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October 28, 2016

While President Rodrigo Duterte is loudly contemplating about breaking away from the United States,  it is helpful to know and understand the view from the other side.

Before arriving in the PRC Philippine President Duterte declared “I am not breaking away. I just want to be friendly with everybody.” That’s actually a reasonable objective. Washington should emphasize that it has decided to update the relationship to reflect current realities, not punish Duterte. In fact, America would be following his lead by stepping back and allowing the Philippines as an independent nation to take over responsibility for its own future.


October 17, 2016


September 7, 2016

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, also former Martial law administrator and National Defense Chief under President Ferdinand Marcos, now fully retired, has seemingly found a new career taking the cudgels for Ferdinand Marcos against the anti-Marcos forces.

An excerpt:

Hanggang ngayon, walang gustong humarap sa akin para talakayin ang mga bagay na iyan (isyu ng Martial law, human rights, atbp),… sapagka’t hindi nila masasagot ‘yung mga tatanungin ko. Ang mga naloloko nila, ‘yung mga hindi nakakaalam.  Hindi ba sinabi ko sa nakaraang administrasyon ni Aquino, buuin mo lahat ‘yang mga kasama mo sa liderato ng Liberal, pati ikaw, harap-harapan tayo lahat sa harap ng bayan at magde-debate tayo kung totoo ang sinasabi ninyo o mali ang aking sinasabi… ayaw nila…takot sila… alam nila na alam ko ang katotohanan…

(Translation:  Up to now, no one among them wants to face me to discuss these matters (Martial law issues, human rights, and others)… because they would not be able to answer my questions. The ones they could fool, only those who are not well informed.  Have I not dared the last administration of Aquino, assemble all your allies in the Liberal Party, including you,  let us have a face-off in front of the people and let us debate,  if your assertions are true or mine are false… they don’t like it… they are scared… they know that I know the truth…)

“Takot sila!(They are scared!)”  Now, that!

Indeed, the anti-Marcos forces seem (to me, at least) to find more courage lashing and pummeling on the corpse of Marcos than facing the people who are alive who could yet answer their issues and allegations.  In my book, that’s plain cowardice.  Or maybe, I am just misreading them?

Hey, anyone from the anti-Marcos camp stand up and accept JPE’s dare?


September 5, 2016

A discussion paper on THE ECONOMIC LEGACY OF MARCOS by Gerardo Sicat.


The balance sheet for Marcos is that he left a legacy that was significantly positive. Yet in the writing of history, it has been made to look very negative. Perhaps, it can be argued that that positive legacy was reduced by his mistakes and shortcomings. However, there was still a sizable economic legacy left.

Certainly, some of the blame must fall on those who implemented the post‐Marcos transition. Those who succeeded him failed to capitalize fully and effectively on what he had left behind. The larger blame for that failure to seize on his economic accomplishments was that of his immediate successors. Although she was genuinely sincere and well‐intentioned, Corazon Aquino by careless choice, lack of experience, or sheer lack of understanding failed to turn opportunity into missed chances. Through a policy of denial of Marcos’s accomplishments, vindictiveness and the magnification of his faults, the successor government made wrong decisions that have led to the crippling of the nation’s leap in the economic realm.

If Marcos had left via an orderly transition of power, most of his accomplishments would have helped move the country forward without the country having lost any momentum. In fact, his accomplishments could have become a foundation for that new momentum.

In the final accounting, the economic legacy from Marcos is very positive but it was lessened during the transition in leadership. The discontinuity of the transition led to many problems that were blamed conveniently on the shortcomings of the Marcos presidency, whereas in fact some of problems to certain decisions taken during the transition. To analyze many of these will be the task of future economists, social scientists and historians


August 27, 2016

If you did not know, drug lords actually love the Rule of Law.

