Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

against porkThe increasing middle class of the Filipino society comprise those privileged with access to technology, connections to the affluent, gross income taxed by 30% or so, small to medium scale entrepreneurs, and have one more dollar-earning family member from abroad. They are active in the society being members of several clubs, associations and other organizations, as members and leaders.

In the history of class struggle, Marx and Engels argue that it is the proletariat – the working class who should strive to win the revolution against the existing economic system that rules the social and political spheres of nations. They pertain to those in the lower strata of the economic and social system, the underprivileged and marginalized. However, the role of the peti-bourgeoisie is also critical.

The middle class is assumed to be educated, well informed, economically able and influential in the community. Historically, the illustrado’s in the Philippines propelled the 1896 Philippine revolution. In modern times, EDSA revolutions were led by the prominent middle-class men and women. Such events are material evidences of the role of the middle class to lead their own and those in the lower strata of the society towards a political cause. All driven in the context of upholding democracy.

The poor and the underprivileged proletariat of the Philippines comprise the masses, a huge number in terms of population distribution. They include the farmers, the fisherfolks, the skilled labor, the contractuals and those taking mean jobs. They are huge in number and yet their political maturity doesn’t hold as a power to reckon with the ruling class. Their struggle is on a daily basis, food and the basic necessities of life.

Their knowledge of the larger economic and political system is also limited. Their access to information is scarcely by oral tradition. Their disposition about politics is distant to having participation in the democratic processes. They are trapped in the culture of patronage.  They elect those who they feel popular and winnable or those who have given them the crumbs of what politicians have scoundrelled from the taxpayers’ money.

The Filipino proletariat are the same people used and abused by politicians and so by the capitalists. They work on minimum daily wage while the capitalist earn the bulk from their labor. They seek politicians who could give them a penny when they are in need. They rely more on others than in their own capacity. They are passive players in the political drama because they are apathetic to politics.

The Filipino proletariat are hardly politicized to draft their course in the history of revolution. The heroes in the annals of Philippine history are mostly members of the middle class. They lead the proletariat in the successful revolts, against colonizers and against authoritative and dysfunctional governments. True, they have their participation when the Filipino took arms against Spain, or against dictators like Marcos, but those were reactionary to the leading of the middle class.

The middle class is an in-betweener group of the Filipino society. Their political role is pivotal to steer the proletariat into action, and they can shake the ruling class to reconsider decisions. If they could think for the greater good, they can lobby the cause of the poor people in this country. They can draft the course of development of this nation. They can reshape the form of democracy the Philippines has. Yet, their success will only depend on the support they could get from the masses.

The Marxist dictum on the people’s revolution, is that the proletariat should takeover the modes of production from the capitalist, from the ruling class. Unions operate with this dictum in mind. Such has never succeeded in the realms of Philippine history.  One could only suspect that the European formula is not culturally sensitive to the Filipino’s political dynamics. The solidarity that is expected from the proletariat do not come out naturally as a manifestation of political consciousness but an upheaval to vent emotion – a reaction to a direct threat to their existence.

Today, the Philippines celebrates National Heroes day, at the same time, a march against the pork barrel system is held. Numbers are huge to count, but accounting for which social class do the participants came from is another thing. What does the ordinary Juan De La Cruz say of the pork barrel? What can be thought now about the role of the peti-buorgeoisie in the Filipino democracy? What should the politicized mass do amid political turmoils?





pigsThe fat politician is a metaphorical portrait, of greed and corruption. Pork-barrel creates such politicians.

Infrastructures, livelihood, social-welfare, scholarships and other developmental projects for a district or for the country are not to be expected from congressmen/women and senators of any democratic country. The primary function of legislators is to strengthen the country’s legal system by reviewing, filing and passing pertinent laws that will ensure the nation’s growth and stability. With those premises there is no need to allocate priority development funds or country-wide development funds that disguise as pork barrel to any member of the Philippine Congress.

The executive government has in itself the institutions to provide the basic services, build the needed infrastructures, and extend assistance for community development. However, the needed budget is not adequate, because those who pass the national budget will have to scour for means to sustain their perks from the pork that they allot for themselves. Such breeds corruption.

