pulitika


Until now, I have yet to choose what to write on the field labeled as President on the ballot come May 2010. But as of now, it is a toss up between abstain and Chiz Escudero.

Hours before his supposed bombshell, my curiosity prompted me to call a friend who is working for a political marketing firm connected to Senator Chiz Escudero. I asked if they have any idea what would be in store for the said Senator’s press conference that morning. My contact said that they’re not anymore connected to Sen. Escudero. “But you are frat brods, ” I told him and he retorted, “I support him in my personal capacity but I really don’t know what he is supposed to announce today.”

That is very unusual as that person is very much willing to share political information to me as a quid pro quo to me sharing the things I know.

So while I’m at work, I took time to refresh three Philippine news sites (abs-cbnnews.com, gmanews.tv and inquirer.net) every now and then as I don’t want to be left behind about this. And then, the headlines graced Sen. Escudero’s shocking pronouncement that he is resigning from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, his party for the past 11 years.

At first, I don’t know how to react. Instead of dousing water on my curiosity, the information spawned more questions. Does Danding know? How about the NPC leadership? What would Chiz do now? If he runs, who’ll be his machinery?

That confusion continued until the evening news interview between Ted Failon and the senator. But that time, it wasn’t about Danding or the NPC any longer, not even about Chiz’s presidential plans (or the lack of it) or his machinery (or the lack of it again) anymore. My final confusion on the issue is why the senator, known for his courage, isn’t answering Failon’s questions in his trademarked bravery and straightforwardness. Is it because answering it frankly would hurt Danding and the NPC?

I am happy that Chiz, still my favored presidential candidate (Noynoy as far second and the others farther), is the first one to categorically state his position on critical working class issues like labor contractualization. It is way better than Aquino’s motherhood statements, Villar’s non-committal stance and Erap’s demagoguery.

But I’m still finding it hard to fully support him because there seems to be something hidden behind his evasion of Ted Failon’s questions. And when I chanced upon a well-known law dean yesterday, he informed me that his contacts are telling him that Escudero is still a presidential contender.

Yes, I believe that Chiz is still running but, for now, I’m still leaning to abstain. Not until he is courageous against Danding and NPC as he is against Gloria and Lakas-Kampi.

1. Estrada would only add to the scores of oppositionists who declared and manifested their intent to run. This further divides the votes against the administration and an administration candidate winning means that no legal prosecution against Gloria even after her term will prosper.

2. If the law would eventually allow Erap to vie for the presidency again on the premise that he is not a “sitting president”, it means that Gloria can again run after another regime. And the cycle goes on. Imagine how laughable our nation will be.

3. Even if Estrada wins, what will stop the Arroyo-appointees-dominated Supreme Court from issuing a post-election decision nullifying his electoral victory? This will be very chaotic and will rationalize Gloria’s declaration of a martial law.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an entry about a tribute-benefit concert for Susan Fernandez.  And now, 365 days after that night of real music, the renowned Nightingale of the Philippine Left succumbed to ovarian cancer at the Medical City in Pasig.

I really don’t know her personally. All I know is that her songs, especially the Metro Pop award-winning song “Babae Ka”, contributed alot to the consciousness of the Filipino people during the so-called glory days of the Philippine progressive movement.

For more information about Susan, check http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/entertainment/07/02/09/singer-susan-fernandez-dies or simply Google her name.

The possibility of the Supreme Court being dominated by Arroyo-appointees has been the subject of political discussions for several months now. And since then, I’ve been trying to look for someone to support though I know I don’t have a say as I am not even a lawyer nor a politician.

I still would like to support someone so as to provide the necessary antagonism as Gloria is expected to simply pick the one who can deliver the needed political vote for her continuous reign at the Palace. One of the most awaited political decisions (though an actual legal controversy and a case of merit are yet to happen) of the Supreme Court would be the procedures for a Con-Ass; Gloria’s preferred mode of charter change and one of the methods to prolong her hold to power.

With this, I’d prefer that the next SC Justice be very vocal of his view on how the Constitution provides Congress the power to amend the charter. And that is how I’ve been conducting some research on the issue.

Only recently, I’ve heard that CA Associate Justice Hakim Abdulwahid, in a session of grilling by the Judicial and Bar Council, said that, “The voting should be separate. In local legislation it is separate. Moreso in respect to charter change.”

That for me is courageous as he knows that it could spell the end of his aspiration for a seat in the high tribunal. And given the situation and the number of seats that would be vacant, that is, in my opinion, enough to support Justice Abdulwahid’s bid to the SC.

