MANILA BULLETIN EDITORIAL/OPINION

EDITORIAL -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VICE PRESIDENT JEJOMAR C. BINAY! 

NOVE 10---PHOTO: Jejomar C. Binay / MB file photo ---Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is celebrating his 72nd birth anniversary on November 11, 2014. He assumed office as 15th Vice President of the Philippines, the first local executive elected to the post, on June 30, 2010. As Vice President, he was appointed presidential adviser for overseas Filipinos and the housing sector in the Aquino Cabinet. He is chairman of the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council and Pag-IBIG Fund. He heads Task Force OFW that attends to the needs of overseas Filipino workers. He is national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. He is president of the United Nationalist Alliance. READ FULL EDITORIAL

ALSO Editorial: The human tragedy of Ebola

We are fortunate that the Filipino UN Peacekeepers who returned recently from Liberia were not in any direct contact with any Ebola patient during their stay in that country. Otherwise, we would all be doubly worried about the health of the 108 men who arrived the other day and are now on Caballo island at the mouth of Manila Bay. READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO Opinion by Jullie Yap Daza : Never again  

Samar after Super Typhoon Yolanda / MB file photo ---For the people of the Visayas whose lives would never be the same, their worst day was Nov. 8, 2013. For the President of the Philippines, his worst day was Nov. 9, 2013. (Since that day, we have to wonder how many babies were born whose parents dared to name them Yolanda?) My heart (usually a soft one) went out to President Aquino when the critics who make his bachelor’s life less lonely on a daily basis attacked him for choosing Guiuan in Samar instead of Tacloban City to commemorate the first anniversary of the most devastating super-typhoon in recorded history. READ FULL COLUMN

ALSO Editorial: Time to move on?  

The Senate – like the rest of the nation – appears divided on whether to continue with the Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation of Vice President Jejomar Binay, which started when Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called for an inquiry into an allegedly overpriced Makati building built when Binay was mayor of the city 20 years ago. Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the other day that the hearing has only gone 50 percent of the way, while Senator Trillanes estimated that the hearing may last up to April next year. The two have teamed up with Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chairman of the subcommittee, in the Binay investigation. On the other hand, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the Pimentel subcommittee has already gathered enough evidence and asked that it now stop its proceedings and “endorse the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.”  READ FULL EDITORIAL ...

ALSO by Former Senator Atty. Rene Espina: WAO, Lanao del Sur wants out of Bangsamoro  

Last month from the people of the municipality of Wao, Lanao del Sur, I received a letter with a manifesto together with its attachments. They had organized a movement called “Lihok WAO,” which means “movement of the community of Wao, whose thrust is environmental protection and social transformation.” The letter-manifesto was signed by its Chairperson Edna Espinosa and several other persons of Wao who are too numerous to mention. They asked me to “support our struggle for the exclusion of our town Wao, Lanao del Sur, from the envisioned Bangsamoro entity.” The manifesto appeals to the “Honorable President, His Excellency, Benigno Aquino III, through Honorable Manuel Araneta Roxas, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Honorable Senator Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., Chair, Committee on Local Government, to exclude the municipality of Wao, Lanao del Sur from the Bangsamoro entity.”  As one who is concerned about the defects of the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), and the serious consequences to our country if such a law is passed, I believe that I should give the people of Wao an opportunity to be heard through this column. READ FULL COLUMN...

ALSO by Senator Manny Villar:  Highlighting the human side of disaster recovery

The first step, of course, is to continue identifying bodies, to provide closure to those they left behind. Second, the government and the private sector should join efforts in providing the survivors a place to go, to honor their departed. Doctors should be deployed in the disaster areas to cope with mental health problems. The private sector, for its part, may organize support groups which will provide venues for survivors to open their hearts and share their experiences, under the guidance of experts. In my view, this should be a permanent component of disaster rehabilitation and recovery efforts. After all, the Philippines is recognized as the country most exposed to tropical cyclones, with about 20 typhoons visiting the country every year. At least two caused massive loss of lives in recent years. In December, 2011, about 957 died and 49 others were reported missing, mostly in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City, when typhoon Sendong struck Mindanao and triggered massive floods. A year later, in December, 2012, more than 1,000 died when typhoon Pablo struck. READ FULL COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING...

