Common knowledge ang mga narco-list

Tangena trial by ordeal Madagascardahil alam ng barangay kung sino ang adik. Pilipino may pakiramdam. Westerner lang ang bobo na naghahanap pa ng prueba, tulad ni Delimaw na puro ganyan ang hinihingi – e alam naman na ng buong Bilibid na siya ang No. 1 Drug Lord! At huwag kayong humirit ng facts-facts at logic-logic, mga putangina kayong mga dilawan. Rappler ang nag-imbento ng facts-facts, di ba mga dilawan sila? Logic-logic, pautot lang iyan ng mga propesor na Kastila sa Santo Tomas noong araw. Walang silbi sa tunay na buhay. Pampahaba lang ng kuwento. Tulad ng proseso. Kung alam na adik, tapusin!

Proseso pagkakakitaan lang iyan ng mga huwes at abogado na pumoporma sa bar exams nila. Putangina tapos iyong Konstitusyon pa na iyan. Para lang iyan sa mga tanga na di maka-adjust. Iyong mga tipong kailangan pa ng red light at green light para alam kung kailan sila tatawid. Ganyan daw sa Alemanya sabi nila. Bobong mga iyan. EU pamandin sila. Pero tanga talaga sila. Plano ng plano. Akala mo Mar Roxas. Buti pa si Tatay Digong, alam ang gagawin na walang plano. Kaartehan na iyan. Paano mo malalaman kung ano bukas? E bukas baka tinokhang na pamilya mo!

Hay naku, iyang mga de numerong prueba, facts-facts, logic-logic, proseso, batas, Konstitusyon, plano – papel lang iyan, wala ka pang tunay na nagawa. Buti pa si Digong umaaksiyon agad. Sa Boracay merong mga SWAT at helicopter. Sa Kuwait, umaksiyon sila Mocha at Thinking Pinoy. Ngayon, malapit nang umurong at makipag-usap uli ang Kuwait sa Pilipino. Kailangan nila tayo. Kasi genius tayo. Kahit walang plano kayang-kaya natin. Kung baga sa tugtog, widow tayo palagi. Tanginang mga Mozart at Beethoven na puro nota. Buti pa si Freddie Aguilar, magiging Senador.

Tsaka matapang tayo! Hinamon natin ang mga Arabo. Pinaalis ng Pangulo natin iyong taga-EU.  Ano ngayon kung nag-resolusyon na naman ang EU Parliament. Magrosaryo na lang kaya sila ‘no! Dilawan talaga sila, umaasa sa dasal at papeles. Tayo umaasa sa aksiyon, sa tapang at sa pusila! Resbak pa natin ang mga Intsik. Malakas tayo diyan. Bilib sila sa atin. Kaya pinapautangan tayo. Kaya magpapasok ng maraming negosyo sa bansa natin. Pati si Donald Trump niririspito tayo. Iyong Casino ng Galaxy, mauna pa sa Casino ng Kano. Mas sikat tayo kaysa Las Vegas at Macau.

Sa Hapon malakas din tayo. Kalimutan ninyo iyang comfort woman statue. Laos na Maria Clara. Biktima iyan tulad ni Sisa. Laos na ang paawa. Mautak na Pinay ngayon, kikita ng husto sa lalaki. Hapon, Intsik o iyong lubak-lubak na mukha man ang pinag-uusapan. Huwag bobo, sabi ni Mocha! Huwag sobrang guwapo, sabi ni Calida. Mga sobrang guwapo mga bakla. Si Coco Martin, tiyak na dumaan iyan kay Brillante Mendoza ano. Pero babae ka man o lalake, ikaw muna ang bibirahin bago ka makabira sa huli. Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Hindi tayo mga santo, kaya babuyin na natin.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
Munich, Mayo Uno 2018

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to release the government’s list of so-called narco-politicians did not violate the human rights of individuals to be named as they were running for elective government posts.

He said that the list would just “confirm” what was supposedly common knowledge among residents of a village who knew the people involved in illegal drugs in their communities.


When Bridges Collapse

Bridge ruins through the Donskoy Chulek Riverand people mostly get wet like in Zamboanga today (link) – just rebuild them. Diplomatic bridges burning like those to Kuwait recently (link) are more serious. The EU-Philippines bridge still stands, even if there have been differences (link) – with most of the drama on the Philippine side. One should remember that the EU Parliament represents the people of Europe, and that there is a sizable segment of the population that does not want to fund governments that harm their people. And of course the EU has strings attached to its help – it wants to develop allies with similar values. Every major player in the world does. And so do major political groupings. Why does the Naumann Foundation, close to the German Free Democrats (Liberals, also color yellow over here) invite the Liberal Party with VP Robredo to Berlin? Why does Akbayan partner with European Socialists?

Bridges and Respect

Bridges are important in this world. Some may be at times heavily guarded and seldom crossed, like in Cold War days the Glienicke Bridge or Bridge of Spies between West Berlin and Potsdam. Bridges between people and groups are even more important. One major bridge is mutual respect. The Mogadishu rescue operation in which German commandos stormed a Lufthansa plane held by Palestinian terrorists only got to “roll” when the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff – who was onsite at the airport in Somalia – personally asked the Somalian President for permission by phone, and got it. Ever since borders have fallen in Europe, police may cross borders in hot pursuit of criminals – but must radio their colleagues in the next country to take over the chase. Italian police help out on one particular weekend of the Oktoberfest when many Italians come – to keep them in line as guests.

Now what would happen in the case (highly improbable) that Italian police saw it fit to interfere in a fight between, let’s say, drunken Italians and equally drunken Australians protecting their girls from Italian advances – a kind of fight which is indeed possible given the ways of both countries? Not just mediate and talk to the Italians, separating the crowds, but dealing with the Aussies also? Forget it. No more Italian police in Munich next year, I am sure. But that isn’t happening for now. Serbian police hitting Albanian soccer fans (link) is more likely – the Balkans are a lot more tribal. Now how about maids in Kuwait? Yes, one died. Many may want to leave, but already seemed to have been some cooperation in place between Kuwait authorities and the Philippine Embassy. If escapes were necessary, there are discreet ways to do that. But it seems Mocha wanted a presscon.

Bridges and Borders

Fools. Kuwaitis have dealt with a real occupation by Saddam Hussein. And Arabs have their pride. Cayetano’s strangely worded “apology” saying (link) “We are apologizing for certain incidents that the Kuwaiti view as a violation of their sovereignty” in combination with the arrogant demeanor of Cayetano sounds somewhat like saying “oh, we didn’t know you were that sensitive”. Coming from a country, the Philippines, that is known for hypersensitivity to foreign criticism – not only during this administration but even before, even making a big fuss about Spanish biscuits or American TV. But that same country is arrogant, even pushy when it comes to defending even Filipino criminals in other countries. Now things have gone beyond the usual wars of words. Filipinos have crossed a real red line and ACTED in a foreign country. And not just caused shame to Kuwait by filming it.

