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WHAT? JOMA SISON IS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS VICTIM!?

May 23, 2018

JOMA SISON, WIFE GET P2.4M IN MARTIAL LAW COMPENSATION!

No kidding, the brains behind the Plaza Miranda bombing and former Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines who led a violent rebellion to transform the Philippines into a communist state, resulting in tens of thousands deaths and other immeasurable destruction, the same man tagged as terrorist by the US several years ago, is getting compensation as, hold your breath, a “victim” of Martial law. (And wife too.)  Just incredible!

To be honest, I saw this coming.  But I was also half-expecting that Joma will waive his claim, out of a sense of nobility, ahem.  I was wrong, of course.

So, here is a lesson on how lies, when upheld as truth, eventually transmogrify into one colossal farce, like Joma, the terrorist, being recognized as human rights victims with more than a million pesos for a reward hahaha!

The lies:  1)  President Marcos masterminded the Plaza Miranda bombing to pave the way for dictatorship 2) the MV Karagatan  was a hoax 3) the communist threat was not real 4) the communist movement came into being as a consequence of Marcos’ repressive and tyrannical rule  5) those who fought Marcos were freedom fighters not communists.

To be sure, his bonanza was a consequence of an earlier case filed against the Marcoses in Hawaii by a supposed group of  “ten thousand victims of Marcos”  which it eventually won, being granted a humongous compensation of more than $2B for damages supposedly as human rights victims of Marcos.  In reality, this group was composed mostly of members of the underground communist movement which,  of course, included Joma Sison, the head of the movement,  and his wife.  After Marcos’ fall from power,  true to form they saw an opportunity to avenge their defeat in the battlefield and likewise make money out of it by recasting themselves as human rights victims.  It worked; they won big time. Emboldened by this huge legal victory and financial windfall in Hawaii, the same group through its elected partylist representatives in Congress soon had a counterpart bill seeking to indemnify and recognize all supposed victims of President Marcos.   Expectedly, the old enemies of Marcos in the mainstream gave support.  There in that bill, which soon became  RA 10368 ,  conveniently tucked a rider provision recognizing the Hawaii group as automatic beneficiaries of the law. Neat.

Looking for an opportunity to paint Ferdinand Marcos in a bad light at a time when the Marcos name was becoming resurgent and then-Senator Bongbong Marcos was hinting to run for higher office, President Benigno Aquino III lost no time to sign the law in 2013.   As expected,  he took the occasion to remind the Filipinos of the heroism of those who fought  Marcos, the monster responsible for all the destruction and havoc that visited the Philippines.

Indeed, who among Filipinos actually knows that Joma Sison and wife are jointly receiving P2.4M as human rights victims of Martial law?  Not many.   In fact, that most claimants were leftists/communists and among them is their former topmost leader has been deliberately downplayed or concealed from the public.  It’s understandable.   Like it or not, Joma Sison as human rights compensation recipient is sure to raise many eyebrows.   What more, by implication, some of the  most treasured anti-Marcos narratives of recent history get unwittingly jeopardized.  At a time when the anti-Marcos forces are too busy fending off supposed attempts of Marcos loyalists and the Marcos propaganda machine to revise history and rebuild the name they most despise, this news should just have been better buried unseen.

 

 

 

 

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EDSA PEOPLE POWER

February 27, 2018

The EDSA 86 People Power celebration has come and gone uneventfully as usual. The celebratory mood is gone for good, no doubt; well, for all intents and purposes, it was, since many years ago. But many understandably still remain nostalgic of the four-day event. After all, it was then regarded as one of the highest points and proudest moments of the Philippines as a nation and the Filipinos as a people. That the world even stood up in applause and in awe was truly something. EDSA was undeniably a grand spectacle, a sight to behold, a sea of people as far as one could see, hundreds of thousands of them or probably millions; it was people power in all its majesty. So, how such a monumental event which forced the dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos, out of office in disgrace could ever lose its meaning and relevance to present-day Filipinos, it baffles them much. Worse, not only is the festiveness gone, an atmosphere of meaninglessness seems to have replaced it since. Last year, the crowd was so sparse and lifeless, (until, of course, Jim Paredes took center stage) it could be even sparser and more lifeless this year. It is merely all a matter of compulsion now, to serve a historical narrative, or so it feels.

