What it takes to become a republic

The Filipino has this attitude of making light of every single thing, joking about everything even serious and grave matters. You could witness this in a funeral vigil. There’s always laughter in there somehow. Well, Haiyan was no joke. A republic running on drug money is no laughing matter either. Nothing is as clear then than that, in a republic, anybody who wants to run the country on drug money is the enemy of the citizens.

I was in Panguil Bay a few days before the weekend when the incident with the late Ozamiz City Mayor happened. Ozamiz City from where I was at the time is only a 15-minute ferry ride across the Bay. The City is the stuff of legend according to both insiders and outsiders from the towns on the other side of the Bay. Ozamiz City is supposedly the Sherwood Forest to “Robin Good and his merry men”. But that, in a sudden reversal of fortune, now looks like it’s going to be “the forty thieves” minus Ali Baba.

The closest analogy to this event can be likened to the case for risk reduction measures in natural disasters. For example, we know there’s going to be “the big one” but if all we do is worry about it happening… could worrying save us? Action is what’s needed to be prepared for and the risks of a megaton earthquake reduced.

So yes in this war against drugs everybody had been given early warning. How many times have we heard “do not do it!” over broadcast media? Is the message too difficult to comprehend? I guess it truly “is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”.

Local politics is oiled by incredibly unbelievable negotiations and settlements even between and amongst enemies, one of the more famous ones was the arranged marriage of Dimaporo and Quibranza, once bitter enemies, touted to have “healed (the) relationship” between these two political clans, that the thinking has become everything including personal happiness therefore freedom is negotiable. That has been the case for a long time not only in Mindanao which is why this country fails to take off as a republic again and again.

saltwater cure for anything

Sustainable security

The sustainable security of states can only be based on the security of people: their physical safety; their socio-economic well-being; respect for their dignity and political and cultural identity as individuals and as members of communities; gender equality; and the protection and promotion of all human rights – including women’s rights – and fundamental freedoms in the home, in the community, in their country and in the wider world.

Agents for Change: Civil Society Roles in Preventing War & Building Peace, Catherine Barnes, European Centre for Conflict Prevention

confucius on simplicity

Confucius says… simplicity

In an earlier article, I briefly mentioned about Church leaders’ absolute rejection of the use of birth control methods that in effect stands in the way of citizens’ civic responsibility. In this article, I’m adding to this topic by mentioning another issue that’s disallowed by Church leaders:  Divorce. Church leaders’ absolutist stand against divorce when they are fully aware of it’s impact particularly on already disintegrated families is just plain cruelty. Why should Church leaders dictate on your personal right to an openly happy and fulfilling life?

Divorce is again being revived by women’s party lists and as to how to re-frame this divisive topic, perhaps we should look to Presidential Decree 1083 (signed 1977) also known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines (yes, there is such a Code!) specifically on the provisions for divorce or talaq may help, viz.

Section 1. Nature and Form

Article 45. Definition and forms. Divorce is the formal dissolution of the marriage bond in accordance with this Code to be granted only after the exhaustion of all possible means of reconciliation between the spouses. It may be effected by:

(a) Repudiation of the wife by the husband (talaq);

(b) Vow of continence by the husband (ila);

(c) Injurious assanilation of the wife by the husband (zihar);

(d) Acts of imprecation (li’an);

(e) Redemption by the wife (khul’);

(f) Exercise by the wife of the delegated right to repudiate (tafwld); or

(g) Judicial decree (faskh).

Article 46. Divorce by talaq.

(1) A divorce by talaq may be affected by the husband in a single repudiation of his wife during her non-menstrual period (tuhr) within which he has totally abstained from carnal relation with her. Any number of repudiations made during one tuhr shall constitute only one repudiation and shall become irrevocable after the expiration of the prescribed ‘idda.

(2) A husband who repudiates his wife, either for the first or second time, shall have the right to take her back (ruju) within the prescribed ‘idda by resumption of cohabitation without need of a new contract of marriage. Should he fail to do so, the repudiation shall become irrevocable (Talaq bain sugra).

Article 47. Divorce by Ila. Where a husband makes a vow to abstain from any carnal relations (ila) with his wife and keeps such ila for a period of not less than four months, she may be granted a decree of divorce by the court after due notice and hearing.

Article 48. Divorce by zihar. Where the husband has injuriously assimilated (zihar) his wife to any of his relatives within the prohibited degrees of marriage, they shall mutually refrain from having carnal relation until he shall have performed the prescribed expiation. The wife may ask the court to require her husband to perform the expiationor to pronounce the a regular talaq should he fail or refuse to do so, without prejudice to her right of seeking other appropriate remedies.

Article 49. Divorce by li’an. Where the husband accuses his wife in court of adultery, a decree of perpetual divorce may be granted by the court after due hearing and after the parties shall have performed the prescribed acts of imprecation (li’an).

Article 50. Divorce by khul’. The wife may, after having offered to return or renounce her dower or to pay any other lawful consideration for her release (khul’) from the marriage bond, petition the court for divorce. The court shall, in meritorious cases and after fixing the consideration, issue the corresponding decree.

Article 51. Divorce by tafwid. If the husband has delegated (tafwid) to the wife the right to effect a talaq at the time of the celebration of the marriage or thereafter, she may repudiate the marriage and the repudiation would have the same effect as if it were pronounced by the husband himself.

Article 52. Divorce by faskh. The court may, upon petition of the wife, decree a divorce by faskh on any of the following grounds :

(a) Neglect or failure of the husband to provide support for the family for at least six consecutive months;

(b) Conviction of the husband by final judgment sentencing him to imprisonment for at least one year;

(c) Failure of the husband to perform for six months without reasonable cause his marital obligation in accordance with this code;

(d) Impotency of the husband;

(e) Insanity or affliction of the husband with an incurable disease which would make the continuance of the marriage relationship injurious to the family;

(f) Unusual cruelty of the husband as defined under the next succeeding article; or

(g) Any other cause recognized under Muslim law for the dissolution of marriage by faskh either at the instance of the wife or the proper wali.

Article 53. Faskh on the ground of unusual cruelty. A decree of faskh on the ground of unusual cruelty may be granted by the court upon petition of the wife if the husband:

(a)Habitually assaults her or makes her life miserable by cruel conduct even if this does not result in physical injury;

(b) Associates with persons of ill-repute or leads an infamous life or attempts to force the wife to live an immoral life;

(c) Compels her to dispose of her exclusive property or prevents her from exercising her legal rights over it;

(d) Obstructs her in the observance of her religious practices; or

(e) Does not treat her justly and equitably as enjoined by Islamic law.

Article 54. Effects of irrevocable talaq or faskh. A talaq or faskh, as soon as it becomes irrevocable, shall have the following effects:

(a) The marriage bond shall be severed and the spouses may contract another marriage in accordance with this Code;

(b) The spouses shall lose their mutual rights of inheritance;

(c) The custody of children shall be determined in accordance with Article 78 of this code;

(d) The wife shall be entitled to recover from the husband her whole dower in case the talaq has been affected after the consummation of the marriage, or one-half thereof if effected before its consummation;

(e) The husband shall not be discharged from his obligation to give support in accordance with Article 67; and

(f) The conjugal partnership, if stipulated in the marriage settlements, shall be dissolved and liquidated.

