All publications of Gabriel Agdon . Paranaque City , Philippines
"Not all heroes wear capes, not all heroes are truly good."
Filipino movies and teleseryes have raised us to believe that heroes are infallible (and, in some cases, bulletproof). In real life, however, it’s not so black-and-white. Our national heroes were flesh and blood who made mistakes just like any other Filipino during their time.
The Luna brothers had a violent streak.
While Juan Luna is known for his award-winning and haunting "Spoliarium," history books often forget to tell us that he killed his wife. Yes, the country’s most famous painter and hero murdered his wife (and his mother-in-law!) in a fit of jealous rage. And there is also evidence that suggests his family used their connections so that he would get preferential treatment while in prison.
His brother Antonio was no better. The hot-headed general almost killed their friend, Jose Rizal. Once, again it was jealousy that drove Antonio to almost duel to the death with Rizal.
Luna refers to the moon, which is often associated with madness. Could this just be a coincidence?
Rizal and Goyo were known womanizers.
One of the first things we learn about Jose Rizal is that he was linked to a lot of women during his lifetime. In fact, almost everywhere he would go, he would find a suitable paramour. When his heart finally settled on the Irish beauty, Josephine Bracken, he had already earned a reputation of being a ladies’ man. (Initially, Bracken’s adoptive father was against the union of the 18-year-old girl and the doctor who was in his 30s.)
Despite this, Rizal was very strict with his sisters, especially with the boys they date. In a letter to Soledad, he scolds her for not introducing her “sweetheart” to their family. Now before we accuse Rizal of being anti-feminist, let’s not forget that the hero also supported women’s right to proper education, as he had written down in his letters to the Women of Malolos.
Quezon was a bit vain and shut down his critics.
Manuel Quezon was your typical charismatic politician whose mestizo looks captured the heart of a nation. It seems as though he was aware of this and he made the effort of having his sleek flat-top hairstyle groomed to perfection for his public appearances. Some even say that he had a personal barber. His efforts were not in vain (pun intended) because even at 5’6” he managed to impress almost everyone he met. A foreigner even said that he was “as handsome as a Roman god.”
This vanity, however, proved to be his heroic flaw. While history credits Quezon for being the “Ama ng Wikang Pambansa” and praises him for his open-door policy for Jewish refugees during WWII, there is also a dark chapter in this hero’s life.
The movie Quezon's Game depicted him as a puppet of the U.S. government and the ruling class. During his time in government, big businesses and landowners were favored over workers and farmers.
This depiction was not far-fetched. In fact, one of the most harrowing episodes during his governance was the Cabuyao Massacre. The Constabulary opened fired at Sakdalistas, a faction of government critics led no less than by Quezon's former ally. What made it worse was that this massacre happened in a church.
(The Sakdalistas later splintered into two groups. One group partnered with the Japanese and eventually became the Makapilis. The other group formed the Hukbalahap, which was later accused of killing Quezon’s wife, Doña Aurora.)
Aguinaldo ordered the killing of the Bonifacio brothers, was implicated in the murder of Antonio Luna and his followers, and pretty much sold the country.
Emilio Aguinaldo was more of a politician than a hero. Though we cannot deny his contribution during the Philippine-Spanish War, we also cannot avoid the dark deeds that made historians openly call him a traitor.
The start of his infamy in the history of the Philippines was at the Tejeros Convention. Though he wasn’t physically present, it was said that he conspired with his allies to corner Andres Bonifacio.
By giving the Supremo a meager role in the revolutionary government (nothing more than the equivalent of a treasurer), he angered Magdiwang, the Tagalog faction of the Katipunan. This is what further stirred animosity between Magdalo and Magdiwang.
Of course, it was revealed that he was the mastermind behind the murder of the Bonifacio brothers and General Antonio Luna, all of whom did not share his point of view in governance and also posed as threats to his leadership.
In his letters that were auctioned off to private buyers in 2019, he admitted to the murder of the Supremo. In his own words, he stated, “I had to yield,” which was said to be his concession to the advice of his allies that Bonifacio was more trouble than he’s worth.
