Friday, June 30, 2006

US Supreme Court Rules On Gitmo: the Pendulum Swings?

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (PDF) The administration of President George W. Bush has just suffered a major setback at the US Supreme Court, which ruled today in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the detention of terrorist combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. SCOTUS Blog has the news:
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Congress did not take away the Court's authority to rule on the military commissions' validity, and then went ahead to rule that President Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention. In addition, the Court concluded that the commissions were not authorized when Congress enacted the post-9/1l resolution authorizing a response to the terrorist attacks, and were not authorized by last year's Detainee Treatment Act. The vote against the commissions and on the Court's jurisdiction was 5-3, with the Chief Justice not taking part.

The Court expressly declared that it was not questioning the government's power to hold Salim Ahmed Hamdan "for the duration of active hostilities" to prevent harm to innocent civilians. But, it said, "in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction."

Four Justices concluded that Salim Ahmed Hamdan could not be charged with conspiracy before a military commission, but that did not have majority support, so its binding effect is uncertain.

Pajamas Media has the roundup in the Blogosphere, where the gnashing of teeth on one side and the triumphalism on the other is just beginning. Here are two of each from a genre of comments that should grow to a tidal wave...

Confederate Yankee: “Quite frankly, if SCOTUSBlog is correct in that SCOTUS is saying the Geneva Conventions apply to non-state terrorist entities, then the court is out of it’s ever-lovin’ mind. What is then to keep them from applying the Conventions to other non-state groups? Can drug cartels now claim to be protected under Geneva? How about serial killers? The message to the soldier in the field seems clear: Take no prisoners, and collect whatever intel you can gather off the bodies.”

Balloon Juice: “The Bush administration actually isn’t that hard to figure out. They love secrecy because they know that they are breaking the law. Part of that, probably a small part, comes from actual malicious intent but the much larger fraction probably just comes from the fact that they are not good enough at their job to do things right the first time.”

Captain’s Quarters: “The opinion should have some interesting tap-dancing. In any case, the Supreme Court has effectively negated the ability for us to detain terrorists. Instead, we will likely see more of them die, since the notion of having the servicemen who captured these prisoners forced to appear to testify to their “arrest” is not only ridiculous but would require us to retire combat units as a whole whenever their prisoners appear for trial. Congress needs to correct this issue immedately.”

Shakespeare’s Sister: “The Big Gavel falls, and the pendulum of politics begins its swing away from the far reaches of absurdity where it has hovered for too many years. May it never revisit those frightening places.”

The Washington Post called it a "stunning rebuke" for Bush, while the New York Times front page article was curiously restrained.

(Via Orin Kerr) Here is an interesting New Yorker article by Jane Mayer on The legal mind behind the White House’s war on terror.

I'll be following developments and reading analysis at Orin Kerr and Volokh -- here the point has been made that the Decision says the President should have gotten explicit Congress approval for the tribunals.

And so, Americans begin once more a serious conversation with themselves about the fundamentals, of democracy and war and peace. Because of certain changes in human connectivity, the rest of the world is in on the discussion too, as it affects everyone. The war on terror is a hot war mainly being fought on a day to day basis in faraway places like Iraq and Afghanistan, even as word and deed of it has engulfed the daily lives of everyone on the planet. But the frontlines are actually in our hearts and minds. There shall we win or lose this war.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Has GMA Lost the Catholic Church? - Part 2

MERGING from her audience with Pope Benedict XVI, did Gloria feel better or worse about things? We cannot know for sure of course. We only have the various official statements to read in between the lines of. But the extent to which she was just exploiting the Pope is seen in how shamelessly President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo put words in the mouth of the Roman Pontiff -- words to the effect that the Pope approves of how she is running the Philippines.

But here is how the Vatican's Zenit News organization described GMA's audience with Benedict, by reporting purely on what she said to the Pope--
Code: ZE06062608
Date: 2006-06-26
Arroyo Presents Death Penalty Abolition to Pope

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2006 ( The president of the Philippines presented Benedict XVI with a new law that abolishes the death penalty in her country.

The Holy Father received Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in audience today, the Holy See press office confirmed in a statement.

"In the course of the cordial meeting the president explained to the Holy Father the new law banning the death penalty, which was signed last Saturday, feast of St. John the Baptist," the note states.

Arroyo also "showed the Pope a plan for reforming the constitution, which aims at a more harmonious development of the country, reserving greater attention to the poorer sectors of the population," the press office confirmed.

The communiqué continued: "During the meeting, reference was also made to the favorable prospects for dialogue with the Muslim inhabitants of the country and to the hope for national pacification."

"Finally the president noted how Christian values, with which the majority of Filipinos identify, also find expression and support in the legislation of the state."
I do not believe that a "majority of Filipinos" actually support the abolition of the death penalty. (Neither did GMA until recently.) But she knows that the Catholic Bishops wanted this abolition. It was to curry their favor that she did it. Naturally, she couldn't tell Benedict that for Zenit to announce it to the world. She says instead that a majority of Filipinos identify with the "Christian values" that the "legislation of the state" supports and gives expression to.

If the Vatican truthfully reported her presentation of accomplishments to the Pope, then Mrs. Arroyo has just admited to a culpable violation of the Constitution, namely, the Separation of Church and State,
1987 Constitution Bill of Rights Art III Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.
For the Congress cannot just pass a law, such as the abolition of the death penalty because of specifically "Christian values" supposedly subscribed to by a majority of its citizens. Otherwise, what would that imply about the State's judgment of Muslims, Buddhist's or other non-Christians and their values? If the State claims there is some "majority" that subscribe to certain religious values, there must be a minority that doesn't, by necessary implication. But unless ALL citizens can rightfully identify with some "value" that the State seeks to promote or establish, or base the "legislation of the state" upon, then that policy violates the fundamental Constitutional tenet quoted above, that no religious test be imposed for the exercise of civil and political rights.

In a land full of lawyers and blawgers, it never ceases to amaze me that these fundamental principles religious freedom and constitutonal democracy, do not enjoy a broader public understanding and appreciation, considering that we were once ruled by a Spanish frailocracy that WAS the State.

Most Filipinos don't understand the Principle of Separation of Church and State. I can't blame them. (I didn't either. For the longest time!) Most people actually think, as I once did, that it means that it is unconstitutional for priests and bishops to engage in politics or to "meddle in politics." Yet, what could be clearer and unequivocal than: " religious test shall be imposed for the exercise of civil and political rights?"

What I think most people do not get is that the prohibitions of the principle of Separation of Church and State are addressed ENTIRELY to the State as the basic tenet of constitutional neutrality when it comes to Religion: the State may neither promote nor prohibit religious activity. It contains no prohibitions or limitations on what church men like priests and bishops may do in the exercise of civil and political rights that are different for any other citizen, or group of citizens. My reading of the Principle of Separation of Church and State is that priests and bishops can even run for public office -- the ultimate in partisan political activity. If they win public office of course, they "become" part of the State and may not then violate Separation! And of course, God bless their souls, they can file impeachment complaints against immoral Presidents.

NOGRALES' HEAD WOUND So House Majority leader Prospero Nograles gets today's Dunce Cap for making several ignorant statements (via PDI:)
HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles lashed out at Bishop Deogracias Yñiguez for participating in a "partisan political activity' such as the move to impeach Arroyo. Earlier on Wednesday, Yñiguez filed the third impeachment complaint for this week at the House of Representatives, claiming that this was his “personal stand.”

"I'm just making a personal comment that this is the first time that I've seen a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church engaging in a political process by being a complainant in an impeachment case, which is a purely political process and probably a partisan political activity,"

Nograles said there must be a stricter interpretation of the separation of the church and state to once and for all clarify the issue. "Maybe it's alright to express one’s view as a Filipino citizen but when you start involving yourself in a purely political process, it becomes a partisan political activity," he said.

Priests and bishops, like doctors lawyers, farmers, business men and other ordinary citizens are allowed to engage in as much partisan political activity as they want. It is Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, like Hilario Davide, and Chiefs of Staff of the AFP like General Angelo Reyes, that are absolutely barred by Code of Judicial Conduct and the Constitution, respectively from engaging in partisan political activity. Nograles' claim that this is the first time he has seen "partisan political activity" by the Catholic Church can only mean he was born blind.

