Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Guest Post: A Perspective on the “hypocrite” that is the Philippine Catholic Church - Franz Santos

Last Sunday, presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted Catholic Church leaders, calling them 'hypocritical,' apparently for having condemned him during the elections. He listed down the numerous faults Church leaders have been guilty of, and cursed them, as he did the Pope.

Predictably, this raised a collective howl from Catholics, who criticized him back, but I'll deal with that later. What I'd like to deal with is his accusation that the Church has many faults, something other critics of the Church have raised. To answer this, I'm sharing the Facebook note of Franz Santos, a colleague of mine at the Ateneo. He's currently the Araling Panlipunan subject area coordinator for the Ateneo Senior High School, and an astute observer of the world. Here's his take on the Catholic Church's 'hypocrisy.'

A Perspective on the “hypocrite” that is the Philippine Catholic Church - Franz Santos

Around 3-4 years ago, I was having a conversation with a Church historian and he was casually saying some interesting things about the Philippine Catholic Church that not a lot of people know about. I was so amazed with the facts so I told him that they (members of the religious) should tell this more to people to balance the hate the Church gets from its critics (admittedly warranted at times). But he just kept silent and did not react so we continued our history-related talk (and chismis).

I think the Church is like that. It concedes and introspects when criticized for the right reasons (sex abuses, materialism of some members of the clergy, improper involvement in politics,etc.), but does not aggressively publicize all the good that it has been doing here since the 16th century. So it is often misunderstood, and critics highlight the negative things:
- thanks to the Propagandists of the 19th century, isolated cases of friar abuses were popularized (and often exaggerated)
- thanks to the Republic Act No. 1425 of 1956, known as the Rizal Law, Rizal's works (especially the Noli and Fili) were required to be discussed in all educational institutions. this is good from a nationalist point of view. Unfortunately for the Church (and for historians), many people conveniently forget the literary nature of the books and actually consider it as source material for 19th century Philippine history.
- thanks to the wrongdoings of some members of the Philippine Catholic Church, especially when it comes to politics (RH debate, Pajero Bishops, defending PGMA, etc.) critics generalize the wrongdoings of a few and attribute the sins to the entire institution
So yeah, the Church makes mistakes, is sinful (like all of us), and it will be the first to admit that reality. But that's not the whole of it. To say that the Church is insensitive, useless and hypocritical, one has to consider not just the mistakes. For that we need history and social studies:
1) From the beginning, it was the Philippine Church who fought for the rights and safety of the natives against the abuses of Conquistadores and Encomenderos (search: The Manila Synod of 1582)
2) The Church was responsible for the material and intellectual development of the Philippines during the Spanish occupation (especially since the government had limited reach and funds!)
- missionaries planned and facilitated the construction of towns, roads, bridges, churches, etc. and developed key industries especially in the agricultural sector
- the religious educated the youth (by 1896, they were educating almost 200,000 Filipinos in 2,500 schools)
- the early friars were responsible not only for learning the languages in the island, but also for discovering their nuances to the advantage of the natives (e.g. “Customs of the Tagalogs” by Fray Juan de Plasencia)
3) The Church took care of the poor, weak and marginalized all throughout the Philippine's history (founded, ran and funded orphanages, hospitals, asylums, taking care of lepers and many others)
4) contrary to popular belief, while the 1896 revolution was anti-Friar, it was not anti-Church and the Philippine Church provided guidance and support for the Filipinos (check Schumacher’s “The Revolutionary Clergy”)
But we really don't need to read all these. We can just look at society today. As I often say, in the absence of a strong central government, the Church is always the 1st to help out.
1) Who joins farmers in their fight for justice so that they will be heard by the government? (e.g. Sumilao and Casiguran)

2) Who do the poor, marginalized and oppressed run to when they are persecuted or turned away? (offering sanctuary to enemies of Martial Law, feeding programs for the poor and other forms of social work). Go to your parish this Sunday and check out all their pastoral work.
3) Who continues to educate the youth? (from parochial schools to universities)

4) Who do the indigenous people run to when they are terrorized by both the AFP and NPA?
I could go on and on. But maybe we also just need to look at our own experiences. For all her sins (and more particularly, that of her clergy), i’m particularly thankful for the members of the Church. They helped me appreciate life and what i have. They helped me become more generous because of their examples and their works. They challenged me to be more loving.
So for me, let us call out the Church when necessary. After all, she welcomes dialogue. She won't tell us to "shut up". But let's also give credit where credit is due, and look at the bigger picture for perspective.
As I often say, if the Church wants to protest, she can just have a picket and stop all Church-related operations for a couple of days. Let's see what will happen to the country. But she is not like that, and she never will be. And that's why, whether we admit it or not, the Church as an institution is and will always be relevant in our country, even after 2,000 years.
(This post is dedicated to all my friends, former teachers and colleagues who are generously and courageously living out the religious vocation. Ad majorem dei gloriam!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Flight of the Political Butterflies

In Philippine politics, the political butterfly is seen as a politician who ignores party loyalties and simply flits to the ruling party/coalition at the time. To the political butterfly, there is no such thing as party loyalty; what is important to the political butterfly is the opportunity to be able to partake of the power provided by the ruling party.

This is not a new phenomenon; even before Martial Law disrupted our democratic mode of government, politicians shifted from the two existing major parties, the Nacionalista and the Liberal Parties, depending on which was more advantageous to them. By advantageous, this could mean personal, as in the accumulation of personal power, or group, as in the benefits a politician would be able to garner for his or her district or province.

This has not changed in the post-Martial Law era: from the late Cory Aquino's UNIDO coalition with former Vice-President Doy Laurel, to the Lakas-NUCD of former President Ramos, to the LAMMP of former President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada, to former President Gloria Arroyo's KAMPI to outgoing President Aquino's Liberal Party, politicians have always flocked to the party or coalition in power. It is realpolitik in action, as most political parties have merely served as vehicles for personalities.

In the current setting, the apparent coalition to which politicians are flocking is presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called "Coalition for Change." Already, around 80 district representatives of Aquino's Liberal Party have reportedly jumped ship and transferred their loyalty to Duterte's PDP-Laban; whether they will remain LP members coalesced with Duterte, or whether they will join PDP-Laban remains to be seen. Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, seen to be the next Speaker of the House, would prefer that these turncoats profess their loyalty to PDP-Laban, while the outgoing Speaker Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. would prefer that they remain LP members. I'm betting that Alvarez's desire will hold sway, and these members will soon be PDP-Laban members. These include former LP members such as Representatives  Jerry Treñas, Richard Garin and Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo City; Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar; Lucy Torres-Gomez of Leyte; Rene Relampagos of Bohol; Cesar V. Sarmiento of  Catanduanes; Paolo Javier of  Antique; and Gerard Gullas of Cebu. The party-list bloc in the House, which formerly supported the presidential bid of Sen. Grace Poe, has also apparently transferred their loyalty to President Duterte.

