September 21…the day democracy died in the Philippines

September 21

…the day democracy died in the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Indeed, September 21 gained prominence in the history of the Philippines as the day democracy died because of the Martial Law declared by the late Ferdinand Marcos. Among the reasons cited for signing the declaration were insurgency, Communism, corruption in the government…all of which were deterrent to the advancement of the country’s economy. After the declaration, the Marcos government became a beehive of activities founded on “Bagong Lipunan” or New Society.

 

Slogans and songs were composed, projects were implemented, infrastructures to support various industries, particularly tourism, mushroomed. In addition to those, permits for logging and mining were issued to hasten the exploit of the natural resources, purportedly to give additional support to the quest of the dictator to put the country ahead of the rest of the Southeast Asian nations. Marcos succeeded as he gained prominence and looked up to with awe and admiration by the rest of ASEAN nations. He inspired Lee Kwan Yew to transform Singapore into what it is today.

 

Along with the so-called progress, military and police abuse also gained prominence resulting to the incessant rallies. The notoriety of “METROCOM” was the talk of the town, as well as, the disappearance of prominent student leaders. Political personages who belonged to the opposition were dragged out of session halls and their homes to be locked up, including Benigno S. Aquino.

 

What has the country gained? Obviously, Manila became the cultural center of Asia, what with the springing up of the Cultural Center Complex along Roxas Boulevard that included, The Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theater, Philippine International Convention Center, the former Philippine Plaza Hotel (today, Sofitel), the cluster of squat buildings for agro-industrial exhibit and shows. Marcos became the new “tiger of Asia”. The Philippines soared as the new leader of Southeast Asian nations. Thankfully, there was no suppression of religion. The illegal drug “industry” was somewhat controlled with the execution of a Chinese drug lord in Rizal Park.

 

On the other hand, the Marcos take-over and control of various corporations was overwhelming. The act was decently dubbed “sequestration” to give it a legal impression….nothing personal. But the book written by Jovito R. Salonga, “Presidential Plunder…The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth”, tells all about the staggering number of sequestered corporations controlled by the family and their allies. The book also tells how money is transferred from Manila to the banks in America for spending during their trips, as well as, the acquired properties in the land of Uncle Sam. The author was the first Commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Good Government, a misnomer, as the agency was supposed to concentrate on the ill-gotten wealth and not the issues on good governance.

 

During the time of their prominence, Imelda was quoted, “WE PRACTICALLY OWN EVERYTHING IN THE PHILIPPINES, FROM ELECTRICITY, TELECOMMUNICATIONS, AIRLINE, BANKING, BEER AND TOBACCO, NEWSPAPER PUBLISHING, TELEVISION STATIONS, SHIPPING, OIL AND MINING, HOTELS AND BEACH RESORTS, DOWN TO COCONUT MILLING, SMALL FARMS, REAL ESTATE AND INSURANCE”. This is the caption in the photo showing Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos in the same aforementioned book written by Salonga.

 

But the big question now is…HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE MARCOSES, WOULD THERE BE CULTURAL CENTER COMPLEX, PHILIPPINE HEART CENTER, PHILIPPINE KIDNEY CENTER, THE BETTER LRT (COMPARED TO THE NEW ONE), EXPANSION OF THE PHILIPPINE GENERAL HOSPITAL, ETC, AT THE RATE PLUNDERING IN THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING?

 

TODAY, EVEN A FEW KILOMETERS OF HIGHWAYS ARE SHODDILY CONSTRUCTED, BRIDGES ARE BUILT OF INFERIOR MATERIALS, PROJECTS ARE LEFT UNFINISHED, EVEN THE SHELTERS FOR THE DISASTER VICTIMS ARE BUILT OF INFERIOR MATERIALS. AFTER MARCOS, ILLEGAL DRUGS HAD AND ARE STILL HAVING A HEYDAY…ALTHOUGH, DUTERTE IS DOING HIS BEST TO CONTROL IT.

