At what cost?

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the January 28th, 2009

My column in the Business Mirror, Wednesday, Jan.28, 2009, tells why I think the PDEA inspired war on drugs is a lot of crap.

    Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
    At what cost?
    by Manuel Buencamino

    “What one must lose in order to win is sometimes not worth the price of playing.” —The Rude Pundit

    Whether by design or not, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Dionisio Santiago’s psy-war against Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors laid out the red carpet for brown shirts.

    Legislators filed bills to reinstate the death penalty. A bishop from Infanta, Quezon, urged Mrs. Arroyo “to use the iron hand of the government and smash all shabu laboratories, not only in Quezon but in every nook and corner of the country.”

    Mrs. Arroyo directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PDEA to “endeavor to eliminate the number of drug cases dismissed due to mere technicalities.”

    There’s a trial balloon for the return of Jovito Palparan, a soldier who never allowed mere technicalities to temper his war against suspected communist rebels and their sympathizers.

    “We’re studying what would be the immediate utilization for him. He’s being considered for the DDB [Dangerous Drugs Board]. Maybe he’ll be one of the board members,’’ said Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

    The chairman of the DDB, former senator and comedian Vicente “Tito” Sotto, said Palparan would be “a welcome addition to the committee. With his expertise, he can help us formulate strategies against drug pushers.”

    The comedian added that he considers Palparan’s berdugo reputation an asset.

    “If that is his image, then that will work well for us. It’s the drug traffickers who should fear him, not the public,’’ Sotto said with a straight face.

    For his part, Director Santiago told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “You give me people, I’ll utilize them and judge them according to how they will perform.”

    We are being told the Philippines will become a narco-state if we don’t wage a total war on drugs. We are being told that drug traffickers are making humongous profits, billions of dollars, feeding the habit of a population that can barely afford three square meals a day. Where is all that money coming from?

    But no one dares to ask. Nobody questions statistics. Instead, we have moral crusaders who say that if we must cut corners to defeat the drug menace, then so be it.

    That sentiment comes from the sort that spouted an inanity like, “We are prepared to lose our freedoms and our rights just to move this country forward.”

    Such silliness is music to the ears of Director Santiago, who once admitted he sees nothing wrong with planting drugs on anyone “publicly known to be peddling drugs but always escapes arrest,” and Jovito Palparan, who reputedly sees nothing wrong with planting suspected rebels six feet under.

    Our war on drugs may end up becoming like Bush’s war on terror. We can lose our soul as America did when Bush trampled on the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the name of defeating terrorists.

    Let’s be cautious. Let’s not become so overzealous we will need to be told what President Barack Obama told the American people:

    “[W]e reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

Peace, Justice, and Obama

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the January 27th, 2009

Filomeno Sta. Ana III wrote this article in Business World’s Yellow Pad, Monday Jan 26, 2009.

    Peace, Justice, and Obama

    by Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III

    It was an extraordinary, jubilant day for America and the rest of the world. Two million people attended Barack Obama’s inaugural. Millions more from across the globe followed the investiture via television or internet.

    For the 21st century youth, Obama’s victory is sexy, poetic, and magical. For the flower generation of the 1960s and 1970s, Obama’s accession is a dream come true. Obama, son of a “peacenik,” symbolizes the hope of “giving peace a chance.” The investiture “was a day truly worth remembering and celebrating for it truly gives PEACE a chance.” Those were the words of our friend from D.C., Sergy Floro, an economics professor at American University .

    Giving peace a chance will not be easy. Giving peace a chance means waging a legal and political war against the few who broke peace, committed aggression, and unhinged US democracy and security.

    Osama Bin Laden and terrorism were supposed to be America ’s and the world’s most dangerous enemy. But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their band of neoconservatives became the best recruiters for terrorist causes. Bush and company created a bigger mess that damaged US institutions and brought shame to the US . Their hubris, their dogma, their self-righteousness, not to forget their pursuit of vested interests—led them to conduct an illegal war that isolated the US and ironically led to more terror.

