August 2010

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Slain hostage-taker Sr. Inspector Rolando Mendoza

The hijacking and hostage-taking of a tourist bus at Luneta (Rizal Park) in front of the Quirino Grandstand — where President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was inaugurated 55 days earlier — resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists and the hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza. It was an incident that will hurt the image of the Philippines for a long time.

Could the incident have been avoided? Maybe. Could the deaths have been avoided? Yes! And that’s the saddest part because the bloodbath that happened after the 11-hour standoff between the Manila Police and the hostage-taker is a big embarrassment for the fledgling Aquino administration.

On the surface what we saw was an inept SWAT squad that made a tragicomedic spectacle of themselves — on television — trying to free the hostages. But what we saw was just the tip of an iceberg. In my opinion, the root of the problem goes deep, deeper than what we have seen.

Good cop

The slain hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Captain Rolando Mendoza, was a good cop when he began his career as a police officer in 1981. During the first 28 years of his career, Mendoza received the Medalya ng Papuri (Medal of Honor), PNP Badge of Honor, Medalya ng Kasanayan (Medal of Competence), Medalya ng Kagalingan (Medal of Excellence) and Medalya ng Paglilingkod (Medal of Service). In 1986, he was recognized by Jaycees International as one of the “Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines” of that year.

He was promoted to Inspector in 2002 and Senior Inspector with the rank of Captain in 2005. With retirement in sight and scheduled for January 10, 2011, Mendoza enjoyed the accolades he received and the good reputation he built with honesty and dedication. Indeed, he was on top of the world. Then suddenly in April 2008, in a twist of fate, the world turned upside down on him when he was implicated in a “hulidap” — false arrest (huli) and holdup — caper involving several other cops.

Bad Cop

Soon after, criminal and administrative charges were filed against them following an investigation which was triggered by an email (“Beware of a group of Manila cops”) that circulated in the Internet. The email sender accused them of extorting money from his son, Christian Kalaw, who was arrested for alleged parking violation and drug possession, forced to eat “shabu,” and then extorted P20,000 from him for his release and dropping of the case.

Mendoza was meted a 90-day preventive suspension. After the suspension he was reinstated and scheduled to be reassigned to Mindanao. However, on February 16, 2009, Mendoza was abruptly dismissed from his job by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez while his case was still pending and under investigation. As a consequence, Mendoza lost all his retirement benefits and permanently disqualified from government employment. Mendoza denied any involvement in the crime and claimed that his constitutional right of due process was violated. He asked for a reconsideration of his dismissal but nothing came out of it. Some people believed — including a doctor — that this led Mendoza to depression.

On August 23, 2010, Mendoza snapped and went berserk.

Root cause

The question is: What was the root cause of the transformation of Mendoza from a good cop to a bad cop? And when did that transformation occur?

A few decades ago, Manila Police was known as “Manila’s Finest” when cops wore their badges with pride and dedication. They were then respected — and trusted — by the citizens they served. They were the protector of the people. But somewhere along the way, the police force gradually transformed from protector to predator. Instead of the police protecting the citizens from criminals, the citizens had to protect themselves from criminals within the police force.

In the 1990s, a spate of kidnapping-for-ransom activities involving a lot of policemen occurred victimizing rich — mostly Chinese — businessmen. Many cases remained unresolved and ended up in limbo.

Last August 26, Senior Superintendent Francisco Villaroman was appointed acting Manila Police District Chief to replace Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, who was relieved because he ordered the bungled rescue operation to save the hostages taken by Mendoza at the Rizal Park. On the same day, sources in the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed that the Hong Kong Department of Justice had written Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and inquired about an old case against Villaroman who was charged with the abduction and subsequent disappearance of two Hong Kong nationals 12 years ago. The following day, barely 24 hours after Villaroman took over his new post, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa relieved him due to the existing criminal case against him.

According to documents in the possession of Inquirer, Villaroman was involved with the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and the PNP Narcotics Group who abducted Chong Hiu Ming and Wong Kam Chong in 1998 and 1999, respectively, for ransom. The allegation was made by Mary Ong, who was then the principal agent in the operations. During an interview with the media last August 26, Ong said: “The two operations started out as legitimate operations but in the end they became more about the police abducting and killing suspected drug lords and selling the drugs for money. It became a money-making scheme.”

According to Ong, the illegal operations were about to be exposed by the former Nargroup intelligence chief, Superintendent John Campos, when he was killed in December 2002 in Parañaque City. Since then, the case dead-ended.

Police corruption

With all the “hulidap” extortion activities that have been going on around the country — just google “hulidap” and you’ll see how widespread it is — involving criminal elements in the police force, Noynoy has a big challenge ahead of him if he is serious about eradicating corruption. And police corruption is the worst kind because it victimizes the powerless people.

Can Noynoy do it? Yes, but he has to be more hands-on in dealing with this kind of problems. His hands-off policy during the hostage-taking standoff does not bode well with a citizenry that expects its leader to take the bull by its horns and subdue it with his bare hands. What Noynoy’s 90 million “bosses” want to see is a “take-charge” leader and that’s the image that Noynoy should project of himself. Anything less wouldn’t cut it.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

PerryScope
by Perry Diaz

Slain hostage-taker Sr. Inspector Rolando Mendoza

The hijacking and hostage-taking of a tourist bus at Luneta (Rizal Park) in front of the Quirino Grandstand — where President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was inaugurated 55 days earlier — resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists and the hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza. It was an incident that will hurt the image of the Philippines for a long time.

