Displaying items by tag: opinion

Roots of Mindanao wars

(The Philippine Star)

The following is the full statement issued by De La Salle Philippines President Br. Jose M. Jimenez FSC on the conflict in Marawi. It is entitled Upholding the Rights of Citizens in a Time of Conflict: An Appeal for a Holistic Response to the Crisis in Marawi

“In the past days we have witnessed how the lives of our fellow Filipinos in Marawi have been disrupted by the actions of the Maute Group. As many flee the violence that has taken over the city and as many experience displacement, we continue to appeal to civil society to work together with the local church and government agencies to ensure the safety and well being of those affected. In solidarity with those who experience this insecurity, let us ensure the availability of necessary material and social supports to help our affected brethren pass over this period of crisis. As educators, we wish to call special attention to the plight of children and young people, who in this situation of conflict are rendered the most vulnerable.

 

We denounce the lawless acts that have been committed by the Maute Group against the civilian population of Marawi. The right of people to life and liberty cannot be subordinated to one group’s assertion of its political or religious beliefs. The actions of the Maute group run counter to the values of tolerance and dialogue that we wish our young people to learn and live by.

We urge our government leaders to uphold the processes guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution. We believe that the restoration of order in Marawi City can be accomplished by the judicious use of the powers provided by the Constitution and the unwavering commitment to protect and respect the inviolable rights of individuals. The situation of disorder cannot be addressed by an appeal to discord and wanton disregard of the limits imposed on the exercise of the state’s power. The prudent use of power by those in authority is a blessing for those who are governed.

The conflict that is now playing out in Marawi City has as well, deep roots in our country’s history. As an institution of learning, we are committed to a deeper appreciation of the roots of discontent that have fuelled this conflict. We pledge, to build alongside our civil government, the structures that will allow every Filipino access to resources that are necessary for development. Our development can only be authentic if we all develop together. As an educational institution, we re-commit ourselves to allowing persons and communities to realize their own power for creating good. May the long march towards the peace we long for begin in our hearts today and live on in the actions we shall take in the days ahead.

Fraternally, Br. Jose Mari Jimenez FSC ,president, De La Salle Philippines

 Roots of the conflict

I follow the news to know what is happening. But I read books to understand  what’s happening. There are many books that can help us understand the  roots of the conflict in Mindanao.

Gallantry in Mindanao by Ben Cal was published in 2000. In the book’s preface, the author, a Filipino newsman, wrote the reason for writing the book: “ The outbreak of another war in Mindanao, the second  one in my generation, sent my memory chips into a frenzied rewind bringing me back to the first, the one the government fought against the Moro National Liberation Front in the early Seventies.”

He was referring to the war, in Mindanao, during the martial law regime of Marcos. It was a conflict that resulted in more than 100,000 civilian deaths and 10,000 soldiers and policemen who  were killed during the conflict. 

 Ben Cal narrates the story of the gallantry of the soldiers who fought for the Republic. The most interesting narration, from a historical view is his description of the first clash with the Abu Sayyaf, which was formed in 1989.

On the morning of Friday, January 13, 1995, a nine year old boy reported to an army unit in Mabuso, Basilan that around 150 armed members of the Abu Sayyaf were unloading supplies two kilometers from the camp. Captain Cirilito Sobrejana of the 1st Scout Ranger Company organized a team of 30 Scout Rangers to conduct a surprise attack. The clash in Matarlang, Basilan was the first time the Abu Sayyaf, then led by Janjalani, figured in a gunfight with government forces. Most of the stories in the book sound almost exactly the same as the news reports we are hearing today.

Muslim in the Philippines by Adib Majul was published in 1999 – a “must reading” for those who are serious about understanding the conflict in Mindanao. The author is a converted Muslim and views Philippine history from a Muslim perspective. 

Among the insights in his book, he says that Islam in the Philippines was part of the Islamization process in the Malay and Indonesian Peninsula. The Spanish attempt to Christanize and subjugate the Muslims in Mindanao was the primary reason for the start of the Moro wars. The Muslims were provoked to rise up and defend their territories.

In order to instill fear, Spanish soldiers destroyed Muslim houses, plantations and beheaded captured local leaders. Women and children were taken as slaves. Muslims from Borneo and the Malay Peninsula have always aided the Muslims in the Philippines in fighting the Spanish invaders.

The conflict in Marawi has deep roots in our history. A necessary step towards peace is to understand the history of all our people including the Muslims in the Philippines.

Creative writing classes for kids/teens and adults

Young Writers’ Hangout for Kids & Teens on June 3 (1:30-3pm).with Russell Molina,  Creative Writing Workshop for Adults with award winning fictionist Susan Lara will be on June 17 (1:30-4:30 pm).  All sessions are at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.  For registration and fee details text 0917-6240196 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Preparing to cross the line