For veteran turncoats such as Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., key House posts are apparently awaiting them as they have made the transition to being PDP-Laban members. Farinas will most likely be the majority leader in the House, and Andaya will chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees the national budget.

To Belmonte's credit, he and some other LP members such as Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, Quezon City 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas, and Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo have expressed that they will stay with the LP, and form the minority body in the House, for all the good that that will do, since the sheer numbers that the rapidly forming "Coalition for Change" is gathering will likely enable President Duterte to get his pet measures passed with little opposition. Still, if they're vocal enough, the minority may prove to be able to make the majority members stop and think about the measures they're voting for.

The current state of affairs simply highlights the weakness of the political party in our government system, since the party, in general, is a mere vehicle of the personality in charge. Being weak, the party is unable to hold sway over its members, who can drop their membership just like that. Sadly, it is unlikely that the current state of affairs will change anytime soon. For that to happen, political parties must be strengthened, with clear platforms and programs distinct from each other. Before that can happen, however, we need to elect leaders who put the country first before their own selfish interests, and, like the cultural change I've mentioned before in my blog, it'll be ages before we see that happen.

Rubbing Salt in the Wound

Originally, I was going to compose a post on the flight of the political butterflies in the aftermath of this year's election, but it's not coming together as I'd hoped, so I thought I'd focus on another issue of note: that of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to allow the burial of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani; apparently, Duterte wants to have it done at the soonest possible time. His reason is that of the revisionist camp: that it's time to move on, and that it will "erase one hatred" in the country.

However, if he thinks that it will quell the anger that arose when the dictator's son ran for the vice-presidency, he's dead wrong. At the same time, as I posted on my Facebook wall, it's a slap in the face of those who were affected by the ravages of the Martial Law era. To have the dictator's body interred in a cemetery reserved for our soldiers and heroes without any acknowledgement from Marcos' family about the atrocities that occurred during the Marcos era is not closure; rather, it's rubbing salt on wounds that have yet to heal.

As it is, Duterte rubbed salt in the wounds when he appeared to boil down the issue as a matter of money, when he said, "Nandiyan na 'yung k'wan, kobrahin 'nyo na 'yung pera." This reeks of insensitivity on the incoming President's part. He once said that he could not be soft on criminals, that the human rights of the victims and their orphans are more important? If this is the case, why is he advocating the burial of one of the greatest criminals in the Libingan? Aren't the rights of Martial Law victims more important?

Even Duterte's argument that Marcos being a soldier was grounds enough for his burial in the Libingan is specious at best, since Marcos' war record has long been repudiated. 

One analyst, Earl Parreno of the Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms, has questioned why Duterte is pushing for this now, since it will mean spending precious political capital "when he should be consolidating support." 

Note that he hasn't even been officially proclaimed, and he's already made a number of questionable and even controversial moves: his choice of Cabinet members, his move to pardon former President Gloria Arroyo (even though she hasn't been convicted; I thought Duterte was a lawyer?), and now this. 

Presumptive President Duterte should remember that, while he won the elections, he did not win a majority vote; more people didn't vote for him than those that did. At the rate he's going, he may yet solidify that opposing majority against him, which will make it difficult to rule for the next 6 years. 

At first, I thought I'd give him a chance to prove himself, but he's raised too many question marks from the get-go. Count me as one of those who will be watching his Presidency like a hawk.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Opening Game, Part Two

One of the things to keep in mind about the current situation is that everything is still unofficial. The official canvass for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential positions, which is a function of Congress,  will only begin on Monday, so I hesitate to comment strongly on what's coming out of the presumptive President's camp. As I mentioned on Facebook, I'd like to treat the news of plans and Cabinet appointments as trial balloons, tests for the Duterte camp to determine public reactions to these. Until Duterte formally steps into the office, everything is unofficial.

This being the case, it's interesting to look at the initial prospective choices for Duterte's Cabinet, since these may show the priorities that presumptive President may have.

Here are some of the choices that have surfaced so far:

  • Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano – Secretary of Justice/ Foreign Affairs
  • Perfecto Yasay – Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs
  • Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez – Department of Finance
  • Chief Superintendent Ronald Dela Rosa,  Mimaropa police officer-in-charge Chief Superintendent Ramon Apolinario and  Chief of staff of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group Senior Superintendent Rene Aspera – PNP Chief
  • Art Tugade – Department of Transportation and Communications
  • Communist Party of the Philippines –  Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment or Department Social Welfare and Development.
  • Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro III - Department of National Defense
  • Peter Laurel - Department of Education
  • Jesus Dureza - Peace Process
  • Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III - Peace Process (communist side)
  • Salvador Panelo - Presidential spokesperson
  • Salvador "Bingbong" Medialdea - Executive Secretary
  • Andrea Domingo - PAGCOR
  • Mark Villar - Department of Public Works and Highways
  • Manny Piñol - Department of Agriculture
Based on netizens' reactions, the ones getting the most condemnations are those of Mark Villar, Peter Laurel, Salvador Panelo, and the Communist Party, while Teodoro's selection as Defense Secretary has been a positive choice.

Villar's selection is controversial since his family is into real estate; it should be recalled that one of the issues that hounded his father, former Sen. Manny Villar , during his 2010 presidential run was the chrage that he had used his influence to reroute the C-5 road, a costly change for the government and an apparent windfall for the Villars. While the charges were never followed up after the elections, its stigma remains, leaving the younger Villar vulnerable to suspicions that he might do the same, given that his presumptive appointment grants him power over the awarding of public works contracts.

Peter Laurel's selection is equally suspect, because of his apparent pro-Marcos leanings. This was clear when Sen. Bongbong Marcos was invited to be the commencement speaker at the Lyceum Batangas campus, of which Laurel is president. In an election where the issue of the Marcoses' involvement in the imposition of Martial Law and the plundering of the country was front and center, appointing Laurel to the Education portfolio send the wrong message, as there is a compelling need to educate the youth about the atrocities and the horrors of that dark period. Laurel's presumptive appointment probably spells an end to such initiatives.

While Salvador Panelo is Duterte's lawyer, he has represented a number of controversial individuals, including the likes of the former President Gloria Arroyo, who is currently facing plunder charges, and the Ampatuans, who just happen to be the principal suspects in the infamous Maguindanao Massacre. The fact that he has defended those accused of murdering journalists will be something hanging over his head every time he addresses the media. At the same time, Panelo comes off as too arrogant and flamboyant to act as the official voice of the President. If appointed, he will probably draw too much flak from the media.
Of all of the announced possible appointments, the one giving the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) either the Agrarian Reform (DAR), Social Work and Development (DSWD), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), or Labor and Employment (DOLE) portfolios is the most questionable, considering the CPP, along with its military arm, the New People's Army (NPA) remain outlawed. While it appears this is a move to hasten the peace process, giving the CPP a position in the government, especially that of DOLE, is bound to send shock waves through potential investors, and may scare them off.  