Could the incident have been avoided? Maybe. Could the deaths have been avoided? Yes! And that’s the saddest part because the bloodbath that happened after the 11-hour standoff between the Manila Police and the hostage-taker is a big embarrassment for the fledgling Aquino administration.

On the surface what we saw was an inept SWAT squad that made a tragicomedic spectacle of themselves — on television — trying to free the hostages. But what we saw was just the tip of an iceberg. In my opinion, the root of the problem goes deep, deeper than what we have seen.

Good cop

The slain hostage-taker, dismissed Senior Inspector Captain Rolando Mendoza, was a good cop when he began his career as a police officer in 1981. During the first 28 years of his career, Mendoza received the Medalya ng Papuri (Medal of Honor), PNP Badge of Honor, Medalya ng Kasanayan (Medal of Competence), Medalya ng Kagalingan (Medal of Excellence) and Medalya ng Paglilingkod (Medal of Service). In 1986, he was recognized by Jaycees International as one of the “Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines” of that year.

He was promoted to Inspector in 2002 and Senior Inspector with the rank of Captain in 2005. With retirement in sight and scheduled for January 10, 2011, Mendoza enjoyed the accolades he received and the good reputation he built with honesty and dedication. Indeed, he was on top of the world. Then suddenly in April 2008, in a twist of fate, the world turned upside down on him when he was implicated in a “hulidap” — false arrest (huli) and holdup — caper involving several other cops.

Bad Cop

Soon after, criminal and administrative charges were filed against them following an investigation which was triggered by an email (“Beware of a group of Manila cops”) that circulated in the Internet. The email sender accused them of extorting money from his son, Christian Kalaw, who was arrested for alleged parking violation and drug possession, forced to eat “shabu,” and then extorted P20,000 from him for his release and dropping of the case.

Mendoza was meted a 90-day preventive suspension. After the suspension he was reinstated and scheduled to be reassigned to Mindanao. However, on February 16, 2009, Mendoza was abruptly dismissed from his job by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez while his case was still pending and under investigation. As a consequence, Mendoza lost all his retirement benefits and permanently disqualified from government employment. Mendoza denied any involvement in the crime and claimed that his constitutional right of due process was violated. He asked for a reconsideration of his dismissal but nothing came out of it. Some people believed — including a doctor — that this led Mendoza to depression.

On August 23, 2010, Mendoza snapped and went berserk.

Root cause

The question is: What was the root cause of the transformation of Mendoza from a good cop to a bad cop? And when did that transformation occur?

A few decades ago, Manila Police was known as “Manila’s Finest” when cops wore their badges with pride and dedication. They were then respected — and trusted — by the citizens they served. They were the protector of the people. But somewhere along the way, the police force gradually transformed from protector to predator. Instead of the police protecting the citizens from criminals, the citizens had to protect themselves from criminals within the police force.

In the 1990s, a spate of kidnapping-for-ransom activities involving a lot of policemen occurred victimizing rich — mostly Chinese — businessmen. Many cases remained unresolved and ended up in limbo.

Last August 26, Senior Superintendent Francisco Villaroman was appointed acting Manila Police District Chief to replace Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, who was relieved because he ordered the bungled rescue operation to save the hostages taken by Mendoza at the Rizal Park. On the same day, sources in the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed that the Hong Kong Department of Justice had written Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and inquired about an old case against Villaroman who was charged with the abduction and subsequent disappearance of two Hong Kong nationals 12 years ago. The following day, barely 24 hours after Villaroman took over his new post, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa relieved him due to the existing criminal case against him.

According to documents in the possession of Inquirer, Villaroman was involved with the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and the PNP Narcotics Group who abducted Chong Hiu Ming and Wong Kam Chong in 1998 and 1999, respectively, for ransom. The allegation was made by Mary Ong, who was then the principal agent in the operations. During an interview with the media last August 26, Ong said: “The two operations started out as legitimate operations but in the end they became more about the police abducting and killing suspected drug lords and selling the drugs for money. It became a money-making scheme.”

According to Ong, the illegal operations were about to be exposed by the former Nargroup intelligence chief, Superintendent John Campos, when he was killed in December 2002 in Parañaque City. Since then, the case dead-ended.

Police corruption

With all the “hulidap” extortion activities that have been going on around the country — just google “hulidap” and you’ll see how widespread it is — involving criminal elements in the police force, Noynoy has a big challenge ahead of him if he is serious about eradicating corruption. And police corruption is the worst kind because it victimizes the powerless people.

Can Noynoy do it? Yes, but he has to be more hands-on in dealing with this kind of problems. His hands-off policy during the hostage-taking standoff does not bode well with a citizenry that expects its leader to take the bull by its horns and subdue it with his bare hands. What Noynoy’s 90 million “bosses” want to see is a “take-charge” leader and that’s the image that Noynoy should project of himself. Anything less wouldn’t cut it.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

by Marites Dañguilan Vitug
from Newsbreak
 
Excerpts from the Nicanor Reyes memorial lecture delivered by the author at the Far Eastern University on August 25, 2010.

