Changing cultures …

“Culture: … 5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations  b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group … c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization … d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic …” – Merriam-Websters 11th Collegiate Dictionary

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” and “New ruler, New rules.” (Bagong hari, Bagong patakaran)

How often have we been slapped with these as old-as-bureaucracies truisms? In all variants of wordings yet all however peddled as irresistibly stubborn cultural realities “… we must just learn to live with.”

The former veiled as an unyielding social dictum when really it is more an implicit justification to retain entrenched archaic thinking and ways. Then ironically when it’s equally convenient, the latter to defend flip-flopping on sound policies and practices claimed as acts of enlightenment and liberation while more factually it is done simply because a preceding deemed-antagonistic authority introduced them.

Yet even more likely, more often in both cases these tiered “justifications” are mere covers to deeper cover stories. In the end these are attempts to sanitize their proponents’ vested interests. That in one instance is to perpetuate a self-beneficial status quo while in the other to revert to a status quo that will accrue to that same self-benefit.  Whatever in all instances it capitalizes on, exploits and manipulates cultural inertia.

In this context it is thus encouraging that in a fresh multi-author publication we glimpse clinical exposes, viable arguments and straight approaches to counter and correct such culturally-weighted mal-adaptations. Doing that zeroed-in on an as rigidly emplaced institution as the Philippine military adds to the value of the work. More so with it’s tangent references to a less than functional judicial system and a less than responsive legislature thrown-in. But most of all because of the validity and timeliness of the observations, insights, critiques and recommendations it contains taken against the attendant urgency of the outcomes involved. – pdt 12_0104

The Enemy Within – An inside story on military corruption;

  Glenda M Gloria, Aries Rufo and Gemma Bagayaua-Mendoza; Public   Trust Media Group Inc.; 2011; Quezon City

 “… Wong acknowledged the military’s inherent difficulty in confronting the  problem. ‘Just about every unit commander and their staff’ from headquarters practice conversion, he said. ‘If we are really serious in catching the perpetrators of this crime, we might have to wipe out the entire chain of command of the AFP!’

  “This is not to say that the defense and military establishments never tried.

  “Former Sen. Orland Mercado, the first civilian to be named defense secretary post-Marcos, planted the first seeds of reform in 1998. The US assisted him with a Joint Defense Assessment (JDA) program that conducted an exhaustive management audit of the military. Reyes replaced him after the ouster of President Joseph Estrada in 2001.”  – pp. 27 -28


“The reforms introduced by Cruz and Mercado during their respective terms ended up as casualties of Congress’ failure to perform its primary function of institutionalizing them through legislation.

 “Because the reforms were never codified, they became vulnerable to the political whims of political leaders.

 “This is not the only area where Congress was negligent.” – p. 54


 “ ‘Since the time of Marcos, that has been the policy. It was considered a security issue,’ the budget department source told us. After martial law, political instability during the time of President Corazon Aquino also made it difficult to push the issue. ‘You had to handle them with a little care because they held the guns.’ Budget official were also in awe of the fact that the officers and men of the military are the only ones in government who face the real danger of being killed whenever they go out in the field..” – p.56

“… The decades-long focus on labor-intensive domestic wars, and the incentives that go with it, has made the military willing to perpetuate the status quo of a bloated army, a poor inventory, and a familiar enemy.

“Confronted with a weak insurgency and a Muslim rebellion aching for a political settlement … but beyond our territory are conflicts and disputes needing the attention of the military … now is the best possible time for the AFP to change its ways.”  – pp. 115-116

Beyond the shadows …

… Integrity and Honesty will ensure that Social Justice will prevail in our land and with it bring progress.  For where and when there is equity among men, then each man is drawn to make real all his potentials.” –

No living organism can long exist, less so prosper, lost in darkness. Cast over by  shadows full, meaningful and productive life withers, with death an inevitable outcome.

Yet just as the most primal life forms seek life beyond the shadows more so man. Even if in the struggle he will risk that life itself.

Cast into poverty and material want men will complain yet will ultimately if begrudgingly yield  and accept an impoverished lot for survival’s sake. Yet made to suffer injustice men will rise and take the law into their own hands. Enlightened or recklessly otherwise; successfully or fatally. – pdt; 020112

Shadow of Doubt – Probing the Supreme Court;

Marites Dañguilan Vitug; Public Trust Media Group, Inc.; 2010; Quezon City

” With the illumination of hindsight, Romulo [Ricardo] agreed with SCAW [Supreme Court Appointments Watch] and sought stronger vetting by having a research staff that would thoroughly check records of judges for promotion, tapping government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the National Bureau of Investigation for background checks, posting records of nominees on the JBC [Judicial and Bar Council] website, and holding public hearings where oppositors could present their case (apart from public interviews). The JBC website announces vacancies, interview schedules, and applicants for various posts. But it doesn’t post the records of applicants.

