JULY 4, 2008



> New Video Presentation. Pictures taken during the launching.

>The "Fight for the Filipino" Book Launching was a huge success. Thanks to all your support!

> The book will be available in National Book Store. you may place your order thru their website. www.nationalbookstore.com

>The Academic Publishing Co. also accepts order and they deliver. Call 9125966. Look for Ms. Lani.

an autobigraphy of Tito Guingona


Book Review on "Fight for the Filipino"

Patriot and Activist
Carmen Guerrero Nakpil

Only a man “with soul so dead”, wrote the English poet, does not love his native land. All of us claim to love our country. But few love it and its people with the passionate activism and militancy of Teofisto Guingona, Jr. His autobiography, “Fight for the Filipino” is a treatise on patriotism.
In different form and roles, Tito Guingona has been a constant presence in our national life. At different times, he has been a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, Chairman of the Commission on Audit, member of the Philippine Senate, Executive Secretary and Secretary of both of Foreign Affairs and of Justice, Vice President of the Republic and Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. But those are only his formal titles. And, outside of our knowledge of civics and government positions, they tell us very little about Tito Guingona’s total commitment or emotional dynamism. For instance, it is only the last chapter of his 346-page biography that we learn of his latest entitlement to a charge of rebellion earned one afternoon, at the Manila Peninsula Hotel, where he was tear-gassed, arrested, handcuffed and detained.
His saga of fighting for the Filipino begins when he was a 12-year old boy who tagged along on the historic trek taken by President Quezon, his family and some members of his family, including Tito’s father, Commissioner for Mindanao and Sulu, Guingona from Northern Lanao to Bukidnon on the way to Australia in 1942.
It runs through, in vivid detail, through his years as a young student and a neophyte lawyer’s advocacy against the Parity Agreement and the U.S. Military Bases; through his stint in the making of the 1973 Constitution with concomitant arrest and detention during Martial Law; his colorful experiences with Mindanao and Manila partisan politics; his travails and policy differences in the cabinet; his frequent denunciations of anti-Filipino policies and projects; and lastly, his denunciation of a sitting President which caused a regime change.
But I must allow the readers of “Fight for the Filipino”, to discover for themselves the intriguing bits of Philippine history that Tito Guingona describes in the fast-paced, candid, conversational prose of his memoirs. For instance, the incident that happened, only four days after Gloria Arroyo’s take over of Malacañang in 2001, when the new Secretary of Justice, Hernando Perez, whispered in his ear in Tagalog, “She phoned me at midnight to order me to sign the IMPSA contract.” (an anomalous Argentinean contract which President Joseph Estrada had refused to sign because of its sovereign guarantee clause)
There are many other anecdotes and vignettes in this autobiography which makes it, more than intimate personal history, a history of the Philippines and a record of the events and personages of the last 80 years. It is also a manual for the younger generations on how to honor, love and defend this country and its people. There are few better teachers of patriotism than Teofisto (Tito) Guingona, Jr.

Story-telling – the Guingona Way
Eggie Apostol

Teofisto Guingona, Jr., one-time Vice-President of the Philippines has many stories to tell. And he tells them in great detail in his book “Fight for the Filipinos”
The stories are so highly detailed that one suspects Tito Guingona keeps a diary. Does he? I have not been able to ask him.
If he doesn’t, then we can only say he has a fantastic memory. And it is just as well for the telling of his life is like a recollection of our nation’s history.
Focus is, of course, on Mindanao – where his own father like him served as senator and later Commissioner for Mindanao and Sulu.
For those who lived all their lives in Luzon (or in the Visayas for that matter) the goings-on in Mindanao are like happenings in a foreign country. Because the country is mostly Christian but Mindanao has a sizeable number of Muslims (nine thousand about 50 years ago) mostly due to its proximity to Borneo and Indonesia.
One cannot help but envy the Guingona family for growing-up in the most beautiful part of the country – the Lake Lanao area.
This was so beautiful that when President Quezon saw it he asked that a branch of the Manila Hotel be built there. Which was done.
Although his family was anchored in Mindanao, Guingona studied in the Ateneo de Manila so that later in life he hobnobbed with Raul Manglapus, Diosdado Macapagal, Joe Calderon and Caesar Espiritu, Carlos Garcia and Jun Puyat. When problems came up about the Mindanao area he was always the Mindanao expert for solutions.
Guingona relates during Marcos’ martial rule:”one evening over a secretive dinner, where Fathers Horacio de la Costa and Jaime Bulatao were present, one of our conservative members of the group said: “The real response to martial rule is rebellion, but I’d like to know from our religious Fathers here – whether rebellion is morally justified?” The question was a riser; it was not said in a jest, and one of the priests curtly replied “Don’t worry, we’ll find a way to justify it.” That broke the ice and resulted in laughter.
Guingona’s life had its share of ironies. Before EDSA I he joined Cory in boycotting products linked to Malacañan, “I challenge the crowd not to pay their Meralco bill. Seven days later after our victory with Cory she appointed me president of Meralco. So I called for another big meeting and told the people ”Times have changed – pay your Meralco bills!”
Guingona liked to encourage better relations with Chinese in the Philippines. He submitted some suggestions: 1) Enhance herbal medicine in the Philippines, with Chinese help 2) Plant cassava or cash crops between spaces of coconut trees. 3) generates jobs by adopting the policy of giving value added to native products 4) Encourage technology connected to giving added value to coconut, fruits and fish; 5) encourage tourism by building necessary infrastructures 6) implement joint economic ventures.
Readers will be reminded that Guingona was a political activist from the start. When he was made Chairman of the Commission on Audit he was also a peace negotiator. When President Ramos made him executive secretary he grappled with the ADC and Jai Alai and the Flor Contemplacion case. He actively joined the fight for justice in the Vizconde massacre, the Jalosjos case, the Fr. Shay Cullen problem, the Maysilo Estate case, the Alfredo Tiongco case, U.S. property claim in Fort Bonifacio, the Textbook scam, the Visiting Forces Agreement, the WTO and GATT.
As Vice-President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs he was involved in 9/11 and the VFA, the IMPSA controversy, concern for the OFW’s and attending to foreign travel commitments. He differed with Malacañang in in pursuing OFW and Steel mill programs. He said No to Bush’s war in Iraq.
At book’s end, Guingona is very much in a negative mode: He sees in the Gloria Arroyo regime much that he finds dishonest. He had been asked by President Arroyo to become the new Ambassador to China which he accepted.
But the “Hello Garci” tapes was unraveled and proved that President Arroyo had tampered with the elections. Guingona did not want to continue with his new assignment and resigned.
“We must reform” is his current and latest plan.




Pls. call us for resevation.


A nation is poorer by so much everytime one of its heroes passes into oblivion. For as Tito Guingona, Jr. writes "the true treasures of the Filipino are not gold or silver" They are the men and women whose heroic lives would bring back to us in a book. And so Tito Guingona has written The Gallant Filipino...

On Sept. 21, 1972 Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed martial rule in the Philippines. It marked the beginning of a black chapter in the nation's story. On Aug. 21, 1983 they killed Benigno S. Aquino. His death inflamed the nation, and it marked the beginning of the end for Mr. Marcos. From then on the people demanded back their rights. they rallied. they marched. They defied the guns and tanks and bullets of the dictator - in the end, they defended the soldiers who rose in revolution. In that crucial hour, the nation triumphed...

To the small Filipino businessman - whose continuing strife to survive deserves sustained support. May he eventually succeed - if not under the present economic system - then in another more responsive to the nation's needs!


