TRIBUNE EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL: NOY GETS A REALITY CHECK 

How do you puncture the make-believe world of progress of two successive presidents with the latest Palace occupant brandishing the attainment of investment grades from ratings firms and the imprisonment of its political rivals as signs of economic takeoff. The New York Times did something which Noynoy and his high-flying economic officials have never done, which was to go down to the streets and talk to people to see the real state of their daily lives. The conclusion arrived at in the news article is that the administration of Noynoy is a total failure in infrastructure buildup and his claimed inclusive growth is far from realization.
One of those interviewed was an ordinary Manila wage earner who had to spend two hours commuting to manage a five-mile stretch to go to work each day.

He usually arrives late for work but which has never been an issue with his superiors since they also usually do not arrive for work on time due to the daily vehicular traffic jams. Most Filipino workers accept the daily traffic problems as a way of life but it is a huge drain to the economy, according to the article. “The 2.2 million vehicles a day that grind away on Manila’s crumbling road system cost the country P876 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted energy,” it said quoting a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Had Noynoy been in touch with the sentiment of the public, he would have known from the start what will be the priorities of his administration.There are too many people going to work, too many vehicles and not enough roads and taking the train is like lining up to see a movie star. You wait for hours, the man on the street told NY Times.

That simple comment touched the basic problems of the overpopulated capital which are the lack or absence of government regulation on the use of vehicles on the road, the shortage of roads, inadequate planning of public infrastructure, and absence of improvement in state-owned mass transport systems. The observation of many that public infrastructure and services stagnated under Noynoy contradicts his claims that the P150-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) supposedly went to projects that stimulated the economy for the past three years.
The problem also is related to the failure of the country to attract foreign investments as fast as its neighbors can.
The report quoted Thierry Geiger, an economist with the World Economic Forum, saying, “year after year, when we ask business executives based in the country about the state of infrastructure, they say that it is improving. Yet it remains a major bottleneck. The article noted that infrastructure problems have surpassed corruption as the leading economic obstacle in the most recent World Economic Forum competitiveness report, which is based on responses from people doing business in the country. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay, Kiss of death?  

Associating with Vice President Jojo Binay and his new political party, United Nationalist Alliance, under which he made a run for the second highest post under the then coalition umbrella, would be a “kiss of death,” claimed a former Makati barangay chairman, one of Binay’s political detractors.
Quite frankly, the former Makati village chairman who is associated with losing local politicians of Makati, has no credibility in issuing such a statement given the fact that he and his allies engaged in Makati politics have been on a vote losing streak for years, while Binay has been on a vote winning streak, having elevated himself from Makati mayor to Vice President of the Republic.

It is probably more accurate to state that it would be a kiss of death for politicians allied with Noynoy and his Liberal Party come 2016, even if Binay drops in his popularity ratings due to the continued demonization by the three attack dogs of Noynoy in the Senate, mainly because the electorate is sick and tired of the Noynoy-LP administration and its failure to improve the lives of the masses, what with the skyrocketing prices of virtually all essential goods and services, along with the hypocritical anti corruption drive of Noynoy and his administration, where only their political foes are charged and jailed, while the crooks in the administration are protected by Noynoy and his LPs. It is fact that most of our politicians are political butterflies, being known for their instant turncoatism.

Whenever a presidential election is scheduled, such as the 2016 polls, those allied with the incumbent tenant in Malacañang today will quickly pledge allegiance to the newly proclaimed Palace tenant, and if Binay is it, then they definitely will dump the losing party and quickly pledge allegiance to the new president and his party. This happened during the time of Cory Aquino and the LDP, to Fidel Ramos and his Lakas, to Erap Estrada’s LAAMP, to Gloria’s Lakas, which suddenly had a resurrection after its death in 1998 whose members are today allied with the LP after Noynoy’s assumption to the presidency in 2010. The former members of the LDP, Lakas, LAAMP swore allegiance to Noynoy and LP, and that allegiance with the LP today will switch to whoever becomes president in 2016, and it won’t be an LP standard bearer — unless of course, Noynoy and his LPs resort again to massive electoral fraud through the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) which they resorted to in the 2010 presidential elections and the senatorial elections in 2013. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Bright spot

