Tuesday, February 03, 2015

No Peace in Mindanao

There will never be peace with our Muslim Filipinos. Let us not delude ourselves that Islam is a religion of peace. A Jihad in the suras taken from the Verse of the Sword of the Quran has been established during the time of Muhammad and this persists to this day.

To the uninitiated the Quran seems to be a book of contradictions but Quranic scholars explain that the interpretation of the suras should take into account the principle of abrogation which is the voiding of early suras by most recent ones. The earlier suras (revelations of Allah through Muhammad) exhort its members to live a peaceful, compassionate, and Christian-like life while suras that came later were instructions on spreading the faith through belligerence and barbaric means.

The author Hilaire Belloc in his book The Great Heresies, an account of the heresies that besieged the Catholic Church in its early days wrote that Islam, at its beginnings took much from the scriptures of the Bible thus making it very similar to the Catholic faith in its basic tenets. The foundation of Muhammad’s early teachings such as one omnipotent God whose nature was that of a benevolent, all powerful and timeless provider were taken from the Christian notion of the divine. The idea of evil arising from the rebellion of evil spirits (angels led by Satan) was inspired by the Bible’s account of it. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, free will (responsibility to one’s actions) and the divine retribution (punishment in the hereafter) much like the ones found in the Catholic doctrines were incorporated into the early Islamic suras, albeit, a corruption, a simple adoption of some tenets without the man made accretions and minus sacramental items of faith.

At the time of its inception Islam was correctly perceived as a religion of peace. Changing fortunes of Islam caused it to adapt to a more appropriate religious stance, that of a powerful, aggressive and belligerent religion. The changes towards the New Islam seem to have been dictated by the power status of the religion. Islamic scholars talk of Meccan days, the simple beginnings, seemingly without strength, benign and peaceful and the Medinan days, a time of increasing followers, strength and self confidence that transformed Islam into an aggressive, expansionary, militaristic and politically motivated religion. The characteristics of the Meccan suras, revealed at a time that Islam was vulnerable, were in most part benign; the later suras, the Medinan ones, were barbaric and bellicose, appropriate to its power status. The suras revealed later in Muhammad’s life, named Verse of the Sword, exhorted the faithful to use violence and barbaric scourging of the non-believers and fight them to their extinction or until they have submitted themselves to accept their subjugation and pay poll tax to their Islamic masters.

There are times in the Islamic calendar, coinciding with the passing of their sacred months, that they are instructed to kill the non-believers everywhere through siege and capture by carefully planned ambuscades.

Having superseded the earlier benign suras, the new ones abrogated the old suras, thus the new Islamic creed that is currently practiced is that of the Verse of the Sword, suras that advocate belligerency . The principle of abrogation is critical in Quranic interpretation. Later suras cancel and replace earlier ones whose instructions may be contradictory. The Quran’s commandments are very clear and that is to wage war in the name of Allah against those who deride and mock Islam, and those of any denomination, affiliation, association and political persuasion that are not necessarily opposed, but have different teachings from Islam. In this manner Islam has defined the conflict as one between Islam and all others.

The Muslim-non Muslim problem at this time, may be looked at as a zero sum game with both sides not willing to give up a single chip of their holdings. Each act of any of the sides may be considered as self defense since the consequence is annihilation. The question of who initiated the move to aggress the other is a difficult one. Even history and contemporary events have inadequate answers. To what extent did the Crusades exacerbate the animosity between Islam and Christianity? Is the natural acquisitiveness of man, of race and of nations to blame? What about the greed of capitalistic societies, the oil trade? The arms race? Territorial imperatives, the unlawful occupation of land? The stolidness of religious convictions? The avenging of old hurts? The perverse glee of the oppressor, and the anger of the oppressed and the disadvantaged? Perhaps not just one of these is to blame for the strife.

