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nobama     US President Barrack Obama is set to visit the Philippines on April 28-29 to affirm the supposed “special relations” between the two countries. A media friend commented that Obama would very likely be given a “rock star welcome”, being the first US president to visit in 11 years. The visit puts the spotlight on US-PH relations in a time when the Philippines confronts a regional maritime dispute and when the US seeks to establish itself as a Pacific power to arrest its economic decline. It is important to look beyond the pomp and glamour that accompanies state visits. It is important to take note of the context of America’s efforts to rebalance towards Asia as a means of advancing its own economic and security agenda. Before gushing over the soaring rhetoric about “friendship” and “mutual benefit”, it is important to know what the Obama administration really stands for in terms of its economic and military policies.

  1. Obama has authorized internet spying on a level unheard of until NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden came out. The US National Security Agency gathered all forms of computer data, from phone calls to emails, across the globe, and violated the people’s right to privacy. The Obama administration also had no problem conducting surveillance on its own allies, as European leaders eventually found out. Civil liberties have taken a backseat to Obama’s drive to secure US dominance in the world.

 

  1. More than 2,400 have died in the 5 years of Obama’s drone warfare. Three days into his term, Obama authorized his first drone strike in Pakistan against alleged terrorists, killing at least 9 civilians in the process. In a span of 5 years, the Obama administration has launched more than 390 drone strikes. The Bush regime launched 51 in four years. Drone strikes violate international law and the sovereignty of countries targeted with the strikes. Yet as with the NSA global internet surveillance dragnet, US “national security” trumps human rights and international law any day, civilian casualties be damned. A week after Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, a missile strike hit a tribal region in Yemen, killing at least 21 children and 12 women. The upcoming Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation (AEDC) opens up the possibility of the US prepositioning its drones in the Philippines, making our country a party to the illegal drone strikes the US conducts overseas.

 

  1. Obama has escalated US intervention worldwide by ramping up deployment of US Special Forces all over the world and engaging in covert wars and power projection. Under the Bush regime, US Special Forces operated in some 60 countries. Under the Obama regime, US Special Forces are deployed in 134 countries worldwide, a 123% increase from the Bush years.  The US Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines of the US SOC has been stationed in Mindanao since 2002, 12 years after the US initiated its “war on terror”. They have been stationed in Camp Navarro in Zamboanga under a rotational deployment scheme. Interestingly, the AEDC’s original title was Agreement on Increased Rotational Deployment and Enhanced Defense Cooperation. The “Increased Rotational Deployment” was eventually dropped from the title of the agreement.

 

  1. The US government under Obama still has not paid a single cent for the damage one of its warships caused in Tubbataha Reef as well as the previous toxic waste dumps in former bases in Clark and Subic. On January 17, 2013, a US minesweeper, the USS Guardian, ran aground in a protected marine area known as the Tubbataha Reef, an area declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. No officer of the ship has been made accountable under PH laws. No payment has been made for more than 2,000 square meters damaged by the ship. It is the same story more than 20 years earlier when the US government refused to pay for the clean-up of their former military bases in Clark and Subic, saying that the clean-up of the toxic wastes was not part of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

 

  1. The US owes China some $1.28 trillion. Meanwhile, Chinese investments in the US are growing, even doubling in 2013. So that thing about the US going to war with China over some islands in the West Philippine Sea, it’s not likely going to happen. As Sen. Miriam Santiago pointed out in a recent radio interview, it is childish to think that if we are somehow attacked by China, the US will automatically retaliate. The US will base its response on what it deems is beneficial to its own interests and not the interests of its allies, the senator said.

 

  1. More whistleblowers have been prosecuted under Obama than in all of the 20th century. Obama has cracked down on whistleblower such as NSA analyst Edward Snowden, former Army Cpl. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, and Jullian Assange of Wikileaks. The Obama administration has used the Espionage Act twice as many times as all previous US administrations combined. Whistleblowers who leak information concerning government abuses are considered “aiding the enemy”.

 

  1. The Obama administration is desperately pushing for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement as a means for the US to overcome its own economic crisis. It seeks to tear down any remaining barriers to investments and gives transnational corporations the power to sue governments and undermine their sovereignty. US activists have decried the pact as “NAFTA on steroids”. The push for the TPPA comes at a time when the Philippines is kicking off efforts to change its constitution and remove any restrictions to foreign investments and ownership. The Charter change move now taking place in Congress has been hailed by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce as a good first step towards the Philippines eventually joining of the TPPA.

PH_nhi_gregorio_del_pilarAt an early age, Filipinos are taught about the “Boy General” Gregorio del Pilar and the Battle of Tirad Pass. Filipino elementary students got to read about this era in Philippine history known as the Philippine-American War. Del Pilar has been known as a symbol of heroic resistance to American colonization. He fought with 60 men against a much superior US force. To younger folks, that’s kind of the equivalent of Leonidas and his brave 300 defending Thermopylae against the advancing Persian army.

Gregorio del Pilar exemplified tremendous courage amid overwhelming odds that favored the enemy. “What I do is done for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be too great,” he wrote in his journal on the eve of the Battle of Tirad Pass. Del Pilar died in that battle, his body reportedly stripped of his personal belongings. He was not buried until after three days. 

It is therefore such a great irony that the  name “Gregorio del Pilar” is used by institutions and objects that are glaring reminders of US colonialism.

Fort Gregorio del Pilar is home to the Philippine Military Academy whose graduates become officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Majority of these officers have embraced increased US military presence and intervention in the country. Lately, the AFP has supported the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation which will allow the US to put up facilities inside PH facilities and preposition their war materiel in these facilities. The same officers believe that AFP modernization can only be achieved if the country hangs on to the coat-tails of Uncle Sam. Not surprising since the PMA, ironically, follows the tradition of the US Military Academy.