There is allegedly a story in the Middle East where two sons allow the neighbors to steal their goat. The father tells them to get it back. More bad things are done to the family, every day. The father keeps repeating to them to get back the goat. Meaning: restore respect, restore old boundaries. Europeans also have their boundaries – the deportation of European politician Giacomo Filibeck was specifically mentioned in a speech of a partymate in the EU Parliament (link).  The attack on him was seen as an attack on all. Strangely, Duterte has not reacted with his usual personal slurs. The warning of possible trade privileges being taken away (link) was part of the recent resolution. No need for drama at all. What else is there to deal with except Duterte and the Philippines? Well, there are millions of refugees, restive Russia, troubled Turkey, a now-difficult USA, and Syria and..

Bridges you burn

True, a Filipina was killed in Kuwait. Might have been that some wanted to leave their employers. But if you already agreed to work with Kuwaiti authorities, you stick to it. Lodge a protest if they don’t let certain maids go. And the EU? If you sign agreements that your dried mangoes, among other things, may be imported without customs duties into the EU and one of the conditions is that you adhere to human rights, then don’t complain. Nobody in the EU is telling Duterte what to do. Simply giving a fair notice – something Boracay never got – of consequences to the relationship.

There was a woman from Mindanao I knew who liked to say “that’s unfair!” in a mock-sissy tone. Fairness is for sissies some do think. Fair or not, “you have to die one death”, they say in Bavaria. Meaning you have to make some choices. Tokhang or sell your dried mangoes duty-free to the EU. Be decisive. “He who dies earlier is dead for much longer” is another Bavarian saying. Real strange. But maybe it means eternal life and rest in peace. And at some point decisions are forced upon you. It is fair if you know your choices well in advance. In contracts, laws, treaties. In daily life as well.

Mutual trust is the second aspect of bridges of understanding. Fairness and predictability breed it. Even if the Philippines miraculously were able to get rid of Duterte, many might not trust again. Even an intact bridge might not be one people cross if they are unsure of what is on the other side. Unpredictable and unfair shakedown artists – or reliable partners of all sorts? A bridge can have gates that are closed on one side. Kuwait has temporarily closed its gates. What is most likely next. Which bridges will still collapse? Which bridges will be burnt, built, restored? Or even abandoned?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 27 April 2018

Who will believe..

Fatou Bensouda (cropped)that Loida Nicolas-Lewis personally spoke with the ICC (link)? Some Pinoys maybe, who think the whole world works like their government, where pork barrel queen Janet Lim-Napoles’ lawyer even was at a cabinet meeting (link)! Well, there is Harry Roque who says “she is rich” (link) and Duterte – the man who invented bank account numbers of Senator Trillanes (link) – even claims he was able to tap the phone of ICC prosecutor Bensouda. The second-rate prosecutor, whose political career was jump-started by being appointed by Cory on request of his mother, even puts the qualification of Bensouda in doubt. Some Philippine articles do not mention her work at the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), a pioneering tribunal dealing with war crimes (link) that happened in 1994 when the Tutsi and Hutu (not Yellowtard and Dutertard) tribes started killing each other.

Very superstitious..

Of course many Filipinos have a certain picture of Africa and a superiority complex towards blacks. What also was spread a lot on the usual troll networks was the fact that Loida Nicolas-Lewis’ deceased husband Reginald Lewis (link) was a black American billionaire. So a certain crowd is probably ready to believe anything Duterte and his group say without proof and pooh-pooh those who ask for any proof. And yes, many are probably even ready to believe that the Philippines leaving the ICC is the “beginning of the end” for the latter (link). Where does this sense of having the world revolve around the Philippines come from? It is really just one of many Asian countries. Could it be that its early role in the UN, as a founding member and a darling of the United States, made Filipinos think their country was special? Its being independent earlier than most neighbors?

“No reaction” from Fatou Bensouda might even be construed by some Filipinos as an admission of guilt – the Filipino street mentality often goes by assumptions suitable to a barangay where all gossip is immediately heard and those who do not immediately react to gossip are probably guilty. There was no strong reaction, for example, by Mar Roxas when troll networks during the election spread the malicious rumor that he had stolen Yolanda funds. His being a bit too aloof and above the fray could have made some people assume, yes, he did it. Recent articles prove otherwise (link).

Well, Fatou Bensouda will probably not be shocked, as there are similar things on her continent. Even people assumed to be witches and then hurt by neighbors. But I had a Filipina ex-girlfriend  (college-educated!) who told me that certain neighbors in her hometown were known as aswang. There are also things I have read about VACC and others who have no objection with evidence being planted on people who are “known to be guilty”. Known in what way? Because it is assumed? The history of urban legends in Manila (link) calls for caution. Cats in siopao, worms in burgers.

Lost respect..

The Philippines did have international respect in the beginning. For one thing, Dr. Jose Rizal is known and respected in most of Asia and inspired other nations in their quest for independence. Second, the country was richer than even South Korea just after the war. Third, the likes of Magsaysay and Garcia interacted a lot with their Asian colleagues, within SEATO for example. Probably the rudeness of some Filipinos who looked down on fellow Asians for speaking little English was later. Not to mention the junketeers who looked down on Europeans for the same.

There was of course back then the glorious feeling of being on the right side – the American side – and lots of Filipinos working for US Forces, US Embassies worldwide. But from that crowd, there were people who told me that the willingness to employ Filipinos went down the moment US bases were told to leave the Philippines. One wonders what all the tirades of the present administration against the UN will mean for the willingness to employ Filipinos there, up to now still quite high. And often working for Western bosses – Americans, British, French. They also read the papers.

And the BPO industry in the Philippines which mainly serves Western countries. A German who managed a major BPO outfit in Manila once said (I heard this in my circles over here) that the main good thing about Filipinos is that they are highly Westernized. There is an aspect of TRUST in this. BPO firms also manage sensitive data. Lose that trust, especially by being perceived as being way too close to a country with a reputation for stealing both intellectual property and confidential information (China) and you lose business. This can happen very gradually.  But with finality.

Trust forfeited..

Because the world usually doesn’t work like among many Filipino politicians who play a low-down game with one another, smile as if nothing happened and on to the next round. As if fooling others was just as much a harmless game as trying to grab a basketball from the other team. Their fault if they didn’t protect the ball well or dribble right. There are things you don’t do, things not forgotten. Fraport and NAIA-3 (link) may be ancient history to Filipinos, but not to Germans or Europeans. This is why I was surprised that Aquino did manage to get EU firms to invest in the Philippines!

