Disturbed by a thread where some good and respected friends are somehow engaging in intellectual masturbation on whether the Philippines was in default in 1983. The entire point of the relevant discussion is whether and to what extent the Chinese loans contain potential risk of seizure of our assets, in case we’re unable to pay. WE WERE UNABLE TO PAY CREDITORS IN 1983. And we economists and lawyers dance around what to call that event — either as a technical or a de facto default (since we couldn’t pay), or as some now claim, a non default since the creditors didn’t press for their pound of flesh (and they allowed for a debt rescheduling). Does that cop-out somehow make us feel better about the original point? DO CHINESE LOANS CONTAIN POTENTIAL RISK OF SEIZURE OF OUR ASSETS, IN CASE WE’RE UNABLE TO PAY? DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK THIS CREDITOR WILL ALLOW US NOT TO PAY, OR ALLOW RESCHEDULING (LIKE IN 1983)? Sabi ng lolo ko, ang hirap gisingin ng nagtutulug-tulugan.

Ronald U. Mendoza 
Dean, Ateneo School of Government

water woes

our water problem is sooo complicated.  we need more dams, we need more rain, say government officials and their cohorts.  no one dares talk about how deforestation is at the very root of it.  government’s logging bans are a joke.

By Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan
7 January 2019

BONTOC, Mountain Province—An eerie calm exists over the villages of Fedelisan, Sagada and Dalican in Bontoc in Mountain Province in northern Philippines. It is because there is no telling how many killings will again turn the pristine waters red. Not too long ago, 10 people died and scores injured in prolonged tribal war over water.

Water has become a major bone of contention not only in villages but also nationwide. Water-related conflicts have been increasing lately.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), in four regions covering 56 provinces, identified 34 areas last year where shooting and killing erupted due to conflicts on water rights, boundaries, use and sharing.

In urban areas, it may not be long before the problem of diminishing water resource goes uncontrolled toward social unrest. Per capita demands are increasing and per capita water availability is declining due to population growth and trends in economic development.

The country’s capital, Manila, is the most vulnerable to water scarcity, so  are the major cities of Baguio, Cebu,  Bacolod, Iloilo, Olongapo, Angeles, Cagayan de Oro, Pagadian and Davao, the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation (PCWS) said. These cities are currently experiencing severe water shortages.

Enough water but unavailable for all

It may be unthinkable because according to Dr. Peter H. Glieck of the Pacific Institute for Environment, the country happens to have 323 km3 per year of total renewable fresh water supply, third-most bountiful in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and Malaysia. But think again.

Of that amount, the country can only withdraw a total of 29.5 percent yearly of water.

Glieck reported in the 2012 edition of the World Water that the Philippines will need some 393 percent of total withdrawal until the next 10 years.

Of the total withdrawable amount, 18 percent is consumed for domestic use, 21 percent for industrial purposes and 61 percent for agricultural irrigation.

Luzon itself is a paradoxical case. Even with the Gran Cordillera, Caraballo and Sierra Madre ranges, which cradle three giant river basins—Agno, Angat and Cagayan—water scarcity has not only become a problem in the country’s biggest island. It is also causing sanitation constraints and increasing incidences of water-related diseases. The amount of land irrigated is falling as competition for agricultural water is being strained to the limit.

Deforestation and water mismanagement are culprits

Not surprisingly, massive deforestation is behind the problem.

Deforestation is rampant nationwide. If the country’s deforestation rate pegged at 1,500 hectares a day as of 1995 by the World Resources Institute is not scary enough, deforestation rates in several provinces are more alarming with many provinces falling below the  ideal 60:40 forest-settlement ratio to maintain ecological balance.

The Cordillera Ecological Center (CEC), an environmental nongovernment organization, said at least six provinces in the Cordillera region have only between 20 percent and 30 percent forest cover, based from Landsat satellites estimates, with the province of Benguet having the least forest cover.

The Philippines itself has only a little more than 4 million hectares of forests left, 700,000 hectares of which are virgin forests as bared by former Senate Committee on Environment head, Sen. Loren B. Legarda.

But it may not be long before these are wiped out, what with the deforestation rate far outstripping reforestation efforts.

