WE WERE WARNED. WE JUST NEVER LISTENED.

14528339_120300000374871248_1627833714_n
Image grabbed from the net

With everything that’s happening in our country today, nalulungkot ako.

Nagagalit ako.

Nanlulumo ako.

Nagtataka ako.

At minsan pa, napapailing ako at nasasabi ko sa aking sarili, “Wala na yata talagang pag-asa ang mga Pilipino. The country is doomed. Panahon na para isuko natin ang laban.

As of the latest count, more than 6,200 people are dead since Pres. Duterte took office six months ago and waged an intense all-out war against drugs. Ang mga balita that we wake up to each morning hinggil sa mga patayan sa nakaraang gabi ay karaniwang ipinagkikibit-balikat na lang natin. We, as a nation, have been desensitized because of over-exposure to such regular occurrences. After all, bakit pa nga ba tayo magugulat sa mga patayang ito? Hindi ba’t binalaan na tayo ni Digong when he was still campaigning na kapag nanalo siya, “it will be bloody, really bloody”?

Ilang beses nang naglabas ng narco lists at drug matrix si Presidente Duterte kung saan he names and shames officials and personalities na hinihinalang sangkot sa drug trade. Tama, the operative word here is “hinihinala”. Nalalagay sa alanganin ang reputasyon at buhay ng mga taong ito, pati na rin ang kanilang mga pamilya, based sa listahan na hindi maituturing na fool-proof at posible pa ngang compromised ang integridad. Sa katunayan, the president once issued an apology to some Pangasinan officials who “were wrongly included in the list”. E paano na ung mga napatay na ng mga pulis o vigilante? Sorry na lang ba ‘yun, better luck next time? Hindi na rin ba applicable ang “save the user, jail the pusher” campaign? Sabagay, ang pinapatay nga lang pala ay ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan. But some people would still ask, “Nasaan kasi ang due process? Bakit hindi kasuhan ang mga suspects na ito and allow them their day in court? Bakit kailangan silang i-subject sa ganitong proseso?” But then, again, bakit pa ba tayo kailangang magtanong? Hindi ba’t minsan nang sinabi ng mahal nating president, “There is no due process in my mouth”?

Five months ago, former president GMA was released after a four-year hospital detention due to plunder charges filed against her. She then announced her “most profound thanks” to Pres. Duterte. May ilang napataas ang kilay. Pero, bakit ba? Hindi ba’t, also during the campaign, nangako si Dueterte sa mga Kapampangan electorate that, once elected, he would have GMA released? Tinupad nya lang ang kanyang pangako. May isang salita kasi ang Tatay Digong ko.

A month ago, after the clandestine burial of Ferdinand  Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani last November 18, si Aimee Marcos naman ang nagpasalamat kay Pres. Duterte. Marami ang nag-react. May mga sumugod pa nga sa EDSA People Power Monument upang ipakita nila ang kanilang disgusto sa pangyayari. Again, bakit ba? Totoo nga na sa panahon ng Martial Law, 70,000 were incarcerated; 35,000 were tortured; 882 went missing; and 3,257 were murdered. Totoo rin na ang foreign debt natin ay lumobo mula sa US$7 billion in 1965 when Marcos was first elected president to US$25 billion in 1986, the year he was ousted. Totoo rin na, ayon sa PCGG, ang total amount ng ill-gotten wealth ng mga Marcoses ay nasa US$10 billion. Sa halagang ito, only US$4 billion had been confiscated and returned to the treasury. The remaining US$6 billion is yet to be recovered. Pero ang pinakaimporatanteng bagay dito ay ang hindi pagkilala ng pamilyang Marcos sa mga kasalanan nila –o maging ng kanilang yumaong patriarch– noong Martial Law. So, paanong magkakaroon ng closure, moving on at pagpapatawaran kung wala naman palang kasalanan in the first place, di ba? Pero, again, hindi na tayo dapat na nabigla sa desisyon ni Digong. Itinuturing nya si Macoy na “best president ever”. Hindi ba’t ipinangako nya rin sa mga Ilocano electorate ang libing na ito once mahalal siya sa puwesto? He is a man of his word nga kasi.