Article 55. Effects of other kinds of divorce. The provisions of the article immediately preceding shall apply to the dissolution, of marriage by ila, zihar, li’an and khul’, subject to the effects of compliance with the requirements of the Islamic law relative to such divorces.

Section 2. ‘Idda

Article 56. ‘Idda defined. ‘Idda is the period of waiting prescribed for a woman whose marriage has been dissolved by death or by divorce the completion of which shall enable her to contract a new marriage.

Article 57. Period.

(1) Every wife shall be obliged to observe ‘idda as follows:

(a) In case of dissolution of marriage by death, four months and ten days counted from the death of her husband;

(b) In case of termination of marriage by divorce, for three monthly courses; or

(c) In case of a pregnant women, for a period extending until her delivery.

(2) Should the husband die while the wife is observing ‘idda for divorce, another ‘idda for death shall be observed in accordance with paragraph 1(a).

The above provisions clearly state the parameters in which divorce are allowed, which is basically what the hype is all about. We contend that the Islam way of life is constricting, but in fact in certain aspects it’s essentially more progressive, practical, and respectful.

Another case in point: Acknowledgment by father (of his children). The same Code provides,

Article 63. Acknowledgment by father. Acknowledgment (igra) of a child by the father shall establish paternity and confer upon each the right inherit from the other exclusively in accordance with Article 94, provided the following conditions are complied with:

(a) The acknowledgment is manifested by the father’s acceptance in public that he is the father of the child who does not impugn it; and

(b) The relations does not appear impossible by reason of disparity in age.

Whereas it took us mainstream Catholics/Christians 27 years (after 1977), but not before having subjected to hell thousands of parents to produce this and that documentation and having made a volleyball out of innocent young children as when they were referred to on public policy papers illegitimate this and illegitimate that, to finally put into law Republic Act 9255 (An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surname of their Father). My god. Oftentimes, we complicate human life unnecessarily.

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.

― Henry David Thoreau

Food for thought (going forward toward understanding and assimilating with our Filipino Muslim brothers and sisters).

Who wants to gamble with love?

who wants to be a gambler? gina lopez

Today, Gina Lopez. Trailing her, Leni Robredo. Before her, Leila de Lima. Oh, of course, how could we not mention Imelda Marcos, Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They’re examples of Filipino women breaking through the glass ceiling, yet… why and how did their stories end in tragedy?

Used, I say. Pawns in the high-stakes Game of the Generals. Look at each of their publicly-lived lives and you’ll see M.E.N as the common element, invisible perhaps, but very palpable. But where were these M.E.N in the end, when they ought to have shown up as knights in shining armor? What was that line in the song? Naglaho. In the end, these women faced the mob alone, perhaps wondering as they look out to the crowd how did they end up as meat for the dogs.

But, surely their participation in the Game was with their consent despite their knowledge of the consequences? In other words, the serpent’s sugar loaded words was not an acceptable justification for Eve’s decision hence action. At the end of the day, each individual, man or woman, is accountable for his or her own decisions and actions. At this point, Paul Anka’s Don’t Gamble With Love floats through my head:

Don’t gamble with love

It’s only for fools

So play by the rules…

Oh don’t gamble with love

You’ll lose it for sure

There’d be no cure

When you gamble with love.

You can gamble your house,

gamble your car…

(But) Don’t gamble with love.

In the case of mining, or should I say irresponsible mining, the real enemy is from within (the agency) in the form of licenses that have been continously renewed despite findings from monitors. There is a law, system, and procedure that ensues from noncompliance. But how was it that noncompliant companies were renewed their licenses? This is the standing question across all or most government agencies here not only the DENR. The HLURB and LGUs and real estate developers, for instance. How were development fees allocated back by recipients of the fees for community development? Thus take out or put a stop to the real enemy and irresponsible profit-making (and continuing poverty of the masses) should end. In any case, Ms. Lopez made a gamble, choosing to move away from what was evidently the right set of cards in front of her. Ms. Lopez is a seasoned CEO. Why would she not see that? This was the part that didn’t fit.

Then, oh, in April there was yet another female face plastered on the front pages of national dailies. A police officer. Allegedly, she had been coddling a high-ranking member of the ASG. She is his lover, reportedly. Blah blah. There was nothing on the man’s story of their relationship which made the affair as if entirely manipulated by the woman. Perhaps it was, perhaps not. Who knows?

Which brings us back to the word pawns. Women pawned by other women, men, institutions. Still, women, those “foolish” enough, make a gamble. We would’ve wanted these women to win, if only for the sake of the female species, but apparently opponents are stronger, wilier, more embedded. I guess what women need to have to be able to stand their own ground on their terms, to break away from becoming pawns just so to break through the glass ceiling, are a winning combination of goods to gamble with, the right mix of rules to play with, and an impenetrable machinery that is the sisterhood.

Video: resource-based conflict and peaceful resolution: the case of IPs in Mindanao

Conflict arising from misunderstandings around resource ownership does not only happen in localities but also between countries. The South China Sea, for example. Or, the growing North-South tension in the Korean Peninsula. Tensions may be unavoidable but still the call to localities as well as countries is for parties to always seek peaceful resolutions. That’s what education is for- to know better than cave people of the past.

In the new year, out with the skeletons

New year new role for Congress. This most venerable of public bodies has happily taken to it’s new role as high court of sorts digging into and wanting to dig into cases from the sensational to the mundane never mind if these are the jurisdiction of proper courts whether it’s the Supreme Court or lower courts across the regions. What do the honorables hope to prove? That they’re A.T.T.Ys for nothing?

Fine. Let’s get back to the one topic – EJKs, War on Drugs, and Oplan Tokhang whatever – Congress can’t seem to extricate itself out of despite mounting legislation it’s supposed to attend to with urgency.

President Duterte’s war on drugs is not a stand-alone declaration but is linked to a global effort to address the world’s continuing illicit drug problem which according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has “significant impact on peace, security and development” and “appears to be the nexus between organized crime and terrorism.” Nor is it a one-off operation. Indeed when President Duterte tells us that he will carry on the “war” until the end of his term he is merely stating a fact in international pacts that have taken effect decades before. And, ‘EJKs’ or extrajudicial killings may seem to have exploded right in our faces only during President Duterte’s time but this is not so. If we remember in the time of former President BSA III, national dailies were already reporting “mysterious” killings by “riders in tandem”. The difference between then and now is that President Duterte explicitly made war on drugs a national policy. In the previous administration, media and the public didn’t know shit why people were randomly shot at in the streets. The public now is being kept abreast at least.

