Tuesday, October 19, 2010


The Aquino administration, PAGASA in particular, deserves every Filipino’s gratitude for the disaster mitigation efforts against mega typhoon Juan.

The damage it wrought on public and private is running upwards of P200 million and the death count is put by latest reports at 12, considerably lower given our horrendous experience from typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

As our officials see it:

Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul (PAGASA OIC):
I think we were able to prove them wrong. The government’s preparedness and the people’s cooperation helped minimize the losses from Super-typhoon “Juan” (international codename: Megi), which made landfall in Isabela province on Monday. I think Typhoon Juan showed you Team Philippines. “The good thing about this is you saw a tremendous typhoon entering the country but the loss of lives—considering this is the strongest in the world—was basically minimal. The coordinated responses by the national and local governments and civil society to respond to the storm but also by individuals and families on the ground. They really made the difference.

President Benigno Aquino III:
I am very happy to report to the public that everyone has delivered. The thorough preparations of all concerned agencies are in marked contrast to the official helplessness of the past, and at present, we haven’t had to ask the public to contribute outside resources. To date, the needs of affected communities are being met. The damage and loss of life could have been much greater had we not prepared for the storm.
The damage and loss of life could have been much greater had we not prepared for the storm. The actions of the government and the people themselves shows what can be accomplished when we all cooperate to anticipate the needs of our people.

Following this success, there are suggestions that the government instead use the P600-M it was allocated for additional Doppler radars for other social services.

It will be a big mistake to do this.

We should not be lulled into the legendary Filipino ‘ningas cogon’ and ‘put-off-for tomorrow’ mindset.

Let’s build on this new-found ‘can do’ posture of PAGASA and fully develop it as a top caliber weather agency.
Equally misguided is a proposal for local government units to pool their calamity funds into interest-bearing mutual funds.

We can almost hear the flapping wings of money-hungry vultures at the ready to steal those public monies.

It is way too early to become complacent yet again.

Too much remains at stake.

Who Will Save Us From Underserving Telcos And The NTC???

What’s almost as worse as having your home submerged underwater while being huddled, feeling cold and hungry this typhoon season?

For Filipino netizens, it’s being left high and dry by the Philippines’ scandalously rich telcos whose underdelivery of broadband data services conk out at the first heavy downpour!!!

A petty middle class worry?
Certainly not if such isolation from the information superhighway leaves you crippled and blind about how your loved ones are coping.

Not when your productivity becomes grossly impaired along with access to vital information in real time.

What compounds your hardship is after suffering the ordeal, you end up getting demand letters and threats of disconnection from the very same rapacious telcos!!!

Oh yes, there’s actually a government entity that’s supposed to protect us hapless working folk.

It’s called the National Telecommunications Commission.

However, don’t be deceived.

The NTC is famously insensitive to public complaints not to mention being graft-ridden.

You need only to consult broadcast industry engineering insiders to know how deals for radio frequency assignments are awarded along with Certificates of Public Convenience of fly by night radio stations despite the lack of congressional franchises.

Equally insidious is the way NTC regulatory powers have been used in the past for political arm-twisting to favor allies of those in power and harass enemies.

When will the war versus corruption and agenda of good governance make landfall at the NTC and stem the abuses of the telcos???

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Super Typhoon Juan: Will PAGASA Now Mean Hope?

The next three to four days will be the proverbial acid test for our ‘re-energized’ PAGASA – the Philippine Astronomic Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in the aftermath of last year’s typhoon disasters that left more than 700 people dead, misery to millions and material damage from floods, and mudslides.

The accuracy of its tracking and severe warnings for super typhoon Juan with its center winds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour may very well signal PAGASA’s emergence from its Jurassic image if not the awakening of a sleeping giant as far weather forecasting capability goes.

For the first time, Filipinos are learning how dangerous storming warning number 4is as far as the amount of water may get dumped in the areas long it path and how it
augurs well for our water-starved dams.

There’s nothing we’d like more that to now associate PAGASA with hope rather than desperation and inefficiency.

One of the most important legacies the Aquino administration build during the next 28 months of its governance can surely be the weather services manned by properly compensated who will be the envy of our neighbor countries both for their expertise and the facilities are their disposal.

Filipinos deserve nothing less.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Immigration Cards As Vicky Belo Discount Cards???

We are supposed to be starting on a brand new “matuwid na daan.”

But nothing best exemplifies the tough work still ahead for the Aquino government than this hare-brained commercialization of our immigration departure and arrival cards which have been converted as 10% discount cards for the cosmetic services offered by Dra. Vicky Belo.

Particularly galling is the flimsy excuse that the printing and distribution of the 30 million cards was resorted to because the Commission on Immigration and Deportation is in dire need of funds.

What were you thinking, ‘honorable’ ex-congressman Marcelino Libanan???

The firm which was given a long term contract allowing it to solicit advertisements for cards even tried to ingratiate itself with the new administration by printing President Aquino’s mug in the first edition of 30 million cards!!!
Mr. Aquino had the good sense to reject the stunt.

But lo and behold, the Belo edition rolled out days later.

I will bet you that there will now be an attempt to sweep this patently distasteful and illegal misappropriation of an official government form under the rug!!!

Who exactly made under the table mullah from the deal?

Will the crooks ever be prosecuted?

What say you ex-commissioner Libanan???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Padre Damaso And The 'Condom Summit'

So the 'Philippine Condom Summit' has begun minus the acrimonious language from the embattled Catholic Church leaders who threatened to excommunicate the President and defy the legal program to give Filipinos freedom of choice in planning their family size.

The agreement forged at the condom summit's low profile start was for Church and State to keep communication lines open.

Their positions are not necessarily poles apart but with Philippine population ballooning, and Filipinos unwilling or unable to use the Church mandate for natural family planning (limiting sexual contact based on the female spouse's fertility cycle) the use of condoms by men and IUDs or birth control pils by women simply cannot be banned by the Church.

The Catholic Bishops Conference Of the Philippines that it cannot afford to be friar-like and intractable lest it become further alienated from the people.

The long sought Reproductive Health Bill is almost sure to be enacted in the 15th Congress and it will do good for the CBCP to actively participate in harmonizing the bill's five versions.

Many believe that even the passage of a divorce law will come sooner rather than later... and further into the future - legal abortion.

These weightier issues will surely be hard-fought and socially divisive.

For now, the Philuppine Catholic Church must regain the trust and confidence of its flock by actively helping fight poverty, and corruption.

This includes dipping into untaxed coffers to fund shelters for street children, broaden access to its exclusive schools and owning up to the immorality and other abuses of some of its own priests.

The stigma left by Padre Damaso must be erased for the Catholic Church to be embraced anew by its flock.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rizal Park Bloodbath Findings: Closure Or Whitewash?

So it is that the proverbial ax has been unsheathed in the wake of the Rizal Park hostage-taking bloodbath that left 8 Hong Kong tourists dead along with the hostage taker – dismissed police captain Rolando Mendoza.

From the earlier recommendation that 13 individuals be charged administratively or criminally, the list was pruned to seven.

Pres. Noynoy’s directives based on the review of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee:

• Refer to the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay for gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Director Leocadio Santiago Jr. for less grave neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Orlando Yebra for neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III for gross incompetence (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• The initiation of administrative proceedings against Manila Mayor Alfreo Lim for misconduct in office and simple neglect (under Sec. 60 of the Local Government Code). His case will be referred to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for appropriate proceedings;
• The initiation of administrative proceedings and investigation of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III by the Office of the President for neglect of duty and/or inefficiency in the performance of official duty (under Rule XIV, Sec. 22 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. 292 and other pertinent civil service laws, rules and regulations) and gross misconduct (under Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act);
• Refer the IIRC Report to the House of Representatives for appropriate action in the case of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez;
• Instruct the Department of Justice to expedite the resolution of the serious disobedience and conspiracy in illegal detention cases currently lodged against SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza and to instruct the Manila Police District to file appropriate complaints for illegal possession of firearms and serious illegal detention as an accomplice of his brother Rolando Mendoza;
In the case of media, we view media as an effective partner in providing checks and balances, and to this end, allies in our goal of good governance. We will continue to champion freedom of the press as guaranteed in our Constitution. However, in this case, freedom was not tempered with appropriate responsibility in the behavior of Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo of RMN. Rogas interfered in the negotiations and effectively aided and supported the hostage taker by giving him a platform to air his demands. Tulfo, by his own admission, violated police instructions. Their behavior was irresponsible bordering on the criminal.