Since Digong was shoved into the limelight in late 2015 when he filed his Certificate of Candidacy, hanggang sa kampanya at, ngayon, bilang pangulo ng bansa, walang nakaligtas sa tinatawag na phenomenal “gutter language” ni Pres. Duterte. Ang Santo Papa, ang mga Obispo at kaparian, ang United Nations, ang mga human rights advocates, si Senador De Lima, si Chief Justice Sereno, ang media, si US Pres. Obama, ang European Union, pati na rin ang Mexico, Australia at Singapore – lahat sila ay naging biktima ng potty mouth ni Digong. He also managed to provoke the ire of the Jews all over the world nang ikinumpara nya ang kanyang giyera laban sa droga sa Holocaust ni Hitler. A few days before that naman, the fierce animosity of what he fondly refers to as the “bleeding hearts” of the Catholic Church was roused anew nang sinabi niya that he “can teach God about justice”. Pero, ayon nga sa kanya, “Do not complain about my mouth. It is not a problem. It cannot bring down the country.” Isa pa, hindi ba’t kandidato pa lang siya, alam na natin ang kalibre ng bibig nya? Magtiis tayo!

Lastly, we have all been witness to this whole brouhaha in the Lower House. Ang ating mga honorable congressmen seem to take perverse pleasure in bringing down one woman. Isang tinik sa tagiliran, isang sakit sa ulo na hindi kayang gamutin ng Biogesic, isang kating nakakairita, isang Dennis the Menace sa buhay-politika ni Pres. Duterte. Iyan si Senador Leila De Lima. Malalim ang ugat ng galit ng ating unifying president sa senadora. Nagsimula ang kanilang tunggalian noong CHR chief pa lamang si De Lima and she made the grave mistake of poking her nose into Duterte’s alleged involvement in the Davao Death Squad. Obviously, Duterte has the memory of an elephant. At ang mga kaalyado nya are just too eager to please their master. Pinag-usapan pa ng ating mga kagalang-galang na konggresista ang posibleng pagpapalabas during the congressional probe ng di-umano’y sex video ni De Lima. I am not a De Lima fanatic. She may or may not be guilty of the allegations against her. Kagaya ng mga Pilipinong may bukas pang pag-iisip sa panahong ito, nais ko ring malaman ang katotohanan sa mga bintang na ‘yan. But that? That’s disgusting and perverse and is, obviously, a cheap shot. Masyadong mababa ito even for our congressmen. Unang-una, si Sec. Aguirre na mismo ang umamin that the said video is not duly authenticated by the NBI. So bakit nila ‘yun gagamitin sa kanilang probe? Para lang talaga ipahiya si De Lima sa publiko, that’s why. If they have enough evidence against the senator, bakit hindi sila magsampa ng mga kaukulang kaso sa korte? Sabagay, bakit pa nga ba? Hindi ba’t ang presidente na mismo ang nagsabing “She’s finished. She will go to jail”?

Hay, Pilipinas.

You were warned.

You just never listened.

 

AN OPEN LETTER FOR MY FELLOW FILIPINOS

My Dearest Kababayan,

I’ve always prided myself for handling stressful situations well. If there are negative people around me, I could easily avoid them. If a social media friend proves to be too annoying or too antagonistic, I could effortlessly block him from my account. If a conversation steers toward a potentially upsetting subject, I could smoothly drag it back to safer ground. If a television channel or a radio station I’m tuned in suddenly becomes too loud for my taste, I could quickly change it or turn the TV or radio off.

Life could be that simple.

Why would I subject myself to hypertension-inducing or wrinkle-causing situations when avoidance is a far more convenient, healthy and favorable choice, right?

During the height of the election campaign, however, I realized that there are certain issues that could only be dealt with by confronting them head-on.

One of such issues is the possible return of a Marcos in Malacanang.

The Marcos camp, using a teeny-weeny portion of their billion dollar plunder during Martial Law, was able to successfully launch an online propaganda of a twisted version of history. Our history.

UP-Diliman-Palma-Hall-Marshall-Law
Photo credit: philstar.com

People like you and me, complacent in the knowledge that Filipinos have already learned valuable lessons from the past, did nothing to counter these efforts. I, on a personal level, even engaged in a word war with a confraternity brod when he sweepingly referred to the Filipino electorate as “bobotante”. After all that we have gone through as a nation, we have grown into smart and intelligent voters, I argued. We didn’t deserve such a disparaging label.

So through our complacency, we inadvertently allowed our history to be twisted by people with equally twisted minds, and through our inaction, we have unwittingly agreed for this perverted act to be accepted by the ignorant, the gullible, the forgiving or the narrow-minded.  

The little less than 14 million votes that Bongbong Marcos garnered in the vice-presidential race is a testament that a great number of Filipino voters are, indeed, “bobotante”.

Kababayan, my heart is shattered into a million pieces right now. I am hurting. I am frustrated. I am disappointed. I am furious.

