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Arroyo was a no-show at yesterday’s first joint session of Congress

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Yesterday was historic because the unprecedented first joint session of Congress was held. Both members of the Senate and the House of Representatives convened for the first time in the history of Philippine politics to deliberate the merits of Arroyo’s surprising declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanáo.

But Arroyo wasn’t even there in the convention.

“Why is she not here? This is history. Does she not have the courtesy at all to report in person? We thought that with the President declaring martial law, the President herself should be here to explain to us,” asked Maguindanáo Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, his voice rising.

Together with fellow Maguindanáo Rep. Simeón Datumanong, Dilangalen said that they were the only lawmakers who were personally affected by Presidential Proclamation No. 1959.

Ms Arroyo issued the proclamation on Friday night to suppress a “rebellion in the offing” of disparate armed groups loyal to the Ampatuan clan, accused of masterminding the Nov. 23 killing of 57 people in Maguindanáo.

Since Friday’s proclamation read by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Ms Arroyo has not spoken one word about exercising her extraordinary martial law powers. She also has yet to face the press. Inquirer.net

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Próspero Nograles.

Those who presided over yesterday’s historic session, House Speaker Próspero Nograles and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile were quick to defend Arroyo. They claimed that she already complied with the constitutional requirements when she submitted her report to Congress 48 hours after she declared Martial Law in Maguindanáo on the night of December 4.

Heto lang ang masasabi co dian: Less talk, less mistake. Zero talk, no mistake.

Arroyo’s such a clever girl.

GMA gunning for a House seat: an all-time low for her character

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Gloria has done it all.

First, she stole the presidency from Erap in 2001. Then in 2004, she lied about not running anymore, but she did. Then came the infamous “Hello Garci” scandal which divulged massive election fraud during the 2004 Philippine National Elections. FPJ should’ve been the president.

Several scandals followed her after that, the most infamous of them all was the ZTE-NBN scam which put all previous Erap accusations to shame.

But now, what is this?

GMA wants House seat

Ending speculation about her political plans, President Arroyo declared yesterday that she is running for Congress representing the second district of Pampanga next year.

Speaking over government-run Radyo ng Bayan, Mrs. Arroyo said she realized after “much contemplation” that “I am not ready to step down completely from public service.”

“As you know, the people of my home district in Pampanga want me to remain in public life,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English. “So after much soul-searching, I have decided to respond affirmatively to their call.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she hopes to be a champion for the poor in Congress and work to uplift the economy.

“To that end, I will file my candidacy for Congress in order to serve the hardworking people of my home province,” she said.

She vowed to remain focused on her work as President until her final day in office.

Rómulo Macalintal, Mrs. Arroyo’s lawyer, and Press Secretary Cerge Remonde were present during the interview.

Macalintal told reporters “some local mayors” authorized by Mrs. Arroyo will file her certificate of candidacy (COC) today.

Mrs. Arroyo is ready for any lawsuit after she files her COC, he added.

Macalintal said it was about a month ago that Mrs. Arroyo started contemplating about running for Congress.

“About a month ago, that was talked about, she consulted her family, some supporters in Pampanga,” he said.

“She thought she was still very young and can still serve. That’s the judgment call of the President.”

He was not aware of any dissent from Mrs. Arroyo’s family on her decision, Macalintal said.

Mrs. Arroyo said she studied several options before deciding on continuing to be in politics.

“While I’m very much looking forward to stepping down at the end of my term, I have been mulling different ways to stay involved,” she said.

“I looked at going back to teaching. I have also examined working with non-profit organizations on issues ranging from the environment to women’s issues.

“I thought of many opportunities. One day I hope to pursue them… work for causes near and dear to me, like the fight against climate change, improvement of education and the cause of women.”

Mrs. Arroyo dismissed allegations that she wants to be a member of the House of Representatives to obtain immunity from the torrent of lawsuits to be filed by her political enemies after she steps down from the presidency.

“The only congressional immunity is from libel suits, from utterances made in a congressional session—that’s not what I’m after,” she said.

