Statements

A. Statement from Leong Center

Latent Racism

For several years now, the widespread celebration of the Chinese New
Year has illustrated the nation's acceptance of the Chinese-Filipino
or Chinoy community as an integral and significant part of Philippine
society. Last week, however, during the week of the Chinese New Year,
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol reacted to the Senate
testimony of Rodolfo Lozada, Jr., by calling him a "crying lady." He
is also quoted as saying, in reference to Lozada, "They say he's a
Chinese from the province. Bagay sa iyo i-deport ka. Magulo ka dito
(You should be deported because you're troublesome)."

Apostol's comments are not only ad hominem, they also show that
despite the perceived acceptance of the Chinoys in Philippine society,
old racist tags are still very much around. Apostol should realize
that he will only get as far as Bicol if he's going to have Lozada
deported. This episode demonstrates what Chinoys have often lamented,
that when their financial help is needed, the government and other
bodies are quick to acknowledge their unique place in the Philippines.
But the moment Chinoys need help or try to break free of economic
stereotypes, as in the case of Lozada, a Chinese mestizo (and proud of
it!) who is trying to set things aright in his life, then the old
prejudices emerge once again.

Apostol is not the first public official to utter a racial slur
against the Chinese during an emotional outburst. Whether he
apologizes or not, perhaps it will be a worthy Lenten exercise for all
of us to examine the latent racism that we may still harbor within our
selves--against other Filipinos, and against those who are different
from us in any way.

Fr. Ari C. Dy, SJ
Director, Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies
Ateneo de Manila University


B. Where are the Filipino Youth?

Where are the Filipino Youth?
by: Harvey S. Keh

The past weeks we have witnessed yet another political scandal that has rocked our country, the ZTE Broadband Scam wherein former COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos with the apparent blessings of the First Gentleman, Mike Arroyo was said to have asked for a commission of US$ 130 Million or a whopping 6 Billion Pesos in exhange for his influencing our government's decision to award the broadband deal to ZTE, a Chinese Telecommunications Company. To make this happen, the ZTE Broadband Contract was greatly overpriced at US$ 329 Million and worse, the government to be able to make this deal push through would have to loan this amount from the Chinese government. In short, the US$ 130 Million kickback of Abalos and his cohorts will have to be paid for by our tax money.

To make things even worse, the govenrment tried its darn best to cover this deal by pressuring Joey De Venecia, the first star witness to stop talking abouit this in the Senate and in public, Joey didn't want to cover up the truth thus, Malacañang led by the congressman sons of President GMA led a revolt at Congress which ousted Joey's dad, then Speaker Jose De Venecia. The next star witness whose courage we so admire, Jun Lozada initially didn't want to go to the Senate and take part in their investigation because as he said, if he ends up in the Senate, he will be forced to say the Truth. Again, our government tried every trick to ensure that Lozada wouldn't be able to testify in the Senate, leading to his alleged kidnapping as soon as he arrived from Hong Kong where he hid for a few days. Two men picked up Lozada as soon as he got out of the plane and brought him around Metro Manila and even to Laguna against his will. If that can happen to Jun Lozada, that can happen to every Filipino in this country. In Jun Lozada's words, when he was picked up against his will, he already thought about the late Bobby Dacer who at the height of the Erap impeachment was also picked up by unidentified men and after weeks of looking for him, they finally found his body along with the body of his driver.

I can go on and on about this but the point is, this government has continued to steal our people's money from under our nose and they continue doing this because they know they can get away with it. Just look at the many scandals that have rocked the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which we already have no idea what happened like the 1 Billion Peso Fertilizer Scam and the Hello Garci Scandal. As Jun Lozada further said in his testimony at the Senate, the Standard Operating Procedure in our country now is that every government contract is overpriced by 20%, the 20% goes to the pockets of our government leaders who helped in pushing the deal. This is indeed very disappointing since 6 Billion Pesos can help build so many classrooms for our public school students, it can provide so many college scholarships to deserving students, it can help build public hospitals so people can receive proper health care and it can provide adequate housing to thousands of families. But in this case, 6 Billion Pesos will just end up in the pockets of one or maybe a few families and worse, we will all have to pay for their greed.

