Beyond 2004

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It now seems likely that the May 10 presidential election will be primarily a contest between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and actor Fernando Poe Jr. The first has all the advantages of incumbency as well as the formidable political machinery of the Lakas Christian- Muslim Democrats. The second has his immense popularity
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The year that was (2)

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The United States has always loomed large in Philippine affairs, despite the supposed end of colonial relations more than 50 years ago.

The country is not much different from many others whose citizens see the United States as a success story they would like to replicate (by aping the capitalist path to development), or to be part of (by immigrating to it). But Filipinos and their leaders are in many ways unique in their often fanatical pro-Americanism.
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The year that was

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For its consequences, whether foreseen or otherwise, the defining event of 2003 was the United States attack on Iraq.

Unilaterally and in violation of international law, for the first time since World War II the US attacked a sovereign country without the fig-leaf of legal fiction. In the process it not only risked (enthusiastically in some of its ruling circles) marginalizing the United Nations. It also antagonized its European allies and undermined the North Atlantic alliance.
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Playing with fire

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If President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo intends to issue a “comprehensive” amnesty proclamation by next year, her proposal deserves serious discussion now. And if it is indeed going to be as she and other administration spokespersons have described it, it must be opposed.
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Ople’s case

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At the time of his death secretary of foreign affairs Blas Ople had reinvented himself more than once. In a past life regarded as a nationalist, his was one of the loudest voices of support for US policies not only in the Philippines but also in Iraq and anywhere else. Once deeply associated with the Marcos dictatorship, and later with the Estrada government, he had assumed the most senior post in the Arroyo Cabinet.
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The impossible team

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If the results of the most recent Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys are correct, there is no political reason why Senator Raul Roco should abandon his candidacy for president and instead run as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s vice president in 2004. Neither does he have any ideological cause to do so.
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Politics as policy

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Those who say that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s decision to allow the execution of death row convicts ten days after she had argued against it was meant to get the support of Chinese Filipinos are wrong. She isn’t just courting the Chinese Filipino community; she’s courting the entire Filipino majority.

None of the polling groups has recently taken a survey on it. But the death penalty is widely popular among the citizenry, including the poor from among whom the flawed justice system draws most of its victims. Businessmen approve of it, and so do most professionals, students, and workers. Certainly, Chinese Filipinos think the death penalty is the best way to stop the kidnappings that target non-Chinese as well.
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Responding to the SWS survey

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Some of its past surveys have elicited skeptical reactions before. But the most recent Social Weather Stations survey has provoked an outright accusation that its results had been rigged.

SWS released its findings on voter preferences for president of the Republic December 3, and in effect confirmed civil society and business community fears that an actor could once again be elected to that post.
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The terrorist terrorized

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Although US President George W. Bush gave the American people an optimistic assessment of the state of the US occupation of Iraq during his US radio address last week, his November 26 visit to Baghdad spoke more eloquently than ten speeches of the actual conditions there.

Bush flew to Iraq for Thanksgiving dinner with US troops under elaborate precautions to assure his safety. The trip was kept from journalists, most of whom were told he would be spending Thanksgiving with his family in his Texas ranch. Up to the last minute, only a handful of US officials in Iraq knew about the two and a half hour visit, during which Bush never left the safety of his security detail and the heavily fortified Baghdad International Airport.
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