Public Trust

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By Ronald Roy

In a fried chicken restaurant last week, I could not help overhearing five medical students enjoying themselves by citing personalities who are seen in light of what their names suggest. Prominent politicians embroiled in the pork barrel anomalies were then getting a beating when the name “Benigno B.S. Aquino lll” was mentioned.

The only coed in the group volunteered: “P-Noy’s name is problematic for him. ‘Benign’, from which Benigno is derived, means ‘gentle and kind’, not vengeful, and in medical terms, ‘not harmful or malignant’. [Laughter] And those initials ‘B.S.’ are so suggestively malodorous someone should advise him to do away with them.[Laughter] Finally, in fairness to him, people should stop calling him Benigno B.S. Aquino the Turd”. [Pandemonium]

A name could actually begin to bear an influence on its owner as early as one’s childhood years. For instance, a boy christened “Christopher” could take such an interest in Christopher Columbus he would likely proceed to be an authoritative historian in his professional life; but this isn’t the rule in most cases, certainly not in the case of the Chair of the Commission on Audit, although her name “Maria Gracia Pulido Tan” is, beyond question, as beautiful as it is reverential.

The image that the appellation creates is that of Mary, who is full of grace, and who is the Lord’s handmaid whose work is clean and thorough. Unfortunately, it is a misnomer, apart from her surname “Tan” being associated with the color mix of yellow and brown, as well as with some known tax cheats so-named. Mrs. Tan, a lawyer and a certified public accountant, is a constitutional official of the Republic and, as such, is removable from office only by impeachment.

A personal friend and appointee of P-Noy who loves to travel (at one time, 13 times in 12 months), she is the head of an office that is ordained by its charter, the fundamental law, to serve as the sovereign people’s watchdog institution that is tasked with the audit of all government revenues, resources and other expenditures, and generously endowed with expansive jurisdiction over all government offices and agencies, to each of which a “resident CoA Auditor” is assigned.

When she was appointed, she was aware that such would be the magnitude of her authority, and that such would be the reach of her responsibility in making sure that — with the assistance of all her Auditors acting under her supervision and in accordance with her instructions nationwide — she would be able to arrest at stage two the cancerous pork barrel disease that was already spreading very fast.

But, alas, her office has failed in this regard because, well, like other government offices, CoA has also been so coapted by the executive and legislative departments that the dreaded affliction has now terminally plunged to stage four! No, it would be difficult to hold her administratively liable for mere incompetence or gross negligence, assuming it can be done to someone removable only by impeachment.

But certainly she has breached the public trust by capriciously exercising her authority in order to protect the President and his bosom allies, while zeroing in on his political antagonists on matters of accountability over funds and other assets owned by the sovereign Filipino citizens. Indeed, she has shown excessive partiality in the choice of whom to audit and “expose” in various PDAF and DAP-related situations, in particular those high-profile functionaries known to be eyeing the presidency and vice presidency.

As of this writing, Mrs. Tan’s latest “victims” are Cong. Mickey Arroyo and Sen. Bong Bong Marcos. No, I am not acting the apologist for these legislators who, in the first place, would be their own best defenders. But I do decry her obvious persecution of her benefactor’s political enemies. I do decry the culpable debasement of her constitutional oath to discharge her office with impartiality, independence and fairness.

Under her watch, CoA has been sleeping on the job. As a result, the floodgates of graft and corruption have been opened wider than ever before in history. In a sense, it may now be stated that because of her inept leadership, P-Noy’s government has become the most corrupt ever to have come to pass in this country. And, maracas de Caracas, I hear she is expecting a reward by way of a Supreme Court seat, after Jardeleza, id est !

If this is true, then her running afoul with both the basic charter and the public trust is, without doubt, the result of some form of dictation from the Palace and the two Houses of Congress. If this is true, then the CoA Chair is guilty of the unbridled defilement of the public trust that her own public office is deemed to be.