(ALSO) Information: Philippines, Asia’s leader in gender equality

The Philippines is Asia’s best performing country in closing the gender gap. It is the only country in Asia-Pacific that has fully closed gender disparity in education and health, garnering 0.781 points, according to the Global Gender Gap 2014 report of World Economy Forum (WEF), released on October 29, 2014. At 9th place out of 142 surveyed countries, the Philippines was best placed in Southeast Asia, followed by Singapore (59), Thailand (61), Vietnam (76), Indonesia (97), and Brunei (98). In the top 10 of most gender-equal countries, along with the Philippines, are: Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Ireland, and Belgium. Since WEF began the report in 2006, the Philippines has been in top 10 list. READ FULL REPORT....


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Celebration: Happy Birthday, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay!


Vice President Jejomar C. Binay

MANILA, NOVEMBER 17, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) Vice President Jejomar C. Binay is celebrating his 72nd birth anniversary on November 11, 2014. He assumed office as 15th Vice President of the Philippines, the first local executive elected to the post, on June 30, 2010.

Earlier, he was officer-in-charge of Makati City after the historic EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986, and was elected mayor serving from 1986 to 1998 and again from 2001 to 2010. He served as governor of Metro Manila in 1987 and was elected by Metro Manila mayor’s chairman of Metropolitan Manila Authority, now Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), serving from 1990 to 1992. He was appointed MMDA chairman in 1998.

As Vice President, he was appointed presidential adviser for overseas Filipinos and the housing sector in the Aquino Cabinet. He is chairman of the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council and Pag-IBIG Fund. He heads Task Force OFW that attends to the needs of overseas Filipino workers. He is national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. He is president of the United Nationalist Alliance.

An only child born in Paco, Manila, in 1942 to Diego and Lourdes Cabuatan Binay, he was orphaned at an early age. He worked his way as a working student, studied at Philippine Normal University, University of the Philippines (UP) Preparatory High School, and obtained his Bachelor of Political Science in 1963 and Bachelor of Laws in 1967 at UP Diliman. He passed the Bar in 1968, took up his Master’s in Public Administration and Law at UP and University of Santo Tomas in 1980-, and at National Defense College of the Philippines. He received his honorary Doctor of Public Administration from Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in 1992.

He was a senior executive fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and completed the International Housing Program at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He taught law, political science, and public administration at PUP, Philippine Women’s University, and St. Scholastica’s College. He provided free legal aid to poor litigants and human rights victims as member of the Free Legal Assistance Group, and in two organizations he co-founded – the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, and Nationalism and the August Twenty-One Movement.

He received several awards: Outstanding MMDA Chairman, Award on Luzon Campaign Medal, Special Presidential Award for Service, Leadership Award, Presidential Citation, Most Outstanding City Mayor of Makati, Consumers Advocate Award, UP Oblation Run Award, Centennial Medal of Honor, Outstanding Public Official and Great Achiever, and World Mayor Award by the London-based City Mayors.

Vice President Binay is married to Dr. Elenita Sombillo Binay, and they have five children: Sen. Maria Lourdes Nancy, 2nd District Makati Rep. Mar-Len Abigail, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Jr., Marita Angeline, and Joanna Marie.


Editorial: The human tragedy of Ebola November 17, 2014 Share this:

From the three West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the Ebola epidemic appears to have jumped across the border north to Mali. There, an imam and the nurse looking after him were reported to have died and everyone in the clinic where he had been treated are now all under close quarantine. These are 30 people, half of them medical staff and patients. The other half are 15 United Nations Peacekeepers assigned to a mission in Mali.

We are fortunate that the Filipino UN Peacekeepers who returned recently from Liberia were not in any direct contact with any Ebola patient during their stay in that country. Otherwise, we would all be doubly worried about the health of the 108 men who arrived the other day and are now on Caballo island at the mouth of Manila Bay.

Ebola is such a dangerous disease that spreads through direct contact with a patient, through body fluids such as sweat and blood. Thus the need for doctors and nurses to be totally covered from head to toe – protective gear which we still do not have. Hospital personnel in the centers assigned to receive any Filipino Ebola patient have complained that the protective gear they were issued while in training had openings in the neck and face.

The ability of the Ebola virus to easily jump from one person to another by mere touch is said to be one of the main causes of the spread of the disease in West Africa. Traditional African funeral rites, it is said, call for surviving family members to pay due honor to a departed member, apparently including some touching. God forbid that we should ever have an Ebola case in our country, but should there be one, how can a Filipino mother not hold her child one last time?

