Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wowowee Wowowoooooo!!!!!

Wowowee is the center of publicity (particularly on YouTube) yet again due to an incident on a segment of their show. The show is being accused of manipulating the outcome of the prizes. If in fact he is holding the 2M film then there would be no chance in hell that the contestant will be able to win the 2M. Or another assumption is that if he feels like it, he can just stick the 2M film on the chosen coin and let the contestant win the 2M.

Whether you believe that there is a scam or not on this episode (or other episodes for that matter), there is a bigger issue to be addressed about Wowowee and the culture of noontime shows. I chose Wowowee as my prime example because this show just gets to my nerves. I can’t stand this show. I can’t stand the host. I can’t stand the stupid songs. I never really cared for Wowowee. The only time that I watched it was when my cousin was a back up dancer at the Chicago episode of the show. I really hate this show for that fact that it’s like a freak show. I pity the people who are desperate to be a contestant. They are made to embarrass themselves on national (or worldwide even) to be able to join. I mean, if you really have compassion for the masa that line up at your studios, why put them through humiliation? Isn’t it enough that some of them camp out the studio, wait for hours just to get in?

Culture of Fatalism

According to IBON Foundation , some 65 million Filipinos or 80% of the total population are making ends meet on a measly P96 or less. In another survey this year by IBON, more than three-fourths of Filipinos or 76.8% considered themselves as poor. No wonder then that lines for noontime shows are always long. In the case of Wowowee’s (tragic) 1st anniversary, 30, 000 people turned up at the Ultra to get a chance to be included in the audience. Because of the chronic crisis in the country, one turns to games of chance in the hope of elevating oneself from poverty in a blink of eye. Shows such as Wowowee, which rely on games of chance (vs. skill) as a come on for their contestants, leads us to the culture of fatalism albeit unintentional to some of those who are part of the these kinds of shows (To some because some producers, hosts etc actually exploit the masses’ fascination with the wheel of fate to get higher ratings or sponsorships.). Unconsciously (or is it?), they are teaching the masses that we can escape poverty if we are just lucky enough. What about some other means of alleviating ourselves from our plight? Good for the show if they helped hundreds of people through a one-time-big-time jackpot they won on Wilyonaryo. What about the remaining 85 million more? Are we going to tell them, oh well, you’re just not lucky enough. Too bad. You’ll be poor for the rest of your life.

Macho-shit Host

I also never cared for Willie Revilllame ever since he started hosting noon time shows. I hate his macho shit humor and sexual innuendos on his female co-hosts and contestants. I can never forget that whenever I watch “Calendar Girls”, I cringe. I pity the women who had to wear bathing suits while being “interviewed” by Willie Revillame and John Estrada. By the end of the segment, I would always feel, as a woman, exploited even though I was just watching from the television. How happy I was when we and the rest of his macho shit buddies got the ax from the network because of repetitive suspensions from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Imagine my horror when I learned that Willie returned with his own show. For me, he essentially did not change his style of hosting at all. He is still the same chauvinist pig that I saw back in the 90’s. If less sexual overtones, he still thinks that he’s better than everyone else. Have you seen how he makes fun of his audience and contestants? Bigot.

Stupid songs, poor performances

These noon time shows have a knack for popularizing catchy yet meaningless songs. Is this art? What does this contribute to the people? Mao Zedong said that we must popularize what is NEEDED and can readily be accepted by the workers, peasants, at the same time we must advance art and raise standards in the direction the proletariat are advancing. At the rate we’re going… we must advance, advance, advance! Please, it’s like regressing as a human race. I’ll say it now : NAKAKABOBO. It’s like watching Teletubbies with my pamangkins when at their age I was watching Batibot. (May I say that those pamangkins developed speech difficulties: my niece has a lisp and the other stutters.) Another peeve are artistas “dancing” or rather stomping, gyrating or simply making a fool of themselves. I’m so sick of programs parade their extensive network stable of artistas thinking that showing sexy moves and a cute face makes a good show. For the artista, take time in practicing your dance routine or songs you have to sing or lip sync. As beautiful as you are, it’s still grueling to watch a person fumbling and bumbling during a performance. To the networks, please don’t force your artistas to do something that they are horrible at. If they can’t sing, please be honest with them that they can’t sing and just give them something else to perform. Please do not exploit them by pushing them beyond their capabilities. It will save your artista from the humiliation.

