Marcos in retrospect

Problems continue with the comments database of this blog. So sorry.

My Arab News column for this week is Marcos in Retrospect. In his blog, Versimiltude reflects on a quotation I presented in yesterday’s entry.

Some shrewd and biting commentary on candidates and their methods. See Jove Francisco for an eyewitness account of the administration rallies and campaign strategy (this is a marvelous entry to be sure); and Manuel Buencamino takes a satirical look (but based on actual quotes) of the messaging of the administration. Ellen Tordesillas examines the “millions of reasons” candidates are being given by various camps. has begun a series of podcasts with interviews of senatorial candidates: you can listen to Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero. You can also listen to Aquilino Pimentel III. The value added portion is that eventually, the CVs of candidates and transcripts will be published online, too: see the first, of the Pimentel interview, with parts one, two, and three.

Amando Doronila thinks the Senate’s role as training ground for presidents is waning, waning… But I’m not entirely convinced (though I recall my father telling me it would be more rational to consider governorships as training grounds: almost as many governors have become presidents as lawmakers, many having been both).

On the anti terrorism bill, recently passed, I have to deeply disagree with Philippine Commentary. Today’s Inquirer editorial takes a skeptical position about the soon-to-be law.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

48 thoughts on “Marcos in retrospect

  1. Hello Manolo,

    This is not about Ellen’s story, but you might want to know how low Ellen thinks of many members of One Voice who fought the so called “People’s Initiative”.

    Low enough to consider many members as fake in the fight. Since she has not named her exceptions; I reckon she’s including you.

  2. jus-league…. kindling a fight?

    As my great great-grandfather said to me before,
    SMILE !! In disunity, there is noise!!!!

  3. Well I did enter the idea that he might want to know. If he doesn’t want to know that, it’s ok too.

    In the same way that people wanted to know what Justice Isagani Cruz said AFTER Justice Cruz said it.

  4. justice league, ellen is certainly entitled to her opinion, though personally to me she has always shown every courtesy and consideration possible.

  5. Manuel, good to see we’re back in business! Let the comments come…

    Yes, I have to agree, the anti-terror bill should definitely be scrutinized in light of the ambiguities and vagueness which is included in the bill itself.

  6. We need a comparison of an anti-terror bill from another country. Preferably a lenient one coz we already can surmise how it is in a strict one.

    Does switzerland have an anti-terror bill?

  7. First define terrorism and terrorists. When we know exactly what we are talking about, we can begin making comparisons.

  8. justice league… better if the kibitzing by the general population to happen during the deliberations way before a law is passed.

    Even better (in a republican government) for the general population to deliberate really deliberately and elect the lawmakers who create the laws that represent the desires of the population.

    As for Switzerland… a rifle in every house is their motto! Sig 550, to boot, and ammunition is subsidized by the government.

  9. Europeans think the greatest threat to global peace is the U.S. I do too. With that one in mind, we can begin to define “terrorism.”

  10. MB,

    I used to live in Northern Ireland and once in a while, Europa, a hotel in the center of Belfast used to be blown up by IRA and their provisional army.

    These same men, terrorists of the worst degree are now legally, part and parcel of the Northern Irish establishment. Recently the same Northern Irish terrorists have sworn to help the N Irish police police Belfast – tee hee!

    Of course, one of the greatest terrorists of all time is President Nelson Mandela.

    Margaret Thatcher, one of the few European leaders of her time to openly support apartheid in South Africa and one who refused to boycott the apartheid regime there, labeled Mandela a terrorist so much so that a few months ago, David Cameron, leader of the Tory Party made a public apology on behalf of his party for the harshness of the British government under Thatcher in dealing with terrorist Mandela.

    Of course, the other terrorist and clearly labeled as such for a long long time is Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe who’s brought former Rhodesia, one of the richest nations in that part of the world, with the highest standard of living and the bread basin of the region, to extreme poverty through corruption and state-sponsored terrorism. OK, he’s bought himself a kind of protective mantle when he became president but to me, he’s still a terrorist.