Not surprisingly, the bumbling police chief of Manila who was sacked early on bears the brunt of the administrative blame for how the rescue attempt was botched along with his police boss, the Metro Manila regional police chief.

Among the civilian officials, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim is also on the carpet for allegedly failing to convene the local crisis management committee.

People remember how Lim left the scene to eat at a Chinese restaurant and directed his police chief Leopoldo Magtibay to join him.

So it was from the restaurant that Magtibay monitored and stupidly try to direct ground operations by remote control.

So far so good, right?

But wait.

How come presidential buddy Rico Puno (DILG Undersecretary overseeing the national police) and then national police chief Jesus Versoza were cleared of any accountability???

Versoza, who was given an automatic one rank promotion upon his hurried retirement, left for Cagayan De Oro for a meeting on the afternoon of August 23 even as the gunman was brandishing his automatic rifle at his hapless captives and demanding his job back.

We’re being told that there was nothing wrong since Versoza’s regional police chief was mining thing.

But was this not an international incident already given how our government was committed to safeguarding the lives of foreign nationals on our shores???

As for Puno and his avowed lack of any knowledge in handling hostage-taking situations, wasn’t he the effective superior of General Versoza and the President’s alter ego in dealing with the crisis?

The two gentlemen aside, a third personality who’s not being held to account is Supt. Remus Medina, chief of the NCRPO’s Police Intelligence and Operations Unit who acted as the Liaison officer with the President.

Medina’s role on the ground, according to the facts:

44. At 7:35 p.m., upon orders of Magtibay, the SWAT headed by Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III assaulted the bus. They tried to breach the bus by using sledgehammers. At this point, Mendoza fired at the assault team, forcing them to withdraw.
45. At the same time, the NCRPO Chief Santiago ordered that Medina take over the operations. Medina then ordered the SWAT to assault the bus from the front, while the SAF-CRG would assault the bus from the back.

So having taken over the directing the SWAT operations why was Medina not cited for administrative charges, too?

Unfortunately, it appears the decision on that blood-soaked snafu is shot full of holes bordering on a whitewash.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

P-Noy's 1st 100 Days And Two Comunications Secretaries

Was Communication Secretary Rocky Carandang unhappy with the 1st 100 Days Report of Pres. Noynoy Aquino?

Your Midfielder would think not considering that Carandang, whose journalistic credentials are rock solid, oversees the strategic and planning aspects of the renamed and reorganized Office of the Press Secretary.

In fact, it is safe to say that the manner the event was staged (at the La Consolacion College) and beamed on a national and international scale with P-Noy fielding questions from multiple locations, the broadcast was an unqualified success.

To the good Secretary goes a 5 stars rating for this.

This is why I was surprised about his curt reply to reporters’ questions about what he thought of the event:

You better ask (Communications Operations) Secretary (Herminio) Coloma.

I was taken aback by the statement.

Closely reviewing footage of the coverage, I now realized that Sec. Carandang was nowhere with camera range at the event as the presidential entourage entered to thundering applause and laudatory cheers.

Instead, it was Mr. Coloma, who entered together with the President, walking right behind Vice President Jejomar Binay.

As the audience sat down to hear that President, seated side by side on the very first row were Veep Binay and Sec. Coloma, both sporting wide smiles.

Nuff said, maybe I am just reading too much into the visuals.

Is The Noynoy-Shalani Romance Over?

Filipinos are hopeless romantics.

So it is that as we are marking the first 100 days of the Republic’s first Bachelor President is a largely celebratory mood, a rumor is swirling – that P-Noy’s romance with Valenzuela city councilor Shalani Soledad has fizzled out.

The Facebook entry above peddles the ‘story’ and AM radio reports are airing blind items saying “Soledad” has been seen in the company of an unnamed local official on several occasion while “she has not been seen with her long-time boyfriend since P-Noy gave his first State of the Nation Address.”

In tongue-in-cheek fashion, many have observed repeated presidential references about his being a bachelor and that he’s not had a ‘honeymoon’ and that it’s been difficult for him to go out on a date.

Tell us it ain’t so, Mr. President.

Filipinos are ‘kilig’ (titillated) about the prospect of a presidential wedding and surely see yo and Soledad as a ‘perfect pair’.
Go for it. :D

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

P-Noy on First 100 Days: We're On Track; The Days Of The Corrupt Are Numbered

Every Juan, Maria, and even Bitoy has his/her take on how our 15th President has performed in his first hundred days with critics, either well-intentioned or nurturing self-serving interests, giving Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III mixed reviews.

Those thumbing down the Bachelor President are impatient if not unhappy over issues like his perceived inability to crack the whip on the widely reported infighting among certain members of his official family or the pace at which basic services are being improved and institutional reforms are being pushed.

But is the 100-day ‘grading period’ a fair parameter upon which to judge P-Noy?

Certainly it isn’t and his missteps, real or not, will not define the Aquino Presidency.

He has 68 months to go – surely enough time for his promised poverty-mitigating and corruption-busting reforms to take root and even bear fruit.

If the latest survey is fairly accurate, P-Noy continues to enjoy the backing of seven in every ten Filipinos, his huge popularity buttressed by the Philippines’ economic vital signs.

Here’s the President’s report on his first 100 days (emphasis mine):

Message of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
On The First Hundred Days of his Administration
(October 7, 2010, La Consolacion College, Manila)

Isandaang araw po ang nakalipas, nagpanata ako sa taumbayan: Hindi ko tatalikuran ang tiwalang kaloob ninyo sa akin. Ang nakalipas na isandaang araw ang magsisilbing tanda ng ating paninindigan.
Malalim at malawak po ang mga problemang minana natin. Nag-ugat ito sa isang gobyernong parang tatlong matsing na nagbingi-bingihan, nagbulag-bulagan, at gumawa ng sariling katotohanan.
Mali po ito. Ngayon, mayroon na po kayong gobyernong handang makipag-usap at magsabi ng totoo; handang makinig sa makabuluhang usapan; handang iangat ang antas ng pampublikong diskurso ukol sa mga isyung makaaapekto sa ating lahat, at maging sa mga darating na henerasyon.
Ang natamasa po natin ngayong unang isandaang araw ng ating panunungkulan: Mayroon na po kayong gobyernong hindi kayo binabalewala o inaapi.
Bumalik na po ang kumpyansa sa ating bansa. Tumatatag ang ating ekonomiya, at dahil dito, lumalago ang kaban ng ating bayan. Ang lahat ng inani at aanihin pa natin mula sa pinatibay na ekonomiya ng ating bansa, ibinabalik naman natin sa taumbayan upang tuluyan na tayong makaahon sa kahirapan. Binibigyan natin ng katuturan ang paggastos. Walang pisong dapat nasasayang.

Halimbawa po ang mga itinalagang opisyal sa mga GOCC. Naroon po dapat sila para pangalagaan ang interes ng taumbayan. Noon pong nakaupo sila doon, nilabag nila ang Memorandum Order 20, na pinirmahan noon pang Hunyo 2001. Inatupag po nila ang sariling interes na nagdulot ng pinsala sa interes ng taumbayan: nakakuha sila ng kung anu-anong mga bonus at allowance.
Ipinatutupad naman po natin ang Executive Order No. 7 na nagsuspinde sa lahat ng pribilehiyong iyon. Idiniin lamang po natin ang dapat naipapatupad na noong 2001. Sa isang kumpanya lang po tulad ng MWSS, ang napigil nating mahulog sa bulsa ng bawat opisyal ay umabot na sa dalawa’t kalahating milyong piso kada taon. Siyam po ang miyembro ng Board nila, at sa MWSS lamang po iyan. At ilan po ang mga GOCC, GFI, at mga ahensyang sakop ng EO No. 7? Isandaan, dalawampu’t dalawa (122) mga ahensya’t kumpanya.

