Category Archives: Over a Cup of Coffee

or “Beans Of Thought”



 BULAN, Sorsogon, Philippines (JGL) – In 1943, the Japanese Imperial Army started building an airport in a small sitio of Bulan, Sorsogon so their soldiers can easily escape if General MacArthur were to return with his Allied soldiers during World War II.

But because of the extraordinary grit and resiliency of the Filipino guerillas (militias), they were able advance the timetable of MacArthur’s return, which caught the Japanese by surprise.

As MacArthur was carpet-bombing Leyte from the nearby Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Forces abandoned the airport they were building in what is now believed to be sitio Oyango in Bulan that ends up in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean.


(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (right) surveys the extend of the runway of the Bulan Airport, which he said he will complete if he were elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9, during his visit to the area recently in Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Several Philippine presidents since Liberation had dreams of reviving the construction of the airport but an independent candidate for provincial governor LOLO Bobby M. Reyes would like to finally help the people of Bulan (Bulanenos) have their own airport if he is elected governor on Monday, May 9, 2016. Government officials who tried to build the airport just put the money for the airport in their pockets that’s why nothing had come out of the airport, Mr. Reyes said.

Mr. Reyes said he could make the Bulan Airport a reality if his patron, Sen. Grace Poe, is elected president on Monday.

Mr. Reyes, who celebrated his 70th birthday last May 1, said the completion of the Bulan International Airport (BIA) is going to be one of the flag-ship projects of his administration out of the ten priority projects to “reinvent” the Quality of Life in Sorsogon and its “Isles of the Future” and create 300,000 jobs.


 Taking a page from Sorsogon’s longest-serving governor, the late Juan G. Frivaldo, who sported the name “Tata (elderly) Juan,” Mr. Reyes said his moniker “LOLO,” which means grandfather in Bikol, stands for “Law and Order, Less Government and Opportunities equally for all.”

As a long-time Balikbayan from Los Angeles, California, where he was a lifelong community activist, LOLO Bobby returned to his boyhood and high school-age home of Barangay Bibingcahan in what he now calls “Bacon-Sorsogon (Bac-Sor) City” with all the wisdom and perspectives he accumulated so that he could pay back his dues to his  province of birth.

Based on his writings from his travels on his own and Facebook posts, LOLO Bobby now wants to put those ideas into practice if he luckily wins the majority vote of the 425,025 Sorsogon voters, who had an 83.71% voting turnout record in 2013.

Bobby decided to run for governor of Sorsogon when he started to urge Senator Poe to run for president, when nobody did, thru his Facebook posts, which generated tens of thousands of likes and followers and when nobody from the crop of candidates for governor in Sorsogon supported Ms. Poe. Bobby was introduced to Ms. Poe by his daughter, who was a classmate of Ms. Poe from grade one in Antipolo City to high school.

Because Bobby is not allowed to host a radio program a few weeks in the run-up of the elections, he asked some of his friends, including this reporter and Bubot Laguna, to sub for him in spreading his message over Catholic radio station (DZGN-FM, 102.3mHz)(11a.m. to 12 noon) hosted by Psalm Geraldino and PADABA (103.9 FM) (4 p.m.-6 p.m.) hosted by Bhem Emmanuel Desabayla.


withfarmersIn his visit to Purok 7-B in Bulan Airport with this reporter, LOLO Bobby told the people, who turned the 10-lane runaway of the airport into palay drying platform, that with the grace of God if he were elected Sorsogon governor, he foresees the airport to be his flag-ship project that could generate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.)

“I will make sure that you will earn a minimum of P1,000 (US$22.22) a day in contrast to Manila where P450 (US$10.00) a day is the minimum daily wage,” Bobby told one of farmers who were drying his palay over the ten-lane runway.


(ASIDE FROM THIS Terminal building, only the 10-lane runaway is the only visible task that was constructed from an alleged release of P15-M (US$333,333) to construct the airport in 2007. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

When asked why he is making Bulan Airport his main project, Bobby said, “I am the son of Cristina Mercado, who hails from Bulan. And I am the only candidate out of the eight candidates for governor, who hails from Bulan.”

It was reported by the Bulan Observer that sometime in 2007, there was funding for the airport in the amount of P15-M (US$333,333) for the parcellary survey, to complete the runway upgrading and right-of-way acquisition that was supposed to be completed by 2008. It did not mention if the terminal building that is the only visible building in the airport was part of the funding.


(HIS EXPANSIVE runway that was started by Japanese Imperial Forces was being rebuilt by every administration after World War II but has yet to be completed. LOLO Bobby M. Reyes, a son of a native of Bulan, Sorsogon in the Philippines, wants to finish this Bulan International Airport if he is elected Sorsogon governor on Monday, May 9. The runway ends in Ticao Pass, a part of the Luzon Strait that connects the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea) in the western Pacific Ocean. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Aside from the airport and the other priority projects he wants to pursue, Mr. Reyes said he wants to introduce economic development in Sorsogon because it is one of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines. “It’s about time somebody has to do positive things for the province and of course I want zero corruption. I would handle peace and order under a law and order program that will stop corruption and stop crimes from rising, especially drug epidemic.”

He said his projects have been posted on his Facebook page and website,

Although nobody is bankrolling his campaign, LOLO Bobby likes his chances to be elected governor as he has been rated fourth among the eight gubernatorial candidates by a Sorsogon radio station.


