Not again… (UPDATED)

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.

As you’ve learned in my earlier post, my father almost fell as a scam victim. I reckon he came close to being one again this time.
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Scams of the earth!

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.
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Philippines: The most dangerous place for journos

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.
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Election here and at home

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.
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Doubtfuls

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.

Australia

  • 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.

Philippines

  • 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. :)

Blogbastic

The business of War: RPs Abu Sayyaf

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.

Law and disorder

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.

Blogbastic

The war begins and so does the blogging challenge

As the Pangandamans and the Dela Paz’s trade suit, Hamas and Israel trade rockets with increasing number of civilian casualties. This is the analogy that first came to my mind after being a part of Philippine blogging history. It is an off-tangent analogy but I was wondering what’s next after blogging passionately and in support of a fellow blogger? There are bigger issues in society such as the Gaza conflict, the financial crisis, corruption and the Philippine Cha-Cha.

This is not a post that concedes that the blogging exercise in support of the Dela Paz’s was futile–we rattled Malacañan and highlighted the power of blogging. I am proud to be part of the bloggers that rallied behind victims of injustice. The Golfgate event of Antipolo showed the unique society that the blogosphere has created wherein there is hardly a delineation between the coño and the masa.

When a member of the blogosphere receives injustice, there is no distinction on his/her social status, his/her background and sometimes some of us are guilty of jumping into the issue without looking at the other side of the story. We’ve read about how to blog responsibly and I believe most of us did blogged responsibly in this case and we were vindicated as evidence surfaced of what really happened that fateful day (but of course, I’m not pre-empting the courts but in the public eye, it was inevitable for the Pangandaman to look like a red-faced liar).

As I was writing this post, I read Carlos Conde’s take on the event. He was spot on in highlighting the power of blogging. As he wrote as follows:

Today, blogging, apart from being both a narcissistic and cathartic exercise of self-expression among millions, is a potent information tool. News organizations use it to complement their journalism (take note: complement, not supplant). Activists use it to promote their cause. Victims use it to right a wrong.

We were able to highlight an injustice in this case, however, blogger and journalist Carlos expounded and challenged not only blogger Bambee but all Pinoy bloggers that there are other issues that warrant the same outrage that was exhibited. As he explained:

I have not seen the same level of outrage in the blogosphere over the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, of the atrocity done to Remegio Saladero Jr. and the hundreds of human-rights victims in the Philippines as we have witnessed in the Pangandaman incident.

While others might be fed-up with the issue and with due respect to the Dela Paz’s (OK and the Pangandamans), this is a lesson learned for bloggers that with the acknowledged power of this medium we are responsible to direct it to drum-up interest to other social issues such as the killing of children in Gaza, the continued greed at Wall Street, the blind eye of the presidency (it’s up to you to choose whose president I’m referring to) on corruption among other things.

As a comic cliche goes… with great power comes great responsibility. So, use it wisely.

Blogbastic

A year Down Under and away from the Pearl of the East

A full year Down Under and two years away from my native soil. I do miss the Philippines and this blog helped me connect with anything that’s from the Philippines and thereby relieve homesickness (I do have my family here but you miss some things that is uniquely Philippines!–balot, kwek-kwek, mami, lomi, Jollibee, atbp.).

After 200 posts, 570 approved comments, 43 categories and 387 tags, 2008 has been a wonderful year for me as a blogger. I’m ambivalent whenever I write about issues. Here in Australia a great actor, Heath Ledger, died early last year and later last year a budding Filipino actor died in his sleep (reminds you of Rico Yan). Early in 2008, Australian politics was rocked by what the media branded as “Iguanagate” and just last month before the year ended, in the Philippines, “Golfgate” or Golf’s Black Friday took place highlighting the very bad side of politics (aside from what we already know).

Australia experienced a spate of ATM firebomb attacks while bank robberies in the Philippines became more frequent and bolder as the Philippine economy grew only in paper with the effect not readily felt at the grassroots. Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, delivered most of his election promises within his 100 days in office while it’s been more than hundreds of days since Gloria said that she’ll step down (and there are fresh moves to, apparently, extend her stay in office).

The biggest news last year probably is the global credit crisis. It saw the mighty dollar fall and institutional banks crumble. The CEOs of Wall Street has given a new meaning in begging, i.e., by coming to the US House of Representative in Jets, they later tried to change their tactics and came by hybrid cars but some of them still made a mistake by driving a hybrid car that was meant to be phased out.

Australia is looking forward to a better year in the year of the ox while the Philippines is claiming that this will be their year.

I said I was ambivalent because I was passionate to write about things that I stumble online or hear from my social network (online or in person) but sometimes it has been a burden to write about some things that you hate hearing like the case of the Golf course beatings in the Philippines. Despite these, blogging will still be a therapy and “practice” for me. It has been a great medium that united Filipinos worldwide and even connected people of different ideologies.

