Philippines: Archdiocese of Manila’s Clergy Statement against the Re-imposition of Death Penalty (04.08.2020)

SONA 2020: Duterte wants to reach Betlehem before December…

Well, I cannot manage to look into all the details of the State of the Nation Address. Like I did two years ago, I will address the Telecommunication. Two years ago he promised to do something about the duopoly of Globe and Smart. However, President Rodrigo Duterte have reached that goal, but for whatever reason. There is still just two companies running the game and the others trying to follow their speed.

So, I will show one quote from last year and show what he said this year.

In SONA 2018 he said this:

My administration remains firm in its resolve to ensure that the country’s telecommunications services are reliable, inexpensive and secure. A draft Terms of Reference for the entry of a new, major industry player is at hand. The terms will be fair, reasonable and comprehensive. It will be inclusive so it will be open to all interested private parties, both foreign and local” (Rodrigo Duterte SONA 2018, 23.07.2018).

This year he said this:

I call on our [telecommunication] companies to improve their services lest we be forced to take drastic steps to address the less-than-ideal service that the public is getting from you. Alam mo sisingit na lang ako dito. I am… Sometimes we are a government pictured to be weak and incompetent because we cannot really force our mandate. Alam mo itong nagbibigay ng mga public services, you better improve” (…) “If it’s just a question of added capitalization or the infusion of money, go and look for it” (…) “we are a republic, a sovereign country, bear that in mind because the patience of the Filipino people is reaching its limit. At I will be the one to articulate the anger of the Filipino people. And you might not want what I intend to do with you. Kindly improve the services before December. I want to call Jesus Christ to Bethlehem. Better have that line cleared. [applause]” (…) “Tell us now if you cannot really improve on it because I will work by December. I have two years. The next two years will be spent improving the telecommunications of this country without you. I will find a way. I will talk to Congress and find a way how to do it. [applause]” (Rodrigo Duterte SONA 2020, 27.07.2020).

However, there been changes to the duopoly, but with no significant results. That why his focus is on the service and how reliable the telecommunication companies are. This shows that there is no magic wand to this and someone cannot just set up shop to elevate the market.

We have seen that DITO and Mislatel, who were both newcomers to the market have no range or capacity. Maybe, not strong enough ability to sway users from the old ones. As the President only mentions the two old companies. It is still a landscape controlled by Globe and Smart. That is why the President is bugging out about their services.

That’s maybe why he wants the two whose already operating to do it better. These have the ability to get away with it. Since, the customers are there and really it is not abundant of choices. They own the market and therefore, they put the standards and the needed work in. However, they don’t need to push it. In some ways they are alone. Since the people have not changed from their old ones or its to costly to become subscriber to the new services.

Globe and Smart can play this one out. I think Globe dropped a statement quickly after the SONA, but that was an act of defence, which is natural in the circumstances. The President talked about calling Bethlehem ahead of Christmas. I’m sure the Holy Spirit will guide him there. Because, I doubt the service will be revolutionized in the months ahead. Peace.

Opinion: The Duterte Administration doesn’t want a free-media, but a gang of YES-MEN!

Today its official the House of Representative has put the nail in the coffin for the renewal of the media house and franchise ABS-CBN. This has been an on-going battle for the media company and its associates. What this does is close radio stations across the Republic and also TV stations. They are deliberately closing one of the strong independent media houses.

ABS-CBN have had the ability to actually bring content of facts. Yes, it has its wrong like everyone does. Everyone who publish, distribute and address news will sooner or later do blunders. What this Presidency is doing is to silence and muffle media houses that dares to question them. Just like Ressa of Rappler, the ABS-CBN is in the same regard. They dared to have provocative ads and such in the campaign ahead of this administration. That’s why this sort of thing is a retaliation, as the Congress is filled with YES-MEN and people blindly loyal to the President. He won the recent mid-term election and has less of opposition to ever stop him. Everyone that oppose get into dire waters and awaiting sharks.

ABS-CBN now is in the same waters. Rappler, which is a small digital operation has survived. Even when the authorities and the state has challenged it at every possible way. Now the media house of ABS-CBN is getting detained and possibly closed because it offended the Don in the previous Presidential Elections.

