Sunday, February 27, 2011 Tags: , , 0 comments

Gaddafi and the Third Universal Theory

Colonel Gadaffi

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi was born on June 7, 1942 to nomadic parents in the coastal city of Sirte.  He went to Benghazi University to study geography, but later dropped out to join the army.  He was an ardent admirer of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab socialist and nationalist ideology.  In 1969 at the age of 27 he led a group of Libyan army officers, belonging to the Movement of Free Officers, Unionists and Socialists in overthrowing the monarch King Idris. He was accorded the title “Leader and Guide of the Revolution” after relinquishing his post as prime minister in 1972. Having ruled Libya for 42 years Gadaffi is now one of the longest serving rulers in history.

In the 1970’s Gaddafi began formulating the Third Universal Theory. He was inspired by the anarchist philosophers Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin.

The Third Universal Theory

Third Universal Theory was based on the ideas of Arab unity, independence, economic egalitarianism and cultural authenticity with Islam at its center.   It was conceptualized on the premise that the two dominant and opposing socio-politico-economic ideologies- capitalism and communism- have been proven invalid. It rejected the class exploitation in capitalism and class warfare in communism.  It sought to abolish class differences.

Gaddafi believes that religion and nationalism are the two paramount drives that moved forward the evolutionary process, the first being basic to individual, whereas the latter to society.  He emphasized that nationalism is the basis for the survival of nations.  Nations whose nationalism is non-existent are subject to ruins.
The Green Book

The Third Universal Theory is the official ideological doctrine in Libya. Its key provisions are outlined in the Green Book, which is divided into three parts:
1.       Addressing Democracy (People Power)
2.       The solution of economic problems (Socialism)
3.       Public aspect of the Third Universal Theory

People Power

This political aspect of his theory rejects traditional forms of democracy such as parliament, political parties, and referenda.  

Democracy, means the rule of the people, therefore parliament cannot speak on behalf of the people, according to Gaddafi. The system of elected parliament is demagogic because votes can be bought and manipulated.

The party, according to the Green Book, is a modern tool of dictatorial rule. Parties are established groups of people to exercise their interests.  Moreover, parties are corruptible and can be bribed from the inside and outside.

Referendums are also described as a falsification of democracy. Voters can only say “yes” or “no”, therefore the result doesn’t reflect their true desire.

It was stated in this book that the “only means of people’s democracy are the people’s congresses”.  People must represent themselves in the decision-making forums such as Libya’s Basic People’s Conferences. In the Jamahiriya (meaning “state of the masses”), the entire population is divided into people’s congresses that elect people’s committees, which in turn form the second round of the People’s Congresses. Issues are addresses at the People’s Congresses. Accordingly, the outcome and decisions are carried out in the reverse order.


The second part of the book contained the economic aspect of the theory. It proclaimed that the employee has a right to any product produced by them. In 1977 Libya established the principle of self-government in the economy. Enterprises were transferred to the collective management, thus eliminating private ownership of businesses by upper and middle classes.

The final result of economic reforms in Jamahiriya should be “the achievement of a new socialist society”, wherein profit and money cease to exist and the production fully meets the material needs of all the members of the society.

Public aspect of the theory

Different aspects of life, including religions, education, sports, women and languages were addressed in this portion of the book.

According to the book, “Every nation should have its own religion and should recognize the importance of a continuous social chain ( family- tribe- nation-the world).”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 Tags: , , , 0 comments

Libya's Oil Wealth in Danger

one of Libya's oil refinery

Libya is located in the African continent, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In its borders are Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Egypt. Covering 1.76 million square kilometers, it is mostly desert. It is the fourth largest country in Africa. It has a population of 6.3 million, most of which are Sunni Muslims.

Libya’s main economic sector is oil and natural gas production. This country, a member of OPEC, has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, followed by Nigeria and Algeria. According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Libya has a total proven oil reserve of 41.5 billion barrels as of January 2007 with production of 1.8 million barrels per day, 95% of which is crude oil. With only 25% of its territory covered by exploration agreements with oil companies, Libya is still highly unexplored. Hence, this figure might change in the years to come.

Because of the parameters stated above, Libya is Africa’s major oil producer and Europe’s single largest oil supplier.  Supplies from North Africa to Europe have the advantage of being both timely and cost-effective because of its strategic location.

According to 2008 BP Statistical Energy Survey, Libya had proved natural gas reserve of 1.49 trillion cubic meters, 0.84 of the world’s total, while producing 15.2 billion cubic meters.

Oil and gas production comprises a major sector in Libya’s economy, with oil exports accounting to 95% of its revenues.  Due to its oil wealth, Libya boasts of the highest per capita income in Africa, an estimated of US$12,000 in 2010.

