THE ART OF CONDITIONING THE FILIPINOS’ MINDS

Rodrigo Duterte’s entry into the national political arena, and his eventual ascension to the presidency, opened the floodgates to numerous powerful assertions that changed, and are still changing, the way most Filipinos view and accept things. His repeated public pronouncements on various issues have managed to condition our minds to abandon some deeply entrenched values and beliefs to accommodate his largely unconventional and radical ideas and views. The questions thus currently burning a hole in our minds are these: “When his term ends, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be? Or would we even want that to happen?”

The following are Duterte’s claims and proclamations that many of his supporters are gobbling up—greedily, naively, insatiably.

 

The country seriously needs change, and it can only be acquired through Duterte.

An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.

Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the most marginalized members of our society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed, for the longest time, by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians whose only interests were to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope – our Messiah – to that ever-elusive change.

As much as I don’t want to come off as the previous administration’s mouthpiece, much less its apologist, but history would tell us that President Aquino is largely credited for stabilizing our economy when most in the region was stumbling or falling apart. (President Duterte himself admitted that there was no need to fix the country’s economy left by PNoy because it was doing well.) PNoy even enjoyed a 57% satisfaction rating days before he vacated Malacañang – the highest among the ratings of all the post-Martial Law presidents.

Even the die-hard LP supporters have to admit though that, like the other presidents before him, PNoy had his shortcomings and lapses in judgment, some with graver consequences than others. But I would like to believe that the man served his country the best way he knew how. He just needed a few more years to allow the people to fully enjoy the proverbial fruits of his labor, thus, his appeal for continuity.

But, no, we couldn’t give him that.

How could we when we were already conditioned to clamor for change? We were made to believe that waiting did not have to be an option when someone else could very well make our lives better in an instant. Yes, we, the most gullible of the lot, fell for all those promises of quick results – hook, line and sinker. It didn’t matter one iota that most of those promises were ludicrous, outrageous, unrealistic, or ill-thought-out, as proven by the developments and changes that have already taken place under Duterte’s administration.  (Read Change Has Truly Come Sa Bayan Ni Juan.)

 

The country is plunging into narco-statehood.

I am sick and tired of hearing President Duterte’s repeated assertions that the Philippines is on the verge of becoming a narco state. He used that claim during the campaign, and won the presidency primarily because of his bold promise to eradicate drugs, along with corruption and criminality, in just 3-6 months after he assumes office. Now, already on his 12th month and with more than 12,000 drug-related casualties, he continues to feed us with the same statement during his public tirades and rants…as if he also needs to constantly convince himself of its veracity.

But, how serious, really, is the drug problem in the country?

Based on the 2015 nationwide survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippine, as commissioned by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), drug use incidence from Jan 1, 2015 – Feb 5, 2016 is at an estimated 1.8 million, or 1.8% of that year’s total population.

I am not, in any way, trying to discount or even downplay this number or its possible social and criminal repercussions, but this figure is hardly tantamount to an epidemic – especially considering the facts that it was significantly lower than the recorded 6.7 million users in the country in 2004 (the year with the highest recorded number of drug users) and the 5.2% global average of drug use in 2014.

So where did the President get his figure of 4 million “drug addicts,” you ask?

According to the same survey, the lifetime drug use prevalence in the country is at around 6.1%. Simply translated, this means that the number of Filipinos who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives is 4.8 million. President Duterte might have drawn his 4 million figure from this datum. Or it may be, as the President constantly claims, from ex-PDEA Chief Dionisio Santiago’s old estimate of 3 million —which the former raised to 4 million using a highly complex process called logical deduction that only he was privy to. (Note that the PDEA Chief was one of the 17 members of DDB, hence, his sole source of official data and figures should be the DDB itself.)

Either way, the President’s basis for his 4 million figure is clearly erroneous. Intentional or otherwise, President Duterte based the “bloody” all-out war that the government continues to wage against illegal drugs on an incorrect premise.

 

The country will be better off if we ally ourselves with China (and if we keep our distance from our long-time partners like the US and the EU).

The President has also been conditioning us to believe that China is our country’s ally – a benevolent, reliable and generous one. He wants us to conveniently ignore China’s blatant disregard of the UN arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines on our maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Questioning China’s bullying, territorial-grabbing and subjugating efforts would, for him, reduce us to nothing more than a bunch of ingrates. So, the next time China builds another artificial island on the WPS, undertakes an exploration of Benham Rise, threatens our fishermen anew, questions our DND Secretary’s visit to one of the islands in the WPS, or worse, sends drones and surveillance cameras and targets us with their precision weapons and missiles should we decide to drill oil there, we should just try to look the other way and remind ourselves of all of China’s pledges – a ready market for our exported bananas, an influx of Chinese tourists, a dole-out of investments and loans, and an unlimited supply of illegal drugs. (Read this.)

 

The Catholic Church will soon be passé.

The Philippines is home to the largest Catholic population in Asia, holding the record for being the third largest Catholic country in the world. Under the present administration though, the Church has been the subject of constant attacks, tirades, and condemnation from no less than the President himself. When clergymen and church figures criticize Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the President readily retaliates by lambasting the church and its leaders, claiming that the Church has no moral ascendancy and is a hypocritical institution that will soon be irrelevant and passé. Once, he even urged Catholics to stop listening to the priests and, instead, join the Iglesia ni Duterte – a religion he would establish that, he claimed, would not be as restrictive as the Catholic Church. In his Iglesia, he added, men can have as many as five wives.

 

The media is the epitome of bias and corruption.

When the President’s controversial and, oftentimes, contradicting statements and pronouncements stir discord, draw flak, or are picked up by the international press, the local media usually bear the brunt of Malacañang’s censure and wrath. The Chief Executive and his henchmen allege the journalists of unfair reporting and of deliberately misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misquoting, twisting, or sensationalizing Duterte’s words. Critics claim that this knee-jerk reaction and behavior could be considered an attempt to discredit or undermine the media. In the face of the most recent expletive-laden attacks and allegations of the President against the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility proclaimed that that form of harassment and intimidation “has brought the highest office to a historic low.” It could be recalled that Communications Secretary Andanar, a media practitioner himself, once accused the Senate media of receiving $1,000 each for covering the press conference of self-confessed DDS member, retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas. Mocha Uson, an ardent supporter of Duterte and, now, a presidential appointee, makes a habit of calling the media outfits that are critical of the president, “presstitutes.” She also makes a habitual call to her millions of online supporters to boycott the country’s traditional, mainstream media. Additionally, when Duterte won the online poll for the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, his supporters rejoiced. Malacañang said that it was indicative of the fact that Duterte is “so admired” by Filipinos and international leaders because of his national agenda. However, when his approach against drugs was heavily criticized by a former Colombian President, who was tasked by Time Magazine to pen the write-up on Duterte (while Duterte’s archnemesis, Sen. Leila De Lima, received a glowing write-up from a former US Ambassador), Malacañang was quick to point out that the said magazine has not been fair by choosing to focus on the negative, unsubstantiated news about the President, while failing to mention the reason behind De Lima’s incarceration.

 

Spreading fake news is fine, even for government agencies and entities.