 The Muslim Mindanao problem will not be settled by any pact or treaty. Islam is bent on subjugating the whole world. Its adherents have been commanded by a divine and immutable decree. The best that the non-Muslims can do is to stall the progress of this struggle but it will not stop until one or the other has been completely eliminated. Islam is not a religion of peace. They are in a war of attrition to achieve complete subjugation of all those outside their faith. Any notion of peace with Muslim Mindanao is just wishful thinking.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Confronting China

"So far the hawks are all overseas Filipinos...", observed by a FilAm on the discussion of what we should do to stop the usurpation of our sovereign territories in the West Philippine Sea. This is true and their belligerent stand is shared by a few locals who advocate the use of force to reclaim the sovereign territories already being occupied with the building of military and civilian structures by the Chinese. 
The Vietnamese sent their boats to harass the oil rig construction on their claimed territory which somewhat impeded the work and sent an unequivocal message that they will not allow themselves to be bullied regardless of the sabre rattling ostensibly displayed by the Chinese.
At present so much has already been occupied of the areas we claim as part of our sovereign territory; the building of what seemed to be a strategic airfield, the military garrisons, establishment of civilian structures and institutions and naming them as Chinese geographic settlements are far more established than the unfinished oil rig that the Vietnamese are resisting. The Chinese would be loath to give up so much of what they have already gained and the forcible reclamation of these by the Philippines may result in strong retaliatory actions as compared to the less combative reaction they had on the oil rig construction.
While there is the compelling obligation for us to have an active resistance to the Chinese encroachments we need to weigh very carefully the possible consequences that such actions may result into. Can we with our pitiable military resources come up with something which will make the Chinese do a double take or will our efforts just be pooh poohed as some laughable tiresomeness? Assuming we fight back and the Chinese resist militarily would our allies be fighting alongside us? I think we will be fighting this alone and for sure we are going to lose...lost the war but won back our self respect and (probably) won the admiration of other nations. Fine, but what about the material losses, the loss of Filipino lives, the loss of more sovereign territories (the victors will find opportunity to extend their spoils).
I am not advocating passivity. We should take drastic action to prevent further losses from the Chinese incursions. Let us protect the turf that has not been taken yet by beefing up our military capability and use it to guard (credibly) untaken territories.
Also, let us do extensive housecleaning and rid ourselves of trojan horses already implanted in strategic areas (institutions, business concerns, civilian groups, lobbies) who have been formed to serve the interests of China and personalities (politicians, businessmen, "opinion" leaders) whose acts and pronouncements are pro-China and are inimical to the nation's security and well being.
It is about time that we expose those who have been eroding the foundations of this country to make it easy prey to an imperialist China.
We should not wage a military confrontation. We should choose engagements that we have a chance of winning. David's well aimed pebbles to bring down the giant and not a foolhardy charge of the six hundred light brigade nor the honorable deaths of the three hundred at Termophylae.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tanka Moments III

 Come let us gambol

Trampling down wild flowers
Jumping low bushes
Scraping your knees on sharp thorns
Let me kiss away the sore

I might chance to see
Your loveliness and your grace
In the first glimmer
Are you prettiest in sunlight
Or in the glow of full moon?

Do you think in dread
That your indiscretion leads
To disaffection?
Fear not, a plucked rose remains
As sweet as those in the bower

The morning found me
Moping beneath the duvet
Denied a good night
Left clinging on unsteady vines
Sent home without a fond kiss

I whiled through the sounds
Frog's grunts, cicada's buzz saw
But not finding yours
Only the memory heard
A soothing wind-borne whisper

You chided me then
When I asked for affection
Slapping my hands
And I, tremulous with fear
Withdrew in the raging rain

Rose petals wilted
The breeze blew the crimson flecks
On trellis floor laid
Attempts to restore, in vain
I will send bouquets again

Can you stay longer?
At least until the rain stops
My bed is still warm
With your smoldering kiss
And your scorching embrace

The dawn we failed to see
Neath blankets huddling in the cold
But no big regrets
Wait till tomorrow, my love
And maybe miss it again

Lovers cowering
In the long shadows of dawn
Fearful to be seen
Anxious of the consequence
Of last night’s wanton delights

I mentioned your name
And songbirds sang it like a tune
They gathered around
The rosebush and the green ferns
Humming the wondrous refrain

I hesitated
To say my true feelings
Soon after our tryst
The memory of your lips
Told me to be eloquent

Tanka Moments II

A distant rumble
Scatter the sparrows in roost
Nestlings abandoned
I rue her hasty goodbye
Written on fragile linen   