(BECAUSE HE has no money to pay for his own billboard, Independent candidate LOLO Bobby M. Reyes is very pleased to see and thankful that the office of Sorsogon City Mayor  Sally A. Lee and the Sorsogon City Tourism Office have included his name and photo in the billboard of six of eight Sorsogon gubernatorial candidates. LOLO Bobby said that the “catch” of the ad is actually a backhanded endorsement of one of the candidates, Eric Dioneda (PDP-Laban), whose educational attainment was portrayed as a college undergraduate first-year midwifery education. Mayor Lee’s son, Bobet Lee Rodrigueza (Liberal Party), is portrayed as a holder of a BSBA-Management degree while LOLO Bobby Reyes is a college graduate in AB Journalism. (JGL Photo by Joseph G. Lariosa)

Mr. Reyes said on or before July 1, 2016, the first day of office when he takes over the “Sorsogon Interactive New Government (SING),” he will launch simultaneously 10 or more crash-programmed projects designed to raise dramatically the “Quality of Life (QoL)” of the people of Sorsogon that will lead to eliminate unemployment and underemployment.

 “PROJECT 2021”

 He said ten separate task forces, with at least 100 trained staffers each, will be organized and fielded to implement the projects that will translate into hundreds of thousands of new well-paying and permanent jobs.

All local-government units (LGU’s) will be asked to provide more manpower and support to the task forces.

The priority projects will be classified into short-, medium-, and long-term goals that shall be the vehicles needed to accomplish the so-called “PROJECT 2021.” “They will be treated like items in a conveyor belt of an assembly line, so that a long-term project can become a short-term goal if the circumstances and needed resources are present,” Bobby said.

Among the “PROJECT 2021” that will take Sorsogon from 20th to the 21st century (2016-2021) are introducing to the province a Health Maintenance Organization that will provide “Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities” (; education reforms, including retraining of teachers, increasing their salaries, lowering teacher-student ratio, school-provided meals to elementary students and acquisition of modern equipment (; inspection and retrofitting of concrete buildings in the province, including churches, followed by school-based earthquake-and-other-disaster-preparation classes and training and fielding of trained volunteer fire-and-disaster brigades;

Organization or re-organization of tree-farming co-ops in all the province’s 541 barangays (barrios) and crash program of planting cacao, coffee and cash crops and their shade trees, including an extensive cultivation of bamboo, so as to double the income of participating families in five to ten years, thereby wiping out poverty;  organization and reorganization of fishing co-ops in all the coastal barrios of the province, including the massive cleaning (every weekend) of Sorsogon Bay, the province’s 50 rivers and numerous springs, brooks and other bodies of water and reforestation of their watershed areas. (;


(LOLO BOBBY M. Reyes (extreme left) paid a courtesy call on Flor Solis (second from left), widow of the late Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis (whose photo is hanging above) of the second district of Sorsogon, who lobbied for the construction of the Bulan Airport, in the house of Mrs. Solis and her daughter-in-law, Joanne Solis, who is running for provincial board member for the second district of Sorsogon, Bubot Laguna and journalist, Joseph G. Lariosa. (JGL Photo)

The fresh water of Sorsogon’s 50 rivers and other springs, brooks and streams can be harnessed and exported to different parched countries as today clean potable water is more expensive than crude oil or even gasoline. Launching of food-production centers with grain-storage silos, solar-powered refrigerated warehouse and other equipment; Concreting of the runways, aprons parking spaces of the Bulan and Bacon airports, the construction of control towers, with electronic-and-electrical facilities and fuel depots. (; the “New Uber-like Parcel Service and Postal House” (; solving the growing squatter problem; massive tourism development program; launching of a law-and-order campaign with a “reinvented” Sorsogon Provincial Sheriff’s Office and fielding of one law-enforcement officer (LEO) with training of five employees that will compose a security force of 5,000 to safeguard millions  of domestic and foreign tourists.
And many other projects that include development of stock market, title insurance industry, workmen’s compensation industry, crop-insurance and/or health-insurance industry, broadband industry, call centers, water parks, solid waste, waste-water (for the Bac-Man geothermal plant) and sewage treatment plants and other environmental friendly energy projects. (


Joseph G. Lariosa
Journal GlobaLinks
5401 West Lawrence Ave.

Suite 30110
Chicago, IL 60630
Tel. 312.772.5454
Telefax 312.428.5714
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Twitter: @jogalar


Filed under Bulan Airport, Bulan Developments, Bulan Municipal, Bulan Observer and Fil-Am Friends, Politics, The Matnog Environmental Advocates Organization (MEAO), Views and Concern

Impeachment As A Rite Of Passage

by jun asuncion

Cleaning government  institutions of corrupt officials  through legal measure such as impeachment is like cremating old habits in our political culture that hinder the progress of the Philippines. Impeachment is only possible in a democracy since it is an inherent tool in a genuine democracy. During the time of Mrs. Arroyo, impeachment complains against her did not prosper because she was in control of everything, not only of elections. Hence, it’s stupid for Mr. Corona to accuse President Aquino of dictatorship. The  impeachment process against the Arroyo Ombudsman Mrs. Gutierrez  in the first year of the Aquino administration, though aborted through the issuance of TRO by her ally,- the Chief Justice Mr. Corona,- was still a success for it culminated  in her resignation.