    The Bush administration used terror to fight terror. But by wantonly violating, human rights, due process, and the rule of law, Bush and company sullied the values that made the US a great nation. Those who suffered abuses included ordinary folks, the plain US citizens as well, whose right to privacy was violated by Bush’s security order.

    The Guantanamo prison symbolizes the folly, hypocrisy, and egregiousness of Bush’s war. What happened in Guantanamo cannot be forgotten: the scene of hooded and chained terrorist suspects deprived of their legal rights, the cries from torture, the hunger strikes, and detainees committing suicide. Guantanamo is a monument of abomination and ignobility.

    And so, it was very auspicious and symbolic that one of Obama’s first official acts was to release a draft of an executive order to shut the Guanatanamo prison within the year. Closing Guantanamo repudiates the Bush doctrine.

    It boosts our friend Sergy’s hope, our collective hope, that Obama will give peace a chance.

    How to protect human rights or constitutional rights without weakening homeland and global security is not an issue at all. Obama’s position is unequivocal. In his inaugural address, he eloquently said: “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers—drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.”

    The differences between Bush and Obama with respect to human rights are not simply policy differences. In conducting the war against terror, Bush and his executors are accused of violating criminal laws; they therefore should stand trial and be made accountable.

    Let us be reminded, too, that the Bush administration’ s transgressions were not just related to Guantanamo . As Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column (16 January 2009), “It’s not just torture and illegal wiretapping, whose perpetrators claim, however implausibly that they were patriots acting to defend the nation’s security. The fact is that the Bush administration’ s abuses extended from environmental policy to voting rights. And most of the abuses involved using the power of government to reward political friends and punish political enemies.”

    The closure of the Guantanamo prison is the first necessary step. Regardless of the “policy differences,” the next step is to demand accountability from those who violated laws and committed crimes. This is but expected from a presidency that that has committed itself to “openness, transparency, and the rule of law.”

    We nevertheless have to remain vigilant.

    Our resident humorist, Manuel Buencamino, is not humored by what he detects as a concerted action of some quarters, even among those who claim to be Obama’s supporters, to spare Bush and his men from accountability. They tried to misrepresent Obama’s statement about needing “to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” Their call is to forget the past and for us to move on. Yet, they conveniently omit quoting Obama’s words that “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law.”

    Let’s sample the backward thinking that says ‘Let’s move on.” The first is a New York Times opinion piece (10 January 2009) written by Harvard law professor Charles Fried. The second is the conversation in a radio talk-show between host Don Imus and Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian and author who won a Pulitzer prize.

    Here is a controversial passage from Fried’s article:

    “There are those who will press for criminal prosecutions, but this should be resisted.

    “It is a hallmark of a sane and moderate society that when it changes leaders and regimes, those left behind should be abandoned to the judgment of history. It is in savage societies that the defeat of a ruling faction entails its humiliation, exile and murder.”

    To defend such shaky proposition, Fried would make a distinction between the actions of despots like Stalin and Hitler on the one hand and Bush’s political action He wrote:

    “If you cannot see the difference between Hitler and Dick Cheney, between Stalin and Donald Rumsfeld, between Mao and Alberto Gonzales, there may be no point in our talking. It is not just a difference of scale, but our leaders were defending their country and people — albeit with an insufficient sense of moral restraint — against a terrifying threat by ruthless attackers with no sense of moral restraint at all.”

    And here’s a part of the transcript of the conversation between Imus and Goodwin (13 January 2009):

    Imus: “Kind of interesting—let me clear my throat—kind of interesting that [Obama]
    has already expressed a reluctance to dismantle or even investigate some of these Bush
    programs—domestic eavesdropping, detainee treatment—says he’s going to close
    Guantanamo—I guess my point is he is not demonstrating himself to be the wild eyed
    crazed radical that he was portrayed as by some folks, and more importantly in my view
    he’s not going to waste a bunch of time that doesn’t make any sense when the wheels
    have come off the world and he’s got all those problems to solve, which you just talked