“The reality is, however, that the JBC doesn’t have the resources for a research staff and the NBI is stretched thin, unable to assist the JBC. More than half of the JBC’s 2009 budget of P45 million (the highest it got in nine years) went to salaries alone. It had zero funds for books and information technology.” – p.111 [Bracketed inserts mine]

“… This kind of vote, although common on the Court, actually runs counter to the Constitution which says that Justices should always come up, in their decisions, with the facts of the case, the law, and their conclusion. This way, the judges and Justices are prevented from voting without reasons.

“Voting ‘in the result’ can mean that Justices are unprepared. This was what happened in the controversy that sent convulsions through the Court. Nine Justices agreed only ‘in the reuslt’ in Paras v. Limkaichong, a bitter election dispute. This time, Chief Justice Puno called the attention of the Justices and they decided to withhold promulgation of the decision – which, by that time, had been leaked to a litigant.” – p.154

“Case studies in judicial reform in the region are replete with lessons on the importance of firm and  committed leadership. ‘It is the nature and quality of leadership which is critical to the success of judicial reform,’ wrote Livingston Armytage in Searching for Success in Judicial Reform, a documentation of experiences of Asia-Pacific countries from Mongolia to Vanuatu.

” Introducing change, especially in a conservative institution, can be tough. Motivating people and sustaining programs that yield long-term results in this age of instant messaging and everything-on-demand is like swimming against the current. Puno wanted a starring role in his three-and-a-half years at the helm of the judiciary and this meant showing highly visible but short-term gains. Systemic reforms, unfortunately, don’t lend themselves to instant successes.” – p.232

Bail and Plug

Its what we have got to start doing today

and keep doing


while God grants us the light to see,

and, we still can.

Picture it: Your boatful of shipwrecked survivors is tossed and heaved rabidly by a tempestuous sea. The sky and sea merge in darkness blanketing everything like a death shroud. Fear is frozen on the survivors’ faces by the streaks of lightning that rips the heavens in thundering white flashes. The terror is palpable and its scent reeks over the musky and salty sea from the secretions and body odor of those clinging to the boat, to life itself. Even cried out prayers are inaudible to the pleading supplicants over the insane din. The fragile craft fills with water from above, the swirling winds and most frighteningly from the sea boiling through countless leaks in the boat. Flooding it as steadily as despair drowns the desolate souls aboard. They edge tethering at the brink of surrender. Surely, death is mere moments away – held back only until the sea swamps the boat.

To keep desperate people in a floundering boat alive in a survival scenario at sea is straight forward. The less water in the boat, the more likely it will stay afloat and that enhances the probability of their survival. Enabling them to navigate and stir their vessel to safer shores and from there move on to more productive lives.

Bailing out the flooding water is the trick then. But for this to work – the bailing must be sustained at a rate faster than the flooding. What then if the water rages in faster from leaks in the boat? Then bailing would be illusory. Not enough. It alone would be a losing battle and it would only be a matter of time for the boat to be swamped. Instead the simultaneous and systematic plugging of the leaks is the logically real, cost-effective remedy.

TETP regards our contemporary times and national situation equivalently since its inception.

Our raging waters are the resultant conditions and myriad of problems that overwhelm our nation – the imaginary boat. This, our boat is endangered by the cumulative conditions and problems that today have festered and been exacerbated by time, neglect, oblivious ignorance, deliberate selfishness and planned criminal manipulation. This, our continually evolving situation confronts us in countless forms, scopes and proportions. But it is essentially focalized in incompetence and corruption with all their debilitating and destructive facets which are ultimately manifested in poverty, want and deprivation in all sorts, dimensions and horrid distortions – material, physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual.

Our condition and problems are the stuff many in the broadcast, cyber and alternative media love to sensationalize and print folks cash-in on in screaming headlines. These are the things, outcomes and interactions that skeptics, doomsayers and Philippine bashers condemningly preface as “only in the Philippines” and then picnic on to sell themselves and their dark messages. As too politicians, opportunists and adventurists who conjure these as fodder for their political circuses and messianic rebellions while pundits milk these ceaselessly and criminals shrewdly exploit to enrich themselves and not to miss out, bureaucrats and con-men capitalize on to their gain. Cumulatively these are the things, situations, conditions and problems that have retarded the ascendancy of real Philippine Nationhood. Protractedly it demoralizes and confuses our sense as One Filipino People. All told these collectively are the equivalent raging waters that threaten to swamp us.