Nakakainis at Nakakagalit ang nangyayari sa ZTE Deal na to, harap harapan na tayong ginagago ng gobyerno natin and as one of my students in class said, he wouldn't be surprised if another scandal comes out within the next few months... it seems that Malacañang is already so used to scandals because they know they will eventually get away with it once media and the public grow tired of hearing about these scandals. Pero para sa akin, mas nakakalungkot na parang walang pakialam at walang ginagawa ang karamihan sa kabataang Pilipino sa mga nangyayaring ito, it seems that the Filipino Youth which led the charge in EDSA 2 is nowhere to be found. Could it be that the Filipino Youth has given up all Hope for making this country great again? Could it be the Filipino Youth has given up in its fight for a clean and effective government? Has the youth given up on our future? I hope I am wrong because what is at stake here is not just my future or the future of the poor, it is our shared future that we have to continue to fight for. Ayaw ba natin na dumating ang araw na bawat Pilipino pwede nang magkaroon ng kalidad na edukasyon? Ayaw ba natin na dumating ang araw na hindi na natin kailangang mag abroad at mahiwalay sa pamilya para magakaroon ng magandang trabaho? If we can all work together and join forces, we can show this administration that we will not just sit idly while they continue to corrupt and destroy our future, remember that in 2010 the Filipino Youth will be able to elect the next President of our country. Let us not wait till then to make a change, let us act now, our country needs US Now!

If you want to help and be part of a youth-led initiative that will push for genuine and lasting reforms in our government, please email me at harveykeh@gmail.com or you can help by forwarding this email to your friends who might be interested to help. Let's meet, Let's Talk and Let's all work together for our country.

*Harvey Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo de Manila-School of Government and a Lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools' Development Studies Program and Department of Theology. Harvey is also Executive Director of AHON Foundation, a corporate foundation of Filway Marketing, Inc. that helps build public elementary school libraries.


C. INIIBIG KO ANG PILIPINAS (Ang Pilipinas na "hindi iisang pamilya lamang")

INIIBIG KO ANG PILIPINAS
Ang Pilipinas na "hindi iisang pamilya lamang" (Lozada, NBN-ZTE Star Witness)


More resoundingly than ever, we, the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, reiterate what we have time and again demanded of the current government of the Republic of the Philippines: TRUTH, ACCOUNTABILITY and REFORM.


Without question, it is the constitutional duty and moral culpability of the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to ensure that the facts of all cases of corruption and anomalous dealings be brought to light, that those found and proven to be involved in such be prosecuted and punished, and that every effort shall be made to reform a system so ridden by this cancer.


Upon careful reflection on numerous unresolved issues and recent developments surrounding the Senate investigation of the NBN-ZTE deal and the alleged abduction of Engr. Jun Lozada, key witness to the said investigation, our call is for the following concrete forms of action to address the weakening of our democratic institutions and processes and to punish those who will be found guilty to the full extent of the law:


For TRUTH:


Ô That Gloria Macapagal Arroyo lift E.O. 464 which bans any of the cabinet members to appear before the Senate hearings without her consent. EO 464 is the major impediment to the public's right to information and access to the truth. It is questionable why that order was necessary in the first place, and whose interests were being protected by it. If Arroyo is prepared to serve the common good by allowing the truth to come forth, she should be ready to revoke EO 464.

Ô That Secretary Romulo Neri and other witnesses disclose to the general public all the relevant and truthful information about the NBN-ZTE deal.

Ô That the Senators faithfully continue with the hearings amidst ad hominem tactics against Lozada and cha-cha campaign to divert public attention and distract the country from pressing concerns.

For ACCOUNTABILITY:

Ô That the Senators concretely resolve to have an Independent Counsel pursue the case at hand. He or she shall have the duty to investigate and, if necessary, to prosecute certain high ranking officials of the Executive and Congress, including their relatives by affinity or consanguinity within the fourth civil degree charged with malfeasance or misfeasance in office. This should be exercised particularly for the ZTE scandal. The Independent Counsel should come from outside the government and be appointed by the President, subject to CA approval and judicial review of the Supreme Court en banc based on the qualifications provided by the statute creating the office.

For REFORM:

Ô That we heed the call of CBCP for reform – individually and communally - especially during the current season of Lent. We also strongly support the CBCP President's call for communal action and enjoin the public to attend fora, discernment sessions and public expressions of support for valid calls articulated herein.

Ô That Lawmakers revise the Government Procurement Reform Act (R.A. 9184) to ensure greater transparency and plug the enormous losses of taxpayer's money to corrupt officials estimated to amount to P30 billion for this year alone – a scandalous injustice and mockery of the plight of the millions of Filipinos who live in poverty and who would have benefited from services rightfully due them through these public funds.

We believe that if Mrs. Arroyo fails to act on the above, she irredeemably imperils her already worn-out credibility and moral authority, and will consequently lose the little remaining hold to a legitimate Presidency.

We therefore call on all men and women of goodwill to join us in making these demands, while remaining prayerfully vigilant and critically engaged in discerning and taking on courses of action to redeem the highly degraded integrity of our nation.

See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert, I make a way; in the wasteland, rivers. Isaiah 43: 18-19



Manalangin. Manindigan. Makialam.

SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN