Deranged

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On July 10, or less than two weeks into his presidency, Benigno Aquino III told the Department of Justice to review the coup charges, which he described as “unjust,” against former Navy lieutenant and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The order was interpreted at the time as part of Mr. Aquino’s efforts in behalf of the Francisco Pangilinan campaign for the Senate presidency. But serial coup plotter Gringo Honasan was already proposing an amnesty for Trillanes even then.

Honasan got his wish early this October, when Mr. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 50 granting Trillanes and his fellow Oakland Hotel mutineers amnesty, an act that’s been interpreted as either an attempt to buy the loyalty of the Trillanes-Lim faction in the military, a message that the Arroyo government against which Trillanes mutinied in 2003 was not legitimate, or both.
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Tattered democracy

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THE PHILIPPINE ranking fell from 122nd in 2009 to 156th in the Paris-based Reporters San Frontieres’ (RSF- Reporters Without Borders) 2010 Press Freedom Index released on October 20.

The 2010 Index covers the period September 1, 2009 to September 1, 2010. The Philippine ranking had been rising in earlier RSF Indexes, despite the continuing killing of journalists in the country, and its portrayal in 2003 as “the most murderous place in the world for journalists.”

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Friends

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Senator Joker Arroyo, who served as Executive Secretary during the Corazon Aquino Presidency, said early this week that “lesser legal minds” reviewed the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC). The IIRC was chaired by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and included, among others, former Congressman Roan Libarios, governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Before her appointment as Secretary of Justice, de Lima had distinguished herself in the Commission on Human Rights by making that body truly independent by uncovering and in some cases putting a stop to, the human rights abuses the government was concealing. It was a considerable achievement, not only because de Lima chaired the CHR during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, among whose appalling legacies is the politicization of practically every government institution including the Commission on Elections in behalf of her singular focus on staying in power. It was also courageous, since it meant displeasing the police and the military, whose human rights abuses de Lima did not flinch from exposing.

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Sins of the Padres

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MOST Filipinos who’ve gone to high school or who’re in college know who the “Damaso” in Carlos Celdran’s streamer was, because of Republic Act 1425, the Rizal Law, which requires the teaching of the life and works of Jose Rizal in all Philippine schools, colleges and universities.

Intramuros tour guide Celdran held up his streamer during a mass at the Manila Cathedral while shouting that the Church should keep out of politics. The Catholic Church has ratcheted up its opposition to any reproductive health bill in response to the support for whatever means of family planning couples prefer that President Benigno Aquino III expressed during his US visit. Church spokespersons have threatened to call for civil disobedience among the faithful and at one point suggested that Mr. Aquino could be excommunicated for indirectly supporting abortion.

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Better than nothing

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Question: What do you call people who use the rhythm method?
Answer: Parents.

IT’s an old joke that in the context of the country’s many problems wasn’t funny even when first heard decades ago. Thanks to a reproductive health program that for all practical purposes doesn’t exist, and Catholic Church encouragement of so-called “natural methods,” the Philippine population is growing at the rate of 2.2 percent per year, which compares to Thailand’s and Singapore’s .8 percent and Malaysia’s 1.9 percent.

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