The pipe dream of “tuwid na daan” is now a thing of the past for it never gained traction and was not genuinely implemented. The oft-repeated phrase was only meant to be a rallying call of the President and his cast. It was not supposed to be taken seriously. Just this week we read in newspaper headlines that several close allies of the President have been charged with plunder and/or graft and corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman. The Philippine National Police (“PNP”) Chief Alan Purisima has a defective Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth and entered into a highly questionable construction of his “whitehouse.”

On the other hand, Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Jun Abaya is facing graft charges for alleged anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit 3. Before we forget, Secretary Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management has been rebuffed by the Supreme Court for the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and is also facing corruption charges. Aside from the corruption charges these government officials are facing, what is more telling is their seeming incompetence to deliver to the people the public service they deserve. I do not need to elaborate on this matter for my usual space would not be enough. MRT challenge? HuliDap? Scalawags in uniform?

Despite the repeated and numerous pleas for their resignation, the President stubbornly insists in retaining the “services” of his friends. Our woes will continue for two more years unless the so-called “hooligans” and “mob” decide to do something drastic about it.Our legislators are no different. Most of them have received DAP funds for helping Malacañang in its (reform?) agenda. They are now sheepishly quiet (either they are afraid to be exposed or are being threatened to be) or have transformed themselves by design into attack dogs set to destroy the political opposition to cover their own malfeasance while the rest are just intently waiting for the right time to speak up and jump to the other side of the political fence. The Supreme Court (SC), on its part, is gingerly taking up and deciding legal issues of transcendental importance amid the executive’s veiled threats of impeachment against its members. A sword of Damocles is dangling over the justices’ heads. The Judicial Bar Council and SC were also surprisingly in a collision course due to conflict of views in the appointment of a controversial figure to the vacant seat in the high tribunal.*READ MORE...

ALSO: A Senate of threats 

The Senate blue ribbon sub-committee, chaired by Sen. Koko Pimentel and assisted by two of Noynoy’s attack dogs, Senators AntonioTrillanes and Alan Cayetano, has threatened to cite the Vice President, Jojo Binay, and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay not just with contempt but also to order their arrest for having snubbed the Senate hearing, with no possibility of their attending the hearing, even if summoned. Mayor Binay pointed out that the Senate has no jurisdiction over the investigation while the VP said he had already replied to charges made by the criminal-witnesses of the yellow ribbon panel. If the threat will be implemented by the sub-committee, it is certain that this would be elevated by the Binays before the high court in a case where the Senate panel will likely lose.

The reason lies in the fact that the Supreme Court, in an earlier legal and constitutional issue similar to the present one already had ruled on this, with a decision that in gist, stated that the Senate blue ribbon committee had no jurisdiction over a case which is already being investigated by the Ombudsman, apart from the fact that no inquiry can be held which is not in aid of legislation. * In both counts, the Senate sub-committee certainly loses out since the inquiry on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall II and Parking Building is clearly not in aid of legislation as the hearing is being used to demonize the VP and the Binay family in aid of election, what with the attack dogs and their self-admitted crooks for witnesses having no proof to prop up their obviously perjured testimonies.

