Tag Archive | "Philippines"

January Spring


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fxFfWFrom Philippines Congressman Mong Palatino… 

So far, it has been an awful beginning for the year 2013 in Southeast Asia: Myanmar’s military launched airstrikes against Kachin rebels which dimmed hopes of a peaceful settlement of the civil war; prominent Laos activist Sombath Somphone has remained missing and has probably become a victim of state-sanctioned enforced disappearance; Vietnam convicted 14 Catholic bloggers and activists for allegedly participating in anti-government activities; and more than half a million families are still recovering from the impact of typhoon Pablo (Bopha) which hit the southern Mindanao island of the Philippines last December and was named the world’s deadliest disaster of 2012.

But if there is one reason to be cheerful today, it is the massive and peaceful gathering of Malaysians in the streets last January 12 in support of the multisectoral campaign for more democratic reforms in governance.

The ‘Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat’ (Uprising of the Citizens) rally, which was organized by Opposition forces and civil society groups, gathered more than 100,000 people inside and outside the historic Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. Unlike the Bersih (clean) street assembly last April 2012 which was violently dispersed by the police, the Saturday rally called #KL112 by netizens turned out to be peaceful. There may be a disagreement between police forces and activists on the total number of people who joined the event but at least there were no throwing of tear gas canisters this time.

The rally had 10 specific demands, many of which have been articulated already by the Bersih movement like the call for clean, fair and transparent elections with an independent press.

Students repeated their demand for free education and they were joined by educators who urged the government to support the national language and preserve the mother tongue in schools.

Interestingly, there were place-specific issues such as the fair allocation for Sabah and Sarawak, a proposal to give 20 percent oil royalties for petroleum-producing states, and the defense of local heritage and traditional villages.

Other demands included the call for a green environment, better conditions for women, release of all political detainees, and protection of welfare of civil servants.

The issues raised in the rally are expected to be discussed in the General Elections this year, although Prime Minister Najib Razak has yet to announce the date of the elections. Through the rally, the Opposition probably hoped to show its popularity in the nation’s capital and win more votes to finally dislodge the ruling coalition which has been in power for several decades already.

But the huge turnout in the rally is less an indication of voter preference for the Opposition than a reflection of the rising dissatisfaction of many citizens against the policies of the government. Many people, especially the young, are clearly disappointed with the corruption in society, the systematic cheating in the elections, and the lack of transparency and public participation in governance.

There were people who joined the rally to simply express support for democracy. The remarkable collective display of political sentiment of thousands of ordinary Malaysians made the event even more meaningful as it taught many people the real essence of democracy.

Since 2011, Malaysia’s Bersih has become the region’s shining example of a citizen movement and direct political action by the people. It was initiated to simply call for voting reforms but it has quickly evolved into a popular movement for democratic reforms in society. The recent hundred thousand march in Kuala Lumpur has once again confirmed that Malaysians are showing the way on how to best practice democracy and assert people power in the region.

It has been a gloomy January for many human rights advocates working in many parts of Southeast Asia but the successful assembly in Kuala Lumpur last January 12 gave hope and inspiration that it’s still possible to make 2013 a memorable and happy year for democracy

 

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The Isle Of Luzon


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From Philippines Congressman Mong Palatino…

There’s a need to highlight the islandness of Luzon. It may be the biggest island in the Philippines but it’s still an island. Its unique ecosystem must be studied in its organic wholeness. Dividing it into five regions and dozens of small provinces had served the parochial objectives of pragmatic politics but it prevented the formation of an island mentality which made it difficult to inspire and mobilize the people to support island-wide initiatives like protecting the environment.

There are no Luzonians or Luzon islanders; only Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Tagalogs, Bicolanos and Indigenous Peoples. (Meanwhile, it’s convenient for Luzon folks and everybody to tag Mindanao as an island and the residents there as Mindanaoans).

There are no Luzon coastal areas, mountain ranges, and watershed zones but there are several beach resorts, provincial pilgrim and trekking sites, and tourist hotspots. The pollution in Manila, the loss of forest cover in Sierra Madre, the destruction of marine habitat in Batangas, the coastal reclamation in Cavite, El Nino in Isabela, red tide in Pangasinan – they are identified as place-specific concerns but they should be regarded as disturbing signs of the deterioration of the quality of life in Luzon.

Luzon’s natural beauty, its precious but finite resources, and even its destructive charms are obscured by the artificial division of the island into several sub-political units. Mayon is part of Albay but its eruption is not the problem of Bicolanos alone. The July 1990 earthquake which hit most parts of Luzon revived the dormant Pinatubo volcano in 1991. The West Valley Fault is not just a threat to Marikina and Quezon City.

How can we push Manilans to act against mining in nearby Bulacan if they fail to see themselves as inhabitants of the same island? How can we clean Manila Bay if our coastal clean-up is limited only in cities and municipalities which have adopted the program? Trees are abundant in NLEX and SLEX but the watersheds are denuded. Our backyard is clean but the surrounding community is filthy. A city, a province, is adjudged clean and green but it means nothing if the island, our Luzon Island, is hurting from our dirty activities.

Understanding Luzon’s geography is essential in formulating policies that would produce a broader impact on the greater population of the island. Sadly, we prefer to plan via micro political units. The potential of localization has been distorted when the traditional bureaucracy dominated it. Grassroots empowerment is impotent if not linked to larger political objectives. There must be a conscious plan to integrate the local with the regional, national, and even global campaigns.

Even the military recognizes the organizational value of establishing its presence in big territories through its several formations in Luzon (North Luzon and South Luzon command, for example). Gloria Arroyo’s super regions identified North Luzon as an agri-business incubator, Mega Manila as the country’s key cyber-corridor, and Bicol as part of the central Philippine tourism hub. But Arroyo’s blueprint, even if it seeks to harness the spatial characteristics of the island, adheres to the neoliberal design of restricting the local economy as mere supplier of raw materials and semi-skilled (but cheap) labor as required and dictated by monopoly capital.

On the other hand, the four-decade old revolutionary movement continues to operate in several fronts in Luzon. It maximizes the terrain of the island to survive the military offensives of its better equipped enemies and to expand its influence in the countryside. But it has yet to prove that it has mastered, at least politically, the changing rural-urban dynamics. In particular, its Red Power which almost dominated old Manila in the past, needs to be recalibrated in the new Mega Manila.