 

Finally, my advice as a mere “chirp in the wilderness” to President Duterte, is to tone down his praises to the Marcoses as the more praises he utter, the more supporters he losses. It is enough that he has let the whole world know that his family owes a lot to the Marcoses…with such pronouncement, he has already shown his gratitude more than enough.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Birthplace or Hometown and Democratic Life

The Birthplace or Hometown

And Democratic Life

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The “birthplace” in case we are an indigenous resident, or “hometown” in case we are an immigrant/migrant is the only place that we can officially claim as our “place of residence”. Common sense then, dictates that we should love and respect it. We should not badmouth it, rather, if not satisfied with the prevailing situation or how it is administered politically, we have an option to move out and transfer to another place that suits us. We should not be grossly ingrate to the town, city, province, or country that provides us with a niche. It should be noted that whatever dissatisfaction develops in us points to the people who administer the locality we live in, NOT THE PLACE, so that there is no sense in destroying its image. It has got nothing to do with the proliferation of drugs, or any crime for that matter, or if developments did not happen as expected…BLAME THE CONCERNED AUTHORITIES. IF YOU SOLD YOUR VOTE DURING THE ELECTION…BLAME YOURSELF!

 

The place where we live permanently or temporarily is what we write down in documents required in any legal transaction as “residence”, whether we like it or not….. or whether we hate or love it…..we got no choice. Without such information, we become “stateless”. In this regard, as we are citizens of a democratic country, we live by the rule of the majority. We have the right to make protests against any act of our leaders that do not suit our taste but should be ready with options to support our stand….and, protests should be done with sanity and sense. It is our right to belong to the opposition, albeit, minority in number. But, again, we must abide by the rule of the majority….because, IT IS ASSUMED that in a democratic country, the majority rules…if it does not happen, we are bound to suffer.

 

The best thing that we can do if we persist on living in a certain place despite dissatisfaction is to cooperate as best as we could. For our consolation, we should look at the brighter side of our locality and not meddle in politics, as much as possible, for it may just aggravate our bad feelings. We should open our eyes and look around us to know where we could pour in our support. And, we could best do it if we are non-political so that regardless of who wins in an election, we can still wholeheartedly extend our hand without any trace of pretension.

 

Finally, the focus of our loyalty should be the “place” not the “people” who administer it.

Ang Pilipinas Bilang Isang Bansang Demokratiko

Ang Pilipinas Bilang Isang Bansang Demokratiko

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Sa isang demokratikong bansa ay may mga grupong nagtatagisan ng lakas upang ang mananaig o mananalo ay siyang magkokontrol sa pagpapatakbo nito. Mapalad ang mga bansang “matured” ang mga pulitiko kaya ang mga talunan ay tinatanggap ang pangyayari kahit hindi bukal sa kanilang kalooban at bumabati pa sa mga nanalo….ang halimbawa dito ay ang Amerika. Pero  iba sa Pilipinas.

 

Minadali ang pagtanim ng demokrasya sa Pilipinas na kinopya sa Amerika. Dahil diyan, matatawag na pilit sa pagkahinog ang kasarinlan ng Pilipinas. At, dahil pa rin diyan, sa Pilipinas, walang kandidatong natalo, sa halip ay dinaya daw ng nanalo. Nagtatagisan ng galing ang mga uupong pinuno at gusto nilang maalala sila pagbaba nila kaya ang mga proyekto ng pinalitang administrasyon kahit anong galing ay winawasak upang palitan ng bagong upong pinuno at may tatak pa ng initial ng pangalan niya.

 

Sa Pilipinas, sa halip na magtulungan ang mga nanalo (majority) at mga kaalyado ng mga natalo (minority), sila ay nagsisilipan ng mga pagkakamali kaya sa halip na sumulong ang bansa, ito ay napipigilan sa pag-usad. Kahit anong ganda ng layunin ng proyekto ng nakaupong pinuno, ito ay pilit na kinukulapulan ng putik ng kontra-partido upang palabasing mali siya. May mga nagbabayad pa ng ilang tauhan ng media upang tumulong sa pagpapakalat ng mga negatibong ulat tungkol sa nakaupong pinuno.

 

Tama lang na may mga taong dapat “magbantay” sa nakaupong pinuno, pero ang hindi maganda ay ang kawalan na ng katuturan sa mga ginagawa ng kontra-partidong pagsabotahe kaya nadadamay ang taong bayan at bansa sa kabuuhan nito. Ang isang paraan ay ang pagpipilit sa nakaupong pinuno na ilahad ang lahat ng kanyang mga “strategies” kahit magreresulta ito sa pagkawasak ng seguridad ng bansa. Ito ay pagpapakita ng kawalan ng tiwala sa namumuno dahil ayaw nilang bigyan ng pagkakataong magpakita ito ng kanyang kakayahan. At, kapag nagtagumpay ang mga naninira sa kanya pero nakadamay naman sa kapakanan ng buong bansa, siyempre, masisisi ang nakaupong pinuno dahil siya ay nabigo, yon nga lang ay sa maduming paraan.

