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The Enemy Within

July 27, 2012 ·  By Fr. Shay Cullen

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Many people were inspired and uplifted to hear the resounding words of President Noynoy Aquino in his State of the Nation Address recently: “nothing is impossible to a united nation.” Millions of people wish it were so. For Filipinos to be united in bonds of fraternity, justice, equality, the rule of law, compassion and modest prosperity, the dream has to become a reality.

Hundreds of thousands of dedicated and God-loving Filipinos work for these goals and many give their lives to achieve them. It’s an overwhelming challenge despite the progress and achievement announced by the President. Millions of Filipinos still live in poverty, hunger and want, innocent people and youth languish in horrific jails and millions more lack good paying jobs, education and a decent dignified life.

The challenge is there and we must support every positive genuine corruption-free effort to make it happen. The government officials and cabinet members recruited from industry with allegedly “debts of honour” to their former employers, friends and associates, and hoping to return to them for future positions, are liabilities to the administration. They could be the “enemy within” that could derail the anti-corruption drive of the President and sink his ship of integrity and transparency. They are people of integrity but nevertheless temptations abound to favor their corporate friends.

Secretary of Energy, Jose Rene D. Almendras, is an official of the highest integrity but critics say, perhaps unfairly, that he could be tempted to allegedly favor the coal-fired power plants of his former employer, the Aboitiz power generating corporation. The Aboitiz clan found much favor with former President Arroyo who is on bail charged with election fraud.

The planned coal power plant at Subic Bay is a done deal according to RP Energy spokesman; despite no Environmental Compliance Certificate (EEC) and no social acceptably whatsoever. Yet by paying people to attend meetings, RP Energy, the holder of the Aboitiz and Meralco-backed project, boastfully claims that such meetings satisfy compliance and acceptability and the highest authority will approve the coal plant. This, even against the wishes of local government and the public outcry.

There are other really dangerous “enemies within” the nation and even in government that undo the good of the President’s anti-corruption drive with their murderous and criminal ways. Those that advocate and practice extra-judicial killing of anyone, they choose to brand as opposers of corporate mining or energy interests or the plans for economic domination and monopoly-building by wealthy elites. This is the murderous mentally that comes with unfettered authoritarian power. Business people, corporations, militia, military, Mayors, Governors can be corrupted and allegedly use murder, torture and imprisonment to silence, overpower and punish their opponents and critics. In the Philippines, we have seen the murder and massacre of 57 people, many journalists in Maguindanao, allegedly by the ruling elitist Ampatuan clan in November 23, 2009. They eliminated their political rivals.

We see that impunity spreads the killing mentality and death squads and assassins are common practice. One journalist writes that it’s a good thing, when “Wrong is Right”. Murder and torture can bring a good end, he says, when extra -judicial killings by death squads eliminate suspected wrong doers. That is until he, as a journalist, becomes a target of such a policy. The “Enemy Within”, are some corrupt officials and business interests using hired goons and killers to murder priests, pastors, village leaders, environmentalists, journalists, students and social activists.

The President and his reforms are coming from the people, he says, but they pay for them with their lives. They protest and demonstrate to bring change but their voices are seldom listened to and acted upon for the greater good. Coal plants poison the people, but officials say coal is just bad for the health but good for the profits. However good the presidential intentions and achievements are, they will come to nothing if the killings go on and the dynastic clans continue to hold sway over the economy and the government.

They want to silence the protesters and dissidents who are against irresponsible mining, logging, coal plants and other environmentally destructive business enterprises. It seems impossible to stop them; they appear to have captured government. Can the president break their strangle hold?

Jimmy Liguyon,  a village leader opposed mining on ancestral land and was assassinated, March 5, in Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon last 2011 and Father Fausto Tentorio, in Arakan, North Cotabato, October 2011. Margarito J. Cabal, opposing a hydroelectric dam, was gunned down, May 2012. And many more.  All of us must oppose this evil and never approve it either by silence, inaction or political compromise.

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