What political education is required to breed a new generation of Luzon islanders who understand the importance of linking the parochial with the bigger territorial issue? We need less island mentality in the Visayas islets but Luzon’s change agents must learn to think and act like an islander. We need to imagine ourselves as tribespeople living and interacting in a big island.

Luzon islanders would oppose the magnetite mining in Ilocos, the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Subic (in a protected area of all places!), the earth-balling (read: cutting) of pine trees in SM Baguio, and the reclamation of Manila Bay (in a bird sanctuary) not simply because they wanted to be eco-warriors (not a bad career choice, though) but as an active affirmation of their commitment to preserve and protect their home. Not all Luzon islanders are dedicated environmentalists but they could easily connect the everyday woes of a distant village to their community issues. Manilans, who would not hesitate to express their disappointment and anger against the continuing pollution in Pasig River, are also expected to support the petition of Nueva Vizcaya to ban all forms of mining in the province because it’s a watershed haven (it supports five mega dams in Luzon).

We need tree-huggers, bird watchers, and nature mystics but no less than the mass mobilization of the greatest number of people is required to save our fragile environment. The popular indignation in the online and also remarkably offline communities against the plan of SM to cut pine trees in the City of Pines is an encouraging sign that we are beginning to understand the interconnectedness of our daily struggles in this part of the archipelago.

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No Country For Young Politicians


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From Philippine Congressman Mong Palatino…

There are no young politicians in the Philippines. Politicians are getting younger but their politics remain old. The new faces, the fashionable and adorable ones, come from the same old boring brand. According to the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center, seventy-seven percent (77 percent) of legislators aged 26-40 belong to political dynasties. They are temporary substitutes for parents and relatives who are barred by law from seeking another term for the same position. Worse, there are those who join the family business even if the old timers, the ‘old porkers’, have not yet retired. They flaunt their power and questionable wealth in public while clinging to the conceited belief that only their family members possess the intellectual competence and dedication required for public service. They spend their idle days accumulating more capital for the family hoard while inflating their egos.

Politicians die young. There are rebellious children who are quite ashamed of their family legacy. They are desperate to shed the trapo image. They try to be different by espousing popular advocacies while some are publicly contradicting their relatives. But their idealism is often defeated by the unbearable weight of the old system. How could they fight the trapo old guards in the parliamentary political arena and expect to emerge unscathed? How could they succeed in creating history if they are unable and unwilling to imagine the possibility of political reforms through non-electoral politics? Humbled by their powerlessness and overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the system, they surrender to the seductive appeal of the status quo. They become reborn reactionaries guided by this mantra: ‘Stop fighting, start compromising. The system is imperfect but we can still make it work. I want to fight but I want to retain my privileges.’ In short, they want their pork and eat it too while the leftover is given to charity. Convinced that fighting the system is a losing battle, they turn their attention to the next elections. And so everyday we see their smiling faces plastered all over the town, we hear and read their awkward one-liners on TV or radio and even on the internet, and we are helpless to their aggressive use of PR magic and media manipulation. Their fulltime day job is to deceive the people through the most sophisticated and even ruthless means. The promising young politician has mutated into a trapo walking dead monster. It’s the worst kind of death.

Youth without youth. The curious case of Juan Ponce Enrile or the rehabilitation of his image from a hated Marcos crony to being the third most important statesman in the country is simply unbelievable. It’s a very disturbing, frightening political phenomenon. His life story teaches the youth that a person can still manage to become respectable in mainstream politics after being loyal to a fascist dictator for many years and despite participating in the bloody mutilation of democratic ideals in society (military dictatorship, human rights violations, coup, dagdag-bawas). It’s scary to see the rise of closet Enrile fans who are impressed with his legal brilliance while seeking to replicate his staying power in politics. Are we then doomed to a future dominated by Enrile zombies? Fortunately, we have the shining example of senior citizen activists as a viable alternative to the figure of Enrile. The 1960s radicals and the First Quarter Storm generation have remained politically relevant despite shunning electoral politics for many decades. Despite their age, they continue to battle the three evils of society (imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism, feudalism). They revived the mass movement and the revolution in their youth and they are still at it. They are the political Harry Potter, the boys and girls who lived (and survived Voldemort/Marcos). They are the political Peter Pan, the boys and girls who refused to grow old. Forget Enrile, who keeps reinventing himself as a fake and pathetic champion of the masses. (Forget Belo too). The secret to eternal youth is to take the road of revolution.

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Punch Hard Like Pacquiao


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From Philippines Congressman Mong Palatino…

Excerpts of keynote speech delivered during the second general assembly of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns in New Jersey, United States.

When I (first) arrived here (in 2008), people were talking only about two things: Obama and the recession. Obama promised change and the voters believed him. His victory was seen as something that would usher in a new political era. But the political euphoria immediately died down when the inconvenient truths of the economy were finally revealed. It soon became apparent that the minimum wage earners will be the most vulnerable sector if the recession worsens. Indeed, workers lost their homes while banks received bail-out funds, thousands were laid-off from work while bank executives were given fat bonuses. The American Dream became a nightmare for those who are barely surviving from paycheck to paycheck.

This was America in 2008. Three years later, it seems the situation has changed for the worse. Obama is still Obama, promising here and there about hope and change. Wall Street is still Wall Street, accumulating more fictitious wealth for the corporate shareholders at the expense of the working classes which produce the real wealth of society. Bank executives are allowed to ruin the economy through their black magic (popularly known as speculative investments) and their irresponsible behavior is ignored by the government. They hoard the money during good times but they require everybody in society to make a lot of sacrifice to help solve the financial mess they created.

During the Cold War, it was believed that if the US sneezes, the world gets a cold. It’s still true today: the virus of the US financial crisis has spread to many parts of the world.

But if there is something to cheer today, it’s the rising and visible resistance of the masses in the virtual and offline worlds. The people’s struggles are intensifying. The birds are even angry, the plants are fighting the zombies, and the fighting collectives are multiplying.

What is the role of Filipino migrants in this global counterstrike against the exploitative financial and economic system whose controlling apparatus is located here in the US?

You perform a very special and significant task. Special because you echo the devastating impact of neoliberal globalization in the Third World. Your militant presence, your voices, your status updates, your organizing in the grassroots can unmask the evil economic order. Significant because as you struggle for better protection for migrants you are also strengthening the people’s capacity to defeat the empire. You are slaying the dragon inside its lair.

