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A New Year’s Wish: Respect Towards One Another

ormer Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban might soon find himself under arrest, arraigned and prosecuted because of a libel charge filedFormer Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban might soon have to face libel charges for an article he wrote about the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) against him by Ferdinand Marcos crony Herminio Disini. The “libelous act” that Panganiban is accused of is writing an article for the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2011 that Disini alleges is an “irresponsible and malicious” attack with regards to his involvement in the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) during the martial law years. You can read Panganiban’s article titled: “After 35 years, still languishinghere and decide for yourself if it is indeed “libelous” or if Philippine laws are once again being used by people with money and power to muzzle the press.

But let us step back and try to see things from a broader perspective. This article is after all, not just about a Marcos crony and a former chief justice. During the 1986 EDSA revolution when millions of Filipinos put their lives on the line and literally faced down the tanks of General Fabian Ver, Cory Aquino became president while Marcos and his ilk were sent packing. The dreams and aspirations of the long-oppressed Filipino masses took flight with the ascendancy of the country’s first female president. Mrs. Aquino had as well the blessing and admiration of the entire world. She could have ushered in a new era of unprecedented growth and prosperity for the Philippines.

In retrospect however, it now appears that Cory Aquino achieved next to nothing. Not only was she faulted for not even trying, according to her many detractors at the time, she just didn’t seem to know anything. The acronym bandied about back then to describe Mrs. Aquino in office was TWA—not the airline, it stood for talagang walang alam (knows absolutely nothing). Had Mrs. Aquino despite her limitations taken seriously the mandate the Filipino people thrust upon her, she would have moved heaven and earth to bring to justice all those who in one way or another were involved withHerminio Disini (inset) and the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, a $2.3 Billion debacle paid for by Filipino taxpayers either the Marcoses or their unjust military regime. Instead, Mrs. Aquino chose to kick the can down the road for another generation to deal with.

Little did she know then that the person who might have to clean up the mess she refused to touch would be her son, current President Noynoy Aquino (Pnoy). And in the nearly two decades that the Marcoses and their cronies have been left untouched, many of  those once cowering figures now stand tall, emboldened once again to not just put forward their own distorted version of history but to muzzle those who dare expose their sordid past.

Former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban’s stellar achievements despite his humble beginnings stand as a testament to his indomitable spirit. There is likely still a lot of fight left in him. The question however is: what will the president do about all this? Will Pnoy finish what his mother unfortunately never really started? Or will he likewise kick the can even further down the road so that in some distant misinformed future Ferdinand Marcos might even be seen as a hero and his martial law regime as the best thing that ever happened to the Philippines. Published 01/05/2014


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With Senator Bong Revilla already in police custody in Camp Crame and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile set to join him any day now, people need to start asking tough questions going forward. The privilege speeches of the senators along with the histrionics that accompanied them are thankfully now over so we can all address this issue more objectively. Published 06/21/2014
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In the United States former four-star General and until recently Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was forced to resign as head of the VA by the ongoing healthcare scandal that has enveloped that agency. While one can safely assume that Shinseki was not involved in the actually transgressions being investigated, the fact that he headed the agency meant he had command responsibility over its entire staff. And their wrongful acts, whether he knew about them or not, cost him his job. That is the way things work in properly functioning democracies. In the Philippines however, things tend to get a little unusual. Published 06/03/2014
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Now that the star attraction in the alleged Vhong Navarro rape incident is in police custody, the upcoming trial will be a litmus test for the Aquino administration as well as the Courts. The almost universal perception is that Philippine justice is broken and does not work. Laws are applied inequitably with the wealthy and powerful living almost above the law, while the common "tao" finds himself at the losing end of cases that usually drag on for years. Published 05/06/2014
Obama's Visit a Shot in the Arm for a Struggling Ally

After essentially showing the American Military the door in the early '90s, Filipinos have of late come to the realization that they need their "Uncle Sam" more than they thought they did. And back then the United States was also more than happy to oblige as their Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission had been closing down hundreds of military installations all across the USA. Published 04/29/2014


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