Mr. Majority Leader, get real, please read the Constitution, and get something for that gaping head wound, would you?

DEPED SUSPENDS SEX EDUCATION Under heavy pressure from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the Dept of Education has reportedly decided to suspend teaching a Sex Education module to high school students. In this particular case, the CBCP is perfectly within its rights to lobby their point of view with Deped. But if Deped cancels Sex Education for high school students based on, again "Christian values" that, in my opinion, would be unconstitutional. Here the potential conflict with the religious position would be with scientific truth as contained in biology and common sense. We don't need the Constitution to tell us that.

UPDATES: MLQ3 tackles this same topic from the point of view of the internal Church policies and traditions with respect to Separation. In particular he discusses Benedict's encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. Ricky Carandang blogs on Chacha.

DONG PUNO LIVE last night had Neri Colminares, Leah Navarro, Prospero Nograles and Atty. Alberto Agra of the GMA defense team. The latter is a blockhead that some people are gonna love to hate. He's pushing the "Night of the Living Dead" impeachment theory. There is also a new argument (probably fed to the Palace by Manhattan-and-cocktail-party-bound Hilario Davide) that multiple impeachment proceedings are unconstitutional. Colminares' riposte was sweet and sums up to this: Surely the Constitution does not say the adjudication of one crime by an impeachable official shields her from prosecution on a second, third or further subsequent offense offense--all within that silly one year ban.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Strange ABSCBN Report On 'New' Terror Group

Citing police sources during the last 24 hours, ABSCBN News has been airing a Report that a "new group" called the Tanzim Qaidat al Jihad has written a letter to the Jemaah Islamiyah and or the Abu Sayyaf-Rajah Sulaiman Movement, regarding assassination plans for top Philippine government officials, including President Arroyo her Cabinet.
The PNP added that apart from the assassination plan, the JI-backed faction threatened to bomb the cities of Kidapawan, General Santos, Zamboanga, Davao and Baguio...Relatedly, ABS-CBN News was able to get hold of photographs that showed terrorist training cells in Mindanao, particularly in Maguindanao, North Cotabato; Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte; Ipil, Zamboanga-Sibugay; Languyan Tawi-Tawi; South Ubian Sulu; and General Santos.Documents gathered also listed January 18 as the date of graduation of the JI-formed faction from a terrorist training course. The group's first mission, documents said, was to launch bomb attacks, assassinations and kidnappings.
But the US State Department identifies this particular name Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn QJBR)

Other Names
Al-Zarqawi Network
Al-Qa’ida in Iraq
Al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organization in the Land of The Two Rivers
Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad

The Jordanian Palestinian Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi (Ahmad Fadhil Nazzal al-Khalaylah, a.k.a. Abu Ahmad, Abu Azraq) established cells in Iraq soon after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), formalizing his group in April 2004 to bring together jihadists and other insurgents in Iraq fighting against US and Coalition forces. Zarqawi initially called his group "Unity and Jihad" (Jama‘at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jihad, or JTJ). Zarqawi and his group helped finance, recruit, transport, and train Sunni Islamic extremists for the Iraqi resistance. The group adopted its current name after its October 2004 merger with Usama Bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida. The immediate goal of QJBR is to expel the Coalition -- through a campaign of bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and intimidation -- and establish an Islamic state in Iraq. QJBR’s longer-term goal is to proliferate jihad from Iraq into "Greater Syria," that is, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.

Damn! Tanzim Qaidat is Zarqawi's terrorist group in Iraq!

Can this possibly be right?? I sure hope not!

If it IS true, maybe it is the result of a recent witchhunt by anti-war anti-Coalition media who have been loudly name-calling and deriding as "mercenaries" any Filipino OFW who is willing to work for the US or Iraqi government agencies helping to stabilize and rebuild Iraq. At the rate we are defaming ourselves, Democratic Iraq will probably overtake us in a year or two. By the way, I do hope, for all our sakes, that those newspaper ideologues who claimed Zarqawi killed only a few dozen Iraqis in his murderous career (instead of hundreds or thousands), will NOT actually make the acquaintance of Tanzim Qa'idat al Jihad here, any time soon.

Guest Commentary: Our Kundiman Ambassador

RODEL RODIS, President of the San Francisco City School Board, who is also an old friend and an outstanding Filipino American lawyer, writer and community leader, sent me his Philippine news column Telltale Signs, his salute to Ambassador Alberto Del Rosario...
Our Kundiman Ambassador
by Atty. Rodel E. Rodis

It may be difficult to imagine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Donald Trump but her “You’re recalled” has rapidly become the Filipino equivalent of “You’re fired” in “The Apprentice”.

President Arroyo’s “recall” of Philippine Ambassador to the US Albert Del Rosario may yet rank as one of the worst political blunders of her presidency, of “Hello Garci” tape proportions. Ironically, the only one who could have advised her of the sheer stupidity of the decision and the grotesque incompetence of its execution was Ambassador Del Rosario, who could not do so because he was the subject of the “recall.”

Ambassador Del Rosario has been the most decent and most effective Philippine Ambassador to the US that any Philippine president could have ever hoped for and President Arroyo should have been grateful that in the dark days of her presidency, she had a shining light in Washington DC who could focus the Filipino community’s attention away from petty politics to working to improve the country’s economy and its image in the US.

But now that shining light has been “recalled” in a manner that has completely shocked and dismayed the Filipino community in the US.

In an open letter to President Arroyo that was circulated on the Internet, hundreds of Filipino community leaders all over the US expressed their deep sadness and outrage at the news of Ambassador Del Rosario’s “untimely removal.”

“What is utterly dismaying”, the letter states, “is the unceremonious manner in which his exemplary service has been abruptly terminated. Common decency and respect require that a head of state treat her official representative with high professional standards.”

“We are vehemently aghast that despite his loyalty, professionalism and dedication,” the letter continued, “you chose to treat him so shabbily. Such is simply beneath the dignity of your office, Madam President.”

Ambassador Del Rosario responded to the Open Letter by stating that there is “no way for me to thank you for your zeal in taking a position on my behalf. At the same time, I am most saddened that my situation has caused your expression of disappointment with our government. If you will, may I please urge us to move on…Let us look on how we can build upon our constructive partnership and our invaluable friendship to strengthen the institutions and to benefit the people of the Philippines.”

When I think of Ambassador Del Rosario, I will always remember Calpers. It was on March 15, 2004 when Ambassador Del Rosario mobilized our San Francisco Bay Area Filipino community to attend a Sacramento meeting of the Board of the California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) which was considering the recommendation of Wilshire Associates to withdraw Calpers investments in the Philippines.

When allowed to address the Board, the Ambassador expressed frustration that Wilshire Associates was unwilling to meet with him to discuss its proposal. "It's easier to make an appointment with the Queen of England than with Wilshire Associates," he complained.

He then methodically explained the errors in Wilshire’s grading of the Philippines which failed to include other economic factors which would push the Philippines’ grade above the threshold 2.0, enough for Calpers to retain its investments in the Philippines. The Board was so impressed with the Ambassador’s power point presentation that it unanimously voted to table the vote, which, according to insiders, had been expected to be 9 – 4 in favor of divestment.

At the next Board meeting the following month, the properly chastised Wilshire’s group, which had since met with the Ambassador, did an about face and recommended retaining its investments in the Philippines, which the Calpers Board unanimously accepted. If Calpers had withdrawn its investments from the Philippines, it would have caused a chain reaction of similar divestments that would have seriously damaged the Philippine economy.

The tragedy of this recall is that it was so unnecessary. Ambassador Del Rosario wrote a letter of resignation to President Arroyo two years ago expressing his desire to return to the private sector. His resignation was rejected then, however, because President Arroyo could not find anyone of his caliber to replace him.

President Arroyo should have personally called Ambassador Del Rosario to inform him that she was now “reluctantly” accepting his resignation, with her personal gratitude and the gratitude of the Philippine nation for his selfless dedication to duty.

Instead, President Arroyo chose a process that General Motors employs when a defect is found in its cars. And instead of personally calling the Ambassador, she delegated the task to Secretary of Foreign Affairs Bert Romulo who incredulously leaked the news first to Philippine Star publisher-columnist Max Soliven, a long-time critic of Del Rosario.

