Empowerment against Sexual Assault

One of the issues I really feel strongly about is sexual assault against females.

What concerns me the most about it is not just its prevalence in society around the globe. What concerns me most is that female sexual assault victims are blamed or looked down upon because of the way they dress, carry themselves or where they work, when it fact, a woman’s clothing, job nor demeanor does not matter for someone who wants to be sexually assaulted. No female ever “asks for it”.
Advocacy - Anti-Sexual Assault

Image Source: safercampus tumblr 

There are many ways on how a woman may prevent herself from being sexually assaulted. She may choose to dress modestly, take up a high-paying white-collar job rather than be a model and go to parties less, and get drunk less – and when she does go out, she may surround herself with many friends. She may also take up self-defense classes so that she can combat men or anyone who has that intent of sexually assaulting her. She may join the anti-sexual movement and educate herself on the issue itself. But even if many women or even all women empower themselves emotionally, physically and mentally, the intent to sexually assault still remains.
And that’s why I think that it’s very important to educate everyone about sexually assault to lessen the prejudices stemming from our masculine society and more importantly, lessen their occurrences to the point that they diminish. The first that we have to really educate are our boys and men. There’s this quote that goes like this, which I agree to wholeheartedly:

Advocacy - Teach Our Sons to Be Decent Men

Basically, apart from empowering females as a whole here in the Philippines, we have to teach our boys and men to respect girls and women. We also have to teach everyone to be more open-minded about the choices of others in terms of clothing, work and career and demeanor and not discriminate according to those choices.

If we educate, open minds and empower everyone – men and women, straight or from the LGBTQA community, then our society will be a much friendlier and safer place to live in.

Million People March at Ayala

Million People March 2

Right now, there is a discussion on the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), prompted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “revelation” about lawmakers who received money after voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacanang defended the allocation of such money, saying that they were released under what is called the Disbursement Allocation Program. While this “revelation” is significant as it shows the government’s larger system of spoils, this also seems like a blatant diversion to the PDAF scam. Estrada aimed to divert people’s attention away from the PDAF scam and his friends Bong Revilla, Johnny Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles, by making known the DAP scam. But it’s not making him look better, because he was also involved in it. He has placed himself in so much hot water, that he will come out deep-fried.

Anyway, why I am putting this issue again to the fore? Because for the nth time, I would want our government to know that we ARE watching and NOT stopping. I want people to not forget. The Philippine panopticon is working better and clearer upside down, contrast to the way its windows were fogged because of ultra-low temperature air-conditioning when it was standing upright. Our lawmakers used to not mind us the middle class – they couldn’t see through the fog that covered them and their corrupt ways. Now that they can see us, they are minding us, fearing and trying to hide from us.

The next rally that we will be having will be tomorrow, October 4, 2013, in Ayala Avenue, in Makati, from 5:30 pm onwards. It’s the second Million People March. Makati is the biggest business district Metro Manila, so I expect to see employees and big business leaders gather to listen to the concrete calls to action that will be laid out. In all of the Philippines’ people power history, this might be the most unromanticized one, and most productive just yet because it will have objective follow-throughs, not bent on exacting revenge on anyone, but real change in the system. Just like any business proposal that has been approved, the anti-PDAF movement will finally have a to-do list in order to reach its goals.

This is a good political exercise, because it shows the people’s propensity now to engage, not just with civil society groups, but private individuals who want change. It’s something monumental, and because of this, I hope all of us who can, would join.

Building More Trust in Nonprofits in the Pork Barrel Scam Aftermath

Nonprofits

Since my university days, I have worked for development. Though I am not formally learned about the field, it is something that I have been exposed to so much, that it was the nonprofits that I first thought of and worried about when the pork barrel scam first broke out.

The number of legit nonprofits in the Philippines is large, and this counts both those that belong to a global network, and those that are local. Operation Smile, Childfund and World Wildlife Fund are just a few of those that are international but have local offices. Philippine Business for Education, Education Network (E-Net), Synergeia, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, Probe Productions’ Mulat Pinoy, Diksyunaryo Atbp., and Kanlungan Pilipinas are just some of the hundreds of legit nonprofits that have programs that seek to address issues in education, health and social issues in general.

Since the scam broke out, the government has decided to ban funding nonprofits. People have been more wary of giving for fear that their donations will go to the wrong hands. From what I see, international and local funding agencies might increase their parameters on giving. Because of the pork barrel scam, these legit nonprofits are being negatively affected. There is a loss of trust not just in the government but also partly in this part of civil society. This is something that is problematic for the development sector, which finds it hard to access funding, even prior to the scam. The coexistence of bogus nonprofits have made things difficult for the legit ones in the years preceding this scam, and even more now. I remember seeing a post on social media asking for donations for victims in the Zamboanga armed conflict, and every one of those who commented criticized the foundation, saying immediately that it was bogus. And the group ridiculed is a globally-affiliated Buddhist faith-based foundation that people are harping on. Sad.

