Brutalized

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That Today photograph which caught an entire family getting high together on solvent demonstrates more than all the doctored government statistics how poverty has brutalized the majority of Filipinos who live–if you can call it living–below the poverty threshold.

This is not to say that all the poor end up sniffing solvent under the bridges of the capital. But many of the very poor–those who sleep in carts, on the pavements and in doorways–do, and it has become so commonplace no one pays too much attention to it. Continue reading

Wishful thinking

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It had never been clear until recently what the Arroyo administration’s policy was on the armed, ideologically driven groups that have been fighting the government. Now that it’s becoming clear, however, one wonders if it’s grounded on sound bases and not just on bluster and wishful thinking.

Toward the MILF Mrs. Arroyo had been ambivalent in both word and deed during the first few months of her presidency. About the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front, she initially said nary a word as to what her government’s policy would be.

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No quid for the quo

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In recounting to the media some of the details of the hourlong meeting between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye emphasized Mrs. Arroyo’s “asking the US to return the favor.”

Bunye said that Mrs. Arroyo in effect told Powell that the US government should reciprocate her administration’s unconditional support for the US “war on terrorism.” Continue reading

Busy, busy, busy

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President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is all over the place these days, now presenting to the media nasty people who snatch cell phones, later nodding her head vigorously as National Bureau of Investigation Director Reynaldo Wycoco wags an accusing finger at Land Bank cashier Acsa Ramirez (who turned out to be the whistle blower, and not a suspect, in a P203 million tax diversion scam in the Bank’s Binangonan branch).

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What’s in a name?

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In this country, everything.

Only a select few in government–presumably and certainly including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Roy Cimatu–have seen the final draft of the proposed Mutual Logistic Support Agreement. Apparently, most of the country’s congressmen have not seen it either, and neither have most of the senators.
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Ople never heard of it

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An “Amboy” is a friend of the United States and a student of its history. The mainstream Left was an admirer–it idolized–the defunct Soviet Union. The armed rebellion that’s been going on in this country since the late sixties is the cause, not a result, of the country’s poverty and backwardness–its lack of development.

These and other misconceptions, historical distortions and sheer ignorance of the facts partly characterized the farewell press conference incoming Arroyo Secretary of Foreign Affairs Blas Ople held last week at the Senate. Ople was reacting to claims from the legal, aboveground militant groups that he was “an Amboy” and had been designated foreign affairs secretary as part of Arroyo government’s apparent determination to deepen Philippine dependence on the United States.
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