It’s inevitable that your actions are both local and global; and you must realize that their impact is also felt locally and globally. I admire the inventiveness of the migrant’s movement because you are able to articulate your demands in a foreign land without losing your symbolic and organic ties with the homeland. I salute NAFCON for affirming the link between the immigrant rights movement in the US and the struggle of the Filipino people in the Philippines for genuine democracy, freedom, peace and justice. This admirable political standpoint must inspire Filipinos in the US to act decisively against economic inequality, corporate greed, racism, and political repression; and this should bring them closer to the revolution which is raging in the Philippines as they become part of the global people’s movement for genuine change.

Or in other words, Filipinos must realize that shouting and marching for immigrant rights in the US will also contribute to the victory of the people’s movement in the Philippines. As you militantly assert your political demands here, the unjust domination of a corrupt and highly abusive political-economic system in the Philippines is weakened too. You can’t present a genuine alternative to the public without disturbing the hegemony of the empire here in the belly of the beast and in the peripheries of the kingdom. If you punch, a tyrant somewhere in the Philippines will receive the blow. So punch hard like Pacquiao.

But NAFCON and its member organizations are relevant not only because of your interventions in behalf of all Filipino migrants but also because you are determined to address the roots of the problems confronting the community. You are correct to highlight the feudal backwardness of the Philippines and the despotic rule of oligarchs in the archipelago as the culprit for the forced migration of Filipinos to distant shores. It’s essential to pinpoint the criminal responsibility of politicians, past and present, in maintaining a system that draws its sustenance from the sweat, blood, and labor of migrant Filipinos.

What kind of government allows its own people to be exported to other countries and expects the continued inflow of remittances to keep the economy afloat? What do we call a policy that shamelessly sells the labor power and dignity of Filipinos to the altar of the global market? How can we accept the argument that the damaging impact of migration like separated families, the exodus of skilled professionals, the exploitation of cheap Filipino labor, the silent agony of discriminated Filipinos who experience various humiliating forms of racism – can we endure and ignore this suffering just because the OFW remittances constitute the black gold of the Philippine economy?

Only a leadership with a shortage of imagination could proclaim that no alternative is available to this social set-up; that we have to continue exporting our own people; and that we still need to experience more pain and anguish for a longer time. If this is the way our government thinks, then we have no choice but to do the only honorable and right thing and that is to export all our politicians to other countries. Or to Mars if no one will accept them.

I have some bad news to share and also some good news as pasalubong from Pinas.

The bad news is that the present supremo of the Philippine Islands is no torch bearer of genuine change so the situation in the country is bound to worsen. Why do we say that? Because 1) President Noynoy Aquino, the son of two democracy icons, the country’s most illustrious bachelor, the brother of Kris, the former owner of a second-hand Porsche, the hacendero president is surrounded by advisers who faithfully cling to the neoliberal dogma; 2) After more than a year in office, his single concrete achievement as president is the elimination of wang wang in the streets but the more insidious forms of wang wang mentality like the refusal of landlords to distribute their lands to small farmers are tolerated; 3) There is no review of anti-people policies implemented by previous governments like the reduction of state subsidies to social services, unabated profiteering of oil companies, and active promotion of labor export.

The Daang Matuwid is now operational but it’s only for Porsche cars, the president’s friends and kamag-anak. And if you are lucky, you can pass but you must pay high toll fees, VAT included.

What should migrants do? As the boss of Pnoy, demand reforms, assert your migrants’ agenda. Remind him that decent jobs will not be created if he continues to subscribe to a discredited economic thinking. Make him understand too that progress shouldn’t be equated with abstract numbers like GDP, foreign investments, and rising profits of big corporations. We are more concerned about the quality of living in society like the social opportunities for the poor, relevant education, accessible health care, peace in the community, delivery of social justice, solidarity, bayanihan in society. These are the things that truly matter.

Most of all, migrants should show to Pnoy and to other ruling oligarchs that you are prepared to exert the full potential of your power, and I do not only mean your purchasing power, but the power to change the world, the power to refashion a new social order.

2011 is an important year for the people’s movement. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Edsa Dos Uprising, the 20th year of the historic Senate vote that rejected the US Bases Treaty, the 25th year of the EDSA People Power, the 40th year of the Diliman Commune. The year started with the Arab Spring uprisings; then the Occupy Wall Street protest inspired several ‘Occupy’ actions. In the Philippines, farmers and workers conducted an ‘Occupy Mendiola’ protest a few days ago. They said they are the 75 percent of the population who are urging the other 24 percent to join the struggle in resisting the oppressive rule of the 1 percent.

But after we ‘Occupy’, we must organize. Otherwise, the repressive state will attempt to seize control of the spaces we liberated. The protesters in Wall Street and other ‘Occupy’ sites need to regroup, expand, and organize the people, the masses who are preoccupied with something else.

I said earlier that I have some good news as pasalubong. I’m happy to announce that the people’s movement in the Philippines is getting stronger and bolder. The parliament of the streets has been successful in presenting the people’s agenda; and it has been consistent in unmasking the bankrupt and reactionary programs of the Aquino government. Meanwhile, the mass movement in the countryside for genuine agrarian reform and the protection of our finite natural resources continues to frighten the enemies of the people. Day by day, inch by inch, zone by zone, victory is getting nearer.

This is my pasalubong. What about your pabaon to me? Well, I can report back to our kasamas in the Philippines that the Filipino community in the US, led by NAFCON and other allied organizations, is ready to enter into a new era of resurgent struggles. The community is prepared to boost the full potential of the mass movement in advancing the rights of migrants, the workers, the poor, in solidarity with all those who are struggling for a better world, a new future.

Once again, I salute the NAFCON for leading the noble fight of Filipinos in the US. Laban mga kasama! Tuluy-tuloy sa pakikibaka! Mabuhay ang migranteng Pilipino!

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The People’s Highway – A Reclamation


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From Philippines Congressman Mong Palatino…

A specter is haunting Edsa today: the specter of street crimes. Car thieves and bus bombers are causing panic in the metropolis. Traffic and pollution are getting worse everyday. Giant billboards are displayed on every building along the highway. The old folks are asking: where are the trees in Edsa?

The government assures us that peace and order will be restored. In fact it has dispatched the MMDA as its executioner in Edsa. Discipline will be enforced (sa ikauunland ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan). Police patrols will be more visible. State agents will man the buses. Phone SIM cards will be registered.

