Monthly Archives: July 2005

Education report a farce

It is unfortunate that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered an inaccurate assessment of her education program during her state of the nation address. We believe that improving the quality of education in the country is not one of the achievements of Ms. Arroyo’s government.

The President mentioned “increased resources” for classrooms, teachers and computer access for students. May we remind her that education spending by the government for the past four years has been declining and is one of the lowest in Asia. In fact, she may be surprised to learn that the Department of Education has pegged classroom shortage at 57,930; teachers, 49,699; and desks and chairs, 3.48 million.

The “increased resources’ for education did not prevent the distribution of error-filled textbooks in public schools. Has the President also forgotten that science and math competencies of Filipino students during her term are one of the worst in the world?

President Arroyo also cited the need to rehabilitate pre-need education companies to guarantee the education of more students. We agree that there is a need for a Pre-Need Code to regulate the pre-need industry. But it does not address the clamor of the public to stop the rising cost of schooling and the deteriorating quality of higher education. The major hindrance in acquiring college education which the President refers as the “great Filipino dream” is the uncontrollable tuition increases. And sadly, the Arroyo government has done little to resolve this problem.

The President also pointed out that improving vocational training is one way of increasing the nation’s competitiveness. We hope this is an encouragement for schools to produce skilled graduates to stimulate domestic economy and not an endorsement for the labor-export policy of the government. Young graduates eager to work are disappointed to learn that jobs matching their skills are available only in other countries.

The disappointing education and economic policies of the government have resulted in two Philippines. One is the Philippines whose talented and skilled people have already left the land to seek better lives. The other is the Philippines whose people are anxious to take-off, after realizing that the future is dim under this kind of government.


name game

As in the ‘Oust Estrada’ campaign, there is now a flurry of new groups calling for Gloria’s removal.

The mother-of-all anti-Arroyo groups is the Gloria Step Down Movement or GSM – as in Galit sa Magnanakaw or Galit sa Mandaraya. GSM of course appeals to the young (GSM technology in cellphones) and the old (what else but Ginebra San Miguel).

The youth sector is not contented with Youth DARE or Demanding Arroyo’s Removal. UP students has SIGAO as in Student Initiative for Gloria Arroyo’s Ouster. PUP boasts of YANIG as in Youth Action Network to impeach Gloria.

Txtpower has GARCI or Gloria Arroyo Resign Campaign Initiative. LFS wants to SCREAM or Students Campaign to Remove Arroyo in Malacañang. Make way for Anakbayan’s KALAMPAG or Kabataang Lumalaban para Patalsikin si Gloria.

The UP community is already AWARE as in an Alliance working for Arroyo’s Removal. PNU wants to be AWARE Now! Cagayan de Oro students formed the YOU GO as in Youth for Gloria’s Ouster. Davao students has KADASIG as in Kabataang Dabawenyo Sigaw!

Gabriela is spearheading the WOMEN MARCH! or the Women’s Movement for Arroyo’s Removal and Regime Change. Migrant workers have OUTRAGE or Overseas Workers and their families United to Remove Gloria Arroyo. Peasants want to REMOVE GLORIA or the Rural Movement for the Removal of Gloria.

There is also STOP Gloria or Southern Tagalog opposed to Gloria. Environmentalists have reason to be ENRAGED while doctors are already calling Emergency RX for GMA.

Malaya’s editorial has a funny new meaning for GLORIA. If we jumble the letters we could have Go Liar!

A much needed break: While having lunch with fellow street parliamentarians, someone proposed a coalition to tackle corruption. Why not KULANGOT as in Koalisyon laban sa Nangungurakot? Then one of us replied that a better name would be KULANGOT sa PADER as in Koalisyon laban sa Nangungurakot para sa Pambansang Demokrasya.

CNN interview

The following is the transcript of my interview with CNN Today which was aired last Wednesday morning.

What is the response from schools in your call for students to walk-out of their classes?

Youth DARE (Demanding Arroyo’s Removal) is happy to announce that the major public and private universities in Manila have committed to join the rally today in Ayala. Some students, in fact, would be accompanied by their school officials.

Do you expect a big crowd and what is your message in today’s rally?