Nariyan din po ang nangyayari sa mga kontrata tulad ng sa NAIA 3. Isipin lang po natin, tatlong administrasyon na ang dinaanan nito. Pang-apat na kami. Tumagal na po nang husto ang kasong ito, may mga pinaslang pa dahil dito. Kundi dahil sa mga tapat na nagmamahal sa bansa tulad nina Justice Florentino Feliciano at Justice Meilou Sereno, baka wala na ring pinatunguhan ang kasong ito. Sila po ang mga tunay na bida sa kaso, ngunit death threats pa po ang ibinayad sa kanila. Tila ba nagkulang sa aruga ang nakaraang gobyerno. Ngayon pong alam nilang suportado sila ng mga kapwa nilang nasa tuwid na landas, naresolba na po nila ang kontrata. Kung natalo po ang gobyerno natin rito, 990 million dollars ang nalagas sa ating mga pondo. 43.5 bilyong piso ang perang nailigtas nila at natin. Higit pa rito, mapapakinabangan na natin ang airport sa lalong madaling panahon.

Kung naaalala po ninyo, pinahinto natin itong negotiated contracts ng DPWH; pinarebid natin ito. Ginawa lang po natin kung ano ang tama, napigil na po natin ang paglustay ng 934.1 million pesos, at lumalabas na kung susunod tayo sa tamang proseso ay nasa 600 million pesos lang ang dapat gastusin sa mga proyektong ito. Nabalik po ang pera sa kaban ng bayan na kung pinahintulutan natin ang maling sistema ay natapon na naman sanang muli. Hindi lang po sa mga kalsada: sa DOTC, pinigil natin ang pagwaldas ng isang bilyong piso. Sa Department of Agriculture, 30 million at least ang natipid sa spectrometer na gusto sanang doblehin ang presyo. Lahat po iyan naibalik natin sa kaban ng bayan.

Meron pa po. May proyektong inaprubahan ang dating administrasyon, huhukayin daw nila ang Laguna de Bay para palalimin ito. Ang sabi raw dadami ang isda. Mas makakaiwas daw sa baha. Mas madali daw makakaikot ang mga bangka. Tatanggalin daw ang mga pollutant doon po sa Laguna de Bay. Ang tanong ko, saan ililipat ang lupa? Ang tatanggalin sa Laguna de Bay, itatambak lang din pala sa ibang bahagi ng Laguna de Bay. At magkano naman po ang uutangin ng gobyerno para rito? 18.5 billion pesos lang naman po. At pareho rin ang kuwento: Tila hindi na naman dumaan sa tamang proseso ang pag-apruba sa kontrata. Hindi natin dadaanin sa madaliang hokus-pokus ang proyektong ito. Pag-aaralan natin ito nang husto at sisiguruhing hindi masasayang ang pondong gagamitin para rito.

Napansin n’yo po ba, pati ‘yung weather forecasting gumanda? Napansin n’yo po ba na hindi na paulit-ulit ang mga mensahe ng PAGASA? Ngayon po, nakatutok na at mas malaman ang mga weather bulletin natin. Ang dating intermittent rainshowers across the country, ngayon, sasabihin na uulan sa ganitong lugar nang ganitong oras, delikadong lumabas.

Tama po na hindi pa kumpleto ang equipment natin. Pero ngayong nagsimula na po tayong magtrabaho, kakaunti na lang ang kulang na kagamitan. Maling sistema at maling palakad ang nangligaw sa pagtataya ng panahon. Ang mga update dati na dumarating kada anim na oras, kada oras na ngayon kung dumating. Marami po tayong binago sa PAGASA, at kasama na po rito ang bulok na sistema.

Nakita naman po natin ang katakut-takot na problemang minana natin, pero hindi po tayo natinag. Naisasaayos natin sa loob lamang ng isandaang araw ang hindi nagawa ng dating administrasyon sa loob ng tatlong libo, apat na raan, apatnapu’t walong (3,448) araw.

Hininto na po natin ang pagkatagal-tagal na sistema kung saan itinuloy nang itinuloy ang mga proyekto na walang sumisiyasat kung angkop ba o kung may katuwiran ba ang mga ito. Isinulong po natin ang zero-based budgeting. Ang sabi po namin, isa-isahin natin iyan. Kung hindi mo mapatunayang may saysay ka pa, tigil na ang ginugugol ng bansa sa iyo.

Ang mga Agricultural Input Subsidies na lalo lamang nagpayaman sa mayayaman na habang binalewala ang mga mahihirap; ang mga programa tulad ng Kalayaang Barangay at Kilos-Asenso na hindi naman inilatag nang malinaw kung ano ang prosesong dapat daanan, at kung saan napunta ang pera—inilipat po natin ang pondo ng mga ito tungo sa mga programang napatunayan nang nakakatulong sa taumbayan. Humigit-kumulang na labing-isang bilyong piso pa po ito na magagamit at mas mapapakinabangan natin lahat.
Sa edukasyon, kalusugan, at pag-ahon sa kahirapan po natin itinutok ang pondong natipid natin. Mula 175 billion pesos, umangat ang budget ng DepEd sa 207.3 billion pesos. Gugugulin po ito upang makabuo ng 13,147 bagong classroom, at ng sampung libong bagong teaching positions. Sa DoH, umangat mula 29.3 billion pesos ang budget papuntang 33.3 billion pesos, upang mapatatag ang National Health Insurance Program. Sa DSWD, lagpas doble na po ang budget, galing 15.4 billion pesos papuntang 34.3 billion pesos.

Ang punto po natin dito: Walang maiiwan. Hindi po tayo papayag na yayaman ang iilan habang nalulunod sa kahirapan ang karamihan.

Kaya nga po natin pinatatatag ang Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Salbabida po ito para sa mga nalulunod nating kababayan, upang makapunta na sila sa pampang ng pagkakataon at pag-unlad. Lampas doble po ang bilang ng mga pamilyang matutulungan ng Conditional Cash Transfers, mula isang milyong pamilya sa ngayon, tungo sa kabuuang 2.3 million na pamilya sa 2011.
Patuloy po ang ating tema ng pagbibigay ng lakas sa taumbayan. Dahil na rin po sa panunumbalik ng tiwala sa gobyerno, nabiyayaan ang KALAHI-CIDSS program ng dagdag na 59.1 million dollars—halos tatlong bilyong piso—mula sa World Bank. Sa programa pong ito, dadami pa ang komunidad na magkakaroon ng kuryente, kalsada, at malinis na tubig—mga proyektong ang taumbayan mismo ang nagpaplano at nagpapalakas.

Paulit-ulit po nating ididiin: trabaho ang pangunahing agenda ng ating administrasyon. At marami pong magandang balita ukol dito.
Lampas dalawang bilyong dolyar ang papasok na pera sa ating bansa mula sa mga foreign investors. Direkta po itong magbibigay ng 43,600 na trabaho sa mga Pilipino.

Simula pa lamang po iyan: Kung hindi natin sila papadaanin sa butas ng karayom, makukumbinsi pa po silang magnegosyo rito, at madadagdagan pa ang mga trabahong nalikha.

At manganganak pa po ng manganganak ang mga trabahong ito. Halimbawa, sa call center, kailangang panggabi ang trabaho. Kailangang magbukas ng kapihan, ng fastfood, ng mga convenience store. Hindi bababa sa dalawandaang libong bagong trabaho ang malilikha pa—kahit hindi ka marunong mag-computer, may pagkakataon ka sa dagdag na mga trabahong ito.

