Atty. Jojo M. Liangco

Whereas

The need to refocus the Filipino ‘national agenda’

Filipino students learn early on in their history and social studies classes about the people, the significant dates and places, and the events that helped shape the Philippines as a nation.
During the month of August for example, we remember the “Cry of Pugad Lawin” in 1896 that was led by Andres Bonifacio of the revolutionary Katastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (“Katipunan”). Before the Katipunan uprising, Bonifacio wrote a poem with the title “Katapusang Hibik ng Sangkatagalugan” (The last appeal of the Philippines)---
“Mother, in the east is now risen, the sun of the Filipinos’ anger, that for three hundred centuries we suppressed, in the sea of suffering and poverty.”

Then on August 13, 1898, poet Amado Hernandez wrote--- “Ganito ring araw nang agawan ka ng laya, Labintatlo ng Agosto nang saklutin ang Maynila,” in his work “Kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking bayan,” as he expressed his thoughts, feelings and opposition to American colonialism and imperialism.
Fast forward to August 2017 and we are witnesses to the rare occurrence of a solar eclipse as the moon passes between the sun and the earth. For a moment, the bright sky darkens and where the sun should be, we see a black circle ringed by a halo of light instead.
In the Philippines the “dark skies” these days that people see and witness is not a natural phenomenon. I refer to the “obsession of killing people” in the name of the war on drugs perpetrated by unknown motorcycle-riding vigilantes and allegedly by some members of the Philippine National Police who have made numerous claims that the victims “resisted” and that they were left with no choice but to shoot and kill.
The family of the late Sen. Jose W. Diokno, a human rights and democracy icon and a fellow detainee of Sen. Ninoy Aquino who was fatally shot at the airport tarmac on August 23, 1983, released a statement recently about the gross human and civil rights violations that are taking place in the Philippines in the name of the government’s war on drugs. The Diokno family stated---
"ENOUGH of the slaughter of mostly poor Filipinos. Enough of the perversions of law in the name of the war on drugs. Killings, rather than the arrests and prosecutions mandated in our laws, have become the standard operating procedure of law enforcement. The murder of Kian de los Santos, and the deaths of thousands before him, show how little the government values the lives of Filipinos, and how much contempt it has for the law.

It is time to speak out against the killings. Silence abets murder, and we will have none of both. The Diokno family, guided by the principles of our parents, pledges to stand for justice and human rights. We lend our voices to the raging cries of the thousands killed and call on the government to comply with the Constitution and laws of our country, and stop the bloody war on drugs, which has only resulted in death, and has not reduced the influx of drugs into the country. We invite all Filipinos to stand with us, for love of country, justice and human rights."

The archbishop of Manila, His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, also asked the Filipino people to reflect, to pray, and to act in response to the increase in the number of people who have been killed as a result of the “intensified war on drugs” in the Philippines.
It appears that the only strategy of the government is to “conduct police raids” in poor residential areas while it continues to ignore the need to seek a joint solution with the country that is said to be the primary source of illegal drugs in the Philippines. What about closing the access of big-time drug lords to the country’s piers and ports?
While illegal drugs remain a problem, the nation has lost its national focus on the more telling and important problems that it must face and tackle--- poverty, lack of education, territorial dispute with China, access to affordable health care, high-level corruption of government officials, Manila traffic, and unemployment--- problems that have made drugs attractive to some people because they feel hopeless.
The “crimes of the poor” became the national focus and agenda while problems that have caused more damage to the nation, to the people, and to the national psyche and soul of the Filipino people have been ignored and not dealt with.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105.

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‘We cannot go back to our dark past’