Probably more of a let’s see, let’s put a few calculated bets there, might get better than before. Possibly a bit like the trust given to someone who is let out on parole. Has the parolee relapsed? There are still a lot of EU firms in the Philippines. Well, they will not withdraw their engagement. Not at once. The European mentality is long-term and strategic. But they may place more bets on places like Vietnam and Indonesia now. The risk of shakedowns in favor of Chinese partners might figure into the equation – see what is happening in Boracay, or with the possible 3rd telco player!

Past reputation

Foreign Secretary Cayetano speaks with an Ateneo accent, which is vaguely remiscent of the New York state accent the first American Jesuits who came to the Philippines had. High prestige in the Philippines, indicative of upper class. At the UN, he may still think he people remember Romulo, the Philippine Foreign Secretary who said “I want that dot!” – on the UN logo when it was created. But a country that sets aside a UNCLOS ruling in its favor to deal with those who grab its islands, slaps its former allies in the face, and disrespects agreements (ICC) it once wanted to belong to?

Coming back

Talking down to everybody because one thinks one is the bird on top of the new carabao – China? China speaks as if its future global hegemony is already a done deal. That is far from sure. And if it turns out otherwise, I doubt that other nations will be like Filipino politicians, smile and it’s OK. The Philippines might have to fall in line behind other partners who have proven greater reliability. Maybe even behind African countries it still looks down on now. But looking down on now more advanced Asian neighbors was not too long ago either. Pride comes before the fall, Proverbs 16:18.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 24 March 2018



Binaril iyong Pranses

Title- Executed (6211517393)noong Dec. 30, 2018 sa harap ng Rizal monument. “Subrang bait ni Rizal” sabi ng Pangulong Duterte “nagtiwala masyado sa puti, o – siya pa ang pinatay!”. “Itong si Aquino, ganyan din, parang si Ibarra na subra ang tiwala sa Western solutions, ayan, niluko siya nitong mga Sanoping gago!”. Tuloy-tuloy magsalita ang Presidente, nakakapagtaka. “tayo ngayon, hindi na. Halimbawa iyang ebi-ebidensiya na iyan, kailangan lang ng mga Westerner iyan dahil mas tanga sila kaysa sa atin! Tayo, naamoy natin kung may maling ginawa ang tao”. “Mga konyo tulad ni Aquino, hindi na”.

“O, bakit laging mali si Presidente Aquino?” sabi ni Duterte. “Sa Mamasapano, sa Sanopi, kahit saan!”. “E tayo, alam natin, ramdam natin”. “Di ba nalaman sa imbestigasyon tungkol sa van doon sa Mandaluyong noong isang taon, may kinalaman pala sa druga iyong mga nasa loob?” Hinaplos ni Duterte ang kanyang pisngi. “O iyan, di tama naman pala ang mga barangay tanod at mga PNP!” “Pasalamat tayo kay Secretary Aguirre na magaling mag-imbestiga.” (Palakpakan). “Kaya ngayon, bakit pa natin kailangang magpunta rito si Calamaris? Bias naman talaga iyan mag-imbestiga!”.

“Tayo kapag pumapatay, para sa kinabukasan ng mga anak natin. Kaya ang Westerner, huwag makialam! Si Lapu-Lapu ba humingi ng permiso sa UN at EU bago patayin si Magellan? Hindi!” “Putangina talaga.” Patingin-tingin ang Pangulo sa kanyang mga panauhin. “Kasi parang amoy iyan. Iyong mga Westerner, kailangan pa ng ebidensiya dahil wala silang pang-amoy. Kaya sila ang baho ng kilikili, tayo malayo pa lang amoy na natin”. “Tulad ni Calamaris na iyan, sa itsura pa lang niya, alam ko na mabaho puki ng Pransesa na iyan.” (Tawanan). Biglang naputol ang livestream..

At napalitan ng isang video ng pagpapasabog sa aircraft carrier Liaoning malapit sa may Palawan. Matagumpay sila Anselmo sa kanilang misyon. Patago nilang nakarga ang tatlong Exocet missile mula Samar hanggang sa may Palawan. Papalit-palit ng barko, minsan pasimple pa nga sa ilalim ng mga kalawangin na passenger ship sa may Mindanao, minsan naman mabilisan sa gabi, sa loob ng mga speedboat. Sa bandang huli, ikinarga at inihanda sa may bundok at inabangan ang Liaoning. Kilalang missile ang Exocet sa pagwasak ng mga barko, maliit, mabilis at malakas ang pagsabog.

Isa sa gitna, isa sa harap, isa sa likod. Akala ng mga Tsino ligtas sila dahil jammed nila ang GPS at hawak nila ng Ruso ang Glonass, pero sistemang Galileo ang ginamit ng missile para hanaping ang kanyang destinasyon, sa tulong ng maliliit na drone. Isa ring maliit na drone ang kumuha ng video sa pagwasak ng aircraft carrier. Iyong pag-hijack sa Facebook Live ng Malacanan, ibang istorya. Nagulat ang PCOO, akala kasi nila sagot sila ng China Telecom – pero may taga-Pasig na nakalusot. Biglang itinigil ang hijacking para hindi matrace. Bumalik sa ngangang Pangulo ang livestream.

Pawis na pawis tignan si Andanar – habang naghahanap ng paliwanag kay Presidenteng galit na galit. Si Mocha naman, ang laki ng mata sa pagkagulat sa nangyari – habang nakaupo lang sa may kalsada. Dumilim ang livestream ng PCOO. “Buti nga!” Tumawa si Ricardo. Nakasakay sila ni Anselmo sa speedboat papuntang Puerto Princesa. Doon sa malapit bumaba. Pasimpleng nag-bus papuntang port. May ticket na sila sa barkong papuntang Maynila. Napakagulo ng halos tapos nang naging taong 2018. Malayo pa sa kaligtasan ang bayan. Hindi pagdiriwang ang pupuntahan nila.

Sana naman huwag maging ganyan ang 2018. O ganito (link) – o kaya naman ganito (link).
Happy New Year mula sa Munich galing kay Irineo B. R. Salazar, ika-30 ng Disyembre 2017.

Dengvaxia until 2015

Dengue fever symptomslooks clearer to me now, after my first article (link), the Senate hearing (link) and more research. After the 2012 SONA where President Aquino mentioned initial successes in dengue prevention, there were newspaper articles which mentioned a rise in dengue (link), doubting its success. What I wonder is if the increased spread of dengue is related to climate change and to rapid urbanization in the Philippines – with the slums that result, the stagnant pools of water you often have there and of course a population density that makes it easier for the mosquito to travel from person to person.