The US Hamilton-class cutter acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Articles and Foreign Assistance Act was named BRP Gregorio del Pilar. The ship was first used in 1967 during the Vietnam war. Prior to being transferred to the Philippine Navy, the ship was stripped of most of its high-tech equipment. The cost of maintaining the ship is greater than the acquisition cost, according the budget hearings of the Philippine Congress.

PF 15- BRP Gregorio del Pilar [WHEC-715] Official sendoff from the United States  1-798727

 

“Gregorio del Pilar” the ship is a prime example of how neo-colonial relations work. The Philippines constantly depends on the US for military aid, while the US provides us with second-hand equipment to keep our armed forces backward and constantly dependent on US support. The Vietnam War era ship is a glaring reminder of how the US puts one over us in the name of “special relations” and “friendship”. The US has no real intention of modernizing the AFP because it keeps our country dependent on US military aid. This is the leverage used by the US to gain the approval of one-sided military pacts like the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation set to be signed during US President Barack Obama’s visit on April 28-29.

The meaning and significance of del Pilar has been lost on the present and past neo-colonial puppet governments. The current and future generations of Filipino youth should reclaim “Gregorio del Pilar” as a symbol of heroic resistance to US imperialism. Del Pilar reminds us that it is our duty to oppose foreign intervention, even if the odds are not in our favor. Instead of following the colonial tradition set by the US Military Academy, cadets at the PMA should study and emulate del Pilar’s nationalist and anti-colonial stand.

As del Pilar had shown, one is never too young to stand up for national sovereignty.

 

Sa Enero 21, nanawagan ang Bayan ng pagkilos sa harap ng Korte Suprema at sa iba pang mga lugar, laban sa pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco. Panawagan ito sa lahat ng galit sa pang-aabuso ng power industry at sa sabwatang Meralco-Aquino.

Magkaano muli ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente ng Meralco?

 

Sa orihinal na plano, isang one-time P3.44kWh increase ang balak nila. Kung kasama ang VAT, aabot ng P4.14/kWh ang itataas ng singil sa kuryente.

Dahil sa public pressure, at para i-preempt ang House hearing, ginawang staggered ng Meralco ang rate hike. Sumulat ito sa ERC. Spread over 3 months na lang daw ang increase. Sa unang buwan pinakamalaki, aabot ng P2.00/kWh

Inaprubahan ng ERC ang mungkahi ng Meralco na gawing staggered ang increase.

Hindi nagkaroon ng public hearing. Ayon sa Meralco at ERC, automatic pass-on ang increase na ito at hindi na kailangan pang dumaan sa public hearing. Mahalaga ang puntong ito sa usapin ng due process at interes ng mga konsyumer.

Ano ang ginawa ng mga tutol sa rate hike?

Naghain ng petition ang Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kabataan at ACT Teachers partylist sa SC para hilingin ang TRO sa increase. Kasama sa demanda ang Meralco at ERC. Naghain din ng petisyon ang Nasecore.

Nag issue ng 60-day TRO ang SC kontra sa rate hike bago mag-Pasko. Ipinatigil ang koleksyon ng dagdag singil. PERO MARAMI NA ANG NAKABAYAD. Dapat isapubliko ng Meralco kung gaano na kalaki ang nasingil nito bago ipataw ang TRO at kung nasaan ang pera at kung kumikita ito ng interes.

 Ano ang nangyari sa kaso ng Meralco sa SC?

Pinarami pa ng SC ang sangkot. Kasama na ngayon ang mga generation companies, ang DOE, PEMC (spot market) etc. Nakatakda ang oral arguments sa January 21. Halos buong industriya na ang sangkot.

Bakit nga ba tumaas ang singil sa kuryente?

Tumaas ang GENERATION CHARGE ng Meralco. Ang generation ang pinakamalaking item sa ating electric bill. Ang generation rates, hindi tulad ng distribution, ay deregulated. Sa practice ay ginagawang automatic pass through ang mga increases dito. Ipinapasa ng Meralco ang mga increase sa generation rates direkta sa konsyumer nang hindi na dumadaan sa anumang hearing.

Ano ang dahilan ng pagtaas ng generation charge?

Sinasabing ang scheduled Malampaya shutdown ang naging isang salik sa pagtaas ng gen charge. Ang Malampaya ay dumaranas ng scheduled maintenance shut down kada 3 taon. Ibig sabihin ay predictable ito. Alam na mangyayari ito. Pwedeng paghandaan para mapunuan ang shortfall sa kuryente na ireresulta ng shutdown. 

Nagpasya ang Meralco na i-dispatch ang mga planta ng First Gas, na tatakbo gamit ang liquid fuel sa halip na natural gas. Mas mahal syempre ito nang doble sa natural gas. Nagresulta ito ng P1.04/kWh na increase.

Nangontrata din ang Meralco ng kuryente sa ilang mga gencos. Kumuha din ang Meralco ng 11.5% ng kuryente nito sa WESM. Pero labis na mataas ang presyuhan sa merkado dahil sa mga naganap na unscheduled shutdowns ng ilang planta.

Ang 11.5% na kinuha ng Meraco sa WESM ay nag-contribute ng 70% increase ng generation rates ng Meralco. Napakaliit ng share ng WESM sa kabuuang supply na kuryente ng Meralco pero ito ang nagtatakda ng presyo. Ito ang nagpapataas ng presyo. Yung P2.38/kWh sa kabuuang P4.14/kWh ang galing sa WESM!

