The dog-eared papers, on our computer, dealt with Ferdinand Marcos padlocking the press. This September is the 40th anniversary of Marcos’ imposition of batas militar in 1972.
One document is an “asso,” or arrest-and-seizure order. Signed by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, these papers were used by raiding teams to arrest 22 Manila-based journalists.
“Here is mine,” we told The Associated Press’ Carl Zimmerman, who had hitched a ride to Camp Crame. “Foreign correspondent?” snapped the colonel who snatched the asso. “You’re not to see these.”
“Assos” were also served on the Free Press’ Teodoro Locsin and Napoleon G. Rama, the Daily Mirror’s Amando Doronila, and others. We had fractured something called “Proclamation 1081.”
Our file has letters of protest. Jaime Zobel de Ayala, then the Philippines’ ambassador to London, received one from Financial Times editor JDF Jones saying, “I express concern at the detention by your government of our correspondent, Mr. Juan L. Mercado.” A cable from the Bulletin in Sydney says: “Our editor Donald Horne cabled President Marcos today requesting release…”
“Senator [Daniel] Inouye interceded with the Philippine Embassy in Washington,” Honolulu Star Bulletin editor A.A. Smyster wrote. The Associated Press’ managing editors and other US groups adopted resolutions on behalf of imprisoned journalists. The late cartoonist Corky Trinidad sparked these protests.
Memory anchors three essential elements for healing in a post-dictatorial regime, Inquirer columnist Randy David writes. “Truth, justice and reparation… Today’s young people hardly have an idea of what happened during 14 years of dictatorship.” The idea of establishing a “museum of memories” is being floated.
Consider the Marcos museum in Ilocos Norte. It houses the mausoleum that displays the embalmed remains of Marcos, a la Lenin and Mao. The memorabilia include books, the bed he was born in, even questioned World War II medals.
The Marcos medals were bogus, asserted a New York Times series by Seymour Hersh in 1986. The Times used US National Archives research done by University of South Wales professor Alfred McCoy. (His book “Closer Than Brothers” compares 1940 Philippine Military Academy graduates with those of Class 1972, who provided “the mailed fist for martial law”: Ping Lacson, Gringo Honasan et al.)
The services given by Marcos and 23 others to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1945 were “of limited military value,” Times reports by Jeff Gerth and Joel Brminkley added. “At no time did the Army recognize that any unit, designating itself as Maharlika, ever existed as a guerrilla force in the years of Japanese occupation…”
Yet, Marcos remains a hero to some. “Ilocos Norte has been an entire republic unto itself history-wise,” Inquirer columnist Conrad de Quiros notes. Its version of history differs from the rest of the country. Does that upset anybody?
In 2007, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines opened a Martial Law Memorial Wall in Quezon City. A year earlier, Manila inaugurated its Memorial Wall of the Victims of Martial Law. Etched into the black marble are the names of over 800 victims of the dictatorship, including Jose Diokno and activist Lean Alejandro. “I die just when I see the dawn break,” from Jose Rizal’s poem “Mi Ultimo Adios,” is carved into the plaque.
What will go into the “museum of memories”? Among other items, former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.’s prison diaries. When military rebels were poised to overrun Malacañang in 1989, President Corazon Aquino entrusted the diaries to the Benedictine rector, Fr. Bernardo Perez.
Include also the Marcos diaries. People Power crowds discovered them in cardboard boxes, stashed in an obscure corner of Malacañang. Ambeth Ocampo has run excerpts in his Inquirer column, focusing on the days that ushered in the rule-by-bayonet. “The diaries are a primary source for the historian.”
Handwritten in English on Palace stationery, the penmanship unusually neat, the Marcos diaries offer “a compelling story of a complex man who sought to document his place among the world’s great leaders,” writes Los Angeles Times correspondent William C. Rempel in his book “Delusions of a Dictator.”
Instead, they show “a deceiver who lied to his allies, to his nation, to his wife, and, at times, even to his own diary… It documents fears and fantasies that drove a paranoid, messianic leader to depths of deceit and to the heights of authoritarian power.”
The Marcos diaries provide an answer to a puzzle that has bugged journalists: a second pooled editorial that never was.
The first ever pooled editorial here skewered the “Compartmentalized justice” of a decaying “New Society.” Upon the request of Chino Roces, the Manila Times’ Alfredo Roces wrote the draft. All dailies ran it on the same day. President Marcos went ballistic.
Malacañang phoned publishers with less grit. When a follow-up pooled editorial was proposed, the now defunct Evening News hastily bailed out, Viewpoint recalls. Others waffled. Thus, a second pooled editorial never materialized. Why?