And why not?  Just take a look at who are actually doing the fighting for them now in the current war against drugs being instigated by the new government.  Is it some influential lobby groups representing the interest of the drug lords?  Or a party list group of drug users asserting their right of choice?  No.  On the forefront of the battle is no other than a senator of the realm,  Senator Leila de Lima, former Secretary of Justice, and a few other colleagues in the chamber, backed by human rights advocates, lawyers, due process champions, pro-lifers, priests, academics, professionals, civic groups and the like.  Now,  from any angle, that’s a formidable force to reckon with, a force which, for completely disparate reasons and purposes, find themselves curiously, if unwittingly, on the same side with the drug syndicates.  The drug lords need only lie low now, sit back and relax, and watch while the warring forces decimate each other.  When the dust have settled down, it’s back to business.  If a few of them were also bruised, it’s all part of it, it comes with the territory.  In their own way, they will remember to pay tribute to them who cleared the road of obstacles and of unwanted disruption.

Due process.  Who really could quarrel with the principles of due process?  Our legal literature is brimming with discourses for its advocacy and defense.  Any lawyer worth his salt should be able to stand up at any moment’s notice to orate on the topic:  Due process, the foundation of our justice system.  As it is, due process has now  become the  central issue because of this bloody war being waged against illegal drugs,  a war which has so far waylaid hundreds of drug suspects and caused the mass surrender of thousands of drug addicts to authorities.  It’s a violation of human rights,  cry the critics.  It’s murder, wails Senator de Lima.  This is a desecration of the Rule of Law, bewails the civil society.  And, to be sure, strictly speaking, they are correct.

Yet, they too would readily agree that use of illegal drugs has grown to gargantuan proportions and it’s a problem. Ironically, for all their cries,  it is the President’s draconian tactic that exposed the extent of the problem, to the embarrassment of the previous government. You have to ask,  just how did the problem grow?  Was it not under the auspices of so-called due process or rule of law of previous regimes that it grew?  At the Senate hearing, de Lima was at pains to explain that the previous government to which she belonged did everything it could and that it should not be blamed for negligence.  She went on to cite various initiatives from agencies under her watch as Secretary of the Department of Justice in the previous administration.  De Lima should be asked then, what the results were because, obviously, if measured by the results, the initiatives failed grandly.  Why these failed, she should honestly seek why.  Because if she did, she will come to the sad realization that due process is the problem.

Indeed, the tough question to ask: can you fight illegal drugs in a regime of due process?  No one will tell you this, but the answer is NO, no you can’t!  It is either you sacrifice due process and fight illegal drugs in an extrajudicial manner.  Or uphold due process and just give up the fight.  Tough choice to make, but that is the reality on the ground.

In the real world, and I mean, in the real, unembellished world of real, imperfect people, due process is just a beautiful concept, easy to undermine and manipulate if you understand how it works and where the nuts and bolts are. See, when you are awash with money to buy anybody, have weapons of war to employ against those you cannot buy, and  you have an amoral/criminal mind free of any moral/ethical restraint, due process is just that, an ideal for the idealists to idealize!  Everybody has a price.  Cynical though that statement is, it is true.  Some are just more expensive than the others.  And for the very few highly principled men and women who cannot be bought, just how much violence could they really endure when instruments of brute force is turned on them?

Because the Rule of Law does not differentiate the guilty from the innocent, the guilty drug elements could easily take refuge in the same law that protects the innocent.  And because due process requires evidence and witnesses to prove a case in court, all that is needed is to take care of the witnesses and evidence. Also because you need a fiscal to prosecute a case and a judge to decide on it, then the fiscal and the judge must be dealt with too.  By this, you can already identify the personalities who need to be bought, threatened, silenced or killed.  As it helps too to have a wider sphere of influence, why not include influential personalities too as recipients of goodwill?   No wonder why there is no one of consequence in the matrix of drug personalities being sent to the gallows despite harsher laws.

How many law enforcers could really refuse the temptation of riches?  How many witnesses could?  How many fiscals and judges could really forgo the offer of millions?  To the idealist on the outside looking in, he could only see the corruption of the system and rail to the heavens against it, but he understands human nature the least.  Luxury and riches in real life have their own lure that not many really could resist.  And for the few who could, how many of them could brave the daily threats of violence on their own lives and their loved ones?

