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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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.

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.

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.

Ways to maintain our independence as a nation in the future

Happy 115th independence day, Philippines.

Happy 115th independence day, Philippines.

Today is the 115th anniversary of the independence of our country from 333 year rule of the Spaniards. 115 years ago, Emilio Aguinaldo waved the our flag for the first time in his residence balcony in Kawit, Cavite. The independence declaration was made possible because the Spanish rule in our country was crumbling due to American’s intrusion at the Manila Bay and a decade-long insurrection by the Filipinos to  overthrow the Spanish rule. However, Emilio Aguinaldo’s declaration of independence was not recognized by either Spaniards nor by the Americans as when the United States handily defeated Spain, the Spanish government decided to cede Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico into American control with $20 million (1898 price) payment by the US to Spain after 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippine archipelago. Filipinos tried to kick the Americans out of the country in the early 20th century, but they never succeeded it because of American’s’ superiority on warfare and the cholera outbreak that killed lots of Filipino civilians as much as the casualties at the battlefield. The Americans controlled our country for almost 50 years, with the exception of 3-year Japanese occupation during WWII, and granted our independence on 4 July 1946.

However for the past 66 years, we have not achieved the real vision of our founding fathers to have our citizens a sense of independence like well-off life for example. Many of our compatriots thinking that we would have been a lot better right now had the Americans never granted us a political independence, but for me, that is wrong because from the start, Americans did not want to rule our country and they only colonized our country to serve as a platform for American business interests to have a trade with our larger neighbor, China. Many of our compatriots have left the country and prefer to be servants of American, Chinese, European, Japanese, or other employers because our government due to our rotten constitution, does not give an opportunity for businesses especially foreign to generate jobs for our compatriots in the remote areas. Our government for the past 66 years have failed us of fulfilling their empty promises during election campaign periods and swindle our tax money paid for them to supposedly spend for social services.

For the recent years, our neighboring countries like China, Taiwan ROC, and Malaysia have threatening our sovereignty while we Filipinos cannot properly think on how to counter them because of our inferior economy and lots of our compatriots are working with those countries. Our political and economic systems enshrined in our 1987 constitution are inadequate to address these external threats. Our shallow sense of knee-jerk national pride does not help either.

A month ago, I posted on my Facebook account and Skyscraper.com forum my suggestion to maintain our independence as a nation in the future like reserving the economic model we have right now from exporting our workers to importing foreign MNCs with 100% control of their investments across economic sectors and flooding our country with African, American, Chinese,  European, Indian, Japanese, Korean immigrants to strengthen and diversify our country’s culture. While the first suggestion was acceptable, the second one was intriguing for most commenters on my FB account and Skyscraper.com especially the suggestion of mine of flooding our country with Chinese immigrants where some of them branded me as “racist” or so on.  Diversifying our culture and demographics are the most essential way for our country to adopt and survive with this global cultural, economic, and perhaps, political integrations. I want to have skilled immigrants from around the world to develop our country’s economy that current Austronesian Filipinos cannot fulfill at most.

I have come to think with that because it will be impossible for our country to defeat China, Taiwan, and Malaysia if we agitate for a war which no one will win but more casualties.  Defeating them especially China will be futile if we never understand their culture because their civilization has existed for more than 5000 years and it will not demoralize them if our demographics are mostly Austronesian, but rather it will motive them to harass our national sovereignty. I believe the only way to defeat China is not fighting them with our firearms but aping their culture to be like them because China will only stop threatening our national sovereignty if our culture and demographics are at least similar to them.

Vacation is over; classes will start again

University of San Carlos, Cebu City.

University of San Carlos, Cebu City.

Vacation is over and classes of entire schools and colleges have to start classes tomorrow. Summer vacation (from late March to early June) is the funniest period of the year for any students at all levels, from kinder to college.  My Facebook news feed of today has been flooded with statuses by my friends (mostly at the college level) about the last day of long summer vacation and the first day of class tomorrow with sadness that vacation is already over. I myself almost didn’t spend summer vacation because I had to take summer classes with subjects where I haven’t taken during the regular school calender for the past two years of attending Political Science at the University of San Carlos.  This was the second consecutive year where I had to attend summer classes, but it was necessary for me to graduate by March 2015 at earliest or by October 2015 at latest.  We understand on why lament about vacation’s last day however, life is not all about relaxing anywhere with our friends but it is all about achieving our ambitions we want in the future that cannot be achieved without resorting to hard work like attending school to finish a degree then gain a stable job or start a business to support ourselves and perhaps, our future respective families. Without to resorting hard work for most of a year, I don’t think we would finish our studies, let alone achieving our ambitions.

For the past 15 years attending school, I would say that I am doing the right thing to continue with it until I finish my studies in two years, despite of temptations to quit schooling which I could have after my elementary graduation due to my severe depression I suffered when my friend of mine suddenly quit from schooling, a year before I graduated from elementary. For the past 15 years attending school, I am not aiming for accolades like being an honor student, let alone of being a dean’s lister, but I am only aiming to fulfill all curricular requisites given to me for a particular year in order to go further until right now, where I am an incoming third year college student and hopefully, I could finish my studies in two years time.  For the past 15 years attending school, I have learned my things in my life that a decade ago, I’d expect not to learn it because of the availability of the internet where I could obtain lots of information from it and share it to everyone online through social networking sites, online discussion groups, and many more.

What I wish for the next 15 years or beyond is that for myself of course, I could get a stable job anywhere in the world and for my countrymen, my advocacy that I have been fighting for can be implemented for real change of our country that every Filipinos have wish for it for many years. I have already accepted the predicament that I cannot be a leader of my country someday because I am just a merely average middle-class citizen who does not have a political connection with the government, let alone having a political family name, but what I and most Filipinos who are aspiring for real change in our political and economic system want is to have our and future leaders to listen our sentiments for change.

My colleagues, I would like to say that if you have a determination and money to attend school, do not waste the money and time given by your parents for unnecessary things like excess nightlife, taking illegal dangerous drugs, having a sex with someone without knowing future responsibilities, skipping school classes, and many more and give your utmost effect on schooling because finishing of it will assure you a better future and an assurance to live within your means until you die.