Vice President

Vice President

Tito Profile

Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. reached a new high in his stellar career when both Houses of Congress confirmed his nomination as Vice President of the Philippines by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Born in San Juan, Rizal on July 4, 1928 to Teofisto Guingona, Sr., a former assemblyman, senator, judge and commissioner from Guimaras, Iloilo and Josefa Tayko of Siaton, Negros Oriental, he grew up in Mindanao where he completed his elementary schooling with honors in Ateneo de Cagayan.
He pursued his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University as a working student, teaching history and political science while taking up courses in law and economics. He took up special studies in Public Administration, Economics, Sociology and Audit. After graduation, Tito went into business and became a Governor of the Development Bank of the Philippines and President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.
Tito was a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention and when Martial Law was declared in 1972, he staunchly resisted the abuses of the regime, serving as a human rights lawyer and defender of the oppressed. He founded SANDATA and became the honorary chairman of BANDILA, two mass-based organizations dedicated to social and economic reforms. Because of his opposition to martial rule he was jailed twice, first in 1972 and then in 1978.
When the dictator was ousted, the new President appointed Tito as Chairman of the Commission on Audit where he gained renown as a no-nonsense graft buster. He did not stay long in the Commission on Audit, however, for he was drafted to run for a Senate seat. In the Senate, Tito was Senate President Pro-tempore and Majority Leader. He also chaired the Blue Ribbon Committee.
Tito’s concern for the welfare of his kababayans in Mindanao is apparent when he served as director and chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority and the Mindanao Labor Management Advisory Council respectively.

the senator at work

i survived martial law

Anti GMA Rally

Anti GMA Rally
Water Canonized by the Police

About the Peninsula Seige/ An Interview with Karen Davila

Saturday, July 5, 2008


SPEECH-Fight For The Filipino
Book Launching
July 4, 2008
Maynila Ballroom, Manila Hotel

President Fidel V. Ramos, President Joseph Erap Estrada, Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corp, Honored officials in government, the distinguished personalities who took time to kindly reviewed the book, Ms, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, Ms. Eggie Apostol, Justice Isagani Cruz, Messers Ramon Farolan, Jarius Bondoc , my publisher Academic Publishing Corp represented by Mr. Ben Ramos, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Today I turn eighty years old. Eighty years is a life. For someone living to eighty and beyond, it is a super bonus. Bonus to him, his family and friends. Whether he likes it or not he converts into a confirmed elder citizen of the land. He is looked upon with more tolerance. In gatherings, people usually defer, make way, open doors, and readily offer a chair for his convenience. Even women look to him more kindly. They converse with him more freely. Sometimes they even flirt with him without fear -- because they believe that a man already eighty can no longer do any damage.
Once there took place a geriatric reunion of the elderly. The men and women from media covering the event said “let us choose the three of them who look the oldest and ask them the same set of questions.” So they asked the first, “Sir, may we know the secret of your long life, second, how old you are and lastly your profession. The response came swiftly.” Yes, I do calisthenics and play golf regularly. I am now eighty three. I am a doctor.” They went to the second choice and asked the same questions. The reply “I take good red wine with my meals. I am nearing ninety. I am an engineer. Then they approached the person who looked the oldest, face wrinkled. body bent forward, hair all silver. After they asked he said “My secret? Sex.” That got the interviewers interested. How often, sir? Response “Everyday. Yes, everyday. My age? I am already over forty years old. My profession? I am a politician!”
After Manning Pelaez in life left office for retirement, I asked him about his plans in life to write a fruitful autobiography spread over the golden years in public service, and he said he had often thought about it – but he desisted because he did not want to hurt the sensibilities of others. I thought his concern was understandable, and told him so, but he would write to help people see more clearly why and how events were shaped in perspective, not to open up old wounds which time, after all, has the essence to heal whatever disaffections may have been inflicted in the past.
It is in such spirit that I wrote this book. I started it in 2005 after I resigned as Ambassador to China, the background and details of which are embodied there, and I continued to write even as I had the privilege of participating in some of the unfolding events, until the manuscript was completed at the end of 2007.
Amid the unfolding events told in that book however - the bedrock is the Filipino himself – now 90 million or so, increasing in numbers daily yet deteriorating in the wake of worsening poverty. What is his destiny? When will he find his place in the sun? Is it true that he is undisciplined? God forbid. For the ten million OFWs who work abroad belie such allegations. Foreigners there attest to the fortitude of the Filipino. They want our nurses, they cite our seaman’s capacity, his reliability in diverse fields of economic endeavor.
It was in l994 during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos when he requested the then Vice President of the land, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, to represent him in the celebration of our Independence Day in San Francisco, California. Vice President Erap called Mr. Ramos long distance and told him elatedly “Mr. President, everything is ready here, and the members of the Filipino community are animated about commemorating Philippine Independence!” President Ramos responded by saying thank you – and added, “Erap, ilang araw diyan – ang galling galiing mo na mag English.” The Vice President in turn thanked him and replied “As to my English, Mr. President, it goes with the environment.”
My friends, that humorous exchange reveals many things in contrast. As a frequent traveler once told me – the Filipino abroad obeys the law because it applies equally to all, here he often hesitates because of a perceived double standard of justice. The Filipino there willingly pays taxes, knowing he will get back communal benefits in return, here he harbors grave misgivings. The Filipino abroad voluntarily offers time and energies for the welfare of others. Here is hampered by poverty and nagging doubts about ultimate benefits.
It is the environment that influences a man, concrete examples that count. Because environment and example comprise the easiest lessons to perceive and follow. As in a family, where there exists sincerity, the members provide serenity; and vice versa, where there exudes thievery, the members are prone to follow.
We wonder. Is this why we have become economically backward. Despite the fact that in the l950s we stood second only to Japan in the region, why in seeming desperation we have been judged the most corrupt nation in East Asia? Why a number of us still suffer the blight of torture and enforced disappearances in the night?
This nation does not lack natural resources, nor acumen, nor capital, for we continue to borrow, now more than 56 billion dollars.
Why then have we not adequately progressed? The Filipino is poor – not because he is poor – but because he is not given the means for empowerment, often denied true opportunities to build his own. The farmer, the fisherman, the worker are seemingly destined to live all their lives as farmer, fisherman, worker, with hardly any legacy to pass on to their children. No vision. No plan to empower. No opportunities to tap. Otherwise, we would not see the sight of thousands seeking to leave the land for a better life elsewhere, we would not hear of a farmer abandoning the farm to go abroad.
We must therefore resolutely ask--what is the answer? Where the solution? How to prevent a national disaster a thousand times worse than the tragedy of the Princess of the Stars because the degredation raps the soul of the Filipino.
Permit me to offer some suggestions:

