino presidency but because he won’t be that productive as vice president compared as a senator right now. His image has been rehabilitated because he has chosen to be a senator not to be as vice president or president that once he aspired when he made coup attempts against former president Cory Aquino and for sure, her supporters would be horrified with his presence in Malacañang.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

In 2013, Alan Peter Cayetano originally aspired himself to be the president this year and in fact, launched an exploratory committee to find out whether his ambition to become president is feasible or not. The whole thing had changed after the Mamasapano Massacre as he used to be one of the proponents of Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL and since he knew that BBL had become unpopular among the majority Christian Filipinos, he withdrew from supporting the proposed law and became an ardent opponent of it. His later opposition has angered the Moros who have been expecting the BBL to be passed before the closure of the current 16th Congress and since he knew their opposition and possible backlash to him if he pursued his planned presidential bid, he slid down to vice presidential race and Rodrigo Duterte picked him as his vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s a typical airhead populist politician who has swayed supporting a bill which could have been good for the Moros for the sake of pandering the sentiments of majority Christian Filipinos who have been opposing the BBL due to lack of understanding with autonomy for the Moros and I don’t want to have him dictate whosoever becomes president in decision-making especially the matters like BBL.

CHIZ ESCUDERO

Chiz Escudero is perhaps, one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation because of the fact that he served as one of the ardent critics of previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration and many people have had adored his opposition to unpopular Arroyo that time. He was the responsible person who made Jejomar Binay’s vice presidency possible while at the same time, he campaigned the presidential candidacy of the current president who is his close friend. But, his friendship with the current president was not reciprocated by the latter during the first three years of the administration because the president had preferred Mar Roxas instead of him and that was the reason when the time Grace Poe was elected as senator and her presidential candidacy became inevitable, he moved closer to her and became her closest adviser as he used to be the closest adviser to her adopted father in 2004 and because of that, he was rewarded by becoming her vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s an obvious a power hungry person and ready to back stab any politicians he felt never followed his personal ambitions to become president someday. Politics aside, he broke his own family by abandoning his first wife and his children to marry his current wife, Heart Evangelista, despite the fact that Heart’s parents had opposed her marriage with a politician like Chiz. If he becomes vice president while Grace Poe is disqualified while in office, he would become the president through succession and people don’t want to repeat the EDSA II fiasco anytime soon, so no to Chiz Escudero.

LENI ROBREDO

Leni Robredo like Gringo Honasan, is a reluctant vice presidential candidate, as Mar Roxas like Jejomar Binay, had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate after negotiations with Grace Poe to have her as his vice presidential candidate, broke down due to conflicting ambitions. Since Grace Poe was already off the table, the Liberal Party tried to convince the widow of late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, Leni, to run as vice president for Mar Roxas. At first, she turned down the offer but after several weeks before the filing of Certificate of Candidacy in October, she finally accepted the offer of the Liberal Party to become its vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for her because for me, she is too premature to join national politics especially becoming vice president or president given that she had only entered politics, less than a year after the unfortunate plane crash of her husband in Masbate, and our recent experience shows that those who have lesser experiences in LGU and Congressional politics, have a hard time to adjust him/herself to the responsibilities as vice president and especially, president. The current president is the manifestation of that inexperience, although he had been 12 years in the Congress, he had a hard time to adjust to higher executive job as critics would like to say that his government is akin to a typical supreme student government in schools and universities. I don’t want the experience of the current president be repeated to Leni even though she is running for vice president. She should have run as senator this election instead as vice president.

BONGBONG MARCOS

Like Chiz Escudero, Bongbong Marcos is also one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation as being one of the heirs of Ferdinand Marcos and many people have expected that he could restore the upsides of his father even though many of those who have expecting him were not born yet during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Many Marcos opponents had taught that EDSA I revolution would be the end of Marcos political hegemony but they were wrong as few years after the revolution, Marcos family was able to restore electoral politics where Bongbong’s elder sister became congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte, he himself became governor of Ilocos Norte, and his mother, Imelda, has become congresswoman of Ilocos Norte today despite of her advanced age. As senator, he has never disappointed his supporters and has proved his critics wrong by passing several bills that have become laws in which ironically, many of those are being supported by the current Aquino administration. The downside however of his vice presidential candidacy is that he carries the baggage of being a Marcos and many people especially those who suffered the atrocities of Martial Law including the family of the current president, won’t accept to have him in Malacañang in the future as president, so while he is still running as vice president, they will find ways to stop him from getting the second highest position in the country as they knew that once he wins the vice presidency, his presidency would be inevitable.

Perhaps, he’s the most qualified person to become vice president but I won’t vote for him because I don’t want political dynasties in the national sphere be perpetuated with his future vice presidency or presidency itself. I don’t want also that if Miriam wins and dies in office, he would succeed her through succession because becoming a president through succession would become someone less legitimate in the eyes of the people and I don’t want to happen that to Bongbong. I have foreseen him actually as the winner of the vice presidential race because of the fact that he’s the only vice presidential candidate well known across regions and social classes.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Even though I’m not going to vote with anyone of presidential or vice presidential candidates, but I’m ready to work with whosoever wins as president and vice president because I have already a vision for a better Philippines and I want not just the expected winners of this election but the future leaders to educate and understand my visions for a better Philippines be applied, so that future generations should enjoy before I die of advanced age.

