By Rey Ramirez
As someone who has known Mike over three decades, I feel the urge to speak up for him at every opportunity, if only to parry the unwarranted blows he has taken over the past few years. It’s been a bitter turnaround of public perception for Mike. I still recall the time when he was greeted with cheers in his public appearances as an opposition congressman; at that time, people were rooting for him for sticking out his neck on popular issues of the day. The media extolled him as a politician of principle, and rightfully so, because for anyone who has really gotten to know him, Mike is without question someone who would stand up for what is right.
But while principled men comprise a mere few, principled men with great hearts are even fewer. Mike is part of this latter category. And while I admire this about Mike, his genuine desire to help out has regretfully become an easy target for those against the current government, to the detriment of his reputation. It is worth noting that in most of the accusations leveled against him, Mike’s sincere concern to offer a helping hand had been unfairly portrayed as an underhanded ploy to cover for the current administration.
In a bid to help Udong Mahusay in 2003, he was accused of trying to silence a witness of Senator Ping Lacson on corruption charges against Arroyo. Not a lot of people know that Udong’s brother Jojo has long worked as a driver for Mike; and it was in fact Jojo who requested Mike to intercede. Mike readily obliged after Udong relayed to Jojo that he feared for his life.
And again in 2008, meeting Jun Lozada under the watch of the La Salle brothers, Mike out of earnest concern for a former colleague who admitted having no cash at hand, gave P50,000. The gesture was hastily dismissed as an attempt at bribery. But if one stops and rationally thinks about it, a mere P50,000 cannot seriously be considered a bribe.
I understand that most people have become skeptical about any display of kindness these days. We live in a time when an act of kindness or generosity is met with suspicion, as if everyone has a hidden agenda of taking back the favor when the right time comes. And although cynics are sure to sneer at this—I can vouch for this: Mike had always been one to extend a helping hand.
When he was still a Quezon City councilor, people from his district would come to his house seeking help. I recall that his mom, Tita Florence, would always get frustrated upon looking for her grocery purchases and finding them gone, only to realize later that Mike had given them away to those in need of food. He was still single then and I know that his wife Julie, during their first years of marriage, also had to put up with these surprises.
One instance that truly defined the kind of person he is for me happened back when we were in Grade Six. One afternoon, we were studying in the library when one of the heavyset boys in class suddenly kicked our table--a classic case of a bully’s cry for help. Of course, I didn’t know that back then and I knew better than not to pick a fight with someone larger than I was. After all, what would our parents, who were very active in the PTA, do when they learn that we were sent to the office to their disgrace?
Mike stood up to this bully; even then, he knew he had to fight for what was right at the risk of our parent’s scolding (which was the worst thing imaginable for us at that time). I heard the bully say, “suntukan na lang,” to which Mike’s immediate reply was “oo ba.” I think it ended there—mere posturing. No face off ever occurred.
Later that school year, the same bully would accidentally knock off a flask in our science class. As per school policy, the student who breaks school property should pay for the damaged item. I guess Mike was precociously socially aware and knew that some of us were not as well off as others. I was surprised when he suggested that we pay for the broken flask. “Tulungan natin. Hati tayo.” I hesitated, of course, still recalling the incident in the library. But I guess his kindness got the better of me. We paid for the broken flask, 50/50, with our allowance. And the three of us became friends since then.
Mike and the bully would meet again as adults. Upon knowing that he was looking for a job, Mike hired this estranged classmate as his aide without hesitation. That’s the kind of person Mike is, and no matter what people have been saying about him, I’m proud to call him my friend.
By Rain Barnido
This is a rather long blog entry.
And this is the only way to write this entry, because there is so much to say when it comes to the question whether people like Mike Defensor has sacrificed their values as student activist because of their political participation at present.
First, I would insist that student activism has evolved throughout history, always paying attention and sensitive to the social reality where it operates.
Good activists refuse to surrender their analysis and mode of action. Brilliant activists change with the times, and finding better ways of engaging with society.
I know of Mike Defensor when he was a student activist, specifically as President of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP). I was a political officer of another group called Alyansa ng Kabataang Makabayan (AKMA), and later of the League of Filipino Students.