When are we eventually going to learn?

Yours,

Mom On A Mission (Lorelei B. Aquino)

PS: I want to share this Facebook post with you in the hope that the strong and powerful words used by the writer will rouse you from your comfortable slumber; that you will emerge from the warm web of lies you have cocooned yourself in – informed, wiser, more aware; that, in the future, you will be one of us as a vigilant guard of truth and a staunch protector of our national patrimony.

Emma, I couldn’t have penned this better. You are truly a gem! Thank you.

To all my FB friends and families,

Please indulge me.

During the dark years of our country under Martial Law, people died and sacrificed their lives to regain our freedom. Cronies like Danding Cojuangco, Juan Ponce Enrile, Lucio Tan & many more flourished. Billions were plundered and none of those have been returned despite court rulings finding for the government. Just to be clear again—money lost, lives lost and those cannot be undone.

I, as much as the next man, value my freedom — but even more so because it’s the kind of freedom that claimed lives. I just can’t take any of these for granted.

Those who opposed Marcos then did not hide behind a nasty tweet or a rising FB post with a meme to stand up to the late corrupt dictator. They took to the streets and faced tanks and guns aimed at them without hesitation.

They did not deactivate their social media accounts when they were outed. Instead, they were abducted from their homes or their workplace only to be tortured (or killed) beyond recognition.

So, here’s the deal…if you are one of these.

* If you have voted for BongBong Marcos whom I consider without a doubt, as one of the world’s unrepentant crooks and you are one of the 13 million voters who want a Marcos back in Malacanang and just a heartbeat away from the presidency, I question your judgement.

* If you continue to spread lies about Martial Law where a total of 107,240 were either jailed without due process, tortured, raped, electrocuted, burnt and 3,240 of them were executed but only 75,000 of them came forward when the country passed a repatriation law to compensate victims of Martial Law because the rest are either still missing or already dead without justice, I question your integrity.

* If you’re a Marcos apologist or a history revisionist who try to justify the Marcos atrocities or prodding us to move on for the sake of progress, I believe you are not only intellectually dishonest but also morally confused.

* If you’re one of those people who say, “the victims have moved on, why can’t you?” I would like you to put yourself into the shoes of these people — just 3 regular people — and see if you’ll be okay with Martial Law:

* Liliosa Hilao, the first female and student activist to die in detention during martial rule. Her body, when found, showed signs of torture—her lips bore cigarette burns, her arms had injection marks, and her body was full of bruises. According to her sister, her internal organs were removed to cover up signs of torture and possible sexual abuse.

* Boyet Mijares, who was only 16 years old when he disappeared. His only sin – being the son of the whistleblower and writer Primitivo Mijares.

* Archimedes Trajano, who was 21 when he questioned Imee Marcos on why she was the National Chairman of the Kabataang Barangay during an open forum. A few days later, he was found dead. His body showed signs of torture.

* So, are you still okay with it? Do you still think of Martial Law as that “thingy”?

If you are any of those above, then it means we do not share the same values. We have nothing in common. There is no reason for us to be FB friends or be friends of any kind, in any way, shape or form.

It’s one thing to have differing opinions but it’s another thing if you go out of your way to disinform, revise and promote the legacy of the Marcoses. That I can’t take.

I do not resent you or hate you. I just do not want to be affiliated with you anymore. That’s why I will be purging my FB list shortly. Feel free to be one step ahead and delete/block me now if you fit any of the descriptions above.

It was nice knowing you.

LENI ROBREDO, THE LAST (WO)MAN STANDING (An Open Letter for Congresswoman Leni)

Dear Madam Leni,

You are the only woman Vice-Presidential candidate, but that is not what sets you apart from the others aspiring for the same position.

What makes you stand out is your unique brand of tsinelas leadership.

Some people would ask,” Ano po ba ang tsinelas leadership?”

A legacy of your late husband, tsinelas leadership encapsulates your qualities of connecting with the poor and marginalized whom you serve, of keeping your close ties with the masses, and of breaking barriers through accessibility. It is the readiness to get your feet wet and dirty in doing your job. It stands for good governance and genuine public service.

It is the leadership quality that is conspicuously lacking in most of our government officials and politicians today.

While members of Congress are known for their opulent lifestyles, ostentatious display of wealth and power, and patent style of grandstanding, you have managed to stay simple, humble, unassuming and practical.

