It is wrong to say that Mindanao’s formula for development and progress hinges solely on giving an autonomous government to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
True the Bangsamoro government will usher in peace after decades of fighting between government forces and Moro insurgents clamoring for a bigger voice.
But there is another important factor needed to provide Mindanao with firepower to lure investors and spur progress and development.
The power of power or stable supply of electricity.
Where are we in so far as the power to propel industries is concerned?
In the inside page is a news report about an official of a government agency mapping out economic strategies for Mindanao.
He expects a flood of investors lured next year by the island’s power supply. He was not only talking about stable supply. He was assuring Mindanao will have “excess” power by 2015.
Indeed, hydropower plants, coal-fired power plants and other energy sources are sprouting up today in Mindanao.
For an island hobbled for many years by power crisis, the news about stable power supply is the biggest news in Mindanao today, with as much import as the creation of the Bangsamoro government.
Davao City’s women’s rights champion Representative Luz Ilagan and her Gabriela Party-list are in the forefront of a campaign to send to jail Davao City Police director Vicente Danao for violation of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) Act of 2004.
We laud Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela for their energy to make Mr. Danao answer for a crime presumably in violation of RA 9262.
But the efforts of Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela agaianst Mr. Danao we see as selective and nothing but a publicity stunt to justify people’s money spent for Gabriela as a party-list in the House of Representatives.
Recently, Davao City’s news and public affairs television aired a video of an unidentified American national dragging a Dabawenya Commercial Sex Worker (CSW) to a police station to complain about allegedly being shortchanged in a ‘blow job’ contract in a seedy motel.
The video showed the filthy American slapping and kicking the poor woman who was helplessly sitting on a bench while undergoing the brutality inside the San Pedro Police Station.
The mauling of the woman was carried out right in the presence of policemen, including the police duty officer, who did nothing to stop this filthy American from the cruelty inflicted on a resident of Davao City.
We are supposed to believe that there is equality in law.
If Mr. Danao violated VAWC in the confines of his home, this filthy American trampled on women rights right before the eyes of government law enforcers, inside a government building (police station), his brutality in blatant violation of RA 9262 shown to the public in a news report with nobody, after the fact, doing nothing about it including Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela and San Pedro Police Station commander Roland Lao, who could have immediately ordered an investigation if he is not ignorant about RA 9262 or Davao City’s own VAWC ordinance.
This insult should not be allowed to pass.
The Davao City Police trumpeting about having VAWC desks in every police station is a fluke if we take as a sad experience the case of the filthy American mauling a Dabawenya CSW right inside a police station.
Let the Danao case proceed and the police officer made to suffer if he is guilty. But this filthy American should not be allowed to go scot-free.
The winner in the Danao case, if the police officer is convicted, is his wife who has complained before police authorities about alleged violation of VAWC, and Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela for the credit they would earn for sending Mr. Danao to jail.
The loser would be Mr. Danao and his career, and the Dabawenyos served for years and set to be served for many more years by this able police officer, who unselfishly offered himself and his career to make Davao City peaceful.
If there is a winner , it is no other than the ugly American who went scot-free despite kicking and slapping a Dabawenya right inside a police station in full view of police officers, in this city which prides itself to the high heavens about having its own VAWC ordinance to protect its women.
The losers are the poor CSW, police credibility to enforce a law, and also Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela for selectivity in choosing which case merits their attention.
In behalf of the Dabawenya, we pose this “Do-It-Right’ Challenge to Rep. Ilagan and Gabriela, and to Davao City Councilor Leah Librado, a Gabriela stalwart and chair of the City Council Committee on Women and Children Welfare, to go after this filthy American.
Failing this, their claim as champions of women’s rights does not have merit.
“For development to be truly genuine and appreciated, it must be anchored on true moral values, people-focused or people-centered, and is caring for the environment.”
The call of President Benigno Aquino III to business groups to help transform Mindanao economically is not only timely but is very laudable. It comes in the heel of the submission of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress, which they are expected to pass without much delay. The President should be heeded and supported for this noble intention.