The networked citizens are cheering. Bravo MMDA for the traffic updates. Bravo MMDA for the CCTV images. Yes to SIM registration; after all we have nothing to hide. We are good citizens of the Republic. Mussolini could be smiling in his grave. After all, Mussolini’s fascist regime was once praised in Italy for making the trains ran on time. Let’s continue the tradition of equating the ruthless but efficient delivery of public services with good politics.

Why did we allow this to happen in Edsa, our Edsa? Just 25 years ago, it was the site of a spectacular uprising of the people against state repression. Its political value was affirmed in 2001 when anti-Erap forces converged there. Its subversiveness was exposed when the pro-Erap plebian crowd used the same space to express their hatred against the elites.

The self-proclaimed guardians of Edsa have since then banned the gathering of suspicious crowds in the highway in order not to repeat what they claim to be the desecration of church properties in Edsa-Ortigas. Desecration my foot! What they really wanted to avoid was the repetition of the political sequence in 1986 and 2001 because the next aspect of that gathering could be a more radical or more genuinely radical event. They fear that if the masses will succeed in Edsa, the hegemony of their rich patrons will weaken. In short, they wanted to preserve Edsa as the site of the last great stand of the intelligentsia and middle forces.

The state is also afraid of Edsa and its radical meaning. And so in the past decade, the MMDA has banned the presence of people in Edsa (Bawal ang tao dito, nakamamatay). Don’t cross the streets, use the footbridge. Don’t walk and march in Edsa – its either jaywalking or illegal assembly. Also, only state and corporate slogans and artworks are permissible in the highway.

Edsa, the site of world-class people power movements, is now off-limits to people. But we don’t complain because this sacrifice is needed to spur progress and better civilization.

The bourgeois state is cunning. It knows that removing the people in Edsa will make state-sanctioned politics the dominant force in the place. There is no People Power (as we know it) without the collective presence of people in Edsa. The ruling party in power feels safe without the threat of People Power haunting the bureaucrats.

And so we must resist. The people must fight back.

The first duty is to remember. The name Edsa orders us not to forget the past. Edsa is historian Epifanio de los Santos, one of the chroniclers of the 1896 Philippine Revolution. Remembering Edsa as a protest landmark is easy since it only refers to the immediate past. Use the memory of radical Edsa to challenge the oppressive present and not to prettify the image of the haciendero president.

The second duty is to question and challenge the dominance of the bourgeoisie in Edsa. They have reterritorialized the space in favor of their class interest. If we allow them complete ownership of Edsa, we will soon lose Commonwealth and C-5. The toiling masses, the real builders of society, are rendered invisible in Edsa. Let the proletariats terrorize the capitalists in Edsa!

How to do it? The third duty involves the restoration of progressive politics in Edsa. There are concrete struggles today: Reject the anti-poor LRT/MRT fare hikes. Defend the San Roque community in North Triangle. Expose and oppose the elements of a police state which are now prevailing in Edsa.

The other alternative (easy but cowardly) is to do nothing. If we choose this option, two kinds of terror will win. The deadly terror inflicted by the anonymous bus bombers and the numbing terror of the state masquerading as public service.

To fight terror, we must bring back politics. Radical politics is needed to defeat terrorism. People Power, not state terror, is the answer to the specter of ‘street crimes’ in Edsa.

Rejecting politics means we are surrendering our right to claim Edsa. If that day comes, Edsa will be in the hands of terrorists, surveillance experts, police/military elements, corporate vultures, and porsche-riding politicians.

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A South Asian 2010


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From Bangladesh Corespondent Rezwan…

You cannot leave the South Asia region out of the picture as with nearly twenty three percent of the world’s population, events in this region apply an enormous impact on the international system. Global Voices covered some of these events from a citizen media perspective. Let us review the popular posts of 2010 from this region.

Freedom Of Expression and Censorship:

The Pakistani blogosphere entered into a huge debate on the creation of a Facebook page calling for creation of cartoons of prophet Mohammad on May 20. The situation got worse when a Lahore high-court slammed a ban of the entire Facebook domain and the netizens protested against the blanket ban. The government changed this decision later and promised to monitor popular websites including Google, Youtube, Facebook, Hotmail which could be posting blasphemous content objectionable to Muslims.

At the same time Bangladesh also temporarily banned Facebook. The official statement mentioned that the site had been blocked for hosting anti-religious and pornographic contents. But some bloggers felt that the ban was imposed mainly because obscene caricatures of the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition (both female) were being shared by some users.


Human Rights:

In India there had been eight murders and 20 serious attacks on RTI activists in the past year. Amit Jethwa, a prominent environmentalist and Right to Information (RTI) activist, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen in July after he had filed a public interest litigation in the Gujarat High Court naming a member of parliament.

India’s cyber law has been subjected to controversy because of its misuse. A government employee from Kerala got arrested for forwarding an email joke about the election debacle of the ruling party to a few friends.

Beating two boys in front of police and an enthusiastic crowd. Screenshot from YouTube Video

Pakistanis were in shock as the news and a video of the brutal mob-lynching of two teenage brothers were aired in local media on 22nd of August, 2010. The gang rape of a trainee nurse at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) also triggered widespread protests.

The Blasphemy law in Pakistan had been criticized and questioned by human rights activists because it had more often been used as a tool to spread violence and incite fear specifically among the minorities. An example of this manipulation of the law is the case of Aasia bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death on the charges of Blasphemy.

In Sri Lanka, Sarath Fonseka, the opposition candidate who was competing with the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 6th Presidential Election had been arrested by the military police and was jailed later.

After many protests the Bangladeshi ready-made garments workers secured a significant hike in the minimum wages.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, India encountered a major terrorist attack in February, 2010 when a bomb blast at a restaurant popular with tourists in India’s western city of Pune, Maharashtra killed 9 people and left 57 people injured.

Meanwhile Pakistan had been rocked by many suicide bombs and terrorist attacks in 2010.

However one positive thing we found that many of the Pakistani bloggers rejected this religious hatred.


Disasters:

2010 was particularly a bad year for Pakistan in terms of disasters. Pakistan faced its worst flood in the past 80 years, as in July-August 2010 heavy monsoon rains have caused severe flooding on the Indus river plains, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, lower Punjab and parts of Balochistan. The floods have claimed more than 2000 lives and about 20 million people, one-tenth of the Pakistan population, have suffered and most of them became homeless. The government response to tackle the situation was widely criticized.