“This move reflects my ongoing commitment to public service. I have given careful consideration to a number of options that I could pursue upon leaving office.

“But I have come to the conclusion that I can best serve the nation from a seat in Congress should I be elected.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she is determined to champion the poor, fight for a stronger economy, and ensure that health, education and jobs are within reach of all Kapampañgans.

Once elected to Congress, she would get a chance to continue her advocacies “closer to the people,” she added.

Mrs. Arroyo said she will remain “firmly in control of our national government until the last day I am in office,” while campaigning for a seat in the House of Representatives.

“As President, my first commitment is to the nation we all love,” she said.

“My bid for Congress will be only spirited but secondary to my duty as President. I will devote very little time for my campaign for Congress.

“We have come too far and too much is at stake for me to waver in these last few months on my commitment to the people of the nation. I will keep a steady hand on the tiller of the ship of state.”

Mrs. Arroyo said she would continue to pour resources to the Comelec to ensure free, fair and open elections next year.

“And then I will work cooperatively with the incoming administration so they can hit the ground running,” she said. philstar.com

OK. Let’s put this into more simpler terms. Let us just say, for one hot minute, that all her excuses were acceptable.

BUT!!! –

Whatever happened to delicadeza? She should know what the word means; the last time I heard, Spanish is her language…

Her declaration only puts a black eye to the Maguindanáo Massacre. Instead of focusing on resolving this latest smear to her already scandal-riddened administration, she selfishly thought it best to announce her greed for power.

Shame on you.

GMA should expect to see more of this -- hopefully in Pampanga.

Desecrating the Philippine flag

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The Fourth Estate got too elated over Pacman’s systematic decimation of Miguel Cotto last November 15 that it failed to notice that a law was already being violated.

Many didn’t notice this, but the Philippine Daily Inquirer published a photo last November 17 showing a man unwittingly desecrating the Philippine flag at the expense of his admiration for Manny Pacquiáo(see below):

This action grossly violated the provisions of the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8491):

Section 34 of the Prohibited Acts;
f. To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisements or imprints of any nature on the flag;

But what if that guy holding the flag is a Filipino who’s already a US citizen — would he still be exempted from Republic Act 8491? Besides, the crime was done overseas — would it still matter?

Right now, what matters most is that our local leaders, particularly Senators Richard “The Dick” Gordon, “Candid” Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Francis “El Queso” Escudero, have proposed to “legally desecrate” the flag that has been known to us –and to our patriots who first hoisted it– as a symbol of our nationhood for more than a century already. The details of this “legal desecration” can be found in the provisions of Senate Bill 3307 which proposes to amend Republic Act 8491.

The bill seeks to add a ninth ray to our flag’s sun. With tons of national problems continuously disturbing our lives every day, why do our solons want to do such a thing?

In a statement, Gordon, who’s the most vocal on this latest move to make a graffiti out of our country’s beloved symbol, has this to say: “We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step toward reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country.”

He did not say, however, what those contributions were, if there were any at all. We’re speaking here in the context of Philippine historiography, something that the good senator is trying to imply especially when he mentioned that our country has been in conflict with Mindanáo Muslims for decades.

Well, not exactly decades, but for centuries. Or perhaps since the Fall of the Byzantine Empire. Or perhaps since their “prophet” Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh wrote these hate-filled passages in the Qur’an:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (S IX 29)

“O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you; and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.” (S IX 123)

“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (For friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guided not a people unjust.” (S V 54)

(The People of the Book are the Christians; jizya, on the other hand, is the tribute.)

As you can see, lasting peace between Muslims and non-Muslims is nothing but a pie in the sky.

Here in the Philippines, the government has tried everything it can to break the dividing wall between Muslim Filipinos and non-Muslims, particularly Christians. But it is the Muslims who keep on distancing themselves. And with much bravado. We long for peace, but they take pride in war. Why? Just refer to their Qur’an.