America is again reminded of its dark past after the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters last week. In Charlottesville, a hit and run attack on protesters resulted in the tragic death of a 32-year-old woman, including injury to 19 people.
President Trump in response said the following after the incident: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”
There is a bold resurgence of white supremacism in our midst.
The call to organize last Friday and Saturday was for a huge rally and gathering of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, alt-right activists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and far right extremists to protest the planned removal of the statue of General Robert Lee of the Confederate Army that is situated in Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park.
Racist and hate slogans were chanted and heard during the rally--- “You will not replace us”--- including taunts against African Americans, people of color, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQs and people who the white supremacists believe have no place in American society. Their issue is based on the belief and premise that America is a white nation, that being white is supreme and superior to other races, and that America’s problems and maladies are brought about by multiculturalism.
They take President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as a pledge to recover their “vanishing privilege and power” and thus their slogan proclaimed “You will not replace us.”
“You will not replace us” is not a new coined phrase. Even in our own immigrant story in America, Filipinos were classified as U.S. Nationals earlier and were not given any rights and privileges that Americans enjoyed. Like the Chinese who were subjected to an Exclusion Act by U.S. Congress, Filipinos as nationals were subjected to hate and discriminatory signs that were posted in businesses and commercial establishments (“No Filipinos or Dogs Allowed,” “Positively No Filipinos Allowed”).
Carlos Bulosan in his book “America Is In The Heart” gave very vivid tales and stories about the sufferings that Filipinos faced during his time because of racism. Hate is a scary thing. Hate kills. Hate is a dead-end.
One columnist wrote that America’s past experience with racism is again being resurrected by the present administration--- “Donald Trump and his attorney general are attempting to enact and effectuate policies that ring in the key of ‘You will not replace us’ every single day. Their programmatic efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, gerrymander minority voting districts, end affirmative action, ban transgender soldiers from serving in the military, increase deportations, curb immigration, and foment racially discriminatory policing, sentencing, and incarceration systems are all the modern-day equivalent of this week’s ugly battle cry, ‘You will not replace us.’”
The union of states that is the United States of America is not only a union of white nations. It is also not a confederacy of slave-owning states. It is the union of states and of the American people founded on the belief and principles of justice and equality for all.
The tragedy in Charlottesville is a reminder to every American that we cannot go back to our dark past.
There is wisdom that we all can learn from the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court when he outlawed segregation in public schools and transformed many areas in American Constitutional Law jurisprudence many years ago--- “We are now at the point where we must decide whether we honor the concept of plural society which gains strength through diversity, or whether we are to have bitter fragmentation that will result in perpetual tension and strife.” America has a painful past when it comes to bigotry and racism and we should not stop learning from our history and from the lessons of our past in order to protect our present and our future.
In a just nation that values fair play and equality, white supremacism has no place.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105.You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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‘Faulty premises’

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law last week the senate bill that grants full government tuition subsidy in Philippine state universities and colleges. In the United States, President Donald Trump endorsed an immigration bill that proposes to slash legal immigration by half.
This immigration bill if it becomes law will limit the number visas based on family-petitions and will favor immigrants who are English speakers and have advanced degrees.
How will this affect Filipinos who want to immigrate or plan to come to the U.S.?
First let’s talk about some history here. If we look at Filipino migration in America, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 can be considered as the booster responsible for the “great leap” as it terminated organized Filipino labor importation that was prevalent during the American occupation of the Philippines.
The Act also put a stop on the restrictive national origins system which was originally passed in 1924. In the year 1934, a quota and preference system was also established for Filipinos when the Philippines became an American commonwealth after the Tydings-McDuffie Act was approved by the U.S. Congress.
It was the 1965 immigration act that allowed for a new and different wave of Filipino immigrants to come to the U.S. There was an influx of immigrants who had college and professional-level education which also saw the increase in family-based immigrant petitions (family-reunification petitions) later on.
The “manong generation” of immigrants was replaced by the arrival of more Filipino college graduates and professionals with their families unlike the manongs who entered the U.S. and immigrated as young bachelors many years earlier to work in farms and in canneries.
Now that President Duterte has signed the free-tuition bill into law, would there be more college graduates entering the labor force not only in the Philippines but also overseas (including the United States)? Will President Trump’s endorsed immigration legislation be good for Filipinos?
The proposed immigration legislation does not really address the broken immigration system of the country--- more so the economic challenges that the U.S. is facing. The bill appears to cater to the demand of Trump supporters who believe that immigrants take away jobs and are responsible for keeping wages low in the U.S.
President Trump and his supporters are not really thinking of Filipino college graduates entering the labor market as there will be a “point-system” in the proposed immigration bill’s employment-based visas. It is practical to note that employment-based visas are often filled easily and gone or taken fast. Plus, how much workers can the U.S. labor market take? A lot of American jobs have already been outsourced.
What is disappointing not only for Filipinos but for other immigrant communities as well is the proposal to slash the number of legal immigrants to be admitted under the family reunification process. This proposal is contrary to the intention and the spirit of the 1965 Act which enhanced a dual-chain system of immigration--- a family reunification (or “relative-selective”) and an employment-based (or “occupational migration”) component.
Going back to the free tuition law that President Duterte signed, I wonder what will be the law’s impact on state universities and colleges. Is it really important to produce more college graduates compared to the need to channel more resources to improve the quality of higher education in many state-run universities and colleges (and the quality of elementary and high school education in public schools for that matter)?
President Duterte’s economic managers have already voiced their concern and opposition to the law and many say that this law does not really help the poor gain access to college education.
As for President Trump and the proposed legislation on immigration that he supports, it appears to be another attempt to energize his supporters.
Both the signed bill in the Philippines and the proposed immigration legislation in the U.S. have faulty premises but as we often see in politics and government action, many laws that are passed appear to be good on the surface but a closer examination reveal otherwise.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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The colors of August

