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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

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The latest bus mishap in this country cost at least 19 lives and left 20 injured. Last December 16, the dreaded Don Mariano passenger bus fell off the Bonifacio Skyway near Bicutan.

Yet we had other similarly alarming bus accidents in the past few years like that of June 2010 which also claimed a lot of human lives.
I lived in Manila this summer and I have to say that having ridden on those buses, one would surely become “more spiritual” than before. In the congested streets of Manila, most of these buses drive faster than The Flash.

No wonder some people can’t seem to get hold of themselves and drive themselves mad into road rage. The Filipino highways have people behind the steering wheel cutting off lanes and disobeying traffic signage - to make a living.
I don’t even understand why some of these madmen liked to tryout for being live crash test dummies. We don’t need Paul Walker-wannabes in our roads; especially on vehicles which carry passengers.  And while these “kings of the road” weave through the thoroughfare traffic in a fuzz, ‘misadventures’ like the ones we have seen on the television would be a usual occurrence. 

Now, here comes the irony where the main tagline of the President is the “daang matuwid” (straight road). Yet this very ‘road’ is a hodgepodge of ineffective traffic enforcement, out-of-date laws, red tape and corruption. Add to that the average Pinoy’s disgust over our uniformed men.
 
We need more than barriers, traffic aides and traffic signals in order to solve these problems. Maybe the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) should freeze the franchises of these erring bus lines and mete out harsher penalties.

Meeting their passenger quota as justification for their reckless driving should remain unforgivable. Perhaps it's about time to totally scrap the boundary system and have our drivers receive fixed rates. There is no proper implementation on this legislation up to now, though.

Or maybe we need anger management seminars before driving licenses are issued. That kind that makes our mustachioed men realize that the vehicle on the other side of the lane is not a slur against their manhood. And that he doesn’t need to compete with the other bus because there are no laps and our highways are not racetracks.


We need intelligent drivers for our public transport simply because lives of the passengers are literally on their hands. If they don’t know the difference between 120 kph and 80 kph; they might as well be out of the road. Someone I know even told me that his driving license ‘allowed’ him to drive a four-wheeled vehicle despite the fact that he does not have the slightest idea about cars (or any four-wheeled vehicles for that matter). Issuances of driver’s license should be strict and be based on the actual test results.

Driving on the streets is a privilege that couples with it a great responsibility. That explains why it would be a disgrace to award licenses to slapdash “drivers” who have double-digit IQs.

All drivers have to be responsible on the streets.

Our roads are not always matuwid (straight) that’s why we have to be cautious at the curves. We don’t want this country to jump off the proverbial ‘road to progress’, careening down the hills, or flying off the flyovers.




Photo Credits:

http://images.gmanews.tv/v3/webpics/v3/2013/12/320_2013_12_16_12_00_59.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qTZSBbOWrj8/UQC6oNpYnMI/AAAAAAAAD4w/Z70GAB6iE04/s1600/bus0117.jpg
http://gulfnews.com/polopoly_fs/1.669945!/image/3669862280.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_475/3669862280.jpg
by: Jasper Ian Gonzales*

If I were Rick Warren I would not simply blame "mental illness" as the cause of his son's (Matthew Warren) suicidal tendencies. Computer (data) forensics will reveal much about what went through Matthew's mind the whole time of his existence. Of course, Rick Warren will not allow something damning to be exposed for all the public to see.
Reading through online articles and circulating videos it seems the suicide of his son has spurred Warren and his wife Kay to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness, drawn him closer to his wife and completed his series series "How to Get Through What You're Going Through". While all I can hear from them are all positive, encouraging and comforting I cannot understand why it seemed Rick and his wife had already and "fully understood" their son's situation or in this case just assumed that there is "less" to be understood because Matthew is supposedly clinically diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (where suicidal tendency is a known symptom).

As a parent myself here's what I will do. I will conduct computer forensics on the online activity of Matthew to understand what milestones led to the suicide event. Why should I care to do that? In this time and age everything we do leaves a trace somewhere hidden in our computers. Deleted files, chat sessions and all online activities are stored in our PC or laptop not to mention in servers around the cyberworld. It's not rocket science I guarantee. So why Rick Warren did not do that? Because of privacy or to protect his son's dignity? Did Warren just teach me how to "not know" but just let go and think positive?

