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Difficult, but not impossible * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Difficult, but not impossible

In 1986 the Republic of Nicaragua filed a complaint against the United States before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ ruled that the US violated international law by supporting the Contras mercenaries trained and funded by the US, in its attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government which had gained power in that country by toppling the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship. Somoza’s family had ruled Nicaragua from 1937 to 1979 with US support, but a popular uprising led by the socialist Sandinista movement overthrew the corrupt dictatorship in 1979. The…

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Great leap backward * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Great leap backward

The series of killings of individuals who were supposedly trading in illegal drugs or who were drug users (we have only the Philippine National Police’s word for it) has “extrajudicial” written all over it in the sense of these killings’ being planned and deliberate. Since Day One it has been more than obvious that the raids on poor communities which inevitably result in at least one death — although on average since May 10, four are being killed per day all over the country — are not meant to take…

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Progressive and conservative * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Progressive and conservative

It’s not so much his liberal use of profanity that separates Rodrigo R. Duterte from his predecessors, but the residency in his person of both progressive and conservative tendencies. No other Philippine president can be so described. Benigno S. C. Aquino III, for all his lip service to change, was a closet conservative whose main focus was not to change the corruption-ridden machinery of government, but to make it work. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, despite a youth spent in opposition to Martial Law, was herself a dictator in the making until that…

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Small change * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Small change

Rodrigo Duterte begins his six-year term as the 16th president of the Philippines today, having been borne to that post by mass discontent with the Aquino administration and his own incessant theme of putting an end to both corruption and criminality within months. Duterte was elected by some 16 million voters among a field of five candidates, and defeated his closest rival by five million votes. But for some sectors and individuals — among whom he was not particularly popular in the first place — his assuming the country’s highest…

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The usual suspects: A cautionary tale * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

The usual suspects: A cautionary tale

Although he has yet to be inaugurated as the 16th President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte has already met with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). His presumptive peace negotiators also met with the leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) last June 15 in Oslo, Norway, to discuss the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP by July this year. The meeting with the NDFP has been described as…

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Let the dead bury their dead * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Let the dead bury their dead

“Cemetery of Heroes” is the English translation of “Libingan ng mga Bayani,” where burying the remains of the late Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. has been resisted for years by most of the victims of the fascist dictatorship he erected on the ruins of the Republic in 1972. That has not always been the Cemetery’s name. Established as the Philippine equivalent of the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila where the remains of United States military personnel killed during World War II are buried, it was created in 1947 as the Republic…

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Media and power * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Media and power

The relationship between media and power — whether in the form of governments, business corporations, or institutions with large followings such as churches — has always been problematic. The media are almost always the first targets of repression, whether in Indonesia during the 1965 coup and the decades that followed it; in Thailand in the present day where the military junta has taken down supposedly offensive posts in online news sites and blogs, and disallowed the holding of press forums — or in the Philippines, where, upon the declaration of…

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Marcos’ long shadow * Latest Posts Commentary Vantage Point 

Marcos’ long shadow

He’s been dead all these years, although the debate over where to finally bury his remains is yet to end. But Ferdinand Marcos, who installed himself as this country’s first, and so far only, fascist, though “constitutional,” dictator in 1972 by placing the entire country under martial law, still casts a long shadow over Philippine life and politics. It’s not just because his widow Imelda is a member of the House of Representatives, or because his daughter Imee is running unopposed for reelection as governor of Ilocos Norte, and his…

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Poe and the false promise of foreign media ownership * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Poe and the false promise of foreign media ownership

Only a handful of global media conglomerates — the Walt Disney Company, News Corporation, AOL Time-Warner, Sony, Bertelsmann, Viacom, among others — controls the film and music production as well as the information that on a daily basis reach billions of people world-wide. The television, print, and film companies (among them Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Star) of Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, for example, reach an estimated two billion people daily. The influence of the media giants on the opinions, values, and ideas of their vast…

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Senator who? * Latest Posts Contributions Vantage Point 

Senator who?

Fifty men and women are running for the Senate this year, while 115 party list groups are contending for seats in the House of Representatives. But one would hardly know it from the way the media are practically ignoring the senatorial and party list elections. Assuming that the elections are neither postponed nor canceled altogether as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been stridently threatening, if the media focus on the presidential and vice-presidential race continues, by May 9 many voters are likely to vote only for those candidates for…

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Grace Poe and the call for change * Latest Posts Commentary Contributions Vantage Point 

Grace Poe and the call for change

As expected, her rivals for the Presidency of the Republic are downplaying its impact on their chances this May. But the Supreme Court en banc vote of nine to six reversing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) order disqualifying Grace Poe from running is likely to boost her already high voter-preference numbers and to hand her the presidency this year. Barring massive fraud in the counting, the Court decision makes the country’s choice of a third woman president almost certain — and it’s not going to be Miriam Defensor-Santiago. The impact…

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