Developing its People

0202jfMapangpang San Felipe Rizal Science City Munoz Ecijafvf 40NOT letting them rot and then punish them – should be the priority of any smart country. It is the way of South Korea, Japan and Singapore – but not of Brazil or the Philippines. The recent discussion about jailing 9 (or 12) year old children has shown a symptom.  Poverty without hardly a chance to move up – exceptions prove the rule – is the cause. The reasons for that are many – a public education system which was still excellent in the 1950s, but was allowed to rot, like many things after the American colonial period. An antiquated legal system with a Penal Code dating back to 1887, with jails and prisons that belong in movies like Pirates of the Carribean or the Count of Monte Cristo, not in modern times. Pre-modern beliefs on many matters including crime and justice.

Rousseau and Hobbes

are not Calvin and Hobbes. The first, Rousseau, basically believed that people are good by nature, while Hobbes believed that primitive men were nasty, brutish and short. Well, he actually said that their lives were nasty, brutish and short, not that they were Digong. Which of the two are right? Because one might think some extreme liberals believe more on the Rousseau side, while those who hate human rights advocates are more on the Hobbes side. Probably it isn’t that simple. People who grow up in positive places – they don’t even have to be ultra-modern, they just have to have needs met and be free of fear, will probably mostly be good, while those who grow up in negative places will most probably be nastier. Parents and their outlook on life certainly play a big role also.

Then of course circumstances. Hunger might make the most decent people steal to eat. Places were life has been an unfair struggle for centuries can develop cynical attitudes to life, passed on to children until the culture as a whole is damaged. Groups of people whose original bonds are destroyed by crises can become outright nasty to each other. Unless there is something that brings them back together, this can mean self-destruct. Yuval Noah Harari, who wrote “A Short History of Mankind”, postulates that people are held together by common beliefs. Religions, organizations, money, government, nations are held together by beliefs. Even languages (and their cultures) imply certain beliefs. Therefore what is considered “correct” in common parlance affects what is believed.

May isip na

means already conscious, already able to “think”. Batang may isip na is a child from 7. What those who argue that a child of seven is already able to “know” things consciously ignore is that children have not yet developed a sense of responsibility for what they do. Possibly, many Filipino lawmakers never advanced from that stage, never developed any sense of responsibility at all, so they believe that a child of nine already is mature. Or did their childhood and adolescence consist mainly of bullying and hazings, recently reported a lot, and most possibly THE schooling in the ethics of impunity (link) which “protect the powerful, not the powerless”. Possibly “maturity” for some in the Philippines is accepting that life basically goes by the same rules as in “Lord of the Flies” (link).

For that maturity, it doesn’t take much time, maybe one can realize that at the age of 12. Forget all naive dreams of a better world. Though the places where they teach their children those naive and humanistic “dreams” are indeed the better places on earth. Possibly this just proves what Harari said about beliefs. And is the rest just Hobbes? Certainly, the main difference between rich politician kids caught with drugs and poor kids making the life of the middle class hard by stealing is the resources they have. Whether a rich person throws garbage out of the window or a brash SUV owner counterflows is just as callous and inconsiderate as the poor throwing trash into rivers. The poor at least have the struggle for survival as a reason, the rich no excuse at all.

Shaping things up

will not work with the kind of self-hatred that Filipinos very often manifest, which shows itself in the hatred of the poor – who are a sorry image of what most Filipinos used to be. Only that in 1970s UP Balara, there was still space for chickens, and I remember (as we lived in UP Area 1 on the hill just above) how even pigs were occasionally killed there. Urban poor in the Philippines just brought their old way of life to the city – until the city no longer provided them with the space for that, not even goats for sale near SM North. Filipinos around 1910 lived either in ancestral homes (a minority) or in bahay kubos. Progress is not a bad thing, but runaway progress put Filipinos with means in private subdivisions, their kids into private schools, and they shop not in city centers but malls.

That responsibility for public matters (res publica in Latin, the original root of “republic”) is hardly there is not surprising at all. Senyorito-like disdain for the poor combines with the consumerist attitude of seeking a quick fix into support for tokhang and jailing kids. Civic thinking (a good American trait) plus charity and compassion (good Catholic traits) are only present among a minority of Filipinos, one has the impression, or else Duterte would not be President, and Congress would not have simply tried to jail young people. Recent suggestions like that of Mar Roxas to finally institutionalize 4Ps – which make it more likely that children go to school – or that of Senator Drilon to build institutions to help children in trouble before thinking of changing the law are but a few rays of light.

