ABS-CBN OPINION, BLOGS

AQUINO SISTERS WANTED ABAD OUT; HYATT 10 CAME TO HIS RESCUE  

AUGUST 8  --OLD PHOTO: "Hyatt 10" members deny forcing President Aquino into keeping Budget Secretary Butch Abad. From our always reliable source: A few days after the Supreme Court declared parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP unconstitutional last July 1, 3 sisters of the President--Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, and Kris Aquino (Viel Dee didn’t join them)--talked with the President to let go of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad. As we all know by now, DAP--the issue that has shaken the otherwise Teflon presidency of Benigno Aquino III--was the brainchild of Abad. The Supreme Court’s vote was unanimous (13-0) stunning Malacańang who had thought it would be 7-6 in their favor. At the time his sisters talked to him about Abad, Aquino had not issued any statement on DAP yet. The source said the President appeared convinced by his sisters. * CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Getting to know the MRT (Might Run Today)  

Just kidding; of COURSE the MRT will run today. In fact, it runs everyday. True, it might sometimes run only halfway to where you want to go, which you'll discover when the train suddenly stops in the middle of a stretch of tracks between stations. But never fear, the train makes up for these moments by also occasionally running PAST your destination, plowing through barriers with enthusiasm. The MRT is an inexpensive and quick way to move from one end of EDSA to another. When you ride a train, a trip that might normally take you up to two hours on a bus will take, at the most, 55 minutes. Of course, this doesn't count the three hours you spend waiting in line to get inside the MRT station. Yes, the MRT does tend to get a bit crowded. Be ready for queues snaking down station stairs and stretching out hundreds of meters into the streets. You might need to bring binoculars so you can make out where the line begins. It's possible that soon, queues will be so long that by the time waiting passengers reach the head of the line, they'll discover they've actually already walked to their destination. Officials are hopeful this will relieve stress on the system.

Recent incidents have raised concerns about whether the MRT is safe. Don't worry: in designing and building the train system, government officials and experts followed the strict engineering specification known as "I'm never going to ride this thing." At any rate, in the event of a minor glitch such as a train running off the rails, you can be sure officials will rush to the site (in their chauffeured cars) and deploy themselves in thoughtful looking poses for media photographers. They will also be ready to utilize appropriate jargon, for instance, describing what happened as a "technical problem" that will "undergo intervention." They will even wait for screaming injured passengers to be removed before making these statements. Tips on using the MRT ---1. One way to deal with long MRT queues is to use a so-called "stored value ticket." With this card you will no longer have to stand in line for hours just to buy single trip tickets at the station counter. To get a stored value ticket, simply stand in line for hours and ask for it at the station counter. 2. Another way to deal with the long lines is by careful planning. For instance, let's say you plan to take the MRT to Makati early Monday morning. Allow yourself enough time by going to the station early. We recommend Friday evening.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: How much CHA-CHA will cost  

Amending the Constitution to lift term limits of government officials will cost billions of pesos, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Charman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Friday. Brillantes, in an interview on radio dzMM, said the government will have to spend at least P7 billion for amending the Constitution. It would cost another P7 billion if Congress decides to call for a constitutional convention, which requires election of delegates, the actual convention, and a nationwide plebiscite, among others. "Kasi kung constitutional convention, magkakaroon muna tayo ng eleksyon eh, eleksyon ng delegates, it would take another P7 billion. Then after that, maga-amend pa sila, magkakaroon ng constitutional convention, magkakaroon pa ng budget yung convention, pagkatapos nila mag-amend, isu-submit for plebiscite nationwide again, that could be another P7 billion," Brillantes explained.

A people's initiative will cost less, as the proponents would have to fund their own campaign. Use of public funds will start after the signatures are submitted to the Comelec for verification. "Isu-submit po sa Commission on Elections iyan for the verification process. Iyung verification process will entail expenses already, not as big as the previous one, siguro mga P1 billion lang iyan or less," Brillantes added. Once the signatures are verified, the amendments would still have to go through voting and a plebiscite, which would again cost the government around P7 billion. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Raissa Robles: Why President Aquino’s hint of a second term is raising hell 

How are we to respond to President Benigno Aquino coyly hinting he’s open to a (currently unconstitutional) second term? Why, with a smile and a “No, thank you.” Let’s have political succession. Not an amendment to the 1987 Constitution. Before I explain why, let me share with you my conversation yesterday with Mel Sta. Maria, Dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law who scooped us all in the media with his interview with PNoy. I wanted to know whether Aquino’s surprise revelation that he was open to a charter change and a second term had been scripted. I asked Dean Sta. Maria whether he had been required to submit all his questions prior to the interview . In short, whether PNoy’s answer was crafted beforehand. Sta. Maria told me, “I gave questions in advance excluding that.” “That” referred to the question on whether PNoy was open to amending the Constitution, including removing the six-year presidential term limit. During the interview Sta. Maria sneaked in the question: “Sarado ba kayo sa pag-aamyenda ng Constitution hanggang ngayon?” (Are you still closed to amending the Constitution until now?) And PNoy’s surprising reply was - “Bago nito, bago nangyari lahat ng ito, sarado….aminado ako (Before all these things happened, I was closed to it, I admit that).”  “Pero ngayon, napapag-isip ako talaga… yung tinatawag na judicial reach (But now, I’m seriously rethinking things. Because of the judicial reach.)”