In his Jan. 12, 1971, diary entry, Marcos wrote: “[Evening News publisher] Freddie Elizalde showed me a copy of an editorial which Chino Roces wanted to be pooled by all the newspapers castigating me and asking for my resignation and that of the cabinet. For good measure the editorial included the Vice President. It was opposed by Freddie and [Philippines Herald’s] Sebastian Ugarte… What a ridiculous spectacle Chino Roces is making of himself.”
“Journalists must remind people of what they prefer to forget,” columnist Simeon Dumdum wrote in “Speak Memory.” Battling amnesia, in the end, is “the struggle of man against tyranny.”
It is significant that human rights lawyer Romeo T. Capulong died at 77 just as the nation was preparing to mark the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law. He will be laid to rest today, with the nation still in the throes of remembering that dark era in our history which he so vigorously resisted and helped end, working hard later so that it would not be repeated. Like Paul the Apostle, it can well be said of him: “He fought the good fight.”
Capulong was the pioneer of public interest law in the Philippines. According to his colleagues and admirers, he was that “rare gem,” a good lawyer who did not put his skills at the service of moneyed clients but, instead, employed them to win justice for the poor and the oppressed. Starting as a young legal adviser in the Nueva Ecija government in 1969, he became sufficiently well-known in the province to seek, and win, a seat in the Constitutional Convention. In the ConCon, his dedication to the plight of landless farmers became evident; he introduced provisions addressing the monopoly of land ownership. But perhaps the highlight of his legal career was as lawyer in a class suit by close to 10,000 victims of human rights abuse during Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
He himself was hounded by the Marcos regime in the late 1970s, forcing him to flee to the United States where he sought and was granted political asylum—one of the first of such approvals by the American government that later set a precedent for leaders exiled by the dictatorship. In the United States, he continued his human rights law practice, founding and heading the Philippine Center for Immigrant Rights as well as the Filipino Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. The latter documented human rights violations committed under martial law and established collaboration between human rights groups in the Philippines and the United States. As a result of his exile, he became a member of the New York Bar Association; he kept his membership up to his death.
With the downfall of Marcos, Capulong contributed to deepening the quality of the restored democracy by running for the Senate (he lost) and becoming the legal counsel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in its peace negotiations with the government. Although the talks foundered, Capulong remained committed to the peace process and continued to sit as legal counsel of the NDFP. Meanwhile, he continued his public-interest law practice, offering legal services to the victims of abuse and injustice. He handled the case of Singapore-based overseas Filipino worker Flor Contemplacion, as well as the case of “comfort women” forced into sex slavery by Japanese forces during World War II. He became the counsel of the victims of the Payatas garbage crash in 2000 that killed more than 200 people. During the Arroyo administration, he handled the rebellion charges against six party-list lawmakers and the criminal charges against 72 Southern Tagalog activists. He institutionalized alternative law by founding the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and the Public Interest Law Center, which provide legal services to the poor.
Perhaps the peak of Capulong’s legal career would be his election as judge of the International Criminal Tribunal. He was elected at a particularly difficult time as the court was holding the prosecution and trial of, as its minutes said, “persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.” In short, he became a member of the tribunal that looked into the appalling incidents of ethnic cleansing and genocide that took place after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Upon his election to the court, the United Nations secretary general called Capulong “the Philippines’ leading human rights lawyer” and “the nation’s pioneer in international humanitarian and public interest law, developmental legal aid, class action litigation, and criminal defense.”
His election to the UN court reaffirmed his standing as a legal pundit. But he will be best remembered as the people’s lawyer, the counsel of victims scarred by martial law, the lawyer of scavengers of the garbage dump, the defender of social pariahs. A legal giant and social reformer, Romeo T. Capulong has left a shining legacy of justice for the poor and the oppressed. Truly, he was the champion of the people.
The ironies in the war between Juan Ponce Enrile and Antonio Trillanes are so rich and plentiful I don’t know where to begin to appreciate them. They are, in no particular order of importance, these:
One, that Trillanes should accuse Enrile of being the tuta of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on the eve of the 40th anniversary of martial law. The context of it of course is the division of Camarines Sur. Enrile says he isn’t even aware that Arroyo is interested in CamSur, which is about as true as saying he’s not aware his son is running for senator.
But surely if you want to accuse Enrile of being tuta at this time there’s someone to point to more readily as his master? Before Enrile reinvented himself as the country’s savior from martial law, he was an architect of martial law. In fact, he triggered it by faking an ambush on himself in Wack Wack, which was what Ferdinand Marcos specifically cited to declare it. He would admit his sin after Edsa, but recant it after he had a falling out with Cory. And he calls Trillanes a liar.
