How justice failed

 

How justice failed?

Our situation is very precarious. People’s fear for their safety is becoming a paranoia. Insecurities and serious anxiety plague more and more people as abuses and excesses of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against drugs are spilling all over the country. With more than 13,000 deaths attributed to the anti-drug campaign, it has become scandalous for anyone to deny that something is wrong with the government’s efforts to eradicate crimes.
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Photo courtesy of Forum Philippines.
In spite of the heightened anti-criminality campaign, criminal elements continue to inspire fear in the hearts of ordinary people. Confounding the situation are the disgruntled elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who are out to execute suspected criminals in plain sight.
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Photo courtesy of facebook.com/acayanezra.

The recent controversial killing of a young drug suspect in Caloocan City by members of the PNP added to the record of abuses committed in the course of the government’s anti-drug campaign. A critic had accused the administration of adopting a policy of liquidation in its campaign because of the rampant killings connected with the campaign. She claimed that the pattern which the killings exhibited implies that there was a design to eliminate all those who are suspected of dealing with drugs. In other words, she is accusing the Duterte administration of committing a systematic and widespread attack on the civilian population believed to be complicit in the illegal drug trade.

President Rodrigo Duterte quickly denied the accusation. He lambasted his accuser and laughed off the accusation. Of course, it was logically that he made the denial. Had he failed to make the denial he would be giving his critics an important evidence with which to hale him to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.

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Photo courtesy of The Expat Angle.

Public perceptions on law and order are starting to galvanize on the idea that killings can be effective means to root out the criminal class. A new normal has begun to embed in our society. Soon this new normal will dismantle people’s moral and intellectual defenses against the rationality of the utilitarian ethics that the administration is propagating, that is: it’s okay to sacrifice the lives of one or ten or even hundreds and thousands for the greatest good of one hundred million people.

The dysfunctions of the criminal justice system are highly evident in its failure to put a stop on the killings and the abuses committed in the name of the war on drugs. Criminals, especially those who are masquerading as law enforcers, continue to discredit the police force and mock the rule of law. Sadly, none of the pillars of the criminal justice system possess the political will to demand accountability and prevent impunity for crimes.

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Illustration courtesy of Awesomely Luvvie.

Justice has failed. It failed the thousands who died in the anti-drug war because they were denied the chance to defend themselves before the court. It also failed the victims of crimes because their abusers died instantly without suffering what awaits them in prison.

Justice failed and it will continue to do so unless the innocents are protected from the abuses of those who govern in the name of law and order.

 

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Not just a pound of flesh

Not just a pound of flesh

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the closure of twenty-three (27) mining operations for indiscriminate mining and conducting operations in watershed areas. As expected, the mining firms protested the closure orders ascribing grave abuse of discretion on the DENR Secretary for her failure to afford them due process before proceeding with the suspension. The Chamber of Mines complained that while the orders were announced to the media, its members have yet to receive them from the DENR. It claimed that the announcement contradicts the overall economic plan for the country. According to the association, the orders are a “surprise, worrisome, and irresponsible” (see http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/599189/money/).

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Courtesy of the Asian Correspondent.com

Secretary Gina Lopez also ordered the cancellation of seventy-five (75) mining contracts. These cancellations effectively put across the message to mining firms that she will continue to clamp down their operations until they bow down to government regulations on the protection of the environment and the local communities.

The debates are far from over. Mining firms were reported to have exerted pressures on Malacanang and the Commission on Appointments, where Lopez’s appointment is pending confirmation, to stop her from hurting their businesses. It was reported later that certain Palace officials have cautioned her about the mining firms’ due process claim.

There is no doubt that mining has made our lives convenient. It provides us with many useful and wonderful things—from simple household and office tools to hard metals used in making equipment and erecting buildings for people and industries. Also, it is the source of government revenues needed to finance public infrastructures and programs. Thus, it is not easy to debunk the claim that mining is an important industry in the country today.

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Courtesy of Alyansa Tigil-Mina

However, all the good things that may be said about mining are discredited by its setbacks to people’s lives and the environment.

That mining destroys the environment is beyond dispute. What the DENR saw before the issuance of the closure orders were conclusive evidence of severe environmental degradation:  destroyed animal and human habitats, barren hills, flattened mountains, silted rivers, and spilled chemicals in farms and waterways.

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Courtesy of Globalriskinsights.com

That mining jeopardized people’s livelihood is too glaring to ignore. It turned timber and agricultural lands to wastelands. It caused severe flooding and landslides to lowland communities. It damaged fish sanctuaries and breeding places. It polluted the air and destroyed the watersheds.