This post is not to take sides on the EJKs controversy because it is a moot point. There simply are no EJKs in war. The “EJKs” that we’re hearing about are, technically and for want of a better term, casualties of such a war. Nonetheless everyone has been duly warned and whoever has ears and heard the message and is part of that enemy ring has had plenty of time to reflect and decide- life or death? But no one among them are coming forward, no? Buti pa ang mga Communista na nagdesisyong bumaba at maging miyembro uli ng lipunan. So be it. Their decision it goes without saying carries the implicit consequence of innocent lives getting caught in the crossfire. This is like when friendly forces have to make the difficult decision to invade a country knowing that while their objective is to end an oppressive regime innocent lives will be part of casualties. But at the end of the day invading friendly forces cannot be faulted. That choice had been made for them in the first place by the enemy. It’s why we don’t want war if possible. It’s beyond hard, for all involved. And this war at home should not have been declared if our communities are free of drug lords, peddlers, backers, protectors, users; or, despite their presence if they had turned themselves in. But was there ever a drug lord who’d do that? So be it.

The objective of this post rather is to reiterate key facts and nuances of the world’s illicit drug problem in order to better understand why the administration is insistent on solving it and why it’s imperative for Congress and Philippine civil society to craft a strategic and integrated response to the problem.

The latest World Drug Report published by UNODC is for 2016 but in here I’m using the one for 2015  based on 2011-2013 data. Overall, for the period,

there has been little change in the overall global situation regarding the production, use and health consequences of illicit drugs. It is estimated that a total of 246 million people, or 1 out of 20 people between the ages of 15 and 64 years, used an illicit drug in 2013. That represents an increase of 3 million over the previous year but, because of the increase in the global population, illicit drug use has in fact remained stable. Notwithstanding national and regional variations in trends in drug use, the limited data available indicate that the use of opiates (heroin and opium) has remained stable at the global level. Mainly as a result of trends in the Americas and Europe, cocaine use has declined overall, while the use of cannabis and the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids have continued to rise. Trends in ATS use vary from region to region, and some subregions such as South-East Asia have reported an increase in methamphetamine use.

Flows of illicit drugs across the world

The production of cannabis resin continues to be confined to a few countries in North Africa, the Middle East and South-West Asia, whereas cannabis herb is produced inmost of the countries in the world. South America continues to account for practically all global cultivation of coca bush, and South-West Asia (Afghanistan) and South-East Asia (mainly the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar) continue to account for the vast majority of illicit opium poppy cultivation. Although the manufacture of ATS is difficult to assess, there are reports of ATS manufacture in all regions worldwide.

global flows of methampethamine

global flows of cocaine

global flows of opiates

There is also evidence that organized criminal groups, which in the past may have limited their trafficking activities to one drug type, are diversifying. For example, groups that previously focused on heroin trafficking appear to be increasingly engaging in trafficking in cannabis resin and methamphetamine. The “dark net”, the anonymous online marketplace used for the illegal sale of a wide range of products, including drugs, is a prime example of the constantly changing situation, and it has profound implications for both law enforcement and drug trafficking.

main transit countries in illicit drug trade

The growing importance of Africa as a transit area for Afghan heroin bound for Europe and other regions has been reflected in increasing seizures of heroin reported in recent years in some African countries, particularly in East Africa. Recent seizures also suggest that it may have become more common for large shipments of Afghan heroin to be smuggled across the Indian Ocean into East and Southern Africa. Moreover, Africa continues to be used as a trans-shipment area for smuggling cocaine across the Atlantic into Europe, and Eastern Europe is emerging as a transit area and as a destination.

West Africa appears to have become an established source of the methamphetamine smuggled into East and South-East Asia via Southern Africa or Europe, with new trafficking routes linking previously unconnected regional methamphetamine markets. The established market for methamphetamine in East and South-East Asia continues to grow, while there are also indications of increasing methamphetamine use in parts of North America and Europe. In 2013, Australia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea also reported the seizure of crystalline methamphetamine perceived to have originated in Mexico.

As opiates originating in Myanmar may be unable to meet the demand in South-East Asia, the so-called “southern route” could be increasing in importance as a conduit for smuggling Afghan heroin southwards from Afghanistan through Pakistan or the Islamic Republic of Iran. Trafficking networks using the Balkan route to smuggle Afghan heroin into Europe may be experimenting with a new route, leading through the Caucasus, and there are indications of heroin being trafficked from Iraq rather than from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In the past few years, a growing number of NPS (new psychoactive substances) have been sold on illicit drug markets. In the United States, the annual prevalence of cannabis use among twelfth-grade students remained stable between 2011 and 2013 and declined only slightly in 2014 while synthetic cannabinoid (“spice”) use almost halved in the period 2011 to 2014. The perceived harmfulness of synthetic cannabinoids among secondary school students (twelfth grade) increased between 2012, the first year of measurement, and 2014, which may have contributed to the decline in use.

Data from a recent qualitative study suggest that use of both herbal cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids may not be uncommon. Users may choose one or the other depending on the situation, for example preferring synthetic cannabinoids when trying to avoid a positive drug test result.

For some time, the market for “ecstasy” has been on the decline in several European countries and mephedrone and other NPS may have been serving as a substitute for “ecstasy”. Despite a possible decline in the overall demand for mephedrone in the United Kingdom, high levels of use have been observed among some segments of the population. Mephedrone use appears to be particularly common in London dance clubs. Similarly, another survey of visitors to nightclubs in Rome in 2013 found that NPS were being used in addition to drugs such as cocaine.

According to EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction), there has been a decline in the injecting of illicit drugs in Europe, but there have been recent reports of the injecting of NPS, particularly synthetic cathinones.325Use data for NPS at the substance level are still limited. Among the reasons for this are that there is a large number of different NPS available on the market, and some of them are sold under street names that could imply a variety of different substances. For instance, the term “spice”, often used in reference to the use of synthetic cannabinoids, does not relate to a specific substance and could instead refer to a large variety of substances.

Up to December 2014, a total of 541 NPS had been reported to the UNODC early warning advisory. In 2014, 450 substances were reported, an increase from the 430 substances reported in 2013. In 2014, synthetic cannabinoids continued to account for the majority of NPS reported (39 per cent), followed by phenethylamines (18 per cent) and synthetic cathinones (15 per cent).

Preferred mode of transport

The frequency of use of different modes of transportation used by drug traffickers has not changed a great deal over the past decade. Accounting for nearly half the reported individual seizures in the 2009-2014 period, trafficking by road and rail is the most common mode of transportation used by traffickers globally, along with trafficking by air. Trafficking by air has become more frequent, but quantities intercepted remain comparatively small.

mode of transportation of illicit drugs

The average size of drug shipments intercepted on road and rail increased substantially from 68 kg between 2006 and 2008 to 107 kg between 2009 and 2014. maritime trafficking remains the least common mode of transportation in terms of individual seizure cases, but maritime seizures tend to be comparatively very large. For example, parcel post was the most commonly detected method of drug importation at the Australian borders in 2013, yet just three maritime seizure cases accounted for 74 percent of the total weight of heroin intercepted that year in the country. This confirms that interdiction of maritime shipments has potentially the greatest impact on the total quantities of drugs smuggled, as well as on trafficking flows and the availability of illicit drugs at the global level.

