PHILSTAR OPINION

EDITORIAL: URGENT ACTION  

In recent days Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has been warning about rotating blackouts of two to three hours daily when – not if – the country suffers from another power crisis in the summer of 2015. Petilla is issuing the warning as he seeks emergency powers for President Aquino so the government can prevent or ease the energy crisis or at least make a timely response in case it hits.

If Petilla thinks his warning calls for an emergency response, he or other administration officials must specify to Congress ASAP exactly what powers are being sought for President Aquino, and how long these would be wielded. Because of the country’s recent history, “emergency powers” have taken on an unsavory connotation. Even President Aquino, the only son of two democracy icons, has not been spared from speculation that the emergency powers being proposed are not meant chiefly to prevent blackouts. Trust me, the President has told his “bosses” the people. But with the unofficial campaign for the 2016 general elections expected to start next year, some quarters are coming up with ugly scenarios related to blackouts and emergency powers. * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Gentlemen: Start your generators! 

If DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla fails to overcome the blockade being put up by certain cabinet members and Senator Serge Osmeña (who is the principal author of the EPIRA law), and if Secretary Petilla is unable to convince President Noynoy Aquino to declare a “State of Emergency” for energy requirements by September 30, 2014, then you are all advised to buy electric generators, tropicalize your lifestyle, and make plans based on Metro Manila experiencing 2 to 3 hour rotating brownout everyday in March, April and May 2015. Aside from the “technical nosebleed” I suffered from listening to Secretary Petilla and colleague Boo Chanco, I went home constipated by information overload, arrived home wet from walking in the rain and wondering just how would I translate a 25-year saga that began in the time of Cory Aquino. I hope this explanation does not “shock” you. During Marcos’ time FM wanted self-reliance in Energy including nuclear power but the deals were all marked by controversy and corruption. So when the Cory regime came in, they obliterated all Marcos related plans for energy sufficiency and self-reliance. Alongside came a petroleum company executive who convinced Cory and her advisers to totally junk plans for energy self-reliance because there would always be enough fuel to run the power plants.

Then local and foreign investors started building up businesses that resulted to serious power shortages. This happened because government has the responsibility of studying, forecasting and planning economic growth, including how much electricity and how many power plants need to be built. But because EDSA 1 was a prayer rally turned revolution and Cory and her cabinet did not have anything or anyone to run the numbers by. They also had no way of accurately projecting economic growth and the required power demands and that is why we all suffered rotating brownouts from 1987 onwards. Because it was an emergency and government still had the authority to build, own and operate power plants, they leased or procured inefficient power barges. When FVR became President their solution was to let investors come in and build the needed power plants based on the best sweetheart deals you could imagine simply because “Beggars can’t be choosers” and the government was begging for help to end the power crisis. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Bringing workers home 

Gang rape and gunfire in Libya, kidnapping in waters off Somalia, deadly Ebola in Africa, equally deadly rocket fire in the Middle East, and missile bombardment in Ukraine. Filipinos are risking life, limb and virtue while working in conflict zones and hot spots around the planet. The security risks are another downside of the OFW phenomenon, whose social costs include worker abuse, broken families, and children who become juvenile delinquents for lack of parental guidance. OFWs or overseas Filipino workers account for a hefty chunk of rosy economic growth figures, sustaining the country through global slowdowns in recent years. But the resilience to global economic tsunamis has also become one of the biggest excuses of the miniscule few who control power and wealth in this country to resist reforms.

When he was running for president, Noynoy Aquino told us in The STAR that among his objectives if he won was to create an environment that would make it unnecessary for Filipinos to seek decent jobs in other countries. Today the OFW exodus continues, and the government considers it a good year when a million Filipinos find jobs overseas. In other countries such as China, meanwhile, governments are dangling attractive incentives to reverse their brain drain and lure back from abroad their professionals, artists and skilled workers. * * * There is one sector that has thrived and is encouraging Filipinos to work in their own land: business process outsourcing. The BPO phenomenon, however, was started not by P-Noy but by someone who in the current administration is regarded as “you know who… she who must not be named” if we’re talking about achievements. Daang matuwid can build on the groundwork laid by the Philippines’ Lady Voldemort by raising the level of skills in our BPO sector so we can nudge India from the top spot as the global destination for knowledge BPO. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Surveys will not be the final judge 

