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2011: Annus horribilis

President Benigno Aquino III partying, giggling over starlet Valerie Concepcion’s jokes, when at least 1,200 Filipinos just drowned in a typhoon in Mindanao and 60,000 lost their homes, captures the ethos of the past 12 months: a horrible year of natural and man-made disasters, with an incompetent or uncaring national leadership’s mind elsewhere.

Five destructive typhoons hit the country, with the fifth the most horrible, Tropical Storm “Sendong” in December.  Yet government’s disaster preparation and management continued throughout the year to be a bungling one. (more…)

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‘A bloodless coup d’état’

That was how the great American columnist Walter Lippmann in his column, titled “The Seizure of the Court,” described President Franklin Roosevelt’s attempt in 1937 to control the Supreme Court. Roosevelt’s victory would have meant that “one man shall become the master of all three branches of the government and the fundamental law as well,” he wrote.  Fast-forward 74 years later, soberly consider the recent events in our country, and a bloodless, though slow-motion coup d’état is also occurring by which President Aquino will dominate all three branches of government and the Constitution as well:

On President Aquino’s orders, the daughter of a respected former president, a former senator, the Philippines’ 12th vice president, the 14th president of the country, and a sitting member of the House of Representatives is arrested on the sole, very dubious claim of a warlord’s underling implicated in the Maguindanao massacre of 57 people. (more…)

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Hacienda Luisita’s day of infamy

December 12, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy in the history of our Republic. That was the day when the House of Representatives politically prostituted itself to a President demanding the head of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because it ruled against his clan.

In the impeachment of Joseph Estrada and Merceditas Gutierrez, the proceedings went on for months.  In the case of Chief Justice Renato Corona, there were no hearings, no debates, no discussions.  Only secret meetings in hallways and restaurants.  Within hours, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte got 188 out of the 284 representatives to sign the document impeaching the Chief Justice, never mind if most of them hadn’t read the 57-page complaint.  “We were not allowed to read the document,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño told this newspaper, oblivious to how servile his admission made him. (more…)

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Aquino savages the rule of law

Never has this happened before in our nation: The President savages the Supreme Court, the core institution of the rule of law, insults the Chief Justice to his face, and claims that only he—and not the justices who have spent decades in the study of law—can correctly interpret the Constitution.

Never before has a president called for a lynch mob against a crucial institution of a civilized society, alleging that the Supreme Court justices rule not on the basis of the law but on the command of who appointed them to their posts. It didn’t occur to Mr. Aquino though that the person he claims to control the high court—former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—is powerless, sick, and even nearly helpless in fending off a lynch mob. (more…)

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Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, farmers victorious vs Aquino hacienda

You’d have to visit Hacienda Luisita to realize how vast it is, why it’s been a symbol not only of elite rule in our country but of its hypocrisy and powers of deceit. It’s the biggest hacienda in the country, with a total area of 64.4 square kilometers—nearly as big as the cities of Manila and Makati combined.

The sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see were a marvel for me when I first visited the hacienda in 1970. It was troubling though to see emasculated sugar workers, their skin blackened by the hot Central Luzon sun, their shoulders nearly buckling under the weight of sugarcane poles, and after that to be served US steak from nearby American Clark Airfield in an air-conditioned hacienda mansion. Class exploitation, class struggle are not ideas but realities in this hacienda, I then felt. (more…)

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