August is a rainy month in the Philippines. Many typhoons pass through the archipelago every year after the start of the rainy season in July.
The month of August is also significant because of the important events that took place during the said month that are a big part of our history.
The rains of August are heaven sent to some, particularly to the rice farmers in the rural countryside who need abundant water supply and irrigation to plant rice. In the cities and urban areas however, there is anxiety when the rains come because of the anticipated floods and heavy traffic particularly in Metro Manila.
In the history of the Philippines, two turning points or events that we can call “game-changers” happened during the month of August.
First, there is the “Cry of Pugadlawin” (also called or referred to as the “Cry of Balintawak”) that took place on August 23, 1896 when the forces of the revolutionary Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio gathered to declare the Filipino people’s war of resistance against Spanish colonialism. Bonifacio and his followers tore their “cedulas” (residence certificates) and vowed to fight for the freedom and independence.
Almost three years after that historic cry in Pugadlawin, on January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic was established under the leadership and presidency of General Emilio F. Aguinaldo in Malolos, Bulacan.
Let’s now fast forward to 1983 for the second game-changing event. On August 21, 1983, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. who was the leading opposition leader against the Marcos Regime was gunned down at the airport tarmac in Manila after returning home from the U.S.
Although there was already an underground revolutionary movement and an armed resistance against Marcos led by the Communist Party of the Philippines, Sen. Aquino’s assassination triggered a national uproar that awakened many passive Filipinos to join the fight against the dictatorship.
The resulting battle cry, “Justice for Aquino Justice for All,” represented not only the struggles of the poor and the oppressed working class but also the will of the elite and the upper class to get rid of the Marcos dictatorship. The movement against Marcos also led to the recognition of new heroes who gave up their lives earlier on for the cause of liberation (among them were student leader Edgar Jopson, Macli-ing Dulag of the Cordilleras, Dr. Bobby dela Paz in the Visayas, and many others whose names are now in the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani).
Almost three years after Sen. Aquino’s assassination, in February 1986, the fight to end the Marcos regime reached its peak when the EDSA People Power Revolution resulted in the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos who fled to Hawaii with the assistance of the U.S.
Before Sen. Aquino’s assassination, the dominant color of the protest movement against Marcos was “red” following the tradition and colors of the Katipunan and the Communist Party of the Philippines. After of Sen. Aquino’s death, yellow became the dominant color of the above-ground resistance and the street protest movement against Marcos. The inspiration for the yellow color was not revolutionary but a romantic popular song by Tony Orlando (“Tie A Yellow Ribbon/ 'Round The Ole Oak Tree”)---
“I'm comin' home, I've done my time
Now I've got to know what is and isn't mine . . .”

Sen. Aquino’s coming home was seen as a symbol of patriotism or love of country and because hundreds and thousands of yellow ribbons or banners were raised throughout the land, in marches and rallies, in election campaigns, sorties, and other protest venues, “yellow” took the lead over red in 1983 as the color of protest.
Let’s fast forward again this time to the year 2017.
Are the “colors of August” fading through the efforts of new powerful forces in government and social media who are trying to erase and re-define the true meaning and historical significance of these colors in Philippine history?
Let us not forget our historical past including events that took place after Emilio Aguinaldo and his allies from the elite class took over from Andres Bonifacio and betrayed the spirit of the Katipunan and the Cry of Pugadlawin.
Let us not allow the few to spread fake news and untrue information about our history.
Until next week!