    Goodwin: “You’re absolutely right, Don. I mean, I think—you know what it shows is I
    don’t think this man has a vindictive bone in his body, which is a good thing. I mean you
    know obviously you’d want to stop whatever it is Bush was doing that you disagreed with, as you were just saying Guantanamo—but you don’t have enough time and energy and imagination and focus right now to look backward, you have to go forward. In fact that was one of the great strengths that Abraham Lincoln had. You know he said you can’t allow these past hurts to fester within you, or it poisons a past of you. So think about what would happen if we get a whole bunch of hearings going on in the Congress and the newspapers are filled with looking back in a negative way about what Bush did. That’s not going to help us at this moment in time when you’ve got these crises at home and these crises abroad. So you decide you’re going to stop doing what you don’t want to do that he did, but you don’t want to take the imagination of the people and the energies and the focus away from the future.”

    Note that Fried and Goodwin are singing the same tune.

    Here is a part of Buencamino’s retort to the Fried article: “What sort of yardstick does one use to distinguish someone with an insufficient sense of moral restraint from someone with no sense of moral restraint?”

    The fact is the Bush administration violated the law, regardless of the scale. The atrocities and savagery committed at Guantanamo and elsewhere were not simply political blunders; they were crimes that a decent, civilized society will not tolerate. Decent people do not want to “humiliate or murder” Bush and company. The demand is for justice and accountability to prevail.

    Another colleague, Mike Alba, eloquently summarizes the sentiments of people, American and non-American citizens, who adhere to the rule of law and the sanctity of rights: “Not holding the Bush administration to account opens the door to future administrations to drop any moral restraints. It also does not give Americans the opportunity to cleanse themselves of sins committed by the Bush administration in their name. Ultimately, if no rendering is done, America will be judged by history to be a less decent society.”

    We Filipinos should likewise be concerned over Bush’s accountability. The tragedy of undermining US democracy under the Bush administration is happening in the Philippines . Mrs. Arroyo and party are likewise concerned.

    Here’s the last word from Buencamino: “Gloria’s people should be taking notes and committing these arguments to heart just in case….”

Ballsy lady

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the January 27th, 2009

Nagwala na naman si Brenda.

She wanted to conduct the probe on the construction firms blacklisted by the World Bank but the Senate will give it to either the Public Works or the Blue Ribbon committee.

She said, “Napurnada lang ang pagod ko. Parang sampal ito sa mukha ko [All my efforts were wasted. This is like a slap on my face].”

She added, “Ang suspetsa ko, baka kumikilos ang tatlong contractors dahil ang yayaman nila. Naisip ko talaga (na) nagsasabwatan para mapatanggal ako. ‘Yan ang suspicion ko, but of course I cannot prove it.” [“My suspicion is the contractors, who are very rich, had worked to have me removed from the investigation. That’s my suspicion, but of course I cannot prove it."]

She delivered a privilege speech, threatening to resign from the Senate.

“I shall now walk out of this Senate, to express my strong personal disgust at the exhibition by some of our colleagues of the absence of common decency, and the failure of parliamentary conduct, in connection with the big-time contractors blacklisted by the World Bank….Let me serve notice that if I continue to be treated without the respect that I am entitled to as a co-equal senator, even only because of my age and my experience, I shall be compelled to tender my resignation as Senator of the Philippines…I cannot remain in the Senate and consent to be emasculated.”

Do it Brenda. Show them your balls.

Ikaw Pala!

Posted in Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the January 24th, 2009

Comments Off

pictorial culture guide

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the January 24th, 2009

Power and privilege

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the January 22nd, 2009

My column in Business Mirror, Wednesday Jan 2 2009

    Dispathches from the Enchanted Kingdom
    Power and privilege

    This report, from the official website of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, datelined January 13, 2009, got me thinking about Israel’s tremendous reach and influence:

    “The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will consider the entry to the Philippines of Palestinian spouses of Filipinos but the arrangement would have to be allowed by the Israeli government, DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. said today.”

    Undersecretary. Conejos added, “Israel surely knows their background. (Palestinian spouses).”

    The Philippine government needs Israel’s permission to allow a Palestinian into the Philippines? C’mon.

    But nationalists need not get their panties in a bunch. Our government is not the only government that defers to Israel.

    Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told George Bush to order his Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, to abstain from voting for a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, a resolution she “prepared and arranged.” Bush complied.

    Obtained from the United States Government Open Source Center, here is a transcript of Olmert bragging about Bush’s last act of obeisance:

    “It transpired all of a sudden that a vote would be held in 10 minutes’ time. I tried to find President Bush, and I was told he was attending an event in Philadelphia.

    “I know that if somebody tried to find me on the phone right now, it would have to be something unusual and extraordinary for them to say: Leave it all and go to some room to talk to me. In this case, I said: I don’t care, I have to talk to him right now.

    “He was taken off the podium and brought to a side room. I spoke with him; I told him: You can’t vote for this proposal.

    “He said: Listen, I don’t know, I didn’t see, don’t know what it says.

    “I told him: I know, and you can’t vote for it!

    “He then instructed the Secretary of State, and she did not vote for it.

    “It was a proposal she had put together, one she formulated, one she organized, one she maneuvered. It left her rather embarrassed, abstaining in the vote on a proposal she herself had put together. That was why the French and the Brits said she had pulled a fast one on them, she having been the one to spur them to submit the proposals.”

    With that kind of power, Israel is free to do what it pleases without fear of consequences. It can do to Hamas and the Gazans what it did to Hezbollah and the Lebanese, confident of support not only from the US government but from American mainstream media as well.

    Jeff Greenwald, a columnist for Salon, pointed to a recent New York Times article by Thomas L. Friedman praising Israel’s misconduct:

    “Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a non-state actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future….

    “In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to ‘educate’ Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population…If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.”

    Greenwald noted that Israel’s strategy fits the US State Department’s definition of terrorism:

    “The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience….”

    Greenwald concludes that Israel’s strategy makes statehood the only thing that distinguishes it from “sub-national groups” like Al Qaeda whose rationale is “we’re going to inflict ‘civilian pain’ on Americans so that they stop supporting their government’s domination of our land and so their government thinks twice about bombing more Muslim countries…”

    Israel hollows out the Bush administration’ s rhetoric on the war on terror. But so what? Power has its privilege.

Out with the old, in with the new

Posted in Manuel Buencamino,Philip Gilmore Cartoons by uniffors on the January 21st, 2009

Darkness is lifted, the sky is blue. The stale air is gone.

    “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.” – President Barack Hussein Obama

Of Narratives and Obamalegacies

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the January 19th, 2009

From Business World’s Yellow Pad comes this essay from Krupskaya Anonuevo, one of the younger Fellows of Action for Economic Reforms.

    Of Narratives and Obamalegacies

    by Krupskaya M. Añonuevo

    Slumdog Millionaire isn’t for wussies. Its opening torture scene, boy-covered- in-shit schtick, and the necessary gang bang-bang-bangs are for those who are able to open their eyes even if what they see are not all ducks and rabbits.

    One of the best films of 2008, SM’s grand wave of a narrative reminded me that the best stories are usually the untamed crazy ones—tales that take you for a ride and make you feel that every triumph and every loss is necessary, almost preordained.

    Being a bookworm with high standards, I am used to such magical threads. But this year threw me an unexpected ball of compelling yarn. Unexpected because it’s actually a true story; compelling because it continues to draw me into its folds even after a year of fascination.

    Obama’s story has inspired Obamania not just in Obamanation; even in the forgotten corner of Bamako, this little Filipina was Barackified- –Barackupied with a special all-nighter to anticipate, and then celebrate, with the rest of the world, the Obamalicious Obamariffic Obamawin.

    But the Obama epic isn’t grand because of Obama buzzwords, nor is its value limited to the intense-but- fleeting Obamaphoria. Unlike other narratives that move because they mirror our internal dramas, Obama’s improbable tale is powerful precisely because it is different.

    With change as its banner, the great Obama story reminds us that dream worlds can come true. But more than that, more than the relief that the all-mighty USA will soon be in better hands, more than the sense of progress and promise, and more than the slightly envious kind of wishful thinking, the unfolding events have given something much more enduring to me.