I never worked with Mike as my contemporaries in the movement were Dennis Cunanan and Sahlee Cariño who chaired the NUSP in 1992 and 1993, respectively. From what I heard, though, I gathered that despite Mike’s “chick boy” image, he was a committed and well-respected activist and student leader.
But NUSP has disowned him, saying that he is a disgrace to the movement.
But is he?
I propose that NUSP, like the movement where it aligns itself is wrong with its analysis, and has rendered itself inutile in the struggle for freedom and democracy.
Let us make a roll call of the NUSP luminaries: John Osmeña, Raul Roco, Rene Saguisag, Sonia Malasarte, Ricardo Puno Jr., Ronaldo Puno, Salvador Britanico, Violy Calvo, Loida and Mely Nicolas, Macapanton Abbas, Carlos Padilla, Miriam Defensor, Tina Monzon, Jose Lina, Francis Pangilinan, Lean Alejandro, Chito Gascon, Lorenzo Tañada III, Hernani Braganza, and Mike Defensor.
How do we judge the trajectory of student activists? Should they die like Lean Alejandro for them to considered worthy alumni of the cause? Should they remain in the movement, stuck in the comforts of a country like the Netherlands?
Rene Saguisag became the defense lawyer of Erap Estrada, should that diminish his credentials as an active participant in the struggles for justice? Francis Pangilinan plays it safe and does nothing controversial. Is that the way to evolve?
I say Mike Defensor did a better job in sustaining his fire. He knew that no matter what people will do, the left will never take over this country. So, he became part of the institution and work the change from within. That is the logic of people like Etta Rosales and Riza Hontiveros, right?
But Mike was denounced because of his association with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo – an act that is seen as an abandonment of the cause of justice and a giving in to the status quo.
But Mike Defensor saw the light. He sees the global reality, and knows that new times require new ways of thinking, new modes of doing. That is not called mutation, it is called evolution – survival of the fittest, supremacy of the finest.
Political activism can only effect change if it has the platform to direct it – without that, it is a useless machinery that finds joy in landing frontpage in the media without the slightest effect on the lives of the people they profess to protect.
Mike Defensor earned the ire of his former colleagues when he denounced Cavite State University student Maria Theresa Pangilinan’s gutsy act of heckling the President during her school’s graduation rites. He said Pangilinan’s protest was “done in poor taste.” He berated the Presidential Security Group for allowing such breach in decorum.
Dekada 80 Movement, an association of leftwing activists who started their political activism in the 80s will remember former colleague Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief Michael Defensor a “ bad egg” and would no longer entertain talking to him in the near future.
“ He is dropped from the roster of Dekada 80 activists. We categorically disown this guy for betraying the principles and legacy of our activism. He is a total disgrace to the activists of the 80’s,” the Dekada 80 Movement said in a press statement.
“ What ever little respect and trust we have for him, they are all gone. He is now nothing but a bureaucrat capitalist”, said Gerry Albert Corpuz, one of the early organizers of Dekada 80 Movement.
And this is where I must be blunt.
WHO REALLY KNOWS WHO GERRY CORPUZ IS?
And if he, for the sake of argument, is so pure that he does not have any connection with the present administration, he is also helpless and useless in delivering any change that he hopes for. At best, he will die with a clean record. That’s it.
Mike has worked hard to be at that level where he has the connection, the power, and the resources to make push for change – the kind that is not borne out of useless analysis, political spectrum and comparative ideology. It is a change that comes from a careful analysis of the present political turmoil of the country, and from a strong conviction that the country will survive better in the track where it is right now.
We may not agree with that. But we can certainly argue that such an act is neither selfish nor corrupt. It is activism in its present form.
By Jose Victor “Jay” Delas Alas
I have known Mike since our elementary days in UPIS. Even as early as those years, I had seen Mike as a great leader. Sumikat sya sa school nung tumakbo at nanalo sya sa student council. Pero kahit bago pa nun, madami na ang may kakilala sa kanya. Kasi sya yung tipong kahit kilala yung pamilya nya, kahit sino pwede nyang samahan. Pwede sya sa mga sosyal pwede din sya sa masa.
