Author: Admin

Red secretaries used posts to further communist cause

THE communist cadres he appointed early in his administration to head crucial departments merely used their posts to further their insurgency, President Duterte said in a speech last week. That was the reason he decided to fire them, and one of the factors that convinced him that peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were futile.

In a speech last Friday in Camarines Sur, not too surprisingly unreported by a mainstream media that has been sympathetic to the rebels, Duterte said that former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano had urged members of left-linked organizations to occupy vacant lots.

This encouraged members of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), organized by the communist cadres, to occupy in March 2017, 8,000 government housing units in five sites in Bulacan, which had been allocated to the police. They wrongly thought that Mariano could successfully put pressure on Duterte to allow them to occupy the state-financed housing for the police. Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Questions Budget Secretary Diokno must answer

HOUSE Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. alleges that a firm linked to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s son-in-law got P550 million in government construction contracts, which it couldn’t have gotten without the official’s influence.

It is a serious allegation that Diokno should debunk with all the arguments and evidence he can muster. It dents the stellar graft-free image of the present administration in undertaking its massive, unprecedented infrastructure program.

But instead of confronting the allegations head-on, Diokno and his allies have instead tried to shift the attention to such irrelevant issues such as whether Andaya’s committee has the authority to undertake investigations on corruption in government infrastructure projects. or whether the Constitution prohibits a son-in-law from engaging in a business in which his father-in-law oversees in some way as a government official.

There was even a cheap attempt by that camp to claim that Andaya’s camp has merely been putting pressure on Diokno to allow it to control the billion pesos’ worth of Road Board funds, intended for quick disbursement for road repairs. That tack was, however, was quickly quashed when Andaya declared that if President Duterte wants the Road Board law repealed, he would support it without question in loyalty to this administration.

There are important questions Diokno must deal with decisively.

The biggest is this: Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

‘Not by bread alone’: A cruel adage

This article represents the resumption of a different kind of column I had written every Sunday two years back, titled “Sunday Read,” which I ceased writing for various reasons. Sunday Read this time around will be devoted to topics other than politics and economics, the fare of my Monday, Wednesday and Friday pieces.

After all, a human being’s existence involves much more than the impact of the nation’s politics and economy on his life. Most of a man’s concerns and interests in his daily life are more important than what, say, the government has been doing, how the insurgency could affect him, how political forces are moving.

It may surprise laymen that many journalists, because they are so obsessed with their work, often forget that politics and business aren’t really that important for most people. Sophomoric these topics may seem, humans really are more concerned about such very personal things as the meaning of their actually short lives, death, religion, sex, spirituality, love and family.

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Only three scenarios for the communist insurgency

One reason for the survival of the communist insurgency is that there are those, like many ex-activist University of the Philippines and Ateneo teachers now in their senior years, who naively believe that the violent organization behind it is doing something right: effectively putting pressure on the elites to reform the country’s social structure. Thus, they refuse to join, and even condemn, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against this blood-thirsty insurgency.

They should think through the only three possible scenarios involving this armed challenge to our democratic way of life, and realize how ignorant and foolish such a stance is.

One scenario, the least unlikely is that the New People’s Army would be at par with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of military strength. Using the term plagiarized from Mao Zedong by the megalomaniac Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison to fool young idealists into joining his mad revolution, this would be the revolution’s stage of “strategic stalemate,” which comes after the strategic-defensive stage and before the strategic offensive.

But what is the reality behind Sison’s romanticization of the stages of revolution? Continue reading

Filed under: Manila Times Columns

PECO apologists resort to faking Arroyo letter

Apologists for the Panay Electric Co. (PECO), whether paid hacks or whatever their purpose is, have resorted to one of the vilest, yet crudest, black propaganda tricks in a desperate effort to discredit Congress’s refusal to give the power company another 25-year franchise and authorized a new firm to replace it instead.

They tried to circulate on social media a fake letter dated December 4, allegedly written by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that essentially “commanded” Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, to rush the granting of a franchise for electricity distribution in Iloilo City to another company, MORE Electric Power Corp.