So far, a good number of Duterte's choices, or that of his vetting body, include primarily friends and classmates of the incoming President. While it's necessary that the President should have people around him he can trust, he should also make sure that as many voices can be heard in his government; otherwise, it will be more of the same type of Philippine politics, where friends and family reign supreme.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Opening Game, Part One

With Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the presumptive president (technical note: since Congress has not yet convened to do the national canvassing, it is apparently incorrect to refer to Duterte as the president-elect, as the current tallies are unofficial, and he has not yet been declared the winner. End long note.), he and his team have been busy preparing for when he steps into the office as the new President. So far, what's been coming out has been underwhelming, and even disturbing, which raises the question as to whether the change that was supposed to be coming, as per his election slogan, is a change for the better, or not. Let's look at some of the reports that have already surfaced.

Ban on Liquor, Karaoke Playing, and Smoking, and a Curfew

While commendable, these are more of town or city ordinances, which would be more enforceable by local governments. Still, it's a step in the right direction, since it would promote discipline, to an extent.

60km/h Limit on EDSA

Given the regular traffic situation on EDSA, it's rather difficult to assess how effective this is going to be. At the same time, it's still limited to Metro Manila, and, once more, the local government, or the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) would be the one to impose this.

Reinstatement of Death Penalty/ 'Shoot to Kill' Orders

This is where the waters start getting murky. Duterte has long established his reputation on a bloodthirsty vein, earning him the moniker,  "The Punisher," so this comes as no surprise. However, re-implementing the death penalty will be tricky, since: one, the death penalty has never been proven to be a deterrent to crime, and two, our country may invite condemnation from other countries for taking what is perceived to be a step backward. Even we ourselves are divided on the issue, so returning the death penalty may not be the solution to reducing crime.

The 'shoot to kill' order on criminals who 'violently resist' is equally murky, since one would have to define what that term means, and, given our police forces, it's possible that, in some cases, the order will be given broad latitude, which may mean a large body count. Since Duterte has stated that he's willing to defend these actions, it's also possible that our police forces will be on a 'shoot first, ask questions later' mentality. 

Repealing K-12

Militant leftist youth groups, such as the Kabataan  party-list, have long clamored for the repeal of this education reform program, claiming that it will simply be a burden on students and their families. With Duterte coming into power, the youth groups probably think that they will get their wish, since Duterte is a long-time professed leftist. However, this will also not be easy, since the entire educational system is being geared towards K-12; simply trashing it will be a waste of time and resources.

At the same time, repealing K-12 is a step backwards to an educational system that does not address our being competitive with the rest of the world. Admittedly, implementing K-12 has been messy, but change is always messy. By staying the course, K-12 aims to improve our educational system, and make our students more able to deal with an ever-changing global working environment. While Duterte's team has apparently promised to take a month to study K-12, I'm hoping that they just let things be, and allow K-12 to develop naturally.

In the next post, I'll take a look at Duterte's initial choices for his Cabinet.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Second Day

It's the second day after the elections, and it appears almost every race has been settled. The only race keeping Filipinos on the edge of their seats is the vice-presidential race, where Liberal Party candidate Rep. Leni Robredo and Nacionalista Party Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are running neck and neck, with Robredo holding a slim lead of around 200-300 thousand votes over Marcos.

In the presidential race, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte holds a commanding lead over his rivals, who have all conceded the race to Duterte, even before the official canvassing has begun. It's a sign of our growing maturity, considering that the running joke about our politicians is that none of them lose, as they've all been cheated.

Marcos, for one, appears to be of this school, as he claimed such in an interview on GMA7 last night. He accused the ruling Liberal Party of orchestrating Robredo's rise, and said the LP planned to impeach Duterte, and install Robredo in his place. Marcos seems to have forgotten how arduous the impeachment process is, that it's not as easy as it seems. As it is, a number of our politicians have begun flocking to Duterte's banner, in the almost traditional migration of the political butterflies flying to the ones in power, so it's doubtful an impeachment complaint will prosper.

Marcos' run, though, is enough to force us to reflect on whether we've done our part in educating the young about our past, because, based on the results, we've utterly failed to do so. The failure has allowed Marcos and his supporters to claim that the Martial Law era was a golden era, which blinded voters ignorant of the truth. It's a sobering reminder for those of us who remember those times. We have to do better; we have to open our countrymen's eyes to the past.

By and large, last Monday's elections were peaceful and orderly, although there were pockets of violence in some provinces. While some of the counting machines broke down and had to be replaced, voting was generally quick, and, as we've seen from the results, getting them was also quick; in the past, we would have had to wait for weeks before any trend would be known. Now, the day after the elections, we already have an idea who our next set of leaders will be.

At the same time, this has been the most hotly contested elections, fueled mostly by emotions running high on social media. Duterte's camp, for one, was notorious for manipulating social media feeds. As one of my co-teachers noted, it was "a campaign that was deliberately and masterfully built on lies, black propaganda and aggressive use of social media to sow doubt and spread misinformation...From thousands of fake troll accounts, “online warriors” by Quiboloy to blatant lies theatrically presented as truth by the Mayor’s team, it was an avalanche of misinformation that overwhelmed us all." This is why a number of those opposed to the Mayor's campaign still cannot accept his impending victory. Me? I've resigned myself to the fact that the anger against the current administration is partly to blame for Duterte's meteoric rise; I'm moving on.

That doesn't mean, though, that I won't remain vigilant on any abuse of power. One of my students made an analogy to rolling dice, that people are hoping to roll a 6 on Duterte, which means that he'll be the leader they believe him to be; for my student, the only other possible result with Duterte is a 1, which means big trouble for us. I remain vigilant on the possibility that the die roll is a 1. However, like those who voted for Duterte, I'm praying fervently for a 6.

The elections are over, and life returns to normal. However, we cannot just rely on our leaders to effect real change in our country; they are few and we are many. In the end, it is up to us to make the lasting changes to lift up our countrymen from poverty. It is up to us to make the lasting changes that will make an impact. Change begins with us.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Musings for May 9

It's the weekend before Election Day on May 9, and social media has fueled Filipinos' emotions to a point where rational thought and clear discernment has become difficult, if not impossible. It should be noted that, compared to 2010, our last presidential elections, social media has been wielded as an effective tool for the dissemination of information and propaganda. In my Facebook feed, in particular, majority of posts are political in nature, either calling for support of a particular candidate or vilifying a particular candidate. It's gotten to the point that I have to think critically about what is posted on my wall, and carefully decide whether a post is worth sharing or not.

