Seeing Red

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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Manuel L. Quezon III.

80 thoughts on “Seeing Red

  1. MST does not have to say they disagree with Malu either/ I think Babes Romualdez wimped when he did that for his magazine.

    Heck the gutsy paper would let the newstand decide.

  2. Abalos doing two girls in a day?

    Now I know what soup he ordered in Shang Palace.

  3. My prayer for Abalos,

    That you may always have good heatlh, that you will always have deals to make, and that you always have beautiful women who will whisper in your ear. “ANG GALING MO LOLO !”

  4. “More often than not, I decide when angry and make promises when happy. Just Kidding ! :)KG ”

    KG:You are such a fiery person! full of passion ,intensity at times fury.

    My suggestion,my friend, is to make a list of the ten things you really want to do before you die!”
    It can be partly motivational and partly escapist fantasy.But do it.

    I did one for the SeXy chairman of Comelec(see above)

  5. “Sir Benigno, correct me if I’m wrong but that’s exactly what the present administration is aiming to take advantage of. The way I see things, that is probably one of the best talents of the Arroyo and her henchmen – riding on “the slightest change in wind direction” to shift public attention from its own shenanigans”

    Karlo, precisely my point. Kaya nga let’s not be too quick to blame politicians for the chronic dysfunction of Pinoy society. Their behaviours and they themselves merely REFLECT the very nature of our society. 😉

    “The truth of the matter is political correctness is a bogus value. That’s the kind of value that encourages censorship. It’s what censors board is all about”

    manuelbuencamino, the truth is, Malu’s “insights” are routine topics for laughs over bottles of Coronas and roast beef dinners in Manila’s gated communities. Her only mistake is crossing the line and revealing the private chatter of the Philippine elite to the objects of these laughs.

    It’s hypocritical of the masses to find offense considering that movies made for them often unfairly stereotype rich folk as thieving opportunists.

    What goes around comes around.

    Malu Fernandez was simply a victim of her own lack of class. But it doesn’t change the simple fact that rich folk will always look upon the funny tastes of the masses with humorous condescension.

  6. Her only mistake is crossing the line and revealing the private chatter of the Philippine elite to the objects of these laughs.

    And for that she has my gratitude.

    If youre reading this, Ms Fernandez, from the bottom of my heart, merci beaucoup.

  7. ““I didn’t know I was that influential. I didn’t even know that I had the prowess to have two women,” Abalos said.”

    1)I disagree on this statement”“I didn’t know I was that influential”.

    We credit you for the election of the 12th senator from Maguindanao.

    2)Even your own wife will agree with you, superLolo@73:”I didnt’know I had prowess to have two women.”

  8. …the truth is, Malu’s “insights” are routine topics for laughs over bottles of Coronas and roast beef dinners in Manila’s gated communities. Her only mistake is crossing the line and revealing the private chatter of the Philippine elite to the objects of these laughs…Malu Fernandez was simply a victim of her own lack of class. But it doesn’t change the simple fact that rich folk will always look upon the funny tastes of the masses with humorous condescension. – Benign0

    I suspected as much, but thanks for confirming that. As Kiko would say, ‘noted’.

  9. On military being bantay salakay(extra judicial..).

    Kahit na sina sabi ko na I was born and I grew up inside a military camp, di ko naman masasabi na di tutuo ang mga claims ng marami.

    Di naman ako all praises na sobrang linis nila at tama lang na mahuli na itong si Joma para matapos na.

    Di pa tapos ang boksing,presidents will come and go,we will still face the same problem,unless we do something about it of course.

    Not by setting a 2010 deadline to end insurgencies,we all know that is BS.

    Revolution,then what?

    kahit na yung madalas kung pinapansin na si benign0 nakakuha sya ng contributor na mag bigay ng suggestion for a roadmap for a better future,and a solutions framwework,yun nga lang sobra naman yatang pinoy bashing;who ever told him that it would work,that way?,must be out of his mind.

    There are many young bloggers here,your mindsets might change ten years from now,but I hope you still continue to love your country.

    Me nagsasabi na di pa masyadong accessible ang blogs,and the Internet.You young guys will blog on,and pray that we have a braodband connection all over through ZTE (joke!)

