PHILSTAR EDITORIAL/OPINION

HEARING VOICES: DON'T LISTEN TO VOICES, JUST FOREGO REELECTION

OCT 7 --HEARING VOICES: There is nothing basically wrong with President Noynoy Aquino listening to the voice
of the people. In fact, he should be doing that more often, although he must make sure he is not just hearing voices in the dark or the whispers of a cabal holding him hostage. Also, after hearing the people’s voice with compelling clarity, he should heed it. After the latest survey showed that six in every 10 adult Filipinos are not in favor of President Aquino running again for the presidency in 2016 should the Constitution be amended to allow his reelection, he should move on from hearing to heeding the call.

Asked in the last survey if they favor President Aquino’s running again in 2016 if the Constitution were amended to allow his reelection, 62 percent of the respondents said No, while 38 percent said Yes. That should have been clear enough, but the President keeps muttering about wanting to listen some more to the voices. * * * ELECTIONS, NOT SURVEYS: The fact is that asking the Yes-or-No question in a survey is a non-binding concession to a president clutching at straws that he may yet hear even just the faintest hint of a clamor for his reelection. Surveys showing an overwhelming majority of respondents favoring reelection cannot subvert a clear constitutional ban against a follow-up term for a sitting president. *READ MORE...

ALSO Outstanding failure: Harness the youth  

OCT 7 --One outstanding failure of the Aquino administration is its failure to harness the youths’ potential for the country’s development. Majority of the Philippine population (54.3% of 107,668,231) consists of the youth. Up to now, no legislation has been passed to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and to give them a bigger role in national development. Underutilized young people incur significant economic costs as they are not being used to their full potential. By 2015, the total number of young Filipinos is expected to rise to 61 M; 28 M will be of working age, further boosting the supply of young people in the labor market.

With less than two years left in his six-year term, the other problem is Aquino’s refusal to infuse new ideas, harness younger members into his Cabinet. The 62 percent of voters who are against granting President Aquino a term extension are basically the poor, jobless and hungry Filipinos who have lost hope with this administration. It is sad that with so much money pumped into the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, no meaningful job creation programs were adapted. In effect, the DAP became a bigger Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), with major amounts released to lawmakers who funded the traditional projects with one added feature — the use of ghost non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Philippines finished 22nd overall among 45 participating nations, way behind powerhouse countries like Thailand (6th overall, 12-7-28), Malaysia (14th, 5-14-14), Singapore (15th, 5-6-13) and Indonesia (17th, 4-5-11), marking the country’s worst-ever finish in the sport since joining the competitions in 1951, with a 1-3-11 gold-silver-bronze medal haul in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Our basketball team finished seventh among Southeast Asian countries. After more than four years of the Aquino administration, our sports programs have gone downhill. * READ MORE...

ALSO: EDITORIAL - Criminal negligence  

OCT 13 --Like aircraft and ships, trains and railway systems need proper maintenance. In other countries, railway systems are monitored around the clock for glitches, and sufficient public funds are allocated for maintenance requirements. As in other countries, taxes in this country have been spent for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit and Light Railway Transit systems. The maintenance fees paid over the years to private companies have reached billions of pesos. Taxpayers have a right to demand how the money was spent, who received the money, and why commuters now face the prospect of having the MRT shut down pending a maintenance upgrade. Even with regular glitches, the MRT and LRT are almost always packed. With the usual traffic jams in Metro Manila aggravated by simultaneous public works projects and the congestion in the Port of Manila, the light railway services have become even more popular. While the train service itself is quick and traffic-free, however, passengers must wait in long lines for nearly an hour to get a ride.

The inadequacy of the service has been evident for some time. Instead of expanding the MRT and LRT lines, however, plans for any upgrade have become bogged down in red tape, paralyzing indecision and corruption scandals. The daang matuwid administration, quick to condemn and conclude guilt when it comes to the political opposition, trumpets the presumption of innocence when it comes to its officials who are under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for a multimillion-dollar sweetheart deal for MRT maintenance that was awarded to a group with links to the sacked MRT chief and the Liberal Party. President Aquino also seems to have relegated to the archives the recommendations of the Department of Justice on a $30-million extortion complaint involving a train supply contract for the MRT-3. The MRT mess betrays a lack of foresight, a cavalier attitude toward the provision of quality service to the public, and downright incompetence. If this catastrophe was also caused by corruption, it’s criminal negligence that calls for punishment.THIS IS THE FULL EDITORIAL

