The yearly ritual known as the State of the Nation Address does serve a purpose, whatever the jobless, homeless and hungry millions who think otherwise may say. It does seem to be no more than a setting on which the political class can show off this year’s P50,000 terno or P20,000 barong, the way the red carpet in Hollywood’s Academy Awards serves as backdrop for the stars to shine in each year. But it also puts the current Malacanang occupant on a podium from which to announce his or her plans for the country of our sorrows in the coming year–and for those plans to be weighed on the scales of public approval.

But the current Malacanang occupant is so immensely unpopular whatever she says is likely to be dismissed outright as either so much self-serving hype, or of no consequence to anyone except herself and that band of marauders, known as traditional politicians, that has been ruining the country for decades. Continue reading

Journalists and activists


Fifty-three journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 2001, when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power. Known in their communities as radio and TV broadcasters, as newspaper reporters and as columnists as well as publishers, 33 were killed for reporting or commenting on a public issue.

The reasons for the killing of the remaining 20 vary from undetermined to personal grudges and involvement in local politics. But the distinction hardly matters, not only in that they’re as dead as their colleagues, anyway, but also in the fact that their killers have not been caught. Continue reading

Their way of life


Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appropriated early this week a phrase her patron George W. Bush and his cohorts often use to defend US policies at home and abroad. She said the anti-terrorism law (Republic Act 9372), currently cloaked in the benevolent label “The Human Security Act of 2007,” is not only meant to crush terrorism, but also to defend “our way of life.”

That puts Mrs. Arroyo not only in the company of Bush, but also in that of other third world kingpins who claim to be reformers but who’re actually into defending the social, political and economic systems that keep them in power, limousines, and hefty bank accounts. That company includes the members of the Burmese junta, South and Central Asian dictators, and African warlords. Continue reading

Doing their job


Coherence is not among the strong suits of Arroyo regime bureaucrats. Except in rare instances, the statements of people like Ignacio Bunye, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, former Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Secretary of “Justice” Raul Gonzalez, and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, whose posts have thrust them into the center stage of this country’s concerns, are so incomprehensible they might as well be in Urdu to Filipinos.

It’s not just a matter of grammatical lucidity (although the grammar of certain regime honchos is as bad as their pronunciations) but of contextual and logical sense. When Ermita says a cabinet revamp is likely, and Bunye denies it, claiming that it’s just media speculation that’s made it to the news pages and broadcasts, it flies in the face of Mrs. Arroyo’s relieving Ebdane and naming Gilbert Teodoro in his place, for example. Continue reading