For another, the plunder complaints against the Binays are already being investigated by the Ombudsman, which now makes it clear that the Senate panel has no jurisdiction over the Binays through its inquiry. But if the trio of Pimentel, Cayetano and Trillanes insist on even citing the Binays for contempt on their no-show in the Senate and have them detained in the Senate, or if they go even further by ordering their arrest, it is almost certain that not only the Makati constituents of the Binays, but also the general public, will rise in anger against the Senate as an institution, not just for abusing its discretion and authority, but also for its clear its disrespect of the Office of the Vice President, and its illegal foray into the executive department. * READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Calm before the storm’  

The thought of Mayon Volcano erupting anew worries me. Having spent my first 16 years in Albay, growing up at the foot of this perfect cone, so to speak, I had experienced its rumblings and grumblings, but thankfully never its full-blown wrath. The last “big one” took place a long time ago, leaving only a church spire to mark its dangerous path. Thousands perished in that quake, and the tourist spot that is now Cagsawa Ruins serves to remind us of nature’s power.
Mayon’s past eruptions had always left a mark on Albay. Giant rocks were a normal sight for me whenever we made our way to Sto. Domingo, where my mother’s side of the family hailed. My father, who grew up in Aklan, would always regale us with stories of the province he had adopted after they got married.

Mayon, a constant sight in childhood, only became a true beauty in my eyes after I had lived away from her presence for over two decades. And every time she rumbled, I would pay attention, not only because members of my family still live in the region, but because I hate the thought of her losing that perfection. The past few days had revealed disturbing news. Although Mayon Volcano released less steam last Monday, it may still erupt an y time, warned the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). This imminent eruption feels like how I am seeing our country’s simmering issues — recognized but unresolved for a long time now. Just last Monday, rallyists gathered in Manila for the Martial Law anniversary. It had been 40+ years since Marcos declared his iron rule, yet human rights victims are still raging against unfinished business.

It is the same with the perennial challenges we face. Typhoons have battered our country year after year, for instance, and the last few ones have wrought more damage than we could have imagined. What the latest tropical storm, “Mario,” showed us is that our problems are still here, and moreover, it doesn’t take the strongest calamity to bare our continued weaknesses. Because of the flooding from that typhoon, attention had veered from corruption scandals under investigation to the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metro Manila Development Authority flood control projects, which some sectors say are only half-accounted for. Speaking of accounting, the Department of Social Welfare and Development had also recently come under fire for “negligence and incompetence” in relation to the “Yolanda” aid. Some reports reveal that the Commission on Audit had found “that close to P2.8 million worth of relief for survivors of typhoon Yolanda were lost to spoilage and that P58 million worth of other supplies were spoiled or wasted due to improper storage.” * READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Noy gets a reality check

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 (TRIBUNE) Written by Tribune Editorial - How do you puncture the make-believe world of progress of two successive presidents with the latest Palace occupant brandishing the attainment of investment grades from ratings firms and the imprisonment of its political rivals as signs of economic takeoff.

The New York Times did something which Noynoy and his high-flying economic officials have never done, which was to go down to the streets and talk to people to see the real state of their daily lives.

The conclusion arrived at in the news article is that the administration of Noynoy is a total failure in infrastructure buildup and his claimed inclusive growth is far from realization.

One of those interviewed was an ordinary Manila wage earner who had to spend two hours commuting to manage a five-mile stretch to go to work each day.

He usually arrives late for work but which has never been an issue with his superiors since they also usually do not arrive for work on time due to the daily vehicular traffic jams.

Most Filipino workers accept the daily traffic problems as a way of life but it is a huge drain to the economy, according to the article.

“The 2.2 million vehicles a day that grind away on Manila’s crumbling road system cost the country P876 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted energy,” it said quoting a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Had Noynoy been in touch with the sentiment of the public, he would have known from the start what will be the priorities of his administration.

There are too many people going to work, too many vehicles and not enough roads and taking the train is like lining up to see a movie star. You wait for hours, the man on the street told NY Times.

That simple comment touched the basic problems of the overpopulated capital which are the lack or absence of government regulation on the use of vehicles on the road, the shortage of roads, inadequate planning of public infrastructure, and absence of improvement in state-owned mass transport systems.

The observation of many that public infrastructure and services stagnated under Noynoy contradicts his claims that the P150-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) supposedly went to projects that stimulated the economy for the past three years.