A number of posts were clearly emotional in nature, wherein the writer simply needed to express his or her anger, whether it be against the current administration, or against a particular candidate. While it was probably cathartic for the one posting, it wasn't particularly helpful in terms of making a sound decision on a candidate, although the posting is informative, since it's indicative of emotions running high in this coming elections.

At the same time, there have been many thought-provoking posts that were worth sharing, as Filipinos attempted to verbalize how they felt about their chosen candidates. The nature and quality of the posts demonstrated that a number of us are actively discerning, and letting others know the thought processes that led their respective decisions. The fact that others are sharing these posts helps demonstrate our nascent maturity in our decision-making.

As the campaign period winds down, it appears that, despite all of the negatives, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is going into the weekend as the favorite to win, with a commanding double-figure lead in the surveys; it almost parallels the impending victory of U.S. businessman Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. Despite this, Duterte's camp cannot rest on its laurels, as it still has to persuade the electorate, particularly Duterte's followers to go out and vote for him on Monday.

It's also still possible that those who have supported Duterte up to this point may have second thoughts, and decide otherwise on May 9, which may give the victory to LP candidate Mar Roxas or Sen. Grace Poe. In the end, whoever is able to get out the vote for their candidate will secure the win in Monday's elections.

At the same time, it's important that the candidates' camps do not resort to cheating in order to win. That does not help us, as a democracy. It is imperative that the people's will not be hijacked by unscrupulous forces.

Hopefully, though, once the elections are over, all of us can move on, and accept the results, whatever they may be, and both support and scrutinize the winning candidate, in order to ensure our nation's growth. We cannot allow the divisiveness of this elections continue beyond the elections, for that will be the path to our failure as a nation. Come Monday, the majority will have spoken, and we need to join with the winner to continue to build the nation, assuming, of course, that nation-building is what the winner has in mind.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The 2016 Senate Race: My Take

With Election Day less than a week away, voters are still scrambling to figure out their senatorial line-ups. With the presidential and vice-presidential races, people appear to be more or less decided for whom they'll vote; besides, it's just two slots, and that's still relatively easy to discern. However, with 12 slots up for grabs, the Senate needs careful thinking, since these will be the ones who will help decide the fate of laws passed for the next six years. We should be sure about our vote in this category come Monday.

Over the course of last month, I was working on a series of posts which focused on the 50 individuals who were considered as fit to run for the Senate (Just to recap, here they are: Parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten). For the most part, I'd like to think I was objective on my information-sharing, although, of course, there are those who have no place in the Senate.

For this post, I will be a little more opinionated, and list down whom I believe should be voted in, and those who shouldn't. For this purpose, I'll try to place the candidates in categories, and then it'll be up to you, readers, to discern and make your choices.

Note: You'll notice that I've listed more than 12 people whom I believe are worthy of our vote. This is because I'm also still discerning, and will only come to a final decision the day before.

Deserving of vote
Sergio Osmena III
Richard Gordon
Teofisto Guingona III
Ina Amblodto
Leila de Lima
Franklin Drilon
Win Gatchalian
Risa Hontiveros
Panfilo Lacson
Mark Lapid
Francisco Pangilinan
Jericho Petilla
Ralph Recto
Roman Romulo
Joel Villanueva

I've listed a number of candidates here based solely on their track record; for example, I probably won't vote for Lacson, but, admittedly, he has worked hard to establish his reputation as a no-nonsense legislator.

Not sure, but do consider

Rafael Alunan
Levito Baligod
Greco Belgica
Walden Bello
Lorna Kapunan
Rey Langit
Dante Liban

Edu Manzano
Allan Montano
Susan Ople
Cresente Paez
Francis Tolentino
Miguel Zubiri

This group is a mix and match of people whom I'm not sure about in terms of whether I'd want to vote for them, but I don't see enough negatives to totally discount them. While a number of them have absolutely no chance of winning in the elections, their profiles show that they deserve at least consideration for voters.

Popular, but no ... just no
Manny Pacquiao
Vicente Sotto III
Neri Colmenares
Martin Romualdez

I know that, based on the surveys, Sotto and Pacquiao are probably getting into the Senate, but I'd rather not see them there. Sotto, because of his character, and Pacquiao, because of his lack of understanding about what the job really entails. Romualdez, while not in the magic 12 in the surveys, is pretty close, but I'd rather not because of his close association with the Marcoses. The same goes for Colmenares, who earned brownie points with his SSS pension increase proposal, but is suspect because of his ties with Makabayan, which is a leftist front.

If you like police/military men
Romeo Maganto
Ramon Montano
Getulio Napenas
Sam Pagdilao
Jovito Palparan
Dionisio Santiago
Diosdado Valeroso

I didn't realize until I started researching that there were this many from the military and the police who are running. Except for Palparan, who is facing criminal charges, and Napenas, who is also facing charges, voting for any of these wouldn't hurt.

If you like celebrities
Isko Moreno Domagoso
Alma Moreno Lacsamana

So far, during this campaign, all I've seen of these two are their dance moves.While entertaining, it doesn't give me an idea as to whether they're qualified for the Senate. My gut feel? No, they aren't.

Only if you're as crazy as they are
Sandra Cam
Larry Gadon

During their respective interviews with Interaksyon, both said things that make me question their sanity. Cam, for example, stated that criminals such as rapists and drug lords do not have human rights, while Gadon promised to commit genocide if Muslim rebels do not come to terms with the government. Does that convince you to vote for them?

No chance of winning
Sharrif Albani
Aldin Ali
Godofredo Arquiza
Mel Chavez
Ray Dorona
Eid Kabalu
Jacel Kiram

My problem with this group is that not enough information exists out there that makes me want to consider them, and what I do know about some of them does not entice me to vote for them. Kiram, for example, may cause friction between our country and neighboring Malaysia, because of her alleged involvement in her father's plan to retake Sabah.

Still, if you're short of 12 candidates, and feel that you should complete the slate, it wouldn't hurt to shade their respective ovals; they're not getting in, anyway.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The 2016 Senatorial Candidates, Part Ten

Here's the last post on the 50 senatorial candidates. A final word, though: let these posts be a jumping off point for your own research. Once more, it's important for us to make an informed and discerned vote this coming May.

Here are the previous posts:
1. Vicente Sotto III (NPC)
   Member of UNA and Sen. Grace Poe's senatorial slate
   Notes: While a longtime Senator, having served in the Senate for three terms, Sen. Sotto's reputation is tainted by a number of controversies: his defense of former President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada, his subsequent involvement in the EDSA Tres riots, his serial plagiarisms, and his inclusion of libel in the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III. Image from Law and Behold!
   Despite these controversies, Sen. Sotto continues to be popular, because of his being a comedian (member of the trio of Tito, Vic, and Joey) and because of the name-recall this generates.
  In fairness, if it weren't for the above problems, Sen. Sotto has been a productive member of the Senate, having served in a number of leadership roles, including Floor Leader (both Majority and Minority), and has chaired a number of committees.