l. In l936 Spain underwent the crucible of civil war. In l939 the second World War began with the blitzkrieg invasion of Poland. Spain stayed neutral. But her economy was getting worse. After the World War, the Marshall plan to rehabilitate a devastated Europe was implemented. Spain was not included, and her economy worsened even further. To a point where Spaniards were leaving the country to seek a better life elsewhere.
General Francisco Franco summoned all relevant leaders both in and outside government - and told them: “we are facing a grave problem. We are on the road to perdition unless we do something. I suggest we focus on one solution. We have no money but we possess resources. The land, the seas, the lakes and rivers – and the people. We have no Marshall plan but we have a rich history. Let us focus on tourism, promote tourism, build tourism where we attract tourists by the thousands and millions.
But for this program to succeed, we must have the cooperation of all --- from the highest official to the lowliest janitor – as well as all Spaniards from the richest to the poorest. We must all treat tourists as guests, not strangers. Welcome them, be friendly to them; do not in anyway abuse them in traffic, in restaurants, in hotels. They are to be our guests.”
Spain followed that suggestion, and today I understand she receives no less than seventy million tourists a year. We hardly have barely 3 millions.
Perhaps we can consider the same recourse here
but under the same premise – the cooperation of all.
2. Our OFWs are contributing immensely to the nation. Not only in gainful employment but also in valued monthly foreign exchange remittances. It is mainly what some economists say keeps the nation’s economy afloat.
Yet there exists no comprehensive program to empower them, or open up opportunities for them to grow even as they work abroad: a nursing aide to become a nurse, a seaman to get promotion thru technological studies, a clerk to get to management.
This is where a trustworthy institution can issue bonds to the OFWs. They procure them at affordable sums out of savings for a duration of a fixed period, say three years during from which they earn interest, with specified terms where the bondholder can avail of the means of empowerment for his own advancement.
Perhaps a portion of the pooled revenues from bonds can be channeled to the purchase of sound investments such as the acquisition by the OFWs of the National Post Office – the management of such an institution must be placed under expert hands. The National Post Office has a Savings Bank, another possible avenue to help reduce the remittance costs, and reap other benefits -- provided expertise management is always there.
3. How do we revitalize the moral values into the hearts of the Filipino? Before the war, when the nation had a population of only about sixteen million, the Filipino was honest, God fearing. Some say that the war and brutal occupation of more than three years – bred a flaw in the character of the Filipino - where survival often replaced honesty and regard for countrymen. I do not personally believe so. Perhaps a temporary aberration in some, not a permanent flaw to national character.
Example is the best teacher. And it is here where men and women in government must lead by example. Where parents must teach children by example, where church leaders must show the way to parishioners by example, where teachers must teach by example. We need a moral revolutionist – where leaders must lead by example.
We need a moral revolution.
Let me humbly head the last three paragraphs in fight for the Filipino.
I sincerely believe that one day soon – in the not so distant future – the Filipino will find his place in the sun. We already have about ten million OFWs abroad. The Filipino there is like a soldier on a mission, who learns new values to include into his own mind and heart. Someday he will return a better man – more forthright, more responsive to the challenges in life – master of his own destiny. He will no longer be the timid Filipino of old but a brave balikbayan reborn with added values for the nation. He will speak out against oppression and injustice. He will embolden and enrich the culture of this nation.
And the average Filipino here will eventually overcome the bigger challenge. As in EDSA l, he will rise above the shameless briberies and abuses of those in power. He will face guns and bullets again if need be - because despite adversities his Faith teaches him what is right and what is wrong. What to do and not do…and in the height of crises, Providence will give him the right response.
I write the pages of this book in the twilight of life. I humbly dedicate it to the Filipino, wherever I can reach forth, in whatever way I can, I shall gladly do for the people. I shall fight for the Filipino!

Friday, April 18, 2008

To my Countrymen

We have been branded the most corrupt nation in Asia, a tag of shame we all decry – and it is time we take stock of ourselves, not to deny or blame others – but to face this grave challenge and stem the crisis that continues to plague the nation, to sap our moral values, and distort our determination to build the future.
Nations face varied challenges, just like men. Sometimes they face glory, other times shame. The US faced glory when they preserved the union under Abraham Lincoln in the cauldron of civil war; they faced shame over the issue of slavery and severe prejudice against the Negroes which worsened after World War 2.We here in the Philippines faced glory when we fought and won freedom against Spain before the turn of the 20th century; today we face shame over corruption.
In the United States the Americans themselves fought a long battle to obliterate the shame against the treatment of the blacks. The Negroes led the struggle under the inspired leadership of men like Martin Luther King. They defied segregation, enrolled in schools despite prohibitions, voted in the face of challenge. Many whites joined them – in a righteous cause cast in furnace by Lincoln in the wake of civil war many years ago. And Slowly…yet Surely, the tide turned. Legislation, Fresh Jurisprudence, New Perspectives – until the whole nation joined hands to stamp out forever the vestiges of that shame. Today, the black stands equal to the white – and the United States grew stronger because they overcame shame.
We can do no less against corruption.
The Filipino is not by nature corrupt. We only have to turn back the pages of history and see anew the image of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio as they met for the first time to disscuss the formation of a new movement, La Liga Filipina, Rizal having sacrificed the meager sums sent him from home to publish Noli Me Tangere, and Andres Bonifacio struggling as a bodegero in the wake of the founding of Katipunan Both were men of integrity, both with visions for an emerging nation. They and the generation that lived and died with them spawned the first democracy in Asia.
After the Philippine American war, we changed course to regain independence from the fields of battle to the political arena.
We generated people with principles. During the American regime, when Leonard Wood sat as Governor General, an American detective, Roy Conely, was appointed to the Manila Police Force. Rumors of bribery surfaced against him. And Jose Abad Santos as Secretary of Justice, filed appropriate complaints. Conely was acquitted of criminal charges and Governor General Wood wanted him resinstated immediately, but the administrative report strongly advised against Conely’s continued stay in the service. Wood reacted angrily. He terminated Conely’s suspension, remitted any forefeiture he had to pay, and approved his retirement, in effect clearing him of any administrative taint. Jose Abad Santos considered that unjust. He resigned.
The ravages of war and the brutal occupation under Japanese forces distorted Filipino values for a time, even as they brought forth many unsung heroes across the land. We rose from the ruins and proudly learned the legacy of a brave woman like Josefa Llanes Escoda, founder of the Philippine Girl Scouts, who stood by her husband, both tortured and slain by the Kempetai in Fort Santiago.
In l946 we regained independence. Corruption reared its ugly head but men like Ceasar Climaco, Arsenio H. Lacson, and Benigno S. Aquino fought the good fight. In l972 we went thru the rigors of marital rule and for the first year or two some said authoritarian rule could have been the right response to corruption. It was not. In l986 EDSA we stood proud across the world with a new found freedom.
Yet today the challenge of corruption has grown bigger, uglier; but the larger it grows, the more we must prepare for a bigger better response. Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno has already made a significant start. Under his stewardship, the Supreme Court has already dismissed an erring Court of appeals Justice, already heard the pleas of election lawyers concerning injustices in protest cases, already prohibited spouses of justices from appointments to Court officers. His move may just spout a ripple in a huge national lake – but the ripple can turn into an eddy and the eddy into a strong whirlpool of change. We commend the Chief Justice.
We must fight corruption. In the homes, in schools, in churches, in government itself. Let’s start with ourselves, in our dealing with friends, with associates. According to an eminent statesman, “example is the fastest model, the quickest guide –from fathers to children, from teachers to pupils, from generals to privates.” Let us begin now to fight the battle against corruption. If we do so we tap not only the native honesty of the Filipino but also his love for the country. Let us start to restore pride and dignity to the Filipino. He deserves no less.