This tragedy has all the hallmarks of a kundiman, the Filipino folk music that speaks of unrequited love. It is a contraction of the Tagalog words "kung hindi man" which means "if it is not to be." It speaks of a love that is spurned but remains true to heart. It is, what one wrote, “the voice of yearning love in song, plaintive in its lyrical heartbreak and yet transcendent through melodic expressiveness.”

A kundiman like "Kapantay ay Langit" by the late George Canseco, contains these typical expressions of undying love "Mahal kita, kapantay ay langit sinta, at lagi kong dasal sa Maykapal, ang lumigaya ka, kahit ngayon, mayroon ka nang ibang mahal, hinding-hindi pa run ako magdaramdam, ngunit sinta, sakaling paluhain ka, magbalik ka lamang, naghihintay, puso ko't kaluluwa."

("I love you, a love equal to heaven, dearest, and it is my fervent prayer to God, that you be happy. Even though you now love another, I won't be bitter. But if he makes you cry, come back to me, my heart and soul await you.")

Ambassador Del Rosario, despite having been spurned by the president, betrays no bitterness towards her and still expresses his ardent support for the government’s efforts to improve the country, which he loves above all else.

We salute you, Ambassador Del Rosario, for your unwavering love of country and for your inspiring professional dedication. We offer you our deepest kundiman thanks.

On Wednesday, June 28, at 6 PM, the Filipino community of the San Francisco Bay Area will bid its loving farewell to Ambassador Del Rosario at the Green Room of the War Memorial Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

Please be there to personally express your thanks to Ambassador Del Rosario.
Rodel is also published locally by INQ7/Global Nation.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Has Gloria Lost The Catholic Church?

he characterization of One Voice as an "Act of Contrition" by certain people, may be a tad schadenfreudian, or even deluded, but as I look over the list of signatories again, I see why the notion resonated with some of Philippine Commentary's regulars. The One Voice movement includes that "conservative wing" of Civil Society that has actually propped up Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by not acting more resolutely against the President and her policies -- until now. This includes the hierarchy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), led by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo (a Blogging Bishop) and counterparts of the De La Salle Brothers from the Ateneo, San Beda, Miriam, St. Scholastica's, who have not heretofore taken such an explicit stance of opposition to the president. (DLSU's Christian Brothers -- Fratres Scholarum Christianorum -- crossed over to the "Left-wing" of GMA's former supporters quite early in the Hello Garci scandal, by leading the major private religious schools in calling for the resignation of the President at the same time as the Hyatt Ten.)

Now they are all against her on at least one substantive and perhaps decisive issue: NO to CHACHA. I think it's a major shift in the stance of the Catholic Church and may have some bearing on events about to unfold. It's quite a surprising turn of events in some respects, considering how the President just fulfilled a long-standing Church campaign to abolish the Death Penalty, and has even hied herself off to the seat of the Holy Roman Empire bearing it as a gift for Pope Benedict. Perhaps the Bishops saw through the pandering involved in Gloria's somesault from lethal injector to unctuous abolitionist. This impression can only be deepened by the hypocritical alacrity with which she runs to kiss the Papal ring as if she had been earnestly working for it all along. Sure to loudly ring her own bells of self-benediction upon returning from the Vatican and Spain, she may mistake the cold welcome of surly men for envy. But it may be distrust, or even disgust, that they feel for what she has already done -- and remorseful chagrin at what they themselves have failed to do! She has certainly not heeded their advice, nor fulfilled her promises to them. I also find it touching that these Churchmen have apparently rediscovered the importance of democratic elections and respecting the people's true will. It's taken over five years since the Edsa Dos coup d'etat in which the Catholic Church was more than complicit, but it is a realization that comes better late than never. Gloria, in their estimation, has perhaps, finally exceeded Joseph Estrada in her potential for doing evil.

FR. JOAQUIN BERNAS succinctly summarizes what is really at stake with the People's Initiative of Sigaw ng Bayan, after visiting their website and discovering there a copy of the Petition to be filed with Comelec for the Supreme Court to step in ...
But if the Court should let tragedy fall upon us, surely we will debate whether we should strip the people of the right to vote for a President, whether to do away with elections in 2007, whether to let Jose de Venecia lead the formulation of the revision, whether to fuse the Senate and House into one powerful body with an indefinite life, whether to remove the power of the Supreme Court to check grave abuse of discretion on the part of government officials, whether to expand the commander-in-chief powers of the President to a level rivaling Marcos, and whether to give to the present holders of power longer, more enjoyable and more rewarding tenure.These are questions that are all preeminently worthy of debate. But, as I said, let Sigaw ng Bayan make the preparatory salvo by bringing its shout to the ears of the Comelec. What is holding Sigaw back?
Fr. Bernas notes that Sigaw ng Bayan probably won't be able to meet the Constitutional requirement that 3% of every legislative district sign the petition, reporting on at least two districts in "Lobregat country" down south that did not have any petitioners. He doesn't think they can get past Santiago vs. Comelec (1997).

The argument that the One Voice movement is an elitist movement that opposes Charter Change just coz, is advanced here by Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno, writing for the Standard, right underneath Bong Austero on this same topic, who can't seem decide what to think about this one.

DEATH PENALTY ABOLISHED: As I feared, that one billion peso all out war on the communist insurgency, is really a billion pesos worth of OPTICS-- nothing but a cynical moro-moro to neutralize the fall-out from the administration's peremptory abolition of the death penalty. Hounded by victims and anticrime crusaders, and not wanting to look soft on heinous criminality, President Arroyo has adopted the pretense of being a dictatorial warmonger ready to unleash a bloodbath on the Left. Of course, certain Media outlets and left-wing supporters of the CPP-NPA glady obliged by over-dramatizing and aggrandizing the President's tough posturing against the armed insurgency. Over the weekend, the Left's media and propaganda bureaus were working overtime on the fairy tale that there is an assassination plot against Jose Ma. Sison, who is basking in the sun of the liberal Dutch welfare state right into the sunset of his own sorry and murderous career. By thus portraying her as an anticommunist tyrant, the Left paints itself in holy martyrdom's habitual colors, but unwittingly puts a tough veneer on the President.

ROUND 2 of the Impeachment Battle began today with the filing by 200 citizens of an impeachment complaint, readily endorsed by Minority Leader Chiz Escudero. But it all boils down to this: do they have the required number of 79? MLQ3 tackles the absurdities of Romulo Macalintal in his PDI column today.

CARMEN GUERRERO NAKPIL proves how durable the hold of the Catholic Church truly is on the Filipino consciousness, despite being layered on a distinctly anti-Western nationalism and "Asianism" in politics and culture. Tita Chitang revels in the existence of a map purportedly by "a Chinese Admiral Zheng He" who beat Columbus to the discovery of America by 75 years. Of course, this is hardly significant in the light of quite old knowledge that America was discovered by the people who became the "American Indians" in far more ancient times. (I think they were Igorots who decided to move on from Banaue and finally arrived in Alaska.) But after summarizing some popscience on the Big Bang, she says of the creation vs. evolution debate:
The above paragraph, a condensation of a long science article, and the trouble my readers and I have assimilating it, leads me to see why most of us prefer the Biblical version of how life on earth started. The story of the 6-day Creation by God of life’s elements and everything on this earth, including the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, is somehow more understandable and easier to accept than the convolutions of molecules and amyloids locked in chemical reactions. Thank God for the Bible too.
Yet, just a few paragraphs back she was all praises for Admiral Zheng He who...
was already familiar with all the continents, including Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, Europe and Asia and took for granted that the earth was round as early as 1418.
Lucky Zheng He didn't read the Bible...he might have ended up in the Philippines instead of America!

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Proposal To Address The Political Impasse

ONE VOICE Lead Convenor Christian Monsod (former Chairman of Comelec), was explaining the five basic points of the new movement's Proposal to address the political impasse on ABSCBN News yesterday evening:
1. Discontinuance of the present “people’s initiative”.
2. A social reform program now.
3. Elections in 2007 as scheduled, as an indirect referendum, and electoral reform now.
4. If necessary, a constitutional convention (not a “con-ass”) after the 2007 elections.
5. A collective effort to rebuild the trustworthiness of our democratic institutions.
The essential idea behind One Voice's Proposal is to use the 2007 elections as a means of settling the"crisis of legitimacy" of the President, in what it calls an "indirect referendum" on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

For the Opposition, One Voice lays down the challenge of winning the required number of seats in Congress to impeach the President, a measly 79, or one-third of the House membership, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. If they fail, then the Opposition must accept the people's vote as evidence of their decision to let her finish out her full term until 2010. But if they do win enough seats next year, the Palace must accept an impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate to finally settle the issue. Either way, I agree with One Voice, it strengthens democracy by using a "free, fair and credible election" to break the devastating political impasse brought about by that "crisis of legitimacy" of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

On the Palace, One Voice places the onus of helping to ensure a free and fair election, mainly by appointing "the right" people to the Comelec. In fact, at least four out of the seven commissioners, have to be of "unquestioned integrity." The quid pro quo is the possibility of some peace and quiet for Gloria, that there won't be an annual impeachment crisis until 2010--if her side wins next year's elections.

IMPEACH COMELEC: One can already hear the snickering of course, ("What, Gloria the Patron of Garci, appoint honest men to Comelec?"). But I have an idea and a suggestion. Right now, the Supreme Court is in a toe-to-toe battle with the Ombudsman over that suspicious automation deal of the Comelec in 2004. That issue ought to be used to "reform" the Comelec, to take the initiative of Comelec "reform" away from the Palace. Perhaps the House Opposition should impeach Ben Abalos and the other Comelec Commissioners involved in the 2004 hijinks in addition to GMA. The ensuing process can then be used to promote a "free, fair and credible" 2007 elections.

AUTOMATION: But how to ensure that the 2007 elections will be free, fair and most importantly, credible? Mr. Monsod notes wryly that since Congress did not go for full automation for next year's elections, we are stuck with manual elections for 2007. He notes that PGMA had promised in 2001 that the 2004 elections would be automated, but they were not. (They were Garcificated instead.) Christian Monsod brightened considerably when he said, "We have to do it all over again...guard the ballots...make sure the result is fair...just like in 1986." (Paraphrase). He says that there must be at least FOUR members of the Comelec (out of seven) who are acceptable in the sense of having unquestioned integrity...He is recommending heroism and one more go at the old rotten manual electoral system based on Seven Just Men at Comelec. I am both skeptical and admiring of this "one more go" philosophy. But it's depressing to think we can't figure out a way to AUTOMATE the damn elections. How long does it take to put up an automated banking teller system anyway?

I strongly support One Voice's general position and philosophy and have linked to their website, but I am disappointed that One Voice did not take a stronger position on the matter of automation. Unlike Charter Change, every single instant is the right time to automate, as far as I am concerned. Just think of the electoral system as if it were the banking system. Would we say, oh let's just run the banks manually for another year and raise our vigilance on the Bankers"?

NECESSARY, BUT SUFFICIENT? Perhaps it's a generational thing, and the composition of One Voice has no true appreciation of technology. It is calling for a repeat of 20 years ago at Edsa 1. But that historic moment is passed; this is a different time, a different autocrat, and even heroism may not work. We need to get technologically smart about protecting democracy. Heroism will certainly be necessary next year. But will it be sufficient?

Under its proposal ONE VOICE asks the Palace to give up a lot in exchange for the expectation of some peace and quiet should the Opposition "lose" the impasse breaking elections next year. In bullet #1, it asks the Palace to ditch the chacha choochoo train, which may be fine with the President, but will only anger FVR and JDV, whose alter egos are now complaining that the Comelec isn't moving fast enough at counting the millions upon millions of Sigaw Ng Bayan collected signatures under the People's Initiative campaign. I think GMA will give up chacha in exchange for something along the way.

Here is the list of the One Voice Signatories:
Christian S. Monsod ; Raul T. Concepcion ; Ricardo S. Pascua ; Manuel L. Quezon III; Benjamin T. Tolosa, Jr.;

Most Rev. Ramon C. Arguelles, D.D. (Lipa); Most Rev. Oscar V. Cruz, D.D. (Lingayen); Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo, D.D. (Iloilo); Most Rev. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, D.D. (Cagayan de Oro); Most.Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP. D.D. (Caceres); Most Rev. Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, D.D. (Cotabato); Most Rev. John F. Du, D.D. (Dumaguete); Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iniguez, Jr., D.D. (Caloocan); Most Rev. Florentino G. Lavarias, D.D. (Iba); Fr. Daniel Patrick L. Huang, SJ (Philippine Jesuit Provincial); Fr. Albert F. Alejo, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Carmelo A. Caluag II, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Jose Magadia SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ (Ateneo) ; Fr. Primitivo F. Viray, SJ (Ateneo); Fr. Tarciso Ma. H. Narciso, OSB (San Beda); Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ (Ateneo); Sister Sonia Aldeguer (Univ. of the Philippines);

Carmencita T. Abella; Ernesto M. Aboitiz; Fernando T. Aldaba; Felipe B. Alfonso; Rafael Alunan III; Maria Corazon M. Alcol; Antoinette Palma Angeles; Fely Aquino Arroyo; Rene B. Azurin; Elvie Baladad; Eric Batalla; Alfredo I. Benipayo; Florangel Rosario Braid; Mary Belle S. Beluan; Johnny Cardenas; Meneleo J. Carlos Jr.; Ramon Casiple ; Lydia Balatbat Echauz; Baltazar N. Endriga; Narcisa Escaler; Easter A. Garcia; Ricardo P. Guevara; Milwida Guevara; Luie Tito F. Guia; Ronald Holmes; Grace Gorospe Jamon; Armando D. Jarilla; Vicente T. Jayme; Anna Marie Karaos; Antonio G.M. La Viña Telibert Laoc; Augusto Lagman ; Vincent Lazatin ; Patricia B. Licuanan; Isa Lorenzo; Damaso G. Magbual; Melba Maggay; Victorino M. Manalo; Carlos P. Medina, Jr.; Elizabeth Melchor; Solita C. Monsod; Toby C. Monsod; Vitaliano N. Nañagas II; Conrado S. Navarro; Jose Noel D. Olano; Susan V. Ople; Vicente T. Paterno; Lourdes R. Quisumbing; Remedio I. Ruben; Jessie M. Robredo; Ricardo J. Romulo; Melison Salazar Jr.; Evelyn Singson; Wigberto F. Tanada; Janette C. Toral; Nena Del Rosario;
Noteworthy in the list of signatories is the presence of the Catholic Church hierarchy, both archbishops and heads of major religious orders and schools, like the Jesuits and the Benedictines, Miriam College and others. As of course, is that of Foreign Affairs Secretary Dick Romulo. Noteworthy for their absence are major figures of the Left, whose presence and anti-democratic ideas in the "Citizens Congress for Truth and Acountability" last year was the Kiss of Death by Turnoff for that movement. The big difference between One Voice and CCTA seems to be this: One Voice seeks to strengthen Democracy, while CCTA's kangaroo court only alienated many in the public sphere because it was just too weird even as Philippine Stalinist theatricality goes.

I wish One Voice Godspeed for it seems to be an earnest effort by some Edsa One personalities to break the political impasse by using Democracy, not breaking it-- as many in this group and the larger Edsa Dos "civilian-military-judicial" uprising did in 2001.
Democracy has certainly suffered a One-Two at our hands, in 2001 and 2004. Look at Edsa Dos -- that was basically an unconstitutional nullification of the indubitably fair and credible result of the 1998 election. And 2004 was a wholesale electoral fraud, if the Garci tapes are believed. Maybe "One Voice" is also an Act of Contrition by some very reverend and illustrious persons, a catharsis of self-recognition at what happened during the Erap Regime Change, a reaffirmation of the Edsa One revolution over the Edsa Dos coup.

I would only add: Trust but automate!

MLQ3 posted on this new movement yesterday, which also put out full page newspaper advertisements.

