On Donald Trump’s comments regarding General Pershing

With US President Donald Trump still reeling from the effects of his comments on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and amid the most recent terror incident, this time in Barcelona, he once again entered himself to controversy when he tweeted on a long-debunked urban legend that dates back to the early years of American rule in the Philippines.

He talked about this particular story while he was campaigning, it was where General Pershing was said to have bullets dipped on pig’s blood, ostensibly to “fight” against “radical Islamic terrorism”.

It was immediately fact-checked by mainstream media, saying it never happened. But there must be another fact check, this time by us Filipinos.

At a time where our country is still reeling from the effects of the Marawi crisis which broke out on May 23, amid our long-standing efforts at rectifying the historic wrongs committed against the Moro people, this should be an outrage, as it is insensitive.

This is not about what Donald Trump says is about “radical Islamic terrorism”. This is about the Moro people’s efforts to resist American rule, at a time when the Americans came when Christian Filipinos have already declared independence from Spain and are already at the first steps of nation-building. When the Americans have mostly pacified the rest of the archipelago by 1901, the Moro people have continued their resistance until 1913.

We are at a time where we are correcting this historic injustice by arriving at constitutional reform, shifting from a unitary to a federal form of government. At a time we are trying to build a lasting peace, we are also encouraging economic development in Mindanao after decades-long conflict, to discourage people from resorting to extremist ideology espoused by groups such as ISIS.

Donald Trump should have been circumspect before speaking, as he would risk alienating an ally, as he has offered support for the Philippines to combat the Maute group in Marawi.

The Philippines has already been at odds with the United States since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 2016, over the controversial war on drugs which Trump has praised. In his 2017 State of the Nation Address, Duterte asked for the return of the Balangiga bells stolen since the 1899 Philippine-American War. This would further complicate efforts to resolve long-standing issues haunting US-Philippines relations.

In light of these historical backgrounds on what has transpired, Donald Trump has once again opened himself to controversy with these remarks. At a time when both the Philippines and the United States having populist leaders known for controversial statements, this may risk a diplomatic incident, or a war on words.

Sidenotes: With the terror attacks in Spain and the events in Charlottesville, may we stand united together against hate.

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A New Aksyon

Yesterday, TV5’s flagship newscast Aksyon unveiled an updated graphics package and a new theme music, which is an updated version of the one used since its inception in 2010. 

What is noticeable is that PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar is still being used as voiceover when he is in fact already a public official.

Moving along, this change should be a first step in repositioning itself as a worthy alternative to the established newscasts of GMA and ABS-CBN as it first appeared to be seven years ago, until it began losing momentum due to numerous missteps (which is a very long list, an over-exposed news chief is among those). That void is now being filled by CNN Philippines. Add to that is Radyo5 92.3 News FM’s programming issues. 

Despite the MVP Group’s resources, News5 has a long way to go, even if it manages to utilize social media through News5 Everywhere. We can only hope this small change help News5 in regaining the public’s trust. 

PTV 4 begins its new morning lineup

Beginning this week, PTV 4 will have a new morning program lineup.

  • 6:00 am Ulat Bayan Sunday edition replay (Monday)/PTV News Headlines replay (Tuesday-Friday)
  • 7:00 am Bagong Pilipinas
  • 8:00 am Bitag Live
  • 9:00 am Daily Info
  • 9:30 am DOSTv
  • 10:00 am TV Shop

It is noticable that Bagong Pilipinas, the successor to both Good Morning Boss of the PNoy administration and Good Morning Pilipinas of the early months of the Duterte administration. It has also extended its airtime to one hour, reminiscent of its predecessors.

Bitag Live, hosted by Ben Tulfo, is due to start tomorrow, an a replay of ASEAN Spotlight took over its timeslot today. This will be Ben Tulfo’s second blocktime program on PTV after Kilos Pronto which airs at 5pm. Bitag Live first aired on UNTV 37 and moved to Radyo5 92.3 News FM and remained until the public spat between him, his brother Erwin and former colleague Ed Lingao. It may cause concern to some that PTV’s impartiality may be compromised as it is becoming home to most of the Duterte administration’s staunchest defenders.