More than 50 oil companies are present in Libya, which includes BASF, British Petroleum (BP), Royal Dutch Shell, Italian OMV, Japan’s JX Nippon, Exxon Mobil,  Occidental,  Polish PGNiG, Russian Gazprom,  German RWE, Italian ENI, Algerian Sonatrach, Oasis group, Brazilian Petrobas,  and Statoil.  

The vast majority of Libyan oil is exported to European countries like Italy (495,000bbl/d), Germany (253,000 bbl/d), Spain (113,000 bbl/d) and France (87,000 bbl/d). With the lifting of the sanctions against Libya in 2004, the United States imported 85,000 bbl/d in 2006, up from 56,000 bbl/d in 2005.

Because of the continuing unrest in Libya, a civil war is looming in the horizon. The nation’s oil wealth is peril of falling into the wrong hands. Seif al-Islam Gaddafi said that if protests continued, Libya would slide back to "colonial" rule. "You will get Americans and European fleets coming your way and they will occupy you."

Will Libya be another Sudan? or the next Iraq?

Impact of the Middle East Crisis on the Philippine Economy

chaos on a street in Libya

The Philippine economy might be threatened, like the rest of the world, by the ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Most of these counties are major oil-producers.  They are responsible for 36% of global oil output and 61% of proved reserved in 2009 according to Statistical Review of World Energy by BPI PIc. Saudi Arabia, the largest world’s oil producer, holds one-fifth of the world’s oil. Iran, with an output of 37.2 million barrels per day, is OPEC’s second largest, while Libya is 8th with an output of 1.6 million barrels per day. As of yesterday news of the escalation of violence in Libya sent the oil price soaring above $105 per barrel.  It could trigger a cascade of price increases on various commodities and services making life more difficult for the average Filipinos.

The future of the Filipino Overseas Workers or OFWs hangs in the balance as a consequence of the tension in this region.  Due to the lack of better opportunities at home many Filipinos are forced to work temporarily or permanently abroad. Middle East is a prime destination for our skilled and unskilled workers.  According to POEA reports in 2008 alone 631, 828 Filipinos were deployed in this part of Asia. As of June 2010 there are around 6,000 Filipinos in Egypt, 31,000 in Bahrain, 1,400 in Yemen and around 26,000 are in Libya

Because of the large number of Filipinos working out of the country, remittances from them became the major pillar of the Philippine economy, contributing to more than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product. In 2010 total OFW remittance has reached US$18.8 billion. Remittances are money sent home to support the families they left behind in the Philippines. Here is the breakdown of Middle East OFW remittances based on Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data for the year 2010 (in thousand dollars):

Middle East____________2,964,341
Saudi Arabia___________1,544,34
 Bahrain______________   157,232
  Kuwait________________ 106,486
 Oman__________________  5,760
 Jordan_________________   3,175
 Libya__________________   1,045
 Egypt___________________   381
 Iraq____________________    292
  Iran____________________    160
    Yemen___________________    61

The United States and countries of the European Union have already advised their citizens to get out of the danger zone due to unrelenting violence and mayhem in Libya. Some have already started sending chartered planes and ferries to fetch their nationals.  Meanwhile, our Department of Foreign Affairs are still on a waiting game not having declared an emergency evacuation of Filipino workers yet. Only a travel ban to Bahrain, Libya and Yemen was issued so far. was issued. But it would be inevitable as the situation turns more perilous. However, it could mean loss of job for each individual worker and loss of revenue for the country as well.

Manuel Villar, chairman of the Senate trade committee, has called on the trade, energy and labor departments to come up with a comprehensive study and concrete proposals on how an escalation of hostilities between protesters and government forces in these countries could impact on the national economy and the welfare of OFWs.

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that the Philippines must be prepared in case there will be a recurrence of the 1973 oil crisis, and should reduce dependence on fossil fuel.

“Better prepared than sorry when the unwanted scenarios happen”, said the MAP.

People Power Continues

Revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa

EDSA People Power Revolution

On February 25, 2011 Filipinos will be marking the 25th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.  This was the first of its kind. It revolutionized the way fundamental change in government could be executed. This was a peaceful revolution by the Filipino people that ended 2 decades of Marcos dictatorship.  Assassination of Benigno Aquino and the tampering of election results in 1986 served as catalyst for the revolution, prompting the thousands people to throng along Epifanio delos santos Avenue (EDSA), calling for the ouster of the seated President.

