Monday, March 30, 2009
This pillage of our nation has been done on the altar of globalization. One of its high priests, tall and beaming with blue eyes, has just suddenly descended on our shores out of the blue, to consecrate another round of supposed “peace” negotiations between the MILF and the Philippine government. Despite being in a position to know the real issues, “Hallelujahs” are all that can be heard from our Establishment media, buttressed by acolytes from the Ateneo, as well as, top honchos of Big Business groups, who have waved palm fronds and thrown rose petals along his path.
Of course, even if Tony Blair was invited to speak on “The Leader as a Nation Builder in a Globalizing World,” nothing was said about his propagation of the US-British lie on Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that was later used as justification for the war on a sovereign Iraq . Even if this was subsequently modified as owing to the murders committed under Saddam such as the Halabja poison gas attack, from which 5,000 were killed and 10,000 were injured, the irrefutable fact remains that the “Second Iraq War”--which has caused up to a million Iraqi civilian deaths, along with an additional four million displaced, plus over 2,500 of targeted killings against Iraqi scientists, academics, artists, and physicians—has turned out to be the 21st Century’s first real genocidal rampage, reminiscent only of the massacres at Balangiga (here in the Philippines) during the 20th Century.
Last week, we reported on the indictments against Blair by the Movement for the Advancement of International Criminal Law and the International War Crimes Tribunal (also in The Hague ) for war crimes including the “Killing and Injuring [of] a Defenseless Population throughout Yugoslavia ” and “[The Use of] Depleted Uranium, Cluster Bombs and Other Prohibited Weapons.” This time, we add the accusations against Blair by the Athens Bar Association for “The repeated, blatant violations by the United States and Britain of the stipulations of the four 1949 Geneva conventions, the 1954 convention of The Hague as well as the charter of the international criminal court, [constituting] war crimes and crimes against humanity,” in a case it filed before the International Criminal Court on Bush’s invasion of Iraq and his massacre of civilians.
Indeed, Blair’s illegal wars have spanned the Clinton and Bush administrations, but there’s more. Blair has gotten himself embroiled in other equally damaging scandals including the mysterious death of David Kelly, UK adviser on Iraqi arms programs who had exposed the WMD lie; his financial donations scandals involving racing promoter Bernie Ecclestone, steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and investor Srichand Hinduja; and the “cash for peerages” affair involving his right hand man Mandelson. Despite all these, by simply being the darling of the globalist elite clustered around the Bilderberg Group of the world’s super-oligarchs, which recruited him in its 1993 Athens secret meeting, something that Blair lied about until exposed by members of the British Parliament, this dirty politician was still able to rise to the rarefied heights of international prestige.
By the way, Bill Clinton attended the Bilderberg meet of 1991, too, two years before Blair, and the two soon became leaders of their respective powerful countries which led to their “wars for peace” all over the globe. Now, Blair visited the Philippines to promote “peace” between it and the already defeated MILF, which had to run to Uncle Sam to offer its vassalage.
Wherever I hear Blair speak of peace, I recall two British SAS soldiers in Basra dressed in Arab garb setting up a car bomb in that city in 2005, where they were caught by Iraqi police and jailed--only to be sprung by British tanks and forces. Another is in Baghdad , where two Americans disguised in Arab clothes were caught by Iraqis when the two tried to blow up a booby-trapped car in the Ghazaliyah district.
Blair and the Americans may not need to have their soldiers and operatives do these black ops in the Philippines anymore as there are enough locals--in the military, the police, and the MILF--to do it for them.
I don’t know if we’re going to still be able to save Mindanao from dismemberment in this process of “a-peace-ment.” Mindanao ’s wealth is in the vital interest of the world’s globalist forces and they’ll settle for even an extended Gloria term if necessary, and probably most conveniently. They have a mutual interest in the Cha-cha as Gloria needs her extension and the globalists need the repeal of the protectionist provisions that would enhance the strength of their “ancestral domain” doctrine.
The fait accompli could be a failure of elections in 2010 whereby Gloria goes into hold-over mode and dances off to a Cha-cha with the religious and opposition sectors stymied.