ALSO by Ana Marie Pamintuan: War survivor; DFA Chief's nightmares  

OCT 13 --When President Aquino travels overseas, the front rows on both sides of a plane aisle have two vacant seats. One is beside him, for the comfort of the Chief Executive. The other is beside Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, for the comfort – and safety – of other passengers. Del Rosario has recurring nightmares, and when he does, he can get violent in his sleep. Once, while seated on a plane, Del Rosario woke up to find himself tightly gripping his seatmate Bert Romulo, at the time the foreign secretary, by the shirt collar. Another time, the sleeping Del Rosario gave his seatmate a karate chop. The seatmate, a businessman, was shaken but unhurt. The nation’s top diplomat suspects that his nightmares, which include being kidnapped, stem from his ordeal during World War II. He and his sister nearly died at their family home in Sta. Mesa, Manila during the bombardment that obliterated nearly the entire city and left some 100,000 people dead. The five-year-old Del Rosario was left with a gaping hole in his skull. His three-year-old sister had a chunk of her back torn away.

Guerrillas found them but could not rush them to a hospital. Instead they were brought to the empty house of a neighbor who during the war was given refuge by the Del Rosario family when the Japanese were hunting him down – Albino SyCip, father of accounting and law firm founder Washington SyCip. There the Del Rosario siblings spent the night, bleeding as fighting continued around them. The next day in a Sta. Mesa hospital, Del Rosario sat quietly, too stupefied by the pandemonium and suffering around him to cry out in pain as a doctor stitched together his head, without anesthesia, using abaca fiber. To this day, Del Rosario says, he still remembers vividly the sights and smells in that hospital. His skull never fully grew back. Today there is a soft spot where the hole used to be in Del Rosario’s head. A few months ago an MRI scan showed shrapnel still floating around in his brain.

Asked by doctors whether the head trauma affected him, Del Rosario replied, “Sometimes my wife thinks I’m going crazy.” * * * The Chinese will probably agree, and they may wonder whether P-Noy has a similar hole in the head. The buzz is that Beijing has given up on improving relations with Manila under P-Noy and is instead waiting for him to “graduate” from the presidency before attempting to revive bilateral ties, which are currently in the ICU. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Jose Sison: Long shot; No more trace of 2010 silver lining 

OCT 13 --No matter how hard I try to look for that silver lining beyond our dark political clouds, I just cannot find any trace of it anymore. Right after we had the 2010 presidential elections, said silver lining seemed to be still glimmering behind those foreboding overcast political skies as we supposedly elected a reformist president who has been touted as “personally honest.” Indeed the hopes of a great majority of Filipinos were then rekindled as he promised to lead us to a daang matuwid towards a just, peaceful and prosperous society. Unfortunately, after four years in office, exactly the opposite of the simmering expectations we nurtured at that time is happening now. The silver lining has completely disappeared. Of course the drumbeaters and people around this President still insist that he is “personally honest.” But his decisions and actions simply say otherwise. Using public funds to influence members of Congress to do his bidding and backing up government officials who are his kabarkada, kaibigan o kabarilan but who have been obviously lying in explaining their newly acquired wealth, are definitely not the acts of a “personally honest” President.

And considering further that the leading contender aiming to succeed this president under our kind of dirty politics and flawed electoral processes also has some shady background, which he has not or cannot satisfactorily erase, the future of our country really looks grim if we continue with the present set-up. Obviously this is the reason for the calling and formation of a National Transformation Council (NTC) by a group of Filipino Catholics and other Christians as well as Muslims. The NTC which has already been successfully launched in Lipa and Cebu City has correctly assessed the dire situation of our country now and so its convenors are calling for a change in the kind of government we now have. And as an initial step they are asking the entire Aquino government to relinquish their posts. Under the present legal set up, their moves seem to be so radical and impractical as to be considered desperate. But we cannot really blame them for taking such desperate steps under our present seemingly desperate situation. This is indeed what we need today. We have to change our system of government. It may require a miracle but it can happen with our wholehearted cooperation and with strong faith. * READ MORE...