    From a ballad of broken stories (for example, an idealism diminished by long-distance loves and Metro Manila’s urban ick), I now have a brighter, shinier new narrative.

    Government can be sexy. And I want to be part of this possibility.

    Picture this: a 28-year-old semi-volunteer doesn’t even notice the potholes of Dabola (a town in Guinea, West Africa) because she is busy grinning as she imagines being more involved in Philippine civil society and slowly inching her way towards the land of education reforms.

    Maybe it’s a bit of a fairytale, but I don’t mind. Yes, there are institutional barriers, like the heavy reliance on foreign funding and the lack of a unifying education reform agenda, but I’d like to think of these as challenges– -part and parcel of any problem-solving endeavor.

    Of course being part of government is not the only way to be part of the solution. My most important lesson for 2008 is actually how NGOs can be beyond effective, from using existing ‘grins’ (groups not unlike our ‘barkadas’) to teach the youth about reproductive health (in Mali) to celebrating adult education and emphasizing how fun lifelong learning is (in the UK). We can even contribute as individuals, like Life of Pi author Yann Martel’s brilliant idea of suggesting and actually sending books to Canadian PM Stephen Harper because politicians’ imagination should be accountable to us (although GMA is probably beyond saving that even the wisest, most lyrical of books will do her no good.)

    But as much as I am excited by the prospect of being involved in NGOs and coming up with cool projects for promoting literacy and self-regulated learning, my ideal end is still a government post. Because I think that it is with a government post that I can influence the most. Plus, changing government’s image to a more palatable one is appealing because it seems so huge a task. Everyone’s so cynical about Philippine governance that just trying to somehow put a dent on that cynicism brings its unique thrill.

    Speaking of demonstrating good leadership in our country, I recently picked up Extraordinary: Stories for Aspiring Leaders. I haven’t finished it yet, but the fact that the book features outstanding Filipino leaders and the fact that it targets the Filipino youth automatically make it a laudable effort. Having grown up in UP’s Department of Psychology, my renewed interest in leadership automatically steered me towards journal articles. While finding out what the latest research says is always necessary, Extraordinary made me realize that awe and encouragement are easier found in anecdotes showcasing “the quality and the capacity of contemporary Filipino leadership.”

    Better than reading about outstanding leadership, of course, is actually experiencing it. Obama has been a spark of sorts, but my favorite leaders are still the ones I have actually worked with. Obama’s range of inspirational acts is indeed a wide one, but, in the end, my mentors here have had a deeper, more long-lasting impact.

    In other words, on Obama’s inauguration, while I will definitely be celebrating with another special White House pajama party, this time with the obligatory tub of popcorn and CNN (or BBC) coverage of the historic event, I won’t have the overwhelming desire to actually be in Washington, D.C.

    Here is just fine.

    Because, in the end, my story as a leader is here.

    With my pulsating desire to be a more proactive citizen and my determination to embark on a deliberate leadership development initiative, I know I am in the right place.

Ms. Añonuevo recently did voluntary development work in Mali. She is one of the young fellows of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph) .

On the proposed “english only” law

Posted in Brownman's Posts by uniffors on the January 15th, 2009

Here’s a great piece on the “english only” bill introduced by Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu.

I love this paragraph:

    What makes it even more hilarious, of the kind that hurts when you laugh, is that the House of Representatives should be in any position to debate the virtues of language when it has proven itself only to be a Tower of Babel. That is a pit that harbors many tongues, not of them harboring the most essential element of any language, without which communication is not possible. That element is truth. That House speaks the language of power, it speaks the language of money, it speaks the language of selfishness and greed. But it does not speak the language of truth.

The essay’s title, Knave’s English, is apt because knave means a dishonest and unscrupulous man. And it can refer to a male servant, a journeyman and an unprincipled crafty person.

Knave’s English
By Conrado de Quiros

I can’t think of anything more hilarious than the House of Representatives debating Rep. Eduardo Gullas’s bill demanding that English, and English alone, be used as medium of instruction in Philippine schools. His bill proposes to do away with the bilingual policy that dates back to 1974.

