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Sulu: Why now?

The military sees no strategic reason for the attacks in Sulu. They
claim the latest outbreak of violence is simply in retaliation for the
death of innocents in a skirmish between soldiers and rebels. However, the sequence of events following those bloody encounters seems to indicate that there is more to this current disturbance than meets the eye.

The rebel attack on a battalion headquarters makes one wonder whether the attack was truly spontaneous. It’s no cakewalk to attack a battalion headquarters, nor is it easy to hit a bull’s-eye with a mortar shell fired from a considerable distance.

The coordinated terror bombings that followed the government counter-attack smacks of considerable pre-planning too. The rebel press release following the Valentine’s Day bombings shows it was not written on the run, it was well-crafted and well-thought out.

Once again on poverty statistics or the poverty of statistics

It’s final, says the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB),
after it released the technical notes on the latest poverty statistics,
confirming that poverty among Filipino families had indeed gone down
from 27.5 percent in 2000 to 24.7 percent in 2003. Early on, various
questions were raised concerning the validity of the 2003 poverty
estimates due to observed inconsistencies with trends in real income
and economic growth over the same period.

National ID

The proposal for a national ID is running into a lot of opposition because it is being proposed by people who can’t be trusted. It’s as simple as that.

The image of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine
National Police, various intelligence and tax collection agencies, and
Malacanang poring over one’s personal data is more frightening than the idea of a terrorist planting a bomb. In the case of the former, the
danger is real and proximate. The record of the so-called authorities
speaks for itself.

Chicken coop for Bayani’s soul

Many were impressed by Bayani Fernando’s performance when he first took over as Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) head. Many were pleased when he cleared the sidewalks of vendors. I, too, was excited about this public official. Finally, I told myself, a public servant who can make things happen.

Lately, however, I have begun to lose trust in Bayani. Of course,
dealing with the country’s megalopolis is no easy task. Aside from the wide variety of problems he has to face, the name “Bayani” seems to be so unsettling at the very least, to mayors of towns and cities comprising Metro Manila.

Almonte’s sophistry

When former national security adviser Jose Almonte talks, we better
listen. What he says is expected to be controversial, as controversial
as his public life. Almonte was the ideologue who helped construct the
Marcos dictatorship’s program of a “new society” and a “democratic
revolution from the center.” He was the ideologue of the Ramos administration’s liberalization program, whose unforgettable rhetoric
of NIC (Newly Industrializing Country) 2000 metamorphosed into an
economic crisis in 1997.

Hegemony has gone global

As twin events, the one piggybacking on the other, Davos and Porto
Alegre grabbed the usual headlines last week. But the question “which one grabbed more headlines,” is a no-brainer. It’s Davos, of course; and not only because of the presence of Bill Gates and Sharon Stone in that Swiss resort.

It’s because, to get straight to the point, mainstream Davos has the
hegemony, and left-wing Porto Alegre has – at most – the counter-hegemony. The World Economic Forum (WEF) gets all the mainstream media’s attention, while coverage of the World Social Forum (WSF), it seems, is good only as fillers for late-night tv news.