 

 

 

 

On PNoy’s decision of vetoing the 2,000 pesos increase in monthly pension

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President Benigno Aquino III vetoed 2,000 pesos increase in monthly pension.

Last Friday, President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the House Bill No. 5842 or an act mandating a two thousand pesos (P2,000) across-the-board increase in the monthly pension. The proposed House Bill seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act No. 1661 or the Social Security System Act of 1997.

The bill was easily passed in both houses because the deliberation was already coincided with the ongoing electoral season and to win votes from millions of pensions who could benefit from the increase of monthly pension. The president decided to veto the bill because of fragile financial capacity of SSS in the long-term. He justified his veto by saying that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all its obligations to 31 million SSS members could be met. Of course, pensioners were not amazed of the president’s decision because they had expected that he will leave a sentimental legacy to them before he leaves office and help his presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, to win the presidential derby over other 4 presidential candidates.
Well, there are around 2.15 million pensioners awaiting for 2,000 pesos increase in monthly pension and SSS has annual investment income of 30 to 40 billion pesos and if you multiply 2,000 pesos monthly pension increase by 2.15 million pensioners who are expected to receive the increase, the SSS has to pay them 4.3 billion pesos per month. If you multiply 4.3 billion pesos by 13 months (including 13th month pay), SSS will pay pensioners with 55.9 billion pesos this year alone and that’s way beyond the annual investment income of estimated maximum of 40 billion pesos. By using simple mathematics, the SSS has to drastically increase the monthly contribution by more than 100% from its members to support 2,000 pesos monthly pension increase and I don’t think members will support drastic monthly contribution increase. The bill will really hurt both working members and pensions in the long-run and lawmakers should stop pandering to certain voting groups in exchange for votes this coming election. Don’t make SSS a piggy bank by certain populist politicians.

Welcome back!

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Got my aspired degree last October 2015.

Folks, I am back after more than two years of hiatus due to my pressing academic commitments I had to face during my third and fourth years of my undergraduate studies. I had to set aside blogging because the path to graduate as a Political Science degree holder was really rough than what I used to imagine. It was rough because I studied at one of the elite universities in the Visayas, the University of San Carlos and its Political Science program is considered to be the toughest but rigid for me, because its students and graduates are groomed to be average, if not great, followers of the current political system instead of being great critical thinkers and advocates. Many of my colleagues in the Political Science department of the University of San Carlos, were not able to finish the degree because professors taught that they were ready enough to engage in such rigorous research crafting, from making a proposal until the publication stage, as most of us had never grow up gathering detail information in certain political issue during their formative years. I myself failed the proposal stage once because it was not crafted well, so I had to take the second time and passed after all and paved way to my graduation last October 24, 2015. I am glad that I was able to graduate but with the full implementation of K to 12 curriculum this coming AY 2016-2017, I think it is a high time for universities with social science programs to focus more with application instead with theories like any typical medical schools where medical technology students for example, are given an adequate time of one year of applying what they have learned from class lectures through internship in different hospitals and I think social science students especially political science ones, should be given opportunities to apply what they have learned from class lectures through a prolonged internship with any institutions or organizations, not just within the Philippines but also abroad.

For the past two and a half years since I took a break from blogging, the country and the rest of the world have changed a lot because of combinations of decision-making of leaders for many years that have taken effect today. Few months after I stopped publishing articles in this blog, the catastrophic typhoon Yolanda struck the country, damaged infrastructures in some areas in the Visayas, and probably cost 10,000 lives at most and for me, human activity had something to do with the tragedy as massive consumption of coal and hydrocarbons by humans for the past three centuries, had altered the climate realities than what the nature wanted. In relation with massive consumption of coal and hydrocarbons, the prices of both commodities have continued to plummet since mid-2014 because of overproduction of crude oil from the United States primarily as a result of the advancements of hydraulic fracturing or fracking while the economic growth in emerging economies, primarily China, has cooled down due to exhaustion of export-first economic model as developed countries are too cautious in spending money of buying stuffs from emerging economies and domestic markets of emerging countries like China are not yet ready to fill the gap left by developed countries, thus lesser economic growth in emerging economies means lesser demand for commodities that could have driven prices up. The process of healing the conflict between the majority Christian and minority Moro Muslims went bumpy in 2015 because of ill-fated Mamasapano massacre where 44 policemen were killed in action by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF while they successfully captured and killed the wanted terrorist named Marwan while Basit Usman was killed few months later. The aftermath of Mamasapano massacre had raised questions of the capability and sincerity of the MILF to surrender armed struggle for parliamentary participation from those who has opposed the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law where MILF is the representative for the Moro people. As of this moment of writing this article, the 2016 presidential election has been brewing and for me, neither of the candidates for presidency are deserving to serve the country for the next six years due to the reasons that I will have to discuss in my future articles. Well, I hope everyone will discern and enjoy my perspectives for enlightenment purposes.