Obviously, the man who taught us the importance of discovering purpose in our life (PDL-ers hear, hear!) failed the test in his own backyard. This is a classic human flaw where a leader says what he does not and cannot do. How Rick and his wife communicate the whole event was a total diversion or a smokescreen, if you will, from the real problem. I'm not taking a stance against gays or persons suffering from mental illnesses. What I'm saying is Rick Warren evades the questions that exposes his failures. He does not even admit one! Wow. And it's all because Matthew suffered from a mental illness. Good excuse.

So, here's my list of why-nots:

  1. Why not send him to a rehab facility so he may be in a controlled environment? Guns, drugs and other influences will then be avoided.
  2. Why not send him to Tibet for a year or two to learn about the Dalai Lama? He'll learn to appreciate life.
  3. Why not train him in MMA and sign him up with UFC? He will have an outlet of his destructive behavior in a positive way.
  4. Why not send him to military school then to the frontline of any major operation? Obviously, so he can meet death quicker.
  5. Why not send him to Japan to help decontaminate and rehabilitate Fukushima?
  6. Why not send him to Greenpeace undercover missions?
  7. Why not train him in firefighting?
  8. Why not send him to Thailand to learn about taming venomous snakes?
  9. Why not look for a way for Matthew to find a meaningful way to die other than suicide? i.e. death-defying tricks can get a Guinness world record!

Let's remember that a person planning his own death and "seeking" the help of his parents to obtain a gun in order to facilitate his death is not a symptom of irrationality or illness. IT means he is fucked up and fucked up kids need tough love! It's love in a controlled disciplined way. If my child gets a hold of something that can destroy his/her life I will move heaven and earth to get him/her out of that shit even if it's against her will. I won't leave it to doctors, medicines or prayer partners!

Maybe because the Filipino culture is such that meddling even in a child's adult life is mostly allowable or maybe because I just believe that my role as a parent never ceases even after my nest becomes empty. It's sad that Rick did not learn from Matthew's courage. While Matthew faced death without fear, Rick preached and prayed for courage. For Matthew, death is the best escape similar to a drugs for drug addicts. His father is just incapable of giving the answers or at least show the way to find the answers to his son's questions.That job is just too much for him to handle; preaching the good news in a pulpit is easier.
It is a tragedy and I sympathize with the loss. What's sadder is how people can be led to think that everything Rick Warren and his wife did was "OK" and nothing better can be done especially for parents who have children having suicidal tendencies from the so-called "mental illnesses" like depression, drug addiction, homosexuality and anorexia among others. 

It is not so different from a POD lyric:
"Who's to blame for the lives that tragedies claim.
No matter what you say it don't take away the pain that I feel inside.
I'm tired of all the lies.
Don't nobody know why it's the blind leading the blind."


*Jasper Ian Gonzales is an alumnus of MSU-IIT and majored in Political Science. He is in the process of finishing his juris doctor degree at the Angeles University Foundation. He's the older brother of the blog author. This article was taken from his Facebook Note posted earlier this morning.

Photo Credits:

http://theapologetic.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/rick-warren-time-mag.jpg
http://img2-2.timeinc.net/people/i/2013/news/130422/pastor-rick-warren-600.jpg
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
- Article I, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Today marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is the statement which affirmed the dignity and rights of all human beings, adopted by the United Nations expressed in the UN Charter in December 10, 1948.

The UDHR is the first section of a proposed three-part international covenant, or agreement, on human rights. The rights described in the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights include: the right to life, liberty, and security of person; religion, opinion; to a secure society and an adequate standard of living; to education; and to rest and leisure. The declaration also affirms the rights of every person to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; to work under favorable conditions, receive equal pay for equal work, and join labor unions at will; to marry and raise a family, among others [1].
 
Accordingly, this declaration affected the terms of several national constitutions that were written after the Second World War by securing a universal recognition of a whole gamut of human rights.

