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I took a drive today Time to emancipate I guess it was the beatings made me wise But I'm not about to give thanks or apologize I couldn't breathe holdin' me down Hand on my face kissin' the ground Enmity gauged united by fear 'Posed to endure what I could not forgive... I seem to look away Wounds in the mirror waved It wasn't my surface most defiled Head at your feet fool to your crown Fist on my plate, swallowed it down Enmity gauged, united by fear Tried to endure what I could not forgive

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    Saturday, December 3, 2005 - Christmas' Crisis
    Posted in Unspecified

    01 december 2005, sampaloc, manila

    As we go on our countdown for the fast-approaching Christmas, we find ourselves totally engrossed in its stupendous and commercialized celebration amid economic and political crisis. The spirit of celebration – giving and receiving, forgiving and forgetting – is hardly felt, seemingly out of sight no matter how frequent we mouth it, as it is simply and mechanically equated to exchange gifts, parties and fireworks. We merely focus on ourselves, on how would we live up to a fabulous and memorable Christmas tradition, unmindful of the fact that half of the world is either dying mercilessly or suffering terribly without tasting Christmas even once in their entire lives.

    As we resume our busy preparation, let us stop for a while and ponder some messages to help us find and feel the spirit of Christmas.

    If you have food, clothes and a home, you are richer than 75% of the world.
    If you have some money in the bank, you are among the 8% of the world’s wealthy.
    If you woke up
    healthy this morning, you are blessed than one million who will not survive this week.
    If you have experienced peace and freedom, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
    If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two million people who cannot read at all.

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    Saturday, November 19, 2005 - Writing 30
    Posted in Unspecified

     

    And now, the newsmakers have taken the headline.

    Sick and tired of her consistent bad image and poor projection, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has resorted to lambasting the media for its espousal to bad boy image. Speaking before seasoned journalists and media practitioners, she lectured them on how to be fair and square in carrying out the five W’s and H of reporting.

    The president’s bitter criticism to media is explicable, especially now that her political survival is on highly dangerous ground. Indeed in her speech, she exhorted the media not to be used as “pawns in political games and destabilization schemes,” but to be messengers of “positive news” about “a nation on the verge of economic takeoff.” She even encouraged it to hook up with her administration in molding the “destiny of this republic for the good of the greater number.”

    The speech is an obvious intrusion to the independence of media. It is reminiscent of the way the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos handled the press – state propagandists. She wants every story to be warped to prop up good image to her constituents, a desperate attempt to cling to power. She coerces the media to close its eyes in pursuit of justice, to keep its mouth shut in accounting the reality. She is muddling up the truth with myth.

    A muzzled press is tantamount to a muzzled public. To deny the press of the fact is to deprive the people of their right to be informed. There can be no press freedom if journalists exist in conditions of fear, threat and violence – conditions that are real and rampant in the country, being perpetrated by those who have the monopoly of gold, goons and guns. Neither can there be genuine democracy in a country whose citizens exist in the same conditions.

    To further seduce the media, Arroyo bragged about her accomplishment in providing an environment decent in validating the calling of journalists – a twist of fact indeed for it is during her presidency that the Philippines was singled out as the most murderous and most dangerous place for media people. She appears to be completely oblivious of the statistics and fashion of killings of journalists, totally ignorant of the fact that cases have been unresolved, that the murderers are all scot-free.

    The president’s intimidation of media, along with her calibrated preemptive response and militarization policies, only bears out that the Arroyo government is now taking up the Marcosian way of holding on to power. It is state terrorism at its best, in the most appalling manner, cowing the people to stand up for their beliefs and conviction and transforming them into mere blind followers. It is the creation of kingdom – or queendom – out of lies, apathy, deceit, dishonesty and injustice. It is reign of terror.

    As Arroyo fritters away no time in making it to the headline, the people, having grown tired of her indifference, incapability and ineffectiveness, have her in the obituary of their hearts and minds. With this another lapse of judgment, her political career is writing 30. #

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    Saturday, November 19, 2005 - A Brazen Act of Violence
    Posted in Unspecified

     

    The twists and turns of events bring the nation back to its darkest days. Already trapped in dire economic woes and political turmoil, it is being dragged along the way of reimposition of Martial Law with the full-scale implementation of the " calibrated preemptive response" (CPR).

