Stopping the killings

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US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney says the United States is concerned over the ongoing killing of journalists and activists, and other human rights violations in the Philippines.

It should be. The Philippines is a “major Non-NATO ally” of the US, according to that great genius, George W. Bush. But that icon of world leadership understated the extent of the current government’s loyalty to the US– as well as the Philippines’ place, if not in the US’ heart, at least in its global strategy. Continue reading

In another country

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Journalist Jose Torres is absolutely correct. Raul Gonzalez, secretary of what’s laughingly called the department of justice, doesn’t have the faintest idea about press freedom. He doesn’t know what it is, he wouldn’t recognize it even if he fell face-first on it, and he wouldn’t care for it even if he did understand it.

Torres, Secretary General of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, was reacting to Gonzalez’ declaration that he was amenable to arming media people in the wake of the unremitting murder of journalists during the putrid reign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Continue reading

Time warp

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Major General Jovito Palparan’s suggestion that an anti-subversion act similar to RA 1700 should be passed has a strange ring to it, this being the 21st century. But I suppose no one should be surprised. Palparan represents a view in the military on how to deal with rebellion and other forms of social unrest that–no matter how caught in a time warp somewhere in the 1950s it may be–has been current in the Arroyo administration since 2001.

Palparan’s favored approach is the purely military one that has dominated much of Philippine military thinking since the early 20th century. Under US direction, the antecedents of today’s AFP then continued the “kill them all, sort them out later” policy of the US occupation forces. Among other characteristics, this approach looks at the Bill of Rights as a hindrance because it gives dissenters, specially leftists, the legal right to express themselves. Continue reading

A “constitutional” coup

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Assuming dictatorial powers in 1972 by placing the country under martial law, Ferdinand Marcos launched what amounted to a coup d’etat against the liberal democratic government of which he himself was President.

One of that government’s claims to democracy were the more or less free—though often attended by violence and fraud– elections it regularly held. Marcos himself had been the beneficiary of the electoral system, having risen from congressman to senator to President of the Republic, to which post he was (most probably) elected twice. But Marcos demolished the liberal democratic regime in 1972 by using its own basic law against it. While the 1935 Constitution had a Bill of Rights (Section 1 of Article III) it also had subsection 2, Section 10 of Article VII, which describes the qualifications and powers of the President. Continue reading

Wink, wink

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What are the chances of a thorough police investigation into the killing of political activists? It would depend on how the Arroyo regime defines, and how the police interprets, “thorough,” certain words–practically the entire English language, in fact–having been so debased by every Philippine government since Marcos they’ve lost their original meaning.

By universal agreement among English-language users and dictionary makers, “thorough” means “systematic,” “complete,” and “detailed.” These meanings imply that any “thorough” investigation would use methodical, logical, rational, even scientific means to get at the truth. Continue reading