With the latest surveys showing a drop in the president’s approval rating, it would appear that the predicted downward curve of any administration towards its last three years always comes through. But the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino was well received and gave his popularity an upward spike judging from the reaction of many, which could be attributed to a number of reasons. One, it “did not live up to expectations” in the sense that it was not confrontational or arrogant in tone. And contrary to predictions, the president’s speech did not touch on the senators implicated in the pork barrel fund scam or the adverse ruling of the Supreme Court on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Neither was there any “GMA bashing” which was a welcome respite to many. When the president became emotional as he invoked the legacy of his parents, many sympathized with his frustration at not being able to do more through the reforms he has initiated. That the president continues to be annoyed at those who keep criticizing his administration was also very apparent. But being president of any country has never been and will never be a walk in the park, and being criticized (and sometimes crucified) is “par for the course” – whether criticisms are legitimate or personal. That’s what free speech is all about – with a few exceptions, of course.

Ironically, the noisiest and most spiteful criticisms come from leftist and militant groups that recycle their slogans and denunciations against every sitting president, pretty much like the way designers make one-size-fits-all clothes. And to think many of them wouldn’t even have a voice were it not for former President Cory Aquino who freed Communist rebels led by Joma Sison. But that’s part and parcel of a democratic system of government — the exercise of free speech — including the liberty to express criticism, voice out disagreement, or speak out against the excesses of those in power. The freedom of speech including the right to criticize is something that the president should be well aware of, considering his father practically died fighting for the right to express criticism against government, while his mother is credited for restoring democracy and all the attendant freedoms that go with it.

By objectively listening to contrary views or perspectives, a leader can gain useful insight that would help him or her gauge whether an initiative is achieving the desired effect or not. While people appreciate the reforms being undertaken by this administration to curb graft and corruption, there are certain sectors that have legitimate concerns on reforms that could also adversely affect the economy, like the BIR rule for banks to disclose confidential account details or financial information that could disrupt the financial sector. Worse, the same information could be used by criminal elements to target certain vulnerable individuals. Another point that people found positive in P-Noy’s SONA is when he said he would seek a supplemental budget from Congress — which many took as a tacit signal that he is accepting the Supreme Court decision regarding the DAP. Many also interpret it as a realization on the part of the president that in a democracy, there are checks and balances that have been put into place to curb any potential abuse of authority by any branch of government. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Grave consequences 

In most of his recent speeches, PNoy keeps on citing the common good of our country and people in justifying his actions. But he must be reminded time and again that “common good” covers the fullest development not only of the economic, political and cultural but also of the spiritual lives of the citizens. Hence, on this point, it may not be amiss to point out once more that he has not actually promoted the common good particularly the spiritual lives of our countrymen. On the contrary, he has even supported some measures that lead to a deterioration of morality in our country. At the risk of being repetitious let me just cite once more PNoy’s all out and aggressive support for the passage of the RH law where it was reported that he even used the “persuasive” effect of the PDAF and or the DAP. I am citing this case again because one of the main features of this law is the promotion of artificial contraception with the use of public funds supposedly to control the growth of our population. And coincidentally, 46 years ago last July 31, 2014, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae where he pointed out the evils of contraception.

When Pope Paul VI issued said encyclical many people including Catholics had somehow disagreed with his stand to uphold the Church teaching on contraception. They believed at that time that such view of the Church is already outmoded and not in step with the modern trends then sweeping the world especially in the predominantly Catholic European countries. They ignored the truth that contraception is against natural law and thought that it was necessary to control the perceived problem of overpopulation. Forty six years later in this country, the present government and the advocates of the RH law still had such kind of attitude and view on contraception and the alleged problem of overpopulation despite the mistakes now being realized by those countries especially on the grave consequences of contraception and the depopulation of the nation. Indeed in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI already predicted the grave consequences happening in those countries now and may eventually happen here because of the RH law that PNoy aggressively supported and hastily signed into law. In Section 17 PopeVI made several predictions on the inevitable results of relying on contraception now being promoted by the RH law:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way to marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—especially the young who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law”. * READ MORE...

