[Personal Note] I am back


To my valued readers,

Have you ever experienced being crazy passionate about writing and then, seemingly all of the sudden, you lost interest?

It became less exciting, less fun, less of something you wanted to do but more of something you want to express.

I am very sorry for more than two years of a slump.
Even I, myself was wondering what happened.

But I have finally bounced back and clawed my way out.
The interest to write my opinion is once again become an obsession I can’t resist.

I am back.
And still imbued with the spirit of carpe diem…
to seize the moment…

be critical…

be involved…

be heard…

 

carpe diem

[Reflection] Death Penalty is no laughing matter


Once a comedian, always a COMEDIAN.

Sen. Tito Sotto III once again was trying to be funny even he is not.

The good senator, who became the enemy number 1 of women’s group for taking a pro-life stance against the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Law, is now pushing for the revival of the death penalty.

If before, he wanted to silence the netizens by inserting the libel provision in the highly contentious Anti- Cyber Crime Law, he now wants to silence suspected criminals for good.

In his privilege speech as Acting Senate Minority Leader last Tuesday, Sen. Sotto made a renewed call to the government to revive the death penalty in order to end illegal drug abuse. This was his mercurial response over the killing of actress Cherry Pie Picache’s mother which he believed is a wicked work of those who are no doubt under the influence of drugs.

In fact, he already filed a bill early this year to its effect which is now pending before the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws as well as the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In order to make a point, he made use of the country’s tourism slogan as reference to describe the criminal situation in the country by mockingly saying that “Criminals have more fun in the Philippines.”

However, what Sen. Sotto didn’t seem to know or simply refuse to accept is that the devil is in the details.

The imposition of capital punishment is not a quick fix solution to the problem of the rising criminality. To legally kill a person as the ultimate form of punishment for killing someone is simply to continue the cycle of violence. Killing even if legal or judicial, is no justice at all.

In the country like the Philippines where the criminal justice system is far from ideal, the possibility that a wrongly convicted person could be put to death for a crime he did not commit is too high to risk. It is irreparable.

Even international criminal experts see no clear deterrent effect of death penalty against criminality and believe that the real keys in fighting crime are in the quality of law enforcement and the active cooperation of the community to the police, rather than making the penalty harsher.

What makes Sen. Sotto even funnier is his ignorance with the fact that when the Philippines abolished the death penalty in 1987 and 2006, it gained international recognition as the only country in Asia to do so and has become the champion of human rights in the region.

We do not live anymore in the days of Hammurabi where “eye for an eye” is a golden rule.

The death penalty is a senseless, barbaric form of state-aided revenge which has no place in a civilized society.

So why do we have to be uncivilized again, Mr. Senator? And that is no laughing matter.

Tito-Sotto

Courtesy of all-about-news.com

[Document] Right to Rehabilitation


This Discussion Paper was made and published by REDRESS in 2009 with the purpose of clarifying the reasons why rehabilitation, despite beingexpressly incorporated in different international instruments such as CAT, the ICPPED and the Rome Statute, remains an elusive form of reparation. Certainly, and as is the case with many other rights/obligations under international law, problems of implementation and enforceability are partly the result of lack of political will of states.

                                                                                                                                                              – REDRESS

REDRESS is an international nongovernmental organization committed to obtaining justice for torture survivors. The objectives and working methods they used focus on assisting survivors to pursue and secure legal remedies and developing the means to ensure compliance with international standards, and in particular their right to reparation. REDRESS consider IT fundamental to advance the understanding of the meaning of rehabilitation given that it is a crucial reparation measure for torture survivors and their next of kin.

For more info, visit REDRESS website: http://www.redress.org/

redress_logo

The Right to Rehabilitation

[Reflection] Five Reasons Why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani


The commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the Martial Law Declaration has once again revived the debate over whether former president Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

Although, President Benigno Aquino III has made it clear that the late president would not be laid to rest at the national pantheon under his watch, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the late president’s son still expressed optimism that PNoy would soon have a change of heart and would finally give his father a state burial.

