Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Photo Credit: Welt-altas.de (http://www.welt-atlas.de/map_of_spratly_islands_6-846)
This thing is really annoying, again for nth time China is bullying us in front of international communities.

Maybe it is high time to rename South China Sea to South Asians Sea. I guess having the word "China" in its name is actually misinterpreted the sea by narrow minded bully China as their own. Just imagine the phrase "to include waters approaching Southeast Asian countries? huh!" I don't know exactly what does it really mean, but it sounds crazy to me.

Do they have proof that those fishes living in that sea speak their language;
fishes don’t even have narrow eyes like them, how could they say they own the

Kidding aside, let's face it, we cannot face the Chinese military might, maybe not today or in few generations to come. If we do so certainly there will be more damages to us with just a smaller scale of military efforts by the Chinese if we fight them. Because for sure the war will be on our land, think about that.

However, we can still have a fight on a different arena where we can stand firm against their undiplomatic gestures. This is by boycotting totally their products, limit if not totally scrapping out our exports to China (if we have), stricter rules on Chinese tourists, and all their investments in our country should pass through needle hole or rather ban them from investing, without violating any treaty. If our government cannot do it without violating existing treaties then we must do it ourselves, with our own individual capacity, of course some may disagree, but sooner or later if this move has become a lifestyle and has become a trend in our culture wherein using Chinese products will outcasts one from being "in".
Of course we have to be prepared for its (boycotting) great impacts to our economy in the beginning, but that's fine we can still cope up without China in our system, possibly in no time. Who likes Chinese products anyway? They only bring rubbish and imitated products, and all these tonnage of illegal drugs into our country.

Although this move will bring no damage to them BUT at least we have shown our strong and unified reactions to them, it is maybe a foolish idea but it is better than to dream on fighting them in war with the US. And of course, even we have this move; we will still continue to claim what is obviously belongs to us based on existing international laws.

China has become an international bully and a spoiled brat because of what they potentially have in their arsenal…”sleeping giant as we all know”. But, who usually kills the giant anyway, not by another giant, but by smart and determine lowly warrior and most of the time killed by extraordinary means...weapons that thought out of the box!

Otherwise, if we will let the UN decides on this issue, where China sits as one of the members of UN Security Council with verto power, we will be their bitch forever. This is better than us exchanging different opinions over the issue and worst we are fighting among ourselves on different views.
The Chinese's claim has no legal basis recognized by international law or any treaty for that matter that will support their claim that all the waters belong to them. Their claim it is supported by nothing but their big threat of violence over the other claimant-nations.

Imagine, they made flybys over our military ships and blocking our military ship with civilian surveillance vessels, what does it mean? Can we do that to them?
It should start from us...individually...today!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Illegal Drugs-NOT Another "Patalim" To Hang on

Photo from:www.justotc.com

Once again, the Filipinos have shared mixed emotion about the recently concluded real life drama of our fellow Pinoys in China. The three Pinoys who were executed last 30 March 2011 by Chinese government for smuggling several kilos of illegal drugs into the country. It was the saddest day again for the Filipinos years after Flor Contemplacion was executed for murder by the Singaporean government back in early 90's.

Brief History:
Sally Ordinario-Villanueva was convicted and executed in Xiamen for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin in December 24, 2008, it was Christmas eve. Ramon Credo was executed after getting final conviction for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin in December 28, 2008 in the same city. This is four days after Sally was arrested, which in my point of view should have given Credo a real stern warning that his mission is way too risky, and yet he carried on. Elizabeth Batain, on the other hand, was convicted and executed in Shenzhen for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin in May 24, 2008. Her arrest was several months earlier than the Sally and Ramon.

In the effort of the Philippine government to save their lives after the Supreme People's Court of China affirmed their death sentences on February 11, 2011, Vice President Jejomar Binay personally went to China upon order of President Benigno Aquino III on February 18, 2011. It was kinda successful diplomatic effort to stay the execution and everyone was satisfied. But we all know that chances to get a commutation of sentence was really slimmer than the slimmest. At 9:40AM Manila Time according to GMANews online, there were officially declared dead.

There were hundreds, if not thousands, of mixed reactions around the world. Other expressed condolences, others were furious with our government, and some others they deserved what they've got. In my own point of view, although I don't know exactly all the circumstances, but I will stand firm, I agree with those who are saying that three drug mules really deserved their sentences.

