Archive for the ‘Cory Aquino’ Category

Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed

March 5, 2009

Those who followed the news of the grisly killing of Ninoy Aquino more than two decades ago couldn’t easily believe the freeing the 10 soldiers convicted of the assassination. They never imagined Pres. Gloria Arroyo, in her exercise of executive power pardoned the convicts just as easily as she pardoned Pres. Joseph Estrada of his ignominious crimes.

Released Convicts

ex-Capt. Romeo Bautista
former 2/Lt. Jesus Castro
ex Sgt Ruben Aquino,
ex Sgt Arnulfo de Mesa
ex Sgt Rodolfo Desolong
ex Sgt Arnulfo Artates
ex Sgt Claro Lat
ex Sgt Ernesto Mateo
ex Sgt Filomendo Miranda
ex Constable 1st Class Rogelio Moreno

There was no admission of guilt from the soldiers convicted of Ninoy’s fatal shooting on August 21, 1983 when he arrived in Manila after a three-year exile from United States. The soldiers beholden by military code of silence pointed to Rolando Galman, tagged by the Marcos dictatorship as the communist hitman out to kill Marcos’ chief political opponent. Though the mastermind of the crime was not known nor punished, Pres. Cory Aquino believed it was Marcos who was behind the murder. Upon learning of the pardon, the ailing Ninoy’s widow refused to comment.

Accusing Pres. Arroyo of “abuse of discretion,” Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Ninoy’s son, said “Society has an obligation to transmit a message that if you commit a crime, you must pay for it,..They haven’t owned up to their sin. Why were they freed when they have yet to ask for forgiveness?”

In a reaction, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said that the “sad reality about all this is that only the small fry have been made to suffer….Until the masterminds are known and punished for their dastardly deed, we will never have closure to this brutal murder case.”—Inquirer (03/05/09)

It was for “humanitarian reasons” that the executive clemency was given. Government officials were unmindful of the need to apply the law consistently so as to hammer the message of what crime and punishment must be. They are convinced the killers had suffered enough and they took it upon themselves to decide it’s time to set convicts free. In so doing, they have been dismissive of the injustice endured by the Aquino family, the Galman family, and the nation that Ninoy left behind. (Photo Credit: dead_mullen)=0=

Reynaldo Galman & his mother Lina

Reynaldo Galman, the son of Rolando (believed to be the fall-guy in the Aquino assasination) condemns the pardoning of the 10 convicted killers who continue to point to his father as Ninoy’s murderer. The brains of the Aquino-Galman murders remain unkonwn.

After more than two decades, many of the principal players who could have shed light on the heinous incident are either ailing or have died of natural causes. The 10 soldiers of the Aviation Security Command (AVSECOM) tasked to provide security to Ninoy have upheld the official Marcos story which pointed Rolando Galman as the killer. Many Filipinos think Galman was indeed a fall-guy to cover up for a greater conspiracy to kill.

Reynaldo Galman could only recall his suffering after he lost his father. His mom Lina Galman was abducted by unidentified men and disappeared without a trace soon after the airport murders. He lived as an orphan, became a nurse, then later worked in the Middle East. =0=


Cory’s Apology And Our Inutility

December 24, 2008

When former President Cory Aquino apologized to former President Erap Estrada for her participation in the so-called EDSA II, which her spokesperson later said was made in jest, initially I cannot make heads or tails out of it. But mulling about it I think she was really serious about it and it seems the “clarification” of the spokesperson was just an attempt in damage control. Because mmediately after the apology, a firestorm of criticism emanating from former allies battered the former President who is not known for making jokes.

I cannot make sense of the criticism directed at Cory from the likes of Sen. Gordon, Archbishop Cruz and her own son Noynoy. First of all, if a person wants to issue a mea culpa it is his or her full right to do so. Anyway, nobody is yet suggesting that the former President’s mental faculties are already impaired. And to me a person battling for her life (she is stricken with cancer) and who has no political ambitions is even more credible.

But maybe those who reacted are a bit insecure now about their historical role in EDSA II or simply they are being self-righteous about it.

There was a wide consensus among the educated then that Erap was a bit inept, obviously undisciplined and he lets some friends make deals when he was President. But to depose Erap in such a way when there were legal avenues open and there were no insinuations that Erap was throttling the legal remedies (unlike the current occupier of Malacanang) subsequently became the bone of contention.

EDSA II never really gained widespread acceptance (Erap still had a positive trust rating when he was deposed and the poor never really accepted his fall as evidenced by the so-called EDSA III; moreover, it was just a Manila event). Even in the international plane, world leaders and personalities never praised EDSA II and it even drew criticisms. Probably EDSA II even demeaned EDSA I. As evidences seeped out, more and more it looks liked a simple power grab by an oppurtunistic clique who was able to con the educated class and a the same time a mutiny on the part of the military.