Fallen Jasmine lie
On a swath of weeded green
Fragile petals crushed
Rejected by a scorned lady
On an indiscreet lover

Moon hiding in haste
Passes through clustered dark clouds
Not wanting to see
A lover running barefoot
Midst the howl of the lord’s hounds

Haughty palms swaying
Fighting off the scorching heat
Give little comfort
To an unrequited plea
On a glaring noonday sun 

Hummingbirds flutter
On trellised bougainevilleas
Scaring honeybees
Away from the sweet nectar
That they flew for miles and miles

I run on mown grass
Slipping on wet green carpet
Her hurried footfalls
Resound like carillon bells
Cheer me on to hot pursuit

Whereupon I gazed
At her decorous bearing
Captured the moment
Of classical elegance
Mounted on a marble stand  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tanka Moments I

A midmorning sun
Scorched hapless tiny blooms
A wide brim sunhat
Covered her delicate face
Hiding a girlish giggle

Roosters crowing out
Birds chirping ‘neath the bowers
Clarions in the morn
My lover stirred on waking
Ah, what a joy to behold

Wet mist woke me up
A cold slap on my sleepy face
Yesterday’s warmth gone
Your train rumbled on the tracks
Left a forlorn heart in grief

Shimmering early light
Cast on fishponds on the lake
Bouncing flecks of light
On lovers at the ridge’s edge
Bodies hug to fend the cold

Dancing through the night
Red lights dominating the hall
Rouged up faces dart
Sensuous moments in flashes
In the still of a stupor

Searching in the bush
For freshly bloomed azaleas
Guided by a scent
Leading to a lush trellis
You feigned seeing me come near

The setting sun rests
Cradled on a line of pines
Slowly receding
Like love torn souls in farewell
Fending off the creeping dark

My unkempt bed speaks
Of wild clashes in the night
Fiery bodies rage
Endless nights in summer heat
Letting loose unbridled passions

The evergreens stand proud
Swagger atop frail hedges
Owning the cold dawn
The day will be unforgiving
And so will she be at noon

My heart is out sync
With the striking of the clock
My love is not by the gate
On the promised trysting hour
A silhouette stirs from afar

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mendicant Children: Our Future

The situation regarding the controversial “pork barrel” scam is fast becoming confused and adumbrated. What started out as a hope filled brilliant light at the end of the tunnel has now been shrouded in sooty smog. What a big majority of us thought was a major headway in P’noy’s mission to eradicate corruption in government has been blunted by frenetic efforts of those who were most threatened by prosecution, together with their allies and those who benefit from status quo. A lot of us well meaning citizens were in ecstatic joy when the “pork scandal” first surfaced. But what is it now?...the whole event has turned into a temple of Babel, a confused plaza of shouting matches, misdirection with false leads, broad gauge shots of accusations and the creation of opportunistic alliances with groups that have no relevance to the issues except  for a common contrarian stance against the government of P’noy. All these have been cleverly orchestrated to delay the prosecution of the major protagonists (JPE, Bong, Jinggoy and some congressmen). 

The opposition has succeeded in no mean way. The popularity rating of P’noy has gone down significantly and quite a few who earlier supported Pnoy are now a befuddled lot, playing into the hands of the other side by joining marches that included the agenda of the left and being convinced of the clever ploy of making “pork barrel” per se as an evil thing, the president’s budget included. They have managed to convince a lot of people that the budget, even that of the president’s, is evil. By attaching the emotional term “pork” on the chief executive’s budget they, with the help of the mercenary army of hacks in broadcast and print media, have been successful in staining the president’s reputation. The ploy is not so much to hamstring the president’s ability to make the government function, but, to besmirch his name as a “pork” user himself to the point of calling him “Pork King”. At some juncture in time, the focus to get things done urgently was lost as there were those of us who joined in raising the number count and the noise level to several decibels higher, thus helping the cause of the other side.

For us who want P’noy to succeed, all we want to happen is to have a quick prosecution of the main suspects. The successful prosecution of the big time perpetrators will pave the way for reforms in government and its bureaucracy; this will spell the end of institutionalised corruption. The wheel of justice in our country grinds exceedingly slow and if we let this run at its usual pace we would have given the perpetrators a chance to be pardoned by P’noy’s successor, a somebody who may be as “friendly” as PGMA, who in her tenure pardoned the most obnoxious miscreants. When this happens, we are back to square one, and the evil powers have saved “happy days” once more.

