Friday, January 30, 2009

The Remaking of America

There was universal praise for President Barack Obama’s inaugural address as the 44th president of the United States. It may not have soared to the full height of Abraham Lincoln’s first or second inaugural address, or that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s or John F. Kennedy’s, but it was a moving and memorable address that said eloquently what needed to be said to a wounded American people.

Like millions who listened to that speech on television, I was moved by the grace of Obama’s effort to assure peoples around the world that he was determined to lead in the remaking of America into a truer, kinder, gentler and less dangerous nation.

“America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbears and true to our founding documents,” Obama said.

This evoked the immortal words of the American Declaration of Independence of 1776: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Whatever injury others before him had done to those words, Obama would set it right.

“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry foreward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation, the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness,” Obama said.

This made you hope that, regardless of what you had heard during the pre-election debates, Obama would exert every effort to make sure every unborn American child would have the chance to join the human race.

“And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend to each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.” Obama said.

More reason to hope. Henceforth, poor countries like ours will have to worry only about their real or imagined enemies, no longer about the United States.

“ This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath,” Obama said.

Indeed, it has taken the negro several lifetimes to be called black (which is beautiful) and finally African American, which is politically correct. But the point might have been stronger if the journey had been reckoned from 1857 when the U.S. Supreme Court denied Dred Scott, the negro slave, the right to sue because he was—in the words of Chief Justice Roger Taney-- no more than an “article of merchandise.”

Having rejected as false “the choice between our safety and our ideals,” Obama promptly ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison and the end of torture of captured terrorists. Blessed are the terrorists for they will now have due process. Not so blessed are the unborn children of the developing countries.

On the third day of his avowed remaking of America, Obama reversed Ronald Reagan’s 1984 Mexico City policy which withholds funding from NGOs that promote abortion in developing countries. This had been reversed once by Clinton in 1993, then reinstated by George W. Bush in 2001. Upon its latest reversal, the words of the Declaration of Independence came crashing down, and in their place rose those of Chief Justice Taney declaring Dred Scott a mere article of commerce and Justice Blackmun’s words in Roe v. Wade (1973) declaring that “the fetus is not a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

In the flash of an eye, Obama seems to have given lodgings to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at the White House. Dr. Jekyll ends the torture of terrorists; Mr. Hyde pronounces the death sentence on the unborn children of the poor in developing countries. Dr. Jekyll talks of “responsibly leaving Iraq to its people,” and forging the peace in Afghanistan; Mr. Hyde declares all-out war against the unborn.

This can’t possibly remake America into a truer, kinder, gentler and less dangerous nation, a friend to every man, woman and child, One can only hope and pray it does not qualify America for genocide. For under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on Dec. 9, 1948, one day before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the killing of members of any national, ethnical, racial or religious group, and the imposition of measures intended to prevent births within any such group are classified as genocide.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sins of the Earth


I wish to apologize to my readers for my long absence from this blog. I needed to take a little time to work on a novel that had been writing itself inside my head for sometime now. I have finally finished the writing, and arrangements are being made for its earliest publication here and abroad. The novel is called Sins of the Earth; socio-political, Catholic. A synopsis here follows.

This done, I should be able to resume my periodic commentaries on the burning issues of the day. God bless.

A novel by Francisco Tatad
(A synopsis)

The future has arrived. A neat line is drawn between the apostate countries and those that have kept the faith. China has become a world power, and America, although diminished, leads the Club of Twenty-One. The apostate population has aged and shrunk, replaced by machines here and there, but abortion and euthanasia have become the law and custom all over the apostate world.

In the Republic of Admana Arch, the Empressident rules without a constitution and a parliament. She speaks to the public through state media, and has blocked all other information networks, including the Internet. She is the toast of the Club of Twenty-One.

In thirty years, she has rid the country of unwanted children and seniors, closed the sexual divide between men and women, put men and machines on equal status on the shop-floor. She has outlawed marriage among the poor, except those of the same sex, and heterosexuals who are completely sterile or past childbearing.

Unauthorized pregnancies are automatically aborted, and everyone is put to sleep at seventy-five, with some notable exceptions. To ensure controlled growth of the population, a number of pre-selected eighteen year-old virgins are annually sent to fertility camps to mate in darkness for the purpose of producing state children. They are quickly segregated and sterilized thereafter. If the mating is fruitful, the woman reports back to camp during her pregnancy until she gives birth. Upon birth, the child is taken to a special camp to be raised by the state. The state child is sterilized upon reaching puberty, unless preselected for mating duties later.

In this post-New Age world, where the culture of death appears to have won, Filipino Catholic writer Francisco Tatad sets SINS OF THE EARTH, his maiden international socio-political novel on the fight between good and evil. In Admana’s capital city of Esperanza, a group of young illegals lives a hidden existence under a doctor-priest named Fr. Eleazar Pascal. They call themselves Brothers and practice a new form of non-violence.

They attack state targets without inflcting violence, just to show they could have killed or maimed, but chose not to, out of a higher principle. They are led by the young Amargo Raz and Jasper Tzu and three other young chiefs from the five different sections of the city. Raz begins his story as a state infant abandoned by a half-crazed state driver on a beach and grows up in the care of the priest. They are eventually joined by the leader of an armed band,Tonio, whom they help dodge state troops in hot pursuit.

Away from Esperanza, the Commonwealth of Islamic States has banned all terrorist activities by Moslems and called for strict adherence to the rule of law in settling grievances and disputes. At the same time, it now calls on the apostates through the United Nations to stop the killing of the unborn and the elderly, or else face an Islamic-led multinational force to compel them to do so. Russia, China and India, the Club’s breakaway members, support this call. But the expanded Security Council rejects it, and mobilization instantly begins.