ALSO by Babes Romualdez: Terror and Ebola threat   

OCT 12 --Credible information on a potential terror threat to bomb Metro Manila has ostensibly been transmitted to local authorities by US intelligence agencies. But as might be expected, it is only now that we’re preparing for such an eventuality – being reactive instead of showing preparedness. The US Embassy has already warned its citizens in the country to be extremely cautious especially in crowded areas. Presumably, the main targets would be places like malls, markets and airports where more often than not security is a bit lax with guards just doing a cursory search on bags. Schools could become likely targets as well considering reports that some schools in Metro Manila have already received bomb threats. Not for anything but a lot of people are furious at what they perceive as “denial mode” from authorities who said they received no information about plans to bomb Metro Manila — despite the recent apprehension of three suspected bombers. Reports from several sources also indicate that the ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) has been actively recruiting students in Mindanao — and Intelligence information indicates that “test runs” are conducted to assess the readiness of new recruits.

Unfortunately, not many share the confidence of Malacañang about the ability of the PNP to thwart terror threats or to even “pre-empt any criminal activities” due to perceptions that the police are unreliable, with many of them implicated in criminal activities. The thing is — PNP Director General Alan Purisima is currently distracted by corruption issues. There is no substitute for vigilance and no excuse for complacency. Nowadays, one can never be too sure about the face of terror, because even innocuous looking people turn out to be terrorist operatives. Another major and serious concern is the health threat posed by the Ebola virus, with the US and Canadian authorities already conducting stricter screening measures in all their major airports. The global death toll is almost 3,900 with over 8,000 people infected — and there are fears that Ebola could spread to Spain and other European countries after confirmation that a Spanish nurse had been infected. World Bank chief Jim Kim has expressed disappointment over the international community’s insufficient response to the lethal virus, warning that the crisis could get worse. Hindsight always happens after the fact, and Kim is lamenting that more organized efforts could have been made for vigilant monitoring when the first cases were reported. *READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORTS HERE:

Don’t listen to voices, just forego reelection


By Federico D. Pascual JR

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual JR. - HEARING VOICES: There is nothing basically wrong with President Noynoy Aquino listening to the voice of the people. In fact, he should be doing that more often, although he must make sure he is not just hearing voices in the dark or the whispers of a cabal holding him hostage.

Also, after hearing the people’s voice with compelling clarity, he should heed it.

After the latest survey showed that six in every 10 adult Filipinos are not in favor of President Aquino running again for the presidency in 2016 should the Constitution be amended to allow his reelection, he should move on from hearing to heeding the call.

Asked in the last survey if they favor President Aquino’s running again in 2016 if the Constitution were amended to allow his reelection, 62 percent of the respondents said No, while 38 percent said Yes.

That should have been clear enough, but the President keeps muttering about wanting to listen some more to the voices.

* * *

ELECTIONS, NOT SURVEYS: The fact is that asking the Yes-or-No question in a survey is a non-binding concession to a president clutching at straws that he may yet hear even just the faintest hint of a clamor for his reelection.

Surveys showing an overwhelming majority of respondents favoring reelection cannot subvert a clear constitutional ban against a follow-up term for a sitting president.

* The reason is simple. Surveys, like the raising of hands in the assemblies of the bad old days of Marcosian martial rule, cannot take the place of honest elections in determining the democratic vote of the sovereign people.

* * *

2010 COVENANT: How can a survey be authoritative where only 1,200 respondents in a stratified population of 100 million are asked? To the skeptics, the sample looks too small and restricted to be representative of the total population.

With just 1,200 respondents, no representative voices were heard from many of the 1,490 towns and 144 cities scattered over more than 7,000 islands. Pollsters say modern scientific methods have overcome this limitation, but such assurance is not enough.

The Constitution and implementing laws have laid down the procedure whereby the true voice of the people is heard. The process calls for elections, with safeguards, to enable people to have their voice heard and their votes counted.

President Aquino should just respect the constitutional ban on any reelection and stick to the one-term covenant he voluntarily entered into in 2010.

If the Constitution is amended to allow a reelection, that new rule should apply prospectively to the next president elected in 2016, not to him.

* * *

INCOMPETENCE: The way the power picture is darkening, and with the usual slick operators salivating for the blackouts, it looks like it will be every man for himself next year unless consumers allow President Aquino to wield emergency powers in dealing with the looming crisis.

But before the lights go out and the rates shoot up, some people high up in government should be held responsible for the power rationing and the sharp rise in the cost of electricity generated from an improvised remedial system.

As far back as five years ago, everybody saw the power crisis coming — except the on-the-job trainees in Malacañang. Now the consuming public will pay very dearly for this incompetence.