 

Sa ganang ito, kung ilalahad ni Duterte ang lahat ng strategy niya sa pagpuksa ng salot na dulot ng droga sa bansa, paano pa siyang magtatagumpay dahil malalaman na ng mga kalaban ang mga gagawin niya? Kung mga “ugat” ng droga ang pag-uusapan, halos lahat sila ay nasa kulungan na subalit dahil hindi pa tuluyang nalinis ang mga ahensiyang dapat tumulong sa kanya, maingat ang mga hakbang niya. May mga pahaging o insinuation siya na alam niyang nasa paligid lang niya ang “ninja cops”, pero ang mga ito ang nakakaalam kung sino ang pinabebenta nila ng droga sa kalye na pansamantalang natigil. At, ang ginagawa naman ng mga pulis na ito ay pinapatay ang mga dati nilang drug pushers upang hindi sila maituro. Alam na yan ng media pero nag-iingat sila sa pag-ulat. Kung minsan nga lang ay nadudulas ang ilang broadcasters dahil lumalabas sa kanilang editorial commentaries.

 

Kung tatanggalin ni Duterte sa serbisyo ang mga “ninja cops”, sigurado kayang hindi pa rin sila makakapagpabenta ng droga sa pamamagitan ng mga bagong drug pushers dahil pinatay na nila ang mga dati… kung totoo nga ang kumakalat na bulungan? Samantala, ang drogang nakupit sa mga nakumpiska sa pamamagitan ng mga legitimate raid ay siguradong alam din ni Duterte na nakatabi o nakabaon lang at hindi mapapanis kaya pwedeng ibenta pagkalipas ng 6 na taong wala na siya kaya palagi niyang sinasabi na “in my time, gusto kong mawala ang droga”.  Ang mga tiwaling pulis din na ito ang nakakaalam kung sino ang mga “small time” drug lords  na nasa labas ng kulungan. Kaya bakit niya ididispatsa ang mga paggagalingan ng mga impormasyong kailangang-kailangan upang kahit papaano ay mabawasan man lang ang mga sangkot sa droga?

 

Ano man ang plano ni Duterte sa mga tiwaling pulis at iba pang sangkot sa krimeng ito, siya lang ang nakakaalam. Siguradong nag-iingat lang siya dahil ang “demokrasya” na umiiral sa Pilipinas ay mistulang nagahasa…luray-luray…lupaypay… kaya hindi maaasahang makakapagbigay ng proteksiyon lalo na sa mga taong may mabuting layunin.

 

 

No Virtuous Leader of a Nation can Stand Against a Corrupted Democracy

No Virtuous Leader of a Nation Can Stand

Against a Corrupted Democracy

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Democracy was conceived with a noble purpose of providing a comfortable life for its adherents, and was given substance by freedom, free will, liberty, equality, and many other principles that stand for anything “free”. It is unfortunate, however, that the looseness brought forth by freedom has caused its decadence today. The systems of all democratic nations are practically loop-holed with omissions and defects giving corrupt government officials the chance to commit frauds at will. Democracy has been so abused lately, that its image has been deformed beyond recognition.

 

America which is considered by other nations as the cradle of world democracy is showing signs of decadence as abusive acts have practically become part of its citizens’ daily life. Guns can be easily purchased and even youngsters can carry them around. Muggings are prevalent making stringent laws seem useless. Parents are humbled by their children who talk back at them every time their attention is called for committed faults, and the former cannot do anything, as they will be reported to the police. These undisciplined children later grow up to become young single moms, muggers, gun-toting students, rapists, etc. It is true that similar crimes are committed in any democratic nation, but the degree of incidence in America is beyond expectation.

 

Nations that are internationally-acknowledged as strictly disciplined like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are not free from the abuse committed by their supposedly, equally well-disciplined constituents, at the first sign of opportunity. Corruption in their government is also a ubiquitous happening just like in other countries of their level. Along this line, the onslaught of corruption is such that not even a spiritual nation like Vatican is free from it. No less than the new pope himself, Francis, has called the attention of the erring clerics to mend their ways. In other words, no amount of discipline and spirituality can match the evil of corruption that has become deeply-rooted in the midst of humanity.

 

It must be noted, however, that the uncontrollability of corruption even by a virtuous leader does not free him from the liability for any commission by his officials. On the contrary, as a leader, he is expected to exhaust all means and exert an extra effort in preventing the fraudulent acts, or make necessary corrective moves, and not just look the other way every time they are committed. Tolerance on his part makes him liable or a party to the act.  Not even his assertion of purported ignorance makes him innocent. Somehow, the preventive or corrective effort of the virtuous leader, though how futile they may seem, can at least, minimize the incidence or effect of corruption…a consolation that can appease the victims.

