Against Technicism

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(Address delivered during the University of the Philippines
College of Mass Communication Commencement Exercises, April 24, 2005.)

If all roads once led to Rome, today all roads lead to the homeland of another empire–into the very belly of the beast itself.

Social Weather Stations tells us that more than a fifth of the population–20 percent, or some 16 million souls– want to leave the country in response to the brutal realities of economic need, in the desire to assure themselves a future staying in the country of their birth cannot give, or in a quest for order the chaos and violence of Philippine society cannot provide. Continue reading

Missing the point—again

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Despite martial law in the Philippines and the defeat of the United States and its favored regime in Vietnam in 1975, is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) still missing the point?

AFP intelligence does seem to be familiar with events in Vietnam, where the communist-led National Liberation Front (or the “Viet Cong” as the United States referred to them) won power in 1975. But a media briefing by a Philippine Navy intelligence officer last week didn’t mention the country’s own martial law experience at all. Continue reading

Missing the point

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No one has alleged that the killing of journalists in the Philippines since 1986 is part of a government conspiracy. Most journalists’ groups have ascribed the continuing killings to a number of factors in the communities instead.

First among these factors is the partisanship and weakness of the justice system, despite the “strong Republic”. The failure of local police agencies in all 66 cases except one to apprehend suspects has encouraged further killings. In the one exception to this rule, the Edgar Damalerio case, the trial of the ex-policeman-suspect has had to be moved from Pagadian City to Cebu City because Damalerio’s family, the witnesses to the crime as well as prosecutors feared for their lives. Continue reading

Knowing the enemy

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The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is understandably alarmed. A military Power Point presentation entitled “Know Your Enemy” includes NUJP in its list of groups that supposedly comprise the “legal machinery” of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Besides NUJP, the presentation also puts the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in the same category.

NUJP says it heard about the presentation last December from someone who sat through it, but its officers saw an actual copy only last week. Journalists who somehow managed to sit through the briefing say it was meant for field intelligence officers, and that the source seems to be ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines). Continue reading

Damaged and damaging

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Few would be surprised if a policeman appeared in the list of suspects in the Maundy Thursday killing of journalist Marlene Esperat. Policemen, after all, have their fingerprints all over the 2002 killing of Pagadian City journalist Edgar Damalerio.

The alleged triggerman was an active duty policeman when Damalerio was shot dead on a busy Pagadian street in May three years ago. The city police did all it could to mislead the media and the prosecutors of the case. At one point the police implicated the witnesses in the killing and named a local criminal, who was not in Pagadian at the time of the murder, as the killer. Continue reading