* * *

CLARK MEASURES: Even such an enclave as the Clark Freeport in Pampanga is frantically preparing to generate or consolidate its own power supply.

Clark Freeport needs 95 megawatts of power to service its own requirements and that of its locators. Its extra supply is so thin that it may snap if any tripping occurs. A bigger buffer is needed to attract quality investors.

President and CEO Arthur P. Tugade of the Clark Development Corp. has been pushing several measures, including the putting up of additional generating capacities.

Clark is considering making itself a retail electricity supplier by entering into contracts and consolidating extra supply from nearby entities with generating units like the TIPCO paper mill, SM Clark and GNPower.

Tugade also seeks the reclassification of Clark’s 230-kilovolt substation from its status as connection line into a transmission asset so it could be taken over by NGCP, which is a more competent power manager than the CDC or the Bases Conversion Development Authority.

* * *

MORE POWER: Additionally, CDC has signed a 25-year lease with Enfinity, a Belgian renewable energy developer, for a solar power project to generate at least 10 megawatts to be passed on to the national grid.

Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources Inc. plans to lay out some 220,000 solar panels to beef up Clark Freezone supply when the Malampaya plant shuts down for maintenance in 2015. Listed as the 5th solar developer in the world, Enfinity pledges to invest P814 million and start operations in June 2015.

Tugade said CDC is about to conclude a deal with an American firm for waste-to-energy (WTE) power generation. It aims to provide “in plant” facility to its clients, planning to use trash as fuel without polluting the environment.

Its initial quote is at P6.20 per kwh plus P1 per kwh distribution rate. It said the net power cost of P7.20 per kwh will be the fixed rate for the entire lease period.

Partnering with BCDA and private firms like possibly Hanjin or Kepco, CDC is also considering putting up a coal-fired plant in Mariveles, Bataan, to generate up to 300 mw.

Harness the youth SEARCH FOR TRUTH By Ernesto M. Maceda (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 7, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Ernesto M. Maceda

One outstanding failure of the Aquino administration is its failure to harness the youths’ potential for the country’s development. Majority of the Philippine population (54.3% of 107,668,231) consists of the youth.

Up to now, no legislation has been passed to reform the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and to give them a bigger role in national development.

Underutilized young people incur significant economic costs as they are not being used to their full potential.

By 2015, the total number of young Filipinos is expected to rise to 61 M; 28 M will be of working age, further boosting the supply of young people in the labor market.

With less than two years left in his six-year term, the other problem is Aquino’s refusal to infuse new ideas, harness younger members into his Cabinet.

The 62 percent of voters who are against granting President Aquino a term extension are basically the poor, jobless and hungry Filipinos who have lost hope with this administration.

It is sad that with so much money pumped into the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds, no meaningful job creation programs were adapted.

In effect, the DAP became a bigger Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), with major amounts released to lawmakers who funded the traditional projects with one added feature — the use of ghost non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Philippines finished 22nd overall among 45 participating nations, way behind powerhouse countries like Thailand (6th overall, 12-7-28), Malaysia (14th, 5-14-14), Singapore (15th, 5-6-13) and Indonesia (17th, 4-5-11), marking the country’s worst-ever finish in the sport since joining the competitions in 1951, with a 1-3-11 gold-silver-bronze medal haul in the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Our basketball team finished seventh among Southeast Asian countries.

After more than four years of the Aquino administration, our sports programs have gone downhill.

* There is an agency under the Office of the President called the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by Richie Garcia, which has government funding.

PNP buying Toyota cars

In his program Dos for Dos, Anthony Taberna reported that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has procured 500 units of Toyota vehicles.

Earlier, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas announced a program to procure 2,000 police cars.

This probably explains why PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima was given a P2 million discount on a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado he acquired.

President Aquino defended PNP chief Alan Purisima as hindi “maluho,” di “matakaw.” Purisima in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) admitted owning several properties and 5 cars, including Toyota Land Cruiser Prado which costs P4 million.

Note that Purisima also owns a Toyota Alphard, a Toyota Hilux and a Toyota Innova.

No viable LP candidate

A major broadsheet headlined Sunday that the Liberal Party (LP) has no viable presidential candidate. Only Interior Secretary Mar Roxas has a less than respectable 13 percent preference vote in the latest September survey of Pulse Asia.

