Saturday, September 29, 2007

Senator Gordon's Outbursts

I was listening to DZMM early in the morning on Thursday when I heard the anchors criticizing Senator Richard 'Dick' Gordon for blasting Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano during the ZTE NBN hearing the previous night and in a GOCC hearing that morning, COA Chairman Guillermo Carague.

One of the anchors, I think it was Korina Sanchez, read a text message that was purportedly sent in by listener and the message branded Dick Gordon as 'bastos' or something to that effect.


I don't recall if the text message sent in by that listener referred to any particular part of the hearings on ZTE or the GOCC hearings. Korina didn't clarify it either -- maybe she was clueless again (as usual) -- and just went on yapping about the text message without giving her listeners any context.

I watched part of the ZTE hearings where Gordon really speared Abalos and I think the old skunk Abalos got so much less than what he deserved.

One of my friends said 'Grabe naman iyong pag-gisa ni Gordon kay Abalos, sobra at nakakaawa naman iyong mama.'

I told my friend that his sympathies were completely misplaced and I told my friend off, 'Tayo ang nakakaawa pare, ang mga kababayan natin ang kawawa.'

Have we all forgotten all of Abalos' sins? Iyong mga machines na binili for the automation of the ARMM elections, ilang daang milyong piso na pera ng bayan ang sinayang doon matapos ang kumisyunan nila? Iyong hindi pagpatupad ni Abalos sa Automated Elections na dapat sana ginawa nuong 2007 elections at paglitaw nitong si Lintang Bedol... Anu yun, hello garci na naman?

Anak ng Tokwa naman, bakit ka naman maaawa kay Abalos? Hello?!!!

Gordon's act of rebuking Alan Peter Cayetano for being ignorant of the rules for Senate Hearings was justly deserved, in my view. The brother in the brother-sister Senate tag team had previously thrown out even the faintest notions concerning the rules of evidence in the lower house hearings on the First Gentleman's hidden wealth last year. Then, here, we have him chairing the Blue Ribbon Committee pero hindi niya alam ang rules ng hearing.

Ewan ko, hindi ako abogado pero inis ako sa taong nagdudunong dunongan -- maraming ganyan, lalo na sa AM radio.

Iyong kay Guillermo Carague naman, natanong lang kung bakit hindi siya nagpapadala ng COA auditors sa ARMM eh nagwala na. Sa tutoo lang, problematic talaga ang pag-audit sa ARMM and according to Carague -- when he was much calmer -- eh limang tao na yata ng COA ang namatay just trying to perform their duties. Then again, it doesn't justify Carague's outburst -- it was Carague who stood up at dinuro si Senator Gordon. It doesn't justify him calling Gordon a dictator because Gordon didn't write the laws governing COA and the law mandates the COA to conduct audits in all parts of the land -- sinisingil lang ni Gordon si Guillermo which is just right.

Ang problema kasi diyan sa ARMM eh ganito... Gusto ng gobyerno nating ipagpatuloy ang pagpapadala ng pondo para sa kung ano anong mga proyekto, naturalmente kapag nagbigay ng pondo ang pamahalaan eh kelangan maipakita kung saan napunta ang pera. Kung hindi maipapakita kung saan napunta iyong pera eh titigil ang gobyerno sa pagpapadala ng pondo. Malamang iyon ang nangyayari sa ARMM at iyon ang gustong bigyang solusyon ni Senator Gordon... Ang nakakainis diyan eh malamang payag naman ang mga taga ARMM na magpa-audit sa COA pero ang COA naman ang ayaw pumunta sa kanila -- gaya nang ayaw pagpunta ng mga taga-PRC sa Sulu para bigyan ng exam ang mga teacher doon na matagal nang nagtuturo nang walang sweldo. Bakit ayaw? Kasi sarado at nakakandado ang mga utak ng karamihan sa atin pagdating sa ARMM, lagi na lang nating iniisip na delikado ang ARMM... war zone ang ARMM... Hindi niyo ba naisip na malamang kaya nagkaka-ganyan ang ARMM eh dahil na rin sa maling pag-iisip na iyan?

Ewan ko mga kapatid hah, pero, may punto ang pagka-galit ni Gordon at kung nagagalit man iyong mama, hindi naman iyan dahil wala lang... Siguro panahon na para tanggappin natin na pagdating sa 'right and wrong', marami sa atin ang baluktot ang pag-iisip.

Hah! Offended kayo sa paglalapirot ni Gordon kay Abalos na parang kulangot? Offended kayo sa mainit na pagpansin ni Gordon sa pagkawalang alam ni Cayetano sa rules ng isang Senate Hearing? Offended kayo kay Gordon kasi tinanong niya ang COA kung bakit ayaw nitong mag-audit sa ARMM?

Ang problema kasi sa Pinoy eh ganito, siya na nga ang nilalapastangan eh siya pa ang makikiusap at mamamanakluhod... Panahon pa ng kastila ganyan na ang karamihan ng mga Pinoy at nakakainis lang isipin, iyong mga duwag ang nakikinabang sa pagbubuwis ng buhay ng mga matatapang sa lahi natin... Anak ng...