Trabaho din po ang idudulot ng mga Public-Private Partnerships na patuloy nating isinusulong. Nagtayo na po tayo ng PPP Center, kung saan ang mga gustong malikahok sa pagbabago ay mapapasailalim sa tapat, malinaw, at mabilis na proseso.

Mula sa pagpapahaba ng mga LRT Lines, hanggang sa pagpapatayo ng bagong paliparan na tutulong sa turismo, hanggang sa mga eskuwelahan na itatayo sa buong sambayanan, magsisimula na po ang bidding para sa mga ito sa loob ng mga susunod na buwan.

Kinikilala na ng pandaigdigang merkado ang pagtatag ng piso. All-time high po ang ating Gross International Reserves na umabot na sa 52.3 billion dollars noong ika-dalawampu ng Setyembre. Ang dati rati’y parang imposibleng maabot na Philippine Stock Exchange Index na 4,000, nalampasan natin. Kahapon lamang po, all-time high na naman ito na umabot sa 4,196.73 points. Ipinapakita nito ang kompyansa sa ating ekonomiya, sa ating mga mamamayan at sa ating pamahalaan. Kabilang na po ang ating PSE sa mga best-performing stock market sa buong Asya. At habang lumalakas ang piso at lumalago ang ekonomiya, steady lang naman po ang mga presyo ng ating mga bilihin.

Handang-handa na tayo po talaga sa pag-unlad.

Lahat po ito nagawa natin dahil nakasandal ang gobyerno sa inyong tiwala. At umaapaw na rin po ang tiwalang iyan sa buong daigdig.

Dalawang ulit na pong nag-apply ang Pilipinas para sa Millenium Challenge Corporation Grant. Sa unang tatlong buwan lang po ng administrasyon natin napaaprubahan ito. Ang sa kanila lamang po, aminado silang hindi natin maiwawasto agad ang lahat ng problema, pero naniniwala silang patungo na tayo roon. Sabi nila, gusto namin kayong matulungan para maabot ang inyong mga pangarap, heto ang 430 million dollars.

Pati po ang mga international organization tulad ng OECD, tinanggal na tayo sa listahan ng mga bansang kumukupkop ng mga tax evader. Maaari na tayong makakuha ng impormasyon na makakatulong sa paghuli sa mga tax evader na isinasagawa na po ng BIR.

Dahil na rin po sa panibagong tiwalang nangingibabaw sa pamahalaan, dumadami ang mga tumutulong sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng mga tip tungkol sa katiwalian. Sumasaksi sila sa maling pangyayari, para makatulong sa ating paghahabol ng demanda.

Halimbawa, sa bagong-tayo na Pera ng Bayan website, isa-isa nang lumilitaw ang mga taong makatutulong sa atin upang tugisin ang mga smuggler at tax evader.

Ibinabalik ng mga hakbang na ito ang kumpiyansa ng daigdig sa Pilipinas.

Nagkakaisa nang muli ang ating lipunan, at ang nananatili na lang na parang sirang-plaka na paulit-ulit ang reklamo ay ang mga gustong bumalik sa poder upang ituloy ang kanilang ligaya na nagmumula sa ating pagkaapi.

Sila na nga ang nagdulot sa atin ng mga problemang pinapasan natin ngayon, sila pa ang may ganang bumanat nang bumanat sa atin. Papansinin ba ninyo sila?
Magpapalinlang ba kayo muli?

Hindi po kami nagbibiro sa pagtahak sa tuwid na landas. Kayong mga mali ang palakad at pinipinsala ang mga kababayan natin, may taning kayong lahat.

Ito pong mga problemang pinangako nating solusyonan, tatlong buwan pa lang nakikita na ninyong nabubuo ang solusyon. At ang inyong tiwala po ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ating naabot sa loob lamang nitong tatlong buwan ng panunungkulan.

Mula pa noong kampanya, ibinato na po sa atin ang lahat ng puwedeng ibato sa loob at labas na yata ng Revised Penal Code. Pati po ang buhok natin ginawang isyu. Dahil siguro binata pa tayo, hindi na tayo binigyan ng honeymoon.

Gusto talaga tayong gibain ng mga taong nais mapanatili ang lumang sistema, kung saan para silang mga dambuhalang buwayang nagpapakasasa sa kaban ng bayan.

Binabatikos lang naman po tayo dahil may iilan na naghahanap ng paraan para magpatuloy ang siklo ng mali. Alam din naman po nila ang tama, hindi pa nila maatim gawin. Mayroon po talagang mga nag-aambisyon na makabalik sa poder, nag-aambisyon na panatilihin ang sistemang sila lang ang nakikinabang, mga kapit-tuko sa puwesto na nakikinabang sa lumang sistema—mga taong gusto lamang ituloy ang kanilang ligaya, habang binabalewala naman ang sakripisyo ng taumbayan.

At tayo naman po: tuloy na tuloy ang laban. Hindi po tayo titigil.

Kung mayroon po tayong pagkukulang, ito marahil ay ang hindi natin naging kaugalian
na ipamalita ang mga tagumpay na ating nakamit. Mas binibigyan natin ng halaga ang paghahanap ng mga paraang makatutulong sa ating mga kababayan. Kitang-kita naman po ng taumbayan ang resulta ng ating pagtatrabaho: talagang nakagagalak ng puso itong satisfaction rating na seventy one percent. Natural po, sa inyo ang tagumpay na ito—sa bawat Pilipinong nagtitiwala at nakikilahok sa ating agenda ng pagbabago.

Ang patuloy ko pong panata: Hindi tayo titigil. Habang dumarami tayo sa tuwid na landas, dumadali naman po ang tungkulin nating itama ang mali.

Hinding-hindi po tayo titigil sa tuwid na landas. Unti-unti na pong natutupad ang ating mga pangarap.

Maraming salamat po. Magandang umaga sa lahat.

A closing note – while we Filipinos, pundits all, are ‘grading’ the President, let’s also look at the mirror and assign a grade for we ourselves have contributed to better Philippine society.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Lord's Prayer

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11:1-4.

He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bounty-Driven Crime Solution

The headlines are saying that there is now a P1.2-M reward fund for information leading to the solution of last month’s grenade bombing just outside De Ls Salle University while the law fraternities and sororities were making merry to boost the morale of their friends.

The bounty pot was started by a P200-K offer from the UTOPIA law fraternity of Ateneo (which reportedly counts no less than Chief Justice Fenato Corona as its most prominent ‘brod’).

The additional P1,000,000 has now been pledged anonymously.

CJ Corona has rightly denounced the bombers as “criminals without souls” and DLSU says it will no longer host the bar exams.

There are calls for the fiesta-like and violence-prone to be banned while UST and UP Diliman are being considered to host the bar exams.

The NBI is working with the Manila Police District, following the cue of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to carelessly narrow its roster of suspects to members of warring brotherhoods.

Filipinos have only but admiration for law student Raissa Laurel who lost both her legs barbarous attack but is determined to pursue her studies, drawing power from her faith in the Lord.

Indeed the resolution of the incident will bring justice not only to Raissa by the 43 others wounded in the bombing.

However, what worries your Midfielder is that is has seemingly become de rigueur for police sleuthing work to be prodded on with bounties.

What happens to the unpublicized suffering of ordinary folk whose loved ones
brutalized or even murdered by the ‘haves’ with no sympathizers putting up bounties or to not have ‘connections in high places’???
The news media do help considerably as in the case of the sensational but still dragging Maguindanao massacre and recent gang rapes.

But on a massive scale the families of countless destitute victims feel, and know, that police drag their feet or even withhold evidence unless their hands are greased and pockets are lined with offers of material reward.

In my book this is called crime solution for sale if not outright ‘extortional justice’.

The Bishops Bite Their Tongue, For Now

There’s a truce in our local version of the global ‘condom wars’.

From the CBCP comes this story:

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said they are withdrawing from giving “unnecessary statements” until a formal dialogue is finally held.
“We respect the request of Malacañang for a ceasefire to calm everybody… and as we wait for a face-to-face dialogue with the bishops and the president,” said Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life.
He said the “ceasefire” will be a good opportunity for both parties and the public as well to take time and carefully study the matter.
Castro said they are already preparing for a “bigger” dialogue between the prelates and the Aquino administration.
Castro also stressed that their silence does not mean that they are already foregoing their strong position on the RH bill.
“It does not mean that the Church is compromising (its position). It simply means that it is good there’s this lull moment to pause, to assess things and to pray and hope for a genuine dialogue,” he said. (CBCPNews).

It’s good that the Catholic prelates are tempering what Filipinos feel is their ‘friar-like’ hubris in asserting ‘moral’ control over the free choice of Filipino couple to use either the ‘rhythm method’ of limiting the number of their progeny and the use of condoms by virile men and intra-uterine-devices (IUDs) by women of child-bearing age.

The bishops must know all-too-well that opinion surveys are lopsidedly against their ‘in-the-box’ doctrine.

The negative public sentiment has been stoked even further by the clumsy if not irresponsible use of the E-threat (excommunication) against a hugely popular president who understands that poverty, which he aims to cut by 50-percent by 2015 (as committed by RP in the UN Millennium Development Goals , is aggravated by our ballooning population (project to reach 120-M in two decades if not earlier).

The CBCP cannot credibly assert that its faithful are obey the edict “pigilin ang panggigigil’ (control the sex urge) nor does it have a responsive program to ease poverty given its rich coffers that swell from tax-free donations and business earnings.

Let the Condom Summit preparations move forward in earnest!

CBCP To Question Condom Plans' Constitutionality?

The battle for the hearts and minds of Catholic Filipino couples over the free choice of using state-provided artificial birth control tools like condoms is heating up as the week begins.
Now the Catholic Church says its civil disobedience push will include mobilizing it’s laity groups like the Couples for Christ and even Parish-based organizations while hinting at a formal legal challenge to the constitutionality of the government’s espousal of the U.S.-supported “responsible parenthood” program.

Here’s what’s now on the web site of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (emphasis mine):

Church leaders say ‘civil disobedience a possibility’
MANILA, Oct. 3, 2010—Catholic leaders said civil disobedience is an option that can be considered by the Church should President Benigno Aquino make good of his promise to hand out artificial birth control devices.
Church leaders, in separate interviews said bishops and priests have the moral authority to teach and lead the faithful based on Church teachings.
Aquino has earlier said during a small town meeting in the United States that he may consider contraceptive methods to curb population even though it runs counter to the natural methods being promoted by the Catholic Church.
Artificial contraception is a moral issue and Church leaders said civil disobedience is an important option that maybe considered to bring the Church’s message to the current leaders.
“The Catholic Church in the Philippines can do that if it decides to do that because for one thing, civil disobedience is a moral option, one of the moral options,” said CBCP Secretary General Msgr. Juanito Figura in an interview with CBCP News.
He explained civil allegiance is the respect given by the people to the state and the laws of the state “and according to Church principles, we should do that but according to the same Church principles, if a law or a state policy is against Christian teachings, persons, Christians, Catholics are not bound by conscience to obey that.”
He said this is the very foundation of civil disobedience.
“When a law or state policy or state program is not in consonance with what the faith teaches so from that perspective, if the local church in the Philippines or the hierarchy in the Philippines decide to call for disobedience because of this possibility of enacting the controversial Reproductive Health bill and the distribution of artificial contraceptives the bishops would have a moral reason to do that,” he further added.
Figura said they have not received any call or letter from the Office of the President for a dialogue on the controversial issue although it was published in the papers that an audience with the Catholic bishops is being prepared.
“We have not received any communication so far,” the secretary general said, adding that it may be a good idea for Aquino to seek a dialogue with the Catholic bishops.
The previous administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had a liaison officer who was in constant touch with the CBCP secretariat.
But Figura said he is not sure if the present government “would appoint somebody to the position.”
CBCP Media Director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said only once it happened in the history of CBCP that the Church called for civil disobedience.
“Since the CBCP was established in 1945 until today there was just a single event that called for civil disobedience and this was after the February 7, 1986 snap elections,” Quitorio said.
But the actual civil disobedience did not take place because it was “overtaken” by events.
He emphasized that the CBCP has not called for any mass action so far.
Quitorio said he doesn’t know of any forthcoming meeting with President Aquino and the archbishops and bishops to discuss the controversial issue.
On his part, San Fernando de Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, expressed alarm on the statement President Aquino’s made while in the United States.
“Alam kaya ni Presidente Noy na marami sa artificial methods na iyan ay abortifacients na ang ibig sabihin ay they were designed not only to prevent conception but terminate a conceived child because once you already have a fertilized embryo you already have a human being,” the prelate explained.
The prelate said the 1987 Constitution guarantees the protection of the unborn as it is the duty of the state from the moment of conception.
“It is therefore unconstitutional to promote methods that terminate conception,”
he explained. He said the country’s leadership seems bent on following the templates from highly developed countries which already backfired and failed.
“These countries have already taken a new approach to population management because they have already experienced a demographic winter,” the 51 year-old prelate added.
He said these developed countries should not force developing countries to suffer from their earlier experience.
“These countries are threatened by issues concerning geopolitics or an issue of power that their population may be overtaken by developing countries,” he further explained.
The prelate added the developed countries may become totally dependent on migrant workers.
Lingayen-Dagupan Auxiliary Bishop Renato Mayugba said the bishops may not anchor their statements on faith but on the country’s existing Constitution which calls for the protection of the unborn child from the time of conception.
“If the government will pursue programs that run counter to the provisions of the Constitution, it would simply mean violating the country’s constitution,” the 54-year old prelate said.
Meanwhile, Lipa Archbishop Ramon V. Arguelles called on the faithful of his ecclesial province to prepare to mobilize the laity for mass actions against the movement of the Aquino government to push for the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health bill and all population control measures.
In a text message to his flock from Italy, the archbishop said they are in solidarity with the lay faithful of Cebu in its opposition to the planned introduction of artificial methods to the Filipino families. (Melo M. Acuna)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


A leading group of alumni of the Ateneo College of Law is offering a P200,000 rewards for "anyone who can provide information that will lead to the early resolution, and apprehension of the suspect/s in, the bombing incident during last Sunday's Bar Exams."

Here is UTOPIA's press statement in full:

"The Fraternal Order of Utopia, a fraternity based in the Ateneo Law School, is offering a reward of P200,000 to anyone who can provide information that will lead to the early resolution, and apprehension of the suspect/s in, the bombing incident during last Sunday's Bar Exams.
Tony Bernardo, former Customs commissioner. Utopia condemns in the strongest terms the irresponsible act of the perpetrators which caused injuries and sufferings to many young people, whose aspirations to become lawyers have been adversely affected by this dastardly and cowardly act. Utopia hopes that those responsible for this unforgivable crime will soon be apprehended and brought to justice. Utopia commits its all out support to the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Supreme Court."

Refer to Tony Bernardo, (09178446887)
Chairman, Fraternal Order of Utopia Alumni Asoc.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Statement of the Clergy of Manila on Action of Mr. Celdran at Manila Cathedral

We, the clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila, express our disapproval and condemnation of the protest action done by a Mr. Carlos Celdran at the Manila Cathedral in the midst of the Ecumenical Prayer Service and the Eucharistic Celebration to mark the second anniversary of the May They Be One Program of the Episcopal Commission on Bible Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on September 30, 2010.