Gratefully there still are many brave souls and true heroes who fight to right these conditions and problems. Their courageous efforts to reveal and battle these wrongdoings, excesses and crimes are acts of genuine patriotism. Their actions and valor stir public anger, condemn these and urge legal prosecution of the principals, conspirators and agents behind these. All these are outstanding and must be consistently supported for all these are vital to our survival. Yet in the end these are not enough. As appropriate, noteworthy and well-meaning as these responses are they are merely the parallel of bailing out a boat flooding at a rate faster than the bailing alone achieves.

Although just as in a survival scenario bailing is absolutely critical by itself bailing will not stop the raging inflow of the water. Albeit valiant in spirit, bailing is a gamble – betting that the bailing will at least jettison as much water as that which floods in. But in the long haul wistful thinking, and that a flooding boat will remain buoyant are dubious.

Rather it is straight forward for so long as the causal origin of flooding remains unchecked and only bailing water out is relied on it then is only a matter of time before men tire, the bailing falls off and the vessel is swamped and flounders. Bailing is just not enough. In the end it only buys time and will eventually exhaust the hardiest and most honest men. Time and resources are more wisely invested concurrently to systematically and positively stem the leaks – to plug the source of the flooding.

In TETP “the plug” is perceived as the creation and dominance of a national culture driven by the fundamental values of Patriotism, Integrity and Excellence (PIE) among enough Filipinos who will proactively influence and enlighten the rest of the population in turn. Mustering this demographic critical mass that is driven singularly by the PIE values and whose combined reach will move at least a plurality of the people is the prime challenge.

Correspondingly the equivalent to plugging the leaks requires the focused and sustained education of these values corollary with the systematic transformative application of this education starting from our elementary-grade youth. These interventions must extend throughout our formal public school system and from these reach out to our society’s key-core public and private sectors for at least a decade to hold over the generations to come.

As in the dynamics of plugging leaks to keep water out of a boat, education and applied transformative education driven by the PIE values are the dynamic that will check the source and eventually reverse the pathological counter-cultural roots of our morbid collective and cumulative conditions and problems.

The education part firms-up and safeguards the future by embedding the Nation and People building duties and responsibilities of all Filipinos early in our youth. Honing in them that if they aspire to be leaders to be honest, competent and responsive in fidelity to their social contract to the nation and those they lead. Alternatively, if they instead choose followership – be enlightened patriots and responsible citizens even as they work to be the most creative and competent individuals. These are molded in the citizens of tomorrow through the children of today driven by the positive interpretation and application of the PIE values.

Early during their formative years the children are shown and taught by practical examples and exercises the whats (methods) and hows (practices) to practicably apply these values in their daily lives. Inclusively the children are instructed on what are, how to spot, and how to deal with and report corruption and incompetence in their communities. Equally they are encouraged to proactively support those in their communities who do expose and fight such and other wrongdoings. And by all these our youth are guided to also realize how by their seeming modest individual actions and contributions they do participate in, and promote Nation and People building.

By this education the leaks of parochial thinking, corruption and mediocrity are plugged.

The PIE values-driven education’s transformative applications are realized through seminars and workshops conducted for the core personnel of key public and private agencies, organizations and sectors. As in concentric circles of rippling waters from these core personnel their influence is to radiate outward till most, if not all up to the largest circle they reach are touched. These re-orientation and training activities highlight the role the involved key sectors play in Nation and People building. Stressed too is the appreciation of and respect for fidelity to public trust – its value, earning it and treasuring it as the very soul of public service. Practical methods and practices to improve real-time service delivery towards all these ends are also included. Likewise on constantly enriching their professional standards and developing their service delivery systems. Complimentarily contrasting calibrated activities “consciencitizing” core personnel are also undertaken. These highlight how parochial mind-sets, corruption and mediocrity within their sectors cumulatively destroy people, cause societal dysfunction, damage vital social systems, retard national development and ultimately lead to corruption and create poverty.

Proactively intra-sector self-policing and internal ombudsman mind-sets are institutionalized. With it practicable modes and mechanisms to isolate public service reprobates and discipline contra-PIE value recidivists with their eventual endorsement when warranted for formal legal prosecution are also covered. These are then capped by the organization of “Transformer Vanguards” among the organic personnel in the covered key sector. They will subsequently monitor and sustain the post-training transformative application of the PIE values within their respective sector until the next periodic follow-up workshop is conducted.

By these transformative applications of PIE values-driven education the leaks of corruptive intra-organizational parochial counter-cultures, negative bias peer-pressure, systemic deficiencies, obsolescence, irrelevances and incompetence are plugged.

