Remembering 30 years ago at EDSA

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Millions flocking at EDSA to call for Ferdinand Marcos’ ouster.

Today is exactly 30 years after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from power, after more than 20 years as president and dictator, and ascension of Corazon Aquino as president after days of protests at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, as a result of highly polarized but fraudulent results of the snap presidential elections which was called upon by him to quell doubts of his capability to lead the country in midst of declining credibility brought by excesses of Martial Law, assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino in 1983, severe depression in 1984-85, and presidential succession feud between Imelda Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile. These events I’ve mentioned, had created doubts whether Ferdinand Marcos could able to survive as president beyond 1990, given the fact that he was already suffering lupus and could not anymore govern the country by himself but his cohorts. The assassination of his archival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., further tarnished his credibility to govern the nation, not only in the eyes of many who had resisted his regime but the international community led by the United States. The reason on why Ferdinand Marcos called a snap election before American media was to relieve pressures of his regime in the eyes of the American government as he had to rely from them for the survival not only as president but also his planned anointed successor, likely his wife, Imelda.

The presidential campaign for the snap elections was really intense because of mud-slinging from both Marcos and Aquino sides, in order to gain votes for them to assure continuity of the regime beyond 1990 for the Marcoses and reversing all kinds of achievements and excesses of the Marcoses for the Aquinos. On the election day, February 7, 1986, the voting was tense because of harassment done by Marcos supporters to prevent prospective Aquino voters from voting in their respective polling stations and during the counting of votes at the prescient level, there were reports of ballot snatching across the country, especially in areas where Cory Aquino was expected to win, to derail the possibility of Marcos’ defeat in the hands of a mere housewife. When the COMELEC already conducted its quick count for the presidential and vice presidential results, five computer programmers walked out from the Philippine International Convention Center or PICC, the venue of the quick count, claiming that the Marcos camp had already manipulated the results for them. Meanwhile at the Batasang Pambansa, Ferdinand Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, were proclaimed by the assemblymen members, mostly came from KBL, after gathering highest number of votes for their respective positions. These post-election turmoils had resulted into protests which were called upon by Jaime Cardinal Sin on February 22, 1986, calling for the resignation of Ferdinand Marcos and eventually millions of disgruntled people went to EDSA to follow Sin’s call and gained further sympathies after Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos defected from the Marcos camp and joined the protesters. On February 25, 1986, both Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos were inaugurated as presidents of the country where the former made it at the Club Filipino while the latter at the Malacañang, hours later after Cory’s one. At night on the same day, Ferdinand Marcos, together with his First Family and his closest allies fled Malacañang and sent them into exile to Hawaii where three years later, he passed away and after the end of Cory Aquino’s presidency, his body was returned to the country and displayed in his residence in Ilocos Norte, awaiting for a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in the future.

30 years later, the Aquinos and the Marcoses are still active whether in local and national arenas and in fact, the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, Noynoy, is the current president and expected to end his term at the middle of the year while the only son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Bongbong Marcos, is the current senator and right now, running for vice president and if he wins the position, his presidency in 2022 would be seem to be inevitable. The eldest child of Ferdinand and Imelda, Imee, is the current governor of Ilocos Norte. Imelda herself today is the current representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte. All of the candidates of the current presidential and vice presidential elections are veterans themselves of the Marcos regime like Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Gregorio Honasan or children of benefactors and opponents of the Marcos regime like Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano and Mar Roxas. Only Leni Robredo who have no family and political connections with the famous people during the Marcos regime. Most of all, one of the key actors of the EDSA I revolution, Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, are still alive and politically active until this point and both of them, outlived Cory Aquino, who died in 2009 due to colon cancer and her death brought her only son to the presidency. Heck, Jovito Salonga, one of the fervent opponents of Ferdinand Marcos alongside Ninoy Aquino, is still alive at the age of 95, though no longer active with politics since his final senatorial term ended in 1992!

Indeed, many of the actors of the Marcos regime and the EDSA I revolution have survived after 30 years together with the most Filipino people like my parents, uncles, and aunts who had grown up during the Martial Law years and my grandparents, uncles, and aunts who had both supported or resisted the regime and this is the lesson for everyone especially those who were born after EDSA I revolution like me that we should cherish freedom and democracy bestowed upon us after years of struggle of our parents and grandparents under the midst of the excess of the Marcos regime which should not be repeated in foreseeable future. We should be thankful that we are enjoying the free flow of information via internet which we cannot enjoy if we remain under Martial Law.

