The dishrag calling the dust cloth dirty

January 15, 2012. A few days ago, a paper written by ex-President Gloria Arroyo entitled “It’s the economy, student!” was released to the public. In the piece, the ex-President went on great length to champion her economic programs on one hand and to and bash President Aquino for failing to ‘sustain’ the gains she boasts to have accomplished on the other.

What really is the fundamental difference between economic policies of the two? Nothing. President Aquino merely continues the same economic policies of President Arroyo.

Both Presidents’ economic programs adhere to the same dogma of neoliberal globalization. It’s the economy, all right–the economy of big businessmen, foreign investors and their local counterparts. Whether or not ordinary Filipinos benefit from such economic growth is merely incidental. They have a phrase for it–“trickle down” effect. Numbers that proclaim economic growth are rendered meaningless by the fact that poverty has continued to worsen over the decade, so much that the government had to re-define and lower the poverty threshold. The vision of economic prosperity and survival is entirely dependent on foreign investors and all the economic programs of President Aquino and his predecessors are aligned with the agenda of these monopoly capitalists and their local counterparts.

Both Presidents have pushed for the further privatization of public utilities by selling contracts to roads and other public services to private profiteers. Both administrations have strengthened the deregulation of industries imbued with public interest and rejected clamors to repeal the laws that allow such deregulation, from the oil industry (Oil Deregulation Law) to power generation and distribution (EPIRA) to education (Education Act of 1982), which have resulted to public services that are increasingly out of reach to ordinary Filipinos and are increasingly profitable to private corporations.

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Taking the side of neither bully in the school yard

January 5, 2012. Our involvement with the issue of the Chief Justice’s impeachment must not degenerate into taking sides from among the warring political factions of the government, for we must remember that what truly matters is the people’s welfare. Beyond all the cacophony of this political circus, the truth remains that both contending ruling cliques have their own vested agenda. The Aquino and the Arroyo groups have taken advantage and exploited this feud in order to portray themselves as heroes and saints while neither of them genuinely address the basic pursuit of social justice in the country.

To take side with either bully of the schoolyard is not a choice, it is a false dichotomy.

On one hand, if we are truly for judicial integrity and independence, we should welcome the opportunity for the Chief Justice to defend himself against allegations of partiality in an impeachment trial. We should caution against those who portray the impeachment of the Chief Justice as an attack against the Judiciary as an institution and paint several personalities as martyrs. Impeachment per se is not a breach of judicial independence. Impeachment is a mechanism for Congress to fulfill its check and balance function as representatives of the people. It is not a mere surplusage in our Constitution. Our Supreme Court Justices, highly esteemed by some of us as they may be, are not infallible demigods who are immune from scrutiny and criticism, and they remain to be public officials who are accountable to the people.

We should also welcome the impeachment as a step in holding accountable the past administration of former President Arroyo, for it is undeniable that while the Chief Justice is in power, the integrity and impartiality of all Supreme Court decisions with regard the Chief Justice’s former principal, to whom he has served as chief of staff and legal counsel, will be put into question. Judging the pattern of decisions and opinions of the Chief Justice, indeed his impartiality is in doubt.

On the other hand, we should also caution our support for such pursuit of judicial integrity by refusing to throw all our weight behind the Aquino clique, for it is readily apparent that this is a machination to consolidate all branches of government at his disposal, after a consistent pattern of Supreme Court decisions that run against the present administration’s interests, the final straw being that of the decision regarding Hacienda Luisita. Removing an Arroyo-appointed Chief Justice opens the golden opportunity for President Aquino to install his own. In that regard, we should also remain vigilant in the common pursuit of a Supreme Court that is truly an independent entity capable of dispensing legal matters with fairness and justice.

At the end of the day, while we are being made to watch this political circus the prevailing fact remains, President Aquino has no clear program of action to resolve the root causes of massive poverty and injustice in the Philippines but a rehash the same old bankrupt economic framework and political policies of his predecessors, including former President Arroyo. All President Aquino has to show for, laudable as it may be, is a smokescreen of anti-corruption rhetoric. Such is merely a staged showdown between his administration and Arroyo’s which does not address the basic problems of the people. After all, in the final analysis, how different are the two cliques from each other?

