Stepping Down

For lack of anything better to say – I have re-posted here Mar Roxas’ concession speech delivered yesterday at Balay (LP Headquarters in Cubao):

Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Sinulat ko po ang nais kong sabihin para wala akong makalimutan:

Gusto ko pong magsimula sa isang taos-pusong pasasalamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na kumaway, nakipagkamay, at kumopkop sa amin ni Leni nang bumisita kami sa inyong mga lugar. Marmaming salamat sa inyo.

Sa mga nagtiwala hindi lang sa akin, pero pati na rin sa mga prinsipyo na ipinaglalaban natin. Maraming-maraming salamat. Sa mga kababayan natin na habang kinakamayan ako, tiningnan ako nang mata sa mata at sinabihang ako ng “God bless you. Ipaglaban mo kami. Huwag mo kaming pababayaan.” Maraming salamat.

Salamat kay Pangulong Noynoy Aquino at sa kanyang pamilya. Sa ating partido, Partido Liberal, at sa kanyang mga kaalyadong partido. Salamat sa mga CSOs, mga NGOs, sa Silent Majority, sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan. Sa lahat sa inyo ng mga volunteers, sa aking pamilya—nandito ang aking misis, si Korina—sa ating mga kaibigan. Sa lahat pong tumayo, to all of you who took up the cudgels, who shared in our aspirations, na nakasama kong tumayo, maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

Araw-araw, kasama ko kayo na humarap sa lahat ng hamon. Alam ko na marami sa inyo, stuck your necks out sa laban na ito. Pero sa kabila ng lahat, hindi kayo bumitaw. Nanindigan kayo. Sinamahan n’yo ako hanggang sa dulo. For that, I am very grateful.

Ngayon, hindi pa tapos ang laban ni Leni. Angat siya, lumalaban siya. Patuloy tayong magbantay, manalig, at sumuporta. Siguraduhin nating mabibilang nang tama ang kanyang boto.

At habang ginagawa natin ito para kay Leni, simulan na natin ang pagbuo sa minamahal nating bansa. Galangin at tanggapin natin ang pasya ng ating mga kababayan. Ayon sa unofficial count ng COMELEC, malinaw na si Mayor Rodrigo Duterte ang magiging susunod na pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas.

Digong, I wish you success. Ang iyong tagumpay ay tagumpay ng ating sambayanan at ng ating bansa.

Mga kababayan, higit pa sa pagiging supporter o kapartido ng kahit sinong kandidato – Pilipino tayo. Maka-Diyos, may pakikitungo, may malasakit sa kapwa, at naniniwalang lahat ng mahahalaga sa buhay ay pinaghihirapan.

Patuloy nating ipaglaban ang mga prinsipyong ito. Ibigay natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para makamit ang ating kolektibong mithiin. Ipakita natin – sa bawat salita, sa bawat gawa, sa bawat kilos natin – ang tunay na diwa ng pagiging Pilipino.

I read somewhere that it is not the battle or the conquest that we remember. But the soldier who stood beside us, na tumutoo sa atin, who we treasure the most. Sa inyong lahat, maraming-maraming salamat. Hindi ko po kayo makakalimutan.

Mga kababayan, isang walang kapantay na karangalan na maging tagapagwagayway ng ating bandila. To have carried our flag. To have fought the good fight. To have kept the faith. To have finished the race.

Maraming-maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

I love you all!

There are many tears in the room. Let me tell you: this is not a time for tears. For our country, we have had a peaceful successful transfer of power. It’s not about me. It’s not about anyone. It’s about how we love our country and how we’ll do all that we can can for her. She’s the only one.

Maraming salamat po.

MAR ROXAS

We have stood and fought hard for him amid the criticisms of friends. We distributed campaign materials. We prayed. We believed.

Well, the country has chosen its leader and I support the winner. I sure hope he turns out the man his supporters believe him to be.

mar-she's the only one

Are we Filipinos still worth dying for?

Elections is over. The most divisive and brutal election season I have ever encountered is finally drawing to a close. Mar Roxas and Grace Poe, the two “closest” rivals to Duterte has conceded defeat.

While I have already prepared myself for a Duterte presidency, I cannot begin to fathom or accept how people can vote for Bongbong Marcos. How easy it is for people to forget the atrocities of Marcos’ regime. How apparently senseless the death of Ninoy Aquino and countless other martyrs have been.