One of the vital blessings of the Filipino is the spiritual presence of the Church – and we humbly make this presentation based on what we know and what we learn from the teachings of the Church itself. We speak from the heart, without any shred of bitterness or ill feelings against anyone, and mention personalities only in an objective manner because they discharge significant roles in our nation’s story.
On November 20, an article appeared in the Inquirer signed by Church and Civic personalities entitled ‘We Reject a Morally Bankrupt Government’. In finance a man is bankrupt if he has no money, swamped by debts and liabilities. In like manner a government is bankrupt if its basic actuations are bereft of Moral Law. Government exists for Man, not Man for Government. Political authority has God for its first source and final end – from God to Man, from Man to Government, from Governance to God again. Nations under such moral order choose leaders who in turn exercise authority to govern thru the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity with people for their common good. It is from moral foundation that political authority derives legitimacy to govern, to render justice, to respect rights and to impose obligations. Legitimate governance does not stem from distorted elections that cheat the people to an honest count. It does not flow from pervaded thirst for money, and it can not and should never emanate from betrayal of public trust, to hide wrongdoing or evade accountability.
When Gloria Macapagal Arroyo first took office as President in January 200l, she proclaimed before a cheering crowd at EDSA II that she would usher in good governance, that she would render honest leadership by example, and ensure transparency in public transactions for public welfare.
In those early days I was named Secretary of Foreign Affairs and in cabinet meetings I sat at the right side of the President; next to me to my right sat the Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez. During one of those meetings the banner headlines in newspapers, radio, and television was IMPSA, Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarona Anonima – an Argentine Power Producing firm.
Controversy hounded that firm’s actuations. How? During the previous administration, IMPSA got a preliminary contract to rebuild and operate the CBK, Caliraya Botocan Kalayaan power from Laguna de Bay. Because it was a Build Operate Transfer project, the preliminary agreement did not require special concessions – such as a sovereign guaranty. A Sovereign guaranty is an assurance by the Philippine government that any loan gotten by IMPSA to rebuild the power project be paid by the government in case of default. Thus, good as cash – and the banks would readily lend. IMPSA sought this government guarantee because they lacked money – but they were denied by the previous administration, despite the reported lobby money offered by IMPSA of l4 million dollars to secure the same. No sovereign guaranty, no money, no money, no final approval to undertake the project. IMPSA was getting desperate.
Then EDSA ll erupted….and a new government came to power. In that cabinet meeting Secretary Nani Perez whispered to me “Alam mo pare, tinawagan ako niyan sa hating gabi (Referring to President Gloria seated on left) at inutosan niya ako na aprobahan ko yang IMPSA.” I sat immobile and looked at him for confirmation. He gazed back and nodded his head.
There seemed no need for further words. I sat pensively back and the vision of EDSA II inaugurating a new president barely a few weeks ago came back to mind…so early yet so seemingly sad. In the days that followed a paper trail was found and a case was filed at the Ombudsman, but only against Secretary Perez. Sad.
That was the first Phase of Gloria Arroyo’s presidency. In 2003 she declared that in order to unite the nation she would not run a new term but she later changed her mind and ran in 2004.
There are a number of devastating events that forever marred the elections.. Let me just reiterate two. The first - the diversion of more than P720 million pesos intended for farmers’ fertilizer to selected governors and congressmen. This was done thru Undersecretary Jocjock Bolante to ensure the Presidential victory in the election, a matter of public record, investigated by the Commission on Audit, but until now no one held responsible, no one punished.
The second comprises the hello Garci revelations.They rocked the nation and have not really died down because there exits no rational closure -- and the painful truth contained in the tapes will continue to haunt us until we face reality. They reveal not just one or two but fifteen conversations between the President and Commissioner Garcillano, about elections, on how to ensure victory by over a million votes, conducted while the national tally was on going, their voices identified by sound experts, the details of the two hour long tapes so varied that invention remains virtually impossible.
I remember how in l978 when LABAN under Ninoy Aquino’e initiative dared to fight the KBL under Marcos. A day before elections an American asked how long it would take to know the results of the tally. A friend quipped “I know that in the US it only takes two hours to get the official results. Here in the Philippines we know the result two days before elections!’ it seems that in 2004 contest - some people already knew what the results would be two months before election upon the appointment of a certain Comelec official.
In the last quarter of 2005 citizens from diverse groups got together and organized the Citizens’ Congress for Truth and Accountability, CCTA. We convened and received evidence, One of the witnesses was a peasant from Palo Leyte. Richard Margallo, who came in a wheelchair because he still suffered from bullet wounds. He testified under oath that he was the head of San Agustin Farmer Beneficiaries Multi Purpose Cooperative. The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) had previously awarded land to six of their members, so they planned a “balik uma” gathering celebration of more than 50 families. At 5 AM of November 2l, the farmers were already up and about preparing food – when without warning, they were peppered with a volley of gunfire. The farmers shouted that they were unarmed civilians but the shooting continued. Five grenades where also hurled at them. Seven farmers died on the spot, including a woman seven months pregnant. More than ten others were seriously injured.
When the firing stopped, the perpetrators moved to the hut prepared for the occasion. The attackers were in military uniforms and combat boots, apparently in full battle gear, with faces concealed by bonnets, later identified as members of the l9th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) Once inside the hut, the soldiers ordered the farmers to stretch face down and started kicking their backs with boots. Then they accused the farmers of being members of the NPA. The farmers denied the charges, even as they pleaded for medical help. A certain Col.Louie Lagoy later admitted that the attack came from elements of the l9th Battalion but claimed that what transpired was not a massacre but a legitimate encounter between a rebel group and the military.
That event is not an isolated case, Hundreds of similar tragedies have happened in other parts of the Visayas, Luzon, and Mindanao. Killings, disappearances, torture, and enforced confinements.
Government says that these happenings are not intended or tolerated and do not constitute a policy, only isolated instances. Such claim is a feint echo of the defenses put up by law enforcement agencies during the dark days of martial law, but even before the tragedy of the farmers in Leyte, in the early days of this administration, Representative Satur Ocampo had already brought the matter of extrajudicial occurrences to President Gloria herself. She was asked not only as president but also as commander-in-chief to act in order to stop them. Seven years have gone by - yet these wanton abuses against basic human rights have not mitigated, Instead the series of abuse have generated a pattern – so much so that even international bodies and foreign personalities themselves have denounced their deeds.
This government has imposed other grand designs of deception intended to mislead people or deny them their rights to know. CHACHA, Calibrated Preemptive Response, Executive Order 464, Emergency Rule under EO1017 – all were found deficient by the Supreme Court but until today the executive does not seem to honor them honestly. Only last Friday, January 18, several groups of farmers, civic sectors, media, etc., held a candle march to Edsa shrine where fire trucks and police were already waiting. They prevented us to set foot on EDSA Shrine which ironically symbolizes freedom.
In the 1970’s, when Richard Nixon allowed his cohorts to illegally break into Watergate and the men who did so were jailed, Nixon tried to cover up by buying their silence. When wire taps in the White House were discovered, Nixon again covered up by having portions of the tapes deleted. Here in the Philippines, the electoral fraud in 2004 contest were covered up from the onset –during the national canvassing of votes in congress, by denying the repeated motions of the lawyer of FPJ to show the glaring discrepancies between the election returns and the Certificates of Canvass. Motion to produce elections returns of Lanao del Sur. Denied but noted.. Observation to show fundamental defect, Noted. Move to examine, Noted. Motion to verity. Noted. All noted until the exasperated FPJ counsel rose in protest and in righteous indignation, walked out of the proceedings.
To suppress airing of legitimate dissent, police are utilized to bludgeon helpless citizens under an illegal CPR. To prevent government officials like Romulo Neri from testifying in the aborted ZTE contract, they wrongly invoke Executive Privilege.
Under this regime as in ZTE, bribery has become rampant, dole out of money seems to be the name of the game, Not only to cover past deeds but to influence future actuations as well. We often hear of envelopes distributed to congressmen, envelopes given to Governors, envelopes meted out to the military – but it seems unthinkable that public officials would also send envelopes containing money to some bishops themselves, as reported in the past, in this very complex itself.
Excellencies, I speak as a humble member of the flock to his shepherds. We face a deepening crisis that may doom us to perdition. Did we change governments in 200l only to degrade Filipino values further? Did we lift the death penalty only to resort to extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances? Did we preach a better tomorrow only to become one of the most corrupt amongst nations in this part of the world? Have we removed the vision of hope enshrined by real honesty and hard work of our forefathers and beckoned in its stead the evils of mass briberies, wanton suppression and bad education? Are we going to face another election in 2010 under the same corrupt system?
What is expected of us? What are we to do – we the laity and you the hierarchy of the Church? How do we respond to the deepening challenges? The following suggest themselves
l. Remain silent, do nothing. By such passivity we ignore the counsel of that eminent statesman Edmund Burke who said “for evil to worsen it takes only good men to do nothing.”
2. Declare that since we will have elections in 20l0, might as well let the remaining two years and three months pass by and wait for new directions in governance.
3. Speak out the truth pursuant to Moral Law.
The first option speaks for itself and needs no explanation except to add that silence is tacit adherence to the wrongs done to the people. The second follows the line of least resistance but resolves nothing. Those who gave credence to the President Gloria’s announcement in 2003 that she would not run to unite the nation were proven wrong, and those who believed that election in 2004 would change the nation’s course for the better were gravely disappointed. Although the initiative of Cha Cha seems gone, talks are already rife that a constituent assembly will be called in March this year. And although the infamous attempt to impose the ZTE was aborted, the details of the giant transmission firm, TRANSCO, ten times bigger than ZTE, have yet to be given to the public, again seemingly oblivious of the people’s right to know.
The third option then seems a viable course.
Let us take a stand because it is right. Let us speak because it is just. Let us adhere to the Moral guidance of the Church. In the case of Richard Nixon, many leaders advised him to take the honorable way and resign from office. Here in the Philippines, we in civic society also believe that GMA should resign.
It is not only right. It is peaceful. It is moral.