09186449517
rqonald8roy@gmail.com

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ISIS: State Sponsored Terror Group

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By Erick San Juan

Many people in the world especially the Islamic nations were astounded as to where this terrorist group ISIS came from? Just like the Al Qaeda, ISIS( Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) started as freedom fighters and metamorphosed into super warriors more mightier than the Al Qaeda and the Taliban combined. Most of its components according to reports are not even born in the Middle East but Arab-Americans, Muslim-Europeans, British, Australians and according to former President Fidel Ramos, more than a hundred Filipino Muslim jihadists who are members of the BIFF and the Abu Sayyaf’s went to Syria to join and be trained by ISIS.

James Dorsey of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore Aug.14,2014 wrote that US President Barack Obama’s decision to launch air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq is fraught with pitfalls and could persuade IS to consolidate its position in Syria, in the knowledge that Obama is likely to salvage the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kevin Barrett, editor of Veterans Today, August 12, 2014 believed that Israel is either committing suicide or insane. He cited former US Senate Counsel Jeff Gates, author of Guilt by Association saying that Zionist actions, no matter how crazy they look, are the product of elaborate strategic calculations. He wrote that the Zionists are master of game theory- a psychopathic technique for following utterly amoral mathematical self-interest in pursuing ones objectives.

Barrett argued that if Gates is right, the Zionists must be taking desperate measures because they are in a desperate situation. They are facing a demographic challenge, the Palestinians resistance in getting better at asymmetrical warfare and global public opinion is gradually and inexorably turning against them.
Michael Singh, the managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior director for the Middle East Affairs of the US National Security Council, in his article at the International New York Times, 8/20/14, said that President Obama surprised many recently when he diagnosed the crisis gripping Iraq as partly an economic one, noting that the Iraqi Sunnis were detached from the global economy and thus frustrated in achieving their aspirations.

Singh disclosed that while Iraq’s chaos has many sources, Obama is nevertheless ‘on to something’ and it’s not just Iraqi Sunnis, but the entire Middle East that is detached from the global economy. The economies of the Middle East are not only detached from the world’s but from one another. Economies and politics are inextricably linked. And economic progress is the key to easing the chronic instability that threatens American interests in the region.
As I’ve been saying in the past that politics begins and ends in economics, Singh was partly right in his assessment. But he has not answered fully his query as to why Obama made a surprise order to attack the ISIS in Iraq.

According to James Dorsey of RSIS,”With tens of thousands of Yasidis trapped by the Jihadists on a mountain in Northern Iraq under dire circumstances and the security of the Iraqi Kurdistan, with Iraq’s most stable region under threat, Obama had little choice but to take action. Growing Saudi-fueled sectarianism in the Middle East is likely to backfire on the US effort as many Sunnis will perceive the air strikes as an expression of a pro-Shiite policy. Sunnis believe that the US policy had brought Shiites to power in Iraq with the toppling of Sunni strongman, Saddam Hussein.”
(During the Babylonian festivities in the past hosted by Saddam, I found out that the hexagram symbol now being used by Israel in their flag was the former emblem of the Yasidis.)

Pundits believe that the air strike launched by Obama was well calculated, the way the American elite kicked out several of their ‘Frankenstein’ worldwide including Marcos, Saddam, Hosni Mubarak, recently Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iraq’s former Prime Minister al Maliki.

According to Mohamed Bin Ali of RSIS (June 30, 2014) the plan was to create levels of conflict. “First is a sectarian one between Sunnis and the Shiite regime. The second level is ideologically motivated attacks. The third is the humanitarian level where there’s a humanitarian crisis to justify intervention. Many are radicalized by what they see and who they come into contact within.

Syria as an example is undergoing a political conflict that serves as the newest hotspot attracting scores of foreign fighters like ISIS, ISIL, etc.”