On the contrary, it was heartening to see that common people, especially many youths of Pakistan travelled to the affected areas to help the victims. And more so Pakistani netizens were in forefront as they made their actions visible though live blogs Twitter, images and videos. Several Global Voices authors based in Pakistan including Awab Alvi, Faisal Kapadia, Sana Saleem and Salman Latif reported from the ground.

View of #Islamabad crash site from rooftop. Image from Twitpic by Rezhasan

In July Pakistan suffered its worst ever air disaster when a flight from Karachi of a private airliner crashed into the Margalla Hills in Islamabad, killing 152 people. In May an Air-India Express plane arriving from Dubai had crashed in Mangalore, south India, killing most of the people on board and netizens were outraged by the fact that the short runway was too dangerous for larger planes.

India had its share of oil spill disaster as in August a container carrier collided with another marine vessel close to Mumbai shore causing a huge oil spill, which threatened the flora and fauna of the nearby beaches.


Politics:

2010 was a turbulent year for Nepal in the political arena. In February pro monarchy groups demanding restoration of constitutional monarchy forced its capital to shut down. By May the maoists, who has a strong position in the parliament, launched a nation wide indefinite protest demanding that the incumbent government be dissolved. The government succumbed to the pressure and the Prime Minister Madhab Kumar Nepal resigned on the 30th of June, 2010. Nepal plunged into a leadership vacuum as five rounds of election in parliament failed to produce a clear winner as the new Prime Minister in August. There was no end of this political stalemate in sight till the end of the year.

In June the whole Cabinet of the government of the Maldives submitted their resignation to President Mohamed Nasheed, on the grounds that their work was severely restricted by an opposition-led Parliament. Bloggers provided logical opinions on how to solve this crisis.

After three years of respite Hartal, a South Asian form of strike action, came back in Bangladesh as the opposition alliance took the streets to to press for its 11-point demand to the government.

Protests in Kashmir turned violent since June after the security forces killed a number of youths. When the Jammu and Kashmir Government banned the SMS service to stop the flow of information and rumors, many news outlets used Facebook to reach netizens. The Indian blogosphere discussed about scopes for reconciliation and peace.

The incumbent President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa pre-poned the presidential election scheduled in 2011 presumably to harness his immense popularity after defeating the Tamil Tigers last year. With the opposittion candidate Sarath Fonseka behind bars and amidst low turn out, the victory of Rajapaksa was predictable.


Sports:

This year India hosted the Commonwealth Games for the first time and its plan to showcase its new status as a global power was marred by criticism and controversy. In the end India successfully completed the games.

Bhutanese women created the stirrings of their first feminist movement of sorts when they took on a traditionally male dominated sport Khuru (game of darts).

2010 was an eventful year for the South Asia region. Please stay tuned in 2011 for the stories seen through the eyes of the netizens. If you would like to contribute to widen our coverage across different language blogospheres in this region please contact us.

First posted in Global Voices

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Fellow Congressman…


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From Philippines Congressman Mong Palatino…

Thanks to @kabataancrew for helping me draft this speech. Delivered on November 30. My second privilege speech in the 15th Congress; my 5th as a legislator.

Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, a pleasant afternoon.

I rise today to talk about the just demand of our public universities for a higher share in our national budget. I will also discuss the problems plaguing our country’s education system and why the government needs to rethink its education policies.

Today we are commemorating the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, one of the country’s national heroes and without doubt the most popular working-class icon in our history.

The best way to honor the memory of Bonifacio is to continue his revolutionary dreams. And today, while it is truly depressing that the conditions of the poor during Bonifacio’s time and our time have not significantly improved, it is also worthy to mention that Bonifacio’s militancy continues to inspire countless Filipinos, many of them young. And like Bonifacio, today’s young idealists rely on the collective wisdom and power of the oppressed to build a better and more humane and progressive society.

I wish to cite the campus strikes initiated by students in our public universities as a good example of how our youth are reliving the legacy left behind by Bonifacio. We are all familiar with the issue of the decreasing subsidies allocated by the national government to our state universities and I do not wish to repeat the arguments already raised when we tackled the national budget during the committee and plenary deliberations. But I wish to thank our colleagues, those who supported and signed the manifesto urging the government to increase the budget for education.

The reason why students continue to protest is to convince the senate, which is expected to pass the General Appropriations Act bill this week, to make significant amendments in the budget; in particular, restore the slashed MOOE funding of state universities and provide some Capital Outlay to deserving schools. This appeal, I think, is very relevant, doable, and reasonable.

But tomorrow’s campus protests will be different. For the first time in Philippine history, students, teachers, school personnel and university officials will hold a united stand in their respective campuses nationwide. Political bickering inside schools will be set aside for the meantime so that the public higher education sector will speak as one voice tomorrow. There will be various symbolic activities to be staged at lunch time: some will hold prayer rallies, others will conduct campus strikes, student rallyists will troop to the senate. It is hoped that our senators will listen to the collective sentiments of our education stakeholders. It is also hoped that Malacanang will change its hardline position on the issue and begin to review the negative impact of the current higher education policy of the government.

I want to emphasize the last point I made because it is a fundamental issue from the perspective of students. Our students are protesting not merely to beg for a few crumbs from the state; they want President Noynoy Aquino to reject the policy of reducing the role of government in providing higher education services to our youth. They want the president to draft a new higher education roadmap. An education program that does not subscribe to the misguided doctrine that higher education should not be shouldered by the state.

If only Malacanang will review some of the global news stories this year, it will be able to discern that Filipino student protesters are not alone in their demand for greater state subsidy for higher education. For the past few months, we have witnessed massive student protests that swept across the globe. In Ireland, up to 40,000 people flooded the streets to halt a possible increase in registration fees for university students. Tens of thousands of student activists in Ukraine, meanwhile, picketed in front of the Ministry of Education to demand, among others, the scrapping of unjust student fees and to make basic student services accessible to all. Widespread mass actions erupted in London, with hundreds of thousands of students marching steadily into the headquarters of the Liberal Democrats to oppose rising tuition rates and the government’s cutting of higher education budgets.

