Friday, November 30, 2007

Mysterious wigman for president!!!

Check out Daphne Osena-Paez's Flickr photo's on the Manila Peninsula siege at:

What's wrong with this picture?

(don't forget to scroll down the page )

Join us in the quest for Wigman for President! :-)

Further comments on the Trillanes "effect"

Really good analysis below by my friend.

RE: ABS-CBN, I didn't realize how many covered the Pen. Somebody else said that it seemed like ABS knew that something was going to happen. I don't know if I told you about A. McCoy's book Anarchy of Families, where he noted that Geny Lopez wrote a paper in Harvard about his thoughts on the government. Basically, it is an inherently corrupt institution, so the only recourse is to control and manipulate it. Are there links here?

A journalist friend said that Oakwood 2003 wasn't really Trillanes' plan but that of more senior officers. He was just the face and symbol of reform-minded officers. So you are correct. He is both a media and military-creation. Was he too rash and impulsive? Sayang, because the Sundalo website looked well researched and articulated.

There will always be a clamor from within the military for reforms and a temptation to seize power. But they, like the communists, and many priests, are I think, inept in the art of government.

The challenge really is how do we develop, sustain, and then REPRODUCE servant-leaders at all levels of society. That's why Gawad Kalinga excites me. GK trains and develops community members and in turn their own volunteers/workers learn from the community. Multiply that everyday and in hopefully 7,000 communities with many other sectoral partners, then you have a national program for developing ethical workers and leaders.

The other program I see for leadership development is the OFW phenomenon.

The leftists used to say countries exporting migrant workers bear the brunt of creating them, nurturing, educating them only to be used by the richer countries. When they retire, they return home and their native countries care for them until they die. True to a large extent, but the Philippines has learned to game the system. With over 8M people abroad, we are now shifting the expense of educating them, opening their eyes to the potentials of prosperity, broadening their aspirations of a better future for themselves and their children, and giving them the courage to demand more of their government.

Not only are people voting with their feet, but those feet will turn around one day with bulging pockets to demand that politicians and bureaucrats shape up or else...

We will have many challenges but as long as we don't lose our democratic space, collective initiatives such as GK or individual ones like economic migrants will somehow force governance on the bureaucracy.

In the meantime, we should consider your proposal of expanding the numbers of the Senate and Congress to further dilute their powers and make them more irrelevant if they choose to remain unproductive clowns.

A friend's incisve post-Peninsula commentary


As you read this, you would have heard that the government was able to resolve this crisis. There will be the usual charges of government's use of excessive force especially the round up of media. Unfortunately, most of those rounded up are from ABS-CBN (10) as GMA 7 had only 2 people inside the hotel. Curfew was imposed from 12MN-5AM.

My assessment:

1) People in the Philippines should get used to decisive leadership. Yes, this administration will make mistakes as the bureaucracy is not used to it. However, its comforting to know that they are capable of at least good tactics.

2) Trillanes should be expelled by his fellow Senators but of course they won't. They will instead focus on the curfew and the round-up of journalists. Trillanes is a media creation. This guy is just a 1st LT Senior Grade. He didn't even command a battalion. He is definitely wet behind his ears and is no Gringo. Its a good thing he is not in the military. I wouldn't want to be in his platoon as they will just get massacred by the NPA or MILF. Moreover, with a little show of force, he backs out. The APC moving in the hotel plus tear gas was a brilliant tactical move. Obviously, he did it for showbiz effects and is a lousy strategist. He has compromised the country and has done the most upatriotic act. To think, as Senator, the taxpayers would shoulder at least Php 200M for his budget.

3) Watch media turn this into an event about themselves. Especially that ABS-CBN was impacted the most as 10 of their people were hauled to Bicutan. GMA 7 had only 2 guys inside the hotel. Senators will definely pounce on the curfew and "perceived" attack on press freedom. Yeah right. Though they were hauled, they were free to take pictures and make calls on their cell. What do you do with people who are chasing their stories and are between the authorities and the criminals. If they want their stories, they should be behind the authorities and not serve as human shields.

4) Curfew and rounding up the media may be a little excessive but the PNP is not known to be finesse players. But we need to learn. PNP were able to round up 2 more Magdalo guys at the Pen, hours after the incident. Follow-through is what we Filipinos lack and at least we are showing signs of improvement with the mopping up and curfew.

5) Government has improved on the PR front by sending cabinet secretaries to TV and Radio. One thing GMA lacks is a really good Press team as you pointed out. They keep losing the perception game. ABS has an act to grind now as they bore the brunt. Expect Maria Rezza to unleash her news team and anchors. Expect more slant in their stories more than ever.

6) Now, government must scale back to gain some points. They will be questioned about the return of Martial Law and the like. They should just repeat their official line and bear the brick-bats. Curfew should not be reimposed.

Hope things are quiet in Tucson.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What next Philippines?

What next Philippines? Now that the siege of the posh Manila Peninsula Hotel is over and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, BGen. Danilo Lim and their cohorts arrested, what now? As we wrote earlier, popular support and mobilization for their call to overthrow of the Arroyo administration will not happen.

