Archive for the ‘Joseph Estrada’ Category

So long Mary! With reconciliation, RP may have a thousand years of peace

January 17, 2009

Mary Ejercito, the mother of disgraced ex-president Joseph (Erap) Estrada got outstanding honor when she died. For three days, the 103-year old matriarch of the Estrada clan was laid for viewing at Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan, Manila before she was interred on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at San Juan Public Cemetery. Numerous people from all walks of life streamed in to pay their respects and condoled with the bereaved family.

Among those who visited the wake in St. John the Baptist Church were Pampanga representative and presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, and Senator Manuel Villar Jr.” GMA News.TV (01/17/09)

Political personalities, movie celebrities, scribes, friends and foes came. Estrada’s chief political rival Pres. Gloria M. Macapagal (who quickly pardoned him after being convicted of plunder) sent her condolence. So did political enemies like Sen. Richard Gordon, undersecretary Reynaldo Berroya, and former Pres. Corazon C. Aquino who was among those who ousted Estrada in the second controversial people’s power. They stopped by the San Juan church to be with the mourners.

In attendance too was Gov. Luis (Chavit) Singson, Ilocandia’s rabble-rouser and witness to Erap’s nightly debaucheries and theft which caused his shameful dismissal from Malacanang Palace. Laarni Enriquez, one of Estrada’s mistresses prevailed for 15 minutes in the church under the glare of people’s curious eyes before leaving.

There were countless ordinary citizens who lined up to pay tribute clogging roads and interrupting vehicular traffic. Funereal wreaths and flowers overflowed. It was to the elderly centenarian’s honor and sympathy to her family that the majority attended the burial.

Politicians are known to be strange bedfellows. Since Estrada’s political rivals and loyal friends came, Mary’s death seemed a time for real reconciliation. If true, the Philippines, rejecting hypocrisy in government leadership and society, may well realize a thousand years of political calm and progress. (Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin/ Pol Briana) =0=


Obituary: Mary M. Ejercito

January 14, 2009

Mary M. Ejercito (1905-2009), loving mother of Philippine ex-president Joseph Estrada died at age 103 in San Juan Medical Center in Manila on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, of multiple organ failure after a lingering illness.

The wake is being prepared at St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan, Metro Manila. The schedule of burial hasn’t been released by the bereaved family. UP Ibalon expresses its sympathy and requests readers to pray for the eternal repose of Mrs. Ejercio. Requiescat in Pace. (Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin/ Pol Briana, Jr)=0=


The True Story of the Start of the 2000 Mindanao War: A Recollection and View from Lanao del Norte

January 5, 2009

Approaching the end of 1999, the non-technical end of the last century, there was a certain disquiet in Cagayan de Oro City. For some months already troops from Luzon and Visayas kept arriving to be hosted temporarily in the Army’s divisional camp there before being sent to Muslim areas. Of course there was already intermittent fighting in Cotabato and Lanao del Sur.

Soon there were whispers of war. Then President Estrada came. In a war-like tone he said he gave the MILF his personal guarantees that “he will treat them fairly” if they will give up their struggle but its leadership has been rebuffing him. He said he is ready to launch an “all-out war” to resolve the Mindanao problem.

When asked if it is true that there are already 36 battalions in Mindanao, President Estrada replied, “38!” And soon after that another two battallions arrived (and more after the war began).

Sometime early March the commander of a newly-arrived Army batallion near Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte sent a letter to Commander Bravo, commander of the MILF-BIAF’s then-2nd Division, demanding the return of an abandoned schoolhouse which Bravo was occupying. Reportedly a man of few words and having a short fuse, Bravo refused.

It must be noted that in 1997 the government and the MILF signed a ceasefire agreement and in 1999 the two sides held formal peace talks. In the process, the MILF submitted a list of 13 major and 30 satellite MILF camps for verification and recognition. However, when the count reached 7 major camps “noted”, hostilities started.

When the Army commander threatened attack, Bravo declared his “green line” and said he will fire upon any government forces that breach it.

Soon two tracked Army armored personnel carriers (M-113s) came. A Chinese B-40 rocket launcher was fired breaching the two sides of the APC and killing all the crew. The second APC beat a hasty retreat. All these were captured on video and shown uncut on Iligan City TV.

Soon a full-scale Army assault ensued. Unable to hold on to his camp, Bravo launched an attack on Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. He was able to occupy the who town for 12 hours on March 17, 2000. This is the part of the war which the government highlighted as the “start” of the 2000 Mindanao war.

The MILF ransacked the police headquarters but they spared the municipal hall. Bravo withdrew from Kauswagan before the Army came (but medals were handed out for the “liberation” of the town). A handful of Muslim homes were set on fire by Christians in the aftermath.

For one week the private TV station in Iligan City covered the war uncensored, showing video footages from both sides including the Army’s “clearing” operations (all I saw of this were soldiers blanketing by gunfire any possible hiding space and animals running in all directions).