In the face of such schemes, Blair and Obama can easily activate their good old black ops, behead a few more civilians, bomb a few buses and churches or mosques, and pummel the Filipino psyche into acquiescence--unless patriots from the Armed Forces of the Philippines unite with nationalist forces to end this neo-colonial charade once and for all. Only a truly nationalist agenda can defeat the globalists’ evil designs.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
If we are a topsy-turvy society today, it is because justice has been overtaken by power politics and the use of force and deception. This is what can be observed in many of our most celebrated crime mysteries, from the Ninoy Aquino, Lean Alejandro, and Popoy Lagman assassinations to the present and highly charged Dacer-Corbito case. Even though all have been marred by still many unanswered questions, accusers in the present instance do not have an open-and-shut case because of one very fundamental problem: The absence of a corpus delicti (or the body of the crime).
For one, DNA examination of the alleged Dacer-Corbito bone fragments by the University of the Philippines Natural Sciences Research Institute stated thus: “Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis targeting the 121 bp intergenic region of the COH and tRNAlys genes of the mitochondrion gave NEGATIVE RESULTS for the presence of human DNA.”
This was the official report submitted to retired general Reynaldo G. Wycoco, the NBI director at that time who was also a political appointee of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. These results were strangely never given emphasis by subsequent reportage. Instead, dental plates not found by the NBI composite team--composed of dozens of investigators who scoured the crime scene for 31 days--but allegedly retrieved by the hired forensic expert of the Dacer family in a subsequent four-hour search were given more weight.
On the evening of March 25, 2009, after the side of the accused, represented by Atty. Alex Avisado—who also appeared on my “Talk News TV” program the other day, started airing on major TV networks, a Dacer family member finally reacted to the pivotal question of the “corpus delicti.” I was surprised, though, that Karina Dacer did not bring out any solid evidence to counter Atty. Avisado’s presentation.
Let me clarify that I am not defending Sen. Ping Lacson. Most who follow my column and programs know that I have not been sympathetic to him ever since he served as an Arroyo spoiler against the imminent victory of FPJ in 2004. All these are in the interest of justice and truth.
A reopening of the Dacer case should look into the other angles we raised in Part 1 of our column-series on this issue. I would like a thorough inquiry into the claims of Fr. Baldostamon, parish priest of the Dacers, who said he heard Almonte offer to connect the family with the kidnappers while continuing with their mourning. Moreover, former president Fidel V. Ramos’ role in all this should be another priority because, in truth, a great many of our people believe that he had a lot to gain from Dacer’s disappearance and are intrigued by his Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) in announcing it even before the family showed any alarm. Then, of course, the Almonte connection to FVR and the Baldostamon claim should not remain hanging.
Ultimately, though, our call to reopen the Dacer case can only be rhetorical as there’s no hope of getting to the bottom of it while the Arroyo regime stays in power. Among many reasons, it is primarily not in its interest to lift the “Sword of Damocles” over its adversaries who are accused in the case. That sword, however, has gotten duller and duller by the day, as the evidence contrary to the prosecution’s case, which heretofore have been restrained for being subjudice, has now been repeated over media. In fact, a backlash may have already started against the Arroyo regime; or, at the very least, skepticism has grown over the government’s case against the accused. After these three weeks of sensationalism, all these should rightly return to the processes of the courts--and wait for the Arroyo regime to be changed before justice is realized.
Certainly, the Aristotelian ideal of a just society is also the Filipino ideal. Yet, we are hurtling farther away from it because of the machinations of transnational Western powers through their local minions in government and the oligarchy.
Justice demands that the people be sovereign, with the integrity of our national boundaries and the sanctity of our national patrimony intact. Sadly, there has not been a moment in this nation’s history that these have been held paramount. So today, that peril is again at its height, with the arrival of war criminal Tony Blair, whom the idiotic Philippine mainstream media touts as a “peace maker.”
If only they opened their eyes, they’d know that Tony Blair’s mission in the Philippines is to merely push US-British oil interests by glorifying appeasement to secessionist demands, disguised as peace with the MILF—which, on its own, has already turned on its cause since it kowtowed to US President George W. Bush in 2003.
Also, they’d better learn that the Movement for the Advancement of International Criminal Law already handed a 40-page dossier to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague , charging Blair with serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yugoslavia , subsequently declaring him a “war criminal.” Plus, Carne Ross, former key British negotiator at the UN, exposed Blair’s other war crime lies in an inquiry, saying: “At no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq’s WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.”
