Category Archives: Letter to the editor

Senator’s proposed law is unrealistic

This is a proposed law by Senator Lito Lapid (Maintenance of Parents Act of 2010) that is DETACHED from reality. Even without this bill being proposed, we Filipinos have since time immemorial been supporting our parents, financially or otherwise, if we are capable to do so.

Not to be able to support cannot be simply and superficially justified as ‘neglect of the elderly’. A question should rather be asked: “why can’t they give support”? Even if this law is approved, granting for the sake of argument, do you think the parents would bother complaining in court at all?

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Gov’t subsidies don’t benefit country’s farmers

The reactions to the reports on the rice shortage are exaggerated. While the “haves” are worried that they might no longer be able to buy rice, the “have-nots” have long been dying from hunger and starvation, unable to buy rice or any food to eat. My wife’s parents and siblings, who spent all their lives growing rice, had to eat rice porridge, boiled green leafy vegetables and root crops. They were producing rice not for their own consumption but for others.

So, who’s afraid of the rice shortage? The government’s immediate intervention has been to subsidize the farmers—by way of allocating funds through the local government units—to help them increase their farm produce. But it did not elaborate how the subsidy will reach the farmers.

Obviously the government is not aware that the farmers, like my parents-in-law, have not been getting subsidies from the government for a quite a time. And only a few of the rice farmers till their own land; most don’t own the land they till and have to share their produce with the landowners or their financiers. For example, my parents-in-laws grosses only P4,000 to P5,000 every harvest season, which comes every three months.

So, how could a family of eight like them survive these days with such a meager income? A few years back, they could at least harvest thrice in one year; but because of the worsening climate condition, these days they can only harvest twice a year.

Farmers like my parents-in-law are generally deep in debt. They borrow money to buy fertilizers, to be paid come harvest time. They have not been getting any assistance, even for fertilizers. I doubt if the any subsidy would benefit the farmers in need.

Unless there is a clear mechanism for delivering subsidies to farmers, such government assistance will have no meaning to them. And these are the farmers who struggle to survive daily. It is unfortunate that the people they have been feeding all their lives pay little attention to their needs and concerns.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:46:00 04/08/2008

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A history of walk outs


Even before Senator Antonio Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim walked out from a court in Makati City, our country and outside has already had histories of walk outs that made change.

But unlike other walks outs, for instance the officers of the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) in 1986 snap elections; and the senators during the Joseph Estrada’s impeachment trial in January 2001, theirs was a complete failure.

When Mexican-American or Chicano students in East Los Angeles, US in 1968 felt extremely discriminated against, they too had series of walk out from their schools to protest unequal treatment of students; for instance, they are not even allowed to speak their native tongue, eat Mexican food and toilets open at all times.

Namfrel’s walk out eventually lead to the toppling of the dictatorial Marcos regime, Senator’s walk out from impeachment trial lead to EDSA II, the Chicanos walk out to eradicate discrimination of Chicano students in US schools and eventually improves treatment of students there.

What made this histories of walk outs successful that eventually get peoples’ involvement is that they felt the object of protest and walk out are the people’s issues too. That in their daily lives they have long been suffering and directly affected by this.

I first thought that when Senator Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Lim walk out from court, it was meant to protest the delay of their cases in court and question of fair trial–which is widely common in our court system. Cases in our court drags on for years, if not decade, and thousands of detainees are presently in extremely poor jail conditions waiting for their case to be resolve. Others could not even obtain fair trial due to their inability to get competent lawyers.

But it turns out that Senator Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Lim’s walk out was different, and their demands for change too also was different. Their walk out fails to obtain enormous public support and involvement as those mentioned above. We could only conclude that perhaps the people felt it wasn’t their issue or concern at all, only theirs.

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Filed under Letter to the editor, Military, Politics, Public opinion

Dictators can never be “benevolent”


This is in reaction to the letter to the editor: “Filipinos can learn from Musharraf

First, the late Ninoy Aquino should have not been compared with Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. Though they both originate from influential rich class, they could not be similar. And, it is also wrong to suggest the situation in Pakistan could have been similar in the Philippines had Ninoy not been murdered.

Second, the Congress should have not given Medal of Achievement in 2005 to Gen. Pervez Musharraf. It was a complete stupidity if not lunacy for members of a duly elected members of Congress to confer award on a person who seized power in a military coup and declare himself as both President and Chief of Staff of Pakistan’s armed forces.

To discuss whether or not the award should be recalled is worthless, but declaring it null and void giving explanation why is it so, would perhaps help members of the Congress in 2005 to regain their credibility and intellectual judgement.

Third, there can never be “benevolent” dictator. Weighing the country’s economic progress as basis of good leadership is an old school notion which had been exploited by dictators, authoritarian, police state, and other countries who had histories of tremendous abuses. These are the leaders, to mention a few, Chile’s Pinochet, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Indonesia’s Suharto, Marcos and others who perpetrate large scale corruption and murders.

Democracy does not develop overnight yet it matures over the time . It heavily depends on how established a country’s institutions are, particularly the independence of the judiciary. The strength of democracy depends on the strength of its legal institution. That is why Musharaff systematically targeted judges and lawyers because, as he admits, they are blocking his way, and justifies his lunacy on pretext of saving the nation by stepping aside democracy.

Marcos too used this lines when he declared Martial Law on pretext of saving the nation from escalating communist insurgency in 1971.

It is sad that while thousands of lawyers arrested and judges place under house arrest all over Pakistan, there are still squabbles like this. Worst, to suggest that the Filipinos could learn from a dictator and self-criticized our own democracy.