I’m all for helping the poor and I think everybody can claim that. Wowowee claims that. But please, be sincere about it and show true compassion to your audience. Don’t humiliate them. Don’t give them a substandard performances. Don’t brainswash them with a non-coherent songs. Don’t take a messianic stance, and don’t take the masses for fools.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Release Jose Ma. Sison!

Release Jose Ma. Sison!

Newsflash: Prof. Jose Ma. Sison has been arrested by the Dutch government today based on a warrant issued by a Dutch court judge.

The warrant alleged that Sison, 68, was wanted for "multiple murder" and for "calling for more murders."

Prof. Sison has been subjected to a series of false and politically motivated charges in 1988, 1991, 2003 and 2006. One after the other, these charges have been dismissed and nullified by Philippine courts in 1992, 1994 and 2007. Thus, they have been proven as malicious and pure fabrications of the Philippine military, police and intelligence authorities.

Trumped-up charges, lies and state terrorism will never stop Prof. Sison and the Filipino people from fighting US imperialism and its puppets.

We call on the Dutch government to release Prof. Sison immediately. We call on fellow youth bloggers to post their support to the call for Prof. Sison's release, email the Dutch government and to troop to the Dutch embassies all over the world to push for the release of Prof. Sison. Young activists from the Phils will picket the Dutch embassy in Makati tomorrow.

I am reposting a paper discussing how Prof. Sison has been unjustly prosecuted by the RP, US and Dutch Governments.
Chronology of the Persecution of Prof. Jose Maria Sison

by the Philippine, US and Dutch Governments

Issued by the International DEFEND Committee

18 August 2007

Since his release from military detention and the nullification of subversion and rebellion charges against him in 1986 after the fall of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, Prof. Jose Maria Sison has been subjected to a series of false and politically motivated charges in 1988, 1991, 2003 and 2006. One after the other, these charges have been dismissed and nullified by Philippine courts in 1992, 1994 and 2007. Thus, they have been proven as malicious and pure fabrications of the Philippine military, police and intelligence authorities.

But the Philippine, US and Dutch governments have used the false charges to persecute Prof. Sison. The trumped-up charges of subversion in 1988 and multiple murder in 1991 and the charges of subversion and rebellion nullified in 1986 have been used by the Dutch government to prevent the legal admission as refugee and residence of Prof. Sison in The Netherlands. Even the most unfounded propaganda attacks from the time of Marcos to 2006, which never materialized into formal complaints, have been used by the Philippine, US and Dutch governments to malign him as a "terrorist." These governments do so even as Philippine prosecutors and courts dismiss and nullify the formal complaints and charges.

1. Under the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the Philippine government subjected Prof. Jose Maria Sison to arbitrary detention from 1977 to 1986 and to various forms of physical and mental torture, including water cure, punching, more than five years of solitary confinement, prolonged deprivation of basic necessities as well as medical and dental care and repeated death threats. He was arrested and detained without judicial warrant and was charged before two military commissions for subversion and rebellion. He was thus put in jeopardy of being punished twice for the same alleged offense of seeking to overthrow the Philippine government.

2. After the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, the Aquino regime released Prof. Sison from military detention on March 5, 1986. The two charges of subversion and rebellion against him were nullified through the dissolution of the military commissions as organs of repression. He joined the faculty of the Asian Studies Center of the state institution, the University of the Philippines in April 1986. From September 1986 onwards, he went on a tour for a series of university lectures and solidarity speeches in Oceania, Asia and Europe on the situation and prospects of the Philippines. The Philippine military authorities publicly attacked his lectures and pressured the Aquino regime to cancel his Philippine passport. They trumped up a new charge of subversion against him in September 1988. This became the basis for the cancellation of his Philippine passport.