The most secretive branch of government, the Supreme Court, is also the most special. It is often described as the soul of a country, the conscience of a people.

The Justices belong to a different league. They are unelected—to insulate them from politics and not to subject them to the whims as well as the compromises of politicians and power brokers. They are not chosen on the basis of popularity. They are supposed to be chosen on the basis of integrity and competence, on their loyalty to the law and to the common good, not to any one person.

It is easy to be romantic about the Supreme Court. The men and women in robes are compared to demigods perched on a mountain top, unreachable by common man. They deliberate on cases and make decisions secluded in their chambers, supposedly with fidelity to the Constitution and fairness and honesty as their guides.

Think of it this way. In a basketball game, when there are questions or complaints about close calls, on who committed a foul, we look to the referee to resolve this. It is important that the referee be fair, that he sticks to the rules so that his decision is credible.

In essence, by being a credible arbiter, the Supreme Court restores order in society and provides stability. Thus it is hugely important that we have a Supreme Court that we can trust and believe in, and on whom we can place our full confidence.

This means that we should be able to hold the 15 Justices of the Supreme Court in highest esteem. They are not perfect—but they should believe in serving the country through their well-considered decisions, arrived at through rigorous inquiry, influenced by the public good.

As final arbiter, the Court is right even when it is wrong. We cannot appeal their decisions—the buck stops with the Supreme Court.

It is therefore important to have upright justices. They should not be corrupt, dishonest, and unethical. If they are, then this will erode our faith in the judicial system. It’s like losing our soul. It’s like losing a conscience.

Crisis of ethics?

Justices are guided by a code of judicial conduct. But more than that, they should be men and women of impeccable integrity, and of solid character. If they are to be our soul and our conscience—we shouldn’t expect anything less.

A current ethical issue facing the Court is a Justice’s alleged plagiarism of parts of a decision he wrote. Two of the plagiarized authors have written the Supreme Court to complain.

But the legal community is divided. The University of the Philippines College of Law faculty has asked Justice Mariano del Castillo, who was the author of the decision, to resign. What example will this give the law students? they asked.

The Ateneo law faculty was more cautious, saying that the verdict on this case should be left to the Court’s ethics committee which is now investigating it.

So far, the ethics committee has asked Del Castillo to inhibit himself in current deliberations on the case where he allegedly plagiarized.

If this were another country, erring justices would have been sanctioned or asked to resign. In the US, a judge was publicly censured for plagiarizing an article he submitted for publication in a law review.

In Australia, a federal court magistrate was forced to resign in 2006 after she was exposed as a serial plagiarist. She was found to have copied verbatim a number of judgments of other magistrates and passed them off as her own.

BulldozerHow does the public perceive the Court?

In March this year, a Social Weather Stations survey showed that the Supreme Court’s satisfaction rating was a +9, down from +18 in the previous quarter. The Court’s rating is slightly higher than that of Congress which got a +7. This is not very encouraging.

In this same survey, then Chief Justice Reynato Puno’s satisfaction rating was zero, almost the same as +1 in December 2009.

What happened during this period when the survey was conducted?

That was the time we saw, in full view, how the Supreme Court forgot the Constitution and put premium on loyalty to one person, President Gloria Arroyo.

I’m not a lawyer but I understand plain English. So when I read the provision in the Constitution banning appointments 60 days before the elections and up to the end of the president’s term, it was crystal clear to me what the sentence meant. Apparently, nine Supreme Court justices have a different understanding of the English language.

Appointments could not be made during this particular season—which comes only every six years—so that a president cannot use this potent power to serve selfish interests.

The nine Supreme Court justices seemed to have used another kind of lens when they read this. In doing so, they bulldozed through decades of precedents.

What the highest court of the land did was actually to exempt themselves from the appointments ban—not the lower courts, not the Sandiganbayan or Court of Appeals.

‘Right a wrong’

This led President Aquino to take his oath before Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, who dissented in the midnight appointment case. This showed that Aquino disagreed with the Supreme Court decision.

Presidents can openly disagree with the Supreme Court. President Diosdado Macapagal was very upset when the Supreme Court rebuffed him when it ruled that his suspension of a Cabinet member was unconstitutional.

In particular, he was incensed by what he called the “uncordial language” of one of the justices. “When a Justice gets down to the level of a politician and insults me, I will fight him…I will never allow a Justice to ridicule the President of this country…” he said angrily.

President Obama, in his state of the union address in January this year, chastised the US Supreme Court for allowing corporations to fund election campaigns. He said: “…the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”

In this case, Obama asked Congress to “right a wrong.”

District for GMA’s son

In another case in our country, the Supreme Court affirmed that the new district in Camarines Sur carved out to accommodate the former President’s son, Dato Arroyo, is constitutional despite the fact that its population is less than that required by law.

Nine justices decided in favor of creating this additional district.

The additional district gave the Arroyos’ ally, former Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr., a place where he can run. It prevented a collision between Dato and Andaya.

Joaquin Bernas, one of the framers of our Constitution, was bristling in his column in the Inquirer : “Unfortunately, piecemeal reapportionment continues to have the blessings of the Supreme Court. A deliberate act of Congress creating disproportion and blessed by the Supreme Court is not only unconstitutional but also disgraceful.”