We expect a minimum of fifty thousand persons to join the rally today. And the message is very clear: We want the President to step down immediately. She should heed the growing clamor for her to resign. And if I were her, I would step down voluntarily and face accountability to the allegations that she cheated during last year’s elections.

The police is saying that extremist groups will infiltrate your ranks to sow violence in the rally. What can you say about this?

We believe this is a police tactic to scare the people not to join the rally, and we fear the police is using this argument to disperse the crowd and use violence. But we want to assure the public that security will be a high priority among the organizers, and violence would not come from our side.

Is there a particular candidate you would like to see replacing Arroyo?

There is really no general consensus about a particular candidate we would be supporting after Arroyo.
Most would say that the Vice President must take over in case the President would resign. But some lawyers and scholars are also asserting that a caretaker government or some transition council to that effect, can be considered also to be in conformity with our Constitution. And we welcome the ongoing debate and discussions in the academe and media about what really are the processes which can be described as Constitutional.

Are you disappointed with the message of the Bishops over the weekend which did not ask the President to resign?

Unfortunately, the President and her officials have interpreted the statement of the Bishops as an endorsement for the Arroyo government. But if we read the statement very carefully, the Bishops did not categorically endorse the President and they did not discount the validity of the calls for the President to resign.

independent crowd estimate, anyone?

When some bishops called for a prayer rally last month, the media cited the police report that 5,000 persons attended the assembly. The organizers insisted it was 15,000. Later, it was conceded that only 10,000 were at the Liwasang Bonifacio.

Last June 24, Mayor Binay gleefully announced that 30,000 individuals joined the march from Sto. Domingo church to Welcome Rotonda. The media again reported the police observation that only 5,000 were at the rally. The organizers later corrected that the crowd was about 20,000.

During the Ayala rally last week, the media did not bother mention the police estimate of the crowd and reported that ‘thousands’ joined the rally. The organizers said the crowd was about 30,000.

I want to believe this is not a disappointing validation of the low mathematical skills of Filipinos, though I am in favor of pursuing this matter further. The crowd estimate is used to advance political goals. The police wants to downplay public support for mass actions. On our part, we want to assert that we have the public on our side.

Camera tricks can either make the protest assembly big or small. Pictures could not faithfully capture the whole event. The job of TV/radio reporters and writers becomes more important as they can either cite the crowd estimate of the police or the organizers or they can make their own honest calculation.

Remember EDSA Tres? The crowd was evidently more than half a million in EDSA shrine but the TV reporter agreed with the police that it was only 25,000.

There is a need for an independent crowd estimate, if there is such a thing in this world; or a scientific formula for measuring a crowd.

In the next few days or weeks, the size of mass mobilizations will influence the timing and manner of President Arroyo’s removal from Malacañang. A massive gathering of people in the streets may also determine the actions of political blocs in the country in the post-Gloria Philippines.

And it is indeed infuriating when you devote your energy and attention persuading thousands of people to go to the streets only to learn that news organizations reported an exagerrated downsized crowd estimate of the rally.

Whoa Dodong!

What a sight! Dodong Nemenzo, the eminent self-proclaimed marxist and former head of the University of the Philippines was the first speaker at the Ayala rally last Friday. He called for the resignation of President Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro. He spoke of a revolutionary transition government which will be headed by Susan Roces. He wanted to end the government of the elite to be replaced by the government of the poor.

I have no problem with Dodong being a vocal critic of the GMA regime. There is no debate about the need to replace the present system of governance. But while listening to Dodong’s tirade against the elite social order, I wanted to ask this: Where were you Dodong during the anti-Estrada campaign?

While students, faculty, employees, virtually the whole UP community were out in the streets demanding Erap’s removal from power, the first marxist UP president was quietly smoking in his office, perhaps reflecting the fate of his beloved drinking buddy in Malacañang who gave him the coveted UP position.

At the height of the anti-Estrada campaign, Dodong ordered the removal of a huge mural from Quezon Hall in order not to embarrass Estrada. It was cowardice, intellectual hypocrisy and classic example of selfish personal interest prevailing over revolutionary will.

The Rector of UST led the Thomasian community in the campaign to oust Estrada. Other school heads were openly calling for the resignation of the President. In UP, everyone was denouncing the sins of Estrada, except Nemenzo.