You take the public bus in going to and from Naga every week, you constantly visit your constituents, you live in the same apartment unit where you and Sec. Jesse started your family, you bring your youngest daughter to school each morning before you go to work, you do your own grocery, and you shun the limelight (you were even caught using the backdoor entrance of the Batasan plenary hall to avoid the SONA red carpet).

In an interview, you said that simplicity is a commitment for your family so you will “remain rooted and avoid getting tempted and becoming used to the perks and privileges that come with the job”.

If only all our politicians could be like you, Ma’am, corruption would now be a thing of the past.

But that’s just it.

You are not a politician.

You are a public servant.

Even before you were thrust into the chaotic world of politics by the untimely demise of Sec. Jesse, you were already serving the people. For free. As an advocate lawyer, you were helping the farmers through your affiliation with Saligan, and the oppressed and the indigent sectors through the Public Attorney’s Office.

Being a staunch champion of women’s empowerment and gender equality, you helped establish and chaired the Naga City Council for Women to give women a voice in governance and decision-making. You also founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga to provide training and livelihood opportunities for the women of your beloved hometown.

When you got elected in 2013 as the representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur, you were able to author or co-author a total of 14 laws and 121 bills.

Ma’am, that was quite a feat for any political novice!

12733527_447190512145946_3078542295593121638_n

According to one brilliant lawmaker, Filipinos should choose their next leaders based on three standards — academic excellence, professional excellence and moral excellence.

Please join me, Ma’am, in evaluating your five VP opponents with reference to these standards.

Alan Peter Cayetano

A graduate of the Ateneo Law School, Cayetano entered politics at a young age. Hardworking and passionate, he is known to espouse worthy causes. He fearlessly exposes and relentlessly investigates government officials involved in illegal activities.

I have always been a Cayetano supporter even if he is a member of a political dynasty — that is, until he made Mayor Duterte his running mate.

I don’t understand why a public servant of Cayetano’s caliber, academic background and integrity would condone, and even defend, someone who is prone to making reckless, malicious and callous statements; someone who has allegations of extra-judicial killings and, recently, unexplained wealth under his belt; someone who can’t present concrete, admirable and plausible plans of action for the country; someone who can incite, and revels in, a mob reaction from his supporters; and someone whose lifestyle is an insult to the very values we hold dear as Filipinos. Why would Cayetano throw away his moral compass and his father’s legacy of good governance? Why would he turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the glaring iniquities that he so dauntlessly fought against in the past?

I just don’t get it.

Francis “Chiz” Escudero

A graduate at the UP College of Law with a master’s degree in International and Comparative Law from the Georgetown University, Escudero impressed me with his dedication and intellect. In his eighteen years of public service (he served as Congressman from 1998-2007 and as Senator from 2007-present), he was able to file more than 500 bills and to pass 144 laws. I also admire the stance he assumed on certain issues (pro-impeachment charges against GMA, pro-RH bill, pro-FOI bill, pro-Corona impeachment, against divorce, against imposition of new taxes).

There are just three things that I take against the smooth-talking senator.

Firstly, he is in favor of a Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But, then, I should have seen that coming. His father, after all, is the late Salvador Escudero III, a known Marcos crony.

Secondly, he is prone to support politicians of either questionable integrity or doubtful capability. Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Jejomar Binay — I have no idea what principle or guideline Escudero employs in choosing whom to give his loyalty to.

Thirdly, he is the second poorest senator but he was able to afford a lavish Balesin wedding (and another fancy reception in Manila) to actress Heart Evangelista. Escudero’s defence that they did not spend beyond their means only managed to rouse suspicion regarding two important points: the issues of propriety and conflict of interest. By the way, among their principal sponsors are Hans Sy (of the SM group of companies), Ramon Ang (of San Miguel Corporation), Fernando Zobel (of Ayala Corporation), Andrew Tan (of Megaworld Corporation), Lance Gokongwei (of Robinson’s Corporation, Cebu Pacific and JG Summit), Bobby Ongpin (of Alphaland), and Jerry Acuzar (of New San Jose Builders).

Quite impressive, huh?

Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV & Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan

Trillanes graduated cum laude in the Philippine Military Academy and later earned his master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines. He is one of the most productive senators during the 15th and 16th Congress, with a total of 1,109 bills and resolutions filed, 56 of which have been passed into law.

Honasan, on the other hand, earned his Bachelor of Science degree, along with the academy’s highest leadership award, from the Philippine Military Academy. He was a highly decorated soldier and was one of the principal players in the 1986 EDSA revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.  As a Senator, Honasan’s primary advocacies include environmental, military, police, and agrarian reform issues.

