What Is Obama’s Take On North Borneo (Sabah) Standoff?

By Joseph Lariosa

“Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land.”
-Lolo Soetero Mangunharjo, stepfather of President Barack Obama (“Dreams from My  Father”) © 1995

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – Barack Obama was probably in the third or fourth grade of his impressionable years in the late sixties in Jakarta, Indonesia when he asked his stepfather Lolo (Soetero Mangunharjo) if he ever saw a man killed.

Lolo answered, “Yes.” And Barack asked again, “Was it bloody?” Lolo answered, “Yes.”In his book, Dreams from My Father (Random House, 1995/Kodansha Globe 1996), the grade school boy, who would be the 44th United States President, asked again, “Why was the man killed? The one you saw?”

Lolo answered, “Because he was weak. That’s all. That’s usually enough. Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land. He makes the weak man work in his fields. If the weak man’s woman is pretty, the strong will take her.” He paused to sip water, then, asked, “Which would you rather be?”

“I didn’t answer,” Obama said, and Lolo squinted up at the sky. “Better to be strong,” he said finally rising to his feet. “If you can’t be strong, be clever and make peace with someone who’s strong. But always better to be strong yourself. Always.”

These quotes from Mr. Obama’s bestseller reminded me of the attempt of some 200 heirs and followers of the Sultan of Sulu, who tried to reclaim North Borneo or Sabah from Malaysia. Among them were several dozens of Royal Army of Sultan bodyguards.

Instead of negotiating with Sultan of Sulu landlords, the Malaysian Army used all its might and attacked the members of the Royal Army. Malaysia used a sledgehammer, instead of a flyswatter, by killing several dozens of the helpless Filipino landowners. Less than a dozen Malaysian policemen were also killed. 

But Malaysian Army kept on attacking the Filipinos, despite appeals of the United Nations  for a ceasefire, and violated the human rights of the Filipinos, who were arrested.

The young Obama’s nearly four-year stay in Indonesia gave him a brief knowledge of history of Indonesia, which was colonized for centuries by Netherlands (Dutch) and the Japanese during World War II.

OBAMA KNOWS THE REGION IS OIL RICH

In his book, Mr. Obama wrote, “[b]efore leaving Hawaii, she (his mother Stanley Ann Dunham) had tried to learn all she could about Indonesia: the population, fifth in the world, with hundreds of tribes and dialects; the history of colonialism, first the Dutch for over three centuries, then the Japanese during the war, seeking control over vast stores of oil, metal, and timber; the fight for independence after the war and the emergence of a freedom fighter named Sukarno as the country’s first president.”

So, if Mr. Obama would be provided with intelligence by his national security advisers on how to handle the peaceful-turned-bloody take over of North Borneo by the Sultan’s Royal Army, he does need a lot of introduction.

All Mr. Obama needed to be told was that North Borneo or Sabah was the former real estate property of Sultan of Brunei, who ceded Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu for extending protection of the Sultan of Brunei.

But because Brunei struck oil in 1920’s and the oil is still flowing to this day, the neighboring North Borneo has suddenly become a hotly contested property.

Finding the Sultan of Sulu vulnerable from the attack of Spanish colonizers, Austrian Consul Baron von Overbeck tricked the Sultan of Sulu into signing a lease treaty with the Sultan on Jan. 22, 1878. The treaty was written in Malay language written in Arabic script. The agreement gave Overbeck the authority to administer North Borneo estate with a very paltry lease amount – an annual payment of 5,000 Mexican pesos (now Malaysian Ringgit).

This is exactly what Lolo meant when he told the young Obama, “Men take advantage of weakness of other men. They’re just like countries that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land.”

NO ONE-YEAR ADVANCED NOTICE, NO TREATY SIGNED BY U.S. & GB

Despite the revocation of the lease agreement in September 1878 by the Sultan of Sulu, a Protocol of March 7, 1885 was allegedly hatched among Great Britain, Germany and Spain. For unknown reason, the Protocol let Spain renounce “as far as regards the British government, all claims of sovereignty over the territory of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu (Jolo) and which comprise the neighboring islands … from the coast, and which form part of the territories administered by the company styled the British North Borneo Company.”

But Mr. Obama will find out that this “Protocol of March 7, 1885” became a worthless scrap of paper when Great Britain tried to ask the United States to transfer North Borneo to Great Britain after the United States signed the Treaty of Peace of 1898 with Spain after U.S. payment of $20-M to Spain, ceding the Philippines and Sulu Archipelago, including North Borneo, to the United States.

Question, if the Protocol of March 7, 1885 was in effect why did Great Britain still ask the U.S. to transfer North Borneo to British administration when the U.S. and Great had the Exchange of Notes of July 3 and 10, 1907 and Jan. 2, 1930 Convention?

According to the Jan. 2, 1930 Convention, “Firstly, the said company (BNBC) be left undisturbed in the administration of the islands (North Borneo) in question unless or until the United States Government give notice to His Majesty’s Government of their desire that the administration of the islands should be transferred to them. The transfer of administration shall be effected within one year after such notice is given on a day and a in a manner to be mutually arranged.”

Its Art. V says, “The present Convention shall be ratified by the President of the United States of America, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by His Britannic Majesty, and shall come into force on the exchange of the acts of ratification, which shall take place at Washington as soon as possible.”

There was no “one year such notice … given and a manner to be mutually arranged” and there was no such ratification by the President of the USA and advice and consent of the Senate and by His Britannic Majesty” on June 26, 1946 when the British North Borneo Company entered into an agreement with the British Government, transferring its interests, powers and rights over to the British Crown to become State of North Borneo. No wonder, the International Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that there was no such transfer.

( lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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Plunder case against Governor Raul Lee et al.

 

Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Quezon City

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-C-12-0355
FOR: Violation of R.A. 3019
Section 3, Paragraphs (a) and (g)

RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Land Bank Legaspi Office
RENATO G. EJE Vice President,
Land Bank of the Philippines,
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-A-12-0373
FOR: Dishonesty and Grave
Misconduct
RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

REPLY

Comes now Complainant, unto this Honorable Office most respectfully avers that:

1. Respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje would like to point out that the loan was duly approved and evaluated by the different channels of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) approving authority – from the recommendation of the Account Officer to the approval of different signing authorities, to show that there could not be any conspiracy between Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee and some officials of the LBP (See paragraph 3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje). With all due respect, NO EVIDENCE has been presented to prove this allegation;

2. Paragraphs 4.1; 4.2; and 4.3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje are correct statement of facts. Paragraph 4.4 is not known to the Complainant while paragraph 4.5 is an anomalous allegation designed only to circumvent the evidences at hand and make it appear that (i) there was no conspiracy and that the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP loan is advantageous to the Provincial Government when in truth, it was not;

2.1 For instance, respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje said in paragraph 4.5 mentioned in their Counter Affidavit, they sent a second letter to Governor Lee dated March 30, 2011 with an offer of interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market (See paragraph 4.5 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje);

“4.5 The Land Bank-LC, thru respondent Manzanades, sent its first offer letter on March 07, 2011 offering an interest rate of 7.0% and the second one on March 30, 2011 with an interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market. The said letter of Land Bank dated March 07, 2011 states that all other charges shall be waived.”