The legislators also need their budget, but this should only be allocated for their office operation; i.e. research, caucus, investigation related to policy development. The role of the legislators is in the area of policy development for national stability, and this should not be confused with other forms of development projects.

The cost of meeting other purported needs of a legislator’s constituents should be taken off the congressman or a senator’s budget, since ensuring the nation’s developmental needs is bound only in their responsibility to create the necessary laws.  Thus, the pork barrel system is never needed by a statesman/woman. It only works to sustain corruption and maintain greed among the members of the legislative government.

At the moment, a senator gets P200 million every year, while a congressman gets P70 million every year under the Priority Development Assistance Fund. This is over and above their allotted maintenance and operating and other expenses (MOOE) budget. Each member of the Philippine Congress operate using the MOOE. Every oversight committees and commissions in the congress are also covered by the MOOE. For 2014, operation budget for the senate is P2.998 billion while for the house of representatives P6.248 billion (Diaz, 2013) is allocated.

“Per type of expenditure, the MOOE is specified in the GAA to be used for travelling, communication, repairs, and maintenance, transportation and delivery, supplies and materials, rents, utility, training and scholarship, extraordinary and printing and binding, advertising, representation, subscription and membership dues and contributions” (Mendez, 2013). Should the legislators be using their operation budget wisely, they can manage without the pork-barrel.

With PDAF still included in the 2014 budget, P27billion of taxpayer’s money is passed on to the use or misuse of legislators, just like when the country loss P10billion in the exposed pork-barrel scam but the President is still unfazed with the issues on pork barrel (Esguerra & Cabacungan, 2013). Very few legislators  (Bacani, 2013) would like to scrap the pork-barrel, but the Filipino taxpayers would like to see and feel where their taxes go.

In this case, the Filipino people should know who among the legislators stand for what is right and just for the nation. We have yet to see a fat-free legislative agenda: a policy that is lean and never mean.  That can only happen when the Philippine Congress scraps pork-barrel out of its system.


There seems to be a strong desire for Filipinos to earmark their identity, at a global scale. Of course, national pride is engrained in every culture and societies celebrate its members’ victory in every competition arena.

Manny Pacquiao is the most celebrated 21st century Filipino athlete. In his last bout where he lost, Filipinos got disappointed and many turned sour to disfavor him later on. Others vent that he should have retired earlier on, so as to avoid this losing streak. While others deny the fact, by believing that it was an unfair match. In the field of sports, the Philippines is poor performing, yet the Filipino pride still glories in hope, with wishful thinking that its athlete could grab an Olympic Gold Medal.

Above sports competition, Filipinos are always hopeful to bring home an international beauty title. The country has less than a handful of top winners, compared to the runner up titles it has had. Internet brought some better to hope for the Filipinos, as it is one of the world’s most active internet users, that the Philippines lead in some online voting. Showcasing the beauty of the Filipina and even the males and gays, extend to the baranggay level, because that’s how Filipinos in their family and communities aspire for titles.

Like with any other nation or nationality, the Philippines has competitive chance to be at par with other global players. This notion stems from the fact of how Filipinos are actively contributing to the world economy. Yet, employment statistics would show that most of the Overseas Filipino Workers land skilled jobs and are working at their best at mismatched occupations as to their educational qualifications.

Such situation can be viewed still being competitive, justified by the conceptual virtue of flexibility and industriousness. There too are Filipinos who excel in their fields. Across the world, there are Filipino researchers, educators, engineers, scientists, analysts and IT experts, although we have no Noble Laureate yet.

Recently, the Philippines had another Saint, Pedro Calungsod, to pride the Cebuanos. Now, here is the situation where the name of Luis Antonio rings a bell as a candidate for papacy. From the time Pope Benedict XVI expressed his intent to retire from his post not called for by death, the Internet has been filled with the Filipinos hope for a pontiff coming from the country.