Mr. Celdran willfully and with premeditation executed his protest inside the Manila Cathedral the church of the Archbishop and the seat of the Archdiocese of the Manila. The church is the Mother Church in the Archdiocese and is the central place for worship of the entire flock of the Archdiocese. This is the church where the past Archbishops of Manila are buried (in its crypt). This is where the Cathedra (seat) and the seal (coat of arms) of the Archbishop of Manila are displayed to symbolize his office, an appointment that comes directly from the Holy See.

We condemn in particular the blatant disrespect he displayed towards His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams and the bishops and priests and representatives of other religions present during the worship service. He disrupted the religious proceedings which included reading from the Sacred Scriptures, and preened in front of the altar with his offensive poster. Unstopped (because no one was prepared for such brazen action) he repeatedly pointed his poster towards the religious leaders and at the sacred altar, and at one time even shouted. When he was being peaceably led out of the Cathedral he shouted invectives.

These actions cannot by any means be considered within the purview of freedom of expression. Instead they were malicious acts directed towards a Faith, a Religion that was represented by its leaders and the faithful gathered. It was desecrating a consecrated place, as every Catholic church or chapel is consecrated by sacred rites. His right to protest in this manner ended after he entered the doors of the Manila Cathedral. May we point out too that he likewise disrespected our National Hero, Jose Rizal, by assuming the hero’s looks to perpetuate his shameful deed.

We demand that the Intramuros Administration make him account for his actions since Mr. Celdran is a tour guide who operates within its confines. We pray for him that he may receive enlightenment and have remorse for what he has done.


Coming Soon: The Condom Summit?

The Catholic Church, long held as THE DOMINANT (if not domineering)influence in the life of Philippine society which is variously estimated as 90-98% Christian, has tempered somewhat its widely reported threat to excommunicate Pres. Aquino, and by implication, other Catholics who will subscribe to the governments "freedom of choice" program making condoms and other contraceptive options to Filipinos.

No less than CBCP president, Bishop Nereo Odchimar, 'clarified' at week's end that his excommunication remark was "misreported" by the usual whipping boy - the news media.

Responding to the 'clarification, Malacanang is restating its readiness "to dialogue with the Church."

We do not know yet what form the 'dialogue' will take but we think there won't necessarily be 'Condom Summit' but a more politically correct packaging.

One party who is not changing his tune is tourist guide and Twitter activist Carlos Celdran whose Padre Damaso-dressed-as-Jose-Rizal stunt gave face to many Filipinos sentiment over the Church's seeming violation of the constitutionally-enshrined separation of State and Church.

Of course not everyone praised Celran with not a few saying he not just disrupted the religious service at Manila Cathedral.

"Celdran insulted us and disrespected our faith," quite several dear friends told your Midfielder.

They may actually be correct in trashing the disrespectful stunt Carlos used to deliver his message... but I think the message itself warning against what I'd call the dangerous return of the 'friar mentality'cannot be blithely ignored.

So Celran was allowed to post a P6,000 bail for his temporary freedom in relation to the charge filed by a security guard of the Manila Cathedral.

Given the upcoming Condom Summit (pardon the pun), I foresee the case's withdrawal to finally clear the air.

To its credit, the Aquino administration is marking its 100th day in office by preventing a full blown public quarrel with the Catholic Church.

A footnote: CBCP knows obly too well that quite other influential Christian denominations have seen their flock swell in recent years if not decades, not least among them the Iglesia Ni Kristo and the so-called Born Again congregations of El Shaddai and Jesus Is Lord whose "Servant Leaders" continue to nurture presidential dreams.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Free Carlos Celdran

At Midfield joins the call for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to drop the charges filed against Celdran over his protest action.

Carlos Celdran represents the sentiments of many Filipino Catholics who reject the Church's threat of mounting a civil disobedience campaign against the government police of giving free couples the free choice of family planning options, inclu access to use of contraceptives.

I am against abortion and the use of contraceptives by no means encourage the murder of fetuses.

Free Carlos Celdran now.

No to the return of Padre Damaso!!!

Excommunication,Modern-day Padre Damasos, and Contraception

The quite reckless statement from a prelate warning that the President was ricking excommunication by his support for couples to free choose contraceptive options is whipping up quite a storm, it seems.

Online activist and exponent of walking tours in Manila’s historic sites, Carlos Celdran, gave vent to the dismay of many Catholics about how certain prelates are posturing like much reviled Spanish colonial era Friars.

The great Jose Rizal had immortalized the ‘Frayle’ in his revolutionary masterpiece Noli Me Tangere where Padre Damaso typified the oppressive and manipulative prelates that dominated Philippine life for over 300 years.

There is now what appears to be a retraction of the reported excommunication threat against P-Noy but people are angry over how Celran has been jailed for expressing his sentiments as a private citizen.

Articles 132 and 133 of the Revised Penal Code stipulates that the crime of “Interruption of religious worship.” Will be meted “the the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who shall prevent or disturb the ceremonies or manifestations of any religion. If the crime shall have been committed with violence or threats, the penalty shall be prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.
Art. 133. Offending the religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.”

While he can post bail, Celdran is refusing to and is asserting tat his protest was an exercise of free speech.

l have to see how this plays out.

But a thoroughly valid, albeit indignanr question to ask is this: while the
Fathers are posturing high and mighty, moralizing and threatening us
with excommunication what about the Fathers who fathered now fatherless

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Civil Disobedience VS Free Choice?

Let’s be blunt.

With our population growing ballooning by one million souls each year and 9 in 10 statistically listed as Christians, just exactly how long will the Catholic Church continue to figuratively, and literally, have its cake and eat it too???

The Church’s threat to wage a campaign of civil disobedience over the State policy of giving the citizenry free choice in the matter of planning their family, including getting government-funded condoms, smacks of outright meddling in governance and the delivery of health services.

This is not to argue against the teaching that children are God-given blessings nor is this a brief for practices that are lead to the abortion of fetuses.

But how is it the our religious shepherds can meddle in secular concerns while ignoring the harsh reality that that they are failing in the primary task of educating, nay, guiding and making their flock follow the Catholic edict that parents’ temper their reproductive urges, whether or not induced by love, with their practical capacity to raise their innocent progeny.

Sure the Church runs token shelters and orphanages, but the truth is the countless children neglected or abandoned by their Christian parents become street urchins who beg for a living while also being victimized by criminals, pedophiles included!!!

Oh sure, there are schools run by religious orders but we are only too familiar with how the high matriculation fees further elitism in the educational system if not Philippine society as a whole.

I wish we had ready statistics about how parochial schools impact on the educational system.

But in the main, what leaves this writer disconsolate, if not angry, is the fact that our Catholic shepherds are loudly sounding like promoters of a theocracy while being unable to minister to the herd in meaningful and life changing meanings ways.

Civil disobedience against lawful government laws and programs?

This I’ll have to see.

What Are We Jueteng For?

This is really about talking the talk and walking the walk on the issue, nay, the promise that the Republic’s 100-day-old 15th President ran on and overwhelmingly won - the eradication of corruption.

It was THE political race that ended the 9-year-long reign of be-moled and petite Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and told Filipinos that “you can now dream again for a better life, living behind crooked ways and walking the straight and narrow path.

This is very well the central point in what’s being called Juetengate 2010 with the dramatis personae involving a crusading retired bishop, downtrodden ‘whistle blowers’ with death threats perpetually hounding them, big and small-time politicians tagged as ‘illegal’ gambling lords, and yes, the Presidential practical shooting buddy who doubles up as undersecretary in charge of the national police.

Government insists that LGU- supervised Small Town Lottery and legally-franchised Jai-Alai are the antidote to jueteng but the truth is the two projects have simply become cover activities for jueteng and a companion variant, 'Lot-Teng’, to milk poor bettors of their hard-earned money.

So illegal gambling, rigged and pervasive, steals from the poor and lines the pockets of corrupt policemen and politicians with bribes amounting to billions of pesos enough to fund political campaigns and even new ‘kapilyas’ from Catholic dioceses!