Now, it really interests me whether the Supreme Court still has the power to issue a TRO on the ongoing impeachment trial against the Chief Justice himself, when, according to Senator Santiago, the SC had no  jurisdiction over the impeachment court. My observation is that some people in the judiciary have become very arrogant and have been misusing  their knowledge of law and rules for their own vested interests. This must have been the reason behind this corruption mess in the judiciary. Court administrator Midas claimed recently that the Sandiganbayan (People’s Advocate) court couldn’t touch him-   for he knows the rules. Again, he might be legally right but that doesn’t spare him the public’s suspicion of him being entangled  in the judiciary’s mess that’s now being revealed to the public and ultimately his knowledge of law doesn’t protect him from the higher principle of justice. It’s just a matter of time, I think, when the Sword of Damocles would fall and pierce through this arrogant head.

In this ongoing  impeachment, I expect a conviction not because I can prove it but because the figure of Mr. Corona is for me not beyond reasonable doubt. Public knowledge is not to be underestimated. The public knows in one way or another, sooner or later and it builds on this knowledge  its impressions about a certain public official.

So, ideally, only those who enjoy public trust are qualified to stay at their public posts. Those who do not should actually voluntarily resign and refrain from hiring an army of top lawyers for defense for it only proves their guilt and their lack of respect to the people. Just recently, after a week of controversy, the President of the Swiss National Bank resigned from his position voluntarily after being suspected of engaging in currency speculation equipped with insider’s knowledge. Though the details of his transactions happened within legal frames, he resigned because  he said he couldn’t prove his innocence before the people. This shows us that in a genuine democracy, public officials rely heavily on public perception. Impeachment (except for the Bundesrichter or Chief Justice) of a  public servant also doesn’t exist in Swiss constitution because in practice, a grossly erring public servant usually resigns when the pressure gets strong.

Democratization is a painful process and requires sacrifices. If the people are the victims of an undemocratic regime, the victims or sacrifices in real democracy are unclean public officials. Mr. Corona failed to see this  within a greater context, hence his suspicion of dictatorship and conspiracy against him and the judiciary. It’s indeed lamentable for a Chief Justice, a lawyer with a doctorate, not to use his education for a greater purpose and  to continue clinging  to a culture of impunity. Equally lamentable are his supporters – mostly lawyers themselves who follow blindly their Chief Justice and go to the streets like feral black cats. Before, maybe some of these lawyers were one of those street-and netcitizens decrying corruption and this culture of impunity. Now that for the first time a  President has vowed to end these two evils among many, they accuse him of dictatorship.

If Mr. Corona is really convinced that  he is fit for his post because he had done nothing unconstitutional, then he should actually help the prosecution arrive at the truth as quickly as possible. But by being aggressively defensive, the  message he is sending to the Filipino people is that of being guilty of the charges levied against him.  Why employ delaying tactics when there is nothing to be afraid of? Why block the presentation of BIR witnesses and issue- relevant body of  evidence when according to him he was not stupid enough to commit such charges as ill-gotten wealth and corruption? (Was his accepting of midnight-appointment not a sign of stupidity then?) Well, his chief defense counsel Mr. Cuevas argues that the “issue of ill-gotten wealth is not covered by Article 2 of the articles of impeachment on Corona”. But what if proven to be true basing on his income tax returns? Would this not be considered a criminal act and would this not lay any weight on the impeachment process or scratch Mr. Corona’s reputation as Chief Justice just because it’s not covered by article 2? With due respect to this seasoned litigator, Mr. Cueva’s argumentation and his lecturing on technicalities is not the truth but academic and philosophical attempts to evade the ultimate end of justice which is the truth. He should rather lecture Mr. Corona  to appreciate justice and to face the truth.

What makes it so hard to buy Mr. Corona’s defense arguments? I think it’s the tradition where he came from, – the Arroyo tradition which was famous the world over for its corruption. Within that administration, one could only survive and even win favors if one would only play by the rules consistently. And I think Mr. Corona was one of the major consistent  players in that  kleptomaniac Arroyo administration that’s why he survived well and even got awarded as Chief justice the night before Arroyo’s end.

An international study published last year known as ” The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures To Hide Stolen Assets And What to do About it”  reported that “large-scale corruption through bribes, embezzled state assets and other “official” criminal proceeds is being kept under wraps via legal entities such as foundations, trust funds and others”… and how ” providers of legal, financial and administrative (management) services – including banks, financial institutions, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals known as trust and company service providers (TCSPs) – can be employed to facilitate corruption.” So the study.

The Supreme Court of any country is the highest court for it has the final decision on legal matters, hence, it embodies truth and justice. Supreme court justices, therefore, are expected to have the highest standards of moral integrity, sense of judgment, objectivity and impartiality. But experience shows that they are also corruptible. Midas’ adamant defense of “his judiciary and Chief Justice” became suspicious to me as this impeachment battle goes on. Is he afraid of something to come out more when his Chief Justice falls? This World Bank loan anomaly has robbed him of his sleep the last weeks, I guess. For this time, I think Justitia, the blindfolded Lady carrying scales and double-edged sword, should temporarily remove her blindfold for her to see for herself what’s really happening with our Supreme Court officials and if this study mentioned above applies to our Supreme Court.

This over-a -cup-of-coffee- argument of mine would have no chance before this impeachment court because I cannot give “hand carry”  evidence. But concerned citizens (or the public) are not obliged to prove whether they trust or don’t trust a certain public official. On the contrary, it is the public official that must prove to the public that he or she can be trusted. It is right that a senator-judge now hearing the impeachment trial with other senators is not obliged to explain why he or she is  for Mr. Corona’s conviction or acquittal for a senator is a people’s representative. If the senator has doubts on Mr. Corona’s person, he or she would convict him even if Mr. Coron’s team outwits the prosecution team for this is not about which team can deliver better arguments but whether the people’s representative can send back Mr. Corona to his post as Chief justice beyond reasonable doubt after this trial.