2.2 With all due respect, the alleged letter contains no receipt of the Office of the Governor. In fact, in Annex “6” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Manzanades and Eje, undersigned complainant brought to the attention of the respondents that I was asking for the letter-proposals of the PNB and LBP but this Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was not among those submitted even to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (See paragraph 1 item 1 of the Annex “6”);

“During the last Regular Session April 11, 2011 there was an overwhelming majority (SPM Benito L. Doma, SPM Berand Hao, SPM Angel E. Escandor, SPM Arnulfo L. Perete, SPM Rebecca D. Aquino, SPM Francisco G. Frivaldo, SPM Renato V. Guban, SPM Franco Eric O. Ravanilla and SPM Nelson Marana) except the undersigned who voted in favor of the Committee Report no.27-2011 of the Committee on Budget and Appropriation joint with the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Amendments in favor of a measure authorizing Gov. Raul R. Lee to enter into a loan agreement to any banking/lending institution in the amount of P350.0 million loan and disregarding my valid objection, on the following grounds:

1. There is still a pending motion referred to the said joint Committee to tackle the undersigned letter dated April 2, 2011 requesting for copies of the letter proposals from both the Philippine National Bank and the Land Bank of the Philippinesmitted and received, Governor Lee would not have made a letter dated May 17, 2011 (Annex “K” of my Complaint) addressed to Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero submitting the proposed Loan Agreement from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for perusal, review and ratification as well as the proposed PNB Loan Agreement requested by the Governor to be ratified (Annex “L” of my Complaint);

2.4 Even granting without admitting that Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was submitted, the allegations in paragraph 4.5 that all charges shall be waived according to Annex “4” are NOT CORRECT. Review of Annexes “4” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit reveal the truth.

“Fees : 1% handling and ½ % commitment fees, inspection, and appraisal/application fees are waived. Pre-payment fee of 3% shall also be waived but it shall be collected in case of loan take-out by other banks and if required by special financing program.”

2.5 Worst, when the two (2) Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 and Omnibus Loan Term) with LBP was executed, all these fees that should have been waived but are actually still included in Section 5 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Section 5 of Omnibus Loan Term of Annex “15”, as follows:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 5. Other Fees and Charges: Subject to a 3% pre-payment penalty in case of loan take out by other banks or as required by the Special Funder. Commitment handling, filing/processing & appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. GRT for the account of the LGU.”

And

Omnibus Loan Term

“Section 5. Fees/Charges. Commitment, handling, filing/processing and appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. The LOAN shall be subject to a pre-payment penalty of three percent (3%) In case of loan take-out by other banks or if required by Special Funder.”

2.6 What about the alleged offer of 5.061% by Respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez Department Manager/Head, Legazpi LC contained in the letter dated March 30, 2011, marked as Annex “5” in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, the same has never happened, on Section 4 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Omnibus Term Loan of Annex “15” provides thus:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 4. Interest: Prevailing prime rate at the time of availment plus 1% min. spread, provided a minimum of 3% Account Profitability Rate (APR) is met. Subject to quarterly repricing or at applicable special financing rate if special funds is accessed.

And

Omnibus Term Loan

“Section 4. Interest Rate/s. Interest of the LOAN shall be equivalent to LENDER’S prevailing prime rate at the time of availment at applicable special financing rates, if funded under special financing program. Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) shall be for account of the BORROWER.

2.7 Respondent Manzanes offer of 5.061% has become an illusion. It is no longer found in any of the two LBP Loan Agreements (marked in the Annexes “14” and “15” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje) both signed by Respondent Governor Lee and Respondent LBP Vice President Renato G. Eje.

Unfortunately, Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan namely Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando David H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao, Patrick Q. Rodrigueza did not exert effort nor initiated action to secure a concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rates set by the Central Bank’s standard reference rate, thereby violating Article 395 paragraph C of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code (R.A. 7160) which provides thus:

“Government financial and other lending institutions are authorized to grant Local Government Units such loans, credit lines, advances, and other forms of indebtedness for projects and purposes referred in paragraph (B) hereof, preferably at concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing rates as may be authorized by the governing board of the financial or lending institution.

Prevailing rates shall mean the Central Bank standard reference rate for medium-and long-term loans.”

3. With their admissions on their Counter-Affidavits and Omnibus Joint Counter Affidavits’ of Respondents Gov. Lee, Vice Gov. Escudero, Board Members Aquino, Duran, Perete, Ravanilla, Escandor, Doma, Hao and Rodrigueza about the truth regarding the existence of the PNB proposal (marked as Annex “J” of my Complaint) and the fact that the latter was the one most advantageous to the Provincial Government an offense for violation of Section 3(a and g) of R.A. No. 3019 was indeed committed, thus:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
xxxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

4. Indeed, with the admission of the truth that the PNB proposal of five percent (5%) is most advantageous than 5.061% of LBP but was never acted upon by the Provincial Government and by the Respondents, the evidence of guilt of respondents are strong enough to warrant immediate preventive suspension from the office.

5. The undersigned would like to respectfully reiterate that in a Letter dated July 5, 2012 (marked as Annex “N” in my Complaint) of Dominador O. Jardin, Prov’l. Gov’t. Dept. Head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), addressed to the undersigned complainant, he stated that his Office could NOT come upon any feasibility study of the list of projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, farm to market roads and tourism facilities funded in the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan from available existing records. These only shows that the PPDO officer nor his office was made a part of the official action of the provincial government to come up with the decision to justify and substantiate the loan application for some “priority projects“ of respondents.

6. Worst, based on the Letter dated June 1, 2012 (marked as Annex “V” in my Complaint) of Provincial Treasurer Efilda C. Nogales and Provincial Accountant Mercedes J. Ativo duly noted by Respondent Gov. Lee, the Provincial Government had ALREADY PAID an amount of SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925, 948.61) to various contractors.

In sum, the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP Loan resulted in grave irreparable damage and prejudice to the Sorsogon taxpayers.

In view of the said acts of Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando Dave H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao and Patrick Q. Rodrigueza, they should also be held liable for violation of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 or “An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder, thus:

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties – Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Complainant respectfully prays of the Honorable Office to institute the appropriate charges against Respondents and in the meantime order their immediate preventive suspension from the office;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines. Affiant exhibited to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

ADMINISTERING OFFICER

 

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The politics of an executive order

Marginal Note

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com

At this early takers of greening position in local politics here in the province of Sorsogon are throwing stones with their possible opponents by way of couched personal interest, using position held by a family member who were given a woeful feedback on how to upend the incumbency in a position of influence and power.

For lately, legislative fiat is being secured by a woman chief executive inviting attention to its supervisory power over barangay affairs specifically in the monitoring of national funded projects. The scheme was seen as an early fireworks to the floated interest of her husband who is aiming the seat of an incumbent representative.

Disguising its family intent by way of an executive order was too much for the taking of the provincial board where sitting committee members were heard that its all about politics and nothing more. The exercise was futile, though arguing certain provisions of the local government code which was interpreted to suit its political purposes.

It was a dismal performance by the lady chief executive and her staff who argued their cause but who willfully misinterpreted the exact provisions of the local government code. The committee does not want to be in the crossfire for 2013 is just about in the corner, thus doing the explaining is the provincial director of the interior and local government, supplying the missing, omitted provisions of the local government code with regard to the role, duties and responsibilities of a chief executive.