    The CPR is Malacanang's solution to the intensifying crisis. In sheer desperation to put the country out of disorder, the government has resorted to use 'muscle' to defeat anyone going against its interests. It has vowed to quash any group that attempts to bring down the Arroyo administration, avowing that it is for the good of the country.

    Unambiguously, this is akin to the toppled Pres. Ferdinand Marcos's brand of leadership. This is a recycled but heightened version of Martial Law - a blatant use of force to oblige the people to rally behind the government.

    Amid the government's claim that it is working within the framework of democracy, the CPR is an obvious suppression of freedom of speech to its truest sense. The suspension of 'maximum tolerance' and the ban of street protests and political activities are as good as the deprivation of people's basic right to stand up for their beliefs and conviction. It is tantamount to the suspension of writ of habeas corpus and the open declaration of martial law.

    In promoting economic and political stability, it glorifies the use of guns and other forms of brutality. It breeds a culture of violence to sow terror to the already traumatized Filipino people. It means loss of lives, harrassment and political repression in the most appalling and scandalous manner, converting the country into a combat zone and killing field.



    Indeed, even before the implementation of the CPR, the Arroyo government has already accumulated a whopping record of human rights violations. In its four years in power, it has turned the country into a slaughter house where killing is common to crop up in the light of the day and the dead of the night. It has mounted up more than 3000 cases of illegal arrests, summary executions, massacres and forced disappearances that involve more than 100,000 victims, surpassing the record set by Marcos during Martial Law.

    With the surfacing of CPR, Filipino people has no guarantee that human rights violations will not be committed. Given the expertise of the present administration to deliberately use gold, goons and guns for the sake of advancing its interests, a blood spill is always a possibility.

    Yet, no matter how the Arroyo government projects itself, the implementation of CPR only bears out its desperation to cling to power. This is a sign of weakness, and not of strength, an indication that it is now trembling to its knees at the sight of the swelling waves of protests capable of overthrowing it from supremacy.


    Armed with the lessons from their bitter experience of the past, the Filipino people know how to deal with this present situation. Having grown tired of the endless economic miseries brought about by the government's neoliberal policies, they understand that the implementation of CPR would only make them more hopeless in their quest for a decent and humane living and a bright future.

    In these times of chronic economic and political crisis, it has become more glaring to them that ousting Arroyo is not just an option but a MUST. In these times of brazen acts of violence, to sit down is to lose the only right left to them.

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    Saturday, November 19, 2005 - Education for Sale
    Posted in Unspecified

    The Further Commodification of Education through GATS
    by DC & KA


    Still suffering from its continuously worsening state, the Philippine education is up for another battle with its inclusion to General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS). In the guise of a corporatized, world-class education, the crisis-ridden education sector has now opened all its way to a free enterprise directly controlled by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    GLOBALIZING EDUCATION<
    "Free trade" in education services has been flourishing since the formal promulgation of GATS in 1994. Education service, a springboard for a more potent free trade, was one of the explicit topics in the international trade meetings that led to the creation of the WTO in 1995.

    Since trade talks spiraled among trading powers prior to WTO's ministerial conference in Seattle, education and other social services were among the extensions of the term of GATS. This round of table talks, however, collapsed due to protests inside and outside the conference.

    In January 2000, new negotiations on GATS were successfully stirred under the "built in" agenda of WTO, which secretly dealt with GATS expansion even without a comprehensive round. As Conceived, GATS is designed to "cover not just cross-border trade but every possible means of supplying a service, including the right to set up a commercial presence in the export market."

    Major proponent of the GATS term expansion is the United States, which clearly stated its goal in purely economic terms: trade barriers bound by internal trade policies encompassing different public services hurt US-led corporations and were therefore barriers to American exports and job creation. It spearheaded a draft to "create conditions favorable to suppliers of higher education, adult education and training services" by "removing and reducing obstacles" - subsidies for higher educational adult education and training, and tax treatment that discriminates foreign suppliers - to transmission of such services across national borders through electronic and physical means, or to the establishment and operation of facilities (i.e. classrooms, schools or offices.)