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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When hope fights back amid conflict in Marawi

By Jayeel Serrano Cornelio

Fear is terrorism's greatest asset. Its workmanship is the disruption of everyday life. Only through disruption can terrorism achieve its ultimate end, whether religious, political, or economic.
Not everyone can of course take up arms to fight back. And so there are those for whom fighting back takes on a different form.
Consider the Young Moro Professionals Network. Its members have released a public statement that not only denounces atrocities carried out in the name of Islam. They are convinced that the values of Islam are "justice, care for humanity, mercy and compassion, and religious tolerance."
To them these virtues run counter to the acts of violence against the people of Marawi. They are thus inspired by how "Muslims and non-Muslims [are] protecting and helping each other during this crisis."
Along similar lines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has fully supported the fatwaof mufti Sheik Abehuraira Abdulrahman Udasan "against the entry and spread of violent radicalism or extremism." MILF, the government's partner in the Bangsamoro peace process, believes that religious violence "has no basis in any of the teachings of Islam."
Countering radicalization
The statements above matter if only to correct the radicalization that affects even many young people in Mindanao. Radicalization is the process in which violence against other people becomes a religiously justified act. There are many pathways to radicalization but religious ideas are quite powerful in shaping a person's cognitive and emotional commitment to violence. Training them for battle and socializing them into a violent worldview explains why the Maute Group has deliberately recruited children to become their soldiers.
These statements are, at the same time, important for everybody else. Public perception of Islam is divided as to whether it is responsible for the spread of religious violence. In fact, I have met a few otherwise nice people who harbor ill-informed views about Islam and its followers. To them all Muslims have the propensity to be violent because violence is inherent to Islam. They do not realize that Islam, which means submission, and salam, which means peace, are linguistically related to each other.
In a sense then, surrendering to the will of God brings about peace. This is why the violence many of us associate with Islam is in fact anomalous theologically and empirically.

Redemptive hope
Alongside these powerful statements are inspiring moments that render undeniable hope in the midst of crisis.
When I arrived at MSU-IIT last month, the first ones I met were sociology students from the Marawi campus of Mindanao State University. Many of the students in Marawi are Muslim. The ones I met were in the college dean's office to defend their undergraduate theses. This was, to them, their own way of fighting back and their professors, some of whom are my friends, were not going to let them down. They were all in Iligan to see them through it all.
Let me tell too the story of a DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] coordinator in one of the evacuation centers in Iligan. A Maranao, she oversees its daily operations. She has admitted to me that she, herself, is among the internally displaced. Some relatives have taken her and two of her children in. But two others have been separated from her because there is simply not enough space. She is no longer sure about the condition of her house in Marawi. In spite of all these uncertainties, she has chosen to devote her time to help other evacuees. And she remains upbeat about the future.
Finally, we have Mubarak Macabanding Paingco. He is the first Muslim to graduate summa cum laude – and the only one at MSU-IIT. He is this year's valedictorian. During his valedictory address, he recounted his moving story about losing his mother at an early age. That he was holding back his tears made it difficult for him to finish his speech. He dedicated it to her and those who have been affected by the conflict in Marawi. Many of IIT's students and staff are Maranao.
There are certainly many other hopeful stories. But the parallelism is striking. Violence may have become the new normal but people are not letting it get in the way of their lives.
Fighting back
In the hostel where I am staying for the duration of my visiting professorship at MSU-IIT, I interacted with a young Maranao couple who evacuated from Marawi. They say in the strongest terms possible what I have also heard from other Maranao friends: Ipinahihiya ng Maute ang dangal naming lahat. (The Mautes are a disgrace to our dignity.)
But they are still full of hope about the future of their young family. This again shows how people are fighting back.
Hope in this light redeems not just the future but the present too.
In other words, foresight grounded in present reality can be empowering. It believes that people can fight back. The sociologist Les Back describes it in this manner: "Hope is not a destination; it is perhaps an improvisation with a future not yet realized."
Hope therefore is not just a fantasy. But it does not on its own spring eternal. To hope is a conscious effort among people of goodwill.
And because some people have already chosen goodwill, hope, we shall see, will stand the test of time.
The least that the rest of us could offer them, apart from our donations, is to believe in them. – Rappler.com
Jayeel Serrano Cornelio, PhD is a visiting professor at the Department of Sociology at MSU-IIT. The National Academy of Science and Technology has named him the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist in the field of sociology. Follow him on Twitter @jayeel_cornelio.