The apostate countries are tired of war, and their governments’ refusal to heed the Islamic call triggers massive protests and finally revolution in the apostate capitals. The Empressident, however, offers to fight on the side of the apostates in exhange for oil, arms and food for her troops. Tonio and the chiefs sense the danger and decide to strike first. But their fight becomes merely a byplay in the global confrontation between the apostates and the Islamic-led forces. As the revolutionary tide sweeps the apostate capitals and the Islamic armies prepare to strike, the major tv networks begin a countdown on the end of the world. The only hope for peace appears to be the intervention of the Pope.

Amid such high international drama, several lives intersect in their individual search for meaning: The Empressident who will do anything to please the Club of Twenty-One and keep herself in power; Tonio, whose consuming passion is to kill the tyrant, and find Felicity, who has borne him a state child, which had been abducted from camp at birth and is now believed to be a grownup rebel; Felicity, who serves the tyrant faithfully until she gets arrested on suspicion of hiding Tonio and the missing state child; Ahimsya, who bolts out of camp to escape a sexually deranged governess and falls into the company of the Brothers; Tzu, a tough young illegal who has a solution for everything but tries to kill himself when he loses Ahimsya to Amar; Archbishop Sylvan Diaz whose search for martyrdom ends up in a Curial post at the Vatican; Armar, whose painful search for his roots throws into a role he has not sought and ends up protecting the tyrant from his own men; Fr. Eleazar, who has seen everything from the very beginning.

Although set in the future, where the American president is a black woman, the British lady prime minister Chinese looking, and the German lady chancellor of Jewish descent, SINS OF THE EARTH could be the first novel to confront head-on the recent decision of the first African-American president of the United States to export support for abortion to the developing world.

Arrangements for the publication of the novel are underway, and appropriate announcements will be posted on this blog.

28 January 2009


The story about Chief Justice (CJ) Reynato Puno being egged on to run for President in 2010 looks like a bold attempt to transplant a fruit-bearing tree beside running water into the middle of a vast desert. Time alone will tell whether the tree will survive.

But it shows how totally barren the political landscape is; how truly dysfunctional the political system; and how absolutely distorted our appreciation of the crises gripping the nation and the world.

Otherwise, nobody would have thought of prompting a self-effacing jurist to consider seeking the highest office.

The obvious question is: what crime has Puno done to deserve a six-year sentence to hard and brutal labor as the next president? Assuming he wants it, what terrible affliction makes us believe We the People should risk it?

Puno has had a long judicial career. Numerous are the Supreme Court (SC) decisions from his pen. But many are likely to remember only the most controversial. Vide his 2001 ponencia in Estrada vs. Arroyo, which has left constitutional law in tatters.

In that decision, Puno wrote that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada had “resigned constructively,” even without a formal letter of resignation. He boldly asserted that the Justices had “an authoritative window on the state of mind of Estrada,” and needed no formal letter of resignation to declare that he had, in fact, resigned.

That decision not only permanently deprived Estrada of three and a half years of his six-year presidency. It also bequeathed to President Arroyo a nasty legitimacy problem, which has hounded her ever since. And it made the teaching of constitutional law on presidential succession quite a chore in any decent law college.

What would have happened had the Court, through Puno, simply declared that Estrada had been ousted by direct popular action, just as Marcos had been so ousted in 1986? Would it not have spared the nation of the agony, to which his admirers now propose Puno to be the special cure?

But Puno’s real problem does not begin or end here. How far can he go, or will he go, to seek political power while disclaiming any interest in it? He claims to be not interested, but his body language says otherwise. And many see it. That seems to be his real problem.

In October 2007, when the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME) suggested the creation of a caretaker junta to be headed by Puno, one expected a roar of thunder at those who were publicly trying to involve him in an extra-constitutional project. KME was not simply asking him to accept the position of caretaker; rather it was asking the public to support a caretaker regime headed by him.

But no such thunder came. The CJ said absolutely nothing. Malacanang itself pretended not to have heard it. Instead, the SC spokesman simply declared that “the news reports, if accurate, are humbling, and the trust confided in Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno is appreciated. The Chief Justice, however, would rather stay out of politics and remain in the judiciary, which he has committed to ensure its independence and strengthen its integrity.”

Puno’s name came up again during the Nov. 29, 2007 Manila Pen incident. Again, no outrage was heard. Now, the extra-constitutional project appears to have morphed into an electoral one. Yet the same dance remains.

But here’s the rub. Supposing Estrada decides to run again and someone asks the SC to rule on his bid, how will Puno act, assuming he still sits? As an impartial jurist or as an embryonic presidential candidate?

Puno is due to retire from the SC in 2010. He would make a damn good senator after that, assuming our people want to restore pride and glory to the present Senate. But it doesn’t seem fair to propose him for the frightening and mind-blowing job that awaits the next President.

These are stormy days. We need a leader for the storm rather than one for the calm. The yawning political desert cannot permit us to lay the burden of the presidency on the shoulders of the first political virgin or the first showbiz demagogue that materializes. The job calls for character, integrity, patriotism, courage and experience. We need a just and righteous man with a firm grasp of the world as it revolves on first principles, one who has been tested by crisis, and belongs to the people rather than to any special interest group.

I do not mean anyone who is already campaigning for the office, in violation of the rules, with the full support of some endemic propaganda pollsters. We need to find a man who is totally prepared for the job, but who may not wish to be part of a bogus national election which the venal manipulate to favor the corrupt, and the vacuous try to turn into a mindless search for the “most populat” among popular incompetents.

We have to find such a leader, even at the risk of discarding our non-performing presidential system, or coming up temporarily with our own Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus who, in the fifth century B.C., was called from the plow to save Rome from crisis, and returned to his farm as soon as the crisis had ended.

(More on the political desert in my next piece.)

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26 January 2009