How did it come to this? The Yellows, the torchbearer of the EDSA narrative, of course, are mostly blaming “revisionism” supposedly being funded by the Marcos’ plundered billions. How so-called revisionism could flip over so swiftly a narrative created and nurtured since 1986, with all the aid of government, mass media, educational system, and all combined anti-Marcos forces, is, however, curious. Such a wide, wide head start, all of three decades, gone in no time at all?

The EDSA narrative in broad strokes could be summarized like this:

Once upon a time, an evil villain, Ferdinand Marcos, came to rule the land, the Philippines. After being President for eight long years plundering the treasury of the land, he craved for much more. So, he declared Martial law near the end of his term to hold on to power and be able to ransack the treasury for more years to come, his alibi, the communist insurgency problem. He then turned himself into a dictator and presided over the Dark Years of Martial law. From these dark years of cruel repression and insatiable greed emerged a hero, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The brave hero, Ninoy, led the fight against Marcos, who by then had teamed up with his wife, Imelda, who was just as wicked. To stop Ninoy, the evil duo had him jailed on trumped up charges. In jail, however, Ninoy could still not be cowed and silenced. Thus, Ferdinand and Imelda, exiled him to America. After sometime, Ninoy realized that he could not turn his back on his people. Undaunted by the wrath of Marcos and Imelda, he decided to return to his land to free his people from repression and heinous rule. On his return, on orders of Marcos, Ninoy  was shot dead by his escort soldiers, in a brazen display of wickedness, right upon his arrival, in broad daylight, right at the airport tarmac. It came to be the start of the regime’s downfall. Millions attended the funeral to hail Ninoy and show their anger on Marcos. Soon after, massive protest rallies became regular fare. Marcos, to appease growing discontent, before long announced a snap election to prove that he had the support of the Filipinos. He met his challenger in the hero’s wife, Cory. All the good Filipinos rallied around her to defeat Marcos and his minions. Cory won the election despite massive cheating but Marcos would not concede and vacate office. Thus, the people, drawing inspiration from Ninoy’s brutal death in the hands of Marcos, protested for days on end. Protests grew and grew until finally it culminated in millions of people converging for days at EDSA to demand the ouster of the evil leader. Marcos got so scared of his own people, he packed up in a hurry and escaped with his family to Hawaii. And the Filipinos, after years of brutal repression, finally regained their long-lost freedom, thanks to the great courage of Ninoy and Cory.

This is the EDSA narrative, the fount of inspiration for the yearly celebration. Could anyone find a better real life good-versus-evil story, the good triumphing in the end and the bad guy scampering away in fear tail between his legs? EDSA 86 was thus altogether celebrated as the triumph of good over evil, of Ninoy and Cory over Marcos, of freedom over repression, of democracy over dictatorship, of the Filipino people over the corrupt government…. Ahh, such a picture perfect narrative.

Until this alternative version began taking shape:

No, Marcos was not the evil ruler he was painted to be. In fact he was a good ruler, even perhaps the greatest President the Philippines ever had. He declared Martial law in 1972 and assumed dictatorial powers to contain a fast-growing communist movement and to implement sweeping changes. He presided over a massive infrastructure development program and pressed for far-reaching economic and political reforms, many painful. In so doing, he created many enemies. Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, his main political nemesis, was jailed for conniving with and supporting the communists to oust the government. It was his dream to be President after Marcos.  After several years in prison, he was allowed out of jail for medical treatment of a heart problem in America. While there, he rekindled his opposition to Marcos. Learning that Marcos was in serious medical condition, he came back to the Philippines. At the airport, he was shot and killed by a lone gunman. Many people were convinced that Marcos was the mastermind. But he was not; Marcos had in fact been seriously ill all that time. Ensuing social unrest due to the murder forced him to hold elections. Cory, Ninoy’s wife, ran against him. Marcos won by a small margin but the opposition charged election cheating. Massive protests and boycotts funded by his enemies were launched soon after. Two of his most trusted men, Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel Ramos, traitors both, later launched a mutiny. Cory and various forces aligned with the opposition quickly joined them. EDSA filled up with hundreds of thousands of people. More of the state forces defected. To avoid bloodshed, Marcos decided to leave Malacañang and head north to home province Ilocos Norte. But he was flown out on a helicopter to Hawaii instead.