Bailing – fighting the poisoned fruits of corruption, incompetence and parochialism – is vital to keep our weary vessel of nationhood afloat. Yet no matter how well-intended and the purity of sacrifices for it bailing only buys time. Time, which no matter how expensively purchased is absolutely and irrefutably perishable.

To bail and plug simultaneously are therefore the most prudent harnessing of the invaluably perishable time we may be able to leverage and be graced with. Plugging our leaks by countering and replacing the pathological counter-cultural roots of our morbid collective and cumulative conditions and problems, the hardened hearts and recalcitrant practices are the principal remedies to check and reverse all these. With earnest bailing and plugging we in our lifetimes can still and finally truly build One Philippine Nation and One Filipino People: Brave, resilient and confident to take its God-given place in the global community of humankind. – pdt 11_0304

Getting the story right … finally (REDUX)

The deeper and more telling the truth,

the longer and tortuous its journey to surface.

But come it will for no lie lives forever,

and when it comes it WILL set the truly brave free!


Sometimes it takes Hollywood – in this case an independent movie maker – to bring the truth out. Fiction, myths, the stuff of legends and tribal tales often carry in their hearts the long suppressed truth. The real story of what, how and why things happened. But like water artificially held back the truth will not forever be suppressed.

They flow through the path of least resistance seeking their own level. Truth and water infiltrates, seeps, permeates, percolates but in whatever way they eventually break through.

However when they do only those who are ready for the crystal clarity they bring are truly refreshed. Faithful to the truism of our elders – that the hardest to awaken are those who merely pretend to be asleep. – pdt 10_0830



“Crisis enables change”

Pilot reforms to our Judicial/Justice System… NOW!

With all our ostensibly brilliant lawyers, Solomonic judges and justices and patriotic politicians couldn’t they craft instant pilot reform of our Judicial/Justice System – starting with the extraordinary and consequence-pregnant Ampatuan Massacre Case?

Of course subservient to the Supreme Court, they could for instance (among other things):

–         Beef up the presently charged trial court into a collegiate court of 3 judges. Which could then break off into sub-yet-centrally-attached Court-elements to hear and enter into Court records the affirmation of written dispositions and other more administrative-oriented Court tasks. But then still convene en banc with the current judge as presiding judge only for “controversial” testimonies, cross, final arguments and to regularly update their collective appreciation of the progress of the Case. To better distribute the judicial, administrative and personal risk burden of the Case and therefore speed things up without prejudice to any party.

–         Clear the dockets of all three judges to exclusively and continuously try only the Case for its duration. Their respective cases are consequently assigned to other courts during the hearing and adjudication of the Case.

–         Apply special Rules such as, but not necessarily limited to:

  1. Limiting Motions for Reconsiderations (compelling more robust and sharper initial argumentation and relegating appeals to the subsequent appellate process, if any)
  2. Require/Assign tandem defense lawyers per accused (even assigning public defenders as necessary to minimize delays due to defense counsels’ “unforeseen” personal emergency absences and requests for delays.
  3. Authorize private messenger couriers to serve court orders, communications, etc.
  4. Assign dedicated court staffs, especially stenographers and transcript transcribers to effect near instant transcript documentation and distribution.

–         Detach Service/Assign dedicated police and security forces and facilities directly under the Court’s control to protect witnesses, secure evidence, records, and court staffs, and deliver accused parties to the Court, etc. during the duration of the Case.

–         Any other measures to more swiftly dispense justice with an equitable weighing and consideration of the rights of the complainants, plaintiffs, the State, Nation and People. As inspired by the spirit implicit in the foregoing suggestions and the extraordinary nature of the Case, the consequential dire repercussions of permitting avoidable delays to the Court’s definitive resolution of the Case.- pdt 10_0909

“…The carnage drew international condemnation and prompted then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to impose martial law for a week as troops cracked down on the Ampatuans, her close political allies.

“Sen. Joker Arroyo has recently warned that the sheer volume of the case – at least 227 witnesses are listed by the prosecution and another 373 by the defense – means it could drag on for ‘200 years.’

“Officials wouldn’t comment on how long the trial will last but cautioned it would take time.

“An average criminal case takes about seven years to complete due to lack of prosecutors and judges and a huge backlog of cases. The Maguindanao massacre is considered to be the largest criminal prosecution since the country’s World War II war crime trials.

Round up the 100 at large – Rights group

“The New York-based Human Rights Watch urged the government Wednesday to protect witnesses and round up more than 100 suspects still at large, most of them linked to the Ampatuans’ private army.

“The watchdog said five people with knowledge of abuses by the Ampatuans have been gunned down.

“ ‘With fewer than half of the suspects in custody, witnesses, investigators, and others who might be deemed to be a threat to the Ampatuan family are at risk,’ the group said in a statement.

