Fitch Ratings: Aquino governance weak

Even as President Aquino boasts that under his leadership the country’s credit status has been upgraded, Fitch Ratings’ actual statement as well as its data shows that the upgrading has nothing to do with improved governance.

“Governance standards, as measured in international indices such as the World Bank’s framework, remain weaker than ‘BBB’ range norms, “ Hearst Corp.’s Fitch Ratings said in its statement on its upgrading of the Philippines’ long-term debt issues to BBB-, or “entry-level” investment grade. (more…)

Continue Reading Fitch Ratings: Aquino governance weak

Stop subsidizing the rich at UP

Tuition Fees Per Year in Pesos (36 units, or for a year): Education for all, certainly, but charge the rich

 

The Manila Times, March 27, 2013

WHAT makes the suicide of University of the Philippines student Kristel Tejada so tragic is this:

While she got so despondent that her family couldn’t afford her tuition fees, the university has actually been subsidizing children of the Philippine elite.

The UP’s “full tuition” fee (imposed for students whose families ostensibly make P1 million or more a year) is P54,000 for 36 units, for a year’s maximum academic load. That’s a preposterous 5 percent of their income that they’re allocating for their son or daughter’s college education, really the best in the country.That’s peanuts for the rich, not even close to what they spend in the year eating out.

The populists and Leftists at UP would protest that this—or any tuition level actually—is too high for a state university. But this is a subsidized rate: There have been studies that the actual cost for UP’s quality college education would be three times that, about P150, 000.

(more…)

Continue Reading Stop subsidizing the rich at UP

Aquino’s Ransom Republic

Hostage Rodwell: Why are US troops, not Filipino soldiers, securing him? Photo from Western Mindanao Command.

The Manila Times, March 25, 2013

Unless President Aquino and even most Filipinos have become so dense to realize it, the recent release by the Abu Sayyaf bandits of Australian Warren Rodwell is a huge red neon sign for the world to read:

Visit the Philippines, Asia’s Ransom Republic, if you want to be kidnapped by bandits and then pay millions of pesos to be released.  Hassle-free arrangements will be made for payment of the ransom by our police and local governments.”

While we rejoice that a human life has been saved,  “government’s handling” of, or rather, total inutility over the kidnapping diminishes our integrity as a nation, unless Mr. Aquino himself goes on a televised press conference to deny that P7 million in ransom paid was paid for the Australian ‘s release.

But it was Basilan Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul who told one newspaper that he witnessed the payment of P4 million to Abu Sayyaf leader Pujuri Indama. The Abu Sayyaf got only P4 million of the ransom, the paper said, as “local officials and middlemen” took their cut. (more…)

Continue Reading Aquino’s Ransom Republic

Did Jesus Exist?

The book's cover

Sunday Read: Book Review

The Manila Times, March 24, 2013

You’d probably be aghast that I devote a column to what seems to be preposterous question.

But it has been asked starting way back in the 18th century by scholars. In recent years, interest on the question has intensified with probably a thousand doctoral and masteral theses, books as well as articles both from Christian and secular universities touching on the issue. In past few years a slew of books – both academic and popular – by scholars and authors called the “mythicists’”. They argue that Jesus Christ is a myth, concocted in the first and second centuries to become the core of a new religion.

The mythicists claim we cannot simply accept the myths and even legends of pre-scientific superstitious societies but examine them in the light of science and humanity’s bank of information.  This is obvious in the case of the Greek gods. Less obvious are the cases of  Santa Claus, Robin Hood, even St. Christopher  who turn out not to be real historical people but amalgams of persons mythicized over the centuries (e.g., Santa Claus a confused mix of a 4th century German bishop St. Nicholas and the pre-Christian Viking god Odin.)

The mythicists  claim that elements of the Jesus  story have been common in myths during  that era and in that part of the world. The theme of a dying-rising God has been common in ancient religions: Osiris, Attis, Heracles, Baal.  The Persian God Mithra (who was popular among Roman soldiers) was also born to a virgin. (more…)

Continue Reading Did Jesus Exist?

Behind Jabidah: warlord vs warlord

Bocalan, who claimed Marcos asked him to finance and help run Operation Merdeka. Photo and caption from the book, “Bossism in the Philippines” by John Sidel

The Manila Times, March 22, 2013

Last of Three Parts

The allegations that Muslim youths were massacred in 1968 in Corregidor in a plan gone awry to take Sabah from Malaysia, as I explained last Wednesday, effectively buried our county’s claim to that territory.

Then Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. in his speech on the controversy March 28, 1968 claimed the Malaysians had a hand in creating conditions for what was hyped in media as “the Jabidah Massacre. ”

But behind the controversy was, as Filipinos term it, “pulitika”, politics in its most pejorative sense.  “Jabidah” was a propaganda weapon in the political war between two warlords for the control of Cavite in the 1971 elections as well as for the Philippine presidency.

How exactly did the allegations of a “Jabidah massacre” break out? (more…)

Continue Reading Behind Jabidah: warlord vs warlord

Malaysia’s masterstroke that buried our Sabah claim

 

The “Jabidah massacre” commemoration at Corregidor March 18. Why did the MILF and the MNLF ignore it? This article answers that question.

The “Jabidah” question

Second of Three Parts

Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.

It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.  