The problem also is related to the failure of the country to attract foreign investments as fast as its neighbors can.
The report quoted Thierry Geiger, an economist with the World Economic Forum, saying, “year after year, when we ask business executives based in the country about the state of infrastructure, they say that it is improving. Yet it remains a major bottleneck.

The article noted that infrastructure problems have surpassed corruption as the leading economic obstacle in the most recent World Economic Forum competitiveness report, which is based on responses from people doing business in the country.

* It added Manila is plagued by power failures, chronic water shortages, an antiquated telecommunications system, deteriorating roads and bridges and a subpar airport.

“Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, for example, is often featured in lists of the world’s worst airports."

In 2011, 2012 and again this year, parts of the airport’s ceiling collapsed, and recently the air-conditioning failed, leaving international travelers sweltering.”

It added many parts of the Philippines experience regular blackouts, but in the past few months the power failures have hit Manila as well.

It is a fact that though power supply in the country is unreliable, it is also among the most expensive in Southeast Asia.

“In Metro Manila communities where we work, if there is no running water, then the women and the children have to fetch the water,” another man on the street said.

“The main thrust of the infrastructure program involves public-private partnerships. The government has identified 57 projects, including a natural gas pipeline, airport improvements around the country, highways in Manila and surrounding areas and upgrades to the capital city’s commuter train system. Of those, none have broken ground,” according to the report.

The report painted a very different reality from the fantasy world of progress which Noynoy claimed was the result of his policy on good governance.

It was also a report with which majority of Filipinos identify.

Kiss of death? Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00



Associating with Vice President Jojo Binay and his new political party, United Nationalist Alliance, under which he made a run for the second highest post under the then coalition umbrella, would be a “kiss of death,” claimed a former Makati barangay chairman, one of Binay’s political detractors.

Quite frankly, the former Makati village chairman who is associated with losing local politicians of Makati, has no credibility in issuing such a statement given the fact that he and his allies engaged in Makati politics have been on a vote losing streak for years, while Binay has been on a vote winning streak, having elevated himself from Makati mayor to Vice President of the Republic.

It is probably more accurate to state that it would be a kiss of death for politicians allied with Noynoy and his Liberal Party come 2016, even if Binay drops in his popularity ratings due to the continued demonization by the three attack dogs of Noynoy in the Senate, mainly because the electorate is sick and tired of the Noynoy-LP administration and its failure to improve the lives of the masses, what with the skyrocketing prices of virtually all essential goods and services, along with the hypocritical anti corruption drive of Noynoy and his administration, where only their political foes are charged and jailed, while the crooks in the administration are protected by Noynoy and his LPs.

It is fact that most of our politicians are political butterflies, being known for their instant turncoatism. Whenever a presidential election is scheduled, such as the 2016 polls, those allied with the incumbent tenant in Malacañang today will quickly pledge allegiance to the newly proclaimed Palace tenant, and if Binay is it, then they definitely will dump the losing party and quickly pledge allegiance to the new president and his party.

This happened during the time of Cory Aquino and the LDP, to Fidel Ramos and his Lakas, to Erap Estrada’s LAAMP, to Gloria’s Lakas, which suddenly had a resurrection after its death in 1998 whose members are today allied with the LP after Noynoy’s assumption to the presidency in 2010.

The former members of the LDP, Lakas, LAAMP swore allegiance to Noynoy and LP, and that allegiance with the LP today will switch to whoever becomes president in 2016, and it won’t be an LP standard bearer — unless of course, Noynoy and his LPs resort again to massive electoral fraud through the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) which they resorted to in the 2010 presidential elections and the senatorial elections in 2013.

* But if they do so again, in 2016, there’s no telling how the cheated electorate will take to yet another fraudulent PCOS fueled polls.

The fact alone that Noynoy’s attack dogs in the Senate and their self-confessed criminals taken in by these three senators as witnesses and who are readily given immunity by Noynoys lapdog, Leila de Lima who immediately places them under the Witness Protection Program for their role as Binay’s demonizers, only points to the fact that they — especially the three senators who continue with their yellow sub-committee hearings to destroy the VP — show that they see Binay as a threat to their political ambitions, and their continued enjoyment of power and position, which they will likely lose if the opposition wins, with Binay as the new Malacañang tenant.