Of course, the future Bangsamoro political entity (BPE) was not directly mentioned in his speech, as appearing in the article published by one of the leading metropolitan dailies, but we are sure that it is surely included in his mind and agenda. The BPE is in the heart of Mindanao, and a highly depressed area at that, which therefore deserves the highest priority in this impending business activity boom in this region.
Moreover, development is one of the rationales of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation, especially after the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), and the BBL.
But for development to be truly genuine and appreciated must anchor on true moral values, people-focused or centered, and is caring for the environment.
In no way, it should become development aggression, which results in massive displacement of people, especially members of the marginalized sectors of society, including the indigenous peoples.
This is the reason why the MILF is not rushing up things for the entry of mining companies even during the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
The priority is to develop whatever potentials already there in the BJE, say the vast rich agricultural lands and the fishing grounds that abound with fishes and marine products.
Neither are we imagining constructing high rise buildings or putting up instant industrialized zones. This level of development will come at the right moment, which happens after people are truly empowered and capacitated.
However, right now, there is a creeping threat to the landholdings of ordinary people.
With the lure and advent of the plantation economy, their lands, including those acquired through the operation of the scheme called “voluntary offer to sell” (VOS) under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), are rapidly disappearing.
Many moneyed and powerful people are buying off these small landholdings usually at an exuberant price and put there either African oil, banana, pineapple, or rubber plantations.
With this difficulty seemingly looming in the air and with no succor right in sight, the curse of the bloody encounters over the friars’ lands centuries ago or the haciendas in Luzon and the Visayas will be reenacted in the BJE.
The necessary consequence is that in the rumble in the jungle, the mightiest and the strongest will always triumph. EDITORIAL/Timely Call /luwaran.com/Sept.8, 2014
The MILF has no verified report about it. In our view, there is more loss than gain for the two groups in joining the ISIS.
For us, the threat is not in the two groups’ joining the ISIS. Their number is too tiny to be felt and make a difference. The ISIS is overflowing with volunteers from all over the world, including those from the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.
The threat really comes from the extremism espoused by the ISIS. Ideas are contagious and infectious. Wild ideas are attractive to those who want adventures and pre-occupied with hatred and revenge. The ISIS, we suppose, is not short of people who are like those Europeans who joined the Crusades in the 13th century to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, who were described as “infidels” by Christendom.
The MILF condemns barbarism and savagery whether done by other groups including the ISIS or even by its own members. Neither are we justifying the advent of the ISIS. That is not for the MILF to dip our fingers into. But it is a fact that the Arab countries suffered humiliatingly from the evil machinations of Western countries. Iraq was invaded to get rid of a dictator, Saddam Hussein, and to seize his nuclear weapons, which were not there. Nobody cried for the ouster and death of Saddam. But the real reasons for the invasion were concealed, i.e., to seize control of the Iraqi oil and as a protection for Israel, which is the spoiled brat of the Western world. What did the Iraqis get in return? Nothing, but bloodshed, destruction, anarchism. Who are at fault? The one that created the troubles now or those who planted the seeds of enmity and violence? The answer is, both, but who is the main culprit?
Relatedly, it is to be admitted that the process to make real the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is its defining moment. The BBL has already been submitted, not just to the Office of the President (OP), but on August 20 to President Benigno Aquino III, who is expected to review it in the light of the letter and spirit of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its four Annexes, plus the Addendum on the Bangsamoro Waters.
We don’t doubt the President will exercise his powers of review diligently, fairly, and fully conscious that the BBL should and must address a problem, the Moro Question, and put it to rest forever. This is our conviction.
In short, what we mean is that the BBL we envision is one that complies with the flexibility of the Constitution and, more importantly, one that will lead to the resolution of this question. Short of this, the road ahead is not easy to contemplate on.
