Biting the bullet

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THE US-BASED, 30-year-old organization Human Rights Watch — the Asia Division of which, incidentally, former New York Times and International Herald Tribune free -lance correspondent Carlos Conde is now the Philippine Researcher — describes itself as “ one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse.”

Human Rights Watch also declares that its mission is “protecting the human rights of people around the world.” It claims to “stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.”

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Holding pattern

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IF THE Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA 1) isn’t the worst in the world, it should certainly rank among the worst. On any given day, it looks more like a street during market day at Divisoria district than the gateway in and out of a country where, we’re told, everything’s more fun than anywhere else. The crowds are mostly made up of OFWs on their way back to their places of work in Europe, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia with, as usual, entire barangay in tow, which makes getting into the airport and checking in a task worthy of Hercules.

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Fanaticism…

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“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless societies.”
-Karl Marx

EVERY year after the end of the six- kilometer long trek that commemorates the transfer in 1787 of the Black Nazarene from the Recollect seminary in Intramuros (the old walled city ) to Quiapo Church, the country’s religious inevitably lament the “fanaticism” devotees display as the procession wends its way through Manila’s mean streets.

This year was no different — although, from the usual two million, estimates of the number of devotees who joined the 22-hour, longest-running procession ever who displayed a level of alleged fanaticism that might well be the envy and despair of other religions here and abroad, were this time between three to four million.

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Rule makers and rule breakers

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ETHICAL and professional issues so beset the Philippine media that hardly a month passes without some controversy erupting over how a media organization covered or commented on an event, and/or discharged its entertainment function.

The flaws of media coverage have sometimes been lethal enough to kill people, and some entertainment programs regularly ridicule, harass or subject participants to various indignities. Even in this development laggard of a country the media have almost total reach among its 90 million- plus people. The media’s constant and immense presence in the lives of this country, and hence, their influence on citizen values, attitudes and ideas — and, as the country saw in the Rizal Park hostage- taking incident of August 23, 2010, even on the outcome of the events they cover — is inevitably a public issue.

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