Who Watches the Watchmen?

19 01 2011


Courtesy of Getty Images

When disgruntled former senior inspector Rolando Mendoza of the Manila Police District (MPD) stormed and hijacked a tour bus carrying 25 people, 20 of whom are from Hong Kong on August 23rd of 2010, he set the world’s eyes on the Philippines and the world was about to find out the inadequate handling of the Justice and Legal system that Filipino families have lived through for generations.


On Tuesday, the Department of Interior and local Government (DILG) and National Police Commission (NALPOLCOM) chairman Jesse M. Robredo had been on the job for only 6 months before scandals littered his office with inquiries –


What will the Police Commission do to discipline and guide the department out of a national crisis?  150 dismissed cops became the scapegoat to a larger issue of corruption.


Policeman in Manila tortures a man for stealing

A Youtube video gone viral internationally also showcased the Philippine National Police (PNP) who swore an oath to serve and protect the people but tortured a man for stealing.  The tortured man was whipped and had his genitals pulled by a rope.


From the cases, it was learned that two top DILG officials who are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were “not seeing eye-to-eye” and were fighting over the department’s resources and control.


Failure from the government to properly and diligently handle the police crisis prompted several foreign governments to issue a traveling ban to the Philippines.  Worst, the Filipino people were ashamed and alarmed of the national scandals that seemed to make headlines every week.  Filipino confidence in their protectors eroded.


Since then, nearly 800 policemen faced dismissal, almost 700 policemen were forced to undergo retraining of PNP values and ethics, 14 more cops were implicated in rape and kidnapping within the first week of the new year, and the PNP Chief Director Raul Balcalzo was implicated in connection with Jueteng.  If the PNP are the civilian’s watchmen, then who watches the watchmen?


It is no wonder that many Indigenous communities in the Cordillera who have always protected their land, people, and resources through Indigenous practices are wary of PNP outsiders to disrupt the order of peace.  If there are PNP retraining, let this be a serious wake up call.  The police should not be above the law and should also be retrained to answer to the people they serve and the nation they represent.  Since this government and police force is tainted with corruption, graft and theft, civilians and third party watchdogs should be watching over the PNP for any corruption and human rights violations.





18 05 2010

Pleasantville's storyline, cinematography, themes comes together brilliantly

Pleasantville (1998) came out when I was still in High School.  It was written, directed, and produced by Gary Ross and starred Tobey Maguire, Reese Weatherspoon, and William H. Macy.

The film is possibly my favorite movie from the 90’s.  The sharp themes here critique contemporary culture and history in the mainstream and portrays the ridiculous behavior that can arise from our own fears.

I’m no Tobey Maguire or Reese Weatherspoon but Gary Ross did a fabulous job with weaving the storyline and getting the most out of his actors.

Old vs New

The constant theme that runs through this movie is change- the old, the familiar-that which we are comfortable with is shown in black and white while change and adjustment is shown in color.

Old ideas and traditions sometimes has to be broken – Women depicted in the American past were shown as just housewives responsible for  cooking and greeting guests, new ideas were considered dangerous, and, in the extreme case, books were burned or laws were created to stop the spread of new ideas.  In history, art was used as a weapon to challenge the status quo.


The reference in the courtroom, showed the colors sitting on top which mimics the treatment of African Americans in America during the jim crow days.  The rationale behind the laws which mandates the segregation is based on fear of difference and fear of the unknown.  In American society, this fear was manipulated by the landowners to portray African Americans as slaves and hypersexualized beasts you would want your daughters to be near.  However, landowners frequently raped their slaves or servants.

The Bible

Perhaps one of my favorite scene is when Tobey Maguire’s character receives an apple from his date while on a picnic near the lake.  This is the exact reference to the Garden of Eden except no one is corrupting anyone although the film constantly refers to the old thinking that introducing new concepts and ideas is a form of corruption, a disease that must be dealt with.  Contemporary society, we can still see the manifestation of this craze, that the notion of evolution is beyond belief while the notion of god is a constant reality not to be challenged.

I can’t stand bad movies-a waste of 2 hours of my life.  Pleasantville on the otherhand, is a movie I recommend to those who never seen it.

153902003 registered voters?

12 05 2010


With all the problems with this year’s election, can we really celebrate the success of it?  PCOS Machine failures, failures to transmit, Vote buying, Long queues… The COMELEC was warned of these issues but continue to push for the May 10th Automated Elections despite the warnings.  They did little to nothing to bring Clean and Fair Elections.

Change?  The people went to the polls to vote for change.  We came out with  Marcos, Aquinos, and Arroyos still in power. The guy that helped author the much despised Value Added Tax (VAT), Ralph Recto, will he’s still in power too.  In fact, most incumbents who were in power are still in power.  The media did little to promote candidates platforms.

Even Partylists systems were a failure this year.  Partylists nominees are suppose to come from the marginalize sectors.  However, several of the former President’s administration reps enter the Partylist system as a backdoor entrance to congress.

So much for clean and fair  2010 automated elections!  That doesn’t mean we should wait til next election and HOPE for change.  The people should still demand change and hold the “elected” body responsible.

The Amazing Race: Pinas style

12 03 2010

Racing to beat the Sunset

After many years of no television, I decided to follow my favorite Television show again, The Amazing Race on CBS.  I often imagine how I’ll do on The Amazing Race- will I break down mentally, how about physically?  Will I be annoyed with those around me that I have to work with?  Will I let my competitive nature get the best of me?