Sounds familiar! The pattern is getting clearer. That was how the Al Qaeda was created by Osama bin Laden, another state-sponsored terrorist who was sacrificed after winning his war against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Even the popular geopolitical analyst, Prof. Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research (June 14, 2014) commented that there is an ongoing engineered destruction and political fragmentation of Iraq towards the creation of a US sponsored Islamist Caliphate. He explained that the Al Qaeda affiliated entities have been used by US-NATO in numerous conflicts as ‘intelligence assets’ since the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war. In Syria, the Al Nusrah and the ISIS rebels are the foot soldiers of the western military alliance which oversee and control the recruitment and training of paramilitary forces using different names and acronyms.

Chossudovsky concluded that the plan was to support both sides. The war on terror created the Al Qaeda terrorist entities as part of an intelligence operation, as well as rescuing governments which are the target of terrorist insurgency. This process is reportedly carried out under the banner of counter-terrorism. It creates the pretext to intervene.

ISIS is allegedly a ‘Caliphate project’ of creating a Sunni Islamist state. It is neither a project of the Sunni population of Iraq. It is a part of a US intelligence agenda. The Islamic Caliphate is allegedly supported covertly by the CIA in liaison with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Turkish intelligence. He confirmed that Israel also channeled support to Al Qaeda rebels in Syria as well as to the Kurdish separatists.

“The endgame is to destabilize sovereign nation states and to transform countries into open territories on behalf of the so called foreign investors.” Chossudovsky stated.

A Filipino Islamic scholar told me the other day that Muslims worldwide are watching carefully the possible scenario of how the Zionists will take over the Golden mosque in Jerusalem and the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. They are also monitoring the ISIS no ‘mercy strategy’ in killing Muslims and the possible pretext in destroying the ‘Dome of the Rock’, the ‘perceived hindrance’ in building the Zionists third temple. He added that the Muslim world will fight back including Arab states allied to Israel. His nightmare is the possible intervention of the western allies. He’s getting feedback from the US that the Zionist Americans controlling the US government wanted to help the Israelis in getting the Arab lands to fast-track the creation of a Greater Israel.

The scholar foresees that the beheading of the American freelance journalist James Foley could be the justification for the US government all out intervention to assist Israel in the road to Armageddon.

God forbid!

Thoughts on Turning Five

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FOUR years ago, OpinYon started from the belief of a group of friends in media that there was need for a paper that will educate the people of economic impact of all the confused political issues.

Ray Junia, publisher of OpinYon met with political writers like Liggoy Alcuaz, Mentong Laurel and Erick San Juan to validate the findings that still there was very little attention given to eco-political issues and concerns. Mainstream media was very political. Economic concerns hardly get the attention of national media.

Consensus

There was consensus that mainstream media was controlled by big money. And big money needs a controlled media to protect its stranglehold of the economy. Learning from the strategies of colonizers in the control of captured territories, the natives must be kept ignorant of their business interests, while entertained and their minds kept busy with issues of personalities in the entertainment world and politics.

Guts and Determination

Ray Junia, with very little capital, started the first issue of OpinYon in the last week of August, four years ago. Pure guts, strong determination to tell what the big money investors are hiding from the people, plus support of friends who contributed stories and their opinion to the paper for free, started OpinYon.

Starting on its fifth year, this week, the people behind OpinYon look forward to a more fruitful contribution to the economic uplift of the greater number of Filipinos. It will continue to provide stories that will politicize economic issues as well as provide economic perspective to political issues while serving as a reliable source of information in daily life and concerns.

At five, we will continue to take a stand for your rights.

FAILURE

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By Miguel Raymundo

THE appointment of former senator Francisco Pangilinan as Presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization raised a lot of questions back in May. And, almost three months after being named de facto Agriculture Secretary, Kiko still has nothing to show for it.

While the competence and public service record of Pangilinan may not be questionable, it is President Aquino’s move to put him on top of the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Pesticide Authority—agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA)—that is highly suspectable.

Unsavory

Despite efforts by how Malacañang massage and sugarcoat the fact that Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has been effectively stripped of much of his powers as DA chief, there is no denying the unsavory nature of the Pangilinan appointment.

At face value, the move could be interpreted as yet another attempt by the Aquino administration to redeem itself from the double-barreled scandal involving the misuse of billions in public funds via the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and other pestering issues of graft and corruption that have effectively dislocated the “Matuwid na Daan” schema.

Pangilinan’s entry to the Cabinet is, to a certain extent, akin to the selection of another former senator, Ping Lacson, who was appointed as Presidential Assistant for Relief and Rehabilitation (PARR) in the face of government’s systematic failure to address the needs of millions of Filipinos in Eastern Visayas who suffered the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda back in November.

Poster Boy

Lacson, who as senator refused to collect his PDAF allotments, was the perfect poster boy for the PNoy administration in its effort to neutralize reports of the delay in the delivery of typhoon relief being caused by unscrupulous government officials filching millions in foreign cash and equipment donations.

However, Lacson’s appointment carried no real powers with it. He had no access to funds and had no authority whatsoever to police the government agencies involved in the massive relief and reconstruction effort. This, Lacson learned the hard way—after losing a publicized run-in with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson over his declaration that the temporary bunkhouses being constructed to shelter typhoon victims could be grossly overpriced.

Pangilinan, meanwhile, has an almost unblemished publish service track record. He is as likable as Mickey Mouse. But unlike Lacson, Pangilinan is loyal to PNoy and is a Liberal Party stalwart and critics believe there is more to his appointment than just “cleaning the ranks of the DA”.

Trouble

Less than a week after Kiko’s appointment, two agency heads under the DA tendered their resignations. PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes and National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Arthur Juan both submitted their courtesy resignation letters to the Office of the President.
Juan, who had just been recently appointed to replace Orlan Calayag, gave his letter on May 6 and asked that his resignation “be made effective upon the appointment of a replacement.” Forbes, appointed in January 2011, filed his resignation on May 8.

“I filed a courtesy resignation to enable the new boss to choose (a new administrator). But I’m willing to stay,” Forbes told reporters.

Pangilinan refused the resignation of Juan, who had been earlier accused by rice trader Jomerito “Jojo” Soliman of extorting PhP15 million from him. Reports said PhP10 million was purportedly for Pangilinan and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas while the remaining PhP5 million was for Juan.

Soliman claimed that Juan’s lawyer Patricia Galang is also involved in the extortion. Soliman said the PhP10 was deposited to bank accounts provided by Juan while the PhP5 million was supposedly delivered to Juan in cash.

Juan has denied the allegations and government has yet to finish its investigation into the matter, the reason cited by Kiko for refusing his resignation.

Pangilinan believes trader Jojo Soliman made up the allegations against Juan because Soliman’s license was suspended for his practice of allegedly mixing animal feeds with rice.

Forbes, meanwhile, has been replaced by Romulo Arancon Jr. as PCA head. Also, word is out that NIA Administrator Claro Maranan and FPA Director Norli Gicana are also likely to be replaced.

Impossible Task

With less than two years before the end of the PNoy presidency most observers believe that it is impossible for Pangilinan to address the issues of rice smuggling, food security, and rebuild the livelihood of millions of Eastern Visayas farmers who lost their means of living to Yolanda.

For starters, the agriculture sector grew by only 1 percent from last year and the coconut industry is in shambles losing one-third of its production—the output of Eastern Visayas farms destroyed by Yolanda.

With some 33 million coconut trees destroyed, it will take 10 years before the region begins to produce coconuts again even as thousands of farmers continue to wait for the arrival of much-needed government relief almost a year after the typhoon.

Meanwhile, the promise of rice sufficiency is more likely to remain just a promise with government spending focused on rice imports than the development of new technologies and programs to help resurrect the local rice industry. PNoy himself defended the importations as a means to “curb smuggling and to bring rice hoarders to their knees”. With imported rice flooding the market, the future of the Filipino rice farmer under the PNoy administration looks dim.

