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Hostage Taking Situation in the Philippines

I don’t know where to begin.  I don’t know what I’m feeling – so much mixed, overflowing emotions!  Angry, appalled, disgusted, ashamed, shocked, embarassed… The situation was handled in an awful, awful way.

I am absolutely ashamed of our police.  They were not trained to handle something like this.  They used teargas, but they had no gasmasks afterwards.  They acted without verifying what the driver said about all the hostages being dead.   There was no crowd control whatsoever after the hostage taker was killed.  They did not control media.   I don’t agree with a full news blackout, but there should have been rules on what could be shared, and media should have had it’s proper place, not all over the place!  If our media is irresponsible, then someone should enforce some rules!

And yes,  the media.  Too much sensationalism.  They even used the word “hypersensationalism” on Twitter.  They reported everything, they were too near, and they’ve been hounding the victims.   As of this writing, they’re even showing the inside of the bus.  Pam Pastor shared a link on Twitter earlier: Guidelines for Covering Hostage-Taking Crises, Prison Uprisings, Terrorist Actions by Bob Steele of Poynter Online.  Some notable items:

  • Always assume that the hostage taker, gunman, or terrorist has access to the reporting.
  • Avoid describing with words or showing with still photography and video any information that could divulge the tactics or positions of SWAT team members.
  • Seriously weigh the benefits to the public of what information might be given out versus what potential harm that information might cause. This is especially important in live reporting of an ongoing situation.
  • Be very cautious in any reporting on the medical condition of hostages until after a crisis is concluded. Also, be cautious when interviewing hostages or released hostages while a crisis continues.
  • Exercise care when interviewing family members or friends of those involved in standoff situations. Make sure the interview legitimately advances the story for the public and is not simply conducted for the shock value of the emotions conveyed or as a conduit for the interviewee to transmit messages to specific individuals.

Until now, the new President of the Philippines has not issued a statement yet.  I know that he shouldn’t issue statements for all incidents in the Philippines, but this involved citizens from another country, which by the way has issued a warning to its residents about travel to the Philippines.  Also, this incident was all over international news.  As of 12 midnight, no statement has been issued yet.  President Noy, I know this is a tough one, since our police needs many CHANGES, but please, silence is just unacceptable.

Lastly, let us not forget the victims of this tragedy, those who did not make it out of there alive, and those who survived.  They didn’t do anything, yet they suffered immensely, some of them even losing their lives.

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Holiday Economics

While I fully understand why the government/President Aquino has declared August 21 as the non-working holiday instead of August 23, I question his concern for the people who have already made plans for the latter date, given that this announcement was made very late. The people who will be travelling on those days will be “forced” to take leaves, and those who have planned activities other than work will be “forced” to reschedule or cancel their plans. This could be a minority, but these people are still affected. What was the motivation behind this? What is President Aquino trying to prove? Is it – “everything that GMA did was wrong!” I am not a GMA supporter, but I have something against people who question/go against everything someone did just because they don’t like the person. Opposition for the sake of having an opposition, where an administration can do nothing right. Holiday economics could have been “corrected” in the coming years, or even months, but 2 weeks before is just too close.

While I find holiday economics amusing – why celebrate 2 days after or before the real anniversary of an event? – I like it because it gives me time to rest and more opportunities to travel. If it’s taken away, that will be okay, I understand why. But take it away for next year and the coming years.

That said, no one is perfect, and no government is perfect. People CONDEMNING (yes, that’s the right word) this government and the President (and those who voted for him) for this SMALL situation, in my opinion, are bitter citizens who seemingly cannot accept democracy (whoever you voted for, winner or loser, 60% of the country did not agree with you!). I did not vote for Noynoy Aquino but I sure as hell will do my part in helping rebuild our country, and be constructive in my criticisms and reasonable with my expectations.

I see that the prompt for this post has already been deleted on Facebook. Heh.

