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Misreading the news media

Denmark’s Ambassador to the Philippines said he “reads” the media, but has apparently been misreading them. He said “some media” are “systematically negative” in their reporting on the government, but his subsequent statements sounded as if he was describing most, or even all of them.

The dimensions of impunity

Those Filipinos aware of the record-breaking looting of the public treasury by the Marcos kleptocracy are hailing the Sandiganbayan’s conviction of Imelda Marcos on seven counts of graft. They had already lost hope that any of the billions diverted to Swiss bank accounts, real estate, and jewelry and art collections in Bern, Paris and other world capitals will ever be recovered, or that any form of legal retribution against the thieves is forthcoming, but have been heartened by the graft court’s decision 27 years after charges were filed against the Marcos family matriarch.

Enrile before history

What the media described as an “apology” last Oct. 24 from former Marcos Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile was in the same league as that of Marcos’s daughter Imee’s and son Bongbong’s.

Credible — or a nuisance?

A “nuisance candidate,” to summarize what Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code says, is someone who files a certificate of candidacy (CoC) with the intention of mocking the electoral process or putting it in disrepute; whose name is similar to that of other registered candidates and whom the electorate can therefore mistake for him or her; or who has no real intention to run for the office for which he or she filed a CoC.

The passing of elite democracy

The filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) by those running for the Senate ended two days ago on Oct. 17. As usual, the media focused their attention on high-profile and so-called “nuisance candidates.” But they failed to mention that the outcome of the May 2019 elections, particularly for the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be crucial to the survival of this rumored democracy.


The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in elaboration of the AFP chief-of-staff’s tale of a “Red October” leftist-rightist conspiracy to oust President Rodrigo Duterte from power, said last week that the country’s university and college students are being “brainwashed” into activism and radicalism.

Trapped in the 17th century

It’s been two years and three months into the six-year term of the provincial despotism that became a national affliction in 2016 by promising to deliver the changes that have long eluded the Filipino people. It should be evident by now that it is at the very least underperforming -- or at the worst, rapidly bringing the entire country to ruin.

With friends like these…

In the evening of Feb. 22, 1986, then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos announced that they were withdrawing their support for the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It was only a few hours after AFP Chief of Staff Fabian Ver had discovered and foiled their plan to storm Malacañang, oust Marcos, and replace him with a military junta.

Method in its madness

Despite the bluster of President Rodrigo Duterte and his equally loud lieutenants, yes-men and accomplices in the Cabinet, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, his regime is in reality completely without anything that even approximates a rational and coherent platform of governance. It is making things up as it goes along, and patching together ad hoc attempts to make it seem as if it were addressing the urgent problems that haunt the nation, most of which are of its own making.

The enemy within

By revealing that it was Solicitor General Jose Calida who “did the research” on which he based his proclamation that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s 2011 amnesty is void ab initio, President Rodrigo Duterte demonstrated once again how successfully his regime has been undermining itself. Calida had earlier denied having anything to do with the proclamation. But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Calida had asked for his help, and that he directed him to the office that had custody of Trillanes’ amnesty papers.

The trouble with dictatorships

NO MATTER their official justification for being — whether “so the trains will run on time,” “to save the Republic and reform society,” or “to rid the country of crime and illegal drugs” — dictatorships are premised on the presumption that the dictator knows best and everyone else is ignorant and incompetent.

‘Moving on’

FERDINAND “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., then an outgoing senator, ran for the vice-presidency in 2016.

Philippine train wreck

LIVING in the Philippines has always been challenging and difficult for many Filipinos. But never since the Marcos dictatorship has it been more dangerous than today for Lumad, dissenters, women, human rights defenders and the poor.

Ship of fools

WERE they fools duped into boarding the “federalist ship,” and drafting and defending a constitution that would supposedly bring into fruition President Rodrigo Duterte’s oft-repeated claim that a shift to a federal form of government would accelerate the development of the country’s poorest regions? At least one member of the Duterte-appointed Consultative Committee (Con-Com), who helped write the draft that’s now in Congress, is beginning to think so.

Death wish

No, he doesn’t want to die; he just wants others put to death.

The ignorance that kills

Within months of his coming to power in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte’s profanities, tirades, threats, outrageous remarks about women, human rights, heads of foreign states, and what he was actually doing, had called the attention of international media -- in Japan, the United States and Europe -- to what was happening in the Philippines.

Theater of the Absurd

A television comedy director was supposed to direct it, and did hold at least one rehearsal over the weekend. But the directorial prowess of Joyce Bernal wasn’t in much evidence except in President Rodrigo Duterte’s subdued though less than forthright State of the Nation Address (SONA) this year.

Better silenced than silent

Some 21.9 million Filipinos, notes the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s Reforming Philippine Anti-Poverty Policy (Manila: NAPC Secretariat, 2017), are officially considered poor.