There is no other way to see this. It is a political retaliation. They can use legal means and spin-it, but that is the end-game. If ABS-CBN had been positive and been less objective, if it had been as friendly as GMA and 24 Oras. They wouldn’t come in this situation. The ABS-CBN is here, because it dares to question the powers to be. It dares to challenge and also go nuts about it. If it didn’t do that and was a only broadcasting what Malacanang and the PCOO wants spread. They are just to copy verbatim and memos without questioning it.

If you do that? Then, your in trouble. Big trouble, possibly either losing your job or getting court-side. The government will figure one way or another to bring you down.

With this in mind. If anyone in the House of Representatives that voted for the closure of ABS-CBN ever speaks of freedom of speech and liberty to express themselves. Than, they got to look in the mirror and remember what they did today. The 70 members should be remember, because they clearly don’t give an rats ass about freedom of expression. They are just loyal lackey’s of Duterte.

This here shows that this administration again doesn’t trust the media to cover their actions. Neither, does it accept them pressing on issues. They are just supposed to dance along with the President and his team. Not supposed to question or speak up. If you do?

You gone go missing and be denied. Just like the ABS-CBN or Rappler who both been under fire. The ones loosing out is the public, the employees and in the end, also the men who stopped ABS-CBN. Unless they want to clap in the same echo-chamber and wants the same psalms to sing from Manila to Davao. They just wants empty-headed tabloids and scripted songs in favour of the administration. These representative don’t want to be questioned or investigated by reports. They want to have empty love like celebrities.

These people want the red-carpet treatment, they want to be kissed and get the love. That’s why they are closing ABS-CBN. To prove a point, but its a flawed point. Only undressing their motives and the message is clear.

If you don’t show us love, we will close you down. Peace.

Opinion: Boris is copying Rodrigo now!

We are living in a weird world and a bizarre timeline in 2020. Just the other day Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to prove his health with push-ups on the floor. At that point he was copying Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. That was all over the front pages of a national newspaper and not a sketch.

Now Prime Minister Johnson is launching his: Build Build Build. He is launching his program of infrastructure spending like this: “ British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out plans to spend the economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis with a speech on Tuesday promising to fast-track 5 billion pounds ($6.15 billion) of infrastructure investment” (News18 – ‘ ‘Build, Build, Build’: UK PM Johnson’s Answer to Covid-19 Downturn’ 30.06.2020).

Also explained by the government like this: “Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today (Tuesday 30th June) announce a “New Deal” which puts jobs and infrastructure at the centre of the government’s economic growth strategy. In a speech in the West Midlands, the Prime Minister will underline his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ in order to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic recovery across the UK” (Gov.uk – ‘‘Build build build’: Prime Minister announces New Deal for Britain’ 30.06.2020).

If you feel you have heard the same before, then read this from the Philippines: “President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration will soon launch the biggest infrastructure push in Philippine history to propel economic growth in the next five-and-a-half years. Big-ticket infrastructure projects, specifically roads and bridges, mass urban transport and alternative green city solutions are among the key investments to be made by the Philippine government. These are aimed at solving the problems brought about by traffic congestion, inadequate mass transport facilities, air pollution, and the lack of healthy, green liveable community spaces. The development mantra is: build, build and build” (Bases Conversation and Development Authority (BCDA) – ‘BUILD, BUILD, BUILD’ 25.10.2017).

So yes, the Prime Minister’s Build Build Build is copying Duterte’s Build! Build! Build! Programme. They are actually doing the same. Boris is copying Rodrigo. It is just like he will steal the paperwork from Manilla and change a few of the places and road-names. Then call it a day and loaf around in his apartartment.

I am impressed that Boris is copying the exact words. Just like he did on the pages saying it was taken inspiration from Roosevelt’s New Deal. That is fine and dandy, but saying Build Build Build after the Philippines has had this program for three years or so now. It is impressive, that he couldn’t mention that too. Give some credit, where credit is due.

I’m sure Manila isn’t the first place coming to mind in London, but they should maybe see what are doing lately. The PM is copying both a Ugandan President and the Philippines. Who is up next? Will he take the Big Four from the Jubilee and Uhuru Kenyatta too?

Johnson should step up and give credit where it is due. Especially, when his copying this easily from Duterte. If you don’t know, now you know. Peace.