3. After the arbitrary cancellation of his passport, Prof. Sison applied for political asylum in The Netherlands in October 1988. The Dutch Ministry of Justice used the false charge of subversion and related false claims against him from the Philippine government as the basis for issuing a negative decision on his asylum application in July 1990. The US State Department admitted publicly that the Philippine government intervened in the asylum case in order to oppose it. But the highest administrative court, the Judicial Department of the Council of State (Raad van State), made a judgment in 1992 annulling the unfavorable decision of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. It recognized Prof. Sison as a political refugee and criticized the ministry for using secret intelligence dossiers against him in contravention of the principle of fair administration and for delaying for more than four years the approval of his asylum application.

4. Despite the 1992 judgment of the Council of State, the Dutch Ministry of Justice refused to grant asylum to Prof. Sison. It also ignored the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law by the Philippine government in 1992 and the consequent dismissal of the charge of subversion against Prof. Sison by the Pasig city court and the related nullification of the specifications against him. It likewise disregarded the resolution of the Manila city prosecutors in April 1994 dismissing as something based on pure speculation the 1991 complaint of multiple murder arising from the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971. It continued to use the false charges against Prof. Sison and argue that to grant him asylum would run counter to the commitment and credibility of the Dutch state to its allies. Further, it cited raw intelligence dossiers to fabricate the claim that he is in contact with "terrorist" organizations. It was thus already using the "terrorist" label against him as early as in the years from 1990 to 1994.

5. In response to the new appeal of Prof. Sison in 1993, the Council of State, as the highest administrative court, issued in 1995 the judgment reaffirming its previous ruling that he is a political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and that he is under the protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ruled that Article 1 F of the Refugee Convention did not apply on him because there was no sufficient evidence against him for crimes that would exclude him from consideration as a refugee. It directed the Dutch Ministry of Justice to grant him legal admission as refugee and residence permit if there was no other country to which he could transfer without violating the Refugee Convention and without putting him at risk of ill treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Dutch Ministry of Justice ignored the judgment of the Council of State and continued to refuse him legal admission as refugee and the permit to reside in The Netherlands.

6. Prof. Sison appealed to the newly-created Aliens Court in 1996 against the refusal of the Dutch justice ministry to grant him asylum. The court ordered the Dutch government to make a new decision. The Dutch government ultimately took the position before the Law Unification Chamber (REK, Rechtseenheidkamer) that it had the freedom of policy or discretion to refuse to Prof. Sison legal admission as a refugee and not to give him residence permit but to cease and desist from expelling him from The Netherlands in order to avoid the violation of the principle of nonrefoulement in Article 33 of the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Being dependent on justice ministry personnel, funds and facilities, the REK upheld the position of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and dignified the brazen lie that Prof. Sison was liable for the false accusations of the Philippine government and for "contacts with terrorist organizations" on the basis of intelligence dossiers already examined and evaluated by the Raad van State in 1992 and 1995. It ran counter to the 1992 and 1995 judgments of the Raad van State, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in the Chahal case, the dismissal of all charges against Prof. Sison in the Philippines from 1992 to 1994 and the total absence of any criminal charge against him abroad.

7. In April 1998 the justice secretary of the Philippine government issued an official certification declaring that there was no pending criminal charge against Prof. Sison and referred to the 1992 nullification and 1993 dismissal of the 1988 charge of subversion as well as the 1994 dismissal of the 1991 charge of multiple murder related to the Plaza Miranda bombing. From 1994 to 2003, the Philippine government, including the military and police authorities, took a rest from filing any formal criminal complaint against Prof. Sison. The Philippine military authorities merely hurled propaganda attacks against him, despite the fact that the Philippine government had already requested the US government in November 2001 to designate Prof. Sison as a "terrorist". It was only in 2003 that they submitted to the Department of Justice a complaint against him for the June 2001 killing of the intelligence officer Col. Rodolfo Aquinaldo. The Filipino lawyers of Prof. Sison succeeded in having the complaint archived because of its patent falsity and political motivation and because of the lack of Philippine jurisdiction over him in the light of Philippine and international law.