Whether there is someone to be blamed that is immaterial now, there is nothing more we can do about them, they are gone. But, there are more things we can do in preventing the same event from happen again. Specially to those who are claiming and using the overrated "kapit sa patalim" (analogy for being coerced by circumstances to grab the knife by its blade in order to survive).

Pinoys are really fond of betting, we like to always put everything at stake. We tend to compromise everything if we thought there is a big chance of getting more. We love to gamble and to earn easy money. I don't have problem about that, it is just right to always strive for our goals and to get it in shorter period of time. If we can be a millionaire in just one sitting and there is a big chance of getting it, (the hell!) why not, right?

I myself, for instance, is here in the war zone of Afghanistan taking my chances, and had been in Iraq during the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, just to do the shortcut. Probably, most of Overseas Filipino Workers are just like us who want to make a short cut to comfort, to get out of poverty as soon as possible in all possible means.

In the case of Sally, et al, they thought they were just gambling between getting caught, and getting away. Maybe without knowing that what actually they had bet on was their own lives, the future of their love ones, the reputations of the family, and the undying emotional pains they had caused the people who love them so much. This is in exchange of few hundred thousand pesos that can be spent barely in days. There is absolutely nothing wrong in dreaming, having big ambitions, aiming a better life, what makes this right or wrong lays upon the means we used to achieve it. I don't believe that they were not aware of what they were up to when they carry that "hot item," since there was a big amount of money involve for very simple task.

Now there is a big difference of grabbing the blade, and getting suicidal, "kapit sa patalim" is not the same with "pagpapakamatay". What the three drug mules did is definitely a suicide mission without an option of pulling back.

I don't want to sound so insensitive in touching this topic, it may not be the right time since the families of the executed OFWs are still grieving for their lost. However, I still feel this is so timely to somehow discuss it. Our society is in the height of its emotions, and in the extremes of heated up exchange of hard thoughts and opinions is between pros and cons. How I wish this event would turn to be a real eye-opener NOT for the government but for us people. We are the ones actually in the front line, government are just logistical and reinforcement in function if we will compare it with war operations. Let's stop blaming the government. It is us who will be dealing with our actions, good or bad, not the government. Government gets public opinions, but it is us who suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. Actually it is the public opinion that really kills us, it always goes against the tide and disbands us as nation.

The point is, laxity is not on the government, but one the unwilling victims for not guarding his own safety. There are more people who are poor that never resort to illegal activities, so poverty in not an issue. If someone has an argument on my point, you may answer these questions: Are you poor? If yes, are you doing the same thing because you are poor, and why not?

Nowadays, people who get caught or who get hooked up with drugs business always claim "kapit sa patalim" as means to escape from criminal liability and avoid public condemnation, which, i may say, is really wrong and backward in concept and in execution. Kapit sa patalim gives you the options between getting through and failing wherein in both cases "wound" will be inflicted onto your hand. While on the other hand, pagpapakamatay is a sure and no way out thing, do it right or wrong, no matter how you are going to kick the chair you are standing on, the rope around your neck will prevent you from touching the floor, thus breaking your neck in the process. Playing with illegal drugs in country that imposes death penalty for committing the crime against illegal drugs is pagpapakamatay. It gives you no option but miracle to save you. It is similar to be in a hungry lions' den with bleeding wounds. You may be saved, but personality is dead before the eyes of public opinion. Remember police or any law enforcement agencies went through rigid trainings and well-versed on different worse case scenarios while there is no academy for drug mules.

Before we bet, before we dare ourselves to do or to get into the most daring gamble of our lives, think about the end-result, and who will suffer the most, is it us or our love ones. After your death, it is all over for you but those who remain will be in agony for the rest of their lives and yet you leave them poor. The same is true in the case of corruption in the military that hits the nation recently. Suicide does not prove anything but cowardice.

Illegal drugs is not "patalim", it is a rope around the neck. It is enjoying, but don't bring it across the border.

Lastly, in my wildest thought, actually harsh, since I want people to stop getting involved in drug smuggling to other countries, I am thinking of having our airports, seaports, and all other ports of exits to have a big visible posters, depicting a reminder of this very sad event, the image of emotions, the fear in the eyes, and the agony after the execution, because what just happened was a reality of suffering the consequences. And at the bottom, in bold text, "BINITAY NA SILA, SUSUNOD KA BA?" This may be harsh but I am sure it will work. I am just taking a positive thing out of the negative event that had happened. At the end of the day, it is still your choice.

To Sally, Ramon and Elizabeth may you all rest in peace.

