Saturday, August 30, 2014

Musings: Glen

Yesterday I met my former “striker” in a previous assignment.  A striker is the police lingo for a “boy” as in houseboy.  Strikers are commonly all around helpers:  cook, dishwasher, janitor, and what have you.  They are usually people that we consider the less fortunate ones in life.  They have an informal, “contractless” job in a police office because they happened to have an initial contact with the policemen there (usually not under the best circumstances) and have caught the sympathy of some, thus they were given the menial jobs in exchange for food and lodging.  I have known one striker whose first contact with the police is during his suicide attempt in EDSA where he climbed a lamp post.  After he was dissuaded by the police from carrying out his plan, he became a striker.  Aside from the new job, he also got a new name:  “Meralco.”

Glen has just turned 18 when he became a striker in my office.  He was already two years being a striker when I joined that office, thus he was 20 at that time our paths crossed.  He told me that he is from Leyte and that he came to Manila in search of a better life.  His parents separated when he was a year old and he was raised by his maternal grandmother.  He tagged along his neighbor when they stowed away in a delivery truck hauling goods from their province to Manila.  He then stayed with that neighbor in the squatters area beside the police camp. 

Glen is a very industrious boy.  He does everything with nary a complaint.  Unfortunately, he only finished grade 4.  For all his efforts, he receives 500 a week, taken from the MOOE of the office.  This is augmented by the “abot” of PNP personnel who gives him extra cash in exchange for some personal favors such as washing their cars or running an errand for them.  When I left Glen in 2008, he had a girlfriend.  The girl is 4 years younger than him and they have the same circumstances—elementary undergrad, virtually jobless, and nearly out of luck.  Back then, I told him that it is ok to have a family as long as he can support them.  He told me that he only wanted to have one child and that will be enough for him.  For that matter, I told him to always consult with the barangay health center for the family planning methods.

A year later, he proudly told me that they had a son.  He told me that he will have his wife ligated as they are already satisfied with one child.  Glen understands the responsibility and is fully aware of the challenges that he faces as a father and head of the family.

Fast forward to 2014.  I saw Glen with his three children in tow and his wife is heavy with their fourth child.  He is still a striker though he told me that he now receives P100 per day and the “abot” had also increased.  I asked him what happened to his plan of having only one child.  He told me that the doctors at the health center did not want to ligate his wife, saying that she was still too young.  As for the alternative methods, he said that his wife cannot bear the side effects of the cheap pills that the health center gives for free and he does not like to use the thick condoms that are also given free by the health center.  But they cannot afford the expensive commercial versions.

Glen’s case is a sad commentary of government policies on population control.  That reasoning of doctors of not performing vasectomy or ligation on young people no matter what the circumstance is a very common refrain that I hear in the course of my job.  Many WCPD cases involved women with the same circumstances as Glen and his wife.  Many of these families have more children than they can realistically support.  Many of them are virtually jobless and many rely on the underground sex industry for daily sustenance.  Worst, many of them bore children whose fathers they cannot identify.  When I ask them why do they not have themselves ligated, not a few actually expressed willingness to undergo the procedure but encountered the same challenge as Glen:  no government doctor would perform the procedure on women under 30.  And they cannot afford a private doctor.  Thus, they and their many children are living in sub-human conditions.

I asked some friends who are government doctors about this no-ligation-under-30 and they are unanimous that the fundamental reason is not medical:  it is in some beliefs that is based on the dominant religion.  Though there is no formal prohibition by the government preventing them from doing the procedure, they are not doing it for fear of political repercussions from their bosses and the policy makers upstairs.

Well, I will stop here in my musings lest I will again lambast the Roman Catholic Church for many of the woes of this country.

Intelligent Voters for PNoy and Bobotantes for Binay?

I am an avid commenter in various online forums of news articles, especially the Philippine Daily Inquirer (  One thing that I noticed is that day after day, Rigoberto Tiglao appears to be right when he pointed out that seemingly, there are professional paid commenter and letter writers roaming in the forums trying to project a positive spin for the government.  In an article some few years back, made early in the administration of PNoy, Tiglao proffered some anecdotal evidence about the existence of this group, whom he suspected to be actually holding office in Malacanang, but short of naming the offices of Secretary Herminio Coloma and the then Secretary Ricky Carandang.  Though vehemently refuted and made fun of by Malacanang defenders and apologists, I cannot help but notice that the arguments and current indicators actually lean more and more in favor of Tiglao.