The Japan Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement is like a meeting between Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao, one big, the other small; and the terms of their meeting also appear inequitable in favor of Tyson against Pacquiao. It is a partnership favorable to Japan, disadvantageous to the Philippines.
Why? Because, among others, it unjustifiably seeks to grant national treatment to Japanese investments. Article 89 of JPEPA says that each party shall accord to investors of the other party and to their investments treatment no less favorable than that it accords, in like circumstances, to its own investors and to their investments with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, operation,, maintenance, use, possession, liquidation, sale, or other disposition of investments.
Traditionally, an alien investor comes into the nation of another, with resources to do business. He enters like a guest, abides by the laws of that nation during his stay, and liquidates his undertakings when he decides to, in accordance with domestic regulations.
What does national treatment mean? Does it ask that we regard the Japanese investor as we do our own Filipinos? Does it connote parity, same as the parity we extended to US firms and citizens equal to Philippine firms and citizens in the wake of rehabilitation in l948? No. National treatment means more. It does not merely refer to equal -- but also to treatment no less favorable than that we accord to Filipinos under like circumstances. The treatment can be equal, can be more favorable to the alien investor -- but not less favorable. If for example there exists an area in Mindanao such as a preserved zone which prohibits the establishment of business therein, we can rightfully deny applications of both Philippine and Japanese to do business there. But if we grant the request of both yet give more privileges to the Japanese investor, that could be unjust but okay under JPEPA because the treatment is more favorable to the Japanese investor.
Where would national treatment apply? Not in Japan where there hardly exists any Filipino businesses, but here where Japanese investments abound. As worded in JPEPA, national treatment would cover practically all areas of investment – from establishment, to operations, to sale, to liquidation.
JPEPA is an unequal treaty because it will operate one sidedly in favor of Japan.
In the case of National Treatment, this means that Japanese investment in the Philippines become the major components of our national economy, to be treated more than parity. Under JPEPA the Philippine government becomes the guarantor of Japanese investment, against political risks like revolution. If a Japanese factory is destroyed in the wake of that revolution, the government under the terms of that treaty pays compensation. If, on the other hand, a Filipino factory is destroyed, no such warranty exists.
There is bigger folly. It appears that the Philippines did not ensure the needed flexibility. In Annex 7 we did not make more comprehensive reservations. We referred to some limitations imposed by the constitution -- but we did not reserve our right to enact future legislation. On the other hand, Japan’s reservations are extensive – covering national treatment, most favored national treatment, prohibition for performance requirements – and expressly made the reservation to adopt or maintain any measure relating to those areas.
In basic agreements, especially where new rights are invoked such as national treatment, it is fundamental that reservations be made clearly because no reservations made means conformity to the new relationship, with no more recourse in the future to complain – and where congressional rights are affected – there may result a relinquishment by congress to exercise remedial powers to correct a wrong.
For example, we did not make any reservation on public utility. Would this mean that Japanese firms, if JPEPA is approved, can now enter that vital area and be accorded national treatment? Seems so, because we did not make a proper reservation.
In fisheries, our reservation states that no foreign participation is allowed for small scale utilization of marine resources in archipelagic waters, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone. In the second paragraph, it states that for deep sea fishing, corporations, associations or partnerships with a maximum 40% foreign can enter into co – production, joint venture or production sharing with the Philippine government. Compare this with the Japanese reservation which details the subsectors of fishing and states that Japan reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure relating to investment in fisheries in the territorial sea, internal waters, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Japan.
The first part of our reservation implies that the prohibition fishing in our waters apply only to small scale fishing, without clear restraint on other activities. Under this loose and incomprehensive reservation, a Japanese fishing boat factory can conceivably establish fishing operations in our waters, with or without JPEPA. The second part of our reservation is likewise inadequate. It deals only with agreements with government. What of the continental shelf? What of economic development in the exclusive economic Zone?
For lapses in making proper reservations, we may forego rights, relinquish power to enact future legislation on investments. Therefore we should not approve JPEPA. Why deprive congress of this fundamental right of legislation embodied in Art.Vl Sec. l of the constitution.
A treaty is intended to enhance the nation, not derogate its power to govern. Ironically, Art.4 of JPEPA calls on the parties to consider amending or repealing laws that affect the implementation and operation of said agreement. – For us to further relinquish legislation? To further ensure protection of their investments? But if there arises abuse detrimental to national interest, should we not assert to correct a wrong and use legislative power? We cannot and should not give up this inherent right to fight for the Filipino. Even the power of local governments are affected. Instead of more autonomy, one year after approval of JPEPA, they will be restrained from enacting ordinances concerning Japanese investments. JPEPA will operate as a usurpation of legislative and executive powers of the Philippine government. It creates a hierarchy of rules in our legal system in which JPEPA will hold a position of supremacy over the acts of Congress. JPEPA is at war with the principle which our own Supreme Court upholds: that a statute and a treaty one of equal understanding in our legal system..
2. Under JPEPA, all products are targeted over time for tariff reduction or elimination, all – except those exempted. Japan listed 238 tariff lines involving various agricultural and industrial products such as sardines and slippers for exclusion while the Philippines limited exemptions to only 6 tariff items, 5 for rice and l for salt. This means that once JPEPA is approved, the targeted reduction or elimination of tariffs of all products outside the exempted ones will begin. The Philippines agreed to reduce or eliminate tariffs in ten years, Japan within 3 to l5 years, with some goods like sugar still quantified under a Tariff Rate Quota..
In accordance with articles l2 and l3 of said agreement, the implementation of JPEPA will be done by a Joint Committee and sub coommittees composed of representatives of the Government of the parties, But the power over tariffs in the Philippines is vested in Congress, not to any joint committee. The President who signed the proposed agreement possesses only delegated powers – and the same cannot further be delegated.
The moment JPEPA is concurred in by the Senate it becomes valid out effective as law and the Supreme Court has categorized a treaty concurred in by Senate as domestic law. In this light, the operation of JPEPA through the Joint Committee and several sub-committees becomes a situation where Japanese government appointees will be engaged in the implementation of a domestic law in Philippine territory ─ a bizarre anomaly in our constitutional and legal system.
Where is accountability? Responsibility? Transparency? The negotiations that led to JPEPA were done in relative obscurity, without the needed information and publicity mandated by the right to know. It is a truism that in bilateral negotiations, the poor who possesses less bargaining power must be ten times more vigilant, otherwise concessions can be easily taken in the guise of aid like Official Development Assistance. We do not depreciate the Assistance given to the Philippines by ODA. But such assistance are loans that Philippines pays for. In addition there exist flow back benefits that Japan gets back because the entity in charge of ODA, Japan Bank and International Cooperation, mandates that the majority of the projects funded by said Assistance must be undertaken by Japanese entities. If Japan waved the flag of ODA before, they can do it again during implementation once JPEPA is approved. The Joint Committee to implement presumes equal partners out to pursue equitable interests. But reality tells us that in such situations the perceived welfare of both do not run parallel but often collide. So this kind of implementation may only retard, not smoothen relations. Furthermore, under JPEPA, the most favored treatment clause is extended to other countries. If we extend national treatment to their investments, the same can be invoked by other nations in separate agreements. We may have multiple joint committees overseeing similar JPEPAS for as many countries – a financial and administrative nightmare!
In the meantime, Japan under the proposed treaty denies us tariff reduction for agricultural goods to enter her country such as sugar, bananas, mangos, tuna and other marine products even as we give duty free imports to her industrial inventories like electronics - for double whammy advantages because many of these products or their parts are manufactured in the Philippines by Japanese firms themselves, like transmissions for automobiles. They ship them from here to Japan duty free, and when they export an entire automobile, transmission included, they will come in one day duty free. Japan exports to us high value finished goods, usually accorded low tariffs. The Philippines on the other hand trades low value added rural products like banana – yet we must pay tariff of ten to twenty percent. An imbalance we can ill afford. As of 2005 our trade deficit with Japan already stood at $2,034 billion US dollars. JPEPA will predictably see more imports from Japan, shifting our focus from manufacturing to importing and losing jobs to workers.