 

As for the seemingly “unblemished” constituents of the corrupted democratic nations, perhaps, they can exert an extra effort in persisting to be consistent in acting as expected of them… law-abiding citizens, whose collective effort can somehow resuscitate the ailing Democracy.

A Closer Look at the Filipino “Nationalistic” Groups

A Closer Look at the Filipino “Nationalistic” Groups

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Even during the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, there were already problems with China as regards the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, separatist movements and kidnapping in Mindanao, as well as, with Malaysia as regards Sabah, and most especially, corruption in the government. The same problems were inherited by subsequent administrations. But the “nationalistic” groups were more concerned in shouting invectives against America in front of the US Embassy and in burning effigies of American and Filipino presidents. They did not lift a finger in helping the government in its effort to recover Sabah, and not a single rally was held in front of the Chinese Embassy to express their revulsion over the issue on West Philippine Sea. Not even a question was raised as regards the effectiveness of the military against the separatist movement and kidnappings in Mindanao because of its inadequate facilities due to misused funds intended for its modernization. These groups cannot even lay claim on the success in deposing Marcos, because the religious groups and ordinary citizens were the ones responsible for such success.

 

Despite the open reclamations of China in the West Philippine Sea, these groups were silent, although, belatedly, they somehow held a lightning rally or two, after such, nothing was heard from them again. Despite the ongoing activities of the Abu Sayyaf and separatist groups in Mindanao, they remained silent. The overly grisly Maguindanao and Mamasapano massacres did not entice them a bit to make a move to show their support to the victims. Despite the moving of justice system at a snail’s pace and unabated proliferation of foreign “investors” who are exploiting the natural resources around the country, nothing is heard from them, too.  And despite the blatant control of domestic medium-scale trading in the country by these foreign “investors”, still nothing is heard from these groups.

 

After the announcement of the Supreme Court’ decision favoring the legality of the US military presence in the country, these groups suddenly came to life. They maintain their claim that such decision shall lead to the construction of the permanent US bases in the country when in fact, nothing of that sort is mentioned in the agreement.

 

They claim that the continued presence of the American soldiers in the country will lead to the revival of sex- related industry which is not true. Even without the presence of US bases, there is uncontrolled proliferation of the sex trade via the internet, bars and massage parlors, even in the decent districts of Metro Manila.  But still, if they want, they can knock at the doors of Congress and Senate for laws that shall control this kind of industry, and which should be appropriate for the time. On the other hand, they are supposed to know that even the local government can control such industry. And, just what have they done on the issue of poverty that contributed to the fast growth of such industry in the country? They should caution the sex workers if they are really bent on helping their countrymen involved in sex trade which needs to be treated as a separate issue, instead of using this alibi in pursuing their “nationalistic” objective. They seem to be blind to the fact that various sex deals are flourishing even without the issue on the US military presence in the Philippines due to weak national laws and LGU regulations that reek with corrupt motives.

 

What dedication to advocacy are they talking about when some of them are even holding passports stamped with US visa?  If these groups are really serious in their advocacy, why don’t they hold rallies against the ongoing corruption in the country and the vote-buying, a political tradition that got deeply-entrenched in the Filipino culture? Why don’t they consistently hold rallies for the removal of department secretaries who are being questioned on the issues of smuggling, ghost NGOs, drug trafficking, illegal recruitment, and deplorable state of mass transit facilities such as LRT and MRT, etc. Why don’t they consistently hold rallies for the removal of the president, if they find him to be ineffective just like what was done during the time of Marcos? Why don’t they hold rallies against the unfulfilled promise of the government to modernize the military facilities after prime public properties were sold to foreign investors? Why don’t they picket outside the detention facilities where the Ampatuans are, to show their disgust over the hideous crime that they purportedly committed? These are what the Filipinos want to see and expect from them, as they claim to be “nationalistic” and pro-Filipino.

 

Obviously, the Philippines has been under a long-tested democracy which unfortunately proved ineffective due to its loop-holed system that led to the propagation of various forms of corruption. And, this is what the left-wing groups want to be changed to a more “nationalistic” system. But what do they mean by “nationalistic”?…a communism-inspired system?

 

By the way, I just want to make myself clear that not all nationalistic Filipinos have a communistic mentality.

