Issue of June 18, 2017

Plus Juan
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What Independence?

Starting June 12, the government announced that free Wi-fi Internet connection is available along EDSA.

But do not use your Iphone, Ipad, smartphone or tablets to connect to the Internet while driving on EDSA. The new Anti-Distracted Driving Act prohibits it.


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Pres. Rodrigo Duterte boycotted the June 12 Luneta Independence Day ceremonies. He will go down in history as the first President to boycott the affair.

But maybe he is correct. What independence are we talking about?

We are not independent from China. They are still in the West Philippine Sea and have no intentions of going away. With the humongous loans they are dangling, we will be economically dependent on them for a long time.

We are not independent from U.S. imperialism. They are here to stay whether Pres. Duterte likes it or else.

Marawi is not yet independent from Maute, despite Martial Law and American support. The Armed Forces of the Philippines is no longer setting a deadline for the liberation of the city after a series of failed deadlines.

And finally, some complain that: We are not yet independent from Pres. Duterte.

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When Pres. Duterte missed the Independence Day ceremony at Luneta, was it because he was sick, tired, suffering from a hangover, or just plain lazy? They say he is just resting. That makes sense. With Maute in Marawi, rebellion and Martial Law in Mindanao, it is a fine time to rest.

But, perhaps it is good that Vice President Leni Robredo was alllowed to be at the Luneta in lieu of Duterte. She is a prettier and more refreshing sight. And sometimes we should also give her the chance to be “feeling” President.

Who knows, if Duterte kicks the bucket tomorrow, at least Leni will already have some practice raising Philippine flags. She just might decide to go ride a jet ski and plant a flag on some Chinese islands in the West Philippine Sea.

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As early as December 2016, Duterte already knew trouble was brewing in Marawi. In a speech that far back, he already said: “These Maute must stop and withdraw from Marawi which they threatened to raze to the ground.” And he challenged them and said: “Come on down and raze it. Let’s see. I’ll go there myself just to see how you will proceed with your plans.” Before the Wallace Business Forum Dinner, he also dared the Maute group to attack Marawi, saying: “Because they (the Maute group) threatened to go down from the mountains to burn down Marawi? Go ahead, be my guest. We will wait for you there. Walang problema.” Sometimes we should be careful what we wish for.

The Mautes apparently accepted the challenge. Maybe they wanted to see him and shake his hand. But a scheduled Duterte visit was cancelled due to “foul weather.” He has not attempted it since. He would not show up at the Luneta even if the sun was shining.

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It is with great dread that we continue to monitor what is happening in Marawi. In some ways, it brings memories of the Mamasapano fiasco.

The Mamasapano incident began with an attempt to capture or kill wanted Malaysian terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkifli Abdhir. In a blotched operation, we tragically lost 44 of our best Special Action Force troopers. The Marawi incident likewise began with an attempt to arrest or capture Isnilon Hapilon, leader of the Abu Sayyaf. Instead, our government troops ran smack into the Maute group. As of last count, some 58 government troopers have perished and it looks like the end is not yet in sight. That is not to mention the civilians caught in the crossfire. Civilian fatalities now run into the hundreds.In both incidents the presence of U.S. participation was noted. It was covert in Mamasapano, but they are openly visible in Marawi. The Americans went to Marawi, even if Duterte did not invite them. Shameless gatecrashers!

We hope the Maute incident, like the Mamasapano affair, will not end up with finger pointing among our officials. Martial Law has already been declared but apparently it has not quelled the Maute resistance.

In Mamasapano, the finger pointing ended with PNoy. Where will the finger end with Marawi? Or, will we be so afraid that we won’t dare point a finger at anyone?

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