The expressions of this desire to have a Filipino pope, is extended to the regional level while tagging Tagle as Asia’s hope. Various memes, posts, comments, pictures and news proliferate in Facebook and in other online resources. Mementos of some people with Cardinal Tagle were also posted in some individual’s walls. Vigils were set in churches. Prayers are called for Tagle, to become the next Pope.

If news were right and credible to reflect genuine investigative reporting on Tagle’s credentials, his qualifications are supportive of his competence to lead the world’s Catholic Churches. This is the thinking of the ordinary man. The secular and spiritual minds will have another take. The Catholic Church has its own code of electing the pope.

Any adult Catholic male can be elected to papacy, as what happened to Urban XVI in 1937, but historically, the popes the church had were mostly from the College of Cardinals. The elected pope should obtain 2/3 of the voting members, and all are entitled to be elected. The Front Runners are those papabile or pope-able and they are identified by feeling the Cardinals. Thus, such pope-ability is dependent on Cardinal’s attitude towards another.

The process is not like the politics outside the Church, were candidates are nominated, debates are held and long campaign periods take the trail. The Cardinals vote in a conclave, for and amongst themselves, until a conclusive vote is cast.

Amidst the wait for a new pontiff, there are fervent calls that reflect the Filipinos idiosyncracy online in hope for the 1st Filipino pontiff, one can read these all over the Internet. While the Cardinals are in a conclave, they are not to communicate with anyone from outside. So, it must only be God, checking his FB wall, like any other online users who could read such posts! If God would be reading similar posts from every nation and culture, which prayer would he choose?

Photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

The question is a familiar one which Vladimir Lenin asked about the people’s revolution, which laid the grounds and framework to pursue the proletarian cause of establishing a people’s state that holds the mode of production against capitalism. The question is rhetorical and indeed an intelligent one that emphasizes taking control of the situation. The same applies in the critical examination of the people’s actions towards natural disasters.

After a few days of continuous rain, the monsoon rains devastated Luzon with floods and landslides. Now, the water has subsided in most areas, and this is not the first time that the country has experienced massive destruction – inundation to some others. The heavy rains and flooding put the Philippine’s disaster risk reduction management centers into test, that came more urgent when Ondoy flooded Metro Manila and adjacent provinces in 2009.  It also tested, the effectiveness of the government’s project NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazard just recently in placed.

While households pick up the fragments of what is left  in the floodwater, it is but high time to put forward solutions from the littlest things individuals could do and communities could contribute, and the systematic efforts institutions both private and public could share.  Nobody wants to be submerged under water. Nobody wants to starve under a disaster. Nobody wants to lose a family member. Nobody wants to see a house torn by the raging floodwater.

Everyone needs safety and security. Hence, disaster risk reduction and management are vital to everyone.  This has to take into consideration that the country is no more dealing with the usual type of disaster. The weather system has significantly changed. More volume of rains are expected, massive expanse of flooding in low lying areas, higher sea levels, greater winds, stronger quakes. Meteorological and geological statistics would tell that one natural event is like trying to beat another in the past.

A government spokesperson from project NOAH, said it best that disaster risks are higher because people are there. This does not mean that people should perish, but when people are in the middle of a disaster and are not being able to manage the situation well, the risks are higher. A disaster is a calamity man-made or natural. Risks include undesirable implications, to health, security, livelihood, properties and to life itself.  Weather disturbances can be disastrous due to lack of preparation, untoward behavior towards risks and poor response to the situation. However, nature is nature; people need to learn its behavior in order to respond to it appropriately.

The problem is bigger than the flood

Climate change is a bigger thing to consider in the disaster risk reduction and management systems. In both, everyone has something to learn and contribute. Everyone includes the individual in the community, the private and government sectors and the civil society. Climate change is an integral factor that explains why disasters get worst and more expansive. Whatever effort, in disaster risk reduction and management  is unlikely to succeed, if they fail to recognize the impact of climate change.

The fact cannot be zeroed out from the vocabulary of human society’s survival. Science may be politicized, information can be distorted, but the reality is everyone in the world has become vulnerable to the risks of having extreme weather. The Philippines had only monsoon rains, not a typhoon like Ondoy, but that extreme behavior of nature caught the country unexpecting of devastation it brought to Luzon.