Before I have resigned myself that should Duterte win, I may as well watch him and make sure he does bring the change he claims he will do to our country — the scary violent change he promises. I told myself, I may even consider going to public office – working for the government – in order to watch from within.

But as of late, I have been thinking of a different thing. I am led to believe that it is hopeless and just want to do away with everything. Let go of my nationalistic tendencies and turn my back to actually making a positive change in this country through servant leadership. I have thought about, one day, running for president – even claiming this as my biggest ambition in life. An ambition born not because of greed or hunger for power but because of a real desire to serve the Filipino nation. Call it my highest form of idealism (or should it be idiocy?).

Seeing how brutal the last election was, I am led to question how, an honest public servant, can really withstand the mudslinging and stress of the candidacy. But I can push on had I have more belief in the Filipino nation whom I wish to serve. Sadly, that belief evaporated as I saw more and more people willing to go back to the times of the past.

Will I be selfish if I try to be more pragmatic and choose my family’s well being first? A well-being that I can assure if I go to a first class nation – and in the process – bring them with me too. A place that will offer peace and prosperity albeit far from the native land – a land I am no longer sure of what it is becoming of.

At this point I don’t know what to believe of my countrymen anymore. I am moved to apathy – jaded by the calls to nationalism. How can someone be nationalistic in a land that is divided all on its own?

Have We Lost Hope As A Nation?

With the Presidential elections just around the corner, everyone seems to have made up their mind who to vote. I have declared my choice of Mar Roxas as President and I am a known supporter of Leni Robredo since the beginning so my choice is clear.

But there are still undecideds among our midst that I try to campaign (convince) with my choice. Not that I want to impose my choice on them but that I want them to also go through the same process of rationalization I did for their choice.

The same rationalization process I push with those who’ve made up their mind also.

I simply begin by asking the innocent question of Why him (or her)? and follow up the answers with supplementary questions.

While some have been accommodating in answering my thought provoking questions even if it leads them to dead ends they can’t answer, others simply gave up at the first instance. But the saddest – and for me the worst answer I’ve received – is a declaration of hopelessness for the country.

I was dismayed when I heard that even with the elections coming up, nothing changes. It’s all just the same. The powerful stay in power, the rich becomes richer, the poor gets poorer, etc. Better go to another country. There’s no hope for change here.

I cringe at the lack of ownership. The lack of nationalistic spirit. We may all agree to disagree on our choice for president but to claim that whatever happens, whoever we vote for, nothing will change is tantamount to saying our democracy has failed us.

This lack of hope will be the downfall of our nation for we have resigned ourselves to the perceived lie that nothing can be done about the woes of our country.

But there is hope. Change is already happening. Let us not be blind to it. Let us not wash our hands of it. Change is happening – and we are part of that change.

My Choice for President

As I promised myself, when 2016 kicks in, I will finally make up my mind who to vote for in May 2016.

Some may argue that I have known who to vote for and that I’ve been a vocal supporter of Mar Roxas even when he hadn’t officially stated his bid for Presidency but the truth is I have considered, seriously, voting for Duterte after I saw the personal accounts of friends who have experienced his leadership and after I saw the horror of Mar’s PR and his shortcomings.

Let’s be honest. Mar isn’t the perfect candidate. He has his faults – and they are many. It doesn’t help that the media glorifies such faults. But for all his faults, he also has his strengths and it’s sad that his strengths are not spectacular enough for the media to feature. As I read in Facebook, Mar is like your quiet and boring suitor. You know he’s right for he can deliver but there’s just no excitement with him.

When Duterte was rumored to be running for Presidency, I gave him no thought. I am aware of his tendency for violence and for me, it was a no-brainer. I wasn’t going to vote for a violent man. But as the months passed by and as the drama unfolded of his eventual consent to run for president, I began to consider that perhaps this guy was really the solution our country needed. As I read in a blog, Mar is an excellent driver – of a brand new automatic car. Duterte is a great driver of a pugak pugak second-hand car. And right now, the Philippines is that pugak pugak second-hand car.

I began to believe that our country is alright investment wise. PNoy’s administration has done a pretty good job getting investors into the country and with all the increase in credit ratings and the success of the APEC summit, investors are more likely to come knocking at our doors. What our country needs now is an iron-hand who can forge the security we badly need. Someone who can eliminate crime (or reduce it drastically) and who can make everyone feel safe and secure.

