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Tag: To Take A Stand

Campus safety and security

I spoke last week at a summit for campus safety, security, and disaster resilience. I called for a broad alliance of school stakeholders (administrators, faculty, staff, employees, safety/security officers and students) and partners (military, police, media, local officials, emergency response organizations), to ensure readiness, mitigate risk, rapidly respond to emergencies, and skillfully manage crises.

Learning never ends

Who I am, what I’ve become and how I could yet be, can be traced back to my foundational years. I’m the product of my upbringing at home, formal education and self-education... to this day.

Hong Kong’s long march

Hong Kong has captivated the world these past 15 weeks, awed by the tenacity of its citizens to live free and stay free. But this has forced the dragon, which we had hoped would evolve peacefully into a responsible global citizen and stabilizing force for good, to carefully weigh its options. Today, we liberally quote two respected thinkers — Alexander Neill and Shyam Saran — who have written of the risks that lie ahead. Mr. Neill is the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia-Pacific security, while Mr. Saran is a former Foreign Minister of India.

Heroism beckons

After three years, we need to undo, trash, and reset relations with China. Trust, sincerity, mutuality and reciprocity must define it. There’s a clear observable pattern of imperial abuse and coercion by China reported in media.

Divided by land, connected by sea

I just returned the other day from a trip to India on the invitation of Johnny Chotrani, Chair of the Philippine-India Business Council (PIBC) of which I’m a member. We met with the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Inc. (FICCI), and the Chamber of Indian Industry (CII). The trip had a dual purpose: it included matters pertaining to the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations (PCFR), which I chair, and where Johnny’s a member. I met with Philippihne Ambassador to India Dondon Bagatsing, our Defense Attaché and officials of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MFA).


Reliable sources have disclosed that Operation “Awakening the Believers” was rolled out globally in early July. Simultaneous attacks were launched in Syria, Libya, Mozambique, Somalia, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iraq. Islamic State Southeast Asia (ISEA) will allegedly follow suit with multiple coordinated attacks in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. The attacks will reportedly come in waves, first from July to September, then another wave till the end of the year. High value targets such as churches, hotels, malls, public transport, and other heavily populated areas are reportedly in their sights.

How much do we know about 21st century warfare?

For today’s column, I abridged an article entitled “A New Generation of Unrestricted Warfare” by David Barno and Nora Bensahel. Lt. General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.) is a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, and Dr. Nora Bensahel is a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, at the School of International Service at American University. Both also serve as non-resident Senior Fellows at the Atlantic Council.

ISIS on the comeback trail

On June 28, news filtered in from Indanan, Sulu that two suicide bombers had penetrated the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. As of the latest reports, eight people were killed (the two bombers, three soldiers, and three civilians); while 22 were wounded (12 soldiers and 10 civilians). The Islamic State East Asia Province (ISEAP) allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Chinese Maritime Militia

I’m directing this column to our national and local leaders whose duty is to defend the country, protect the people, and secure our natural resources. There’s a need to adapt mindsets to a deteriorating security situation in the South China Sea -- fueled by China’s spurious claims of “indisputable sovereignty” over this vital body of water -- by thinking, speaking, and acting as one united leadership to confront the external and internal threats to our national security.

Moving in the right direction

I’ve noted three positive directions being taken by President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration that points to legacy and a lighter load for the next administration.

Observations and telltale signs

A week after the e-lections, citizens are questioning its integrity. Just like before, we hear cries of “dagdag-bawas,” be it manual or electronic. But who has the smoking gun? Only telltale signs, so far, that aren’t admissible in court. It’s a given that some won hands down on their own merit and those who fell short of the mark. What we don’t know is the exact count, whether some winners are really losers and if some losers actually won.

Myth: a religious sect’s endorsement assures election

On April 30, I wrote in this space that a religious sect endorses only the candidates who the polls show to be likely winners. By so doing, it sustains the myth that its endorsement assures victory.

Surveys not useful in these times

I have written here after every election that the results bear out the surveys. The results of the 2013 midterm election for senators and the 2016 presidential election validated pollsters Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) and Pulse Asia’s forecasts.

Plowshares pounded from swords now cultivate economic growth

Almost 28 years ago, in September 1991, 11 senators rose on the Senate floor to warn of war, hunger, pestilence, and disease if the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America was rejected. Here are excerpts of their grim predictions.

