No to Martial Law in any form! Yes to peace! » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle

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By Deedee M. Siytangco

Who is afraid of Martial Law?

We all should be because the Marcos Martial Law years are still very much in our national consciousness and we could be headed there again if we let it!

Senator Frank Drilon says that although the constitution allows ML to preserve the state in emergency situations, it must be based on facts and extreme danger to the people and the state should exist, and must be submitted to both houses of Congress within 48 hours. The coverage should be for a specific time (60 days) and contrary to the Palace’s understanding, there is no suspension of the Constitution. No substitution of the military courts for civilian courts either. Civilian courts will continue to function, and there should be no warrantless arrests unless the Writ of Habeas Corpus is suspended (and will only be over those charged with rebellion).

CHED chairman Patricia Licuanan with National BookStore matriarch Socorro “Nanay” Ramos (Deedee M. Siytangco)

Senator Drilon reminded former SC Justice Mendoza that The Constitution and the “rule of law should continue to reign supreme in any declaration of Martial law.” The Bill of Rights, Drilon said, cannot be set aside. These are rights that are considered inviolable.

However, Pres. Duterte has announced that warrantless arrests are now allowed in Mindanao! How is this now?

We are still in a state of turmoil! The AFP had just proclaimed, “We have the Marawi situation under control” and in the next hour their Commander-in-Chief declares Martial Law to quell the entry and takeover of the Maute-ISIS troops in Marawi!

President Duterte also threatened to declare Martial Law in the Visayas and the whole nation if the terrorists don’t back down. Tough talk from a tough president! (Even Joma Sison doesn’t think declaring Martial Law in Mindanao is a good thing to do.)

It is comforting if we are to believe him that he also declared on his return from Russia that “I will not allow abuses in Martial law!”

We will hold you to that, Mr. President. Wait, and yet in the same statement also declared that Marcos’ Martial Law was “good.” Hellooooo!

Be vigilant freedom loving ciizens!

* * *

I recently had a reunion with an ex-Operation Brotherhood International (OBI) man, Jose “Pete” Fuentecilla. A journalist by profession, Pete is now retired and living in New York City, but he hasn’t forgotten his OBI roots. In fact he organized a group, the Mekong Circle (The Mekong river is essential to the life in Laos, a land-locked country) made up of Filipinos from OBI staff, employees of handful American companies there, of the only airline flying there at the time that OBI was there to be of service to the Laotian people thru USAID as medical doctors and nurses, engineers, community organizers, teachers, and agriculturists. The Mekong Circle is still active and will hold its annual international reunion in Laos on June, so those interested can get in touch with Pete.

Pete has with him the names and contact addresses of the members of the Mekong circle and of the hundreds of Filipinos in the OBI that Oscar J. Arellano founded in the early seventies.” OJ” presented this unique (at that time) humanitarian aid composed of Filipino volunteers, all professionals to help out Vietnam then in a raging war with the Vietcong and the Americans.

The OBI approach won approval also from the Junior Chamber International which initially funded the project. The USAID later adopted OBI as its project in Vietnam.

OBI finished its stint in Vietnam and transferred its operations to Laos, then a hard-hit country over-run by communists. Pete worked in OBI -Laos as information officer, later as part of the administration office and had the chance to see the sacrifices of the Pinoy doctors, nurses, teachers, community workers all over the country. He wrote a book about it, and this should make interesting reading for those with OBI rooks and links to those who worked for the organization, like your columnist who spent several years at the OB office in Manila. Hubby was also part of OBI Manila and then was sent to Laos by OJ. He enjoyed the Laos experience as did all the volunteers.

The book, Filipinos in Laos,  has   two parts, one by Fr. Miguel Bernard, SJ, and one by Fuentecilla which lists down all the volunteers and includes a timeline of the events in Laos with precious historical pictures.

Those interested in the book and the reunion of Mekong Circle Members, contact Pete at his email, fuentecilla@aol.com> or www.amazon.com which published it.

* * *

Are you a high school graduate who, because of poverty or for some other reasons, has been unable to go to college? Or, were you a college student who stopped but who now wants to go back to school to earn your degree?

If you are either of these, now is the best time for you to go back to college before the new higher education curriculum is implemented in school year 2017 to 2018. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) estimates that there are about 10 million “Lifelong Learners,” referring to graduates who obtained high school diplomas in SY 2014-2015 or earlier under the old 10-year basic education program.

 “Now is really the best time to go back to college,” says CHED Chairperson Patricia B. Licuanan. “By next year, Lifelong Learners who would want to continue their undergraduate studies will face more requirements in going back to school as colleges and universities may require them to take bridging programs or additional subjects in line with the competencies required in the new curriculum.”

Lifelong Learners who prefer to pursue higher education after SY 2017-2018, will have to fulfill the admission requirements of colleges and universities they intend to study in, as contained in CHED Memorandum Order No. 10, series of 2017. Licuanan explains that these requirements are brought about by the full implementation of the K to 12 Program, particularly the transition to the revised general education curriculum starting June 2018.

To support them in going back to school, these Lifelong Learners may avail themselves of the government’s free tuition program in state colleges and universities in the coming school year. Alternatively, they can apply can apply for the Student Financial Assistant Program offered by CHED.

 “We fully recognize the financial constraints that hamper our Lifelong Learners from pursuing their education. Our interventions underline our efforts and commitment in CHED to provide wider access to quality higher education nationwide,” Licuanan said.

As an additional support, CHED has called on all higher education institutions nationwide to accommodate Lifelong Learners this coming school year by extending the deadline for applications and enrolment in SY 2017-2018.

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