Hello world!

doy1

I shall be writing topics as it comes to mind. It could be topics, past or present, but relative to the times. I shall also be reacting to articles published, whether domestic or foreign, and voicing my opinion. My views shall always be objective.

Every now and then I shall also be sharing with you videos, photos, sayings and graphics of people, animals, places, etc., that I find interesting, which I hope you will appreciate.

Also, there are times when I will be posting articles about facts – why it happened that way or what could have been if something else happened.

I welcome you to my blog site and I look forward to inter-acting with you. Your participation, your thoughts and commentaries, either for or against, will be very much appreciated. We may have differences in opinion but that is the essence of being rational, to be able to agree to disagree. It is my aim that as we go along we enlighten not only ourselves but also those that finds the opportunity/chance to visit this site. Let us enrich each other in knowledge and build each other up in friendship. Thank you. Jesus Sievert a.k.a  Quierosaber

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¡Hola mundo!

Escribiré temas como estos vienen a la mente. Esto podría ser temas, pasadas o presentes, pero con relación a los tiempos. También reaccionaré a artículos publicados, doméstico o extranjero, y expresaré mi opinión. Mis vistas siempre serán objetivo.

De vez en cuando también compartiré con ustedes vídeos, fotos, refranes y gráficos de la gente, animales, lugares, etc., que encuentro interesante y espero que lo aprecian.

También, hay tiempos cuando fijaré artículos sobre hechos – por qué pasó así o lo que podría haber sido si algo más pasara.

Bienvenidos a mi sitio de blog y espero colaborar con Vd. en el futuro.

Su participación, sus pensamientos y comentarios, para o contra, serán muy apreciados. Podemos tener diferencias en la opinión pero eso es la esencia de ser racional, ser capaz de consentir en discrepar. Esto es mi objetivo que como continuamos, aclaramos no sólo nosotros mismos sino también aquellos  que encuentran  la oportunidad/posibilidad de visitar este sitio. Déjenos enriquecer el uno al otro en el conocimiento y en la amistad. Gracias. Jesus Sievert alias Quierosaber

Let ABS-CBN exist

This may be a hackneyed query/statement, but just the same I am going to say it to stress my point: “Why not crucify the owner of the goose that lays the golden eggs, rather than kill the goose itself?”

I am referring of course at the precarious fate that the nation’s biggest media group is facing on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to silence it. This, after Solicitor General Jose Calida filed before the Supreme Court a quo warranto petition seeking to void the franchise of ABS-CBN.

Activists, civic and other media organizations are denouncing such move as an assault on press freedom in the country and I could not blame them.

But more than the assault on press freedom and the burning desire to close a media institution like the ABS-CBN is the dire consequence that thousands of workers, professionals or otherwise, single or married, will have their livelihood, dreams and plans, turned upside down and uncertain. It is estimated that there will be over 11,000 direct and indirect employees of the giant media company who will lose their jobs over the closure.

We all know how all these came about. Duterte has repeatedly pledged to stop the broadcast operations of ABS-CBN and expressed anger over its adverse reporting during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Early in his term Duterte had accused the giant media of failing to broadcast his campaign advertisements and not returning the payments. He described this as having been swindled. The president has repeatedly vowed in public speeches to block any new license and a proposed law that would give ABS-CBN a 25-year operating permit has been gathering dust in congress since mid-2016.

Then came Calida’s statement, saying, “We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices by ABS-CBN. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the state, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our constitution and laws.”

I mean if it is just a matter of ABS-CBN failing to publish Duterte’s political advertisement and also failing to return the alleged P2.8 million paid for those ads, then why not just go after the owners of ABS-CBN and leave the institution running and existing for after all, does it not fall under the doctrine of command responsibility? Let the owners now decide on the fate of those responsible for handling the publication of the ads for their inadequacy.

To be fair, ABS-CBN, as an institution, has employees sympathetic of Duterte also and his governance. In fact many ABS-CBN stars are unabashed supporters of the president. Suffice to say that Duterte has also benefited a lot from the network.

 

VFA or bust

President Duterte with Sen. dela Rosa.

The country finds itself now at the crossroad where the government has to decide whether to continue embracing its decades-old military alliance with the US under the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) or totally abrogate it.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his displeasure and anger over the revocation of Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa’s visa by the US government for the latter’s active participation in Duterte’s deadly war against illegal drugs that resulted at times to what was described by foreign and national human rights group as extrajudicial killings.

Note that Bato’s involvement was in his capacity as then the newly handpicked Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) commanded  to lead the drug war relentlessly while given the assurance by the president that he would back them up to the hilt. That he would take responsibility for their official actions and that he would even go to prison for them if need be. To this day Duterte has kept that promise.