. 3. What is even of greater concern is the dumping of Japanese materials such as hospital waste, municipal sewage, clinical toxics, and other materials embedded in products which will come in duty free. In l999 Japan exported to the Philippines in a single try, l22 40 ft container vans -- reportedly carrying waste paper for recycling. However, when the container vans were opened, what the government authorities found was not recycled paper as stated in the customs declaration – but hazardous, infectious, and toxic trash: intravenous injections, used diapers and napkins, syringes for blood, dextrose, worn bandages. We protested because it was the right thing to do, and after some ado, the perilous products were sent back.
Japan is highly industrialized. She generates many products that contain chemicals and toxic waste. For her own ends, she has adopted a policy of the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This means they are encouraged to use products like a ferry boat for commercial purposes, and after some time recycle by converting it, perhaps into a tugboat, then when no longer viable, dump them somewhere. Including the effluents and enamels embodied therein.
Waste disposal comprises a big challenge, and the principle enunciated by the International Basel Convention, an assembly where both the Philippines and Japan are members -- is that each nation maintains within its own borders the responsibility of resolving the waste problem. There grew a glaring loophole when some developed nations claimed they were not exporting waste but recycled products.
The international community via the Basil Ban Amendment plugged that loophole preventing the transborder movement of toxic and hazardous waste even for recycling. Unfortunately neither Japan nor the Philippines has ratified the Basel Ammendment. But the Philippines should, because we have laws which control the use of Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes, Republic Acts 6969 and 4653. If however we approve JPEPA, we set aside our own laws – and open our doors to garbage disposal. Does not our nation deserve the right to health against hazardous waste? Are we not concerned first and foremost with national interest? Do we not have enough of a problem in the disposal of our own waste?
The advocates of JPEPA claim that Japan has entered into similar agreements with countries like Malaysia and Singapore which are beneficial. But Malaysia has ratified the Basel Agreement, while Singapore is a noted center of transshipment for commercial trade.
In our case, our negotiators have agreed to adjusted tariff rates, setting the stage for Japan - to dump their recycled garbage here, no matter the consequences. The tariff for waste pharmaceuticals has been lowered from 20% to 0; municipal waste from 30% to 0; clinical waste such as adhesive dressings, wadding gauze, surgical gloves from 30% to 0. Waste comprising organic solvents, halogenated substance, from 305 to 0. The reduced tariff to zero – glares like an ugly invitation for Japan to dump.
JPEPA refers to the products of trade as goods but the ‘bad ones’ are left hanging. If a forty foot container van export arrives comprising 60% used newpapaers but 40% recycled worn out products containing perilous effluents, will our customs officials reject the waste and admit only the old newsprints, considering that implementation of JPEPA is under a joint committee under the demanding rules of GATT adopted by JAPEPA?
We are told that our Foreign Affairs Secretary has written a letter to his counterpart, the Foreign Minister there, who responded that Japan would not export hazardous waste to our country. But such letters were not included in the negotiations, not made integral parts of the agreement, not definitive of what constitutes forbidden waste – because for Japan a recycled product is a product that can be exported. If they genuinely desire not to export waste to the Philippines then we should amend the treaty.
4.Those for JPEPA proclaim that for some concessions in trade, the door for Philippine nurses and caregivers will now open. They say it is an opportunity for a better life. If so, then why do the members of the Philippine Nursing Association themselves stand opposed to JPEPA?
The entry of nurses and caregivers there are totally governed under the Immigration laws and regulations of Japan. We do not know how many are entitled to go, when, for how long. Philippine Nurses and caregivers have been acclaimed the world over. Not only do they ably discharge their duties in a dedicated way, they do so with a personal touch, regardless of overtime and overdue pressures. To make them learn to speak and write in Nipongo seems reasonable – but they object to the requirement that they take another qualifying examination again – in Nipongo. To learn and communicate in an alien tongue is alright, but what looks unfair is to have them undertake a rigorous examination in Nipongo, whose nuances they do not fully grasp, where even amongst Japanese applicants the success rating is not relatively high. At present professional Japanese coming here in aid of their firms doing business in the Philippines are accorded fair treatment. Would they not object if the host government impose as an additional requirement for their stay – that they also take a qualifying examination in Filipino?
What happens when a Filipino applicant for nursing does not qualify? How long can she stay, what kind of treatment to expect? Can the rules change? The questions are relevant because JPEPA is an agreement not only in trade and investments but also to treatment of natural persons, governed by Japan’s laws and regulations in immigration.
5. GATT, the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade, and its successor, the WTO, World Trade Organization, were the entities that sponsored globalization. Their vision got derailed because of the resounding cries of protest raised mainly by developing nations. The noted economist Joseph Stiglitz once said that the challenges faced by globalization sprang from the fact that the rules for globalization were made by rich developed countries mainly for the benefit of the rich developed nations.
JPEPA is worse. It goes beyond WTO because WTO for example prescribed reduced tariffs for nations to follow - but it did not seek total elimination of the same. Under WTO, nations still had a leeway to legislate; under JPEPA we would have no such adjustmemt. WTO did not impose performance requirements for investments. Under JPEPA, we cannot require that the investor hire local labor, promote technology transfer, or use local material for their businesses. WTO did not impose insurance for investments. Under JPEPA we are mandated to guarantee investments against certain risks such as revolution.
When WTO got derailed, some thought that the world would at last listen more closely to the reasons of international protest from developing nations. Now it seems that bilateral agreements embody the new strategies to pursue the advantages of rich developed nations.
The advocates for JPEPA claim that once we approve, trade will increase by 20 % , investments by 350 % . But they do not show a detailed study. They do not explain how or why. On the contrary, a study undertaken by PIDS, Philippine Institute of Development Studies shows that positive growth of the economy arising from JPEPA will be minimal, barely 0.09%. Relatively small. Why? According to an economic analyst because trade is more favorable to Japan and will mainly benefit her, not our farmers and fisherfolks. And Japan’s investments will generally follow the trends of investment -- where transports and infrastructures already exist, not to areas in dire need of investments.
Small benefits – at what price? At the price of the Filipino farmer becoming poorer because he has no real access to the Japanese market, at the price of losing hope for our fishermen, not only because they are being edged out of municipal waters by commercial fishing – but because we open up our exclusive economic zone to Japanese marine enterprises who have the resources to exploit that stretch of sea for themselves.
Above all, the price we must pay if we approve JPEPA is that we relinquish sovereignty to a supposed foreign partner. We cede the right to legislate, we surrender the capacity to protect our own people. We give up the right to govern – and to undertake sustained development. We will be a satellite of Japan.
6. What seems even more abrasive is the proposal in JPEPA, Article 2. It says “With respect to the Philippines, the national territory as defined in Article I of its constitution, the term ‘national terrritory’ also includes the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf to which the Philippines exercises sovereign rights or jurisdiction in accordance with its laws and regulations and international law;”
The second paragraph in the same Article copies the same provision for Japan’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, but as in the case of investments – the same one way traffic route prevails - because there hardly exists any Philippine investments in Japan proper, more so in the exclusive economic zone.
The Philippine was granted sovereign rights over Exclusive Economic Zone by the Law of the Sea Conference of the United Nations in the l980s, covering two hundred miles of sea and continental shelf from shoreline to sea. In such areas live fish and aquatic animals, where potential resources like oil and gas and maritime wealth may be found. In the wake of poverties, I have talked to a number of fishermen who live from day to day with their meager catch. They have not even heard of the Exclusive Economic Zone and their potentials, and thought for a while that we were talking of the depletion of municipal waters. But I believe that the nation’s leaders owe it to them to make the areas a living reality for them and their children.
Japan without JPEPA has invested substantially here. Now she wants investments under national treatment, with protection guaranties, plus access to our exclusive economic zone. Will they go fishing there for our benefit? Will they tap the marine resources for our welfare? With due respect I say - Japan has her own exclusive economic zone. Attend to that area. Leave us be.
Section 2 of Article XII of our constitution provides: The State shall protect the nation’s maritime wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE and RESERVE ITS USE AND ENJOYMENT EXCLUSIVELY TO FILIPINO CITIZENS.” (Capital letters ours) But if we approve JPEPA we accord National Treatment to Japanese Firms to exploit the Two Hundred Mile Area of the exclusive economic zone.
The Petroleum Act, R.A. 387 provides that “all natural deposits or occurrences of petroleum or natural gas ON THE CONTINENTAL SHELF…seaward from the shores of the Philippines…BELONG TO THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES INALIENABLY AND IMPRECRIPTIVELY.” (Capital letters ours)
For all this, it seems only just that we say No to JPEPA. No because we cannot give away what is entrusted. No because the terms embodied therein are basically disadvantageous and unfair to the Philippines and the Filipino. No because we have a mandate to strive for a better legacy to our children. Let us respectfully but firmly say NO to JPEPA!


