Permanently temporary

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US Embassy officials have denied that the United States is building a military base in Mindanao, but have admitted that their government is constructing “temporary” facilities across the island.

“I can state categorically that the US has no bases in the Philippines and is not building any,” says Lee McClenny, US Embassy counselor for public affairs.

McClenny added that US troops deployed in Zamboanga and Jolo, Sulu use Armed Forces of the Philippines facilities when in Mindanao. That claim seems at odds with the statement of Karen Schinnerer, US Embassy deputy press attaché, who said the US is indeed building facilities in Mindanao, but that these facilities would be used by US soldiers “on a temporary basis for them to eat, sleep, and work in.” Continue reading

Subterfuge

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Among other arguments, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s privilege speech last Tuesday compared the Arroyo regime to the one that 24 years ago murdered his father.

Former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was shot dead on August 21, 1983 at the airport that now bears his name. The regime that did it had made arbitrary arrests, torture, forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings so common they seemed part of the normal course of events. Despite Ninoy Aquino and EDSA 1, they have become as common and as “normal” today as they had been during the Marcos dictatorship. Continue reading

De Venecia’s amnesty

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House Speaker Jose de Venecia’s proposal for an “all encompassing” amnesty has been criticized for “legal infirmities” by the lawyers in the Senate. But some senators are giving it the benefit of the doubt. Senators Aquilino Pimentel and Panfilo Lacson are keeping an open mind, and so is Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Former judge Santiago said she isn’t objecting to the idea itself, only to the “facile presumptions that have no legal basis” that the de Venecia proposal seems to be making. Continue reading

An offense against all

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The middle and lower ranks of the police and the military may have been confused by, and were in fact leery of, the Human Security Act (HSA). But that was before they were briefed by their superiors, who, taking their orders from their bosses who’re privy to the intent of that deliberately misnamed law, most likely assured them they had nothing to fear but fear itself from the Act’s so-called safeguards.

Among the latter are those provisions prohibiting torture and penalizing wrongful arrests with a fine of P500,000 each day a suspect is detained. True, the fine gave the police and military a few sleepless nights. While police and military men won’t have to pay the fine out of their pockets, their agencies will have to, and the generals can’t have any of that, can they? Imagine the reduction in perks like free gas and unaudited expenses such a drain on the budget can mean! Continue reading

Bankrupt

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Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s net satisfaction rating has dropped from its previous negative 46.7 percent in January, says Ibon databank; it is now negative 62 percent. A July Ibon survey showed that only 10 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with Mrs. Arroyo’s performance, while a huge 72 percent were not.

The Ibon findings confirm the results of other surveys. Alone of all Philippine presidents since surveys were ever taken, Mrs. Arroyo’s satisfaction rating has stayed in the negative column for some four years. Popular Mrs. Arroyo certainly isn’t. But she’s tried to make a good thing out of a bad thing by declaring that she would “rather be right than popular”. Continue reading