Both the Philippine News Agency and Mocha Uson, as the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media, are under the competent stewardship of Andanar’s PCOO. Uson has been the source of numerous fake news that Duterte supporters gleefully spread. Apparently, her new government position does not deter her from continuing with her old ways as she recently shared a wrong photo of the Philippine Army on Facebook. PCOO, on its part, was responsible for an animated video promoting Martial Law, while PNA has had its fair share of blunders like its report that 95 nations, in their UN Human Rights Council meeting, were convinced that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

 

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The opposition is constantly working to destabilize the government.

Under this administration, opposition is not regarded as a necessary partner in legitimizing our democratic right to dissent, or even in hearing out the voices coming from the proverbial other side of the fence. Instead of directly addressing the issues hurled at them, Duterte and his minions of apologists and defenders are known to malign, intimidate, mock, verbally abuse, humiliate, threaten, persecute and, in Sen. De Lima’s case, jail anyone who holds contrary views and adversarial positions. The United Nations, the European Union, leaders of other nations, human rights advocates, the faith-based groups, and the international and local media – they are all nothing but an unruly bunch working closely with the “dilawan” in hounding and attacking the government, with the sole intent of overthrowing it. Early this year, all the remaining opposition senators were stripped of leadership posts and committee chairmanships while, in the House of Representatives, the solons who voted against the death penalty bill were ousted from their key posts. If this tyrannical condition persists, all the political dissenters under this administration will eventually find themselves cowering in the corner, voiceless and powerless, behind bars or, worse, rotting away six feet under.

 

Slut shaming, catcalling, disrespecting or objectifying women is acceptable.

President Duterte’s sexist, chauvinistic and, to an extent, misogynistic reputation remains intact months after he assumed presidency. More than 16 million voters chose to ignore the offensive “jokes” Duterte constantly delivered during his campaign sorties – jokes about his multiple girlfriends (of which one of them he claims is for his “short-time” use only), their housemaid that he used to molest in her sleep, the Australian missionary raped and brutally killed by a gang of inmates that he thought was a waste because the missionary was so beautiful that he should have been first among those who lined up to rape her, and of Duterte actually giving a couple of his female supporters a liplock. During a press conference shortly after his inauguration, he catcalled a female reporter. (Catcalling, for him, is a compliment if we are to believe his apologist in Malacañang.) During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, he admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during their cabinet meetings.  He also used the rumor of a sex tape to slut-shame Senator De Lima on national TV. In his apparent effort to defend House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the issue of womanizing, Duterte said that it simply couldn’t be helped; “There are so many women and so short a time in this world.” Just recently, he made another rape joke in front of our troops fighting in Marawi City. His supporters, meanwhile, believe that Duterte’s behavior towards women is a non-issue. After all, they voted for a president, neither for a priest nor a saint.

 

Government resources can be used freely to pay for personal debts of gratitude.

When the President won, he promised to hire only the “best and the brightest.” The Filipino people deserve only the best, he quipped – “walang palakasan o anumang utang na loob.” Naturally, his supporters gloated. Today, we, the taxpayers, are paying the likes of RJ Jacinto, Arnell Ignacio, Kat De Castro, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Dino, Cesar Montano, and Mocha Uson – not because of their admirable academic backgrounds, competencies, personal attributes, or experience in public service, but because these celebrities happened to support Duterte during his campaign. Duterte himself admitted that those appointments are his way of paying his debt of gratitude to his loyal supporters. His foreign trips are also highly criticized due to countless tag-alongs and free riders (Ex-President Ramos called Duterte’s Russia trip a junket.). With no less than the president openly advocating and practicing patronage in government, worse cases of corruption will inevitably be more prevalent under this administration.

 

Killing/Waging war is the panacea for our country’s many ills.

When the most powerful man in the land promises to kill every drug dealer and user, and promotes killing as the most effective and fastest approach to winning his war on drugs, and when his officials believe that drug addicts are not humans and are thus not entitled to the most basic of human rights, we better be prepared for the inevitable deadly outcomes. Laws and due processes are blatantly disregarded. Human rights are abused and trampled on. The death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate. Bills such as the Death Penalty and the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability are feared to be used for the government’s bloody campaign against drugs. Critics of the war on drugs are cursed, threatened, or persecuted. Law enforcers are emboldened to take the law into their own hands. The root causes of the problems are not duly addressed. Even the issue of China’s illegal and baseless claim on the WPS was reduced by Duterte to an unsavory pick between two choices only: the relinquishment of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed waters OR an all-out war against China. Filing a diplomatic protest before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is not an option for this administration.

 

Duterte can get away with almost anything because he is a popular President.

Filipinos are known to be a forgiving race, but where the present Commander-in-Chief is concerned, many of us could go as far as being unquestioning and complicit. He curses virtually everyone as much as he wants during presscons and public speeches, and we hardly bat an eyelash. He threatens to kill somebody, and we shrug our shoulders. He slut shames a woman, and we laugh uproariously. He gives the WPS to China on a silver platter, because it is, after all, “theirs historically”, and we feign indifference. He puts people’s reputation and lives in jeopardy by publicly disclosing unverified lists and making unsupported claims, and we rejoice unabashedly. He travels with his friends and supporters using our hard-earned taxes, and we endure with calm acceptance. He rubs elbows with big-time plunderers and oligarchs, and we react with fierce protectiveness. All of these make me wonder: How low a level should the President stoop to before we finally wake from this deep apathy?

 

It’s just a matter of time before the entire Philippines is placed under Martial Law.

In the wake of Ferdinand Marcos’ dreadful years of dictatorship, Filipinos have avoided the possibility of another Martial Law like the plague. A mere mention of it could cause some of us to shiver with fear. But due to Duterte’s constant and seemingly casual reference to it – as a response to CJ Sereno’s alleged interference with his job, to the “sheer magnitude of the drug problem in the country,” to lawless violence after the Davao blast, to a need to “preserve his country,” to the crisis in Mindanao –, many of us have gradually grown desensitized to the idea. Now that he has already declared ML over the entire Mindanao, we should brace ourselves to Duterte’s imminent declaration of expanding it to cover the whole country and, possibly, beyond the constitutionally mandated 60-day period. Especially after announcing that he would ignore the Supreme Court and Congress if they try to meddle with his decision.

 

The erosion of our moral values is no cause for alarm or even concern.

Throwing our all-out support behind a particular leader could actually be commendable, but doing so at the expense of some values, beliefs and principles that are deeply embedded in our culture and psyche is alarming. Go to a link to a Rappler or ABS-CBN’s article about Sen. De Lima or VP Robredo and it would be impossible not to notice how Filipinos today could be indifferent or complacent on one hand, and ruthless, harsh and violent on the other. Bigotry is now at its peak. Comments and remarks laced with malice and virulence are flying around. Vindictiveness has become the name of the game. Integrity, benevolence, diplomacy, and basic respect for others have flown out the window when Duterte and his minions occupied the Malacañang Palace almost a year ago.

 

With six years’ worth of mental conditioning under the present administration, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be when his term eventually ends? Would we even want that to happen?