“‘It’s hard to fight the devil,’ said Monette Salaysay, mother of Napoleon Salaysay, one of the slain journalists. ‘So many were killed and yet justice is exceedingly slow for helpless people like us.’”

“’…The Supreme Court has to come up with remedial rules … rules of trial that could cover this [kind] of case,’ Valdez told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday, when asked to comment on how the prosecution could remedy such a situation.

He said the high court had ‘a prerogative to make rules and suspend those’ causing delays in the case.

Valdez viewed the case as ‘abnormal,’ saying the Philippine judicial system was not constructed for one that involved nearly 200 accused and over 500 witnesses.

Should the high court enforce rules to curb what observers deem as ‘dilatory tactics,’ this action must not be seen as a move ‘to facilitate a conviction’ but, rather, “to ensure a speedy trial,” Valdez said…” – op cit

Only … when enough of our lawyers rise …

Integrity and Honesty will ensure that Social Justice will prevail in our land and with it bring progress. For where and when there is equity among men, then each man is drawn to make real all his potentials.”


The essential first in addicts’ rehabilitation is ironically their own admission – that they are addicts who need to be reformed. Without this vital step gnawing resistant deep inside them is the powerful “… it isn’t broken, so what’s there to fix!” denial, albeit arguably unarticulated in the subconscious of the would-be “rehabilitatee.”

The same lies at the core of our Judicial/Justice System’s dire need for reform. Deep in our lawyers’ hearts and minds (and souls!) first must come the admission that the System DOES URGENTLY NEED fixing – massively extensive and immediately intensive. And if that is to be peaceful, then it must and can only come when enough of our lawyers rise above self-interest and hammer-and-tongs overhaul our plagued Judicial/Justice System, NOW!

Only then can the transformative commitment from the majority of our citizens and institutions to peacefully build One Philippine Nation and One Filipino People follow. For only when there is timely justice can there be true peace and prosperity. – pdt 10_0902

Outrage over delay of Ampatuan trial

De Lima: Defense lawyers obviously delaying trial

By Philip Tubeza, Miko Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: September 02, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Relatives of the 57 victims in the infamous Maguindanao massacre wept in disgust as the long-awaited trial was postponed anew Wednesday.

Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes announced at the end of the hour-long hearing that she was “partially” granting the defense motion to postpone the trial of Andal Ampatuan Jr. and 195 co-accused and resetting the hearing to Sept. 8.

Catherine Nuñez, whose son Victor Nuñez of UNTV was among the civilians and media workers killed on Nov. 23, 2009, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, had flown all the way from Misamis Oriental to listen to the testimony of the prosecution’s first witness.

“Why does the judge favor motions of the defense that delay the trial? It looks like justice favors those who have money,” Nuñez, 48, said in Filipino, her voice breaking and her eyes welling with tears. “This isn’t right anymore. We have been waiting for nine months already.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was present at the hearing held in a heavily guarded compound at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Delays in the court proceedings have continuously hampered the progress of the celebrated case involving the Ampatuans, a powerful clan in Maguindanao allied with then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, that even De Lima admitted she was considering a recourse “outside the Quezon City court” to speed up the trial.

“I asked the panel to study any possibility of asking the Supreme Court to intervene on this matter,” De Lima told reporters as she boarded her vehicle.

“[The defense lawyers] are obviously delaying the proceedings. It must not continue,” she said.

‘They die a little’

The prosecution vehemently opposed the motion for postponement, pointing out that all the parties involved in the case agreed during the previous hearing to begin the trial Wednesday.

“The motion is dilatory. It’s unfair. There is no reason why we cannot proceed with the trial,” Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon told the court.

“Every day that passes, the victims’ families die a little until the day this case moves forward,” he said.

The defense had sought the postponement not just of Wednesday’s hearing but also of the hearings scheduled on Sept. 8 and 15.

But Reyes only partially granted the motion and said she would not grant any more delays.

“I will not allow that… The trial will proceed on Sept. 8 even if the comments have not been filed,” she said. “We are suspending … only the [trial hearing Wednesday].”

At least three of the defendants have yet to file their comments to Reyes’ pre-trial order on Aug. 27.

During the hearing that began at 9:30 a.m., Ampatuan Jr., clad in a yellow prison shirt, was surrounded by four guards from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

He was seen yawning and occasionally closing his eyes.

His lawyer Sigfrid Fortun tangled with Harry Roque, a private counsel of the victims, who insisted that the defense should reimburse the relatives’ expenses in coming to Manila because it was the defense that delayed the trial.

