Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HIGHEST OF HIGH, LOWEST OF LOW: 24 hour ride beginning with CNN hero Efren Peñaflorida and ending with the massacre of 40 people in Maguindanao

By Siesta-friendly

One event bringing pride, the other infamy. Yet both reveal the failure of government to govern.

There would be no need for Efren Peñaflorida’s pushcart education if the economy were stable enough to open up job opportunities providing the ordinary person a decent income, or if funds for education went to the intended beneficiaries, thus preventing millions of aimless street children.

Lawlessness, especially in Maguindanao, would not be widespread if the government even just flexed its muscles in putting people in jail - and letting them stay there - regardless of money, power or influence. Just being strict on firearms could have made a difference.

The Philippines does not want for laws and policies on most anything especially education, and even on political dynasties and private armies. The Philippine Constitution alone provides enough guidelines.

Constitutional Provisions on Education

The word education is probably one of the most-used words in the 1987 Constitution making it probably the most abandoned ideal.

There is even a whole article devoted to education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports beginning with -

“[t]he State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” (Article XIV, Section 1)

Right. Tell that to Efren Peñaflorida’s and his students.

The section on education in fact ends with the provision stating that

“The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education”.

So why are national funds used to pay for debt more than anything else?

With Constitutional support and protection for education, why is there a need – and much acclaim – for Efren Peñaflorida’s pushcart education for street kids?

Constitutional Provisions on Political Dynasties and Private Armies

It is of common knowledge that the Maguindanao massacre was a product of warring political clans. Reports speak of 100 armed men stopping, kidnapping and eventually murdering about 40 people including Vice Mayor Mangudadatu’s clan and lawyers plus about a dozen journalists on a multiple vehicle convoy on their way to the filing of Vice Mayor Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao.

The Mangudadatu’s political rivals are the Ampatuans who control much of Maguindanao. The Ampatuan patriarch is 3-term governor of Maguindanao and his son was poised to replace him in the coming elections. It is the son whom Vice Mayor Mangudadatu was set to challenge.

Political clans such as the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus are allowed to proliferate by the national government because they deliver votes – legitimate or otherwise. Candidates opposing President Arroyo and her ticket have famously gotten 0 votes in many Maguindanao towns during elections.

Yet, the Constitution’s Article II (Declaration Of Principles And State Policies Principles) memorably states that

“The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” (Section 26).

It is more telling that no law implementing this provision has ever been passed (maybe even drafted).

President Arroyo’s political debt for the support of political clans (like the Ampatuans’) is reflected on the impunity given to such clans regardless of their actions, mostly questionably if not downright criminal.

Even as Section 24 of Article XVIII of the Constitution provides that:

“Private armies and other armed groups not recognized by duly constituted authority shall be dismantled. All paramilitary forces including Civilian Home Defense Forces not consistent with the citizen armed force established in this Constitution, shall be dissolved or, where appropriate, converted into the regular force”,

she issued Executive Order 546 (dated July 14, 2006) providing that:

“In the exercise of its responsibility, subject to the concurrence of the appropriate Local Chief Executive through the Local Peace and Order Council, the PNP is hereby authorized to deputize the barangay tanods as force multipliers in the implementation of the peace and order plan in the area.” (Section 2)

How can you prevent local leaders from amassing private armies when you authorize them to do so at the same time?

We can’t wait for Arroyo to leave but she sure makes it hard for us endure our wait. This time, the blood of innocents is on her hands.


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