At best, the US-British powers serve as the only remaining prop in the continuation of the unjust and oppressive Arroyo regime, which the Filipino electorate have rejected twice--for which Gloria had to cheat to push through. This regime has faced at least three major military revolts--aborted only by admonishments from the US Embassy, notwithstanding surveys pointing to the overwhelming disgust of the populace against it. But Blair and Obama still rely on Gloria to give to their oil companies our national patrimony in Mindanao --something that should be stopped at all cost if we are to secure this country’s economic future. Our next focus is on the US-Gloria Cha-Cha.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
In all their articles, the assumption that Estrada is the chief beneficiary of the twin-crimes is being held as gospel truth. Yet they have never explored other angles seriously, nor have they truly presented to the public the identities of those who clearly benefitted since this Dacer-Corbito case became fodder for Estrada’s overthrow.
Undoubtedly, the past eight or nine years should have clearly impressed upon anyone that Estrada had the least to gain for doing Dacer in. First off, Estrada never felt his administration to be under any real danger of ouster since he had an incontrovertible mandate from the people; thus, one alleged scandal would not have fazed him, much less led him to contemplate murder. Proof of this sense of self-assurance and equanimity was his pacifist response to the “evil society” mob’s incessant threats of violence, as arrogantly relayed by then Edsa II gofer Renato de Villa.
Then, despite his being the repeated target of slings and arrows throughout his long, distinguished career in film and public service, President Estrada has not once known to have responded with violence. If ever he’d gotten involved in some fisticuffs one way or another during his youth, these were only for his protection of the weak, like in his stance against a burly foreign student in the Ateneo to defend a bullied classmate, or in his fights with a gang that blackmailed his movie industry colleagues (for which he teamed up with FPJ). Moreover, looking back at Estrada’s record, one will see that he has been a stickler for the law--from his election cases in San Juan where he was cheated out of victory once but eventually won on a recount, to his detentions under Marcos’ rule.
So did Estrada have anything to gain from Dacer’s “disappearance”? The insinuation is that Dacer knew a lot about the alleged BW stock manipulation scam and was about to spill the beans. However, if, after seven years, the Sandiganbayan--a Kangaroo court at that--and the prosecution were unable to turn up anything solid, what could Dacer have had?
If we grant that Dacer really did have something on Estrada and thus, feared for his life, as FVR’s consigliore Joe Almonte claims from a Dacer letter he supposedly received, wouldn’t Dacer have had this “proof” tucked away in some safe place, only to be released if something happened to him? Plus, if Estrada had any taint of guilt in the sordid crime, wouldn’t he have grabbed the twice offered exile to any country of his choice extended by Arroyo through then DoJ chief Nani Perez?
If the Inquirer’s Volt Contreras or Newsbreak’s Aries Rufo were really intent on getting to the bottom of the Dacer-Corbito mystery, shouldn’t they also have looked into all these other angles? By the way, the public might also want to ask the owners and funding sources of these two news organizations the same “cui bono” question because haven’t they also benefitted immensely from Estrada’s fall? Could this be the reason why these two outfits are not intent on pursuing any other angle?
My NBI sources reminded me that the bones retrieved from the alleged site of the Dacer-Corbito immolation-murder, as well as, DNA tests of the samples attest to the fact that these are not human skeletal remains. The substitution of skeletal evidence has had a long history in the PNP, such as the “1980’s Leyte Killing Fields” used to prosecute Satur Ocampo but which a self-confessed police asset cum Rajah Solaiman “jihadist” cum Norberto Gonzales special ops agent exposed in 2007 as bones dug up from a Manila cemetery. For sure, the “fake” Dacer-Corbito bones issue will be brought out by the Ping Lacson camp in the legal counter-offensives to come, as with the other contradictions my previous column raised.
Additionally, “cui bono” may also be asked of former president Fidel V. Ramos. Wasn’t he under investigation for a long list of crimes against the Republic--from the Centennial Scam, to the AFP Modernization Fund disappearance, to the PEA-Amari scam, to the Smokey Mountain construction scam, ad nausea? Wasn’t Dacer also operating for him and for the forces aiming to destabilize and depose the Estrada government? In colloquial Filipino, Dacer was what was described as “lagareng hapon” or a two-edged cutting saw who played both sides. Estrada insiders say that at the Dacer-Estrada meeting, the two long-time compadres renewed their bosom friendship and Dacer had resumed his duties for Estrada. If this scenario is true, then it is quite likely that it was FVR who felt grievously betrayed by Dacer.