Pity for the executive order is full of antagonistic ideas to the sitting congressman and did put to test the position of the engineering district, thus the value of loyalty was opened.

Creating a technical monitoring team was too good to be true, it was the icing of the executive order, but the biggest chunk of the take is to negate the authority of an independent local government executive to accept a finish project in his barangay funded out from the national treasury specifically, congressional funds. That was the rub, and the play of the executive order is rubbish for it overstep its limitations and intends to transgress upon a legal authority to function as clearly defined in the local government code.

Taking the issue of corruption and using the line of the present administration of ‘matuwid na daan’ the executive order falls smack in the face of the executive, but do not blame her, it was her husband who purloined the interest by his ilks in the municipal government. He counts his people for he served nine long dubious years and the wife is currently on her last term in their moonless town.

Here’s another rub, at the hearing, she was overheard name-dropping a cabinet secretary who according to her is a relative, as if pushing out the contradiction of the provincial director of the interior and local government for their department is the same. But, to no avail.

Their object of ire is a man who do’esnt expect to win but took the seat from under for his district believed that he performed far better as local chief executive that his contenders.

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DILG closes the political intent of Bulan town executive

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/29-Feb-12) – The day of the hearts was not too good for the lady executive of Bulan town here when the joint committee of rules, privileges and amendments and the committee on public works, highways and infrastructure of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon treated the core issues of Executive Order No. 1, Series of 2012 issued by the Mayor Helen de Castro which was based on Article III, section 32 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which speaks of general supervision.

The executive order requires and enjoins all public infrastructure and other projects within the direct supervision of the local chief executive . . . especially those implemented in the barangays before acceptance should be inspected and evaluated first by the municipal government.It also created a project monitoring team tasked to recommend for the final acceptance of the project. The committees at the onset set the tone of clarification, distancing themselves from the perilous issues of politics and instead tasked the DILG Provincial Director, Dr. Ruben Baldeo, to explain the limitations of an executive in executing administrative laws.

His explanation, doused cold water to the politically couched executive order.

DILG Baldeo’s observations said, that “supervising officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but by themselves do not lay down the rules, nor they have the discretion to modify or replace them”.further stating that “if the rules are not observed, they may order the work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules”, in effect interpreting for Mayor de Castro the intentions and applications of Article III, Section 32, which the town executive interpreted to suit a political need.

Her executive order further laid down rules and regulations that limit the performance of the function of concerned barangay, in effect exercising control over the punong barangay which will limit the authority of the punong barangay.

Baldeo’s likewise zeroed in the creation of the executive order of a project monitoring team which he opined runs counter with the DILG MC 2004-78, subject of which is the organization/reactivation of project monitoring teams in the local government units, for it does not conform with the mandatory membership as provided for in the circular.

The circular has a mandatory membership for a project monitoring team that includes the DILG official assigned in the locality, two NGO or PO’s representative and four members to be appointed by the local chief executive from among five nominees of the local development council.

De Castro’s monitoring team came from the municipal engineering office. BicolToday.com

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Why soldiers don’t retaliate vs enemies

By

11:22 pm | Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

“You hit one of us, you hit all of us. We will come after you.”

Those brave, fighting words came from Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, addressing the gunmen who killed eight civilians and a policeman and wounded 12 other civilians in an ambush at Las Castellana town, Negros Occidental province.

If that stern warning was addressed to the New People’s Army (NPA), it sounded hollow and full of hot air.

In the past, NPA guerrillas had ambushed and killed many soldiers and cops, but government troops hardly retaliated.

Of course, press statements were made by the government after numerous soldiers or policemen were killed that troops were in hot pursuit of the NPA or Moro rebels who staged the ambush.

But those press statements were not followed up with news that government troops had avenged the deaths of their comrades.

* * *

Retaliation by government troops for the deaths of their comrades never happened because soldiers or policemen are confined to their barracks or police stations because of the peace talks with the rebels.

Besides—and this is more significant—the morale of soldiers in the field is very low.

Why? Because their personal welfare, as well as those of their families, is not attended to by the government.

For example, when a soldier is seriously wounded in battle and is treated at the Armed Forces or V. Luna Medical Center, he or his family is asked to buy his own medicines that are not available in the hospital’s pharmacy.

The soldier and his family are told the government will reimburse them for the medicines they buy outside the V. Luna Hospital pharmacy.

To an underpaid soldier, who has a family to feed and children to send to school, buying medicines is a big drain on his pocket.

And, by the way, the reimbursement for his medicines comes many months after he leaves the hospital.

And if the soldier is killed, his family has a hard time getting his pension.

Worse, a gigolo at the AFP Finance Center in Camp Aguinaldo seduces the dead soldier’s widow and runs away with the pension.

Now, if you were a soldier who is ordered to go after the rebels who killed your comrades-in-arms in an ambush, would you go after their killers hammer and tongs, given the situations I just mentioned?

* * *

During my father’s time, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) took care of the medical needs of soldiers and their dependents.

My father was with the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC), one of the AFP’s major services, and he and his dependents—my mom and us, his children—enjoyed complete medical coverage.

When one of the children was sick—which was often since there were 10 of us—we were sent to the military doctor who was assigned in every PC camp.

Soldiers who were severely wounded in combat were flown to Manila to be treated at the Camp Crame General Hospital or the V. Luna Medical Center.

It was unthinkable then for a soldier wounded in combat to complain that his needs were not met.

* * *

If those gunmen who ambushed and killed or wounded innocent civilians were members of the New People Army (NPA), they have lost whatever moral ascendancy they claim they have over the civilian populace.

How can the NPAs now claim they protect the poor and the oppressed when they slaughter them?

Most of the sympathizers and supporters of the NPA come from the ranks of citizens disgruntled over the uneven justice system and the apathy of government towards their plight.

If indeed the gunmen who murdered innocent civilians in La Castellana are members of the NPA, they can no longer hide from the authorities.

The civilians who harbor them will tell on them. It will be the beginning of the end of the NPA.

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President Aquino’s visit in Zürich

President Benigno Aquino III’s visit to this ice – covered  Zürich last Saturday, January 26, was brief and concise as he gave a summary of his WEF participation in Davos and the progress achieved to date of his administration. It was a relaxed atmosphere in that morning in Renaissance Hotel Zürich where Filipinos – most of them also holders of Swiss passport – from all over Switzerland and the Liechtenstein flocked happily to meet personally their President.

There was a sense of pride all over the place for this time Filipinos were expecting to hear the good news coming from the President himself – good news this time about the growing economy, fight against corrupt government officials, etc. It is true that as we change our views and attitudes toward our system, we also change the same of the world upon us. The Philippine’s international image has been upgraded since President Benigno Aquino assumed office. And the Swiss are aware of the positive changes happening in our country and that’s really what affects the Filipinos in their daily life here in Switzerland. It’s amazing how the Swiss people react this way, this from the people whose country still has the best performing economy and institutions the world over. There are much to be learned from the Swiss system of governance, democracy and entrepreneurship. And the Filipino community here desires also only the best for our country – the Swiss way as much as possible.

President Aquino lauded the Filipino community here as being one of the most respected and appreciated foreign groups in Switzerland who contribute also to the stability of both the Swiss and Philippine economies. Not to forget that the old Swiss humanitarian tradition –  Switzerland being the birthplace of the  International Red Cross-  also has long found its niche in every Filipino residing here. Swiss-Filipinos, through their respective local organizations, are on the frontline when it comes to helping disaster victims in the Philippines.