What makes it hilarious you’ll know if you’ve listened to the House debates, some of which have been aired on TV. They would positively make an elementary English teacher cringe. My apologies to my Cebuano friends, but I don’t know why Cebuanos, or their officials, like to imagine, they stood first in line when God, or the Americans, distributed English. There’s little evidence of it. Accent is the least of their problems.

Of course Miriam Santiago is neither a representative nor a Cebuano, she is a senator and an Ilonggo, but, Jesus, can you imagine a whole new generation of Filipinos speaking like her?

What makes it even more hilarious, of the kind that hurts when you laugh, is that the House of Representatives should be in any position to debate the virtues of language when it has proven itself only to be a Tower of Babel. That is a pit that harbors many tongues, not of them harboring the most essential element of any language, without which communication is not possible. That element is truth. That House speaks the language of power, it speaks the language of money, it speaks the language of selfishness and greed. But it does not speak the language of truth.

Neither English nor Tagalog — nor indeed Cebuano — will be able to help that.

The bill’s premise is wrong to begin with. The decline of English in these parts has nothing to do with the bilingual policy in education. It has to do with the decline in reading, a habit few congressmen have been known to indulge in. Even English-speaking countries have experienced a decline at least in good English, if not in English itself, from reading falling into disrepute among their inhabitants. Add to that the language of text messages and the deterioration is complete.

In fact we do have the most compelling reason to adopt a bilingual policy. This point is largely ignored in our periodic debates about whether to use English or Tagalog as the medium of instruction, if not indeed as the national language. It’s a point I myself have largely ignored until the last dozen years or so.

It hit me like a ton of bricks in a media conference abroad some years ago. I was astonished to learn how we truly stuck out as the odd man in Asia even in media. Elsewhere in Asia, the mass circulation newspapers are in the local languages, mass circulation meaning several million copies or so a day for each of them. Our mass circulation newspapers are in English, and our combined broadsheets do not even reach a million copies a day.

The knee-jerk reaction is to say: So why don’t we publish local-language newspapers and so produce mass circulation ones? But you realize that there precisely is the rub. Whether we like it or not, we do have a bilingual practice, if not policy, in language. We speak in the local languages, but we read (and write) in English. Some do speak in English, it is their first language, but they are few and far between. Most of us speak in Tagalog or some other local language — I speak in Tagalog, English and Bicol in that order, Bicol being last simply because I have few people to talk with in it — but read newspapers, books, and other materials in English.

Two things prove the wisdom of the bilingual policy beyond a shadow of doubt. One is the death of English on prime time TV news, and two is the death of Tagalog in broadsheets. No one produces an (exclusively) English-language TV newscast now because it has no audience, and no one produces a Tagalog broadsheet now (tabloid is another matter entirely, and best left for another day) because it has no audience.

To insist that the kids speak in English to express themselves in schools, or that the teacher teaches Science and Math in English and require students to answer in the same language, is to insist that the tail wag the dog. It is not only cruel, it is idiotic. All the studies show that kids learn best in their own language, and conversely that they learn hardest in a foreign one. Filipino kids trying to learn Science and Math in English do double the work Japanese kids do in trying to learn Science and Math in Japanese, or Thai kids do trying to learn Science and Math in Thai. And the results show it. Filipino kids do poorly in both as compared with Japanese or Thai kids.

But just as well, to insist that kids read and write in Tagalog or the other local languages is to insist that the tail wag the dog. I know it’s a cumbersome process speaking in Tagalog and the local languages and reading and writing in English, but the alternative is worse. I doubt many Filipinos will be able to make the transition to reading and writing in Tagalog, as those who tried to publish Tagalog-language broadsheets have learned the hard way. Things are not going to get easier with the Internet.

The bilingual policy in education remains a most intelligent and enlightened policy, taking stock as it does of existing realities and building on them. I suspect the fetish with English with some Filipinos, congressmen included, isn’t just practical, it is colonial. It goes back to Jose Rizal’s time when the “indios” [natives] were denied Spanish, which gave us the idea that being able to speak the language of the colonizer made up for our snub noses and dark skins. It does not.