Anyhow, my adventure thus yet has been like the Amazing Race to get progressive candidates elected through a pro-people’s agenda.

1.  Travel Light.  You must be ready to bring an extra set of clothes if you plan to stay longer than 2 days.  Included in your bag should be your prop materials including a coke bottle if your a coke addict like me (thanks Lainerz).  Don’t forget your shoes!  Those blisters are not kind to the foot.  And if you want to wear a Polo shirt while hiking, don’t expect to wear it during community discussions later on.

2.  Motivation.  If you don’t have motivation, the sun will beat you and you will be left out on the dusty road (that is if its still el nino season).  You need the motivation in order to go out to the community and face the challenges of getting the people to understand your points and answer any questions they may have.  If you lack the motivation, this race ain’t for you.

The front backpack is filled with KATRIBU, Satur Ocampo, and Liza Maza fliers, calendars, and posters. The backpack hiding behind is filled with clothes for 2 people and HAPIT, the quarterly magazine released by the Cordillera People's Alliance (CPA)

Transportation of Metal Roofs/walls

3.  Okay, for the purpose of having fun here.  You have encountered your next challenge after successfully thinking you are jesus and can walk through the rice terraces without problem.  You open your yellow challenge card and read the following:

You can either choose option 1:  where you chew full bag of moma while you butcher a Manok (chicken) and pluck its feathers before cooking it before the hour is up or choose option 2:  Carry several loads of metal roof pieces down the mountain on 5 trips.  This is how the locals transfer materials to build a house.  You have an hour to finish this task.

Finally, as your day winds down and you find out your still in the race, make sure you wind down with some of the local rice coffee.  You will be amazed with its unique taste and healthy benefits.  This drink is for those who can not stand herbal tea and coffee beans are not available.  You simply overcook your rice and burn it until it turns black before you pour hot water into it and let it simmer.

In the end of today, despite the machinery of Noynoy and his overuse of his mom’s popularity and sisters beauty, Villar has been able to narrow the race with the help of MAKABAYAN coalition and their platform to nationalize the economy, to undergo a peace talks, and its pro-people agenda.  Villar and Legarda who are the 2 nominees for the Nationalista Party (NP) will have to unite their party and make very few mistakes.

In the meantime, even if the MAKABAYAN coalition and NP wins politically, it will still be an uphill climb for reforms and change with an already established corrupt political system that isolates the people that put the politicians in power.  However, despite these limitation the MAKABAYAN coalition will fight hard for the people as they’ve proven over time.

NOTE:  According to many news reports, this is the deadliest election thus yet with another candidate running shot in Quezon.  Maguindanao Massacre has been devastating for the peace and democratic election process.  After releasing a memo last week saying the Comelec will not be able to print all 50 million ballots required, they are now reversing their overall position on the matter.  Stay tune to see if these rolling blackouts will affect the automated elections.

IRDC scales mountains to campaign for KATRIBU and progressive candidates

6 03 2010


Staff and Volunteers from Ifugao Resource and Development Center (IRDC) headed to the various municipalities in Ifugao Province to campaign for KATRIBU partylist (Partylist #158).

The Partylist which was founded by 25 Indigenous Peoples Organizations from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao promises for a just and peaceful soecity with the believe that each person has the significant role of defining the economic, social-cultural and political life of the whole Philippines.

Dogged by the military and slammed by corrupt government officials as being linked to communist organizations, KATRIBU refutes the allegations as part of the governments attempt to paint KATRIBU as subversive.

Go tell it to the Mountain

In fact, the government through its military arm attempts to go house to house and intimidate communities into not voting for progressive partylists.  KATRIBU Partylist like the other progressive partylist works hard on the ground to ensure social economic programs are realized.  The campaign coordinators, staff, and volunteers are well connected to their constituents.

The IRDC which is a member provincial chapter of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) is a strong supporter of KATRIBU because of the aim to foster inter tribal unity, the protection of the environment, culture and heritage, the dedication to eradicate poverty among Indigenous People.  KATRIBU’s commitment to Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Welfare has earned the endorsement of the IRDC through the CPA.

IRDC also chose to endorse and campaign for Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza for Senator for the hard work they have done to raise the bar in government accountability and service to the people.  Their peoples’ agenda fits perfectly with KATRIBU’s.

No matter where the military sticks its guns in communities, the staff and volunteers will be there to heed the will of the people and no matter how steep the mountains are to get KATRIBU elected, KATRIBU shall echo the collective will of the Indigenous People.

When the Nazis came for the communists

7 10 2008

When the Nazis came for the communists, 
I remained silent; 
I was not a communist. 

When they locked up the social democrats, 
I remained silent; 
I was not a social democrat. 

When they came for the trade unionists, 
I did not speak out; 
I was not a trade unionist. 

When they came for the Jews, 
I remained silent; 
I wasn’t a Jew. 

When they came for me, 
there was no one left to speak out.

This was written by Martin Niemoller with the intent of persuading the common person to speak out to defend basic and human rights no matter if you’re different.  What was going on in germany happens all over the world and it is up to us everyday people to stand up.  Does that mean going to the election booth to vote? not necessarily… because voting does not ensure democracy… think about that one.