The precautions taken by our Armed Forces in quarantining our returned UN Peacekeepers for 21 days on Caballo island may seem excessive to some, since they had all been already cleared by UN doctors before leaving Liberia. But we must accept them. The statistics are ominous enough – 5,160 deaths already and 14,000 cases worldwide. But more than the figures is the human element. No less than the people of West Africa, we have our own Filipino culture of love and respect for our loved ones, Ebola victims or not.


Opinion: Never again by Jullie Yap Daza November 10, 2014 Share this:


Samar after Super Typhoon Yolanda / MB file photo

For the people of the Visayas whose lives would never be the same, their worst day was Nov. 8, 2013. For the President of the Philippines, his worst day was Nov. 9, 2013. (Since that day, we have to wonder how many babies were born whose parents dared to name them Yolanda?)

Months later, in 2014, the appointment of Ping Lacson as Cabinet secretary in charge of the rehabilitation of the so-called Yolanda corridor was to become his most challenging job yet.

We thought crafting a master plan of 8,000 pages calling for the cooperation of four Cabinet clusters working for the benefit of 1.6 million displaced families and the surviving kin of 6,000 dead and more than 1,700 missing was going to be a mission impossible.

Now the gauntlet has been picked up by Vice President Jojo Binay, whose assignment is to begin building houses and rebuild the lives of the people of 17 provinces in 6 regions – a swath of islands 470 km wide from end to end.

My heart (usually a soft one) went out to President Aquino when the critics who make his bachelor’s life less lonely on a daily basis attacked him for choosing Guiuan in Samar instead of Tacloban City to commemorate the first anniversary of the most devastating super-typhoon in recorded history.

All it would’ve taken his media office to do was point out that Guiuan had a special significance because it was the first to be hit by Yolanda.

For the record, Yolanda made six landfalls in 24 hours – like being swiped by six typhoons of 250-kph winds in one day, such that two hours was all that was needed to “rip apart Tacloban,” quoting from a Discovery Channel documentary.

Guiuan had prepared its people for the onslaught of a typhoon, but they had never heard of a new phenomenon that scientists called a storm surge.

 Now we know what those two words mean, now we have learned some painful and even horrific lessons.

And still I cannot explain how international correspondents like Anderson Cooper and Andrew Stevens were able to land in the wasteland and begin broadcasting immediately – in itself a miracle – when government workers, with their airplanes, helicopters, trucks, and other paraphernalia and equipment, kept pleading that they could not penetrate ground zero.


Editorial: Time to move on? November 12, 2014 Share this:

The Senate – like the rest of the nation – appears divided on whether to continue with the Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigation of Vice President Jejomar Binay, which started when Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called for an inquiry into an allegedly overpriced Makati building built when Binay was mayor of the city 20 years ago.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the other day that the hearing has only gone 50 percent of the way, while Senator Trillanes estimated that the hearing may last up to April next year. The two have teamed up with Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chairman of the subcommittee, in the Binay investigation.

On the other hand, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the Pimentel subcommittee has already gathered enough evidence and asked that it now stop its proceedings and “endorse the matter to the Office of the Ombudsman.”

Vice President Binay himself has charged that the investigation‘s real purpose is to cut down the tremendous lead he has long enjoyed in surveys on the nation’s presidential preferences in 2016. Binay’s lead of 41 percent in June had gone down to 31 percent in September and could go down even furher. A survey by another organization last week, however, said the slide had not gone as much as feared – only down to 29 percent. Binay was still the leading presidential candidate, way above the second-place 13 percent.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee as a whole invited the Vice President to appear before it – no longer before the subcommittee of Pimentel – but Binay declined the invitation, saying it would set a bad precedent if senators could subject the Vice President to indignities in a Senate hearing. He opted for a one-on-one public debate with Trillanes tentatively set for Feb. 27, but this too has now been cancelled. With no further public forum in sight, only the judicial process remains.

Even President Aquino has declined to make any decision about Binay as a Cabinet member. After the Vice President aired some critical remarks about the administration, the President said Binay was free to leave the Cabinet. But the Vice President quickly said he had the greatest respect for the President and would continue to be a “team player.” The next day, the President assigned him to lead the housing program for the survivors of super-typhoon Yolanda.

