I’m quite busy these past few months as I try to finish my thesis writing, however, a recent event urged me to blog about this to warn others.
I used to work for an international organisation ages ago. In this big organisation, email is one of the most important means of communication in the organisation and the most reliable. The size of organisation that I used to work for meant that its information technology security is one of the best in the world. However, one day a human resource staff forwarded an email. It contained, as usual, recruitment requests from other sister organisations.
Australian journalists have a lot to be thankful for. They live in a relatively safe and free environment. The violence that they will, at most, get will probably be a bashing from their news subject. And yet the government will protect them even if they run after government personalities, not for witch-hunting, but to deliver information on the politician’s performance to the public.
Last Saturday, the electoral district of Willagee had a by-election after its MP, who was the former State Premier, resigned. The campaign and voting went well despite seemingly unnoticed. The campaign mainly consisted of print ads in community papers and distribution of leaflets in letter boxes of residents. If there was some exchanges between the candidates in media outlets, the topics will mainly be on policy concerns and what they can offer. Voting is also compulsory here in Australia, anyone who fails to vote risk paying a fine. I think the fine is to cover the cost of the materials and preparations allocated for each voter. Voting started from 8:00am to 6:00pm by 7:00pm votes have been counted halfway and before 9:00pm the winner was already known.
There seems to be a contagious feeling of doubt both here in Australia in the Philippines. While the cases here in Australia might be ‘bigger’ compared to the issues in the Philippines, cases in both countries elicited doubts from many parties.
- Another boat load of refugees tried to enter the country only to meet an accident as their boat was being towed towards a detention facility. The boat exploded killing three people on board. A total of five people are now dead as a result of that accident. The rest of about 49 people on board were either treated for minor injuries or still in intensive care. There were doubts on the government’s sincerity in giving information on what really happened during the accident. At the same time, there were doubts among refugee groups in Australia that the latest incident might have negative repercussions to asylum applications. Reports said that some refugee groups accused the latest asylum seekers as ‘jumping the queue’ to get into Australia. The government is still consulting with its legal team on where the asylum seekers will be confined after they recover from their injuries, i.e., whether they will be an off-shore or on-shore refugees.
- After declaring that Australia is better off, doubters finally realised that it is just a matter of when for Australia. And that time has come. Australia is in recession.
- As the drama unfolds, doubts surfaced on the how one of the country’s top broadcast journalist’s wife died. Lawmakers finally realised (what was long public knowledge) that the police force needed to be professionalized, if not more training is needed.
- There are doubts that the automation of election in the country will result in cheat-free elections. There are acknowledgments that it might not be fool proof but election officials seem to be taking it one step at a time or are they just leaving it just like that so there will still be a window of opportunity to change the course of history?
These are just a few of the issues in the past few weeks in both countries. A lot has been happening that I’ve lost track of most of the important ones. On a personal level, it’s been a trying time for me as I try to write formalize a chapter in my thesis. Wish me luck. :)
Terrorist group Abu Sayyaf threatened to behead one hostage if their demands are not met. The terrorist group’s demand was the withdrawal of the Philippine military from some areas in Jolo where they are holding three Red Cross workers (Two foreigners and one Filipina) unless stakeholders paid ransom money.
The military complied, however, it did not satisfy the terror group as the latter claimed that it was not in the specific areas that they requested.
The vicious cycle of events in the deep south of Mindanao continues and everybody wonders why Abu Sayyaf is so resilient. Some people might blame poverty that this group, hiding in the guise of fighting for ideology and faith, has resorted to banditry.
However, it is not only the Abu Sayyaf that might be the root of the problem the military has its own share of the problem since it has not acted proactively in solving the high profile bandits, i.e., the Abu Sayyaf.
Whether the military will claim lack of logistics, training among others could be anybody’s guess. And I guess this is the reason they have insisted on keeping the assistance from the US.
A Mindanaoan colleague told me, the problems in Mindanao all boils down to money thus the persistent graft, corruption, lawlessness and human rights violation.
But with the need for money comes ignorance (stupidity, foolishness, etc. call it whatever you like) that these bandits are targeting innocent people (remember the priests that they kidnapped and the children before this current crisis?). They are so mentally disturbed that they would even hurt people who would be willing to go their way in trying to help, even the Abu Sayyaf.
A local court found three men not guilty of bashing a police officer who was left semi-paralyzed after the incident.
The charges stemmed from an incident last year in Joondalup, north of Perth, when the three men were involved in a fight with another group. Constable Matthew Buthcher was part of the police group responding to that disturbance. He was head butted from behind by one of the men. A report from Perthnow.com said that “defence lawyers argued [that the three men] acted in self defence when confronted by police, who they said acted with excessive force as they attempted to arrest them.”
A camera video phone shown on national TV showed police having a hard time controlling the men while the three accused men continued to assault officers. Constable Butcher tasered one of the men. It was then that one of them threw a flying head but that left the constable dropping on the ground head first. He fell into a coma after that. The tasered man later suffered a heart attack.
Family members of Constable Butcher later alleged that one of the accused men told the paralyzed police officer right after the trial that “we should have killed you.”
The verdict has been received with mixed reactions. The police commissioner reminded the police force to remain in focus. Some criticized the prosecution for not getting it right while others cautioned the public form being emotional. One of the commentators explained that the jury only acted on the evidence that was presented and it was not a show of lack of support to the police.
In the Philippines, there were a number of incidences that police recently figured prominently including the infamous Parañaque shootout. I may not have the facts now but I could only note the big difference between Australia and the Philippines. I might be wrong in my assumptions but one could only wonder.
In the Philippines, police are definitely feared (sometimes respected) by criminals but sadly even peace loving citizens especially journalists. In Australia, law breakers seem to have an upper hand. Here, police fires a gun and an internal investigation is already underway, the police involved will be stood down or their firearms confiscated. Jails are far more comfortable here (which might explain some people love going to jail?!). Some of the laws have a lot of loopholes, which makes me wonder sometimes whether their lawmakers would want an exposure trip overseas to “survey” better criminal laws.
I saw one police reality show on TV, which showed a police interrogation. The police officers were addressing the suspect “sir” and despite the suspect spitting on the camera, the police officers showed professionalism and maintained their composure. I was surprised as this is something you’ll never see in the Philippines (that suspect would have seen a hand landing between his eyes).
Going back to the topic of this post, there are fears that police will have second thoughts in responding to violent incidences as they are certain that there will be no law to protect them (to think that they are the law enforcers). There are many ironies here in Australia. Whether this incidence showed the lack of teeth of its laws or legals system will just be one of my many assumptions and I might have to say that I am one with Constable Butcher trying to comprehend what happened. Yes some people could just walk to the police officer and break him emotionally and sometimes physically. Sadly, there is always that big possibility they could walk away from any wrongdoing scott-free.