As for the LP as a political party, its membership will likely whittle down to the number of passengers in a Volkswagen Beetle, which it was before 2010.

Would these current efforts to destroy Binay even be done if Binay were on a losing streak as the strongest presidential bet at this time?

So what basis does the former Makati Barangay chairman, who can’t even win a higher local post, have, in claiming that associating with Binay is a kiss of death?

Bright spot Written by Atty.Rico Paolo R. Quicho Sunday, 28 September 2014 00:00



The pipe dream of “tuwid na daan” is now a thing of the past for it never gained traction and was not genuinely implemented. The oft-repeated phrase was only meant to be a rallying call of the President and his cast. It was not supposed to be taken seriously. Just this week we read in newspaper headlines that several close allies of the President have been charged with plunder and/or graft and corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman. The Philippine National Police (“PNP”) Chief Alan Purisima has a defective Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth and entered into a highly questionable construction of his “whitehouse.”

On the other hand, Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) Secretary Jun Abaya is facing graft charges for alleged anomalous maintenance contract for the Metro Rail Transit 3. Before we forget, Secretary Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management has been rebuffed by the Supreme Court for the illegal Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and is also facing corruption charges. Aside from the corruption charges these government officials are facing, what is more telling is their seeming incompetence to deliver to the people the public service they deserve. I do not need to elaborate on this matter for my usual space would not be enough. MRT challenge? HuliDap? Scalawags in uniform?

Despite the repeated and numerous pleas for their resignation, the President stubbornly insists in retaining the “services” of his friends. Our woes will continue for two more years unless the so-called “hooligans” and “mob” decide to do something drastic about it.

Our legislators are no different. Most of them have received DAP funds for helping Malacañang in its (reform?) agenda. They are now sheepishly quiet (either they are afraid to be exposed or are being threatened to be) or have transformed themselves by design into attack dogs set to destroy the political opposition to cover their own malfeasance while the rest are just intently waiting for the right time to speak up and jump to the other side of the political fence. The Supreme Court (SC), on its part, is gingerly taking up and deciding legal issues of transcendental importance amid the executive’s veiled threats of impeachment against its members. A sword of Damocles is dangling over the justices’ heads. The Judicial Bar Council and SC were also surprisingly in a collision course due to conflict of views in the appointment of a controversial figure to the vacant seat in the high tribunal.

* The spotlight would soon be back on the SC when it decides on the motion for reconsideration filed regarding its decision on the unconstitutionality of the DAP and the pending strong challenge to the jurisdiction of the Senate Blue committee.

But all is not lost in our government. Notwithstanding the failure of Malacañang and its allies to serve their constituency, the hardworking men and women in the government service are still performing their governmental tasks with pride and honor. This month, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) under the leadership of Chairman Francisco Duque III is commemorating the 114th Philippine Civil Service Anniversary to celebrate the heroism of the country’s state employees. Under Chairman Duque’s stewardship, the CSC received three Silver Governance Trailblazer Awards in the Performance Governance System. It also received four ISO 9001:2008 certifications in its core processes: cases adjudication, exams administration, appointments processing, and external training services.

There are two other services, the public sector union accreditation and Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) registration that are now recommended for certification. Chairman Duque crafted the strategy map that defined the course of the CSC in its governance transformation journey.

The CSC has maintained a high standard of service excellence and demonstrated exemplary professionalism for all government workers to follow.

More importantly, the CSC is the only truly “independent” constitutional commission not being used to peddle lies against political personalities. Certainly, not under Chairman Duque’s watch. Doc Pincoy’s shining record in public service is worth emulating. He is one of the few government officials that our country has who still breathe and live the constitutional dictum that, “public office is a public trust.”

