Tuesday, October 14, 2008

LUZVIMINDA: Issues & Tissues

With so many issues plaguing our beloved LUZVIMINDA, it would take a major overhaul of all three branches of government to effect a positive change.

The way I see it, most of these incumbent government officials are like termites. The only possible way to control their colony and hamper their growth is to neuter the queen. But somehow, they have this ability to mutate into something else, reproduce asexually and provide buffers that protect them and their ravenous appetites. And to think we pay our taxes dutifully to finance this circus.

Just try to imagine, they keep on proposing new taxes to break our backs further and then sick their watchdogs on us to harass, silence and even worse kill when we voice out our outrage. Our national budget now stands at P1.415 Trillion. But have you heard of a single senator or congressman proposing that they slash their pork barrel to save our ailing finances? NADA! Not a one! Even the deliberations and the contents of the proposed budget were done behind closed doors. Where is the transparency in that? When was this approved? Saturday, October 11, 2008, 3:34 AM. Yes you read right, 3:34 AM. Just when everybody was still focused and busy shouting at each other on that high profile clemency. They had slipped another one by us once again. And now, that issue about the budget will die down faster while media vultures will focus their sights on another filed impeachment complaint and that issue of ancestral domain. Jeez.

In essence, our young democracy to me is somewhat like farce. It seems what we actually have, is an established and deeply rooted but unconfirmed oligarchic dynasty. Isn’t it obvious? How many of them have family members in every strata of government? Start counting from the top and you'll see what I mean.

The cast for a tragic play is complete. We have a ruler with an alleged knave for a consort now for the nth time being subjected to another unseating. We have a supposedly fallen former star sashaying in our midst with her wannabe minions. Two very expensive chambers of filibustering legislators accomplishing almost nothing except for a few insignificant band-aid solutions rather than truly representing the people. A justice system which leaves so much to be desired. A military and police force with almost no teeth to fight off the state's enemies no thanks to alleged corrupt officers who control their purses, hence, cultivating a cesspool of law enforcers that do unlawful deeds only because they too need to survive. A media culture that is bias and thrives on the glamour of sensationalism rather than objectivity. And of course, we have the people who are ravenous for even the most basic of necessities for daily survival. Add to that, the presence of outsiders peering over our shoulders acting like big brother, observing and meddling in our state of affairs. I hope our historians are keeping record of the goings on so that the coming generations will be able to learn of the fallacies we are faced with today, day in day out. That is, if the country is still whole and our race is not scattered all over the world in the coming centuries.

Sometimes, I can't help feel like a piece of meat roasting slowly in my own juices in a pit of spit, almost ready to be devoured by hungry cannibals and my bones cracked and sucked of its blood-making marrow. Nevertheless, this is my country. And I love it here. I am not ashamed even with its artificial poverty and the covert systematic rape being done by some unscrupulous members of its citizenry. I love my country the Philippines. LUZVIMINDA: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. That’s how she is known, that’s how I hope she will stay. Let us all do our part to resuscitate her and revive her starting with our own families.

May God keep her whole.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Greed and Avarice, Military Style

First posted in Amiel Aguilar Cabanlig's Victorina site as Andro: (This entry with corrections and additions.)

This is another classic example of the dangers of playing with other people’s money. Greed along with its twin, avarice.

Long before the news of Major General Carlos F. Garcia's plunder of the military funds came into focus, soldiers were already complaining, albeit silently, about failures of their military arsenal in the midst of battle along with the lack of or inferior military gear. This was proven when a report from a leading network, covering the war effort, made a broadcast on the conditions of soldiers in Mindanao as well as to cover the reported kidnapping of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi. They were ambushed on the way back and they saw misfiring mortars, locking guns and outdated communication devices and almost no air support. The soldiers like "normal” Filipinos were laughing but alert at their sorry plight. We Filipinos do have that inherent trait amidst all adversity to laugh at ourselves. But the fear and shame that were in their eyes betray that flimsy facade they are trying to project. Fear that their equipment will fail them in their hour of need, shame in knowing their high ranking officers and dependents are living luxurious lifestyles somewhere else, far from the war zones. The scam of a scum pilfering tax payers’ money and treating it like it was his personal piggy bank was more than just shameful. He was dealing double jeopardy. One, pilfering military funding and two, he was putting the lives of deployed soldiers at risk. Fourteen marine soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in that ambush, most were even beheaded.

I may not be a destitute or that fully padded, but what little I have, I worked my ass off honestly for. My former job had me exposed in handling millions of pesos, in cash, which I could make disappear in a flash and still appear accounted for, but I was never tempted to do so. Not even during the hardest of times. And I'm proud of that fact. There was even a running joke in the office when I bungled up making a check, they said: "Ayan kasi, ayaw sa intsik, gusto lagi encash." So, it is hard for me to be impressed or even jealous of sons or daughters of other military officers most especially if said sons or daughters are known bums and just living off their family's questionable assets. I may be startled a bit at first, but that's just about it. There are still lots of them here in Fort Boni acting like demigods and dropping of their father’s or even their mother's rank as if to inspire awe and intimidate anyone to submission. Some military spouses and paramours are likewise guilty of this fact. Ang sarap pagbabatukan! Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to that much publicized life-style check.

June of this year, another Major General and a Staff Sergeant faced a court marshal. Major General Jose T. Barbieto and his co-accused Staff Sergeant Roseller Echipare was charged and investigated for possible violations of Article of War 55 (Officer Making Unlawful Enlistment), Article of War 96 (Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman), and Article of War 97 (Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Military Discipline). MGen Barbieto was relieved as commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division on March 6, 2008 following an order from the Ombudsman. To simplify, they are scamming money off recruits in the thousands of pesos per person just to be enlisted or re-enlisted in the military without the need of passing all the stringent tests required for enlistment and/or re-enlistment. Great! First, we had failure of equipment now we have failure of personnel. As of this writing, the case is still on going and both of the accused are confined to quarters.

A soldier is a formidable living, breathing and thinking machine. His ingrained skills are tools he can call upon in life or death situations, while his weaponry increases his chances of surviving or successfully completing his given mission. How can he be confident knowing his equipment or lack thereof, may fail him at any time? How can his morale be bolstered knowing that his supposed adversaries are carrying far modern equipment than what he has? And the fact that his family is living in near slum conditions while his generals, officers and their dependents are living la vida loca? All these and still, be expected to perform brilliantly and to ultimately make the greatest sacrifice, if he has to, for God, for country and freedom.

A soldier friend of mine, the son of a late Colonel, is on his second tour of duty in Mindanao. Both he and I come from a military lineage, although, mine extends longer and broader. Ironically, he is assigned again in my dad's province of Basilan. We have lost several buddies over the years to the war in Mindanao. And it is with respect, when we do get together, to dedicate our first bottle of beer to our fallen. I do hope and pray for his safe return.

"Kaya walang kukurap, baka malusutan ng corrupt."

-Pictures are from the web-