This was due to three of its consequences:

  • The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front.   Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders.  President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army,  it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao,  aided by Malaysia.
  • The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim  so that  Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
  • In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.”  It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion.   Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the  bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters. (more…)

Continue Reading Malaysia’s masterstroke that buried our Sabah claim

Ninoy did not expose the “Jabidah massacre,” he even doubted it

Aquino delivering a privileged speech at the Senate

The Manila Times, March 19, 2013

The “Jabidah Question”: First of Three Parts

Contrary to many accounts, senator Benigno Aquino Jr. did not expose the so-called “Jabidah massacre” 45 years ago today, which the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) exploited to the hilt to rally Muslims to its secessionist cause.

What he revealed to the world, and asked for a stop to, was the clandestine plan of his archenemy president Ferdinand Marcos to train and send Muslim commandos to Sabah to organize a revolt against Malaysia, the first step for the Philippines to take over the territory.

This conclusion is incontrovertible based on the late senator’s privileged speech on March 28, 1968 titled: “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?”

The speech is posted at the archives section of the official government website and at my personal website as an annex to this column.

That there was a Jabidah massacre has been mostly uncritically believed, as indicated in the following Wikipedia entry:

“The Jabidah massacre . . . refers to an incident in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah . . . It is widely regarded as having been the catalyst behind the modern Moro insurgencies in the Southern Philippines.”

The entry continued: “Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and some sources assert that the massacre is a myth.” The “some sources” it referred to consist solely of University of the Philippines anthropologist Arnold Molina Azurin who investigated the episode intensively in his book, Beyond the Cult of Dissidence. (more…)

Continue Reading Ninoy did not expose the “Jabidah massacre,” he even doubted it

Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.’s Jabidah speech 1968

Note: This is the speech  in 1968 of then Senator Ninoy Aquino, in which many, including his on Benigno Aquino III, claim he “exposed” the Jabidah massacre.   Ninoy refers to the episode only as the “Corregidor Affair’. When he mentions “Corregidor Massacre,” he  uses the qualifying adjective ‘so-called’.  You judge  for yourself what he thought of the episode.

Jabidah! Special Forces
of Evil?

By  Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr.

[Delivered at the Legislative Building, Manila, on March 28, 1968]

JABIDAH!
Who is Jabidah?
What is Jabidah?

Jabidah, Mr. President, is the name of a ravishing, stunning and beautiful woman in Muslim lore and legend.

As Muslim legend has it, Jabidah turned a countless number of Muslim men.

As it turns out now, however, her name might well have been Helen — Helen whose matchless beauty launched a thousand ships and laid the great Greek states to siege and waste.

For as things are, as I found them in my flying spot investigation of the muddled Corregidor Affair at its root, in the Sulu isles, Jabidah is the codename for a sinister design of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. (more…)

Continue Reading Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.’s Jabidah speech 1968

Religions and empires

SUNDAY READ

The Manila Times, March 17, 2013

Painter’s depiction of the Battle of Tours, 732 A.D.: If the Christian Franks lost this battle, we would have been Muslims

It is when a new Pope needs to be elected that most people, through television,   get to witness the majesty and glory of Catholicism’s capital, the Vatican in Rome

Never mind that it was mainly financed by Pope Leo X’s so-called indulgences, basically pay-to-get-to-heaven schemes that triggered the Lutheran revolt that led to Protestantism. The Basilica of St. Peter must be the most magnificent building on earth, and as you walk beneath Michelangelo’s dome, the largest in the world that it signifies the heavenly firmament, you can very easily imagine – with the colossal statues of the evangelists, saints, and Popes looking down on you – that you’re no longer on earth but in the Palace of the Gods.

Thanks to the spread of television and in the Philippines, to the networks’ cerrado Catolico devotion, millions of the Catholic faithful watched the Vatican’s spectacle for choosing the new Vicar of Christ.  What they saw seemed unearthly scenes, and for many, a confirmation that the Roman Catholic Church indeed represents the Deity that rules all of the Cosmos.

A proselytizer would follow up an assertion of faith: 1.2 billion Catholics can’t be wrong in their belief.

The quick answer to that: There are 1.6 billion Muslims, 800 million Protestants, one billion Hindus, 800 million Protestants and other types of Christians, and 500 million Buddhists.  Scratch the surface of ancestor worship, and China (population 1.3 billion) and Japan (127 million) are atheist countries. Although difficult to estimate, atheists either of the strong or weak varieties are believed to number 1.1 billion, and by all accounts growing.

The long answer, which explains why Christianity and Islam are the two biggest religions of the world, and in one word: Empire. (more…)

Continue Reading Religions and empires

Why no female Pope ever, never?

Poster of a 2009 film on a legendary female Pope

The Manila Times, March 15, 2013

A stupid question?  Not at all.  In fact, the question goes deep into the nature of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is a question that has even haunted, as it were, the nightmares of the Catholic Church.  Thus the intriguing reports through the centuries – dismissed though merely as legend by church historians – of a female  “Pope Joan” in the 11th century who disguised herself as a male, to be exposed, and killed, only when she gave birth in a pontifical procession.  The legend’s fascination even in the modern era is evident in that two movies have been made on Pope Joan, first in 1972 (and then more recently, a European one in 2009.

The persistence of the legend through the centuries is also evidenced by the fact that she is depicted in the Tarot as “La Papessa” (the Popess) or, obviously in order not to hurt Catholic sensibilities,  merely as the “High Priestess.”

It is the deep fear of a female Pope that explains the rumors that the last step in  the confirmation of a new Pope – portrayed in the hit TV series The Borgias —  is for the pope-elect to sit without his underwear in the sedes stercoraria, a chair with a huge hole in the seat,  so a bishop by groping can confirm  if he has balls, literally.

(more…)

Continue Reading Why no female Pope ever, never?