Trillanes led the 2003 Oakwood mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege as a protest against the prevalence of social injustice and the rampant corruption during PGMA’s administration. Honasan, with the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and allegedly under the tutelage of then Defense Sec. Enrile, staged a total of six coup attempts against the Cory administration. Two of these attempts became bloody – the Aug. 1987 coup left 53 dead while the Dec. 1989 coup left 99 dead (50 of which were civilians) and 570 wounded. He was also allegedly behind the Oakwood Mutiny and Feb 2006 coup attempt against PGMA.

While I understand their apparent discontent and resentment that compelled them to rebel against the government, they should have, in my opinion, upheld their constitutional mandate to enforce the law and to protect the people and the state. There are other ways — legal ways — to express one’s grievances, that could prove to be more effective and casualty-free. PGMA is now under hospital arrest, isn’t she?

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.

I tried, really hard, to find any redeeming quality that could somehow humanize in my eyes this dictator’s heir. But to no avail.

All I can see when I look at Bongbong is the face of a chronic liar.

He presents his father’s dictatorial rule (what he fondly calls the Golden Years) “as the best thing that ever happened to this country.” That statement is, of course, in stark contrast with what the historians have to say, “The Marcos government appears, by any standard, exceptional for both the quantity and quality of its violence.” Under Martial Law, 70,000 were incarcerated; 35,000 were tortured; 882 went missing; and 3,257 were murdered.

In the comic booklet that Bongbong’s camp released late last year, he depicted his family as the clueless victims of the US soldiers who greeted them with guns when they landed in Hawaii in 1986. It is, again, in stark contrast with the personal accounts of the journalists who witnessed the Marcoses’s arrival at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. According to them, the Marcos family “was greeted by high ranking US military officials and by the old friends of the ex-president and Madam Imelda, Hawaii’s governor and his wife, who both placed leis around their necks.

FotorCreated

Bongbong claims that it is the government that is blocking the compensation of Martial Law victims. Debunking that, the PCGG said that “court records would show that it was the senator who was hindering the return of his family’s ill-gotten funds to the people”.

He maintains that he has never been accused of abuse of power during his father’s presidency. However, “in 1985, when he was 26 years old, his father appointed him chairman of the board of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corporation (Philcomsat), receiving a monthly salary of around US$9,700. This, despite that fact that he rarely went to the Philcomsat office. In 1986, government auditors discovered that Philcomsat was one of the many corporations and organizations used to siphon ill-gotten wealth out of the country.”

Bongbong has been arrogantly proclaiming that his father’s wealth came from legitimate sources. “In 2003, however, the Supreme Court defined the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family as those in excess of their total legal income of around $304,000 only, earned from 1965 to 1986. So far, PCGG has managed to recover about $4 billion, less than half of the $10-billion fortune believed to have been amassed by the Marcoses through the years.

He also lied about his academic credentials by claiming to have an undergraduate degree at Oxford University, one of the world’s most prestigious and elite universities. However, Oxford confirmed that Bongbong definitely did not earn such degree. In his official resume’, he also claimed to have earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Wharton School records do not show any Marcos Jr. in their list of graduates.

Bongbong is emphatic in saying that he has never been implicated in anomalies involving corruption during all these years of his public service. He, however, figured in whistleblower Benhur Luy’s list of lawmakers involved in the multi-billion scam. P205 million of his PDAF is allegedly allocated to the six fake NGOs owned by Napoles. Wow, that’s a lot of money!

Lastly, he said that, “The sins of the father are not the sins of the son…..It is not my obligation to apologize for the sins of the past administrations.” But he and his entire family have been, for decades now, enjoying the fruits of those sins. His election funds may very well be coming from the legendary Marcos plunder. And, for goodness’ sake, he is just a heartbeat away from Malacanang should he win this coming election!

So, please, Congresswoman Leni. Do not let the dictator’s son win.

Do not let another Marcos rule the country.

Do not let Bongbong Marcos make fools of the Filipinos for the second time.

Rest assured that we, the enlightened and vigilant people of this country, are with you in this endeavor. You won’t be alone.

Now, let me end this letter with the words I shared in the Women For Leni page.

“Like every Filipino, I wish for a better Philippines.

I want to leave my children and my children’s children with a country that is lovingly steered by public servants with unquestionable integrity, uncompromising principles, stellar work ethics, fervent compassion for the underprivileged, and genuine concern for our beloved Luzviminda.

Leni, for me, is the embodiment of all that. And more.