All out yan pagdating sa batch namin, mas lalo na sa mga alam nya na nangangailangan. Nung 20th high school reunion nga namin, gusto nya talagang magkasama sama kami lahat, considering na hindi naman sya graduate technically ng UPIS. Nung nalaman nya na hindi makakasama yung iba dahil nga may entrance fee yung event, sabi nya hindi tawagin nyo pa din sila, ako na muna ang sasagot ng entrance.
Kahit ako nung namatay yung tatay ko, hindi naman ako nanghihingi e, naglagay sya sa bulsa ko. Sabi ko ibigay na lang nya dun sa isang kaibigan namin na nangangailangan ng tulong dahil nagaagaw buhay yung tatay. Sabi nya, “Hindi, sa ‘yo yan.” Pinuntahan nya din yung isang kaibigan namin sa ospital, binigyan nya din. So, ganoon talaga syang klaseng kaibigan. Kaya nung sinabi ni Jun Lozada na walang wala talaga sya at nagbigay sya, talagang likas sa kanya yun, walang bahid na pamumulitika. Likas talaga sa kanya ang tumulong. In fact, sya yung tao na hindi mo na kailangang hingan, kapag nakita ka nyang nangangailangan, tutulong yan.
Pero, isa sa mga hindi ko makaklimutan talaga kay Mike e nung gumitna sya sa gulo namin nung fourth year high school ako. Hindi na sya taga-UPIS nun, bumalik sya pagkatapos nyang matapos ng high school sa states. It was a classic case ng rambol ng UP na tipong damay lahat at yung iba hindi na pumapasok dahil sa gulo. Natapos lang yun nang kinausap nya yung dalawang partido. Malakas talaga sya mangumbinsi. E kung sa grupo lang namin hindi na yon maaareglo, kung hindi sya lumapit. Naalala ko sabi nya, “Wala na kong hihingin sa yo, pare. Ayusin na natin ‘to.” Naayos naman. Ngayon nagkikita kita kaming mga taga dalawang partido, nagbibirubiruan tungkol doon sa gulo. Yun ang classic na kwentuhan namin pag nagkikita-kita kami.
Kaya hindi din ako nagtaka na kahit sa pulitika, si Mike yung tipong gumigitna para ayusin ang dalawang panig. Kahit nung nasa administration sya, he served as the channel between the government and former president Estrada. Nung nagkaroon ng kaguluhan sa Oakwood, siya ang kumausap sa mga Magdalo soldiers. Ganun talaga syang tao, kung makakatulong sya para magkasundo ang dalawang panig, gagawin nya. It’s unfortunate na nababahiran ng ibang kulay ang ginagawa nya. Putting things in perpective, he’s not the type who would do these things for political mileage. Hindi talaga sya ganung tao. People should note that he was even the first to concede his senate bid. In a political scene na pagnatalo sinasabi agad na dinaya, sya tinggap nya.
Alam din naman yata nya kasi na nag-iba ang tingin sa kanya ng tao. At sinabihan na din naming mga kaibigan nya nun na kung pwede wag na syang sumama sa administrasyon dahil baka mapasama pa ang tingin sa kanya ng tao dahil mainit ang mata ng mga tao sa gobyerno. But I think he saw it as an opportunity to help out. Now out of politics, he continues to be seen in a negative light, but I know ultimately and for those who know him, Mike will always be one of the most remarkable people in contemporary politics
The writer is a batch mate of Mike Defensor in UPIS. He is currently the officer in charge of operations at Berkman Systems Incorporated.
By F. Bontog, Jr.
Mike Defensor had to make the decision no one could make
During his stint as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mike Defensor got a lot of flak for approving Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) with several mining corporations that were said to have resulted in substantial environmental degradation to the areas in which they worked.
It is great that people cared enough to follow these stories and to take a stand. However, it really is very unfair and counterproductive to put all on the blame on Defensor. Some people have gone so far as to call the man “anti-environment”, but there is much evidence that shows otherwise. And there are reasons behind his decisions, many of which have sadly been overlooked in conventional media.
For one thing, students of governance and politics will know that for productive industry to flourish (and for private-led development to take place), government cannot play too big a hand in the operations of companies working in the country. Idle assets have to be put to productive use, and it is the job of government to find the best uses for these in the project of development. Once it has done that, the country is best served with government stepping back.
