Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 08 November 2017

When Christina Laskowski Sets Her Mind to It…

“Not all of us can do great things,” she said, “but we can do things with great love (and passion).”

Christina (nee Rodriguez) Laskowski was talking about the entrepreneurs STAC has mentored, some who have gone on to grow successful businesses on the advice she gave them in their nascence. Founded in 1993 by semiconductor industry giant Dado Banatao, the Science and Technology Advisory Council originally formed to provided pro-bono consulting to the Philippine government. Today, it is focused on “driving economic growth in the Philippines and US through holistic entrepreneurship,” by their own description on the STACSV website. Laskowski assumed the role of President in 1999, during Estrada’s presidency when government interests lay elsewhere. STAC’s activities consisted mostly of making introductions for Philippine government and private sector parties interested in engaging with high technology industries in Silicon Valley.

“Personally, I felt compelled to prove my thesis that we have the talent and diamonds in the rough in the Philippines’ back yard,” Laskowski explained.

That opportunity presented itself in 2007 and 2008, when, bolstered by its momentum in the budding call center industry, Philippine leadership decided to pursue new industries along the same lines of using innovative solutions to solve problems. At this point, it was the Philippine government who drove the engagement process. By August of 2009, STAC had signed an MOA with the three departments of the Philippine executive branch—the Department of Science & Technology, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Trade & Industry. Later that year, the collaboration produced a 5-year strategic plan that included developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the likeness of Silicon Valley.

“At that point, elements of an ecosystem existed, but it was extremely fragmented,” said Laskowski.

Since then, her efforts, along with her colleagues (Dennis Fernandez and Denny Roja, to name just two), have helped develop the Philippine tech startup ecosystem. This includes research and development at the University level, supportive capital markets and supportive IP law. The final piece, Laskowski feels, will be support and offtake by private businesses in the Philippines.

If you happen to be on the Manila side when you read this, you can learn more about the ecosystem on November 16 and 17, 2017 at the 9th NICP Summit and digitalcitiesPH Launch followed by the EGOV Awards. Go to to learn more about it. Many of Laskowski’s collaborators will be speaking, including Tina Amper, founder of, and JoJo Flores, co-founder of LaunchGarage.

As I listened to her story, I marveled at this Mindanawan-American sitting across the table from me and wondered how some people manage to do so much more with flying time—raising two boys, steering a career from investment banking to management consulting, caring for parents, a husband, her friends—while others, like me, count the years for sport. After more than two decades of knowing her, I’ve gleaned no depletion in her glow and bubble, just a long string of achievements that comes from the marriage of talent and energy. And, yes, of course, passion.


25 mayors, governors stripped of powers over police for 'various reasons'

MANILA – The National Police Commission (Napolcom) has stripped 25 local chief executives of their powers over cops.
This was confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday, November 7 by Napolcom public information chief Cristina Tan.
According to Tan, the local chief executives were stripped of their powers for "various reasons" through a series of memorandums signed on October 30 by their top officials.
Under the law, mayors and governors are automatically deputized as representatives of the Napolcom in administratively directing the police.
These powers may be revoked with enough reason such as compromising national security, abuse of power, or as reminded by no less than the chief executive President Rodrigo Duterte, ties to the illegal drug trade.
Tan reserved disclosing the reasons for their sanctions in detail, but reports have confirmed that one of them is their connections to the illegal drug trade. –


