Cynical and insincere

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Amnesty International said it was “encouraged” by it. But Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s tongue- in- cheek “condemnation” of political killings during her sixth State of the Nation Address (SONA)was cynical and totally insincere for two reasons.

Her asking witnesses to come forward was the first of these indications of insincerity and worse. The second was the “condemnation’s” having been preceded by unqualified praise for the Army general widely accused of orchestrating the slaughter. Continue reading

What contingency plan?

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Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are keeping the Philippine economy afloat with their remittances, which last year was reported at US$11.5 billion. Because many OFWs send money to their relatives at home via “unofficial” routes, the amount could be much bigger.

The Marcos regime was the first Philippine government to officially encourage labor migration. Succeeding governments have since followed suit, refining the policy to include not only the marketing of Filipino labor but also the creation of vast bureaucracies supposedly to cater to OFW and their families’ needs. Continue reading

Creative ambiguity

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As some if not all of the country’s Catholic bishops thought, their July 10 pastoral letter was vague enough to mean something to everyone. A less charitable way of putting it is that the bishops had their cake–and ate it too.

Those against the impeachment of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo thus seized on a key phrase in the document–“we are not inclined … to favor the impeachment process as the means for establishing the truth”–to prove that the bishops want Mrs. Arroyo to remain in Malacanang. Continue reading

These happy isles

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In 2005 it had a population of some 200,000, most of them concentrated in rural areas. Melanesians account for 98 percent of the population. Some two percent are Europeans and Asians.

Most of its largely Christian inhabitants survive on small-scale agriculture. Economic growth is less than three percent. But it’s one of those few countries where there are no exchange controls, no income tax, no withholding tax, no inheritance tax and no capital gains tax. It doesn’t release information to other governments or law agencies about the companies that have accounts there either. As a result, multinationals leery of government regulation elsewhere incorporate there. Continue reading

Enemies like these

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The “Lim videotape” was prepared before the “withdrawal of support” General Danilo Lim declared in it had led to the ouster of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last February. This suggests at best a confidence in victory that now seems woefully mistaken. It was shortsightedness, even arrogance, at worst.

That a copy fell into the hands of ABS-CBN (which broadcast it five months after it was made), is also a comment on the planning and intelligence work of the groups supposedly plotting a coup/withdrawal of support last February. That military elements were the crucial and most prominent participants in whatever-it-was doesn’t reflect too well on the military either. Continue reading

Calibrated repression

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Attacks against the media and journalists, including assassinations, have become so common in this archipelago of violence they no longer surprise many Filipinos. But the burning of Cagayan community radio station DWRC is doubly significant.

The facilities of DWRC Radyo Cagayano in Baggao, Cagayan, were torched in the early morning of July 2 by eight heavily-armed men wearing ski masks. They bound and gagged station manager Susan Mapa, and volunteer broadcasters Arnold Agraan, Joy Marcos, Richard Ayudan, Arlyn Arella, and Armalyn Baddua. The men then dragged them out of the station before setting fire to station and its transmitter. They took the cell phones and other belongings of Mapa and company. The damage to the station was estimated at P1.5 million. Continue reading

Tearing the nation apart

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In the late 1960s, when the outcome of the Vietnam War was still uncertain, some US sociologists warned that its social costs to the United States could be immense. Any major war has an impact on the society from where the combatants are drawn. The Vietnam War would be no exception. Vietnam itself emerged from the war in economic, political and social ruin, and is still on the road to recovery. In the US case the impact did not include the economic devastation that being a theater of conflict brings.

But the US had thrown 500,000 young men into a war whose justness was uncertain at least. At home, the uncertainty and even conviction that the war was immoral had spread. Continue reading