The power grab resulted not in a better government but in a more corrupt, shameless and abusive regime. And a Pandora’s box was opened–that extra-constitutional means of regime change is possible and can be legalized by a complicit Supreme Court. I think Cory is aware of this and I think this is the foundation of her change of heart regarding her EDSA II participation.

Most of the other political allies of Cory are still silent about her apology. Are they this deferent to Cory or is this silence a tacit admission that they themselves have already doubts about the rightness of their participation in EDSA II?

To widen the view, let us take note that notable ESDA II participants like former Senate President Villar and former Vice-President Guingona has already made peace with Erap. I think Cory’s move is along this line. The only difference is that Cory has probably the guts to make her apologies public and for this she drew flak.

The ignominy right now is not Cory’s apology. It is just like making a mountain out of a molehill. Our current ignominy resides in the situation where we have a regime geometrically worse than Erap’s and yet we cannot do anything about it. And that “stellar” gathering where Cory made her apology is just the final proof of our current inutility.

[Photo credit:alaykayresilmojares]

Cory’s EDSA II apology opens controversies & distrust among Filipinos

December 24, 2008

Calling the EDSA II revolution a mistake, Corazon (Cory) Aquino, one of the leaders of the movement which ousted former Pres. Joseph (Erap) Estrada from power has brought the nation into new controversies. The sudden confession of the ailing former president opened wounds— sowing confusion among doubting Filipinos who bewailed the endemic poor leadership in the national government.

Rather than bridging the often-repeated “reconciliation” among warring political parties, the demure housewife and former chief executive unwittingly exposed the short-sightedness and immaturity of leaders who stood as huge obstacles to the progress of the country. There were those who surmised if cancer and treatment had put her on tremendous strain; her ability to think sanely as before might have taken a beating.

As a devout practitioner of Catholicism, the former president who’s trying to define her legacy as an infuential public servant may have scored high on matters of faith, but she has placed the people in a void of uncertainty whose damage is too early to quantify. The effects are likely to cause lasting shockwaves on how politics will be played in government affairs like the next presidential election. They will cut across the way people will view what is morally right and wrong as they rule over the scandals that see no end.

By seeking Estrada’s forgiveness, Cory repudiated the collective action of her party and those who pushed for an end of blatant thievery, corruption and ineptness during and after Estrada’s administration. The damning evidence of incompetence and plunder laid bare during the 6 years of trial reduced the public to docility and silent acquiescence—- a treacherous problem of Filipinos no wanted to touch.

Like a modern-day soap opera, Estrada’s dizzying legal battle and his privileged imprisonment shown in TVs, radios, and newspapers ended in a conviction hailed by the people. But it was quickly reversed by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA)— herself, a sore symbol of almost all things that had gone wrong with the country. Many believed GMA, the current prexy with an outrageously low approval rating of negative (-30) cleverly pardoned Estrada for political convenience. It was unclear though whether Cory’s apology to Estrada was linked to her frustraion over GMA’s mishandling the government. Cory called on her to resign amidst uncurbed corruption as the wagons of Estrada’s political come-back had rolled in from the first station.

Because of Cory’s change of heart, there are deepening doubts on whether Filipino leaders are up for the job of steering the country to better times. In spite of the early justifications and defense for the widow of Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, her position strengthens the chance of the come-back of the Estrada and his “weather-weather” gang. The Filipinos are left in an impasse: Wala na ba talagang ibang mga magagaling at matitino?

The demoralizing effect of Cory’s declaration puts the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) leadership, a staunch supporter of EDSA II on the defensive. It revives anew the questions on church-state separation and the constitutionality of the power take-overs which left a serious lingering leadership vacuum in all political fronts.

Most of all, it irreparably damaged the Cory brand of uprightness and wisdom she shared with her martyred husband Ninoy Aquino, leaving Filipinos one less of a person to trust and emulate. (Photo Credits: Joe Galvez; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21; gmaresign; Marcial Pontillas21; Marcial Pontillas21)=0=


On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It

December 16, 2008

When I tell younger people that it was much better 40 years ago, I usually draw raised eyebrows. Then I tell them that it might be broken in places but the system of checks and balances were still functioning then. That politicians can still be booted out of office because of perceived corruption. Not now.