The radio stations of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities gave free rein to partisans of both sides. Exchanges readily escalated to the level of insults, taunts and threats. But I noticed that the Muslim partisans were more level-headed. The most searing was the question, “How can you call yourself Christians if you burn and ransack houses of your neighbors?”.

After one week the government threatened to close the stations. It was losing the propaganda war. The vivid coverage stopped but not the fighting.

The military assault spread throughout Mindanao. The famed Camp Abubakar and the Buliok complex (the MILF’s biggest camp) fell to government soldiers. President Estrada claimed victory when he was able to raise the Philippine flag in Camp Abubakar, the MILF’s central base.

And the Filipino people believed the war started with the MILF’s attack in Kauswagan. In the same way the people believe now that the recent war started with the MILF’s attack (again) in Kauswagan.

[photo credit:christusrex]

Cory Aquino’s "Apology": A Betrayal?

December 29, 2008

Days after former President Cory Aquino’s supposed apology to former President Estrada, I am still in wonderment and puzzled about all the hullabaloo coming from her political allies. Does a former President lose her right to rue one of her public actions? Can an icon like no longer look back to one of the most controversial portions of our history?

Or are all these manifestations of insecurity on the part of her political allies? That she is no longer one with them in affirming that “they did the right thing” in participating in EDSA II?

Among the comments against her that I read, the most galling is the Philippine Daily Inquirer Editorial Opinion on December 26, 2008. Allow me to quote some excepts:

“…former Corazon Aquino’s apology to the disgraced former President Joseph Estrada for the “mistake” of Edsa 2001 is a betrayal of the highest aspirations of the democracy she helped restore in 1986…”

My opinion: Very strong words. I wish that has been reserved for the power-seeking couple now occupying Malacanang.

It also betrays the elitist understanding of the former President…of the dynamics of recent mass movements in Philippine politics.”

My take: No supporting arguments were offered for this contention. I wonder what are the credentials of the writer regarding the topic of mass movements. I am not even sure that EDSA II is the result of a mass movement.

Edsa II was a direct political action triggered by evidence of grave presidential wrongdoing…”

Last year’s well-argued, solidly based Sandiganbayan decision finding him guilty of two of four counts of plunder is the best justification for Edsa II.”

I say: Does the Inquirer say that everytime there’s evidence of “grave presidential wrongdoing” an EDSA II must be launched?

I think this editorial and comments like this reek of political self-righteousness as in, “Yes, we were completely right”, and a refusal to re-study EDSA II. And probably this also shows a refusal to recognize that they were used and conned by a power-seeking couple that now occupies the stinking Palace by the Pasig river.

To be consistent the allies of former President Aquino should launch another EDSA II and it is probably only right to expect the Inquirer to lead this if they believe in their own editorial. And we will probably see who has a poorer understanding of the dynamics of mass movements.

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=


Hospital: a vacation house or a sanctuary for malingerers?

October 29, 2008

The spectacular show of Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante continued at the airport when an ambulance rushed him to St. Lukes’s Medical Center on his arrival on October 28, 2008. The deportee who lost his appeal for asylum in the United States allegedly complained of “chest pains” and hospital authorities are mum about his medical condition

“…as the then undersecretary for finance of the Department of Agriculture, Bolante was the architect of embezzlement of more than P3 Billion (around $64M), including P728M fertilizer fund, that were intended for farmers’ benefits…reports suggest that the fraud-tainted money was used as campaign fund of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election.” UP “Accused of Plunder, Jocjoc Bolante, Returns from US a Deportee’ (10/29/08, Gimpaya, A)

Accused of stealing money from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP,) Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia committed a crime similar to that Bolante is charged of. Both needed some hospital stay. Garcia had himself confined in UST for alleged serious medical problems at the height of his trial only to be found guilty of corruption and acts unbecoming of a soldier.

Convicted child-rapist Romeo Jalosjos had been reported to have sought medical confinement for conditions like cough and high blood pressure that could well be managed on an out-patient basis.

Pres. Erap Estrada used the Veterans Memorial Medical Center as a private detention house until he was brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. Later he was put under “rest house arrest” in his cozy villa across the camp on the bases of questionable medical reasons. His supporters were delighted, but the public couldn’t hide their scorn.

Yolanda Ricaforte, the bag woman in the Estrada plunder case also used some medical excuses. She pompously appeared in public in a wheelchair with a personal nurse during an investigation. With eyes shielded by dark sunglasses, she blamed hypertension for her “fragile” health. Her nurse in a white uniform plus a stethoscope on her neck stood by her side as though she could do something in case an emergency arise. After that appearance, Ricaforte surreptitiously rode a plane, skipped Manila to hide as a fugitive in America.

Filipinos understand that medical problems are used as props, distractions, and excuses during an inquiry or litigation. Lawyers exploit health reasons for their clients with the cooperation of their doctors. Not negating the need to stay in the hospital if there is true medical indication, the public is usually distrustful whenever people like Bolante goes straight to stay in a hospital suite (not the emergency room?) after his arrival in the airport. (Photo Credits: shashamane; suetortoise) =0=

UPDATE: GMA News reported on October 30, 2008 that Joc Joc Bolante is confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center for medical tests that will take 5 days—rather slow for a VIP. There is no apparent medical justification to keep him in bed in the hospital which can be better used by sicker patients. Many MDs suspect, with Bolante’s “stable” status, such tests on him are better done on out-patient (ambulatory) service.