 

 

No Virtuous Leader of a Nation can Stand Against a Corrupted Democracy

No Virtuous Leader of a Nation Can Stand

Against a Corrupted Democracy

By Apolinario Villalobos

Democracy was conceived with a noble purpose of providing a comfortable life for its adherents, and was given substance by freedom, free will, liberty, equality, and many other principles that stand for anything “free”. It is unfortunate, however, that the looseness brought by freedom has caused its decadence today. The systems of all democratic nations are practically loop-holed with omissions and defects giving corrupt government officials the chance to commit frauds at will. Democracy has been so abused lately, that its image has been deformed beyond recognition.

America which is considered by other nations as the cradle of world democracy is showing signs of decadence as abusive acts have practically become part of its citizens’ daily life. Guns can be easily purchased and even youngsters can carry them around. Muggings are prevalent making stringent laws seem useless. Parents are humbled by their children who talk back at them every time their attention is called for committed faults, and the former cannot do anything, as they will be reported to the police. These undisciplined children later grow up to become young single moms, muggers, gun-toting students, rapists, etc. It is true that similar crimes are committed in any democratic nation, but the degree of incidence in America is beyond expectation.

Nations that are internationally-acknowledged as strictly disciplined like Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are not free from the abuse committed by their supposedly, equally well-disciplined constituents, at the first sign of opportunity. Corruption in their government is also a ubiquitous happening just like in other countries of their level. Along this line, the onslaught of corruption is such that not even a spiritual nation like Vatican is free from it. No less than the new pope himself, Francis, has called the attention of the erring clerics to mend their ways. In other words, no amount of discipline and spirituality can match the evil of corruption that has become deeply-rooted in humanity.

It must be noted, however, that the uncontrollability of corruption even by a virtuous leader does not free him from the liability for any commission by his officials. On the contrary, as a leader, he is expected to exhaust all means and exert an extra effort in preventing the fraudulent acts, or make necessary corrective moves, and not just look the other way every time they are committed. Tolerance on his part makes him liable or a party to the act.  Not even his assertion of purported ignorance makes him innocent. Somehow, the preventive or corrective effort of the virtuous leader, though how futile they may seem, can at least, minimize the incidence or effect of corruption…a consolation that can appease the victims.

As for the seemingly “unblemished” constituents of the corrupted democratic nations, perhaps, they can exert an extra effort in persisting to be consistent in acting as expected of them… law-abiding citizens, an act that can somehow resuscitate Democracy as it grasps for precious breath.

Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, Almost Got Separated from the Jurisdiction of the Philippine Government…during the American Regime

Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan, Almost Got Separated

From the Jurisdiction of the Philippine Government

…during the American Regime

Apolinario Villalobos

In November 1923, the American Chamber of Commerce of Mindanao and Sulu made a proposal to make the Muslim area as an unorganized domain directly under the rule of the Americans. A distinct system of government suited for the area was suggested. However, the proposal was not given much attention, until the Bacon Bill revived the issue.

The sponsors of the Bacon Bill expressed that they just wanted to protect the “defenseless and unarmed, though proud and self-respecting Moros”. As expected, the Filipino leaders opposed the Bill, as they saw the hidden motive behind it which was the exploitation of the areas for rubber production in favor of the American interest. During the time, about more than three million hectares of land in Mindanao were suitable for the cultivation of rubber tree. The Filipinos vehemently insisted that, would there be foreign investors interested in seizing the opportunity of cultivating rubber in Mindanao, it should be fairly done under the administration of the Philippine Government.

As a last desperate argument, proponents of the proposal also insisted that the Moros in Mindanao were never desirous of independence, but prefer to remain under the sovereignty and protection of the Americans. They cited an incident in the past, whereby, Moro leaders supposedly, petitioned the Governor General and the US Congress about such desire. Unfortunately, this allegation was not factually established, as some parties insisted that Filipino Muslims did not really want to separate from their Christian brothers and sisters, but to have independence with them.

The importune Bacon Bill, fortunately, did not illicit support from then, President Collidge and the US Congress. Lately, there’s another move to separate the Moroland from the archipelago via the “original” Bangsamoro Basic Law but was fortunately reviewed for revision before it got implemented. The separation proposal was championed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, under Iqbal, and ably supported by Ferrer and Deles, two government representatives in the negotiation panel for peace in Mindanao. The proposal is now assuming another name, “Basic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region” which is more appropriate to be consistent with the rest of the other autonomous regions that are already in place. History repeats itself, indeed….