Modernizing the penal code was something Senator De Lima tried to do in 2014 (link) when she still ran DOJ, but it seems that was too modern for the Philippines – it was hardly discussed. Going further like shorter sentences for youth, was that considered? Making the entire system of justice more efficient – to prevent the poor from rotting in jail for years without even trial – and overhauling the toilets called jails has not been done. Even Dr. Rizal called the Philippine justice system antiquated, compared to the British. 132 years after 1887 when the Penal Code was enacted, many Filipinos dream of being Singapore but think that being like Davao will make it so. Possibly, a number have fallen out of that delusion already. Whether enough have will be seen in the May elections.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27. January 2019

25 people died

Crystal Meth Rockdue to crystal meth last year in the Free State of Bavaria where I live. The police here didn’t shoot them, although they once helped the Philippine National Police (link) professionalize. A program that is suspended now – good as I don’t like my taxes helping Tokhang. Some Filipino hardliners might say, yeah yeah, Germans and especially Bavarians were really good before, but were forced to become bleeding hearts by the Allied Powers who defeated them once. Well, let us have a look at things and then compare. First of all at the main source of the drugs.

Sources and Effects

Vietnamese markets in the Czech Republic seem to be the main source of meth in Europe (link) as a high police official says in a feature by mü, a local internet TV station here in Munich. The buzz one hears is that Vietnamese gangs (link) are behind meth production in the Czech Republic. Bavaria and Saxony are most strongly and increasingly affected (link) for a number of years now. Cross-border police cooperation helps. Czechs have 200 more investigators now, Bavarians say. Czechs say Poland should improve controls on certain medicines used as precursor chemicals.

The 25 died because of the dangerous drug methamphetamine. Some of the things a Filipino former user described (link) and more are summarized in recent articles in the Bavarian press (link): aggressiveness, nausea, hallucinations, sleeplessness, risky sexual behavior short-term; organ damage, heart attack, stroke, teeth falling out, paranoia and impotence in the long-term; also with the possibility of severe damage to unborn children during pregnancy. In the extreme, it can lead to delusions and psychosis (link) leading to aggression and violence – as bouts, or even longer.

Bavaria fights back

Bavaria has now practically declared meth to be a state enemy. So should the Bavarian police shoot me, or the Indonesian tobacco vendor next door, to scare off potential Vietnamese drug gangsters? First of all, newspaper reports clearly mention that there are even groups of drug users who take short trips to the Czech border to get meth in Vietnamese markets. For that (link) there is a lot of undercover work going on in the border area, with Bavarian and Czech police forces cooperating. Health centers offer help to users. Seems police and health centers work together closely also.

I can imagine that a person who falls into the trap of addiction is more likely to help the state if he or she trusts them not to punish him or her – and can assume they are not in the pay of drug lords themselves. Of course nobody will say how often tips from health centers help police find dealers, and how dealers either singing or their mobile phones revealing the routes they drive and the people they call, meaning their suppliers. A recent movie on Bavarian TV, and recent movie spot sponsored by the Ministries of the Interior and Health of Bavaria, additionally raise awareness.

Conservative versus reactionary

What a contrast with the still prevalent attitude among some Filipino authorities, that raising awareness will make people even more curious and teach them how to do it – for example “draags”. My late teen years in Germany, when heroine was the dangerous drug, showed me otherwise. Novels and movies like Christiane F., based on the life story of a former junkie and teen prostitute in Berlin, warned young people of the dangers. A combination of health and police work dried out the scene. I worked at McDonald’s Bonn near the train station in the mid-1980s, saw the junkies.

Heroine is not much of an issue anymore in Germany, it seems. And yes, there was also the policy of giving methadone to junkies as a bridge to kicking the habit. There were even stations where junkies could get clean needles – to prevent AIDS from spreading more. Bavaria as far as I know never gave out needles like more liberal states did. Bavaria is conservative. What Bavaria is NOT is reactionary. The present Filipino drug war approach of half-truths, misinformation and fear-mongering is reactionary – and hardly effective, I think. Let time tell which approach succeeds.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 18 November 2017


Atio Castillo died

Christian crosson Sept. 17, 2017, probably because of hazing. The details make me angry in their sheer perversion (link) and as Justice Secretary Aguirre himself does not want the details of the affidavit upon which the article is based made public, I am reprinting it as a comment after this article. Why so bad? It isn’t just the sheer physical brutality, it is the degradation of the person that shocks me. Not that he had to run errands for his brods – this is something also known, for example, from biker clubs. There is a final point where I would have said no, creatures like you can never be my brothers:

A glass is passed around. Atio sees masters spit inside the glass. What he doesn’t know is there is a second glass containing egg white. Atio is then blindfolded and is told to drink the content of the glass, which he thinks is full with saliva but in fact only contains albumen. The light is turned off. Masters tell Atio to remove his clothes. As Atio becomes naked, the light is turned on, then turned off, and on again.

