At Ground Level

Underdevelopment inertia 

Besides the slowdown in the growth of gross domestic product last year (to 6.1% from 7.2% in 2013), government economic planners have acknowledged that national poverty incidence in the first half of 2014 rose to 25.8%, from 24.6% in first-half 2013. In 10 of the 17 regions the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded double-digit spikes in 

Posted 4 years ago by

Govt shields US role in Mamasapano tragedy

If you have monitored the Senate hearings on the January 25 Mamasapano tragedy and the media reportage, can you adjudge as truthful the government assertion that there was no American involvement in the planning and execution of Operation Plan Exodus to “take down” Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Abdul Basit Usman? Foreign Affairs Secretary 

Posted 5 years ago by

US hand in SAF tragedy confirmed

ndeed the Americans did it. They planned, funded, and closely monitored the execution of “Operation Wolverine/Exodus” carried out last Jan. 25 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao by the PNP Special Action Force they had trained and equipped. The objective was to arrest or kill Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan” and his alleged local bomb-making associate, Abdul 

Posted 5 years ago by

Can GPH-NDFP peace talks gain ground in 2015?

Only 18 months remain of President Aquino’s six-year term.  He bows out in July 2016. In the new-year spirit of fulfilling a resolution — or an electoral-campaign promise he made in April 2010 — will P-Noy resume formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines with the goal of signing at least 

Posted 5 years ago by

Torture in US, Philippines: We need to be outraged

Torture — including the most brutal type used by state security forces on suspected “enemies of the state” — is back in media focus both in the United States and the Philippines. And human rights groups are challenging both Presidents Obama and Aquino: “What are you doing about it?” Last Tuesday, eve of International Human 

Posted 5 years ago by

‘Mistaken-identity’ arrests

The AFP-PNP counterinsurgency forces have done it again: they arrested two elderly persons in Mexico, Pampanga whom they mistook for “top leaders” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army. Arrested last Oct. 1 were Lourdes Quioc, 64, a village “hilot” (midwife), and Reynaldo Ingal, 63, a retired driver. The Central Luzon PNP used 

Posted 5 years ago by

Israel, US complicit in spurring Gaza war

Now on its 26th day, the Israeli war against the Hamas militants in Gaza — the third since Hamas won the 2006 elections in that densely-populated strip of Palestinian territory along the Mediterranean Sea coast — has gravely affected the civilian population, pushing them to “the brink of humanitarian disaster.” The Palestinian death toll has 

Posted 5 years ago by

Hasty, tactless move to dispute DAP ruling

It appears that President Aquino acted hastily and tactlessly when he decided to publicly defend the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and dispute the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision declaring it unconstitutional. He did so in a televised speech on Monday, wherein he warned of a clash between the executive and the judiciary that may require the 

Posted 5 years ago by

Basic problems as root causes of armed conflict

Thirty-three years ago the late Jose W. Diokno, eminent senator, human rights defender and quintessential nationalist, identified four “basic problems” of Philippine society, thus: 1. Widespread deep poverty among our people and inequality in wealth, privilege, and power; 2. Although supposedly independent, we are not really sovereign. With their military bases, the US government and 

Posted 5 years ago by

My ‘love affair’ with the justice system

On April 7 I’ll turn 75 years old. I had thought that my life – 50 years of which I have dedicated to activism for social and political change — would now move on towards relative quietude. Until I got an unexpected birthday gift: a rekindled “love affair.” No, not the kind you may instantly 

Posted 5 years ago by