But all is not lost. Definitely!

Now how should legit nonprofits address this? Should they wave signs saying “We are legit! Please donate!”? No, because that would be a hard sell. Many nonprofits already suffer from looking like hard sellers. However, the good thing is that legit nonprofits are largely engaging in nature and have already been building trust with the public. Their programs are promoted through quad media, and financial reports are made available to their members, and for some, even to the public. Given that they are already transparent, then what I think has to be done, is to make themselves even more transparent through the proper utilization of social media and even traditional media, and encourage people more to volunteer in their programs in order to see what they are doing.

The Zamboanga Crisis: Diversion Tactic or Not?

So many times we Filipinos have been subject to “diversionary tactics” in the past that certain problems now, though real, are thought of nothing more than a theatrical act. I’m speaking in terms of two political issues plaguing our country – the pork barrel scam and the Zamboanga armed conflict.

Let’s say the Zamboanga armed conflict is a diversion orchestrated by the government from the pork barrel scam. It is a weak one then, since the situation itself has lead people back to thinking about the scam – “If not for the monies stolen from the nation, our military would have the resources to defeat the rebels”. On the other hand we could think, if not for the Zamboanga armed conflict, then the president and the Department of Justice would have prohibited the exit of some of the accused through judicial orders, including Representative Rodolfo Plaza, and Atty. Gigi Reyes. But then again, crisis or not, the administration would still be soft, given the fact that some of their allies are involved in the scam itself.

So, the Zamboanga armed conflict is real and not an orchestrated diversionary tactic. The government does not need it to protect the accused, because they have been defended from the start. If not for Benhur Luy, then nothing would have happened, and the administration would still be issuing a budget for the PDAF, including their allies involved in the scam. They struck strategically, when the government is the weakest and committed to another issue. Given that these two issues simultaneously occurring, the government must strengthen itself and address both issues at the same time. We are watching you deal with these two issues.

Just to give a background, the Zamboanga armed conflict is said to be the result of Nur Misuari’s disappointment over the 2012 Bangsamoro Framework Agreement (which you can read more about here), from which his group, the Moro National Liberation Front, was left out. Only the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was recognized. In other words, it is a classic case of obscuring and failing to make policy inclusive, which lead the excluded faction to rebel. I admit I wasn’t looking and I guess many of us didn’t care until this happened. So now, we owe it to our brothers and sisters in Mindanao to ensure that they live in a peaceful and democratic society by making sure that the government would be more careful, inclusive and engaging in the future policy and governance processes that they will embark on, after the crisis. Meanwhile, we can donate and help them through the following networks (I know it’s hard to trust now because of the pork barrel scam, but again, the armed conflict is real and hurting our fellowmen and women, so let’s help):

AdZU

Tzu Chi Foundation

Update! Here are more ways you can give to the Zamboanguenos: (Updated 25 September 2013):

Z crisis donations PH Red Cross-Red Crescent 1

Z crisis donations Ateneo 2

“Freedom!”

My favorite song from the musical, “Les Miserables” is “Do You Hear the People Sing?”. I was delighted to find a Tagalog version of the song, penned by Youtube member dmmsanjuan:

Here are the lyrics:

Do You Hear The People Sing? (Tagalog version)
O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ikaw ba’y papanig na
Sa bayan na nagkaisa
Sa gitna nitong dilim
Liwanag ba’y iyong hiling
Kaya’t tayo na, humayo patungo sa paglaya!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

Ibibigay ba ang lahat
Nang adhika’y maging ganap
Mayro’ng mapapaslang
Makibaka’y tila sugal
Dugo ng martir
Ang sa lupa’y didilig!

O naririnig mo ba
Ang tinig ng sambayanan
Himig at musika ng bayan
na ngayo’y nanindigan
Puso ay pumipintig
Nagliliyab ang damdamin
Bagong umaga
Ang sa ati’y darating!

The song is apt as several of its lines speak about the people’s anger against widespread corruption in the government. Yesterday, two rallies occurred – a prayer rally at EDSA, and a rally lead by the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and Miriam College along Katipunan Avenue aptly called “Katipunan Kontra Korupsyon”. Interestingly, I was wearing white but not on purpose (white is the color of the anti-pork barrel scam movement).

A few of the people I’ve met from the disciplines of political science and public governance have stated that if the Freedom of Information Bill was passed into law years back, then this would not have happened. 10 Billion Philippine Pesos have already been spent on making the oligarchs rich. For this it’s high time to pass the Freedom of Information bill. I first learned about the bill four years ago when I worked as a volunteer for Transparency and Accountability Network.  It was conceived almost twenty years ago and continues to languish. To read more about it, click here.