This sounds almost as humiliating as something a self-confessed pimp in a shocking Austrian autobiography admitted he did to a woman he was making part of his “stable”. Also a kind of evil initiation. A little later, Atio allegedly passes out after being hit a number of times between posterior and knees with a so-called wooden “paddle”. But what if it was different? What if he, wanting to remain at least a bit of man, said stop and they reacted? This is what they allegedly did before the final stage:

Atio goes around, as if begging with his hands held together. The masters then beat Atio’s fingers using a wooden spatula while he is being indoctrinated by his lords. The masters then tell Atio to again do stretching and pumping exercises. They order Atio to “hold your balls” before he goes to the next stage of the final initiation.

“His lords”. “Masters”. This has shades of a sadomasochistic ritual. Undertaken by future lawyers of the Philippines, no less. One wonders what really happened. Because there are those in the Philippines for whom the slightest protest, even lack of subservience is disrespect. Remember Kian delos Santos, whose last words were “leave me alone, I have exams tomorrow”? Men who are used to playing God might see the slightest resistance as “arrogance”. The Filipino was made to be either timid or domineering based on position. But true character like that of Trillanes also exists.

Obviously PMA does create a number of individuals of character. If at all, this is what initiations are for. Teaching young men how to face adversity, how to face the world, strengthen them. Not to make subservience and thuggery, twin banes of the Philippines, values in themselves. German fraternity rituals of fencing in order to scar faces (Mensur) at least had man-to-man combat. Or going back to the Philippine past, the first batok or tattoo usually meant risking your own head in real combat. There is a world of difference between teaching warriors – and teaching torturers.

There is a certain sort of loathsome bully common in the Philippines today, used to abusing power. Probably hardly able to truly hold his own in a real fight, or lead a group to victory in battle. Probably not even a good leader in an office setting – just used to making others do the hard work, like the servants to the dirty work at home. Would Filipino tokhang police stand a chance against truly well-armed drug dealers like some in Rio de Janeiro? Or even just armed ones? I doubt it. What are the Aegis Juris hazers? Deranged boys from Lord of the Flies, I think. Not real men.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3 Nov. 2017


Nobody Personally Knows

Preparati la bara! Terence Hillhow many addicts the Philippines has. Did President Duterte recently say “My Name is Nobody”? No, he just said “you do not contradict your own government” (link) and fired the head of the Dangerous Drugs Board for saying 1.8 million instead of Duterte’s 4 million.

Nobody knows the basis for Duterte’s 4 million. The number of so-called drug surrenderees in the over 42 thousand barangays is “only” a million (link), so will more come out of the woodworks? Could it be that they have to be driven out of there by the shots of pistols?

Numbers and Beliefs

The 1.8 million are based on a survey of DDB from 2015 with 5000 respondents (link) “of whom 4,694 (94%) said they never used drugs, while 306 (6%) used drugs at least once in their lifetime. Meanwhile, 113 (2.3%) were “current users” or used drugs..” 

The article continues: “Applying these rates to the 77.22 million people aged 10-69 in 2015, one can conclude that there are about 4.63 million people who used drugs at least once in their lifetime (6% of 77.22 million) and 1.8 million current users (2.3% of 77.22 million).”

Now if you go by Duterte’s negative view of people – there are enough Filipinos who think the same way – I can imagine the reasoning: “once an addict, always an addict”, so 4 million it is, BASTA SINABI KO! There are enough reports of evidence being planted, of people getting on the barangay lists and made to surrender inspite of not being drug users. Of course there is the typical Filipino mentality that refuses to believe in innocent until proven guilty. Guess the Church idea of original sin really stuck.

The Blameless Ones

are of course always the higher ups in the Philippines, and those who strive to bask in the glory of being the supporters of the current powers that be. Sinfulness is projected to the other side, and the danger of the other side is exaggerated while the own side can do no wrong. I wonder how many secret Muslims and Jews Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada estimated back in the days. Even converts were suspected of not being real Christians in his time. Somewhat like former drug users.

The next bogeyman is terrorism, but Philippine Graphic editor-in-chief Joel Pablo Salud very rightly warns:  (link): “terror organizations rely [on convincing] you that the government cannot be trusted”. So do crime organizations for that matter, recruiting in ghettos and among persecuted minorities. There used to be secret dialects in Europe, known as thieves’ cant (link) spoken by groups of people outside the walls of cities, deprived of the opportunities and the respect of being true citizens.