On the issue of food security, more than a quarter of Filipino adults (36%) claimed to be food insecure, while 23% of Filipino children said the same in the latest National Nutrition Survey (NNS). The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has the highest prevalence of food insecurity. However, the problem is not concentrated in one area, but persistently scattered across all 16 regions of the Philippines.

Some regions may have fewer cases of food insecurity than others, but the data suggests that it may take more than a while before the government manages to end hunger for all Filipinos.

2016 Derby

So what is Kiko Pangilinan supposed to achieve given his limited time?

In a visit to IloIlo last July, the newly appointed Cabinet man was accompanied by Juan and a team of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents in the raid cum inspection of a local warehouse. The operation yielded 1,500 re-bagged sacks of NFA rice intended for resale as commercial rice. But local media was quick to dismiss the whole affair as nothing but a publicity stunt for Kiko who is being groomed as a vice presidential candidate in 2016.

“If the inspection was meant to curb the activities of unscrupulous rice retailers, authorities should have done it periodically in the past, not only during the visit of a Malacanang VIP,” a local columnist wrote.

“All over Western Visayas or in the entire country for that matter, more sacks of repacked NFA grains can be discovered if authorities are only doing their job religiously,” the writer added.

Other than posing for photo-ops and being interviewed on national television, Kiko actually had no business being in the area after it was cleared by NBI agents as a crime scene.

Money Man?

In his penultimate State of the Nation Address PNoy ended with the words “Hanggang dito na lamang po ako at maraming salamat”. After this, the frenzy was on for the 2016 polls with all government activity focused on preparing the machinery to propel the administration bet for the next presidential derby.

“Pangilinan’s main concern is to guard the expenditures of the PCA and NFA and to make sure that the ‘proceeds’ are funneled into the administration’s 2016 campaign kitty,” a PNoy critic said.

A large part of this observation owes to the fact that the DA agencies put under Kiko’s watch have become, post typhoon Yolanda, the most funded outfits of the department.

The Philippine plan for the recovery program has allotted about PhP18.7 billion for the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector, which includes crops, livestock and fisheries. The PCA, for example, has received PhP2.8 billion for the rehabilitation of the coconut industry—money that remains untapped because of the lack of legal guidelines covering the disposal of felled and damaged coconut trees that would satisfy the legal rights of land owners, tenants and other beneficiaries.
To fund the recovery program, government will utilize the billions in foreign relief and it is said to be even mulling the use of the PhP5.8 billion in coco levy held by the National Treasury after being declared as public funds by the Supreme Court.

The other half of Kiko’s assignment, agricultural modernization, is also a money post with the enactment of the Agricultural and Fisheries Mechanization (AFMech) Law which installed the DA (Secretary Alcala) as the lead agency in all programs and equipment procurement related to the farm modernization program.

All this amounts to a lot of cash that could be diverted and made available for the administration’s 2016 campaign by way of some clever budget maneuvering similar to the DAP.

In the end, Pangilinan may fail to attain food security and all other promises made to the Filipino people before President Aquino steps down from office. But all the media exposure in this regard should be enough to assure him a seat in the Senate come 2016—or even the vice presidency.

GAMECHANGER : Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

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Peace Warrior: Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

 

A princess bringing about peace in her land sounds like fairy-tale, but for Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, this is her real-life modern story.

 

Born as a Maranao Princess, Bai Rohaniza’s early understanding of war into a determination to see peace come to Mindanao and the Philippines, and her deep involvement in this agenda makes her a source of inspiration to many of us who struggle to live the most of everyday.

 

She is currently the Philippine country director and coordinator for Asia America Initiative and founder of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement.

 

Honey – as most people would call her, grew up away from the notions of wealth and comfort her status connotes. She grew up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where she became a witness to the terror of what war was.

