The problem with EDSA


They called it a revolution–those who define revolution as any sudden change, which EDSA 1 indeed was. In EDSA 1 the people overthrew Ferdinand Marcos, in a process that was both swift and unprecedented.

That should have meant, as Marcos flew to Hawaii, that his coterie of kin, cronies and military goons would go with him, if not literally into foreign exile, at least figuratively into the everlasting contempt of their victims. They would lose the power they had, as Marcos would lose his. They would no longer have the capacity to torment and to kill, to exploit and to plunder. They would live out their lives in disgrace in internal exile in the country they had shamelessly ruined, and whose people they had brutalized. Continue reading

Philippine sodom


Four bills prohibiting the publication, production, importation, distribution and sale of “obscene” and “pornographic” materials as well as the public performance of live sexual acts have been filed in Congress. A fifth bill would create a government body that would monitor publications and penalize those found to be “obscene”.

The five bills vary in their illiberality as well as literacy. But all share two assumptions. First, they assume and indeed argue that the Philippines is in a state of perdition, assailed by all sorts of immoral and criminal behavior– a veritable Sodom and Gomorrah. Second, they assume and indeed argue that it’s the proliferation of obscene materials and exhibitions that is its cause. All would also make it state policy to protect Filipinos from moral corruption by denying them access to pornography and obscene materials. Continue reading

Method in madness


The Valentine’s Day bombings in Makati, General Santos and Davao, which killed 13 people and injured 150, were certainly terrorist acts, if terrorism is defined as the indiscriminate use of violence to instill fear in furtherance of a particular goal.

It doesn’t matter how noble or debased the goal is. Terrorism is a method independent of the validity or bankruptcy of the goals of those who use it. In every instance, the point is to frighten through the message that everyone can be a target, and to coerce governments into making concessions. In making that point, terrorism kills indiscriminately. Continue reading

Volatile Sulu


The fighting in Sulu has so far claimed 70 casualties among the combatants, and displaced some 2,000 residents of the municipalities affected.

There are only two ways the fighting can go, given the tenacity of the MNLF guerillas and the determination of the AFP leadership to crush them. Either it escalates into another major conflict, or it results in the defeat of the guerillas. One thing is certain, however. Neither the immediate cause of the conflict nor the social and economic realities that have made parts of Mindanao so volatile are likely to end up being wisely addressed. Continue reading

Rarer than rubies


No good deed goes unpunished–and may I add that all evil is either immediately or eventually rewarded. Although many of us suspect that this is true only of the Philippines, this may be a rule of life and an existential truth for all of humanity. The original quote about good deeds is after all attributed to Claire Booth Luce, an American who was as privileged as they come.

It is understandable, nevertheless, why Filipinos should think that injustice reigns only in these islands, and that it is the lot of Filipinos mostly or exclusively and not of others. Continue reading

The heart of the debate


Towards the media in this country there are at least three attitudes.

There is total acceptance of what the media, specifically TV, dish out every day. This is the attitude of most people–the men, women and children in their millions who watch TV news and entertainment without a single critical thought. They clap at the antics of their favorite comic. They gasp at the beauty and fashion sense of their favored women hosts. They accept wholeheartedly the logic of the six o’clock news, which lately has seen more and more emphasis on stories about actors and actresses and less and less about such things as VAT. Continue reading

Hypocrites all


Poverty is the reason most cited for the desperate desire of Filipino workers, most of them women, to leave country and family for jobs abroad.

The women picketing the Japanese embassy in protest over the Japanese government’s new rules on the accreditation of entertainers who want to work in the fabled land of the quick yen said so in as many words, and described unemployment opportunities in the land of their birth as nil, besides. Continue reading

Debasing themselves


A female interrogator wearing only a bra and thong conducts a late-night interrogation of a male detainee. Another removes her shirt while interrogating another male detainee, to reveal that she’s wearing a tight t-shirt. She touches her breasts and rubs them against the prisoner’s back. When the detainee spits on her face, the interrogator leaves the room. After making sure that the water supply to the detainee’s cell is turned off, she smears red ink on her hands, and, returning to the interrogation room and pretending that the ink is menstrual blood, wipes her hand on the detainee’s face. Another female interrogator takes off her uniform top, exposing her brown t-shirt. She runs her fingers through another male detainee’s hair and sits on his lap. Continue reading