It is this high hope for the passage of a good BBL and the fear for not being able to realize it for whatever reason that the ISIS’ virus is much to be feared. Surely, the current leadership of the MILF, which is matured, experienced, and reasonable — and has done and is doing everything feasible to succeed in this peace undertaking — will no longer be in control of everything. Frankly, it is the power, moderating line, and influence of the MILF that hinders the birth of a truly strong radical group in Mindanao. Without the MILF, it would be free-for-all in Mindanao. God forbid!
The historic signing October 15, 2012 of the Framework Agreement between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is concededly the biggest achievement since President Benigno S. Aquino III assumed the presidency more than two years ago.
The President and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, witnessed the signing of the accord held in Malacanang Palace.
“Today, we sign a Framework Agreement that can finally seal genuine, lasting peace in Mindanao. In full view of the Filipino people, and witnessed even by our friends from different parts of the world, we commit to peace: A peace that will be sustained through democratic ideals; a peace that heals and empowers; a peace that recognizes the many narratives of the Filipino people, and weaves them into a single, national aspiration for equitable progress,” the President said in his speech.
It was a fulfillment of what he said during his inaugural address on June 30, 2010 when he told the nation that regarding the problems in Mindanao, he said: “My government will be sincere in dealing with all the peoples of Mindanao. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts inclusive of the interests of all may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.”
When President Aquino assumed the presidency on June 30, 2010, he vowed to work hard for the peaceful settlement of the long-drawn Mindanao conflict.
Under the new Aquino administration, the government and MILF peace panels went to Kuala Lumpur almost every month starting in 2011 to hold informal exploratory talks to find ways and means to come up with a Framework Agreement as the roadmap to the peace process.
The peace panels of both the government and MILF worked hard amidst difficulties and thorny issues to be resolved during the negotiations.
But it was their perseverance, trust, faith and honesty that prevailed when the going was rough with both peace determined to resolve thorny issues.
The signing of the framework agreement was greeted by a large section of society with cheers.
After 16 long years of off-and-on negotiations, the GPH and the MILF signed a Framework Agreement as a prelude to sign and final peace accord by 2016.
In his speech at the signing of the Framework Agreement, President Aquino said: “This agreement not only marks a new chapter in our history; it now defines the very path we take as a people—one where opinions are heard and hope is shared; where understanding and consensus breed meaningful solutions for all stakeholders; one where every child is offered the opportunity to shape his own destiny.”
Is the future of Mindanao now treading the road of peace? We pray and hope to God it is.
Karla & Pait-pait
As Philippine elections go, mudslinging is expected to be the order of the day when candidates go at each other’s throat when campaigning heats up for the May 2013 election.
Charges of libel or threats of being hailed to court are political realities that media must have to face as they report on politicians in a mission to educate the public on who are the deserving candidates they should vote lead government for the next three years.
Media’s woes over penalties in the Penal Code has doubled with fines and penalties enshrined in the new Cybercrime Act, which, , among other crimes committed through the information highway, protects persons against libel in cyberspace.
The Cybercrime Act is meeting a storm of protest not only from journalists but as well as human rights groups and advocates of press freedom.
The Supreme Court has issued a Temporary restraining order against the implementation of the law, but media’s woes about it curtailing their freedom and exposing them to more windows for libel charges, should not stop there.
The High Court ruling is temporary and we predict the law to be set into motion soon.
With the Penal Code and the Cybercrime Act coming as a double-edged threat to media, journalists may as well reassess their situation and should be more careful about their reports in relation to the coming polls.
Name-calling to shame candidates are common in elections and a journalist could face libel charges if you call Davao City First District congressman Karlo Nograles as Karla Nograles or former Davao City vice mayor Luis Bonguyan as “Louie Pait-pait.” In the hands of a brilliant lawyer, these types of name-calling could land one in jail.
The honorable Nograles could file charges for criminal act in violation of the Cybercrime Act, if the scurillous remark is published online, and the Penal Code if the dirty piece meets requirements of libel. Karlo could also seek comfort from the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Davao City authored by no less than Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, which protects anybody from being verbally or physically assaulted and discriminated against by virtue of creed, race and sex. Bonguyan. who is facing off with Karlo in the First District congressional race, on the other hand, could sue you for calling him “pait-pait,” a Cebuano lingo for stingy. Because Louie is not stingy. I still have the charcoal flatiron and a presure cooker that Louie gifted to me in previous Xmases. I could stand as a witness for Louie that he is not a Mr. Scrooge. So there. Never, never call Karlo Nograles as Karla Nograles or Louie Bonguyan as Louie Pait-pait if you don’t want to be sued.