The President reportedly had a tummy ache last night and was in hospital for tests. (Bad brandy?) Her trips to Compostela Valley and Davao today have been cancelled (apparently on word of a large rally by miners in the NPA-infested area.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

octor Jeckyll is a respectable member of society. Mr. Hyde is a violent and implacable nihilist. Even Dr. Jeckyll admits that. As a communist insurgent who has taken up arms against the government, Mr. Hyde doesn't write erudite columns. He is not a member of Congress nor does he appear on television talk shows. Mr. Hyde does not hobnob with the big newspaper poublishers and tv moguls. He prefers to speak out of the barrel of a gun, or a remote-controlled landmine. He works only for total victory by the workers and the peasants, led by their vanguard party. Mr. Hyde does not participate in something so quaint as "parliamentary struggle," No. He has Dr. Jekyll for that, who of course, disavows any complicity with him, yet defends, explains, and makes common cause with him, noting his far and lofty goals and the sad state of the country. Dr. Jekyll will not categorically denounce the violent and illegal methods of Mr. Hyde, claiming that the Class Enemy also resorts to them. Yet Mr. Hyde's activities are undeniable. He makes his intentions clear by deadly acts of rebellion. He blows up cellsites. He terrorizes business and citizeny alike, collecting revolutionary taxes to fuel his habits and to keep up the spectre of a "revolutionary government." He is at war with the government and indubitably seeks to overthrow democracy to establish a Maoist dictatorship. He feeds upon our human tragedies and talks of the national condition as if only he, Mr. Hyde, cares about them and has the right answers for them. How can the Filipino People trust either Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? No one deserves to die an unjust death, as many of the current crop of political killings apparently are. But neither can we blithely accept any blanket accusation of who is responsible for all, most, or some of them. Both the Left and the Right have engaged in murder and assassination in the past. There is no reason to believe either side has turned lily-white. But the Center, whatever is left of it, that must hold in these grim times.

RANDY DAVID (Sunday PDI, The Fight Against the Left) describes the Left and the Right as follows:
Randy David: Though the likes of Gen. Jovito Palparan pretend not to know it, there is a huge difference between being Left and taking up arms against the government. To be Left is to be constantly concerned with the basic issues of justice and human freedom. It is to question the existing social order, to assail its assumptions, and denounce its oppressive outcomes. To be a leftist is to be committed to the long-term goal of structural change. In contrast, to be a rightist is to find nothing fundamentally wrong with the structure of society; it is to justify and defend its rules.
At first this looks like an Angels versus Demons comparison. But it's worse than that. It's casuistry like the friars used to practice. Look: I can be committed to long term structural change in society, while justifying and defending its democractic and peaceful rules of social and political change. But If you pit these two against each other, you end up saying, as Randy does that "the means justify the end!" Of course that may be what the Palace is saying and doing too, but two wrongs don't make a right! Randy David distinguishes between the Left and the Right in a rather self-serving manner: "Leftists are Angels of Structural Change, Rightists are Demons of the Status Quo" Put like that, who wouldn't be a Leftist? But it isn't only the likes of Gen. Palparan who are confused by the alleged "huge difference" between the nominally peaceful and the indubitably violent Left. Most of the Public cannot tell either because ALL Leftists claim to be peaceful, if they ever make claims at all. Yet the NPA extortionists and armed enforcers, always piously defending the People of course, don't just drop out of the factories or arise from the unknown peasant masses -- no, the officers and leaders are mostly university students or college professors or defrocked priests and nuns. And of course, no one admits to being a Communist insurgent, not even the CPP's founding chair, table and nightstand, who admits only to being "the Chief Consultant." the Pope isn't Catholic and Mao Zedong is actually a Dutchman.
Randy David: To take up arms in the pursuit of one’s political beliefs is an altogether different matter. The armed option is employed not only by leftists and rightists, but also by religious rebels and some millenarian cults. Not all leftists advocate the violent overthrow of the State, and not all armed groups are leftist. To be Left is to think and speak radically about social problems; to be an armed rebel is to participate in the forcible overthrow of government. Our Constitution outlaws armed rebellion, but it resolutely protects freedom of thought and of speech.
But let's be clear: the CPP NPA is not about religious rebellion or cultish millenarianism. It is armed rebellion financed by organized extortion, blackmail, kidnapping, arson, bombing and continuous advocacy of violent overthrow of the State. And excuse me, Professor, but to "think and speak radically about social problems" is no monopoly of the Left.
Randy David: Having once flirted with leftists when she was a graduate student, Ms Arroyo ought to know these distinctions. That she has uncritically permitted herself to mouth a Cold War mantra betrays the dominant influence of militarists in her administration. These militarists are not just the former generals in the Arroyo Cabinet; they also include former leftists who, having tasted power, now disdain their ideological past. Former Party members usually become the most virulent rightists. Only the ideology has changed; the dogmatism remains.
Well here is strange admission, that dogmatic ideology lays eternal hold on the minds of Leftists, even when they have become Rightists. As if we are not aware of Russia, and China and North Korea and Cuba...but he's referring to the "Clerico-fascists" in the Arroyo Cabinet, notably the Christian social democrat, now National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, that have competed with the "natdems" in the bal masque and costume contest ever since the Jesuits discovered "liberation theology" and social activists, the generous habits of the European and American Left. He may also be referring to various known ex-Communist Party functionaries and Leftist operators who have high positions in the Arroyo administration, such as in the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) and the National Printing Office.

AMANDO DORONILA presents a really grim picture of the "all-out war" today, making predictions that civilians will be butchered. This is the same picture that Rep. Teddy Casino was painting for Pia Hontiveros on Strictly Politics last night (ABSCBN News), bringing with him a laptop loaded with a purportedly classified Military planning document called "Oplan Bantay Laya." He and Pia Hontiveros were having fun scaring each other with choice excerpts from the allegedly leaked document. Teddy Casino really is the Willie Revillame of the Leftist stage act--his fervent hope, expressed for an admiring Pia Hontiveros, is the Philippines will become like some Latin American countries now: Leftist and ultranationalist. Him or Joma or Satur as Hugo Chavez in a People's Democratic Republic of the Philippines? Por Dios, por Santo, Señor! But are you nuts? Pia Hontiveros did ask him one good hard question: What can be done about the fact that it was the NDF that unilaterally withdrew from peace talks in 2002 and decided it "will wait for the next administration." Teddy Casino's sheepish answer? "Well..thereare lmany ways of jumpstarting the peace talks ... all it takes is a little creativity and tiaga."

The Fundamental Theorem of Guerilla War is expressed well in Randy's final point:
The communist insurgency has been around for 37 years. That is a long time. It only means that, despite the movement’s own abuses, it has been able to function as an alternative center for our people. There is no way we can wipe it out without killing many innocent civilians. It would be a tragic mistake to treat communist rebels as if they were just another criminal syndicate. We must continue talking to them.
I agree. They are not just a criminal syndicate. They are more like a long term viral infection of the brain. Yes, we must continue talking to them, but as long as the Left maintains and refuses to eschew an armed component, the Philippine government and the Filipino people are entitled to theirs, even under the Law of the Jungle that our communist guerillas operate by anyway. No one should sanction political killings and assassination, but both Left and Right have been guilty of that in this country, and both are undboubtedly capable of it again. It is the Center that must hold.