The visit was short for the President had to catch his plane homeward bound after lunch. And so there was no more forum to throw questions such as the Enrile Problem and the current mess at the Senate where senators quarrel over their financial “Christmas” gifts, the ongoing talks with the Bansangmoro, the communist insurgency, etc.

We hope that President Aquino would realize much of his development plan for our country during his term, the institutionalisation of the reforms achieved to prevent the rollbacking to the old ways of Wang-wang mentality, to the self- serving government and public officials of the past administrations.

At the end of his speech was picture-taking. The Filipinos and some Swiss nationals who were present did not hesitate to be photographed beside President Aquino, another proof of his international popularity and trust to his intentions. Yes, public service is public trust.

jun asuncion

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(photos by junasun)

Related news extracted from the President’s official communication websites:

Aquino accepts donation from Filipino community in Switzerland for victims of Typhoon PabloJanuary 27, 2013

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III thanked the Filipino community from Switzerland and Lichtenstein for extending aid to victims of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.

An initial check worth 8,650 Swiss francs was turned over to the President during his meeting with the Filipino community here.

“Marami pong nag-donate ng konting halaga para sa mga biktima ng bagyong Pablo na tumalasa sa ating bansa noong nakaraang buwan. Noong nalaman po nilang darating kayo dito sa Switzerland, ninais po naming magbigay pa ulit ng kaunti pang tulong,” Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja said in his remarks.

The initial donation, however, was increased to 9,050 Swiss francs.

During his speech, the President lauded the members of the Filipino community for their donation. “Lampas po sa halaga na ipinagkaloob niyo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Bagyong Pablo, talaga naman pong napapadama niyo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa,” President Aquino said.

The President said that the donation is the best present that they could give to the Filipinos in the country. “‘Yun po ang talagang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas,” he said.

President Aquino met with the Filipino communities in Switzerland and Lichtenstein before his return to Manila following his successful participation to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

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President Aquino calls on Filipino Overseas Workers in Switzerland to uniteJanuary 27, 2013

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the members of the Filipino community here to unite and continue to tread the straight path as he moves to implement the various reforms needed to effect the country’s march towards progress and development.

The Chief Executive, who arrived here to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum from January 23 to 27, spearheaded the greet-and-meet activity with the Filipino community at the Renaissance Hotel here to personally oversee their condition.

In his speech, the President shared the positive changes and the economic developments back home during the last two and a half years of his administration, including the confidence of the international community in the Philippines, and the stock market’s remarkable performance that keeps the country’s resiliency despite the global crisis.

The President told members of the Filipino community present during the event that the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has continued to grow despite the global economic crisis. “Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa,” he said.

The country’s GDP has expanded by 7.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012. The stock market index also posted record highs 70 times. “Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index,” he said.

“Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange.”

The President expressed hope that the stock market index will reach the 6,500 level by next month, particularly on his birthday, and the 7,000 level by year-end. “Palagay ko, hindi pa naman ito nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan,” he said.

The President also cited the confidence of the international community in the Philippines as evidenced by the influx of investors who have already expressed their interest to invest in the country.

“Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan,” he stressed.

“Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito –mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology, iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya –’Sali naman kami diyan,’” he added.

President Aquino likewise mentioned the reforms in the judiciary, and the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo; higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam,” he said.

During his speech, The President called on Filipino overseas workers for a continued support.

“Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela –itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala –ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa,” he said.

“Kaya nga po, karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundo –bawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma–kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakiki-ambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran,” he said.

President Aquino noted that with his move to keep the country toward a straight path, the Philippines has indeed changed. “Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas,” he said.

“Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung bibisita kayo sa atin, ‘Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?’ Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y makakauwi: ‘Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito,” he said.

In closing, the President thanked the Filipino community of Switzerland for their warm welcome despite the cold weather. “Kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino,” he said.

“Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po ninyo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon,” he concluded.

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President Aquino says holding of 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum in the Philippines to put country in the world mapJanuary 26, 2013

DAVOS, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino said the holding of the 2014 East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Philippines will put the country in the “center stage of the world map.” The President echoed this statement as he announced that he has accepted the offer for the Philippines to host the WEF East Asia Summit next year.

President Aquino arrived in Davos, Switzerland last Thursday to attend this year’s WEF Annual Meeting from January 23 to 27. His attendance to the annual meeting provided him the opportunity to highlight the Philippines as an investment haven and tourist destination for the benefit of the country and the Filipino people as a whole.

“We agree to host the East Asia Summit for the WEF in 2014,” the President said following his successful attendance at the conclusion of the WEF annual meeting.

He noted that when the East Asia Summit for WEF is held in the Philippines next year, the participants would be experiencing a warmer weather compared to the freezing weather condition experienced by the participants attending this year’s WEF annual meeting.

The President pointed out that the holding of the 2014 East Adia Mummit for WEF in the Philippines would certainly benefit the country and the Filipino people as a whole.

“It puts us at the center stage of the world map for that period, which is something like July or so. The details will have to be worked out, it was offered to us and I accepted hosting the event,” he stressed.

The President, who was visibly animated by his successful participation at the WEF Annual meeting which was participated in by global leaders, chief executive officers, top business financial executives and other stakeholders from Europe and other parts of the world said the best meeting he had attended was the roundtable luncheon meeting arranged by the Ayala Corporation.

The roundtable meeting was attended by chief executive officers and top businessmen not only from Europe but also from other parts of the globe representing a wide array of businesses.

“We were able to touch base with so many other leaders of various countries like the Dutch Prime Minister,” the President said.

He said that one of the entities who was in the roundtable meeting is sending a team to the Philippines anytime this year to look and explore areas that they would be interested in.

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Speech of President Aquino during his meeting with the Filipino community in Switzerland, January 26, 2013

Talumpati ng Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III Pangulo ng Pilipinas Sa pakikipagpulong niya sa mga Pilipino sa Suwisa

[Inihayag sa Zurich, Suwisa, noong ika-26 ng 2013]

Maraming salamat po. Maupo ho tayong lahat.

Secretary Albert del Rosario; Ambassador Leslie Baja; Secretary Cesar Purisima, baka hindi po n’yo po alam, Secretary of Finance natin; Secretary Greg Domingo of the Department of Trade and Industry; of course, marami raw hong fans ‘yung susunod na ipapakilala ko sa inyo, si Secretary Butch Abad, [laughter and applause] Marami raw hong taga-Batanes dito. Patay na. Hindi ka na uli mananalo ulit. Butch, nandito na lahat ang botante mo. [Laughter]

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras [applause]; atin pong Director General, Secretary Arsenio Belisacan ng NEDA; [applause] si Secretary Carandang, kilala na ho n’yo siguro, hindi ko na ipapakilala; [applause] Ambassador Evan Garcia; Ambassador Esteban Conejos; Mr. Bill Luz; members of the Filipino Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein—tama ho ba? [Applause]

Honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Pagpunta ko dito, talagang tinuruan akong mabuti kung paano magbalot ng husto dahil malamig raw ho sa Davos, pero sabi ho ni Butch Abad, pareho lang sa Batanes. [Laughter] Basta may bagyo at madaling araw sa bandang Enero at naka-short pants ka lang, ganoon kalamig raw sa Batanes. [Laughter] Pero talaga naman hong napakainit ng pagsalubong n’yo. At alam naman ho n’yo— pangatlong araw ba natin dito? Pang-apat? Pang-apat na araw. Pasensiya na ho kayo. Pinaalis kami ng Pilipinas kasi, alas-onse ng gabi. Kaya counted na raw ‘yong one day. Tapos pagbalik ko, siyempre, bibigyan kami ng mga limang oras, balik sa mga problemang hinaharap natin, pero ang init ng pagsalubong n’yo, sulit na rin hong walang tulog, gininaw, pero marami hong nangyari. Kaya ulit, maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. [Applause]

Ngayong naimbitahan po tayo dito sa Switzerland, naalala ko po, 1982 pa pala nang huli kong madanas ang winter. Sa bahay pa po namin iyon sa Boston noong naka-exile po ang buong pamilya namin. At kapag taglamig po ay talagang natatabunan ng yelo ang mga kalsada sa lugar po namin.

