Watch the sky

There were already gunshots hours before the mountain fell. The sentries say they fired into the air again and again – a warning to the villagers to run, as small rocks and soil began to slide.

The landslide occurred at three in the morning at the hilly portion of Sitio Uno to Sitio 700, a gold-panning area situated in Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. “Said incident,” according to the Jan. 14 report signed by Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, “occurred due to continuous rains in recent days. Dozens were buried alive while several shanties made with light materials were wiped out.”
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Feb 25, 2012 under Opinions, People | no comment

The Corona

In the room where the chief of the truth is to be tried, the chairs are blue, the air blasts cold, and grim-faced Senate employees stalk between gallery rows to tap the shoulders of the sleeping public interest. This is where the pompous pontificate and the howling is hysterical, and if the howlers wear robes instead of overused suits, it is an acceptable sideshow to the circus of the surreal. The respondent, one Renato Corona, is given the gift of prosecutors so oddly incompetent that judges scramble to take their places. The 45 pieces of property allegedly undeclared by Chief Justice Corona is reduced to maybe 20, to maybe five, to maybe it was someone else who said 45. Documents of bank accounts appear magically under garage doors, and along Senate hallways wearing cloaks of invisibility.

The President of the Republic claims there is nothing personal in his crusade against Corona. He is fighting for justice, and because he seeks enormous changes, it is only natural that his enemy is a juggernaut. A blindfolded woman carrying scales, he says, symbolizes justice. Our duty, says Benigno Aquino III, son of saints and heroes, is to return the blindfold to Lady Justice and once again balance the scales.
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Feb 18, 2012 under Opinions, People | 4 comments

Empty houses

I write this one Saturday in February, on a week when the crime stories have forced their way into the daily seven-o’clock newscasts in spite of the impeachment of the Chief Justice. This is Manila, where priests promise love and success and jobs overseas to the souls who touch the cross of the Black Nazarene.

The sun burns hot here, melts the skin off electric posts and strikes bright white against steel. A man runs over his girl, smashes into her standing body, then stabs her with a knife and runs over her again. A 16-year-old girl is raped and killed by teenage boys, and they smile for the cameras from behind bars. In the country’s premiere university, a graduating student is assaulted by robbers in the student council office, her skull fractured by a trophy slammed against her head.
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Feb 4, 2012 under People | no comment

The flexible Mr. Tupas

Let us assume the prosecution is correct. The respondent, one Renato Corona, is a scoundrel.

He is unethical, arrogant and ruthless. He manipulates the law to allow his patrons their crimes. He squanders public funds and condones deceit. His judgment can be bent in favor of his own interests. He is a man who trades favors for power, who refuses accountability and schemes against his colleagues, while enriching himself and his family with the spoils of his position. He has violated the highest laws with intent and purpose. He is incompetent. He is biased. He is neither fair nor just. His crimes are legion; his power is great.
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Jan 28, 2012 under People | no comment

The General

I was a soldier, not by choice but by circumstances. My father was a soldier. I really wanted to be a lawyer. When I was in Leyte, it was the lawyers who became politicians. Maybe at that time I already have a liking for leadership, because I appreciated this one powerful politician. He was campaigning in our barrio, and he had followers, and he was in charge, and people listened to him. So as a young, very young boy, Grade 1, Grade 2, I admired him. People listened to him.
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Jul 23, 2011 under People | 1 comment

Jonas Burgos, 41

Edita Burgos is going to court. There is a ruffle of white lace at her throat. The cap of dark hair is the same, the black jacket and fading slacks the same. She sits quietly, smiling and nodding at the newcomers who come to offer their support. She has the complaint in a folder, along with a cover letter addressed to the prosecutor general.

“It is therefore with a ray of hope that I am herewith filing my Affidavit Complaint,” reads her letter, “for the violation of Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code (Arbitrary Detention) or possibly murder, in the enforced disappearance of my son.”
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Jun 11, 2011 under People | 3 comments

Codename Hero

The story is told that he could walk without leaving a single footprint.

The military men called him a renegade. His people called him a hero. After Mexican troops massacred his family, he eluded capture for decades, resisting colonization, demanding his people’s freedom, disappearing into his beloved Sierra Madres even as 5,000 American soldiers thundered in pursuit. His small band of warriors stood as the last line of Apache resistance against white America. His name was legend long before he surrendered in 1886. They called him Geronimo.
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May 8, 2011 under Opinions, People | no comment