Through all these years, what has transpired in the last few months would be the only real opportunity to cleanse government of graft and corruption. Without the expose’ of the PDAF scam involving our senators, congressmen and other government position holders, the country was traversing a moribund path towards an inextricable quagmire that will condemn generations of Filipinos into lives of deprivation, illiteracy and anomie. A sharp contrast to “daang matuwid” which promises the long sought redemption of the Filipino from the entrenched graft and corrupt way of life which only benefits the 1%.

Realistically, some of us in this forum may no longer see the changes come about in our lifetime, but, all we want is to be assured that systemic corruption has been halted and that this insidious cancer would not continue to metastasize and crush all hopes we have for our children and grandchildren.

The efforts of the other side have been fierce and relentless. The people behind the effort to blunt the resonance of the “pork barrel” scam are experts at managing and creating events. With the aid of spin doctors and incredible hacks in media they were able to confuse the issues through disinformation and misinformation. Desperate and vicious counterattacks have been fast and furious and have managed to succeed in shattering the conviction of some who were supportive of Pnoy’s initiatives earlier. Rallies started with honest intentions and were real expressions of outrage against the excesses of the legislators. Succeeding rallies became opportunities for the other side to obfuscate issues. Teaming up with parties with other agendas, but with common hostility towards Pnoy, they were able to distract and cause some of the pro Pnoy groups to lose their focus. In the meantime, the henchmen of the other side are busy at work creating all sorts of distractions designed to delay the prosecution of the perpetrators.

For those who continue to go against Pnoy and his mission, I urge you to examine your motives for siding with the other side. I refuse to believe that the reasons could be ideological, or a difference in program of governance or patriotism. I don’t think anyone will disagree that the system we have lived with all these years has been a patently corrupt one and that reforms have long been needed and neither is it arguable that our government officials; senators, congressmen and some members of the bureaucracy have committed heinous and unconscionable crimes against the Filipino people and this travesty need to be redressed.

What are the reasons why there are still people who support the other side despite their obvious evil intentions? Why don’t they support Pnoy?

Let me hazard a few guesses:

1.     they  believe that “pork barrel” is inherently evil
2.     they now believe that P’noy is equally guilty because he himself has “pork”
3.     they believe that P’noy’s sincerity is not enough to create positive change
4.     they believe that everybody in the COA report should be charged immediately
5.     they are part of the group of politicians who benefit from status quo,
6.     they are among those threatened by prosecution for involvement or are complicit to defraud the government,
7.      they have familial relationships with the those on the other side,
8.     they have existing businesses and undertakings that will be adversely affected by the reforms,
9.     they have close friends and associates who are enmeshed in the scandal,
10.  they have an axe to grind against P’noy,
11.   they owe a debt of gratitude with the suspects in the “pork barrel” scam
12.  they are of the conviction that we need to have a change of government or ideology (against Pnoy or any other president),
13.  they have a mercenary relationship with the opposition and the suspects
14.  they entertain the hope that the “well” has not yet dried up when they get elected in the future  
15.  they don’t really care because they have a weak allegiance to the country,
16.  they have a sense of loyalty for being with them for a long time etc. etc.
17.  They are employed in businesses, institutions and professional offices owned by the other side

Well, if it is not any of the above, we can easily manufacture one. The human mind is so resilient that it can rationalize readily an opinion even if it is blatantly indefensible. Going through the list help us identify real motives from the rationalized ones.

No matter how much rationalisation is done to assuage and hide the guilt, the spectre of mendicant children of our future...maybe of our own grandchildren, weighs heavy on the mind and will haunt us because a sea change in the country was happening but we let it go with the tide.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Charges Have Been Filed, What Next?

What Next? Everybody’s asking.

When a dog has caught up with the car he is chasing what will he do with it? As everyone knows the dog will have earned the right to pee on the tires, it is not only right and just, but instinct dictates it.

