Feb 262013


Volume No. 8

January, 2003




A New Year usually starts with a high degree of optimism and hope. Not so for the year 2003.

For as we usher in a new year, war drums and war preparations by the United States against Iraq are making war almost imminent. At home, the government’s peace talks with the National Democratic Front(NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front(MILF) have virtually collapsed since the Arroyo government has piggybacked on the Bush campaign to declare these groups as “terrorist”. It is such a bleak beginning.

But with fellow peace advocates like Kate, Reinier, Shelley working with me at Yonip.com, as well as  others in the Gathering for Peace, People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up and Asian Peace Alliance, I can always hope and maintain sustained optimism for the future of this planet.

This first day of the New Year, 2003, I was invited by the ABS-CBN News Channel(ANC) , Channel 31, 9-10AM to share my thoughts and reflections on “World Peace”. Here are SEVEN RESOLUTIONS FOR WORLD PEACE AND GOOD GOVERNANCE that I shared to the world on this first day of the year.

1. Strengthen nationalism, social responsibility and community consciousness rather than individualism and self-centeredness;       

2. Inspire humility and less sectarianism rather than conceit or political partisanship for principled national unity;       

3. Dialogue and non-violence in the pursuit of social, economic and political reforms rather than threats and local or foreign-assisted militarist solutions;       

4. Justice and reconciliation rather than revenge and confrontation;      

5. Strengthen the national economy and local industry to create more local jobs rather than foreign-dictated policies that expand foreign capital and market foreign goods locally;      

6. Resolve root causes of social conflict, rather than relying on palliatives against symptoms through military solutions; and       

7. Focus on critical basic social services(i.e. health, education, housing) for the poor majority rather than unproductive military expenditures or debt servicing.

The people of the world, together with the peace-loving American people, must avert war , especially the kind of “preventive war” that the United States government is now trying to ignite. As Pope John Paul II in his recent Christmas message said, “This preventive war (advocated by Bush) is an act of aggression.”

Questions and Answers on Current Issues

1. HOW DO WE ASSESS THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO NOT TO RUN IN 2004? On one hand, it is a good starting point for the new year(2003) so that the Arroyo administration can really buckle down to work to improve the economy. Since the day that it took over from the Estrada presidency, Arroyo has engaged in cheap gimmicks and image-building,such as her ‘Men in Black’ photo sessions and personally presenting to the media every suspected criminal that our law enforcement agencies have apprehended. These, however, have backfired on her administration, and has in fact made her a political pygmy of some sort as reflected in the latest public opinion surveys showing President Arroyo being ranked No. 4 if presidential elections were held today. In short, the general perception is that her administration is just engaged in political gimmickry to enhance her chances of winning the presidential elections in 2004. Of course, she has also been pulled down by the highly publicized reports of anomalies involving some of her cabinet members, including those linking the first gentleman, Mr. Mike Arroyo.

But the problem really is credibility. If she was leading in recent opinion poll surveys, it would be a great sacrifice for her not to run in 2004. Is she really giving up so much when she is not even anymore a serious presidential timber, but a political pygmy even to her ruling political party, the Lakas-NUCD which she heads? In 2000 when, as vice president she became the constitutional successor to deposed president Estrada, she vowed that no close relative of hers including her son, would be allowed to run for public office. Then, when elections came, her son was included in the slate for Vice Governor of Pampanga with the full backing of Arroyo’s political party machinery, an election which his son handily won. Actions like these speak louder than words!

2. WHAT ABOUT THE HIGHLY-PUBLICIZED SUGGESTION OF HOUSE SPEAKER JOSE DE VENECIA TO FORM A GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY THAT WOULD INVITE LEADERS OF REBEL GROUPS LIKE JOSE MA. SISON AND HASHIM SALAMAT INTO THE CABINET? These are laughable suggestions, at least for genuine leaders of the people. They are measures to coopt or even bribe with positions of power and privilege principled leaders of people’s movements, tactics which have been utilized since the Spanish, American and Japanese colonization of the Philippines. In those days, our colonizers bribed weakling resistance leaders with local positions of political power so they could be used against their own people resisting colonization.

If the Arroyo government were really serious about renewing itself, then it should integrate into its national agenda pro-poor and pro-sovereignty programs and implement these with priority budgets to assure their realization. People’s movements as well as revolutionary movements are not struggling and sacrificing just so that certain leaders will get positions of power without altering priorities or reforming the system.

A good start would be for the Philippine government to implement the pro-peace provisions of the Philippine constitution by not supporting Bush’s war preparations against Iraq and instead work for peaceful negotiations towards disarmament. Arroyo can also begin a renewal by asking her supporters in Congress to put their budgetary priorities on the vital basic social services like health, education and housing for the poor, instead of the military, police and intelligence budgets.

This is just to remind us that so long as the root of grave social inequalities are unresolved, rebellion and uprising will remain an attractive option to the unfree and the poor.
January 1, 2003

* Article by Roland G Simbulan – For a full professional background of Professor Roland G. Simbulan (Click Here)


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