Daily Info has also moved to a timeslot reminiscent to that of Teledyaryo sa Umaga and GMA News TV’s News To Go’s former timeslot, and would be a perfect fit for the timeslot as it presents itself as a fast-paced newscast. It will be followed by DOSTv.

Lastly, it is noticeable that TV Shop has reduced its running time. This should be a start as PTV needs to beef up its programming to fulfill its mandate in bridging the government to the people through quality content. 

US drone strikes in the Philippines? How about no?

Source of this entry: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-may-begin-airstrikes-against-isis-philippines-n790271

The Marawi crisis is far from over, with our soldiers engaging in fierce room-to-room combat aided by airstrikes using the new FA-50s bought from South Korea, with occasional assistance by foreign countries. Our traditional allies (United States, Australia, Japan) as well as non-traditional allies (China and Russia) are providing us military and non-military assistance, to combat the threat of extremism and for reconstruction and rehabilitation.

However, there is one thing that could potentially be worrisome, that is the US planning to use the Philippines a staging ground for drone strikes, which they have been doing to Yemen and Pakistan, ostensibly to eliminate the threat from extremist groups such as ISIS and affiliated groups.

The Pentagon is proposing such plan, subject to approval. Yet we have the consider the potential backlash and backfiring of said plan, as US intervention in Iraq, Libya, and Syria among others have only worsened the situation. The traditional left (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) has already spoken out against this proposal, and so I do.

This proposal could violate constitutional provisions prohibiting the maintenance of foreign military bases on Philippine soil and the inevitability of ethical implications, such as civilian casualties, not to mention the potential interference in the domestic affairs of another sovereign state, and further fanning the flames of extremism, prompting terror groups to stage more attacks.

Combating this kind of terrorism entails efforts of all nations in the world, but with the present-day realities there has to be a more systematic approach, where cooperation is necessary but still allows individual nations take different approaches in solving this common problem. Intelligence sharing, combat training, and weapons assistance will be enough. But at the same time implementing long-term policies such as education and integration, as well as mutual respect which will help in making sure future generations will not be tempted in resorting to extremism, as well as policies aimed at eradicating prejudices and fosters understanding, hence the dream of being able to live side-by-side in peace and harmony becomes a reality.

How about a “Buwan ng mga Wika”?

Once again we will celebrate the “Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa” which commemorates the decision of the now-Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino to adopt Tagalog as basis for our national language, which will again reignite debates on whether we should keep it as it is or not.

The author of this blog is firm in its position in making fundamental reforms or changes in our official language policy, complementing the shift from a unitary form of government dominated by Manila-based, Tagalog-speaking elites to that of a federal government which reflects the reality that we are a multi-ethnic, multilingual nations and such reform will recognize that diversity.

Filipino has long been seen as merely a variant of the Tagalog language spoken in Metro Manila and its peripheral provinces, or even Tagalog itself just being repackaged as a national language. And because of its prevalent usage in mass media and government, this is being seen as reason why usage of other regional languages are in decline, complicated by the prevailing discrimination among non-Tagalogs, in other words, Imperial Manila. We’re also used in the wrong notion that the non-Tagalog languages (Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Maranao, Tausug, Ilokano, Bikol, etc. etc. ) are mere dialects of the Filipino language. Is it really that so? How are we going to change this?

One of the ways to rectify this is to change the way we celebrate the month. It is time to celebrate the diversity of languages and start calling it Buwan ng mga Wika, or Month of Philippine Languages, as there are 176 languages existing in this country and they are among what makes us Filipino. This only a small way in helping to correct the decades-long injustice created by our existing language policies.

What do we propose other than changing the character of the celebration every August?

  • Establish a Philippine Language Institute, which will act as the common regulator of all the languages in this country which will help in their protection and preservation for future generations, and will also act as a learning institution to help Filipinos in further studies in learning other languages
  • Encourage the use of 3 or more languages, which can be achieved through constitutional provisions and an educational curriculum which will promote multilingualism
  • Promote a multilingual mass media, with newspapers in national circulation and radio and television stations broadcasting in the various languages in the country
  • A provision in the Constitution which establishes all our languages as co-official alongside English and Spanish

And as a bonus, reform Filipino as a language combining all the existing languages in the country, fulfilling what it was supposed to do, which is bridging the islands with a common language with vocabulary from all languages in the Philippines, and not just a mere extension of Tagalog.