    And if we look back, Menahem Begin’s record in the British archives (I believe in the UN too) states categorically that he was a TERRORIST. He rose to become PM of Israel, shaking hands with another so-called terrorist, Arafat of Palestine.

    Given the above examples, I wonder if we can not in fact, classify Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who (and not by a long shot) a terrorist although she uses the tools of state to sponsor her brand of terrorism.

  11. Hang on, UP Student,

    Re: “As for Switzerland… a rifle in every house is their motto! Sig 550, to boot, and ammunition is subsidized by the government.”

    Of course, they have their little war gadgets with them at home because the members of the Swiss Army have a training of some kind every so often as part of their military service. The draftees – military service is compulsory in Switzerland – keep their war equipment with them. They are not supposed to go prancing around “hunting” or being trigger happy in the neighbourhood with their war paraphernalia outside army training period.

  12. sabi nung mga defender ng anti-terrorism bill, baka daw napigilan ang Valentine’s Day bombing kung may anti-terrorism bill. ang tanong, how could having such a bill have stopped the said bombing? it was a failure of intelligence, not a failure of legislation! kahit may anti-terrorism bill na noon, matutuloy pa rin yung pagbobomba because the authorities did not even know that such a plot was taking place.

  13. UPN student,

    Well the House did pass this during a “special session” and there wasn’t exactly a “blow by blow” account of it’s previous deliberations.

    Switzerland with a rifle in every house? Geez, I should have probably referred to it as liberal instead of lenient! And too liberal at that!

  14. the full text of the law is up in the pcij blog. i’ll be posting it tomorrow, too. the closer i read the law, the more i think that it may be a neoconservative’s wet dream, but if you don’t buy into the bush style of apocalyptic war, there’s no way you can buy into this particular piece of legislation.

  15. UpN student,

    Well in Sulu, Basilan and Moro Mindanaw, a rifle in every home is a reality. At least in this little part of our country we can say we are at par with Switzerland.

    The police earlier arrested one of the bombers of LRT but was released because he was able to post bail immediately since he was charged with lower offense of illegal possession of explosives. If the country had the anti-terrorism law then, this hideous bombings could have been prevented. No thanks to idiotic Senator Jamby Madrigal saying there is no terrorist in the country. The leftist party list are up in arms against this law because their comrades in the underground is the natural target of this law.

  16. MLQ3,

    “the closer i read the law, the more i think that it may be a neoconservative’s wet dream,”

    A dictator’s wet dream retold in neoconservative language.

    Precisely. The definition of terrorism and terrorist will always be subjective.

    And here’s something that should make everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

    Ermita said one of the important features of the Human Security Act of 2007 is the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Council to be chaired by himself and Raul Gonzalez as vice chairman.

    Other members of the council are:
    Ronaldo Puno, the Secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),
    Hermogenes Ebdane, Department of National Defense (DND),
    Norberto Gomzalez, National Security Adviser
    Alberto Romulo, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA),
    Margarito Teves, Department of Finance (DOF).

    Just the kind of people we want, right?

  17. As per Wolverine (of X-Men fame): “Terrorists? That’s what the big army calls the little army!

  18. Bush said, ‘You’re either with me or against me’ or something similarly moronic.

    Had he had his way, he would’ve probably labeled simple folks who aren’t with him ‘terrorists’ while those who are with him, well, don’t know… ‘democrats’ perhaps, as in democratic?

    Kinda silly.

  19. Pretty sure that when Bush’s term is over, his goose will be cooked too, a la Rumsfeld who can’t step into the EU for fear that he would be arrested. He’s facing charges in court – GERMAN COURTS all that’s very legal, for war crimes.

    Won’t surprise me if some folks here call Bush a terrorist to his face.