Dean Sta. Maria then followed that up by asking whether this meant Aquino was also open to another six-year term as president. The President replied: “Nung pinasukan ko ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years…Ngayon, after having said that, syempre ang mga boss ko, kelangan kong pakinggan ‘yon.” (When I first got into this, I noted, one term of six years. Now, after having said that, of course my bosses, I have to listen to them, meaning the people). “Hindi naman ibig sabihin…na automatic na hahabol pa ako na magkaroon pa ako ng dagdag dito, ‘no?” (That doesn’t automatically mean I’ll be chasing after another term, right?) Aquino’s answers have set off a firestorm of speculation with audible gnashing of teeth in one end, and jubilant high-fives in another.

For my part, I think Aquino’s answers are mere political flirtation. At least for now. His way of telling his followers – if you want me, vote my anointed. However, if people mount a serious attempt to encourage him to change the Constitution so he can run again – say, with that magical number of one million signatures – then PNoy and the Liberal Party might be sorely tempted. Please don’t encourage him and the Liberal Party. It will not be good for our democracy. For a democracy to work institutions have to be built, including the orderly process of handing over power from one leader to the next, from one generation to the next. But let’s go back to why PNoy says he’s suddenly open to constitutional amendments.
This statement comes on the heels of another private poll survey showing Vice-President Jejomar Binay way ahead of LP candidate Mar Roxas. If elections were held today, Binay will trounce Roxas. That there seems to be no viable LP alternative right now to President Aquino is a testament to the higher standards he has set for that post. And also a sign of weakness of the Liberal Party and our overall alleged multi-party system. Let me share with you my thoughts on this matter, gathered from years of covering politics. PNoy’s government is the closest to a party government I have seen since democracy was restored in 1986. Five key cabinet portfolios are held by LP officials:*CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Commentary by Coco Alcuaz, ANC: Time for some politics, businessmen  

Again and again, President Aquino told the business sector and economists he didn't want to amend the foreign ownership limits in the constitution because he didn't want to “open up” the charter because some politicians might try to change political provisions. Now, ironically, if he “opens up” the constitution to allow presidential re-election, economic amendments will move from the Speaker Belmonte highway, to an autobahn. Unfortunately, it will also probably pave the way for lifting congressional and local government term limits. Assuming this Congress actually passes an anti-dynasty bill (another Belmonte promise), its effects will probably be offset by the removal of term limits. Worse, what if term limits are lifted and the anti-dynasty bill flounders? If the president is running for re-election, he may not have less political capital to spend on such a measure. And what if he loses the election? Has the president and his advisers have factored in that risk?

But while businessmen need to try to figure out and position for the future, they also have to, to use an old phrase we’ve read a lot this past week in Robin Williams obits: Carpe diem. Seize the day. If the president is really running for re-election, and this is not just some gambit to stave off "lame duck-ness," this could be the business sector’s opening to get what they want from him. If his administration has been cleaner than some previous ones, it will need campaign fund donations. And while the business sector itself has few votes, it has great influence. Trade these for some action or strong pledges. Sounds like the “transactional politics” the previous government was criticized with? Sounds like politics to me. Based on the letter local and foreign business groups sent the President before SONA, here’s their “Dirty Dozen”: *CONTINUE READING...

(ALSO ABS-CBN OPINION BLOGS) Depression  

Like the carpenters who have no homes of their own, the farmers who never have enough on the table to eat or the waiters who have never tried the food they serve, Robin Williams probably lacked what he so generously gave viewers: inspiration, laughter and assurance that somebody understood what he was going through. An Irony Having followed the series "Mork and Mindy" in my youth, laughed at "Good Morning, Vietnam," shed tears as I watched "The Bicentennial Man" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," held my breath when "Hook" took Peter’s children, and at each turn they took on the "Jumanji" board and was inspired by "Good Will Hunting" and "Dead Poets’ Society," I felt sad when I first heard the news of his death—and sadder still when I found out how he died. To hear that someone who has consistently brought happiness and inspiration to people he did not even know can be disconcerting. There have been times when I felt sad without knowing why. I would wake up in tears, not remembering what I dreamt about. I guess it was hormonal. I always thought we Filipinos are so resilient that few of us really get depressed. In fact, a 2012 CNN report ranked the Philippines 8th among the happiest countries in the world. But some say otherwise.