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HOW TO CRUSH AN IDIOTIC MIND

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So you think I’m ranting? You can bet your last cent, I am! And I am ranting because I am now beyond being sad, alarmed, indignant and angry.

I. Am. Livid!

Why? Let me share with you all the idiotic posts I have been reading on my FB feed lately, and the reasons why I consider them such.

1. Declaring ML is a presidential prerogative.

True, it is a presidential prerogative. There is no argument about that. The issue here is whether the recent developments and the present situation in Marawi warrant the declaration of ML over the entire group of islands in Mindanao. What could be Duterte’s compelling reason to declare ML when the AFP and the Pres’l Spokesperson have been repeatedly issuing statements that the situation in Marawi was stabilized and that the AFP had the situation under control. They have also been giving out constant assurance that there is no ISIS presence in the country.

Duterte, on the other hand, has been singing an entirely different tune. During his meeting with Pres. Putin, for instance, he said that he needed the latter’s help in fighting ISIS elements that “have occupied a part of a Philippine town.” Where did he get that intel if not from the AFP? And in case he would later claim that he has another source, why did he not share that extremely sensitive info with the AFP?

Personally, I think that with his declaration of ML, Duterte has just ticked an important item off his bucket list. It has always been his dream. So with or without a compelling reason, Martial Law was bound to happen under this administration. He had been toying with the idea since he assumed office and, with his flip flopping and sometimes contradictory statements about Martial Law, he has been testing the waters, so to speak. (Click here http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/specialreports/611900/duterte-s-martial-law-warnings-for-mindanao/story/ and here http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/158810-understanding-duterte-martial-law-remarks ) It’s just sad that the first president from Mindanao, instead of addressing the root causes of the problems there (poverty, land-grabbing, social inequality, injustice, etc), would use this situation to fulfill a personal fantasy.

2. Martial Law has been declared in Mindanao, yet the people ranting against it are from Luzon and Visayas.

The last time I checked, there remain three main islands that comprise the Philippines –Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao— so, whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. Moreover, the latest developments in Mindanao inevitably affect the whole country as the declaration of ML opens deep, painful and festering wounds from the past. Also, ML in Mindanao is and should be everyone’s concern –Mindanaoan or not—especially since Duterte is already contemplating the idea of extending it beyond the constitutionally-mandated maximum of 60 days and expanding it to cover the entire country. So, yes, every Filipino should speak up now. While we still can.

3. If you can’t be of help, shut the fuck up! You are reeking of the stench of a yellow cult/Dilawan/oligarch/elitist/!

Before you go on with your name-calling, let me remind you that the role of opposition is crucial to a country’s democracy, and the government should accept that role, however small or inconvenient it may prove to be.

It is the opposition’s role to challenge government policies and provide alternatives where appropriate. It is the opposition’s role to question the government and hold it accountable to the public. It is the opposition’s role to ensure that all voices will be heard. In return, the government should respect and listen to the opposition. They should not be made to feel threatened, maligned, intimidated, mocked, abused, humiliated, persecuted or eternally silenced by the government or its supporters.

As a good Filipino citizen, there are at least three things that I do to help my country — I pay my taxes right, I abide by the laws of our land, and I take my role as an opposition to heart. Oh, and there’s one more. I try to empower as many of my kababayan as I can by informing and educating them through social media. I write articles and share information acquired only from reliable, credible and verifiable sources. I never spread fake news or the revisionist’s version of our history.

4. The President, the AFP and the other authorities know what they are doing. Let them do their job.

If the authorities really know what they are doing, Duterte as the Commander-in-Chief should not have left the country with all his security and defense officials in tow. But, as it is, he went to Russia –supposedly for an entire week– with PNP Chief Dela Rosa, AFP Chief Año, DND Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon, Exec. Sec. Medialdea, ARMM Police Director Sindac, and the commanding generals of all three major service commands – the army, navy and air force. They left the government defense forces virtually without leaders amidst the numerous police and military operations that they are conducting all over the country.

Additionally, according to our lawmakers, failure of intelligence and coordination among our security forces led to the bloody clashes in Marawi City. With PhP2.5 billion intel funds at their disposal, the government should have been sufficiently informed and fully prepared before sending our troops to any operation especially in Mindanao.

If we are, however, to believe DND Sec. Lorenzana and the PNP’s words that there was no failure of intelligence and that the police, in fact, knew of the Maute Group’s plan to attack Marawi as early as May 17, they must have realized the enormity of the trouble our troops would likely be heading to. Why then did all these have to happen? Why did our officials decide to proceed with their Moscow trip? Was it the government’s intent to have the Marawi situation blow out of proportion so that there would be a compelling reason for the eventual declaration of Martial Law? After all, the casualties could easily be considered part of the firefight’s collateral damage. Let us hope not.

5. Martial Law is necessary to address the problems in Mindanao.

No. Placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is a disproportionate response to a “localized and contained” situation. Even Atty. Christian Monsod, one of the framers of our Constitution, believes that declaring a State of Emergency “would have been sufficient to address the situation in Marawi” as “there was no proof that the skirmishes were part of a concerted effort affecting the entire Mindanao.” The Phil. Muslim Society, a group of Muslim lawyers, is planning to challenge Duterte’s hasty declaration before the Supreme Court. According to them, “declaring martial law will only invite more atrocities, more young people to join the rebels.”

History tells us that ML could easily lead to abuses and dictatorship.

Bigger and more ferocious insurgents, rebel forces, terrorist groups and religious extremists (CPP/NPA/NDF, MILF, MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, BIFF, Khalifa Islamiyah, Jemaah Islamiyah, etc) have been wreaking havoc and mayhem in the country for many years now. Clashes between the government and the anti-government forces have resulted to bloodier and more hostile encounters before. Yet, no post-Marcos administration dared to declare Martial Law (aside from Gloria Arroyo who, in the wake of the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people, declared ML in the province of Maguindanao for 8 days—a decision which caused her 7 lawsuits). Until now. So what makes the Maute Group special? Is it because they are the ones responsible for the bombing in the night market in Davao, the President’s beloved city?

Duterte, in his effort to assuage our fears about his ML declaration, said that there is no need to worry if you are a law-abiding citizen. He also claimed that no abuses will happen under his Martial Law.

Why do these statements sound all too familiar?

Because with his War on Drugs, he said the exact same things.

A few months after, however, when even law-abiding citizens would turn up dead, and cases upon cases of police scalawags’ involvement in despicable crimes were exposed, he and his bunch of apologists started singing different songs. The one was entitled Collateral damage, while the other, Internal cleansing of the PNP.

Duterte supporters, in trying to defend their Tatay Digong’s latest controversial action, claim that the Constitution provides safety measures against Martial Law abuses. We need not fear, they say. Sure, we won’t.

We won’t if only Duterte doesn’t maintain a stranglehold on the “super majority” of our lawmakers. We won’t if only most of the Supreme Court justices are not formulating their decisions based on either their fear of Duterte or how sufficiently their palms have been oiled. We won’t if only he is not trying to buy the police and military’s loyalty with many promises (“I will go to jail for you!”) and meaty government positions. We won’t if only somebody like Cardinal Sin is currently leading the church and its flock in fighting the many clowns in government.

