Friday, March 26, 2010


Immediately after assuming her new post as secretary of agrarian reform under the Aquino administration, Miriam Defensor-Santiago was confined in bed for a few days with chills and fever.

Could this be because she was shocked at the powerful people she had to fight in that graft-ridden department including landlords in Congress and (horrors!) a very close Malacanang relative.

Insiders at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) informed us that Lady Miriam's eyes popped with disbelief as she went through the list of DAR officials, many of whom were known to come from the landed gentry.

Her stomach was said to have turned after learning of the powerful yellow Malacanang relative protecting the syndicate behind the notorious Garchitorena land scandal, which had wrecked the Aquino regime's so-called "agrarian reform program."

People were antsy over how the fighting lady was to perform against these cocky monsters who held the DAR hostage because of cash and connections.

But over at the immigration bureau, all she had to face were cowed illegal aliens and garden-variety crooks who trembled before her. But at the DAR, she was in the big league. She cut the figure of a bewildered gazelle facing a juggernaut of stampeding elephants. No wonder her first statement when she took office was that she had more than a 50-50 chance of "falling flat on my face" and that she felt like she was Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom.

Well, that's Lady Miriam exactly where many of her political opponents want her to be, woudn't you agree?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Squatters are currently in the minds of individuals running for public office. And after winning, they are soon forgotten once more. But how can we really forget them when everywhere we go, we see them? Even Malacanang houses the country's biggest squatter-family.

There was a time a few years ago when proponents to decriminalize squatting came under fire. Especially targeted was former Senator Joey Lina, known for the "Stupid Lina Law," also known as the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992, another blunder of the Aquino regime. The law exempts squatters from criminal prosecution. Well, it also encourages squatting.

Property owners say that the Lina Law, supported by the Aquino administration, would further aggravate the squatting problem and yes, encourage invasion and occupation of government and private land by the hordes of squatters coming from the provinces. It would certainly be welcome news to see our winning presidentiable tackle this social ill once and for all.

Former Senator Ambrosio Padilla, one of the leaders of the property owners, stressed that squatting had become a widespread vice since the last global war. Citing court decisions, Padilla said, "Squatting was and is a blight. Squatters' areas pose problems of health and sanitation. They are breeding places for crime. They constitute proof that respect for the law and the rights of others, even those of the government, are being flouted. Knowingly, squatters have embarked on the pernicious act of occupying property whenever and wherever convenient to their interests. They are emboldened seemingly because of their belief that they could violate the law with impunity."

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The invasion of tiny Panama by the world's mightiest nation, the United States, was seen by many in the Philippines as a brutal use of raw power to cow a helpless country into submitting.

Many saw striking similarities in that US intervention in Panama and the US role in the rise and fall of President Ferdinand Marcos and the ascendancy of President Corazon Aquino who, at one point was saved from certain doom only because of US intervention. Remember those Phantom jets?

Echoing the resentment among Latin American nations and other Third World countries, many Filipino nationalists dared the US to pick on somebody its size, like Russia or China.

Since it suffered military defeat in Vietnam, the US has carefully selected its opponents, making sure the odds were vastly in her favor in any diplomatic or military confrontation. And its first post-Vietnam military engagement was with puny Grenada which doesn't even have an army.

Panama became a state at the turn of the century, when, with US diplomatic and military support, seceded from Colombia. The new state allowed the US to build the Panama Canal on terms more generous than what Colombia was willing to offer. The Panamanian government has had a history of manipulation by the US, which had a vested interest in the US Canal Zone, then scheduled to revert to Panama come 1999. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Then US President Bush Sr. justified his sending US jets to bomb Panamanian military and civilian targets exactly by saying this was necessary to save democracy - as he did when he authorized US military support to keep the inutile Aquino government from falling.

The US intervention in Panama was condemned worldwide, except in countries under the control and influence of the US.

They should have sent Bush back to the bushes, among the other barbarians.

US intervention in that country's affairs were jestingly justified by then US Senator Hayakawa who declared, "Panama is ours. We stole it fair and square."


Perhaps one of our legislators should file a bill that would eventually abolish the Department of Tourism (DoT) and leave the industry to the private sector. The bill makes a lot of sense. It is consistent with the practice in most countries.

The DoT has become the dumping ground of political favorites. These favorites frequently travel abroad to attend the many tourism-related conferences. They show their faces at one or two sessions - and spend the rest of their time sightseeing and generally having a good time.

Here at home, these political appointees spend their time freeloading in five-star hotels, restaurants and resorts where they bring their family members and hordes of friends and hangers-on.

It should therefore come as no surprise that most of the DoT's attempts to attract tourists to the Philippines have ended up as dismal failures.

Though we have one of the most expensive tourism promotion programs in Asia, we too have the smallest number of visitors from abroad. The executives of some of our private travel and tourism corporations could run the tourism industry far more effectively if they did not have to cope with the interference of meddling government officials.