I believed that the solution was Duterte. All the personal anecdotes of friends from Davao and the rational posts they shared convinced me of such. It didn’t help that Mar started a series of bad PR stunts which seriously called his credibility into question.

However, I was hesitant to make my change of heart known publicly. Having a lot of friends part and campaigning for the Liberal Party made me hesitant to declare that I’ve had a change of affiliation. I’ve always been Liberal in my political views. In my opinion, our country needs to have the same party system as the US – one wherein we only vote between two parties: the Republicans (deemed conservatives) and the Democrats (deemed liberals).

So I went to Davao. I experienced the city first hand and observed what everyone was raving about. While it’s true that everyone there loved Duterte and that the man did live in a very simple abode, I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t what I expected. Well, I did expect a lot – all those stories made me think of a city like Singapore. Well, it wasn’t. There’s traffic – bad traffic. My friend said traffic lights have auto sensors so they can detect if there are really cars passing along and can adjust as necessary. I went out in the dead of the night and tried to observe it and what happened was I got confused when I can actually legally cross the street. Perhaps the lights worked as claimed, I just didn’t see it. But the city was deadly serious about their No Smoking rule. The warning signs were everywhere. My friend had to smoke – in secret – lest he run the risk of paying a hefty P10k fine.

The biggest issue was security. The city did felt secure. And in fact was very clean – no trash anywhere. The street sweepers were doing a good job. People were friendly – the taxi driver was fair and was very hospitable knowing we were newbies in the area.

It was a good city – something I even considered living in for perhaps a month or two. And I left with the distinct feeling that I’ll be voting for Duterte.

But experiencing Davao was not just the deciding factor for me. As the days passed, I got to know Rody Duterte better.

While I find his accomplishments amazing as well as his reputation untainted with corruption admirable, I still had qualms about his character. The recent brawls with Mar over Mar’s Wharton degree, his cursing the pope even in jest and his overall lack of diplomatic skills  (in my opinion) evidenced by his foul language makes me rethink if I do want him as my president.

The presidency is a serious post. It is way different than running a city, no matter how big that city may be. I have come to respect the position and to understand that no matter how hard you try there will always be compromise along the way. I have come to accept that no president can be perfect. He or she simply cannot please everybody.

What we need is a president who can deliver. Someone who can weigh his options and choose the one that’s best for the country, even if others criticize him or don’t agree. We need someone who’ll not be afraid to make unpopular and even boring decisions.

I like what President Obama said in this video when he was asked what question he would like to ask his successor.

Just as Obama said that the US is not a country ran in fear or cynicism, I would like to think of the Philippines as the same. Duterte supporters argue that he wouldn’t re-instate Martial Law but this post made me think otherwise. I began to feel that much as we want  the kind of iron leadership Duterte implemented in Davao, it is not the kind of leadership that the country needs. His brand of leadership may indeed work for Davao but I highly doubt it will work for the entire country – not with dire consequences.

I have no doubt that Duterte is not going after the presidency for the glitz and glamour of it. Just as I have no doubt that Mar is after the position because he really wants to serve his country and carry on the legacy of his father and grandfather. I have no doubt that both have clean intentions for wanting to run for the position (unlike Binay whose sincerity of serving the people I highly contest).

My question now becomes: who of the two do I see is fit to represent our country better?

In my opinion, Mar remains the better choice. In the end, I still chose him. (First lover never dies :D).

Why Mar? Simply because despite his shortcomings, I still believe that of all the presidential aspirants, he is the most qualified on the basis of what he can do in the diplomatic arena. For me, the number one job of the president – among his many jobs – is to make sure our country looks good in front of investors. That our country remains a viable choice for investments. Mar, being the economist he is, and having that advantage of being from the current administration (whose performance I am clearly satisfied) is the best option there is.

I am not saying Rody Duterte couldn’t do what Mar can do. It’s just that I believe Mar can do it better.

I don’t doubt that Duterte or Mar can deliver. They both can. Both are also flawed. They’re not perfect. For me, it’s just a question of whose flaws I can accept better.

I know Mar is not perfect. Just as PNoy was not perfect. But I know he can deliver. People may not understand what he is delivering – just as the masses didn’t understood what PNoy delivered but for those of us who can see it, or who can understand, we can’t deny that PNoy did something right. And that Mar is the best one who can continue it.