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Pacquiao is the ‘bigger winner’  

There’s been a lot of grumbling, grumping, and complaining after welterweight Jeff Horn was declared the winner over sweet-science icon Manny Pacquiao in their World Boxing Organization championship bout in Brisbane.
The blame game and the sour-graping should stop.
Stop bullying Jeff Horn as well and cease calling his victory a product of “lutong-macao.” Pacquiao lost the boxing decision but in losing, he became the bigger winner than Horn after their fight.
Pacquiao the legendary sports hero brought pride to the Philippines in the past because of his boxing accomplishments. His ring exploits led to fame that allowed him to dabble in politics and professional basketball as a player-coach in the Philippine Basketball Association.
His being in politics makes it obvious why there are many Filipinos who did not feel sorry for him when he lost last week.
The Manny Pacquiao of years ago was a focused professional boxer. Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, said the following after his defeat: “I think you cannot spend so much time as a senator and expect to be a world-class fighter.” Freddie Roach, his long-time coach and trainer shared Arum’s sentiments. “I’m gonna have a long talk with him about that. Because I think maybe being a senator, being a fighter, both is maybe too much,” he quipped.
It’s not only “a loss” for boxing and boxing fans. The best interests of Pacquiao’s constituents in the Philippines are also affected because of Pacquiao’s “part-time job” as a boxer (Or is it the other way around?).
Before running for a senate seat, Pacquiao made statements that he would quit boxing once he was elected senator because he was criticized for his numerous absences and no-shows during his stint in the lower house. In the senate, he became a disappointment to many who supported him and who viewed him as a champion of the underdog and the powerless because of his controversial and unpopular positions including his anti-gay, anti-reproductive health, pro-EJK, and pro-death penalty stand, not to mention his support for the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Then he took this last fight against Horn after an earlier announcement that there was an offer to fight in the Middle East.
Boxing is a form of entertainment to those who can stand watching two athletes beat each other up in the name of athletic competition. Despite the fact that the sanctioning World Boxing Organization had Horn as their top contender, ESPN’s boxing ranking does not have Horn on the top seven of the world’s best welterweights. After Horn won over Pacquiao, I checked ESPN’s ranking and again Horn is only listed as a ninth-ranked welterweight. Was this the reason why the match was not on pay-per-view in the U.S.?
To Horn’s credit, he turned out to be a tough boxer who refused to go down despite being outboxed and outpunched by Pacquiao, the aging-veteran. A victory over Horn would not have added a star to Pacquiao’s fabled boxing record and reputation because he was expected to win over Horn anyway. The Australian boxer has not faced any opponent of Pacquiao’s caliber and experience in his 17 fights as a professional.
But the judges saw it differently. For Pacquiao’s diehard fans and followers, why whine and complain? The controversial defeat was actually a blessing for him if he decides not to retire. People want to see an “injustice corrected” and there is a reported rematch clause with Horn.
If Pacquiao does not retire and decides not to fight a top-ranked welterweight like Kell Brook, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr., or a heralded light-welterweight like Terence Crawford, Victor Postol, and Julius Indongo, then he has the second meeting with Jeff Horn. Nothing can be sweeter than having your cake and eating it too. Pacquiao and Horn meet again and boxing as a sporting game continues after suffering another black eye.
Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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‘Amboy’  