And now they have the nerve to claim Mindanáo for themselves. This should not be a surprise anymore because Filipinos today do not know much about Philippine history…

Renowned US historian John Leddy Phelan’s monumental work, The Hispanization of the Philippines (University of Wisconsin Press, Menasha, WI, 1959), recounts the story of one of the processes of how our nation was built:

In various provinces of the Philippines native chieftains and freeman were assembled during the year 1599 in order to “elect” the Castilian king as their natural lord and sovereign. These election ceremonies were organized upon the urging of a royal cedula from Spain. The Filipinos based their voluntary submission on the contractual promise that the king and his new subjects would render each other certain services.

To reiterate, the Filipino identity is the product of the Filipino State that began to exist in Spanish on 24 June 1571. The Filipino State was founded together with Manila on that same date, with the government having Spanish as its official language.

As stated in Phelan’s book, the previously existing native ethnic states went into the Filipino State as co-founding members in 1599. They incorporated themselves with the Filipino State when they elected the Spanish King (Rey Felipe II) as their natural sovereign. This election was verified during a synod-plebiscite held also that year.

From that time on, and after forming part of the 1571 Filipino State, our pre-Hispanic ancestors also accepted Spanish as their official and national language with their respective native languages as auxiliary official languages. Thus, the previously autonomous Ethnic States that existed before 1599 were respectively the ones that belonged to the Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Pampangueños, Bicolanos, Visayans, Mindanáo Lumads, etc. including the Moro Sultanates of Joló and Maguindanáo.

Yes, even Mindanáo’s Muslim leaders had a deal with the Spanish monarchy.

Thus, before we go off topic here, adding a ninth ray to the sun will not be a solution that there will be everlasting peace between Christian Filipinos and Muslim Filipinos. This is not to say that we should continue hating the Muslims. No, of course not. It’s useless. Jesus Christ didn’t teach us to hate. But the tenets of Islam teach Muslims to hate: “O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers who gird you about…

Sadly, their fundamentalism can never be denied.

Now, let us discuss what the symbols of the flag stand for. The white triangle stands for equality and fraternity. The blue field is for peace, truth, and justice. The red field for patriotism, and valor, and bravery. The stars are for Luzón, Visayas, and Mindanáo. And the eight rays of the sun represent the first eight provinces which declared themselves in a state of rebellion against Spain: Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Écija, Bataán, Laguna, and Batangas (these provinces were then placed under martial law by the Spanish government).

Adding a ninth ray to the sun tarnishes the significance of the meaning of the other eight rays. What province does the ninth ray represent? And what if other groups ask to be represented in the flag as well? Besides, the Moros fought the Spaniards in order not for them to be assimilated to the Philippine government. Is that what you call a fight for freedom? Yes, it is. But they fought only for themselves, not for the whole country.

To put it more bluntly, they fought against the Philippine government during the Spanish times, like what they’re still doing to this very day. And then our politicians want to reward them something that they never did?

In another angle, Emmanuel Libre Osorio postulated in a column of his in Business Mirror (25 June 2009) that “until the ninth ray is added to the Philippine flag, the Philippines cannot be a truly national community. It is that simple and yet its truth has eluded many.” (Business Mirror).

Simple? Unbeknownst to Mr. Osorio, the Philippines has been a national community since 24 June 1571. And that was when Manila was founded and declared as the capital city of the Philippine Islands during the reign of the first Spanish Governor-General, El Adelantado Miguel López de Legazpi.

The Filipino State, therefore, was simultaneously founded with the founding of the City of Manila. Logically speaking, why should there be a capital city, seat of a central government with its laws, without a corresponding state to govern?

We should thus celebrate June 24 each year as the birthdate of our country, and not merely as Araw ng Maynilà.

In the same article, Mr. Osorio also implied that this clamor for a ninth ray has much weight in it because it has been raised numerous times in the past by people of influence and political significance: former Cagayán de Oro City, Misamis Oriental Mayor (and now Senator) Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.; two-time Speaker of the House of Representatives José B. Laurel, Jr., and; Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil, ex-chairperson of the National Historical Institute. But that is beside the point. Mr. Osorio is already using appeal to authority here. Even if, say, José Rizal were alive today and he’d also opt for a ninth ray, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their argument would be correct already. Einstein may have been a genius, but that didn’t make him infallible.