8. The US government designated Prof. Sison as a "terrorist" on August 12, 2002 and the Dutch government followed suit within 24 hours on August 13, 2002 despite the completely clean legal status of Prof. Sison, despite the absence of any specific act of terrorism that can be ascribed to him, despite the absence of any kind of criminal charge or investigation involving him and despite the Hernandez doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence concerning political offenses and the absence then of any anti-terrorism law in the Philippines. The "terrorist" blacklisting of Prof. Sison by the US and other governments has placed him in a position worse than that of a convicted murderer. He is prohibited from gainful employment. He is deprived of his social benefits, including living allowance, housing, medical insurance, civil liability insurance and old age pension. His bank account is frozen. He is prevented from receiving royalty payments for the publication of his books. He is preempted from receiving compensation for damages due to him for winning his human rights case against the Marcos regime. His fundamental rights have been violated, including the right to the essential means of human existence, the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to defense, the right to be informed of reasons for the sanctions, the right to judicial protection, the right to private and family life, the right of free movement, the right against slander and defamation and the right to be secure against threats to life and reputation.

9. Out to please the US and Philippine governments politically, the Dutch government, with the open lobbying of Philippine authorities, pushed the Council of the European Union to blacklist Prof. Sison on October 28, 2002. Two days after the blacklist decision of the Council, the Dutch government repealed its blacklisting of Prof. Sison but persisted in violating his fundamental rights and causing material and moral damage to him by invoking the Council decision. The Dutch and British governments are the main interveners in support of the Council of the European Union in the case filed by Prof. Sison against the Council before the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg since February 2003. The Dutch government is the main source of the lies given to the court that (a) Prof. Sison is liable for "terrorism" (and not for rebellion under the Hernandez political offense doctrine of Philippine jurisprudence) for being allegedly the Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and head of the New People's Army and (b) the 1992 and 1995 judgments of the Dutch Council of State and the 1997 judgment of the REK on his asylum case held Prof. Sison liable for "terrorism" (contrary to the fact that these courts recognized him as a political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and as someone protected by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

10. In 2005 Arroyo and her henchmen in the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security and the Anti-Terrorism Task Force started to escalate false accusations against Prof. Sison in the mass media and pushed military officers to file baseless charges of common crimes (like murder, robbery, kidnapping and the like) against him in connection with incidents ascribed to the New People's Army in various parts of the Philippines. The campaign of slander was obviously intended to reinforce the "terrorist" blacklisting of Prof. Sison by various foreign governments and to justify the intensified extrajudicial killing, abduction and torture of progressive legal activists. It was also intended to link Prof. Sison to a broad united front of legal political forces striving to lead the people to oust the Arroyo regime for having cheated in the presidential elections of 2004. The filing of criminal charges against Prof. Sison culminated in an omnibus charge of rebellion in April 21, 2006 against him and 50 other people, including underground revolutionary leaders, progressive congressmen and anti-Arroyo military officers. The purported facts of the charge of rebellion covered the entire period, from the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968 to the filing of the charge on April 21, 2006 and disregarded the nullification of charges and the amnesty proclamations from 1986 to 1995.

11. On April 23, 2007 the Council of the European Union sent to Prof. Sison a letter with a one-page statement that repeats the two lies provided by the Dutch government, as mentioned in No. 9 above. On May 22, 2007 he sent a letter of reply and told the Council that the statement of lies had already been presented by the Council to the European Court of First Instance, has been debunked in court and does not amount to a statement of reasons as required of the Council by the court in cases of "terrorist" blacklisting. Then the Council made a new decision on June 28, 2007 blacklisting Prof. Sison on the basis of the aforesaid lies it had made before. This new decision of the Council is obviously intended to serially perpetuate Prof. Sison in the 'terrorist" blacklist, continually violate his fundamental rights, cause material and moral damage to him and undermine or render useless any favorable judgment of the European Court of First Instance on his case against the Council of the European Union.