Source of power
Contribution to increase
WESM P2.38/kWh
Gas Plants P1.04/kWh
Other plants P0.02/kWh

 

 

Source
Share in Meralco input
October 2013 price
November 2013 price
Total price increase
WESM 11.5% P13.74/kWh P33.22/kWh P19.48/kWh
Meralco IPP’s 41.9% P4.90/kWh P6.35/kWh P1.45/kWh
Meralco Power supply agreements 46.5% P4.44/kWh P5.27/kWh P0.83/kWh

 

Paano nangyari na ang 11.5% na kinuha ng Meralco sa WESM ang syang pinakamalaking bahagi ng rate hike? Paano nangyari na umabot sa P33.22/kWh ang average price ng WESM noong Nobyembre?

Nagkaroon ng mga unscheduled outages, nagresulta ito ng “tight supply”. Kailangang imbestigahan bakit sabay-sabay ang outage ng mga plantang ito. May pagsasamantala ba dahil alam nilang magkakaroon ng shortage sa supply bunga ng Malampaya shutdown? Kaya sinabayan nila ng sariling shutdown na magreresulta ng mas mataas ng presyo sa merkado?

Case Study Therma Mobile- Pag-aari ng Aboitiz

May kontrata ang Therma Mobile (diesel plant) na magsupply sa Meralco ng 0.6% ng power requirements nito. Ang presyo nito para sa Nobyembre, ayon sa kontrata, ay P8.65. Pero ayon sa records ng WESM, ang Therma Mobile ay nag-bid sa presyong P62/kWh nang ilang ulit noong Nobyembre at Disyembre. At ito ang humatak pataas ng presyo sa WESM. Ito ang nagpataas ng clearing price.

Paano nangyari na may bilateral contract sila sa Meralco pero nag-bid sila sa WESM ng napakataas?

Bilang may hawak ng supply contract, ang Meralco ang may kontrol sa bid ng Therma Mobile sa WESM. Ang Meralco ang nag-utos na mag-bid ang Therma Mobile ng P62/kWh sa WESM. Lumalabas na Meralco ang may kasalanan sa mataas ng presyo ng WESM dahil inutusan nya ang Therma Mobile na magbid ng mataas, gayong alam niyang hahatakin nito ang presyo pataas, bukod pa sa kumukuha din ng kuryente ang Meralco sa WESM (11.5% noong Nobyembre).

Nakinabang ba ang Meralco sa mataas na bid? Sasabihin ng Meralco at Therma Mobile na kapwa sila hindi nakinabang sa mataas na presyo sa WESM. Dahil na may kontrata na sila na P8.65/kWh, yun lang ang babayaran ng Meralco sa Therma, anuman ang kalabasan ang presyo sa WESM.

Yung ibang mga planta sa WESM ang nakinabang sa mataas na clearing price. Kaya dapat imbestighan, may iba pa bang planta ang Aboitiz na nakinabang sa mataas na clearing price during that time? May sosyo din ba ang Meralco sa iba pang generators sa panahong iyon? Sa mga plantang nag-shutdown, may iba pa ba silang plantang tumakbo na nakanibang sa mataas na clearing price?

Ang nakakainis dito, walang pakialam ang mga generators at maging ang Meralco sa itataas ng singil sa kuryente, dahil nga automatic pass-on naman ito sa consumer. Kahit pa umabot sa P62/kWh ang generation charge, ipapasa lang nila ito sa consumer. Oo nga pala, tinatayang P17 bilyon ang kita ng Meralco noong nakaraang 2013.

Ano naman ang ginagawa ng gobyerno?

Hindi inimebestigahan ang ERC ang posibleng abuso sa merkado. Inaprubahan ang staggered rate hike nang walang hearing. Hindi inimbestigahan ang kakaibang sirkunstansya ng increase sa WESM. Samantala, wala daw magic wand ang Palasyo para ipatigil ang mga rate hike.

Paano ba naman, makikinabang ang gobyerno sa P3.44/kWh increase dahil may dagdag pa itong 70 sentimos na VAT kada kWH. Ipagpalagay na ang Meralco ay nakakabenta ng 2.8 billion kWh sa isang buwan, ang kikitain ng gobyerno sa VAT sa rate hike ay aabot sa P1.96 bilyon sa isang buwan.

That’s P1.96 bilyon for not doing anything! Parang binigyan pa ng reward yung kainutilan ng gobyerno!

Ano ang magagawa ng mamamayan?

Ang problema ay nasa batas at sa klase ng industriya meron tayo. Privatized na ang halos buong industriya ng kuryente, mula generation, transmission at distribution. Tubo na ang gumagabay na prinsipyo dito. Ang patakarang automatic recovery o automatic pass-on ay nagtitiyak na tutubo ang mga pribadong negosyante sa kuryente, anuman ang sitwasyon o kundisyon. Nagagamit pa nga ito para pumasok sila sa mga kwestyunableng kontrata.

Kumabaga, mandato ng Meralco dapat na maghanap ng supply ng kuryente sa least cost o pinakamura. Pero paano nila gagawin ito kung may pribilehiyo sila ng automatic pass-on sa konsyumer, kung saan kahit gaano ka-mahal ang kuryente, ipapasa lang nila ito sa mga customer nila.

Noong ipinapasa pa lang ang EPIRA, nangako ang gobyerno na bababa ang singil sa kuryente dahil magiging mas efficient ang power sector at mawawala ang kurapsyon na matagal nang bumagabag sa Napocor. Fast-forward 10 years, dumoble ang presyo ng kuryente, at ang industriya ay kontrolado na ng iilang makapangyarihang negosyante. May WESM nga pero ito pa ang dahilan ng arbitraryong pagtaas ng singil sa kuryente.