Two, that Trillanes should be P-Noy’s backdoor diplomat to China. P-Noy explains that the initiative came from Trillanes himself—Trillanes was approached by Chinese officials while he was in China. But you still have to wonder why P-Noy thought it a good idea.
At the very least Trillanes’ ability to read a situation well you see in the Oakwood mutiny. At the time he mounted it, Arroyo was a legitimate president, made so by an act of People Power. At the time he mounted it, elections were round the corner, which was the perfectly legitimate way to get rid of her. At the time he mounted it, the public couldn’t care less about his cause he hadn’t bothered to inform them of it. It was as though Trillanes believed that by the sheer force of his personality, he would rally the nation around him spontaneously. In fact, all it showed was someone who was impulsive and reckless, if not indeed egotistical and deluded.
At the very most, why Trillanes and not any one of the China experts, or those who have actually lived in China, worked in China, and spent a lifetime studying China? Such as Chito Sta.
Romana, Jimmy Florcruz, and Ericson Baculinao? They not only know China very well, they are friends with some members of the Chinese politburo. And their patriotism is beyond question. If P-Noy cannot turn them into backdoor negotiators, two of them being journalists working for international news agencies, he can at least rely on their expertise. Whom does Trillanes know that can affect Chinese policy?
Three, that Trillanes should announce he is the backdoor diplomat to China. The point of doing things backdoor is secrecy. Trillanes’ lips are about as sealed as Maurice Arcache’s. It was not Enrile who first revealed Trillanes’ dealings with China, it was Trillanes himself in response to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s apparent provocations. And the point of diplomacy is to keep a united front. You have differences with the official stand, thresh it out first. But you do not carry out an official function with a different agenda. You speak with one voice.
You see the importance of that in the way Mitt Romney tried to politicize the anti-American riots in Libya and elsewhere, saying Barack Obama was supporting the rioters more than America. The humongous backlash against him from friend and foe alike has probably cost him the elections. The point is simple: Foreign policy may not be held hostage to partisan politics. You’ve got differences in how to face the world, resolve it internally. But at the end of the day, you take one stand, you speak with one voice.
Four, Enrile says the danger of Trillanes getting reelected is that “China might have a senator in this chamber.” Well, if Trillanes is a Chinese agent, he hasn’t learned very much from Mao who proposed that creating too many enemies at the same time is suicidal, you should take them one at a time. Trillanes has just managed to piss off Enrile, Del Rosario and Manny Pangilinan. The last he accused of being hostile to China for his own interests and who in turn has called him a barefaced liar. Which is also what Enrile and Erap call him. He has also just managed to piss off Malacañang. Little wonder he keeps losing his wars.
But what’s this, we should worry about having a Chinese agent—by Enrile’s definition—in the Senate but not worry about having American agents in it? Who are most of the senators? Indeed, at the very heart of Foreign Affairs? Who are Del Rosario and company?
In the end, what’s so wrong about Trillanes’ conduct is that he himself subverts his own disagreements with Del Rosario’s confrontational approach to China. Or his antics make people forget about them. You don’t have to be a Chinese sympathizer, or agent, to see that Del Rosario has been dangerously saber-rattling with China—a “war freak” as Trillanes calls him—while dragging the United States into the fray on the insane assumption it will take our side in any open confrontation with China. “Hu’s your daddy?” Barbara Bachman asks Americans, in reference to China owning the biggest amount of US dollars outside the United States. Alas, Trillanes cannot now be the best advancer of these criticisms.
Finally, China must be laughing its head off. I used to say it doesn’t need to attack us, all it has to do is get its more than 1 billion citizens to piss into the China Sea at the same time and we will be engulfed by a tsunami. As it turns out, even that is unnecessary. All it has to do is leave us to ourselves. It can always expect an Enrile and Trillanes to get into a pissing contest and get all of us very wet and desperately needing a bath. Why should anyone want to declare war on us?
P-Noy said some very interesting things on the 40th anniversary of martial law last Friday. Visiting Fort Magsaysay where his father, Ninoy, and Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno were detained during martial law, he said (translated into English from Tagalog): “You can probably imagine how much I wanted to take revenge on those who oppressed my father and our nation.”
In time, however, his anger ebbed at the thought of the beacon of light his father and Ka Pepe became “in that dark chapter of our history when our freedom was taken, our rights were trampled on, and we were thrown into the pit of misery.” Through their efforts and those of countless Filipinos whose sacrifices contributed to the dawning of a new day, we have put a distance between us and those times. He himself, P-Noy said, was giving special importance to human rights, the better to transform the military, then an instrument of torture and terror, into a true protector of the people. In the end, our destiny lies in our hands. “Together, we can shape the course of our history by directing our efforts toward the right path.”