“I think Attorney Roque is out of his mind [and] is speaking [off] the top of his head. He should be brought out of this court,” Fortun responded. He added that there were no rules requiring the defense to pay for the relatives’ expenses.

Roque also complained that Fortun and company were not providing the victims’ private counsels copies of the defense petitions and motions.

‘We live in fear’

Relatives of the victims, numbering more than 20 and coming all the way from Mindanao, blamed the defense lawyers for the delay.

“It’s painful. They’re the ones who are always listened to,” Nuñez said, adding:

“We still live in fear. Our opponents are politicians and they’re rich and powerful. We have nothing. We only rely on God, but we’re afraid of what they’ll do to us.”

Editha Tiamzon singled out Fortun for purportedly delaying the case. “He is only after the money of the Ampatuans,” she said indignantly before TV cameras.

Fortun declined to comment.

Nena Santos, a private lawyer of the victims, said the prosecution would petition the Supreme Court within the next two weeks to have the trial expedited.

Santos said the prosecutors would rather have a postponement instead of losing the case “on a technicality” in the high court if the accused were convicted by Reyes.

“We don’t want to lose the case on a technicality, especially if they appeal [a conviction] at the high court,” Santos said.

“And in a trial, if you don’t have a defense, your offense is to delay. That is basic in criminal law. You try to wear out the witnesses until they are tired of it all, or are dead,” she said.

Atomic bomb

Santos told reporters that there were attempts by the camp of the accused to bribe government witnesses in the case.

“For as low as P5 million to as high as P50 million,” she said. “Let us just wait for the next hearing… If [the forthcoming testimony] were a bomb, it would be atomic.”

A source in the prosecution camp, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak with reporters on the matter, also said as much.

The source said bribes had been offered in particular to members of the Sangki clan, which was once allied with the Ampatuans.

Two members of the Sangki clan who were involved in the massacre are turning state witnesses in the case.

Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki of Ampatuan town had claimed to have witnessed the massacre and heard former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. order his son and namesake on the phone to do it.

On the other hand, Mohamad Sangki, a militiaman, allegedly saw money being given to other militiamen involved in the massacre.

Said the source: “Before Rasul testified during the bail hearing, there was an offer of P25 million. On the day of his testimony, Ampatuan Sr. himself called Zacaria (patriarch of the Sangki clan) and offered P50 million for them to keep quiet.”

The source said that after the Sangkis refused, their farm was burned down and a family member, Mohamadisa, was murdered.

“He was stabbed and then shot dead … one of those unresolved cases until now. Even two days ago, there were mortar attacks in the towns of Ampatuan and Datu Abdullah Sangki,” the source said.

Sukarno Dicay, the former police chief of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, who is being considered as a state witness, also hinted after the hearing that he knew about the alleged bribery attempts.

“The Ampatuans are rich. They will not offer P1… But many people were killed. How can you match a person’s life?” Dicay said.

Help from SC

In an earlier interview, law dean Amado Valdez of the University of the East explained that government prosecutors could seek assistance from the Supreme Court because the defense seemed to be exhausting every possible ploy allowed by the rules.

Aside from deferments and reset hearing dates, the Ampatuan lawyers have incessantly sought Judge Reyes’ removal from the case—six times in the course of the preliminaries—on grounds of “bias.”

She has thrown out five of the defense’s motions for her inhibition.

“The Supreme Court has to come up with remedial rules … rules of trial that could cover this [kind] of case,” Valdez told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday, when asked to comment on how the prosecution could remedy such a situation.

He said the high court had “a prerogative to make rules and suspend those” causing delays in the case.

Valdez viewed the case as “abnormal,” saying the Philippine judicial system was not constructed for one that involved nearly 200 accused and over 500 witnesses.

Should the high court enforce rules to curb what observers deem as “dilatory tactics,” this action must not be seen as a move “to facilitate a conviction” but, rather, “to ensure a speedy trial,” Valdez said.

“After all, the accused is entitled to a speedy disposition of the case against him, [like] the victims,” he said.

Prosecution meeting

“We will be meeting to discuss that,” Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Fadullon said of the possibility of the prosecution asking for help from the high court.

Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Navera pointed out that the defense had agreed to the trial dates set by the court two weeks ago after consultation with the contending camps.

But he acknowledged that the Ampatuan lawyers’ motion for postponement was provided for by the rules of procedure.

Defense lawyers had asked that they be given five days to comment on the pre-trial order that they received on Aug. 27, which Reyes granted.

Navera could not say whether or not there was need for the prosecution to seek help from the high court.

“On our part, we will continue to oppose these [delaying] motions,” he said.

But that was not how Justice Secretary De Lima saw it.