ALSO: We never move forward, always backward 

Filipino entrepreneurs and privately owned corporations have reached overseas and are recognized abroad as progressive and innovative. They have ballooned, expanded and intensified. Sadly, as the private sector is growing, our public service is plummeting each year. I really pity our President not just P-Noy but all the previous ones and those who are still to come. If we do not change our mindset, our mentality, our character and our goals, nothing will happen to our country. We will continue to fall and ultimately crash. Back in the nineties, we were already agonizing over the traffic problem. Gridlock! Even when it rained in those years, we would experience 7-hour traffic not to mention flash floods not due to nature’s fury but a man-made disaster. Untimely roadblocks due to “repairs” and “maintenance” would cause floods causing more traffic with no officer on sight and making citizens feel abandoned. That was then and it is still a problem today but worse.

I remember my late dad would always quip that this clearly is a culmination of several decades of stupid neglect, corrupt road works and public works, infrastructure money going into the wrong pockets, the venality and indifference of politicians and bureaucrats, lack of political will to take tough steps required to improve matters, and the persistent arrogance of public officials who say that “the public be damned.” Once he said that, “the term public service so often invoked in our so-called democracy, is the sickest joke of all. Nobody is serving the public, while officialdom, elective and bureaucratic alike, are helping themselves to the gravy at the budget smorgasbord table. Why can’t government build sturdy roads? Why can’t the roads last for years? Why do craters suddenly appear after a heavy rain? Clearly it shows us a backward trend in terms of development and progress. * READ MORE...


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EDITORIAL - Urgent action

MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2014 (PHILSTAR) In recent days Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has been warning about rotating blackouts of two to three hours daily when – not if – the country suffers from another power crisis in the summer of 2015.

Petilla is issuing the warning as he seeks emergency powers for President Aquino so the government can prevent or ease the energy crisis or at least make a timely response in case it hits.

If Petilla thinks his warning calls for an emergency response, he or other administration officials must specify to Congress ASAP exactly what powers are being sought for President Aquino, and how long these would be wielded. Because of the country’s recent history, “emergency powers” have taken on an unsavory connotation. Even President Aquino, the only son of two democracy icons, has not been spared from speculation that the emergency powers being proposed are not meant chiefly to prevent blackouts.

Trust me, the President has told his “bosses” the people. But with the unofficial campaign for the 2016 general elections expected to start next year, some quarters are coming up with ugly scenarios related to blackouts and emergency powers.

* The government can dispel these fears by clearly explaining the problem to Congress and the people and specifying possible responses. The government can then specify the emergency powers needed by the President for an effective response, and what could happen if the powers are not granted. Lawmakers themselves have asked for specifics. If Petilla’s warnings are accurate, this matter must be treated with urgency so that the response will be effective.

President Aquino knows his exercise of such powers, even for a limited period, will be subjected to minute scrutiny by people looking for indications of abuse of power. Transparency mechanisms can be built in so that any exercise of emergency powers can withstand public scrutiny. If the explanation for the request turns out to be satisfactory, congressional action is needed ASAP. This is if lawmakers don’t want administration officials to say, if the rotating blackouts hit the country next summer, “We told you so.”

Gentlemen: Start your generators! CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


By Cito Beltran

If DOE Secretary Jericho Petilla fails to overcome the blockade being put up by certain cabinet members and Senator Serge Osmeña (who is the principal author of the EPIRA law), and if Secretary Petilla is unable to convince President Noynoy Aquino to declare a “State of Emergency” for energy requirements by September 30, 2014, then you are all advised to buy electric generators, tropicalize your lifestyle, and make plans based on Metro Manila experiencing 2 to 3 hour rotating brownout everyday in March, April and May 2015.

Aside from the “technical nosebleed” I suffered from listening to Secretary Petilla and colleague Boo Chanco, I went home constipated by information overload, arrived home wet from walking in the rain and wondering just how would I translate a 25-year saga that began in the time of Cory Aquino. I hope this explanation does not “shock” you.

During Marcos’ time FM wanted self-reliance in Energy including nuclear power but the deals were all marked by controversy and corruption. So when the Cory regime came in, they obliterated all Marcos related plans for energy sufficiency and self-reliance. Alongside came a petroleum company executive who convinced Cory and her advisers to totally junk plans for energy self-reliance because there would always be enough fuel to run the power plants.