Even with the results in and most of the winners proclaimed, the controversies surrounding the May 14 elections are far from over.

The recently concluded polls again demonstrated a pattern of massive, deeply-rooted and systematic fraud and violence rivaling previous elections. The onslaught of fraud and violence could have been worse had it not been for the efforts of a vigilant citizenry, the media and various watchdog groups.

Watchdog groups have gathered vital documentary and testimonial evidence of vote shaving, vote padding, vote buying, disenfranchisement and fabricated election documents, all of which constitute the serious offense now known as electoral sabotage.

What is alarming to many is that in the worst examples of fraud, violence and disenfranchisement, the intended beneficiaries were candidates belonging to the Administration. What is arguably the single most glaring example of systematic and wholesale cheating is the result of the elections in Maguinadao where a highly improbably Administration sweep was recorded amidst serious allegations of disenfranchisement and fabrication of election documents.

It is inevitable that the tainted results of the May 2007 elections have revived questions the issue of fraud in the 2004 elections. The personalities implicated in the alleged fraud of 2004 are the same as the ones being implicated in the alleged cheating in the 2007 elections. These issues will continue to hound President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo until there is just resolution to the controversy.

As a people, we cannot simply move on and close to this chapter in our nation’s history, not when the issues of alleged fraud then and now remain unresolved. There can be no moving on if there is no accountability. There can be no serious electoral reforms when cheats are not brought to justice.

The Comelec, including its top officials, especially those who have already been implicated in the controversial Garcillano scandal, must be made accountable for the cases of fraud that have tainted the outcome of the 2007 elections. Impartial and thoroughgoing investigations must be made with the end goal of charging the sponsors and operators of election cheating. Arresting Comelec official Lintang Bedol is one thing. Making the entire Comelec leadership liable for its inaction over Bedol and his conspirators over the past three years is another thing.

The electorate deserves nothing less than the accountability of its election officials.


