Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What differs Erap: Ex-President Joseph Estrada at the PCCI presidentiables' forum

With his experience in the country’s highest government post clearly distinguishing him from other presidential wannabes, former president Joseph Estrada yesterday stood tall amidst the other candidates yesterday at a forum organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI), providing practical and doable solutions to a host of problems the country continues to face.

Introduced as a man of action by moderator Tony Lopez, Estrada first thanked the members of the PCCI which he described as one business group that did not impose its influence on government affairs.

Estrada drew amused laughter from the audience  when after briefly recounting his long years in government service – preceded by a successful acting career which also spanned several decades – he concluded by saying this was the reason he was no longer used to talking and was more included to “act, act and act.”

Estrada consistently referred to peace and order as the most crucial factor in making any program for development work, from jobs generation to the creation of a more hospitable and attractive business environment for both local and foreign investors.

Ending corruption, meanwhile, was the lynchpin which Estrada pointed out would make a remarkable dent on poverty alleviation programs as well as create a more robust economy,  generate more jobs, and develop the agricultural sector.

Likewise, Estrada pointed out that increased efficiency in tax collection would be the best way of keeping the budget deficit at manageable levels.

The opposition standard bearer added that the energy sector would benefit immensely from increased investments in alternative renewable and “clean” sources such as hydroelectric and geothermal energy. He added that the privatization of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) which stalled under the current administration had to finally push through.

(Press Release from blog:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reward offered for definned Tingloy Whale Shark poachers in Batangas

WWF-Philippines and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have announced a reward of P100,000 to any person who provides information leading to the identification and arrest of the parties involved in the mutilation and de-finning of the Tingloy whale shark.

Text your name with complete information on the location of the boat and whale shark fins to WWF at: 0917-883-4207. Help us stamp out the illegal wildlife trade to protect our natural heritage.

Caption A - Divers inspect the ailing whale shark on the afternoon of

15 February. (Contributed WWF photo)

Any taker? I wonder how much the reward is....

But with or without the reward, I enjoin all Batanguenos and Batanguenas, home province of some of the valiant heroes and heroines of the Philippine Revolution and of the Filipino-American War to do their part in preserving whatever is left of Earth and its diverse species.

Original story here or here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Batangas Whale Shark poachers condemned, WWF calls for enhanced enforcement of conservation laws

LAST February 15, 1010, alert divers in Batangas found the  grisly sight of a floating, mutilated dying, whale shark with its fins removed. According to World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), it condemns the poachers who did the illegal act--as well as all poachers who continue to defy conservation laws.  The conservation group calls on all sectors to step up enforcement efforts throughout the Philippine Islands.. WWF's Conservation Programmes VP Joel Palma warns that the many poachers at large "will not be at rest just because we are.”

Caption A - Divers inspect the ailing whale shark on the afternoon of
15 February. (Contributed WWF photo)

Press release from WWF:
Batangas, the Philippines – An 18-foot long whale shark (Rhincodon typus), de-finned and fighting for life, was found floating belly-up amidst the rough waters of Bahay Kambing, a sheltered cove in the municipality of Tingloy. Its twin pairs of dorsal and pectoral fins were neatly sliced off – the soft, white flesh glistening in the morning rays. Knife-marks were evident all over its tail – mercifully too think to cut through.

“Scuba divers from Mabini’s Acacia Resort first discovered the mutilated shark on the morning of 15 February,” recounts Casita Isabel resort owner Linda Reyes-Romualdez. “The shark was towed to nearby Caban cove, whose waters were more placid. Together with a Bantay Dagat unit, volunteers splinted the shark by flanking it with bamboo poles and installing a net underneath to minimize further injuries. We wanted to ease its pain.”

Sadly, its wounds were too great – and the shark, nicknamed Tingloy Baby, died the next day. The incident came right after the conclusion of the third Convention on Migratory Species for Sharks, held in Manila from 8 to 12 February. The talks were held to safeguard shark populations in the Indo-Pacific region. Tingloy Baby was laid to rest in Caban cove. It did not die alone nor in vain.

Batangas Fishers Possible Culprits

Bantay Dagat units from Mabini reported that for several days, fishing vessels equipped with powerful strobe lights have been operating in Mabini waters, sometimes as close as 300 meters from shore. Responding to complaints from local resorts, the Bantay Dagat and local police asked the fishers – reportedly from Lemery, Batangas – to leave. They did.