Younger people no longer heard of line-item budgeting, a system destroyed by Marcos during martial law so he is free to divert (euphemistically called re-align) public funds as he sees fit. In line-item budgeting all items to be budgeted is given an amount by Congress and funds for it are identified. In this way no significant diversion of funds is possible, hence, corruption is also minimized. This was when Congress still held the full power of the purse. Not now. Everybody has to kowtow to Malacanang and Cory failed to realize the importance of re-setting it.

Now is it a wonder why all the congressmen act like running dogs of Malacanang? Mind you, the term tuta (running dog) has already disappeared from the vocabulary as if it was interred with Marcos. But I remember even at the worst time of his regime, he had still principled people around him who will not dip their fingers in the public till and he always had capable and competent people who are free to say no (but of course it is another matter if he will listen to their counsel). Now all I see around Malacanang are plain running mongrels. Even calling them dogs might be an insult to our loyal canine friends.

There were “commissions” (takes) during Marcos’ time. But if it was probably in the vicinity of 10-20% now it is probably in the realm of 30% or more. All the powers-that-be dips their hands in the projects, from the bureaucrats to the elected officials but it is the latter that are “grabe” (too much).

Corruption is escalating but protest against it is practically a whimper now. It seems we are simply too inure about it now or feeling too powerless to stop it. But at least, the silver lining, if it can be called such, is we have not yet reached sub-Saharan African level where more than 40% of the public funds disappear to only reappear later in European banks.

Where did this all began? Our public dealers (leaders kuno) should certainly be blamed. With a massive mandate all Cory understood was to restore “elite democracy” and its trappings (like the old Congress) and restore Marcos-seized oligarch properties (like Meralco) and reimburse those who were squeezed by Marcos like Joecon Concepcion (by funneling to them low-cost loans extended to us by other countries which was meant to jumpstart our post-Marcos economy).

Cory’s successors were also remiss in reigning in corruption. Ramos and de Venecia like pork barrel immensely so that they can buy off Congress. Making Congress their running dog was the greatest “legacy” of Ramos. And his second-greatest “legacy” is appointing an Ombudsman which will simply cover their tracts.

Arroyo, the protege of Ramos and de Venecia, certainly learned well this “statecraft” and even did one better than them. The protege got too good that she had the temeriry to dump her mentors once the mentors started signalling “sobra na” (too much already).

Erap was content with jueteng money and that’s according to him. But like the others he also cannot say no to friends. But at least he can say no to relatives.

Sometimes I wish the First Quarter Storm will come again. But rules of assembly are different now. And if the youth then had the feeling that they have to set aright their home country now the feeling is to get the necessary degree and experience needed in the least time so they can work abroad. Anyway there is always the Popovism to lull the people that the Philippines is a “great” country as if we are a “blessed” country and people to begin with. And so the circus goes round and round and round.

Bless Henry Sy! He makes us forget our problems with his malls. Who said the best things in life is not free? (Just look at Malacanang and the congressmen).

(Image credit:Wikimedia)

Richard Lugar Praises Obama on Foreign Policy

October 15, 2008

Republican Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar and a prominent member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said in his speech at the National Defense University that there are benefits to talking with enemies of the US, as against use of military force.

Generally, Lugar praised Barack Obama who John McCain called “naive” for saying that as US President he would talk with the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Isolation does not resolve contentious issues, Lugar added in agreement with Obama’s line. In campaign speeches in a presidential debate, Obama repeatedly says that, while he does not take military option off the table, not talking to an enemy regime as a form of punishment does not make sense. Lugar rebuked McCaine by saying that exclusive use of isolation or military force in dealing with enemies of America may not be desirable. “In some cases, refusing to talk can even be dangerous.”

McCain recently took a flack when he turned cold shoulder on the prospect of meeting the Prime Minister of Spain. Spain’s sin: it pulled out its troops from Iraq when the US-initiated invasion started to get messy and unpopular. Since that time, President Bush has snubbed Spain’s leaders, a cue apparently not lost to Senator McCain.

Noting recent diplomatic success in dealing with North Korea, Lugar suggested further diplomatic engagement with Syria and Iran. He suggested though that McCain may be right when the Republican nominee warned that “there are times when diplomatic approaches to rogue regimes have little efficacy.”

In July, one Obama campaign ad mentioned Lugar by name and Lugar says he is “pleased” to have worked with the Democratic nominee on nuclear proliferation issues.

We here in the Philippines remember then Congressman Richard Lugar as the head of a US conressional committee who attempted and failed to broker a deal betwen President Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino as the Marcos regime started to crumble in the aftermath of Ninoy Aquino assassination. At that time, Marcos was a SOB but “he is our SOB.” Incidentally, Obama promises not to have none of these SOBs.