According to former director of PCWS, Rory Villaluna, deforestation is not the only cause for worsening water inadequacy. Rather, water resources—like river basins, rivers, creeks, brooks and underground water—are inadequately protected, conserved and rehabilitated.

She said water levels have not only gone down. These are being polluted at an alarming rate such that it is not fit for domestic or agricultural use.

Such statements only prove Legarda’s lamentable revelation that only one forester guards and protects every 3,000 hectares of forests in the country.

“We often equate water with forests, but actually ill water management and use has only aggravated the sad state of our watersheds—our main sources of water. Much water, if not polluted and poisoned, can be used back for the burgeoning population,” Villaluna said.

“We ask what forests can give us, but we don’t do enough to give back to conserve our forests and water,” she added.

Dying rivers

The Agno River of the Philippines is a very good example. While it feeds three dams—San Roque, Ambuklao and Binga which generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity—it is dying.

From its headwaters in Mount Data and Loo, Buguias in Benguet, now the country’s center of highland vegetable production, toxic pesticides find their way to the river.

Along its stretch, vegetable gardens using dangerous broad spectrum pesticides exist. The deadly chemicals eventually find their way to the river through soil and water surface, as well as underground run-off.

As the river reaches Itogon municipality, cyanide and mercury from the various mines and hundreds of pocket miners seep to the river. A Japan International Cooperation Agency study in 1990 showed that at Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan, the delta of Agno, shellfishes have trace deposits of cyanide and mercury.

Mercurial and cyanide poisoning cause weakening of the human body, and these are characterized by symptoms coughing, vomiting, reddening of eyes, nausea and difficulty of breathing, said the Dr. Charles Cheng, a noted medical researcher and director of the Baguio-based Chinese-Filipino General Hospital.

Because both have cumulative effects, they may not kill instantly in small deposits in the human body. But when accumulation defeats the tolerable level of the human body, instant death occurs, said Cheng, who has recently passed away.

Besides the two deadly chemicals, an independent assessment team commissioned by the Friends of the Earth and the International Rivers Network found several more harmful chemicals in Agno’s river. Dr. Sergio Feld of the team identified these as lead, selenium, molybdenum, iron, manganese, zinc, arsenic, copper, nickel and even radioactive compounds like uranium.

The Manila-based Upland NGO Committee (Unac) said 27 rivers which used to provide household water, irrigation, fishing haven, and washing and swimming grounds are “crying in silence” as they go to die in dams or either run dry.

Unac member and secretary-general of the NGO Bantay Mina, Nestor Caoli, said six of the 27 rivers—Balili, Agno, Baroro, Balincaquin, Bued and Dagupan—are biologically dead due to mining.

Six more rivers are heavily polluted and silted by mining activities. These are Naguillan, Upper Magat, Caraballo, Santa Fe, Amburayan and Pasil.

Expanding agricultural operations are pouring pesticide elements into the river, Caoli said. The dead and dying rivers are adversely affecting economic and social activities of people living within and along the rivers’ headwaters and tributaries, Unac added.

CEC added that one river that feeds the country’s vegetable bowl, Balili River, is being killed mainly by solid-waste pollution, including human excrement from Baguio City, a known highland tourism city. An estimated 3,000 tons monthly of human excreta is treated by the Baguio Sewage Plant but still find their way to Balili river.

The Cordillera, it appears, is fast turning out to be the region of not only the “dammed damned, but also of dying rivers,” CEC said.

The government’s Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources came out with a different view but still complements the findings of the NGOs. It said Amburayan and Baroro rivers in La Union are dead, so are Agno and Dagupan of Pangasinan.

Even the rivers in the provinces of Bulacan and Batangas are dying; Balagtas, Bocaue, Guiguinto, Marilao and Meycauayan in Bulacan, and Dumaca-a in Batangas.

In Luzon’s heart, Metro Manila, nine river sub-basins may soon have only poisoned water. These are Obando-Malabon-Navotas estuary in Balut and Malabon; Tullahan in Valenzuela; and the three Taguig-Napindan river basins in Taguig and Taguig-Napindan in Fort Bonifacio.

