The controversy over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall parking building has taken a dramatic turn, with Tuesday’s startling testimony from former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado. The former close ally turned political enemy of Vice President Jejomar Binay told the Senate blue ribbon committee investigating alleged corruption in the construction of the P2.7-billion building that Binay, then the mayor of one of the country’s richest cities, must have gained illegally from the project because he, the vice mayor at the time, did too. It was standard operating procedure, he said.
The vision is the integration of the economies of the 10 member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) whose combined gross domestic product is $2 trillion, to create a new economic powerhouse where there is free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and capital. The goal is the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. That’s next year, obviously pretty close, given the challenges still to be met. The AEC commits to form a single market and production base.
The paradox of National Heroes Day: It rightly remembers the heroes who fought in Asia’s first anticolonial revolution, but it does not commemorate an exact date. Rather, it refers to a notional period: sometime in August. Since the mid-1980s, the holiday has been celebrated as a moveable feast (the last Sunday of the month, until it was changed in the mid-2000s to the last Monday of August) in part to skirt the contentious issue that historians continue to debate until today. When did the revolution against Spain actually start?
Despite the fact that Filipinos traditionally highly treasure children in their midst, sexual abuse and exploitation of children tragically remain common in Philippine society. Adding to this poignant irony is that even as the clamor for greater vigilance against child abuse is spreading worldwide, incidents of rape and murder of children in both urban and rural settings in our country continue to be reported with seeming regularity, many of them perpetrated by those who are supposed to care for them.
When the Supreme Court once again dismissed the plea of the Filipino “comfort women” for formal redress for the abuse they suffered during World War II, it lost a golden moment to be on the right side of history. Politically, the Philippines would have joined the global outrage against rape as a prize and a weapon of war. Legally, it would have advanced the protection of women against sexual offenses in armed conflict. And diplomatically, it would have affirmed the power of international law in a case which China cannot in conscience dispute. China likewise suffered the wartime abuse of its women. It can flout international law in the West Philippine Sea, but can it disown it with its comfort women? Only by diminishing the role of law in global politics, or deprecating the sacrifice of Chinese victims.