Although their actions seemed premeditated,
it didn't seem well planned. The expected support from military sympathizers or leftist-recruited mass supporters did not materialize. Importantly, no credible and legitimate potential leader or replacement to President Arroyo stepped forward. Arroyo has learned from past events and was prepared to crush any extra-constitutional and conspiratorial action. Military and police units immediately overwhelmed them.

The main issue is the legitimacy of President Arroyo, weakened by serious allegations of election fraud and systemic corruption. Yet, despite several coup d'etat attempts, exposes, demonstrations, and personal insults, she has managed to stay in power.

The singular failure of the opposition is to present a legitimate alternative.

The tacky jokes at the losers have emerged. One comment at the Philippine Star website lamented at the country's coup d'etat hobby, which has become too expensive. A reporter quoted an Arroyo official on the possible criminal charges against 78-year old, ex-Vice President Teofisto Guingona. The official said they won't probably file charges against him because of his age. After all, "The Filipino is worth wheezing for...", referring to how teargas flushed out the Peninsula plotters and the VP's frail look.

The failing of civil society, or parts of it, is to ally with discredited politicians or inept ones like former President Estrada in the hope that he would delegate the management of the country to them. Well Estrada took them for a ride and let his corrupt friends and (some) members of family enrich themselves.

Some of the politically-inclined religious leaders have proven themselves to be politically inept.

While Philippine pre-colonial history is replete with strong, charismatic, warrior-leaders, the emphasis was always on their track record (or lack of it) of charismatic leadership, performance (in war and providing for the well-being of their followers), and integrity.

Who among our visible crop of leaders have these traits?

There will probably be more attempts to overthrow Arroyo, but until someone steps forward who is considered a potential legitimate national leader, these attempts will continue to fail.

In the meantime, let us be wary of efforts to curtail civil liberties. This is non-negotiable.

Manila Pen standoff turns for the worse, tanks roll in, media as deux ex machina

As I literally type this, two armored personnel carriers (or tanks) have barged their way into the lobby of the luxurious Manila Peninsula Hotel. Teargas and shots were fired by soldiers, special forces, Marines, and SWAT team sent to flush out Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and BGen Danilo Lim, currently on trial for the 2003 Oakwood mutiny.

Both have decided to surrender because they fear that the lives of media persons, priests and bishops, and even former Vice-President Teofisto Guingona, who are with them, are in mortal danger. They are issuing a statement of some sort right now. It is being aired over at DWIZ. Sen. Trillanes IV is highlighting the ruthlessness of the Arroyo administration in seeking to arrest them.

Military and police officers just announced that the companions of Sen. Trillanes IV and BGen Lim will be arrested, including Bishops Tobias and Labayen.

With the media surrounding the surrendering party, what does this say about the role and conduct of the media in today's events? Did their actions influence the course of events?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Revolution from a hotel lobby

What is it with Navy Lt. Senior Grade and now Philippine Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and elite Scout Ranger Brigadier General Danilo Lim when they call for the overthrow of the Arroyo regime from the lobbies of exclusive hotels in posh Makati City?

Over four years ago protesting junior officers and men seized the Ayala owned Oakwood service apartments and briefly held guests hostage. Intense negotiations led to their surrender. They were protesting corruption in the Arroyo administration and military as well as allegations of election irregularities as evidenced by the infamous Garci tapes. See their position papers, which are very incisive and articulate at: SUNDALO website: (

Today (November 29), Senator Trillianes IV walked out of his rebellion trial in Makati and proceeded to the posh Manila Peninsula Hotel. He and BGen Lim are holding a press conference calling for the overthrow of the Arroyo administration. The same SUNDALO website is urging the Filipino people to converge at the Ayala Triangle (Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue) to “to bring forth a new government!”.

Radio reports indicate that the government has issued a warrant of arrest at Senator Trillanes IV and BGen Lim. This begs the question though, another warrant of arrest for those already supposedly detained?

The situation is fluid because the government has sealed off the Makati area and tensions seem to be rising- if you are to believe the blow-by-blow accounts on radio, newspapers, and websites. President Arroyo has also convened her Crisis Committee and ordered their arrest.

However, they may be in for a surprise. November 30, I think, is a holiday, which makes it a long weekend. Will they be able to rally supporters? Second, Filipinos might be fatigued with People Power type actions to effect a change in political leadership. With the Philippine economy relatively performing well, citizens might not have the appetite to confront the government, especially when the alternative leadership has not been identified or those who may present themselves may be the usual cast of characters.

The possible slide though to an authoritarian regime by a revolutionary junta or a recalcitrant President Arroyo must be considered and opposed vigorously. While we are disgusted by corruption in government, especially those close to the Arroyo administration, we are not willing to wager our civil liberties to effect political change or maintain the status quo. Another way must be forged.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Haribon's conservation video

The Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources is a membership organization in the Philippines focused on the conservation of the country's biodiversity. It is a policy, advocacy, research, and action-oriented non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is considered the pioneer environmental organization in the Philippines having started out as a bird-watching group in 1972, before becoming a full-fledged conservation foundation in 1983. It was instrumental in the anti-logging movement of the 1980s in the Philippines. The name “Haribon” comes from the Filipino words “haring ibon”, literally king bird, but refers to the majestic and endangered Philippine Eagle. It is the largest eagle, in terms of wingspan, in the world.

Check out their video below and fall in love with Philippine biodiversity.