Resolving the problem, that people caused the environment for them to suffer the consequences brought about by climate change, can not be completed in a day, or even in a century. Generations upon generations will meet the increasing wrath of natural disasters, until global scale efforts are set in place. With climate change, the times people live now is the most uncertain. Scary, yes, but that is likelier to happen until genuine concern for life and sanctity of the natural environment become ingrained in the consciousness of every individual in this world.

Now the worst is not over yet. The flood waters have subsided, many people have suffered from it. What good thing this flood gave some people is a sense of commitment to care for the environment, to be responsible in their actions, and to considers some easy but helpful things not to add to the burgeoning climate change. These include not using plastic, properly throwing their trash, recycling and planting trees. These are contributions everyone can do, but the problem is greater than this.

As to the floods, experts see three contributing factors: poor flood control systems, obstructions in waterways, and forest degradation. Flooding is a perennial problem in the country, dating back to the early times when communities started to build permanent structures in the land, and even beyond it. Basic knowledge of ecology informs about the relations of  human actions to the environment in general, and that all elements in nature are interdependent.

Cut the trees from their roots, and that soil will be washed away by the rain. The rain water will just flow down the lowland for no roots suck it up eroding the mountain soil to cover up the lowland. The smudge will go to the rivers blocking the water flow, and will find its way to the houses nearby. Satisfy yourself with material things you would throw later on, and you build mountains of trash. To cover those waste, people rake earth from the mountains, and toxic spills to the ground, killing other life that used to keep the mountain green. Throw your waste anywhere and you’ll find them coming back to you with the floodwater.

Individuals can do their share in keeping an eco-friendly lifestyle. Every household can plant and keep a tree in the backyard. Household waste can be reduced and reused creatively. Use of electricity and vehicles can be minimized. Communities can organized campaigns to raise the awareness of the residents into a critical consciousness to proactively take actions towards keeping a greener environment. Businesses should be more responsible in putting up infrastructures taking a greener perspective into design and function. The government must ensure that environmental protection laws are implemented, and that disaster risk reduction and management becomes part of its priority.

The solutions to prevent flooding are tied to the solutions to solve the problem of climate change and so with urban development planning. They are not just a product of a single mind. It is a collaborative output, where everyone contributes. Disaster risk reduction and management at a grand scale must consider the changes in the climate while ensuring the protection of life and livelihood and the safety of everyone. Thus the effort to resolve the issue in flooding is multilateral – everyone has a share.

August 7 is another big day in the Philippine’s 15th Congress, when the senators of this country will have to vote on passing the 2010 Consolidated Reproductive Health Bill, dubbed as the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population Development Act. Passing the RH Bill now is the most intelligent contribution that the representative and solons of this government can leave the Filipino people – an affirmation of reproductive health as basic human right.


The first version of the bill was filed in 1999, since then the Philippine Congress representatives and the solons have their own version. Population Development and Health Care Policies in the country has long been promoted dating back to 40 years, but those failed to curtail fertility rate and population growth. The previous administrations have delegated these matters to several institutions such as the Department of Health, Department of Education and even established the Population Commission.

According to NSCB data, The Philippine population is steadily increasing, from the 1900 until 2000 at a rate of more than 2 percent per year. It was only in 2010 that the annual population rate decreased to 1.90%. Those households who have the biggest number tend to be those under the poverty line without having proper health education and medical support.  AFP reports that   “Between 2006 and 2010, the maternal mortality rate rose 36 percent to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births, from 162 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 2005, according to the government’s 2011 Family Health Survey”.  The Philippines rank 48 in terms of maternal deaths. This concerns the United Nations in its effort to help the Philippines reach its Milleneum Development Goals.

The largest portion of the Philippine population comprise the youth who need appropriate sex education and reproductive health care. Further the Department of Health reports that HIV/AIDS cases in the country is spiking, the number of affected youth is also on the rise. There are indicators that suggest poor knowledge due to misconceptions on reproductive health and the inavailability of protection are significant to the sexual behavior of young Filipinos that make them vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.  The Church abhors the government move to make contraceptives like condom to be distributed free, because it fears that this provokes perversion even more.