Like when I voted for PNoy last 2010, I also had doubts if he’ll make a good president. There were counts against him like how he was just riding the fame of his mother and how he really haven’t accomplished much in his stint in the Congress. But then I had to trust my own instinct that of all the candidates presented, PNoy had the better potential. This time, it’s Mar who have the better potential.

What about Duterte? He’ll make a good DOJ Secretary. I hope he considers joining Mar’s administration should Mar win and Mar reconsider him for the post. If only they could work together, for the good of this country, then I believe we are in better hands than the previous administrations combined.

But with all this talk and thinking of whether I’ll go for Mar or Duterte, I fear that in the end Binay would win. He tops the surveys – even after all the allegations of corruption and his tainted name. Let’s admit. A vast majority of voters are the CDE and for them, Binay is a hero. He probably goes around the countryside telling them he can turn their little towns into a replica of Makati.

I don’t know what 2016 Presidential Elections hold for our country. Surveys say that the race is getting tight. But one thing I won’t do is NOT vote. I won’t give up this right and responsibility. Even if Mar doesn’t win, I will still rest easy that at least I did my part in making my country a little bit better.

presidentials
Top Presidentiables 2016 | Source: Boom San Agustin FB Page

Oras Na! Roxas Na!

Since he became Mr. Palengke up until he stepped down to be PNoy’s running mate instead of LP’s Presidential Standard Bearer, I have supported Mar Roxas. To me, he is the logical choice to run the country. He came from a decent political family where all his relatives have served the country well without a hint of doubt to their integrity. He has worked diligently under the administrations who assigned him government posts and he has delivered what he’s supposed to do.

I know he is not perfect. There are times when he bungled up. Every time his PR team would come up with some cheesy campaign that will make him a laughing stock in social media I will cringe internally. I agree with them that the gimmicks are cheap but I disagree with the purported notion that Mar is not a viable choice for leadership.

When he was running for President during the 2010 Presidential Race, I was all out to support him. But when LP decided suddenly to switch to PNoy as their standard bearer, my heart went out to Mar when he decided to step down. I cannot forget what he said that day:

“Ito na ang pinakamabigat na desisyon sa buhay ko. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, ginagawa ko ito para sa bayan, para sa inyo. I do this for unity in support of change. And if that means that somebody must make the sacrifice, it must be me. Ako na,”

Mar Roxas, Aug. 1, 2009, Club Filipino

Now, we come full circle. After 6 successful years where Noynoy Aquino has successfully started the fight against corruption and began the positive change in our country, he is now announcing his successor. And this time, it is Mar.

Whereas in 2010, Mar began campaigning early, this 2016 he announced his Presidential ambitions last. He worked patiently, diligently and quietly with every responsibility assigned to him. Most of them even put him into bad light with the public who cannot comprehend how hard a position he holds. But he moved on, never once complaining.

This article summarizes beautifully why Mar Roxas is a game-changer; why he is the most rational choice for President after PNoy.

Grace Poe is a nice candidate. She’s a breath of fresh air since she’s not from a traditional political family. However, her experiences and capability to run the country is something debatable. Presidency is not just any ordinary position as I can see now. It involves a lot of other factors and winning it is certainly not as simple as it may seem.

Duterte is a popular choice because of his notorious reforms in Davao City but running a local unit is different from running a national unit. Besides, it would take more than social media to win the elections.

Who else? I totally agree with anyone who says Binay should not be President. Anyone who acts the way he does is someone who doesn’t deserve our vote. His pre-campaigns and his recent antics clearly smells of someone who is up to no good once he assumes office. Someone who tries really hard to secure his victory – to the extent of even leaving his Cabinet pose – is someone I will never trust in a million lifetimes.

Mar Roxas is the logical and most viable option we have. I hope Filipinos will start thinking rationally and strategically. Other candidates may be good but they need to have political allies, enough connections here and abroad, enough resources, and enough experience to be able to implement the changes that our country needs.

Roxas may have had his blunders but at the end of the day, he’s still the best option we got.

I am not ashamed to campaign for him for I believe in what he can do. And I believe we have no better alternative.

With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.
With Mar Roxas. Taken circa 2009 during the launch of GRF 50th Anniversary.