The dancing senator and her caustic remark

August 18, 2008

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the Dancing Queen
—Dancing Queen, ABBA (from the Broadway Hit “Mama Mia”)

When our senators debate on issues, the arguments suddenly get out of focus. Their exchanges degenerate lower than what we expect from sane people. This is what happened when former Sen. Teresita Aquino-Oreta, argued against Sen. Benigno (Nonoy) Aquino III’s comment that the country hasn’t advanced for 25 years, since this his murdered father, Ninoy Aquino died.

Oreta (well-recalled as the “dancing queen” in the senate floor when she sashayed and wiggled in euphoric glee, during an impeachment proceeding of then Pres. Joseph Estrada in January 2001,) disagreed with Nonoy Aquino’s assessment about the country without giving a satisfactory clarification.

Whether the Philippines moved ahead or not is something that needs explanation. From experience, we have strong opinions about where the country has gone. Oreta could have asked Noynoy what he meant. Or she might have rebutted his opinion with evidence to the contrary. Instead, she turned against former Pres. Corazon Aquino, saying, “His mommy led the country for six years. So please don’t tell us now the country hasn’t moved forward.” PDI (08/18/08, Dalangin-Fernandez, L)

Such corrosive exchanges are typical of family feuds in our households that we don’t want to hear. While we suspect malice and emnity in her statement, Oreta missed proving Noynoy wrong. Instead of being defensive (or firing on the messenger for his message,) she seems in need of more maturity to let us understand that she’s telling the truth or helping us move ahead. =0=

Signs of the times & the words we live by

August 1, 2008

Watching TV, listening to the radio and reading newspapers give us a sense of what’s going on in the country. Words used in the media correlate well with our level of optimism. They seem to function like internal barometers of our feelings, our reactions to the events that go our way, our outlook of the future.

The preponderance of negative words we meet daily goes well with the uncertainty and pessimism we feel today. Despite this however, hope still persists. We see sunshine in darkness. Better days are ahead of us. Here are twelve recurring terms in our media lexicon that’s worth thinking about:

Kaya Natin: refers to a new group of hardworking and ethical Filipinos who wants to promote real change and conscientious leadership in the country. Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Mayor Sonia Lorenzo and Isabela Grace Padaca have pledged to lead the group launched in Ateneo de Manila University recently.

Wow, Philippines: the wonderful slogan that promotes the country as a tourist destination.

Swine Scam: another scandal; it refers to the P114.6 million in loan proceeds which allegedly went to individuals and groups, including Jose Nograles, brother of the House Speaker Prospero Nograles, in the form of miscellaneous fees which is being investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

Noodles Republic: the transformation of the country from a “strong republic” promised by Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo earlier in her term to a “noodles republic” which describes poor Filipinos who subsist on noodles for their meals because of high prices of food.

Suspicious Lines: the ignominious other name people use for Sulpicio Lines (SL,) that beleaguered ferry company noted for its frightening maritime record. SL carries a distinctive trail of mishaps, ship keels, and mass deaths that boggle the mind.

A Ticking Time Bomb: a laundry list of problems hounding the administration of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo according to Pres. Fidel V. Ramos. It includes widespread poverty, high prices of groceries, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, environmental degradation, corruption, red tape, broken electoral process, abuses of politicians, among others.

Double Dead Meat: meat from swine, dog, cow, chicken or fowl which died from a disease or accident, sold illegally without safety inspection, and passed to consumers as “fresh.”

Boom: a positive word to describe a boost in business, an increase in arrivals of tourist, a flood of OFW remittances, a bountiful harvest, a surge in the a catch of fish…to name a few.

Numskull: synonym for idiot and stupid that Sen. Miriam D. Santiago uses to refer to her colleagues in the legislature. The derogatory term draws a numb reaction from her opponents who seem cowed by her narcissistic verbosity and perceived superiority. Many see some truth in what she says. They say collectively, the intelligence, honesty, and competence of senators and congressmen is at an all-time low since Pres. Joseph Estrada ascended to power.

Double Courser: a term in education which refers to a student who previously finished a course to pursue another. It’s mostly seen in the nursing profession which attracts students with academic degrees in medicine, commerce, law, engineering, and education. A double course provides an avenue for Filipinos to qualify for jobs abroad—a double-edged sword that both alleviates and aggravates joblessness.

Corruption: the error-proof explanation of the deteriorated condition of the country. The World Bank disclosed that the country is last among East Asia’s 10 largest economies in curtailing this problem. It is estimated that the Philippines loses more than $2 billion a year to corruption.

Plunder: the ostentatious word for government thievery. High profile officials like Pres. Joseph Estrada had been accused of this crime, but they are either pardoned or left alone to continue their notoriety with greater rapacity and lack of shame. =0=