In the same way, it is the Church battling against RH Bill, like how it lashed on earlier inititatives to manage the population, institionalize sex education and promote sexual health. The Church as a social institution has to do what it knows best to do, but it should not remain ignorant of the cause that the Reproductive Health Bill seeks to guarantee for the larger population. Indeed, the Catholic Church has a clout to 80% of the Philippine population, yet that should make the heads of the Church more conscious to advise the faithful with wisdom, and restrict its admonitions to the state.

While the rich and affluent citizens can afford to be attended by skilled health care providers, the poor and the marginalized do not have the means of having their reproductive health concerns attended to, because it is excluded in the national health insurance. Philhealth does not cover prenatal and post-natal care for mothers, neither do health insurances cover sexually transmitted illnesses. At the moment, companies need not be concerned of their employees reproductive health.  Legitimizing reproductive health as a basic human right receives strong contention not only from the Catholic Church, but also with the business industry because this compels the latter to be responsible for the reproductive health of everyone in their organization.

RH Bill Now!

The wisdom of RH Bill is that it legitimizes reproductive health as a universal right. That implies every Filipino especially the women are guaranteed the means to improve their health and quality of life. As it does, it has implications to one’s civil liberties while it guarantees non-discrimation to make reproductive health care available for everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

It is the state’s moral obligation to improve the quality of life of everyone. It is the Church’s moral obligation to guide the believers in living a conscientous life. It is consciountious to afford everyone access to maternal care, reproductive health education, and all the means to keep them safe in their life, that includes sex life. The bill does not encourage casual or indiscriminate sex, since that is within the autonomy of anyone.

The state can not infringe on individual liberty neither the Church should. It is a moral obligation of the state for the society to enjoy economic development. In managing the nation’s economy it is imperative that the people should be educated in its decision as to the household population and provided the knowledge and means to maintain social and physical health for the family.

Responsible parenting is emphasized in the reproductive health, without demanding, compelling or coercing parents as to the number of children, although the population development plan is to encourage keeping the number of children to two. This is based on several studies and templates that worked in many countries. The reproductive health bill does not speak of preventing parents to rear children. Hence, it is not about contraception.

RH Bill compels the government and businesses to make contraceptives and sexual health education available for everyone because these are means to ensure their reproductive health while they are knowledgeable of such. Contrary to the clergy’s logic about contraception, the use of such devices are responsible protective means for adults who can decide for themselves. Likewise, it does not encourage abortion. Instead, it affirms that Abortion is illegal.

Because the Church has a large influence to the Filipino people, the bill’s provision for accommodation of freedom of conscience and religion has divided the medical practitioners. When reproductive health is legitimized as a universal human right, access to contraceptives come with that, and medical practitioners have to denunce their right to freedom of conscience and religion in making that available for the patient, unless they can prove that will not do good for the patient.

Pass RH Bill 4424

It is ignorant not to consider passing the RH Bill now, and it pays to be knowledgeable about what really matters in the letters of the law. There is no other truth hidden behind the letters of the law, but the interpretation of the people. The general provision of RH 4244 in its declaration of policy is clear to extend and emphasize reproductive health as a basic right :

The State recognizes and guarantees the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood. Toward this end, there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds of sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, political affiliation and ethnicity.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment as a health and human rights concern. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care. As a distinct but inseparable measure to the guarantee of women’s rights, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of the welfare and rights of children.

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights. (HB 4244, Sec. 2)

As a basic human right, access to reproductive health care, regardless of gender, sexuality orientation, economic status, is to be made available to everyone. It should not scare anyone that the Philippine population will be eradicated, thinking that passing the Bill is part of the grand scheme to summon forth the master race, that has no empirical basis. Indeed, the Philippines may not be overpopulated, but do consider that Filipinos nowadays, particularly those with higher education and those in the working middle class are keeping a smaller household.