Modest and unassuming, she hates to be in the limelight. She is a reluctant leader who was forced to dip her finger in the dirty waters of politics due to her passion to serve the people. She is a woman of action who does not hesitate to have her hands dirty in reaching out to the needy. She has a name that is untarnished by corruption and is synonymous with “tsinelas leadership.” She is the epitome of an empowered Filipina, the voice of the voiceless, the champion of the oppressed.

My conscience would never let me vote for anyone else.”

Respectfully yours,

Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)

 

Note: For a complete list of Leni Robredo’s accomplishments, click here.

WRITING TO THE “MESSIAH”(An Open Letter for Mayor Digong Duterte)

Dear Mayor Duterte,

With your recent controversial statements, you have managed to annoy, antagonize and even enrage a lot of people. Anti-Duterte campaigns are being launched in an effort to discredit you to your supporters. They want to depict you as a blabbering “bruskong berdugo”.

In a personal attempt to really get to know you beyond your media persona, I poked around, rummaged through the internet, and dug deeper. I watched numerous videos and read countless articles about you. And the following is what I learned about the man that Filipinos either love to hate or hate to love.

Incredible. People’s reaction to your candidacy from the moment you filed your COC in December was swift, solid and intense. It was, undeniably, their way of letting the present administration know that they have had enough. They are fed up with the widespread corruption and the seemingly lack of effective and timely action in addressing the most basic problems that Filipinos face on a daily basis. Four months (and countless of blunders on your part) after, your support base is more intact than ever. They have grown in number, in strength and in intensity. And they have become blind to your faults.

Reluctant. It took a while for you to finally be convinced to join the presidential race. You said that you lack enthusiasm for the job. In every opportunity you get, you don’t fail to remind us that you’re just doing it to answer the people’s urgent clamor for change. You make us – me – feel indebted to you. Your exact words then? “If you want me to do it, then I’ll do it. But in my way.

Charming. Talking to you is never boring. During campaign sorties, public debates or interviews, you always manage to entertain your audience with your poker-faced humor, flippant remarks, witty one-liners, snappy comebacks, and animated stories. And if you happen to be on the right mood, you even treat them to steamy shows just like what you did in Pampanga.

Fair. You believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and protected at all times. And if that right is violated by common law criminals, you feel the need to eradicate the perpetrator of the crime – without the benefit of the legal due process. You said that the way to stop violence is to use violence. It’s just ironic to have to hear that coming straight from the mouth of a lawyer, who is supposedly the agent of the administration of justice.

Authentic. Unlike most politicians, you are brutally frank. You mean what you say and you say what you mean. No beating around the bush, no frills and gimmicks, caution usually thrown to the wind. You really are a breath of fresh air, Mayor Digong! (Or a PR nightmare to your team, depending on one’s perspective). Your accusation that Mar did not really graduate from Wharton triggered a childish word ward and slapping challenge between the two of you. Your insinuation that you, along with other boys, were sexually abused by priests during your years at the Ateneo de Davao High School created quite a stir among the Jesuit community. Your pronouncement before the Ilocanos that you are in favour of giving the late President Marcos a hero’s burial did not sit well with your anti-Marcos supporters. Your declaration before the Kapampangans that you will release CGMA if you’re elected president was, likewise, not acceptable to your anti-Arroyo followers.

Duterte1

Photo credit: http://wethepvblic.com/

Passionate. Moderation is not in your vocabulary. Do you still remember the warning you issued during your interview with Maria Ressa? “If my efforts to improve the country were to be blocked by a corrupt Congress, I would declare a revolutionary government and close down Congress.” On the issue of the disputed West Philippines Sea, meanwhile, you said that it would be futile to engage China in a war because we don’t have a chance of winning. What you will do, instead, is to ask the Navy to bring you to the nearest point [in the sea] that is tolerable to them and you will ride a jet ski. “I’ll carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag. I will tell them (Chinese), suntukan o barilan?” Hay naku, Mayor.

Exciting. Because you have a big, bad mouth (“bastos na bibig” was how you aptly put it), people are always waiting in rapt attention for your next controversial, explosive and, often, scandalous confessions and revelations. Let me see if I get this right, okay? No other politician uses expletives and swear words with such alarming frequency. No other politician publicly curses the beloved Pope. No other politician disparagingly uses the word “bayot” (gay) to refer to a political opponent.  No other politician regales his audience with a story that is insulting to the kasambahay. No other politician openly admits that he is a flirt and a womanizer. No other politician wants to make a candidate from another party his Assistant President “because she is beautiful”. No other politician has made a joke about a deceased rape victim. No other politician, Sir. Just you. Are you sure you don’t have a political death wish?