Sa mga pagkakataon pong iyon, bilang panganay at paboritong anak na lalaki ng aking mga magulang… [laughter] Kita n’yo, sang-ayon ho kayo, di ba? [Laughter] Ako po ang itinuturing na “tigas” sa aming pamilya: tiga-shovel, [laughter] tagapala ng snow, tigasilab ng apoy sa fireplace, tigalinis ng kotse, taga-alaga ng aso, at marami pang iba. [Laughter] Kaya ako ang pinakatigas ho doon. Minsan-minsan ho, tigasaing rin. [Laughter]

Kuwento ko na rin ho sa inyo: Dahil sa totoo naman ho, noong nag-aaral ako, ‘di naman itinuro ‘yong paano mag-saing eh. So sabi ng kapatid kong babae, kumuha ka ng ganito karaming bigas, tatapatan mo ng ganito karaming tubig, ilalagay mo sa rice cooker, i-on mo ‘to, ‘pag naluto, titigil ‘yan. [Laughter] Mayroon naman ho tayong titulo—kaya ko ‘yan. So, nagkataon ho, wala ‘yong nanay ko, wala ‘yong mga kapatid kong babae, kami lang ho ng tatay ko nasa bahay, siya paparating, ako tagaluto ngayon. Noong kinakain na po namin ‘yong aking isinaing na bigas, naging kanin, habang sinusubo ko, sabi ko, “Ba’t kaya ganito lasa nito, parang mapulbo?” [Laughter] Nakalimutan hong sabihin na kailangan palang linisin ‘yung bigas, [laughter] bago ilagay ‘yung tubig. Buti na lang ho, gutom ang tatay ko, ‘di na niya napansin. [Laughter] Pero nabawian naman po niya ako. Niluto niya kasi sa akin ‘yung bistek. Tapos eh, siyempre ho, ‘di ba wala namang kalamansi sa Boston. Pero ang sarap ho—tama ‘yung alat, tama ‘yung asim. Ang galing ng tatay ko talaga pati pagluto. Sabi ko, “Dad, galing mo palang magluto.” Sagot sa akin, “Wala kang bilib eh.” Kinabukasan, hinatid ko sa airport, mag-isa lang po ako. Tapos, mayroon ho akong binili kasing Lea & Perrins na sarsa the day before. Nagtataka ako, bagung-bago ‘yung bote, noong umalis ang tatay ko, wala na hong laman. Kaya pala tama ang timpla nitong bistek, ibinuhos lang niya ‘yung sarsa. [Laughter] Maabilidad ho talaga ‘yong tatay ko.

Alam n’yo ho, matagal na nga ho ako uling hindi nakaranas ng winter. Tapos, kailangan kong malaman ulit ‘yung, ano nga ang kailangang gawin para ‘di masyadong ginawin? So, tulad nga ho ngayon, iniisip ko kung kakaharapin ko kayo, iniisip ko po, kung anong magiging attire ko sa pagharap sa inyo, lalo na ngayong medyo hindi na ho kasing kapal ‘yong buhok natin. [Laughter] Sabi ko, “Magsusuot ako ng sweater. Papatungan natin ng coat; lagyan pa natin ng overcoat; [Laughter] maglalagay na rin ako ng ski mask, gloves, at mayroon pang matching scarf galing kay Kris.” Pero hindi ko na po itinuloy na isuot lahat ito. Baka naman ‘pag nakita n’yo ako, sabihin n’yo, “Sino kaya nagpanggap na Pangulo ng Pilipinas na ‘yan? [Laughter] Hindi namin makita ‘yung mukha.” [Laughter] So tiisin ko na lang ho ‘yong lamig, para sigurado kayong ako ‘yong katapat n’yo at hindi snowman. [Laughter]

Pero alam ho n’yo, kahit ano pang kapal ng ating isuot, wala pa rin pong hihigit sa init ng pagsalubong ng mga kababayan nating Pilipino. [Applause] Kaya naman po, maraming salamat ulit sa pagyakap ninyo sa amin ngayong hapon; talaga pong napaka-warm ng welcome po n’yo, talagang napapawi ang ginaw at pagod ng buo nating delegasyon.

Higit po sa lahat, nagagalak po kaming lahat makabisita rito at malaman na hindi lamang nasa mabuting kalagayan ang ating mga kababayan, kung hindi nagpapakitang-gilas din sa kanya-kanyang larangan. Nurse man o doktor, hotel worker o driver, accountant o manager, anuman pong propesyon, bilib at pinagkakatiwalaan po ang mga Pilipino dito sa Switzerland at sa Liechtenstein. [Applause] Sabi nga ho ni Ambassador Baja, kulang na lang po magsabit tayo ng banner sa convoy na nagsasabing, “Proud to be Pinoy.” [Applause] Sa tuwing may foreign trip po tayo at makakahalubilo ang ating mga kababayan, talagang taas-noo po ang mga Pilipino.

Hindi na nga po palaisipan: pagkalooban mo lang ang Pinoy ng kaalaman, kasanayan, at karanasan; ipuwesto mo lang ang Pinoy sa tamang lugar o kalagayan; bigyan mo lang ang Pinoy ng sapat na panahon, magpapakitang-gilas po tayo talaga. [Applause] Siyempre po, pinapatunayan ninyo ito; at pinapatunayan din ito ng mga Pilipino sa bawat panig ng mundo.

Sa kabilang banda naman, napapaisip din po ako: Bakit sa hinaba-haba ng panahon, hindi madala-dala sa ganitong ideyal na kalagayan ang kabuoan ng Pilipinas? Bakit may mga Pilipino pa ring isang kahig, isang tuka? Tila hindi dumarating ang nilaga, kahit buong-buhay nang nagtitiyaga?

Iyan nga po ang binabago natin sa Pilipinas ngayon. Inaayos natin ang mga kundisyon; ang gusto po natin, kung magbanat ka ng buto, tiyak kang aasenso. Inaalis na natin ang sistema kung saan ang umaangat lang sa buhay ay ang mga may kuneksyon, ang mga kayang manuhol, o ang mga nakakasikmura ng pandaraya. [Applause]

Napatingin ho si Jake ng relo niya, baka maiwan na ho kami ng eroplano. [Laughter] Huwag kang mag-alala, Jake. Papaspasan natin ‘to. Baka malagay pa tayong absent sa Lunes.