Gender differences in usage

To what extent are women into drugs? They’re in it big time, but on the other hand their treatment-seeking behavior is a dismal low.

women's use of illicit drugs and treatment seeking behavior

Women encounter significant systemic, structural, social, cultural and personal barriers in accessing substance abuse treatment. At the structural level, the most significant obstacles include lack of child care and punitive attitudes to parenting and pregnant women with substance abuse problems. This makes women fear losing custody of their children or having to relinquish their children as a condition of treatment, and prevents them from seeking treatment in residential settings. Treatment programmes may also be located far from where women live and may have inflexible admission requirements and schedules that may not suit the needs of women. Moreover, women with children may still need to secure child care to participate in outpatient treatment programmes as they may not have enough money to pay for child-care costs, transportation or treatment itself. Although men may be referred for treatment by their family, an employer or the criminal justice system, treatment history among women is more associated with and triggered by other problems, such as a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, or sex work, and could be referred by the social services system, mental health facilities or self-initiated, rather than solely due to substance abuse. In many societies, substance use both in general and among women is heavily stigmatized and cultural norms may make it difficult for women to acknowledge such a problem or leave their homes and families to undergo treatment.

Women are twice as likely as men to use tranquillizers, but both have roughly equal levels of use of prescription opioids.

gender differences use of illicit drugs

Women’s greater use of tranquilizers may be explained by findings showing 

women with substance-use disorders tend to have a history of overresponsibility in their families of origin and have experienced more disruptions and report more interpersonal conflicts in the family than their male counterparts, particularly issues related to parenting and exposure to childhood and adult trauma. Women with substance-use disorders may come from families where one or more family members is also drug dependent and may have suffered victimization and injury. Many women identify relationship problems as a cause for their substance use. In addition, psychiatric co-morbidities, especially mood and anxiety disorders, are reported to be higher among women and these disorders typically predate the onset of substance-use problems.


PWID affected with HIV

Approximately 40 per cent of the estimated global total number of PWID (people who inject drugs) living with HIV reside in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, mostly in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. East and South-East Asia contribute a further 20 per cent to the global total number of PWID living with HIV, although both the prevalence of injecting drug use and the prevalence of HIV among PWID are below their respective global averages. It is the large population aged 15-64 residing in this region that translates into the relatively large number of PWID living with HIV. South-West Asia, the region with the highest prevalence of HIV among PWID, contributes 12 per cent to the total global number of PWID living with HIV, with a large proportion of these residing in Pakistan. Four countries, the Russian Federation, China, Pakistan and the United States (in descending order), when combined account for nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of the total global estimated number of PWID living with HIV.

In many countries, women who inject drugs are more vulnerable to HIV infection than their male counterparts and that the prevalence of HIV is higher among women who inject drugs than among their male counterparts. The transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C and the occurrence of drug overdoses are only some of the risk factors that lead to the level of mortality among people who inject drugs being nearly 15 times higher than would normally be expected among people of comparable age and gender in the general population.

prevalence of hiv among pwid

Drug dependency treatment services

Treatment of drug dependence need to be provided through a continuum of care service and may be in the form of pharmacological, psychosocial, and social rehabilitation and after-care services. Based on the report,

there is a greater level of pharmacological and psychosocial services and interventions in Europe than in other regions, particularly Western and Central Europe, where higher levels of opioid substitution also reflect the fact that opioids are the major substance for which drug users receive treatment in the region. In other regions, Governments may not yet be ready to address drug dependence with pharmacologically-assisted treatment, leading to limited coverage of such programmes.

global extent drug dependency pharmacological treatment services

global drug dependency psychosocial treatment services

In Africa, the fact that counselling is more available than other types of intervention could be due to cannabis being the most common substance for which drug users receive treatment. However, most drug treatment services in the region are provided in specialized psychiatric hospitals, which may explain why there is a considerable number of interventions in the treatment of psychiatric comorbidities in Africa, although the lack of other types of intervention in Africa may also indicate limited responses to treatment needs in general.

global drug dependency socialrehab aftercare treatment services

Not only are available services for the treatment of drug use disorders and dependence limited in most countries, there is an overall lack of provision of a continuum of care in interventions to address drug use disorders and drug dependence adequately among those in need of these interventions.

Countries who reported having alternative development strategies in place

countries with alternative development 2010-2013

Alternative development is one of the three pillars (the other two being, crop eradication and interdiction ie. law enforcement measures) in the international community’s “balanced approach” toward drug control which has been a key supply reduction strategy for several decades. Emerging in the late 1980s from the more narrowly focused crop substitution initiatives of the 1970s and the integrated rural development approach of the 1980s, the concept of alternative development has been implemented around the world for over 40 years. Alternative development is not generally an objective in itself but rather a means to an end: it is aimed at contributing to an enabling environment for longterm rural development without illicit crop cultivation.

impact of alternative development on illicit drug trade

(The UN) General Assembly defined alternative development as a “process to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of plants containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances through specifically designed rural development measures in the context of sustained national growth and sustainable development efforts in countries taking action against drugs, recognizing the particular sociocultural characteristics of the target communities and groups, within the framework of a comprehensive and permanent solution to the problem of illicit drugs”. While this definition is used at the international level, different definitions reflecting new strategies and approaches toward alternative development have been developed by a wide variety of implementing countries, donors and practitioners. Alternative development is a concept in constant flux.
Alternative development is sometimes described as “conventional rural development applied to a drug-producing area”, “development in a drugs environment” or “development-oriented drug control”. This does not mean that the purpose of alternative development is limited to purely counter-narcotics objectives. National strategies may vary, but the specific purpose of alternative development in its present, broader meaning is to contribute to economic development (especially in rural areas) in order to target the underlying factors and root causes of illicit drug economies.

To better frame the drug problem thus design a responsive preventive strategy and interventions, we need to know and understand the factors that increase a person’s vulnerability to drug use:

factors increasing vulnerability to drug use

There is no single cause of drug use and addiction. Vulnerability to drug use is due to a variety of factors, whether stemming from the individual or from developmental contexts. The interplay between these factors ultimately either increases or attenuates an individual’s vulnerability to substance use. This is why there is no “silver bullet” remedy for prevention, although multi-causality also offers many starting points for preventive activity (that could take place in various) settings significant to the target group — family, school, workplace, community, media and leisure settings.
Groups with a higher risk, such as children with a substance dependent parent, should be approached in a different manner to population groups in which the majority does not tend to use psychoactive substances, such as school pupils. Prevention programming takes this into account by providing strategies for the population at large (universal prevention), for groups that are particularly at risk (selective prevention) and for individuals that are particularly at risk (indicated prevention, which also includes individuals that might have started experimenting and are therefore at particular risk of progressing to disorders).