Character

At the end of the day, character and leadership—two things we have come to take for granted—hugely matter.

I hope the public becomes more aware of what happens inside the Supreme Court and keep watch over the so-called last bulwark of democracy, our nation’s soul.

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

The bungled hostage rescue operation last Monday was clearly a case of a police failure coupled with irresponsible broadcast journalism. That incident is a sad commentary of what is wrong in our country. Incompetence coupled with irresponsibility had concocted a deadly brew.

Tragedies like the Police Captain Rolando Mendoza Luneta incident attract vultures. It is especially irresistible to the political species of vultures.

Opposition leader Rep. Edcel Lagman immediately grabbed the opportunity to undermine the political standing of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), even calling for the resignation of Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Communications Secretaries Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) spokesperson Elena B. Horn chimed in and said that the GMA regime handled similar hostage crises well using the same police force. Thus, she attributed the tragedy to the new leadership.

One could have been swayed by Lagman and Horn’s assertions if the horrors we underwent under the GMA regime were not too recent to forget. How come both of them served with ease the sinister agenda of the disgraced GMA regime, the most distrusted presidency in our history? Do you ever recall Rep. Lagman asking for the resignation of a GMA regime official in the face of a mega scandal? He did the opposite and defended the GMA regime.

Both the political adversaries of P-Noy and our media (noted for a lack of critical thinking) raised the issue – where was P-Noy during the hostage crisis? As Jesse Robredo explained during last Thursday’s Senate Public Order Committee Hearing, the P-Noy administration opted to allow the institutions to work and handle the situation. It is not P-Noy’s job to be physically present at the Luneta but to remain on top of the situation in a command post. That is what he did.

It is political bovine ordure to assert that a president has to be on site during a hostage crisis. GMA may be inclined to do it. After all, she had brought the presidency to its lowest level of appreciation and practically ruined our institutions. But P-Noy is committed to rebuilding these damaged institutions and is trusted enough by our people so as not to resort to these cheap stunts like playing “Rambo” during a hostage crisis.

Last Thursday’s Senate Hearing provided enlightenment as well irritating aggravation of the hostage tragedy. Thanks to the professional and objective questioning by Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Gringo Honasan, Kiko Pangilinan and Alan Peter Cayetano we were able to form a clearer picture of what really happened. They all conducted themselves in accordance with the set decorum for an investigation in aid of legislation.

That is something Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla seem to fail to understand. These two Senators from showbiz conducted themselves like they were part of the Spanish Inquisition instead of a Senate investigation in aid of legislation. Estrada appeared to be more interested in putting Manila Mayor Fred Lim in a very bad light instead of searching for solutions to the problem via legislation. Lim and the Estrada political family have ceased to be allies.

Another scarred figure that appeared in the aftermath of the hostage crisis was ABS-CBN’s Maria Ressa. Guesting in their ANC program “Media on Focus” Ressa attempted to absolve ABS-CBN from the flak generated by the irresponsible live TV coverage which allowed the hostage taker to view the arrest of his brother. It was the sight of his brother Gregorio being dragged to jail which triggered Captain Mendoza’s rampage.

Ressa tried to defend their network by citing three instances where they exercised self restraint. However, she cannot deny the fact that they participated in the live coverage of developments which caused the breakdown of negotiations. The live TV coverage of the police rescue maneuvers, which the hostage taker could monitor, enabled Captain Mendoza to thwart the assault for more than 45 minutes. Come to think of it, Ressa has not really fully justified their network’s airing of the Fake Psychiatric Report that was used against then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. 

It is also pathetic of our media to be making such a big fuss out of Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s failed call to P-Noy. This is a reflection of our damaged culture. It did not even occur to them that they’re making a big fuss over something which is not even allowed by protocol. If there is anyone who should call P-Noy because they are on the same level as national leaders it is China’s Premier Hu Jintao. Nobody in the Hong Kong hierarchy is in a position to address P-Noy, much less demand anything from him. Still, our idiotic media pandered to Tsang’s whims and demands.

Donald Tsang and his cohorts may be under the illusion that they’ve got us by the neck because of the many Filipinos working there. Yes, that is a leverage Tsang has but our leverage with China is even bigger. China needs our minerals and Chinese security is screwed if P-Noy goes all the way with the real US agenda in Mindanao. Hasn’t anybody noticed how come the Chinese Ambassador is quite the opposite of Donald Tsang – very subdued and accommodating to the P-Noy administration?

The Chinese Ambassador knows about their big interest in our country. Being a mere local governor, Donald Tsang does not need to know this. Unaware of how important we are to China, Tsang can only address his local problems. It comes as no surprise that he must show the Hong Kong community that he is reacting to the Luneta tragedy in a manner that reflects the sentiments of his constituents.

As usual, we tend to overreact and psych ourselves to the point of hysteria. There is this great fear, which our local media fuel, that the Hong Kong Chinese will harm our workers there. Nobody ever bothered to think that China – and Hong Kong went back to China in 1997 – is a much disciplined state. China will not tolerate a racial persecution like the persecution of the Chinese in Indonesia during the 1990s.

Public disorder is the biggest fear of the Chinese leadership. They are so big and populous and the Chinese leaders see any public disorder as a potential mayhem virus that could infect the entire country. That is why they clamped down hard on the peaceful protesters at Tiananmen Square.