Senate President Franklin Drilon and former Senator Francis Pangilinan received ratings of 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Here comes LP Congressman Edgar Erice saying it is Mar Roxas or Noynoy that will be the LP bet in 2016.

The other persons who registered a double digit vote numbers are Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, with 11 percent; Senator Grace Poe and Mayor Joseph Estrada at 10 percent.

It is unlikely that the LP will adopt anyone of the three runners-up above.

It looks like the most probable LP candidate in 2016 will be Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

The Pulse Asia survey reported Senator Grace Poe as the leading choice for Vice President, with 31 percent of the vote.

Congressman Erice also said the LP will hold a caucus this month to discuss its plans for 2016, including a declaration from President Aquino on his plans for 2016.

Major problem

The power crisis is the number one problem of the Aquino administration. The administration’s proposed solution is a grant to the President of emergency powers.

But up to this point, there is no clear-cut proposal with regard to the extent of emergency powers that the President is requesting.

There is also a debate about how long the emergency powers will be in effect. To begin with, there is a debate as to whether it is needed at all.

One school of thought maintains that the shortfall in 2015 is only 300 megawatts (MW), which can be covered by the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) – that can produce 400MW.

Senator Serge Osmeña, chairman of the committee on energy (COE), adheres to this view that the projected shortage can be covered without a need for emergency powers.

Senator Osmeña also favors a short six-month grant, if ever.

Tidbits

There are still 11,000 persons at the evacuation centers in Zamboanga City.

There are more than 12,000 persons at the Albay evacuation centers.

The Ebola death toll is now 3,400.

Swiss nationals Robert Loever and Baltazar Johann Erni were shot dead by three armed men in Opol, Misamis Oriental.

Three thousand teachers joined a protest rally of the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) pressing for a wage increase.

The Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT) also held a demonstration in front of Malacañang.

EDITORIAL - Criminal negligence (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

Like aircraft and ships, trains and railway systems need proper maintenance. In other countries, railway systems are monitored around the clock for glitches, and sufficient public funds are allocated for maintenance requirements.

As in other countries, taxes in this country have been spent for the maintenance of the Metro Rail Transit and Light Railway Transit systems. The maintenance fees paid over the years to private companies have reached billions of pesos. Taxpayers have a right to demand how the money was spent, who received the money, and why commuters now face the prospect of having the MRT shut down pending a maintenance upgrade.

Even with regular glitches, the MRT and LRT are almost always packed. With the usual traffic jams in Metro Manila aggravated by simultaneous public works projects and the congestion in the Port of Manila, the light railway services have become even more popular. While the train service itself is quick and traffic-free, however, passengers must wait in long lines for nearly an hour to get a ride.

The inadequacy of the service has been evident for some time. Instead of expanding the MRT and LRT lines, however, plans for any upgrade have become bogged down in red tape, paralyzing indecision and corruption scandals.

The daang matuwid administration, quick to condemn and conclude guilt when it comes to the political opposition, trumpets the presumption of innocence when it comes to its officials who are under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman for a multimillion-dollar sweetheart deal for MRT maintenance that was awarded to a group with links to the sacked MRT chief and the Liberal Party. President Aquino also seems to have relegated to the archives the recommendations of the Department of Justice on a $30-million extortion complaint involving a train supply contract for the MRT-3.

The MRT mess betrays a lack of foresight, a cavalier attitude toward the provision of quality service to the public, and downright incompetence. If this catastrophe was also caused by corruption, it’s criminal negligence that calls for punishment.

War survivor; DFA Chief's nightmares SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Ana Marie Pamintuan

When President Aquino travels overseas, the front rows on both sides of a plane aisle have two vacant seats. One is beside him, for the comfort of the Chief Executive.

The other is beside Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, for the comfort – and safety – of other passengers.

Del Rosario has recurring nightmares, and when he does, he can get violent in his sleep. Once, while seated on a plane, Del Rosario woke up to find himself tightly gripping his seatmate Bert Romulo, at the time the foreign secretary, by the shirt collar.

Another time, the sleeping Del Rosario gave his seatmate a karate chop. The seatmate, a businessman, was shaken but unhurt.

The nation’s top diplomat suspects that his nightmares, which include being kidnapped, stem from his ordeal during World War II. He and his sister nearly died at their family home in Sta. Mesa, Manila during the bombardment that obliterated nearly the entire city and left some 100,000 people dead.