   Sen. Sotto has long been known as an anti-drug advocate, as well as a pro-life advocate, as his opposition to the reproductive health act has demonstrated. He has also promoted information technology, which, along with his opposition to reproductive health, helped generate some of the controversies surrounding him.
   Sen. Sotto has an active Facebook page and a Twitter account.

2. Francis Tolentino (Independent)
   Former chair, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)
   Former Mayor, Tagaytay City
   Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
   Notes: Francis Tolentino has led a life devoted to public service, first as Tagaytay Mayor from 1995 to 2004, then as chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). In both capacities, he has championed public safety. During his time as Mayor, he instituted the Tagaytay Office of Public Safety, and, as MMDA chair, he ran the first metro-wide disaster management drill. He also attempted to tame Metro Manila traffic, but was unsuccessful in this endeavor.

Francis Tolentino. Image from Rappler.

    Originally a member of the Liberal Party line-up for the Senate, Tolentino was compelled to withdraw his inclusion in the slate after his name surfaced in a controversial presentation during a Laguna LP member's birthday celebration. Nevertheless, he decided to push on with his run for the Senate, but as an independent.
    His platform, based on Rappler's and Starometer's articles, appears to revolve around the following main issues:
  • Disaster preparedness - to this end, he proposes the creation of a Community Recovery Fund, as well as the setting up of a system of rehabilitation for affected areas; 
  • Empowerment of local government - he is for increasing the Internal Revenue Allocation for LGUs which perform well, and proposes the creation of a Police Youth Reserve Corps which will assist LGUs in dealing with peace and order, as well as disaster management;
  • Protection of natural environment - Tolentino calls for responsible mining, with revenues going to affected communities; 
  • Women and children's rights - Tolentino calls for greater partcpaton of women n the workforce, and proposes that children in school be direct beneficiaries of PhilHealth and educational insurance.
   Tolentino has both a Facebook and a Twitter account, but the Twitter account has never been used.

3. Diosdado Valeroso (Independent)
   Former police chief
   Notes: A former military rebel during the EDSA Revolution, Valeroso made headlines last year after the tragic Mamasapano incident,  when he claimed that he was in possession of an audio recording of government officials allegedly talking about a cover-up of the operation, which resulted n the death of 44 members of the Special Acton Force of the Philippine National Police (PNP-SAF), as well as 5 civilians and 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters. However, nothing came out of the investigation.

Supt. Diosdado Valeroso. Image from his Facebook page.
   Supt. Valeroso rose to prominence when he, along wth Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Gregorio Honasan formed the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and the Young Officers Union (YOU), which helped topple the Marcos regime in 1986. He was also involved in the bloody coups during the presidency of the late Cory Aquino.
   In his interviews with GMA7 and Rappler, Supt. Valeroso outlined his platform:
  • Transparency. Valeroso supports the passage of the Freedom of Information bill, believing it will lead to an end to corruption n the government; 
  • Disaster risk reduction. 
  • Assistance for OFWs. Based on a profile page, Valeroso once ably served as police attache in China, and worked for the rights of the OFWs there.
  • The right for indigenous people to seek self-determination. Apparently, Valeroso seeks to allow not only Moros, but also other groups of indigenous people to govern themselves.

    Valeroso has a Facebook page, but all it has is his picture, and nothing else.

4. Joel Villanueva (LP)
   Former chair, TESDA
   Former party-list representative, CIBAC
   Member of LP senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
   Notes: Joel Villanueva, the son of preacher Eddie Villanueva, was a party-list representative from 2001 to 2010, after which he was appointed as director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Joel Villanueva. Image from Philippine Online Chronicles.
   As CIBAC representative for nine years, his main achievement appears to be one of the authors of the Anti-Red Tape Law of 2007.
   As TESDA Director, Villanueva was responsible for upgrading the agency, and, as a result, a number of regional and provincial offices were granted ISO certifications.
   Perhaps because of his experience in TESDA, Villanueva's main advocacy is job generation and skills development, which he probably believes is a way by which poverty can be solved. His platform is an acronym which points to his having been TESDA chief: Trabaho (Jobs); Edukasyon (Education); Serbisyo (Service); Dignidad (Dignity); and Asenso (Progress).
    Joel Villanueva has an active social media feed, with a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, as well as his own web page.   

5. Juan Miguel Zubiri (Independent)
   Former congressman, former senator
   Member of UNA and Sen. Grace Poe's senatorial slate.
   Notes: Miguel Zubiri is probably best known for having resigned from his Senate post after it was clear that his main competitor for the final slot in the 2007 elections, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, was the actual winner for that slot.
   However, in the time that he was in the Senate, he was an active participant in the art of crafting laws. His Senate page lists a number of laws, of which he was either one of the principal authors or co-authors:

  • the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010;
  • the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;
  • the Renewable Energy Act of 2008;
  • the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act.
   Of these, Zubiri appears to have made environmental issues, particularly clean fuel, the centerpiece of his platform in his current run for the Senate. In addition, Zubiri lists the following as the issues he plans to address should he win in the elections:
Juan Miguel Zubiri. Image from WikiPilipinas.
  • Health - Zubiri advocates free health care for all, as well as the strengthening of government hospitals' services; 
  • Education - He also wants free food programs for students, and advocates the establishment of special education centers for special students;
  • Environment - Zubiri calls for the strengthening of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management capability of local government units, as well as the strict implementation of environmental laws;
  • Peace and Development - He is in favor of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and advocates the strengthening of cooperatives as an aid to development;
  • Food Security - Zubiri wants to strengthen the agricultural sector by establishing 'food corridors' in each region, by creating agricultural centers in each region. He also favors the enactment of the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization Act.
Miguel Zubiri has an active Facebook page for his campaign. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The 2016 Senatorial Candidates, Part Nine

Someone on Facebook has come out with infographics on each of the 2016 senatorial candidates. I do encourage readers to check it out (Here's the link to the album.). Any and every bit of information on those who aspire to the Senate is needed, since most of the attention in this year's campaign has been allotted to the presidential and vice-presidential race. It's crucial for us to make an informed choice in our vote, since these (the president, the vice-president, and the Senators) will be with us for the next six years.

I'm down to my last two posts. Hopefully, I'll be done, either by later or by tomorrow.

Here are the previous posts:

Carlos Petilla. Image from Wikipedia.
1. Carlos Petilla (LP)
   Former Energy Secretary
   Former governor, Leyte (2004-2012)
   Member of LP senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago  
   Notes: After serving as Leyte governor for eight years, and Energy Secretary for around three years, Carlos Petilla has devoted much of his life to public service. Now, he aspires to a higher office, the Senate.