Political and Economic Challenges

A former Secretary of Agriculture once recounted to me. “I was amongst one of the proponents of free trade under WTO. Now no more. Trade liberalization compounded by government neglect of agricultural development were deadly to the farmers, many of whose sons and daughters now dream of going abroad instead of continuing to till the land.”
In the wake of setbacks of WTO – from Seattle in l999 to Cancun in 2003, it seems vital to review some of the deep causes that led to said reverses. The Philippines has joined the group of 20 nations in quest of reforms, perhaps having in mind what former Speaker of the United States said about governance. Let me paraphrase what he wrote, “I have had the privilege of meeting many distinguished prominent personalities, presidents and prime ministers, kings and monarchs, senators and congressmen, of engaging thru the years in national and international public service – but I found that in essence all politics is local.. Attend to the local. Do not take the small man for granted.”
What is the meaning of WTO to the farmer, the fisherman, the entrepreneur? What is ASEAN to them? What of ASEAN plus 3, of ASEM and APEC? What are the political and economic challenges?
Said structures generate meaning as they affect.
1. The farmer who nurtures carageenan in Mindanao seems isolated. He does not know how best to boost production, where and how to sell. He ends up waiting for the buyers’ representative to pick up the produce which he understands will be processed in the Visayas. He lacks information technology, does not know how much value added is lost to him, and cannot even begin to compete for greater access to bigger markets abroad. Should we not integrate local production to local markets even as we seek to integrate our economy with Asia and the world?
2. The projection of benefits from the Agreement on Agriculture in WTO was more trade, more jobs, and more development. Yet the value of exports from farms like coconut products did not show significant progress, were instead swamped by massive imports. The Philippines as a net food importing country became a stark reality, with the agricultural trade balance moving from a surplus of $292 million in l993 to a dismal deficit of $794 in 2002.
3. The proponents of the Agreement on Agriculture foresaw the displacement in the Philippines of many rice and corn growers but claimed that affected farmers could then switch to more viable commercial cash. Yet this is more easily said than done. The economist Kevin Watkins said “The argument that displaced staple producers will simply shift to commercial crops has a surreal quality. High capital costs of entry into commercial food markets and the importance of infrastructures, which is non existent in the more marginal areas from which people will be displaced, means most of the benefits from commercial agriculture to more prosperous producers.”
The suspended WTO meeting for the intended round of review leaves the nations in ferment, bringing into focus the heavy issues that confront the world. We hope that the lessons of the past will eventually bring about a more transparent WTO that truly stands for fair trade.
Meanwhile the direction in our part of Asia points to ASEAN not only accelerating its Free Trade Area or expanding the ASEAN plus 3 dialogues meaning vis-à-vis China, Japan, South Korea. In January 2002 ASEAN signed an Agreement for Close Economic Partnership with Japan. In November 2004 ASEAN signed a Free Trade Agreement with China. At the last ministerial meeting of ASEAN, Malaysian Foreign Minister announced that the first East Asian Summit would be held in Malaysia in December 2005 and that invitations would be extended to the ASEAN countries, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand – but not the United States.
In the wake of these developments – what are the political and economic challenges that we face? The political often blends with the economic – but not always –for nations still look to their national interests and strategic values they hope to reap from their acts.
When Prime Minister Mahatir during his term first proposed a Summit in Asia amongst Asians, the US countered with the formation of APEC, believing that strategic concerns demanded her presence in any such vital undertaking.
Today the Asian Summit becomes reality in December. It can have a life of its own, can take up issues other than trade and investments, can resolve to grow and tackle poverty more resolutely.
What will the US do? What are her concerns? Taiwan? Safe passage for merchant ships in sea lanes in the South China Seas? Terrorism? To label who are terrorists, who are not? The power to implement a preemptive strike? Such concerns seem far fetched at this time, and just as the US has successfully initiated a number of regional organizations in the past like NAFTA without intervention from others, perhaps the US could in turn endorse a move amongst Asians to determine their own destiny.
The East Asian Summit comes in the wake of the ASEAN Chinese Free Trade Agreement. Tough negotiations lie ahead with a targeted time frame of l0 years to complete. ASEAN is the hub in ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea dialogues. Although there exist deep animosities between China and South Korea and Japan, ASEAN is the forum where the three find common ground of friendly neutrality, where they can exchange ideas, and lessen biases – which may pave the way for a bigger East Asia Free Trade Area. An ASEAN experts group has concluded that by 2020 an ASEAN Japan economic partnership will increase ASEAN’s export to Japan by44.2 percent and Japanese exports to Southeast Asia by 27.5 percent, compared to l997. A similar study y Chinese and ASEAN academic experts showed that the ASEAN Chinese Free Trade Agreement will result result in a 48percent exports to China and would increase China’s GDP by 0.33 percent. Great. But the devil is in the details and ASEAN must do its homework.
Furthermore China has openly committed to help developing nations, like those in ASEAN. Let me quote Mr. Eng Chuan Ong from the ministry of Foreign Affairs in Singapore. “China has explicitly stated that it wants to help protect developing nation interest in WTO. Its leadership has called for the creation of an international multilateral trading system in which developing countries are ensured unimpeded and indiscriminate access to the international market for their products and goods. Nicholas Lardy, a china scholar, predicted that china, as it gained ground in the organization, would demand changes in the informal governance structures that have previously allowed the developed economies to shape the WTO’s agenda. More concretely, a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assesses that China is likely to press for reform of WTO antidumping rules, to guard against attempts to use labor and environmental issues as disguises for protectionism, and possibly to push for a reduction of agricultural subsidies.”
The developing countries would logically welcome such support.
In sum - 1. ASEAN by itself seeks to expand economic ties with China, Japan South Korea, including an East Asian Summit. This is the alternative to WTO while developing nations await more transparency and reforms in the WTO.
2. Said transparency and reforms are politically and economically beneficial not only to third world countries but to developed nations as well, and just as a house divided cannot stand a world starkly riven between rich and poor nations cannot long endure.
3. The political flashpoints in Asia are Taiwan and North Korea but time and understanding of the basic issues are peacefully resolving themselves. The battle against terrorism will be won as poverty diminishes, as justice becomes more prevalent in organized institutions.
4. ASEAN faces a big challenge. In the Philippines for example we must resolutely implement information technology at all levels and assiduously prepare for the parameters of trade and investment - for the true wealth of the nation is not only in human capacity that we harness but also in the natural resources we tap and give value added to.


Stand For the Filipino
Tito Guingona

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, custody of any United States personnel over whom the Philippines is to exercise jurisdiction shall immediately reside with US military authorities if they so request. But this does not mean that the warrant of arrest should not be served on said personnel . For the warrant issued by our courts after probable cause symbolizes the commencement of jurisdiction and the recognition of the same by the respondents. The inequity of denying service of warrant will aggravate further should the motion to include the Filipino driver in the case be granted – where we must then serve a warrant against him after having been starkly denied the Americans in the same case. The information and the warrant of arrest serve as the basis for arraignment and future trial, not the say so of US military authorities. And under our constitution section 5 Article V111, it is the Supreme Court who promulgates rules of procedure, not the VFA. As far as I know Rules on Warrants of Arrest have not been amended.
An American statesman once said “we formulate foreign policy to serve our own interests, but we expect others to act for the protection of their own. Thru diplomacy and diligence we hope to attain agreements that in soul and essence will prove beneficial to the parties concerned.” Article VI of the Visiting Forces Agreement provides for just compensation yet negates it in jurisdiction. Let us say that an American serviceman driving a tank in the course of joint exercises kills a civilian and destroys his humble residence. A duty certificate is issued by the US commander and criminal jurisdiction is vested with the United States. The heirs deserve civil compensation, especially because they are poor. They cannot file a claim against the US serviceman because of the duty certificate. They cannot file a claim against the US government here because the US has not waived sovereign immunity from suit. They can only file against the US government in the United States in accordance with US law. The venue is therefore changed. The heirs are Filipinos yet they cannot file claims for losses in their own land. Thy can only file in the US, far away, under a foreign law. How will they go there when they cannot afford? How will they cope with the intricacies involved in a foreign claim? How will they pay for foreign lawyers whose services tick by the hour? In the case of Hoechst Philippines vs. Torres, 83 SCRA 279 our Supreme Court no less declared that a change in venue which makes it virtually impossible for a poor litigant to go to court may be declared contrary to public policy.
Yet many nations waive sovereign immunity. In l983 Australia waived its sovereign immunity here when their forces participated in “Exercise Cope Thunder 83 -5”, thereby giving consent to be sued by Filipino claimants in Philippine courts for damages caused by acts of Australian military forces or their civilian components n the course of military exercises.
Should Congress decide to review the present Visiting Forces Agreement perhaps they can cover not only the inequities in the Agreement itself, but also other agreements which should have been sent to the senate for concurrence. Not all international or bilateral agreements are mandated for concurrence by the senate. Executive Agreements that merely implement an existing law or detail an established policy need no such concurrence. Our government has entered into a number of agreements that do not fall under this category. But they have not been submitted to the senate. Why?
In l998 representatives of many nations including the Philippines met in Rome to create an International Criminal Court of Justice for the purpose of trying those who commit crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. It became effective in 2002 after the ratification by participating nations reached the required number.The Philippines was a signatory to the Rome Statute; but the papers for approval have not been sent to the senate. Why?
Is it because the US has chosen not to be a party to that international treaty? It appears so – because their own law, The Patriot Act, says the US will desist from giving aid and benefits to nations who become parties to the – it also entered into a no surrender agreement with the US. On May 9, 2003 then Secretary Blas F. Ople wrote a letter to the US which embodies the terms of said agreement .Let us say that in the course of joint RP-US military exercises, abuses like torture and war crimes are committed by certain government officials, employees including contractors, military personnel, or nationals of either party. A complaint is filed with the International Criminal Court of Justice against them and the Court decides to take appropriate action, but that road is now blocked by the agreement that binds either the Philippine and American governments not to surrender the persons cited without the consent of the other. In other words, an American serviceman so accused cannot be surrendered to that International Court without our consent just as a Filipino soldier cannot be turned over without the consent of the US. Whatever the merits – the pertinent papers covering the Rome Statute and the No Surrender agreement should have been sent to the senate as required by the constitution. It is incumbent for the government, not just the Executive to decide.
Finally, there exists a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement signed on November 21, 2002 by the Department of national Defense represented by Commodore Ernesto de Leon and the US Department of Defense represented by Col. Mathias R. Velasco binding the parties to give support to construction of facilities like seaports pursuant to the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.