“If we counter all their motions, we will only contribute to the delay,” she said, visibly irritated by the setback. “We cannot allow that.”

Getting the Story Right … finally

The deeper and more telling the truth,

the longer and tortuous its journey to surface.

But come it will for no lie lives forever,

and when it comes it WILL set the truly brave free!

Sometimes it takes Hollywood – in this case an independent movie maker – to bring the truth out.  Fiction, myths, the stuff of legends and tribal tales often carry in their hearts the long suppressed truth. The real story of what, how and why things happened. But like water artificially held back the truth will not forever be suppressed.

They flow through the path of least resistance  seeking their own level.  Truth and water infiltrates, seeps, permeates, percolates but in whatever way they eventually break through.

However when they do only those who are ready for the crystal clarity they bring are truly refreshed. Faithful to the truism of our elders – that the hardest to awaken are those who merely pretend to be asleep. – pdt 10_0830



“Fil-Am War led to Vietnam, Iraq mess”

First posted 01:41:54 (Mla time) August 30, 2010
Lito B. Zulueta

Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—A new feature film by renowned American independent filmmaker John Sayles brings back the “forgotten” Philippine-American War at the turn of the 20th century, depicting it as the seed of the disastrous US imperialist ventures in Vietnam and Iraq.

Filmed entirely in the Philippines with a cast and crew of Americans and Filipinos, the first composite print of “Amigo” was shown by Sayles on Aug. 25 at the Rockwell Power Plant cinema to a select audience that included National Artist for Literature and film critic-historian Bienvenido Lumbera and Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. of Maribojoc, Bohol, where the movie was shot.

Fresh from overnight post-production work but lacking subtitles to guide an international audience through the movie’s polyglot dialogue in English, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese and Latin, the version shown was more or less complete, according to Sayles and producer Maggie Renzi.

The movie will have its world premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada and at the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain, where it will be in the competition. It will be commercially released in the Philippines middle of next year.

Set in Luzon in 1900, “Amigo” opens with an inscription of how the Americans, in prosecuting their war against Spain in Cuba, chose to extend it to another Spanish colony, the Philippines, “half a world away.”

“They chose to stay (there in the Philippines),” the inscription laconically adds.

Balancing act

The movie (formerly titled “Baryo”) tells the story of a village in the middle of the Philippine-American War as its people try to pick up the pieces from the Philippines’ war of independence against Spain, while confronting the threat of further disintegration as American troops invade the country.

When the Americans take over, they force the village head, Rafael Dacanay (played impressively by Filipino actor Joel Torre), to cooperate.

“Soy muy amigo (I am a dear friend),” Dacanay tells the Custer-looking American commanding officer (played equally impressively by Oscar winner Chris Cooper). From then on, the Americans refer to him as “Amigo,” as if it were his real name.

But Dacanay’s brother is a leader of the “insurrectos,” as what the Americans call the Filipino revolutionaries who fought Spain successfully and are now trying to stem the US invasion.

Dacanay’s teenage son has also disobeyed him and run off to join the Filipino freedom fighters in the jungle. He is thus forced to walk the tightrope, doing a dangerous balancing act between the American conquerors and the Filipino resistance in order to protect the interest and safety of his people.

Low-intensity warfare

Since the Americans know that the village is the lifeblood of the rebels, providing the underground with food and material supplies, they “hamlet” the village and define its boundaries, impose a curfew, restrict the movement of the villagers and, to ensure that no food reach the rebels, kill off the carabaos and put a stop to the tilling of the fields.

The movie implies that today’s low-intensity warfare and hamletting originated from the American policy to constrict the Philippine resistance in the early 1900s.

But the American detail is also directed to “win the hearts and minds” of Filipinos. Trying to settle down with the natives, the Americans find the locals hospitable and the surroundings bucolic.

An American soldier barely out of his teens falls in love with a barrio lass; another soldier discovers the joys of the local wine, tuba; and the lieutenant (Garret Dillahunt) allows certain liberties, such as elections and the holding of the traditional fiesta in honor of the patron saint, San Isidro de Labrador.

When the commanding officer returns already incensed by guerrilla raids in other towns, he explodes at the policy of rapprochement village and orders Dacanay water-tortured to force him to reveal the rebel lair of his brother.

‘It’s their country’

When the village chief leads the Americans on a wild goose chase to protect his brother and son, the commanding officer orders his execution.

The lieutenant, who is otherwise conscientious and would like to see Dacanay get off the hook, wonders aloud why the resistance fighters just wouldn’t give up despite their irreversible losses and the impending American victory.

“Why should they?” his subordinate tells him. “It’s their country.”

Brave, provocative, and insightfully funny, “Amigo” weaves a complex tale that does not simplify the issues involved in the war and tries to give voice to the Filipinos’ yearning for freedom.