Then local and foreign investors started building up businesses that resulted to serious power shortages. This happened because government has the responsibility of studying, forecasting and planning economic growth, including how much electricity and how many power plants need to be built. But because EDSA 1 was a prayer rally turned revolution and Cory and her cabinet did not have anything or anyone to run the numbers by. They also had no way of accurately projecting economic growth and the required power demands and that is why we all suffered rotating brownouts from 1987 onwards.

Because it was an emergency and government still had the authority to build, own and operate power plants, they leased or procured inefficient power barges. When FVR became President their solution was to let investors come in and build the needed power plants based on the best sweetheart deals you could imagine simply because “Beggars can’t be choosers” and the government was begging for help to end the power crisis.

* While government was desperate, the private sector investors were mostly predatory and manipulative. They all got “Take or pay deals” and “Minimum guarantees” on top of their cost to generate, some for a period of 20 to 25 years. This is the reason why power generators are not building more plants or increasing capacities. All they have to do is increase their reported cost but not their production and they will have more profits. Why reduce their profit margins by investing on new plants that will only result in more electricity, competition among power producers and smaller margins. Meanwhile you the poor customer can’t and won’t complain about prices because you are told that there is not enough supply and if you don’t pay the price you will suffer brownouts. In fact every maintenance shut down or breakdown immediately makes us obedient customers of the power industry.

Not only did the power producers get the best long-term deals in town, they also managed to influence legislation to force government out of the business through the EPIRA law. Back then we were all so angry at the many media reports about corruption at the NAPOCOR that we went along with the idea that government be banned from electric power generation, the law even took out price control and subsidies. They wanted to be able to dictate and the government wanted out of it. Fortunately, some people had enough wisdom to insert an “In case of fire” provision they call section 71 where the government may take any and all necessary action in the event of an “Emergency.”

According to Secretary Petilla that “state of emergency” already exists. Every time one plant goes off the grid or breaks down we are at the brink of a total system fail or rotating brownouts. This is because today’s system was the solution to yesterday’s problem. The total power generated today is the ideal quantity they needed sometime in 1987 and 1988. In the mean time, the population then has matured into actual power consumers, our population now has increased by some 20 million plus (from 78M to 100M), the economy, commercialization, construction and development has boomed beyond the normal forecasts and projections not to mention society has become more electricity dependent and driven because of telecoms and internet. In contrast the power generators have not built up new plants because no one can make them!

Secretary Petilla’s solution is to rent/lease land based 300 Mega watt generators from the same Australian company that supplied the emergency power generators for Fukushima, Japan when their nuclear power plant melted down because of the tsunami. The 2-year lease would cost between 5 to 6 billion pesos and would only be used during “Yellow alert” meaning “seriously thin supply or seriously high demand” peak hours of summer. After 2 years Petilla and PNoy won’t be around and won’t care, and hopefully, some of the “soon to be built” or “suppose to be under construction” power plants might already be finished.

The suggestion is PNoy should make the recommendation to Congress and let Congress decide. That way the ball and the potential blame will be in their hands not on PNoy. Congress is also better equipped to scrutinize what, why and who caused the emergency, why Petilla prefers to deal with the Australian company, and if the terms they offer are as good and clean as those for Fukushima. They should also review and rewrite the EPIRA law that was clearly influenced by lobbyists and vested interest. If all else fail, just wait for the next power plant to blow up! In the meantime: “Gentlemen: Start your generators!”

Bringing workers home SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

Gang rape and gunfire in Libya, kidnapping in waters off Somalia, deadly Ebola in Africa, equally deadly rocket fire in the Middle East, and missile bombardment in Ukraine.

Filipinos are risking life, limb and virtue while working in conflict zones and hot spots around the planet.

The security risks are another downside of the OFW phenomenon, whose social costs include worker abuse, broken families, and children who become juvenile delinquents for lack of parental guidance.

OFWs or overseas Filipino workers account for a hefty chunk of rosy economic growth figures, sustaining the country through global slowdowns in recent years.

But the resilience to global economic tsunamis has also become one of the biggest excuses of the miniscule few who control power and wealth in this country to resist reforms.

When he was running for president, Noynoy Aquino told us in The STAR that among his objectives if he won was to create an environment that would make it unnecessary for Filipinos to seek decent jobs in other countries.

Today the OFW exodus continues, and the government considers it a good year when a million Filipinos find jobs overseas. In other countries such as China, meanwhile, governments are dangling attractive incentives to reverse their brain drain and lure back from abroad their professionals, artists and skilled workers.

