Friday, September 04, 2009


The month of September marks three significant dates in the life of the Filipino, depending on whose side you're on. First, the birthday of former President Ferdinand Marcos on the 11th, his death anniversary on the 28th, and more significantly, his proclamation of martial law on September 21, 1972. I expect that on this year's commemoration of that fateful date, something eerie could be the mood of the nation. Why so? Well, whereas people reflected on September 21 with abhorrence, the strange new mood could very well be gladness over any coup rumor, that a military takeover could be in the offing, considering the unfolding of events that may look similar with those that preceded the declaration of martial law - particularly the rash of bombings in Mindanao, including parts of Metro Manila.

Comments on the impendng military takeover could be from "It looks like this is the only way we can save this country from its path of chaos and destruction" to "Everything else has failed, so why not bring in the military again?" This possible shift in mood of the public could only prove how bad the government has failed its citizens. The very same reasons they used to boot out Joseph Estrada are also the very same reasons they too should be booted out (with a sharper boot). Hence, the government has really failed miserably that its citizens would give up their liberties for some semblance of law and order, just to get the nation going again.

Reflections on September 21 in 1972 could bare a general statement that the first few months and years of martial rule were edifying for the country with Filipinos learning national discipline and respect for the rule of law under strict compulsion.

Filipinos, by nature and psyche, need a strong leader to which the only alternative would appear to be for the whole country to be a conquered nation. But the martial law gains crumbled when several of Marcos' cronies and relatives twisted the impetus and gains of the military takeover for political power and self-aggrandizement. If this did not happen, the Philippines could have been one of the strongest leaders in Asia both in politics and economics. And maybe, with lessons learned from the Marcos regime, the country may now accept another strongman rule and move with proper direction towards what may be called as the Pacific Era.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Every time a politician dares another politician to take a lie-detector test to see who is telling the truth and who isn't, I can almost always smell the stink coming out from his motives. As such, I have often wondered why our local authorities, especially the police, rely so much on polygraph tests more commonly known as lie-detector tests in their investigations, particularly of murder cases.

As in the US, polygraphs are useless in court and their results cannot be used in testimonies. Time and again, lie-detector tests have been proven to be far from conclusive and psychologists themselves frown on their use.

A study of the development of polygraphs will show they really cannot probe the twisted emotions of a suspected criminal. They can only measure blood pressure, pulse rate and respiration simultaneously by means of a pneumograph tube around the subject's chest and a pulse cuff around the wrist. Impulses are picked-up and traced on moving graph paper which is driven by a synchronous electric motor. The theory is that respiration, blood pressure and pulse are involuntary actions, not subject to the person's will, yet they are bound up with the person's emotional state. Fluctuations from the norm, generally a heightening of those actions, signify emotional tumult and the police conclude this to be a lie. The outcome of the lie-detector test is dependent on the abilities of the test giver and this is the reason why they have been frowned upon as inconclusive. Our police investigators and lawyers have to stop depending too much on the polygraph test results in the pursuit of their cases.

Hence, Mareng Winnie Monsod's recent interview with a solon would prove one thing: A polygraph's electric motor can simply overheat as it receives more lies than it was originally manufactured to take, if ever he subjected himself to such test.


Do you remember that dark moment in our banking world when the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) shut down the Banco Filipino for "alleged insolvency?" At a time when BF had some PhP4.9 billion in assets, had 89 strategically-located branches, and with it came "satisfied customers." As such, no amount of effort then could sway top officials of the BSP to hear BF's side. In fact, in a historic stockholders' meeting of old presided by no less than Anthony Aguirre and Teodoro Arcenas, BF chair and prexy respectively, they presented what was called as a "Cry For Justice," which detailed the history of Banco Filipino's persecution by the Bangko Sentral, including a well-known and well-oiled law firm retained by the BSP.

This story at that time made the rounds of government and financial institutions, the banking community and media, where it had generated a sympathetic and an understanding response. However, several other headlines that followed soon pushed this aside. BF officials said that their bank and its 2,500 employees, 2,000 stockholders and 3.6 million depositors will someday get the full justice denied them by the BSP. I agree.