These are in the most critical situations among the country’s 18 river basins whose areas total to more than 110,000 square kilometers.

No water means death of communities

The dead and silent rivers are now the subject of fierce rhetoric from environmentalists hell-bent on protecting what is left of the country’s water sources. NGOs in Luzon look squarely at logging companies, mines, dams and insensitive farmers as culprits.

Forester George Facsoy of the CEC, for instance, sees the death of rivers as the decapitation of communities from the ecosystem that once supported them.

In the Cordillera, “water is looked upon as life itself,” as the Igorot hero Macli-ing Dulag once said.

Death of a river means people will suffer deep economic recession. There will be no farms and fishing areas, and people will be marginalized, making them dependent on outside culture difficult for them to adapt to, he said.

The precious water from rivers replenishes the paddies and deposits fertile silt onto thousands of hectares of farms which foster populations along rivers. If and when the rivers run dry, the imprint of many centuries of human civilizations’ cumulative toiling, ethnic culture and identity will be forever lost, he said.

Groundwater will be affected

The extinction of rivers will directly affect underground water resources, the National Water Resources Center warned. Of all the nation’s provinces, only 12 have groundwater resources that are expected to provide water in the near future. Not one of these has a groundwater area of more than 30,000 hectares—meaning—population density will definitely bear hard on water that these sources can provide.

Groundwater, often looked upon as an unreliable resource, is possible of being lost. It is very vulnerable and with the water and sanitation sectors’ poor management of it, like surface water, it may soon be lost to oblivion.

If so, biodiversity will be lost too, and economic and social activities will altogether be disrupted, especially in the lower regions.

Water wars in this millennium

The specter of water crisis will cause communities to fight tooth and nail for its possession and use.

The politics of water is as difficult as preventing a war. It makes rivers no longer “deep and wide” as the song goes, but the rift between communities.

Sandra Postel of the influential Worldwatch Institute said: “In efforts to seek and prevent water as flashpoints of conflict, there is a must for mediators to allocate strategies where communities or nations can agree to equal sharing.”

Easier said than done, especially so when no law exists where pressure is put on lower communities to either pay for the water that flows or die without. Moreso, putting water scarcity to the already crowded policy agenda of the government has not yet been done with genuine interest by Philippine lawmakers, even though the challenge to recognize water scarcity as an increasingly powerful cause of political and social instability is so great.

In fact, politicians have yet to pass a Code of Conduct for the water and sanitation sector.

“Communities and even counties will go to war,” warned Facsoy, “and the government may find it too late to act.”

The villages in Mountain Province are not the only volatile places. This year’s drought, the impending long, hot summer and El Niño next year, need not spell these out.

Bengwayan has a Master’s Degree and PhD in Development Studies and Environmental Resource Management from University College Dublin, Ireland, as a European Union fellow. He is currently a fellow of Echoing Green Foundation in New York.

debunking tiglao  #EDSA #1986

i’m sure rigoberto bobi tiglao has a copy of my EDSA Uno book because he asked katrina for one when she was still with the manila times.  so, really, nakakataas ng kilay at medyo katawa-tawa ang kanyang Five facts about EDSA we didn’t know at the time.  napaka-selective and kind of twisted, in aid of putting down cory and EDSA and / while touching up the images, toning down the martial-law tainted vibes, of enrile and marcos in the time of EDSA.

historical revisionism to the max, with overtones of machismo.  all of thirty-three years later and these guys still can’t stop whining, and their tall tales get even taller.  hindi pa rin nila matanggap na naungusan sila, naisahan sila ni cory, fair and square, in those 10 shining days of the february boycott that saw the blooming of EDSA and the ousting of marcos.  get over it, guys.

TIGLAO:  Cory Aquino had little to do with EDSA 1.

