According to the blog Center Sight, the Bangkok Post first broke the news of the arrest of Jose Ma. Sison in the Netherlands. The link no longer works, but here’s how the story’s being covered here at home: Joma Sison arrested (also: PNP takes credit for Joma’s arrest and Arrest of Philippine communist leader raises security issues, sparks protest plans).
Incidentally, the clash of opinions on Sison in the blogosphere: even as Philippine Commentary rejoices over Sison’s arrest; even before the arrest, bloggers like tonyo, had taken critics of Sison to task, saying they were being unfair and even committing slander:
No case or investigation against Jose Maria Sison and the CPP pertaining to the Plaza Miranda bombing has prospered. As I have pointed out in an earlier post, the Manila City Prosecutors trashed the police charge against the CPP leaders for lack of sufficient basis.
The recent rebellion charges against the Batasan 6, scores of legal and underground left leaders — an obvious politically-motivated prosecution dismissed with finality by the Supreme Court — included the charge about Plaza Miranda bombing.
There is something dangerous in what Bocobo, Doronila and other detractors of the Left are saying and doing. The demonization of the Left through blatantly baseless and discredited charges such as the alleged CPP order to bomb Plaza Miranda is helping deodorize and prettify the stinking political elite, including the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Like all Grand Pooh-bahs of Communism, Sison is criticized at times for being the centerpiece of a gigantic cult of personality, his followers so fiercely devoted to him that Argee Guevara, in his (wittier) student days, called them “Joma’s Witnesses.” Still, whether suffering from excessive zeal or filled revolutionary virtue, supporters of Sison have taken to drumbeating the same message: see we have no names, witness statement, young radicals, for a small sampling of the reasons why his followers object to his arrest. Or read what the man himself has to say (and you can download mp3’s of his singing and songs).
But as it stands, the reason for his arrest is this: Widow of NPA chief Kintanar speaks out: ‘Yes, I filed case against Joma’.
The Joma brouhaha has sidelined public attention on the Senate debates on the Garci Tapes, and the refusal of the ZTE broadband issue to go away.
Concerning the Garci business, Arroyo’s Senate allies to stop playing of ‘Garci’ tape. Blogger Philippine Commentary generally expressing admiration for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s arguments in a privilege speech yesterday, while accepting that Tortured analysis’–Santiago to Escudero on ‘Hello Garci’ was perhaps more out of Santiago’s pique over Escudero’s making a good legal point:
He makes the very persuasive point that it must first be demonstrated that these recordings are wiretapped materials before the sanctions against possessing them may be invoked as Miriam wants to do even BEFORE such demonstration. That the Garci recordings ARE wiretappings cannot just be asserted and then believed “hook line and sinker”, Chiz claims, but must be tested with questions and logic when the witness Vidal Doble makes his claims and accusations. But first he must be allowed to make those claims. Putting the cart before the horse, you are, Madame. Touche!
What the law prohibits after all is the knowing possession, dissemination and reproduction of illegally wiretapped materials. Chiz basically asks a question that destroy’s the premises and suppositions on which are founded Miriam’s entire discourse: How do we KNOW that these are illegally wiretapped materials and not, let us say, studio spliced recordings?
Miriam had no answer to this other than to assert again “the absolute prohibition against and absolutely inadmissibility of illegally wiretapped material for use in ANY legislative hearing or other proceeding.”
This self-evidently a false claim on the face of it — as if one did not know about Section 3 of the law! Surely, the products of a real spy’s illegal wiretapping activities would be the best physical evidence of those criminal activities, as explicitly allowed for in Section (3) of RA 4200, which covers wiretapping cases involving National Security and kidnapping.
She chooses to ignore the simple fact that the “Anti-Wiretapping Law” does explicitly allow any or all of the acts she claims are prohibited absolutely, such as wiretapping, possession, replay and reproduction of wiretapped materials–before, during or after any crime against national security or in cases of kidnapping.