Depression and Suicide An October 12, 2012 post by Ilda on Get Real Philippines the 2012 World Happiness Report ranked the Philippines 103rd among 155 countries, making it one of Southeast Asia’s least happy. The same post said that 2011 data from the World Health Organization says that the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia and that there are 93 suicides for every 100,000 Filipinos. The World Happiness Report was commissioned by the United Nations Conference on Happiness and comes out every year. The research is done by the Earth Institute of Columbia University. “Woeful Suicide,” an article on the Department of Health website cited a 2004 World Health Organization study as saying that the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia. Over 4.5 million cases of depression were reported—meaning 3 percent of all Filipinos were “clinically diagnosed as depressed”. The study also said that of 90 Filipinos suffering from depression, only a third seek help. A third will just bear the symptoms while the rest would not even know they are depressed. * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Aquino sisters wanted Abad out; Hyatt 10 came to his rescue


By Ellen T. Tordesillas

MANILA, AUGUST 25, 2014 (ABS-CBN) By Ellen T. Tordesillas - From our always reliable source: A few days after the Supreme Court declared parts of the Disbursement Acceleration Program or DAP unconstitutional last July 1, 3 sisters of the President--Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, and Kris Aquino (Viel Dee didn’t join them)--talked with the President to let go of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.

As we all know by now, DAP--the issue that has shaken the otherwise Teflon presidency of Benigno Aquino III--was the brainchild of Abad.

The Supreme Court’s vote was unanimous (13-0) stunning Malacańang who had thought it would be 7-6 in their favor.

At the time his sisters talked to him about Abad, Aquino had not issued any statement on DAP yet. The source said the President appeared convinced by his sisters.


"Hyatt 10" members deny forcing President Aquino into keeping Budget Secretary Butch Abad (ABS-CBN). The term "Hyatt 10" refers to a group of seven secretaries of the Cabinet and three heads of government agencies in the Philippines who resigned their posts on July 8, 2005 as a result of the Hello Garci scandal, which allegedly implicated then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in rigging the 2004 general election in her favor. The name "Hyatt 10" was coined because the press conference where the concerned officials announced their resignation was held at the then-Hyatt Regency Hotel (now Midas Hotel) in Pasay City. The group continues to be influential in Philippine politics, with several members having joined the government of President Benigno Aquino III, Arroyo's successor. WIKIPEDIA

Abad’s comrades in the Cabinet were alarmed and they took action.

Social Services Secretary Dinky Soliman; Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima; Teresita Quintos Deles, presidential adviser on the Peace Process, and Mely Nicolas, chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (the core group of the 2005 Hyatt 10) went to Aquino and appealed for Abad’s retention.

But it was a loaded appeal because they told the President if he let go of Abad, they will all resign.

The President gave in. On July 11, during the Cabinet meeting on the 2015 budget, he announced that Abad will stay. “To accept his resignation is to assign to him a wrong. And I can’t accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” he said to the applause of members of his Cabinet except Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is part of the Cabinet as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

The next day, July 12, Abad released a statement disclosing that he tendered his resignation July 10. On the President’s rejection of his resignation, Abad said: “Although I was wholly prepared to relinquish my post, I am grateful for the President’s expression of his continuing trust and confidence in my leadership of the Department. I have thus chosen to defer to his better judgment and stay.”

The President's sisters' attempt to influence the President’s decision on Abad brought to fore once again the great divide in Aquino’s political family.

It is known that the Aquino sisters are lukewarm to the Mar Roxas faction, where Abad belongs. In the 2010 elections, the sisters were with the Noy-Bi (Aquino-Binay) faction.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Kris Aquino likes the idea of his brother endorsing Binay in the 2016 presidential election to the horror of Liberal Party stalwarts, who, up to now, pin their hopes on Roxas.

That was another masterstroke that Binay did last Monday: announcing that he has received information that the ruling Liberal Party was considering adopting him to be its standard bearer in the 2016 elections. (The other masterstroke of Binay was infiltrating the Liberal Party campaign in 2010. In the same building where LP had their headquarters, there was a room distributing Noy-Bi campaign materials.)

* Senate President Franklin Drilon, LP vice- chairman vehemently denied Binay’s claim. LP issued a statement underscoring that the party is against “corruption, patronage and self-serving ambition.” The unwritten message: Binay is the epitome of what they are fighting against.

But Kris Aquino said she and her sisters are open to Binay succeeding her brother: "Kami ng mga sister ko naman pinag-uusapan namin yan. Sinasabi namin puwede naman talagang magkaroon ng unity at puwedeng kung ano kasi hindi naman kami magkaaway. At kung ipagpapatuloy naman niya lahat ng nasimulan ni Noy, why not?(My sisters and I discussed this. We said it’s possible to have unity and we are not really fighting. If he (Binay) would continue what Noy has started, why not?)," she said in her TV show.