Under the circumstances, it may be best to heed Senator Santiago’s recommendation that the case be turned over to the Office of the Ombudsman. There are other issues that need the Senate’s attention — the Malampaya Fund, for example, the complaints of still-homeless Yolanda victims, the many other pork barrel cases involving other legislators and Janet Lim Napoles, etc. Soon, even these very important cases will be forgotten as the campaign for 2016 begins in earnest.


WAO wants out of Bangsamoro by Former Senator Atty. Rene Espina November 11, 2014 Share this:


By Former Senator Atty. Rene Espina

Last month from the people of the municipality of Wao, Lanao del Sur, I received a letter with a manifesto together with its attachments.

They had organized a movement called “Lihok WAO,” which means “movement of the community of Wao, whose thrust is environmental protection and social transformation.”

The letter-manifesto was signed by its Chairperson Edna Espinosa and several other persons of Wao who are too numerous to mention. They asked me to “support our struggle for the exclusion of our town Wao, Lanao del Sur, from the envisioned Bangsamoro entity.”

The manifesto appeals to the “Honorable President, His Excellency, Benigno Aquino III, through Honorable Manuel Araneta Roxas, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Honorable Senator Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., Chair, Committee on Local Government, to exclude the municipality of Wao, Lanao del Sur from the Bangsamoro entity.”

As one who is concerned about the defects of the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), and the serious consequences to our country if such a law is passed, I believe that I should give the people of Wao an opportunity to be heard through this column.

From the documents that were sent to me, the following facts are revealed:

1) That there are 26 Barangays in Wao, with 16 barangays where there are no Maranaws at all, and in all the barangays the Christians are in the majority.

2) Out of a total population of 40,479 inhabitants, there are only 6,801 Maranaws. And the rest are Christians numbering 33,678. Wao with an area of 35,000 hectares more or less is the only Christian municipality of Lanao del Sur. It is landlocked and is sandwiched between the provinces of Bukidnon and Cotabato.

3) Almost all national government agencies have offices in Wao – from DA, DAR, Highway Patrol Group, LTFRB, CENRO, etc.

4) Commercial, industrial institutions etc., are the following: Globe, Philpost, Landbank, Lhuilliers, First Bukidnon Electric, transportation companies, pension houses, etc.

5) Christian denominations: Roman Catholic Church, Fundamental Baptist Church, Bible Baptist Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventist, etc., 6) The municipal officials are all Christians except one councilor.

I noticed that in the “whereas’s” in the manifesto, the Christians complained that in the consultation process for the BBL which was supposed to be extensive, only five Christians were invited and they were not given ample time to express their concerns.

Furthermore the manifesto signers expressed their fears that even today before the BBL was passed, some Muslims have already threatened them, that when the law is passed, the Muslims will take over all the lands that the Christian settlers own.

Thus in brief we have tried to inform our readers of the municipal profile of Wao, including its social, political realities and the concerns of the majority of the population. Indeed what will our honorable members of Congress do to solve the problems of the people of Wao?

In the newly minted Bangsamoro proposal, there are many people residing in the area who are not Bangsamoro, not only because they do not fall under the definition of who is Bangsamoro, but also because Christians cannot be called Moros.

The word has gained a historical meaning which means Muslim.

Indeed the BBL has to be scrutinized by Congress with a “fine-toothed comb” in order to remove many of its constitutional infirmities.


Highlighting the human side of disaster recovery by Senator Manny Villar November 11, 2014 Share this:


by Senator Manny Villar

This year’s commemoration of the dead has become the longest and perhaps the most significant ever. First, it went beyond the usual two-day period, and second, it highlighted the plight of the survivors of super- typhoon Yolanda, which struck Central Visayas on November 8, 2013.

It was the world’s strongest typhoon that ever made landfall, and one of the most destructive for the Philippines, particularly in terms of the number of casualties. The government has stopped counting fatalities, which stood at 6,283 as of April 11, 2014. But 1,061 are still listed as missing, so the number of fatalities will likely continue to go up, as bodies turn up in different places.

The magnitude of the damage caused by the typhoon, which triggered a massive storm surge, will require huge investments to rebuild infrastructure and other public facilities and help the region’s predominantly agricultural economy to start again.

The government has adopted a P170.7-billion comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery plan for the Yolanda-affected areas. Foreign governments, international agencies, and the private sector (both foreign and domestic) contributed and continue to send funds and in-kind assistance to help in the rehabilitation and recovery efforts, which will last several years.