When I heard this, I remembered a song sung by Jackson Browne called “My Personal Revenge.” The following gives you an idea of how it goes:
“My personal revenge will be the right /Of our children in the schools and in the gardens /My personal revenge will be to give you /This song which has flourished without panic /My personal revenge will be to show you
“The kindness in the eyes of my people /Who have always fought relentlessly in battle /And been generous and firm in victory.
“My personal revenge will be to tell you good morning /On a street without beggars or homeless…” And so on.
This is in fact the translation of a poem by Tomas Borge, one of the founders of the Sandinistas, and who held various positions in government, among them minister of the interior, after the Sandinistas swept into power in Nicaragua.
I’ve always loved this poem/song because of the tremendous insight it gives, from the perspective of one who has suffered grievously, on how to wreak the completest revenge on one’s oppressor. That is not by doing to him what he did to you but by doing to him just the opposite. Or more to the point, by building a world that is the opposite of what he made. Instead of fetters, freedom. Instead of terror, peace of mind. Instead of lying, cheating, stealing and killing, an order dedicated to realizing the national, and human, potential. And making the world—and him—see it.
That is the complete refutation of an oppressive rule. Borge’s concept of “personal revenge” is richly ironic. In one sense it is personally gratifying, in another it is also collectively satisfying: It is not just one person’s revenge, it is all of the people’s too. In one sense it is getting back at someone who has done a colossal wrong, in another it goes beyond it to righting colossal wrongs. It gives whole new windows to personal revenges.
Without articulating it that way, P-Noy seems to share in its spirit.
Doing the opposite of what the oppressor did does not of course mean letting him and his co-conspirators get away scot-free in the name of spurious reconciliation. It means punishing them in the name of true reconciliation, which is reconciling with the oppressed, who are the people. P-Noy came a little too late to do something about the Marcoses but he didn’t come too late to do something about the oppressor that came immediately before him. His resolve in making her and her cabal pay for their sins is impressive, and you wonder how he would have done had he been the one to come after Marcos. Well, he can still do something about them. Better late than never.
But more than this, what he has done, or at least begun to do, in terms of building a world that is the opposite of what his immediate predecessor did is far more impressive. It’s the direct refutation of it, and an indirect one of a more distant tyranny, which is martial law. We caught a glimpse of it in his Sona, which is one of the reasons he has soared in the public esteem. That Sona conjured a vision if not exactly of hordes of children occupying the schools and gardens as a matter of right, of streets devoid of beggars and homeless, of song bursting in the hearts of a victorious people, at least an echo of it.
We caught a glimpse of it in global perceptions about a recovering economy, which is a slap in the face of a regime that kept crowing about its economic deeds without them ever being felt by the people. As well indeed as that of a more distant regime that kept claiming the same thing while marching the country backwards to become the doormat of Asia. Which advances the view that truly there are no mahirap where there are no corrupt, that truly there are no limits to what you can do with a decent government.
Indeed, we’re catching a glimpse of it in a new mood, buoyed by an emerging culture of honesty, a burgeoning sense of capability, a spreading belief that a government can actually strike up a bargain with the people. Which is an indictment of a regime that extolled the vice of rottenness, that punished the good and rewarded the wicked, that made government something to want to avoid rather than go to. And a more distant regime which did the same thing but worse. Far far worse.
Of course the reason we’re only seeing glimpses of the changes is that they’ve just begun. There’s a long way to go, in a road full of uncertainties. But P-Noy hews closely to it, the road hitherto not taken, and he may yet have the satisfaction of finally getting back at his family’s oppressors, at his country’s tormentors. He may yet find the satisfaction of wreaking on them his complete revenge, his ultimate revenge:
How should we teach young Filipinos about martial law?
Elsewhere in the world, countries who went through a national trauma have tried to come to grips with their experience in a two-pronged way: with the truth, and with dispatch.
As soon as it could, Cambodia set up a Khmer Rouge Tribunal to exact accountability from those most responsible for the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. A notorious prison, the site of the torture and death of countless ordinary Cambodians, was also turned into a genocide museum, its most haunting exhibit a collection of skulls and bones as a reminder of the unspeakable brutality that had occurred.
