A coup of their own

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Add the possibility of a coup to the two most popular arguments currently being advanced by generals, former generals, certain congressmen, and the usual media hacks to stop the House hearings on military corruption.

The first argument, repeated so often its imbecility is beginning to sound like words of wisdom to the unthinking, is that General Carlos F. Garcia is being singled out for persecution. After all, says this argument, there is as much corruption in the rest of the government as there is in the military.

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Poisoned fruit

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Because Francisco Tatad fancies himself a writer–as he is indeed fancied by others who think that all anyone needs to be one is the capacity to put words on paper–one must assume that he chooses his metaphors carefully.

If Tatad was quoted accurately last week, we may thus assume that his description of the Arroyo government as “ripe for the picking” was the result of some thought. Surely he must have considered its appropriateness and nuances, and its capacity to make an otherwise unfamiliar concept familiar through an implied comparison with something known. Continue reading

The last to know

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The corruption in and of the Arroyo government is by now fairly well-established, and so is its ineptness. But it is also rapidly outranking the Estrada administration in stupidity.

The most recent signs of that distinction were supposed to have been exercises in a cunning attempt to defuse the developing crisis of confidence in her administration. Continue reading

Prescription for regime change

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Founded in 1973 with an initial funding of over a million dollars from some of the most extreme right-wingers in US politics (among its first funders was beer brewer Joseph Coors, who has been described as “anti-labor, racist and homophobic”), the Heritage Foundation is probably the most influential policy research organization in the world.

The Foundation first came to full prominence during the two Reagan administrations (1980-1984; 1984-1988), which adopted most of its policy recommendations on domestic and international issues. Those policies included the cutbacks on federal funding for welfare and affirmative-action programs, and the adoption of the disastrously costly and probably unworkable “Star Wars” missile defense system. Overall, in keeping with Heritage’s proclaimed goals, which include “a strong national defense,” the Reagan administration channeled funds to the weapons industries at the expense of social services. Continue reading

Blaming U.P.

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The University of the Philippines is in the middle of choosing its next president. If you’re the kind of newspaper reader who reads everything from the op-ed pages to the lifestyles sections, you might have noticed those “column feeds” and “personality sketches” extolling one of the women candidates that have suddenly materialized in the pages of certain Manila broadsheets.

The subject is a UP professor who’s also a media personality. She once ran for senator but lost, and for this “campaign” she’s also using her media connections to the fullest. Continue reading

Missing in MTPDP obectives: “compliant media”

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Amending the Constitution to allow foreign ownership of the mass media has been proposed since the Fidel V. Ramos administration. It was again suggested during the Estrada presidency, when it went into the back burner because of the furor created by the Estrada impeachment trial, EDSA 2, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s assumption of the presidency.

It has recently been revived–it turns out as part of the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2004-2010, which the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) published recently. Among other intentions, the 2004-2010 MTPDP will also allow foreign ownership of other domestic industries from which foreign investors are banned by the 1987 Constitution. Continue reading

World-class all the way

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In the aftermath of the Oakwood mutiny last year, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Narciso Abaya admitted that there was indeed corruption in the military. While military corruption is no longer news, and the admission did not surprise anyone, General Abaya did say as well that the corruption was “not only at the highest levels (of the Armed Forces). I admit that there is graft and corruption at all levels even down to the company commander level.”

General Abaya, however, drew the line at admitting that the Philippine military was one of the most corrupt in the Asia-Pacific region, as reported by the New York Times. Perhaps because it’s one of the most corrupt in the world rather than just in the region? Continue reading

The sorrows of Soros

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George Soros is many things to many people. To authoritarian regimes, he’s a nuisance who uses his billions, through his Open Society Institute, to fund causes and projects that help undermine their authority. To activists in societies emerging from dictatorship, he’s a Godsend who, when talking about democracy, puts his money where his mouth is by investing millions of dollars in popular initiatives.

To leaders like Muhammad Mahathir of Malaysia, money-market speculator Soros was at least partly responsible for the financial crisis of 1997, and what’s more, allegedly funded through the Southeast Asian Press Alliance the pro-democracy online news site Malaysiakini. Continue reading

Lost cause

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Few probably noticed, and those who did probably didn’t care. September each year will henceforth be “Rule of Law Month,” by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 713. President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo also issued Executive Order 361 last September 22 requiring the Department of Education to include the teaching of the rule of law in the curricula of public elementary and secondary schools all over the country.

Everyone knows, or should know what “the rule of law” means. Like the three square meals a day many Filipinos now don’t have, the rule of law is understood in this country of judges and lawyers primarily through its absence. Continue reading