The debate has been going on, and the delay has been for ten years. With this statistics are telling the same thing, and the quality of life of the Filipino may not have changed. No, RH Bill does not guarantee the improvement of the quality of life of the general population, it only establishes the legal frames in which access to reproductive health bill is assured for everyone as universal human right. While the specific provisions of the Bill are clear and supportive of its general provisions, and enumerable studies support the move to pass the bill, the debate is not about contraception, abortion, population extinction, but rather whether reproductive health should be recognize as unversal human right for the Filipino people.

August 7 is another historical day that Philippine legislators will have to make stand. The decision to pass RH Bill is much more important to every Filipino people and the next generation, than impeaching another government official. The Filipino voters should be mindful of the decisions the politicians of this congress will make and consider that in the upcoming election. Those who stand for the RH Bill speaks for all Filipinas and the Filipino people in general, those who thinks that the RH Bill is worthless are but ignorant and should be informed of the letters of the proposed law.

Other post on RH-Bill:

Since the 1960’s when the left movement in the Philippines started, the term “imperialist” point to the United States alone. This pertains to the American’s extension of political, economic and cultural influence over smaller undeveloped countries that depend on US financial aids and protection. The US was seen as an economic and political superpower, and it was blamed for the many issues and problems the Philippines has suffered, because imperialism kept the  country in neo-feudal state with the Philippine government as a loyal ally bootlicking the United States.

Uncle Sam has been figured as a great collaborator coercing other nations. With its military might it kept a grand alliance with great nations that polarized political power. Historically, it was able to show its powers over dicators, pacifist and other colonizers. Doing so, expanded its territorial influence, dividing the world economically to be conquered anew. All these, the United States did as guaranteed by its constitution and its great love for freedom and democracy, as a great advocate of sovereignity for all nations. To others, these are  a grand scheme to keep capitalism at the helm.

Liberalism is married to capitalism. The latter is understood on the other end as the evil that chains many other nations in the shuckles of poverty. The many and the worst problems of the world can be theoretically traced as well to be rooted in the curse of capitalism. Because capitalism exploits on liberalism, while the alternative to capitalism will take away some accustomed liberties in the society, contemporary politics see no point in the alternative. At the extreme, even the minute problem in the Philippines is immediately linked to US Imperialism.

Down to US Imperalism. That was the call before, and even until now, in lighting rallies that hit the streets from time to time. The Philippines is young republic. It has to learn and work interdependently with other great nations. Diplomatic ties, treaties, agreements are signed bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure the country’s economic and political stability. It happens often though, that in many of the agreements the Philippines got into, that country ends in win-lose situation. Who then should be blamed for this: colonial mentality, incompetence in argumentation, political consciousness, capitalism, hegemony, imperialism?

Recently, the Philippines is at a tension with China, and it is not only China, but also Japan and other countries in the southeast Asia. China has been building garrison, testing political waters to extend its territorial boundaries, heightening tension over disputed waters and claims. Since, China opened its doors to capitalism in the 1990’s, economic power has shifted and it has invaded the world with its cheap products, killing many other local businesses.

Think of any product, and sure there is a China made counterpart of that, available in the local market. Big brands from the US, UK, Canada, Japan and the countries of Europe have counterfeit versions from China.  Is this not a form of economic imperalism? Even the local brands in the Philippines have China-made versions, sold in a much lower price, but come in cheaper quality. Overprice and quality, the China-made products are an auspicious find for those in a tight budget. Countries shifted production in China, which gave it an opportunity for growth. After conquering the world economy China is going beyond the market.

The Chinese people are Filipinos’ cultural brethren. The ties built by the earlier Chinese tradesmen in the archipelago, from since prehistory, brought the Filipino Chinese Mestizo. These Chinoys residing in the country have adapted to the Philippine culture and they have been considered as part of the multcultural make-up of the country’s population. Most of them are wealthy businessmen, and the tycoons the country has. Economically, Chinese businessmen own many of the industries in the country, and Filipinos have learned to live with that.

Imperialism is a construct of political and economic powerplay. It is now more difficult to distinguish who the imperialist is when the eyes just look at one. Who is the imperialist now? Who’s allowing the imperalist to take its strides?