The developmental notion of drug use behaviour implies that prevention should incorporate not only drug-specific components, but also skills that help individuals to deal effectively with the challenges of each phase of life, such as relationship skills for adolescents or parenting skills for parents. In fact, drug prevention is aimed at supporting the safe and healthy development of children and youth, but may also include, when relevant, additional aspects specifically related to drugs around the age of drug use
initiation.

(A) broader strategy of “alternative development” (was) developed at the international level by UNFDAC in the second half of the 1980s, which sought to improve the integration of regional development assistance with law enforcement initiatives, while promoting the appropriate coordination and sequencing of those interventions. Flexible law enforcement in countering illicit cultivation — with law enforcement interventions being carefully timed in order to be supportive of the development effort, and undertaken once the basic conditions for acceptable alternative living standards had been achieved — was considered to be an integral and fundamental part of alternative development. Alternative development interventions sought to have a more sustainable impact by creating local organizations and farmers’ associations to facilitate the production, distribution and marketing of products.

The 2006 Afghan National Drug Control Strategy made a specific reference to alternative livelihoods as the main approach to addressing illicit cultivation. Meanwhile, other strategies, such as the approaches adopted by the European Union, Colombia and Peru, continue to use the concept of alternative development to address underlying drivers of illicit cultivation (for example, marginalization and poverty) in a way that is very similar to the alternative livelihoods approach.

Alternative development continues to be relevant as long as drug crops are grown illicitly and development and security challenges that are specific to areas where drugs are cultivated remain. However, it offers no quick-fix solution to the supply side of the illicit drug economy as a stand-alone strategy. Previous evaluations of alternative development have already shown that success is very situation specific and that there are few, if any, practices that can be plugged into a template. As was noted in the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2005, “there is no manual or definitive guidelines for alternative development”. However, with the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development, a set of general guidelines that contain good practices for planning and implementing alternative development now exist.

Donor contributions to alternative development

Over the past four decades, alternative development has largely been funded by external donors, including countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in North America, Europe and Oceania, and non-OECD countries such as China, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Saudi Arabia and Thailand. In recent years, there has been a trend towards more project funding by countries that were traditionally recipients of such assistance, such as Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Colombia, Peru and Thailand.

international assistance to alternative development

According to the OECD International Development Statistics, in the period from 1998, when the Political Declaration and its associated Action Plan on International Cooperation on the Eradication of Illicit Drug Crops and on Alternative Development were adopted by the General Assembly, to 2013, global commitments by OECD countries for providing alternative development in developing countries amounted in total to, on average, $219 million per year (as expressed in 2012 dollars), of which 89 percent was for agriculture-related alternative development and 11 per cent was for non-agriculture related alternative development activities such as income opportunities in other sectors, social and physical infrastructure and nonagricultural training and capacity-building.

And we thought our greatest problem were the numerous shoes of Imelda Marcos! But I do understand the need for our 70 year-old President to belt it out on the karaoke sometimes. Ma-buang ka talaga just trying tonvisualize the global transit points in the illicit drug trade.

But, seriously, Congress need to discuss the drug problem as it is happening and evolving in this country, and understanding that, craft a national drug control/management strategy. National and local governments should develop financing strategies to generate funds for it’s implementation. These strategies should align with current national strategies on urban development, housing, employment (eg. OFW support, counselling services), poverty alleviation (eg. 4Ps, agricultural development), and yes, early childhood care and development as well as adolescent and youth development and parenting education.

See, when the President told his critics in the Church to shut up and instead help him solve the problem he really means it. Drug abuse is a developmental issue and the Church with it’s Basic Ecclessial Communities (BEC) strategy and capacity to counsel, provide spiritual refuge, etc. has a big role to play in prevention. Ironically, it’s media and people around the President who don’t get the point of his remarks. They go away from press conferences to coin terminologies such as EJKs and Tokhang which are redactions of the real problem and then sell these to the public as “the truth and nothing but the truth”. Media has not been part of the solution.

Of course, those who know better could always take the road favored by the lazy which is what Congress is doing now: suspects are cornered, media are called in, and when cameras start to roll, they yak at the suspects making sure to throw in humungous terminologies the (illiterate) suspects believed were names of past honorables, all on cue for the camera, until it’s time to call it a day, a week, a month, a year. At the close of the year, SALNs will read PHP12M or so richer. Goodness! Are these actors paid per show? Out in the real world, citizens, in offices, factories, schools, stores, farms, etc., are at their jobs 12 hours a day every day in order to remit taxes to their government. Meanwhile, the problem is still out there waiting for it’s next victim. Everybody’s so good at staying within the scope of their roles that this thing goes like clockwork, a script rehashed year after year, one decade after another.

Rude awakenings Part 2

Fourth: LeniLeaks. This country’s recent political history of coup d’etats with a woman at the forefront has brewed speculations and concerns over VP Leni Robredo’s alleged involvement with her Party alongside sympathetic foreigners in a bid to oust the President. The issue came into the open when the VP was sacked by the President as Cabinet member ie. Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in early December last year. This perennial “personality problem” between the two highest seats in the land is an effect of the Philippine electoral system whereby the VP position as with the President is voted on by the people and oftentimes the VP hails from the opposition Party. What if the VP is instead an ally of the President? We can learm from Barack Obama’s final speech as outgoing US President particularly in his reference to VP Joe Biden:

To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother.

That ought to be the case. How could a President possibly make progress when he is at the start saddled with an enemy from within his own house? The Vice President whose words and actions in public wilfully undermine the President’s while raising his/her own image as if s/he is the President is in danger of committing high treason and cannot be trusted therefore. Ask also any company president or CEO. Or children of endlessly bickering parents. In any case, that vice president need to re-take a class in Role of the Vice Presidency 101.

Whoever thought and approved of setting up the Presidency for failure should be given standing ovation for this wise move. Past Presidents who had gone along with this system…it was, well, plain self destruction.

Fifth: SSS pension reforms. How did Congress come up with it’s PHP2,000 pension increase recommendation? is the million-dollar question staring SSS member-contributors in the face in the new year. And sans public presentation of computations to back the recommendation the process reeks of yet another pak! ganern! policy making; as if the country’s pensioners are mere cattle being bidded out in the marketplace- 100? 200? 300?…500? 1000? 1500? You there mister? 2000 you say? Going…going…anyone? gavel hits the podium with finality And 2000 it is! Sold to the gentleman in black! Pak! Ganern! In all that noise, not a yea or nay heard from the herd.

Adding fuel to the fire is Senator Drilon’s statement that

The passage of this bill is an early Christmas gift of the Senate to the SSS pensioners, who depend on these pensions for their daily expenses.

I’ve resolved to utter less cuss words this year so. But I understand the decisionmaker’s ie. the President’s difficult position of what to make of the Two Thousand Pesos. In the end perhaps out of public pressure – the figure’s already been publicized and we know the masses- any amount of increase whether or not it’s the right or correct one is good enough – the President just went ahead with One Thousand Pesos.