PH fears 'incident' with China after 'standoff' in Pag-asa

MANILA – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday, November 8, expressed concern over possible "incidents" with China in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as he revealed a two-month-old "standoff" with Beijing in Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.
Lorenzana made the statement while addressing the ASEAN Leadership Forum in Makati on Wednesday, which was attended by representatives of country ambassadors and representatives of think tanks and the academe.
Lorenzana the regional maritime dispute in the South China Sea is "one of the most serious issues" that affects ASEAN and pushes for the immediate completion of a binding Code of Conduct that will rule country engagements.
"I foresee that there could be some incidents. The presence of their Coast Guard, the fishermen who are actually militias of their Coast Guard and the PLA Navy could [result in] encounters with our fishermen as well as our Coast Guard," Lorenzana said.
He expressed this concern after he told the participants about a "standoff" in Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island about two months ago, although he would later downplay this incident in an interview with reporters at the sidelines of the forum.
"There was a standoff in Pag-asa a couple of months back," he said in his speech. Lorenzana said it happened when the Philippines attempted to put structures on one of the sandbars near Pag-asa Island, where about a hundred Filipinos are residing.
"We tried to put some structures in one of the sandbars near our island and the Chinese reacted.....The President said, 'Let's pull out,'" the defense chief said.
When asked about the incident after his speech, Lorenzana told reporters the "standoff" referred to diplomatic exchanges between Manila and Beijing. He denied that an actual incident happened in the island.
Lorenzana said the tension eased, apparently after the President's order was carried out. Lorenzana said China also assured the Philippine government that it will not occupy new features in the South China Sea.
China reportedly argued the sandbars are considered "new features" covered by the "modus vivendi" between Manila and Beijing, where they cannot have new construction.
It is the subject of debate. There are those who argue that the sandbars are traditional fishing grounds of Filipino fishermen from nearby Pag-asa Island.
Lorenzana's revelation also comes a day after President Rodrigo Duterte promised to discuss the situation in the West Philippine Sea with Chinese President Xi Jinping
Duterte said he hopes China will honor its commitment not to build in the disputed maritime territories. –


Trillanes files plunder complaint vs Gordon over P193M pork to Red Cross

SENATOR VS SENATOR. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV arrives at the Office of the Ombudsman to file a plunder complaint against fellow senator Richard Gordon on November 8, 2017. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV filed a plunder complaint against Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday, November 8, before the Office of the Ombudsman over anomalies in the P193-million worth of pork barrel allocated to the Philippine Red Cross.

Trillanes’ 22-page complaint accuses Gordon of committing plunder, graft, malversation, ethical violation and violation of Section 14, Article VI of the Constitution.

Trillanes also rehashed the accusation that Gordon used Red Cross funds for the latter’s presidential campaign in 2010 and senatorial campaign in 2013.

Trillanes cited different internal investigations within the Red Cross which were terminated, and which led to the firing of two officials who pushed for the probes.

Gordon’s pork

Gordon served as senator from 2004 to 2010. He also served as the Red Cross chairman at the same time throughout those years. He remains the chairman now, a position he has held on to without gaps since 2004.

Citing a 2012 report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Trillanes said that from 2004 to 2010, Gordon allocated P193 million worth of his pork barrel as senator to the Red Cross.

This, Trillanes said, violates the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Government Officials and Section 14, Article VI of the Constitution, both of which prohibit members of Congress from having interests in any transactions that involve their office.

From the pork-sourced funds that the Red Cross received during that period, almost all came from Gordon. Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, also a senator at that time, allocated P1.5 million in 2004.

When interviewed by PCIJ in 2012, Gordon said that if there was any conflict of interest, he would be “on the losing end” because he’s only a volunteer of the Red Cross.

Rappler is still trying to obtain comment from Gordon’s office as of posting.

Red Cross funds for election campaign?

Trillanes rehashed earlier reports that P200 million worth of Red Cross funds were disbursed by then Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang without the approval of the Board of Governors.

The accusations then came in the form of an anonymous email with attached receipts that purportedly showed the funds were spent to buy plastic whistles, karaokes, baller IDs with Gordon’s name on them, and media placements, all being linked to Gordon’s campaigns in 2010 and 2013.

Trillanes said that then Red Cross Governor Jan Elvest Bo admitted to sending the email if only to trigger an internal investigation.

Bo would eventually be fired from Red Cross and Pang would be absolved. Trillanes said the panel that did the investigation was composed of governors handpicked by Gordon.

Another investigation ensued in 2013 led by then Red Cross chief accountant Jeric Sian. Sian recommended further audit to be conducted by an outside independent firm.

Trillanes said nothing happened to that investigatoon and Sian was eventually removed as accountant of Red Cross “through legal maneuverings.”


Trillanes wants the Ombudsman to investigate whether the P200 million was indeed used to fund Gordon’s campaign. He also wants the Ombudsman to find out whether part of the P200 million came from Gordon’s pork barrel.

Then he wants the Ombudsman to establish a conspiracy between Pang and Gordon. All that plus the threshold of P50 million would amount to plunder, Trillanes said.

“The existence of a conspiracy between respondents Gordon and Pang in the commission of the violations subject of this Complaint is shown by their concurrence of wills and unity to action and purpose, with respondent Pang entering into the anomalous transactions for the benefit of respondent Gordon, and respondent Gordon acting to cover up and/or gloss over the transgressions of respondent Pang, thus, showing a tacit, spontaneous coordination between them,” Trillanes said.

Trillanes also cited the PCIJ report in saying that as of 2012, the Red Cross had P90 million worth in outstanding unliquidated cash advances from pork barrel.

“Under the circumstances, even if assuming for the sake of argument that only PhP90 million of the public funds allocated by Sen. Gordon from his own Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for the ultimate use of the Philippine Red Cross cannot be accounted for, and/or was ultimately used by Ms. Pang for the campaign of Sen. Gordon, the said amount of unliquidated PDAF would still qualify and meet the threshold,” Trillanes said in his complaint.

Trillanes, citing Sian’s recommendation report, also said that some of the questionable projects did not undergo public bidding.

Those alone are grounds for graft, Trillanes said.

Trillanes also said he would submit letters to the Commission on Audit and the International Federation of the Red Cross, requesting both to conduct separate audits on the Philippine Red Cross.

“Ito na ngayon ang ilalabas ko sa mga colleagues ko sa Senado that we would have a chairman ng blue ribbon committee na tasked primarily to investigate acts of corruption by public officials, pero siya mismo ay may plunder at kung anu-ano pang mga anomalous na nagawa,” he added.

(I will reveal this to my colleagues at the Senate, that we would have a chairman of the blue ribbom committee tasked primarily to investigate acts of corruption by public officials, but he himself committed plunder and other anomalous acts.)

The disgreements between Trillanes and Gordon turned from just a word war to a serious feud when they filed ethics complaints against each other. This was all set off by Gordon's blue ribbon committee investigation into the P6.4 billion shabu shipment that tagged Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

Gordon fought hard to shield Paolo Duterte from being summoned to the Senate investigation citing lack of evidence, for which Trillanes called the committee a "committee de absuwelto." Gordon is poised to clear Duterte in the issue, and will instead order a lifestyle check on the presidential son, according to a draft report. –


Suspect in killing of model Grab driver surrenders to police

MANILA – The suspected killer of model Grab driver Gerardo Maquidato Jr, has surrendered to the police on Tuesday, November 7.
Southern Police District head Chief Superintendent Tomas Apolinario Jr, confirmed to Rappler in a text message on Wednesday, November 8, that Narc Delemios has surrendered to authorities.
Apolinario refused to divulge details of Delemios' surrender but said the suspect will be presented to the media Wednesday morning. (READ: Model Grab driver killed by thieves disguised as passengers)
The vehicle of Maquidato was brought to Camp Crame Wednesday morning.
Police earlier revealed that Delemios was identified by his live-in partner, who admitted to police that her cellphone was used to book the Grab trip.
Another witness had identified Delemios as a suspect in another killing, that of 19-year-old Gino Balbuena in 2014.
Police also earlier said that Delemios did not act alone in killing Maquidato and stealing the victim's. The other suspects are still being hunted down by authorities. -


A deadly assault on the judiciary

He’s committed a lot of mistakes in the course of his presidency, but Rodrigo Duterte’s assault on the independence of the judiciary must be considered the worst, one that can have the direst of consequences if he does not stop.
Mr. Duterte and his minions in Congress seem hell bent on removing Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. It began with an impeachment complaint filed by an obscure lawyer before the House of Representatives, a complaint that many legal minds consider weak, if not fatally flawed.
This week, Malacanang showed the president’s true colors when it called for CJ Sereno to resign.
One columnist said it best. The palace has crossed a red line.
One reason cited by political analysts is that CJ Sereno will be a stumbling block to Mr. Duterte’s plan to install Bongbong Marcos as vice president as she will head the electoral tribunal to determine if the former senator and son of the late dictator has a valid case against incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.
Aside from this, CJ Sereno has proven herself to be completely independent. She will not kowtow to Mr. Duterte as she knows full well that she is a co-equal to the president.
Mr. Duterte is the head of the executive department. CJ Sereno is the head of the judiciary. The legislative branch is headed by Senate President Koko Pimentel, who is little more than a puppet of the president.
If the impeachment of CJ Sereno pushes through, then the odds will be stacked against her since both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House will do anything to please their boss. If Mr. Duterte tells them to jump from the tallest building in the land, they will both ask him what attire they should wear.
Once Bongbong Marcos is installed as VP, Mr. Duterte can rightfully claim that he can now resign, seeing that his addiction to the dangerous drug fentanyl has already fried his brains.
What happens next is too ugly to think about. Of course, the majority of the people will never accept another Marcos presidency. There will be no more peaceful Edsa revolts. Instead, we can expect the communist underground to grow to unheard of levels. Ditto with the Muslim insurgency.
Worst of all, the armed forces, the academe, the business community, and civil society in general will also refuse to accept the former do-nothing senator as chief executive.
Unthinkable as it seems, a civil war is not an improbability.
I may be painting the bleakest possible scenario, but who knew before he was elected president that Mr. Duterte would wage a supposed drug war that only targets the poor? In so doing, he closed his eyes to abuses committed in the name of his drug war by the Philippine National Police.
How many EJKs have been committed by the PNP since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency? The acceptable figure seems to be somewhere in the vicinity of 12,000.
As he was allowing mass murder to be committed by the police, the same president also appointed non-qualified, incompetent, and corrupt men and women to his official family.
We all know the saying: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Mr. Duterte acts no differently from the late dictator Marcos, who became ruler of the Philippines because the legislative and judicial branches of government gave in to all his demands when martial law was declared.
As dictator, Marcos became the richest man in Asia. The wealth he stole is in the billions of dollars, and only a small fraction has been recovered by the government.
Now the Marcoses would have the Filipino people believe that the billions that they still have stashed away in various foreign countries is only there for safekeeping. And Mr. Duterte supports this impossibly audacious claim, to whitewash the sins of the Marcos family and to set the stage for the son and namesake of the despised dictator to assume the presidency.
The march towards civil war can still be stopped. All that’s needed is for a few good men – and women, in particular – to block the dangerous path that Rodrigo Duterte is now taking.
The legislative branch of government may be a lost cause, at least for now. But not the judiciary. The independence of the judiciary must be maintained at all cost to prevent another dictator from ruling and destroying the Philippines.
It starts with making sure that Ms. Sereno is not removed as chief justice.


DOT relaunches bring home a friend program

SAN FRANCISCO -- The successful 1994 program under President Fidel Ramos of the Department of Tourism (DOT) started by then Secretary Mina Gabor has been relaunched to help the department to reach its target of 7 million visitors for 2017.
On hand to lead in the relaunched in the San Francisco Philippine Consulate Kalayaan Hall with Philippine Tourism Director Pura Molintas was DOT Undersecretary Katherine De Castro who asked Filipino Americans to become sponsors and tourism ambassadors of friends to visit the Philippines.
“The program of the Secretary Gabor was so successful it ran for three years and since present Secretary Wanda Teo was one of those who availed of the successful program, she decided to bring it back,” de Castro shared. “Most of those who have availed of this so far are from the Middle East and hopefully North American participants will catch up to the number of Middle East sponsors soon. Some of reasons why U.S. Filipinos have not yet sponsored so much is that we have recently launched it here and it is mainly on Facebook that we launched full blast. But in the next few months we will be launching the program more through traditional media and hopefully see a surge in interest from North America.”
De Castro also allayed fears on security concerns saying that there is more police visibility, people feel safer in the streets with the ongoing drug war that somehow results to getting a feel that President Rodrigo Duterte is serious in providing security not just for Filipinos but also for those who are visiting the Philippines..
Director Molintas advised would-be sponsors to log on to and invite as many friends as they like, accept the guest or invitee who must be a foreign passport holder and must not be a resident of the Philippines six months prior to the trip and travel the Philippines and enjoy the islands. Anyone can be a sponsor as long as you are a Filipino of legal age or a foreign expatriate living in the Philippines permanently or temporarily for six months.
“After the travel is completed, the sponsor or invitee should complete the registration process where proff of travel is needed in joining the program to possibly win the prizes of which major ones include a condo unit in Metro Manila from Megaworld Corporation, a brand-new Toyota Vios and a gift certificate from Duty Free Philippines worth P200,000 which are far bigger than ever before,” Molintas beamed. “Proof of travel may be plane ticket or boarding pass which are important because electronic entries will depend on invitee’s point of origin.”
Sponsors may get 1 ticket for invitees from Asia, 2 tickets for invitees from Australia and 3 tickets for those invitees from Europe, the U.S. and Africa while promo’s first leg runs from October 15 to April 15
Foreign visitors, on the other hand, stand to win business class round-trip international flight tickets and tour packages to Palawan, Cebu and Davao.
After six months a winner will be chosen via an electronic draw.
Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon expressed excitement on the program because it supports the consulate’s movement to spark, connect and empower the Filipino American community and their efforts to provide platforms to promote the Philippines our culture and our heritage.
“This year, Boracay, Cebu and the Visayan islands and Palawan were declared as the best islands the world. Foreigners openly acknowledged the natural beauty of our country. Through our program we are launching tonight we give people especially the youth and millenials the opportunity to see for themselves why our islands are garnering the accolades and why we are relentless in inviting them to come home. Through their visit we hope to empower the youth to be partners in nation building by bringing home friends and sharing with them the natural beauty of the Philippines. So let us bring home a friend and show them the beauty and charm of the islands in our country,” urged Ascalon.