  10. Two women a day is nothing for a man who can screw millions of voters at a time.

  11. Jeg, naunahan mo nanaman ako. 🙂 Anyway, i believe that Malu Fernandez is more useful prescisely for that purpose which is why it does not make sense to shut her up. Political correctness only helps those in power. Dapat magkaalaman na.

  12. “Two women a day is nothing for a man who can screw millions of voters at a time.Manuel Buencamino”

    He has come a long way from his younger days.

    I vividly remember” hingi ng hingi lang ng complimentary PBA tickets si Abalos noong Judge pa iyan” .

    How times have changed! Two women in one night in china.But I doubt if they could still bring some hard feelings for super Lolo @ 73.. try viagra con Garci.Worked in Maguindanao!

  13. cvj, Carlos Celdran (who is slowly but surely becoming my hero) has a new post in his blog about the Malu thing that just confirms that this is indeed how a lot of the elite think.

  14. Karl, i don’t think Benign0 can help his pinoy-bashing. He is from that section of the Philippine elite and that is a product of his upbringing. He considers himself part of the top 0.1 percent of Filipino Society and he is just looking down at the rest from there. I read that one of the recommendations of his ‘Get Real’ group (from a certain Manuel Gallego III) is ‘Compulsory sterilization and elimination of voting rights of parents of street children.‘. I think you also came across that one in your back-readings.

  15. Wow, thanks for the pointer Jeg! Celdran did us a service by writing that candid post. As for his remark that Malu “[took] the bullet for everyone”, I always suspected that this part of Malu’s apology was the clincher:

    …I take full responsibility for my actions and my friends and family have nothing to do with this…

    With time, it’s becoming more and more clear that her friends and family have been complicit all along.

  16. If memory serves, PDI itself didnt publish an apology. Nor did they need to, IMO. – jeg

    After allowing Manolo and Justice Cruz some “skirmishes,” PDI published an editorial that put an end to the issue. They didn’t apologise, they didn’t side with either columnist. They also published readers’ reactions from all sides.

    Karl, i don’t think Benign0 can help his pinoy-bashing. He is from that section of the Philippine elite and that is a product of his upbringing. -cvj

    That explains a lot.

  17. Wow, MB, that was a mouthful about DJB. All I can say is, “Serves him right!”

    So, after all his swanking about his having a reason to live for, turns out he does not really know what it is he wants to live for. First, it was communism. Now, it’s neoconservatism. What next? Islamic jihadism?

    No wonder, he admires your consistency.

  18. mlq3, yup it’s getting decent media coverage. And the Philippine ambassador is on top of the situation and consulting closely with the immigration minister here. He’s doing his job.

  19. DJB and manuelbuencamino, the next time you two go out for a beer, let us know what time and where. I’d like to reserve an adjacent table. Your conversation would be way better than TV.

  20. mlq3, speaking of which the minister here did say that there were proper channels in place to report the alleged abuses and hold the employers accountable. I think what was really needed, in the first place, was some kind of campaign to create awareness among all migrant workers that such channels exist (there were also reports of abuse against Indian and Singaporean — Singaporean, would you believe! — migrant workers).

    Furthermore, even before all this, abuse in the workplace has been an issue here already (for locals) for some time (though not lately because of low unemployment). The important thing is that they are highlighted and dealt with fairly.

  21. MMMMM…Im starting to like what Manuel Buencamino has been writing lately . Especially his reply to DJB about ideology.

    I just don’t belive that there is such a thing as bogus value…

  22. “The issue about Malu is political correctness. She wrote something politically incorrect.”

    Most cases of political incorrectness are accidental. She was defaming Filipino foreign workers.

  23. “After allowing Manolo and Justice Cruz some “skirmishes,” PDI published an editorial that put an end to the issue. They didn’t apologise, they didn’t side with either columnist. They also published readers’ reactions from all sides.”

    Isagani Cruz was politically incorrect but he never defamed. Just wrote over-jubilantly of “his macho past”

  24. “I read that one of the recommendations of his ‘Get Real’ group (from a certain Manuel Gallego III) is ‘Compulsory sterilization and elimination of voting rights of parents of street children.‘. I think you also came across that one in your back-readings.”