CHAROT.  this is only a variation on enrile’s cory-was-not-even-in-EDSA line, and it’s also not true.  she was there for a while, in person, on the afternoon of day three 24 feb – long enough to pray the our father and sing bayan ko with the crowd in front of POEA  (reported by manila bulletin 25 feb).  thing is, she didn’t even need to make an appearance.

from the start, cory was all over EDSA in spirit – when the people trooped to EDSA they were wearing cory’s colors and waving her flags, and they were still on crony-boycott mode, demanding that marcos resign so cory could take over.

kung hindi kay cory na nilabanan si marcos sa snap election, kung saan dinaya siya ni marcos, kung kaya’t nagprotesta siya sa luneta at buong tapang na iginiit na siya ang tunay na nagwagi sa halalan, sabay tulak ng civil disobedience at crony boycott, na sinakyan nang todo ng mga coryistang sabik sa pagbabago… kung hindi kay cory at sa kanyang panawagan for non-violence a la ghandi and ninoy… kung hindi sa mga coryista na nanalig sa mapayapang pagbabago… walang naganap na EDSA.

kung hindi para sa ikauusad ng laban ni cory, walang coryistang pumunta sa EDSA maliban sa mga alipores nina enrile at ramos at RAM.  kung hindi nangumpisal si enrile na dinaya si cory sa cagayan by some 300,000 votes and that the september 22 1972 ambush on his convoy was staged, walang pumunta sa EDSA.

it was very smart of enrile, confirming in so many words that cheating indeed happened in the snap election and that martial law was declared under false pretenses.  ang dating sa people ay, uy!  biglang sinisiraan si marcos, baka cory na sila! — ang tindi at ang sigla ng kabig sa hearts and minds of the anti-marcos.

napaka-smart din of enrile to deny the aborted coup (set for 2:00 AM 23 feb, obviously hoping to preempt cory) that the vers discovered and marcos accused enrile and ramos of in a presscon later that saturday night.  admitting to the planned coup would have forced enrile to also admit that he had hoped to replace marcos as head of a ruling junta, which would have been the appropriate time to offer himself as an alternative to cory, in all honesty, except that it would surely have turned off the coryistas.  goodbye, human shields.   which could also be why enrile lied to the people, denied the aborted coup, all through the four days and beyond.

ika-pitong araw na ng boykot nang nag-defect sina enrile at ramos… kung hindi sila nag-defect, tuloy tuloy ang boykot, ipinapalaganap na nga ni cory sa visayas at mindanao (kaya siya nasa cebu, next stop davao).  kung hindi nagdramá sina enrile at ramos, tuloy tuloy ang crony boycott, tuloy tuloy ang panawagan ni cory at ng mga coryista na mag-resign na si marcos.

cory and marcos and, of course, enrile — all three camps — were “working” with a deadline.  the proclaimed winner had to take his/her oath within 10 days from proclamation.  marcos was proclaimed winner by the batasan on feb 15 and was preparing for a feb 25 oathtaking.  cory proclaimed herself winner in luneta on feb 16.

kung hindi nagdramá sina enrile at ramos, i imagine that cory would have been back in manila by the 24th and leading a humongous march to mendiola, if not the palace, demanding marcos’s resignation, and setting the stage for her oathtaking, preferably ahead of marcos.  given such a scenario, with the economy reeling from a nationwide crony boycott, it would not be far-fetched to assume that the military reformists would have defected anyway and fallen in line behind cory and the “will of the people.” wala nang drama-drama.  wala ring whining and tall tales post-marcos.

TIGLAO: Another brilliant move of Enrile was to call Cardinal Sin to ask his faithful to surround Camp Crame to form their human shield.  

CHARRRING!  hello?  iyan ba ang latest press release ni enrile to mark the 33rd anniv?  it was his bright idea that the people be asked to surround camp crame and shield the rebels??? — teka, tiglao can’t even get the camps straight: enrile was in aguinaldo when he phoned cardinal sin sometime before the 6:30 PM presscon (enrile didn’t move to crame until day two, when the tanks started rolling down EDSA); sa aguinaldo rin pinuntahan ni butz aquino si enrile, around 10 PM, after the presscon, and then butz spoke over radio veritas at 10:20 and made that first call for people and a peaceful solution, just before marcos appeared on TV, accusing enrile and ramos of a failed attempt to overthrow him.  according to radio veritas tapes of that night, cardinal sin seconded butz’s call for a peaceful solution at 10:40 while marcos was on tv, which means the cardinal did not exactly rush to do enrile’s bidding, if bidding it was.