It is no wonder then that Duterte reacted the way he did, saying, in an expletive-laden speech directed at the US government, “I’m warning you … if you won’t do the correction on this, I will terminate the … Visiting Forces Agreement. I’ll end that son of a bitch.” The correction of course refers to the reported cancellation of Bato’s visa to the US.

But one can only understand why Duterte has taken umbrage at the deliberate cancellation of Bato’s visa by the US government for he found the act also as more an affront not only to his persona, but as the head of state that has made the war against illegal drug the centerpiece of his administration.

So, the question now is, in this day and age when the security landscape of the Philippines is getting complicated, as can be gleaned from Duterte’s independent foreign policy stance, where he seem to be lessening the country’s dependence on the US while pursuing a policy that requires better relations with China and improving the relations with non-traditional partners, like Russia, Japan and India, is the VFA still relevant?

The VFA is a security accord that took effect in 1999 and which provides the legal cover for American troops to enter the Philippines for joint training with Filipino troops. A separate defense pact subsequently signed by the treaty allies in 2014, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, allowed the extended stay of U.S. forces and authorized them to build and maintain barracks and other facilities in designated Philippine military camps.

Again, what this boils down to really is letting the US government know that the Philippines is still a sovereign nation enjoying the vibrancy of democracy and it should be respected as it is.

It is simply absurd that the cancellation of Bato’s visa is tied up to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act invoked by the US Senate calling for a travel ban to the US and the freezing of assets of Philippine government officials who are responsible for the alleged extrajudicial killings and the prolonged detention of Sen. Leila de Lima over multiple drug charges.

For Duterte, respect for the rule of law under a sovereign state is more important and relevant to his presidency than what benefits the VFA can bring to the country.

That is all there is to it.

Historical revision

Mr. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Is totally senseless and absurd that defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has recently called for the revision of school textbooks that portray his namesake and father’s family as “bad” people.

What he wants done specifically is reinterpret the historical record reflecting the dark days of his father’s one-man rule, when he placed the entirety of the Philippines under martial law on September 21, 1972, until it was lifted on January 17, 1981. The dictator Marcos was exiled from the country on February 25, 1986.

In effect his motive for proposing historical revisionism is not only to challenge established, accepted or traditional views held by professional scholars about a historical event that was the appalling martial law years, but mainly to absolve the Marcos conjugal dictatorship from all the atrocities and corruptions they perpetrated during their reign.

This dark period in Philippine history is remembered for the regime’s record of human rights abuses, particularly targeting political opponents, student activists, journalists, religious workers, farmers, and others who fought against the Marcos dictatorship.

Prominent opposition figures of the time, such as Lorenzo Tañada, Jose Diokno and Jovito Salonga, among others, were taken custody for accusing the despot Marcos of exaggeration over the allege increasing threat by the Communist insurgency and the ambush of his Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile outside the Wack-Wack subdivision. The trio claimed that it was simply a ruse for Marcos to have a convenient excuse to consolidate power and extend his tenure beyond the two presidential terms allowed by the 1935 Constitution.

Facts and figures show that about 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 tortured, according to Amnesty International, while 3,240 were killed from 1972 to 1981. During this dark chapter of Philippine history, thousands of people were subject to various forms of torture. Prisoners were electrocuted, beaten up, and strangled. They were burned with a flat iron or cigars. Water was poured down their throats, then forced out by beating. Women were stripped naked and raped, various objects forced into their genitals.

It is for this reason that a human rights lawyer and one of the authors of RA 10368, otherwise known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, Erin Tañada, a grandson of Lorenzo Tañada, harshly criticized the despot’s son suggestion to revise history books as a “desperate attempt by the Marcoses to erase the memory of the horrors of martial law and absolve the sins of their father.”

Thus, I find it incredibly unbelievable that Marcos Jr. can easily sweep the horrors of martial law under the rug without second thoughts as if it never happened, and instead endeavors to convince the generation after the baby boomers, described as Generation X, and even the Millennials, for that matter, that the accounts about the abuse and corruption done by his family during the martial law years were part of the propaganda of their political rivals. In effect what the young Marcos is saying is that the present school textbooks contain nothing but lies being taught to students.

What delusion! What arrogance!

I still have to hear a despot, exiled or not, who has not been accused of flagrantly robbing the nation’s coffers and stashing it somewhere else. Of course Marcos Jr. knows this like he knows the back of his hand.

 

Robredo’s report

Vice President Leni Robredo

Now comes Vice President Leni Robredo and her much ballyhooed report she promised to come up with based on her observations during her short stint as co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD).

So, was Robredo’s report factual, instructive and convincing such that it would ultimately change the way President Duterte will be conducting his bloody war on drugs the remaining years of his term or is it nothing but a rhetorical and political maneuvering for her presidential ambition in 2022?