Phase 3 Tests

The development of Dengvaxia goes way back, but the two most important Phase 3 tests started in June 2011 – one in Asia and one in Latin America (link). CYD 14 (Asia) had over 10 thousand volunteers while CYD 15 (Latin America) had almost 21 thousand volunteers. The active phase of CYD 14 ended in December 2013, that of CYD 15 in April 2014, with Sanofi reporting the success of Phase 3 some months later (link). Phase 3 is needed to apply for approval. The Philippines played a key role in all three test phases (link): 3,500 children were from the Philippines, setting up clinical trial sites in Alabang, Muntinlupa City (Phase 1); Barangay Del Remedios in San Pablo City (Phase 2); and Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City along with Barangay Del Remedios (Phase 3) with Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding, head of the Department of Microbiology of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)  – an agency of the Department of Health – playing a key role (link), including writing key scientific papers (link) and even experiencing how her own child got dengue (link). Seems the most important seroprevalence data came from San Pablo (link).

Since national data on seroprevalence (how many % of the population had virus exposure) did not exist, it was extrapolated to some areas where dengue is endemic (link). Some might consider this a doubtful methodology, but then again such authorities as Balik-Scientist Dr. Edcel Salvana have mentioned approximately 87% as the seroprevalence (see my previous article) and I see no reason to doubt that they are right, give or take a certain margin. He also writes (link) about why he sees the vaccine as good – if used properly. What is also important, however, is that the Phase 3 studies (link) included an active phase of follow-up for one year after the last dose of vaccine in the series (25 months from dose 1) and include a hospital-based follow-up period of four additional years. The follow-up phase for the Asian phase 3 study seems to have ended in November 2017.

A related research paper (with Dr. Capeding as a co-author) says that in the ongoing longer-term follow-up (from year 3 to year 6) to assess safety, we are monitoring the incidence of hospitalization for dengue as a surrogate end point for disease severity in order to evaluate a potential predisposition in vaccinated persons to increased severity of disease. I do wonder if there is a relation between the planned end of the follow-up phase and the warning by Sanofi not to vaccinate seronegatives (people without any virus exposure) anymore due to risk of severe dengue.

Getting Things Ready

In July 2014, then-Health Secretary Enrique Ona (link) sounded quite confident about the new vaccine (link) and the hope then was that it would be out by July 2015. The success of the Latin American study was announced by Sanofi on Sept. 3, 2014 (link). President Aquino met with Sanofi representatives on Nov. 9, 2014 (link) which was pretty soon after these events, then a year later in Paris on Dec. 1, 2015 when he was there for the Climate Change Conference – a meeting that was openly mentioned in the Philippine press (link), not done stealthily as some are insinuating.

There also was a dinner in Paris in May 2015 (link) involving ex-Secretary Garin and Sanofi, and before that Sanofi submitted papers for Philippine FDA requirements in January 2015 (link). Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines (link) approved the vaccine in December 2015. The end of December brought a number of events which were seen as rushed, which President Aquino in the hearing explained as being in order to get things done in his term, saying the new administrations often lose time in the beginning, and also explained why budget maneuvers were needed (link).

Now for Questions

Assuming the best (which I do now after having seen how Aquino acted at the hearing) there are still a number of questions. There were still some years of observation being conducted, who knew about this and who was (not) informed including possible risk factors, if already known then? As for monitoring, Dr. Melgar who was with the DOH when the program started has this to say (link): I know that the Family Health Office and the Epidemiology Bureau of the DOH have been doing due diligence in monitoring all adverse effects from the beginning. Sounds properly done.

Dr. Salvana would be the right person to ask on seroprevalence, and on why certain extrapolations were considered OK. I am satisfied with that for now, what I computed in my previous article still stands – those who WILL get sicker should be few. And I believe Aquino didn’t know the science.

What one knows

depends on eyes, ears and brain – and on their human and man-made extensions, meaning the people who inform and educate you. We all know about the information overload modern social media brings with the world practically spilling into our brains, including all sights and sounds. What more is a President constantly subjected to a barrage of information? So he needs his people. To filter what is important and what is not, to give him what he needs to be able to make decisions. What if they mislead him? He has to counter-check if possible. Mayors in cities have it much easier.

It is I think possible to get an intuitive feel for a city. Mayor Duterte may have known Davao in and out, therefore being instinctively able to tell bullshit from truth. At national level it isn’t that easy. Spurious drug lists have shown the limits of an intuitive, seat of the pants approach to governing. At national level and even more in specialized areas, one may need to have additional sources. Seems that the Presidential Management Office would have specialists (link), even if I am not sure if they are used as extensively and as focused as the staff of Germany’s Federal Chancellery (link) which has the job to (translated from German) obtain and keep ready the information the Chancellor needs for his/her work. Its divisions mirror related ministries and directly contact them for detailed information: Division 1 for interior and justice, Division 2 for foreign, defence and development affairs, Division 3 for social, health, labor, infrastructure and social matters, Division 4 for financial and economic matters, Division 5 for Europe and Division 6 for intelligence matters. With a nerve center like that, no need to rely only on Ministers – who are also politicians after all.

How one leads

Could it be that Aquino relied too much on his Cabinet members alone? A second opinion is good not only when one goes to doctors privately! It may be even more crucial in matters of state. The fact that ex-Secretary Garin now seems to have connections to the other side is a bit interesting. Somewhat like how PNPs Napenas was a candidate for an opposing party in the 2016 elections. Trust, but verify is usually better. And even a highly efficient apparatus can be sidelined at times, as was shown recently by the controversy in Germany regarding the herbicide glyphosate (link).

Another possibility is what I sense – that Aquino tends to push through with things he wants to do, at some point no longer reconsidering. That is a very Filipino trait which his successor also has, as in the Philippines, too much reconsidering can make one lose respect. The other side dislikes it, yes. But there is to me not much evidence of significant counter-indications known at that time, at least in a form understandable to laymen or managers. Specialists speak in details, managers think in terms of consequences, that gap must always be bridged whether in IT – my field – or elsewhere.