The five-year-old Del Rosario was left with a gaping hole in his skull. His three-year-old sister had a chunk of her back torn away. Guerrillas found them but could not rush them to a hospital. Instead they were brought to the empty house of a neighbor who during the war was given refuge by the Del Rosario family when the Japanese were hunting him down – Albino SyCip, father of accounting and law firm founder Washington SyCip.

There the Del Rosario siblings spent the night, bleeding as fighting continued around them. The next day in a Sta. Mesa hospital, Del Rosario sat quietly, too stupefied by the pandemonium and suffering around him to cry out in pain as a doctor stitched together his head, without anesthesia, using abaca fiber. To this day, Del Rosario says, he still remembers vividly the sights and smells in that hospital.

His skull never fully grew back. Today there is a soft spot where the hole used to be in Del Rosario’s head. A few months ago an MRI scan showed shrapnel still floating around in his brain.

Asked by doctors whether the head trauma affected him, Del Rosario replied, “Sometimes my wife thinks I’m going crazy.”

* * *

The Chinese will probably agree, and they may wonder whether P-Noy has a similar hole in the head. The buzz is that Beijing has given up on improving relations with Manila under P-Noy and is instead waiting for him to “graduate” from the presidency before attempting to revive bilateral ties, which are currently in the ICU.

* With China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters, however, it’s doubtful that whoever succeeds P-Noy in 2016 will soften on seeking international involvement in maritime disputes in this part of the world.

Beijing is taking another tack to expand its sphere of influence. It is proposing a Chinese-led counterpart to the World Bank-International Monetary Fund and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), which has always been headed by a Japanese. The proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will have a seed capital of $100 billion, of which half will be put up by who else but the Chinese.

The United States and Japan do not contribute more than 23.5 percent each to the total funds of the ADB. A similar bank to be put up by the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will have equal fund sharing of 20 percent from the five countries; an Indian will be its first head under a rotating basis.

Beijing says the proposal for the AIIB is being supported by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This is news to at least one ASEAN member that is not heavily dependent on the Chinese market: the Philippines.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch with the Chinese, so its $50-billion proffered contribution is sure to have strings attached. Beijing is currently busy trying to keep out the maritime disputes from the agenda of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) this week in Milan, Italy. Beijing is also moving to keep the issue out of the agenda of the ASEAN Regional Forum, which tackles security issues.

Del Rosario is flying to Milan tomorrow, and part of his mission is to keep ASEM aware of the importance of the maritime disputes.

We would hope that the Europeans, who profess to champion human rights, global best practices in trade and other issues as well as freedom of navigation, would send a strong message to China about these values through ASEM. But because most members of the European Union, like some 100 other countries, have China as their top trading partner, maybe Del Rosario will find himself on a quixotic mission.

That isn’t going to stop him from trying. War wounds softened a part of his skull, not his guts. And he can be persistent in working for an objective.

* * *

As a management student in New York, Del Rosario held three jobs to be completely financially independent and pay his way through college.

Like P-Noy, the young Albert loved cars, and used his hard-earned money to buy his first car – a Jaguar used for a year and a half by the previous owner. But he gave up the car to pay for his wedding in Vancouver, Canada to Gretchen de Venecia, the Filipino-German daughter of diplomat Policronio de Venecia, who headed the first Philippine consulate in Hamburg when the country opened formal ties with Germany.

The two had met at Tavern on the Green in Manhattan and dated for a year before the wedding. Gretchen, first cousin of former speaker Joe de V, was working as a designer in a New York fashion atelier.

Now the Cabinet’s richest member, Del Rosario recalls living with his wife and son in 1963 on a food allowance of $2 a week. But he still loved cars, and saved up to buy a brand-new Corvette. In 1964, he became the first Filipino to bring to the Philippines a Volvo; the second one was brought in by Jun Magsaysay.

His nightmares, Del Rosario noticed, were triggered by stress and fatigue. Some years ago, his health problems were aggravated by knees weakened by age. After two surgeries in one knee, the cement used to hold the knee in place somehow found its way to his lungs, made him cough out blood and came close to killing him.

In a discussion over the weekend that shifted between his love life and disputes with the Chinese, Del Rosario said he survived that health crisis, but he has since avoided kneeling down.

Back in 1962 the knees were still fine. Did he propose to Gretchen on bended knees?

“I am not the kneeling type,” Del Rosario replied.