Generous. Also on the issue of the West Philippine Sea, you said that if China will offer to build vital transportation facilities and other infrastructure in the Philippines, you will shut up for the entire duration of your presidency. That is, indeed, very generous of you, Mayor. But what happens to your campaign lines, “I am Rodrigo Duterte. I am a Filipino and I love my country, the Philippines. It is the land of my birth, it is the home of my people.”? You are planning to abandon the country’s long-standing claim to the territory for a few trains!

Eager. One of your many campaign promises is getting rid of corruption, drugs and criminality in about three to six months after you assume the presidency. Of course, that statement earned cheers from your supporters, but jeers and raised eyebrows from your critics. Personally, I don’t think that’s achievable. Unless you declare another Martial Law and become another Marcos.

Appreciative. Your team, friends, family and supporters will do virtually anything for you. I’ve heard numerous times how your running mate, Alan Peter Cayetano, would appeal to the electorate. “If you don’t want to vote for me, okay lang po. But, please, vote for Mayor Duterte.” Commendable, right? But how did you repay such thoughtful and unselfish gesture? When you were in Ilocos, you said that if you are not able to stamp out crime in 3-6 months, you “will step down and give the presidency to Bongbong.” (As if the presidency is a cheap toy that a child can easily give or share with his playmate!) BBM, for his part, exploited that carelessly-thrown statement to mock Cayetano during their public debate. That was, after all, an opportunity too golden to pass up. When your daughter said that she herself was a rape victim, apparently in an effort to help you get out of the rut you effortlessly put yourself in with your repulsive remarks on rape, how did you show her your appreciation? You publicly announced that you don’t believe her claim. You even called her a drama queen! If that’s how you treat the people who show you love and concern, Mayor, I don’t want to think how you deal with those who openly antagonize you.

You have to admit, you don’t fit the mold of the typical politician, Mayor Digong.

I would like you to know, though, that I can accept and forgive you your insensitivity, your indiscretion and your indecency. I can even try to develop an appreciation for your unique brand of humor. I can also pretend to like your extra-judicial plans of action to battle crimes.

What I can NOT do is to willingly entrust in your hands the great responsibility of holding the reins of my country and its future. I will make sure of that when I cast my vote.

Sincerely,

Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)

EDSA at 31

As we celebrate today the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution, let me address these few questions to our beloved  millennials:

  • What would you feel if you can’t watch your favorite TV shows because all the media networks are closed down except for a few that are government-controlled?
  • What would you feel if all your activities on all your social media accounts are being closely monitored and censored by the government, or worse, if you’re not allowed to have any account at all?
  • What would you feel if you can’t stay out beyond 12 midnight because of an imposed curfew?
  • What would you feel if you are put behind bars if you so much as say, write or post something about your candid, but negative, observation about how things are run in the government?
  • What would you feel if you can’t openly meet with your classmates to discuss a school project for fear that your meeting could be charged as an illegal assembly?
  • What would you feel if your friend, after joining a rally, is found tortured beyond recognition?
  • What would you feel if your girlfriend, sister or mother is abducted and raped by a high-ranking official or his son or even his driver, and that perpetrator is walking around scot-free?
  • What if your father is sbrutally killed because he refused to sell his land to any one of the president’s relatives or friends?

I was just thirteen years old when the EDSA People Power Revolution took place in 1986. I, along with my parents, were monitoring the events unfolding in EDSA from our little home in Bataan through our transistor radio.

407159_250470691702186_577496974_n
image grabbed from the internet

I sat in rapt attention as June Keithley Castro reported over Radio Veritas and later on, Radyo Bandido, a  blow-by-blow account of the revolution — the official announcement of then Defense Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel V. Ramos of their withdrawal of support of the Marcos regime; the crucial role that then Army Col. Gregorio Honasan and his allies at the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) played by way of rebellion; Butz Aquino’s decision to bring the August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM) leaders, members and supporters to Camps Aguinaldo and Crame to support the rebel soldiers; and, of course, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin’s historic call to the Filipino people to leave their homes and proceed to EDSA to support Enrile, Ramos and their troops in their fight against the dictator.

I sat in awe as hundreds of thousands of people came pouring in from both near and far to heed the call of the Cardinal until the part of EDSA from Ortigas Avenue to Cubao was filled with a multitude that reached an estimate of three million.