Overdue time for educating Filipino voters

During episodes of DZMM’s series on senatorial candidates, the station’s field reporters asked ordinary folks in the streets who they would vote for senator. Many said they would vote for candidates who can provide jobs or access to housing while many others said they would choose candidates who can enforce the law. A few said they would choose candidates who can “fix” things if and when they find themselves in conflict with the law.

Vox populi, vox Dei?

Vox populi, vox Dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God, so let the people decide come election time, say personages of national stature.

What happened to the Edsa regime?

Whatever happened to the Edsa regime, UP Sociology Professor Randy David asked in his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on the eve of the 33rd anniversary of the Edsa Uprising. He was referring to the political order that was founded on February 25, 1986 when the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown by people power.

How Gloria Arroyo’s appointees in the Comelec and Supreme Court debased...

President Gloria Arroyo was prohibited by law to run for reelection in 2010. But in her lust for power, even if only a fraction of what she wielded as president, she decided to run for representative of the 2nd District of Pampanga. Her son Mikey, then the representative of the district, had to give way to his Mom as the candidate for the position.

Are the satisfaction ratings reported by Social Weather Stations valid?

Social Weather Stations’ fourth quarter 2018 survey found 54% satisfied and 17% dissatisfied with the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and 52% satisfied and 17% dissatisfied with the Cabinet as a whole.

Do satisfaction rating surveys provide useful information?

During episodes of DZMM TeleRadyo’s special on senatorial candidates, the station’s field reporters asked ordinary folks in the streets who they would vote for senator. Many said they would vote for candidates who can provide jobs or access to housing while many others said they would choose candidates who can enforce the law. A few said they would choose candidates who would extend assistance if and when they have to deal with government offices or when confronted by law.

The laughable quotes of 2018

I have cited in past columns the most laughable statements in 2016 and 2017 of high profile public officials of the Rodrigo Duterte Administration. Many of the regular jesters in the Court of DU30 stayed on in 2018 to provide again much comic relief with their absurd, vacuous, or incredible utterances. While two of them have left the court, their replacements proved to be as capable as they drew much laughter with their ludicrous pronouncements. Here are what I consider the most laughable statements of high-ranking officials in 2018.

The new chief justice begs for acceptance, love, and support

“I am an accidental chief justice. I know that you have expected maybe another individual to be appointed to this office,” said Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin when he spoke before justices and employees of the Supreme Court in the first flag-raising ceremony attended by him as chief justice. So he asked his colleagues: “Please accept me. I ask you to welcome me, to love me, to support me, to help me in my 11 months.”

The President’s men: a bunch of meek, docile, and intimidated people

Just as he had promised to change the system established by the elitist leaders of the past during his campaign for the presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte has remained the same man that he was when he was the mayor of Davao City. He has kept the simple lifestyle that he lived for 22 years as Mayor Digong.

Brexit, Bremain, Bruckyou, Bremorse

While researching on the subject matter to understand the motivations behind it, I came across this piece from the Daily Pnut. Below is the abridged version of this amusing analysis.

On the recent surveys favorable to Duterte

Detractors of President Rodrigo Duterte cannot believe the findings of Social Weather Stations (SWS) that 70% of adult Filipinos are satisfied with the President’s performance and that the country is in the right direction despite the high prices of basic commodities, the drug trade still thriving, and incidents of crime as rampant as before.

Special Forces combat mission teaches 11 brilliant lessons in leadership

Writer Jeff Haden spoke to a number of Special Forces operators about perseverance, developing the right mindset, and how the only limits we really have are self-imposed -- adaptability, attitude, mental toughness -- and that in life there’s no finish line. One of them, Herbert Thompson, a Special Forces (Green Beret) team leader shared a story of a combat mission he undertook replete with leadership lessons.

Arroyo is again acting like she’s the prime minister

On Oct. 17, 2018, House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Arroyo spoke before the delegates to the 139th International Parliamentary Union (IPU) General Assembly at the Centre for International Conference Geneve in Geneva, Switzerland. Mrs. Arroyo was head of the Philippine delegation to the IPU assembly.

Why the hype on the Communist threat?

One of the lies told by Juan Ponce Enrile in that pathetic video interview by Bongbong Marcos was that Bongbong’s father imposed martial law to save the country from the Communist threat. Actually, he imposed martial law to retain power beyond 1973 when his second term was to expire.

Is there a silver lining to the gloom and doom?

Filipinos are being destabilized by all kinds of risks -- political, safety and security, economic and external. It’s not that we’re new to it but we’ve never been through all that’s happening at the same time in rising intensity, real or imagined. What am I referring to? Hang on to your seats as I run through my list.