* with reference to former President Arroyo’s infamous line in response to critics: “I’m tired of chasing the bullies around the schoolyard!”

[This is a statement I wrote for the Civil Law Student Council of UST with regard to the political issue of the Chief Justice’s impeachment trial]

Day 1 of Mendiola Camp-Out Protest

December 6, 2011.

We are calling on all Filipinos, fed up with the status quo and united in a common hope for a better present and future without the suffering that we witness everyday, to launch actions, strikes, walk-outs and to join a historic nationwide camp-out protest this December. We can no longer stand a twisted social set-up that robs the majority of our people of a decent life and basic social services. We can no longer stand a social system that produces immense wealth for foreign interests and a few as the people, who toil all their lives, are increasingly pushed deeper into hunger, poverty and injustice. We continuously attempted to make those in power heed our call for change. But they refuse to listen, and instead, constantly barrage us with lies, cover-up stunts, insults and threats of force. Like thieves, they railroad unjust measures, they rule with impunity and dare to call it democracy. Sawang-sawa na tayo.

UP Diliman mock senatorial elections

Two of the three major student political parties in UP Diliman conducted their own mock elections this week. KAISA, held theirs last Monday. ALYANSA, on the other hand, held theirs yesterday. Both elections showed the same set of twelve candidates in the winning circle, with some variations in ranking.

KAISA-sponsored (5/7/07) ALYANSA-sponsored (5/9/07)
1. Francis Escudero 464 1. Francis Escudero 829
2. Francis Pangilinan 399 2. Francis Pangilinan 762
3. Loren Legarda 372 3. Joker Arroyo 744
4. Joker Arroyo 337 4. Manuel Villar 638
5. Manuel Villar 326 5. Loren Legarda 611
6. Benigno Aquino III 296 6. Benigno Aquino III 531
7. Alan Cayetano 284 7. Panfilo Lacson 529
8. Panfilo Lacson 246 8. Alan Cayetano 480
9. Ralph Recto 245 9. Ralph Recto 454
10. Juan Miguel Zubiri 242 10. Juan Miguel Zubiri 442
11. Edgardo Angara 232 11. Edgardo Angara 427
12. Michael Defensor 213 12. Michael Defensor 366
13. Antonio Trillanes IV 198
14. Aquilino Pimentel III 192
15. Sonia Roco 143

Linya: Tayong mga lider

I will run this ahead of our school magazine since I can’t wait, and what I’ve said is becoming obsolete by the days. I’ve written my linya column still a month ago. The second issue of Hilites Magazine will be released to the high school two weeks from now. (Refer: my first column)

Tayong mga lider
ni Victor Villanueva

Rinding-rindi na ang mga tenga ng maraming Atenista sa karirinig ng 5-C’s at men for others na ‘yan. Tayo daw kasi ang mga magiging mga pinuno ng ating lipunan pagdating ng panahon. Ang kapal! Pero ano magagawa natin, eh totoo. Mahirap isipin na kuta ng pagsasanay ang ating munting high school ng mga pinuno. Pero totoo. Walang biro. Hindi ko na rin gagamitin sina Jose Rizal at Evelio Javier bilang patunay.

Ang mga mahusay na patunay ay ang labinlimang kongresista sa ating kasalukuyang Mababang Kapulungan na nanggaling sa Ateneo High School. Sila sina Reps. Carlos Imperial ng Albay (1952), Agapito Aquino ng Makati (1955), Exequiel Javier ng Antique (1959), Wilfrido Villarama ng Bulacan (1960), Victor Sumulong ng Antipolo (1964), James Gordon Jr. ng Zambales (1965), Florencio Abad ng Batanes (1972), Juan Ponce Enrile Jr. ng Cagayan (1976), Benigno Aquino III ng Tarlac (1977), Francisco Perez III ng Batangas (1982), Joel Almario ng Davao Oriental (1983), Gilbert Remulla ng Cavite (1988), Felix Fuentebella ng Camarines Sur (1993), Michael Duavit ng Rizal, at Mark Jimenez ng Maynila (pero hindi na siya kongresista ngayon).