I sat in horror when I heard that Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver sent armored tanks, carriers and heavily-armed soldiers to disperse the burgeoning throng in EDSA.

I sat in tears when, after Brig. Gen. Artemio Tadiar warned the crowd that he would open fire if they don’t disperse, people responded by singing “Bayan Ko,” praying the rosary, and offering the soldiers flowers and food.

I sat in immense relief when not a single shot was fired. The EDSA People Power Revolution — our revolution – was later hailed as the first non-violent, bloodless revolution that the world had ever witnessed.

I sat in excitement as the late Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel, in an inauguration at the Club Filipino, were sworn into office by Senior Justice Claudio Teehankee as the duly-elected President and Vice-President, respectively.

I sat in jubilation when the news broke out that, after the crowds stayed to serve as human barricades both in EDSA and Malacanang for four days, the Marcos family and their closest allies finally left the Palace and fled the country. The entire world rejoiced with us. Bob Simon, a CBS anchorman, even said, “We, Americans, like to think that we taught the Filipinos democracy. Well, tonight, they are teaching the world.

I sat in solemn silence when it was all over. Still overwhelmed with a myriad of emotions, I thanked the Almighty for His guidance and protection in allowing the voice of the people to prevail without bloodshed, in ousting the dictator that put us in hell for more than a decade, and in providing hope and a ray of sunshine for a nation that has been shrouded in darkness and misery for far too long.

During that entire time, I was just sitting within the relative safety of our home.

Listening.

Observing.

Learning.

But at that tender age of 13, I already knew what drove those hordes of people to EDSA.

The nightmarish tales of disappearances, tortures, killings, warrantless arrests, detentions and other horrendous acts of human rights violations and abuses against political leaders, student activists, journalists, church personalities, and virtually anybody who would dare challenge the people in power during Martial Law were my father’s favorite topic back then. (My father used to be an activist in Manila before my mother, afraid for his safety, whisked him off to the province.) He told me everything he knew about how the Marcoses and their cronies would blatantly and wantonly plunder the public coffers and ransack and sequester huge local companies until they had almost drained the country and its people of all their resources. He also introduced me to the tyrant’s insatiable greed for power when Marcos pressured the Constitutional Convention to replace the 1935 charter, which would have disqualified him from seeking another four-year presidential term. Marcos also made sure to maintain his tight grip on power when, during the snap elections a few days prior to the EDSA revolution, widespread practices of fraud, vote-buying, intimidation, violence and tampering of election returns were reported.

We, Filipinos, could be long-suffering and forgiving, oftentimes, to a fault. But there would always be that proverbial straw that would break the camel’s back.

In our case, it was the treacherous and ruthless assassination of Ninoy Aquino on August 21, 1983. That event, which triggered a series of civil disobedience campaigns that eventually culminated in the 1986 revolution, proved that a dead Ninoy could be a more formidable opponent to the Marcoses than the fearless, fast-talking, hard-hitting political leader that the former was when he was alive. Ninoy’s death inspired and empowered the masses to go out to the streets and shout, “Sobra na! Tama na! Palitan na!”  It resulted to public outrage that eventually put an end to Marcos’ 21-year oppressive rule. It changed our country’s history.

Today, exactly thirty years after that fateful day when democracy was finally restored, I have to ask myself. And again, you, my dear millennials.

Have we, as a nation, adequately learned our lessons from that dark part of our history?

Or are we like some people who try to bend history itself? To conveniently forget? To forgive the perpetrators without a single person held accountable for the atrocities of Martial Law? To reinstate the same people who had been principal players during the dictatorship?

If you want to hear it, in a nutshell, here goes.

According to the historian and writer Alfred McCoy, “the Marcos government appears, by any standard, exceptional for both the quantity and quality of its violence.”

  • 70,000 were incarcerated; 35,000 were tortured; 882 went missing; and 3,257 were murdered.
  • The country’s foreign debt of US$7 billion in 1965 when Marcos was first elected President ballooned to US$25 billion in 1986, the year he was ousted.
  • PCGG pegged at US$10 billion the total amount of the ill-gotten wealth amassed by the Marcos family during their 21-year reign. Of that amount, only US$4 billion had been confiscated and returned to the treasury. The remaining US$6 billion is yet to be recovered.

Despite all these glaring statistics, though, people, mostly those your age, are still singing a totally different tune. Many of our young voters are fooled into believing that the Martial Law era was the best part of our history, and that a Marcos scion should be catapulted back into power.

Ninoy and Cory Aquino, along with the thousands of Martial Law casualties, must have been rolling over in their graves right now.