Almost to a man and woman, the journalists present in a press conference called by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) last February 24 to rally opposition to the Right of Reply bills in Congress were asking why “Nene” Pimentel did it. February 24 was the eve of the final departure from power of Ferdinand Marcos 22 years ago, which made the press conference somewhat auspicious.
What Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. did was sponsor, with Francis “Chiz” Escudero among others, the Senate version of the Right of Reply bill that breezed through that chamber late last year without any dissenting vote.
The Inquirer’s Ramon Tulfo doesn’t even think there was a rape.
How could there have been one, he asks, when the– in Tulfo’s universe, still alleged– rapist was seen “dirty dancing” with the (equally alleged) “rape victim,” and what’s more took the time to put on a condom?
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has received more than her share of comments for her repeated and failed attempts to meet US President Barack Obama. Probably because Valentine’s Day was approaching, early this week one commentator compared Mrs. Arroyo to a love-sick woman vainly pursuing the object of her affections. She’s also been accused of being caught in the “outdated” anti-terrorism framework of the unlamented Bush administration. And (gasp), those who fret over the country’s “image,” especially before the US and Americans (what will they say!), have complained that by crisscrossing the planet trying to catch Obama’s eye, she’s embarrassed not only herself and her government but the entire country as well.
No one has so far bothered to seriously ask why she should be so focused. That’s certainly because there’s a near universal assumption among Filipinos that every Philippine government needs US approval. After all, many Filipinos ache for the kind of American recognition and appreciation exemplified by singing a duet with Celine Dion, or beating a Mexican to a pulp in a Las Vegas ring to the roar of an all-American crowd.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has proposed the addition of one year to college courses, among other proposals from that body as well as the Department of Education (which has supervision over basic education) to address the vast problems of Philippine education.
Few will contest its poor state. Numeracy and literacy levels are low among primary and high school students, many of whom are unprepared for the next stage of school, including college work. Among the indicators of the latter were the low scores in the now abolished National College Entrance Examinations. But the results of the board examinations in many disciplines have also been disappointing, with high rates of failures among the graduates of many schools that for some reason continue to be licensed and allowed to operate. Filipinos may actually be getting dumber, thanks to Philippine education.