Mr. Osorio then asks: is the addition of the ninth ray a constitutional heresy?

What does the Constitution say?

Article XVI, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “The flag of the Philippines shall be red, white and blue, with a sun and three stars, as consecrated and honored by the people and recognized by law.”

The Constitution is silent on the number of rays.

But that silence doesn’t mean that we should allow creativity –or should I say POLITICAL WHIMSICALITY– to meddle with what Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, together with her daughter Lorenza and Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, toiled for in Hong Kong way back in 1897. The constitution is also silent with the color of the sun and even on the shape of the flag. It can be “silent” about so many other things regarding the attributes of our flag; all one needs is an imaginative mind. I’m sure Mr. Osorio doesn’t want to encourage “creativity” such as what that boxing fan did when he hoisted the Philippine flag last Sunday with a “PACQUIAO FOR PRESIDENT” lettering, does he? But if Mr. Osorio is cool with that, then God save the Philippine flag and all other things which symbolize our national identity.

“The revolution, which is a commitment to freedom, is being recognized, symbolized by the rays. In the search for national unity, a common bond is sought and found. The common bond is the commitment to freedom. A commitment to freedom different from staging a revolution may also be symbolized by a ray or rays. It is all very simple.”

No, it is not all very simple. We are speaking of concepts here, beautiful concepts that exist only in the mind, in a distant future, a fevered dream, utopia. The “ninth ray advocates” may have a good intention: peace and harmony in Mindanáo. But no, adding a ninth ray to finally hault the neverending insurrection in the south is not a simple thing to do. Frankly speaking, it’s a waste of time, money, energy, effort, not to mention a crime against history. It is 100% guaranteed that the Muslim insurectos in Mindanáo and elsewhere will never give a monkey’s @$$ whether we add a ninth ray, or perhaps a tenth ray for Sultan Kudarat, or an eleventh for Shariff Kabunsuan, or a twelfth ray for Christmas, etc. The Muslims never asked for a ninth ray. The hungry and jobless Filipino masses do not need a ninth ray for their flag; what the masses are asking for are for food, stable jobs, and a trustworthy government. That is what the people are clamoring — THAT IS WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD GIVE. The Mindanáo Muslims (led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other self-styled Islamic patriots) on the other hand, are asking for the whole island of Mindanáo, or at least the areas covered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanáo. That is what the government should focus, on how to make them understand that it is not possible because it’s tantamount to destroying Filipino patrimony which Spain bequeathed to us.

This futile effort of adding a ninth ray to the sun’s flag in order to achieve peace can be compared with those peace talks the government conducts with local communists under the leadership of José Mª Sison. Malacañang Palace should realize that the communists will not stop until they have set-up a dictatorship of the proletariat, something that is vague and strange under republican and big-business politicians that we have today.

Sad but true.

The government’s efforts to find a solution to end these hostilities are laudable. But please, not at the expense of our flag. It has been an unwavering symbol of our national identity.

To repeat Arnaldo Arnáiz, LEAVE THE FLAG ALONE.

Lawmakers Disrespect Cory

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Symbol of the Philippine House of Representatives

Up to the last minute, members of Philippine Congress are still doing the unspeakable… by using President Cory Aquino’s funeral as an excuse for — what? idleness?

Malacañang recently announced that tomorrow, Wednesday, the whole country will get a day off as a sign of national respect for the late President’s burial. But not to be outdone, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives have given themselves a week off!

Is it because they have filed numerous resolutions to honor the late President? Is it even protocol? Are they all compelled to attend the burial rites and guard her grave for a week? Please explain.

And the last time I checked, burials are done only once. So what’s with the week off?

How about explaining the logic behind this week off when there are numerous pending bills to be debated and given action? Such an explanation will save them from the thinking public’s backlash once this issue catches more attention.

This is too much. For sure, President Aquino would have wished to delay her death for a couple more years had she known about this appalling display of congressional slackness. May they show the icon of democracy more respect by not sinking into unexplainable shiftlessness.

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