Dami, ‘no? Oo, hindi n’yo kilala ang marami sa kanila. Ilan lang sa kanila ang tumagal sa mga pambansang balita para maalala natin nang husto. Kung hindi man sila mismo ang tagapaghatid ng balita tulad ni Rep. Gilbert Remulla na ngayo’y isa sa mga madalas na nagsasalita para sa oposisyon. Isa naman sa madalas na nagsasalita para sa kowalisyon ng administrasyon si dating Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rep. Florencio Abad. Kasama s’ympre sa mga madalas napapabalita si Ex-Rep. Mark Jimenez, na ngayo’y nakakulong sa Estados Unidos. Kabilang rin sa mga mas kilala si Rep. Felix “Wimpy” Fuentebella. Siya ang pangunahing proponent ng napaka-kontrobersyal na impeachment case laban kay Punong Hukom Hilario Davide. Isa rin sa mga ‘impeachment kids’ o ‘brats’ na minsang lumabas ang larawan sa front page ng Philippine Daily Inquirer si Rep. Michael Duavit.

Liban sa mga kongresista, apat na miyembro ng gabinete ni Pangulong Gloria Arroyo ay nagtapos rin ng high school sa Ateneo. Sila sina Dick Gordon ng Department of Tourism, Leonardo Montemayor ng Department of Agriculture, Romulo Neri ng National Economic & Development Authority, at si Manuel Roxas II ng Department of Trade & Industry. Sa apat na ito, kilalang-kilala na siguro na marami sa atin si Mar Roxas ng DTI. Kung hindi ba naman oras-oras tayong pinaaalahanan sa telebisyon na consumer welfare month ang buwan ng Oktubre at pati na rin Nobyembre, paano ba natin hindi maaalala si Mr. Palengke.

Kulang na kulang ang isang pitak para ilahad ko ang lahat ng mga nasa gobyernong galing sa Ateneo High School. Liban sa mga kasalukuyang pinuno natin, marami ring mga anak ng mga lider at politiko dito sa High School. Sa isang bansa kung saan usung-uso ang sunud-sunod na pagtakbo sa halalan ng magkakapamilya, hindi malayong naririto na ang ilan sa mga kongresista, mga alkalde, o mga gobernador ng bansa natin sa hinaharap. Hindi ako nagbibiro, nagiging lider ang Atenista. Ikaw, puwedeng-puwede kang maging pulitiko kahit hindi ka kabilang sa isang political dynasty o wala kang pangalang tinutungtungan. Aba’t kahit nakatira ka sa Quezon City o sa Makati buong buhay mo, magtayo ka lang ng bahay sa kahit ano sa pitompu’t limang lalawigan ng Pilipinas at sabihin mong doon ka nananahan (kahit hindi ka doon nakatira), ay puwedeng-puwede ka nang tumakbo bilang isang lokal na opisyal. Maraming ganyan!

Napakaraming Atenista ngayon ang nasa pedestal ng kapangyarihan sa gobyerno at negosyo. Malapit na ang eleksyon ng 2004. Siguradong may dadagdag na namang mga Atenista sa ranggo ng ating mga kasalukuyang mga pinuno. Baka sa mga susunod na mga taon darating na rin ang unang taga-Ateneo High School na magiging Pangulo ng Pilipinas (kung hindi natin ibibilang si Joseph Estrada). Malay mo, baka nasa ating munting high school na siya ngayon. Huwag sana nating kalimutan ang mga natutunan natin sa high school. ‘Wag na tayong dumagdag sa mga bumigo sa Ateneo at sa pangarap nito para sa mga mag-aaral na hinubog niya. Habang-buhay na lang ba tayo mag-aasam ng pagbabago? Ang mga Atenista, nagiging mga pinuno, tunay at hindi.