Long shot A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 13, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Jose C. Sison

No matter how hard I try to look for that silver lining beyond our dark political clouds, I just cannot find any trace of it anymore. Right after we had the 2010 presidential elections, said silver lining seemed to be still glimmering behind those foreboding overcast political skies as we supposedly elected a reformist president who has been touted as “personally honest.” Indeed the hopes of a great majority of Filipinos were then rekindled as he promised to lead us to a daang matuwid towards a just, peaceful and prosperous society.

Unfortunately, after four years in office, exactly the opposite of the simmering expectations we nurtured at that time is happening now. The silver lining has completely disappeared. Of course the drumbeaters and people around this President still insist that he is “personally honest.” But his decisions and actions simply say otherwise. Using public funds to influence members of Congress to do his bidding and backing up government officials who are his kabarkada, kaibigan o kabarilan but who have been obviously lying in explaining their newly acquired wealth, are definitely not the acts of a “personally honest” President.

And considering further that the leading contender aiming to succeed this president under our kind of dirty politics and flawed electoral processes also has some shady background, which he has not or cannot satisfactorily erase, the future of our country really looks grim if we continue with the present set-up. Obviously this is the reason for the calling and formation of a National Transformation Council (NTC) by a group of Filipino Catholics and other Christians as well as Muslims.

The NTC which has already been successfully launched in Lipa and Cebu City has correctly assessed the dire situation of our country now and so its convenors are calling for a change in the kind of government we now have. And as an initial step they are asking the entire Aquino government to relinquish their posts.

Under the present legal set up, their moves seem to be so radical and impractical as to be considered desperate. But we cannot really blame them for taking such desperate steps under our present seemingly desperate situation. This is indeed what we need today. We have to change our system of government. It may require a miracle but it can happen with our wholehearted cooperation and with strong faith.

* In this connection, even some of our countrymen now residing in other countries have contributed some suggestions. In fact our countrymen from Canada led by Mr. Guillermo Cunanan have made some suggestion on the change of our government. Mr. Cunanan is proposing a “modified parliamentary system of government that is similar and has the efficiency of the corporate system including an effective system of checks and balances. He said that “corporations bigger than the Philippines, many with worldwide operations, are run efficiently. If “the corporate system is a tried and tested system of running organizations why not use it to run a country? he asked.

According to our Filipino compatriots in Canada, “the corporate set-up combined with a process of indirect elections of members of the parliament through electoral colleges should be able to minimize the problems that put our country on the road to perdition. The proposed electoral process is less costly, less prone to cheating, and more difficult to manipulate. All these features should produce for us more competent and honest leaders which is necessary for efficient and trustworthy governance.”

The suggestion is quite complete and even enumerates the step by step process. Since it cannot be accommodated in this space, let me just highlight some of them.

“At the highest level of government we propose a parliament of only fifteen members which, like the board of a corporation, shall be responsible for setting the direction of the country and for hiring and firing our key government executives. The Parliament shall be the ultimate approving authority for most of the proposals concerning the affairs and direction of the country.

The members of the parliament shall not perform any function that is executive in character. That is exclusively a function that the appointed Executive Minister and the executive body have to perform.

The Parliament shall be the nation’s sole legislative body. It shall approve the laws that are crafted and proposed by either a National Assembly, by the Prime Minister or by the Defense Minister. The Parliament, however, may on its own also initiate the formulation and approval of laws.

(This presupposes that the interim government will re-constitute the country into only fifteen (15) political regions.)

1st step: Each barangay shall elect one representative, who will not hold any other government position, to become a member of the District Electoral College (DEC).

Considering that the electors will not hold any other government position or any executive or legislative power, and therefore they will have no position that will give them the opportunity to recover any election expenses, there won’t be much incentive for the aspirants to spend.

2nd step: Each DEC will then elect an individual (not one from among its members) to be the district nominee to the Parliament.

Since the members of the DEC are aware that their chosen nominee will compete with the best of every other district, they logically will vote for one who is among the best of their district. To choose an incompetent guy who stands no chance of being elected to the Parliament will be a wasteful exercise. This part of the process therefore eliminates the mediocre even though popular aspirants from the race.

3rd step: All the district nominees shall convene regionally to elect among themselves their representative to the Parliament. Each region shall be represented by a member of the Parliament. The political geographic structure shall be realigned to have only 15 regions which will eventually constitute the 15 States in a Federal government.

Apparently the NTC action and this suggestion can be considered a long shot. But it may be worth taking in the dying seconds of the game.