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Mining has become a harbinger of death instead of becoming a beacon of hope.

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Courtesy of GMA News.com

Proverbially, mining is cutting away not only a pound of flesh from us. It is costing us our lives. Its destructive impacts on the environment have become irreversible already. And thus, its catastrophic effects will still be upon our heads even if we adopt a total mining ban from now on.

 

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Courtesy of Asian Correspondent.com

We are screwed!

We know it, and the mining firms are well aware of this.

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Courtesy of Inquirer.net

 

Accordingly, suspension orders are not enough to finally arrest the menace which continues to deplete our land of all its living force. People need justice, not a temporary respite from its pernicious effects.

 

Courtesy of GMA News

If justice is to be done, then, the hammer should fall heavily on those who committed crimes against humanity and nature. It requires the accountability of people behind these destructive mining activities. It decrees that they should be barred from continuing to ruin the lives of the present and future generations. Most importantly, it demands that they should all be put behind bars and stripped of the privileges that they acquired at the expense of the common good.

 

 

 

 

 

Et tu, Brute?

Et tu, Brute?

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Courtesy of http://likesuccess.com/img3839190

 

Even you, Brutus?” Julius Caesar had asked this of Brutus before falling to his death.

Brutus, a Roman senator whom Caesar considered a very close friend, struck the final thrust that sent him to the underworld. Caesar must have died, not of murderous wounds, but of a broken heart. He would have expected not his death but protection by Brutus’ blade.

Just like Julius Caesar, Brutus was consigned to Shakespeare’s pages ages ago; however, Brutus’ shadow  continues to live in the hearts of treacherous men. He goes by many names, and thus, he could not be known until it’s late. His looks may have changed through the years but his traits remain ubiquitous unto this day.

 

BRUTUS LIVES UNTO THIS DAY!

And even if you are not a Caesar, you can be sure that he would behave the way he did before in Rome.

Ambitious, he would discard old friendship for a chance to get a most sought-after position.  In a system where patronage and political expedience rule, merit and fitness are meaningless guides for determining the best choice.

Treacherous, he would kiss you in both cheeks but side with your enemy minutes after. This is a common among politicians. Chameleons and shape-shifters are the natural ornaments of Philippine politics. Desertion among allies is the general rule  and loyalty is not even an exception. Self-interest—economic or political—determines on which side of the equation the weight should fall.

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The mine site of the Claver Mineral Development Corp. operating Surigao del Norte. Photo courtesy of Sec. Lopez’s Facebook page. Courtesy of http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/02/14-large-scale-mining-firms-in-caraga-up-for-closure-sec-lopez/.

 

Greedy, he would take everything and leave nothing behind if opportunity presents itself. This is typical of leaders who care not if the future generations inherit nothing after aliens are allowed to exploit our natural resources.

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Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation. Narra and Española, Palawan (DENR Photo). Courtesy of https://www.pressreader.com/.

 

He uses euphemistic terms such as “deregulation”, “liberalization”, and “privatization” as sugar-coats for selling the economy and the national patrimony to aliens and big businesses. He subjugates public institutions to private interest in the guise of austerity and efficiency. He cheers for the coming of foreign investors while speculating on the profits that he will get from the open market. He preaches love for the poor wherever he goes but plunders whatever he can.

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Where the Lumad ceases to fight, the land dies. Mining i.n Caraga. Courtesy of https://indayvarona.com/category/environment/

 

Devious, he would wait for opportunity to snatch away your lunch box, and sometimes, even your girlfriend while you’re not looking.  He personifies the vilest of creatures. He sits beside you smiling, waiting for a chance to  take away your seat.

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Courtesy of http://likesuccess.com/img3839190

 

Remember, when somebody stabbed you from behind, try not to shriek in pain. Do not lose your poise. Do not even wonder what hits you. Recall that everything happens for a reason and treachery, well, it happens for the foulest of reasons. Face your assailant as a person of true grit. Remain calm and ask, “Et tu, brute?”

Nang nagmaganda si Tasya

Nang nagmaganda si Tasya

Sa panaginip ni Tasya, isa siya sa pinakamagandang dilag sa buong kalawakan. Isa lamang itong panaginip subalit buo ang kanyang pag-asa  na ito ay magiging makatotohanan. 