In a separate TV interview, she said: "I don't make a secret of the fact that one of my closest friends is his (Binay's) daughter Anne, and we pray together.”

The eldest sister, Ballsy agreed with Kris: “You know, he never said anything bad about my family at pati na rin sa ibang partido, kaya ako ay natutuwa na ganoon ang pakiramdam niya. Kung yun din naman ang kanyang hangarin, na maipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan ni Noy , e di magaling. (…I’m happy that that’s how he feels. If that his desire, to continue what Noy has started, good.)”

I think if Roxas decides to push through with his presidential bid despite low popularity ratings, Aquino will be compelled to endorse him but he will not prevent his sisters, relatives and members of his Cabinet like Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to support Binay.

Under the Binay presidency, Aquino will be amply protected. He will not suffer the fate of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo.

Aquino will have his cake and eat it too. Some people are damn lucky.

Blog: www. ellentordesillas.com

E-mail: ellentordesillas@gmail.com
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.

Getting to know the MRT (Might Run Today) Hot Manila - by Alan Robles Posted at 08/18/2014 5:46 PM | Updated as of 08/18/2014 5:46 PM

Just kidding; of COURSE the MRT will run today. In fact, it runs everyday. True, it might sometimes run only halfway to where you want to go, which you'll discover when the train suddenly stops in the middle of a stretch of tracks between stations. But never fear, the train makes up for these moments by also occasionally running PAST your destination, plowing through barriers with enthusiasm.

The MRT is an inexpensive and quick way to move from one end of EDSA to another. When you ride a train, a trip that might normally take you up to two hours on a bus will take, at the most, 55 minutes. Of course, this doesn't count the three hours you spend waiting in line to get inside the MRT station.

Yes, the MRT does tend to get a bit crowded. Be ready for queues snaking down station stairs and stretching out hundreds of meters into the streets. You might need to bring binoculars so you can make out where the line begins. It's possible that soon, queues will be so long that by the time waiting passengers reach the head of the line, they'll discover they've actually already walked to their destination. Officials are hopeful this will relieve stress on the system.

Recent incidents have raised concerns about whether the MRT is safe. Don't worry: in designing and building the train system, government officials and experts followed the strict engineering specification known as "I'm never going to ride this thing."

At any rate, in the event of a minor glitch such as a train running off the rails, you can be sure officials will rush to the site (in their chauffeured cars) and deploy themselves in thoughtful looking poses for media photographers. They will also be ready to utilize appropriate jargon, for instance, describing what happened as a "technical problem" that will "undergo intervention." They will even wait for screaming injured passengers to be removed before making these statements.

Tips on using the MRT

1. One way to deal with long MRT queues is to use a so-called "stored value ticket." With this card you will no longer have to stand in line for hours just to buy single trip tickets at the station counter. To get a stored value ticket, simply stand in line for hours and ask for it at the station counter.

2. Another way to deal with the long lines is by careful planning. For instance, let's say you plan to take the MRT to Makati early Monday morning. Allow yourself enough time by going to the station early. We recommend Friday evening.   :-)

How much CHA-CHA will cost by Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 08/15/2014 8:59 PM | Updated as of 08/15/2014 8:59 PM


CHA-CHA

MANILA -- Amending the Constitution to lift term limits of government officials will cost billions of pesos, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Charman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Friday.

Brillantes, in an interview on radio dzMM, said the government will have to spend at least P7 billion for amending the Constitution.

It would cost another P7 billion if Congress decides to call for a constitutional convention, which requires election of delegates, the actual convention, and a nationwide plebiscite, among others.

"Kasi kung constitutional convention, magkakaroon muna tayo ng eleksyon eh, eleksyon ng delegates, it would take another P7 billion. Then after that, maga-amend pa sila, magkakaroon ng constitutional convention, magkakaroon pa ng budget yung convention, pagkatapos nila mag-amend, isu-submit for plebiscite nationwide again, that could be another P7 billion," Brillantes explained.

A people's initiative will cost less, as the proponents would have to fund their own campaign.

Use of public funds will start after the signatures are submitted to the Comelec for verification.

"Isu-submit po sa Commission on Elections iyan for the verification process. Iyung verification process will entail expenses already, not as big as the previous one, siguro mga P1 billion lang iyan or less," Brillantes added.

Once the signatures are verified, the amendments would still have to go through voting and a plebiscite, which would again cost the government around P7 billion.

* Included in the expenses are payments and salaries for employees who will serve in the plebiscite, as well as supplies.