I hope, there won’t come a time when I would have to say, “I told you so.”

THE 7 DEADLY SINS COMMITTED UNDER THE DUTERTE ADMINISTRATION

By: Bernard Ong

 

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate morality and ethics. The “7 Deadly Sins” are not found as such in the Bible, although there are biblical antecedents.

Here are the Sins and the common Pinoy examples that merit “Huwag Tularan” cardboard signs.

 

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Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/desoren

 

#1 PRIDE

The negative version of Pride is described as putting one’s own desires and whims before the welfare of [other] people, believing oneself to be superior or more important than others, refusing to admit one’s faults or limitations as a human being.

Examples:

  1. You bash media as “Dilawan” and biased. But then you read them for “intel” reports about the Abu Sayyaf’s plan to raid Bohol. You downplay the report and do nothing. That’s hypocritical Pride.
  2. You attack US because of personal grudges from a long time ago (e.g. claim of being molested by an American priest, you were once denied a US visa). You degrade relations with the only ally strong enough to help you keep your country’s territories and rights in South China Sea. That’s foolish Pride.
  3. You said there were 3 million drug addicts. Then you increased this to 4 million without factual basis. The official estimate by Dangerous Drugs Board is only 1.8 million users, yet you refuse to correct your mistake. 2.2 million innocent Filipinos will be potential victims of Tokhang or EJK as a result. That’s lethal Pride.

 

#2 GREED

From the Latin word “Avarita” or avarice. Greed is the excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one’s needs. It can lead to robbery, theft, treason, cheating, plunder.

Examples:

  1. Your family raids the nation’s coffers for 20 years. You open bank accounts in Switzerland. You block PCGG attempts to recover the stolen loot & [have it] return[ed] to [its rightful owners], the Filipino people. You want to be president to steal more money, just like your daddy. [And you never show remorse or express regret over your family’s many abuses and transgressions.] That’s unrepentant Greed.
  2. You misuse taxpayer funds on corruption-ridden pork barrel projects. You connive with fixers, corrupt agency officials & crony contractors on fake projects and kickbacks. That’s trapo Greed.
  3. You allegedly have P2.4B in bank deposits, way more than your mayor’s salary could afford. You invoke Bank Secrecy to hide the transactions. That’s Panelo-shielded Greed.

 

#3 LUST

Lust is [an] intense, uncontrolled desire. It usually refers to sexual behavior – leading to rape, adultery, fornication, promiscuity. But it can also apply to uncontrolled desire in general – e.g. lust for power, lust for money.

Examples:

  1. You have multiple wives or girlfriends. You claim this [to be] the norm for lawyers or politicians. That’s crass Lust.
  2. You joke that the mayor should have been first in the gang-rape of a dead Australian missionary. That’s morbid Lust.
  3. You use the State to silence dissenters. You jail them on false charges. You fund fake news outlets to destroy opponents. That’s power-hungry Lust.

 

#4 ENVY

Envy is like Greed and Lust. It stems from desire. It is described as the covetous resentment towards others’ status, abilities, possessions and achievements. You want what others have that you don’t.

Examples:

  1. You lack education credentials. You make it up with fake degrees. You run and lost for vice president. You file an election protest without basis. That’s crooked Envy.
  2. Your dad was a world-class thief. He was booted out of the country. Your family had to fly out to escape lynching. His political opponents – Ninoy and Cory [Aquino] – were both given heroes’ burials by the public, while you have to pay your way to having Daddy buried like a hero. Fittingly, you bury him stealthily like a thief. That’s insatiable Envy.
  3. You don’t like the professional news outlets because they report information, quotes and photos that put your idol in bad light. So you come out with your own news outlet spewing fake news. That’s twisted Envy.

 

#5 GLUTTONY

Gluttony is not just about eating too much. It is over-indulgence & over-consumption leading to waste. It is associated with selfishness and lack of concern for others.

Examples:

  1. You are elected president with your office in Malacanang. You insist on flying home to Davao every week. You are wasting taxpayer funds, causing security nightmares and adding to carbon emissions with your unnecessary flights. That’s imprudent Gluttony.
  2. You were elected congressman to represent your people. You run under one political party. After you won, you switched parties to ensure your share of perks and pork [barrel]. You go to fancy affairs with your fancy trophy mistress on your fancy 8-plated car. You get kickbacks from pork projects while your constituents suffer from misrepresentation [and misery]. That’s piggish Gluttony.

 

#6 WRATH

Wrath is uncontrolled anger, rage and hatred. It leads to violence, harm, vengeance, and killing.

Examples:

  1. You haaaate drugs. Perhaps because your son became an addict. You decide to kill 30,000, 300,000 or even 3 million – just like Hitler. You inspire your followers to kill, kill, kill. That’s blind Wrath.
  2. You cannot control yourself in public appearances. You are prone to spew out “Patayin”, “Put@ng-Ina”, “Ugok” and “Idiot” every other sentence. You inspire those who call you Tatay to hate. That’s uncontrolled Wrath.

 

#7 SLOTH

Sloth is laziness. It is the unwillingness to exert effort – physically, mentally or spiritually. Sloth is also described as failure to do things that you must do. This is captured in Edmund Burke’s “only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Examples:

  1. You have a multi-billion peso budget for intel, yet you still rely on faulty made-up drug lists and drug matrices prone to frame-ups. Nobody knows where the intel funds go (although it is suspected to reward EJKs). Foreign embassies warn about Abu attack on Bohol but you don’t lift your butt. That’s unintelligent Sloth.
  2. You outsource your thinking to fake news sites, impostors, demagogues. You pass on fake memes & fake stories. You don’t read beyond the headline. You don’t fact-check. That’s stupid Sloth.
  3. You know things are wrong, yet you keep quiet and do nothing. That’s pathetic Sloth.

 

Huwag Tularan.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY TATAY DIGONG

Dear Tatay  Digong,

Marami po akong naririnig na negative things na sinasabi nila laban sa iyo at, bilang isa sa iyong 103-milyong mga anak, nasasaktan ako. Sino po ba namang anak ang gugustuhing matawag ang kanyang ama na psychopath, sociopath, demagogue, misogynist, pathological liar, murderer at plunderer? Wala po siguro. Subalit, ngayon, halos buong mundo ang tumutuligsa sa iyo dahil sa inyong mga kilos at pananalita. At, sadly, pati ang pagtingin nila sa ating bansa at sa mga Pilipino ay apektado.

Dati po, kilala ang Pilipinas bilang “Asia’s bastion of Christianity.” When foreigners would describe us, lagi nilang sinasabi na ang mga Pinoy ay mabait, masayahin, matulungin, madasalin at magiliw sa mga panauhin. Ngayon, may reputasyon na tayo bilang bastos, bayolente at kriminal.

Tatay, tanggap ko po na sanay kayo sa “gutter language.” Hindi nyo po inilihim sa amin ‘yan kahit na noong panahon ng kampanya. Pero nangako po kayo sa amin na, once elected at bilang respeto sa iyong posisyon bilang Ama ng Bansa, you will become dignified. Ang sabi mo pa nga, “cussing will be a thing of the past.” So, ano po ang nangyari? Mula sa Pope, sa mga Presidente at Ambassadors ng iba’t-ibang nasyon, hanggang sa mga journalists, human rights advocates, mga kalaban sa politika at kaparian — lahat sila ay nakatikim ng iyong infamous na pagmumura. Hanggang ngayon, sa mga public appearances nyo, hindi pwedeng hindi ka magmura.