But, Philippine Commentary says, Santiago’s arguments have their own merit:
I actually agree substantially with the effective position of Miriam to investigate with vigor the Garci Tapes WITHOUT REGARD TO THEIR CONTENT (the electoral fraud angle), and instead to focus on discovering who the Masterminds of Wiretapping are in the Philippines. This is also substantially the position of Rodolfo Biazon, to prosecute the crimes against national security implied by the wiretapping itself. Never mind the content.
Manuel Buencamino pens this gem:
One day every member of the Senate votes to investigate the illegal phone-taps, the next day four legal beagles of Gloria turn around and start barking, “You can’t use those tapes. It’s against the law to use tapes of an illegal wiretap to prove illegal wiretapping. You have to remove the corpus from corpus delecti.”
Does that make any sense? It does if you’re a Dick, a Johnny or a Joker.
See, too, interesting arguments by two attorneys, Leonard de Vera (and needed amendments to the Anti-Wiretapping Law) and Abelardo Aportadera (on how bugging the President is an offense against National Security).
And about the ZTE deal, Lawmaker sues officials in broadband deal (the issue won’t go away, sweeteners of course also help to keep the administration faithful to the deal: Favila: Gov’t can use $400-M China loan any which way). Blogger An OFW Living in Hong Kong has some noteworthy observations to make.
Sometimes I think Amando Doronila is simply dying to prove the President can pull rabbits out of her hat. His column, today, Arroyo seizes the initiative, seems along the lines of his previous claim that the President had pulled a “breathaking” reclaiming of the political initiative after the May elections. The Inquirer editorial takes a different view of things: obstructionism, then and now, remains the President’s game, it says.
I think Mon Casiple (as always) is right on the money:
By now, everybody knows the story of the Garci tapes, and Malacañang claims people are already bored with the story. However, knowing is far different from confirming and admitting. Much as the GMA administration would wish to the contrary, the tale of the tapes is not yet over — a full political closure still has to happen.
The timing of the Doble resurfacing seems to indicate that post-2007 election political negotiations among the administration, opposition, and — interestingly — the presidentiables — are coming to a head without an agreement in sight. We are now confronting a scenario of hard-ball negotiations amidst heightened political tensions, including the resurrected Garci tapes, the Erap decision, a brewing war in the South, talks of coups and emergency situations, and what not.
The importance of the Garci tapes lies in their coercive message to the administration — to make clear its intention not to plot a post-2010 GMA-still-in-power scenario. It is not a surprise that the Senate — the heart of presidential ambitions — has become the arena this time.
Given her narrow window of opportunity before the lameduck syndrome kicks in, the president will have to make many vital decisions affecting her political future in the coming few weeks or months. This should make everyone tensely waiting for the decision on the political compromise with the political opposition, her choice of a presidentiable to support, or to wage the lonely battle to maintain the power.
The column of Ellen Tordesillas, who says the administration’s paranoid about the Philippine Marines, brings to mind blogger Center Sight (originally mentioned above) took an interesting look at Philippine Government Faces Pressure from Several Directions, advocating continued American support for the country:
But it is indeed vital that our government continue to support, advise and provide funding to assist Manila in coping with the ideological equivalent of a two-front war against democracy. While the Philippines continue to develop as a major front line against Islamist hegemony, the decades old Communist insurgency led by the “New People’s Army” is rumored to be gathering forces for a fall offensive against the Filipinos’ strained resources. Opportunity for mischief could arise in expected riots of popular anger when former President Estrada — inexplicably a hero to the poor he championed while pocketing millions intended to help them — is finally convicted for his corruption. And meanwhile, the Islamist subversion is becoming more ambitious, sophisticated and dangerous.
