It is as if we’re in 2009 again, when false prophets were pitching the idea of an immaculate, God-given, and incorruptible savior who could lead the country to the Promised Land.

These false prophets demoted the Proclaimed Candidate to Second Fiddle, spread necropolitics, and proceeded to destroy the savior’s foe and his reputation through a publicity war. They hurled an avalanche of very serious charges, and enlisted the support of mass media whose editors were only too eager to publish them.

When the savior emerged as winner, the nation was made to feel that an army of one billion angels was descending on the country to clean up government and society, and to usher in untold prosperity.

Here are my prepared remarks and presentation for the meeting of the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology, held on May 20, 2015:

Honorable chair and members, good afternoon. Thank you for the invitation to attend and speak at this meeting.

All the measures now being heard in this meeting deserve hearing, study, and approval by the committee, by the House and by the whole Congress:

  • House Resolution 186 of Congressman Arnel Ty;
  • House Resolution 630 of Congressman Terry Ridon;
  • House Resolution 1012 of Congressmen Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate;
  • House Bill 2794 of Congressman Anthony Bravo and Cresente Paez; and
  • House Bill 5331 of Congressman Winnie Castelo.

Individually and collectively, these measures tell the sad or anger-inducing or patience-snapping stories of many students, parents, workers, farmers, professionals, entrepreneurs, businessmen, or congressmen. If there’s one thing aside from terrible traffic that we all suffer from together, it is the dismal state of internet and telephony services in the country. No one is spared from these horrors that should be preventable and easy to solve. 

Most of us have slippers, some even have more than one pair. They are mainstays in our homes. We wear them all year round, and we bring them when going out on vacation, here or abroad. Going to the beach or the provinces this summer is incomplete without our favorite slippers or flip-flops.

But we never imagined that making some of those slippers could be this deadly to workers.

72 people who worked for outrageously-low wages for slipper-maker Kentex Manufacturing Inc. died this week in a fire that gutted down the company factory in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City.

The execution was stopped and Mary Jane Veloso is alive today. This is the happy outcome after countless people in the Philippines, in Indonesia, and across the world never gave up and fought up to the last hour. These efforts paid off, with President Joko Widodo making the decision at the 11th hour to spare the life of Mary Jane.

Ordinary people, relatives of OFWs, former OFWs, public interest lawyers, migrant advocates, activists, professionals, students, and Filipinos and friends across the world all contributed to make this movement and campaign a success: It convinced the Indonesian president to do the right thing and helped make sure the Philippine government would act to defend the life of a Filipino citizen. 

Then-presidential candidate wowed supporters in 2010 with his platform titled "A Social Contract with the Filipino People". Photo from Google Images.
Then-presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino wowed supporters in 2010 with his platform titled “A Social Contract with the Filipino People”. Photo from Google Images.

Prologue: President BS Aquino’s 2010 platform of government, titled “A Social Contract with the Filipino People”, badly needs updating to keep up with the times and with reality.


Our national leadership needs “transformational change.”

  • Its ability to govern is under question.
  • It punishes the wrongdoing only of its perceived foes.
  • It invents new forms of corruption like DAP and defends it despite Supreme Court rulings declaring them unconstitutional.
  • It weakens the democratic institutions by refusing to be held accountable.
  • It clings to power by confusing the people with half-truths, outright lies, and empty boasts.
  • It demonizes those who expose the truth about its incompetence and corruption.
  • It hinders our local governments from delivering basic services, as in Tacloban and other areas led by perceived foes.
  • It offers no lasting solutions for the many problems of the country.
  • It has no vision of governance beyond political survival.
President BS Aquino at an APEC event. Photo by Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau.
President BS Aquino at an APEC event. Photo by Ryan Lim/Malacanang Photo Bureau.

If we want to know where the Internet trolls get pointers on how to make the most unintelligent, most rotten and black as pozo negro commentary, look no further than the nation’s leaders and their apologists and how they “explain” themselves to citizens.

Here’s one outstanding example: “Binola nya ako”, the latest attempt of President BS Aquino to explain the bloody mess that was the Mamasapano incident.

President BS Aquino. Photo from Manila Bulletin.
President BS Aquino. Photo from Manila Bulletin.

Come to think of it, the single, most compelling argument in favor of President BS Aquino’s resignation is this: We will get rid of the biggest stumbling block and most gigantic hindrance to attaining justice and accountability. And as a big bonus, we could embark on a period of vital reforms we need as a nation but deprived by this administration.

The Yellow Army remnants and the most opportunist traditional politicians lusting for 2016 won’t admit it, but if BS Aquino remains in office, there is no realistic prospect that he would tell the truth or be made accountable for the US-directed Mamasapano operation.

