Atty. Alex Padilla, Chair of the government peace panel during President Benigno Aquino’s time, predicted that the peace talks that the Duterte government is having with the communists will fail. He claims this is because the National Democratic Front peace panel members  talking with the government do not represent the New Peoples Army. The NPA has been waging an armed revolution for almost half a century.

But we predict differently. We predict that the talks will succeed. Here are the reasons why:

Upon his assumption to office on June 30, 2017, Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte  never departed from his hopes expressed during the campaign that he wanted the armed rebellion to end. In every occasion he addresses the public, he says, “I want to be known as the President of peace. I want the rebels to come down from the hills and enjoy lives of comfort with their loved ones.”

Unlike Presidents before him, Duterte, who self-identifies as a socialist/leftist  had broken bread many times with communists and fathoms their issues. He knows what the root cause of the armed conflict is: the social injustice stemming from  inequitable distribution of wealth perpetuated by the oligarchic control of the system.    He recognizes that the armed struggle will end if the root cause is addressed through socio-economic reforms. In this respect, he and the NDF are on the same page.

Pres. Duterte's  grasp of the real issues is coupled with a like-minded GRP panel made up of people who truly hanker for peace as the presence of justice. This is a great recipe for successful talks with the NDF. Thus, when Pres Duterte cancelled the peace talks last February, GRP peace panel members  themselves knocked on heaven's door for resumption. In meetings of the GRP Reciprocal Working Group on Political and Constitutional Reforms (RWG-PCR) of which I am a member,  no one ever questioned the sincerity and motives of the other side. I have information this is true of the other Groups.

The GRP   peace panel,  on the one hand, and the NDF panel, on the other,  mutually respect and trust each other. They may argue a lot, disagree on matters,  and even threaten to, or actually stop talking to each other like family members do. But they all believe that  the peace talks must keep going and reach their logical conclusion: the end of hostilities and the guarantee there will be social justice. Talks must go on even while there is fighting (although the two sides just signed an interim ceasefire agreement).

On Padilla’s claim that the NDF does not represent the NPA,  I cannot speak for the NDF and its relations with the NPA. But the NDF team seems totally committed to the peace process. The NDF gave assurance  that the rebels would lay down their arms once guarantees are in place to confront and address the economic issues which form the radix of the armed conflict. If the GRP is forthright in its dealings with the NDF, it has to believe the claim. The NDF has yet to give reason for it to be dismissed as the boy who cried wolf.

The GRP panel headed by Padilla is different from the current one which genuinely hopes for an end to the armed struggle. GRP Panel Chair DOLE Sec. Silvestre “Bebot”  Bello is no Padilla. Sec. Bello  negotiates from a position of sincerity believing that peace is possible. If you start your negotiation with the mindset that the other party is only pulling your leg,  you are in bad faith in agreeing to a talk. You are insincere. If you do not believe the other party, why even think of talking? It is a waste of time and money. It raises false hopes to the people who want the armed rebellion to end. It raises false hopes for the countryside where development has been stunted because it is the host of the armed conflict.

It should be  no wonder that Padilla's panel achieved nothing. Maybe, he is now trying to justify why the peace talks between the GRP panel he led and the NDF was  a total failure. But the truth is the failure in the past was the government’s insincerity by which it was itself a peace saboteur.

So far, in just less than a year, the peace talks leaped much, much farther than they ever have in the past two decades. Substantial gains have been achieved. Padilla should not douse ice-cold water. This might be the Filipino people's last chance for a just and lasting peace. Let us all hope together.

Saboteurs and peace spoilers must lay off. This is not about you. This is about the Filipino people and their dream of just and lasting peace..


I agree with you, Ms Vice President Robredo and Senator Poe.
The Congressmen were total jerks in asking questions not to surface the truth or untruth about how Sen De Lima used her driver-lover Ronnie Dayan to mulct money from drug lords, but to satisfy their baser prurient instincts. I condemned this earlier than you did. I condemned it as soon as it happened.
But I think you discriminate. You discriminate against a lot of women who are the women who need you more. You defend the right of a woman who possesses enormous power, who is on TV everyday to appeal to public pity, often by telling tall tales. She goes as far as audaciously claiming the position of the ultimate aggrieved woman declaring that no woman deserves to be betrayed by a man, stealing a line more fittingly uttered by the woman cheated by her husband for 7 years to be with his employer, a woman of power who may have committed sexual harassment. Why can't you also use your loud, powerful voice to stand up for one helpless woman who is the ultimate victim, who is actually more #everywoman than De Lima? I do not know her name, but she is the wife of Ronnie Dayan.
Unlike Senator De Lima, she has no claim to power. Her husband and De Lima acted as if she did not exist for 7 years. The House of Representatives acted as if she did not exist when, in a televised hearing, its members asked Dayan unnecessary questions about the depth of his love for The Other Woman who shamelessly claims to be the victimized #everywoman.
Now, you, women of power who are defending Sen. De Lima in the name of women's rights, are also invisibilizing Mrs Dayan. Didn't she ever cross your thoughts while you listened to those dirty old men in Congress ask questions in aid of ejaculation and not in aid of legislation? Couldn't you have defended De Lima and her in one breath? Could you not feel her humiliation as well?
You are doing Mrs Dayan a monumental disservice. You are spitting on her broken heart. You were elected to alleviate the situation of the marginalized. Why do you do this to her?
But again, what you are doing is reflective of how political power is traditionally used in this country. It comes to the aid of the rich or powerful more than the poor and the weak who are all too often overlooked.
On this day four years ago, this was my Facebook status:
"Today marks the beginning of the 16 Days to End Violence Against Women.
"I am reflecting on what Harriet Beecher Stowe, one of the women in the 19th Century who fought so hard for gender equality, said:
"It's a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong, something the best people have always done."
Mrs. Dayan, thank you for this chance to emulate the best people. My voice is not the voice of power. It is inaudible compared to those of Vice-President Robredo and Senator Poe. But I shall use it for you. Please know that you are in my thoughts.