12. The European Court of First Instance issued its judgment on the Sison case on July 11, 2007 annulling the decision of the Council placing him on the "terrorist" list and freezing his financial assets. The annulment is grounded on the Council's infringement of Prof. Sison's right to defense, its failure to give a statement of reasons from the second time that it blacklisted him and the violation of his right to judicial protection. The court does not require the Council to pay for the material and moral damages suffered by Prof. Sison due to its decision and fails to mention that the Dutch government has invoked the decision of the Council in order to inflict material and moral damages on him. However, the court requires the Council to pay for the costs of the litigation to the lawyers of Prof. Sison as plaintiff and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as intervener. Insofar as it can be established that the Dutch government has directly inflicted material and moral damages on Prof. Sison, he can take legal action to seek compensation for such damages. But it can be expected that the Dutch government will resort to every legal trickery to evade accountability.

13. In the meantime, Prof. Sison has won a resounding legal victory in the Philippines. The Philippine Supreme Court issued on July 2, 2007 a judgment nullifying the omnibus charge of rebellion and all the supposed evidence from 1968 to 2006 against Prof. Sison and his 50 other co-accused. In effect, the supposed evidence cannot be used again against all or any of them in any new charge. The solicitor general has publicly admitted that the value of the state's stock of purported evidence has been wiped out. This is the latest instance when Prof. Sison is cleared of a criminal charge. It previously happened in 1986, 1992, 1994 and 1998. At this moment, the Philippine and foreign governments persecuting Prof. Sison should be at a loss in holding him liable for any criminal offense or any semblance of this. The Philippine government can fabricate a charge of rebellion against Prof. Sison only from the date after April 21, 2006 and a charge of "terrorism" from July 15, 2007 which is the date the Human Security Act of 2007 became effective. However, the Human Security Act of 2007 is now under fire by a broad range of democratic forces, human rights organizations and legal experts in the Philippines and abroad for being patently unconstitutional.

Prof. Sison has won a significant legal victory with the July 11, 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance. But he still needs to complete his legal victory by contending with the preemptive June 28, 2008 decision of the Council retaining him in the "terrorist" blacklist and by filing a new application for annulment of said decision insofar as he is concerned. He still has to defend his fundamental rights and demand compensation for the material and moral damages inflicted on him.

We expect that the Philippine, US and Dutch governments will continue to persecute Prof. Jose Maria Sison by using against him their political power and the existing fascist "anti-terrorism" laws and decisions that they have devised in order to justify state terrorism and wars of aggression. We need to continue and intensify both the political and legal struggles of democratic forces and the people of the world in order defend the fundamental rights of Prof. Sison and other victims of the global trend of fascisation and aggressive wars generated by the imperialist powers and their reactionary puppets.

We must struggle to stop immediately the persecution of progressive leaders like Prof. Jose Maria Sison and the suppression of anti-imperialist and democratic forces and peoples fighting for national liberation, greater freedom, social justice, development and world peace!!!

Fore reference:

Ruth de Leon

International Coordinator

International DEFEND Committee


Telephone: 00-31-30-8895306


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Garbage Village

I spent a day with Korean students Last July as an interpreter for their exposure trip at Smokey Mountain. People would think that it’s an easy task but believe you me, it’s rather challenging. My charges are of high school age and know very basic English. I in turn have to break down my sentences and thoughts into short sentences or phrases to get through to them.

How many times can you use the word hot in a conversation. We would like to compete with Paris Hilton and her posse please:

Korean Student(KS): The Philippines is hot here.

Me: Yes it is. It is even hotter in the summer.

KS: Korea is hot also. You like Kimchi?

Me: Yes I do. But we don’t eat it every day. It’s too, erm, hot.

KS: Very healthy. Hot?

Me: Hot. Spicy.

KS: Korea is hot also.

Nevermind. A laugh will end the conversation. Good thing we arrived at Smokey Mountain a few minutes after that conversation.