  20. It appears that a child-pornographer is better off getting arrested under the “Human Security Act of 2007” than any other Philippine Law. Once the authorities tag the arrest as “anti-terror”, a lot of automatic provisions kick in that tie up the State’s hands. The P500-thou per day of wrongful detention is a nice reward, too!!!
    What it says is that a blogger-enemy-of-Ebdane or -Ermita will probably get arrested under some other guise, like LIBEL, maybe? Wait… the Arroyos have a claim on that tack already.

  21. The whole history of government shows that public affairs would be better administered and the welfare of the people better subserved in the hands of a moral and intellectual aristocracy. The people cannot be governors and governed at the same time… On the other hand, a good and efficient government, a benevolent government, may exist and continue indefinitely to function with admirable harmony, when men of superior moral and intellectual endowments are in control of the state.

    There are difficult challenges to J. P. Laurel’s “moral and intellectual aristocracy”. First, should such a regime be created now, who would constitute the first anointed ones? Second, if the aristocracy pretends to be not sovereign, who is? And who sets the boundaries of powers? Next, who would anoint the next in line and under what objective criteria other than such vague and intangible “moral and intellectual endowments”? Finally, what happens if the chosen ones turn out to be amoral and unwise, who will tell the fun is over so that the time has come to cut?

    Indeed, in retrospect, the best argument against Laurel’s utopia is his protégée, Marcos himself. Facing constitutional term limit, President Marcos has decided he was the anointed one. To keep the appearance of a constitutional order, he drew up a charter yet so full of loopholes as a Swiss cheese it permitted him to anoint his heir apparent, with or without morals or talent, in lieu of a constitutional succession. As the regime descended into conjugal oligarchy and absolute power corrupted absolutely, none of the 50 million Filipinos during Marcos’ time showed the mettle to keep the oligarchy in line or tell Marcos “to cut and cut cleanly” – save perhaps J.P. Laurel’s own son (The story goes the late senator and vice-president Doy Laurel challenged Marcos to a bareknuckle duel to settle the issue but it took a U.S. senator, Richard Lugar, to say those words nicely).

    Reacting to Manolo, Washington Sycip and Randy David I have posted an entry stating in part:

    In a large-scale democracy of 85 million people like the Philippines democratic governance can only happen through representation. And government by representation or republicanism, as now called, is deemed to exist if at a minimum the average citizens retain a firm measure of control over their elected representatives. This control process is made possible through free, honest and frequent elections.

    It is therefore of the essence of democracy that adult citizens – whether they are movie actors, basketball stars, news anchorpersons, world champion boxers or fledgling politicos and lawyers, economists, political scientists, industrialists or trapos – should be presumed as sufficiently well capable to vie for public office or participate in the democratic process of governing the state. A political governance system that holds or practices a contrary ideal is non-democratic.

    x x x

    According to democracy scholar Robert Dahl, the historical evidence is overwhelming attesting to the fact that the interests of those who are denied to participate in governance will not be advanced by those who govern. Who will speak up for you or your group, Dahl asks, if you are denied your voice or excluded from participation?

  22. “Anticipatory self-defense with unstated bounds.” Chomsky

    “The ideas of economist’s and political philosopher’s, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are 25 or 30 years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But sooner or later, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good and evil…” John Maynard Keynes.

    Definition of enemy combatant killed in an encounter by the Philippine military as reported by Alstom.

    ’47 bullet wounds in a mans body shot while sleeping beside his wife and kids.’

    Investigating Palparan’s role in extra judicial killings –
    Esperon calling him up three times to confirm no such things are happening.

    The author of the Philippine Commentary makes an analogy of the RICO act vs. organized crime with the Human Security Act of 2007 vs. terrorists. To his credit he said he had not read the Human Security Act. It is obvious he has not also read the RICO Act. It appears he missed the point by an eternity.

    The RICO Act is reactionary or after the fact of major crimes being committed over an extended period. Then it applies.