Necessary suggestion from my brother. (he post comment on this blog)

Aside from the poster I am suggesting which has the unusual warning "BINITAY NA SILA, SUSUNOD KA BA", he suggested that a certificate should be issued by concerned government agencies checking the baggage and the passengers (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agencies, PNP-Aviation Security Group, Manila International Airports Authority, etc.) to every passenger clearing from illegal items and probably stating that the passenger was duly checked and that no drug has been found or detected. By this, framing up can be prevented and there will be government accountability also. We should assumed drugs syndicates have wide network that may be working with the baggage loaders in airport terminals.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Filipino-in-Afghanistan: Our Rights To Have Much Better and More Decent Kind of Life

Some FIA members participating in the Absentee Voting in 2010 National Elections

Recently, as per advice by our Kababayan in Filipino-in-Afghanistan (FIA), that we should write and let the website of the president be flooded by letters coming from Overseas Filipino Workers here until such time the Office of the President (OP) will give us the much needed attentions we have been longing for.

So I wrote letter to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III with similar tone and content last December 26, 2010 hoping to catch PNoy’s attention.

The FIA had already sent previously numerous letters and messages to OP since the time of Gloria Arroyo, and so far nothing has come up closed to reality, not even a vague positive response. The sad part in present time, when Vice President Jejomar Binay assumed responsibilities over the OFWs as Presidential Adviser on OFWs concerns, he proposed the imposition of sanctions and possible cancellation of passports for those who will violate the travel.

"Buhay nila ang nakataya. We are concerned with that, kung hindi nabibigyan ng sufficient na penalty di napipigilan gawa ng gawa ng hindi tama," he said. (excerpt from ABS-CBN News)

The thing is who do you think is the one who is not doing the right thing? Is it us here or VP Binay being a lawyer who is expected to be well-versed in laws, that he should know that cancellation of passports is a clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of right to travel.

There are certain acts and conditions wherein cancellation of passport could be possible under Foreign Service Act of 1991 and Philippine Passport Law (RA 8239). Definitely the act of violating a travel ban to war zone is not one of them.

Under Section 8, (c) of RA 8239, passport may bear some government restrictions and that is why we have the travel ban stamp on the “Limitation” page of our passports. But as you can see in section (b), violation of such limitations does not constitute cancellation or otherwise confiscations or technical detention of our passport

Just like what happened to those five OFWs returning to their jobs last December 14, 2010 at Terminal 1 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport, allow me not to mention their names since I do not have their permission to do so, but FIA has full knowledge about what happened to them. Their passports were confiscated and the time of this writing, their passports are still being withheld by those officers who confiscated their passports. The immigration officers who confiscated their passport reiterated their acts is based on the alleged guidance from the VP. Probably to teach these OFWs how to do the right thing, for "paulit-ulit na di paggawa ng tama"

The following is an excerpt from RA 8239:

Sec. 8. Grounds for Denial, Cancellation or Restrictions. — The application for passport may be denied, cancelled or restricted only on the following grounds:

(a) Denial of Passport

1. On orders of the court, after due notice and hearing, to hold the departure of an applicant because of a pending criminal case:

2. When so requested by the natural or legal guardian, if the applicant is a minor;

3. When the applicant has been found to have violated any of the provisions of this Act;

4. Such other disqualification under existing laws.


1. When the holder is a fugitive from justice;

2. When the holder has been convicted of a criminal offense: Provided, That the passport may be restored after service of sentence; or

3. When a passport was acquired fraudulently or tampered with.

(c) Restricted

1. When the country of destination is in a state of political instability which could pose a danger to the Filipino traveler.

2. When diplomatic ties have been fractured or severed with the Philippines;

3. When the country of destination is subject to travel restriction by government policy, enforcement of action by the United Nations or in a state of war.

Here’s my argument in addition to most FIA contentions why there is a need to lift the aging travel ban to Afghanistan, this also part of my letter to PNoy:

The United States Government, as we all know, issued memorandum to send OFWs in Afghanistan home. So we are no longer allowed to work in US Bases and to all companies with US Government contracts. This is precisely because of the existing travel ban that we have and tolerating our presence will constitute violation of Anti-Human Smuggling Laws according to USG.

Without this ban the USG will let the OFWs to stay and keep their job. Interestingly, Filipinos are the most preferred third country nationals in war zone because of our excellent and professional work performances, but of course US cannot do anything about this sovereign declaration of travel ban by the Philippine government.