Tinitingala ka namin, Tatay, at itinuturing na aming role model. Sana po, mas maganda ang mga naririnig naming salita mula sa ‘yo. Isa pa po, cursing the other heads of state will foster animosity between their countries and ours. Bilang isang third-world country pa naman, alam nyo po na hindi natin kayang mag-survive without the help of our allies. Hinay-hinay lang po, Tatay.

Sabi din po nila, wala kayong “Palabra de Honor.” Mahilig daw po kayong magbitiw ng mga pangakong alam nyo namang imposible nyong matupad.

Nangako kayo that you will “solve our traffic woes in 100 days.” Tatay, walong buwan na po kayo sa Malacanang pero ang traffic sa EDSA, lumala pa. Pangako nyo rin that you will fight “patronage politics” pero pinayagan nyo ang paglilibing kay Macoy sa Libingan Ng Mga Bayani, ang pagpapalaya kay GMA, ang pagpapatakas kay Peter Lim, ang pangangamkam ng China sa pinag-aagawang bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, at ang pagtatalaga ng mga showbiz personalities sa gobyerno. Totoo po na lahat sila ay nakatulong sa iyong kampanya pero, sana po, huwag ma-compromise ang kapakanan ng bansa sa pagnanais nyong makabayad ng utang na loob sa kanila. Country above all else po dapat, hindi ba?

Galit po kayo sa corruption, at hinahangaan ko po kayo dahil diyan. Pinagbantaan nyo pa nga dati ang mga corrupt officials na ihahagis nyo sila mula sa helicopter in mid-air, di po ba? E bakit nasa gabinete nyo pa po si Justice Sec. Aguirre? Very obvious naman during the senate investigation na plano nyang mag-extort ng pera mula kina Jack Lam. Pumutok lang ang issue kaya naghugas-kamay na lang siya. Si Sen. Pacquiao, malaki po ang atraso nya sa BIR. At si Sen. Cayetano, saang kamay ng Diyos po kaya niya nakuha ang malaking pera that he donated for your campaign?

Itong si Sen. Trillanes po, he claims na may hawak siyang mga documents proving na nagkaroon ng around P2.2 billion in deposit transactions sa bank accounts nyo. Para po mapahiya at tuluyan nang manahimik si Trillanes, bakit hindi na lang po kayo pumirma at mag-issue sa mga banko nyo ng waiver ng bank secrecy? That would effectively put to rest all these corruption allegations against you, Tatay.

Just the other day, during the celebration of International Women’s Day, you vowed to uphold gender equality. Mapaninindigan nyo po ba talaga ‘yan, Tatay, o isa na naman ‘yan sa marami mong rhetorical statements? Alam naman nating lahat na lagi nyong ipinagmamalaki ang pagiging matinik nyo sa chicks, na kesyo kaya nyong pagsabay-sabayin ang ilang babae sa buhay nyo. Hindi po ba’t isa nga ‘yan sa mga dahilan kung bakit nag-file ng annulment of marriage ang dati nyong asawa?

During the campaign, napulaan kayo dahil sa insensitive nyong comment about the Australian missionary na ginang-rape at pinatay ng mga preso. Kumalat din ang mga pictures nyo na nagpapaupo kayo sa hita at nanghahalik ng mga female supporters nyo. Nang naging Pangulo naman kayo, isa sa mga unang naging kontrobersya laban sa inyo ay ang pagpito nyo sa isang female reporter during a press conference. Hayan tuloy, sa Hollywood tv show na “Madam Secretary,” pinalabas nilang bastos ang Presidente ng Pilipinas. Kahiya-hiya po tayo sa buong mundo. Pero hindi po natin sila masisisi. Depictment lang po iyun ng kung ano ang mga naisusulat at napapanood tungkol sa inyo.

You also seem intimidated by strong women, especially women who have the balls to stand up to you. Nariyan sina Sen. De Lima (na hindi kayo tinantanan for your alleged human rights violations mula noong kayo pa ang Mayor ng Davao), SC Chief Justice Sereno (na kinwestyun ang paglalabas mo sa publiko ng mga pangalan ng mga “narco-judges”), Ombudsman Carpio-Morales (na pinaghinalaan mong siyang nagbigay ng go-signal na isiwalat ang iyong di-umano’y multibillion-peso bank accounts noong panahon ng kampanya), VP Robredo (na walang-tigil sa pagpuna sa mga patayan under your War on Drugs) at UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard (na gustong imbistigahan ang spate of unlawful killings na nangyayari under your administration). Dahil parang hindi nyo alam how to deal with strong women like them, you resort to insult and threat. Tila, you want to humiliate them. You want to break them. You want to silence them. You want to control them.

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Photo credit: mironline.ca

Tatay, sa palagay nyo po ba, kung buhay pa ngayon ang inyong ina ay ikatutuwa niya ang mga ginagawa nyo sa mga kabaro nya? O ang pagpayag nyong mailibing sa LNMB ang diktador na si Marcos? Malamang po, hindi. Alam naman po natin na matapang niyang nilabanan ang lahat ng uri ng pang-aabuso noong panahon ng Martial Law, di ba?

Siguro po, dahil sa pagtingala din sa inyo bilang kanilang ehemplo kaya may mga supporters kayo na nangharass online dati sa mga kabataang babae na nakilahok sa protest rally against the controversial Marcos burial. Tatay, ganyan kalaki ang inyong kapangyarihan at impluwensya sa amin. Kaya kung gusto nyong maging magalang kami, sana po, maging mabuting modelo ka sa amin.

During your speeches, lagi nyo rin pong sinasabi na alam nyo ang ginagawa nyo dahil kayo ay dating abogado. Pero sa bibig nyo na rin po nanggaling that, when you were a city prosecutor in Davao, you used to plant evidence to help the authorities when going after criminals. Tatay, hindi po ako abogado pero sigurado po ako na ang ganoong gawain ay labag sa batas. Alam ko rin po na may batas tayo laban sa bribery. So bakit hindi nyo po kinasuhan ang Mighty Corp na, ayon kay Mr. Salvador Panelo, ay sinubukan kayo dating suhulan? Katulad ng claim ni DA Sec. Manny Piñol na binigyan siya ng isang malaking agricultural company ng Rolex watch worth P450k, ng claim ni Justice Sec. Aguirre na sinuhulan diumano ni dating Sen. Jamby Madrigal at Binan Rep. Alonte ng P100 million ang mga convicted druglords to recant their testimonies against Sen. De Lima, at ng claim ni Sec. Andanar na binayaran daw ng $1,000 ang mga reporters who covered the presscon of self-confessed DDS leader Lascañas. Totoo po ba ang mga claims at allegations na ‘yun, o produkto lang lahat ng fake news?

Tatay, you are aware how sensitive the Filipinos are sa usapin ng Martial Law. Marami pa pong sugat ang hindi naghihilom mula sa madilim at mapanupil na mga taon ng pamumuno nina Marcos. Kaya, sana po, huwag mong gagamiting banta ang pagdi-declare mo ng Martial Law under any circumstance. Ginagawa mo kaming parang mga bata na tinatakot mo when we step out of line. Hindi po nakakatuwa ang ganun, Tatay.

Naniniwala po ako na matapang ka pero bahag daw po ang buntot mo kapag China na ang kaharap mo. During the campaign, ang sabi mo, magji-jet ski ka papuntang Spratly, itatanim mo ang bandila natin doon at hahamunin mo ang mga Intsik sa suntukan o barilan. Bakit po ganun? Ngayon na kinakamkam nila ang malaking bahagi ng West Philippine Sea, biglang wala kayong magagawa dahil superpower sila? Tatay, teritoryo at kasarinlan po natin ang pinag-uusapan at ipinaglalabanan dito; ang lupain na iiwanan natin sa ating mga anak at sa kanilang mga anak. Huwag nyo naman pong isuko nang ganung kadali lamang ito lalo pa nga’t based on the ruling na ipinalabas noong isang taon ng Arbitral Tribunal ng United Nations, naipanalo po natin ang ating arbitration case against China. Tayo po ang may exclusive sovereign rights sa West Philippine Sea!

Nang nagsalita kayo sa harap ng ating mga kababayan na nasa Myanmar, sinabi po ninyo that you are against same-sex marriage dahil ayon po sa inyo, aside from our Civil Code, Katoliko tayo. Kung saan po kamo tayo ipinwesto ng Diyos, dapat doon lang tayo. Seryoso ka ba sa statement mong ‘yun, Tatay, o nagbibiro ka lang? Dati po kasi, namumula ako sa ginagawa mong pagmumura at pambabatikos sa Simbahang Katolika. Tapos, ngayon, ang paniniwala ng Katolika ang gagamitin mong sandata laban sa apela ng mga members ng LGBT community? Isa pa po, ito ang linya nyo during the campaign, “Same sex marriage is good. Everyone deserves to be happy.” Ano po ang nangyari? Sinabi nyo lang ba yun dati to secure their votes? That is not so good, Tatay.

During that same speech, sinabi nyo rin po na safe na sa Pilipinas. Sa punto pong iyon, I’m sure na nagjo-joke lang kayo.

Let me remind you, Tatay, that under your War on Drugs, mahigit 7,000 na ang namamatay ayon sa official report ng PNP. May mga “suspected” drug offenders, may mga cases of mistaken identity, at may mga bystanders – either during legitimate police operations o by rogue police officers o vigilantes na masyadong siniseryoso ang call nyo to “slaughter them all.” Just today, I heard the news about a Chemical Engineering magna cum laude graduate from UP Los Banos na bigla na lang nawalang parang bula. Nag-aabang siya ng sasakyan at 4 am dahil first day of work nya sa kumpanyang inaplayan niya. Meron rin pong isang 20-year-old na lalaki ang dinukot ng mga naka-bonnet na assailants at isinakay sa isang van na walang plaka. Ang lalaking yun ay papunta lang sa drug store para bumili ng gamot dahil may sakit ang kanyang baby. Safe ba kanyo?

Alam nyo po, everytime na lumalabas ng bahay ang mga anak ko, kinakabahan at natatakot ako. Pero, bilang ina, ang kaya ko lang pong gawin ay ang pabaunan sila ng mga habilin: (1) Huwag makikipagtinginan sa mga pulis; (2) Lalayo sa mga naka-motorsiklo, lalo na kapag riding in tandem o nakasuot ng bonnet; (3) Kapag naka-witness sila ng krimen, tumakbo palayo; at (4) Kapag namamaga ang mata nila dahil sa magdamagang pagre-review, magsuot ng colored glasses. Mabuti na po ang nag-iingat, ‘di po ba? Baka mapagbintangan silang drug addict, bigla na lang itumba at takpan ng placard na nagsasabing, “Addict ako, huwag tularan.” Hindi ko po kakayanin kapag nangyari sa isa sa mga anak ko ang ganun.

Isa pa po sa mga naririnig ko is that you cannot tolerate criticism. Kaya nga po yata galit na galit kayo sa ipinadalang video message ni VP Leni sa UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs ay dahil isiniwalat nya ang mga totoong kaganapan sa bansa dahil sa inyong War on Drugs. Masyado kamong “atat” sa posisyon si VP. At part lang kamo ang lahat ng ‘yan (pati na rin ang Impeachment Complaint na inihain laban sa inyo) ng destabilization plot against your administration. Tatay, sa tingin ko po, hindi na kailangan ang ibang tao to destabilize your government. Kayo lang po — kasama ang inyong mga kaalyado na sina House Speaker Alvarez, Senate Pres. Pimentel, Justice Sec. Aguirre, PNP Chief Dela Rosa, Solicitor General Calida, Senators Pacquiao, Sotto, Gordon at Cayetano, mga appointees na sina Cesar Montano, Perfecto Yasay at Mocha Uson, at ang mga ka-DDS ko at mga bayarang trolls — ay sapat na to do the job effectively. Self-destructing nga raw po ang administrasyon nyo e.

Finally po, Tatay, nakikiusap ako sa inyo. Stop inciting emotional chaos. Temper your emotions lalo na kapag nasa harap kayo ng publiko. And don’t try to silence the opposition. Dapat nga po, you welcome dissent dahil ‘yun ang katunayan na buhay ang demokrasya sa ilalim ng iyong pamumuno.

‘Tay, I really hope and pray that you will soon start acting like the unifying and dignified President that you promised us you will be. The country deserves nothing less.

Nagmamalasakit,

Ang inyong anak

 

PS: Don’t forget to take your meds, Tatay. Nag-iiba ang timpla nyo kapag nakaka-miss kayo e.

CHANGE HAS TRULY COME (SA BAYAN NI JUAN)!

An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.

Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the downtrodden and the most marginalized members of society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed for the longest time by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians, whose only interest was to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope –our Messiah– to that ever-elusive change.

Change Is Coming. That was their battle cry.

Eight months in office and, alas, the Duterte administration can truthfully claim that change has indeed come sa bayan ni Juan.

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Photo credit: pinoyHS and Change Scamming

Higher excise taxes

As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning less than ₱3 million annually will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that would entail, the Dep’t. of Finance proposes higher excise taxes on fuel and automotive, VAT on OFW remittances, and an expanded VAT from 12% to 14%. Note that the net effect of the hike in excise taxes in oil would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes, according to Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Higher SSS monthly premiums

To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.

Peso depreciation

Our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.395 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is hovering at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,”  has a domino effect.

  • Higher government debt-servicing
  • Higher cost of foreign goods and services
  • Inflation in the prices of domestic products
  • Soaring oil prices

Prices of petroleum products have been steadily rising since Pres. Duterte assumed office. Upon the opening of 2017 alone, LPG had a big-time price hike of ₱4.15 – ₱4.18/kg, while per liter pump prices of diesel increased by ₱0.60, gasoline by ₱0.70, and kerosene by ₱0.55. As an inevitable result, minimum transpo fare, prices of basic commodities and electricity rate followed suit.