    Terrorism which is a tactic is now a crime. The major revolutionary part of this law in the country is it removes the idea of the separation of powers of the three separate but equal branches of government which is vital to the protection of individual rights vs. the state where rights are sacrosanct in the constitution. (Not the executive)

    It is the executive department that will order the arrest without judicial permission. After three days the accused will have to be brought before a judge but prior to that the executive through the AMC whose secretariat is the NICA can order the arrest and detention of an individual. Remember that the clock starts when the police and military announce they have an individual in custody.

    Unfortunately a lot of things can happen between the time you are actually picked up and actually announced to be in custody. Small things like killed while trying to evade arrest, simply disappearing, or being brought out only after confessing to a conspiracy. Case in point – the murder charge vs. Vice Gov. Recto in Batangas. Renegade military forces recaptured and next thing you know they confess to being part of a plot to kill a governor.

    Remember that when this happens you are kept in jail without bail now on charge of terrorism.

    Plan a rally to seek reddress and they could order a pre-emptive arrest on trying to cause instability to cause fear.

    Unfortunately those who say that this will be against those ideological groups intent on bringing down the government. Unfortunately the people making these decisions are probably themselves already slaves to an opposing ideology. Remember that Austrian who wanted to civilize the world by ridding it of inferior species. Now the enemy has been branded the evil uncivilized Islamos in the cause of saving Western civilization or what is know as the “white man’s way.”

    Bush’s case is all to clear. Read through the blog of the Philippine Commentary and you will understand the ideology behind his writings. His reaction to the incidents in Mindanao are telling. Bomb them or nuke them. Do not pay ransom.

    Today Japan is pissed off at the Americans because they paid ransom to the nuclear blackmail of North Korea. Vaporizing thousands actually is painless. Those that survive though would wish themselve dead. Why did’nt the U.S. simply wipe N. Korea off the map. The effect of that would have probably started a war in our part of the world.

    We have to remember that genocide was politically correct until that Austrian went to far in industrializing genocide with commercial applications. Hair, gold teeth, ashes clothes and human experimentation on live subjects for the pharmaceutical industry.

    Now we only let less civilized peoples get away with it in Africa. In todays conflicts body counts are not PC. (political correct)

    The U.S. today has re-occupied Bhagdad. You cannot colonize until you completely overwhelm the other side with massive military force.

    Afghanistan remains to be a problem. The Muslim insurgency is spreading all over. But we are a predominantly Christian country.

    What gives?????????

    Why do we make war on our own people?

  23. There are difficult challenges to J. P. Laurel’s “moral and intellectual aristocracy”.

    But are those challenges worth meeting? Or do we just accept the amoral and unintellectual aristocracy that’s ruling over us now in Congress, Malakanyang, and in the provincial, town, and city halls by default?

  24. Jeg, the concept of having an aristocracy is the one that is problematic, not the moral/amoral or intellectual/unintellectual attributes. That notion, along with the sense of entitlement that comes with it, is something we need to banish from our culture.

  25. hvrds questions : “What gives????????? Why do we make war on our own people?”

    An answer comes to mind. It is the duty of the State to protect its citizenry against those who wish (or worst, who may have already committed) acts of violence like a bomb on SuperFerry14, or the more frequent bombings of markets in Mindanao.

  26. UPn Student, and while the State is carrying out such ‘duties’, what is its responsibility with regards collateral damage resulting from such an act of war?

  27. cvj… it is the responsibility of the State’s agents to fulfill the duties and roles assigned to them (the agents) by the lawmakers and appointed decision-makers (at the Executive Branch) who take their mandate from the people who elected them to their offices.

    AND… it is the duty of the general population (the media in particular) and the Legislative Branch to shed light on transgressions by the Executive Branch, and then the duty of the Judicial Branch to vet whether or not the incidents reported to it by the media & legislative branch are indeed violations of the Constitution.

  28. And in due time, another round of elections come, and the people boot out the representatives of government whose actions they disapprove of, and elect in the candidates whose (promises of) actions they approve of.

  29. And in between elections as necessary, IMPEACHMENT (as well as criminal cases) may be needed to boot transgressors at the EXECUTIVE, JUDICIAL and LEGISLATIVE branches.