Tapos na ang pinakahihintay-hintay na paligsahan ng mga pinakamagagandang dilag sa buong kalawakan. Marami ang nag-abang sa muling pagsikat ng Pilipinas sa Ms. Universe Beauty Pageant.

Sa simula pa ay may pumupulso na sa magiging kapalaran ng kandidata ng Pilipinas. Noong una ay pinuna ang tila kakulangan niya sa paggamit ng wikang Ingles sa pakikipagtalastasan. Sabi nila, ito ay kahinaan niya kaya’t dapat siyang magbigay ng kanyang kasagutan sa tanong sa kanya sa wikang Pilipino. Halos isang buwan ang ginugol ng mass at social media sa bagay na ito. Sa bandang huli, siya pa rin ang nasunod kung papano sasagutin ang katanungan.

Siyempre, hindi inaasahan kung sino ang nanalo.

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Courtesy of https://www.missuniverse.com/

Miss Universe is…Ms. France! Irish Mittenaere!

“23 year old Iris Mittenaere was born North of France in a town called Lille. Mittenaere has kept herself busy the last 5 years by pursuing her degree in Dental Surgery. Besides dental school, Mittenaere has always been fond of extreme sports, travelling the world and cooking new French dishes. Fresh, funny and caring is how she would best describe herself. She enjoys making others happy, especially when volunteering at Bienvenue-Tongasoa and Les Bonnes Fées. Mittenaere is honored to be representing France in the upcoming Miss Universe competition. If she takes home the crown, she hopes to advocate for dental and oral hygiene.” (kopya mula sa  https://www.missuniverse.com/titleholder)

Pantasya! Sa dinadami ng kandidata sa paligsahan, isang dentista ang nagwagi. Dentista, isang propesyunal na naghahangad na isulong ang kalinisan at kalusugan ng bibig at ngipin! (ugh, mukhang hindi maganda ang translation, my apologies Ms. Universe).

Lahat yata ng tao nais makadaupang palad ang isang Ms. Universe. Sa lahat yata ng lugar, may mga tao na naghihintay ng pantasya na masilayan ang pinakamagandang dilag sa buong kalawakan.

Talagang pantasya!

Pero, ano ba talaga ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaroon ng isang paligsahan ng kagandahan at katalinuhan?

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Courtesy of http://www.gettyimages.com

Sinasabi na ang pagtatanghal ng paligsahan ay pagpupunyagi ng sangkababaihan. Ito’y simbolo ng kagalagakan at mataas na pagkilala sa katangian ng mga kababaihan sa buong mundo.

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Courtesy of http://www.gettyimages.com

Ang  Ms. Universe ay inaasahan maghahatid ng saya, pagkakaisa, at kapayapaan sa buong mundo. Bukod dito, sinasagisag niya ang maraming mithiin: kapaligiran, katarungan, paggalang, pagkakapantay-pantay, at marami pang iba. Ito ang dahilan kung kaya bago maganap ang paligsahan makikita ang mga kandidata na nagtatanim ng mga puno, nakikisalamuha sa mga dukha, nagbibigay ng pagkain sa mga tao, at marami pang gawain na ipinakikita sa medya.

 

Gayunman, mahirap iugnay ang paligsahan at ang mga kandidata dito sa tunay na pag-inog ng lipunan at ng mga taong dito ay nabibilang. Kailan ba naging mahalaga ang papel ng isang Ms. Universe sa pagpapaunlad ng buhay ng mga mahihirap at sa pag-aangat ng mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan? Tunay bang naaantig ang mga tao at nagkakaroon sila ng inspirasyon para pangalagaan ang kalikasan at iligtas ang mga batas sa peligro?

Pantasya! Ang mahumaling sa Ms. Universe ay isang pantasya para sa ating lahat. Ang maniwala na lahat ng babae ay maaaring maging prinsesa ay pabulang isinilid sa ating isipan ng mga kwentong isinalin sa pamamagitan ng mga pahina at mga kwentong bayan.

Sa mundong punung-puno ng kaguluhan, kasalatan, at polusyon, ang tunay na pagandahan ay sumasalamin sa pagkakaisang nagtataguyod ng kapayapaan, kasaganaan, at kalinisan ng kapaligiran.

At kung si Tasya at iba pang babae ay magmamaganda, marapat na magmaganda rin ang mundo nilang ginagalawan. Tanging sa ganito lamang tunay na magiging maganda ang isang dilag na kagaya niya. 