Brillantes also said the Comelec has already requested for P7 billion in its budget for possible amendments to the Constitution, but it was not approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

"Sabi nila, kung magkakaroon ng amendments later, then there will be a special appropriation for it," he added.

Talk about charter change circulated after some supporters of President Aquino launched a campaign online for his second term.

Aquino on Wednesday said he was considering constitutional changes, including adjustment of term limits for officials that might allow him to serve a second 6-year term, as well as clipping the powers of the Supreme Court.

The 1987 Constitution limits Aquino, elected in 2010, to a single six-year term. The restriction was born of the country's experience of martial law under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled for more than two decades.

Why President Aquino’s hint of a second term is raising hell
August 15, 2014 · 186 Comments  Commentary by Raďssa Robles BLOG


Mrs. J. Binay                Mrs. Mar Roxas

And the First Lady factor


by Raďssa Robles

How are we to respond to President Benigno Aquino coyly hinting he’s open to a (currently unconstitutional) second term?

Why, with a smile and a “No, thank you.”

Let’s have political succession. Not an amendment to the 1987 Constitution.

Before I explain why, let me share with you my conversation yesterday with Mel Sta. Maria, Dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law who scooped us all in the media with his interview with PNoy.

I wanted to know whether Aquino’s surprise revelation that he was open to a charter change and a second term had been scripted. I asked Dean Sta. Maria whether he had been required to submit all his questions prior to the interview . In short, whether PNoy’s answer was crafted beforehand.

Sta. Maria told me,
“I gave questions in advance excluding that.”

“That” referred to the question on whether PNoy was open to amending the Constitution, including removing the six-year presidential term limit.

During the interview Sta. Maria sneaked in the question:
“Sarado ba kayo sa pag-aamyenda ng Constitution hanggang ngayon?” (Are you still closed to amending the Constitution until now?)

And PNoy’s surprising reply was -
“Bago nito, bago nangyari lahat ng ito, sarado….aminado ako (Before all these things happened, I was closed to it, I admit that).”

“Pero ngayon, napapag-isip ako talaga… yung tinatawag na judicial reach (But now, I’m seriously rethinking things. Because of the judicial reach.)”

Dean Sta. Maria then followed that up by asking whether this meant Aquino was also open to another six-year term as president. The President replied:

“Nung pinasukan ko ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years…Ngayon, after having said that, syempre ang mga boss ko, kelangan kong pakinggan ‘yon.” (When I first got into this, I noted, one term of six years. Now, after having said that, of course my bosses, I have to listen to them, meaning the people).

“Hindi naman ibig sabihin…na automatic na hahabol pa ako na magkaroon pa ako ng dagdag dito, ‘no?” (That doesn’t automatically mean I’ll be chasing after another term, right?)

Aquino’s answers have set off a firestorm of speculation with audible gnashing of teeth in one end, and jubilant high-fives in another.

For my part, I think Aquino’s answers are mere political flirtation. At least for now. His way of telling his followers – if you want me, vote my anointed.

However, if people mount a serious attempt to encourage him to change the Constitution so he can run again – say, with that magical number of one million signatures – then PNoy and the Liberal Party might be sorely tempted.

Please don’t encourage him and the Liberal Party. It will not be good for our democracy.

For a democracy to work institutions have to be built, including the orderly process of handing over power from one leader to the next, from one generation to the next.

All Philippine presidents after Corazon Aquino have tried to amend the Constitution to give themselves a second life as president. The most serious challenges were mounted by President Fidel Ramos with “Pirma” and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with her ConCom (Constitutional Commission).

Arroyo’s ConCom was so alarming that it prompted me to write a 3-part series on the issue for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

I am a constitutionalist at heart. So those who accuse me of belittling the Constitution over DAP (the Disbursement Acceleration Program) do not know what they are talking about. I suggest they read my series which is now hosted in hotmanila.ph:

Cha-cha or dictator’s waltz? Part 1 of 3

Following a dictator’s playbook

The Supreme Court has the ball


But let’s go back to why PNoy says he’s suddenly open to constitutional amendments.

This statement comes on the heels of another private poll survey showing Vice-President Jejomar Binay way ahead of LP candidate Mar Roxas. If elections were held today, Binay will trounce Roxas.

That there seems to be no viable LP alternative right now to President Aquino is a testament to the higher standards he has set for that post. And also a sign of weakness of the Liberal Party and our overall alleged multi-party system.

Let me share with you my thoughts on this matter, gathered from years of covering politics. PNoy’s government is the closest to a party government I have seen since democracy was restored in 1986. Five key cabinet portfolios are held by LP officials:

* Budget – Florencio Abad; Interior and Local Governments – Mar Roxas; Agriculture – Proceso Alcala and Francis Pangilinan; Transport and Communications – Joseph Abaya; Energy – Jericho Petilla

In addition, two LP officials hold the reins in Congress: House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

But while LP officials are busy running government they’ve neglected to grow their own party and push other leaders to the national stage so that they can too shine and become the future champions. Face it. Political parties need to build up leaders the way TV networks build up their stars. Or maybe I’m using the wrong analogy…

The situation is worse with other political parties.