As everybody hope for the best for the new year, I also pray that my regular readers and “transit” readers have a better 2009 regardless where we are and whatever our status in society.

God bless us all!

Blogbastic

Politicians, kings of the world???

Early this year, Australian politics was rocked by an incident caused by one of the administration’s backbencher politicians. The media branded the incident as Iguanagate (referring to the Watergate scandal that forced then US President Richard Nixon to resign). As President Nixon’s action was “swift” (well, he was cornered then and avoided an inevitable impeachment), so did Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who quickly rebuked one of his backbenchers and ordered that she undergo anger management classes.

In the Philippines, seldom will you hear the President, at least, reprimanding anybody for any wrongdoing, or am I just remiss that the President is indeed very caring that she will disregard political connection and uphold moral and ethical standards? Well, recently one of her men was involved in a scandal. It was criminal in nature.

It is not the usual your usual corruption to the nth degree but an “ordinary” mauling incident that started from a minor spat on the golf course. Blogger Bambi Dela Paz blogged how her father and brother were mauled by a cabinet member’s son and his bodyguards. Bambi wrote as follows:

At around 1:30 PM today, at Valley Golf and Country Club, Antipolo City, Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr., Mayor of Masiu City, Lanao del Sur, his father, Secretary Nasser Pangandaman of the Department of Agrarian Reform, and company, beat my defenseless 56-year-old dad and my 14-year-old brother to a pulp because of some stupid misunderstanding on the golf course.

This is a golf course. I have been a golfer all my life, and I have never seen anything like this. NOTHING. This is hard to comprehend. And it happened to my own father and my own brother too. Right in front of my eyes.

The blogosphere picked-up the news and so did the media.The Dela Paz’s filed a lawsuit against Pagnandaman, Jr and his bodyguards and the latter filed a counter lawsuit. A GMANews.TV report quoted Bombo Radyo as reporting as follows:

Bombo Radyo reported that Pangandaman Jr filed physical injuries and grave threats against De la Paz. The DAR chief’s son claimed he was hit with an umbrella by De la Paz during a commotion.

Is it possible that the commotion that they are referring to here is the time they are beating the Dela Paz’s???

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr.

Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman Sr. (Source: USM)

Journalists and bloggers Tonyo Cruz and Carlos Conde expressed disgust at the incident and has called on the cabinet secretary to apologize or better yet resign. Tonyo pointed out that:

If he does not resign, well, it is up to President Arroyo what to do with Pangandaman. She chose him to be her alter-ego as DAR secretary and she could get rid of him. If she let’s him stay in office, what kind of signal does this new incident tell about the company the President keeps? She’s friends with fraudsters (Garci) and killers (Palparan) — she will also be known as a protector of thugs who go by the name of Pangandaman.

Carlos Conde, on the other hand, explained that a resignation is inevitable given the critical roles that the elder Pangandaman holds. As Carlos explained:

If the charges are true (the dela Pazes have complained to the police) and that indeed the elder Pangandaman just watched while his son displayed how arrogant and power-drunk he was (he allegedly told the elder dela Paz, “Don’t you know who I am?”), he should resign not just from the Department of Agrarian Reform but most especially from the government peace panel that is negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. There’s just no way he can function properly in that role, considering what we know now.

The indignations over the incident on the blogosphere is so immense that if Pangandamans cared to surf the Internet (if they know how to use one), they are looking at a Tsunami of expressions of disgust and calls for both of them to resign. Now, I hope that it will be enough for Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to impose some punishment to the father and son bullies or will it be a case of mother bully protecting her minions? Pessimist as I might be, I’m certain that this will just pass as a minor incident not worthy of the President’s attention, she has her own troubles to fend off anyway.

God have mercy on the Philippines.

Blogbastic

UPDATE: The Elder Pangandaman apologized for the golf brawl incident, however, he maintained that it was the Dela Paz’s that started the trouble (regardless Sir, is it justified to terrorize teenagers?). Malacañan has ordered the DOJ to investigate the incident. The Dela Paz’s acknowledged all the support that poured for their family especially from bloggers. They have corrected the charge sheet and four people will face legal action for physical injuries and child abuse. One of the accused claimed the Dela Paz’s “called his family, including “the oldest son [who was] carrying a baseball bat [and] the wife in a duster with a bladed weapon in hand.”

UPDATE2: Fellow Blogger Chuckie Dreyfus informed us that he sent a message to Philippine Sen. Francisco Pangilinan about the incident and Chuckie sent us a snippet of the Senator’s reply as follows:

“I will see what I can do to help. For starters we will be issuing a statement on the matter, calling on a no nonsense investigation and for the guilty to be punished regardless.

Thank you for your message. It takes more people like you making a stand and calling for action that will in the end help shape our nation.

When the people in their vast numbers stand up and say enough thats when genuine change happens.”

Sen. Pangilinan later issued a press statement condemning the incident and calling on Sec. Pangandaman to stop defending his son.