 

The Gulf War in the 1990s made her realize her life mission. She recalled that “the doors and windows of her home were plastered to shelter them against chemical explosions. Loud sirens would warn them of missile strikes, and she could never be sure if she would still be alive when the wailing passed. Her parents would hug her and her siblings tight as the room vibrated as though an earthquake had hit.” She has witnessed the ugly picture of conflict where families especially their children suffered the most — leaving the parents with no jobs because of war, not being able to provide the needs of their families, having their kids forced to stop schooling and leaving scars in the hearts and spirits of the families because of the tragedy brought by violence.

 

Bai Rohaniza has always considered her life’s experiences as part of the Almighty’s plan of preparing her for the mission, which she has always believed to be inclusive. Her life has always been about building peace as she has been interacting with two cultures and religions — her Father’s family are all Muslims, while her Mother’s family are Christians. She shares herself with anyone – Christian, Muslim, Maranao, Maguindanaoan, Indigenous People, Tausug or any religious or ethnolinguistic group. She finds herself in every child who fears the sound of war.

 

Making people realize of the importance of peace wasn’t easy. People from Mindanao had to live through similar circumstances. Sumndad-Usman narrated in a forum on how her friend still trembles with fear every time she sees a man in uniform, remembering how her mother was chop-chopped by such a man right in front of her.

 

Spurred by her experiences of war, as well as those of others, Sumndad-Usman has been working for peace for almost ten years.

 

Right after graduation in Assumption College, she was hired by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Youth Affairs and handled programs. Then worked as the Philippine Country Director for Asia America Initiative.  In this role, she promoted peace and development through education, inter-faith, inter-cultural and inter-generational engagement in peace building for the younger generation to be peace prime movers in their own communities, creative and innovative approaches in creating more awareness about the peace building process like Sports, Music and Art.

 

One of their programs is to educate Muslim children in elementary grade levels regarding the culture of peace to bridge the divide between the Filipino nation and the separatist movement called the Bangsamoro nation even at an early age.

 

With these experiences and vision in mind, she organized the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement with focus and emphasis in the importance of teaching Peace in the formative years of a child and integrating an Intergenerational Approach on Peace Building through Institutional and Community Transformation. The approach of the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement is: to “Teach Peace to build a Culture of Peace. We have to build a Culture of Peace to create different generations of peace builders toward our goal of a just and peaceful society.”

 

Her advocacy goes beyond her work in the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement. She is an active alumnus of the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance. Also one of the founding members of the Active Catalysts of Tomorrow, Head/Founding Member of Peace Talks – a network of peace advocates discussing issues and actions for Mindanao and also the outreach convener of the Young Moro Professionals Network, a  non-governmental organization (NGO) composed of young Muslim professionals advocating peaceful means to improve the socio-economic well-being of the Bangsamoro people.

 

She was also the former associate editor of Starfish Magazine, the first Filipino youth empowerment magazine, spearheaded and managed by the alumni of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress. In the magazine, she was one of those who conceptualized and pushed for “MindanawBantula”, a section that is geared towards publishing good news and exploratory articles about issues in Mindanao. Moreover, her passion for music makes her the band manager of Clarasbliss, a Reggae Band playing around the Metro who were also influenced to be peace advocates. A Muslim fashionista that influenced her to design and style her Hijabs (head cover), which she launched last September 2010 called, “Rohaniza’s Hijab Style and Collection” with her “Muslim Republic” Statement Shirts.

 

An exemplary leader, Bai Rohaniza has also been featured in magazines such as Chalk Magazine August 2008 issue wherein she was featured as one of its Young Achievers in 2008 and in Meg Magazine March 2009 issue, as one of its Achievers for 2009. She also received an “Ambassador for Peace” Award from the Universal Peace Federation last October 2008 and “Leadership by Example” Award from the Rotary Club of Manila San Miguel in July 2009. She was also chosen to be one of the Filipino women to be in the photo exhibit and coffee table book of the Foundation for Development through Education entitled “Mulat” that aims to highlight Filipinas’ extraordinary achievements.