I am pointing this out to show that the arguments of many of these “paid posters” are actually very shallow which is reflective of the quality of the government that they are defending.  Currently, it appears that the focus or main mission of the group is to prevent a Binay presidency but they are doing a rather pathetic job on this.  This is because many of their arguments are anchored not on real issues but on the petty ones like the one used by Korina Sanchez about “mga maiitim at maliliit na mga maligno."  (Well, what can you expect from Korina anyway?)  So often, these people love to point out the complexion of the Binays and equate it with their personal and professional personalities (maitim ang budhi).  But had these people not yet realized that the United States already has a black president and up to now, the guy is still the incumbent who had already won a reelection?  I cannot help but notice that their line of argument reinforces the notion that the Filipinos are among the most “plastic” people in the world.  We always love to say that we are freedom loving and that we treat each other equally and fairly but if you look around, one of the most advertised products in EDSA billboards are the SKIN WHITENING products.  Why?  Obviously because we tend to look down on people whose skin pigment is darker than the rest.  Argue with me on this and I will point you to an episode of a sitcom that I cannot anymore remember on what channel.  But what I cannot forget is that Ruffa Gutierrez portrayed an “UGLY” girl despised, humiliated, and looked down upon by all her peers.  To achieve this “uglification,” she was painted with black make up all over her body.  At the end of the episode when it is time for her to be beautiful again, the show simply stripped off her black makeup and she is supposed to be beautiful again who delivered the comeuppance against her erstwhile nemesis—a thing that she is supposedly incapable of doing when she was still “ugly” (read:  black).

This is the frame of mind of many of PNoy’s defenders.  Look around the forums and you can see their comments, oftentimes calling the supporters of the Binays as BOBOTANTES.  And they dare to call themselves as the intelligent voters?

The Big Let Down: Part II

As I write this piece, things are going from bad to worse for Senators Koko Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes.  In my last article, I pointed out the ignorance of Pimentel about the most basic of all procedures:  the parliamentary procedures.  This next piece is supposed to discuss how inept Pimentel, Trillanes, and Cayetano in investigation, argumentation, and debate as can be seen by the way they proffered the questions to their star witness Atty Bondal.  In the first hearing, that the main target, Vice President Binay correctly predicted to be a plain political demolition job, Pimentel and company practically attempted to squeeze blood out of the banana as can be seen by the several times that Atty Bondal sounded like he is in the campaign trail.  So bad was the direction that the hearing took that the supposedly sympathetic Senator Drilon correctly intervened and cut the grandstanding witness to size by his admonition to keep the statements within the issue and deliver them straightforward without the embellishments.  But this article was overtaken by events.  The overpriced cake was proven to be a product of guesswork by Atty Bondal—a thing that he admitted and in case of the Japanese, can be a cause for hara kiri just to save face.  But Atty Bondal is no Japanese.  The other star witness that the trio touted to the media as the guy who has the goods to finish the Binays, former Vice Mayor Mercado is another big dud who proved nothing but his own corruption.  His theory that “Since I profited and I am just a vice mayor, so how much more the mayor?” will simply never hold water.  This is a plain declaration of self interest that does not prove anything except his own culpability.  Mecado must have forgotten that as the vice mayor, he was the presiding officer of the city council that approved the budget for the projects in question by virtue of the power of the purse that the legislature at all levels normally exercises in government affairs.  It is always said that it is during the budget deliberations that money is made and corrupted and this notion is strengthened in no small measure by the PDAF scandal, thus the statements of Mercado, instead of being another nail in the supposed coffin of the Binays, actually turned into a hangman’s noose now wrapped around the neck of Mercado.  All it takes now is for a Makati taxpayer to haul him to the Ombudsman and use his very words against him to send him to jail.  At this point, I am really hard pressed to find a reason for the Ombudsman not to jail this guy if the graft body will only be fair and impartial in the assessment of the evidence.

I can understand this lack of finesse in basic investigation, debate, and argumentation on Trillanes whose background did not train him for it but for Pimentel and Cayetano?  This is a big letdown to the fans of these two guys.  They are supposed to be scions of brilliant legal minds (but this is actually debatable and I can make a case against this assumption) and they are supposed to be the better versions of their father but looking at their performance in the live hearings, one cannot wonder what happened to them along the way.

From my myopic pulis mateksmateks, I just cannot comprehend why is it that if the Binays are indeed the big thieves that the trio are accusing them to be, why is it that Makati remains to be the richest city in the country today?  I cannot help but follow up this question, especially for Cayetano, why is it that the most prosperous part of Taguig is the real estate that the city simply grabbed from Makati and for so long a time everyone knows as Makati being part of Fort Bonifacio?

Taguig supposedly has more advantages in resources than Makati because it has a part of Laguna de Bay that Makati does not have.  But why is it that when I used to go to Camp Bagong Diwa when I was still assigned with the SAF and the NCRPO, I always dread that last part of my journey because Taguig is always equated with urban blight?  Cayetano cannot reason out that Makati has the advantages ever since because of the big business headquarters located in it.  One can always point out that it was in Taguig that Marcos envisioned the Food Terminal for the whole metropolis and the FTI complex relic is a very visible and sore evidence of this!  If the Cayetanos are really as good as the politicians, leaders, and administrators that they claim to be, why is it that they cannot turn this piece of prime real estate into something that they can really be proud of?