In any case, Mark Twain was right: It is better to keep quiet and look like a fool than to open your mouth and confirm it. It is also better to not speak English and look like a fool than open your mouth and confirm it.

The lynching of State Prosecutor John Resado

Posted in Manuel Buencamino by uniffors on the January 13th, 2009

My Dispatches From The Enchanted Kingdom column (Business Mirror, Wednesday, Jan 14 2009) is a rant against the lynchers of State Prosecutor John Resado.

    The lynching of State Prosecutor John Resado

    It’s a lynching. That’s the only way to describe what Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director Dionisio Santiago instigated when he insinuated that State Prosecutor John Resado dumped a drug case in exchange for a bribe that started at P3-M and ballooned to P50-M.

    Santiago’s expose resulted in a media feeding frenzy and a congressional investigation that distinguished itself for prejudging Resado.

    The lynch mob never gave Resado a chance to respond to any of the accusations thrown at him.

    They dismissed his explanation of a fiscal’s two-step role of impartial investigator during the inquest or discovery process and prosecutor, if probable cause is ever found.

    They castigated him for his reluctance to “massage” the PDEA’s case and his “wrong” interpretation of a department order he believed contradicted the Rules of Court.

    Never mind that Resado concluded there was no case to prosecute because the arrest and search were done illegally. The mob insisted a fiscal had no business acting as a judge.

    Ironically, the same argument can be used against the congressmen who, only two months earlier, dismissed the impeachment case against Gloria Arroyo for lack of substance.

    Party-listers for their part used Resado to go after Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary Raul Gonzalez. They said the DOJ practiced a double standard: strict adherence to technicalities when it involved drugs but not when it came to politics.

    I watched two days of televised committee hearings and I’m convinced Director Santiago used the bribery allegation to draw attention away from the fact that his ballyhooed “air-tight” case was full of holes.

    When asked about the expose, all he could say under oath was, “We used that to psyche out the prosecutors.”

    He told the committee he had no other choice but to reveal the bribe after he learned of a text message asking why the case was still being pursued despite money being passed.

    He did not tell the committee that the text message came from the wife of David Brodett, the estranged uncle of one of the suspects.

    That information only came out on the second day of the hearing when Brodett, along with his wife and son, showed up as guests of PDEA.

    Major Ferdinand Marcelino, the nation’s flavor of the month, added legs to Santiago’s psywar operation by testifying that he received two bribe offers not to file the case and then to drop the case.

    When asked who offered the bribe, Marcelino said it was his “mistah” at the Philippine Military Academy, but he would only reveal the man’s name in executive session.

    Maj. Marcelino wanted to protect a bribing mistah’s good name!

    That should have raised the hackles of the congressional committee. But it did not.

    The mob was only interested in proving that Resado and his colleagues were bribed. They didn’t seem to care much about who acted as middleman for the bribe.

    Major Marcelino must have concluded he had a free pass and so he refused twice to appear before the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) panel investigating his allegations.

    Arnel Dalumpines, head of the NBI special task force investigating the bribe, said Marcelino told investigators “it’s Justice Secretary Gonzalez who should be investigated instead of him.”

    The fact is the PDEA has an in-house counsel, Alvaro Lazaro. Presumably, he reviewed the affidavits of his agents before submitting them to Resado.

    If he had prepared the affidavits properly, there would have been no need for any “clarificatory questions.” The sworn statements would have stood on their own merits.

    And that, by the way, is what Resado meant when he said he studied all the affidavits and counter-affidavits, and he saw no need for clarificatory questions.

    But there were so many questions, as pointed out by the committee and the PDEA. So is that the fault of Resado or Lazaro?

    If the committee had been impartial, if they were really searching for the truth and not just grandstanding, they would have skewered Lazaro for submitting a case worthy of Oliver Lozano and Ruel Pulido instead of lynching Resado who did everything by the book.

    But what can you expect of politicians?

    They know that to be against drugs is to become popular and for that they will do anything, including destroying a man’s reputation and participating in the sacrifice of due process and the rule of law.

Next Page »