Philippines: Statement – Participation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the 36th ASEAN Summit (26.06.2020)

Philippines: Ressa finally pinned by the Authorities

This has been a slow train coming. The Philippine authorities has gone after her since the beginning of the reign of President Rodrigo Duterte. If you thought the ABS-CBN issues was a retaliation from the government towards the press. The same authorities has directly gone after Rappler and Maria Ressa since the start. They have wanted this so bad and found their escape.

Ressa and her online news organization have had issues with Duterte since the campaigning before the election. Duterte Campaign even blocked a Rappler reporter from his campaign. I’m sure plenty has forgotten about that part. So, to me there are clearly merits to the libel against Ressa, but they are not sanctioning the company. The company that they have gone after for its ownership and structure. Just like they have done with ABS-CBN. If you see pattern, I see it too.

That they finally got Ressa was just a matter of time. They got an old article and found some discrepancies and could with this get her detained. That’s because she is challenging the throne without any fear. The way the Rappler and Vera Files are going after the state officials and dropping juicy bombs that interfere with the way they are operating. The state doesn’t want that, but want clapping and cheers from the media houses. They want empty suits and celebrities cheering on and praising the team. This is not what the Rappler does and that’s why its so hard hit.

For the ones following, this was just a matter of time. The authorities have worked hard to pin something on Rappler and Ressa. They have been so on their case, that they have to more careful than anyone else. Whatever they do and whatever they say: It would scrutinized to hell and back. That is why we are here and seeing this happening over an old article from 2012 republished in 2014. It is just so fitting.

Yes, there are merits to the wrongdoing of some statements in the article and allegations towards the Wilfredo Keng. Still this is very fitting that this happens to a CEO and leader of a Media House or Outlet, which publish articles and stories that the government don’t want to have out. That’s why this is happening here and not to government friendly press. They are shielded, even if they could do something similar.

So with this in mind. Duterte and team can celebrate. They finally got one of their targets and possibly detained up to six years. Ressa is a target for who she is and what does. She is maybe not always correct about it. Still, the need for these voices are there. If this was cyber libel and defamation of character. Than, its weird that the article is still online. The one that is the reason for this case.

Now it will be easier to get rid of unfriendly stories. To give way to the ones writing, narrating and documenting wrongdoing by the authorities and the associates. The pork barrels and other schemes can be easier hidden. Since if you might write about it. They can libel your ass and your in the slammer. Instead of revealing a dishonest civil servant or public official, which the media should do. They have the microphone and the platform to undress the kings. However, if they are not allowed to do this. Then there is something wrong with the leadership.

This is worrying, this set a standard for possible criminal cases towards journalists and credited media persons. The saddest part of this is that it happened because of SUV and a Court Justice driving a car. The story on an SUV broke the back and was used a weapon against Rappler. That is how far the state goes now. The same government that are proud of destroying illegally imported vehicles. The ironies couldn’t be more blatant than this. Peace.

Philippines: New Anti-Terrorism Law might have some unfortunate consequences…

That the government of the Philippines wants to strengthen its legislation and its power to contain and control terrorists makes sense. Especially with the recent insurgency in Marawi in Mindanao and the Red Brigade there. The Government is within its right to extend its powers, ensure safety of its territory and rules to stop future insurgencies and terror attacks on the Filipino Nation. That is all understandable, however, they should still consider the implications and what a new law does to freedom of expression, liberty and justice for all. That it doesn’t come in conflict with these ideals.

Some of the things that is striking out in this new anti-terrorist law is that it will create a new legal instrument, a new precedence, where appointed top cabinet officials will have the opportunity to participate and issue arrest orders through the Anti-Terror Council (ATC). Meaning, it is lawmakers and technocrats who are finding whose deemed fit for becoming terror suspect and whose associated with terrorist. This is not done by detective or intelligence officers, no, but appointed cronies of the state. That is worrying enough itself.

That the law also stretches the ability to keep people arrested without warrants and eases the means of wire-tapping, surveillance and such. It is surely done in a sense of safeguarding the public, but at the same time. If the ATC somehow deems someone randomly, they can easily arrest someone in the name of terror, allegedly say they are terrorist without a trial keep someone in custody for about 14 days with a possibility of a 10 day extension.

If a person is really unlucky, let’s say a journalist or an activists. Whose suddenly posting a press release or statement from a questionable organization. That the ATC might deem as Terrorist. Than, the person might be charged with 12 years in prison for helping to distribute illegal material and promoting the organization. Even if the intent was only to inform the public and not get people to participate in terrorism. That is what is also dangerous about this law.