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Petition for a Freedom of Access to Information Law

Team RP Petition for a Freedom of Access to Information Law

“Secrecy breeds irregularity, fraud, and crime. It allows chicanery, graft, and corruption… A democracy based on ignorance, on misinformation, on conjectures, on suspicion is doomed to fail. The more enlightenment the people have, the more guarantee there is for their success in their collective enterprises, and in the fulfillment of their social aspirations and purposes.” — Justice Gregorio Perfecto

From the de Venecia-Lozada expose, the Hello Garci scandal, and the Spratlys mind-boggler to the North and South Rail questions, events of the recent past clearly highlight how very little we know about the workings of our government, how much difficulty is involved in getting truth to come out and how, albeit fundamental in any republican and democratic state that the government is accountable to the public, we Filipinos are in reality denied direct access to our government institutions and our public servants. As a country that prides itself with democracy, it strikes us with a disquieting reality that we Filipinos have no real access to information to empower us to properly and actively participate in governance. More…

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Introducing: Team RP

Some friends just recently established a group called Team RP. Here’s a little something about them:

Team RP is a youth-led initiative that aims to pursue truth, accountability, and reform in Philippine governance. Composed of students and young professionals from different educational institutions, fields, and sectors, the group recognizes the key roles that the youth and the current generation play in preserving and strengthening democratic processes in the Philippines, as well as in pushing for serious reforms that the Philippines needs for long-term, sustainable growth.

To those who are interested to listen to what they have to say, there will be a presscon on saturday. Here are the details:

PRESS CONFERENCE
Saturday, 23 February 2008
10:30AM
Room 200, 2/F CCS Building
Social Development Complex
Ateneo de Manila University Campus
Loyola Heights, Quezon City

I’m thinking of joining because I don’t want to be jaded anymore. Maybe I’ll be inspired again. And more importantly, maybe I will have hope again.

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Feb. 25, 2008: Non-working holiday!

Malacanang announced that Feb. 25, 2008 is a non-working holiday. AWESOME! I’m actually thinking about going to Iloilo – checked the Cebu Pacific website and the airfare is still at P3,300++! Airfares to other destinations are much higher. Hmmm…

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Hope in the Government

Last friday I attended a dinner hosted jointly by Globe and the Ateneo Alumni Association. It was part of a roadshow for Ateneo’s sesquicentennial (150 years) anniversary. It was so cool to be with my fellow Ateneans in Globe. Before the program started, they showed a video of Ateneans reminiscing about the past – about their favorite food in Ateneo, tambayan, what they did in the lib, and even about the championships during their time (not a lot, hehe). The program itself included a short talk from Globe’s CIO, a very enlightening and inspiring talk from Father Nebres, and a video presentation about the Ateneo. Father Nebres talked about Ateneo’s activities to help the nation – it was a very important talk because it gave me hope. I have lost all hope in our government, and I’ve seen many friends in the same boat. More and more Filipinos are migrating, and I really cannot blame them and wonder why they can’t just help the Philippines get back on track.

Father Nebres mentioned that we have a weak national government, to which everyone reacted to with a smirk. That was something everyone knew already. But what he said next surprised everyone. He said that the local government units have been very effective. Ateneo has been working with the local governments on many health and education projects. And there has been a lot of progress! To me, that’s really great news. It gives me even just a glimmer of hope, which I so badly need. I will look for ways to help out with the Ateneo projects, even if it’s just financial in nature. That way, I can help rebuild this nation in my own little way.

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Philippines Photobook in Lonely Planet’s Flickr Account

The moderators of one of the Lonely Planet Publications Flickr accounts asked for suggestions on Photobook topics. They already have several Photobook threads – on Egypt, London, Norway, etc. Of course I suggested the Philippines! I wrote that it’s sad that people think this is a dreadful country when there are in fact many many beautiful places here! The moderator loved the idea of helping destroy the stereotype and he started a thread on the Philippines!

If you’re a Flickr member, post your best photos of the Philippines here:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/lonelyplaneteurope/discuss/72157601895429747/

Game!!!

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It’s not yet over.

I’m glad that the elections are over, because that means the body count will not increase anymore. Or is that wishful thinking?