Related:

Mar Roxas: The Long Road to Endorsement by Rappler

Mar Roxas posts in this blog – because I’ve discovered that I’ve consistently written about him

Well Done PNoy! – Thoughts on SONA 2015

It may not be the best presidential term. It may have been riddled with criticisms and missed opportunities, but, for the most part, it was a good term.

Having lived through 5 presidents (Cory, Ramos, Erap, Gloria and PNoy), PNoy’s term is, by far, the best. He was able to accomplish more than all the 4 past presidents combined. It took 5 presidential terms to finally curb the adverse effects of Marcos’ dictatorship. After the Martial Law, we have spiralled downwards as the poverty of our country was slowly exposed. Corruption remained rampant and people, despite the nationalistic spirit during EDSA Revolution, remained apathetic and impassive – already disillusioned with the state of our government.

I recall how we, as the youth, were constantly urged to be more aware of political affairs; to care more for the country and who we vote and what reforms took place. Yet I will hear many in my generation simply refuse to care, choosing instead to dream of going abroad towards greener pastures. They long to take courses that will secure them a work abroad. Many became nurses and left the country.

But the case is different now. I see more of my generation becoming aware of the current state of our nation. I see more people beginning to care.

And this is because PNoy has given us hope. Hope that there could be a better Philippines.

He has shown us that good governance is possible. That it is possible to rise up in the middle of corruption, criticisms and dissents. He has inspired us that a TUWID NA DAAN is possible.

Oh yes he is not perfect. Yes he has his lapses. There are many things that could have been better. Yolanda and Mampasanao are his recent blunders. But for every blunder he made, there are many other praiseworthy items worth noting. The improved credit ratings due to increased trust by investors, the number of PPP projects which totaled to 50 vs the 6 in the past 3 administrations and the K-12 Program which to me, when given the chance, will put our education at par with the world’s standards (after all, before K-12 we are one of the only two nations not implementing K-12).

He knew it will be a tough job to lead this country coming from the blunders of the past administrations. But he still took the challenge. I can recall how he ascended to presidency right after his mother died. He must have been in grief still at that time when he took on the challenge. It was Mar Roxas who was supposed to be LP’s bet for President. I was all geared to support Mar. But the sudden turn of events saw Noynoy running for President.

I voted for him. And I was not disappointed.

There are many things I still wish would happen like the passage of the FOI Bill but six years is indeed a short time to implement all the good things the country needs. I also know that sometimes, in the pursuit of goodness, there would be certain decisions that will make you unpopular. Decisions that for now, the public may not understand, but when the right time comes everything will be made clear.

PNoy’s term is coming to an end. But his projects and what he accomplished will remain for long. The 2016 Elections is just around the bend. At this point, we should all be diligently doing our research on who the rightful candidates should be.

Instead of criticizing, let us think of solutions. And then determine who’s the leader who can best implement them.

We cannot expect perfection but we should demand excellence. And our next leader should be someone who will do his best – whatever it takes – to serve the country, and not himself.

Indeed you did Mr. President. You did.  -PNoy quoting 2 Tim 4:7
Indeed you did Mr. President. You did.
-PNoy quoting 2 Tim 4:7

Related Articles from around my blog:

PNOY: Lonely at the Top?

Where is PNoy?

Related Articles from around the web:

Aquino’s Legacy: His Final SONA by CNN Philipipnes

SONA 2015: Legacies and Missed Opportunities by Rappler

Full Text of SONA 2015 in English (courtesy of Rappler)

Great Insights of Friends working with the PNoy Administration

aika raffy

The Peace in Mindanao

This morning, during my usual commute to the office, I heard the radio commentator discussing the current situation in Mindanao. With the recent tragedy involving the SAF Elite Unit, it appears the peace process is compromised – possibly altogether abandoned.

He said that before we all rush into emotionally charged decisions, we should consider first all factors involved – rationally. The peace process gave hope to our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao. Not the rebels, but the civilians. Civilans who have become too scared to seek means of livelihood. Innocent children who have become too scared to go to school. Thousand of innocent Filipinos, caught in the crossfire between the government and the rebels. They are the ones for whom the peace process is for.

And with the recent skirmish, abandoning talks of peace process all over again, is akin to dashing that single shred of hope to bits and pieces. A shred of hope that for years they haven’t even the slightest idea was possible.