  As Leyte governor, he spent the early days of his being in office drafting and implementing the province's Investment Code in 2004, to make Leyte business-friendly to investors. This initiative made Leyte one of the most business-friendly provinces.
   During his time as governor, Petilla also focused on public health, and implemented the Hospital Enhancement for Leyte's Progess (HELP), which, according to an article on Health Management Innovations by Melanie Aldeon, sought to "incentivize the doctors in government hospitals to serve full-time; maximize PhilHealth collection; and contribute to the income of hospitals for the improvement of its facilities."
  As Energy Secretary, Petilla worked hard to make electricity more affordable for Filipinos, as the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in the region. Some of the initiatives he undertook as Energy Secretary include:
  • Energy reforms such as the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) and Competitive Selection Process (CSP) both in a bid to lower down power rates;
  • The implementation of the Feed In Tariff (FIT) Rule, the Must Dispatch Rule and the Reserve Market all in a bid to promote the renewable energy investment;
  • Pioneering the Solar PV Program for academic institutions and government buildings within Metro Manila in a bid to promote clean and renewable energy;
  • Pushing for the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) as a measure to ensure energy supply security during critical peak hours at the height of the impending summer power shortfall;
  • Actively promoting the Energy Efficiency Campaign “Energy Sense, Save Cents” to manage the demand side of the industry during the summer power shortfall.
 Aside from energy concerns and public health, Sec. Petilla also advocates open and free education, as well as transparency in government.

    Sec. Petilla has an active Facebook page for his campaign.

2. Ralph Recto (LP)
   Member of LP and Sen. Grace Poe's senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
   Notes: The author of the Expanded Value-Added Tax (E-VAT), Sen. Recto is a long-time fixture in the Senate, as he makes his reelection run for what could be his third term in office. As Senator, he has been tireless in working on various laws that would benefit the Filipino people.
Sen. Ralph Recto. Image from Politiko.

Aside from authoring the E-VAT, some of the laws Sen. Recto authored include:
  •  increasing the tax exemption on the 13th month pay from P30,000 to P82,000;
  • modernizing the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA);
  • including all senior citizens under PhilHealth coverage;
  • enhancing the country's basic education program (K-12);

Sen. Recto also advocates adjustments to the income tax rate, lowering it to allow Filipino households more usable income.

Sen. Recto has an active Facebook page, as well as his own web site, for his campaign.

3. Martin Romualdez (LAKAS)
   Leyte Representative
   Member of UNA senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
   Notes: "Malasakit" (compassion) is the central theme of Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, as he makes his bid for the Senate. As a member of Congress, he authored the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, which exempts PWDs from having to pay value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. He has also co-authored the Magna Carta for the Poor, demonstrating his compassion for the poor. In sum, Rep. Romualdez has authored 46 measures, and co-authored 57 more.   Among other issues, Romualdez also wants to focus on integrating technology in solving some of the country's woes, such as traffic and disaster management.
Rep. Martin Romualdez. Image from Yahoo News.
  Rep. Romualdez made news waves when he called for an end to the 'blame game' over what happened when the supertyphoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) hit the country. It should be recalled that presidential candidate Manuel Roxas came under heavy fire for what was perceived as his and the government's lack of effort in dealing with the storm's aftermath. Romualdez brushe that aside, and commended Roxas for his being there when the typhoon struck, saying, "he (Roxas) did his honest best and risked his life to warn the people, but he and Sec. Gazmin were victims too."

  Rep. Romualdez has an active social media feed: a Facebook account, a Twitter feed, and an Instagram account. He also has his own web site for his campaign.

4. Roman Romulo (Independent)
   Pasig Representative
   Member of Sen. Grace Poe's senatorial slate
   Notes: The son of former Foreign Secretary and Senator Alberto Romulo, Rep. Romulo has managed to make his own name apart from his prominent father. In Congress, he authored 71 measures and co-authored 121 more, including:
Rep. Roman Romulo. Image from his web site
  • the Ladderized Education Act of 2014, which apparently seeks to allow technical-vocational educatcon students to pursue higher education, among other things;
  • the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, which seeks to grant scholarships to top students from public schools in state universities and colleges;
  • the Open Distance Act, which seeks to promote distance learning as a means of pursuing higher education; 

   During his previous terms, Rep. Romulo also helped in authoring the Cheaper Medicines Act, as well as a bill exempting those with less than P20,000 from income tax.
 Rep. Romulo has a fairly active social media presence: a Facebook account and a Twitter feed, as well as his own web site.

5. Dionisio Santiago (Independent)
   Former armed forces chief, former chief of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
   Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
   Notes: Based on his Rappler article, Gen. Santiago wishes to focus on the following issues:
Gen. Dionsio Santiago. Image from Philconsa.
  • Drugs. This is main platform, as he expressed concern over what he believes is the infiltration of illegal drugs in PDEA. He raised the need for lifestyle checks for PDEA officers.
  • National defense. He believes there is a need to review procurement procedures.
  • Social inequity. Among others, he believes that labor contractualization should be stopped, and that some compromise could have been done over the SSS pension increase. He also supports same-sex marriage.
  • Transportation. He believes that something should be done about the proliferation of cars, and thinks that that country should adopt stringent measures similar to that of Singapore.
  • Peace process in Mindanao. He is against the Bangsamoro Basic Law, although he did not propose an alternative to it. 
Gen. Santiago has a Facebook page for his campaign. 

The 2016 Senatorial Candidates, Part Eight

Back from the break, with three parts to go. Here is the eighth installment of the the 2016 senatorial candidates.

1. Manny Pacquiao (UNA)
    Boxer, congressman
    Member of UNA senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miram Defensor-Santiago
    Notes: Coming off his resounding win over Tim Bradley, the Pacman looks poised to win a seat in the Senate. However, while he is one of the greatest boxers of all time, he still has a lot to learn about being a top-notch politician, as evidenced by his being the most-absentee congressman in Congress, beating out perennial absentee Negros Rep. Jules Ledesma. While he has done much for his own province of Saranggani in terms of material help, he has done little in helping Congress pass laws that would have been beneficial for the whole country.

Manny Pacquiao. Image from Reappropriate.
    When one peruses his congressional record, it can be noted that he focuses on sports programs, as well as some beneficial ones, such as granting mothers longer maternity leave. However, because of his absences (last year, he was present for a whopping total of 4 days) means that he is not around to push these bills, nor is he around enough to vote for bills that are related to the causes he espouses.
    Like his presidential candidate Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Rep. Pacquiao promises populist policies which are based on lowering taxes and 'helping  the poor.' He also promises no absences, but, since few in the boxing world seem to believe that he has formally retired, this is a promise that Senate watchers are going to be guarding.
   If he does take his promise seriously, and learn the ropes of crafting laws, perhaps he will transcend the boxing world, and truly become someone who can be an asset to the Senate.