Regarding Antonio Luna, his hit biopic depicted Aguinaldo as the mastermind behind the general’s gruesome death. Whatever really happened, many historians assume that it couldn’t have happened without Aguinaldo’s knowledge. Because of this, he was partly responsible for Luna’s death and of his aide, Paco Roman. (Luna’s loyal followers were also later tracked down and killed.)
The biggest betrayal of all, however, was the fact the Aguinaldo simply gave up the Philippines after all the lives that were lost for its freedom. When Cavite fell, his revolutionary government capitulated to Spain and accepted P1,700,000 as payment (he later said this was used to buy arms to take back the country, we can never really trust this). How’s that for a betrayal?
Did you know that?
Cyberviolence affects almost half of Filipino children aged 13-17
(According to the UNICEF study)
According to UNICEF, one in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five saying they skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence, according to a new poll released today by UNICEF, the United Nations organization working for children’s rights.
In the Philippines, latest national data show that cyberviolence affects almost half of children aged 13-171. The prevalence of cyberviolence for males (44 per cent) is almost the same for females (43 per cent).
One-third of cyberviolence experienced by Filipino children are in the form of verbal abuse over the internet or cellphone, while a fourth are through sexual messages. More females received messages of sexual nature or content than males. However, twice as many males than females reported having their nude body or sexual activities, whether real or falsified, shown on the internet or cellphone.
Violence against children, in all forms including online bullying or cyberbullying, has devastating effects on the physical and emotional wellbeing of young people. This can create lasting emotional and psychological scars, even physical harm. It is particularly challenging to address since children are vulnerable and have easy access to the internet, making them easy targets of online violence.
In the UNICEF U-Report poll conducted in June 2019, almost three-quarters of young people from 30 countries said that social networks including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are the most common platforms for online bullying. Being connected online means that school no longer ends once a student leaves class, and neither does bullying.
The U-Report further revealed that 32 per cent believe that the government is mainly responsible in addressing online bullying, 31 per cent said that young people are responsible, while 29 per cent said internet companies. These show that opinions are equally divided on who should be responsible for ending online bullying – highlighting the need to involve children and young people in the shared responsibility.
UNICEF is calling for urgent action to implement policies that will protect children and young people from bullying – both online and offline. Addressing the problem requires action from all of us.
Establishing and equipping national helplines to support children and young people in reporting violence is a concrete step. Training teachers and parents to respond to and prevent bullying will ensure the safety of children and young people, particularly the most vulnerable ones.
Gathering better data about the online behavior of children and young people, and how criminals are using the internet, will guide policies and action plans.
UNICEF is also urging social media and social networking service companies to improve ethical standards and practices in collecting and managing information of children.
Red Tagging in the Philippines
Redtagging in the Philippines refers to the malicious blacklisting of individuals or organizations critical or not fully supportive of the actions of a sitting government administration. This blacklisting takes the form of being "tagged" as either a Communist or terrorist or both, regardless of one's actual political beliefs or group affiliations. Such blacklisting is a form of incitement and has pernicious effects on its targets. Redtagging may be performed by either public servants or shills.
Is the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization?
The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) was listed as a foreign terrorist organization in the United States in 2002.
On Dec. 5, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization.
The Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA) or Republic Act 9372 defines a terrorist organization as any group of persons that commit certain crimes in the Revised Penal Code--like rebellion, coup d’etat, kidnapping, and murder, among others--to sow “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”
However, section 17 of the HSA requires the government to seek clearance from the court before an organization is officially declared “terrorist.” The Department of Justice filed a petition with a Manila regional trial court on Feb. 21, but the court has yet to decide the case.
What could happen if you’re red-baited?
Should the court rule in the government’s favor, persons and groups that are suspected—not necessarily proven—to be associated with the CPP-NPA may be put under surveillance, have their assets frozen, or even be detained without charges.
The risks of being tagged:
If the court declares the Communist Party of the Philippines a terrorist group, victims of red-tagging may be subject to:
▪️Interception and recording of communication
Sec. 7: Upon written order of the Court of Appeals (CA), police may record and interpret any communication (spoken or written) of a person suspected or charged with committing or conspiring to commit an act of terrorism, with the exception of communicating with one's lawyer and/or doctor, and journalists.