Nagtataguyod tayo ng lipunan kung saan kapag pumila ka, uusad ka; kapag nagsumikap ka, mabubuhay ka ng marangal at hindi inaabot ng gutom.

Hindi naman po natin kinailangan ng agimat o orasyon para simulang ilatag ang pagbabagong ito. Ginawa lang po natin ang dapat. Ang pera ng taumbayan, itinutok natin sa mga programang may katuturan; sinunod natin ang mga batas, at pinananagot ang mga lumalabag dito. Ang sabi nga po natin noong kampanya: Tanggalin ang tiwali, at itama ang mali.

Hayaan po ninyo, hayaan po ninyo akong magbigay ng ilang halimbawa. Mayroon pong isang kontratang pinasok ang pinalitan nating administrasyon: sabi po nila, ide-dredge daw po ang Laguna Lake. Maganda nga naman po sana. Tatanggalin ang naipong sediments upang lumaki ang water holding capacity ng lawa. Ang ganda hong pakinggan, ‘di ho ba? Dahil ‘yon ang pinagkukunan natin ng tubig para sa National Capital Region. Ang problema lang po, natuklasan natin ang huhukayin sa isang bahagi ng Laguna Lake, itatambak lang pala sa kabilang bahagi ng Laguna Lake. [Laughter] Baka akala ho n’yo, nagbibiro ako, nandoon ho ‘yun sa kontrata ‘yon. eh. Eh siyempre tanong naman ng ordinaryong Juan dela Cruz, “Paano naman lalaki ang water holding capacity kung ganoon?” Tapos, gagastos pa tayo, uulitin ko ho—tayo, gagastos pa tayo ng ‘di bababa sa 18.7 billion pesos. Baka hindi nakuha ‘yun, billion po ah, 18.7 billion pesos para maglaro ng putik. Putik natin ‘yon, ‘di ba? Sa Pilipinas ‘yun. Lalaruin natin ‘yung putik natin para sa prebilihiyo, at magbabayad ng 18.7 billion. Bakit po kaya may pumayag sa kahibangang ito? Sino kaya ang makikinabang? At palagay ko ho, hindi maglalaon, may maidedemanda na naman tayong panibago. ‘Di po tayo pumayag; pinigil po natin ang kontratang ito. Simple lang naman po ang gusto natin: kung may kontrata, idaan sa tamang bidding.

Patas na ang laban, hindi lang sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno, kundi sa ating mga merkado. Iyan po ang nakita ng buong mundo. Kaya nga po sa kabila ng global economic crisis, naging tuloy-tuloy ang pag-angat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong 2012.

Alam naman po ninyo na iyan ang pangunahing sukat ng sigla ng ekonomiya ng isang bansa; 7.1 percent po ang inangat ng ating Gross Domestic Product nitong third quarter ng 2012. Tinalo po natin pati ang sariling mga projection. Sunod-sunod ang record-high sa ating Philippine Stock Exchange index. Sa katunayan, mula June 30, 2010, kung kailan po tayo nag-umpisang manungkulan, umabot na sa pitumpung beses ng nabasag ang record po ng ating stock exchange. [Applause] Nito lang pong January 18, nagsara sa 6,171.70 ang ating stock exchange—isa na naman pong record-high. Alam po n’yo, bago tayo naupo, ‘pag umabot ng 4,000, pipitik lang ho sa 4,000, bababa na ulit. Parang paniwala ho, hindi kayang manatili doon o lampasan doon. Ngayon po, 6,000 na. ‘Yong mga gumawa po nito, sabi sa akin eh—hinamon ko na rin—kako nasa 6,000 na eh. Saan naman tayo tutungo susunod? Baka naman puwede 7,000? Ang sagot sa akin, aniya, siguro mga 6,500. Puwede na ‘yong 6,500. Baka puwede mangyari ‘yan sa birthday ko next month na ‘yun. [Laughter] Sabi ho niya, 7,000 na bago matapos ang taon. So palagay ko, hindi pa naman siya nasisira sa atin, mukhang malaki ang pag-asang mangyari po ‘yan.

‘Pag lalo pa po tayong nagtulungan, hindi na po ako magugulat kung sa susunod, sa talaan na tayo ng Guinness Book of World Records mapapabilang sa husay ng performance ng ating stock exchange.

Naaalala ko nga po dati, sa panahon ng aking ina: naisama po ako sa ilang biyahe po niya, nagpunta po ako doon sa Japan, at halos nagmamakaawa tayong magtayo sila ng negosyo sa Pilipinas. Pero ngayon po, tayo na ang pinipilahan. [Applause] Gusto po nilang makisakay sa momentum ng pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya. At hindi po sa iisang sektor ito: mula sa edukasyon, sa imprastruktura, hanggang sa information technology; iisa ang bukambibig ng mga malalaking kumpanya: Sali naman kami diyan.

Pinupuksa na rin po natin ang katiwalian sa mga institusyong panlipunan. Masusunod ang batas at kung lalabag ka rito, tiyak mananagot ka, gaano ka man kayaman o makapangyarihan. [Applause] ‘Di po ba, napatunayan na ‘yan nang natanggal sa puwesto ang mismong Punong Mahistrado ng ating Korte Suprema? Ang sabi po kasi ng Saligang Batas: Kailangan mong ideklara sa isang sinumpaang Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth ang buong kayamanan mo. So, ang pera pong idineklara niya, wala pang dalawang porsyento ng kabuoan niyang ari-arian. Parang sa English po, less than two percent of his cash assets was declared. Eh kailangan lahat. Ikinubli niya sa publiko ang mahigit nobenta’y otso porsiyento ng kanyang pera. Matapos ang impeachment trial, sinubaybayan po ng halos buong Pilipinas, lumitaw po ang katotohanan at walang palusot na umubra sa taumbayan. Ngayon po, gumugulong na rin ang reporma sa atin pong hudikatura.

Isa pa pong halimbawa: ‘Di po ba kaytagal-tagal na di matanaw ang kapayapaan sa Mindanao? Ngayon po, siguro nabalitaan na ninyo ang Framework Agreement na nilagdaan sa pagitan ng Moro Islamic Liberation Front at ng ating pamahalaan. Sa halip na ulitin lang ang dating “all out war” na estratehiya, “all out justice” ang ating naging tugon. Ang mensahe natin: Ang bandido ay bandido; pero kung talagang may lehitimo kang hinanakit dala ng kasaysayan ng pang-aapi, handang makipagbayanihan ang gobyerno. Imbis na walang humpay na barilan, ipinarating natin sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim: Iisa ang adhikain natin: Kapayapaan. Heto ang sagwan, tara’t itutok natin sa iisang direksyon ang bangka ng bayan, upang sabay-sabay natin maabot ang ating mga pangarap. [Applause] Ipinakita natin sa buong mundo ang bisa ng isang mapayapang diyalogo. Higit pa rito, inilalapit natin ang Mindanao, ang naturingang Land of Promise, sa pangako ng kapayapaan at kasaganahan, na matagal na niyang inaasam.