It shows that even while subjugated, the Filipinos continue to resist through little acts of defiance, such as exploiting the language barrier in order to curse the Americans and call them tsonggo (monkey) and multo (ghost), a reference to their pale and ghostly complexion.

Complex, authentic

Sayles said he tried to capture the complexity of the war in the movie while tracing America’s conflicted policy in Iraq to its original imperialist venture in the Philippines.

“It’s the same in Iraq as it was in the Philippines 100 years ago,” Sayles said about the US occupation policy. “Now it’s winning the hearts and minds of the people, the next moment—finish them off!”

Considered a true-blue auteur or “author,” one who stamps his personal signature on his works through writing and directing his own movies, Sayles, who will turn 60 next month, wrote, directed and edited “Amigo.”

Straddling between the studio system and independent cinema, he has won several Oscar nominations, especially for his screenplays, which show complex characters in multicultural settings.

“The key term used to discuss Sayles’ conception of character is ‘complexity,’ and it is for this reason that he has often been seen as an ‘actors’ director,’” critics Marc Jancovich and James Lyons wrote in the book, “Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers.”

His films have thus become noted for their ensemble cast and the actors who have been identified with him include such fine thespians as Cooper and David Straitharn.

Only in the Philippines

In “Amigo,” Filipino actors who got an opportunity to be part of Sayles’ ensemble include, aside from Torre, Bembol Roco, Rio Locsin, Ronnie Lazaro and Pen Medina.

Another word associated with a Sayles film is “authenticity,” and this is reflected in his fidelity to the objective or historical fact or condition without, however, simplifying it and sacrificing complexity.

In “Amigo,” it is reflected in Sayles’ insistence on shooting in the Philippines despite Hollywood’s traditional aversion toward filming in this country because of perceived risks that insurance companies refuse to cover.

“I felt I could only make this film here,” he said in an Inquirer report published last summer while shooting “Amigo” for six weeks in Bohol. “Plus the Philippines has a real movie industry. Our cast and crew are film professionals who’ve experienced working in every type of movie.”

Filipino film professionals involved in “Amigo” include cinematographer Lee Briones-Meily and production designer Rodell Cruz, who capture the mood, colors and setting of a turn-of-the-20th-century Philippine village in the movie.

RP: ‘First Vietnam, Iraq

Sayles said he shot the movie in the Philippines because he couldn’t see how Queensland, Australia, or Shanghai, China, could have doubled for the Philippines, which was the case in the film “The Great Raid.”

Ironically, “The Great Raid,” about the daring Cabanatuan raid in 1945 in which American troops and Filipino guerrillas successfully liberated American POWs from a Japanese camp without a casualty, was made in the frenzy of patriotism that engulfed the United States after Sept. 11, 2001.

The frenzy led to the American invasion of Iraq on the pretext that Iraq had supported the al-Qaida attacks that brought down the New York Twin Towers and that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

No WMDs were found and mounting American casualties in Iraq spurred calls for the withdrawal of US troops, like what happened in Vietnam.

Academics and scholars critical of the Iraq adventure have pointed to the Philippines as “the first Vietnam” or “the original Iraq.” In 1898, on the pretext of avenging the bombing of the USS Maine on the Havana harbor, which the Americans blamed on the Spaniards despite the latter’s denial, the United States declared war on Spain and annexed Cuba and the Philippines.

$600-million war

The treaty that annexed the Philippines and signaled the start of the US imperialist venture was vociferously opposed by many sectors in America, notably by humorist Mark Twain. But the war of subjugation continued.

When the war was officially declared over in 1902, records showed proportionally the same statistics as the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

According to the late Filipino historian-diplomat Antonio M. Molina, from February to November 1899, in the first phase of the war, there were 45 engagements every month, rising to 106 from December 1899 to June 1900. In the last phase of the war, the United States had to send 70,000 troops.

“In the whole course of the war, the enemy had to use 126,468 men, 4,234 of them dying during the campaign,” Molina wrote. “Some $600,000,000 were spent by the United States in the conduct of the war.”

But most Americans have forgotten the war. Even some Filipinos have. Ironically enough, the Philippines, under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, supported the invasion of Iraq.

Wrote Filipino-American scholar Angel Velasco Shaw in 2002: “One hundred years after the official ending of the Philippine-American War, I am having … anxiety of memory. In my unease I recall lines from Mark Twain’s journal, censored from publication during the Philippine-American War—‘None but the dead have free speech. None but the dead are permitted to speak the truth.’”

Now, the forgotten war is set to resurrect—through Sayles’ ironically titled “Amigo.”