In other places such as Nepal, Indonesia, New Orleans, California, Argentina, Ottawa and New Jersey, students boycotted classes, barricaded classrooms, occupied universities and disrupted classes for weeks, undaunted and unrelenting in their fight for higher state subsidy for education and the scrapping of detrimental and lopsided education policies.

In all these countries, one common slogan was sprayed on buildings and was written on the placards: “Education is not for sale. We are not for sale.” This message, Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, best captures the unified and principled stand of students worldwide against how their governments have been treating education—a private good, a commodity, an adjunct of corporate business.

Indeed, the string of massive student protests that erupted during the past few months were only a logical response to the aggravating education crisis brought about by the disarray in the current global economic order. Economies that once seemed unscathed are now experiencing economic recessions. In order to curb their impending decline, countries intensify their privatization, deregulation and liberalization schemes—the three essential components of the current dominant economic framework notoriously known as neoliberalism.

And neoliberal globalization, Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, is the real culprit behind the problems that our education sector is facing today.

Spending on higher education has been treated as more of a burden than a responsibility the government has to fulfill. As a result, state universities and colleges were forced to fit in the neoliberal framework and generate their own income. To sustain their operations, SUCs either enter into business ventures or increase tuition, thereby transforming education into a commodity.

The student protests that occurred during the past few weeks, thus, were meant not only to put forward the demands of their sector but to call for the dismantling of the prevailing neoliberal policies that neglect the people’s basic rights.

Instead of viewing the ongoing campus strikes as a nuisance, Malacanang should regard it as an act of desperation on the part of our state universities. Because of the reigning neoliberal ideology, state universities are now considered endangered species. And the protests reflect the struggle of our public schools to remain relevant.

Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, today we commemorate the birth anniversary of Bonifacio, a very important historical figure. Tomorrow, December 1, we could witness the unfolding of another historic moment – that of students, teachers, and school officials linking arms, marching together, speaking as one, reminding the government about its duty to provide decent education to all. My dear colleagues, let us join the education community as they create history.

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From Belfry To Cell Phone Tower


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From Philippine Congressman Mong Palitino…

The cathedral of the Catholic Church in Spanish Philippines was the central symbol of power in the community. The rich and the powerful preferred to establish their residences near the church. The aspiring rich wanted to live in strategic locations where they could see the church tower. The law-abiding and God-fearing poor lived very far from the church but they could still hear the sound coming from the belfry. The church belfry, therefore, was more than just a structure which reminded the faithful to attend church activities. Its more important function was to determine the geographical boundaries of the power of the church and state. Expanding the influence of the Spanish colonizers required the construction of numerous church bell towers. Rebels who resisted colonial and church authorities lived in the mountains where they couldn’t hear the sound of the belfry.

What is today’s equivalent of the belfry? There are three contenders: malls, billboards, and cell phone towers. Malls and billboards may be sprouting everywhere but they are concentrated only in city centers. Meanwhile, cell phone towers dot the cityscape and the countryside. They are ubiquitous, mysterious, and effective infrastructures of power. Like the belfry of our Spanish past, the modern cell phone towers send signals that only reach a certain distance. There is no super tower that can cover the whole archipelago. The poorest and remotest parts of the country continue to have weak cell phone connections. Cell phone signals are linked with modernity and progress which is why the building of cell phone towers receives high protection from the state. (Modern structures are forbidden in Chocolate Hills in Bohol – except cell phone towers, of course).

Then and now the poor are hypnotized by the invisible transmission of magic waves emitted by power structures: the belfry of the past and today’s cell phone towers. The belfry sound represented the presence of the church and the existence of God; the cell phone signals represent development and the existence of modern communications. In the past, rebels were feared and hated because they refused to honor God and His chosen representatives on Earth. Today, rebels are despised for thwarting progress every time they bomb cell phone towers.

Yes, the belfry promoted religion and spirituality but it was used to intensify the colonial subjugation of the pagan islands. Yes, the cell phone towers improved the delivery of communication in the country but they are false indicators of progress. Surrendering to the sound of the church bells affirmed the hegemony of the clergy. Using the cell phone signals made communication easier and information sending faster but profits are being accumulated somewhere and someone is monopolizing these profits; and Big Brother is spying on everyone.

From Ayala to San Roque

Trinoma means Triangle North of Makati. The reference point of the Ayala mall in Quezon City is Makati, the country’s financial center and economic mecca of the domestic ruling elite. Trinoma is located in North Avenue which is part of north triangle of Quezon City but it seems Trinoma owners disregarded the spatial link of the mall to the nearby west, east and south triangles of the city. Instead, the Ayalas preferred to make Trinoma a remote satellite structure of its power base in the Makati control room. Trinoma was built to spur the redevelopment of the north triangle area. Specifically, the plan is to build another business district (create a new Makati) and the north triangle is the chosen territory. The plan has the blessings of the money-hungry local government.

But north triangle is not an empty land. The San Roque community is located in north triangle. San Roque is now branded by the government and property developers as a squatter colony but this is historically inaccurate. Half a century ago, some of the Manila poor were resettled in the area around San Roque, which was at that time an agricultural community that reached up to Bagong Pag-asa, Novaliches and Bulacan. The resettlement center was later known as the residential community of Bago Bantay. Even the Golden Acres, a housing site for senior citizens, was constructed in the area. Schools were later established: Bago Bantay Academy (renamed as Quezon City Academy), San Francisco High School, Quezon City Science, and Philippine Science High School. The public space in north triangle was a housing and schooling center before SM and Trinoma invaded it.

Golden Acres is now SM property. The People’s Park was bought by Ayala which was converted into Trinoma. And now the government wants to demolish the San Roque community.

When Escolta became too small for the business elite, they moved their corporate headquarters to Makati. Then, smaller satellite territories were established in Ortigas, Fort Bonifacio, and Libis. Now they are targeting a new colony in Quezon City, north side of EDSA. The feasibility plan is completed, the financial package has been approved, and government approval has been secured – only one problem remains: the residents of San Roque won’t go away.

When Ayala constructed the Trinoma Mall, everybody commented about the competition it would engender between the SM and Ayala supermalls. Who will emerge the winner in the battle for mall supremacy: the old Spanish clan or the Chinese tycoon? Today, it has become evident that there was really no serious feuding between the two business empires. It was a friendly competition. The real conflict is only starting to unravel: the residents of San Roque on one hand and the capitalists on the other side. The residents belong to the working classes and they are supported by organized collectives. The capitalists are requiring the bureaucrat capitalists to speed up the demolition of the squatter community.