 Impeachment, as I see it, is one kind of rite of passage for a coming of age democracy. I don’t know how Mr. Corona sees it.



Filed under Over a Cup of Coffee

Obstruction Of Justice – In Good Times And Bad Times

by jun asuncion

It was like a chess championship match with the brave sacrificing act of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima leading to the checkmate of GMA. The thrill reached its peak as GMA attempted to flee from her impending checkmate – using  her ailment as cover up and with her team of lawyers exhausting her cornucopia of legal means so she could  escape prosecution – these in dizzying alacrity. Not to be dismissed as boring were the acrimony between the lawyers of each camp, political observers and netizens and  the diverging  opinions of the senators and constitutional experts on the legal imbroglio and pandemonium that transpired the last days.

Beside offering a cerebral entertainment, this match was a crossing of the Rubicon for Aquino’s administration with its determined fight against the culture of impunity – the catalyst and stabilizer of corruption engines – and its entrance into a culture of accountability with the arrest of GMA last Friday.

Big change shakes the foundations, brings with it conflicting situations and demands sacrifices and strong will. Though it was GMA’s histrionics that dictated the tempo of events, it was the seemingly collision of  the fundamental right to travel and the right of the state to prosecute high crimes and the contumacious actions of  Justice Secretary De Lima vis-à-vis  the Supreme court that interested keen observers the most. On top of that one questions: How absolute are human rights, the Constitution and the orders of the Supreme court? And how powerful is the judiciary against the executive? Was there a constitutional crisis? Opinions differed on these questions among lawyers and constitutionalists.

Everything appeared paradoxical and dramatic. Secretary De Lima was unfazed, controlled,  tough and very quick on the trigger. She had her angle  all the time and she’s proven her worth as Justice Secretary. For her justice must be served by all means – even to the point of disobeying a Supreme Court order- this Temporary Restraining Order (TRO).  Senator Escudero was among the antagonists who espoused blind obedience to the law and was quick to praise the Court’s decision.  Were he in command, GMA would have escaped prosecution.

Justice vs. the right to travel?  It was another instance of two good things colliding at a given space and time. Had Senator Escudero viewed the whole situation not as a lawyer but as visionary politician, he would have been part of the entourage that crossed the Rubicon. Hence, he was left behind with his myopic, legalistic view of the world. He cut a pathetic figure last week. The constitutional right to travel should not be used to obstruct justice and crimes committed should not be blinded out or relegated to the background as lawyers engage themselves in textbook debates on law. Accused persons must be tried by all means.

Crossing the Rubicon is disobedience yet groundbreaking. President Noy Aquino and his team have crossed the Rubicon in order that justice be served in the Philippines. This is reflective equilibrium, visionary politics, epoch-making leadership.

Democracy is not only about rights and individualism but also about duties and collectivism. GMA’s insistence on her human and constitutional right to travel (since when did she insist on human and constitutional rights?) must be viewed not in isolation or purely as an article in the 1987 Constitution but within the context of the crimes imputed to her. That’s why it was a piece of impudence and out of context  for her legal advisers to equate GMA’s deprivation of her right to travel as endangering all Filipinos’ right to travel. Not all Filipinos are Gloria Arroyo.

If Democracy is a balance of rights, duties, individualism (personal welfare) and collectivism (common good), then decisions involving conflicting rights or principles must also be balanced. Secretary De Lima was right when she mentioned the balancing of the situation before arriving at a decision. Some members of the Supreme Court seemed to have problem with balancing last week, hence, this TRO was far from being democratic because it was decided without this greater sense for justice, sense of social responsibility and in sheer disregard for the accountability of public officials and suspected criminals.  The  state’s decision for justice, accountability and to end impunity outweighs GMA’s personal right to travel. Naturally, GMA was in a hurry to leave for she knew that without the case being formally filed before a court-and with her one -way TRO ticket in her suitcase – she could still defy the Watchlist Order of the Justice Department. A fleeing suspect in prestissimo has no right to blame Judge Mupas and the Southern Police District  if they’re catching up with her tempo. Railroading a woman suspect on wheelchair? Had she not displayed the intention to follow the example of Ramona Bautista, everything would have been settled in adagio manner. So GMA was in command of the metronome last week – but to her disadvantage.

If the government represents democracy and if sovereignty emanates from the people, then the people who voted for Pres. Aquino and his promise to fight corruption surely supported all actions taken by Pres. Aquino’s team in preventing Arroyo from leaving the country until her arrest last Friday. That TRO could hardly be taken as representing the interest of the sovereignty. An ordinary Filipino doesn’t need the service of a  lawyer to decide not to entrust his child to somebody with records of stealing, violence and pedophiliac activities or send his housemaid he  highly suspects of stealing his  money for a vacation in her province before he has confronted her about the situation. Using the same common sense he would likewise not allow GMA to leave and escape prosecution.

GMA is famous for her inconsistencies, very poor credibility rating,  betraying Public Trust and for being accused of committing a dozen of crimes, among these being electoral sabotage and plunder. So why let her go before her cases are cleared? The Supreme Court’s voting for TRO was  legally right but did it respect or consider the people’s covenant with the President? The Supreme Court justices – including the Chief Justice – who voted for TRO, all being appointees of GMA when she was still president, decided in favor of their ex-boss, a situation we could easily link with Utang Na Loob. Lawyers interpret a legal situation differently. The fact that the Supreme Court justices  were divided in their judgement on TRO issuance, supports this argument. Hence, the TRO was a personal gift for Arroyo, a one way ticket for  a world tour.