The United Nationalist Alliance or political opposition is mainly held together by two dynasties – that of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. They are more intent in shoring up the political fortunes of their children than in building up genuine political parties.

The Nacionalista Party is in a somewhat better position than UNA because of billionaire businessman Manny Villar who acquired the party like a franchise. When he bought the “White House” mansion of the late Vice-President Salvador “Doy” Laurel, the party was apparently part of the deal.

But let’s go back to the LP and its lack of a leader to succeed Aquino.

President Aquino and the LP are trying to push Mar Roxas as his successor but survey after survey shows the people are not biting.

Why not? Is it the packaging? Is it because he comes across as second best?

On the face of it, Mar Roxas has the intellectual credentials to run a complex government in the 21st century. He is Wharton-educated. He was once an investment banker who put together successful deals.

Between Senator Bongbong Marcos and Mar Roxas (both are from Wharton), Bongbong seems to have more political traction because of Imelda Marcos and the fabulous fortune in stolen loot promised by the family to the poor if another Marcos makes it to Malacańang Palace.

But let’s face it, Mar Roxas is not exciting. The majority who are poor cannot relate to him, perhaps because he lacks a believable narrative for them. He hasn’t told them who he really is. He pretends to be what he is not -

And people can see through all that.

Of course, Noynoy Aquino isn’t exactly Mister Electric Personality either but not only does he have the mantle bestowed by Cory, I think the people sense he is sincere and honest.

People still don’t know what to make of Mar Roxas.

The reality is that Mar Roxas belongs to a very, very rich clan. His father was politically down-trodden by Marcos. But his family built the first shopping complex in the country. His clan opened the first indoor entertainment center, the Araneta Coliseum, where one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, made a stunning comeback. In other words, the family made boxing history.

Also, Mar Roxas was an overseas Filipino living in New York for over a decade. He cooked his own meals, he lived his own life.

When he returned to fill in his brother’s political shoes he brought home ideas strange to his class. Three of them have stuck in my mind.

Mar Roxas told me back in my 1999 interview with him that he hoped to see “feudalistic patronage mechanisms” replaced with a more people-empowered political environment.

Second, he said that as a congressman, he had tried to depoliticize state spending on education by getting a law approved that made student population the basis for the size of funding. This was intended to break the practice of tying school spending with whether an area was an opposition or ruling party bailiwick.

Third, he tried to make pork work by cajoling and threatening the governor, mayors, fellow Capiz congressmen, and barangay leaders into pooling their pork funds together and agreeing together on a set of infrastructure priorities. For starters, he threw in his entire pork barrel fund into the investment pool.

I think those were wonderfully innovative ideas. Problem is, the poor have never been told that.

And Mar Roxas couched his innovation in such boring language. For instance, he called the pooled pork the “Consolidated Planning Process.”

PNoy and Mar Roxas actually belong to the same social class but PNoy managed to overcome that political barrier with the powerful narrative of a father’s assassination, followed by a mother’s sacrifice and death.

Perhaps Mar Roxas could consider, if he dares, the following narrative: One big problem the Philippines faces today is the control of the country’s economy by a few elite families.

Can Mar Roxas be a traitor to his class and go against his class’ interests? Or can Mar Roxas strike a deal with his class by making it find ways to be more inclusive of the rest of society especially the poor in their business deals?

Frankly, I don’t know.

Last Wednesday, after a press briefing conducted by Budget Secretary Butch Abad for members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), the talk naturally turned to politics.

Abad wanted to know why Mar Roxas did not seem to click with the people.

I offered two possible reasons: Mar Roxas himself and his wife Korina Sanchez.

I told Abad that Mar Roxas did not seem to be the same person I interviewed back in 1999. He was trying too hard to make a good impression. He was not coming across as sincere.

Korina Sanchez

And then there’s Korina Sanchez – probably one of a handful of prominent female personalities who have opted to keep using her maiden name after marriage. There is no law against that, by the way, but very few married women can get away with it.

I have met Korina on previous coverages and she was a pleasant person every time. However, I got a different feedback from some of Mar Roxas’ Liberal Party mates as well as those who accompanied him during the 2010 electoral campaign.

For instance, in one sortie at a public market in Mindanao, instead of wooing voters Korina managed to turn them off because she appeared aloof. She did not shake hands the way other politicians’ wives did. The description given to me was that she “acted like a dońa.”

Korina Sanchez appears to be well-received when she undertakes her own outreach programs in the provinces. Why does she elicit such a negative reaction as Mar Roxas’ wife?