As for Trillanes, the measure is very simple:  if he is the Mr. Clean that he projects himself to be, he can show to the world his SALN in 1995 when he graduated from the academy and his SALN in 2013.  If he can satisfactorily explain the jump, then he can be the president of this country—a thing that he undoubtedly aspires for.

As for Pimentel, if he is really as good a man as he claims to be, why is it that his beauty queen wife left him for another guy?  Hahaha! That is a joke…

Or is it?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big Letdown: Senator Koko Pimentel

I watched (live) with mixed feelings the Senate hearing on the alleged overpriced carpark building in Makati chaired and moderated by Senator Koko Pimentel.  Most dominant in my mixed feelings though was my disappointment to the supposedly “matatalinong” senators (as opposed to the bobo) who attended the hearing.  A number of article ideas popped into my mind while watching the proceedings but I felt that this topic is the easiest to write about.  The title “The brilliant Senator Koko Pimentel is not so brilliant after all” was very appealing because the supposedly brilliant successor of the supposedly equally brilliant Senator Nene Pimentel showed that he does not know BASIC PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURES.  To think that the procedures are widely available in the internet!

Evidence:  Very early in the proceedings, when resource person Atty Bondal mentioned that he needed certain documents, Senator Cayetano pompously moved that the Secretariat be directed to subpoena the documents from the concerned agencies.  Senator Koko Pimentel immediately directed the Secretariat to prepare the letters!

To readers ignorant of parliamentary procedures, this may be nothing but in reality, this is actually everything and strikes straight into the heart of the procedures that is universally accepted as the gold standard in collective and collegial decision making process used by any democratic group in the universe (because even the Jedi Council in Star Wars observe parliamentary procedures!).  The parliamentary procedures aim to ensure that before any decision that the chair makes, all the other members are given reasonable chance to air their concern.  The procedures also ensures focus of a meeting (like the hearing) by making sure that at any given time, a decision point pending on the floor is first resolved before another decision point is placed for deliberations.

What is the transgression that I am pointing to then?  Parliamentary procedures dictate that all motions, before being decided, must pass through a specific process.  First and foremost, it has to be seconded by another voting member of the group.  I did not hear this happen AND A POINT OF ORDER SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BY ANY OF THE OTHER SENATORS IN ATTENDANCE when the chair immediately accepted it and actually converted it into a decision.  After the motion is seconded, the presiding officer places it on the floor FOR DELIBERATIONS by saying, “It has been moved and seconded that the Secretariat be directed to subpoena the documents from the concerned agencies.  Are there any objections?”  At this juncture, other members of the group may voice out their opinions about the motion.  Among others, the obvious points that must be discussed relative to the motion are the specificity of the documents and the specificity of the agencies to whom these letters are to be sent.  Even the tone and contents of the letters should have to be discussed first!  This actually happened in the hearing wherein Senator Cayetano addressed the chair to ask Mayor Junjun Binay if the latter is willing to provide the documents even without the subpoena.  Mayor Binay answered in the affirmative and this rendered moot and academic the directive to the Secretariat to subpoena the documents!  This should not have happened if only A POINT OF ORDER WAS MADE BY ANY OF THE OTHER SENATORS IN ATTENDANCE when Senator Pimentel directed the Secretariat to prepare the letters after the motion was made by Senator Cayetano!  I do not expect that Senators Trillanes (He appears more and more to be living up to the notion of “ALL MUSCLE, NO BRAINS”), Sotto (Well, wala siya makopyahan!  Hahahaha!) or Ejercito (Ang santol ay hindi mamumunga ng mangga!  Hahahahaha!) to know about these matters, but I am certainly aghast d disappointed that Senators Pimentel and Cayetano (and Drilon too!) appeared to be as clueless as the others!  Does this put the bobotantes in equal footing with the supposedly “enlightened” voters who elected these supposedly brilliant senators!  Hahahahahaha talaga!

As it is clear to you by now my dear students in parliamentary procedures 101 (hahahaha!) the transgression of procedures by Senator Pimentel resulted in a decision just made by the chair being rendered moot and academic in the very same phase of the hearing.  Minor you may say?  Yes I do submit that the issue is relatively minor considering that it just involves minor procedures.  But the admonition of my boss when I committed a SINGLE grammatical faux pas in a 100+++ paged report (I used “is” instead of “are” in page 76) some 20 years ago flashed back in my mind.  “If you are not meticulous in your grammar, how can you convince me that you had been meticulous in the more important things, such as the data and conclusions in this report?”  To paraphrase it and apply it to Senator Koko Pimentel, “If you were not meticulous in your basic parliamentary procedures, how can you convince me that you had been meticulous in the more important things, such as the integrity and intentions of the resource persons and the senators sponsoring them in this hearing?