San Roque in North Triangle is the last bastion of proletarian might in the reterritorialized EDSA. It is one of the few remaining public spaces along EDSA which have not yet been invaded by capitalist vultures. It must be defended. Aside from asserting their rights, San Roque residents should derive inspiration from the heroic struggles of the Filipino people in EDSA. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani is located near the San Roque community.

Finally, the hypocrisy of the business community has been exposed. Habitat for Humanity? Gawad Kalinga? Corporate Social Responsibility? Show your love for the homeless poor by defending San Roque.

From Monumento to Mall of Asia

EDSA or Highway 54 is the most important and famous road in the Philippines. It is the site of two People Power actions. It connects the north and south expressways. The three biggest shopping malls in the world are located here. The police and military headquarters are stationed here. Financial centers are established in Makati-EDSA, Ortigas-EDSA and soon North Triangle-EDSA.

EDSA’s evolution was influenced by various contending forces in Manila society: the working poor, capitalist class, and the government. The working poor and capitalists can work together in order to topple an unjust government (People Power). But most of the time, the government is subservient to the demands of the business elite. They join forces so that they can silence and defeat the working class. Their executioner in EDSA is the MMDA.

It is funny, interesting, and symbolic that the EDSA boundary is represented by the Bonifacio monument in the north and Mall of Asia in the south. It signifies the ongoing struggle to define and redefine the meaning of EDSA. Bonifacio represents the plebian forces while Mall of Asia stands for the dictatorship of the capitalist ruling elite. Who is winning the war?

EDSA has a subversive potential and the ruling class is aware of it. The malls are there to hypnotize the poor and rechannel the political rage of the people into consumer frenzy. The MRT transports passengers from one mall to another but it doesn’t have direct station links to People Power monuments.

EDSA, the people’s highway, is quickly evolving into an anti-people thoroughfare. The state, afraid of the People Power past of EDSA, now prevents the people from walking, crossing, and marching in EDSA. The street which witnessed two fantastic uprisings in 1986 and 2001 is now a death zone for innocent jaywalkers (bawal tumawid, nakamamatay), and political protesters.

The struggle of the San Roque residents is a living monument to the people’s right to reclaim the EDSA highway. Do we want this historic space to be forever colonized by oversized malls, billboard deathtraps, and skycrapers? (When he visited Havana during the pre-revolution years, Sartre described skycrapers as “insane protuberances”).

Do people live along EDSA? Yes! If residents of Forbes, Dasmarinas, Corinthians, Philam and Mar Roxas in Cubao can comfortably sleep in their homes near EDSA, why deny this right to San Roque residents. They are Filipinos too. They are humans too. Demolishing San Roque would send a message that the residential space in EDSA is exclusively for the rich and powerful only. Rezoning EDSA is not wrong, but it should not be biased against the poor.

The immediate objective is to destroy the houses in San Roque. The real aim is to quash the fighting capability of the poor. And once the job is finished in EDSA, their next target would be the reclaiming of C5 and Commonwealth.

Defend San Roque! Long Live People Power!

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Adopt A School


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From Philippine Congressman Mong Palitino…

Through its Adopt-A-School program, the Department of Education hopes to improve the condition of public schools by raising funds from the private sector. Since its inception in 1998, it has already attracted 300 donors generating almost seven billion pesos in pledges, commitments, and actual contributions which benefited around 22,000 public schools nationwide. On the other hand, this program is a clear proof of the state abandonment of Philippine education. Its conceptualization signals two things: the government’s unwillingness to spend more on education; and the ascendancy of the neoliberal dogma. This is further exemplified by the decision of the government to gradually increase the role of the private sector in managing the country’s education system. Since then, cash-strapped public schools have been practically begging for crumbs from the state and if funds remain insufficient, they can dream of being “adopted” by philanthropists who need tax incentives.

School donors receive tax incentives of up to 150 percent for their contributions. Furthermore, the DepEd reminds prospective donors that participating in the Adopt-A-School program will “strengthen (their) corporate image and goodwill within the school community.” Enhancing the public image of a company is essential especially if the long-term motive is to influence the innocent minds and spending habits of students. It is no surprise that the big school donors are also big businesses whose operations and profitability depend heavily on the young consumer market. For example:

– Bright Minds Read of McDonalds Charities involving the distribution of donated books to libraries, production of workbooks and learning kits in select Metro Manila elementary schools. Intended beneficiaries are Grade 1-3 students. Cost: P9,300 per school

– Gearing-up Internet Literacy and Access for Students of Ayala Foundation targeting 5,443 public high schools. The project aims to establish internet laboratories. Cost: P125,000 per school

– Intel Teach to the future program. Intel Philippines Manufacturing Inc. sponsors the integration of the use of computers into the existing curriculum. Cost: P5,000 per teacher

– ETV package. ABS-CBN ETV programs have been converted into DVD format for classroom distribution and utilization. Cost: P55,000 per school

– Txt2teach Project for Grade V and VI science classes. Project leader is Ayala Foundation while the coordinators are Globe Telecom, PMSI-Dream Broadcasting, Chikka Asia.

– Little Red Schoolhouse in partnership with Coca Cola Foundation. The goal is to construct a school building with three classrooms. Cost: P1,421,626 per school

– “Send-a-Child-to-School” Program of DepEd and Petron Foundation for Grade I-VI students. Cost: P5,000 per pupil

The Adopt-A-School program boosts the profitability of these companies by giving them the “prerogative of identifying the school of its choice, as well as the area and geographic location where it wishes to place its support.” This allows donors like McDonalds to choose schools which are located near their company outlets.

How can Intel recoup its school investments? Students and teachers who were taught how to maximize computers in the classrooms will most likely prefer the Intel brand when they buy computers in the future.

Coke’s ‘little red schoolhouse’ is an indirect reference to the color of its primary product. Petron’s scholarship bonanza obscures the company’s reputation of being a gang leader of an oil cartel. ABS-CBN’s ETV package expands the TV network’s viewership, especially among the young.

Globally, the Txt2teach Project is known as BridgeIT. But by using the term Txt2teach in the local setting, it risks promoting the wrong idea that IT is limited to texting. But this is a non-issue for schools and the government which are desperate for funds. It is enough that “texting” companies like Globe and Chikka have agreed to become school donors. Even for educational institutions, beggars can’t be choosers.