Attempt to revise martial law story backfires

If Bongbong Marcos had hoped to present a revised version of the story of the martial law years by conducting that scripted video interview of Juan Ponce Enrile, he instead provoked an across-the-board retelling of what really happened during that dark period in our history.

We’re stuck in a time and mind warp

As a direct witness to history spanning 48 years since my graduation from college, I can say that we haven’t learned from history’s valuable lessons.

Try to remember the Septembers of 1972 and 2009

It rained every day from September 1 to 19, 1972, placing Metro Manila and Central Luzon under water. Hundreds of lives were lost and crops worth millions were destroyed. The impact of the devastation on the economy wrought havoc on the already beleaguered Ferdinand Marcos presidency.

T for Trouble

President Rodrigo Duterte claimed last Saturday, Sept. 8, that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is colluding with the Liberal Party (yellows) and the communists (reds) in efforts to topple his government by October. Trillanes, meanwhile, remains camped out in his Senate office as of this writing to avoid arrest following the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 572 (PP572).

De Castro will fortify SC’s character

“THE next president gets to appoint 10 Supreme Court justices. The wrong choice might mean that black becomes white and white becomes black because they can interpret. And that’s why we need to be very, very careful. It will change the entire character of our judicial system. It will, therefore, change the entire character of the rules and regulations under which we live as a society,” Presidential candidate Mar Roxas told members of the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines in March 2016.

Defense buildup

As far back as 1991, I was vocal about investing in our defense should the government decide to let go of the US bases on account of a provision in the 1987 Constitution mandating “no foreign troops on Philippine soil.” Up to that point the US was our defense shield, and if we were to give it up then we would have to be responsible for the country’s defense.

Will they remain astride the tiger?

When Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo sent to Congress a position paper opposing an administration proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal liability, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that Cabinet members who do not agree with the President’s policies or directives must resign. He said, “I just reminded the secretaries that they are the alter ego of the President. Now, if they don’t agree with the President, they might as well tender their resignation. Because as Cabinet secretaries, you cannot contradict the views of the President,”


WHEN government and society come together to address a national problem, the “whole-of-nation” principle is at work. It epitomizes national unity, solidarity, and teamwork. This is what Rotary Club of Manila’s (RCM) “One Rotary, One Philippines, One for Marawi” attempts to do — harnessing private sector companies and civic groups to partner with government agencies to address humanitarian assistance needs of people impacted by armed conflict and natural disasters.

Gloria Arroyo, master of Machiavellian politics

Ms. Gloria Arroyo said she has never entertained the idea even if she is in her last 11 months as representative of Pampanga’s second district.

National Security Strategy 2018

The government recently published a National Security Strategy (NSS) for the first time, prepared by the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon and quarterbacked by Undersecretary Vic Agdamag. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the document on May 16, which outlines the administration’s plans for a “secure, peaceful, modern, and prosperous Philippines.

President Duterte failed to do the impossible: end contractualization and ‘endo’

As this is being written (hours before the State of the Nation Address), a massive protest rally is being mounted to denounce President Rodrigo Duterte for failing to fulfill his campaign promise to put an end to contractualization and “endo.”

Kwentas klaras

Am I for Federalism? My answer is a qualified yes if it meets certain preconditions. No partisan color here, just a citizen’s assessment of what is best for the country given our present circumstances from over half a century of observation and experience.

Not quite the right laban

Laban Gilas Pilipinas! Puso! That is the fighting motto of the Philippine basketball team. Though the odds be great or small, but with heart so strong, Gilas Pilipinas will fight to win over all.

The South China Sea game

Panos Mourdoukoutas, a contributor to Forbes magazine, wrote a commentary entitled “China will lose the South China Sea game.” Let me quote him verbatim in the succeeding paragraphs.

Jose Rizal’s warnings

The many feature articles that appeared in various publications last week in commemoration of Jose Rizal’s 157th birth anniversary brought to mind the series of articles he wrote in La Solidaridad from 1889 to 1890 on the Philippines 100 years from then. We quote passages from the articles which have significance to our times.

One more bucket list item accomplished

Ten years ago, my family took our first ever cruise to celebrate three milestones: my 38th wedding anniversary, 60th birthday and my youngest daughter’s 28th birthday. We chose Alaska via Vancouver (first time for all of us) and, on our return spent a week in Whistler, a skier’s destination, before returning home. Not sure now if we flew PAL or Cathay Pacific, but our cruise line was Royal Caribbean.