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he will defy the Supreme Court if the high tribunal does not toe his line in relation to his declaration of martial law last week is the clearest indication that he will perpetuate himself in power, even if he is fully aware that he does not have too many good years left.
Very likely, he plans to follow in the footsteps of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, but at a different pace. Where the former strongman first set the stage for the imposition of martial law by first suspending the writ of habeas corpus, Mr. Duterte didn’t even bother to prepare the people for the worst.
What he did was to declare martial law in all of Mindanao, but immediately followed this up with a statement that he was prepared to place the entire country under his one-man rule on the vague condition that he will take the draconian measure if terrorists enter the Visayas and Luzon.
Under the current regime where fake news proliferates, it will come as no surprise if fake terrorists are spotted in Metro Manila, who will then commit some unspeakable act of terrorism and voila! The regime has a perfect excuse to declare martial law nationwide.
This was done before by Marcos, who had then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile fake an assassination attempt just before Presidential Decree 1081 placing the Philippines under martial rule was signed. Enrile himself admitted that the supposed assassination attempt on his person was faked.
The way Mr. Duterte has been acting, it will not be impossible or even improbable for his regime to dictate to Congress to legitimize his version of 1081, and to switch from legitimately elected Philippine president to illegitimate dictator for life.
He can then do one of two things: prepare his anointed successor during this period, which can either be his daughter Sarah, or worst, defeated vice presidential bet Bongbong Marcos.
Being a lawyer but nowhere near possessing the admitted brilliant legal mind of the older Marcos, Mr. Duterte will have to have his subordinates legally justify the soon-to-be permanent state of martial law in the country. Unfortunately, the lawyers in his Cabinet are a most unimpressive bunch.
And with an independent-minded Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the person of Lourdes Sereno, the Duterte legal cabal are overmatched. It is for this reason that the president said he would defy the SC if it rules against his martial law, or any of the acts committed by the administration related thereto.
For Marcos, his justification was to “save the republic and reform society,” which was later the basis for his ridiculous New Society.
Mr. Duterte is more blunt. He says he will declare marital law nationwide “to save the people,” whatever that means. The only people who need saving are the unfortunate poor suspected of using drugs who continue to be killed extrajudicially on a daily basis.
As expected, Mr.Duterte’s apologists tried to tone down his “I will defy the Supreme Court” stance by saying he did not exactly mean what he said. 
Yeah, right.
Just like his telling the Armed Forces that he would “allow” soldiers to rape up to three, but never four or more women while doing their duty. At least this is better than Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law, when soldiers and even policemen could do as they wish. Literally tens of thousands of Filipinos were raped and/or killed.
By perpetuating himself in power, Mr. Duterte is setting the stage not only for a repeat of the rampant abuses during the Marcos martial law period, he all but guarantees that the situation will be much, much worse. The country’s economy which was left in good shape by former President Noynoy Aquino will be the first victim. Foreign investments will disappear, while those who are part of the Duterte regime will commit brazen acts of plunder from the highest to the lowest levels.
In 1986, the Philippines found a savior in a small group of reform-minded officers of the Armed Forces who inspired millions of Filipinos to force the Marcoses and their cronies out of the country. Perhaps it is within the same Armed Forces of the Philippines that another group of young officers will recognize the evil that is martial law and take whatever measure is necessary to end it and restore the country’s democratic institutions.
It must begin with the head of state unconditionally accepting that the chief justice of the Supreme Court is his co-equal, and not his subordinate.
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Fil-Am appointed Contra Costa County superior court judge

By Cesar Antonio Nucum, Jr., Correspondent
SAN FRANCISCO -- The office of the California State office recently announced the appointment of two new Bay Area County Superior Court judges.
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s new appointees as judges of the Superior Court of the Contra Costa County are Wade M. Rhyne and Filipino-American Benjamin T. Reyes II. 
A Democrat, Reyes will succeed Judge Thomas M. Maddock who retired recently. 
The 51-year-old Alamedan has been a principal at Meyers, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC since 2005. Prior to that, Reyes had been an associate of the same from 2001 to 2005. 
At Meyers, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC, Reyes handled cases in the areas of municipal and public agency law, energy, construction, procurement and elections. 
He was also the Assistant General Counsel for the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee where he chaired the firm’s Public Contracts Practice Group, and manages the firm’s redevelopment and public finance attorneys.
He had also been a City Attorney to two Bay Area cities: first with Pinole from 2004 then with Union City since 2010.
About their principal, Nave, Riback, and Wilson PLC wrote on Reyes’ overview in its website http://www.meyersnave.com/ attorney/benjamin-reyes : 
“A general counsel and city attorney, Ben has two decades of experience working with public agencies throughout the state on a breadth of legal issues. He has prepared legislation for governing bodies in areas of community preservation, land use and revenue. Ben regularly teaches seminars on the Ralph M. Brown Act (local agency open meeting law), ethics, conflicts of interest and the political reform act. He has significant experience in elections and campaign finance, and has prepared several ballot measures for local sales and transactions taxes and utility users taxes.
"Ben has subject matter expertise in public contract and procurement law and has litigated several cases involving major public works projects. He is well versed in local agency competitive bidding, design-build projects, bid protests, contractor prequalification and claims resolution.
"He has written and revised contract specifications for several public agency clients. Ben represents public agency clients in high-technology, software and information system procurement projects. Ben also serves as special counsel for several public agencies seeking to build traditional and renewable energy projects, particularly, solar system projects.”
Others positions held by Reyes include Utility.com general counsel from 2001-2001, East Bay Municipal Utility, Office of the General Counsel attorney from 1997-2000, deputy city attorney at the San Jose City Attorney’s Office in 1997, General Counsel for the Stege Sanitary District, and an associate at the Boornazian, Jensen and Garthe PC from 1993-1997, among others..
Reyes earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California in Berkeley 
He was also in the United States Army Reserves from 1983-1987. 
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