While we are on the subject of libel, allow us what the Philipine Star said in its editorial about the Cybercrime Act:
No law can be passed that curtails rights guaranteed by the Constitution. That’s the argument given by government officials who are urging the public to give the Cybercrime Prevention Act a chance to work. Whether the argument is valid is now up to the Supreme Court to decide, as the tribunal tackles petitions challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act 10175.
The positive objectives of RA 10175 – going after terrorists and purveyors of pornography, for example – have been overshadowed by the inclusion of online libel as a new criminal offense whose penalty is a degree higher than libel committed through traditional media as defined under the Revised Penal Code. Human rights advocates have also raised concern over provisions, some of them vaguely worded, which give the government broad powers to monitor and block access to online data and social media.
If the SC declares the new law or portions of it unconstitutional, it will not speak well of the legislative process. The provision on libel was reportedly a last-minute “insertion” by the bête noir of the online community, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto. Some senators are claiming they did not bother to read the insertion. This is a troubling admission of a cavalier attitude in crafting legislation. It gives an indication of why too many laws in this country cannot be properly enforced.
Legislation does not come free; public funds are needed for the upkeep of the two chambers. Time is also precious; many urgent matters call for legislation. For the multimillion-peso pork barrel allocations and fat commissions legislators enjoy, they must at least be able to churn out laws that do not require amendment as soon as these come into force.
Standing for our rights
We owe it to the people who have stood up for their rights, for being defiant, not backing down to such machinations of authorities to wrest away from the people whatever is left of their hard-won freedoms.
Once again, the powers that be are gagging our fundamental freedoms of speech, expression and the press this time with the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Even with the protests and petitions to the Supreme Court from netizens, journalists and civil society against this Act, the Aquino administration insists that this Act will pursue online criminal acts and not attack our freedom.
But the problem with such argument is that it insists on a law that essentially would tend to give liberty for the powerful to tag the freedom of citizens speaking out their opinions and views online as a criminal act.
It basically says that people who post online criticisms on public officials or on institutions and anyone who agree on such comments will face the consequences. The consequences in this case are a libel suit, a jail term, and having one’s website or online accounts pulled down by authorities.
The Cybercrime Prevention Act thus prevents people from speaking out.
The essence of democracy is having citizens speak out their views on political and social issues. With that, the people have taken to new media, the Internet, as a venue to address basic problems and realities. This is seen this with recent online criticisms on the Aquino administration’s failure and branding such as “Noynoying”. Such criticism is not a personal attack, but reflects the people’s frustrations of inaction amidst spiraling prices, unemployment, floods, plunder of our natural resources and more.
But with the Cybercrime Act, those in power can silence their critics by slapping them with online libel. Just like politicians using libel against journalists, they can and will use this Act to attack citizens.
It shows that Aquino is now the bully as he defies his boss, the people.
Thus, the right to express our criticisms becomes vital more than ever. Media, traditional and new ones, serve as the outline of the peoples’ assertion of their rights. As the Supreme Court sits en banc today, we demand that our petitions are heard; we assert that no law should be made to stifle such freedom.
FROM THE MAILS
Commending the High Court
We commend the Philippines Supreme Court for issuing a temporary restraining order against the Cybercrime Prevention Act. The court should now go further by striking down this seriously flawed law.
Congress, if it still wants to have a law governing online activity, should ensure that such a law will not infringe on civil liberties, human rights, the Constitution and the Philippines’s obligations under international law. All provisions in Philippine law that allow for imprisonment for peaceful expression should be repealed. Congress should also ensure that any discussion on proposed laws be done in a transparent manner. BRAD ADAMS, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch