Saturday, September 29, 2007


No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. - Buddha

The struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma is a struggle for life and dignity. It is a struggle that encompasses our political, social and economic aspirations. – Aung San Suu Kyi

As we Filipinos fret over domestic scandals under a reign of impunity, another country not too far away is gripped in its own struggle against its government. The people of Burma have decided to reach for liberty after more than forty years of oppressive martial rule.

It took rising gas prices to begin their peaceful defiance, apart from decades of tyrannical rule. Fed up with worsening economic conditions, Burma’s Buddhist monks have been leading non-violent marches against the current regime for days, many walking barefoot, with their alms bowls upturned as an insult to the military. They have been joined by civilians; their numbers have swelled daily into the hundreds of thousands. Finally, fearful that it may look weak to a world largely kept in the dark, the military dictatorship responded to quiet disobedience in the way they know best – with truncheons and bullets.

As of this writing, there have been nine people confirmed dead, Buddhist monks and a Japanese journalist among them. Hundreds have been hurt, and many more have been arrested and jailed. Because communication has been blocked, it is difficult to ascertain just how much brutality has been wreaked. The few videos and pictures that have been sneaked out show appalling viciousness by the military. The images bring Filipino memories back to a time rife with similar violence under dictatorial rule.

The Black & White Movement adds its voice to all Filipinos and citizens of the world that are appealing to the Burmese junta to bring an end to atrocities and repression. Democracy and liberty are what the Burmese people deserve.

We send our solidarity and prayers to the brave Burmese monks and citizens standing tall for principles we all hold dear. We pray for their safety and wellbeing.

Let the global demand be, the age of impunity is over (UK Ambassador to UN). For the Burmese people, our fervent wish is freedom.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Romulo Neri - A Major Disappointment

Here are two recent press releases we issued in regard to recent Senate hearings on the scandal-ridden ZTE Broadband Deal. The first deals with our hope that Romulo Neri would find the moral conviction to tell the truth. The second release was sent out today in response to Neri's lack of candor (to put it mildly):

A Prayer for Romulo Neri

Cursed as we are with an administration wherein lying has become official policy, it is refreshing to see a possible exception in the making.

When asked about the controversial ZTE Deal, CHED Chairman Romulo Neri neither confirmed nor denied that, a) he was offered a P200M bribe by Abalos, b) he reported it to the President, c) the President ordered him to ignore the bribe but approve the project, and d) the First Gentleman had nothing to do with the suspicious contract, the people had good reason to rejoice.

Neither confirming nor denying assertions usually means the claims are true.

Our hopes were buoyed even more when he said he would tell the truth if and when asked in the right forum.

Tomorrow, Romulo Neri will testify at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the NBN contract – in our view the appropriate forum for the truth to be laid bare.

Public concern is at an all time high. Being inundated with texts of support from friends, classmates and strangers, all pleading with him to keep strong and retain his credibility by testifying truthfully, the erstwhile NEDA Secretary must be thinking that his declarations under oath may have serious political implications. Being an economic thinker and planner may have caused him to weigh the pros and cons of his potentially explosive testimony, and evaluate several scenarios that might result from his statements.

If we were allowed to read his mind, one scenario he could find nauseating would be that his declarations could lead to the downfall of the GMA administration, only to be replaced by people from a discredited regime, and/or by politicians and vested interest groups who will plunder this nation even more than it has by this incumbent regime. Fears like these may repulse him enough to balk and hold off from telling the truth.

Another guess is Chairman Neri may be asking himself, “Is all this risk really worth it?”

In answer to Chairman Romulo Neri, the Black & White Movement says, yes! Doing the right thing is always worth the risk. Being candid and forthright may not necessarily result in the state of affairs we all desire, but these acts of sincerity may facilitate liberation from the current culture of impunity under which we suffer.

Very few people are given the privilege to change the destiny of a nation. Chairman Neri, as they say in baseball parlance, “batter up”!

The Black and White Movement joins the rest of the nation in praying that Romulo Neri will be blessed with the courage and patriotism to do the right thing and give us the home run we all pray for. Let the truth set you free! Mabuhay ka! - - END

Of Truth and Heroic Acts

What we heard from erstwhile NEDA Secretary Romulo at yesterday’s senate hearing on the ZTE Deal was not exactly the entire truth. Whatever the amount of truth told, the result was glaring – truth diluted, if not polluted.

When witnesses are sworn, they are asked to tell “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Partial truth telling is never good enough.

When Neri fearlessly revealed the bribery attempt of Abalos during a golf game, we exulted. Finally, the truth from a credible person, an alter ego of the President, we all thought. Maybe Neri would ultimately live up to being the hero the people hoped he would be, was the following thought. But the second he started invoking executive privilege on behalf of his “principal”, all notions of Neri being a hero quickly vanished.

Why would Neri be completely truthful regarding the alleged bribe attempt by Chairman Abalos, but terribly evasive when it came to his conversations regarding the bribe with GMA? Was he trying to protect his President? Or was he cowering in fear for his life? We’d like to think that his reticence was for the latter reason.

We surmise that he fears, if not for his life, then for the possible national instability that his testimony might trigger so Neri decided to mitigate the imagined risk by invoking executive privilege.

The Black & White Movement wishes to let Romulo Neri know that his risk-aversion strategy really sucked.

Executive privilege and its mean sisters, EO 464 and MO 108, hinder our search for truth. The Senate should exorcise timidity and legalistic stonewalling from the body politic. Astute legal observers opine that GMA has already been implicated in a betrayal of public trust.

It took some time for Joey de Venecia to find the hero inside him, to muster the courage to implicate the First Gentleman and Chairman Abalos as part of the ZTE deal. It takes soul searching and earnest resolve to overcome fear under extraordinary circumstances. There is still time for fearless candor from Neri. Careful thought might direct him to follow Mr. de Venecia’s example.

Senator Lacson prodded Neri, counseling that Neri might be squandering his defining moment, Neri curtly replied, “Let me be the judge of that”. The Black & white Movement disagrees with Chairman Neri. It is ultimately history that will judge your actions. And you, Chairman Neri, may still have an opportunity to shape that judgment – whether to be a hero or a heel. - - END

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


We respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan in regard to the plunder case against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

We presume the court arrived at its decision after careful evaluation of evidence presented during the trial.

The Black & White Movement, however, laments the selective application of justice – expedient and with a heavy hand for those perceived to be enemies of the GMA regime, while slow and protective toward those allied with her.

What is the difference between Jose Velarde and Jose Pidal?

Why has this government not pursued the cases against Nani Perez, Joc-Joc Bolante, Virgilio Garcillano, and more recently, Benjamin Abalos’ alleged complicity in the ZTE deal? Instead of pursuing these cases, this administration has stonewalled through gag orders such as the illegal EO 464 and questionable MO 108.

This reflects the sad state of our justice system where political patronage is the rule of the day. Those out of favor with the powers that be are prosecuted while those in the inner circle are beyond the reach of the long arm of the law. As former President “Erap” himself has put it… “weather-weather lang.”

We can only hope that when the political winds change direction, those who are currently in the circle of power, who are allegedly involved in crimes more sinister and heinous than Erap’s plunder, will have their day in court.