The Luneta hostage tragedy is deeply regretted and we all bear the shame it brought our country. However, we cannot let that derail the big headway we’ve made with the recent change in leadership here. We have to move on, the sooner the better.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website: macesposo@yahoo.com and www.chairwrecker.com

by Narciso Ner
from The Mindanao Examiner
 
IF THE LAPDOGS of the shameless Gloria Arroyo think that they can resurrect her image with the press releases and comments they have made in connection with the bungled hostage rescue operation, they are wrong.

Her spokesperson Bautista-Horn said that “The Arroyo administration had trained and equipped policemen well to handle crisis situation.”

Well, Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, former PNP’s NCRC chief said that the SWAT did not have the basic equipment and only few are sent abroad for training. The 2.85 Billion pesos Gloria Arroyo spent for foreign trips could have found better use where even a small portion of it could have gone to PNP for SWAT’s equipment and foreign training.

Rep. Danilo Suarez, the guy who claimed to have paid for the lavish meal of Arroyo and party in US said that Arroyo was decisive citing the seizure of the NAIA control tower in 2003 by Capt Panfilo Villareal. If I may recall, there was no hostage nor was there an immediate threat to the general public.

The retired commercial pilot and former chief of Air Transportation Office was airing the corruption of the Arroyo regime with an ABS personality when the SWAT rushed in and fired indiscriminately mangling the poor man’s face.

They also tried to compare the alleged success in the Oakwood and Manila Peninsula incidents with this recent one which is like comparing apples with oranges because the former were in a building while the latter was in a bus. Also, the military men who where holed up decided not to fight it out which is far cry from the tourist bus incident.

A member of the Feliciano Commission that looked into the July 2003 Oakwood incident said that the recent hostage crisis could be traced to Gloria Arroyo’s failure to appreciate the Commission’s suggestion of counterterrorism by failing to form a dedicated counterterrorism group.

They are also making so much hype on the two letters Arroyo wrote. However, the question is on its propriety. She is just a representative of a district in a province and I believe that she should have waited for the President of the Republic to write an official and formal letter in behalf of the Filipino people before she sent hers.

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.com/news.php?news_id=20100828222814

by Leandro D. Quintana

The tragic death of 8 Chinese tourists at the hands of suspended policeman Rolando Mendoza is a sad yet bloody reminder that the Philippines can be a dangerous place even for foreigners who had entrusted their care, and lives, into the hands of our tourism industry. News of the carnage is plastered in major global newspapers including today’s (Aug 25) issues of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. TV news accounts are even more graphic and macabre.

Needless to say the Philippines will not be a favorite vacation spot for many Chinese and others. For now, this is the very least of our worries even if the country can surely use the lost tourism dollars.

The word “incompetence” has been used in describing the law enforcement actions and overall performance in handling and managing this crisis. Yet, in my opinion, what really ails our law enforcement and military establishments, the two institutions charged with ensuring the peace and security of the Philippine citizenry, is corruption at all levels of these organizations. It is no secret that police and military positions are highly coveted. They are sure fire routes to riches. From traffic control to vice squad to theft, burglaries and other major crimes, the common perception among the people is that law and justice is there only for the rich and powerful. For all the rest, the small businessman, the employees, the housewives, the students, the street vendors trying to eke out a living – those people once referred to by Ramon Magsaysay as the common tao- the amount of justice they can expect is commensurate to how much they are prepared to shell out to those who wield authority and power. I’m sure there are honest military and law enforcement personnel but these seem to be so rare that one hardly hears of them.

It is corruption that undermines competence and professionalism. How does a policeman get a job on the force? Usually via a note or a phone call or direct personal intercession by a political padrino. And once on the force the policeman’s “untouchability” is vastly proportionate to the importance and clout of his or her patron.

Let’s take a close look at the case of the late Rolando Mendoza, the gunman in this tragedy. What drove him to take his desperate act? Perhaps the realization that unless he got reinstated his life of luxury was probably over? I do not have the facts in his case and I have to admit that I am merely surmising and imagining what really was going on (perhaps it is quixotic to expect that pure, unencumbered truth will be available from the police hierarchy). Was Mendoza perhaps aggrieved that he was caught extorting money from whoever and was punished when others on the force who perhaps committed even bigger crimes got off scot free? Was he upset that his superior or whoever disciplined him had no “pakikisama” and singled him out? Definitely not beyond the realm of possibility.

And let’s look at his behavior on the day of the carnage. Here he was, armed to the teeth, flagging down a tourist bus because he had to “hitch a ride” to the grandstand.

Whatever happened to police transportation? He acted as if he was “entitled” to that ride regardless of how ugly the scene must look to those tourists. And the driver of the bus knew that if he refused to open the bus doors and let that policeman on board that he could very well be the victim of harassment for the rest of his life. And this sense of entitlement by virtue of a position of power or authority is pervasive in Philippine daily life.

Anyway, corruption, that is the point of this piece. It pervades all aspects of police work. Poor training? Who conducts the training program? Who are selected for specialized positions? If the job is one that does not afford the policeman an opportunity to make extra income the lowest man on the competence or patronage totem pole is likely the one picked. If a third party, privately owned entity were to provide the training, how much would that business have to spend in grease money to get the contract?
Needless to say they would skimp on the actual training to manage their costs and obtain a profit. This is true in almost all aspects of life in the Philippines, not just police and military.