    Yeah, CVJ, I saw that one on Torn & Frayed’s blog

  25. ‘Compulsory sterilization and elimination of voting rights of parents of street children.‘

    scareeee. what next? ethnic cleansing?

  26. mlq3, going back to the issue raised by escudero, that an alleged “wiretapped” material must first be demonstrated to be a product of illegal wiretapping before its possessor, disseminator or reproducer may be held liable under the law, i think the problem is more apparent than real.

    when doble (a sane man, i presume), voluntarily produces a tape, declares under oath that it contains conversations he personally wiretapped without lawful authorization, make copies of it and distribute them to other people, he makes a direct confession that he committed the elements of the punishable act. doble’s voluntary confession, made under circumstances free from any constitutional challenge, and supported by the corpus delicti (the tape) is, the best evidence of his culpability. i don’t think there is any legal need or purpose to examine the contents of the tape (and thereby circumvent the very purpose of the statute)on the pretext of ascertaining whether or not the tape is “authentic” or “spliced”.

    the first essential fact that the illegal wiretapping act was committed has been established. the product of the act, i.e. the “original” tape has been presented. whether or not this tape is authentic or spliced is of no moment since it cannot negate the commission of the prohibited act. a tape, once made, can be easily copied, dubbed or spliced, but assuming that the senate has the technical ability to ascertain the genuineness of the tape, would its finding that the tape they were examining was spliced preclude the existence of a ‘genuine’ wiretapped tape? and would that finding prevent the prosecution of doble and all others who violated the statute? I would think not.

    under the express provisions of the law, the illegally wiretapped tape cannot be used for any purpose in any forum. i think the privacy interest of citizens sought to be safeguarded by this law cannot be outweighed by a claimed political interest of a certain portion of the population. to hold otherwise would open the door for unbridled and abusive exercise of governmental power , motivated by partisan considerations, in disregard of individual rights of citizens.

  27. Setting the murderers free

    Let me talk about Jose Maria Sison and his alleged ordering of the murder of his two former comrades (amongst others).

    That while the Dutch court cannot find any sufficient evidence on the supposed hand of the current NDF/CPP/NPA “adviser” it has also yet to put into light the developments of other countries in terms of putting to justice revolutionary movements who have maimed, tortured and murdered innocent civilians as well as former allies.

    One only has to look at the history of Africa and their successful campaign against criminals with a number of human rights abuses.

    The question should be the nature of the organization, the factual as well as coincidental evidences that supports the prosecutions claim.

    For one the nature of the CPP-NPA: it is an underground organization where its members do not use their true names, they use aliases instead. They also do not recognize the rule of law such that they have their own form of justice calling it the “peoples court” where most of their proceedings mostly left unchecked from public scrutiny therefore leaving the hapless suspect at the mercy of them “prosecutors/justices/executioners”.

    There is no power of appeal when one is found guilty and as much as other countries have banned the use of the death penalty, the CPP-NPA always address the guilty ones on its usual deadly manner–by murder.

    Given the above definition of the nature of the organization it is therefore close to impossible to determine the hand of Jose Maria Sison in the murder charges filed against him, as well as his involvement to the massive purges of the 1980’s.

    This has been a major problem ever since with the Non-Government Organization Peace Advocates for Truth, Justice and Healing (PATH), the NGO is a group of survivors, victims and members of families of the massive purges carried out in the 80’s by the CPP-NPA. This massive witch-hunt allegedly victimized at least 3,000 cadres and killed a score of 2,000 suspected infiltrators in the NPA. PATH to this day aims to search and excavate the remains of the victims and bring them back to their families.

    This problem lies henceforth in the whole bureaucracy of the CPP-NPA-NDF leadership because there are no available point person to be made accountable unless it is the whole organization and they can always cower at the defense that they are a revolutionary movement at the same time make use of human rights as a form of shield against the military.

    Jose Maria Sison and the CPP-NPA has been successful therefore in annihilating anybody under its flags of revolutionary advocacy. The organization can admit to almost anything while it cannot be prosecuted or otherwise be made accountable.

    While Jose Maria Sison may be free for now it bids darkly for the organization as its victims remains searching for justice. And as long as the CPP-NPA continues its indiscriminate killings it will eventually loose its credibility as well as its supporters.

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