I remember the head of office at my former workplace who got mad at the practice by some colleagues who placed documents on his table for him to sign (this was before he hired a secretary) without an accompanying note summing up what the document was about or for why he was being asked to sign the papers. With mile-high of documents getting piled up on his table everyday, did his people suppose he was going to do their work ie. read each, page by page and make summaries? As it happened, everyone of us got a memo strongly warning us against “unprofessional behavior inconsistent with an organization such as ours” (I’m one of those people who don’t ever put documents on my boss’ (or colleagues’) table like that so it hurt that I received one. But, that’s life in organizations).

There is of course a scientific process of making policy recommendations in pension systems. Sweden, for instance, in 2006 successfully transitioned from public-defined-benefit pension plan to defined contribution plan and this was attributed to the Minister of Social Policy and parliamentary party members that comprised the review committee who by way of analyzing demographics (age structure of the population and age of median voter) computations demonstrated how the reformed system is better compared to the old. The reviewers used

random sample of the 1995 Swedish Household Income Survey (Statistics Sweden, 1995), which comprised about 20,000 individuals ages 18–65. Because we use data from the census database, the tax authority, and the social insurance board, non-response is 0%. Their income histories from 1960 are known (the previous pension system was implemented starting in 1960).

We then calculate the proportion of winners in the electorate, i.e., those who benefit from the reform. We repeated the calculations for selected years, before and after the actual implementation of the reform in 1999. Given that those who benefit would favour the reform, the calculations indicate what the attitude of the electorate would have been – if the reform had been implemented from 1990, 1995, 1999, 2005, or 2015. The underlying question is: do changes in population structure or economic growth affect the expected proportion of winners?

For this exercise, we needed population and income data for the years after 1995. Population data and population projections by age and sex are from Statistics Sweden.
We simulated income for the years after 1995 using a 2% annual real earnings growth assumption. Simulated earnings rise steadily from 1995. But to avoid a low lifetime income due to a low, possibly temporary income in 1995, we used the highest annual income that was earned between 1990 and 1995 as a starting point. That is, we used the maximum of these years for individuals with income below 1 basic unit.6 Our procedure does not account for switching to better-paid jobs, a deficiency that might be important but mainly for young people. We examine the effects of various economic growth rates and return rates on the individual accounts in the new system and test the sensitivity of our model against some other assumptions.

The voting age in Sweden is 18. We assume that this age is fixed and that identical shares of voters of all age cohorts vote, although younger persons and low-income workers have lower voting rates than others.

We assume that the pension system does not affect lifecycle incomes. To cope with pension commitments in the old system, the future contribution rate must be raised, and this should result in lower wages and accordingly, lower pensions, especially for younger generations. The higher work incentives in the new system affect lifecycle incomes by increasing labour supply and reducing incentives for early retirement. This, in turn, should result in higher pensions, especially for younger generations. Consequently, our result might underestimate the number of non-winners in the old system and the number of winners in the new system, especially among younger generations.

We calculate the numbers of winners and non-winners for each birth cohort. Do winners outnumber non-winners in 1999, which was the year of the Swedish pension reform? Would there have been differences if the reform had come into force in any other year? We used the same values for economic growth rate (g) and return rate of individual accounts (r) as did the pension commission when it described its main alternatives. To simplify, we assumed that everyone reaches age 85.

Why Sweden’s pension reform was able to be successfully implemented, Jan Selén and Ann-Charlotte Ståhlberg, 2007

To give us an idea of the pension amounts in other countries, in Japan for example the full basic pension in 2012 was 4,342 Euro a year or 16% of average earnings of 26,433 Euro a year. In Philippine Peso, 4,342 Euro annually translates to 4,703 pesos weekly. This is an OECD country figure of course, but my point is such is the rational policy making process the people expect from their government. For all we know, PHP2,000 (or, any other amount for that matter) across the board increase standard for all pensioners is not proportionate to each member’s realities in way of their contributions owing to varied salaries and wages. Furthermore, the reality is that there’s a significant number of people outside of the system who should be in otherwise and benefiting, and these are the poor: tenant farmers, workers in shadow or underground economies like maids (who are paid, what, three thousand pesos monthly?), plantation workers on day-to-day employ, peddlers, etcetera) hence even if the One Thousand Peso-increase is legislated these population groups will gain nothing from this purported early Christmas gift. How do we bring these groups into the system (in short, the economy)? It’s jobs, proper salaries and wages, and lifting off for some time (akin to giving preferred companies tax holidays) onerous taxes such as VAT that murder workers before they’re even able to save for the future- the crucial elements in the design of social welfare systems.

Sixth: GSIS retirement fund. In light of news about the agency’s insolvency, fear has resurfaced among government workers, especially public school teachers, that their retirement funds will go kapoot. Philippine Star Jarius Bondoc’s article, GSIS members: watch your bank, reminds us of the agency’s irreputable past:

Presidents played with their retirement mutual fund like personal cash. Political appointees invested those billions in worthless companies. Two of those were banks of business cronies that were bailed out of insolvency on Malacañang’s behest. That resulted in the pointless establishment decades ago of a thrift bank owned 99.6 percent by GSIS. It was, in short, a mere cash cow.

As with any depository run by political stooges, the GSIS Family Bank came short of cash several times. Each time, the parent GSIS had had to recapitalize it with multibillion pesos. Supervision by the new bureaucratic Governance Commission on Government Corporations only led to sloppier operations. As the financial bleeding couldn’t be stanched, the Bangko Sentral placed GFB under receivership last May. Two months later the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), as receiver, invited private financial institutions to buy up the GFB.

The ailing GFB still had some value: P2.4 billion in assets, P500 million in cash, intact deposits, and a network of 22 branches. Yet no one bit, as the PDIC suddenly changed the rules midstream and doubled the asking price. Last Nov. the PDIC announced to just close the bank and liquidate the assets.

It’s fine for entities or corporations to make investment decisions here and there, because money’s just right there and what’s being passed around, the money, is just a thing but do they for one moment see the faces and warm bodies behind those contributions, ordinary civil servants working hard and long in order to save up for old age? It’s criminal how people’s money are just going to pigs. Something must be finally done about GSIS.

(I was going to mention here the RH law as the seventh, but the President has just signed Executive Order No.12 (Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning Through the Strict Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes) which now okays full implementation of the national reproductive health program. Hurray! I was going to say The human body (including the mind) is not State property hence has no hold over it, and that cutting off contraceptives supply is like going around rooms in the hospitals unhooking people off from their life support systems. But these are now moot statements.)

Modernization in the time of Scrooge

If street sweepers could grow into giants, what then?

collage-woman-hoovering-urban-street

Easy breezy, no? I did think emergency powers to solve traffic is more effective in the hands of street sweepers! Or, perhaps even mothers- mothers against traffic.