Gloria Arroyo’s theatrical performance at the airport was aimed to tickle that Filipino traits of Awa and Utang na Loob. But  she has been unmasked by the people and so it was a flop for no Awa came to her rescue. “Persecution, cruelty”, according to her husband. It’s amazing how justice can change someone’s vocabularies. This much heard promise of returning home may have been true but has anybody thought of asking them (Arroyos) when? Two weeks could also be stretched to twenty years. Or maybe forever – like their promise when they were wedded, to be together in good times and bad  times.


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Filed under Commentary, Graft and Corruption, Over a Cup of Coffee

The Devil is in the Details

by jun asuncion

The MILF’s walloping of the AFP last October that killed 19 marines and wounded many  has sent a shockwave to global Filipinos. It was such a lamentable loss should not really  happen in modern warfare. This carnage showed us again the loopholes in our armed forces and government and that modernization is badly needed in the whole country – not only in the armed forces.

Peace talks and law enforcement? That’s music to our ears.  But if two notes collide at a given space and time in this music, for which note would you decide? I would opt for  law enforcement. Peace talks can be very broken-sounding.

This dilemma has exposed a certain weakness  in President Aquino and his political, security and communication advisers. No doubt, P-Noy is performing well in his anti- corruption campaign but he appears to be sailing on stormy waters when it comes to armed conflicts. The Luneta hostage crisis has already given us an inkling in this direction.

Appearing before the media after the Al-Barka massacre, he stressed  that he would continue with the peace talk and that he was against the idea  of an all- out war  against the MILF. He sounded broken and ill-advised and so was his adviser Mr. Leonen who described the massacre as “isolated” case, hence, negligible. It seems that too much diplomacy has robbed these two men of their manhood.

This all-out justice method should have been Pres, Aquino’s very first word.

Thus, his reputation suffered a blow, for he projected weakness and  more of saving his political face and of siding with the MILF than with his fallen soldiers and their aggrieved  families. He appeared in the first place as to be more concerned about  defending his politics and of begging the MILF peace panel not to walk out and start attacking villages again.

In times of crisis and real pains, the people need to feel the sympathy of the leader –  and real action. It was such a great loss and a heavy insult to the AFP, hence the people  and the military expected some hardness to come out from his mouth. But P- Noy missed that moment.

But a day or two after came out his concept of all-out justice and  the government forces started with counter attacks against the devious MILF.

This  all-out justice was a compromise with a face-saving value for P-Noy. He then learned that the people wanted vengeance. Employing the strength and touch of strong retaliation contained in the phrase “all- out” and replacing  the word “war” with the more civilized word “justice”,  this seems to have  appeased the people and the MILF peace panel. But this is in theory, in practice, it’s the same more or less- that of pounding the  MILF’s position with minimal civilian damage and of capturing or killing their leaders.

But the Aquino administration was wounded already.  The rumor of destabilization – true or just a product of fertile minds – was  born out of Aquino and Co.’s “amateurish” and “bookish” – according to Escudero-  handling of this entire peace negotiation and business with the MILF.  As if it were not enough, the public has learned  that Aquino had authorized the giving of PH 5- Million aid to the MILF and about Ph30-M  to another break away leftist group. This added more fuel to public dissatisfaction and demoralization… And what about the MILF’s  ATS? (Area of Temporary Stay)? This is a big disappointment for  Filipinos who recognize the territorial and political integrity and sovereignty of the Philippine nation as defined in its constitution, that there is only one Philippine government, one constitution, one territory,  one armed forces and one commander-in-chief. Those militant subgroups (such as the MILF, Abu Sayyaf  and even the NPA) who don’t call themselves Filipinos and don’t obey the laws of the land and use violence against the state and its  citizens are simply criminals and enemies of the state, their acts of violence be suppressed and their secessionist political agenda be given no support whatsoever.

But listening to the ongoing discussions one gets the impression that some Malacañang officials seem to be treating the MILF as a separate and recognized government already, nurturing it and even giving it a cash advance of PH5 million for the education of its future leaders. By definition, the MILF is a militant group, a “Liberation Front”, hence, leadership training is  understood in the first place as  military training, of training their fighters to fight in front to liberate themselves and parts of the southern Philippine territory. Government aid of any kind should take place only when the MILF (or any terrorist group) has surrendered its arms and has vowed to cooperate. Used or not used for ammunitions that killed our marines in Al-Barka, the truth is that the government will never get this money back, and if the MILF doesn’t get what it wants from these peace talks and leaves the table disgruntled, then you know already what it will do with this money and with our soldiers in Mindanao.

Giving money to a rebel group before or during the peace talks is a sign of weakness and political incorrectness. I’ve heard of critics accusing P-Noy of buying peace- or of bribing the MILF-  with that money. But how can you buy something from MILF which it doesn’t sell or is not in its assortment, namely PEACE?  The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was the first to separate from the MNLF and for reasons other than peace:   “(1) Bangsamoro Land should be an Independent Islamic State, and (2) the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters should not negotiate with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines”.

With this in mind, one wonders about the outcome of these peace talks. Peace negotiation is genuine only when the rebel group of any type would surrender its arms to the government and renounces war and all forms of violence  as means to its ends. Without this being done, any peace talk is a calculated talk and  a cover only to build up their fire power and resume violence. In the case of the MILF, its leaders should realize the impossibility of attaining their goal of separating Mindanao or regions of it from the rest of the Philippines and the futility of war for these only  subject their “own” people to indefinite period of  poverty and isolation. Impossible because this is not supported by the majority of the Filipinos who are Christians (80 percent being Catholics). It is true that in a multi-ethnic, multicultural nation like the Philippines, the government must always negotiate in a position of integrity and of strength to prevent the total disintegration of the nation when each minority group would start building  its own armed forces and demanding autonomy or separation.