President BS Aquino addresses mourning relatives of Special Action Force commandos. Photo from Manila Bulletin.
President BS Aquino addresses mourning relatives of Special Action Force commandos. Photo from Manila Bulletin.

Here is the unity statement signed by individuals and organizations inviting everyone to an interfaith prayer and symbolic human chain on Feb. 25, 3-6 pm, starting from Camp Crame EDSA Gate up to the EDSA Shrine. Feb. 25 is exactly one month after the Mamasapano incident and the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising.

We demand truth and accountability in the Mamasapano incident

imageForty-four members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), 18 Moro rebels and six civilians are dead. The Mindanao peace process is teetering on the brink with a possible escalation of the armed conflict. Our nation mourns while outrage spreads, as the highest government officials try to cover up events leading to the carnage.

President BS Aquino. Photo by KJ Rosales/Manila Bulletin.
President BS Aquino. Photo by KJ Rosales/Manila Bulletin.

Quite interestingly, diehard supporters of President BS Aquino ushered in the commemoration of the 29th anniversary of 1986 People Power uprising by rehashing the discredited “Marcos pa rin!” battlecry into an Internet trending topic #NoynoyPaRin.

For a whole day, they convinced themselves that there’s no one else fit to lead the country at this time, except their idol. We don’t know what they smoked before and as they did it. But if they were aiming to change the topic of public conversations away from President BS Aquino’s command responsibility over the Mamasapano incident, let us tell them: Nice try.

Presidents: BS Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Presidents: BS Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

“The President should resign,” declared a manifesto signed by a growing number of citizens from across the country.

Damage control is in overdrive: But even after addressing the nation on national television, the President still failed to regain the trust of citizens outraged by the incident in Mindanao, among many outstanding issues propelling the protests.

Official logo of Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the Philippines
Official logo of Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the Philippines

If you’re abroad or cannot go personally to any of the Papal events where Pope Francis is set to go as part of his state and pastoral visit, one option is to catch the “Pope of the Poor” via livestream.

The pope will be in the Philippines on January 15-19, in a visit that carries the theme “Mercy and Compassion

Bookmark this page to know where to catch the free livestreams direct from the Philippines, as Pope Francis goes around Manila and in Tacloban.

9News/CNN Philippines (direct)

The BS Aquino administration is in many ways botching the single-biggest chance to tell the world that “its more fun in the Philippines.

The last time a pope visited the Philippines was exactly 20 years ago. It didn’t matter that the President was a Protestant. It didn’t matter that we still didn’t have much to show, except for the vibrant and zealous faith of the Filipino. What mattered most was that that the Leader of the Catholic Church and Head of State of Vatican City was coming, and that he was holding the World Youth Day here in the country.

Bayan Muna lawmakers Neri Javier Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate today (Jan. 6) filed a new petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop the MRT-LRT fare increases.

I’m proud to be a co-petitioner in this case, together with other commuters.

The 30-page Bayan Muna pleading is a thought-provoking read. It smashes the Aquino government’s outrageous alibis and violation of the public’s right to due process, defends the poor workers and professionals of Metro Manila, and raises the alarm over the potential conversion of P2-billion in “savings” arising from the fare hikes into a new pork barrel for the President.

As commuter groups Train Riders Network (TREN) and Riles Laan sa Sambayanan (RILES), multisectoral alliance Bayan and Bayan Muna partylist lawmakers prepare to bring the issue before the Supreme Court, let us take a look at the sectors most adversely affected by the questionable and unjustified MRT-LRT fare hikes.

The rates of MRT-LRT fare increases are so high: In the case of the MRT, the fares for North Avenue-Taft (and vice versa) are up by nearly 90 percent, from P15 to P28. For LRT1 and LRT2, which is used mainly by blue-collar workers and students, fares have been raised by 50 to 67 percent.

Conventional wisdom today would say that an assembly of bloggers is like cats and dogs put together in one tiny space. We are said to be too feisty and too self-centered to cooperate among ourselves. We value our personal freedoms so much that we cannot be trusted to work together in a common cause.

Such conventional wisdom has been disproven each day and week for the past 5 years and the living reminder of fruitful and important collaboration among bloggers is the continuing project called BlogWatch, which officially turns five today, Nov. 24.

As international NGOs and funding agencies rush to provide more and more temporary and “transitional” shelters across Samar, Leyte and the regional hub Tacloban City, the people are living a life that could be considered as “the new normal”.

Only about a week prior to the first anniversary of Yolanda’s epic devastation, President Aquino approved the rehabilitation plan for typhoon-stricken areas. That’s the first thing about everything in “the new normal” — the people have to patiently wait for the terribly slow pace of official rehabilitation efforts and would have to live longer in tents and in “transitional” shelters of various types.