Haunted

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HE’S been dead for 22 years, having died in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 28, 1989 at the age of 72, but Ferdinand Marcos haunts us still.

The most recent manifestation of the ghost of atrocities past came in the form of his children’s pushing a resolution in the House of Representatives, with former Marcos acolyte Congressman Salvador Escudero as pointman, asking the Aquino III administration to allow the burial of the Marcos corpse in Manila’s Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

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Asking for it

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THE SUPREME COURT has granted a petition for live coverage of the Ampatuan Massacre trial filed by media advocacy groups, TV networks, individual journalists, and academics from the University of the Philippines. But it has imposed conditions some media organizations are already describing as difficult if not impossible to meet. Some are already talking about filing a motion for Court reconsideration of some of the conditions. Others may decide not to cover the trial at all.

Among the guidelines media organizations find problematic is the Court’s requiring coverage of the entire proceedings each time there are hearings. The trial is currently being held twice a week (Wednesdays and Thursdays), and usually lasts from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Any TV or radio station that applies for and is granted permission (one of the conditions the Court is imposing) to cover the trial Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is conducting would have to devote as much as five hours of coverage each time. No interruptions and commercial breaks are allowed except during recess periods, and no repeat broadcasts will be allowed on pain of the RTC’s withdrawing the station’s permit.

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Tales twice told

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IT was one of those statements that make no sense, but which some Catholic bishops are especially adept at making. Butuan Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblos said House Bill 1799, or the divorce bill, will lead to more immorality in Philippine society. The faithful should be trembling in their flip-flops. Immorality and the threat of hellfire are tales often told, though not always by an idiot.

The Philippines is now the only country in the world where there is no divorce. But assuming the Philippines finally catches up with the rest of the planet and Congress passes a divorce law, how would it lead to “more immorality”?

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Oxymoron country

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“MILITARY intelligence” is the preferred oxymoron — the contradiction in terms most favored — by activists, human rights workers, and some academics. But that martial law classic may yet yield to these more recent gems, courtesy of the Bureau of Corrections: “living-out prisoner,” and the even more intriguing “sleeping-out prisoner.”

That there are indeed such prisoners in this earthly paradise of fish kills and illiterate congressmen who trivialize discussions on reproductive health and divorce seems to have caught a lot of bureaucrats, most of them from the Department of Justice, by surprise. And yet it’s one of the worst-kept secrets in this country, which means it’s hardly a secret at all: a convicted felon can still enjoy the amenities of home in his own made- to- order condo-hut without being locked up in a cell, and in some cases can even leave the prison compound for his Makati office to check his mail, or even to implement the terms of a murder contract.

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