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The Reign of Witches

Mrs. Arroyo captured the presidency through her allies in Congress.
Although there were strong indications that the Certificates of Canvass (COCs) were dubious, the canvass committee insisted that the law did not allow them to look deeper, which wasn’t true. This, even when public interest demanded it.

The canvass committee could have looked at other documents and compared them to the COCs but it chose not to. It could have spent its time looking for the truth rather than arguing over interpretations of the law but it didn’t. Instead, it peddled the line that the “proper venue” for seeking the truth was the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), not the canvass committee whose job (so they interpreted) was limited to proclaiming a winner, questionable documents nothwithstanding. “Proper venue” became the coven’s incantation.

Globalization (or colonial) mentality

The globalization fever has infected Philippine education. To be precise, we are gripped with Americanization.

We cannot avoid having a globalist perspective. But it is quite disturbing when globalization overwhelms national or local needs. The
thrust of some private schools, as the ads would suggest, is to churn
out graduates for overseas employment or supply call centers with workers who can speak with an American accent. Not bad in itself, but
what has happened to the noble cause of making education serve
Philippine development?

In terror

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s immortal gesture to George W. Bush, “Friends don’t ask why, they ask how,” is coming back to haunt her. That’s what she gets for placing her trust in Mr. Bush to guide her through the who, what, where, why, and how of his so-called global war on terror.

Malacanang’s proposed anti-terror measures read like bastard versions
of the Patriot Act of the United States (US), a law ghostwritten by the White House cabal that manufactured the lies to justify the invasion of Iraq and awarded lucrative no bid contracts to its patrons in the oil, defense and construction industries.

Compromising the VAT (again)?

The proposed legislation on the value-added tax (VAT) is likewise
headed towards a heavily compromised revenue measure. The VAT proposal has two main features – an increase in the VAT rate from 10% to 12%, and a broadening of the coverage of VAT.

Reformers are divided over this issue. Mainstream economists have
called for the rate increase to stem the fiscal crisis. Their argument
is simple: the VAT, among the proposed tax measures, has the capacity to generate the biggest amount of revenues. A two percentage point increase in the VAT rate is equivalent to P25 billion in additional revenues.

The quantitative implications of corruption

A surprising news item on corruption in the country came out recently. This was the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’s (PERC’s) report that the Philippines ranked as the second most corrupt country in Asia. It says India, China and Vietnam are “cleaner” than the Philippines; only Indonesia is worse!

But these are only perceptions. There is no argument that individual
respondents for one reason or another have some degree of subjectivity. But the overall result of 900 respondents is more objective. One must remember that they are executives from the private sector that come from different industries. Some are from shipping, some finance, some high-tech, and the list goes on. They also come from different countries, like the US, Australia, Japan, etc. Because of the respondent’s diversity the negative subjectivity of one can easily be offset by another’s positive subjectivity.

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.