▪️Detention without charges
Sec. 19: In the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack, persons suspected of terrorism or conspiracy may be detained without charges, as long as it is approved by a judge of the municipal/regional trial court, the Sandiganbayan, or CA nearest to the place of arrest.(Also refers to the Anti-Terror Law)
▪️Restricted travel and personal liberties
Sec. 26: Persons charged with terrorism or conspiracy--even if granted bail for lack of strong evidence--may be restricted to one's municipality or put under house arrest, and/or prohibited from using cellular phones, computers or other means of communication with those outside of the residence.
▪️Examination of bank records
Sec. 27: Provided there is probable cause, the CA may authorize law enforcement to examine the bank/financial records of persons charged or suspected of committing or conspiring to commit terrorism.
▪️Seizure and sequestration of assets
Sec. 39: Deposits, outstanding balances, businesses, transportation and communication equipment, and other assets and possessions of persons charged or suspected of committing or conspiring to commit terrorism shall be seized, sequestered and frozen.
The Human Security Act(HSA) lists four types of terrorism charges.
Four types of terrorism charges:
Any person who commits an act punishable by select provisions of the Revised Penal Code--such as rebellion, coup d'etat, murder, kidnapping, and arson--to sow widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.
Those found guilty will serve 40 years of imprisonment without parole.
Conspiracy is when two or more persons come to an agreement to commit a crime of terrorism.
Conspirators shall also serve 40 years of imprisonment without parole
Any person who, not being the principal actor or conspirator, cooperates in the execution of a crime of terrorism.
Accomplices shall serve 17 years, four months and one day to 20 years of imprisonment.
Any person who is not part of the execution of the crime, but participates by a) profiting or assisting the offender to profit in the crime's effects; 2) concealing/destroying the body of the crime, effects, or instruments used; or 3) harboring, concealing or assisting the escape of the principal actor or conspirator/s of the crime (with the exception of spouses and legal and blood relatives).
Accessories to the crime shall serve 10 years and one day to 12 years of imprisonment.
Red-baiting in its most extreme can lead to warrantless arrests, torture, enforced disappearances (ED), or worst, extrajudicial killings (EJK), according to IPON’s 2012 study.
“Although Red-Baiting does not necessarily end in these human rights violations, many cases of EJK and ED involve Red-Baiting (sic).”
Has red-baiting occurred in the past?
One of the military’s primary strategies against the CPP-NPA under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was “dismantling civil society organizations” that were purportedly “CPP front groups,” though with little to no proof, based on the 2008 report of United Nations human rights special rapporteur Philip Alston. He called it the “vilification of enemies.”
This resulted in a spate of extrajudicial executions of leftist activists, including human rights defenders, trade unionists and land reform activists, since Arroyo sat in office in 2001, he said.
In a news report, Arroyo’s executive secretary, Eduardo Ermita said the killings were “not a national policy.”
Leonen’s dissenting opinion cited Alston’s findings on red-baiting instances.
The HSA, the country’s principal counter-terrorist legislation, was enacted during Arroyo’s time.
DESPITE the challenges to the unprecedented shift to distance learning, the Department of Education (DepEd) said the class opening this school year has been a success
DESPITE the challenges to the unprecedented shift to distance learning, the Department of Education (DepEd) said the class opening this school year has been a success. Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said the agency focused on the proper implementation of learning modalities during the first few weeks of classes.
Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said the agency focused on the proper implementation of learning modalities during the first few weeks of classes.
“The opening of the school year has generally been very successful, and we will continue to face any challenge that lies ahead with great resolve to continue education in the country,” Briones said.
She added that imposing an academic freeze as demanded by some groups was never an option.
“DepEd recognizes the challenges of the school year ahead, but if we opted for an academic freeze, we would have lost many months of the children’s’ learning,” she added.
The DepEd said 690,578,576 Self Learning Modules (SLM) have been printed for the first quarter and around 465,225,636 SLMs were distributed to students nationwide. There are also 3,841,474 digitized SLMs, e-books and online video lessons that could be downloaded from DepEd Commons.