While it is true that we must grieve and mourn the fate of the Fallen 44, that we must sympathize with the families who have lost them, we should not let ourselves be consumed with our emotions to forego all rational thinking. After all, these brave men died for the very same thing many wants to abandon – peace.

The Bangsamoro Issue, these peace talks and peace process with Mindanao, these are all issues that I have heard over and over again. Back in college, I gained a better understanding about the Bangsamoro and their plight. I gained friends who were residents of Mindanao, proud to be so, and longing to see peace in their land. I know they deserve it. Like us, who fight for our basic rights, these people also deserve the most basic right anyone can get – peace.

With the recent momentum in the peace process, I shared their glimmer of hope. That finally, after so many years, peace will come to Mindanao. It was a shock when the masacre happened. It was a shock even more when people reacted so strongly to the point that they wanted to abandon the peace process. I even read some hate messages to simply wipe out the rebels.

It made me wonder: are we still humans? Are we still capable of love? forgiveness? peace? even in the midst of tragedy? Yes, it was a loss. But it was not just a loss on the military (or police’s) side. There was also lost in the MILF side. There were civilan casualties as well. But as a friend from Mindanao put it, why would the media care? Why would people care? The Fallen 44 were the glorious heroes. The fallen MILF were the bad guys. The fallen civilians were the extras.

War is a lose-lose situation. Each side will suffer. One side may win but at the expense of what? The best course is to really forge peace. Peace is a noble thing to aspire for. It will not come without a cost; without challenges. But we must hold on. We must desire it and fight for it to not deterioate.

What can we do? We can do the most powerful thing we can. PRAY. Pray for our leaders. Pray for the people in power who have the ability to move things. Pray that peace really happens this time. Pray for healing in the hearts of those who grieve. Those who are angry. Those who are ignorant. Prayer can do wonders. It is time we do our part.

From Miriam to the Filipino Pride

Miriam Defensor-Santiago has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

When an officemate made the announcement at work, I was skeptical. I haven’t followed the news ever since I decided to lead a more positive lifestyle so I didn’t know if what he was saying is anywhere near the truth. But as it turns out – it is true. She has cancer.

Surprising. She didn’t struck me as someone who was ill – she is always full of vitality in giving her speeches. But it was noted that she had the most number of absences during senate plenary – something I think she wouldn’t want to happen had she been healthy since she is always the workaholic type.

Many are left aghast that such a strong woman as Miriam Santiago would fall prey to the traps of cancer. She remains strong none the less, positive that modern science can help save her from this much dreaded disease.

This piece of news has led to a series of serious albeit enlightening conversation at the office. If before all we talked about were funny, often times silly, jokes to help alleviate the daily grind; this afternoon, after knowledge of Sen. Miriam’s condition, things took a more serious – though with the trademark fun – twist.

It began when people started impressing their disappointment that Sen. Miriam would have been a great president – if she chooses to run which they said she will if she survives this. Then quickly spiraled to who should have been the best bet in 2010 and who now deserves the throne in 2016.

Photo By Christian Mac Juane (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo By Christian Mac Juane (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Soon people were hinting that we should have retained being Spain’s colony or that we are better off being a US State.

Most agreed that our government is so corrupt, it is beyond salvation and no matter how clean or seemingly incorruptible someone who assumes office is, eventually that person will be corrupted by the system.

It was generally very disconcerting. Seeing the animosity and negativity that has branded our current system. There was a general belief that if Filipinos would be more educated about their votes and would take a more active stance on determining their future then perhaps things would change. But this is equally rebutted by the fact that out of sheer poverty – Filipinos would simply choose what would fill their hungry stomachs in the short run that what would feed their future generations in the long run.

It was disheartening seeing their jaded beliefs – in the people at office, in the government system and in the general capability of Filipinos as a whole. Even the whole concept of Filipino pride and unity was put into question seeing as never had it really happened in history where Filipinos were 100% united. Not during the uprisings against foreign oppressors or the civil revolts against scrupulous domestic leaders.

Personally, I like to believe that there remains HOPE in the Philippines. That we shouldn’t remain jaded that all politicians are corrupt or that our government system would forever remain as such – a serial corruptor of innocents. I would like to think that as a nation we can become prosperous and compete with the likes of other developed nation. That as Filipinos we have the capacity to become at par with our Asian counterparts – Singapore and South Korea.