And, he has performed his job to the best of his ability without any fanfare.

Recently, he was named People Manager of the Year in Public Sector at the 38th People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) Awards held on Sept. 18 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City. It was the first time for PMAP to recognize a public sector manager on a national official level and Doc Pincoy was the first to receive this prestigious award. With all the political noise and distraction that is happening in our country now, it is good to know that we can still rely on the numerous civil service employees around the country to deliver the basic services the public yearns for. Of course, there is still a lot room for improvement. We wish Doc Pincoy and all the professional men and women of the CSC to continue trailblazing the government service to new heights.

Do not be disheartened if the politicians would fail to do their part. The people are proud of you. Doc Pincoy’s term would soon end but his accomplishments will remain sterling and unmatched.

I still hope to see him continue his vision for the country. I still hope that he continues inspiring and sharing his kind of leadership and service to the less fortunate. But, knowing him, he may have something even better up his sleeves.

A Senate of threats Written by Ninez Cacho-Olivares Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00

The Senate blue ribbon sub-committee, chaired by Sen. Koko Pimentel and assisted by two of Noynoy’s attack dogs, Senators AntonioTrillanes and Alan Cayetano, has threatened to cite the Vice President, Jojo Binay, and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay not just with contempt but also to order their arrest for having snubbed the Senate hearing, with no possibility of their attending the hearing, even if summoned.

Mayor Binay pointed out that the Senate has no jurisdiction over the investigation while the VP said he had already replied to charges made by the criminal-witnesses of the yellow ribbon panel.

If the threat will be implemented by the sub-committee, it is certain that this would be elevated by the Binays before the high court in a case where the Senate panel will likely lose.

The reason lies in the fact that the Supreme Court, in an earlier legal and constitutional issue similar to the present one already had ruled on this, with a decision that in gist, stated that the Senate blue ribbon committee had no jurisdiction over a case which is already being investigated by the Ombudsman, apart from the fact that no inquiry can be held which is not in aid of legislation.

In both counts, the Senate sub-committee certainly loses out since the inquiry on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall II and Parking Building is clearly not in aid of legislation as the hearing is being used to demonize the VP and the Binay family in aid of election, what with the attack dogs and their self-admitted crooks for witnesses having no proof to prop up their obviously perjured testimonies.

For another, the plunder complaints against the Binays are already being investigated by the Ombudsman, which now makes it clear that the Senate panel has no jurisdiction over the Binays through its inquiry.

But if the trio of Pimentel, Cayetano and Trillanes insist on even citing the Binays for contempt on their no-show in the Senate and have them detained in the Senate, or if they go even further by ordering their arrest, it is almost certain that not only the Makati constituents of the Binays, but also the general public, will rise in anger against the Senate as an institution, not just for abusing its discretion and authority, but also for its clear its disrespect of the Office of the Vice President, and its illegal foray into the executive department.

* As for Junjun Binay, he certainly will have a good case he will be lodging before the high court, which would likely cut down to size the abusive Senate blue ribbon committee and completely destroy the public image of the three attack dogs of Noynoy.

The case could prove to be an interesting one especially if the high court upholds its past ruling, given that this would also put a stop to such politically-driven Senate inquiries that show absolutely no respect for resource persons and witnesses.

What the Senate yellow ribbon sub-panel is doing in conducting its investigation against the Binays is no different from the way the Senate yellow ribbon committee headed by Sen. TG Guingona had conducted its inquiry against the three opposition senators, whom the administration lapdogs in the Senate succeeded in having them arrested, charged and detained for plunder.

Still, while they succeeded in getting the three opposition leaders out of their way, the Senate as an institution also lost greatly the trust and confidence of the general public as the survey ratings have shown.

In this present inquiry and threats against the Binays, however, the Senate is likely not only to lose what little public respect and trust have been left in it, but also a big forthcoming loss before the court, which will likely clip the Senate powers of inquiry, just as the high court did, when it ruled against certain acts of the executive in its unconstitutional and illegal handling of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) issue.