Sana nga maging Presidente si Gordon kasi nakakatiyak tayo na mabubugahan ng apoy talaga iyong mga mokong sa gobyerno. Iyon lang.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

This blogger is going to Jolo, Sulu

I don't think I can tell you a lot about who I am going with and why they are going just yet. I have yet to get clearance from a couple of people.

The wife thinks I shouldn't because it might be dangerous but I've told her that I have to because I want to see how a truly NEW peace initiative is going to unfold.

Arlene is reasonably worried for my safety. She was held hostage in Basilan about 7 years ago when she was still with RPN9 and covering Robert Aventajado's attempts to negotiate for the release of Abu Sayyaf hostages.

I cannot contain my excitement, really. I am excited about this peace initiative and I am excited about

In anycase, most news organizations (broadcast and print) are already gearing up for a massive coverage of the Erap Plunder Case promulgation on Wednesday September 12. Being a former TV news guy, I know that this latest development in the Erap Plunder saga will outweigh and outspace all other news items for the next few days or weeks. But really, it is more of an emotional issue for the masses and for the people who have invested political capital in a failed Presidency.

It will be remembered that it was under the Erap Presidency that a total war was declared on the MILF and Abu Sayyaf. People from Mindanao are still smarting from the effects of this declaration. Under Gloria' watch, there were elements of this declaration again but it was termed as an all out offensive and the orders were to serve a warrant of arrest to those who beheaded 14 marines in Basilan. More than war, the people of Mindanao (even those who are not in areas where there is strong military presence) are suffering from a very negative image despite having so much to offer the world.

I think bringing a new solution to conflict in Mindanao demands a little more daring and a little more compassion than we've been used to seeing.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Fruits of Peace

The next time you go to the market or grocery to look for fruit, start asking if they're selling mangosteens, lansones, durian, or what-have-you from Basilan, Sulu or any other area in Mindanao where there is conflict. If the sales clerk or vendor informs you that it is from one of these areas and if there's any reason to believe this is true, buy the fruit -- buy a dozen or a dozen kilos. Buy a whole truckload if you can and give it away. There'll be a very good chance that by just filling your need for fruit you will also find yourself literally investing in peace.

Around two weeks ago, Senator Richard Gordon visited the provinces of Basilan and Sulu. This was just after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced that there would be no let up in the government's fight against terrorism as the country mourned the deaths of the 14 soldiers beheaded in Basilan. Gordon, as Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, went to these provinces on a mission to provide humanitarian aid to those whose lives may be negatively affected by the armed conflict that would ensue -- soldiers, muslim extremists, and ordinary people.

He came back to Manila after his visit and fired away a privilege speech which in its essence called for the entire country to begin changing its approach towards resolving armed conflict in conflict ridden areas all over the country. It is an approach which I think speaks both of daring and compassion.

Here is an excerpt of that privilege speech which I think captures a couple of key ideas:

"In the towns of Indanan and Patikul, we found high school and college students bottling sardines, mangosteen and durian. Everywhere we went, we were being offered bananas, lanzones and other fruits. These produce are very cheap in the province. Mangosteen was selling for 5 to 7 pesos per kilo. And this struck us because we knew that in Metro Manila, mangosteen sells for P100 to P120 per kilo. Imagine if the DTI could help the people of Basilan and Sulu in marketing these products at better prices. This will do so much to provide livelihood and jobs to the two communities and the entire ARMM area..

"One move that could really help the regional economy is for the government to finish the circumferential road in Isabela City in Basilan and other road projects. General Juancho Saban, the marine brigade commander in Basilan, told me that the completion of the circumferential road will have far-reaching impact on provincial life and commerce because people, goods and relief effort can move more quickly from Isabela to isolated towns.This will pave the way for local prosperity because of the increase in the number of rubber trees and the abundant production of lanzones.

"Another program that the people of Basilan and Sulu would greatly welcome is a move by the government to develop the tourism potential of their provinces. There are small islands there that would be attractive for tourism. Initially, this will serve domestic tourism; but eventually when peace is fully established they can serve foreign tourists as well. Signals are very important in tourism and investment promotion.. Under your administration, we never stopped tourism promotion despite the Dos Palmas hostage-taking in Palawan, the bombings in Davao City and Zamboasnga City in order to maintain confidence in our country and our tourism industry. Look at where tourism is now. We are hitting new records in tourist arrivals. This is similar to what Sri Lanka did in the face of rebel attacks that damaged even their main international airport. They did not wait for peace before moving to strengthen and promote their tourism industry. This is exactly what we should be doing now in Basilan and Sulu, two islands that have attractions all their own."

What Gordon is saying is actually the opposite of what has been done over several decades. All these years, places in Mindanao have been referred to as warzones and the tendency was to avoid these areas. As the characterization of these areas as zones of war took root, the people in these areas suffered as a result and that suffering in turn compelled not a few to take up arms against the governemnt. The message from Gordon, if we are really interested in peace, is to begin channeling investments to these areas of conflict and if we are really, really interested in peace, we ought to give it a try – we can begin by buying fruit.

Peace is not merely the absence of conflict but the presence of justice, of opportunities, and of hope for a better future.
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