My personal opinion

There are terms like “lighthouse customer” for those who adopt a certain product first. Sometimes vendors (in any industry including mine) manage to make lighthouse customers pay normal prices. Other customers negotiate a deal which fairly considers their role in being one of the first to buy. Possibly the Philippines bought too many vaccines to soon at a slightly too high price. Asking for a refund is a maximum demand Sanofi will probably not accede to. But maybe a rebate as not all things were really made clear, since around 800 thousand kids will have to be monitored and a few, hopefully very few, may have to be hospitalized, is an idea. Sanofi does not want the PR damage from a long public conflict – nor does the Philippines want to look like a backwater where they accuse foreign firms of witchcraft. There are many ways forward. But let us look at 2016-2017 next.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 15 December 2017

Speaker Barry Roque

Lechonwas served as lechon in Balintawak by the KFF on Human Rights Day 2018. “He was a pig, not human”, said the Punong Tagpaghusga of the Kalookan Freedom Fighters in Filipino. “sabi niya tutulungan niya kaming mga mahihirap samantalang ang dami sa aming mga pinapatay nila.”. “Bakit naman nila sinasabing mga terorista tayo, kung pinagtatanggol lang natin sarili natin?” isinagot ng Punong Tagapagtanggol, sabay shabu. “at heto naman, kailangan natin ito para hindi tayo mapagod, at walang tigil ang laban”. Sinigaw niya: “mabuhay tayo! mamatay ang kalaban!”.

“Putang ina kayo” sabi ng Pangulong Duterte sa isang talumpati sa Federal Palace na nasa Mactan. “pati Speaker ko kinain na ninyo”. “Bakit hindi kasi si Franklin Drilon ang patulan ninyo, iyong dilawan dapat ang parosahan huwag kami rito” itinuloy niya “iyang mga naglalason ng kabataan, kaibigan ng mga drug lord na ilegal pati na iyong mga drug lord na ligal kuno na galing sa pisteng EU na iyan, mga Sanopi.” Pinahid ng Pangulo ang pisngi niya. “they gone to an international court, can you imagine that? We are a sovereign country with our own justice system and witnesses!”.

“We even have forensic evidence but they say we are planting our evidence. Itanong ninyo kay Secretary Mariano what we are planting. Rice, kamote, coconuts, so use your coconut you stupid EU de puta dilawan who kill our children with vaccines!” Duterte continued. “and that crazy EU really removed our GSP+ privileges and are asking for us to pay duties, sons of BITCHES, what business do they have teaching us about human rights if they poison Filipino children? Tell me!”. Duterte looked at the audience. “Now they should not complain if our customs asks extra money”.

“Customs and traditions, kasama na doon ang corruption”. Napatawa si Anselmo sa harap ng TV. “Sa Catbalogan tayo tumuloy bukas” sabi ng kasama niyang si Ricardo. “Nasa may Sorsogon na ang Kano, nasa bandang Leyte na ang Tsino”. “Kailangan i-secure natin ang Samar to prevent landing”.

In the port of Catarman, Ricardo and Anselmo loaded the French Exocet missiles unto the harmless looking coast guard vessel. The rest of the crew were waiting in Calbayog, hopefully not too drunk. The last sighting of Chinese ships had been off the coast of Bogo City. There was little time left.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 10 December 2017


So much Imbecility

Vile imbecilesis exhausting. Wanda Teo’s tourism charts. Bilibid boys threatening to recant. Alvarez’ wife saying he became a Manobo. Certainly he was always a bobo. His Senate counterpart Pimentel is just as much of an asshole, but I think he isn’t as stupid. Touché for Atty. Mandy Anderson. Kudos to the new culture of directness in the Philippines. If the President can insult people, so can others hit back at those who think they are higher. The Ombudsman telling the President “wala siyang pakialam”, that her work is none of his business, is not imbecility but a language every Filipino gets.

It was a matter of time before the crowd that ASec Lorraine Badoy termed as “ninnies” would hit back. Chito Gascon of CHR telling Panelo to focus on his job. After Panelo told Gascon to resign, which he constitutionally has no right to. Fixed-term appointees were purposely created to provide checks and balances – it would be terrible if one group had all the power without any critics. Malacañan saying that commissioners serve at “the President’s pleasure” (link) is another imbecility. Do they think the President is an absolute monarch, like the erstwhile Louis XIV of France?

How often indeed has the President spoken of himself as the owner of the Philippines – may-ari ng Pilipinas? How often has he spoken of my police, my army, my weapons? Louis XIV indeed said “I am the state” but also said in his old age that “I will die, but the state will remain”. Duterte would destroy the government if he had his way (link) but has not laid out any vision of the “more efficient system” that he would like to have in its place. Will it be barangays with drug lists – decentralized impunity? Plus centralized impunity against Lumad schools and the like (link)?

In the meantime, the real deals with China may have been sealed with the visit of the Chinese foreign minister. Will it indeed be joint exploration close to Palawan – with a sizable Chinese military presence to guard it? Fortunately, few were imbecilic enough to see the lapu-lapu being “gifted” by the Chinese to Filipino fishermen as generosity. Or a few firearms as real assistance. Maybe they are like the expensive underwear allegedly gifted to prostitutes by some pimps – with money they earned in the first place. Or even worse, just Woolworth underwear in Palmer’s plastic bags.

20 million Filipinos remain poor (link). What will be done for them? Will they be sent to work on Chinese oil rigs, since the construction worker jobs will allegedly be given to Chinese? And how about the education of the Filipino in general? Seems free tuition is gone by 2018 (link). Does the present administration want a stupid people to call its own? A slave race, with them as overseers? And the city the Chinese plan to build in Manila Bay, will it be like Intramuros? No Filipinos after dusk? Might they let some Chinoys become “Insular Chinese”? How imbecilic will Filipinos be?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 29 July 2017

A comfortable life

Comfortable anywhere (372543421)is what President Duterte promised in his first SONA (link). I would not want a comfortable life. I like the way my life is now – with its efforts and its rewards, but not comfortable. Someone who is comfortable is in my book depending too much on others, either as patrons or as servants. Getting comfortable means getting complacent. In the same article, Duterte says: “My administration is working to ensure that basic human services are available to all; food and health needs; water and sanitation; shelter; public safety; education; and economic opportunities”. Sure.

Just a few sentences after, the real emphasis becomes clear: “In his speech, Duterte cited Davao City during his term as mayor, wherein he became well-known for bringing peace and order to his hometown.”. This sounds like putting the cart before the horse. Give people a chance to make a decent living thru work and you have a lot less unrest. How is the situation when it comes to water and sanitation in Metro Manila and other big cities, especially the poor areas where there are many addicts? I might take at least a shot of gin myself – not drugs – if I had to endure living there.

How about education and economic opportunities? It could start with small scale industries, there are programs like K-12 Plus (link) which happens to be German-sponsored and combines both education and economic opportunities by training poor people on the job. I doubt that the kids learning metalworking in the San Pedro Relocation Center National High School take drugs. They have a chance in life and most people are not so foolish to waste real chances. As for shelter – if Leni allegedly did not do enough, what is her successor now doing in terms of social housing.

The right mix in social housing – with community centres especially for the youth to prevent disorientation, mixing different income groups to prevent the hopelessness of ghettos, putting people near factories or place where there is work – has proven crucial to defusing social tensions in modern countries. Where is the comprehensive program for this – or even just the first baby steps?