EPIRA ang ugat ng problema. Ang  privatized at deregulated na industriya, kung saan walang accountability sa publiko ang mga pribadong negosyo, ang nagpapahirap sa mga konsyumer. Ang gobyernong walang pakialam sa kalagayan ng konsyumer ang nagpapanatili ng ganitong bulok sa sistema. Ito ang kailangang labanan at baguhin ng mamamayan. ###

Photo Retuers

The dictionary defines the word “hijack” to mean to take control of a moving vehicle such as a plane. I have been hearing  the word quite often in reference to rallies against the pork barrel system. Every time there is a rally, there seems to be the unfounded fear that the Left would “hijack” the event. I have come across such accusations on social media, on Twitter and Facebook. Some questions are well meaning, while others are just plain malicious with no other intention but to see the mass action fail.

I have tried my best to answer the well-meaning questions on Twitter and FB. I appreciate the efforts of  other netizens who try to put some sense into the discussions, not because they are leftists or anything but because they have enough common sense to know that we need a united front.

I say that the fear is often unfounded because this is hardly ever substantiated by anything other than one’s bias, or by an insidious motive to divide the broad front against pork corruption. One version of this is that the Left will hijack the rally and use it as a platform to attack Aquino. The anti-pork rally will become an anti-Aquino rally.

There are some issues we must answer here. Can the Left indeed hijack a rally such as the one in Luneta or Ayala? So how does one hijack a rally?  And what’s wrong in directing the protest at Aquino?

Yesterday, someone posted that a group of about 500 people at Ayala were hijacking the event by unfurling placards calling for the ouster of Aquino. I personally did not see this group that was being referred to so I doubt its accuracy. But assuming the report was true, I seriously doubt that a group of 500 people can hijack an event, not when there is an organizing committee that takes charge of the program and the conduct of the rally. The Left is part of that organizing committee as it works among the various groups and individuals helping out the event. The program committee is also supported by professional artists. We had an excellent director and various support staff. The program line up was more or less fixed. Unless the so-called 500 people got a bigger stage a, louder sound system and a bigger mobilization than the one that was already in Ayala, they couldn’t really do much in terms of hijacking the event.

Photo Val Rodriguez, Phil Star

The same fear was also raised in Luneta last August 26, that the Leftists with their streamers and placards and loud sound system, would hijack the rally. Well, there wasn’t much to “hijack” during the first Luneta rally since for the most part, there wasn’t even a centralized program as rally organizers did not want to have one. People could basically just do their own thing and find their own spot in the park. Unless you had a crowd and sound system as big as an El Shaddai Sunday gathering, hijacking Luneta would not be possible.

Rallies have organizing committees that prepare the program and conduct of the event. Groups discuss how the rally will take place. The Left is often part of the organizing committee. And the Left has always been upfront with its intentions. For example during the first Luneta rally, we informed other organizers early on that we would be marching to Mendoza after Luneta. We wanted to address our demands straight to the President.

I’ve seen a lot of ridiculous reactions in the run up to rallies, often coming as attempts to divide or scare people.

For example before the first Luneta rally, I got asked regarding the burning of an effigy. Apparently some folks saw a media report on a “pork” effigy which would be brought to Luneta. Some folks started raising the alarm that an effigy would be burned. They made a big deal out of it. When I checked what they were referring to, it turned out to be a papier mache’ of a small pig and it was not meant to be burned. (Some questions were well-meaning but others were just far-out).

Pero may mas OA pang reaksyon.

At the command tent in Luenta, as we were preparing for the rally, one person exclaimed, “Oh no, they’re burning an effigy!” When we looked, it turned out to be a group using incense for a morning prayer. OA di ba? Pero buti sana kung simpleng OA lang ang problema. Making a big deal out of these issues is a calculated attempt to scare and confuse people, a move that would serve the interests of Malacanang and the pork defenders.

A  day before the August 26 Luneta rally, a malicious and anonymous “Ibagsak and rehimeng  US-Aquino”  SMS  started circulating. The text said that the uprising was to start in Luneta and end in Mendiola. The text message was obviously a scare tactic. Bayan had no problem denouncing the SMS since it was never ours to begin with. Other netizens reposted our disclaimer. A similar SMS circulated a day before the Ayala rally, again designed to make it appear that the text came from the Left. Some netizens quickly exposed the scare tactic even before we even had to. (Meanwhile, a tweet by one Leah Navarro, staunch supporter of Aquino, said that that SMS was proof that the rally had already been hijacked. So gets nyo na sino nakikinabang sa mga ganung text?)

Our group has always been upfront with our position on the Aquino regime. We never hid the fact that we are opposed to this regime on many issues such as land reform, human rights, sovereignty, economic development and so on. We hold protests during Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, and that’s no secret. So expect that the participation of the Left in these broad anti-pork rallies will also include a sharper critique of and a more direct message addressed to the President.

And why not? The pork barrel issue clearly calls for it.

Aquino is THE biggest hindrance to the removal of the pork barrel system. We have enumerated the reasons in our previous public statements.

  1. Aquino refuses to scrap the pork barrel system, both the congressional pork and the much bigger presidential pork. In the 2014 budget, while PDAF is no longer there, the funds were merely transferred to other line agencies while lawmakers retained the “right” to nominate their pet projects which will appear as line items in the budget. That’s still pork, no matter how you cook it.
  2. Aquino has asked the Supreme Court to lift the TRO on the release of the remaining 2012 PDAF and the Malamapaya funds.
  3. Aquino has given special treatment to Janet Napoles, threatening to undermine the investigation and prosecution of those involved in the scam. This may lead to selective prosecution.
  4. Aquino has been caught red-handed in disbursing so-called government “savings” as a form of pork and incentive for politicians. Many have pointed out the unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, yet the Palace is sticking to its defense. Aquino wants to preserve the system of lump sum discretionary funds and the corrupt system of patronage that pork makes possible.

Which brings us to the next point. Why shouldn’t the rally be critical of Aquino? What’s wrong if groups carry placards that say Aquino is the Pork Barrel King? What’s wrong with directing the demand to abolish pork squarely at Malacanang?

