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Bloody Tuesday

March 16th, 2005 1 comment

The seige in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan started as what was alleged to be an attempted jailbreak by some members of the Abu Sayyaf Group that went awry. Leaders of the failed jailbreak instead decided to hold out by taking seige of the area where Abu Sayyaf inmates were confined.

Yesterday the Camp Bagong Diwa prison uprising came to a bloody end. After an impasse in the negotiations, the PNP with the approval of Malacanang decided to assault the area where the Abu Sayyaf were taking hold. After the smoke cleared 23 people were dead; 1 police officer and 22 inmates. All in all the total casualty has reached 26, including the three prison guards killed at the start of the seige.

The Government hailed the PNP assault a success. DILG Secretary Angelo Reyes is quick to say “I hope this delivers a strong message that anybody who tries to do something like this in the future will be dealt with in the same fashion.” Even some media covering the seige drama joined the triumphant chorus.

I don’t sympathize with the Abu Sayyaf Group. It is a criminal terrorist gang deserving condemnation. But while it is correct to resolve the ASG prison uprising, I have doubts about the correctness of how the crisis was resolved. Is the use of excessive force justified?

What made the government decide for the assault is already beyond my knowledge. But my inkling is to consider other possibilities that might have led to the peaceful resolution of the crisis or at least minimize casualty. The rebels are stuck inside the prison building armed with only a few handguns and with no water and food supply. They are surrounded and have nowhere to go. The longer the rebels bide time the more it is disadvantageous for them. In this situation subduing them with minimal force might be plausible.

And what about the other inmates? A lot of them might not be supporters of the rebel’s cause after all. They were just in the wrong place at a wrong time. Besides the identified ringleaders, Kosovo, Global and Commander Robot, the rest of those who persihed with them were just suspected ASG members or supporters still waiting for their day in court.

For many the important thing is that the crisis was put in conclusion. And the lamest excuse for the carnage would be that those inmates deserved it because they’re all criminals anyway. Due process and giving every criminal or a suspect his day in court is one way of defining justice. Shortcutting this process and sending a criminal or a suspect straight to his creator is one way of defining summary execution.

Lastly, until now I still have doubts about why and how the Abu Sayyaf Group existed. Amidst all the theories and mystery about the Abu Sayyaf, there’s one thing that is certain. The existence of the ASG is one reason why the United States made the Philippines one of its favored allies in its crusade against global terrorism.

BANAL NA ASO!

March 13th, 2005 6 comments

I couldn’t help but feel aghast at the statement issued by a certain Bishop Christian Noel, a bishop of the Catholic church in Bohol, about the food poisoning tragedy that killed more than 25 children. Without deference to the grieving families, the Bishop has linked the Government’s policy on population and information campaign on reproductive health to the death of the innocent children by equating the tragedy as God’s message. A punishment of God to us for allowing such policy in Government. The bishop believes the tragedy is a sign from God telling Catholics that if they go against the framework of the moral law and His commandments,” then something will happen to us.” (manilastandardonline)

Such a cruel God that Bishop has! A God that kills innocent children just to drive a point. The Catholic church must be thinking that her bishop is correct which is why it is keeping mum on his callous statement. The Catholic Church is promoting the natural method of population control. Perhaps the good Bishop was thinking that the death of more than 25 children in Bohol is one of those natural methods.

The Philippines has earned the moniker “the sick man of Asia”. Such a caricature is fitting not only to describe our moribund economy but moreso because the Philippines is full of sick minds–a sickness that is institutionalized not by the Mandaluyong Center for Mental Health but by the established estates of our society. I can just imagine the legion of the faithful agreeing 100% with the Bishop’s twisted analogy. The same agreement the faithful, especially the COMELEC did in believing Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s pronouncement that she asked God’s opinion to run again as President. They agreed with her and they made sure she won. The same agreement we gave to Cardinal Sin when twice he called the faithful to EDSA, only to preserve a corrupt and decadent government.

We get sicker everyday because of the daily doses of hypocrisy we get from both the Government and the Church. The Government maintains the moraturium on death penalty not because it is against sending criminals to kingdom come (Government would love to exterminate all criminals, both real and imagined) but because the Government just wants to please the Church. The Government pushes with its population control policy while the Church resists it. The Church declares it’s approval to get financial support from gambling lords while the Government steps up its drive against illegal gambling. The Government in order to remain in power wants to use the Church because of its following. The Church in order to maintain its relevance wants to use the Government because of its power. Strange bedfellows indeed but good tango partners.

Bishop Christian Noel’s “wrath of God” analysis might stand correct not only to the institutional Catholic Church but also to the hundred and one religious groups in the Philippines. I would agree with them 100% if only that same “wrath of God” falls upon the Congress and Senate, Malacanang, all corrupt officials, illegal loggers, drug lords, gambling lords, and themselves. Only then shall I believe.

I have nothing against God. It’s His fans clubs, in all its varieties, that I detest most.

MAKE POVERTY HISTORY

February 19th, 2005 Comments off

I just got this white campaign band from the www.makepovertyhistory.org. This is a campaign by UK based organizations and individuals with the following goals:

THE CRUCIAL PART. WHAT WE ARE ASKING FOR.

In 9 words… TRADE JUSTICE. DROP THE DEBT. MORE AND BETTER AID.

The gap between the worlds’s rich and poor has never been wider. Malnutrition, AIDS, conflict and illiteracy are a daily reality for millions.

But it isn’t chance or bad luck that keeps people trapped in bitter, unrelenting poverty. It’s man-made factors like a glaringly unjust global trade system, a debt burden so great that it suffocates any chance of recovery and insufficient and ineffective aid .

It doesn’t have to be this way though.

In fact, back in 2001 the governments of the eight wealthiest nations on the planet said that they were going to do something about it – in what was seen as a breakthrough, they promised to halve world poverty by 2015.

Four years later the world is failing dismally to reach those targets.

But we have been given another, maybe even a final chance – 2005.

This year offers a truly exceptional set of opportunities for the UK to take a lead internationally and say that enough is enough.

With the UK hosting the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in February and the G8 gathering of powerful world leaders as well as holding the presidency of the European Union (EU), our Government and particularly Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, will be influential players on the world stage – we must make sure they play their part.

They have the power and we can make them use it.


I’m counting myself in to this campaign. I hope you do too. With our solidarity a new and better world is possible. YA BASTA!

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