Food needs. Microfinance (link) and rural banks are crucial, not just ranting against moneylenders. Storage and distribution as well. Prosperity is not just comfort. What is being done for prosperity?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 18. February 2017

The Commonwealth Army – Part I – Beginnings

Filipino Constabulary 1905by Sonny

with excerpts from the book “The Commonwealth Army” by Professor Ricardo Trota Jose

“… an army which like the eagle, exuded confidence and security while suffering, behind its proud mien, a multitude of perplexing problems. War reached the Philippines before all the problems could be identified and addressed …”

Antecedent Chronology

Independence missions to US from 1920s, 1930s culminated in Feb, 1930, when the First Independence Congress was formed in Manila; President Roosevelt on March 24, 1934 approved the Tydings-McDuffie Act which provided for the creation of a 10-year PH Commonwealth as precursor to granting of independence in 1946; this in turn was approved by the colonial Senate on May 1, 1934; In July 10, 1934 delegates were elected for a constitutional convention; March 23, 1935 Roosevelt approved Commonwealth Constitution; and then in Nov 1935, the Commonwealth was created/inaugurated, withQuezon as President;

Backtrack to the period before 1934

The First Philippine commission sent by President McKinley acknowledged the independence aspirations of the Filipinos but also added they were not ready to govern themselves. And so the First Philippine Commission recommended the establishment of a civilian govt as rapidly as possible. This meant the substitution of a civilian governor in place of the military governor. This also included the establishment of a bicameral legislature, autonomous govts in the provincial and municipal levels and system of free elementary public schools. The Second Philippine Commission (March, 1900) under William Howard Taft was also given limited executive powers. Between 1900 and 1902, the legislature created 499 laws.

At the end of The Philippine-American War, after July 4, 1901, it must be noted that the participants of the war in general reverted to civilian life and dispersed into the colonial life of the nation.

The colonial “military” community consisted of the Philippine Constabulary, Philippine Scouts, Philippine National Guard and various semi-military groups unconnected with conventional troops and finally ROTC groups sponsored privately.

In July 1901, the Philippine Constabulary was established as the police force over the entire islands. At first this consisted of American volunteers mustering out of the US troops. In addition there were auditors from other nationalities such as Belgians, Irish, Poles, French, German, Italian, Turks, Cuban. Most had foreign war experiences, the rest were recruited from the local provinces and towns.

The period from 1902 through 1934 witnessed the consolidation of civilian life and was marked by the pursuit of socio-economic concerns. Aside from these, the same period saw the movement towards independence.

The Philippine Scouts (Sep, 1899 – 1945), civilians initially recruited from Central Luzon to serve as guides, boatmen, occasionally fighters attached to American volunteers, then numbered by July, 1901, 34 companies (7 Macabebe, 11 Ilocano, 4 Cagayano, 1 Bohol, 1 Cebu, 2 Negros, 8 Panay). Many recruits served in the Spanish-Philippine conflict and the Philippine-American one.

Philippine National Guard (1917 – end of WW1), 15,800. The division was a federal body that was formed by Quezon to show loyalty and allegiance to the US. They were trained 3 months but disbanded right after WW1.

Semi-military groups (1912): These had no connection to conventional troops, but rather were privately sponsored – ROTC units from UP and Ateneo de Manila. Later on encouraged by Governor Leonard Wood, units from other colleges in Manila underwent training as long as officers were available. Similar groups were the First Semi-military Unit of Insular Employees (1923), National Volunteers of the Philippines (1932) composed of politicians, lawyers, landowners; the Phil Reserve Officers Associations (PROA, 1920s) composed of reserve officers, US Army.

When the first Philippine Independence Congress was formed in Manila in Feb, 1930 the matter of national defense was not foremost in the minds of the majority of politicians. Discussions instead were done at informal meetings of national defense groups and from these a pervasive attitude there was a trust that deferred to organizations such as the League of Nations and treaties like the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war as an instrument of national policy. Quezon listened to these discussions but quietly decided to seek counsel with Gen MacArthur (Chief of Staff, US Army, 1932-1937) on the subject of national defense. Before this assignment, MacArthur had three tours of duty in the Philippines and had a special affection for the islands.

On March 24, 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved. This legislation guaranteed the granting of Philippine independence. As provided by the Act, on 1934 July 30, the National Assembly elected delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The Committee of National Defense (CND) was created (Jose Alejandrino, chairman, Teodoro Sandiko, Antonio Montesa), all three were generals in the Revolutionary Army. On Aug 6, the Committee recommended to Constitutional Convention provisions on: compulsory military service, organization of a standing army and militia, compulsory civil service, nationalization and organization of industries, essential resources, transportation, communications related to defense, and created the Department of National Defense to oversee national defense and control a national police force. The Committee of National Defense recommended 2 general principles on policy of national defense: 1- renounce war as national policy, and follow International Law’s lead, 2- have the groundwork for mobilization in time of emergency and war. After discussion and debate, both were submitted to the Constitutional Convention.

With Quezon working with MacArthur, in November 1934 the Constitutional Convention put out Bill 735 authored by Claudio Sandoval: title “An Act Creating the Bureau of National Defense in the Government of the Phillippine Islands, Defining Its Powers and Duties;” the Bill covered:

  •  training of officers,
  •  creation of reserve corps of officers and enlisted men,
  •  compulsory military education in schools, colleges, universities,
  •  funding scholarships in military and naval schools in US and other countries

Governor General Frank Murphy vetoed the Bill and asked for more thorough study and consultation with experienced military professionals. In autumn 1934, Quezon went to Washington DC to request that legislation authorizing MacArthur to head a Military Mission to the Philippines, and Quezon formally requested for MacArthur’s services for the Philippines. On this trip Quezon also requested that Secretary of War George Dern include the Philippines in a 1926 Act that detailed the conduct of military missions. In November 1934, MacArthur assigned Lt Col Dwight Eisenhower and Lt Col James Ord to study the most effective and economical means to defend the Philippines. The following December, MacArthur met with Sec Dern and President Roosevelt regarding his Philippine assignment. At this time Governor General Murphy accepts the position of High Commissioner. In the islands, the Constitutional Convention laid the legal groundwork as the technicalities were worked out in the US. The Philippine Legislature authorized the creation of a PC aviation unit and allotted funds for aircraft procurement and pilot and mechanic training. This seemed to signal preparations for the PC to become the new Philippine Army.

