A Boholano’s View by Jose “Pepe” Abueva
The Bohol Chronicle
January 6, 2013
As a social scientist and political activist, I pick the following highlights of the year that just ended.
Defending our national territory. With all our serious social, economic, and political problems as a weak nation and a “soft state” with an unconsolidated democracy, we had to deal with the People’s Republic of China, the world’s second richest economy and a neighboring country that has been aggressively claiming ownership and intruding into parts of our national territory as defined by international law and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas. The ASEAN failed to unite in defense of its members whose territorial rights China is violating. We have to defend our national territory as a sovereign state with the help of the international community.
We lost Jesse Robredo. His death in the plane crash in Masbate revealed his greatness as a humble local and national leader—as Mayor of Naga and Secretary of Interior and Local government. Knowing Jesse more fully because of the revelations after his passing reminds us of Ramon Magsaysay who likewise perished in a plane crash, in 1957. Last November my book on RM was launched. It is entitled Ramon Magsaysay: “Servant Leader” With a Vision of Hope.”
Robredo was likewise “a servant leader.”
Super-typhoon “Pablo” brought massive death and devastation to Mindanao. Until then we had assumed that Mindanao was always spared from such natural disaster. But, of course, the year before we had Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. We have to learn much more how to cope with such killing and destructive typhoons. Global warming and climate change are all too real in their impact on us.
The 40th anniversary of martial law. In September we summoned our history and memories and forgetfulness of the Marcos dictatorship. Those who remembered recalled its wholesale abuse of human rights, the wanton killings and enforced disappearances, the unprecedented plunder of Marcos and his cronies, the spread of the communist rebellion nationwide, the Moro rebellion, the politicization of the military, the huge economic setback, and the demoralization of the nation. We ponder how it is that so many of our youth did not learn about these. And how many have long forgotten and forgiven the Marcoses and their accomplices who want Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The immediate heirs of Marcos have long regained power and one of them aims to become president. These are continuing signs of our political backwardness and weak nationhood, our being a pre-modern nation-state.
The impeachment and removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Initiated by President P-Noy himself, the House voted to impeach the Chief Justice and the Senate removed him from office after four months of a riveting public trial. He was found him guilty of betrayal of the public trust by concealing his true assets and net worth. This was the first ever removal of a Chief Justice by impeachment. The President replaced Corona with the youngest associate justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, breaking the seniority tradition in the Supreme Court.
The Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro. The FAB signed October 15 brought the
highest leaders of the MILF to Malacanang to celebrate a breakthrough in the peace talks. Hopes are high that a just and enduring end to the prolonged conflict is within reach. It is expected that a new Bangsamoro will replace the ARRM by 2016. Bangsamoro promises to achieve genuine regional and local autonomy for the Moros and lumads that can be the model for extending the new structure nationwide through a constitutional amendment. If achieved it will promise a Federal Republic of the Philippines in the foreseeable furure.
The Communist Party and NPA are defiant. Ahead of its 44th year anniversary on December 26, CPP Central Committee called on its New People’s Army to “Seize the initiative in all forms of struggle and intensify the offensive against the enemy”, the unchanged situation in the country is perfect breeding ground for the growth of the NPA, even as the government claims success in its ‘Oplan Bayanihan’ lowering down their number to only 5,000. The CPP absolutely controls and leads the NPA.”
The RH Bill becomes R.A. 10354. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 took some 14 years to enact because it was very controversial and the nation was divided over it. The Catholic Church used the pulpit to campaign against the bill and threatened politicians who favored it. But the Philippines has one of Asia’s highest birth rates, with the United Nations estimating that half of the country’s 3.4 million pregnancies each year are unplanned. The government’s Commission on Women says that maternal mortality also remains high, with 162 deaths for every 100,000 live births, while 10 women die every day from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. The landmark law will make sex education and contraceptives more widely available to the poor.
Rappler’s editor at large, Marites Vitug, says “the victory of the Reproductive Health bill signals the decline of Church influence on national affairs. “This is the beginning of the decline of the Catholic Church’s influence on affairs of the Philippine state. The victory of the reproductive health bill will stand as a landmark in the history of church-state relations. It demystified the Catholic Church and its supposed iron grip on our country’s politicians.
“The bishops flagrantly intruded on the shaping of the RH policy. They harangued us from the pulpit, read fire-and-brimstone pastoral statements claiming religious dogma and using faith to fuel opposition. Yet the public did not listen. The surveys showed majority favored the RH bill. How could congressmen and senators ignore the voice of the people? In this one shining moment, they looked out for the larger good and passed the RH bill. Surely, the Catholic Church can continue its mission for social justice, to be a church of the poor. But it should learn from this experience and not overreach. In future policy debates, the bishops will no longer enjoy a favored status. They will be like any other advocate, claiming our leaders’ attention.”
P-Noy high trust and approval. With the removal of Chief Justice Corona, the passage of the RH Law, the improvement of the economy, the approval of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro, President Aquino III has kept his high popular standing. Investments poured in, the roads and bridges and services went up, and the poor hoped for uplift. By using Filipino in his SONAs and other speeches he is reaching out to more citizens who also approve of his drive against corruption and abuse of power. But the people’s continuing poverty, unemployment, and hardships dented the President’s trust and approval rating as the year ended.
The Centrist Democratic Party is born: Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya. Unlike most Filipino political parties that are personal factions of our oligarchy of family dynasties organized mainly to win elections, CDP recruits members all over the Philippines. Its members
pay annual dues, abide by the party’s rules, elect leaders, and select candidates for public office. All members are committed to the party’s core principles and program of governance and reform. CDP is committed to change our political system: to a parliamentary government and a federal republic.
On September 12, 2012 the Commission on Elections approved our CDP as a duly accredited and registered national political party. On September 29, we held our second National Congress where we elected Lito Monico Lorenzana as CDP Chairman, and Representative Rufus Rodriguez (2nd district of Cagayan de Oro) as our CDP President.
Manny Pacquiao lost but Donaire won. To our great disappointment our national boxing hero was knocked down by Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez. We were however consoled by Donaire’s victory….
Pumanaw na sila. Gone separately from the hundreds who perished in the wake of our super typhoons were some notables: Dolphy the Great Comedian, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Celso Ad. Castillo, and Annabelle Abaya.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle. The Archbishop of Manila was named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. It is speculated that in the Archbishop we have our best hope for a Filipino to become the Pope’s successor. “And as one of the Pope’s favorites, he has one foot in the door.”