I’m sure, had today been Marcos regime, or I’m in Burma and China, this letter to the editor I am writing would have not been published. Or, this blog would have been tracked down by intelligence agents.

And this is what is happening in Pakistan today, laws and ordinances are imposed to silence critics, government seized operation of media outlets, journalist are systematically attacked.

Our democracy is maturing that any acts like this would face tremendous resistance from Filipinos, I believe.

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Filed under Human Rights, Laws, Letter to the editor, Military, Public opinion

Police and military should be made to answer for bombings

Inquirer Last updated 03:54am (Mla time) 01/13/2007

YET another bombing, this time in my home city, General Santos City. This is too much.

From television news reports here in Hong Kong, I get the impression that Philippine police, military and officials figured out nothing new about the bombings: diversionary tactics, the handiworks of rebels or terrorists. And they knew of it beforehand. Why they failed to prevent the bombings, they have no clear explanations. Instead, they blame the community for either being lax or for not reporting suspicious persons or movements.

Never have we heard the police and military admitting their ineptness in fulfilling their duty to protect the people. Never have they admitted that they need to improve their capabilities and competencies. They never learn from their previous mistakes. This is no longer just an issue of armed groups out of control — pity the poor civilians who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a serious, basic issue of security and protection, not only in my home city, but all over the country.

Why did our police and military, despite the millions of pesos for their intelligence operations, again fail to protect us? Their admission that they had at least previous knowledge about the plot to bomb several areas of the country does not mitigate their failure. It was precisely because they had “previous knowledge” that their failure became the more unjustifiable. How can ordinary citizens now rely on them for security and protection?

Worst of all, they are not made accountable for their failure. Unless the police and the military are made to answer for their failure to protect us, security and protection will remain a dream, no, a nightmare for most Filipinos.


Police and military should be made to answer for bombings

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Gonzales’ ‘Red’ label for party-list representatives

Last updated 00:17am (Mla time) 12/22/2006

I’D like to comment on the suggestion of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to tag House leftists with the “Red” label. Gonzales obviously made the suggestion based on what he claimed as threats of the communists to take over the government.

Gonzales should know that basic to the citizens’ right to due process is the “presumption of innocence.” If, indeed, there is evidence that warrants the prosecution of these persons in a competent court, why doesn’t he or the government initiate the process? Isn’t it more dangerous if the authority to label anybody as a communist were given to Gonzales or to the government’s law enforcement or security agencies (the police and military) instead of the court?

How could an officer of the government’s security council, the police and the military hand down a fair and impartial judgment on persons whom they’ve long considered “enemies of the state” and against whom they have a deep bias? What protection could be assured for citizens given that label?

The government has a long history of labeling individuals or groups critical of it as communists. Even prestigious church organizations and media groups have not escaped such labeling, even though such an allegation has yet to be proved in a court of law.

Isn’t Gonzales, with this suggestion, actually threatening to deprive citizens of their rights, or for that matter to kill democracy? Every individual has the constitutional right to run for public office or to represent his or her sector. But does Gonzales’ proposal uphold and respect this right?

Gonzales would like to hang a Damocles’ sword not only over the heads of the Left-leaning party-list representatives or groups but also over the heads of the people who elected them to represent their sectors in the legislative body. Whether or not these individuals or groups are threats to our democracy, our democratic principle of “due process” must still be applied.

—DANILO REYES (via e-mail)

Gonzales’ ‘Red’ label for party-list representatives

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Effective prosecution not aid for Mindanao

This refers to an article “Donors pledge more aid for Mindanao” published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) on April 1. The donor agencies, including the World Bank (WB), must now realise that to attain genuine peace can never be solved by aid and donations.

Insurgency continues to exist because of deep-rooted injustice in our society. Of why insurgency and rebellion continued to be a cycle from one generation to another is because of the cycle of injustice itself.

What to do in a country where we cannot held accountable not a single elected official, military or police sponsoring Mindanao wars? Former President Estrada is in jail but not for the loss of lives and tremendous damage of his 2000 all-out-war.

Even the former chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Mr. Angelo Reyes, who commandeered the 2000 Camp Abubakar and 2003 Buliok offensives respectively is still with the government. He is our Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary.

Our president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have likewise not been held accountable for the 2003 Buliok war.

Why should our chief executives, secretaries and military officials be different from other Asian dictators who were charged for crimes against humanity? Are those crimes they allegedly committed is justified by their immunity, if there’s any?

I call on the donor agencies to deeply reflect on this. Of why despite the many billions of pesos worth of rehabilitation and development program it already spent in Mindanao yet peace remains fragile. Is it worth to add on more funds for same purpose?

Those responsible must be prosecuted for crimes they committed, victims afforded with adequate compensation and rehabilitation–not merely post-war substandard housing and short-term livelihood programs. This will ensure safeguards for the people of Mindanao against future leaders of our country who are potential of sowing wars.

Unless this is ensured, any development or rehabilitation efforts in Mindanao may but will not lead to genuine peace. Instead, these is yet another instances wherein corruption and waste of resources is inevitable.

Perhaps, those people who think aid and donation is a solution to Mindanao problem haven’t had experienced for several occasions almost hit by bombs exploding nearby and see dead bodies of innocent civilians fallen to the ground. Well, I do.

If there are people in our country who longed for lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao they are those who lived there — the Mindanaons. Let their voice be heard.

Published on page A16 of the April 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Doles will not lead to genuine peace

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