Sa huli, naniniwala po ako na anuman ang sitwasyon natin ngayon, dinala po tayo dito ng kolektibong panawagan ng Pilipino sa pagbabago. Naharap po tayo sa isang sangandaan kung saan kinailangan nating pumili ng tatahaking landas: Dito ba ako sa nakasanayang ruta ng baluktot na sistema? O ikakabig ko ba sa tuwid na daan, kung saan ang sambayanan ang mabibigyang-kapangyarihan upang sama-samang isulong ang bansa? Kung iisipin, napakadali po sana ng naunang ruta. Pipiliin ko na lang ang normal na buhay kung saan sarili lang ang kailangan kong intindihin.

Opo, madaling sabihin, pero hindi ko po yata ito maaatim na gawin. Kung ito ang landas na pinili kong tahakin, para ko na ring sinabing normal ang masadlak ang Pilipinas sa katiwalian at kahirapan; normal ang talikuran ang ipinaglaban ng aking mga magulang; normal ang pagtaksilan ang mga Pilipinong matagal nang naghihikahos para sa mas maliwanag na kinabukasan. Buong-loob po nating pinili ang tuwid na landas, kaakibat ng lahat ng kailangang pagdadaanang lubak at sakripisyo. Hindi na po bago sa atin ito. Ako po, labindalawang taong gulang pa lang nang makaranas ng Martial Law, at mahigit apatnapung taon na po ng aking buhay ang umikot sa mundo ng serbisyo publiko. Dati po’y dakilang alalay, ngayon inaalalayan ng lahat. [Laughter and applause] Mulat din po tayo, bawat Pilipino ay may kanya-kanyang binuno at binubunong pagsasakripisyo. Ang kailangan lang po nating tandaan: lahat ng pasakit ngayon, ginhawa ang kapalit sa susunod na henerasyon. Ngayong abot-kamay na po natin ang pagbabago, saka pa ba tayo hihinto?

Nasa kamay muli ng Pilipino ang manibela: itutuloy ko ba ang paglalakbay sa tuwid na daan? O pipiliin ko bang mag-U-turn pabalik sa kalsada ng katiwalian at kahirapan? Mahalaga pong ipaalala: ang pagsisikap ng bawat isa ay magsisilbing gasolina sa matiwasay na pagtakbo at tuluyang pag-arangkada ng ating bansa. Kaya nga po: karaniwang tao man o kasama natin sa paglilingkod-bayan, nasa Pilipinas man, o dito sa Zurich, saan man pong sulok ng mundobawat brasong nakikisagwan, bawat balikat na nakikipasan, bawat kakamping sumasagupa sa lumang sistema upang itawid ang ating reporma—kayo po, kayo ang gumagawa ng pagbabago, at hinihiling ko ang patuloy pa ninyong pakikiambag. Pasulong po ang ating martsa sa tuwid na landas; wala pong atrasan ito; huwag tayong pumayag na dumulas pang pabalik sa dating kalakaran.

Hayaan po ninyo akong magtapos sa isang kuwento. Noon pong congressman pa lamang ako, pinalad tayong makaharap ang isang grupo ng walumpung estudyante ng nursing. Ang tanong ko sa kanila, “Ilan sa inyo ang mananatili sa Pilipinas pagkatapos ninyong maka-graduate at pumasa ng board exams?” Ang nagtaas po ng kamay ay napakarami: dalawa. [Laughter]

Wala na nga po sigurong dudang nagbago na talaga ang Pilipinas. Kung dati po, ang tinatanong sa inyo kung mabisita kayo sa atin, “Paano ka nakaalis? Anong mga hakbang ang ginawa ninyo para makatakas?” Ngayon po, ang malamang itanong sa inyo kung kayo’y mauwi, “Kailan kayo uuwi ng permanente?” [Applause] Tunay nga pong kay sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito.

Bago po ako magtapos, gusto kong iparating sa inyong lahat, lampas po doon sa halaga ng ipinagkaloob n’yo sa ating mga kapatid na nabiktima ng Pablo, eh, talaga naman po’y pagpapadama n’yo sa kanila na hindi sila nag-iisa. ‘Yon po ang talaga ang napakagandang ipapasalubong natin sa buong Pilipinas.

Kaya magandang hapon po sa lahat. Maraming salamat muli.

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Filed under Europe and Bulan Observer, News, Politics, President Benigno Aquino III

From Sta. Cruz to Binãn: The Asuncion- Yatco- Carillo Lineage

Bulan

Bulan Pier

Bulan. The picturesque coastal town of Bulan was one of the first migration destinations of the Asuncions of Sta. Cruz. The spirit of the time of transition had already been felt in the Asuncion household. The master painter Justiniano was the first to realize that it was no more his time. Styles had changed and so was the taste of the artistic consumers. New names like Luna and Hidalgo were in everyone’s tongue  as they had just brought home the bacon from Europe. It was this existential uncertainty that drove Justiniano to follow his son Zacharias in Bulan who had already successfully established himself being a grocery store owner and his political  engagement in the community. The ageing Justiniano for sure did not travel alone but in the company of somebody – probably Benita.

justiniano asuncion from damian domingo book, 2010 (5)

Dolores Paterno
ca. 1870 by Justiniano Asuncion

Binãn and Pasig. Perhaps around this time, those pretty nieces of Justiniano, once his favorite models for his portrait works, also moved southwards of Manila, namely, Binãn, Laguna, hence, making Binãn the second known migration place of the Asuncions. These women, Romana and Valentina Asuncion were the daughters of Antonio Asuncion (born 1794), (Justiniano’s brother) whose wife was Remigia Sta. Ana of Pasig. The third place where an Asuncion migrated was Pasig with Antonio Asuncion, a known artist and where he also became Gobernadorcilo in his time – true to this rare mixture of politics and arts in the Asuncion  blood. This migration to Binãn resulted ultimately into the blood fusion with Yatco, Carillo-Trinidad and Yaptinchay – all prominent Binãn families.

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The Binãn Church

We were toured around the center of Binãn by my relative Christopher Yatco where he showed us the houses where  the Yatcos, together with Romana and Valentina Asuncion, once lived. A nostalgic mini tour, shooting pictures of these old spanish houses as I tried to imagine how they lived there at that time. Romana and Valentina were my first cousins, me being three generations younger.

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Valentina Asuncion married a Yatco which is one of the oldest gems of  Binãn. His name was Ignacio.  His brother Gregorio was the father of Ysidro Yatco, the progenitor of the “Tres Marias de Yatco” of Binãn. The merchant’s Ysidro Yatco wife was Bonifacia Mercado, sister of Jose Rizal’s father, Fransico Mercado. The Tres Marias- Salud, Leonila and Paz- were Jose Rizal’s first cousins. (The young student Jose Rizal did not use his  family name Mercado upon the advice of his brother Paciano to avoid being linked to Father Gomez who was executed by the Spaniards).

Filomena Villafranca Y Asuncion

Valentina Asuncion and Ignacio Yatco’s children were Eleuterio, Jose, Leoncio and Filomena [ married to Eugenio Alzona]. (Note: There are two other Filomenas: One Filomena [married to a Castrillo] , daughter of  Romana Asuncion Carillo and another Filomena [married to a Villafranca], daughter of Leoncio Asuncion [born 1813] , Justiniano’s older brother. )

According to Christopher Yatco (born 1974), Eleuterio Yatco y Asuncion had a son in the name of Francisco whose wife was Asuncion Belizario (here the name Asuncion is a first name).Their children being : Josefina Yatco (married to Andy Francia),  Digna Yatco (married to Momoy Concepcion),  Thomas Yatco (married to Florinda Sabater), Ruben Yatco (married to Adelaida Ponce) and Ernestina Yatco (a spinster) .