In the 1970s and early1980s, the colloquial word “amboy” (a contraction of the English words “American” and “boy”) was often used in the Philippines to refer to a Filipino who goes to the United States and who returns to the old country acting like an American in dress, manner, and language (particularly those who pronounce Pilipino words with a strong American accent). The word had a negative connotation then because it was used to refer to a person or a friend who strives and tries very hard to portray himself as a non-local (or a non-Filipino). One who also tries to show his old friends from the neighborhood that his preference for food, sanitation, convenience, and comfort are already different and have changed (i.e. “nag-iba na siya” or “ibang tao na siya”).
Amboy was also used a lot before to describe and refer to leaders and elected officials in the Philippines particularly in the national scene as “pro-American politicians” who advocate and advance the vested interests of the U.S. rather than the interest of the Filipino people and the Philippines as a nation.
President Manuel Roxas received the amboy tag after he became president after the U.S. granted the Philippines her independence on July 4, 1946.
To keep its colonial and semi-colonial treatment of the Philippines, the U.S. Congress passed the “Bell Trade Act of 1946” (also known as the “Philippine Trade Act”) which became the governing trade policy between the Philippines and the U.S.
The Bell Act, particularly its parity clause, granted equal rights to U.S. citizens and American corporations to explore the natural resources of the Philippines, a right that should have been reserved to the Filipino people. For many nationalists and progressive activists then, the Bell Act was an unacceptable and inexcusable surrender of Philippine national sovereignty.
Succeeding presidents after President Roxas were also suspected and tagged as amboys from President Ramon Magsaysay who was said to have CIA connections to Ferdinand Marcos who progressive activists in the 1970s and the 1980s called “tuta ng Kano” as the U.S. turned a blind eye on the evils of his martial law regime because Marcos faithfully guaranteed the stay of the U.S. military facilities in the Philippines.
The amboy tag though has not been used often to refer to post-1986 presidents in the Philippines. It’s only the left (the CPP-NPA-NDF forces and their allies) who still considers the Philippines as a colony of the U.S. as they have consistently labeled every administration after Marcos as an American puppet--- i.e. “U.S. - Aquino Regime” or “U.S. - Ramos Regime.”
President Duterte appears to be the exception to this puppet labeling coming from the left.
Duterte projects and fancies himself as an anti-American and has loudly declared his pro-China and pro-Putin/Russia stand. But his anti-American posturing might not hold water any longer as the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines has announced recently that the Philippine government has requested the help of Americans in getting rid of and defeating the Maute Group in Marawi.
Going back to the word amboy, with many Filipinos going overseas to work and many more leaving the Philippines to immigrate to foreign lands for greener pastures, Filipinos in the Philippines have a better understanding and are more accepting (and tolerating) these days to the fact that overseas Filipinos learn and adapt to culture, attitudes, and ways that are practiced in the foreign countries and places where they go, work, or reside.
This may be the reason why the word “amboy” if ever used or spoken these days (for Filipinos coming from the U.S., the words “Filipino American,” “Fil-Ams” or “American Filipinos” are now used by more Filipinos in the old country than the colloquial “amboy”) is no longer considered derogatory or negative. This is a positive sign that we Filipinos have also accepted the reality that we are a global nation, that Filipinos outside the boundaries of the Philippines are also Filipinos, and that we are one as a people--- “Pilipino ka maging saan ka man.”
Until next week!
Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.

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‘A more inclusive National Day for Filipinos’