National defense discussions continued into 1935. Major Vicente Lim of the Philippine Scouts, the first Filipino graduate of West Point, and Major Fidel Segundo, also of the Philippine Scouts and a West Point graduate, favored an army created from scratch that would create and train its officer corps and grow its own esprit d’corps. L. Siguion Reyna, technical adviser to the secretary of the Interior envisioned an army from the Belgian and Swiss models, operating at maximum effectiveness at minimum cost. A navy is out of the question because of the cost but a coast artillery corps and an air corps could be developed to insure protection from threats at sea. He also stated that a small regular force and large reserve force and militia would be best costwise and pointed out that the army must be useful in times of peace and war lest the country be at risk of overwhelming taxpayers.

Voluntary Service like the US system was least desirable due to slow readiness and was expensive in the long run. Another system from Prussia and Japan consisted of mandatory 2- or 3-year military service from all males. A third system from the Swiss and Australian model reconciling democratic and military strength received most attention.

Even as discussions were still going on, the plan as developed stateside by the US military mission was adopted. The Plan was drawn by then Major Eisenhower from MacArthur’s Army staff and Major James Ord from the Army War College. Their first version was rejected by MacArthur because of cost even though it came from the best parameters: minimization of cost was secondary to effectiveness under Philippine conditions. A second version was drawn requiring 1,500 officers and 19,000 men and the lowest annual cost of 22 million pesos. Because MacArthur’s commitment to Quezon was a 16 million-peso annual cost, The plan was redrawn to a reduction to 930 officers and 7,000 men, a force barely larger than the current Philippine Constabulary force. The resulting shortage of officers and men was to be recovered by an annual increase in recruitment. The standard training time was cut short; the acquisition of equipment and the full achievement of preparedness was spread out over 20 years rather than the 10 year period of the Commonwealth. The rest of the comprehensive details are presented here and virtually lifted from Prof Jose’s enumeration

  • The formation of the more expensive units, the coastal artillery for example, will be deferred. Expenses for the first few years would center on building barracks and and other camp buildings, but after this construction, the resulting savings could be allotted to weapons and equipment procurement, all spread out over the 10-year preindependence period. In order to save further the army’s reserve transportation was not to be organic: buses, cars and trucks for the reserve divisions were to be expropriated from civilian concerns upon threat of war.
  • Basically the plan was to have a small regular force, based on the PC, and a large reserve force. The regular force would provide overall leadership, instructors for reservists’ training , and overhead for the army, as well as maintain peace and order within the country.
  • The trainees themselves would be 20-year-old males, who would register for duty. From the registrants a total of 40,000 would be picked for training for the next year, in two groups of 20,000 men each. In the camps they will learn the basics of military discipline and training and upon completion of the training would pass into the reserve force, liable for call any time that the country needed them. For ten years after that, the reservists would have ten days of refresfer training annually; after that they pass into second reserve, where the period of refresher training was shorter.
  • The plan called for gradual buildup. The first group will consist of 3,000 trainees in order to gain experience in the process and to save money. As officers and trainees become familiar with training procedures and as weapons were procured, more barracks would be built and the trainee classes would be expanded to full quota.
  • Every populated island was to be defended. This would be facilitated by building training camps throughout the country, with the trainees observing their obligations near their homes. Apart from providing bodies of trained men throughout the archipelago, this system would also develop a sense of defending home and family.
  • Registration and training would be obligatory and part of the twenty year old’s duty to the state. The cut in cost of salary will be redirected to construction and the acquisition of weapons and equipment.
  • To avoid long tours of duty and cut costs further, preliminary military training will take place in schools. The basics of sanitation, hygiene, citizenship, military discipline will be taught in primary and secondary schools. The PC could not meet the needed number for officers. Thus these were taken from the Philippine Scouts and the regular US Army. The Philippine Constabulary Academy was now being modeled after West Point and was to become the Philippine Military Academy. Other short term schools for reserve officers were opened. Special training sessions of two months duration for officers to teach pre-military training were created.

Various service units were formed for both regular and reserve branches of the military. This included combat arms for the infantry, field artillery, coast artillery and air corps. Support services included the quartermaster, signal and engineering corps, medical services, other branches for management and maintenance. A new branch of service would be formed, the Offshore Patrol (OSP) the marine arm of the Plan.

On weapons, the cheapest and most effective would be the rule of the day since this was the expensive item of the budget. Obsolescence of weapons must be alerted to constantly.

Tactically the defense plan reflected the backgrounds of the authors, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Ord. The reserves would be organized into divisions, half the size of US regular division for mobility and cost. Divisions will not be saddled by complex supply organization nor expensive organic transportation or equipment.

Quick mobilization, expropriation or confiscation of equipment and transportation would allow the reserve divisions to be formed almost anywhere in the country.

The Philippines would be divided into military districts, based on population rather than area. Within each district, would be a set number of camps and one mobilization center where supplies and equipment would be stocked. Each district would be administratively responsible for the training and organization, as well as mobilization, when necessary, of the reserve divisions assigned to it. Through this method a force that would assure maximum protection in every Island, District and Province of the Philippines could be organized.

The key tactical concept of the plan was the denial of any part of the Philippines to any potential foreign intruder. A cordon system of defense was practically forced on the Philippines because of the impracticability of developing naval forces to preserve interisland communication against any attack by water. This defense plan was to ensure a defense of each portion of Philippine territory that the cost of subjugation would exceed potential for rewards to any aggressor. This meant defense at the beaches by infantry, supported by machine guns and artillery. The stress on smaller units and mobility would allow for divisions to be moved quickly in support of divisions under attack.

To provide for early warning and to attempt to break up landing forces would be the job of the air corps and offshore patrol. These were the idealistic part of the plan because the planners lacked air and naval backgrounds. Contact and control by air by defenders will be sufficient to keep hostile naval forces outside territorial waters. 150 fast bombers were proposed to accomplish this. 50 small but fast Offshore patrol boats would do the job of deterring enemy navy vessels from territorial waters.

This was the plan on paper of what a relatively poor nation can expect to accomplish and at the minimum gives to itself territorial integrity and the hope that it gains allies in the case of prolonged siege.

Note: This is a summary of the National Defense Plan as drawn up by Major Dwight Eisenhower, US Army and Major James Ord, US Army. Submitted to General Douglas MacArthur on the eve of the Philippine Commonwealth


Professor Jose covers extensively the rest of the history of the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the headings below

  • Build-up Chronology: 1934, The National Defense Act; 1935 Objections and Startup; 1936; 1937; 1938; 1939; 1940
  • From concept (the National Defense Plan) to fruition (the standing forces); The first & second year to implement the National Defense Act; Objections; Quezon waffles; The final forces
  • The Beginning of the End or Countdown to baptism of fire:   Dec 8, 1941, Contact: Into the maw of destruction; breakdown and escape

Thank you to Manong Sonny for this article.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5. March 2016


About Philippine Priorities

This is about a comment about Filipino priorities by Singaporean banker chempo at Joe America’s blog. It has made me seriously ask: what priorities does the Philippines have?

