Worse before things get better

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Among men and women of goodwill, the end of the old year and the coming of a new one is an occasion for hope. Hope is the one thing Filipinos claim to have never run out of. They’ve pretty much run out of everything else, whether it’s jobs, stability, pride, or, among 3.3 million families, food.

Since 1946 Filipinos have seen their country steadily sliding from relative prosperity to Bangladesh-level penury. They’ve witnessed how a rapacious political class is savaging the political system and made it into their private profit-making enterprise. Elections have become a painful joke, a mockery of the people’s will, and dependent on money, violence and Commission on Elections innumeracy. Continue reading

Déjà vu with a difference

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Those of us who were already around just before martial law was declared in 1972 have seen this before. I refer to the killings and other forms of violence, apparently politically- motivated, that have taken place in recent weeks.

Before Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, the warlords of Northern Luzon were constantly at each other’s throats, sometimes literally, over the various posts Philippine elections made available every two years. Continue reading

Hunger

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The incidence of hunger has reached 19 percent of Philippine households, says the Social Weather Stations (SWS) fourth quarter survey. That means that nearly one fifth of the 17 million households in the Philippines, or 3.3 million families, had nothing to eat at one time or another in the last quarter of 2006. At an average Philippine family size of five, 3.3 million translates into 16.5 million or so individuals who have experienced hunger in a population of about 82 million.

The hunger incidence has been steadily rising since SWS began its quarterly surveys on the subject. A September-October 2006 SWS survey showed the hunger incidence in the previous three months at 16.9 percent among Filipino families. It was 15 percent in 2004, fluctuating from quarter to quarter between that figure and 17 percent. But 19 percent is the highest so far recorded. Continue reading

Dangerous doctrines

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At least two Manila columnists have come to the defense of Vic Agustin, suspended columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Carmen Pedrosa of the Philippine Star, who was among those present during the press conference called by House Speaker De Venecia last week to announce the House’s retreat from the con-ass (don’t call it a con by asses), did it by condemning Renato Constantino Jr., as did Amando Doronila of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Agustin was suspended by the Inquirer for throwing a glassful of water on Constantino, an act the Inquirer described as “boorish behavior” worthy of suspension for a day, which it later changed to a month. Continue reading

Smith’s lawyers

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If the Subic rape incident is demonstrating anything, it is how well both Philippine officialdom as well as much of Philippine society have internalized the self-hatred that’s at the core of the country’s experience as a US colony.

It’s more than evident in the spirited defense convicted rapist Daniel Smith of the US Marines is getting from two major departments of the executive branch–the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice. Continue reading