And being meticulous in this aspect is another thing that I did not see.  And that will be the topic of my next article.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Koalisyon ng mga Pulis Laban sa Kurap

While browsing the internet for news items about the allegations of ill-gotten wealth against PDG Alan Purisima, I came across a blog that extensively discusses some issues against the Chief.  Its one and only post to date is captioned “SERBISYONG PURO KASINUNGALINGAN.”  Obviously, the writer/s is/are no fan/s of the current Chief.

It is also a fine reading material for PNP personnel who still cares for the organization.  Visit their blog and leave your comments guys!

Jovito Palparan

Today, August 18, 2014, Jovito Palparan faces a judge in Bulacan.  The charges against him will be read to him in a process called arraignment.  Strictly speaking, this is the day the person charged of a criminal offense actually faces the music.  This is the day that the charges named for the People of the Philippines is formally leveled against the person and he is asked how does he plead.

This is the day the Jovito Palparan must have felt all so alone—deserted by the very organization, if not the nation—that he spent his whole life for.

I have no personal interaction with Jovito Palparan and all that I know about him is just from the media.  But reading between the lines and comparing it to my life experiences as a policeman, I cannot help but feel disgust and anger at his situation.  The first disgusting thing is the statement of Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, who was quoted in the news saying that the military would not extend any legal assistance to Palparan once he fights his cases in court.  According to Zagala, “Maj. Gen. Palparan is already retired and we have no jurisdiction over him.  Whatever legal remedy he needs, he must get it in civilian capacity.”  This statement is stupid in so many ways.  Zagala is lying through his teeth.  The saying “pag ayaw may dahilan, pag gusto may paraan” automatically comes to mind.  The foremost evidence that they AFP does not automatically lose its jurisdiction over its retired personnel is the case of Retired Major General Carlos Garcia.  Here is the After Trial Report prepared by the Judge Advocate General’s Office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  The document clearly shows that Garcia had already retired when sentenced by the Military Court Martial.

The other evidence that Zagala lied can be gleaned from the subsequent statements of the AFP top brasses.  Realizing the possible repercussions of their actions to the morale of their men, the AFP Chief of Staff himself attempted to temper its effects just five days later.  Though expectedly slanted to prevent an obvious turnaround from their stupidity, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang stated, “The AFP is not abandoning retired General Palparan.  Without violating regulations, we are willing to provide all the help he needs in terms of security.”  When asked why the military should help in securing the retired officer, Catapang said: “The alleged crime happened when he was in active service and he’s innocent until proven otherwise.”  In the same interview, Catapang said that Palparan has not received his retirement and pension benefits pending the resolution of the cases against him.

At this point, if news reports are to be believed, Palparan cannot afford top caliber lawyers, unlike Conrado Garcia and Jacinto Ligot, et al, who has the means to pay lawyers as corrupt and as principle-less as them.  He is accused not of stealing millions from the government coffers but of allegedly stealing the lives of two people, an act that may have been driven by overzealousness in doing his job.  This overzealousness though is not limited to him.  This is also seen at the other side of the fence when NPAs sneak on unsuspecting soldiers and policemen and shoot them point-blank in the back of their heads.  This zealousness does not pay monetary dividends, as Palparan showed when he was arrested in a safehouse that cannot be really called safe by any terms of reference.  This is also the same at the other side of the fence as can be seen when SPARROW units are arrested or killed mostly in slums.

Adding insult to injury, he was even advised by Zagala to seek help from the Public Attorney’s Office.  Did Zagala realize that the PAO, the CHR, and the leftist human rights lawyers are almost on the same footing as far as this case is concerned?  Did he forget that the PAO is under the DOJ and run by Leila de Lima who is the apologist-for-life of the CHR?  So what is the option left for Palparan if the JAGO does not provide him with legal assistance in a case that is very clear to be service related?

And lastly, why is the AFP treating Palparan like this?  Because he was lauded by the much despised GMA?  Because he is not a PMAyer?  Because he is poor unlike many of his persecutors now?  I have no love lost for Palparan and I do not condone his acts.  In fact, I do not know him from Adam.  If he is really guilty of the charges against him, then let him suffer the consequences.  But to be prejudged guilty and abandoned by the very organization that he dedicated his entire life for—and without robbing it blind like many of his persecutors had done and are now doing—and being called "Berdugo" by no less than the current Commander in Chief, echoing the line of the ENEMIES OF THE STATE, that is the height of criminality and violation of human rights.