There is always a battle to control the content of schooling. Public debates are often focused on the official curriculum. But scholars have been asserting that the impact of the ‘hidden curriculum’ on the thinking of students is equally powerful. The official curriculum teaches students that the cost of two satellite dishes for a cable subscription is P225,000. This allows them to watch Knowledge Channel. The hidden curriculum, on the other hand, teaches students that the satellite dish donor belongs to ‘the good guys’; and the TV cable symbolized by the Knowledge Channel is associated with intelligent programming.

‘Adopting’ a school, therefore, is a wise business strategy since it improves the social standing of companies while raising their profit margins. Companies are now marketing and selling their products inside schools and more importantly, they are able to introduce their business philosophies to a special and vital segment of the population. When the government abdicated its duty to provide accessible education for all, it ushered the creepy ‘invasion’ of schools by companies which seek to exploit the financial woes of public schools. Despite the claim that the Adopt-A-School program inspires volunteerism, its real legacy is to legitimize the commercialization of public education in the country.

The Adopt-A-School model is a preview of the Public-Private-Partnership mantra of the new government. President Aquino’s radical solution to the education crisis is to expand the scope of the Adopt-A-School program. This translates into reduced government subsidies and greater intervention of big business in the schooling system. If K12 is to be implemented, it means students and teachers will be hostaged for 12 years by big business school donors. As Big Business continues to infuse more capital into education, it will acquire greater hegemony in asserting the direction of Philippine education. Business will dictate the future of the education sector. Business perspectives will dominate the academe. This will weaken the democratic potential of schooling to empower the bosses.

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Here Come The Commies


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From Philippines Congressman Mong Palitino…

They are the propagandists of the new government but they will deny it not because they are ashamed of their jobs but it has more to do with their rejection of the term propagandist. Propaganda is a taboo word for them since it is associated with overzealous militants. PNoy communicators (com men or commies for short) seem to be squeamish individuals who feel uncomfortable with boring names like public information officer or media bureau. But having a fancy name (Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office) does not modify their distinguished but sometimes odious task: defend the president at all times and at all costs; deodorize the stink coming from the palace; and confuse/mislead the public to hide the real state of affairs.

I’m surprised that nobody complained when Malacanang announced that Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro and other Cabinet heads will undergo a ‘media handling’ seminar. Is media relations a delicate matter that needs to be ‘handled’? Truth articulation is an issue of ‘media handling’? Is this transparency?

What is wrong with the word propagandist? Marcelo H. Del Pilar and company and the 1896 revolutionaries called themselves propagandista. Senator Claro M. Recto launched the second propaganda movement in the 1950s. Activists have no problem with the propagandist branding since they willingly recognize that their political work involves the advocacy of a specific ideology. It is the liberaloids and reactionaries who refuse to be called propagandists because of their naïve but dangerous belief that they are not espousing any ideology.

PNoy’s Communications Group is a smart repackaging of an old function of the state. It targets the networked citizens who are always eager to communicate with public servants even if the conversation is virtual. The danger is to confuse delivery of information with competent public service. The greater danger is to equate political opinion with decisive political action. Beware, PNoy’s commies are sophisticated obscurantists who want to turn politics into “a mere passive commentary on current affairs, a kind of collective extension of reading newspapers.” (Alain Badiou).

The transformation of journalists-who-advocate-objectivity into PNoy commies is proof of the undeclared partisanship of media personalities. Behind every truth-seeking media reporter is a political animal raring to come out of the closet. A journalist needs to take political sides in order to convert truth into a powerful weapon of the public. Opinion pales in comparison with political action. A TV reporter or newspaper columnist who proposes a tax boycott but is not backed by a political group is only guilty of advocating an interesting but futile rant. The words of a journalist acquire materiality only if they are fused with political practice.

But do not assume that the only career option of journalists who finally want to effect change in society is to seek a post in the Palace or in one of its satellites. The other option is to follow a better just path: serve the people. This is what Satur Ocampo and Tony Zumel did in the 1970s: prominent media personalities who joined the underground revolution. Instead of defending discredited politicians or clinging to the bureaucratic state machine, journalists can choose to become the spokespersons and leaders of the people’s movement.

Pierre Bourdieu was right when he said that “there are people who exchange ideological services for positions of power” but there are also truth messengers who prefer to lend their skills in the service of the powerless.

Journalists (especially those working in the provinces) often speak to truth and many times they lose their lives fulfilling this sacred duty. But they cease to carry the seal of freedom of thought the moment they unabashedly join the party in power. Their claim to independent thinking is finally exposed as a sham. Worse, they relinquished their dignified position as public intellectuals to become defenders of the putrid status quo. When they articulate the imperative for pagbabago, they no longer mean it.

It is useful to borrow the words of Antonio Gramsci when he distinguished a diplomat from an active politician. Gramsci wrote that the diplomat “inevitably will move only within the bounds of effective reality, since his specific activity is not the creation of some new equilibrium, but the maintenance of an existing equilibrium within a certain juridical framework” while an active politician is someone “who wishes to create a new balance of forces.”

PNoy’s commies are the glorified ‘diplomats’ of the modern era who are “full of idle speculation, trivial detail, and elegant conjectures.” Meanwhile, Ocampo and Zumel are good examples of journalists who became ‘active politicians’ – “men of powerful passions, partisans, creators, initiators.”

Before the hostage blunder, the tact of the PNoy commies was to package the new president as an everyday man. Make him complain against tax deductions (even though his net pay is P63,000. Compare it to the financial assistance received by farmers from Hacienda Luisita). Make him follow traffic rules. Make him lose his wangwang privileges. Allow an MMDA cop to issue a traffic ticket to PNoy’s sister Kris. Remove his face in government billboards (but continue posting yellow ribbon tarpaulins and pagbabago streamers).

The spin to make the hasyendero son a champion of the ordinary masa is suffocating. Please make him more human but not through token, insincere gestures. Bumenta na yan sa Hollywood.

But after the hostage tragedy, I’m sure PNoy’s handlers will change their strategy. To address the lingering doubt on his competence as a leader, they are expected to present PNoy as a new leader with political will. Good luck with that. Just a minor appeal: stop the unfunny acting.

*Of course they are not communists. Magpapacheeseburger ako nang major major kung komunista ang mga yan. Anyway, I subscribe to Sartre’s opinion of anti-communists.

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