Archive for November, 2009

President Arroyo Should Turn Over the Reins of Government if She Runs for Congress

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

President Arroyo Should Turn Over the Reins of Government if She Runs for Congress

President Arroyo should either resign or go on leave if she pursues her desire to run for the 2nd Congressional District of Pampanga. Of course, her counsel Atty Romy Macalintal will argue that there is no legal impediment for her to seek another elective post. That is a well known fact. The law does not compel her to vacate her post either by resignation or going on leave. I won’t even go into a discussion on delicadeza. We all know what the answer to that issue.

But I offer other reasons why she should give the post of president to someone else who can take full charge in a full time capacity the role of leading this nation during the elections.

The Maguindanao Massacre was definitely a politically motivated incident, one that is expected to have repercussions all the way to election day. It may even have spill over effects to neighboring provinces and spread throughout ARMM. In fact, one of the president’s allies is even proposing that martial law be imposed in that part of Mindanao to ensure peace and order.

Being a presidential election, other hotspots are expected in other parts of the country, hence the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police will surely be on their toes in maintaining peace and order during the elections. This is the reason why I had earlier proposed that the Armed Forces Chief of Staff be extended beyond his retirement date of March 10, 2010, just so that the AFP will not have a change in leadership in the middle of the campaign period.

Being the Commander in Chief, the president should be full time in overseeing the enforcement of laws and measures to maintain peace and order during the elections. The president should not be sidelined by the concerns of her campaign for another elective post, a local one at that. We should not gamble with the president merely allowing an underling (especially the current acting Secretary of Defense Bert Gonzales) to carry out her instructions as she campaigns. Someone should take over the responsibility and accountability during that time.

Another matter which necessitates the full time attention of the President is the implementation of the first automated elections in the country. IT will be best for the country not to have a president distracted and preoccupied with a candidacy in the local elections while this historic venture into uncharted waters is being experienced by the country.

The president’s legal eagles and political pundits will simply repeat their script to defend the president’s decision to run—that there is no legal impediment to her candidacy. And it would be foolish for people to expect delicadeza to prevail. So if she wants to run, let her run.

But what I would like to raise at this point is the duty of the Office of the President ( the position, not the person) to ensure that the elections will be clean, credible and peaceful. She cannot do that full time if she will be a candidate for a local position in 2010. So if she wants to run, then she should turn over in accordance to legal processes the reins of power to someone who is not running for office and can perform the job full time.

Of course that would be the Vice President.

God bless the Philippines!

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Malacañang Was Warned About the Maguindanao Massacre Three Months Ago

Posted in Governance with tags , , , , on November 27, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

The whole world was caught by surprise and shocked by the Maguindanao Massacre. It was something never before seen in our country and it has immediately placed us in the number one position in the list of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists to be assigned.

People are saying this was something unimaginable, that no one expected it and no one could have foreseen the carnage. Well, it turns out that those premises were wrong. Someone did see it coming.

Someone saw it coming and warned the government. He warned Malacañang. And the warnings went unheeded.

About three months ago, August 28, 2009 to be exact, the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security and the Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation conducted a joint public hearing on the peace process in Zamboanga City. One of those invited to be a resource person was the Vice-Governor of North Cotabato Manny Piñol. Vice Governor Piñol is one of the most respected officials whose opinion matters when the Mindanao situation is discussed.

In his statement to the Committee, Vice Governor Piñol revealed that he had warned Malacañang about the potential for the outbreak of hostilities between the MAngudadatus and the Ampatuans in relation to the 2010 elections. It was a warning which was explicit and clear. But in spite of that, it was ignored.

Following is the statement of Vice Governor Piñol lifted from the transcript of that hearing :

MR. PIÑOL : Government must be clear and straightforward with the MILF on what it can and cannot give. Government peace negotiators must get out of the box of the international standards and methodologies for conflict resolution and look at the Mindanao conflict as a problem we cannot and should not compare to the Northern Ireland or Darfur conflicts.

We were amused by the idea of Tony Blair negotiating peace in Mindanao. We were appalled by the suggestion that Manny Pacquiao could bring peace to Mindanao.

This shows how shallow and superficial the appreciation of some of our leaders of the problems in Mindanao. There should be no generic solution to the Mindanao conflict given the fact that problems have different complexions depending on the political, social and economic conditions of a specific area.