  30. Jeg, the concept of having an aristocracy is the one that is problematic, not the moral/amoral or intellectual/unintellectual attributes. That notion, along with the sense of entitlement that comes with it, is something we need to banish from our culture.

    That is sort of my point. We already have an aristocracy. That’s why it’s always the same names or the same families dominating politics. This is clearly seen especially in the local level. A choice therefore between a moral-intellectual aristocracy and an amoral-unintellectual aristocracy is a no-brainer. Although I agree that the term aristocracy is probably a poor choice of words for President Laurel. Perhaps he wanted a meritocracy based on morals and intellect.

  31. UPn Student, thanks for that but i was asking you in particular about who takes responsibility for collateral damage that results from the government’s war. For example, in Iraq, this adds up to hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

    Jeg, choice of words aside, i think President Laurel is afraid of the consequences of having a genuine democracy, which is the rule of all by all. This has always been the tension between liberalism and democracy. Laurel prefered government in the hands of ‘experts’ which as Abe Margallo has pointed out in his comment above, does not even meet the criteria of a minimal democracy and, according to Robert Dahl, has been proven to be inimical to the interests of those who are disenfranchised.

    The assumption of equality among adults is inviolable.

  32. This has always been the tension between liberalism and democracy.

    I see it more as a tension between direct democracy and representative democracy because democracy is a given: it’s what we want and we dont want anything else. As a libertarian, I’d much prefer direct democracy, but being in a country of 85 million, I see representative democracy as a necessary evil–and what an evil it turned out to be in our case. What we have is neither representative nor a democracy, where the artistocracy uses the system and the weakness of the electorate vis-a-vis their power to their selfish ends. What president Laurel was afraid of I gather is not genuine direct democracy, but a fake representative democracy run by an amoral and unintellectual aristocracy–what we have now. A moral and intellectual aristocracy is needed to thwart them, which is why I think the challenges Abe Margallo outlined are worth meeting, else we’re stuck with the aristocracy we have now.

  33. cvj… first, the immediate family, and then it is the State’s responsibility to bury its dead. This was the case with regards the intentional “collateral damage” of SuperFerry14 bombing. Of course,there may be occasions where, per World Health Organization guidelines (in order to prevent the spread of contagious disease) the State may have to bury the dead sooner without waiting for rites and other practices normally desired by family traditions.

    [On this topic, the Philippines (and the entire world) so far has been doing well in regards the next flu pandemic.]

  34. And on another matter….
    Has de Quiros asked that the names of the SuperFerry14 bombing be remembered for all eternity? I still remember him (de Quiros) so incensed at the way the US-of-A citizens had reacted so impassionately in remembering the names of the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.

  35. I see it more as a tension between direct democracy and representative democracy…As a libertarian, I’d much prefer direct democracy, but…I see representative democracy as a necessary evil – Jeg

    Your line of thinking is more or less what the United States’ founding fathers went through. Since the earliest model of democracy from Greece was of the direct variety, they felt the need to innovate and come up with the representative variant that would scale up to suit the needs of the then 13 colonies turned states. (Also, a number of the Founding Fathers, like James Madison feared the consequences of direct democracy.) Since then, the representative model of democracy has proven successful to the extent that people equate representative democracy with democracy itself, and are unaware that there is such a thing as direct democracy.

    What president Laurel was afraid of I gather is not genuine direct democracy, but a fake representative democracy run by an amoral and unintellectual aristocracy–what we have now.

    You think so? But how does that fit in with Laurel’s statement that “The people cannot be governors and governed at the same time.” Sounds to me that he was trying to set apart the common people from those who govern, i.e. the moral and intellectual aristocracy . I also suspect that ‘amorality’ was *not* his focus since this was not yet a problem in 1943 when the Third Republic under the Japanese was inaugurated. The widespread moral degradation was yet to come the at tail-end of the Japanese occupation.