Several nights later, the fishermen returned, this time in the adjacent municipality of Tingloy. Mabini did not respond directly, for the area was under Tingloy’s jurisdiction. The fishing went on until concerned divers informed Mabini of the grisly discovery.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Malcolm Sarmiento said a full investigation will be conducted to find and prosecute the culprits. Sarmiento has committed BFAR’s support until a better enforcement strategy can be developed between the twin towns of Mabini and Tingloy.

“WWF condemns the perpetrators of this illegal act,” declares WWF-Philippines Conservation Programmes Vice-President Joel Palma. “This is a real eye-opener, for it proves that the slaughter of endangered species – even one as big as a butanding – can still take place if we let our guards down. The public and private sectors must come together to refine and polish current conservation mechanisms.”

Once Hunted, Now Legally Protected

Filipinos have hunted whale sharks for decades, the waters off Bohol, Misamis Oriental and Sorsogon once fishing grounds for butanding hunters. Shark fins and meat are usually exported to China, Hongkong and Taiwan. Whale shark flesh, called ‘Tofu meat’ sells for roughly $8 (P360) per kilogramme, while dried shark fins are valued a hundred times more – approximately $800 (P36,000) per kilogramme.

Caption B - A clearer view of Tingloy Baby, with its dorsal and
pectoral fins shorn off. It died on the morning of the 16th.
(Contributed WWF photo)

BFAR reported that at least 200 whale sharks were slaughtered in 1997 alone. On 15 January 1999, 64 boxes labelled as Lapu-lapu or grouper meat made it through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and were shipped to Taiwan. Taiwanese authorities later informed authorities that the boxes contained whale shark meat. WWF has long spearheaded whale shark conservation in the Philippines, and together with the DENR and BFAR successfully lobbied for their legal protection – which took effect in1998.
Whale sharks are now classified by the IUCN as vulnerable and are protected by Philippine law under Republic Act 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193. The possession or slaughter of a single whale shark merits a maximum jail term of four years, coupled with a maximum fine of P10,000 and the cancellation of the offending party’s fishing licenses. Whale sharks accidentally caught in fishing gear must be immediately released, while whale sharks which have drifted to shore must be surrendered to the nearest BFAR office. Manta rays (Manta birostris) are also covered by the order.

WWF calls for all sectors to step up enforcement efforts nationwide. Adds Palma, “More poachers are out there – and they will not be at rest just because we are.”

Shared Responsibility between Public & Private Sector Crucial

Says WWF-Philippines Vice-chair and CEO Lory Tan, “The challenges that face Mabini and Tingloy are founded on a persistent dissonance between the expectations of the private sector versus the capacity and interest of the public sector to deliver on those expectations. The years have proven that government cannot do this alone. The apparent lack of clear, self-triggering procedures stands in the way of improved cohesion. A sense of shared responsibility, though obvious with some, is not common to all. A much more participative public-private framework, with rigorous standards for accountability may provide the way forward. Unless we resolve the disjoint that exists between expectation and delivery, these problems will recur.”

For more information contact:
Gregg Yan
Communicator, WWF-Philippines


Update here:

Reward offered for definned Tingloy Whale Shark poachers in Batangas

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why former President Estrada Can Run Again

 (This is a repost of a June 2009 article posted at Jesusa Bernardo's column at AllVoices)

IS FORMER Philippine President Joseph Estrada eligible to run again for the presidency in 2010? The contrary arguments basically center on the 1987 Charter's provision (Article VII, Section 4) that says "The President shall not be eligible to run for reelection." The rest of the section that the anti-Estrada opinions chooses to downplay, if not ignore, however, clearly allows the former President unseated by a military-backed coup in 2001 another crack at the presidency.

Based on the rest of the provision, the circumstances of Estrada’s 2001 fall from power exclude him from the constitutional ban on reelection. The Philippine Constitution only prohibits a "person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years … to the same office at any time." Since the group of incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the EDSA II crowd deposed Estrada 2 1/2 years into his supposed 6-year term, any reelection bid by the still very popular former President should be a legal non-issue.

For Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, a 2007 senatorial aspirant and bar topnotcher, a support to this argument is the fact that Arroyo, who 'legally' succeeded Estrada via a Supreme Court decision, was allowed to run in 2004. The reelection ban applies only to an incumbent President who completed at least four years of his/her term following his/her succession to the highest office in the land. Ateneo de Manila law professor Alan Paguia supports this argument, explaining that by 'parity of reasoning,' Estrada should have the right to run in as much as Arroyo was able to run in the controversial presidential elections of 2004. Even the staunch anti-Estrada columnist and sociology professor Randy David is of the opinion that the President, whom he helped deposed by way of his participation in the ‘Estrada Resign’ movement and the EDSA 2 mob back in 2001, has the right to run again for the presidency.