Award-Winning Documentaries Set to Be Screened at Cinematografo International Film Festival








Searing documentaries that depict the stories of individuals and the society we live in. Watch these powerful chronicles of the human condition, created by filmmakers from the U.S. and from the Philippines, at the inaugural Cinematografo International Film Festival from November 9-12 at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 Theaters in San Francisco.



Sunshine de Leon, 2016, 52 mins

November 11, Saturday 5:15PM

Buy tickets here.

Starting with her migration to the Philippines in the 1930s, American centenarian Jessie Lichauco shares her vivid memories of her marriage with a Filipino lawyer and her insights on the cruelty of war, survival and strength of the human spirit. 



Ramona Diaz, 2012, 105 mins

November 10, Friday 8:30PM

Buy tickets here.

A testimony to YouTube’s cyberpower to discover musical talents, this documentary details how Arnel Pineda got fished out of obscurity and landed a gig that changed the course of his life – being the front man of the iconic American band Journey.



Ramona Diaz, 2003, 103 mins


Buy tickets here

“The people need a role model. They need a star, especially in the dark of the night.” Ramona Diaz’s debut film illustrates the life of Imelda Marcos as she ascends from being an impoverished child in the province to becoming the richest and most celebrated First Lady of the country.



Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco, 95 mins


Buy tickets here.

This documentary centers on the ensuing trial of Paco Larranaga, along with six other young men, accused of a murder case of two Filipino-Chinese girls. Filmmakers Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco probe the hostile delivery of justice and obstruction of truth brought about by an overly bureaucratic leadership, media sensationalism and racial profiling.



Ramona Diaz, 2017, 95 mins


Buy tickets here

For her fifth feature length documentary, director Ramona Diaz reinforces her niche in the industry as a driving force in documentary cinema. The film takes us into an almost claustrophobic yet intimate experience inside one of the world’s busiest maternity wards, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.



S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons, 2016, 75 mins


Buy tickets here.

Co-directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons, the film captures a significant event in the history of Philippine politics when the world’s first and only LGBT political party called Ladlad, attempts to elect a transgender woman to the Philippine Congress.



Baby Ruth Villanueva, 2016, 95 mins


Buy tickets here.

Director Baby Ruth Villarama follows the lives of five Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong as they juggle between the harsh realities of their working situation and the sense of empowerment they get from joining beauty pageants on Sundays. 


The first annual Cinematografo International Film Festival and Industry Forum is a film exhibition series designed to elevate and showcase emerging Filipino and Filipino-American talent to the global stage.

Cinematografo International Film Festival aims to foster, nurture, and inspire filmmakers from the Filipino diaspora, giving them full support in any way possible.


Editorial: Will it ever end?

Another week, another mass killing.
This may be an exaggeration but it certainly feels like the awful truth. An unbearable truth.
This week proved yet again that the buying and owning of guns in this country has become too lax. Otherwise, how else could a deranged ex-Air Force man who had previously physically abused his wife and child, and escaped from a mental health facility, have had access to a firearm legally?
David Patrick Kelley joins the ever growing list of mentally unsound men who have gone on shooting sprees targeting innocent civilians. In his case, Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and shot to death 26 parishioners, including an unborn child. Another 10 remain in critical condition as of this writing.
This makes the massacre the deadliest in modern day Texas history.
Kelley committed the heinous act just like other mass murderers of recent years – with an assault rifle.
Everything about his history says that he should never have been allowed to own a gun, much less an assault rifle. Yet he owned the weapon that he used to murder the churchgoers legally.
With every mass murder that occurs in this country, calls to regulate gun ownership rise. The NRA, meanwhile, comes up with a generic statement that expresses sadness at the event, while insisting that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
This is a faulty argument, of course. It is highly improbable for Kelley to have killed so many people if he had been armed with an ordinary handgun, instead of an assault rifle that was designed solely for use by the military and the police.
We have never said that there should be an absolute ban on guns. Civilians should be allowed to own guns for sport, hunting, or self-defense. But there is no justification for any civilian to own an automatic or semi-automatic assault rifle.
What makes the Texas shooting so tragic is that it occurred in a peaceful, small town where violent incidents are rare. The tragedy resulted in four percent of the town’s population being killed.
President Trump refused to call the killing an act of terrorism, merely the actions of a sick mind. That does not change the obvious fact that Kelley should not have even owned a firearm in the first place.
When, we must ask, will our lawmakers see that there is now an urgent need for regulating the sale and ownership of guns? Specifically, why can’t the sale of assault rifles be controlled?
At best, if the NRA lobby proves too powerful, then maybe the sale and ownership of assault rifles can be limited to men and women who are proven to be of sound mind. Otherwise, we may as well allow even the most criminally insane or deranged person to enter any gun shop and buy the deadliest weapon he can afford.
Time and again we are reminded that there are too many firearms in the hands of mentally unstable people. Unless something is done about this, the unending series of mass murders with the use of assault rifles will never end.
  • Published in U.S.