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My assessment on presidential debate (per candidates’ performances)

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Presidential candidates with their respective podiums before the start of the debate at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro. (taken from COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez’s Twitter account)

Sorry if I’m already too late of posting on this assessment of mine about the performances of presidential candidates during the recently concluded first presidential debate sanctioned by COMELEC at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro as the day after the debate, I had to roam about the city itself before I left for Cebu via Trans Asia 10 at around 8 AM and unfortunately, I could not accessed internet via LTE on board because my tab had low battery and I wasn’t able to bring the charger of it (went off when I was surfing Facebook while sailing around Southern Cebu before I arrived in Cebu City port) and thus, I have to post my assessment, more than 2 days after the debate. My assessment can be accessed also hrough my FB account as I posted it, morning after the debate and before I left Cagayan de Oro for Cebu.

Here are my assessments for each of the candidates’ performances:

1) Poe – she articulated a lot and answered all the questions thrown to her by the moderators well though some of her answers seemed to be a bit improbable like free lunch for pupils.

2) Santiago – well, her declining health had been obvious and stuttered a lot especially about the EDCA issue; nevertheless, her intellectual wit remained for somewhat and would have been a runaway winner of the debate if she was healthy.

3) Duterte – obviously, the rule of the debate didn’t resonate well with his temperament of being a feisty because he and the rest of the candidates in general, were time-limited in answering questions from the hosts and rebutting statements from their opponents and I think, if the debate format was similar to US presidential primary debate, he would have been a runaway winner; nevertheless, he really articulated for somewhat his federalism platform though about eradicating crimes, he was obviously under illusion that he could eradicate them within 6 months at most.

4) Binay – actually his debating performance was really all about defending his accomplishments as being a chief executive in Makati for years and dissing his bitter rival, Mar Roxas though he was able to articulate about his strengths on tackling poverty especially among farmers and actually, his plans are mostly realistic. The debate format prevented him to maximize his strength as a candidate and had the debate was similar to its US counterparts, he could have demolished Roxas or vice versa.

5) Roxas – he really articulated well about the accomplishments of the “Matuwid na Daan” mantra of the current administration but seemed to be focused himself on dissing Binay every time the hosts told him to rebut Binay’s statements. Therefore, he was all about stopping Binay and vice versa and think that there should be a special debate between them to show who’s really a better candidate.

Political machinery still matters

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Jejomar Binay raising the right hand of his running mate, Gringo Honasan. (credits to Yahoo!)

The official campaign season for national positions has already started since Tuesday. The official start of the campaign period signifies that candidates for national position can fully focus themselves in mounting a national campaign without accusations of electioneering that most candidates have been doing for months mostly via social media before last Tuesday. This period is the opportunity for the administration party to spend billions of pesos from the coffers to ensure its candidates to win the election to continue the policies of the current government have been laying down for the past six years. This is also the opportunity for the opposition parties to spread their platforms or sentiments against the current administration just to win support from many who have been disgruntled with the policies, way of governing, or some the person leading the administration.

This election season is way different from the past because of the emergence of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and internet forums which has partially transform the way of discussing your political discernment as the new medium can able those who have internet access to share their sentiments to their friends or to the public within short span of time, seconds by the way, and can able to access news, blogs, or journals from government websites or civil society groups, anytime and anywhere to help formulating your political judgment on certain issues you are interested with.

The emergence of social media has been positive in democratizing the political discourse, though in a middle-scale and mostly enjoyed by middle class people like me right now, but it has not been entrenched yet especially among lower class people coming from the urban slums and provincial areas due to lack of internet access and most of all, lack of education about political participation and socialization due to abysmal educational system where students are trained to be followers not to be leaders because if they are to be trained to be the latter, it would threaten the rich politicians’ grip in power and might result to messy redistribution of wealth in favor to lower class people.