Acting With Sense

is to stop all the mad crusades going on and concentrate on dealing with things efficiently and rationally. Set priorities. Get the big fish first, and I don’t mean De Lima. Watch the small fish to get to the big fish. This can mean tapping phones and monitoring bank transfers – how about getting rid of excessive bank secrecy (link)? And last but not least build TRUST in the government and in the system. A hard sell. Everybody has to have personal knowledge of being respected. And having opportunities.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 27. May 2017

Tratong alipin ba

The Lash., ca. 1863 (5574585348)ang talagang hinahanap ng Pilipino? Galing kay Sandra Cam (link), sa Kongresista (link), sa Senado (link), sa Presidente (link) o kaya kahit sa pampook na opisyal (link)? Sa huling nakalink, nakakatakot pa talaga ang konklusiyon ni Manolo Quezon: The most troubling about Arturo Lascañas is that he must surely be only one of many hitmen working for many local leaders with many more victims under their belts, applauded on the one hand by their constituents, and enjoying impunity because they are valuable allies for national leaders on the other. Meanwhile, anyone holding a contrary opinion is confronted with the possibility that expressing his mind could have lethal results. Sa madaling salita, kumontra ka sa isang meyor, baka patay ka. Sa bagay, baka malagay ka na rin sa drug list kung galit sa iyo ang barangay captain. Tama na siguro sa iilang mga may topak diyan na “nayayabangan” sila. Buti pang masigawan na lang ni Sandra Cam.

Pero kahit hindi ka matokhang, matroll o pakitaan ng pagkaastig ng mga iyan, puwede ka ring mabulok na lang kung saan-saan, tulad nitong iniistorya ni Joel Pablo Salud (link):  I and my wife once visited the resettlement houses built in Calauag, Laguna. Roughly 48,000 people were resettled there at the time from various parts of Metro Manila. Sure, they were given houses. But the promised living conditions, as well as opportunities for work, were denied them. These famillies, hard up as they were to put food on their tables, were forced to pay for their electricity bills (which came by way of generators), fetch supplies of water from miles away, and steal from neighbors if only to get by. Children as young as 12 took to prostituting their young bodies for cups of noodles and coffee. Husbands were also forced to make that trip back to Metro Manila for work, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves. Gangs began their felonious job of controlling the villages. The houses were dilapidated structures, without ceilings, walls barely holding up the roofs, looking good on the outside but crumbling in the inside and infested by termites.. Crime allegedly rose in that part of Laguna as incidents of poverty and violence spiked.

Para na talagang mga favela ng Brazil o township ng South Africa ang mga lugar na ganyan. Hawak ng mga gang, pero para na ring mga gang leader ang kilos ng iilang mga local officials (ano pa nga ba iyong kung may mga hawak kang killer?) at halos ganoon na rin ang asta ng iilang mga mas mataas pang opisyales. Sa kanila ka dapat matakot – hindi sa batas o regulasyon. Dahil kung malakas ang kapit mo, marami sigurong paraan. Kung mahina ka naman sa matataas, maaring kawawa ka. Ibang mundo ito kaysa iyong mundo na nakabase sa batas na sinusundan ng mga tao.

Kapag nakikita ko ang Pilipinas ngayon, naiisip ko itong artikulo tungkol sa Sicily (link): being a Sicilian myself I have observed and thought about how power is articulated into the history of Sicily. If you notice, Sicilians look up to people and institutions that represent the power. The power is something to be feared, but also could allow you favours, and [those in power might share] some of the wealth. In a nutshell, I would say there is this kind of medieval relationship with power. Kapit, palakasan, dilihensiya. Kultura ng padriño at mga “inaanak”. At biktima.

Malay ko nga ba, baka naman iyong iilang mga “disente” diyan sa Pilipinas, mas suwabe lang kaysa iyong mga magagaspang na lumalabas ngayon. Iyong mga iilang disente diyan, baka katulad ng mga Corleone na may postura, samantalang iyong mga nasa poder ngayon, mas katulad ng medyo baduy at magaspang na Don na si Tony Soprano. Sabi ng maraming mga pabor sa gobyerno ngayon, ipokrito raw ang mga disente. Kung tama sila, sino pa ba diyan ang matino, magpakatiwalaan – at hindi lang ginagamit ng mga iba’t-ibang grupo diyan? Hindi ko pa ito masabi.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, ika-10 ng Marso 2017



Usapan na matino

RB Treuchtlingen-Gemündenang kailangan ng Pilipinas ngayon, hindi na iyong drama na nakakasawa na at nakakalito pati. Malaking bansa ang Pilipinas, kaya imposibleng malaman ng Presidente o ng kahit sino ang talagang nangyayari sa buong bansa. Merong mga narereport na pulis na gumagamit sa gyera laban sa droga para mangkotong (link) – kaya kailangang alamin kung saan nagkaroon ng mga abuso ng kapangyarihan – ng iilang pulis, ng iilang barangay captain (link) o kung sino pa man. Papel ito ng taongbayan, sa tulong ng mga pahayagan at nang social media, pati na rin pamahalaan at hukuman.