If only we would learn our lessons. If only we would heed the words of the wise men before us. Then perhaps, tides will turn and it will be us who will experience becoming a wealthy and prosperous nation.

I would like to believe that the recent economic highs – credit rating upgrades, investor all-time high confidence, etc. are signs that the Philippines has got what it takes to win – and emerge on top.

Yet this will never happen without a collective understanding and agreement that we, as a nation, are destined for greatness. If we all just fall to the trap that we would remain a poor and corrupt nation – chances are we will. Chances are, the opportunity to become great, will surpass our generation.

South Korea, from a land torn from civil war, rose up to become a bustling economy and developed country in just the span of a generation. The Philippines at one point was far richer than this Eastern Asian country yet now Filipinos are idolizing them – their dramas, songs, actors, even food and fashion sense.

What did they have that we clearly lack? Simple. Nationalism. South Koreans were very much in love with their identity. They knew that the best way to rise up the ashes was to embrace their own culture like no other. And so they did. And so they prospered.

What about us Filipinos? What do we do? We claim we are freed from our oppressors. We claim we have achieved our independence – our freedom. But truth is, we are slaves. We remain slaves to other cultures, slaves to commercialism, slaves to promises of greener pastures.

Look at us. We emulate Western culture. We emulate Eastern culture. We EMULATE. We haven’t spent the time seeking our own and creating our own. We remain content with being a hodgepodge of culture. No – an imitator of cultures. It would have been better if we were a hodgepodge and out of that hodgepodge something unique and entirely our own emerges. But no, we choose to imitate.

We have a rich and diverse culture. Yet instead of patronizing our traditional kulintang and kumintang music, we opt to listen to K-Pop. Instead of choosing to create worthwhile dramas glorifying our own culture and rich history, we choose to create re-runs or air Korean dramas or patronize Western series.

Even our language – our mother tongue ceases to be a symbol and a banner of our identity as Filipinos.

I do not claim to be innocent of these charges. I, too, remain a fan of other cultures. Even embracing a foreign tongue as if my mother tongue. But yet, awareness leads to change or at least the effort to find a solution.

I sincerely hope and pray that time will come things will change for our country. Impossible as it may seem, I still believe impossible is merely not knowing what is possible. We do not know what will happen until we sincerely believe, hope and make the impossible possible.

Increase in Credit Rating but Decrease in Net Satisfaction?

Earlier this month, Moody’s Investor Services, one of the major credit ratings along with Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, upgraded the Philippine’s credit rating from Ba1 (below investment grade) to Baa3 (initial investment grade). This means that more investors will be encouraged to invest in our economy thus subsequently resulting to a better standard of living for everyone.

Of course, this is more complicated than that. But based on this article, the effects of the upgrade will first be felt by major corporations the likes of SM and Ayala whose net incomes will increase which would allow them to create more jobs, give better salaries and offer more competitive prices. The end result will be a more sustainable life for the common Juan. However, it may take years before the ordinary Pinoy, who is at the end of the “food chain”, can experience the ripple effect caused by the credit rating upgrade.

But why did Moody, Fitch and S&P gave credit upgrades to the Philippines? Reasons most common cited for this increase in investor’s confidence are the better fiscal management by the government which resulted to high GDP rates, low debt to GDP ratios and well anchored CPI inflation levels. If the economic reports are to be our basis, it would seem that Pres. Aquino is doing something right in his administration.

However, as of last week, Pres. Aquino’s net satisfaction rating dips to 15 points according to a recent SWS survey. Why the dip when the Philippine economy appears to be in an upward trend?

The public’s outrage over the pork barrel scam and Aquino’s apparent indecision towards the abolition of PDAF aka pork barrel is blamed to be the cause of most of the public’s outrage. The ratings are further aggravated by the DAP issue.

Apparently, despite the promising outlook for the country’s economy, there remains to be a gap between the public’s perception of the Aquino administration’s efforts in improving our economic status and in managing the levels of political corruption.

However, if I were to be asked, despite the issue over the pork barrel scam, I remain satisfied with Aquino’s governance of our country. The three credit rating upgrades we received from major credit rating companies are a testament to the confidence of investors in our economy which they wouldn’t have if they saw that the present government is unable to resolve the long curse of corruption plaguing our country. I believe that the Aquino administration’s staunch stand towards the “tuwid na daan” has paved the way for the exposure of the pork barrel scam and other scams involving high-level public officials. I believe that it is because of this exposés that has made investors see how serious the present administration is in pursuing corrupt officials. As such, even if all of the scandals seem to make our country look bad, it actually raises investors’ confidence in doing business with our market.