Additionally, it can be argued that Estrada has every right to run again because "The President" in the same provision refers to the sitting president, which in this case is Arroyo and not Estrada who served only from June 2008 until January 2001. He has repeatedly stated his intention to run for president in the scheduled 2010 elections if the opposition will fail to field a single candidate against the administration party.

The wordings and the spirit of the Constitution are crystal clear in so far as Estrada is concerned. While the phrase “The President” may be subject to legal interpretation as to whether it refers only to the incumbent or to include former Presidents, the qualifying part that follows clearly does not prohibit those who have failed to complete at least four years of term—as is the case of Estrada. The Jesuit priest, and 1986 constitutional commissioner Joaquin Bernas leads in those who hold the opinion that Estrada should not be allowed to run in 2010. Given what should be the apparent constitutional eligibility of the ex-President, one might as well call Bernas the lead figure in the campaign to ensure that the popular Estrada does not get gain the presidency anew.

The Jesuit educator has been described as a “legal luminary” of EDSA 2. One asks what could possibly explain the ardent efforts to thwart Estrada’s future candidacy. Why can’t Bernas and company simply just let the Filipino electorate decide who is and who is not eligible to run as president or to lead the country?

The answer is in the legendary charisma and continued popularity of Estrada. Despite his demonization in the traditional media during and after the EDSA 2 coup, he remains loved by the majority of the people, as shown by surveys and by how he gets mobbed in his sorties around the Philippines. He is concededly a formidable candidate come 2010. One could even say with considerable confidence that he is practically a sure winner.

It is not hard to deduce that the Arroyo camp is doing everything to prevent an opposition victory for fear that the next administration would run after their plundered wealth. Perhaps, however, the campaign to thwart Estrada’s candidacy comes more from the fear that any fresh presidential term will represent the repudiation of the ouster of a leader properly and democratically elected in 1998. A 2010 victory for Estrada would equate to the humiliation of the mutinous spirit of EDSA 2 and those who took part in it.


Photo credit:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lookback to the Fil-Am War: Democrat William Jennings Bryan's view of American imperialist designs on the Philippines

TODAY, February 4, 2010, is the 111th anniversary of the start of the Philippine-American War. I thought a lookback is in order. The following are excerpts from the speech of William Jennings Bryan (Nebraska congressman) during his acceptance speech of the Democratic Party's nomination of him as its standard-bearer for the November 1900 presidential elections. His speech was entirely devoted to the impropriety and negative effects of American imperialism.


If it is right for the United States to hold the Philippine Islands permanently and imitate European empires in the government of colonies, the Republic Party ought to state its position and defend it but it must expect the subject races to protest against such a policy ad to resist to the extent of their ability. The Filipinos do not need any encouragement from Americans now living. Our whole history has been an encouragement not only to the Filipinos, but to all who are denied a voice in their own government. If the Republicans are prepared to censure all who have used language calculated to make Filipinos hate foreign domination, let them condemn the speech of Patrick Henry. When he uttered that passionate appeal, "give me liberty or give me death," he expressed a sentiment which still echoes in the hearts of men. Let them censure Jefferson; of all the statesmen of history, none has used words so offensive to those who would hold their fellows in political bondage. Let them censure Washington, who declared that the Colonists must choose between liberty and slavery. Or if the state of limitations has run against the sins of Henry and Jefferson and Washington, let them censure Lincoln, whose Gettysburg speech will be quoted in defense of popular government when the present advocates of force and conquest are forgotten.

...If we have an imperial policy we must have a large standing army as its natural and necessary complement. The spirit which will justify the forcible annexation of the Philippine islands will justify the seizure of other islands and the domination of other people, and with wars of conquest we can expect a certain, if not rapid, growth of our military establishment. That a large permanent in our regular army is intended by the Republican leaders is not a mere matter of conjecture, but a matter of fact. In his message of Dec. 5, 1898 the President asked for authority to increase the standing army to 100,000. In 1896 the army contained about 25,000 men....