The government has caught up with Janet Napoles, a potential star witness to the unearthed scams perpetrated by the some senators, congressmen together with possible accomplices in the bureaucracy. Like the speedy dog earning his right to pee on the tires, which the dog immediately did before the car drove away, the government should instinctively do what it has to do after a successful chase…investigate and prosecute immediately, otherwise the suspected miscreants would have time to regroup and make their getaway either by wheel chair, which is the getaway vehicle of choice of many miscreants; by pulling a Copperfield disappearing act; or by allowing it to go to the usual courts where the case will languish in the dockets far longer than even the life time of the youngest senator or congressman.

It seems that Philippine courts are the holding areas of the guilty rich and evil people for the Court of Courts up there, where all of them wait for Divine Justice to be meted out on them, something they have been successful in parrying on earth. Most will get their comeuppance here, where ultimate justice will be served on everyone and harsh punishment of hellfire and eternal damnation will be meted without the benefit of appeals. Some by grace and by the infinite mercy of the Almighty will not be punished in perpetua, but, for a limited stay in an unknown and desolate waiting place.  Attorneys Lorna Kapunan, Sigried Fortun and any of the “de campana” lawyers’ pleas will be not heeded. Even if you kill one of them to accompany their client it will be to no avail for he or she will have to worry about the unfiled cases against them on earth but are already set for litigation, up there, in the Court of Courts. They will be too busy defending themselves.

It seems that the Pnoy has been pussyfooting on making a decision to push for speedy investigations. It seems that unlike dogs (of the James Thurber kind), the government is lacking in instinctive actions. Thurber’s dogs seem to be a lot cooler and smarter. While Pnoy vacillates the suspects are able to regroup after the initial shock and are now busy with cover up strategies, intensifying media noise through their battery of paid hacks in print and broadcast media spewing all sorts of disinformation and sowing intrigue through innuendoes. Their lawyers are burning the midnight oil and eyebrows looking for loopholes, evidence suppression ploys, crafting libel suits by the hundreds, searching for jurisprudence that can be twisted, weaving tales, fabricating alibis, buying expert witnesses to prove forgeries, selecting medical practitioners who may come in handy when the going gets rough for their clients and other useful tactics to delay trials or even exonerate their clients from the charges. And chances are, they will succeed, a favourite case that is always alluded to is the Ampatuan massacre case which through shrewd lawyering was able to extend the trial for a ridiculous length of time with not a single accused being sentenced. With all the delay, more victims have been added to the list as men with tales to tell continue to disappear.

Something has to be done about our justice system, at least for the time being when we seek to prosecute the guilty parties of this heinous crime of depriving the citizens of the republic, most of whom are impoverished, of the money allotted for their amelioration. At least seventy percent of the money allocated by the government for services to be rendered to its citizens have been purloined by the very people who were supposed to look after them. Senators and congressmen have brazenly ransacked the till without regard to the people who have placed them in their positions. The pork barrel crimes become more insidious in a backdrop of grinding poverty and high unemployment rates.

Finally after some prodding from the people, charges have been put together and filed. This was a cause for elation, for at least, what seemed a stolid and immoveable phase has finally been resolved and the process is off to a start. The joy is short lived, we are now about to start on the next chapter which is the prosecution of the alleged perpetrators of the scam. Preliminary investigations follow soon after the charges are made. With the voluminous documents gathered by the Justice Department, truckloads as reported, one could expect that some time will be spent poring over all the evidences before the Ombudsman can file charges and issue warrants of arrest on the suspects. Plunder is a nonbailable offense, it calls for an immediate expulsion from any government position and it will place them in jail detention.

With the money and influence most of the suspects have at their disposal, the initial time estimate before charges could be filed would be at least two years. Then the litigations would probably take, conservatively another three years or more depending on how much money is available for their defense. Defense would include use of the network of friends in the courts, the effectiveness of their dilatory tactics, expert witnesses of all kinds, defaulting circumstances, fabrication of evidences and more depending on how many tricks the lawyers have in their bag of magic.

The estimated time for the cases to progress are experience based, historical and in the normality of things (normal being dilatory tactics and other influences will be exerted as is normal in Philippines). If allowed its normal course some of the suspects will probably get his just deserts in the Court of Courts while the others will probably still be around but with extreme depletions from their loot due to the lengthy litigations their cases have taken. The loot would have transferred to a new power group, the creation of the lawyer oligarchs.