Over a few bottles of beer one night in a friend’s place, as our conversations wandered into Duterte’s war on drugs, I posed this situation to my friend:  Imagine you are a cop, the good, idealistic kind; you are offered a million pesos to let go of a drug case, plus a few thousands more weekly after that;  they say it’s the last offer as there were previous offers before which you adamantly turned down; they say if still you refuse, your children and  your wife will be kidnapped one by one and killed like a dog… will you accept or not accept the offer?  He stared up thinking deep for a long moment.  Just then, his youngest child came rushing out of their house and sat on his lap.  Our beer talk quickly drifted into other more innocuous topics…

The morning after, I was awakened by the blaring radio of a neighbor.  The news was about a teenager who was gunned down at dawn, the mother swears his son never did drugs at all.



August 14, 2016

Reacting to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines has recently released its study  entitled Why Ferdinand E. Marcos Should Not Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The Executive Summary, as follows:

President Rodrigo R. Duterte proposes to bury Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) because he “was a Filipino soldier, period.” The NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES (NHCP) objects to the burial of Mr. Marcos at the LNMB based on his record as a soldier. The NHCP study demonstrates that:

  1. Mr. Marcos lied about receiving U.S. medals: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Order of the Purple Heart, which he claimed as early as about 1945.
  1. His guerrilla unit, the Ang Mga Maharlika, was never officially recognized and neither was his leadership of it.
  1. U.S. officials did not recognize Mr. Marcos’s rank promotion from Major in 1944 to Lt. Col. By 1947.
  1. Some of Mr. Marcos’s actions as a soldier were officially called into question by upper echelons of the U.S. military, such as his command over the Allas Intelligence Unit (described as “usurpation”), his commissioning of officers (without authority), his abandonment of USAFIP-NL presumably to build an airfield for Gen. Roxas, his collection of money for the airfield (described as “illegal”), and his listing of his name on the roster of different units (called a “malicious criminal act”).

Mr. Marcos’s military record is fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies, and lies. The rule in history is that when a claim is disproven—such as Mr. Marcos’s claims about his medals, rank, and guerrilla unit—it is simply dismissed. When, moreover, a historical matter is under question or grave doubt, as expressed in the military records about Mr. Marcos’s actions and character as a soldier, the matter may not be established or taken as fact. A doubtful record also does not serve as sound, unassailable basis of historical recognition of any sort, let alone burial in a site intended, as its name suggests, for heroes.

For these reasons, the NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES opposes the plan to bury Mr. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

I suppose that if a study should concern itself on the qualification laid down by the President, which is, “because he was a Filipino soldier, period”,  all that needs to be shown in answer to “why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan”,  is that Marcos is neither a Filipino nor a soldier.   But, apparently, the research has another purpose.

In any case, I took time to read it, three times in all.  I thought the study was haphazardly done, biased in favor of materials adverse to the former President.

My quick personal comments on the summary:

  1. That Marcos lied about his medals, the study did not present conclusive proof . All that could be gathered is that, at best, the medals are doubtful for lack of corroboration and Marcos’ supposed heroic exploits were too Rambo-like to be true.   If anything, more exhaustive research is warranted.  For instance, if the medals were fake, how and on what basis did he acquire them?  I suppose that as these are meant to recognize exemplary acts of courage and heroism these medals are rare products of special craftsmanship and were not given away by the US Armed Forces like candy.  Or, did he have his medals forged by a forger-craftsman somewhere in Recto?  Yet if NHCP is so convinced his medals are fake, why, it should consider petitioning the US government to disown these.
  2. His supposed guerrilla unit, Ang Mga Maharlika, was not officially recognized by the Americans, true, but the study omits that subsequent appeals for recognition bore the endorsement of prominent Filipinos of the resistance movement.    This should also be taken in the context of the fact that the US government actually  gave recognition to only less than 5,000(?) Filipinos as legitimate guerrilla fighters when in reality more than 200,000 Filipinos fought in the war. The Rescission Act of 1946 should provide more context.  To be sure, even American officials concede to the difficulties of validating claims on account of the chaos of the war.
  3. It had always been Major Marcos, as far as I know. But what’s the point as an issue against his burial at the Libingan?
  4. What is Marcos’ side of the story? As a rule, there are always two sides to a controversy.  There seems to be a predisposition to take the accounts and assertions of the Americans unquestioningly.  Military organizations are often occasioned by  rivalry, intrigues, misunderstanding, disputes, internal bickering, and confusion within and among the ranks.   In this war, the intermix of race and nationality of Filipino and American soldiers must have added color and complications.  If anything,  one could glean that Marcos indeed was too independent-minded and  bullheaded for the Americans, and probably had serious problem following orders from his American superiors.  Bad blood seemed to exist.