I have puzzled over this phenomenon: Why is it that Korina Sanchez’ strong personality clicks as a news reader but not as the wife of a high-profile politician? Do voters still expect wives of politicians to stay in the background, look demure and simply cut ribbons?

This is something that Mar Roxas and his wife will have to thresh out between the two of them.

When I told Secretary Abad that, he blurted out to me and Tress Martelino-Reyes of Nikkei news agency – “Which one would you rather have as First Lady – Korina Sanchez or Elenita Binay?”

Mrs Binay is no shrinking violet either. Not the typical politician’s wife since she herself has been mayor of Makati City.

While Korina Sanchez still has to live down Anderson Cooper, Mrs Binay has to shake off corruption allegations.

I’m trying to look on the bright side in this issue. What we are having right now – comparing Binay and Roxas and considering other political candidates – is America’s equivalent of a political primary.

In the case of the Philippines, voters appear to be judging the 2016 presidential candidates through political surveys.

Because many of my Facebook friends and commenters on this site have been asking me to interpret for them the unfolding political events, I’ve decided to start writing pieces on the 2016 elections.

One of my next articles will try to answer the question – Is a Binay presidency inevitable?

Abangan.

Time for some politics, businessmen Commentary by Coco Alcuaz, ANC Posted at 08/18/2014 9:52 AM | Updated as of 08/18/2014 11:41 AM


by Coco Alcuaz, ANC

MANILA, Philippines - Again and again, President Aquino told the business sector and economists he didn't want to amend the foreign ownership limits in the constitution because he didn't want to “open up” the charter because some politicians might try to change political provisions.

Now, ironically, if he “opens up” the constitution to allow presidential re-election, economic amendments will move from the Speaker Belmonte highway, to an autobahn.

Unfortunately, it will also probably pave the way for lifting congressional and local government term limits. Assuming this Congress actually passes an anti-dynasty bill (another Belmonte promise), its effects will probably be offset by the removal of term limits. Worse, what if term limits are lifted and the anti-dynasty bill flounders? If the president is running for re-election, he may not have less political capital to spend on such a measure. And what if he loses the election? Has the president and his advisers have factored in that risk?

But while businessmen need to try to figure out and position for the future, they also have to, to use an old phrase we’ve read a lot this past week in Robin Williams obits: Carpe diem. Seize the day.

If the president is really running for re-election, and this is not just some gambit to stave off "lame duck-ness," this could be the business sector’s opening to get what they want from him. If his administration has been cleaner than some previous ones, it will need campaign fund donations. And while the business sector itself has few votes, it has great influence. Trade these for some action or strong pledges. Sounds like the “transactional politics” the previous government was criticized with? Sounds like politics to me.

Based on the letter local and foreign business groups sent the President before SONA, here’s their “Dirty Dozen”:

* -- FOI Law
-- Agri roadmap
-- Mining taxes that will keep/make the country’s mining industry “competitive”; in other words, not the ones the government plans to propose to Congress after at least two years of work
-- Airport: a decision re: NAIA, Clark and a “third airport”
-- NLEX-SLEX connector road: Expedite the connector road projects; Metro Pacific’s would ease congestion in Manila’s port and roads
-- Shift some cargo to Batangas and Subic, which would probably require investments and incentives
-- EPIRA: “full and proper implementation,” not amendment
-- Energy roadmap
-- DOE and ERC: “Capable, proactive, visionary staff”
-- Foreign ownership restrictions: loosen
-- Customs modernization and tariff act
-- Cabinet-level anti-smuggling committee

The business community says the government is much cleaner than the previous ones, and says it's very thankful for that. But they bewail the perceived lack of planning or urgency that they think has contributed to our electricity, rail, airport, seaport and road problems.

Take the connector road project of Manuel Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific. While Ramon Ang’s San Miguel is quickly building the other connector road project, this one has been delayed by the government, in the words of Susan Roces, “not once, but twice.”

And this is the connector road that would link Manila’s ports to Skyway, bypassing Manila’s truck bans, and from there to Calabarzon, the country’s top manufacturing and export region.

The project started as an unsolicited proposal. This was approved by NEDA in January 2013, setting the stage for a Swiss Challenge, a kind of bidding meant to ensure a project isn’t overpriced. But then government-owned PNCC wanted in, saying it had the right to build such a project based on its Marcos-era charter. So Metro Pac made agreed to make it a joint venture with PNCC. Then last month, DOJ says Metro Pac can’t do that, and should revert to unsolicited proposal mode plus Swiss Challenge. In the meantime, relief for importers and exporters and the rest of us has been delayed a year and a half, and counting.