So our fate lies solely with our own government. The idea of transferring the OFWs here to other countries is indeed a good idea, but definitely not the best one for our welfare. And that is the reason why we keep on knocking to the Palace’s doors to check on the loop of circling problems of OFWs in Afghanistan. The government cannot point to anybody or to anywhere to look for someone or something to blame with in order to justify the travel ban, because there is none aside from the government itself who issued it.

Take into consideration the reality of life and expenses of going and working abroad, on how life of an OFW changes. Say for instance the issue of having better salary. Since we have undeniably high salary in Afghanistan, our projects for the family, like buying a house, is also equal to the mode of acquiring it. It is not practical to get a 20-year installment term in buying a house when you can get it in shorter period.

Of course, we want it to get paid as soon as possible so we can go home and retire. Besides, who knows when the war and the opportunities in the war zone will end, so we need to hurry up!

This is also true to some other installment basis family projects that we have right now like installment cars, installment business investments, educational and life plan insurances, and many others of the same category, not to mention the idea of sending our children to better school so they will not form part of the massive unemployed graduates from not so popular schools.

With this current job that we have, we have already increased our monthly expenditures, like electric bill, this is understandably due to having more appliances, bigger food budget, education allotment, again installment properties, other commercial services like cable TV, internet, landline telephone, cost of maintenance, and of course allotment of some dear relatives.

Others may call it extravagant, but we have the right to becoming “maging maluho” if that would be the proper term on how we cared for and pamper our family. That is just a compliment for taking the risks.

This is how we dream our lives to be, so that we can afford paying decent and better hospital, and live in decent and safe neighborhood.

Now, if we will be stopped at airport, have our passport confiscated and eventually we are going to lost our jobs here, how can we be able to pay our existing loans? Are we going to let our children to stop their education or transfer them to some inferior schools and be unemployed afterwards?

We have the right to dream for a better life too. It is maybe true that it will be easy for us to find a job somewhere else. Working with US and NATO is a good training ground as they really strictly follow international standard to the letter.

But then again getting a salary closed to what we are getting is almost next to impossibility, not to mention the stiff competition in the wild, wild world. If we will get a smaller salary which is not sufficient with our current family budget, how can we be able to continue paying our current bills and loans that we already have?

Instead of trying to let us understand their hard-to-understand justifications for the continuous imposition of the travel ban, why they might not as well take a pause and hear us out. It is much easier to understand our reasons.

One of our requests is to let a team of Department of Foreign Affairs representatives visit us here and make an assessment if the travel ban is still necessary. We believe that the ban is long overdue and what we need is a strict regulation to counter those Filipinos who will come here to try their luck in getting a job, not knowing that the travel ban affects the hiring of Filipinos.

If the ban will be lifted, more opportunities will come in but as I said a strict policy on hiring and deployment should be implemented so that no OFW will be deployed in remote places where security is not that tight. This is because there are also places here, especially those bordering Pakistan, that are still having some security issues. We are not lying about that. It is like working in Makati and working in Basilan. Not because there is a security issue in Basilan, it is already proper to say that Philippines is a dangerous place of work. Of course not!

At the moment, majority of vacationing OFWs here opted to spend their vacation in some Southeast Asian countries, in Dubai, and in nearby countries fearing that once they entered the Philippines they cannot go back to their respective jobs. They will let their families travel outside the country to spend quality times with them somewhere else. Most of us here, numbering in thousands OFWs, are spending vacation every after 3 months of work for minimum two weeks.

Has anyone imagine the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are spending in other countries, instead of spending them in the Philippines? It could already help boost our local market and local tourism.

In my point of view, the only thing illegal is our itinerary or the idea that we going to Afghanistan whatever door we may exit from the Philippines, back or front door it doesn’t matter. This is because our final destination is Afghanistan where there is an existing travel ban. This is so true based on our government,s point of view.

Ironically, just like the one-way celebration of Filipino-American Friendship day where we are the only ones claiming and celebrating the supposedly mutual relation, in the view of Afghanistan republic OFWs are perfectly legal in the country having legal visa, legal work permit, and legal contract.

And here is the thing, never that OFWs in Afghanistan put the image of the Filipinos in jeopardy compared to those OFWs who have committed crimes against their host nations and eventually adds to the burden of our government in saving them from their death sentences. Nobody from here has been charged for murder or being drug mules. The fact the most of OFWs here are holding key positions, they have gained the trust and confidence of their employers and have already built good relations with them.

Finally, bear in mind that there is nothing more dangerous than losing our jobs.

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