It is one thing to be doubtful; it is another to summarily allege  fraud and accord malice on the basis of that doubt. As it is, the line of argument goes this way:  it is uncorroborated/lacking in evidence therefore doubtful, doubtful therefore fraudulent.  Worse,  that doubt seems to be taken automatically against Marcos.

Studies of this nature should strive to be more objective and in-depth if it is to be taken more seriously.  The slant of the research is so palpable that even the attempt to make it appear objective only magnify the bias.  It is not scholarly, it is not comprehensive,  it is not compelling.   It was only meant to stop the burial, if it could. You’d think this one would impress Duterte?

Marcos, a hero or heel?  That is better left to future historians.  His haters of course think the jury is out: he is evil, period.

By the way, did the NHCP also ever conduct a study entitled “Why President Cory Aquino’s Dog Should Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani”?

(NOTE: Several revisions have been made since this post was first uploaded.)



July 22, 2016


All you need is a look at the map to see the imperiousness and brazenness by which the red line was drawn across the blue space to mark the claimed territory.   Pushing out as far as possible away from its own shores, it proceeds to graze right through its own neighbors’. Imagine this happening in your own locale, one of the neighbors, Mr. Big Shot, suddenly howling out to all that the entire lake where everyone in the community fishes and takes a swim, is all his, then proceeds building a fence cutting across everyone else’s front yard.   Of course, you and the other neighbors would bristle and protest, because you know that you own part of the lake too. But then as he is the most powerful man in the block, you oppose him only at your own peril.

Anyway one sees it, it is not a pretty sight.  It is a scandalously inconsiderate and arrogant.  It is nothing but a brazen display of Might, where Might makes Right because anyone who would dare pose any challenge would be crushed helplessly.  That is not an act of a good neighbor.

Now, that is just me with my layman’s rather simplistic view of the world.  In the world of global relations and diplomacy,  there are possibly other elements that my analogy could not capture.  Like China’s competition with the world’s superpowers for world domination, for instance.  Still and all, the principles and elements that build a good neighborhood are all and the same at every level.  In an increasingly interconnected world,  we are a community of nations, much a like a community of people who must learn to live with each other.

Is this the best way for China to guard its own dominion in this part of the world and advance its interest?  Be rough and intimidating on its neighbors? Instead of employing persuasive powers,  the terror of brute force?  This is not the way to win allies nor sway enemies.

Now that the ruling on its nine-dash line was dashed by the International Tribunal, China decides to dig in and threatens the Philippines and the rest of the world to lay it aside or else.  After ignoring the jurisdiction of the Tribunal where it could have presented its side with its own evidence, it now uses the international media to broadcast its side of the story while threatening the rest of the world of possible devastating consequences.

The world should engage the citizens of China.  Do they agree to the actions of their government?

China should reconsider its own posture and image.  As a mighty giant, it should not be seen as a bully or an intemperate ogre ready to go on a rampage if offended.   It should assume a more high-minded stance as a world superpower.  The Philippines indeed could be leaning more on its side being a next-door neighbor which could provide plenty of benefits, but is being  pushed away instead into the embrace of another.