    A moral and intellectual aristocracy is needed to thwart them, which is why I think the challenges Abe Margallo outlined are worth meeting, else we’re stuck with the aristocracy we have now.

    It would be good if we can do that, but we should not stop there. I think that the concept of a representative democracy is reaching its limits. We should develop the elements of direct democracy which will help us get closer to the democratic ideal of the rule of all by all. For a start, this means direct engagement of ordinary citizens in the public sphere as individuals or members of NGO’s. This also means more frequent plebiscites, allowing for mass actions which includes the possibility of People Power. Fortunately, all of these are, to varying extents, compatible with the Filipino psyche.

    UPn Student, i think it is understood that the dead that you mention in the Superferry bombings are victims of a terrorist act, and are not collateral damage. Collateral damage are the civilians who are caught in the crossfire of the government’s war. Who is going to be responsible for this group of people?

  36. as cold as it sounds, I think certain people really need to go to streamline the system. If we don’t need to run over the blocks, we might as well eliminate them before they manage to pile up on our future path.

  37. cvj… on deaths from military operations (be they collateral damage or the combatants)… responsibility lies first, with the immediate family of the dead, and then it is the State’s responsibility.

  38. benj, UPn Student, given your statements above, would you then be in agreement with what Palparan said (as quoted in the Melo report)?

    “My order to my soldiers is that, if they are certain that there are armed rebels in the house or yard, shoot them. It will just be too bad if civilians are killed in the process. We are sorry if you are killed in the crossfire.”

    “There would be some collateral damage, but it will be short and tolerable. The enemy would blow it up as a massive violation of human rights. But to me, it would just be necessary incidents.”

    “Sorry na lang kung may madamay na civilian. The deaths of civilians and local officials were ‘small sacrifices’ brought about by the military’s anti-insurgency campaign.”

  39. The better strategy seems to be from Major General Mohamad Benjamin Dolorfino — the government should pay P50,000 per armed rebel that is killed.

    But then again, Major General Mohamad Benjamin Dolorfino himself is wrong. The P50,000-per should NOT be for the enemy, but for for the innocent civilian who is killed. But this will require changes in the curriculum at Baguio-PMA since P50,000 per civilian “..killed in crossfire” is cheaper than P500,000-per-day stipulation in the Anti-Terror Bill.

  40. UPn Student, you previously commented that the worth of a human life is 50 million pesos (courtesy of the law against plunder). Now you’re proposing compensation of 50 thousand pesos for those killed in a cross-fire. That’s quite a drop. Is there a sale or do you value different Filipino lives differently? If the latter, what’s your criteria for assigning the different values?

  41. I did not make up the P50K number, it is from the from Major General Mohamad Benjamin Dolorfino experience. And the P50K was for a combatant, so should the number imputed to a civilian be higher or lower?

    On the same topic, was there any outcry from anyone to at minimum provide financial aid to the immediate family of those who perished from the SuperFerry14 terrorist attack? I do recall that there was assistance provided to the immediately family of those who perished from the Wowowee stampede.

  42. cvj… I know that the Philippine government has no formal policy on how much to determine when to pay and what is reasonable compensation when civilians are killed while the Philippine military was involved in a military skirmish with the rebels. You should document your proposal and then send it to Enrile and Trillanes so they can reword the proposal into a bill, then work for the bill to become law.

  43. UPn Student, i’ll leave you to recommend the amount since you’re the one who considers the above as a ‘better strategy’. Personally, i believe it’s more important to avoid war so as to eliminate collateral damage in the first place.

    On the SuperFerry bombing, I don’t think there was an outcry because the Arroyo government did not reveal that it was a terrorist attack until several months after the event. Definitely assistance should have been provided to the victims.

  44. cvj: You think so? But how does that fit in with Laurel’s statement that “The people cannot be governors and governed at the same time.”

    Nah. That was just me trying to inject my thoughts into President Laurel’s brain. Maybe when he said ‘aristocracy’ that’s exactly what he meant. 😀

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