The Republican platform assumes that the Philippine Islands will be retained under American sovereignty, and we have a right to dean of the Republican leaders a discussion of the future status of the Filipino. Is he to be a citizen or a subject Are we to bring into the body politic eight or ten million Asiatics, so different from us in race and history that amalgation is impossible? Are they to share with us in making the laws and shaping the destiny of this Nations? No Republican of prominence has been bold enough to advocate such a proposition. The McEnery resolution, adopted by the Senate immediately after the ratification of the treaty expressly negatives this idea. The Democratic platform describes the situation where it says that the Filipinos cannot be citizens without endangering our civilization. Who will dispute it? And what is the alternative? If the Filipino is not to be a citizen, shall we make him a subject? On that question, the Democratic platform speaks with emphasis. It declares that the Filipino cannot be a subject without endangering our form of Government. A republic can have no subjects. A subject is possible only in a Government resting upon force; he is unknown in a Government deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed. The Republican platform says that "the largest measure of self-government consistent with their welfare and our duties shall be secured to them (the Filipinos) by law." This is a strange doctrine for a Government which owes its very existence to the men who offered their lives as a protest against Government without consent and taxation without representation. In what respect does the position of the Republican Party differ from the position taken by the English Government in 1776?....


... The Republican platform promises that some measure of self-government is to be given to the Filipinos by law; but even this pledge is not fulfilled. Nearly sixteen months elapsed after the ratification of the treaty before the adjournment of Congress last June, and yet no law was passed dealing with the Philippine situation. The will of the President has been the only law in the Philippine Islands wherever the American authority extends. Why doe the Republican Party hesitate to legislate upon the Philippine question? Because a law would disclose the radical departure from history and precedent contemplated by those who control the Republican Party. ....


 What is our title to the Philippine Islands? Do we hold them by treaty or by conquest? Did we buy them or did we take them? Did we purchase the people? If not, how did we secure title to them? Were they thrown in with the land? Will the Republicans say that inanimate earth has value but that when that earth is molded by the Divine hand and stamped with the likeness of the Creator it becomes only a fixture and passes with the soil? If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, it is impossible to secure title to people, either by force or by purchase...

There can be no doubt that we accepted and utilized the services of the Filipinos [in the war against Spain], and that when we did so we had full knowledge that they were fighting for their own independence, and I submit that history furnishes no example of turpitude baser than ours if we now substitute our yoke for the Spanish yoke.


Let us consider briefly the reasons which have been given in support of an imperialistic policy. Some say that it is our duty to hold the Philippine Islands. But duty is not an argument; it is a conclusion. To ascertain what our duty is, in any emergency, we must apply well-settled and generally accepted principles. It is our duty to avoid stealing, no matter whether the thing to be stolen is of great or little value. It is our duty to avoid killing a human being, no matter where the human being lives or to what race or class he belongs ....

And if the Filipinos "are and of right ought to be free and independent," what right have we to force our government upon them without their consent? Before our duty can be ascertained, their rights must be determined, and when their rights are once determined, it is as much our duty to respect those rights as it was the duty of Spain to respect the rights of the people of Cuba, or the duty of England to respect the rights of the American colonists.

It is said that we have assumed before the world obligations which make it necessary for us to permanently maintain a government in the Philippine Islands. I reply that the highest obligation of this nation is to be true to itself. No obligation to any particular nation, or to all the nations combined, can require the abandonment of our theory of government, and the substitution of doctrines against which our whole national life has been a protest....


... Some argue that American rule in the Philippine Islands will result in the better education of the Filipinos. Be not deceived. If we expect to maintain a colonial policy, we shall not find it to our advantage to educate the people. The educated Filipinos are now in revolt against us, and the most ignorant ones have made the least resistance to our domination. If we are to govern them without their consent ... we dare not educate them, lest they learn to read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States and mock us for our inconsistency.


The religious argument varies from a passive belief that Providence delivered the Filipinos into our hands for their good and our glory, to the exultation of the minister who said that we ought to "thrash the Filipinos until they understand who we are, and every bullet sent, every cannon shot and every flag waved means righteousness." ... If true Christianity consists in carrying out in our daily lives the teaching of Christ, who will say that we are commanded to civilize with dynamite and proselyte with the sword.... Imperialism finds no warrant in the Bible. The command "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" has no Gatling gun attachment....

Excerpts from:

"MR. BRYAN'S SPEECH OF ACCEPTANCE; Devotes Himself Exclusively to Issue of Imperialism. NOT ONE WORD FOR SILVER Pledges Himself, if Elected, to Call Extra Session of Congress to Give Filipinos Independence." New York Times. 9 August 1900.

"12. William Jennings Bryan Speech, 8 August 1900." In Documents on Imperialism.

Images from:




History & the Philippine-American War: A Colonial Hero, an Anti-Colonial Hero, & Plaza-Naming

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