Instead of the usual “bomb ’em all back into the Stone Age” hawkism we usually hear, though, this American blogger takes a more balanced view of things:
The United States should be deeply involved in stimulating reform as well, as emphasized by the continued involvement of police and military forces in “disappearances” and torture involving legitimate political opposition members, and the scandal of politicians in the recent election handing out guns to warlords in exchange for votes. There is reason to believe many of those weapons have since been used on Philippine soldiers.
and he points to nuances I’ve tried to point out, too, in terms of who we’re fighting and why those we’re fighting are fighting us:
The “old” Muslim question in the Philippines had to do with regional independence or relative autonomy for Mindanao and other Muslim majority or plurality islands in the predominantly Catholic country. The Moro insurgency of the Fifties was a nationalist guerrilla movement whose suppression raised unrealistic hopes for success in other countries and took the Philippines off the radar as a front-line of defense.
The new Muslim insurgencies have varied in their mixture of nationalism and contemporary jihadism. In purest form, the New Jihadist seeks to establish a multi-national caliphate stretching over several continents, an Islamiyah ruled with strict interpretations of Islamic law, relatively free of infidels. Under the contemporary formulation, this means that all of the Philippines (indeed the world) is fair game.
Still, returning to Ellen’s column, and the headlines (see RP braces for ‘retaliatory attacks’ over Sison’s arrest: Military on red alert), blogger New Philippine Revolution (who seems sympathetic to caudillo-ism) has an interesting take on things:
The arrest of CPP Founder Jose Maria Sison due to trumped up charges has doomed peace talks with the rebels. Possible effects would be escalation of armed confrontations between AFP and CPP-NPA. This development is worse than the Mindanao conflict.
For the next three years, peace will elude this administration. MILF said that they will not enter into a peace agreement with the government. It will only do so if the GRP accedes to ceding some territory to the rebels. Meanwhile, MNLF will definitely not enter into any pact for as long as GMA is there in the palace. The arrest of Sison dooms peace negotiations with the Reds.
In the next few years, GMA will become a war president. These wars in the North and the South will put a heavy strain in the economy.
To prevent the country from going down the drain, members of the elite will allow extra-constitutional measures to replace this administration with a caretaker government. One model is Thailand. The possibility of having a government like that of Thailand in the Philippines is very strong.
A good column by Bong Austero on the travails of Gawad Kalinga.
In the blogosphere, people are abuzz over whether a newspaper’s playing with matches after already having been doused with gasoline.
smoke got the ball rolling with a scan of a portion of The Manila Standard Today. This was independently verified by Freedom Watch, the official blog of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
Again, a note of caution: what has been proven is a notice was published, not why the notice was published, or what the notice was supposed to achieve. When I asked a colleague in the media familiar with newspaper operations about it, my colleague said it could be a production error. The newspaper may have a template used whenever a columnist fails to submit a column on time. My colleague also said it’s either that, or a good way to boost sales. People would go off to buy copies on the date mentioned, to see if the paper actually dared to run the column again.
Conclusions, then, might be premature until September 3, the supposed resumption of the column. However, in the absence of any official statement from the paper, speculation’s bound to be rife until then.
Until then, scrutiny of the issue, as provided by The Journal of the Jester-in-Exile and Bryanton Post is neither premature nor unproductive.
The inevitable gulf between professional writers and the public, I think, is best demonstrated by my rather liking publisher Babes Romualdez’s letter about his magazine’s stand on the issue, and the Jester’s dissatisfaction with it; let me point out, further, that Romualdez at least made a statement while the newspaper’s editors have kept silent up to now, and indeed, dodged the issue as I pointed out last August 24 (see the last few paragraphs of my entry).
However, if the potential for the re-escalation of the issue is fulfilled by the resumption of the column -which would also firmly lay the passions raised firmly at the feet of the paper and no longer the magazine- things would get possibly worse. After all, all the to-do about an apology and a resignation, would be proven either insincere, or merely a gambit: those arguing for moderation or a more nuanced approach would have been proven naive. Then we might have the media equivalent of a conversation Louis XVI supposedly had with a courtier, upon being told of the storming of the Bastille.
“Is it a revolt?” the king asked.
“No, Sire,” the response came. “It is a revolution.”
FYI department: Commissioner Sarmiento wrote to Ricky Carandang.
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