It’s time to end the hypocrisy about jueteng.

It cannot and will not end as an illegal activity for so long as the government rakes in revenue from legal high-roller gambling activities under the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation whose core operations are envisioned to be the magnet for tourism.

Let us legalize Jueteng now and remove the seeming mystic that draws Filipinos to it – the fact that it’s illegal and is done on the fly while being the source of livelihood from bet-taking barangay runners.

The revenue potential from legal jueteng has been conservatively estimated at P 30 to 35B, a full 10 % of the burgeoning national budget deficit.

Let’s do this.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Barbarians

Wikipedia defines a barbarian as “is an uncivilized person with the noun “often used pejoratively, either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage. In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.

While fraternity men use the term to heap scorn on non-joiners unwilling to be subjected to violent and inhuman initiation rites, your Midfielder strong feels that the real barbarians are the hoodlums behind that grenade throwing incident on the last day of the bar exams at De La Salle University.

The toll from the carnage: 44 injured from grenade and shattered bottle shrapnel that so severely wounded to female law students whose legs have had to be amputated from the knee down.

If the attack was not the work of barbarians, nay, criminals, then something is terribly wrong with Philippine society.

Just over the weekend, four fratmen, suspects in the fatal hazing of a neophyte, had the criminal charges against them dismissed for supposed lack of probable cause.

Fair or not, the public's knee-jerk reaction is the suspects in the Makati hazing were cleared because they are members of APO (Alpha Pi Omega) that ‘coincidentally’ is the brotherhood to which Atty. Jejomar Binay, the Vice President, belongs.

Verily, owing to the violent initiations they endure, fraternity members literally become blood brothers for life.

They support each other professionally and those who become business and political big wigs can always count on their brods’ support.

But what price does society have to pay as these hooligans walk the path toward ‘greatness’???

Exhibit A – the barbarous incident at DLSU.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Inverted Flag Snafu

Filipino netizens, hecklers,pundits and honestly patriotic individuals are raising their hackles over how the Philippine tricolor was displayed in the legally mandated wartime red-field-over-blue manner during the 2nd US-ASEAN Leaders Meeting hosted in New York by Pres. Barack Obama.

People are angry over the breach of diplomatic protocol with the blame being leveled on the team of President Noynoy Aquino for failed to spot the error and correct it.

Detractors have, not surprisingly, been quick to pounce on such missteps given the immense popularity of Aquino who trumped his electoral rivals by a wide margin on the back of a promise to rid government of the corruption and widely known opaque governance style of highly unpopular former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The US Embassy in Manila is red-faced for its government:

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson: "This was an honest mistake. Tthe U.S. treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines. We will find out how the "unfortunate" incident happened."

DFA spokesman Ed Malaya: "The Philippine government understands that it was an honest error that "should not detract from the true significance of the summit, which showed the unprecedented cooperation between the ASEAN and the U.S."

The snafu aside, methinks the 'inverted flag incident' cannot overshadow immense goodwill for the Philippines generated by Mr. Aquino's week-long official visit which saw Aquino champion the call for "Global People Power" to help attain Millennium Development Goals to fight poverty, push better health and education in the developing world, and sustain much needed development aid.

Both their schedules were tight but Presidents Aquino and Obama still had a one-on-one meeting lasting for 7 minutes on the first visit to America of the new Filipino leader.

Aquino supporters note this is in sharp contrast to how Arroyo vainly tried to have a face-to-face with Obama in the waning days of her rule and had to settle for a session at the State Department with Hillary Clinton.

Arroyo was finally received at the White House just before she stepped down, but with the occasion only an official trip and not a State Visit with all the attendant pomp and pageantry.

Aquino will be coming home with hopes of new job-creating American business investments plus the new release of 434-M dollars aid package from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation which froze its release to the Arroyo regime for failing to meet committed targets.

So there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Need: Political Will To Match Presidential Rhetoric With Action

The President is finally getting his stride as his young administration marks the 100th day since it took oe reins of power from the widely unpopular and nearly opaque rule of the women who has slid down as opposition member of Congress representing her Central Luzon province.

Bouncing back from the botched Rizal Park hostage crisis mishandled by his lieutenants as “a local crisis incident, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco III this week asserted presidency authority to stop the demolition of squatter shanties in a
Quezon City district that saw hard hat-wearing ‘hoodlums’ (they acted like ones) from the National Housing Authority engage in a stone-throwing battle with irate “informal settlers”.

The anarchy, which saw part of EDSA blocked for hours, broke out as NHA attempted to meet its contractual commitment to hand over the property to the realty development firm Ayala Land.

Quezon City police were nowhere to found to prevent the chaos!!!
Ayala Land, whose top honcho is lead supporter of the President, intends to develop the 43-hectare triangle shaped proper in Barangay Pag-asa (hope) into a multi-use central business district that promises to bring in much needed money that will go to our revenue hungry national coffers.

While there is no question about the legality of the project, what angers the stubborn squatters is the undeniable fact that Quezon City politicos, including newbie mayor Herbert ‘Bistek’ Bautista, supposedly promised that they “won’t be evicted” even as they were illegally occupying public land.

The squatters are wrongly claiming property right to the North Triangle property with “professional squatting syndicates reportedly involved in installing urban poor settler who’ve even put up businesses in the area.

In halting the demolition activity, President Aquino has now asked NHA (which is under the Office of the President) to revisit and improve its ongoing relocation plan which already includes a new homesite in Montalban, Rizal where the core houses are nearing completion along with medical, educational, and livelihood laid out.

This week, Mr. Aquino also debuted on the world stage via the United Nations General Assembly and the US-Asean Leaders’ Meeting.

His call for “global people power” to help attain Millennium Development Goals was rich with statesmanlike rhetoric al promises that his administration will, through anti-corruption reforms and banner Private-Public Partnership that will mobilize developmental investments that will create new, properly-paying jobs and solidly bring down poverty.

While both well meaning observers and the political opposition loyal to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are giving Aquino bad reviews, the dominant mood among Filipinos remains one of hope that their Bachelor President will deliver on his “Matuwid na Daan” pledge.

We certainly hope that President realizes his success, our success as a people, will hinge in the next five years to choosing the right people, chopping off the heads of the incompetent and unresponsive bureaucrats, stopping his aides perceived or actual turf wars and character differences, and fine-tuning his good governance messaging.

Filipinos await Mr. Aquino’s exercise of political will to match his words with resolute action.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exploiting Filipino Urban Poor

The ‘politically correct’ term now being used now is ‘informal settlers’ instead of squatters.

But the double talk did little to change the fact that the Quezon City North Triangle area turned into into a war zone with the squatters resisting their transfer to a resettlement site 23 kilometers away in Montalban, Rizal engaged in a stone-throwing spree to keep demotion men of the National Housing Authority from tearing down their shanties.

As anarchy prevailed, the stretched of EDSA bordering TriNoMa was forcibly closed.

But what’s galling is now the government of Quezon City which tolerated the entry of squatters into the public property and actively courted the residents’ vote in the last elections is now washing its hands of any moral responsibility to convince the squatters to peaceably vacate the area.

The picture that emerges, rightly or wrongly, is that commercial interests matter more than helping the urban poor.

There is no question that the squatters do not have any legal claim on the property.

But our politicians are, at the very least, being mentally dishonest in dealing with the squatters whom they exploited politically but are now blind to their troubles and simply tags them as "professional squatters"!

That maybe true in certain instances.

But the truth is the government also makes money from the business that spout within the squatter areas.

Shame on you!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Will The NFA Close Shop?

Most of us have been transfixed on juetengate 2010 and the striptease routine in the release of the report into the botched rescue of a busload of foreign tourists.

Now it’s time to read this:

For years, the National Food Authority has been the guaranteed buyer of palay from Filipino farmers and buffer importer of rice to the tune of 20-plus percent of the total rice supply in the market and making prices stable.