This is the physical side of the rehabilitation and recovery efforts, which will pave the way for the normalization of the conditions in the disaster-affected areas, so that children can go back to school, their parents to earning their livelihood and businesses to their regular operations.

These are all important, but it is also important to address the human side of recovery. True, children may be able to resume their studies and surviving parents may go back to work, but the suffering continues in each child who lost his father or mother, and in each parent who lost a child. Worst, they may still be searching for the remains of their loved ones.

During the days prior to November 1 and for a week thereafter, the plight of the survivors became a regular portion of the daily news programs of the major television networks. I watched the faces of the survivors who were interviewed, and all were teary-eyed as they recalled their experience and expressed their grief, even though one year has passed since the tragedy.

Relatives of two young orphans narrated how the two had withdrawn from interacting with other people, and had lost the enthusiasm for life and the vibrancy of youth. In another report, a child’s grief was worsened by the fact that she did not even have a picture of her parents, who were both swept away by the massive storm surge triggered by the typhoon.

These are not isolated cases. “More than 14 million people continue to be affected by the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda…,” according to a report dated March, 2014, of the Philippine representative office of the World Health Organization (WHO). Titled “Providing mental health and psychosocial support in typhoon affected areas,” the report said that long after the period of emergency, “storm survivors are likely to be faced with a range of mental health concerns.”

The WHO noted that during natural disasters, “the number of people with mental disorders is estimated to increase by 6 to 11 percent. Beyond mental disorders, people in emergency situations also often experience psychosocial problems that cannot be quantified,” the WHO added in its report.

I hope the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis will highlight and trigger a joint effort by the government and the private sector to address the mental health problems of the disaster survivors.

The first step, of course, is to continue identifying bodies, to provide closure to those they left behind. Second, the government and the private sector should join efforts in providing the survivors a place to go, to honor their departed.

Doctors should be deployed in the disaster areas to cope with mental health problems. The private sector, for its part, may organize support groups which will provide venues for survivors to open their hearts and share their experiences, under the guidance of experts.

In my view, this should be a permanent component of disaster rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

After all, the Philippines is recognized as the country most exposed to tropical cyclones, with about 20 typhoons visiting the country every year. At least two caused massive loss of lives in recent years. In December, 2011, about 957 died and 49 others were reported missing, mostly in Cagayan de Oro City and Iligan City, when typhoon Sendong struck Mindanao and triggered massive floods. A year later, in December, 2012, more than 1,000 died when typhoon Pablo struck.


Information: Philippines, Asia’s leader in gender equality November 11, 2014 Share this:

The Philippines is Asia’s best performing country in closing the gender gap. It is the only country in Asia-Pacific that has fully closed gender disparity in education and health, garnering 0.781 points, according to the Global Gender Gap 2014 report of World Economy Forum (WEF), released on October 29, 2014.

At 9th place out of 142 surveyed countries, Philippines was best placed in Southeast Asia, followed by Singapore (59), Thailand (61), Vietnam (76), Indonesia (97), and Brunei (98). In the top 10 of most gender-equal countries, along with the Philippines, are: Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Ireland, and Belgium. Since WEF began the report in 2006, the Philippines has been in top 10 list.

The report, now on its 9th year, assessed 142 countries on how well they divide resources and opportunities between their male and female populations.

It tracked the strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness.

As women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women, it said.

The report measured gender inequality in four areas – Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Political Empowerment, and Health and Survival.

The Philippines was second to Norway on the ability of women to rise to positions of leadership and enterprise, and has the highest percentage of firms with female participation in the ownership.

Overall, the report said, gender equality was improving worldwide, with 105 countries becoming more equal since 2006 and health and education access being the most egalitarian globally.

The report showed most improvements were in women’s participation in politics; much of progress on gender equality over the last 10 years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce. Achieving gender equality is important for economic reasons, the WEF said, noting that only those economies who have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper.

The Philippine Commission on Women, the lead agency for promoting women’s empowerment, human rights, and gender equality, welcomed the report, saying that the coalesced efforts of government, nongovernment organizations, civil society groups, and academe have been putting the Philippines in the top 10 list.

There must be no room for complacency; there’s a lot of work to be done particularly in fulfillment of women’s participation and of representation in all spheres of society, it said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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