For those who were lucky not to be born yet during the dictatorial regime of the late president might be puzzled on what this fuss is all about that is seemingly dividing the country once again.

Some who are fortunate to have lived to tell their stories of sufferings during Martial Law are firm in their stand to deny Marcos of a hero’s burial. Others who have had enough of political bickering are now calling for forgiveness and reconciliation in order for the country to move forward.

However, the controversy here lies not on the very act of burying the remains of the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but whether to be or not to be considered a hero in the context of a possible state burial.

Let me just give you some logical thoughts on this issue. Here are the five reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani:

#1 Republic Act No. 289 provides the main reason for the national pantheon as provided in its Section 1 which states that, “to perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generation still unborn.”

In short, it is reserved for those whom the nation honors for their service to the country. Marcos as a former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not automatically qualified for there is also a disqualification clause that says that any personnel who dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service or who were convicted by final judgment of the offense involving moral turpitude will be unentitled to be interred in the national pantheon.

Considering this very intent of the law and given the historical facts of what had transpired during Martial Law and the way the late president and his first family were chased out of Malacanang and out of the country through People Power Revolution, Marcos would hardly consider a hero worth emulating and an inspiration to the Filipinos and to the next generation.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is desecrating the memories of our Filipino Heroes.

Reference:

http://asianjournalusa.com/marcos-to-be-or-not-to-be-lnmb-p10455-168.htm

 

If this reason is not enough, we can go to the next one.

#2 Martial Law remains one of the darkest episodes in Philippine history. There were 3,257 victims of extra-judicial killings, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 incarcerated under Marcos’ dictatorship.

In fact, Republic Act No. 10368 was recently passed by Philippine Congress as recognition for the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime.

Even long before that, 9,500 human rights victims who filed class suit against the Marcoses already won $2 billion in damages in a Honolulu court which were affirmed by a United States Circuit Court in Hawaii. in its 2011 ruling.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is an insult to the thousands of martial law victims.

Reference:

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54a/062.html

 

If you are still unconvinced, let us then talk about the economy under the Marcos regime.

#3 The prosperity and progress under the Marcos regime is an illusion. In 1974, the poverty rate was 24%. By 1980 it was 40%. When Marcos assumed the presidency, the country’s foreign debt was US$1 billion. When Marcos fled to Hawaii, the country was heavily in debt with US$25 Billion. The bulk of these borrowed funds, according to sources had been stashed abroad.

Not only that the Marcoses and its associates were accused of plundering an estimated $10 billion from the Philippine coffers, “Imeldific” is now synonymous to extravagant displays of wealth, sometimes to the point of vulgarity because of her lavish shopping trips to New York City with a huge entourage, spending millions on jewelry, clothes, and shoes.

It in noted that as of now, the Presidential Commission on Good Government had recovered 164 billion pesos (about $4 billion) since its creation, including a 150-carat ruby and a diamond tiara, hundreds of millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts and prime real estate in New York City.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a slap in the face of the millions of Filipinos who have suffered in grinding poverty while still paying for the debts of the Marcoses.

Reference:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/world/asia/philippines-may-end-pursuit-of-marcos-wealth.html?_r=0

 

If that is still not sufficient enough, let’s see if you really know our history.

# 4 Having Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani would mean rewriting our history. This will require revision of all history textbooks to glorify Marcos and depict the Martial Law as a peaceful and prosperous period in Philippine history.

It is not only a waste of public money but it will make our historians look like a bunch of fools. Filipinos are known to have short memories and are the most forgiving of people – a character that will always allow thieves, liars, scalawags and rascals to take advantage, but it does not mean we should stay ignorant and be naïve in allowing our history to be rewritten by someone with some personal vested interests.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a shameless attempt to rewrite history.

Reference:

http://grantleishman.weebly.com/my-blog/rewriting-history

 

If you are still not convinced yet, you are either too slow to get it or you are just simply stupid to understand that this issue is merely a desperate attempt of the Marcoses to reclaim their old political power.

#5 Declaring Marcos as a hero, would serve well not only the personal but also the political interests of his family. It will definitely exonerate them from their past crimes.