The bogus letter even included a sentence saying President Rodrigo Duterte himself called Arroyo over his cellphone to rush the granting of the franchise.

The fake letter was so crudely done, and Arroyo’s signature was clearly forged. Arroyo’s office had quickly issued a denial that the Speaker ever wrote such a letter. It pointed out: “The Speaker does not sign such kinds of correspondence as the task is delegated to her Deputy Secretary General. The official letterhead of the Speaker is nowhere close to the letterheads used in the fake documents.”

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Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Did Jesus Christ really exist?

IT is incontestable in this modern age that science has been the singularly most powerful tool for us to understand reality, to separate what’s false and mythical, and what’s true and factual (or historical). Science just in the past 100 years of modern human’s 200,000 years of existence, for instance, has unlocked the mysteries of the atom and of the human genome, so we understand now that the world is not composed of “earth, air, water and fire” nor are we just a more sophisticated form of dust.

But science has been employed not only to understand matter but also human society, through such disciplines as archaeology, philology, literary and textual criticism, and sociology. So, it is not surprising at all that the social sciences have been used to study that aspect of human society that is so significant to humans: religion. These social sciences have been used to study the central figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ, whose birth we are supposedly celebrating tomorrow. Similar studies have been used to study the Muhammad of Islam. (See my column “Was Islam a Christian sect?” in October 2013).

Did such a person — whether as God himself in a reincarnation so familiar to the ancient world, or as half-divine, half-human — really exist?

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Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Lacson should stop stalking Arroyo and hurling false, cheap shots

SEN. Panfilo Lacson Jr. should stop picking on, practically stalking House Speaker Gloria Arroyo. He hurled the other day absurd and false accusations that infrastructure allocations for the 2019 budget for her Pampanga congressional district are among the largest for 2019. Lacson’s implicit unfair accusation is that in just six months after she became speaker, she was taking advantage of her post.

Lacson even made the accusations through media in a cheap, coy manner by not even mentioning Arroyo’s name, but referring to her as the “congresswoman” and listing the projects in Pampanga towns, which everyone knows she represents. That style of throwing dirt at someone one reads only in entertainment section gossip columns. It isn’t befitting a senator of the Republic. It’s a way of badmouthing somebody, but by hurling accusations one is not even sure of. Or just to throw dirt.

Lacson is lying through his teeth.

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Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Digong, Catriona electrify our nationalism

IN the span of three short days, a former mayor of the country’s remotest major city, and a Filipino-Australian born in far north Queensland have strengthened — electrified really — our sense of nationalism.

The easiest way to see this as not an exaggeration is to think of that exclamation expressed, separately, when the Balangiga bells were returned on December 15 to the Philippines after President Duterte’s intense lobbying and when Catriona Gray won the Miss Universe title on December 17: “Proud to be a Filipino!”.

To realize this on a deeper level, one has to understand the groundbreaking insights on nationalism of the late Cornell University political scientist and historian Benedict Anderson, which he explained in his academic bestseller, the 1983 book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.

For starters, we have to disabuse our minds that, contrary to what an unfortunately growing number of “globalists” — really little brown Americans — claim, it is nationalism, or the intensity of a people’s sense of belonging to this association called the nation, that has been the biggest factor in all countries’ growth and prosperity.

This is an incontestable fact of history around the globe. It is only when these countries have become rich nations that they have espoused “globalism,” a tactic one Korean nationalist economist claimed was a form of “pushing the ladder away” after they’ve reached the summit of their countries’ development.

Most important organization
The nation is the most important organization modern man belongs to since its situation mostly determines his fate. Just think of the grossly contrasting fates of an ordinary Filipino worker’s family if he stays here or migrates to the US.

Anderson pointed out though how difficult it is for a people to be nationalistic, since the nation is really an “imagined community.” It is different from “real communities” such as the family, the clan, the tribe, or even the fraternities to which it is just natural to have an allegiance to, since we get to be acquainted with each and every member of these organizations. These are after all simply collections of relatives or friends we know.