FVR did “protest too much” and too early, even before the Dacer family got alarmed by their father’s “disappearance.” As for Dacer’s letter to Almonte expressing fears for his own safety, that Newsbreak list of letters should show just how paranoid Dacer was in conjuring real or imagined persecution from a long list of people. When Dacer disappeared, the destabilizers of Estrada went to town with the sensational crime and suspense case. So who benefitted from that? Certainly not Estrada. Think about it…
To be concluded on Friday
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The first, from April 2001, undoubtedly a high point of media frenzy over the alleged kidnap-murders, involved an exposé of parish priest Fr. Gabriel Baldostamon of the Our Lady of Rosary church in Sun Valley Subdivision--where the Dacers reside--that at a breakfast meeting with the Dacers around 10 days after their father’s disappearance, he heard FVR henchman Joe Almonte “consoling” the family that should they recover Dacer or “arrange” for his release, he would be spirited out to the US to make it appear that he was still missing.
Strangely, eight years since that episode, Almonte has never reacted nor has this angle ever been properly looked into. According to the same item, “Almonte earlier came out with a letter in which Dacer wrote apprehensions over drawing the ire of Joseph Estrada and former PNP chief Panfilo Lacson.” But where did he get that letter?
The next item was my Tribune column a few days after that exposé entitled, “Investigate Almonte,” which similarly saw print in Bishop Ted Bacani’s column. It echoed the calls we made for people to uncover mysteries behind other brutal incidents like the December 2000 “F-I-D-E-L” LRT bombing, where a security guard of the LRT and the father of bombing victim Crisel Acusin claimed that bomb-sniffing dogs were pulled out a week before the attack, which was also no different from the Al Ghozi murder under police custody, as with other unsolved cases by shadowy military and police operators.
These questions become even more relevant because FVR was at the Manila Hotel, where he allegedly was supposed to meet Dacer for a breakfast meeting. Yet, only after an hour of waiting, he already announced that Dacer had disappeared and called police. Let me emphasize: After only an hour.
What’s equally strange is that the announcement was made even before the Dacer family suspected of anything amiss. I then recall thinking that FVR should be a primary suspect because Dacer knew many of his secrets and it was well known too that Dacer had already reconciled with his “kumpareng” Erap, just days prior to that meeting.
Such a suspicion is further bolstered by incontrovertible historical facts which point to their efforts at destabilizing and deposing the elected Estrada. The F-I-D-E-L bombings may have been blamed on the usual suspects--Muslim “terrorists”--but when one asks, Qui bono (or who benefits), the finger always points to Edsa II beneficiaries.
The ruthlessness and sinister efficiency of these groups--powerful police and military individuals (and syndicates) over whom FVR has great “influence”--are now well known. However, we must not forget another big beneficiary of the destabilization of Estrada--the US corporatocracy. As we know, FVR has close links to the Carlyle Group, a chief purveyor of US imperialism today.
Next on the list was Ninez Cacho-Olivares’ article of April 16, 2001, which raised a number of crucial questions: “First, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announces to the public that the case has been solved… (but then) a bag of charred bones… still had to undergo DNA testing for positive verification… Then one witness showed the media a pair of brown loafers which he claimed belonged to Dacer… It was later discovered that (it) could not have belonged to Dacer or Corbito. And forensics still had not determined whether the charred bones were human bones…
“But NBI chief Reynaldo Wycoco continued to peddle the story and came up with the ridiculous claim that in the case of Dacer, the corpus delicti was not the body but the killing itself. Duh!… It was clear that the Arroyo government, its Justice Department and the NBI were more than willing to frame their foes with a murder rap… Other questions (thus) arise: Why was the skull never found? Why weren’t other pieces of jewelry, which Dacer normally wears, found in the site where he and his driver were said to have been burned to a crisp four months ago?…
“A priest suddenly surfaced and claimed he had overheard Fidel Ramos’ man, Jose Almonte (doing what we narrated above)… The same priest also went to the ‘murder’ site and concluded that given the report that Dacer and his driver were burned to a crisp, the site would have shown a bigger burnt area. Not too long after, the children of Dacer suddenly called a press conference claiming they have accepted the fact that their father is dead, as they had the bones and dentures checked by a private physician. They also claimed that found in the same murder site were the dentures as well as pieces of jewelry that belonged to their father… How is it possible for the family to have gotten another set of dentures and bones after the NBI had already been through the site with its ‘evidence’?… What does this make too, of the Dacer children who claim to have found the jewelry in the same murder site… (Were) the murderers… generous enough to give away a pair of shoes… (and) the jewelry Dacer was wearing?”