In South Africa, as soon as apartheid was dismantled, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed, where both victims of the former repressive white regime and its enablers and perpetrators were invited to testify to help in the healing of the deeply divided land. And in Argentina, a National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons sought to probe the abuses of a succession of military juntas—specifically, to help shed light on the fate of some 30,000 Argentines that disappeared during the country’s long night of state repression, called the “Dirty War.”
Meanwhile, in our part of the world, 26 years after the fall of the dictatorship and 40 years after the declaration of martial law, not only is the notorious Marcos family ensconced in power but an alternative history of the Marcos years also holds sway over a significant portion of the population (mostly in the north, where Ferdinand Marcos is seen as a hero or at least a misunderstood statesman).
His widow Imelda’s antics, such as designing tacky jewelry to make light of the enduring public disgust at her excessive ways, are seen as harmless, even endearing, gestures. And the strongman’s son and namesake, a senator of the realm, boldly twits victims of human rights abuse for their supposed temerity to demand justice and compensation for the violations they suffered under martial law.
President Aquino’s recent directive to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to form a committee to compile the experiences and stories of those who suffered under martial law is a laudable move, if one that also begs the question: Why only now?
A full generation of Filipinos has grown up after the 1986 Edsa People Power revolt, and with each succeeding year, that singular achievement—the “grandfather” of people power revolutions, as Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Kim Komenich called it—has steadily lost its luster. Anecdotal evidence suggests the depths of ignorance and incuriosity many young people today hold about the Marcos years; it can only come from the paucity of truthful and complete information on that period in their history classes and, as well, from the larger sense of indifference and forgetfulness that afflicts the nation.
An anonymous axiom says “Happy is the country that has no history”—the happiness, of course, being the blithe simplemindedness of the fool with no memory of the actions and motivations that define his character and place in the world. This must be why Filipinos are invariably rated as the happiest people on earth; the dark side of our culture of levity is the tendency to let bygones be bygones too quickly, indiscriminately, the hard work of exacting justice given up for the soothing balm of forgiveness.
Or, if not outright absolution, a fuzzy “objectivity” that would let children decide on their own whether martial law was good or bad, if Education Secretary Armin Luistro would have his way. “If you already teach judgment or interpretation, I don’t think that’s education,” he said, adding that this approach would prevent a situation where students “imbibe the biases” of the historian who authored the book.
Let’s see. Under martial law there was indeed peace and order in the streets, the petty gangs were gone, long hair on men was abolished, calm came with the nightly curfew. But that peace came at a horrific price: 3,257 murders, 35,000 torture incidents and 70,000 incarcerations, among other things.
Would students on their own be able to make the connection? Shouldn’t a historian’s role, and a teacher’s, for that matter, be to extract insight from the facts? “History does not only consist of documents,” said historian John Lukacs. And “after the collection of facts, the search for causes,” reminded another, Hippolyte Taine.
Let truth, and nothing but, be the guide in teaching our kids the lessons of martial law. And none too soon, for we have a lot of catching up to do.
^ Perhaps our parents who are old enough and grandparents who went through World War II wonder why those of us in this and succeeding generations even buy Japanese products such as cars and appliances. In Korea, even young Koreans in their teenage years were taught all about the torment suffered by their country under what was then Imperial Japan. And even though the world is now a different place, Koreans in general supposedly still have a mistrust for the Japanese. I've always said we should have just pulled a Ceacescu in 1986.
That was quite a mouthful Manny Pangilinan spat out last week. “Kung ako lang,” he was quoted as saying, “I’d pack up and go back to Hong Kong. Ang gulo-gulo n’yo.” He said that after Antonio Trillanes blind-sided him, depicting him as whipping up anti-China sentiment in this country to protect his business interests.
Before that he had just broken ties with Ateneo de Manila, citing irreconcilable differences. He was particularly unhappy about three things. One was Ateneo opposing the Reproductive Health bill. Two was Ateneo opposing mining. And three was Ateneo opposing plagiarism: Its professors in particular took a dim view of his plagiarizing Oprah and others in his graduation speech, which they made known in a position paper.
Oh, but please don’t leave us, begged House Majority Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II. Specifically, Gonzales said: “While I understand his frustration and disappointment, I want to appeal to him to take pause and rethink this repatriation to Hong Kong. The steady performance of our economy today is the result of a confluence of factors that a daring investor in the like of him has greatly contributed to.”
What arrant nonsense.
Pangilinan wants to dissociate with Ateneo, fine. That’s his business, in more ways than one, even if some of the reasons he advances for it must give rise to questions about the quality of his character, if not his mind. The part about parting ways because of Ateneo’s decision to buck RH is not just fine, it’s laudable. The part about Ateneo opposing mining, that’s a lot more debatable. And debate is probably the best way to resolve the extremes of mining being an evil unto itself and mining being this country’s savior from poverty.