There are  legitimate grievances and  justifiable historical grounds to demand for autonomy but these should be within the right framework. A unitary form of government like the Philippines is not the right framework for the MILF’s demand for autonomy or independent sub-state. Several sound compromises could be supported in a Federal form of government but even then this demand for an independent Islamic State for the Bangsamoro could not be accommodated in a Federation. And at present, I think the Philippines is ready for everything except for Federalism.

How can a government give such a  dole out using the tax payers’ money to these state enemies who not only terrorize the people but don’t even pay their taxes to the government? President Aquino must be experimenting here with something new  but I doubt if he’s on the right direction. Peace talks and ceasefire with active militant groups have never culminated in a harmonious way as examples in other countries show us- the IRA in Ireland, ETA in Spain, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, etc.,  as long as they continue to hang on to their secessionist plan and choose to load and sharpen their arms in the midst of peace talks.

The Philippines need peace but peace must be won sometimes and be enforced all the time. Peace, not war, is won in battlefields. It’s not a sign of peace when marines were and are being beheaded inside their own country. It’s not a sign of one country when the armed forces of the Philippines are not allowed to move in some regions to  fight for peace and order. I read PNP chief  Director General Nicanor Bartolome saying  “I think the best way to win a war is through peace,” ….  Well, it’s a wise sounding statement but it needs relativization. Active armed confrontation can indeed be prevented through peaceful means but it depends on the enemies and what’s at stake. The MILF would readily shake hands with us and kiss our cheeks if we  would just acquiese in their demands, if we would just give them the whole Mindanao and wash our hands of it. Giving is holier but one cannot give everything away. From the past till today, peace has been and is being won through wars. It was  only when Japan surrendered and Hitler defeated that peace came to Asia and Europe. A revolution ended recently Gadhafi’s reign of terror in Libya. Government should not trust armed rebel groups for they are devious and treacherous –  and it’s a natural strategy because they are weaker and in the minority, hence, their series of ambuscade, dry-gulching, bombings, kidnappings and other tricks such as peace talks and ceasefire.

Pres. Aquino’s desire to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao is good but it’s an illusion for the devil is in the details. There is a family background to Pres. Aquino’s ardent zeal of taming the MILF when we will recall that her mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, also tamed Nur Misuari- the MNLF commander who caused too much headaches to Marcos- when she talked peace with  him in Sulu which resulted in the passing of the  Republic Act No. 6734 known as the ARMM (Autonomous Region Of Muslim Mindanao) Organic Act  in 1989 as mandated in the 1987 Constitution. But even this, as we can see, did not bring lasting peace in Mindanao. So, President Noy Aquino should rather focus on law enforcement, education and economic programs to end extreme poverty in our nation. Extreme poverty and perceived social injustice are among the major details that make up the devil.



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Playing With Our Values : On Zubiri’s Resignation

by jun asuncion


On its face value, the resignation is a  good example for others to follow who have served the Arroyo machinery of deceit for the last nine years. As there are still many of them in the government, those who know that they won the 2007 elections ( the winning of which also helped them won the 2010 elections in one form or another) through fraud should voluntarily leave their posts now for the sake of the nation. As Zubiri himself opined,

“No amount of power, position or wealth is worth sacrificing one’s honor and integrity.”

Honor and integrity weigh more in the end when the truth comes out, the issue becoming more intense and starts hurting the whole family and the whole clan.

Zubiri himself denies vehemently his winning through electoral fraud in 2007. He could be telling the truth but he could also be unmindful or unaware of the truth. But the 2007 political circumstances were definitely against him. We know that it will not smell rotten if there is nothing rotten somewhere.  And the political circumstances during Arroyo’s time were rotten that this rotten smell went even beyond the Philippine territories. The whole world still remembers how the Philippine politics smelt so bad at that time. And Zubiri should consider that a rotten fruit in a basket ruins the rest. Coming himself from this basket, he should not wonder why he carries that rotten smell on his shirt.

The 2007 election was grounded itself on the rotten 2004 election which still smells pungent today, providing a lot of air purifying work for the Aquino administration. And then again, the 2004 election was itself grounded on an unconstitutional coming to power  by the then Vice-President Gloria Arroyo (Edsa II) in 2001 when Erap was ejected from his office without due process of law. The Philippine political scene on those days was marked by political conspiracies. Looking back, I think  Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo has done nothing in her political life but to ruin  and dishonor her father’s name.

Back to Zubiri. Philstar reports: “The SET is deliberating on an electoral protest filed by Pimentel. It was alleged in his election protest that votes in Maguindanao in the 2007 midterm elections had been manipulated to favor Zubiri and other candidates of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Zubiri won the 12th Senate slot, based on election results. Zubiri, who comes from a powerful political clan in Bukidnon, denied he had cheated.”

Zubiri denied he had cheated. If  Arroyo cheated for him, then he was telling the truth.

But the case of  the detained Lintal Bedol and Zaldy Ampatuan seems to shed a bit more light to Zubiri’s situation.

While the detained Zaldy Ampatuan claims massive cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections, Zubiri seems to discount its possibility with his statements that:

– it’s ““highly suspect” that witnesses recently surfaced to claim there was massive fraud in the 2007 elections.”