Calamities and Public Accountability

Calamities and Public Accountability
Calamities. We have them all in the Philippines. Natural and man-made disasters are risks that we confront every day. In spite of this, we never become immune from them. Calamities and disasters do not harden us or make us unfeeling entities. We  continue to fear them even if we try our best to accept that God wills them.
However, submissiveness to fate does not us less revolting to the helplessness accompanying our suffering. Ironically, suffering makes us more persevering.
Natural calamities do not happen because of witches’ curses. Likewise, nobody is born with natural magnetism for disasters. These phenomena have scientific  explanation. In fact, science of calamity has achieved such clarity that its explanation about the causes of natural disasters appears indubitable.
The presence of the government during calamities is very important. It brings hope to people. However, more than the goods that the government can mobilize  is the expectation of victims that their officials will help them rebuild their lives.
Calamities test the competence of public officials to govern. Great leaders go beyond the fragility of human nature and lead people calmly to recovery. Euphemistically, this is grace under pressure.
The earthquakes and typhoons that hit the southern Philippines  us to question the competence of the government in helping people survive.  Aside from compiling statistics of dead and injured people, what is the  government doing to allay the fear and anxiety of the survivors?  Do government officials show sensitivity to the plight of victims by shunning luxurious display of wealth and privileges?
We have heard the argument that the government cannot be blame for every misfortune of its citizens. There is no government on Earth that can prevent all bad things from happening. And most often, it is the people themselves who complicate their situation. Be this as it may, however, the argument is missing the point. On the contrary, people do not blame their government for failing to do those things which are beyond its capability. In truth, they are merely calling upon their officials to account for what is expected of them under the situation.
Questions of credibility and legitimacy always appear a political administration everytime it is perceived not to be doing enough for its people. When the ruling regime fails to translate its slogans to policies and programs, doubts as to  its right to continue its mandate to govern emerge. And when public officials continue with their reckless disregard of the public welfare, people begin to think of ways to uproot them from office.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Reposted from http://rcm0811.blogspot.com/
November 14, 2014, after Supertyphoon Yolanda transformed the Visayas into the Land of the Living Dead

Where have all the flowers gone?

This is a familiar tune. According to Wikipedia.com, Peter Seeger wrote the first three lines of the song in 1955. Joe Hickerson added the additional verses in 1960. Later, the song “Where Have all the Flowers Gone” has earned political undertones because of its indictment against wars.

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Courtesy of GMA Network

 

The flowers of the Visayas are gone. Strong winds and raging floods plucked them from the Visayan soil. No longer could young girls pick them up. They are gone. The good land that nourished them has become a desolate zombie land for those who are left breathing after the storm. And with the flowers gone, graveyards become a better sight than the open space which the tempest left behind.

 

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Courtesy of Youtube.com

Dead bodies are everywhere. Of course, the dead cannot bury the dead and so, they all lay bare in the streets. Breathing people walk but the paralysis that afflicted them is more than the rigor mortis in the faces of those who have died. Thus, nobody cares anymore to wash and bury their dead.

Statistics? The dead do not make them as only the living could make the count. Observers hinted that there are more than ten thousands while the government claimed that dead bodies are a couple of thousand only. But if the count is only about a thousand or two, then, why could not the government bury the dead with dispatch?

Where have all the young girls gone?

Young girls are missing. Make no mistake about it. Small women who survived are not young girls—at least, not anymore. Despair and hopelessness had robbed them of their innocence. They have aged in days. They could no longer dream of flowers and fairy tales. They no longer hope for fine boys to make them feel special. They could only think of food and water and of the dead in their families.

There they are—hungry and helpless—waiting for the sun to come and dry their tears. There they are—breathing, yet so dead in hope and smile. In their minds, they see a world that stands still in the middle of a void.

The typhoon has passed but the tragedy continues.

Calamity seems nothing compared to the blackness that ensued when the calm took over. Hopelessness is so pervasive that the victims felt that living seems less preferable to extinction. Help is so slow that people are driven to reckless despair and insanity. And authority is so absent that people thought that everything is free for the taking.

Indeed, the days that followed proved that people could weather any storm but not the incompetence of the officials that rule over them. They suffer because of their doing. The typhoon may have come from the remotest part of the world but the disaster that continues to destroy people’s lives has risen up from their collective will. This is the pestilence that kills the flower in the hearts of the young. This is the disease that dissipates the hope in the minds of the hopefuls. This is the disaster that people perpetrate despite of their power to end it. This is the tragedy upon us all.

When will we ever learn?