(Of course the event itself has a common theme and all participating groups and individuals agree to that. However, the common theme is just that. It’s a common theme but it is not the ONLY call nor is it the maximum demand that some groups  can push. The common theme or call is not a ceiling or a cap. It is the minimum basis of unity for holding the event. )

Now, the usual modus of the die-hard Aquino supporter is this: they spread on social media that the protest against pork will be turned into a venue to attack Aquino. They believe that since Aquino is SO popular, portraying an event as ANTI-Aquino will make the event flop. It will turn off people. Grabe din ang arrogance no?

Now some folks easily fall for this trap for one reason or another. They will make the unnecessary disclaimer that this is NOT an anti-Aquino rally in order to pacify the die-hard pro-Aquino intrigeros on social media who keep saying that an anti-Aquino call would prevent others from joining. They sometimes fail to see that the intention of the intrigue is to force the organizers to say that the rally is NOT anti-Aquino, NOT oppositional to Aquino, in order to blunt the message. So that later on, the President can say that he and the protesters are on the same side. The rally is in fact in support of the Daang Matuwid and the President. The President’s officials are even willing to meet with the rally organizers so they can sit down and discuss alternatives. We’re all in this together. Damay-damay na etc etc. .

Galing di ba? So who’s  hijacking the rally now?

What I also find bothersome and insulting is that in the attempt to appease these so-called “pro-Aquino yet anti-pork netizens”, some protest organizers, wittingly or unwittingly, reinforce the unfounded allegations and biases against the Left.

So what if some groups carry anti-Aquino calls, isn’t that within their right to express themselves? That doesn’t negate the character of the Ayala event as an anti-pork rally. So why make a disclaimer that can be turned and used against the rally organizers? Why make a disclaimer that can be used to attack one of the participants of the rally, particularly the Left?

I saw one accusation, though no direct reference was made, that the Left was “nakikisakay at nanggagamit” and that they are no different from politicians. If indeed it was the left that was being referred to, I would want that person to know what the Left did for the Ayala rally so that the person could be disabused of the notion that the Left was “nakikisakay at nanggagamit”.

The Left brought in people early to the Ayala rally, occupying a huge space that was there when the program was about to start and the Makati employees had not arrived. Kumakalog ang Paseo nung simula dahil wala pang tao. The Left also brought in other allies and anti-pork groups and personalities, some of whom were hesitant to join the Ayala rally because they thought that the message was too soft on Malacanang. (Yes there are those types too.) We mobilized artists, support staff, speakers as well as resources. It was the Bayan forces who stayed throughout the program at Ayala, even when the heavy rains started pouring. They stayed up to the end of the rally. Hindi sila bumitiw.

For those not familiar with organizing rallies, mobilizing people is difficult work. You prepare transportation, food, marshals, placards and stuff. It’s not as easy as writing a press release or making a Facebook meme. And these groups, the workers, the farmers, urban poor, professionals; they all made their own sacrifices to make the event a success by mobilizing their members from the communities and workplaces that were relatively far from Makati.

Contrast the efforts of the workers and farmers say to one Jim Paredes who is noisy on social media but admitted in one of the meetings for the first Million People March in Luneta that he was NOT for the abolition of PDAF (because it can be used for good) but was only supportive of prosecuting Napoles.

Contrast the efforts of the students and urban poor groups mobilizing to folks such as those in the Black and White Movement who during the anti-Arroyo protests only mobilized enough people to fill a van, yet they get to be interviewed all over the place as if they mobilized the entire rally in Ayala. (Ask any of the groups active in the anti-GMA movement and they’ll tell you the same).

The good thing though with these protests is that those actively involved have “leveled-up” so to speak. Hats off to the commitment displayed by netizens, bloggers, artists such as Juana Change and many others, who really worked to make the rally successful. Sila yung totoong nagtatrabaho. Hindi tulad nung nagte-text o retweet lang ng kung anu-anung kabalbalan, kunwari concerned sa kalalabasan ng rally pero sa totoo lang wala naman silang intensyong dumalo ng rally, at ang gusto lang ay manggulo at manghati.

Our understanding of the issue has also developed. The first Luneta rally was expectedly focused on Napoles and PDAF. The succeeding rallies tried to raise the discussion to lump sum discretionary spending. In Ayala, we’ve seen how participants of the rally gained the understanding that pork is not just PDAF. It also includes DAP and other forms of discretionary spending. The call to abolish ALL pork became clearer.

This movement is progressing. This cannot be prevented. The defenders of pork can only hope to divide the movement by attacking the Left, or by arousing some irrational fear of an evil opposition take-over.

The defenders of pork have grown desperate. They will ultimately fail.

Photo Philippine Daily Inquirer

Are survey results being recycled?

Posted: September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Image

We ask this question after news of the “latest” Social Weather Stations survey came out showing that 3 out of 4 Filipinos are satisfied with the performance of the Aquino administration. The +66 net satisfaction rating was called a record high. News of the survey results came out September 19, at the height of the Zamoboanga crisis and the pork barrel scandal. The SWS survey was said to have been conducted between June 28-30.

It just so happened that this is not the first time the SWS survey from June 28-30 was used in a news story. Reports of what appears to be the same survey already came out last July 22, just hours before Aquino was set to deliver his State of the Nation Address. In July 22, Aquino’s net satisfaction rating was pegged at +64 according to SWS.

Are the results released in July and September just based on one survey (June 28-30) with the same set of respondents? And if so, why release the results in two batches, one as a survey  on Aquino’s net satisfaction rating and another as a survey on the Aquino (national) administration’s net satisfaction rating?

More importantly, why are the results of the survey apparently taken last June 28-30 released months apart, with the releases appearing to be timed for crucial events such as the SONA and now the Zamboanga crisis and the pork barrel scandal?