– “Armed merely with their vocal chords and without any supporting documents to prove their allegations, these alleged witnesses are now shouting out loud and, as if with full orchestration, that my election was marred with irregularities,”

– “While my counter-protest is still pending before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the revision and recounting of the ballots are going on smoothly to find out the truth on the parties’ allegations, a number of highly suspect ‘personalities’ suddenly cropped up recently, claiming that they were allegedly ‘witnesses’ to the alleged frauds and irregularities during the 2007 elections…  ”

Now, if not in captivity and not threatened with perhaps life imprisonment (in China and Japan, death penalty), do you think Zaldy Ampatuan would claim  those massive election cheating? And, trading places with Ampatuan, do you think Zubiri would deny this said election cheating?

We should remember that the patronage politics of Arroyo was in need of strong political allies in the south and that the Zubiri and Ampatuan political clans were in the same Arroyo basket.

But it seems that two different situations produce two different arguments even among basket members. Who is lying now, Zaldy Ampatuan  or Juan Miguel Zubiri?

As I have noted, Zubiri could be innocent and could be telling the truth and he has the right to defend his truth. My problem lies in his utter denial of the 2004 and 2007 poll irregularities. Why deny the obvious and argue as baseless and groundless the joint target of the DOJ and Comelec investigations? Here he becomes – to use  his own words –  “highly suspect” for me.

His resignation is not just a pure gesture of delicadeza for there is something more to it. His whole behavior is funny in a way. If duly elected as senator – as he claims – why resign and not fight for it? In this way, he would be giving honor to the people (including his own clan) who voted for him. The family is important, and not to hurt his own family is much more important. But it should not be used as an alibi for everything.

If I try to zoom in to Zubiri’s picture, I can see somebody who wants to save his own skin by appealing to the psychology (pag-hanga and awa) of the Filipino people and he shows a great deal of ambivalence in his actions. His last minute sweet talking and gesturing all point to his angst and appeal for help and awa. I can see someone who smells but deny the Arroyo smell on his shirt and now hurries home to change it with a fresh one in the hope of a fresh and successful political return. This man is playing with our values.

We will see as we wait for the DOJ and Comelec final findings.





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To Correct History?

by jun asuncion

Brain drain is a fact.  That we still have brilliant brains  in the Philippines is also a fact.  Among such brains I have considered are Senator Escudero and Senator Legarda. But it seems that intelligence is something and motivation is another thing. That a personal motive – especially a political one – sometimes could override intelligence which results to a nearly stupid kind of logic coming out from such brilliant brains.

A case in point is Escuderos statement today in Philstar’s headlines  “DOJ ready to probe 2004, 2007 poll fraud ”
where he talked of correcting history:

“To correct history”

Escudero said he would file a joint resolution for the purpose of gathering representatives of the DOJ and the Comelec once the second regular session of the 15th Congress starts next week.

Escudero recommended a retired justice to head the fact-finding committee.

“The objective is not to establish that ex-President Arroyo indeed cheated in the past elections and not to jail her. The objective here is to establish who really won in the 2004 elections and give the person proper place in history,” Escudero said.

Escudero said the purpose of the committee is not to render void Arroyo’s term.

“This (proposed committee) is not to invalidate President Arroyo’s term. This is a rare opportunity for our country to correct history,” he said.

 So far, so good. But if you would look at it closer, something is wrong with his thinking. Hence, so near, so bad. And this prompted me to ask to myself this morning as I read these lines, for heaven’s sake, “what happened to this mind?”, “What is his motive that twisted his logic?” And where is his legislative and/or judicial  impartiality?

First, look at the term Fact-finding. To find a fact is to find all facts related to the case in point. The real case in point is the electoral fraud of 2004 and 2007 which involved Arroyo.

Therefore, what’s the use of creating  a fact-finding committee when at the onset you already exclude possible facts that might point to Arroyo having cheated in the past elections? You don’t need to read between the lines when he says that “The objective is not to establish that ex- President Arroyo indeed cheated in the past elections and not to jail her…” And how can a lawyer-senator utter such comforting words to a suspect before the trial and weighing of factual evidences before a legal court? Where is impartiality and professionalism here? What does he want to achieve by sweet-talking Arroyo?

Sweet talking continues: ” The objective here is to establish who really won in the 2004 elections and give the person proper place in history,” Escudero said.

Well, it’s proper to give credit to whom it is due – in this case either to Arroyo or Poe. But supposing Poe really won the election by votes, wouldn’t this fact automatically establish Arroyo as the cheater? The simple Bulaneño logic would say  “yes, it would”.

Correcting history or giving a person proper place in history includes both sides of the coin, the victim and the crime perpetrator. When we think for instance of the holocaust, we give honor to the victimized Jews and dishonor to Hitler. In our case, why emphasize Poe, the victim and let go the cheater Arroyo? Would this serve as a good example of criminal jurisprudence? Is election cheating on the presidential level  not covered by law?

Before the court has spoken its verdict, Arroy0  naturally still enjoy  her legal  right to presumption of innocence though the public knowledge speaks of Arroyo as the cheater. For Senator Legarda, it’s already clear that Arroyo was the cheater and Poe the cheated when, “reacting to Escudero’s proposal, Legarda suggested placing Poe’s photograph in Malacañang, which she said, would be an “unprecedented way of correcting history.” 

Is electoral fraud not a crime in the Philippines but just a matter of media entertainment and gossips? In the US it is a crime. Remember Watergate?