The agency has also invested in radio and television for wider reach. DepEd, Briones said, partnered with 309 radio stations all over the country as part of the Radio Based Instruction program, leading to the airing of 7,740 radio instructional nationwide.
The Television Based Instruction is also being utilized. DepEd said it partnered with 259 television channels nationwide, leading to the airing of 9,207 video materials and episodes.
To correct errors in learning materials, the department launched the Error Watch Initiative in early October.
“The initiative allows the Department to be more open to public feedback in order to further improve the learning experience of every student in the country,” DepEd said in a statement.
From October 12 to 22, the department received 41 reports of errors.
Despite these challenges, Briones said the fact that millions of students continue to pursue their education is “inspiring and encouraging,”
“The Department remains steadfast in its commitment to provide all learners with the quality education they deserve, and we will continue to work hand in hand with our stakeholders to continue education for Filipinos across the country amid these trying times,” she said.
Bohol tourist hub, Panglao Island, records first COVID-19 patient
TAGBILARAN CITY - The tourist town of Panglao in Bohol province is no longer coronavirus disease-free as it recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
In a press release, the municipal government of Panglao said the patient was an employee of PhotoSynthesis, Inc. based in Makati City, and working for EEI Corporation, a construction firm handling some projects at the Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
The patient arrived in Panglao on October 17, 2020, and was initially billeted at Henann Regency Resort and Spa, a certified quarantine facility to complete the 14-day quarantine requirement set by the Panglao Inter-Agency Task Force.
A swab test was conducted on October 22, the fifth day after the patient's arrival.
On October 24, the patient was transferred to the Roman Empire Panglao Resort (REPR), another certified quarantine facility, to complete the remaining days of the mandatory quarantine.
The transfer was made in light of the arrangements made by the patient's employer with the resort.
It was reported that the patient complained of abdominal pain on Saturday night, October 24. A doctor from LGU-Panglao immediately visited the patient for a medical check-up.
The RT- PCR test yielded positive of COVID-19 the following day.
The extraction team from the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Panglao facilitated the transfer of the patient from the resort to an undisclosed isolation facility, which is approved by the municipal government.
Four other personnel from the RHU-Panglao, including the medical doctor, were also under quarantine for having interacted, as first generation contacts, with the confirmed positive patient.
Contract tracing activity was conducted.
The LGU emphasized that the first case of COVID-19 in Panglao is not a local transmission.
Panglao Mayor Leonila Montero encouraged all her constituents to continue to follow basic health protocols.
As of October 27, Bohol has recorded 464 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths. It has 63 active cases and 391 recoveries.
Russia seeks accelerated WHO registration for virus vaccine
Russia has applied to the World Health Organization for accelerated registration and pre-qualification of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the country's sovereign wealth fund said Tuesday.
Russia announced in August that it had registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine, named after the Soviet-era satellite.
On Tuesday, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which finances the vaccine, said that accelerated registration would make Sputnik V "available globally in a shorter time frame than usual procedures."
"The Russian Federation has become one of the first countries to apply to WHO for pre-qualification of its vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection," RDIF said in a statement.
When contacted by AFP, the WHO said such requests were "confidential".
According to the Russian statement, "successful pre-qualification will enable Sputnik V to be included in the list of medicines used by international procurement agencies and countries to guide bulk purchasing of medicines."
Some Western scientists have expressed concern over the Russian vaccine, warning that moving too quickly could be dangerous.
The WHO told AFP: "If a product submitted for evaluation is deemed to conform to criteria for inscription on the list, the WHO will publish the results widely."
So far, the WHO said, it "has not yet pre-qualified a vaccine for COVID-19, nor published any emergency use listing."
That is "a risk-based procedure for assessing and listing unlicensed vaccines, therapeutics and in vitro diagnostics with the ultimate aim of expediting the availability of these products to people affected by a public health emergency," the WHO website says.
On Monday, British pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca said that trials of its coronavirus vaccine pioneered with Oxford University had shown "encouraging" responses among elderly, as well as younger. participants.
Abante to Paralde: Avoid Making Baseless Remarks
“Silence is golden.”