With this month, we hope we can help in fulfilling meaningful change in our language policy, rectify long-held misconceptions, and embrace our diversity. Malipayong buwan sa mga Nasudnong Lengua! (A happy Month of National Languages!)

Do you think the Philippines deserves a Last Week Tonight-esque program? (And an assessment of news satire on Pinoy TV)


(Photo credits: a screengrab of an episode of Last Week Tonight. Copyright 2014 HBO, no copyright infringement intended)

Do you think this country deserves a television program which follows in the footsteps of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver?
To those unfamiliar, Last Week Tonight is a news satire program which delves into different subjects (Climate Change, Net Neutrality, President Donald Trump, Brexit, among others) in a humorous fashion. There are clips of the show available on YouTube. We might as well provide one here: 

https://youtu.be/FVFdsl29s_Q
Now back to the question, with the messy state of Filipino politics and its divisiveness (especially now), and the need to explain its complexities in a way the ordinary Juan dela Cruz will understand, is it really timely that we produce one? 

We’re no stranger to news satire but there are times programs like these didn’t last, either because of a lack of audience response or diminishing audience interest after an initial huge following, or because of political sensibilities which results in such shows being axed.

Examples are:

  • IBC 13’s Sic O Clock News with Jaime Fabregas and Ces Quesada (which also featured the late Rene Requiestas)
  • Studio 23’s Wazzup Wazzup with Toni Gonzaga and Vhong Navarro
  • GMA News TV’s May Tamang Balita with Ramon Bautista
  • TV5’s Word of the Lourd, The Weekend News with Ramon Bautista, and Kontrabando

This program might be a good pitch for the established networks but will it work in the long term? May this show be perceived as a mere copycat of the original HBO program? Or will it exacerbate the already divisive political atmosphere, especially when it touches on issues like President Duterte’s rape jokes, the Marcoses’ political comeback (mga dilawan!) or the so-called Leni-leaks and other issues surrounding the Liberal Party (Dutertrolls). (Sidenote: I would want to see this show poke fun regularly at Trillanes and his Magdalo as he is a bigger joke than Pacquiao). And in the US, shows like these tend to skew towards the political left (which is also my political leanings though I don’t associate myself with the traditional Filipino left, that is the CPP-NPA-NDF, MAKABAYAN bloc, or its affiliated groups).

No one knows exactly, it’s hard to predict what the audience might think or look for, but let’s see if it will be a similar success. 

Reforms on the public transport system

With the jeepney strikes protesting against the impending phaseout in favor of jeepney modernization last Monday which almost paralyzed public transport in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces (and to lesser extent other cities in the country) and the LTFRB’s controversial decisions against Uber and Grab (which is increasingly becoming the preferred mode of transport among certain segments of the riding public), one thing is for certain, a comprehensive reform of the public transport system. 

How do we propose such a reform?

  • Continue with the jeepney modernization, which is necessary as our distinctive mode of transport which is a sign of Filipino ingenuity must keep up with modern times. (which will also help local manufacturers)
  • The government could employ the jeepney drivers which will make them entitled to benefits like housing, health insurance, and regular pay, as opposed to a per boundary basis. 
  • The government could professionalize drivers through seminars on a regular basis (seminars on traffic laws, among others), so as to mitigate concerns on drivers beating regulations such as no-loading zones, speeding, etc.
  • Develop and expand the railway system (LRT, PNR, MRT) across the country, not just in Metro Manila but also in other urban centers like Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Baguio, among others so as to reduce road congestion, as well as improved connecivity

These are the only tangible solutions available to the government if we truly want to reform our public transport system in the country. As citizens we can offer solutions but it’s still up to them to decide whether or not to carry out those mentioned above, but in our opinion it’s the way to go.

It will take a long time, until then, tiis-tiis muna.