But it’s the part about plagiarism that’s especially revealing. What, he’s had it with Ateneo because it caught him copying? Or because its teachers chose to rap him on the knuckles for it? Portions of his speech were lifted from Oprah, J.K. Rowlings and Barack Obama, the eagle-eyed netizens who discovered it showing exactly which parts were so. As I said then, I don’t know which is worse, being caught plagiarizing or being caught plagiarizing Oprah. Surely he did not lack for people with a deeper insight into life to plagiarize? Or maybe he did lack them: He did not know them.
But like I said, he wants to split with Ateneo, that’s his business. But he starts throwing a tantrum because a loose cannon of a senator throws a volley his way and threatening to pull out his business because of it, it ceases to be his business. It becomes everybody’s business.
What sucks about it is several things. Not least is that he does not lack for the means to respond to these accusations. He has a TV channel, he has shares in several newspapers, he has the assurance his side will always find air or print. When he called Trillanes a liar, it was aired and printed. What more does he want? That people like Trillanes be gagged? That media do not publish his accusations? For someone who owns a great deal of the media, he hasn’t yet grasped the concept of freedom of the press.
What sucks even more is his monumental presumption that this country needs him more than he needs it. Or that this country has profited more from him than he has profited from it. Gonzales’ reaction in fact is just a shameless exercise in licking his master’s not particularly savory body part. Our economy is improving because of daring entrepreneurs like him? Well, Gonzales may call using foreign money to build an empire, gobbling up telecommunications and communications companies, and pretty much trying to own the country daring, but the rest of us will only call it tapang ng apog. And Gonzales may call the sudden spike in Meralco prices a sign of an improving economy, but the rest of us will only call it things that are not fit to print.
Frankly, I don’t know why he hasn’t yet been summoned by the Senate to answer questions about the provenance of his money while it’s on anti-treason mode, and culpable violation of this country’s antitrust laws, such as they are. Of course he may threaten even more loudly that he will pull out of this country, but I will bet Gonzales and anyone else is in deathly fear of it that the day he does it is the day I stop writing columns.
But what sucks even most is his posturing that he is outside of us, above us, and entitled to judge us. “Ang gulo-gulo n’yo”: The pronoun is dazzling. It’s not “Ang gulo-gulo natin, we’re messing things up, we should get our act together.” It’s “Ang gulo-gulo n’yo, you’re a bunch of anarchists, you don’t shape up, I’m outta here.” That’s not the attitude of a Filipino businessman, that’s the attitude of a foreign investor. Hell, that is not the attitude of a Filipino, that is the attitude of a foreigner.
Which is really what he is. He is a foreign investor who used Indonesian money to raise the pillars of his business empire. Anthoni Salim, son of Salim patriarch Soedono, is president and CEO of the Salim Group which put up through him the First Pacific Corp., the parent company of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. And he is a foreigner who keeps complaining about the very things that have allowed him to prosper, chiefly that this country is so gulo-gulo it has allowed him to slip through the tangle. And who gets flustered when it stops being so he can’t get to first base with P-Noy the way he could with the more, well, gulo-gulo, former fake president.
“Kung ako lang, I’d pack up and go to Hong Kong?” What’s stopping you? But why Hong Kong? Might as well go to Singapore. No one will criticize you there. But it’s so not gulo-gulo I doubt you’ll get to have a crack at a shadow of a chance to even try to contemplate owning Lee Kuan Yew’s favorite country.
Anti-cybercrime law will not be used against journalists—CIDG
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
6:39 am | Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
MANILA, Philippines—Trust us, we will not spy on journalists or try to curtail press freedom.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) made this assurance on Tuesday to allay fears that members of the media and bloggers would be harassed by the government under the newly enacted anti-cybercrime law passed by Congress.
Speaking in a news briefing, CIDG chief Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr. maintained that the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, or Republic Act 10175, did not authorize law enforcement agencies to spy on journalists and critics of the government.
“There will be no surveillance of journalists or other individuals,” Pagdilao told reporters at Camp Crame.
“If there is no complainant, we will not initiate investigation on our own. When someone comes to us for grievance, rest assured (that we will observe) fairness,” he said.
“Trust us. We are CIDG,” he added, noting that the agency had not been accused of any wrongdoing since his office started its crackdown on Internet-related crimes two years ago.
Pagdilao, a lawyer, said the “batting average” of libel cases that resulted in a conviction of accused journalists was not significant anyway.
“If you look at libel cases filed (against) members of the media, they hardly prosper (in courts). I think that would also be the case under this law,” he said.