And as I research about him, I have read that other people and groups are supporting Abdulwahid. They have varied reasons though but it is the 10 Muslim Congressmen’s mention of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Accord that caught my interest. They cited that the said agreement provides that it shall be our national policy to have at least one SC Justice and at least two CA Justices from among the qualified jurists in ARMM. Further research informed me that the first and only Muslim appointed in the SC was Justice Abdulwahid Bidin back in 1987, Cory’s time.

Well, that’s their reason. And as I’m not a legal expert nor a lawmaker, I’d rather support him with a reason as simple as my opposition to the Gloria Forever Plan.

In just a week after Gloria’s cohorts in the House of Representatives (thieves?) passed the Con-Ass resolution, various groups have already launched different forms of protests. To think that I am only watching videos through the internet, these creative protest actions (some may not be as lucky to be projected on television) reminds me of the time when I was still a full-time activist during the height of the anti-Erap struggle on the last quarter of the year 2000.

So I dared to make a list of the different forms of protest I’ve heard and seen:

1. Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) announced that they will siege the houses of the congressmen who voted in favor of HB 1109. They started last June 9 by pelting Quezon City District 3 Representative Matias Defensor’s concrete walls with rotten tomatoes. Another group made the same act at the District Office of Speaker Prospero Nograles in Davao the next day.

2. Sanlakas hosted a prayer intercession parody event in front of the Quiapo Church to cast the evil spirits out of those who railroaded the Con-Ass resolution. Celebrity host Tado Jimenez acts like Moses, complete with a wooden scepter, at the activity. They’ve called their tarpaulin gallery of Con-Ass railroaders as the “Altar of Traitors”.

3. RockED-Philippines hosted a silent protest at the Baywalk in Manila. One of their streamers displayed a bold “Explain Yourselves”-slogan addressed to the evil congressmen.

4. Anakbayan tried and was almost successful in reclaiming Mendiola and the EDSA Shrine as legitimate venues for demonstrations. It seems that the police force were given the instruction to finally practice maximum tolerance as violent confrontations will surely ignite the social volcano.

5. Partido ng Manggagawa used the Metro railroad tracks as a venue for their protests. Using trolleys, they chanted, “Chicha hindi Cha-cha!” Sloganeering and economism rolled into one.

6. The Liberal Party distributed small packs of Boy Bawang at the June 10 Ayala Rally to ward off the “Con-Asswang”. Of course, their Presidentiable Mar Roxas leads the pack.

7. Alab-Katipunan, in the same rally, brandished a colorful placard depicting Arroyo as the “Con-Ahass”. Creative enough for an obscure leftist organization.

8. Confessed Vice Presidentiable Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Pampanga Gov. Among Ed Panlilio and Color It Red vocalist Cookie Chua stars in a supposed anti-Con-Ass TV advertisement. They are still waiting for funding though according to a news report.

9. Anti-Con-ass activists in Cebu were seen wearing protective masks against the H1N1 virus. They just added a simple “No to Con-Ass!” to their health-conscious fashion accessories.

10. Body and face painting is the theme of the demonstration in Cagayan de Oro City.

11. The band Datu’s Tribe led by vocalist Cabring posted a hilarious photo essay protest against Con-Ass on their blog: http://lupitnicabring.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/datus-tribe-contra-con-ass-lego-adventures-3/

12. OFW Noli Benavent created a Facebook cause entitled Stop Con-Ass Now! a day after the resolution was approved. As of the latest count,  it already has more than 73,000 members.

 

this list will be updated every now and then

Months ago, I was about to write a blog entry for Francis Magalona to encourage readers to support his fight against leukemia. But as I research about him, I stumbled upon his request that his battle not be made too public and his family’s privacy be respected. So I decided not to proceed then.

Until the time to write a tribute came. Francism once wrote on his blog that, “I guess if we just loved our country so much we would be willing to die for it. I would. But a dead me is a useless me. I am more useful alive…”. I beg to disagree though. I believe that any dead person who lived a life relevant to society serves as an inspiration for everyone to be just like him. And the Master Rapper is one of those.

Arguably, Francism’s musical career boom started when he popularized rap music in the Philippines through the nationalistic tune of “Mga Kababayan” in 1990. This moralist approach, a broader definition of nationalism, to Philippine society fits my generation well that time. I was in grade school then. His songs, album after album, became more mature as he ventures into other social approaches; from Ito ang Gusto Ko’s direct action to Nilamon ng Sistema’s social realism.