ayon sa cardinal, humingi ng tulong si enrile, na ayaw pa daw niyang mamatay; it sounded to the cardinal daw like enrile was trembling, almost crying.  ayon kay enrile, puro kasinungalingan!  iyun nga lang, hindi malinaw kung alin ang kasinungalingan: na tinawagan niya si cardinal sin?  o, na nangingining ang boses niya sa takot at mangiyak-ngyiyak siya nung tawagan niya si cardinal?  kung yung una, e di wow, fake news, tiglao!

kung yung huli, wow pa rin.  so enrile wasn’t scared at all, he was so sure kasi that the people would come and save his skin if the cardinal asked them to?  but why would the cardinal even have entertained his request, unless maybe he offered to support cory in return?

ayon naman kay butz na nag-alok ng tulong, “we need all the support we can get” ang tugon ni enrile; ayon pa kay butz, enrile was “tense, perspiring, perhaps from the heat of his bullet-proof vest.”  a bullet-proof vest.  clearly enrile expected bullets to fly and could only think of staying alive.  but, again, who knows, he could have told butz exactly what tiglao alleges he told the cardinal, which might explain why butz was quick to go on radio and call on people to join him in a march to the EDSA camp?

but who’s to say that tiglao and/or enrile speak the truth on this matter at this point in time, with the cardinal and butz no longer around to confirm or deny.  too late the hero, di ba.  enrile should have claimed the bright idea while the two still lived, why didn’t he?  maybe because at some point during the four days he may have deceived himself into thinking that the people were in EDSA, not for cory, but for him?  LOLZ.

TIGLAO: The Marcos military succumbed to the EDSA forces because they realized that they were helpless facing the huge crowds. Marcos had given them the categorical order which was impossible to implement — “Disperse the crowds but do not shoot them.”  Isn’t it Marcos therefore that made it possible for EDSA to be a “peaceful revolution”?

CHAROOOOOT!  by the time marcos staged that piece of performance art on TV around 10 AM on day 3 Monday, ordering ver “not to attack” (were his words), it was AFTER he had earlier ordered an all out bomb attack on crame, but which orders were defied at around 6 AM by sotelo’s 15th strike wing that landed in crame instead and joined the rebels, and at around 9 AM by balbas’s marines who found all kinds of reasons not to fire on crame from aguinaldo’s golf course.  tapos na ang boksing.  marcos had lost control of the military, so nag-drama na lang sila ni ver, kunwari ay nagpipigil.

In fact, when Marcos had that exchange with Ver on nationwide TV, he was just being his wily old self, making the best of a bad situation by pretending to be the good guy, hoping to fool Washington D.C. and the Vatican, if not the Filipino people, a little while longer. [EDSA UNO (2013) page 206]

TIGLAO: The US betrayed Marcos, shanghaiing him to Hawaii.

TRULILI!  but marcos had no one to blame but himself for trusting that the americans would stand by him and risk the ire of cory who started calling the shots the moment bosworth phoned to inform her that marcos had left the palace.

… it was the Marcoses themselves who had called on the Americans for help. What if they had not so distrusted the pilots of the presidential helicopters who were prepared, since Monday morning, to fly them to anywhere in the islands; or what if Marcos had motored to Paoay in his fully-equipped ambulance. And then, again, perhaps Marcos was just too sick for a long road trip, which would render impressive the fact that he was able to walk out of the palace on his own two feet.

Still and all, if they had snubbed the American offer, if they had left under their own steam, chances are they would have made it to Paoay, and People Power would have had to regroup.

So do we owe the Americans a debt of gratitude for taking him away into exile? The better ending would have been if the Marcoses had taken the presidential choppers, and the pilots turned out to be reformists and took the First Couple to Crame instead. With Enrile in charge, no harm would have come to them, but they would have had to face the judgement of the people in a revolutionary court, and maybe, just maybe, People Power would have levelled up to the challenge of standing strong for the greater good vs. the elite and crony interests represented by Cory and Enrile.

That would have brought closure, and ushered in a new order. [EDSA UNO page 320]

TIGLAO: Under both the 1935 and 1973 Constitution, Corazon Aquino was not qualified to run for president in the 1986 “snap elections.”