Senior Inspector Roberto Reyes, CIDG computer forensic investigator, said the police would need to secure a court-issued warrant first before accessing the email address, computer and other electronic devices of an individual accused of violating the law.
Reyes said the CIDG and other law enforcement offices tasked to implement the law did not have the equipment to monitor all the exchanges of information in the Internet.
“Our actions will be complaint-based. If there is no complaint, there’s no reason for us to monitor,” he said.
“What we will monitor are the hackers who are involve in computer intrusion and systems intrusion,” Reyes added.
While he acknowledged that the provision on libel has been the most contentious portion of the law, Pagdilao said the measure would greatly help the government in going after syndicates involved in scams, cyber pornography and other computer crimes.
“This is a step forward as far as we are concerned… This is a positive act and this is going to give us an arm or tool by which the law enforcement sector can prevent and fight cybercrimes that are already in our midst,” he said.
As a UP freshman on the Diliman campus, I was relatively unperturbed by the student activism that had begun to draw other members of my batch. Pampered as an honor student and government scholar, my future seemed secure.
The consecutive national elections of 1969, 1970 and 1971 were unique in Philippine political history. This string of highly political election years kept the nation in ferment, heightened the political awareness of the public, especially youth like us, and gradually brought the cauldron to a boil.
Things were coming to a head. As the specter of military rule started to become real, the Communist Party of the Philippines launched an ambitious effort to recruit from among radicalized activists. I was one of them.
On Aug. 21, 1971, the Liberal Party rally at Plaza Miranda was bombed, killing several people and almost decimating the LP leadership. Immediately, President Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus. The suspension basically allowed the military to detain anyone indefinitely. What seemed a theoretical possibility was now becoming real. Marcos was, indeed, hell-bent on extending his rule, regardless of constitutional prohibitions.
After the writ suspension, the movement, to me, became the Movement, and eventually the Revolution. My distaste for government corruption, my desire to do good for the poor, and my early commitment to stand by my country rather than adopt a new more prosperous one—values I had picked up at the family dinner table which led me to activism in the first place—were giving way to class consciousness, revolutionary fervor and communist ideology.
Life in the underground
The declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, swept my niggling questions under the rug. As we entered this dark period of recent Philippine history, my life in the underground began. I turned 20 in November 1972.
I was part of a group that consisted mostly of journalists and writers. I was assigned to a team that worked on an underground newspaper in Filipino, which we called Taliba ng Bayan. For almost two years, I was part of the group that published Taliba ng Bayan.
On Oct. 4, 1974, I was in a meeting with members of the Manila-Rizal Committee in a UG house in Valenzuela, Bulacan, when armed men broke into the door and I found myself face to face with a gun.
I felt myself freeze and blanch before the muzzles pointed at my face. Shouts of “Down! Down!” brought me to my senses and I lay face down on the floor, as the raiding team settled down to identify the captives. I was one month short of my 22nd birthday.
Of all the body blows, I found it hardest to deal with those to the solar plexus. Exhale all the air in your lungs. Then force more air out—twice, three times—until you can squeeze nothing more out of your lungs. Hold your breath as long as you can. Now try to breathe in. If you somehow cannot, that’s how it feels to get well-placed blows to the solar plexus.
It leaves you gasping for breath, for air that won’t come because of the cramp on your diaphragm. The physical pain of fists hitting skin, muscles and bones recedes to the background, until it’s just you and the air that won’t come. (I wonder if Sisa’s Basilio in Rizal’s Noli felt the same, hung upside down and dunked into a well?)
At one point, when I felt I was about give in (the bone of contention was my uncle’s home address), I told myself to last a little longer. A few seconds more, a few minutes more. No, not yet. Then they would pause for the questions. And we’d go one more round.
Subconsciously, I felt that giving away my uncle’s address would be giving away nothing at all. It would, on the other hand, inform my relatives and subsequently my parents that I was in military hands.
But then I didn’t want to impose on my uncle and my aunt the terror of getting raided in their home. My frustrated interrogators probably did not realize it, but they were testing not my loyalty to the Movement, but my filial love for Auntie Orang, a cousin of my father, and her husband Uncle Domeng, who gave me sanctuary in the earliest days of martial law when I had nowhere to go.
After my Isafp [Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines] ordeal, I was “borrowed” by another intelligence unit for further interrogation. Lieutenant Garcia of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group took me to Camp Panopio along Edsa near the PC headquarters.
I told them the same story. They didn’t believe me. So they brought in the machine. Two lengths of wire extended from it, both ending with bare wire, the insulation stripped. One end was tied around the handle of a spoon.