In the past revolutions had always been bloody and protracted. Revolutions then could only be won with guns. The French Revolution in the late 18th century toppled that ruled France for centuries. It lasted for 3 years. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 in Russia, with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin at the forefront, has removed Czar Nicholas II and the Russian autocracy from power. Major political and social upheavals have ensued as a result of years of armed,  organized rebellions and civil disobedience against the existing leader or monarch.

From 1989 to 1990’s we have witnessed the downfall of the Communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc that included East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Similar to the Philippine Power Revolution, voice of the people that was repressed for years has toppled the communist governments and likewise destroyed the Iron Curtain that existed in Europe since World War II.

Oil-rich countries of the Middle East and North Africa, ruled by monarchs and dictators, seemed untouchable and resistant to reform. However, 2011 is bringing us a wave of unrests that is sweeping the Arab world. Tunisia has started it all. A desperate act of a young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, who set himself ablaze after having denied a license for his produce stand, has inspired many Tunisians to flock into the streets and protest against corruption, poverty, rising  food prices, insufficient investment in the public sector, authoritarian political system and rapacious lifestyle by the president’s family. The victory of the Jasmine revolution, as it is now popularly called, has sent President ZIne el-Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

Lotus Revolution in Egypt

Inspired by the success of the Tunisian revolution Egyptians tried to follow suit. Who would have thought that Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak a key ally of the United States in the region since 1970’s, a key arbitrator in the Israel-Palestine peace process and a key power broker in the Middle East, would be forced to resign after 17 days of relentless demonstrations at Tahrir Square in its capital Cairo after having ruled the country for 30 years. Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and You Tube were instrumental to the success of the Lotus revolution in Egypt and Jasmine revolution in Tunisia. 

 As turmoil continues to beset the Middle East, a domino effect is palpable. Series of protests are sprouting in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait and even Djibouti.  Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Libyan’s Moammar Gadhafi, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh and other Arab leaders must be gripped by terror as events unfold daily. Their hold onto power is uncertain. Will people power once again prevail? Let’s wait and see.

Gen. Angelo Reyes, an honorable man

Sec. Angelo Reyes's 5 sons gave their father their final salute

As a doctor I always wrote on topics regarding health, but in here I will veer away from it.  The topic regarding Angelo Reyes got me hooked.  The news surrounding the death of retired Gen. Angelo Reyes continues to dominate the news.  He died on Feb. 8, 2011 of apparent suicide by shooting himself on the chest in front of his mother’s tombstone amidst allegations of corruption in the military. He was laid to rest today at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with full military honors.

I am writing from a perspective of a distant observer. I just felt the compulsion to share to you my take on this issue. As I continue to follow this story I found myself transforming from someone indifferent and even biased towards him to a sympathizer. All throughout the week, news and allied stories regarding him continued to dominate the headlines of different local TV channels. A victim a trial by publicity now he is getting a fair treatment that he was denied of in life, not only in the course of the corruption scandal, but during his stint in politics. He was always pictured in bad light. And as stories of him surfaced, as relayed by the people who knew him more, do Filipinos discovered a different facet of him that was worthy of our admiration. He was truly warrior to its core, a man of honor and integrity.

Who was Gen. Angelo Reyes?
Sec.Angelo Reyes as he takes his oath before a senate probe

He had humble beginnings. He was born in March 17, 1945 to a family of educators. Both of his parents were teachers, from whom probably he got his love for learning. He finished valedictorian in high school and the 7th in the top 10 in his class in the Philippine Military Academy. He earned 2 master’s degree: Masters in Business Administration from the Asian Institute of Management and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA.

He was an accomplished and decorated military officer, receiving multiple awards, such as Award of the Distinguished Service Star with 1st Bronze Anahaw Leaf after the Silver Anahaw Leaf (7th Award of this kind), Philippine Legion of Honor (Deg of Commander), Philippine Legion of Honor (Deg of Commander). He held key position in the military. He was Commanding General, Southern Command, AFP (Covering the whole of Mindanao ) and Commanding General of the Philippine Army. In 1998 he reached the zenith of his military career when he was chosen as the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) by President Joseph Estrada.  

He was instrumental in the success of EDSA2 revolution, when he withdrew his support from Pres. Estrada.  He said it was an extremely tough to decision to make. Estrada was a friend to him. But he needed to put the nation's interest above everything else. On the other he gained the favor of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who later appointed him to 4 cabinet positions: Secretary of Department of National Defense (2001), Secretary of Interior and Local Government (2004-2006), Secretary of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (2006-2007), Secretary of Department of Energy (2007-2010).