* * *

There is one sector that has thrived and is encouraging Filipinos to work in their own land: business process outsourcing. The BPO phenomenon, however, was started not by P-Noy but by someone who in the current administration is regarded as “you know who… she who must not be named” if we’re talking about achievements.

Daang matuwid can build on the groundwork laid by the Philippines’ Lady Voldemort by raising the level of skills in our BPO sector so we can nudge India from the top spot as the global destination for knowledge BPO.

* But even if we’re No. 1 only for voice BPO, these businesses are making Filipinos decide against looking for jobs abroad. A development expert also told me that the empowerment of Filipinos through BPOs was weakening patronage politics as younger generations find themselves no longer beholden to local politicians for family sustenance.

Taking off from the BPO phenomenon, the government is launching an initiative to lure foreign investors to tap Filipino skills right here in the Philippines.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC) is working with the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Foreign Affairs and other agencies for this initiative. Incidentally, the NCC was formed in October 2006 also by “she who must not be named” through a presidential executive order, as amended in an EO by P-Noy.

The NCC is currently co-chaired by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Guillermo Luz for the private sector. Its board members from the government are the secretaries of education, tourism, energy, finance and socio-economic planning. From the private sector, the members are industrialist Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong, Shell Philippines’ Ed Chua and Dado Banatao of Tallwood Venture Capital.

Laura del Rosario, foreign affairs undersecretary for international economic relations, told me last Wednesday after a meeting of the NCC about their planned initiative to lure more foreign firms to tap Pinoy skills for enterprises in the Philippines.

The government, Del Rosario said, is aware that the country needs to promote manufacturing to create meaningful jobs. Other growth sectors are tourism and the creative industries.

These are also classified as growth sectors by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines in its annual “Arangkada” report on how to accelerate economic growth.

Instead of exporting our artists to Hollywood or Wellington, New Zealand, for example, to work as animators, the government is hoping to lure foreign firms to tap Pinoy talent right here in our country.

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority will also tout the attractions of the country’s export processing zones to boost manufacturing activities.

* * *

Tourism has received a boost from the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign. Now the marketing must be supported by the necessary infrastructure. Many expats have told me that we have great travel destinations but disappointingly inadequate accommodations and transportation whether by air, land or sea.

The expats point out that roads in many areas are bad and communities are not geared to make tourism their top revenue earner even if the potential is there. This is a problem that is best addressed by local government officials, but most of them unfortunately think only of personal enrichment or need training in public administration.

Popular US online news aggregator Huffington Post, in an article posted Saturday, praised the Philippines as “the best tropical destination no one ever talks about.”

While the article written by Carla Herreria described our chain of tropical islands as “incredible,” our tourism officials should be worried by her observation about the Philippines: “…you know it exists, but you’ve probably never thought of planning a trip there.”

Herreria listed eight “really good reasons” to visit the Philippines: the sights (caves, volcanoes, Bohol’s Chocolate Hills); food (from adobo and sinigang to balut and dinuguan); beaches (El Nido, Caramoan, Boracay); hiking (Taal volcano, Ifugao rice terraces); diving and swimming with whale sharks; quirky transportation (jeepney and outriggers); “world famous hospitality,” and the “cute” mouse deer.

But not many people, as the writer observed, plan trips to the Philippines. We’re lagging way behind other Southeast Asian countries in terms of tourist arrivals. I’ve written that about 800,000 British travelers visit Thailand every year while the numbers in the Philippines are negligible. The arrival figures from most other countries are similar.

Our maritime territorial dispute with China is also keeping us from luring more of the ever-growing number of Chinese travelers. Last year arrivals from China were actually 70 percent higher than in 2012, at 400,000, but we can do much more.

About 100 million Chinese travel overseas every year, each spending an average of $900 a day in advanced economies and about $600 in developing countries such as the Philippines. They like bringing home from our country pearls and 7D brand dried mangoes from Cebu, according to Chinese embassy officials.

Community-based, integrated tourism development can provide meaningful jobs to millions of Filipinos right in their own hometowns, creating growth hubs all over the archipelago.

Instead of leaving loved ones to earn decent pay in another country, Filipinos should be able to see the world for leisure, from money earned in our own land.