There. Which version is true? As in any event, there are always two sides–or even several– sides of the story. Right now there are just two main contending perspectives: the victors’ EDSA version and the losing side’s version. Sometime in the future, when a younger, dispassionate set of historians gets down to write this part of history, perhaps they would be reconciled. Right now, that looks impossible. As it is, those championing the original narrative are so infuriated that the latter conflicting version, for some reason, is gaining more traction. They lay the blame on a curious mix of culprits: a supposed well-funded Marcos propaganda machine trying to revise the past, gullible youths who can’t differentiate truth from fake news, apathetic parents for not guiding their children to the right information, negligent educators for not teaching correct history, paid trolls on social media for not knowing any better, the people themselves for historical amnesia, and so on and so forth.  They are not taking this sitting down.  They are presently racing to erect museums, hold as many talks and forums as possible, write as many books,  make as many  films and documentaries, compose songs,  create comics, art, theater plays, all in defense of their narrative.  They are all over the media too bashing any and all contrarians.  Well, truth is its own defense, don’t they say?

But, really now, the first narrative needs improvement. There is, for instance, one fatal fault that badly needs fixing, if it could be fixed at all. It lies in the assassination.

As an integral piece of the narrative, the murder of Ninoy in the hands of an assassin on orders of Marcos is a key part. It is, in fact, central to the story. It gives climax to Ninoy’s greatness, his death in the hands of his archenemy the completion of his heroism. Correspondingly, it highlights Marcos’ utter depravity, Ninoy’s murder on his orders the pits of his villainy. At the same time, as it is the real trigger to Marcos’ downfall, when everything starts collapsing under his feet, finally culminating in the EDSA People Power Revolt, this episode is very integral. It must thus stay intact.

Problem is, damn it, it looks like Marcos was really innocent! All these years and nothing at all to show for proof? Indeed, of all the cocksure, angry accusers, not one it seems is still left standing confidently pointing to Marcos as the main man to hang for the murder. They all have stopped at some point. Even the Aquinos. Well, except in some roundabout way: “he (Marcos) created the conditions for it to happen”, in the words of Noynoy, the victim’s son.

Now, if he was not the mastermind,what do we make of Ninoy’s death? And to a larger extent, because his murder precipitated it, of EDSA People Power? Like it or not, the whole drama rises—or falls— on the fierce and bitter rivalry between Ninoy and Marcos, its climax being the assassination of Ninoy with Marcos as the mastermind. The waves of upheavals that follow, cresting one last time as the EDSA uprising, are all composite part of it. If Marcos is not the mastermind, the entire story crashes down! If this were fiction, it is shoddy writing. Imagine that the real instigator were, say, the CIA, or Danding Cojuangco, as some people were alleging. Or, just some nut.

Defenders of the narrative assert that it does not matter who killed Ninoy; what is important, they contend, is that Ninoy’s death resulted in the overthrow of Marcos and the return of democracy. Really? Be that as it may, a narrative must be smooth, authentic, intelligible, and believable, not one tangled in some incoherent, disjointed, impossible flow of causation and events. The latter kind is sure to get no interested audience.   For example,  there were broad hints that Ninoy was intently killed to create unrest and through it force Marcos out of power and restore democracy. Or,  that Ninoy was bumped off for some other reasons, but everything took totally unexpected, if favorable, turns.  Surely, any such alternate actuality will force a radical revision of the story line,  the narrative will have to be rewritten.

To be sure, if Marcos was innocent, the implications are damning. It means that he was all along a victim of wrong accusations, that all the rage and condemnation, all that fire and brimstone, rained on him by his accusers as the murderer, were undeserved.  This is obviously the part that his enemies want to gloss over forever.  It is most likely the reason too why the wife and the son of the victim, Cory and Noynoy, who both became Presidents, never lifted a finger to initiate a re-investigation of the case to find out who really was the brains despite the clamor.  It is better for the narrative to at least preserve the doubt than remove it all.  It must be haunting them too.  It is axiomatic that wrong accusations ultimately damn the accuser and exalt the accused.