And these conditions reportedly prevail in military quarters as well. All we get are whispers about this or that general, or colonel or captain have this or that business interest. Most of the businessmen and professionals affected are deathly scared to be identified as the source of reports of alleged corruption. Exposing the corruption or complaining about it can be a deadly mistake. The saddest bit of news in fact is that military officers have been said to be heading this or that gang of criminals and thieves responsible for heists and kidnappings. I’m sure that to the readers of this piece, this is not the first time they have heard of this scandal.

Reports are that the Philippine leaders are looking at this bloody tragedy as the impetus to institute reform, training and professionalism. This is well and good, but it will be for naught if corruption is not completely and decisively removed from the equation. I hope that President Aquino will indeed use this incident to effect a massive, far reaching and substantive shake up of the police and military establishments so that at long last the guardians of our people can and will finally begin doing their jobs. Failing to transform the character and nature of our military and law enforcement organizations will render useless and inutile all other efforts at curtailing and eliminating corruption in government.

ldq44@aol.com

by Ellen Tordesillas
from MALAYA

‘Pangilinan was able to sell his story to Aquino and Gazmin and he has been duly compensated.’

THERE were two significant things that Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue mentioned in his marathon griping with media the past few days.

One is the continued thriving career of Maj. Gen. Gaudencio “Boy Gee” Pangilinan, one of Gloria Arroyo’s dependable generals, under Aquino’s supposedly reformist administration.

Angue identified Pangilinan as one of the Class ’79 officers close to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. He said Pangilinan served as intelligence officer and comptroller of Gazmin when the latter was still in the active military service.

Pangilinan’s clout with Gazmin is substantiated by his being in the first batch of officers who moved up under this new administration. Last month, he was named commander of Northern Luzon Command vice Lt. Gen. Ricardo David who was named AFP chief of staff.

The Nolcom chief position requires a three-star general. Pangilinan’s third star is still awaiting the signature of President Aquino.

The problem is, Pangilinan turned 55 last July 25. The mandatory age for retirement in the AFP is 56. Under the law except for the one slated to be AFP chief, an officer with less than a year cannot be promoted.

As of yesterday, Aug. 20, there was no word that Aquino has signed the promotion papers of Pangilinan. We are watching this closely because this impacts on the professionalism in the military that members of the armed forces are yearning for.

Is Malacañang coming out with an ante-dated promotion for Pangilinan? Pwede ba yun? If he fails to get his third star, will he continue holding on to the position of Nolcom commander?

The answers to these questions are related to the other issue raised by Angue which was political partisanship in the military.

Malacañang and the military are downplaying the call of Angue for an investigation of generals who engaged in partisanship in the last May elections.

Do you remember the statement of then presidential candidate Aquino that he would call for People Power if the first automated election was rigged and Arroyo attempted to hold on to power?

He made that after a meeting with some generals who reportedly told him that Arroyo was not giving up power and was preparing for three scenarios” No-election, No-Proclamation and coup-me.

They fed Aquino stories of then AFP Chief Delfin Bangit planning to sabotage the first automated elections so no winner would be proclaimed.

These generals assured Aquino that they would resist Arroyo’s plans and that they would help install him to the presidency if no winner was proclaimed within a week after election. One of these generals, a source said, was Pangilinan.

These officers also tried to talk with some officers. A number told them that they didn’t want to be involved in political partisanship and that what they should do was to make sure that elections would be peaceful and orderly.

Well, there was an election, Aquino won in an election that was seen a peaceful and credible. He was proclaimed.

Our own sources in the military said, even if Arroyo had entertained those plans, there was no military group that thought of supporting Arroyo’s continued stay in power. Not even Bangit.

But Pangilinan was able to sell his story to Aquino and Gazmin and he has been duly compensated.

We know many officers are watching closely if Pangilinan will get his third star despite the one-year ban. They would know from there if President Aquino is sincere in his exhortation to the people to take the “matuwid na daan.”

A friend who knows Pangilinan said she is amazed by Boy Gee’s ability to be at the right place at the right time.

She said, “In 1998 or following his Mindanao stint, immediately after Erap’s election or sometime in May 1998, he told me he wanted an introduction to Gloria because he was sure Gloria would be next president.”

Indeed, he was able to find a way to Gloria Arroyo’s favor.

When concerned citizens were protesting the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao last year, Pangilinan, who was then vice chief of staff for operations, batted for the extension of martial law up to elections.

Had that idea taken off, who would have benefited?

***

Blog:www.ellentordesillas.com

E-mail:ellentordesillas@gmail.com

from Manila Standard Today

A KEY Palace official blamed the Arroyo administration Thursday for the botched hostage rescue on Monday in which eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

“The Aquino administration has been at the helm for only 55 days. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration lasted for nine years,” said Herminio Coloma, who heads the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“We only inherited the current state of the Philippine National Police.”

In a television interview, Coloma said the previous administration must be held accountable for failing to modernize the police force.

San Juan Rep. J.V. Ejercito, son of ousted President Joseph Estrada, agreed, blaming his father’s adversary for the policemen’s lack of crisis management skills.