The elections are over, yes. But today is just the start for the Philippines. We will have to live with the choices of majority of the Filipinos. This year I really didn’t have a bet whom I believed in, so I didn’t care that I wasn’t able to register. I was so upset during the last elections because my name wasn’t on the list. I went to the Comelec headquarters of Binan to complain to a not-so-helpful Comelec guy, and I called all the stations to complain about what happened. Now, it doesn’t really matter. Please don’t lecture me – some will say that 1 vote is the start of a million votes. If 1 million people will think the same way and not vote, that’s 1 million votes down the drain. True, but what if I really don’t believe in any of the candidates anymore? Not a single one. For me, there is no distinction anymore between the administration and the opposition – they are all the same, backing up laws that will be beneficial to them, going against laws that the other side proposed never mind the benefits to the people. And who cares about the laws – they’re not being implemented anyway! Yes we vote for some government officials, but some important positions are by appointment. Anyway, I don’t want to rant. I’ll just end this train of thought with this: Not voting because you don’t care is different from not voting because of the conviction that there’s no one worth voting for.

Let’s not even talk about cheating. Does it matter? Some of the questionable winners will probably be legit winners. Hey, Erap won and I believe he didn’t cheat. Would you say democracy prevailed when he won? Hard to believe that, huh?

I’ve told my closest friends about what I think should happen to our government. A bit too radical for some out there, but it is my conviction. Unless there is a major overhaul in the government, nothing’s going to happen to the Philippines.

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What is happening to our country?

What is happening to our country?

I’ve been so annoyed at what’s going on in the political scene that I actually refuse to watch the news. It’s all about politicking! I really wish that we can find someone who truly cares for the country, someone who can lead us out of this shit.

I felt so sad reading an email thread of our barkada. And to think, we *used to be* idealists. We used to talk about how we still wanted to stay in the Philippines in spite of what was happening. Well, that was before. It has changed now. Most of them are actually researching about moving to another country. It has crossed my mind several times also, but not seriously, but, I really can’t leave my family. I only have my mom and dad and if Jovan and I leave, who will take care of them? It’s not an option at all, unless they want to join us wherever we’re going. :)

I’ve thought about my stand – and honestly, I don’t think GMA can ever salvage whatever’s left of her presidency. However easy it is to tell her to step down, everyone also has to think about the implications. WHO WILL TAKE OVER? WILL WE BE BETTER OFF WITH THIS PERSON? We can’t afford to be impulsive. We CANNOT.

I honestly don’t know what to do. I guess for now my best bet is prayer. :(

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Watching these senators and congressmen debate over the silliest things just makes me so ashamed and pissed off. The past few days truly reflect sorry state of politics in this country. Can you blame people if they’re losing hope? We have to wait for another 6 years for another chance. Maybe even more than 6 years! Now that’s a loooooooooong time.

One of my friends said that this is what the Filipinos wanted, and this is what we got. He even said if they want FPJ, then give them FPJ. I think it’s so unfair to just say that because I DO NOT WANT THIS!!! Don’t you tell me that I deserve this because I don’t.

Honestly, as good as democracy is, I believe that it’s not always what a country needs. Do you honestly think that democracy is working for the Philippines now? Or for the past two decades? The majority isn’t always right – but how do we go around that? Another people power? It’s so tiring already.

The one thing I could have done – that is, vote for the people I believe in – I wasn’t able to do. Yes, I’m a statistic. I called up the TV stations to report it, because realistically that’s the only thing I can do. But of course nothing happened.

Honestly, after the comedy and horror of May 11, do you still believe in this process of ours? With all of Comelec’s stupidity? With all the cheating? Sometimes your vote won’t even count because of dagdag-bawas, because of cheating. It seems that it’s useless to go through this whole election process!

And don’t you tell me to stop whining and do something about it. I work, I pay taxes, and in my own little way I do things that I feel can help society in general.

Damn I’m just so mad. Our country is in a sad, sad state. And what’s worse, it’s gonna be like this for the next N years! Excuse me for this, but… FUCK!!!