MOOT AND ACADEMIC (AND ANEMIC).  a case “that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical value. As a rule, courts decline jurisdiction over such case, or dismiss it on ground of mootness.”

TIGLAO:  Cory’s 1986 electoral campaign was handled by a US PR firm.

SO WHAT.  marcos’s 1986 electoral campaign was handled, too, by a US PR firm: black, manafort, stone & kelly.  as for sawyer-miller, read tina arceo-dumlao’s British lord recalls Cory Aquino campaign.

LORD MARK MALLOCH-BROWN.  I remember that it was about two days after that article [on Cory knowing next to nothing about the US bases, bylined by then New York Times executive editor Abe Rosenthal] was published that I flew to Iloilo to meet her (Cory) as she was campaigning.

… I have never done a campaign in an environment like the Philippines. Thank God for the Inquirer and thank God for Radio Veritas, too. Literally, they were the only two who would fairly cover us.

…  the group’s strategy during the snap elections was to often challenge Marcos to a debate since they knew that he could not be separated long enough from the machine he needed to keep his kidneys going to attend a debate.

MULLOCH-BROWN. … (Cory’s) main thing was this willingness she had to overcome the media problem by just going and campaigning everywhere. I mean she was formidable. She was just out on the road every day going all over the country and I have done an awful lot of campaigns since but I still say I learned my whole business on Cory’s campaign.

… during that campaign she was very strategic and disciplined about what she was doing. It was a real privilege to watch her.

Exit poll 

He said his final outstanding accomplishment during the Cory campaign was to produce an exit poll that indicated that she had won. It landed on the front page of the Inquirer and had a profound impact as it planted the idea that Aquino had won over Marcos, 55 percent to 45 percent.  

her stint as prez left much to be desired, but I love cory anyway for her gift of EDSA.  I think she was at her most wonderful and dazzling in the 10 days of the crony boycott that climaxed in marcos’s ouster. I think she handled ninoy’s jailers, enrile and ramos, quite brilliantly — i doubt that we could have freaked marcos out just like that if not for cory.

so please, if you machos must diss her, diss her for refusing to repudiate marcos debts or for having to ask the US for help in quelling the 1989 coup attempt or for exempting certain haciendas from agrarian reform, but please not for EDSA, and not for the sake of enrile and marcos, because that says so much more about you guys than about cory, who was in another league altogether at that point in time.

in fairness to cory

not surprisingly, social media are dredging up the libel case that president cory aquino filed vs. louie beltran in october 1987 and asking if maria ressa’s case is comparable.  but surprisingly, and dismayingly, the video i happened to catch on my facebook newsfeed, courtesy of ONENews #RushHour, opened with this:

V.O.  Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s libel case may be the first of its kind against a Philippine president…

huh?  ressa filed a libel case against the president?  fake news ba ito o wishful thinking.  lol.  and here’s another booboo, a minute and some 40 seconds in.

V.O.  The Court of Appeals however dismissed the case in 1995 acquitting Soliven and Beltran, but it was too late for Beltran who died a year after the case was dismissed. [bold mine]

HUH?  too late indeed, but certainly not for the reason indicated.  sloppy work, ONENews #RushHour!  bakit nakakalusot ang blatant errors na ganyan?  walang nag-e-edit ng scripts, walang nagmomonitor ng taping, walang fact-checking, masyado kasing madalian, rush nga?

well, hindi naman sila nag-iisa.  also caught a phone interview (by some social media group) of a UP academic who said the cory case happened in 1989.  maybe his source was the online copy of another UP prof’s 2003 column/essay that has mercifully since been corrected.  at least #RushHour got that one right.

but watch the video anyway for cito beltran’s defense of his dad.

CITO BELTRAN. … the president herself pointed out that she could not possibly fit under the bed because there was no space under the bed.  logic lang will say, apparently that she was misled, that my father was calling her a coward….

and read Hiding under the bed, my reaction back in 1995, published in ISYU, jarius bondoc’s all-opinion tabloid, soon after the case was dismissed on appeal.  in fairness to cory.