 

In doing all of these things, Honey is vocal about her motto. She calls it her “BRAVO scheme”: breaking the barriers between different religions and cultures, being the voice of the people of Mindanao and creating opportunities to develop the resources in Mindanao and give the people the kind of life that they deserve.

 

She is a true warrior princess that we should all emulate, and a Game Changer in words and in action.

GAMECHANGER : Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

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IMG_4505Peace Warrior: Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman

 

A princess bringing about peace in her land sounds like fairy-tale, but for Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, this is her real-life modern story.

 

Born as a Maranao Princess, Bai Rohaniza’s early understanding of war into a determination to see peace come to Mindanao and the Philippines, and her deep involvement in this agenda makes her a source of inspiration to many of us who struggle to live the most of everyday.

 

She is currently the Philippine country director and coordinator for Asia America Initiative and founder of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement.

 

Honey – as most people would call her, grew up away from the notions of wealth and comfort her status connotes. She grew up in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where she became a witness to the terror of what war was.

 

The Gulf War in the 1990s made her realize her life mission. She recalled that “the doors and windows of her home were plastered to shelter them against chemical explosions. Loud sirens would warn them of missile strikes, and she could never be sure if she would still be alive when the wailing passed. Her parents would hug her and her siblings tight as the room vibrated as though an earthquake had hit.” She has witnessed the ugly picture of conflict where families especially their children suffered the most — leaving the parents with no jobs because of war, not being able to provide the needs of their families, having their kids forced to stop schooling and leaving scars in the hearts and spirits of the families because of the tragedy brought by violence.

 

Bai Rohaniza has always considered her life’s experiences as part of the Almighty’s plan of preparing her for the mission, which she has always believed to be inclusive. Her life has always been about building peace as she has been interacting with two cultures and religions — her Father’s family are all Muslims, while her Mother’s family are Christians. She shares herself with anyone – Christian, Muslim, Maranao, Maguindanaoan, Indigenous People, Tausug or any religious or ethnolinguistic group. She finds herself in every child who fears the sound of war.

 

Making people realize of the importance of peace wasn’t easy. People from Mindanao had to live through similar circumstances. Sumndad-Usman narrated in a forum on how her friend still trembles with fear every time she sees a man in uniform, remembering how her mother was chop-chopped by such a man right in front of her.

 

Spurred by her experiences of war, as well as those of others, Sumndad-Usman has been working for peace for almost ten years.

 

Right after graduation in Assumption College, she was hired by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Youth Affairs and handled programs. Then worked as the Philippine Country Director for Asia America Initiative.  In this role, she promoted peace and development through education, inter-faith, inter-cultural and inter-generational engagement in peace building for the younger generation to be peace prime movers in their own communities, creative and innovative approaches in creating more awareness about the peace building process like Sports, Music and Art.

 

One of their programs is to educate Muslim children in elementary grade levels regarding the culture of peace to bridge the divide between the Filipino nation and the separatist movement called the Bangsamoro nation even at an early age.

 

With these experiences and vision in mind, she organized the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement with focus and emphasis in the importance of teaching Peace in the formative years of a child and integrating an Intergenerational Approach on Peace Building through Institutional and Community Transformation. The approach of the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement is: to “Teach Peace to build a Culture of Peace. We have to build a Culture of Peace to create different generations of peace builders toward our goal of a just and peaceful society.”

 

Her advocacy goes beyond her work in the Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement. She is an active alumnus of the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance. Also one of the founding members of the Active Catalysts of Tomorrow, Head/Founding Member of Peace Talks – a network of peace advocates discussing issues and actions for Mindanao and also the outreach convener of the Young Moro Professionals Network, a  non-governmental organization (NGO) composed of young Muslim professionals advocating peaceful means to improve the socio-economic well-being of the Bangsamoro people.