Surveys will not be the final judge BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 3, 2014 - 12:00am 0 6 googleplus1 0


By Babe Romualdez

With the latest surveys showing a drop in the president’s approval rating, it would appear that the predicted downward curve of any administration towards its last three years always comes through. But the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Aquino was well received and gave his popularity an upward spike judging from the reaction of many, which could be attributed to a number of reasons. One, it “did not live up to expectations” in the sense that it was not confrontational or arrogant in tone. And contrary to predictions, the president’s speech did not touch on the senators implicated in the pork barrel fund scam or the adverse ruling of the Supreme Court on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP). Neither was there any “GMA bashing” which was a welcome respite to many.

When the president became emotional as he invoked the legacy of his parents, many sympathized with his frustration at not being able to do more through the reforms he has initiated. That the president continues to be annoyed at those who keep criticizing his administration was also very apparent. But being president of any country has never been and will never be a walk in the park, and being criticized (and sometimes crucified) is “par for the course” – whether criticisms are legitimate or personal. That’s what free speech is all about – with a few exceptions, of course.

Ironically, the noisiest and most spiteful criticisms come from leftist and militant groups that recycle their slogans and denunciations against every sitting president, pretty much like the way designers make one-size-fits-all clothes. And to think many of them wouldn’t even have a voice were it not for former President Cory Aquino who freed Communist rebels led by Joma Sison.

But that’s part and parcel of a democratic system of government — the exercise of free speech — including the liberty to express criticism, voice out disagreement, or speak out against the excesses of those in power. The freedom of speech including the right to criticize is something that the president should be well aware of, considering his father practically died fighting for the right to express criticism against government, while his mother is credited for restoring democracy and all the attendant freedoms that go with it.

By objectively listening to contrary views or perspectives, a leader can gain useful insight that would help him or her gauge whether an initiative is achieving the desired effect or not. While people appreciate the reforms being undertaken by this administration to curb graft and corruption, there are certain sectors that have legitimate concerns on reforms that could also adversely affect the economy, like the BIR rule for banks to disclose confidential account details or financial information that could disrupt the financial sector. Worse, the same information could be used by criminal elements to target certain vulnerable individuals.

Another point that people found positive in P-Noy’s SONA is when he said he would seek a supplemental budget from Congress — which many took as a tacit signal that he is accepting the Supreme Court decision regarding the DAP. Many also interpret it as a realization on the part of the president that in a democracy, there are checks and balances that have been put into place to curb any potential abuse of authority by any branch of government.

* Instead of chastising critics, the president could have used that opportunity to strengthen his message by saying that democracy is flourishing under his administration — because people can express their sentiment against the government without fear, and that the checks and balances are firmly in place. But the fact is, you can never please everybody — especially those who have made it their mission in life to be contrarian and disparaging.

Even US President Obama is getting criticized left and right for his policies and administrative orders. In fact, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted to sue Obama for allegedly abusing his authority and violating the US Constitution. Republicans are accusing Obama of overstepping boundaries in pushing his healthcare program by making unilateral changes to the “Affordable Care Act” popularly known as Obamacare.

Like President Aquino, Obama has all the “good intentions” in pushing for reforms. However, congressmen say Obama has “practically rewritten the law without following the constitutional process” — in effect bypassing Congress which is a constitutional violation. This is almost exactly the same argument being used by DAP critics who said President Aquino abrogated the role of legislators.

Being president has never been easy especially in a country like the Philippines where most people are hard to please. It also means making hard decisions — just like the sign on the desk of US President Harry Truman that said “The buck stops here” — meaning he can’t pass on the decision to someone else.

Truman faced the challenging transition to a post war period, with critics lambasting his 21-point proposal to spur economic development and address social welfare issues. Although the US economy began recovering under his term, Truman was besieged by charges of corruption and serious foreign policy issues — causing his popularity to sink. Today however, historians regard Truman as one of the best presidents of the United States.

Six years is too short for a good president — but too long for a bad one. Usually the last two years is when a president can shape the legacy he wants to leave.

At the end of the day, history — not surveys — will be the final judge on whether a president making the hard decisions, regardless of any criticism, ultimately had a lasting impact on his country.