Kidding aside, and still on the topic of transportation, my recent dawn ride in a turboprop was different this time ie. it wasn’t as scary as what my mind’s able to imagine it. The unfortunate incident that wiped out members of Chapecoense is exactly the reason behind my fear of flying. It could happen to anyone, anytime. And anybody surviving a plane dropping out of the sky which incidentally is happening more frequently these days is I believe a miracle through and through. If such an accident is my fate, I just want that it will happen on a bright cloudless day. I don’t want to go down on a gloomy day. Gloom + doom is too much of a double whammy.

PAL Express Bombardier turboprop Q series

Anyway. I noted the plane is a Bombardier Q model. What did I know of Bombardier besides that it sounded French-y classy? There was something lodged in the recesses of my brain… maker of the first bomber aircraft? Well then I should feel comfortable. This plane’s for extreme weather! Didn’t it have an invisible shield somewhere? And there must be something more to Q. Now that such things had sparked my interest, I had to know. From take off to when we landed – it felt like a quick five minutes all – I focused off my fear to knowing more about the manufacturer.

It turns out, the founder Canadian Joseph-Armand Bombardier invented in the 1930s the snow mobile which eventually became the company’s first product. (Ah, nothing of a bomber aircraft in it’s history then.) From the snow mobile, the company went on to build rail vehicles and related solutions which is actually it’s best known product, making headway in European countries. It then expanded to aircraft eventually buying out Learjet (of course! this was what’s lodged in my memory but can’t readily recall). The Q in it’s turboprop Q series stands for quiet, to describe the company’s breakthrough invention, Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) system, that “make turboprop cabins almost as quiet as those of jets”. Indeed, yes, there was just the soft whirr-ing from the plane’s props and I was seated near the left side propeller. Today, Bombardier continues as a global leader in rail vehicles and solutions.

Bombardier sustainable solutions in rail transport

What am I saying here? We should buy quality for our rail transport. We should not be a Scrooge or Grinch when it comes to providing Filipinos infrastructures and services- these should be the best. (Scroogey-ness by the way extends to the private sector in relation to it’s local Filipino consumers- we here get the littlest – apple, grapes, soap bar, name it – and lowest quality of products in supermarket shelves and without corresponding and I mean fair change in price; same for PUV fares, we pay the same even when service is crap or the vehicle is near shambles or noncompliant to standards. Nobody cares to report because nobody on the other end care to right things. Then we shout human rights in streets? Start with food and basic needs first!) We should let go of our tingi-tingi mentality in purchases or investments in public goods. We should also let go of our pwede pa yan i-repair mentality (getting junk parts from god knows here, there, and everywhere and piecing them together to imitate the original when it’s obviously junk) when things have reached their expiry dates we should not think twice about buying new and better.

The only message that daily news of the breakdown of MRT and LRT rail cars sends to the public is how dumb and dumber those managing it are. It’s not the machine’s fault as it’s not some human who’s able to intuit and decide on his own if he or she is sick and needs a day off to go for medical treatment. We need Congress to step into the real attitude of modernization. Instead of wasting public money on a merry go round chase of whodunnit, it should be talking about how to connect remote areas to urban centers and up Philippine infrastructures and services. This will take years so it has to start today.

On the mission of the Church

Leaders of the Catholic Church here should really stop themselves from participating in secular politics. In this, they have no less than Christ for role model. In His time, human rights situation was far worse. Dissenters of Ceasar, innocent and not, were pierced and displayed upside down on the highway, to dissuade anyone from following in their footsteps. That was just one means of putting dissenters to death. Christ, in fact, was a victim to this. In his conversations with people, His gospel alluded to Himself as the King (whom John before Him had announced was coming) which prompted those loyal and in service to Ceasar to catch and tried to get Him to say directly that He is, because to them there was no other King but Ceasar. For spreading news of a new King and kingdom which in effect challenged Ceasar’s authority, He was hanged. No thanks to the final betrayal of somebody from His inner circle as well as a people’s indecision (who to be loyal to?).

Within this political and social environment, did Christ call Ceasar names? rally people to His side? storm the palace in order to show who and what is right? change history with just one word?

no

He let human history run it’s course. Render unto Ceasar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s, He said. And they marveled at Him. They expected this “usurper” to call up a grand following and then march against Caesar. They were astounded when He shunned even the suggestion and instead told them to give Caesar as their ruler due recognition and respect.

What is the message there? Christ is telling us that there’s the practical world of humans which Caesar at the time in that place ruled, and there’s also His Father’s kingdom which will come in due time. And in order to set the latter in motion (to also run it’s course, so to speak), He had to come- Do not think that I have come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. Meaning, while we are called to participate in human history we are also called to prepare (our souls) for that other kingdom.

Christ, by His life and death, opened to us the way toward this kingdom. The Church takes on from what He started. In doing so, the Church like Christ before it has to transcend “the world of Caesar”; to lead, like a good shepherd, the fulfillment of God’s words (the Gospel). And what are some of these words?

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

These are actually profound words. For instance, make every effort to live in peace with everyone. How does one do that in the secular world? To be holy. What does this mean for a secular person? Is it even possible in these times? But take heart! I have overcome the world. But, we say, He had not experienced globalization, terrorism, extremism, how could He have had overcome the world? How could we take heart? What relevance does Catholicism have in these times? Today, many words in the Scriptures seemed to have lost their meaning, and there’s so much work to do preparing for God’s kingdom.

To be light, to show the way, to unravel the mystery that is Love, to be Christ again and again. Church leaders therefore must be contemplatives at the same time activitists in God’s court in order that they be given wisdom and knowledge from the Spirit.

History shows us there had been miserable consequences for the human community when the Church dabbles in secular life. Recently, I was struck reading Robert Tiglao’s Manila Times’ opinion piece Ninoy Aquino: Hero or miscalculating ‘throne’ gamer?in which he feautred the transcript of (Ninoy) Aquino’s telephone conversation with Psinakis August 13, 1983.