    Member nations under WTO that adhere to the GATS program abide by two principles: the national treatment principle, which states that members should not discriminate in favor of national providers, and the most-favored nations principle, which states that members should not discriminate between different member nations.

    GATS encompasses a wide array of commitment in education - from preschool to tertiary and vocational educational services. With barriers now scrapped, cross-border supply of a service of a member country to another is now feasible. Students can easily study in another country through the exchage-student system, while education service providers from a country can now set up establishments in another member-nation tax-free. "Home study system," "virtual unversities" and "correspondence schools" are also made possible through GATS.

    Utilizing GATS for greater privatization of the public sector, particularly the education and health, US companies are now smoothly penetrating and monopolizing these services in support of a galvanized foreign education and easy workforce. Reportedly, US generated $6.6 B trade surplus in its educational and training services export sector in 1996.


    UNEDUCATING AND MISEDUCATING EDUCATION
    Constantly in need of a sufficient budget, Philippine education is vulnerable to the promises of GATS. With past and present administrations always doling out meaget budgets, the education sector is being pushed for a greater funding from private resources.

    Since 1998, 154 state-funded schools have already closed down due to insufficient budget. Facing extinction, many public schools have either merged with other institutions or have engaged in tie-ups with private corporations.

    These circumstances are along the line of GATS. Adhering to this neoliberal prescription, the government has ensured that education policies are working within the bounds of privatization, liberalization and deregulation, which are the focal points of GATS. In Long-Term Higher Education Development Plan, for instance, the government forces 70 percent of State Universities and Colleges to privatize by 2010.

    While GATS assures a globally-attuned education, it does not ensure a better education and a bright future for the Filipino youth. In fact, since the implementation of GATS, the education has become more elusive to many Filipino youth.

    Liberalization and deregulation under GATS give pretext for schools to raise tuition and other miscellaneous fees almost three-folds annually. Privatization of many public schools drive students to leave their classrooms. Already, 74 percent have dropped out this year because education has become out of reach to them.

    Under the "borderless education, knowledge economy and level playing field competition," foreign and local corporations are freely entering and filling in the meager budget of schools, as in the case of the University of the Philippines-Ayala Corporations tie-up. Yet, this only makes the schools susceptible to the control and dictate of the private corporations, if not fully corporatized.

    The intensification of the commercialization of education shows that the government is taking its hands off in providing a decent and accessible education for the people. Within the framework of GATS, education has already ceased to become a right; it has turned into a commodity only the affluent few can afford. This is in blatant contrast with Article 26 of the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights which states that "access to higher education is a right."

    As in the Revised Basic Education Curriculum, GATS has also impelled a bold change in the curricula and courses -- now designed according to the standards and demands of the global market. This results in the strengthening of the colonial character of the Philippine education, primarily serving the interests of other countries instead of ours.

    Caregiving, vocational and technical curricula and courses are also encouraged with the labor export in demand to the global arena. These institutions train the youth not to become leaders or managers but to be docile, semi-skilled workers who are submissive and passive to exploitation in foreign lands.


    REAL MOTIVE
    The implementation of GATS in recent years proves that it does not work in the concrete condition of our society. It has failed to uplift the dismal state of education, but has rather worsened the vicious cycle of crisis of education.

    Unambiguously, GATS is not responsive to the needs of the people and the country. It has produced 'modern-day slaves' by uneducating and miseducating the Filipino youth.

    By intensifying privatization, liberalization and deregulation in education, GATS has only benefited and has strengthened the power of the capitalist-educators and private corporations who are hell-bent in making more money out of education. Clearly, globalization of education is not about the exchange of learning between countries but of capital, of making profit by commodifying education.

    Unless GATS is discarded, the colonial and commerialized state of education will still abound. And in the upcoming WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong this December, the Filipino youth can expect no less but a bleaker future.*

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