(Metro Pacific has a similar experience with SCTEX. True, it was “awarded” the SCTEX concession on June 9, 2010, just three weeks before President Arroyo stepped down, even if a final concession agreement was still being negotiated (see “The Seven Deadly Deals” by Roel Landingin, published by Newsbreak). But the Aquino administration took over the negotiations and signed in July 2011. Three years later, Metro Pac hasn’t taken over. Because the government renegotiated again, and again, then, earlier this year, after the three renegotiations, says the project needs to go through... a Swiss Challenge.)

There is a line between the government officials wanting to ensure the state gets a good, clean deal, and government officials being so paralyzed by fear of a corruption case, and lacking confidence in their negotiations, or NEDA’s vetting, that they keep renegotiating or ordering a Swiss Challenge. I’m not saying the fear is unfounded. But it’s costing us.

If the president is really running for re-election, the business sector must decide which of their “dirty dozen” and send the President a new letter, maybe privately. Because there’s just till mid- to late next year and if they ask for everything, they may get nothing till after June 30, 2016. Or, if we’re unlucky, 2022.

----
Coco Alcuaz is business news head at ANC. He’s @cocoalcuaz on Twitter.

Depression by Tin Bartolome ABS-CBN OPINION BLOGS Posted at 08/15/2014 10:13 PM | Updated as of 08/15/2014 10:13 PM

Like the carpenters who have no homes of their own, the farmers who never have enough on the table to eat or the waiters who have never tried the food they serve, Robin Williams probably lacked what he so generously gave viewers: inspiration, laughter and assurance that somebody understood what he was going through.

An Irony

Having followed the series "Mork and Mindy" in my youth, laughed at "Good Morning, Vietnam," shed tears as I watched "The Bicentennial Man" and "Mrs. Doubtfire," held my breath when "Hook" took Peter’s children, and at each turn they took on the "Jumanji" board and was inspired by "Good Will Hunting" and "Dead Poets’ Society," I felt sad when I first heard the news of his death—and sadder still when I found out how he died. To hear that someone who has consistently brought happiness and inspiration to people he did not even know can be disconcerting.

There have been times when I felt sad without knowing why. I would wake up in tears, not remembering what I dreamt about. I guess it was hormonal. I always thought we Filipinos are so resilient that few of us really get depressed. In fact, a 2012 CNN report ranked the Philippines 8th among the happiest countries in the world. But some say otherwise.

Depression and Suicide

An October 12, 2012 post by Ilda on Get Real Philippines the 2012 World Happiness Report ranked the Philippines 103rd among 155 countries, making it one of Southeast Asia’s least happy.

The same post said that 2011 data from the World Health Organization says that the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia and that there are 93 suicides for every 100,000 Filipinos.

The World Happiness Report was commissioned by the United Nations Conference on Happiness and comes out every year. The research is done by the Earth Institute of Columbia University.

“Woeful Suicide,” an article on the Department of Health website cited a 2004 World Health Organization study as saying that the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia. Over 4.5 million cases of depression were reported—meaning 3 percent of all Filipinos were “clinically diagnosed as depressed”.

The study also said that of 90 Filipinos suffering from depression, only a third seek help. A third will just bear the symptoms while the rest would not even know they are depressed.

* SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) explains the link between depression and suicide:

"As depression deepens and takes over the body and mind, the pain of depression often becomes overwhelming. The chemical imbalance and deep despair can lead the brain to try and find ways to end the pain. This is when suicidal thinking begins. Depressive illnesses can distort thinking such that a person can’t think clearly or rationally. The illness can cause thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness, which may lead to suicidal thoughts."

There is Hope… Always!

The DOH article mentioned earlier said that a 2007 survey showed that of 900 teenagers, 15 tried to take their own lives. It further enumerated suicides it called “high profile” cases and pointed out that many others remain unreported for different reasons.

A study made between 1974 and 2005 by the University of Bristol’s Maria Theresa Redaniel and David Gunndell along with May Antonnette Lebanan-Dalida of the University of the Philippines-Manila revealed that more men committed suicide than women, and was relatively more common among adolescents and young adults, unlike in other countries where suicide rates are higher among older people.

A 2012 Philippine Daily Inquirer article noted that suicides aged 24 or younger have increased in the past 21 years. Citing a survey of 2008-2009 hospital and police records, the same article said that the majority of the 300 or so cases happened at home in summer, especially during the Lenten season.

According to Dr. Dinah Nadera, a psychiatrist and associate professor of the University of the Philippines, not all suicide cases were caused by depression, but that there are other factors like low income and unemployment, terminal illness and even marital situations that may push people to take their own lives.

Depression is a mental disorder that has claimed many lives. It needs to be openly discussed. It affects all kinds of people—rich and poor, celebrities and ordinary folk. It can be treated and even prevented. Perhaps, if depression had not claimed Robin Williams, he would have continued to inspire, evoke laughter and saved others in the same situation.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.


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