ducation's Highest Priority Myth Debunked: After a long absence, Blogger and broadcast journalist Ricky Carandang posts a recent Inquirer article on the crisis in Philippine education, which is suffering from a lack of classrooms and an influx of students
Depending on who you talk to, the backlog in classrooms (which the palace has quietly acknowledged) could be as low as 3,000 to as high as 60,000. But there are other numbers that better illustrate the state of education in the country.
A few years ago, when I was writing an article for Newsbreak magazine about the slowly vanishing middle class, the Department of Education provided me figures that show that in the 1970s, about 70 percent of high school students were enrolled in private schools, while 30 percent were in public schools. By this decade, those figures were reversed. Today, more than 70 percent of students are in public school, while only 30 percent more or less are enrolled in private schools. The gradually diminishing purchasing power of the average Filipino has led to a slow but massive migration from public schools to public schools. At the same time, despite a constitutional provision requiring that the biggest budget allocation be given to education, public spending for education has declined in real terms.
But in his own PDI column last Sunday, The Education Crisis, constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas points out that
The Supreme Court, however, made short shrift of that argument, saying that while “it is true that under Section 5(5), Article XVI of the Constitution, Congress is mandated to ‘assign the highest budgetary priority to education’ in order to ‘insure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment,’ it does not thereby follow that the hands of Congress are so hamstrung as to deprive it the power to respond to the imperatives of the national interest and for the attainment of other state policies or objectives.”
In other words, it is but common sense that there could easily be some national priority higher than education, such as food, shelter, clothing or physical survival. In the case Fr. Bernas cites, the petitioners in 1991 questioned the larger appropriation automatically given to paying the national debt on the basis of the commonly held notion that the Constitution requires the biggest budget allocation to be given to education. Fr. Bernas continues--
The Court concluded that “Congress is certainly not without any power, guided only by its good judgment, to provide an appropriation that can reasonably service our enormous debt, the greater portion of which was inherited from the previous administration. It is not only a matter of honor and to protect the credit standing of the country. More especially, the very survival of our economy is at stake. Thus, if in the process Congress appropriated an amount for debt service bigger than the share allocated to education, the Court finds and so holds that said appropriation cannot be thereby assailed as unconstitutional.”
However, it should be noted that under the re-enacted 2005 budget for the 2006 fiscal year, the Education sector gets about 130 billion pesos in cold hard cash, 90% going to salaries, and accounting for 33% of the total 390 billion pesos that will be allocated to Departments of the National Government. Paradoxically, Fr. Bernas rejoins the herd when he concludes, like Ricky Carandang, that we are not spending enough on education! I think it is just that free, universal public education is such an attractive, durable and almost unassailable ideal among Filipino liberals. But he deserves credit for blowing up a durable and persistent myth. There is no Constitutional provision that requires education be given the "biggest" budgetary allocation, and its priority, while being the "highest" may be ignored by the Congress when required.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Mysterious Miscarriage of Mrs. Jose Rizal


José Rizal got this girl so pregnant in 1895 (when the photograph at left is said to have been taken) that he wanted to marry her...We know this because History preserves many letters from the 19th Century, to and from José Rizál, (who was born on this date, June 19, 1861 -- in case you only know about December 30, 1896, when the Catholic Taliban and the Philippine Republic murders him annually with a gleeful "Fuego!" and "Lupang Hinirang!").

But Rizal's vast audience of the future is lucky because as an habitual letter-writer, diarist, journalist, novelist, communicator, and poet, he generated a tremendous amount of written correspondence with family and friends, with scientific and business associates, with government officials and famous personalities, and ordinary persons of his era. Moreover, José Rizál meticulously recorded his every experience, acquaintance, observation -- all of which were rich and varied because of his travels and connections to so many people. That material is still a primary historical source on his life and times. And this small collection I've chosen perhaps gives us a glimpse of.

Here he is, after three long years of exile in dark and dreary Dapitan, introducing his intended to his stern and disapproving Mother...

14 March 1895
Mrs. Teodora Alonso


My Very Dear Mother,

The bearer of this letter is Miss Josephine Leopoldine Tauffer whom I was on the point of marrying, counting on your consent, of course. Our relations were broken on her suggestion on account of the numerous difficulties on the way. She is almost alone in the world; she has only very distant relatives.

As I am interested in her and it is very possible that she may later decide to join me and as she may be left all alone and abandoned, I beg you to give her hospitality there, treating her as a daughter, until she shall have an opportunity or occasion to come here.

I have decided to write the General to find out about my case.

Treat Miss Josephine as a a person whom I esteem and value much and whom I would not like to be unprotected and abandoned. Your most affectionate son who loves you,

About a month or so later, he writes to his sister about Josephine, and thanks her for some pickled eggs...Pickled eggs!
Mrs. Narcisa Rizal
My Dear Sister,

I read your letter yesterday and Miss B.[racken] and I thank you very much for your kindness. She above all is grateful to you and Tonino for the hospitality you offer her but for the present we have decided that she should stay here. She cannot send you anything for she has no moment of rest now and although she likes this, she cannot however dry fish or make pickles. The jar of pickled fish eggs is very good and we enjoyed eating it. Miss J.[ospehine] sends you very affectionate regards.

With nothing more, many regards to all from your brother who loves you dearly.

J. Rizal
Historically, the scandal has never died, of the 35-year old Doctor Rizal taking up with "an Irish girl of sweet eighteen, slender, a chestnut blond, with blue eyes, dressed with elegant simplicity, with an atmosphere of light gaiety,"

Rizal's descendant, Asuncion Lopez Rizal Bantug, in her recent biography, Indio Bravo, (Tahanan Books, Manila, 1997) gives some valuable background on the intended Mrs. Josephine Bracken Rizal ...
Josephine Bracken...arrived in Dapitan in February 1895 with her foster father, George Taufer, and a certain Manuela Orlac, the mistress of a friar at the Manila Cathedral. It was Orlac's friar connection that led some of Rizal's sisters to sustpet that Josephine had come to spy on their brother. Taufer and Josephine had met Rizal in Hongkong, when Taufer sought help for his failing eyesight. At the time of their visit to Dapitan Josephine was 17 years old, a petite Eurasian orphan with Irish blood, who had lived a hard life with her foster father and his various wives. She must have been attractive enough for Rizal to fall instantly in love with her, and she returned his love like many other women before her.
Despite coming in his fourth year of exile, the months that follow are among the happiest and most productive of Rizal's entire life. If one reads the compendium of One Hundred Letters of Rizal in this period of 1895, one finds him happy, busy and ambitious. He and Josephine were living happily as man and wife on his idyllic and isolated Talisay property beside the sea on the Northern Mindanao coast in what is now Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. But, he also conducts a lively correspondence and active commerce in specimens and scientific instruments and books with various colleagues in Europe and America. He sees many patients, attracted by his knowledge, skill and humanity. He has orchards with thousands of trees, cuttings, plantings of coffee, cashews, cocoa, macopa, siniguelas, mangoes. He collects forest honey and scientific specimens, even discovering unknown plant and animal species, which today bear his name. He is running a small school for boys and plans several ambitious projects for Mindanao, including an "agricultural colony" in Sindangan Bay, and a shipbuilding facility near what is now Butuan City. He is full of optimism and is evidently planning to raise a family and make a life there. A great life there!

CARLOS QUIRINO, in The Great Malayan (Philippine Commonwealth era prize winning biography, Tahanan Books, 1997) on Rizal's happiest Christmas:
Christmas that year was the happiest he had ever spent in Dapitan, mainly because of Josephine's presence. She was now big with child--his child, and he experienced a thrill of joy at being a prospective father. Would it be a boy or a girl? Whom would it look like? They killed a suckling pig, roasting it over live coals to a succulent brown, and made chicken broth out of a fat hen. Jose invited the neighborss to a Christmas party, and they all danced and made merry until dawn. On New Year's Eve, they repeated the celebration, enjoyoing themselves thoroughly.
LEON MA. GUERRERO writes in his 1961 biography of Rizal, The First Filipino ("Awarded First Prize in the Rizal Biography Contest held under the auspices ofthe Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission in 1961" Published in Manila, 1963), "They ould not be married; as we shall see, the Church demanded his recantation and submission before she would consent to their participation in the Sacrament of Matrimony. It was not something that Josephine, a pious believer, ould take lightly. But she had never been demanding, and she swallowed her pride and her scruples, although when they were more than she could bear she always said she would go away. "The person who lives in my house" was Rizal's authentically Tagalog and anot ungallant description of her to his mother in January 1896...
15 January 1896
Mrs. Teodora Alonso

My Very Dear Mother,

...She is good, obedient and submissive. We lack nothing except that we are not married, but, as you yourself say, better to a Love in God's grace than be married in mortal sin. We have still to have our first quarrel, and when I give her advice she does not answer back. I fyou caome and get to know her I have every hope that you will get along with her. Besides, she has nobody in this world except myself. I am her whole family...J. Rizal
Then, in this letter to his mother, he gives her some sad news, in a rather terse and mysterious manner (to me)...
12 March 1896
Mrs. Teodora Alonso