Terror and Ebola threat BABE’S EYE VIEW By Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 12, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0


Babe Romualdez

Credible information on a potential terror threat to bomb Metro Manila has ostensibly been transmitted to local authorities by US intelligence agencies. But as might be expected, it is only now that we’re preparing for such an eventuality – being reactive instead of showing preparedness. The US Embassy has already warned its citizens in the country to be extremely cautious especially in crowded areas.

Presumably, the main targets would be places like malls, markets and airports where more often than not security is a bit lax with guards just doing a cursory search on bags. Schools could become likely targets as well considering reports that some schools in Metro Manila have already received bomb threats.

Not for anything but a lot of people are furious at what they perceive as “denial mode” from authorities who said they received no information about plans to bomb Metro Manila — despite the recent apprehension of three suspected bombers. Reports from several sources also indicate that the ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) has been actively recruiting students in Mindanao — and Intelligence information indicates that “test runs” are conducted to assess the readiness of new recruits.

Unfortunately, not many share the confidence of Malacañang about the ability of the PNP to thwart terror threats or to even “pre-empt any criminal activities” due to perceptions that the police are unreliable, with many of them implicated in criminal activities. The thing is — PNP Director General Alan Purisima is currently distracted by corruption issues. There is no substitute for vigilance and no excuse for complacency. Nowadays, one can never be too sure about the face of terror, because even innocuous looking people turn out to be terrorist operatives.

Another major and serious concern is the health threat posed by the Ebola virus, with the US and Canadian authorities already conducting stricter screening measures in all their major airports. The global death toll is almost 3,900 with over 8,000 people infected — and there are fears that Ebola could spread to Spain and other European countries after confirmation that a Spanish nurse had been infected.

World Bank chief Jim Kim has expressed disappointment over the international community’s insufficient response to the lethal virus, warning that the crisis could get worse. Hindsight always happens after the fact, and Kim is lamenting that more organized efforts could have been made for vigilant monitoring when the first cases were reported.

* In the Philippines, the Department of Health spearheaded the National Ebola Virus Disease Summit the other day to raise awareness about the deadly disease, and to figure out ways to prevent its spread in case the virus reaches our shores. The DOH has also issued guidelines to hospitals including isolation procedures and infection control, and people are hoping hospitals and health institutions would be prepared for the disease described by the World Health Organization as a public health emergency of international concern.

We certainly hope Dr. Ona is on top of the situation considering that we have an estimated 13 million overseas Filipino workers deployed in many parts of the world including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea — countries in West Africa where the disease is described as well-entrenched and growing “exponentially.”

A lot of OFWs are expected to come home for the Christmas holidays and one difficulty — aside from the uncertainty about the capability of airport personnel in screening potential virus carriers — is that people could lie like Thomas Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the US and who died in Dallas Wednesday. Duncan reportedly lied in a questionnaire if he had been in contact with anyone affected by Ebola. Apparently, the Spanish nurse also failed to disclose that she had been in direct contact with an Ebola patient.

Just think what would happen if an OFW, who has unknowingly been exposed to Ebola came home for the holidays, receives an influx of visiting friends and relatives from many parts of the country. As usual, Filipino humor comes into play in the face of a serious crisis with people joking: “Metro Manila’s deadly pollution would kill the most fatal virus on earth — including the one known as ‘eh bola’.”

Perceived selective justice

People are asking what it is about PNP Director General Alan Purisima that even feared tax Chief Kim Henares seems to be pulling her punches, saying she will not conduct a lifestyle check on the beleaguered police chief whose biggest defender has been Malacañang.

While Senators Sonny Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano have been going hammer and tongs against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family at the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearing, Palace spokespersons have thumbed down a separate probe on Purisima and his questionable Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth or SALN.

Everyone knows the SALN was the ultimate weapon used during the impeachment of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona, and a lot of people couldn’t help but think that Corona’s accusations that he was selectively targeted has a ring of truth in it.

In any case, the only way to properly resolve these issues would be through the courts. Aside from the fact that the accused will be able to defend themselves in the right venue, this would prevent the perception of “selective justice” and downplay suspicions that some Senate investigations are really in aid of politics — not legislation. The “bosses” have spoken — 70 percent of Filipinos said they do not agree to proposals that limit the powers of the Supreme Court to review Executive decisions — which observers note is an indication that people are getting concerned that the administration’s “straight path” could be following a “crooked path.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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