Potted plants, Alamuddin, and The Blacklist

My thoughts on recent events:

1.  Philippines-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).  President Obama was welcomed in classic Filipino hospitality – the whole “barangay” in tow – and with lush backgrounds of local greens to boot.  My mother’s not too keen about the greenery – she thought it was a bit overdone, as if the designer wanted to bring the whole Philippine forest into the halls, and that it swamped the two Presidents on stage.  In defense of the designer, I said, maybe they just want to reiterate the fact that we are in the tropics and anyway it’s a very hot day.  My father laughed.  I wasn’t sure if it was because of the lush backgrounds or at our comments.

Several days after that, Twitterland was abuzz with Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  I watched the replay and nearly choked on my food when the President called in two men who then placed potted plants on either side of him. It was supposedly the new Presidential set up.  I don’t know what that meant but I thought it was the take-away from his visit here. Indoor plants help clear the air, you know?

But seriously.  The morning before President Obama’s arrival, representatives of the Philippines and US Governments signed the EDCA. Supposedly the gesture was a gift to Obama.  The gift as we know was followed through with the tropical forest background welcome.  But after Obama’s departure, and the forest props were, I imagined, thrown away, people were suddenly on the offensive.  The party list, Bayan Muna, said it would bring a case to the international court because EDCA violates human rights.

I say, please, people, make up your minds about the US. If you hate the US so much then don’t ever get a green card, or send your children to universities there, or visit Disneyland, or shop at plush stores there, or watch Hollywood movies, or run to it to hide when the authorities are hot on your trail, or invest and buy assets there, or move Americans up to the front of the queue.  As for the claim that American servicemen stationed at the US military bases here were the cause of prostitution, the statement is racist and irrelevant to the business of prostitution; because, prostitution, before and after the US military bases, has thrived and it’s base clientele are locals.  As for the claim that rape of local women will happen with the presence of American servicemen, the statement is, again, racist and irrelevant; because, with or without American servicemen around, the rape of local women (and boys, as well) is a continuing reality committed by local men.  As for US imperialism in the Philippines, it is my stand that, in comparison, Rizal was put to death by the Spaniards and that centuries after his death we’re still stuck in the mindset and ways of that time.  It is but just to acknowledge that if not for the US this country may have been obliterated during WWII and that our sewerage systems now are still the ones built by the Americans during that period.  We haven’t even bothered to build new ones. And look, after we decided to let the US military bases go, did we work on building up our own military assets?

These are facts.  If for anything we’re in an embarrassing situation wherein we have to rely on others as a result of having been incapable of taking care of our own selves.  The fact that EDCA was signed prior to any Congress hearing says so much about our wishy-washy-ness, even with regard to national security, and that now after the alliance was signed Congress wants to deliberate on it?

2.  The right of former President GMA (and others) to speedy trial.  The verdict for Oscar Pistorius would soon be given out.  But look at GMA, pork barrel scammers from the Senate and Congress, Janet Napoles, suspects in the massacre of journalists in Maguindanao, and all languishing others with similar fate.  The right to speedy trial is a lesson in Law 101.  Senator Enrile knows this as all other lawyers defending their clients.  They don’t have to learn it from Amal Alamuddin.

this guarantee can be attributable to reasons which have to do with the rights of and infliction of harms to both defendants and society. The provision is “an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial, to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibility that long delay will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself.” The passage of time alone may lead to the loss of witnesses through death or other reasons and the blurring of memories of available witnesses.

But on the other hand, “there is a societal interest in providing a speedy trial which exists separate from and at times in opposition to the interests of the accused.” Persons in jail must be supported at considerable public expense and often families must be assisted as well. Persons free in the community may commit other crimes, may be tempted over a lengthening period of time to “jump” bail, and may be able to use the backlog of cases to engage in plea bargaining for charges or sentences which do not give society justice. And delay often retards the deterrent and rehabilitative effects of the criminal law. – Cornell University Law School

This country’s justice system, in this I also include the accused and their lawyers, is often criticized as dysfunctional (which is why there’s a move to reform it) in that the accused, as for example, GMA and the pork barrel scammers, also play along in order to take advantage of the dysfunction.  By playing along, they “escape” scrutiny and most probably jail time; hospital arrest, in five-star-like rooms, is far better than the humiliation and despair of the prison cell.  GMA is not a political prisoner (in fact she’s presently a member of Congress), and the cases against her involve corruption of public money and rigging of election results.  So, Alamuddin, by taking on GMA, is in fact doing a good turn for this country because the quicker GMA’s cases are put to trial the sooner GMA and the nation she once led will have a closure.

3.  The Napoles List.  We now have our own official The Blacklist, Pinoy style.  And none other than Janet Napoles is the Pinoy and female version of James Spader’s enigmatic but ruthless character, Red Reddington.  Spader, commenting on his character’s blacklist, said the list could contain anybody and be as long as anybody’s guess.  My, my.  Feefifofum. Twiddledeetwiddledum. Who’s Berlin though in this case? The authorities here are definitely getting a low down on originality on this one. Hopefully, they won’t stretch trial of the pork barrel scammers into season five.

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