 Pacquiao has an active social media feed, with a Twitter account, a Facebook page, and an Instagram feed, although I'm not certain if the last one is his, or a fan page.

2. Cresente "Coop" Paez (Independent)
    COOP-NATCO party-list representative
    Member of LP senatorial slate
    Note: A three-time party-list representative, Rep. Paez has represented co-operative interests in Congress from 1998-2001, and then from 2010 to the present.
Rep. Cresente Paez. Image from the Liberal Party.

During his term in office, Rep. Paez has authored 39 bills, and co-authored 133. These include:
  • R.A. 10653, which raised the amount of the 13th month salary which will not be taxed to P70, 000;
  • R.A. 10744, which provides for the creation of credit surety fund cooperatives, which will allow micro-, small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs, as well as cooperatives and NGO, to access banks' credit facilities;
  • H.B. 03981, which requires the mandatory appointment of a cooperatives officer in every local government unit (transmitted to the Senate in 2014); 

Rep. Paez probably would not have been included in the Liberal Party slate, if it weren't for the withdrawals of former MMDA chief Francis Tolentino (although he's still running for Senator, albeit as an independent) and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista (running for re-election). Still, Rep. Paez appears to have spent his time in Congress wisely, so those supporting cooperatives would do well to think of him on election day.

Rep. Paez has a regularly updated Facebook page for his campaign, as well as a Twitter feed.

3. Samuel Pagdilao (Independent)
    ACT-CIS party-list representative
    Retired police general
   Notes: It seems that there are a good number of former policemen and armed forces members who have moved into the political realm after serving their tour of duty. Rep. Pagdilao is one of them, having been in the service since 1979. After retiring, he ran as a party-list representative for the Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) party-list in 2013. Having won a seat, Rep. Pagdilao authored 42 measures and co-authored 117 more, including:
Samuel Pagdilao. From his Twitter feed.
  • R.A. 10635, which established the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) as the sole maritime administration responsible for implementing and enforcing international conventions on training and certification of seamen (co-author);
  • R.A 10641, which amends the law on liberalizing the entry of foreign banks into the country (co-author);
  • R.A. 10645, which expands mandatory PhilHealth coverage to senior citizens (co-author);
  • R.A. 10660, which strengthens the law governing the Sandiganbayan (co-author)

Rep. Pagdilao has a regularly updated Facebook page for his campaign.

4. Jovito Palparan Jr. (Independent)
    Retired Army general
    Former Bantay party-list representative
Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. Image from Pinoygigs.
    Notes: While he may have been a party-list representative for the Bantay party-list, Gen. Palparan is more well-known for his being nicknamed "The Butcher " for alleged human rights violations committed during counter-insurgency operations under his command; the human rights group Karapatan attribute dozens of extrajudicial killings under his command. He is currently in jail awaiting trial for the 2006 disappearance of two U.P. students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno; Gen. Palparan spent three years in hiding before he was arrested in 2014.
    While he has not listed any platform that can be found online, it can be surmised that, in the unlikely event that he gets elected to the Senate, he will probably focus on issues involving security, peace and order, and the armed forces.

   Gen. Palparan has no discernible social media presence.

5. Francis Pangilinan (LP)
    Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization
    Former Senator
    Member of LP senatorial slate
    Notes: Francis Pangilinan is a familiar figure in the Senate, having served as a Senator from 2001-2012, after which he was appointed as food security czar by President Aquino.
    During his time in the Senate, he was apparently involved in the authorship/passage of the following laws:
Francis Pangilinan. From his official site.
  •      the Judiciary Compensation and Modernization Act, which doubled the salary and other benefits of judges. This made the role of being a judge more attractive and dealt with the vacancy problem in the courts.
  • The Citizen Retention Act of 2003, which allows Filipinos to reacquire Filipino citizenship;
  • The Filipino Overseas Absentee Voting Act, which allows overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to exercise their suffrage right abroad; 
  • The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, which places minors who commit crimes in diversion programs instead of behind bars with adult criminals.

    Based on his profile in Bayang Matuwid, Pangilinan intends to continue his focus on food security by generating more agricultural jobs.

    Like other politicians who keep up with the times, Pangilinan has an active social media presence, with a Facebook account, a Twitter feed, and an Instagram account, all of which are regularly updated.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Taking a Break

I'll be taking a break for the weekend from my series on the senatorial candidates, as I'll be out of town. If I find a reliable Internet source, I'll try to continue posting the last three parts of the 2016 senatorial candidates. If not, well, I'll continue next week.

I didn't realize that writing each post would be so taxing, as I'd had to scour sources online in order to find pertinent information on each candidate. Each post has taken more than an hour to set up, and, since I'm also teaching summer classes, I find myself tired out by the effort. This also explains why I haven't had any other posts about the ongoing campaign period; writing the senatorial series has taken all of my attention. At any rate, I'm down to the last three parts. I should be refreshed enough to finish them by next week.

In the meantime, social media is rife with netizens posting their preferences, and their condemnations of various candidates. It's important to remember that, before posting, to verify and discern whether it's worth posting. There's so much disinformation out there, which is why we have to be careful.

The Commission on Elections web site was hacked, and the information of millions of voters was later posted online; I checked, and, to my dismay, my own voting information was available at the site. However, one of my friends issued a warning against visiting the site, since it's monetized. That means, when one visits the site, or clicks on it, the owner of the site gets money. I hope that officials can catch these hackers, and charge them to the full extent of the law.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The 2016 Senatorial Candidates, Part Seven

Here is the seventh installment of the the 2016 senatorial candidates.
1. Allan Montano (UNA)
    Labor lawyer
    Member of UNA senatorial slate
    Notes: As he stated in his GMA7 interview with Howie Severino, lawyer Allan Montano has much experience in labor, having served as a voluntary labor arbiter for many years. It comes as no surprise, then, that labor comprises Montano's primary platform.
    During the interview, Montano bewailed the lack of labor expertise in Congress, particularly in the Senate, and promised to promote measures in order to correct this lack.
    Among some of the measures Montano plans to champion should he be elected are:
  • reform the tax system;
    Lawyer Allan Montano. Image from Rappler.
  • mandatory production incentives for workers, such as profit sharing;
  • the passage of the Freedom of Information bill; 
  • the passage of a Security of Tenure bill, which would limit the issue of contractualization of employment.
    During the interview, Severino asked Montano about the corruption allegations against his standard-bearer, Vice-President Jejomar Binay. Montano's response was simply to say that Binay should have his day in court; he brushed off the VP's non-attendance at the Senate hearings, and said that the hearings were a waste of taxpayers' money. 

    Montano has a Twitter feed, but it hasn't been updated since last year.

2. Ramon Montano (Independent)
    Retired General, Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police
    Notes: Running for the Senate isn't new for retired general Ramon Montano, as he had two other bids for the Senate, one in 2004 and the other in 2013.