Both mainstream and social media were quick to point out President Rodrigo Duterte’s absence during the event that he was supposed to lead at the Rizal Park--- the celebration and commemoration of the 119th Independence Day of the Philippines.
President Duterte’s reason for not attending the most important event of the year for the nation is that he was “exhausted,” according to his foreign affairs secretary, Alan Cayetano. Secretary Cayetano stated that the president was exhausted and tired from his numerous visits to the military camps in different parts of the country.
News coming from the Philippines before this year’s Independence Day celebration focused on the Marawi siege. The siege was perpetrated by the extremist Maute Group which is reported to have links with the notorious ISIS. This led President Duterte to declare Martial Law in the entire Mindanao and Sulu area.
There was also the tragic event at the Resorts World Manila Casino that was initially reported as an ISIS-initiated attack but authorities were quick to counter the report by stating that a lone gunman, a former government employee with huge gambling debts was responsible for the attack.
It would have been very meaningful to see the president of the Philippines at the Rizal Park while the nation’s flag was being raised during the Independence Day celebration, especially after the tragic events of the last few weeks in the Philippines.
A national day celebration is foremost in the list of every nation’s holidays. It is a designated date wherein the nation takes time to remember and value the events and the heroes that led to their nationhood and sovereignty. This designated date of nationhood is often symbolized by the date of a nation’s independence, of becoming a republic, or it can also be a significant date for a patron saint or a leader who became the “father of the nation or country.”
Right after World War II, July 4 was the day marked as the national day in Philippine calendars. This date was in observance of the granting of Philippine Independence by the United States in 1946. The date was then changed to June 12 during the term of President Diosdado Macapagal to commemorate the declaration of independence and the raising of the Philippine flag (June 12, 1898) in Kawit, Cavite by General Emilio Aguinaldo who became the first president of the Philippine Republic.
Many Philippine historians question the validity of the June 12, 1898 date as a national day based on the reason that the Philippines continued to be a colony by the United States after Aguinaldo’s declaration (as Spain ceded the country to the U.S.).
It is also interesting to note that there is another Philippine Day celebration date that some Filipinos observed before 1946. Believe it or not, a good number of Filipinos in the Philippines (and also in the U.S.) observed their annual “National Day” celebration on Rizal Day (December 30).
Rizal Day commemorates the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan (Luneta) where he was executed by firing squad on December 30, 1896.
Since June 12 is only a week from Dr. Rizal’s birthday June 19 (1861), I believe we should revisit the issue regarding the date of the celebration of Philippine Independence Day. June 12 is focused mainly on the historic Kawit flag-raising event in 1898. The Philippines needs to pick a date that is guided by and based from historic events that more people can identify with--- to make it more inclusive. The discussion of this issue is timely.
We can for example focus on the message of and lessons from historic events such as Rizal’s work in Dapitan so that Mindanao is also included, Lapu-lapu and the people of Mactan’s heroics in fighting the first Spanish attempt to colonize the Philippines, the founding of the La Liga Filipina, the Noli and Fili and the lessons that we should learn to eradicate our “social cancer,” the lessons learned by Rizal in his travels abroad, and other lessons that more Filipinos can identify with--- which will also help in developing a deeper understanding of “who we are as a people.”
The Philippines and the Filipino people need a common rallying spirit to move forward. And one way to have one is to have a National Day that many Filipinos can identify with.
Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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The politics of impeaching a president

We hear the word impeachment mentioned more frequently in both the United States and the Philippines these days although it is very remote at this time that the sitting presidents of both countries will be impeached. 

In March, an opposition lawmaker filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte calling for the president’s removal from office citing high crimes, betrayal of public trust, and abuse of power as the basis for his impeachment complaint. 

The justice committee of the Lower House recently dismissed the impeachment charges against President Duterte for “insufficiency in substance” related to the president’s alleged role in the state-sponsored killings and the Davao Death Squad, as well as his administration’s alleged inaction to uphold the country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, Panatag Shoal, and Benham Rise. 

For now, President Duterte will not be the subject of an impeachment trial unlike former president Joseph Estrada who was charged with plunder and perjury during an impeachment trial in the Philippine Senate in December 2000.  However, President Estrada was ousted from office in January of 2001 during a popular uprising in Metro Manila after his aborted impeachment trial.

Will President Duterte suffer the same fate?  

I doubt it.  Not at this time.  President Duterte enjoys strong support from lawmakers of both houses and if the social survey results are correct, it appears that he still holds a high trust rating among the people. 

But the rising death toll as a result of the extrajudicial killings going on in the Philippines will surely hurt his popularity later on.  Like the failed social experiments and painful experiences in Thailand and Colombia, the Filipino people will soon realize that mass killings simply do not work and that there are more creative and productive solutions in dealing with the drug menace without killing the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.   

History has taught us that the rule of law is vital to progress and a country will not move forward without it because those in power will be the first ones who will engage in corruption and acts that are detrimental to the best interests of the nation if the rule of law is absent and missing.

The rule of law is the world’s best hope for building peaceful and prosperous societies according to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.  Even Philippine CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno spoke about the dangers of lawlessness and impunity which she said represents a breakdown in governance. 

I hope that President Duterte will find it alarming that 45 of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council expressed deep concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines.  I hope also that he will listen to the Council’s call for his government to investigate the extrajudicial killings that have been going on since he took office and since his war on drugs started.  