Besides all these unanswered questions, we ask: Why has the US opened the way for the “return” of Mancao and Dumlao at this time? Of course, we know that the US has always meddled in our affairs. But why this particular case?
Reliable military intelligence sources we talked to insist that the affidavits of Mancao and Dumlao will implicate Estrada, as what Michael Ray Aquino’s will later do. They are convinced that this campaign, which involves the US, vividly betrays Uncle Sam’s fear of Estrada as being the only serious obstacle to its 2010 plan of installing a new Gloria Arroyo puppet--in the guise of someone invited to Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast no less? (More next column…)
Monday, March 16, 2009
President Estrada had kept silent in the face of treacherous attempts to sully his image by connecting him to the Dacer-Corbito case. It was only late last week that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada rose to defend his father and his family’s name, denying any truth to the insinuations. President Estrada himself finally spoke out and said that the Estrada family does not stoop to such deeds. Truth to tell, I have been going around among friends and acquaintances in different social circles, getting feedback on the Arroyo regime’s underhanded campaign to taint Estrada. One career government official and former newsman told me that Dacer and Estrada had always had good relations, and he also knew that days before Dacer’s disappearance, the two had met on the friendliest of terms. “Estrada is not the type,” many invariably opined.
The big surprise was Berroya stepping forward to clear President Estrada in the Dacer-Corbito slay, a speculation that has persisted to a limited degree over the past decade. It is a very significant turn of events as far as Estrada is concerned and a very big setback to those who have long hoped to implicate him by hook or by crook.
Truth has triumphed, as it has always had throughout the trials of Estrada in and outside the court. Although I still can’t fathom why Berroya would come to the defense of someone whom he once had accused of unjustly persecuting and prosecuting him, and sending him to prison.
One said that Berroya is simply narrowing down the target to his greater nemesis, a former colleague in the police force and the Philippine Military Academy--his tormentor Sen. Ping Lacson. But I argued, that still does not explain why Berroya had to go out of his way to help Estrada clear his name. Linggoy Alcuaz opined that it may be because Berroya is investing in goodwill with President Estrada in case the latter really does get back to power in the 2010 elections. But Estrada is not yet a clear frontrunner as he was in the 1998 elections, so isn’t Berroya betting too early in the game? Or could it be that the power of truth and Estrada’s humility simply had something to do with it?
The past decade chronicled President Joseph E. Estrada’s rise and fall, demonization and reconstitution, exaltation and humiliation, incarceration and liberation. The final outcome of it all, though, has been the triumph of truth--that Estrada was not only not as bad as his rabid detractors made him out to be, or that Gloria Arroyo and many others turned out to be worse, but that he is actually better than most ever thought he could ever be. A string of “mea culpas” started with Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias’ birthday mass for Erap in April 2006, six years after his incarceration, which was followed by many others, and climaxed with President Cory Aquino’s apology to Erap at Joe de Venecia’s book launching recently. Estrada’s truth became a beacon for honest hearts because Erap’s humility disarms even those who otherwise would have remained his enemies.
Erap’s humility was born of his exultant rise and ignominious fall, and final vindication by his unflinching faith in truth and justice. “Six years and six months,” Estrada would often say--that was how long he was incarcerated. Yet it was the price he had to pay for his humility, made even worse because his son had to join him in detention for several years, with his family insulted and disgraced without justifiable cause. Rage gave way to enlightenment over the years, and Estrada, upon reflecting on the past, would often say: “I was overconfident.” Enlightenment then became forgiveness, which grew to become humility, and such humility made even his sworn critics laugh at his self-deprecating humor, and melted even the hardest of hearts. Maybe Berroya is just like the rest of those who have been touched by this and succumbed to the plea of truth, to speak it and save the innocent.
In the months to come, we will be facing an opportunity for peaceful change and transition toward a new government leadership. I don’t know what better leader this nation can have than one who has shown and shared the power of humility with the rest of the nation--healing it with the balm of truth and compassion--while promising wisdom not only in our disengagement from the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, but also in our quashing of the decades-long plutocracy of the global and local oligarchy. I hope we shall have in the nation’s service, this wisdom and power from truth and humility, to prevent the redux of a younger Gloria Arroyo by way of a plutocracy-backed puppet.