In the Philippines, the granting Filipinos civil and political rights can be traced during US President McKinley’s First Philippine Commission which studied how a civil government would be established in our then war-torn country.  According to its Report, the Filipino people wanted above all “a guarantee of those fundamental human rights which Americans hold to be the natural and inalienable birthright of the individual but which under Spanish domination in the Philippines had been shamefully invaded and ruthlessly trampled upon.” And guided by this principle, President McKinley, issued on April 7, 1900, his instruction to the Commission that the civil government to be erected in the Philippines must be based on certain “inviolable rules” (which he meant the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution).
 
Consequently, the Philippine Bill of 1902 which temporarily provided for the administration of a civil government in the Philippines carried the Bill of Rights.  Likewise, the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 or the Jones Law which called, among others, for an autonomous government for the Filipinos, contained these guarantees of the US Bill of Rights. And this was then carried over to our various written constitutions in the years that followed.

Our constitution guarantees and protects the fundamental rights of the Filipino people. These rights may be an individual’s social, economic, cultural, political and civil relations. Article III of our 1987 Constitution embodies all these in twenty-two sections. These human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that the Filipinos have.

But of these rights, the most fundamental is one’s right to life. And it doesn’t simply refer to ‘animal’ existence. Accordingly, it is the protection against its deprivation without due process extending to the limbs and faculties by which life is enjoyed. To quote from J. Freinberg and J. Coleman’s Philosophy of Law [2], “As living creatures, we have an interest in self-preservation; as animals, in procreation; and as rational creatures, in living in society and exercising our intellectual and spiritual capacities in the pursuit of knowledge”.

A sad truth in this country is that we have plethora of human rights violations. It is one of the most pressing issues faced by our law enforcers. A societal issue which I am not a stranger to.
In 2012, three years after our graduation from college, my buddy, police officer Jesamm Jed Catacutan was shot dead as he was on his way to his work in Pagadian City.

For the whole four years, I enjoyed his company together with the gang. And with Jed’s shocking death, the group was never the same. Each time the batch gathers, not mentioning him is impossibility. We missed the big man’s funny mein.
Jesamm Jed Catacutan
(June 2, 1987 - February 24, 2012)
I lost a good friend. And the wheels of justice never turned for his side up to this moment. We, together with his family are still clueless on who the culprit was.

My friend’s story is just one of those unresolved cases of unabated human rights violations in the country. We shout: Justice for [insert name of anyone you know who died without closure]. But it’s like shouting in the middle of the jungle – nobody hears and nobody seemed to care. We hoped for “investigations” for closures. But things were just swallowed into oblivion.

It is this government’s task to preserve human rights and justice. Every one is entitled to an equal degree of respect as humans and should not be treated less just because of differing personal, political, or religious convictions.

But from the tumultuous violations during the Martial Law, things almost remain unchanged. Whether it’s Professor Othello Cobal (the MSU prof-businessman who was killed and burned inside his computer shop), or Sir Gingging (the Saint Michael’s prof who was shot dead by ‘riders-in-tandem’) it seems that there’s this failure to investigate and prosecute. From Aquino’s assassination, to the Maguindanao Massacre, or Jonas Burgos’ disappearance – no investigation has ever yielded encouraging results. Life is not supposed to be ended at the disposal of the influential like the off switch in their hands.

Our law enforcement has great failures, too. In clarifying the facts, identifying the perpetrators, making arrests, and bringing the bad guys to trial – and these are just but some. Whether these bad guys themselves are police officers, soldiers or hired gunmen, they should face the forbidding sword of Lady Justice.

Apparently, this underscores the need for an effective whistle-blower program and a strong witness protection program to protect citizens from berdugos and other creatures from the underworld. 

Equally alarming is the indifference of the eyewitnesses to the various felonies committed elsewhere. More often than not, witnesses prefer to be silent. While people expect the policemen to do their job – nobody, on the other hand, volunteers information leading to the arrest of perpetrators.
 
I’m sure you won’t be glad to lose a friend from impunity like I did. That’s why our people have to be educated on the rule of law. And as the common aphorism say, in keeping this wonderful thing called ‘freedom’, vigilance is a must for our part.


Notes:
[1] Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
[2] J. Freinberg and J. Coleman. Philosophy of Law (6th Ed. 2000), p. 19.