Are the Ampatuans Rebels or Murderers ?

The government says they’re both.

But under the present state of the law, they cannot be charged with rebellion and still stand trial for murder. Murder, and all other incidental crimes related to rebellion, will be subsumed in the latter charge. And while the Penal Code allows separate prosecutions for either murder or rebellion, rebels cannot be charged for both where the indictment alleges that the former has been committed in furtherance of or in connection with the latter.

The Ampatuans can literally get away with murder if they know how.

However, most people know them to be just plain murderous cutthroats.

So what happens now ? Continue reading

Martial Law Just A Ruse Although Teddy Boy Was Right

So martial law in Maguindanao has been lifted. It was just a very clever ruse all along. It hate to say it, but the entire exercise was masterfully done. Practically the entire country has been outfoxed yet again by GMA and her gang. It would now appear that the main objective of the week-long declaration of military rule in the province was to neutralize the still-formidable Ampatuan forces accused of carrying out mass killings to keep the clan in power. And it looks to have worked. It has been reported that at least a total of 529 people involved in an alleged rebellion (the primary ground for declaring martial law), including key Ampatuan family members, leaders and supporters, have been placed under military or police custody. All with little or no bloodshed.

Arroyo knew that the proclamation of martial law had no factual basis and would have eventually been exposed as a sham, if not by Congress, then by the Supreme Court. Hence, the immediate lifting which now renders all the challenges hurled at it moot and academic.

Of course, much of the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth were entirely justified. Nobody really knows what Arroyo has up her sleeve. Continue reading

Why Randy David Backed Out

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has announced her candidacy for a congressional seat in the 2nd District of Pampanga, to no one’s great surprise. She needs to stay in power by some machination if she is to withstand the legal and political challenges she will face as soon as she steps down from the presidency in May. It’s a matter of survival and one can readily understand her motives if not her morals. It’s unprecedented to slide down from the highest elective post in the land to a be a congressperson but it’s the only constitutionally-open door to her at this point. Such a move is entirely consistent with her character of shameless audacity. Continue reading

Noynoy Aquino Lacks Substance

As of now.

Ask yourself, how well do you know him ? His advocacies ? What issues are he passionate about ? Like me, I suspect that most people would draw a blank when asked about Noynoy Aquino, apart from the fact that he is the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino.

Noynoy himself, and his handlers, have not been shy about playing the Ninoy-Cory card. Says Liberal Party 2010 campaign manager Florencio “Butch” Abad: “Senator Aquino will not turn his back on the legacy of his parents”. In a press conference prior to his going on a weekend retreat do seek divine guidance for his political plans, Noynoy said “yes” when asked if he would carry on the fight started by his parents. What this “fight” is all about in concrete terms, he does not say although he can be rather smug about his legacy. Says he: “We enjoy popular support all these years because we reflect the interest of freedom-loving Filipinos.”

But if his main selling point is his parentage, wouldn’t we be better off with Kris Aquino, who is undoubtedly more popular and has lived a more drama-filled life than her bland and balding brother ? It would certainly make for a more interesting campaign, at the very least. Continue reading

Let Cory Aquino Die in Peace

Eased out as headline news in most parts of the world, including the Philippines, by the death of Michael Jackson is the battle with colon cancer of former president Cory Aquino. Good thing too. She confounded most participants of the aborted deathwatch by getting well, at least for now. The media had to content itself with covering the many “get-well Tita Cory” activities in the wake of her reported death. Which was of course greatly exaggerated.

Who doesn’t want to wish her well and a speedy recovery ? Everyone it seems wants her to get back on her feet, the icon of feisty political courage, except Cory herself. She just wants to die, and join Ninoy in the Great Rally in the sky. After having given so much of herself to God, country and the cause of democracy, why not give her this one last wish and let her die with dignity and grace ? Instead, there’s a media circus outside the Makati Med and environs, where she was expected to breath her last. Continue reading

Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service

Chances are the last song you would have heard as you read this and which is still going around in your head is “Thriller”. There’s no escaping Michael Jackson’s music everywhere you went this past week, even in elevators and Starbucks.

Tuesday , July 7, will be Michael Jackson’s memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and more than 1.6 million fans worldwide registered for tickets to the event over the two-day registration period that ended yesterday, not a few from the country. Random names from the registrants will be drawn electronically and the lucky few will know by Sunday evening (Monday morning in Manila). Only 11,000 tickets will be given out for the Tuesday service while another 6,500 tickets will be given away for the Nokia Theater overflow section next door. Anyone from the Philippines lucky enough to be picked will have to fly off to L.A. within a few hours of being informed to make it to Tuesday’s affair. One will have to head for the venue immediately after landing at LAX. My bags are packed and ready. Continue reading

Lessons We Can Learn From Michael Jackson

People are saying about the sad and sudden passing of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, the same thing they said about Elvis: good career move. It’s a bit uncharitable but not entirely inaccurate. He was (and is, in death) a global star but his career had been on a downward spiral for years. Now he’s back on top of the charts.

And given the cult-like veneration given him by some, expect “Michael sightings” to happen a lot in the coming years. He didn’t really die, he was abducted by aliens. Continue reading

Why Randy David Can Beat Gloria Arroyo in 2010

Inevitably billed as a “David vs. Goliath” fight by the media, the announcement of sociology professor Randy David that he would run against Gloria Arroyo should she decide to grab the congressional seat for the 2nd district of Pampanga did not come as a complete surprise to those who know him. This David is no pushover. Soft-spoken, intellectual and unassuming, but definitely not low profile, Prof. David had been a television personality for seventeen years, as a host of a number of well-received public affairs talk shows. He is also a long-time columnist of the Inquirer. Thus, he is comfortable being in the public eye. Neither is he a stranger to controversy, having been active in progressive political circles for decades. He was arrested in 2006 during the series of demonstrations against President Arroyo at the time of the 20th anniversary of the people power revolt when GMA declared a state of national emergency in the face of rising protests against her corrupt government. Continue reading

Name-Calling at the Senate

Senators Enrile and Pimentel threw vicious personal barbs at each other yesterday at the Senate floor, getting one another’s goat by unseemly name-calling. I think Pimentel got the better of the mud-slinging as he touched a raw nerve by calling Enrile the principal administrator of Marcos’ martial law. Enrile admitted to faking his own ambush in order to provide an additional excuse for the imposition of dictatorial rule. He also had Pimentel arrested four times during his incumbency as Marcos’ right-hand man. Mere statements of fact, to be sure, but which cut deep as Mr. Enrile has tried hard to live down his past as a Marcos’ main enforcer. Continue reading

Suicide as the Only Honorable Way

To extricate oneself from a sticky situation, suicide is literally the last resort. A person in full possession of all his faculties would naturally hesitate to resort to what has been called a permanent solution to a temporary problem. But there are people and cultures who look upon self-annihilation as a viable option in order to save some vestige of one’s honor. The Japanese are of course well-known for this. Seppuku or ritual suicide is a means not only of recovering some terminal self-respect and atoning for one’s misdeeds. It can also be aimed at shaming a morally bankrupt system to change. This is what spurred Buddhist monks to immolate themselves publicly and dramatically during the Vietnam war. Japanese novelist and ultra-nationalist Yukio Mishima thought he could do this too but only succeeded in killing himself. Continue reading