Authoritarian efficiency

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Authoritarian regimes are supposed to be at least efficient. Efficiency–at least in the Asian setting, where we have the prime examples of Singapore and Malaysia–is the expected trade-off for the restrictions on civil rights in dictatorships and various tyrannies.

Filipinos have had the short-sightedness to agree to the exchange. In his speeches after his declaration of martial law in September 1972, Ferdinand Marcos urged everyone to go about their business and to obey his orders and decrees so he could “save the Republic.” Implicit in those statements was the promise that in exchange for the curtailment of civil liberties, the citizenry could expect the government to be efficient, honest, and focused on the country’s development. Continue reading

False and nasty

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There’s an entire universe of false assumptions about the media in the recent statements of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. But why isn’t anyone surprised?

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) did issue a statement in reaction. But most journalists and the public took Gonzales’ remarks in stride primarily because they’ve come to expect the worst from the Arroyo regime and its leading officials. Continue reading

Comparisons

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By creating a commission to look into the political killings that are making the Philippines an international disgrace, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is inviting comparisons with Ferdinand Marcos. That she chose to create her commission on the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino didn’t help any.

Like Marcos in 1983, who initially created a commission headed by then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando to look into the Aquino assassination, Mrs. Arroyo created her own commission (headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo) in response to national and international outrage. It was Ninoy Aquino’s assassination then that drove Marcos into creating an investigating commission. It is the killing of over 700 political activists and the shock waves these have generated that have forced Mrs. Arroyo to do something beyond mouthing platitudes and creating token task forces. Continue reading

Boomerang

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The Arroyo regime’s “all out war” against “the Left” is reaping results it did not expect. What the policy’s instigators did not anticipate most of all is the outrage the killing of political activists is provoking in the Philippines and abroad. Neither, it seems, did they foresee the resentment it is encouraging.

The policy is driving Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s sub-zero approval ratings into a deeper hole. It isn’t earning the country the distinction of being the world’s biggest source of housemaids as Mrs. Arroyo hopes. Instead its government is being exposed as a coddler of thugs and assassins. The word is also spreading that the same government is unable and unwilling to implement its own laws as well as the international covenants to which it is a signatory. Continue reading

Terrorism as excuse

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Like the September 11, 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Center, the plot to detonate bombs onboard several trans-Atlantic flights originating from Britain has provoked stringent security measures all over the globe.

In the Philippines, additional security measures have been put in place in the country’s airports, and even in the capital’s Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit systems. Though thwarted, the UK plot has also become one more argument for the passage of the anti-terrorism bill now pending in Congress. Continue reading