Offender of the faith

Before Rodrigo Duterte, no Philippine president, as morally challenged as some of them may have been, had ever disparaged Catholicism and Christianity, much less cursed the God Christians, Muslims, and Jews worship in common. Even Ferdinand Marcos, to whose overthrow in 1986 both the institutional Church as well as its activists contributed, did not take that path, although among the victims of his terrorist regime were nuns, priests, pastors, and other religious workers.

Destroyer of worlds

In a far from modest and less than truthful description of itself, the Philippine government, said a Malacañang statement, is “headed by someone who has strong political will, decisive leadership, and compassion for his fellow men,” hence the “fruitful” first two years of the six-year Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

Standby regime

President Rodrigo Duterte has denied ordering the arrest of “istambay” (the plural form of Filipino nouns is not formed with an “s”) despite the Philippine National Police’s detention of over 7,000 mostly young people, and the death, most likely through a police beating, of at least one individual who had stepped shirtless out of his home to get a cellphone “load” only to be arrested and jailed.

A matter of time

The killing of three priests over the last six months -- of Fr. Marcelito Paez last December, 2017, Fr. Mark Ventura in April, and Fr. Richmond Nilo this June -- has provoked both outrage as well as fears that it is part of the Duterte regime’s campaign to silence its critics.

Dependence Day

With no sense of irony, it seems, did the United States “grant” Philippine independence on the same date as its own independence day, nearly half a century after Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898, and the First Republic was established in Malolos, Bulacan on Jan. 23, 1899.

Surveillance state

Upon the declaration of martial law in 1972 and in the 14 years that followed, the Marcos terror regime arrested, abducted, and detained over a hundred thousand political activists; artists, writers and critical journalists; teachers, professors, lawyers and other professionals; student, labor and peasant leaders; Muslims and indigenous people; and members of the opposition and other regime critics.

Divide into two

His attacks on the press are “repulsive,” and “he should be the figure of suspicion, not the press,” when it comes to “fake news.” A president who “constantly deflects and distorts and distracts -- who must find someone else to blame -- is charting a very dangerous path.”

After the Supreme Court — the Senate?

The newly elected president of the Senate has been accused of plagiarism, of disrespecting women, of cluelessness about the most pressing issues of public...

It’s not just about Sereno

The unprecedented removal through quo warranto proceedings of Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno from her post isn’t only about her, or solely about the...

‘Protection’s’ price

President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that China has promised to protect the Philippines from external threats immediately raises two questions. Who or what these external threats...

Proving RSF right

Four media-related events occurred within days of each other last week. One was the release by the press freedom watch group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF...

Just for laughs

The gulf between what President Rodrigo Duterte says and what he does is raising already dangerous levels of cynicism about government and governance even...

Made in China

In the aftermath of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar announced the availability in that country...

Mere anarchy

His defenders and partisans, as well as the trolls his regime pays out of public funds, describe President Rodrigo Duterte’s “leadership” as “decisive.” They’re referring...

Two countries called Philippines

There are two countries that go by the name “Philippines.” The real, historical one is home to the Filipino millions, nearly half of whom...


Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced last weekend that his office will soon launch a “big project.” He was referring to a program to promote...

Blaming the victim

They said they weren’t pressured -- nor, presumably, bought and paid-for, promised any favors or gifts, or intimidated -- to make it. But the...

Warning to power

The International Criminal Court (ICC) isn’t as useless as President Rodrigo Duterte described it when he learned it was looking into the possibility of...

Decline and fall

President Rodrigo Duterte described the civilian-military mutiny known as the “People Power Revolution” that overthrew the Marcos terror regime 32 years ago as among...

No better time than never

Former chief justice Reynato Puno says this is the “better time” to shift to a federal form of government. He didn’t say what he...

Dictatorship and its delusions

President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that he’s a dictator, and his obvious pride in that fact, were premised on at least three assumptions. The first is...

Against the few for the many

The admonition that University of the Philippines students shouldn’t be protesting in the streets but should instead be in their classrooms, and that by...

The worst of times

“The best in the world” was how former chief justice Hilario Davide, Jr. described during a Senate hearing the 1987 Philippine Constitution that he...

Black Friday: Only the beginning

Any regime that calls itself democratic would have erred on the side of press freedom and free expression if there were any doubts about...

The poverty of anti-poverty policy

Almost every Philippine regime since that of Diosdado Macapagal has at least paid lip service to ending the poverty that in varying degrees of...

Conspiracy 2018

A plot is afoot to stop the holding of the 2019 midterm elections. But that already base scheme doesn’t stop there. Once constitutional amendments are approved,...

Truth telling in Duterte land

Almost every government official has the same message whenever the birth or death anniversaries of the country’s heroes are marked: it is to remember...