The machine is a field generator, with a wheel with a handle. It probably generates 40-60 volts and, if turned really fast, may give as high as ninety volts or even more.
My interrogators tied the end of one wire around my right index finger and inserted the spoon into my pants, on my right waist, until it rested where the leg meets the lower abdomen, near the crotch. My body would complete the circuit.
When I was young, I used to watch my uncles and older cousins as they slaughtered a pig. As soon as the pig realized something bad was going to happen, it would shriek for dear life.
Shriek of terror
It was a grating shriek of helplessness, desperation, and terror, one that rang in your mind long after the pig was dead.
It was that kind of scream that issued from my throat every time my torturers spun the wheel around. It was totally involuntary, the automatic response of a body invaded by an alien current of a thousand spikes snaking through one’s cells and nerves. I could stifle it no more than I could stop my hand from jerking away when shocked briefly by live house wiring.
Across the aisle were two civilian Metrocom employees. They were women, apparently on overtime. They went on with their work, as if they heard or saw nothing. Business as usual.
No sign of surprise or concern. Metrocom apparently used the electric shock treatment often enough to make its civilian employees inured to screams.
Soft drink bottle
After less than a week at the Ipil detention center, I was called to the office, told to pack my things, and taken to another intelligence unit, the dreaded 5th Constabulary Security Unit, for further interrogation.
Until then, I had no idea that a soft drink bottle could be used for torture. I was made to squat inside a room with the air conditioner fully turned on, and the session began.
What I got were not the hard body blows that I had endured in Isafp, but sharp taps on my limbs with a soft drink bottle.
These taps were unlike the jarring shock of a chest blow or the asphyxiating cramp of an upper cut to the solar plexus. They brought instead a gradually growing numbness that became an ache that grew sharper as muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone began to get sore and the nerves on the skin became even more sensitive to pain.
The taps weren’t done in a hurry. In fact, they came at a deliberate pace. Starting with the left upper arm, gradually going down to the elbow and the forearm. And then the right upper arm.
Then the legs, one at a time. The knees, and the shins, finally. Have you ever bumped your knee or shin into a hard object? Remember, that was a single bump.
When they finally gave up on me, I was so sore I could hardly move. Reddish blotches had started to erupt all over my limbs, which soon turned bluish-violet and then almost black. Parts of my arms and legs had literally turned black and blue from the beating.
Dark blotches would remain visible almost two months later. When the blotches became unnoticeable, I was allowed to have visitors.
It was in the 5th CSU where I first heard it told and confirmed that the Party chairman had secretly ordered the Plaza Miranda bombing.
This information was not forcibly extracted but freely volunteered to us by conscience-stricken Party leaders in prison who were in the midst of their own soul-searching, perhaps suffering from pangs of guilt that the confessions helped ease.
Kumander Dante (Bernabe Buscayno, then commander in chief of the New People’s Army), supposedly shed tears when he learned about the Party’s role. I did too.
The Plaza Miranda revelations were a watershed for me. So, the Party had been telling us lies. And I had echoed the lies too, recalling the pieces on the Plaza Miranda bombing I had written in the Philippine Collegian, Taliba ng Bayan, and elsewhere. I was wracked with questions and doubts.
I didn’t realize then how much worse it could get. But, in fact, it did. Purges had happened in the Soviet Union under Stalin, in China under Mao, in Cambodia under Pol Pot, and possibly elsewhere too, when communists were already in power.
In the late 1980s, before they had even won power, those who professed belief in national democracy and wanted a dictatorship of the proletariat in the Philippines prefaced their mission with an internal purge. This purge left nearly a thousand or so of their own members and followers dead—after a horrible ordeal of interrogation, torture, and eventually, execution in the hands of their own comrades.
Although I would not immediately renounce my commitment to the national democratic movement, fundamental questions would flood back and I would replay in my mind all the internal debates many times.
It would take not months but years of self-cleansing, guided by nothing but my own conscience, before I could again face the world with confidence in my own system of beliefs.
For our generation, the horrors of martial law were common knowledge, especially because the postdictatorship President, Cory Aquino, was herself the wife of one of its victims.
But when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, following Marcos’ footsteps, was on the verge of imposing full military rule to cover up her own brand of corruption, yet not enough crowds formed to kick her out, I realized that subsequent generations never really knew what it meant to live under a dictatorship.
They have no memories of dictatorship. Unlike me, they don’t have marks on their bodies, bad dreams at night, or friends who died in the prime of youth to remind them.
When we of this generation go, our memories should not leave the world with us. No, we must never forget.