Beyond the TV ads

Standard

Television is generally acknowledged to have the longest reach of all the media today, with audience access estimated at 96 percent of all Filipinos nationwide.

Much has thus been said about TV’s being the political battleground in the campaign for this year’s elections. The candidates’ media gurus know this if they know nothing else. Thus the political ads that television—especially the two major networks ABS-CBN and GMA-7—is attracting even at this early stage, which should translate into hefty increases (by as much as 10 percent) in their revenues for this year. Continue reading

Hired gun

Standard

Raul Gonzalez called him a “sonamagun” (sic) and “just a rapporteur and a hired man (sic) from the UN in certain specific projects.” He also said he had been “brainwashed by the leftists.”

But Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur who concluded last Wednesday a ten-day visit to the Philippines to look into extra-judicial killings (known in the sad country of our perdition as salvaging), is not someone the UN just picked up off the streets of New York.

Born in Australia, and educated in that country as well as the United States where he obtained his doctorate, Alston is a Professor of Law and the Faculty Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice of the New York University School of Law. He was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions in 2004. He is also the Special Adviser to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights. Continue reading

Cynicism’s child

Standard

In March last year, the opposition parties of Thailand declared a boycott of the April parliamentary elections. The Democrat Party, the Chart Thai Party and the Mahachon Party claimed that the elections had been rigged by then caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and that the results would certainly be in favor of his Thai Rak Thai Party. The boycott led to the failure of elections, and eventually, to the Thai military’s taking power and removing Thaksin from office.

The opposition boycott was unprecedented in Thailand, and would be unprecedented in the Philippines. But no boycott seems to be in the horizon, either from the opposition or from the organized citizenry. Continue reading

Mystery

Standard

The 2003 military occupation of Oakwood Hotel was the only confirmed coup attempt against the Arroyo regime since it took power in 2001. Senators Ralph Recto and Joker Arroyo, however, alluded, not to that one coup attempt, but to coup “attempts” when they justified last Monday their decision to join the Arroyo senatorial slate, which suggested that there was more than one stab at a coup between 2001 and today.

It’s fairly certain, however, that there were no other attempts at a coup after Oakwood. There might have been a coup plot in 2006, but it never went far beyond the planning stage. It was limited to a lot of noise and little action–although it was pretext enough for the Arroyo regime to declare a state of emergency and to pretend that the Constitution did not exist. Continue reading

Truth

Standard

All governments lie, sometimes to advance what they perceive to be the interests of the societies they serve, but often for self-serving reasons.

George W. Bush lied about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (a claim he made over Polish TV in late 2003), Saddam Hussein’s phantom links to Al Qaeda, and Iraq’s being a “threat” to the United States and the whole Western world. Continue reading

Terror

Standard

The Senate has passed its version of an anti-terrorism bill, which has been an Arroyo regime priority since 2002. Like every bill of its kind passed in other countries, many of its provisions are outstanding for their retrogressive character, among them restrictions on the media, and the legalization of wire-tapping and government examination of bank accounts.

But as outstanding was the silence of practically all the oppositionists and/or human rights advocates in the Senate during deliberations on it. It was a silence followed by overwhelming approval, the vote being 16 to 2, with only Senators Ana Consuelo (“Jamby”) Madrigal and Manuel Roxas II voting against it. Continue reading

Clueless

Standard

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay is no saint. No Filipino politician is, has ever been one, or is likely to be one.

The backroom deals, the patronage system and the alliances of convenience on which the political system thrives make it impossible. But politicians can and do redeem themselves despite the compromises they make to reach their goals. Claro M. Recto fought tenaciously for Philippine sovereignty, and was most likely assassinated for it. Benigno Aquino Jr. was certainly assassinated for serving as a symbol and rallying point of anti-martial law resistance. Continue reading

What election?

Standard

If elections are about choices, then Philippine elections should be called something else. We could call them reassignments, for example, or even resurrections, refurbishings and renovations.

The mid-term “election” this year is as close to a historic opportunity to truly serve this country as the band of hucksters whom we call politicians will ever get. It’s a chance for the so-called opposition to resolve the political crisis that since 2004 has sapped the country’s energies and forced it to a standstill while the ranks of the hungry grow, the brain and brawn drain swells into a flood of biblical proportions, and mass despair and misery boost the suicide and murder rates. Continue reading