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Jun, Christopher, Florabel and Mila
November 2012, Felix Restaurant, Greenbelt 5 Makati

Christopher Yatco’s parents are Ruben Yatco and Adelaida Ponce. Christopher is a soft-spoken man, open-minded, friendly, very generous, informed and interested in many things. He and his wife Florabel Co- Yatco run a chain of reputable restaurants in Metro Manila. This photo above was taken at Felix restaurant owned by Chris and Florabel, a great venue with excellent food, service – and a jazzy background music! Indeed, they’re very industrious and successful entrepreneurs. Christopher’s interest in genealogy is amazing at his age despite the work that he has as a businessman – in a true Yatco- Asuncion fashion. He is a first cousin three generations younger of Don Ysidro Yatco, once a prominent business person in Binãn. His great, great-grandfather Antonio Asuncion had not the slightest idea that, 218 years after his birth, one of his “offsprings” in the name of Christopher would meet another offspring of his younger brother Justiniano. We both sensed the significance of that evening, acknowledging that we both were living extensions of our ancestors and that we have the duty to look back and honor them. Christopher is my fourth cousin a generation younger  and fifth cousin to my sons.

The Yatcos and Mercados are related as in-laws. We may say that Ysidro Yatco, being the husband of Jose Rizal’s aunt Bonifacia Mercado, was Jose’s “uncle in-law” (or Jose Rzal being Ysidro’s “nephew in -law”) and so were Ysidros’ other brothers, as they were the uncles of the Tres Marias. From the surface there seems to be no direct blood relationship among the other Yatcos with the Mercados and that all other Yatcos do not carry the Mercado’s genes, that they are just in- laws. Yet Bonfacia’s next offsprings carry the Yatco genes in themselves, the same copy that Christopher has. And if we would go a little a deeper in the sense that we would forget people and talk of blood as a collective entity then the mixing of these two bloods – the Yatcos’ and the Mercado’s”- through the union of Ysidro and Bonifacia- had ultimately effected a chemical bonding of both bloods which affects all other people carrying these bloods. This is perhaps what we mean when we say ” that person is my distant relative”.

If in-laws are distant relatives, then it goes beyond the common consanguinity relationships from first to seventh cousins. For how distant is a distant relative really? Who and what defines and limits relationships? The western concept of family relationship is very limited to biology. There are cultures and even certain people that regard family relationship beyond this common concept. The English term “next of kin” does not necessarily mean a blood-relative. And a person has the natural right to call somebody to whom he or she feels strong affinity as brother or sister. There is somehow also a spiritual dimension to human and family relationship. I mean, if we would extend the line of Ysidro Yatco as son- in-law of Juan Mercado, the grandfather of Jose Rizal, and Christopher being a great, great grand-nephew of Ysidro Yatco, therefore, Christopher could be Jose Rizal’s three generations younger “first- cousin-in-law”, with Paz, Salud and Leonila being Jose Rizal’s direct (blood) first cousins as seen from Jose Rizal’s family tree and Christopher being Salud, Paz and Leonila’s second cousin by blood, two generations younger as seen from the Yatco family tree.

Romana Asuncion
portrait done by Justiniano Asuncion

With Romana Asuncion, the ninth child of Antonio Asuncion and Remigia Sta. Ana, the Asuncions got connected with another prominent Binãn family, the Carillo-Trinidad. Romana married Andres Carillo-Trinidad. Their daughter, Petronilla married a Yatco (as if following the foosteps of her aunt Valentina Asuncion). His name was Fermin Yatco y Yaptinchay, the son of Aniceto Yatco and Simeona Yaptinchay. Aniceto was Ignacio’s brother. Simeona herself was a daughter of a Carillo-Trinidad, Maria, who became the wife of the first Yaptinchay, namely Yap Tin Chay, a migrant Chinese, with Yap as the family name and Tin Chay the first name. However, his descendants adopted the combined names Yaptinchay as their family name (source : Toto Gonzalez). How Andres and Maria Carillo- Trinidad were related to one another is my question to the  Carillos of today.

But you may have noticed by now that Fermin Yatco y Yaptinchay who married Petronila Carillo- Trinidad, actually was a Carillo- Trinidad also through his grandmother Maria Yaptinchay  y Carillo- Trinidad. Hence, Petronila and Fermin were blood relatives.

Now, Petronila’s and Fermin Yatco’s son, Macario Yatco y Carillo  (y Asuncion y Yaptinchay!) married Guia, an Asuncion and daughter of Zacharias Asuncion from his first wife Juana Zalvedia. I was informed that Juana Zalvedia was also an Asuncion- being the daughter of Canuta Asuncion, Justiniano’s sister. (Love seemed to be so blind among the first Asuncions). From this union between Macario and Guia was born a daughter named Gracia Yatco (y Carillo y Asuncion y Asuncion). Formally, Guia was three times an Asuncion and her daughter, Gracia, four times an Asuncion. Gracia married a Rojas (hope the mother of Emmanuel Rojas, Sr. was not an Asuncion!) and they gave birth to Ed and Noel Rojas. Hence, although a Rojas, and taking Zacharias as point of reference (common ancestor), Ed and Noel are more Asuncion than an Asuncion because they are five times an Asuncion, formally speaking, through Zacharias- Zalvedia- Macario- Guia- Gracia! And they can count two great, great grandfathers, too: Justiniano Asuncion (through Zacharias) and Antonio Asuncion (through Romana)- two great artists!

Mini reunion. This explains the intense drive and fascination of Noel and Ed in their search for the Asuncion roots! I met them last November 2012 in a restaurant somewhere in Ortigas, and this  intense discussion shown in this photo is not about the Menu for the dinner but about the family tree that Ed and Noel brought with them. We enjoyed the food, naturally, but we spent more time discussing the tree than eating that evening of November.

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Jun, Ed and Noel

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The Asuncion women

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Noel with daughter Anna

Now, with all this complexity because of internal marriages, how are we related really to one another? Taking Mariano Asuncion as common ancestor,  Juana Zalvedia  (Zacharia’s first wife) would be a niece to Justiniano,  a first cousin to Zacharias, first cousin a generation younger to Adonis;  Andres, Sr. being first cousin two generations younger and me first cousin three generations younger. Her daughters, Consuelo and Guia, formally speaking, were second cousins,- and yet were half-sisters, –  of Adonis, ( half-) aunts of Andres, Sr.  Now, to Guia’s daughter, Gracia, I would be a generation younger third cousin- while I’m a fourth  cousin to Ed and Noel, Gracia’s sons.

This picture would change, however, if we would take Zacharias as the starting point (common ancestor): Guia and Consuelo remaining as Adonis’ half-sisters; I become Gracia’s one generation younger first cousin while Ed and Noel being my second cousins. Making it more simpler, if we follow Macario’s line (remember Macario was also an Asuncion through Petronila) all the way to Antonio Asuncion and finally to the patriarch Mariano Asuncion, then Ed and Noel would appear as one generation younger fourth cousin to me. In truth, I’m younger than them. But why this?

(to be continued) jun asuncion

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