Gen. Ramon Montano (ret.). Image from Halalan 2016
    Montano was the chief of the PC-INP during the time of the late president Cory Aquino. He also served the next president Fidel Ramos as a presidential adviser on political affairs.
    Montano's platform for the Senate is simple: a focus on improving the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. To this end, he proposes reforms to the Local Government Code, particularly the removal of local political control over the police.
   As far as I can tell, Gen. Montano has no social media presence that can be readily ascertained.

3. Getulio Napenas (UNA)
    Former Commander, Special Action Force (SAF)-PNP
    Member of UNA senatorial slate
    Notes: The main celebrity status for the former SAF commander is his being in command during the tragic Mamasapano incident, wherein 67 people (44 SAF members, 17 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters, and 5 civilians) were killed. While Napenas initially accepted responsibility for the tragedy, he later castigated President Aquino and then-suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima for being responsible for the deaths of the 44 SAF members. Napenas even went as far as saying that the President had no balls. It appears that anger is driving the former SAF commander, who, along with Purisima, is also facing charges of grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty, as recommended by the Ombudsman.

Former SAF Commander Getulio Napenas. Image from

    :Like Montano (above), Napenas also plans to focus on measures that will improve the welfare of policemen and the armed forces. He also wants justice for the so-called SAF 44.
     Napenas has no social media presence that can be readily ascertained.

4. Susan Ople (Nacionalista Party)
    Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Advocate
    Member of both UNA and Sen. Grace Poe's senatorial slate. Endorsed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Susan "Toots" Ople. Image from Patnubay Online.
    Notes: The youngest daughter of the late Labor Secretary and Senator Blas Ople, Susan Ople has taken up her father's advocacy, and has continued to work for the improvement of OFW rights.
    Based on details gleaned from various online sources, such as RachFeed,  Ople has served as her father's chief of staff in the Senate. She has also served two other senators, Sen. Mar Roxas, who is running for president, and the late Sen. Ernesto Herrera. As part of her OFW advocacy, she has been the radio host of "Global Pinoy" on DWIZ 882KHz, and maintained a column in Tempo, as well as in Panorama.
    It is likely that, should she be elected, she will continue to work for the betterment of OFWs.
    She also has an active Facebook account for her campaign.

5. Sergio Osmena III (Independent)
    Re-electionist senator
     Notes: It says a lot that Sen. Osmena is not a member of any ticket, and yet, he continues to place in the so-called Magic 12 in the surveys; he's that well-known that he does not have to ally himself with anyone.

Sen. Sergio Osmena. Image from Rappler.
     A grandson of the late President Sergio Osmena, Sen. Osmena is probably one of the last statesmen we have, having served in the Senate from 1995-2007, and then coming back in 2010. He was one of those incarcerated during the martial law period, but managed to escape, along with ABS-CBN's Geny Lopez. He has gone on record stating that our country would be a laughingstock should the son of the dictator, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, win as vice-president in this year's elections.

    As a Senator, he has been known as a maverick, following the dictates of his conscience over political concerns. During the impeachment trial of former President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada, Sen. Osmena was one of those who voted to open the controversial Jose Pidal envelope, the non-opening of which sparked Edsa Dos, and led to the eventual removal of Estrada from office.
    A quick research shows that Sen. Osmena's focus appears to be in business and financial institutions, since he was the principal author of a bill expanding the exemptions to the value-added tax, as well as another seeking to protect bank clients from bank closures. This is not surprising, since in his pre-Senate days, he was involved in a number of businesses, both before and after martial law.
   Sen. Osmena has a Facebook page, but it's been a while since it's been updated.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On the Subject of Rape and Mayor Duterte

The 2016 election campaign is in the last stages, as the various candidates go for that last push that will help them win on May 9, 2016.

In particular, the campaign of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has gained a lot of traction, although he has gained scorn for his gutter language, most recently when he was sharing a story about a 1989 hostage situation, wherein an American missionary, Jacqueline Hamill, was among those killed; if the story is accurate, she was also gang-raped.

In Mayor Duterte's story, he regretted that her death was a loss, and, on the subject of her being raped, he said that she was so beautiful that the mayor should have gone first.

Duterte's story/joke sparked nation-wide, and maybe worldwide, condemnation, since rape is a delicate issue, and should not be the subject of humor. Duterte's followers were quick to defend him, and some even stated that "a bad joke is better than bad government." Social media has been rife with incendiary comments from both sides, some loud in their condemnation of Duterte, while the other side has been staunch in their defense of a mayor, whom they believe has what it takes to "clean up" the country's alleged deteriorating law and order situation.

Duterte would later claim that he spoke out in anger, and was not joking about the rape. Unfortunately, in the video of his narration, the audience were clearly smiling and laughing about his "mayor should come first" statement, which belies his claim of having spoken out in anger. He then refused to apologize for what he said, only to issue an apology about his language two days later. It's been almost a trademark for Duterte throughout his campaign: issue a controversial statement or take a stand on an issue, only to retract what he said, or take an opposite stand on the issue later on.

Even the mayor's daughter, Sara Duterte, came out, and claimed that she too, was raped, but she did not have an issue with her father's joking about the subject. However, even Duterte doubted his daughter's claim, and even called her a 'drama queen.'

What I also find questionable is his supporters' staunch defense of whatever he does, whether right or wrong. It's almost as if Duterte can do no wrong in his eyes, so blinded they are by his being their messiah. Here's the thing about our candidates: we have to call them out when they do something wrong, not defend them to the death. We have to hold our candidates accountable for their actions.

This election campaign is probably the most polarizing one I've seen since the 1986 snap elections. Part of the reason is that it is fueled by people's reactions on social media. It's gotten to the point that some have simply signed off social media until the elections are over, so poisonous is the atmosphere as netizens hurl accusations and inflammatory remarks against each other. People have started calling out for sobriety, for a calm to the political storm now raging.

With Duterte's apology, it's expected that the storm will momentarily calm down, although, given the fact that he's a loose cannon, it's also expected that Duterte will probably do or say something that will ignite the flames once again. It's almost a certainty.

UPDATE: That certainly didn't take long. Apparently, the apology supposedly issued by Duterte was actually damage control from his party, the PDP-Laban. Duterte has publicly disowned the apology,  and doubled-down on his refusal to apologize, saying (translated from Filipino), "Don't force the issue because I will never really apologize." This will probably put the PDP-Laban into a tizzy, since I'm certain its head, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, is more than aware of the damage Duterte's insensitive remarks have caused to his campaign.

It's possible that Duterte is aware that he has contradicted himself many times, and his pride simply won't allow him to make another flip-flop. However, in doing so, he may have caused those who have been undecided on whom to vote for to stay away from him; his own supporters have long demonstrated that, right or wrong, they will stick with Duterte to the end.