(Tune in to 1098AM: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. / Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. / Saturday, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with Bp. Deogracias Yñiguez and Jimmie Regalario on “Genuine Change That We Need;” also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)
Friday, March 13, 2009
That paper was prescient in describing exactly what the present collapse of the western financial system has wrought, which is dragging the rest of the world except for Asian countries like China that are resisting this western contagion.
Fast-forward to today’s financial looting in the US , Professor Noriel Roubini declares, “The process of socialising the private losses from this crisis has already moved many liabilities of the private sector onto the books of the sovereign. At some point a sovereign bank may crack, in which case the ability of the government to credibly commit to act as a backstop for the financial system--including deposit guarantees--could come unglued.”
My friend Nonoy has made plans to come back home to Manila within the year as his entire family hates everything about the US right now. Although he had decided about it much earlier, even before the fall of Bear Stearns, Lehman’s and AIG, the collapse just strengthened his resolve.
Nonoy’s experience reminds me of my advice to my family: Not to run away from our problems but to solve them; not to seek the clean, manicured roads and parks of the Mall of America but to someday make our own “Philippine Public Mall” at the heart of our Metropolis--that is, after we junk the corrupt elite of this society for better national leadership.
Nonoy, like many other Filipinos, is looking forward to the 2010 elections. But with the unresolved questions about the integrity of our Comelec commissioners, more so the Automated Elections System (AES) pushed by its chairman, and his inability to assure the integrity of the elections--arguing that he has no control over many factors, it is now highly doubtful if the 2010 elections will produce credible results that will reflect the wisdom of the Filipino people.
Systems expert Manuel Alcuaz raised important arguments about Melo’s AES: It is 10 times more expensive than the Abalos P1.5-billion voting system; plus, it won’t work. The shading of small circles in place of the writing of candidates’ names alone already makes the manufacture of pre-filled, fraudulent ballots 15 times faster, and there is no longer any verifiability since any handwriting by which we can compare and expose multiple ballot-fillings by one hand will be non-existent.
As yet, the Comelec has not instituted any audit procedures for these machines. While it boasts that its voting machines will photograph each ballot for security purposes, this merely increases the cost and eliminates for consideration other machines that do not carry this superfluous feature.
Since election returns (ERs) are read and canvassed before hundreds of watchers in the old manual system, with this proposed electronic mode of transmission, the integrity of ERs is not assured at all.
Furthermore, the Comelec does not provide for transparency and accountability in its electronic transmissions to the municipal level or in its provincial certificates of canvass (COCs) to the national canvassers. It merely claims that national results will be known in 3 to 4 days. But isn’t it more important to gauge whether those results are true or not?
Alcuaz concludes: “In Comelec we trust? Don’t. We will suffer a double whammy! More than P10 billion will be wasted and rampant electronic dagdag-bawas may take place.”
Another computer expert, Obet Versola, says: “Automated election systems tend to be much less transparent than manual systems… Errors continue to persist… (and) automation does not address the root causes of electoral fraud… (In) the US for example, citizens are becoming increasingly concerned about the trustworthiness of voting machines and their results.”
Versola thus prescribes a double entry tabulation for both automated and manual elections, where the number of allocated ballots is listed in one column, and cast, unused, spoiled, and missing ballots in another, with all the totals of the left and right columns having to match.
Such advice, unfortunately, won’t matter, given Comelec’s attitude of shunning experts with a track record of integrity and reliability, along with its arbitrariness--as seen in its unilateral advancement of the date for the filing of candidacies (which everyone sees as a move to bar the possible run of President Joseph Estrada).
What’s worse: The flaws of Melo’s machines are so obvious that some believe they’re designed to lead to a failure of elections upon which Gloria Arroyo will declare for herself a transition government.
I still don’t know what to tell Nonoy about his hopes for this country. There’s no guarantee that life will smell of sampaguitas when he comes back, but I will be together with him in his sufferings, just as I hope that he too will join those who are striving for genuine change. The year 2010 is merely a tactical situation toward our strategic goal of “The Last Revolution.” To lay the groundwork, we must continue to expand the awareness of both the middle class and the masa about the people’s struggle versus the oligarchy, and of our need to install a populist, nationalist leadership for the reconstruction of society, for the “cooperativization” of our nation’s wealth, and for the democratization of power.