To fight corruption?

Merlion, Merlion Park, Singapore - 20130315-04This is the relevant part of chempo’s comment:

If the objective is to help fight corruption — I can name other priorities —
– Anti-Dynasty Act
– Banking Secrecy Act — repeal or amend to permit criminal investigations,
– Persons-with-criminal-records-cannot-sit-in-congress/senate- or- some- other- high- institutions Act,
– Anti-universal Sufferage Act — no person or institution can demand group endorsement of candidates in an election,
– Anti-Corruption Unit Act — set up an independent body with wide ranging powers to investigate.
– Anti-bloody-nonsense TRO Act
– Anti-Representation Act — charge all giver and taker, tax-disallow representation expenses.
– Anti-switching-of-parties-after-election Act
– Serious-Notarisation Act — have proper gazetted lawyers to do this, not in a side street that advertises “Notary Services” & “Photocopy Services” on the same sign board, parties need to appear personally with ID and proper attire (respect for the law and a solemn event) — cannot send messengers.
ETC ETC ETC — give me time, I can give you 100 priorities.

To dispense justice?

Well, I answered and named two more priorities for the country:

1) Legal reform – the Criminal Code Draft of 2014 was just the beginning as is somewhere in that goddam lazy Congress.

2) Justice reform – Rizal said more than a hundred years ago that the reason why the English are respected in their possesions is their swift and speedy justice system. He was criticizing Spanish judges and the Penal Code of 1884 which is STILL today’s Filipino law.

To look good?

APEC 2015 TrafficTo be fair, the Congress and Senate have finished quite a few laws in the past years and the President signed them.  I did give credit to this here:

At least there is now a Philippine Competition Commission, meaning the Philippine Competition Act is being implemented. We worried about IRRs some months ago.

BUT I have a caveat – I read that Philippines EU FTA (free trade agreement) talks have started. Guess what one requirement of the EU was for FTA – you got it, competition legislation and implementation. We Filipinos – me included – need pressure to get moving.

A few reactions

Joe America’s answer – for which one must remember that former NEDA Secretary Balicasan, a man of high competence and integrity, is now heading the Philippine Competition Commision:

Yes, I was impressed that they met the deadlines. Commission formed, a good data-oriented, analytical head appointed. Saved me a blog article to complain about it, because I was tracking it. Kudos to both Aquinos, senatorial and presidential.

In the publications of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Manila there is an an article about Aquino’s 2015 SONA which specifically mention the Philippine Competition Act:

The Philippines has seen steady economic growth in the past years. In addition to that, the new Competition Act is a positive signal for international investors.
Back to the beginning of chempo’s comment, which I quote which it is appropriate in this context:
We have to ask ourselves first and foremost, what is the objective of the FOI in the case of Philippines? My base feeling is it’s just a showpiece — to show the world there, we too now have an FOI. We have joined the league of “clean” nations.

Figuring out things

Bmw welt + headquaterMy New Year article mentions the clean and dirty kitchen in the houses of those Filipinos who can afford it:

Because of colonialism, the Philippines have had the clean and dirty kitchen everywhere. The clean kitchen to be shown to guests, especially foreigners, and the dirty kitchen were the maids cook. Daang Matuwid was theoretically about honesty, about cleaning up the dirty kitchen. The Ombudsman seems to be hyperactive in smoking out corruption; BIR seems to have been cleaned while Customs remains a problem. And yes, charges were pressed in the Tanim-Bala scam. BBL was not handled well, and has failed. The MRT and Manila traffic not handled with enough foresight.

Walls were built to hide squatters from both visitors of the UNCTAD V conference in Manila during Marcos times, and the Pope. Does it sound similar to some things that happened this year? Yes. There are more honest Filipinos now than then in my opinion, but brutal honesty must increase. Not to hit back at “the other side”, but to solve the many problems the country has. The country is in the process of maturing, and maturity means adressing issues without resorting to passive-aggressive sullenness or denial on one side and aggressive blaming on the other.

Get Real Philippines is looking at President Aquino’s dirty kitchen all the time, while ignoring Marcos’ much dirtier kitchen. President Aquino, by virtue of having been in the United States and his mother having been there too, does have a bit of an American attitude about kitchens I think. Just like some of Aquino’s supporters have bit of an American attitude to dogs. Could this be the problem of Daang Matuwid, and most especially the Roxas campaign? The group that runs it is definitely well-meaning and seems to know what it is doing at least in theory. But they live in the clean kitchen part of the country. The Fast Forward video ad of Mar Roxas shows it clearly. And Korina Sanchez nearly fits the stereotype of the old Apo Hiking Society Song “Ang Syota Kong Burgis” (my high-class girlfriend): di pupuwede, sakay sa jeepney, sobrang usok at sikip. She can’t rid a jeepney with me, it’s too smoky and crowded.

Has Mar Roxas ever taken the MRT to work from Cubao where he lives to DILG which is EDSA Corner Quezon Avenue? Former Interior Minister Günther Beckstein of Bavaria took the Tram No. 19 every day to work. Angela Merkel goes shopping in the evenings – accompanied by some security people of course – and cooks for her husband in the evening. To Filipinos who can’t believe this, much like Europeans did not believe Marco Polo when he came back: the thing about Beckstein I just remember, and about Angela Merkel is in TIME magazine – there you have a US source:

Unified Germany is a relatively new democracy. It has no finished official residence, and if it did, Merkel would continue to live in the central Berlin apartment she shares with her husband, whose name is on the buzzer. “I always show it to Latin American visitors,” says Wissmann, who was Transportation Minister when Merkel ran the environment department. “I don’t know if it’s 100 square meters or 120, but that’s for a world leader. She is living modestly.”

The most powerful woman in the world does her own grocery shopping, dragging a small security contingent to the German equivalent of Kroger’s. “If you have good luck, you meet her on a Friday afternoon at the supermarket buying a bottle of white wine and a fish for dinner for her and her husband,” says Wissmann. “That’s not a show.”

I did like Duterte a bit when I first heard about him, the fact that he dresses simply and talks to the people of Davao regularly. But some of his statements have shown that he is too much from the dirty kitchen of the Philippines. So what does this have to do with priorities? I can only quote one of my favorite movies. This is from the end of Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone:

John Spartan: Whoa, Whoa. I’ll tell you what gonna do:
John Spartan: [to Chief Earle] Why don’t you get a little dirty?
John Spartan: [to Edgar] You a lot clean.
John Spartan: And somewhere in the middle… I don’t know. You’ll figure it out.
Alfredo Garcia: Fuckin’ A!
John Spartan: [impressed] Well put.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 3. February 2016