The phrase––widely attributed to poet Thomas Carlyle––is something members of the military should keep in mind, according to Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante Jr., who on Sunday urged Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to take to heart the advice of Secretary of National Defense (SND) Delfin Lorenzana, who earlier cautioned Parlade against issuing statements against activist groups without evidence.
“Sec. Lorenzana has a valid point––the same point those of us in Congress made following the reckless red-tagging statements of PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) Usec. Lorraine Badoy, who, like Lt. Gen. Parlade, is also a spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac),” said Abante.
Abante was Minority Leader when he spoke up in defense of Makabayan Bloc members who were accused by Badoy of being terrorists.
The Manila solon stressed out that “the issue involving the red-tagging of members of the Minority runs along the same lines of what was done to Ms. Liza Soberano, who was red-tagged simply for speaking and sharing her story at a conference organized by the youth arm of Gabriela.”
“Wala naman silang hawak na ebidensya laban sa Gabriela. Our officers in the military need to be reminded that aside from being a women’s advocacy group, Gabriela is an accredited party-list organization that has a sitting representative in Congress,” pointed out the lawmaker.
“The allegations leveled by Lt. Gen. Parlade echo that of Usec. Badoy; both contend that Gabriela has a violent agenda, but neither can offer proof to back up their statements.”
Following the remarks of Parlade, Lorenzana said “my thoughts about that is if there is no evidence yet, do not talk about it.”
Lorenzana also told reporters that he would meet with members of the NTF-Elcac.
Abante appealed to Parlade, Badoy, and the NTF-Elcac to “take a closer look at the root causes of the communist insurgency and the tactics they have adopted to combat it.”
“Perhaps instead of attacking Ms. Soberano and other personalities, they can find a more positive and inspiring way to make a clear and compelling case to the public that one need not take arms to effect change in our country,” said the legislator.
“Now is not the time to attack one another because of our differing beliefs; now is the time to set these aside and work for the collective good. Kailangan natin magkaisa.”
Religious gatherings up to 30% capacity allowed - IATF
Religious gatherings up to 30% capacity allowed
More people will now be able to visit churches after the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed religious gatherings of up to 30 percent of the seating or venue capacity in areas under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ).
In an interview with State-run PTV-4, presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced that the IATF made the decision to allow Filipinos to celebrate Christmas during the pandemic.
“Wala na kasi tayong Undas, sarado ang ating mga sementeryo, tapos marami na rin tayong nakansela (We are not able to observe All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, the cemeteries are closed, and there were a lot of events canceled),” he said Friday.
“Siguro naman kahit papaano mag – karoon naman tayo ng pagpapatuloy ng ating mga Christmas traditions bagamat 30 percent lang po ang ating pupuwe – deng Simbang Gabi (Perhaps we can proceed with our Christmas traditions even though only 30 percent of the venue capacity are allowed during the dawn masses),” he added.
The Palace official added that the decision to ease the restrictions on religious gatherings was also reasonable following the consistently low number of COVID-19 cases reported daily this past week.
“Dahil ang mga Pilipino naman po ay sumusunod sa ating Presidente na nagma-mask, naghuhugas, at nag-iiwas, nakikita naman po natin na bumubuti kasi ang numero (Because a lot of Filipinos are following President Duterte’s appeal to wear a mask, wash their hands, and practice physical distancing, the numbers are getting better),” Roque said.
He added that the recommendation of Metro Manila mayors to increase the number of people allowed for religious gatherings helped the IATF reach the decision.
“Nandiyan na rin ang katotohanan na ang mga Metro Manila mayors po ay nag-agree na rin na ang curfew pagdat – ing ng a-uno ng Disyembre ay gagawing 12-3 para tayo ay makapag-Simbang Gabi (There’s also the fact that Metro Manila mayors agreed to shorten the curfew hours from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. beginning Dec. 1 so people can attend the Simbang Gabi),” he said.
Metro Manila mayors have agreed to shorten the curfew hours in the National Capital Region from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. to 12 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Dec. 1 to accommodate those who will attend the Simbang Gabi.
While Malacañang welcomed the decision of the local chief executives, he said the IATF will have to make the decision.
The Simbang Gabi is the traditional nine-day novena of masses that starts on Dec. 16 and culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.