Take, for example, Maguindanao. What is the cause of the conflict in Maguindanao right now? It is a feud between the Ampatuans, a big political family and the MILF. And mind you, I have already forewarned Malacañang of an impending bigger trouble come 2010 elections because the Ampatuans are facing another big family, the Mangudadatus, and the Ampatuans are being backed by the military, the government. And that Sends the Mangudadatus towards the MILF orbit and this could spell trouble for Maguindanao in 2010.

I have already warned the GRP panel about this and I have forwarded this message to Chairman Rafael Seguis of the GRP panel.

The statements of Vice Governor Piñol were quite clear. The government was warned. If the warnings were heeded and the government stepped in by disabling the private armed groups in the area, we probably wouldn’t be mourning the deaths of 57 innocent people.

On whose hands have their blood spilled?

The Mindanao Massacre

Posted in Governance with tags , , , , on November 24, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

The Maguindanao Massacre should unanimously be condemned by society, considering the brutality, ruthlessness and wanton disregard for human life that was displayed by the perpetrators. Killings brought about by political motivation is already despicable by itself, but to include innocent bystanders, especially journalists, is something that is beyond diabolical.

This act of violence, occurring at the beginning of the election season, may be a preview to the level of violence that may happen once the heat of the campaign period begins. With the culture of clan wars and blood debts prevailing in that part of the country, it is not unlikely that retaliatory attacks will occur between warring sides unless the government steps in to enforce the law and ensure peace and order.

At this early stage, the government should step in, with the imposition of localized emergency rule a feasible option. Now is the time for the PNP, assisted by the AFP, to implement its mandate of controlling the proliferation of illegal firearms and dismantle private armed groups. The PNP is now aggressively pursuing individuals with expired firearms licenses, but perhaps it is about time it flexes its muscles against the real threats to peace and order and political stability, the private armies.

As an additional measure, the government should show that there is justice in this country by actively pursuing the perpetrators and deal with them to the fullest extent of the law. The enforcement of laws against illegal firearms and private armed groups in response to this act of violence should also be accompanied with efforts to bring justice to the victims. It is one way to lessen the need for the side of the victims to take matters in their own hands and resort to street justice.

In light of the impact of this massacre in the political scenario in Maguindanao and probably even the entire ARMM, the government should now consider holding the elections in that part of the country earlier than the rest. It has been the experience in past elections that the national polls are effected by what goes on in that portion of Mindanao.

If elections were held there earlier, the PNP and AFP will be able to focus on what appears to be the hottest of the election hotspots during the elections. The level of violence at this early stage is almost sure to escalate. Early polls will also ensure that the conduct and result of the national elections will be insulated from whatever happens in that region.

Lastly, this election related event in Mindanao further boosts the basis for my proposal way back in April of this year that the term of Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado be extended until the end of President Arroyo’s term. If General Ibrado’s term as AFP Chief of Staff is not extended, he will retire on March 10, 2010, which is right in the middle of the campaign period. With the tense situation in Mindanao, it might be best for the AFP not to change leaders midstream.

Norberto Gonzales is a Risk in the Department of National Defense

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

The appointment of Norberto Gonzales as Defense Secretary is not an assuring development in the defense sector. Rather, it is a backward step from all the gains brought about by previous leaderships in the department, from Sec. Avelino “Nonong” Cruz to Sec. Gilbert Teodoro.

The National Security Advsier has exhibited partisanship, actively espousing his own political ideology even among the ranks of the AFP, which is mandated by the constitution to be non-partisan, non-political. A few years ago, he conducted seminars among soldiers encouraging them to initiate political change contrary to the policies of the AFP and DND which prescribe soldiers to be insulated from politics. In those seminars, he advocated his personal political ideology and in a not-so-subtle approach, try to convince the soldiers that the current political system needs to be replaced and the ones to take the initiative should be the armed forces. On pressure from this representation, he was forced to stop the seminars which was deemed by the DND as unauthorized.

It is also troubling to note that Norberto Gonzales also recently proposed an extra constitutional transition government, which intended to prevent the conduct of the 2010 elections. With the national and local elections coming, there is great danger that Norberto Gonzales may use it as an opportunity to further his political agenda with the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces as his tools.

These are enough for us to see the appointment of Norberto Gonzales as risky not just to the professionalism and neutrality of the AFP, but also to the constitutional processes.

To top it off, he has exhibited a hostile attitude to the constitutionally mandated oversight institutions. He purposely avoided attending budget hearings of his agency, not giving respect to the House and Senate. As

A more acceptable person should be named as permanent replacement as soon as possible. Otherwise, the AFP will suffer in morale and may affect the professionalism of our soldiers.