Because neo-liberalism failed the people, because the promises of capitalism benefited only the likes of Donald Trump and made the poor even poorer...
The US presidential election was decided less by specific gender, ethnicity, race, and migration issues (or identity politics) than issues that matter to class. The rejection of Hillary Clinton (but not necessarily the victory of Trump) is a strong indictment of corporate capitalism personified by Wall Street. Wall Street is seen to be the Democrats' principal veering away from its historical role as the defender of the oppressed.
Similarly, in the Philippines...
We should be looking at the trigger of mass anger and address it instead of self-righteously shouting from lofty bourgeois windows about how we are now held hostage by the choices the idiots and uneducated made that now affect us. Education may come from books and universities but theirs came from experience. Electoral choices may be dictated by desire for comforts and privileges derived from a system that deprives the masses of the ability to survive decently. Theirs are dictated by the deprivation they suffer from a system that showers comfort on the few while sweeping them aside like dead leaves to the periphery.
(Un)fortunately, "We are the many; (you )are the few," goes a song inspired by the Occupy Movement.
If democracy is the rule of the majority, then we have to respect their choices. We keep saying that democracy is the best form of government. Well, in the US, democracy decided that Trump should be President. Those who insist that democracy is the only form of government acceptable in a civilized world must honor the choice of the majority.
But maybe, we need to give democracy a second look.
It seems when capitalism logically advances to its worst anti-poor shape, it negates democracy. Government ceases to be for the people, of the people, by the people. It is for the few, of the few, by the few. The masses can no longer exercise freedom of choice and do not enjoy freedom from want.
So, auspiciously, a dictator must rise to undo the imbalance but not in the fashion of Marcos who became a tyrant to enrich himself and his cronies. This dictator will reverse the wheel to the end that government must make the greater good for the greater number its goal.
Our own Jose Laurel said that the best form of government is an authoritarian regime with an angel on the throne. That angel is biased for the poor and the weak.
Now I am looking for that angel. S/he might be able to show to us that a dictatorship for the poor and marginalized is the true democracy. Why? Access to goods and services gets opened and sustained for the majority who make up the traditionally ignored or forgotten poor.


Now, they blame the 16M who voted for Duterte. They say to us: Putang ina ninyo!
Who made Marcos a hero?
You did, by worshipping at the altar of his anti-poor, pro-oligarch economic policies perpetuated by Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Arroyo, and Noynoy Aquino. You did not protest when Ramos was privatizing public utilities even if you knew this would make life harsher for the poor. You did not protest when Congress authorized foreign plunder of our natural resources. You did not protest when Ramos allowed the oil industry to operate without a leash around its neck controlled by the State.

You did, by keeping quiet when the winter of human rights during Martial Law returned during Arroyo's Reign of Terror. You were apathetic to the thud of falling bodies of more than a thousand activists. You did not even say a word when lawyers and judges were getting killed. You did not say a whimper of protest when people were disappearing just for telling the truth.
You did, by keeping quiet about EJKs during Aquino's time. Indigenous leaders were being killed, disappeared, or tortured for defending their ancestral lands. Environmental defenders were suffering the same fate. Their domains were being militarized and they were being brutalized. You did not mind it when Arroyo and Aquino allowed mining corporations to use the government-paid military to become mining corporations' private security forces to harass indigenous communities. You would not even post a status on Facebook to express solidarity. You posted pictures of your food and travels. You could afford those. Some of you made money to help the corporations abuse indigenous communities and the environment some more. You made money to help companies abuse the rights of workers.
You did, by not speaking out against cronyism after Martial Law. You did not question Kamag-anak, Incorporated, and Kabaralin, Kaklase, at Kaibigan.
You did, by not speaking out against Palparan and his ilk. You did not speak out against the very conditions which made Martial Law a dark period when they resurfaced after the Marcos tyranny.
You did, by condemning the national democratic activists who would take to the streets on a regular basis to expose and reject what is Marcosian in society. You called them public nuisance. You called Renato Jr. Reyes a pest more than once.
You helped make Marcos a hero. Shame on you for doing a Pontius Pilate.
And yes, you made Duterte President. Your endorsement of Marcosian practices made Duterte stand out as the only hope for the poor.
Remove that mote in your eye before you remove the mote in other people's eyes.
This is the time to examine national conscience, not to wash the guilt off your hands.



This is a 'multiple choice' quiz.

1. In the near future, what brand of drones or bombs will be dropped by the US on some Third World Country? 

2. What brand of rubber-stamps will the military industrial complex be using in the White House to destroy world peace?

3. What breed of attack dogs will the US government unleash to try to silence the indigenous Americans from opposing corporate expansion on their sacred grounds?
For each question, there are only two very possible answers to choose from: a) Republican; and b) Democrat.