Monday, February 28, 2011
For this, I echo Solita Monsod in saying nay, and, in her column last Saturday, she gave her reasons, with which I also fully agree:
"And finally for the issue of Ferdinand Marcos being buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani: this has cropped up again because, it would seem, if General Reyes was allowed burial there with honors, so should Marcos. Excuse me. The analogy between Marcos and Reyes is really stretching it. Compared to the sins of Marcos—the wanton human rights violations, the suppression of the Filipino people for 14 years, accumulation of hundreds of millions of dollars ($658 million in Swiss banks) in unexplained wealth (Catalino Generillo cites this 2003 Supreme Court ruling: “Their [the Marcos income from 1966-1985—scm] only known lawful income of US$304,372.43 can therefore legally and fairly serve as basis for determining the existence of prima facie case of forfeiture of the Swiss funds”)—Reyes’ flaws are as nothing. (No case had even been brought up against him at the time of his death.) Moreover, to Reyes has been attributed the avoidance of a possible military takeover from Estrada. No contest."
Yesterday, in the Philippine Star, Mons Romulo-Tantoco opined that, since it had been long enough, he should be given that honor, since he had served as president of our country. Does the length of a ban really have some sort of statute of limitations? If that were the case, going by Romulo-Tantoco's logic, Germany should probably honor Adolf Hitler, since he had served as the leader of that country. What about Romania's Ceausescu? Or Haiti's Papa Doc Duvalier? They also served as leader of their respective country? Should they also be honored?
In the same column, Romulo-Tantoco poses the issue to others. Of those who argued that Marcos should be interred, La Union Governor Manuel Ortega gives the most objective argument, citing Marcos' achievements in infrastructure development and international diplomacy; never mind the fact that the infrastructure helped put us into massive debt. Businessman Noel Tolentino gave the erroneous argument of comparing Marcos to Angelo Reyes, which Monsod has ably answered.
Party-list Rep. Eulogio Magsaysay of the Alliance of Volunteer Educators (AVE) does himself no favors by stating, "While accused of committing atrocities, he showed true leadership, most particularly during the infancy of his rule. Without taking anything away from the people he allegedly wronged, it is my humble belief that we can go ahead and bury him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani."
Excuse me? "Allegedly"? That's an insult to the people the Marcoses have wronged. And Rep. Magsaysay claims to represent educators? It's probably in the same vein that Rep. Mikey Arroyo represents tricycle drivers and security guards.
I've said this before, and I'll say it again: unless the Marcoses admit to what they did to the county, and apologize for it, there is no way for former dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Let him remain in his air-conditioned mausoleum in the North.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Solita Monsod, in her column yesterday, raised the question of whether the Marcoses served the country or not, and gave five points for Senator Marcos to answer, namely:
"1. Was the torture, disappearance or death of at least 10,000 Filipinos during the course of his father’s martial law regime a service to the country? If so, in what way?
"2. Was the coddling of the military and the financial rewards given them during his regime a service to the country? In what way?
"3. Was the coddling of certain favored businessmen—the so-called “cronies”—a service to the country? If so, in what way?
"4. Was the collapse of the economy in late 1983 a service to the country? If so, in what way?
"5. Was the accumulation of foreign debt by the Marcos regime a service to the country? If so, in what way?"
I, for one, would be interested in the good senator's answers to the above.
Martial Law activist Manuel Almario, in a letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer today, cites numerous negative economic indicators which show the depredation of our country during the late dictator's regime. For one, poverty clearly rose during the Marcos' regime, partially a result of the drop in the real values of wages and the peso. Almario's letter helps us to remember the real effects of the Marcos's corruption.
What's bad about all this is that the Marcoses, from the late dictator to his children, have never apologized for the excesses of their 20-year rule of our country. And we Filipinos, soft-hearted as we are, have welcomed them back into the political realm with open arms. As a result, it probably emboldened Senator Marcos to make an attempt to revise history.
However, there are still enough people who remember the tragedy that was the era of Martial Law, and, as long as that is alive in our memories, we can continue the fight and continue to force those responsible for our suffering to account for their corruption.
Friday, February 25, 2011
We, as a people, have yet to mature to the point that we take an active role in the way our country is governed. At this point, we are content to let our politicians do all the work, and we forget that these leaders are our public servants and, instead, treat them like they're feudal lords deserving all the perks that they're getting. We fail to hold them accountable to their faults, with a few exceptions. As a result, our leaders get the impression that they're untouchable, that they are free to do whatever they want. It is probably this belief that led the Ampatuans think they could get away with massacring women and journalists.
It is definitely this belief that has caused the Marcoses, who were responsible for plundering our country and setting our nation back, to return to power. Our short historical memory has glossed over their sins, and there's even talk of a possible run at the presidency by the late dictator's son, Senator Bongbong Marcos.
Still, there is some progress. For the first time, the military is under the microscope for the corruption in its ranks. This has not been possible in previous administrations, since both Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo owed their leadership in part due to the military's intervention, Fidel Ramos was a former military man himself, and Erap Estrada, in his gunpowder mentality of wiping out the rebels, basically gave the military free rein.
President Noynoy Aquino, having come to power via the vote, has no strong ties to the military, has let Congress investigate the excesses of the likes of Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot, who represent the corruption that appears to be rife in the ranks of the military. Hopefully, this investigation will result in serious changes in the way the military does business.
While the current administration remains to be less than stellar in its leadership, a lot of Filipinos continue to put much faith in its efforts. It's clear, though, that we Filipinos cannot simply stand by and watch them work. As I have said before, we need to take an active part in the development of our country, and one way we can do that by holding our leaders accountable for their actions. On the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, it is important for us to remember that we as a people are powerful, and, with that in mind, we can help our country rise to greatness.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
A case in point is a statement made by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., as we approach the 25th anniversary of the EDSA I revolution. He claimed that, if his father had not been ousted, our country could have been transformed into "another Singapore". He went on to repeat his family's claim that his father, former President Ferdinand Marcos, was unjustly wronged by his critics, and that his father achieved much during the 20 years he was in power.
Of course, there will be a number of Filipinos who will fall for his propaganda, since they fail to remember the atrocities committed by the Marcos government and the military during the time martial law was imposed on our country.
We forget that, before Marcos imposed martial law, the Philippines was one of the highly-regarded countries in the region, second only to Japan.
Marcos' profligate borrowing left us deep in debt when he was removed from power. His 'crony capitalism' gave rise to massive corruption and plundering of our national treasury. His co-opting of the military into the martial law machinery so corrupted it that, until now, we are still dealing with the aftereffects. Critics of the Marcos regime were silenced, often killed; up to now, there are still many who remain missing, their fates unknown.
And have the Marcoses apologized for having done all this? No, especially since we Filipinos have let bygones be bygones, going so far as to put them back in positions of power. There's even speculation that the younger Marcos will attempt to follow in his father's footsteps in 2016. If that happens, all those who sacrificed their lives to give us freedom will have died in vain. All because we are so forgetful.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Last February 8, 2011, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision to clear Justice Mariano Del Castillo of having committed plagiarism in the Vinuya case, reiterating that Justice Del Castillo had no malicious intent when he lifted parts of various sources, including those of international law experts. In its decision, the Court stressed that the absence of attribution was an accident, and, thus, no plagiarism had been committed.
It's clear, then, that the Supreme Court is out to save the neck of one of their own, since it appears that, aside from the Supreme Court, everybody else believes that what Justice Del Castillo did was, in fact, plagiarism, intention or not. By clearing their colleague, the Court has sacrificed its integrity in order to protect one of their own.
As Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno pointed out in her dissenting opinion, the Court has effectively redefined plagiarism, and the result of this is that those who do commit plagiarism can claim lack of malicious intent as a legitimate defense. The Ateneo de Manila University, in fact, came out with a memo that stated that plagiarism is plagiarism, regardless of intent; however, the context of the action will determine the sanction. The question is, if a student commits plagiarism, and challenges the memo before the Supreme Court, will the memo stand up to the test, or will the Supreme Court strike it down based on its own definition of plagiarism?
Saturday, February 12, 2011
The Philippines, for example, remains mired in poverty and corruption because our leaders, and our countrymen, have not learned the necessary lessons when we ousted Ferdinand Marcos almost 25 years ago. We allow corruption to continue unabated in the military, the police and the government. No one, not the Marcoses nor Erap Estrada, has been made to answer for their crime; yes, technically, Estrada was convicted of plunder, but he was almost immediately pardoned by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose own corruption has not yet been addressed.
We continue to be bamboozled by our politicians by electing the popular and good-looking over those who are truly qualified. We take their grandstanding during investigations in Congress as taking action, never mind the fact that little or no legislation results from these investigations. We ignore the fact that, while some of our politicians rant and rail at others' corruption, their own hands are unclean, and their corruption is unaddressed.
When President Noynoy Aquino was elected last year, many Filipinos pinned their hopes that things would be better under his rule, but, sad to say, he still has a long way to go in leading our country to prosperity and positive values.
The important thing for us is to continue to be vigilant, to continue to be active in monitoring our public officials, and to continue to expose and reveal their corrupt practices. Hopefully, more people will catch on, and maybe our country can rise to greatness.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
In former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes' case, it's possible that the ongoing corruption investigation into the AFP's top brass' retirement plans was what did it. Reyes, who committed suicide this morning by shooting himself in the chest, apparently gave in to the pressure and decided that death was the preferable option.
At the time of his death, the Senate and the House were investigating the AFP retirement bonuses generals had allegedly received upon leaving the service. The investigation was an off-shoot of the plea bargain agreement of retired Major General Carlos Garcia, who was being tried for plunder. In Reyes' case, Congress was looking into foreign trips taken by his wife and the wife of former AFP comptroller, Jacinto Ligot, who, in turn, was being investigated for properties that his wife had bought.
Reyes' suicide has brought a temporary reprieve to the hearings, in deference to his service to the country. However, his death has raised more questions than answers, and, unfortunately for his wife, she will have to answer for all those foreign trips she's taken, and explain how she managed to pay for all of them.
The many sins of the AFP being brought to light has cast a long shadow on the credibility of our armed forces' leaders, and is likely to affect the morale of our troops, whose salaries, benefits and materials have apparently been appropriated by the top brass as their personal cash cow.
It should be noted that, and others can correct me if I'm wrong, this is probably the first time that corruption in the military is being investigated. Since the time of Marcos, when the military was first truly corrupted by the power it wielded during Martial Law, the military has been left alone to its devices. It is likely that whatever corrupt practices that it picked up from that dark era of our history, it has managed to continue to the present.
Here's hoping that the current investigation into the AFP corruption results in actual criminal charges filed in court, and those who manipulated the system to enrich themselves be tried and found guilty. It's only then that our justice system will truly be shown to be working.
Reyes’ death is a tragedy for our country, since he could have been made to answer the charges against him, and, in doing so, help our country mature in its fight against corruption. Instead, with his death, it is likely that Reyes has taken his secrets with him to the grave.