But I understand how the current corruption exposés would elicit anger from the public. Being a taxpayer myself, I can’t begin to imagine how people like Napoles can take it in their conscience to spend vulgarly public funds which are from the hard-earned money of every taxpayer and deprive the really needy citizens who would have benefited from the proceeds of the government funds they amassed for themselves.

At the end of the day though, I think, it all boils down to a question of what the common masses have felt and experienced first hand? Are they experiencing the effects of the credit rating upgrade? I doubt if the high prices of commodities and the sub-par salaries are to be considered. Are they experiencing the effects of corrupted funds? I believe so if we take a look at substandard government projects and the high incidence of poverty level in the country.

The credit rating upgrade’s effects will be felt years from now but the effects of corrupted public funds are apparent in our daily lives. Hence, the decrease in Aquino’s net satisfaction rating despite the increase in our credit rating.

Sue Me! (A Cybercrime Law Post)

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Today, a TRO or temporary restraining order was issued against the enactment of the entire Cybercrime Law. Although it is only good for 120 days, it is better than nothing in this fight for online democracy.

Even though the country heavily needs a law that will preserve order in the online universe, a lot of criticisms were thrown against this highly controversial law. Not because the public is against such a law but because the very manner by which it was crafted failed to fully give justice to the intended beneficiaries.

 

The Need for A Cybercrime Law

So why do we need a Cybercrime Law?

Simply because the Internet has a become a world of its own where it is now possible for people to transact business, become educated, gain new friends, entertain others and be entertained, connect with social networks, find love and many other things that we usually do in a real non-virtual universe. As such, since the Internet now functions as an alternate universe for many, it has also become another avenue for crime such as cybersex, cyber bullying, identity theft, piracy, hacking and many others.

Although these crimes are done virtually and not directly against a person, their impact are still the same, if not all the more grave. A cyber bullied individual suffers greater damage than someone physically bullied since his bullying might transcend not just the physical confines of where he is currently located but the great expanse of the world-wide web. Take for example the case of Chris Lao, a relatively obscure individual who became famous overnight for a mishap he was involved with which others made fun of. It was an injustice to the guy for which he suffered grave emotional and reputation damages.

Again there are cases of maltreated women like those whose private sex tapes inadvertently make their way to the Internet for public consumption. Take for example the case of Katrina Halili and the many other women who were once lovers of Hayden Kho.

There are also those whose identities become compromised by unscrupulous individuals such as the cases of posers – people who steal someone else’s identity and behave in a totally compromising way online.

The list of internet crimes goes on and on. And admittedly, here in the country, there are almost zero law which governs online use. Of course there are laws which would punish the perpetrators described above but these laws pertain more to the real world and have very little understanding or scope on the virtual world.

 

The Philippine Cybercrime Law

So here comes the Cybercrime Law- a law attempting to give justice to the victims of online crimes. In itself, the law is good. The law seemed to cover all aspects. There was a provision for cyber bullies, cyber sex offenders, identity thieves, hackers and everyone else who might find a way to commit a crime online. The law was inclusive.

Yet there seems to be a problem.

Various online articles discussed how, to the trained eye, the law is poorly written. To us who were not educated to understand legal jargon, the law can be very persuasive. But leave it to the experts to dissect it further and expose the many loopholes in the law. If the loopholes exist, what guarantee then do we have that the law would stand trial and be able to prosecute those who are guilty?

 

The Public Reacts to the Law

When the law was passed, it met various protests. Many claimed it was a move to silence democracy in our country. Coincidentally, the law was passed at around the same time the entire nation was remembering the declaration of Martial Law. Many thus associated the act as a declaration of cyber martial law. The day the law was made to take effect, social media erupted in protest as thousands changed their profile pictures in various sites to a plain black photo while others shared photos condemning the said law.

A lot started to fear for their lives while others challenged the government to put them behind bars claiming that there are not enough prison cells in the country to house them. Although most made their threats in jest, there was an underlying seriousness in everyone’s tone.

To date, fifteen (15) petitions against the law were filed in the Supreme Court resulting to a TRO unanimously issued today.

Continue reading “Sue Me! (A Cybercrime Law Post)”