(Tune in to 1098AM: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. / Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. / Saturday, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Like wolves or sharks going for the kill, the Philippine oligarchy has once again descended upon the power industry; this time for its piece de resistance—Meralco. With its owners weakened after their face-off with Malacañang and the global financial collapse, a hovering dark angel is now about to capture this luscious prey in whole. But, just as quickly, a vulture has also swooped down from the perches of
Meralco has had the lion’s share of the Philippine power industry with its control of up to 60 percent of the country’s most lucrative distribution franchise. It enjoys the highest prices of industrial electricity in the entire Asian region, and is second only to
Certainly, this predatory battle for the control of Meralco is all about these enormous profits--profits that are unmatched by any other businesses in the world, and way better than the menacing drugs trade because of its specter of legality. Question is: Why are we giving all these excessively rich profits to these predators when Meralco is a public utility and is paid for by consumers?
I am afraid that the Filipino may have become hopelessly resigned to the idea of allowing the oligarchy to exploit our public utilities for their personal gain. I hope this short article will help rekindle public indignation.
Just recall how Meralco shares were apparently crashed by the largest government stakeholder to lower the base price for the entry of new bids. Now that share prices are rising to irrational levels because of this frenzy, what does it mean for Filipino electricity consumers? Will a new dominant management mean lower rates or, as I believe, will we just end up with even higher rates after the battle for control is over? Of course, the new winners will have to recoup their investments fast!
It is in this light that we have to see the entire energy sector being cut up for various factions of the oligarchy. In fact, as large a prize as Meralco (or even larger) is Transco, which has been awarded to the Carlyle Group-China State Grid-Monte Oro consortium, with the last owned by a crony capitalist cum port services operator who charges the highest rates in the world.
Despite having these fat chunks of the unimaginably lucrative energy industry divvied up among the oligarchs, contentment is still far beyond reach as they crave for more by concocting the myth that a power shortage looms within the next two years if the country doesn’t tax consumers again for the revival of the mothballed nuclear power plant!
And they believe that this con game, which started with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira)--made easier by the intertwining control of profits from the power industry with control of political power--can go on without end?
Edsa I saw the transfer of Meralco and other formerly public or quasi-public power assets to fully private hands, and the beneficial owners became the power behind the throne in Malacañang. Edsa II saw this rising to even unprecedented heights; that is, until Gloria Arroyo found a new ally, with a common protégé they can groom and “say cheese” with till Kingdom come.
Even prior to Edsa II, this column has been almost a lone voice in anticipating events and problems that would face the nation and the world. As I have warned about the fraud that Gloria Arroyo was to be, as with the dire impacts of the Epira (in its many incarnations), and as I’ve hammered into Philippine nomenclature John Perkins’ “corporatocracy” to alert the nation to the perils of the overarching power of financial cabals, along with many others, I am informing everyone once more of another danger that lies ahead. And it is more of the same privatization and corporatization of our basic utilities, and the grooming of the oligarchs' surrogate young politicians to be a new Gloria Arroyo, which, if left unchallenged and unchanged, will doom us all.
Today, I pin my hopes on middle class forces that have had many rude awakenings--from the shock of Gloria Arroyo dashing their false hopes, to that of “venerated” financial icons cheating them of their educational funds and life savings, to the crash of the US financial system--supposedly the paradigm of “corporate responsibility,” down to the failures of globalization, liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. These forces, as gallantly typified by Mr. Phillip Piccio, are the ones who can lead the country to adopt genuine professional and social principles that are dedicated to the welfare of the people, over and above profits.
If these forces help liberate public utility services such as power, water, toll ways, and financial services from oligarchic control; and convert these into consumer cooperatives with socialized rates and people-driven management, then we would have successfully sent the message that “The People are not food for predators!” loud and clear.
(Tune in to 1098AM: Monday to Friday, / Monday, Wednesday, Friday, / Saturday, ; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, with computer expert Mr. Mano Alcuaz on “Evaluating Melo’s Voting Machines;” also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Democratic jargon saturates our national news but very little is discussed about its principle’s very foundations. All those talk about the Edsa “people power” revolutions, the 2010 elections, as well as, who will be the best candidate for president are all meaningless unless the cornerstone of a truly democratic edifice is present--economic democracy.
Economic democracy, or the power of the people over “the production, development and management of their own material wealth,” is the sine qua non for genuine political democracy. In a society such as ours where the economy is directly controlled by a dozen families, there is no hope for genuine democracy; only an oligarchy or plutocracy by a super-wealthy few.
