Approving death

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Pope Benedict XVI may or may not be familiar with the “Hello Garci” scandal. He may or may not know that some Catholic priests and ordinary Catholics as well as members of other Christian churches have been denied their basic rights and have even been shot dead in the Philippines.

He may not know either that still many more could lose their lives in the Arroyo government’s anti-insurgency campaign. He may or may not know that the Philippines is the second most dangerous place in the world for journalists—and the most dangerous for members of certain legal political parties, advocacy groups, and non-government organizations. Continue reading

The Hiroshima temptation

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The developing crisis over Iran’s nuclear program is mostly unappreciated in this country. And yet that crisis could lead to a nuclear holocaust that could immediately affect not only Iran, but Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and even China. At least some of the Philippines’ 1.5 million Overseas Workers would also be affected.

The primary danger is the United States’ or Israel’s attacking Iran either separately, together, or in concert with whatever other countries the US can intimidate or bribe into participation. With its forces bogged down in a long war in Iraq, the US is not likely to send in ground forces to overthrow the Iranian government and occupy Iran. It will instead attack Iran with nuclear weapons for a quick and decisive victory that would leave the country in shambles and overthrow or kill its current rulers. Continue reading

Sin’s uncertain legacy

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In 1986 the first people power revolt removed Ferdinand Marcos from power. In 2001 the second ousted Joseph Estrada. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin whose first death anniversary the Catholic Church marked the other day (June 21) was a leading figure in both.

In 1986, the cardinal issued a call for Filipinos to protect then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and then Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos. Both had withdrawn to Camps Aguinaldo and Crame, respectively, after Ferdinand Marcos’ discovery of their supposed involvement in a coup plot against him . Continue reading

Figments of the imagination

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A “figment of the imagination”–the usual assassin on a motorcycle–killed a Church activist last Saturday at about the same time that Raul Gonzalez was declaring that civilian deaths “can’t be avoided” in the “new” Arroyo campaign against “the Left.”

Tito Marata of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines was shot dead in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental. While Marata was being shot, Gonzalez was not only saying that “collateral damage” was inevitable once the Arroyo regime’s billion-peso anti-Left campaign got off the ground. He also said that the killing of activists with at least “government acquiescence” (Amnesty International’s phrase) was “a figment of (the militant groups’) imagination.” Continue reading

Time bomb

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An organization not known for the rigor of its police work, the Philippine National Police has been feeding the public with the usual theories on the who and why of the bombings that have recently plagued metro Manila.

That the bombings were meant to embarrass the police is only the latest in a string of speculations about motives as well as perpetrators we’ve heard from the PNP. Some of its spokesmen (of which it seems to have as much a surfeit of as generals) earlier said the bombings were “meant to sow terror.” These spokesmen later said the bombings were not terrorist acts because they didn’t hurt anyone. But they’ve been consistent in claiming that the purpose of the bombers, whoever they are, is—here’s that word again—“destabilization.” Continue reading