My Very Dear Mother,

Miss B. thanks you very much for your gifts and does not know how to reciprocate. She cannot go there just now because there is nobody here to look after the nephews. She bathes them, and washes and mends their clothes, so that, poor girl, she is never at rest, but she does it willingly for she has a great love for the boys, and they love her mor than they love me! ... I am afraid she has had a miscarriage; she was very seriously ill the day before yesterday.
Historian Gregorio F. Zaide describes this alleged event as follows in his biography Life, Works and Writings of a Genius (All Nation's Publishing, 1994 ed.)
In the early part of 1896 Rizal was extremely unhappy because Josephine was expecting a baby. Unfortunately, he played a prank on her, frightening her so that she prematurely gave birth to an eight month baby boy, who lived only for three hours . This lost son of Rizal was named "Franisco" in honor of Don Francisco (the hero's father) and was buried in Dapitan.
Leon Ma. Guerrero is the most sympathetic:
"Poor Josephine! Born in a barracks, farmed out as a baby, nursing two Mrs. Taufers, tormented by the third, running away and going back, saddled with a sick, blind, jealous old man, falling in love and running away (she always seemed to be running away and going back), wanting to wait and wanting to marry, gossiped about, slandered, wounded int he depths of her Irish Catholic heart by the sneers and shrugs of her lover's sisters, so eager to please with her little gifts of music books and muslim collars, so desperate to be accepted with her rice cakes and noodles and dried fish! She was not afraid to work; she had been working all her life, a corporal's daughter brought up by stepmothers, to whom cooking and washing and minding the children and feeding the chickens was the very purspose of a girl's life. She was not bored by Dapitan, whatever Rizal might think: here she had at last made some sort of home for herself, outside the pale of the law, in the shadow of the Church's reprobation, but still a home, a family, which she had never had in crowded exciting Hong Kong and Tokyo. I would be a real home and "a whole family" when the baby came, and now she had lost him.
Actually, many apocryphal and conflicting stories and histories exist about this episode regarding Rizal's son, Francisco, who "lived for only three hours." Some have it that Rizal buried it "somewhere in the gazebo" area on his Talisay property. Then, on the day he and Josephine left Dapitan, in July, 1896, he burned everything down, with a Dapitan Orchestra playing Chopin's Funeral March! Other stories even have it, that he went and buried the child "somewhere in the forest" above his Talisay home, and never told anyone where.

Yet...Jose Rizal was a man who knew where every postage stamp he bought was, where every button, cuff and collar that was lovingly sent to him was, a man who dutifully and accurately recorded the minutest details of his entire life experience...but in the case of his son, --his son!--he leaves no record of where he buried it?? Just like that, with less thought than he accorded his laundry, he disposes of his "stillborn" eight-month old baby boy?? I don't believe it for one second and have other theories about what really happened...It is simply out of character for Rizal to have done so. Perhaps there never was a miscarriage and it was all to save a boy from a life as the Son of Jose Rizal--the bastard son of Jose Rizal, heretic, apostate, excommunicant, exile!

Later, much later, Josephine would write to Jose Rizal...(her 'typos' and grammar are preserved...)
17 August 1896, Manila
Dr. J. Rizal
My Darling Love

I received your most kind and welcomed letter dated the 10th Wednesday. I am very much surprised not hearing anything about if you have received the three Tyrines of Foie gras: well! perhaps you have not received any other letters that I have written to you. I went to the Governor General today but unfortunately he is laid up with a severe cold, but his adecam told me to go back in three days to receive an answer from him.

Dear I would like very much to go with your dear famaily, but; you know what I have written to you, I would like to go alone, so I can speak to you better for in your famaily's presence we can [not] be very free to each other.

I know my dear it breakes my heart to go and bid you good bye! but! dear what can I do; than to suffer until the Good God brings you back to me again. Your sister Choling came to visit me yesterday and she wants to give me her daughter Maria Luisa to me she says she had great confidence in me, well I told her for my part I am quite willing and satisfied but I have to comunicate with your first if you are willing, I have so many pupils about fifteen three dollars each and I am also studying Piano 4 $ a month in Dna. Maria's house one of my pupil, Dear I have to do something like that because I am always sorry thinking of your. Oh! dear how I miss you. I will always be good and faithful to you, and also do good to my companions so that the good God will bring youback to me. I will try all my best to be good to your family especially to your dear old Parents "the hands that we cannot cut lift it up and kiss it or adore the hand that gives the blow." How it made the tears flew in my eyes when I read those few lines of you. Say darling say it makes me think of our dear old hut in Dapitan and the many sweet [h]ours we have passed there.

Love I will love you ever, love I will leave thee never, ever to me precious to thee never to part heart bound to heart or never to say good bye.

So my darling receive many warm Affection and love.

From You ever faithfull and true till death,

P.S. The boys are very well I am giving my home pupils their lesson every night from 7 until 9 o'clock.
Jose Rizal's final farewell to her--did it come before or after the above?
Adiós, dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría,
Adiós, queridos seres, morir es descansar.
I think it must be taken as something of great significance that Jose Rizal's last written words on earth are to this "sweet stranger, his friend, his joy." Just as the first words that Christ utters to Mary Magdalene after Resurrection was: "Noli Me Tangere!"

Then there's this... El Filibusterismo: Sic Itur Ad Astra (MP3)

MANUEL L. QUEZON III writes about a different purported son of Rizal: ADOLF RIZAL!

Adrian Cristobal of the Manila Bulletin tackles the same topic today, but MLQ3 produces the more interesting read.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Our Patriotic Curriculum and the Classroom Shortage

Senator Mar Roxas wants to restore the P10 billion or so taken away from the Education Dept's budget since it looks like the 2005 budget will be re-enacted for 2006. I support this move but may I suggest the supplemental allocation be targeted at the School Building Program shown as the thinnest sliver below.
Recall that when schools re-opened last week there was that televised tiff between President Arroyo and Acting Deped Sec. Fe Hidalgo over the shortage of school buildings and classrooms in the public school system. As to WHY there is a shortage of classrooms, the reason is self-evident in the pie chart at left, which shows how the 2006 DepEd budget is divvied up. There is a class room shortage because Deped spent only P2B in 2004, P1B in 2005, and for 2006, is allocating only 1 billion pesos out of its P120 billion pesos budget for the School Building Program. Instead, it will spend P101 Biilion or about 90% of its budget on ITSELF -- on salaries for the largest single group of government employees in the biggest Govt Owned and Controlled Corporation. This simple fact has been right in front of our noses all this time and is probably why most of us do not see it. The single biggest piece of the Deped budget pie is that 101 billion peso Pac-Man shaped portion that is assigned to "Personal Services"--the salaries of nearly half a million government employees (not all of whom actually classroom teachers, since many are administrators, bureaucrats and every variety of staff there is, and most of whom have guaranteed lifetime jobs as civil servants and Comelec casuals during election time). The percentage of the education budget which goes to salaries is way above regional averages and the level of capital and operating expenses is conversely below what is generally considered healthy. But it is inconceivable that the administration -- any administration-- would ever do anything to anger that half-million strong government employee lobby.
Most people who comment on the financial woes of the education sector pay too little attention to something called the Basic Education Curriculum of the public school system, thinking it is a purely academic catalog of no relation to a thing as "real-world" as the national budget. Actually, it IS the Basic Education Curriculum that largely dictates HOW the 101 billion peso budget allocation for Salaries will be spent. A little known fact is that the five subjects do NOT get an equal share of the budget and the exact split depends on the Basic Education Curriculum time specifications.

Too many people have also been convinced that there is also a perennial shortage in teachers. Like education, most are persuaded that there can never be enough teachers. But it depends on the kind of teachers you need, not just how "good" they are. And how many of them you need actually depends on how many subjects you have specified in the curriculum. The budget is driven by the curriculum. I wouldn't mind spending most of the budget on math, science and languiage teachers, but as you can see from the pie chart nearby, most of it goes under a patriotic label, though that can be deceptive too!

I assert that a dispassionate analysis and critique of the BEC can lead to the identification of at least 10 billion pesos that ought to be reallocated to investing in classrooms, computers, textbooks and other physical facilities and materials to build schools in a serious and purposeful manner. Not just to use them as aging vats and livelihood programs.


A typical school year consists of about 40 weeks or 200 school days. The budgetary importance of the Basic Education Curriculum cannot be overemphasized, because it is the curriculum that specifies exactly how much classroom time must be devoted to each of the five subjects, and therefore how many teachers of each kind are needed. Typical scheduling may be found here.

Officially speaking, the curriculum prescribed by Deped for the over 20 million grade school and high school students in the basic education sector contains only five subjects:

(1) Filipino (PDF file is 28 pages long.)