For us, It seems that it is not when we listen to Senator Legarda: ” There is the need to go after the people involved in the electoral fraud. It is also important to know what happened… but there is no longer a legal way to address the entire process. Will you invalidate the services of GMA (Arroyo) and (former Vice President) Noli (de Castro)? Can you declare FPJ (Poe), who died because of ill-feelings on this?” she asked.

This is another example of derailed logic. What happened to our brilliant brains in the Philippines? Why sound suddenly so forgiving and idiotic at the same time? Yes, no one can invalidate Arroyo’s services in the past but a crime done in the past (and even when proven of planning to do it sometime  in the future) is  punishable by law. A crime such as electoral fraud is not a public service but an insult to the public. It  is a crime against the people, the electorate and against the rules of the Comelec.

Correcting history is a  blurred concept. Correcting the criminals with appropriate punishment is much clearer. Today’s government officials like Escudero and Legarda should rather face their responsiblities.


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CHICAGO (jGLi) – When I was covering the mayor’s offices of Rizal province in the Philippines in the seventies, I was pleasantly surprised to see a mayor of Antipolo in near tears when I told him politicians should pave the way for other aspirants when they had grown tired of their jobs or had run out of ideas to improve other peoples’ lives.

“Joseph,” the mayor told me, “what will happen to me when I leave the town hall? Running for mayor and winning the job is the be-all and end-all for me. I don’t have any other marketable skills to boot.”

If you get a similar response from politicians in your neighborhood, you should be ready to stick by him for a long haul.

These kinds of politicians might not have heard of the Peter Principle propounded in 1968 by educator Dr. Laurence J. Peter, who said that: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence … in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties … Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

This theory met its match when the United States Military has required that certain ranks should be held for no longer than a set amount of time, a lack of compliance of which could render grounds for dismissal.

We can just imagine if the Philippine military will ignore the Peter Principle. What would have happened to the Philippines if thefts of comptrollers of the Philippine Armed Forces like Generals Carlos Garcia and Jacinto Ligot or AFP Chiefs of Staff like the suicide-driven Angelo Reyes, Diomedio Villanueva and Roy Cimatu were not exposed? Don’t you think they would ever leave their posts if they were not detected?

And if these kinds of generals were given the option to retire from office like a United States Supreme Court justice who has lifetime tenure, where will the Philippine government get its depleted funds?


Look at what happened to other generals abroad, whose rise to power had remained unchecked. There were Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Augusto Pinochet or Col. Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi to name few, who are shoo-in for entries into the Hall of Shame.

And this takes us back to our local politicians, like my favorite provincial governor in Sorsogon, Atty. Raul Lee.

Governor Lee is your typical Filipino politician, who believes that, like the mayor of Antipolo, Rizal, or the Hall-of-Shame generals that they are the only competent people who can improve other peoples’ lives.

If Governor Lee will be voted off, he can no longer game the system. His position will be a fare game to all comers, who believe that he no longer have an iota of competence.

Ever since his political rival in Governor Juan Frivaldo died after becoming the longest-serving Sorsogon provincial governor, Governor Lee seemed to have carried a chip on his shoulder because he could no longer break Mr. Frivaldo’s winning streak.

With term limits now in place, like any other politician protecting his turf, when Gov. Lee will just about to be termed out, he will let his wife, Sally, run for his position so he will not lose his touch of power. And he can run again for the same position in case his wife is also about to be termed out.

But if they have outlived their competence, as they never age like wine, I believe, Governor Lee should just cede his position to his vice governor and “cut his losses.”


Instead of enjoying his retirement, the 69-year-old Mr. Lee is now re-enforcing his mini-dynasty that he would only be dreaming if the aging “Tata Juan” were still alive. He is now grooming his son, the incumbent Sorsogon City Vice Mayor, and his grandson, the incumbent SK Federation President, for his position.

I don’t mind if his dynasty takes root for as long as can improve the peoples’ lives till Kingdom Come.

But why is he now so insecure like Marcos? Governor Lee has also now usurped the power of the provincial legislature called Sangguniang Panlalawigan by reducing its budget?

The last I heard, in order to silence his critics, Governor Lee has also taken over the appointing power of his vice governor (Antonio H. Escudero) and suddenly became a micro-manager.

After being named to answer for the fertilizer scam, Mr. Lee turned the table on his opponents in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan by hitting them where it hurts most: deprive the SP the ability to hire and keep their own staff.

All appointments by the SP will now have to go thru the eye of his needle so he can buy their loyalties.

His vocal critique, SP member Vladimir Frivaldo, the grandson of “Tata Juan,” was deprived of his “proposed staff complement” after Governor Lee learned that the grandson of his former foe was opposing Lee’s support for STL (small town lottery) operation, the controversial operation of mining in Barangays Balocaue and Cabagahan both in Matnog, Sorsogon and demand for liquidation of the loan obtained by his wife, Sally Lee, in the amount of 260-M pesos (U.S.$ 5.7-Millions) before Lee can obtain a new 350-million pesos (U.S $8.75-M), the biggest loan in the history of the province.

Mr. Vladimir Frivaldo reminded Gov Lee that it is the duty of the SP to approve the annual budgets, the request by the office of the Governor to obtain loan, to oversee that programs and projects are implemented properly within existing laws, guidelines and procedures and make implementors accountable, and not the governor’s.

I don’t know how Gov. Lee can circumvent the fertilizer scam filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman. If he can steer clear of the charges, the people of Sorsogon can always gather enough signatures to start the ball rolling for his unprecedented recall. (




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