So, what do we make of EDSA and the millions that gathered there?  The biggest assembly ever of the dazed and confused?

MAKOY, 100

September 12, 2017

macoy 100a

DRUGS, DUE PROCESS & EJKs

September 5, 2017

More than a week ago, President Rodrigo Duterte made the admission that he gravely underestimated the problem on drugs. No, he said finally with a tone of resignation, he will not be able to solve the problem in a few months as he promised, nor even in his entire term.  From the start, I was quite certain he will fail.  But even so, I gave him the benefit of doubt.  Mine was all theory, after all;  and theories being theories, they could be wrong.

The theory is simple, really.   The Law of Supply and Demand tells us that drug prohibition limits distribution alright,  but, and this is crucial, it also jacks up the market price of the product  sky-scraping high.  What otherwise is a cheap commodity sold freely gets to be sold to, if relatively small, a reliable market of do-or-die drug users and addicts willing to pay at any price.  With profit margins so wide,  it makes for an ultra-lucrative money-making  business certain to draw the greed of man.  And it being an illegal product,  business burrows deep underground, well into the hands of a cabal of men whose qualities belong there— crooks, criminals, outlaws— wanting a piece of the action.     In short, prohibition actually,  if inadvertently, creates a wellspring of abundant riches flowing into the wrong hands.

“…abundant riches flowing into the wrong hands”— this should very well be the focal point of attention.   Unfortunately, this is always lost  in the drug debate.  When the crooks  and wicked ones get that easy access to abundant resources to use and dispense, beware, society is in peril.

A drug lord’s detrimental influence on society should be instructive enough by now. From his millions of daily earnings alone, how much, we could only speculate, goes precisely to procuring, silencing, neutralizing  or eliminating  every component of the so-called due process:  witnesses, law enforcers and state agents, lawyers, fiscals and judges, media, even entire communities,  people of influence, and so on an so forth.  It goes with the business.  If his trade should survive, let alone  prosper, illegal as it is, he must sway the  system to his side,  by hook or  by crook, no ifs, no buts.   Justice system and its foundations effectively corrupted,   he gets control of due process.  In fact, every time the critics of Duterte’s brutal war on drugs go screaming “due process!” I could imagine  a drug lord’s wide and satisfied grin on his face.   “Due process, indeed!”  he might as well be muttering too in chorus.   They are in agreement!

Yet, about due process, who could argue with the critics?  Due process is a well founded concept in any civil society.  You do not go merrily chasing and killing suspects on the pretext that these people are a menace to society.  That’s for barbarians.   We live in the modern world where there is due process to observe at all times, if we even consider our society part of it.    There is human rights to respect.  There is a presumption of innocence accorded every suspect.  All these and more rest on deep-rooted principles long before established by the collective wisdom of modern humanity tracing back from the period of Enlightenment and the great minds of ancient times.  In the modern world, it has long served as one of its solid foundations.

But the world is turned upside down.   System thoroughly corrupted,  strange alliances  you find.  Is  there anything more odd than finding drug syndicates on the same side with human rights advocates, lawyers groups , civil society members, academicians, libertarians, religious groups, etc.?  Even the world leaders and the UN agents who at once joined the uproar against  the President’s brutal war must have gotten some applause from the drug lords.   In fact, to escape attention,  the latter could vanish in the shadows in the meantime and leave the fighting to their accidental allies.  When the smoke of the battle clears up, it’s back to business, a more hospitable atmosphere in place through the effort not theirs but of the ardent due process campaigners.

The President understands it so well, even if he does not admit it openly,  that the system is now compromised, rendered helpless  by the power of the drug syndicates over the system.   Drug lords are running rings around law enforcers and the justice system.   Big-time offenders caught in elaborate and costly trapping operations marching out to their freedom so fast,  is source of  frustration, but nothing he can do about it.  Due process, corrupted as it is by the drug syndicates, is tilted in their favor.  To him and his kind, there is only one option left to save society from them: hunt them bastards down and eliminate them one by one with extreme prejudice pronto— due process be damned, Davao City style. Extra judicial killing, they call it.  Or vigilantism.