Grave consequences A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Jose C. Sison

In most of his recent speeches, PNoy keeps on citing the common good of our country and people in justifying his actions. But he must be reminded time and again that “common good” covers the fullest development not only of the economic, political and cultural but also of the spiritual lives of the citizens.

Hence, on this point, it may not be amiss to point out once more that he has not actually promoted the common good particularly the spiritual lives of our countrymen. On the contrary, he has even supported some measures that lead to a deterioration of morality in our country.

At the risk of being repetitious let me just cite once more PNoy’s all out and aggressive support for the passage of the RH law where it was reported that he even used the “persuasive” effect of the PDAF and or the DAP. I am citing this case again because one of the main features of this law is the promotion of artificial contraception with the use of public funds supposedly to control the growth of our population. And coincidentally, 46 years ago last July 31, 2014, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae where he pointed out the evils of contraception.

When Pope Paul VI issued said encyclical many people including Catholics had somehow disagreed with his stand to uphold the Church teaching on contraception. They believed at that time that such view of the Church is already outmoded and not in step with the modern trends then sweeping the world especially in the predominantly Catholic European countries. They ignored the truth that contraception is against natural law and thought that it was necessary to control the perceived problem of overpopulation. Forty six years later in this country, the present government and the advocates of the RH law still had such kind of attitude and view on contraception and the alleged problem of overpopulation despite the mistakes now being realized by those countries especially on the grave consequences of contraception and the depopulation of the nation.

Indeed in Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI already predicted the grave consequences happening in those countries now and may eventually happen here because of the RH law that PNoy aggressively supported and hastily signed into law. In Section 17 PopeVI made several predictions on the inevitable results of relying on contraception now being promoted by the RH law:

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way to marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—especially the young who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law”.

* Obviously the RH law will contribute to the lowering of the moral standards in our society especially among the young ones. Indeed one of the purposes for allegedly using artificial contraception is make sexual intercourse more “safe and satisfying” especially among the teenagers. In fact it has been reported in media that Department of Health (DOH) the Undersecretary Janet Garin that DOH is already distributing “sexual kits” especially to teenagers to prevent pregnancy in case they have sexual intercourse voluntarily or involuntarily. Even the former DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral has already been distributing condoms particularly in major bus terminals for free at government expense during her stint in the Department when the RH law was not yet enacted into law.

Continuing in Section 17 of the encyclical, Pope Paul VI also warned that:

“Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Indeed even now, we seem to have forgotten of our treasured Filipino custom of respecting the dignity and honor of Filipinas. Gone are the days really when suitors practice the Filipino custom of “no touch” until after they marry the women of their sweethearts. Incidents of pre-marital sex are increasing and will definitely increase even more with the passage of RH law.

Pope Paul VI perhaps even foresaw what is happening to our country now when our own leader has assumed the role of the principal supporter of this method under the guise of controlling our growing population to solve our chronic poverty problem: As the Pope said:

“Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring contraceptive methods which they consider more effective. Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone”

Consequently, unless we are willing to accept that the responsibility of procreating should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural function”

These are clearly happening to our country now with the passage of the RH law. While the use of contraceptive methods under the law is allegedly a matter of free choice in planning the size of the family as part of “responsible parenthood,” the law has also allowed the government to use public funds to purchase those contraceptives for free distribution to the poor who chose to use them but could not afford to buy them.

Now is the time indeed for more prayers for our country and our leaders. May they realize and admit their mistakes and change their minds.

We never move forward, always backward AS A MATTER OF FACT By Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 4, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0


By Sara Soliven De Guzman

Filipino entrepreneurs and privately owned corporations have reached overseas and are recognized abroad as progressive and innovative. They have ballooned, expanded and intensified. Sadly, as the private sector is growing, our public service is plummeting each year.

I really pity our President not just P-Noy but all the previous ones and those who are still to come. If we do not change our mindset, our mentality, our character and our goals, nothing will happen to our country. We will continue to fall and ultimately crash.

Back in the nineties, we were already agonizing over the traffic problem. Gridlock! Even when it rained in those years, we would experience 7-hour traffic not to mention flash floods not due to nature’s fury but a man-made disaster.

Untimely roadblocks due to “repairs” and “maintenance” would cause floods causing more traffic with no officer on sight and making citizens feel abandoned. That was then and it is still a problem today but worse.