It is clear of course who really stands to benefit from this conditioning of the public mind. Aquino has become desperate as he continues to resist widespread calls for the abolition of the pork barrel system and for the prosecution of all those involved in the pork scam, including administration allies. Aquino just faced his biggest protest last August 26 and the protests are being sustained throughout the country for the month of September. Not many people fell for Aquino’s “abolish pork” speech before August 26. Aquino even tried to make it appear that he and the Luneta protesters were on the same side. The Aquino regime then went on to attack anti-pork protesters, sowing intrigues that made it appear the groups were not united.

By next week, the new pork system would have been passed on second reading by the House of Representatives. It is still pork, just by another name. Tomorrow, groups will commemorate the 41st anniversary of Martial Law as they vow to “level up” the protests and to #neverPORKget.

P.S. : Shout out to PxO for the heads up.

Results of June 28-30 survey released September 19, 2013.

Results of June 28-30 survey released in July 22.

Why protest on September 21?

Posted: September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

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1. Because the prosecution of those involved in the pork barrel scam is still not complete and can be undermined any time by Aquino himself.

2. Because the Napoles NGO’s comprise only 8 out of the 82 NGO’s COA reported to have questionable transactions involving PDAF. The COA report from 2007-2009 also does not reveal the true extent of systemic corruption. Many more should be investigated.

3. Because Congress plans to retain pork under a new system; that even if there is no longer a lump-sum PDAF, lawmakers will still get to identify and recommend projects to the different implementing agencies (itemized pork). Next week, Congress is expected to pass on second reading the proposed budget, along with the new itemized pork system.

4. Because he who has the biggest pork of all refuses to give it up, while preserving the system of patronage politics in Congress.

5. Because 41 years after Martial Law, bureaucrat capitalism has become even more rapacious under the so-called tuwid na daan. September 21 reminds us how plunderers and rights violators like the Marcoses have largely gone unpunished under a rotten and corrupt system.

Ang gobyerno’y kurap. Ang bayan ay naghihirap. Kailangan ng pagbabagong ganap. 

Many of those going to the August 26 protest against the pork barrel system and for true accountability may probably be first-time rally participants. It’s quite amazing that the issue has moved so many people into taking action, especially those who don’t normally join street protests.

There is no one group leading the Luneta rally. Many groups and individuals will be going there because they feel a great and urgent need to express their outrage over what’s happening with our public funds and over the government’s lack of meaningful response to the issue. Quite telling is the Aquino government’s stubborn refusal to give up the pork barrel system. Government tolerance for systemic corruption, the cover-ups in Congress, the Napoles drama, worsening poverty and perhaps even the recent flooding, have all contributed to the growing public outrage.

If this is your first time to join a rally, here are some tips that may help you on that day in Luneta.

1. Organize yourselves into groups if you plan to go. Mas masaya kung grupong pupunta sa protesta. You can get your friends and families and neighbors together.You may set your assembly time and place before going to the main venue. There are many groups that are going, coming from different locations. You may also check those coming from schools, workplaces as well as the plans of various organized groups that will surely be posted on social media. You can organize your own mini-marches, motorcades, convoys etc or meet up with bigger contingents.

2. There will be pocket events in the big area that is Luneta. You can attend teach-ins, discussion groups, open jams, petition signing, freedom walls, flash mobs. There are many possibilities. It’s a big space. There’s no one stage, though the entire Luneta will be the stage. If you don’t belong to one group, try exploring the various events that will be mounted that day. Should you feel “lost”, you may approach the marshals, volunteers or organized groups that will join the event.

3. Bring something to identify your group. Any group, big or small, deserves to be identified. It shows the breadth and inclusive character of the event. Bring your own signs or placards, or anything that would relay your personal or organizational message. Find creative ways to express your sentiments on the issue. Noisemakers such as whistles are also OK.

4. Set a rallying point, or “kitaan” for your group. Again, Luneta is big so it would be good to identify a spot or marker should you and your friends need to meet up or regroup after exploring the various activities. Organized groups usually use flags as markers so people won’t get lost.

5. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring some food and water. If you’re a big group, bring garbage bags too. Let’s help in keeping the park clean after the event. It’s a park so I think you can bring mats or small chairs.

6. There’s always a chance of rain nowadays so bring jackets and umbrellas just to be sure. Organized groups from schools, civic organizations and cause-oriented groups usually have provisions for first aid along with medical volunteers.

7. Document the event. This may be history unfolding. Post your pics and messages to help spread the word. This may not be the last protest and we may see each other again in the coming weeks.

8. Lastly, study the issue. Know that you are there fighting for something you believe in. Maybe not all things may be answered at the onset, and some questions may be answered as the day unfolds. What is important is that you go there because you are making a stand and are taking part in a collective undertaking. Collective action is a powerful force for change.

Photo from Interaksyon

1. The calls for abolishing pork barrel and holding accountable those involved in PDAF scam should be sharply addressed to the PH government, chiefly represented by the Aquino regime. Aquino should stop defending pork and those officials benefiting from it. Time to rechannel pork to public services. Time to mobilize all relevant government agencies from Ombudsman to DOJ, from the House of Representatives to the Senate, to flush out the truth and hold those involved accountable.

2. People can go to Luneta via different routes. There can be marches, motorcades, alay lakad, bikes and so on. Whatever mode suits you. All can converge in Luneta.

3. The place is big enough to accommodate all sorts of activities. There could be teach-ins, discussion groups, performances, street paintings, flash mobs and the like. We can maximize the venue so that people can express themselves in different ways.

4. The event should be inclusive and flexible enough to allow various forms of expression and outrage. Each form has its own attraction and advantage. Participants can choose what they think suits them.