What many, including myself,  wanted to hear from Robredo are facts and figures coming from a comprehensive study by reliable entities that would clearly show why it made her describe Duterte’s war on drug as a “massive failure’.

Any sensible person would know that the study needed should take some time to compile, considering the breadth and depth of the drug problem in the country. Needless to say that a detailed study of this magnitude involving an archipelagic country like ours cannot just be factually accomplished in a time frame of 18 days or so as co-chair of ICAD. Thus, the report is dubious at best and downright absurd at worst.

It would have been instructive had Robredo, in the process of studying or assessing the administration’s war on drugs, got herself immersed not just in the discussion about the enforcement cluster that ICAD is mandated to carry out, but also in the accomplishment of the other cluster’s objectives involving justice, advocacy and rehabilitation and reintegration. This is specifically the misgivings that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino expressed about Robredo, when the latter came out with her report.

For better understanding, the justice cluster is “primarily responsible for the expeditious prosecution of all drug cases, provision of legal assistance to law enforcement,” and the availability of public attorneys for voluntary surrenders and warrantless arrests during operations. Meanwhile, the advocacy cluster is tasked to conduct a nationwide campaign on the government’s anti-drug policy and related programs, while the rehabilitation and reintegration cluster “shall implement drug rehabilitation programs and ensure the reintegration of former drug dependents and other drug personalities as useful members of society.”

Although Robredo understood that the campaign against illegal drugs has so many aspects, lamentably, her report focused solely on the enforcement aspect, which I consider to be self-serving, if not politically motivated, as it gives her the authority to disparage at Duterte for the alleged extrajudicial killings involved in his war against drug.

Robredo should realize, however, that in order for her report to be convincing and acceptable she should have been holistic in her approach by including in her report the ongoing of the other aspects/clusters under the responsibility of ICAD. It cannot be that everything is a failure in Duterte’s bloody and relentless war against drugs. Give credit where credit is due.

Otherwise, Robredo’s report is nothing but a vehicle for her presidential ambition in 2022.

What wishful thinking!

 

What vindication?

Detained Senator Leila de Lima should know better than to trust her own judgment. This, after she expressed gratitude to lawmakers in the US Congress who supported a provision in the US National Budget for 2020 that, among other things, allows the secretary of state to deny US entry to Philippine officials involved in her detention, including freezing of their US assets.

“This bipartisan support from high-ranking law- and policy-makers in the US has given me a gift I have been longing for: vindication,” De Lima said.
What vindication is de Lima talking about?

She added: “Because these veteran US public officials would not be standing with me if they had any doubt about my innocence or the fact that my persecution is an attack, not just against me but against human rights and human rights defenders.”

Just because they are US public officials expressing their point of view or sentiments about de Lima’s incarceration does not mean they are correct as they have the habit of doing that and imposing their will especially towards government of third world countries.

It is even worse when the American’s source of information is coming from the opposition and critics of President Rodrigo Duterte whose war against illegal drugs was made the centerpiece of his administration.

Only well meaning Filipinos who have been in this country all these times can give an unbiased determination whether or not de Lima has been unfairly treated or illegally detained.

Needless to say that the same well meaning Filipinos can make a fair judgment on the enormity of the illegal drug problem in the country and who de Lima really is and what she has done during her stint as justice secretary in the past administration which led to her non-bailable arrest during the succeeding Duterte administration after being linked to the illegal drug trade where the evidence against her consisted of the testimony of prison inmates, police officers and former prison officials.

What I am just saying here is that let us not be swayed or easily get intimidated by the displeasure expressed by some foreign dignitaries simply because they belong to the first world countries and believe that their words can tip the balance of the blind-fold lady justice in their favor.

Let us demand respect! It is behooves upon us all, as proud Filipinos, to support the leadership of this country, that even as we belong to the third world, we are a government of laws as oppose to the US, a highly developed and powerful country that blatantly violates the human rights of some people wanting to better their lives and give brighter future for their children as it is known to be a beacon of freedom, hope and opportunity. .

Thus, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo was right in saying that the case of de Lima is not one of persecution but of prosecution. On this the US lawmakers don’t have the right to interfere in the judicial affairs of this country.

It cannot be more understandably clearer than that.

Different strokes for different times

President Duterte raising hands of Bato de la Rosa and Bong Go.

Let me just put in my two cents worth of thoughts on the opinion expressed by Ms. Marian May Tan in her article, ‘On Senate yesteryears’, Sunstar, Dec. 19, 2019, relative to Atty. Democrito C. Barcenas’ piece, ‘Missing the Senate of yesteryears’, Sunstar, Dec. 17. 2019.

Both are actually right in their own respective ways.

