[PHOTO -A man repairs the roof of his house damaged in the coastal town of Banganga that was devastated at the height of last Tuesday's Typhoon Bopha in Davao Oriental in southern Philippines December 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Erik De Castro]

MANILA, DECEMBER 31, 2012 (INQUIRER) ON TARGET By Ramon Tulfo - If you think your Christmas Day, Dec. 25, was lonely because your father, mother, daughter or son is working abroad and couldn’t come home, think of the people who have lost their loved ones, homes and other material possessions in Baganga and Cateel towns in Davao Oriental and in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Think of how lucky you are that super Typhoon “Pablo” did not hit your town or city as it did the places mentioned previously.

Baganga, Cateel and New Bataan look like Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Americans dropped atom bombs in these two sites in Japan during World War II.

* * *

Your congressman, governor or mayor may be corrupt— only a few public officials are not—but perhaps they are not as corrupt as the some of those in Davao Oriental province who engaged in, or tolerated, illegal logging.

Illegally cut logs rolled down the mountains of Baganga and Cateel at the height of Pablo, floated on the swollen rivers and bulldozed bridges and houses in the way of rampaging floodwaters.

Needless to say, the runaway logs killed many people and injured scores more.

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I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet—Old Persian saying.

My dear readers—who are not from Baganga, Cateel and New Bataan—you are indeed lucky and should count your blessings!

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[PHOTO - CEBU, Philippines - In an act that many likened to the visit of the three kings to baby Jesus on Christmas, three ‘presidents’ visited Suspended Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia in the Capitol yesterday, giving a much-needed boost to her morale.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former president Joseph Estrada, all came to the Capitol to show their support for Garcia. Garcia has been staying in her office at the Capitol, the seat of power in the province, since her suspension was served last Wednesday.

Binay asked the commanding officer of the policemen guarding the Capitol, Supt. Leopoldo Cabanag, why they prevented people from entering Capitol premises. “Bakit ang mga tao ay hindi papasukin? Is there a law being violated?” Binay said.

Binay said that he saw no reason why policemen were carrying armalite rifles at the gate of the Capitol building. Binay reminded the authorities of the rule of law as he narrated his own personal experience when he was also suspended as Makati City mayor but did not step down.

Hundreds of Garcia’s supporters entered the Capitol premises upon the encouragement of Binay when he and company arrived around 11 a.m. Enrile questioned why Malacañang only enforced the suspension order only now, with six months left in the term of Garcia. THE FREEMAN]

The Aquino administration is persecuting officials who are not members of the Liberal Party at the drop of a hat. Or so it may seem to the public.

Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino and Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia are two cases in point. Espino, who is running for reelection under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), is being investigated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for being allegedly involved in “jueteng.”

As an aside, which official, of a province where jueteng thrives, has not had his or her hands dirtied by jueteng money?

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is the president of the Liberal Party whose member, Alaminos City Mayor Hernani Braganza, is Espino’s opponent for the gubernatorial post.

Garcia has been suspended by the DILG for a minor misdeed she allegedly committed years ago so her vice governor, a sister of Secretary Rene Almendras, can take over.

The moves were so obvious!

* * *

Governor Garcia, by not stepping down, is disobeying the DILG suspension order.

And Vice President Jojo Binay is aggravating the tense situation in Cebu by encouraging Garcia to stay put.

Binay, of all people, should not have visited her in Cebu with his allies because being a lawyer and the second highest official of the land, he should uphold the rule of law.

* * *

Binay’s act is an open declaration of war on the President.

The DILG issued the suspension order.

Being an office within the executive branch, it is under the President.

So by extension, it was the President who issued the suspension order.

* * *

The latest news I received from Compostela Valley is that there were more deaths that were recorded in Mt. Diwalwal, a mining area in Compostela Valley, than in New Bataan town.

Most of the victims were miners who were in the tunnels when Pablo struck Compostela Valley.

‘Sin tax’ and the smoking President ON TARGET By Ramon Tulfo Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:44 pm | Friday, December 21st, 2012 1 107 26

In signing Republic Act 10351, commonly known as the “sin tax” law, President Noy said its first year of implementation would “liberate more Filipinos from the vices of smoking and drinking.”

How ironic of the President to say that since he is known to be a chain smoker with no immediate plans of quitting the habit.

Some of his Cabinet members and close friends, on the other hand, are said to be heavy drinkers.

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Congress has asked the President to create a presidential task force to coordinate relief and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of Typhoon “Pablo” in the worst-hit provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

Both houses of Congress made the request to the President.

That’s good and welcome news.

But the news would have been better if the House of Representatives also announced it would investigate Rep. Nelson Dayanghirang (lst District, Davao Oriental) on allegations in this space that he is involved in illegal logging in his province.

Dayanghirang, Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon and her brother, Cateel Mayor Camilo Nuñez are being accused by many of their constituents of conducting illegal logging activities in the mountains of Baganga and Cateel.

Baganga and Cateel were the hardest-hit after the typhoon made landfall in the two towns.

Illegally cut logs in the forests of the two towns rolled down the mountain slope, floated on the swollen rivers and bulldozed bridges and houses in the way of rampaging floodwaters.

* * *

I understand why the House of Representatives does not want to investigate Dayanghirang.

It’s the “old boys and girls club” mentality at work among many of our legislators.

But why has the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) under Mar Roxas not ordered an investigation into the allegations in this space about the illegal logging activities of Malanyaon and Nuñez?

If Roxas was quick to investigate allegations that Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino was involved in “jueteng,” why is he footdragging in investigating the accusations of illegal logging against Malanyaon and Nuñez?

It is likely the charges against Espino were politically motivated, but the charges against Malanyaon and Nuñez are not.

Espino’s opponent for the gubernatorial post is a Liberal Party member.

I am the making the charges against Dayanghirang and Malanyaon who happen to be not only my provincemates but my friends as well.

Clearly, I’m neither motivated by politics nor malice in making the accusations.

Dayanghirang and Malanyaon are running unopposed.

* * *

I’m surprised why the President has not asked Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje to explain why illegal logging in Baganga and Cateel went unnoticed.

Paje must have looked the other way while the forests in the two towns were being denuded.

The report by a Palace mole that the President was overheard saying that Paje was corrupt seems to gain credence.

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Sen. Edgardo Angara has withdrawn from the gubernatorial race in Aurora province, but has appointed his younger brother, Mayor Arthur Angara of Baler town, as his substitute.

Apparently, the elder Angara knows he stands to lose because of the much-publicized protest march by Casiguran folk who complained of alleged abuses committed by officials of Aurora Pacific Economic and Freeport Authority (Apeco), Angara’s brainchild.

Apparently, he used his influence over his colleagues in the Senate in passing the law creating Apeco even if it was reportedly not economically feasible.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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