  In President Donald Trump’s case, unlike President Duterte, his trust rating has been very low since he took office.  But like President Duterte, President Trump enjoys strong support from his Republican party mates and allies in both the House of Representatives and the Senate (unlike President Richard Nixon who resigned before the House could vote on the impeachment resolutions against him when his political support was completely eroding and collapsing and the Democrats enjoyed the majority vote on his impeachment).    

Many legal and constitutional experts assert though that the conduct of the U.S. president poses a danger to the nation’s democratic system of government. 

It is alleged that the firing of FBI Director James Comey obstructs the investigation on the claimed Russian connection and influence in the results of the 2016 presidential election--- and the taped conversation with former-director Comey they allege may be classified as a form of intimidation and obstruction of justice. 

Will a Trump impeachment complaint prosper?  Like in President Duterte’s case, impeaching President Trump is tough and remote for now--- but there is a stronger possibility after the 2018 mid-year election if the dominant party in Congress changes. 

Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California.  His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases.  Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336.  You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com

 

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What is Trumpcare for?

Life is not fair, as they say. I believe that this also goes true when we talk about the present threat to Obamacare and access to quality and affordable health care in the United States.
The “broken” healthcare system before President Barack Obama was voted into office needed sweeping reforms because compared to what European countries and
Canada have, the U.S. lagged behind in terms of providing affordable health care to its people.
This was one of the more important missions of President Obama when he assumed office. Immediately he took the lead in having the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and Obamacare, passed into law. And on March 23, 2010, the 111th U.S. Congress responded positively and passed the ACA.
The ACA which took effect on January 1, 2014 has a noble purpose--- to provide affordable health coverage to more Americans. And consistent with President Obama’s “change we can believe in” mantra, the ACA also hopes to change the way health insurance companies provide coverage (as well as the way consumers purchase their policies).
By giving more Americans access to affordable and better health coverage, the ACA also aims in the long term to reduce the U.S. government’s health care spending.
So far, ACA has enrolled and has given health care access to more Americans and it has been widely accepted and supported. Just look at the favorable surveys that it has been receiving (including from people and Republican voters who were opposed to it earlier). But after the electoral victory of President Donald Trump and the Republicans gaining control of Congress, sweeping policy changes in healthcare are again expected. It is clear that Republicans will repeal one of President Obama’s major accomplishments as president.
Indeed Republicans in the lower house acted swiftly and fast following the lead of President Trump. They fast tracked and recently passed the legislation to repeal and replace major parts of the ACA.
Why? Is there something wrong with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act?
Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” ACA is only on its third year. It is not perfect but it works. Certainly there is room for improvement and there are parts that can be enhanced to make it better. So why the need to repeal and replace it?
To repeal and replace ACA is beyond my comprehension and most Americans should feel the same way too. The last “major health care law” before ACA, the federal law for the health care of those who are 65 years old and older (the Medicare and Medicaid programs) was passed on July 30, 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. This 1965 health care reform law was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.
ACA became law in 2010, almost 45 years after the Medicare and Medicaid programs were put into place. During the 50th celebration of the anniversary of this amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services marked the anniversary of the programs by recognizing the ways in which Medicare and Medicaid have transformed the nation’s health care system over the past five decades.
Notice that in the five decades after the Medicare and Medicaid law was passed, Republicans never moved nor succeeded in “repealing and replacing” Medicare and Medicaid. It makes perfect sense. Why oppose these programs that have been protecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans for the past 50 years? These programs aside from saving lives have also improved the economic security of the U.S.
In President Obama’s ACA, health care access and coverage expanded to reach working class citizens who now can afford and enjoy having health coverage benefits.
Also, a past Republican president, President George W. Bush, even signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare recipients.
The ACA was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 after a strong challenge from the Republicans. So why repeal and replace it now? Why not just expand and improve it? Really, what is Trumpcare for?
Until next week.

Jojo Liangco is an attorney with the Law Offices of Amancio M. Liangco Jr. in San Francisco, California. His practice is in the areas of immigration, family law, personal injury, civil litigation, business law, bankruptcy, DUI cases, criminal defense and traffic court cases. Please send your comments to Jojo Liangco, c/o Law Offices of Amancio "Jojo" Liangco, 605 Market Street, Suite 605, San Francisco, CA 94105 or you can call him (415) 974-5336. You can also visit Jojo Liangco’s website at www.liangcolaw.com.

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