5. A mobile sound system, even if there is no stage, is important to keep people updated and informed about the different activities. Groups can also bring their own portable sound systems for their events. Those attending as groups should be responsible for their community or contingents. Those attending as individuals should be welcomed and encouraged to join community activities.

6. At some point, there should be a common symbolic action where all participants can join in. The rally, the coming together, the symbolic action, will be our strongest message to the powers that be.

These are simple proposals that various groups and individuals can easily unite on for the success of the event.

Akbayan Rep. Arlene Bag-ao may have forfeited her position as partylist rep of Akbayan when she filed her certificate of candidacy as a member of the Liberal Party. Bag-ao is running for district representative in Dinagat. In her COC, it is clear she’s running under the Liberal Party. She was also recently appointed as congressional caretaker of Dinagat in the absence of its congressman. It was reported in the news that P140M in pork barrel funds were released while she was caretaker.

Sec 15 of the partylist law states that “any elected party-list representative who changes his political party or sectoral affiliation during his term of office shall forfeit his seat”.

The provision of the law is quite clear. There’s really no going around it.

Now if Rep. Bag-ao will say that dual-memebership is allowed, that she can be LP and Akbayan at the same time, then that exposes Akbayan’s duplicity. You can’t be marginalized on one hand and belong to the ruling party on the other. This is what we’ve been saying in the disqualification case vs Akbayan. The case of Rep. Bag-ao highlights the assertion that Akbayan is not a partylist representing the marginalized. It’s current rep in Congress is  member of and is running under the ruling party.

There is nothing wrong in stepping down now, just before the campaign period. When she steps down, the group’s next nominee can simply take her place. That is the proper thing to do. That is the principled thing to do. That is what the law requires.

Unless of course the caretaker role in Dinagat, and the PDAF that goes with it, has become more important than upholding the partylist law.

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ImageIsang zarzuela para sa kasalukyang panahon

 

Kapag tinanong mo ang mga kabataan ngayon kung anu ang ideya nila ng musical, malamang nakahulma ito sa mga programa tulad ng Glee o kaya’y yung mga broadway na dumadayo sa Pilipinas. Bibihira na siguro ang may alam sa zarzuela bilang isang porma ng teatro.

Kaya’t napapanahon ang pagtatanghal ng Walang Sugat ni Severino Reyes, sa direksyon ni Carlitos Siguon-Reyna. Pagkakataon itong ipakilala sa kasalukyang henerasyon ang zarzuela na dati nang bumighani sa mga manonood sa panahon ng kolonyalismong Kastila at Amerikano. Ang zarzeula ay isang dula na may mga awit at sayaw, malimit na tumatalakay sa pag-ibig bagama’t naka-konteksto sa mga panlipunang usapin at isyu. Halimbawa, ang mga kundiman tungkol sa magsing-irog, ay pumapatungkol din sa marubdog na pag-ibig sa bayan laban sa mga dayuhang mananakop.

 Pamilyar ang mga tema ng Walang Sugat, pagmamahalan sa gitna ng digmaan, sakripisyo, pagkawalay, at kontradiksyon ng indibidwal sa pamilya. Ito ang magdudulot ng magkahalong kilig at ligalig sa manonood. Sa payak na paghahambing, parang Glee  na subersibo; Romeo and Juliet na rebolusyonaryo.

Simple lang ang kwento ng Walang Sugat. Si Tenyong at Julia ay magkasintahan (at parang magpinsan din). Kumaharap ng matinding pagsubok ang kanilang pag-iibigan nang maaresto ang tatay ni Tenyong dahil sa mga pagkilos nito laban sa mga prayleng Kastila. Ang tatay ni Tenyong ay tinortyur nang matindi at nasa bingit na nang kamatayan nang abutan ni Tenyong at kanyang ina. Sa pagkamatay ng kanyang ama, si Tenyong ay nagpasyang sumama sa armadong pakikibakang inilulunsad ng Katipunan. Dito sila nagkahiwalay ni Julia.

Sa kanilang matagal na pagkawalay ay pinuwersa si Julia na ikasal sa ilustradong si Don Miguel. Bago ang nakatakdang kasal, pinahanap ni Julia si Tenyong sa dating alalay nito na si Lucas. Nahanap ni Lucas si Tenyong sa kampo ng mga rebelde at naipaabot ang masamang balita ng pwersahang pagpapakasal ni Julia kay Don Miguel. Pero bago pa man makatugon si Tenyong sa liham ni Julia, sinalakay ng mga Kastila ang kampo ng mga Katipunero. Nagkahiwalay si Lucas at Tenyong sa gitna ng labanan. Nakatanggap ng liham si Julia mula sa isang henral na malubhang nasugatan at nawawala ang batang Kapitan Tenyong.

Dumating na ang nakatakdang araw ng kasal at napilitan na rin si Julia na pumayag, sa pag-akalang patay na si Tenyong at sa kagustuhang hindi mapahiya ang kanyang ina. Engrandeng selebrasyon ang magaganap at nakatipon ang buong bayan. Pero bago mairaos ang seremonya, dumating si Lucas na may balitang nakita na si Tenyong pero agaw-buhay itong nakaratay sa katre. Dinala si Tenyong sa pinagdausan ng kasal ni Julia. Sa muling pagtatagpo ng magkasintahang sawi, hiniling ni Tenyong sa pari na, yaman din lamang na mamamatay na siya, ikasal na sila ni Julia. Sa pagkamatay daw ni Tenyong, maaari nang pakasalan ni Julia si Miguel.  Dahil mukhang matutuluyan na nga si Tenyong, pumayag na rin si Miguel sa kakaibang dying wish na Tenyong.

Kinasal si Tenyong at Julia ng paring Kastila. Matapos ang seremonya ng kasal, biglang tumayo si Tenyong, at lahat ay napamanghang sumigaw;  “Walang sugat! Walang sugat!”.