Sharp drop and volatility of the Philippine stock market index

The Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at President Obama in connection with the former US president’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.

The country is considered a major money-laundering hub

According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”

Camp Crame is now Camp Crime

Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.

The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate

According to the result of the NBI’s “exhaustive investigation,” the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the president a few days before the rubout.

Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation

Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, nearly 8,000 people are already killed in just a span of eight months. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.

An identified drug lord is set free

According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace unscathed and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.

Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero

The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.

Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman

The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.

According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace–, serving as a Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives.

SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction

Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it’s possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she’s found to be the least guilty.

Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail

Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the big-time drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of convicted drug lords and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.

The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president

Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.

The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury

During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.

Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts

With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.

Slashed budget for calamity funds

Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.

The death of Project NOAH

The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.

The collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels

Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners.  The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.

Lowered age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old

Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.

The reimposition of death penalty

Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes will be removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under this bill, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!

Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea

Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the sea bed for possible mineral deposits.

Rampant Human Rights violations

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”

The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension 

With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.

The revision of history

Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)

The desensitization of the Filipino people

We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.

The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials

When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.

Mocha is now a legit source of information

With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when the president gave her a government position, when Philippine Star gave her her own column, and when DZRH gave her a tv show. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead?

An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system

Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.

President Duterte will stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years and 4 months. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!

 

 

Sources:

http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/01/06/proposed-fuel-tax-hike-draws-flak/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/861441/sss-premium-hike-against-the-law-says-drilon

https://www.philippinesplus.com/2017/02/22/philippine-peso-continues-weaken-us-dollar/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-03/asia-s-ugly-duckling-of-the-year-is-the-peso-thanks-to-duterte

http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2016/11/30/1648699/peso-depreciation-causes-and-implications

http://www.canadianinquirer.net/2017/03/06/us-tags-ph-as-major-money-laundering-hub/

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/01/20/17/tokhang-for-ransom-timeline-of-south-korean-businessmans-abduction-killing

http://www.rappler.com/nation/154717-nbi-mayor-espinosa-death-rubout

http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/16/16/duterte-meets-with-alleged-top-drug-lord-peter-lim

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/554350/news/nation/marcos-the-best-president-ever-in-duterte-s-book

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/83278/news/nation/ibon-corruption-scandals-under-arroyo-cost-filipinos-p7-3b

http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/investigative/161513-duterte-solicitor-general-acquit-janet-napoles-illegal-detention-benhur-luy

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/826685/5-witnesses-vs-de-lima-seek-pardon

http://www.rappler.com/nation/151751-duterte-teases-robredo-yolanda-anniversary

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/591187/news/nation/evasco-s-text-message-asking-vp-robredo-not-to-attend-cabinet-meetings

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/28/17/yasay-may-be-held-liable-for-perjury-lacson

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/28/1676468/lp-senators-stripped-top-panel-posts

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/12/22/16/disastrous-budget-duterte-admin-slashes-phs-calamity-fund-by-half

http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2017/02/02/1668037/govt-shuts-down-project-noah

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/868697/duterte-calls-reds-spoiled-brats-orders-arrest-of-freed-leaders

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/02/01/house-speaker-avarez-lowering-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility.html

http://www.rappler.com/nation/162716-rape-plunder-treason-removed-death-penalty-bill

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/22/17/china-finishing-west-philippine-sea-buildings-that-could-house-missiles

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/02/killing-squads-inside-philippines-war-drugs

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/dnd-mulls-more-patrols-off-benham-rise/15755

 

HUMORING LOVE

When Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide,” he must have been thinking of the many injustices inflicted on his people.

Or maybe, he just had Aimee in mind.

You see, Aimee’s life before was a classic case of series after series of unfortunate events unfolding right before her eyes —that it was a small wonder that she did not decide to end her “colorful” life!

She got pregnant at the tender and gullible age of 19, while she was still in college. When her relationship with the father of her firstborn did not work out, she shrugged her shoulders and moved on with her life. No use crying over spilled milk, she said to herself.

A few years after, Aimee got entangled in another romantic relationship. But that time, to her family’s delight (and the disappointment of the wagging tongues of the gossipmongers around her), she had a wedding ring on her finger to show off.

Like most young married women who tend to look at their marital lives and partners through rose-tinted glasses, Aimee thought that she finally managed to find her Mr. Right. A man who will provide her with the ideal family that she had always dreamt of having. A man who will be her best friend and reliable life partner and a great father to her kids. A man she envisioned herself growing old with.

Unfortunately, when the glasses slipped down her nose, she saw her husband for what he really was. She was surprised to realize that instead of the prince of her childhood dreams, he was in fact a frog. A spineless frog!

So, barely a year into the marriage, she broke it off and filed for annulment.

That broken marriage left her with a broken heart — and baby number 2.

Never the type to surrender, Aimee took another romantic gamble after her battered heart healed. Believing that third time’s the charm, she had high hopes for that relationship. So, just like with the first two, she gave everything of herself – mind, body and soul —to the relationship.

But when baby number 3, a sickly baby with VSD (a congenital heart disease, wherein there is a hole in the wall separating the ventricles of the heart), came along, everything turned sour.

Not long after that, Aimee found herself alone, penniless and with three children to raise on her own.

With such overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable cards stacked against her, one would think that Aimee would be throwing in the towel by then. Or would be shouting at the top of her lungs to curse and throw vengeful words at God. Or blame the universe for her ill fate. For sure, that’s what I would have done — or most of the women out there — had they been put in Aimee’s shoes.

But, no. Not Aimee.

If Hercules had a female counterpart, that would have been her. She was (still is!) tough, fearless, resilient and tenacious. She never holds grudges. The word “surrender” isn’t in her vocabulary. And, above all, she has the uncanny ability to look at things positively. Humorously, even.

So, instead of dwelling on the many tragedies of her life, she decided to move on. That is, until she met an unexpected man at an unexpected time through an unexpected way.

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Kevin and Aimee Davis

WHEN KEVIN MET AIMEE

Many horrible things can happen when strangers who met online decide to meet in the real world. In this particular story, though, it was the opposite (Aimee is like that — constantly defying the norm).

Aimee and Kevin met online and became instant virtual friends. Through constant and frequent chatting online, their friendship soon blossomed into something sweet, chaste and promising. Aimee’s world was once again bright and happy. They enjoyed and cherished every moment that they would talk, and their worries started to melt away.

Kevin was thirteen years Aimee’s junior, but the two did not let the age gap bother them. Why would they when, between the two of them, Kevin was the one who’s much wiser? He was “an old soul trapped in a young man’s body,” as Aimee described him.

WHEN KEVIN PROPOSED TO AIMEE

It didn’t take long for Aimee to really get to know Kevin. He was the epitome of a true gentleman. He was “super” loving, “super” giving, “super” sweet and “super” honest. He was also “super” humble. He was as transparent as crystal in his love and devotion for Aimee. In his eyes, Aimee was and will always be the only rightful owner of the Miss Universe title. No one else.