Necrological services for him were held last night at Camp Aguinaldo. Testimonials and fond memories of Angie Reyes as shared by his friends and colleagues, the people who worked with, who had the chance to know him and understand him as a person and as a professional,  brought me to tears. It was as if I felt the pain that Sec. Angelo Reyes endured in his last hours as he was accused of corruption. That pain must be excruciating, so devastating that something inside of him have died. It was an extraordinary ordeal. To be accused of something is difficult to handle, especially if you are innocent of the charges against you.

Some of the bits and pieces of what was said about him last night at the necrological services:

Lt.Col. Edgardo de Leon his former military aide said that Reyes was a workahaholic. He stayed at his office even at the wee hours of the night. He wanted everything to be perfect. He had never signed any documents without perusing it.
He recalled how the former chief would scrutinize the metal accessories of the men in uniform who paid him a courtesy call. Reyes had always emphasized that a soldier reporting to the highest ranking military officer should be in his snappiest appearance since it instills the discipline on how the men in uniform also pay their respects to their own immediate superiors.
He shared how Reyes, then the defense secretary, dealt with 2 undersecretaries who used to be his superiors. He never failed to address them as "sir".When the 2 would have shortcomings, Reyes would call their attention, but, De Leon stressed: "There was no humiliation."
He added that Reyes "never maligned anyone in public, not even his subordinates. He may have scolded them in his office for their lapses, but it has been his practice to praise them in public."
According to him Sec. Reyes gave up his position as Secretary of National Defense after the Oakwood Mutiny in order to save the AFP. But his time he had no positions to give up, only his life. That is why he made the ultimate sacrifice.

Ret. Gen. Raul Urgello said that he and Reyes were bunkmates when they were plebes  in the military academy. He recalled that as he was reading comics during their free hours, Reyes was reading books by British philosopher Bertrand Russel. He was the class’ philosopher and debater.

Teresita Ang See, a prominent Filipino-Chinese anti-crime crusader  said that Angie Reyes became their  pillar in the anti-kidnapping campaign.  "He was conscientious and focused. He restored our faith in the government's ability to combat the kidnapping menace," she said.

Cates Maceda, an NGO leader, recalled how Angie Reyes even asked her opinion one time, when a contractor was asking Sec.Reyes for approval of a project. She was astonished that Reyes would heed advice from someone like her and not use his position to power-trip.

Retired Navy Commodore Rex Robles, a close friend of Reyes and upper class cadet of him in the academy criticized MalacaƱang for failing to protect the military institution and the late former Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) chief Angelo Reyes from being dragged into the military fund scandal. Robles said the feeling of being orphaned hit Reyes hard. "That is what made Angie Reyes feel low. Reyes allegedly believed that he was the main target of a demolition job and the AFP was just dragged into it.

Reyes's 3rd son Marc in an emotional closing speech, talked about an honest Filipino public official. He narrated that "the honest Filipino public official fights a lonely fight. An honest Filipino public official is aware that the system is flawed but still tries and never loses faith, sometimes he succeeds but as long as the system does not nurture integrity and uphold moral righteousness he won’t". He must have been referring to his father.

As I learned he contributed so much, some of which are: while in the AFP he gave soldiers a monthly rice supply, increased the cash reward for valor. Several laws were passed during his stint in the Departments he was in, like the law on Renewable Energy, among others. He initiated projects such as the Green Highway, planting millions of trees along the highways of the country. As Secretary of the department of Energy he helped to provide P80 million worth of electrical connections in Calauan resettlement area.

Angie Reyes may have had a stern faƧade as he projected on TV, but he was a jolly fellow, who loved to crack jokes and laughed the loudest according to his friends. He appeared stoic and yet he was approachable. Even ordinary soldiers wept for him. He must have treated them well. Like some of us he loved singing. His favorites were “My Way” and “Wonderful World”. He was a perfectionist and disciplinarian, but was meek and affectionate to his wife and grandchildren. For a while felt that he was like an ordinary person, just like any of us, though a greater one. It is sad that we were given a glimpse of who he really was too late. Maybe, many of us could agree that he was a victim of the system, a system that he inherited from others, a system that is corrupt and evil, a system that makes a corrupt person out of an honest one. He must have tolerated it, accepting as the normal way things are done. He swam in an ocean full of sharks, ready to swallow him at every opportunity. But did he survive it? Did he take any bribes? He said no. He stayed honest and maintained his dignity. I would like to believe him. He served his country well. He gave his all to make a difference.

He was a good man after all. A man of honor and integrity, he died for what he believed in, for he could not live without honor, an honor that was trampled upon by his nemesis. We have lost a great man, a man who could have contributed more to this country, had we not judged him prematurely. In the end, history will be his final judge.