“Manila’s finest in the previous years was tasked to protect Pampanga’s best,” Ejercito said, referring to Mrs. Arroyo who is now a congresswoman for Pampanga.

He said the police had lost their ability to respond to hostage situations because they were used in the last nine years to guard against Mrs. Arroyo’s political adversaries.

At the Senate, the head of the Manila Police District, Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, testified that it was Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who ordered the brother of the hostage-taker arrested. The scene, broadcast live on TV, was said to have angered dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza and caused him to start firing at the hostages.

Lim later disputed Magtibay’s account.

In his testimony before the Senate, Magtibay also said that the M16 Mendoza had used was the service firearm that was issued to him 10 years ago. It was never returned to the police force, even after he was dismissed.

Also at the Senate, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said the police had “bungled the situation.”

“I must say that to a large degree, I’m very happy and satisfied with the negotiation part of it, but there’s discomfort on the tactical intervention side. I must admit that they [the police] bungled the situation, and that they could have done better,” Robredo said.

President Benigno Aquino III, meanwhile, vowed that heads would roll and ordered an elite joint military and police unit created to handle “large-scale terrorist activity” and hostage-takings.

“Some people fell short and they will have to pay,” Mr. Aquino said.

“There were lapses, and I assure you we are addressing these lapses. This should really not happen again.”

The President admitted that the police unit most capable of launching an assault on the tourist bus where the hostages were being held was far from the site, leading to a prolonged rescue attempt that lasted almost an hour.

Members of the responding unit, armed only with hand guns and some of whom were not wearing bullet proof vests and protective helmets, were seen trying to break the windows of the bus using a sledgehammer. One of them threw a teargas canister into the bus but it did not go off.

Mr. Aquino ordered the police to demonstrate in two weeks their ability to protect the public and to offset the negative image that Monday’s botched rescue attempt created.

Instead of spreading resources to many SWAT teams, the government would set up two principal units for both the military and the police, that would work together in critical situations, the President said.

“This unit would have the highest capability possible,” he said.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said he had been meeting with police officials to identify ways to upgrade their skills and equipment.

In his status message on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Mr. Aquino called for sobriety in debating the incident in online social networking sites. Joyce Pangco Pañares, Karl Allan Barlaan, Macon Ramos-Araneta, Christian Cardiente

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=2010/august/27/news2.isx&d=2010/august/27

GLIMPSES
by Jose Ma. Montelibano

To make my deadline, I had to submit this article a bit early. My flight arrives Manila before midnight of Thursday, almost a full `month since I left late July. It will be good to be back. No matter how important my trip to the United States may be, being away from the Philippines for more than two weeks makes me homesick for my country, for my people. All the more this is true in this special moment of change in our history.

If Noynoy Aquino symbolizes hope and change so intently in the hearts of Filipinos, it is because he stands as the exact opposite of the president he changed via people power “masquerading as an election” – to quote Conrad de Quiros. From the most unpopular president in Philippine history in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to a P-Noy breaking all records in trust and popularity ratings, it is no wonder that hope and change find their way to a people so numbed by the corruption that had governed them. Even in America, Filipinos who have been so pessimistic about the chances of hope and change in the motherland are half believing that is can be possible.

Last Friday, I wrote about the $8 billion remittance of Filipino-Americans to the Philippines. I also mentioned that they were spending $50 billion a year from figures that were reported almost ten years ago. I assume that their cost-of-living expenses would be closer to $60 billion by now. Earning capacity is estimated to be double to triple what they spend, using an average $42,000 per capita income.

In an effort to build a patriotic spirit which would deeply sympathize with the plight of the poor in the Philippines, I have been visiting the United States regularly in the last three years. During this period, I have gained many new insights, some of which affirm long-held assumptions, and others breaking them apart.

The claim that Filipinos in America are afflicted with the pattern of divisiveness is confirmed by the eternally growing number of Fil-Am organizations as a result of constant splits of the original ones. But contrary to being a universal truth, it is estimated that only 5% or less of Filipinos are engaged with community affairs and that the vast majority prefer silence or invisibility.

While this is so because of a number of reasons, especially the fact that life for ordinary folks require daily hard work and leave little time for anything else, a good number have privately admitted that they are turned off by the constant bickering of self-proclaimed community leaders. My own sense is that the vast majority are not prone to divisiveness by choice but can be drawn to this negative pattern if their leaders are so inclined.

Wikipedia describes Filipinos in American as “invisible” or “silent,” a trait which counters the assumption that they are prone to divisiveness (caused by conflicts, of course). The 95% can be more safely assumed to be more adapting and peaceful, the opposite of popular beliefs about a community in constant disagreement.

Current statistics show that the new generation of Fil-Ams has 60% below the age of 44 and 40% are 45 years old or more. I will assume that the $8 billion remittance from Fil-Ams to the Philippines is sourced from those in the older category. That older sector is slowly decreasing by natural attrition and the younger generations are becoming more dominant. What will happen to the remittances as the first generation fades away and the new generations are very much disconnected to their relatives and the Filipinos back home? Unless a patriotic surge or epiphany is experienced by younger Fil-Ams, remittances to the Philippines will dramatically reduce.