Defensor obviously had to make a tough decision, and there obviously were tradeoffs in allowing these mining companies to work in the country. It is tragic that some of these companies might have committed infractions of environmental laws and the guidelines set by the DENR (and the perpetrators will have to be dealt with severely—which Defensor has already done more than once), but if government makes it policy to at the outset block companies from working in the country on the basis of a speculative fear that they might not abide by the rules, then no development could ever take place.
It should be noted that all of the companies with approved mining contracts complied with the DENR’s application requirements and were subjected to a rigid qualification procedure. Since they met the requirements, they were awarded the contracts. And now, the companies will surely be held liable for any infractions they might have committed. But Defensor cannot be held to blame for approving the contracts at the time they were entered, because until then, everything was complied with.
Also, Defensor’s long record of going after violators of DENR guidelines and environmental laws has pointedly been overlooked in conventional media. Remember that it was during Defensor’s stint as DENR chief that the fight against illegal loggers was most successful. It was during his term that many of big-time illegal loggers, many of whom themselves held influential positions in government, were finally charged. Also, it was during Defensor’s term that the total log ban was finally enacted.
It was also during Defensor’s term as DENR secretary that the biggest ever fine for violation of an environmental law was imposed (a P10.7 million fine against the big-time Australian mining firm LaFayette, which was found to have violated the Clean Air Act). If this isn’t a huge statement against violators of environmental law, then I don’t know what is.
What is needed here is balance. Mistakes were certainly made, but it is not as black and white as many people make it out to be. Mining contracts such as those in question and the proper implementation of policy are complicated matters. A more mature view on the matter will be necessary if we are to get to the bottom of these infractions, and this cannot be had if people automatically heap blame on government as it did in the case of Defensor.
The writer is a soil conservationist who worked as Soil Analyst for Sustainable Agriculture Center. He is an environmentalist who lobbied for better mining laws in the country together with Green Initiative Baguio Benguet.
_____________ Read more!
“There is definitely no need for Lozada’s recognizance by the Senate even if stated in Article 3 of the Bill of Rights, simply because the bail is not that much and to stay in the Senate will only be a futile exercise,” he said.
“What significant conditions can the Senate do for Lozada but only a possible grandstanding on the issue? As lawmakers, we should perform our duties and upheld the mandate of the people and that is to legislate laws for the betterment of Filipinos,” Teodoro said.
He stressed that Lozada could post the P6,000 bail for his freedom as he is accused of perjury stemming from his alleged conflicting statements to the Senate and the Court of Appeals in his testimony on the ZTE broadband controversy.
- Kay tamis ng ating samahan sa lungkot at kaligayahan. Tunay na kaibigan, kasamang maaasahan. Salamat at tayo'y may
pinagsamahan. Salamat, tunay kong kaibigan
(Salamat, by The Dawn)Mike has always been dear to us since we were kids. He’s a good friend who came running when we needed him. Mike was the go-to guy even before he became Cong. Mike, and then Sec. Defensor. Many of us knew he was destined for public service. Mike was the consummate politician, a trait he developed since grade school. We thought he would go on to become president, if he didn’t disappoint the fickle Filipino public.
But it seems he has. So much so that he is vilified by the media at every opportunity. His actions are always placed within the perspective of his relationship with an unpopular president. Justifiable, though harsh.So we set up this blog. Some of us have worked with him and have seen him make what we thought were good decisions. But some of us were also there when we thought he made wrong ones. But that is how a man is made -- by the choices he makes.
As his friends, the best we can do is stand by him and try to help everyone else see things from a different light.
- 40th birthday
- aiko melendez
- Argee Guevarra
- business district
- business mirror
- business world
- Cacebook friends
- cory aquino
- David Celdran
- edsa revolution
- Gawad Kalinga
- health benefits
- health card
- herbert bautista
- hospitals quezon city
- illegal logging
- Jun Lozada
- lozada case
- manny villar
- mayor mike defensor
- Michael Defensor
- mike defensor
- missing funds
- Ninoy Aquino
- P N R
- President GMA
- quezon city
- quirino hospital
- quirino memorial hospital
- RA 8313
- RA 8976
- Sec. Mike Defensor
- street children
- street kids
- tol mike
- UP Friends