Ang pagsigaw na rin ang naiging senyales ng pag-aaklas ng taongbayan at pagkubkob ng mga rebolusyonaryo sa kabayanan. Inaresto ang mga prayle ang mga taga-suporta ng mga Kastila. Tagumpay na sana ang mga rebolusyonaryo nang sa kalayuaan ay biglang lumitaw ang imahe ng mga Amerikano, lulan ng kanilang barkong pandigma. Dinig sa malayo ang mga kanyon ng bagong dayuhang mananakop.

Nahati ang mga Pilipino. Ang mga ilustradong dating sunod-sunuran sa mga Kastila ay buong giliw na sumalubong sa mga bagong kolonyalista. Ang mga rebolusyaryong sina Tenyong, kasama si Julia, ay nanatiling hawak ang kanilang mga sandata.

Matatapos ang dula sa pag-awit ng “Bayan Ko”, at sa mensaheng patuloy ang paghihimagsik nina Tenyong. Iiwanan tayong medyo bitin, na parang di pa ganap na tapos ang kwento. Marahil ay sumasalamin ito sa tapos na pakikibaka para sa tunay at ganap na kalayaan mula sa paghahari ng dayuhan.

Ang huling eksenang ito ay orihinal na interpretasyon ng director na si Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, na sa unang pagkakataon ay nag-direct ng dula para sa entablado.

Para sa akin, rurok ng pagtatanghal ay ang pag-awit ng Bayan Ko, kapwa sa yugto nang magpasya na si Tenyong na lumahok sa armadong rebolusyon at sa pagtatapos ng dula kung saan nagpapatuloy pa rin sila sa pagrerebolusyon laban sa kolonyalismong Amerikano.

Sa Walang Sugat, ibinalik ang awit na Bayan Ko sa orihinal nitong anti-kolonyal na konteksto at pakahulugan. Halaw sa tulang Filipino na isinulat ni Jose Corazon de Jesus noong 1929– sa panahon ng kolonyalismong US– at nilapatan ng musika ni Constancio de Guzman, kilalang protest song ang “Bayan Ko”. Naging bahagi ito ng paglaban sa diktadurang US-Marcos hanggang sa EDSA 1. Sabi pa nga ng isang entry sa Wikipedia, “since the 1986 Revolution that toppled the Marcos government… the song has been associated with the Aquino family and their allies”.

Pero sa Walang Sugat, binalik tayo sa panahon ni Huseng Batute, kung saan ang pagnanasang malayang lumipad ay isang panawagan para sa ganap na paglaya mula sa dayuhang mananakop.

Tuwiran ang pagturan ng dula sa pangangailangan ng armadong paglaban kontra sa kolonyalismo. Bukod sa istorikal na batayan, ipinakita ng Walang Sugat ang pang-aabuso ng mga prayle, lalo na ang iligal na pag-aresto at tortyur ng mga bihag ng kumukontra sa Espanya. Ang partikular na tema ng pagrerebolusyon ay mananatili hanggang sa pinakahuli ng dula, nang hindi binitiwan nina Tenyong ang armas, kahit na ang mga ilustrado ay sumalubong na sa mga kolonyalistang Kano.

Isang ring mahusay at bagong aspeto ng dula ay ang salimbayan ng “masayang tagpo” ng paghahahnda ng mga pamilya para sa pagdalaw sa mga bihag, at ang malupit na pag-tortyur ng mga bihag sa utos ng mga prayle. Layon ng direktor na patingkarin ang “ilusyon” ng masayang pagkikita kontra sa realidad ng karahasan at tortyur.

Mahusay ang pagkakaganap ni Cris Villonco bilang Julia at ni Arman Ferrer bilang Tenyong. Si Cris Villongco, huli ko atang nakita sa mga anti-Arroyo rally sa Makati ilang taon na ang nakalipas. Malinaw ang kanyang bigkas sa mga linya at hindi matatawaran ang kalidad ng boses nya. Si Arman, ngayon ko lang napanood. Napahanga din ako sa boses nya. At hindi siguro madali yung ginagawa niya na masiglang nagwawagayway ng bandila habang ubos-kayang umaawit.

Mahusay din ang beteranong si Lou Veloso sa paggampan sa papel na Don Tadeo. Ilang dekada na sa teatro, telebisyona at pelikula si Veloso kaya medyo nadismaya ako nang ang reaksyon ng mga kabataan sa likod namin ay “sya yung fisherman sa Bourne Legacy”.

Naging matagumpay din ang unang tangka ni Direk Carlitos sa entablado. Ang anumang limitasyong teknikal at badyet ng produksyon ay nalagpasan naman ng husay ng paglalahad ng kwento. Kapansin-pansin halimbawa ang paggamit ni Carlitos ng contrast sa mga eksena ng pagdalaw sa bilanguan at tortyur ng mga bilanggo, gayundin ang pagsalubong ng mga ilustrado sa mga Amerikanong mananakop at ang paglaban nina Tenyong sa bagong kolonyalista. Ang mga ito’y sariling interpretasyon ng direktor para lalong tumining ang kabuluhan ng mga eksenang nabanggit.

Ang Walang Sugat ay nararapat na muling itanghal at mapanood ng mas malawak na audience. Tiyak kong maiintindihan at masasapul ito maging ng mga nakababatang henerasyong nasanay na sa mga dayuhang musical. Sa palagay ko’y mainam na mapanood ito, hindi lamang ng mga patron ng sining na dumadayo sa CCP, kundi maging ng ordinaryong mamamayan, mga manggagawa, magbubukid, mga maralita. May maaaring mahalagang ambag ang dula na ito sa pag-aangat ng makabayang kamulatang lubos na kailangan sa panahon ngayon. ###

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