And he appeared to be succeeding.   There was strong mass support, with the public terrified of escalating crimes so gory and vicious somehow linked to the drug problem.  Tacit approval was granted perhaps  confident  that it is the bad guys who are being hunted and eliminated.    These were justified  killings, they deserved it, or so they held.   Two mayors and thousands of dead later, the public kept its peace, save for the usual noisy critics.   It must have helped  that the people highly trust the President.

Then came Kian de los Santos.   After his killing, the public  mood has changed so drastically, you can feel it.  The campaign has taken a bad turn. A young boy at seventeen from a poor family,  a student,  he  was ostensibly moonlighting on the side running drugs.  Petty connection with drugs notwithstanding, Kian is not your poster boy of villainy, but rather of innocence forced into the pit by the circumstances of his young life.  You do not kill their kind.  You take them under your care to be steered to a better direction.  Young as he is, he could yet be saved.  But he is dead now, apparently executed by overeager, trigger-happy agents of the law inspired, or perhaps confused,  by the President’s repeated expressions of rage and fierce messaging against drug traffickers.

With Kian, suddenly society is confronted with the appalling brutality of such a war.   Shocked and collective conscience pricked,  the public is forced to ask,  just how many killings still must be perpetrated to defeat the scourge?  Ten thousand?  Twenty?  Thirty…. a hundred thousand more?  Suddenly, the people are asking themselves, can we still stomach this kind of violence?    No doubt, Duterte’s war on drugs has suffered a fatal hit.  Another Kian, Duterte’s political  fortunes could start to take a fatal reverse.  As expected, the political opposition is  milking  the tragedy dry for all its worth hoping perhaps it will lead to his downfall.  As in any war, collateral damage, like Kian, is unavoidable.  As collateral damage piles up, expect resistance to grow and grow until he is forced to stop.  I remember former Columbian President Cesar Gaviria who earlier attempted to counsel Duterte about the war on drugs for he too went along the same pathway.  If he took a pause  and listened  to him instead of launching a hail of curses, Duterte would have profited from a good advice instead.  But that is  all water under the bridge now.

Then too, there’s that P6B drug smuggling caper a few weeks ago.   The President must have been stumped, red-faced.   It is  the biggest haul so far in the history of drug enforcement in the country.  That it transpired right smack into the country’s main port of entry is saying a lot.   Wonder if it is not really meant to mock the President and so send home the message: no you can’t, idiot!

It is a dilemma really.  We are dealing with drug users who think nothing wrong of their vice and drug suppliers who think nothing wrong about supplying  their costumer.    Indeed, if we come right down to it ,  what intrinsic wrong could be attributed to the act of using drugs for which a user must be severely punished?  By extension, what inherent wrong does a seller commit in selling that product to his eager buyer that he must go prison for life or die?  Truthfully, none.  So why should they be getting the same punishment as does a murderer or a rapist?

Society of course sees things from a different perspective.  It sees drugs as destructive to society.  Drug use make people commit atrocious crimes. Drugs destroy the human mind.  And so and and so forth.  And so it must act to protect itself by prohibiting drug use and drug trafficking.  If death must be meted, so be it, if the greater interest of the whole society depended on it.

It’s a total clash of perspective and interest .  And somewhere sometime, something’s gotta give.

As it happens,  market forces prevail by the weight of their own laws.  To illustrate, the tighter and stricter the prohibition is, the riskier the business, and tighter too becomes the supply.  The tighter the supply,  where  buyers pay at any price, the more profitable is the business.  Imagine a grain of shabu selling at the price of a grain of gold and you can imagine a drug lord getting richer even more, richer and more powerful than ever.

There is no winning this war.  The earlier we come to terms with this, the better.

LISTEN TO THIS BOY GENIUS

March 13, 2017

DUTERTE AND THE LASCAÑAS AFFAIR

March 8, 2017

I’ve spent  perhaps at least an hour watching those Youtube streaming videos on the Lascañas testimony on the Senate hearing.  If any bombshell was detonated, I did not notice or probably I missed.   All in all, the ‘show’ did not appear to have lived up to the expectation of the sponsors.