The reason why I’m writing this, is because of its significance in changing our government’s ways. I do not see the immediate and total abolition of the pork barrel by 2014, but I am hopeful. And as they are working towards abolishing it, then we must have concrete provisions that will allow us to see how the judiciary, legislative and executive (especially its agencies whom I hope will handle the budget for the different services) spend the appropriated money. This is my tax. This is your tax. To foreigners reading this – heck this is your Filipino friends’ and relatives’ taxes! We all deserve to know better, and the only real way to do this legally, is to pass the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With better budget appropriations, and this law, we will achieve a genuine sense of freedom, which we’ve long fought for.

Also, there is another rally in Luneta tomorrow:

rock and rage against pork

Until the government budges, we will not stop shoving them to the straight path they vowed to lead us to.

Right to Know, RIght Now! Scrap Pork Barrel!

Why Political Loyalism is Problematic

“If not for [personality], we wouldn’t have [public works/public services]”.

“If [personality] was the one in office, we wouldn’t have these problems, or he/she would address these problems better.”

I have heard of these arguments so many times. And I’m getting sick of it.

What makes political loyalism so problematic is that it perpetuates patron-client relations, dynasties and dependency. Because of personalistic ties, unjust practices or decisions are justified, glossed over or forgotten. Dynasties thrive when people elect more members from a certain known family based on the belief that they inherited their accomplished predecessors’ ability to govern and/or ability to provide and whatever legacy they left. Dependency occurs when people believe that once a person or a family is in office, their basic needs are taken care of, as well as their other expenses such as baptisms and funerals. As more constituents become indebted on them, and more people become indebted to them for giving them a job at the municipal office, political figures vie for political office, or assign their family members to run again and again. While some families do get the work done (the Dutertes, albeit in a very different way), many more others don’t.

Political loyalism also perpetuates unmerited hate or criticism towards other parties. For example, if you are a Marcos loyalist, you will never believe in an Aquino’s ability to implement livelihood projects, as Ninoy just talked a lot and Cory was not a good implementer. If you are a Corista, you will never believe that a Marcos has the right to advocate against politics in the Philippine Arts, because their father went against progressive politics.

Political loyalism also exalts normal work responsibilities. Political figures are applauded for building bridges, for lighting barrios and for other things that are naturally in their list of to-dos. It is like giving a standing ovation for an accountant who balanced the figures for a project’s expense, or for a janitor who rendered a public bathroom spotless. I understand the need to recognize political figures who have implemented excellent governance practices in place of systems and procedures that don’t work anymore, but not to the point of deifying them.

Lastly, political loyalism disallows for the democratization of public governance. Due to loyalism, people only recognize the legitimacy and ability of a few to govern, and vote for the same people, giving less or no chance to new entrants and new systems. Loyalism is also made as basis for a person’s appointment into an executive agency rather than merit.

Many people, even highly educated ones have the tendency to be loyalists to a political figure or family. And so even if many of them want systemic change, it would be hard to have that given that they contribute to the stagnation of the system.

In order for systemic change to occur, people must learn to let go of even the finest and weakest strands of loyalism they have for whomever in assessing political challenges and work as a person, or as a part of a community to make change.  Not one person nor family nor party can make the Philippines a better place.  All of us should act hand-in-hand.

The Philippines’ Million People March

It has almost been a week since the Million People March in Luneta, here in Manila in the Philippines. The Million People March took its name from the 1995 Million Man March movement that fought for African-Americans’ civil rights.  The Million People March was prompted by the widespread anger against the intricate system of corruption … Continue reading

The Filipino is Worth Being Great For.

Ninoy Aquino

Ninoy,

Ang alaala ng iyong buhay, mga salita at iyong pagkamatay ang nag-uudyok muli sa marami sa amin na tumayo at lumaban sa mga pwersang mapagsamantala mula sa pamahalaan, lalung-lalo na ang mga senador at kongresistang nagnanakaw ng bilyung-bilyong salaping mula sa kaban ng bayan, na sana’y napupunta sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno para sa mga mahihirap, para sa pamamahala laban sa sakuna tulad ng mga bagyo’t habagat.

image

Ang iyong paninindigan noon laban sa pang-aapi ng isang dinastiya, ay ang aming paninindigan ngayon laban sa mga mapangahas na paraan ng pagnanakaw ng hindi lamang isang politiko o dinastiya, ngunit maraming politiko’t dinastiya.

image

Ang iyong paninindigan noon para sa iyong kapwa Pilipino, ay ang aming paninindigan ngayon para sa aming kapwa Pilipino. Nagtutulungan kami ngayon upang sabay-sabay kaming makaahon mula sa baha at makabangon mula sa sakuna.

image

Hindi nasayang ang iyong mga salita at turo sa amin, Ninoy. The Filipino is worth living for, is worth saving for, is worth fighting for against dogmatic oppression and corruption, and is worth dying for. Whatever legacy that you and the other heroes left is still very much alive and is being continued. Hindi ka man gusto ng ibang tao, ginugusto naman nila ang ginusto mo, at iyon ang isang mas magandang Pilipinas para sa mga Pilipino. For this, we will fight for what’s right until we see what you wanted us to see, that is, a true democracy.

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