Kahit saan nangyayari na may nababaril ang pulis – kahit dito sa Alemanya noong July 18. May binatang Syrian na nagwala sa tren na may dalang weapons (link). Hindi gaanong matagal ang debate rito tungkol sa nangyari, dahil iyong mga tanong ng iilang mga “berde” (partido ito na nasa kaliwa) sinagot agad ng isang eksperto ng police union. Sinabi nito na kung inatake ka na may axe, madaling sabihin na barilin mo sa binti para hindi na makaabante, pero sa aktuwal mahirap tumama kapag kailangan mong mag-react. Tapos ang isang normal na usapan. Hindi parang sa Pinas na walang nararating ang usapan.

At iba pa ang sitwasyon sa Würzburg dahil hindi ito pag-aresto na napaghahandaan. Ang nakikita ko sa balita kapag may inaaresto rito na posibleng may armas, lamang talaga ang mga pulis. Marami sila at madalas naka-armor pa. Mahirap kasi kung masanay ang lahat sa puro barilan na parang sa Wild West. Baka naman sa kagustuhang magkaroon ng mabilis na resulta, kulang sa backup ang mga umaaresto ngayon sa Pilipinas. Sila din ang kawawa dahil nakakatakot din para sa kanila. Hindi natin alam kung ilan ang nagpanic at bumaril, lalo na iyong mga batang pulis.

Nakita ko rito sa mga bansang mas asensado kung paano sila maglutas ng problema. Unang-una, alam nila na walang aksyon na perpekto. Pangalawa, lahat ng mali inaalam, walang tinatago. Pangatlo, iyong kaalaman tungkol sa mga pagkakamali, ginagawang aral para hindi paulit-ulit na mangyari. Dahil anong silbi ng pagpaparusa at pagpapahiya lamang, kung mangyayari ulit?

Lahat ng bansa, negosyo o tao na successful, nagkamali na, pero natuto rito. Sana iyong mga lessons learned ang atupagin sa susunod, para hindi na naman paulit-ulit ang history ng Pilipinas.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 21 August 2016

In Operation Archimedes

Book of Lemmas Prop 2“law enforcement authorities from 34 countries, coordinated and supported by Europol from its headquarters in The Hague… targeted organised crime groups and their infrastructures across the European Union (EU) in a series of actions in hundreds of locations, with the cooperation of Eurojust, Frontex and Interpol.” (link)  – strangely enough, I hardly noticed anything in the mainstream press in late September 2014, when 1027 were arrested, 599 kg of cocaine, 200 kg of heroin and 1.3 tonnes of cannabis were seized, among other things.

Now maybe, for all I know, Oplan Tokhang is really working in the Philippines with all its shock and awe. But I somehow doubt it, even if I admit that living in Europe for a long time has cured me a bit of the showbiz, action-movie mentality that still seems to dominate the Philippines. But I can imagine that Operation Archimedes will have had typical components of a modern police operation against organized crime – including monitoring communications of high-level suspects and follow the money. Not concentrating on low level users, dealers and local kingpins.

The Philippines of course has an issue with its bank secrecy laws – it could for all we know be a paradise for all kinds of illicit money (link). And if one looks at what happened during the Bangladesh Central Bank heist (link), who knows where the major drug lords supplying the country now have their money? All they might have to do is lay low for now and wait for better days. Does anyone really believe that a major drug lord will have shabu in his home? What is being done about controlling the flow of chemicals (and medicines) that could be used to make that drug?

There are probably two aspects of the drug problem in the Philippines – the local and the broader aspect. The local aspect is that of drug users and especially addicts committing crimes to finance their habit, or because of the mental state induced by drugs. The broader aspect is that of illegal money corrupting society as a whole – which could be handled with better money laundering laws.

Playing cowboys and Indians – plus playground politics, will not solve these issues long-term. But is doing more harm, with lives lost and reputations damaged. Time to think of better solutions?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 20. August 2016