What took most of the blast away it seems was the impression that it was all staged to destabilize the new government, or at least shave off from its popularity.  From where I sat, there was utter lack of authenticity in the claim that Arthur Lascañas had a recent bout with his conscience leading to a so-called spiritual renewal hence the new revelations and the recantation of an earlier testimony made just a few months before in the same venue.  Now, if there was any truth in his revelations, they were surely drowned by suspicions of ulterior motive and machinations of vested interest.  After all, it was pretty undisguised where all the reinforcement was coming from.  For all their protestations that they were not villains out to destabilize the government,  the Yellows, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, unmistakably looked and acted the part.  (By the way, is it true white men (Americans?)have whisked out the entire family of Lascañas out of Davao City?)

I would not say though that Lascañas was lying through and through.   Give or take some obvious inconsistencies, there must be some truth to some of these, although laced with exaggeration and lies, to make the man he betrayed, President Rodrigo Duterte, an out and out, cold-blooded murderer.  To be sure, the President has on several occasions actually admitted responsibility to some killings of criminals in the past. In fact, his most famous line publicly addressed to the bad guys is a menacing “I will kill you!”  Hence, for all intents and purposes, the revelations somehow jibed naturally with the image that even earlier had earned him the moniker The Punisher.

The point of attack is plain: that Duterte himself was ordering the bloody extrajudicial murders in Davao City where he was mayor for so many years, the implication being that presently as President he is applying the same strategy all over the Philippines.  That the dead were vicious criminals is beside the point, or so their argument goes; that these were done outside the bounds of the law is.  That it sends them rascals scampering away is not the point; that they are being chased not in accordance with the legal system is.  That there is relatively better peace and order situation now is beside the point; that the right to the presumption of innocence of the crime suspects was violated is the point.

A suspect is a suspect, the principle goes; he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  And no one and no one has any right to pronounce anyone guilty, let alone mete out punishment, but the courts— after due process of law. We are in a modern society; in modern society, vigilante justice has no place.

Well, no quarrel there, but if this is their strategy to provoke anger and condemnation of the President, it might just be the wrong one.

For, in popular culture, the vigilante is a beloved figure.  Dirty Harry, Rambo, Mad Max, Batman, The Punisher, to name a few from a long list,  are famous characters for hunting down the bad guys and smashing them to kingdom come, surely not with any judicial imprimatur.  Instant justice, swift retribution, no questions asked— it actually appeals to the base instinct of any man.   That thing called due process which demands long, expensive court trials, eventually ending in the acquittal of the criminals— what charm does it have? If anything at all, what the Lascañas revelations did, true or not, was bolster that same image in Duterte.   Indeed,  the The Punisher/Dirty Harry persona may even be part of his charisma given that he won the elections by a landslide even as that image was already appended to him.   Well, unless, people begin believing that indeed the crusading vigilante has gone rogue, targeting his enemies and the innocents instead, as Lascañas  and his sponsors in the Senate were trying to angle the investigation.

The reality is,  especially when the justice system is weak and the bad guys of the world are getting the upper hand, the Rambos and Dirty Harrys get  the applause not the boos, the gratitude not the condemnation.

JIM PAREDES IS THE NEW SYMBOL OF PEOPLE POWER

February 28, 2017

The biggest news about the 31st EDSA celebration is not some message about democracy and freedom or love of country but the sparsity of the crowd that assembled  there for the occasion— and Jim Paredes engaged in a stare-down confrontation with boys. Whooa!  I think, henceforth, the image will be the symbol of this event.  In a way, Paredes’ behavior could well represent what has become of the EDSA People Power celebration: a platform to display the bigotry and self-righteousness of the Yellows, the victors of that historic event. Supremely ironic, since the event is supposed to celebrate democracy and freedom of expression.  From now on, he is to me Jim ‘Lukatmi’ Paredes.

Oddly, the name Jim Paredes was never a prominent one in anti-Marcos movements and rallies during Martial law and after.  He was popular as one of the Apo Hiking Society, but as an anti-Marcos activist?   In fact, even in their songs, popular hits as they were, there was hardly any hint of activism or anti-government sentiments.  So where must this zealousness be coming from?

It was his mother, Ester Jimenez, who actually fought President Marcos.  She was a core member of the Light-A-Fire Movement, an anti-Marcos group said to be responsible for the numerous bombings around Metro Manila in the early 80s.  She was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for terrorism.  She was however released by the Cory administration, which probably explains her son’s devotion to the Aquinos.