When Dodong finally broke his silence and publicly supported People Power II, it was during the last days of the anti-Estrada campaign. Nemenzo jumped ship when it was already evident that Estrada would step down in a matter of days. His statement evaded mentioning Estrada as it only rebuked the foolishness of Senate not to open the second envelope during the impeachment trial.

The day Nemenzo had a change of heart, the military switched their allegiance to GMA. The marxist scholar had the same pragmatic attitude with the reactionary military cabal.

Now, here comes Dodong, the revolutionary minus his barong and precious UP position giving speeches which can be interpreted as inciting the public to sedition. Alas, Dodong did not wait for military generals to switch camp before issuing an appeal to force the resignation of GMA and Noli.
Is it because he no longer has any personal interest to protect?

Dodong is admired for his stance against the entry of foreign troops in the country, his rejection of the war on terror and his present involvement in the Gloria resign campaign. But the public should not forget Dodong’s, well, for lack of a more precise term, opportunism which put to shame all armchair marxist academicians.

Dodong is free to give his advice in the present tense political situation of the country. But we must also have the freedom to prefer a more credible voice who can guide the movement in making the right decisions in the succeeding crucial days.

ayon sa aking bubuwit

kasabay ng almusal ay ang pakikinig sa DZRH. sumasarap ang kape o salabat habang ninanamnam ko ang maanghang na bira ni joe taruc sa mga tiwali sa gobyerno o ang pilyong komentaryo ni deo macalma. naniniwala ako sa pagyayabang ng DZRH na sila ang kauna-unahan at numero unong radyo sa bansa kaya nalulungkot at nababahala ako sa mga pagbabago sa aking paboritong istasyon.

kasinghaba na ata ng balita ang mga patalastas sa DZRH. at kung hindi makiking ng mabuti ay iisipin mong balita pa rin ang mga patalastas dahil mga reporter at anchor ang nagsasalita. balitang ekonomiya daw ang patalastas ng palaman sa tinapay, mga nanay na iniinterbyu tungkol sa kahusayan ng isang insurance company at maya-maya kung iendorso ni deo macalma ang isang alak at gamot sa diabetes.

Masasakripisyo ang kredibilidad ng DZRH kung magpapatuloy ang dominasyon ng ganitong porma ng pag-eendorso ng mga produkto. Mga masa ang nakikinig ng radyo at baka maging biktima sila ng false advertising at mahikayat na bumili ng mga produktong hindi naman nila kailangan.

Sa isang banda’y pwedeng maunawaan ang DZRH. Lumiliit ang bilang ng mga nakikinig sa AM dahil sa TV at internet. Malakas din ang DZBB at DZMM. Kailangan nila ng pera para lalong mapahusay ang kanilang serbisyo at dapat lubusin ang kita habang sila pa ang nangungunang radyo sa bansa.

Kaso hindi ko mapapatawad ang pag-iba ng tono ng mga komentaryo sa DZRH, lalo na kina deo macalma at ruth abao-espinosa (oops, ruth abao na lang pala).

Araw-araw lagi nilang sinasabi na itigil na ang mga rali at gulo at pangungutya sa pamahalaan. unahin daw ang ekonomiya. pagod na raw ang mamamayan. huwag daw suportahan ang destabilisasyon. lagi kong tinitingnan ang aking radyo kung DZRH ba talaga ang istasyon. akala ko kasi si Bunye ang nagsasalita.

Mensahe ng Malakanyang ang lumalabas sa bibig ni deo at ruth. mabuti sana kung minsan lang kaso araw-araw nilang inuulit ang ganitong mga pahayag. Hindi sila gumigitna sa isyu, pumapanig na sila sa poder ng administrasyon. hindi ganito ang DZRH. madalas mapanuri, matapang at hindi iniinsulto ang mga lumalaban sa mga may hawak ng kapangyarihan ang lumang DZRH.

ayon sa aking bubuwit, hindi na raw kakampi ng sambayanan ang DZRH. lilipat na ito ng opisina sa Malakanyang. deo, ruth, huwag na kayong humataw sa inyong programang Hataw. magbalitang pangiliti na lang kayo. kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?