But we should take hear.t that at the forefront of side of the people are three stalwarts, three “iron ladies” which journalists prefer to describe them. The ladies are Ombudsman Charito Carpio Morales, COA Commissioner Gracia Pulido Tan and DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima. All three are feistiness personified. Tough, uncompromising and doggedly determined to fight corruption and criminality.

We have seen how focused Leila de Lima was when the scam surfaced with the rescue of the whistle blowers from illegal detention.  Gracia Pulido Tan with her people in COA had assiduously put together a report that was so comprehensive that those alluded to either vehemently reacted or just went into a low profile stance. Ombudsman Charito Carpio Morales, in anticipation did her own investigate work even before the DOJ delivered the documentary evidence. She more or less promised that her work will be completed in a year’s time.

Despite this formidable team working on our side, the citizens, we cannot just lay back and feel smug that all will be well. This is not a time for complacency; we have hardly won anything, there is an eternity of time between now and the conviction of the guilty ones. The other side is composed of strong and well heeled; they will not just lie supinely in their backs and let justice take its course. No way. These are cornered rats fighting for survival with awesome resources. We are in for a long, vicious protracted fight and vigilance must be maintained till the threat is repelled.

All these dangers have been foreseen and what worried most of us is that nothing might come out of this because the suspected perpetrators are from the powerful political blocs and families who would definitely fight tooth and nail in their defense. The most discouraging thought is the ineptness and the slow moving Philippine judicial process. The Ampatuan case, where the accused parties are patently guilty of the most heinous wholesale massacre of media men and political rivals is more than five years in the works without any sign of ever being resolved. The first tranch of cases filed already included quite a lot; the waiting list of persons to be charged is even longer. If nothing is changed with the way courts handle cases the pork litigations will still be around in the next generation.

During the early discussions in our e-groups I came up with a suggestion on an abridged judicial process and other ways of proceeding.


The first step is identifying persons, institutions who may be involved in the scam.

The Defendants

      1.   Case against Government personalities (elected or appointed)

A.  Legislators and other government officials (elected or appointed) with pork barrel entitlements

B.  Accomplices in government. Officials of implementing agencies, cabinet members and their staff who knowingly aided and abetted the scam


2.   Non government personalities and entities

a.   Persons or institutions (companies, NGOs) who set up the structure of the scam operations

b.   Persons who operated the institutions involved in the scam

c.   And personnel who knowingly aided and abetted the scam

d.   Other nongovernment institutions and persons complicit in the crime (banks, law enforcement, others who aided the commission of the crime)

Secondly, to address the concern of the snails’ pace our judicial process moves I suggested the convening of a special court to expedite the proceedings.


Convening of A Special Court To Try the Cases

1.   Introduce new features in litigation rules which could prevent dilatory and other process impeding tactics.

2.   Nonstop hearing schedules

3.   One legislative defendant at a time. There will be similarities in most cases. The first one may serve as jurisprudence to expedite the trials of the subsequent ones

4.   Rigorous screening of judges who will be involved in trying the cases

5.   Rigorous screening of the team that will compose the prosecution to avoid unwitting or witting ineptness and errors that could result in defaults

Thirdly, there are a myriad concerns that are corollary to the judicial process in this scam. I have listed a few which I felt those involved should be aware of. The list is by no means exhaustive and there would still be quite a few that could be added.

Other Concerns

1.   Safeguarding witnesses

2.   Safeguarding material evidences

3.   Continuous search for new evidences and witnesses

4.   Money/asset securing procedures (precaution and pre-emption)

5.   Ensuring that the defendants do not flee the country

6.   Media management – media bureau to brief media and for press releases

7.   Security management of court venue/s and others where threats exist

At this time the first tranch of charges has been filed. The DOJ has done its investigation on the priority cases, the COA has completed a comprehensive report on the PDAF transactions (clean and the questionable ones), the ombudsman has geared up doing parallel investigative work even before receiving the documented evidences from the DOJ. It seems we’re off to an auspicious start and will be making headways into the successful prosecution of the guilty parties. We need to stay vigilant as there will be twists and turns as the cases progress.
Let’s all keep on trucking.