The Supreme Court decision declaring the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy unconstitutional has been hailed by militant and human rights groups as a blow against tyranny. But the usual suspects in the Arroyo regime are talking as if it were a declaration in behalf of suppression.

Leading the pack is the Secretary of (in)Justice, whose warped logic saw a cloud in the silver lining the SC decision should have been. He declared that the government had won because the Court affirmed the validity of BP 880 (the Marcos-era law requires demonstrators to get permits). Throwing in their two cents’ worth–the exact value of their opinions–were the regime’s police lackeys, who saw in the SC decision only a license to refuse rally permits. Continue reading

Advocacy of Silence


Presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor was into paroxysms of outrage over the heckling of his boss by a graduating student and some guests during last Friday’s commencement exercises of the Cavite State University.

The outgoing Student Government President shouted in the middle of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s speech that she should step down. Maria Theresa Pangilinan and some guests unfurled streamers demanding the same thing and protesting charter change. Although Defensor said the protesters should have been more polite, we can safely assume that he would have vastly preferred that they had kept silent. Continue reading



Politically aware Filipinos have learned to expect the worst from Raul Gonzalez. His statements and acts have become as much a part of the sorrows of existence as typhoons, dengue fever, malnutrition, injustice, poverty and putrid government.

But Gonzalez still manages to outrage. Among other reasons, he is so loyal to his Malacanang patron he will say and do anything to help keep her there. But there’s also his sense of humor. Most of the time it makes no sense, but isn’t humor either. Continue reading

That Easter message


Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has commuted the death sentences of the 1,205 convicts on death row to life imprisonment. Many will argue that she did so to earn brownie points with the Catholic Church, and incidentally to appease those human rights groups similarly opposed to the death penalty. They will see a connection between Mrs. Arroyo’s sub-zero popularity, the “people’s initiative” the bishops of the Church have opposed, and her decision.

About the bishops’ approval there can be no doubt. Mrs. Arroyo has to blunt their opposition to her and her House allies’ plan to force constitutional amendments down the nation’s collective throats, and Easter provided her the opportunity. Continue reading

All of the above


Most Filipinos don’t want Constitutional amendments, let alone the wholesale rewriting the advocates of charter change (“Cha Cha”) favor. That’s what the most recent surveys say.

The March 2006 Pulse Asia survey found that 54 percent of Filipinos oppose amending the Constitution. Some 33 percent are in favor, while 13 percent are undecided. A huge 64 percent oppose the proposal to change the present bicameral legislature (with its House and Representatives and Senate) into a unicameral one (meaning without the Senate), while 79 percent oppose proposals to allow foreign ownership of land, among others. Continue reading



Ambassador to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. asked New York Times readers to come to the Philippines to “breathe the air of freedom” in a letter to that newspaper last week. But as if to validate what the Times had said in its April 5 editorial, a demonstration at Manila’s Chino Roces (Mendiola) bridge was dispersed by the police with water cannon, leaving the participants sopping wet and breathless, on the same day the department of foreign affairs made Baja’s letter public.

Baja was replying to the Times editorial “Dark Days for Philippine Democracy”. Continue reading

Irony of ironies


To emphasize that–of course–Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not about to do a Thaksin by resigning her post, her political affairs adviser declared the other day that the situations of the resigned Thai prime minister and of his boss are “totally” different.

Gabriel Claudio said there’s not only a difference in the forms of government, but also in the levels of outrage in Thailand and the Philippines. Furthermore, while there was gloom, outrage and pessimism in Thailand before Thaksin Shinawatra decided to resign as Thai prime minister, there is “far greater optimism on the part of Filipinos”. Continue reading

The devil’s scripture


The devil himself can cite scripture–and so can lawbreakers cite the law, and liars accuse others of lying. Traditional politicians (“trapos” in the Philippine setting) thus usurp the texts of people empowerment to disempower the people, and accuse others of being trapos in the process. The most resistant to change, they also cite the need for change so they can prevent it.

These horrors aren’t happening in a nightmare world only Stephen King can imagine. They’re in the reality called the Philippines that no television reality show can ever really recreate. Continue reading