Sen. Bongbong Marcos was quite open with his intention to run for President in 2016. He could very well project himself as THE SON OF A HERO as veteran journalist Ms. Raissa Robles described him in her blog.

That will also lift the burden to Mrs. Marcos from hiding her extravagance – taken from our own pocket of course and will still be entitled with a state pension as if she direly needed it. Not to mention that she is the second richest congressperson behind, only to boxing icon Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a mockery to the intelligence of the Filipino electorate.

Reference:

http://raissarobles.com/2011/04/13/why-the-marcoses-want-ferdinand-buried-a-hero/

 

I can still give more reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But it will be a waste of my time if the one reading this post is not smart enough to grasp these five major points. I will just leave it to you, my readers, to make your own choice. But just remember what Edmund Burke once said,

“Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.”

Marcos burial site in Batac

Courtesy of www.aljazeera.com

[In the Web] PNoy defends PH human rights situation


President Benigno Aquino III defended the Philippine government’s efforts to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines in an event that was organized by the Egmont Institute, a think-tank group based in Belgium held in Val Deuchess.

The Philippines was the focus of international attention with the spate of killings, disappearances and torture during the Arroyo administration

President Aquino cited the arrest of retired major general Jovito Palparan for his alleged involvement in the forced disappearance of two UP students in 2007 as a proof of his government’s serious efforts to put behind bars those accountable for human rights violations.

“One of the foremost human rights violators or accused, alleged human rights violators, in the person of General Palparan, who used to be a member of our Armed Forces, has recently been arrested and presently incarcerated and undergoing trial,” he said.

He reiterated his government’s commitment to human rights, rule of law and democracy.

However, he pointed out that justice for victims of human rights violations can’t be achieved without reforming the criminal justice system.

“Now, in our system also, the judicial branch is not directly under my office. We operate on three separate branches and, for instance, the so-called Maguindanao massacre is also a source of frustration for the executive department. There are 58 counts of homicide and murder on that particular case and over a hundred accused and we are still in the process of arresting some of the others accused,” he added.

President Aquino is in his four-nation European trip to meet investors from Europe and the US and to promote the Philippines not only as a tourist destination but also as an investment haven, bragging his administration’s gains in putting the economy in the right track.

pnoy-sendoff-malacanang-20140913-01
Courtesy of rappler.com

[Reflection] When money is not enough


A country in a democratic transition must come to terms with its past in order to move forward.

Addressing past atrocities and injustices is considered a crucial part of social healing and national reconciliation. Acknowledging the misdeeds especially human rights violations is one significant step towards guaranteeing the right of the victims for effective remedies.

However, remedial measures take various forms of reparation. One way is through compensation. This serves both as an acknowledgment of the human rights violations and the sanctioning of the state for allowing or for directly committing such violations.

After more than four decades, the Philippine government through the passage of Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 finally recognizes “the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims” of human rights violations during martial law and “restore the victims’ honor and dignity.”

Compensation provides not only material but also symbolic political and social benefits. First, it helps bring immediate economic relief to victims and their families and allow them to meet the basic survival needs. Secondly, the monetary compensation may serve as a deterrent for future abuses by imposing financial sanctions for committing such violations.

Although harms or injuries resulting from human rights violations are often irreparable but compensation can help restore the victims’ dignity by knowing that their rights are recognized and the violations committed against them are being atoned.

But lest we forget that reparations are not primarily about money, but to publicly acknowledge the wrongdoings and to guarantee its non-repetition. It is a necessary component of the healing process as it signifies a concrete step on the part of the state to make amends and take full responsibility for the historical tragedies like Martial Law.

Compensation must therefore serve to continuously promote and protect human rights. For money can’t buy justice but it can help the victim to endlessly pursue it.

#neveragaintomartiallaw

irr of ra 10368

[Document] Healthcare for Torture victims


Healthcare for Torture Victims

Presented by Darwin Mendiola

during the Department of Health Visayas Health Cluster Meeting

on August 15, 2014 at the Hotel Essencia, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

 

Health care for torture victimsHealth care for torture victims