The lower class people without internet access comprise the majority of the Philippine population and the expected voters for the upcoming elections. Because of such reality, presidential candidates especially Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas have been relying support from the grassroots typically from their political leaders like mayors and barangay captains who can mobilize their constituents who are mostly living below poverty line to vote for candidates who are being endorsed by their leaders. Presidential candidates have reasons to reach out with the grassroots because these people could make them president and at the same time, could overthrow them though unlikely these days.

Many netizens would disagree with me based on the title of this article alone, but we must be realistic with our political and economic situations where majority of the electorate can be still bought by politicians during few days before the voting day because of what I said earlier, lack of education about political participation and socialization and poverty where someone belongs under the poverty line have no disposable income to pay internet access just to access what’s happening in our political discourse. If we want to have our elections not being driven by political machinery, we have to alleviate our poverty rate and educate the people about political participation and socialization, so that we can build a numerous and strong middle class sector because these are the people who can discuss and make political judgment based on pragmatism not absolutism or emotionalism that most upper class and lower class people have been basing from respectively.

Why Mar Roxas won’t win the election

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Presidential candidate Mar Roxas interviewed by news presenter Mel Tiangco (credits: GMA News TV).

Honestly, Mar Roxas is one of the most qualified person to become the president of our country for the next six years. He has been in electoral politics for more than two decades since the death of his younger brother, Dinggoy and has been a national figure since former Joseph Estrada appointed him as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and stayed with the post even after Erap’s resignation during EDSA II. He has made several achievements that we are benefiting right now like the flourishing Business Process Outsourcing or BPO (though all credits should not go to him) and cheaper generic medicine. He became senator in 2004 and in fact, elected with highest number of votes during that time because of his posturing as “Mr. Palengke” to connect himself to the masses. He used his senatorial term as a springboard for his ultimate ambition, to become the president of the Republic of the Philippines and since then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became unpopular due to electoral fraud and corruption allegations, he distanced himself from her and after 2007 midterm elections, he was already considered as one of the presidential contenders for 2010 along with then Senate president Manny Villar and then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, his eventual opponent this election. The scenario had changed unfortunately to him when former president Cory Aquino died in August 2009 after suffering with colon cancer and her death immediately changed the landscape of the presidential race that time, 9 months away, by the way. The clamor to let then fellow senator Noynoy Aquino to run for president was increasing and thus, dooming the presidential ambition of Mar Roxas because Noynoy and Mar came from the same party, the Liberal Party, and it would be a destructive to the opposition that time to have both run as president under separate tickets and to prevent factionalism in LP, Mar Roxas eventually gave up his presidential ambition and slid down to as vice presidential candidate for Noynoy Aquino. The election went other ways to them; Noynoy won the presidency while Mar lost the vice presidency to Binay. His defeat didn’t stop him his aspiration to become president as a year later after the election, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Transportation and Communications and another year later due to unfortunate death of Jesse Robredo due to plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government and used the position as the vehicle to his recent presidential candidacy.

Despite of his experiences and qualifications, there are so many hurdles of Mar Roxas’ ambition to become president of our country. Those hurdles have been used repeatedly for many years, by the way. One of the hurdle of his candidacy is his upper-class origin, being a son of former senator Gerry Roxas and grandson of former president Manuel Roxas. Being a member of political upper-class echelon in our society makes him so aloof to the public who mainly come from lower-middle class and lower class echelons as he has a difficultly understanding the plight of those people because of the single fact that he grew up with silver spoon and the general public would obviously cringe his upbringing and this same people would rather rally for allegedly corrupt Jejomar Binay over unblemished Mar Roxas because the former grew up like them while the latter didn’t. Another hurdle to his ambition is his snobbish personality behind the scenes brought by his upbringing as he had inability to deal with several local officials like Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez during the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda as Mar said to Tacloban Mayor that “You’re a Romualdez and the president is Aquino” and those statements made Mar unlikable to become president as being president, you have to be a conciliator and seemed that he cannot do that because it would contradict his grown-up personality. The hurdles I have mentioned are the reasons on why Mar Roxas will not become our president to succeed Benigno Aquino III and I think his presidency would be as mediocre as the current one because of his lack of concrete vision for our country that the electorates have been searching for years. Mar, if you want to save your candidacy, it would be better to support ideas that would alleviate the poverty like removing the foreign equity ownership restrictions from our constitution as you had supported when you were the secretary of DTI during Erap’s presidency.

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.

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.