And then high school days came, Francism is still there. And he is one of those who never succumbed to the artificial war of hiphop and metal. I know a lot of the former teenagers of that time knows what I’m talking about. Despite being in such a situation, the Man from Manila dared to unite the music of the two factions. He set-up the Psychedelic Posse for the hip-hop kids and the Kannabiz Band (I don’t know if this was eventually the Hardware Syndrome during the mid-90’s) for the children of metal. His wife Pia’s Evil Step-Sisters, then, added the soul flavor to his music.

It is with his daring and no non-sense attitude that Francism gained the respect of Filipino musicians from Masta Plann to The Dawn, from APO Hiking Society to Joey de Leon. No wonder that, time and again, he was being invited by a lot of artists to be a guest on their albums and shows. The Eraserhead-song Superproxy is one of the most famous of these.

Even after the Eraserheads’ break-up in 2002, the Master Rapper remained true to his unifying ideals. He resisted the temptation of taking sides and continued to collaborate with each of the Philippine Fab Four individually.

And when Ely Buendia had a heart attack in 2007, he is the first celebrity to publicly raise the call of Eraserhead unity. His now-popular blog entry is supposedly the opening sentence of my blog when I learned of his leukemia and this is how it goes:

“Fast forward to right now, 9:58 am, Jan. 9, a lot of what if’s scenarios pop in my head. What if the E-heads members are back, like long-lost blood brothers? What if ‘the most significant OPM band of Pinoy Rock’ would be in one room, what would happen?… Para sa akin panahon na para mag-reunite ang E-heads. Sugod na mga kapatid…rock & roll na hanggang umaga.” 

One of the most difficult things to measure is how anyone influenced society. We really don’t know if Francism’s earlier patriotic tunes influenced the massive mobilizations against the US Bases that led to its ejection in September 1991. We really don’t know how his blog entry made the Eraserheads’ forget about their differences and give reunification a chance. Well, there are no meters nor celsius for influence measurement.

Surely though, we have someone to thank for the influential music he gave us.

Francis M is dead. Long live Francis M!

During one of my visits at the Kaisa Headquarters in time for the upcoming USC Elections in UP Diliman, Sanlakas Youth Vice Chair BJ Costales introduced three of his slatemates for an orientation to our organization.

They are BJ’s co-councilor Jose Alinea of the College of Engineering, Tourism Representative Sheena Botiwey and Science Representative Gino Leynes.

Each one of them exudes a leader’s presence at first glance and they were eventually recruited to Sanlakas Youth.  I had a couple of chit-chats with each of them hours after but Jose’s story is the most interesting for me. His story speaks alot of his character.

Jose is one of the living reasons why the tuition increase should not have been approved two years ago. He is also one of the greatest arguments in support of the assertion that the STFAP has never been effective to aid poor-but-deserving students in pursuing UP education.

This Sta. Rosa Science High School alumnus told me that both his parents are unemployed. His mother was actually problematic about his college education after he failed to qualify for Bracket C of the STFAP. So despite his family’s obvious difficult condition, UP is still requiring him to pay 600 pesos per unit.

It is a good thing though that through his intelligence and diligence, he managed to be a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology.

But I’ve never seen him as a grade-conscious student. All the support that he is getting from his officers and co-members from the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers speaks a lot how active he is.

And as we unify Kaisa member-organizations about a disqualification case against his and some of his slatemates’ candidacy, it turned out that NCPAGSC Vice Chair Jhai Galenzoga is one of his dormmates, at the Yakal Residence Hall, and she was disheartened of the possibility of UP students being robbed of the opportunity to vote someone like Jose.

“Napakasipag na bata pa naman ni Jose,” Jhai disappointedly commented. Well, as a frequent visitor of the Kaisa HQ and as a keen observer of candidates’ behaviour, I must agree.

That same day that I managed to inform Jhai of the disqualification issue, Kaisa marched towards Quezon Hall and met with another party, Stand UP, to protest the said USEB decision.

The unity of Kaisa and Stand UP that night bore fruit as it produced enough pressure to make the USEB decide in favor of the supposedly disqualified candidates including Jose.

That night, cheers reverberated at the Kaisa HQ in celebration of that victory. And as I observe all of them, Jose is there silently smiling in his usual unassuming way.

I hope he is thinking that it is a good thing that he is now given a chance to fight for the rights of students like him; of working class origin.

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