But while we were not watching, the National Food Agency has seen its requested P15 billion allocation in the 2011 budget slashed by the Cabinet to P8 billion.
Simple belt tightening to curb the budget deficit?

Not really it seems.

The budget has actually been strangely
transferred it to the DSWD without prior consultation with NFA officials.

Answer me the question:

How is it that the DSWD itself will now become involved in rice importation minus any track record of conducting such activities?

NFA Administrator Lito Banayo is warning of a looming shortage of NFA rice for the poor should the Aquino administration fail to release the remaining P6 billion budget of the agency.

"We’re close to putting up the shutters on our retail operations. If the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) will not release our remaining budget this year, we will have to close Batanes, Aurora, Masbate, Catanduanes, the entire CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Bohol, Cebu, all of Regions 8 and 9. Even Coron and Busuanga will be closed for selling rice.

Banayo notes that of the NFA’s total allocation of P8 billion for 2010, only P2 billion has been released.

This was surprisingly decided on at Cabinet level as domestic production of palay is projected to be flat as previous events last year and this year will just even out with bad weather conditions having brought down second quarter farm production by 2.18 percent and by 2.88 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Banayo admits that the NFA has been losing money from selling cheap rice at prices below the purchase price. Records show that NFA losses had ballooned to P177 billion of which P54 billion consisted of suppliers’ credit.

"We cannot do anything about that. It is our mandate to ensure there is food for the poor, to provide a way for poor people to have something decent on their table," Banayo says.

Banayo is worried about the prospects of the proposed 2011 budget based on a restructured NFA.

The DBM has slashed the proposed P58 billion budget requested by the agriculture department to P37.7 billion

But the NFA chief rightly points out:

"We cannot work on a zero budget as what is being proposed by the budget department
based on their version of a restructuring program for the NFA. I worry about provinces like Occidental Mindoro where 30 percent of palay produced is being bought by the NFA.”

If this comes to pass, what are the feared consequences?

A sampling from recent news reports:

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano: The proposed budget of the DA for 2011 "will further worsen the rice crisis and food insecurity in the country."
"Unscrupulous rice traders operating the domestic rice cartel will have a heyday with NFA’s zero budget and intervention in the market through unjust rice pricing and manipulation.

Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile (NPC):
“Just imagine the nationwide confusion and economic exploitation if this is implemented by a department that has no experience in farmer subsidy operation, warehousing and marketing.
I cannot allow this abrupt change of policy that can cause an adverse effects on farmers as well as rice producers and consumers. Without the budget, NFA would cease to be socially and economically relevant and worse the poor farmers would be placed under the mercy of profiteers and other exploiters.
The honorable secretaries of Budget, Finance and Welfare should explain their action to our people. They may have the noble intention of suddenly changing the policy but it’s also possible that they overlooked the political, social, economic and national security implication of their collective action. Their timing alone is bad enough because obviously they did not consider the plight of our farmers who have just been through a series of typhoon and El Niño calamities that devastated thousands of hectares of their farmlands in many regions of the country.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo:
The possible removal of government support in the NFA importation of rice will move inflation rate higher by 0.37 percentage point for 2010 and 1.24 percent for 2011. BSP assumes a fare hike of P5 for jeepneys and P10 for taxis. The price of rice will likely increase if subsidy such as tax exemptions will be reduced or removed. NFA rice is priced at P25 per kilo.

This could very well pull retail prices of rice to as high as 34 to near 40 pesos per kilo!

Verily what could happen now is local farmers will see the further depression of palay farm gate prices with the private rice cartel raking in profits and government abandoning its long running commitment to keep politically-sensitive the supply and price of rice within reach.

Further, instead of shutting down the NFA shouldn't it be be reformed to make it more efficient, cleanse operations prone to graft, and make it more responsive to the "matuwid na daan" agenda?

Or will the Aquino administration rather play with fire?

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Open Letter To DILG Usec Rico Puno

Dear Mr. Puno,

That was a performance you gave at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Juetengate 2010.

But Filipinos are wondering why despite your avowed efforts to fight jueteng, our Senators tagged your answers as evasive while you were seemingly just experiencing ‘senior moments’, memory lapses about the names of the enjoys of jueteng kingpins who wanted to schedule meeting with you, being the President’s point man for the Philippine National Police.

You certainly must must have felt being ganged up upon by our lawmakers.

But without meaning to cast doubt on your integrity, given your seeming unshakable brother-like closeness to the President, the problem your are facing now is really akin to what called the “Caesar’s Wife Test.”

As legend goes, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, when asked why he divorced his second wife Pompeia despite the fact that there was no proof that she was having an affair, reportedly answered: “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.”

While our President, your President, is away on a mission to tell the world that “the Philippines is open for business”, it would be a major, major exercise for you to reflect upon whether you would pass Caesar’s test on two counts: Juetengate 2010 and the botched handling of the RizaL Park hostage crisis.

Humbly posited.

Finally, The IIRC Report Is Made Public, Sort Of

So it is that the report of the inquiry team into the August 23 Rizal Park hostage taking is finally out.
But much like a striptease act, Filipinos are only being given a peep into the recommendation that certain police official, political figures and media practitioners and organizations will face either criminal, administrative, or industry-specific sanctions for their lapses that supposedly contributed to the fiasco's blood-soaked end.
But we are told not to hyperventilate just yet because the inquiry findings led no less by the justice secretary will yet be reviewed by legal minds apparently enjoying a higher degree of presidential trust.
We are also now learning the deeper meaning of the word prerogative, executive prerogative.
It applies in this case in the same way it applied to the decision, for “courtesies’ sake” that Hong Kong and Beijing have been given the privilege of examining the full report with the ‘larger’ goal of smoothing out our frayed diplomatic ties with the two jurisdictions.
The gesture should surely make up for the phone call of Hong Kong’s chief executive which got lost in the Malacanang trunk line along with the failure of Manila to take the initiative of communicating with the former British colony during the 11-hour-long crisis.
So let’s concede that presidential prerogative is sacrosanct and just wait for the Chief Executive to return from his week-long maiden foreign mission which is, anyway, widely expected to brinf home the bacon in the form of new aid from Uncle Sam, and the promise of new investments that will result in new jobs and other major, major benefits.
Anyway, the matter of Filipinos engaging in armchair punditry in the coffee corners and barbershops can never be circumscribed by presidential prerogative.
Gusto nila happy pa rin tayo.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waiting For The Report

We've all been waiting for the official findings of the inquiry into the botched police assault on the busload of Chinese tourists from Hong Kong.

But Malacanang says Filipinos can't be told just yet until Hong Kong and Beijing see the report submitted yesterday by the panel led by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

The only snippets revealed thus far is that the 8 hostages all died at the hands of dismissed police captain Rolando Mendoza and no one among the casualties were felled by friendly fire - meaning no one was mistakenly hit by gunfire from the SWAT assault team members nor from police snipers.

It's also ben disclosed that up to 12 people will face criminal or administrative proceedings over the helter-skelter way the assault was carried out, and the manner news media covered the event.

Members of the probe panel and several Senators have roundly scolded how journalists supposedly gave "more importance to their news gathering needs over the safety of the hostages and their live coverages' painted a negative image" of the Philippines.

The scuttlebutt:
1. At least two political figures "will be recommended for prosecution or suspension.
2. Up to eight police officers will also be leveled with severe sanctions.
3. Two news media personalities and their media entities will be publicly reprimanded while further investigation may be sought with regard possible infractions of the terms of their broadcasting franchises.

It may surely be concede that the matter of Hong Kong getting first crack at seeing the findings is well within executive prerogative.

But something feels amiss.

Sure the people of the former British colony were 'traumatized and angered' by the fiasco that left 8 of their compatriots dead.

But what about Filipinos who've been humiliated and been put on the receiving end of insults about the incompetence of our police forces?

Why the seeming discriminatory gesture of delaying the report's release to us

Aren't we the bosses???