Indeed, the Barcenas article evokes pleasant memories of the past highly intellectual members of the Senate who were mostly lawyers by profession. I was so mesmerized then by their eloquence and brilliance during their privilege speeches and debates during Senate hearings that I lost track of the number of times I missed classes because I simply did not have the urge to extricate myself from my seat, much less remove my seemingly glued ear from the radio set.

Yes, those were the years when radio broadcast was not at its best yet. How I wished it was televised then, as it is today, instead of visualizing mentally their emotions, gestures and facial expressions, as one clearly sees in modern times, when senators are grandstanding.

If I may add to the illustrious names that Barcenas mentioned, like, Aquino, Salonga, Diokno, and Tañada, there was also Lorenzo Sumulong, Arturo Tolentino, Francisco “Soc”Rodrigo, Roseller Lim and Raul Manglapus, among others, who held me utterly enthralled. Lest we forget, the dazzling of them all was Ferdinand Marcos!

Yet, what happened to these preeminent politicians who were, as Barcenas described, ‘principled intellectual brilliance, mastery of parliamentary rules, unquestionable patriotism and unsullied integrity’, and to the country for that matter, when Marcos realized that he was the most brainy and Machiavellian of them all?

It is for this reason, perhaps, that Ms. Tan lamented the ridicule made by Barcenas at the neophyte senators, namely, Christopher “Bong” Go and Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, calling them ‘intellectual lilliputians’ to the detriment of the country. And she is right to feel that way, too.

We all know Go and de la Rosa for as long as when President Rodrigo Duterte was catapulted to his presidential seat. But that they are among the closest and trusted men of Duterte who have shown loyalty and honesty in serving the latter is no reason for belittling them, especially more so that they are not lawyers. Needless to say that it is too early to judge what they are capable of doing as senators for the country. They may not be as brilliant and eloquent as their predecessors of yesteryears, but they, too, are educated and successful in their own rights and are learning fast in their new jobs.

The Marcos era of learned men has painfully taught the Filipino people that those who are brilliant and experts in law do not necessarily make a country great. It is for this reason that Duterte won overwhelmingly the presidency in 2016 and his senatorial bets swept the elections for the senate in 2019 for we are now living in different times.

Indeed, times have changed and the people saw that unconditional love for country, better common sense and the commitment to improve the lives of the Filipinos are what motivated Duterte and his party to run and lead the country.

Thus, we find ourselves now having leaders and politicians with different strokes that are appropriate for different times. It makes looking at the past, therefore, futile simply because the future has gone not to every one’s liking.

US meddling criticized

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The ordinary Filipino may not be in a position, like Foreign Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr., to criticize and call “idiotic” the resolution of a United States Senate committee calling for sanctions against Philippine government officials behind extrajudicial killings and Senator Leila de Lima’s detention.

But the ordinary and informed Filipino knows who the outspoken, erudite, intrepid, yet a very nationalistic individual that is Locsin and could only, therefore, support and applaud his gallant stand against the powers that be.

The Philippines is sovereign nation with a functioning government that continues adhering and respecting the rule of law, but being a third country does not mean that we will just allow ourselves to be bullied.

Clearly this is what the US is trying to do, pretending its government is holier than thou and using its might to bulldoze and meddle in the affairs of the country headed by President Rodrigo Duterte who has been accused by the opposition and detractors for human rights violation.

How I wish the Human Rights agencies are able to call the attention of the massive and systematic human rights violations taking place at the US southern border with Mexico. The US government’s intense border militarization and associated policies are leading to the further severe victimization of people fleeing violence, including children, at the border and beyond, through the expansion of immigration detention, the separation of families and the curtailment of asylum rights.

What is even egregious about the US interference is the fact that by just passing a senate resolution it thinks it could alter or change the direction of the functioning wheels of justice or that it could cause to stop it from turning further in order to impose its own will.

The “idiotic” resolution being referred to here is Resolution No. 142 which was passed by the US Senate committee invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. It calls for a travel ban to the US and the freezing of assets of Philippine government officials who are responsible for the extrajudicial killings and the prolonged detention of De Lima, who is in jail over alleged multiple drug charges.

For better understanding, the Magnitsky Act was enacted by the Obama Administration, authorizing the U.S. Government to sanction human rights offenders. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer (sometimes referred to as a tax accountant or auditor). Magnitsky uncovered tax fraud perpetrated on a vast-scale, implicating Russian officials. In 2008 he was imprisoned in Russia and later died in jail as a result of the mistreatment suffered there.

It is one thing to enact resolutions based on facts obtained from unbiased and reliable reports and/or sources, but when it is coming from those already critical of Duterte’s bloody war against illegal drugs then somehow it loses its accuracy and credibility.

Could Resolution No. 142 then be a product of Vice President Leni Robredo’s 19-day stint as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) that included meeting with officials from the United Nations and the United States government?

Certainly it leaves no room for doubts.