‘It’s time to ask ourselves . . .’

More than a hundred years ago Dr. Jose P. Rizal in his first novel, the Noli Me Tangere, wrote about the social cancer that afflicted Philippine society. Dr. Rizal traced and attributed this social cancer that has shackled and impeded the progress of the Philippines from centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
He also vowed to expose this illness to the Filipino people through his works and writings and to do his best to find a “cure” for it. Dr. Rizal said:
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure, I will do with you as the ancients of old did with their afflicted: expose them on the steps of the temple so that each one who would come to invoke the Divine, would propose a cure for them.”

Determination and conviction can be clearly traced in Dr. Rizal’s words. He vowed to faithfully explain and reproduce the conditions of oppression in his country the best he could. In 1886, he wrote the following in Europe: “I will lift part of the shroud that conceals your illness, sacrificing to the truth everything, even my own self-respect, for, as your son, I also suffer in your defects and failings.”
Noli Me Tangere was followed by a second novel, the “El Filibutersimo.” In the El Filibusterismo, again we saw some lines and words that still resonate and touch our condition as a people up to this time---
“Our ills we owe to ourselves alone, so let us blame no one.”

“With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worse! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.”

It’s sad that Dr. Rizal is long gone because we need more leaders like him who are not only willing to commit to sacrifice--- but who are also willing to think and make a principled stand for the Philippines’ best interest. In the Philippines, even the level of discourse about the state of affairs is at an all-time low as we speak. A cuss there, swearing here, a personal attack online is what we now call and refer to as a discourse. I wonder how this could be “meaningful.”
It’s good that some institutions and leaders are making and taking a principled stand against the EJKs and the way we Filipinos behave these days. Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Socrates Villegas said the following during the “Forgive Us, and Heal Our Land” prayer rally recently:
“Bayan ng Diyos, bumalik na tayo sa Panginoon. Naligaw na tayo ng landas at pinili natin ang kadiliman kaysa liwanag. Bakit tayo pumapalakpak sa patayan? Pinili natin ang karahasan kaysa kapayapaan. Pinili natin ang magsinungaling kaysa katotohanan. Pinili natin ang pagtawanan ang malaswa sa halip na iwasto. Pinili nating manahimik kaysa makisangkot. Sa maling akalang ito na ang huling baraha, nasubukan na natin lahat ng uri ng pamumuno. . . kumapit na tayo sa patalim. Ang dating bayan ng mga bayani ay naging bayang walang pakiramdam at walang pakialam. Magsisi ang manhid.”

The bishop reminds us that society should not kill its own people because there is a costly retribution to such act. A “kill-kill-kill” philosophy is also tyrannical and is akin to the years when the Philippines was a colony of foreign powers or when it was under martial law. It sets us back to the painful past when institutions were destroyed or non-existent and when “only a few people” had the voice and the say about who lives and who dies. Remember the days when neighbors were forced to turn against their own neighbors to save themselves?
It’s time to ask ourselves why we applaud when people are killed; why we chose violence over peaceful and civilized solutions; and why we laugh and clap our hands when we hear obscene and oppressive words against others.
“Desiring your well-being, which is our own, and searching for the best cure” as Dr. Rizal said more than a hundred years ago is again relevant to the challenges that Filipinos face today. We are challenged to raise our consciousness to what is happening around so that genuine healing can begin.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at

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