Double talk

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BENIGNO AQUINO III was in attendance at the launch of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in New York last September 20 where he also delivered the keynote address. Convened by the United States and Brazil, the OGP describes itself as “a new multilateral initiative to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.”

US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are the co-chairs of OGP. The Philippines is one of only two Asian countries, the other being Indonesia, in the OGP steering committee, which has eight member countries: the U.S., Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines and South Africa. The Steering Committee members were supposedly selected on the bases of a country’s Fiscal Transparency, Citizen Access to Information, Disclosures Related to Elected Officials, and Citizen Engagement.

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Cowards and SOBs

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THE “American official” President Benigno Aquino III quoted in his speech at the University of Fordham in New York as complaining that “the problem with the Philippines is that it has 40 million cowards and one SOB (son of a bitch) ” was most probably the outspoken US Senator J. William Fulbright, who chaired the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee from 1959 to 1974.

A member of the Democratic Party, Fulbright was critical of US foreign policy, whether as expressed in the invasion of Cuba (1959) during the Kennedy administration, the US presence in the Philippines (in one US Senate hearing, he described US military bases in the Philippines as simply in furtherance of US, rather than Philippine, interests), or the US war in Vietnam (1960-1975). He described the latter as an indication of “the arrogance of power,” or “the tendency of great nations to equate power with virtue.”

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A dangerous place

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IT’S a mantra in the US and much of Western media: 9-11, or the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, “changed the world.”

The planet has never been in as great disorder as today, with war and even total annihilation a constant threat, famine afflicting millions in Africa, an economic crisis threatening to morph into a global depression, and terrorist groups continuing to threaten not only the United States but practically every nation on earth including the Philippines.

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The sixth estate

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SPEAKING AT a forum on the press and the media, former University of the Philippines president Jose V. Abueva said there were actually five Estates, or powers, in the Philippines.

If the press is the Fourth Estate, the Catholic Church would be the fifth. Abueva did not mention what the other three Estates in contemporary Philippines are. Neither did he mention the sixth Estate, whose influence on Philippine affairs is mostly exercised through its power not only over Philippine presidents and other officials, but also through its hold on the minds of most Filipinos.

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“SP” remembered

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THE University of the Philippines has been celebrating since May this year the birth centennial of one of its greatest presidents. The celebrations, which have included lectures, symposia, photo exhibits and publications on Salvador P. Lopez, who was UP President from 1969 to 1975, will end in October.

“SP” to his staff in the department of foreign affairs and in UP, Lopez came to the presidency of the University with a distinguished background in literature, journalism and diplomacy. He wrote in 1940 the pioneering essay “Literature and Society,” in which he took issue with the then current view of “art for art’s sake” which was identified with Jose Garcia Villa. Lopez contended that to be meaningful, literature must confront the issues that define the human condition, a view he shared with the social realist writers of his time.

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