But what really endeared him to Aimee was his apparent love for her children. He called her every single day (using a phone card!) to know how the kids were doing and to hear their excited voices. So, when Kevin finally popped the question, there was no doubt in Aimee’s mind that she would be making the best — not to mention, life-altering — decision of her life.

WHEN KEVIN MADE AIMEE “MRS. DAVIS”

Kevin knew all too well what he was getting himself into. He was aware that Aimee would come as part of a package. He understood that once he decided to marry her, he was also committing himself as an instant father to her three children. But he was already truly, madly, deeply in love with her, and he had also learned to love her children as if they were his own.

So, barely a week after he first met her for the first time, he put a ring on Aimee’s finger and made her Mrs. Kevin Davis.

Aimee had to stay in the US for a year while waiting for her green card so, with the kids temporarily left in the Philippines in the care of her older brother, that year sort of became their honeymoon. Wherever Kevin was deployed (he was with the US Navy), Aimee was not too far behind. She even followed him to Dubai and Singapore!

KEVIN AND AIMEE, TOGETHER AGAINST ALL ODDS

The funny couple has been married for eight years now, but anyone who sees how they look at each other could easily mistake them for newlyweds. One would have thought that the passing of time and all the challenges that they had — and still have — to face as a family would somehow diminish the saccharine quality of their affection for each other. But, it’s Aimee we’re talking about here. The same Aimee who is used to defying convention, who never lets things get her down, and who always manages to find humor in any situation, or a silver lining in every cloud.

Not everyone they love approved of their relationship, but Kevin and Aimee were able to prove to everyone that they are in it for the long haul.

Their marriage is characterized by long separations due to Kevin’s line of work, but they always make up for lost time whenever he is with his family.

Kevin and Aimee came from the opposite ends of the world and were raised in completely different cultures, but they have both learned to adjust to, accept and respect each other’s deeply-ingrained values and beliefs.

Aimee sustained a major emotional blow with the sudden passing of her beloved brother, the one who served as her anchor when her world was spinning out of control, but Kevin was able to alleviate her pain with his genuine concern and understanding.

Aimee suffered two miscarriages during the early part of their marriage, but baby number 4’s arrival in their life three years after their wedding was more than enough to compensate for their losses.

Baby number 3 has VSD, but he had a successful heart valve replacement surgery a couple of years back. He is now the family’s real-life Ironman.

5-year-old baby number 4 has AVM, another congenital disease that involves a rare vascular malformation of the brain. He is already scheduled to go under the knife next week, and his army of prayer warriors is now geared up for their task ahead.

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Kevin with his boys

Surely, the road that Kevin and Aimee are taking together with their family is strewn with many other difficulties and trials. But as long as they continue to nurture their love and dedication to each other, and maintain their attitude of not taking life too seriously, nothing could ever beat this formidable tandem. After all, humor is supposed to be a great way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities.

GRATEFUL (STILL) FOR 2016!

Bidding farewell to the old year to give way to the new one is always a bittersweet moment for me. It prods me to pause for a while, take stock of my life, and reflect on the many blessings I received during the last twelve months.

2016 has been a tumultuous year, but it brought with it many lessons and reasons to be thankful for.

People all over the world died and are dying due to a myriad of reasons — senseless wars, natural disasters, accidents, famine, crimes and diseases. I am thankful for each day that I find myself surrounded by my family and enveloped in the warmth of their love. Life is the most precious gift that we should never take for granted.

There are people who grow old not really knowing their passion and mission in life. There are also those who can’t act on them because of the fear of embarking on uncharted territory, or the fear of being judged, or some other more pressing limitation. I am just thankful that I was able to discover my passion for writing and my mission to hone, use and share that talent to inspire, entertain, empower, and educate others. I will continue to aim to be the voice of the voiceless.

Many of us, when faced with adversity and challenges, or when presented with seemingly tempting choices, tend to lose sight of and drift away from our most fundamental values and beliefs — as conscientious Christians, as law-abiding citizens, and as peace-loving individuals. I am thankful that, despite the frustrations and pent-up anger of a great number of Filipinos, and their ensuing clamor for change, I managed to maintain a tight grip to my moral compass, to stand firmly by my personal values, convictions and principles, and to remain faithful to my most basic beliefs.  Without that compass to carry around, one’s identity may forever be lost.

At a time when we are overwhelmed by a multitude of seemingly more urgent and important concerns, it is quite easy to put health-related issues on the proverbial back burner. I could only be thankful that my surgery last June was successful and virtually painless, that my father who suffered from two consecutive major strokes four years ago is now doing great, that my 66-year-old mother still has the stamina of an ox, that all my children, siblings, in-laws, and other relatives are physically well, and that my husband continues to enjoy splendid health two years after his kidney transplant. Health is wealth, indeed.

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Before the elections back in May, I actively campaigned against then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. I am thankful that, when he won the presidency (by a landslide, no less), I was able to graciously accept my defeat. I managed to move forward from what I then perceived to be my countrymen’s betrayal. I overcame my feelings of disappointment, hurt and anger. However, I vowed to remain vigilant, fearless, resolute and involved in guarding against those who would pose as threats to our nation and everything that it stands for, and at the same time, to keep an open mind to the new president’s not-so-conventional ways. I vowed to continue to be respectful of the Office of the President and to help in whatever capacity, but to not be blind to abuses of power, to never allow tyranny, and to help protect the country’s Constitution at all costs — even if the greatest threat to our democracy would come in the form of the President himself.

In the wake of the most engaging and divisive election that our country has ever witnessed, my respect for many of my friends, relatives and acquaintances crumbled. My relationships with them cracked and, eventually, shattered. For me, it is not a simple case of differing opinions. Rather, it is the kind of people that they chose to support, and the kind of people they have become as a result, that I find mind-boggling and disturbing. I am thankful though that, because of that same election, I was able to develop friendships and bonds based on mutual respect, and shared beliefs and aspirations. Friendships forged between and among people who adhere to the same principles and advocacies, I have come to realize, tend to be healthier, stronger and more productive and enduring.

Ever since the new administration took office, the country has been rocked unabatedly by many controversies, issues and tragedies — the dismissal of cases against former PGMA and her eventual release from hospital arrest; the historical revisionism perpetrated by the Marcoses and their minions; the staggering number of casualties as a consequence of the government’s continuing war on drugs; the severing of ties with the country’s long-time allied nations and trading partners; the death of decency, compassion and other values that used to be inherent in every peace-loving Filipino; the burial of a despicable dictator in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani; the impending return of another Marcos in Malacanang. The list appears to be endless. I am just thankful that all these developments galvanized us, Filipinos, to revisit our history, to rouse from our slumber of apathy and complacency, and to take to the streets our collective resistance and protest against all these injustices. The flames of vigilance, activism and patriotism have now been rekindled.

In the face of my struggles –– both personal and political —, I am thankful that my faith in the Lord has remained complete, absolute and unwavering. I trust that everything that happens to me, to my family, to my country, and to my planet is designed for a higher purpose — to be revealed to me in His own perfect time. I believe that He will not bring me any burden that I cannot carry. Finally, I am optimistic that the coming days will usher in genuine hope, and positive and concrete solutions to all our problems.

Thank you and goodbye, 2016!

Hello and welcome, 2017!