While it is true that a plutocracy under neo-colonial subjugation has always been the prevailing political-economic reality in the Philippines after World War II, there have been ebbs and flows in our economic democracy--or in efforts toward it.
The two relatively fundamental facets of economic democracy--national economic sovereignty and popular economic independence--have seen meager successes in RP’s modern history.
During the period of President Carlos P. Garcia’s “Filipino First Policy,” national economic sovereignty was purposefully asserted--an effort which could have made us the first Asean “Tiger economy.” This was later aborted when the US and the American Manufacturers Association succeeded in their $200,000-support for Garcia’s rival, Diosdado Macapagal.
Macapagal then brought Philippine economic democracy to its lowest point with his “Decontrol” program that removed currency and capital controls on the nation’s money, paving the way for luxury importations to quadruple RP’s national debt to a high of $360 million from Garcia’s $80 million while leading to the “deconstruction” of our budding manufacturing sector.
Marcos beat Macapagal alright, and later, Sergio Osmeña Jr., in very expensive elections. And it appears that he planned to govern in two phases: the first, with an economic program based on a combination of Japanese war reparations for construction of transport and other infrastructure, and IMF-WB funded programs for tourism facilities, upon which he piggybacked the second phase, which was to be his national development program for economic self-sufficiency.
This supposed second phase still held out the best prospects since Garcia’s “Filipino first Policy” for the nation to keep pace with the rising tiger cubs in the region-- Taiwan , South Korea , and Singapore --while we were still ahead of Malaysia and Thailand .
A national oil company was established; a diversified energy program stressing indigenous and alternative sources was initiated (geothermal energy started under Marcos, as were thousands of mini-hydros); cotton and ramie were being grown in Mindanao; synthetic textile fibers were spun by Filsyn; grapes were being grown in Cebu and Ilocos; integrated aluminum, copper and steel mills were commissioned; and in the economic crunch of 1983 after the Ninoy Aquino assassination, Marcos even instituted informal currency and capital controls through the so-called “Binondo Central Bank.”
Marcos’ fall meant the scuttling of the foundation of our economic sovereignty, and the privatization regimes of Aquino, Ramos and Arroyo gave away the state’s established strategic industries and public utilities--in oil, energy, power, telecommunications and water; in steel and copper; in shipbuilding--all toward the radical erosion of public ownership and control of the economy, to increase the concentration of economic power to the western-backed old economic elite, with familiar mestizo names like Lopez, Aboitiz, Alcantara, Razon, and the almighty Ayalas.
The Tsinoy tycoons who had equal footing with the rest during Marcos’ time, lost ground when he fell; but resilient as they are, they were later restored equal footing with the traditional elite.
The 2010 elections will be influenced as never before by the economic oligarchs. Among the front-runners are two puppets of a consumer products magnate, a real estate billionaire, a scion of another old real estate family, a talking head of a media conglomerate, with the rest controlled by a combination of two or more of the oligarchs.
Only President Estrada stands out as a truly independent candidate because, as veteran politician and former Ambassador Ernie Maceda says, he doesn’t have to spend billions to win. At the same time, since the middle class and the masses are never as dependent on government “stimulus” spending as before because of the collapsed economy, the sway of money will be even more powerful than ever.
Popular economic independence, meanwhile, can be best realized in smaller scales, down to the community and personal level. Striving toward one’s individual sovereignty and independence, and maintaining a degree of political independence, is an achievement in itself.
Thus, I maintain a diversified source of livelihood for my family--from a small business to a few consultancies, some media projects, and a farm where I am beginning to grow crops.
Anticipating a worst case scenario the next five years, I am also moving to a smaller residence near work to cut down on the costs of living, particularly, power and fuel. Such a frugal lifestyle may not be easily accepted by my older children who’ve lived in the best of times, but the younger ones adapt more easily.
As a media practitioner, I have maintained my political and journalistic independence because of my comparative economic independence.
With economic skills and the right leadership, the Filipino people can fast become sovereign and enjoy genuine democracy. In certain cases, a slow evolution through collective empowerment also works.
Ralph Nader, for instance, reports that despite the financial crash, the remaining American financial institutions that are doing well are the credit unions. He says in February 26, 2009’s CounterPunch: 85 million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers… 91 percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth… They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses.”
Taking all these together, a personal and community drive for economic independence will best ensure a better, genuine, and politically democratic society for our nation.
(Tune in to 1098AM: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. / Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. / Saturday, 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)