 

She was also the former associate editor of Starfish Magazine, the first Filipino youth empowerment magazine, spearheaded and managed by the alumni of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress. In the magazine, she was one of those who conceptualized and pushed for “MindanawBantula”, a section that is geared towards publishing good news and exploratory articles about issues in Mindanao. Moreover, her passion for music makes her the band manager of Clarasbliss, a Reggae Band playing around the Metro who were also influenced to be peace advocates. A Muslim fashionista that influenced her to design and style her Hijabs (head cover), which she launched last September 2010 called, “Rohaniza’s Hijab Style and Collection” with her “Muslim Republic” Statement Shirts.

 

An exemplary leader, Bai Rohaniza has also been featured in magazines such as Chalk Magazine August 2008 issue wherein she was featured as one of its Young Achievers in 2008 and in Meg Magazine March 2009 issue, as one of its Achievers for 2009. She also received an “Ambassador for Peace” Award from the Universal Peace Federation last October 2008 and “Leadership by Example” Award from the Rotary Club of Manila San Miguel in July 2009. She was also chosen to be one of the Filipino women to be in the photo exhibit and coffee table book of the Foundation for Development through Education entitled “Mulat” that aims to highlight Filipinas’ extraordinary achievements.

 

In doing all of these things, Honey is vocal about her motto. She calls it her “BRAVO scheme”: breaking the barriers between different religions and cultures, being the voice of the people of Mindanao and creating opportunities to develop the resources in Mindanao and give the people the kind of life that they deserve.

 

She is a true warrior princess that we should all emulate, and a Game Changer in words and in action.

Charter Change: PNoy’s Pandora’s Box

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Gerry Cornejo | Columnist

 

In Greek mythology, the myth of Pandora’s box is considered one of the most descriptive myths of human behavior.  Ancient Greeks used this myth not only to depict the weaknesses of humans, but also to address the question of why evil exists in the world.

 

According to myth, Pandora was the first woman on Earth created by gods, each one of them gave her a gift, thus, her name in Greek means “the one who bears all gifts”.   She was given a box by the gods who told her that it contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever.  Though trying hard to tame her curiosity, just as the gods had expected, she finally gave in and opened the box.  She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.

 

 

However,  as she opened the box, she saw that all the evil spirits, illnesses and hardships that the gods had hidden in the box coming out.  She was terrified and hastened to close the container,  but every evil thing had escaped, except for one thing that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope.   Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.

 

This is exactly what will happen if we allow Congress to convene itself into a constituent assembly for the alleged purpose of amending certain restrictive economic provisions in Section XII of the Philippine Constitution that would vastly enhance our country’s economic growth.   The proposed constitutional amendments mostly revolve around foreign ownership of lands and public utilities, and, restriction on the practice of all professions in the Philippines to Filipino Citizens.

 

 

It sounds good, looks good on paper, if the so called restrictive economic provisions is truly all that will be amended.   Now wait a minute – what about all this recent serious talk about extending the term of office of the president beyond the constitutionally mandated 6-year limit?  Today, under Article 7, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the term of the President shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The incumbent President shall not be eligible for any re-election.

 

So those who oppose the charter change emphatically say that they will not allow this to happen – but aye, there’s the rub!  It ought to be obvious, though it is not to most, that because the Philippine Congress can propose amendments or revisions right now, it is in fact already convened as a Constituent Assembly. Moreover the present House and Senate Rules merely stipulate that any such proposed amendment or revision undergoes the normal process of passing legislation, i.e., with both House and Senate approving the same using a three fourths majority rule, as required by the Constitution – ART. 17 Sec. 1. Any amendment to or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by the Congress, upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members.

 

Does the current administration have the three fourths majority?   Probably!  Can President Noynoy Aquino and his cohorts muster the necessary numbers in Congress to legally and constitutionally extend the president’s term beyond six years?  Maybe!  Could this lead to the downfall of President Noynoy Aquino?   The answer to that question: let’s go back to the story of Pandora’s box!