I remember my late dad would always quip that this clearly is a culmination of several decades of stupid neglect, corrupt road works and public works, infrastructure money going into the wrong pockets, the venality and indifference of politicians and bureaucrats, lack of political will to take tough steps required to improve matters, and the persistent arrogance of public officials who say that “the public be damned.”

Once he said that, “the term public service so often invoked in our so-called democracy, is the sickest joke of all. Nobody is serving the public, while officialdom, elective and bureaucratic alike, are helping themselves to the gravy at the budget smorgasbord table.

Why can’t government build sturdy roads? Why can’t the roads last for years? Why do craters suddenly appear after a heavy rain? Clearly it shows us a backward trend in terms of development and progress.

* In other countries, machines do the jobs in a matter of hours not months or years. State of the art equipment is used with good cement and asphalt applicators. In this country, we are still using equipment fashioned during the medieval period. Our construction workers use old-fashioned pick-axes or shovels taking days to complete their work; creating ditches that turn into mud while also trying to steal siesta time from their working hours. As my dad would jokingly say, our roads are hand-made – the result demonstrates the crudeness of the untrained hand.

We also have a misconception that Filipino labor is cheap. It is not. It is actually expensive. The work of one man in America, Japan or Singapore is the work of six Filipino workers per day. So, what’s happening to us? Why can’t we be more efficient and practical in producing high quality infrastructures? Why are projects of private companies of better quality and our government projects sub-standard?

Our energy problem for instance is taking us decades to resolve. Didn’t we learn from the frequent power disruptions in the nineties? What has the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR or NPC) done all this time? They claim that they energize communities and industries to drive the economy and uplift our quality of life. I vehemently disagree. Why brag about something that is not happening. Clearly our economy is affected by the constant power failures around the country. The energy crisis that we are experiencing has dampened our spirits and killed our hopes for a better life. Susmariosep! Stop blaming the power distributors. Look at the whole picture and fix it. That is your job. That is your commitment to the nation! Be that prime mover and the forerunner you claim to be. Don’t drive us crazy!

We have been categorized as a Third World country since time immemorial. If we do not change we will be stuck in this situation for a lifetime. I bet if there is a Fourth World category, we can surely slip into it with ease. I’m not kidding. We are not progressing. As a matter of fact, we are regressing. But it is different with the private sector. They have the knowledge, discipline, manpower and the expertise. Many rely more on the private sector. Even the government wants to privatize everything. What’s the matter?

Last week while listening to the President in his State of the Nation Address, he sounded very patriotic and commended all his Cabinet members. I’m pretty sure he needed to also boost the spirits of his team but he also failed to recognize their weaknesses. Every wrong move seemed to be rationalized. With such an attitude we will never move forward. This reminds me of a quote from Inazo Nitobe (a Japanese author), “Poor is the patriot who finds no fault in his own country: for a self-righteous nation can never improve.”

How many millions of pesos worth of business are lost daily owing to the inefficiencies and inadequacies of government service? It is appalling to note that our laws and ordinances do not seem to be consistent with each government unit – from the barangay, city, municipal levels, all the way to the national level. Why can’t the heads of each government unit or agency streamline such ordinances? Isn’t there a league of cities and municipalities where mayors (representing the executive branch) or vice-mayors (representing the legislative arm) meet?

How can we move forward when our basic services are full of red-tape? Processing of business permits, city clearances and licenses take hours (sometimes the whole day and you even have to return the next day), one has to pass through 8-10 agencies with each one having their own checklist to fill out. There are way too many city requirements not to mention the barangay requirements (which sometimes contradict with the city and the national level). Then you have the so-called “fixers: who are part and parcel of every government entity whether national or local. Susmariosep! Why can’t government arrest them? In fact, they have way too many connections inside. Sanamagan!

We have been losing a lot of potential business due to our idiosyncrasies. Our working class suffers in their daily commute each day with the lack of PUVs and unsafe conditions of vehicles not to mention traffic. How many tourists are turned off by the crowded and hot airports? How many foreign investors pull out their investments and transfer to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, etc.?

The daily struggle in the toils of anarchy is torn out of the Lowest Circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. With this type of hell we are experiencing how can we move forward?

Will the President need to call Congress to grant him Republic Act No. 6826 – “emergency power” every time we have a man-made catastrophe? I think he should call for “emergency powers” to revamp this bureaucracy!

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War


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