If I have not seen with my own eyes and have begun engaging more and more of the younger generation of Fil-Ams, I would be in a state of panic today. It is scary to imagine that a constant and generous lifeline for Filipinos in the Philippines from their relatives in the United States can shrink to next to nothing in the next two decades. It is even more worrisome to anticipate the thinning of ties among a race whose culture has been deeply anchored on family connectedness.

Almost like a miracle, the new generation of Filipinos in America are slowly showing signs of an awakening to their roots, probably triggered by an identity crisis and a physical separation to a motherland their parents keep constantly in deep affection. I am seeing the tip of an iceberg, many small groups of Fil-Ams who are more conscious and accepting of their being Filipino – or, indeed, proud of being so. It is not strange anymore that young Fil-Ams sport T-Shirts which loudly proclaim their being Filipino by design or by color. Others are drawn to Filipino entertainers, sports icons and fashion. In California, I receive reports about special language classes in Pilipino attracting more students.

What is clear to me is that a new dawn sends a signal of its coming with young Filipinos the first to receive the promptings. What is happening to the new generations in America may have started in the homeland – with Noynoy Aquino as its most visible symbol. What swept Noynoy to the presidency was not a political exercise; it was an eruption of a spirit seeking light after a long dark night. Filipino-Americans, on the other hand, have been unable to sever natural ties with a past, a common race and a motherland despite the distance between them. From deep inside, they long for a re-union.

Convergence, then, is the invitation, the convergence of Filipinos in America and around the world with Filipinos in the motherland. Nation building is not limited to those who earn more, but especially to those who are willing to give or do more. Nation building is not about profits from investments, it is the fruit of the empowerment of the people. Now is the moment of the miracle, when those with great economic, intellectual technical power choose to share that power with those who have only their weaknesses and their despair.

The youth are not the future of the motherland, they have become her early dawn.


“In bayanihan, we will be our brother’s keeper and forever shut the door to hunger among ourselves.”

by Artemio A. Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY (August 26, 2010) — A drug-free bureaucracy is soon realized with the Civil Service Commission mandating all agencies of government including state-run colleges and universities to cleanse their workplaces from drugs.

Drug test, avocacy, education and training; and wellness programs as essential undertakings with respect to the realization of the National Drug-free Workplace Program will be mandatory on
all constitutional bodies, departments, bureaus and agencies of the national government, ocal government units; government-owned or controlled corporations; and state universities, said PDEA-Cordillera officer-in-charge Chief Inspector Edgar Apalla.

CSC Memorandum Circular Number 13, series of 2010 issued last July 28 prescribes these mandate where all officials and employees entering the government service shall be required to undergo drug test.

To realize a drug-free workplace in government, agencies shall organize orientation or education programs to all their officials and employees to increase awareness on the harmful effects and dangers of drug use and drug abuse in the workplace, the program said. They are also enjoined to display or post positive messages at their work premises about the importance of being drug-free.

All government agencies shall also initiate various activities that encourage their respective employees to lead healthy lifestyles at work and at home.

“Dismissal From First Offense”

Apalla said the program emphasis that any official or employee found positive for use of dangerous drugs shall be subjected to disciplinary or administrative proceedings with a penalty of dismissal from the service at first offense, pursuant to Section 46(19) of Book V of Executive Order 292 and Section 22(c) of its Omnibus Rules.

At the PDEA, drug test is a mandatory pre-appointment and pre-promotion requirement.

Emily Fama, spokesperson of the PDEA-Cordillera said what is more unto it, they hold unannounced, compulsory drug test for all its personnel, at least every six months. Hence, gone are the days when instead of fighting drugs, deep penetration agents (DPA) of government become drug dependents.

Drug dependency affects government performance and output. A worker’s drug problem has direct, damaging impact to the company’s performance, morale and success, explained Fama. “Sickness increases medical costs. Absenteeism reduces output due to loss of manpower. Deteriorating working relationship results in industrial relations problem.” Deadlines are missed and business transactions are lost due to unsound decisions and impaired judgments, she continued. Other effects of drug dependency among government workers are: excessive times are wasted during coffee and lunch breaks; quality of products or services declines; low quality or substandard products or outputs result in wastage of resources; properties are damaged due to sloppiness; pilferage, theft or embezzlement occurs.”

Worse, “agency secrets” are sold. Decline in worker’s discipline creates supervision problems and trust & confidence of the public is lost because of poor quality of products or services delivered to them, added Fama.

“National Drug Abuse Program”

Apalla added that section 47, Article V of the anti-drugs law (RA 9165) provides that the Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE), with the assistance of the Dangerous Drugs Board, shall develop, promote and implement a national drug abuse prevention program in the workplace to be adopted by private companies with ten or more employees.

Such program, he explained, shall include the mandatory drafting and adoption of company policies against drug use in the workplace in close consultation and coordination with the DOLE, labor and employer organizations, human resource development managers and other private sector organizations.

This though in 2008, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional paragraphs (f) and (g) of Section 36, Article III of RA 9165, requiring mandatory drug testing of persons accused of crimes and candidates for public office, respectively. In that same en banc decision, the SC also declared as unconstitutional Commission on Elections Resolution No. 6489, which implemented the drug testing among candidates.

But Apalla said, section 38 of the drugs law, clearly authorizes the drug test on any person arrested for violating the provisions of RA 9165.***Artemio A. Dumlao***