December 15, return of Balangiga Bells; December 17, Catriona Gray crowned Miss Universe.

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Filed under: Manila Times Columns

Balangiga bells’ recovery a boost to Duterte’s prestige — even globally

THE return to the country of the so-called Balangiga bells looted by American troops in 1901 from a Samar town as war trophies after defeating — massacring, Filipino historians claim — Waray insurgents hugely raises President Duterte’s prestige not only in the country but even on the world stage.

Despite pathetic attempts by the Yellows, such as the blabbermouth Sen. Risa Hontiveros, to wrench off this feather in the President’s cap, I don’t think there is any doubt over Duterte’s crucial role in getting the US to return the bells, as I will discuss below.

Historians will all be reporting: “Under Duterte’s leadership and with his pressure on the US government, the Philippines after 117 years recovered very important symbols of its nationalist aspirations and its people’s sacrifices to establish an independent nation.”

This is a President that understands the subtle requirements for building a nation: symbols.

What hasn’t been given enough attention is the fact that his success in convincing the Americans to give the bells back to the Philippines strengthens even in a small way as another precedent, the efforts of over a dozen colonized nations to get their former colonial masters to return their own looted treasures.

The three-feet-tall 19th century church bells of course are far from the level — in value or antiquity — of, for instance, the looted ancient Parthenon sculptures Greece has been demanding for decades Great Britain to return, or the Chinese zodiac bronze heads that were at Beijing’s Summer Palace and stolen by the British and French troops in the 1860 so-called “Opium War,” which the Chinese have been demanding to be returned to China. A distinction might also be made of a “war trophy,” which the bells were, and treasures of a nation looted by a conquering army.

Same crime
However, the principle — or the crime — is the same. A European colonizer or invading state takes as war booty a defeated nation’s property and keeps it in their museums, or as in the Balangiga case, in a US Air Force War museum. The Balangiga bells after all were not pistols or swords — the usual war trophies — but were religious artifacts of our Spanish colonial history, having been cast circa-1863, and were the property of the Franciscans whose coat of arms is even etched on them.

Symbols of our aspirations for an independent nation recovered.

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Sison’s Communist Party must be outlawed

THE primordial duty of any nation-state is to defend its existence. This is the reason why all nations in the world, except for the pseudo-state called The Vatican, each have an army. Other than its armed forces, a state’s weapon for defending its existence is through laws that it can apply within its sovereign territory.

Why the hell don’t we have a law banning the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) — the Maoist organization founded by the permanent Netherlands blabbermouth Jose Ma. Sison — its New People’s Army, its negotiating arm and propagandist the National Democratic Front, and its front organizations such as Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and several other so-called party-list organizations?

The CPP’s Constitution (available on the internet) very categorically declares that its goal is to overthrow our democratic, republican system using the weapons of “revolutionary armed struggle and the national united front.” Its program declares that is to be done by building guerilla fronts “to encircle the cities from the countryside… until it becomes possible to seize power in the cities.”

And what will replace the Philippine Republic, its Congress and Constitution? “The Party as the ruling party, in representation of the working class, shall form the government,” the CPP program declares.

Yesterday, the party even had the gall to issue a statement — carried by all newspapers — ordering the NPA to attack, that is, to kill without provocation our soldiers and policemen. The statement declared: “ The CPP calls on the NPA to mount tactical offensives across the country in response to the extension of martial law in Mindanao. All NPA units must exert all possible effort to punish the worst fascist units and officers of the AFP…”

Congress threatened
What is shocking in the CPP statement is that it even threatened Congress: “Everyone who voted in favor of extending martial rule in Mindanao will have their names tainted with the blood of each and every victim of Duterte’s all-out war.” In the CPP’s code, to be “tainted with blood” means to have “blood-debts,” and therefore to be executed under its brand of “revolutionary justice.”

CPP statement ordering killing of soldiers and police in response to extension of martial law in its website

Have we become a nation of masochists that we don’t have a law to ban an organization that has declared war on our way of life?

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Filed under: Manila Times Columns