Smoky Mountain is a 9 hectare land owned by the government used as a dump site. It located in Tondo, Manila with a population of 30,000 people. It is where Metro Manila’s garbage ends up, thus the source of income for the majority of the population revolves around garbage… mainly as scavengers.

I will not sugar coat anything. The harsh reality is that, it is for me the most horrible place on earth. If I died and I would go to hell, THIS is how hell would look like for me. I almost passed out with the stench of burning rubber, plastic and all of the metro trash. The guide made us wear boots because the filth will take a week to take out of your shoes (if they survive) and feet. We went to see the summit of the garbage mountain where we saw the scavengers scouring the fresh trash dumped by the trucks. Afterwards we saw the place where they make charcoal (oh god the smoke), and the garbage barges (serious environmental issue alert!). After lunch the Koreans played with the local kids. I felt like we sunk deeper into hell. What do you do with 40 kids, 15 Koreans in a 40 square meter room? I was about ready to cry when I saw the kids thundering in. I’ve never been really good with kids. I can handle about a maximum of 2 kids but 40?!? I of course had to translate for them, which isn’t much work. The kids were just fascinated with the Koreans and gamely joined in singing Korean songs even though the Koreans cannot explain the meaning of the song even in English. The kids were given very nice clothes after play time. I just had to smoke 2 ciggies and a soda after all the commotion.

In Smokey Mountain there are so many issues to be concerned about but the most obvious is the health and environmental concerns in the area. The area is really unfit to live in. The #1 sickness in the area are respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. True to its name the area is constantly, almost 24 hours in smoke from burned garbage or charcoal making. Even the community organizers from KADAMAY have their share of asthma attacks and hospitalization due to pneumonia in just a few weeks of staying there. Diarrhea and food poisoning must be common because of the consumption of pagpag or food from the garbage which they re-cook. Reheating contaminated food by God-knows-what microbes is not an assurance that there are toxins can poison, or bacteria that can infect you. A fact: a single tiny health center WAS NOT provided for by the government or sole politician but through the solicitation efforts of the local people’s organizations. During the elections, politicians flock to Smokey Mountain to campaign for themselves (or buying for votes as the locals tell me). Those politicians never bothered to make project for the long term use of the people there. Disgusting trapos. Luckily enough, that particular organization has the strong support of the locals there so the health center gets by fairly. But 1 health center is not enough for 30,000 people.

An environmental issue that has been affecting the fisher-folk near that area are the garbage barges that are polluting the water. Apparently, in trying to reduce the garbage that they put into landfills, the put it on barges. Excess garbage drop into Manila Bay, killing the fish and other aquatic animals that feed those who live near the bay. The people of Smoky Mountain had joint mobilizations with the fisher-folk organization of PAMALAKAYA to address the issue of water pollution but sadly they remain unheard by the government.

I do not want to return to Smoky Mountain if only for the reason that my health cannot take it. (Jhann, kahit ano pang sabihin mo, ayoko na talaga dun. You can convince me otherwise kung sasama ka sa akin doon and experience what I did.) To me it is the most horrible place on earth. The condition of living there is horrible. This thought makes me pity the people who are forced to stay there because they have no other means of earning a living. I am absolutely sure that if the government takes seriously long term projects for basic social services, these people will remain living at the dump site despite the danger to their health. Wala naman gusto ng busabos na pamumuhay pero kung ito lang paraan para mabuhay, gagawin mo ito. Pero sa ginagawa ng kawalang pansin ng sunud-sunod na rehimen sa kalagayan ng mga tao sa Smoky Mountain ay higit nabubusabos ang kanilang pamumuhay. Ang bawat sentimo ng pagmahal ng mga bilihin, ang kawalan ng programang pangkalusugan, pamamahay at edukasyon ay lalo lang nagbibigay ng dahilan para manatili sila doon. One of our new Korean friends asked, "Why are they poor and remain poor throughout generations?" I wonder how would Gloria answer that?


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