(2) English
(PDF file is 26 pages long.)

(3) Math (PDF file is 22 pages long.)

(4) Science (PDF file is 19 pages long.)

(5) Makabayan (PDF file is 102 pages long.)

Nice and compact right? After all, the global international educational community has been urging all countries to adopt streamlined curricula that focus on the very basics of "reading, writing and 'rithmetic." But the above listing is deceptively streamlined in this regard because of the subject called "Makabayan," which takes the lion share of the time allocations within the Curriculum. Here is the Bureau of Secondary Education Primer which easily reveals that Makabayan is a "super-subject" with "asignaturas" or component subjects within it.
* Filipino: 1 hour 4x a week, 1.2 unit credits
* English: 1 hour daily 1.5 unit credits
* Mathematics: 1 hour daily 1.5 unit credits
* Science: 1 hour 20 min daily, 2 unit credits

o Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies): 40 minutes daily, 1 unit credit
o Technology & Livelihood Education: 1 hour 4x a week, 1.2 unit credits
o Edukasyon sa Pagpapahalaga (Values Education): 1 hour, once a week (Years 1-3), 0.3 unit credit; 1 hour twice a week
o Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH): 1 hour 4 times a week (Years 1-3), 1.2 unit credits; 1 hour, 5 times a week (+ CAT in Year IV), 1.5 unit credits

The teaching of these five learning areas is what will eat up P101 billion in government checks this year: cold hard cash from the government. And they say we can only spare P1 billion for school buildings, classrooms, computers and textbooks?


It is pretty obvious from all of this that Deped is not about education but about employment for Deped and the Comelec. At least, that is how it has turned out in the reality of budgets and real money spent by the government.

Of course, Makabayan itself did not start out that way. Here is a testimonial on Makabayan by someone who claims to have conceived of it, Prof. Isagani R. Cruz, writing for the Philippine Star in 2005 on Makabayan.
Finally, Makabayan is the heart of the BEC. The curriculum exists for only one purpose – to prepare students to become adults. Although every adult has to know a language to communicate with others in the community (Filipino) and elsewhere (English), has to understand how the world works (Science), and has to manage finances (Math), an educated adult needs to become responsible for the community, the nation, and the whole world (Makabayan). The four tool subjects train, but Makabayan educates students.
Really? Or prevents the building of classrooms and the investment in computers and textbooks by creating a thoroughly congested curriculum based on the fallacies and illusions of "Values Education:"
- PELC - Kapayapaan
- PELC - Paggalang
- PELC - Pagmamahal 1
- PELC - Pagmamahal (Disiplina)
- PELC - Pagmamalasakit sa Kapwa
- PELC - Pananampalataya
- PELC - Pinagkukunang Yaman (Pagtitipid)
- PELC - Katotohanan
- PELC - Pangkabuhayan
- PELC - Kalusugan
- PELC - Saloobin
In reality Makabayan is turning out to be an expensive govt program to promote Religion (but without God), and morals based on political correctness, in whose service, English, Filipino, Math and Science are mere tools.

Flagrant Violation of the Non Establishment Clause in the Basic Education Curriculum

The Mercenaries Are Going! The Mercenaries Are Going!
Newspaper Malaya is having an awful hard time getting people excited over their "expose" that Filipinos are working in Iraq as security guards and good-golly-gasp mercenaries for those evil Coalition invaders. Why do these stupid OFWs have to grasp at knife blades just to survive...when there is so much mercenary work right here at politics, in education, in media. Maybe they're not so stupid and they realize working in Iraq is less dangerous than working in the Philippines. Friend and fellow blogger Ellen Tordesillas is at the center of some of this...I don't know Ellen, you might just be helping Blackwater's campaign out with so much publicity...Desperate men will take desperate measures to save kith and kin, that they would not take to save themselves. Kapit sa patalim! Remember the OFW's wager? This was publicized right after GMA abandoned Iraq and made it illegal to work there, by fiat, and explained by Filipino OFWs waiting to get into Iraq: If he goes and lives, then his family lives too. If he goes and dies, then at least insurance will take care of his family. If he stays, then they all die.

"Not even the Dutch can get me out of the Netherlands" Although this PDI article refers to Joma sticking his tongue out at the Philippine Government, I actually heard him tell an exasperated PIA HONTIVEROS on ANC News Chat how the "European Convention" prevents even the Dutch from getting him out of the Netherlands (some legal gobbledygook he's been hiding behind for years). Well that serves the Dutch right for years of heedlessly indulging the crafty head of what the US and the European Union have five times in a row since 2001 called a FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. I hope Jo Ma really is a Dutch citizen now -- let the Netherlands choke on him! But Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales was being quite the ecdysiast a lil later with Pia Hontiveros, as he hinted that the Dutch may finally be coming to their senses about this very dangerous murderer and communist provocateur. He hints the Dutch may expel him. He really should move to North Korea or Cuba, which he is always praising. It was uncanny how precisely he counted the number of recent killings for Pia Hontiveros: 687, just before he launched off on some tirade regarding the "broad united front" which he is triumphantly leading to inevitable victory. Sheesh! Okay okay already. The East is Red and Red is the East okay? But what's really coming to light is that many, -- if not most -- of the killings of Leftists and political activists may be part of a Left-on-Left purge that has been going on ever since the Movement split into pro-Joma "reaffirmists" and the anti-Joma "rejectionists." Two of the latter were assassinated by Joma and his See-pee-pee-en-pee-ay adjuvants here in the Archipelago, murders they publicly owned up to in order perhaps to put fear into the rejectionist ranks. Too many bloggers and media commentators have fallen into the trap of suggesting all these murders are being conducted by the government or the military.

"I love you honey...just going off to hijack a plane and blow up the US Capitol, ok?"
PDI's Rina Jimenez David reviews the documentary on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11:
Though we all know how it ends, the movie still manages to draw us in and engage our emotions, and lets us see the humanity. Yes, including the four al-Qaeda members, especially the leader of the cell who is shown calling up someone on his cell phone just before boarding and telling that person “I love you.”
Rina is talking about the fourth jetliner hijacked on 9/11, but foiled in a possible attack on the White House or the Congress by hostaged passengers who decided to rush the cockpit and the Al Qaeda hijackers, crashing the plane into a Pennsylvania woodlands before it could get to its intended target. Cellphones play a major role in the sequence of real events.

Although Rina praises the director, Peter Greengrass, for using largely unknown actors, she also declares that "Greengrass makes no ideological or, indeed, even emotional points."

Well, maybe he left all that for you, Rina. As for the heroes of United Flight 93, I don't think they would like anyone creating a moral equivalence between their supreme sacrifice and that of Al Qaeda's annihilists.

One last thing, I don't remember the documentary identifying who the hijacker calls and says "I love you" to. Heck maybe it was OBL. Do you know, Rina?

The Manila Bulletin's ADRIAN CRISTOBAL on ANARCHY:

What you have here is confusion, at least. Is it the deed or the language that’s anarchic? The blasts were meant to alarm but not alarming. They were the work of the opposition but not "the" opposition. Since they were not meant to kill anyone, the little destruction inflicted on buildings and mansions could only be called by fastidious linguists of vandalism. Some might even think of them as pranks.

It seems that one way to end "terror" and "anarchy" is a government for communication, an authority that will prescribe simple rules of language so that people will have a clear idea of what official "communicators" are talking about.

The Manila Standard Today newspaper's website still runs this Be A Nasty Eye Candy Model advert on its front page -- complete with some of Julie Yap Daza's patented broadsheet cheesecake and animated, fornicating words and phrases! Haven't seen a printed copy in ages, but they probably still have that LifeStyle section with a daily full page picture of Pilipina pulchritude, scantily clad, if at all, and creatively uhmm, laid out.

SCARY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY It is entirely possible that the MERCENARY story being pumped by newspaper Malaya and several others is FALSE. If so, they are needlessly endangering the lives of Filipino OFWs in the Middle East and other Muslim countries. Evidence is this pickup of the story by Al Jazeera! Hasn't this just increased the probability of Filipinos being kidnapped? Yet there is no real proof that the original Malaya "expose" is even true. This is a naughty stunt that could get some Filipinos into big trouble.