Ninoy Aquino: Hi Steve, I’m at the airport and I cannot leave America without saying goodbye to you and expressing to you my deepest gratitude.
Steve Psinakis: Our prayers are always with you and all I can [say]is, remember that a word from you and anything you want is in your fingertips from me, okay? There’s no limit to what I will do for you if you need some help. We are praying for you, for your safety and success and freedom of people, okay?
Aquino: Now this is the latest, Steve, that I can give you. My source is Cardinal Sin. Number one: Marcos checked in at the Kidney Center. The experts went, saw him, they did a test. He flunked all tests and the conclusion was if they operate on him, it would be fatal.
So he went back to the Palace. He is no longer responding to medication and he will have to be hooked up to the dialysis machine now more often. How he will last with that machine on, I don’t know. Apparently they are now moving to put Imelda in effective control. And they are going to revamp the Cabinet, with (Roberto) Ongpin most probably emerging as prime minister and finance minister. Danding Cojuangco or [General Fabian] Ver, defense minister. O. D. Corpus possibly foreign minister, and maybe Ayala, I mean Enrique, maybe agriculture minister, I don’t know.
But there’s a major shake-up. Marcos met with his generals and apparently said goodbye to them last Friday. He was on television in Manila 24 hours ago, commenting on the boxing fight of Navarette and Talbot to show the people he is okay. But it’s a matter of time, so he wanted three weeks to collect this thoughts, write his memoirs, complete his book and most probably craft the final stages of his administration.
He’s a man now: Terminal. He knows he’s going and that’s the background I’m coming in.
Psinakis: I [also]heard some of this yesterday. I got some reports, not of course as authoritative as yours, but pretty much the same that something was wrong and they couldn’t operate and so forth. At any rate, the thought that comes to mind is that is good and bad. Good in that he’s going and he knows it. He might show some compassion for the country and treat your return with more pragmatic thinking. The bad part may be that hardliners like Ver who are bulldogs without any political savvy, who may think that they’re next in line [of succession]. Obviously, such people would look at your return with uh… That’s what I’m worried about.
Aquino: Well, there are two reports I received along that line. Well, if they pinpoint the plane I’m coming in. The rumor in Manila is that I’m taking the private jet of Enrique (Zobel) from Hong Kong. But all planes are being guarded and they may close the airport on Sunday or turn back the plane if they would be able to pinpoint which one I’m coming in.
The third, and this is the real iffy. They have two guys stationed to know me out at the airport. And they will try them for murder, they’ll convict them, but they have assurances.
Psinakis: Ah…let’s not think about that.
Aquino: Yeah, that’s the… Those are the things that I’ve been alerted. So, I don’t know what options they will do now. But I am meeting with ASEAN leaders beginning Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Indonesia—Suharto might receive me. Malaysia is already firm and Thailand is just about firm. Now Japan has sent word that if Imelda is in place [Prime Minister] Nakasone is willing to use his economic clout.
Psinakis: Ah really, huh?
Aquino: Yes…to tell Imelda that if you treat Aquino nicely, we can dialogue.
Psinakis: Oh, that’s good news all right. That’s damn good news.
Aquino: Nakasone is willing to send a private envoy, a secret private envoy with a personal letter making a plea for me. If am still alive and in prison, that if they will treat me gently, and come up with some kind of an understanding, Japanese economic assistance will continue. Because they are very uptight that if the woman [Imelda] takes over and there will be chaos, you know, it would be bad. Now the ASEAN leaders, on the other hand, feel this way: ASEAN today is already one region. And any instability in one part of ASEAN will scare investors in the entire region.
That’s why they are very, very uptight about the possibility of chaos and instability in the Philippines with Imelda. And that is the background of my conversation with them: That I am not going to upset the apple cart but that we can harmonize our movement.
To what extent they will be able to mitigate the hardliners, I don’t know. That’s the chance we’ll have to take. If I survive Sunday, and I get to prison, I’m there in a week’s time, I can get the works going.
I’m picking up a letter from [MNLF chairman] Nur Misuari, telling them that if the government will trust me as a negotiator, then they can start talks again. But they will not talk to anybody else.
Psinakis: It sounds to me like you have an awful lot of pluses on your side.
Aquino: Those are the trump cards I’m bringing home, which of course can be negated if one character gets to throw me out.
If I get into prison, there is no doubt, like 100 percent, I will be brought directly to prison. I may not even get a chance to talk to anybody there on the ground. But it’s okay. A long as I’m alive and in prison, I can start using my trump cards.
I will try to hold out for a meeting with Marcos. Now that’s he’s about to meet his Maker, I am almost confident that I can talk to him and sell him something. Although the Cardinal told me that “if you think you can sell Marcos a bill of goods like return to democracy and electoral processes, forget it. You’re dreaming.”
“He’s no longer in that state.” This is the Cardinal’s idea. I don’t buy it. Because I don’t think that a man who is about to die will be, you know, too hard-headed.
SP: I hope you are right, but I think the Cardinal is right. I think Marcos…not only because he doesn’t want to, that’s academic at this point in time. But I think he has just…he’s so deep and he has no choice but to stay where he is and leave things as they are. And I certainly hope that that’s wrong because we don’t want that.
Aquino: Okay. So, goodbye Steve.
Psinakis: One last question…
Aquino: Yes?
Psinakis: Any whatsoever…any indication from the US side that there might be some help on the cooperative or absolutely nothing?
Aquino: No. No indication. Except that they are watching me. They are following all my steps. But I am still hopeful that sanity will prevail and they will know that eventually, they’ll have to come to talk. Because I don’t think they’re very happy with the woman [Imelda] running the show.

I’d like to highlight the role of the late Cardinal Sin in that momentous episode of our national history ie. the turning point in Ninoy’s decision to return. Ninoy had placed his faith in the Cardinal’s words that Marcos was “soon going to meet his Maker” (as if anybody can confidently predict that!). But what if the Cardinal spoke the truth to Ninoy? What if he didn’t take advantage of an agitated man? What if he had kept his hands off the grab for power? What if he allowed history to run it’s course? Would the Filipinos have no cause to blame Marcos for Ninoy’s death? Would Ninoy still be alive today? If he were, what is the country like, now? Unified? But we couldn’t know exactly could we? That crossroad is forever lost to us. The Cardinal had directed the country toward another path. We have seen though that dissatisfaction and rebellion have not ebbed on this path. The Communists, MILF, MNLF, the people’s criticisms, protests etc. did not go away even with Cory and later her son at the helm. This tells us that lack of cohesion among Filipinos is not because of Marcos but rather it’s much more than that. The Church thought it was simply a change in President, or policies.

What if, also, Christ allowed emotions to dissuade Him and eliminated with a flick of a finger all His “enemies” ie. Caesar and his government? Burn you bastards! Where will the world be now? One thing I’m sure of- there’d be no Catholic Church, or Christian Churches for that matter. For there’d be no compelling model of love nor mission to love from which to draw upon. Humans would’ve been deprived of their power to chart their own history and learn it’s lessons. Men and women would’ve been deprived of living life. Also, Christ would’ve been stuck on earth, constantly changing less than ideal governments. That’s not a life.

I watched the turn over ceremonies in the AFP, and I was touched by the AFP minister’s prayer. He prayed for the country’s leaders including the President, that they be guided and given the strength to lead wisely. Uttered in community, the prayer showed itself as the middle ground on which Church and State could come together in mutual support and understanding. The Church has dedicated a year in support of it’s priests. I believe one for leaders will be good.

The Church has to look at this country’s leaders as it does all it’s priests- with fraternal love and respect. Would the Church criticize it’s priests in front of churchgoers? It has not and it will not. It recognizes that priests are of the line of Melchizedek. Same with leaders elected by the people. Christ recognized human authority and while here subjected Himself to that regardless of what He knows of them. For He and the Church afterward had a greater purpose, one that’s apart of human history and all it’s troubles yet at the same time intricately linked to it. How this greater purpose can come to be is the realm of the Church. In the end, we’re all in this together, individually trying to make sense out of life and looking for solutions. But together.