The Senate and its inquisitors mat even be charged with bad faith, which can also see some of them charged and jailed, maybe not under this administration, but the next one.

After all, even today, there appears to be enough documents to prove many of these senator-allies’ misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund and DAP Funds.

‘Calm before the storm’ Written by Dinah S. Ventura Monday, 29 September 2014 00:00

The thought of Mayon Volcano erupting anew worries me. Having spent my first 16 years in Albay, growing up at the foot of this perfect cone, so to speak, I had experienced its rumblings and grumblings, but thankfully never its full-blown wrath.

The last “big one” took place a long time ago, leaving only a church spire to mark its dangerous path. Thousands perished in that quake, and the tourist spot that is now Cagsawa Ruins serves to remind us of nature’s power.

Mayon’s past eruptions had always left a mark on Albay. Giant rocks were a normal sight for me whenever we made our way to Sto. Domingo, where my mother’s side of the family hailed. My father, who grew up in Aklan, would always regale us with stories of the province he had adopted after they got married.

Mayon, a constant sight in childhood, only became a true beauty in my eyes after I had lived away from her presence for over two decades. And every time she rumbled, I would pay attention, not only because members of my family still live in the region, but because I hate the thought of her losing that perfection.

The past few days had revealed disturbing news. Although Mayon Volcano released less steam last Monday, it may still erupt any time, warned the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

This imminent eruption feels like how I am seeing our country’s simmering issues — recognized but unresolved for a long time now.

Just last Monday, rallyists gathered in Manila for the Martial Law anniversary. It had been 40+ years since Marcos declared his iron rule, yet human rights victims are still raging against unfinished business.

It is the same with the perennial challenges we face. Typhoons have battered our country year after year, for instance, and the last few ones have wrought more damage than we could have imagined. What the latest tropical storm, “Mario,” showed us is that our problems are still here, and moreover, it doesn’t take the strongest calamity to bare our continued weaknesses.

Because of the flooding from that typhoon, attention had veered from corruption scandals under investigation to the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Metro Manila Development Authority flood control projects, which some sectors say are only half-accounted for.

Speaking of accounting, the Department of Social Welfare and Development had also recently come under fire for “negligence and incompetence” in relation to the “Yolanda” aid. Some reports reveal that the Commission on Audit had found “that close to P2.8 million worth of relief for survivors of typhoon Yolanda were lost to spoilage and that P58 million worth of other supplies were spoiled or wasted due to improper storage.”

* To quote some more from the column of Val Abelgas: “Another party-list congressman — thank God for party lists — Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap, said that according to the CoA report, four other government agencies are holding on to a total of P1.58 in local and foreign cash donations ‘that are sitting in bank accounts instead of being distributed to the very people for whom the funds were donated.’

“The CoA report identified the other agencies as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, P620.39 million; Department of Public Works and Highways, P121.35 million; Department of Health, P67.98 million; and the Department of Interior and Local Government, P52.92 million. In the case of the DSWD, Hicap said, the donated funds even became ‘cash on hand” which the department can use for other purposes.’

The Budget department, as well, reportedly has some explaining to do for unaccounted billions of pesos. And now we hear about the chief of the Philippine National Police being urged to undergo a lifestyle check reportedly because of lavish properties. These, amid news of law enforcers being linked to organized crime and the President being off in foreign lands on millions of pesos’ budget.

It’s not surprising to hear rumblings and grumblings around, and I am not talking about Mayon Volcano.

We are obviously on the brink of change. It feels very much like we have a choice to continue to stagnate or fall off the edge to nowhere. If we want to achieve our goals as a nation (and I highly doubt if we are united in those goals at this point), then we should take all these problems/challenges/storms and look for real solutions. Instead of getting angry and squabbling, we can choose to look at each criticism as a challenge to do better.

Meanwhile, let us figure out who we can really trust at this crucial time in our history.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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