The BSP should look into this case once more to correct and finally put to rest a collective injustice done to legions of innocent depositors.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009


A Malacanang plan (which fizzled out) to relocate the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa should be pushed through without delay. The 500-hectare national penitentiary, if sold at the current real estate prices, should raise an amount that will go a long way in easing the government's financial woes. Besides, the national penitentiary has become an incongruity in an area that has become highly urbanized. Most of the country's economic and political elites have for some time now already relocated to the plush villages there, especially at the Ayala Alabang Subdivision. But then again, one is also reminded of a number of residents there with their illegally-acquired wealth. Too close for comfort you say?

A small portion of the proceeds from the sale of the New Bilibid could be used to establish another national penitentiary, which could incorporate new trends in penology, and would ease fears of residents in nearby areas about breakouts of hardened convicts who take peace-loving citizens as hostages when cornered by pursuing lawmen.

The transfer of the national penitentiary to a faraway site should also help boost the Calabarzon economic growth area being pushed by the government, embracing the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. The vacated site (if ever) would be ideal for a modern light industrial and commercial zone, with a university, museum and eco-parks. Hence, if sold to a private entity, the local Muntinlupa City government can work hand in hand with the new owners in developing the area to ensure maximum benefits for residents of Muntinlupa.

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Monday, August 31, 2009


Since the expose on gargantuan pork barrel outlays called Countrywide Development Funds (CDFs) and Congressional Initiative Alllocations (CIAs) wherein some legislators had been charged with receiving millions in commissions from contractors, the name of Congress with the public has become mud.

The public has become so incensed many will surely be calling for the abolition of Congress amid claims that anyway the country could operate without a legislative body. The country has enough laws to keep it going.

It has been said that the lawmakers were robbing the country blind with their mammoth pork barrel funds. Remember the time when no less than Senator Miriam Defensor - Santiago revealed that no sooner had she warned her seat at the Senate when contractors flocked to her, offering as much as 40 percent for projects under her CDF and CIA outlays? Perhaps we should really consider reducing the number of our representatives now lest they amass more beautiful homes in the U.S. From our present number of over 200 congressmen, we can do well with a lesser number of, say 78, which is the same number of governors in the country. If we can live with 78 governors, I see no reason why we can't live with 78 congressmen. And, the less congressmen we see breaking the law out in the streets each day of our lives, the better for us and for the whole nation as well. Less is best.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The late Vice-President and Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez will always be remembered for his wit and wisdom, and examples are two statements he had uttered which will live long in the lexicon of Philippine government and politics: "What's wrong with our airport?"

These were the words he said when he and his family were trapped for more than an hour in an elevator at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) some time in the 90s. Pelaez had been summoned back to Manila so he could serve as an adviser to the Philippine panel in the then bases talks.

Some years ago, Pelaez was wounded in an assassination attempt and, as he was being wheeled into surgery, turned to his military aide at his side and asked, "What's happening to our country?"

So bitter was the feud between Pelaez and then Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Manglapus that some political wags claim that the elevator was sabotaged by NAIA officials close to Manglapus. Their objective, the story goes, was to encourage Pelaez to return to Washington immediately and leave the eloquent Manglapus undisturbed as chairman of the Philippine bases panel.

As such, Manglapus' people kept a close watch on the growing desire of top Aquino administration officials to have Pelaez take over the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and have Manglapus shipped out as envoy to any country of his choice. The gentleman Pelaez, refusing to stoke the feud, told newsmen he came to be a mere "resource person" in the bases talks, and not an active participant.

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Perhaps, age need not be too important a factor in the coming presidential polls. Many outstanding world leaders were the matured persons who had gathered enough experience, wisdom and stature to lead their respective countries through difficult times. Some of these men were no less than Konrad Adenauer of Germany, Charles De Gaulle of France, Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, Mao Tse-Tung of China and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam. Let's not forget President Ronald Reagan. He was already 69 when he won the presidency.

At par with Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt probably was the best president America ever had. He ruled his country from a wheelchair. The presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the youngest man elected US President, is much remembered for his sexual indiscretions.

Younger leaders could still be susceptible to temptations of wealth, power and the call of the flesh.

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