Independence

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JUNE 12, 1898, the date when, 115 years ago, Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain, was marked this year with the usual speeches, flag-raisings, floral offerings and other rites by officialdom.

The usual vin d’honneur took place in Malacanang, with Benigno Aquino III toasting the “continued partnership” between the Philippines and the countries represented by the foreign dignitaries present so that they may “always endeavor to promote peace, amity and unity for the advancement of humankind.”

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Winners and losers

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BENIGNO AQUINO III has been in triumphalist mode since 2010 when he handily won the Presidential elections. Succeeding events since have not moved him from that state.

The results of the 2013 mid-term elections have given him something more to crow about, and even more so the 7.8 percent growth of the economy for the first quarter of 2013 which surpassed the International Monetary Fund prediction of 6 percent.

Forget about the power problems in Mindanao, and the increase in the incidence of hunger among the poor, whose legions have not changed for decades. Forget about the high levels of unemployment.

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Hell itself

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DA VINCI Code author Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno, contains what’s only one of many comments, asides, and observations about the Philippines or something Filipino from such sources as tourists, journalists, book authors, and others who’ve either visited the country or read about it.

Inferno’s heroine, British doctor Sienna Brooks, describes Manila as “the gates of hell” for its poverty, interminable traffic jams, pollution, and a sex trade among whose horrors are parents who pimp for their children.

It’s a novel, and neither reportage nor history. But it comes pretty close to truthful journalism. Who’s going to deny, unless it’s Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino, that the traffic jams in his jurisdiction are horrendous enough to try the patience of saints?

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Lethal mix

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JOURNALISTS AND POLITICIANS have always had an uneasy, troubled, and troubling relationship, whether in those countries that are, or which claim to be democracies, and even in dictatorships. But in this country where politics rules both during and between elections, the relationship has sometimes been lethal.

The “Fourth Estate” function of monitoring government often puts competent and honest journalists on a collision course with government officials whether appointed or elected, and with those politicians running for public office during election season. For the dishonest, paid partisanship leads to the same, at times deadly course with his or her patron’s rivals.

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As predictable as fairy tales

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BOTH in terms of how they’re being conducted and their possible results, the elections of 2013 are shaping up as expected.

Name recall and membership in a well-known political family are what most of the leading candidates for senator have in common. That’s in addition to huge war chests, of which a significant portion is being poured into political ads, particularly after the Supreme Court struck down the Commission on Elections resolution limiting media ad exposure to 120 minutes each.

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