It opens up to wormholes like this and it depends on the powers at the ATC and the agencies of the Philippines to set it out and in order. The ideals are good, the steps are positives, we all should strive to combat and defeat terrorism, in all sorts and fashion. That is fine and dandy. However, this legislation is stretching things far and makes it possible to arrest someone on the hunch and on a limb. When, they might was just posting some random tweets or random Facebook posts. They were not doing it malice or with intent to incite terror, but it was from the wrong group. Therefore, they could get into trouble.

That is my worry here. Many parts of the law is reasonable and makes sense. As a sovereign and as a state, you want to have the ability to surveillance and to gather evidence of possible people who wants to commit these sorts of activities. However, when this law is make it so broad and gives huge powers to Council not made-up of intelligence officers nor law enforcement. That opens up the gates for possible political mind-games, where the political enemies becomes terrorists. Even if the only thing they do is to buy rice and flowers for the people of their Barangay.

I hope this get dealt with positively, but this is passing all parts of the Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate has all agreed upon the articles. It only need the Presidential signature and seal before becoming law. That is why the ATC and whose getting there is important. Because, they will become the Terrorist Hunters and the ones deciding the fate of people. They will be vital in this and have the last word in a way. Peace.

Philippines: Sen. Vincente Sotto III letter to Chairperson Sec. Francisco Duque III (03.06.2020)

Philippines: The levels of quarantines can boggle you mind!

Well, its about that time. Well, it isn’t really… Just another Sunday in quarantine and awaiting the “new normal” or back-to-life. If I may, this is about the news updates and the Omnibus Guidelines on community quarantine from the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Philippines. Which is fine by itself, but it’s sort of flexibility between similar terms can make a brother fuzz a little bit.

Because you have the “General Community Quarantine” for instance. Than you have the Enhanced Community Quarantine”. If you thought it was tricky, no you have the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” and the Modified General Community Quarantine”. Last, but not least of these is the Modified Community Quarantine”

The big one of these is the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) and the GCQ (General Community Quarantine). With the ones in between. A mind can be messed up by less. By all means, these words are in play, because of the variations of spread of COVID-19 and the ratio per capita. However, its still hard to know what all means. Even with the Omnibus Guidelines. Its a hectic mess.

In this sense, there is five quick types of Community Quarantine and to get the grip of that. We all there is levels to this, but just to listen. You could easily get confused. Very few read the whole Omnibus Guidelines and what it entails. It’s like a whole mix of statutes and measures. There isn’t in the guidelines any tables showing the vast difference. They are lined down after each other, but you have to really study it to see the minor differences.

Since, there is so many of them and the way they are mentioned in News Flashes on 24 Oras or other broadcasts. Its hard to follow or even get a grip. It isn’t well explained in a simplified fashion. Its all hectic and bunch of both legal terms and medical terms. Which in the end only confuse a brother even more.

It is easy to understand the basics, but when you blend in five types of quarantine and also has various of types of lockdowns. You just loose the understanding of things. It might been done for the common good, but the reality is that this shouldn’t be this hard.

You should easily know what to do in a quarantine. Whose allowed and what. Who should stay home, who can go to work and who has to close. If schools are open, if factories can remain open or closed. If ports can continue or if people can go to the market for a limited time. If there is a curfew and if they need a paper-stamped for passage through road-blocks. All of that would make sense.

However, when you have so many different terms, so many words and so many types. Its easy to be confused. Get your mind boggled. Especially, if a local mayor changes or Barangay Captain changes from one of those Modified Community Quarantine to a General Community Quarantine. Because, then what happens or is it just paper tigers playing around with words?

The essential thing so be to ensure the stop of the spread of COVID-19. That the public respect the quarantine and that the state delivers it promise of funds to its workers and the public in general. In the time of need. That the ones whose eating to much get called out and the get punished for the punitive damage they do to the other workers. When they are promised thousands of peso’s, but only getting leftovers. That’s not right and the ones eating the pork should be punished.

With this in mind, the variations of quarantine is a maze. You can wonder what does what and even reading the guidelines confuses me. Like I said, it would be nice with a table showing the difference. So its idiot proof. Nothing ever is, but simplifying things is positive. Especially, when you have such a vast lingo of terms. Peace.